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Book Review: Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Book Review: Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Genre:

Teen/ YA LitRPG

Synopsis:

From James Dashner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes the first book in the bestselling Mortality Doctrine series, an edge-of-your-seat cyber-adventure trilogy that includes The Rule of Thoughts and The Game of Lives

Includes a sneak peek of The Fever Code, the highly anticipated conclusion to the Maze Runner series—the novel that finally reveals how the Maze was built!

The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun it is. Why bother following the rules when it’s so easy to break them? But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results.
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid, to the back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen—and it’s possible that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Praise for the Mortality Doctrine Series:

“Dashner takes full advantage of the Matrix-esque potential for asking ‘what is real.’” —io9.com

“Set in a world taken over by virtual reality gaming, the series perfectly capture[s] Dashner’s hallmarks for inventiveness, teen dialogue and an ability to add twists and turns like no other author.” —MTV.com

“A brilliant, visceral, gamified mash-up of The Matrix and Inception, guaranteed to thrill even the non-gaming crowd.” —Christian Science Monitor

Heidi’s Hot Take:

I struggled to get into this story as the parallels to Ready Player One were so painfully obvious. From the hanging out in virtual worlds to the trio team of one girl and two boys, the big win goal that will “change” the MCs life , and the secret underlying plot that throws a wrenching the MCs goals. It was almost enough to make me put the book down.

But Dashner tells a tight story and is excellent at driving you forward even when you are pretty confident you’ve already figured the story out. I did enjoy some of the elements of worldbuilding that is why I enjoy a lot of LitRPG, the fantastical game worlds within worlds, the over-the-top quirky characters that you can only get away with in spec fick, But at the end of the day, the creative twist I was counting on did not quite play out the way I’d hoped and was left hanging that it *might* in later books, but probably not. I am honestly so divested from the trio dynamic that I don’t really care to find out.

This kind of content that follows such predictable story beats is a large part of why I generally don’t enjoy reading mainstream and trad published books.  While I think some formula is required to a certain extent, the more formulaic it is the less excitement I feel reading. That is why I was so excited when more and more authors began mixing genres because it gave a wider room for blending formulas and less predictability to the story.

If you like that (and a lot of people do, no judgment from me!) then be sure to check out Eye of Minds on Amazon and see if it’s for you.

But if you like LitRPG which isn’t so formulaic and lets you get lost in the story and the world-building, then I have some great review recommendations for you!

Check these out:

Conquest by RM Mulder

Realms Unreel by Audry Auden

Of for a cool Book about building those types of worlds, don’t miss The Man of Cloud 9 by Adam Dreece.

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

 

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Book Review- Francesco Augustine Bernadone A Brief History of Our Tomorrows by Stan Faryna

Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History of Our Tomorrows

Hello Lovelies,

I am delighted to share an unexpectedly enjoyable little book with you today. I received the paperback copy of Francesco Augustine Bernadone A Brief History of Our Tomorrows from the author to do a book unboxing on Youtube and for review. This in no way impacted my view of the book.

Check out my unboxing and first thoughts video.

Genre:

LitRPG Sci-fi

Synopsis: 

#GameLit #LitRPG #Science Fiction

Can you imagine the future? How about the second half of the 2020s? Maybe what you imagine is not how Stan Faryna sees it. The Dollar and Euro have collapsed. The price of one avocado is like what you pay now to go to the movies. Hundreds of millions of gamers hustle in an epic online game competing against artificial intelligence and each other for prizes worth big money. Most of those gamers will be lucky enough to pay for their daily ration of beans and rice. Entrepreneurial players will pay their rent.

Can Francesco find windfall in a dark, dystopian and post-apocalyptic virtual reality game? Zombies, guns, machetes and permadeath in a game might seem inconsequential to us, but the cost of failure will destroy him. Left untreated, his much beloved wife will succumb to cancer. There is more than a fast and exciting story going on here. Faryna nails three birds with one stone. His long-reflected insights will help some of us to live, love and grow with courage.

Beyond the realism of this tragic, near future world stage for Francesco’s story, Faryna offers sharp insights into the human condition, the power of love, and hope. He does so with a nuanced irony and sensitivity that feels too true to ignore – if also difficult to accept. The author asks us to come to a higher place of self-understanding and action, but he does not throw down a gauntlet of big words and intimidating intellectual challenges.

###Recommended reading for trips to the beach or park, coffee shop stalking, lunch hours, lazy afternoons, white nights, and public transit such as planes, trains, buses and ferry. It also makes an excellent gift for those who do those things.This story may be most appreciated by those who enjoy works by the following authors: Ernest Cline, John Wesley Rawles, Paulo Coehlo, Gabriel García Márquez, Frank Herbert, Le Guin, P.K. Dick, Derek Prince, G.K. Chesterton, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Gabriel Honoré Marcel, Robert Hugh Benson, Kierkegaard, Steinbeck, Solovyov, Zora Neale Hurston, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dante, Aquinas, Augustine, and Homer.

My Take:

So this is only my second foray into LitRPG as a reading adventure. And it was definitely different from Conquest. However, there were quite a few similar themes that I think might change the view a lot of non-gamers might have of gamers. Both of these stories have a lot of similar themes. The duality of good and evil in everyday people, the power of love, and the concept of how some people may get lost in video games while others find a higher power. 
This definitely had a much heavier focus on the RPG game aspect than Conquest, but I like how the author clarifies terms the first time (Like RPG stands for Role-Playing Game, MMORPG is multimedia online role-playing game. I have heard these terms for years, living in a house of three gamers, but I never really knew what they stood for. He also defines non-game terms to like EMP. I never realized that stood for European Military Protectorate. Lol. So it was a very educational experience, neatly woven into the story so as not to feel too educational. 
I love Francesco, and his love for his wife. The depths he goes to to save her, and the willingness to risk everything, quite literally, to get her the treatment she needs, is such a beautiful representation of what love is all about. 
The author does a great job developing a believable game world based around a lot of the things that are popular in games now, and extrapolating some interesting advertising trends to a realistic expectation for near-future. I am not a gamer, but I have sat in on enough of my husband’s DayZ games to get a good chuckle over Carl and the FOH group that is run by John Dionysis. It reminded me of a group in DayZ run by The Real Morgan Freeman. They are a group of really great players who tend to punish bad players, and reward and help good players. I could totally picture them as part of this interaction. 
This is a short prequel-type story that is clearly driving to a much bigger story and I can’t wait to read it! If you want to give this little story a try, take a peek inside.

Well worth the read!


Until next time, 

Keep reading!

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Book Review- Conquest, a LitRPG by RM Mulder

Book Review- Conquest, a LitRPG by Aleric Elios

Hello Lovelies,

I received this books as part of my offer to the Sci-fan group on Facebook for reads and reviews. While the request was primarily for books for my boys to read and review over the summer, and you will see reviews for a lot of those this summer, there were a couple authors who asked if I would like to review their more mature works. I’m not one to say no to an offer for a free book for review. Just a brief reminder that whether I get the book free or pay for it, that in no way impacts my honest opinion of the book. Let’s get to the review!

Genre:

LitRPG/ Apocalyptic with religious undertones. 

Synopsis: 

A primeval darkness threatens to destroy mankind…The world’s largest gaming platform in the entire industry is led by a man with many secrets. The popular game DarkForce features the World of Zion which has been plagued by the destructive will of the Leviathan for centuries. What gamers don’t know is that the World of Zion actually exists, and the Leviathan has fed off of the souls of men and his fodder has become scarce. He now turns to Earth with an insatiable hunger. Only a woman from Earth who levels up to discover a divine inner power can challenge Earth’s Apocalyptic Fate.

My Take:

I’ve never read LitRPG before, although I kind of wonder if Realms Unreeled would qualify? But anyway, I saw some complaints from some “purists” of the genre who said that this wasn’t truly LitRPG. As I’m not really familiar with the subgenre, I won’t argue that point. What I will say is that I really enjoyed the story at the beginning. There was a strong science-fantasy edge, with a heavy religious theme. I was enticed by the concept of seraphim as told in the story, and the way each chapter began with chapters from “Methusala.” The book had me until about 68% of the way through. 
The complaint that another reviewer had that the gaming scenes felt forced and like they were slapped in to “make it LitRPG” didn’t feel true to me. I felt that those pieces flowed in the story and that they made sense. But suddenly there was too much happening at the 68% mark, and it happened fast with little time spent really delving into the why and how. 

The story starts out being all about Allan, his client Timur, his fiance Lilly, and how their relationships aren’t what they seem. Then we get thrown into another world where Timur is not what he seems on a WHOLE new level! Allan meets John and discovers that he is “the chosen One” type of trope. I was good following this storyline, following Lilly and Allan’s motivation, even following John’s motivation, and realizing that Timur’s motivation might be a bit skewed as he is clearly insane and unstable.

I followed the intro to Brittany and why she was a part of the story, but suddenly Brittany and her guy took a huge chunk of the story that seemed only tangentially related to the main storyline, but there was no clear understanding of why their quest in the video game suddenly had such importance (I suspect that will become more relevant in the next book, but talk about a HUGE cliff hanger!) and then there were some explanations that ended up being inconsistent (The four horseman tie in, leading to the number of seraphim pulling from famous historical figures, which then changed in a later chapter, for example.)We started out with Allan being the main protagonist, then that shifted to Lilly and both of their motivations took a drastic shift that while sort of making sense, were still frustrating because we didn’t see the growth on  Lilly’s part to lead to her change, and with Allan being the protagonist, I expected more of him. Then the story ended on a giant twist of Screw the Reader ever designed and I was left mad. 

I believe this is the first book by the author, and I think that part of the problem is that he was too ambitious. I love books that pull from lots of historical mythos. Rick Riordan’s series are some of my favorites! The way that Joshua Robertson weaves ancient Celtic myths into his works, Supernatural pulling monsters from all around the world. 
But each of those weaves all those elements into a series. We get a chance to be immersed in one element before another element is thrown at us. With Conquest we are barely getting used to the idea of the two worlds and seraphim before the game element is thrown at us. Before we can process that aspect, we get dragons, before we can fully process that element, we get the ascension aspect, and before we can truly right our view of this world, the Leviathon flips everything on its head. We are invested in Allan’s story, and then the focus shifts to Lilly, and before we can fully get invested in Lilly we’re twisted to Brittany’s story and then the last chapter is about James. Each of these characters ties into the others to some extent, but the transition of focus was a bit mind-bending for me, all in one relatively short book. Then there are some other aspects that I need to decide if it was the author’s cleverly toying with my expectations of the tropes, or if the transition really was as jarring as it felt to me in the moment. This will take some time to process and analyze. I might have to come back to that. 

I think the author has an incredible concept going. The world he has created and the multiple conflicts are fascinating, especially as a first-time author, but it gave me major whiplash bouncing from all those focuses. Mad props to the author, though. I have yet to brave writing true fantasy or science fiction because I fear I would not do so well with keeping all the plates spinning and balancing the focus. For him to add in these other story elements on top of such a tough genre? Wow. 

I enjoyed the story enough, and feel that the content is ok for my boys to read. I will probably read the next book in the series when it comes out. Hopefully, as the author fine-tunes his storytelling, the focus will tighten and develop. I am excited to see where this author goes! Want to learn more about Conquest? Take a peek inside.

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B06XPNQJVF&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_NRgLEbDGZMGP6&tag=anasli-20

Don’t forget, my Birthday Bash and Bookish Goodness is tonight on Facebook. Come on by! 

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Realms Unreel by Audrey Auden

Realms Unreel by Audrey Auden

Just a little bit of business, before we get to the review. Firstly, the Facebook party was so much fun! There were several great giveaways, and a few of them are going until the end of March. Go check out all the fun! I also had a great interview with Ama over on her site, which you will enjoy!  We are having so much fun on the tour, and I hope you get a chance to check it all out! 


​​Genre:

Cyberpunk Fantasy


Synopsis:

Realms Unreel is a young adult cyberpunk fantasy that readers call “the perfect escape!”

Emmie Bridges, the youngest child in a family of inventors, is a talented creator of virtual worlds and a prodigy in the field of augmented reality. When Tomo Yoshimoto, the world’s pre-eminent virtual reality designer, invites her to become his apprentice, Emmie cannot believe her good fortune.

But Emmie’s charmed life begins to unravel after Tomo’s sudden death, and she finds herself adrift in the real and virtual worlds she once loved. When a strange man reaches out to her, offering his help, Emmie discovers that the worlds she thought she knew are not quite what they seem.


Heidi’s Hot Take:

Wow. This book is just awesome! I haven’t really read any cyberpunk before, only watched some cyberpunk anime. I don’t really see how this fits into cyberpunk in that sense, but as I haven’t read cyberpunk, I will take the author’s word that this is. Needless to say, whatever you want to call it, this book was amazing! I loved the world-building both within the book, and the work that the author does. The blending of technology and old religions was refreshingly thrilling. The author’s descriptions of technology were phenomenal. I was surprised that this book was only 356 pages, because it seemed so much more than that. The meaty details, the three different storylines going at the same time, and the delicious development of the plots left me feeling like I had read several books in the series.The only bad thing that I would mention, is that because of all the different elements and the way that the story progressed, I really felt that there were two different books here. And the story still isn’t finished yet. There will be a sequel. This book took me a month to read, which is very uncommon. There are a couple of major climactic points where I think she could have ended book 1, and then created book two. The second part of the book had a very different feel than the first, which also would have been easier to handle if she had made it two books.
But it was a great read. I will definitely read it again when the next book comes out. Yeah, the next book is going on my TBR as well.
If you would like to give Realms Unreel a try, grab it now. It will be the best $4. you spent on an e-book this year!
Until next time, 
Keep Reading!