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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First Lines Fridays: June 9th

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!

 


I remember being born.

In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart’s staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me. I was safe. 


 

 

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

 

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

16054806What it’s about:

In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

(Cover links to goodreads)

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


This book has been on my TBR so long I can’t even remember where I heard about it first. I’m guessing either booktube or booklr, but I’m really not sure. Anyway, the gorgeous cover and dragons caught my attention right away, and I’m hoping to maybe read it soon(ish).


Have you read it? What did you think of it?

 

T5W: Favorite SFF Cover Art

top-5-wednesday

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.

 

May 3rd: Favorite SFF Cover Art *Booktube SFF Awards Crossover Topic*
— Show off some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy cover art!

 

Ok, this was too hard, so I decided to narrow my options down to only covers for 2017 releases. There are just too many amazing SFF covers out there, and even narrowing it down to just this year’s releases was a little hard.

In no particular order, as usual…


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A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab–love all the Shades of Magic covers, but I think this one might be my favorite of the three.

 

 

 

 

 

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UK cover

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US cover

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor– I couldn’t help but add this one to the list ❤ I love both the US and UK covers, and now that I have a copy, I’m almost wishing I’d ordered the UK edition instead because of the blue edged pages. I’m envious of everyone who has that edition.

 

 

 

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27 Hours by Tristina Wright– I’m not even exactly sure what it is that I love about this cover, but oh well, it made the list. This is also one of my most anticipated books for the second half of the year.

(Expected publication: October 3rd, 2017)

 

 

 

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US cover

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UK cover

Caraval by Stephanie Garber– I just love it. I’m pretty sure even my husband said he liked this book’s cover, and he rarely comments on that kind of thing. While I love the UK edition, I think I like the US just a tiny bit more, and if I buy it, that’s the one I’ll get.

 

 

 

 

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember– This is one of my most anticipated 2017 releases and I absolutely adore the cover! Look at it! I can’t wait to see it in person ❤

(It’s coming out May 4th, AKA tomorrow!)

 

 


What are some of your favorite SFF covers?

 

First Lines Fridays: April 28th

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!

 


“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.


 

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

 

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Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

8475505What it’s about:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


This book has been on my TBR since before it came out, but I still haven’t read it. I bought it at least a year ago and I think this was the first time I even opened it :/ Oops. I thought this sounded interesting, in the funny and cute kind of way, I just never got around to reading it because I forgot I owned it. (How many times can I say “oops” before it gets annoying?) Maybe I’ll bump this up my TBR a bit because I feel like I’m getting into a reading slump, and cute, easy books usually help me get out of them.


Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Top 5 Wednesday: SFF Books On My TBR

top-5-wednesday

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 5th: Top SFF Books on Your TBR *Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic!*
–Talk about the science fiction and fantasy books you want to read ASAP!

 

This topic was so hard because I read so much fantasy, and I’m trying to get into more sci-fi. I basically just chose 5 books at random by scanning my shelves and thinking about which ones made me feel the most excitement.


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#5: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline– This one isn’t actually on my shelf yet, but I’ve wanted to read it for a very long time and I’m getting a copy ASAP.

 

 

 

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#4: Vicious by V.E. Schwab– I’ve only read the Shades of Magic series, but I actually bought Vicious before they came out…and I still haven’t read it 😮 I know, it’s awful! But I kept hoping for a sequel so I could binge read them!

 

 

 

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#3: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco– This book had me at the cover, and then sealed my interest when I read the word “necromancy” in the description. So excited!

 

 

 

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#2: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor– *cue inhuman screeching* I feel like I’ve been waiting a million years for this one.

 

 

 

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#1: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff– Yep, it’s on my shelf and I still haven’t read it. Why? Because I’m hoping the next book will be released this autumn and I want to have to wait the least amount of time possible between finishing Gemina and getting my hands on the next one.

 

 


What are some SFF books you’re dying to read ASAP?

 

First Lines Friday

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!

 


“There’s a big difference between death threats and love letters–even if the person writing the death threats still claims to actually love you. Of course, considering I once tried to kill someone I loved, maybe I had no right to judge.


 

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

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Spirit Bound (book 5 in the Vampire Academy series) by Richelle Mead

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Ok, I’m not actually going to give the synopsis for this book, because spoilers! But, here’s what the Vampire Academy books are basically about:

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess (Moroi are basically vampires that are alive, can use elemental magic, and aren’t evil), and her best friend Rose Hathaway is a hot headed, short tempered Dhampir (basically half human, half vampire). Dhampir’s are trained to be guardians of Moroi, and Lissa and Rose are set on Rose being Lissa’s guardian when they graduate. Why do the Moroi need protection? Well, the Strigoi (like the undead vamps we all know about) seem particularly keen on killing off (or turning) the Moroi royals, and Lissa is one they’re really fixated on getting their fangs on. There’s plenty of drama, action, forbidden romance, heartbreak, betrayal, and more in this series, so don’t let the cringe-worthy original covers fool you like they did me. The books are way better than the covers make them seem 😉

Check out the series on goodreads


Have you read the Vampire Academy series? What did you think of them?

Must Read Monday

must-read-mondays

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When I read it:
I’ve read it at least 3 or 4 times.

Genres: ya; fantasy

Recommended for: If you like the sound of a magical fantasy set in the Victorian era with a secret magical order, young women rebelling against what society expects of them in whatever ways they can manage, female friendships that feel real, and wonderful writing and storytelling, I recommend this!

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

 


What it’s about:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy—jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order.


I still remember when this book was published, because it was way back when I was in middle or early high school and I first read about it in some teen magazine I was subscribed to. The cover was the first thing that caught my attention, and I then spent about a year trying to actually find a copy. When I finally did find it in a store, I actually attracted stares and embarrassed my grandma (who had taken me to the bookstore) because I gasped and squealed and clutched it to my chest.

I still have to fight the urge to react that way when I see a copy in a store, because this is one of my favorite books, ever. Over the last 13ish years, I’ve read this book again and again, and I always love it. I love the whole trilogy, but this first book stole my heart, and often my breath, and I try to get everyone to read it. This is kind of weird maybe, but I knew I was going to love it when I flipped it open and found an excerpt from one of my favorite poems in the first pages (“The Lady of Shallot” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson).

Libba Bray’s writing is amazing, her characters are so well developed, the relationships feel real, and it’s just a really great story, in my opinion. There’s magic, adventure, a bit of romance, strong female characters, and so much more! I highly recommend this book (and the other two in the trilogy).


Have you read it? What did you think?