Novel Review: Gamers by Thomas K. Carpenter

Let’s be honest here. When it comes to books, I’m not always eager for review requests. You’ve probably noticed my reviews have been rather scarce these days. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading books though. I’ve just been quietly enjoying my reads. So when Thomas K. Carpenter asked me if I wanted to read Gamers, I was more than a little wishy-washy in my response.

I tell you, Mr. Carpenter hit me up at the right time though. I was at the tail end of my current read and wasn’t in the mood for searching for another book. So up next? Gamers. Before the review, how about the blurb?

Two points for brushing your teeth. Ten points for keeping your room tidy. Seventy-two points for the Bioeconomic Game Design pop quiz on the ride to school in your personal FunCar. Another thirty for making every hurdle in gym class. 

Life is a game, unless you’re not the one winning.

Gabby DeCorte, top student and reality-hacker extraordinaire, has been doing whatever it takes to keep her best friend, Zaela, from falling behind in LifeGame. Zaela has gifts of artistry that amaze Gabby, but none of those skills translate in LifeGame and with final exams coming up, they can’t afford to waste a single minute. But when a mysterious group called the Frags contacts Gabby claiming to know what really happens to the losers of LifeGame, she must choose between winning and what she believes in.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords

First off, I want to say I’m so thankful Mr. Carpenter didn’t say, “Screw you” and not reply after my not-so-enthusantic response to his review request. Because this was definitely a book I’m glad I had an opportunity to read.

So… The style: Mr. Carpenter can be my Game Master any day. 🙂 The novel mixed the futuristic world with the gaming world. Basically, Gabby’s life was a game of racking up points in order to reach the next level. Talk about your rat race.

It totally took me back to my EverQuest addicted days. The game talk, the leveling, the never-ending pursuit to acquire more, whether it be points, gear, etc… I was there. But it was a bit more, especially in the final raid. It took online roleplaying and a paper DnD twist to it. I couldn’t help but think about:

Let’s move on, shall we?

The plot: The story was well-paced. Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting it down, even going so far as taking it to the bathroom with me. Is that TMI? One thing I will say is Gamers seemed more like the beginning of something big. The major players were introduced but it didn’t have a sense of finality to it. It was more as if it set me up for the end of one adventure while opening the door for a whole new adventure. I haven’t read the full trilogy yet, but I definitely would say Gamers isn’t the book to stop on.

Okay… I really want to ruin this book for you with sentences that start with “like this one time…” But I know you’ll hate me for it. So… let’s talk about…

Characters: The novel was told from Gabby’s POV. She started out very much a part of the system, very focused on the end game, which in her case happened to be getting into the grand university. She reminded me a lot of the AP straight-A students I’d encountered while working in the high school. She knew what she wanted, how to do get it, and didn’t slack in reaching her goals. Yet she never acted like she was better than everyone else. She was just a regular kid (except for being a super genius) with typical problems…. well typical until the poo hit the fan. I liked her.

The other characters were rather fleeting. They didn’t take up much of my time, but each played important roles which pushed the plot forward or gave insight to an aspect of Gabby’s character of the total story. 🙂 To be honest, if you quizzed me, I wouldn’t remember a single name. That doesn’t say a lot though. I’m horrible with names and even had to read the blurb to remember Gabby’s. Still, I love the cohesiveness the characters brought to the entire story. Each was rememberable (not so much the names for me but the personalities definitely). I’ve snapped a photograph of each of them in my mind’s eye.

Final thoughts: Gamers had a few loose ends which gave the first book a cliffhanger feel to it. You all know how much I hate cliffhangers. Yet at the same time, I was satisfied with the ending, especially knowing the next two books are already available.

My score? 4.5 – 5 out of 5 stars. HIGHLY recommended for RPG-ers. Until next time, I leave you with our infamous friend Leeroy.

Anyone else in the mood for chicken?

Novel Review: Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

I was pretty luck to come across Ashfall last year (see review here). When I found Ashen Winter on NetGalley, you better believe I scooped it up. 🙂 So the blurb:

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || The Book Depository || Amazon

One of the things I loved most about Ashen Winter is the emotional connection between the characters. I could really feel the love. It was more than just lip service. The love was shown in actions even to the point of sacrifice.

The realism in this work was awesome. Alex is a perfect example. He’s a kid, and most kids know very little about survival. Despite going through hell in Ashfall, Alex is still pretty much clueless most of the time, and it shows. My boy Alex had a heroic complex. Problem with his heroism was he usually puts himself and everyone around him in danger.

Usually it’s an insult to say a character is too stupid to live. Okay… it’s still an insult. 🙂 But in the case of Alex, even he recognized it. Some of his choices infuriated me. Yet at the same time, most wouldn’t have even survived what he’d survived. Alex did the best he could with the limited knowledge he had.

I’ve seen some authors counter their character’s stupidity with unbelievable luck. Mike Mullin had enough respect for the reader not to play the coincidence game. When Alex screwed up, people suffered, people got hurt, people died.

What about the other characters? Darla was sensible to the point of being a major drag. But after dealing with the consequences of Alex’s actions, sensible would have been great for them. 🙂 After awhile, I started to miss Darla’s innovation. One thing for sure, she’s a tough chickadee.

Mom and Dad also made an appearance. I didn’t like them. They were no-nonsense in a scary way. Really, they were the kind of parents who frustrate children until the kid yells, “You never listen to me!” I wanted to throttle them at times. Yet I couldn’t deny they were parents through and through. Unfortunately for them, Alex had grown too much to be treated like a child. Despite all the stupid decisions Alex made, I was thankful he manned up to his parents and did the right thing.

Anyway, Ashen Winter was even better than Ashfall. This book was harsh, gritty, and at times it brought tears to my eyes. Other times it had me dying laughing. I’m really looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy. 5 star read.

Novel Review: What a Boy Needs by Nyrae Dawn + Giveaway

As soon as I finished What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn(see review here), I couldn’t stop myself from purchasing What a Boy Needs. I just loved the first in the series so much. I’m a hopeful one. Could Nyrae Dawn do for Jay what she’d done for Sebastian? Let’s cross our fingers she did. Before the review, the blurb:

Jaden Sinclair knows he’ll never amount to anything…so why would he deserve a girl like Priscilla Mendoza? 

Since last summer, things have been screwed up between Jaden and Pris. He knows it’s his fault, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to go a few rounds with her new boyfriend. He also knows he’s the loser his dad calls him, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting her.

After getting a huge bomb dropped on him, Jaden lashes out and lands himself in jail. Everything in his chaotic life is turned upside down and to make it worse, his mom kicks him out in order to side with his dad. Yeah, he’s totally a prize for a girl like Pris. 

Sebastian, Aspen, and Pris are all going places in their lives…and he knows he can’t keep tagging along for the ride.

The group has one last chance for The Epic Adventure they’ve been looking for: a road trip to New York, where Jaden’s friends will be going to college. Unfortunately, the more time Jaden hangs around Pris, the harder it is to keep the carefully constructed walls between them so she doesn’t find out what a train wreck he really is. 

When the trip ends, Jaden has to decide if he’s ready to say goodbye to his friends, and the girl he loves. He knows what he needs, but will he be man enough to go for it?

Available at Barnes & Nobles

I’ll just come out and say it. What a Boy Needs was another great read. Not sure if I liked it more or less, or the same as What a Boy Wants. I do know I liked the beginning a lot… a lot more than What a Boy Wants, which is saying a lot, because I liked the beginning of What a Boy Wants A WHOLE LOT! The middle maybe about the same and the ending a little less. Still all around good and 5 stars.

So now that I’ve ruined the surprised, what exactly did I like about What a Boy Needs.

The Boy Jay: “Fake it till you make it” seemed to be his motto. The words he verbalized were so different from what he truly felt inside. My heart broke for him. I know what it’s like to put on a smile when downer emotions are twirling inside. It’s tough. And Jay did it every single day. I don’t know how he managed some days. I could see myself barring the door to my room and shutting the world indefinitely.

I loved Jay’s struggle with his home life. Well… not gleeful he had struggles, but what his struggles did for the book. I was lucky to land parents who believed in me and encouraged me. It’s easy for me to get wrapped in my own little world and be oblivious to the struggles of others. Nyrae Dawn made Jay’s home life real. Despite my background, I could understand the trials he faced… I truly felt for his situation. *I* wanted to encourage Jay and tell him he was important, loved, desired… that he had a future.

Because Jay had real problems… emotional problems, not just “get the girl” like in What a Boy Wants, the story meant more to me. I looked forward to Jay growing… finding and accepting his true self, trusting in others.

Definitely a worthy sequel to What a Boy Wants.

Winners of Last Giveaway

So I promised another giveaway, but first let’s knock out the winners from the last giveaway. What was up for grabs?

Three Winners: Will receive an eCopy of What a Boy Wants by NyRae Dawn.

And the Winners are!

Mary Preston

Desiree

and

Carrie A

Emails will be sent shortly.

Giveaway Time!

One Winners: Will receive an eCopy of What a Boy Wants by NyRae Dawn.
How to enter? What a Boy Wants was more New Adult than Young Adult. Nyrae Dawn mentioned on her blog that she’s coming out with another New Adult book. So this time around, leave a comment telling us your favorite New Adult book or a New Adult book you’re dying to read.

Giveaway Ends:July 7, 2012

If you haven’t entered the second giveaway on the INDIEpendence Blog Fest tour, what are you waiting for? Go do it!

Novel Review: What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn + Giveaway

I saw this book cropping up all over the place. I debated off and on picking it up. The cover is sexy and all, but where are the sparkly vampires? haha Just kidding. But really, it didn’t have any paranormal activity. So my attitude was very “I don’t know about this.” Then I found out it was free for a limited time. Oh yeah! I snagged that puppy. All I had to lose was time. 🙂 The blurb:

Courtesy of watching his mom’s relationships, Sebastian Hawkins knows what girls need to do to get a guy. He has what he considers a PHD in hooking up. When he needs extra cash for a car, Sebastian starts up an online venture as The Hook-up Doctor, to anonymously help girls land the guy of their dreams. Of course, his services don’t offer a happily-ever-after guarantee. He’s seen firsthand getting together never means staying together. 

And then he falls in love… 

With the last girl he would expect…

Totally not in his game plan. 

Suddenly, Sebastian finds himself muddled in the game he’s always prided himself on. He can’t even pick up girls at parties anymore! Why would anyone want to be in love when it turns you into a stuttering, screwed-up, mess with really lame stalker tendencies? Stalking? Totally not his gig. 

But the Hook-up Doctor won’t let himself go down easily. He’s always known how to give a girl what she wants and now it’s time to figure out what a boy wants… and he definitely plans on getting it.

Available at Barnes & Nobles

First of all, I love Nyrae Dawn’s voice. Her style was a bit different that I’m used to… she actually wrote as if she was talking to the reader. Often I’m put off by the random “you” in a story. Who is you? Are you talking to me? haha In this case, it worked. I say it’s because of the consistency throughout the story. It was always Sebastian talking to me… telling me what was going through his head, as if I was along for the ride.

Speaking of Sebastian… let’s talk about him. My boy was jaded. In his world, love didn’t exist, only heartbreak. He did his best to keep the “no-strings attached” attitude. He was so out of touch with romance and love that when it did hit, he was so flustered he didn’t know what to do with himself. Oh, my man thought he did… but he was wrong… so very wrong. 🙂 In fact, I have one note that says “why you so stupid, man?”

The parent in me loved this book. First, I loved how responsible the kids were in this book. Like the PPP — pre-party plan. What a wonderful idea! I totally had a talk with my teenage daughter after reading about that. And since I have a girl, let’s talk about hanging with boys. Awesome idea, if you have friends like Sebastian and Jay. When I hit the partying age, I never felt safer than when I had my guy buddies around. I know a lot of parents are like “no way is my baby girl hanging with boys,” but I’m more on the lines “who’s the boy who’ll stand up for you when you’re in a tight bind?”

So I had in my head this was going to be a fabulous review, because the book was that great. Unfortunately, I looked through my notations and most say things like “this is going to be a fave,” “I’m going to start reading more contemporary books because of this,” and “I want to buy Nyrae Dawn’s other books so bad, but I’m afraid I might not like the ending… better wait.”

Needless to say, this book was good. So good, there came a point I just wanted it to end. What?!?! I know. Crazy right? I just couldn’t wait to get to the end so I could rave about how much I loved What a Boy Wants. This was definitely a favorite read. Best book I’d read all year.

I devoured this book in a few hours then immediate purchased the next in the series. Stop by on Wednesday for the review of What a Boy Needs. I haven’t written it yet, but I hope my notes are better than the ones I took for What a Boy Wants. I guess I just got too involved to take time to make notes. Anyways… get it. It really was that good.

Giveaway Time

Three Winners: Will receive an eCopy of What a Boy Wants by NyRae Dawn. Delivered via Smashwords Gift.

How to enter? Leave a comment telling us your favorite Indie Book or Author. New to indie books? Tell us a book you’ve heard great things about and are dying to read. Don’t forget to leave a way for me to contact you if you win.

Giveaway Ends July 4, 2012

Stop by July 4 to see if you’ve won. Plus, I’m thinking more giveaways may be in order for that day. 🙂 If you want to stay on top of the giveaways this week, be sure to check the button “Notify me of new posts” when you leave a comment. If I’m not mistaken, there are 5 separate giveaways happening this week. Also check out the INDIEpendence Day Blog Tour post for a chance to win a book by L.K. Rigel!