Friday, December 2, 2016

Graceful Living (EWTN Publishing)

The year is winding down and people are on the lookout for good books to read this coming year. One book that I would recommend is Graceful Living by Johnnette Benkovic. Graceful Living is a hardcover daily devotional in the truest sense of the definition. It begins with an introduction on how to use the book, such as using it in your time of prayer, saying each prayer slowly, and taking the time to reflect on the questions. Each day is then a page long and contains a quote from Scripture, a prayer, or a saint. There are then some short reflection questions for you to ponder. Here is one day as a sample:

January 5th
"A man must always be ready, for death comes when and where God wills it."

If today should be the day the Lord would call me home, would I be ready? What are my outstanding sins? Whose forgiveness do I need to ask? Whom do I need to forgive? What would be the last words my loved ones would remember me saying to them?

This is a very simple, but thoughtful devotional. It only takes you a few minutes for each day to read the page, but you should definitely take your time each day, as the wisdom and moments for reflection are vital for soaking up the teaching. I also like that this book follows the Liturgical Calendar. It doesn't just say, January 1, it says "Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God," and then the reflections correspond with the particular Feast Day. There are also profiles on specific saints sprinkled throughout this book. Don't let the cover of this book fool you. The flowers put me off at first, because I thought this was a devotion for women, but it is good for women and men alike.

This book was provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Imagine (Gamewright Games)

Today, I'm finishing up my week of game reviews of party games. These are games that can be played and enjoyed by both casual gamers or your family who never plays games at all. The game I am reviewing today is Imagine from GamewrightImagine is a game for 3-8 players, ages 12+. It takes approximately 30 minutes to play and retails for $15.

Setup
1. Arrange all transparent cards in a large circle.
2. Put the tokens within easy reach.
3. Shuffle the Enigma cards and place them face down in a pile.

Game Play
1. Draw an Enigma card. Have a random player call a number between 1 and 8,
2. Read the Enigma's clue aloud, i.e., Movie or Object.
3. Create an image that matches the Enigma using as many transparent cards as you need. (Notes: You can hide images of the cards with your fingers, combine cards, etc. You may not make any kind of noise that would be a hint, mime, or make letters and numbers with the cards.)

Scoring
The first player to guess the Enigma and the player who placed the transparent cards each earn one point and take a token in front of them. While there is no time limit, if no one guesses for a while, end the round and no points are awarded. Repeat the game play steps until each player has managed to get the other plays to correctly guess two Enigmas.

Review
I really wanted to like this game. The transparent cards with images on them to make more images is a very clever idea. However, I felt the images on the cards were much too specific. Instead of generic lines and shapes, you are given very specific images like umbrellas, cars, trees, etc. I will be the first to admit that I am not creative in the least, so I thought maybe the game just didn't resonate with me. However, I let my wife (who oozes creativity) try the game without giving her my thoughts on it first, and she too found the images much too specific and hampering. My son is unfortunately too little to play this game as it is intended to be played, otherwise I would share his opinion as well. If you can find this game on sale and have some kids 8-12, give it a try with them. If you, just want the transparent cards for re-purposing into something else, you might also want to get this game. Otherwise, I didn't really enjoy a game that I really wanted to enjoy.

This game was provided to me for free by Gamewright in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mad Libs: The Game (Looney Labs)

I was a big nerd growing up. Okay, let's be honest. I am still a big nerd. I love words and wordplay and always have. I played many games of Scrabble with family and friends. I also did a lot of word searches, crosswords, and Mad Libs. For those of you who don't remember, Mad Libs was a story that had a lot of blanks on it. One person would ask you for a noun, adjective, verb, etc. and fill in the blanks for you. Once all the blanks were filled in, they would hand you your filled in paper to read your hilarious and nonsensical story. Looney Labs has recently published Mad Libs: The Game. It is designed for 3-8 players, takes about 20 minutes to play, and retails for $20.

Setup
1. Shuffle the deck of Word cards and deal seven to each player.
2. Shuffle the deck of Sentence cards and place it in the center of the table next to the Word deck.

Game Play - The game plays over several rounds until one player gets 3 points and wins.
1. Flip over the top card from the Sentence deck and read it aloud.
2. Each player picks cards from their hand, providing one Word card for each blank on the Sentence card. (Note: The words must match the blank in terms of part of speech, i.e., noun, verb, etc.)
3. Players take turns reading the sentence they formed with their chosen words, making tense fit where necessary.
4. After all the sentences are read, players simultaneously vote on which sentence they liked the best, not voting for themselves. The winner receives one point.
5. Before you start the next round, players may discard any Word cards from their hand they don't like, and then re-draw back up to seven.

Review
Depending on how many people you play with, will determine how long the game takes to play. If only a few people, it's easy for someone to quickly get three points. If more people, it could take a little while longer. With 42 Sentence cards and 200 Word cards, there is also some degree of replay value in this game, as you will never get the exact same combination of cards in your hand to match the sentence card. With that being said, this game screams for an expansion of more cards, which seems easy enough to accomplish, if this game takes off. That being said, I think this game could have been better designed. Half the fun of Mad Libs is you never know what kind of sentence you are going to end up making. I would have made the Sentence cards double sided. On one side, it tells you what types of blanks you need to fill in, and then after everyone picks their word cards, you flip the Sentence card over and people reveal their sentences. This game is fun for kids and family gatherings, but it could have been better.

This game was provided to me for free by Looney Labs in exchange for an honest review.