Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

cover-for-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)


(Chantel)

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.

Close Her Eyes by Dorothy Simpson

Close Her Eyes

(Caidyn)

3.5/5

After such a promising start of a very religious man’s daughter going missing, then being found dead, it slowly went downhill. There were times when I wasn’t able to follow what had happened in the past pages or there were things that were stated that didn’t connect for me.

I think that’s because I had just come back from vacation when I started reading this. A vacation when I got up at 4AM to get a bus to the airport and I was exhausted since I got no sleep. So, having concentration wasn’t my key thing. It was interesting and I still really loved the characters. Thanet is great and since this is the fourth book in the series, I know that I missed some stuff since his wife is suddenly studying to be a nurse and Lineham’s married with a kid on the way. So that messed with me because things changed that I hadn’t expected. My own fault since I should have just gone for the second book in the series.

However, the tone was still the same. Everything was logically laid out and it made sense when it came down to it. I had hedged my bets on someone else so I was wrong when it came down to the killer. But, for anyone who is triggered by the following things or doesn’t like reading about child molestation, statutory rape, and uber religious family abuse, be warned. It’s not really described, but there are mentions of it that could be a problem.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

(Caidyn)

4/5

I don’t talk much about my job. And, no, it doesn’t have anything to do with food. My friends hear me rant about my work but I won’t get into that today. Where I work, I can listen to audiobooks. That’s how I get so much reading done. For about seven hours a day, I listen to books. This one was no different. I had to watch a Ted Talk of hers for a class I’m taking this summer and I finally decided to take the plunge. Knowing that I don’t have a lot of time, I went for an audiobook and this was the only downloadable one my library had.

The second point about my job: We’re very food oriented. I don’t work in the food business, but we have a full functioning kitchen. Fridge, two microwaves, sink with maybe a garbage disposal, dishwasher, bread maker, panini press, and I think a portable stove for when we need that since we don’t have it. Oh, and we often have potlucks and all that.

This was probably the worst choice to listen to. I had to eat or else people would find it weird, yet I was nauseous/uncomfortably full for no reason. However, that only happened three times. Out of this whole book about death and cadavers, only three chapters made me nauseous. Decomposition, medical cannibalism, and burial specifically. Those got to me, but it’s not a book for the faint of heart. Most of the time, I was just able to push back the things that grossed me out because they were super interesting.

The gross factor aside, this was a great book. It would have been better if Mary Roach ready it to you, but oh well. The reader tried to capture the humor, but it didn’t always work out. I still found myself laughing or smiling because, even if the reader didn’t get it, I could tell there was deadpan and sarcastic humor there.

In sum: This is a good book. Funny to break the tension that this topic brings up. But not too funny. There are points that are grosser than others. I doubt that people will get grossed out at the same points I did, but it’s chock full of things that could be nauseating to others. Still good, just be careful if you have a weak stomach.

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

(Caidyn)

5/5

I think that this is probably the best nonfiction book that I’ve read this year. Seriously, that good. And it’s so prescient given the times that we live in. Throughout the world, it’s changing. I’ve said to my friends and family multiple times that it feels like we’re either in the 1930s or the Cold War all over again. And not in a good way. This time, it feels as if we’re on the opposite side.

Since I’m an American, this is especially American-centric. Plus, this book is just focused on the political climate that just gets worse and worse every day. It’s to the point where I have no clue what news will come, but I can only guess that it’s going to be bad. I’m more shocked anymore when something doesn’t happen. Isn’t that worrying?

That’s what this whole book is about, really. It’s very short, just over 100 pages, and it sums up 20 examples of things about tyranny and how to stop it in whatever country you live in. Again, this is focused on America. Along with the lessons, this book gives examples of when things are going wrong. From history and from America’s current political climate. In some cases, it gives historical examples of when it almost got to tyranny and how the people in the country stopped it. Mainly, it gives tips about what you can do to stop it. What you can personally do rather than just talking about a whole country’s uprising. Because the individual can do so much.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought that I would. It’s impressive and it packs a punch considering how short it is. This is definitely a book I want to own a physical copy of just so I can reread it and annotate some.

The Night She Died by Dorothy Simpson

The Night She Died

(Caidyn)

4/5

The only reason I read this book was because it was a freebie on Netgalley. What better could I get? An old, established mystery series that’s for free on there and I can just read them. (No clue if they’re still like that, actually. But check them out if they are!)

Even though I double checked that this was the first book in the series, it had a great feel to it like it was established. As if all of these people had a few books before where they were created. That takes such skill that I was seriously impressed the whole time I read it. I had to convince myself this was the first book throughout the whole story. Even now I’m shocked by it.

Even then, the plot was pretty interesting. There was also a slight nod to Holmes by having the last name of the murder victim being Holmes. I kept going back and forth with theories as the story developed, keeping me guessing about who it was. In the end, I gave up and just went along for the ride. That kept it really fun for me since I’m a huge fan of mysteries that keep me guessing whether or not I ultimately figure it out.

My only critique is that it took forever to get off of the ground for this book. I didn’t feel truly sucked in until about 30% in when the plot really started going. I wish it had sucked me in immediately, but it took a bit to get used to the story and have characters straight. Even though there was very little telling me about them and more showing me – which is the best way to do it – it still took a bit of time.

Definitely an impressive first book. I was more than impressed by it.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes 1

(Caidyn)

3.8/5

This is going to be one of the few times that I’ll tell people to read my Goodreads review and won’t include it on here. I started the review over there and it’s so much easier since I’d have to tweak things too much.

Some general trends for you guys:

  • The only full story I like is The Hound of the Baskervilles. Every other full story has too many issues and not enough of a mystery to drag it out that long.
  • The short story anthologies are so much better than the full-length stories. They’re just perfect and Doyle is masterful with them.
  • While I say I love the heart of The Memoirs better (aka showing Sherlock as fallible), I actually rated the short stories in The Adventures higher.
  • I tend to like the stories best that show Sherlock as different or failing since he’s always seen as an infallible character when he’s extremely flawed on most accounts.

Other than that, I do enjoy these stories. That all started because of BBC’s Sherlock, a show that I don’t watch anymore and happily read about whatever crap they come up with for the seasons. Overall, a solid first volume and I’m really excited for the second volume since I haven’t read any of those stories.

The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones

The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

Let’s face it. I already know a lot about this area of history. I know most of the chronology and the sides that people were on. Or, at least, I can recognize the names and piece things together from there. I didn’t really need to read this book.

However, I just really love Dan Jones. I think he’s a great author. He puts his great voice into the work, and if you’ve ever seen anything that he’s been in as a historian then you know what I mean. And, he knows how to make things simple, but not too simple. I think that takes a very good author since most just toss you in and hope you figure it out. Jones does that, but he also tries to explain things.

Since I find this era highly interesting, I would have rated it highly no matter what. Then there’s my love of Dan Jones so it means that I’m going to enjoy it. The only reason it got that very picky half star taken off was just that I wish it had gone more in depth. At times, it felt like an overview when I wanted more to it. I expected more, too, thanks to how long it is on my Kindle.

Again, a picky detail from someone who already knows tons about this era (I would never say I know everything because there are people even more drenched in it than I am). Just that I would have liked more. A good book to start off with to whet your interest, then you can get to books about specific people or monarchs that catch your interest off this.

The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional by Agustin Fuentes

The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional

(Caidyn)

4/5

Being a psychology major, you have to have a passing familiarity with evolution. Not just our old ancestors, but more than that. Knowing that you can track the progression of human brain growth and how/when skills might have been acquired by looking at the size of a skull. Then you can compare humans and apes, seeing what may or may not match up. How humans could have become the way they are.

Then, there’s evolutionary psychology with how things have stayed throughout the centuries. Why things stick and then others don’t. How traits carry on through the years despite them seeming undesirable.

While I don’t plan on going into evolutionary psychology or theory (although it’s fascinating) I know all of this thanks to my classes. Not just psychology, but cultural anthropology. My professor started out talking about the last common ancestor (LCA) and sort of on through there since you have to know the basics of hominids.

All of that being said, I have ample background on this topic. Practically everything Fuentes mentioned in his book I had either heard before or it was a slightly different twist on it. I wish he had spent more time on some things, but I love the spin on it. The reason why we have all of these abilities that are uniquely human is that of creativity. It’s, well, creative. And how he used facts and showed them in a new light, it really helped make his point.

For anything else, I’d want this book for reminders about human evolution and to use for any research I have to do in the future since it’s such a good resource point. I definitely recommend this book more to beginners on this topic than people who know a lot.

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)


(Chantel)

4/5Every 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.