Guest Post // Nine Video Games Readers Will Love by Gwen C. Katz

Sunday, April 22, 2018

When I'm not writing, I'm a big fan of indie video games, and I've always thought there should be more overlap between the book community and the video game community. After all, video games are just another form of storytelling, and many modern video games, especially on the indie side, feature well-developed plots, memorable characters, and immersive worlds. But the video game community has done little to convince readers that it's worth their time, and the major titles that get the most attention are usually the same dull first-person shooters about grizzled old soldiers that turned off the book community in the first place. Plus, a new video game can cost $60, require a $400 console, and take twenty hours to finish. No wonder so many readers have no interest in games.

So I've put together my own list of recommendations for anyone who loves books and is interested in getting into video games. In order to make this list available to the widest audience possible, regardless of skill level, budget, or time constraints, the games generally share the following traits: a) short length, b) low cost and wide availability, c) moderate difficulty, and most importantly, d) excellent storytelling. I hope every reader will find something here that catches their interest.

Photopia

Genre: Interactive Fiction

Year: 1998


You know text adventures. They're those goofy-frustrating games from the 80's full of "you were eaten by a grue" and "you can't get ye flask" that vanished as soon as graphics cards were invented. Right? Wrong! It turns out that not only are text adventures still around, but they've developed into their own art form as interactive, high-concept short stories. There's a thriving (if extremely insular) interactive fiction community devoted to making and playing these games (you can play my own surreal historical game The House of Fear here).

Interactive fiction is very literary, so it's a natural entry point for fans of non-interactive fiction, and one of the best games to start with is Photopia. This beautiful, heartbreaking story alternates between slice-of-life and a fantasy bedtime story told to a little girl, using the different colors of the spectrum as inspiration for different settings: red is the surface of Mars, blue is beneath the sea, and so on. It's a meditative experience, and one that's over far too quickly.

Photopia is free to play online.

Portal

Genre: First Person

Year: 2007


If I was going to include just one AAA game on this list, it had to be Portal. It made a huge splash when it burst onto the scene. An all-female cast! A weapon that isn't a weapon! But it wasn't just a fad. Many gamers still list Portal among their favorites. This is by far the most challenging game on this list, but it's got a nice slow learning curve, and I think even a beginner can complete this one without assistance, given enough patience.

You are in a research facility, and a deadpan AI named GLaDOS (Genuine Lifeform and Disk Operating System) is guiding you through a series of puzzles designed to test the newly invented portal gun, which can create holes through space-time. GLaDOS promises you cake when you finish all the tests. But as you progress and notice how suspiciously empty the facility is—as well as signs that someone before you escaped the testing procedure—it becomes apparent that the cake is a lie.

This game is a masterclass of minimal storytelling. The whole thing takes place inside one building with no explanation as to who you are or how you got there, dropping only the slightest tantalizing hints about what happened. (The sequel, Portal 2, has a much broader scope, yet is a lesser achievement.) There are only two characters, one of whom never talks and the other of whom doesn't appear in person until the final scene. Plus, Portal is the funniest game you're ever likely to play, packed with dark humor that makes GLaDOS into one of the all-time great video game characters. Check out Portal for yourself and you'll discover that the hype is not overstated.

Portal is available on Steam.

Thomas Was Alone

Genre: Platformer

Year: 2012


Childhood experiences with Mario left platformers synonymous with frustration in my mind, but Thomas Was Alone radically reinvents the platformer as a vehicle for deep exploration of character. You guide a collection of colored rectangles through a geometric environment, accompanied by narration that explains who the different rectangles are and what they're experiencing. The hopeful, bittersweet story that unfolds explores artificial intelligence, friendship, self-sacrifice, and the nature of personhood.

It's astonishing how much personality this game imbues into a set of characters who are literally featureless. These rectangles are distinctly British, and their oh-so-human foibles, like condescension and self-aggrandizement, make their personalities all the more endearing—and their final choice all the more powerful.

Don't be fooled by its minimalist graphics and simple puzzles—every aspect of Thomas Was Alone is lovingly crafted, from the smoothly implemented controls to the soothing, audiobook-style narrator. You'll fall in love with Thomas, Chris, John, Claire, Laura, James, and Sarah, and you just might cry at the end.

Thomas Was Alone is available on Steam.

Gone Home

Genre: First Person

Year: 2013


You arrive at the creepy mansion on the hill at midnight during a storm, only to discover...a sweet story of teenage first love?

Gone Home defies expectations in the best possible way. It's a horror-style exploration game with no horror, a Myst-style puzzler with no puzzles, a first-person game where the point-of-view character is not the protagonist, and a romance between teen girls in an industry where neither girls nor LGBT people are valued.

You're the college-age sister who returns home from backpacking in Europe to find the house empty. As you wander around looking at things to try to piece together where everyone is, your teenage sister's diary entries play, narrating her arrival at a new school, her desire to become a writer, and her friendship with and budding attraction to the school's punk-rock cool girl. Interwoven with this are the side stories of your mom, a forest ranger, and dad, a writer of pulpy thrillers who every author will immediately relate to. The teen voice is incredibly authentic, and the sweet story is told with refreshing sincerity. Gone Home is the perfect game for YA readers, or for just about anyone.


Kentucky Route Zero

Genre: Adventure

Year: 2013


"Steinbeckian" is the word that immediately comes to mind the moment this game opens with an old delivery truck pulled up outside a novelty gas station so the driver can ask the blind station attendant for directions. The driver is informed that, to get to that address, he'll have to take a mysterious underground highway known as the Zero. The rest of the story follows his journey to find and navigate the Zero and the collection of strange, broken people he meets along the way.

But the plot isn't the star attraction here: It's the lyrical storytelling, the magical realist Americana visuals, the bluegrass soundtrack, and the deep, wistful emotions. The game uses a mixture of deliberately primitive 3D scenes and pure text scenes, with a black and white vector map connecting them all. There are loads of Easter eggs on the map, so be sure to explore.

The crafting of this game is absolutely flawless. Every line, image, and interaction builds perfectly on everything else to create a perfect image of the mix of determination and quiet despair that characterizes the lives of the American precariat. The characters and their problems are all too familiar: The antique shop deliveryman making his last trip before the store closes; the young doctor forced to shill for a pharmaceutical company to pay his school debts. The picture is bleak, but it's softened by the beauty of the storytelling and the feeling of shared humanity. The final chapter hasn't been released yet, so we don't know how it ends, but I have no doubt it will leave me as speechless as the rest did.

Kentucky Route Zero is available from Good Old Games. The final chapter is expected sometime this year.

Papers, Please

Genre: Sim

Year: 2013


Man, 2013 was a good year. In this 8-bit simulator, you've been assigned to work at a border checkpoint in a fictional eastern bloc country in the 1980s. You must stop smugglers, criminals, and terrorists from crossing the border, armed only with a set of increasingly complex entry requirements.

Oh man, this game will get into your head, and it's not just the increasing pressure of trying to process enough paperwork to earn a living wage and keep your family from starving. Will you turn away the man carrying contraband medicine, or the person whose sex doesn't match their passport? Will you do missions for a morally ambiguous resistance group? Will you place more people under arrest when the border guard offers you a cut of his wages? Why is it easier to empathize with the not-too-bright drug smuggler than with the countless law-abiding citizens who struggle to keep up with the constant rule changes?

Papers, Please is complex, it's psychological, and it will make you rethink your basic ideas of right and wrong, all in a game where your only choices are "approve" and "reject."

Papers, Please is available from Good Old Games.

Oxenfree

Genre: Adventure

Year: 2016


It's summer, and you and your high school friends take the ferry to an island that used to be a naval base and is now a state park, planning on a night of drinking and teenage misbehavior. But when your radio starts picking up bizarre signals, it turns out that the ghosts of the past aren't as quiet as they should be.

Oxenfree is an immersive, high-stakes supernatural thriller with a time-travel element and plenty of moments of outright terror. At the same time, the characters are well-rounded, their dialogue is realistic, and their relationships are just as compelling as the main plot. The protagonist and her new stepbrother are two of the lead characters, a relationship you don't often see but one that many real-life teenagers will resonate with.

A lot of modern adventure games have your in-game choices affect how the non-player characters react to you, but I've never seen a game implement the mechanic as thoroughly as Oxenfree. The radio mechanic is also unique and interesting; tuning the radio to different frequencies can either reveal clues or trigger different events. The gameplay leaves something to be desired, but the edge-of-your-seat story will definitely have you playing this one all the way through. And then maybe playing it again.

But not too late at night.


Tacoma

Genre: First Person

Year: 2017


The makers of Gone Home are back with an even more ambitious follow-up. You play a contractor sent to recover an artificial intelligence from an abandoned space station owned by a large multiplanet corporation. You are strictly forbidden from looking around the station or investigating what happened to the crew. But the station's VR recording system has left snippets of the crew's life for you to find. It looks like someone is trying to tell you something.

The diverse cast that inhabits the space station is immensely relatable, and you'll easily get sucked into their daily life as they deal with problems like keeping in touch with faraway family and saving up to go back to school. Their world, where everyone lives precariously indebted to megacorporations who pay them in loyalty points and record their every move, is simultaneously crushingly dystopian and all too realistic. There's a quiet heroism to the characters' ability to live normal lives amid the pressures of this system, and the way they rally in the face of disaster will have you rooting for them.

Oh, and don't forget to look for the cat.


Night in the Woods

Genre: Adventure

Year: 2017


A college dropout returns to her hometown with the goal of resuming her aimless life, only to find that it isn't the way she remembers. Stores have closed, her friends have changed, and people are going missing.

This is one of those horror games that hits way too close to home. It insightfully captures the witty-cynical attitude of a generation that has watched their future be systematically stolen from them, young people who act like teenagers a little too long because they have nothing to look forward to except a job at the convenience store. It's almost a relief when a dismembered arm appears, providing the hope of a villain more concrete than structural economic disadvantage.

But don't let all that make Night in the Woods sound like a drag. The lackadaisical cast injects a lot of humor into the story, from a neighbor's not-quite-Pulitzer-quality poetry ("I got mad one time/It was online") to your mom's supply of books about children raised by eels. The unusual gameplay combines the basic adventure-game mechanics with bits of platformers, roguelikes, and Guitar Hero. It's impossible not to get sucked into the characters' lives, and the message about the connections we build and the meaning we find in the face seemingly inexorable loss resonates far beyond one game.

Night in the Woods is available from Good Old Games.

What are your favorite video games? What video games do you think the book community would enjoy?

A side note from Cyra - You should most definitely read Gwen's book AMONG THE RED STARS! It's so good!!

Goodreads
My Review


World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines. 

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Blog Tour // Sky In the Deep by Adrienne Young

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Hello and welcome to the SKY IN THE DEEP blog tour! How excited are you for this book?! I know I am super excited! Feminist book about a girl warrior? Sign me right up! Read on for an excerpt and for the praise this book has already received!!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 24th, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

BUY THE BOOK


EXCERPT

“I saw him. I saw Iri.” 

He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. “What are you talking about?” 

I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was 

here! I saw him!” 

His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to . . .” I shuddered, 

remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki.” I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. “We have to find him!” 

But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight. 

“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash. 

His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.” 

“What? No.” 

“Iri’s made it to Sólbjǫrg.” His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.” 

Mýra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids. 

“But—” I choked. “I saw him.” 



“You did.” A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand. 

I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was 

there. 

“We will make a sacrifice tonight.” He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, sváss.” A laugh was buried deep in his chest. 

“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .” 

He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy.” He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down. 

I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turn- ing from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots. 

I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with Mýra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father 



from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind. 

My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling. 

“Here,” Mýra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us. 

I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?” 

“A little.” Mýra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.” 

In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. “We ask Sigr to accept your soul into Sólbjǫrg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.” 

My voice faded, letting Mýra speak first. “Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.” 

I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. “Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.” 



I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the woman’s peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway. 

“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whis- pered. “Something that wasn’t real?” 

Mýra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.” 

“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched 

me, Mýra.” 

She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoul- der. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took Mýra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then. 

I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a re- flection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing. 

“I know.” 

Mýra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.” 

I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in Sólbjǫrg—our people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it.” I breathed through the tightness in my throat. 



“We all did.” A small smile lifted on her lips. 

I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors. 

Like we’d left Iri. 

“Was he as handsome as he was before?” Mýra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine. 

“He was beautiful,” I whispered.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

For information on release, appearances, ARCs, giveaways, and exclusive content, sign up for the newsletter at https://adrienneyoungbooks.com/

Instagram: @adrienneyoungbooks
Twitter: @adriennebooks

PRESS RELEASE

*Named “One of the Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2018” by Bustle, BookBub, Justine Magazine, EpicReads and Bookish*

"Unlike the slew of lethal (but tormented) young ladies populating young adult literature, Eelyn is an unapologetic warrior, mercifully neither anachronistic nor modern-minded... Young’s staccato prose matches her fierce fighters, but the raw emotions and rapid pacing belie a well-honed voice and taut narrative. A rousing saga and moving coming-of- age tale, perfect for those who appreciate the wild and the wildlings, strong female protagonists, and cinematic battles." Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review

"Young has woven a Viking tale of blood, gore, and love that keeps the pages turning. The author has taken Norse mythology and made it accessible to young adults. The characters are all fully developed, and teens will be rooting for them to succeed. With a little bit of a love story, there is enough action, blood, and gore to engage reluctant readers. A refreshing tale where life is tested and people have to overcome their differences to fight a bigger foe to survive. A fast-paced, action-filled fantasy for all YA collections." School Library Journal

"Young’s brutal, emotional debut is set in a land that is as unforgiving as its people. The strongest aspect of Young’s work is the world building; she packs it with details that viscerally pull the reader into Eelyn’s world. Young has also populated this world with complicated characters who evolve as readers get to know them. Even better, the theme at the core of the storyovercoming prejudice and unifying to fight a greater threatresonates with current real-world issues. With its gorgeous prose and epic battle scenes, fantasy lovers will be easily satisfied." Booklist

"Drawing on Viking history and lore, debut author Young crafts an exciting, at times heart-wrenching story centered around 17-year-old Eelyn, her Aska clan, and their centuries-old war with the Riki...Young’s often poetic writing forms a stark juxtaposition with her vivid descriptions of battle and bloodshed, creating a clear picture of the brutality of war." Publishers Weekly

"Eelyn is a relentlessly fierce warrior, and even her romance with a Riki fighter doesn’t quite soften her; indeed, the two find that their lust for blood is almost as strong as their lust for each other... The action on the battlefield and the rising political tensions between the clans will easily keep readers involved through the final page."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

SKY IN THE DEEP
By Adrienne Young

As the news cycle broadcasts a new era of fierce feminists, Adrienne Young’s young adult debut novel SKY IN THE DEEP (April 24, 2018; Wednesday Books) dives right into this feminine power with a ferocious young girl warrior at the forefront. Drawing from the hugely popular YA fantasy genre, Young takes Eelyn, a young girl driven by family loyalty, and puts her among the ranks of Wonder Woman as a fearless leader in an action packed Viking adventure.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Brittani Hilles, Publicist, St. Martin’s Press Brittani.Hilles@stmartins.com | 646-307-5558

page1image3712656 page1image3712864 page1image3713072
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, god-decreed rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: train to fight and fight to survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefieldher brother, fighting with the enemythe brother she watched die five years ago.

Eelyn loses her focus and is captured. Now, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan settling in the valley, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who tried to kill her the day she was captured. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and find a way to forgive her brother while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
Reading SKY IN THE DEEP will make you want to pick up your own battle axe and run straight into battle with Young’s heroine. A must read for any fantasy addict, action lover, or fan of addicting stories, this debut embodies “Ond Eldr” or breathe fireas Eelyn inspires the reader to attack problems with courage and power.

SKY IN THE DEEP
By Adrienne Young
Published by Wednesday Books
**On Sale April 24, 2018**
Hardcover | $17.99
ISBN: 9781250168450| Ebook ISBN: 9781250168474


For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact: Brittani Hilles at brittani.hilles@stmartins.com or 646-307-5558
More early praise for SKY IN THE DEEP:
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“Young has built a detailed culture into in which her characters thrive. This intensely authentic story will appeal to adult readers as well as teens.”
Romantic Times, 4 1⁄2 Stars Top Pick!

"Young's SKY IN THE DEEP is full of bloody action and eternal feuds but it is Eelyn's halting, painful transformation and the tender depictions of loving human bonds in all their iterations that make this novel truly ond eldr: 'breathe fire.'" Shelf Awareness

“A brutal new viking inspired fantasy, SKY IN THE DEEP brings us one of the most badass new main characters we’ve ever read...She knows what she believes in—just like how we believe that you need to read this book!”
EpicReads, “The 12 Most Exciting Books Coming in Spring 2018”

“Readers looking for a fierce heroine who isn’t afraid to be ruthless will fall head over heels for Eelyn.”
Bookish, “Spring 2018’s Most-Anticipated Young Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy”

“Adrienne Young's SKY IN THE DEEP is a YA Viking fantasy like nothing you've seen before.
Bustle

"Fearless in its exploration of family, forgiveness, loyalty, and love, THE SKY IN THE DEEP is fierce, vivid, and violently beautiful. This book will wage a war with your heart as brutal and as bold as the battles inked in its pages."
Stephanie Garber, New York Times Bestselling author of Caraval

"Bleak, beautiful, and deadly, SKY IN THE DEEP is both a gritty, gut-wrenching tale of war and a thoughtful meditation on identity, family, and faith--a story with the ferocity of its main character as well as her raw and tender heart."
Traci Chee, New York Times Bestselling author of The Reader

"SKY IN THE DEEP is a delicious tale filled with fierce battles, shocking betrayal, and a slow-burn romance that's as hard fought as the wars raging between the two clans. Readers will welcome this vivid gift to the fantasy genre, as will fans of darkly lush historical settings. Wholly unique and instantly addictive, I was captivated from its opening lines."
Kerri Maniscalco, New York Times bestselling author of Hunting Prince Dracula

"Brutal and beautiful, with breakneck pacing and starring a heroine that will make you want to run into battle with her, SKY IN THE DEEP is a stunning debut that will leave readers enchanted and breathless all at once."
Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

"With SKY IN THE DEEP, Adrienne Young has brought to life fascinating, multi-dimensional characters in a starkly beautiful world. Everything is rich and evocative. The ice melts against your skin at the same time the adrenaline takes hold of your heart. This is a gripping story, richly told."
Renée Ahdieh, New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath & the Dawn

"Heartrending, heart-mending: this book broke my heart into a thousand pieces, then put it back together even stronger than before."
Kayla Olsen, Bestselling author of Sandcastle Empire 

Have you read Sky in the Deep yet? What did you think of it?

Waiting on Wednesday // The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
The Darkest Minds #4
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Don't miss the hotly-anticipated new novel in the New York Times bestselling Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken, just in time for the major motion picture adaptation of The Darkest Minds, starring Amandla Stenberg and Mandy Moore! Told through the eyes of beloved character Zu, now seventeen, this harrowing, standalone story of resilience, resistance, and reckoning will thrill loyal fans and new readers alike.

So, that really isn't much of a summary, is it? I read a better one somewhere online, but I can't remember where I saw it. But what I know about this book is that it takes place 5 years after the events of In the Afterlight and is told from Zu's point of view. And we obviously get to see all of our old faves, but the main trio in this book is Zu and her new friends Roman and Priyanka.

From what I have seen, Priyanka is definitely gay and also brown.

That is about all I know about this book, but HOLY AM I EVER WAITING FOR IT EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

What books are you guys looking forward to this week? Are you excited about this new installment to the Darkest Minds series?!

DNF Review // Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Monday, April 2, 2018


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Publication Date: August 16th, 2011
Rating: DNF
Source: Purchase
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 374

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

I listened to about 7 hours of this audiobook on a long car ride back home to visit my dad and my sister. Honestly, it was seven hours too many. I should have known from the beginning that I wasn't going to like this one. Literally right away there was an overly descriptive section about a video that went out on the day of James Halliday's death that describes the contest he's running for someone to claim his fortune.

This section literally describes like, every single frame of this video in great detail and it was a bit too much for me. Like, leave SOMETHING to the imagination, man.

And the next thing that stuck out to me was when Wade was talking about his favorite teacher. He said that the teacher looked like your typical professor in his like tweed jacket with elbow patches or whatever. And he mentions that that could just be how they created their avatar, for all he knew, the teacher could be an Innuit woman from Alaska who made her avatar look like that to be taken seriously as a teacher. Or something along those lines. I don't remember the exact wording. But like... this book takes place in the future, so are women really so worried that they can't be taken seriously as teachers that they would make themselves look like old white men?

And then... then there was this part where Wade is talking about one of his classes that he was taking for an easy A. It was basically a class all about this James Halliday guy and he was talking about how he's already read the biography they're studying FOUR times. And then proceeds to tell us the entire life story of James Halliday and the entire history of the OASIS. I literally think I drove 50 miles while this was going on. It was so hideously boring, I'm surprised I didn't drive into a ditch.

And the last thing that I noticed was when Wade was talking about all the different 80's pop culture things he was studying to figure out James Halliday, he literally listed off E V E R Y.  S I N G L E.    T H I N G.  that he read, played, watched, etc. It was so boring.

I literally listened to this audiobook for almost 3 hours before anything resembling plot started to happen. So the second half of my time listening to this was considerably more interesting, but I just didn't care enough to continue. However, I think that the movie will be considerably more interesting and I am hoping to see that sometime soon.

Have you read Ready Player One yet? What did you think of it?

Waiting on Wednesday // Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Empirium #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
Pages: 512

Summary (from Goodreads):

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

What books are you looking forward to this week?
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