Tag Archives: fantasy

Ready Player One

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This novel is pure nostalgia in a lot of ways. While I didn’t grow up in the ’80’s, the movies, music, and television from that era are so pervasive in American society and pop culture. John Hughes movies are still shown on television as are TV shows like Family Ties and Square Pegs. Turn on any classic rock station and you can find Pat Benatar and Foreigner. I really enjoyed reliving many of the classics I grew up watching and finding out new ones. Ernest Cline knows the decade well.

I loved how the novel incorporated so many elements. It’s like playing a real video game at times in your head as the characters battle it out in the OASIS. The theme of the blurring of reality and fantasy was so well done. And is just as pervasive in our world. This is the reason many people read. To escape their own reality for a little while and enter someone else’s. And in the OASIS, that’s exactly what happens. Your world erases and you are allowed to build a new one. You can create a character to be anything you want. There are no limitations.

That is why, in Cline’s Ready Player One, the OASIS is so popular. The real world around them has crumbled and they’ve retreated into the comfort of the OASIS. Enter the main character Wade, better known as Parzival. He’s a self made gunter, a person hunting for Halliday’s famed Easter Egg and his fortune. Halliday was the creator of the OASIS and when he died he left behind him the greatest game he ever made, the hunt for the Egg and for his massive fortune.

During the journey for the Egg, Wade begins to realize that perhaps virtual reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nowhere is perfect. It may be easier to hide behind your avatar but rarely does the easy path lead to change.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

Coming Soon!

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Next up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a book that is going to be an upcoming movie. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to read for this challenge. A lot of the “books becoming movies” I’ve read before or came out last year. Finally I found Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. When I worked in my local bookstore we could not keep this book on the shelves. Customer after customer would tell me how amazing the novel was and how much they liked it. I finally got my hands on a copy of my own and decided why not.

The premise of the novel sounds spectacular. I love the ’80s, though I haven’t played many video games myself. I can’t wait to see how ’80’s pop culture is incorporated into the novel and what quest the characters will find themselves on.

Stay tuned for the full review of Ready Player One. Happy reading!

The Library at Mount Char

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Wow, just wow. This was honestly like no book I’ve ever read. At first I didn’t know if I liked it or was just confounded by it. In a roundabout way, The Library at Mount Char is a story about creation, with definite biblical tinges. The world is now in the fourth stage of creation and ruled by Father, a heartless monster of a person who is training his “children” in different catalogs of knowledge. All of these children and their father live in the Library, a kind of metaphysical limbo. Each child is in charge of their own catalog and cannot share or will face extreme punishment. The catalogs are wide and varied from mathematics to resurrection.

The story itself starts off with a bang. You’re introduced to Carolyn who is walking the street covered in blood. So many, seemingly unconnected things, happen in the beginning. It’s not until you get closer to the end that you see what the novel is about.

Carolyn is the central figure. She’s the key to unlocking this mystery. But it’s a kind of slow burn to figure out how everything ties together and how these gruesome events all serve a greater purpose.

By the end of the novel, I was devouring the pages. I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded and see how much Carolyn grew throughout. Even as smart as she is, Carolyn has important things to learn if she is to control her destiny in a positive way.

This novel reminded me very much of the Golden Compass trilogy. Not so much the story line but in the dealing of large and weighted topics. In the destruction of the world and the building of new beliefs.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment in the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

Straight Out of the Library

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Next up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a book from the library. Now I’ll admit most of the books I read come from the library, since I have a ban on buying any more books and bringing them home, but I love this category because the library is an amazing place more people should visit. Not only does it house many novels, it’s a great community space where people can gather and find new information.

The novel I chose for this category is The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. I will admit I chose this novel mostly for the title. But once I read the jacket I became intrigued by the plot. A library with the secrets to the universe? I’m in. I can’t wait to see what this fantasy has in store. It promises a thrill ride.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Library at Mount Char. Happy reading!

Rivers of London

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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch reads like a hybrid between a Doctor Who episode and a police procedural. In a way it’s not surprising since Ben Aaronovitch has written two serials for Doctor Who about Daleks.

Rivers of London is the first book in a series by Aaronovitch about police detective/wizard Peter Grant. It doesn’t take the novel long to reveal it’s magic elements to the reader. The first element introduced is the ghost Nicholas Wallpenny. Grant sees Wallpenny while investigating another crime and Wallpennt gives Peter details about the crime. The crime itself has it’s supernatural elements as well. A man seems to appear and disappear without ever being caught on camera.

As Peter delves deeper into the mystery he is confronted by the head wizard in the police department, Nightingale, and asked to join as his apprentice. Grant then becomes the first English apprentice wizard in over 70 years. As the apprentice, Peter must practice and hone his magical abilities as well as solve two seemingly unconnected cases.

In one case he must find an entity that is possessing people and forcing them to kill, and in the other Peter must make peace between the gods of the River Thames. As the novel unfolds the connection between the cases becomes clearer.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the protagonist, Peter Grant, and the way he interacts with those around him. I did, however, find this novel a bit hard to follow in terms of the plot. It read very much like a TV show, abrupt cuts and all. But whereas in a TV show you have visuals that connect these scenes together, in the book it left me a bit lost.

Even with a few plot holes, I would love to read the other books in the series and see what’s next for Peter Grant and Nightingale.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

It’s All in the Initials

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Midnight-Riot

Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book where there author has my same initials. This was by far the most difficult book for me to find. In the end, I could only find two authors who shared by exact initials, B.A. I found so many who were A.B. I considered it for awhile but decided that I wanted to continue with the challenge. While browsing a bookstore I found Ben Aaronovitch and his novel Rivers of London, also known as Midnight Riot. 

From the back, this novel is about Peter Grant, a young police detective who finds himself as the apprentice to a wizard working for the London police. While learning magic, Peter becomes entangled in a strange series of crimes somehow based on the Punch and Judy puppets .

I must say that I’m extremely intrigued as to how all of these elements are going to fit together. I can’t wait to meet this Peter Grant and see how he solves this series of bizarre crimes.

Stay tuned for the full review of Rivers of London. Happy reading!

Human Croquet

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Human Croquet is like the offspring of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Grimm’s fairy tales, and a dash of Agatha Christie. The origin story is all Terry Pratchett magic with dashes of Jane Eyre and the wife in the attic. The story quickly progresses to that of Isobel Fairfax, a descendant of the illustrious Fairfax’s, and her painful coming of age in small town Lythe, England. Isobel’s story starts on her 16th birthday and continually moves back and forth in time to tell the story of her family as a whole and the decisions they made that shaped their lives and their worlds. The further Isobel goes into her own family’s past the more she learns about the past of the land she inhabits. Full of images of fairy tales like Bluebeard and literary allusions, a la William Shakespeare as a tutor to one of Isobel’s ancestors, Human Croquet tells a complex story of fate and how fate can play out over centuries.

The one thing that struck me the most whilst reading Human Croquet was how flawed human perception is. We really do see what we want to see and make up stories to explain exactly what we saw. Isobel does precisely this throughout the novel. She creates scenes to help explain and block out her own past, especially regarding her mother Eliza.

Eliza is probably the most interesting character in the whole novel. At first she’s not quite real. She doesn’t even have quotations when she speaks. She speaks all in italics like an all knowing seer, or what I imagine the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. Her history is tragic and colors the entire world around her. Her absence is felt by everyone in the novel and as a consequence you as the reader feel it too. Her absence is where the Agatha Christie dashes come to play. It takes the entire novel to figure out what happened to Eliza and her end is just as dramatic and tragic as her beginning.

I can’t tell you how much fun this novel was to read. Just trying to guess all of the literary illusions was entertaining in itself. Atkinson has a way with words. Her sentences are beautiful and flow effortlessly into one another. I love how each of her novels has a facade storyline and an unseen one that you have to piece together yourself. Her writing is dense and full. but that’s what I love about it. Atkinson novels always make you think and second guess yourself. But isn’t that what literature is all about, digging and discovering what it means to you.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015.

Scarlet

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After finishing Cinder I was so caught up in this alternative fairy tale world that I had to go out and buy the next two books in the series. I even changed up my book choice for this category because I wanted to continue. And I have to say that Scarlet did not disappoint.

At first I was a bit throw off. I had been so caught up in Cinder’s character and her world that it was a bit jarring to suddenly find myself in someone else’s. Scarlet is a spit fire of a person. She is intensely loyal and intensely hot tempered. This novel kicks off with Scarlet looking for her grandmother who she is convinced has been kidnapped. The police refuse to believe that anything untoward has happened and drop the case. Though Scarlet refuses to drop it. She decides to take up the case herself and begins her search for her grandmother. During the search she meets Wolf, a mysterious stranger and street fighter. He tells her that he will help her find her grandmother and she accepts. Together they go off into the woods in search of Michelle Benoit.

I loved seeing the elements of Little Red Riding Hood being led down the path by the wolf. Scarlet is so alternately naive and worldly. She is eager to place her trust in anyone to find her beloved grandmother. But, just like Red Riding Hood, there are a few surprises in store for Scarlet.

Let’s not forget Cinder. Her narrative picks up with her in a prison cell waiting to be transported to Luna. After a visit from the doctor, Cinder is able to escape the prison and sets out in search of Michelle Benoit, the woman who might have held her while she recovered from her injuries as a child. During her search, Cinder and Scarlet cross paths and Cinder’s past comes out.

I won’t give too much away from the plot. Only to say that Scarlet is a wonderful addition to the Lunar Chronicles. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Cinder and co in Cress. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Cinder

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New Beijing is a melting pot of humans and androids, science and the living. Stuck smack dab in the middle is Cinder, a cyborg mechanic with big dreams. The novel starts out much like Cinderella. Cinder is under appreciated and overworked by her wicked stepmother. Gifted with mechanical abilities, Cinder uses her knowledge to provide for her adoptive family. But things change when the prince comes to Cinder’s stall and asks for her help fixing a royal android. Little does Cinder know that this android holds the key to her past and will open up endless possibilities and endless strife.

While reading Cinder, I loved tracing the story of Cinderella and seeing the differences. Creating a cyborg Cinderella is a bold move but an amazing one. I really enjoyed that Cinder was a strong female character. She didn’t sit by passively while life happens to her or wait for a fairy godmother. She goes out and gets what she wants. She strives to be in control of her own destiny one way or another.

I also enjoyed the relationship progression between Kai and Cinder. It never felt particularly forced and moved on at a more natural pace. Both actually acted more like the teenagers they both are. They’re confused and not sure how to proceed. They don’t know what will happen in the future and desperately want to find out.

But all is not a fairy tale in New Beijing. A deadly plague has been sweeping through the Earthen colonies clamming many lives. In addition to the plague, Earth’s relationship with Luna, a moon colony gone rogue, is at best tense. Luna claims to have found a cure for the plague, but everything comes with a price. The Lunar queen, Leavana, is known for her cruelty as well as for her “beauty.” She has grand plans of conquering and ruling the world with an iron fist and wants nothing to stand in her way.

The only thing slightly negative I can say at all about Cinder is that it was a bit formulaic. I saw the ending and the big reveal in the beginning of the novel. Though I do have to say it did not hamper my enjoyment of the novel. Meyer did a fabulous job creating lively and complex characters. I can’t wait to see what the next novel has in store for them.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Cyborg Cinderella

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book with a one word title. I oscillated back and forth on this category for about a month. I’m so indecisive when it comes to what I want to read next because I just want to read everything. Then I get myself in over my head by being way too overzealous. I finally narrowed down my list of one word titles and settled on Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. I’ve heard some great things about this novel, as well as the series as a whole, and I can’t wait to get started.

Usually I’m not too big on sci-fi but am fully willing to give this novel a go. I love the fairy tale premise and can’t wait to see how Meyer manipulates the genre. Combing sci-fi, fantasy, and fairy tale should be an interesting read. I’m curious to see how all of these elements will change/enhance the original tale.

Stay tuned for the full review of Cinder. Happy reading!