Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

“You’ve never been in anyone’s shadow. You are your own light source.”

Twelve reasons why I became totally smitten with Queens of Geek:

1. Set around SupaCon, we follow three lively best friends attending the convention: Charlie Liang, a Chinese-Australian actor with gorgeous pink hair. Pro fangirl Taylor who has autism spectrum disorder and deals with anxiety. And “Flirty McFlirtersons” Jamie who’s one of the kindest and also “got the whole Peter Parker thing down to a tee, right down to the camera hanging around his neck.”
I love me some Peter Parker.

2. I nearly passed out from joy at all the pop culture references thrown in here… IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES. From video games and comics to Felicia Day to Youtubers to the cast of The Vampire Diaries (my past self was over the moon at that last one), this book had it all.
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3. I was so lost into this book that I barely noticed what was going on around me. My eyes were practically glued to the pages, so the above gif is a pretty accurate portrayal of what I looked like throughout.

4. A f/f love story. Charlie and Alyssa (my intersectional feminist queen!!!), two of the most smart, compassionate, and outspoken characters I’ve read as of late, we’re seamlessly perfect together.

“It feels good to talk to someone who’s in a position similar to mine, who’s finding herself more and more in the public eye, and who’s being herself in a world that tells her not to.”

5. Charlie’s bisexuality is talked about on the page and not just hinted at!!!

“I love everything about crushes. The butterflies, the possibilities, the giddy wonder of it all. But this is the first time I’ve liked a girl who might actually like me back. The moment I first realized I’m into more than one gender was a quiet one. It was sudden and almost anticlimactic, so it’s not a particularly exciting story.
I was fourteen, and by that time I’d had more than one crush on a girl, mostly movie stars. But I never interpreted my feelings as a crush; I just thought I admired them a whole lot. It didn’t occur to me that those feelings were similar to the way I felt about guys I liked.
I saw a post on Tumblr with the title “You Won’t Believe These Actresses Are Bisexual” or something stupid like that. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, so I googled it. It didn’t take long to recognize myself in many of the articles I found.”

And not only that, but the book also took the time to talk about bi-phobia and bi-erasure, AND I’M SO THANKFUL!!

“But how could you possibly know you’re bi? Have you ever been with a girl?”
I remember seeing the frustration written all over Charlie’s face, and I spoke up. “How did you know you were straight before you were with a girl, Reese?”

That was exactly my response to his ignorant question. Side note: I hate Reese with the fire of a thousand suns.

“He’s all for equality, but he doesn’t even believe bisexuality exists.” She rubbed her fingers over the space between her eyebrows like she had a headache. “You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality.”tumblr_nmkaqfvmsw1qdxd3qo2_400

6. Girls supporting girls. Girls standing up for girls. Girls loving girls. Girls, girls, girls!!!
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7. As mentioned before, anxiety is also greatly discussed and represented.

“Most people think of anxiety as panic attacks. That’s not entirely accurate.
I haven’t had a panic attack in years. I started to recognize the signs and learned what I needed to do to stop it spiraling. I learned how to internalize it to avoid public embarrassment. Anxiety isn’t an attack that explodes out of me; it’s not a volcano that lies dormant until it’s triggered by an earth-shattering event. It’s a constant companion. Like a blow fly that gets into the house in the middle of summer, flying around and around. You can hear it buzzing, but you can’t see it, can’t capture it, can’t let it out.”

8. Sexism in the acting world is addressed, which, YES PLEASE:

“This is the third interviewer in a row who’s asked Reese an in-depth question about his job as an actor, and then asked me about my workout and diet regimen. I want to tell this guy to ask me something else, but I don’t want to look like a bitch or get in trouble with the studio, so I grin and bear it yet again.”

9. I loved when Taylor talked about her love for her literary hero, Queen Firestone. And the dedication it took to perfect her cosplay for SupaCon.

“I thought about buying one, but the ones I found online were too small to fit me comfortably, and the crown on the back wasn’t right, so I decided to make my own. I became so engrossed in it that some nights I sewed until sunrise without realizing, even forgetting to eat. Luckily my mum and sister were there to pull me out of my trance or I would have starved.”

Also, same about being so engrossed with things (reading) that you barely notice time flying by.

10. The discussions of fandoms and how heavy & intense it can get really reminded me of how similarly Radio Silence tackled these issues.

11. On a completely opposite note, this book made me laugh giddily multiple times throughout. The one scene I remember being most starry-eyed about was when Charlie and Alyssa where shooting their first collab. It was so damn fun to read; it was like getting to watch behind-the-scenes footage.

“I was thinking we could do a Q and A tag? Where we have about ten questions and we take turns answering them?”
Alyssa sits on the couch and crosses her legs. “Awesome.”
“Those videos are always pretty popular, plus they’re a lot of fun.”
Plus, it’s a great way for me to get to know Alyssa better, without it being too obvious that I’m interested in her.”

This part was all awkward and cute and achingly real. And it was just the perfect blend of romantic and fun… I was rooting for them with all my heart.

12. This was truly one of the funnest books I’ve read so far. From running through zombie mazes to filming collabs and participating in SupaFan contests…  it was hard not to fall in love with my Queens of Geek.
And with all the fun and games, this read still took the time to address vitally important topics such as body-positivity, friendship, love, change, shaming others, coming-of-age, accepting yourself… And it got to a point where I was dreading for the book to end. (Update: I loved the ending, even if it felt a bit rushed at certain points.)


All in all: though it took me a couple of chapters to really get into the story – because of how meta it felt – I eventually came to embrace the vibrant SupaCon energy and everything that tagged along with it. Queens of Geek left left me on such a high that the only thing that could bring me down was watching the recently released episode of Grey’s Anatomy. And if one things remains for sure, it’s that I’ll be on the lookout for any future works by the author.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March  14th, 2017

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Queens of Geek, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope by Artisan Press

On January 21, 2017, millions of people gathered worldwide for the Women’s March, one of the largest demonstrations in political history. Together they raised their voices in hope, protest, and solidarity.
This inspiring collection features hundreds of the most eloquent, provocative, uplifting, clever, and creative signs from across the United States and around the world. Each is a powerful reminder of why we march.

Why We March was the perfect read to satisfy my need for more after having followed the Women’s March all over social media. As the blurb states, the signs featured in here will evoke all kids of emotions–from laughing to contemplating to clutching your heart, this collection will make you feel it all. Real talk, I ended up in tears I couldn’t hold back so many times it got alarming.

It was also a very quick read that I tried to saver, but found to be quite impossible when the following page is RIGHT THERE!! I kept turning to the next page and the next and next, until I unexpectedly reached the last one and was left bewildered as to why I completed it so quickly…

On that note, here are the many, many signs I loved in this collection:

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Without a shadow of a doubt, Why We March is a read I’ll come back to time and again, especially when in need for something uplifting, heartening and gripping. Oh, and quick warning: if you’re reading this before bed, like I did, be prepared for a thumping heart, pumping with adrenaline, and the sudden need to fight someone… that is to say: I LOVED it!! And I can’t stress enough how grateful I am that it exists.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March 7th, 2017

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Why We March, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian

Motherest is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship-all through the jagged lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond.

That is to say: very character driven with virtually no plot, just like I love ‘em.

Speaking of, here’s a list of things enraptured me about this forthcoming novel:

  • it involves, to quote the author, mothers and daughters, letters and visions, and a sort of steady stream of existential despair. (Aka my favorite things.)
  • each chapter was ended with a letter addressed to her mom. And since the chapters are quite short, it made for a swift read.
  • deadpan delivery. I laughed out loud more than I was anticipating, which was an entirely welcoming feeling.

“Mary”—she speaks more loudly now—“you remember what Uncle Bill’s idea of a good time was, don’t you? Bill being my husband,” she addresses the room. “Excuse me, my dead husband. Thirty minutes on the toilet with a Q-tip in each ear. May he rest in peace.”

Aunt Teeny was something else…

  • specific as hell writing style that captures those perfect little moments.

Take for instance this next exchange between Agnes and her college roommate, Surprise (yes, that’s really her name):

“Surprise asked me, “Is it okay if we don’t talk in the morning? Like not even ‘hey’ or ‘have a good day’?” Then she told me a story about how her dad used to drive her to school, and he’d have on talk radio, and he’d ask her little questions, and one day she sort of blew up, snapped off the radio, and told him that she wasn’t awake yet, and she just wanted it to be quiet. They drove in silence for the next two years, but she said she felt so guilt-ridden that they might as well have been talking. “It was so loud inside my head, you know?”

I love how real this novel feels. Like, I can actually picture this scene (and many others) so vividly in head.

Or this little moment with a crush that is #relatable:

“Hey.”
“Hey.”
I keep walking. He slows down a little as if to chat, and I move faster. I want to turn around so badly that walking feels like pushing through the heaviest revolving door in the world, but I keep going.”

I’m was as impressed with the specificity as Sana in this gif.tumblr_ok4zg75gmt1tk4tcwo2_250

  • superb characterization for the main character. From lonely, morbid and frightened eighteen-year-old to independent, loving and loved nineteen-year-old.
  • it’s a quiet kind of novel that tackles issues such as abandonment, sibling relationships, suicide, anorexia (briefly), fierce and easy female friendships, pregnancy scares, sexism, motherhood, and so much more.
  • Oh, and it’s important to note that this is set around the year 1994, which I didn’t realize until I was halfway through.

But what seems to happen almost regularly with character-driven novels for me is that my interest begins to wane the more we get into the story. And for the life of me I cannot guess why. It’s not as if something drastically changed or someone new got introduced that I didn’t like… But I just seemed to slowly but steadily lose my focus while reading. Maybe it didn’t help that this book didn’t have an foreseeable plot, so my interest depended a lot on the characters. And with Agnes not being the best at captivating my attention after about a 100 pages into it, I was left lost at what to do.

In the end, I was sucked back into this story when something unexpected happened to the main character. And it was fascinating for me to, in a sense, join Agnes on such a personal journey. Also, since I hadn’t read about the aforementioned topic (desperately trying to avoid spoilers here) being discussed so openly, thoroughly and intimately in a novel before, it made for an even more compelling. I genuinely felt like I was right there holding her hand while spouting encouraging things. This kid needed a mom friend in her life asap.tumblr_oj701nqbcs1vlgbnoo6_r1_400

“I want a friend. I miss everyone I’ve ever known. I miss Tea Rose and Surprise and Joan. I miss that part of my life that happened not so long ago but that already feels ancient, older than my childhood, and I do miss my childhood also, or at least the childhood co-created by my memory. I want someone who will always stay and never die and never leave and never turn into a ghost.”

So I was damn grateful when Agnes found the right support system for her.

“Maybe this is how groups like this work. You feel better about yourself because other people’s problems seem worse. You stop thinking, for a few minutes, about your own shit, because someone else’s is more lurid, more interesting. Maybe the expectation isn’t healing, but rather gaining perspective. Your problems don’t get solved. They get placed.”

Not only support groups, book and tv shows too. I find it intoxicating when I get caught up on other people’s problems and forget about my own.

All I can say is that with having watched the newest Grey’s Anatomy episode (which consequently became my all time favorite episode –13X10– upon completing it), I was loving this part of the book even more.

And I would also go out and say that this book was a revelation for me; a good one, too. I was expecting it to go one way and when it didn’t, I was pleasantly taken by surprise. Motherest ended up being such a meaningful and emotional read, which I wasn’t anticipating to happen at all. And I’m eternally grateful that it didn’t go down the road I had paved in my head. Instead, the journey it did take, full of ups and down, made me feel genuinely proud of having “known” Agnes. Getting to see her coming of age and dealing with whatever life threw her way, left me feeling like a proud mother watching her baby take their first steps.

“How can mothers not feel superhuman?”

This novel is also achingly real. I’m not even kidding when I say that I felt everything the main character went through. The angst and tears and betrayal and hope… I went through it all. And I applaud the author for creating such a realistic atmosphere. It’s really been a hot minute since I’ve been this engrossed with a novel, but it’s almost impossible not to think of it every waking minute. So now I’m more than eager for any forthcoming works by Kristen Iskandrian.

P.S. I cried, hard but quietly at that ending; the last sentence.

However, with all the many, many positives, I do want to mention that I had  issues with the way the ending was so rapidly concluded and left with a few loose ends. Also, the cultural appropriation (white person with blond dreadlocks), and the usage of a slur threw me for a loop. I’m not sure why the author decided to include them… but since I’m reading an ARC, I’m hoping this will get either corrected or properly addressed in text by the publishing date.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: August 1st, 2017

4.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Motherest, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!
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