Books!, Signal Boost

Banned Books Week 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Once again we find ourselves at the time of year to celebrate Banned Books Week, and like every previous year, I like to write up a little post to talk about the occasion. You can find out a lot more information by checking out the Banned Books Week site or by checking out the Banned Books Week section of the ALA(American Library Association)’s site.

Banned Books Week is the annual celebration by libraries, publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers, to celebrate the Freedom to Read. There are a number of different events being held all over at libraries and bookstores, so check out your local ones to see what might be going on near you. Banned Books Week was started back in the 1980s, in response to the increased challenges and protests, including a 1982 Supreme Court case (Island Trees School District v. Pico) which ruled that school officials can’t ban books simply because of their content.

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Each year a list is released of the top 10 most challenged books for the previous year. Take note of the reasons these books are challenged. I feel like most of these books are challenged by a small yet very vocal group of people, and the sad fact is that for a vast majority of these challenges, the person asking for the removal of the book from libraries and/or schools actually has not picked up the book. They are going off of the summary and/or what they might have heard about the book.

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There are a lot of popular books that find themselves on this challenged/banned list, and I have talked about them in a previous post. This topic is one that I feel like I need to talk about each year, so you can find my posts from 2016 and 2017 at these links. I also have a Banned Books Recommendations post, which I definitely recommend.

And the ALA’s Banned Books Week Web site also includes a bunch of handy dandy infographics, which I think are cool to include. They give a quick glimpse at why books are challenged, where they are challenged, and more.

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So this might not be my longest post, but I still think it is absolutely an important one. As members of the book community, we pretty much have a responsibility to fight against censorship. If a book has content you don’t want to read, then that’s fine. The sensible solution is to just not buy/borrow/read that book. Don’t ruin the reading fun for others just because you don’t agree with the content of a book.

That’s like saying that because you don’t like hamburgers that nobody else should have access to hamburgers. Not cool.

On another somewhat unrelated note, I am getting pretty near to 500 followers on my blog –THANK YOU ALL–and I have always had it in mind that I will be doing a giveaway when I reach that point. So when I reach 500 followers I will be uploading a post with details on how one of you awesome people can win $25 worth of books from Book Depository.

I do believe that is all from me today. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Signal Boost, Writing

Plans for the Rest of 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

I am making some plans for the remainder of 2018, and I really need your help to follow through with some of them…well, one in particular. So thanks for reading this post, and as a warning, it may get a little ramble-filled. We’ll see.

Anyway, my first planning category is obviously reading. My current Goodreads Reading Challenge goal is 100 books, but seeing as how I have finished 93 books already this year, I’m thinking I’ll need to increase this goal a little bit. I’m going to be a little conservative, and probably bump my goal up to 120 books.

Next up for my plans over the next few months is blogging, naturally. I’m doing pretty good with having my Wrap-Up/TBR post each month, as well as my Calendar Girls post each month, so those are definitely sticking around. I also plan to continue with my What I’m Reading posts each Wednesday. They are pretty easy to put together little by little through the week. Since I’m still reading quite a few volumes of manga, it is likely that I will be able to continue with my Manga Monday reviews (with the exception of the first Monday of each month, which is the Calendar Girls post day). What I hope to do is to also have one other post each week, whether that is a review or a book tag or something. Most likely reviews, because those are really starting to pile up on me.

Finally…here is the part where I need your help. Writing. I used to write all the time, working on drafting novels and then edit them, with the hope of publishing. I have been in a pretty big writer’s block for the past couple years, at least when it comes to creative writing. The truth is that I really miss writing. But now that I’ve spent so long not writing regularly, I’m struggling to get back into it. I just stare at my notebooks or my word document on my computer…and nothing happens.

So my plan is to spend the next six weeks trying to do some planning and preparation. Maybe some writing exercises to try to get used to creative writing again. Then, in November, I will participate in NaNoWriMo again. The last couple years I have still completed the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November, but a lot of it has been forcing out words that honestly end up being 90% garbage.

That’s where I need your help. I need people to keep me accountable for my writing. People who will bug me in comments here on the blog and/or on social media. I need people to ask how my writing is going, and to keep asking me.

What I’d like to do is to start writing this novel I’ve been dreaming of for a little over a year now. Ideally I would write at least 50,000 words in November and then keep writing in December and on until I finish the novel.

I’ll probably try to do a couple writing posts between now and the start of NaNoWriMo (with some more random writing posts throughout this writing process). One of those posts will likely be some vague chatter about this novel that I plan on writing with a reader survey included.

So, can you help me out, my lovely online book friends?

Thanks for reading, everyone, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Graphic Novel, Manga, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading (31)

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I have quite a bit to talk about with today’s post, because I have had an excellent week of reading. And I was even pretty busy with traveling time and also time spent running around the Ohio Renaissance Festival. We were there for around 6 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday. It was so much fun. I’ll probably include a couple photos in my September Wrap-Up post.

First let’s start with everything I’ve read since my last update. Last Thursday I ended up picking up and reading all of Fairy Tail Vol 2, and I can honestly say that I’ll probably be reading volumes 3-5 pretty soon. I am very much in a mood for this series right now, so I just want to keep reading and watching.

Oh, and last Wednesday, before bed, I ended up reading the first 57 pages of Two Dark Reigns, but then I thought that it was probably not the greatest idea to continue reading it, because I actually hadn’t read either of the novellas, and in my experience whenever there are novellas with a series they tend to reveal something that will become relevant in the next story. So when I woke up early on Friday morning, I read the entirety of the Queens of Fennbirn novella bind-up. I can definitely say that I preferred the second novella of the book, “The Oracle Queen” to the first one “The Young Queens,” but I think they were both still worthwhile reads.

Then while relaxing at the hotel on Friday afternoon/evening, I ended up reading a whole graphic novel, Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vol 1. With the Captain Marvel movie coming in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I figured it would be a good idea for me to learn more about Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. For the most part, I enjoyed the experience, though this particular series takes place after she has been a hero for a little while and she is just changing her mantle from Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel.

After that, on Saturday, I ended up finishing off the rest of Shadowblack, which was also a really good read, though I don’t rank it as high as the first book. I’m still excited by the fact that the third book was re-released yesterday, so I’ll be able to continue on with the series very very soon.

Once I had finished that book, I picked up Two Dark Reigns again, and started to fly through it, reading about a hundred pages on Saturday night, and then another hundred or so pages on Sunday morning. Unfortunately that was all the reading time I had on Sunday. But I finished the book thanks to my recuperation day Monday and a little bit of reading time yesterday.

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So that brings me to my current read, which is Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco. I am really enjoying this series so far, which is why I am very glad that the third book was released into the world yesterday, so I’ll be adding it to my collection probably this weekend. I think my book haul for this month is going to be a bit ridiculous.

Finally, there are the books I am hoping to get to soon. I’m actually doing pretty decent on my September TBR, and I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll actually be able to finish the list for once. So that means I’m going to keep reading on those books. Though I admit to probably reading more manga in between my novel reads.

Well, that is all from me for today. What great books are you currently reading? I’d love to know. As always, I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Review, Books!, Manga, Signal Boost

Manga Review: Black Clover Vol 1

Hey all, Dani here.

Today for me is a day of relaxation before I head back to work. We spent the last two days at the Ohio Renaissance Festival, and that is a lot of fun, but by the end of it, I end up pretty tired as well. I can also say that it was a pretty productive weekend for reading as well, but I’ll cover that in my What I’m Reading post on Wednesday. Anyway, let’s get to the topic on hand, which is manga.

On this day I am going to be talking about the first volume for the Black Clover series, and this is a manga that I started buying after we watched the first couple episodes of the anime. Then, because I enjoyed what I read in the first volume, I have bought volumes two and three. Currently there are only around a dozen volumes out for me here in the U.S., and I imagine that catching up on the series shouldn’t take me that long.

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Summary

Asta is a young boy who dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the kingdom. Only one problem-he can’t use any magic! Luckily for Asta, he receives the incredibly rare five-leaf clover grimoire that gives him the power of anti-magic. Can someone who can’t use magic really become the Wizard King? One thing’s for sure-Asta will never give up!

Young Asta was born with no magic ability in a world where magic is everything. In order to prove his strength and keep a promise with his friend, Asta dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the land, the Wizard King!

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

So this volume lends the story line for I think the first 8 or 9 episodes of the anime, which honestly is pretty impressive. There is so much that happens in this one, between establishing the world the story takes place in, to starting the story and development for several characters, and even leaving you to wonder where the story will go from here…because it is just getting started.

And the great thing with reading instead of watching is that I don’t have to listen to Asta’s speaking voice, which is really more of a yelling/screeching voice. Though I can admit to still hearing his voice in my head because of watching the show.

I am just so interested in the story of Asta and Yuno, and it is clear that we are mostly focusing on Asta, though I hope to learn more about Yuno’s training and such as well.

The magic system of this world is a pretty fascinating one, especially when we follow a character who has no magic, and is then selected to be the owner of the black clover grimoire, which grants him the power of anti-magic. What is really cool about Asta is that because his magical ability didn’t show up, he spent so much time physically training his body. Now that is working out in his favor because of the grimoire allowing him to wield this massive sword (which you can see on the cover of this volume).

I can already tell that I am going to be devouring this series as quickly as I can manage it, though buying anticipated release novels is a slightly higher priority to me than buying manga and/or graphic novels. Still, I have a number of volumes to look forward to reading before I am caught up and have to wait for releases. I’m excited to see where Asta’s journey will progress. I think the character development for this series has the potential to be amazing.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this volume for yourself from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Manga, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading (30)

Hey all, Dani here.

I have been in a reading mood, and at this moment I am sure that I will be reading a bunch more in the upcoming days. Of course, I do wish I had just a little more time for reading. Actually this week I haven’t even managed to scrounge out time to prep up my blog posts either, so I apologize for that.

Okay, let’s just jump into what I’ve finished reading over the last week.

I was really feeling in a Fairy Tail mood, even though my fiance and I are currently watching the anime–we’re in season 3 currently–but I wanted more, so I picked up the first volume and started reading. I have the first five volumes, and even though I know the storyline already, I still really enjoyed reading it, and experiencing some of the early adventures all over again. So that was definitely a fun and fast read.

Then I finished off an ARC I was very excited to get. I have enjoyed reading Jennifer Estep’s urban fantasy books, and I was eager to see how she would take on a more epic style fantasy. Also, I was approved to be a part of the blog tour for the release of this book, which meant that I definitely had to bump this up my TBR list. I’m glad I read it and my review will be up on Sept. 25.

Finally I managed to finish reading Heretics Anonymous, which was funny, and not a slow read, but it didn’t quite reach my expectations. I’ll try to have a review up in the next couple weeks.

Now, as for what I am currently reading…only one book at the moment, but I may be starting a couple others in the next couple of days.

Obviously, my current read at the moment is Shadowblack and I am having a great time reading it right now. I’m also super glad that the third book will be out in the lovely matching new covers very soon.

Moving on to my upcoming reads. I’ll be honest, I’m probably going to read more Fairy Tail because I like picking up manga and finishing a volume in roughly 30-45 minutes. Hunting Prince Dracula is a book I need to start really soon, because I absolute loved the first book and want to continue the series. Of course that reasoning is also true for the Three Dark Crowns series, because I thought the second book was better than the first, so I’m hoping that the third installment will blow me away.

So, I guess that is all for today. Let me know what awesome things you’re reading, because I’d love to know what I should be adding to my TBR. I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading (29)

Hey all, Dani here.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. Mine hasn’t been too bad, and I’ve accomplished some reading (though not as much as I would really like to have completed). But I am very much looking forward to the books I’m hoping to read this month, so with any luck I will have a productive time of reading and have a really good wrap up here in a few weeks.

Basically, since my last update, I have only managed to finish one book. It was a really good book, and I’m now mad at myself for taking so long to read it, but I’m already guessing that I’m going to marathon the rest of the series very soon, so we’ll see what happens.

What is that book, you may be wondering? Well, it was Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I plan on writing up a review for it, so I don’t want to say too much here, but I was so drawn into the story from the beginning. Even though I figured out who Jack the Ripper was about 30-ish pages before the reveal, it still didn’t ruin any of the reading experience.

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As for my current reads, at the moment I am only focused on one book, but I am thinking I am going to fly through it, because it is just such an easy to read narration. Seriously, I am finding the narrator to be pretty darn amusing. So, with any luck, I’ll actually finish this book in the next day or so.

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Finally, let’s talk about the books I am definitely getting to very soon. Because, yes, while I really want to read Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, I’m worried that I’ve been hyping the book up so much in my head that I’ll disappoint myself. So I am making myself read a few other books first.

Also, I was recently selected to be a part of the blog tour for the release of Jennifer Estep’s Kill the Queen, which will be released on October 2nd. My post–a review–will be up on September 25th, so I definitely need to get to work reading the book. But I can also admit that right now all I want to do is start reading Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco, because I absolutely devoured the first one, and the third book will be out in just a couple more weeks. Of course, I am also super excited to get to continue the Spellslinger series by picking up Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell, because I definitely loved the first book and am anxious to find out what is going to happen next.

Pretty much I’m just excited for all of the books I have planned to read in September. It is going to be such a lovely reading month.

Well, that is all from me today. Let me know what great books you have recently finished…or that you are currently reading…because I would love to know what books I should be adding to my TBR. As always, I will be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Calendar Girls, Graphic Novel, Manga, Readathon, Signal Boost

August Wrap-Up and September TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

August is over already, and I have been 30 years old for a whole month now. Wow, time just keeps passing by so quickly. Where is my ability to pause time for a bit so I can catch up on all of this reading I need to do? Anyway, August was a pretty productive month, so that was nice.

Of course, when it comes to looking back over the past month, it also shows me just how lazy I have been when it comes to reviews. Over the last few months I have read quite a few books, and yet have only written a handful of reviews. So I need to try and get some more of those prepped up for all of you.

Let’s start with everything I read in the month of August.

Game of Secrets by Kim Foster – 4 stars

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake – 5 stars

My Hero Academia, Vol 14 by Kohei Horikoshi – 5 stars

Dawn of the Arcana, Vol 1 by Rei Toma – 4 stars

Blue Exorcist, Vol 1 by Kazue Kato – 5 stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender: North and South Part One by Gene Luen Yang – 5 stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender: North and South Part Two by Gene Luen Yang – 5 stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender: North and South Part Three by Gene Luen Yang – 5 stars

Blue Exorcist, Vol 2 by Kazue Kato – 5 stars

Blue Exorcist, Vol 3 by Kazue Kato – 5 stars

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – 5 stars

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken – 3.5 stars

Black Clover, Vol 1 by Yuki Tabata – 4.5 stars

I’m in the middle of reading a book right now. I was hoping to finish it before August ended but that didn’t happen. Still, I’m pretty happy with the number of books I read.

Next up is what I watched in the month of August. I started my month watching Legally Blond while finishing up a costume for Gen Con. It is still a cute and fun movie, and I give it 4 stars. Then we all sat in our hotel room and watched Monsters University, which obviously still gets 5 stars. My fiance and I finished watching Legend of Korra, which I give 5 stars to as well. Then we watched Ready Player One again, and I still have to give the movie 5 stars. I’ll do a multi-format review for the book, audiobook, and movie soon. After that I got to see the Disney movie Bolt for the first time, and I give it 4 stars. Next up was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which gets 4 stars. Then it was time to watch the cuteness that was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which definitely gets 5 stars from me. After that I finally got to see the new-ish Goosebumps movie, which I liked and gave 4 stars to. At the very end of the month I managed to watch The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (4 stars), so I will try to have my review of both book and film up fairly soon.

We are still keeping up with Critical Role Campaign 2, and as always, I am finding the storylines and character development to be really interesting. We are also keeping up with the current season of My Hero Academia, because we are both obsessed with it. Finally we are continuing to try and get me all caught up on Fairy Tail, which is going to take a lot more hours. We’re only on the second season right now, but I am really enjoying it. Oh, and my fiance decided to start watching Black Clover as well. It is an interesting premise, but we are both annoyed by the gratingly loud voice of main character Asta. He really doesn’t have to yell everything, but he pretty much does.

Okay, that’s all for what I watched over the month, so now let’s jump into the book haul and OwlCrate unboxing portions of this post.

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Fun fact…my September book haul is already looking a bit crazy, because my fiance and I went to both Barnes & Noble and Half-Price Books on September 2nd. The deals were just too good, you guys. I regret nothing…but I may need to try and do another book unhaul sometime soon, or at least a reorganization of my bookshelves.

The last portion of this post is the TBR, and as per usual, I should really spend a little time staring at my bookshelves before I try to write these. I need to go figure out what books I’m going to try and read this month. Hmm… Okay, so I think I’ve found a pretty decent list.

And that is all I have for you guys today. Did you have a nice reading month in August? What books are you hoping to read in September? Let’s talk books in the comments. As always, I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Books!, Calendar Girls, Signal Boost

Calendar Girls: September 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to another month of Calendar Girls. As always I’ll start this post by saying that Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was started by Flavia and Melanie, but is now being hosted by Katie and Adrienne. They are all wonderful ladies, and you should check out their lovely blogs. Oh, and if you go to either Katie or Adrienne‘s Calendar Girls post each month, they will have links to all the other wonderful book bloggers participating in this event. It’s a great way to find new bookish friends, and also possibly add some more books to your TBR.

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First, more about the Calendar Girls. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers, and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and both Katie and Adrienne will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!

The September theme is…

Back to School
Best Novel Set in a School

Can I just say that I actually miss going back to school around this time of year? I pretty much finished up my schooling at the end of 2011–at least until I can find some way to get my finances in order so I can go back for my doctorate. So I’ve been out of the world of academia for quite a few years now and I just really miss it. I was so much more productive with writing back then.

An obvious choice for this month’s theme would be Harry Potter, so I guess that series will be my first honorable mention. And I suppose I should also say that a part of me wanted to name the Animorphs series, because so much of it does revolve around their school.

Oh, and right now I’m just going to go ahead and toss a couple manga options into the mix. Because they are both series that I really enjoy, and the school portion of the story is actually rather important for both of them. The manga honorable mentions for this theme are My Hero Academia and Blue Exorcist. They are both great series and I definitely recommend them. One follows a school that trains professional superheroes, and the other is a school for exorcists.

Now we come down to the part we’ve all been waiting for…the novel I have selected as my pick for “Best Novel Set in a School.” This was actually a difficult choice for me. There are so many great books out there with schools in them, but I wanted to pick something where the school setting was a huge part of the story.

I spent a good fifteen minutes or so scanning all the books on the shelves of my home library, trying to narrow down my options so I could figure out which novel to select. I was tempted to choose Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, or The Magicians by Lev Grossman. But ultimately, I decided on something else.

Though many of these have interesting school settings, or have a spotlight on learning or being at school, over all there was one book that I read last year that felt so much like being in school for me, so it has to be my choice for this month’s theme.

That book is Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.

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Eliza is the creator of a massively popular web comic, but nobody at school knows. That is, until the number one fanfiction writer of her comic transfers to her school and they become friends because of their shared fondness for the web comic. Of course the fanfiction writer has no idea that Eliza is the creator.

To me, this book just reminded me so much of being a student in school. Yes, I love academia, and I pretty much always enjoyed my classes. But in many ways I didn’t exactly feel like I fit in or that I belonged. Yes, I had some friends from band, and most of my friends were geeks too. But I didn’t start being an open and proud geek until just a few years ago, when I decided to just be myself and not care if people found me odd. So I relate to Eliza on a number of levels.

Plus, when I was in high school, not only did I spend a lot of time reading, but I also spent a lot of time writing stories and posting my chapters up on fictionpress. So this book is near and dear to my heart, and I feel like sometimes escaping into a fantasy world is all you can do to endure the social aspect of school.

You can find my review of this book here, and I definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already.

Whew, okay. Now I just have to wait until the October theme is announced…and then I can once again stare at all the books in my library and try to figure out which ones are just honorable mentions, and which one will be my pick for the month. Oh, and wait for the Calendar Girls Twitter chat and all the other fun social media interactions.

That is all for today. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content (specifically my August Wrap-Up and September TBR tomorrow).

Books!, Conventions, Graphic Novel, Manga, Signal Boost

Gen Con Wrap Up

Hey all, Dani here.

So you might be asking, “hey Dani, wasn’t Gen Con at the beginning of the month? Why do a wrap up now?” Well, I had one of my blog buddies say she would love to read about my time at Gen Con, especially as she wants to start trying to diversify her conventions, but she also wanted more information first.

Plus, when you get a little removed from an event (or a book/movie/etc), it is easier to distance yourself from any super happy or super upset feelings you might have had at the time, and you can write a more factual and balanced review of everything. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Gen Con is a gaming convention, and it features hundreds of game developers and companies, as well as business that sell game accessories. Now when I say gaming convention, the easy assumption is that I am talking about video games, but I don’t think I have seen any sort of video or console type game there. No, this is a gaming convention for tabletop gaming, which means board games, card games, dice games, and tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons.

This year was the 51st Gen Con and it was even bigger than the previous year. The photos don’t even come close to showing how large or crowded this convention is, because there are just so many wonderful geeks in the world, and events like this really help you to see how not alone in the world you are. It is currently held in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it is an amazing experience. The convention itself takes up the entire Indiana Convention Center, plus they have also spread out into several of the nearby hotels, and Lucas Oil Stadium (which is the arena where the local NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts, are based). What I love about having part of Gen Con in the football stadium is that they house the gaming library there, and if you have purchased a pass to use the library, then you can go there 24 hours a day through the four day convention and borrow a game to play. Yes, a bunch of lovely geeks swarm through this holy house of jock-dom for four whole days.

We actually went to Indianapolis a day early, on August 1st, so we wouldn’t have to wake up at 5am the next day to make the three hour drive. It ended up being the best decision we could have made. We were able to pick up all of our tickets that day, and also just relax a bit. Okay, so we also went to an Irish pub (O’Reilly’s Irish Pub) for my birthday, which then turned into the Irish pub and then a Scottish pub (MacNiven’s). So I had a Shepard’s Pie, and then we had bread pudding for dessert. At the Scottish pub we had Scotch Eggs. Then we went to a comic book store (Downtown Comics) too, so naturally I picked up a few things.

And that’s just all the fun from the day before the convention. Now let’s get to the actual first day of Gen Con. It was a mad house, and we went straight for the Critical Role booth, because there was some cool merchandise that we were hoping to get, and we waited for a good half-hour or so to actually make it to the booth. But I ended up with dice and shirts and even a map for the current campaign, so I am super pleased.

I’m not going to lie guys…we spent most of our money on day one. There are just so many cool games and accessories and costume pieces. It is a geek wonderland. The first day of the convention was also a cool day because we got to meet Joe Mangianello. Now most people will probably recognize Joe from being in the show True Blood, or possibly from the Magic Mike movies. What you may not know is that he is a massive geek, loves D&D, and actually has a really cool gaming dungeon in his home. We waited for almost an hour to meet him, but it was totally worth the wait…and I got him to sign my Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, so that is also pretty awesome. Oh, and the game pictured below is A Song of Ice and Fire, and it is sort of a battlefield strategy game based on Game of Thrones. We watched it being playtested and it seemed pretty interesting. Of course neither my fiance nor our other buddy who went with us has seen the show (or read the books) so it was just a cool looking game to them.

Day two of the convention we spent a lot of time just running around and checking out some of the games. At most of the game developer booths, you can sit down and play the game before you buy it. Okay well if it is a shorter game you can play through the whole game, but longer games they pretty much prefer you to just play a few rounds to get an idea of how the game works. There are a lot of other people around who would also like to try playing the games. The highlight for day two of the convention for us was actually that evening after the convention center closed. We met up with the owners of our hometown game store and they actually bought us dinner at this bar (The Yard House). My fiance and I run a couple D&D campaigns for them and they wanted to thank us for everything we’ve done for the store. Free food is definitely the way to do that. But after that, we had tickets to go see Critical Role live. It was my second time going, but my fiance’s first, and I was so glad I got to share the experience with him. Oh, and there was a surprise guest star for the episode of Critical Role…Khary Payton, an actor some people may recognize from the Walking Dead.

We had an extremely lazy day for day three of the convention. Critical Role Live ended around 1 am, and then we had to walk back to the parking garage where our car was parked (only to discover that the parking garage had closed for the night, so we had to run around to figure out who to contact to get to our car). By the time we made it back to the hotel we were staying at, it was around 2:30 am. Because we were also low on spending money, we just decided to hang out at the hotel, enjoy the pool, watch some TV, and play some of the games we had purchased. The only convention event we had on our schedule for the day was going to Dungeon Master, which is a live interactive show. It ended up being a very entertaining show, but the real reason I got tickets for this particular show was that it was being opened with a concert by The Library Bards, and they are a geek parody band who makes covers of Top 40 hits by making them into geeky songs–for example “Zombie” by the Cranberries becomes a song about Deadpool and Harley Quinn cosplayers called “Black and Red”, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” becomes a LOTR/Hobbit song called “Gandalf.”

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Finally, we made it to day four, the last day of the convention. We played a couple more games, and made a couple more purchases with the little spending money we had left. I will be completely honest everyone. I hate the last day of a convention. The last day means that I have to go home and return to my regular day-to-day schedule. It means leaving a place where I am surrounded by thousands of people who like a lot of the same stuff I do, and going back to a place where only a small percentage of people actually understand me. Leaving a convention after having such a great time is always difficult. But on our way back to our car before the three hour drive back home, I decided that we needed to get something to eat, and after walking past this pizza shop over a dozen times, we finally stopped into Giordano’s to get some Chicago Style Deep Dish pizzas.

I guess I should talk about this last picture. There are a lot of booths at Gen Con that give out these little ribbons that you can attach to your convention badge. For many attendees at the convention it becomes a scavenger hunt to collect as many as possible. I have seen people with enough ribbons hanging from their badge to make a long scarf or sash. It is impressive. We only went to Gen Con for one day in 2017, so I think we got one or two ribbons. Obviously this year I did much better, but I’m still hoping for a more impressive collection next year.

Next year I also plan to attend a few panels and/or workshops, because we didn’t really do that this year. There is a whole section of the convention that is a Writer’s Showcase, and they have some great industry professionals there to hold classes on worldbuilding or magic or editing, etc. The guests of honor this year were the duo behind S.A. Corey, author of The Expanse series. Previous years have had Patrick Rothfuss in attendance. Margaret Weis was there this year as well. So next year I definitely want to spend a little more time in the bookish side of Gen Con–though I did walk through that entire area on the show floor, and I will show off everything I purchased in my August Wrap-Up post.

Wow, okay, this post got pretty long. I hope you all enjoyed this look into our time at Gen Con. If you want me to talk more specifically on the games that we playtested and/or purchased, let me know. Because we found quite a few really fun games, and I like talking about more than just books. I’m your average geeky girl, with many geek hobbies.

Anyway, that’s all for today, and I will be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading (28)

Hey all, Dani here.

It is that time of the week again, where I write up a little post talking about the books I have finished recently, the ones I am reading currently, and the books I am hoping to start very soon.

So I feel like today’s post is going to share a similar feel to several of these I have had before, you know, where I really don’t have much to share with you in terms of books finished. And that’s probably because I haven’t been doing much reading over the past week. My fiance and I have been playing quite a bit of Diablo III, and seeing what cool items we can get now that we’ve beat the story of the game and are now just doing fun little bounties and rifts and such. Honestly I’m not liking this part of the game all that much. I miss having a storyline to follow. We’ve also been watching more shows — at this moment I have him halfway through “Firefly,” and he is already trying to figure out why the show was canceled because he is really liking it. This led me to explain how the episodes were aired out of order, with a few never being aired at all, and how it was originally aired on FOX in the time slot commonly known as the Death Slot. Maybe I’ll have him tell me all of his thoughts about the show once we’ve finished “Firefly” and watched “Serenity.” That could be fun.

Anyway, back to books. I have read about 120-ish more pages of The Darkest Minds so I’m about halfway in. Honestly, it is still just an okay book to me. I can see how/why people liked it and speak so highly about it. Back when it came out and dystopian books were super popular, the elements of this story did make for a successful series. But I don’t know…it still isn’t really at that point for me, the point where I am so hooked and invested in the story and the characters and I want to read it all.

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I really want to finish this book soon so that I can move on to other books without feeling guilty about it. Plus, I have a couple books coming in the mail that I really really want to read. These books include a sequel to a series that I absolutely fell in love with when I read the first one like a month ago, and also my most anticipated release of all of 2018. Those books should arrive in the mail probably Friday, so I need to try and finish my current read by then.

What I want to start reading (and probably finishing if they are as good as the previous books in their respective series are Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell, and Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis. I should actually probably write up a review for the first book in de Castell’s Spellslinger series, but you can find my review for Katsoulis’ previous release, All Rights Reserved, here.

That is all for today, everyone. What great books are you reading and/or looking forward to reading? I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.