Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blog Vacation!

Rawr Reader,

    In mid August I officially decided to take a short break from my blog. While I love writing reviews, I seem to have gone on overload because for 6 straight months I wrote reviews, and consequently the reviews I've recently been able to write seemed weak in analysis.  I think you as the reader deserve better since you're probably reading either because 
            1) you haven't read it the book yet and am somewhat curious about doing so 
            2) you have read it and want to see if we have the same reactions/comments/thoughts on said book. 
    So I'm taking a mini vacation and hopefully by September I'll be refreshed and back in my reviewing mode. (And that's when Vicious by Victoria Schwab is released and I'll definitely be reviewing that book.) ^^
    I don't know if this is simply because of my book selection that I can't really think of much to say or I'm mentally exhausted from constantly reading then reviewing then jumping into a new book to repeat the process, let alone worrying about my schoolwork, but I think a break will be good for me and I hope I don't disappoint any consistent followers. When I do resume writing reviews, I'm really excited to share my thoughts with you all again since I've been getting some good books (I think). ;D
So until next time, happy reading!

Nicole Ciel

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Men of Bronze Book Review

Rawr Reader,

  Historical fiction and Egypt! I'm so so so excited! I don't typically read books that aren't in some way being currently discussed or is just plain old mainstream, but hey, I could find my new favorite book (ex: The China Garden). Let's go!
  This is Men of Bronze by Scott Oden and the synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

It is 526 B.C. and the empire of the Pharaohs is dying, crushed by the weight of its own antiquity. Decay riddles its cities, infects its aristocracy, and weakens its armies. While across the expanse of Sinai, like jackals drawn to carrion, the forces of the King of Persia watch and wait. Leading the fight to preserve the soul of Egypt is Hasdrabal Barca, Pharaoh’s deadliest killer. Possessed of a rage few men can fathom and fewer can withstand, Barca struggles each day to preserve the last sliver of his humanity. But, when one of Egypt’s most celebrated generals, a Greek mercenary called Phanes, defects to the Persians, it triggers a savage war that will tax Barca’s skills, and his humanity, to the limit. From the political wasteland of Palestine, to the searing deserts east of the Nile, to the streets of ancient Memphis, Barca and Phanes play a desperate game of cat-and-mouse — a game culminating in the bloodiest battle of Egypt’s history. Caught in the midst of this violence is Jauharah, a slave in the House of Life. She is Arabian, dark-haired and proud — a healer with gifts her blood, her station, and her gender overshadow. Though her hands tend to Barca’s countless wounds, it is her spirit that heals and changes him. Once a fearsome demigod of war, Hasdrabal Barca becomes human again. A man now motivated as much by love as anger. Nevertheless honor and duty have bound Barca to the fate of Egypt. A final conflict remains, a reckoning set to unfold in the dusty hills east of Pelusium. There, over the dead of two nations, Hasdrabal Barca will face the same choice as the heroes of old: Death and eternal fame or obscurity and long life.

  Yeah so I was watching The Mummy with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (one of my all time favorite movie series) and I thought I hadn't read any Egyptian historical fiction yet and so I just googled any books like that, and this one sounded the most interesting out of all the ones I found. 

(safe for those who haven't read this book)
  This was a nice surprise, I didn't know how'd I feel about this book. What really pulled me was the language, Oden's descriptions might have seemed a little too flowery at times but it's what made this world sound more colorful. Though I will argue that at first I felt the language felt a little too modern for the time it was meant to be set in (526BC), it was easy to get used to and then it wasn't as distracting.
   Probably the only element I felt was lacking was the world-building. While I wasn't completely in the dark, I felt more of my concentration spent trying to remember who was who (I'll talk about next) and trying to remember who was on what side, the Egyptians or the Greeks? I was excited for this historical fiction particularly since it was in ancient Egypt, and I was curious to see how Oden would depict the culture and the people. I felt he set the culture up, but I wished that he grew more from it. Even if it made the story a little longer, I want to be invested in the story from every point of view. 
   Because we have so many sides and very off names (ex: Hasdrabal Barca, Ujahorresnet, Ankhkaenre Psammetuchus to name a few...), there were moments I was more concerned who was scheming against who. Even though a lot of characters come and go, I think that Oden did a good job of characterizing the main characters. However, I felt that because the POV changes from Barca to other main characters it was a bit distracting and not really about Barca's story but all of the other characters-- which wouldn't be a problem but I felt this story was too short to alternate characters. I think he should've left that space to world-building.
   In fact, this lack of world building but with political betrayals and massive cast of characters reminded me a lot of A Game of Thrones. However, Martin excelled in the character department (characterization and development), but I do think that Oden did a good job.
   I don't really like fight scenes in book, this is a personal opinion, I just can't picture them. Ooo he lunged and arced the sword blade and it stopped in the enemy's chest (that isn't what he puts but I think you get the point). That's probably what made The Last Olympian so hard for me to enjoy, most of the book was fight scenes and I can't picture them. While this was inevitable in a book entitled Men of Bronze, fighting and battles were bound to happen, I only wished that maybe Oden would have maybe designed the battles in a new color and would have let me follow it more. This isn't the only book I find battles/fight scenes hard to read, others I've read are in Eon, The Last Olympian, The Mortal Instrument books and yes, The Lord of the Rings.
   While I felt the end was a little predictable, I still enjoyed it nonetheless. And there was a moment I felt that he was making it end to have a sequel, but no, this is a stand-alone novel. And this makes me happy. :)

   I think I've been overloading on book reviews, and I can tell I feel my content hasn't been as informative as I want them to be, so until further notice, this may be my last review for a while. 

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Author's Quote:
"Why do we have this urge to see what lies over the next hill, as if it might be better than the valley we are in?"
—Nebmaatra, Scott Oden, Men of Bronze

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   Jauharah going after Barca in the end was a little immature for me. I only feel this way because if this were a young adult book, that's what the main female lead would do after disobeying the boyfriend. And then Barca dying-- yeah reminded me a lot of Achilles. 
   Everyone dying made me sad, but I didn't feel close with anyone (except Callisthenes since he lived more than 50 pages like all the others who died) and yes, reminded me again of A Game of Thrones.
   I felt that the Greek gods were more prominent in this culture than the Egyptian gods which made me a little more critical. I was excited to see if they would come to life and make this more fantastic, but the gods weren't mentioned much.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Body in the Library Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   Today is my first day away from sci-fi which makes me a little sad since I've enjoyed every one I've read so far this week. But I enjoy almost any genre I read so I really don't lose right? ;D
    This review will be on The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

Bleached blonde girl clad in not-new spangled evening gown is found strangled in the library of old Colonel Arthur and Dolly Bantry, best friends to Miss Jane Marple. The village spinster, expert in human nature and motivations for murder, notes closely clipped nails, commonly bitten at that age, unlike talons usual to Josie's job of professional Hotel dancer.

  After buying my first two Agatha Christie novels separately... I went to Walmart with my mom and happened across the book section *winky face* and they had this awesome little Agatha Christie set of 4 books, And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, The Body in the Library,  and an extra book about her life and her favorite books and other really cool facts about her. I already had the first two books but I really wanted TBitL and the extra little book on her, plus the set was only $14 (which is an awesome deal since the case is really cute too!) so I thought, why not??

(safe for those who haven't read this section)
   Something I love about Agatha Christie, her endings never disappoint! While this one may have been a little bit more predictable than the other three I've read (check which ones in my book reviews page to the right), I still really enjoyed following the case.
   I was moving so I didn't read this book at a more leisurely pace, so I had some trouble keeping track of all the names. Probably what I enjoyed most was meeting new people and hearing their "voice." My favorite person reading about was Mrs. Bantry. Right from the start she has a very eccentric personality, particularly with her reactions to the development of the case and calling Miss Marple to the case. 
   And I'm not really a fan of Miss Marple, she seemed to have come to the solution way too easily. I don't know if it's because she's "that good" like Sherlock Holmes or C. Auguste Dupin from Edgar Allen Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue," but for me she seemed to be out of sight or just sitting around most of the case. So at the end when she's explaining how the murder occurred, it was a little unbelievable. If it were Hercule Poirot, I know he would've been more involved therefore I would've been more impressed.
   Also I loved how Christie referenced herself about a quarter of the way into the story. And then when she praised her writing (check quote below). Gotta love when the author praises/references themselves in books. Sure gave me a chuckle.
   Sorry there isn't much to say since this is a murder mystery and anything I say might give a hint as to who did it or who didn't. 
I give this book 3.5/5 stars. Would've been 4 stars if Miss Marple were more involved.

Author's Quote:
"Do you—er—write detective stories?"
The most unlikely people, he knew, wrote detective stories. And Miss Marple, in her old-fashioned spinster's clothes, looked a singularly unlikely person.
"Oh no, I'm not clever enough for that."
Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Men of Bronze by Scott Oden

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book, so don't read this section)
   I had some problems with the whole detective thing. Miss Marple wasn't the main detective for the practically the majority of the book, and that's what made the ending a little disappointing. I love how the body was meant to be in Basil's house but that he was drunk so he took the body to Bantry's hosue as a joke. (I still chuckle at that.)
   But I didn't understand how Pamela got involved. Only she was trying to get into show business with Ruby-- even then I may be off.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Thursday, August 8, 2013

i, Robot Book Review

Rawr Reader,

  I really hope I'm not overloading on sci-fi, but I'm just in a science ficitony mood. Whether I want it to or not, though this may be my last sci-fi for a while. So I will embrace it as if it were my last forever! :0)
 I watched the movie two months ago or so and I find it absolutely fantastic, I knew I needed to read the book. This is i, Robot by Isaac Asimov, and I needed to type the synopsis from the back of the book again because I didn't like the Goodreads one:

They mustn't harm a human being, they must obey human orders, and they must protect their own existence... but only so long as that doesn't violate rules one and two. With these Three Laws of Robotics, humanity embarked on a bold new era of evolution that would open up enormous possibilities—and unforseen risks. For the scientists who invented the earliest robots were content that their creations should remain programmed helpers, companions, and semisentient worker-machines. And soon the robots themselves, aware of their own intelligence, power, and humanity, aren't either.
As humans and robots struggle to survive together—and sometimes against each other—on earth and in space, the future of bot hangs in the balance. Here human men and women confront robots gone mad, telepathic robots, robot politicians, and vast robotic intelligences that may already secretly control the world. And both are asking the same questions: What is human? And is humanity obsolete?

   The movie, I'll have to say.

(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so does contain spoilers)
   After the first little prologue where it was established that this was going to be nothing like the movie, I was a little disheartened, I'll admit. I was really excited to read about the mystery and suspense I see in the movie, and was really excited to read more on Sonny since he was probably my favorite character in the movie. However, how Isaac Asimov structured this book just tore down my expectations of disappointment and substituted them with a tower of amazingness. I love how Asimov showed the progress of robots parallel to the timeline of Dr. Susan Calvin, and then had her recollect the memories in an interview. Genius.

   The three laws of robotics:
Law 1: No robot may harm a human, or allow a human to come to harm
Law 2: A robot must obey every command given to him, as long as such command does not conflict with the First Law
Law 3: A robot must protect its existence, as long as it does not conflict with the First of Second Laws

   Okay, when reading or hearing these laws for the first time, you're like sure, okay. Am I wrong? I know I did. It's hard to put what they words mean in a simple phrase but I'll try, these three laws really create the fundamental blocks of our present day society's conventional standards of moral ethics. Sorry didn't meant to sound ostentatious but that's just the quick version of what Asimov was going for. Obviously he says it more tersely in the book, but that's basically what the goals are aiming for. Drawing the line for man to question, what dictates man vs. machine. I could go on and on about how much I love what Asimov does with this, but I'd rather you read it yourself to discover how amazing it is. 
   Each chapter sort of felt like a short story but they all connected for the overall aspect of the development of robots. While this isn't my first robot book, I guess Cinder would be, it is definitely a new favorite. I've really been liking my sci-fi selections lately.
   Okay, what stood out most to me is how much I connected to these robots, not the people. While the predominantly "main" protagonists are Dr. Susan Calvin, Dr. Alfred Lannister, Mike Donovan, Gregory Powell, and our unnamed reporter, each chapter alternates in who's POV we see the story through. However, how Asimov characterized these seemingly "soulless" robots was breathtaking. From the first robot mentioned-- Robbie, to the last, the possible political candidate Stephen Byerley, I connected with each of them, and that was because of the fact that he humanized them. While some were a little less nurturing (QT-1, aka, Cutie) than others (the mute robot, Robbie), in some way or another, the robot possessed the three laws of robotics and in some form or manner try to uphold the greater good in obeying them. This can particularly be seen in the chapters Liar! and Little Lost Robot, which were some of my favorite chapters. (Actually, I liked them all but Catch that Rabbit and the final chapter.)
   So this development we see with the robots over the course of the novel (about 60 years) is staggering-- even in this fictional futuristic world. (I'll break it down by robot, which is almost every chapter though I won't be able to do some.)
              We start off with Robbie (I initially put Sonny, hehe) a mute robot who's function is to be the nursemaid for a family. He is the first inkling we have of a robot possessing something of a glimpse into the realm of curiosity vs. plain old obedience. Robbie likes stories, and this pure innocence of a characteristic already was a step into humanizing him. And then his devotion to Gloria was another step into not just obeying the Three Laws, but I argue that he actually cared for his little friend. (Can be seen when right after saving her, his arms are described as: "wound about the little girl gently and lovingly"). Robbie's story I argue is the allegory of the First Law. 
              We then proceed to SPD 13 (aka Speedy), who is what I argue the allegory of the Second Law. Which is tested when Powell forces Speedy to fall out of his loop of obeying the Second and Third Laws. 
              Next we meet Robot QT-1 (aka Cutie), who is probably the scariest of the robots we meet. He is pure logic, in no manner associated with the emotional sector that Robbie felt or even Speedy at least hinted at, however associated with preservation of the "Master" who honestly I don't really know who it is. My first guess would be the command center where Powell and Donovan get their commands from. Cutie never physically harmed them or even tried to harm them, but his authoritative manner when he took control over Powell and Donovan was scary. I was waiting for him to starve them or suck them out to space or something. But when they left at the end of the chapter, I understood that that wasn't what Asimov was aiming for. (Plus my guess was it was too early in the novel to make the robots become so evil it was hopeless.)
              I don't really have much to say about the Catch That Rabbit chapter since I wasn't really a fan of it. So moving on to:
              Liar! (A favorite), is the first chapter we see that returns to Dr. Calvin and where she is directly involved in the events (well she was mentioned in Robbie but it was a very short appearance). Robot RB-34 (aka Herbie) is another step into arguing machine vs man. We witness Herbie go "insane" after Calvin humiliates him after lying to her, and it was honestly the saddest moment in the book because it began to show that maybe there was more to them. They had been constructed and built together yes, but what makes them different from man? They obey and protect human just as any respectable law-abiding human does in modern society, yet more primitive man is considered more human than robots. Now don't take me for someone who thinks all machines have souls (though I do protect my electronics with delicacy and love ;D hehe), but that's what's so great about this book. It's getting you to think and care for these robots. Not even real robots! Fictional robots that won't exist anytime soon! I haven't had a book make me think like this since Cloud Atlas. (1984 just made me scared.) Because what does make us human, how we treat other people, or how we treat machines (albeit highly intelligent machines)? Like I said, this is just discussion in context relating to the book-- but if you want to go existential, be my guest. ^^
            Little Lost Robot was another favorite of mine purely because of the mystery behind it. And the suspense. My two favorite things in novels. I think this chapter is probably the closest we get to the movie, because in this cross-examination chapter I kept imagining scenes in the movie that were similar. Although it is in space, and Detective Spooner isn't there, and there are 63 NS-2s and not 1001 NS-5s as the movie depicts it. Still, the premise is the same— Find that robot! It was great. Basically what differs this robot from the rest is that it is one of a handful of robots that is slightly rewired to have a different interpretation of the First Law, which is: It may not harm a human. That's it though, it doesn't have to save one. This correlates to the rest of the chapter, read it to see why! :D
              Escape! The second scariest chapter. This one sort of deals with the movie's interpretation of VIKI, only this one is referred to as the "The Brain." However "The Brain" thought it'd be funny to ship off two men into space with the only sustainable substance of beans and milk and no facilities to groom or bathe themselves. Need I say more? Talk about a sense of humor!
               The chapter Evidence was another favorite and purely because of how far robots had gone by this time. Now it was the next stage of robot "evolution" in which now they were being designed to resemble humans. Francis Quinn, a political candidate running for Mayor however accused his opponent Stephen Byerley of being a robot. The chapter explores the possibilities and "evidence" as to why, howeverwell, let's just say the ending to this chapter was perfect. 
             I read through the last chapter so fast I don't really remember what it was about, but I didn't find 90% of the chapter relevant. My fault, but I still didn't see how it was important to the rest of the story. They talk about The Machine, that's all I know. 
     So yeah, that was just a recap/my comments I had to make on the chapters (at least the ones I felt were important) and I'm curious if anyone thinks me wrong in something. I read this in a day and I think I read it too fast, next time I'll read it a bit slower. However I still found it a fantastic read and yes, still love the book and movie separately (but seriously—they're SO different!).
    And this is a little random-- but in each sci-fi book I've read in the past week, they've each mentioned Times magazine. Is this mandatory?

I give this book 5/5 stars. A favorite.

Author's Quote:
"And Herbie Screamed!
It was like the whistling of a piccolo many times magnified—shrill and shriller till it keened with the terror of a lost soul and filled the room with the piercingness of itself."
—Isaac Asimov, i, Robot

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ready Player One Book Review

Rawr Reader,

  I'm in a science fiction mood, plus I'm just really excited for this one. This is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, I typed the synopsis out from the back of the book because the one on Goodreads was hella long:

It's the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their' creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take his ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperately trying to escape.

  A bunch of booktubers have liked this, and while I was at first turned off, I decided to give it a shot.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
  And thank the game gods I did because I am so absolutely in LOVE with everything in this book. I'll go into detail later on in my review, but first, let's talk about the external features.
  Man I'm picking some nice covers, because I love this one. It's so cool. It's what I imagined when reading when first being introduced to this world. A+ to the cover designer I'm too lazy to flip the book over to name. >_<
   Okay, where to even begin? This puts a whole other level of epic to be defined in the dictionary. I mean, this is central to the awesomeness of video games?? Let's take a moment to appreciate that fact. ~~~I said a moment~~~~ And another moment~~~~~And moving on~~ I myself am not too into games, only really playing when I was in elementary/middle school and even high school (no judging allowed—this is a safe zone) when I played games like Pokemon, Animal Crossing, Dance Revolution, Children of the Nile, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Runescape and many others. No joke, when reading this book, I felt like I was playing the game along with Wade. So technically, you could even go so far as to say I was doing two things at once. (wooooo~~ soooo cool!) While I don't play video games anymore since I spend my time at school/reading/writing (which regretfully I should do way more of), I really did enjoy it when I was younger and wish I could still be up to date with all the awesome games that are being released or have already been released nowadays.
   I want to first talk about this world. It's a dystopian, and since there about a million and one dystopians being released nowadays, let me take a moment to explain how it's different and why it's technically more realistic than one you've probably read before. And that is, Wade almost always lives his life through another form. Meaning, he spends the majority of his time in a virtual reality, instead it isn't a computer as the generations nowadays are living it through (myself—guiltilty— too), but a LAR game. I can't say LARPing since there's all this technical gear Wade has to wear so he can connect to the game— the infamous OASIS— though it is techincally "playing." So scratch that last comment, it is LARPing. But way way cooler! I'll continue this thought in a moment.
   Now back to what I was trying to talk about. This story is set in a dystopian future, where traveling outside of major cities is highly dangerous. Where privacy is exclusive to the wealthy and elite, where homes are trailers stacked up on top of each other that could reach to twenty stacks and higher! (Can be seen on the cover—reference above picture) The world is ultimately starving and in debt and there doesn't seem to be a promise of a better tomorrow. Only there is! For the winner of Halliday's Egg who can win a small fortune of 200+ billion. Public schools exist but the elite can attend OASIS public schools where one can have access to every movie/song/history/book/ the list goes on, all of it free access for the masses! (Hmm what would our world today look like if that were free every where and to anyone...) But back to this world, it's scary (not 1984 scary which I just finished, I don't think anything will ever be 1984 scary) and the future doesn't look too bright for anyone who isn't smart. There's even a moment when Wade says that trying to get a job at the nearby fast food restaurant had a wait list for applicants. Talk about depressing! Well, just read it yourself to learn all about more about this world. ;)
  ..."But way way cooler!" Why? because you could participate in games, shopping, quests, world-building, space travel and so much more in this incredibly complex universe I just want to sign up and make my own OASIS account so I can participate. Honestly I think this would be the dream game world for any gamer. I hope I'm not being too extreme in saying that, but seriously the possibilities are endless, what's there to argue? Like said in the above paragraph, if you attend school in the OASIS (which is strictly enforced under a safe-zone, no-PvP (player-vs-player)) you have access to all the Earth's history and its societies and the cultures within it all, spanning from art to music to history to biographies to languages to anything and everything. If it weren't for the whole reality sucking, this place would be thee coolest place to live.
    Now taking a step from the world, let's take a look at our characters. Wade Watts is a reclusive, shy, introvertive character and because of that I could relate to him more. He says himself that when interacting with others virtually, he's really easy to talk to and sociable, but when it came to the real world, it was really hard. I don't want to say that all video gamers are like that, but I connected with that at least if not the video gaming part. 
   Something that I also loved about this book was that it didn't have one sole main character or two with a bunch of secondary characters, we had eight—and they weren't hard to keep track of. Wade Watts, Art3mis, Aech, Daito, Shoto, James Halliday, Ogden Morrow, and Nolan Sorrento. Protagonists and antagonists alike, I loved them all. They each had their own voice and I never mistook one for another. Which I daresay many young adult writers (which I predominantly read) need to work on.
   One of the last things I loved about this book that made it stand out was the jargon particular to this world. We have the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), IOI (Innovative Online Industries), gunters ("egg-hunters"), Sixers (in reference to it's members who ID'd by their six number employee numbers), and others I can't remember from the top of my head.
   Arguably the only thing wrong with this book that I think bothered me more than anything, was the disconnect I personally felt with all the references. While I praise Cline for all of them, I only recognized a few of them (like Gaiman, Tolkien, Firefly, Star Wars, Stephen King, and a few more). And that isn't the author's fault. Only, since James Halliday is a fictional character, even if I was slightly well versed in some of these iconic people/entertainment references, you couldn't really predict what the next clue would lead to, and you had to rely on Wade to figure it out. 
   But to be honest, what made me fall in love was the first reference of Firefly. I finally watched the show for the first time about a month ago (though I had it on my Netflix instant queue for so long) and I hate how underrated it is, second hate to only how it only had one aired season (curse you Fox). The acting, the sets, the stories, the plots, everything about that show is awesome. Joss Whedon is a genius and I rest my case there. Go watch it now. Go! Go! Go!
   Back to my review, sorry I needed to give that show some publicity. I found maybe one dull moment and it honestly wasn't that dull. It was just technical game jargon I am so most unfamiliar with so it was hard to understand, but the rest of the book is great. I mean the writing isn't the most unique I've ever read, but it's easy to follow and the big paragraphs don't intimidate me (thank the Heavens after 1984 I thought I'd be scarred for life). 
   OH yeah! Almost forgot. Should probably prepare you for some game-ception that goes on in this book. It's awesome!!

I give this book 5/5 stars. That isn't really shocking is it? :P

Author's Quote:
"Going outside is highly overrated."
—Anorak's Almanac, Chapter 17, Verse 32
—Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
i, Robot by Isaac Asimov

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   When reading I had so much to say, but unfortunately I only wrote several things down...
   Firstly, in the beginning, I had a problem with the family situation between Wade and his aunt. Now, I honestly can't remember what it was because I didn't write it down, but I know I had a problem with how that was arranged. (Sorry, when I reread the book I'll tell you!) ^^
   Second, before the final showdown between Sixer and Gunter, I really grew to appreciate the gunter clans as a whole. From the beginning they were designed to function as a team, gaining friends and fulfilling quests at the same time, what more of a greater way of gaining long-lasting comradership. Millions upon millions of them fight Sixers, knowing they'd rather have another gunter find Halliday's Egg than let a Sixer or the IOI win the prize, even if it'll never be them or even have a chance of being them. After Wade acquires the crystal key, when he's traveling to Chthonia and he sees the clans of gunters blasting at the sixer shield, I think I connected to what Cline was aiming for. And since I realized it way before hand, I felt uber smart. :0)
  At times I felt the romance part of the book a little distracting, but by the end I knew it was necessary. And not to say I don't like reading romance, I do, but I figured that this wouldn't really venture near that that genre so when I read how positively smitten Wade was over Art3mis after they first met, I was little turned off. And when he kept saying how crazy he was over her and how much he was thinking about her instead of the quest, I kept rolling my eyes and saying "oh brother." And then when the final pages were coming and I guessed that it would end with a little "romantic moment" between Art3mis aka Samantha and Wade, I was dreading it a little bit. But by the end I knew that that was what made Wade's develop, that he grew to be from an insecure boy who relied on the OASIS to bring the best in him, but now he found someone in real life to do it, and it was so much better. Cute message, and I'm not that much bothered by it. ^^
  One of my favorite moments has to be when Wade is reenacting Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Need I say more?
  Seriously a fantastic, amazing story! 

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Sunday, August 4, 2013

1984 Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   I never really cared much about this book but as of late I've been really in the mood for sci-fi. Plus I just finished reading a horrible chick lit so I need to read by authors that actually want to send a message and make feel something, not just show how me how life is not. So, this is 1984 by George Orwell, the synopsis of which is provided by Goodreads:

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

  I've heard about this book for years and it's always sit on my mom's bookshelf but I never gave it much thought to read until now.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   First of all, I can never look at this cover in the same way again. I should have taken the hint.
   With only three chapters and page long paragraphs, it took me a couple days to read this book. However once you get past that, this book is so terrifying, if I was reading this pre-1984 I would be even more scared. This is the paradigm of dystopian (that I've read) because George Orwell really wanted to make sure that this world was real. Or is it? 
   For those wondering what this book is about, it's about a man named Winston Smith and his life in 1984. He lives in a world where there are three nations: "Oceania (which he lives) is the Americas, the Atlantic Isles including the British Isles (they merge British and American currencies), Australasia, and southern portion of Africa. Eastasia— is smaller than the others with a less definite western frontier, consists of China and countries south of it, Japanese islands, Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet. And Eurasia— whole of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass, from Portugal to the Bering Strait" (pg 185). They are always in war with one another. And the three slogans in the Ministry of Truth is: 
"War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength"
   Debate on about its similarities to this world, but I want to just look at it as a literary novel. What both fascinated and bored me was the world-building. As I said before, this book has many page long paragraphs and I know for the first chapter I just read over words, I don't really remember what happened most of that chapter. I was worried that was how the rest of the story was going to go-- just world-building. Even then I was scared, I can't really give an example about what made this story so realistic, it just was. Well, actually I can give an example but I'll put it below in the spoiler section.
   The synopsis doesn't even say what the story is about, and that's because it isn't about one man, but man in general. We just so happen to look through Winston Smith's eyes, however it doesn't make it Winston's story. Why not? I think the principles that is discussed in chapter 3 pretty much answer my question. 
   And I didn't like this book for that reason, this was about the world in 1984, not about one characterone man in the world. I don't read many theoretical books, well, actually none. And this isn't one but it is more so than the typical journey/stranger in town story. Books I gear toward are generally about characters and their development in the story, and that is what I connected to most in this story. I know it sounds like I'm countering what I'm saying above, but throughout this predominantly world-building story, there were moments that Orwell was talking about the life of the protagonist Winston. And honestly those were the moments I connected to more simply because I could relate to him more than theoretical situations and movements and dogmas that were presented in this story. 
   Now this isn't a scary story in the traditional sense in which it's goal is to scare you (at least I hope that wasn't Orwell's goal), like other horror stories that have ghosts that pop out from the darkness and screams boo. Man is the scariest creature to walk this Earth, and when we witness them in their darkest hours, that is when the horrors become more frightening than those we read about or that we fear in our dreams.  Reading about them in our future (at least if reading this before 1984), raises the bar to a new standard of horror. Well, raised.
   Though the entire concept of Doublethink (at least what I understood of it) made me think the most. The Party's four Ministries: Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Plenty, Ministry of Love, Ministry of Truth, were one of the parts of the book that I didn't understand that well, so I can't say much about them. All I know is that they basically are the opposite of what they stand for.
    While I read this at an extremely slow pace, I did enjoy reading it (when I understood what was happening) and this is one of the rare times that I actually want to reread. I didn't quite grasp at certain concepts such as Doublethink, Newspeak, proles, the Thought Police, the Brotherhood, and Big Brother (yeah that's mainly all the components of the world...) so I think rereading this being at least somewhat familiar with them will give me at an advantage to better understanding them the second time around.

I give this book 4/5 stars. I deduct a star only for pacing, otherwise it would be 5 stars.

Author's Quote:
"We shall meet again—if we do meet again—"
Winston looked up at him. "In the place where there is no darkness?" he said hesitantly.
O'Brien nodded once without appearance of surprise. "In the place where this is no darkness." 
—George Orwell, 1984

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   What makes this story so scary? Everything.
   Just kidding, but even though I was majorly confused in the first chapter, I was genuinely frightened from the beginning. Man can be taken at any moment in time and disappear forever, your whereabouts never to be notified to friends (if you would have any) or family. Children ratted out their parents if they spoke badly against the Party. People were married not for love but to procreate, and even then it was controlled. Pasts and histories were arbitrarily updated, and wars were changed against one nation to the other and when they were changed were made to believe had been in war for years. Disbursements of food and supplies were steadily declining though the news reported they were getting better (lies, Lies, LIES!). The language was being reduced to omit unnecessary words (for example: they wanted to take out the word 'bad' out of the dictionary and instead substitute it with 'ungood'.) I'm sure there's more but I can't remember.
   Chapter 3 was practically Winston being tortured and the tactics that O'Brien used against him were so scary and powerful, it would have broken down the strongest man. Such as forcing Winston to see "five" fingers when he held up four. When he brought him to Room 101. When he starved Winston and showed him his image after an unidentified amount of days, one of the scariest moments of the entire book. That image could say so much about our society. I could go on, but I might as well requote that entire chapter but I'm not going to do that. I'm sure if you're reading this you have read the chapter already and understand what I'm trying to say.
   I really enjoyed the relationship Julia and Winston had. At first they thought they believed something but in the end, after going through torture and who knows what, they realize that they're feelings for each other doesn't live up to the image in their heads.
   And lastly, having O'Brien remain lacking a first name really made his character more enigmatic. It reminded me of Theodora from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, who had no last name and her character was also very mysterious though she was a flamboyant character. It made his facade as an average person really question who else Winston meets that he may think as an average Joe but is really a very powerful government official. 

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel