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

Author Sitdown with Jessika Fleck

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessika Fleck, author of The Castaways due out April 3rd, 2017 from Entangled Teen.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of The Castaways:

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

Q1: Congratulations on being a debut author. It’s a great accomplishment. How does it feel?

Thank you, Megan! I’m so thrilled to be here at Written Infinities! So, how does it feel to be a debut author…? Surreal, overwhelming, exciting, chaotic, dreamy, and a lot of OMG how did I get here?! Basically, it’s a whole slew of emotions all rolled into one, but I’m mostly grateful and just trying to take it all in.

Q2: What inspired The Castaways?

The Castaways came to me in two parts. The first was about me becoming more and more aware of kids being bullied in schools, especially after a good friend’s daughter endured some serious cruelty at the hands of a group of girls and right under the noses of teachers and administrators and other students. It was heartbreaking and not right.
As I had this sort of bullying narrative playing over TheCastawaysFINAL COVERin my mind, that Halloween, we took our kids to a pumpkin patch. Of course we explored the gigantic corn maze. Now, I’ve always found corn mazes creepy-beautiful. There’s something undeniably majestic and sinister about being trapped in a field of dried out cornstalks surrounded by nothing. As I followed my daughter through the maze, encountering dead ends and turning sharp corners it hit me: what a perfect place to run away AND what if when you ran away, you ended up somewhere else? With that, an early conception of The Castaways was born.

I definitely don’t take it lightly that bullying plays a deep role in this book. I very much thought of my own daughters reading this story as I wrote it, and how they might receive it’s messages, from the more subtle just be to the more blatant finding your strength.  My hope is that kids who read Olive’s story, despite where they might fall on the bully-bullied-observer spectrum, will be inspired to stand up for what’s right and speak up for those with smaller voices.

Q3: Who’s your favorite character in the book and why?

I adore Bug. She’s that secondary character who deserves a whole, entire book for herself. I love her back story and that she’s so wise beyond her years and strong (mentally and physically) as all get out, but still a goofy, sassy kid. She’s basically my hero. I also have some serious hair envy.

Q4: What kind of reactions do you want to see from readers in regards to The Castaways?

In a perfect world, I would love readers to leave the story feeling empowered and entertained and satisfied and with a spark in their hearts to do something good for themselves and for someone else. But at the end of the day, if readers complete The Castaways content that their time reading my words was well spent and if even one person is inspired to do something kind for another, I’ll be happy.

Q5: You’re marooned on a deserted island – what are three things you would want to have on your person?

Coffee, flint (for fire to boil water for said coffee), and the complete Harry Potter collection (What? That totally counts as one thing!).

Q6: Are there any traits that you share with your main character, Olive?

I can definitely relate to the motto Just be. It’s sort of her version of You do you. I’m all for celebrating individuality and following your passions in life and respecting the inner beauty in all of us. Also, like Olive, I’m not a fan of being the center of attention… ::side-eyes calendar as my book launch event nears:: Olive and I share a love for cats. And lasagna.  Also, I’d choose the cool, spritzy Oregon coast over the heat and flatness of Texas all day long (I grew up in Texas).

Q7: What are some things (movies, books, songs etc.) that inspire you to write?

Definitely music. I’m a total sucker for lyrics. I create a playlist unique to each novel I write as well as a Pinterest board. For The Castaways I focused on a mix of music that reminded me of the beach and a sort of surfer vibe with Family of the Year, Jack Johnson, and Vance Joy, along with a folksy feel for Olive’s Texas side from artists like Noah Gundersen and Mumford and Sons, and then to youthful sounds from Alessia Cara to Ed Sheeran to Birdy. I also love finding images and quotes that apply to the story and characters. Here’s the Pin board for The Castaways: https://www.pinterest.com/jessikafleck/the-castaways/ And here’s the Spotify playlist:
https://open.spotify.com/user/1212358948/playlist/4JlRrfkbnWBwoKdoT02eI6

 Q8: Do you have plans for future books?

Yes! Amazing publishing shenanigans are afoot. My YA fantasy, THE OFFERING, is being published by Swoon Reads/Macmillan fall 2018. You can find more on that here: https://swoonreads.com/m/the-offering/ I also recently signed with literary agent Victoria Marini and we have several plans in the works. All in all, it’s a ridiculously exciting time and my writing career is in some very capable hands.

Q9: Summarize The Castaways in three words.

Oh man, this is like asking an artist to paint a picture in three strokes, lol! But, here goes… Self, Strength, and Family. ::wipes sweat from brow::

Author Bio:

Author Pic3_FleckJessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), releases 4/3/17. Her next YA novel, THE OFFERING (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) is due out in the fall, 2018. Jessika is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

To keep in touch with Jessika and to learn more about her debut book, see below:
Twitter: @jessikafleck
Instagram: @jessikafleckwriter

Once again, a big thank you to Jessika for joining me today. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

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

 

Cover Reveal for 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Hello Everyone!

*Whispers* Man, Megan has really been on top of this blogging thing, hasn’t she?

Why, yes, I have. 2017 apparently awoke some kind of crazy social media beast in me that wants to throw every book related thing out into the world. So today, I have some awesome news and that is, I will be revealing the cover for Tristina Wright’s Book, 27 Hours!

*cue screaming and fangirling because this cover is gorgeous

If you haven’t heard of this book, here is all you need to know. It will be released on October 3rd, 2017 and be the first installment of The Nightshade Saga.

Plot:

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

Where To Buy:

About the Author: 

Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and frequently got caught writing in class instead of paying attention. She enjoys worlds with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up more stories for her wombfruit, who keep life exciting and unpredictable.

Still trying to figure out the mermaid thing.

Website: http://tristinawright.com/

Snapchat: @tristinawright
Okay, so without further ado… HERE IS THE COVER!
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Isn’t it beautiful? Seriously, I can’t stop looking at it.
This is one of the books I’m most excited to read for 2017. Give me conflict and space and diversity! Definitely consider getting your hands on it because from what I heard, it does not disappoint.
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

A Little Change Can Go A Long Way

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to 2017! I am wishing everyone a happy and healthy year. I hope all of your writing, reading, and personal goals become a reality or you get closer to obtaining them. I have a few to reach myself, my biggest one being to finish my book that I started in April of last year.

Instead of making a post about resolutions or a look back on my year, I thought I would add on to my young adult series by sharing a personal story. It’s a positive one and I figured we all couldn’t go wrong with some inspiration and good vibes.

Anyone who has gone to college or experienced education in any form knows a teacher can be a big influence as to whether a class is enjoyable or miserable, despite the material. One also knows how rigid a set curriculum can be, especially when it has been repeated time and time again or contains subject matter that doesn’t feel relevant to contemporary culture. I found myself thinking that a lot as I went through an education in humanities – reading books in the romantic and medieval era. I always managed to find one or two per lecture that I liked, but I also yearned to read something current. They could be equally discussed and valued as literature from previous centuries.

It was why I was intrigued when I was signing up for classes and I saw a seminar in Young Adult and Children’s literature. With a handful of praying and violent clicking, I secured myself a spot in the class. There were only twenty spots so you could say I Hunger Gamed it out.

I didn’t know what to expect when I entered the class. I knew some freshman were assigned to read The Hunger Games or Perks of Being A Wallflower (books I highly recommend). I had no idea what upperclassmen would be assigned. It turned out that when I saw the syllabus, my hopes were instantly ignited. Some of the books on the list were Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Alice in Wonderland by  Lewis Carroll. The class experimented with picture books, graphic novels, long works, short works. My teacher did her best to not only demonstrate her love for books geared towards younger audiences, but also the different kinds of outlets that existed other than full fledged novels. She even had a guest speaker come to our class to push for diversity in literature since the numbers were not looking good.

Going to that class was always something I looked forward to because I knew the book would be worth reading and the class discussion would be alive. The class also became a therapy session, some of my peers and myself, venting issues and personal stories that remained in the classroom. It became a space that was inviting and comforting. We learned a lot about each other, but also about the variety of texts that were out there.

I was exposed to young adult books for quite a while, but for others in my class, it was their first time. They were blown away by how much creativity went into these books. I’ll use the example of Wonderstruck which was told with both full fledged illustrations and texts, the storytelling intersecting to create a cohesive children’s tale. I will also mention A Monster Calls that though had text accompanying photos would not be the same without the illustrations. The illustrations gave the story even more of a pulse. These books became the medium of which we were able to learn about the publishing world and ourselves.

My teacher had a firm belief that if children and teens were given the right books, it could make a difference in their lives and how they developed as adults. She fought for this class to be possible because she believed there needed to be more offered than standard literature classes. And my writer friends, she won, because of her passion and drive. But not only that, she made a hell of a lot of friends along the way. She was more than a teacher. She was someone who inspired, someone who challenged one’s thoughts and opened their eyes to literature.

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The reason for sharing this memory of my seminar was because just because a book is geared towards a younger audience doesn’t mean its worth suddenly goes out the window. Sometimes, we need to reawaken the kid in ourselves or maybe find something that needs maturing that we didn’t even know about. Sometimes, we need one person to show us something even if we protest or are uncertain.

Not to mention for children and teens who are struggling, a book could be the key to easing a burden, solving a problem.

So when I say I love young adult books, I think back to all the books I’ve read, but I also look back at this class that I took in college, where my mind was broadened even further and I found a teacher who understood exactly how I felt.

Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep creating.

Xx

Megan

Why You Should Read YA

Hello bloggers!

Today I present to you the second installment in my YA Series. The introductory post can be found here. However, this was not written by me, rather by a wonderful guest writer, R. K. Brainerd. She tackles the idea of why YA needs to be read and the parallels between being a teenager and literature. Without spoiling too much, I bring you the guest post!

 

Forget Why You CAN Read YA; Here’s Why You Should

pexels-photo-largeYoung Adult literature is probably the most popular genre-slash-age-group section out there today. You can find nearly any genre, theme, or issue presented in YA style, from quick, fun reads to solemn, heart wrenching stories.

Yet YA gets a lot of flack. I won’t talk about the overused example that starts with a T and ends with vampire, but many people use it as their prime example to reduce YA to a genre of whiny teenage heroes and crappy love interests. Or, heaven forbid, that YA itself is destroying ‘higher’ literature in the name of stroking teenage egos in what they want to read.

I think when most people remember being a teenager, they remember only the drama and excess hormones. So let’s delve into teenage stereotypes.

 

Teenagers are dramatic and self-centered.

These pivotal years are key in self-identity. Teenagers constantly change, almost daily, both body and mind. There are constant questions of identity, society, and belonging. It’s scary, it’s often intense, and a lot of times it feels like the end of the world.

*cue stereotypical dramatic teenage voice*

But guess what this means?

Teenagers are often philosophers.

All of this time spent asking these questions means as lot of time spent inward thinking. Think of the popular YA books on the shelves today: you’re going to find them dealing with big subjects like life and death, gender issues, race, sexuality, what society should look like, corrupt governments – the list is endless. Sure, teenagers have a tendency to see in black and white, which will be tempered as age brings wisdom. But with the genre that is both aimed at and written as teenagers, this means that YA as a genre is often trying to tackle the deep issues of life and living.

 

Teenagers are rebellious.

Teenage-hood is also a period of rejection: rejection of parent’s views, societal views, peer views – even while there’s a desperate search of belonging, it’s a time of further questioning of upbringing and norms.

This means that typically, YA as a genre is pioneering. They deal with issues before they’re ‘comfortable’ to be addressed in adult literature. The easiest issue to point out currently is literature addressing being gay or transgender, particularly in areas where it is forbidden or dangerous to be so. Furthermore, YA stylistically pushes forms, such as writing in verse, or written as emails, online journals, and fan-fiction.

Sure, something might all be silly in the end, but rebellion is how we challenge norms and seek being better.

 

Teenagers are learning.

Let’s be real, we’re all still learning. We learn lessons about self, the world, other people, until the day we die. But the teenage years are so hyper-focused on this learning reality that the YA genre becomes steeped in it.

Even as adults, YA literature can bring us back to that time of hyper-learning, where we can question. It reminds us to learn, to think, to dream. It lets us feel that again.

 

Teenagers are insecure.

With all of the questions of life, it’s hard to be secure about anything. In YA literature this results in the opposite occurring: YA is overwhelmingly about empowerment. Think of almost any YA novel – in the end, the hero wins. They defeat the villain and save the world, making it a better place. At the very least, even if much is lost, the world is ultimately just a little better.

We could all use a little empowerment in our lives.

 

With all of this in mind

Even while YA often presents in rebellious, dramatic ways, it’s also typically fun and fast to read. YA characters generally have strong voices that are easy to connect with and really get in the character’s head (maybe because a majority of it is written in first person).  This makes YA very accessible, no matter the reader.

There are – of course – many other age groups of literature that deal with deep issues of life and living while teaching in pioneering ways. And, of course, there are the bad apples of YA. In the end, YA, like all the others, is inhabited by masterpieces, fun reads, and crappy literature.

But the greatest stories are the ones that touch our deepest selves, where child meets adult, and we dream in our hearts. YA succeeds because it is able to connect child to adult (after all, this is what teenage-hood is all about).

In the end, YA literature is about touching readers in a way accessible to everyone. And it’s in this way that it can and should be read across all ages, where we can be reminded of our inner selves, be empowered, learn, and remember the importance of rebellion and life’s biggest questions.

 

About The Author:

R. K. Brainerd writes YA and NA in the realm of fantasy, usually with a speculative element. She’s been making up stories since the day she realized she could, and is making her first foray into the published world. She blogs about this and more at awakedragon.wordpress.com, tweets random and helpful things as @awakedragon, and regularly posts pictures of goats on Instagram as Rkbrainerd.