Monthly reading review – February 2018

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Monthly reading review – February 2018

This February I have read:

Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★

Lord of the Flies by William Golding ★★

Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers book 3) by Lisa Kleypas  ★★★★★

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3) by E.L. James ★★

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1. How many books you’ve read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

I read only four books this February. I have been working on some new projects I will soon post about in more detail. I also have some very exciting books waiting for me on the shelf and while I’m not exactly happy with the amount of books I’ve read in February I have a good feeling about my March reading.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in February? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

I loved going back to some of my favorite authors and characters in February. Strange Candy was on my reading list for years and reading short stories set in the world of Anita Blake made me feel really good.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

Devil in winter is one of my favorite books and I managed to promote it for book club reading in March. I re-read it in Croatian translation and was horrified how bad the translation was.

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4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

Reading the Lord of the Flies was a strain on my nerves for most part. On the book club meeting I did not part well with that book and I feel bad just thinking about it. Even with reading only four books I managed to get all the book club reading and TBR Jar Draw in time. Maybe it is time for more challenge?

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

Finally finishing with the Fifty shades series made me feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. This book gave me way to much grief and the first half felt like wrestling a sumo fighter. It got a bit better toward the end but not enough to make up for all the pain and trouble.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

I needed to remind myself more about reading the books written by authors I love. This is an excellent time for me to go back to some of my favorite authors and book series I need to finish up

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Final thoughts on February reading

I did not made any reviews of the books I’ve read in February. I will be posting a review on Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton collection with short thoughts on each story.

I have made some nice progress on A Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics by Erich Fromm and hope to finish it next month!

I am becoming more confident about posting my thoughts and projects that are about my other hobbies and not just reading. I am still considering making changes to the blog in general to accomodate these posts.

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Storytelling boardgames

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I love reading books with compelling stories. When I was little I used to read a lot of fairy tale collections from all over the world. This fascination never really stopped. As could be seen from some of my favorite boardgames it has followed me from one hobby to the other. Some of my favorite boardgames have a storytelling mechanic of sorts. While reading is a mostly solitary activity; playing boardgames is for the most part something that can be enjoyed with other people. To both sides there are exceptions and some boardgames are designed as an awesome solo experience as well. Here are some of the boardgames that can tell a great story and can be enjoyed with others!

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Tales of the Arabian Nights

The version I will showcase here is the reimplementation of a same title game from 1985. The players take on a role of a character from the world of 1001 Nights and travel the map of Eurasia and Middle East in daring adventures. What I really love about this game is how immersive it can be for all the players involved and not just the players whose turn of play it is. While one player decides his choices other players are equipped with matrices and tables to read out his options and results. While every player is a master of his own destiny some choices can lead to magical hidden places others can get a player turned into a monkey AND imprisoned at the same time.

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As the game progresses the storytelling aspect comes strongly to the fore. The results of the encounters are read from a hefty book with more than 2000 options to explore from which provides for the ample replay ability of the game. The game is decorated with beautiful illustrations and vibrant colors.

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It was published in 2009. and designed to be played solo or with up to six people. The experience and length of the game will slightly vary depending on the number of players but it is roughly around two hours playing time. The game is welcoming to both new players and veterans for it is easy to teach.

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Mysterium

Mysterium is one of those games that can be used in creating an unforgettable evening with friends. Story behind the game and the players ability to immerse themselves into the game are the best parts and the players all play cooperatively to win the game together. The game plays strongly on the mechanics of association and pattern recognition. In the lieu of Victorian mysteries and decadent parties the theme is strongly set. The premise of the game is that one player is a ghost and each other player is a renown psychic. There has been a mysterious murder and police need some supernatural help with the case. All players are invited to the spooky manor to help with deciphering what happened with the help of a ghost who will send them clues trough visions.

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The player who takes the role of a ghost will set the game and try to help other players solve their cases without saying a word using only vision cards. The seance lasts for eight rounds represented by the mantel piece clock. Thematically it is aptly described as the time when the veil between world is the thinnest and the ghost can send players visions.

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This is a deduction party game in which ghost player sets the pace of the story for each other player. Mysterium has been published 2015. and since then has had two expansions. The artwork is intriguing and vision cards especially set the spooky tone of the game. Many choose this game as a Halloween themed party game and with few simple touches to the decor it can turn to be a very fun time indeed. The game is meant for company from two to seven people and works excellent with maximum number of players. The difficulty can be balanced and set as per player needs.

 

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Above and Below/Near and Far

Both of these games are made by an amazing author and designer who does mostly all the work needed to make a board game – from design and artwork to production and marketing. Ryan Laukat has made a set of incredible storytelling games that are almost a continuation of the experience from one to the other. The players get to explore and settle the fantastic world author has created. Both games have players reading from a story book of encounters with addition to more common boardgame mechanisms of set collection, card drafting and dice rolling.

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Above and Below came out in 2015. and has a variety of promo pieces and even an expansion book of story encounters. Near and Far was published 2017. and with assortments of promotional pieces available has had a successful Kickstarter campaign for expansion named Amber mines late last year.

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Both games are designed for 2 to 4 players and will take up to two hours of players time depending on the number of players. I have Above and Below and have kickstarted Near and Far expansion with all the addons including the game itself. I hope it will arrive by Easter and it is a favorite already.

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This War of Mine

Thematically this is a darker implementation of storytelling into a board game. Main difference and innovation that this adventure survival game brought out a bit different players point of view. As many of other games offer roles of heroes and soldiers who do battle this game gives insight into the civilian life in war torn city. The theme and the game are meant for mature audiences. The most compelling sign to the craftsmanship of the game was acknowledgement by real life war and siege survivors on how authentic some parts actually are.

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The players play together to make sure the characters they all control on their respective turns survive the active scenario goal. The board of the game has two sides, one for a house shelter and one for a community building. The book of scripts that players read out of is filled with myriad of unique story scripts and characters.

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The artwork follows the theme in its dark and gritty design. Miniature pieces are well made. The game is designed to be played solo or up to six player together. It is fairly new game published 2017. Time of play can vary on how well the players handle difficulties set by the game from 45 minutes up to few hours. The people to play this game with should be chosen wisely since it is not light in play or theme and some parts might be too much for certain players to handle. There is also a video game counterpart of the same title.

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Forest of Fate

This last game I decided to highlight did not yet come out officially. While it was Kickstarter exclusive from last year the game should be arriving to the addresses of its backers very soon (March 2018). It is a somewhat smaller game in comparison to the others I mentioned. Also it puts a spin to storytelling games since its goal is for character players to get the chance to tell the story of their own great exploits. To do so they must come home.

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Game welcomes players who are new to role play games and veterans. It is made for two to six players and lasts up to one hour. What made my mouth water was the neat design of the storytelling book. And said book is slightly bigger than the game box for it is meant to fit the shelf nicely. I don’t have much on this game since I have not played it yet but from all I have seen so far I am very exited to try it out!

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Any boardgame lovers out there with suggestions of games I might have missed out on? Let me know!

Reading in progress February 2018

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It has been a while since I was reading this many books at the same time. Reading more books at the same time was something I used to do a lot more while I was working in a bookstore. The frequency of the books I had on hand and information on them was higher and I was like a bee buzzing around with my nose in few different books a day even. Sometimes it all got too much and I had clearing phases to finish out the books I had dragged on for few months at a time.

This time I am in the middle of reading of five different books. Here are the books I am reading at the moment:

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Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3) by E.L. James

I have been dragging this book out from the start of the year. It should be an easy read but I’m having trouble going trough it. I have passed 150 pages mark and hope it will go faster from now on…

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Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton

This book is my TBR Jar Draw for February. I picked it out since I miss reading about some of my favorite characters from Anita Blake universe. So far I have read first two stories out of fourteen in total. I like that each story has an introduction by author and I am making little notes for each story so I can post a short review on each.

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Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers book 3) by Lisa Kleypas

I have managed to push trough this book for my book club reading at the beginning of March. It has been four years since the group picked out a romance book to read and I did a lot of work for it to pass as a reading suggestion. I am currently reading it for the fourth time and enjoying it immensely. I am also looking out for some book club fun ideas to make the meeting memorable for everyone. I have a tough crowd to please and I’m pulling out all the weapons I know! Oh and while I was meaning to buy the whole series in English one day my boyfriend bought a translated copy for me yesterday! English set is still on my wishlist though.

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A Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics by Erich Fromm

I have actually made progress with this book recently and I’ve passed the third of the book. I’m dealing with an older translated edition and some footnotes are giving me trouble. Reading this book takes all my concentration and sometimes I go back and reread some paragraphs. I’m taking notes as well and then look for English versions and it is all time consuming…

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This book is another book club project and this one is due in a week and a half. I was looking for a translated copy of this book but have been unsuccessful for now. While I still have some options for obtaining a copy I will try to avoid reading it in digital form and before bedtime since it kinda scares me….

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Reading five books at the time is not even my personal best but I will try to keep things moving a bit more faster and finish all of these by the end of the shortest month of the year!

TBR Jar Draw February 2018

I finshed my TBR Jar Draw for January fairly quickly. It was not a novel nor a short story but an indie RPG book The Shab-al-Hiri Roach by Jason Morningstar. Years back I used to play RPGs like Vampire the Masquerade and Dungeons and Dragons a lot more than I do now. I made a short review on the book and you can find it HERE.

After I finished this book I decided not to rush into the next TBR Jar Draw until February started. The two draws I have not read are going back in the jar:

# The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3) by Rick Riordan

Dhampir (The Saga of the Noble Dead series #1) by Barb and J.C. Hendee

My three new TBR Jar draws are as follows:

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1# Sigvald (Warhammer Heroes #4) by Darius Hinks

I got interested in this book because of a board game I love playing Chaos in the Old World. It is part of a larger fantastical universe of Warhammer Fantasy. To really explain why I bought this book and I’m not interested in others from this series I would have to read and review it.

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2# Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton

This has been on my shelf so long that I am unsure have I read it or not. I’m pretty sure I have read at least one of the stories in it but never have I read it as a whole book. I follow the author Laurell K. Hamilton and love reading short stories in general.

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3# The Witch with no Name(The Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison

This is the thirteenth and the final book from The Hollows series. It is the only one I have not read. This series has been with me for more than a decade. I truly enjoy this urban fantasy series and have recently recommended it to a friend from my book club – and she loved it so much she went trough it on a span of few weeks. It would be good to finish a book series but it would also be a bittersweet experience since it is a series full of characters I love.

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All three options are good and inviting. I am a bit shamed for letting so many good books stay unread on my bookshelves. I’m having one of those moments where I’m glad to have started challenging myself to read more of the books from my bookshelves with TBR Jar Draw!

Monthly reading review – January 2018

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Monthly reading review – January 2018

This January I have read:

The Scoundrel Takes a Bride (Regency Rogues #5) by Stefanie Sloane ★★

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman ★★★

A Test of Mettle (The Iron Druid Chronicles #3.5) by Kevin Hearne ★★★★

A Prelude to War (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #7.5) by Kevin Hearne ★★★★

Three Slices by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig ★★★★

Taurus by Božica Dragaš ★★★

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach by Jason Morningstar ★★★

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1. How many books you’ve read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

In January I have read six books in total. I have decided leave the short story from one of them out of the count. I would like to read a bit more in general and get the number of books I read in a month closer to ten.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in January? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

I loved getting back to The Iron Druid Chronicles in the form of short stories and they were the highlight of my reading in January. The Shab-al-Hiri Roach has given me some food for thought in January as well.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

The historical romance The Scoundrel Takes a Bride did not impress me much. I guess I was not in the mood for romance books this January.

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4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

Only planned reading I did was finishing The Golden Compass from December and reading the Taurus book for my book club meeting at the start of February.  The rest of the books, excluding the TBR Jar Draw The Shab-al-Hiri Roach were not planned.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

Technically I tried out three new series: His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman, Blud short story by Delilah S. Dawson and Miriam Black short story by Chuck Wendig.

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6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

This January recommendation goes for Kevin Hearne and Iron Druid Chronicles. I enjoy the stories from the world of Iron Druid a lot and hope to continue reading the next book soon.

Final thoughts on January reading

I have posted three book reviews in January:

The Scoundrel Takes a Bride (Regency Rogues #5) by Stefanie Sloane ★★ – REVIEW

Three Slices by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig ★★★★ – REVIEW

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach by Jason Morningstar ★★★ – REVIEW

I am still reading A Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics by Erich Fromm and I am slowly trudging on with Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3) by E.L. James. I am having trouble with it and hope to finish it by the time the movie comes out.

I have yet to do the TBR Jar Draw for February and start on the other book for my book club reading in February which is Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

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