Top ten authors I'll give all my cash money to.



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovelies over at The Broke and The Bookish.

This week, they ask our top ten author’s I’d put on my auto-buy list.

Piece of cake!

First up, the authors I’d buy anything from, ever. Their writing captivates me and gives me lots of thoughts and feels and makes me think that quitting my job to read full time would be the best decision i ever made! I wouldn’t have to spend money on gas or lunch out or have to buy new clothes because being a recluse and reading all day sounds like THE BEST if I read these authors all day! Anything by them. Seriously. Even an idea scribbled on a napkin. Even their losing lotto numbers. ANYTHING.

Patrick Ness - Obviously, y’all. In fact, he has a new YA book coming out in September and I’m basically whizzing my pants over it already. He also has an adult book out in the UK already that I’m jonesing to read. Seriously, this guy is one of those authors that just GETS what I want as a reader. He is to my literary heart what the Coen brothers are to my cinematic heart.

John Green - Again, this feels really obvious but whatever! I need to share! The only one by him I haven’t read yet is The Fault in Our Stars and it’s mainly because after I read it, I’ve read all the John Green. Then what do I do with my life?! I’m living in fear, I get it, but just let me cope on my own time okay?

Kristin Cashore - Being part of the #cashoregoodtimes has reminded me how much I absolutely adore her writing, her variety of characters, and her incredible ability to create flawed yet crazy badass heroines. Honestly, it blows my mind how she crams so much into a book without it feeling like too much. The world building is amazing. The characters have crazy depth. Their backstories are unique (mc that doesn’t want children! a love interest that has a 6 year old daughter! etc!). Her villains are creepy as hell because they feel so realistic and like they could exist in our own world. I just really can’t say enough great things about Kristin. Her books are the very best kind of feminist fantasy!


Jane Austen - DUH. I am ashamed to admit that I’ve only read 2 of Jane’s books (Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey) but the fact that I’ve reread P&P loads of times and that I loved Northanger Abbey a ton, despite it being SO different from P&P, tells me that I just love Jane. Her dialogue is what really draws me in with the wit and the sarcasm and the humor and the underlying messages. She’s so clever, that Jane! Ms. Austen if you’re nasty.

Tahereh Mafi - Um yeah, have you read Shatter Me, Destroy Me, or Unravel Me? Then you KNOW this woman has a way with words and sexytimes and with manipulating all your emotions. While I may scream at the book with frustration or declare myself to be Team Psychopath (YEAH WARNER), the fact that Tahereh can make me feel so passionate about her characters is the sign of a truly incredible author and I want to read all of her writings always for the rest of time.

Julie Kagawa - I fell in love with The Iron Fey series like IMMEDIATELY. I bought the box set after reading the first half of The Iron King. THIS IS SERIOUS FANGIRLING. I don’t even care. I haven’t started The Immortal Rules but you can believe it’s on my shelf, waiting for my attention. I will give it to you soon! I swear it.

And now, a few authors I’d buy anything YA/MG from. Not because I don’t trust their potential adult skillz, but because I don’t have the complete and total confidence I would LOVE anything as much as I love their YA/MG biz.

J.K. Rowling - I heard mixed things about The Casual Vacancy, which is the ONLY reason why J.K. isn’t on my auto-buy for everything. If she ever writes another YA/MG book, fantasy or not, I’m all up on that biz.

Tamora Pierce - Having just fallen in love with Alanna, I know this woman can weave a ridiculously awesome fantasy world and put some badass characters in it! I’ve heard nothing but praise about Tamora Pierce, but before I can officially sign on for her skills myself, I need to keep reading more of her books. And dear friends, that is my plan.


Markus Zusak - In case you missed this incredible Markus Zusak responds to my fangirl status situation (it’s at the bottom of the post), I suggest you fill yourself in. He was absolutely the best for responding to me after I reached out to the Twittersphere when I finished I Am The Messenger. While I am head over for IATM and The Book Thief, I’ve had a harder time getting into Underdogs by him. I haven’t given up, not by a long shot. It could just be that Underdogs is his earlier work so it’s not quite as OMGAMAZING as his later works, or that some of his books hit me right in the gut and some of them just fly right by. Time will tell.

Rick Riordan - Obviously I’m over the MOON for Percy Jackson, but having yet to finish the series or to read anything else by Rick, I’m putting him on the ‘not quite but almost’ list as well. I have a hard time believing someone who writes MG fantasy at addictive levels that Rick does could do anything subpar, but hey, I’ve been wrong before! I’ll have to keep chugging along with that Percy action to make sure that Rick and I are destined to be author/reader connected fo lyfe.

What about you? Are any of these authors on your auto-buy list? Are any of my final 4 on your auto-buy and you think I should change my mind? Let me know!

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon




The Book Blogger Love-a-Thon is an entire day dedicated to spreading the love among blogs in the book blogging community. Throughout the day, you'll spend time leaving comments on blog posts, discovering new blogs to love,  tweeting and posting about old favorites to share your thanks and promoting some of the awesome blogs that you follow! There will also be other things happening - interview swaps, mini-challenges and maybe a giveaway or two or three! We're still working on finalizing all the details, but once we have a set schedule, we'll send it out to everyone who's signed up! This event is hosted by Alexa at Alexa Loves Books and Katelyn from Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands.

In honor of Book Blogger Love-a-Thon, I’m having a fun little interview with Annie from Random Reads. She’s got a fun blog, some great answers, and you can just feel her enthusiasm for books come through everything she says! So come. Meet Annie. You’ll dig her!

1. Since books is what we love, let's start with books! Best book you've read this year is...?
The best book I’ve read this year is, hands down, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. For some strange reason, I was very impacted by this book. I’m not a person to dwell on a book after I’ve finished, but I just could not get Nick and Norah out of my head!  That, for me, is representative of a good book which is why it’s no wonder that Nick and Norah is one of my all-time favourites!

2. You could have a sleepover with any 3 characters from YA. Who do you invite?
The first person that pops to mind is Georgia from the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series. She’s hilarious! She’s quirky! When I think of “good time”, I think Georgia. She’d be a blast to hang out with for a night!

Hermione from the Harry Potter series is my second pick. I’ve always wanted to be a wizard and who better to teach me than ultra-brainy Hermione? Plus, she’s one of my favourite characters ever!
And last but certainly not least, Anne from Anne of Green Gables! I’ve always thought she was my kindred spirit and that if we were to meet, we would be instant friends! She’s so imaginative and adorable, and I would love to have her at my slumber party!

3. You've been cast to be an extra in a YA book to movie! Which book to movie adaptation is it?
I’ve always wanted to time travel back to Regency England. Everything was so sophisticated and so completely different from what I know. I would love to be in a movie set then so I can be one of the dazzling society ladies attending balls, wearing grand gowns. The only book I can think of that is set during Regency England is The Season by Sarah MacLean. A movie adaptation of this book would be a perfect way for me to live out my dream.
4. Confession - which genre do you just not enjoy (hist fic, fantasy, etc)?
The one genre I do not enjoy is paranormal fiction. After completing the Twilight saga, which wasn’t particularly enjoyable for me, I kind of tired of the paranormal craze. It’s so overdone and I feel like it should have ended six years ago. To me, every book in this genre sounds the exact same and having finished Twilight, I think I’m okay with not reading any more books about vampires, werewolves, or even zombies for a while.

5. If you could only read one book for the rest of your days, which book is it?
This is such a tough question! For starters, I don’t think I can ever imagine being stuck with ONE book for the rest of my life. I’d get bored so quickly but if I had absolutely no choice, I would probably pick War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s HUMONGOUS and I am 100% sure it will take me ages before I can finish it, let alone understand it, which is the reason why War and Peace is the exact book I am looking for to sustain my reading craves for the rest of my life.

See?! What’d I tell ya. She’s a gem, that Annie! Be sure to swing by her blog to peep my interview (she asked some great questions!) and check out her blog.

If you’re not officially signed up for the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon, that’s totally fine! You can still pop around and see the other blogs and participate in the good times!

Review: Alanna The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce






Title: Alanna: The First Adventure (The Song of the Lioness #1)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher (for my copy): Simon Pulse, 2005
Source: Gifted from Tara 





Amazon | Goodreads | Author Blog | Twitter






In a sentence or so: Alanna and Thom are twins but Alanna wants to be the knight and Thom wants to be the sorcerer so they switch places and Alanna pretends to be a boy. Much badassery ensues.

Alanna’s always been into the whole sword fighting and chivalry scene and not so much the sorcery and ladylike things. Her twin Thom happily takes the sorcery path, which he can do as a boy, and Alanna takes his place at the castle training as a knight, in which she must pretend to be a boy.  Despite being quite gifted at sorcery, Alanna loves life at the castle and quickly makes friends and focuses on her training while keeping her gender under wraps (at some points, quite literally).

Since this is the first book in a series, we’re really getting to know the characters and the plot is slowly being laid out for us. Alanna quickly befriends the popular kids, including heir to the throne Jonathan, when she gives a bully the business. She isn’t too proud to get involved with The Thief King, George, because he’s an alright guy and who is she to judge anyone? She’s a girl in disguise so she’s pretty accepting with everyone’s life paths which only makes her more endearing to the other characters and to us as the reader.

There’s a shady sorcerer who is totally shady and does weird things she can’t prove, but obviously we all know something’s up. Alanna spends a good deal of the novel growing up, proving herself, scoring a sweet magical sword, and proving her loyalty to her kingdom while keeping an eye on said shady sorcerer.

I had heard the praises of Tamora Pierce sung from the rooftops from the likes of Tara, Heidi, Alexa, and more. They were right to do so! Pierce creates a great mythology in Tortall in Alanna: The First Adventure that I know we’ll come back to in the rest of the series. Her character development matches the pace of the novel perfectly. I’m never left wanting more of one or the other. It’s just perfection for this little nerdish heart.

If you’ve been waiting to start this series, don’t. If you’ve never read fantasy before, start here. If you’ve read this series before, reread it. Can I make myself any more clear? I LOVE ALANNA.

Fave quote: "George looked at her for a long moment. Finally he replied, 'And why do you find it so hard to think someone might like you and want to do things for you? That's the way of friendship, lad.' Alanna shook her head. 'But I haven't done anything for you.' 'That's not how it works,' the thief said dryly. This was confusing, and Alanna said so. George laughed and took them to lunch."

Pairs well with: ALL THE BEST epic fantasy!

Fix er up: I didn’t realize we started so young with Alanna, but honestly she does age fast so just wait for it if it all feels a little too middle grade for you. She grows up so fast!

Fact.

Today is my birthday!

Nothing super special going down. Just wanted to share this .gif.
(When you're 6 month's pregnant, your 29th birthday just seems kinda meh)


Oh and also my husband continues to be the best EVER and got me a Kindle Paperwhite
HOLLA.

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab





Title: The Archived (#1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Pub Deets: January 2013, Hyperion
Source: ARC from a lovely blogger
Challenge: TBR Challenge



Goodreads | Amazon | Author Blog | Twitter







In a sentence or so: As a Keeper, Mac protects the living from the dead and lately her life is getting a bit too crazy what with the dead not following the rules and a smexy ghost who has her attention and a goth coworker who might be the first person she can be totally honest with ever. She will need to rely on everything she’s been taught, on top of a healthy dose of instinct, to help her survive against forces much greater than she’s ever known.

Dead people are like books on a shelf. So much so that they are stored in libraries which are guarded by Librarians. Sometimes, these dead awaken. Then it’s the Keeper’s job to guide them back to the door that leads them to their proper resting shelf. That’s what Mac’s Da did and what he passed along to his resourceful granddaughter at a very young age.

Mac is able to experience the memories of others by placing her hand on a surface that contains a vivid event. This is how she holds on to her dead brother. This is how she gains insight as to how active a building like the new one she and her family moved in to might be. That is also how she starts to help Owen, a history (dead dude) that doesn’t seem to be fading away at all, piece together his past to bring him rest. That is what he wants, isn’t it? Or is it something more? He does seem to want to spend a lot of time with Mac (if you get my meaning, and I think you do)...

The Archived was one of those reads that has a slow build to it that is well worth the wait. Yes, it’s rich with the supernatural elements immediately, but it also feels a little ho-hum, which I think may have been what Victoria Schwab was going for to lull you into a false sense of security. Before you know it, things are happening more and more quickly and you’re trying to keep your head on straight - just like Mac!

The Archived is a great introduction to a new series. Victoria’s writing is captivating and the ideas she presents are refreshingly creative. Bonuses: Mac lives in an old hotel and there’s this wonderful boy named Wes who is cocky and delightful and knows all about Mac’s world because he’s a Keeper too. Yay for Wes!

While I wasn’t caught off guard by the twists in this one, I’m still excited to see where Victoria takes us from here!

Fix er up: It took me awhile to get swept away by Schwab’s writing. If you’re new to her style, it may take you awhile too. Be patient. It was worth it.

Pairs well with: Baked goods. Mac’s mom makes a welcome muffin for each resident and they bake cookies later and believe me, you’ll want to get in on the sweet goodness somehow!

Opening Line: "There is nothing fresh about this start."

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead





Title: Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
Author: Richelle Mead
Pub deets: 2008, Razorbill
Source: OWN IT.
Challenges: Sequel Challenge


Goodreads | Amazon | Author Blog | Twitter

Previously: Vampire Academy 






In a sentence or so: There’s been a mac daddy Strigoi attack on a royal family so the all the St. Vlad’s peeps go on a posh ski vacation that of course results in love triangles and mysterious mysteries and ramps up on the drama facing the world of our favorite vampires as it becomes clear some things will have to change if they are to protect themselves from certain death.

Since I know I’m like the LAST person on the planet to read these books, allow me to tell you my top five feelings on Frostbite.

1. I LOVE ROSE. Forever. Mainly because she’s kickass but also because she’s confident and strong and yet still trying to figure out what she wants and how she’s going to get there. I will root for her forever and always. Can I tell you how wonderful it is that she know’s she’s got it going on so we don’t have to deal with the “Oh, you think I’m pretty? I had no idea” situation? BECAUSE I LOVE IT.
2. Worldbuilding rules. I am all about a rich mythology and Richelle Mead had us off to a great start in VA. She keeps the awesome coming in Frostbite with exploring some of the politics behind Dhampirs protecting Moroi and other such things. Also I love magic so obviously those types of things make me very happy.
3. More swoon, please! Oh yes, I know you guys love Dmitri and so do I. Really I do. But it was nice to see Mason get some play (even if we all know it’s not going anywhere) and to have that mysterious loner cousin dude come onto the scene. Also, I was loling like an idiot when Rose was up in Lissa’s mind when she and Christian were getting busy.
4. Shiz gets REAL. You know of what I am referring, readers of the VA series. I was all about the crazy ending and all of the things. I have much respect for an author that does not back down from the darkness in a dark world they’ve created.
5. Finally, I’m committed. It was not love at first read for me and VA. It’s taken time for that love to grow and I can say that I’m finally ready to commit to this series and wherever Richelle takes me. LET’S DO THE DAMN THING.

Fix er up: I feel like I’m just now starting to feel invested in the series. I’m hoping that momentum keeps up with the future volumes!

Pairs well with: Red wine. Okay, so I didn’t drink any whilst reading as I’m preggo, but the whole classy ski lodge situation and the building sexytime tension between lots of characters just screamed RED WINE to me.

Fave quote: "I didn't think my day could get any worse until my best friend told me she might be going crazy. Again." (8)

Review+Interview+Giveaway of Fuse by Julianna Baggot!






Title: Fuse (Pure #2)
Author: Julianna Baggott
Pub Deets: Feb 2013, Hachette Book Group
Source: ARC from the Publisher
Challenges: Sequel Challenge



Goodreads | Amazon | Author Blog | Twitter






THE REVIEW

In a sentence or so: Pressia, Bradwell, Cap, Patridge and Lyda continue to struggle outside of the dome and start to discover why the detonations happened and how each of them can play a role in bringing and end to the suffering. What that means to each of them, and how they can accomplish it, is very different....and sometimes not best for the greater good.

Bradwell discovers a black box that can relay information and secrets that the Dome desperately wants, but only for the original seven (or children of the seven) of the Swan. The Swan was group that was advancing human society until one of them, Ellery Willux, took things too far. He is the cause of the detonations that caused worldwide destruction and created a massive wasteland that most of the population dwells in that's full of monsters, fused animals, and people hanging on to survival by a thread.

FUSE picks up where PURE left off smack dab in the middle of the action. Baggott doesn't shy away from the darker realities of what a post apocalyptic world would like like - as we know from PURE. What I was captivated by in FUSE was exploring the motivations and the moralities of the characters while still having a plot that was exciting and moving everything forward, just as a second book should.  Baggott does this with  alternating chapters by character so we can see what's going on in all of the places inside and outside the Dome while still keeping in touch with all of the personal developments.

FUSE is a book that's perfect for those who love YA dystopian but are looking for something more. Something with more depth and world building and so many questions that you feel completely invested in the struggle of Pressia and the rest. I loved that no two characters want the same thing because that feels real to me as a reader. They work together, but their reasons why are varied and human and ultimately that humanity and vulnerability are what continue to draw me to this series.

THE INTERVIEW

Thanks to the lovely Linda at Hachette Book Group, I had the opportunity to ask Julianna Baggott, author of  the Pure Series, some questions. Don't worry, we kept them spoiler free. You're welcome.

1. It is SO exciting to be back with these characters! Which character (or characters) do you think change and grow the most from Pure to Fuse?
Lyda seems like her world has been shattered and then rebuilt on a scale that seems to alter her the most dramatically. She's in for a huge ride.

2. In the book, there are lots of songs in the memories of the characters. Pressia remembers them often and even sings them from time to time. Where did you get the inspiration for these songs?
Though not identifiable in the book, one's Bruce's "Thunder Road." One's "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. Others I make up. My husband helps me here some too; his background in poetry is more formal than mine. In FUSE, Book II, we have some Beach Boys show up. I like taking iconic songs and twisting them in new ways. I love working on the nursery rhymes and darker songs; they do so much for tone.

3. There are lots of crazy creatures and mutations since the detonations happened. Do you have sketches of any of these creations? If so, can you share?
I don't. They pop in my dreams though when living in the their world all day long ... it's inevitable, I guess.

4. In my opinion, this dystopian is darker than most for YA - which I LOVE - and I'm wondering where you got your inspiration for this dark, sad, destructive world that Partridge, Pressia, and the rest live in.
The fusings came in large part because of having children -- I have four -- and while babies, they cling. In Florida swamplands, they feel fused to you. This was natural. Sometimes the visuals of this world come first -- the warden's house in FUSE, for example, appeared before I knew what would happen in that scene. (A lot ended up happening in that scene!)

5. I love that these characters are complicated and determined in their own ways. They make good choices and frustrating choices just like the rest of us. They are starting to really grow into themselves and figure out what it is they want from the world - truth, healing, change, etc. Which of the characters is the most inspirational for you?
It's my job to try to get out of their way -- and let them lead. I love them all for different reasons at different times. El Capitan is a character who always surprises me -- always. And Helmud is coming into his own... Expect more surprises from him...


THE GIVEAWAY

If you haven't read PURE by Julianna Baggott, I highly recommend you get on that train. I even have a little incentive for you, courtesy of Hachette Book Group. They have given me a finished copy of FUSE to give away to one of you fabulous readers! The contest closes on February 19th, when FUSE officially releases.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Ten Bookish Memories


Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by the lovelies over at The Broke and The Bookish.

This week, they ask us to list our Top Ten Bookish Memories. 

Since I am pretty fail with going to bookish events, this might be a little different from other posts out there today...bear with me!

  1. Discussing Team X with other bloggers. You guys know my love of Warner already, but I sincerely do love starting a new book or series and chatting with other bloggers and readers about which boy they root for!
  2. Watching book to movie adaptations. Obviously, Pride and Prejudice is one of my ALL TIME FAVES in movie and book form, but I often enjoy watching the transition from book to screen! It creates fun memories for those of us who have experienced both. 
  3. Readalongs. I'm currently doing #cashoregoodtimes and the Lumatere Chronicles readalong and I am SO STOKED to be part of a mini community to discuss these things! It's quite fun and good for bonding and all that warm fuzzy biz.
  4. Crying over a loss. Looking at you, Patrick Ness. This is a top ten memory for me in the Chaos Walking trilogy, but also whenever I care about a character enough to SOB REAL TEARS over them...I mean really. What more could a book nerd ask for?
  5. Devouring a new series. I will never forget the feeling of Julie Kagawa's hooks sinking into my heart whilst reading The Iron King. I was 1/2 way through the first book when I preordered the box set. I regret NOTHING.
  6. New bookshelves. I painted/created my two bookshelves in the living room and I am quite proud of them, thank you very much. They are a spring green with a swirly black and white pattern in the back. Fancy pants am I!
  7. Sharing books. Whether this is with other bloggers or my reader friends in real life, I love creating new memories of bookish origin by sharing stories and post it notes and texts with each other when loaning a book out. So fun!
  8. Rereading. Okay, so this may not seem like it's a bookish memory, but really you are reliving the book based on what you can remember. I really enjoy experiencing a book for the second (and third, and fourth) time and absorbing all of the details again and again!
  9. Recommending a book someone adores. Yeah, I know it's selfish but WHATEVER it's such a good feeling. 
  10. Starting this blog. I know it's so cheeseball you guys but really! So many great bookish memories stem from this little ole place and it makes my heart warm so there.
I can't wait to read what your Top Ten Bookish Memories are! 




Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson






Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Pub Deets: 2011, Speak
Source: Gifted from Amy <3
Challenges: TBR Challenge



Amazon | Goodreads | Author Blog | Author Twitter






In a sentence or so: Lennie’s vibrant, charismatic and shining sister Bailey dies unexpectedly and she has no idea how to deal with that grief. In addition, Bailey’s boyfriend is showing interest in Lennie now AND the new boy to school is seemingly oblivious to the fact that she is a million little pieces inside and likes her anyway.

Lennie thought Bailey had all the traits she lacked. Bailey was in theater and loved to be on stage. She loved life fully and openly and had a vibrancy that left Lennie in her shadow. Not that Lennie minded a bit, since she adored Bailey and their relationship as sisters was something she held very dear to her heart. Then Bailey died unexpectedly and Lennie is left to navigate the waters of her quirky family, Bailey’s boyfriend, and the new kid Joe who is expressing interest in her and she in him and that is NOT what she should be feeling right after her sister died, right?

We pick up in this story a few weeks after Bailey’s death and as Lennie goes back to school. She has an incredible best friend, a loving and quirky grandma and Uncle as her parental units, and a passion for music. In short, Bailey has an unusual yet fulfilling life. I loved reading her story, not because of her grief, but because I loved experiencing family dynamics in a way that were so different and flawed, yet still successful and supportive and sincere.

Lennie’s experience with grief is confusing, challenging and, believe it or not, romantic. Joe patiently waits for Lennie and forms a relationship with her in whatever way she’ll have him and you guys that melts my heart into a big fat puddle all over the floor.

I wish I had the words that Jandy Nelson has to tell you my love for The Sky is Everywhere. I read this book in a sitting - A SITTING - because I was so captivated and hopeful and committed to what happened to Lennie and her life. She makes good choices, like confronting her grandma about her mom that went “wandering” years ago. She makes bad choices, like kissing Bailey’s boyfriend despite the fact that she’s head over heels for Joe. This makes Lennie REAL and her struggles REAL and the hope you have for her resolution so tangible you could hold it in your hands.

If you’re looking for a contemporary YA stand alone novel that tackles grief, relationships, and what it means to be a family, please read The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Hell, if you’re NOT looking for this type of book, you should be. You will regret nothing.

Fave quote: "That's exactly it - I am crazy sad, and somewhere deep inside, all I want is to fly." (72)

Pairs well with: Music. Lennie plays the clarinet and it’s kind of a big deal to who she is as a person. Joe plays the guitar and 100 other instruments and that’s a big deal to him. It’s actually one of the first ways they really connect, so that’s pretty dang special.

Fix er up: Okay you guys. I had SO much anxiety with Lennie when she was making some of her bad choices I can’t even tell you. I almost had to take a break because I was so frustrated with her! It’s not a BAD thing. Not at all. Just know that you won’t like Lennie all the time and dang it Jandy Nelson, I loved her the whole time in spite of it all!

Board Game Review: Tzolk'in The Mayan Calendar





Name of the Game: Tzolk'in The Mayan Calendar
Designed by: Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini
Published by: Rio Grande Games
Players: 2-4
Time: 2.5 hours for first play, about 45 mins per player for those who know the game.
Theme: Mayan Temples
Objective: Appease the gods!



Alright, there's a lot of colors and pieces and artwork going on here but do not be overwhelmed. It's actually pretty easy to navigate thanks to the matching symbols and colors situation. Well done, designers!

The turn order goes like this: put out workers or take workers back and complete the action associated with that worker. The other player takes their turn. Start player turns the wheel and all the other wheels advance to the next spot. Repeat. That's it. Seriously! Okay fine you DO have to feed your workers but we'll worry about that in a bit.

So your workers are performing actions to collect resources to appease the gods. You can do that in several different ways. Yay for diversifying the game play!

  • You place your worker at the lowest possible spot on a colored wheel gear. There are 5 different wheels that do 5 different things that are all beneficial in different ways. It costs varying amounts of corn to do this, depending on placement and how many workers, but that's explained on your handy dandy player reference card. Once the wheel advances to where you want your worker to be, you remove them and complete that action.
  • The different resources (corn, wood, stone, gold, and crystal skulls) are collected and spent to do other actions. You'll want to get in on that business.
  • On the top right, you'll see the temple. Make the gods happy and you move up the temple. This is an action on one of the wheels, or you can get a building to allow you to move up. This gets you bonus materials and also helps score points. 
  • Below the temple, you'll see the technologies. These pair with the colored wheels and allow extra resources to be collected, including all spaces you pass as well. So it really pays to move up on the technology tracks because then when you do remove a worker from a wheel, you get all sorts of goodies! 
  • Under the technologies are the buildings and monuments. Monuments are limited and cost a ton of resources to build, but are tons of points...er I mean gain lots of favor with the gods. Anyway, the buildings replenish and are not quite as life changing but do provide bonuses and other fun things and are worth your time.

So off you go, happily placing and removing workers and getting corn to place them and all that good stuff and then you see a colored spoke heading towards the start arrow on the game board. If you're anything like me, your heart starts to pound and your palms start to sweat because feeding your workers/family/ANYONE in the game stresses you to the end of the earth. I am happy to report that the stress of feeding workers is not nearly as intense as I thought it would be. You can get corn pretty easily, and you need corn to do other things anyway so you almost always have some on hand. But lets say you do NOT have enough to feed your workers the 2 corn per person they require (seriously, all they need is 2 corn and I was wigging out), you must beg for corn at the beginning of the round (and feed at the end) and for each corn you can't give, you lose three points. It adds up. So feed your workers. 

When the orange colored spoke hits the start arrow, you feed your workers and get resources based on the temple track. When the blue colored spoke hits the start arrow, you feed your workers and score points based on the temple track. You pass each spoke two times, totally 4 food days for one game.


Here we are at the halfway point. You can see we're at various places on the wheels and some of the actions that are associated with those spots. If we choose to remove our workers at that point, we'd do whatever was on that slot. If we wait it out, we can do other things. You have to learn when to ride it out and when to cash it in. 

So when you're halfway there, you probably have a better grasp of the game and what you need to do to keep the momentum going. Unless you're like me and you figure out how to get fast points and aren't so hot with the whole end game thing. I often find myself with a a strategy that peters out halfway through and need to figure something else out AND FAST. I did make a nice recovery in this game, as there are just so many different things you can do at any point in the game, so I wasn't frustrated.

In the picture above, you can also see blue and yellow chits on the wheels. Since we played 2 player, those are the dummy third and fourth players. It didn't feel hokey or weird to have them as part of the game, and they consistently got in both of our ways, just like real players would. It adapted nicely to a 2 player format for sure.


And here we are at the end. You can see we both moved up on the temple track, the technology track, and took several buildings each. He was able to build a monument (I could not get my poop in a group in time) which gave him 33 points at the end. Yeesh. You also score for extra resources and corn so nothing is really wasted. I like that.

Things I liked about Tzolk'in The Mayan Calendar:
Player guides! I always like to have a guide to remind me of what things cost. In this case, it reminds me how much corn it costs to put out workers. The more you put out, the more it costs but it's a little tricky to remember. 
Colors and symbols! If I was ever in doubt as to what coordinated with what, I looked at the colors. Sure the wheels have names, but let's be real, it's easier to remember that blue goes with blue and brown goes with brown. The symbols on the buildings that pop up are easy to understand too, so you don't have to reference the rulebook each time a new building crops up. Just cruise right along.
The wheels! I really did think the gears were a neat element to the game. It was a nice spin on the worker placement/resource collection dynamic. (see what I did there?)
Diversity! There's always SOMETHING to do, which is great. Sure, it might not be your top choice, but you aren't stuck doing nothing either so just be happy about that.

Overall, once you get over the initial overload of things on the board, the turns are straightforward and so is the goal. You have lots of options to get you victory points and favor with the gods, and riding the different wheels is a fun time too! This is a medium board game (not too heavy, not too light) and pairs well with games like Trajan and Fresco.

UPDATE: 2/1/13: The hubs and I just played again and realized that where we were off last time was with the technology track. We would take extra resources for each space we were on, regardless on if it matched with the wheel. For example, if he was all the way up to gold but took a wood with his action, he took wood+wood+gold+stone. Which explains the crazy resource generation and scoring on his part! Although he DID have the monument that gave him crazy points anyway...so he still would have one. In other happy news, I won the second time! Me: 60 Him: 51. HOLLA.