Game Review – Qwirkle


My friend got a new game for the holidays and we finally had a chance to sit down and play it a few weeks ago. It’s called Qwirkle – a silly name for a clever game. It’s won a bunch of awards and was featured on Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show, Tabletop, which is where we heard about it.

Game play is pretty simple. Each player receives a “hand” of 6 tiles. The tiles have a variety of shapes in a variety of colors. Players place their tiles on the playing space to make lines of tiles that all share one attribute, for example they are all yellow or all share the circle shape. This is where the strategy comes into play. A single line cannot have any duplicate tiles and a line that has exactly one tile of each shape in a single color (or a tile of each color in a single shape) earns extra points. Qwirkle reminded me a little bit of Uno, a little bit of Scrabble, and a little bit of Dominoes, but it’s a fun, unique game all its own!

The game box says it’s for ages 6 and up. It’s simple enough for a kid to match up the shapes and colors, but there’s enough strategy to keep a teen or adult interested. The box also says it’s for 2 – 4 players and I wish I had read that prior to playing. We played with five people and it got a little complicated and time-consuming with five of us. I would recommend sticking to the 2 – 4 player limit.

Qwirkle is a fantastic game for a small group with simple rules and quick game play.

A Summer of Science!

This years Summer Reading Program was such a BLAST! (Sorry, couldn’t help the pun.) With a theme of “Spark a Reaction,” we had some fantastic science-related programs in which teens…

…made all-natural cosmetics by hand.
lip gloss

…caused some chemical reactions.
Pop Bottle Rocket

…and learned how sweet science can be!
Ice Cream

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Everyone agrees; Eleanor, the new girl, is weird. She has bright, red hair and freckles. She’s chubby and she has a seriously broken sense of style – like she wears a man’s tie in her hair. Park takes momentary pity on her and shares his seat on the bus with her. But they don’t talk to each other; they just sit in awkward silence. For the whole bus ride. Twice a day. For weeks.
Park is, like, the only Asian kid in all of Omaha. (His mom is from Korea.) He’s quiet. He loves Alan Moore’s Watchmen and listens to the Dead Kennedys. He wears a lot of t-shirts with punk bands on them. But his dad’s family has lived in the neighborhood forever and Park was friends with the popular kids when they were all little. So, even if he is a little offbeat, the other kids pretty much leave him alone.
Eleanor has no such saving grace. Her stepfather has lived in the neighborhood for years too, but everyone knows he’s no good. And it’s not her fault that her family can’t afford a telephone and all her clothes come from Goodwill. As awful as her school life is, it’s a hundred times better than her home life.
These two lovable, relatable characters meet, stare at each other awkwardly, and start to fall in love in the most heart-wrenchingly sweet and quirky love story EVER. Seriously. This book beat up my soul and made me cry. And I couldn’t stop reading it!
eleanor and park



We recently added about 30 new games to the Teen Room’s game collection! We got a bunch of classics like Battleship, Clue, Yahtzee and Pit. And we also got some less well-known games like Once Upon a Time, Qwirkle, 10 Days in the USA, Munchkin, and Give Me the Brain! Stop in and play a game!

Game Review – Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice might just be my new favorite game!  It’s quick and easy and you get to devour people’s brains!  Ok, there’s no actual brain-devouring, but it’s still a lot of fun!

The game comes with 13 six-sided dice (with varying amounts of brains, footsteps, and shotgun blasts depicted on each) and a dice cup.  That’s it.  That’s all you need.  If you roll a brain, yay!  You ate someone!  Go you!  If you roll footsteps, they got away.  Phooey!  If you roll a shotgun blast, oh no!  Someone fought back!

Each turn starts with a player rolling three random dice from the dice cup.  Put any brains you’ve rolled to one side.  Put shotgun blasts to the other side.  If you’ve rolled three blasts, your turn is through.  If you have less than three blasts you may go again and roll a new set of three random dice, but keep in mind if you reach three blasts in a turn, you’ll lose all the brains you have to the side.  If you choose to play it safe and hand the dice cup over to the next player before you reach three blasts, you may “bank” the brains you’ve acquired this turn and add that number to your score.  The player who eats 13 brains, wins!

Zombie Dice is recommended for ages 10 and up (but I’ve played it with younger) and for 2 – 8 players.  It’s a quick play, pretty addictive, and a tad on the darkly silly side.

Fantasy Function

For the next four week I’ll be showing a series of fantasy films. No, not  The Lord of the Rings. Before Peter Jackson blew everyone out of the water with that trilogy there were so many good fantasy films. Conan the Barbarian, the 1983 version with Arnold Schwarzenegger, is one of my favorites, unfortunately it’s a bit too violent for general consumption. But if you want to see Arnie at his best, in one of his first starring roles you can’t do much better. Fun fact: Arnold and many of the other actor do most of their own stunts and many of the stunts were not planned out that well, so when you see someone running from a pack of dogs they are really running for their lives. In summation, Conan the Barbarian, definitely worth a look.

Conan aside, I’m starting the series with Willow, another childhood favorite starring Warrick Davis, who played Wicket (the Ewok) in Return of the Jedi, and a young Val Kilmer. Before Lord of the Rings, I firmly believe that Willow set the standard for fantasy films. Special effects, a great cast, and an original story. Can’t miss.

Comics Books – A New Age

For those not in the know, Both Marvel and DC have recently rebooted their entire line up of super heroes. This means that now is a great time to get in on the ground floor with some iconic characters. With DC’s New 52 and Marvel NOW! reboots the writing has been improved … the characters read like actual people talk, which was a long running joke among comic fans.

For better or for worse some the characters have been changed. For example, Superman is no longer then worlds strongest All-American boy scout; which, in my humble opinion makes him and his book 1000x more tolerable. There is added diversity to the line ups in Marvel and DC and it doesn’t feel artificial.

Long story short these books have been re-vamped, re-drawn, and re-written for a new age (literally, we’re entering a new age in comics – golden , silver , bronze, etc.). If you haven’t picked up a super hero book in years (like myself) or if super heroes have never really been your thing, give these a chance. Things have changed.

Boxers & Saints … Not what I expected … much, much better.

So … I just finished reading the graphic novel duology Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. The artwork was misleading, I have to say. Though, to be fair, the series is a bout the Boxer Rebellion an incredibly brutal and violent event that happened in China during the turn of the last century (1898-190X). I guess what I’m saying is that I had some idea of what the book was about and was amazed at the graphic depiction despite the “cutesy” illustration style.

All the same this is a great work of historical fiction in a fun and extra-readable format. History doesn’t have to be boring and these books are proof. Kung-fu, political intrigue, and a peek into everyday life in late 19th century China are all wrapped up in a neat package of historical fiction that is Boxers and Saints. You can look online for a summary; and you can read about the awards Mr. Yang won for these books; but if you don’t read them, make no mistake, you’ll be missing out.

Find it at your local library: