Review: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

A contemporary coming-of-age that is filled with gaming jargon and screams “geek”? I’d reread the heck out of this!

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You know how, in life, two series of unconnected events somehow become relevant to each other? I’d love Rekulak to explain to me how a plan to steal a magazine perfectly align with the protagonist meeting a fellow coder. The book narrated the storyline so well that just upon retrospection did I realize this.

This was a quick read for me- as all contemporaries are- and while it was very regular in setting with its boy meets girl concept, it stands out for its unique, realistic characters and for how it champions geeks- clueless, asocial and all.

One of the reasons I would recommend this to Ready Player One fans is because of how technical the book gets. While it isn’t set in a different world nor does it have elements of fantasy, The Impossible Fortress is the back end of what is RP1. It’s a story about video game developers. Moreover, being set in the 80s makes you wonder if this could be a glimpse into the Oasis (RP1 game) creator’s world.

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This book totally made me want to learn coding. So much so that I’ve signed up for a couple of courses online.

Which contemporary book is on the top of your list? Any book made you pick up a new hobby?

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Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

You’ve never encountered video games in such a surreal, larger than reality setting.

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Where do I begin?! Forget what dystopia has meant to you conventionally; this book redefines it. Unlike our archetypal dystopian fiction where they save the world from a tyrant while falling in love, this book is a reread worthy, video game based masterpiece. Our main character establishes how messed up the world is in the year 2044 and, despite my prenotions when introduced to this ruin of a future, the book does not try to save it. Such instances prove how sensible the book is and takes a route few books in this sub-genre follow.

As I began the book, I had no clue that, by the second chapter, I would nosedive into a universe so magnified in (just) words that I experienced exactly what our main character felt. If you ever watched Interstellar or Gravity, you would have experienced a moment where you felt suffocated by the space and how real and touchable the virtual worlds felt. At one point of this book, that’s exactly what I went through. I imagined myself on those very quests. Not many stories can transport you into their worlds as Ready Player One did. The Night Circus was the last book that pulled me in like this.

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This year has just started but I bet that Ready Player One will feature in my favorites list at the end of the year. I don’t think I’m alone with my sentiments since everyone I’ve spoken to has connected to the book. With its movie in the works, I can’t wait for people to discover and discuss the various elements that flow through this story. On a related note, I’m hoping there’s a sequel novel to this or even just a spin-off set in the same world.

Ready Blogger One V. 04

(At this point, I’m running out of titles)

Yes, I have been away from the blog for too long. Yes, I promised to have loads of content. Yes, I disappointed myself. We need a superlative for procrastinator. But for real, I have a a concise explanation why I haven’t been around and also, looking ahead.

Reading Last Year

My reading challenge in 2016  was for 1 book since I didn’t want to pressure myself and instead, have fun reading. YET,  through the year, I made myself schedule time in- literally jot down 11pm as “read”- so that I would actually do it. I was super busy and pressuring myself didn’t help. When I checked in on Goodreads at the end of the year, I had read only 11 books.yearinbooks

ELEVEN. BOOKS. I was ashamed. Despite my love for reading, 2016 made me go through  too many plot twists to actually read fictional ones. But hey, second week of 2017 and I started my second book already which, I think, reflects well on this year.

So What Have I Been Doing?

I’ve picked up a lot of freelance work- that are based on writing, photography or social media content. Juggling college with 4 to 5 projects while volunteering is proving to be difficult but I’m too ambitious and stubborn to slow down. I’m also doing courses online to brush up my skills- in writing and design. I think that there’s always room for improvement.

Last year was more focused on being the best at the task at hand and mastering them while managing time effectively. There were a lot of stressful moments, too many weddings and social events, too much weighing out my decisions. I think I found a balance by the end of the year so phew!

WHAT’S NEXT ON THE BLOG?

When the new year rolled in, I looked at what I wanted to let go and what I needed to prioritize on. From the list, one thing that made me happy that I felt I needed more in my life were books and blogging. So guess who’s scheduled an unconventional review and a discussion post which has been a draft for two years?!finWhat have you been up to? Bloggers, which was the best post you published last year?

Confidence: A No Show

November 9, 2015

Lately, I’ve wanted confidence in an IV up my arm. Why am I so hesitant with every decision, every idea I have? These doubts just keep on piling.

This may not be a good idea.

11 June, 2016

I first made this draft last year. I had no clue where I was going with it- and really, it sounds like it would have been a bucket of negativity- but what struck me was how much my confidence has grown. It was fickle and tiny and hid away in fear every other day. Now, just a year in, my confidence has branched out, strong and definitely stable.

The end of last year was quite a roller coaster, but I pulled through. By the time January rolled in, I had realized an important hack. I’m not sure where I read it but I bet it was Tumblr. I imbibed it and lived by it since then.

It’s impossible to tell the difference between genuine confidence and faking it.

Which really just means picking up this simple habit.

Here’s Bucky’s stellar lesson. Repeat after him.

Yes, this post marks my return to book blogging. I missed this community and oh man, READING! I’m carving out some much needed reading time and requesting life for some downtime. (The Raven King is lying in my Kindle, glaring at me.) But till then, let me leave you with some more sparkly confidence.

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Stereotypes 101: Bugs in My Contemporary

I recently read a book whose stereotypes frustrated me, raved to Sana and Maraia about it and when that didn’t suffice, I came up with a post series to blow off some steam!

Stereotypes 101 is a way for me to blow off some steam caused by the frustrating stereotypes that frequent my pages. Seriously, no amount of insecticide can get rid of these overused ideas.

I love a light contemporary on those hectic days I have no time to get emotional over fantasy. I’m not one to get coy about how I read fluffy books but I am a stickler for my books to reflect a certain standard in plot and character. I’ve had too many instances when I pick up a contemporary as a break between an epic fantasy and end up stuck with a story that approve shitty behavior.

The bad boy/ the mystery boy

Listen, I love a troubled guy with an ink sleeve as much as the next person but please stop and think how tired this trope must be? It’s so worn out, it’s not even interesting anymore. So many books feature this ridiculous character to add colour and flair to the story. It isn’t the guy I have a problem with as much as it is how flat and sans personality he is made out to be.
Books That Discard It: Simon VS The Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Makeover

Let’s focus on the root problem. Cinderella brought this over from the dark side. But surely, this 300 year old trope can’t still exist?! Wrong! While it may not be overused, I bet that the few books that do work this stereotype are enough mess with female readers’ heads and make them feel like they aren’t good enough. And we wonder why girls have a complex about their looks.
Books That Discard It: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cheating

Urgh, no. Not even a kiss. Not even if the person in the relationship runs away after and the other person mumbles apologies. This basically shows how little the third person is valued by his/her significant other. How is it okay for book characters to get together if the same situation would be viewed horribly in real life?! There may be books that use it as a reflection of life or to prove a valid book. But it will never ever be appropriate to write in cheating for the sake of it and using it as a way to progress your plot or as a plot twist is just

Damsel in Distress

Yes, women can get emotional and sometimes, have trouble lifting heavy things. But, our sensitivity is a catharsis and books need to use this as a tool to bring out the bolder us (just like in real life). So, if a guy rolls in just in time to comfort the girl, proudly call bullshit on that. And fast.
Books that Discard It: Glory O’ Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King.

What stereotype(s) in contemporary have you steaming? Rant away in the comments!

Smart by Kim Slater

Everyone compares this book to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”. It’s so much more than that.

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The book just mentions that Kieran has “special” needs but through the narration, it’s apparent that he has autism. A mark of a well-told story. What interested me most was how Slater took a plain and day-to-day plot and transformed it to highlight Kieran’s character and reaction to it.

Also, emotions: in every situation, you could hear his mood coming off the words. Slater wrote Kieran so well that I could feel his anxiety.

Accurately showing autism with no hitches in pace, it’s no mystery why I love this book. It’s short, sweet and leaves your heart filled. I can’t wait for A Seven Letter Word!

Have you read a book that gives justice to a mental illness? Talk to me about it! Have you read Smart yet?

Review: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

“Shall I compare thee to a heartbreak?
Thou art more lovely and more tempting”

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This book shows how grey life is, how ultimately, a hero doesn’t have to be right and the villain may be fighting for justice after all. I love the concept of EOs (ExtraOrdinaries) and how Schwab doesn’t take the biased, predictable road.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding this book, well-deserved hype at that. This story delivers on so many levels; and most importantly, the science fiction aspect of it was properly researched.

Can we talk about the characters? What a variety; three dimensional and realistic. We have a hero (I passionately hate), a sassy preteen, and the bearer of revenge: Victor Vale. What can I tell you about Victor Vale that hasn’t already been said? The complexities of his character- that confirm with the greyness of life (as mentioned above)- can make you stumble with praise.

In short, a book you wouldn’t want to finish. A book that defies all laws of stereotype. And does it in with such Valesque style.

 

What are your thoughts on Vicious? Which book invokes such strong feelings in you?

Bust A Move v. 03

5 years.

3 blog names.

Not enough content.

Hey self, I know. Life happens; exams, boredom, slumps, exams, family, exams. (I swear, we need an exam repellent around here)

And I’m done. I’m done with life telling me how unworthy I am of having a blog, how life undermines me and tells me that a procrastinator like me wouldn’t get her shit together long enough to curate a week’s worth of ideas.

Time to reset these thoughts. I’m fully aware that every single person goes through such feelings of unworthiness. When even an IV of confidence up your arm won’t help. Which is exactly why I even wrote this.

“Do you think I deserve an idea as amazing as that?” And the “I” in the sentence isn’t a regular one. Oh no. It is filled with disgust and disbelief.

According to Elizabeth Gilbert (rephrased by me): This idea travelled light years to reach human life and from the 7 billions, it chose you. Please honour it. Acknowledge it. Or break up with it. Don’t let it hang around waiting because you thought you weren’t worthy of it.

So here I am, back to blogging about my fiction, executing my ideas and lowkey being efficient. As efficient as is possible from me!

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Well, some things don't change

Now to you: How are you? Read anything amazing since 2016 started? What do you think of my blog design?

Books to Survive High School

The moment that I had confirmed my university course, I knew I could wipe my high school slate. And I was glad.

High school is a test and no one knows what their outcome is. For me, it was 60% torture zone and 40% learning experience. And that is me trying to be glass half full. Nevertheless, I’m out, and have no parole to face, so let’s not point fingers at the bullies and mull over the what-ifs.

Instead, before I enter my next 3 years of impromptu plans and adventures, I need to thank a few books I read, my allies and pillars during the last 4 years.

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1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Adjusting in a new environment and new people is tough and that is exactly what I felt when I started high school. So when Wonder came by, I was glad someone could relate.

2. Smart by Kim Slater

Smart is one of my favourite books ever. It shows you that you can work towards your goal despite all the obstacles and that was all the motivation I need.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

When I finished reading Fangirl, I knew I wasn’t alone with my introvert, socially-anxious behaviour. Yes, parts of the book annoyed me but by the end, it left a good feeling.

4. Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Grief and loss. We’ve all gone through it but doesn’t it feel magnified into a 100 when you’re a teenager and trying to make sense of the world? This book gave me company through that time.

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5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Holy smoking fantasy! I was blown away by Marrakesh and Karou’s hair and Brimstone and revenge wishes and, AND, everything!

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I’ve never felt more inspired than when I read this book. This was the book that made me get into photography because of all the captivating visuals it described.
7. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I reread this book 6 times in the past 2 years. The OT5, the family and subtle double meanings were all I needed. The escapism was real!

8. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I was in the same position as Mac was, having lost a family member and being able to reasonate to her was helpful. Also, the world building. I will never get over it.

9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam

I only read the first book in the series but that was enough. I was stunned by its brilliance and the clever humor. Also, space. If this doesn’t get you through high school, I don’t know what will.

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10. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

I reread the series in 9th grade and the book are like coming home. Comforting and bewitched with plot twists that make you forget about homework (too many times).
finWhat books helped you through high school and through rough times? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

A summery read that doesn’t skim on the issues or the diversity.

Author: Sarah Ockler

Genre: Contemporary | Romance

Release Date: 2 June 2015

Publication: Simon Pulse

Pages: 368 pages

Link: Goodreads

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.


The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a diverse read (as seen on its cover). Despite its light, summer reads qualities, it had some substantial issues to tackle without really making them a big deal.

On Goodreads, I saw a string of 5 stars attached to most reviews and I get why this book is widely adored. Below are moments when I felt that this book deserved a higher rating-

1. When Ockler took a tired-out stereotype (the charming playboy) and made it work in a direction she paved out herself.
2. This book is sex positive without making it the main focus.
3. Despite Elyse being mute, her interaction with the other characters was visible in her struggle to get them to understand her. Moments like those made sure that her difficulty in adjusting to her condition was not lost.
4. There are a lot of phrases through which, you can see Elyse learning to wipe off the loss and the grief and trying to understand where she is and how she should proceed.

Anger was easier to hold, to focus on, than grief. Anger was sharp edged and clear. Grief was messy, blurry.

Also, the book has some good advice to shell out if you’re listening.

There’s no weakness in crying, Meredith. Only illumination.

Some days, you win the battle just by showing up.

And some interesting questions to speculate over.

What happened when the one thing you loved, the song of your soul, was taken from you? What pieces of your old life were you left with, and how could you begin to put them back together

Is the Devil Really in the Details?

Despite all those highlights, I had a problem with the details that were spread across. In the beginning of the book, there’s a lot of details, very minute details that don’t seem relevant, to weave through. Reading through that, I felt my interest wavering.
Similarly, there are lots of moments in this book where Elyse is rambling on without any point.

Retelling Or Not?

The book has been emphasised as a Little Mermaid retelling. It certainly is an unusual retelling, without any magic and just a little speculation/ talk about the mermaids.

There was one scene which looked like it was included just to add some of the fairytale’s charm. It didn’t fit at all since it had fantasy elements(just that scene) and didn’t go with the rest of the story at all.

Verdict

Despite a few hitches, the book had a lot of depth and that set it apart from the rest of the romance novels on this side of YA. Despite some parts that fell flat, I enjoyed Chasing Mermaids and now have the urge to visit the Oregon coast and Trindad and Tobago.

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What are your thoughts on this book? How do feel about fairytales being retold in a contemporary romance? Is the magic lost when the magic isn’t really there?