Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Date Thu, August 3 2017

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is only available for Nintendo’s newest console: the Switch. I’ll discuss this a bit later on. I won’t discuss the function of the system and controllers, however. They work well enough whether you play alone or with others, and I haven’t noticed any kinks with them. I’ll focus on the design and content of the game, instead.

As an owner of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, I am no stranger to the tracks that are new to some people. In fact, I think all of the tracks are those that I have played on my game. The only exception is that tracks from Animal Crossing and Zelda (as well as a few characters) that were DLC for Mario Kart 8 now come with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This means you can choose the color of your Yoshi, play a Tanooki Mario or race around the track as Link without paying extra.

In fact, much of the games are the same. The number of tracks and grand prix, the ability to play online with one or two players, types of weapons/usable items, and kart customization are among the things that are practically identical. If you liked racing on Mario Kart 8, you’ll like the deluxe version.

What, then, makes it different?

The largest difference is battle mode. What was fun on previous versions of Mario Kart was tedious in Mario Kart 8, This is because of a lack of dedicated battle maps. Instead, players raced around regular tracks, often struggling to find one another to attack. Not only has Nintendo brought back battle-specific maps that feel very much inspired by our favorite maps of years past, but they have multiple battles modes. If you’ve ever played Mario Kart on the DS, you know how fun Shine Runners was, and there’s a similar mode with “shines” as well as another mode where you collect coins. You can still try to pop your friends’ balloons, or you can try your hand at cops-and-robbers style battle, which I found particularly fun,

None of this exists on Mario Kart 8, and unless Nintendo releases it as DLC (I’d be willing to pay to download it if it meant I didn’t have to buy a new system), you’ll be forced to upgrade game and console if you want to truly enjoy battle mode.

There are a few more perks of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that might win you over, however. As far as I can tell, everything you unlock by collecting coins costs half as much as it does with the original game. This makes it much easier to attain different kart options. I’ve had Mario Kart 8 for years and still haven’t unlocked everything.

Another option that seemed to be a hit with my friends was the ability to have two items at once. If you went through an item box and triggered the item, you’d be able to hit another box to unlock that second item for use as soon as you used up the first.

There are a couple more kart options, items, control/steering tweaks, and characters that are nice but not a deal-breaker in my opinion. Although Mario Kart 8 looked good at 720p, the deluxe version is a gorgeous 1080p. These tracks all look stunning in HD!

What this adds up to is a good reason to invest in the Switch if you’re at all interests, but also a reason for Mario Kart 8 owners like myself to grumble a little. The game is essentially repackaged with a few key features that Nintendo should have included in the beginning, and that leaves me feeling a little sore. But not so much that I can’t enjoy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for what it is!

“Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World” by Bill Nye

Date Wed, August 2 2017

While Bill focused on convincing the reader that evolution was real, Unstoppable seems less like a debate piece. Bill does take time to discuss and explain climate change (he compares the Earth to our physical homes, which require upkeep), but the assumption is that global warming is real. Most of the arguing on Bill’s part is about how serious climate change is and how quickly we need to do something about it.

Because the book comes across as less persuasive than Undeniable, it makes an interesting read if you’re already of the mind that climate change is possible but wondering what real-world steps can be taken to slow it down or even reverse global warming. Much of Unstoppable is dedicated to the possible steps. I say “possible” because there’s no easy answer or single solution, and Bill is honest about this throughout the pages. He discusses possible options, some of which involve fledgling technologies and may not work as hoped. And he reiterates that it’s going to take a combination of these efforts to make a change.

Some of the ideas he discusses are further reliance on solar and wind energy and why natural gas is only slightly better than coal (methane is worse for the ozone than carbon), so we should only rely on it while moving closer to sustainable energy solutions. He doesn’t shy away from the dangers of nuclear power or the issues that wind turbines cause to wildlife (although, he fails to mention the same for solar farms and birds). Bill Nye outlines the risks and some possible solutions when he can. When he can’t, he points out why those risks might be worthwhile.

But Unstoppable contains a whole slew of potential solutions that aren’t as obvious — from lightening blacktop to creating bubbles on the surfaces of large bodies of water to moving away from streets to traveling via the Hyperloop to living closer to urban areas to reduce your carbon footprint. Not all of these ideas are obvious, and Nye debunks some of the seemingly-obvious solutions that wouldn’t actually work.

Bill Nye also discusses not just the creation of energy but the storage and transfer of energy in easy-to-understand words. The reader is able to appreciate how even when you can produce a lot of energy, being able to access it where you need it is a problem.

Throughout “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World,” Bill describes possible solutions to climate change from an engineer’s point of view. And this is one of my favorite parts of the book. In the latter half of the book, Bill details the changes he’s made to his property and home — a modest property that he’s extensively updated to be more green. Not-so-coincidentally, those changes have paid off big for the science guy.

I found this section particularly interesting because Bill hasn’t just added solar panels to his roof (he has — and smart ones at that), but he’s also adjusted his fireplace to be more efficient, switched to a solar water heater and an efficient hot water system, turned his yard into a dry landscape (as well as a garden), swapped windows to those that left light filter in while blocking heat and uses small, focused skylights instead of light fixtures. This fixture not only opens a window into Bill’s mind as an engineer and a tinkerer who is often hands-on when it comes to these projects, but it shows the different options that exist for homeowners who are interested in

This section not only opens a window into Bill’s mind as an engineer and a tinkerer who is often hands-on when it comes to these projects, but it shows the different options that exist for homeowners who are interested in living a more green lifestyle (and ultimately reaping the benefits from themselves). Bill discusses some of the challenges from upfront cost to difficulty acquiring certain materials, but it’s all interesting.

I only wish those sections came with pictures, if not of his home then of similar setups, so readers could get a better idea. But Bill paints a pretty good picture with his words. I found myself excitedly talking about the technologies and solutions he mentions to anyone who mentions.

In fact, I like Unstoppable enough that I think I’ll buy it (I checked out the ebook through my library), so I can reference it again and again!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Date Thu, July 13 2017

Leave it to me to read a book about cadavers. Actually, I think everyone should read this book (at least, the people who might find interesting and enlightening), so I’ll read it and let you know what I liked about it.

First, a little background. Mary Roach is a journalist and science educator who has been on my radar for over a decade. I first read one of her pieces in a Best Sex Writing book. I’ve also seen her TED talk in which she talks about a pig’s 30-minute orgasm. Ring any bells?

Roach has also written a number of books, some of which are so popular that they’ve been on my library ebook hold list for 9 months. I was pretty excited when Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers finally became available, and you better believe I’m anxiously waiting for the next book from her.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. I knew that I was a fan of Mary Roach and was sure she would teach me something, but I knew very little about cadavers. I also knew that I wasn’t necessarily squeamish about this sort of thing, either morally/spiritually or in terms of disgust. If you are, then I am not sure I would recommend Stiff to you. But if you like to learn, have a tough stomach, like learning about science and want to discover something more about a topic that isn’t readily spoken of, then I would recommend Stiff.

The basic premise of Stiff is Roach contacting all sorts of people and organizations to learn about the options for her own body once she passes on. She talks to researchers, students and other professionals around the world, ostensibly knocking options off her list because of personal preference (or because it isn’t an option at all in modern times).

As the reader follows Mary on her journey, we discover a myriad of “uses” for cadavers and their parts and learn a little more about the process. Roach discusses everything from brain death (and the historic definitions of death) and organ donation to body farms to using human skeletons (in short: it’s no longer done; everything is plastic), using bodies to practice surgery, for ballistics tests and to perform auto collision experiments (a system that’s in dire need of donated bodies).

Roach’s journey comes near the end as she discusses one possible future of body treatment after death, composting, with a Swedish businesswoman who is intent on making it come to fruition. It’s been over a decade since Roach penned Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and this is still not something that’s available, unfortunately.

The book ties up with the reminder that when you are dead, your body is no longer you. It’s simply your body (as we discovered earlier that the author felt after her own mom’s passing), and you retain no rights to what happens. Sometimes our loved ones must simply do what they can to cope (again, Roach discusses how her mother coped with her father’s death and body).

Through her personal anecdotes and humor, Roach easily brings a touch of personality and perhaps lightness to a subject that is underappreciated and sometimes still taboo. It’s easy to read the words she writes in this style. I am looking forward to reading the next Roach book on my pile.

When it comes to this subject matter, in particular, I found myself inspired to see what I could do with my own body. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers certainly gave me something to chew on, and I definitely recommend it!

Exploding Kittens [App Review]

Date Wed, July 5 2017

When the Exploding Kittens app first became available but only to iOS users, I was bummed. I mean, I donated to the campaign for the physical card game (which is awesome). I have all the expansions. Don’t I, an Android user, deserve the game?

I guess so. It’s out now. I’m not sure how long it’s been out, but a friend reminded me, and I downloaded the app.

But first I had to pay for it. Now, $2 might not be much for a lot of fun, but it’s enough to deter many people from grabbing the app. After all, there are so many awesome apps that are available for free (Legendary is one I play lately). So I really wish that Exploding Kittens was available for free, but it you’re interested, you can get it from iTunes and Google Play.

Now, Exploding Kittens is far from the first party card game I’ve played on my phone. Evil Apples is a version of Cards Against Humanity (review here) that I played a lot of for a while. I cannot help but compare Exploding Kittens to this game for that reason.

When you log in, you choose your avatar. There are a rainbow of cats to choose from, but they’re a little generic. There are more interesting options, but you need to pay to use them. I opted for the free one. There’s not an option to use your own photo as far as I can tell.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The app also generates a name for you. I am HuggyBear. I haven’t changed this because it’s cute and, judging from others’ names, they followed suit. The avatars and names really make Exploding Kittens feel more anonymous than Evil Apples, which may be a negative for some people.

For people who want to play Exploding Kittens with friends, that’s also an option. Instead of inviting friends like in Evil Apples, you provide them with a code and log in. You only need two people to play, but my experience shows that this isn’t enough to be fun.

When you’re in a game, there’s a chat menu with preset options, but you can’t type any message you’d like. For people who are more focused on the game than socializing, this might not be a detractor, however.

If you’re into playing anonymously, you can log on to a game with strangers. First, you choose a deck: the free/original deck, the party deck or the betrayal deck. The game will let you try theparty deck for free once, and it adds a couple different cards including one that turns all your opponents’ cards into cat butts.

The game collects a few players, and you’re good to go. It seems like Exploding Kittens isn’t super popular because it takes longer to populate a game than with Evil Apples. I’ve also experienced more than a few canceled games due to connection errors or the host dropping out.

Once you’re in the game, you’re dealt a hands of cards that use the same art style (thanks to Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal!) that you’re used to, but some cards/game mechanisms have been changed to work better for the mobile format. For example, you can still peek at three cards or shuffle. You want to avoid the exploding kitten with a defuse card, but there are now slap and double slap options in the stead of favor and attack cards, and you only need a single kitten to take a card from someone else rather than pairs. This makes sense given that you’re playing digitally, and it work be harder to select two cards at once.

You can touch a card to see what it does, and a little screen explains the effect of the last played card. Learn how to play here.

A notable omission comes in the form of “Nope” cards, which you can use in the physical game to stop any action that isn’t defusing a kitten. When I’ve played, there has sometimes been a sequence of players laying down those cards and yelling “Nope,” which is always a good time. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as fun in the app. I’m not sure because it’s not there.

Like the card game, you can replace an exploding kitten in the deck. You can choose from a few specific locations or replace it in random. There’s a gauge that explains the likelihood of picking an exploding kitten, too, which can help you to determine which cards to play.

If you do lose, you need to wait for the end of the game, which is a bit frustrating. I’d rather be able to leave.

Play involves a number of unique animations and sounds that I think are well done and realistic enough to bother my cat. LOL However, the animations make an already mediocre game take longer than it otherwise would.

Since I paid for the app, I plan to keep playing it, but it hasn’t been as fun as Evil Apples or the actual card game. I find myself playing because the game prompts me. It’s a bit slow in between turns, and it doesn’t hold my attention.

LipSense and ShadowSense Giveaway (Multiple Winners)

Date Fri, June 30 2017

Welcome to the newest giveaway at Reviews by Cole! I am sure you’re going to love this one!

This product is for some products I’ve heard a lot about lately: LipSense! Whether you’ve seen swatches, ads or Facebook groups, I bet you’re as intrigued as I am. I have yet to try these products but you could be able to just by entering this giveaway!

But you won’t just have a chance to win their lip products. You’ll also have a chance to walk away with their ShadowSense eye products. I didn’t even know they made those, did you? This is a pretty awesome giveaway that will reward not one but two winners!

First, let’s give some love to our sponsors and hosts:
Sponsored By: Julie Jones

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

Co-Hosted By: MomJunky and Keystrokes by Kimberly

And if you want to know more about the specific prizes, keep reading.

1st Prize: Winner will receive their choice of LipSense Starter Kit (of available colors) worth $55.
2nd Prize: Winner will receive a ShadowSense Duo in Moca Java and Moca Java Shimmer worth $44.

Below are swatches of the LipSense shades in all their shiny and vibrant glory. Which one will you pick?

Open To US and must be 18+ to enter

Giveaway Dates ~ 7/1 12:01 AM EST through 7/19 11:59PM EST

Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winners will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. The winners have 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal

Date Fri, June 23 2017

I like comics. I first read them more than half of my lifetime ago. Yet, somehow, I managed not to read any Marvel titles. I wanted to rectify that this year and had the chance when Comixology added a bunch of Marvel titles to their Unlimited subscription program (it’s no longer available from there, though). Check out my review here.

I started with Squirrel Girl, which was fun. I’m not going to write a review for it, but I think it’d be good for girls who want to read comics and anyone who wants a little girl power in their lives.

I followed up with the first volume of Ms. Marvel. I’d heard a lot about it — how it features a Muslim girl as the superhero and how she wears a pretty atypical costume for superheroes — and seen some of the art, so I definitely wanted to read it.

Ms. Marvel follows in the tracks of being a book that is family-friendly, and I’m loving that Marvel is offering those options. The plot takes us through Kamal Khan, a Muslim teenager in high school, suddenly gains superpowers and becomes Ms. Marvel. She then must learn how to use those powers to protect Jersey City from bad guys while still making it to homeroom and managing to please her strict parents. You know the drill. Everyday teenager stuff! d=

The main storyline has Ms. Marvel looking for teens who have gone missing. No one else seems to notice, and Kamala stumbles across a trail that doesn’t wrap up between these pages, which collect issues 1 – 5,  so you’ll need to pick up the next book if you want to finish the story.

The first book will tell you whether you want to read more, and it’s a strong start to this character. It’s interesting for me as a non-Muslim to see how her family and background are treated, and the Comixology version included letters written in. There is a demographic of comic readers who never had a character that had similar origins before Ms. Marvel. That’s super cool!

Along with her faith and family, Kamala must deal with changing dynamics with her friends, homework and discovering who she is as a person — with or without superpowers. Ms. Marvel absolutely has the potential to be a coming-of-age story, so if those aren’t your thing, you might not fall in love with the story in these pages.

With that said, while there are certainly refreshing aspects to Ms. Marvel that make it worth the read, it’s not amazing. It wasn’t earth-shattering. I didn’t find myself clamoring for the next book, even though I did get around to reading it. This is light reading material, and I can imagine that some people might want something heavier, and a few reviewers found it slow or boring (the pace does pick up in the second volume). But the light read means even if it doesn’t hit the spot for you, you won’t have spent much time trying it on for size.

Hyperbole and a Half [Book Review]

Date Thu, June 22 2017

Do you guys know Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half? She’s a hilarious blogger who, sadly, hasn’t been active for a few years. Even if you don’t recognize her name and haven’t read her blog, you might recognize her style of art that accompanies each post. It’s been used as many a meme (Know Your Meme has a good page on it).

So if you haven’t heard of her, now you have. I obviously had heard of her and have read every blog post on her site. I knew how hilarious she was. I knew she wrote a book, but it took me a while to get around to reading it. This meant it had been quite some time since I read those posts, which was probably a good thing.

Much of the content in Hyperbole and a Half, the book, is content curated from her blog. It’s some of the best, but not all of the best The Alot is Better Than You At Everything is one example of a missing post. I suggest you start there. If you like that post and find yourself wanting to read more, maybe stop and buy or check out this book to support an artist, you know?

You’re going to get a great impression of Allie from her blog, but the book does include some new content, and you can curl up in bed and read a hard copy or on your Kindle, which is a little more comfortable than reading a website.

I read Hyperbole and a Half in just one or two sittings. I couldn’t put it down despite having read many of the “chapters” as blog entries in the past. I had forgotten much of it, but it was all funny. I laughed until I cried and then nearly puked. I had to stop for my own health!

Despite being funny, Allie tackles issues such as anxiety and depression and how they make her react to specific things in her life. It’s easy to relate to her, a blogger who is sometimes awkward, a millennial who isn’t quite sure how to adult and a dog lover who attributes personality quirks to her pets that might make other people raise an eyebrow.

Hyperbole and a Half probably isn’t for everyone, but while I know many people who don’t know of the blog, those who do never seem to dislike it. It has nearly a 5-star review on Amazon from over 3500 readers, so I don’t think I am alone in my enjoyment of this book.

I feel pretty good recommending this book when you want a quick, easy read. If you’re not a fan of light humor and short blog-post-style “chapters,” then Hyperbole and a Half might not be for you. But I still recommend you read a blog post just to check.

Domain Name Registration from Namecheap