Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde


“Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe everyone is just as on edge as I am. Maybe they just know how to hide it better – not just from others, but from themselves.” (204)


Edit 07/11/17: I completely failed to mention that Caidyn bought this for me as a birthday gift, and as a friend and blog partner he knows me well. 

5/5 – I fell in love with this book immediately. This is a novel about three best friends from Australia who go to SupaCon (think Comic-Con), which feature two different perspectives and two love stories. Charlie is a Chinese-Australian YouTuber who is an up- and-coming actress and is openly bisexual. Taylor is her best friend accompanying her and she is plus sized, autistic, and has anxiety. There is so much representation in this book and I even think that Jamie, the third character in this best friend trio is Hispanic but there’s only a slight hint to it. That doesn’t even include Charlie’s love interest Alyssa who is black. Some might disagree, but the overwhelming amount of representation didn’t feel forced. These felt like normal people to me and I could absolutely relate to some of the things both Charlie and Taylor were going through in the book.

There is so much representation in this book and I even think that Jamie, the third character in this best friend trio is Hispanic but there’s only a slight hint to it. That doesn’t even include Charlie’s love interest Alyssa who is black. Some might disagree, but the overwhelming amount of representation didn’t feel forced. These felt like normal people to me and I could absolutely relate to some of the things both Charlie and Taylor were going through in the book.

This book was written for someone like me. By that I mean, I’m a pop culture fanatic and I’m a huge fangirl, just in the last year alone I went to two comic-cons in my hometown and I’m going to another this year. I love the fandom culture and I felt like a convention was the perfect setting for a book.

I also love queer books as has been made clear several times on the blog and in the books, I review, but I felt like this book was more than just “a queer book”. I absolutely think queer characters are important, but the fact that one of the main characters is bisexual isn’t a huge deal. It’s just part of who she is. It was way more about fandom than anything. That being said, I was a sucker for both romances. The building romance between Taylor and Jamie was adorable. Whereas, Charlie and Alyssa’s romance was heated.

Back when I reviewed Every Heart a Doorway, I talked about how important representation was, especially when it’s done right, and how I’d forgotten that. This book just hit that home even more.

I definitely related to Taylor’s social anxiety and conventions are places that have large crowds. That’s overwhelming sometimes and exhausting to navigate. This felt very authentic and that’s because this is own voices when it comes to bisexual, anxiety, and autistic representation. I felt like it was handled very well.

This book tackles issues like biphobia, anxiety, autism, self-esteem, and body image but overall, I felt this was a feel-good book and I haven’t been so happy reading a book all year. It’s not perfect, some might say it’s cheesy or predictable, some of the plot points were too convenient, but I wasn’t concerned with this book’s plot. It was about the characters and how I related to them. This was a very personal book for me.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway cover

“Kade was possibly the most beautiful boy she’d ever seen. She wanted to spend hours sitting with him and talking about pointless things. She wanted to feel his hand against her skin, to know that his presence was absolute and focused entirely on her. The trouble was, it never seemed to end there, and that was as far as she was willing to go. (121)


4/5 – Every Heart a Doorway is a novella that takes place at a school for children who have gone through portals into other worlds and get forced back to our world for one reason or another and they are desperate to return to the world where they felt they belonged.

This book is beautiful. From the cover to the writing, it’s gorgeous. The writing is lyrical and I had to read it slowly so that I could take it in. Even though this book is less than 200 pages, take your time reading it and really focus on the writing. It’s worth slowing down and seeing which words McGuire chooses. There is very wonderful imagery as well as dark and disturbing imagery, some which I wasn’t expecting. This book is dark and I wasn’t expecting that going in.

If you’ve looked back at the past reviews I’ve done, you’ll see that most of the books I’ve reviewed are primarily LGBTQ+ focused with LGBTQ+ main characters. This is no exception, but this book has an asexual main character, Nancy. Something I haven’t ever read about in a book and it was beautifully done. As someone who identifies as asexual, I felt like it was well represented and I could relate to how Nancy was feeling. The differences between “asexual” and “aromantic” being explained just had me shouting YES. This is something I crave and am desperate for more of in books.

Then there was a trans character named Kade, and he was my favorite character. I know there are two more books and I don’t believe either are about him but there needs to be a book about him. Then there is the interesting dynamic of Jack and Jill who are identical twins who present very differently gender wise. Jack wears button downs and bowties where Jill wears dresses, this is very interesting considering their background and I know there is more of their story in Down Among the Sticks and Bones which I’m very excited to read when I can get my hands on it.

My main issue with this book was that it’s a novella. It’s really short and when you have your eyes opened up to a new world and all of these characters who visited said worlds, you want to see them all. Again, I’m aware of two more books in the series, but I want to know far more about the worlds that were visited without having to wait a year for the next book to come out. I’m impatient that way. With that said, this is a standalone novella, you can read Every Heart a Doorway and never read any of the others. Although, I don’t know how you wouldn’t crave more from this world and these characters. I will read the other two books, Down Among the Sticks and Bones and Beneath the Sugar Sky when it comes out because I love this world that was created even if we get little snippets at a time.

It’s a wonderful thing to see yourself represented in a book and I think that’s something I don’t always realize, but to see your inner thoughts in print in someone else’s book coming from someone else’s mind, that means everything.


The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

The Edge of the Abyss cover


Here’s my link to The Abyss Surrounds Us the first book in this duology.

3/5 – When I finished The Abyss Surrounds Us, I was so excited to read the sequel and it felt like it took forever until the book came into my possession. I needed to figure out where Cas’s journey was going to take her next after the end of the last book. There was some moral ambiguity that I couldn’t get enough of in the first book and I wasn’t disappointed when it continued on in this book. In fact, they go more in depth and addressed something that didn’t come up in the first book. How her decisions in the first book affected her family. I really liked seeing that paid off and the contrast between her and Swift was even more obvious in this book.

For those who haven’t read the first book, and looking back on my review I didn’t actually give a summary of the book, here was the general premise: Cassandra Leung is a reckoner trainer who ends up kidnapped by pirates on her first solo mission. When Cas is forced to train an illegal reckoner pup for Santa Elena, the Captain who kidnapped her, she’s put in a compromising position of loyalty. This was her arc in the first book, and it continues on in the second book.

This was probably the most compelling part of the book. I cared more about her struggle with morality and loyalty than I did with the actual plot or the romance (we’ll get to that), but I also thought it was something that was a huge part of her character and I felt like it needed to be explored and I wasn’t disappointed there.

What I was disappointed with was the relationship with Cas and Swift. I praised the first book for not allowing the two to enter into a relationship with a clear power imbalance. This is eliminated, but the second book did the wonderful trope of will they/won’t they. Actually, it was more of a tug-of-war where they would have a scene together where they were kissing or sleeping next to each other and then wouldn’t speak for two chapters because one of them was upset with the other. It got to the point where I was annoyed. I liked where their relationship ended up at the end, it wasn’t happily ever after but I felt it fit with their relationship and how up in the air it had been for two books now.

The ending, however, was frustrating. It was clear where the book was heading and I wasn’t sure how things were going to wrap up. My issue was it wrapped up too neatly for my tastes. It was disappointing for a duology that had explored different arcs than ones I was used to in YA. The end just felt like everything was neatly wrapped up with a bow like it only is in movies and books. I’m not saying I would’ve liked an ending where everyone died, but a more realistic ending or at least one that wasn’t so predictable and neat.

The first book was far more superior and while I enjoyed parts of this one, it’s not a five-star book by any means and I felt the ending was beneath the duology as a whole.


Blue is the Warmest Color


Quick Note: I couldn’t talk about the graphic novel without talking about the film, so I’m considering this a review of both. 

Another quick note: In the film, the character known as Clementine in the graphic novel is called Adele. If I use the name Adele I’ll be referring to the film version of the character only just as Clementine will refer to the graphic novel version only. 

Graphic Novel – 4.5/5

Film – 5/5

A little less than a month ago I watched Blue is the Warmest Color on Netflix and I’ve been dying to talk about it. If you’ve never heard of the film or graphic novel, I’ll give you a brief overview before diving into my behemoth of a review.

The story follows a 15-year-old girl named Clementine and after a moment where she makes eye contact with a blue haired girl in the street, she suddenly starts to question her sexuality and the two eventually start a relationship.

That’s the bare bones of the story and if that one sentence summary interested you at all, then this is for you. If you would prefer a three-hour movie where not one word of English is spoken, then I’d suggest the film. If not, the graphic novel is for you. Or both! I went with both.

I saw the film first, and after finishing it I knew I had to get my hands on the graphic novel because these characters were absolutely compelling to me. I was sucked into their relationship from the moment they cross the street and make eye contact, a scene that is basically taken shot for shot from the graphic novel.

At first, I was hesitant to watch the movie because I’d heard about the multiple explicit sex scenes and the idea of that made me uncomfortable. When I watched the movie, the only thing that bothered me was that the first scene went on far too long. To the point where it was comical. If this is your hang up as well, don’t let it stop you, because the movie is really well done. The graphic novel has an explicit sex scene as well, but it feels right and the relationship between Clementine and Emma has been building. It doesn’t feel inauthentic or pornographic which is a huge criticism of the film. I understand that criticism of the film. For me, I found the sex scenes to be the least interesting parts of the film. The film holds up well on its own and would be just as good without them.

The relationship between these two characters is a huge part of both the graphic novel and the film, and their relationship spans quite a long time. Several years in fact. In the graphic novel, it’s explicitly stated that their relationship starts when Clementine is 16-17 years old and continues until she is 30 years old. In the film, it’s not as clear. However, their entire relationship isn’t covered. We only get bits and pieces, the highlight reel if you will. The graphic novel is about 150 pages, and while the film is three hours long, that’s right three hours. The two don’t meet or speak until about an hour into the film.

In the graphic novel, I found them to be quite immature. I get the feeling this might have been intentional. Young love is exciting and you don’t really think about the consequences of your actions. Even though you are incredibly happy and in love, you might not have any clue what you are doing. When their relationship starts out, Emma has a girlfriend. This is a plot point in the book and ignored in the film. It was very interesting to see how their relationship changed as we went through 13 years of their relationship. They changed as people and as a result, they discovered they were two very different people. I think this story is an excellent examination of a relationship and it’s definitely one that I encourage others to read.

The story isn’t just about their relationship, however, it’s about Clementine discovering her sexuality. This happens very similarly in the book and film. She sees Emma when crossing a street, makes eye contact with her, and then starts having dreams of this mysterious blue-haired girl. From that moment on, she struggles with her identity and sexuality. There are a lot of things that don’t work out for her and there’s a lot of homophobia. More than I was expecting. As an American, I always see Europe (the story takes place in France) as more open than our country is. Unfortunately, nobody escapes homophobia and it’s unfortunate. Nobody is alone in their struggle for belonging. In addition to the homophobia, there’s a lot of self-loathing which was hard to read about, but again it’s not a struggle anyone goes through alone.

All-in-all, I’d definitely recommend the graphic novel and the film. The graphic novel has gorgeous art in it and a compelling story of a young love. The film takes the same story and tweaks things a bit, but in the end, it’s an examination of two young women who enter a relationship and while they are in love aren’t prepared for how difficult it can be.


Now, there’s one last thing that I’d like to talk about and this is getting into MAJOR SPOILERS for both the film and the graphic novel. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 


There is one distinct difference between the graphic novel and the film, honestly, I was taken aback by it.

At the beginning of the graphic novel, we find out Clementine has died. This doesn’t happen in the film and I honestly prefer the film version. In the film, Adele cheats on Emma (this happens in the graphic novel as well) and their relationship is over. Emma ends up in a relationship with another woman and moves on with her life while Adele struggles to move on. They have one last conversation where they both admit they still are attracted to each other and have feelings for each other, but nothing happens, and they have one last encounter at Emma’s art exhibit and then Adele walks away. With the implication that she’s finally ready to move on with her life.

Here’s the thing, when I finished watching the film, I got the sense that these two were incompatible. They had an exciting romance when they were young, and as they got older they realized how truly different they were and that they needed different things from a partner. That happens in life. Finding one person to spend your life with isn’t always a reality. Sometimes relationships end because things aren’t working out. It’s not a happy ending or a story we like watching, but it happens. I think the graphic novel’s biggest flaw was Clementine dying. At the end of the film, the relationship might not have worked out, but Adele has a future ahead of her and a chance at love. That’s taken away in the graphic novel through self-destruction. I felt the film had a more positive message and that’s ultimately why I preferred it.

This doesn’t diminish how much I enjoyed the graphic novel by any means, but the film impacted me more by the time the credits rolled. Which is why I rate it higher, despite its flaws. Perhaps it’s because films are the medium closer to my heart, but either way, the story of these two young women is powerful. Whether you watch the movie or read the graphic novel, I highly recommend both to anyone.

Release by Patrick Ness

Release book cover


4/5 – Note: Release has only been released in the UK and will be released in the US on September 19, 2017. If you’d like the UK version it’s available now at Book Depository.

Let me get one thing out of the way really quick, I’ve read two of Patrick Ness’s novels already, A Monster Calls and More Than This and those two books alone have made him one of my favorite authors. A Monster Calls had me weeping and More Than This was one of the best books I read last year. I don’t have a formal review on it, but seriously, go check it out.

Obviously, I was excited when I heard he was coming out with a new book this year and I even preordered it through Book Depository because if you want to read this book and you live in the US, you have to buy it from the UK or wait until September when it’s released here. I wasn’t going to wait five months, and the UK cover (see above) is absolutely gorgeous compared to the US cover.

Now, when I heard the concept for this novel, I was immediately in. It’s a day in the life of a gay teenager named Adam Thorn. Patrick Ness took inspiration from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Forever by Judy Blume. I have not read either book, but another of my favorite books/movies is called The Hours by Michael Cunningham which heavily features inspiration from Mrs. Dalloway as well as a fictional portrayal of Virginia Woolf. Needless to say, I felt like this book was written for me.

I was partly correct. The parts that involved Adam’s day were amazing and hooked me from the beginning. I could’ve read this book in one day if I had the motivation. I actually finished this book, reading a little over two hundred pages in one day. I adored Adam as a character the way I adored Seth from More Than This, and he didn’t disappoint with the side characters. Adam’s best friend Angela was hilarious, his brother Marty was surprisingly complex, and his boyfriend Linus was adorable and sweet. The way he went from flashbacks to present day was brilliant writing as it not only showed how spacey Adam was as a character but it gave us history without being clunky.

There was so much to like about this book and Patrick Ness really did a great job of telling a story of a gay teenager with strictly religious parents and his struggle with all of the relationships in his life. All in one day. We don’t get answers on how life is going to go when this day is over, but things aren’t figured out in a day. You take it one day at a time and that’s so real.

Another thing I’d like to hit on is Patrick Ness doesn’t shy away from sex in his books. There are multiple scenes of sex that Adam has had through his teenage years and that is so important. Sex, in general, is something to normalize especially in YA, but it’s so rare to read about gay characters having sex and it’s important to normalize as well. Especially when it’s safe sex.

Okay, now that I’ve raved about this book I had one huge problem with it. Interweaved with Adam’s day is the journey of the ghost of a girl who was murdered, roaming around town trying to figure out why she died and how she died. There was beautiful writing in these passages, but they ruined the pace of the book for me and I didn’t get it. It took me out of the story every time, and I just wanted to skip over the passages whenever they came up. The book would’ve been a five-star book without them, but because they hindered the pace I have to drop it down to a four-star book.

That being said, I’d still highly recommend picking this up now or in September, whichever tickles your fancy, because I think Adam’s story by itself is worth a read.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

The Abyss Surrounds Us cover


5/5 – The first official five-star rating I’m giving to a book and I’m about to explain why. There are three characters in this book that I think are very well written. One is our protagonist, Cas. The second is Swift, the love interest. The third is Santa Elena, the antagonist. Except, the three of them don’t fit neatly into those categories at all. This is one of the few YA novels I’ve read that deals with complicated moral codes. I’m not saying there aren’t others out there, but this was one where all three of these characters were morally gray and I loved it. I particularly loved Cas’s journey throughout the book. Which, I won’t say much more about, but when I saw the bold The End on the last page I wasn’t sure what to think. Was I rooting for her? Was I disappointed? I don’t know, honestly and that questioning of the protagonist’s choices is excellent.

Despite their decisions being seen by some as wrong, there are legitimate reasons behind doing what they do and all three of them are protecting someone. Wouldn’t you do anything for someone you loved? Our world isn’t black and white and even though we’re in a time where it’s easy to get caught up in that dichotomy, it’s not that simple all the time. In the world of The Abyss Surrounds Us, it’s the same thing. The people Cas thinks are horrible people, the pirates who capture her and imprison her, they are human and are out to protect themselves and their families.

Now, there’s one more point I’d like to touch on and that’s the romance aspect. This is a f/f romance and I have a type, let’s be honest, so that’s why I picked up this book. However, this book intertwines the relationship between Cas and Swift so well that it’s not a YA romance where two people instantly fall in love and live happily ever after. It’s incredibly complicated. In fact, their relationship isn’t romantic at all, because they are not on equal footing. Cas is a prisoner and Swift is part of the crew holding her captive. In fact, Santa Elena the Captain of the ship, intertwines their lives so if Cas fails in training the Reckoner, they both die. So, not only are Swift’s intentions unknown to Cas (the book is in first person perspective), but when Swift’s feelings are revealed it’s not a warm reception.

In fact here’s an excerpt from that scene:

“Swift,” I start, but I don’t know what to finish it with.

“Forget…forget I said anything. It was off base. I-“

“Swift, I’m a goddamn prisoner on this ship.”

“I know. I-“

“We aren’t on equal footing, not in the slightest. You realize how messed up this is?”

“Cas, I didn’t mean I want to-“

“I’m in no position to be thinking about any of that shit right now. I’ve got bigger problems to deal with than you and your feelings.” (Skrutskie, 166)

End. Fucking. Scene. Holy shit! This is absolutely a realistic reaction to your captor telling you they have feelings for you. Even if you are starting to have feelings for them too. When both of your lives are in danger you don’t go on a whirlwind romance, you fight to stay alive and that is just one more reason I loved this fucking book. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to see how the story concludes in The Edge of the Abyss.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Of Fire and Stars Cover


4/5 – I’d just like to start by saying that this is a queer romance within a fantasy setting and I need more books like this, right now.

I’m no stranger to contemporary LGBTQ+ books, as evidenced by books that I’ve reviewed already, but this was a whole different experience for me. Honestly, I should’ve finished this book soon after I started reading it because it took me about three days to get through the majority of it.

What I was taken aback by was the political intrigue and the mystery of the book, there was something more than the romance at the forefront of the plot and I loved it. Instead of the two Princesses, Denna and Mare, instantly falling for each other and having that be the main conflict. They don’t like each other at all and slowly develop a friendship which then becomes romantic. I found it beautiful to read and it was hard to put down, and I mean that literally because I stayed up past midnight to finish the book. I had a similar experience with Everything Leads to You.

On top of the political conflict is the problem that Denna is betrothed to Mare’s brother who is in line to be King. That is one more thing that keeps them apart once they realize their feelings and honestly, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. I didn’t know if things were going to end happily or not. That’s what kept me reading. I had to figure out how or if they were going to be together. I was invested.

There are a few negatives I had, sometimes the political intrigue was hard to follow, the pacing was inconsistent, and there are a few other things. However, none of those things took away from my enjoyment of the book. I’m easy to please and this book was very pleasing. It was something new to me and a breath of fresh air. I will absolutely read more by Audrey Coulthurst when she publishes new books.

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns cover


4/5 – I’ve always struggled to get into fantasy because there’s always a lot of detail and world building. However, I love world building and I love when it’s done well. So, I have to ask myself why I resisted fantasy for so long. When fantasy is done well, it’s absolutely engaging and fun. It can just be intimidating when there are series of seven books that are 500+ pages long. Luckily, you can start small and start with specific authors.

Caidyn recommended Mark Lawrence to me, and specifically Prince of Thorns which is the first book of his Broken Empire series. It’s his first series and the first book he’s ever written, and all I can say after finishing it is I can’t wait to read the next book. Even before I’ve finished this series, I can’t wait to read his others.

Now, Caidyn did warn me about the main character of the series, Prince Jorg. To put it simply, he’s a little shit. He’s a horrible human being. He’s a murderer, rapist, and overall despicable person. I did avoid reading the book at first because I was worried. I’m not a huge fan of unlikable characters and anti-heroes. I don’t root for the villains and while I don’t see the world in black and white, things like rape are unforgivable in my eyes. Not everyone is going to like Jorg and honestly, I don’t blame you if you don’t.

However, Jorg is a complex, well-written character, and a charming narrator who just happens to be an awful person. It’s important to remember he’s thirteen years old, which just makes the book that much darker and him more unreliable. He could easily be embellishing the things he’s doing.  He knows he’s a terrible person and he’s unapologetic about it. Throughout the first book, he’s not seeking redemption. In fact, he’s seeking revenge. I am certainly not rooting for Jorg to go around murdering and raping, but I’m curious as to what he’s going to do next and how the series continues.

I don’t think I can really put into words how I feel about such a complex character this soon after I’ve finished the book. All I know is he’s a terrible human being and he knows it. He’ll admit it to your face and probably stab you while doing it.


Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime


4.5/5 – I became a fan of Trevor Noah through his standup comedy. However, I think that Trevor Noah is delightful no matter what he’s doing, whether it’s standup, The Daily Show, or narrating a collection of stories from his life. It was only fitting that I listen to this on audiobook because I like the way he performs.

Of course, it wasn’t all comedy. Trevor Noah is from South Africa and was born under apartheid to a black mother and a white father which was illegal at that time. The heart of the relationship was the relationship between Trevor and his mother. It reminded me a lot of my own relationship with my mother. He talked about her honestly and talked about decisions he didn’t understand. She wasn’t perfect and he didn’t talk about her like she was, but you knew he loved and respected her. She made him the man he is.

My favorite part of the book was how he integrated South African history into his own story because the two intertwined. In South Africa, he could’ve been taken away from his parents if they’d found out he was mixed, or colored which is what they call biracial people. I didn’t know a lot about South Africa at all, but I know a lot more about it coming from someone who lived there and lived through a huge part of their history.

I’d love to talk about my favorite stories or the passages that made me laugh the most, but honestly go out and read it or listen to it. I’d highly recommend it. It was one of my favorite reads so far this year.

At its core, I saw it as a tribute to his mother and I found that very powerful and moving.

Dreadnought by April Daniels

Dreadnought book cover


4.5/5 – This is a book about a trans superhero written by a trans author, hell yes. I was absolutely in on this book when I first heard about it. It did not disappoint either. The main character Danny was nothing short of lovable and a few amazing supporting characters were what hooked me most. That combined with this fictional world of a nondescript Pacific Northwest city that seemed like a combination of Portland and Seattle, but was also filled with futuristic technology that doesn’t seem too far off.

Now, I did only rate this 4.5 out of 5 because I personally am not a superhero fan. I don’t watch Marvel or DC movies and I’ve never really been interested*. However, I was very eager to read about a trans superhero who also identified as a lesbian. The only way I’d ever really be interested in superheroes is if I saw something I could relate to.

I will say my only issue with the book were the combat sequences. Not because I thought they were bad, but because they weren’t my favorite parts. I wanted to read about the interpersonal relationships and Danny’s struggle. That being said, I loved the parts where Danny wasn’t perfect in her fighting. For example, in her first big rescue, she had no idea what she was doing. She didn’t automatically know what she was doing and I loved that. She was getting used to her powers, which were incredible, and it took some struggling before she got the hang of it.

Sarah, one of the supporting characters is Latinx and is the funniest character in the book. I enjoyed every moment she was around and I wanted more of her.

On the flip side, there were some disgusting and awful characters that played their parts well. Unfortunately, Dreadnought doesn’t take place in a world where transphobia doesn’t exist. It very much exists and is very prominent in Danny’s life with multiple characters. None of these awful characters is the main villain. They are worse! However, transphobia and really any other form of bigotry exists and aren’t going away anytime soon.

Dreadnought is a superhero who is incredibly powerful, however, those powers don’t automatically make it easy to stand up to those who bring you down. The difference between physical strength and emotional strength is key. This book is ultimately about freely being your true self and I happen to think that’s beautiful. Ultimately, I would absolutely recommend this book and I can’t wait for the second book to come out later this year.


* Unless it stars Benedict Cumberbatch.