Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Summary: 

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

The Review:

Geekerella, was one of my favorite contemporary stories, and I don’t usually read a lot of contemporary stories. This is more of a companion novel to Geekerella rather than a direct sequel, it is still set in the world of Geekerella with even some of the characters making a few quick cameos.

The star of this one, is Jessica Stone, who was the leading actress of the Starfield movie who was in Geekerella, who used the Starfield movie to try to push her own career. She really gets to shine in this book, and I like that she became a more fleshed out character in this book, talking about her own career and how the Starfield movie affected her.

Then there is Imogen, who is the definition of a fangirl, with her own fan campaign to #SaveAmara, Jessica’s character in Starfield. She also deals with online fan culture plus dealing with an ex-boyfriend who also goes to the convention.

I did feel that the beginning of the book was a little bit slow, and the plot really didn’t get going still at least 30% into the book. But the story did takes its time to follow the new characters in the Once upon a Con universe.

This book also touched upon a lot of issues in fandom culture especially when one is a female, and the online hate they would receive. It happened a lot to Jessica when Starfield premiered, and she was the one getting online hate and “ruining the franchise”. It was one of the main reasons why she hated Starfield and going to conventions and dealing with the hate, which is what of actresses have dealt with in real life, just ask Brie Larson, and Kelly Marie Tran.

The story also touches upon con harassment and dealing with the Cosplay is not Consent. Especially as this book is a love letter to fandom it does a good job at highlighting the dark side.

The main plot of the story is a retelling of the Prince and the Pauper in which two doppelgangers switch places and learning about the other side. It was mainly for good reason because when a script for the Starfield sequel got leaked it is up to Jessica to find out who did it by disguising herself as Imogen. Jessica as Imogen was one of my favorite parts about the book, she learning about much the character Amara means to people, and why Imogen wants to #SaveAmara. Also I loved her romance with Harper especially when pretending to be her best friend Imogen but wanting her as Jessica.

Also I really want Ashley Poston to write a Starfield book series, because I think it would be awesome, or even a collection of short stories I will take.

In the end, Princess and the Fangirl, was a perfect companion novel to Geekerella. It was a nice retelling of the Prince and the Pauper while also being a love letter to fandom. I love that the Once upon a Con series is really coming through.

Grade: 4.5/5

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.
When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves? 

The Review:

This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, mainly because I really loved Geekerella so much, and also the possibility of an Anastasia retelling in SPAACEEE, would also get me excited.

Yes, the story is an Anastasia retelling set in space, and it almost follows some of the same beats as the story of Anastasia, mainly about a lost princess, who is of course our main protagonist, but she doesn’t know it yet.

Ana is a great protagonist, she spent most of her life living in space with her Captain who found her, while in space. She is someone that always wants to know about her past, and where she came from.

Than there is D09, or Di who is a robot, and is honestly one of my favorite robot characters that I have read. While yes, he is a robot, he does have a lot of personality. It also helps that there is a lot of chapters, told through his point of view. The relationship between Ana and Di was amazing, and was shipping them the whole way through.

There is also Robb, who is another POV character. He is an heir, or rather the youngest heir to the throne. He is trying to figure out what happened to his father who was supposedly killed during the rebellion, and he trying to find out what really happened. He is a great prince-like character, and a lot of his POV chapters dealt a lot with his family and making sure that his brothers don’t take over and become ruler.

Jax, is the ships main pilot, and he comes from a race, who can see the future with the stars. He is also one of my favorite characters. I love his cooky attitude, and it reminded me a lot of Joker from the Mass Effect series. There is also a romance between Robb and Jax and while it does feature some aspects of insta-love with Robb from the first sight of Jax, wants to kiss him. But they also develop into a couple I would love to root for.

The plot, is basically a retelling of Anastasia, with Ana being delivered to the Grand Duchess, it also involves a semi prophecy that she is a Goddess, who it set to rule.

I felt that the Dossier crew, could have also been a bit more fleshed out, mainly because it has a ton of diverse characters to them, and I always love a sort ragtag crew set in space.

I liked learning about how the Iron Kingdom is set up, especially with how they deal with Metals, or robots, who are seen as inferior with the HIVE threat.

I also thought the villain reveal was a bit too obvious, especially as someone who has watched the movie Anastasia could figure out, but I did like how his motivation was revealed.

In the end, Heart of Iron was a great read and a real page turner. While it was a retelling, Ashley Poston did add a lot of new twists to the story. The characters were all very engaging and I want to see what happens next for our characters.

Grade: 4/5

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Summary:

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

The Review:

This was another author who I met at Boston Teen Author Festival, and hearing her talk about her book at the Out of Character, made me want to know more about this book.

This was a modern retelling of Cinderella, which reminded me a lot of the Hilary Duff movie, A Cinderella Story. It almost follows the same beats as Cinderella, in which a young orphan girl has to live with her step mother and evil step sisters, she puts up with abuse until she meets prince charming at a ball and live happily ever after. But this is a different set within the fandom of Sci Fi.

Danielle or Ella, is the main character. She is a nerd for Sci Fi, especially for the series Starfield, which is a semi based on Star Trek: The Original Series, a short lived series that has a huge following. There is a a movie based on the series coming out and she of course has some reservations. Ella is very much a fan girl, and that’s what I like about the character.

Darien, is another character in the novel, who is a young teen heart throb who is set to play Federation Prince Carmindor. Of course when he has cast, he really didn’t know what to make of the casting, and it had a lot of push back from the fandom, mainly Ella. It reminded me a lot of when Chris Pine was cast of Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movies and the amount of push back he got. But Darien is someone who was a closet nerd, and most people don’t see that due to his good looks and “insured abs”.

Ella and Darien’s started off online on her blog, and they would chat about Starfield in general, and than it moved to a semi romantic online relationship, they also don’t know who each other are which makes it a nice sweet relationship. That’s where the comparison to a Cinderella story comes in.

The supporting characters are also great. Sage, her co-worker at the food truck acts as the stand in for her fairy god mother, and she is also her best friend. Chloe is the evil step sister, and basically acts like one, and would constantly belittle Ella. Callipe, or Cal is the other step sister, who is actually nice to Ella. Catherine is her evil step mother, who would also belittle Ella and also her late father especially in regards to Starfield.

I also like some of the Easter Eggs it had in regards to the original Cinderella. It was a pumpkin food truck, and the ball is a Excelsior Con, which is a sci fi convention. While it was a modern retelling of Cinderella, it did have its own twist to it.

Starfield, just by reading about the show, makes me want to watch the show, but alas the show doesn’t exist. The book was a love letter to the Sci Fi fandom and it really shows especially once Ella makes it the convention. It also talks a lot about Hollywood in regards to sci fi. One aspect I really liked is the fake relationship Darien has with his costar Jess. While they weren’t meant to be together, they poke fun at their relationship and Hollywood in general. I kinda would have like to see the character of Jess, a bit more fleshed out because I did like her character.

In the end, Geekerella was a great read. It was one half of a Cinderella retelling and another half a love letter to Sci Fi fandom. It had a cute love story that made you want to root for the main characters.

Grade: 4.5/5