Gaming, Virtual Reality & Hacking in Warcross

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I discover new books mostly from other book bloggers. They give me first hand knowledge about new books to read that peak my interest. I have been reading Super Space Chick’s blog ever since Kristin had appeared on Syfy’s Fangasm TV series. Her blog gives me some serious book inspiration and whenever she posts a review, I always read it. This book sounded good and even though I never read a book by Marie Lu, I knew she had written other successful series. Warcross was everything I wanted it to be and more. It featured a fantastic female heroine, diversity among the characters and a shocking twist I hadn’t seen coming. I will keep this review spoiler-free because I want everyone to know this book exists.

Warcross is a successful virtual reality game almost every gamer plays around the world. Emika Chen is one female gamer who plays Warcross in between her work as a bounty hunter in NYC. During the Warcross Championships, Emika accidentally hacks into the gameplay. Instead of being arrested, she’s flown to Tokyo to meet Hideo Tanaka, the designer and creator of Warcross. He offers Emika a job for a bounty on a mysterious hacker named “Zero” who is interfering with the championships. Emika must use her skills as a hacker and as a gamer to identify Zero and prevent major consequences for the Warcross empire.

Emika Chen is probably one of my favorite female characters in a book. Without giving spoilers, she’s someone who won’t sacrifice her values for the sake of someone else.  A lot of female characters will abandon a part of themselves for someone they care about, and Emika doesn’t do that. She has rainbow colored hair and a sleeve of tattoos which makes her appearance unique.

Most of the characters are pretty diverse. In the subsequent novels I read, I think it’s important to include different characters from a variety of cultures. Emika I believe is Chinese, whereas Hideo is Japanese. Hammie is a beautiful African American woman with her natural afro hair, and she plays a big role in Emika’s struggle with taking down Zero.

The ending though, holy shit. I read the last 20 pages and I thought I knew how this book would end, but I was wrong. I like not being able to predict how a book will end. I ended up tweeting @Marie_Lu jokingly asking her when the sequel would be released.

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One criticism I have been seeing with this book is that it’s too similar to Ready Player One. My counter argument is Ready Player One takes place in a dystopian society? I don’t know for sure, I haven’t read the book. Warcross takes place in a future society still in the U.S. and I wouldn’t put it in the category of being a “dystopian novel”.

Marie Lu can be found on twitter @Marie_Lu which is how I’m keeping up with any news regarding a Warcross sequel. I haven’t read her other books, but now I’m tempted into purchasing them to distract me from my despair of waiting for a Warcross sequel. I cannot recommend this book enough and it quite possibly could be my favorite book I read in 2018. I wanted to end my review with a quote from Marie Lu which can be found in the acknowledgments section of Warcross: To all the Gamer Girls out there, you inspired this.

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Calamity Book Review

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Finishing a trilogy is always bittersweet. You get sucked into this world, while getting to know every character. The Steelheart trilogy is still one of my all time favorite book series I have read to date. I was super excited to read this book because I wanted to know how this series would end. Would David and Megan end up together? Would David be able to save Prof while unlocking the answers to Epics? Unfortunately, I felt I was left with more questions than answers and I expected the book to conclude everything with a neat bow, but I was wrong. I will try and keep my review spoiler free, but there will be spoilers for the other books in the series. So best to avoid this review if you plan on reading this trilogy, which you should.

Briefly recapping the Steelheart trilogy; this version of the United States is home to beings titled Epics. Epics have superpowers that they received when a red star in the sky arose called Calamity. These Epics are almost always evil and David Charleston has made it his mission to end them and restore humanity to what it was before Calamity rose into the sky. David teams up with the old team (Abraham, Cody, Megan, and Mizzy) to invade Knighthawk, an intelligent inventor who once knew Prof before he turned into his evil epic form. This plan goes to shit when David and his team are caught by Knighthawk. Ultimately, he invites them into his bunker and tells stories of his time knowing Prof.

Based on intel provided by Knighthawk, David & the Reckoner’s head to Idithia otherwise known as Atlanta. I will say out of all the places the team could end up, this was my least favorite world. It was a world made of salt which is bland considering the other places Brandon Sanderson envisioned in the previous novels.

David and Prof do go into a big fight at the end of the book which is a little too long. The plot twist behind “Calamity” surprised me, but still left me confused. I’m left with many more questions about why Calamity exists and where this “star” came from. I wish I would have more answers instead of coming up with my own theory.

There is a touching scene with David on the very last page of the book that was rather heartwarming. I am not going into detail on what happened because I do want to keep this mostly spoiler free. I did write a very detailed review on my goodreads page, so check that out if you want more spoilers.
Overall, I liked the book, but I felt let down. I think this book had a slower pace than the other books in the series. I’m not going to let my opinion of this book ruin how I feel about the series as a whole. As much as I’m going to miss the world in Steelheart, I’m looking forward to decreasing my book pile in my bedroom. There’s so much to read and so little time to do so.

Firefight Book Review

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Firefight is a rarity in trilogies in the sense that it was better than the first novel Steelheart. The best way I can describe the Steelheart series is if the X-Men existed, but everyone with mutant powers is evil. Steelheart tells the story of David’s revenge on Steelheart while Firefight reveals more about where Epics came from and why they exist.

Firefight takes place immediately after the events of the first book. David Charleston is lost, he spent his entire life preparing for Steelheart’s demise, but when it actually occurs, he doesn’t know what to do now. In the meantime, the Reckoner’s have been hunting Epics coming to Newcago. Prof’s has his suspicions that these epics are being sent to kill the team since all of the epics originated from Babylon Restored (formerly known as Manhatten). Prof, David and Tia go to Babylon to team up with another Reckoner’s cell to fight a common enemy, Regalia who has ultimate power over the seas. Will David be able to stop her from destroying the city?

New characters are introduced to help David battle Regalia. There’s Excel, a former mortician. Val who’s edgy and mysterious and Missouri who’s fun and upbeat. Missouri is my favorite character introduced because she reminds me of me. I’m usually a pretty positive person no matter what the circumstance is and so is she. 

Babylon Restored is such an intricate and beautiful city compared to Newcago. Most of former NYC is under water with the buildings being spray painted in luminous colors. The citizens party into the hours of the night because they don’t know if Regalia will kill them now or later. The atmosphere is very different from Newcago, but I like it way more.


I like Megan and David’s relationship and how it evolved from the first book. Their relationship is much more complicated in this book and I don’t want to say why because that would be a huge spoiler. 

Regalia’s final plan was not what I was expecting. I don’t want to detail the plan, but I promise all readers will be surprised. Also there’s a secret with Regalia and who she actually is. 

This book gave me the feels and I can’t wait to read Calamity.

2017 End of Book Survey

Every year I participate in Perpetual Page Turner’s Annual End of Year Book Survey. You can find my 2016 recap here: End of Year Book Survey 2016. I like being able to recap what I read while also looking ahead to 2018. This year, I found myself reading more comics than books. I do love my comics, but in 2018 I want to read more books. I started the year strong, but graduating from college, moving to the cities and starting my new job kept me from reading. Since I now have stability, I’m hoping to make reading a priority next year. I recommend any book worm to fill out this survey because it’s incredibly detailed. I also ended up cutting out questions I didn’t have an answer for to keep this post from getting too long. Here are my answers:

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All images from Perpetual Page Turner

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Number Of Books You Read: 46
Number of Re-Reads: 2 < This is really great for me because I usually never do re-reads. 
Genre You Read The Most From: Comics & Graphic Novels

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1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

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I nominated this book because it was thrilling and one of those books I ended up finishing in 5-6 hours. Five boys went hunting and only four returned. The murder of Grant seems to be an accidental shooting, or is it? Kate Marino is determined to uncover the truth of the shooting that day in the woods. This is one of the best mystery books I have read.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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I thought I would enjoy this a lot more, but I thought it was okay. Granted I’m not a huge Black Widow fan so I think that’s why I didn’t really enjoy it. If you are a fan of the character, I think you will enjoy this series. Personally, wasn’t my favorite.

3. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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I usually don’t read non fiction, but this book caught my eye at Barnes & Noble. Andrea & Sophie were two teenage girls enrolled in a coding class in NY. They created a game titled Tampon Run to help alleviate the stigma behind periods. This book detailed their process with learning how to code the game. I have always been intrigued with code and I liked how they used their final project to bring awareness to a huge issue.

 4. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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Any female who identifies as a geek should read this book. It’s a geek girl re-telling of Cinderella and in many ways I identify with Elle and her obsession with her favorite TV show. This book is so endearing.

5. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

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I’m nominating Geekerella again for this award. What’s cooler than a princess leaning up against a food truck? Absolutely nothing.

6. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

David Charleston & Megan from the Steelheart series by Brandon Sanderson. Every time I talk about books, I bring up this series. Seriously, this is my favorite book series I have read in a while. I’m currently reading Calamity the third book in the trilogy and I’ll genuinely be sad once I finish it.

7. Best Comic Book Series in 2017 < I added this question it doesn’t appear in the original book survey

I cannot narrow it down so I nominate these series as any comic book fan should read them.

  1. Paper Girls (Image Comics)
  2. Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur (Marvel Comics)
  3. Cassian & KTSO One Shot (Marvel Comics)
  4. DC’s Rebirth (DC Comics)
  5. Moonstruck (Image Comics)

8. Worst Book Read in 2017 < I added this question it doesn’t appear in the original book survey. 

Killing Kate by Julie Kramer. This book was so incredibly boring, as I mentioned I do love a good mystery book, but I struggled so heavily getting through this book. It was somewhat depressing. Plus this book took place in Minnesota which made me more intrigued to read it. What a mistake.

9. Worst Comic Book of 2017 < I added this question it doesn’t appear in the original book survey. 

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I’m tied between Moonshine shown above and an Iron Fist comic book I borrowed from the library. Moonshine wasn’t meant for me, I think it was written to appeal to men. Maybe I’m biased, but I’m not a fan of Iron Fist as a character. I think this comes from the fact that I’m not a fan of the Iron Fist TV show, but I was hoping to be impressed with the comic book instead and I wasn’t.

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10. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

My Dietland Review is my favorite review of 2017. I liked that I reviewed the book and talked about an important topic which is not assuming someone’s health status based on their weight. I was watching a series of videos from a vlogger and she was so toxic with saying that “fat acceptance” is promoting obesity. That’s not the case at all. It’s just saying you’re allowed to feel proud of your body even if it’s not where you want it to be. The diet industry can be toxic and dietland is a book that discusses this in detail.

11. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I didn’t participate in anything book related, but I did attend three comic conventions where creators were selling comics. I brought around $80 of spending money so I could buy as many comics from creators as I could.

12. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

My biggest challenge with reading is fitting it in. I usually would read before bed, but I ended up being too tired and falling asleep before reading my book. Now I make a point to set a time to go to my bedroom and read before I get so tired where all I can think about is sleep.

13.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Absolutely! I always set my good reads goal at 10 books and increase it every time I finish a book. Instead of feeling disappointed at the end of the year, I’m elated because I increased my goal each time I hit it.

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14. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

I don’t have a specific book, but my bookshelf is overflowing with books I bought and haven’t read yet. I have even banned buying any more books until I read what I already have. That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2017.

15. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Making reading a priority again. This year wasn’t my strongest reading year because of so many big life changes occurring in a short amount of time. I have been bringing a book to work to read on my break and that helps me fit in reading.

 

Steelheart Book Review

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Image from GoodReads.com

Yay I’m finally writing a book review! I used to write book reviews quite frequently on this blog, but somehow I have gotten away from that. I think it’s because I’m finishing books at a slower rate due to my chaotic work week. Normally, I never do re-reads of books, but I made an exception with the Steelheart series by Brandon Sanderson. This series is one of my all time favorite sci-fi trilogies! Six months ago, I bought the last book in the Steelheart series titled Calamity. It was collecting dust on my bookshelf which led me to just re-read the series once again to be more in the mood to finish Calamity. If you haven’t touched this book series yet, you are missing out on one epic sci-fi adventure.

Imagine a world where X-Men exist, but they are evil. In Steelheart, the mutants are called Epics born out of the rise of a bright orange star called Calamity. Once this star rose into the night sky, humans were given powers. David Charleston as a young boy witnesses his father murdered by a high epic known as Steelheart. Every epic has a weakness which can be used to destroy them. Steelheart’s weakness is unknown which makes him more powerful. David ultimately joins the Reckoner’s, a group of humans who’s ultimate goal is to end the epics and encourage the human race to fight back. This book details David’s taste of revenge to burn Steelheart along with him working alongside the Reckoner’s.

David as a character is just a cute, nerdy kid. He’s incredibly smart with detecting the weakness of epics. He’s also fearless; he puts his life on the line multiple times to get more information or to save a team member. Steelheart is absolutely brutal in his rule over the city of New Cago aka. Chicago. He’s the ultimate foe and it’s so satisfying to read about David and Steelheart’s showdown in the last couple chapters of the book.

Besides David, the Reckoner’s team are great side characters. Megan is the “attractive”, but bad ass character. Tia is the genius who constantly is chugging coca-cola. Prof is stoic, cold yet caring. Abraham is the weapons expert while Cody brings the humor with a mix of a Scottish / Southern acccent.

There are multiple twists in this book I didn’t see coming. Re-reading the book was more enjoyable this time because I could pick up certain clues to lead to the twist at the end. I’m not going to spoil anything because it’s worth reading about for the first time.

Steelheart blew me away with it’s story, setting and character development. This series is great for any comic book fan because I felt a lot of correlation between the X-Men comic book characters. Now, onto re-reading Firefight. 

Scooby Doo Apocalypse Vol #1 Review

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Scooby Doo is that guilty pleasure cartoon I will always enjoy. When I was young, me and a neighbor would hang out and play Scooby-Doo Mystery of the Fun Park Phantom during sleepovers. I would usually played as Velma because she was quirky and weird like me. Scooby Doo will always make me think back on my childhood and playing that addicting PC game. DC Comics happens to also own Hanna-Barbera for years and decided to release titles with the Scooby Doo characters, Flinestones and the Wacky Races. After a trip to the comic book store, I picked up the first volume of Scooby Doo Apocalypse. It’s a flawed comic book, but it’s fun.

Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, Scooby and Fred all get a makeover in this updated comic. Something awful has hit the world the gang are apart of, people are being transformed into cannibalistic creatures and food becomes scarce. Can these pesky kids uncover the reason for this atrocity!?

One flawed part about this comic is the writing. It often felt repetitive at times especially in the way Daphne and Velma interacted. In every issue was there an argument between Daphne and Velma about the cause of the epidemic. I don’t need to read about the same fight between two characters in multiple issues. Another flaw I found is in Daphne’s revamped personality. She was constantly abusive to Velma and Fred which seems so unlike her cartoon counterpart. Daphne can still be a bad ass female without punching or throwing things at other people. I hope in the future trades of this series that Daphne is improved upon and develops more as a character.

I do happen to like each character’s revamped look. Daphne may be obnoxious, but I like her purple camo look. Shaggy even looks a bit more hip along with Scooby who’s a technologically advanced super dog. Velma is the only character that didn’t really receive that treatment, but I feel her character is fine on her own.

I wasn’t expecting much from this comic, but it did surprise me on how enjoyable of a read it was. There were elements I certainly wasn’t a fan of, but it didn’t completely turn me away from this series. DC Comics made a valiant effort in creating an interesting twist on my favorite childhood cartoon.

 

Scooby Doo, Superhumans and Gaming. My Reading List

Reading has been on the back burner these past couple months. As I scrolled through my reading/books category on my blog, I notice how I haven’t been posting as many book reviews. Reading is a huge hobby of mine and I want to make it more of a priority. I have brought my book to work so I could read on my lunch break which I really enjoy doing, but I also want to read right before bed because it does help me sleep better. Take a look at the books I’m currently reading.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

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Steelheart follows the story of David Charleston, a young man growing up in the U.S. where epics reign. Epics were regular humans when exposed to Calamity (a red sun that appears in the sky) gain superpowers. All epics have used their powers to kill or rule over humans and David’s dad was killed by Steelheart, a very powerful epic. David joins the Reckoner’s, a small army of humans who engage and kill epics. David and the Reckoner’s attempt to take down Steelheart and other epics in the trilogy.

This series is one of my favorite sci-fi trilogy’s. I normally never re-read books, but I wanted to be in the mood to finish the third book Calamity. I haven’t read Calamity yet, so to prepare I am going back and re-reading the other books Steelheart and Firefight. 

Warcross by Marie Lu

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Emika is a teenage hacker struggling to pay her rent. To make extra cash, she works as a bounty hunter for the police capturing smaller criminals the police doesn’t have time to track. She is a gamer and used to play WarCross, a popular video game almost everyone in the world plays. The WarCross championships are this week, and Emika tries to hack into the game. She is caught by the game’s creator Hideo Tanaka and offered a position to spy on the on the tournament to catch other hackers in the game.

That’s the most basic premise to the story I can give because I’m only a couple chapters into the book. The average rating for this book on goodreads is 4.23 stars so I’m anticipating I will enjoy this book.

Scooby Doo Apocalypse Volume #1

Scooby Doo Apocalpyse

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Imagine if the Scooby Doo gang were involved with killing zombies. This comic brings the team together in a new way to fight off alien creatures. Each team member gets an updated look including Daphne who looks a lot more kick ass than her cartoon counterpart. I haven’t finished this comic yet, but I will admit it’s a pretty fun comic to read especially if Scooby Doo was apart of your childhood.

Hopefully, I will start posting comics and book reviews again because I miss writing them. Also Happy Halloween because this post magically coincides with my favorite day in October.