Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets *re-read*

The Harry Potter books are still exciting to read even though I know what happens. It’s bringing back memories of reading the books as a kid and the excitement of seeing another Harry Potter movie in theaters. There’s incredible detail in the books with back stories, events the main characters go through in between stopping Voldemort. I just finished Chamber of Secrets and of course I’ll be sharing the moments I forgot about: 

  • Arthur Weasley works at the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office.
  • Ron is seen reading comics titled “Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle” This made me laugh.
  • It was Ron who knew about mudbloods in the book, Hermione didn’t even know the term. However, in the movie, Hermione knows exactly what mudblood means.
  • Nearly Headless Nick was stabbed 45 times in the neck.
  • Ron informed Harry not to tell Dumbledore about the voices he has been hearing. Another difference where Hermione is made smarter in the movies versus the books.
  • Needing Lockhart’s signature to get the book for the Polyjuice Potion. The one time Lockhart helps with anything.
  • Draco reveals to Harry & Ron under the Polyjuice Potion of all the Dark Arts Lucius has hidden in his mansion. This later gets Lucius into trouble.
  • Aparecium is a spell used to reveal ink which was used on Tom Riddle’s Diary
  • Lockhart obnoxiously decorating the Great Hall for Valentine’s Day. I wish I could have seen Snape’s face when this happened.
  • Dumbledore taught Transfiguration before he became a Headmaster
  • Lucius Malfoy targeting Ginny is more political than the movie lets on. He targeted her due to wanting to destroy Arthur Weasley’s Muggle Protection Act. If Arthur’s daughter opened the Chamber of Secrets, Arthur would have been ridiculed.

My number one complaint with the books versus the movies is how different Ron is. Ron is incredibly knowledgeable on how the Wizarding World operates. He often has to educate Hermione and Harry about certain terms and social norms when they appear in the books. Hermione is seen in the movies as being her intelligent self at the expense of taking that knowledge away from Ron.

The Harry Potter book series has a lot of politics in it. The term “mudblood” is a dirty term almost a derogatory word which has meaning in today’s society. Even looking at Arthur Weasley as a character, he’s a champion of human rights. He wants peaceful witches & wizards to live with Muggles. This gives him bad press, but that’s what makes Arthur endearing. He is standing up for what’s right despite how the majority of wizards feel.

I started the Prisoner of Azkeban already and it makes me look forward to my lunch breaks at work. Reading on my lunch breaks has helped me be more productive. Let me know in the comments below how you feel about the Chamber of Secrets book and how it’s similar or different to the movie. 

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Mr. Mercedes Review

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My first Stephen King novel I read was Carrie followed by The Green Mile. Carrie is the novel I enjoyed the most due to how much I rooted for Carrie as the protagonist. Carrie’s mother is one of the creepiest fictional mothers I have ever read about. Sitting on my “to be read” shelf on good reads was Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy which is more detective series than horror. Mr. Mercedes certainly wasn’t my favorite Stephen King novel, but I genuinely liked the story set up along with relationships between the characters.

Detective Bill Hodges is retired, overweight and unhappy. His job was what he lived for, so without it, he doesn’t find meaning in his retirement. When Detective Hodges retired, he left few cases unsolved. One unsolved case was the “Mercedes Case” which involved an unsub plowing a Mercedes into a job rally in 2009 killing eight including a young infant baby. In a private chat, Hodges is contacted by the “Mercedes Killer” nicknamed Mr. Mercedes by the media. This private chat brings Hodges purpose in his retirement as he is willing to risk his own safety in catching this killer. 

Let’s be serious, Detective Hodges isn’t a character I particularly like. He seems somewhat selfish allowing him to put his eighteen year old house helper and a mentally ill woman into incredible danger to apprehend Mr. Mercedes. He has treated persons of interest in the Mr. Mercedes case with such disdain that it probably contributed to a suicide of a person of interest. I’m more attached to who Detective Hodges teams up with which includes the high school senior, Jerome Robinson and Holly Gibney. Even though Hodges puts their lives in danger, they both make him more human.

Brady Hartsfield is revealed to be the Mercedes killer early on in the novel. He has an inappropriate relationship with his mother and killed his poor disabled brother, Frankie, by pushing him down the stairs. He’s racist, misogynistic, ableist and more. There’s nothing unique about his character and reading his story was probably the least interesting, but necessary to build up this dual between Hartsfield and Hodges.

The mystery isn’t the identity of the Mercedes killer, but what his next plan of attack is. It’s hinted at, but his end goal isn’t revealed until the last 100 pages. The latter half of the book moves much quicker than the first half and I did have trouble getting invested into the story because of the slow build up with all the characters. I will say Brady gets what’s coming to him which I found satisfying.

Overall, I had extremely high hopes for this book and I’m a little disappointed I didn’t like the series more. Fans of Stephen King should give this a shot, but go in with lower expectations. I’m planning on reading the other two books in the series, but it’s not a high priority right now. One day I’ll get around to watching the Mr. Mercedes TV show because Brendan Gleeson was perfectly cast as Det-Ret Bill Hodges. I rated this book 3 stars on good reads. 

Unstable Unicorns Review

Teeturtle has some of the cutest t-shirts. A couple years ago, I purchased one of my favorite hoodies from them. It featured all of the eveve evolutions jumping through the Pink Floyd Triangle. Unfortunately, I ripped a hole in it and had to get rid of it, but I know if I ever need any more geek hoodies, Teeturtle is the place to go. Recently, Teeturtle has delved into table top gaming by creating their Unstable Unicorns card game. During one of our DnD sessions, a friend brought over the main game with the expansions. Unstable Unicorns is really easy to learn and super adorable.

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I can be basic, but not Pumpkin Spice basic. 

Unstable Unicorns is a game of collecting unicorns for your stable. Every player starts with one baby unicorn. Throughout the game, you can play cards in your hand which could be adult Unicorns, upgrade cards to help you gain Unicorns or downgrade cards to prevent other players from gaining unicorns. There’s also “Neigh” cards which prevent a player from completing their action. The person who has around six to seven unicorns in their stable will win the game.

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The main base game to Unstable Unicorns is perfect for all ages, however, there are expansions which are NSFW. These include cards with swearing, slightly inappropriate art and could be offensive. It’s as if Cards Against Humanity designed these cards. Instead of “Neigh” cards they will be “Neigh, BITCH” or “Neigh Motherfucker.” I find these cards hilarious, but they aren’t for everyone.

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Probably my favorite Unicorn Card in the game. 

This game is great for anyone who’s a casual gamer and likes really cute things. I liked how quick the game was considering most of my board games I own take hours to play. I highly recommend buying the main game for your next game night.


Harry Potter & the Sorcerer Stone *re-read*

Traveling to Universal Studios last month has inspired me to read the Harry Potter books again. In fact, I finished Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone before I flew out to Florida. I’m currently on the Chamber of Secrets as of this moment, but I hope to have all seven books read by the end of 2019. Briefly, I wanted to share my initial thoughts of little moments in the book I completely forgot about:

  • Ron Weasley is a much smarter character than the movies demonstrate. He was one of the first characters to give Harry inside knowledge into magic on the Hogwarts Express. The movie “dumbs” him down a bit.
  • Wands at their core are made of unicorn hair, phoenix tail feathers and heartstrings of dragons. I don’t know why I forgot this, but I did.
  • Harry named Hedwig after a name he read in “A History of Magic”.
  • There are 142 staircases in Hogwarts
  • Professor Binns who teaches History of Magic is actually a ghost who died after sleepin gwhile his house caught on fire.
  • There’s a paragraph in the first book where several students claimed Professor Quirrell’s turban smelled funny. Foreshadowing much?
  • There are 700 fouls in Quidditch
  • Seekers are the Quidditch players with the worst injuries
  • Nicolas Flamel is 665 years old
  • The movie skipped Snape’s potion challenge that Hermione helps Harry with.

Otherwise, I felt the Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone movie followed the book pretty closely. I didn’t feel much was cut out that was major. I’m glad I’m reading the books again because as you can tell in my list, there’s a lot I forgot about the Harry Potter world. I’m about a fourth of the way through the Chamber of Secrets and when I finish that book, I’ll post my recap on here too.

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Enjoying the butterbeer 

Con of the North

I’m behind in my blog posts considering Con of the North happened close to a month ago. I wanted to write about this gaming convention because I had such a great time. Con of the North is located in the Northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities. It had been on my radar for years, but I couldn’t afford the gas to drive home when I was in college. This year, I invited a friend to come with me, so I didn’t have to attend alone.

Con of the North was extremely well organized. When I registered for the event, I could sign up for games, role-playing sessions and other events I found intriguing. When I signed up for an event, it showed my gaming schedule on the website, so I could see what blocks of time I had left. It also showed if an event was full, you could be put on their waiting list in case someone had to drop out of the event.

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Joker Faction for Batman Miniatures 

I drove to the hotel Friday after I got off of work to pick up my badge. Along with a badge, I got a Con of the North die, all of my tickets to the events I pre-signed up for and a packet for the convention including a map of the hotel. On Friday, I signed up to play the Batman Miniatures game published by Knight Models. Miniatures is a type of table top game that always fascinates me, but I’m terrible at. I find it’s challenging to predict what an opponent will do next and then try and place my miniatures in a compromising position to the opponent’s objective. I ended up losing to my opponent, but the game itself was easier to learn than I thought.

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If I only had one more turn.. 

Saturday, me and a friend had signed up to play several games of Magic the Gathering EDH/Commander style. A while ago, I wrote about my love / hate relationship with Magic due to the community. However, me and my friend met up with two friendly, non-judgmental players. It made the event enjoyable even though if I had one extra turn, I could have won.

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Sunday, me and my friend split up because she wanted to play a massive game of Settlers of Catan while I went to try RunePunk, a steampunk themed adventure using the Savage Worlds rules. Imagine Steampunk mixed with references from children’s stories.. that’s how I would best describe this. Steampunk has become a recent obsession of mine which is why I enjoyed this campaign a lot.

Con of the North is a convention I would for sure attend next year if I’m free. The organization, the convenient location and the welcoming community made this experience a positive one. It was a great way to spend a dull weekend in February.


Mad Cave Comics Unboxing

The Modern Gafa is a geeky, comics themed blog I read consistently. Every week, Victor writes a pull list including his favorite comics he reads. Through these posts, I discovered Mad Cave, an indie studio based in Miami, Florida. One series I’m particularly interested in is Midnight Task Force. After commenting on Victor’s post, Mad Cave contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing any of their comics and I freaked out because I was super excited to read new comics from a publisher I had never heard of.

After communicating with Mad Cave, I received the digital comics for free in agreement to write about the comics on either my personal blog or at Twin Cities Geek. However, I made a decision to purchase physical copies of Midnight Task Force, Battlecats, Knights of the Golden Sun, and Honor & Curse. Mad Cave originally said they would send me physical copies of the books at 50% which I disagreed with. I wanted to pay the full prices of these trade paperbacks because I want my money to support them as a business. I received the box right before I went to Orlando on vacation, so I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

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Midnight Task Force Cover. Image owned by Mad Cave.

The first trade paperback I pulled from the box was Midnight Task Force. This series caught my eye first because it seemed like something I would be into. Midnight Task Force reminds me of Minority Report meets CSI in a dystopian/destroyed Detroit. Aiden McCormick is a disabled war veteran suffering from severe PTSD. He is called in by the Detroit police to investigate grisly murders downtown. Can he bring justice to these victims while also staying sane?

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Battlecats Cover. Image owned by Mad Cave.

The second paperback I received was Battlecats. As a cat lady, any comic that features cats in any capacity will automatically intrigue me. On Valderia, the Battlecats are elite cat warriors protecting the throne from unforeseen evil. I’d like to believe this is a comic similar to the 80’s cartoon Thundercats which I haven’t watched.

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Unboxing all the comics! Image taken by me.

Towards the bottom of the box were the Knights of the Golden Sun four issue comic series. This is a biblical epic detailing what happens between the Old and New Testament. As someone who isn’t very religious, I’m not sure if this series will be my favorite, but I’m willing to read something out of my comfort zone.

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Unboxing! Image taken by me.

Finally, I received issue one of Mad Cave’s newest series Honor and Curse. In Feudal Japan, Genshi Sakagura was adopted by the Iga clan after the slaying of his parents. After an unfortunate encounter with his master, an evil spirit follows Genshi and haunts his dreams. How will Genshi cope with this evil spirit and still keep his sanity? Issue number two is set to be released sometime in March with the last issue being released in May.

Overall, I’m impressed with Mad Cave’s design of their books and their customer service. Eventually, I want to fully review each book I received on this blog. Let me know if you have ordered from Mad Cave before and what you think of their comics. Mad Cave can be found on Instagram, twitter and by their website. You can order digital copies through comiXology.

Hogwarts was Breathtaking.. Universal Orlando Trip Recap

It’s been about two weeks since my last blog post, but I’m back! Two weeks ago, I attended a table top gaming convention and then a couple days later, I flew out to Orlando on vacation to see Universal Studios along with Islands of Adventure. Life has been a little off kilter, however I had the most amazing weather in Orlando and it was refreshing to be able to escape the harsh Minnesota winter.

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No one else I would rather share a Butterbeer with. ❤ 

What inspired our trip to see Universal Orlando besides being huge Harry Potter fans was due to my mom’s retirement gift. When my mom retired from her employment after 38 years at the same company (longer than I have even been alive), they gave her a $500 Universal gift card to spend at Orlando and at Harry Potter World. It was a very generous gift which my mom took full advantage of after buying two wands, a couple t-shirts and a deathly hallows bracelet. I ended up purchasing a Luna Lovegood wand, a Harry Potter thermos, an Avengers tank top and a stuffed Niffler which is pretty good because I stuck to my budget.

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Seeing Hogwarts up close and riding the Hogwarts express brought me to tears. My dad was the one who brought home the books to read as a family and he would have loved to been able to see the world of Harry Potter brought to life. I also had a chance to ride the Escape from Gringotts ride in Diagon Alley which was thrilling. I’m not a roller coaster person, but the visuals were enough to make you feel as if you were in this part of the movie with the characters.

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mmmmmmmm… Beer………

Besides all of the Harry Potter/Hogsmeade/Diagon Alley parts, I also had a blast at the Simpson’s section which allowed me to fully indulge in a Duff beer. The Simpson’s ride was a little too bumpy for me and I was glad the ride was over otherwise I probably would have puked. The Revenge of the Mummy ride was another favorite of mine along with the rides on Marvel Island in Islands of Adventure.

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What beautiful weather. !

This vacation has been one to remember. It gave me enough of a break from work where I’m excited to get back to a routine again. The Harry Potter book series represents a huge part of my childhood and I’m grateful I had the chance to visit the theme park. Chances are, I will be back to visit as they are adding a Hagrid themed roller coaster, but for now, I’ll have my wand displayed in my room to remind me of all the fun I had this past week.

Before I conclude this blog post, I wanted to share what’s to come on Bizarre Brunette.  Next month, I’ll be attending C2E2, which is my first time attending this convention in Chicago. I’m also planning on writing a post about un-boxing all the comics I received from Mad Cave Comic Studios to write and review. Sitting in my queue are eight different blog posts waiting to be written, but I’m up for the challenge.