I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

princess-xI started reading this book because I saw an audiobook version of it at my local library. Upon reading the description of the book I decided reading the physical book would be better than listening to the audio version for one main, and very important reason. This book is part graphic novel, and the graphic novel is VERY important.

This book is about two girls, Libby and May, who become best friends in elementary school. They are both a little on the awkward side and like nerdy things like comic books, drawing, writing, ninjas, etc. Together they create a comic book character whom they name Princess X. Fast forward a couple years and Libby and her mother have passed away in a car accident, taking Princess X with her to the grave. Fast forward three more years and May, whose parents got divorced shortly after Libby died, is visiting her father back in her home city. As she wanders the city she starts seeing Princess X everywhere. There are stickers, and patches on backpacks, finally she discovers the Princess X webcomic and knows that somehow Libby survived the car accident (which May discovers was MORE than a simple accident) and needs help from her best friend. The webcomic is littered with easter eggs that only May would understand.With the help of her new hacker friend, Trick, May begins a quest to find the creator of the Princess X comic, however, there is a very dangerous person also looking.

This book was so good I could barely put it down. It’s fast paced and the mystery element is very intriguing. The story is so compelling that i didn’t pause while reading to make notes, so now I have to try and remember things after the fact. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the lack of romance. Trick and May are friends, but not romantic. Sure, there is potential for it to develop but that isn’t what the story was about. The story is about solving the riddles in the Princess X comic, and saving Libby. I also really enjoyed the relationship between may and her father. May’s father truly wanted to help May find Libby, even though he wasn’t sure it would come to fruition. I like that there was a positive male father figure in this story.

The comic book element to the story was awesome. It was really neat to read bits of the comic and try and figure out the easter eggs before May did. I can’t imagine that the story would be as compelling without the comic book sections to go along with it.

That basically about it for this review. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because the story is just so interesting. Cherie Priest has a true gift for storytelling and describing the setting of the story. I felt almost like i was with May and Trick during their whole adventure. I highly recommend reading this

Advertisements

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready_player_one_coverReady Player One by Ernest Cline
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.31 stars
My Rating: 5 stars

Let me start by saying this book is full of nostalgia. Even for people who didn’t necessarily grow up in the 1980s, such as myself (born in the 80s but grew up in the 90s). Even if you’re simply a proud geek or nerd this book will delight you based on all the references to geek culture. There’s really something for every one in this book. Music nerd? Lots of 80 music references, Dungeons & Dragons fan? Pretty much the whole basis of the book is a quest. MMO RPG gamer? The setting is primarily an online game. Probably only book nerds, like me, would get the Cory Doctorow reference, though.

So, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Set in 2044, a dystopian, almost post-apocalyptic future where the only way to escape reality is to log into the virtual reality known as OASIS. Background story: the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, has created an in game quest upon his death. Players need to solve riddles to find three keys and three gates. The first player to get to the end of the quest wins James Halliday’s entire estate. The whole world becomes obsessed with this game. Groups of players are forming to work together to find the keys, and a corporate conglomerate is trying to solve the puzzles as well to take over the company.

Main character Wade, better known by his online avatar’s name, Parzival, is an orphaned high schooler living with his abusive aunt in the Stacks (basically a trailer park where the trailers are stacked vertically). Wade’s only escape from his dismal life is going to virtual high school in the OASIS, and hunting for Halliday’s Egg (that’s what the prize is called). Wade’s only friend is Aech and together they speculate where the Egg may be hidden and how to solve the first riddle. One day, Wade makes a connection and finds the hiding place of the first key. His name shoots to the top of the score board and he is an instant celebrity! Unfortunately, the corporate group looking to control the OASIS will do anything, including murder, to get to the Egg first. Suddenly, Wade’s life is thrown upside down and he’s on the run.

What I like about this book is that there is something for everyone. It’s a race against time, it’s nostalgic, there’s a little bit of romance, and there’s a mystery element too. It’s exciting and fast paced, and the characters are interesting and relatable. If you’ve ever been insecure, introverted, bullied in school, or straight up socially awkward, you will relate to the characters in this book.

Fun Fact: Ready Player One is being made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg! It’s set for release in 2018. If you want to read the book before the movie comes out you should do it soon!

That’s it for this review, Internetland! Until next time, keep turning pages!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

This quote describes how I feel about the book, kind of. Let me explain.

I originally found a copy of this book in perfect condition at Value Village and thought the cover looked really interesting. I didn’t read the dust jacket or anything before I bought it and simply judged it by the cover. This book has been on my ‘to read’ list for a while but I always found something I would rather read instead. It went completely out of my mind. I decided that while I was driving home for my break from school I would listen to an audiobook. While browsing the Edmonton Public Library EAudiobook collection I happen to come across The Night Circus in the romance section. I thought, why not? I probably won’t get around to reading it otherwise.

So I downloaded it and started listening to it. I was instantly engaged in the world and the characters. The descriptions of the settings and the relationships between the characters felt so real to me. Since finishing this book I have almost been a little obsessed with researching victorian travelling circuses. I didn’t want the magic of this book to end! I feel like if Le Cirque des Reves was a real circus I would be a Reveur for sure. And I’m going to knit myself a crimson coloured scarf for sure!

So in relation to the quote, one day the book was not there and the next it was and I had no warning in how it would affect my life. That sounds really melodramatic… Oh well.

The story follows two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been pitted against each other by their teachers in a challenge where only one can survive. The venue for the challenge is Le Cirque des Reves. The only problem is that Marco and Celia have fallen in love and now must find a way to get out of the challenge with both of them still alive. I loved all the characters in this book and they all felt so real to me.

There were so many things I loved about this book and I’m having a hard time articulating them. I really liked the foreshadowing and how it was incorporated in the text. Poppet, one of the twins who were born in the circus,  has the ability to see the future in the stars. When she sees things she tells Celia about it and it is fascinating to try and figure out when and how her visions will play out. For example, (spoiler alert!) when Poppet says she doesn’t want them to put the nice lady in the ground. When Celia asks which lady Poppet responded that she didn’t know because they looked the same. She doesn’t elaborate any further, but I was able to figure out that it was probably one of the Burgess sisters who would die and I was right.

This book isn’t considered a steampunk novel but I got a similar vibe from it. It’s possible it was because it was set in the same era but there are some other factors that I can’t seem to put words to. I love the movie The Prestige and The Illusionist was pretty good too, and The Night Circus fits into that same genre. I am definitely going to be reading more from this genre and I’m excited about doing more research on Victorian circuses!

PS. I found this tumblog: Calling All Reveurs :3 yay!

Dragon’s Blood by Todd McCaffrey

Dragon's Blood by Todd McCaffrey

Dragon’s Blood by Todd McCaffrey

This is the first time I’ve read any of the Pern books by Todd McCaffrey and to be honest I was a hesitant to start it because of some reviews from fellow Pern lovers. I heard that basically his stuff was crap in comparison to Anne’s work and that I shouldn’t give him the time of day. I decided to read it and synthesize my own opinion of his work and I started with Dragon’s Blood.

I started out with the foreword which was written by Anne McCaffrey and after reading I felt a little better about reading a book about my beloved Pern by someone who wasn’t Anne. She basically said in the foreword that Todd was there for the whole process of creating Pern and she read and approved of this book. She also had two of her biggest fans read and approve of the book before it was allowed to be sent to a publisher. I felt a little sad after reading this because I still get feels when I think about Anne passing away.

So, I continued reading. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I think that Todd really captured the feel of Pern and he had all the facts right. The basic plot of the book is that there are two timelines occurring at the same time during the book and characters from both times lines are racing to create a cure for a virus that is infecting and killing dragons. It was nice to see some returning characters from early in the time line, and I liked that there were some new characters introduced. I’m always a little leery about new characters because I never think I will like them as much as the original characters. Fortunately, I feel in love with the characters in this book and I think it was Todd’s ability to write in a way to make the reader empathized with the characters.

One blaring difference between Pern books by Anne McCaffrey and Todd’s was that the overall tone was much darker. Dragon’s Blood was dark. Very dark. Much darker than even the plague themed books by Anne. I felt there was so much death in this book and it was all sudden. It was like, “La, la, la, oh look baby dragon, so cute, much love, omg dead baby dragon.” 😐 BAM. Here I was thinking the main heroine was going to be the next Lessa… nope. I’m currently half way through Dragon’s Fire by both Anne and Todd and I’m finding it very dark as well. Todd seems to have a thing about dead babies…

So, overall I did enjoy reading this book and I feel that Todd did Pern justice, even if his tone is much darker than Anne’s. Of course he will never totally replace Anne as the writer of Pern, but at least he’s giving it his best effort and open to taking feedback from the fans. I’ll continue to read his books and I think I will enjoy them more and more as I get used to all the darkness.

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

When I was a kid I loved this The Babysitter’s Club spin-off series that was a set of diaries called The California Diaries by Ann M. Martin. I could not get enough of these books and every time I found one at the library I would grab it and hold on to it for dear life. Because of these books I have tried on many occasions to get into the habit of writing in a journal. It’s never been a habit that sticks. This blog is the closest thing to a journal I have, although I love to buy pretty journals. Someday I may write epic things in my journals but not anytime soon.

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger has a similar format. The book is written in journal style and includes some emails, instant messages, letters, etc. and instead of being from just one person’s point of view it switches between three people. T.C., Augie, and Alejandra. I usually really love journal style writing, but in this book, because it incorporates different styles, and various points of view, I wasn’t as big a fan. I liked the book, but I didn’t REALLY like it.

The plot goes a little something like this:

T.C., Augie and Alejandra are assigned a journal assignment for school and begin writing down the events that happen in their life and the emotions brought about by them. We find out that T.C’s mother passed away when he was only a small child, and he and Augie became best friends and self-proclaimed brothers shortly after. Alejandra is the daughter of the former ambassador of Mexico, and never really fit in at home or at school. She feels she’ll let down her family if she doesn’t pursue a career in politics, but all she really wants to do it be a performer. At school people think she is a snob because of her status, and the “name dropping” that sometimes happens. She’s met a lot of celebrities.

T.C. falls for Alejandra and tries all sorts of schemes to get her to like him back, however she’s a little too wise for that and all she wants (cause she secretly likes him too) is for him to just be himself. Augie is just starting to figure out that he’s gay (much to nobody’s surprise) and has developed a crush on a boy on the football team who seems to reciprocate those feelings.

One of the biggest plot points in when T.C. meets Hucky, a deaf six-year-old boy living in a home for deaf children. At first T.C. thinks that this little boy is some apparition of his late mother because he’s telling T.C. which pitches to swing on, resulting in T.C. getting a lot of hits. He finally discovers that this little boy is in fact just a boy and tries to befriend him by learning American Sign Language. As T.C. and Hucky develop a relationship it allows T.C. to be able to accept his mother’s death, and helps Hucky, who loves Mary Poppins and wants more than anything for her to come live with him, realize he’s not alone.

There are two gut-wrenchingly sweet parts in this book that I want to mention. Well, there are actually more than that but I’m only going to mention the two. First, there’s a scene where Augie is talking to Hucky and Hucky asks if he could be brothers with Augie and T.C. as well. Augie responds by saying that he already is, and sometimes things like that happen without even trying. The second heart-wrenching scene is when T.C. and Hucky sneak to New York to meet Julie Andrews and she tells Hucky, as Mary Poppins, that she can only go live with children who are alone, and since he has T.C. now he’s not alone anymore.

So what is this book really about? Self discovery? Coming of age? Learning that if you set your mind to something you can accomplish anything? Sure, it’s all of those things. It’s also a story about love and friendship and how no matter what happens in this world there are always people who love and care for you and will support you through anything, even if you think you are alone.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Soooo… everyone but me seems to love this book to pieces. I am the only one who thought, “yeah it was ok.” I feel like I should have liked it more but… I just didn’t.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Let me tell you a bit about The Arrival by Shaun Tan, Internetland. It is a graphic novel made entirely of pictures. There are no recognizable words in this book. I say ‘recognizable’ because there are words, but we are not meant to understand them. The illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful. The detail in them is stunning, almost like the people could walk right off the pages into reality. The strangeness of the images is… well, it’s hard to describe. It’s whimsical, and a little steampunk, I suppose.

However… I’m an old fashioned girl and I prefer my books to have text. This is why I didn’t fall in love with the book. I connect better with words than with images, as it is harder for me to decode symbols than words.

I did get the gist of the story though. There is a man who is saying goodbye to his family so that he can go across the sea to make a new life for them in the new world. His home where his family is from seems to be under attack by a dragon (although you only ever see the tail). In the new land everything is strange and kind of awesome looking. There are strange foods, animals. buildings and vehicles. The man tries to make his way along by drawing pictures for people to understand him. He eventually meets another immigrant who has also fled from a war-torn country and they become friends. In the end the man’s family comes to the new world where his daughter makes new friends with another new immigrant girl.

The immigrant man is meant to symbolize all immigrants, not just from a specific place, and the strangeness of the illustrations is meant to symbolize the fear and unsureness that everyone feels when they are in a new place, especially a place where you cannot speak or read the language. The dragon and the soldiers (in the other immigrant man’s recollection of his travels) symbolize some kind of oppressive army or dictatorship. I immediately thought of the Nazis —  how they moved into places swiftly and silently before becoming more violent in their conquests. How people had to live with a constant fear of the Nazis, just like the immigrant’s wife and daughter had to live in fear of the dragon floating above them.

Not too much to say about this book, I guess. It was an okay story, beautiful in its own way. The illustrations were gorgeous, and the symbols were meaningful. For anyone who really enjoys these kind of books I highly recommend it, but it just wasn’t for me.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Let me just start off by saying that this book was really good, but not as good as everyone made it out to be. I really did enjoy it; however, it wasn’t the life changing novel I was told it was. Maybe people played it up too much for me. I was expecting more than I got.  Most people give it five stars on Goodreads, but I only gave it four. *hides from the mob of John Greene worshipers*

Like I said, I really liked this book. Well, audio book. I listened to it during a road trip last weekend. and I found it to be humourous, witty, happy, sad, tragic, you name it! It wasn’t like other books about kids with Cancer. In fact, the main character in The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel, makes fun of cancer-kid literature on a regular basis.

Because I don’t have the physical copy of the book to reference I can’t go back and look up the details, so the basic plot is this: Hazel is living with cancer. She meets a hot boy, Augustus Waters, at support group who is in remission from a type of bone cancer. They flirt, become friends, more than friends. They help their friend adjust to being blind, struggle through Hazel’s trip to the ICU. Hazel feels she is “a grenade” because she could up and die any time and doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She wants to basically be a hermit and distance herself from everyone so no one will miss her when she dies. Both Hazel and Augustus love the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter von Houten (which is not a real book, unfortunately…) and as Augustus’s wish from the Wish Foundation he takes Hazel overseas to meet him. Their meeting doesn’t go as planned and they are both disappointed. During the trip Augustus tells Hazel that he has relapsed and his cancer has spread almost everywhere. So the rest of the book is about Augustus’s deterioration, and Hazel trying to help him, and then eventually, Hazel coping with his death.

I love the humour and the witty dialogue in this book, and while it was sad, sad enough to make me choke up with dammed up tears, I didn’t feel heartbroken at the end. I was thinking about it a lot, and I think it is because Hazel is okay with Augustus dying. Or at least she will be. This made me okay, too. Maybe, had I read the physical book instead of listening to the audio book my emotions about this book would be different.

That’s really all I can say about The Fault in Our Stars. It was good, not amazing, but good.