Bri’s Favorite Holiday Things

Happy Holidays everyone! I love the holiday season, but I haven’t actually had the time to read many holiday-themed books this year. So here is a list of a few of my favorite holiday books, movies, video game events, and snacks!

Favorite All-Time Christmas Book

The Christmas Doll

This book is about two young orphans who work in a workhouse in London, and who escape to the streets after a fever sickens many of the girls. They loved a doll that was in the window of a nearby shop for months as they worked, and they soon find a doll that looks similar on the streets where they now live.

I recieved this book many years ago for Christmas, and I loved it when I read it. I can’t remember too much about it, but I am planning on rereading it soon and giving it a full review on here, hopefully before Christmas this year.

Favorite Recent Christmas Book

The Wish of Xmas Present: A Christmas Romance  (The Styles of Love, #2)

I don’t read a lot of Christmas books, and when I do read Christmas books, I rarely read Christmas romance novels. I find that they tend to be simply romance books with a tree or two, and then they call it a Christmas story. This is the second book in a series about two college professors falling for one another, and it revolves around the two and their relationships with their family. This was what truly made it a Christmas book for me, the focus on family and how that tied in with their overall relationship. If you would like to read my full review of this novel, please click here.

Favorite All-Time Christmas Movie

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Alright so I cheated a little bit here. My favorite Christmas “movie” is actually a ballet called The Nutcracker. Technically it has been made into a film several times or the actual ballets have been recorded and distributed as a film, so it counts to me! I personally used to take ballet lessons in elementary school and I performed in the Nutcracker at 8 years old as a soldier, so the Nutcracker will always put me in the Christmas spirit. The Nutcracker, for those who don’t know, is a ballet about a young girl named Clara who receives a nutcracker as a Christmas gift from her godfather. At night, when Clara goes to check on her new gift, she is swept away to a magical land full of evil mice, soldiers, and a handsome prince.

Favorite Recent Christmas Movie

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I’m not that big on Hallmark movies. I find them to be pretty boring and repetitive personally. But I don’t have a problem sitting down and watching them with my family when the Christmas season comes around. This Thanksgiving, we ended up watching this movie together, and I really enjoyed it. It is about a woman named Allie who is fired from her job as a maid in a hotel in NYC and is hired to be a governess for a princess in Europe. She takes the job because she needs to send money to her sister and brother who are still in school / looking for work, but when she gets there, she thinks that she is definitely the wrong fit for the job. Even though this movie was just as cheesy as other Hallmark films, I still enjoyed it a lot.

Favorite All-Time Holiday Game Event

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I loved Build A Bear Ville as a kid, and this is still probably my favorite Holiday Themed video game event of all time. I still remember waiting on Thanksgiving for Bearville to drop the holiday update so that I could get on with my little sister and we could skate our characters around the Ice Skating Rink while watching Hal and Holly movie that the company had released. I would also spend hours in the Mrs’ Claus cafe buying all the Christmas themed food items that I would sip on all year until the next Christmas so that I would never run out. This game, albeit simple, was probably one of my favorite games of all time because of all the fun childhood memories.

Favorite Recent Holiday Game Event

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Maplestory 2 is such a cute MMO that I love to play, and their new Kritias expansion is a perfect mixture of holiday cheer with a serious game expansion. This expansion has added a whole new map to the game and increased the level cap from 70 to 99, but it has also added an area called Happy Kritias that is completely decked out for the holidays. I wish that there was a cool mount like last year, but I don’t know if that will be available to unlock yet. I am definitely going to be spending a lot of time in Maplestory 2 in between streaming and finishing Darksiders 3. Follow me on Twitch to catch my streams!

Favorite Recent Holiday Snack

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I love Aldi, I love minty chocolate things, and I love pretzels. This perfect mix of sweet, salty, chocolatey, and minty, I just can’t stop eating them. Perfect movie snack!

I hope you all are having a good week, let me know in the comments what some of your favorite holiday things are. Thanks for reading!

Killing Floor 2 Review

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When I received Killing Floor 2 in a mystery bundle, I was instantly saddened. I personally am not a fan of horror games, so I thought that I would never be touching this one. Now, after playing it for 4 hours straight on Sunday, my opinion of this game has definitely changed for the better.

Killing Floor 2 is less of a horror game and more like COD Zombies. It has some blood and gore, but it doesn’t have jump scares and scary passageways. What also helps is that you are always playing with a team, so your focus is on the game and staying alive rather than on the creepy monsters around you. My only suggest would be to not play this game if you are afraid of clowns, this game seems to love the clown zombies the most.

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I think one of my favorite parts about this game is the different maps. The first map I played with my friend was a Christmas-themed one. The zombies didn’t look festive, but you were in Krampus’ lair. Creepy Christmas rock music played throughout the match, and little threats from Krampus to the elves were written throughout the workshop. Then, there was the Santa’s Workshop map where you escort a carriage with a bomb throughout the map. This one had the epic Christmas music PLUS Christmas-themed zombies! I think my favorite zombie on this map was the gingerbread man.

There is voice chat in this game, but it isn’t used very frequently. If you would like to just be able to play on a team without having to talk to people, that is fine as well. You will do fine on your own as long as you stay fairly close to your teammates or have upgraded guns. And the teammates in this game are pretty welcoming to newcomers, and the healers seem to also be fairly good. It was easy to get very sucked in!

This game also has a system of “perks” almost like Dead By Daylight. The more matches you play, the more XP you get, and you can add perks to your classes. This makes the overall game easier to play, and makes you want to stick with one class long enough to get more and more perks for it. This system also makes me want to play Dead By Daylight, which I have been putting off for almost two entire weeks!

My only real complaint would be that the bosses seem a bit repetitive. I know I have to up the difficulty, but I thought that there would be a bit more random-ness to the bosses. I played the game for 4 hours and had about 6 or 7 matches, and fought the same boss in 2 and then another boss 3 times in 3 different maps. Would be interesting to at least be able to see how the different bosses work and tick.

Overall, would definitely recommend this one. Follow my stream https://www.twitch.tv/briennaij to see when I am going to play this live next!

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10 controllers.

Borderlands First Impressions Review

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Borderlands is a game series known for being absolutely hilarious. You are a person who has gone to a place called Pandora to hunt for a mysterious “Vault” full of unknown treasures. The first thing you meet is a little robot named Claptrap, who helps you start off your adventures in Fyrestone. Then, a strange lady starts to speak to you, saying that she will help you find the Vault. It is up to you to meet the people of Pandora, and start your adventures on the planet of Pandora.

I have played this game for almost ten hours at this point, and I would say that I am around a quarter or so of the way through. Maybe a bit more, but it tends to take me a bit longer than average to finish games. I am enjoying it, even though I usually don’t play FPS games. The gameplay is fairly simple, and even as a person not skilled at FPS games I was able to pick it up and go pretty easily. This game has actually made me better at other FPS games, just by being able to practice in such a relaxed environment.

The world of Pandora, aka the Borderlands, is chock full of unique characters. I guess you could say that a lot of the characters you meet would be the “villains” of other games, but in this game they are the main NPCs. One of the first people you meet is Dr. Zed. He is honestly one of my favorite characters, next to T.K. Baha, but he is a doctor who has some…unconventional practices. He got his license taken away, and now he spends his time cutting up the corpses of those Vault Hunters who don’t manage to make it to the end of their trip. He has plenty of business, as no explorer has made it to the end yet. T.K. Baha is a weapons inventor who lives on his own and is missing a leg, and who lost his wife to the skag/wild dog Scar. There are many other characters, but these are the first two you meet, and are therefore not spoilers. But these two characters show you just how wild this game can get.

Overall, I have had a pretty positive first experience with this game. I am definitely planning on finishing this one.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 controllers.

Flowers and Keyboards #1: Her Elysium Review

Her Elysium (Flowers and Keyboards 1)
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Her Elysium is a romance novel by Emmy Engberts about two girls who find each other by playing an MMORPG. Fleur thinks that the tank of the guild is a cute guy named Alex, and she starts to fall for him before even getting the chance to meet him. To her surprise, Alex is a pretty girl who has been crushing on the talented healer who recently joined the guild. Fleur has never had a girlfriend before, but she can’t seem to stop thinking about Alex. She fell for Alex the person; does it matter if Alex is a boy or a girl? Alex knows that she and Fleur could work well together, but she wants to make sure that Fleur is ready for a relationship first.

I randomly stumbled upon this book, and I am so glad that I did! Not only is a LitRPG book where the author actually knows a lot about games, it is a really sweet YA romance novel! When I heard that Fleur was going to be a healer, I was bracing for the typical “gamer girl” stereotypes to come out. The healer can’t do anything, and so girls choose to be healers so they can rely on the guys in the game to do everything. Some girls might do this, but I personally don’t know any who have. Instead, Fleur is a really talented healer! Good healers have to make sure that they stay out of harm’s way while keeping the whole team alive. Fleur had to know the battles by heart in order to learn the boss’ patterns and be a better healer for the team. This is what real healers and people who play these sorts of games would do, and I was happy to see this represented in this book!

Back to the romance. I like that the author didn’t make this an ultra-sexual romance novel simply because the two characters were both female. In fact, she went on to discuss in the novel how people unfortunately believe that LGBT+ couples are more sexual than straight couples. Alex and Fleur were just two normal high school aged girls who liked each other and were happy going out with one another. They became close friends first because of the game, and then they continued to play as they fell for each other.

Overall, this has been one of the best F/F YA romance novels that I have ever read. I would definitely recommend it, and I am definitely going to read more books by Mrs. Engberts!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Video Game Tuesdays: Wandersong Review

Wandersong, a musical adventure game!
Reflink!

Wandersong is an indie game made by about a bard who goes on a mission to find the Earthsong and save the world. The Overseers are dying, which means that the universe is going to be destroyed and replaced by a new one. A rainbow-haired girl comes to our bard and tells him that if he finds the Earthsong, a song that each Overseer has a single piece of, that he will be able to save the entire world from chaos. Of course, our happy little bard agrees to go on this mission and he starts off to find the Overseers. Some Overseers are willing to give their song to the Bard, others do not. The bard will also need to make friends on his journey so that he can reach the Overseers and find the Earthsong, one of his first friends being a mean young witch named Miriam. Will the bard’s song work, or is he just on some meaningless quest?

I LOVED this game. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I ever finished a game. I really can’t I just don’t finish games that often. But I pushed through all the way to the end for this one, as I wanted to see what would really happen. I was so invested in the bard and Miriam’s story that I didn’t want it to end. There were so many touching moments, this story touches on a lot more issues rather than simply focusing on the normal story tropes. There wasn’t really any romance between the main characters, the story was a true journey of friendship and of people coming together as one. I appreciated this. It was funny too and I was literally laughing along with the characters!

The gameplay is a mixture of platforming and rhythm game sequences. There are no real challenges as everything can be redone if you make a mistake, and the rhythm games might not always sound “right” but you still get points for them. The focus of the game is the story, not the gameplay. If you are struggling, you are probably doing something wrong. Have fun with it, that is really the point of this game!

The game does have its glitches. I had to restart it 3-4 times in my entire 10-hour playtime just to get a few of the glitches to go away. I’m sure that the team is working hard to remove them, and I never lost progress because of them. Thank you autosave!

Overall, this was a beautiful little indie game. I am so happy that Humble Bundle gave me the chance to experience it for free with my purchase of the Monthly package, and I can’t wait to see what hidden gems come this month! 4 days more to go, I’m excited.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a casual puzzle game with unique and loveable characters and an amazing story. You can purchase this game from G2A for less than a dollar by clicking on the picture above!

Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

10 Things I Want to See in Animal Crossing for the Switch

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Finally, we are coming to the end of the Animal Crossing saga on Bri’s Book Nook! After going through all of the things that I didn’t like about the previous Animal Crossing games and all the things that I loved about the previous Animal Crossing games, I am ready to discuss what I am looking forward to/hoping for with the Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch release! Nintendo SAID that the game would be released sometime in 2019, but here we are, in April, without so much as a basic gameplay trailer. They have more of a trailer for Pokemon Sword and Shield that were just announced in February and aren’t supposed to be released until “late” this year. But I digress. Here we are, I’m still hopeful and excited, and here are things that I would like to see in Animal Crossing Switch!

1) A way to play Island multiplayer games with anyone without needing a Friend Code.

A Club Tortimer pass allows you to join islands and play minigames with random people from around the world. I know Club Tortimer exists in the 3ds version, but most people never got the 50 medals or never had the Club Tortimer pass appear in the island store. For example, I played the game for over 200 hours and only remember seeing the pass at the island store once, buying it, and never getting to use it.

If this was included in the Switch version once you pay the more reasonable amount of 1000 bells to unlock the island, more people would definitely use it. Nintendo parental controls can have the option of turning this off in the game if they don’t want their little kids to play with strangers, but the teen and adult fanbase should not have to resort to online forums in order to find people to play with.

2) A cool way of traveling to other people’s towns, like the hot air balloon idea from this video.

Each Animal Crossing game has had a cool way to travel to another person’s town for multiplayer. Whether it be a gate or a train, it was always a little fun cutscene to look forward to. In this Animal Crossing imagined video, the idea of having hot air balloons be used to transport players was brought up. I think this would be amazing, fresh, and something that players wouldn’t expect. Something awesome for this awesome new game that players have waited 7+ years for!

3) Igloos and tents for the villagers to live in during winter and summer!

I mentioned this in my Gamecube Love comments, and I will say it again. Allowing the villagers to live in their own little vacation tents during the “vacation” seasons was one of Animal Crossing’s cutest concepts that they never truly brought back. The campers from the campsite could even be included for the fall and the spring, it just makes the animals feel as if they have lives outside of their tiny houses!

4) Theater for in-game plays, movies, and KK Slider shows.

I never liked having KK Slider in the nightclub, but the coffee shop is definitely too small for such a star. Having a theater in-game would allow you to hear KK’s music on a proper stage! It could be a small concert on Saturdays, but it would still be in a proper hall. The game could also include clips or the Animal Crossing movie from 2006 in full to watch in the theater with your friends. Or the animals could put on little plays from time to time as a way to bring even more life to the village.

5) Options for your best friends to buy vacation homes in your village or on your island. 

I would love if my friends who visit my town often enough could buy a vacation home. They would be able to then use their own furniture or have furniture from my Nook store sent to that home so that they could decorate a little place for themselves to stay when they come to visit me. It could be locked behind some sort of visit number wall, like 10 visits and then the option becomes available. And of course, both parties would have to agree on a location. But it would be a cool little inclusion!

6) Villagers with original personalities. 

AI has improved so much in the nearly 20 years since the first Animal Crossing game was released in 2001. Nevertheless, I think some of the best personalities I saw were in the Gamecube version of the game. The villagers would hold grudges against one another, would have best friends, would have stories as to why they were lending items everywhere, and were generally sassier. Now, even the “Snooty” or “Mean” villagers are nice. I hope that the villagers’ original attitudes are included in this new version so that they can feel more alive instead of perfectly happy carbon copies of one another.

7) The inclusion of a new city with new shops.

I loved the city in City Folk, and I loved the new shops in New Leaf. Now, I hope that these new shops are incorporated into the Switch release, along with a few other ones, in the form of a city you can travel to by your own custom car. One new shop example would be an ice cream parlor where you can sit with friends, listen to KK Slider on an old jukebox, and buy some ice cream and other sweet treats. Or, it could be like a Japanese restaurant where everything is in Japanese and you can order traditional Japanese foods.

8) Allowing the player to customize their car to the city, boat to the island, and hot air balloon to other player’s villages. 

You could customize your van in Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, so I hope that the creators of the Switch version are planning on allowing you to customize your modes of transportation in this game. It would be such a neat little feature to choose from predrawn patterns and just add color or to be able to design your own car’s patterns.

9) In game multiplayer voice chat!

The Wii version had WiiSpeak, so there is literally NO excuse for the Switch version not to have some sort of voice chat almost 10 years later. You can use voice chat in Warframe, so I highly doubt that the creators of Animal Crossing would be foolish enough to allow this game to come out without adding options for voice chat.

10) Be able to draw your own patterns/designs for furniture. 

Some people have already figured out how to draw their own designs for furniture, so I am hoping that the creators will just make this a general feature. It would be fun for all ages, as those who don’t draw would be able to color their furniture to match the room, kids could make their drawings come to life, and artists would be able to truly customize their houses from top to bottom. This is probably the easiest feature to implement as other games already have the ability to design clothing, so the creators really should do this!

 

Thank you for reading, I hope Animal Crossing is announced for the Switch soon!