Warcross by Marie Lu

*I received this ARC at TXLA 2017 this year. This is my honest review.*

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Goodreads Blurb

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

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.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

 

Review

I have been reading so much lately. I’m 21 weeks pregnant right now so I know once September comes and the baby gets here that I won’t have the time anymore. At least not for awhile, and when I do have the time I will most definitely be too tired or to busy for reading. I was so sad when Warcross ended. I read it fairly quickly because I enjoyed it so much and because I went and bought Sarah J Maas’ new book A Court of Wings and Ruin two days ago and it’s been staring me in the face ever since.

I gave Warcross 5/5 stars. I’m not really into the whole hacking, computer science stuff normally but I LOVED this book. I liked the plot, the main character Emika, and the fact that she’s a bounty hunter of sorts. It reminded me a little of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. She’s young, tech savvy, witty, and a badass? AND has rainbow hair? So cool.

I tried listening to Ready Player One, a little earlier this year  with my husband on a road trip to and from Broken Bow, Oklahoma and I just couldn’t get into it. We picked that book on Audible more for him than for me. I thought why not try it? I hadn’t read anything like it before. But it turned out to be a little too hardcore video game nerdish. I just couldn’t relate because I’m not a gamer. At least not since 2002 when I was obsessed with playing Spyro and Megaman on my Play Station 2. But that’s been a hot minute.

Warcross was much easier for me to relate to. I enjoyed the romance, I enjoyed how strong and independent Emika Chen is, the fact that it’s a Marie Lu book because, hello? She’s awesome. I’m actually reading Legend with my 7th graders right now too so I’ve been surrounded by Mari Lu lately.

It felt like a Dystopia society as well as a cyber-hacking book. Everything in the world in this book is technological. There’s hardly anymore waiters/waitresses because robots are taking those jobs, people exchange loot in the video game Warcross like it’s actual money, you can change your surroundings to look how you want, and you can connect to people and feel their feelings. It’s crazy!

Basically, Emika gets caught hacking into the World Championship of the game and accidentally glitches herself into the game where everyone and their mommas can see her. This catches the attention of the creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka, who so happens needs an expert hacker for a job. From there he flies her out to Tokyo, offers her the job but also enters her into the championship.

The ending of the book definitely takes a turn. I feel like it was a little expected but that doesn’t make me love it any less or any less excited for the next one. It will be interesting to see how the relationships made in Warcross are going to change. Because after the end of the book, there’s no going back. I don’t want to give too much away since the book doesn’t come out until September.

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The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

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Goodreads Blurb

The people of Moorvale put their faith in the legend: The knight Tristan and the wizard Vithric, in an epic battle, had defeated the evil Nethergrim.

That faith is shaken when livestock go missing, only to turn up as piles of bones. But it’s when a group of children disappear that they know for sure: The Nethergrim has returned.

Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell.

Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine.

Review

I give this one 2.5/5 stars. It was a slow start but I got into it by the middle of the book. I enjoyed the high fantasy genre and it reminded me a little of Lord of the Rings. The main character Edmund was really hard to like until the end of the book. In the beginning he just seemed weak-willed and not a leader. But he eventually grew as the novel went on. And I feel like he grew for the right reasons. Not just for the fame and glory or catching The Nethergrim.

I think I would like a prequel to this book better. I enjoyed all the stories about the knight Tristan, the wizard Vithric, and of Katherine’s father, John Marshal in his youth. I enjoyed it more than the actual plot line.

It threw me for a loop how the forst half of this book is completely middle grade level. But then once the second half of the book starts it gets a little more graphic, therefore seeming more Young Adult. I think it just seems more like a kid book in the beginning, the characters, the description, all of it… and then BAM! There’s gore and blood and all kinds of dark morbid things going on. It just didn’t seem consistent. It made hard to get through because my mindset had to change halfway through it.

I’m not sure if I’ll purchase the second book, The Skeleth. The Nethergrim definitely ends on a cliff-hanger but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I wish I had more to say on this book. I loved the cover of it and the whole high fantasy aspect of it but it left me feeling confused.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh Parallels with Disney’s Mulan

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***I was given this ARC at TXLA this year, and this is my honest spoiler free review.***

Goodreads Blurb

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

 

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Review

4.5/ 5 stars! I love everything Ahdieh writes. Her books are rich with culture so they’re perfect for diverse readers. The only thing I struggled with in Flame in the Mist, was some of the Japanese language she incorporated. There’s to be a glossary included in the completed books but I received an Advanced Reader Copy so the glossary and all the extra stuff in the end was not printed yet. I had to google several different terms but that’s okay, it was interesting to learn about feudal Japan! I can’t say that I’ve read many books set in that time period and culture.

That’s the second thing that caught my attention about this book. The number 1 thing that caught my attention that it was of course written by Renee Ahdieh and I loved her other duology The Wrath & The Dawn and The Rose & The Dagger, a retelling of 1,001 Nights (Arabian Nights). Reason number 2 I was intrigued was because Mulan has always been my favorite Disney Princess. I was stoked right when I found out about this retelling! Mulan is so kick-ass. I really enjoyed all of the parallels between the two. It is it’s own story of course. Mariko is very similar to Mulan but their journey’s are different.

For one, Mariko is almost assassinated on her way to marry her betrothed and her twin brother sets out to hunt her down and bring her home. In Mulan, Mulan’s father is drafted to fight the Hun. And if I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure Mulan is Chinese not Japanese. In Mulan, she does not have a twin brother. Just the dragon that mistakenly gets sent to protect her, Mushu and the lucky cricket her grandmother gives her when she tests to become a bride.

However, there are some parallels such as they both infiltrate a camp full of men, where women are not allowed. The punishment of being found out is death. I also noticed that the fashion seemed very similar between the two. Mariko and Mulan both had to chop off their hair in order to fit into a top knot.

Both stories had fantasy elements in them. They both had romance in the storyline. And there was a scene in both where both Mariko and Mulan almost get found out in a hot spring while they’re bathing.

I would also have to say that the themes in both are similar even if their storylines are not. Mulan was trying to protect her handicapped father from having to go off and fight again and Mariko was trying to find out who had tried to take revenge on her and her family. Mariko and her brother both slowly start to figure out that their father is not the best of men, but they both want to protect their family at all costs. Especially each other.

I don’t want to give too much away before the book comes out so I’ll leave my review right there. I will say I am very excited to get my hands on the next one though. I haven’t heard if it will be a series or another duology from Ahdieh but I’m excited either way! I want to know what becomes of Mariko and Okami’s fate.

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And here’s a picture of all the books my mom snagged at TXLA 2017. And guess who got first pick? ;]