Book Review: Queens of Geek

queens of geekQueens of Geek
by Jen Wilde
Contemporary YA
262 pages
Published 2017

THIS BOOK WAS GREAT. It was a fun, quick read, but it involved three BFFs, one of which is autistic with social anxiety, and her friends know this and are incredibly supportive. The second girl is openly bisexual. The third friend, the boy, is Hispanic. The three of them take an epic trip to a big Comicon in LA; the bisexual girl (Charlie) co-starred in a zombie movie, and is a popular Youtuber, so when she’s invited to the Con she drags her two BFFs with her. Once there, she meets an idol of hers, another Youtuber, and discovers that her idol has a crush on her! So while dealing with her douchebag ex (her co-star from the movie), the other Youtuber asks Charlie out, and the two girls start a romance.

Meanwhile, the autistic girl (Taylor) and the Hispanic boy (Jamie) have loved each other for ages but been too afraid to admit how they feel. Largely left on their own, because Charlie’s manager couldn’t get them VIP passes, they explore the Con, geeking out over things and meeting another autistic woman, a comic book artist who gives Taylor some amazing advice about being afraid but doing things anyway.

I really really loved this book. I loved seeing autistic characters treated by their peers as just regular people with quirks, like everyone has. Taylor’s friends support her when her brain freaks out, and make allowances for her needs, but don’t treat her like she’s disabled or fragile. I loved seeing how tight the bonds of friendship were between the three teens, and how excited for each other they were, even when good things happening meant less time to spend with each other.

This was just a really lovely, feel-good book with lots of minority representation, by an autistic author who knows what she’s talking about. This is one more book off my Autism Reading List, and my pick for a book about friendship from the Litsy Booked 2018 Challenge.

From the cover of Queens of Geek:

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

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Sunday Funday!

20180428_2044115569726202008085759.jpgIn non-reading related news, I spent Tabletop Game Day playing D&D with some fantastic friends. My husband has been DMing a 5e game for us for a few weeks now, and it’s a lot of fun! I haven’t had a lot of experience with D&D prior to this – I spent most of my teenage years playing White Wolf’s old World of Darkness. (I have almost a complete set of RPG books for that system to prove it – I’ll post pictures of those two bookcases someday. Maybe next Sunday!)

Today we’re going to the Baltimore Farmer’s Market to pick up some basil, Hex kombucha, and assorted other vegetables. We’re eating a lot more vegetables since I’ve gone on the AutoImmune Protocol diet, and I’m feeling so much better! I’ve also lost several pounds already, so that’s pretty exciting.

20180426_140753655079792788893295.jpgWe re-purpled my hair this week, so it’s back to vibrant, gorgeous purple, and I’m LOVING it. We let it go far too long before re-bleaching and dying it again. So glad to have it back to brilliant purple. We dyed it for the first time almost a year ago, and have redone it a few times since then. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to brown. I was a really pretty brown, actually, but THIS PURPLE IS SO GORGEOUS. So in love with it. I also really enjoy how it makes me stand out among other people, most of the time. It’s helped my self-confidence a lot.

That’s all I’ve got this week, looking forward to the Farmer’s Market and then chilling/cooking for the rest of the day. (One thing about the AIP diet – I do a lot more complex cooking, more often! But really, who doesn’t think pesto shrimp cucumber rollups sound awesome?)

Book Review: Crimson Bound

Crimson BoundCrimson Bound
by Rosamund Hodge
Fairy-tale Retelling
436 pages
Published 2015

Well, Rosamund Hodge has done it again. I think this one was actually better than Cruel Beauty, and about on par with Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Crimson Bound is billed as Cruel Beauty #2, but it doesn’t actually seem to take place in the same world. They’re only connected in that they’re both dark fantasy retellings of fairy tales. Crimson Bound is loosely (VERY loosely!) based on Little Red Riding Hood. It’s amazing.

In Rachelle’s world, The Forest is the dominating theme – it encroaches on villages and towns, sending “woodspawn” to attack people, and Forestborn to turn more humans into bloodbound and ultimately Forestborn. Humans are sheep to The Forest; prey to the Forestborn. Once a Forestborn has marked a human, they have three days to kill someone or they will die. If they kill someone, they become bloodbound – an intermediary step before they become completely Forestborn. Bloodbound have increased strength, resilience, and fighting skills, so the King has extended an offer to Bloodbound – even though they are known murderers, since they had to have killed someone to gain their powers – he will grant them clemency in exchange for their service to the realm. Guard the people from the woodspawn, the mindless monsters the Forest sends to attack people, and he’ll let you live.

So Rachelle is a Bloodbound, bound to the King. Unlike most, though, she still believes in some of the old pagan stories about The Forest and the Devourer – the ancient evil driving the Forest’s predatory ways. The book is about her quest to stop it from coming through into their world and destroying everything. There are twists and reveals that I cannot mention here, but it is an AMAZING piece of world-building and myth and I LOVED IT.

I also discovered she has several short stories post on her website so I’ll be binge-reading those for a while!

This book – and anything by Rosamund Hodge – is pure magic. If you like dark fairy tales, you can’t do better than this.

From the cover of Crimson Bound:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in a vain effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as the two become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic . . . and a love that may be their undoing. Within a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

 

Book Review: Cruel Beauty

cruel beautyCruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
Fairy-tale Retelling
342 pages
Published 2014

After reading Bright Smoke, Cold Fire I knew I HAD to find more Rosamund Hodge. She has a fantastic flair for taking fairy tales (or Shakespeare!) and twisting them into something darker but more realistic. Cruel Beauty is a twist on Beauty and the Beast, but this is no Stockholm Syndrome-suffering Beauty. She is resentful, and bitter, and angry at her father for subjecting her to this. She has trained her entire life to go to the Beast and destroy him, even if it means destroying herself too. What she find at the castle is nothing like what she expected, though, and neither is she what Hodge’s Beast expects. Watching these two bitter, mocking characters dance around each other to get to the bottom of the curse and what actually happened to their world is engrossing and beautiful.

I couldn’t put this book down once I started it, and I’ve already started Crimson Bound (Little Red Riding Hood), the next book in the same world. There’s also a novella, Gilded Ashes (Cinderella), that I should snag a copy of.

The world is lovely and evocative, with gods and Forest Lords and Demons who actively participate in the world and grant wishes and make deals. It’s a little bit Rumpelstiltskin, a little Fairy Godmother, a little Greek mythology, and all Rosamund Hodge. She’s got talent, and writes my favorite micro-genre SO WELL.

If you like dark fairy tales, read this and then everything else Rosamund Hodge has written. It’s excellent!

From the cover of Cruel Beauty:

The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in this dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Perfect for fans of bestselling An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

Library Loot Wednesday!

the merry spinsterThe Merry Spinster finally made its way to me through the library system! It’s a collection of short fantasy stories and I’ve been quite eager to read it. The author also recently came out as trans, so this is part of my effort to read more inclusively! There’s apparently a lot about gender in the book, too.

tolstoy purple chairI also checked out Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, which is my PopSugar pick for “favorite color in the title.” It’s about a woman spending a year dedicated to reading, so I’m hopeful I’ll find something in here for another PopSugar prompt, “a book mentioned in another book.” Also, that chair on the cover? I WANT IT.

red clocks dystopiaRed Clocks finally arrived in my holds! I’ve been pretty excited about this one, but there were a lot of people in line ahead of me. It’s another feminist dystopia – I love those – this one set in a small Oregon fishing town, so – my home state! Abortion and in vitro fertilization are both illegal in this dystopia, and it follows the stories of women dealing with that.

pretending to be normal aspergerAnd one of the books off my Autism Reading List arrived from another library system – Pretending to be Normal – Living with Asperger’s Syndrome. This is the expanded version published in 2015.

women from another planet autismIn not-quite-library-loot, I also bought the Kindle version of Women From Another Planet? Our Lives in the Universe of Autism on the recommendation of Catana, who commented on my review of Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate.

One of these days I’m going to gather some pictures of my library to show you guys my local branch. The librarians there are pretty awesome.

TTT: Top Ten Frequently Used Words in Fantasy Titles

Today’s topic from That Artsy Reader Girl was “Top Ten Frequently Used Words in <insert genre/age group> Titles” and because Fantasy is most of what I read, that’s what I’m going with! So in no particular order, these are the words I feel like I see the most often in Fantasy titles:

1. GLASS

Of these, the only one I’ve actually read yet is Girls Made of Snow and Glass, though the other four are on my TBR list as part of their respective series.

2. THRONE

I’ve read Game of Thrones and Throne of Jade, but not the other three. (Though again, they’re all on my TBR list, along with their series, and yes I totally just reused Throne of Glass.)

3. DRAGON

So of course I had to start with a Pern book here! The only one of these I haven’t read is A Natural History of Dragons – that’s from my TBR list.

4. DEEP

I’ve read Into the Drowning Deep (loved it!) and Deep Kiss of Winter (and most of that series). Deep Roots is book 2 of a Cthulu mythos series (Book 1 is on hold at the library!) Music of the Deep is on my TBR list and I’ve read a lot of reviews of The Wicked Deep but don’t actually think I’ll read it myself.

5. BLADE

I’ve only read the two on the right, but Traitor’s Blade’s summary reminds me of Dishonored. I’ve put a hold on it at my library.

6. SHADOW

The only one of these I haven’t read is Shadows of Self, which is the sequel to Alloy of Law, the very first review I ever posted on this blog!

7. BLOOD

I’ve…read all of these, actually. I reviewed Faerie Blood and Children of Blood and Bone.

8. WOLF

I’ve read most of these. Reviewed The Wolves of Dynamo.

9. FATE

I reviewed The Crown’s Fate and Fated. I’ve read all but the Robin Hobb series.

10. WIND

I’ve read all of these except the Piers Anthony book, actually.

Those are the first ten words that popped into my head for Fantasy titles. And I didn’t even use “Magic”!