Oct 16, 2017

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Published September 2017

Summary: 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.

I won a copy of Warcross in a giveaway, and I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. I figured that I'd give the book a try since I had a copy, but I was not a huge sci-fi fan and I've never read anything by Marie Lu before, so I went into this entire ordeal totally blind. Amber has read and enjoyed some of Marie Lu's books before, but other than that, I really had no idea what to expect.

However, I was delightfully surprised. As someone who isn't a huge sci-fi fan, this book had me hooked from start to finish. It's also such a great feeling to be giving two books in a row five-star ratings, which is something that hasn't happened to me in the longest time. From the second I opened this book, I was immediately immersed in Emika's story. This book had just the right moments of sadness, action, badassery (yes, I recognize that as an official literary term), and even heart-fluttering gasps. Emika's story and the futuristic world that she lives in is so complex and gripping that any reader will find themselves wrapped up in its awe.

As the summary explains, Emika is a teenage bounty hunter in New York City. Warcross is a popular virtual reality game of sorts for the generation, and Emika one day finds herself accidentally hacking into one of the largest Warcross championship screenings in the world. She figures that she's going to get arrested (since that is a crime), but instead, doors open for her that she couldn't dream of even in her wildest imagination. Hideo Tanaka, the business mogul who coined the game and was officially one of the richest (and most eligible) young men in the world, immediately takes an interest to Emika. He even winds up hiring her for a secret job to help discover someone who was threatening the future of Warcross...but what Emika steps into is a mess that she never could have imagined.

What I liked best about this book was Emika's personality. She was tough and brave and stood up when she needed to, and she was incredibly intelligent. I mean, she manages to attract the attention of one of the most famous men in the world because of her excellent hacking skills, and then finds herself with the bounty hunter job of a lifetime. How cool is that? (Minor spoilers coming, so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book yet!) I also really loved the blooming relationship between her and Hideo. Especially those scenes where they got super close -- I remember openly squealing in public while I was reading them and blushing from head to toe because it was just so damn cute. But I also really liked how their relationship wasn't the primary focus or goal of the book -- it was Emika completing her mission and being a total badass in the process. I also really liked the futuristic world of Warcross itself -- it's such a unique idea that basically turns The Hunger Games up to 1000000 and makes things even more badass. There is seriously so much badassery in this book -- I can't handle it. This book made me want to go out and start hoverboarding through New York City and catching bounty hunters and being fierce and brave and cool. I wish.

I really can't think of anything I didn't enjoy about this book, which is shocking to me since I'm normally really confused by sci-fi and therefore always have at least one thing to point out. This book had me hooked from start to finish, and it was riddled with plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting. There were several plot twists (especially towards the end) that I weren't expecting, and I found myself delightfully shocked and surprised. I'm satisfied with how the book left off, but I'm also itching to get my hands on the next copy to see where Emika goes with everything and how everything pans out. 

Overall, I absolutely loved Warcross. I've already added the unreleased second book to my TBR on Goodreads and I'll be eagerly anticipating it. This book had me hooked from start to finish and I tore through it much faster than I've read any book in awhile, and I'm incredibly grateful and thankful towards Marie Lu for giving me the reading bug again -- something which is pretty hard to come by when you're in college and drowning in midterms! I literally carried this book with me everywhere I went and read it on the walks to and from class (without tripping on too many things, thank goodness). If you think Warcross isn't your cup of tea and you find yourself shying away from it, I encourage you to pick up the book and give it a shot anyway. It got me hooked in ways that science fiction books haven't since I first read the Zodiac series by Romina Russell. I really, really loved Warcross and I will officially be pushing it on everybody I know -- which includes you! So what are you waiting for?

Oct 15, 2017

Preparing For NaNoWriMo 2017!

Image result for national novel writing month

Hi everybody! National Novel Writing Month is officially only a few weeks away, which means that writers all over the world are gearing up for an entire month of noveling mayhem. This year, once again, that includes me! This will be my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and I'm super excited for the chance to flex my writing muscles again. I'm hoping to utilize NaNoWriMo to write (and complete!) a story idea that I've been toying with for awhile and I can't wait to bring it to life. I'm a little nervous about how everything will work out since I'm also going to be juggling college classes and extracurriculars again, but I'm confident that I can make it happen.

I know that we spend a lot of time on The Book Bratz talking about books and reviews, but this is just a heads up that throughout the month of November the occasional NaNoWriMo post or two may pop up, so be on the lookout for that. I'll be checking it from time to time to talk about my progress, what I'm expecting out of the rest of the month, prompts, write-ins, etc. I'm excited to see how it all goes this year, and I can't wait for the victorious confetti when I CRUSH it again!! (I mean, I'm really just hoping it'll happen. But there's nothing like pure, unadulterated confidence to help with writing motivation, right?)

So my novel is outlined, my typing fingers are ready, and I'm all set to get as much candy as possible on Halloween so I'll have plenty of fuel for late night midterm-studying and novel-writing sessions. I'm excited to get this year under my belt because I've been slacking with writing lately (thank you, overwhelming amount of college responsibilities) and I'm ready to get back on the metaphorical horse, so to speak!

So, are any of you guys participating in National Novel Writing Month? What are some of your plans and your goals? Are you looking for some writing buddies? Comment down below and share all of your NaNo-related (or not!) thoughts! I can't wait to read them. :-)

Oct 13, 2017

Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Title: Maybe Someday
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Paperback, 385 Pages
Published March 2014

Summary: Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she's a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts. The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope…

Emily and I are huge Colleen Hoover fans, so I was more than eager to get my hands on this book. It's a little large (about 370 pages), which normally isn't a big deal, but as a college student with such a small amount of free time, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to actually sit down and enjoy this book without having to take a million pauses to get everything done that I had to.

However, I was wrong to worry about it at all, because I tore through this book so quickly that my eyes couldn't scan the pages fast enough. Maybe Someday had me hooked from start to finish, and every passing chapter was filled with so much love and drama and emotion (and even some heartbreak) that made me want to keep reading. There were also plenty of moments where some of the characters would throw in quips that kept me laughing -- so this book truly has everything!

As the summary explains, Sydney finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, and her life seems to be going downhill from there. She finds herself single, homeless, fired from her job, and on top of everything, incredibly hurt and heartbroken and furious. She ends up moving in with her neighbor Ridge, who is a musician and ends up enlisting her help with writing lyrics for some songs. Before long, things between Sydney and Ridge start to change, and some incredibly important and shocking secrets are unearthed...and messiness undoubtedly follows.

What I really loved about this book was the dynamic between Sydney and Ridge. There were some parts of this book that literally had me swooning and sighing out loud -- the people on the train with me weren't as enthusiastic as I was. There were some pretty classic CoHo scenes with lots of heavy, heart-racing stuff and also some sweet, adorable moments that brought tears to my eyes. This book just has so many layers and different relationship dynamics, and you learn so much more with every page that you turn. Out of all of Colleen's books that I have read, it's safe to say that this one is undoubtedly my favorite.

There are some pretty big spoilers in this paragraph, so please skip to the next one if you haven't read the book yet! I was completely shocked when I found out that Ridge was deaf. He said it so point-blank that I actually gasped and went back and reread, because it was a total plot twist that I wasn't expecting. I actually really like how Colleen didn't mention it right away when Sydney first met Ridge, but ended up letting the reader know after they may have already formed some opinions about Ridge's character in their minds. I almost dropped my book with surprise at first. And as the book continued, I really enjoyed seeing how Ridge was able to be a musician while lacking arguably one of the most prominent senses when it comes to music itself. The ways he made it work, and the way he made everything with Sydney and the rest of his friends work was also incredible to see. Ridge's lack of hearing made him aware of so many other things that able-bodied people may miss -- including the sound of his own heartbeat. This book just really opened my eyes towards what it would be like to live as Ridge does and I also got to explore the dynamics of the relationships with everyone around him. I'm really glad I got that chance, and I'm incredibly grateful that Colleen gave me the chance to witness it.

This was the first five-star rating I've given in quite some time, and I fully believe that this book deserves it. Maybe Someday had me hooked from start to finish, tearing through the pages and being met with sadness when I finished. However, I can happily shelve this book filled with satisfaction after the emotional rollercoaster it took me on. Easily now becoming one of my favorite books, Maybe Someday is filled with heartbreak, emotion, drama, love, laughter, overcoming boundaries, taking leaps, and everything in between.

Hats off to Colleen Hoover. If this book isn't on your to-read list, I recommend that you head over right now and fix that right away. You won't be sorry!