Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My in-person book club’s pick back in January, and I was so sad to miss that meeting thanks to a sick child. The book was compelling, and it seemed like it would lend itself to a fascinating discussion.

There’s a bit more to enjoy about the book if you’re familiar with 80’s pop culture – movies, music, and video games especially. While I was alive for all of the 80’s, I was either too young to be aware of some of the items, or too sheltered (or a mix). I know I missed some of the references, but I had fun asking my husband about them.

That said, you don’t need to be familiar with 80’s pop culture to enjoy the book, or even be a fan of science fiction. It was a fascinating look at a society that I hope isn’t in our future. Wade was an appealing main character, and if you listen to the audio version, Wil Wheaton is fantastic at narrating the story.

Thinking of it for a book club?

It’s also fantastic as a book club discussion book, or so my book club friends tell me. I’m told the discussion was so rich it could have filled a second meeting. It’s also one that’s easy to recommend for readers who don’t usually read science fiction. Our book club likes to expand our typical reading choices, but not so far that no one wants to read the book. Ready Player One worked well for that!

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

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Station Eleven (and a linkup!)

Station ElevenI am a post-apocalyptic wimp. I had to force myself to get through Emily St. John Mandel’s Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and it’s not because the book is poorly written. Her writing is beautiful, and the story compelling. Too compelling for me, as I get anxious when reading about civilization collapsing and find myself wanting to go stockpile food and learn about survival techniques.

I did better with the book once the storyline moved past the immediate the-world-is-imploding moments and it was either clearly before the collapse or after. Something about the time right as it’s happening gets to me. 😉

Fortunately for everyone in the Facebook group who wanted to discuss the book, they didn’t have to wait on me to finish it (I was so late with this one), as there was a guest facilitator. And the discussions were wonderful – lots of interesting perspectives on the book, and post-apocalyptic literature in general.

It’s hard to give a rating to this sort of book. It’s a 5-star read in many ways – the writing, the characters, how thought-provoking it is. And yet because it’s so hard for me to read this genre it feels wrong in some ways for me to give it a 5 star rating. Those are reserved for the books I LOVE, so even though I can acknowledge that it’s a fabulous book, I think I have to only give it 4 stars.

So, go! Read this book, unless you’re a goofball like me who then feels the need to start hoarding all the survival items I can think of. And even then, you might still read it because it is a great book, and I just have issues.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on Empire of the Summer MoonEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne on May 9th – I’m starting it a week later because it’s a slower read (and I need time to finish). There will be a linkup for posts relating to the book on May 31st.


If you’ve written a post about Station Eleven, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Introducing April’s Book Club Selection: Station Eleven

Station ElevenThis month’s book for our Facebook book club is Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel by Emily St. John Mandel.

What It’s About

Excerpt from Goodreads:

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Why Was This Title Selected

It’s gotten some glowing reviews, and I wanted to feature a Science Fiction book this year. This seemed like an accessible one that wasn’t the start of a series.

Anything Else to Know About It?

It was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2014, and won or was nominated for a slew of other awards.

It’s available in print, for Kindle, and on Audible

Discussion about the book is starting soon, but you’ve still got time to track it down and join us as we’ll continue it all month.

What’s Coming Up in May?

Empire of the Summer MoonLooking ahead to next month we’ll be reading and discussing Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne by S. C. Gwynne. It’s available in Print, for Kindle, or on Audible. And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

This is nonfiction, so it may be a slower read than our two recent fiction books – so keep that in mind if you need to start it sooner to be ready for the discussion.

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

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When We Wake by Karen Healey

When We WakeWhen We WakeWhen We Wake by Karen Healey by Karen Healey

Somewhat intriguing story but at times it felt more like a lecture than a novel. I’m not a huge dystopian fan, and this title is a little too dystopian-esque for me. Future society, the world is in peril, teen girl who just wants to live a normal life but has to save the world from some evil adults, etc. etc. The book is littered with cliches and cardboard characters, and despite the cliffhanger ending to tempt you into grabbing the sequel, While We RunWhile We Run by Karen Healey, I’m not inspired to read more.

After I draft a review, I often then go and read other reviews of a book, mostly for curiosity’s sake (do others agree with my take on the book?). I always feel a little bit of “yes! It wasn’t just me!” when something that’s bugged me about a book turns up frequently in other reviews. In this case, what I referred to as a “lecture” others rightly noted is a preachy take on politics and religion. It didn’t bother me as much as it did some others, but it was annoyingly heavy-handed, even when I was agreeing with her about parts of it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

Book Details

Title: When We WakeWhen We Wake by Karen Healey
Author: Karen Healey
Category: Young Adult Science Fiction
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: I Need Some Help Here by Kathi Lipp
Two years ago: A Change of Plans, and Some News

The Martian by Andy Weir

The MartianThe MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir by Andy Weir

Not my usual sort of book, but it’s gotten rave reviews both online and in person, so I had to give it a try.

Unwisely, I began the book after putting my children to bed. “I’ll just give it a try and see if I like the author’s style” I told myself.

Several hours later (and way past my bedtime) I finished the book and finally could put it down. I paid for that the next day, but even though I kept telling myself to stop reading! Go to bed! I couldn’t – I had to know what happened next.

I’ve read enough books on writing that I recognized some of what the author was doing to keep the reader’s attention, but it never pulled me out of the story and kept me from reading; instead I found myself admiring at how well he kept the tension high, kept my interest and all but forced me to keep reading.

A heads-up: there is a fair amount of cursing in the book, so it’s not one I’d listen to if little ears could overhear. And if you’re sensitive to language you may want to skip this one.

I’m still not a full-fledged science fiction fan, but clearly I can be persuaded by the right book. And this was the right book.

The next question is: will I see the movie when it releases next month? Perhaps…

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Book Details

Title: The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
Author: Andy Weir
Category: Fiction / Science Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Most Memorable Books

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's GameEnder’s GameEnder's Game (The Ender Quintet) by Orson Scott Card by Orson Scott Card

I’ve been telling myself for years that I should read this one in my attempts to branch out a bit and try new genres. Science Fiction isn’t my favorite (although I did find a series last year that I enjoyed) and this seemed like a good one to try, as it’s a classic and multiple award-winner.

And it was ok. I finished it quickly as I wanted to find out how it all wrapped up, but it’s the first in a quintet, and I have no real desire to read any more in the series.

Many of my complaints with it are probably directly connected to the genre, so it’s a bit unfair of me to be annoyed at the book for what it is. I’m just not the best reader for a book so focused on this sort of thing. The battlerooms and details of tactics bored me, as did the descriptions of Ender as commander. Whoops, that might be a spoiler but I can’t imagine anyone reading it didn’t know that he was going to become the commander he was being trained to be. I mean, where would the book have been if he didn’t?

It’s also surprisingly brutal at times, in a way that had me cringing. I know why it is, but that doesn’t mean I want to read it. The fact that my son is fairly close in age to Ender’s when the book began doesn’t help much either – I kept imagining my “baby” in those situations and it was heart-wrenching.

No, I wasn’t much of a fan, but if you do like science fiction don’t let me put you off trying this one if you already haven’t. If like me, you also dislike most science fiction, I don’t think this one will convert you.

Publisher’s Description:
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut–young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Book Details

Title: Ender’s GameEnder's Game (The Ender Quintet) by Orson Scott Card
Author: Orson Scott Card
Category: Science Fiction
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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Honor’s Knight (Book 2, Paradox Series)

Honor's KnightHonor’s KnightHonor's Knight (Paradox) by Rachel Bach by Rachel Bach

I loved book one in Bach’s Paradox series, Fortune’s Pawn, so I was eager to continue with Devi’s story.

That story gets even more complicated and dangerous in this installment. Bach excels at pacing – there is lots of action, but it never gets out of control – and at upping the stakes for Devi at every turn. Even though I know that’s what she’s doing from a technical standpoint, I still found myself wondering how on earth she’d resolve things. And unfortunately I’m still wondering, as there’s another book left to come!

While I preferred the first book (and saying the main reason why might be a spoiler for it and/or this one), Honor’s Knight was still really fun, and I’m anxious to discover how the story concludes in the final book, as I wait impatiently for my turn at the library. Recommended for science fiction fans, but please read Fortune’s Pawn first – things won’t make much sense otherwise, and you’ll miss out on a lot of the enjoyment in discovering what’s going on as Devi does.

Publisher’s Description:
The rollicking sequel to Fortune’s Pawn — an action packed science fiction novel.

Devi Morris has a lot of problems. And not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either.

After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she’s determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi’s not actually looking for it — trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she’s supposed to hate.

But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there’s worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.

Book Details

Title: Honor’s KnightHonor's Knight (Paradox) by Rachel Bach
Author: Rachel Bach
Category: Science Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Fortune’s Pawn (Book 1, Paradox Series)

œFortune's Pawn (Paradox Book 1) by Rachel BachFortune’s PawnFortune's Pawn (Paradox Book 1) by Rachel Bach by Rachel Bach

My love for fantasy has been mentioned on the site before, along with my general disinterest in science fiction. What finally persuaded me to give a sci-fi series a try again? Having it be written by the author of a fantasy series I really enjoyed, of course. Rachel Bach is the science fiction pen name of Rachel Aaron, the fantasy author.

If all science fiction were as enjoyable for this one, I’d be a firm convert to the genre. I loved the main character, I liked the plot, and it avoided the annoyances that have turned me off from the genre in the past. Specifically, I appreciated that the book didn’t emphasize the physical attributes of every female character introduced. And while there was fighting, that didn’t feel like the only thing that ever happened. Finally, the technology wasn’t described in endless, tedious detail. I don’t care how these things are supposed to be able to happen – I don’t even care if some of the things described are impossible by the laws of physics. 🙂

There are two more books in the series, and I’m hoping I like them as much as the first. I’ve got book #2 waiting for me on my Kindle, and book #3 comes out later this month. Love that I can finish the series without having to wait and wait and wait for them all to be published!

Publisher’s Description:
Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.(

Book Details

Title: Fortune’s PawnFortune's Pawn (Paradox Book 1) by Rachel Bach
Author: Rachel Bach
Category: Fiction / Science Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

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