Monday, August 26, 2019

Dungeons and Dragons - Why the Hype?

Dungeons and Dragons - the one game known to be played by nerds and geeks everywhere, that outsiders don't totally understand and that makes us players sound like we suddenly come from a different planet. 

Hey, all! 

How's it going, nerds? My name is Caaaaaro! (The day after Pewdiepie's 100M, a bit after his wedding, I'm in a mood to watch all his videos, ok?) And welcome to a new why the Hype! Today, we're discussing Dungeons and Dragons. 

Yes, I play D&D. I have for a long time, and it's something I really love! I have one main character and a bunch of other characters I'm not as invested in (yet), I am the game master for a campaign and have, indeed, suffered from D&D withdrawl after spending a month or so unable to play. 

D&D has not only been super entertaining, but has also helped me make friends! So today, with the help of The Magic Mates, I am going to be telling you why D&D is so, so worth it! 

Just note: The Magic Mates is the group name of the campaign I'm currently in, with my character, Lila. It includes 6 amazing characters and just as amazing players, who have been shouting ideas my way! 

1. It's an amazing creative outlet
D&D is one of the most creative things you can do without having an ounce of artistic talent in your body. You start by creating a character (virtually any character you can think of!), their personality, and allow a Dungeon/Game master to walk your character through a story, where you take actions and make decisions based on their abilities and personality. Want to make an eagle-man? There's a race for that! Want to make someone who is really good at tinkering and inventing stuff on the spot? Awesome character arc! The possibilities are virtually endless, and the worlds you can create are even more so. 

After my main character, I have a half-drow (dark elf) ranger who believes she's the next Sherlock Holmes and is searching for the worlds best Lemonade recipe, and a few back up characters including a Human Cleric who is incredibly nerdy and is easily scared, and a steampunk alchemist who believes she's all that. 

2. It's actually super smart 
D&D actually takes its time to model the probabilities of real life super well! There are 6 statistics that modify your character to be better or worse at certain things - Intelligence, Strength, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma. When you make your character, you get points for each of these. You can't be good at everything, but can't be bad at everything either! If you have high points for strength, you are more likely to perform well on a task that involves strength. 

How well you perform all depends on one little piece of equipment - a d20. *Magic angel sounds*. This is a 20 sided dice that you roll to see how well you perform. You add any bonus points to the roll. The higher the score, the better the outcome! What I love about that is that, even in real life, if you are good at something, you can still mess up. Even the best chef can mess up a recipe, or do exceptionally well, or anywhere in between. 

3. It's easy to understand 
This is a game that is both full of rules and has no rules. You can certainly ask your DM wether you can tame a shark and keep it as your pet, if you want. But you must roll a certain combination of dice to see if you do well. Once you know when to roll what, it's easy sailing! And usually your DM should be happy to tell you when to roll what, if you're starting out! 

Plus, the rules essentially boil down to how to make a character and what to do once it levels up! Super simple! 

4. You can do (almost) anything 
You should be able to do anything the dice lets you do. I've had one of my players ask if he could pick up a tree to use it as a bat when a giant was trowing stones at him. The roll failed, but had it passed, it could have happened. 

I once had Lila in a narrow passage, in front of a group. Seeing something shiny in the distance, she just started absolutely sprinting towards it. She dodged another character that tried to catch her, not once but twice, and avoided another tackle. She showed another character the shiny thing in the distance, and they both started running. 

Both the other player and I knew that the shiny thing was one of our enemies. But Lila and Tide? When they see something shiny, they go for it. 

5. You end up with the funniest stories, intense drama and very real emotions
More of these will be written further down, but I have had moments where I was crying as things were happening, I've had moments where we couldn't stop laughing at what was happening, and I've had moments where I was stress-eating bell peppers (paprika) because we all almost died. It's wild. 

6. It is accidentally social 
Most players I know are quite socially anxious or quiet in everyday life, but all that seems to change during a D&D session. It's always fun to create a fun character and laugh with others (or make others laugh! Bards are amazing for that!). Even creating a world for people to explore makes you consider a whole army of side characters and invites you to interact with the people sitting at your table. 

Now, I want to tell you about Lila, a character I absolutely love. Lila is a Halfling Rogue (a hobbit who steals stuff and stabs other stuff). Lila grew up with her brother, Bart, in a small village where her parents had a small farm. Every week, her and her brother were meant to take the produce to the market to sell it. However, the family was in need for more money, so the pair took matters in their own hands. Lila used her sleight of hand to steal, while Bart performed some melodies he had created on his guitar. 

Lila's best friend was Taegan, the youngest and most appreciated prince of the Elves. They had been through thick and thin. Taegan one day showed her how to use daggers to defend herself, after she had witnessed an attacked and felt helpless. Since then, she always had a dagger at her side. After having done a favour for the elves, she was gifted a Moon Dagger - carved from the bones of the Titans that once roamed the world. It is now her most precious possession. (That, and anything shiny). 

However, one day, Taegan disappeared. This happened during a time of unrest in the world, where a dark, corrupted high lord had decided to separate the races to avoid conflict. Naturally, this was a source of conflict in itself. For years, she believed that Taegan was taken by the dark lord, and promised herself that she would fight to find him. 

Since that day, Lila has been on quests to gain enough strength and bravery to find her friend. For how much can a small, quick halfling actually do? 

Recently, Lila has been waking up in different places. Unsure how to control it, she has been joining groups of adventurers on their quests for as long as she stayed around. These places were never twice the same, and she never stayed there long, until she met The Magic Mates and started helping them... look for missing children?! In any case, finding one thing can only make finding another easier, right? 

Do you play D&D? Who's your favorite character you made? Let me know!

Stay Bookish!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Legendary, by Stephanie Garber

I keep thinking that authors do a good job at shaking you once really well in their first books and that nothing will surprise me again, and I keep being reminding that that is a very wrong way of thinking. 

Hey, all! 

I just finished reading Legendary, by Stephanie Garber! It took me a few months to get to but in the end I finished it in essentially 24 hours! 

"After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever..."

This review will contain SPOILERS! Advance at your own risk! 

This book is every bit as magical as Caraval - everything is described with vivid colours and a certain over-the-top quality that really shows just how incredible Caraval is supposed to be, and I was there for it. Magical realism? Yes please! Both books so far really give off a fairytale vibe that I have loved ever since I was tiny - beautiful descriptions, magic, fancy dresses, princes and princesses, and a whole lot of mystery. These books have it all! 

Right off the bat I knew something was up with Dante - I had a feeling he was either Legend himself or possibly a Fate, and for some reason I don't like him. I don't like his constant being there, or his smugness, or his sudden devotion to Tella. I essentially don't like him in the same way I don't like Chaol from Throne of Glass - I don't have a reason, I just don't. 

Oh did I not mention? This book centres around Tella, rather than Scarlett. I quite liked Tella's point of view! She's fierce and smart and devoted. 

Who else did I like? Oh yes, this absolutely intriguing character named Jacks. The Prince of Hearts. He only had a few major scenes within the book, but they were up there in my favorite scenes. He's like a mix of Finnick Odair and Jack Frost and I love it! If a movie happens, can he be played by Sam Claflin? Please?

I also adored the whole plot surrounding the Fates being trapped within a deck of cards, and Tella's mother's involvement with that. 

The ending of the book was filled with many twists and turns! As I mentioned, I was not surprised when Dante was revealed to be Legend - but Tella's sacrifice, though brief, surprised me. And what surprised me even more was Legend's releasing of the Fates into the world. Tella called him a hero for that, but I believe that something much, much darker is coming up. 

Some small things did bother me: both Scarlett and Tella are in a love triangle? This Caraval was so obviously designed for Tella? The Scarlett bits felt forced? 

I'm definitely looking forward to Finale, which I hope to start today! 

I gave this book 4/5 stars! 

Have you read Legendary? What did you think about it? Let me know! 

Stay Bookish! 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Voyage to the States (and Rescue Book Haul)

Hey, all! 

So some of you may know that I'm half American. I have loads of family in California that we go visit from time to time. However, last time was four years ago, so my family decided it was high time to go back. This resulted in a fantastical voyage through the land known as ~The United States~. 

Ooh, magic!

Being born and raised European, I'm used to a certain pace of life. Let's just say that visiting the US caused a culture shock I did not expect, being from there myself. 

So without further ado, I just want to tell you about some of my trip's thoughts and highlights, as well as a Book Haul! I rescued a lot a books throughout this trip and I'd love to share with you which ones I've decided to take home with me. 

Disclaimer: This is going to include some brutally honest thoughts about life in the US. If you don't want to hear any negatives about the country, then it may be best to leave. Good things are included too! However, it's totally okay if our opinions differ, and I'm very open to having comments arguing against (or for!) my thoughts - the best way forward in life is by seeing opinions that may differ from your own! 

Disclaimer 2.0: All of these photos are ones I took myself. 

The Voyage

First of all, Jetlag sucks - you try to go to bed at a normal time, but you wake up way early or way late, you get hungry at weird hours and no matter what you do, it takes about a week to get back on schedule. 

But once you're past that, things are much better. I'm from the North of California (around the Sacramento area), so there is a lot of Nature and not a lot of City. 

The most amazing thing about California is how one can seemingly teleport from one climate to the next. Within 200 kilometres, you can go from semi-arid, dry areas to the constant rain and fog of San Fransisco, to huge forests to the ocean to high mountains to wineries. It's absolutely astounding! 

San Fransisco is such a fun, free city. It felt the most European, and had so much to see! I loved riding the cable car through the steep streets and walking along the pier! 

What I mean by European might have to do with the culture there. There was an importance placed on diversity and inclusion. People everywhere were able so simply be themselves and not have any dirty glances shot in their direction for just being themselves. It didn't feel sterilised like many other places I had been. What do I mean by sterilised? In the US I noticed that people lived in very segregated bubbles. Wether it be a community specifically designed for older people or a small town, each bubble followed its own rules, such as no children in housing and no driving past 9PM. Some places were also very racially segregated - white people in golf carts and black people literally cleaning up after them. It made me more than a little uncomfortable. There are very specific rules, topics of conversation that are hushed, and everything was sugar-coated. San Francisco felt a lot more inclusive and free, which I wholly enjoyed and overall felt a lot more at ease in. The lifestyle in other places felt like the country took a large step backwards in inclusion. I'm not saying that the European lifestyle is the ultimate one - it does have its problems. However, what I saw did not strike me as okay. 

The nature in the US is unlike anything I've ever seen - you feel so small amongst the trees of Muir Woods and Calaveras park! It is amazing what nature can create. These places really show that us as humans are small inhabitants of this planet, and that nature is so much more mighty than any of us can ever hope to be. There are lakes so high up in the mountains they seem to be lost to civilisation, forests so vast it's common to see bears roam around, and mountains so high that trees cannot grow. I adored every moment of these visits! 

Yet every year forests are burned down and holes are drilled for oil. The ocean is filled with plastic and the air with particulates. Our footprint is everywhere. The way of life in the US really focuses on consumerism - there's always gotta be more of everything, and everything has to be bigger and better than it once was. California took a good step forward in banning plastic straws, but there still is a long way to go. 
We saw the whales off the coast of California at Point Reyes, as well! that was incredible in every way, I never wanted to leave! The Pacific is so vast, I could have sat there all day! 

The little towns we visited were also so much fun! California has really kept some towns that were around in the 'Wild West' time intact, giving visitors a totally authentic experience. I really recommend Murphy and Nevada City, they are both fantastic in their own way! I discovered Cajun food there and I think I have a new favourite set of spices that I will definitely try cooking with!  

Aside from California, we also took short trips to Washington DC and Florida. In DC, we went to the Air and Space museum, where rocket ships, satellites and aircraft of all sorts were on display, as well as a piece of the moon. I touched this seemingly uninteresting stone, and started crying my eyes out. The moon has always meant a lot to me, but I wan't expecting the tears by any means! 

The US is so advanced with technology and innovation! It was difficult to believe the diversity of air and spacecraft they exhibited, and they still show every day! Science can take us to far forward, and I'm honoured to be a part of it! 

We went to Florida to visit some family friends, who were happy to show us around despite the near-constant rain. I adored zooming across the bay on a boat to get to a restaurant! I was able to do so on Percy Jackson's birthday, which made it double cool! We saw dolphins out in the bay, as well as huge fish that could probably swallow me whole! 

However, I also walked into an archery range, hoping to squeeze some practice into my trip. The place wasn't quite as was advertised on their website - right away, the storeowner came to speak to me, assuming I was there to buy a bow (or gun!) to hunt game with. There were dead animals everywhere, complete with descriptions of how they were hunted. Simple target practice didn't seem like something they catered for. Also, seeing guns (including real guns for children) merely days after the two shootings that recently happened made me sick - not only were they being sold, but they were being sold in the same manner a stapler or scissors or an ink cartridge would be - simply in a box, with no safety whatsoever. Saying that shootings are bad and something must be done simply isn't enough. 

We also had some amazing bloopers! On the same day, my brother forgot his phone in a park, and I dropped mine in a river while gold panning! I forgot my camera battery on two of the most beautiful days we had, thus had to rely on my phone that had almost no battery itself at the time! We even had a laugh about our constant awe about the size of produce - comparing a normal sized avocado to a larger one made the standard avocado look like a small lime, or perhaps a large grape! 

The US is also the perfect place to be a geek and nerd! So many specialty pop culture shops offer merchandise of a lot of series! Additionally, many larger cities show off science as a part of its culture, which I found to be amazing! 

I also learned a new word during my trip - Keto. This is a diet that includes high animal fat and no sugars (even natural). This diet has taken California like a storm - it's recommended by every doctor and is advertised in every shop imaginable! Although it does obviously have some health benefits when done right, I could not believe how fashionable it was to have a Keto diet! 

Finally, if you're gonna go road tripping around the US, I highly recommend the Air BNB system - we had whole houses that could hold up to 10 people for less than a hotel would have cost, in any location we wanted! 

Rescue Book Haul 

With the rise of Amazon and Kindle, bookstores in the US are loosing business. Thus, a whole collection of secondhand bookstores, as well as stores such as Barnes and Noble have entire sections where books are being sold for a fraction of their original price. This allowed me to rescue many, many books that I was happy to take home with me! 

I was honored to bring 12 books home with me, each of which I find more intriguing than the next! These include... 

The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman
The Thousandth Floor, by Katharine McGee
Legacy of Kings, by Eleanor Herman
The Serpent King, by Jeff Zenter
The Rest of the Story, by Sarah Dessn (Signed!) 
Sky without Stars, by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell
The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen (4/5 stars)
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine (3/5 stars) 
The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater
Satellite, by Nick Lake 

Any opinions on which to read first would be greatly appreciated!

Why did I take the risk of talking about the issues I saw as well, when I could have so easily brushed it off and glorified everything I saw? Because I believe that it is important to discuss such matters. So I want to encourage you, whoever you are and wherever you're from, to have a think about what you think is important. Go out and speak to someone you haven't spoken to and listen to stories. Check the news on the other side of your political view, read a book about a culture other than your own. Ask yourself why what you think is wrong is wrong, and why what you think is right is right. I wholly believe that the world will move forward once discussions happen about the important topics. There is no right or wrong answer. 

Overall, I loved my trip back to the states! There was so much to do and to see, and everything left me in awe! Everything screamed for its photo to be taken, and I had a lovely time with my family. 

Please use the comments to discuss this! I can't wait to hear your thoughts and opinions! 

Stay bookish! 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Happy Book Lovers Day!

Hey, all! 

Happy book lover's day! (A week late, I know, but I've been running around a lot)

For this occasion, I decided to create a tag! Feel free to complete it, you are all automatically tagged! 

1. Which book are you currently loving? 
I just finished loving The Luxe by Anna Godbersen! It was a lovely and elegant about the New York high class in 1899. A review will be posted soon!

2. Which books do you love the most? 
The series closest to my heart is most likely Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan. My love for these book is immeasurable. 

3. You can hug any book character - which do you choose? 
James Carstairs ok? I'll say it over and over again. 

4. Which book did you not love so much? 
I had a really difficult time with The Truth and Lies of Ella Black, by Emily Barr. However I'm really curious about another one of her books! 

5. What is the most bookish habit you have?
The second-hand book section at the bookstore has become my second home. Unless it's a release I've been anxiously waiting for, I will likely wait to see it on a second hand shelf and/or online before I buy it. I know it's not the best habit, but I'm a student, okay? Money's a thing. 

6. Who's your bookish OTP?
Maybe not my top one, but one that should be discussed nonetheless. I loved America and Maxon's relationship in The Selection. They're so perfect together it's almost too much! 

7. Describe your ultimate book: genre, format, tropes, etc! 
I would love to read a magical realism book that's light on the magic, with a beautiful yet simple hardcover. No insta love or love triangle, more a relationship that's not obvious yet is still beautiful. Maybe a fallen hero story? I don't want battle scenes that are too extensive, but definitely do want conflict and intrigue. 

8. Which book do you think everyone should read? 
The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Again, I'll say it over and over. 

9. Honestly, do you ever buy books because of their cover? 
All the time, did so just two days ago! 

10. Tag some other booklovers! 
I tag you all! <3 

I hope you enjoyed this little tag I put together! 
Stay bookish!