Reviews

Posted in LitRPG

Wildcard

Goodreads synopsis: 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?

Ya’ll. Read it. Lu has out done herself. I have found a new favorite series.

She continues with all the plot twists.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

LOOK AWAY NOW.

LAST CHANCE!!

OK. So. Taylor, the master mind working with Zero and the assassin, Jax, turns out to be the leader of this entire crazy group. She is so terrified of eventually dying that she took terminally ill children for a “clinical trial” of sorts, and pumped them full of drugs and tests in order to try and find a cure for death.

You guessed it. Sasuke was one of these children. So was Jax. Both children terminally ill. So sick that this test trial was their last chance to live. Jax was an orphan adopted by Taylor, but eventually, Sasuke’s parents took him out of the trial which forced Taylor to go to drastic measure to keep her prized test subject- KIDNAPPING.

She’s deplorable.

She semi-succeeds with Sasuke since he showed the most potential, but eventually, even his body gives out, but not before she has accomplished a major goal: copying the human life and mind into a stream of data and keeping the essence of that individual alive within a virtual world.

Sasuke isn’t real.

He is not alive.

He is a program. Solely controlled by Taylor.

BUT. As I said..his essence is still alive.

Do with that information what you will, but I shall leave the rest of the book a mystery. Go read it. It’s WORTH IT.

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Posted in LitRPG, sci-fi

LitRPG Paradise

https://warcross.fandom.com/wiki/Emika_Chen Link for Title Photo

Goodreads Synopsis:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS: I MUST GUSH ABOUT THIS BOOK

YA’LL. This book is ultimate boss level good.

My personal Synopsis to fill in any holes that I will discuss:

Emika Chen is a poor orphan girl from New York trying to survive.

Hideo Tanaka is a rich brat from Tokyo that has a British accent and woes from his childhood that surround his missing brother, and is the creator of the Neurolink device and Warcross.

Hideo hires Emika as a hacker to bring down his enemy, ZERO, that is trying to destroy the Neurolink through the Warcross championships after she glitches herself into the game.

Sasuke Tanaka. The missing brother of Hideo. The plot twist.

I have to say, I wasn’t sold on it until the last few chapters, but Lu threw in a plot twist like no other and blew my brains away. I feel as if my brain has actually been affected by the Neurolink devices that are in this game. I am in LOVE with this book.

Okay, there are several main points I want to discuss and gush over, so here we go.

  1. Let’s talk VR. I have never used VR, but I want to. That being said, I believe that the Neurolink is the direction that the world is going with gaming technology. Games such as Pokemon Go and Wizards Unite already allow for access to a virtual world that overlays our own. Neurolink makes these games child’s play in comparison, but from my limited experiences, this is the closest thing we have to Neurolink since I have not yet used VR technology .
  • The events that happen this book are valid fears. Hideo plans to use the Neurolink to control the actions of each individual in the world all because of his inability to deal with his brother’s supposed kidnapping ( we have no clue what actually happened that day). Dude. See a therapist. Don’t try to be a dictator in the name of keeping the world safe. People have free will. Let them exercise it. I commend you for wanting the world to be safer, but mind control is NOT the solution.

2. The typical -troubled teen trying to make their way in life and is rescued by the rich and powerful for one convoluted thing or the other and then they inevitably fall in love- plot line.

Ok. Hideo and Emika. While I would have been fine with seeing this happen, I am SO glad that it didn’t. I personally think that if this plot had unfolded, it would have been the downfall of the book. The love story wasn’t told very well and seemed a bit forced, but dang if Lu didn’t ruin this story and give me exactly what I wanted. A BREAK-UP. WOO! Emika could do so much better. I personally would like to see her and Roshan together, but that’s just me.

3. Zero. Zero is trying to prevent Hideo from taking over the world’s population and is striving to hack into the Warcross championships to destroy the Neurolink by planting a virus within the game. He would have succeeded had Emika not unknowingly been fighting for the wrong team. He is by far the most interesting character in the book and the game. Fight me.

BIGGEST SPOILER-LOOK AWAY IF YOU AREN’T READY

LAST CHANCE.

https://blog.supercoder.com/my-skill-sharpener/dont-let-these-coding-mistakes-cost-your-practice/

ZERO IS SASUKE.

ZERO IS THE MISSING SASUKE TANAKA. AND HIDEO DOESN’T KNOW. AND HIS BROTHER IS TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN. AND NOW EMIKA IS POSSIBLY WORKING WITH ZERO?!

Lu, you have out done yourself. I need more. I immediately went across the street from my workplace to the public library and checked out Wildcard as soon as I finished Warcross and will be starting it today, so please stay tuned for the continuation of this review!

Also, if you like Anime, I highly recommend Sword Art Online..another amazing RPG theme!

Posted in Fantasy

A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads Synopsis: Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

To the die hard fans of V.E. Schwab, and this novel, I am so sorry, but I don’t understand the level of hype. Yes, the book is very well written, informative, has a handsome male protagonist, a lovable, feisty female protagonist, and an amazing primary antagonist, BUT.. I was not thrilled.

I found myself needing breaks from the book because I would get bored and my mind began to wonder. Though, there are several brilliant and strange topics/theories needed to be discussed.

Slight Spolier Warning:

Ok. Delilah Bard. She HAS to be an antari of some kind. I feel like her magic was taken away when her eye was removed. (Also, if this is true, then I say that Kell just takes his eye out and be done with all the BS. Don’t come for me).) Also super convenient that she doesn’t remember the circumstances behind losing her eye either, suspicious? I think so.

While Lila is such a badass, fearless female character, I found myself frequently annoyed with her childlike tendencies to steal things and touch things that she shouldn’t, such as magically warded items in a London she has no knowledge about. Common sense should have kicked in, but obviously it didn’t.

Kell…poor, lonely Kell. Do I feel bad for Kell for essentially being the property of the rich, sweetly enslaved for his powers? Yes. But he has MAGIC for pete’s sake. RUN AWAY. There are so many other options than staying enslaved in by a King and Queen who supposedly love you, but only use you for your abilities.

Though, I would definitely bargain with him for his coat. That thing is awesome and is a garment I would gladly add to my personal wardrobe.

Now my favorite character: Holland.

Holland is the rival Antari enslaved to the sibling rulers of White London.

Holland is the only character in this story that I truly pity and love. While he may be ruthless killer, an evil among evils, he is a true slave to his rulers. In White London, magic is scant, and any magic a person has is bound to them by seals to make sure they keep their magic rather than having it stripped from them by those more powerful.

Siblings Athos and Astrid torture Holland by forcing him to do their bidding by having his covered in seals infused with their magic so they might assume complete control. Holland was never a pleasant person, but he was made worse by the twins control.

I won;t give any more away about the story, so let me end with this.

I will be reading the second book because I can’t stand leaving a tale unfinished, and the tale is interesting enough for me to want to know what happens. All I can say is that A gathering of Shadows MUST be up to par with what Arya Stark will eventually do on her journey outside of Westeros. (Delilah and Arya are the same for wanting to adventure, therefore that comment was necessary-Thanks to Sara for that idea that I can now obsess over).

All in all:

Posted in Fantasy

Sorcery of Thorns

Goodreads Synopsis:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined

This is the perfect book for those looking for a followup to Harry Potter.

Elisabeth is an orphan raised in a library full of enchanted grimoires that each have their own needs and personalities. (Think Harry’s Monsters Book of Monsters).

Growing up around the grimoires has imbued her with magic and allow her to heal quickly and form bonds with the books as though they are people, but of course, this talent is also her downfall.

Elisabeth is the perfect example of headstrong female presence. She refuses to back down from a situation just because of lack of experience or fear.

I find myself personally connecting with her in 1 special way. We both HATE to brush our hair. The tangles are just too torturous.

Now to her love interest, Nathaniel Thorn. Hence the title, Sorcery of Thorns. the Thorn family is famous for necromancy, and Nathaniel is particularly famous in his own right for being the last of the Thorn family lineage. Each famous sorcerer family is tied to a powerful upper level demon, in Nathaniel’s case, this is Silas, a demon prince with alabaster skin that can take the form of a common house cat. But be careful with demons, they are always looking for methods in which to bargain more power from their masters.

I personally like Nathaniel even though his trope is a bit obvious. He meets wild girl, he falls in love despite his best efforts. He’s flawed and afraid to love her. But in the end, none of this matters and they fall in love and live almost happily ever after.

Though, if you want to discover what the “almost” is about, you’ll have to go read it;).

Posted in Humor

Again, but Better

Goodreads Synopsis:

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Christine Riccio wrote a fabulous debut novel, and I would kind of like to know how she captured my personality so well because the character of Shane was more than relatable.

I remember what it was like to enter college with no friends and feeling stuck in that rut of study, work, and endlessly binge watching Netflix. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

When I finally made friends in the journalism program my junior year, there was the need for acceptance and fear of rejection very similar to what drove Shane to study abroad. The desperation for new friends and feeling like it was okay to be myself again felt liberating.

When I finally decided to study abroad, I had trials and tribulations on my trip just like her. I reached the point of total homesickness, and I remember those moments when self-doubt would creep in. I pushed through on my journey, and I came out a stronger person because of it. We don’t all get the luxury of a rewrite like Shane, but we do get the choice of how to remember or handle our experiences.

With a love for a good sitcom and Harry Potter, Shane is my soul sister. Her journals (horcruxes, as she calls them) housed her greatest story ideas and her innermost thoughts.

Christine Riccio spoke to me with her vivid imagery of awkwardness (seriously, there were some all too relatable cringe-worthy moments). Yes, the overall story was a little corny, but that’s what made it relatable. Everyone wishes they could rewrite chapters in their past like Jenna Rink in “13 Going on 30,” but the corny parts were few and far between because the were overshadowed by humor and excellent character development.

I demand a sequel.

Posted in Fantasy

Crown of Coral and Pearl

Goodreads Synopsis:

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Nor and Zadie are identical twins with only one “flaw” separating them, a scar. Nor saved Zadie from drowning as a child, and almost died from poison of the blood coral that left her cheek permanently scarred.

In Varenia, beauty matters more than any other thing. Girls compete to be chosen to be sent as the next princess of a rival kingdom, which only few in the village realize is total BS.

Varenia is starving, and without enough pearls to harvest, they become poorer by the day, and the support of the kingdom is desparately needed to sustain their existence, but when Zadie is chosen as the next princess, then injured, Nor must go in her place, which is both deadly and a dream come true to see the world outside of Varenia.

This tale of a love between two sisters and a hatred between two brothers unravels a captivating story to save Varenia and preserve the love between sisters and princes,

Posted in Humor, Romance

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (but it’s actually me)

Goodreads Synopsis:

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)

2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).

3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

This. Book. Is. So. Cute!!!!

Nina Hill is introverted, perpetually awkward, a super nerd, and essentially me (except for being a whiz at trivia, I suck at trivia)

Nina works at Knight’s, the local bookstore withing walking distance from her home. She doesn’t own a car, religiously plans each day, and lives a very structured and stable life. Anything spontaneous ruins her entire day. I wonder if she may be on the spectrum a tad, but if she is, that makes this book even BETTER.

Nina helps bring awareness to the daily struggles brought on by anxiety as well as how families tend to be absolutely bonkers.

Per NetGalley, I do not want to spoil any of this story, BUT, when it releases, just read it. SO CUTE.

Posted in Dystopian, Fantasy, Horror

Wayward Children (1-4)

Goodreads Synopses:

Every Heart a Doorway:

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost

Down Among the Sticks and Bones:

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Beneath the Sugar Sky:

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts

In an Absent Dream:

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well

My (very positive) Thoughts:

Alright ya’ll. Here we go. Seanan McGuire. Where do I begin? These books are incredibly short, yet so thorough in their completion that it is very hard for me to find a true complaint about them.

Each tale connects to the first book by giving the back stories of the favorites mentioned from the first, and it explains how they all came to Eleanor’s home for Wayward Children.

Children that are unloved, unwanted, or simply don’t fit, have the capability to find doors to the land where they truly belong. Some lands are nonsense, others are logic, some evil, some kind. Not every land is sunshine and rainbows, some are underworlds with dancing skeletons, but every child finds their true home in a twisted reality.

Jack and Jill by far have my favorite back story. They live in a twisted land of werewolves and vampire, where Dracula, Vanhelsing, and Dr. Frankenstein come to life, yet they thrive.

I am not inclined to spoil these books. They are SUCH SHORT READS. SO JUST READ THEM AND BE ENTHRALLED ALREADY.

Posted in Dystopian, sci-fi

The Girl in Red

Post apocalyptic Little Red Riding Hood? I’m so down.

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems.

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods….

I loved the idea behind this book, Aliens vs Predators recreated into Little Red Riding Hood AND mixed with the Hot Zone, what more could a person want?

Red is an exemplary female role that refuses to let anybody boss her around, including her parents and snotty brother.

After the news showed that people were coming down with a mysterious sickness, Red began packing her survival pack to be prepared to leave once the apocalypse hit. Her family scoffed at her, but she ended up being the lucky one.

Her mother contracted the Cough, but was murdered along with her father by a band of racists for them being an interracial couple. They sacrificed themselves so Red and Adam (snotty brother) could escape into the woods.

Oh, and did I fail to mention that in addition to being an absolute boss, Red is also an amputee and wears a below the knee prosthetic? Even more boos-like, right?

Anyways, Adam ultimately dies from his hive mind mentality and Red is left alone in the woods with only her small axe, her back, and her own determination left to get to her grandmother’s cabin 300 miles away.

Along her journey she discovers that the Cough isn’t the only thing killing people, that the CDC had engineered a parasite that lives in a humans stomach until it is ready to burst out and kill everyone,(here’s where Alien vs Predator comes in). She also takes in 2 children (8 & 10) and kicks some fake militia butt and she eventually finds Grandma’s house.

Now, for the criticism. Henry ended the story very abruptly as if she all of a sudden tired of writing and was like “OH, here’s a nice spot to wrap it all up 25 hiking days away from grandmas in which I will supply no detail or story as to what happened! Let’s do this!” So while the book was amazing, the ending fell short. I felt as if the story could have continued on for several more chapters, maybe by getting Sirois (which sounds like Cirrhosis) to spill the beans on what the stupid “classified” information about the Cough and the alien parasite bursting out of people’s chests were? Like COME ON, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE THAT UNEXPLAINED!? *crying face*

I give it a 3.5 flower review.