Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Book Review

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s been a while since I did a formal structured review and I’d like to work though my thoughts on this book. (For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.)

I devoured Ready Player One in record speed (for me) and despite being addictive, I’ve got mixed feelings.

**Warning Spoilers**

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Characters

I liked

I greatly enjoyed the characters of Halliday and Ogden. They were obviously based off of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with more than a little Gandalf thrown in for fun.

I liked the over the top villain Sorrento. True mustache twirling baddy, who pulled no punches and didn’t do anything particularly stupid.

I didn’t like

Any of the main characters. The main character was a whiny undereducated obsessive with an extremely unhealthy crush. The love interest was a fantasy geek girl who had similar interests to the main character. She was a wilting flower embarrassed by her appearance and in the end enamoured with the protagonist’s ability to look past it. There was also the token 80’s obsession with the honorable Japanese characters.

The only character that could have been interesting was Aech. Unfortunately what could have been a source of tension and actual character growth was tacked on at the end to show that the main character is an okay guy.

Each character is a stereotype of 80’s movies, tv, and books. I’m not sure if this was intentional but it certainly wasn’t effective at creating well developed or relatable characters. Add in the odd transphobic, sexist, or homophobic comments and I really didn’t like these characters.

For characters, I give it 1 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The book suffered from the biggest strength and weakness of the first person narrative. It’s biggest strength is urgency and quick pacing.

The author was great at referencing nostalgia without needing to explain it. The world building was well executed.

The word and sentence construction was perfectly balanced in the exciting bits.

I didn’t like

The biggest weakness of a first person narrative is the narrator. If a reader doesn’t like the main character, it hurts the book, which leads authors to give their characters super-powers that either make no sense or are too convenient. In this case the character had perfect luck and the ability to play any classic video game at an expert level.

For writing style, I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

I liked

I absolutely loved the puzzles and the quest. It was a perfect combination of trivia and classic MacGuffin hunt. The nostalgia was pretty well done and it actually informed the story instead of controlling it.

I didn’t like

It was predictable. It was a classic MacGuffin quest. I could tell you all the notes it would hit and how it would end by the end of the first act.

The nostalgia was awesome but at some parts I wanted to move on with the story not hear more about John Hugh.

I give the story 3 out of 5

Fun

I liked

The world and puzzles were fantastic. Both of them drove the plot and the interest. The author did a great job of capturing and referencing the feel and excitement of 80’s nostalgia. The excitement of the hunt was expressed in such a way to make me feel the same need to continue. It’s the mark of an author who really knows how to excite their audience.

I didn’t like

The characters and plot were predictable. The love story was painfully bad and partially toxic. I hate the “demure woman who is obsessed with her appearance” trope. As in all 80’s media where they tried to have a love interest that was the equal to the character, she was better qualified then he was in every way to win the contest.

I give it 4 out of 5 for fun

Overall

This is a fun and quick book with quite a few problems. Its thick slathering of nostalgia, exciting puzzle game, and interesting world are the only things that saves it from a weak 80’s quest with weaker 80’s character tropes.

Final score is 60%

Parasomnia Cover Reveal and Pre-Order

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

A lot of work goes into a book cover, especially if the author has input and is picky. This cover took a lot of work from the wonderful Caro at Renaissance Press and I think it looks great.

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At the Aux-Anges Institute, nestled in the woods outside of North Bay, they study and treat parasomnias, or sleep disorders. Ashley suffers from night terrors, Terrance sleepwalks, Kiri sleep-eats, and Paul sets fires; they are there for treatment. Adelaide took the job as a counselor to discover why she still has an imaginary friend.

When they discover the secret hideout of an old club called the Dreamers, they are shocked to find that the five of them are connected through more than just the Institute.

You can Pre-Order the book from Renaissance Press’s Website. 

The book will hopefully have a few early copies ready for Montreal’s Queer Between the Covers.

What do you think of the cover?

Later days,

Éric

Éric’s 2017 Resolution – Mid-Year Review

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last December I set forth some pretty optimistic goals for this year’s resolutions. Let’s see how well I’ve done so far.

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1. Write 3000 words a week. (Ongoing)

I have not been accomplishing this… unfortunately. I’ll continue to try in the months ahead.

2. Complete The Copper Tarnish by March. (Failed)

The more I wrote the less I liked this novella and so in the end I’m shelving it and I plan on re-writing it someday in the future.

3. Start the next Elizabeth Investigates. (Ongoing)

The Hound of Baker Ville was supposed to be the next Elizabeth book I write, but the more I plotted, the more I realized it fit better as book 6. Now I can add a bunch of reveals and twists that will make it so much more exciting.

I still plan on starting book 4, which will be called The Mystery of the Dancing Lights. It’ll be a summer camp novel in two different time periods where we’ll learn more about Jackie’s father’s youth.

4. Read 30 books. (Ongoing)

At half way through the year I’m at 13 books. Only a few behind. Lots of time to catch up.

5. Write a Monthly Serial Story. (Ongoing)

So far so good. I have 5 episodes done and the sixth will be on Thursday (hopefully).

You can start reading at Part 1 of Database of the Ageless Kings here.

6. Test, Produce, and Develop 2 new coffee flavours. (Succeeded)

Both Green Apple and Marshmallow have been great successes. Yum!

7. Playtest the new content for FADDS and get it ready for submission in 2018. (Ongoing)

I’ve been casually editing it and adding a little more to the powers. I’m looking at hopefully a September playtest.

8. Continue to ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs. (Ongoing)

So far so good, we’ve been through sickness, vacations, baby stuff, and now me going back to work and stayed true to our five day schedule. Yay us!

10. Prepare A Case of Synchronicity submission to my publisher and Everdome for pitches at Can-Con. (Ongoing)

I’m currently editing Everdome and have finished about a third of it. I think a few good days and it’ll be ready for the Alpha-Reader/Weditor. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it out to 2-4 beta readers before Can-Con at the end of September.

A Case of Synchronicity,  or book 3 of Elizabeth, has been through beta readers and needs another pass before it’s ready for submission, but I think this will be a late November or December job.


So far not bad; only 1 failure is pretty good by me. Maybe I’ll beat my 65% success rate from two years ago.

I’m not adding anything this year. Normally I would add some, but the next 6 months are going to be a crazy marathon of stuff. It’ll be a challenge to get everything done on this list.

How are you doing on your resolutions?

Éric

Collecting, Space, and Nests

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

We here at Books End have a serious collecting problem. Books, Movies, Disney Infinity, Statues, Lego, Books, Autographs, and Books.

Once you’ve accepted that you have a problem, you can start work on organizing and displaying. Our friends and family have often laughed at us when they see we’ve moved an entire room around. We do it in a hunt for efficiency, how to best fit everything in the room that we want and not look like hoarders.

What happens when we don’t have optimal organization? Nests! These are piles of things that have no home. It starts with a simple, “I’ll just leave this here for now until I find it’s place.” and ends in a massive pile of stuff. We ignore it until I finally crack and go on a cleaning binge.

Often when this happens we need to find new. cheap, and innovative ways of organizing. Make fun of us if you will, but IKEA is an amazing place to get organized for cheap.

It’s also a lot of fun to look around, play, and waste a few hours. Not a store to go to if you can’t handle browsing.

Nice chat, I have some books to go organize.

Later Days.

Éric

Éric’s 2017 Resolutions

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

On Tuesday I reviewed my 2016 Resolutions. I managed to finish 60% of my goals, which is pretty good. This year I have 10 resolutions and I’m hoping, as always, to complete them all.

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1. Write 3000 words a week.

In years past, I’ve said 500 words a day. The importance for me is to write as often as I can. This 3000 will include books, stories, and blog posts.

2. Complete The Copper Tarnish by March

I’d like to finish The Copper Tarnish as soon as I can. I’m not sure if I’ll be submitting this book or not, but I’d like to finish it and see what I think.

3. Start the next Elizabeth Investigates

I really want to start The Hound of Baker Ville. I’ve been thinking about it for three years and it’s time to return to Baker City, Ontario.

4. Read 30 books

I failed at this last year but I was close. Let’s see if I can do it this year.

5. Write a Monthly Serial Story

This is going to be the fourth year for serial stories and I think I’m getting better at it. The goal is to write 800-1200 words every month without preplanning the story. Just letting it go where my mind wants.

Help me out and vote for the 2017 Serial Story – You Vote, I Write.

6. Test, Produce, and Develop 2 new coffee flavours.

The tough part will be not doing more. But we’ll be doing a lot of conventions and I want to give each flavour a chance to shine.

7. Playtest the new content for FADDS and get it ready for submission in 2018

I still have a lot of editing to do on the system, and with the new content it’ll take some time. Hopefully I’ll get to it and be able to shop it out in 2018.

8. Continue to ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs.

We’ve been going for four years now with content every weekday on JenEric Designs and I’m very proud of that. Jen and I have worked hard not to miss a day. A big thank you to all the guest posters on Fandom Travel and Blush when Keladry was born!

I’ll do my best to ensure we keep that streak going.

I also want to look into making a separate page for EricDesmarais.ca

10. Prepare A Case of Synchronicity submission to my publisher and Everdome for pitches at Can-Con

I have a lot of cleaning up to do in both novels, but it’ll be nice to revisit them and clean them up. If I decide that I’ll be pitching The Copper Tarnish, I’ll want to do that one also.


This years resolutions are skewed towards writing and are extremely ambitious but I’m okay with that.

What resolutions have you set for yourselves for 2017?
Éric

Éric Desmarais

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At Can-Con over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, we had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Éric Desmarais (FacebookTwitter, website) is one of those. He is a young adult urban fantasy/mystery author published by Renaissance Press (Twitter, website), and incredibly amazing to talk to! You can meet him at the Mega-Multi-Author Launch happening Oct 29, 2016.

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Fandom Guest Post: Canadian Lit Goes South!

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Kevin T. Johns (website, Twitter) is an author, podcaster, writing coach, and ghostwriter residing in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and three daughters.

Kevin grew up reading comic books, watching horror movies, and playing guitar in punk rock bands.

He attended Carleton University where he attained a double-major undergraduate degree in English Literature and Film studies and Master’s Degree in English Literature.

He has published five books, ghostwritten several more, and helped hundreds of writers from around the world get their ideas out of their heads, onto the page, and into readers hands.


On October 29th, I’ll be releasing my latest novel, a young adult action thriller titled M School.

M School is about Lilith Delaney, a 17-year-old girl who is recruited into a secret training facility for teenage assassins. (You can check out the book trailer here.)

As I created the novel, I wanted the M School facility to feel like truly exotic environment for the reader. It couldn’t just be a regular school building or a skyscraper in some urban center. It needed to be something different, something strange, and possibly threatening…

Ultimately, I decided to make M school an underwater facility, hidden beneath an oil rig, somewhere out in the Atlantic Ocean.

While much of the story in M School takes place within the underwater facility, I also wanted there to also be several sequences set in a tropical jungle environment. As such, I created an island fairly close to the rig. In addition, I knew that later in the story, Lilith was going to leave the facility, arrive on a beach, and then make her way to a nearby city where she would catch a bus home.

Now, as a Canadian writer, a tropical environment just ain’t going to happen in my country, so the demands of the narrative meant it was time to take my story south!

I pulled up the ol’ Google map and started looking for a very specific real world setting: a beach/resort community in the South Eastern United States, with a city big enough for a bus station nearby.

After some searching, I found my perfect location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

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Pone Vedra Beach, Florida. Image from www.destination360.com

Ponte Vedra is a high income tourist community with long sand beaches, orange roofed resorts, and lots of golf courses. It’s positioned about 30 kilometres from the city of Jacksonville.

In other words, perfect for my novel!

As someone who has written his fair share of Canadian stories with chilly winds and falling snow, it was exciting to get to set a portion of my book in Florida.

The more I imagined the bright sun, warm sand, and flowing ocean waves, the more I wanted to not just write about it, but actually hop on a plane and live it!

If you are considering a Florida vacation, I suggest working with Jen to check out Ponte Vedra!

And if you are looking for a great book to bring along with you for some beach reading, make sure you grab a copy of M School later this month! If you get on the early notification list now, I’ll send you an email and let you know as soon as it goes on sale.


If you are interested in booking a trip south, you can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca