Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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In he year 2044 the earth as we have known it is no more.  Now a world of mostly poverty and destruction, people find it is better to spend their time inside a virtual world called the Oasis, created by a genius named James Halliday who has a mad fondness of all thing’s 80’s (ie… arcade games, music, movies, restaurants…)  The Oasis is a large virtual world that encompasses many worlds within and to access beyond the first world, real money is used.  In the Oasis, you can create an Avatar (an icon or figure representing a particular person in computer games, Internet forums, etc.), to represent you.  An Avatar can assume any type of body and look as well as an alias name.

Wade Watts is a teenage student who spends as much time as possible in the Oasis.  Here he is more than the overweight slightly acne faced teen… in the Oasis he is Parzival, a taller, leaner, handsomer version of himself.  As Wade lives in a very impoverish state, he spends most of his time on the free parts of the Oasis.

When it is announced that the mega billionaire Halliday has passed away and left an elaborate game plan in his will with hints and clues to the ultimate prize – all of his billions of riches and the ownership of the Oasis; the world goes wild.  Thousands upon thousands of people are trying to figure out the clues that will lead them to the keys that open up more clues….

and five years go by with no one any closer to the treasure than when it was announced. 

Many of the treasure hunters – “gunters” as they are called, have fallen away believing that perhaps this was just the last craziness of a sick old man and nothing more.  And then….

Wade figures out the first clue. 

Suddenly the news is filled with the mysterious Avatar “Parzival”.  Wade’s true identity becomes even more important to keep secret as the hunt inside the Oasis is back up in full force.  Not all of those involved are part of the friendly competition. A large corporation called IOI wants the Oasis and all the treasures for themselves and they will stop at nothing to get what they want.  Now Wade, and a handful of fellow Avatars that he would like to call friends, are playing for their lives.

Ready Player One?

Yes that is a long synopsis.  Yet as I thought about this, this is how I would describe the book to a friend.  There is nothing here that gives anything away… not by a long shot. This book is so full of fun twists and turns and awesome (AWESOME!) 80’s references you will not want to stop once you are started. 

You do not need to be a gamer to love this book.  While I do love games and am an 80’s girl… I was not big into the arcade scene.  Let me say that you do need to be to appreciate the book and the dystopian feel to it. 

Did I mention that I love this book?

Long time readers of Book Journey may be scratching their head thinking they have heard me RAVE about this book before.  You would be right. In December of 2011 I listened to this book on audio and reviewed it then as well. To this day, it is still one of the best audio books I have ever listened to.  Narrator Wil Wheaton could read the back of a cereal box to me and I would be all like “Go Wil, read about the red dye #5 again!”  Yes, he is that great.  In fact – earlier today I was looking for other books narrated by him just so I could listen to him again.  I would like him to be the voice on my Garmin, the sound of my alarm…. you get the picture. 😉

Two years later, I still love this book.  I chose to listen to it again recently when I went the 3 1/3 hours to our cabin in a car alone.  I love being alone in a car for road trips so I can listen to audio.  It was just as incredible as the first time.

Seriously – I am not the only one raving about this book.  If you have read this, please rave with me. If you have not… please grab this one on audio and treat yourself to something AMAZING!

Rumors have it that the movie rights to Ready Player One have been sold. 

(And now I am going to go and read my original review which I have not allowed myself to do until I wrote this one 😉 )

*Update:  Upon reading my original review I found that I had made two predictions in that review… both have come true. 😀

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Ready Player One is set in Oklahoma

Morning Meanderings… Reading Thoughts and Author Search Continues

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Good morning!  Happy Friday!  If I could… I would roll in this day.  On the carpet….  like a dog. 😀  I have had a whirlwind week of being gone last weekend and coming home on Sunday for ten minutes before I dropped off the dog, picked up a book and headed another direction for a work retreat that brought me to Tuesday afternoon where I went home, showered, and left with my friend Amy to an author event in the cities.

*whew*

Wednesday I was tired, and Thursday I started to recover but yes… today – being a non work day… oh yeah 😀  I have a couple fun commitments this afternoon but for the most part…. January 31st is mine.

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Coming our of January I am fairly pleased with how my reading month went to kick off 2014.  I read:

Then Again by Diane Keaton (audio)

The Broken Path by Cami Checketts (audio)

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Flowers In The Attic by V C Andrews

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audio)

I have a few reviews to write yet,but over all I am pleased with the month considering I have hardly read a thing this past week.  You can see my WHERE are you reading page here, and my map (Which I love!!!) here.

How is your reading this first month into the year?

I am also still looking for the authors for Wine and Words this year.  I am securing two Minnesota authors but would also like two from outside Minnesota. If you have any suggestions of who would make a great speaker for this August 22nd event that will have 200 people in attendance to hear them and purchase books, please email me at journey through books @gmail.com.  

The Roses Underneath by C. F. Yetmen

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In 1945 a war-torn Germany struggles to get a foot hold on some sort of stability.  Anna Klein and her six-year-old daughter Amalia are among those struggling as well.  Separated from her husband for their own safety, Anna finds herself working for the US Army’s Monuments Men as they search for art and other stolen treasures.  When it is discovered that Anna speaks English, she is recruited as a translator for American Captain Henry Cooper, a laid back man who likes opportunities to bend the rules.  When a mysterious stash of art is found, secrets are created causing Anna to question where the truth really does lie and look closely at the secrets she herself keeps….

 

 

The Roses Underneath is one of those books that you want to read slowly and cherish as one would a favorite candy.  Savoring each word as it dissolves into the next.  Reading this book caused me to slow down and really take it all in, which is not always the case in my reading style.  I often find myself reading fast paced books that flow with activity and crackle with adrenaline.  I was pleased when I started this read and found that this was a book that I needed to take my time with.

I am careful when I choose to read a book that involves war.  I tend to become so engrossed in the heaviness of the subject that I usually choose to pass on these books.  Yet there was something that called to me about The Roses Underneath that caused me to take a chance on it and I am glad I did.  Anna was a protagonist that I found myself hoping for things to turn out well. 

I enjoyed this book, even if it did make me slow down and well… smell the roses. 🙂

Morning Meanderings… What Would Patrick Ness Do?

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Whirlwind week already and I am finally getting a chance to chat with you!  Weekend away, start of the week out of town for work, and then…. what I want to tell you about today… the Patrick Ness event in ST Paul Minnesota at Magers and Quinns book store.

To bring you up to speed, Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking Series, the first book being The Knife Of Never Letting Go, which I read in fall of 2011 and flew through the following two books in the series. 

SOOOO GOOD!

When I read that Ness was coming to Minnesota I could not believe it.  Currently living in London, his only Minnesota stop on his tour for his new book, The Crane’s Wife ,  was the day after the books release date, this past Tuesday.  Honestly – I really did not even know what the book was about.  This for me… was all about Ness.

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My friend Amy (crazy adventure friend and book club cohort) joined me, having also read and loved the Chaos Walking series.  We arrived early as we expected there would be quite the crowd, purchased our Crane’s Wife books at the book store and asked the nice book store guy if we would hold two spots once they set the chairs up, for the Brainerd girls who drove two hours to the event.  He said he would… and we went down the block to my favorite Thai restaurant.

When we came back, sure enough, two seats were saved for us right up front.  RIGHT UP FRONT.  Like, Patrick could have spit on us close.  😀

When he came out to talk he was funny, although admitting he wasn’t feeling well and therefore was requesting that someone out of the audience come up and read him the questions for his time with us…. and so…

Amy did. 😛

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The first question on the page was, “So Patrick, tell us a little about yourself?”

He was fun and interesting.  He talked about his books, and then her read a bit out of The Crane Wife, explaining that it stemmed from a story his teacher used to tell to the class when he was 5.  He said he loved that teacher.  He wanted her to be his mom and his wife…. at 5 years old, he felt they could work out the age difference somehow.

When Patrick read from the Crane Wife, although he denied it, his voice was perfect for narration.  I fell in love with the story – through him… and suddenly couldn’t wait to read it. He has a personal story within the book that he shared with us…a childhood happening that he tied into the read.  Again… I wanted to read the book more that ever. 

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Patrick talked about his YA books, which included the Chaos Walking series *sigh* and a book he released last fall, More Than This.  He says each book he writes has a theme song that he listens to over and over again during the writing process.  I found that fascinating. 

I wish I would have taken notes, but early on in his talk I was uploading that first picture of Amy to Facebook and he called me out of the crowd …ok, not the crowd as I was sitting about 18 inches away from him and asked if I was playing Candy Crush.  Oops!  Embarrassing!  I put my phone away which is what I take notes on too… 😀

Patrick had some advice for want to be writers:

  • If you think you have a good idea, wait.  If it is good… things will be added on to it to make it grow in your mind.
  • Write something you want to read.  Do not write for the masses thinking you will create the next vampire story, or dystopian war story because that is what is popular… you have to LOVE it.   You will never make it through the writing if you do not love the story yourself.
  • Be original.  No one knew that they wanted a Harry Potter, until we had him.  No one knew we wanted Twilight or a Hunger Games. 

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If you ever have the opportunity to see Patrick Ness in person, please do.  If I could have him come for Wine and Words this fall I would, but the man’s schedule is crazy busy.  Absolutely if you have the chance to pick up the Chaos Walking series – do it.  I love these books.  There is a little buzz saying they will be movies and oooohhhhhh I hope so. 😀

I found this one Amazon under his description of himself and loved it:

Things you didn’t know about Patrick Ness
1. I have a tattoo of a rhinoceros.
2. I have run two marathons.
3. I am a certified scuba diver.
4. I wrote a radio comedy about vampires.
5. I have never been to New York City but…
6. I have been to Sydney, Auckland and Tokyo.
7. I was accepted into film school but turned it down to study writing.
8. I was a goth as a teenager (well, as much of a goth as you could be in Tacoma, Washington and still have to go to church every Sunday).
9. I am no longer a goth.
10. Under no circumstances will I eat onions.

So in answer to my Patrick Ness question this morning, what would Patrick do?  he would write… he would run… he would keep it fun and keep it real. 

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The In Between Hours by Barbara Claypole White

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When bestselling author Will Shepard’s young son is killed in a tragic car accident, Will is left with a tremendous amount of grief that he can not seem to get out from under.  As Will’s aging father memory fades, Will uses his talent of writing to rewrite the truth.  Amazingly enough, the fictional version of Will’s life brings relief that he never expected. 

Hannah Linden rents a cottage next to where Will and his dad lives.  Hannah comes with her own cross to bear as she deals with her grown sons struggles.  As a holistic veterinarian  and healer, she uses her gifts to try to bring peace to Will and his dad’s lives, finding her own solace in putting her energies into someone else.

 

 

 

The In Between Hours is one of those books that just makes me feel warm inside.  I liked reading this book and perhaps, for a while, feeling like I too lived in the neighborhood and seen everything play our first hand as I watched Will, and his dad, and Hannah. 

I am especially impressed on what an additional layer to the book Will’s dad brought to the read.  While the book could have worked with the focus being on Will and Hannah, Will’s dad made me smile… he brings the icing on the cake, or in this case – the filling to an already engaging read. 

I enjoyed The In Between Hours and will think about this one for quite a while. 

TLC Book Tours

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to spend time with a group of amazingly three dimensional characters!

 

 

 

I am at the end of the tour on this one – but please feel free to stop in and see what others though of this book:

Tuesday, December 31st: bookchickdi
Thursday, January 2nd: Bibliotica
Monday, January 6th: cupcake’s book cupboard
Tuesday, January 7th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, January 8th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, January 9th: Chronicles …
Tuesday, January 14th: Becca Rowan
Wednesday, January 15th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, January 17th: Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, January 17th: Not in Jersey
Monday, January 20th: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, January 21st: Sweet Tea and Lollipops
Wednesday, January 22nd: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Friday, January 24th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, January 27th: As I turn the pages
Tuesday, January 28th: Book Journey
Wednesday, January 29th: Found Between the Covers
Thursday, January 30th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

 

 

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Hey there!  Welcome to It’s Monday, What Are You Reading!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. Fair warning… this meme tends to add to your reading list!

I am late I know … I know.  I was gone this weekend at our cabin and came straight form Finland Minnesota to a work retreat in Crosslake Minnesota.  A 5 hour road trip and a long snowy drive…  there is a lot more to this day (including a locksmith) but I will save that for later this week.

Anyhoo… this past week was not a big reading week.  With a game night, an author event, and planning to leave for the weekend.. her is what I did manage to post this past week:

The Wrong Girl by Hank Philippi Ryan

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Author event with Wendy Webb

Captain Phillips Movie Review

 

I don’t have a really big plan for this week.  I will be at this retreat until Tuesday afternoon and then possibly going to an author event Tuesday night.  Life will slow down after that, the rest of the week being mellow. I am too tired to come up with a real reading plan here…I can say I have this going on:

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It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 
 
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Ok… this is a gratuitous listen… I listened to this audio a couple of years ago and it still ranks as one of my favorite all time audio books.  If you have not read or listened to this book and you are a product of the 80’s… YOU MUST listen to this audio.

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They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is.

Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero.

Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy.

So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge…and the battle for humanity will begin.

Minnesota author I have been hearing good things about. 😉

I am sure more will hit the radar as the week goes on.. 😀

SO what are you reading this last week of January?  Please add your It’s MOnday link below where it says “click here”

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For those of you that read mainly middle grade and children’s books, be sure to also link to the younger version of It’s Monday by using the link below!

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Morning Meanderings.. Adventure Weekend!!!

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Good morning.

SSQQQUUUEEEEE!!!!!!

Just had to get that out of my system.  😉

I am taking something off the bucket list this weekend.  😀

Ok…

SSSQQQUUUEEEEE again.

I am leaving this morning for the cabin up North and later today my friends Farrah, Belinda and Sheila will join me.  It is Sheila’s birthday this weekend and we are celebrating!  😀 

On Saturday morning we will go into Duluth and meet up with Sheila’s sister where we will go DOG SLEDDING!!!!!  *bucket list item…. check!*  Then lunch and then off to Spirit Mountain for snow tubing.  😀  After that we will head back to the cabin for board games. 

OOOHHHHH!  My kind of fun!!!! 😀

I think today I will be hours ahead of everyone so I will have some reading time a bit and prepping the house for the company. 😀 

I am back early Sunday to switch gears as then I have a work retreat from Sunday evening to Tuesday noon…. I will be in touch as I can. 😀

 

Captain Phillips – Movie Review

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In 2009, Captain Richard Phillips, while taking his crew into international waters is hijacked by a small group of Somali Pirates who board the massive ship.  This is the first American ship to be hijacked in over 200 years.

 

Holy smokes.  I went into watching this movie having no knowledge of the ship or of Captain Phillips.  Sometimes I amaze myself how little I know.  😯

The movie is powerful.  It is fast moving and anxiety creating.  I was on the edge of the couch while watching as the Somali pirates led by their leader, Muse, took over this massive ship.  I could not even believe that these 4 pirates in a small motor boat were able to overtake such a massive ship – but they did.  I was amazed that the crew was unarmed. And it is a true story.

If you are looking to watch something AMAZING this weekend I highly recommend renting Captain Phillips.  I will most definitely be watching this one again.  There is also a book (YAY!) called Captain’s Duty.

 

Morning Meanderings… Author Event With Wendy Webb!

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Good morning! Happy Wednesday Thursday!  This post was supposed to go up yesterday morning but I just could not get it done and get to work on time so you know… I need my job, so yeah.

Tuesday night was a late one but a fun one!  Myself and two of the girls from my book club, Brenda and Kathy, drove to the Cities to see Wendy Webb chat up her just released book, The Vanishing. 

We initially had met Wendy when she was one of the authors for Wine and Words.  Wendy at that time had two books out, The Tale Of Halcyon Crane and The Fate Of Mercy Alban.

She was fun to listen to last night.  She read a bit out of her new book and answered some fun questions about writing. 

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My book…. SSQQUUEEE!

Some of what I took away was:

When writing, it is important to describe the action, like a director.  DO not say she was angry, instead say she stomped across the room….

Read like you just walked into the story

She described The Vanishing like a complex puzzle.  Wendy mentioned one of the books that she had read that really stuck with her was the Lace Reader.  She said that book, reading that to her was like reading about a complex puzzle.  At the end she knew she wanted to write like that.

Wendy considers her writing to be “Northern Gothic” – a term I found to be fun!  She had an article in yesterdays USA Today.

I left the book store not only purchasing her book…. but Brenda and I both bought The Lace Reader as well.

Our travel was… interesting.  Everyone kept saying they could not believe we had braved the weather from Brainerd to the cities.  I kept thinking.. what weather?  The roads were good… there was a light snow…. but on the way home I got it.  We ran into some serious snow and wind for a while.  Still… worth it. 😀

Today I need to get it in gear.  I have work and Navy Son (now Back In Brainerd Son) 😉 over for dinner and tomorrow morning I leave for the cabin.  It will be the first time to the cabin this year and should be a good time. 😀

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

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32 year old Holly Brennan was never what you would call a small girl.  When her husband at a young age suddenly became ill, Holly comforted herself with food.  When he passed away, the food addiction did not go away.

Then Holly meets Logan Montgomery on a plane.  Logan is fit, self-assured, confident, and good-looking.  Everything Holly feels she is not.  When Logan shares with Holly that he is a personal trainer and would like to work with her at a discounted rate to get her moving in the right direction, Holly figures why not, after all… she is not moving in any direction currently.

Turns out, Holly has some natural-born skills when it comes to working out.  She is hard-working, determined, has great strength and is flexible.  Before long Holly is shaping up and more than one guy is noticing, including Logan.  But is it really in the cards for Holly and Logan to be together?

Big Girl Panties for me, was a fun read with a great protagonist.  I really enjoyed Holly, who is funny, quick-witted, and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to her weight issues.  She was an easy girl to cheer on as she reaches her goals.  I even enjoyed Logan who is not perfect by far, and has a few strange habits but deep inside, despite this, I liked him.

Big Girl Panties was one of those books that I picked up planning to read a few pages and then just kept reading to the point I carried it around the house with me while I made dinner, let the dogs out, and propped it up on the bathroom sink while I styled my hair.  It was quick and it was fun.

One word of advice, Big Girl Panties is a book that can easily be taken offense too.  It deals with weight issues and eating disorders and not always kindly.  There is talk of using liposuction to improve Holly’s body.  There is also some odd interactions regarding sexual activities that mainly comes from the direction of Logan’s friend Chase, but in some cases, Logan too.

Over all, I liked the book.  It’s not perfect, but I would probably be bored if it was.  I do not have to like all the characters in a book – and in this book I didn’t.  Holly is what keeps this book moving forward.  She was someone I wanted to root for, I wanted things to go well for her and you will too. 🙂

TLC Book Tours

Thank you to TLC book tours. It was a pleasure meeting Holly!