Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu is a futuristic–but not too futuristic–young adult novel for all the gamers–and non-gamers–out there. <<how’d you like that description ūüôā

Millions of people across the globe log into their Warcross accounts every day. Warcross isn’t just a video game, it’s virtual/augmented reality that is literally hooked up to almost all aspects of life. People make a living off Warcross–playing the game, selling items and in the case of teenage Emika Chen, as a bounty hunter.

Emika¬†works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But bounty hunting isn’t easy and desperate and in need of some quick cash, Emika risks hacking into the opening ceremony of the¬†international Warcross Championships and after accidentally glitching herself into the game, becomes an overnight sensation.

Thinking she is going to be arrested, Emika is shocked to be offered a job by the Warcross creator, Hideo Tanaka. Now Emika is working undercover as a player in the Warcross Championships, searching for a dangerous hacker known only as: Zero.

Can Emika catch Zero without being caught herself? And what will she do when Emika learns that this final bounty comes with real life risks and complications that she wasn’t prepared for?

I really liked this one. Talk about taking virtual reality to the next level. Warcross takes place in a world where virtual reality has basically taken over everything. The world looks normal without your Warcross glasses but with them on, everything is augmented–signs are animated, you can get data about buildings and people, you just get more. I pretty much compare it to living life without glasses and then one day putting them on to find out that that green blob was actually a tree.

Warcross is techie without being intimidating and could easily be read by both digital natives and digital immigrants. There was just this perfect balance between the gamer/hacker side of things and the characters themselves. And even though our main character is female, I think this is a book boys and girls would enjoy equally.

There’s a little something for everyone in this book. A bit of romance, fighting and action sequences, suspense, puzzles, assassination attempts and at one point there is even an explosion. There is also so much to build upon, what with the Warcross underground and the conflict introduced at the end. Also, Emika is just a cool character.

This was just a unique and really entertaining read. I give this one a very high 4.5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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The Last Magician

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell is a YA fantasy novel with magic, mayhem and more.

In a battle that has gone on for decades, Mageus, those with magical abilities, have had to hide in the shadows or risk being persecuted by the Order, a secret society that wants to exterminate all magic in favor of science. In the hopes of winning this fight, the Order created the Brink, a magical barrier that traps all Mageus on the island of Manhattan. Any who wish to cross the Brink, risk losing their magic or sub-coming to death entirely.

In modern day New York, magic is fading and a teenage girl is the only one who can help strengthen magic and destroy the Brink. Esta is a thief and has been training all her life for this one task, to travel back in time and collect an ancient book of magic before a man, known only as the Magician, destroys it and ruins any chance of saving magic.

But things and people aren’t what they seem and Esta becomes torn between doing what is right and doing what must be done. The past is a dangerous place and Esta must make even more dangerous allies in order for her plans to succeed. Can Esta complete her task? Will she be able to help save magic? And who can she trust when time doesn’t always stand still?

There is something about a ragtag group of misfits I just can’t get enough of. You just gotta love characters on the outskirts of society, who live in the shadows but still have a heart. We get quite a few of those in this book. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking about ¬†Leigh Bardugo’s¬†Six of Crows¬†a few times when Dolph, Esta and the team were all working together, each with their own motives and secrets.

I wasn’t actually expecting to like this book, but it turned out to be a lot more dynamic then I thought it was going to be. The story is actually pretty straightforward until about 3/4 of the way through and then we learn a whole lot more. At first, I wasn’t sure how this book was going to be anything other than a standalone but the last few chapters gave us a lot of branches to go down for a sequel. I am sort of hoping this one will be a duology though and not a series because I just don’t know if there is enough¬†there to keep it going at the same level.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I am looking forward to the next one. This one gets a solid 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Origin

Origin by Dan Brown is the latest in the Robert Langdon series. It’s been quite a while since we’ve gotten a new one of these and honestly, I felt like this one came out of the woodwork–I had no idea it was coming until a few months out.

Robert Langdon is back and this time he is running around the¬†Guggenheim Bilbao and the rest of Spain. When Robert is invited to an event at the Guggenheim for a presentation that will “change the world,” he can’t pass it up.¬†Edmond Kirsch, a futurist, billionaire and one of Robert’s first students claims to know the answer to two of mankind’s greats questions: where do we come from and where are we going?

The night begins with a bang and suddenly is halted when Kirsch is attacked. Now it is up to Langdon and¬†Ambra Vidal, the museum curator, to find out what Kirsch’s discovery was and reveal it to the world. But helping Kirsch will place them in terrible danger.

Can Langdon and Vidal uncover Kirsch’s password, release his revelation and stay alive when religious fanatics, police and the public are after them?

You can’t deny that Dan Brown as a way of combining history and fiction that is intriguing. You really do get a glimpse into history, architecture and more that you might not have otherwise seen. In this sense, all of his books are great. But for me, the story here, was a bit lackluster and not at all up to the suspense and thrill of his first two books.

I found the story quite slow actually. If you think about it, not much actually happens. The novel is book-ended by two¬†giant chunks of text where the characters are basically stationary and nothing happens. I actually felt like I was being talked at quite a bit and it just felt like some of the prose when on and on. Don’t get me wrong, some of the theory was interesting, but it could have been condensed and still achieved the same goals.

I also hate to say it but the book was predictable. Believe it or not, but I called the ending and almost all of the character reveals after about two hours of listening to the audiobook. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t quite get into the story but there wasn’t as much wow, mystery as I expect with Dan Brown’s books.

This wasn’t a bad read but not one I would read again. Although, I will see the movie if it comes out–I love me some Tom Hanks! I hate to do it but this one only gets 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake is the second book in the Three Dark Crowns seriesРa YA fantasy series, which is now a 4 book series instead of two.

The ascension year has begun and¬†Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella must fight for the crown. But each of their sisters have their own struggles to face, along with the death that is threatened by each of their hands. Once weak Katharine is now strong and changed since surviving being thrown down a ravine. Arsinoe is still coming to terms with the fact that she is a poisoner and not a naturalist. And Mirabella’s memories of her sister’s haunt her, making her unwilling to kill them.

As the game continues, each sister must look within themselves and figure out what they truly want and to what lengths they are willing to go to get it. But will they do what must be done when poison, bears and lightening threatens? And what if the island itself doesn’t like the decisions they make?

We learned so much more in this book! Reasons I thought Katharine survived the ravine are completely wrong and there is so much more to the island then I originally understood. There are also several characters who do things so¬†out of character that it is a real shock. I want to say that this one is just a bit more dynamic than the first one and thankfully there isn’t as much Jules/Joseph drama.

I have to say I am still rooting for Arsinoe in this one, although both of the other sisters have grown on me at least a little. I hated Mirabella’s character in the first book and I still don’t find her super interesting in this one, but at least I didn’t mind reading her chapters. I do really like Billy as a character and the whole Billy/Arsinoe ship. And even Jules’ plot-line gained a bit more momentum.

Ultimately, I thought Blake really added a lot to the series in this one. I liked the world building in the first one but I think she fleshes it out even more in One Dark Throne. I like where the series is heading and am interested to see how the story plays out. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

The Clockwork Dynasty

The Clockwork Dynasty¬†by Daniel H. Wilson would probably be considered science fiction or steampunk fiction. Told from two perspectives, past and present, this book tells the story of a hidden race of automate–human-like machines that live in secret among humans.

In the present, June Stefanov is a well known anthropologist specializing in historic machinery and artifacts. She is curious and this curiosity becomes dangerous when she uncovers an ancient mechanical doll with a secret. Now June is pulled into a secret world of machinery and mayhem and her only ally is a strange man who is anything but a man at all. Together they must uncover the past to save the future.

In the past, we land in Russia, 1725 where two mechanical beings, Peter and Elena, awaken to serve the Tsar. With no memory of their past lives and no knowledge of their creation, Peter and Elena struggle to blend in. When the pair accidentally runs into another of their own in a dangerous encounter, the two must flee into hiding.

Enter a world where secrets are hidden, even from their bearers and the world we know it’s exactly what it seems.

The Clockwork Dynasty¬†was such an interesting read. The world building was really well done and quite unique. I really did love this world of ancient machinery and automation. The world of the automate is full of secrets and intrigue and yet there is still this element of mystery–even the automate don’t know who first created them, except to call them the first men. Normally, a loose end like this would really bother me but in this story it surprisingly didn’t.

One of the man problems/gripes, call it what you will, I had with this book was that the first half of more felt like a long beginning. Although, there was a lot of action, I didn’t really feel like we got into the narrative and where it was going until more than 150-200 pages in. It felt like I was reading one giant introduction and that I was waiting for the plot to thicken.

I also both liked and didn’t like this relationship between Peter and June. In one sense it was refreshing to read a book where there was literally no romantic entanglements and on the other, I would have liked them to show more of a bond, even if it was platonic.

Overall, I did like this book a lot. It didn’t wow me but it was unique and something I haven’t read before. I give this one a high 3.5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Nuts About Books!

Hey Guys,

It’s fall, so that means it is time for a few new displays. I’ve been a little strapped for time recently and the change in seasons have snuck up on me. So I did a quick and dirty bulletin board and I will probably be re-purposing some old displays as we enter October.

I’ve been seeing a lot of squirrel picture books lately and I thought, hey, we see a lot of squirrels in the fall so a squirrel display it is.

Simple display with some acorns and our bookish squirrel!

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Enjoy!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller is the first book in a new young adult fantasy series.¬†Sallot Leon is a thief, a street fighter and thirsty for revenge. Sal wants nothing more than to escape and become something… more. When Sal robs a rich, noble woman and learns about a contest to become part of the Left Hand–a group of four prestigious assassins in service to the Queen–Sal know’s that this is a chance for a new life and potentially revenge.

So begins the audition. The auditioners are all given masks and numbers and one goal… to kill the competition. Amidst this game of poison, lies and bloodshed the participants must hone their skills and develop new ones that will serve them in court. But the game soon becomes even more lethal than anyone could have imagined. Rumors fly and Sal must decide if becoming Opal is worth putting aside revenge.

Does Sal have the skills to win this game? And could lies lurking in the shadows change the face of the game forever?

I really wanted to like this one. There is something about a series starting off in a game, a contest, a trial that really intrigues me. Unfortunately,¬†Mask of Shadows did not deliver for me. The contest itself was fine, but I couldn’t get into the rest of the story; the background, history and developing plot that is supposed to propel the series onward… I don’t know didn’t make sense or just didn’t interest me much. It almost felt like the author wanted to incorporate more but was hesitant to do so.

I am also not totally convinced that Miller succeeded in what she wanted to do with our main character Sal. Sal is supposed to be this gender fluid character–in a dress she is a “her,” in pants he should be referred to as “he” and all other times as they or their. We are told this¬†several times. A success in that you don’t actually know what gender Sal is biologically but the character did feel more feminine to me… that could be because I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was female. I also don’t really feel like this should be labeled a LGBT book because gender is not meant to play any role in Sal’s life; we are meant to look at Sal as a person not as feminine or masculine. Anyway, obviously my thoughts are conflicted here as I keep rambling on.

I guess my biggest problem with this book is that it didn’t wow me. It was one I could take or leave. The ending didn’t feel totally believable and my feelings toward it are mostly¬†blas√©. This one gets 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-