Saturday, April 30, 2011

Your Friendly Local Game Shop: Amazing Wonders Gaming & Hobby Center

I believe there is a strong community of folks in the gaming and comic book world that needs to be cultivated. Your Friendly Local Game Shop (or Your Friendly Local Comic Shop) will provide a way for     me to highlight such places and give an in-depth review of the store based on the following criteria:
  • Initial Impressions
  • Customer Service
  • Atmosphere
  • Selection
  • Value
  • Online Experience
  • Overall Score

Join me as I venture to these meccas of geekdom.

148 W Tiverton Way STE 150
Lexington, KY 40503

Hours: M - Th 10 am - 9 pm
Fri - Sat 10 am - 11 pm
Sun 1 pm - 6 pm
Facebook | Twitter

A few weeks ago I was told about a new game shop by a friend. Shortly thereafter, a Facebook friend “liked” their page and I decided to check the store out and it was inside this store where the idea for this blog feature was born. Lexington has few stores which solely cater to the needs of gamers. Amazing Wonders sells board games, card games, game accessories such as dice, and hobby/science kits. A selection of beverages and candies also aid a gamer in his or her quest for ultimate awesomeness. Because this is a new feature, I took some pictures on my iPhone, so forgive the poor quality. I'd like to take some better pictures in the future and make that a definite part of the blog.

Initial Impressions: 5/5

Amazing Wonders is located on Tiverton Way among a hodge-podge of restaurants, offices, and specialty stores. The location is plagued by short lived businesses, so I'm very happy to see such a unique business go in there. Not only does AW sell games, they also specialize in hobby and science projects as well. One thought I had upon visiting the evening of 4/29 was how busy the store was. It was great to see so many people out for their nightly events. It was also nice to see that the store was so clean and neatly organized.

Customer Service: 5/5

Staff members greet you at the door and ask if you need help with anything. If you need to ask a price, everyone answers and obliges with courtesy and professionalism. They make it their point to help you and make sure that your experience is the best ever. They fulfill special orders and will place items on hold for you. The staff is also very pleasant on the telephone when calling for inquiries. I can't say enough great things about the staff at Amazing Wonders.

Atmosphere: 5/5 

Amazing Wonders is much more than a game store; with the event center in the back, a true sense of community is fostered there. Jason Ratliff, owner of AW explained that while many of the games that are played in the store are competitive, he wants to encourage people to socialize and have fun with other gamers. “Gamers have games in common,” he said, but many of the people that you would interact with [in the game store] aren't people you would meet in your day to day life. Customer turned employee Ben Parks said that AW is a place where you can go and everyone will call you by name, that it has a friendly, but competitive atmosphere.

The store is aesthetically pleasing. The store is spacious and games are neatly arranged, with many popular titles facing outward for ease of shopping. There is an interesting contrast in the lighting in the store and in the event center, with the store lighting creating a subtle, homey feel. The store walls are painted orange and the event center walls are a vibrant green, which create excitement. Jason explained that he didn't want the store to feel like a dungeon.

Selection: 5/5

The store has a wide selection of both popular titles and more obscure games. They sell many different types of board games, card games, as well as role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Jason said that Magic the Gathering, Arkham Horror, Flux, Dominion and Dungeons and Dragons are among the most popular titles that are played and people meet up to play them on a weekly basis. If you can't find something you're looking for, the staff will place a special order for you. Island shelving units highlight popular games such as the Game of Thrones board and card games as well as the RPG. There is also a large display of Cthulhu and Lovecraftian horror games. In addition to the games themselves, they offer a wide array of game accessories like Chessex dice and dice bags. I'm a fan of pretty dice and was pleasantly surprised at their dice selection, which includes full sets, D10 sets, and individuals.

Value: 5/5

For a new, independently owned store, I found their prices to be extremely fair. Their merchandise was priced comparably to other stores and close if not the same as MSRP. For the selection, prices are great.

Online Experience: 4/5

Amazing Wonders has a website, but it's not quite full of goodies yet. There are some pictures, and pertinent information like hours and location, but it would be cool if they listed inventory or specials on their site. I think it would also be neat to be able to place orders or submit hold requests via the internet. A lot of their focus has been on their Facebook page. Their Facebook feed posts to Twitter and I think it would be cool if they incorporated Twitter a bit more in their marketing.

Overall Score: 4.8/5

Amazing Wonders has pretty much anything you could possibly want from a gaming store. I was hesitant to give them 5 of 5 in so many areas because this is my first review, but Jason and the folks down at the store really deserve it for all of their hard work. It's a great place to shop if you're a gaming nerd or newb alike. If you're a newgamer, come out to the weekly events and sit at the beginners table.

Amazing Wonders is a place for gamers by gamers. Jason said that he's been gaming for a very long time and wanted to create a family-friendly (but also adult-friendly) atmosphere for kids and adults alike to open up the box and delve into a game. The store is adult-friendly in that many of the players for the Magic the Gathering event were dressed in their 9 to 5 clothes. While the female population wasn't huge, it was a lot more than I'd seen in other stores. You can grab some food from a nearby restaurant and make yourself at home in the gaming center.

Have you been to Amazing Wonders? 

Let me know what you thought of the store in the comments below!

View my other images of the store on Flickr.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Geek Girls Book Club Kicks Off Sunday!

Whether it be by Kindle or Nook, hard cover, or mass market paperback, it's hard to deny that there is just something exciting about reading a good book. Many of my favorite books are historical fiction, romance, and paranormal, but I'm willing to give every genre a try.  I'm currently reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and am nearly halfway done with A Game of Thrones. As I said in my post on The Lord of the Rings Director's Cut, I'm a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, though I've never actually read his epic trilogy. On Sunday, I'll begin reading The Hobbit as a member of the Geek Girl Book Club.

The Geek Girls Book Club is composed of women and men from the Twitter and Facebook communities who want to show Ginia Bellafante, columnist for the New York Times, that girls like fantasy fiction too. If you've been living under a rock for the last two weeks, on April 14, the NYT published her "review" of Game of Thrones, the new HBO series based on Martin's epic fantasy fiction works. However, what was published wasn't even really a review at all. It mused as to why Game of Thrones was actually on the network and its difference with The Sopranos, a long since ended series. It also accused women of not liking the fantasy genre.
"The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half." Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, April 14

With this review, and the outrage that it created, the Geek Girls Book Club was born. It started as a simple hashtag on Twitter. Then @NikkiSticks began organizing this wonderful opportunity for women and men who are born of the same geek cloth to come together and prove that a love for fantasy fiction (and reading in general) exists and that a woman will choose The Hobbit over a romance novel in their book clubs. There are now over 100 members of the Geek Girls Book Club Facebook group and around 70 on Goodreads. The excitement is building and on Sunday, May 1, everyone will begin to read The Hobbit.

Not only this give many an opportunity to re-read a classic, it also gives some an opportunity to read The Hobbit for the first time. I will be among the first timers and I am very excited. Leila from Within Pages will be participating in the Geek Girls Book Club as well, so keep an eye on posts from her. Join the conversation by searching #GGBC on Twitter, join the Goodreads group here, and find us on Facebook. I'm looking forward to reading this book, but I'm also looking forward to the friendships that a group like the Geek Girls Book Club will create.

Check Kentucky Geek Girl for updates on the GGBC and for more opportunities for girls to let their geek flag fly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lord of the Rings Director's Cuts Coming to Theaters

I'm a fan of The Lord of the Rings. The series was originally released when I was in high school and my mom and I saw all three films together. The cake for my 17th birthday was even Lord of the Rings themed. Excitement is building for The Hobbit movie and I'm getting ready to read The Hobbit as part of the Geek Girls Book Club. Definitely a Tolkien fan. When I read @amy_geek's tweet earlier that the LotR Extended Editions were going to get a theatrical release this year, I was stoked! Then, I did some research on and it looks like there's not a chance of the movies coming to my area.

Over three weekends beginning June 28, 2011, AMC Theatres will show Director's Cuts of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and the Return of the King, respectively. This will help build excitement for the Blu-ray release of the same films this year. There isn't a lot of information about this theatrical event yet, but will be providing more information as it is available. Currently, there's just a shell of an event listing for the movie events. Sadly, however, it looks like the closest AMC Theater to Lexington, where I live, is Newport. That's so far away the Find a Theater tool won't even bring up the listing. Sad times.

It looks like AMC is bringing back a lot of movies for "one night only." What are your thoughts about these special movie events? Are they a great way to build hype about Blu-ray releases? Do they allow a new generation to experience a movie on the big screen?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stuff That Doesn't Suck (2)

Stuff That Doesn't Suck at Kentucky Geek Girl

Stuff that doesn’t suck is a meme hosted by Pam at Bookalicious where we graciously share with you the things that we come across in a week that don’t suck. This includes a variety of things from books to music to youtube and even more. Feel free to join in on the comments or on your own blog.

Song That Doesn't Suck

Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man

It was a tough pick for this week. There are a lot of songs that I'm all about right now, but Little Lion Man is just one of those songs that you hear and instantly want to listen to again. I think it has a lot of heart, but there are some sarcastic elements to it as well. Just listen to the lyrics. I interpret it as a guy talking to himself about the love that he had, but totally f&%$ed up. It's like you have this love to give and it's in your heart, but everytime you get close to expressing it, the worst happens. Just my interpretation. Regardless, it's an amazing song. I can't wait to check out more from Mumford and Sons.

Cupcakery That Doesn't Suck

BabyCakes Cupcakes opened its doors in Lexington, KY in April 2009. They only use all-natural, organic ingredients for their cupcake creations and offer gluten free options. Their cupcakes are absolutely divine and have so much flavor. BabyCakes offers over fifty flavors and even have Cocktail cupcakes with a hint of your favorite alcohol. Best of all, BabyCakes is totally committed to the community. They offer donations for local events (such as my museum's Scary Night at the Museum Halloween event) and do donation days where their day's sales go toward causes such as flood and earthquake relief. The owners, Trish and Keith are a delight and it was really nice to see Trish today when she came to my work to deliver a cupcake display for a wedding!

BabyCakes Cupcakes
153 Patchen Drive, Suite 57B
Lexington, KY

Photo That Doesn't Suck

Yes, that's a funnel cloud...

So, we've been having some pretty severe weather here in Central KY for the last week or so. Last night, things really ramped up and when they said that a system that had a history of tornadoes was passing into my city, I got a bit freaked out. I love storms, but it was still pretty nerve-wracking. Thankfully, a friend let me come over and hang out with him while the storm passed. While it didn't actually touch down here in Lexington, we did get to see a funnel cloud. This picture was taken by a friend. You can follow his weather tweets at @WatcherWolf_KY.

Gaming Shop That Doesn't Suck

I am working on a series of posts called "Your Friendly Neighborhood Game Shop." I wanted to give a a shout out to my new favorite store in Lexington. Amazing Wonders Gaming & Hobby Center is a new store in Lex, but has already made a great name for itself. The folks there are friendly, they have a large event center and the store is clean. I was able to find a pretty set of d10s for our Vampire game. They take special orders and have a huge selection of Role-playing games, Card games and other hobby items. Look for my post about them soon! Meanwhile, check out their Facebook!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Primeday, Primeday!

In the last month and a half, Rebecca Black's Friday video has garnered over 100 million views on Youtube. While most comments ridicule her very existence (she's been getting death threats,) that infernal song is actually growing on me. Actually, I'm more fond of all of the parodies that have been made of the song. One such parody by Teddie Films brings the song into the Star Wars universe. Besides the Rebecca Black parody, they also have a Star Wars themed version of the Ke$ha Tik Tok video. With Tik Tok, I would have preferred that they write original lyrics, but it was still pretty funny. A friend described it as "terrible," but I say that it's "terribly awesome."

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Awkward Embraces Rolls A Nat 20 in Awesome

Let's face it, dating isn't easy. It can be difficult, uncomfortable, but most of all, it can be awkward especially if you're a geek girl. Not only can asking someone out or being asked out be an absolute chore, but then there's the date itself! It's so hard to find someone who truly appreciates all of your interests and who won't run screaming from a conversation about Star Trek. Come on, nerdy girls need love too! Finally, there is a series which shows the difficulties that your typical lady geek goes through to find her Number One. Awkward Embraces is a web series from Project A Productions which encapsulates perfectly what it's like to be both awesome and socially awkward at the same time. Show of hands, how many of us can relate to that?

Jessica Mills, creator of Awkward Embraces, stars alongside Candis Phlegm and Lyndsey Doolen as they create the Three Musketeers of Geekdom. Jessica, who Candis describes as a “geek boy's dreamgirl,” loves Star Trek, video games, and all things geeky. She wears Star Wars t-shirts proudly and loves throwing in obscure pop culture references into everyday lingo. Her friends love her, but don't always get what she's talking about. (Such is the plague of a geek girl, unless all of your friends are geeks too!) The show, now in its second season, is honest and cleverly written and if you've ever had a bad date, you can totally relate to girls' dating highs-and-lows.

One such low is recounted by Jessica in Season 1's Fourth episode titled “The Morning After.” After meeting a guy at a mutual friend's party, she goes back to his place and “accidentally has sex with him.” Also in season one, Candis is set up on a blind date by her mom. In season 2, Lyndsey reconnects with an old friend who has less than savory intentions for their reunion. The situations that the girls go through in Awkward Embraces aren't too far-fetched to not be something that might happen to one of us. Candis, Lyndsey, and Jessica seem just like any set of friends. They're totally there for eachother, but not afraid to tell it like is is. When Jessica asks if she's a dirty slut, Lyndsey says, “Yes, you are, and it's awesome, right?”

Awkward Embraces is an independent web series. The show is considerably successful to have such a small financial backing; funds for Season 2 were raised on IndieGogo. And while it looks as if the show was filmed in the girls' own living rooms, that actually contributes to the personality of the show. Jessica is a sort of “everywoman” who lives out our own trials and tribulations. In fact, a neat feature of the show's website is viewer submitted dating horror stories. Maybe I should submit the story about the guy I went on a date with who was the self-proclaimed best healer on his realm in World of Warcraft?

The show is currently on hiatus, but that gives you plenty of time to go back and watch all of the episodes from Season 1 and the beginning of season 2. You will literally laugh out loud at some of the awkwardly realistic moments. Meanwhile, check out updates on the show's website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can also follow Jessica, Candis and Lyndsey on twitter! Oh, and Candis is totally awesome! (She didn't tell me to say that.. I promise!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Portal 2 Released Today

"It's been a long time, how have you been?" the mechanically feminine voice of GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System) asks as the camera pans around the wreckage that was left upon you beating the first Portal game. The first teaser trailer for Portal 2 was released mid-2010 and the day has come: Aperature Science is back. I've not yet played the demo, but I'm very excited for Portal 2.

From the Steam Portal 2 store page:
Portal 2 draws from the award-winning formula of innovative gameplay, story, and music that earned the original Portal over 70 industry accolades and created a cult following.

The single-player portion of Portal 2 introduces a cast of dynamic new characters, a host of fresh puzzle elements, and a much larger set of devious test chambers. Players will explore never-before-seen areas of the Aperture Science Labs and be reunited with GLaDOS, the occasionally murderous computer companion who guided them through the original game.

The game’s two-player cooperative mode features its own entirely separate campaign with a unique story, test chambers, and two new player characters. This new mode forces players to reconsider everything they thought they knew about portals. Success will require them to not just act cooperatively, but to think cooperatively.

For those who do not like playing a game alone, Co-Op mode sounds like a really fun and challenging experience. As soon as the game was released last night, MikeB aka Fony from ZAM's BFF Report and live streamed co-op mode on

his channel.

Portal 2 is available for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. You can download it on your PC through Valve's Steam client for $49.99.

GLaDOS is still alive. The cake is still a lie. Aperture Science carries on for the good of all of us, except the ones who are dead.

In honor of the Portal 2 launch, here is my song of the day:

"Still Alive" by Johnathan Coulton AMV featuring Azumanga Daioh

You can even drink your own Portal cocktail! Get the recipe at The Drunken Moogle.

Have you played Portal 2 yet? What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coming Soon: Your Friendly Neighborhood Game Shop

I love visiting game stores. When I went to Louisville last year, my friends and I checked out a shop there and it was really cool. My best friend Leila and I happened to visit two of our local game stores on Friday afternoon and ran into a distinct contrast. While visiting the second, I had an epiphany. My site is Kentucky Geek Girl and yet I haven't really talked about Kentucky at all. Why don't I start reviewing game stores here?!  Leila agreed that it was a brilliant idea and thus "Your Friendly Neighborhood Game Shop" was born.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="302" caption="Image courtesy of Google Image Search."][/caption]

I plan to visit each of the game stores (and comic book stores) of Lexington and talk about their pros and cons, discuss special features, and include pictures. I'm very excited to undertake this project! I'm currently putting together a list of all of the stores in Lexington (and even those in surrounding cities) so I can visit and review them. Any suggestions on what I should discuss in the review?

Basic outline:

Name of Store
Phone Number
Website/Social Media

Brief Description

Should I include a rating? Let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuff That Doesn't Suck (1)

I'll be doing a new (and hopefully weekly) feature here on KGG where I take a look at some of my favorite things from the week: Stuff That Doesn't Suck. I was recently turned on to this idea by my best friend Leila and I've decided to adapt it to fit the style of my blog here at Kentucky Geek Girl. Stuff That Doesn't Suck, or STDs for short, was created by Pam at Bookalicious. She does hers on Saturday, but I'm not sure that I'll nail it down to one day in particular. Anyhoo, I'm addicted to random internet browsing and finding awesome new things so I am really looking forward to this series!

Without further adieu...

Stuff That Doesn't Suck at Kentucky Geek Girl

Book That Doesn't Suck
At the behest of a good friend, I started reading A Game of Thrones from the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I happened to begin reading it just before the HBO series premiere (It premieres tomorrow!!) and just before a scathing review was published in the New York Times by Ginia Bellafante. I whole-heartedly disagree with Ms. Bellafante's opinion that women do not enjoy fantasy fiction and that romance and sex was only inserted into the book (and subsequently the television show) to entice female readers/viewers. (P.S. There was such reader outcry against the review that the NYT had to disable comments on their site.) I'm only around 130 pages in, but I must say that I love this freaking book already. I think that Martin is creating a fantastic world. I don't have HBO, and I have decided to finish the book first, so I won't be watching the show right away, but I did want to post a little something about the TV series. I can't give a fair review yet, that will come later, but the only thing I can say without a doubt is: Winter is coming.

Web Series That Doesn't Suck
I absolutely love "Awkward Embraces" and I feel as if this show was made for me. I'm going to write about it in more depth in another post soon, but I did want to include it in my first STDs post. I'm a geek girl. I love Star Trek: The Next Generation, making obscure references, and playing video games and so does Jessica, the star of Awkward Embraces. The show, now in its second season, also follows her friends Candis and Lyndsey as the three friends experience dating highs and lows. Like I said, I'm going to write about the show in more depth later, but I definitely wanted to include it here! You can read more about the show here and follow the show on Twitter @AwkwardEmbraces. Watch episode 1 from Season 1 here.

What didn't suck for you this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

So what type of geek are you, anyway?

I've written a bit about Dungeons and Dragons as well as video gaming, but there are many more sides to this geek girl. I'm somewhat of a comic book geek, though I must admit that I do not currently collect any. I love X-Men and have fond memories reading Spiderman at the soda fountain counter of a drug store in my hometown. I am a history major and am a total museum geek. I love Renaissance Fairs and historical reenactments. I'm a music and movie geek as well. TV has always been a part of my personal geekdom with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: The Next Generation being among my favorite shows. I've just rediscovered my love for Broadway musicals and have been listening to them non-stop. Oh, I love languages and other cultures, too! I could go on and on, but why don't you just take a look at this diagram and decide what kind of geek you are. Leave a note in the comments section and tell me what you love!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gods & Heroes -- Beta Testing Initial Thoughts

I've been playing the in the Beta for Heatwave Interactive's new game Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising for a week or so now. As the title suggests, it is set in the world of Ancient Rome and incorporates not only historically accurate enemies such as Etruscans, but also enemies from legend such as Minotaurs and Gorgon. The game is classified currently as an MMORPG, but I have yet to see a system of naming conventions or the like for true Role Playing. I haven't seen many PCs in game, but the ones that I have seen have been very generic and akin to names that one would see in World of Warcraft today, e.g. Zombieassassin.

Character Creation

When you sit down to make your own hero, as is the case in many games, you first have to pick your class. There are four options available on the Beta: Mystic, Priest, Gladiator, and Soldier. It looks like two classes will be available when the game hits shelves, Nomad and Scout. Upon picking your class, you are then presented with two options, which will serve as factions in G&H. You are to decide which god or goddess from Roman mythology you will serve. For example, Gladiators serve either Fortuna or Jupiter. The choice of god or goddess helps to determine what some of your abilities will be. Mars grants a "purifying flame" and the ability to summon a fiery bird of some sort (assuming it's a Phoenix type creature.) I've only experienced Jupiter's "Wrath" ability so far. It's pretty cool.

[caption id="attachment_127" align="aligncenter" width="395" caption="My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius..."][/caption]

The third part of the character creation process is appearance customization. Your options here are fairly broad. There are several base faces per gender that you can choose from. Within that, you're able to completely customize each face. You can create any human race of your choosing. My first Beta character was a female gladiator named Katryona. I'm a big stickler for hairstyles but didn't see many that I actually liked. For Kat, I ended up with a low bun. It didn't really scream "gladiator," but it worked. What impressed me most was the facial features. The faces were pretty realistic, even if the hair left a bit to be desired.

Game Play

As previously stated, the game centers around the comings and goings of wartime Rome. You begin on the shore and you find out that your villa (Latin for village house) has been attacked by the enemy. Through a quest chain, you bring some of these foes to justice and find out about those who can aid you to face them. One part of this game that I find really interesting is the Minion system. The minion can function almost as a combat pet, essentially. There are apparently up to one hundred minions you can use to help defend yourself, as well as go on the offensive. It's definitely a unique system and you can earn minions through loot or quest rewards.

It's beta, so things were kind of slow, but I was fairly impressed with the quests that I've done so far. There was a great story and what drew me in was my love for Roman history. To see elements of Roman life in this game was pretty awesome. I'm not going to reveal any spoilers about the game, but I have been giving favorable reviews for the quests I've been completing based on the story aspect. Aside from the standard "Go see this person." "Go kill X number of bad guys." "Okay, now go collect X number of things." quests, it's been steady and has flowed well. Throughout the early questline, you make your way from one side of the island to the other.

Parting thoughts

I assume that this game will have a subscription upon release. Granted, I haven't played the entire game, but if I were right now to compare it to World of Warcraft, I would say that I would not pay for a subscription versus the fifteen dollars monthly for WoW. This game has its nice qualities, but it is not at this time, anywhere near comparable to games such as WoW, Rift or even Everquest. I would love to play it again on a free trial when the game is completed. I'm sure things will run more smoothly and there will be even more awesome things added in.  Please let me know your thoughts on the game!