Favorite Geek Spots Throughout the US

Every time I travel, I like to check out any local comic book stores, game stores, or other local geek spots. I like supporting local businesses and it gives me some familiarity in case I ever go back to visit in the future. I wanted to save this post until after I came back from Austin, so I could have my most up-to-date list. These are all of my favorite Geek spots throughout the US.

Austin Book & Comics – Austin, Texas

Austin Books & Comics is one of the best comic book stores I have ever visited. This is a big statement to make since I have been to a lot of different shops. Austin Books & Comics was extremely organized. There were signs over each section which helped make the store easier to navigate. There was also a big manga section which was impressive. I ended up purchasing two different manga that I’m looking forward to reading.

I have a few friends who want to visit Austin and if I were to come with them, I would make it a point to visit Austin Books & Comics.

Comicopia – Boston, Massachusetts

Comicopia is a comic book shop right near Fenway Park. It’s located in a beautiful New England style building. Additionally, they had a local comics section from illustrators and writers from the area. I love when local stores feature local artists. I also purchased my Agents of Shield Phil Coulson shirt from this shop that I still wear all the time. This was such a neat store.

Gods & Monsters – Orlando, Florida

Gods & Monsters is a comic book store located near Universal Studios in Orlando. Besides being a comic book store, there’s a bar located in the back called Vault 5421. The above Beholder picture was taken at Vault 5421. I could see Gods & Monsters being a fun place to visit after playing a DnD session with friends. I will say that Vault 5421 isn’t very big, so I could easily see this place getting crowded rather quickly. When me and my brother visited, we visited a bit earlier, so we had plenty of room to have a drink before it became busy.

Nerdheim – Savannah, Georgia

Nerdheim is a comic book and game store located in the historical shopping district in Savannah, Georgia. Nerdheim has one of my favorite logos that I have seen from a comic book store. Nerdheim similar to Austin Books & Comics is a pretty big retail store. There were several large shelves filled with graphic novels. There was also a pretty significant DnD miniature display along with a t-shirt portion towards the back of the store. Both me and my husband loved visiting Savannah, so we may be back in the future.

Owlbear Cafe – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

OwlBear Cafe is a board game cafe located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina which was east of Charleston. I found this place on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. It’s located in this cute shopping area. We stopped here for breakfast before we began our day. I had a breakfast sandwich while my husband had a waffle. In the back is where they had their board game selection. I found Arkham Horror sitting on the shelf which is one of my all-time favorite board games. I normally don’t buy hoodies from stores, but I couldn’t resist buying a hoodie with the logo on it.

The more I travel, the more likely I would write a part #2 to this post. If you’re looking for local recommendations, I recommend using Atlas Obscura or typing into Google Maps “comic book store” or “game store” which is how I found these shops.

Should Thor Love & Thunder Issue Content Warnings?

CW: cancer, cancer storylines, and chemotherapy.

I went to see Thor Love & Thunder with a friend of mine a month ago. While Thor is the main character, I really was there to see Valkyrie and Jane Foster’s return to the Marvel franchise. After the movie was released, I was browsing the internet and I read an interesting article. The article was referring to Thor Love & Thunder and whether it should have included content warnings for viewers. If you couldn’t tell from the content warning I posted earlier, the content warning that viewers were asking for was regarding cancer, cancer diagnosis, and chemotherapy.

In Thor Love & Thunder, it’s revealed that Jane was diagnosed with cancer and her outcome was grim. She seeks out Mjölnir (Thor’s old Hammer) to see if this type of magic could help cure her. When Jane connects with Mjölnir, she’s given powers related to Thor, however, it’s at a cost. While Jane is Thor, her body is suppressed to fight cancer. For many viewers, they would have liked a heads up that this was a storyline happening in this movie.

I have never been diagnosed with cancer, so this isn’t a lived experience I’m able to speak to. However, I have had a loved one pass away from cancer, so I can at least relate to that aspect of this conversation. I personally didn’t have a problem watching this film. I’m sensing that there might be someone reading this who would think “people should stop being so sensitive”. I don’t see content warnings as being too sensitive. It’s simply saying that “this media contains x,y,z. If that’s something you want to avoid, don’t watch this film, TV show, etc.” The way that anyone handles trauma is so varied. I can see why others would have appreciated the heads up as Jane’s backstory includes her cancer diagnosis.

I will say that Jane’s cancer is a storyline in the comics, so it can be argued that this is comic book accurate. Some fans aren’t thrilled with the idea of bringing Jane back, giving her a cancer diagnosis, she gets powers and ultimately ends up dying in the end. I’m not sure how I feel about it as I go back and forth.

Anyway, I thought this was an interesting article and conversation to write about. I would be curious as to your thoughts. Should Thor Love & Thunder have included a content warning? or is cancer so common that it isn’t worth it to include it?

Dallas Day Trip

When I was planning the itinerary for Austin, I knew I wanted to stop in Dallas. Dallas is known as the home to the Dallas Cowboys, BBQ, and unfortunately the city where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. When I told my mom I was visiting Dallas, she was telling me where she was when she found out JFK was assassinated. She was in elementary school when she was sent home and found my grandma crying in front of the TV. It’s unfortunate that Dallas was the setting for something so horrific. I would honestly recommend visiting Dallas solely for the history and the museums that are located there.

The first place we stopped was the Dealey Plaza museum. The Dealey Plaza is the building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot the president. It’s been named a historical building and turned into a museum. I felt this museum did a great job balancing JFK’s life and all that he accomplished while also covering the assassination. It wasn’t a museum solely dedicated to the assassination which I thought was respectful. There were diagrams showing the motorcade. One thing I pointed out to my husband was the fact that there were white X’s on the road which showed the points in which JFK was shot. I wasn’t expecting that to be there and it made it more alarming to me. The museum itself was well worth the trip and I would probably go back to Dallas and visit the museum again if I was with someone who had never been.

After the Dealey Plaza museum, we went to the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum. While this museum focuses on the holocaust, it also focused on the definition of human rights along with other genocides in history. It talked about the idea of “upstanders” and “bystanders” Upstanders are individuals in history who do the right thing even if it’s illegal or banned. Individuals who smuggled Jewish people out of Europe technically were doing something illegal, but it was the right thing to do. Bystanders are those who stood by and didn’t do anything. I liked how this museum didn’t just focus on the Holocaust, but also explained how this happened and what traits dictators show that lead them to violence.

Along with the museums, me and my husband walked around downtown Dallas. We stopped at Pegasus City Brewing which oddly reminded us of the video game Bioshock since the font felt old-fashioned. After having a few cocktails and dinner, we meandered back to our hotel before driving home the next day.

It’s funny; I spent less time in Dallas, but this post was a lot longer than my Austin post. I think that’s because of the museums which I learned a lot from. There was more downtime in Austin versus Dallas as there was a list of activities that I wanted to do for the day. This road trip was such a blast. My next trip will be to Door County, Wisconsin in September. Otherwise, I’m thinking an international trip will be my focus sometime next year.

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.