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Board Game Review: Trajan by Stefan Feld

Name of the Game: Trajan
Designed by: Stefan Feld (insert my husband's fanboy screams here)
Published by: Ammonit Spiele
Players: 2-4
Time: 30-45 mins per player
Objective: Get power and score points.

So here we are. You're a roman (trying to impress the real Trajan, I spose) who's looking for power.
So let's get some!

As you can see, the board sets up nicely on our average kitchen table. Plenty of room for everything with space to spare. If we had to, we could squeeze 2 more peeps as well. 

Basically, you have 5 different ways to score points and you use your own rondel to select the actions you want. You can chain actions by getting Trajan tiles which allow you to get extra actions or a bonus tile when you match the colors in  your bowl to the colors on the tile. Believe me, it's a lot easier than it sounds.

As previously mentioned, I LOVE having my own player board. A LOT. Maybe I have ocd or something, or maybe I just like feeling in control of my pieces and it helps me focus. Regardless, I dig it.

The five ways to score points are also on the player board. 
1. Commodity Cards (also known as the Ship Yard) marked as the little sailing ship on the rondel. This allows you to draw cards or ship goods using an action on the main game board. You draw cards to make matches to score points, or to score points with bonus tiles in the end.
2. Military. Move your Leader (the big meeple) to different territories to get tiles to do things. Later, you can move your legionairres (the little meeples) to score the points printed on the board. This is the method I went with for our first game.
3. Trajan tiles. You place the tile under your arch on the rondel. When you match your colored bits with the color in the rondel and end your turn on that rondel, you get whatever's printed on the tile. That may be extra military dudes, a shipping action, straight points homie, or several other bonuses you will be interested in. Regardless, you always score at least a couple points for completing these so they are worth your time.
4. Senate Track. These are always points, which ain't nothin' to scoff at. But as an extra bonus, whoever controls the senate at the end of the turn (aka whoever has the most senate points) decides who gets which bonus tile. You can really set yourself up for sweet bonus points in the end. Or thwart your opponent from such bonus opportunities.
5. Construction. Move your meeples to the construction area, then to the construction site. Your first tile grants you a bonus action, and after that you get points. These tiles chain up at the end for bonus point scoring too. This is the route Andrew went. 

Here's a peek at the game about halfway through. You can see my legionnaire dudes up top, doing things. Andrew's guys are mostly in construction over to the right. Shipping is to the left. Senate track is on the bottom leading up to those two golden bonus scoring tiles. The artwork is kinda cool, no? 

Anyway, in addition to scoring points and getting power, you do have to meet demands of the people to keep them happy or whatever. Three randomly drawn resource tiles get drawn, once per turn (which is denoted by how many pieces move on the rondels collectively) and after 3 are drawn and you finish the last turn, it's time to pay up. You want to fill the needs of the people otherwise you lose points. That mechanic always and forever stresses me OUT. But I didn't find it to be crippling in this game, as it can be in other games ::cough:: Agricola ::cough::.

Here's my player board about halfway through the game. You can see I've done shipping a few times and I've gotten two bonus tiles on the golden side, which  means I was in control of the senate twice. I have a couple resources up top to fulfill needs as they come up. You can also see that my colored bits aren't evenly distributed, which means I've been moving them along the rondel to get stuff done. You move the colored bits in a mancala style, which is SO COOL. Also, I'm woefully out of Trajan tiles, so you can't see any of those. I'm sorry.

So while you score throughout the game, there is some significant end game scoring as well. You get a point for any unused shipping cards in your hand, all of your legionnaires on the board (in the military region), incomplete Trajan tiles on your rondel, matching construction tiles, and any points from bonus tiles.

While I was able to meet the demands at the end of the game, I wasn't able to do a whole lot else. I really stalled out with my military method which hurt me. As you can see from the big board picture above, I did win the next time we played by balancing shipping with construction and Trajan tiles. 

Things I liked: 
- My own player board!
- Lots of ways to score! You don't feel locked into a certain strategy. Just be careful not to spread yourself too thin or you don't get a good score engine going. I speak from experience.
- Fits on our table! This is a big deal for us. I hate lugging out our big gaming table. I mean, I'll DO IT. I just don't like to. 
- Turns are straight forward, despite lots of options. There's always potential for analysis paralysis in these types of games. However, I like having enough options that I never feel a turn is wasted. I'll take it.
- The mancala/rondel element is SO COOL and unlike any other game I've played. It's so tricky yet balanced and creative. Love it a lot.

This game errs on the medium side (versus a light game like Fleet), but it was so much fun and there's so much going on that I can guarantee this will be one that Andrew and I play lots and lots of times. I recommend it for the game player who's familiar with at least a couple worker placement games so you're not totally overwhelmed by all of the things.

In My Mailbox [47] / Stacking the Shelves [3]

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This week you'll see I have a nice blend of fiction and non-fiction for MAYBE the first time ever. You can thank Nubby for that. :)

Pregnancy books! I got them from the library! 

Recommended to me from my coworker and friend and mom, Jaime.
It's like all the advice you're looking for, but are afraid to ask. HOLLA.

Recommended to me from my cousin and mother of two, Candice.
I like the idea of a guide for after baby is here. Because let's be real, I have NO CLUE. But will be finding out! :)

Andrew wants to make our own baby food. I'm really on board with that idea. 

This was one of the top selling baby related books, so I thought I'd give it a whirl!
I also like that it bridges pregnancy to the baby.

Books from the lovely Heidi at YA Bibliophile!
Seriously, she rules.

Um yeah, the co-creator of Twin Peaks wrote a YA book and I am ALL ABOUT that.
Also prep school meets supernatural elements and a male main character.
Yes. All to all of it.

There's been a lot of buzz about this book, so I'm sure you already know it's about weaving time - literally. It sounds really neat!

Shadow Society! An alternate universe! Dark secrets! Yay!

That's it for me this week!
BUT I would love to know if you've read any of these and what you thought.

Also if you have any baby/preggo books to recommend, that'd be great too! 

AND in case you missed it from the blog this week:
I gave thanks for some really amazing authors.
I reviewed Gone Girl. Kinda.
I nerded out. A couple times. About GOT of course.

Happy reading, y'all! 

nerd lols

 - Image 1

Jk but not jk because really...it's gonna be a long time. 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Between being thankful for a baby this spring and 3 football games* IN A ROW today,
I'm pretty much

I hope you have the greatest Thanksgiving ever!

*Texans, Redskins, Patriots will win. THEY WILL.

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Release Date: May 2012

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Blog

In a sentence or so: A wife goes missing and the husband is the main suspect.

Part One: We begin the story with Amy's disappearance, alternating between her husband Nick's internal monologue and Amy's diary leading up to the day of the incident. It becomes clear that their ideas of what their 5 year marriage is like is vastly different. But why?

Part Two and Three cannot even be discussed as they would be riddled with spoilers.

Basically, this is the face I made the whole time:

Because you think you know what might be going on, but you don't.
You think you might have an idea of whodunnit, but you don't.
You think you  might have an idea of how it's going to end, but YOU DO NOT.

This book was the biggest mind trip I've read probably ever. It was surprising and exciting and crazypants and absolutely unputdownable.

If you're looking for something that's dark, mysterious, creepy, edgy, and incredibly well written - read this one! Just be warned, you'll be OMGWTFing for many days after you're done.

Fave Quote: "That was the fifth lie I told the police." - Nick

Pairs Well With: Someone who has read this book because you will NEED to talk about it. Thank goodness for Carrie and my coworker Jaime for being my person! 

Fix Er Up: I know lots of peeps were miffed about the ending, but honestly I thought the way she wrapped it up was totally fitting...if a bit insane.

Top Ten Tuesday [3]: Authors I'm Thankful For

This week's topical Top Ten Tuesday is: Authors I'm Thankful For.
(Okay, I'm only doing 5 but they are REALLY GOOD ONES.)

Thank you, Patrick Ness
For making me fall in love with Todd Hewitt.
For making me think about the impact of our actions.
For making me think of the impact of our inaction.

Thank you, Gillian Flynn
For writing a book that made me OMGWTF.
For writing a book that was incredible and infuriating at the same time.
For making me feel like a wonderful person because I was NOT in your book.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling
For writing one of the most magical series of all time.
For showing me that redheads are totally crushworthy.
For weaving a children's, YA, and adult story perfectly.

Thank you, John Green
For writing books that make me laugh like an idiot.
For reminding the world that nerds are really cool.
For always making the best best friend characters ever.

Thank you, George R. R. Martin
For the most incredible epic fantasy I've ever read, ever.
For redeeming characters I thought were totally nonredeemable.
For at letting the people I love exist at all before you kill them. 

And finally, thank you to ALL of the authors who:
Write about character growth.
Write about characters who aren't typical.
Who remind us that what we read can shape who we are.
Who are brave enough to share their story with the world.

Dear Teen Me Blog Tour: Meet EKA!

How many times have you looked back on your teenage years and cringed, wishing you could offer your younger self some guidance? This book of nearly 70 letters by top young adult authors—including bestselling writers Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder—does just that, and today’s teens will benefit. (official Zest Books blurb)

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves is a book edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson. Zest Books. This is a compilation of advice, stories, and encouragement from authors to their teen selves.

You may have seen other posts about the Deer Teen Me book floating around the blogosphere. If you’ve missed the posts thus far, I highly recommend checking out the full tour. It’s really quite impressive!

My special assignment on the Dear Teen Me blog tour was to interview one of the editors: E Kristin Anderson. I KNOW. Be jealous. But not too jealous because you get to read the interview and learn more about one of the lovely ladies that helped make this compilation possible!

1. Let's get to know YOU. You get invited to a sleepover with your best besties. They tell you to bring something fun! What do you bring?
I always end up on food duty.  So as long as someone else is already in charge of bringing The Breakfast Club and Mean Girls, I'm probably going to be bringing some kind of cupcakes.  One of my favorite recipes I've ever made were rootbeer float cupcakes, which are made in ice cream cones, with rootbeer-vanilla-flavoried cake, iced with buttercream frosting and garnished with chocolate ganache and marachino cherries.   Mmmmm.
2. Okay okay, to business. It's clear that you're very passionate about the Dear Teen Me anthology and spreading the word. What is it about this book that means so much to you and why should we read it?
I think that no matter when you grew up, there is a universal feeling of loneliness in the teen years.  And grown ups are so good at blocking that out.  They tell you to get over it, to enjoy your teen years while you can, that THE WORST DAY EVER is no big deal.  The authors in DEAR TEEN ME freaking get it.  We remember being teens.  We remember that it's real and it hurts and it's intense and it's dramatic and sometimes, yeah, it's really really funny.  I think people should read this book because a) it's so very very cuddleable and b) it will make you feel less alone.
3. The idea of Dear Teen Me is that authors are writing letters to their teenage self (which is AWESOME, btw) and giving insight or advice or encouragement or just a bit of humor. Is there any advice you can give that you think applies to all teenagers everywhere?
Embrace your inner weirdo.  Seriously.  Everyone has one.  Some of us are better at hiding it than others.  (That cheerleader with the perfect hair?  She secretly has a crush on a cartoon character.  The superjock?  Wishes he had the guts to do theatre.   Homecoming queen?  Wants to chop her hair into a mohawk.)  But you know what?  Being a weirdo is way more awesome than faking it.  Faking it only gets you so far.  And it's way more comfortable to celebrate your weirdness than it is to try and cover it up.  It took me a while to figure it out myself, but when I did, man, it was a very special kind of bliss.
4. More about who YOU are. I checked out your blog and I want to know the truth. Do you still rock out to Hanson? If so, how often? No shame here! I still bump the NSync so do not think judgment is happening.
Dude.  DUDE.  I listen to Hanson all the time.  ALL THE TIME.  And I go see them whenever they're in town and I sing along to all the songs.  Once a Hansonite, always a Hansonite!

5. Because honestly, we are here to nerd about books. What is your favorite book of all time and why do you love it so?
HARDEST QUESTION EVER!  Okay.  I'm going to go with HIGH FIDELITY today.  Which is a grown up book.  I know.  I mostly read YA but occasionally a grown up book captures me.  And HIGH FIDELITY by Nick Hornby is one of the books that inspired me to be a novelist.  His character, Rob, reminds me of me if I were a thirty-something grumpy man who owned a record store (okay, full disclosure, I'm weeks shy of being thirty by the time this post goes live, and I did used to work in a record store, but bear with me here).  What I love about HIGH FIDELITY is not only the brilliant writing and the fantastic voice, but the universality of human screw-ups.  We're all just giant balls of WTF.  And if we can just figure out how to be nut-jobs together, in a productive way, well, we're on to something then, aren't we?  Plus, I love all of Rob's Top 5 lists, and his total music snob ways, and...you know, I could gush about this book forever.  Just read it, ok?

How cool is she?! Just imagine if she is one of the masterminds behind this project, how incredible must the book truly be!

If you’re interested in getting to know EKA even more, be sure to check her out on Twitter or on Facebook.

Having read it and adored Dear Teen Me, I can assure you it’s one that you’ll want to read – whether you’re a current teenager, a not so young adult, or an adult who has a teen in their life. It’s hilarious and sweet and just so spot on. Read it. You won’t regret it!

Thanks to Zest Books, EKA and Miranda Kenneally for inviting me to be a part of this amazing tour!

Review: The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb

Title: The Face Thief
Author: Eli Gottlieb
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 2012
Source: Amazon Vine Reviewer

Goodreads | Amazon | Author Blog 

In a sentence or so: Three men are drawn to Margo, a master manipulator, but which one of them is responsible for her accident? If any?

Margo comes from humble beginnings and quickly decides the fastest way to get ahead in life is to manipulate, lie, and seduce her way up.

Potash is newly married to the wealthy Californian woman of his dreams - only to have a sexy scam artist swindle away his new fortune, leaving him completely and secretly broke.

Lawrence is a master of facial expressions. He teaches others how to identify defining characteristics and muscle movements to read every emotion and thought. Little does he know his star pupil will turn everything he thought he knew on its head and leave him spinning.

We open with Margo's 'accidental' falling down some stairs. She doesn't know what happened, and neither do we. Through alternating narrators, we begin to discover there are two potential pushers. The man she swindled all the money from, or the man who's marriage is ruined by her trying to have an affair with him as her teacher.

While I would say this is a suspenseful book, I wouldn't qualify it as a thriller. There is a pensive, patient pace that takes time to explore each of the characters and their motivations, back stories, and helps us discover who they are beyond this one mystery that ties them together.

Initially, I heard about this book in Entertainment Weekly or something. When I saw it was on Amazon Vine, I thought why not? It's so different from what I usually read - which is YA fantasy and sci-fi stuff with some YA contemps thrown in for balance.

Ultimately, I found the character development and depth of writing and plot compelling and had a hard time putting this book down.

Fix er up: There were a couple points, particularly near the end, that didn't quite add up. I chalked it up to the copy I read being an ARC.

Pairs well with: A glass of wine for your pensive adult thoughts.

Fave quote: The writing was beautiful and thoughtful, but my favorite quote isn't actually a quote but rather the resolution. I loved how 2 out of 3 of the main characters stories concluded.

[FTC Notice: I was not compensated for this review.]

Top Ten Tuesday [2]: Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those foxy bloggers at The Broke and The Bookish.

This week is a freebie! So I peeped the old topics and I found one I kinda really loved.

Top Ten Books I can't believe I HAVEN'T READ YET.

These are my confessions.

Get it? Good.

1. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I KNOW YOU GUYS. But I just started it last month so I'm like 15 pages in. OKAY? Don't hate. Encourage.

2. Blood & Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. This book is like a novella compared to what I've been reading lately. I could knock out this werewolf classic in NO TIME.

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Yeah, I know. It's even got a sci-fi feel which is TOTES my thing.

4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman. Okay so I read If I Stay like WHEN it came out so idk what the hold up is with this one. I EVEN OWN IT.

5. ANYTHING by Melina Marchetta. I tried to read Jellicoe Road once and I could not get into it. I think it was right book, wrong time sitch so I promise to try and fix that okay?

6. Eon by Alison Goodman. It's about dragons. I own it. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

7. The Sloppy Firsts series by Megan McCafferty. I'm afraid many friendships are ruined by this but I can only assure you I do plan to fix this. Honestly I do.

8. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. This book sounds PERFECT for me and thankfully my friend Heidi hooked me up with a signed copy! WHAT WHAT.

9. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. I know I'm a huge LOTR nerd and I haven't read the books. I KNOW OKAY.

10. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I LOVED Graceling and Fire and I'm just not reading Bitterblue. What is my hold up?!

If we're still friends after this, we are friends FO LIFE. Thank you.

You could make me feel better by telling me some of the books YOU can't believe YOU haven't read. You know. If you want to.

IMM [46] / Stacking the Shelves [2]

Hey friends! I know I've been horrible about posting (and reading) lately, but I feel the itch to read coming back...so stay tuned! In the meantime, I'm adding to my TBR pile. AS ALWAYS.

It sounds epic and magical and is ADULT. Bow chicka bow wowwwwww.

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans (!!!!!) - for the DAC 2013
SCI FI! AWESOME BLOGGER TURNED AUTHOR. How can I be calm about this?

Altered by Jennifer Rush - for the DAC 2013
Genetically altered boys + on the run = dystopian crazytimes!

Magic and middle grade and mystery and YES PLEASE.

Yeah, I know. I haven't read this yet. But Tara is helping a girl out!

YOU GUYS. Chronicles of Narnia read alike! NOT CALM.

I KNOW.  A kick ass YA Fantasy I haven't read yet that EVERYONE has loved.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - from the Library
I've heard nothing about rad things about this book. AND it had like a 20 person wait list! Now it's my turn. Wheeee!

(not pictured)
UM HI. This is only 3.99 this month on Amazon! AND if you have an iPad you get exclusive content!
Lucky for me...

Yeah, we saved up a CRAPTON of Amazon points and got this little lady an iPad! We are a pretty staunch Android family, so I'm branching out in compromise. So far, so good!

It was a good week. 
I am a lucky girl. 

I hope y'all had wonderful bookish and real life weeks as well! Tell me about it!
Have you read any of these books? DO SHARE.