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Book Review| Uprooted by Naomi Novi

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Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I received this book from my OTSP Secret Sister, though I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now. It’s always caught my eye when I walked into a bookstore, but I can be choosy when it comes to my fantasy books. I always heard great things about it, though, and now I know why. It took me a few days to really get into, but once school ended, I was really able to give myself to the book completely.


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The Woods: Novik uses The Woods in the common archetypal way: they’re the source of evil, a place where people go in but don’t come back out. Within literature, forests are places of the unknown. Nobody knows the origins of Novik’s Woods, or why the woods are magical. Woods are usually a place of transformation, which is a recurring theme between many different characters.
The “unknown” part of this can also be attributed to The Dragon, since the townsfolk know little to nothing about it.

Agnieszka: Taken by The Dragon, we soon find out she’s actually a witch, but she finds the spells The Dragon tries to teach her just don’t fit well with her. She’s your typical “main character” of our time; she isn’t beautiful or pretty, she’s constantly dirty; she doesn’t find herself “special”; she defies The Dragon often and can be pretty temperamental. However, being our main character, she easily fits into The Hero archetype, specifically that of The Initiate.

The Dragon: A powerful magician whose job is to protect many towns and provinces, his dislike for Agnieszka is immediate. He is constantly demeaning her; he scowls at her dirty clothes, yells at her when she can’t figure out a spell (and yells when she does), and he finds comfort in the orderly way magic is – until Agnieszka shows him otherwise. The best archetype I could find for him was the Evil Figure with the Ultimately Good Heart. We are introduced to The Dragon as a thief of young women, but the more we read, the more we learn about him.

Kasia: The ignored “chosen” girl, Kasia is constantly spoken about in high regards. Agnieszka finds her to be almost perfect; Kasia is braver, prettier, more talented, smarter – the list goes on. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER However, she’s captured by The Wood and is possessed by the evil within it. Before being taken by The Wood, she would fit more into the Platonic Ideal archetype. In fact, for most of the story she would. The only time she would fit into another archetype, The Creature of Nightmare, is when she’s possessed. The character who embodies the Creature of Nightmare throughout the book would be Queen Hannah/ The Wood-Queen.


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Uprooted was an enchanting novel filled with fascinating, complex characters, each one completely different from the next. The writing alone was spellbinding; each sentence pulled me deeper and deeper into the world Novik created. While there were a few city names I found difficult to pronounce, Novik kept the general world knowledge as a need-to-know basis. No map was needed, nor was a glossary. I did end up reading over the words used for spells rather than trying to sound them out; I know I would just butcher them, so I didn’t even bother.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, books that aren’t parts of trilogies, books with a hint of romance, complex characters and storylines that keep you questioning until the very end, I would highly recommend Uprooted.

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Aside

Book Review| Me Before You – JoJo Moyes


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Published: Dec. 31, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
369 pages
Goodreads Rating:  4.30
My Rating: 5.0

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I really only picked this up because the movie was coming out and I’d enjoyed other JoJo Moyes books in the past. Once I saw the trailer for the movie, I was a little put off. I still have yet to see the movie, but Emilia Clarke’s acting in the minute-long trailer just seemed very over the top.

I needed a good romantic book to help get me through the beginning of my husband being away due to his military career. I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD

what i liked

Louisa’s Family Dynamic

Louisa’s family is very typical of a lot of families. There is a lot of love, and some repressed anger. There are secrets and intense moments of truth. Louisa’s parents, as much as they want to support her, need her to support them. It says a lot that somebody living in the United States can relate to the Clark family’s financial problems; we all know how one bad economy can affect the world.

This family was very authentic in everything they did. From the parents choosing a favorite child (even if they won’t admit it), to Louisa and Treena’s constant back-and-forth, this was one of the few literary families that didn’t feel too happy, too sad, or too melodramatic.

The Traynor Family (or,more specifically, Mrs. Traynor)
If there is anybody misunderstood in this book, I think it’s Mrs. Traynor. She loves her son the way most mothers love their sons; completely, if not a little too much. There is a constant feel of tension between the two, as if she has babied him all his life and he resents her for it. I picture the two of them at his college graduation, and she’s licking her thumb to wipe a smudge of dirt off of him or to tame a cowlick.

She is used to being the matriach, the person in charge of the family.With Will taking that power from her, I think she felt very lost. For the first time in a long time, she has no control over what is going on with her family. I think that’s why she was harsh and cold towards Louisa.

Will & Louisa

I mean, obviously. Their relationship was absolutely amazing. Starting off with an awkward meeting and continuing on until Louisa decides she is done dealing with Will’s nonsense. I think I really connected with this relationship because it wasn’t an immediate attraction. It took most of the book for the two of them to realize their feelings for each other. The wole wedding scene was so frustrating for me because all I wanted was for them to kiss and reveal their feelings. Unfortunately they were both too afraid and unsure of the other that nothing happened.

did like

The Ending

This isn’t entirely true. I liked the way the book ends. I think it’s great because it isn’t a typical happy ending. The thing I didn’t like was how quick it ended. I wish that there had been more time between the island scene and the Switzerland scene. It felt like so much was left unsaid between them and, as somebody who loves to talk and talk and talk about their feelings, it killed me.

Louisa’s Reaction on the Island

My god, girl. First, how the hell are you going to leave a man who can’t walk ON A BEACH with a lot of SAND?! IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I get being hurt and upset and whatever, but poor, poor Will. Or, as my Spanish I class taught me, p-p-p-pobre Cenicienta. I have never felt such sadness for a character before. He depends on Louisa for so much, and he knows how much this will hurt her, but he can’t lie to her or lead her on. He knows his mind and he knows his heart. All I can picture is this poor man confined to a wheelchair, watching the woman he loves walk away from him as he tries to talk to her about this. He’s calling out for her and she’s just ignoring him. It’s not as if he can run to her, scoop her into his arms and tell her how wrong he was.

I completely understand the hurt and pain Louisa is feeling here, but my empathy lies more with Will at this point.

The Beginning

It’s not that I didn’t like the beginning so much as it just didn’t suck me in. Until Will became a larger part of the story, I felt like I was slowly trudging along. I’m not exactly sure why I could not get into it at first. Maybe it was just the whole angry, despondent feel of the book after Louisa lost her job and can’t find a new one. I am very glad I pushed through the beginning because this book literally brought tears to my eyes. final thoughts

Concerning the Controversy

I am not in any way shape or form trying to say how people should feel. When the movie first came out, a lot of people were angry and called it something along the lines of, “suicide porn.” People were angry because they felt the book and the movie showed that handicapped people were better off just killing themselves. I don’t think that was what JoJo Moyes was trying to convey at all.

As somebody who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I have come to realize that you can’t save everyone. Sometimes people are beyond help, some people don’t want help, and sometimes people don’t realize help is out there. To me, Will did not want the kind of help Louisa and his family wanted to give him. I am a huge proponent of assisted suicide. If a person is in their right state of mind, is in pain or is terminally ill, who are we to deny them the dignity of death before they lose themselves?

All in all, I loved this book. I might give it a 4.5 rather than the full 5, but it’s still a book I would recommend.

Book Review| The Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

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The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Published: May 12, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Goodreads Rating: 3.54
My Rating: 4.0

Her perfect life is a perfect lie. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears. The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

I try to go to the gym with my husband whenever he goes. I hate going by myself and it gets me out of the house. Before you walk in, there is a bulletin board I usually glance at. Since we go to the military gym on base, there’s usually a good amount of “base” activities. I happened to see the words “Book Club” and snapped a quick picture to send to a friend of mine to see if she’d like to check it out. It was at the library and scheduled to take place on Tuesday (it was Saturday). I didn’t start reading until Sunday night and finished Monday morning. I did sleep, so I wasn’t awake the whole time. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done it. No part of me wanted to put this book down. Had I not had an extremely busy day, I wouldn’t have gone to bed at 1 AM; I would have stayed up to finish.

Review

I thought this was going to be a YA fluffy novel about a dead girl or a zombie or something. Yes, I broke the cardinal rule: I judged the book by its cover. I should have known from the first few sentences that this would not be anything close to a YA book, but I didn’t realize just how dark it was going to be. This is one of those books I can’t review without giving away spoilers, and I don’t plan on spoiling it. It was just too good. So this review will be pretty dang short.

Though LGA is compared to Gone Girl, they are so very different. Amy from Gone Girl is a wonderful villain who is manipulative and, in short, insane. She’s great to read about, and I enjoyed the book. Ani (pronounced AH-nee), on the other hand, isn’t nearly as villainous as Amy. She is manipulative and, yes, at times insane, but Ani doesn’t go to the extremes Amy does. Plus, the story lines are completely different. Once again, I won’t give anything away, but LGA is not about a spurned lover or a s/o who cheats or anything like that, even though Ani does have a fiance. Her story goes so much deeper than any of that.

At the beginning of the story, I didn’t like Ani. She comes from a different world than me, where brand names (and last names!) actually matter. She can be indifferent, which is unsettling for a reader. We want to connect with our main character, and it was hard for me to connect to her at first. By the middle of the book, I wanted nothing more than to hold her and brush her hair and feed her pizza. Ani, and all the characters in this book, are written as realistic people instead of fictional heroes. We want our Knights in Shining Armour, our Damsels in Distress, all the typical archetypes we have been conditioned to see. None of these characters are blatantly present in this book. Some characters can be made to fit in these roles at times, but not throughout the whole story. (I’m no English major here either, so don’t kill me).

I finished this book in less than 24 hours. I really enjoyed this book, and I think if you liked Gone Girl, you should pick this up.

four star

Have you read this book? If not, do you want to? Let me know in the comments below!

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Book Review| The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen


81JQ-u+67GLThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Published July 8th 2014 by Harper
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction
Pages: 434
Goodreads Rating: 3.94
My Rating: 4.5

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

I’d seen this book floating around tumblr for a long time. I would see it in the grocery store and think, “Damn, that does look really good,” but I wouldn’t pick it up. (I have a hard time buying hardcovers because they can just be ridiculously expensive). I was at an indie bookstore in New Hope, PA when I saw Queen in paperback. I snatched it up and walked right over to the register because I was not buying anything else. Of course, it found its way off my radar while I was reading graphic novels and some books from my TBR shelf (I’ll post a picture in a new post). A few days ago, I found it in one of my old beach bags and decided to start reading it. I was absolutely hooked from the first page.

Review
Being Johansen’s debut novel, I was astounded by her writing skills. Looking back at the story, not a lot of action happens, but I was never bored reading this. A lot of the story focuses on one main event, but enough was added where I never thought, “Okay, I’m on page 156 and nothing is happening what the hell.” Even with moments like meeting the people at court, I found myself chuckling out loud or making faces at some of these fictional people. Which leads me to my next point: her characters.

Johansen is magnificent in creating a world of diverse, complex characters. Kelsea is an overweight teenager with a bad temper, but she excelled at being a queen. Her adoptive parents had a large hand at that, and they too are such different characters. Barty, her adoptive father, and Carlin, her adoptive mother, were the epitome of “opposites attract.” Barty is the nurturing, warm hearted figure while Carlin never hugged or coddled Kelsea. There is also no sugar-coating anyone in the book. Kelsea’s biological mother, the late Queen Elyssa, was vain and, at times, a little dim. At the end of the first novel, we are left wondering who Kelsea’s father is, so I can’t speak about him. Everyone in this story, from Mace to the Fetch, are all written like real people, not some romantic savior who can do no wrong.

Then there is the history of this land, the Tear. I’m still not 100 percent certain I completely understand, but it touches on their founder, William Tear, crossing the sea and leaving behind a dying land. I’m pretty sure that land is the United States. This story takes place in the future, when something has taken away so much of what we are today and gives these people what we were back in the medieval period. There are references to Rowling and Tolkien as great authors of the past, and the drug heroin even makes it in here as a lost recipe, but one that is trying to make a come back. I have seen this take on the world in at least one other book, but it left out too much, where I was confused at what the hell was going on. Queen, on the other hand, gives you just enough to realize, “OH DAMN,” and that’s it.

My last point is the lack of romanctic interest. I loved it. It’s not like there is no romance at all, because we do see that SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOULER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
Kelsea has feelings for the Fetch. There is also a moment when Pen is trying to wake her and he has no shirt on, and Kelsea wants to reach out to touch him. I ship Kelsea/Pen so damn much. Do I like the Fetch? Of course, he’s a wonderful character. I do not trust him. I don’t think he’s a realistic choice for her. If she wants to have a little fling with him, I am all for that. If she wants him to become her husband later on, I have a hard time believing that will happen.

I have already downloaded Invasion on to my Nook, and am trying so hard to finish Cary Elwe’s As You Wish before starting it. I give this book four and a half wormies, but I refuse to cut this little guy in half, so be satisfied with looking at only four of them.

four star

PS. Yes, I know Emma Watson is supposed to be cast as Kelsea in the movie adaptation, but I don’t know how I feel about that. Kelsea is supposed to have a darker coloring than her super fair mom and she’s fat. Emma is none of these things, and I think they are very important to Kelsea’s character. I guess we’ll see.

Have you read Johansen’s book yet? What did you think? If not, do you plan on reading it after my review? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday| Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is all about books that celebrate diversity. This list is going to be a combination of books I have read and books I want to read. I’ve included the descriptions from Goodreads as well. Enjoy!

10. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

8. Beloved – Toni Morrison

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Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

7. Rat QueensKurtis J. Wiebe

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Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.
It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

6. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
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Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.

5. Ms. MarvelG. Willow Wilson
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Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

4. Saga – Brian K. Vaughn, Fiona Staples
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Written by Eisner Award-winning “Best Writer” Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and drawn by Harvey Award-winning “Best Artist” Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40) Saga is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation.

3. An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
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Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

2. The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh
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Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

1. Kindred – Octavia E. Butler

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Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

What are some of your favorite books that celebrate diversity? Did any of them make my list? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review| Code Name Verity & Saga

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Since I finished these two books within 24 hours of each other, I thought it would be a good idea to write up two mini-reviews for them. Woo! We’ll go ahead and start with the one I finished first, Code Name Verity.

From Amazon:

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

This book was recommended to me by multiple people. I even had it featured on one of my posts about books I bought but hadn’t read yet. I was afraid it would either be so great that I’d need the second book immediately or it wouldn’t live up to the hype and I’d be disappointed. It definitely didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Split into two parts, we get two points of view. I expected this huge amazing story and I found the first half to be boring. I know, I know. We’re listening to our main character fighting through interrogation and we’re learning her backstory. I can’t even pinpoint why I was bored; I just was. I really enjoyed the second half, though. It was the second half of the book I couldn’t put down. Once we start to see the intricacies of the two stories, I started to care about the characters. Unfortunately, certain character deaths just left me feeling like:

 kind of sad but not really

And then I moved on. There was no uncontrollable sobbing, no faux tears, no big exclamations. Nothing. Some parts made me say, “Ooooohhh,” when there was a big “Ah-ha!” moment, but that was the most physical reaction I got from it. I did like the ending, and I even liked how a certain character died. I don’t think s/he would have wanted it any other way (and I’m writing it like this to keep it spoiler free).

All in all, I gave it three out of five wormies.
three star

Now on to Saga. From Amazon:

Saga is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation.

First of all, that summary doesn’t even come close to describing this series. Hazel’s parents are from two different planets, Landfall and Wreath, who have been at war with each other for as long as anyone can remember. Saga follows them as they’re being hunted for doing nothing other than loving each other. Both of these two, Marko and Alana, are beautifully written (and drawn) characters.

Saga-2

New and interesting species and creatures are imagined in this series, some of which I have a hard time trying to understand (like the robot people who reproduce the way humans do). This was the book that had me almost in tears, laughing out loud, grinning like an idiot from the cuteness of these two idiots and more. It kind of feels like Game of Thrones because you think everyone is dead or dying. I couldn’t count how many times I would sit there after reading a chapter like:

wtf

Then I’d read the next chapter and be all:

sorry i doubted you hug

Of course characters have to die; the story takes place during a war and our main characters are fugitives.  While I hated having saying good-bye to some people, I understood why it had to be done. Maybe I’m weird, but I rarely get emotional with people’s deaths in books. It really didn’t affect me at all when Dumbledore died, but it hit me hard when Sirius did. I guess it really depends on the circumstance of death; if a person is a soldier, okay, I expect that. If they’re accidentally hit, that’s when the feels hit me hard. It’s even worse in graphic novels because there’s rarely a warning that somebody is going to die. Many times a character will be having a conversation and the next panel will have their head gone or a bullet wound through their body. It sends a shock through you, and it’s why I love visual literature.

If you’re a fan of graphic novels (or even if you aren’t), I highly suggest picking this up.  Marko and Alana and Hazel Izabel and Lying Cat (LYING CATTTTT) and so many others make this one of the best graphic novels/comics I have ever read, second only to Rat Queens (because it’s the fucking Rat Queens, come on).

Saga gets five big wormies.

five star

Have you read any of these? Do you plan on picking them up soon? (YOU TOTALLY SHOULD). If you’ve read them did you like them as much or more than I did? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review| Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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This book was always part of the Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale at Barnes and Noble, and as many times as I picked it up and thought, “I should get this,” I never did. Don’t ask me why, but I just never picked it up. The last time my husband and I were at the local Barnes and Noble, I picked this book up and said, “Oh this book looks so good!” and my husband said, “You always grab that book, and you never buy it. Just buy it, you obviously want it.” Bought it, and he ended up reading it first. I’m pretty sure he loved this book more than The Alchemist. Before I go any further, let me give you the synopsis.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them. 
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 
A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

 

(Sorry, that was super long).

Emotions While Reading:
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Considering James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, is pretty much just a long-lost Revenge of the Nerds character, I felt this gif was appropriate. Allow me to begin with what I liked.

**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD**

What I Liked

The Players – The Big Five (the first five players to get past the First Gate) were all such great characters. Each was written with their own personality and actually kept that personality throughout the book. This may have been the first book I’ve read where the main characters actually sounded like teenagers. Thank goodness this wasn’t considered a YA book. Most YA books now have these horrible love stories that take away from the story. Though there is some romance in Ready Player One, it doesn’t take away from the story. So many times, an author will throw in some phrase or action that you just feel the character would never do or say, and I didn’t find that in this book at all.

All the 80s References – I’m going to be completely honest: there were some that I didn’t get. I was born after the 80s (I’m a baby, I know), so most of my 80s knowledge comes passed down from my “metal head” parents. My father definitely raised me to carry on his nerd legacy though: I was raised in a household where we had a room dedicated to Godzilla, Speed Racer, Star Wars and comic books (mainly X-Men). With that said, some of the references were too odd for me. Most references were just pure gold. At one point, Wade is trying to get passed one of the gates and the theme music from Conan the Barbarian comes on. My dad literally owns that CD. The last battle is a showdown between Ultraman and Mechagodzilla. Okay, let me show you something.

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See those guys? I OWN THESE. My parents bought it for me to decorate my mini-cubicle at work. My dad owns the whole dang series of Ultraman (that he found at a truck stop). If it’s 80s SciFI, it’s not too dorky for me. Some of the references got to be a little too much at times. For the first few chapters, I just felt like, “Good lord, how many references are we putting in this?” My husband had to tell me over and over that the whole point of the Gunters (short for Egg Hunters) was to memorize everything Halliday loved (which turned out to be 9/10s of the 80s). 
The Ruthlessness of the Sixers – Greed runs most businesses nowadays, so it makes sense that the main villain of the book comes in the form of big business. As ruthless as businesses can be, I did not expect them to actually murder people (even though it is in the synopsis). It kept the story realistic; as a society, we tend to think everything is a conspiracy, and most conspiracies involve big companies. So many stories are about the corporate evils coming after Mom & Pop stores and, in reality, they usually win. It was so nice to have a story that was neck and neck, on the edge until the very end. No lie, at one of the last chapters when it says, “And then we all died,” I was sitting at work ad had to stop from yelling. I was so pissed! Such a good story. 
Ogden Morrow – I loved this man. Absolutely loved him. He was like the Snape of Ready Player One (except not a dick). Also, my husband now has to live up to the expectation of buying me a life-size version of Rivendell. Just saying. I really just enjoyed how he was the crazy uncle, but didn’t overstep his part in the game. He played his part, helped the big Four (since Daito was murdered by the Sixers) by giving them a place to hook into the OASIS, but didn’t help them by giving them cheats or hints. All he did was guide them to their own destiny.
All in all, I am so glad I finally bought and read this book! I may have felt like the biggest dork ever, but I also felt like the biggest badass ever. 
My Rating: 5/5