The Gender Secret by Bella Forrest

The Gender Secret
by Bella Forrest
#2 in the Gender Game Series

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Date: 2016
Pages: 411
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Dystopian
Days to Read: 2
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia

Gliding over the treacherous Green in a shaky aircraft that she has no idea how to land, Violet Bates is still in shock. The harrowing events of the previous night play over in her mind as she asks herself question after question.

Why did Lee Desmond Bertrand behave the way he did?

What is the truth about the mysterious silver egg stowed beneath her seat?

What happened to Viggo and where is her brother? Is either of them still alive?

When Violet manages to reach the toxic ground alive, she has landed in a world of unimaginable danger. She has barely time to catch her breath before she is sucked into a perilous journey at breakneck speed – to uncover secrets guarded for centuries and find the only two people that matter.

The Gender Secret follows the events that occured at the end of The Gender Game. We follow Viggo and Violet in the wake of the dramatic cliffhanger we were left on at the end of the first book as well as unravelling some epic betrayals.

The ideas that are examined throughout the the first two books explore gender diferentiation, stereotypes and how the world would look if we it were divided into two cities/countries run by each gender. It was interesting to see how the prejudice grow throughout the stories and how they are ingrained in each culture.

Violet and Viggo as characters are both morally questionable and as a reader I can say that it definitely made them more interesting to read about. They have already developed so much from the events in the first book that I felt more interested in where their stories we heading.

The Setting of The Green, Matrus and Patrus – which I take to be a post apocolyptic USA – allows the reader to really exeperience the dystopian nature. The Greens descriptions of toxicity and the creatures affected by it gives ‘The Wilder Girls’ and ‘Annihilation’ vibes that allows the reader to see the severity of being out there and experiencing that wilderness.

The developments in the plot of the Gender Secret develop the world exponentially from the Gender Game. We begin to see the implications of a world divided by gender.

There are many ethical questions that are raised throughout be beginning of this series that cause questions about what it would mean for our world if something became more evident. This gives readers an experience that fuels many feelings and thoughts as well as promoting discussion.

Plot: 6.5/10
Ease of reading: 5/10
Character Development: 6/10
World Building: 6.5/10
Quality of Writing: 6/10
Overall: 3.5/5

Review: ‘Girls with Sharp Sticks’ by Suzanne Young

‘Girls with Sharp Sticks’

By Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks #1

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: 2019
Pages: 400
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Science Fiction
Days to Read: 3
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

‘Girls with Sharp Sticks’ By Suzanne Young was 100% an impulse purchase for me. I was looking through the bookstore for a couple of books to take on my trip with me when I spotted ‘Girls with Sharp Sticks’ and was instantly drawn to the cover. This impulse really paid off!

At the beginning of the story we meet Mena whom we follow for the duration of the story. She attends The Innovation Academy with her friends where they are taught to be the post perfect girls. The girls do not question and the men that run the academy rely on this. But as Mena and her friends begin to question the order of things we begin to see a different side of the men who have curated this careful existance.

Mena as a main character is complex. Even at the beginning of the book she finds it impossible to resist the urge to do things differently. As hard as she tries she cannot seem to do the right thing, as a character in this kind of world I can appreciate that. I definitely began to connect her her as our story teller throughout the story and wanted nothing more than to see the girls become their own.

The development of that characters within the plot was done really well. I was getting so agitated with how Mena and her friends were speaking and how they were being spoken about. However I knew it was important within the context of the story and honestly it made me more engaged and more eager to see what was going to happen. The story developed at a pace that kept me interested in the story from start to finish making it a very fast read.

Innovations Academy is set in a futuristic America where politics plays a huge part in everything. The descriptions of the school conjured images of old English buildings with turrets, spires and amazing architecture. It definitely had a role in my eagerness to continue with the story, the descriptions really fed into the plot and creating an atmosphere the reader felt a part of.

I cannot wait for the next book in the Girls with Sharp Sticks series to be released and return to Mena’s story.

Plot: 9/10
Ease of reading: 9/10
Character Development: 8.5/10
World Building: 9/10
Quality of Writing: 9/10
Stars: 4.5/5

June 2019 Book Haul

This book buying machine has really settled down in the last couple of months and honestly my bank account is grateful for it.

Since I am going away I wanted to pick up a couple of paperbacks to take with me – fun fact I mostly own hard covers because thats what I prefer. I also picked up a couple of graphic novels!

For my trip I ended up buying 3 books. Reasoning… ‘Impostors’ By Scott Westerfeld is one that I’ve wanted to read for ages but just haven’t picked up, so what a better time to do it, also it looks like a pretty easy read which is great for a holiday.

“Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . but very few people have ever seen them together. This is because Frey is Rafi’s double, raised in the shadows of their rich father’s fortress. While Rafi has been taught to charm, Frey has been taught to kill. Frey only exists to protect her sister. There is no other part of her life. Frey has never been out in the world on her own – until her father sends her in Rafi’s place to act as collateral for a dangerous deal. Everyone thinks she’s her sister – but Col, the son of a rival leader, is starting to get close enough to tell the difference. As the stakes grow higher and higher, Frey must decide whether she can trust him – or anyone in her life.”


‘Girls with Sharp Sticks’ by Suzanne Young is one that I hadn’t really heard much about but after reading the synopsis I think its one I’ll really enjoy.

“‘Girls with Sharp Sticks’ by Suzanne Young is one that I hadn’t really heard much about but after reading the synopsis I think its one I’ll really enjoy. The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.”

The final book I picked up was ‘Emergency Contact’ By Mary H.K. Choi. This one I have heard a lot about and it is very mixed. Some people really enjoyed it and others really didn’t like it. I’m hoping I’m the former and I really like it. I definitely gave me beach/pool read vibes which is exactly what I was going for.

“For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.  When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

I also picked up 3 graphic novels earlier this month, which I am keen to get to when I get back.

First I picked up ‘Ms. Marvel: Volume 1: No Normal’ By G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona as well as ‘ Captain America: Winter in America’ and ‘Thor: God of Thunder Reborn’

Review: ‘Red Queen’ By Victoria Averyard

‘Red Queen’

By Victoria Aveyard

Book #1 in the Red Queen Series

Publisher: Harper Teen
Date: 2015
Pages: 383
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Fantasy
Days to Read: 3
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

We meet Mare in here small town and are introduced to the blood system very early on. I found this helpful and easier to follow. Mare is opinionated and strong willed and gives readers a view of this world as someone who has experienced the real negatives of being a Red Blood.

I’d heard a lot about the Red Queen series. I have been hesitant to pick it up because of all the hype and also the cover, they are not my favourite. But I decided to pick it up anyway and give this story that is either loved or hated, a go.

The story soon takes off with a discovery of powers that Mare should not have and honestly a whole lot ensues from there.

this story has Princes, an arrogant King and Queen (who honestly I could not like any less than I do right now), a corrupt government and a rebel group.

There seems to be so much going on at every point in the story that you can’t really get bored.

I did get overwhelmed with all the names of all the people throughout the story and at different points I did think ‘wait who is that again?’ However this didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the book on a whole and I am actually really excited to continue on with the series.

Plot: 8.5/10
Ease of reading: 8/10
Character Development: 7.5/10
World Building: 8/10
Quality of Writing: 8/10
Stars: 4/5

What are your thoughts on the Red Queen Series?