Of Coffee Gaming Tags

Alright, so I did a similar post for books a while back, but I saw this repurposed in Athena’s AmbiGaming blog and I could not resist doing her altered tag as well! Also, this is good excuse to step out of my book-mode craze, because other than writing and reading, I have been playing a good deal of video games.

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Black Coffee (a game that’s hard to get into but has a strong fanbase)

Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic, or what most fans know as KOTOR. My sister’s been trying to get me to finish this game, and honestly, I don’t see why it’s taking me such a long time to get through this game, considering it is a Star Wars-based game, and it spanned one of my favorite Bioware games of all time (Mass Effect). But alas, those first few hours are a pain in the ass to get through, and I’ve had to start over three times now due to memory problems on my Kindle and then my computer. Maybe the next time I start it, I’ll see to it through the end.

Peppermint Mocha (a game that becomes more popular during the holidays or other festive time of year)

There will always be the family and friend tradition of playing Mario Kart and Mario Party. So whenever the holidays come along, these are definitely the two games that bring my family together. Um. When the games aren’t testing loyalties and systematically break them apart after getting hit by way too many of those FRELLING blue shells, lol!

Hot chocolate (a favorite childhood game)

I was always an RPG fan from the beginning. So when Super Mario RPG and the Seven Stars came out, it was love at first sight. Geno!!! Oh, and, of course, the classic loveliness of many a Final Fantasy game will always bring me back a ways.

Double Shot Espresso (a game that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish)

Until Dawn. Because, Jesus almighty, those damn “DON’T MOVE” action prompts do not help my nerves. At all.

Starbucks (a game you see everywhere)

As far as marketing has gone lately, I have been seeing a lot of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not that I mind. I am SO STOKED for the upcoming game. Even though I probably won’t be getting the Nintendo Switch anytime soon, considering I did blow my console budget on a PS4 and a 2TB hard drive to add into my PS4. I am SO ready for Mass Effect Andromeda, too, and I’m seeing that around as well.

That Hipster Coffee Shop (give a game by an indie developer a shout-out)

Uh, I think TellTale Games is still an indie developer, right? Even though they’ve gotten pretty popular as far as choice-based adventure games go. If so, a shoutout to their The Walking Dead franchise. That said, my favorite of their games is still The Wolf Among Us, but for biased, fairy-tale, Fables-based reasons.

Oops! I Accidentally Got Decaf (a game you were expecting more from)

Dragon Age II. Um. Yeah. I was honestly expecting to be taken to the Tevinter Imperium, or even Orlais in the second game, what with all the lore happening in the two places. But nope. No. My character gets stuck in Kirkwall for almost a damn decade. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the game. I was just not blown away as I had been with its predecessor (Dragon Age: Origins) and then its successor (Dragon Age Inquisition).

A Fabletown Mystery || The Wolf Among Us Review

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Initial Thoughts:

Reading this volume really made me want to play the game again, if only to redo some of my crazy decisions (like trying NOT to get certain people killed, hem hem). That said, this was highly entertaining to read, and I adored the addition of random fairy tale summaries as told by various Fables characters (honestly. Gren’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood was THE best.)


FABLES: THE WOLF AMONG US, VOL. 1

by Matthew Sturges, Dave Justus (writers)
Vertigo, November 2015
Graphic novel, fairy tale fantasy
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

wolfamongusEven before the first issue of Fables , there were stories to be told, shadowy avenues to explore, and lives hanging in the balance! Bigby Wolf has seen plenty in his time as Sheriff of Fabletown…but nothing can prepare him for this…

It all starts with a simple domestic disturbance. But when Bigby learns that his old nemesis, the Woodsman who has an axe to grind, is part of the scene, things go downhill fast. And how will Bigby and Snow White keep their heads long enough to crack the case when they get caught up in a grisly murder mystery?

So there’s this series I’ve enjoyed the past couple of years called Fables. I had heard of it a while back because of course I had, being a fairy tale enthusiast and an admirer of comic books. I mean, come on. Fairy tale characters living in secret in the Bronx because some crazy Adversary took over each of their worlds. That’s the kind of shit I’d read in a heartbeat. Admittedly, the Fables series didn’t really pick up for me until I’d read the text story of how Bigby met Snow White in Volume 2, and from there, I was hooked.

When I’d first heard that Telltale was actually doing a game based off of it, I was pretty damn excited. Heck, it was one of my first posts on this blog.

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Needless to say I have since played The Wolf Among Us game and loved it. And then I realized that they made a graphic novel of TWAU, which was based on the works of Bill Willingham. Funny how that happens, but I went ahead and decided to read it just to see which route the writers went and decided was “canon.”

That can sometimes go either way, to be honest. Either you’re the type of person who likes having a canon story to fall upon, or you like paving the path of your character with your decision. In any case, it’s not really feasible, making the graphic novel a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure kind of thing, and in this case, I’m not the type of person who minded so much that it didn’t. So generally, I enjoyed it.

What I Loved

First off, the illustrations. The artwork in TWAU is stellar, and I absolutely loved the issue covers as well. I’ve always adored Bigby, but his rendering in the TWAU graphic novel is definitely my favorite of the lot (that said, Bigby in the actual Fables comic will always win out for me).

Character retellings of fairy tales. The major difference in the game and the graphic novel is definitely the addition of visual retelling in the novel. Where the game focused on a showing-not-telling format and an action-packed pacing, the graphic novel took a few breaths in the pages by getting characters to color the retelling of a story in their own words. Gren’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and Bigby Wolf’s past has got to be my favorite. Bigby’s own retelling of Gren’s past was just as good.

Bigby’s sardonic humor is still there. Honestly, I always play scumbag!Bigby, but his sarcasm in the graphic novel is even better. Especially where Colin is concerned. Colin’s a lovely pig.

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The tie-in with Ichabod Crane and Bigby, as well as some interesting backstory. I really loved that Bigby’s backstory is a bit fleshed out here. We don’t really see much of what has happened prior to present-day Fabletown, so seeing a glimpse of how Bigby and a few other of his fellow Fables dealt with living in New York throughout the centuries is an eye-opener. I liked that they put Bigby in Salem during the witch trials. Gives you an idea of how the whole thing might have gotten instigated by Fables living among the mundies, haha.

My ONLY caveat of having a graphic novel (and a story) take place way before Fables: Legends in Exile, is that Snow and Bigby are going to be dealing with so much sexual tension and absolutely NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. I can tell you that much. Unless they completely change the canon. I’m hoping to see more Snow/Bigby moments anyway, even if Bigby doesn’t get the girl until Volume 5 of the actual series. And OH. No Cinderella. Bummer. She was definitely my favorite of the Fable women, hands down.

4 out of 5 cookies! I’ll have to hunt down a copy of the second volume, just to see how Bigby canonically deals with a few baddies that have yet to show up in Volume 1.

This counts as #1 of the Graphic Novel Challenge Reading Challenge and #2 of the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge.


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Have you read this book? What did you think?

TTT: Character Names

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For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here.

This week’s TTT kind of coincided with a previous TTT, only this time, I’m not talking about video game dogs and villains. Now we’re getting to the heart of my characters. And yes, I often do name characters I create after fictional characters. When I’m not naming them after characters I’ve made up, that is.

Yes, a majority of my characters are female. Chances were if I could play female, I most definitely played female.

Top Ten Fictional Character Names I Use for Video Game Heroines/Heroes

Galadriel (The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien) – Because what else would I name my badass elf queen character? I will admit that it’s been a while that I’ve read any Tolkien (like, maybe over a decade, actually), but some characters do stick with you. Galadriel plays a very small role in the trilogy itself, and it’s probably in The Silmarillion (which I’ve read only half of) where we see Galadriel’s shining moment of having fought a Balrog–and won. So yeah, she’s totally my favorite Tolkien elf, hands down.

Zuzana (Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor) – It’s just such an awesome name! And the character in DoSaB is definitely my favorite human ever. EVER. Well, I suppose that doesn’t say much, considering most of the characters aren’t exactly human, but sigh. Zuzana is just the bees’ knees. My video game Zuzana is a diminutive elf archer, though deep down I’m sure she has every desire to make marionettes for a living. She already has the strings for it!

Sa’Kage (The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks) – This isn’t necessarily a person’s name in Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy. In fact, it was a term used to describe an underground organization, but I liked the sound of it enough to name a female character after it (also, note, the Japanese kage translates to the English shadow, so it’s such a handy name to use!). Can’t remember if my character was a rogue or assassin. That said, rogues and assassins tend to have similar character skills in games anyway, so I couldn’t say.

Kheldar and Javelin (The Belgariad by David Eddings) – Kheldar is the name of my favorite prince in The Belgariad, while Javelin’s the code name for his boss. While I christened one of my male space commanders with the latter name, I totally used the former to name one of my first female elven rogues in Dragon Age: Origins. No regrets. And yes, if you noticed by now, I play elves a lot.

Alanna (The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce) – There was always, ALWAYS going to be an Alanna video game character. And she will always, ALWAYS be a redhead. Dragon Age Inquisition made this even more possible, because I managed to make Inquisitor Alanna Trevelyan look like the Alanna I’ve always conjured up in my head. That said, since I couldn’t exactly choose both warrior AND mage, video game Alanna was a human mage. So mote it be.

Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender series by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko) – I know she’s psychotic and for the most part not entirely redeemable in the TV series, but I have to admit that I loved Azula in AtLA. She’s just my kind of chaotic evil crazy, and there’s no denying her badassery in all things firebending. So the minute I realized I could make a qunari female character in Dragon Age: Inquisition, I made Azula. She wasn’t a mage, though, but she definitely knew how to wield a few knives as a rogue.

Cybele (Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier) – The book doesn’t really have a character named Cybele. Well, unless you count the goddess in question that seems to have gathered a cult of crazed worshipers. I just like the name Cybele. I mean…provided I pronounce it “Sih-Bill-Ee” and not “Sigh-Beel”. This particular name went to my rather cantankerous female space commander.

Kelsier (Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson) – Why wouldn’t I name someone Kelsier? It’s a badass name. And it has a nice ring to it! I couldn’t tell you who I named this, though, as it was an older video game character. Probably one of my characters in a Bethesda game (either OblivionSkyrimFallout 3, or Fallout 4). I forget.

Morgiana (One Thousand and One Nights/The Arabian Nights) – This one’s a bit of a cheat, because I have written a character named Morgiana (Gia for short) in one of my short stories. That said, because my story is based on the stories from The Arabian Nights, it would be no surprise that I’d use Morgiana. My video game Morgiana is a mage in her own right and can probably fry the forty thieves with one quick flick of fireball from her wrist, but I rather liked Ali Baba’s Morgiana. She was sassy and smart and sexy to boot.

Do you name video game people after other fictional characters? Who’s on YOUR list?

Food and Fandom: Dread Wolf’s Toffee

Alright, this may seem like the thinnest and most random connection to a fandom, but I swear there is a story to this. And it went mostly like this:

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So there I was, sittin’ all innocent-like, and the thought of toffee (and Dragon Age: Inquisition) became forever marked for me. AND IT’S ALL MY FRIEND’S FAULT, I TELL YA.

But enough about that, a little about the fandom (Also, SPOILER ALERT?):

Dragon Age Inquisition is the third installment of Bioware’s ever-popular epic fantasy RPG: Dragon Age. It has dragons (duh). It has kickass women holding all sorts of power (including my own lovely Inquisitor). It has witty party banter and mind-blowingly beautiful scenery. It has all the magicky goodness I could ever ask for.

And most of all: it has men. Elf-men, hu-men, qunari, dwarf. It’s just thriving with romanceable characters of hetero, homo, and bi-sexualities, and honestly, the game brooks no apologies in dashing your heart to pieces or elevating your character’s relationship goals to a higher plane. Which is probably why I keep playing the game over and over and over again. It’s my umpteenth time starting it right now (as a male dwarf warrior, of all things…).

Anyway, there’s this character that wouldn’t have been my typical go-to character, only I’m a pervy elf fancier for the most part (this seems to be true for several games I’ve played that have elf-characters…), and he’s got swag:

Hem hem. Anyway, the toffee conversation happened. I will say this: I can see chocolate almond toffee as a type of food that could describe Solas in a sense. The elf-man runs a particularly massive deception throughout the entire game, and it isn’t until the very end of DAI where the player even sees the extent of Solas’ role in the story. Kind of like my toffee. The entire time my sister thought it was a brownie, up until she bit into it and realized it had the texture of a cookie. A caramelized cookie filled with complication after complication.

But now I’m waxing profundity. So I’ll just go straight to the toffee now…

Chocolate Almond Toffee

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The recipe comes from Chungah @ Damn Delicious, though since I didn’t have pecans or whole almonds at the time, I did, as usual, improvise a bit.

Altered Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks (for easier melting)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of semi-sweet and dark choco chips)

Spread almonds on baking sheet (I used a silicon mat). Toast almonds at 350 F for 10 minutes in oven. Set aside. (I separated 1/3 cup of the toasted almonds to replace the pecans).

In saucepan, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk constantly until mixture turns a light caramel brown color. It took me about 15 minutes to get the color I wanted.

Spread mixture over the almonds evenly. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and wait 1-2 minutes. Use rubber spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the caramel mixture.

Sprinkle the 1/3 cup of toasted almonds on top.

Verdict: They’re actually very good, albeit on the sweet side. I might actually take Chungah’s advice about using whole almonds instead of sliced ones at the bottom, though I didn’t actually mind using the sliced almonds on top. Maybe walnuts might cut in the sweetness even more. Also, I’m not a big fan of semi-sweet chocolate for anything, so I might just use dark chocolate chips if I ever make toffee next time.

So yes. I’m sure the Dread Wolf would approve.

Mini-Reviews: Felicia Day, Neil Patrick Harris

I usually don’t read nonfiction outside of necessity, but having access to a ton of audiobooks via my library is a blessing, and I’ve increased my nonfiction book count this way. Which is why, when I saw memoirs of Felicia Day and Neil Patrick Harris, I totally went for them. Now, these audiobooks aren’t my favorites in the world, but I did come to respect the celebrities who penned these down more than I did before.

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Have you read either of these? What did you think?