?

Log in

Suzi
14 January 2017 @ 11:53 am
AWESOME PACK #10

Awesome Pack is a monthly subscription box that delivers board games, card games, and other "awesome" entertainment.  I decided earlier this year to end my subscription - my game shelves are fully stocked, and I need to make time to play all the ones I have before acquiring more - so I believe this will be my last box.

One of the drawbacks of Awesome Pack is the box always arrives after the month it's meant to celebrate.  For example, the letter that accompanies this current box has Christmas ornaments decorating the border.  That holiday was several weeks ago, but the box only arrived yesterday morning.  It's a little detail, but I notice it.




OLYMPUS
3-5 players
In the Ancient Greece, the poleis (city-states) thrived increasing their population and culture, occasionally waging war against each other, erecting buildings and celebrating ceremonies to get the favour of the deities abiding on Mount Olympus. The players will lead one of these city-states (like Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, Argos and others) expanding it and worshipping the various gods in order to become the hegemonic power of the Peloponnesus!

This looks great!  I love Greek mythology and I love civilization-building games.  Strategy games are fun, and this looks like it'll be a real challenge.  I know Donna and Kenny will play, and with the connection to Ancient Greece I might even be able to get Jeans interested.




CHATTABOX
3+ players
This quick-witted word game is a riot of fun!  It's a helter-skelter race in which you must get rid of your cards by calling out answers to teasing topics.  Once the topic has been announced you'll have to think quickly, calling examples that start with the letters on your cards.

I think this is designed to be simple enough that kids can play, but when I see this I think it might be a great bar game.  It's exactly the sort of thing that you can play for as little or as long as you like, and it would get progressively sillier the more spirits imbibed.



NECA Scalers: Rocket Raccoon
Sigh.
Scalers are little decorative plastic figures that you attach to your earbuds or other cords.  They hang there and look cute, I guess.   At 2" tall, I would think that the figure is too big and heavy to wear comfortably on your headphones.  You'd have this golfball sized toy swinging around every time you turn your head, with little pointy edges - potential ouch, don't you think?



Mega Bloks Call of Duty Drone Attack Construction Set
I don't want little toys, but at least I am a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy so at least I can understand how Rocket Raccoon ended up in my box.  But Call of Duty?  Ick.
Don't want.

It is items like this Call of Duty set that soured Awesome Pack for me and contributed to the decision to cancel.  In every feedback survey, I told them "Games Only" and no pop culture-related items.  This information was not retained from one month to the next, and if I missed a feedback survey (or never even received one, which happened in December) suddenly little toys and pop culture items would be back in the box.  It got to be pretty frustrating because other aspects of the subscription were so good.


--
Curious to learn more about this awesome subscription box? Visit Awesome Pack's website for more details:
 
 
Suzi
11 January 2017 @ 11:44 am
My dad has a listserv that sends out old stories and letters that my grandfather wrote in the last several years of his life. It's always nice to get them and remember him. Of all my grandparents, he was the storyteller.

This morning, a little poem appeared in my inbox. It was written by my dad's mother. When my grandfather sent it out to the family he didn't give a date, so I don't know at what point in her life she wrote it, but I like it.


SPRING WIND
The wind blew out of the south,
Mussing my hair, caressing my cheek and
Temptingly whispering, Climb over the hills
And see what lies beyond.
I never went to see
But I always wished I had.
 
 
Suzi
06 January 2017 @ 05:58 pm
Throughout the holiday season, as my co-workers and friends caught colds, I'd be warned to take care of myself lest the same thing happen to me. After all, something nasty was going around and taking people out left and right.

"Eh," I'd say, "If I get sick I'll get a day off so, y'know, that's OK with me."

Fate was just waiting to pounce on me for that. She was merciful until the Christmas season was finished, but now I've been struck with a scratchy throat, stuffed up nose, and a total inability to concentrate.

It's not a bad cold (so far) and if I baby myself for the next few days it should resolve pretty quickly, but how inconvenient to get sick now, when Seanie's on the mend from his Christmas cold and we could finally get some work done around the house.

On the bright side, I got to curl up on the couch and watch Sunset Boulevard again. It is such a good movie. The acting, the writing, the way it's shot...just gorgeous.
Tags: ,
 
 
Suzi
05 January 2017 @ 10:01 am
The last few days have been damp and raining (although today is projected to be perfectly lovely) and this has sent the local ant population scurrying into our house. We haven't yet figured out their entry point, but they are crawling up into the kitchen cupboards and through them out to our counter tops. They are sneaking into the bathroom through indeterminate means and crawling all over the shower tiles.

Any ant infestation would be bad, but somehow it seems so much worse when they're in the two rooms you most want to keep clean and sterile.

They're driving Seanie nuts. Understandable. He's at home, working hard all day long because it's also the week of the Consumer Electronics Show, these little creepers keep appearing no matter how many times he cleans them up. It's not so bad for me since I'm out of the house, but I don't like coming home to little bugs either.

We've been avoiding poison because again, don't really want trace amounts of toxic material all over the kitchen counters, but at this point I'm not sure we have a choice. But this is a seasonal woe, and I think that no matter what we try it's just an irritation we have to face whenever the weather turns wet and cold.
Tags: , ,
 
 
Suzi
04 January 2017 @ 08:53 pm
It's amazing what a difference a few days can make!

Two weeks ago, the bookstore was slamming. A steady stream of people coming in looking for presents to give, preferably wrapped by us into neat little packages.

Last week, the kids out of school and bored with Christmas gifts, so parents brought them in to find a book or toy to distract them until school started up again. We also got a fair number of late Christmas shoppers and gift certificate redeemers.

This week, the combination of children going back to class and crummy weather has combined to an atmosphere of tranquil silence unseen in months. It's peaceful, and while at the back of my mind I know it's bad for the bills I embrace the calm while it lasts.

I've been able to take care of lots of little chores, things that nag at the edge of my mind during the busy days but just don't get finished. Today I spent a couple of hours updating the list of autographed books available on our website, a task I haven't been able to approach since summer. I've answered e-mails, cleaned out my inbox, and started organizing for the upcoming Winter Institute conference. It's been quite lovely.
 
 
Suzi
02 January 2017 @ 09:56 am


Spent a bit of yesterday afternoon hanging out with old friends. We don't see each other much anymore so it's always a treat to get together. Kero had her new baby June with her. Kitty had brought her younger daughter Aria while Kairi stayed home with Daddy. Cute kids, the lot of 'em.
 
 
 
Suzi
30 December 2016 @ 09:43 pm
My dear friend Sarah - we grew up together, so close that I often refer to her as "cousin" - recently got engaged. She's far far away in Maine right now for school, so I haven't seen her in a while, but I was super happy when I heard the news because her fiance is a lovely guy.

She sent me a Facebook message today with more information about the wedding. It'll be next summer, here in town. Then she asked me if I'd be one of her bridesmaids, which was really a shock. Not because we aren't still close, because we are, and we've known each other forever. (Literally since I was in second grade, I think...) But just because...well, I guess because I'm an old married lady, and old married ladies don't get to be bridesmaids, right?

But of course I said yes, because I would love to be in her wedding party, celebrating the big day. How awesome is it that my li'l cuz is getting married next year?



Kenny, me, and cousin Sarah way back in 2001
 
 
Suzi
23 December 2016 @ 08:13 am
When Seanie and I came home from Rogue One a couple of nights ago, our street was blocked off and filled with fire trucks and police cars. It was too dark to see anything clearly, but we spotted white foam on the ground in front of the house next to us. The smell of smoke was in the air, but it was a strange, chemical odor, not the comparatively pleasant scent of wood smoke. We arrived at the tail end of the excitement, as the emergency vehicles were starting to pull away by the time we parked a block away (as close as we could get to our house) and walked home.

I've walked to the end of the block a couple of times, coming to and from work, and I think it was the house two down from us on the left. There are boards across the roof, and when you walk past that house the windows are blocked up and the smoke smell still lingers. I can't tell how bad the damage was, though. Was it some electrical short that sparked on the roof, or is there extensive internal damage hidden behind the walls? We don't know our neighbors so there isn't really anyone to ask without being intrusive, but I hope everyone is OK, and that whatever burned is replaceable.
 
 
Suzi
22 December 2016 @ 10:29 pm
Today I had a lady walk in the door and ask if we sold wrapping paper. I said no, but we offer complimentary gift wrap on items purchased from us. She said she didn't want anything, than asked if we would sell her some of our paper because "she didn't want to wait in line at a real store."

Needless to say, she didn't get any wrapping paper.
 
 
Suzi
18 December 2016 @ 10:33 pm

In honor of Ugly Sweater Day (who knew it was a holiday worth mentioning?) Starbucks created a special drink: the Fruitcake Frappuccino.  It's only available this weekend.

Fruitcake itself may date back to Roman times, but our Fruitcake Frappuccino® is a recipe that's fresh and new. We start with a rich, Hazelnut Frappuccino® base, blend it with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk and ice, then finish it with whipped cream, caramel dots and a matcha sprinkle for an updated take on a holiday tradition.

Of course, I had to try it.  I had no idea what to expect, but slap the words "special edition" on a food item and I won't be able to walk away.  When I went in to order the drink, the Starbucks baristas had no idea how to make it.  I could hear them asking each other what ingredients were needed.  In fact, at one point I even heard an employee hiss to her co-worker "DF?  What the heck is DF?  I've never seen that before!"

Eventually someone located the recipe and successfully made the drink.  The Fruitcake Frappuccino is delicious! Sweet and nutty with a lot of bits of fruit mixed in.  Raisins and cranberries, I think, but once they're blended into beverage it's pretty hard to tell.  It was a little hard to drink because the bits of fruit would clog the bottom of the straw, but if they'd had fat straws like the ones used in boba drinks it wouldn't have been a problem.  It was refreshing and pleasantly lighter than anything named "fruitcake" should be.  I'd order it again if it shows up on the menu next year for another Ugly Sweater Day.
 
 
Suzi
15 December 2016 @ 08:03 pm
AWESOME PACK #9

It's a Christmas Awesome Pack!

Well, it's not explicitly Christmas, but since it's December it's hard not to associate the box with the holiday.  Will this box be naughty or nice?  Time to open it up and see...




ANDROID: MAINFRAME
2-4 PLAYERS
Run fast, score big! Android: Mainframe is a fast-paced strategy game set in the not-too-distant future of the Android universe!
In the game, you and up to three opponents are elite cybercriminals known as runners who are competing for control of a vulnerable bank's various accounts. At the beginning of the game, you mark your arrival by the placement of your first access point. Then, each turn, you get to take a single action: establish another access point, execute a program, or pass. Your goal is to use the programs at your disposal to secure your access points so that they control as many of Titan's vulnerable accounts as possible.

This looks interesting.  I love strategy games, and this doesn't sound quite like any other that I've played before.  I'll have to play-test it with Seanie soon, since it's a two-player game.




THE STRUGGLE FOR CATAN CARD GAME
2-4 PLAYERS
The Struggle for Catan is a fast-paced game between the 2-4 factions developing newly settled Catan. Manage your resources to build settlements, cities, city improvements, knights, and roads that generate victory points or special abilities. While your settlements, cities, and city expansions remain yours, valuable roads and knights change hands. Varied expensive city improvements give you additional victory points and lasting advantages, so they're generally key to victory. As in The Settlers of Catan board game, you win by being the first to acquire and play 10 victory points.

I love Settlers of Catan!  I can't remember if I played this card game before, but it's a great idea.  Taking a great board game and translating it into a smaller, more portable version is definitely a winning idea.  Next time Seanie and I go somewhere on a plane, I'm taking this with us so we can play it while we're in the air.




LET'S PLAY IT-DAH-GAN
3-6 PLAYERS
From the Manufacturer:  Pronounced (it-again) is a great trumping card game where you have to play under to stay on the top.

I'm not so excited about this one, although it is another game.  It-Dah-Gan seems...childish, for lack of a better descriptor.  You have cards printed with words like "DAH-Top" "DAH-Bottom" "in-DAH-pitz" etc, and you discard them as fast s possible to become the first person with less than fifty points.  Other players trip you up with the cards they throw down, forcing you to take more cards.  It's got fast game play and it seems pretty basic, but it doesn't seem challenging. We'll see, though.  I haven't actually played it yet.

No weird accessories in this box like Hulk cards or Adventure Time dog tags - hooray!  I might have to take a break from this subscription box, though.  I enjoy it every month, but I've got plenty of games now.  I should give myself and my family a chance to play them all before getting more.

--
Curious to learn more about this awesome subscription box? Visit Awesome Pack's website for more details:
 
 
Suzi
07 December 2016 @ 09:42 pm
Powell's Indiespensable Book Club
Volume 63: Moonglow

Since 2008, Powell's Books of Portland, OR has run a book club/subscription service that sends a new, autographed hardcover book in a custom slipcase to its subscribers. Each mailing is accompanied with notes on the selected book and a surprise selection of extra items.




MOONGLOW by Michael Chabon
Following on the heels of his New York Times bestselling novel Telegraph Avenue, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon delivers another literary masterpiece: a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure—and the forces that work to destroy us.
In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of keeping secrets and telling lies. It is a portrait of the difficult but passionate love between the narrator’s grandfather and his grandmother, an enigmatic woman broken by her experience growing up in war-torn France. It is also a tour de force of speculative autobiography in which Chabon devises and reveals a secret history of his own imagination.
From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York’s Wallkill prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of the “American Century,” the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most moving and inventive.

I have read Michael Chabon before, and I was not a fan.  HOWEVER - the book I read was The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which I have been told is a lesser Chabon, and more importantly the fact that I don't care for the mystery/noir genre soured my experience.  My husband really liked Kavalier and Clay, but since Moonglow has been sent to me that will be my next foray into Chabonland.

This copy of Moonglow has a custom slipcase, as all Indiespensable titles do, and a chapbook containing an interview with the author.




NIGHT OF FIRE by Colin Thubron
Award-winning, bestselling novelist and travel writer Colin Thubron returns to fiction with his first novel in more than a decade, a searing, poetic masterwork of memory.
A house is burning, threatening the existence of its six tenants—including a failed priest; a naturalist; a neurosurgeon; an invalid dreaming of his anxious boyhood; and their landlord, whose relationship to the tenants is both intimate and shadowy. At times, he shares their preoccupations and memories. He will also share their fate.
In Night of Fire, the passions and obsessions in a dying house loom and shift, from those of the hallucinating drug addict in the basement to the landlord training his rooftop telescope on the night skies. As the novel progresses, the tenants’ diverse stories take us through an African refugee camp, Greek Orthodox monasteries, and the cremation grounds of India. Haunting the edges of their lives are memories. Will these remembrances be consumed forever by the flames? Or can they survive in some form?
Night of Fire is Colin Thubron’s fictive masterpiece: a novel of exquisite beauty, philosophical depth, and lingering mystery that is a brilliant meditation on life itself.

An ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) came in the box, a novel called Night of Fire that will be released in January 2017.  Reading through the plot description, the book doesn't sound like one that I'd pick out from a shelf.  I may read it, but it is far more likely that I will take it to work and put it on the ARC shelf in hopes that one of the other employees will find it intriguing.

TREEHOUSE CHOCOLATE CO. DRINKING CHOCOLATE
There are three packs of hot chocolate, one each in ORIGINAL (Dark Chocolate), SPICED (Cinnamon & Aji Chili), and SEA SALT (Smoked Sea Salt).  The instructions say "Just add water!"  I love hot chocolate in wintertime,but I'm too lazy to fuss with melting down chocolate to get the really good stuff, so if this proves to be a rich, high-quality instant packet then Treehouse will find a lifelong customer.

--

Powell's Indiespensable subscription costs $39.95 per box. To learn more about it, visit the Indiespensable page at Powell's Books.
 
 
Suzi
25 November 2016 @ 10:27 pm
On Wednesday, the card we'd been waiting for so desperately arrived. Seanie installed it in computer Prime, and...nothing happened.

Everything was still broken. Registers still down. Nothing was fixed.

I wanted to cry.

Instead, Seanie got on the phone with IBID, and they arranged to send two more replacement cards to us so we could see if we'd just gotten a bum part. In the meantime, he moved Prime out of the backroom and into the front of the store so that we could have one functional register/inventory system.

It took most of the morning, but he made it work, much to the relief of the bosses and my co-workers.

Since the only working IBID computer was now at the front of the store, our stock receiver was unable to process the invoices of the books we'd received. Fearing the backlog that we were rapidly building, one of the owners arranged to come in on Thanksgiving Day with the receiver so that they could use the computer while the store was closed.

Thankfully, I was nowhere near the store that day.

When we came in Friday morning, the replacement cards from IBID had arrived. Seanie went to work installing one...and still the problem remained. I was a bit panicked. I had to open the store in a few minutes and it was Black Friday, one of the worst days to have a system failure!

Seanie continued to fuss with the computers, and after talking with IBID figured out that somehow - and I admit upfront that this makes NO FREAKIN' SENSE - when one of our employees switched out a broken keyboard on Prime for one that worked, it somehow killed the computer's ability to connect to the others. WE HAVE NO IDEA WHY. There's no logical reason why virtually identical keyboards would impact performance. But this was the problem.

Once Seanie restored the broken keyboard, the system began to come back online. He had to manually check the port settings, and tinker with each machine, and he never managed to get all of our computers working. But by the end of the day we had functioning registers and we could start to function normally.

All of this tinkering was possible because Black Friday was slow. No, "slow" isn't quite the right word. There was a steady flow of people and we sold plenty of books. But it was never a manic, crazy, line-out-the-door sort of day. We were busy, but not to the point of frenzy. It wasn't good, because like most retailers we are dependent on Black Friday sales to help make our end-of-year numbers, but thankfully the slower pace allowed us to make the computer repairs we so desperately needed before the holidays.

Seanie and I will come back on Sunday or Monday to continue working with the computers to try and get all of them up and running. It's not a permanent solution. The machines are still aging and need to be replaced. But if we can keep this system running for a few more months, we can limp through the holiday season and give the issue our full attention in the new year.
 
 
Suzi
24 November 2016 @ 11:09 pm


Happy Thanksgiving!!!
(poor Seanie didn't make it into the picture since he was the photographer)

This year marks the first time that I can recall our family celebrating Thanksgiving on the actual Thursday instead of the Sunday before.  The last few years, the Buckleys have always claimed the day, but we decided to switch it up this year due to my mom's travel schedule.
Mom made a turkey, as tradition dictates, and it turned out nice and moist.  Instead of stuffing she made chow mein, which is normal for us but to others it's weird, although not nearly as strange as the Jell-O "eyeball" salad made by the Jung side of the family each year. Donna brought potatoes, Jeans mixed up cranberry punch, and Seanie made cheesecake from his mother's recipe for dessert.  It was an exceptionally good feed.
 
 
Suzi
23 November 2016 @ 10:33 pm

One week ago today, Kero gave birth to baby June.  Seanie and I went to visit the new family today.  June is a tiny little thing, about the size of a loaf of bread, and she spent nearly the entire visit sleeping.  Seanie carried her around for a good chunk of time, disappearing with the baby and her father to talk about video games and new tech upstairs.  Kero and I stayed downstairs as she described the birth, breastfeeding challenges, and other new mom stuff.  Since I really have nothing to say about new mom stuff, I mostly smiled and nodded and filed information away for potential future use.

But hey!  Cute baby.  Welcome to the world, June.
 
 
Suzi
The part we ordered, the magical little card that will hopefully fix our inventory and register system, did not arrive today. According to the vendor, they tested the part before shipping it yesterday, and realized it was defective, so they had to source the card from a different warehouse and as a result, it wasn't actually mailed until this morning.

Seanie suspects that they just forgot to mail the card yesterday and made a lie to cover their asses, but at this point I don't care so long as the part gets here in time to get the computers running before this weekend.

The Prime computer is still running the IBID software. We have three-five people in the store who normally access IBID throughout the day, so there's always someone who needs Prime to access inventory to search for books, update a consignment, or tap into our vendor records. This runs afoul of my boss' desire that we use Prime as a register because "the customer always come first", but we can't freeze the rest of our operations for cashiers every couple of minutes.

So in the meantime we've got one of our bookfair registers at the front of the store so our cashiers can still check customers out, but we have to manually record everything we sell on a piece of paper and it makes every transaction super-duper slow. Yesterday I was able to use the store's tablet as a register, thanks to our Square app, but today the tablet died and is refusing to charge, even when I brought it home and tried a different charging station. Just great. The tablet doesn't even have the excuse that it's old - we just got it over the summer so it's practically brand-new. Everything at the bookstore is just falling apart.

So I apologize if I'm a little snippy in person, but it's a rather stressful situation to be in right now.
 
 
Suzi
Today was supposed to be relatively easy. I would wake up early, go to church, go to work in the late afternoon to put up Christmas decorations.

It didn't quite work out that way.

First, I slept like a champion, right past the start of the Sunday service at Church of the Chimes. Oops.

When I finally woke up, it was to bad news: the computers at the bookstore weren't working, and restarting the computers (the only form of tech support my coworkers can do) had not fixed the problem. I showered, grabbed Seanie, and together we hurried off to work. Once we arrived, we established more details about the problem. IBID, the program we use for inventory management and our register system, had stopped functioning on any of its six terminals. This meant we couldn't search for books in the database, enter special orders, or ring books through the register. The most tech-savvy of our Sunday crew had been on the phone with Kate, IBID's tech support, for nearly an hour trying to diagnose the problem. Her conclusions were dire: we had to reinstall the entire system from floppy disks (remember floppy disks?) and hope we wouldn't lose our entire database.

Seanie said that couldn't be right, and took over the phone. After speaking with tech support and getting down and disassembling part of the computer, he and Kate came to a new diagnosis. My explanation of it won't be very good, but this is my basic understanding of the situation. The IBID program is installed on one computer, which I'll call Prime, and then the rest of the computers are terminals that remotely access IBID on Prime. The communication card that allows Prime to connect with the other computers has failed due to old age, and must be replaced. When Seanie uninstalled the communication card, it allowed Prime to once again access IBID, so we can get into our database, but it can't be accessed remotely, so the registers, ordering desk, etc. are still down.

The problem? Locating a replacement communication card, which haven't been manufactured in well over a decade.
The good news? We found one.
The bad news? It's $200 and on the East Coast.

But, needs must. We ordered the card and hope it arrives by Tuesday - and that when it is installed, the problem will in fact be fixed. Kate was about 85% sure the card was source of our issues, but it's entirely possible that it's not the only thing failing in that old computer.

The one silver lining is that after ordering, we noticed the company that sells old bits of tech is located in Fremont, so there's a chance we can pick the card up tomorrow. Seanie will call as soon as they open on Monday to find out.

All this took several hours. In the meantime, I had to teach staff how to use our tablet (normally reserved for off-site events) as a Square register and since this is slower than our usual process, I also acted as a backup cashier. Thankfully, on Sunday we are normally only opened for a half-day. No time to rest, though. After all that we still had to decorate the store for Christmas.

After the stress of the last few hours, I wanted to go straight home. But all of the Sunday crew was staying to help, so how could I not? Anyway, it's still fun to pull down the evergreen garlands from storage and string them up with lights and hang them all around the store. Seanie and David, two six-foot-something strapping young men, were able to hang the wall garlands in record time while I draped boughs over the bookcases. Other people set out the Christmas books and rearranged displays for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. It all went much faster than I expected.

Since we finished so early, Seanie and I decided to reward ourselves with a treat: seeing the new Harry Potter movie. David decided to join us, even though he'd already seen the film on opening day, and the three of us were lucky enough to enjoy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in a relatively quiet and uncrowded theater. I'll write about it more later, but I think it's easily the best movie in the franchise.
 
 
Suzi
AWESOME PACK #8

Awesome Pack is a monthly subscription box that delivers board games, card games, and other "awesome" entertainment.  The last couple of boxes have failed to wow me, so I was seriously considering ending my subscription if this box didn't thrill me.  Despite a mis-step or two, Awesome Pack definitely improved this month.




CODENAMES: PICTURES
2-8 PLAYERS
What are these strange symbols on the map? They are code for locations where spies must contact secret agents!
Two rival spymasters know the agent in each location. They deliver coded messages telling their field operatives where to go for clandestine meetings. Operatives must be clever. A decoding mistake could lead to an unpleasant encounter with an enemy agent – or worse, with the assassin! Both teams race to contact all their agents, but only one team can win.
Codenames: Pictures differs from the original Codenames in that the agents are no longer represented by a single word, but by an image that contains multiple elements.
Game's retail price: $19.95

I am thrilled that this game was in the box.  The original CODENAMES was in an earlier Awesome Pack, and it has proven very popular at Donna's gaming parties.  This sounds like a fun spin on the concept that could prove very challenging and lead to hilarious results.




3 WISHES
3-5 PLAYERS
A not-so-nice-but-not-too-evil genie appears as if from nowhere (someone, somewhere probably did rub a lamp) and pitches the crowd against one another, granting the most astute player no fewer than three wishes — but not all wishes come true, and only the player with the right balance between super powers, benefits for the world, and selfish gifts will be enter the good graces of the genie.
Game's retail price: $7-$10 (guessing)

This one looks fun for a fast, silly game.  It's easy to learn, according to the box, so maybe I'll be able to play it with my nephews in another year or two.  Each game only lasts 3-5 minutes, according to the box, so this might be a good one to keep around for when you're waiting around somewhere, for a restaurant reservation or in a movie line, and just need to kill a few minutes.




THE WORLD'S SMALLEST JIGSAW PUZZLE: TIMES SQUARE
This puzzle has the smallest pieces ever to be die-cut!  Features 234 pieces and tweezers. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Puzzle's retail price: $5-$10 (guessing)

I do like puzzles!  This is a weird one.  It's a tiny, postcard-sized puzzle, made up of pieces that are so itty bitty they must be handled with tweezers.  It won't be the most challenging puzzle (except the challenge of not losing the pieces, I guess) but it'll be a fun novelty to play with.




HULK TRADING CARDS
Someone must have been cleaning out a warehouse and stumbled across a box of these, because this is an item that I'm sure NOBODY wants.  It's not awesome.  It's lame.  Really, really lame.
I'll just go ahead and save this for the next time I need a White Elephant gift.  It can be someone else's disappointment.

--

Curious to learn more about this awesome subscription box? Visit Awesome Pack's website for more details:
 
 
Suzi
12 November 2016 @ 09:07 am
It's the little things in life that bring me joy, like lowering the unread e-mails in my work inbox little by little every day. I hope to get down to the single digit range by Thanksgiving.
 
 
Suzi
02 November 2016 @ 09:17 am
Powell's Indiespensable Book Club
Volume 62: The Mothers

Since 2008, Powell's Books of Portland, OR has run a book club/subscription service that sends a new, autographed hardcover book in a custom slipcase to its subscribers. Each mailing is accompanied with notes on the selected book and a surprise selection of extra items.




THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett
Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett's mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.
"All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season."
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.
In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a "what if" can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

There was so much buzz about this book at BEA!  I didn't have a chance to pick up one of the galleys, or one of the beautiful canvas tote bags with the cover art screenprinted on one side, but the strong graphic style kept the book lodged in my memory.  I know you shouldn't judge books by the cover, but let's face it - sometimes that's what will linger.  I've read some excellent reviews of The Mothers and I've wanted to read it, so I'm happy this was an Indiespensable choice.




THEO Organic Fair Trade Orange Dark Chocolate
THEO Organic Fair Trade Cherry Almond Dark Chocolate

This is exciting!  I was at a trade show recently and one of the vendors was carrying Theo Chocolate, so I had the opportunity to try several of their holiday bars.  The chocolate was sooooo good!  I can't wait to eat these.  Chocolate orange is definitely my preference between the two bars, but either one should be delicious.

I'm so glad Powell's threw some candy in this box.  I love snacking while I read, and it's been a while since they sent anything for me to nibble with my book.

--
Powell's Indiespensable subscription costs $39.95 per box. To learn more about it, visit the Indiespensable page at Powell's Books.