Book Review: It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett


Genres/Descriptors:
YA; Fantasy

Why I read it: I won a copy in a goodreads giveaway.

Who I’d recommend it to: If you liked the movie Knights of Badassdom, or if you think you’d like reading about LARP-ing gone wrong, check this out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (maybe 3.5 stars)

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound


Description (from goodreads):

When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure. 

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe. 
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.


Review:

I still remember when I came across the giveaway for this book on goodreads. I read the description and knew I wanted to read it, and since the Kindle edition is only $0.99, I figured even if I didn’t win a copy, I would still end up getting it.

The description reminded me a lot of Knights of Badassdom:

This movie was not amazing and awe inspiring or anything, and honestly, when I first came across it on Netflix, I was not impressed by the description. It sounded pretty stupid. And it was, in the best possible ways. Husband and I watched it together and it was a fun time. I recommend checking it out if it’s still on Netflix.

Back to the book, though…

The book didn’t blow me away, but, like Knights of Badassdom, it was a fun read. I was a little annoyed by the main (and only, I think) female character–Allison–being a newbie to all the LARPing stuff (and by the thing that finally persuaded her to go with TJ), because it felt so cliche, but honestly it could have been much worse. Allison, in the beginning, kind of served as a way for those of us who haven’t participated in stuff like this to get a quick breakdown of how it works and what the rules are, as things happened, without it being overwhelming or boring.

I appreciated that a lot because I haven’t LARP-ed before (is that even right? “LARP-ed?” sorry :/ ), but I do have a vague idea of how it works because of people I follow online. Dave Barrett didn’t really make Allison into the damsel in distress that she so easily could have been, or anything else like that, and I ended up really liking her character at times. She was pretty smart, caught on to things quickly, and the boys in her group didn’t treat her very different from each other just because she was a girl.

Things start off pretty normal and innocent, with the group assembling and getting acquainted, hearing their mission from the “king,” and setting off. At first things are just a pretty normal LARPing experience (as far as I can tell), but then all hell breaks loose. The shift from our world to the game world was not my favorite transition. It was so sudden and jarring that it broke my immersion in the story and it took a few pages for me to get back into it. Once I did, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the rest of the book. I ended up finishing this in a day during a read a thon because it’s short and fast paced.

I don’t want to talk much about what happens with the characters, and their LARP characters, because ~spoilers~ and all that, but I thought it was an interesting idea. I think we get pretty equal times getting to know most of the characters, and I liked them all well enough. I think my favorite was probably Chuck, though. I think he was the most interesting and I kind of wish this book had been longer, with more of his backstory.

What I did not know, going into this book, is that it was meant to be the first in a series. I have no idea if there ever will be a sequel or not (I hope so), but I haven’t been able to find any info about it if it’s in the works. Because it’s an opening novel, we don’t really get the whole story. There are a lot of unanswered questions at the end, including **potential spoiler alert** exactly how these kids ended up in this other world. 

This was a fun, quick, action-packed read. But, I never got very attached to any of the characters, and I think that lessened the impact of the potential danger. While I was flipping pages as quickly as I could to find out what happened next, I never felt too concerned with anyone’s fate like I did with, for example, Six of Crows.

I would definitely read the sequel, if it came out before I’d completely forgotten this first book, and I feel like this was a solid 3-4 star read (I’m giving it 3.5 and rounding up to 4). But I won’t cry if I never get to find out what happens next.

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T5W: SFF Authors On My “Auto-Buy” List

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

April 11: Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors – Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic! 
— This month’s crossover topic is your auto-buy authors that write SFF.

Ok, I’m stretching this a bit because A) I literally only have like…2? 3? authors on my “auto-buy” list in general, and B) I can’t always afford to buy books (I end up having to wait months or even years sometimes for books a lot of the time) so… We’re cheating a little.

This is my “perfect world” list, in which I have enough money at any time to be able to buy a new book, instead of having to wait for over time and stuff like that. So, these are the authors I’d probably pre-order in that scenario, and would most likely buy anything they published.

In no particular order, except the first two are already authors I just auto-buy ASAP.


V.E./Victoria Schwab– Do I need to explain? (I’m still missing 1…or 2? of her books, but I’m collecting them all, even though I’ve only read the Shades of Magic series so far.)

Leigh Bardugo– I think I still need to pick up the original Grisha short stories, maybe, but otherwise I think I own all of her books now, and I’ll probably continue to buy them.

Jim Butcher– Husband and I both love The Dresden Files, and now we’re on the hunt for his other books. So far we only have a partial collection of TDF, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass, but we’re working on it.

Gail Carriger– Ok, I’ve only read I think the first 2 or 3 of her Parasol Protectorate books, but I loved them. And the covers are ❤ so honestly I would probably buy her books just for those if the price was right. (I actually not have the entire Parasol Protectorate series for my Kindle *inhuman screeching* I’m very excited to get back into the universe.

Moïra Fowley-Doyle– I’m pretty sure she counts for this. I haven’t read Spellbook of the Lost and Found yet, but The Accident Season is a favorite of mine and she landed on my wishful auto-buy list (aka authors I will definitely buy the second I have the money). Husband, wonderful man that he is, actually picked up Spellbook for me last year shortly after it came out, but reading slumps and ARCs got in the way of me actually reading it (soooooon, though).

Laini Taylor– I’ve actually only read two of her books so far (the first two in the DOSAB trilogy), but I have the entire DOSAB trilogy and Strange the Dreamer and I honestly don’t even know what Strange is about because I just heard she was writing a new book and then bought it ASAP after it came out. (I still don’t know anything about the plot.)


I got a bit lazy this week, so no images and links. Insomnia is kind of trying to ruin my life. Fun times 😐

Honestly, this topic was so stressful for me because there are a lot of authors I still haven’t read enough from to know if they could be auto-buy-authors, and then there are the now deceased authors (looking at you in particular, Douglas Adams) whose books I already own all/most/many of (I have to get the Dirk Gently books, dang it, and The Meaning of Liff). Then of course there’s J.R.R. Tolkien. I really want nice editions of LOTR and The Hobbit, and I also want Beowulf, and…Well, everything, really. It just didn’t feel right to include them, because there’s nothing new coming out. (Well, no new creations, I guess I should say.)

Wow I’m getting rambly, so time to wrap this up… If you’re actually reading this, thank you ❤ And I’m sorry 😛


**Edit: I’m not sure if I should laugh or beat my head against a wall omg haha. I just realized I can’t count, apparently. (Actually, I had a plan, but I was so tired when I wrote this that it fell apart.) What I think I intended to do was have Victoria and Leigh as tied for the number one spot, the unquestionable two I will buy books from without even knowing anything about the book. Then the other 4. But oh well, let’s just have 6 instead of 5 this week 😛 **


Do you have any auto-buy SFF authors?

T5W: Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy (That isn’t Books)

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

March 21: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy in Other Media – Booktube SFF Awards Babbles Crossover Topic!
— This month’s babbles crossover topic involves our favorite SFF outside of books (like movies, tv shows, games, anime, etc.)

 

I thought this was going to be sooo hard, but then I decided to cheat 😛 (Seriously, I never could have narrowed it down to 5 if I didn’t.) And because I’m about to fall asleep on my laptop as I write this (and Timon–little angel that he is–is currently slapping me repeatedly in the face because he wants to go snuggle), I’m being lazy and not hunting for gifs or images this week.

I decided to not go with book adaptations (like LOTR, The Mists of Avalon, Coraline, The Princess Bride, etc.) Well, not novel adaptations, at least, because I could probably make at least a top 10 list from those :/

In no particular order, as usual…


Star Wars– It had to be on this list. Sorry if it’s too predictable, but I love it.

Doctor Who–  I haven’t seen much of the old series, but I’ve loved 9+ (and I liked Torchwood).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer– Honestly, movie or show for me. I’m pretty sure I saw the movie before it was made into a show (yeah, I’m showing my age with that one I think), but I love both.

Penny Dreadful– I waited until the whole show was on Netflix, and then binge watched it. I seriously thought my eyeballs were going to fall out because I couldn’t stop watching it, and I keep trying to get more people to watch it.

Marvel– And here we have the big cheat. The Marvel-verse is just too vast, and I couldn’t even make a top 5 from just Marvel. (I have read some Marvel comics, but I’ve definitely seen more of their shows and movies.)


What the heck, let’s cheat some more and throw in some honorable mentions…

Once Upon a Time– I’m not totally caught up on this one, and it really took a while to grow on me, but now I love it. It almost made the top 5, but my love for it is slightly less than my love for Buffy, so the movie & show nudged it down to honorable mention territory.

Disney Fairies– Specifically, my two faves are The Neverbeast and The Pirate Fairy. I don’t care if they’re kid movies (I probably would have watched them even if I didn’t have a kid), I loved these two. The others are just ok, in my opinion.

The X-Files– Does it need explanation? (Ok, so it didn’t make the main 5 because, while I loved it, I think I love other things more, now.)

Charmed– I found myself scribbling this one on my notepad of ideas and decided to keep it, even though I don’t always consider it a favorite. I have issues with some of it, but I still keep re-watching.


Alright, I admit it: this was a painfully difficult topic, and I can’t follow the rules. Oh well, I did try. I just failed.

And honestly, there were sooo many more that I crossed off because I couldn’t remember them well enough to be sure they’d still warrant a place on either list (Tru Calling, So Weird, Dead Like Me, Dark Angel, Xena…which probably should have made the list but I haven’t seen the show in like 15 years…, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bewitched, The 10th Kingdom, and on and on and on it could go). Then there are new-to-me things that I’m not sure I’m in love with yet (like Stranger Things)


What are some of your favorite SF/F in other media?

See any favorites on my list?

First Lines Fridays: January 12th

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


‘Death,’ the proprietor said clearly, showing the stone. It was a bright red ruby, multifaceted, set in a plain gold ring. It was a full carat–large for this quality. 


 

Interested? Keep scrolling to find out which book this is from.

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On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony


What it’s about:

 

When Zane shoots Death, he has to take the job, speeding over the world riding Mortis, his pale horse/limo, measuring souls for the exact balance of Good and Evil, sending each to Heaven or Hell instead of Purgatory. The new Thanatos is superbly competent, ends pain when he ends lives. But Satan is forging a trap for Luna, the woman Death loves.

Goodreads  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

 

 


I’m still not sure what I think about this one, but I have to say I’m kinda curious. I haven’t read it yet, but I think I might give it a shot after I finish some other series I own.

I have a bunch of mass markets from the ’80s (and probably at least a few from the ’70s and ’90s) and I love having them just to look at, even if I never actually get around to reading them. There’s something cheesy and funny and…something else I can’t quite name, about the covers for fantasy and sci-fi books from that time period. But especially the ’80s. I mean, just google “1980s {fantasy or sci-fi} books” and look at the covers. It’s ridiculous and wonderful 😛


Have you read it?

What do you think of older sci-fi and fantasy book covers?

Must Read Mondays: September 4th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Soulless cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: August 2013

Genres: fantasy; steampunk; paranormal; romance

Recommended for: If you haven’t read much in the steampunk genre, but you want to check it out, I recommend giving this series a shot. I would also recommend it for people who like PNR, especially if you feel like they’re all blurring together because the stories, characters, etc. are so similar.

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


I’ve only read the first two books in the Parasol Protectorate series (I think), but I really liked both of them. I read Soulless in about a day and a half (not super impressive, but it usually takes me a few days to read a book) and immediately bought the second one so I could keep reading. I’m not sure what kept me from continuing on with book 3, but it wasn’t because I’d lost interest in the series.

My experience with steampunk is limited, but I loved this as my intro to the genre and I recommend it a lot.


Have you read it? What did you think?

 

Must Read Mondays: August 28th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


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Garden Spells; links to goodreads

When I read it: July 2014

Genres: magical realism; fantasy; romance

Recommended for: If you liked the movie (or book), Practical Magic, or if you generally enjoy magical realism, check this out.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 

 


What it’s about:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.


I adored this book, and I think it was my first Sarah Addison Allen read. I actually put off reading any of her books for a while because they were compared to Practical Magic, which I liked, but didn’t love (I thought the movie was better, I’m sorry). In my opinion, Sarah Addison Allen’s books are way better and I recommend them anytime I come across someone else who enjoys magical realism.

It’s been a few years, so the specifics of this book are kind of faded in my memory, but I still think about the Waverly family all the time, and I’ll probably re-read this at some point.

 


If you’ve read this one, what did you think of it? And if you’ve read some of her other books, what’s your favorite?

 

First Lines Fridays: August 25th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

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What it’s about:

A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe. 
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
 
Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.  

After all, she was a normal American herself once.   

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. 

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.  

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. 

But Carolyn has accounted for this. 

And Carolyn has a plan. 

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


I vaguely remember when this came out, and the description hooked me enough to keep it on my radar, but I wasn’t sure enough to buy it right away. A few months ago, the Kindle edition was on sale and I grabbed it after reading a few pages in the sample. I’m still in this never-ending multi-genre slump, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to eventually getting to it.


If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it 🙂