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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Unfathomable Chance – Audiobook

That’s right! After months of work and lots of patience, Unfathomable Chance is finally out on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. It just released yesterday and now you can get your copy!

Make sure you go to Amazon (click here) and check out the sample!

Are you excited? I know I am!

Audiobook.JPG

 

Echoes in Time by Cherie Mitchell

Summary

When Zoe and her best friend Jamie find themselves hurtling through time on an adventure she could never have dreamed possible, Zoe quickly learns that perhaps modern-day teenagers don’t have it so bad after all.

From Ancient Greece to the last voyage of the Hindenburg, from Victorian England to the Wild West, from Viking-era Scandinavia to convict-era Botany Bay and old Egypt, and many, many more recognizable periods in history, Zoe discovers that in times gone by teenagers lived a very different life to the one which she and Jamie enjoy in 2017.

But how can the girls find their way back home to their own place in time? The aperture appears to instantly open and move them on whenever the girls are in any kind of danger, but they don’t seem to have a choice as to which part of history they will end up in next. Or do they?

Can Zoe discover the answer to the riddle given to her by their new friend Baozhai’s Chinese grandmother – and will the answer help them find their way home? And will Jamie’s attitude help or hinder the girls’ chances of safely returning to where they belong?

Characters

I just couldn’t connect with either Zoe or Jamie. Jamie was over the top may times and very one dimensional. When I actually saw hope that she might change about halfway through, I was sorely disappointed it did not take. Zoe was equally as disappointing but she at least grew some with the novel and developed into more of a two dimensional character. Recognizing her adventure for what it was. Unfortunately most of the characters were very flat. Baozhai presented as an interesting character but is gone before I could even connect with her.

Plot

I couldn’t discern any logic in their zigzag through time but it was very interesting. A lesson and reminder that we are fortunate to live in our present time. A lesson that we as a species have grown but only by looking back can we move forward and grow. I can tell the author went to great lengths to stay historically accurate and I was very impressed by the span of history. However, I did not see the point of moving into the future…that was very random!

Overall

If you like history this is an interesting and quick read. This is not a character driven novel, really more about the bouncing from one historical event to another, all highlighting the life of teenagers throughout the world during different iconic times. It also touches on important aspects of being a woman in all of those times as well. It was very informative and it was nice to see that the characters didn’t just visit fun places. The holocaust being among the locations in addition to Pompeii. You are in for one wild ride!

Rating

3 stars

If you like history and would like to learn about different times this is a fun read, just don’t pay too close attention to the characters.

This is a voluntary review.

Mosaic by Chris Keaton and Rick Taubold

Summary

Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

Characters

Chloe and Zoe are super cute but very much cookie cutter characters. I never felt like they really broke out of their shell and were very two dimensional characters for most of the book. I also struggled with the story being primarily from Chloe’s perspective and almost not at all from her sister’s. That being said as the book progressed they grew on me. There are a plethora of supporting characters but most of them are amazing! Favorite character by far was Severin. He saved this book in the character department for me! I would read an entire book with just his story! The villain was a little flat, but decently evil.

Plot

This is for sure a YA plot. I loved the back story and was totally engaged in those chapters. Totally swept up in them and transported to a land before magic was taken. The plot was wrapped around a big baddie escaping and two twin teens being the only ones who can set everything right. After a wonderful opening chapter the rest started off a little slow but that was because it felt like the origin story to a series. Once you get past that introductory piece the plot focuses on the Mosaic and that is when the real fun begins. I consumed the last 40% of this book in one sitting because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Overall

The world building and originality of the plot behind the mosaic was this book’s strength. It is a whirl wind adventure for the second half of the book and you won’t want to put this book down once you reach that part. The writing was easy to follow and written for a YA crowd but adults who enjoy YA would enjoy as well. Vivid fantasy characters/creatures were woven throughout the book that were awesome! There were scenes that I could see playing as a movie in my head.

I was totally sucked in for the second half of the book! I’d get excited every flash back or Severin chapter showed up. They were by far the highlights of the book. The history of the Mosaic and their guardians is well with the rest of the book. If you’d like a fun adventure with a YA feel, but sure to pick this up!

My personal opinion was this would have made for an epic adult book and was actually limited by its YA characters. Although cute and fun it could have easily competed with other wonderful books had it shed its YA skin. Its YA main characters and YA friendly villain drained some of the excitement and originality of the story.

Rating

4.5 Stars

This is a solid 4 star book and well worth the time, particularly if you love YA books and characters that are tried and true. Overall a fantastically original plot/idea, but not very original heroines so I just couldn’t give it 5 stars.

This is a voluntary review.

The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

Summary

It’s more than just her imagination—she’s fading away…

Painfully shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia Moss is no stranger to living life in the shadows, pushed aside and unnoticed by both her large family of nine and her fellow classmates. As her “symptoms” of invisibility increase, she uncovers an old family mystery leading to her Great-Aunt Angelica, who vanished curiously at Zylia’s age. If she’s going to save herself from being erased from the canvas of this world, she’ll have to travel far outside her comfort zone—maybe even to another dimension.

Characters

Zylia Moss is so vividly painted, it is as though the author conjured her from a real person and not imagination. Very rarely do I read first person and think ‘this was done right!’ This painfully shy girl is in many ways a reluctant heroine but for sure the heroine of her own story. The subtle interactions and internal thoughts built Zylia into a very real character. Supporting characters like her family and Terra. Everything was painted from Zylia’s point of view and it was expertly done, bringing alive a world not so different from other disjointed but loving families.

Plot

This book makes you question what is real and what is not. Is Zylia really fading or is there something else happening? I won’t ruin it for you, but I absolutely loved the way the author went with the story. Between the mystery and the coming of age aspects, I really enjoyed the development of this story. The plot was enjoyable but the real powerhouse of this story was the characters.

Overall

Fantastic writing, interesting plot, and stellar character that practically leaps out of the page! The way Zylia slowly blossomed and came into her own was amazing to see. I loved her friendship with Terra, it was perfect in every way and felt so real! I have very few negatives at all about this book, it was wonderfully executed. Biggest issue was how slow it was. Although I can’t pinpoint anything that could be left out, this is not action packed, it was a biopic approach to story telling.

The second really isn’t a negative but I felt like this wasn’t for my age group. I’m in my late twenties and at times I had a really hard time remembering how awkward it was in middle/high school. This is 100% perfect for young teens and high schoolers and I highly recommend it to those age groups. I think even those in college who are socially awkward will just love this, but as an extrovert who doesn’t mind being the center of attention, some of the nuances of the story that would normally have struck a cord…simply struck out.

Rating

5 stars

If you are between 10-25 and like coming of age stories with a nice twist this is a MUST READ! Zylia will feel like a real person by the end of the book, that is how well she is written.

This is a voluntary review of an advanced readers copy.

Diamond Marked (Tale of El’Anret #1-3) by Melody Klink

Summary

Inside a mortal girl lies the heart of the Queen of Diamonds, true ruler over El’Anret, the world of Faerie.

Inside a Half-Human, Half-Fae boy lives the soul of a Stag King, mysterious and powerful creature of legend, capable of transforming worlds… or destroying them.

And neither of them belong.

In a world of myths and monsters, it will take them both to usurp a renegade queen— one who stole the crown and made the whole of El’Anret bend to her will.

The Faerie world will never be the same.

DIAMOND MARKED: The Tale of El’Anret combines the stories of the Faerie and Mortal worlds into a single collection. Queen of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds, and King of Diamonds are included in their Author Preferred text editions.

Part 1: QUEEN OF DIAMONDS

I didn’t realize it at the time but this was like watching the first season of Once Upon A Time – terrible but necessary. And just like that first season I don’t know if I would have continued reading from this first ‘section,’ it was very YA and the writing was stilted and somewhat boring. At parts it was even over the top and full of YA tropes. Even though the first book wasn’t very good, it didn’t stay that way. I’m not going to give too much away but I am going to say that I appreciated the end of this. That it wasn’t ‘happily ever after’ and that there were consequences for their actions. I did not connect with Leigh or Gideon which may have been the biggest problem.

Not very good but if you can get through this, I promise the next two parts are worth it. – 2.5 stars

Part 2: JACK OF DIAMONDS

As disappointed as I was in the first book, that quickly faded once Jack comes into the works. It becomes more complicated as it sheds its overly YA skin and takes on a whole new form of awesomeness. Suddenly it is highly imaginative, the plot opens up and even gets a little dark. It was engaging and I found myself turning pages and staying up later than I should to find out what happens. The irritation with the young character in the first section is balanced out here and Jack is such a likable character. I was also really happy to see Leigh come into her own.

I absolutely love this one the best – even with the cliffhanger at the end. – 5 Stars

Part 3: KING OF DIAMONDS

A great conclusion to these short novellas. This book went much darker and showed some overall elements of society that go poorly. That evil wins when good people do nothing. The world also expanded and grew and the battle scenes at the end, though a little long, were awesome. I felt like I finally had a great picture of what the author was trying to portray. The writing also improved and had better flow. Though Leigh’s undying love I came to like Gideon.

It also had a very sweet after ending that was very satisfying. I’m not always happy about those, but in this instance it was wonderful. – 4 Stars

Overall:

If you are going to buy them, you might as well get this box set and read them all the way through. Where Leigh felt a little flat, Jack eventually balanced her out and she came into her own. The world building greatly improves from book to book, as does the writing.

Rating:

4 Stars

Overall I enjoyed this collection of stories. The further I went into the story the more I enjoyed them. If you like YA stories that have fairies – this is a worth while read.

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review.

Wandering Storm by Noor Al-Shanti

Summary:

Loud banging resounded throughout the house. The housekeeper pushed a servant aside and wrenched the door open angrily. A man stood on the threshold, dripping rain and mud and blood. A stormy night brings Wandering sailors to a sleepy farming town in the High Kingdoms. (Short Story in the Tales from the Circle Series)

Overall

This had a very interesting setting, on the high seas, but some of the imagery of the setting was lost on me. After the rocky beginning some of it cleared up and I was able to connect more with this fantasy based novel. This seems like it was a short story meant to go to a bigger story and without knowing the bigger story, this was not as clear or enjoyable.

I enjoyed the second half of the story more, even though I was still a little lost, I was captivated! This is where the author’s ability really shined. The settings, the plot coming together, and the characters taking on more life. It was an interesting narration. I wouldn’t say this is a young adult, but it is clean enough that young adults could easily enjoy.

Rating

3 stars

It was okay. A little unformed, but vividly fascinating! I think if I had read the main book and then this one, I would enjoyed this more.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.