Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The whole world is thrown into chaos following the fossil fuel exhaustion and subsequent wars. In the wake of this destruction, humanity seeks solace in the OASIS – a massive virtual reality video game – created by James Donovan Halliday (aka Anorak), stereotypical geeky-nerdy-sociopathic uber genius. He passes away bequeathing his legacy to whoever cracks the bunch of ‘easter eggs’ he’s placed in the OASIS. This book is about a handful of people trying to find the eggs before evil-immoral-corrupt-multinational corporation takes over humanity’s only relief (!). Basically, your typical, garden variety, David vs Goliath story, albeit it is hidden under layers and layers of obscure eighties movie/music/video game trivia.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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First things first. I am not really an 80’s kid.

I haven’t even heard about Atari until a few years ago. Even as an adult, I am not too fond of video games (especially first person shooting games). My first memory of playing a video game was when I was about ten years old. I remember a group of similar aged cousins (including yours truly) huddled over a nintendo console taking turns playing two player games (as our play time was strictly rationed and we did whatever we could to get more out of it). I vaguely recollect some of the names such as Elevator Action, Contra, Donkey Kong and City connection.

To put it simply, I wasn’t as fond of the 80’s America as the author was. Hence, most (read, almost all) references in the book went over my head. Honestly, I haven’t watched even a single movie referenced in the books and most of the music, I haven’t even heard about them before reading this book. Half way into the book, I realised that I’m not really interested in knowing about them. The first few times, I took the effort to google them but after a while, I stopped caring.

In spite of all this, I found this book to be an average read. It has an okay story and average characters. I would like to commend the author for not giving into the urge to include the quintessential (and stereotypical) tech geek of Indian origin (though there a couple of Japanese people involved).

The author does not pay as much attention to describing the real world as much as he did on describing the OASIS universe (yup, it is a Rubik’s cube shaped universe which has planets and asteroids and spaceships and stuff). We only get to know a bit about the Stacks, where Wade lives initially and a glimpse of the paradise that is Ogden Marrow’s sprawling mansion. Cline mentions that the real world fell into ruin with the fossil fuel crisis but doesn’t really explain how the other stuff is powered. For example, the protagonist Wade has this cool hamster ball thingy to simulate movements when he is logged in to the OASIS but we never find out where the electricity to power it comes from.

Also, most of the plot feels like a bunch of happy coincidences – Wade’s time at the IOI as an indentured tech support, Wade’s extra life from the Pacman game, Morrow’s help during the climax – the list goes on. And Ogden Morrow’s birthday party – I am not sure why that particular episode was placed in the book in the first place, except as a sorry excuse background scene to introduce some kind of obscure romantic tension and misunderstanding between Parzival and Art3mis.

Last word – Pick up the book only if you
(a) have a thing for 80’s American movie/music/video games
(b) have a lot of time to kill and nothing else to do

Either ways, you will not be disappointed. Much.

P.S. This is one of those books where I’d come to know of the movie before the book. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but I’ve heard that it departs considerably from the book’s plot and for the better. So, if you have watched the movie, do share your thoughts on it.

Until next time,
Cheerio =]

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The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

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Synopsis:

The story begins, as always, with a hesitant client, a fine arts dealer who is being tailed by a demon from his past. It quickly spirals down the rabbit hole with the brutal murder of the latest addition to the Baker Street Irregulars, a locked up Sherlock Holmes and help from unexpected quarters. Will the legendary detective save the day or will the truth be too much, too appalling, even for him?

I am a big time fan of Sherlock (both the series and the actor (DROOL!!)). But long before that, I was a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his consulting detective. The Complete Sherlock Holmes was one of the first books I’d bought with my own money once I started earning. I have extremely fond memories of reading that book – on boring bus rides, stolen moments during lunch breaks, during an interminable team meeting – you get the idea.

So, it wasn’t much longer after that that I started actively seeking Sherlock Holmes spinoffs and reboots. There were quite a lot of books and I devoured whatever I could find at that time. Horowitz’s The House of Silk is inarguably one of the best among them. He was officially chosen by Arthur Conan Doyle Estate to pen this book, and he did not disappoint. It is not a spinoff but follows along the lines of the original novels. But, to me, it felt much faster paced (though not in a bad way) without compromising on the writing style.

Bottomline, if you are a fan of the celebrated detective, you have to read this book. You will enjoy everything about this book especially a cameo by a well known character from the Holmesian universe (I cannot say anymore than this, though I’m dying too, without giving out spoilers). If you are a lover of the mystery/thriller genre, I urge you to pick this book. You will not be disappointed.

Books that almost made it:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Kaavya Vishwanathan

 

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This post was written for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018. To know more about the challenge visit their website here. You can find my theme reveal post for the challenge here.

My other posts for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018:

Theme Reveal

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Deep Storm (Jeremy Logan series #1) by Lincoln Child

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

Feet of Clay (City Watch #3) by Sir Terry Pratchett

Goodreads.com – My favourite book companion

Goodreads.com – My favourite book companion

Please note: This is not a sponsored post. I was browsing through my Goodreads shelf in vain as I couldn’t find any good books starting with G, when the idea struck me out of the blue – why not write about Goodreads itself. I genuinely like website and hence the glowing review and recommendation.

Social media – you can love it, you can hate it, but there is no escaping it. So, why not just join the ride? And Goodreads is like Facebook for bibliophiles.

I discovered the Goodreads site over 5 years back when I was fresh out of college. I had just started earning and I felt like I had so much money that I could buy the whole library. But my monthly bank statement (and house rent and travel expenses) stepped in to give me a reality check. I had to spend my money wisely; but splurging on books does not count right? Sadly, my employer agreed to disagree with me and my balance remained woefully low.

Then came the big question – what to buy and what not to buy? Luckily, by that time, I had found Goodreads. And it felt like suddenly a whole new world was opened to me. I was able to find people, whose taste in books I admired, more easily than ever before. I could actually have a reading list I can access on the go and not just jot down book names at the back of my notebook (or the palm of my hand, whichever was closer at that moment). The book recommendations and reviews helped a lot in trimming my shopping cart and expanding my reading list.

As time passed by, my Goodreads usage increased exponentially. I use the site extensively all day every day to this day. To give an idea, over the past few days, I had about 10 different Goodreads tabs opened at any given point of time. The Goodreads Android app is quite good as well and I’m sure the iOS counterpart is equally good. Also, there is a neat little WordPress widget which integrates quite well with my blog and displays my virtual bookshelves.

If you use a Kindle e-reader, then more happy news for you. You can sync your Goodreads account with your device. From there, you can directly update your reading progress, look for recommendations and browse for other books. I believe you can also buy books in a similar fashion but I am yet to try it.

Are you a Goodreads user or do you use any similar book tracking apps/websites? Do let me know!

 

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This post was written for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018. To know more about the challenge visit their website here. You can find my theme reveal post for the challenge here.

My other posts for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018:

Theme Reveal

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Deep Storm (Jeremy Logan series #1) by Lincoln Child

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

Feet of Clay (City Watch #3) by Sir Terry Pratchett

 

Feet of Clay (City Watch #3) by Sir Terry Pratchett

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Synopsis:

If X stabs Y with a knife, who would you throw in prison – X or the knife? Replace X with the Ankh-Morpork’s nobility, Y with the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork and the knife with a golem king and you have a surprisingly socially conscious novel starring the legendary Sam Vimes, Carrot (and other assorted watchmen) of the Ankh-Morpork’s reluctant City Watch.

I adore Sir Terry. I still have tears in my eyes when I read his final tweets. So, when I drew up the list of books to include in this challenge, I was stumped as to which one of his books I should choose. I could have taken the easy way out and selected one book for each series.

But I chose not to. After lots of thought (and more thought and some more), I finally decided to go with the City Watch series. Why? Because, unlike his other protagonists, the Watchmen (at least in the first book) are plain vanilla human. Just. Like. Us.

I always believed that the only way to redeem this world was to use magic. But Sam Vimes showed me that you do not need be nobility (or have fancy shoes) to save the world. Carrot showed me that you can just be a thing without life (or voice) and still matter. Lady Sybil showed me that you can be a lady (or a SAHM) and still raise dragons in your backyard. Nobby showed me that noble and uncouth aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Feet of Clay is the third book in the City Watch series and 19th in the overall Discworld universe. You can read this novel as a standalone but I would highly recommend that you read the series in order as each book adds an extra layer to its characters. And also, you might want to read them all, simply because, all the books are quite enjoyable.

Left to myself, I can go on and on (and on…) about Sir Terry and his Discworld, but I take pity on you dear reader and stop my ramblings at this point. Now, please go pick up this book and let me know what you think of it (of course, you will love it!).

Books that almost made it:

  • Five point someone by Chetan Bhagat

 

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This post was written for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018. To know more about the challenge visit their website here. You can find my theme reveal post for the challenge here.

My other posts for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018:

Theme Reveal

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Deep Storm (Jeremy Logan series #1) by Lincoln Child

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

 

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

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Synopsis:

The year is 1985 and in the real world, books and literature spawn gang wars and riots that there is a whole department of Special Operatives (aka SpecOps) besides the regular police force known as Literary Detectives (aka LiteraTecs) who oversee literary disputes. It is in such a world that LiteraTec Thursday Next discovers that she can ‘jump’ into books at will, a power she had had since childhood. During a raid gone wrong, Thursday is saved from certain death by a mysterious stranger whom she later deduces to be Edward Fairfax Rochester (of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre). So, how can she sit idle knowing of Mr Rochester’s sad ending when Jane leaves him after discovering his tragic past and secret first marriage?

At this point, it must be reasonably clear that I love books. And by extension, I love books about books. The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is just that. The protagonist Miss Next is a literary detective who can jump into the universe of the book she is reading! I’ve always wondered what kind of super power I would choose and I’d stopped wondering right after I found Thursday Next and Miss Haversham (yes, the very same from Great Expectations).

Fair warning – each book in the series builds on the previous book and sometimes there are cyclic dependencies. So, I would suggest that you read the books in order. Or if you are looking for some adventure, read as I did – start with the last book of the series, realise that you are enjoying it despite not getting a few inside jokes (and plotlines) and then go back and read the series in order.

I must admit that the series lost steam somewhere along the middle (in the sixth book of the series to be exact). I gave up midway on One of our Thursdays is but I intend to pick it up quite soon seeing how much I enjoyed re-reading The Eyre Affair for this post.

So, if you love meta books, you will enjoy the Thursday Next series (or at least more than half of it seeing as how I’ve only read six and a half of the seven books).

 

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This post was written for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018. To know more about the challenge visit their website here. You can find my theme reveal post for the challenge here.

My other posts for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018:

Theme Reveal

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Deep Storm (Jeremy Logan series #1) by Lincoln Child

Deep Storm (Jeremy Logan Series #1) by Lincoln Child

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Synopsis:

Dr Peter Crane is recruited by Dr Howard Asher to investigate a mysterious illness aboard the oil rig Storm King. Upon arriving, Crane learns that the rig is just a cover for a huge underwater facility codenamed Deep Storm, which has claimed to unearthed the lost city of Atlantis, and is currently in the control of the US Military. Crane is further perplexed by the myriad of symptoms exhibited by the crew and struggles to find a common denominator. What follows is a whirlwind ride involving alien sentinels, eerily spike brain waves, american zealots and a weapon storage facility beyond human comprehension.

Full disclosure: This book is on this list only for the emotional value it holds for me.

I read this book way back during the winter of 2016. And when I sat down to write the first draft of this post, I could only vaguely recollect something about the plot of this book. Not an exaggeration but I could not remember the name of even a single character from this book. But, I was at a bad place in my life during said winter and this book helped me drown it all for a little while.

So, I re-read it and did find the book quite enjoyable the second time around as well. Lincoln Child is better known for his Agent Pendergast series (which he co-authored with Douglas Preston), but I’m not a huge fan of creature features (which the first book of the series, Relic, sounded to be) and hence gave it a miss. Also, Deep Storm is the first novel in Child’s Jeremy Logan series. However, the protagonist of this book is clearly Dr Peter Crane. Jeremy Logan just makes a brief appearance in this one and I’m guessing that he is one of the main characters in the second book, namely, Terminal Freeze (which, again, I’d given as miss as it sounded like a creature feature).

Bottom line – do reach out for this book if you are a conspiracy buff. It is a fast paced read and you have to suspend disbelief only just so.

Books that almost made it:

  • Deception Point by Dan Brown
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
  • The Domain Trilogy by Steve Alten

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This post was written for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018. To know more about the challenge visit their website here. You can find my theme reveal post for the challenge here.

My other posts for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018:

Theme Reveal

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

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Synopsis:

Set in an alternate universe where humans and cyborgs walk the earth and there is a whole kingdom up on the moon complete with an evil queen and mutant soldiers. Relationship between the moon and earth is turbulent and it is upto young prince Kai to save the day. Said prince meets mechanic Cinder and invites her to a ball! Meanwhile, there is a plague rampant on earth. Evil queen dangles cure in front of young prince and floats an offer for marriage.

If you are wondering why exactly you have to read a fairy tale retelling, I have two words for you – Cyborg Cinderella! The premise of this book was so intriguing that I had to read it right away; and disappoint me, it did not. Do not be put off by my (ridiculous sounding) synopsis. If you like fairy tales/sci fi/dystopian fiction, you have to give this book a try.

There are four books (and a few novellas) in this series. It is also one of those rare series where each book is (mostly) better than its predecessor. You might not miss much if you don’t read the novellas, but i suggest you read the novels in order as they are not meant to be standalones.

Books that almost made it:

  • Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

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This post was written for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018. To know more about the challenge visit their website here. You can find my theme reveal post for the challenge here.

My other posts for the April #AtoZChallenge 2018:

Theme Reveal

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty