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

September Wrap-Up and October TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

September has come and gone, and now we have opened our calendars up to October. That is just such a crazy thought to me. How are we this close to the end of 2018 already? The weather is starting to cool down where I am and the leaves are beginning to change color.

What I love is that as it gets colder outside, all I want to do is to curl up under a blanket inside. Oh, and naturally I want to have that cozy beverage of hot tea or hot cocoa beside me while I’m enjoying all the extra reading time. This is definitely the time of year where I want to delve into longer fantasy reads, or just larger TBR stacks in general. The cold weather and I just do not get along.

Anyway, it is time once again to wrap up everything I both read and watched over the last month, before diving into my book haul, my monthly OwlCrate unboxing, and my tentative TBR for this lovely and spooky October. It has been a pretty good month, so I’m excited to talk about everything with all of you.

First up, let’s go over everything I managed to read in the month of September.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco — 5 stars

Fairy Tail Vol 1 by Hiro Mashima — 5 stars

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry — 4 stars

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep — 5 stars

Fairy Tail Vol 2 by Hiro Mashima — 5 stars

Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake — 4.5 stars

Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vol 1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick — 4 stars

Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell — 4.5 stars

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake — 5 stars

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco — 5 stars

Endless Quest: Into the Jungle by Matt Forbeck — 4 stars

Endless Quest: Escape the Underdark by Matt Forbeck — 4 stars

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Next up is what I watched for the month. Now, I can’t exactly fully count some of my watches, because while we were at our hotel for our renaissance faire weekend, SyFy was doing a Star Wars movie marathon, and we ended up watching part of Episodes 2, 3, and 4, but not enough of any of them to fully count them as a watch.

The Emperor’s New Groove (5 stars), Princess Diaries 2 (5 stars), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (4 stars), The Princess Bride (5 stars), Scott Pilgrim vs the World (5 stars), My Hero Academia: Two Heroes (5 stars), Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (5 stars), Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (5 stars). As always we are continuing with watching Critical Role Campaign 2, as well as keeping up with My Hero Academia’s current season.  Oh, and we are continuing with our watch through of Fairy Tail, and have finished season three of the show. I am currently so obsessed with the characters and the world of this anime. So, expect to see me start reviewing the manga volumes that I have read very soon. The final watch I need to mention is the fact that I managed to get my fiance to watch A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning (5 stars) on Netflix, and he actually really enjoyed it; I believe we will be watching the rest of the series soon. Our main focus right now is Fairy Tail because the final season of the anime will be airing starting at the end of the month, and it would be really cool if I am caught up by then.

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Oh boy…now it is time for my book haul for the month. We went to Barnes & Noble twice this month, and made a trip to Half-Price Books as well. Pretty much that alone should tell you about my lack of self-control when it comes to adding to my library.

Wow, okay, that was a big haul. Let’s just move on to my OwlCrate unboxing. This month’s box was pretty cool too. I’m definitely happy about the fingerless gloves. Oh, and apparently the October box will have two hardcover books in it, so I am absolutely looking forward to getting this next box.

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Finally, I guess all that is left is my October TBR. I’m going to start with a smaller list, because I’m definitely in a bit of mood reader time right now. Also, October is when the next session of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is being held (Oct 20th), so I will be posting a TBR for that when we get a bit closer to that time.

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Clearly based on my September reading, I need to read Escaping From Houdini soon, and the same goes for Charmcaster. These are both series that I am enjoying so so much. Then I have a little fairy tale poetry collection, which I’m sure will be a pretty quick read, so that will be nice. Rule is about three illegitimate daughters fighting for the crown, and honestly I sort of get a little Three Dark Crowns vibe from it all. Finally, The Lost Queen is a story about the sister of the man who would come to be known as Merlin, and it is described as appealing to fans of Outlander, so I am willing to give it a shot.

Oh, and I do think that I have selected my TBR for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, but I’m just going to prep the post, and you all will see it in another week or so.

That should be all for today, but I will be back soon with more bookish content. Let me know in the comments what your favorite book purchase was in September.

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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, 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!, Conventions, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

Review: Writing With Style: An Editor’s Advice for RPG Writers by Ray Vallese

Hey all, Dani here.

Today’s review is an interesting one, because it is a non-fiction book that is actually a grammar/style guide for writing up books for role playing games. Considering that I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend brainstorming and planning out the world and magic and overall story for our campaigns for both D&D 5th Edition and for Pathfinder, this seemed like a book that could be helpful for us.

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Summary

A Style Guide with Style

Writing With Style: An Editor’s Advice for RPG Writers presents 45 pages of concise tips on simple ways to make your roleplaying game writing cleaner and clearer. This guide doesn’t show you how to structure adventures, build stat blocks, or create worlds. Instead, Ray Vallese looks at some of the most common and easily fixable grammar and style issues he’s encountered in over twenty years of editing RPGs.

Rookie freelancers, industry veterans, and self-publishers alike can benefit from this (mostly) jargon-free guide, which addresses such topics as:

Recasting passive voice into active voice (and when you might not want to)
Dangling participles and other misplaced modifiers
Gender-specific and gender-neutral language
Commonly confused words, empty words, and clichés to avoid
Choice and possibility in player character actions
Final things to check before submitting your manuscript
Tighten and polish your text with these quick and easy tips!

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This book gave me serious flashbacks to school. It was a whole 45 pages of grammar logistics. There were basically four pages alone going over common word swaps and homonyms. You know, the kind of mistakes that won’t be caught by the spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word because the “misspellings” are actually words as well.

I can see this being a very helpful resource for attempts at writing up any of our stories into an RPG format. And again, as it is only 45 pages, it did not take long at all to read it. Now, I will say that most of the book was not quite as useful for me, especially when it reminded the reader to look at the style guides used by each company you plan to pitch your idea to. Having a degree in literature and also having worked for four years on my university’s newspaper, I am quite familiar with the popular style guides: MLA, APA, Chicago, AP. Also, being a writer and researching traditional publication paths, I already know that you should research a company before approaching them with a query or submission so you know what requirements they have. But for the average person these bits of advice are very helpful.

I actually appreciate the concise nature of this book though. After writing out an entire book or a campaign for an RPG, the last thing a writer would want to do is struggle through a lengthy and/or complicated book on writing and editing for RPGs.

What I think will be useful for me now is a book about the actual writing and plotting of a campaign book, as that seems to be something my boyfriend and I might be interested in attempting soon. So, if you have any recommendations on that topic, feel free to share them with me in the comments below.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this book from Open Gaming Store or RPG Now.

Books!, Conventions, Inspiration, Signal Boost

Gen Con Wrap Up

Hey all, Dani here.

This past weekend was a crazy yet fun weekend of reveling in being a geek. Okay, I guess I should be specific and say that Saturday was a day filled with thousands of other geeks all trying to stock up on games and more in Indianapolis for Gen Con.

For those who don’t know, Gen Con is a gaming convention that started back in 1967 and was originally held in Wisconsin. Since 2003 though, it has been held in Indy and is scheduled to remain there at least through 2021. It brings together many companies and designers and such to celebrate gaming. There are panels and demos and such at the Indianapolis Convention Center, but there are also events going on in hotels and other buildings around the city, so that it is actually 4 complete days of gaming. Yes, you can find wonderful geeks playing games any time of day or night during the convention.

While I was in Indy during the weekend of Gen Con in 2016, I was there for a Dungeons & Dragons live stream, not for the convention itself. So this year was my first experience at this particular Con, and I was lucky enough to attend with my boyfriend and one of our other geek friends.

We woke up at 6:00 am on Saturday morning, loaded our things into our rental car and set off for the 3.5 hour drive to Indianapolis. After a pit stop at an IHOP for breakfast, and checking in at our hotel, we drove towards the convention center, parked the car at one of the many parking garages, and headed into the Con.

It was packed! Seriously, getting around the exhibitor hall was sometimes a bit of a struggle. Then again, this was the big 50th year of Gen Con. We did manage to see quite a few awesome booths, and collected a few business cards for the places we plan to shop from in the coming months, and of course we did buy quite a few supplies for D&D and Pathfinder. (And yes, I bought myself 7 new sets of dice. Did I need them? Not really. I already owned like 14 sets. But I wanted them and they looked really cool. Also, the one set is actually gemstone, turquoise to be specific).

When we were at the Lone Wolf Development booth, which also featured displays for Syrinscape and Kobold Press, we were actually approached by one of the new guys on the crew and he told my boyfriend and I that if we had any ideas for a book or a campaign to get in contact with him and pitch the idea. That naturally led to he and I exchanging business cards. So that was pretty cool.

We also made sure to stop at the booth for Green Ronin Publishing, and grabbed our pre-ordered copies of the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting book based on the show Critical Role.

After several hours of wandering the floor and hauling bags that got heavier as we added more and more merch, it was time for us to go to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Critical Role signing. So we dropped our bags off at the car, grabbed a quick drink at Starbucks, and then headed over to a football stadium to wait in line for a few hours.

Waiting in line actually wasn’t that bad, honestly. Because we had purchased tickets in advance, the three of us were able to sit in the stands, and the Gen Con staff brought us down one row at a time to go through the signing line.

I know a bit about sports, but obviously I am not a huge follower of them. But I will say that it was so awesome to see the home of the Indianapolis Colts filled with geeks playing board games and talking about geeky things.

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Now, I had met most of the Critical Role cast last year during my trip to the live show, but Liam O’Brien was absent then. This year he was there, but Ashley Johnson wasn’t due to filming for the show “Blindspot.” So I was able to get Liam’s signature in my Player’s Handbook, completing my set. I also was able to get everyone to sign my Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting book.

And because the cast are amazing people and actually spent a minute or so talking with each of us, I was able to tell Matthew Mercer, the Dungeon Master for the show the story of my boyfriend and I getting together. You see, we met playing Dungeons & Dragons, with me as a player and my boyfriend as the Dungeon Master. But more than that, when we had our first date, I introduced him to the Mythica series of movies, and we watched all five of them on that date. This is relevant because Matthew Mercer played Szorlok, the villain in the series. And Matt being the amazingly big-hearted geek that he is, feels so touched when he hears stories like that.

Oh, and when I talked to Sam Riegel (who plays bard Scanlan Shorthalt in the show) again, I actually gave him a copy of a book I thought he’d enjoy. The book in question: Pop Sonnets. It is a collection of popular songs that have been turned into Shakespearean sonnets. What was really cool about that interaction was that Sam said he would use it for inspiration. See, bards have an ability where they can inspire other characters by playing music, singing songs, reciting poems, etc. And in the past Sam has used poetry books and books of jokes, so it’s entirely possible that he might use my gifted book on the show.

The cast (from left to right): Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Sam Riegel, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, and Matthew Mercer.

Needless to say it was an absolutely wonderful and geeky day, and myself, my boyfriend, and our friend are already planning to go for all 4 days of the convention in 2018.