Category: Reviews

How To Train Your Dragon 2: The Review

Well, the movie’s been out for a couple of weeks now, so I feel it’s only right to finally get around to posting this: a review of How To Train Your Dragon 2.

The plot of the movie, without really giving too much of the story away, focuses on Hiccup becoming an adult and discovering more about himself as he discovers more about the world he lives in.  This movie’s set five years after the first one, and Hiccup is 20 years old at this point – an adult, but still the same Hiccup we grew to knew and love in the first movie.  There’s a lot about HTTYD 2 I want to talk about, so I’ll get the non-spoilery stuff out of the way first.

how-to-train-your-dragon-2

First off, I’d like to gush about the graphics.  I’ve watched both movies pretty much back-to-back lately, and it’s very obvious how much technology has advanced since the first movie came out in 2010.  The textures look so much more real, the characters look more lifelike – at times it felt like I could just step through the screen and into this lush fantasy world.  And, strangely enough, the first thing that stood out to me when it came to just how much technology had advanced was Stoick’s beard.  It looks far better in HTTYD 2, much more realistic…

stoic_vastly_different
It’s not just the beard. Stoick in his entirety looks much better this time around.

Another thing that I absolutely loved about the movie was Toothless’ antics.  When he wasn’t a central character in a scene, he was still stealing the show in the background, with his silly antics and ridiculous cuteness.  I loved him in the first movie, and I love him even more now.  And I’m incredibly glad I’ve seen the movie twice – because I won’t lie, there may have been times where I was paying more attention to Toothless goofing off in the background than I was to the main plot.

How can you not love that face?
How can you not love that face?

After the jump, there will be spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, and don’t want to spoil the story for yourself, don’t read any further!

Read More

Book Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly_Dreaming_DexterI’ve been a fan of the Dexter television series for quite a while now – a friend of mine introduced me to it in 2009, and I binge-watched the entire series up to the current episodes (middle of season 4, for those curious) in about two weeks.  And I’ve been a loyal fan since.  I’m re-watching the series with Ross right now, as he’s never seen it, and Mr. Crafty Nerd isn’t too terribly fond of Dexter – so I hadn’t had a chance to re-watch it since the end of the series.  And it got me thinking – I know there are Dexter books.  I should read them, because I need new things to read.  So, I signed out Darkly Dreaming Dexter from my library’s e-book collection, and added it to my summer reading list.

For those of you who’ve watched the series, this first book should feel familiar, as it was the basis for season 1.  The characters should be familiar to those who’ve seen the series, although some names and roles were changed.  Some of the most prominent characters in the TV series are background characters in the novel, but you can definitely tell that the show’s producers were faithful to Jeff Lindsay’s renditions of the characters.  We’re introduced to Dexter Morgan – a serial killer who only hunts down the dregs of society, thanks to the code instilled in him by his adopted father Harry.  We learn a little about his life as a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Police, we take a peek into his personal life with his girlfriend Rita and her kids, and we also get a glimpse of Dexter’s Dark Passenger – the voice inside that urges him to kill.  The “villain” of this novel – the Tamiami Slasher (who TV show viewers may know as the Ice Truck Killer) – has been murdering prostitutes and depositing them all over town, and Dexter becomes utterly fascinated by the killer’s work.  I won’t get too in-depth into the rest of the story, as I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who end up reading it, but for fans of the television show, you won’t be disappointed or bored.  The story, while familiar, is still gripping, and there’s just enough difference between the show and the book to keep readers entertained.  If you’re looking for a good summer read that’s on the darker side of things, or if you’re a fan of the show and miss having a little bit of everyone’s favorite serial killer in your life, I recommend this book.

 

HabitRPG: Where doing laundry gets you experience points!

One thing that I am horrible at is building new habits – and sticking to them.  Sure, I’ll wear my Fitbit for about a week, excited about all the data it provides to me about how far I’ve walked and how many times I woke up in the middle of the night, then forget it at home one day… and sure I’ll say “I’m going to read ALL THE BOOKS this year” and then, without fail, end up on the computer all weekend and watching Law and Order to fall asleep.  Or I’ll start a craft project, work on it for a few weeks, and then go “oooh I should start another Doctor Who scarf” and forget about whatever it was I was working on completely.

Well, HabitRPG sets out to change that.

habitrpgYes, that’s my little tiny character, clad in leather armor, brandishing a sword.  I need to keep up my good habits in order to earn a helm.

The premise is very simple – build habits and complete tasks, earn XP and gold pieces to spend on in-game goodies to keep you from losing too much health should you forget to complete a given task in a day, or to redeem for real-life privileges and treats.  When you log in for the first time, you’ll see four columns – Habits, Dailies, To Do, and Rewards.  You’ll also see a little pixel version of your character up in the left hand corner of the screen, which you can customize to your liking.  HabitRPG will suggest some habits and daily tasks for you, as well as suggest some possible rewards you can give to yourself – the first thing I did was set up some habits that I’m working on (like wearing my Fitbit every day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, bringing my lunch to work) and also add some daily tasks I wanted to make sure I did every day (including reading a book for at least 30 minutes, and spending an hour away from the computer – which you might think is easy, but when you work in IT, your entire life is computers!).  To-do comes in handy as a reminder list that also earns me gold and XP – and the Rewards section is where you can go spend your gold.

habitrpg2

Don’t think that it’s just a cute way to remember to walk the dog and mail out the bills, however.  There are QUESTS.  (Or, as HabitRPG calls them, challenges.)  Yes, you can compete with/against other HabitRPG warriors for the potential to earn goodies while building good habits!  Which is pretty awesome.  And you can randomly get pets – I picked up a wolf egg when I checked off one of my dailies today. 😀

And so you don’t have to go it alone – you can create parties, join a guild, and more.  I’m currently going it alone, as there’s no easy way to share a link to a party so others can join, but if any of you readers join up, shoot me a comment on here or on the Facebook page with your User ID (which can be found either here or here, but you must be logged in) and I’ll add you to my party!

So, for those of you who have some trouble sticking to new habits, or just want to find a new way to make doing all that laundry exciting, give HabitRPG a try! I’m enjoying the heck out of it, and may have freaked out a little when I neglected my chores for a day and though “nooo, my little warrior is going to die if I don’t clean!”, heheh.

 

Tiny little review of a tiny little game: Love Letter

Last night, I had the opportunity to play a new game – it’s a short and sweet little game called Love Letter.  Michael and I played it while at dinner at the local Chinese buffet place – because why not have a little game with your dinner?

51Z6pBcHybLThe premise of Love Letter is simple – Princess Annette is pretty darn popular, and has quite a few suitors wanting to get a love letter to her.  However… she’s locked herself in a tower, and it’s your job to try and cozy up to the people closest to the princess in hopes of getting your letter to her.

61QKHd7QoBLThere’s a small deck of cards with various people from the castle, with different numbers on each card.  The number indicates how close that person is to the princess.  Each card also has a condition on it – for example, the Priest card makes it so another player has to show you their cards, and the Countess card has to be discarded if she’s caught with the King or the Prince in the same hand (scandalous!) – these conditions can make game play pretty interesting.

At the end of each round, whoever has the highest numbered card in their hand gets their letter to the princess, and they earn a token of her affection (which is a little tiny red cube).  Once a player earns enough tokens, they win the princess’s affection (and therefore the game).  The game can be played with 2-4 people, and the amount of tokens needed to win changes with the amount of people playing.  For two players, you need seven tokens to win.  It’s a pretty quick game to play, especially depending on what cards you end up with.

Michael and I managed to play through an entire game in a half hour – I was wiping the floor with him for a chunk of the game, as I kept getting lucky and getting the princess card (I mean, how much closer can you get to the princess when you’ve got the princess card?) – however, then Michael kept getting cards that made it that even once I’d gotten the princess card I’d have to discard it (and therefore lose the round, because the princess card’s condition? When discarded, you lose the round).  In the end, Michael swooped past me, captured the princess’s affections, and won.  I was so close, too – I was two tokens shy!

So, in short, this is a good little game to play if you’ve got a little bit of time to kill and want a small game to play – the entire game fits into a bag roughly the size of a dice bag, and doesn’t take terribly long to play.  It’s also pretty entertaining, too, and is pretty inexpensive to boot!  You can find it here on Amazon.

So, in short, The Crafty Nerd’s verdict?  Pretty darn awesome, and I suggest you give it a try!

 

 

Book review: Anything Goes by John Barrowman

I’m going to preface this review with the following: I need to read more.

I’ve fallen into a sad habit of watching too much television lately.  Sure, there’s lots of wonderful television shows out there!  Doctor Who, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Farscape, Firefly, Archer, 30 Rock, Mad Men… but I used to read so very much!  When we moved to Bloomington, I signed out a giant stack of books and read through them in a week!

So I’m going to challenge myself to read more – and I’m also going to talk about the books I’ve read, too, in hopes people discover new books to read.  And I’m going to start with a favorite of mine.  (A favorite that I should really buy my own copy of.)

2013-04-20 10.19.49

 

Anything Goes by John Barrowman

This was an incredibly quick read!  And an incredibly enjoyable one.  If you’ve watched Doctor Who or Torchwood, you’re familiar with John Barrowman – he plays the incredibly awesome Captain Jack Harkness in both shows.  (He’s also in Arrow, but I haven’t seen that yet – I don’t have cable, and live off of Hulu and Netflix, and missed out on the start of it, sadly)  This book tells his story – from when he was a kid, to his experiences as a teenager, all the way through to his time on Doctor Who and Torchwood.

Read More

How to Make Your Own Dragon

2013-03-24 22.09.21I’ve noticed that people keep coming to my site to look at all the various Toothless plush that I’ve made (well, the one plush, and the one crocheted Toothless) – and I just now realized I don’t have any links to where I got the patterns or inspiration for these awesome dragons!  So,  this post is dedicated entirely to where to find out How to Make Your Own Dragon.

Read More

Tiny Review – Vanellope von Schweets talking doll!

I will proudly admit that I am a huge fan of Wreck-it Ralph.  I’m pretty sure that’s no surprise at all to anyone who follows my blog.  I’ve got quite a few Wreck-It Ralph figurines – there was a set of them I received as a holiday present from a close friend, and there’s a couple of Vanellope figures I picked up, and I’ve also got an awesome Wreck-It Ralph poster – and a Vanellope plush as well!  I’m eagerly awaiting March 5th, when the DVD comes out – of course I’ve got it preordered.  So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that when I found out Disney made a talking Vanellope von Schweets doll, I had to have one of my own.

It took a while to actually track one down – before the holidays, every Disney store I visited was out of talking Vanellopes.  I visited three stores in two different states, and no luck!  (I did manage to get the plush Vanellope in Syracuse, NY, however, so it wasn’t entirely a waste!)  Then, when I finally did find a talking Vanellope…

Vanellope from Toys R Us…she was $50.00.  And talked a lot about getting her hair done, and had some ridiculous hair extensions.  Granted, yeah, this was the Toys R Us version, and not the Disney Store version I’d initially been looking for, but I was definitely shocked by the $50 price tag.  I’m not going to lie – I almost bought her, but realized $50 would also buy a lot of My Little Ponies, and talked myself out of the purchase at the time.  I’m glad I did, because I found the version I was looking for on the Disney Store’s website, for half the price of the crazy hair-extension version, and I had a 25% off coupon too!  So, I picked her up, because it was a lot easier for me to justify dropping $20 on a talking doll instead of $50.  And on my sick day at home earlier this week, she came!

Vanellope, boxedI’m not going to lie, I de-boxed her almost immediately.  I am a horrible toy collector, I de-box all my toys.  It saves space, and honestly, why collect if you can’t have a little fun with your toys?  So yes, I freed her of her box (which was a very nice box, definitely made for displaying, if you’re into that) and instantly started poking her to make her talk.  She says around 10 different phrases, and they’re all straight from the movie, I think – definitely in Sarah Silverman’s voice.  I recorded her talking a little bit, for those curious…

She’s definitely nice and loud, as you can tell, and she says some of her catch phrases from the movie.  (Bryan and I are a little disappointed that she didn’t make any doody jokes, though.  Yes, we are apparently eternally 10 years old, haha.)   She’s put together really well, and stands on her own pretty well too.  She’s got a lot of styling product in her hair, though, and some parts of it are tied into place – I guess that’s to help it keep its style?  I’ve got no idea.  I do know, though, that I thoroughly enjoy this Vanellope doll, and I’m definitely glad I picked her up!  If you collect Disney memorabilia, or loved Wreck-it Ralph, you should definitely get one for yourself – you won’t be disappointed!