Thank You, Next Book Tag

I saw this “Thank You, Next” book tag from A Geek Girl’s Guide and I knew I needed to do this tag. I thought this was such a creative book tag and I’m on track to have a great reading year in 2019. Here are my answers to this tag:

  1. Name a book you said “thank u, next” to (a book you did not finish)

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Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer by Seth Grahame Smith. This book is a biography of Abraham Lincoln’s life, but with added elements of his personal vendetta against vampires. I thought I would enjoy this, but I found the book to be slow paced and boring.  I will say my favorite moment in that book was when Abraham Lincoln met Edgar Allen Poe. Other than that, thank you next.

2. Name a book that taught you love (a book you loved)

The Lying Woods

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston. I was introduced to Ashley Elston from Super Space Chick’s Youtube book channel. I enjoyed every single book Ashley has published as her books are more contemporary intertwined with a mystery. The Lying Woods takes place in Louisiana where Owen is pulled from his prestigious private school after it’s found out that his father embezzled his employee’s retirement accounts and has fled from their town. There’s a terrible injustice occurring, but everything is not what it seems.  The Lying Woods was great, but I still prefer her other book This is Our Story. 

3. Name a book that taught you patience

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This is technically a comic, but I’m going to use Honor and Curse #1 written by Mark London and illustrated by NicolÁs Salamanca. The reason why I picked this comic was because it sat on my shelf unread for the longest time. I wasn’t sure if I would like this story, however I was patient with myself and finally got to reading the first issue.

Honor and Curse takes place in Feudal Japan where Genshi Sakagura is adopted by the Iga clan after his parents are murdered by thieves. After an altercation with his Master, he’s haunted by an evil spirit named Tengu who can consume him to the point where Genshi doesn’t remember his actions. This series details Genshi’s fate and how Tengu manipulates his reality.

I was blown away! The story was engaging, the characters were interesting and the scenery was gorgeous. I wish I would have read it earlier.

4. Name a book that taught you pain

Prodigy Book Cover

Prodigy by Marie Lu. The way the book ended left a cliff hanger on the outcome of one of the characters. There’s the potential that one of my favorite characters will never heal from their injuries which left the series on a somber note. There’s still one book left in the trilogy, but I’m almost dreading to read it.

5. Name a book that you loved at the time of reading, but in hindsight, you don’t like as much, though you still learned something from it.

Dietland

Dietland by Sarai Walker. I rated it two stars when I originally read it because the plot felt out of place. It seemed there were multiple story lines occurring at once, but they didn’t seem to come together. However, I believe the book is still important to read because it shows how fatphobic our society is and the hurtful stereotypes placed on fat bodies every day. It highlights how we can’t judge someone’s health status based on weight which is something we need to keep repeating. It’s an important book with the themes it expresses, but the story falls short.

6. Name a book you are currently talking to

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Finder’s Keepers by Stephen King. This is book #2 in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy with retired Detective Bill Hodges. It’s funny because I thought Mr. Mercedes was okay, but Finder’s Keepers was SO GOOD. This latest series by Stephen King revolves around Bill Hodges and his most famous case being unsolved during his employment. It was the case surrounding the Mr. Mercedes killer who plowed into a crowd of job seekers during the 2009 recession. The first book solves the case, but in book #2, there’s another killer who is deadly and just a shitty person in general. Bill reunites with Jerome and Holly to save a young boy and his sister from this awful person.

After I finished this book at work, I talked to myself in my car ride home about how much I liked this book. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads while I gave Mr. Mercedes three stars. It has given me renewed interest in the series and I’m heading to the library either today or tomorrow to see if they have the third book available to check out.

7. Name a book that’s going to last (the book that helped you love yourself a little bit more)

Order of the Phoenix

Re-reading the Harry Potter books will always provide self love. I owe so much to the Harry Potter series as far as my love of reading, but also with being a geek. I’m on the Half Blood Prince now and I know I will feel a sense of loss when I’m done reading the series.

Feel free to do this tag if you feel so inclined. Make sure you credit Michelle @ A Geek Girl’s Guide at the link above.

 

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Gaming at Gen Con

This past weekend, I attended Gen Con for the first time. Gen Con is a four day gaming convention located in downtown Indianapolis. This convention encompasses several facets of gaming including: board games, PC gaming, trading card games, RPG’s, LARP (Live Action Role Play) and more. Detailing my experience attending Gen Con is more difficult than I imagined. It’s challenging to put into words how much this convention meant to me as a gaming geek. I’m starting to get teary eyed as I type this post because I had such a fantastic time gaming for four days straight. For those who are looking to attend Gen Con, I would highly recommend it. 

My journey to Gen Con started in February of this year. I applied for a press badge on a whim because why not? I was approved for a press badge for C2E2 in Chicago, so why not try it for Gen Con. My press badge was approved within a couple of weeks after I submitted my first application. Within a month before the convention, my email was flooded with board game developers wanting to set up a time for demos and interviews. I settled on two demo’s with Goliath Games and Games by Bicycle. To prevent this post from being incredibly long, I’m going to write a separate post on the games I did “demo” from both of these developers.

After realizing I was actually going to Gen Con, I recruited my brother to come with me. I was already planning on driving down to Indianapolis, but I didn’t want to go by myself. Having my brother with me throughout the drive made it more bearable. We listened to Not Another DnD Podcast as we drove to get us hyped up for the convention.

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My friend, Me and My Brother waiting to go into the Vendor Hall at Gen Con 2019. 

Me and my brother chose to stay in an Air BnB versus a hotel downtown. Part of this decision resulted because I couldn’t find any hotel on Gen Con’s website with a room available. As soon as passes go on sale in January, hotel rooms are reserved as well. This meant by the time I was looking for a room, I was coming up with nothing. Our Air BnB was about 25-30 minutes away from Downtown Indianapolis. One of my regrets was not staying right in the heart of downtown. I wanted the full Gen Con experience, but I felt that was stunted because of knowing we needed to take a Lyft every single day. We also had to bring almost everything we needed for the full day because we didn’t have anywhere to store our stuff. This didn’t take away from the convention, but it made me realize what I want to do for next year’s convention.

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LOOK AT THIS CROWD! Waiting to enter the vendor hall. 

When I first approached the Indianapolis Convention Center on Thursday, I was in awe of how big the vendor hall is. There are 30 ROWS OF GAMES. 30 ROWS!? I was overwhelmed. How could I look at all the games where there are that many developers who appear at Gen Con? It wasn’t until after the third day of attending that I felt I had seen every vendor. I brought $300 of spending cash with me and even though it was enough cash for me, I could have easily saved more.

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I lost the game.. playing Lander at Gen Con 2019. 

As far as the gaming, it’s extremely organized. On the Gen Con website, I signed up for a couple gaming demo’s before the convention began. However, I discovered I could also buy generic gaming tickets if I found a game I wanted to demo, but didn’t have it in my schedule. I demoed an intergalactic strategy game titled Lander which doesn’t launch on Kickstarter until March of 2020. Again, to prevent this post from being gigantic, I will write a separate post of my game testing of Lander. I do plan on “kicking” the game once it launches because I enjoyed the strategy of what the game had to offer.

Another reason I loved being at Gen Con was I felt I was at the center of board game news. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I played Lander which hasn’t even been released yet. It felt like I was getting a “sneak peak” of a game that hasn’t launched.

To end my post, I wanted to sum up the turn out of Gen Con 2019. Gen Con had a record breaking year with 70,000 attendees. There were 19,600 ticketed gaming events, over 2,000 of these tickets were electronic tickets found on the Gen Con app. Finally, Gen Con took measures to cut down on waste that the convention produces. For their efforts, they prevented 24,000 cups from ending up in Indiana’s landfills.

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Gen Con was super cool. 

Gen Con was a life changing experience for me. I never felt more proud to be a gamer and to be in a place where I fit in. This convention is one I hope to attend again in 2020. Hopefully I will see some of you there 😉

 

Heavy Rain Is Heavily Underwhelming

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My blogging schedule has been irregular lately due to attending Gen Con in Indianapolis last weekend. Gen Con was one of the best conventions I have ever attended and I do plan to write about my experience soon. Hopefully, my blog posts will be on a more regular schedule since I don’t have any more out of town vacations or conventions to go to. I took this Monday off from work because I figured I would need a day to recover from the convention. Besides catching up on house work, I decided to finish playing Heavy Rain which is a game I started almost two months ago, but I couldn’t find the time to finish. Heavy Rain had a mysterious story, but terrible controls.

Heavy Rain is a psychological thriller launched by game developer Quantic Dream. The game centralizes on four playable characters: Ethan, a father suffering from mental illness, Scott Shelby a PI, Norman Jayden, a FBI agent and Madison, a photojournalist. All of these characters are wrapped up in solving the mystery of the “Origami Killer”. The Origami Killer kidnaps boys and forces the parents to perform trials to see how much they love their kids. If the parents fail their trials, they won’t be able to save their son from drowning in a sewer grate. Various chapters are told from the character’s as they uncover little by little the secret to the Origami Killer’s identity.

The story itself is rather creepy. There were a couple chapters with jump scares, but it was far and few in between. I hate playing video games with jump scares because then I can’t focus on the game. I wasn’t expecting how the story was going to play out which allowed me to feel surprised by the reveal of the killer’s identity. As the chapters continue, the chance of killing one of the playable characters becomes higher. On my first play through, one of my characters died in a silly way which left me feeling annoyed by their death.

The number one deterrent for me wanting to replay this game is the controls. The controls feel unnatural. For moving each of the characters, you have to hold down the right trigger for the entire movement. I would rather use a joystick to move my character because it’s more seamless with the controller. Another slightly annoying factor with the controls is all the QTE. QTE or Quick Time Events is when a series of buttons comes up in rapid succession which means the player has to hit the buttons on the controller in response. I don’t mind QTE sequences, but the buttons during some of the chapters felt really weird. There were times where the QTE were trying to direct me to move my controller in a certain way and I wasn’t comprehending what I was supposed to do. As a result, there were certain QTE I had to replay more than others and that became obnoxious.

It’s a shame because Heavy Rain had potential, but because of the controls set in the game, it made me dislike the game. I purchased Heavy Rain in a two pack with Beyond Two Souls. I’m planning to play Beyond Two Souls despite Heavy Rain’s terrible control settings. It’s worth it to play Heavy Rain at least once, but make sure to buy it used.

 

Convergence & New Beginnings

I will be honest, this week kicked my ass. I was working extremely long days which led to me coming home and passing out on my couch. The break from writing was much needed as I feel rejuvenated to bring content to BizarreBrunette. I wanted to recap my sixth Convergence convention which happened during the Fourth of July weekend. This year was different because Convergence moved hotels from the Doubletree in Bloomington to the Downtown Minneapolis Hyatt. This Convergence was one of my favorite years I attended due to the change in hotel.

Convergence 2019.jpg

Daddy’s Little Monster, Convergence 2019 

The Downtown Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel was a perfect location for Convergence. Since the hotel is located in the heart of Minneapolis, it’s easier to drive to. I ended up staying with a friend who lives slightly south of the cities, but we ended up taking an Uber each way which was convenient. It’s freeing to not have to worry about the status of my vehicle and whether or not I’m parked in an illegal space. This was the first Convergence where I didn’t have my car on site and it was worth it.

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Convergence 2019 

One of the highlights of Convergence besides the hotel was the accessibility to the gaming floor. In Doubletree hotel, the gaming floor was on the 22nd floor. In order to play a game, you had to leave the festivities on the main level, wait for an elevator only to get to the 22nd floor with all gaming slots being filled. Instead, this year, there was more empty tables to play games with friends. Additionally, since the gaming room was on the fifth floor, it was easier to play a game here and then there while being able to return to the con at any given moment.

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Wonder Woman cosplay! 

Finally, being in Downtown Minneapolis meant there was access to great food. There were many restaurants, breweries and taverns located within walking distance. We visited the local brewery, Lakes and Legends, quite a few times. I may have been the only one in cosplay at the brewery, but I had no shame. I was able to limit my food intake to one meal out to eat which allowed me to save money while exploring the Downtown area.

This Convergence was one to remember. Severe con depression sank in the Monday I returned to work because of how great my weekend was. Convergence is always a highlight of my summer and I always count down the days till next year.

Pennywise is Back; It Chapter #2

Without a doubt my favorite Stephen King novel is Carrie. She is the protagonist I would constantly root for as she gets revenge on her bullies, yet she’s a villain because of her methods. Plus Carrie features the absolutely terrifying fictional mother I have ever read about. Since reading Carrie back in high school, I tend to gravitate to his books. When my fiance took me to see It, I was blown away by how great the movie was. The child actors they picked really could act despite their age and Bill Skarsgard became this demonic clown creature. As more is being revealed about It Chapter #2, the more excited I become to see this movie in September. 

The newest trailer dropped at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). After having watched the trailer three or four times in a row, one of my first impressions was the soundtrack. In horror movies, the music makes the movie. In the original Halloween slasher films, the music plays every time Michael Myers enters a home. In the It Chapter #2 trailer, there is a short theme that plays whenever It is hanging around. It’s creepy and the theme music stays with you.

Another reason I’m personally looking forward to this movie is the casting. Besides Bill Skarsgard, the “Loser’s Club” is perfectly cast. Bill Hader is the older Richie incarnated. Richie is this humorous, slightly nerdy kid, and Bill seems to adapt his personality well. Jessica Chastain seems to embody the adult Beverly with her flaming red hair and how she holds the whole group together. James McAvoy plays Bill Denbrough which is another excellent casting choice. The sequence in the trailer with James McAvoy in the fun house mirrors chasing after the little boy who is also being targeted by It is fucking scary.

I’m not a horror movie fan, but I can’t wait to see this movie opening weekend. It Chapter #2 opens September 6th 2019.

 

Real Neat Blog Award

Being nominated for a “blog” award gives me a sense of joy. It reminds me that even though I don’t have thousands of followers, I have many that genuinely enjoy what I write. I was nominated for the “Real Neat Blog Award” by MonsterLady’s Diary, a blog I recently came across. Here are my answers from what I was given.

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Do you like your media digital or physical?

I prefer any comics or book in a physical form. I will say to prevent clutter, I do like my movies in a digital copy. I have too many movies lying around, so digital copies keep my movies all in the same place.

If you could learn any type of dance, what would it be?

I’m a terrible dancer, but in college I did try out ballroom dancing. Ballroom is fun because you have to have a relationship with your partner. This includes trust and having great chemistry with each other. Ballroom takes a lot of talent and coordination and I would love to learn more about it.

What do you love most about being a geek?

My favorite part about being a geek is being able to be my authentic self. I have always been a book reader and completely engrossed into Harry Potter. BizarreBrunette exists as my creative outlet to be a geek and share that with others.

What’s the Latest Game You’ve Got Into?

I would say I’m really into MtGArena which allows me to play Magic the Gathering online. It allows me to get better at the game even when I don’t feel like traveling to my local game store. After working a twelve hour shift, I don’t want to spend time with other people. Besides Arena, I have also been playing both Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 and Heavy Rain. Both games satisfy my gaming hobby.

If you’re a Netflix user, what original series are you looking forward to?

Mindhunter season #2 is what I’m looking forward to. The first season left off with the BTK killer getting closer to committing his first crime. I’m interested to see how Holden’s story will intertwine with the capture of the BTK killer.

If you could have one thing only from your favorite movie(s) what would it be?

Hermione’s Time Turner for sure.

What’s your favorite hobby that doesn’t involve a screen?

Exercise is therapeutic for me. I woke up at 5 AM this morning for my AMP cycle class at Lifetime fitness. Exercise leaves me feeling refreshed and strong which allows me to tackle my day. Besides exercise, I like to read books & comics, walk outside and go to a coffee shop.

Thanks again to Emily for nominating me. I nominate:

Josh from Just a Sorcerer

Fed from Fed’s Life

Donovan from Coolbeans

Mickey from Nerdily Blog

Most of the individuals I was going to nominate are already nominated.

Here are my questions!

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be?
  2. What’s your favorite podcast you’re listening to right now?
  3. What’s your favorite part about being a geek?
  4. What’s the latest game you’ve gotten into?
  5. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
  6. What’s a series you hate, but everyone else loves?
  7. What’s your favorite hobby? (besides looking at a screen)

 

Thanks to all who read my blog, I appreciate all of you.

 

 

80’s Sci Fi meets DnD in Star Frontiers

One of the ways I’m able to play more DnD is to be a part of the “Dungeons & Dragons Minnesota” Facebook group. This allows me to connect with fellow Minnesota RPG players in my area. Last month I drove to the Source Comics & Games to partake in a small campaign utilizing the Star Frontiers rule book. Having never played Star Frontiers before, I would recommend it for any one shot campaign as I had a blast.

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Star Frontiers Character Sheet. My Dralasite is carrying a huge assault rifle. My character is named Sloogatha Muda. This is my own personal image. 

Combine 80’s sci-fi action films with DnD and that’s how I would describe Star Frontiers. The rule book was originally published in 1982 which was in the height of film releases such as Flash Gordon or Robo Cop. Star Frontiers is set in the center of a spiral galaxy very much like our own Milky Way. In this setting, ships can jump to the “Void” which allows ships to travel to various planets. The basic game takes place in the “Frontier Sector” where four races have come together to form the United Plantary Federation which is very similar to Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets. After acknowledging the background of the Star Frontier, this is where the role playing session begins.

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Dralasites. Don’t they look like adipose… kinda? Image from the Star Frontiers Wiki. 

The four races to pick from were Humans, Dralasites, Vrusk and Yazirian. I picked a Dralasite which reminds me of the adipose in David Tennant’s run of Doctor Who. The Dralasites have a voice box, so in the actual DnD session, I used my “alien” voice. It helped to make the character sound more real. The Dralasites can have as many limbs equal to it’s dexterity divided by 10, rounded up. I didn’t roll high on my dexterity, so I only had four limbs, but it would have been cool if I had so many limbs that I looked like a squishy octopus.

Our campaign started in a bar where we saved a fellow Yazarian from some bounty hunters. Our team decided to help this Yazarian locate treasure in this pyramid statue. One of my favorite parts of our session was when we were fighting these poisonous spiders. Once we defeated them, I decided to touch the poison on the wall. The DM was advising me not to do that, but I did anyway. I rolled a critical success and became “immune” to the poison and I created a vaccine I could use for the other players. The DM was shocked.

Our one shot session lasted about four hours. The time completely flew by as I became immersed in the 80’s space nostalgia of Star Frontiers. If you’re looking for a completely new system to DM, I personally would recommend this one because who doesn’t love 80’s sci fi films?