Queens of Geek: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Last night I finished Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde and all I can say is this book is both adorable and powerful.

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinities.

It follows three friends who go to SupaCon, which is a big gathering of movie, YouTube, and television stars. These friends are moving on to college within a couple of months and this is their way of treating themselves for making it through their education. Not to mention it has been something they wanted to do for a long time as a group. Many events happen at SupaCon, leading to self-discovery, love, and beating back some demons each of them have been holding onto.

This is a dual POV book following the characters Charlie and Taylor. Charlie is a famous YouTube star who had a terrible breakup from her co-star of a recent film, Reese. She is long since over him, but she spent the last few months piecing herself back together and finding out what it means to not be tied together with her ex in the public limelight. She has to deal with fans who want to see her back together with her ex and her entertainment company that wants her to be nice to Reese for publicity. She also identifies as bisexual and there is a fantastic scene in the book where she challenges her ex about sexuality. He asks a question bisexuals get too often: how can you be bisexual when you’re dating a guy?

The answer that Charlie gives, my dear readers, is a good one. There doesn’t need to be proof of bisexuality through dating a woman. Rather, she knew she was bisexual the same way her ex knew he was straight. What I love that the author does is she constantly reinforces there is nothing wrong with being bisexual.  She has also made Charlie a strong character, not afraid of talking about her sexuality, showing her confidence, or noting her mixed race heritage.

The second character, Taylor has anxiety. Throughout this book, I constantly found myself nodding my head in agreement with the descriptions Jen gives about anxiety. Between the fears Taylor has and how she worries how other people will read her anxiety (as her being stuck up or bossy), I too have gone through similar experiences. The portrayal was honest and real and all I wanted was for Taylor to push past her anxiety and find the happiness she deserved. Taylor, an amazing well rounded character, does not only challenge stereotypes about anxiety, but also challenges fat-shaming and misconceptions about being on the spectrum. There is so much to love and learn from Taylor’s chapters as well as so much to connect with.

This isn’t a difficult or long read. It is very much fluff and friendship and feeling good after reading it. Most of the plots are predictable, but I didn’t mind. You have a solid friendship, romances to root for, and wonderful representation. From the second I picked up this book, I went yes, this is what I need to be reading.

Note: The references in the book to all things Geek are A+.

I’m giving it 5/5 SupaCon passes.

Xx

Megan

Defy The Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I was lucky to win an ARC of Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray and my goodness is this book a juicy, mind-tingling sci-fi novel. This will mainly be a spoiler free review so you don’t need to click away.

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinites

Defy The Stars is a dual POV book following Noemi, a warrior from the planet Genesis who has signed up for a suicide mission in order to buy her planet time in a war with Earth, and Abel, a one of a kind prototype mech who has started to develop a consciousness beyond its programming. The book opens up with a battle scene, giving an introduction to who Noemi is not only as a fighter but a person. The second chapter moves to Abel who has been trapped for thirty years in an abandoned spaceship. The reader is immediately aware of Abel’s internal changes, stemming from its isolation.

Note: I’m going to refer to Abel as it for now, mainly to indicate Abel is not technically human despite its growing consciousness and also to highlight Noemi’s struggle with classifying what Abel is.

A variety of mechs exists in this story, but they are programmed only to have one job: heal, fight, work, etc. Abel is a unique experiment by the creator of mechs, Burton Mansfield. There are several flashbacks in the story that indicate Abel’s difference from the other mechs – particularly how it learns new information, registers human emotion, and is favored by Mansfield.

When Abel first runs in to Noemi, I won’t say how, its initial orders are overturned by its main programming: protect the nearest human with authority. But just because Abel has its orders doesn’t mean Noemi trusts Abel or vice versa. Claudia Gray plays with the idea of if it’s possible to trust a mech and what it means for Noemi who has been fighting them in the war. There are also several questions raised about what consciousness means, where the line between human and robot is, and what happens when a robot becomes self-aware? After studying philosophy for many years in school, these questions are delightful and ones that are challenged throughout the entirety of the book.

Abel and Noemi go on an interplanetary journey, where Noemi hopes to find a way to stop the Genesis army from sacrificing their lives. While doing so, the pair of them learns about a revolutionary group that has arisen, the nature of Burton Mansfield, how complicated friendship and love are, the extent of mortality, and what can be defined as humanity.

From Abel’s POV, this is extremely interesting for it begins to understand human emotions. It recognizes the development of its neural patterns to if not mimic, feel these emotions. As much as the story is about Noemi’s quest to save her planet, it is also about her reconciling her initial judgments about Abel and the worlds she learned about through Genesis schooling. She sees the universe for what it is and gains information more valuable than any classroom could have taught her. Most importantly, she finds her faith, ironically with the help of a mech.

By the end of Defy The Stars, it’s hard to classify who or what exactly Abel is. From my perspective, I would agree with Noemi’s analysis of a soul being in Abel’s body or at least having a conscious to be more than its programming. The best thing about this book is you experience the growth of both Noemi and Abel – development that is both natural and enticing. You are rooting for them, while at the same time getting taken on a sci-fi adventure with both details and a plot that will keep you interested.

If you haven’t already considered reading this book, do it. It won’t disappoint.

Xx

Megan

 

Blood Rose Rebellion: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves. This young adult book is due out March 28th, 2017. This review will be mostly spoiler free so you don’t have to click away.

I was a bit wary when I first began reading because it is set in an old fashioned England –
think ball gowns, suitors, and noble families. These books do not always grasp me, but I kept reading because I was interested in the fantastical elements Rosalyn Eves added to the historical background of her story.

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinities

I will say there are a few things that bothered me about the book, mainly the instant inkling that the boys in Anna’s life would be love interests and the trope of one person having abilities not seen in hundreds of years. I wish that Anna experienced the world without romantic interests guiding some of her decisions, but I can also understand her desire to connect with people after having guidelines constantly pressed down on her.

Needless to say, I was swept up in Anna’s narrative, a teenage girl who is deemed barren of magic. This is a sentence that has hung over her head in a variety of ways: through her mother’s less than parental treatment of her, her sister being favored for the grace of her magic, and judgment from society. It is at the beginning of the story, when Anna disrupts her sister’s charm ceremony in order to find a husband, that all of this anger Anna harbors sets itself free.

In order to let the chaos die down, though Anna knows it is a way to get rid of her until she conforms to the expectations of a proper woman, Anna is sent to live with her Grandmama in Hungary. It is there that Anna learns a lot about the world, breaking the teachings that have circulated around her since her youth. She is also forced to grapple with questions of identity, family, and revolution. My favorite question that Anna tackles: what is one willing to sacrifice for change? Can an individual commit to a cause if it means potentially losing those they love and having people come after them?

Anna feels like a teenager, wanting to find her place in the world despite so many people telling her otherwise. She wants love. She wants change, but she also possesses fear of discovering who she might be and what she can do. She can be a bit clumsy at times, naïve at others, but these reactions never feel out of place. It is hard to have an entire world unravel, especially at a young age.

It is not just Anna that makes the story likeable. The other characters do the same. Their personalities are alive on the page and they do not all share the same views as Anna. They challenge where she came from and society as a whole. Gabor is my favorite character, hands down.

There is also the inclusion of Slavic Mythology and a history belonging to 19th century Hungary. I seriously recommend reading the acknowledgements page at the end of the book if you don’t normally. Rosalyn goes into a discussion of history and provides some sources for further reading. She blends history with magic, creating a world that does suck you in. I would say that is what makes Blood Rose Rebellion stand out from the expected and common fantasy novel.

Overall, I would give this book 4/5 charms.

Xx

Megan

This is Our Story: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Let me start off by saying this book had me hooked. I needed to know what happened, which made reading it on the commute to work very stressful. It was the kind of book that constantly tugged at my mind, drawing me towards it. I wound up having to come home and read the rest of it so I could unravel the mystery.

20170218_124756The story opens up with the death of Grant Perkins. He was out hunting with four of his friends, also known as The River Point Boys. All of them were either high or drunk and no charges have been able to be placed on either one of the boys. Being from a small town, the death of a teenager makes front page news. It draws protesters, obsessed fanatics, and deals being made behind closed doors. Throw in families with wealthy business ties and the case moves further away from being solved.

There are two point of views: the main character Kate who works for the law office that gets the Perkins case and one of The River Point Boys. You don’t know the POV of the latter until the end. Together, these perspectives create an immensely engaging story. On the one hand, you have Kate who gets herself heavily wrapped up in the murder case, desperate to find out who killed Grant Perkins – a boy who she believed to be falling for. On the other hand, you have a River Point Boy who wants to prevent the bond between his friends from severing. He also wants to make sure none of them go to jail. His goals shift as the plot thickens and his relationships are put to the test.

I haven’t read a thriller in a long time and Ashley Elston did a great job of creating tension and reward. Just when you as the reader think you may have solved the puzzle, she throws another curve-ball at you. Each of The River Point Boys have their own secrets that shatter initial thoughts about them. They become strangers in a way the mystery does.

The writing style wasn’t over the top or littered with imagery in the way some of the other books I reviewed are. Note: this is not a bad thing; I’m merely noting difference in author style and creativity. Elston utilizes a straight forward style that works with the plot. It guides you from point A to point B and so on until we reach the end.

Lastly, I enjoyed Kate as a main character. I like that most of the story is told from her perspective. We don’t get inside The River Point Boys’ heads and know everything right away. We get bits and pieces that change and get disproved. We get pieces that don’t make sense. We get glimpses of humanity within these boys. We learn an insane amount about them through the evidence used in the case and Kate’s interpretation of the evidence. Elston creates a duality between real life and personas – who The River Point Boys actually are versus how they act in order to avoid trouble. It is only through Kate that we could have had this opportunity. It allows us as readers to call into question behavior and what people do when they think no one is watching. It also shows us how desperate some people will be to cover up their mistakes.

Overall, if you’re looking for an edge of your seat read, this is it.

I’m giving it 5/5 photographs.

Xx

Megan

Caraval: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Caraval by Stephanie Garber was one of the most anticipated and talked about books of 2017. I remember it circulating around Twitter and how it was on nearly every list of upcoming books to read. Having just finished it, I wanted to discuss it in a mostly spoiler free review.

The book follows Scarlett, a woman whose arranged marriage is closely approaching. She
has been confined to the Isle of Trisda with her sister Tella at the hands of an abusive and controlling father. A letter arriving from Legend, the leader of this well known fantastical event called Caraval, invites Scarlett, her fiance and her sister to where they will be holding their next performance. It is all Scarlett has dreamed about as a girl, having written letters to Legend for most of her childhood. Now that she has given up on the dream and is on the verge of adulthood, the letters disrupt her perfectly laid out plan.

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Taken from my instagram, Written-Infinities

It is because of her impulsive sister and an unknown sailor that Scarlett is brought to Caraval. Not everything is what it seems in Caraval despite it promising magic, fun, and something that will never be forgotten. Once admitted, a guest can either choose to be a player or a watcher. Those who play have a chance at winning a prize from Legend himself. The decision to play is one that Scarlett does not make lightly and its from there the thick of the plot takes place.

I’m going to briefly mention my only negative of the book and that is Scarlett prior to her growth in the story. She is a character who is afraid of taking risks and constantly tries to uphold all the rules that made her a prisoner in her life. It can be a bit excessive and it made me not like Scarlett at first. I wanted her, as a reader, to push past her fears and do something instead of her internal thoughts being filled with the same worries over and over again. She does break away from this, which makes her narration a pleasant read, but I kept wanting to shake her. I wanted her to listen to those around her who were trying to help her do what she needed to do.

Moving past that, I was entranced by Caraval. I can’t say with a hundred percent certainty I would want to be a guest at the show, but I definitely loved reading about it. Stephanie Garber did a great job of heightening sensual perceptions in order to create the magic of Caraval. Characters feel in colors, take in people by their scents, see things with a sense of wonder. Her descriptions made me smile and I think she not only captured Caraval for the story, but she made sure her readers could picture everything too. I’m a sucker for descriptions and there was a balance between too much and not enough.

As much as this is a Fantasy story, it is also a mystery. Scarlett has to decipher a series of clues in order to get her sister back. She was stolen from her upon arriving at Caraval. You are as much of a reader as you are a detective trying to figure out what happened to Tella. Through this journey, Scarlett discovers a lot about herself and how the views she once held weren’t the best.

I enjoyed the twists that were thrown into the story, how I wasn’t sure who to trust and who Legend really was. Every time something appeared to be figured out, Stephanie Garber went, “Nope, here is a new twist.” This uncertainty is only added onto by the secondary characters who promise and offer help to Scarlett in exchange for payment. Only once is payment in this story money.

This story gave me similar feelings of awe as The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern did. I was taken to a world very different from my own and nearly everything was given a splash of magic and life. By the last two sections of the book – it is split up based on which night it is in Caraval – I couldn’t put the book down. I needed to know what happened.

Overall, I felt as if Caraval lived up to its expectations and if you haven’t picked up a copy, I suggest doing so.

It gets 4.5/5 top hats from me.

Xx

Megan

Gilded Cage: A Review

Hello Reader & Writers,

I was lucky to win an ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James from VDBookVogi. Feel free to check out their site here. This YA book is due for release on February 14th, 2017. I will keep this review mostly spoiler free, so you don’t need to close the tab.

The plot centers around two kinds of people in the world: Equals and commoners. The Equals are humans who possess magical gifts called Skill. The families that have Skill are aristocrats, who also have money, power, and seats of government. The political and social strata of the world are set up like an alternative Victorian England.

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From my instagram, Written-Infinities

In this society, the Equals are free, but commoners have to do slave years, where they work for ten years and only then are they given full benefits of society. Commoners are deemed citizens before this time, but completing slave years opens up further doors for them. My main problem with this set up was it didn’t make sense for Equals to have slaves or this set up in society when they have powers that can complete all these tasks not only quickly, but without having to exert much effort on their own behalf. In a way, it has made them lazy, some choosing to not use their Skill often at all. The Equals claim it is so they can govern, but it’s clear they can do both with how powerful the majority of them are. If anything, it makes more sense that they want to keep this divide because they feel they are better than commoners.

My other issue with the book was a lot of history  was thrown into the early chapters, making it a bit difficult to muddle through and pin down when it happened. I did complete the book, and wound up enjoying it, but that was because a lot of the history gets teased out more efficiently in the later chapters.

I was hesitant at first when I saw this book had multiple POVs. These can either work really well or wind up giving away too much or complicating the book. Vic James did a great job of balancing what she was giving away and what you as the reader were going to find out. You are able to get a glance into not only the life of commoners, but the aristocrats as well, each holding notable and different personalities. It is through these POVs that the history of the world comes together, each character having their bits of the puzzle to share.

The view points that hold most of the story are Luke’s and Abi’s, a commoner brother and sister who undergo two very separate experiences. I loved Luke for he grappled with the complications of morality versus following his family. He finds it in himself to question how things are. Abi, on the other hand, tries to use the system in order to benefit her and her family. She is the leader who tries to keep things in order, but she realizes how the picture is not always black and white. The other POVs shift between members, or those involved with, the noble Jardine family. I found myself intrigued in all of these tales too for the Jardine siblings clash with their own agendas and you have a family navigating a politically charged climate. They’re not all good people, but it is worth diving into their heads and experiences.

Once I got past the early chapters, I was hooked into the book. I wanted to learn more about the politics, what secrets the aristocratic society had, how Abi and Luke were going to make it in a world that was geared against them. By the end, I was freaking out because Vic James throws some dark stuff in there that made my jaw drop. The book makes up for the majority of its complications in the beginning through its characters and in depth glances at this unfair world. It is heavily political and deals without a lot of questions involving human worth, class divide, and corruption.

Overall, this gets 4/5 stars from me and I’m looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

Xx

Megan

History Is All You Left Me: A Review

Hello Reader & Writers,

Before I start, I want to say that this book deals with a lot of heavy themes, death being the major one. Aside from that, there are questions revolving around self-identity, guilt, love, and healing. Like the last review I did, this one will be spoiler free.

The book follows a boy named Griffin who is dealing with the loss of his ex-boyfriend, but

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinities

first love, Theo. It alternates between history (the past), and today (the present). In the history snapshots, the reader learns about how Theo and Griffin got together, their relationship, and the bumps they encounter along the way. The present focuses on Griffin trying to deal with death and not always in the best way. The only person Griffin finds who truly understands what he is going through is Theo’s boyfriend at the time of his death, Jackson.

I read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera at the end of last year and it was an emotional trip. Having heard about Adam’s new book, I expected the same, but was surprised to find out this book was much worse. I will admit I needed to take breaks while reading, because emotions were displayed so vividly that I required time to gather myself. I’ve seen a lot of reviews and responses to Adam’s book, most of them mentioning the undesirable need to cry. I didn’t cry, but I felt every emotion as if it were my own. I felt numbness and desperation and an ache in my chest.

Despite all of these emotions swirling around inside of me, I finished the book in one day. I haven’t done that in quite some time. I wasn’t able to pull away from the strength of Adam’s prose, how every sentence felt as if it belonged there, how every sentence made me feel for Griffin and the other characters involved. Adam treated the theme of death with respect; he didn’t sugarcoat it or romanticize it. Death hurts and it’s not the same journey for everyone, especially for those who are young. It is not always about “getting over it” or “moving on.”

I’m also going to award praise to the portrayal of Griffin’s OCD and compulsions. The reader learns early on that Griffin has these characteristics about him, things that even Griffin questions, especially as the book progresses. He prefers even numbers and has to stand on someone’s left whenever he is walking or sitting beside them. The uniqueness of the tale is Adam doesn’t portray OCD the way it is commonly seen – a need to be clean at all times or hyper-organization. Adam shows that OCD can manifest in other ways.

Another component of the book I enjoyed was Adam’s portrayal of sexuality. Theo defines his sexuality as liking “good people, period.” This pleased me as a reader because it opened up the conversation that sexuality doesn’t always follow a strict guideline. It isn’t always about liking just men or just women. It could come down to whoever makes you feel good, whoever you can relate to, whoever has your best interest at heart. Love is simply love and everyone experiences it differently.

This book has easily found its way onto my favorites list. It was brutally gut-wrenching, but it does not warrant an apology. Youth tends to be idolized – they cannot die or when they do it is a great tragedy. Theo’s death is a tragedy and History Is All You Left Me challenges this stereotype. It also brings up the question of how would you live your life if you knew you didn’t have much time? I found myself thinking about these questions as I read. I found myself thinking about those I loved. I found myself missing Theo, despite him being a fictional character.

Adam Silvera, I want to thank you for writing this book, for making me laugh and grieve and find hope in your story. I can only imagine what this drew out of you as a writer, being one myself. But trust me when I say, this book is everything it needs to be and more.

5/5 Puzzle Pieces for me.
(You’ll understand the reference once you read this book).

Xx

Megan