Blogmas | Games for the Holidays!

Hello!

I don’t know about you, but my family has never been into games.

The one thing I wished my family did more of was play games. We had a couple of years where we did in fact play Just Dance and Taboo, but they didn’t end quite well, which is probably why we never kept at it afterwards!

Now that I have Nolan and Kimber, I would like to bring in some old school games that I certainly enjoyed as a child. Nolan is very infatuated with technology and understands what a PlayStation and XBOX are–thanks in part to his daddy! However, as I’ve found out recently, he has a knack for Hungry Hungry Hippoes, so I may be right in my thinking that introducing some of these games I will be talking about in this post, will be something he might enjoy too!

Unfortunately, Kimber isn’t old enough to actually play with us, but I’m hoping watching the two of us would give her something to look forward to in the future. So, here were some of the games that I thought could be really good contenders for the three of us and maybe possibly your family too to play during the holidays.


Connect 4

Last September, while my sister was in the hospital, Nolan and I spent a good amount of time together and on Nickleodeon, they had some advertisements for the newest creation of the Connect 4 franchise; we were intrigued, Nolan especially, but I’ve always been more into the original setup, so I wasn’t too interested in this version.

I have many, many memories of playing this game in school. While I was in elementary, I took speech and every Friday we had a popcorn party, where we sat on the floor, ate popcorn, and played a different game (thus how this post came about!) each week. Connect 4 is a very easy game to understand as you have the structure itself and two different colored coins or chips, the objective is to not only block the other player, but you also have to connect four spots in a row in order to win.

Connect 4 is a lot like Bingo and Tic-Tac-Toe as you can go in many directions: diagonally, side to side, and up and down. As long as you win “fairly” then anyone at any age can be a master at the game itself.

Jenga

When I was in elementary school, I took Speech, and I would be in there for maybe 20-25 minutes a day and I specifically remember Fridays being the best day of the entire week because it was our party day. Our teacher was so sweet, and she would make popcorn for each class, and we’d play different games, but it was a ruse because we still had to do our lessons in between turns. She was a smart and sneaky like that! Anyways, I tried to rack my brain trying to figure out which ones we played, and I really hope that I can teach my nephew someday soon.

Jenga is very unique, it is made up of rectangle sticks and requires you to really think about the overall design, whenever it is your turn, you pick a stick from the very bottom of the build or a little higher. For most people, you rarely went from the bottom as you need good bones for everything to stay up and if you take one from that section and it turns out it was helping from breaking down the whole thing, you lose. My nephew has always enjoyed stacking things up and blocks in general, so toddlers would really love playing something like this because they’re always doing things with their toys.

Screamo

For this game, I learned it at the nursing home back in October. If these ladies ranging in age early 70’s to mid-80’s can play, anybody can do it. My nephew is four and he just loves playing this game anytime he comes over. It is usually the first thing he wants to do! What he doesn’t know is that he’s learning a bit of math too!

It is fairly simple once you figure out the steps. You have a paper with the numbers 1-12, two dice, and 12 chips or coins as my nephew prefers to call them. The main goal is to roll both of your dice and say it lands on a four and seven, this equals out to be seven but you’ve already covered up your seven with a previous play, so you have three options, that is if these other numbers are not already gone, you can lay down two coins on your four and three or exchange them with a five and two or six and one, which is even better because it is better to remove the number one as you can’t get a natural one with two dice.

UNO

I like a lot of card games, but my ultimate favorite–even if I’m not the best at it!–is UNO.

I have never been able to figure out how long I’ve loved UNO, but it had to come after middle school though. It doesn’t show up in my earlier memories and this kind of makes sense because I do remember playing an awful lot from 2005-2009 with my family and friends at slumber parties (do you remember those?!) and again, it is pretty easy to follow, but there are a few symbols that can be somewhat tricky, like the reverse and skip cards. These can be really annoying if you are playing with a large group of people and nobody really knows who is next in line, so to make things easier on yourself and the newcomers, I’d pick those guys out before you start the game entirely.

There is an episode of The Golden Girls where Dorothy is playing Gin Rummy with her mother Sophia, and she always loses the game and Sophia basically drives her completely insane after every round so she gives up and decides no more. By the end of the episode, you learn why Sophia chooses to play it with her daughter and they end up playing a round during the last few seconds of the show. I guess I’m the same way with UNO. I love playing it with my family the most, it’s where I have the most memories, and it doesn’t matter on the age because my nana was in her late 70’s when we taught her so it’s not all that difficult once you know what each card means while the game continues.


In a way, I am like Sophia because I like the talk and watching everyone’s facial expressions as they arrange their cards and it’s one game that being an observer can have its advantages… As much as I’d like to win a round or two, I am fine with seeing someone get excited instead. This is what I hope to teach Nolan the most; it’s okay to allow someone to win but you never, ever tell them afterwards, because then they’ll think you forfeited the game and they’ll want a rematch and that attitude doesn’t make good challenges, especially if they lose against you.

What are your favorite games to play during the holidays? Which one do you hope to teach your child or family member someday?

snowflake

Blogmas | A Little Wrap Up

Hello!

Welcome back to Blogmas everyone!

I wasn’t sure I would actually participate this year, especially what happened those two weeks at the beginning of November… If you’re wondering about that, you can read my little update in the monthly playlist I released on Monday. Anyways, we are here now and for some odd reason I have developed a trend during Blogmas and I tend to do a simple recap of the previous year’s holiday posts. I’m still unsure why I started doing this, but it’s become part of my ritual for the first week of December; kind of like publishing a playlist at the end of each month, I guess.


Why I Decided on 8 Days

For anyone who doesn’t know or understand what Blogmas/Vlogmas is, it is a theme in which a person releases a post or vlog (video log) of everyday up until Christmas or sometimes the day after, it just depends on the person. I have blogged every day once and I will never do it again, because I felt so stressed out, so when I wrote this post, I was explaining my need to shrink the timetable just a bit with only eight days. This year, I am doing seven posts, but it could also change depending on my end-of-the-year posts too.

The Christmas Song Tag

This is another annual thing for me to do for Blogmas, and that is at least one Christmas-y tag. I actually love doing them every year, mainly because I am curious about if my answers will change as much as the year before, and since we’ve added a new member into our family, I’m sure that’ll change it up a bit.

I’ve done this tag multiple times over the years, but I think the oldest is from 2014, and again, I enjoy reading about what I had said in that post and compare it to the others. As much as I like this tag in general, I would love to see if anyone’s created any more Christmas tags; I have been tempted to combine all of the tags I’ve done in the post and come up with an ultimate Christmas tag, but I haven’t made my mind up yet, so we’ll have to see what happens next year.

Festive and Winter-y Baby Names

Last December, I decided to do something different and share some of my favorite holiday theme baby names.

Back in 2020, I spent the entire month creating new and festive name combinations on my second Instagram page, and it was really fun, but extremely chaotic as I was posting six name pairings each day. I will say, my page looked gorgeous, and I did feel proud for committing to both Blogmas and the names. I definitely don’t recommend it, and I will not be doing that again but kudos to anyone who is multitasking like that in 2022.

So, when I go to 2021, I knew I couldn’t do that again, so I thought of a different route and honestly, this was so much better! I was able to add more names and discuss which names represent this time of the year the best.

Holidays Reads & TV

I spend a lot of my time on Instagram and scroll through a lot of bookstagrammers and I always see various holiday-ish books that actually sound interesting, but I am very difficult to please when it comes to stories based around Christmas, I mean, there’s a reason why I have never been a fan of the Hallmark Channel. I actually pick that channel and Lifetime out of my guide once November comes around because they drive me nuts!

However, I finally talked myself into listening to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickins, and I think I may end up making it part of my tradition, kind of like what I do with Halloween; I like to watch the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the final day of October. I’ve done it every year since 2009. This year, I wasn’t able to watch the film but I listened to the actual song before I left for the nursing home, and I’m saying that counts for something!

Anyways, I also shared my favorite short Christmas cartoons. They were not produced by Walt Disney, but they are as old as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1939) and I’m happy to know I can actually watch them without having to use YouTube because that’s what I’ve been using since 2015, but now they’re on Prime Video as a collection, and I’m really enjoying having them so easily again.

Wooden + Dot Ornaments

I love giving and making gifts for people. I’ve done a lot of seasonal crafts over the years but being able to do them for Christmas is different for me as a person. I like being able to make someone else special for a day, and Christmas is the perfect holiday to do that. As I continue to do these wooden ornaments, the list of people increases and unfortunately can knock off others, and honestly, I hate leaving certain people off the list, but I can always add them to my 2023 list. I was literally rereading these paragraphs and realized I sound an awful lot like Santa Claus…

Best Songs of 2021

One of the main reasons why I keep track of all of the songs I’ve enjoyed over the past year, and it actually makes things so much easier in the end. I like to be almost done writing the December post before I bring everything into one playlist. It is also helpful to wait until Spotify’s unleashed their end-of-the-year collections as well. It gives you a better idea of which artists, bands, genres, etc. you were loving the entire year.

The list for 2021 is actually one of my favorites. Despite my best efforts, not all of my yearly playlists end up being favorites in itself, but I’ve had a couple of them before, the first was 2016, the second best is from 2019 and this one. I am excited to see what I can do with the best songs for 2022 later this month.

If you would like to check out my 2021 wrap up playlist, you can click here.

Top 7 Books of 2021

For the final post of Blogmas content, it is usually my top favorite books of the year. In 2021, I decided to write about the Top 7 books, and I find it odd that I completed my original goal of 30 books and managed to shrink my favorites list to only seven. I probably wanted to make things easier for myself, especially doing this post in general, and I can understand my need to do it that way, especially if I wasn’t in the mood to do any more Blogmas stuff after Christmas.


Next Monday, I will officially start my Blogmas content, and my schedule will continue as normally, a new post will publish around 7:30am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I am hoping to finish before Christmas arrives and relish in those final two weeks of December before putting my sights on what I want to do in January. So, I truly hope you find something that you enjoy and if you’re a new blogger, looking for advice or ideas to do for Blogmas, I hope you are inspired to spread your own Christmas spirit onto your platform.

How do you feel about Blogmas and/or Vlogmas? Whose content are you most looking forward to this year?

snowflake

Top 8 Spooky Films!

Hello!

You can tell I haven’t done on these posts in a while, mainly because I had forgotten how to actually start it. Oops!

I’m also talking about a different subject too, I normally don’t talk about “spooky” things, especially in the month of October. I mentioned in my recent review for Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” last week that even though I love the occasional vampire, witch and werewolf subgenres, I am still very tame when it comes to anything in the “horror” category. To be perfectly honest with you, none of these films are too over the top, at least from my standpoint–you might have another point of view and that’s fine and dandy. We all have our limits for this time of the year and if you’re interested in boarding your horizons a bit, I think you should consider the list below.

Now, shall we?


Before we start, I wanted to give you a level to go with each movie in the hopes to help you see how “creepy” it is, so imagine that number one is the safest whereas 10 is not only the highest but frightening on the whole thing, but as you get to five, you’ve hit a good medium between those feelings, okay?

The Gift (2000)

One of the first movies I was suggested to watch was The Gift. When you have both of your parents telling you to check it out, that is usually a good candidate, especially in the psychological section. For the most part, that’s what I’d say about all of these films but this one was different because it still has some of my usual themes within it.

The Gift is about a woman who is known to be a little out there. She is more of a healer than a witch, but now she is starting to have visions of another woman who is mysteriously missing, and she is haunted by this girl and feels certain that she is dead. It stars Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes, and Keanu Reeves in very strong roles. Despite for some intense scenes, I’d still give it a 6 1/2 on the “creepy” scale.

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Now with this film, I was told to watch it for basically two years; at one point my mom was watching it in the living room, and I was slightly intrigued by the start of it. A few days later I decided to actually watch it and even though I thought it was really good, that doesn’t mean I’ll be watching it for a while. I would definitely put it at an eight, because of a scene that shows a Ouija board. I hate those things and that scene almost made me run for the hills!

The Prodigy (2019)

This one is very interesting because it focuses on a reincarnation outlook with some creepy stuff involved as we follow a couple on the quest on having a baby and on the day their child is born, a serial killer is also taking his last breaths at the same hospital! When the killer realizes this, he gets to recreate his life in the eyes of this little boy.

In my defense, the first time I ever saw the trailer, I didn’t think it looked too bad, I thought in a way, it would be like The Gift in a more modern way, and I was so totally wrong! This freaked me out more than I thought it would, but I will also say that I thought it was really interesting too. I liked it for those moments, but that means it belongs higher on my scale, so I’d say it’s an eight or nine. However, I do have an alternative for you. If you are interested in reincarnation or a “Freaky Friday” kind of scare, I think “Freaky” with Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton would be a more comic and safer idea instead.

Fantasy Island (2019)

A little bit after I completed The Prodigy, I actually noticed a change in myself and I definitely wanted more psychological thrillers, nothing like Final Destination or Saw (although I do want to check out “Spiral” soon!) and I always seemed to watch their trailers first, but as we’ve found out with the last one, I don’t know if going about it this way is a good thing in general.

When I suggested this to my dad, he made it apparent to me that there could be an older version of this film, I know there is/was a TV show on FOX with Rosalyn Sanchez last year, but I was never able to check it out in time. Anyways, this movie was actually lighthearted in the beginning, but you knew shit was going to hit the fan sometime. It had a nice balance of “oh, this is fine” to “here we go” and ultimately “oh damn!” but I enjoyed myself all the same. I’d give it a solid six, mainly because of the events happening at the end.

Escape Room (2019)

I’ve heard about these damn escape rooms all the time. I first heard about them while watching an episode of Jeopardy! and I thought why in the world would anyone want to lock themselves with a bunch of random people in the hopes to finding a series of keys to get out of there. I mean, I barely wanted to work in groups with people I know because I can do things easier on my own!

And then I decided to watch this sucker and was sucked into it immediately, but since this was a movie, the rules can change, and your outcome can have some deadly consequences. I truly loved this movie, like I am patiently waiting for the day the second shows up on my guide for Starz (because that’s where the other premiered on!). If you would like another film like this, try to search for Play Or Die. This one has more British actors in it so the accents are heightened and the plot for the main character is more mysterious.

Crawl (2019)

I feel really bad for adding this to this list after the lower half of the States are recovering after the damage of Hurricane Ian in Florida, Puerto Rico and others as we speak, but this was a creepy but realistic take that most of us would not think about but probably should afterwards.

This film follows a father, daughter duo getting stuck in the midst of an intense hurricane and their home is infested with massive and hungry crocodiles. If you thought sharks were bad, this will show you to fear these beasts even more! As the characters are trying to escape, they try not to tempt monsters hiding in the water. As someone who hasn’t watched Jaws, I’d give this movie a big 10 because evetime you believe it’s done, all hell breaks loose for the characters.

Old (2020)

This year, I had decided on two movies I desperately wanted to see and luckily, they appeared on HBOMax. I was a happy camper, and the first was M. Night Shyamalan’s Old. I saw the trailer and knew from experience that when dealing with Shyamalan’s work, it would be slightly horrifying! However, it didn’t stop me from watching it.

Old is about a group of people who come to this resort, and they are each invited to visit a beach with beautiful views and relaxing atmosphere, which is true, but there is a bad side to it too. They get their first clue when they find a woman dead on the shore and it looks like she’d been there for a very, long time but hasn’t. In a matter of five hours, each of the residents become older and lose a number of things in the process, their eyesight, memory, beauty, and one of the children becomes an adult, gives birth right there in front of her parents.

This movie was right up my alley, but it also seemed too weird, and I didn’t particular enjoy the ending of it either. I would give it a good seven out of ten because there were a lot of freaky moments–obviously! Now if you’d ask me on general enjoyment, I’d tell you it was a four.

Last Night In Soho (2021)

After I had watched Old, I was a bit skeptic on how Last Night In Soho would turn out for me. The main reason why I had wanted to see it was because stars Thomasin McKenzie (who was also in Old!) and Anya Taylor-Johnson (who was in M. Night Shamalyan’s Split!) and Matt Smith. I had found it just before House of the Dragon would start and I wanted to get a sense of Matt’s work before it had premiered a couple of months later.

My thoughts on Last Night In Soho are completely different to Old; I actually loved it so much that I told my parents it was one of the best films I’d seen in a while. I would actually put it on the same list I put Murder On the Orient Express. It was that amazing!


Honestly, this is a pretty hefty list with a lot of different options. I’ve done other movies lists in the past, I’ve even done a few Halloween-y posts a couple of years ago, so it’s nice to update what I’ve enjoyed since then and let you test your waters in the near future.

Which film(s) are you thinking about checking out soon? Do you have any others that fit well with this list that I might enjoy too? Let me know in the comments below!

snowflake

Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under The Howling Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

I want to say, I can’t believe I am talking about another series by Melanie Karsak, but it’s happening! Although, if we’re being technical, it was actually my mom’s fault we are here in the first place as she told me shortly after I finished The Raven and The Dove by K.M. Butler last month.

Back in December, while I was reading my way through Christmas inspired stories, I attempted to read Melanie’s prequel novella called, “Shield-Maiden: Winternight Gambit” but I just couldn’t get into it as much as I thought I would. I’ve never been able to enjoy Viking fiction and trust me when I say there are TONS out there, which is both a blessing and a curse because it is super difficult to find anything outside of the Norse mythology. The fact I found Melanie’s “Celtic Blood” series first was interesting, but honestly both mythologies are somewhat similar, and I think that’s why I’m able to mesh with it now, because I have grown to learn more about “earth based” and/or pagan lifestyle, even if the story itself is fictionized.


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Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.

In my dreams, Odin whispers to me. 
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

taken from Gooreads.


I didn’t know what to expect from this story, but once I started, I felt comfortable with my surroundings. Anytime I jump into Melanie’s work, I instantly felt happy on the inside. Everything came together and I fully allowed myself to dive deep and embrace all of these characters and the events mentioned throughout the story.

I truly love having to focus on one character’s point of view and I think this is what I drive for in all of my books honestly. It was a freak accident that I was able to enjoy K.M. Butler’s book so much, because it had two views, but in order to understand the lives of those characters, you needed separate views as a reader. However, with this story, we follow only Hervor, and to me, she was just as powerful as Halla and Taurien. If you haven’t checked out my review of that book, the link is located in the first paragraph.

“Of all the places to live. Like a dwarf in a cave. Not in a glen. Not in a tree. Oh no, up the side of the steepest mountain,”

The entire book was exciting, but there were some interesting twists throughout the pages. Despite being the granddaughter of a jarl, she wasn’t very respected among her family. This is one of the biggest wonders of the story, because her mother somehow lost part of her memories, and even though Svafa is the beloved daughter of the jarl, Hervor is not.

She has constantly in the book said that she is unloved, but I don’t believe she is, she has multiple people in her village that adore her plenty like Eydis, who may be a slave to the family; she and Hervor have a beautiful friendship and I think Hervor tends to forget about that. She also has Yrsa as well, who has been teaching her all about being a shield maiden and her hopes is with her cousin Leif, who like Eydis, has been with her for the majority of her life and wants to see her flourish as well!

Besides Hervor being a big favorite for me, Eydis reminded me of someone I know. She is one of my sister’s friends from school and I basically used her face and goofy antics to picture this character a little better. She is a devotee of Loki, who is very mischievous in both the Norse mythology and the Marvel universe, so she has her weird moments too but there is a scene towards the end that really got me good. I physically laughed because not only was it perfect, but it showed you how funny she naturally is. I had saved like six quotes throughout, and I could have used any of the ones that came out of Hervor that could reflect her story, but I couldn’t see this post without sharing what Eydis has upon coming to Yrsa and Hervor.

After I had finished, I immediately went on Amazon and grabbed both the next and third book of the series. And I hate to say that it took me to four days to write this post and but they’ve currently sitting in my Kindle; I didn’t want to get any of the information confused once I began reading the second book, so I had to wait it out, which was tortuous, but I’m done here so I’m off to find out what happens to these wonderful characters! PS: I’m currently in the middle of “Under the Hunter’s Moon” so I’ll have the second review finished at the end of April.

Have you read “Shield-Maiden: Under The Howling Moon” by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, who were your favorite characters and scenes? What other Viking books can you recommend to anyone out there?

snowflake

Book Review: “The Best of Us” by Kennedy Fox

Hello!

One thing I wanted to do this year is limit the amount of romance books. I want to focus on other genres, but I saw the ladies of Kennedy Fox mentioned this one was free on Amazon last month, and I couldn’t help myself I had to get it before the opportunity disappeared. They were also in the process of releasing the fourth book of this series called “The Heart Of Us” so I figured I would check out the start of this collection.

I am still on the fence about it, mainly because I don’t really care for age-gap romances, but the snippets they shared on Instagram prior made me really happy, so we’ll have to see what comes out of this post. I’d still like to continue Travis and Viola‘s story of their Checkmate series, but these things take time apparently!


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What happens when the biggest blizzard of the year hits and you’re trapped in a cabin with your best friend’s brother? You take every opportunity to spend time together and make him fall in love with you.

The Best of Us is a best friend’s brother, opposites attract, and snowed-in together standalone romance.

taken from Goodreads.


There were a lot of things I truly loved about this story. I mean besides the steamy sex scenes; it had a great and relatable plot amongst the characters. The main reason why I choose the word “relatable” is because everyone, especially Ryan, are coming out of the COVID-19 mess. He is a doctor who saw firsthand of what the virus did to his co-workers and patients. I thoroughly enjoyed Ryan as a whole, he was portrayed as a stoic person, but also showed a lot of emotion about his family and work. Whenever I read books like this, I am pulled towards the female character a lot of the time, but for this, I was fully on Team Ryan.

I want Kendall as much as she wants me, and the only thing coming between us is my insecurities.

Now with that being said, it doesn’t mean Kendall wasn’t an awesome character. I admired her sense of humor but most importantly her strength while wanting to find herself outside of her family and focusing on her charity work.

It was interesting to see how these characters share their reasons why they do what they do and you as the reader find out they are more alike in ways neither one expected, and I was surprised I didn’t find it annoying or unrealistic once they got over that hump–no pun intended there!–and began to think there could be more for them as a couple.

If you haven’t read anything by Kennedy Fox, I definitely you should grab this book. If you think using the pandemic as a prop for this story is a bit weird, because honestly, I thought I wouldn’t be into it either, trust me when I say it makes sense to use it to show you another side of Ryan’s life as a doctor.

Have you read “The Best Of Us” yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about this story of Ryan and Kendall?

snowflake