Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Summary

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Characters

I really liked Wade. Even when he goes all goo-goo over Artie, I still liked him. There was a fair amount of teenage angst. Just the right amount that if they had pushed it any more, I would have quietly backed out of the room. This is for sure a YA novel (although I would say older YA or even NA).

Plot

James Halliday was a very clever nerd (that’s a compliment, I consider myself a nerd). He sets up puzzles that only those like him could ever accomplish. I liked that idea the most and the overall theme. This felt like a fluff book – very cotton candy like. This doesn’t move mountains but is pure entertainment from the get go. Strap in you are in for a nerdy ride!

Overall

This is a YA novel with some adult themes. The writing was easy to read and I laughed out loud at least twice. This novel’s biggest drawback was the OVER reliance on the 1980s references in a YA novel. Overall this book had me turning pages to find out what happened next, that was its overall draw. Far warning it did drag in two parts – first the beginning was quite slow and second when the references were coming like fastballs and I could only catch half of them easily. Besides that I really enjoyed this book!

The hunt is what kept this together and seeing Wade figure them out. I think it was also because of the ‘villain’ and that Wade seemed too lucky (too many coincidences that just lined up too perfectly). It also didn’t help that Wade’s focus goes off the rails and it stops being about the hunt. A set up for the overall theme of the book (people matter because they are real). That screen time isn’t as fulfilling at face to face time.

Rating

4 stars

Overall an enjoyable YA novel with lots of 1980s references that are just too fun! I wouldn’t put too much stock in a deep plot or characters, just like a rollercoaster, read this one for the fun ride!

Where did I get it?

Bought a paperback on Amazon.

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The Involuntary Ghostwriter (The Ghostwriter Series #1) by Douglas Debelak

Summary

Jonathon Fry, begins his lifelong dream of writing a novel, a fictionalized memoir of his own early life. But, he awakes from an erotic dream of a beautiful woman he has never seen before, with his thoughts filled with memories that are not his own, and the story that began as his own becomes the root stock upon which to graft the story of…

A boy, who was told, when he grew up, He could be anything He wanted to be. Little did they know He’d take them so seriously.

“In the beginning… I was born,” whispers a voice in Jonathon Fry’s head, a voice that claims to be that of our Creator.

Author or conduit, the life, sanity and marriage of Jonathon Fry become unhinged, sending him into a free fall, uncertain of the source of the words he has written – his own imagination or The Word of God – while battling his core values with his need to still be a man and hang on to his love for a wife who has pushed him away, because he told her about his dreams of another woman.

Characters

This book is very driven by the main character. It does after all have an autobiographical feel to it. There is ugliness and beauty. Bad and good choices. It is a life lived. If you read the first 20% you will get hooked on his life. You’ll want to know more, and the chapters/pages just fly by. The supporting characters are all from his point of view. Although one is in first person and another in third person, which could be a little confusing at times, once you get over the hump it flows seamlessly.

Plot

The focus of this story is on the life of Jonathan Fry. The plot ping pongs back and forth between a younger and older Jonathon  It is like watching life unfold at two different points in a man’s life. Watching decisions turn into rewards or consequences. Be warned this is clearly the first book in a series as the first chapter, it ends rather abruptly and with multiple issues looming and unresolved.

Overall

After a slow start I was sucked in. It read like a diary or journal of a man recounting his life and the choices he made. I cringed, I gripped my phone in worry, I gasped, and I was enthralled. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I started this book but I was impressed. It is a unique writing style that sometimes feels like the author is sitting next to you explaining what is going on.

One thing that did bother me was the disruption of the ‘creator’ chapters. That is usually where I took breaks. I read this whole thing off and on during a plane ride and it was the perfect book to pass the time. In a way the creator chapters were nice break points for me, but they were painful to get through because I was so invested in Jonathan Fry’s life. I’ll admit this book surprised more than once, and mostly for the better!

Rating

4 Stars

There is a raw and yet philosophical feel to the book that is engaging. A surprisingly pleasing read perfect for a long plane ride.

Where did I get it?

The author provided a copy.

Seeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson

Summary

Chaos reigns around the world. Strange creatures, accorded the title “Phantom Ninjas” by the media, are leaping off tall buildings and somersaulting back up without any scratch – and then disappear. There follows more spontaneous acts of magic, confounding the world. Who – or what – is responsible? In the middle of the mystery arrives Detective Hetfield, a private investigator just recently released from the FBI due to an on-the-job injury. Hetfield, who arose to fame as a star witness in the murder trial of a beloved actress, uses the media to put forward the theory that a person of extraordinary magical powers is behind all the incidents, and labels him Dr. Magic. Hetfield gets much more than what he bargained for when that powerful being does exist – in the form of a young man long disillusioned with his past – and cruelly takes him up on his offer.

Characters

There are two characters – former Detective Tony Hetfield and “Dr. Magic.” Each of them are very unique and everyone else feels like lifeless blobs that are just filler for the story constructed around these two characters. I really liked the inner strength and determination of Tony. He has to be one of my favorite characters written by this author. “Dr. Magic” has a somewhat tragic story but is an adult that never had to grow up. Very much felt like he had peter pan syndrome—having magic helps…

Plot

This is very much a modern mystery with an urban magic feel. I wouldn’t say this necessarily a fantasy in a traditional sense but it did have that super hero feel and a magical abilities piece. There are lots and lots of layers to this story and the strength if this entire novel rests on its plot. Tony is driven to find the identity of Dr. Magic, but is also very principals—so what happens when the most dangerous person meets in an unstoppable force?

Overall

This book was very easy to read and enjoyable to turn the page to find out what came next. A few twists and turns kept things interesting where I wasn’t 100% sure where the story was going to go. I appreciated that there were a few surprises where I was like “Where is he?” out loud. Any book that can make me do that is good! The downside was the secondary characters. They could have used some development to round out the novel and bring extra depth to the characters. Some were decent but others felt very flat.

In short this is a great plot and okay characters – so overall a good read! I’d recommend this book ahead of most of Spotson’s other books just because I felt this book had the best flow. It was pretty consistent and I never felt bogged down by details or overwhelmed by information coming in. Instead I was able to follow along and just get immersed into the story. I didn’t love the ending, I felt like the author wanted to give more closure and show that these characters were moving in a certain direction, but I actually would have preferred if it ended one chapter earlier. I get why it was done and actually appreciated the open-ended conclusion.

Rating

4 Stars

Overall an enjoyable read that was an easy page turner. If you like mysteries where you are following along as each layer is peeled away this is a great book. If you also like magic, this delivers!

This is a voluntary review.

Unfathomable Chance – #ebook #free & Audiobook release

Hello all! That’s right my Audiobook is done and will be coming out in the next two weeks! I cannot believe my first audiobook is going to be releasing so soon. Feels like a dream.

In order to properly celebrate the release Unfathomable Chance will be free for three (3) days, starting this day and running through Monday. Check it out here: Amazon

The Immundus by Christina Enquist

Summary

Would you sacrifice your humanity to save mankind?

IT’S THE YEAR 2828, and Domus is the last remaining country. Divided into twelve walled cities known as genuses, Domus spans what’s known as the purist lands—lands unaffected by the genetic modifications that killed all other species of mammals. But outside the walls of each genus the Immundus threaten the welfare of those within. From a young age, all citizens of Domus are trained for combat against these intruders.

At sixteen, Nia Luna knows little of the Immundus, except for the citywide alarms that
ring any time an Immundus nears the genus walls. What she does know is that her own species is dying—their numbers dwindling as a mysterious disease called allagine kills
many before their eleventh birthday. The same disease that ravaged her family when it took her sister.

When Nia is recruited into Genesis, a research company pioneering the path to a cure, she knows that her dream to find a cure for allagine is finally within her grasp. But within weeks of starting at Genesis, Nia witnesses something she shouldn’t have—something that changes everything. As she sets down a dangerous path that uncovers national secrets, Nia will have to decide not only what kind of person she wants to
be but also how far she’s willing to go to save humanity.

Characters

Nia is a somewhat normal teenager at first. Just about to finish the year 2828’s version of high school and start her apprenticeship. Although she is only 16 when the book starts, which was important to keep in mind because she sometimes feels quite a bit older than 16, she still had that teenage feel. I would say Nia really didn’t start to shine until her convictions came into place and her moral compass tested. The relationship between her and Eric. Although it was sweet and I liked Eric, it wasn’t until later that he became more of a three dimensional character.

Plot

This story is nothing new – think Pocahontas or Avatar with a Sci-Fi spin to it. That is what this book reminded me of and it was surprisingly good! Although the initial plot was predictable because the author hints at what the Immundus really are right up until they big reveal (thankfully you don’t have to wait long) but the dynamic the story takes is what makes it so good. It is a character torn between a bunch of different directions that she could go and having the conviction to stay true to who she is.

There was also the aspect of science and where the line exists. How far is too far in the name of science? A dialogue that is fleshed out and the author seems to take a stance through Nia. Write what you know – and it showed.

Overall

Except for one confusing scene the rest was well written and easy to follow. The world and history was sometimes a bit of an info dump but it was all very interesting and engaging so it hardly interrupted the flow of the story. This is definitely a strength of the book because after getting over the slightly slow start, I just flew through this book. I also felt like the author did their homework, where the ideas behind the collapse of Earth and the changes all seemed realistic and not too far fetched. Overall an gripping read that I’m curious to see the other side of the coin in future books!

Rating

4 Stars

If you like teen novels and sci-fi this is a great read! Quick, easy to read, and just as easy to enjoy.

This is a voluntary review.

The Gnosis Machine by Theodore Koukouvitis

Summary

An ambitious professor bets his life on a bid to abolish uncertainty, but when an entropic alien stresses the Machine’s computing power to its absolute limit, he faces an impossible dilemma as everything begins crumbling around him.
A grizzled war veteran comes to the Machine to fade away. His hopes for a quiet retirement are shattered when his ship implodes, stranding everyone on the Machine, and he finds love at the edge of the half-finished artificial planetoid.
A homesick science graduate becomes the unlikely hero when he saves a man from predetermined suicide — but he must then master gravity in a desperate attempt to save a thousand more people, including three cyborg madammes of excellent pedigree.
A fifty-year-old widow in an ageless body tries to escape the horror of her husband’s death only to find his charred remains 40,000 light-years from where he died. As chaos erupts and more people attempt to kill themselves on the Machine, she becomes the reluctant leader of the desperate castaways as they all clash in the battle between entropy and determinism.
The Gnosis Machine is built to predict everything, but in the end, will it be able to foresee — and prevent — its own fate?
Characters

There are a myriad of characters in the book. Fair warning I did not like the Professor one wit. The man was such a Machiavellian to his core with ideals of grandeur and an arrogance that is similar to John Hammond in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park without the visionary feel. Thankfully he is one among many character, including the spontaneous and ambitious Douglas Morgan and budding scientist Jason. My favorite characters and interactions by far are those that involve Sunny (Douglas’s adoptive daughter) and the righteous Captain. I also very much liked Maribella. She had a backbone and a tragic story, but she had her head on right…can’t say that for all the other characters. And the spontaneous alien – I won’t say much there for fear I’ll give too much away on the shape shifting alien. There were a few times I was a little lost as to which point of view I was in, but it usually was when they were all together and it didn’t take long to straighten out.

Plot

After a rough start (It was difficult listening to the professor right at the beginning) this book quickly grabbed hold of me and I just had to know how it ended! I had to know what caused the explosion and how the author was going to resolve the conflict. I could see so many different paths stretching out from the single plot point. This is the primary reason I enjoyed this book so much – the way in which the author weaved the characters and plot together where you kept guessing what was going to come next!

Most disappointing part of the book was so much left unresolved. I wasn’t fully satisfied with how the author left things – even with the additional twist at the end. Which sort of explains the abruptness of the ending, but I’m not sure if it was satisfactory based on the content of the rest of the book. I’m afraid to say much more than humans will be humans and uncertainty and fear will drive even the best people to do terrible things. But with the destruction and chaos there is also progresses and beauty.

Overall

This book will challenge you and make you question every step of the way what is right and what is real. That is the true strength of the book. I expect this author will only grow with each book – I suspect this is not his first book either. I could see the effortless ability to weave in multiple points of view together in a clever way. Now if only he had just nailed an ending that made sense and wrapped everything up a little better.

This was very character driven with multiple characters taking front and center. Mostly it was easy to follow along and the writing was satisfactory, although at times excessively wordy. My biggest surprise was that this was a ‘hard’ sci-fi with lots of interesting angles and scientific information, but it was mixed in with simplistic language like variations on ‘looked.’ I started tracking it about 25% of the way through when two ‘looked’ showed up on a single page (on an smartphone sized screen) and by the end I had amassed over 60 of them. It was difficult to merry such simplistic language with such advanced scientific ideas, a world which was built in such a way that I felt it could actually happen.

Rating

4 Stars

This book was a real treat. Amusing, scientific, and with interesting characters submerged into a mind-bending plot.

This is a voluntary review.

Whiskey Kills by Lolli Powell

Summary

Big cities are known to be dangerous, but former New Yorker and bar owner Ricki Fontaine is finding the small town of Waterton, Ohio, is proving to be the murder capital of the world—well, at least her world.

The new Top Shelf is open for business, but business as usual for Ricki and the Shelf translates to another dead guy. Ricki’s friend, Ruby Fogarty, is charged with murdering her boyfriend by clubbing him to death with a bottle of whiskey. The police consider the case closed, but Ricki is convinced Ruby is innocent and sets out to find the real murderer. Although Waterton police detective Gabriel Russell is crazy about Ricki, he isn’t too crazy about her trying to do his job.

The killer’s not too happy about it either.

Characters

Ricki is fantastic. She is charming and stubborn. Her antics should get her into more trouble than they do, which tells me she is lucky. She touch and warm and so many things that all seem to fit! Gabe is…*fans self*…adorable. I love their relationship together and I hope they make it for the long haul. I’m a little iffy on how good of a detective he is during parts of the book but that was minor. The supporting characters are varied and vivid. Adam is just the greatest – so much love for him. Not to mention Ricki’s mom and stepdad! All around great characters.

Plot

At its heart this is a sleuthing novel – a whodunnit if you will. Yet it is so much more. It touches on social issues, family, grief, and greed. There is even romance – although I don’t get her obsession with eyebrows! Following Ricki as she fumbles around trying to help her friend out was nail biting and entertaining. Who killed Frank? That’s the first question and boy do you go on a journey to get that answer. As she digs deeper into the truth, even she is surprised by the ending! Plus she learns a bit about herself and how awesome Jasper (her cat) is. Good luck figuring out all the angles, because I missed some!

Overall

This book just grabbed on a wouldn’t let go. Despite its few drawbacks and some unrealistic moments, I just loved it. This is a book that you overlook its pitfalls because overall it was such fun and just pure entertainment. Plus it felt like you were with Ricki at times, and she was telling you what happened – recounting the events rather than reading a book which was amazing! This is what a good book is supposed to do. One I started I just had to know the ending and I have to say, I loved even that! I was surprised by the ending (no who did it), but by the accidental way in which Ricki stumbles upon the truth. I thought the book could have gone one of two ways and although I guessed who the killer was (mostly) I was in for a surprise! Things are not always what they seem.

Downside was this was book 2 in a series. I wish I had read the first book before this one because this book does give away what happens in the first book so I can’t go back now. If the first book was as good as this one, it must be worth reading!

Rating

5 stars

Such a fun read! I was completely absorbed and just had to finish it! It took me quite a bit longer to figure everything out and even then I missed some things. A great mystery read for sure!

This review is voluntary.