Destiny and Development: A Review of The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster

sacrificeTitle: The Reluctant Sacrifice
Author: Kerr-Ann Dempster
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: August 17th, 2015
Kindle Edition: 263 Pages
Source: Author

Centuries ago, sibling rivalry tore Aramith apart. As punishment, the losers were stripped of their immortal birthright and banished to Earth. There, they wasted away from old age and diseases. However, there is hope…

If a Shaw child, born on the 12th day of the 12th month offers her soul in a public sacrifice, then the exiles will be forgiven and welcomed home to Aramith.

Aubrey Shaw is that child, but dying for the exiles is not on her to-do list. Using her gift as a Jumper, Aubrey leaps between bodies to escape relentless shape-shifting hunters. Only, shedding her skin is not enough. Not when Joshua, her best-friend-turned-hunter, is hell-bent on dragging her to the altar.

Will Aubrey’s love for Joshua change his mind?

Or, will she have to trust the scarred stranger who shows up out of the blue cloaked in lies and secrets? Doing so means giving up on Joshua. But betting on Joshua’s love could do more than break her heart.

It could kill her. 

“I want to pour myself into you and watch you fill up with pleasure, until the need for air and food forces us apart. But that is not all I want. When I look at you, I see sunsets and laughter. I see a freaking lifetime of flesh memories that’ll make me forget the days before we met.”

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  

I only meant to read a chapter or two before I fell asleep. It was 4:30 in the morning, after all, I should’ve been asleep. After every chapter, I told myself “Just one more”. Then 8:30 rolled around and there were no more chapters. I had consumed the entire novel in four hours. There was no avoiding it. The Reluctant Sacrifice sucked me and refused to let go.

I often find myself complaining about stagnant main characters, but this engaging and fast paced read featured a loveable main character. Watching Aubrey grow over the course of the book was a joy. She went from scared and running to standing her ground and facing her fears. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the antagonists. The conflict between Morgan and Aubrey is odd, drama-filled, and confusing. This is likely to be remedied in the sequel from Morgan’s perspective that is slated for release next year. I just wish there had been more depth to the character prior to her point of view debut.

The story was pretty straight forward, easy to follow, and character driven, all things I love. I wish the author had gone into more detail about the Aramithian culture. Since the vast majority of the book took place in human cities, the world the antagonists are fighting to save gets pushed aside. As a result the ending is rushed and many things are left unexplained.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone that wants a quick and easy fantasy read with a satisfying romance. However, don’t pay too much attention to the world building, since it is sadly lacking.



Let’s Play Thursday: Monsterhearts by Joe Mcdaldno

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Thursday is tabletop night. It is sacred. Every week we do the exact same thing: tacos and banter followed by hours of plot breaking, character building fun. Now I am going to share that tradition with you.

Welcome to Let’s PlayThursday! Come geek out with me each week as I share some of my favorite games.

monsterTitle: Monsterhearts
Author: Joe Mcdaldno
Genre: Roleplaying Games / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal
Publisher: Buried Without Ceremony
Publication Date: 2012

From Goodreads:
A roleplaying game about the messy lives of teenage monsters.

Monsterhearts lets you and your friends create stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. When you play, you explore the terror and confusion that comes both with growing up and feeling like a monster.

Based on the Apocalypse World engine, this is a game with emergent story, messy relationships, a structured MC role, and a focus on hard choices.

It’s designed to evoke stories like True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ginger Snaps or The Twilight Saga. If you like supernatural romances, or stories of monstrosity and personal horror, or if you just like watching sexy people ruin their lives, then you’ll love this game

“You play because you have a guilty attraction to supernatural beasts and harlequin love stories, but you harbour the secret presumption that you could write them way better yourself. Good. This is your opportunity to prove it.” ― Joe Mcdaldno, Monsterhearts

Guess what? You can write it better! Play your favorite fantasy character and watch the future you wanted for them unfold before your eyes. Or, write your own characters and create an even more fascinating world with your best friends.

I have played this game a couple of times, and it is amazing! I was the MC (or Game Master) both times and the fact that there was really no prep work on my part made the game feel lightweight and easy. Monsterhearts puts an emphasis on character development and player involvement that makes the MC’s job effortless and enjoyable. Add in the lightweight system and you are basically sitting around the table writing stories with your friends. What could possibly be better than that?

Character creation is also a breeze. Each player chooses a skin from the many available options and then customizes it according to the simple rules. After the players have completed their alter egos party ties are created so your new baby vamp can begin high school with friends (and enemies). Are you the queen bee? The outsider? Who do you sit next to in homeroom? Monsterhearts leaves nothing unexplored.

My only issue was my own fault. Our group was bigger than the game suggests. While you can absolutely accommodate more than four players (not including the MC) it can get a little hectic. The game moves at the pace of the players and mine talk a mile a minute. If I wasn’t accustomed to listening to six people at once I would have been lost. In the future, I would restrict my table to four. Lesson learned.

A succubus, witch, and a vampire are late for class. This sounds like the beginning of a horrible joke, and it could be. Monsterhearts has the potential to be the funniest game you have ever played or the most dramatic. Build your characters and watch them get into trouble with the principle, the police, or demonic forces they can’t comprehend. It can be Trueblood or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You choose. But don’t forget the most important question. Who will be the Homecoming Queen?


Not my Lex Luthor: A Review of Boundary Crossed by Melissa F. Olson

crossedTitle: Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic #1)
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: 47north
Publication Date: May 1, 2015
Kindle Edition: 302 pages
Source: Kindle First

After her twin sister’s brutal murder, former US Army Sergeant Allison “Lex” Luther vowed to protect her niece, Charlie. So when two vampires try to kidnap the baby, it quickly turns into a fight to the death—Lex’s death, that is.

She wakes up to two shocking discoveries: she has miraculously survived the fight, and baby Charlie is a “null,” gifted with the ability to weaken supernatural forces…and a target for creatures who want to control that power. Determined to guarantee her niece’s safety, Lex makes a deal with the local vampires. She sets out with the mysterious—and undead—“fixer” Quinn to track down whoever’s responsible for the kidnapping, sharpening her newfound magic skills along the way. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her powers become.

Boundary Crossed is a dark, thrilling journey into a world where the line between living and dead isn’t nearly as solid as it appears…

“The third time I died was early on a Monday morning, a week after Labor Day.”

The opening line of Boundary Crossed is, by far, the high point of the novel. Olson does a great job of capturing your attention in the first chapter, but I found my interest waning in chapter two. From there it plateaus into a flawed but easy read, allowing you to relax and enjoy the Benny Hill sketch that is Boundary Crossed complete with vampires, secret witches and whispers of werewolves.

The character of Lex Luther has so much potential. Unfortunately, she fails to live up to her borrowed name. Olson could have told the story of a troubled character struggling to deal with the ghosts of her past as well as the vampires of her present. Instead, we read the tale of a woman who seems to be awfully well adjusted for having died three times and served two terms in the US Army.

I expected a character who was still trying to hold her life together only to have it thrown back into chaos when her niece it kidnaped. Olson delivers on the chaos, but from the point of view of a character who barely reacts to being thrown into a car by a person she just met. It seems to me that that author was too caught up in writing a strong heroine that she failed to make the character feel whole.

Unfortunately, Lex is not the only character who feels underdeveloped. The entire roster of supporting characters suffer a similar fate. Though, I must admit that supporting characters in a series may develop more over time. The main character, on the other hand, should have felt more complete from the start.

But the book wasn’t all bad; the fast paced plot is often fun and engaging, with few lulls, and there is a bit of romance that I suspect will progress further as the series continues. If you are looking for something fun and fast, this new series might just be right up your alley, but remember, don’t look at the first installment with too much scrutiny, or you might be disappointed.