Calling All Witches and Wizards

Have you ever wanted to learn spells and charms? Have you taken every quiz ever written to determine your House? Have you dreamed about what it would be like to actually live at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Here’s your chance! The Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery app is here and it’s pretty enchanting.

(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

The Game:

You start off by creating and naming your character. The choices to start with are a little limited, but as you play and gain levels, more options for clothing, accessories, hair styles, etc. become available. And you can always go back and change your character’s hair color, eye color, skin color and facial features. So, don’t feel like you’re stuck once you’ve created a character. Also, you CAN make in-app purchases, but it’s totally not necessary. Anything that you can buy with IRL money can be acquired through gameplay. It might take a little longer, but where’s the fun in buying your way through a game anyway?

You will start off in Diagon Alley. The graphics are pretty darn good for a mobile app. There’s the Leaky Cauldron, Ollivander’s and Flourish & Blotts, among other recognizable settings from the books/movies. Other students and magic-wielders are bustling about the Alley. Here is where you meet your first new friend. She’s easy to spot as she has an exclamation point above her head. (Her name is Rowan in my game, but they may randomize the NPCs in different games. I’m not sure. If you play too, leave a comment and let me know if your details are the same.) Any NPC (non-player character) with an exclamation point or other symbols above their head has something to share with you. The game will let you know what things you NEED to click, but you can also try tapping random stuff like house elves and ghosts to see what happens.

When you arrive at Hogwarts with all the other frantic first-years, Dumbledore lets everyone know that the infant Boy Who Lived has been safely placed, and Voldemort is in hiding. It’s kind of cool to play in a pre-Harry setting. There are some familiar characters like Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and all the professors, but you get to experience a different story that centers around you.

Once in the Great Hall, you can choose your House. I, of course, chose Ravenclaw, because Ravenclaws are the best. It’s just a fact. There can be no argument. You can explore your House Common Room, the Castle Grounds and all sorts of places! Some doors will have Lock symbol on them. These rooms or floors can’t be used until you’ve reached a higher level.

You get to attend classes, learn spells, mix potions and even duel! Because, of course, there’s a nasty Slytherin bully. Also – surprise! – Snape is a jerk-face. As you explore the school and meet its students, you also discover a mystery involving your brother and the clues to solve it!

Tara’s Analysis:

Even though, the game leads you through your lessons by telling you who to talk to you and what to do to cast spells, I like that it’s not just a bunch of mindless clicking. As you go along, you’ll be asked questions and given choices, and some of the options are definitely better than others. Your answers will affect your gameplay. I’m glad that the characters are so customizable. There’s a range of skin tones and eye and hair colors. (Sadly, no green hair. I’m hoping that opens up at a later level. If Tonks can have pink hair, I should be able to have green!) Mostly, I love the scenery, characters and spells. The graphics are beautiful, the NPCs are engaging and the whole game just feels like visiting old friends and they are just as wonderful as I remember.




My Adventures in Free Comic Book Day!

Saturday was Free Comic Book Day!



This great mural is outside Rockhead’s Comics and Games in Kenosha, WI.


Every year, the comic industry releases a few dozen comic books specifically created for FCBD. Comic stores (and even sometimes book stores) can opt to receive (purchase) a limited quantity of each of these books that they, in turn, give away FOR FREE!


Some of the FREE titles available this year! Photo taken in Double Daggers Artisan Emporium in Kenosha, WI.

Many shops have additional events like sales or raffles or cosplay contests going on in tandem with FCBD. You can choose to spend the day at one or two stores to see all the cool stuff going on and hang out with other people who are just as into comics as you are. Or, like me, you can take the Gotta-Catch-’Em-All Approach and try to hit as many comic shops as possible to collect all the available FCBD comics released that year. Most shops limit how many individual books you can take to 2–5 comics per person. So, you have to go to a lot of stores if you want to get all 50 that came out this year.


More excellent artwork outside Vortex Comics in Milwaukee, WI.

Two friends and I go every year and we share our bounty, so we just need to make sure we get all 50 between the three of us – much easier! I usually call it “trick-or-treating for grown-up geeks” although, there are certainly a lot of families with little kids excited to pick out their free comics too.

This year, we only made it to four comic book stores, all located in Wisconsin. We almost got all 50, but the last two stores we went to were already out of the more popular titles, so we missed a few.

Highlights of the Day:

I found some back issues of some of my favorite series! These weren’t among the free comics, of course, but I was thrilled to find them anyway!

Wonder Woman was performing her hero duties at one of my favorite shops in Kenosha, WI, raising funds for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s.


Wonder Woman doing her part to defend those in need – Rockhead’s – Kenosha, WI

Magic: the Gathering Mana Boxes and ALL THE SUPERFIGHT!

Finding Neko Atsume plushie kitties!


Kitty Collector toys at Lost Worlds – Milwaukee, WI

Finding a real, live kitty! Boo the shop cat at Lost Worlds was not interested in my paparazzi act. But she did enjoy spending some time in a comic book box.


The End.



International Games WEEK!

So, everybody knows that Halloween is drawing nigh, but what you might not know is that International Games Week is nearly here also!

International games week

In past years you might have participated in International Games Day. Well, a day of games was so much fun that we’ll be playing games all week this year! It starts on Sunday, October 29 and ends on Saturday, November 4. There will be video games, Yu-gi-oh!, an Escape Room, Uno, board games and even an after-hours session of Dungeons & Dragons on Friday, November 3 featuring gaming, snacks, and a live performance by Dan the Bard! Parental permission slips are required for the after-hours program so make sure to register soon and get your paperwork in.

You may notice that there is nothing planned for Tuesday.  That’s because Tuesday is Halloween and we wanted to give y’all a day off to enjoy the holiday. However, if you don’t have Halloween plans and trick-or-treating isn’t your scene, you are more than welcome to hang out in the Vortex to play a board game, create a game-related craft-on-the-go, or check out one of the games in our card game Maker Kit! We have three Yu-gi-oh! Decks, three Magic: the Gathering decks, standard playing cards, and Uno. Just present a library card or school I.D. at the Vortex desk to check out any of our new Maker Kits.

Game on!




My last two blog posts have focused on the first two words of Fountaindale’s Summer Adventure theme, Create, Explore, Connect! And I hope you found a boatload of programs and services that called out to you. This week’s post is, of course, all about connection.

Image result for connect

We all know that the library is a great place to learn new things and develop yourself as an individual, but it is also an amazing place to connect with friends, your community and the rest of the world.

Dungeons & Dragons at Fountaindale!

Want to play a game of Yu-gi-oh with your friends? Want to soak your friends in an epic water war? Want to just relax with a movie and snacks? Want to meet other people who like anime, manga and fandom? Want to volunteer and give back to your community? Want to learn about another culture? The Vortex offers all this and more!

wild cards

Wild Cards Club Yu-go-oh! game at Fountaindale!

Just look at all the great stuff we have on our calendar! You can limit the age group to show you only programs open to teens. You can also browse events by category. Clicking on one calendar day will show you everything happening that day and clicking on the event name will bring up a page with more details and registration information.  

Go check it out and sign up for some great programs today!









International Games Day is back and better than ever! Join us on Saturday, November 19 from noon to 5:00 p.m. for non-stop gaming awesomeness! Make sure to eat lunch before you hit the library because you’ll need to keep your energy up for THREE tournaments and so much more!

We’re going to kick off the day with our annual Connect 4 Tournament at 12:15 p.m. We’ve seen some serious strategists over the years. Will you be a contender this year? Register here to reserve your spot!

Image result for connect 4 tournament 2016

B-9? B-4? A-4? You sunk my LIFE-SIZE BATTLESHIP! Come sail the high seas and knock your opponent clear out of the ocean! Tournament runs from 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. You can register here.

What day of tournaments would be complete without Mario Kart? Join us for a 2-hour (3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Mario Kart extravaganza! This one is sure to fill up fast so don’t forget to register.

Other Fun Stuff
D&D Q&A – Our fabulous Dungeon Master, Jason, will be on hand all day to answer any questions you might have about the fantastic worlds of Dungeons and Dragons.

Trivia Wheel – Spin the wheel to find a category. Ask a question about such topics as Manga, Science, or Gaming and win a piece of candy! Ooo, piece of candy!

Opportunities for Games Galore! – We’ll have our library of board games out and ready play. With so many gamers around, it shouldn’t be hard to find another Yu-gi-oh! Player for a duel or a group for a quick game of Settlers of Catan! Feel free to bring your favorite Collectible Card Game deck!

New Club!

Do you play YuGiOh?  How about Magic: the Gathering?  Pokemon?  Any other Collectible Card Game that I didn’t mention?  

If so, bring your deck to the Vortex after school on the first Thursday of each month.  Challenge old rivals and new allies alike to duels.  

No need to register!  Just drop in and play a round or two of your favorite CCG!
Club meets on the first Thursday of each month from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.




Game Review – Dragonvale

Dragonvale is a simulation game app for iOS and Android devices.  Annnnd… (imho) it’s pretty rad.  You can download it for free from your App Store of choice.  (There are Special Items for sale through in-app purchase, but they’re totally not necessary to play the game and have fun!)

dragonvale intro

Here’s the premise: you have a dragon park.  People come to visit it.  They give you dragon-cash that you can use to improve and decorate your park, thus drawing more visitors and dragon-cash.  Gain levels.  Get bonuses.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

dragonvale dragons

But, the Dragons though!

You start off with a single dragon.  But you can breed this dragon with others to create literally hundreds of different kinds of dragons.  You may have heard of The Four Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.  In Dragonvale, there are dragons that correspond to these elements plus Light, Darkness, Lightning, Cold, and Galaxy, among others.  You send two dragons to the Breeding Cave.  They disappear for a period of time (rarer dragon eggs take longer to breed) and, when they are done, you have a dragon egg!  It will go into your hatchery to incubate (again, rare dragons take more time) and they you have BABY DRAGONS!  Feed your dragons to make them bigger and stronger, attract more dragon-cash, and have better odds in the breeding cave.  

dragonvale habitats

What I Like about Dragonvale

Various aspects of the game remind me of other games that I’ve enjoyed (like Flight Rising, Neko Atsume, Doodle God, and Meow Meow Star Acres) and blends them seamlessly.  I like the “gotta catch ‘em all” part of the game, but I LOVE the puzzle aspect – trying to figure out which dragons to combine to create new dragons.  You can find friends via Facebook or email invites and then share gems with them, borrow their dragons for breeding, and visit their parks!  Also, for a small-screen game, the graphics are pretty good (dragons = adorbs!) and they update with new dragons, new special events, and new decor pretty regularly!  

Check it out!  

And then friend me!