Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Review

Published: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 374
Received: borrowed audiobook from library
Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

In the year 2044, 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.

OMG! What was I waiting for? How did I not read this before now? I LOVED IT! I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Wil Wheaton, which was just the icing on the cake. Not only is this book about all things pop culture and video game related, but it's narrated by an iconic 80s kid. Perfect match!

I was immediately pulled into the story by Wheaton's narration, the dystopian reality and the pop culture from my childhood. At every turn there is a new reference to some movie, video game, TV show or piece of music that I can't help but smile while thinking of. From the Family Ties opening theme to the references of RUSH, from the mention of John Hughes' movies to reenacting War Games and from good old Atari to Xbox - there are so many references.

I loved the premise of the book - playing a virtual game to find a hidden Easter egg and win a ton of money! Wade is a great hero and I was cheering him on from the beginning. You want him to succeed and have a better life than what was dealt to him. You want to see him change the world, to make things better and save it from the 6s (the bad guys who will try anything, even murder to get to the prize).

I loved being a part of OASIS through Wade's eyes - seeing him attend virtual school, chilling with his friends, and crushing on a girl. Interesting to see it all happen virtually. I really grew to like Wade and wanted to be one of his virtual friends, I wanted to be on his side and be a part of this craziness. I honestly think that listening to the audiobook version was great in that respect as well, because it gave me that chance feel and hear the tone and feeling behind everything happening in the book and getting to know Wade more.

I don't even know what else to say about this book except that if you like a good nerdy book about 80s pop culture and dystopian stories, then this is your book! What are you waiting for.... go grab a copy! I'm off to listen to the soundtrack made by Ernest Cline! 

Looking forward to Armada!

About the author:
ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel.-source

Monday, August 24, 2015

Christa's Luck by Jennifer Grais and Michael Grais | Review Giveaway #TLCBookTours #ChristasLuck

Christa's Luck: The Story of a Girl, Her Horse, and The Last Wild Mustangs by Jennifer Grais and Michael Grais
Published: June 15, 2015
Publisher: Graisland Productions
Pages: 309
Received: for honest review with publisher and TLC Book Tours
Find Online: Amazon | IndieBound | B&H | Goodreads

Inspired by a real horse rescue, Christa’s Luck is a teen fiction novel about Christa’s love for an endangered herd of wild horses and how her special connection with them inspires her to look beyond her own unforgivable mistakes and try again. She rises up to become a horse advocate at fourteen, whose passion and heart move an entire town to take action.

"In Michael and Jennifer Grais’ YA novel, a 13-year-old’s fate intertwines with that of the legendary Lost Herd of wild mustangs that roam the canyons of Nevada.

Christa Cassidy knows that she’s lucky. She lives with her parents and older sister on a small ranch in a beautiful part of the world; she has a grandmother who loves her; and she’s expecting a baby sister before the end of the summer. She even has her own horse named Lucky. But like any other teenager, she’s suspended between childhood and adulthood, unsure of her place in the world, at odds with her family, and uncomfortable with the way she looks, talks, acts, and feels. She’s really only at home when she’s sitting on a horse—particularly when she’s trying to track the Lost Herd through the canyons around her home. But when something horrible happens to Lucky, Christa’s world is upended, and things only get worse when it becomes clear that the Bureau of Land Management intends to round up the mustangs. With the help of a strong, troubled horse named Jenner, Christa is determined to figure out what’s going on. She soon finds that she must rein in her own passions as well as her horses, and that she won’t accomplish anything without friends and help." Kirkus Reviews
In the vein of The Horse Whisperer and the Black StallionChrista’s Luck is an epic adventure story of courage, friendship and freedom.

The main reason I said yes to reviewing this book is that I have a young niece who is into horses and riding. I thought this book would bring me into her world and help me understand her love for horses. And I think it did just that. I'll be passing along my copy of the book to her - I hope she'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Christa's Luck is about a young girl who adores riding and enjoys watching the wild mustangs run free on the Nevada ranges. She loves seeing them running and their manes flying behind them. She longs to feel that free and riding helps her imagine she flying along beside them, the wind in her hair, the sun on her face and no cares in the world. Christa is on the hunt to see the Lost Herd for herself. It's been rumoured that they don't exist, but she feels deep down that they must be out there somewhere.

As luck would have it, she finds them not once but three times (alone and with family). She's drawn to them in ways she cannot explain and she feels the need to help keep them free.  The round ups that have been secretly taking away the mustangs have to stop and Christa is determined to make it ahappen. She is adamant that the Lost Herd stay free and will do anything to see it through.

This story shows how a young girl can have such conviction and courage in the face of doubt and uncertainty. It shows trust that is earned, not taken. It shows that determination and will power can give you strength. And it shows how love and family can help you reach your dreams. I hope that my niece will take away all of those lessons from this book when I show it to her. I hope this book will help her when making decisions and show her that even if you make a poor decision, that you can try again and do better. Never give up.

I'm also impressed that I could pick up a little riding lingo and hope that I can sneak a few words in here and there to show off to my niece. Looking forward to watching her at her next horse show and seeing a little of Christa coming through. 


About the Authors:
Jennifer Grais is a singer-songwriter who recorded several albums in Los Angeles and Nashville and toured as Jackson Browne’s background singer.  When she met Michael and they moved to the rural area of Topanga Canyon, CA, her childhood passion for horses was rekindled. She completed a year-long program of study with Linda Kohanov, best-selling author of “The Tao of Equus”, and “Riding Between the Worlds,” and began exploring a deeper relationship with horses. In December 2006, she was captivated by footage of a horse rescue that took place during a flood in the Netherlands at the hands of women riders. The drama of the rescue inspired the novel, “Christa’s Luck,” a young adult novel co-authored by Michael Grais. Research for the novel exposed Jennifer to the unfolding drama of the wild mustangs in the western United States and became the primary plot of the book. Read more about Jennifer and the inspirations behind Christa’s Luck.

Michael Grais has written and produced movies of domestic and international acclaim including Death Hunt, Poltergeist, Poltergeist II, Marked for Death and Cool World and more. Michael has also contributed to the book Why We Write and has taught filmmaking at University of New Mexico and in various workshops abroad. After attending New York University’s Film School and Emerson College, he earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. Read more about Michael Grais.

Michael and Jennifer currently live in Northern California with their horse, Solo and two cats Francesca and Finnegan.

For more information about the wild horse issue in America, please read Return to Freedom and Love Wild Horses.

Christa's Luck Website

Friday, August 21, 2015

White Dresses by Mary Pflum Peterson | Review

White Dresses by Mary Pflum PetersonWhite Dresses: A Memoir of Love and Secrets, Mothers and Daughters by Mary Pflum Peterson
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Published: 352
Pages: September 15, 2015
Received: for honest review via publisher and TLC Book Tours
Find Online: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Goodreads

A poignant memoir of three generations of women and the white dresses that adorned them

As a successful journalist at Good Morning America, Mary Pflum Peterson's persona is at odds with her complicated childhood, where she watched her brilliant yet emotionally vulnerable mother, Anne, unravel before her eyes. But their love of white dresses always united them—from their baptism dresses to their wedding gowns, white dresses embodied hope and new beginnings.

After her mother's sudden death, Mary dug deep to understand the events that led to Anne's breakdown. At twenty-one, Anne entered a convent, but lengthy periods of enforced fasting, isolation, and constant humiliation drove her to flee almost a decade later. Hoping to find new purpose as a wife and mother, she married, and was devastated when Mary's father revealed himself to be gay.

Anne retreated into chaos. By the time Mary was ten, their house was cluttered with broken appliances, stacks of mail, and teetering piles of assorted "treasures." But in spite of everything, their bond endured. Through the white dresses, pivotal events in their lives were celebrated, marking the journey through loss and redemption as Mary tried to save Anne from herself.

my thoughts

I adored this book. I honestly thought it would just be a great memoir about Mary and her mother and how they overcame their issues, but it was much more than that. It was a memoir that made you think about your own mother, how she grew up, what she did to give you a good life, support you and always be there for you. It's about missing her and remembering her. I cried during the last few chapters, thinking about my mother and remembering so many things. That is what a great book will do for you. 

This is the one quote that brought me to tears:
"If I live to be a hundred," I said, shaking my head once more, "that would mean I would live more than half my life without her. I don't think I can do that. I don't know how I'm going to get through even two weeks without her!" -pg. 307

Chrystal's Wedding Dress/White Dresses
Pulled out my wedding dress to think of happy days.
Mary has a way with words and brings you into both her world and that of her mothers via the white dresses of their most important moments in life. Anne, Mary's mother, loved white dresses and the new beginning and possibilities that white represented and that followed Mary through her entire life. I see how that wonderful idea could bring change or open their eyes to other options.

Anne's life was rough and that added to her depressive tendencies. This was the perfect storm to create a hoarder. Anne's hoarding life affected Mary's life by making her want to get away and be more. As much as Mary didn't want to become her mother, she loved her with all that she had. She also realized that her mother did so much to be sure that she was happy in her life. Anne also lead on extraordinary life - teacher, nun, wife, and mother to name a few of her jobs in life.

I love how Mary has all of these white dresses to look back on and remember so many amazing pieces of her past and that of her mothers. She used these dresses as a means to tell the stories of their lives and can now look at them and remember it all.

Mary's story shows how much she wanted more for her mother - to help her out of her hoarding problem, to help her be happy, and to not feel disappointed that she couldn't totally help her (until her Mom wanted help). But it also shows how much she loves her and cares for her.

I think it's a great story to bring you closer to those you love, to ask more questions about their lives before you came into the picture and learn all that you can about them. I'll be sending this book out to my best friend soon. I just know that she will love this book as much as I did.

Also, I can't wait to see what other books Mary will write.

About the Author:
Mary Pflum PetersonMary Pflum Peterson is a veteran multi-Emmy-Award winning producer at Good Morning America, the nation’s number one morning news show. Her work at GMA has taken her to papal funerals in Rome, to the ravaged remains of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to the royal wedding in London and to numerous Oscar ceremonies in between. Prior to joining GMA, Pflum Peterson was a producer and reporter for CNN, where, from her post in Istanbul, she traveled in and out of numerous warzones, including Afghanistan. Today, her warzone of choice is Manhattan’s Upper West Side where she resides with her husband, Dean, and their four young children, ages 1 to 7.

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