Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It has been such a long time since I picked up a book I couldn’t put down. This was definitely one of those books!

My friend gave me this book as a birthday gift this year thinking it’d be a good fit for me based on my love of YA novels, dystopians, and all things nerdy. Boy did he hit the nail on the head.

ready-player-one-paperback-cover

Ready Player One is set in the very near future of 2044. The world has basically gone to crap, and the only form of escapism comes from a game console called the OASIS. Not only does the majority of humanity escape the depression of the real world playing in the virtual world, but they also get their education and go to work there as well.

James Halliday was a teenager in the 1980’s, and so was forever obsessed with the video games and pop culture nerdery that defined the decade. He was also the guy that created the OASIS game. When he died, he left a message for the world that there was an Easter egg hidden in the OASIS ready for whoever was worthy to find it, and once they did they would inherit his massive fortune, which includes gaining control of the virtual world itself.

The protagonist, Wade – aka Parzival, has life about as bad as anyone can. His parents are dead and he’s stuck living with an aunt that doesn’t care for him much…I wonder if he ever felt a kinship with Harry Potter? They live in stacks of trailers. The world is so crappy in 2044 that trailers are literally stacked one on top of the other. So like most people living in this bleak dystopian future of ours, he jumped at the chance to try to find the Easter egg and win millions of dollars to make all his dreams come true.

The OASIS is so large that people make real world money and it even has an actual government. Because of this, there is a scary greedy crazy mega corporation that will stop at nothing to find the egg and gain control of the OASIS. They make for some really terrifying antagonists, especially when they blew up Wade’s trailer stack.

This book is full of all sorts of 80’s nostalgia. I was born in 1984 so I don’t remember a whole lot about the 80’s, but some of my favorite movies came from the 80’s. It’s also full of all things video games/sci-fi/and fantasy nerdery. Being a major nerd myself, I couldn’t get enough of all the geeky mentions.

This has been one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. I’m definitely interested to see how they pull off the movie adaptation. The fun thing is that Stephen Spieberg is set to direct it, and there were several nods to him and his movies throughout the book. How meta!

And now for the crochet!

I knew pretty early on in the book that I absolutely had to crochet Pac-Man. Not only is it up there in video game history, but there is also a scene in the book dedicated to the game.

I found the instructions here, I just didn’t make it 3D.

pacman

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 7 books down, 43 to go
9gag’s Reading Challenge – A book with a number in the title
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Has anyone read this book? What did you think? Looking forward to the movie? Wish I’d stop asking so many questions? Wondering if I’m going to stop after this one? Yeah, I guess I will.

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Raylan by Elmore Leonard

One of the books from the 9gag Reading Challenge is to read a book set in your hometown. I sort of grew up back and forth between two small towns in Kentucky, but I was born in Harlan, Kentucky, and my dad stayed there when my parents divorced so I was in and out of Harlan all through my childhood.

Harlan is a really tiny town with a population of less than 2,000. Really nothing of note happens there other than closing coal mines and a drug problem spiraling out of control. Probably no one outside of the hills of Eastern Kentucky ever heard of Harlan. That is, until the channel FX began airing the show Justified, based on Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole.”

I began watching the show when it first aired in 2010 out of morbid curiosity. Why was there a show on TV about this nowhere town I grew up in hidden away from the rest of society in the “back hollers”, as they say, of the Appalachian Mountains? I admit, I was immediately hooked. Some of the actors portraying the people of Eastern Kentucky were so good I was convinced they actually plucked people out of Harlan itself and put them on TV. Sure, there were issues – for instance they would travel from Harlan to Lexington, Kentucky in about 10 minutes, when in real life that trip would be pushing about 3 hours. Regardless, it was a great show and I’m sad to see it go, as it just recently wrapped it’s final season.

So, yeah yeah stop blabbing about TV, this is supposed to be about a book right? I know, I’m getting to that. So when I saw this challenge I knew immediately I had to read Raylan by Elmore Leonard, which happens to be his last work before he passed away. This is a novel based on the show that was based on his short story. Kind of an odd circle of life.

Raylan_(novel)

Knowing how much I love the show, I was really excited to read this book. It is really nothing more than US Marshall Raylan Givens fighting the crime of Harlan, Kentucky.

The first thing I noticed while reading this was how extremely bored I was with it. I thought maybe I was having a bad day, so I put it down and came back to it the next. I continued to find myself bored with it and essentially put it down and never could bring myself to pick it back up. I made about halfway through at that point, and finally after about a month of this picked it back up and went through a marathon speed reading session to finally put myself out of the misery.

And the weird thing is I really wouldn’t even say the book is bad, per se…. just not very interesting. It might have to do with the fact that the stories were based on episodes of the show, so I really already knew the outcome to most of it. It was also more like three short stories pressed together and made into one, which left me feeling disoriented.

Now, usually I’m pretty favorable on things and go pretty easy on stuff. I liked Twilight for crying out loud, if that tells you anything. So I thought surely if I’m feeling this strongly about it the rest of the world is too. But to my surprise it has received pretty favorable reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. So maybe I’m the odd girl out on this one.

And now for the crochet!

I was so disinterested in the book that I not only had a serious lack of motivation to crochet anything from it, I also had a serious lack of motivation to write this review (I finished reading it over three weeks ago!). But I finally mustered up the nerve to try to make something, anything, just to finally get this book in my past and move on. Well I tried stars for the US Marshall badge, I did several attempts at Raylan’s signature hat… everything was a flop. So I finally give with this final version of the hat, that doesn’t look quite like I’d like it too, and definitely isn’t the right color since I don’t have any light brown yarn.

justified-olyphantpg-vertical-extralarge

raylan_hat

And there you have it. I’m so behind on reading at this point that I really fear my ability to read 50 by the end of the year. Life has been kind of crazy lately, I got a promotion at the company I work for which has come with different hours and time off, for some reason though I know it’s not true, I feel like my free time has vanished somehow! Anyway I hope to be able to make up my lost reading time, especially since my local library has a kick-ass summer reading program that is going to be starting soon.

Read –  I don’t even remember
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 6 books down, 44 to go
9gag’s Reading Challenge – A book that takes place in your hometown
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

 Has anyone else experienced this lack of motivation with a book?

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

One of the books on this year’s reading challenge is to read a book by an author with your same initials. Luckily I was able to not only find an author with my initials, but with my first name as well…huzzah! I didn’t even have to think twice running to the children’s section of the library to check out Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Actually, I read that and it’s precursor Little House in the Big Woods.

Book.littlehousebigwoodslittlehousePrairie

 

Both books were written in the early to mid 1930’s, about Laura Ingalls childhood living in the woods of Pepin, Wisconsin USA, and then later moving to a prairie in Kansas near the town of Independence. The books are written in the third person and isn’t a literal autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life, but the stories come from her childhood memories.

Being children’s books, I know I’m not the target audience, but I actually found myself enjoying the stories. These aren’t my typical go-to for entertainment either, like I’ve said in the past I’m more of a horror/sci-fi/fantasy girl myself. But there was something charming about the simplicity of the writing style, and the life they lived in the late 1800’s.

Little House in the Big Woods was mostly about life during the fall harvest and winter. Their Pa bringing in lots of meat and salting it to store all winter for food. What I found most charming was how wonderful Laura and her sister Mary felt on Christmas morning, because they each got a pair of new mittens. Period. In today’s world of iPhones and Playstations and Black Friday massacres, it’s nice to read about girls just happy with a new pair of warm mittens.

Little House on the Prairie saw the Ingalls family moving from their big woods out west to Kansas into land belonging to Native Americans, because Pa Ingalls got word that the government was opening it up for settlement. What I loved was after traveling they came to a spot that Pa decided was right where he wanted to build a house, then he went and got logs and started to do just that. Imagine people doing that today! I was really taken aback by the amount of racism in this book toward the Native Americans, especially from Ma Ingalls. Both of these books are a good reminder that things haven’t always been as they are here in the crazy 21st century.

 

And now for the crochet!

 I probably got a little too literal with my crochet item for these stories as I did with The Maze Runner, but whatever it’s only my own rules I’m following here!

littlehousechrochet3 littlehousecrochet1 littlehousecrochet2

 

There was no pattern for this “little house”, I just did rows of 15 single crochet in back loops only, at the top I tapered down decreasing at the beginning and end of each row.

 

Read –  February 10th – February 15th
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 4 books down, 46 to go (counting these as one since they were short)
9gag’s Reading ChallengeA book by an author with your same initials.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I’ve never watched the show from the 80s, has anyone else read the books or watched the show? What did you all think?

The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

Well, clearly I’m going to have to start reading faster if I’m ever going to have hope of getting through 50 books by the end of 2015. Admittedly, binge watching the entire run of Dexter with my husband the last few weeks hasn’t helped any… We are near the middle of February and I’ve just finished my 3rd book for the year, The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

I’m a sucker for YA novels. Yes, I’m in my 30s. Yes I like “grown-up” books too. But there’s always something about YA novels. Generally the ones I like are fantasy, sci-fi, or horror which are my three favorite genres. And don’t even get me started on dystopian stuff. Ever since I was 10 and watched Stephen King’s The Stand miniseries on TV I’ve been in love with these post apocalyptic settings.

The_Maze_Runner_cover

So this brings me to The Maze Runner. The main character Thomas finds himself without any memory of who he is, or even how old he is. All he knows is his name. He finds himself in a place called the Glade, a big open space completely surrounded by large walls with openings out into a massive maze. The only inhabitants of the Glade are other young boys, and they all arrived in the Glade the same way he did, missing all their memories.

Out in the maze a group of boys called Runners well, run, all day every day looking for a way to get out of the maze and back to the real world and hopefully their families. There’s also some really horrible creatures out in the maze called Greivers that everyone wants to avoid. Something is odd though, because while Thomas doesn’t remember anything, several things about the Glade seem familiar to him, and some of the other boys seem to think he’s familiar too. Things really begin to break down for the boys when a girl shows up…

I liked the mystery surrounding this story. There was clearly something up with the Glade and the maze, but none of the boys could remember anything. As the story progressed bit by bit Thomas began to piece things together. I also like when books have made up curse words and things like that, the kids here all call each other shuck faces, I may have to steal that one for myself! I’m going to start calling my friends damn muggle shuck faces…at least until someone hits me!

I thought it was a fun read, and definitely recommend to those who like YA or dystopian books.

 

Now, for the crochet!

This was probably too much of an obvious choice… but I decided to crochet a maze for this one.

MazeRunner2 MazeRunner

There was no pattern for this, I just crocheted a square of half double crochet stitches, and then slip stitched the maze free-handed on top of it.

Read – January 18th- February 10th
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 3 books down, 47 to go
9gag’s Reading ChallengeA book by an author you’ve never read before.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

I have been obsessed with the show Gilmore Girls since I first laid eyes on it. I’m not just throwing the word “obsessed” around lightly here, either. I’m talking an I’ve-actually-tried-to-talk-my-husband-into-moving-to-Connecticut level of obsession here. The fact that I’m going to be 32 in a little over a year and don’t have a well-read 16-year-old daughter, a cool wardrobe, a plucky can-do attitude, a quirky best friend named Sookie, and extremely rich parents that I want nothing to do with, is, well, frankly depressing me thinking about it!

LGSomedaySomedayMaybe

Anyway, back to the book at hand. My husband being the awesome guy that he is bought me this book authored by the Lorelai Gilmore herself, Lauren Graham, as a Christmas gift this past year. I’m going to admit, this isn’t generally my type of go-to book. Had I read the premise without the level of love and dedication that I have for Lauren Graham, I may have skipped over it completely. Normally if there isn’t a wizard, or some off planet battle, or historical vampires, or otherworldly beings, or some bleak future where we’ve all destroyed ourselves, I’m not all that interested. I know I may be glossing over what are probably perfectly wonderful books, something I’d really like to change.

Set in 1995 New York City, Someday, Someday, Maybe is the story of wanna-be actress Franny Banks. As we join Franny in her story, she’s 6 months away from the deadline she’s set herself to actually make it as an actress. If she’s not where she thinks she should be, she’s packing it all up and moving back to her simple life with simple goals and a simple career…and things aren’t looking so hot for her.

I really like the fun, fresh voice of Lauren Graham’s writing. Franny reminds me a lot of myself, she suffers from anxiety and self-doubt that I can totally relate to. The book is also broken up with Franny’s filofax entries, which basically becomes a character all its own. There are even a few passages written out as scripts are, and the has-been film student that I am and constant movie geek, I loved that extra flair!

So I’m here to say even if you find yourself leaning more toward horror, sci-fi, and fantasy like I myself do, give this book a try..someday, someday, maybe?  He-he see what I did there?

Now, for the crochet!

At first I fretted that I wouldn’t be able to crochet anything tangible from the book. The major themes of finding inner strength and courage, scripts, acting, etc didn’t really seem to lend itself to my idea of crocheting something inspired by the book. So I had decided if I couldn’t think of anything from the book itself, I’d crochet a little red jacket like the one on the cover. But, then it happened. I found my inspiration. Just as Franny has given up on herself, no job, no prospects, no love interest, no agent, nothing… she sees a red balloon.

But then I see there is a balloon, a single red balloon floating in front of the taxi, its white string just brushing the windshield, before the wind pulls it past us and it drifts up, up, up, and out of sight.
“You see that?” The cab driver says to my reflection in his rear-view mirror.
“Yeah.”
“How’d it get this far and not go pop?”

-Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

This red balloon, as Franny begins to further reflect, is a metaphor for her life…how did she get this far and not pop? I knew the red balloon was a perfect symbol for this story, and I finally had my crochet inspiration.

someday someday maybe Balloon balloon book

For this, I didn’t have a pattern, I just made it up until it looked semi-balloonish to me.

Read – January 4th – January 18th, 2015
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 2 books down, 48 to go
9gag’s Reading ChallengeA book by a female author.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?