December 28, 2012

Review of All Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen with Interview

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, “All Men of Genius “takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible.

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.

But keeping the secret of her sex won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’s alter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it’s not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it’s surviving that long.

add to goodreadsAll Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen
Publication Date:  September 27, 2011
Trade Paperback Release:  November 13, 2012
Publisher:  Tor Books

Available for Purchase:
amazon / B&N / TBD / indiebound

* This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinion **

MaryAnn NewAll Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen is a wonderful steampunk read with a Shakespearean twist.   A story of a young girl’s aspirations for equality for woman.

Violet Adams’ dream since she was a young girl was to go to Illyria College to study alongside other genius’ in the field of science.  Unfortunately for her, this elite college accepts only male students, and Violet has decided to take it upon herself to find a way to gain access into this school and prove to all that she too is a genius and belongs within the walls of this prestigious school.

So how does Violet go about accomplishing her dream?  By posing as her twin brother, Ashton, and fooling her friends, the professors, and the duke of Illyria that she is a man.  With the help of her brother Ashton, and their good friend, Jack, who coincidently also will be attending Illyria AND becomes Violet’s roommate, the plan goes off without a hitch.  After successfully gaining access into the school as Ashton, Violet must keep up her hoax.  She also develops an idea in which she will show her true self at the end of the year Science Fair when she presents her project for all to see.

With Violet’s need for secrecy and being surrounded by an all-male environment, it is without a doubt that hilarity will ensue and that there would be many opportunities in which her guise could be discovered.  Especially with the dukes cousin, Cecily, developing strong feelings towards Violet/Ashton and with Violet developing some sort of feelings towards the duke, Ernest, himself.

All Men of Genius by A.C. Rosen was such an enjoyable read.  The characters were easily likeable, and though the storyline may not be that original, the story itself was fun to read.  Not only was it about Violet’s need to keep her secret, but also revolved around the mystery surrounding Illyria was a fun element in the story.  With the different encounters that Violet and her group of friends come across in the school’s basement, it was that aspect of the story that kept me hooked.

There was so much blackmailing going on it was making my head spin, but it was also what kept the story interesting.  I was constantly kept wondering how Violet would be able to keep up her ruse, especially when feelings were starting to surface all over the place.

I really enjoyed the way in which the author introduced the backgrounds of the main characters in the story.  Stories within the main storyline.  I alsoreally enjoyed the action and pacing near the end of the book.  It was so exciting and I loved how the author jumped from one character to the other, letting the reader know what each character was going through at the particular time.

Of all the characters in the book, my favorite had to be Violet’s twin brother Ashton.  Although he’s not found when the stories revolve around the escapades in the school, the parts where Violet and her friends spent their time with Ashton were my favorite.  His attitude and personality was so fun and I couldn’t get enough of him.

Fans of steampunk, Shakespeare’s  Twelfth Night, and the movie Who’s The Man (which I personally think is such a fun movie!) will really enjoy All Men of Genius.



Top Favs with Lev A.C. Rosen

You’re home alone, there’s a fire!  Top 3 things you’d grab and save from the fire.

fire LR

Our Hippo, obviously.  And all his friends.  I originally bought Hippo for myself as a sort of comforting gift when the publication date of my book was moved back.  But honestly, I’d been eyeing him for ages and just needed an excuse.  Since then, hippos have become a bit of an obsession.  Besides being ridiculously adorable (seriously, Google “baby hippo” and try to tell me otherwise), they’re also one of the most deadly animals in the world.  I think I see myself in them.  We actually handed out hippos as wedding favors when my husband and I got married.  Little stress toy hippos with a custom logo on them.  A fun tip for those looking for wedding favors: look into custom stress toys they make for business giveaways.  They’re cheap and weird and way more memorable than that tin of mints you were thinking about.

My backup hard drive, absolutely.  I can’t lose my writing.  I’m working on four different projects right now; an All Men of Genius sequel, a noir, a kids book, and some literary fiction.  I back up regularly.  I used to not back up regularly, and then my computer died because there was a crooked gear or something in the fan and it ended up shredding itself from the inside, and losing everything.  So now I back up.

And probably our wedding cake topper, which is a custom made piece of art by Lisa Snellings.


Top 3 favorite techniques to overcome writers block and why:


I have this theory about writers block and overcoming it.  Keep in mind that I have never taking a neuroscience class in my life, but I feel that if you do something else creative, then that other creative part of your brain massages the writing-creative part of your brain, and gets the kinks out.  Sounds real science-y, no?  So what I like to do are crafty things.  I dye my own clothes, I do sponge stamping on clothing (I can turn a white t-shirt in a green t-shirt with a skull and crossbones pattern, given enough time), I mix cologne – I make things.  I think as long as you’re staying creative, you’re stimulating that creative part of your brain.  But you can let the writing just sit for a while, forget about it, and then when you come back to it, it’s like your creativity has been re-activated.  The main thing is not to let the writers block stress you out; don’t dwell on it, keep busy.  When it happens, just say “okay, time for a break” and go do something else.  You’ll know when it’s gone because you won’t be able to not write.

But, failing that, a good long walk outside and exercise are good, too.


Top 3 musicians/bands/groups and why:


Paloma Faith, Amy Winehouse, and Florence and the Machine.  I love a smokey, female voice with an old school bent but a modern sensibility.  I especially love Paloma Faith because her music makes me feel like I’m writing in a club in the 30s or 40s while a lounge singer croons on stage.  But if I need something jumpier, I may add in some Janelle Monae or Kimbra.  Kimbra’s “Cameo Lover” video is sure to brighten up any day.


Top 3 favorite movies of all time and why:


The Big Sleep.  Bogart and Bacall.  Do I need another reason?  It’s such a wonderful movie, and their chemistry is amazing.  The scene where they talk about horse racing, but they’re not talking about horse racing, or where they prank call the police… Those scenes are magic.

The Last Seduction.  I taught a class on the Femme Fatale for a while, and this movie is pretty much the end-all be-all of femme fatale-ness.  The gender-bending, the exploitation of male sexual fear, and everything about Linda Fiorentino’s scheming is just pitch perfect.

Singin’ In the Rain.  Because how can you say no to a bizarre fantasy sequence that goes on for 20 minutes and doesn’t, in any way, further the plot?  Because, “Pierre, you shouldn’t have come!” was something that was shouted regularly amongst my group of friends during my senior year of college – one of my housemates drew a cartoon in which she killed everyone who said it.  Because nothing can beat Debbie Reynolds.

About the Author:


LEV AC ROSEN grew up in Manhattan. He attended Oberlin College and received his MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. His work has been featured in Esopus Magazine and on various blogs including He lives in lower Manhattan.

Connect with the Author:  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

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