Recommendations, Signal Boost, Video Games

Game Review: Spider-Man

Hey guys, Damian Trypp here. So this game took me a bit because as per usual I like to take my time when it comes to most games. I got this one when I decided to get a new PS4 pro via lay a way at our local Walmart. It’s not very often I actually get the the end of a game within a few months of its release but this one I beat the main story line within about a month. I’m not a super big gamer so I will probably not have a lot of reviews to do on them, but I definitely wanted to give this one a review.

Summary

Starring the world’s most iconic Super Hero, Spider-Man PS4 (working title) features the acrobatic abilities, improvisation and web-slinging that the wall-crawler is famous for, while also introducing elements never-before-seen in a Spider-Man game. From traversing with parkour and utilizing the environment, to new combat and blockbuster set pieces, it’s Spider-Man unlike any you’ve played before.

Review

Rating:5 stars

So guys I ended up getting the limited edition PS4 pro with this and I was hooked from the very beginning. With the fast paced fighting and the almost nonstop action we’ve come to expect from the webslinging hero. Free roam ,optional sidequests and a lot of different suits to choose from. So there’s always something to do in this game whether it’s kicking butt or creating gadgets and not to mention a bit of science as well. If I had not had other things to read or play I could have easily spent the time beating this game and nothing but. The storyline added on top of all this other cool stuff makes me want to recommend it to everyone who thinks they might be interested guys and not just because I am a huge Spidey fan.

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

Blog Tour Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Hey all, Dani here.

I am so happy to be posting this review today, as part of the blog tour for Jennifer Estep’s new fantasy novel, Kill the Queen. This book will be out in the world in just one week, on October 2nd, but I have had my eye on it for a few months now. So when I was offered the chance to sign up for the blog tour, I jumped on it, and thankfully I was approved.

Because of this I must give a huge thank you to Let’s Talk! Promotions for approving me to be on the book tour, and I must also thank Edelweiss, as well as the publisher Harper Voyager for granting me early access to this novel. As always, I need to say that being granted a galley (or being part of the blog tour) did not affect my rating or review in any way.

Kill the Queen Blog Tour Banner.jpg

I have read six of Estep’s Elemental Assassin series, plus the first novel in her Mythos Academy series. In all actuality I own about a dozen of her books that I haven’t read yet. She is an author whose work I follow, but I don’t desperately reach for the newest release as soon as it is available.

But this one sounded really interesting to me, and I wanted to see how a primarily urban fantasy and paranormal author took on a more epic fantasy style tale. Plus it is tagged as Gladiator meets Game of Thrones, so I was definitely intrigued.

Okay, let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

The thrilling first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series combines magic, murder, and adventure when an unlikely member of the royal family suddenly becomes a contender in a clash for the crown . . .

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of combat, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I read this book so quickly, and honestly I did not want to put it down–though I had to because of things like work and food. Oh, speaking of food…I’m just going to say that I do not recommend reading this book on an empty stomach, because as with pretty much everything I’ve read by Jennifer Estep, her descriptions of food are just so vivid and realistic that I ended up being so darn hungry. There are so many details about the smell and the taste and the appearance that you feel like a banquet has been laid out in front of you.

Another comment I will make on this book is the writing style. Fantasy is a genre I read most frequently, and so I’m used to the differences in style and tone for epic fantasy versus urban fantasy versus historical fantasy, etc. This book has the scope of an epic fantasy, with a fascinating world, an intriguing magic system, and decent political intrigue, but written in the style I would expect from an urban fantasy. It is a sort of conversational style that makes you feel like the narrator is sitting in a lounge with you and telling you a story.

I guess if I had to have a complaint about the book, it is that there were times when I would have liked more elaboration in the gladiator training, but instead there were time jumps that propelled the story forward a week or two instead and progress in fighting ability had occurred during that time. But really, that isn’t a complaint that is going to reduce my rating or anything.

Oh, and the potential romance. Wow. I really want to say more, but frankly, I should just tell you all to grab the book and read all of this for yourself. Needless to say, I am absolutely counting down until the release of the second book in the trilogy.

Where to Buy

You can currently pre-order this fantastic read from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookseller. It will be released in just one week, on October 2nd.

JENNIFER’S BIO AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. 

Jennifer writes the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. Kill the Queen, book #1, will be released on Oct. 2.

The Crown of Shards series focuses on Everleigh Blair, a member of the royal family who is distantly in line for the throne of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. But when the unthinkable happens, Evie finds herself fighting for her life—both inside and outside the gladiator arena.  

Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series.  

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter.

Website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/

Blog: http://www.jenniferestep.com/blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferEstepAuthor?fref=ts

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep  (@Jennifer_Estep)

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/580315.Jennifer_Estep

Newsletter signup: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-jennifer/newsletter/

——

So thanks for checking out my review, and be sure to check out the other awesome bloggers involved in this blog tour. Some of them are even hosting giveaways so you don’t want to miss your chance to possibly win those.

That is it for me today, and I will be back soon with more bookish content.

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

Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Hey all, Dani here.

We all have certain themes, tropes, or story elements that generally turn us off from picking up certain books/movies/shows. For me, I am not a big mystery or thriller reader, though I am okay with watching those kind of stories. I also typically don’t reach for zombie stories. But I will say that as long as a story sounds interesting, I am totally willing to give it a try. And that is totally the case for the book I’m talking about today.

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Summary

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Let’s start with the cover. I love how badass Jane looks holding her sickle and that is a cool and powerful stance. It gave me expectations for how the story within the covers was going to go. Thankfully the story matched up with beauty of the outside.

Jane has spirit. Her spunk was great, even though her sass quite regularly got her in trouble. But she did also go out of her way to help others, even ones who hadn’t been the nicest to her at school.

The alternate history laid out in this book was well done and so interesting. It really makes you look at the sanitization of history, how often we try and bury the unfair treatment and blatant racism of the past. Actually if we’re being honest many in society today don’t seem to recognize the racism of modern times. Based on the notes in the back of the book, there were industrial schools where Native children were sent and “civilized” based on the accepted white culture of the times. Many of the comments made by white characters towards people of color in this book made me cringe; it was pretty atrocious and despicable.

Jane handles it in stride, though. Sometimes she even uses their expectations against them, by pretending to be less intelligent or civilized. Even Jane’s classmates don’t expect Jane to be as smart as she is, though she can read and write, while most of them can’t.

But this was a pretty adventurous story, and I am so glad that I gave it a chance. The zombies, or shamblers as they are known in the book, are not really romanticized in any way. They are mindless savages and a group of them approaching can be a terrifying situation.

Where to Buy

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

Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Top Ten Reads of 2018 — So Far

Hey all, Dani here.

The wait is over. My list of favorite reads from the first six months of the year is here at last. Before I jump into which books made it, I first want to go over the rules that I set for myself when it comes to what can or cannot be considered for this list. As a book blogger, I do receive early copies of books for review, but it wouldn’t be fair to include books that have not been released to the general public. I also don’t include rereads on this list, because obviously I enjoyed the book enough to read it again, so those books have an unfair advantage.

The ten books that make up this list are ones that I read in the months of January through June in 2018. Overall I ended up reading 59 books in that time, so narrowing down to ten was something I thought was going to be difficult…but I read some books that just really stood out for me. As always, I am placing these books in the order I read them in, not any sort of last to first ranking order or anything. Oh, and if I have a review up for the book, I will also include the link, in case you would like to check out more of my thoughts.

Let’s get started.

  1. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
    I am so glad that I was able to read an ARC of this book, because this series continues to blow me away. I love diving into Tea’s world, and seeing how her story unfolds. Overall I did not want to put this book down, and I am so looking forward to the third book.
  2. Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Novel by Melissa de la Cruz
    Well, the first book of this series made my list last year, so is it any surprise that my Hamilton obsession is still going strong? This YA version of Alexander Hamilton’s romance and relationship with Eliza Schuyler Hamilton continues to keep me hooked…even when certain elements of history have to be altered slightly to make for a better story. I’m not reading this for a 100% historically faithful tale. I can read Hamilton’s writings or any number of nonfiction books on Hamilton if I want the facts.
  3. Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
    Now that I have read this book, I am so sad that I didn’t try and snag a copy in 2017 at BookExpo. It was completely outstanding. I loved the magic system and the overall setup. Plus the characters were so interesting…even the ones that were so awful that I hoped for their death. I am very much looking forward to the second book.
  4. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
    Based on the way this book was described, I was sure I was going to enjoy it, but it ended up completely sucking me in, and I didn’t want to stop reading until I reached the end. I enjoyed the descriptions, the action, the character development…it was all so good. The only thing that upset me is that I feel like the ending wrapped up a bit too quickly. But there is apparently a companion novel coming (probably next year), so we’ll see what happens next.
  5. Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy
    I need to get a review written for this one, so I am adding that to my to-do list. But this was such a cute contemporary story, with a nice dash of fantasy since it was based on a movie adaptation of a beloved book series…and a romance between one of the film’s stars and the grand-daughter of the series’ author.
  6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    Why haven’t I written a review for this one yet? I read it during a 24 Hour Readathon, but I would have read it super quickly anyway. It was such a deeply fascinating series, with an amazing set of characters, a cool adventure, and an intriguing magic system. Needless to say, I am already counting down until the release of the sequel.
  7. The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde
    Jen Wilde makes my list again, with another cute and diverse contemporary novel, one that features cameos from characters who were in her debut novel. I loved following the three members of the band The Brightsiders, and seeing all the drama and issues that seemed to follow their lives. And the romances were pretty cute too.
  8. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
    Another fantasy book with great world-building and magic systems. This was also another book that I absolutely flew through. I admit that the cover design caught my eye, and then I read up on the book. I am so glad that I did, because it was an outstanding read, even at the hefty number of pages it contained. Seriously, I loved it.
  9. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
    Amanda Foody has written another wonderfully atmospheric and interesting fantasy read, and I can say that I also flew through this book. I read The Brightsiders, Furyborn, and Ace of Shades all in one weekend, and I’m so glad that they were all so interesting that I easily could have landed in a book slump, but they all stood wonderfully on their own merits. Amanda Foody’s characters and writing style have definitely placed her up on my list of favorite new fantasy authors.
  10. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
    The review for this book will be up tomorrow, but this was kind of a surprise favorite for me. While I do like the occasional historical fiction story, I am not as into books (or shows or movies) with zombies in them. But I was immediately drawn in by the narrative voice of our main protagonist, Jane. She was one awesome and spirited young lady, and I loved following all of her mishaps and adventures, all while fighting off the shambler plague.

So far it has been a pretty great year for reading, and I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 brings. Thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying some great reads of your own, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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

Review: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Hey all, Dani here.

It is review time once again, and today I can actually admit that I’m glad I didn’t get an advance copy of this book, because it would have made the wait for the sequel that much more difficult. This was such a good read and I finished it in a day because I needed to know what was going on and what would happen next.

Let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

The way that this story is weaved together just keeps you intrigued. It jumps back and forth from Rielle’s story to Eliana’s, and both narratives slowly start to weave together as you learn more details and begin to figure out the connections between the characters. Okay, to be fair, yes, I did figure out the connection between the two ladies quite a bit before it was actually revealed, but that did not make it any less enjoyable.

The characters were rather interesting, and both main ladies have their issues and struggles, despite living in completely different circumstances. And both Rielle and Eliana are strong and powerful in different ways, though they both have the same hint of rage issues. But I loved how complex they were because they felt so incredibly real. Their romances and friendships and alliances were all so engaging for me. I did not want to stop reading.

I enjoyed the world-building, especially considering that Legrand had to envision the same word a thousand years apart. It was fascinating to see what changes happened to the politics, the magic, the economy, and the people. This attention to the details is also what made the magic system and the trials so compelling.

Basically, I loved this book and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy in the next couple of years.

Where to Buy

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

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost

GLBT Book Month is coming!

Hey all, Dani here.

What I love about the online book community, about so many of you amazing readers/reviewers/bloggers/vloggers, is that we have seen this increase in the past couple of years of a desire to read more diversely and to expand our reading habits. We try books outside of our preferred genres and we try books with characters we might not have otherwise picked up on our own. We read more books about different cultures or races and certainly we have seen more books coming out with main characters who are POCs or who have a different gender or sexual identity. And that is great. I love that we can expand our world by taking in the stories of people who are different from us (or the same as us).

It is fantastic, and so once again, I plan on for the most part, focusing my reviews in June to GLBT book month, and highlighting reads that have characters and/or authors who fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum. GLBT Book Month started in the early 1990s as National Lesbian and Gay Book Month. Starting in 2015, the American Library Association branded it as GLBT Book Month, though honestly that name doesn’t quite do the month justice as it excludes many in the community.

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The main point is that it is a celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. I expand that out to aesexual, pansexual, intersex, queer, those who are questioning their identity, and more.

Right now I have two books that I have read in May where I am setting up the reviews to be released in June, as they feature characters who are questioning their sexuality and I think they will be great stories to highlight for GLBT Book Month. And I have a few other books already planned for my June TBR that should also be in the spotlight a bit more.

If you are looking for books that fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum, you can always look up the Rainbow Book List, or the Over the Rainbow Books. There are a lot of great suggestions and recommendations there. I made a recommendations post of my own last year, so you can check that out as well if you’re interested.

Now, to make sure we are all on the same page with my June blog posts, I will still be doing my Manga Mondays review posts, and my What I’m Reading posts on Wednesdays. You’ll just find that at least one day a week–probably Fridays–I’ll be posting reviews for GLBT Book Month reads. I know the reviews for Ship It and Final Draft will be coming on Tuesday June 5th and Friday June 8th.

Other books I’m hoping to get to in the month of June include:

Of course, I will also take any recommendations from all of you wonderful book friends for books that also fit in this amazing and diverse category of reads.

And I do believe that is all I have to say for today. Have you read any great LGBTQIAP+ books this year? Are you planning on reading some in June? Let me know in the comments. Have a fantastic weekend everyone, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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

Review: Reign the Earth

Hey all, Dani here.

Happy Good Friday, and I hope everyone has a lovely Easter this weekend. Today I’m back with another review, this time for a recently finished book that I could not stop reading. It was so interesting. And in many ways I am now very grateful that I did not get an ARC of this last year at BookExpo, because it would have made the wait for book two even more frustrating.

Anyway, let’s get started.

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Summary

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarletwill hold readers spellbound. 

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Let’s just get this part out of the way first: I despise Calix. He is an awful human being, completely and utterly cruel and hateful. That’s a little obvious from the summary, but reading the book I felt this desire to reach through the pages and punch him–repeatedly. So, I guess I can give all sorts of compliments to author A.C. Gaughen for writing a character that makes me feel that way.

Speaking of, this is the first book by Gaughen that I have read, and it was fantastic. Now I find myself wanting to give Scarlet a try. I mean, I was intrigued by it anyway because it is a twist on Robin Hood, but now I really want to read it.

*Ahem* Anyway, back to this book. I enjoyed the worldbuilding. I didn’t think that this was a fantasy novel that overdid the descriptions of the land or the culture or the religion. It was just enough to highlight the differences between Calix’s people and Shalia’s people, and some of that came from the characters actually having discussions about how their cultures are different, which I rather liked.

The characters felt nicely developed too, like living and breathing people instead of words on a page. I liked Shalia and Galen and Danae and Kai and Kata. And I already talked about my feelings towards Calix.

I admit that there were a few things that I didn’t see coming and they surprised me, some in a good way and some in a not so good way. But I liked that I wasn’t trying to figure out what was going to happen. I just let myself soak in the experience of reading the book. Sometimes it is nice to just exist in the story as it unfolds instead of predicting what could occur later.

With everything that has happened in this book, and with how it ended, let me just say that I hope we get more information about the second book soon, because waiting for the next release will not be easy. Then again, I guess I do have a rather large TBR list so…maybe it won’t be that difficult after all. Still, my point is that I really want to know what happens next.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Reign the Earth from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Recommendations: Standalones

Hey all, Dani here.

I am so sorry that I missed my regular recommendations post last week. It was actually supposed to be this post, but I didn’t have it completely written up and I was stressed out a bit and my muscles were sore from work so I ended up not getting on my computer at all.

It’s a horrible excuse, and I’m trying to do better.

Anyway, today I want to talk to you about some standalone reads. You know, books that don’t have sequels or spin-offs or companion novels. Just nice simple stories that begin and end in just a single tome.

Let’s get started.

Okay, so do you know what I learned while trying to come up with a list of books to recommend for this particular post? Well, I learned a couple of things. First, most of the standalone books I read tend to fall in the contemporary category. And second, most of the standalones on this list are books I’ve recommended before.

Obviously I find each of these books to be good to read, and if I have a review posted I will go ahead and link to the review so you can learn all of my thoughts and feelings on them, but I’ve talked about each of these books before so I’m sure you don’t want to hear me say the same stuff all over again.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Next I have a recent read, but it definitely deserves to be on the list.

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I loved this book. It was so good, and you can find my review here, so I’ll try not to gush about it or rehash my thoughts in this post, but I think this one definitely set the bar pretty high for other contemporary and/or diverse reads in 2018.

Then I have a more classic recommendation to add to the list, and this is good in both novel or movie form. Actually, I’m feeling like I need to reread and rewatch this one because it has been quite some time since I last visited this world and these characters.

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I just love the way that this one is written. The Princess Bride is a classic for a reason. This book is set up as if someone came through and pretty much edited the book. So you’ll have this editor make commentary about removing 8 pages of text about the items a character is packing for a trip, and then two pages later there is another comment about removing 6 pages that detailed unpacking the things that were just packed a few pages earlier. It is just a wonderfully amusing read. (From what I remember anyway…it has been several years since I last read it).

Finally, I personally don’t really consider these ones to be standalones, but they technically are, so I’ll just briefly mention them here.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Both of these (and the upcoming third book Record of a Spaceborn Few) take place in the same setting and may mention the same characters and such, but they are technically self-contained stories. They are listed as part of the Wayfarers series, but are marketed as standalones. Still, they are wonderful and diverse, and I do very much recommend them.

Then there’s Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (I can’t add the third book–Beneath the Sugar Sky–yet because I haven’t read it). These books are collectively part of the Wayward Children series, but they follow different characters and can be read as standalones.

So there you have it…my standalone recommendations. As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any books to recommend for this particular topic, feel free to tell me about them in the comments.

I’ll see you tomorrow with my January Wrap Up post.

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

Review: Love Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Hey all, Dani here.

My goodness, I have been a truly awful book blogger lately. I didn’t even get my regular recommendation post up last Thursday, so I’m sorry about that. I am currently working to try and get at least a couple posts up this week for all of you. Because it is completely true that I have a rather lengthy list of manga and comic reviews I can write up, and I also have a bunch of book tags that I can put together relatively quickly. It’s really just about sitting down and taking the time to write them up.

Anyway, today I just have to put up a review for one of the books I was most highly anticipating for the year of 2018. For the past few months I had heard so much about this book, from other bloggers and vloggers being excited about it, to hearing a few really good reviews.

So, let’s just jump into this.

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Summary

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Oh my…this book was so good. Maya was such a fun protagonist, and by that I mean that her love of making movies and studying cinematography was just so clear and it just helped me enjoy her so much. I love seeing how people/characters just seem to light up when they talk about something they are passionate about.

I can also say that it was really cool that the crime mentioned in the summary of the book doesn’t happen until around the halfway point, so we get to spend a lot of time getting used to Maya, her friends, her family, and her normal life before everything is turned upside down.

There was also an interesting culture clash as Maya’s parents had immigrated to the United States and Maya was born there, so her parents and all their friends and such were still very much rooted in the culture of where they grew up, whereas Maya is pretty much the average American teen, so she ends up arguing with her parents about things on a somewhat frequent basis.

But you know what, it’s nice that we have a YA book where the parents are actually present, and they truly parent their child. Though after the terror attack I feel that they definitely head into very overprotective parent mode.

I guess the only part of the story that didn’t completely wow me was the romance plot, but I can say that I still liked it. The problem for me was that the one guy Maya liked was with someone else for most of the book, and when Maya thought that he had broken up with his girlfriend, others still saw them together and it made it seem like they weren’t actually broken up. Honestly though, I guess that does have a sense of realness to it, because when I was a teen (which was seriously a little over a decade ago, but still), there were a number of wishy-washy couples, where you weren’t sure if they were or weren’t together at any given time.

Okay, so I want to very briefly talk about a part that really impressed me with this book, but I’m going to have to be pretty vague, because I don’t want to spoil things. At the end of the book, Maya makes a decision about whether to stay at home according to her parents’ wishes, or head off to New York and film school like she would like. Her decision, and how others respond to her decision, did not go as I had thought it would, and I was actually really pleased with that.

So overall I am so glad I read this book, and it is definitely worth the read. It ranks higher than Dear Martin for me, but I still need to read The Hate U Give and see where it falls in the ranking. Having books that focus on issues of race and discrimination and different cultures is massively important for our world today, and I hope that all you lovely readers get a chance to pick up books like this one.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Love, Hate & Other Filters from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Recommendations: Card Games

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I’m changing up my recommendations post just a teeny bit. I still have a few more bookish options coming up in the future, but I mentioned before that I’m a bit of a geek and a gamer. Namely I get together with my friends and we play tabletop games (board games, card games, dice games, etc.), so I thought perhaps I would share some of my favorites with you lovely people.

I’m going to start off with card games, as in games played using cards. These games are fun and pretty simple to play. All you need is the deck of cards required to play. And yes, while games like Go Fish, or Euchre, or 500 Rummy, or UNO are all great games, they won’t be found on this list.

Oh, and I should say that when I list off the game, I will also include a link to a YouTube video for the Geek & Sundry web series TableTop, hosted by Wil Wheaton, where he plays a bunch of tabletop games with some awesome geeky friends. These videos are typically around a half-hour in length and give you a pretty decent idea of how the game is played. Plus they are just fun to watch.

Okay, let’s just jump into this.

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Munchkin

This game is like playing a RPG but without the hours of character creation and thinking up a backstory and all of that. It is a basic dungeon crawl type scenario where you want to be the person who reaches 10th level first. There are a number of versions of Munchkin, from Zombies to Cthulu, and so many expansions that it can occupy a number of hours. And since part of the fun of Munchkin is either teaming up with your friends or backstabbing them so you can level up faster, it also makes the game have pretty good replay value.

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Gloom

Why do I love this game? Well, because it is a card storytelling game and your goal is to make the other families happy while making your own family miserable and then killing them all. I know that it sounds a bit weird, but you when by having the biggest negative score. This is also a game with a few expansion sets, which allow you to add in extra families, unwanted guests, unhappy homes and more.

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Fluxx

Yes, the version I have of this particular game is Star Fluxx. Okay, technically I have Firefly Fluxx as well. Moving on. Anyway, what is fun about this game is that the rules are constantly in flux. What you need to do to win changes based on the cards played, and the number of cards you draw and play each turn are also based on the cards that are played. Star Fluxx has cards inspired by various sci-fi movies and TV shows, and Firefly Fluxx is obviously focused on the show Firefly. There are so many different Fluxx games out there, so I’m sure you can find one that would fit your interests.

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Chez Geek

The basic concept for this card game is that all the players are roommates, and you are trying to collect as many slack points as possible. You do this by drinking, sleeping, eating, getting nookie, etc. I play this with my regular game group quite a bit and it’s always fun to see what job you decide to get so you can afford to buy food, drinks, and entertainment.

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Dixit

I love this card game. It is a illustrated bluffing and guessing style game. On each player’s turn they will choose one of their own cards and then say a word or a phrase as a clue to what the card is. Then they place that card face down and every other player also chooses a card from their hand that they think best fits the clue. The pile of cards is shuffled and then the players try to guess which card belongs to the clue giver. Points are given based on correct answers, but beware, because if everyone guesses the correct card they get the points and not the clue giver. Dixit also has expansions that add extra cards to the deck for more variety in play and the clues.

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Once Upon a Time

Another storytelling card game, so these are best played with fellow book lovers or storytellers. Each player has a hand of cards that are character or plot elements of a story, as well as a happy ending card. When it is their turn they are the Storyteller and began to weave together a tale utilizing the cards in their hand. The goal is to be the person to manipulate the story so that you can play all of your cards, including your happily ever after card. The other players can interrupt the story and become the Storyteller by using on of their cards. It’s just a whole lot of fun.

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Love Letter

For a simple and easy to carry around game, look no farther than Love Letter. This game is so compact, and is designed for 2-4 players. Basically all the players are trying to get love letters to the princess and earn her love, which is measured by little square blocks. I will also say that this is a super fast game to play, so it works well if you are having a marathon game night and need something quick in between those longer board games.

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Sushi Go

I love this game so much. The artwork is adorable and it is so fun and quick and easy to play. Everyone has a hand of cards, they select one and set it down. Then the pass that hand to the next player. This repeats and continues until all the cards have been selected. Collecting certain combinations of sushi earns you a certain amount of points. After three rounds of play you count up the totals and the winner is the person with the highest score. It is simple and my friends and I generally enjoy playing it…though for some of us it makes us want to go out to eat sushi.


All right then, that is it for my recommendation post this week. If you have any card games you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments.