Book Review: Analee, In Real Life

annalee in real lifeAnalee, In Real Life
by Janelle Milanes
Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary Fiction
400 pages
Published September 2018

I picked this one up because of the mention of the online roleplaying game. Somewhat disappointingly, the book spends almost no time actually in the game. We’re told that Analee used to escape into the game all the time, but in the book itself we see her putting aside the game for “real life”, over and over again. I was expecting her to be more reluctant to leave it.

That aside, this is a great YA book about adjusting to changes in family life and social pressures at school. The clique and rumor mill and popular kids are all there, with Analee on the outside – until she agrees to fake-date Seb. We watch as she goes from being invisible to being known at school, and how that affects her.

Analee’s also dealing with the impending wedding of her dad and his girlfriend, two years after Analee’s mother died, and all the emotions that brings up.

It’s a cute YA book, with a lot of character development, but the part of it that drew me didn’t get as much screen-time as I was expecting, so it just wasn’t really my cup of tea.

From the cover of Analee, In Real Life:

Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything that real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner in crime, Xolkar – aka a teen boy named Harris, whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

Book Review: Before the Storm

before the storm

World of Warcraft: Before the Storm
by Christie Golden
Video Game Tie-in/Fantasy
281 pages
Published June 2018

Christie Golden has written several World of Warcraft novels by now, including my favorite, Tides of War, about my lady Jaina Proudmoore. (I should mention my main is a human mage, so I am obviously biased toward the Alliance, and Jaina is my girl.) So when I heard she was writing the newest one, I was quite excited. Before the Storm was released in June, as part of the lead-up to the newest expansion of World of Warcraft, which drops in mid-August. It covers events that happen after the storyline of the current expansion, but before the storyline picks up in the next. There is not, however, much of an introduction, so if you’re not familiar with the video game, this book will lose you pretty much immediately.

Anduin became the King of Stormwind in the beginning of the last expansion, when his father died fighting the Legion. (RIP, Varian, you were pretty awesome.) As prince, Anduin often advocated for peace, often sneaking around and finding backchannels to communicate with like-minded people among The Horde, most notably Baine Bloodhoof, the high chieftain of the Tauren. As King, he’s continued to advocate for peace, but a bit more openly. Unfortunately, the leader of the Horde doesn’t necessarily feel the same way.

I loved Anduin’s scheme to foster understanding between the Forsaken and humans. I especially loved that it included Old Emma, who has been wandering around Stormwind in game for years. That’s actually something I love about the novels in general; often they’ll take those small, flavorful NPCs and actually give us the backstory, or use them in some new manner.

I also really loved the Goblin/Gnome pair who were tinkering with the Azerite, and I’m a little upset at the cliffhanger we left on in regards to them! Hopefully that will be resolved in the game itself.

I thought it interesting that the book still showed the priests working together as one, and the shamans and druids doing similarly. The shamans and druids have always done that to a point; not every shaman was part of the Earthen Ring, but the druids have always worked together regardless of faction. But if the classes are still being cohesive, why are the factions fighting? That’s 3 out of 12 classes still working cross-faction. Mages, also, have a strong cross-faction tradition. If a quarter to a third of the populace are working together, why are we still fighting? I suppose it’s probably technically smaller than a quarter; civilians and NPC soldiers don’t have classes, so they probably outnumber those with them. So perhaps it’s still a small minority, despite what we see as players. Sylvanus goading her own people doesn’t exactly help.

Anyway. I loved this book, I thought it set us up for Battle For Azeroth quite nicely, I’m eager to see what a certain surprising character from the book ultimately does, and I’m looking forward to release day!

From the cover of Before The Storm:

Azeroth’s reckoning has begun.

Azeroth is dying.

The Horde and the Alliance defeated the demonic Burning Legion, but a dire catastrophe is unfolding deep below the surface of the world. There is a mortal wound in the heart of Azeroth, struck by the sword of the fallen titan Sargeras in a final act of cruelty.

For Anduin Wrynn, king of Stormwind, and Sylvanus Windrunner, warchief of the Horde and queen of the Forsaken, there is little time to rebuild what remains, and even less to mourn what was lost. Azeroth’s devastating wound has revealed a mysterious mineral known as Azerite. In the right hands, this strange golden substance is capable of incredible feats of creation; in the wrong ones, it could bring forth unthinkable destruction.

As Alliance and Horde forces race to uncover the secrets of Azerite and heal the wounded world, Anduin enacts a desperate plan aimed at forging a lasting peace between the factions. Azerite jeopardizes the balance of power, and so Anduin must gain the trust of Sylvanus. But the Dark Lady ever has her own machinations.

For peace to be possible, generations of bloodshed and hatred must be put to rest. But there are truths that neither side is willing to accept and ambitions they are loath to relinquish. As Alliance and Horde alike grasp for the Azerite’s power, their simmering conflict threatens to reignite all-out war – a war that would spell doom for Azeroth.

Library Loot and Book Mail

lady trent within sanctuary of wingsHappy Fourth of July to those from the US! Today is our Independence Day, which is normally celebrated with cookouts and a ton of fireworks. I, however, have errands to run before leaving town tomorrow morning, so I have no special plans.

I only picked up a few books from the library this week, but they’re good ones! The fifth book of Lady Trent’s Memoirs came in, so I can finish the series and write up a full series review. Her explorations in the Victorian era of her world, learning about dragons, have been fascinating!

her body and other partiesI also got Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, off my Wronged Women List, and The Pisces, from my Summer Reading List.

More exciting than my library books this week is the package I got in the mail from Book Riot! I finally won one of their giveaways, and it was a doozy! The University of Iowa Press was giving away Fan Culture Studies bundles, and I won one! The bundle consists of three books: Everybody Hurts – Transitions, Endings, and Resurrections in Fan Cultures, On the Origin of Superheroes, and Gaming Masculinity – Trolls, Fake Geeks & the Gendered Battle for Online Culture. All three of these are extremely relevant to my interests as a geeky gamer girl, so I’m VERY excited about these! I thought they were going to take much longer to get here – I only found out I won last week – so I was shocked to get them on Saturday! University of Iowa Press appears to have several more books in this category, so I might be spending a bit of money there soon!

I leave early tomorrow for AnthroCon, where I will be busy selling masks instead of reading, unfortunately! I’ll still be having a blast, though. (And if you coincidentally happen to be at the Con, come say hi, we’re hard to miss!)

Friday 56 – Before The Storm

before the stormThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

Today’s quote is from Before The Storm, the latest World of Warcraft novel. (Yes, I play. In fact I have a max-level character of every class….I really love this world!)

“Mind if we have a bit of company?” Moira asked as they rose and left the table.

“Of course; anyone you like.”

The queen spoke quietly with one of the guards, who nodded and stepped out. A few minutes later, he returned, escorting a little dwarf boy. The child’s skin was an unusual but appealingly warm shade of gray. His eyes were large and green, holding no hint of the red glow common to the Dark Iron dwarves, and his hair was white. Anduin knew at once who it had to be: Moira’s son, Magni Bronzebeard’s grandson, and the heir to the throne, Prince Dagran.

The book largely centers on Anduin, the King of Stormwind and head of the Alliance. He used to be my Prince, and now he’s my King. (RIP Varian, you will be missed.) I’ve always adored Anduin, so to read a book mostly centered on him was a pleasure. Full review will be coming up sometime in July – by August 12 at the latest!

*****

Aside from the Friday 56, today is my amazing husband’s birthday! He turns 29 today, and I adore him just as much as I did when we met, 14 years ago. Happy Birthday, love!