Stepping Stones

This is a charming story of city girl Jen whose family leaves the big city for the country and farm life. If farm life was not bad enough for a city girl, Jen also has two new stepsisters who live in her room every weekend. Stepping Stones (2020) centers on Jen and her sisters' life on the farm and their time spent at the farmer's market. Jen and her new sisters learn about the hard work it takes to run a farm and to be part of a family that sticks together. Overall, Lucy Knisley's story is uplifting and will appeal to readers of books like Smile and Roller Girl

Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition

If you love the original Cards Against Humanity, you will enjoy this family-friendly edition of the game. If you are new to Cards Against Humanity, the Family Edition is a great game to start with. This version is easily playable with family and friends and is a great way to spend an hour or two just making each other laugh.

The game is played by one person selecting a card with a statement and the other players filling in blanks in the statement with their cards. The first player reads all the cards out loud and gives a point to the one they like best.

What I like about this game is you can be silly, and there are a plethora of card combinations, so every game is unique. CardsAgainst Humanity: Family Edition (2020) is also a game that is great for parties since players can easily drop in and out of the game.


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Patchwork

Spending time at home is the new normal but being bored does not have to be. Try one of our many board games such as Patchwork (2018). It is a two-player game where players compete for swatches or pieces to complete their quilt. Players try to cover the most space on their game boards with Tetris style pieces while collecting buttons. The player who has the most buttons and most covered space in the end wins.

The two things I like best about this game is that it only takes 20 minutes to play and that it is designed for two players. If you already enjoy buttons, also try Love Letteranother game designed with two players in mind.


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Front Desk

Mia Tang is 10 years old, and the new front desk clerk at the Calivista Motel in California. Mia and her family are immigrants to America from China. Her parents have worked many years at many tough jobs since arriving in America, but believe their dream has come true when they get jobs managing the Calivista. The only trouble with their dream is their new boss Mr. Yao, who is mean and keeps finding ways to take money from Mia's family's paycheck.

Mia finds out at school about a chance for her family to win their own motel, but she must write an essay explaining why she and her family would be the best choice. Mia has to balance her life with school, work, and friends, all while trying to keep Mr. Yao happy. It is a tough job, but Mia thinks she can do it all.

Check out Front Desk (2018) by Kelly Yang, geared toward kids in grades 4-6. It's the first in a series, with the second novel expected to be released in September 2020.

This book is available to read or listen to on Overdrive—check it out today.


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Mad-Libs

We are looking for kids in grades 1-6 to share funny stories with the community. Please come up with a short 1-2 paragraph story with many of the nouns, verbs, adverbs, and other words you would like replaced with just the words [Noun], [Verb], [Adverb], [Place name] and so on in their place.

Send in your story for us to share on the website.

Play Mad-Libs sent in here.



GreedFall

GreedFall (Rated M) for the PlayStation and Xbox One is an RPG adventure that will appeal to players who enjoyed the Assassins Creed and Dragon Age series of games.  In the game, you are an ambassador for a congregation of merchants who are searching for a cure to the plague that has afflicted yours and other nations.  The hope is that an expedition to an island filled with magic and a native people who exalt the land will reveal a cure.  Once on the island, you may choose from many companions who will complement your play style—whether it be careful political intrigue, magical tactician, stealth advantage, or simply to use combat-based dominance.

Overall, the plot is intricate, borrowing from many historical events, such as the inquisition, colonialism, and westward expansion, to name a few.  The story drives the game forward and gameplay allows for all levels of players, including a mode that has easy combat and focuses on following the plot over the gameplay.  Do remember that the choices you make while playing will affect the world around you and that the available options for the game's ending will change based on your decisions.

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5-Minute Marvel

Play the fast-paced 5-Minute Marvel game that puts you in the role of your favorite Marvel movie and comic book heroes.  The goal of the game is to defeat a horde of villains bent on destroying the universe.  The villains start easy and get harder as you eventually fight your way to Thanos to decide the fate of the world.  Each hero receives cards with special powers and abilities unique to their hero, which will help in the fight.

With each battle allowed only five minutes (a time gem would be helpful), you will have to be as fast as Quicksilver to win these battles.  The 5-minute clock makes this a quick game that is great for parties and short breaks. There is some reading involved, which makes 5-Minute Marvel (2016) perfect for ages 8 and up.

Sleeping Queens

In Sleeping Queens, all of the world's queens have fallen under a spell forcing them to stay asleep. You will have to send your kings out to help the queens awaken, but be careful other players have knights and potions to steal your queens or to put them back to sleep.  You will have to be cunning to keep all your queens awake and safe.

One of my favorite things about Sleeping Queens (2015) is that an 8-year-old created it, and the fun way it plays shows that incredible passion a child has for games and silly happenstance.  This is a favorite game to play with my friends.  We all enjoy how quickly the game plays, and with simple rules, there are still some great play strategies.  The game is played with a single deck of cards and is quick to learn with no reading involved past the directions.  Some shape matching skills are needed to play; suitable for ages 6 and up.


Loot

Have you ever wanted to plunder all the treasures on the open sea?  If you find that the letter "R" rolls off your tongue as "Arrr," then Loot is the game for you.

In Loot, take on the role of a pirate captain and guide your crew to merchant ships full of treasure, but watch out for your pirate friends who want some loot too and will fight you for every bit of it.

The objective of the card game is simple, collect the most gold by the end of the game.  The gameplay is quick and takes about 20 minutes.  The game is for ages 6 and up, some simple math skills and color matching are needed.  If you want the thrill of the high seas matched with the fun of playing with friends, check out Loot.


Sinking City

This game will hit all the marks for fans of horror and H. P. Lovecraft.  In the game, you play Charles Reed, an ex-navy man and current hardboiled detective, who just arrived in the city of Oakmont.  The town flooded a decade ago and ever since strange events have been happening in the lives of the people who live in the town.  Life in Oakmont is even stranger as you discover that creatures lurk in almost every home.

Sinking City (2019, rated M for mature) is story-driven with half of your time spent in action and the other half spent hunting down clues and doing research through public records at places like the old newspaper offices and the library.  The other dynamic of the game that lends well to the Lovecraft theme is that of the sanity meter.  As your character looks upon the horrors that lurk in the shadows, he must be careful not to go insane himself.

Sinking City is available for checkout for PS4 and Xbox One systems.

Timeline: Diversity (2013)

A quick game and simple to play, Timeline: Diversity is easy to carry along in a small bag.  It goes great with car rides and vacations.  The cards depict an invention, discovery, or historical event on both sides, with the year in which the invention was created on only one side.  Players take turns placing a card from their hand in a row on the table.  After placing a card, the player reveals the date on it.  If the card was placed correctly with the date in chronological order with all other cards on the table, the card stays in place; otherwise, the card is removed from play, and the player takes another card from the deck.  The first player to place all of their cards correctly and eliminate their hand wins. 

Timeline: Diversity takes about 15 minutes to play and is good for ages 8 and up.  Check out Timeline: Diversity or other board games today.


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Forbidden Island (2010)

pic646458Take on the role of a team of adventurers saving priceless artifacts from a sinking island.  Your team must work together to secure the treasures and then make it off the island before you drown.  The game play is easy to pick up while providing more complexity for seasoned players. Each player gets a special trait based on the role they choose.  One example is the Navigator, who can move other players around the board on their turn.

If you like to work with a group or enjoy family games nights that end with everyone happy, Forbidden Island: adventure...if you dare is the perfect game choice.  The game takes about an hour to play and is suitable for ages 8 and up.

 
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Ex Libris (2017)

pic3578008Do you love the library? Have you ever thought about being a librarian?  Ex Libris is a board game that allows you to collect rare (and hilariously titled) books to create a library that may even land you the position of Grand Librarian.  But beware - there are pitfalls for all aspiring librarians.  You will have to make sure your collection is in alphabetical order, that your shelves won’t tip over, and watch out for books that are banned by the city council.

Each turn, you will have the opportunity to acquire books for your hand or place books from your hand onto your shelves.  The game ends when one player has a full shelf of books.  The game takes about an hour to play and is suitable for ages 12 and up.  If you like Ticket to Ride or Splendor, Ex Libris would be a great next game for you.
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Saga. Volumes 1-3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (2012-2014)

index.aspxIt is completely different than anything I have ever read. Every volume of Saga surprises me in new ways. I definitely recommend Brian K. Vaughan’s latest series for anyone who likes graphic novels and/or science fiction (and doesn’t mind mature content).

If you need any other motivation, check out io9’s list of 10 reasons you should be reading this series or this other review.