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.