Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: The Halfling's Gem (Contains spoilers)

The Halfling's Gem (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #6)The Halfling's Gem by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I usually try not to spoil anything in my reviews, I don't know if I can complain I mean, show my true feelings for this book without them. So here goes.

Now, this series hasn't become a classic because of its writing. Let's be honest, it's not fantastic. Salvatore has a lot of really weird names pop up in this series, such as The Sky Ponies, Icingdeath, Shimmergloom, Dagnabit, Pook, and (my personal 'favorite'), the mighty sword named "Twinkle". Even though I rolled my eyes a few times, I kept reminding myself that this is Forgotten Realms and it's allowed to be a little ridiculous every once in a while. Really, though, the quality of dialogue really isn't that great. I smirked a few times, but there wasn't anything too memorable.

Now let's talk about the characters for a moment. (view spoiler)[ This is book number six, so I should be used to it by now, but this group of friends is seriously lucky. "Oh, Catti-Brie got shot with a crossbow! Oh, it's only a flesh wound." I kind of stopped caring when they got injured, because it never really seemed to affect them in any way. Once, Drizzt is even able to carry Catti-Brie (who has to be at least a foot taller than him, by the way), over his shoulder, and still run and fight his way through a crowd of enemies. Sure, I get that they're supposed to be strong fighters, but there's only so much that the human (dwarf, elf, whatever) body can take, and I would have liked to see more consequence for their injuries. (hide spoiler)]

(view spoiler)[As for character development, I'm not really sure what to think. It was nice to see Catti-Brie more involved in this story, but the "romance" between her and Wulfgar seemed rather shallow. I still don't much care for Regis, though I feel bad for him because of all the crap he went through. Bruenor is as he always was. Drizzt goes through the same struggles as he has for the past while now, and it's getting kind of dull for me. Yes, he will always look the way he looks, and I kind of wish that he'd finally get some confidence and accept that. (hide spoiler)]

(view spoiler)[As an aside, was anyone else a little bothered by the hint of Catti-Brie being romantically attracted to Drizzt? I get that he's her friend and she admires him and all, but just... no. Stick with the close friend or father/daughter relationship, guys. (hide spoiler)]

Speaking of relationships, that was one thing that was actually pretty well done. The relationship between Bruenor and Catti-Brie, and the friendships between all the group, was probably the main reason why I kept reading.

Bottom line, this won't be one of my favorite books anytime soon, but it's a quick read and decent escapism. I'll pick up the next one just to see how the rest of the series will unfold.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Geek's Homeschool Curriculum

I'd like to have kids some day, and if I do, I'm pretty sure that I want to homeschool them.  Personally, I loved being homeschooled.  I think it gives a lot of room for creative curriculum ideas, such as these.  

Critical Thinking Skills - Chess

Chess is a classic game, and it can sharpen your mind.  Not only are the rules a bit complicated, but the strategy really takes some thinking ahead.  Why not make it a school activity?

Physics - Portal

I know I learned a lot about physics from playing Portal.  Sure, you might never have a portal gun in real life, but it teaches you a lot of the basic concepts.

Creative Thinking, Problem Solving - King's Quest VI

King's Quest VI is a tough game, but I still have fond memories of playing it when I was younger, even though I didn't actually finish it until I was fifteen.  Sure, by the time I have kids that are old enough to solve the puzzles in it, the graphics will be even more outdated, but there's some great concepts in there.

History - Doctor Who

Yeah, at its heart, Doctor Who is a sci-fi show, but The Doctor also travels to the past.  I'm not afraid to admit that a lot of my interest in historical figures came after I watched them in a Doctor Who episode.  A couple of these episodes just might be part of my homeschooling curriculum.  


Greek Mythology - Percy Jackson & The Olympians series

I knew very little of Greek mythology before I read these books.  Not only is it very interesting to learn about these mythological creatures and gods, but it's also cool to compare them to the one God.  On top of that, fanfiction is a *great start to honing your creative writing skills.    

*Yes, I know that some fanfiction is really bad, but as I said, it's a good start, meaning that eventually, you should probably move on to something else.

Simple Math - Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games

Dungeons and Dragons as well as many other P&P games have gotten a bad reputation, but really, all those dice rolls and modifiers and such are really useful for teaching you how to make quick calculations.  Besides that, it's fun.  

Alien Slaying Skills - Dead Space

Just kidding.  Mostly.

What creative methods would you use to teach important skills? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Bucket List Update

July is upon us already, and I only managed to post twice during the whole of June.  I'll try to be better  this month, I promise!  I'm playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion right now, which I'd like to talk about sometime, and I'm sure other ideas will pop up.  To start, I'd like to take a look at how I'm doing on my summer bucket list.  

Date With Dad: This didn't work out quite as I had planned, but it was still a great time nonetheless.  We had dessert at White Box Pies first (because life is uncertain), then went to Red Robin for dinner.  They're one of the few burger places nearby that offers gluten-free buns.  Yum.

Read Outside: I did this the other day.  For some reason, I especially love reading Cathy Marie Hake's novels outdoors.  I don't know why, but it just fits somehow.  

Go Hiking: I went with my brother, sister-in-law and a friend to Centennial Trail, where we kind of made our own path.  We also saw a little crawdad in the river by the trail.  We named him Miguel.  

Iced Tea with a Friend: I had a nice cup of iced tea with my mom and a few of her friends.  This is definitely an item that will have to be completed more than once, though.  You know, just for good measure.  

Portal 2 Co-op: I finally finished the standard courses with my cousin.  I'll probably play it again with another friend, because it was just that fun.  

Bubble Tea: I had the Thai flavor this time.  I think every new flavor I try instantly becomes my favorite.

I Love Lucy Marathon: It's official: I have watched every single episode of I Love Lucy at least once.  No kidding, this was a life goal for me.  

White Box Pies: As I said above, I've been there once so far.

Flower Hair Clips: I'm not sure they'll become a common part of my wardrobe, but they are really cute.

Pedicure: I've had one so far, but I'm thinking another might be in order before the season is out.

Read a Jules Verne Novel: I read Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I loved.  I'll definitely be adding it to my collection and checking out more of his work.

Visit The Buggy Barn: This was a fun outing with my mom, but didn't quite interest me as much as I had hoped.  I'm sorry, but I'm just not crafty enough to work with fabric well.

Evening Walk:  Walked for a while near my house, watched the sunset, and listened to this lovely song.

Drive With the Windows Down: This is kinda fun, but I'll admit that I prefer air conditioning.