Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wake of Vultures (The Shadow - Book 1) by Lila Bowen - Book Review

I have been following Delilah Dawson on Twitter (@DelilahSDawson) for a long time, and yet I had never read any of her books. As such, I was terrified to pick up Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen (pseudonym for Delilah Dawson). Terrified, and it's all André the Giant's fault. Let me explain.

When I was a child, I loved wrestling (back when the WWE was the WWF, and wrestling was all about crazy make-up, over-the-top (and somewhat offensive) themes, and managers helping with the occasional chair thrown into the ring). Yeah, it was just a stage show, but I ate it up.

Half of my family had moved out of state when I was a babe. We took many trips to visit them. On one of these visits, little Doug was walking through the airport holding onto daddy's hand, and who is sitting but a few feet away? André the Giant. I had to hold back my inner Butabi. I was young, awkward, shy, there was no way I would be going over unassisted by a grown-up to say anything to the man.

But my dad knew my love of the big men "beating" on each other for sport. He took my little hand and prepared to walk me over to ask for an autograph. Someone got there first, a guy older than me (I was just a little thing) but not ADULT ADULT aged, and Mr. The Giant FLIPPED THE F**K OUT on the dude. I can understand as an adult now that there's some hassle to fame, and chances are that wasn't the first person to "bother" him as he wait for his flight. Maybe not the second, or third, or fourth. But little me just couldn't understand. DEVASTATED.

Never meet your heroes? Someone said that.

As I said in the beginning, I have been following Lila/Delilah on Twitter for some time. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned on here before I'm writing. Currently approximately 90,000 words into a projected 130,000 word novel, and Ms. Dawson has been (and continues to be) incredibly helpful with writing advice. She constantly tweets out stories of her own struggles in the process, tips and tricks, query advice, even advice on quasi-related things like self care, etc. etc. etc. etc.

So, why was I terrified to pick up one of her books? It's meeting your hero. What if it's bad? What does that say about all the advice I'd been absorbing into my own processes for so long? What if...?


Chapter One alone gave me cause to rethink my novel opener. Wake of Vultures was captivating from the get-go and was unrelenting from there. It's an Old West full of a fascinating take on various cryptids and those who hunt them.

It's a book of monsters and also a book of hart (see what I did there? No? The Hart Foundation? Brett the Hitman? Leave me alone.)  But seriously, there're some real feels in here.

You will not be disappointed.

I give it... This picture. I don't know who made it, but... OH YEAH!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mice and Mystics - Board Game Review

I was a bit of a what you might call a "late bloomer" when it came to my geek cred. My youth was primarily spent playing video games (when I wasn't doing actual outdoors-y type things... Outdoors? Really?). It wasn't until only recently that I first played some Dungeons & Dragons. I was instantly hooked. Now, Dungeons & Dragons is fantastic, but the problem is you need a pretty sizable group to play. Let's face it, without a DM and at least three others, the game isn't going to far (this is in my experience. Not to say you couldn't play with three). My D&D group only meets monthly (if that) and there are just some times that I need a fix. That's where Mice and Mystics comes in. Mice and Mystics is a cooperative board game that is almost like D&D Lite.

What makes this like a lite version of D&D (or whatever your RPG of choice is) is that it is a cooperative game that is playing a story with combat resolved via dice rolls; however, it does not require a DM to moderate. In that respect, you can even play the game solo. Gaming group going to be short a few people? Bring out Mice and Mystics and play. No need to create characters or have someone tell the story. The rulebook creates the means for which the enemies attack and what your goals are. The story book creates the story. It's set up in Chapters, so you can play a little or you can play a lot. There are A LOT of components, so the game isn't too lite, yet the theme is cute enough to use the game as a gateway into the RPG world. Now, in order to get little ones involved they'll need quite a bit of coaching.

Now, last thing to note, just because Mice and Mystics is more or less a stripped down version of an RPG doesn't mean that the game is in any sense particularly easy. Easy to learn? Somewhat. However, someone somewhere said that coop board games should only be fully winnable something like 25% of the time, and while some Chapters of the game are easier than others, some are just plain HARD (as evidenced by all those sideways mice in the pic to the left there).

Definitely a great game with expansions already out to further the story of Collin and the crew.

I give it... a natural 20.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Betrayal At House On The Hill - Board Game Review

I find myself to be a rather interesting individual. Everything with me tends to fall into extremes. I just saw a meme about this...

I'm not sure who to credit for the pic, but it's not mine.

As a child, I needed all of the GI Joes, all of the Smurfs, all of the trolls. I needed to play hockey, watch hockey, play hockey some more, on ice, on the street, in gym. I needed to buy all of the guitar things, watch all the horror movies, all the anime, go to conventions, collect all the comics, go to more conventions, do all the Warcraft all the time, see all the movies (hell, I worked in a movie theater). I needed to read up on all the D&D, write my own backstory. No, I'm not just going to write backstory, I'm going to write a book! I needed to read all the books! and blog about them!

Well, my most recent crush is on board games.

I am just learning now about all these wonderfully complex games that aren't Monopoly or Risk or Sorry or Trouble or Pie in the Face. I started watching Wil Wheaton's show Tabletop, watching the Dice Tower reviews, making a profile on, and just devouring all things board game.

Enough with the chit-chat, this is a review blog (of sorts).

Betrayal at House on the Hill

I know at some point during my ramblings I must have mentioned my affinity for B horror movies. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Ghoulies. I love all of that stuff.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a board game that scratches my horror movie itch. It's a quasi-cooperative game for 3 - 6 players. We'll get back to the quasi-coop part in a bit. For those more experienced in board gaming, it has a traitor.

What's up with this game, you ask? Well, you and your friends have come upon a creepy, old house, and decide, "let's go explore that shit! What can go wrong?" (like you do).

Broken rooms, secret passages, bad omens, there are just so many interesting things happening as you go from room to room. You find items, and madmen, and creepy objects, and then the haunt begins, bringing this from a cooperative game to one versus the rest.

You see, someone in the party is a traitor who lured you to the house with nefarious intent, and it is incumbent upon the rest of the party to stop the evil plan or just flat-out escape. A guide in the book details out what the party needs to do to win, with a separate guide for what the traitor needs to do.

Picture snagged from
Instead of my usual gaming friends, I gave this its inaugural run with some extended family (who have only ventured into board gaming via the usual suspects; Monopoly, et. al.). Mother-in-law, aunts, and uncle gathered around and prepared to embark on some spooky adventure.

It was our first time (though I had knowledge of how to play from (a) reading the rules first (always good to do), and (b) watching Tabletop). The game went mostly smoothly. Hindsight, we made a few blunders, but our second go went better (and allowed me to have my MIL devoured by bloodthirsty bats (Ah, to be the traitor... and win. Sweet, sweet, death to all)).

Final thoughts: This was a ton of fun, to the tune of the Mrs. (who isn't typically into board gaming, nor "fun" things) said she would definitely join in next time. Now to just get that "next time" set up soon!

I give it... Old man Smithers.