Bed of Roses (CBR4 #14)

Cannonballer’s note: Somehow I managed to screw up posting this review. I even linked to a non-existent post from the main cannonball site. Oops! Here it is, helplessly out of order.

There’s a problem with putting off these reviews too long, particularly when they are the romance novels of a certain author that you only allow yourself as the fluffy brain cleansers between heavy works of fiction. You forget the details. All of the details. And then how do you review something that is out of the memory loops and which you have already returned to the library? Particularly when you’ve also let yourself get sucked into the next two books in the series and haven’t written those reviews yet either.

You do your darndest, that’s what you do.

So the fact that I finished Nora Roberts’ Bed of Roses within hours of finishing Ready Player One and then put the review off until I could get my brain around how to review Cline’s work has proven dumb. (I just didn’t want to post two romance novel reviews back to back). There is nothing wrong with Bed of Roses other than its boring title which is probably shared with a dozen other books (and a movie, and a television show in Australia). This one picks up where Vision in White left off, but in fine Roberts’ format we’ve moved on to another friend in the quartet – one Miss Emmaline, or Emma to her friends.

Emma is the florist of the Vows bunch and is the one who has had the most ‘luck’ with men in the past. She has a constant stream of male admirers and when we catch up with her at the beginning of the book she is looking to have a quiet night on her own. She is also a teensy bit jealous of her friend Mac’s budding relationship with Carter and wants what they have.

Emma is a great protagonist. She is innately self-aware if somewhat over emotional and Roberts’ really seems at home with this character. I’m an Emma fan through all of the books. Her counterpart – Jack, architect and best friend of one Delaney Brown the brother of Emma’s partner Parker and Emma’s surrogate big brother – is a likeable character as well, but there are some faults in there so that they can have a big ol’ fight right around page 300.

In this one we get to meet Emma’s family, the group dynamic is expanded, and its just a bit of spring fun to be had by all. So go ahead, have a read. Or don’t. No skin off my nose  :)

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The Fault in Our Stars (CBR4 #15)

This book. This freakin’ book. I tweeted it as my Friday Read a couple weeks back and the lovely MsWas told me to get the tissues. While I didn’t out and out cry I did want to curl up with a blanket and hug something or someone when I got to the conclusion. But I was warned about that (h/t narfna).

This book has been reviewed a few times for cannonball, but it’s my first experience with John Green, and although this is YA, and to a certain extent reads that way, it was good times. Green kept me on my toes even when I was pretty sure I knew what was coming. It should be known that this book’s main characters are all cancer patients at various stages. You definitely need to know this before you sign on to read it, because as I said before – you might need tissues or a blanket to get through the end.

Our narrator through the journey is Hazel, she is sixteen and cancer has gone ahead and settled in her lungs. There is a miracle drug (just in the book) that has stopped the growth and for the time being she’s holding steady but required to bring her own oxygen wherever she goes. However, her mother has decided that she’s depressed and with her doctor’s direction, Hazel is forced to attend a support group. Hazel doesn’t want to go, stating that depression is merely a side effect of dying and not to be worried about. But, as it is in the world of fiction, it turns out to have been for the best that she attends.

At support group we meet Augustus and Isaac. Isaac is a known quantity to Hazel. Augustus on the other hand is something new altogether. I appreciate that Green wasn’t afraid to write the meet cute in a cancer support group. Life doesn’t stop just because you have cancer.  Hazel shares with Augustus her favorite book and they begin their relationship from there.

I won’t devolve into a plot summary. But the relationships these characters share read and ring true. You get it all with these characters: hope, love, sorrow, tragedy, triumph, humor. The whole deal. 

Green is careful to point out in his Author’s Note that this book is not about anyone, and is strictly speaking a work of fiction. I respect that. I will however point out The Fault in Our Stars was dedicated to Esther Earl, who’s picture reminds me of what I thought Hazel looks like. Her family has set up a foundation in her honor to support cancer families, This Star Won’t Go Out and is worth a visit, particularly if you have some dollars you can afford to donate.

 

Book Bloggy Blogg

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first time I read Northanger Abbey, I was disappointed. I thought the romance was rather cobbled together, and Catherine Morland seemed the most dimwitted of all of Austen’s heroines.

It improved upon the second reading, though. I think my problem with my first read was that I was expecting it to focus too much on the romance. But upon reading it a second time, I realized that the strength of this book is its emphasis on friendship, especially in regard to avoiding bad ones.

Catherine Morland is seventeen, and visiting Bath for the first time. Society in Bath is exciting, and young, naïve Catherine is taking it all in with much excitement. She’s overjoyed when she’s befriended by Isabella Thorpe, one of the prettiest and most popular girls in Bath. At Isabella’s urging, she begins calling her…

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Ready Player One (CBR4 #13)

I just want to say, at the top of this review that I am eternally grateful for all the Cannonballers who have reviewed Ready Player One already this year. Without you, I may never have found my way to this book. And what a loss that would have been.

 

When I first started reading Ready Player One I was afraid I was only going to like it because of the hype. I am pleased to report that this was not the case. If you’ve read anything or heard anything about this story you’re aware that it is a love letter to growing up in the 1980s. It’s also a confession of a love of all things gaming. However this is not a book which aims to exclude. It is a book which aims to include the relatively uninitiated (while also being a homage for those who are in the know). My non-gamer heart feels gratitude for that. I am also thankful that the cover art is very vague which kept my brain from trying to figure out the puzzle ahead of time.

 

Cline’s protagonist’s world is our own, if our world follows a particular downward trajectory over the course of the next few years. Fossil fuels have been depleted, the economy has crashed, and celebrities are now the only people popular enough to get elected to political office. But, this matters little as most people spend the majority of their lifetimes hooked up to the most massively multiplayer game ever created – the OASIS. Every aspect of your life can be accomplished in the OASIS, it’s a complete virtual reality universe. There are planets and sectors for all of the most popular sci-fi and fantasy worlds out there, as well as a planet just for schools, and a commerce district, and anything else you care to program.

 

We meet Wade, or Parzival as he is known in the OASIS after the death of the creator of OASIS, James Halliday.  Halliday has left the ultimate Easter Egg hunt in lieu of a Will. The first few chapters of the book function as an enormous info-dump which outlines that the person who wins the hunt also wins the inheritance of Halliday’s mega-fortune and control of the OASIS. Parzival is our portal into this world. He explains the culture of the time both inside and outside the OASIS as well as the culture that has erupted in the hunt for the Egg, in which he is most immersed as a gunter (an egg hunter). We follow Wade/Parzival and others through the hunt for the Egg, their fight against the Sixers – an organization hell bent on winning the prize and in turn corrupting the OASIS, and Parzival’s journey into relationships with other people.

 

There were times when I wasn’t completely sure this was the book for me. But, miraculously, Cline is able in his first novel to bring such a clear and original voice to life that you immediately consider yourself a friend of the friendless Wade. This is a truly engaging story in every sense of the word and once things get going, an incredibly quick read. I found myself slowing down on purpose while reading the last forty pages knowing that once I got there, I could never un- get there.

 

So read this book, particularly if you love both Ladyhawke and Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. I promise you don’t need to understand gaming to truly love this book.

(p.s. the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton if you’re into that sort of thing)