Alcott Acre's Books and Board Games
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Yes, I am going to try(!) once again to keep up with what I am reading in 2020. Since it was an unmitigated disaster for me in 2019, I am hopeful at best.
For those who do not know me, I have been a member of this group since its inception in 2008, more or less - the last few years it has been a lot of less rather than more. When I went back to college 7 years ago, my reading fell off and my board gaming picked up. Since I am now an empty nester - my daughter Beth just moved out December 27th - my board gaming will likely slack and my reading will pick up.
Enough about me! On to the books. . .
I promised myself that I would not post until I had completed at least one book and I have now finished 2!
Book 1: The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith - This is one of those books that I do not feel like I caught all of the gist. I am not familiar with the works of Henry James, which I am sure would be helpful in reading his sections of the book, but that did not stop my enjoyment of the different sections of the book, with the different voices all told well and differently. The book tends to underscore Sir Walter Scott's quote, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"; Recommended, 4 stars Library Book
Book 2: Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones - Berly recommended this series, which I started last year, and am very happy to pick up once again. I recommend starting the series from the very beginning as you get to know the history and personalities of Charley, Reyes, Cookie, Ubie, etc.; Recommended for fans of the series, 4 stars Library Book
Hitting my gaming table right now is Machi Koro Legacy a neat dice rolling, family style game. My husband and I have now played 6 of the campaign and are really liking it. For more on the game, check out its page on Board Game Geek, https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/259081/machi-koro-legacy
Lovely to see you have created a thread, Stasia! Happy New Year and best wishes for 2020!
Dropping a star so I can keep an eye on your "black hole" reduction project!
Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!
Happy reading in 2020, Stasia! My youngest sister is moving out in a couple of weeks, so my parents will be empty nesters too.
Hey, there, Stasia! I'm glad to see you posting. I hope you do get to read a bit more in 2020. But I know how it is to lose your board game buddy. My daughter and I enjoy that (and she and her husband do it a lot), but they're many states away, and my husband just doesn't much care for anything except Ticket to Ride!
>11 thornton37814: The Black Hole tends to grow rather than reduce when I am on LT, Lori, so we may both be out of luck there :)
>12 PaulCranswick: I like it, Paul! Thanks for dropping by.
>13 bell7: Thanks, Mary. I also wanted to thank you for the lovely Christmas card you sent.
>14 laytonwoman3rd: We shall see, Linda, if I get any more reading done this year than last. Most of my reading these days is done in audio form.
>15 kidzdoc: Happy New Year to you too, Darryl!
Hi, Stasia!! So good to see you, friend.
We gave Charlie some new games for Christmas, and on Friday was sat down to figure out how to play Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks. It took us a good minute to suss it out, but once we did, it was a hoot and it will definitely be in our regular rotation for Family Game Night.
Welcome back, Stasia! Interested to see what you read and play this year. Azul and Ascension have been popular on our table recently, and my boyfriend received Magic Maze for Christmas, which I played once and really enjoyed.
>17 scaifea: Amber, once you have the base game down there are 4 expansion packs for the Doctor Who game - I bought it for Catey 2 Christmases ago, so I know :)
>18 katiekrug: >19 DianaNL: >20 foggidawn: >21 FAMeulstee: >22 lyzard: >23 harrygbutler: Thank you, Katie, Diana, foggi, Anita, Liz, and Harry!
>24 curioussquared: I have not played the first Azul game, but I did buy the Azul: Summer Pavilion game that came out in 2019. I am terrible at it, but I really like it. Ascension is one of my favorite deck builders. I have not played Magic Maze. I do not care for real time games - they completely stress me out!
>25 London_StJ: Thanks for stopping by!
>26 brenzi: Thank you, Bonnie!
Book 3: Reunion in Death by J.D. Robb - Audiobook; I seriously thought about listing the audiobooks I listen to separately, but decided against it for fear that I would confuse myself! I listen to audiobooks all day long at work, which keeps me from going completely insane; Yes, I am listening to the In Death series once again - book 50 comes out in a couple of months. I think that this is a good starting point in the series for someone who does not care to listen to the 7 previous books in the series. I believe it to be a good starting point because it shows the relationships between Eve and Roarke, Eve and Peabody, Eve and Dr Mira so well; Recommended, 4 stars Mine
Good heavens, today's been a day...Nick pipes up from Athens, Mamie pops up from Georgia, and here you are too! Well, ain't this grand. *smooch*
Happy New Year, Stasia! Happy New Thread! Hooray for reading 2 books! Yah! I remember the early LT days, when you were the biggest power-reader I knew. It always blew me away.
Hope to see you around more in 2020.
>27 alcottacre: Ha! Yes! Charlie already has his eye on the 10th Doctor expansion...
Stasia!! So happy to see your thread! We loved the Buffy deck building game and the Harry Potter one, so we are ready for more recommendations.
Hi Stasia - happy new year and happy empty nest.
>28 alcottacre: I've read the first 42 Eve Dallas books, have 43-45 on my shelves, and see I'm woefully behind again.
Happy New Year, Stasia! I sincerely hope your health woes are addressed more satisfactorily this year. *hugs*
>29 Familyhistorian: I reread (relistened?) to the entire series twice last year. I love the characters, I love how they change, and I just love visiting those old friends.
>30 richardderus: *smooching* right back at you, RD!
>31 msf59: I hope I am around more too, Mark! Thank you for visiting the Acre!
>32 scaifea: You better get hold of it while you can, Amber. Expansions tend not to be in print as long as the base games do - and even their shelf life is fairly short.
Book 4: The World that We Knew by Alice Hoffman - I am not sure where I got the recommendation for this one from, but boy am I glad I read this mash up of mysticism and World War II fiction; the book follows several people and their World War II experiences and tells that part in a realistic way, but there is a golem involved and that leads off into magical realism. I found that the whole book worked for me; Highly Recommended (4.5 stars) Library Book
OK, related to my health issues - I am slated to have a second surgery on my arm tomorrow. I am sincerely hoping that this fixes the problems. Unfortunately, it means I will once again not be able to hold books well - and I do not hold them all that well now!
>39 alcottacre: I got that book as a free giveaway from goodreads last year, will have to get to it this year.
Good luck with your surgery tomorrow, hope it fixes the problem for you.
>38 alcottacre: We have not tried Clank, Stasia. I have not even heard of it.
Wishing you the best of luck with your surgery tomorrow - we will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.
>40 fairywings: Move it up the stack, Adrienne. Thanks for the luck!
>41 Crazymamie: You can check out Clank here, Mamie: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/201808/clank-deck-building-adventure
I appreciate the thoughts and prayers!
WELCOME BACK To say you were missed is an understatement. Like you, I was not as active last year as others, but let us both set the goal of finding our way back. Let the additions to the TBR pile begin!
I am so happy to see your thread!
Well, Stasia, it’s great to see you again!
Wishing you the very best outcome for your surgery; you’ll be in my thoughts in the days to come.
I hope the surgery went well and, even more, that it is EFFECTIVE in dealing with your pain!!
Hi Stasia - great to see you about. I also wish you the best outcome on your surgery.
>47 avatiakh: Thanks, Kerry! The arm is painful at the moment - which is why I am up in the middle of the night - but I am hopeful that this surgery has fixed the problem.
>48 jnwelch: Oh yes, I am aware, Joe. I have had the book on preorder since the last one came out :)
>49 johnsimpson: Thanks, John!
So, Catey is visiting for a few days and we are getting some gaming in:
2 plays of Elder Sign - 1 with Kerry, 1 without
Arkham Horror - just the two of us
Ticket to Ride - all 3 of us
Happy reading and playing in 2020, Stasia! I'm hoping to also do more tabletop gaming this year, though my most convenient partners in crime are not as accessible as I would like these days. I'm also doing a fair amount of solo gaming, though of the video variety.
>52 kgriffith: Obviously you and I need to move closer to each other, Kirsten! I would be a great partner in crime :)
Book 5: Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott with Sam Lamott - Nonfiction; I have read several of Lamott's books and really liked some of them, especially Bird by Bird, but this book was lacking something to me and I cannot put my finger on exactly what. I thought I would enjoy Lamott's take on grandparenthood more than I did, I guess. Her son, Sam, contributed to the book too with his take on fatherhood, but he is not the writer that his mother is and perhaps that is part of my problem with the book; Guardedly recommended, 3.5 stars Library Book
>53 alcottacre: Clearly! Maybe we should explore those digital versions of tabletop games and see how close we can come to reality, virtually ;)
also >54 alcottacre: I really need to finally read Bird by Bird! Maybe this will be the year, as I'm considering focusing on writing as a professional pursuit...
Happy Saturday, Stasia! Glad that your surgery went well and hoping that the results will be full of fabulous.
How fun that you got some gaming in - the girls and I are wanting to do more of that this year.
>55 kgriffith: Sounds good to me! I hope you do finish Bird by Bird, Kirsten. I think you would enjoy it.
>56 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. You too!
>57 Crazymamie: We got even more gaming in today: Tiny Towns, World Monuments, Splendor and CV.
>58 fairywings: Thanks for asking, Adrienne. As far as I know, everything is on track, but I will not have my follow up appointment until 1/23. However, this is the first that I have been able to feel the pinkie and ring fingers on my right hand with any consistency for almost 18 months.
Hi Stasia and welcome back for another year!
I downloaded the first couple of books in the Darynda Jones series, as audiobooks, based on Kim's recommendation. I haven't given the first one a listen quite yet, though.
>59 alcottacre: That sounds promising Stasia, here's hoping that continues for you.
Hi Stasia - lovely to see you back posting! I hope your arm recovery stays on track.
And I'm looking forward to following your boardgame updates. The kids are at a good age for lots of them now, and Teresa especially likes Ticket to Ride. Do you know Code Names? We just got that one and really like it.
>60 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen. I hope you enjoy the Jones series when you get to it. They are light, but enjoyable, reads.
>61 fairywings: Thank you, Adrienne!
>62 cushlareads: Thanks, Cushla! As far as Code Names goes, I am very familiar. If your kids are fans of Harry Potter, Disney, or Marvel, there are Code Names games for them. If you only have 2 players, I highly recommend Code Names Duet.
While Catey was in town over the weekend, we played:
- Another game of Elder Sign, bringing us to 3 games over 4 days;
- Tiny Towns;
- World Monuments;
- Splendor; and,
It was a nice weekend of gaming!
I found you!! Welcome back and Happy New Year!!
Starred, of course!!
>2 alcottacre: Oh, I am glad you are getting back to the Charlie Davidson series. That one was awesome. And I love the JD Robb series, although I haven't tried audio. Might have to.
>50 alcottacre: I hope the surgery works and the pain goes AWAY!! And then you can hold books again. Very encouraging that you can feel your pinkie again. : )
>64 alcottacre: Glad you got some gaming in with Catey.
Did I mention that it is awesome to have you back? : )
>67 alcottacre: We will take you anyway we can have you. It is wonderful to see a thread with your alcottacre name. I miss you much.
Good luck finding the right balance between reading and gaming this year, Stasia. The initial results of your surgery sound positive, I hope that continues.
Book 6: City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan - This novel is about Brand, a man who survived WWII and the camps, although the entire rest of his family, father, mother, sister, and wife, all perished; Brand seems to suffer from survivor's guilt and after released from the camp, goes to Israel and stumbles into an organization that is fighting for the independence of that county. Brand is never sure, throughout the entire novel, that the decisions he is making are right, nor is he sure that the people he is trusting are truly trustworthy - he is trying to answer some unanswerable questions: "How did you kill and still call yourself righteous? How did you live when you let the people you love die?"; Recommended (3.75 stars) Library Book
>68 Whisper1: Thank you, lovey. That is one of the reasons that I missed this group so much - you all take me as I am. I miss you much too!
>69 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. I am working on finding that balance. I am hoping that the initial surgery results stick around. Not being able to feel half of the fingers on my right hand was not fun!
YAY!!!! Stasia is back and reading and posting!!!!! Long may this continue!!!!!!!!!
I'm relieved that the surgery is done, and hoping again that this is truly what you need to live without that particular pain and dysfunction. And HOORAY!!!!! for Catey's presence!!! I'm delighted to hear about a game of Arkham Horror. To me that means that you are doing super well since you're able to sit up for the whole oofo it.
I thought that I had put *Windermere Maze* on my Kindle when it was a daily deal, but I apparently was in the mood to save a dollar or three. I love Henry James, so I'll look for it to be on sale again. Thanks for the tip.
I've never read Eve Dallas even though I know you love them. I have several but not the first. Maybe I can pick up a copy from PBS.
Mama and I are doing O.K. Getting her up this morning was no walk in the park, but we made it through sheer grit - mostly hers. It's still not as it as been for which I am grateful.
Take care of yourself!!!!!!
Book 7: Dr Seuss Goes to War by Richard Minear - Nonfiction; I did not realize that Dr Seuss had done editorial cartoons, thinking of him solely as an author of children's books, but he did do pro-US, pro-Roosevelt, anti-isolationist cartoons both prior to and after the US's entry into WWII. The drawings are very much in the style of his children's books and (at least to me) instantly recognizable. Geisel made these cartoons pointed in their support, in their disagreement with such figures of the day as Father Coughlin, and highlighted the problem of black soldiers who could fight, but not find jobs when they returned to America after the war. My one hesitation in the book is the portrayal of the Japanese (and yes, I understand it was the standard of the time); Highly Recommended, 4.5 stars Library Book
ETA: I forgot to mention that in the editorial materials between the cartoons, the effort was made to tie the text to the cartoon to which it referred. A nice touch that was very appreciated by this reader.
I think I knew at one point that Theodore Geisel was also a political cartoonist, but I certainly forgot until now. Thanks for sharing the info. Happy New Year!
>77 The_Hibernator: Thanks for dropping by the Acre, Rachel! If you get a chance to read the book, I hope you enjoy it.
Belated happy new year, Stasia!
>28 alcottacre: I reread the In Death series once a few years ago and I'm tempted to do it again - and I may try audio versions this time. I've got Golden in Death noted on my master list; there are four books coming out on 2/4 I've made a note of!
>50 alcottacre: I hope the surgery does what it's intended to, and that you're pain free soon.
>79 Dejah_Thoris: Thanks, Dejah!
I hope you enjoy the In Death series on audio!
Book 8: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett - For the most part, I enjoyed this story of Peter, who lost his wife several months earlier, and the historical mystery in which he becomes embroiled. The tale at the heart of the book is well told, but I did not care for it when the book added a murder mystery on top. I also thought the book a bit long for what it was and thought it could have used a judicious editor; Guardedly Recommended, 3.5 stars Library Book
Book 9: The Women Who Wrote the War by Nancy Caldwell Sorel - Nonfiction; this is an excellent book detailing the struggles of the women who, as war correspondents, wanted and were able to cover World War II. Their choice to go to the war often cost them dearly - marriages failed, mothers were separated from their children, etc - and they were very often met with resistance from the publications they were representing and the officers they had to deal with in order to get permission to cover the war; Highly Recommended, 4.5 stars Mine, Kindle
Hi Stasia. I’m so glad you are getting the feeling back in your fingers. It sounds like the doctors are finally getting to the root of your problem. It also sounds like lots of good reading is getting done while you’re recuperating.
You got me with a BB on the O’Nan book. I read a couple of his books last year for the first time and loved them. I should probably try one of the “In Death” books, but a 50-book series terrifies me! 😳
>82 Donna828: Thanks, Donna. I still cannot hold a book properly, but having the feeling back in my fingers was worth having the second surgery.
As far as the "In Death" series goes, take them one at a time. They are not going anywhere any time soon, so you can read them little by little, right?
Book 10: Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston - Nonfiction; this book was written as a result of interviews that Hurston did in 1927 as she spoke with a man who was sold into slavery in Dahomey (modern day Benin) and put on board one of the last slaving ships to sail to America; the details of Cudjo's story are heartbreaking as he relates how his entire village and people were wiped out only to be sold by the battle's victors to Americans who took and sold them as slaves. There is a picture in the book of Cudjo with a caption indicating that "I want to look lak I in Affica, 'cause dat where I want to be," some 60 years after he was sold into slavery. My biggest issue with the book is with the dialect, but once I fell into the rhythm of it, I very much enjoyed reading this man's history. The book is not long and contains afterword material about how it came to be written and critical information on its contents as well as folk stories that Cudjo related to Hurton; Highly recommended, 4.25 stars Library Book
>70 alcottacre: I read that one a few years ago, Stasia and had pretty much the same reaction to it that you did. Reminded me a little of an updated Graham Greene or Brian Moore.
>75 alcottacre: BB for sure, Stasia! I put in a request at the library.
>84 alcottacre: Drat! I had meant to recommend Barracoon to the library book club. Next year, I guess. And in the meantime, I think I'll give it a read.
Hooray for feeling your fingers! I hope the results continue to get better and better.
Super late, Stasia, but I've finally tracked you down. Happy to hear that surgery recovery is going well so far and that there's some great reading going on.
Barracoon has been on my list for a while Stasia so thanks for reminding me about it. Good to hear that your surgery went well this time.
Hi, Stasia! My most recent World War 2 read was God Is My Co-Pilot, which I thought well worth the time.
Enjoy the games! Today I received a huge box from Steve Jackson Games with all the goodies featured in last summer's "Decks of Destiny" Kickstarter (related to The Fantasy Trip). I'll probably post a photo to my thread once I actually get everything unboxed, but there's so much that I have to clear some space.
>90 brenzi: Thanks, Bonnie. I hope you enjoy Barracoon when you get to it, Bonnie.
>91 harrygbutler: I read God is My Co-Pilot more years ago than I care to admit, Harry. I think I was in high school maybe? I know for sure that it is overdue for a re-read.
Kickstarter games tend to take up more space than we imagine they would! I have not heard of the Decks of Destiny Kickstarter. I will be interested in seeing what you ended up with.
Speaking of gaming - I got a play of A Touch of Evil in today:
I randomly chose characters and villain this game and ended up with Katarina, Jack, and Karl as my characters with The Vampire as the villain. Since I am now playing solo, I opted not to use the Coast board and honestly am not sure if I will ever play with it again as I find it difficult just to cover the first two boards let alone a third when I am playing solo.
We did not get off to an auspicious start. The very first turn of the game saw one of the Town Elders, Lord Hanbrook, go under the influence of the Order. Within the first two turns, we had 3 Town Elders (the Widow Jessica and Magistrate Kroft) under the influence of the Order. Lord Hanbrook being under the influence of the Order is especially bad because there is the possibility of having to draw 2 Mystery cards every Mystery phase. Luckily we were able to cancel that Mystery card within a couple of rounds. The Widow Jessica was later revealed to be an Evil Elder, cancelling out having to move the Shadow Track an extra spot every time it moved, but it was galloping right along for a while.
At the end of the game, we had 2 dead Elders and 4 Evil Elders. Mayor Carver spent much of the game mad. We used Doctor Manning, whose assistance was invaluable to Katarina, and Reverend Hardy as our Town Hunting Party, and both of them lived to see the end of the game.
Katarina bought the Tools of Science and fought with her Cunning this game. Both Jack and Karl were tooled up with Militia Soldiers, Muskets, and Pistols when we went into the Final Showdown, which turned out to be a nail biter. Katarina, with the help of Doctor Manning, managed to survive the first two or three (I forget which) Showdown rounds, but ended the game being KO'd. Jack, who had a card that allowed for double hits when he rolled 1s, was rolling like a demon, and I was using every healing card that I could to keep him alive. Karl, whose ability to prevent his first wound came in handy too. Although not rolling as many dice as Jack did, he held his own.
The Vampire kept cancelling our hits, which got extremely frustrating. However, both Jack and Karl had money going into the Final Showdown, and they spent it to heal in the field between fight rounds. I used every healing card that I had, every card that allowed for extra dice rolls, and Doctor Manning, who was keeping Katarina in the game for a while there, to pull off the win.
Sweet Thursday, Stasia. Good review of Barracoon. I want to get to this one. Thanks for the reminder.
>96 thornton37814: I was genuinely shocked at how low the rank is on LT - less than 4 stars. I looked after I wrote my thoughts on the book.
Shame, shame, shame on me for not finding your thread on a more timely basis.
Nice to see you finding time for both of your favorite pastimes.
Hope you're mending well and enjoying a less painful existence.
>98 Carmenere: Thanks, Lynda. No shame on you - there are just too many 75ers these days to be able to track everyone. I am still finding threads that I thought I had found already, including yours!
>38 alcottacre: A trilogy?!?? Well, she certainly miscalculated, and I’m glad she did.
>75 alcottacre: I did not know about Dr. Seuss’s political/editorial cartoons, and was happily surprised just now to be able to place a hold on this book at my public library. I should be able to pick it up tomorrow. Thanks for the BB!
>84 alcottacre: I read Barracoon last January for RL book club and was as impressed as you were. I read it on Kindle, which was not as good for this type of book as a paper book, and am looking for a library sale or thrift shop copy for my shelves. I rated it 4.5 stars.
I’m glad that the second surgery seems to have been successful, especially with having more feeling back in your ring and pinkie fingers.
>102 karenmarie: I am not sure who miscalculated, the author or the publisher, but I am so glad they did considering how much enjoyment I have gotten over the years immersing myself in Dallas' world.
You are most welcome for the BB! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.
In this group, we seem to think more highly of Barracoon than others on LT do, something that boggles my mind. I keep wondering what the other people are missing, lol.
Thanks for the good thoughts about the surgery. I am hopeful! The arm is still painful - my incision is not yet healed - but the pinkie and ring finger still have feeling in them, so that is a good sign.
Thanks for dropping by the Acre, Karen!
So, for gaming I played a game of Roll Player solo. Roll Player is a game in which the player uses dice to develop an RPG character. I was an eccentric, exonerated warrior Orc who was both courageous and compassionate. I had the Knowledge, Intimidate and Open Lock skills, along with a Long Sword, Chain Helm, and Chain Gorget.
This game is always fun as you see your character coming together. I love it!
Book 11: Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones - I have thoroughly been enjoying this series and this book is no exception. In fact, it is my favorite in the series thus far. Charley continues to be snarky and get into trouble and (gasp!) has given up coffee in this one as she anticipates the birth of her and Reyes' daughter; Highly Recommended for fans of the series, 4.25 stars Library Book
I'm just stopping by briefly before getting to sleep to tell you how glad I am you're back and that you stopped by my thread! I hadn't known about your surgery - a second surgery, for that matter! I hope it was a stunning success and your recovery is fast and that the pain is soon gone completely. I hope to spend more time over here in the next few days/weeks/month, but in the meantime, just want to say that I'm with you completely on the In Death series. Not every book has been "the best," but they've all been highly enjoyable. I just love Dallas and her world! Can't wait for Golden in Death to hit the shelves!
>106 mdoris: Glad to hear it, Mary!
>107 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita! Same to you.
>108 Storeetllr: The pain in the arm is not gone completely yet, Mary, but it is doing better. Actually being able to feel my fingers is awesome, lol. I am always happy to see another Dallas fan! I cannot believe the series was originally planned as a trilogy. Best of luck with your surgery recovery!
I too am a rabid Dallas fan and am thankful she decided to keep going with the series. It's amazing how here she is, about to release her 50th Dallas book and I'm still not bored with the series.
I'm embarrassed to say I've never read a book by J. D. Robb. I have a novella on my Kindle that I haven't read yet. I guess it's supposed to be 7.5. I'm going to take one of those BBs on Naked in Death and add it to my version of your "black hole."
Hi Stasia, glad you are roaring away with a new thread, and your 2020 reading. Dropping a star.
>110 cameling: I am not bored with the series either, Caro. I am wondering how she is going to bring the series to an end, at which point I am going to be very depressed, I am sure. LOL.
>111 thornton37814: The first book in the series is not the best, Lori, but it does introduce the major players. I fell in love with the character of Eve from the very beginning. Roarke I was slower to warm up to, but I cannot imagine the books without him at this point.
>112 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for dropping by the Acre, Caroline!
Hi Stasia, doing a return visit to your thread. Wow, I knew there were new board games, but I'm still no further than Catan. Your games sound interesting!
>114 EllaTim: Oh yeah, the world of board games beyond Catan has just exploded. There are literally thousands of new board games coming out every year these days.
Thanks for visiting the thread, Ella!
>113 alcottacre: Most series begin hitting their stride between books 3 and 6. I just need it to show promise!
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