Moments of Zen: Jan 3-8

This week has been really slow for me because I came home from Alabama with a really bad cold/cough/bronchitis or whatever this horrible thing is. Not getting much sleep for the past few nights (well less than normal) hasn’t helped either. This is my first week back since my trip. 

Tues Jan 3rd: Honestly, it was napping after I dropped off my son at school because we got home so late from the trip the night before. Well that and playing Dragon Age 2 after a week’s hiatus. 

Wed Jan 4th: I had picked up a copy of Star Wars: Rebels animated TV show before Christmas intending on watching it with my son but we never got around to it. So we started it on Wed and enjoyed it so much, I let him watch 3 episodes. 

star-wars-rebels

Thurs Jan 5th: Watched a few more episodes of Star Wars: Rebels with my son and we both agree that Jedis are pretty awesome. I was pleased to find out that Freddie Prinze Jr, who also voiced Iron Bull from Dragon Age: Inquisition (one of my favorite game characters), also voiced the Jedi in Rebels.

Fri Jan 6th: Getting back in the storytime groove again as I haven’t done it since end of Nov 2016. Today we were talking about robots and a co-worker who was observing me today said I did a good job and called it “stand-up for 3 yr olds” which cracked me up. I had not been feeling great and it perked me back up. 

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Sat Jan 7th: Finally got a copy of Ouran High School Host Club Vol 18 by Bisco Hatori, though I am very sad the series is over. 😦 I also managed to find a copy of Star Wars: Kanan, the Last Padawan which I discovered while looking for some Star Wars: Rebels books on our library’s catalog. I think it is so cool that they did an origin story from the most interesting character on an older children/YA TV show. 

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Sun Jan 8th: Played pretty much the entire DA: II Legacy download and loved it. The final battle with Corypheus was nearly as hard than the final battle in Inquisition, even in Casual mode, in my opinion. I loved the dialogue between Hawke, Anders, Varric and Fenris in this premium content. I wish I had gotten the content sooner as this makes so much more sense to do before Inquisition because it explains so much of the storyline before you see Hawke in Skyhold. 

Moment of Zen: Oct 14-20

Back to the grind on Friday – Sunday after three days off this week. Should’ve taken off Friday too if I didn’t need the money, to rest and recuperate from vacation (ironic right?). 

Fri: Honestly, I went to my room and closed the door, read for an 1-1/2 hrs and then went to bed early. I didn’t get as much sleep as I would’ve liked on this week’s mini-break, so the extra relaxation and sleep really helped. 

Sat: Playing SWTOR and reading a good chunk of Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth, my second YA time-traveling book this week. 

Sun: I did Crafty Science today on Owls today. Name is just like it sounds: I did a mini-Powerpoint presentation on Owls and then we did 4 crafty projects that the kids could choose from (create an owl out of beads and feathers, create a owl mask with crayons/colored pencils/feathers, create an owl out of multicolored cardstock and owl paper bag puppets). I did an owl made out of beads and it was very calming and therapeutic, which was fantastic because my day previously had kind of sucked. Also finished the 2nd ARC of the week, Saving Hamlet, and finally got to catch up with Joanna (who I hadn’t really seen for a couple of weeks). 

Mon: Finally unlocked a Twi’lek and created a bounty hunter character on SWTOR, and she is a pretty curvy bad ass mofo. Got to work on my Dragon Age fanfiction short story some more and got Joanna to agree to be my beta (editor/idea person) for them (so I have been feeling really creative this week). 

twilek

Nashar’a looks like this color with the headband ^

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But with this facial tattoo ^

Tues: Got to have lunch and talk more with my friend Joanna; also have been working more on my DA story. 

Wed: Started working on Liam’s Halloween costume. He’s going as Toothless the Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon, and my friend Caren is graciously helping me because I do not know how to sew. Went over to Joanna’s house and had lunch. Just nice to get out of the house and be somewhere else and just chill on my day off. 

toothless   toothless-wing

toothless-tail The costume should look something like this. 

Thurs: Working in Mach1 on Liam’s costume. They were having “Sew Family” and the whole month they are working with the kids on Halloween costumes. Some people brought their own projects but others were making capes and learning how to use the sewing machines. It was just nice to see so many working on their own project with so much inspiration and creativity. Lol, now I remember how much I hate to cut felt. 

Moments of Zen: Sept 24-29

happy-banned-books-week

I had a bit of extra zen when I sat outside and watching the Angry Birds movie with my son, on a giant projected screen, the previous Friday night Sept 23rd. It was a nice time and we both enjoyed it, though next time I would probably bring my own food and drinks and a bigger blanket and a cushion. Sept 25-Oct 1 is Banned Book Week, so please do celebrate your right to stand up and read what you want to read. Here is the Banned Book list of 2015 in pictures. I’m hoping to get to at least one of them on the list this week that I haven’t already read. 

Sat: The few minutes of by myself without worrying about Liam during his swim lesson, where I got to float on my back in the pool and not think about things. This is also a time where I feel particularly lovely and graceful. 

Sun: Sept Book Club meeting, where I presented a mini-talk about author Jonathan Swift and a bit about his book Gulliver’s Travels, and we talked about the book, politics, satire and anything else that caught our fancy. The potluck theme was British food and we had homemade pasties, salad, appetizers, scones (apricot oat ones made by me) and tea. It was perfectly delightful. We decided next months theme would be the French to celebrate our reading Kristin Hannah’s book, The Nightingale. 

Mon: Listening to my Spotify music while I write a new Dragon Age fanfiction story. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this one. Honestly it’s just nice to have a creative outlet again. 

Tues: Finally starting to weed my parts of the Children’s collection which I’ve been meaning to do for months but haven’t gotten around to doing; working more on my DA story. 

Wed: Playing SWTOR and enjoying my Sith Inquisitor character Skarnax (Force Lightning FTW!). 

Thurs: Finally finished up The Nightingale, which I really enjoyed reading though it definitely was an emotional roller coaster and had me guessing till the end. Should make for an excellent discussion at Bookclub next month; Watching Green Wing on Netflix and absolutely cracking up at Season 1, Episode 3: The Lodger (probably the most random and hilarious episode ever). 

Moments of Zen: Sept 10 – 16

This week was pretty stressful, and I had a lot of things on my plate. My son had better behavior, so that I am very thankful for, as last week was very exasperating. 

Sat and Sun: Honestly, it was probably when I finally got alone time to play Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), the MMO game. It is the current game du jour for me, since I’m not playing Dragon Age: Inquisition (though I will be in November, yay!). I currently have 4 characters, 2 Rebels and 2 Imperials. My son likes watching, though I don’t let him sit for everything as it can get a little graphic. 

Mon: Reading my son I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems for his bedtime story. It was very silly but a lot of fun to read, as are most Elephant and Piggie books. I especially liked the multitude of colors Gerald turns after trying the slop, but explains to Piggie that it is good to try new things even if you don’t end up liking it. 

Tues: Having a girl talk moment with two co-workers during my lunch break and talking about my friend’s dates. It’s silly but it is nice sometimes to talk about fluffy stuff like that to take your mind off of other things. 

Wed: When my friend Joanna called me back yesterday b/c one of my FB messages sounded sad and was wondering how I was doing. Yesterday was a sad day for me, so to have someone thinking about me and wishing me well really meant a lot. Plus her phone call distracted me and got me laughing again. 

Thurs: Dancing to Pitbull’s song Fireball in my car. That song always makes me smile. Oh, and of course getting to go to ASU Gammage’s production of Cabaret for free, courtesy of my parents, which has great music and reminds me of my childhood (I was a bit obsessed with the movie version). I definitely plan on going to more live theater in the future. 

cabaret

Fri: I was a little surprised at how much the parents/kids loved my brand new Dinosaur DiscoveryTime! I would change a couple things with it, but overall a success. Also had a serious Moment of Zen where I disconnected from the world for about 1/2 hr during lunch at Blue Find and had a Panko Chicken Bowl and read Kamisama Kiss Vol 21.  

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Dragon Age: Magekiller

DA - Magekiller

Dragon Age: Magekiller (Dragon Age: Magekiller #1-6) written by Greg Rucka, Front Cover Art by Sachin Teng, Pencils by Carmen Carnero, Inks by Terry Pallot, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, and Lettering by Michael Heisler

To be published: August 9, 2016

Tessa and Marius are mage killers, and we see the evidence of their handiwork in the first couple of pages after a mage turns into an abomination and tries to kill them. They escape, only to be tailed to their hideout by an elven slave coming to ask their help for his Tevinter magister master. Marius immediately turns it down, as he himself was a former slave and wants to have nothing to do with them. The elf convinces them to come and they do, only discover that the magister is not just another mage, but the Archon himself (the equivalent of ruler in the Tevinter Imperium). He wants Marius and Tessa to get rid of four Venatori agents who are aiming for Tevinter to be restored to the way it was 200 years ago, in the “glory days” of the Imperium. The mage killers make short work of their targets, until it comes to the last one. Marius knew the woman from his past, and won’t kill her. In the end,  she helps Tessa and him escape from the Archon.

Shortly after their escape attempt, the Breach opens up in the sky and rifts start forming and spewing out all manner of things. So not only are they fighting the Archon’s assassins, but also demons. After a big battle that saved a few farmsteads worth of people and going back to the closest town to recuperate, a mysterious woman comes in and Tessa is sure that she is an assassin sent by the Archon. Charter, an elf, turns out to be a scout sent by the Inquisition (the soldiers and other people banding together to seal rifts and get rid of demons and other baddies), asking them to join the cause. Tessa and Marius join the Inquisition and they are sent to the Western Approach to get rid of the Venatori in the area. They are joined by Dorian Pavus, a Tevinter mage and the Chargers, led by Krem. They manage to rescue all of the slaves captured by the Venatori and destroy the camp before returning to Caer Bronach in Crestwood to recover when they run into Leliana, spymaster of the Inquisition, and are summoned to the headquarters at Skyhold. They find themselves thrown into the final battle with Corypheus at the remains of the Temple of Sacred Ashes as reinforcements for the Inquisitor. Can everyone work together to save the world from evil? To find out, read this exciting comic. 4 stars. 

I am a huge Dragon Age fan, so when I found out that this comic was coming out, I jumped at the chance to review a copy. So my review will probably be a bit more detailed than most people because I recognize most of the locales in the comic, even if they aren’t labeled. This blog post will illuminate that further. This is a cool comic because not only does it feature the freaking Archon, a character only hinted at in-game, but also because timeline-wise, it is situated between Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. So you get to see the Breach and the rifts from an outside character in Thedas. While I really enjoyed the comic, I can see how someone who is not versed in the Dragon Age universe would get very lost. There are a lot of unexplained parts and storylines that just stop or end awkwardly. Maybe a preface with a map and a brief description of Thedas would be a good way to ease people into the story. 

Tessa reminds me a lot of Cassandra, and not just because they are both from noble families in Nevarra. They are both strong, determined women who do what they have to in order to survive. I absolutely adored how Greg Rucka managed to sneak in a copy of Varric’s Swords and Shields as choice reading material for Tessa and Marius, it made me laugh! My favorite parts were when the “assassin” comes to kill Tessa and Marius in the town after they defeat the demons and Tessa begs her to come back tomorrow morning as they are both too tired and the assassin says “There are no such thing nice assassins.” Followed shortly thereafter when they both have daggers to each other’s throats and instead of making a move to strike, they count to three and both take a sip of beer. And of course, they had to bring in my favorite mage, Dorian to make things more snarky (yay I love Dorian!). Plus you get more time with all the interesting characters from Bull’s Chargers. 

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this comic, from Edelweiss via Dark Horse Comics, in exchange for my honest review. 

My Dragon Age Obsession

All DAI characters

Companion Cast from Dragon Age: Inquisition. From L to R: Sera, Cassandra, Solas, Varric, Dorian, Blackwall, Iron Bull, Vivienne, and Cole

For the past couple of months, I have been completely obsessed with the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition (DA:I), the third game in the series. I currently have about 200+ hours of game time on it so far and four characters (two mages, a rogue and a warrior). I’ve finished it twice and we have the Game of the Year edition, so I am attempting to play through the Trespasser DLC but have gotten stuck. I have started a Pinterest board to keep up with the obsession. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I recommend you check out the Dragon Age universe wiki. This will give you a detailed description about the storyline of the three games if you so wish. For a briefer description, check out the edited comic below (which is linked on the Pinterest board) from Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan.

Edited Explanation of Dragon Age

Bioware, the company that also creates the Mass Effect series (another fantastic series if you love great storylines), has created the Dragon Age games. I love the series because they have great narrative storylines, the player can get really invested in the characters (both the main, as you can minutely create your hero down to the last physical detail, and secondary ones), and yeah the fighting is cool too. Plus there are progressively better graphics (really the difference between the first and third games is staggering) and hilarious companion conversations before/during battles really crack me up.

My favorite characters in DA:I are Iron Bull, Dorian,Solas and Cullen. Iron Bull and Dorian because their witty random comments are very entertaining, Solas because the intellectual/nerdy side of me loves his character and wants to do him even though he is kind of a bastard, and Cullen because he’s so awkward and shy it’s freaking adorable. Needless to say, these are also the characters I have romanced in-game.

I discovered fanfiction and have been reading that for awhile now too. It’s cool to see what other people can create from a beloved video game or TV show. Some of the writing is horrible (not just badly written but also bad grammar – sorry but the grammar nazi in me is coming out here). Some, however, is really good and you can tell that people put a lot of effort into writing good stories/books (some with over 100,000 words – the same as a PhD dissertation, in the UK at least) and genuinely want to hear feedback/comments from the people who read their works. I also discovered that the game series has released five books and a series of graphic novels. So excited to read them!!

I just finished The Last Flight (Dragon Age #5) by Liane Merciel and thought I would share my review on here. The book is set half during the Fourth Blight and right before the Fifth. The Blight is basically when the darkspawn (a group of tainted creatures like ogres – think of orcs and goblins from The Lord of the Rings trilogy) who corrupt an Old God and turn it into a dragon called an Archdemon, which in turn causes all the darkspawn to come up from underground and raze the countryside of Thedas. The Grey Wardens are the fighting force sworn to protect everyone from the darkspawn and kill the Archdemon. The story starts out with Valya, an elven mage coming to the Grey Wardens to help research info from the Fourth Blight as the darkspawn are stirring for another uprising. The book switches between the main storyline happening right before the Fifth Blight (which occurs during the first Dragon Age game, Origins), and the end of the Fourth Blight (about four hundred years earlier). While researching, Valya discovers a hidden diary from Isseya, a Grey Warden mage and twin sister to the hero of the Fourth Blight, Garahel. The symbol of the Wardens has always been a griffon, but I had no idea that they actually rode them into battle and Isseya’s diary is full of the battles with the darkspawn as well as how her brother managed to kill the Archdemon. Will the diary be able to help the Wardens on the onset of the Fifth Blight? 3 stars.

ThedasPoliticalMap.jpg

Map of Thedas

I was so excited to get the book because it has Wardens flying and fighting on griffons, which is pretty badass. It was cool that they described a bunch of cities/countries like Antiva, Nevarra, Starkhaven, and the Anderfels, which get only a casual mention in the games. I’m actually hoping the next game will be located in these areas. I liked Isseya’s character, though I would’ve liked more information on the mage Calien and being a member of the Crows, as well as being a blood mage in general. My biggest gripe was that the story was a little bit long in its grinding descriptions of the Wardens killing the darkspawn, which took up a significant portion of the book and just glossed over most of the characters, including the hero of the Fourth Blight, Garahel.

This is how I feel about video games, in particular playing a really good one like DA: I. Add in staying up till 1-5am because I’m so involved in the story that I completely lose track of time and you’ve pretty much got me.

Video Games Then and Now