Once Upon a Bookshelf – “Warcross”

Warcross (Warcross, #1)Warcross by Marie Lu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of “The Hunger Games” and “Ready Player One,” this book is a dream come true for you. It has espionage, gaming, technology, love, relationships, teamwork, and a little bit of backstabbing.

WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet after her father died, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. 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 – something she didn’t even realize she could do.

The next day, Emika is shocked when 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. After getting drafted to play in the game for the Phoenix Riders as an architect and finds out she’s actually pretty good at it. Her relationships with her teammates are torn when they find out about her relationship with Hideo (they know the romantic side, not the business side) and her mission is almost a disaster.

What she comes to find out about the creator and her love interest breaks her apart. Does she have the strength to follow through?

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Once Upon a Bookshelf – See You in the Cosmos

See You in the CosmosSee You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. His current project involves documenting his life on Earth so he can launch his voice recordings into space with the hopes that an alien life form will find it. With his story starting in Colorado and moving to New Mexico, trekking to Los Angeles and finally ending up back home, he meets new friends and learns new things about the world and himself.

WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

What I love about this book is that it is so much more than an adventure story. Sure, Alex travels by himself and builds a super cool rocket with hopes of it making it to space – that’s quite an adventure by itself. But it also showed that an adventure can lead you to so much more. While he doesn’t know it at first, his trip leads him to uncover the truth about his dad that he thought was dead and meeting his half-sister. It started out as an attempt to share his story with people outside of this world and ended with him learning even more about his own story.

All along, I was worried about Alex. With how his mother is described, I knew that she was battling some type of depression and whether or not Alex actually knew that was heartbreaking. With a kids with as much spunk as Alex and such big dreams, it makes it impossible not to root for him and hope that everything turns out. I was so emotionally involved in this story that I couldn’t even think about what would have happened if things didn’t work out like I wanted them to (you know, when you know what needs to happen better than the author does).

Something that drew me to this book was the title, though. As a amateur astronomer myself, there was no way that I could pass this book up. Seeing a kid that is only 11 and with such a deep interest in something so vast and unknown as the universe made me believe that there is hope for the future. If Alex can be so focused on his life on Earth and learning about people outside of it, the world has nowhere to go but up.

I rated this book 5/5

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Once Was a Time – A book review

The librarian at my school is always on point when it comes to suggesting books for me. This week, she recommended “Once Was a Time” by Leila Sales.

I cannot tell you how happy this book made me.

Starting off in England in 1940 in the midst of WWII, Lottie and her friend Kitty are inseparable. They spend holidays together, go to school together, and listen to Lottie’s  dad tell his theories on time travel.

One night, the girls are captured and taken away to an unfamiliar place and used as bait to get Lottie’s dad to tell them the secrets of time travel. Just as one of the guards is about to pull the trigger, Lottie sees a portal open and takes her chance to run through it.

She finds herself in America in 2013, still 10 years old and way behind the times. After befriending a librarian (and living in the library for 3 days without anyone noticing), Lottie (now known as Charlotte) is put in a loving foster home while she learns about the time she missed and catches up on the present. No matter what, her mind is always on Kitty and how awful she feels that she abandoned her.

3 years go by and Charlotte is still haunted by visions of her friend. After giving up on her group of “friends” (I use that term loosely), she retreats to the library and finds a note in her favorite book.

From her best friend Kitty.

Now Charlotte is on a mission to find her best friend.

Can she do it?

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Book Review: Where Am I Now?

You all know who Mara Wilson is, even if you don’t realize it. She is best know for her roles at Natty in “Mrs. Doubtfire” and Matilda in the movie based off of the book of the same name. Based on the information I’ve gathered by following her on Twitter for a while is that everyone had a crush on her at one time.

I waited all summer to read this book and I’m proud to say I was the first person to get the book from the local library.

In her memoir that just came out, she gives us a glimpse into the life of a child actor. It includes learning about new things at a young age (sex, I’m just going to say it, sex), dealing with losing a parent, and finding out that Hollywood may no longer want you.

My favorite chapter was when she writes a letter to the character Matilda and apologizes for hating her at one point. She didn’t realize that the character meant so much to so many people and she isn’t ashamed to be recognized as the little book worm anymore.

What I love about this book is that is dives deep into issues that most people don’t want to talk about. She was diagnosed with OCD at a young age after she read the book “Kissing Doorknobs” and brought it to her father’s attention. Likewise, I realized I had OCD and Asperger’s Syndrome after watching the TV show Parenthood. That’s why it’s important for people to speak up about their mental illnesses. It lets people know they aren’t alone and may make them realize that they need help.

Mara has come to terms with her time in Hollywood, but she’s staying busy by writing and being an active member in the community.

 

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here: A book review

Patrick Ness is one of those authors that slowly builds up the story to the point where you get emotional because it’s all over the place. I felt that way when I read “A Monster Calls” and this week I read “The Rest of Us Just Live Here.”

This is the kind of book I’ve been waiting for. What goes on in the rest of the town while the heroes are taking care of business?

The story, taking place in Washington State, is the story of a boy, Michael, who has a crush on his best friend, Henna. Throughout the story, strange things happen, like the indie kids dying, zombie dears, car crashes, and blue lights and eyes all over the place. Michael and his friends have no idea what is going on, but they aren’t the heroes in the story.

They just live there.

This book is all about what’s happening behind the scenes in most adventure tales. While the indie kids are fighting the immortals, Michael is trying to speak to the girl he likes. While the indie kids are dying, Michael is studying for finals.

The setup of the book is perfect. The intro blurb at the beginning of each chapter tells you what the hero kids are doing. Like, “Satchel finds Finn laying on the street. She’s afraid to approach him because he might be possessed, but then Dylan comes along and makes her feel more comfortable.” That’s not an actual quote from the book, but it will give you an idea. The summary is of what the chapter should be about, but it’s not.

Patrick Ness is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and next on my list of his is “The Knife of Never Letting Go.” I hear it’s suspenseful and fantastic. I was also warned not to look ahead while I read.

I can’t wait!

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