Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Sci-Fi · Young Adult

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer…

Emika Chen is pretty down on her luck when she accidentally glitches into the biggest Warcross tournament in the world. To her surprise, her small mistake is a ticket to the streets of Tokyo and a personal relationship with Hideo Tanaka. Emika was a great protagonist, with her badass hacking skills and funky appearance. She made some really good decisions and didn’t get overly wrapped up in the potential romance blossoming in front of her, which made me appreciate her even more.

Hideo is a fascinating character. The chemistry, the frustration, and the mystery surrounding him made it hard to tell if you were supposed to love or hate him. (I’m pretty sure this was intended though.) I enjoyed getting to see his relationship with Emika unfold and present some unexpected surprises. I liked the other characters of the story, also, but to be honest none of them blew me away. We didn’t get to know any of them particularly well, but it didn’t seem to hurt the story.

This was such an intriguing read. The way Lu blends the modern world (at least, I’m guessing it’s somewhat modern. We’re never really told this.) with a world set in a virtual reality really blew my mind. At times I found myself envious of Emika, wishing that my own life paralleled that in which she lived.

The ending surprised me and left me yelling at the book. You know, because I didn’t want it to end yet. I may or may not have already rushed out to the bookstore and purchased a copy of Wildcard. 

Books · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Warcross

It’s been quite a while since I did a First Impression Friday post. Now that I’m getting back in the swing of blogging after my unplanned, sorta-hiatus, I figured it’s time for another one.

First Impression Friday is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer…

I’m only about 60 pages into this one so far, but I already love it. Emika is very different than a lot of female protagonists that pop up across the YA genre. She’s run into a whole lot of bad luck and trouble with the law, but her heart seems to be in a good place, which makes me want to root for her. Plus, she’s got rainbow hair and tattoos, which is always a plus in my book.

I love the futuristic, tech-heavy world that the author has created. It’s not that far off from the current world we live in, but Warcross is an integrated part of society. I’m finding the whole concept of basically being able go about your daily life, while actively engaging in virtual reality quite fascinating. (Although, I’m predicting that there will be some pitfalls to this.)

I don’t know much about the other characters in the book yet. I’m guessing Hideo Tanaka will have some secrets up his sleeves…probably some that will be dangerous to the players of Warcross. Or maybe not. Maybe he’ll be the smart millionaire who becomes the love interest of this story. I kind of hope not, but I guess we’ll see.

I’m predicting that whatever Emika gets hired to do for Hideo, there will be other people out there, other hackers like her, who will be trying to thwart her endeavors.

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Series I Still Need to Finish

I took a look at my bookshelves the other day and had a slight moment of panic when I realized how many series I started last year and have yet to finish. Typically, when I find a series I like I binge my way through it, but there were just too many good books to read last year that I couldn’t squeeze them all in. #bookwormproblems

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The Books of Babel series by Josiah Bancroft – I’ve already purchased my copy of Arm of the Sphinx (the second book) and will probably be reading it next. At least I’m getting close…

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The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – I’m not going to lie, I’ve had mixed feelings about finishing this one. I really enjoyed the first three books in the series, but after reading the fourth I’m wondering if this one should have remained a trilogy. The fourth book felt more like a spin off to me than a continuation of the story I had come to know. That being said, I’m still somewhat curious to know what happens, so I’m probably going to finish this one.

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The Monsters of Verity duo by Victoria Schwab – No Schwab book/series must go unfinished!

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The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb – Oh Fitz, I need to know if at least one good thing finally happens to you. After the ending of the second book I almost went out and immediately purchased the final book in the series, Assassin’s Quest. I have enough other books that I should probably get to first though…*whispers* for now.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Young Adult

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

I enjoyed The Cruel Prince when I read it last year. Now, having read The Wicked King, I feel like first book pales in comparison. Jude’s grows from an angry, mistreated mortal living in the faerie world to a scheming, manipulative, powerful player in the fight over the throne. She’s not only determined to seize power from those who wish to steal it from her brother, but she’s determined to use every and anyone in the process. Jude is a freaking badass. (Although, I admit, I was still doubting her at the end of the first book.)

Not only do we begin to understand Jude better, but we see a different side of Cardan, as well. I liked him much better this time around than I did in the first book. While I’m normally indifferent to most hate-to-love relationships in YA books, I was totally on board with Jude and Cardan’s blossoming romance. Or hate-mance. Or whatever the hell it is. It’s a perfect mess.

We got to see a bit more of Taryn this time around, but never enough that I really developed much of an opinion of her. Throughout both books she’s kinda just felt like she was there as filler, which is weird, considering she’s the protagonist’s twin. That’s the only real complaint I have.

I loved every little twist and turn Black threw at her readers. By the end of the book, it’s clear that you can’t trust anyone. It’s faerie versus faerie. Human versus faerie. Faerie versus the sea. Sibling versus sibling. Father versus daughter. WHO IS GOING TO WIN!?!

I have no idea, but I want more!

 

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Anticipated Reads of 2019 (Part 1)

The final days of 2018 are here and with it comes reflection on all the exciting new books we read this past year. Last week I shared my favorite books of the year with you. This week, I’m looking forward to some of the books coming out next year that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

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In an Absent Dream by Seanan Mcguire

This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

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The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon. 

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The Wicked King by Holly Black

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – This was such a great read! I loved Fitz and his ability to connect with animals. My heart broke for poor Fitz in this story, as he was the victim of shitty circumstance after shitty circumstance, simply for being born a bastard. His courage and perseverance were admirable given all the difficulties he faced. Burrich, Chade, King Shrewd, and the Princes are all fascinating characters and play a major role in Fitz’s character development throughout the story. At the same time, I hated every single one of them for worrying more about the poor kid’s loyalty than his well-being. I look forward to reading the other books in the series to see what happens to Fitz and see how his skills develop.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare – I didn’t love this book as much as the first three books in the series. There was nothing bad about it, but compared to the previous books it felt a little slower. One thing that I did love was that more of the story was told from Simon’s point of view. He’s such a great character! As predicted, there was lots of drama/tension between Clary and Jace, which is starting to get a little old. I understood the need for it in the other books, but now it’s just starting to feel redundant. I did like the introduction of new characters in the story and the bigger role that some of the minor characters played.

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

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My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

This book was not what I expected it to be but I still enjoyed it.

Anouk is a sweet, innocent beastie, serving the witch who created her, Mada Vittora. Having only been in human form for one year, Anouk is rather naive to the ways of the world and the ways of magic. For this reason, I found her to be rather charming, especially in contrast to her companions who had already become hardened and jaded by life. I liked the other beasties and the way they all looked out for each other. Beau was the only one who I didn’t love. While his affection for Anouk was nice, sometimes it was a bit overkill.

I like the magic hierarchy that Shepherd created in the story. Even more so, I like that it was blended into modern Parisian society. The Haute were pretty awful, with all their politics and scheming. The Goblins were spectacular, with their glitter, high fashion, and penchant for partying. The diversity between all the different groups balanced out nicely.

Before purchasing this book, I didn’t realize that it’s loosely based around Cinderella. Even once I figured that out, it never really felt like a re-telling. There is enough substance and difference here that it becomes it’s own fairy tale.

At the end, magic and mayhem aside, it’s a story of  a girl and her friends who want nothing more than to live normal human lives. Who can’t relate to that?