Warcross by Marie Lu

29385546Warcross
Marie Lu
Goodreads

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.

I’m upset that I’m no longer reading this book.  I really am.  Marie Lu’s always been a consistently good author but this is probably my favorite of all the books of hers I’ve read.  It was high octane, fast paced and speeding towards a satisfying resolution from the get go.  I wanted to get to the end to see if some of my guesses were right but I didn’t want it to end.

I was, at first, worried that Emika was going to fall into the ‘quirky, whimsical, too cool for her own good’ trope that some main characters are, unfortunately, slotted into but she wasn’t.  She was layered and complex, full of dark places and flaws that made her all the better in my eyes.  I could have done without the frequent mentions of her rainbow colored hair but it’s a small quibble that’s easily forgiven.

Hideo Tanaka’s my new boyfriend.  I’m gonna write my name and his all over my slam books.  But, then again, maybe that’s not the best idea.

The twist (one that I don’t want to go too far into to avoid outright spoilers) left me both incredibly surprised and incredibly deflated (because it involved a character I’d come to love).  I’m intrigued to see how this all plays out in the sequel (that’s too far away) but I’m definitely in this series for however long Marie Lu wants to write it.

 

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Miles Morales, by Jason Reynolds

32793053Miles Morales
Jason Reynolds
Goodreads

“Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you’re on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins.”

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical “benefits” of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

It’s time for Miles to suit up.

Review

I gave this a solid three stars on Goodreads because that’s what it feels like – I like the book, but it’s nothing incredible or mind blowing. It’s an important book that will mean a lot to many people (I wish I’d had this when I was still a teen growing up in NY!), but for me right now, it’s just a solid like.

The book follows Miles as he deals with being a high school kid, having a crush on a girl, worrying about his parents’ financial issues, wondering if he has bad blood in his veins like his uncle Aaron. Oh, and being Spider-Man, of course.

I found this book presented a very different take on the Spider-Man dilemma: it’s not just about Miles’ personal life, but his personal life in that it represents an entire livelihood, his way out and up. I really liked this aspect of it, which made the actual super villain (if you can call it that?) plot fall a little flat for me. I can absolutely see where Reynolds was coming from and going with the idea, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way.

Like I said, I gave this three stars overall because I liked it for what it is – an important book with some good storytelling that kind of falls flat in the end for me.

Waste of Space by Gina Damico

28473381Waste of Space
Gina Damico
Goodreads

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

Review:

Waste of Space is a harmless, fun little book.  I’ve always enjoyed Gina Damico’s brand of humor and heart so I was pretty excited to read her latest.  This book is a little heavier on the humor and lighter on the heart.  It’s still good but I think the  book suffers just a bit from having such a large cast of characters that you can’t really fall in love with any of them.  There’s just not a lot of background on any of them.  You get brief insights, little visits to their pasts and some slivers of their backgrounds but no one is really fully developed.

Still, I laughed quite a bit.  The book takes the reality television craze and shoves every single stereotypical character into it and revels in how cliche and predictable reality television can be.  There’s the requisite villain, the quiet one, the disabled one, the minority, etc etc.  Everyone is a caricature of their ‘trait’ and, thankfully, the book moves fast enough and doesn’t focus too much on that to make it offensive or boring.

The ending of the book threw me for a bit of a loop because, up until then, it had been a funny and superficial romp.  It had been funny and witty and, at times, poignant but the ending was actually very serious and sad.  It wasn’t bad by any means and I could see where it was coming from as I thought about the whole novel once I’d finished reading but, at the time, it made me tilt my head.

Still, it’s a good, funny book.  Perfect for a quick read or to decompress after reading something heavy and angsty.

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

30226723King’s Cage
Victoria Aveyard
Goodreads

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

 

Review:

The third installment in Aveyard’s Red Queen series, King’s Cage starts fast and never stops.  I’m pretty much biased because I’ve really enjoyed this series since book one but this was a tense, violent, heartbreaking edition to the series.  While I really do like the characters of Mare and Cal, I was so so so excited to see my favorite character, Evangeline Samos, getting a much expanded part in this book.  With the way the book ended, it looks like she might be an even bigger part of the fourth book which is, sadly, set to be released in 2018.  That’s such a long, long wait.

I really enjoyed the exploration of Mare and Maven’s relationship.  It’s an awful, horrible, codependent thing (more so on Maven’s side than Mare’s) but there are also those very, very brief flashes of softness and, strangely enough, love that makes me want them to kiss and make up before realizing what I’m hoping for and slapping myself in the face.

The battle scenes were vivid and visceral, putting me in the midst of the chaos at Corvium.  My only quibble there was that it ended very abruptly as I would have liked to see the effect House Samos, House Iral, and House Lerolan had on the battle.

But, there’s another book coming so I’ll hope for more there.  More Evangeline too.  And hopefully much more of Maven getting his comeuppance.

 

 

Triple Threat, by Gwenda Bond

31632115Triple Threat (Lois Lane #3)
Gwenda Bond
Goodreads

For the first time, Lois Lane has almost everything she wants. Non-temporary home? Check. Dream job? Double check. Incredible BFFs? The absolute best. And now, her online crush, SmallvilleGuy, is coming to Metropolis. If all goes well, they’ll turn their long-distance friendship into a some-kind-of-fairy-tale romance. But when does all ever go well? Before she can check boyfriend off her list, Lois must take down a mad scientist plus a trio of mutant teens, protect the elusive flying man from the feds (including her dad), and navigate her very first date with SmallvilleGuy. In the follow-up to FALLOUT and DOUBLE DOWN, Gwenda Bond’s reimagination of DC Comics’s first leading lady takes on her toughest challenge yet: Love.

Review:

I’ve loved this series since book one came in as a breath of fresh air after one disastrous comic book tie in novel experience I had years ago. It’s like someone decided to write a Teen AU fanfic starring Lois Lane, but took only the best parts of what make Lois tick and wrote the hell out of it. We don’t deserve Gwenda Bond, truly.

Triple Threat builds on the first two books, showing a Lois who is finding her place in Metropolis, doing her best to be a good friend, excelling (or trying to) at her career as a junior reporter, and finally tackling an IRL meeting with SmallvilleGuy, aka CLARK KENT.

Look, I’ll be the first to say that I felt the novel dragged on a bit with the actual plot seeming extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things. (What really happened, in the end? It’s like nothing changed whatsoever.)

But. But!

Lois and Clark finally meet. THEY FINALLY MEET.

I was something like ten years old when Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman aired on one of the two main television stations we received in Kenya. They were the epitome of cool and I used to watch the show with hearts in my eyes, wanting to be like them. I have a very clear memory of the moment Lois finds out Clark is Superman. I never got to watch too much of the show, but they made such a huge impression on tiny me that I got excited right alongside Lois in Triple Threat when she finally meets Clark. The meting itself, the way they’re awkward and adorable around each other, the way things move slowly and LOGICALLY for kids their age who’ve only had an online relationship until now…it’s incredibly sweet and satisfying.

Back to the plot…honestly, there were some threads of interest here and there, but like I said before, ultimately nothing really happens. I did love the mature and different look at a teen relationship going on with Maddy and Dante, and I love that Lois has a really good relationship with all her friends and her family. (As good as it can be with her dad, really, which is really good here.)

Oh oh oh, one thing I did love: Lois turned around and did one of the most frustrating, stupid things a Strong Female Character can do, but then turned it around and became a truly strong character by realizing she was dumb and apologizing for it. I don’t need my female characters to be Strong and take on the world on their own – I need them to be whole. Which Lois is, and which I appreciate wholeheartedly.

This book is perfect for teen readers and adult Superman fans alike. I can’t recommend the series enough.

PS. I went looking for Lois & Clark gifs when writing this review and W O W I forgot the humongous crush I had on Dean Cain before I even realized what crushes were.

tumblr_mldl3nvf0e1rnw80to5_r1_250(I mean, COME ON.)

Time to scour the internet to see if I can do some re-watching and relive some childhood memories.

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub

16085488Still Star-Crossed
Melinda Taub
Goodreads

Despite the “glooming peace” that has settled on Verona following Romeo’s and Juliet’s tragic deaths, the ancient grudge between the Montagues and Capulets refuses to die: the two houses are brawling in the streets again within a fortnight. Faced anew with “hate’s proceedings,” Prince Escalus concludes that the only way to marry the fortunes of these two families is to literally marry a Montague to a Capulet. But the couple he selects is uninterested in matrimony, for the most eligible Montague bachelor is Benvolio, still anguished by the loss of his friends, and the chosen Capulet maid is Rosaline, whose refusal of Romeo’s affection paved the way for bloodshed. In contrast to their late cousins, there’s no love lost between these two, and so they find a common purpose—resolving the city’s strife in a way that doesn’t end with them at the altar.

But like Romeo and Juliet before them, Rosaline, Benvolio, and the prince find that the path to peace is tortuous, and that in Verona, true love lies where it’s least expected.

This fast-paced and insightful Shakespearean homage, filled with clandestine meetings, romantic encounters, and duels over family honor, will delight and captivate readers

For a book that I picked up after watching the first two episodes of the Shondaland series on Hulu at 4am after my toddler wakes me up crying, this was better than I expected! When I first heard about the book years ago and the show, I rolled my eyes so hard it actually hurt. Still for a bit of fluffy nonsense, it was enjoyable. Not actual Shakespeare, but even he was a bit of a hack. This book plays a bit of fan fiction trope bingo for a while, but if you know that going in then it’s quite fun.

The ending is just so delightfully over the top that I can’t even be mad about it. If it had ended in a more subdued way, then I would be upset. There is a bit of an issue with the pacing. Not the amount of stuff that happens as time actually passes unlike the less than a week of its source material, but the abrupt way that it “ends” only for the epilogue to pick up. I suppose it was the ending of the main story, but it was so clearly not an ending that it irked. Like just cut forward a few weeks! Not everything needs an epilogue! Especially not one that is clearly coming from ten miles off.

 

 

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

32051572Dividing Eden
Joelle Charbonneau
Goodreads

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Review:

Codependent relationship between twins disintegrates into fratricide in a matter of three fucking days when they are subjected to a series of trials for the throne. The boy twin, Andreus, has a panic disorder. Which is to say he has one proper panic attack which results in him blacking out and another that’s like, just genuine panic. The girl twin, Carys, has a opioid addiction.

Things that bothered me:

  • THREE FUCKING DAYS
  • Can’t tell all these Elder council members apart. They all look vaguely like Lord Frey in my head.
  • Supposedly these trials are supposed to be based upon the Seven Virtues that guide the kingdom, but these virtues are apparently: Archery, Hitting Each Other With Sticks, Steeple Chase, Socializing, Not Seeing Through an Obvious Setup, and Horse Racing
  • Constantly had to remind my brain to rhyme Andreus with Carys, because they’re twins and they should, right???
  • Nothing really good or interesting happens until the end. And then the book ends.

Things that I enjoyed:

  • Girl’s romance was minimal/lowkey on her side
  • Nothing really good or interesting happens until the end. And then the book ends.