Book Review- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Only I could get a parking ticket on my first day. Seriously. I can’t make this up. Metered parking is the devil, and those who enforce it are its minions. So, I get to pay $30 for my time today, and have a great story to tell.

Other than that my time at the Library this morning was fairly routine. I got to sit in on a staff meeting, then I filled out the mountain of paperwork that comes with being a new hire. And then I was regaled by tales of the Circulation Desk. I expect this job to be entertaining, and probably stressful.

In other news, I came across THIS last night:

OhmygodIcan'twaitforOctober!

OhmygodIcan’twaitforOctober!

October 6th is the scheduled release date, and I’ve already marked my calendar! The amount of squealing at midnight last night was just preposterous. I don’t even care, I am counting down to this book.

Speaking of books, I’m pretty sure I promised a book review sometime this week…

Spoilers!

readyplayerone

I had some really high expectations of Ready Player One. Trevor read it in about two days and loved it. But, I had a really hard time with the first 70 pages or so. Cline spent a large amount of time building the world, which he had double duty for, since there’s both the real world and a virtual world in the book. And, if you’re not up on your nerd culture, I think you’d need every minute of it.

But when you’re me, rocking Doctor Who and Kingdom Hearts tattoos, you don’t need a ton of explanation. It made the opening of the book pretty boring for me, since he had to explain what a Firefly class vessel was, and immediately mentioned an area of OASIS called the Whedonverse afterward. I don’t need you to tell me about any of those things. I know a ton already.

If he had explained the Holodeck, I would have put the book down.

But, Trevor kept telling me to wade through, that it would pick up. And right about chapter 7 the books cranks things up.

So, the premise is sort of a virtual reality Willy Wonka. Super rich video game programmer dies, and creates an in-game puzzle to decide his heir. It’s been 5ish years since his death and no one has found the first key. Until Wade Watts, aka Parzival, finds it on his school’s planet.

From there it’s a wild ride of nerdom, with riddles and clues buried deep within retro movies, games, music, and books. The book has a serious love affair with all things 80s, which really, who doesn’t?

But, it’s not all fun and games. There’s a corporation who will stop at nothing to win the contest. Including killing off gamers who come too close. Suddenly it’s a life and death scenario, and Wade is the largest target.

Add in a love interest who happens to be competition (and a totally badass female), and the perfect smartass best friend, and the cast becomes entirely too loveable. Even side characters, who aren’t around that much, have something that endears them to you. One such character dies, in real life, and I had to pause my reading I was so stricken.

(Speaking of stricken, I literally just found out that Leonard Nimoy has passed. Please observe this moment of silence.)

Spock Nimoy Nimoy2

Farewell, Mr. Spock.

Farewell, Mr. Spock.

Ahem… excuse me while I wipe away the tears. Now then, the characters in Ready Player One are just great. They’re funny, witty, and imperfect. They feel real, even though you know they’re just an avatar, that they could be a false representation. You know these people, and they’re awesome.

The setting in Ready Player One is unique in that it constantly changes. The OASIS is an endless virtual reality. You want to go play in Sunnydale and stake vampires with Mr. Pointy? You can do that! Wanna relive your favorite arcade games? There’s a planet for that! Wanna go to an outrageous Zero G dance club, where the floor revolves, everyone floats and an epic Wizard wields the turn table? Oh hell yeah! You can do that!

But, the real world is much less awesome. The real world is more or less destroyed. Indentured servitude is back with a vengeance, and most people work grueling hours at manual labor to be able to afford sharing a tiny trailer with two other families.

But, it’s the characters and the contest that really blew me away. This book is like equal parts Willy Wonka, The Matrix, and Indiana Jones. And I don’t care who you are, there’s no way that’s a bad combo!

Dreamers of Dreams

Dreamers of Dreams

"There's a bomb on the bus..." Wait, wrong movie.

“There’s a bomb on the bus…” Wait, wrong movie.

I'm just gonna leave this here...

I’m just gonna leave this here…

So, in short, this book was fantastic. It had great world building, if a little slow for my taste. It was just jam-packed with nerd culture, and had me laughing out loud with every page. The characters weren’t just believable. They were loveable, I wanted to be their friend. And the story line, with all it’s riddles and clues was extremely satisfying.

So, if you’re feeling like a quick read that will have you laughing and feeling nostalgic, I’d give Ready Player One a shot!

I’ll see you soon Blogland, when I finally talk about Writing Excuses 10.6!

BZ

Fab Fables Issue #2- Out Now!

FabFables2

That’s right! Fab Fables 2 just released this morning! And after a few dedicated weeks of writing, and some intense labors of love in editing, both from myself and the lovely Leah, A Stranger in the Mists is now out in the ether, waiting to be read!

Notice the name change? I like it better, and it really fits the story more than the previous title. Titles are such bitches. I’m terrible at them, but Leah came up with this revised one and it’s lovely!

You don’t have to read the first issue to understand the stories in the second one, but you can have both for less than $5, and dive into an all new world, that grows and changes as the stories are published.
FabFables1

Plus, Caladria offers something really cool. When you read a publication direct on the website, you can interact with the text. Any text that is blue is actually a link. Click a name to read a short bio, or a settlement to read an overview, or even see it on the huge world map. But, all of the information is kept within the time frame of the story; you won’t accidentally spoil the story reading a biography. It brings world building, and exploring, to a whole new level!

So, if you haven’t visited Caladria yet, what’s keeping you?

readyplayerone
In other news, Book Club meets tonight to discuss Ready Player One. Look for the review tomorrow! We’re meeting at Emily’s, and she’s preparing some sort of Asian Noodle Salad. I’m not sure I know what that means, but it sounds delicious. Of course, wine and beer will be provided. It’s not Book Club without some liquid refreshment.

But, tonight’s Book Club is the second to last one. That means that I get to request more book lists from the clubbers, and reopen the invitation. Not that the book club was ever really closed, but no one wants to come in half way through a list of books they had no say in.

I’m curious to see if everyone stays, or if a couple decide that the club wasn’t really for them. I’m also curious to see if any one else wants to join up. And what fresh blood will do to the book lists.

I’m still reading Sunrunner’s Fire, and it’s still great. I visited The Book Bin today, and learned that I should not be allowed in bookstores unattended. I used the excuse of trading in books, but I still managed to spend $30. And I don’t regret it.

I bought a used copy of Skybowl by Melanie Rawn. It’s the last book in her Dragon Star series, the trilogy after Dragon Prince. Obviously I haven’t finished the first trilogy yet, but I fully intend to read the second one, so why not pick up a cheap copy, am I right?
Skybowl_cover

Then I bought a new copy of Stardust by Neil Gaiman, since it’s the last book on the list for Book Club. I won’t be reading it for another month or so, but at least I finally have it.
Stardust

And then I splurged. You may not know this about me, but I’m a sucker for a great graphic novel. Have been since I saw The Crow in high school. I’ve read The Crow, and have the 20th anniversary edition of V For Vendetta on my shelf, even though it was technically a Christmas gift for Trevor a couple years back. I’d seen the cover of Saga on Goodreads, and even passed a copy in the bookstore today. It was enticing. The glossy cover seemed to shine just for me, but I was on a mission and refused to be waylayed. That is until I passed it a second time, on a different shelf.

Artwork by Fiona Staples

Artwork by Fiona Staples

I told myself I was just going to give it a quick flip through, to see what all the fuss was about. And then my fingers found that silky, high gloss cover, felt the thick, squeaky clean pages. I had to have it. I read the first chapter in my car, and loved it! I look forward to reading it over my “Spring Break” next week.

The rest of this evening is devoted to Book Club, reading for my Sci-Fi class, and doing French homework. If I find spare time somewhere in there I’ll start writing my new short story for Caladria, Sparks Fly. I’m really excited for this one, even though it’s shorter than the other two. My main character, even though I haven’t actually written her yet, is a crack up. And the trouble she gets into is pretty big time. This story is penciled in for Issue 4, and I’m editing for the first time for Issue 3. It’s busy times in Caladria!

Anyway, there’s work to be done and cider to be bought before Book Club. I’ll see you guys tomorrow!

BZ

Han Solo Heart

Sometimes life blindsides you. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I’ve over-filled my plate. I know that. Working 45+ hour work weeks, plus school full time, plus writing and editing for Caladria is more than I can handle. At least, that’s what my brain tells me.

And my heart?

Well, my heart likes to quote Han Solo, “Never tell me the odds.”solo-no

And truly, this is my slogan. I perform best when others expect me to fail. It becomes a matter of pride. I’m tenacious at best, and supremely stubborn at my worst. I don’t back down.

I just don’t.

So, what have I been up to lately? Prepping. It’s finals week, so I’m trying to keep my school work a priority. I went clothes shopping today to find “Business Casual” attire for the Library. Not my favorite pass time, but it was a success.

I’m still reading Sunrunner’s Fire, and it’s still amazing. Rawn’s villains are just so great. So nefarious. So clever. It makes their segments of the story painful for me to read. But, I’ll get into that more when the book review comes around.

I’ve fallen behind on Writing Excuses, but that’s the beauty of pod casts, I can go back and listen whenever I have time. Like tomorrow on my lunch break.

And behind all of this I’m stewing up my next Caladria story. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got the basic intro planned, and I know where the story is headed. I’m just waiting on some details before I really hash it out.

I realized the other day that I haven’t worked on Vessels in months. And as sad as that makes me, it’s the project of least importance right now. Cards is still hibernating, and probably will be until summer break. Jordinn’s Story saw some progress around the New Year, but I haven’t had time since then. Even bigger bummer.

But, prioritizing projects is the only way I’m going to make these next few months work. And some projects have to be put on hold. It’s a necessary evil. Or, more like survivalism at its best.

Anyway, Trevor is plating up dinner. We had the day off together, which is always nice. Time with my husband is one thing that will never take a back seat.

See you soon Blogland!

BZ

Just Keep Reading, and Writing!

So, you know how Rock, Paper, Scissors between three people tends to not work out? That’s what happens when three people share a bet on a two-person Mario Kart Arcade Machine.

Flash, AKA Michael, and I duked it out first. We both play as Yoshi, which was weird, but it was a really close race. I hit the final turn a touch too wide and he snuck past me to the finish line. So, I had to buy the kid a beer.

Then Crazybull, yes that’s his real last name, and Flash raced. And Crazybull won! Which was awesome, because it was great to watch Flash lose, haha.

So then, me and Chris raced. And though it was a close call, I just eeked out a win. But, I ended up buying Crazybull a beer anyway, because his bike was stolen earlier in the day, which is just shitty.

In other news, I finished reading Ready Player One yesterday. I may have teared up a touch at the end. I regret nothing. So, expect a book review for that sometime next week, probably after the book club meeting. We only have two more books left before it’s time to decide if the No Name Book Club reads on! I’m curious to see who stays on board.

But, now I have some reading freedom again, so I’ve pulled Sunrunner’s Fire from the shelf, and added it to the What I’m Reading Page.
Sunrunner's_Fire

Only one more week of this term, so things are a little intense school wise right now. But, I start at the Library the week of spring break, so at least I won’t be juggling finals and a new job!

I’ve been really productive today. I woke up late, which was nice, did my hour of Pilates, busted out both my French homework and my post for Science Fiction, and then penned the synopsis for A Stranger Comes Knocking. That story is officially done! And, surprise! It’s slotted for the second issue of Fab Fables!

I honestly thought it was going in the third issue this whole time! So I didn’t try to snatch a story for the third issue. So, I won’t be writing anything for issue three of Fab Fables, but I am editing a piece, so you’ll still see me!

What happens after that? I’m not sure. But I’m definitely strapped in for the long haul with Caladria. This group of people are just awesome. Super helpful, driven, creative, and friendly.

And they’re looking for more authors! If you’re interested, let me know, and I can help you out!

Any way, I work a late shift tonight, so I actually have a bit of free time. So, I’m off to read and eat lunch!

Have a great day Blogland!

BZ

The Mario Kart Smackdown… I Hope.

I’ve hit a wall. You know the one. It’s late in the term, and I couldn’t care less about my classes right now. All I want to do is read and write, and prepare for my first week at Library. Instead I’m supposed to be prepping for my last French speaking appointment before the oral final next week. I have a test Monday, and then the final the following Monday.

I also have to read a short story and write a post by tomorrow afternoon for my Science Fiction class, write another 6 page paper about readings from the semester that could be classified as Science Fiction vs. readings that are more Fantasy.

Personally, I didn’t think any of them were truly Fantasy, but I’m biased. Fantasy short fiction is rough to write, because the world-building is so confined. A couple of the stories we read did a decent job, but I’m used to thousand page epics.

readyplayerone
I’m still reading for pleasure, though slowly. Ready Player One took a long time to build. There was a lot of background info that seemed inconsequential that I actually needed to know, so the beginning was pretty boring. Now I’m on page 327 and the fact that I’m not at liberty to read it right now is really irritating me.

But, it’s the perfect book to read for today. I have challenged two friends of mine to a good, old-fashioned Mario Kart Arcade ass whuppin’. Mostly I just wanted to get us all together to play, but putting a beer on the line, and brandishing smack talk for a week has been a ton fun. Tonight we’ll find out how much crow I have to eat.
MarioKartArcade

In Caladria I just have to write the synopsis for A Stranger Comes Knocking and it will be officially complete. I promised to have that done before I go to work tomorrow evening. I’ve also been assigned my first story to edit, but the content isn’t due until the 15th, so there’s nothing for me to look at yet.

I’m nervous, and excited. I like editing, a lot. Just, not my own stuff so much. Other people’s stuff? Love it!

Anyway, I have to gear up for my homework session. I’ll talk to you soon Blogland.

BZ

Good News, Everyone!

Well, hello there. You probably didn’t expect to hear from me, and yet here I am! And that’s because I have quite a bit to share!

Firstly, I want to remind you all that Caladria‘s first issue of Fab Fables is now available for purchase! We’re also hard at work on issues two and three, so now is the time to check us out!

And, not only am I a contributing author, but I have just added on the responsibility of joining the editing team! Leah is the Chief Editor, and an amazing one at that, and then the wonderful Ellie Musgrove has joined us as well. I’m so thrilled to work with these incredible ladies!

So keep an eye out for all kinds of Caladria awesomeness in the coming months!

If you’ll harken back a week, you’ll recall that I had an interview with the Salem Public Library. Today I got the email, and I got the job!

And I’m pretty sure I’m insane. I’m going to school full-time, working two jobs, running a book club, writing and editing for Caladria and still attempting to work on my own fiction. Oh, and reading all kinds of things in my miniscule amount of free time.

I promise Andrew Knighton, you will get your feedback!!!

Anyway, I have a ton of homework to get through tonight. Just wanted to pop in and share the good news! See you all soon!

BZ

Book Review- Legion and Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Twofer it is. I’m feeling more than a bit under the weather, so I’m sorry in advance if this review is less… enthusiastic.

Beware the spoilers!

Legion

I found a hardback copy of Legion at Powell’s in downtown Portland. This is a fairly rare thing, since the US edition of hardback prints was limited. Turns out I found a UK copy that shared its binding with The Emperor’s Soul.
LegionGollancz

I was really surprised when I found out that Legion was only 72 pages. That’s tiny. Like microscopic in Brandon’s long list of long books. I read it in a day. And by a day I mean about an hour and a half.

That’s a testament, not only to my speed-reading tendencies, but the fast-paced nature of the story. This was both the best, and worst, thing about Legion.

Unlike most of Sanderson’s novels, Legion takes place in the normal world. This lets the world-building master skip out on this time-consuming element to most stories. He can get right to the plot, and right to character development.

Now, the thing about Stephen Leeds, AKA Legion, is that he has a quirk. Ok, a big quirk. All right, it’s probably more than a quirk. Like, a major psychological disorder. Most psychologist, therapists, and scientists think Leeds is Schizophrenic. And they make a pretty good argument for it. Because Leeds sees people who aren’t there.

But, in a nice twist, à la Sanderson, Leeds can control when he creates an “Aspect” and which ones attend him on cases. Usually. In the early scenes of Legion, we meet Ivy, J.C., and Tobias.

Ivy is the people person. She’s a psychologist, from what I gather. She helps Leeds read and react to people. And she tends to act as his moral compass quite often. J.C. thinks he’s an ex-Navy SEAL. He’s Leeds weapons expert, and often acts as a sort of security for Leeds. And Tobias. Well, Tobias is a well of knowledge. He acquires and stores minutia. Acquaintance’s names, birthdays, random info about architecture and news. But, mostly, Tobias seems to act as a buffer for Leeds. He helps him keep control.

And none of these people are real.

From the get-go, I really enjoyed Leeds and his merry band of Aspects. They’re a riot. And they bicker between each other constantly.

But, Legion itself suffers from a very frail plot. The premise good enough, and is a convincing reason why Leeds and Co., would go on their adventure. But, the story isn’t really about any of it. It’s about getting to know Leeds, his Aspects, and wondering who in the hell Sandra is.

Which is why I read the second novella, Legion: Skin Deep.
Legion Skin Deep

And where the first story fell flat, the sequel shined. The plot is much stronger, and there’s more intrigue about Leeds, the abilities and quirks of his Aspects, and the people he knows in real life.

And though there aren’t any real answers, we learn a tiny bit more about the elusive Sandra. Turns out, she was the only person who ever really got him. She helped him learn how to control his Aspects. Helped him use his “disorder” to accomplish things. And then, one day, she just up and left.

And Legion hasn’t been quite right since. Ivy thinks he’s beginning to lose control. Aspects are “creating” family members, J.C. straight up ignores orders. Leeds is on shaky ground with his aspects, and we don’t quite know why.

Not yet.

In Skin Deep, we get to see Leeds without all of his Aspects. Well, mostly. And we get to hear his thoughts on himself. How he thinks of himself as a blank slate for his Aspects. And it’s sad. And makes Sandra that much more important. Because she wasn’t just some psychological coach. It’s implied she was a lover.

By the end of the second novella, we realize that, despite his 48 Aspects, all specialists in some field or another, Leeds is incredibly alone.

That’s what I really liked about this series. The main character has to compete with a multitude of Aspects for the reader’s affection, but he still shines over them, because they’re all a piece of him. And I’m really curious to see how the series gets resolved. I look forward to the next installment, whenever that will be.

If you’re interested in a quick read series full of humor, detective-esque intrigue, and just enough weird to still be a Sanderson story, then you should pick up Legion!

I do want to say that I read Legion: Skin Deep as an ebook, and though I really appreciated the convenience, I constantly felt like I was forgetting something. It’s nice to open my phone and be brought to the exact page I was on, but I didn’t like how easy it was to be interrupted. Co-Workers have learned to leave me be when they see a book out, but my phone? No one cares about that.

But, ebooks allow me to read more things. I’ve bought a few novellas, and novel, that I will be reading as ebooks. And I wouldn’t have had access to them otherwise. So, while not my preferred method, ereading isn’t all bad.

Now I’ve got to focus on reading Ready Player One for book club at the end of the month. I’m thinking of doing a Book Club Review, where I’ll give each member’s opinion. But, we’ll see.

See you soon, Blogland!

BZ