book review: warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 368 pp.
Published September 12, 2017

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.

between daemons: does 'required reading' ruin books?

Between Daemons is a discussion post series dealing in bookish and filmish topics. Inspired by the spiritual companions from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, I chose that specific title to encourage comments and conversations grounded in the personal thoughts, feelings, and opinions you may not have the chance to share very often. While disagreement is welcome, disrespect is not. As always, please be polite to your fellow commenters!

A recent Twitter discussion about a user's average Goodreads rating (started by @WordsWithLara!) had me re-examining my one-star reviews. Since joining in 2012, I haven't added that many: only 12 out of a total 426 ratings. Some of them were books I'd picked up for pleasure only to very grudgingly, grumpily finish because I'd already paid for them, but others were books assigned to me in school. Out of that small brotherhood, a full third are required reading titles. They all have an average rating close to four stars or better, so these are a far cry from universally reviled books.

This disparity has me asking another question: do 'required reading' assignments negatively impact your enjoyment of a book?

With the school year approaching another end, it seemed like a fitting time to talk about our positive and negative experiences with school reading assignments. Personally, I can't fit all of my assigned readings into one category or the other. This is partly thanks to having high school English teachers who preferred to designate a category of books to choose from, rather than making the entire class read the same thing. Because of that flexibility I had my choice of National Book Award winners, classic novels, Shakespearean plays, and even current releases. While this made the actual school year much more enjoyable, summer reading usually didn't allow the same freedom of choice.

Those are the books I'm going to focus in on for this discussion: books assigned to the entire class with no input from students. I've selected a few that (I believe) are relatively common in American high school classrooms. Breaking them down into books I liked, disliked, and want to revisit, I dredge up my memories of required reading assignments through the years. Let's start with the positive, shall we?

down the tbr hole #16

As my Goodreads to-read shelf creeps closer to 500 books, I've been eyeing it with a growing feeling of apprehension. It would take forever to get through so many...and that's not counting all of the new books I hear about along the way. Thankfully I discovered Lost In A Story's series (by way of Boston Book Reader) at the beginning of the year and it sounds like a great way to trim down my TBR.

The guidelines, per Lost In A Story, are simple:
  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order on ascending date added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
I'll be going through 10 books every week, meaning it should take me almost the whole year to reach the end! If you'd like to do this yourself, be sure to visit Lost In A Story's original post and let her (and me!) know you'll be joining in the fun.

book review: liar's candle

Liar's Candle by August Thomas
Scribner, 320 pp.
Published April 17, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free digital ARC of this book from Scribner via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Penny Kessler, an intern at the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, wakes up in a hospital on the morning of July 5th to find herself at the center of an international crisis. The day before, the Embassy was the target of a devastating terrorist attack that killed hundreds of Penny’s friends and colleagues. Not only has a photograph of Penny as she emerged from the rubble become the event’s defining image, but for reasons she doesn’t understand, her bosses believe she’s a crucial witness.

Suddenly, everyone is intensely interested in what Penny knows. But what does she know? And whom can she trust? As she struggles to piece together her memories, she discovers that Zach Robson, the young diplomat she’d been falling for all summer, went missing during the attack. And one of the CIA’s most powerful officials, Christina Ekdahl, wants people to believe Zach was a traitor.

What actually happened?

Penny barely has time to ask before she discovers that her own government wants her dead. Soon, with only a single ally—a rookie intelligence officer fresh out of the Navy—she is running a perilous gauntlet, ruthlessly pursued by Turkey’s most powerful forces and by the CIA.

To survive, Penny must furiously improvise. Tradecraft takes a lifetime to master. She has less than thirty-six hours. And she’s only twenty-one years old. This is her first real test—one she can’t fail.

sunday post #14

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a chance to recap posts from the past week and tease upcoming content, as well as share new books, reading challenge progress, and anything else you've come across in the last seven days.

A much quieter week follows the excitement of TLA. This afternoon marks the final opera of the season: Don Giovanni. It's a Mozart classic I've neither heard nor seen performed, so it should be a treat. Otherwise I've enjoyed the pleasant spring weather and taken advantage of my free time to cross off some lingering errands—you know the type...

Next weekend is North Texas Teen Book Fest, which I'm hoping to check out! Most of the publisher events during the day are (understandably) for teens only, so I haven't decided just how much of the day I'll be in attendance. There are signings in the afternoon, though, and a couple new-to-me favorite authors will be there. As long as I get to hear one or two of their panels and chat for a moment in line, I'll consider it a success!

book review: the gold-son

The Gold-Son by Carrie Anne Noble
Skyscape, 304 pp.
Published June 20, 2017

DISCLAIMER: I received a free finished copy of this book as a giveaway prize from Skyscape hosted on Goodreads.

All sixteen-year-old Tommin wants is to make beautiful shoes and care for his beloved granny, but his insatiable need to steal threatens to destroy everything. Driven by a curse that demands more and more gold, he’s sure to get caught eventually.

When mysterious Lorcan Reilly arrives in town with his “niece,” Eve, Tommin believes the fellow wants to help him. Instead, Lorcan whisks him off to the underground realm of the Leprechauns, where, alongside Eve, he’s forced to prepare to become one of them.

As Lorcan’s plans for his “gold-children” are slowly revealed, Tommin and Eve plan their escape. But with Tommin’s humanity slipping away, the fate-crossed pair has everything to lose unless they can find a way to outsmart a magical curse centuries in the making.