Thursday, December 1, 2016

The holidays are here - time for a game!

With all the hustle and bustle, here are some fun ways to enjoy the company of friends and family.

Yes, as an author, there's nothing I'd like more than to see people reading books at any time of year. On the other hand, the holiday season is a great opportunity to sit down with those in your life and enjoy the simple, social pleasure of a quick game. So, on that note, let's take a look at three games. Not only are they great to play, they also make very reasonable gifts, with a great entertainment to cost ratio.

If it's books you're looking for, I've written reviews for quite a few titles, and, well, I've published a few books of my own. You can see my reviews and titles on my Goodreads page.

On to the game reviews....

The Car Wars Card Game is a vastly simplified version of the classic board game dating back to the 1980's. The card game version was originally available in the late 1980's and is now back in print with new graphics, new battle cards, and a few new rules. Don't worry - the entire rule sheet can be read and learned in about fifteen minutes. 

The idea of the game is simple enough. Players select their cars, draw a hand of battle cards, and throw down on each other. The rules allow for different ways to score a winner, but last driver standing always seems the best way to go. Depending on the number of players a round of combat can take anywhere between ten minutes and an hour. Dynamic cards also allow for other players to intervene in exchanges of gunfire, so that no one feels left out.

Holiday shopping creates its fair share of road rage. With the Car Wars Card Game, you can vent that rage in a fun (and non-criminal) way with your fellow vehicle arena combatants. The game is available at Amazon for $25.

    With Settlers of Catan, players embark on an adventure of trading and building to colonize the fictional land of Catan. This innovative, award-winning game features a modular playing map, so that every game is conducted on a unique landscape. This one brilliant feature translates to the reality that the game never gets old; indeed, every game is its own experience.

The game mechanics are quite simple, with only a few pages of rules, an excellent print tutorial to walk new players through the rules, and even a quick setup guide to get a first-time game rolling in a hurry. Game play ensues as players roll dice to generate commodities, trade commodity cards to build roads and settlements for increased commodities, and take efforts to both help and hinder each other as the situation demands. There is no combat. Even so, trading sessions can be cut-throat as commodity pressure increases and the map fills with construction. The winner is decided by a point system based on what players build on the map.

A typical game with four players runs about ninety minutes; a three player game is possible, but the four player trade dynamic ads greater competitive dimension. Given the simplicity of the game system it's suitable for younger players (but not children) so that it can make for a great family game night.

Settlers of Catan is available at Amazon for $35. There are numerous expansions and add-ons, although my feeling is to avoid the add-ons to preserve the original simplicity of the game. There is an extra player expansion which stretches the map and allows for 5-6 players - highly recommended so that more can play.

  Last, but certainly not least, is the infamous Cards Against Humanity. If you're not familiar with this game, be on notice that this is R-rated fun, so put the kids (and your sensitivities) to bed.

This game is essentially a no-holds barred, politically incorrect, rude and crude version of the popular Apples to Apples card game. Though the two are not connected in any way, the rules are basically the same, wherein one player draws a prompt card and then selects a reply card from those offered by other players. As the game's name suggests, nothing is sacred, and if it seems that a bunch of drunken college dorm residents put this game together, well, that's probably not far from the truth. If you have an open sense of humor, this game can provide a night of hilarious entertainment. You might even look at people a little differently when you see the kinds of cards they play or choose for replies.

As with most successful games there are numerous versions and add-ons, yet the original version has never failed to entertain. 

Cards Against Humanity is available at Amazon for $25.

So there you go...great ways to enjoy this time of year, and potentially great gifts. I for one am a fan of anything that gets people away from electronics and compels direct social interaction. No matter which of these three games you choose to play, there will be a fun night for all involved.

And when you're done, then you can read a book...just saying.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels - Available now!

I'm very happy to announce my latest book publication: 'Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels'.

For this, my sixth book, I returned to the anthology format to weave a brand new set of stories into a fourth collection. Though it follows the original 'Oddities & Entities' in mood, 'Vessels' follows its characters into even stranger places, and treads more into surrealism and horror than its predecessor - making it a great fit for this upcoming Halloween! 

From the back cover:

"Sometimes you need to be broken to be made whole."

With 'Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels,' multi-award winning author Roland Allnach returns to the strange and surreal path forged by his critically acclaimed 'Oddities & Entities.' Consisting of nine new tales spiced with elements of horror and speculative fiction, Vessels explores the communion of spirit, substance, and the eccentricities of flesh between those conjoined realms.

'Vessels' is available now at Amazon in print, with Kindle to follow soon.

To get a deeper look into 'Vessels', visit the dedicated page at my website,

Happy reading...and enjoy your nightmares...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Movie Reviews: 'The Stanford Prison Experiment' and 'Experimenter'

For fans of indie films, let's take a look at two recent titles: 'The Stanford Prison Experiment' and 'Experimenter'

As an author, I get to explore the nature of humanity through the creation of different characters. And, like most authors, it's safe to say that I'm a student of human behavior. Without such observation it would be difficult, if not impossible, to summon the different personality constructs necessary to provide a reader with characters that seem to live beyond the page.

To that end (and perhaps somewhat telling of my own personality) I enjoy stories, real or fictional, that explore the human psyche. I've had the pleasure to see two films straight to this point: The Stanford Prison Experiment and Experimenter.

Product DetailsThe Stanford Prison Experiment is a rendition of the actual controversial experiment conducted at Stanford University in 1971, following the account by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who oversaw the experiment. Fort those not familiar with the experiment, it involved the creation of a simulated prison environment with student volunteers playing the roles of guards and inmates. This movie is not dry by any means, even though it deals with what may be considered the rather intellectual pursuit of sociological effects on individuals.

As with the actual experiment, the movie leads the viewer down a very dark and twisted descent into what may be considered some very primal human reactions to unquestioned authority. What provides the real sense of dread in the Stanford Experiment was that the men involved were screened to rule out those with apparent negative inclinations. On the surface, the participants - both guards and prisoners - were normal, healthy young men who were only separated from the role of guard or prisoner by the flip of a coin.

While the increasing abuse exercised by the guards is disturbing, what is perhaps of equal or greater disturbance is the subjugation of the prisoners. It's hard to remember during the progression (or devolvement) of the experiment that all the participants were knowing volunteers acting out a simulation. Within the first day of the experiment things became all too real and consumed not only the volunteers but the researchers themselves.

Horrifying yet fascinating, this riveting portrayal of an experiment that continues to be a source of much debate is an experience that transcends the screen.

Product DetailsWhereas The Stanford Prison Experiment plays out cinematically with the tension of a psychological thriller/horror movie, Experimenter is a much more subdued but no less cerebral adventure into the human psyche.

The movie follows Dr. Stanley Milgram, the real-life Yale professor responsible for the Shock-box Experiment, in which subjects were instructed to deliver electric shocks to another test subject for failing to answer questions. The shocks were simulated, as were the cries of pain of the recipients, but what the study uncovered was the unerring tendency for the administrators to go ahead and deliver higher voltages of shock. As with the Stanford Experiment, the Shock-box Experiment continues to be a source of debate to this day, nearly fifty years later.

The movie continues past this one experiment to represent the ongoing work of Milgram and his exploration of some of the quirkier aspects of human nature and behavior. In particular, Milgram's work has the overall focus to reveal and understand how individuals excuse or distance themselves of responsibility in institutional situations. In short, the behavior is summarized in the moral black hole of the "just following orders" mentality. In the end, though, it is the Shock-box Experiment that serves most as his legacy, perhaps for the disturbing things it reveals about human nature.


For those interested in two pivotal moments exploring the darker side of the human mind, these movies provide an intriguing one-two punch of introspection. While The Stanford Prison Experiment involves a very different dynamic than Experimenter, both movies are anchored around solid performances that ground rather than orbit the unnerving implications of their subject matter. In the end, both movies remind us not to judge the actions of others quite so quickly. As viewers taken through the twisting journey of these films, we are taught that how people behave is a complex interaction of the individual, the situational context, and the exercise of authority.


Of course, being an author, I would be remiss not to mention the books that go along with these movies:

Product DetailsProduct Details

For those interested in the Stanford Experiment, Dr. Zimbardo himself has written an account of the experiment he conducted. Entitled TheLucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil, it also explores other breaches of morality in the real world over recent years, namely, the violations committed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.  For more on the Shock-box Experiment, Dr. Milgram's own Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View is available. Interestingly enough, the forward for Dr. Milgram's book is written by...yes, you guessed it, Dr. Zimbardo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

'The Writer's Primer' earns 5 stars at Readers' Favorite!

'The Writer's Primer: A Practical Guide for Aspiring Authors Seeking Publication' has been greeted by three great reviews from Readers' Favorite. I firmly believe in giving back to the writing world, and I'm very happy that my first foray into non-fiction has hit the mark.

"A very informative and interesting presentation of the creative art of writing."

"Roland Allnach gives you a 360-degree view of the publishing will find this book a worthy read."

"A deep, in depth explanation of the complicated publishing world...a much needed book."

Read the full reviews at Readers' Favorite!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Us Girls & A Book: The Digital Now by Roland Allnach WITH Review

Us Girls & A Book: The Digital Now by Roland Allnach WITH Review: Science Fiction

Week 2 of the digital tour starts off with this review from 'Us Girls & A Book':

"This story takes place in the future.  It is not all that unbelievable that this situation could exist.  Earth has been destroyed by taking and not replacing natural resources.  The humans remaining on earth have been implanted with chips at a young age. At that time, they are harvested of any reproductive abilities. These "parts" are then used to create new humans with the proper abilities to survive.  The babies are then placed with the appropriate parents to grow up.  At each stage of development - children, teens, adults - they are trained and their minds wiped clean of any memories of a personal nature.

But what happens when something causes someone to start remembering their past?  Can they evade the authorities and avoid a mind sweep?

"I took away a half of a star because the beginning of the book left more questions than answers.  Yes, later in the book you get an explanation but it takes away the beginning of the story if you don't know what things are or what is meant.  This can deter many readers because of the confusion.  The story seems slow to start.  I did read the entire story because I have a hard time giving up on a book.  It did take me longer than usual to read because the story didn't really "grip" me.  I know some people will really like this book.

"If you like stories of the future after the destruction of earth you will like this one. If you like books of programming and controlling the population by a select few, this will be right up your alley."

The tour continues at Reading Addiction Book Tours...

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Indie Express: Blog Tour: The Digital Now by Roland Allnach with ...

The Indie Express: Blog Tour: The Digital Now by Roland Allnach with ...: Science Fiction

The blog tour rolls on with two stops today. First up: 'The Indie Express':

"Roland Allnach has created a wonderful new world for us to dive into. He did a great job of giving us backstory and having us learn about what kind of environment the characters were dealing with.

Wonderfully paced and Multi Dimensional characters really set this novel up for success."

Second stop: 'The Steamy Side':

"As always when first diving into a new world created by an author, there are many questions and catching up to do. I think Roland Allnach did a good job of explaining his world and characters, but could have done with a bit more detail in certain aspects. 

"That was really the only downfall of the novel though and it wasn't even really that huge of a deal. Other than that the pacing and plot of the novel was very well done. There was plenty of action and it really kept my attention throughout!"

That brings week one to a close; stay tuned for week 2!  Follow along at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Reading Addiction: Blog Tour: The Digital Now by Roland Allnach #revi...

My Reading Addiction: Blog Tour: The Digital Now by Roland Allnach #revi...: Science Fiction..

Two blog stops today. The second drops by with another review:

"Carly is a character that while is lovable, is kind of frustrating at times. I think she is a solid character and shows that while characters have flaws, they are still fun to read about.

"The plot is full of exciting twists along the way and quite easy to follow.

"The world that Roland Allnach has created is vivid and fun to become absorbed in."

Carly is a complex character going through some very difficult situations. Her story functions on several levels, and balancing all these elements was an enjoyable challenge. Given her perspective and the conditions under which she lives, there are times where she's pushed into a corner, and her frustration lashes out. Such is life and, as they saying goes, you don't really learn who you are until you're put to the test.

Stay tuned for the rest of the tour dates at Reading Addiction...