Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: The Leveller (Julia Durango)

The Leveller (The Leveller, #1)
Title: The Leveller
Series: The Leveller, Book 1
Author: Julia Durango
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Action-Adventure
Told: First Person Singular (Nixy), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (some language, violence, scary situations, phobias, innuendo)
Format Read: ARC (won - thank you, Brittany!)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. 

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

*          *          *

In a Sentence: A short and stellar action-adventure for gamer and non-gamer alike!

Confession Time: I've never played a video game. My parents encouraged reading instead, and by the time I was old enough to purchase them myself I decided I'd rather spend my money and time on books (parental brainwashing = complete). The closest I can claim to ever playing one is an old Mother Goose computer game at daycare (which I rocked at), and maybe a few deaths on a friend's Super Mario Bros once. All that said though, the concept of video games fascinates me, so when I found out about this story I was super-excited to read it!

Writing/Story: Coming in at just over 250 pages, part of The Leveller's charm is how short it is. Because of it, the plot gets straight to the point so we can enjoy the thrills (and chills) of the virtual reality gaming world, the MEEP. The action was short and sweet, powering through levels and obstacles without a word wasted while the description effortlessly painted its pictures with just a few vivid sentences, the world easily visualized in my head.

Setting: Set mainly in virtual reality and centered around gamers, I was a little worried about not understanding all the lingo, but Julia made this book completely accessible to gamer and non-gamer alike. I may have missed out on a few inside jokes but didn't notice, and I really enjoyed learning more about gaming and the culture.

I did have a slight problem with the real world, however. As far as I'm aware, we are still far from the ease of virtual reality that is shown in The Leveller. Never a worry with futuristic fiction, but while the MEEP resided leaps and bounds from current technology, the rest of Leveller's world did not. I noted no other advances - to the tech or anything else - and in fact the general vibe of the story (while really fun) seemed more retro than the few decades into the future that I assumed this was set in. I wasn't expecting drastic changes, but a few more other than the MEEP would've been completely plausible. We spent little time in the real world though, so I was able to overlook it for the most part.

Characters/Romantic Relationship: Nixy was sassy and snarky and I adored her. She showed great initiative and courage, going where grown men feared to tread to feed her college tuition. When she stumbled she picked herself back up, and it was simply a lucky break that she ended up with a cute boy in the end. Said cute boy Wyn was charming and easygoing and I liked him, and although I'm not quite sure I fully bought into Nixy and Wyn together I'm willing to roll with it and reserve judgment for the next book since their relationship really had very little time and opportunity to grow into much of anything.

Favorite Bit: The language cheat. In tense and seemingly unfair situations, swearing is bound to happen, but instead of subjecting readers to the usual words the author gave Nixy a proclivity for foreign swear words. She didn't abuse them though, which made me enjoy them even more.

Conclusion: A thrilling and chilling read that I recommend for anyone who enjoys a quick action-adventure virtual reality story! Really looking forward to the sequel!

For Fans Of: video games

Scribble Rating
4.5 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, June 26, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (6/26/15)

Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!

Nobody's Goddess (Never Veil #1)
Nobody's Goddess by Amy McNulty (PBK)
Wasn't going to read another fantasy but I picked this up and next thing I knew I was on Page 50. An interesting tale of what would happen if one gender completely dominated the other. Over halfway in now and it's taken a real Beauty & the Beast turn, which I always appreciate. ;)

Court of Fives (Court of Fives, #1)Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot (ARC)
2 Stars. A fantasy with lots of potential but little execution of it that I just couldn't connect with. Review to come.

Assassination Classroom vol. 1 by Yusei Matsui (PBK)
4 Stars. With the creepy cover and killer name I always assumed this was akin to Battle Royale and avoided it, but after seeing it all over Twitter I finally grabbed it from the library and couldn't believe (1) how so not Battle Royale it is and (2) how much I loved it! It is creepy but also fun and funny and I'm definitely going to give the 2nd volume a try.

Undertow (Undertow #1)
Undertow by Michael Buckley (ARC)
I'm starting to go into dystopian withdrawal, so I think I'll devour this beauty next! Unless Firewalker appears...

So what are you reading this week?

Friday, June 19, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (6/19/15)

Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!

Court of Fives (Court of Fives, #1)
Court of Fives by Kate Elliot (ARC)
This came highly recommended by one of my favorite authors, but alas I'm struggling with it in every aspect: writing, story, characters. Since it's for review I will finish it, but as of right now (about two-thirds in) it's 2 Stars for me.

The Novice (Summoner, #1)Nimona

The Novice by Taran Matharu (ARC)
3.5 Stars. A mashup of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson that, as long as you don't mind all the stark similarities, is rather entertaining. Review to come.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (PBK)
4 Stars. An interesting comic about heroes and villains and sidekicks that I went into completely blind and quite enjoyed. Definitely need to read again, possibly for review if I can.

The Start of Me and You
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (ARC)
No idea what I'll pick next but I'm in serious need of non-fantasy and really need to read this soon. 

So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WoW: Drift & Dagger (Kendall Kulper)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Drift & Dagger
Title: Drift & Dagger
Author: Kendall Kulper
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
In Mal's world, magic is everything. But Mal is a "blank," the anti-magic. Blanks can't be hexed or cursed or saved or killed by magic. And everyone is afraid of them--even Mal himself.

So Mal hides what he is--except from Essie Roe, a witch and his best friend. On the day Essie reveals his secret and casts him out from the only home he's ever known, Mal experiences the true shock of betrayal.

Now Mal travels the world in search of rare, illegal magical relics. When his partner in crime, Boone, hears rumors of a legendary dagger that can steal a witch's power, Mal knows he's finally found his means of revenge. But as the chase for the fabled knife takes them from Boston to Paris to Constantinople, Mal realizes there are secrets afoot that he's only beginning to understand--and all the while the blank monster inside him threatens to escape.

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: This sounds like an awesome magical adventure! Definitely game.

So what book are you waiting on?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Katie Finn)

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge, #1)
Title: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge, Book 1
Author: Katie Finn
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Content Rating: Teen (minor sensuality)
Format Read: ARC (EpicLibrarian)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Hot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don't hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she's someone else. As though the summer wasn't complicated enough already.

*          *          *

In a SentenceA light but somewhat vexing contemporary romance about a sympathetic but naive girl that made me cringe way too much.

Writing: The sentence structure was a little awkward for me. I'm a lover of the comma, but here it was used not only to excess but much of the time in the wrong places. Hopefully this was just an ARC error and corrected in the final copy.

Story: Due to a highly predictable plot and naive main character, most of this book was a rather painful read for me. Gemma tried so hard to do good, but "coincidental" and "mysterious" bad things just kept happening to her. I cringed so much through the middle of the book that I finally had to set it aside for a day or two, I just couldn't take anymore.

That said, for a story about revenge it was a surprisingly light summer read, and when bad things weren't happening to Gemma it was a sweet romance. And while everything was completely obvious from the onset (I can even predict several major events and reveals in the next book), I will admit I did waver a little throughout. ("She knows. Doesn't she? She has to know, here's the proof. It is her...isn't it? No, it must be her.") The end had me banging the book against my head, though. I can't say why, but Gemma's next move is just ridiculous to me considering the ramifications to her romantic interests.

Characters: Gemma was a highly sympathetic character, but her overwhelming naivete got on my nerves. I guess she was trying so hard to see the good not only in herself but in others that she couldn't even consider evil intentions despite the mountain of coincidences and blatant hints to the contrary. It's hard to say if she brought it upon herself, but I don't think she deserved it. As for the rest of the cast, I can't say much without spoiling anything (just in case you might not guess it from the onset), but Sophie was an amazing and understanding and fun best friend and despite her boy habits I'd love her for my own bff!

Romantic Relationship: This was definitely an "aww" romance. Josh was a sweetie and he and Gemma were great together, and when they weren't in the thralls of evil intent their scenes were the best of the book and made it almost bearable.

Conclusion: While it had its good points (the happy moments, the romance), they were unfortunately outweighed by the bad points for me (Gemma's naivete, anything revenge-related). This is the first book in a trilogy, and although the thought of reading two more books to get to the happy ending gives me great pause, now that it's over I'm a little curious to see if Gemma will rediscover some of the smarts she had as a conniving child and will probably give the second book a try.

Scribble Rating
2.5 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, June 12, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (6/12/15)

Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!

The Novice (Summoner, #1)
The Novice by Taran Matharu (ARC)
Although it reads like a fanfiction mashup of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, it's entertaining enough to hold my interest. 

Trial by Fire (Worldwalker, #1)So Cute It Hurts!!, Vol. 1The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini (ARC)
4.5 Stars. WOW. Epic and unique and completely engrossing - need Firewalker, stat! Review to come.

So Cute It Hurts!! vol. 1 by Go Ikeyamada (PBK)
4 Stars. Fun and funny and all around adorable. Especially loved the Japanese sign language! Will definitely be continuing the series!

The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher (ARC)
4 Stars. A fun and funny contemporary romance that satisfied my comic-con fix and made me laugh. Just don't take it seriously. Review to come.

Court of Fives (Court of Fives, #1)
Court of Fives by Kate Elliot (ARC)
I'll probably read a contemporary romance next (or something contemporary-esque), but I have no idea what at this point and I do know this beauty will be coming up soon! Can't wait.

So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WoW: Firewalker (Josephine Angelini)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Firewalker (Worldwalker, #2)
Title: Firewalker (Worldwalker #2)
Author: Josephine Angelini
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini!

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: Just finished the epic and unique and completely engrossing Trial By Fire this weekend and now I need the sequel like I've needed no other sequel before! Thank goodness it releases in just a few months because I don't think I could survive any longer.

So what book are you waiting on?

Friday, June 5, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (6/5/15)

Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!

I've finally finished beta-reading (although I still have to type up my notes XP) so after a month's absence I'm back to reading novels again - and that means The #FridayReads Review returns as well!

Trial by Fire (Worldwalker, #1)So Cute It Hurts!!, Vol. 1

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini (ARC)
Really didn't know what to expect with this and I've been pleasantly surprised! The story's a little darker than I normally prefer, and the 3rd Person Omniscient POV and small print make it feel denser than it is, but it's proving a really interesting read. I especially like the magic, and the crucible-mechanic dynamic. 

So Cute It Hurts!! vol. 1 by Go Ikeyamada (PBK)
Originally passed this one over but after seeing it everywhere I decided to give it a try after all. Just got it from the library today!

The Leveller (The Leveller, #1)Special A, Vol. 01 (Special A, #1)

The Leveller by Julia Durango (ARC)
4 Stars. A short and stellar action-adventure for gamers and non-gamers alike! Review to come.

Special A vol. 1 by Maki Minami (PBK)
3 Stars. On the recommendation of a friend I nabbed this from the library. It was pretty good - had a few fun squee moments and I see potential for the series. May try more.

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher (ARC)
After the epic-esque fantasy I'm definitely going to need something light and fun!

So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WoW: The Scorpion Rules (Erin Bow)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Scorpion Rules
Title: The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace — even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive. 

Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages. 

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: I'm not usually much for political thrillers, but this original concept is way too intriguing to pass up - REALLY excited for this one!!

So what book are you waiting on?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy (Sam Maggs)

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
Title: The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
Series: standalone
Author: Sam Maggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Genre: Adult Entertainment
Content Rating: Older Teen (some language, innuendo)
Format Read: Hardcover (publisher)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Quirk Books!

In a SentenceA fun, quick read and resource on geek girl culture, conventions & cosplay, and feminism.

I've been a fangirl for almost two decades now, but in all that time I've never really explored the fandom aspect. Aside from attending some conventions (local and national) I really haven't taken part in the collective - online or in person. Despite my lone fangirl status though, fandom does interest me, but as one apart from the fandom I sometimes don't quite understand all the lingo. So when I had the opportunity to review this "handbook for girl geeks" (thank you, Quirk Books!), I jumped at the chance to broaden my fangirl knowledge.

This book covers a wide range of fandoms in a wide range of locations - from entertainment to internet to in person. Highlights include whole sections on fanfiction (where to find it and how to write it), how to behave online (and how to handle those who misbehave), and there's a whole chapter on conventions that covers all the bases: choosing your con, how to prepare and what to do (and what to pack - very important!), and of course tips and tricks for cosplaying. Add in its fangirl-speak and fanfiction glossaries along with field guides to fandoms and internet kingdoms, and The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy is a real geek girl gem! Loner me even learned how to be a better fangirl, how to connect with other fangirls, and how to convert potentials to the cause.

The last chapter on feminism was interesting and eye-opening. I've always considered myself a feminist of sorts, but apparently I never really knew what it truly meant. Sam explained it perfectly and, although the whole book was rather empowering, this chapter took it to a whole other level. After reading this book cover to cover, I can now say with certainty and pride that:

I'm a fangirl, a feminist, and a force to be reckoned with.

While it will definitely need updating in a few years, as most resource handbooks do, I can see this book evolving and expanding into something no respectable fangirl can live without.

My Only Complaint: I would've liked the glossaries at the back of the book (or perhaps the front) instead of mixed in - I needed the fangirl-speak glossary long before it came and had to Google four words before stumbling upon it.

Conclusion: Whether you need a little help being a better fangirl (and understanding the lingo) like me, want to discover fandoms other than your own, or are already a master fangirl and just want to compare notes with the amazing Sam Maggs, I definitely recommend giving this fun, quick resource a read! It would also make an excellent gift for the other fangirls in your life. No matter the fandom, you really can't go wrong with this book.

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles