Board Game Bucket List

I used to believe that gaming meant only using a console, handheld or using a PC. This summer, when I stayed in Winona, I discovered a cute little gaming store called River Quest.

**Edit: 12/10/2017 I found out River Quest was closing!  Sad Day 😦 **

My roommate got a job working there, so I was in the store at least once a week or every other week. I got to know the owner, who is one of the coolest guys in the Winona area. I was opened up to a world of a different type of gaming.

I’m creating a Bucket List of Board Games that I haven’t played yet, but I intend to. I will sticky this to the front page of the Gaming Section and I plan to update it as I play new games. Also I hope to post a review on some of these board games especially the ones with the strike out through the name. In the meantime, enjoy my bucket list! Also feel free to comment with various board games that I can add on the list.

Here is my Board Game Bucket List:

  1. Exploding Kittens Card Game
  2. Munchkin *any version*
  3. Star Wars Destiny
  4. Ticket To Ride
  5. Monsters & Other Childish Things
  6. Red Dragon Inn
  7. Arkham Horror/Eldrich Horror
  8. Star Wars X-Wing
  9. Red Dragon Inn 4
  10. Pandemic
  11. Love Letter *card game*
  12. Smash Up
  13. Bang *card game*
  14. Red7
  15. Sentinels of the Multiverse
  16. Letters from White Chapel
  17. Here Kitty Kitty 
  18. Stone Age
  19. Agricola
  20. Betrayal at House on the Hill
  21. Seasons
  22. Takenoko
  23. Code Names
  24. Shadow Hunters 
  25. Dixit
  26. Doctor Who Time of the Daleks
  27. Fury of Dracula
  28. Dead of Winter
  29. Hogwarts Deck Building Game

Link to my Board Game Reviews:

Then She Was Gone – Thriller

CW: Abuse / Specifically Abuse of a Young Girl

**I won’t discuss this in my recap of the book, but if you choose to read this book, the content warning is needed**

Last month, I was reading mainly mysteries and thrillers. I found a used copy of Then She Was Gone at my local bookstore. I have heard raving reviews for Lisa Jewell’s books, so I figured I’d give this a shot. This was such a fast-paced, dark thriller to read.

Laurel Mack has been without her daughter, Ellie since her disappearance almost a decade ago. The grief of losing her daughter and not knowing what has happened to her has kept Laurel from moving on. As Laurel is going about her routine, she meets a man in a cafe with whom she begins a relationship with. She meets his daughter, Poppy, who is identical to Ellie. This leads Laurel into a harrowing investigation of Ellie and what happened to her all those years ago.

I loved Laurel as a character. She starts to see the cracks in her relationship early on. Instead of being consumed by this new romance, she continues to investigate Ellie’s disappearance and if someone Ellie knew could have played a role into her vanishing. Laurel is intelligent, kind, imperfect, and was a character I enjoyed reading about. The way she handled her grief seemed realistic especially with putting her other daughter, Hanna on a pedestal to replace Ellie. Laurel has her flaws, but she’s also a genuinely good person.

This isn’t the type of thriller where there’s a plot twist towards the end of the book. It’s revealed early on what happened to Ellie through flashbacks. The reason Then She Was Gone was so engaging was the slow-burn of seeing the full story and how Laurel was going to uncover what happened to Ellie. I tend to prefer thrillers where there is a plot twist at the end, however, the way Jewell wrote the book felt more like a countdown to when Laurel would figure out the truth.

Then She Was Gone was a well-written thriller about a mother who is desperate for answers and how Ellie’s disappearance has put a dark cloud over the Mack family. This was one of the darkest thrillers I have ever read. With the content warning, I can fully understand why some readers would avoid this book. However, Then She Was Gone is well worth the read.

Seriously Geeky Sundays – Comics

Every Sunday, Heather at Just Geeking By creates a blog prompt with various themed questions. I pre-schedule my posts, so I always end up missing out on participating. My writing routine has been a bit off-kilter which worked for me being able to participate in this entry. This Sunday’s theme is centered around comics.

What was my first comic book?

My first comic book wasn’t a comic book, but a comic strip. My dad used to get the newspaper, and I would read the comic pages once he was done reading them. I always read Garfield, Dennis the Menace, and The Peanuts. From there, I started reading Calvin & Hobbes. I still have a couple of Calvin & Hobbes books on my shelf. I credit them for building interest in comics at a young age.

Which comic did you read recently?

The last graphic novel I read was Space Battle Lunchtime by Natalie Riess. For single issues, I’m reading all of Marvel’s King in Black crossover along with DC’s Future State Yara Flor and Wonder Woman.

Which Comic Series Would I Recommend to Someone Just Starting to Read Comics?

This is the beauty of comics, there’s something for everyone. Before I would recommend anything, I’d ask basic questions about their interests or what they liked to read. From there, I could specify a comic recommendation that I think they would like. For general recommendations, Snotgirl, Saga, and Paper Girls are generally well-regarded comic series to start with. I think it’s important to start with graphic novels and then start picking up single issues. It helps to have a full story first versus coming into the middle of a story.

Comic Series on My TBR?

My comic TBR is divided between single issues and graphic novels. Since starting a pull list earlier this year, I seem to never be able to catch up on my TBR. In my single issues stack, I have Marvel’s King in Black, DC’s Future State, Critical Role Vox Machina Series III issue #2, Witchblood Issue #1 and #2 and so much more. In my graphic novels stack, I have the first volume of Dredd, Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill, and a few other Onipress titles I’m not remembering.

My Favorite Books / Series

I love Sex Criminals by Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction. Based on the title, there’s a lot of intimate sex scenes, nudity, and shenanigans. Additionally, Nailbiter is one of my favorite horror comics. I’m also enjoying Paper Girls. There are so many series I love, so I’m going to end this here.

Favorite Comic Artists/Writers etc.

I like artists who have their unique styles. I could look at any comic in my local comic book store and know that comic was illustrated by that person. Some of these include Jen Bartel, Liana Kangas, and K Lynn Smith. For writers, I like Jed MacKay, Chip Zdarsky, and Matt Fraction.

Seriously Geeky Sundays are hosted by Heather at Just Geeking By, you can find this Sunday’s question’s here

May the 4th Be With You – 2021 Plan

It’s almost May which means May the 4th is rapidly approaching. Every May, I devote my entire month to all things Star Wars. Last year, I re-watched all the movies and read a few Star Wars books throughout the month. This year, I wanted to share my May the 4th plan and hold myself accountable throughout the month. I genuinely look forward to May to dive into all things Star Wars.

Books and Comics

The first book I plan on reading is Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I received this book for free at Del Rey’s booth at C2E2 I was planning on reading this book last year, but the book was a lot longer than I had anticipated. I’m going to start reading Alphabet Squadron this week leading into May to give myself a greater chance of finishing the book in May.

To prepare for May the 4th, I bought books from my local bookstore, Cream and Amber. I purchased Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. This is the first book in a Padme book series. This has been on my TBR for a while, so I’m excited to finally read it. Padme is one of the most fearless characters in the Star Wars franchise. I hope this book lives up to my expectations.

As far as comics, I bought The Rise of Kylo Ren, Lando Double or Nothing, Star Wars Adventures Vol #1 Heroes of the Galaxy, and Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma. My goal is to read all of these along with Alphabet Squadron and Queen’s Shadow.

Movies & TV

Instead of re-watching the films, I’m going to watch The Clone Wars. I’m halfway through season #1 and I started to lose interest. Everyone I talk to who has watched The Clone Wars cannot stop raving about it and I don’t want to be missing out. I don’t think I will finish all the seasons in a month, but I hope to at least get through most of the show and get the motivation to finish the whole show.

Gaming

Last year, I put so many hours into Star Wars Battlefront II and it was a blast. I decided to try out Star Wars The Old Republic. I’m not sure if my laptop will be able to run the game, so as a backup, I found LEGO Star Wars The Complete Saga on Steam as well. Another option I have is to finish playing Jedi Fallen Order which I still have not completed the main campaign.

I am going to have a jam packed Star Wars themed month and I’m thrilled! I would love any Star Wars themed reading suggestions or podcasts, feel free to add those in the comments below.

Wedding Winery Trip

In less than 6 months, I will be getting married! These months will go by in a blink of an eye and I still have a lot of planning to do. This past Saturday, me and my friends drove down to the winery to see the venue. It was such a fun time and I constantly think about how fortunate I am that I have the best of friends.

Leading into the day, my fiance dropped me off at my friend’s apartment. As we walked by her apartment, I saw that my friends had rented a luxurious SUV! They rented the car, so we can all have a couple of glasses of wine and no one had to worry about driving home. My friends brought two bottles of champagne for us all to share as we drove up to the winery. It made the day feel so special.

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I’m getting married at Four Daughter’s Winery in Spring Valley, MN which is south of Rochester. It’s located on the border of Minnesota on the southeastern side of the state near Wisconsin. Me and my fiance picked the venue because everything was on site, there was plenty of parking and it’s a gorgeous place. They have done many weddings at the venue before and it will be nice to not have to worry about doing all the set up myself.

Of course we ended up taking pictures as we always do for any girls’ day extravaganza. The pictures give a hint of how beautiful this venue truly is. The place where we had our wine is the room where we would be having dinner for our wedding. I love how rustic the barrels feel in the space. We are getting married in Fall, and I think the barrels add to the Fall feeling I’m going for.

Planning a wedding makes me truly thankful for my friends. They have gone above and beyond for me as far as planning little surprises and making this feel like a once-in-a-lifetime moment in my life. I know they have something up their sleeve for my bachlorette party and I’m excited to see what they have planned. I love my friends, I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.

Nancy Drew Secrets Can Kill

I’m back with another Nancy Drew video game review. I still have four other Nancy Drew games I purchased that I haven’t played through yet. I tend to play each Nancy Drew game on Sundays because I usually have a couple of hours I can spend playing the game before I go to bed. Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill is the first installment of detective games. While Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill was released in 1998, the game was re-mastered in 2010 and released on Steam. This was another fun outing, but it’s a bit clunky as the Nancy Drew video game formula hasn’t been established yet.

Eww what a jerk.

Nancy Drew visits her Aunt Eloise in Florida. Her aunt is the librarian at a high school and Nancy is looped into investigating the murder of one of the high school students, Jake Rogers. Since Nancy is in high school, it’s assumed she can get information from the students. Nancy is introduced to the staff, several students, and works with an undercover detective to gather evidence as to who murdered Jake. From Nancy’s investigations, it seems every person Nancy interacts with would have a reason to want Jake dead. Who killed Jake and will Nancy be able to solve the mystery without putting herself in danger?

Oooh creepy.

The answer to the above question is no. There are several instances in this game where Nancy can die if she doesn’t solve the puzzle in time. This includes being trapped in a boiler room and accidentally setting off a gas explosion in a diner. Both puzzles weren’t tough to solve, and while I died at least once, I was able to figure out the puzzle rather quickly. There is one broad puzzle that encompasses the entire game which involves searching for periodic elements Jake has hidden on student boards. The puzzles were fun to solve, and it helps to have a notebook handy while playing through the game.

I will say, this game does have a twist ending I didn’t see coming. There’s a videotape Nancy discovers that illustrates the conclusion as to who could have been involved with Jake’s murder. I had my mouth open for a little bit because it genuinely came out of left field. This bad guy suddenly appears behind Nancy which did give me a bit of a scare.

Although this was a fun game, I wouldn’t start playing through Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill first. While it’s the first game released in chronological order, it’s a bit clunky and the graphics while re-mastered are still not the greatest. I would recommend trying Nancy Drew and the Haunted Carousel or Nancy Drew Ghost of Thornton Hall first before starting this game. I think I liked this game more because I had played other Nancy Drew games first.

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill was worth playing through. Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill can be purchased and downloaded on Steam.

Fangirl Revisited – 6 Years Later

When I was in college, I went through a major reading slump. With all of the studying and textbook reading I had to do, the last thing I wanted to do was read for fun. I pulled myself out of my reading slump thanks to friends and rediscovering what I liked to read. One of the books I credit for pulling me out of this was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl had been on my list to re-read for a while and it seemed like every time I wanted to start the book, something would get in my way. Since this is a re-read post, I won’t be covering the plot of Fangirl, however, you can read my original review here: https://bizarrebrunette.com/2015/04/03/fangirl-review/

Fangirl will always be a five-star book for me however, I had a couple of critiques I had this time around with this book. I do think Fangirl is a bit too long. The first half of the book tells the reader about Cath’s routine at college. She’s locating where her classes are, she’s writing a fiction story in the library and she’s too afraid to go to the dining hall. I found this part of the book to be boring to read. There easily could have been sections taken out without the book’s plot suffering. Fangirl is 433 pages and it felt long to read. The second half of Fangirl does pick up, but the first half took me a long time to finish.

Originally when I read Fangirl, I loved Cath as a character. I felt like I identified with her being introverted and her love of fandom. This time, I started to notice how judgemental Cath is. She makes negative comments on how much Wren likes to party. Now, Wren was a bit out of control in some ways, but it felt like to Cath that if Wren was living her life differently than her, it’s wrong. Additionally, Cath seems to have this pretentious attitude because of her scholarship and intelligence. This can be seen in her relationship with Levi who struggles academically and finds it challenging to read a physical book. I do think Cath grows up a bit towards the end of the book, but I was surprised at how some of her statements made me resent her a little bit.

Finally, I noticed Rainbow Rowell makes some weird comments about race in her books. There are examples from both Cath and Wren regarding how they comment on race. Wren comments later in the book how she doesn’t realize a certain race lived on one part of campus. I’m not sure if Rowell wants to hammer into readers how Cath and Wren growing up in Omaha have interacted with people from different races, but the statements come off more cringey than anything else. There has been some controversy surrounding Rainbow Rowell and how she writes characters from a different race specifically in her book Eleanor and Park. It’s interesting reading Fangirl and noticing some of these comments even though this controversy is with a different book that she wrote.

Fangirl will always have a special place in my heart. I read this book while I was going through a identity/insecurity crisis and reading about Cath helped me accept myself for who I am. I can understand why other readers would rate this lower than I did because of some of the points I made above. I’d love to hear any additional thoughts regarding Fangirl, let me know in the comments section below.

Invested in Critical Role

The first time I heard Critical Role mentioned was at Gen Con in 2019. The cast of Critical Role was appearing and my friend was thrilled. He had tickets to go and he said it was the highlight of his convention. Earlier this year, I figured I’d watch the first episode on Youtube because why not? I was still at home and wasn’t sure when I was going to be vaccinated. I can’t believe how easily I have become invested in their campaign. For the past month, all I have been watching is Critical Role.

For those completely new to Critical Role like I was, it’s a D&D campaign show hosted by voice actor, Matthew Mercer, and his other voice actor friends. Every show is streamed live on Thursday nights Pacific Standard Time and uploaded to their Youtube channel. Originally, Critical Role was a private campaign Mercer had, but they decided to partner with Geek & Sundry and start airing their episodes on their channel in 2015. All of the episodes of Critical Role can be watched on Youtube.

When I started watching Critical Role, I went back to the beginning with episode #1 of their first campaign, Vox Machina. There were some recommendations to start with campaign #2 Mighty Nein since it was more refined with better video quality, however, I wanted to start from the beginning. From my watching experience, I would recommend watching Critical Role from the start. It’s fun to witness the chemistry the players have with each other. It’s tough to pick a favorite character because all the characters serve a role in the story.

Another reason I’m enjoying Critical Role is that it’s easy to follow along. I have listened to other D&D podcasts where I couldn’t quite keep up with the game. It helps that Critical Role has a recap told by Mercer and story introductions narrated by each cast member. I usually skip over their backstories, but every ten episodes or so, I will listen to them in full just to keep their stories fresh in my mind. I also prefer watching Critical Role on their Youtube channel versus listening to the podcast.

Additionally, I love how Critical Role gives back to their community. In the beginning, Critical Role was taking donations for 826LA which focused on creating opportunities for younger kids. Now, they have their non-profit that’s launched. I think it’s admirable since they have gotten so popular to start giving back to the community.

I wish I started watching Critical Role sooner than I am now. It’s such a fun group to watch and they all seem to get along with and care for each other. Critical Role has gotten me through some hectic workweeks along with making me look forward to the end of the workday. It’s been a true escape to leave the stresses of work in my office and come aboard Vox Machina and their adventures through Tal’Dorei.

Nancy Drew & the Haunted Carousel

The Nancy Drew computer games can be a huge hit (Ghost of Thornton Hall) or pretty mediocre (Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake). I’m determined to play through them all and officially rank them once I do. It still surprises me how challenging the Nancy Drew games are. The puzzles require some in-depth thought and it’s easy to get stuck not knowing what to do next. Nancy Drew & the Haunted Carousel was one of my favorite Nancy Drew games I played.

In this game, Nancy is recruited by Paula Santos, the owner of Captain’s Cove Amusement Park in New Jersey. One of the horses from the Carousel was stolen and some of the rides seemingly begin to move on their own. Nancy is introduced to several employees of the park who each have a motive as to why they would be interested in the park shutting down. Since this game is set at a carnival, this game is a bit heavy on mini-games especially when Nancy is exploring the arcade. Nancy Drew & the Haunted Carousel is one of the better games to start with because Nancy isn’t at risk of dying in this game. If Nancy makes a wrong choice, it’s more likely she’s fired from the case than perishing. There are also fewer “jump scares” in this game than other Nancy Drew games I played.

I liked how this game had more suspects. It made it that much more intriguing when it was finally revealed who the culprit was. I liked the setting at the park. Certain areas in the game were super creepy. I was a little anxious going through those areas because I was convinced something would jump out at me. The soundtrack to this game complemented the haunted theme.

Overall, this would be a good beginner Nancy Drew game. It’s less scary, and the puzzles while challenging are doable. I have five other Nancy Drew games installed on my computer, so it’s safe to say another Nancy Drew review will be written soon.

PEEPin at a PEEP Art Exhibit

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend! For Easter, me and my fiance visit his family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With Covid, we would normally quarantine at his parents and watch TV. However, with both of his parents being vaccinated, we decided to go do something. For the Easter weekend, I convinced the fiance to go to the 11th Annual PEEPS Art Exhibition at the Racine Art Museum. From the title, all of the art pieces were made out of PEEPS.

The exhibit was open from noon to 4 PM. We arrived at the museum at 12:15 and there were already people waiting outside of the museum. Each ticket was $7 which I thought was a good price to see the PEEP room along with the whole museum. As we paid for our tickets, there were dots on the floor representing where to stand to be socially distanced. The museum had a cap of 50 people, so someone was counting how many people were being sold tickets. The PEEPS exhibit was in one room with a walkway with various art pieces. My favorite had to be the Baby Yoda made of brown and green PEEPS glued together. There were also several Bernie sitting on a chair PEEPS along with a Harry Potter-themed one as well.

With Covid, I missed going out and doing random activities. I would happily go to this exhibit next year. It was such a fun way to spend the Holiday.

Intergalatic Cooking in Space Battle Lunchtime

With starting a pull list, I have been reading more single issues than trades. It’s funny because when I first began reading comics, I heavily relied on trades to continue in a series. The latest trade paperback I read was Space Battle Lunch Time published by Oni Press. Imagine if Top Chef took place in space and that’s the synopsis of Space Battle Lunchtime. This had such a fun premise and left off on a big cliffhanger.

Space Battle Lunchtime is an intergalactic hit! It’s a reality cooking competition featuring chefs from a variety of different galaxies. Peony a human from Earth is in the right place at the right time when she is zapped from her bakery to appear on the show. Peony is replacing another contestant who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Peony has never used galactic cooking ingredients which makes her at a serious disadvantage compared to her previous opponents. Will Peony fall under the pressure? or can she cook up to the competition.

This graphic novel was such a lighthearted read. I liked reading about their challenges and how Peony has to quickly adapt. While Peony is the main character, I would say I liked both Neptunia and Aris. Neptunia is a fellow contestant and has to work with Peony on a cooking challenge. There’s a budding friendship between the two and I liked seeing it unfold. Aris is a cameraman on the show and he’s always in Peony’s corner wishing her good luck. Both characters added to Peony’s journey throughout the show.

The art in this graphic novel complemented the story perfectly. I liked how the beginning of each issue had a recap page which felt in line with other reality TV shows or cooking shows. I also liked the logo of Space Battle Lunchtime with the pink spatula and the star.

Additionally, Space Battle Lunchtime is an age-appropriate novel. This would be great for kids to read. There were so many good messages in this story including highlighting teamwork, emphasizes the negatives of cheating, and how hard work can pay off. It can be intimidating to find graphic novels for kids, however, Space Battle Lunchtime would be perfect.

I have nothing bad to say about Space Battle Lunchtime. It was a fun departure from other graphic novels I tend to read. This is the first graphic novel I read from Natalie Riess and it won’t be the last. Space Battle Lunchtime can be purchased directly from Oni Press’s website or through a local comic book store.