Monday, November 5, 2018

Games and Puzzles

I can't think of a single argument why we shouldn't play games. Games and Puzzles are a great way to interact with your friends and family. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a little friendly competition during game night? Here are some great games and puzzle you may want to consider for your next gathering.

Photosynthesis by Blue Orange Games is a 2018 Mensa Select Winner. And 2017 Golden Geek Best Family Board Game Nominee. The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadow of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don't forget that the sun revolves around the forest. This green strategy board game is great for ages 10 and up!

Forbidden Desert by Gamewright is a thematic sequel to Forbidden Island. Players take on the roles of brave adventurers who must throw caution to the wind and survive both blistering heat and blustering sand in order to recover a legendary flying machine buried under an ancient desert city. For ages 10 and up.

A game for the 18+ crowd is Bards Dispense Profanity: a Party Game Based on the Works of William Shakespeare put out by whysoever games. This is a party game in which you use direct quotations from Shakespeare's plays to propose answers to mock-serious questions. It's a hilarious game about playing irreverently with words and meanings.

A puzzle recommendation from boswellian Conrad: Vintage Library by Phat Dog  "Perfect for the holidays. It has all the elements that make working a puzzle fun."  This 1000 piece foil stamped puzzle would make a great gift for the puzzle lover in your life.
Another new party game is Coaster games by Ginger Fox. This is a set of 25 double-sided cardboard party coasters. Worthy of adorning any coffee or dining table, this eclectic collection of games and challenges will keep visitors of all ages entertained, puzzled or simply in hysterics!

And for the younger crowd:

Where's Mr. Wolf? by Blue Orange Games is an entertaining cooperative game for ages 4 and up. Work together to help all the farm animals get back to their barns for the night before Mr. Wolf comes around!&nbspKeep an eye out for him as you flip over the animal tokens. Every time you find Mr. Wolf, he creeps one space closer, and every time you find a farm animal, try to remember to which barn they belong. Fill the barns before Mr. Wolf comes around, and you all win!

Monkey Around: The Wiggle & Giggle Game by Peaceable Kingdom for ages 2 and up. Monkey Around is a wonderful first board game for kids that was created specifically for you and your two year old. Kids love getting to move about while playing a game!
And last but not least, these 500 piece puzzles from Hanmade Milwaukee make a perfect gift and souvenir! Easy enough for kids, but challenging for serious puzzlers. Interesting shaped pieces and unusual sizes make this a great family activity at the cabin or cottage-or anywhere, anytime!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From Boswellian Jen Steele - Why I Love the Kopp Sisters Novels

I admit it. The first time I saw Amy Stewart’s book Girl Waits with Gun, I judged it by its cover. In fairness, though, it’s an eye-catching cover. This thing pops. Plus, I’m a total sucker for historic novels, especially starring strong women who refuse to conform to the expectations of their time. Constance Kopp is the middle sister of three real women who lived at the beginning of the twentieth century, and she is just the kind of woman I love to read about. She was strong in a time when women were expected to be meek. She was a trailblazer, the kind you never hear of or find in history books. Add on top of all that an engrossing, mysterious tale, and I could not put this book down.

It's 1914 and the world is changing fast. Yet Constance and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, live a quiet life out in the country. They tend to their farm animals and chores and go into town only when supplies are needed, until one ordinary day, when an automobile crashes into their buggy while in town. The reckless driver turns out to be Henry Kaufman, an ill-behaved Industrialist, the spoiled brat heir to a local textiles fortune, armed with his very own gang. Following the crash, his constant threats and harassments shatter the Kopp sisters' quiet existence.

Constance could easily have backed down and hid out on the family farm until the whole thing had been forgotten. But she won’t let her family be taken advantage of. Still, Henry Kaufman runs with the wrong crowd, and soon bullets are flying and bricks are crashing through the Kopps’ windows.

Constance does not back down. Instead, she learns how to shoot and intends to use her gun, if needed, to protect her family. All Constance wants is justice for the car accident. But as she chases after justice, a whole new world is opened up for her. Once she has a taste for making things right, she can’t stop.

I am not a big mystery reader. I definitely gravitated to this book more because of its historic angle, though I can see how some will classify it as a kind of light noir, or perhaps even fit it in with the cozies, though to me it doesn’t feel like that’s the heart of the novel. Rather, it’s this funny, quirky world based around the sisters’ relationships to the town and to each other that drew me in. There’s Constance’s homing-pigeon loving older sister Norma, who marches to the beat of her own drum and has no time or interest for anything going on in town. And then there’s Fleurette, Constance’s younger sister who wants to be a star – she’s pretty, feminine, a wannabe actress in love with the theater and all the gossip around it. And then there’s Constance, who I can best describe as the Bea Arthur type (there’s a great scene of her beating up a quite unsuspecting tough guy) whose strong will drags all of them into the center of attention in town.

I’ve read along as the series has continued. Stewart’s Kopp Sisters continue to chronicle women who, just by being themselves, rather than what they are told, broke into the boy’s clubs of nearly a century ago. Like the journalist Constance meets in the second book who’s trying to get out of writing a paper’s ‘women’s interest’ column and into the hard news on the front page. Or the paralegal who wants to become a lawyer, definitely not a woman’s job. The Kopp Sisters series is a great alternative look at history and the women decided to live their lives the way they want!

Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company


Amy Stewart appears at Boswell for the Kopp Sisters series on Wednesday, August 22, 7 pm. Tickets are $17 and include a copy of Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit, or upgrade to the forthcoming (available September 11) Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions for just $24. Purchase your ticket at