More Virtual Reality Hijinks || Wildcard Review

Initial Thoughts:

You know what, as problematic as some things were for me in this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But the bias comes from what made me love Warcross in the first place, which was HOLY HELL I WANT THIS VIRTUAL IMMERSION NOW. I mean…the book’s plot has no perfect solution to the major problem that came up in Warcross, but still. It was entertaining to read.

Also. I ship R+T real hard, you guys. They were adorable.


WILDCARD

by Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books, September 2018
YA, science fiction

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

I went into this book girding my loins because either I was going to read it and hate how things end, or continue to fangirl because I enjoyed the first book. And despite the problems that show up in both books, and my misgivings about the whole Zero problem, I actually kind of liked this book as well.

I could attribute this to my wanting to get back into the YA reading zone, after having read so many non-YA books lately. Even the YA tropes didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would.

In any case, I went into reading Wildcard and I had several Ghost in the Shell meets Ergo Proxy moments halfway through, and I absolutely adored that kind of feel, as far as the science fiction went.

Honestly, this is kind of how I see most of what’s happening in the Warcross game. Though style Motoko’s hair silver and this could very easily be Jax swooping in to save Emika’s ass. Again. XD

The book itself did go a little slow, which is ironic because the first two chapters quite literally dealt with someone trying to assassinate Emika for the crazy stunts she’d pulled in the previous book. Lots of shots fired in the streets of Japan, a silver-haired assassin/mercenary comes to the rescue, and we finally get an encounter with Zero in the flesh. Sort of. But I won’t get into that too much.

I really liked Emika in Warcross, though Wildcard had me on the fence with her from time to time. Warcross painted her out to be this pretty cool bounty hunter who kind of knows how to navigate the inner workings of the virtual reality world. I mean, she delves into the Dark World often just to get the unsavory bad guys for a nifty fee. She’s seen shit, including the assassination roster. The Dark World is where most of the criminals go to party, right?

So why does she act like a child at times?

…the walls are covered with glowing screens featuring the services of beautiful girls and handsome, spiky-haired boys, along with shadier banners I don’t want to understand.

Sigh. Oh, Emika.

There’s the question of morality somewhere in the mix, and maybe it’s because I’ve read too much Schwab and Bardugo, but I didn’t have as much problem with Hideo as I thought I should. The guy’s a major tool, let’s be honest, but he did sorta kinda remind me of all the other baddies with anger issues and deeper, not-so-menacing goals.

I refuse to believe that he’s nothing more than a monster. I can’t watch him sink like this. I keep going because I need to find that boy again, the beating heart buried underneath his lie. I have to stop him in order to save him.

He was once the hand that pulled me up. Now I have to be his.

Cheesy as that sounds, I actually liked it. Doesn’t exactly excuse him for his mind control shtick–and the fact that he does break bad much later in the book–but I’m with Emika on this one. I feel like the guy really is still redeemable. (That being said, I’m not quite sure how I felt about the end, to be honest. I mean…I’m sorta kinda happy, but it was a little anticlimatic?)

Characters aside, I totally loved getting to know the Phoenix Riders a bit. I loved that scene where we got glimpses of memory from each of Emika’s team. I loved the interaction between Tremaine and Roshan (like, can these two get any cuter?!).

4 out of 5 cookies! Anyway, as I said, I did enjoy the book. It could have used a lot more Warcross playing, though, but hey, there’s the first book for that, right?


Have you read this book? What did you think?

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Mini Reviews: The Bone Witch, Scrappy Little Nobody

Alright, after this point, I’ll be completely caught up with my reviews of 2018! Not too shabby, considering the last two books were finished during winter break.

I actually ended up reading The Bone Witch in several different mediums: as an e-ARC, a paperback copy, and then the last leg was an audiobook. To be honest, I think the audiobook was the best path in this case, because the formatting drove me absolutely nuts on both the ARC and paperback copies. I wanted to really like it, but eh. At least I finally finished it? It only took two years…

The other audiobook I listened to was a pretty quick listen, but one that definitely ended the year well enough. I do love Anna Kendrick, though, so the bias is there, and this book definitely made me like her more. Not in that creepy stalker-y way, though, Anna! I’m totally harmless. 😀

Have you read either book? What did you think?

Operation Bring Back Magic || Children of Blood and Bone Review

Initial Thoughts: 

OMG I AM CRYING WHAT THE FRELL HAS THIS BOOK DONE TO ME. I AM NOW AN EMOTIONAL WRECK AND WHY ISN’T THE NEXT BOOK OUT WHY.

This is fantasy at its finest. Actually, the last bit in the book reminded me of Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce because both books clearly touched upon real-world issues and influences and put these issues in mothereffing FANTASY and it was. SO. GOOD.

Needless to say, it’s taken me ages to get from start to finish, but that’s what made the journey a million times worthwhile.


CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

Tomi Adeyemi
Henry Holt Books, March 2018
YA fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Listen. LISTEN. There’s only been a handful of audiobooks I’ve listened to that I then had the need to read a hard copy of, and seriously, that list only amounts to two so far. One was A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and the other is Children of Blood and Bone. Now, this could very well just mean “oh hey, I really shouldn’t listen to fantasy at all, because knowing me, I’m gonna want a copy of the book anyway,” and yeah, this is very true. There’s a reason I don’t normally listen to fantasy on audio.

But this book. I urge you to listen to it. I urge you to read it. Seriously, from the beginning of the very first page, I had chills as I listened to the audiobook. And then I had chills again when I read the page myself. And then I had chills thinking about both altogether.

I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree.

I think about the king who took her away.

And there’s every reason to squee, because as a reader, I savored the book as slowly as I could, entrenching myself in a world where magic is on the verge of coming back. And as a writer, I had to keep getting snapshots of my favorite lines because holy hell, the words fell so elegantly on the page that I had to admire Adeyemi’s word choice.

I fucking loved this book. So much. I don’t care what anyone else says.

But let’s pretend that I didn’t already love the book on page 1. Let’s play a game of:

If I Didn’t Already Love The Book…

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for its diversity. It’s a book inspired by Yoruba culture and West African mythology. It is an African world that touches on heavy themes like colorism (because it’s clear in the book that the lighter-skinned nobles and kosidan are treated better than the darker-skinned diviners). It is a world that touches on deep-rooted prejudism for “the Other” that every single time the word “maggot” is mentioned, you can’t help but flinch because of how much that word is drenched in puddles of hate. It is a world where women are once again marginalized by society, but it is also a world where many of the women are not at all defenseless (Kaea, Mama Agba, Amari, Zelie, Zu, Folake, the diviners and kosidan in Mama Agba’s care just to name “a few”). And hot damn it felt good to see so many of them rise up and fight.

I nod, remembering Father’s rants from long before the Raid. The Britaunis. The Porltoganes. The Spani Empire–all civilizations destroyed because those who had magic craved power, and those in charge didn’t do enough to stop them.

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the worldbuilding and rich history. There are maji clans listed in the beginning of the book. There are places I would love to visit, including the temple at Chandomble. There’s even mention of worlds that had succumbed to the dangers of magic, which gave rise to a fear and hatred against it. I loved that the world got fleshed out, and if that meant a lot more exposition happened in certain parts, then so be it!

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for its very non-subtle Avatar: The Last Airbender parallels. It is no secret that Adeyemi pulled inspiration from places like AtLA and Ember in the Ashes (which I saw with glee when the actual term, “ember in the ashes” got used in the book at least once). She’s said so in interviews herself. I mean, Inan is definitely an African Zuko, complete with amber eyes, uncanny competence in finding the Avata–erm, the ONE diviner, and a shitton of daddy issues. Okay, so Inan isn’t scarred physically, but he does gain a bit of an interesting physical feature, has a tendency to hate himself, was on his way to a really good redemption arc throughout the book, but somehow manages to eff that up like Season 2 Zuko.

Yeah, pretty sure if I had to peg Inan somewhere in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, he’d be season 2 Zuko. Without the influence of an awesome Uncle Iroh–which TOTALLY made all the difference.

If that itself wasn’t already a dead giveaway of Blood and Bone’s AtLA-ness, how about the random mentions of Zelie–whose power over the dead can be greatly enhanced by bloodbending–and her affinity to water?

“You seem at home in the water,” I say. “I’m surprised you’re not a Tider.”

“Maybe in another life.”

Zelie smells like the ocean. There’s a whiff of saltwater and sea whenever Mr. Dreamie McDreamer thinks about her silver eyes and white hair. And like…COULD THIS SHIP BE ANY MORE CUTE THOUGH?

“What were you thinking?” I ask.

“You were in danger,” he answers. “I wasn’t.”

He reaches down and grazes a cut on my chin. A strange flutter travels through me at his touch. Any possible response jumbles in my throat. I don’t know what to say to that.

And maybe, just maybe in another life, my ship actually, truly happens, too. Or, you know, there’s always fanfic!

…ZUTARA FTW #sorrynotsorry #fightme

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the perfect composition of sentences. Some sentences were like music to my ears. I had to repeat reading them because they were so well-placed. I don’t know how long Adeyemi stared at the computer for as she typed her book up, but if it were me, I’d still be racking my head around how to sort my sentences out. She just makes word choice look effortless.

But for all my plotting and maneuvering, it’s obvious the girl isn’t here. Though there’s no shortage of glaring diviners, her silver gaze is not among them.

I release the throwing knife as something I can’t place deflates in my chest. It sinks like disappointment.

It breathes like relief.

I just…sigh.

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the fire in Zelie and the lionaire in Amari. I will admit Amari wasn’t as interesting to me up until she’d started to show her competence with a sword. But she is a lionaire by the end of the book, and I was rooting for her to get shit done and shank a few people (which she does, so YASQUEEN to that!). Zelie was always my favorite, though. She is your feisty protagonist with a responsibility like no other. I cannot wait for what happens next, and if it means going back into Orisha with Zelie and Amari in tow, I wouldn’t mind it one bit.

“You clutch it the way a child clutches a blanket,” Zelie releases a heavy sigh. “You fight for a man who will always hate you just because of what you are.”

You tell him, Zelie. You tell him.

5 out of 5 cookies! Seriously, you guys. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Mary Poppins, Dreaming Anastasia

I’m beginning to really like doing these mini-reviews. Though am thinking about reformatting the images that come along with the minis. Maybe when I find myself with time in my hands, I suppose!

I never actually read any of the Mary Poppins books when I was a kid, so I was weened off of the Disney movie that the author deplored. That said, I mean, it takes a special kind of person to dislike the casting of Dame Julie Andrews…buuuut I can see where she was going with things, I suppose. (I still love Julie Andrews so whatever.)

Dreaming Anastasia was something that landed on my lap for Fableulous Retellings so this was definitely something I needed to read. I mean, I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I do love Anastasia and the Baba Yaga folk tales, so I thought this would have been a classic love-hate relationship? It totally was.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Murder Most High || The Dazzling Heights Review

Initial Thoughts:

Okay. OKAY. This was actually much better than the last book even with all the random ass drama going around. I will admit I was ready to chuck my speakers out (yes I had this as an audiobook) during all the teacher drama but I calmed down when I realized Rylin had a decent head on her shoulders. The girl death was kind of lackluster though, and could have benefited from more narrative on her part. But more on that later.
SPOILER WARNING: The Dazzling Heights is the second book of the The Thousandth Floor trilogy, so expect spoilers from the first book and possibly some spoilers in this next one.


THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS

by Katharine McGee
HarperCollins, August 2017
YA science fiction
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

I’ll have to hand it to McGee, she knows how to put attention-grabbing passages to good use. I really wanted to know what would happen after the death in the first book, and then another one in this one? Oh yeah, definitely curious. There is a morbid fascination I have to this book and it has drama written all over it.

I did like this book a lot more than the previous one, even though some people *coughAVERYcough* still annoyed the hell out of me. I still have major issues with the whole more-than-brother-sister relationship Avery and Atlas harbor throughout this book. BUT. At least one of them has a modicum of sense by the end of the book. Hint: It’s not Avery, that’s for sure. And honestly, that story was the least interesting. I wonder if there’ll ever be an Atlas POV, though. The fact that he’s such a babe magnet is beyond me, because as Bryce put it, he’s kinda vanilla other than the whole “in-love-with-my-sister” issue. I’d love to see more flavor injected in him, and maybe a POV would fix that.

In other news, things heat up with Leda and Watt, and while I faced this mostly with great amusement (because YES, WATT, let’s make nice with the girl who practically rufied you in the first book…THIS IS TOTALLY NOT OKAY BTW), I am kind of feeling this relationship. It’s almost as toxic as the beginnings of the Blair-Chuck relationship until even that blossomed to something amazing. I’m hoping for something along those lines, because I really liked the interaction they had, especially with Watt being amusing and all. Also, Nadia. I want Nadia in my head, too, if she’s gonna be the voice of sass and sometimes reason.

Dammit, every. Single. Time. It’s a vicious cycle of wanting to watch this show when I bring it up!

I worried over Rylin a lot once she started going to school with the Highliers, and I was definitely sent into a bit of a panic when the whole teacher drama thing started. I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars recently, and lawdiedee, I was going to flip out if the whole “sexy teacher sleeps with a student” thing was going to go down again. I’m so over this sickening trope, and honestly, the minute my audiobook got to the bit where that skivvy over-confident douchenozzle lip-locked with Rylin, I was prepared to chuck my speakers out the classroom door. (The irony is that I was listening to this AS I WAS CLEANING UP MY CLASSROOM AND OH GOD THE IMAGES ARE DISGUSTING.) All that said, I am hopeful that she’ll make the right choices. I am also a lot hopeful that Cord will snap out of it and do his thing before Rylin well and truly gets snatched up by someone more appropriate.

JUST DO IT CORD.

An addition to the bunch of conniving drama-addled characters is Calliope, whose name isn’t actually Calliope, because she’s a con-woman along with her mother. Frankly, I’m not exactly sure what she adds to the story, because the revelation she finds at the end of the book wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking. Honestly, Watt and Leda had that covered by the end of The Thousandth Floor, and Calliope was, in all respects, a superfluous character. To be honest, we could have gleaned a bit more out of Mariel’s character if they had more of her POV littered in the book. Especially since it was kind of silly to have her show up in the beginning, and then nothing for the longest time until the very end. While I did like Calliope’s narrative tone–she kind of reminded me of a British-speaking Georgina Sparks (from GG of course), all there to make trouble but easily able to disappear from the plot without making any major ripples.

I’ve come to love Georgina after a while…but again, she wasn’t really all important in the grand scheme of things.

So yeah, the drama level is still high up there, and while some were cringe-worthy and overly-dramatic, others actually pick up to become riveting. I would definitely like to finish this trilogy.
3.5 out of 5 cookies!


Have you read this book? What did you think?