Fall To-Do List

Last Fall, I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy the season. Wedding planning took all of my time and our weekends were busy with other weddings and obligations. I’m so looking forward to enjoying Fall and what the season has to offer. I wanted to share my bucket list of events, activities, or things to look forward to this season.

Fall Themed Candle Melts

For my birthday, one of my best friends gifted me an “Open Road Candles Sample Set” with fall-themed scents. OpenRoadCandles sells candle melts to use in a Candle Warmer. There are ten different scents including Apple Butter, Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, and Autumn Leaves to name a few. I’m thrilled to use them and have our entire apartment smelling like an apple orchard. My husband will either be happy or annoyed, we shall see.

Trip to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival

I love the Renaissance Festival! I usually go at least once every year except last year. This year, I have set aside two September weekends to devote to a Renaissance Festival trip. Each weekend has a different theme, so I wanted to have two weekends free to pick which weekend I wanted to go to. There are a few food options I always look forward to such as the soup in a bread bowl or the apple cider float with cinnamon ice cream.

Wearing my Spooky Clothes

Last year, I bought a Nightmare Before Christmas jersey sweater at Disneyland along with a witchy graphic t-shirt that I didn’t get to wear. I have a black bats cardigan that’s one of my favorite cardigans to wear. I look forward to pulling out my Halloween-themed clothes to wear throughout the season.

Visit an Apple Orchard

Another Fall activity that I didn’t get to do last year. Apple Orchards are often crowded, but well worth the visit. I usually like to try some apple-themed treat or if the orchard serves hard apple cider, that’s another Fall themed drink I enjoy. I like being outside in the cooler weather and seeing families bringing their kids to the orchard.

It will be so nice to truly enjoy Fall this year. Let me know what your plans are for the season in the comments down below.

Cancelled Batgirl Movie – Thoughts

I love Batgirl. She’s one of my favorite superheroes in the DC Comics universe. Whether it was Barbara Gordon evolving into Oracle or Cassandra Cain, I loved the character. I was looking forward to the release of the Batgirl movie that we would finally see her big screen debut. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be the case as the Batgirl film was permanently shelved by Warner Bros. meaning the film will never be released in theaters or on streaming platforms.

When I first heard the news, my first thoughts were how badly I felt for the cast and crew. Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton, and JK Simmons were all big names who put their time and effort into this movie. I think it’s easy to drift into the thought of “Why would you feel bad for the actors? They’re rich. They will be fine if this movie isn’t released”. I understand feeling this way, but they’re still human beings who put their time and effort into a project. I was excited to see Leslie Grace’s portrayal of the character. The fact that it won’t even be released on HBO Max is honestly so disappointing.

There are rumors going around that Batgirl didn’t do well in test screenings. If that were the case, it still isn’t a good enough reason to not release the film. I think back to Birds of Prey and that movie didn’t do as well commercially yet it’s still an all-time favorite for me. I probably would have still loved the movie even if it was a flawed film because of how much I love Batgirl as a character.

As a DC Comics fan, I feel Warner Bros. constantly lets down the fans. It’s tough to stay committed to the franchise when the movie universe is falling apart. I’m trying to remain unbiased and enjoy what I can. Peacemaker was such a great TV show, and Black Adam is being released in October. I truly hope that Batgirl can finally get the film that the character so rightfully deserves.

Live Music Capital of the World?- Austin, Texas

It’s been several weeks since my Texas road trip and I have been thinking fondly back to portions of the trip. For my second post, I wanted to focus on Austin as that’s where me and my husband spent a good amount of time. I have to admit, Austin is probably one of my favorite cities I have ever visited in the US.

One of Austin’s first things I noticed and loved is live music. Austin was coined as the “Live Music Capital of the World” There is live music everywhere! We were walking on Congress Street, one of the main streets downtown. We heard jazz, metal, rock, country, and bluegrass to name a few. One night we listened to EDM music at an outdoor bar. It reminded me of a music festival I attended years ago. There was truly something for everyone.

Besides live music, art was another primary focus in Austin. I had an art mural list saved on my phone and it became this scavenger hunt of finding all the local art murals in the various parts of the city. Coinciding with the art murals, several stores sold local art. We couldn’t resist buying an art print featuring one of Austin’s more well-known art murals.

In between live music and shopping for art, there were other areas we explored. We drove to Mount Bonnell which provided a beautiful view of the Austin skyline. We toured the Lyndon B Johnson Library & Museum. I didn’t know anything about Presidential Libraries, but I was glad that we took the time to visit. I convinced my husband that we should stop at Austin Books & Comics which was one of the best comic book stores I have ever been to. I’m planning on writing more about this in a separate post.

Austin was an awesome city to visit. Austin is one of the cities in the US that’s growing so quickly and I can see why. I have Austin as a city on my list to revisit because there’s so much to discover. Compared to my road trip in March, I felt that this trip was slower-paced because we didn’t do as many stops. My last post will be up sometime next week where I will write about Dallas since we did a day trip there as well.

The Best Reading Month Ever – July 2022

July was a busy month for me. I had a lot going on with my birthday and the trip to Austin. That’s why it was so surprising to me that I had read 3 books, 3 short novellas, and 3 graphic novels this month. I’m confident that this past month was the most successful reading month I have ever had! Instead of writing separate reviews of everything I read, I wanted to create this huge post that includes everything I read last month.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Evelyn Hugo. A film star who made her break in the 1950s and built her career in Old Hollywood. In the present day, Evelyn picks Monique Grant to interview her. Evelyn will not let anyone else interview her but Monique. Monique is stunned. Why her? As Monique sits and listens to Evelyn’s story, she realizes so many things about her own life and how Evelyn’s life is imperfect and tragic.

This book captured me right away. The imagery of Hollywood in the 1950s, Evelyn’s story along with how it’s played out in the press, and the truth behind all of Evelyn’s marriages. Evelyn reveals her one true love and there was a purpose behind each marriage. Evelyn’s story is tragic, and devastating and provides clarity as to how corrupt Hollywood was during her time period of being an actress. I rated The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo five stars on Goodreads.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Five friends make their way back to the illustrious Duquette University for the 10-year Homecoming tradition. As they socialize at the gathering, they are lured by an acquaintance who wants justice for Heather Shelby, a friend in their group who was murdered during their senior year. Secrets are unearthed and they slowly realize that they clearly do not know each other as well as they thought.

Each character in this book is so conniving. I think it’s easy to hate them all, yet I do find myself understanding why they are the way they are. I loved the setting! I kept picturing Asheville, North Carolina as I read through the book. When the final reveal happened, I kept thinking back to Scream 2 as that slasher film takes place on a college campus. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is the dark academic thriller I have always wanted. I rated this book five stars on Goodreads.

Revolver Road by Christi Daugherty

Harper McClain is investigating the disappearance of Xavier Rayne, a local musician who has made it big. Harper buys her trust with Xavier’s three friends: Cara, Allegra, and Hunter to figure out if they had a motive to want Xavier gone. As Harper begins her story, she’s being hunted by an unknown person who might have something to do with her mother’s death. Revolver Road builds up to a terrifying conclusion and finally, Harper gets the answers she’s looking for.

This is the third book in the Harper McClain series. Throughout the books, Harper has been investigating her mother’s murder. Revolver Road finally reveals answers to what happened to her mom. Part of the appeal of this series is reading about Harper’s life in Savannah, Georgia. I went to Savannah in March on my first road trip this year and it made reading this book so much more enjoyable since I could truly picture Harper’s life. I rated Revolver Road five stars on Goodreads.

The STEMinist Novellas #1 – #3 by Ali Hazelwood

The STEMinist Novellas are written by Ali Hazelwood who wrote The Love Hypothesis, a book I adored when I read it last year. While Ali is writing her second novel, she released these three short novellas centered around three friends: Mara, Sadie, and Hannah. Each novella centers on one of the three friends and finding romance while excelling in science. On average, I rated each novella three stars. I liked them, they were short and perfect to read while on vacation.

The Ice Cream Man Volume #1 Rainbow Sprinkles by W. Maxwell Prince and Martín Morazzo

The Ice Cream Man is a horror graphic novel that takes place in a typical suburban town. Each issue tells a different story, yet somehow the Ice Cream Man is at the center of it. It’s unclear as to where Ice Cream Man comes from. Does he come from a different planet? Is he a demon? I’m not sure if this will ever be answered.

The whole time I was reading this, the artwork kept reminding me of Beavis & Butthead. It’s not a bad thing, I just couldn’t get it out of my head that this was what the art was reminding me of. Some of the stories I liked more than others. I’m not sure if I plan on continuing this series, but I’m glad I read it. I rated The Ice Cream Man three stars on Goodreads.

For Goodness Sake Volume #2 and Volume #3

For Goodness Sake centers around Rayne as she travels in her makeshift bus with her dog, Copilot. She meets Thatcher and sees that he has a curse placed upon him. Rayne decides to help and a friendship forms between Rayne and Thatcher. In Volumes #2 and #3, Rayne learns more about Thatcher and Thatcher realizes why the curse was placed upon him, to begin with.

I LOVE this series. It’s easily one of my favorite graphic novel series of all time. I love Rayne and Thatcher’s friendship. I think it would be easy to pair these as a romantic pairing, but I think at the heart of this, is their friendship. I’m a big fan of K Lynn Smith’s art. I have said this before, but I like her style. I can pick out her art from everywhere because it’s so unique. I rated For Goodness Sake Volumes #2 and #3 five stars on Goodreads.

I’m impressed if you made it to the end of this post. I had to take multiple breaks as I wrote this because of how much content I had to write. As for August, I’m focusing more on Fantasy novels, but my TBR is a lot smaller since I have a few weekends booked up as it is.

Making Apocalypses Fun – Doomlings

Doomlings Box Cover

My friend sent me a message a few months ago about a game she backed on Kickstarter. Based on what she told me, I thought the game seemed interesting but wasn’t wanting to back the campaign until I played it. After driving to visit her a few weeks ago, she finally broke out her copy of Doomlings, so I could try it out. I was a big fan. Doomlings is a simple card game about outlasting the end of the world.

Doomlings has a fairly simple concept. The goal of the game is to earn the most points at the end of the world. There are certain cards that have a number on them indicating how many points the card is worth. Some cards are ability cards with no points or if there is a really good ability card, it might provide minus points because the ability is that good. There are several rounds that are broken up by catastrophe cards. Catastrophe cards have outcomes on them, so they provide unpredictability to the game. Some catastrophes can help players while that same catastrophe could harm another player’s board. Each game takes about 20-45 minutes which is perfect for a quick game.

Doomlings has some of the cutest art. This reminds me of Unstable Unicorns, the normal edition (not the NSFW edition). The art features these cute creature cards. I found myself taking a picture of a few of my favorites that came up during gameplay.

I had such a time playing Doomlings. I’m sort of regretting not backing it, to begin with. However, Doomlings does have its full selection on the website to order. I’m tempted to order my own copy because I can see my brother really enjoying this game. Doomlings is perfect for anyone who wants a short game that’s extremely easy to learn and teach.

Oklahoma City – Austin Road Trip

I’m back from vacation! Me and my husband drove to Austin, Texas. Initially, I was going to schedule posts to release while I was out, but I ended up scrapping that idea and taking a week off instead. Similar to other vacation posts, I’m going to write three posts that summarize my trip. The first post is dedicated to a city we stopped in; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Leaving from Minneapolis, the fastest driving route to Austin is to cut through Oklahoma. You may be thinking, “why would you want to visit Oklahoma??” Oklahoma, like many states in the US, has the stereotype of being a “fly-over state”. As someone who eventually wants to visit all the US states, I was excited to be able to cross off Oklahoma from the list. Whatever expectations I had about Oklahoma, I was pleasantly surprised. Oklahoma City (abbreviated OKC) was a city I had a great time exploring.

Wheeler District – Downtown OKC

One of the first things we did was visit Wheeler Ferris Wheel. The Wheeler Ferris Wheel was the original Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel. It was purchased and now resides in a park outside of downtown OKC. Wheeler district was really neat. There was a full park with numerous trails on the border of the Oklahoma River. The area was in a warehouse district with a full view of the OKC skyline. Wheeler district reminded me of northeast Minneapolis which is our artsy area of the city.

Besides taking pictures at Wheeler Ferris Wheel, we walked around The Oklahoma City National Memorial. For those who are unfamiliar, on April 19th, 1995 a bomb went off at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in OKC. I wasn’t even a year old when this happened. I’m learning as an adult what happened that day and how horrific this event was. The memorial was beautifully crafted, but haunting. There were several chair sculptures that represented everyone who died that day. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go through the museum, but if I’m ever back to OKC, I will make this a priority.

That’s OKC! I was not expecting to love OKC as much as I did. There’s a lot of history here, and local businesses to support. Sometime next week, I will post my Austin Texas travel recap.

Writing Tropes That Aren’t For Me

CW: Sexual Assault. One of the tropes I mention references sexual assault in books, but I don’t discuss it in great detail.

As a voracious reader, I am coming to terms with the types of books I like to read. I tend to read more thrillers and romance books than any other genre. I have been paying more attention to the types of tropes I have been seeing in the books I have been reading. Tropes aren’t always bad, as there are certain tropes that I tend to gravitate to. Instead of sharing the best tropes, I wanted to share a few tropes that honestly aren’t for me.

Thriller & Mystery – Unreliable female protagonist with a drinking problem (Examples include: Girl on a Train, The Woman in the Window)

This is so commonly used and I’m over it. It’s usually a woman drinking red wine and she mixes her wine with Xanax. She somehow is able to get up and do productive things after a night of binge drinking. I’m not a fan of this trope as it’s always the same. There has to be a better way to convey to the reader that something isn’t what it seems without the use of alcohol.

Romance – Love interest stems from cheating (Examples include: Anna & The French Kiss, One to Watch)

I despise cheating in romances. To me, it cheapens the romance and leads to a side character being extremely hurt. There’s a lot of emotional damage that comes to cheating and I can’t fathom why you can’t break up with that person if you are interested in someone else. It still hurts, but at least it’s honest. Part of the thrill of romance books is I want to root for the couple to last long term. When a romance is built on cheating, I have a hard time believing the romance will last and it ruins it for me.

Thriller & Mystery – Using sexual assault as a twist (Example: The Good Daughter)

I wrote about this topic a few years ago, but I think the use of sexual assault is overdone. Sometimes it’s thrown into a backstory of a character for no good reason. In The Good Daughter, there’s a “plot twist” where it’s revealed that one of the characters was sexually assaulted. I wasn’t a fan. It felt gross to me. I would rather it have been revealed right away versus in the middle of the book. I think sexual assault can be used in a story in a powerful way, but when it’s so overused, it starts to become a bit too much.

Non-Fiction – Not having reference pages (maps, character lists to reference, etc. (Example: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition)

This isn’t a trope per se, but more of a preference. I’m reading Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent. While I’m enjoying it, this book is extremely detailed. There are so many key players in passing the prohibition amendment and there aren’t any references pages. It can be difficult to remember everyone that’s introduced. It’s a stark contrast to League of Denial: The NFL Concussions and the Battle for Truth. In League of Denial. There was a full character sheet with important people that were discussed. It was nice to be able to reference throughout the book.

While I’m not a big fan of these tropes, I try not to let them ruin the book I’m reading. If anything, it has helped me narrow down the types of books I like to read. If I find a book that fits into one of the categories above, I tend to avoid it which helps me find books that I know I will love.

My Favorite Roleplaying Memories

Zehiri & Hellish Rebuke

Last weekend I was playing Adventurer’s League with my Tiefling Paladin, Zehiri. This was the first game where Zehiri was a level #5 meaning she could attack twice. I had a blast being able to not only attack twice but incorporate a smite into one of my melee attacks for extra damage. As I reflected on the session, I realized I have had quite a few memorable roleplaying moments from various sessions I have played in. I wanted to share a few of my favorite roleplaying moments from various types of roleplaying games.

Using a Saxophone as a Weapon – Call of Cthulhu

I played in a one-shot Call of Cthulhu game where our characters were trapped in an “abandoned” asylum. Our characters had nothing as far as weapons, money, or accessories. Our group was investigating the music room before being attacked by supernatural beings. I asked our keeper (Call of Cthulhu terminology for a Dungeon Master) if there was a saxophone in the room. He agreed that there would be. I picked up the saxophone, slung it on my back, and prepared to use it as a club against these beings. It led to a fun conversation about how much damage could a saxophone carry and it led to our group escaping with our lives. It shows how roleplaying can bring out creativity between both the keeper and the players.

Hellish Rebuke – Takedown of an Ogre – Adventurer’s League

During one of our Adventurer’s League sessions, we were going to rescue hostages from some ogres. As I ran into battle, I was face to face with an ogre champion. She swung her club at me and dealt close to 20 damage. I was ready. I had Hellish Rebuke lined up. Hellish Rebuke is a reaction spell that forces the enemy to hit you to make a saving throw. No matter what, the opponent will take damage. The ogre failed her saving throw and I ended up rolling extremely well. This dealt the last remaining damage needed. One of the items the ogre had were the “Gauntlets of Ogre Power” which gives the wearer a strength score of 19. The group agreed that I could have the Gauntlets which have proven useful in future sessions.

Successfully Punching a Nazi – Call of Cthulhu

In this one-shot, our setting was in the 1940s when our characters were on a ship. As our group was investigating disappearances in the crew, I noticed a group of Nazis at the bar. I immediately beelined to them and told our keeper that I wanted to slap one of them. Everyone in our group didn’t think this would go well and was preparing to defend me if needed. I ended up rolling a critical success much to the keeper’s delight. I was able to slap a Nazi and get away with it.

As I was writing this post, I was flooded with memories of memorable sessions. I’m going to save a few of them for a potential part #2 post. I would love to know some of your most memorable roleplaying memories in the comments below.

Traveling to Texas – Road Trip!

Austin, Texas – image from Pixabay

I don’t know why I bother posting about my travel plans because they always seem to change. My original plan was to fly to Seattle in August for Emerald City Comic-Con. However, when I went to book my flight, I couldn’t find a roundtrip flight cheaper than $900. With flights being canceled left and right, I felt it was too big of a risk to make such a big purchase. I contemplated driving to Seattle, but it was 24 hours one way which would mean four days of driving there and back. It would leave barely enough time to explore Seattle plus attend Emerald City. In the end, I decided to go somewhere else. After much deliberation, I decided to plan a road trip to Austin, Texas as it was a city I had on my list to visit.

I’m thrilled to leave for vacation! My last trip was in March, so about 3-4 months ago. I was craving another trip. I find I get the travel bug every few months and it’s so satisfying to plan a vacation and have something to look forward to.

If you’re planning a vacation, let me know where you’re going in the comments section down below.

Columbine + Civil Rights – Nonfiction Reading Month

Last month, I devoted my reading month to non-fiction. I read two books and one non-fiction graphic novel. One of the books I read, Missoula Rape and the Justice System in a College Town was a book review I posted a few weeks ago. I wanted to discuss the other book and graphic novel I read this month as I felt proud of myself for solely sticking to non-fiction books.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine is a non-fiction book about the Columbine school shooting in Colorado on April 20th, 1999. Dave Cullen paints a picture of what happened during the shooting with an emphasized focus on the school shooters and why they committed this atrocity.

I originally read Columbine back when I was in high school. Reading Columbine now versus 10 years ago was a much different experience. This is partly due to the world that we live in, but also I felt that my opinion about this book is different. Columbine puts a huge focus on the school shooters which I wasn’t interested in. In these violent acts, the media often talks about the killers and less about the people impacted by the shooting. I still cannot name all thirteen of the victims and I even looked at the back of the book and saw that one of the victims wasn’t listed at all during the book. It could have been because Dave Cullen might not have had permission to interview his family. However, I don’t see why there wasn’t a page included of all the people who were killed.

I think this book was extremely well written, I just think it emphasized too much on the wrong portion of this event. I rated Columbine three stars on Goodreads.

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One is a non-fiction graphic novel detailing Congressman John Lewis’s story and how he became such an active member of the Civil Rights movement. From being raised on a farm in rural Alabama to sneaking away off to school, and how was trained for nonviolent protesting, John Lewis is most certainly a hero.

I’m thrilled to see more non-fiction graphic novels being published! Reading non-fiction can feel like a chore depending on the author. I loved everything about March: Book One. It is an easy-to-follow story. I liked how the present time was John Lewis about to go to President Barack Obama’s inauguration. It shows how far history has come, but also how much change still needs to happen.

One of the most interesting parts of the story was how John talks about training for nonviolent protesting. John works with Jim Lawson, one of the leaders of nonviolent protesting. During this training, each person did roleplays where they practiced yelling awful things, so the people participating in the sit-ins were practicing sitting in peace. It’s awful that the world was this way, but how brave these individuals were for standing up for equality.

The artwork in this completely coincides with John Lewis’s story. Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell use black & white to tell the complete story. I think it works for the imagery that they are working with. I thought the images were interesting to read and helped portray the darkness of the time period.

March: Book One was such an engaging read. I rated March: Book One five stars.

It was such a successful reading month for me! I do have one more non-fiction book that I’m reading now that I plan on finishing by the end of the year. As far as July, I’m sensing it’s going to be a mystery or thriller type of mood for me, but we shall see.