Book Review: Partner Games by Jessica Clare

It took me way too long to get to this book, especially because this is one of the series I auto-buy. I was hooked on the Games series from the beginning. There’s something awesome about steamy romance happening during a reality game show.

23733981

One-Sentence Synopsis
Sisters compete in reality TV game show and ally themselves with biker guys who they find different types of chemistry with. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Sisterly Love
I’ve been reading  a lot of books with less than likeable family members lately, so it was nice to read one about sisters who actually get along and love each other. They’ve decided to go on the World Race together, but from the beginning, nerdy Clementine knows something isn’t quite right with her normally confident model sister Georgie. Clem’s stress is only compounded by the strange chemistry she has with one of the guys from another team.

Teaming Up
Swift and Plate (biker names…no joke) are drawn to the sisters from the start. Swift has a thing for nerdy girls and finds Clementine adorable. Plate recognizes Georgie from her modeling work and has a huge crush on her, even though he’s not her type (he’s a big teddy bear of a guy and she’s used to dating male models).

zoolander
Nerdy Girl Gets the Guy
The dynamics between the two couples were different but still sweet. The romance and heat comes from Swift and Clementine. Clementine still has her v-card and it takes her awhile to believe that Swift genuinely likes her. It doesn’t help that they’re trying to win a million dollars, so  besides her lack of confidence, Clemmy is also dealing with being unsure of how much she can trust her allies.

Georgie and Plate are the friends of the story, but they’re super close and their relationship is adorable. Georgie is struggling with a traumatic thing that happened to her when she was modeling, and Plate has the knack for keeping her calm when she has a meltdown. They’re flirty, but Plate is the perfect gentleman, never taking advantage of Georgie and doing what he can to be supportive and kind to her.

Just Friends?
Major props to the author for being able to the tell the story of two different couples using a first person point of view from one character (Clementine) the whole time. She does add little blurbs at the beginning of each chapter which are segments of interviews the contestants gave for the show. Considering these are just short blurbs among a longer story, it was impressive that I still felt a whole range of emotion from all the characters.

Sherlock

The Romance Factor
I’m a sucker for a nerdy heroine, and Clementine is perfect. She and Swift have good chemistry, and there is a ton of foreplay between them. On the other side of the story, Plate is the kind of guy who’s rough around the edges but he’s the perfect match for Georgie. And while a later romance between Plate and Georgie is only hinted at, the development of their relationship and their strong friendship is genuine. Luckily, the author released a holiday short story about those two on her blog, so I was able to get a little more bliss after I finished this book. 5/5

The Steam Factor
There’s a lot of stolen kisses between Clem and Swift throughout the book, and though there seemed to be a much lower level of sex in this one than in the previous Games books, when the hotel room started rocking, it was worth the wait. Probably for the characters too. 5/5

Final Thoughts
I really can’t get enough of this series, and I’m always a little bummed when I have to wait for another one to come out. The premise is simple, so you’d think eventually they’d start to get boring, but not yet and maybe not for me. I find the whole romance/reality TV combo thing to be quite pleasing.

Dallas Comic Con 2014

The weekend before last, Jon and I took a mini road trip to Texas for Dallas Comic Con. My brother-in-law invited us a couple months ago and scored passes for us, so we couldn’t resist. The drive is a longish one…eight hours to Burleson, where we stayed with family, and then another hour to Dallas for the con. It was well worth it!

100_2484

We made sure to get there early to try to avoid long lines. We didn’t avoid them entirely, but it was okay. In fact, we waited in three lines. This first line was the one to get into the ticket pick-up area. It wound around and down the convention hallway. It moved fast, though, which was nice.

100_2487
I found Waldo!

The second line was just as quick. The convention staff had this down to a science. We picked up our orange bracelets (one of the staff called them “fun shackles,” and yes, we giggled like 12 year old boys) before heading down to our third line, where we ended up having to hang for awhile until they opened the exhibitor hall doors. We stood behind Batman and Catwoman, and the cosplayers were nice enough to let me take a picture.

100_2489

The exhibitor hall was huge. Jon and I started by browsing the booths and taking some pictures of the vehicle models they had on the floor. The Winchesters’ Impala (from Supernatural) was the highlight of the vehicles. I made sure to get some pictures for my mom, who’s a huge fan of the show (yes..my mom is a fangirl).

100_2500
Weeping Angel…don’t blink!

100_2496 100_2498Sadly, I started tiring out quickly, though I don’t know if it was because I didn’t pace myself or because I didn’t sleep well the night before. The floors of the exhibitor hall were brutal, so it wasn’t long before my legs started hurting. Still, I wasn’t giving up. I stopped by a few vendors I’d wanted to see, then went down to the autograph hall.

One of my favorite movie villains of all time is Freddy Kruger. I was watching the Nightmare on Elm Street films long before I was what most parents would deem age appropriate, but none of the gore and horror struck me as a major thing when I was young. When I found out that Robert Englund and other cast members were going to be there, I was cautiously hopeful about getting to meet him.

The line wasn’t super long when I got in, but it filled up quickly. Not only did I get his autograph and get to meet him, but I also got a selfie with him as well.

2014-05-17 11.17.41

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that yes, I did pay for both the autograph and the selfie. While I don’t normally spend money for celebrity encounters at fan cons, for me, this was worth it. I’ve heard horror stories of celebs taking your money and giving you a quick autograph with little to no interaction, so I knew I was taking a chance. But Englund didn’t disappoint. He was very nice and we even talked for a bit about the movie and the mythos around it.

As part of the combo, I also got the autograph of Amanda Wyss who played Tina in the movie. Once again, another celebrity who was nice, who chatted, and who seemed genuinely grateful to her fans.

And as a bonus, while I was standing in line, I got to see Brent Spiner, who walked through the curtain to get to his booth and gave us all a wave and a “hello.”

I found Jon and we went and grabbed some lunch before heading to the Q&A panel with Christopher Lloyd. He talked about the Back to the Future movies and some of his other work.  
100_2502 100_2506

Later, we went back to the panel hall for the Nightmare on Elm Street reunion Q&A. It was interesting to hear them talk about the film and their experiences making it. As a bonus, it also got Jon interested in doing a NoES movie marathon with me…which is awesome since he doesn’t normally like horror movies.

100_2509We ended the day playing some board games. DCC had a whole area dedicated to gaming…which is one of our things…so we played a new game called Loonacy, a round of Fluxx, and two rounds of Ticket to Ride.

It was a fun day, but I crashed hard that night. There were a lot of people there. Luckily, my social anxiety stayed down for the most part. It was so worth going, and I’m hoping we can make it again next year!

A.

Walking, Gaming, and Frozen Yogurt

It was another crazy work day, but I got a lot done, maintained sanity, and met some of our co-workers from the UK.

Today was a walk day, so we went to the mall to get back into our C25K training. It’s been a couple weeks, and I was not feeling up to the physical activity.  We managed to get the whole session done, but I had to take some breaks. This was one of those workouts that just wore me out instead of energizing me, too. I don’t think we needed a break from exercising, I think we just waited too long between walks.

We ended up hanging out and playing some games with friends tonight, a social engagement we had to sneak in on this already busy week. I played Dixit for the first time and really enjoyed it. Then we pulled out Cards Against Humanity, a game I could play for hours.

Before the night ended, we made a trip to Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt. I had originally wanted chocolate, but it was “no sugar added,” which usually means aspartame or sucralose; one makes me sick and I can’t stand the taste of the other most days. Instead, I went with a pineapple, banana, and orange blend with strawberries to mix in. So good!

That ended our night, so we stopped to get water and came home. I’m tired, and I don’t think it’s going to take me long to fall asleep once this is done. Doing a phone post, so no pics or links, but I’ll try to make up for that later. Tengaicon this weekend, and I hope to have a good post for the event.

A.

Gen Con 2013 Day 4: So Long and Thanks for All the Fun

This marked the first year we attended Gen Con on Sunday. We’re usually so tired by Day 3 that we just go home after hotel checkout. This year, though, we came back to buy the games we’d decided on from the day before.  We also talked to the convention manager at AEG,  and we might be helping out with a con in KC in November. I’m kind of excited about that.
We got on the road a little after 11 and had a nice drive. As we neared St. Louis, we decided to drive right through the city so Terry could see the arch. It was so close that we threw caution to the wind and decided just to go visit it. I love impromptu trip stops!  The arch was cool…definitely bigger in person.  The only one of us who’d visited there was Erica, so it was a cool treat.
It was a little bit of a walk, but it was a nice stretch. I hadn’t realized there was a museum underneath the arch either.
100_1851 100_1852 100_1853 100_1854 100_1855 100_1856 100_1857 100_1858 100_1859 100_1860 100_1861 100_1862 100_1863 100_1864
I debated going to the top in the tram, but decided against it due to time constraints. That, and the fact that the trams are tiny, and I wasn’t sure if I was mentally prepared for the claustrophobia or the height. However, I think Jon and I are going to go up when we visit St. Louis in November.  That’s the plan, though I think we’re both a little apprehensive about that.
The rest of the drive was uneventful other than a few stops and some good conversation. Our trip mates were fabulous to road trip with and the drive didn’t feel too long at all. We crashed shortly after getting home, happy with our experiences and just a little sad that they were over.
A.

Gen Con 2013: Day 1 – Into the Exhibitor’s Hall

There was no geocaching to kick off the first official day of Gen Con because getting out of bed wasn’t as easy the second morning and  we had things scheduled for 10am that we didn’t want to be late to.

We were just two gamers in a sea of excitement.
We were just two gamers in a sea of excitement.

 

We got to the convention center early, grabbed some caffeine at one of the convention food areas, and waited for the Exhibitor’s Hall to open. There was already a huge crowd outside the doors waiting for the kick off, but we opted to sit to the side and wait until closer to the opening. We might have waited longer, but since we were chosen as volunteers for AEG’s Big Game Night, I was scheduled to do the run through on my game right away. My friend, J, was there, and we got to learn the game together during the demo. It was so much fun, and playing it beforehand made me feel a lot better about showing it to others.
"Trains" quickly became one of my favorite games ever.
“Trains” quickly became one of my favorite games ever.
Jon took off to do his own thing, so when I was done with my game, I ended up wandering about the hall for about a half hour just looking at things and trying to find the Blind Ferret booth so I could get some art from Randy Milholland and Jeph Jacques.  I picked up a few prints from Randy and met Jeph with the promise to both of them to come back with cash so I could tip for sketches and buy some QC merchandise.
Jon and I finally met up again and went and picked up our green bands for the Cards vs. Zombies game. With our down time, we went and did a swag dump in the car then went to find our Wyrd game demo location. We ended up playing a miniature board game called Puppet Wars. It was so fun! It’s pricey for a game, but you can use the figures as proxies for another miniatures game that Wyrd puts out, and it’s a game that really interested me.  After playing it, we debated long and hard about picking it up. Unfortunately, we opted out at this time, but I’m really hoping to pick it up in the future.
Puppet Wars
Puppet Wars
For lunch, we decided to try one of the food trucks outside the convention center. We opted for the BBQ truck. The pulled pork sandwich was so good!
100_1789 2013-08-15 14.37.00
Our next stop was the playtest hall, where we played a game called Champions of Olympus, which involved moving around Olympus and doing quests for the gods.
Champions of Olympus
Champions of Olympus
I really enjoyed it and ended up winning, though I always get into deep thought mode with new games because I’m both trying to figure out how to play and trying to strategize. It wasn’t so far over my head that it was an issue, but I was still in concentrate mode. This was about the time that I also ran out of steam and started feeling tired.
When the game was done, I walked with Jon to his AEG training, then I wandered around by myself for about an hour and a half. I grabbed an iced tea, read for awhile, checked out the auction, and did another lap before finding a sitting and waiting in a spot closer to the parking garage. I had to perch somewhere since my phone was dead by that time, and I wanted to give Jon a location of where to find me when his game was done.
We had tickets for a concert that night, but we decided to give it a pass. We weren’t out any money and we would have had to wait for two more hours for a concert that wouldn’t be done until midnight. As fun as it sounded, I wanted to rest and be ready for the rest of the con, part of the whole “healthiness” of vacation. No so healthy…we got back to the room and ordered pizza and wings, but I had no guilt and the food was delicious.
It was so nice being able to walk around with no back pain. My only issues involved a little bit of soreness in the feet and knees, but that was from standing in one place on the few occasions we had to.  The other issue was that after we’d been sitting for a period of time, I was stiff and limpy for the first few steps. But once I got going, I was fine and didn’t need to stop. No rests for back pain this year!  I’m still walking at a snail’s pace, but you know what? I’m completely okay with that.
We finished day 1 of GC feeling good and happy!
A.

Zombie Gaming

Last weekend we had a zombie themed game day with friends.

We started the afternoon out with a new game our friends picked up.

I'm sure a board game can effectively prepare us for the zombie apocalypse
I’m sure a board game can effectively prepare us for the zombie apocalypse

The game is timed and only goes so many rounds, but there are ways to make it different each time you play, namely by choosing different characters, playing with a different number of people, and flipping the board pieces for different locations.

IMAG0275
Setting up the survivors…
IMAG0276
…and bringing in the zombies!

 

There are no writing on the cards or characters other than the names. It’s all conveyed with the use of symbols so it can be played across different languages.

Second, we played Zombie Munchkin. Munchkin in general has become a staple of our gaming sessions, but the Zombie one is a little bit different because you play as the zombies trying to fight the humans. I wasn’t completely sold on it at first, but now I love it. IMAG0277

We finished off the night with some Left 4 Dead on the Xbox, and by “we,” I mean J. Felbs and Tony O. Originally we planned on a four person game, but then we found out that L4D doesn’t allow for four players. Which is all good, because after watching the first few minutes of the game, I realized that it wasn’t a game for me (I’m really slow and not accurate when it comes to first person shooters). But watching was fun, and I chilled with C and played some MtG instead.

Another successful gaming night in the books!

Ticket to Ride

Last night, J. Felbs and I gathered with friends for dinner and some gaming. I’ve been watching Tabletop on Geek and Sundry, and it’s definitely revved my interest in trying out a few new games.  Our friends have “Ticket to Ride,” so we pulled that one down off the shelf and played a round.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on, and then I spent most of the game trying to figure out how to make my routes. In the beginning, I only had one I couldn’t make, but then I decided to do a last minute grab for some extra points.  I feel like there should have been some strategy on my part, but there wasn’t. It was all about building up some railroads and cutting other people off.

I was blue. It’s okay to note that I don’t have much of a railroad at all. I did manage to get some points, but in the end, J. Felbs was the victorious one. It was still a lot of fun, and it kind of cracks me up that Sault Ste. Marie is on the map…but in a good way!

Hopefully we’ll get to play this one again sometime soon.