Librarian’s review: Warcross


Warcross by Marie Lu is a fun read that reminded me in many ways of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter catching people who bet illegally on the virtual reality game Warcross. That is, until she hacks herself in to the opening ceremony of the Warcross Championship. Next thing she knows she’s working for the enigmatic creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka, to catch a sinister hacker who has been causing trouble in the Warcross universe.

I often find myself unfortunately good at predicting plot twists. That being said, this book actually managed to have a twist I didn’t see coming. There were still some reveals I did anticipate but I really appreciated that I didn’t feel like I knew everything before it happened.

Overall, I give it 4 stars, although, I probably would have gone with 3 stars if not for Lu’s success in hiding her twist.

By Alli G.



Quietly the light it gathers

slowly comes the start of day

tranquillized and peaceful forces

gradual trail from eastward way

Pastels of colors carefully formed

and crystal moons in the rising sky

through which direction wind is blowing

every sound echoes softly by

Independent, cherished gold

soulful, touching through beauty’s eyes

there is waking on the Earth

welcoming the warmth of the sunrise

-3344marigold, 2017





Sonnet No. 1 – The Fighting Sonnet (Part Four)



“Thy face itself, it puts me in a rage.

I must hold myself back with all my might,

Or else I’d call thee out right up on a stage.”

The bard looked up a few lines in and found Oswalt staring up at her in confusion, brow furrowed as if he were angry but wasn’t sure why.

“What is it about thee that irks me so?

Am I the only person who can see?

Now, foul wretch, prepare thyself for a blow,

For here comes a smackdown for thee, from me.”

Oswalt’s face had turned an unpleasant color like a raspberry a few stages past ripe. “How dare you call me a wretch?” He lunged at the bard, but she skipped backwards out of his grasp and continued.

“Thou art devil spawn, a child of Satan,

Horrid, ancient evil straight from scripture.

Thou would not be loved by gods most pagan;

Of things corrupt, thou’d be the victor.”

The towering man roared senselessly, scrabbling at the rock before him in an attempt to reach the bard. She hoped desperately that the mage would make his move soon, because she only had two lines left.

“I shall not call you out by thy crude name,

Return to the depths from whence thee – “

There was a bright flash, and then Oswalt’s roars were cut off abruptly. The silence was so complete that the bard could hear creaking, like that of falling tree, as Oswalt keeled over, revealing the slight frame of the mage.

” – came,” the bard finished, eyes wide. She grinned at the mage, who lowered his upraised hand and returned the grin with one of his own. Folding the sonnet up and stuffing it in her pocket, the bard dropped off the boulder and crouched to peer at the fallen giant. “Wow. What did you do to him?”

“Just a stunning spell amplified by three.” The mage stared down at his hands as if taken aback by his own power.

“He’ll be fine if we leave him? I mean, he was trying to harm us, but I don’t want him to be eaten by wolves or anything like that.”

“I imagine Oswalt will be awake before dusk has totally fallen, but just in case . . .” The mage flicked his wrist, and a few specks of light floated down from his fingers to Oswalt. “There. A simple protection spell.”

Still beaming, the bard turned to the mage and held up a palm. “We took this guy out. Teamwork for the win!”

The mage high-fived her. “Yeah, that was pretty awesome. And speaking of teamwork . . . we should probably fetch our other team member.”

They turned away from Oswalt and began to walk to where the mage had hidden the warrior.

“Do you think Oswalt will come after us again?” the bard asked.

The mage shook his head. “No, I think he’s finally learned not to mess with us.”

A voice came from the grass a few yards away, startling the bard. “Because you don’t mess with the Three Musketeers if you know what’s good for you!”

The mage led the bard off the path to where the warrior was curled up like a fawn in the grass. He grinned up at his companions, eyelids fluttering under the weight of sleep.

“I’m pretty sure that name has already been taken,” the bard told him. She bent to help the warrior clamber to his feet. “But I bet that between the three of us, we can come up with something just as catchy.”

“That should be a task to keep you awake for a few more hours, right?” the mage teased. “We need to reach Kulreach before nightfall if we want to stay on schedule.”

“I’ll give it . . .” The warrior blinked sleepily. “. . . two hours before you two are outright carrying me. . .”

With the warrior stumbling between the mage and the bard, the three companions retrieved their belongings and picked up their journey right where they had left off. But the bard, though she did not yet know it, had only just started her own journey into using words as weapons of her own.


The Darkest Part of the Forest (Book Review)

In a clearing, in the forest lays a glass coffin with a beautiful creature inside. On and on this person sleeps, never waking no matter what anyone does.

Think you know this story, huh? Think again.

The coffin contains a boy with horns and pointed ears. The things that haven’t awakened him include kisses from local teenagers, hard blows to the coffin with a sledgehammer, and loud, raucous parties with girls dancing on top to tunes blaring out of their iPods.

Welcome to Fairfold, a town where the lines between what we’d call fantasy and reality are blurred. A town where the Folk, as fairies are called, fill the forest and occasionally play nasty tricks on the human residents and visitors. Where sometimes the fairies will fulfill a wish or a blessing, but always with dire consequences.

Enter Hazel and Ben, brother and sister who have spent their whole lives in Fairfold. They know how to run the forest paths, know every inch of the stream and hills, know all the stories and secrets of their hometown.

These two have a few secrets of their own. Years ago, after Ben had been blessed by a fairy woman and could play music that enchanted humans and Folk alike, the pair decided to become monster hunters to protect tourists and townsfolk from the creatures that crawled the woods. Hazel longed to become a knight and would become one, in a way, when she pledged seven years of her life to the fairy king in exchange for a music scholarship for her brother.

Now the coffin has broken, and the boy is gone. Hazel is losing track of time, and when she wakes in the mornings, she her body is bruised and battered, her clothes and feet covered with mud. Acorns with secret messages fill her pockets, and her beloved sword is missing.

What is going on? Who freed the fairy boy, and what will this mean for the town of Fairfold?

For the answers to those questions and more, read The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

The Other Wes Moore (Book Review)


Baltimore in the 1970s was a rough place. Around every corner were gangs of drug dealers and thieves, and the word murder was commonly used as much as it was committed. Growing up was especially hard for Wes, whose father had died when he was very young. Later on in his life, Wes learned that there was another man who grew up not far from himself, who shared his name. But their fates went in the opposite direction. Both boys had a troubled childhood. The other Wes was fatherless as well, and both battled moving and bad friendships. Friendships that led the other Wes to becoming a drug dealer in his early teens, and eventually taking part in a robbery and murder of a police officer. Both got in trouble with the police. Wes had trouble at academic school, and his mother eventually sent him off to military school. Finally finding his place and respect, Wes graduated from John Hopkins University and became a Rhodes Scholar. Both Wes’ were in the same situation. So how did their paths lead in completely opposite directions? Wes was so fascinated by this, he decided to visit the other Wes in Prison and find out more. Maybe it was because the other Wes grew up without an older man to be his role model. Or maybe it was his neighborhoods in his early life. But in the Novel The Other Wes Moore, written by Wes Moore, Wes finds out “the chilling truth that his story could have been mine. And the tragedy that my story could have been his.”

I would rate this book 5/5 stars for its depth and moral. A story may begin with a struggle, but you can still stand strong and become a great person. Because of certain language and content, my age recommendation is 13+. But of course, a mature reader below that age is welcome to read it if they see fit.


Sonnet No. 1 – The Fighting Sonnet (Part Three)


“Ooo, a performance!” The warrior laughed delightedly. “Break a leg!”

“Or don’t,” the mage advised, and then the two disappeared into the gently rustling stalks of grass.

The bard rummaged through the mage’s bag for another moment before finding what she had been searching for – a crumpled, worn piece of paper. “Here we go . . .” she muttered under her breath, unfolding the paper and squinting at the words scrawled across it in purple and black ink. “Oh, yeah. This is perfect.”

What she held in her hands was not a spell of any kind, though a grimoire would certainly have been helpful (the mage would be a lot more useful if he had a way of guiding and expanding his talent). It was a sonnet of her own making from before she knew much about the form. Thus, it was certainly not the best she had ever written, but she believed – or at least hoped – that it would properly enrage the giant Oswalt.

At that point, Oswalt was quickly drawing nearer to the bard. When the warrior had originally caught sight of the man, he had been perhaps 500 yards away; now, the distance had shrunk to 100 yards. The bard realized that she did not want to face Oswalt on level ground. Projecting her voice would be easier from an elevated surface . . . and the man wouldn’t be able to step on her and squash her like a bug. So, she kicked her and her companions’ supplies into the grass where it would be hidden and set off down the path the way from which they had come, searching for a cluster of rocks she’d seen a few yards back.

Once Oswalt the Enormous Viking Man had finally caught up to the bard, she was sitting crosslegged on a medium-sized boulder that reached above the man’s shoulders. The bard gave him a bored look as if she’d been waiting for a long time. “There you are. I was beginning to wonder if you had gotten lost.”

The man stared at her flatly from the shadows of his helmet. In a voice that was nearly subsonic, he growled, “Where are they?”

“I think I know who you’re talking about, but you might have to be a bit more specific.” She imagined that the warrior would be rather proud of her for being sarcastic even in the face of this terrifying giant, who looked as though he could snap a full-grown tree like it was a twig.

“The one who can throw light and the golden one with the sword and the attitude.” Oswalt shifted from foot to foot, much like a bull would before charging. “Tell me where they are.”

“Oh, yes. They wanted me to give you a message.” The bard rose to her feet and shook out the piece of paper she held to unfold it. “Of course, being a bard, I had to take some creative liberties. So be aware that while the words are mine, the meaning behind them is one hundred percent from my two companions.”

“I have no time for this,” the man thundered. He took a step back, shielding his eyes with a forearm; the bard had wisely positioned herself so the sun was at her back. “I am not interested in your games.”

“This isn’t a game,” the bard retorted, seeming rather offended. “One might even argue that it’s a work of art. Just let me read it to you. Then I’ll tell you where they are.” She held the paper up, and in a clear, strong voice, read out her fighting sonnet.

“Good sir, I must ask: dost thou wish to fight?”