Life

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My kids have recently discovered the joys of playing Life with Mommy.  We have the newer version, which is played a bit differently from how it was when I was a kid.  It’s still fun, though!  With my oldest being seven, I still have to provide a lot of guidance while playing.  Sometimes even I need to consult the rules.  I don’t think I’d try playing this game with a child younger than six.  The box says it’s for ages 9 and up, and 2-6 players.  The littler ones at our house enjoy driving the cars around while we play an actual game.

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Ages:

8 +

Apples to Apples

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Apples to Apples is one of my favorite games.  It is so much fun to play with a group, especially if you know some of the quirks of your fellow players.  It is a party game in which players have a hand of cards which are all nouns.  In each round, an adjective card is placed in the middle of table.  Each player chooses one card from their hand to either match the descriptive word, or be a funny answer (my preference).  The judge for that round chooses his/her favorite card, and whoever put that card down, gets a point.  You can decide ahead of time how many points you want to play to.  The box says it’s for ages 12 and up, with 4-10 players.

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Ages:

8+

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Wii

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Here’s another item that you can get for your Star Wars-, LEGO-loving child.  Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a Wii game that will satisfy both those obsessions in one fell swoop.  This goliath of a game has all six episodes on it, for your video-gaming pleasure.  The game is rated E10 and is for 1-2 players.  I find that setting a time limit works well for my boys, otherwise they’d play all day long.

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Ages:

School-Age +

Super Mario All-Stars – Wii

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I’m sorry that the cover of this game is so obscured by library stickers.  Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii is a trip down memory lane for many people my own age.  It has four classic Nintendo games (Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 & 3, along with The Lost Levels).  If you’d like to introduce your kids to what video games were like during your childhood, you will want to share this game with them.  I think I had more fun with it than my kids did.  Amazing how those nostalgic feelings come flooding in!  Bonus: it also includes a soundtrack CD.  All-Stars is rated E.

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Ages: All

Death on Naboo by Jude Watson

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of Death on Naboo before we took it back to the library, so the above is the best you get.  Another novel in the Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi series that we thoroughly enjoyed!

Ferus is now in prison, slowly wasting away, but still trying to plan his escape.  He learns that a former acquaintance of his, Clive, is also imprisoned and has been planning an escape for some time.  Together the two of them make a last-ditch effort to escape.  Meanwhile, Ferus’ accomplices are also planning to break him out of prison.  Their escape and rescue plans happen to overlap and they accidentally meet up and are able to work together to escape.

Naboo, Padmé’s homeworld is in the Empire’s sights as a world to be taken over.  Against the rules of the Senate, the Empire has been stocking weapons in one of Naboo’s main hangars.  Ferus travels to Naboo to keep Malorum from finding out the secret that he so desperately seeks.  He wants to destroy Darth Vader with it, but Obi-Wan warned Ferus that if that is allowed to happen, the future of the galaxy would be in great peril.  Malorum must be stopped!

Malorum makes it to Naboo and coerces the secret of Padmé’s babies from her grandmother.  Because of a staged power-outage he isn’t able to transmit the information and must carry it himself.  During the staged accidental explosion of the hangar (by Ferus’ accomplices and Naboo’s forces), Ferus confronts Malorum and the two duel.  Ferus is the better opponent and defeats Malorum, whose secret goes to the grave with him.

We very highly recommend the books in this series!  They rock!

Rating:

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Age:

School-age +

Underworld by Jude Watson

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I’ve gotten a little behind on our Star Wars chapter books.  We finished Underworld some time ago, and I didn’t bother to post about it.  We’ve just been enjoying our reading too much.

In Underworld, Ferus attempts to locate other Jedi at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.  It isn’t until he gets inside that he realizes he’s walked into a trap.  The Empire has spread rumors about the Jedi prison, luring free Jedi to their death.  In a sinister scene, Ferus encounters a room full of lightsabers, representing all those who’ve been caught so far.

Ferus and Trever then try their luck at finding a group of people called The Erased, those who’ve shed their identities and gone into hiding on Coruscant from the Empire.  They hear of a place called Solace and make it their goal to find it and see if any other Jedi are left.  In this adventure we encounter Dexter Jettster (diner owner) and a group of various other Erased.  They agree to accompany Ferus and help him with his mission.

The group makes it down to the crust of Coruscant, many levels deep, and finds someone to guide them to Solace.  What will happen next?

Another interesting thread to the story is the relationship and rivalry between Malorum and Darth Vader.

Rating:

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Age:

School-age +

Sequence

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The boys and I really, really enjoy Sequence.  It’s a fun game that is complicated enough to keep adults interested, but simple enough that kids can also play.  Not too many games like that.  Our set came with a deluxe rubberized mat.

Players place their chips on the spaces on the board by playing a matching card from their hand.  Jacks are wild–either regular wild, or anti-wild, which removes a card.  The goal is to get five of your chips in a row, and then they are flipped with the white side facing up so that they cannot be tampered with.  Depending on the rules you choose to follow, you can play for more than one five-chip sequence.  If we’re playing a serious game, we play until one player has gotten two sequences.

Rating:

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Age:

Elementary +

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

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The boys have gotten Kirby’s Epic Yarn from the library two times now.  They’ve requested that we buy a copy for ourselves.  We’ll see…they also want Skylanders for the Wii.  We had to explain to them that we can’t get everything we want all the time.  They will have to make the decision amongst themselves about which game they want more.

Kirby is a fun game for kids.  It has a story format, with levels like chapters in the story, and achievements sprinkled throughout.  The story is kid-friendly and the entire screen looks like it’s made out of fabric scraps, yarn and buttons.  Very cute.  It doesn’t take a super-long time to complete the story, so it shouldn’t be too frustrating for kids.  Mine have not gotten bored with it yet, even though they have repeated the story.  It can be difficult to find games that are appropriate for kids, but I think this one’s a winner.

Rating:

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Age:

Young elementary-age +

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

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This chapter of my life has come to an end…the chapter that revolves around three very thick books about the Inkworld.  I finally finished the last book in the Inkworld trilogy, Inkdeath.  This book was by far the most fantastical of the three.  Where the first book only hinted at fantasy elements, this book was absolutely drowning in them!  There really were very few elements that came even close to the mundane reality we know on our own little planet.  In case you don’t know which planet you’re on, it’s Earth.  Glad we got that squared away.

I believe that Inkdeath is my favorite book in the trilogy.  I love anything magical and, like I said, there is no shortage of that here.  The characters have come into their own–it takes a lot less convincing that these are real people living out a real reality.  The plot is more complex than previously.  By bringing in so many new characters, a more complex web can be woven.  There are still a few scenes that seem drawn out, but I was able to overlook them by reading quickly to get to the next juicy bit.

—Spoiler Alert—

In Inkdeath, Dustfinger is reunited with his lady love, Roxane, but finds out that one of his daughters has died and the other is aloof and living as a servant at the palace.  I just realized that I can’t give you a play-by-play for this book, or I’ll be typing until 3 a.m.  Here’s the quick, quick version.  At various times Mortola, Basta, Resa, Mo, Meggie, Farid, Elinor, Darius and Orpheus are all read into the Inkworld.  Mo becomes enamored of the Inkworld, playing a sort of Robin Hood role as the Bluejay.  Resa gets pregnant and wants to go home.  Meggie wants to stay and falls for another boy named Doria.  Mo makes The Silver Prince his mortal enemy and is pursued by him.  Fenoglio fancies himself in charge of the Inkworld and becomes depressed when he realizes that he is not.  Dustfinger’s character expands and becomes rather mystical.  Many new characters are introduced; sadly I can’t expound on them all.    Good guys win in the end.  :-)

I enjoyed the book, but it will be a one-time read and not one that I will re-visit to read with my own kids.  Due to lots of violence and liberal use of the word dam*, I recommend it for teens and older.

Rating:

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Age:

Teen +

Duct Tape Clipboard

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One last post tonight.  I just had to show off my boys’ new clipboards–they are awesome!  I purchased some Superman duct tape at Walmart to dress up a clipboard which we can post the boys’ homeschool assignments on.  (Which, by the way, has been working like a charm.)  One roll is enough to do two clipboards, if you do about seven rows of tape on each side.  My girls got Hello Kitty ones.  I’m also thinking about making some for our cousins, since they homeschool, as well.  A couple of other cool duct tape designs:

Batman

Camouflage

Snake Skin

Blokus

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I’m not sure why I held off so long on purchasing Blokus.  I guess the picture on the box made me think of Tetris, which I’m sorry to say, is not one of my favorite games.  I get very panicked when those pieces come down like rain and I can’t make them fit nicely.  Settle down heart, no need to race.

Ahem, Blokus is a fun family game that is not fast-paced.  I really had no reason to start hyperventilating.  Each player gets 21 pieces that they must attempt to fit on the board, while the other players are doing the same, at times trying to block or cut off their opponents.  The catch in placing your pieces is that your own pieces can only touch on the corners.  2-4 people can play.

We’ve found success letting our 4-year-old play.  Maybe she’s the exception to the rule; I dunno!  My kids love Blokus, and I think your family will enjoy it, too.

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Age:

5 +

Iron Man 3 DVD

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My brother borrowed us Iron Man 3 to watch at Christmas and we finally got around to doing it.  I confess to being dubious about movie franchises that seem to go on and on.  Some of them don’t know when to stop.  Thankfully, this movie was not one of those sorry sops that seems like a waste of a perfectly good jewel case.

—-Spoiler Alert—-

Iron Man 3 features a new, super-cool suit.  You’ll see how awesome it is in the first scene.  Iron Man’s nemesis is an extremist name Mandarin, who it turns out is really an actor parading for the camera, while the real Mandarin continues his nefarious deeds in the background.  The Mandarin’s ultimate goal is to produce “upgraded” people who look, quite frankly, rather freaky.  They have this innate ability to burn, for lack of a better word.  They also have the ability to become a sort of human bomb.  I think the bad guys are pretty awesome!

The fight comes home to Stark when he foolishly gives out his home address in an invitation to take the Mandarin head-on.  The scene where his home gets bombed and basically slides into the ocean is impressive and devastating.  I don’t really want to comment on all of the other events of the movie, except the final fight scene.  It was way, way cool.  All of Stark’s Iron Man suits join him in the fight against Mandarin and his cronies.  All the swooping, exploding, flying leaps and fighting makes you want to get up out of your seat and whoop and holler.  Depending on your surroundings, you may be able to get away with it.  The end is somewhat startling and left me feeling a little incredulous, with Iron Man essentially closing this chapter of his life, but it seemed fitting.  Definitely a winning movie that I recommend!

Rating:

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Age:

Teen +

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

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I just finished the second book in the Inkheart series, Inkspell.  I’ve found that I kind of waffled between getting absorbed in the story, and thinking that the reading was getting a bit tedious.  It’s was a like, like-not-so-much relationship.  The book starts out a little slow, but it does eventually find its groove and takes off running.

Mo, Resa, Meggie and Darius move in with Elinor and live a normal life for about a year before things start to go haywire again.  Dustfinger is read back into Inkheart by a man named Orpheus, a truly gifted reader.  His voice is like budda.  Orpheus fails to read Farid over with Dustfinger as he had promised, so Farid seeks out the others at Elinor’s abode.  He convinces Meggie to read the two of them into Inkheart, using the text that Orpheus wrote to transport Dustfinger.  The two of them find themselves in the Inkworld, and luckily they’re found by friendly people who make sure they get to Fenoglio.  Farid moves on and is reunited with Dustfinger, who has already reunited with his lady love, Roxane.  Back at Elinor’s, Mortola and Basta show up, bringing Orpheus with them so he can read them (minus Elinor and Darius) into the Inkworld.  Once there, Mortola shoots Mo, they find the Motley Folk, Fenoglio tries to play God with his story, war breaks loose, people are killed, etc.  There are too many events for me to recount.  Plus I’d rather you read it yourself.

Spoiler Alert!

Towards the end of the story, Farid is killed by Basta.  Dustfinger offers himself in place of Farid and dies.  Meggie reads Orpheus into the story at Farid’s request, so that he can hopefully bring Dustfinger back to life.  That’s where the story leaves off.  We shall see what happens in the next book.

Conclusion: Despite the slow start, once the book got going, I enjoyed it.  There are some characters who are easy to love (Dustfinger), and some who are easy to hate (Orpheus).  I like how some of the characters seem to be evolving and getting more complex.  Many new characters are introduced, which really strengthens the story.  I’m actually curious to see what happens in the next book–always a good sign when reading a book series.  The only issue I have is that on one page there is some bad language thrown in (the b*#!% word).  It seemed unnecessary and because of it, I’d recommend the book for older teens.  I’m a stick in the mud when it comes to exposing kids to swear words.

Rating:

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Age:

Older teen +

Enchanted Forest Game

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The kids received Enchanted Forest as a gift.  When I first saw the box, I wasn’t overly impressed.  The artwork looked slightly kiddish, and it appeared as though it were just a simple game that only the girls would enjoy.  Happily, that isn’t true.  The boys love it just as much as the girls do.

Players must travel around the board, looking under the trees to locate key items that have gone missing from common fairy tales.  During each round, all players are searching for the same missing item and must rush to the castle once they’ve found it.  Play is made more complicated by bumping other players off the board by landing on them, and changing the item being searched for when a double is rolled.

The kids and I all enjoy this game.  It’s accessible to the younger kids, but still fun for the older fossils.  Be forewarned though, your kids will want to play with the trees.  They are so cute that they’re impossible to resist.

Rating:

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Age:

4 +

Dark Warning by Jude Watson

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The boys and I have finished Dark Warning, the second book in the Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi series.  Book number three is waiting on a library shelf for us to come pick it up.  As usual, the book kept my boys nestled in close, listening spellbound to the action going on in this galaxy far, far away.

In this story, we pick up where we left off with Obi Wan, Ferus, and Trever.  They’re still on the run from the Empire, but learn that there may be other Jedi still alive.  Ferus has to learn how to work with The Force again, and see if he can pass the test to become a full Jedi.  His own doubts are the most difficult thing for him to overcome.  Obi Wan and Ferus have success in finding another Jedi and two more people (Toma & Raina) to join them in their quest to find and harbor fugitive Jedi.  The end of the book finds Obi Wan returning to Tatooine, and Ferus continuing his quest to locate the last remnants of the Jedi and bring them to a safe haven.  Ferus can’t understand why Obi Wan would turn his back on the Jedi, for some secretive mission.  Though the two worked together for a time to help plant the seeds of the rebellion, they must now part ways and pursue their own objectives.

Rating:

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Age:

School-age