Book Review, Books!, Diverse December, Graphic Novel, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Review: Lumberjanes – Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to another Middle Grade March review post. Was this a book I read in March? Well, no. Technically this isn’t even a book I read in 2018, but it is still a Middle Grade book, and I’ve also been trying to play catch up on a rather large stack of to be written reviews, so this will help me out with all of that.

Technically I read this book during Diverse December, a reading event hosted by my buddy Kathy over at Books & Munches. As always, I recommend checking out her blog because she is awesome, and the munches photos she puts on her posts always make me hungry.

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Summary

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.

Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they’ve ever seen, things don’t go quite as planned. For one, they didn’t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.

This hilarious, rollicking adventure series brings the beloved Lumberjanes characters into a novel format with brand-new adventures.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

I saw another blogger I follow review this book around the time of its release, and I remember that she raved about how great it was. Even with that glowing review, I was still a bit wary going into the book. Honestly, as someone who loves the comics/graphic novels, I worried that this novel format with the same characters would try to alter them in some way for the middle grade novel.

I don’t know why I worried. It had the same diversity and the same weirdness that I’ve come to expect and love from the Lumberjanes. Not to mention, actually, the adventure the group goes on in this book references earlier adventures from the comics. So this isn’t a reboot or anything like that. No, this is just another way to enjoy the world and the characters, which I really loved and appreciated.

Now for me it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the format, because I’m so used to the visual experience of a comic, but I think it would still be a fun story for someone who doesn’t already read Lumberjanes, and perhaps this would inspire them to check out the previous adventures as well.

I enjoyed that Ripley was still the fun wild child she typically is–to be honest, Ripley may be my favorite, though I like all of them. And I love how wonderfully distinct each girl is. They all have their own style, their own interests and specialities, their own fears and hopes, etc.

So pretty much I will be waiting to read the next Lumberjanes novel installment, because the second book isn’t set to be released until May. Of course there’s always the graphic novels to keep me busy until then…plus all the non-Lumberjanes reads I have waiting for me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this Lumberjanes adventure at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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Book Tag, Books!, Signal Boost

Bookish Academy Awards Tag 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

So, last year I did this tag, and I had a fun time with it so I might as well do it again now. The rules are pretty simple. You have a list of categories, similar to those at the Academy Awards, and you choose the winner from the books you read the previous year. So I’ll be going through the 150 books I read in 2017 and trying to pick winners for this.

Oh, and this tag was originated by BOOKadoodles on YouTube, so you can find her video here.

Let’s get started.

Best Actor: Best Male Protagonist

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Tanner from Autoboyography by Christina Lauren is my choice for this category. I adored this book; it was just so cute.

Best Actress: Best Female Protagonist

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Both Kat and Meg from Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza have to win this category. I so loved their female friendship, and I’m happy to talk about this book again.

Best Cinematography: Best Plot Twist

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Okay, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus was a story I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did, and I was only part right in solving the mystery, and there were so many twists and secrets revealed through the book, so I feel confident naming this the winner from my 2017 reads.

Best Costume Design: Best Book Cover

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I absolutely had to put The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty somewhere on this list, and I guess best cover it is, but the inside is just as stunning, so if you have not already, go check out this wonderful fantasy novel.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Best Male and Female Sidekick

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I have really enjoyed watching this series and reading the comics, and fine, I think that Sokka is a really fun “sidekick”, and Toph is also one of my favorite characters, so the Avatar comics take this category easily.

Best Original Screenplay: Most Unique Plot/World

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Yep, I definitely had to include The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco as a Bookish Academy Award winner. This was another wonderful surprise to me. Yes, the cover is gorgeous, and yes, the concept sounded intriguing, but I’m also not typically a fan of necromancer characters. However the world, and the descriptions of the cultures and such just completely won me over.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation

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I saw the movie and read the series for the first time last year, and technically I did see the movie first, but I just thought it was a great adaptation, so I’m happy that I can include some comics/manga/graphic novels in this post. So, thank you to Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley for being a great read and a great watch.

Best Animated Feature: A book that would work well in animated format

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I couldn’t exactly choose any of the manga I read last year for this category, so this is the next best thing. What is great about watching Critical Role is that I can imagine this being an animated series, but since I don’t think that will happen, so these comics are pretty close to what I would imagine. I absolutely love the Vox Machina: Origins comics because they are a fantastic prequel to the series I adore.

Best Director: A writer you discovered for the first time

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All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis was my favorite read of 2017, so naturally I have to place Katsoulis in the winner’s spot for this category. This was a remarkable story and I am very anxiously awaiting the release of the sequel because oh my goodness…I NEED to know what happens next.

Best Visual Effects: Best action in a book

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So, Warcross by Marie Lu will be my winner here. I really enjoyed the concept and the game of Warcross, and I’m rather looking forward to the sequel later in 2018.

Best Short Film: Best novella or short book

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I do believe this was a shorter read, so it should fit this category. I have been a fan of Nicola E. Sheridan for several years now, so getting to read her newest release, The Magician’s Keeper, was fantastic for me. It is set in the same world as the rest of her stories, so I find that to be really fascinating.

Best Picture: Best standalone

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Pride & Prejudice with dragons, wyverns, hobgoblins and more! Seriously, I cannot rave about Heartstone by Elle Katharine White enough. It is such a wonderful retelling of a classic story, and actually, I probably need to just reread this one soon.

Best Documentary: Best Historical Fiction or Non-fiction

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Of the 150 books I read in 2017, I believe only two were historical fiction, and while I thought The Librarian of Auschwitz was a majorly worthwhile read, my pick for this category is Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. Yes, my Hamilton obsession rears its head again. I’m almost finished reading the sequel right now, and oh boy, it is such a great series.

All right, that is all for today. If you decide to do this tag, let me know because I would love to check out your answers.

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 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 Tag, Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost

Sunshine Blogger Award (3)

Hey all, Dani here.

I feel so honored to have been selected for the Sunshine Blogger Award again, this time by Amanda over at Peaks and Pages. Honestly what is awesome about this tag is that you can do it multiple times because the questions change each time. Also, go check out Amanda’s blog because she is wonderful and has some awesome posts.

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What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?
This award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How does it work?
-Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.
-Answer 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
-Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
-List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your blog.

1. What were your favorite books growing up?

Oh man, that is a tough question. I read soooo many books when I was growing up, and I’m sad that I can’t remember them all because I didn’t have something like Goodreads to keep track of my reading progress. I wish I had filled a notebook with what I read, but I didn’t think about wanting a record of everything I’d read.

Anyway, I absolutely was obsessed with the Animorphs series, and I still own every single one of them. Obviously Harry Potter was a staple of my time in high school-college. There are probably so many more answers that I’m just not thinking of right now, so I’m going to stop with those.
2. Where is your favorite place to read?

I suppose right now my favorite place to read is on my couch, all curled up with a blanket, with a drink and maybe some snacks on the side table.
3. Which genres do you read the most?

Fantasy is still my favorite genre, though paranormal and sci-fi are also good. I guess lately I’ve also been reading more contemporary than I used to.
4. Who is your favorite author?

Y’all know I don’t like picking favorites. There are so many amazing authors I love. Just to name some of my faves: Rachel E. Kelly, Jim C. Hines, Brandon Sanderson, Richelle Mead, Morgan Rhodes, Adam Silvera, Renee Ahdieh…the list could go on and on.
5. What’s a trope or cliché that you’re tired of seeing?

I’m tired of seeing love triangles, which mostly seem to consist of one person who can’t decide which of two others they like. How about more books that focus on strong relationships that don’t have the drama of one possibly cheating on the other? You can find the excitement/drama in other aspects of the story.
6. Who is your OTP?

Hmm…most of the time I’m good with who characters choose to partner with in stories, but I guess I’ll say that I’ve always wished that Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood had ended up together.
7. What is your favorite book-to-screen adaptation?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I suppose is the one I’ll say for this question. You don’t get a better adaptation than one that was written and directed by the book’s author.
8. What is your reading beverage of choice?

I really like drinking a good sweet tea. Though a nice caramel cappuccino (hot or frappuccino) is also good.
9. What’s the most disappointing book you’ve read this year?

Well, this year just started, so I haven’t really had any disappointing reads yet, but the lowest rated reads for me so far have been Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking, and The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West, both of which I gave 4 stars to, so by no means disappointing.
10. What is a sequel you’re highly anticipating?

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco, More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer, Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz, The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead, Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee, and The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, just to name a few.
11. What are some diverse books you’ve read and loved?

Why don’t you go check out my Diverse Reads recommendations post for the answer to that question. Of course, I can now absolutely add Love, Hate & Other Filters to that list.


My nominations

Okay, well now I’m supposed to nominate 11 people. Oh boy–I don’t think I’ll be able to rattle off that many right now. I guess here we go:


I guess that just leaves the 11 questions for me to ask you.

  1. What is a bookish goal you have for 2018?
  2. If you could have any 2018 ARC in your hands right now, what would you want most?
  3. What are your favorite kinds of posts to write?
  4. Do you plan out what posts you want to write in a particular week/month/etc or do you just write them up when you get an idea?
  5. How long have you been book blogging?
  6. How do you balance work/school/etc with reading and blogging?
  7. What is your favorite book to TV series adaptation?
  8. How often do you try and read?
  9. What is your reading and reviewing process like?
  10. I know it’s still really early in the year, but what has been your favorite read of 2018 so far?
  11. What are some books you want more people to read? (Give me your book recommendations!)

All right, well that’s all for today, and I’ll see you guys soon (hopefully) for another 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.

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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.

Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Recommendations: Series

Hey all, Dani here.

This week has been a super rough one, everyone. This transition from my previous position to my current one at work is not going to be as easy or as smooth as I would have hoped. I have roughly 18 reviews that need to be written up, something like 10 book tag posts I need to write, and about 10 or so other posts where I have the ideas but haven’t had the time to actually write them up. So if I can find enough time then I can keep the blog going at a regular pace for a while.

Today is going to be an interesting recommendation post. Most of the time when I come on here and suggest books you may want to check out, they are limited to a certain theme or genre. Not today. Nope, this time the only thing I am sticking to is that these books are in a series.

Not a duology, not a trilogy, a series. Okay, so some may be quartets but I consider those to be series. Anything with four or more books is fair game with today’s post. In the future I will also have posts for duologies and trilogies and even standalones.

And because some series can get quite lengthy, I’m not going to restrict this list to completed series either. That wouldn’t be fair to some of my favorite series out there. But I am going to say that I need to have read a good number of the books in the series for them to qualify for this list. So you won’t see Dresden Files, the Seven Realms, or Outlander on here because I’ve only read the first book.

All right, let’s get started.

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes.

This series is so good. When I first gave it a try I heard people saying it was like a YA version of Game of Thrones, and I can understand why people say that. It is an expansive world with a lot of political moves and so many secrets, lies, and deaths,  and a cast of characters than is wonderfully complex. The sixth and final book will be out next month so now is a great time to jump into it all.

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Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.

Basically anything by Rick Riordan is worth adding to a recommendation list, so I clearly can’t have this list without mentioning them. I first discovered The Lightning Thief when I was 18, almost 19, and I have been hooked ever since. I love stories that have a mythology theme to them, and these books certainly deliver. And I feel that they just keep getting better and better. I am really looking forward to the third book in the Trials of Apollo series.

Colorworld by Rachel E. Kelly.

Why yes, I am mentioning the Colorworld series yet again. I absolutely love these books, and Rachel–and her husband Brad–are just wonderful people. The characters are wonderfully developed and the story just gets more and more expansive as the series progresses. I think that for the moment the fifth book, Dreamworld, is my favorite, but there are still technically five more parts of the sixth book to be released, so we’ll see what happens. This is the series I recommend to every single person who will listen to me. It is fantastic.

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Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.

Well, this is one of the newer series to find its way onto my recommended list. My boyfriend is the one who talked about this one several times before we actually started dating, and he seemed to love them so much that I had to give them a try. I very quickly devoured the first four books of the series. They are interesting vampires and the romances and the overall story are pretty compelling.

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Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

I might as well toss some graphic content into this post as well. I read all six of these in one day and they were so fun and geeky and wonderfully action packed and pretty humorous. Scott was a cool character and I enjoyed reading this and watching the film in equal measure.

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Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

I love Neil Gaiman. He is a creative genius who can create wonderfully diverse and complex worlds and fascinatingly interwoven plots. I was finally able to finish the Sandman series, and it has definitely made me want to read a bunch more books by Gaiman. So hopefully I’ll be able to do that in 2018.

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Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy

Catie Murphy is one of my favorite authors, and I have actually been a backer to several Kickstarter campaigns for her books, but I think this was the first series of hers I discovered, and I totally need to do a reread of all of them. Main character Joanne is really awesome, and I love her approach to healing others. Jo is a mechanic by trade so she thinks of healing a person in the same way as fixing a car. It is also really cool that it takes Jo time to learn how to use her abilities and such instead of just magically knowing it all.


There are a number more great series I know I could add to this list, so I’m sure I’ll end up having a part two, part three, etc. to this particular topic in the future.

What series would you recommend?

Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Recommendations: Time Travel

Hey all, Dani here.

So, the first thing I need to say is that I am currently working on trying to catch up on all of your lovely blog posts from the last couple weeks. Aside from checking for comments or replies to comments, I pretty much avoided the internet for the week and a half that I was off work at the end of 2017. I’m hoping to be caught up by the end of the week…maybe. I’m on December 25/26 right now. But I will catch up soon enough, so be patient with me when it comes to tags and such.

Okay, and now, hello, and welcome to my first recommendation post for 2018. You may notice a tiny bit of a change to these posts this year. Not only will I be discussing different book recommendations, but also recommendations for games, bookish items, and maybe even shows and/or movies. It all depends on how I’m feeling and what all topics/themes/genres I have on my future post idea list.

As always, if you have any suggestions for book genres or themes you’d like to see my recommendations for, please leave those in the comments.

And now let’s jump into my recommendations for time travel reads.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (also the concluding novel to the duology, Time After Time). The first time I tried to get through this book I simply couldn’t do it. The narrator just sounded lifeless and mechanical to me. If you haven’t figured it out, I tried to listen to the audiobook and it just wasn’t working for me. I’m picky about the narrators. So eventually I picked up the hardcover and I flew through this book. It was cute and fun and made me a fan of Tamara Ireland Stone.

Tempest by Julie Cross. I never continued on with this series, but I do have to say that the overall concept seemed interesting. The problem I had with this book was that the first 1/3 to 1/2 felt a little slow and I didn’t quite believe the details of how the main character traveled through time. But the second half or two-thirds of the book was really great and it made me say in my review that I planned to pick up the sequel. Now that it has been a couple years since then, I don’t know if I will. Perhaps a re-read of this one is in order so I can determine if I want to read more or not.

Okay, these next two might be cheating a little bit on the theme of time travel, but I’m going to include them anyway.

The Dreamer by Lora Innes. This doesn’t have any sort of traditional time travel. Main character Beatrice, otherwise known as “Bea” goes back in time to the American Revolution when she falls asleep in modern day, and then when she falls asleep in Revolutionary times, she wakes up in modern day. Nevertheless, this web comic that has also been released in print, is so interesting and also educational.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. So the world of this series features special places that live on loops, reliving the same day over and over again. But if you are a peculiar and you know where to go, you can sort of time travel by entering the area where the loop is. Which is what happens with main character Jake, when he ends up back in the time of WWII where he encounters the peculiars who feature heavily in his grandpa’s stories.

Timebound by Rysa Walker. This may be one of my favorite time travel reads, and I feel so disappointed with the fact that I never read the second or third books. I really need to reread this one and then finally read the others. The cover to this book is awesome and the story inside was really intriguing as well.

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor. This one takes a little time to get into the time travel portion of the story, but I think it is really cool, and it is also nice that the main character has done a lot of studying to help know a lot about the time period. I really need to pick up the sequel to this one as well.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I very much enjoyed this book. The prologue instantly hooked me, but after that it was a slow build until I was absolutely submerged in the story and furiously turning pages to see what would happen next and where each passage would take Etta and Nicholas.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin. This one definitely feels a little more like sci-fi time travel, with the main characters being based in the future and then traveling to the past. But it was a really cool team of characters and I really enjoyed the story.

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Finally, I have to mention one of my favorite trilogies from my childhood. Of course, this is soon to expand to more stories. Apparently there was meant to be more years ago but the author had to deal with some major health obstacles, and the recovery took a while. Nevertheless I am so very excited (and a bit impatient) for more news about the fourth book. I need a title, a cover, a summary, a release date. The story was interesting, and I really enjoyed the decently sized cast of characters, both on the side of good and the not so good characters. This is yet another set of books where I desperately need to reread them, especially considering the upcoming fourth book. I need more Arkarian in my life.


All right, well I think that is it for now. If you have any time travel books you would recommend, please let me know in the comments!