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.

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Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Conventions, Graphic Novel, Manga, Readathon, Reading Challenge, Self-Published Books, Signal Boost

July Wrap Up and August TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to August. At the time this post goes live, I will probably be sitting in an Irish pub in Indianapolis, relaxing before the start of Gen Con. Why an Irish pub, you may ask? Well, as today is my birthday I got to choose where to eat dinner, and I just really wanted to hang out with my fiance and our nerd friends who came with us, and have a nice adult beverage…because I turned 30 today, so I can do that.

Also, heads up, sorry if I am not as quick at liking or responding to your comments over the next several days. Gen Con runs from Thursday through Sunday, and I will likely be soaking in all the nerd gear and books and gaming equipment, instead of playing on my phone. But I promise, I’m still here, and I will get back to you as soon as I am able.

Okay, let’s get started. First up, the books I read over the month of July. I feel like this past month was a pretty good one for reading. I participated in two different readathons and just generally was in a mood for devouring stories. As always, if I have a review up, I will include the link back to it, just in case you are interested or missed it.

The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead — 5 stars

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor — 4 stars

Save the Date by Morgan Matson — 4.5 stars

Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone — 5 stars

Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd — 5 stars

My Hero Academia Vigilantes, Vol 1 by Hideyuki Furuhashi — 4 stars

And I Darken by Kiersten White — 5 stars

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse — 4.5 stars

Blackened White by Brian W Foster — 4 stars

Terminal Alliance by Jim C Hines — 4.5 stars

Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell — 5 stars

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S Dawson and Kevin Hearne — 5 stars

Game of Secrets by Kim Foster — 4 stars

Vox Machina Origins by Matthew Coville, Chris Northrop, Olivia Samson, and Matthew Mercer — 5 stars

All right, and then there were the other stories I consumed over the month, namely movies and TV shows. I kept track of them just in case anyone was interested, and I guess I enjoy having a record of what I’ve seen, so this segment of my monthly wrap up may be here to stay.

Pokemon: the series — Sun & Moon (season 1) — 4 stars, Kung Fu Panda 3 — 4.5 stars, Ant-Man and the Wasp — 5 stars, The Princess Diaries (again) — 5 stars, Ella Enchanted (again) — 4 stars, Happy Gilmore (again) — 5 stars, The Mummy — 4 stars, The Mummy Returns — 4.5 stars, Journey to the Center of the Earth — 4 stars

Also, as usual I am still watching “Critical Role” each week and things got really intense and emotional in July. I am so looking forward to seeing the show live and in person this weekend. My fiance and I also started watching a summer show on the CW called “The Outpost,” and it is really interesting so far. The show is created by the same people who did the Mythica series of movies, and those movies are what my fiance and I watched on our first date, so obviously we feel a special connection to all five films. This new series actually has a couple of the same cast members and has a similar feel to the magic as Mythica, so I’m excited to see where it goes from here. Finally, my fiance and I decided that we had taken enough of a break to separate Avatar from Korra, so we started watching The Legend of Korra. We finished Books One and Two, and are almost finished with Book Three, and I am really enjoying it so far. So many of the characters are either connected to characters from the original series or act in a similar manner, and it is really entertaining to watch.

I do believe that is all for what I saw this month.

Next up is the book haul and OwlCrate unboxing portions of this post. This month is a little special because I am separating my fiance’s haul into its own section. There was a manga sale on Barnes & Noble and he decided to stock up on some reads and start prepping posts, because he is getting really excited about joining me here on this blog. He has figured out what name he wants to go by, because he doesn’t want to use his real name, so like me he has come up with a pen name, and now we are just figuring out his review policy and rating system. So his debut should be soon. Okay, let’s just get into his haul already.

There are a few of these manga volumes that I plan to check out as well, so we may see me switch to mini reviews on the manga when he starts doing his reviews.

Next up is my haul, and I also purchased some manga because that deal was too good to pass up. Plus I got a few other books I was pretty excited about. And I am so happy with the OwlCrate for July, though it was a book I had recently purchased, so I now have two copies. I actually do prefer the OwlCrate cover, so I may end up unhauling the original.

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Finally, there is my August TBR to announce. And I can honestly say that I haven’t exactly planned out a TBR really just yet for this one. Oh boy, I guess I need to go stare at my shelves and figure that out. Hold on a moment.

Okay, so the next volume of My Hero Academia will be released in August, as will the fifth volume of Rat Queens. I will most likely be getting and reading both of those. My most anticipated release of the year will be out in August, but not until the 28th, so I don’t exactly think I can include it on my TBR, but you can definitely expect Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis to be on my September TBR. Oh, and the next round of the Manga Madness Readathon is taking place in August as well, so I will probably be reading quite a few volumes, but I’ll have a TBR announcement post up for that one soon.

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There, that seems like a decent TBR, though I could always change those up or add more, depending on how the month goes. And I do believe that is all for today. Thanks for reading and commenting and being awesome bookish friends. I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Books!, Readathon, Reading Challenge, Self-Published Books, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading (24)

Hey all, Dani here.

So this past week…not as productive for reading as the previous week. Last week, I was needed for a different job/position at work, but it also required me to leave first shift for a week and go to second shift. The first half of that week I was doing great, getting a lot of reading done while at work, and I was feeling good. But then I started to get really tired because of completely wrecking my sleep schedule, and not really getting to see my fiance for more than perhaps 30 minutes or so a day.

To be honest, my sleep schedule is still completely off, but I’m hoping to adjust it back to normal before next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, in my last update, I was in the middle of the Summer Biannual Bibliothon, and I was talking about how I had finished three of my planned reads, and was starting the fourth one. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I meant to start the fourth one, but like I mentioned, I was also really tired. I didn’t read anything.

My current read is still Terminal Alliance by Jim C Hines, because I have made no progress at all on this read since last week.

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This also means that I haven’t even picked up Now I Rise by Kiersten White yet, but I do plan to read the rest of the trilogy very soon. It’s just that I had some anticipated releases and new book purchases that I really want to read as well, so those might take priority for now.

One of the books I’m hoping to start and finish very soon, possibly even tonight is Blackened White by Brian W Foster. I want to read it before I go to GenCon next week, and it is supposed to be a rather short book, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, it is a lot of poems and essays and short stories. But Brian W Foster will be at the convention with the cast of “Critical Role,” so if I’m very lucky, maybe I can get him to sign his book. That would be pretty cool.

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Well, I guess that’s all for today. Hopefully I have a better post next week, especially since Dewey’s Summer Reverse Readathon is this weekend. I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

Hey all, Dani here.

As we are at the halfway point of the year, this tag definitely seems appropriate to post up now. I was recently tagged by Katie from Never Not Reading, which is exciting because Katie is awesome, so you should definitely go check out her blog. Anyway, I’m happy to be doing this tag, especially right before I post up my top ten reads of 2018 so far post–which is coming next week.

Okay, the rules for this are simple: answer the prompts. That being said, let’s just get started.

Best Book You’ve Read so far in 2018

Man, this is such a spoiler for my upcoming post. Plus, I don’t like actually ranking my reads. But, if I have to give an answer, my choice is going to have to be Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

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Best Sequel You’ve Read so far in 2018

I have to go with The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco for this one. I am such a huge fan of this series, and I am prepared to beg for an early copy of the third book, because I need to know what happens next.

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Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

Hands down, this one goes to Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis. It comes out at the end of August, a year after the first book. But I read the first book early thanks to getting an ARC at BookExpo, so my wait has been extra long, and the first book was my absolute top read of 2017, so I am ready to drop everything else I’m reading to dedicate myself to this release as soon as I have it in my hands.

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Biggest Disappointment

Oooh…um, well, I think I’m going to pick two different books for this one, sadly. Those books are Ship It by Britta Lundin and The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara.

Biggest Surprise

I guess this prompt is going to Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. The concept sounded interesting, but the fact is that I’m still not really a fan of zombies in books/TV shows/movies. So this book ended up being an absolute favorite read of mine and I’m glad I just decided to dive in and see what happens.

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Favorite New Author (or new to you)

There have been so many new to me authors this year. For this one, I think I’m going to have to say either Claire Legrand or A.C. Gaughen. I absolutely loved both Furyborn by Legrand, and Reign the Earth by Gaughen.

Newest Fictional Crush

My fiance might take offense to this one. Actually, I jest, because he has known since the beginning of our relationship that I would always have new book boyfriends or book girlfriends popping up into my life. Fictional crushes are totally fine in our relationships. No judgment. Okay, so I haven’t really had many crushes this year, but I will say Eamon O’Brien from Now A Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy is probably the closest to being considered a crush.

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Newest Favorite Character

Some of these are tough. In the interest of talking about more books in this post, I try not to pick something for more than one category, so for this I’m going to pick Cameron from Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner.

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Book That Made You Cry and Book That Made You Happy

Without a question, both of these go to the Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins comic series. I read issues #4-6 in 2018, and these characters will always make me super emotional. I have followed their adventures for a few years now, and I have posters for them in my apartment, and so so many Critical Role t-shirts. So yeah, I’m a huge fan.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

In 2018, definitely Love, Simon. I thought that the book was good but not as amazing as the hype made it sound, but I absolutely adored the movie.

Favorite Post You’ve Done This Year

This is a hard one. Most of my posts are wrap-ups or reviews. Well, I guess I’ll go with the Bookish Academy Awards post. I have a lot of fun going through my previous year’s reads, and selecting the winners for each category.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

Hmm…I’d have to say the special hardcover release of Hounded by Kevin Hearne. Subterranean Press is doing a limited run special edition for the whole series. I pre-ordered this last year technically, but it just arrived in the mail a week or so ago, so I’m going to count it as a 2018 purchase. They should be doing the pre-order for book two very soon.

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New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

There are so many books that fit this one. I’ll just choose a few.

Book You Need to Read by the End of the Year

So very many books. Have you seen my book hauls and TBRs? I need more time to read all the books. Obviously all of the books I mentioned in the last prompt, plus…I guess I’ll just toss these ones in as well.


If you have not yet done this post, then consider yourself TAGGED. I’d love to see what your Mid Year Book Freakouts look like. That’s all for today, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Comic Review: Vox Machina Origins Issue #5

Hey all, Dani here.

I am finally back with a review. I know that I’ve been very sporadic with posts lately, and I really need to do better with that. I will do better, because part of my issue is organizing and scheduling my time. We are doing a huge spring clean of our apartment, and then I won’t have any more excuses. Hopefully.

Anyway, as per my usual, I have to review the latest issue of this lovely comic, because I am sincerely hoping that Dark Horse gives the green light for more of the early adventures of Vox Machina. This current arc is only set to be 6 issues, so it is almost over.

Let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Vax—alone on the Myriad’s floating fortress galleon, The Mockingbird—fights his way to freedom with nary a weapon or ally around save his wits and agility to escape his captors.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

For those who aren’t already aware, this is a prequel to the web series, Critical Role, which follows a group of nerdy voice actors as they sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons. Originally they played at home, but they were invited to start live streaming their sessions online, and 3 years ago yesterday the first episode aired. Since then, millions of ua have joined in to watch the adventures and discover what will happen next.

This comic series takes us back to before the characters were saviors of the world, back when they hadn’t even joined together as a group. We get to watch in the comics as they meet and their paths begin to intertwine. It is honestly fantastic.

One of my favorite characters joins the story in this issue, Vex’s bear companion, whose name is Trinket. He is an awesome bear.

Anyway, we get to see more of the characters interacting with each other and starting to band together to stop a town that is being poisoned.

I genuinely look forward to seeing what happens in issue 6, but it makes me sad as well, because I’m not ready for it to be over. I want more awkward Keyleth, and more Scanlan quips, and bumbling Tiberius. I really want to see both Percy and Pike in the story, and I know that Percy joins the group in a later adventure.

The artwork is still really cool. I like that they chose their artists from the Ceitter community. It just helps to showcase how truly amazing the fan base of this show/these characters/the actors are.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this issue, as well as all previous issues from Amazon, Comixology, or Dark Horse.

Book Review, Books!, Graphic Novel, Signal Boost

Comic Review: Vox Machina Origins Issues #3-4

Hey all, Dani here.

I know, what is this awesomeness…three posts in three days. I actually am starting to somewhat feel like a book blogger again. Hopefully I can keep going with more posts. Transitioning back to my old job has not been as easy as I had hoped it would be.

Anyway, obviously I have reviewed every issue of this comic series so far (find my reviews here: issue 1, issue 2, and issue 3–hmm, so apparently I didn’t review that one. I guess I’ll do that now too), so there was no way I was going to skip reviewing the latest installment.

Let’s just get started.

 

Summary

Keyleth and Tiberius find themselves in unsavory company, but that’s the only kind of company to be found in Stilben. Paid by the Clasp to stop the attack on the peasants, our heroes follow their noses and uncover an alchemical laboratory hidden in the city’s sewer.
They arrive to find a pair of half-elves fighting a gnome and a half-giant. With all the people tracking her in one place, the architect of the swamp curse springs her trap…
• Based on the hit show from Geek & Sundry!

The sinister Iselda has captured Vax, and Vex must swallow her pride to ask for aid from other heroes. But when they refuse, Vex decides to retrieve a friend outside of town … but not before Keyleth catches up to her and pledges to help.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

These comics are just so darn good, especially since the new campaign has begun and we have started with a bunch of all new characters who are only at level 2. It pretty much makes you think back on the early days of Vox Machina, which we never got to actually see on the show, but these comics definitely cover those times.

They aren’t even a group yet. They are three separate groups, but I am really seeing the beginnings of them coming together to become the awesome heroes of Tal’Dorei that they eventually become.

Okay, for those of you who aren’t already aware, this comic series is based on the pre-campaign tales of the group Vox Machina from the web series Critical Role, which is a show where “a group of nerdy ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons.” It has been airing on Geek & Sundry for a couple years now, and it is probably the geek hobby/show/whatever that I’m most passionate about.

I could honestly say so much about what Dungeons & Dragons has done for me or meant to me the past couple years, but that is a whole separate post. Instead, I’ll say that this is a fun way to learn about the characters, and if you give these comics a try and you enjoy what you read, perhaps you should either check out the episodes on Geek & Sundry’s YouTube (there are now 118 of them, and they are typically 3-5 hours each), or you can also get them in a more condensed podcast form (I have heard they are more like 1 hour per episode) found wherever you can listen to podcasts.

Anyway, back to the comic. All the amazing, humorous, and witty dialogue just makes my day. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve chuckled at something one of them says (typically Scanlan, but he’s the bard so it makes sense that he would say some spectacular things). And I actually also really enjoy having Tiberius around; it has shown me how much I miss the early days of the show, though I love all the little story points that happen because Tibsy eventually left.

There are so many great moments in these issues, and then you partner that with fun writing, and wonderful art, and it just makes for a fabulous reading experience…for the roughly 25 pages or so of content that we get in each issue.

Issue #4 is absolutely my favorite of the group so far, but I feel like I say that each time a new one comes out. We get to see Keyleth wild shape into her Minxy form (seen on the cover of Issue #4), and there are some lovely moments with Scanlan and Vax, and Scanlan and Grog. Plus we finally get a wonderful mention of one of my favorite missing members of Vox Machina…namely Vex’s companion animal, who just happens to be a brown bear, though that hasn’t been revealed in the comic yet. It simply ends with her saying she needs to go out to the woods to pick up a trinket she left behind. What is clever about that is that her bear’s name is Trinket, and he is awesome.

So I’m really looking forward to Issue #5 because we’ll get Trinket involved. Though I’m still wondering if we’ll actually get to see Percy in this story arc, because he’s only really been in the intro part of like Issue #1.

I honestly hope that Dark Horse comics decides to give us more than just the 6 issue arc we’re in the middle of currently. There are so many more early adventures for Vox Machina that could be covered, and obviously we Critters will pretty much buy anything related to Critical Role.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this lovely single issue comic (or any of the previous issues) at Amazon, Dark Horse, and Comixology. After the whole 6 issue arc is completed, there will be a bound release available as well.

Book Releases, Book Review, Book Tag, Books!, Conventions, Cover Reveal, Graphic Novel, Manga, NaNoWriMo, NetGalley, Readathon, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost, TBR Purge, Writing

The Road So Far (2)

Hey all, Dani here.

Why mess with the tradition I started last year? I might as well keep using the awesome “Supernatural” reference for my retrospective over the last year. You can find my overview of 2016 here.

Today also happens to be my 2 year blogaversary. I started this blog in 2016 to help me cope with my paternal grandmother’s death. Well, technically that was the catalyst for starting it; I had been thinking of starting up a blog again for a while because I needed to talk about books with someone.

2017 was such a rollercoaster year for me, and yet, looking back I wouldn’t change any of the lows I went through. Not only because the highs really kept me afloat, but also because the lows allowed me to fully understand how great the highs were.

Anyway, in January I found out that I was approved for the vacation days from work that would allow me to go to Book Expo and BookCon. Though I knew I was going alone, I knew that I would have a fun time surrounded by other book lovers and getting to check out a bunch of upcoming releases.

Also in January, my parents separated after 30 years together, and started the process of getting a divorce. The drama and issues from this event would send shockwaves through roughly 2/3 of the year.

I lost myself in books, both reading them and buying them. I pushed myself to work more on my blog, and to start interacting more with other members of the book community. It was the start to me really feeling like a good book blogger. But in those early months it was also the way I had to cope with what was happening in my life. Well, my books and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was Dungeons & Dragons that introduced me to the man who I would start dating in April. As it turns out this would be the event that helped me get through everything else. Admittedly, I know some people in my real life got annoyed with how much I gushed about my guy and how great things were. I can’t help it that my life started to feel like I was part of a romance story.

After my trip to NYC for Book Expo and BookCon, my blog really started to take off. I reached 100 followers, and later in the year 200. I’m not sure when follower 250 came around, but it might have been just before 2017 ended. So thank you to each and every one of you who has joined me in this process. You are all amazing.

Even with my work and my relationship, I somehow managed to still keep up with all of my reading and blogging, and actually I started having posts go up every single day, something I never would have thought I would be able to do.

I participated in quite a few readathons over the course of the year, from both sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, to a few other assorted events. All in all I think those helped me connect with more of you, and to read a bunch more books. The 24 Hour events always seem much more successful to me than the week long events, but I still keep trying with them. Hey, any excuse to read more, right?

I rekindled my fondness for manga in 2017, and I can honestly say that I am devouring so many of them. My list of manga reviews waiting to be written up is getting decently long.

Oh, and my boyfriend and I were able to go to Indianapolis in August with another friend of ours for a one day pass to Gen Con, which is a gaming convention. There we were able to get a lot of books, dice, and games, as well as to meet the cast of Critical Role. It was a really fun day.

For the 12th time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and managed to earn my 12th win, but I realize that the novel that came out is mostly incoherent. With any luck I’ll be able to start from scratch and re-write the book in 2018. I’d actually love to be able to share it with the world. And it would be nice to really get back into writing (and possibly publishing) again.

And I managed to do a TBR purge and go through a list of well of 800 books on Goodreads, taking it down to just over 400 books. I imagine this will be something I’ll have to do again soon, but I still feel pretty good with where I’m at now.

But, the greatest event of 2017 was towards the end of December. On Friday, December 22nd, on a day when we thankfully had a shutdown day at work, my boyfriend and I went shopping at Barnes & Noble where he both bought more books than me and spent more money than me. You guys, that rarely happens. You’ve seen my typical book hauls. I usually get a heck of a lot of books.

After that shopping trip, we made our way to the zoo, where we walked around for a couple hours, looking at all of the animals and then also checking out the massive holiday light display they put up each year. And it was while sitting on a bench overlooking Conservation Lake at the zoo, that my wonderful boyfriend sank down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was honestly just like a scene out of a Hallmark channel holiday movie, and I so look forward to seeing what our future will be like.

I hope you all had some moments of 2017 that were really nice as well, and I hope that we all have a very nice 2018.

Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Comic Mini Reviews: Monstress Vol 1 and Vox Machina Origins #2

Hey all, Dani here.

As this post goes live I will have taken a pause in my reading for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon to host a session of Dungeons & Dragons. For once my boyfriend is getting to play, because I’m the Dungeon Master this time around. If everything goes well, we won’t run the session for 12+ hours so I can get a few more hours of reading time in later.

But anyway, I’m back with a couple more comic mini-reviews so let’s just get started.

Summary (Monstress)

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Summary (Vox Machina)

Scanlan and Grog loot a shark-man temple in the swamp outside Stilben. Returning to the city, they’re almost killed by assassins and then almost arrested by the Watch! What the hell is going on in Stilben? And what does this pompous sorcerer want?
• Based on the hit show from Geek & Sundry!

My Thoughts

Ratings: Monstress (4 stars) and Vox Machina (5 stars)

I read Monstress last week during Readathon by Zoe, and the artwork is stunning. The story plot was intriguing and I did read this rather quickly because I didn’t really want to put it down for too long. What ended up reducing the rating for me was that the world-building and how that connected to the plot was so wonderfully complex that after reading this first volume, I am still really trying to wrap my mind around all of it. A lot of the information was practically dumped on us over the course of the first volume and it felt like a bit much. I’m still really looking forward to reading Volume 2 though.

Vox Machina: Origins #2…well, after my post yesterday, (and the couple of other times I’ve posted about Critical Role), I’m sure you are all aware of how much I love these characters and this story. With the adventures of Vox Machina now concluded, it is so wonderful to have these monthly comics that tell the whole story of how they all met and formed their now legendary adventuring party. These comics tell stories from before their original home game began, and seeing the characters in the very early days is so fascinating. This particular issue follows Scanlan the gnome bard and Grog the goliath barbarian, and it is just as wildly entertaining as I would expect from these two. Scanlan is awesomely charismatic, and Grog’s low intelligence is still wholly endearing. And I’m glad we got to see Tiberius Stormwind in this issue as well. I imagine that the next issue will bring Vex, Vax, and Keyleth, and Scanlan, Grog, and Tiberius together for the first time. I am sad I have to wait a whole month to read the next installment.

Where to Buy

Monstress: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository

Vox Machina: Amazon, Dark Horse Dark Horse, Comixology

Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost

End of a Journey: Vox Machina

Hey all, Dani here.

My post today is somewhat related to books, but mostly pertains to storytelling and creativity. Stories have an impact on all of us. This is something we know as readers. We connect with these tales and these characters, and for the stories that impact us the most, it all feels completely real. Sometimes the characters in these tales, these adventures, start to feel like friends, and when the journey ends it is bittersweet. Hopefully everything worked out and they had a relatively happy ending, but we’re also sad because it is over.

This is what I have been dealing with for the past week. I have been watching the web series Critical Role for two years now. Every week I would spend 3-5 hours watching the newest episode. It is a Dungeons & Dragons show, where a group of nerdy voice actors have moved their home game into a studio at Geek & Sundry and are streaming it so we can all watch it.

Critical Role, following the journey of adventuring party Vox Machina, came into my life at the perfect time. Things were tense at my house with my ailing grandmother living with us and the tension that caused between my parents. I didn’t have any sort of social life aside from my coworker friends who I basically only saw at work. My only refuge from the negative aspects of my life was books…and then this show.

And after 115 episodes, the story of Vox Machina came to a close. For episode 114, which was the big boss fight, and then episode 115, which was the recovery from the fight and then the epilogues of the characters, I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to watch. I laughed, I cried, I worried, and I absolutely cried some more. I’m sure I could actually look up how many hours the show has run for total, but it is roughly somewhere between 350-600 hours. That is a lot of time to spend with a group of characters.

I really felt like I knew them. And of course, I have met them…twice. I went to a live show of an episode in August 2016, and then my boyfriend and I went and saw them this year at GenCon.

I own so much merchandise for the show: shirts, and dice, and Major Arcana Tarot cards, and an apron, and posters, and pencils, and the campaign setting book for the world created in the story.

This show is what really got me to talk to my friends and start playing Dungeons & Dragons. And because of playing D&D, I met my boyfriend.

So to say that Critical Role has made my life so much better, so much richer, and so much happier is truly an understatement.

Here we are a week later and I’m still watching recap videos of the final episodes. I’m still staring at the amazing fanart that other Critters have drawn. Obviously I’m also reading the new Vox Machina origin comic series–which issue #2 came out this week, and naturally I’ve already read it. I have a couple more comic mini reviews coming very soon.

I’ve also started to rewatch it all from the beginning.

I know that a new campaign will be starting soon and the cast of voice actors are creating new characters for it. I realize that the new campaign will be in the same world roughly a generation later, and so some of Vox Machina could show up in the future.

But I still feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to some dear friends. I’ll never forget their stories, their legend. I’ll never forget how much all of this means to me. Some days, though, I’ll just have moments where it hits me that the story is over (for now). I don’t like goodbyes. It is why I have several book series where I haven’t finished the final book, because I’m not ready to let go.

It all has me thinking about the stories that connected with us and impacted us the most. What book/series did that for you? Or maybe it was a movie, or a TV series, or a music album. Let me know what stories you hold near and dear to your heart.

Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Signal Boost, Writing

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

Hey all, Dani here.

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and boy have I missed it. Honestly, aside from these blog posts, I have not done much writing lately, and I certainly have not done a whole lot of creative writing. And I really miss it. I’ve told myself that I need to set up a schedule and block out some time for writing every day and then I just don’t hold myself to it.

Thankfully I have the month of November to get me back into the rhythm of writing regularly.

nano-2017-participant-facebook-cover

Okay, firstly, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event where each November participants attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel over the course of 30 days. Sounds pretty intense right? Well, honestly, sometimes it can be. Thankfully there are thousands of other writers attempting the same feat so you never really feel alone. You can even join regional forums based on where you live and you’ll be connected with other writers near you. Typically this also includes a person (or people) called Municipal Liaisons (MLs). These lovely people are the ones who organize meet-ups, a kick-off party, write-ins throughout the month, and a wrap party once it is over with.

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006, and it has just been such an enriching experience. In 2008 I became a Municipal Liaison, and I was one of the many founding donors for the Camp NaNoWriMo program, which is basically NaNoWriMo but in the summertime. I have written so many words and learned so much these past years and I’m so glad that I get to keep going.

This year would have been my tenth year as an ML, but sadly because of so much stuff happening in my real life, I missed the sign up deadline, something I never came close to missing before. So this year I get to watch as my co-ML runs the region on her own…well, officially anyway. Everyone knows that I’m not going anywhere, and am more than happy to answer questions and offer up advice and inspiration to any who need it.

But in some ways I’m actually glad that I just get to focus on my writing, instead of planning write-ins and pep talks, and spending a lot of time on the regional forums or on my region’s Facebook page.

In basically every previous NaNo, I wrote a fantasy or paranormal story, typically with just a hint of romance in it. But this year another story wants to be told, and it means a bit more of a challenge for me. See, events of my life this year have inspired me. At the beginning of this year I went to a friend’s house to start a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and there I met the amazingly wonderful and geeky man who has become my boyfriend.

So I want to write a geeky romance story, a story of two people who met while playing D&D and then bonded over board games and movies and other nerdy hobbies.

But I also know that I want the D&D campaign within the book to play a significant role too…so I plan on intertwining a fantasy story through the novel. It should be interesting at the very least.

I have basic sketches of most of the characters already finished and a general idea of the contemporary plot. I’m still thinking about the fantasy campaign story. Over the years I have learned that I can’t do a lot of writing down ideas and such because then I’ll struggle with writing the actual story in November. So I just come up with a few loose ideas and then fly by the seat of my pants the rest of the way. It works for me. Some people spend all of October drafting up elaborate outlines, and that’s fine too.

What I’m trying to do now is to come up with a good title I can use during this first draft process. I told my boyfriend that I don’t want something that is too ridiculous or cheesy, but the only thing that keeps coming to mind is “Roll for Romance.” He laughed and told me that was a perfect title and I should use it.

I guess unless something better comes along, that’s my title. I plan to draft up a quick book summary soon, and then I’ll be ready to write.

And look guys, I’m making more progress with my library/study. I should have it all finished just in time for NaNoWriMo to start, so that’ll be nice. Having a dedicated writing space can sometimes help the mind focus on the task at hand. I’ll just say here that my books aren’t fully in order yet, because I still have about half of my library to move from my mom’s house, and I still have a few more bookcases to assemble.

So are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let me know, and good luck! And if you have any suggestions for my book title (or if you really like Roll for Romance, let me know those as well.