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

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Moxie by: Jennifer Mathieu (CW: Misogyny, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault)

Summary:

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

The Review:

This was a book I kinda picked up on a whim. I have seen some ARC reviews about this book, and it seemed like a pretty awesome premise. I thought it was an amazing book that should be required reading for any young girl.

The book is set in high school in which the football players rule the school and pretty much get away with anything, and it was one incident in the classroom in which Mitchell, the quarterback made a sexist remark to the a girl, Lucy and when Lucy defended herself the class was punished. Vivian basically tells Lucy how that was the norm around the school. After looking through her mothers old stuff and realize that she was a Riotgrrrl she decides to to start a zine highlighting the problems girls have in the school and the misogyny they face.

I love that I got to see the “zine” within the book, it really made it feel as if I was in on the action. I also like how it started off as something small but than grew and started becoming inspiring to all the girls at the school. While the audience knows Vivian is the author, I like that she made it anonymous, so it reminded me a lot of Mr. Robot. I also like that it started a movement within the school in which most the girls were involved in.

Most the issues that was covered was the sexual harassment brought on by the football players with the “bump n grind”, the schools sexist dress code policies, and lack of funding in the girls sports teams. They are all real issues that many young girls face today. It also touched upon how sexual assault often gets mishandled by school administrators.

Vivian as a main character was very engaging. I like how she wasn’t afraid at first to do the zine because she wanted to reach as many girls as possible. I also like that has started off as very shy and only having just a few friends, mainly Claudia and Lucy.

I also love the emphasis on female friendship. You really don’t see a lot of female friendships in YA novels and the fact that the relationship between the girls seemed real. There is also a romance in the book, but it is not the main focus of teh book. There were some other characters like Kiera and Emma who I did like, but I kinda wish they were a bit more fleshed out.

Viv’s boyfriend Seth is a very well written male character, I like that he isn’t the “brooding YA protagonist”. he is actually very supportive of Viv writing Moxie, and he also knows when to be a good feminist ally. While there is times he almost ventures into “not all men” he understands that there is stuff that he will never understand. I also like how their relationship was actually well done, while they did fight it wasn’t to the point where they have the second act break up, it was an actual meaningful relationship.

A minor criticism I have is that I wish the book was little more diverse. While Lucy is a Hispanic character, I felt that some of the side POC characters weren’t really fleshed out. But I do like how Viv discusses how the 90s RiorGrrrls didn’t include many POC and was willing to make a change with Moxie.

In the end, Moxie was an amazing book that is has a lot of good feminist themes. I think it should be required reading for all young girls because of its themes. I think the book will hopefully inspire young girls to get involved in activism. It was has some engaging characters with a nice story along with it.

Grade: 4.5/5

 

Anna and the French Kiss by: Stephanie Perkins

Summary:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

The Review:

I have seen this book around the blogosphere as a good summer/beach read, mainly because it was a YA contemporary romance novel, and I also needed a break from the SFF books I have been reading.

The book deals with the fact that Anna is forced to go to a boarding school in France which of course she hates a lot because she is going to be away from her friends, especially during her senior year. Anna is a great character, mainly because she was a normal teenage girl going through teenage things in another country without the friends and family to support her

She also deals with trying to make new friends such as Meredith, Rashimi, Josh and St. Clair, and all of the supporting characters are also pretty well developed, and they didn’t go into the cliche high school character stereotypes.  While St. Clair may come across as the YA romantic lead, especially with a British accent. But he also had a good arc dealing with his father and his girlfriend, who he didn’t really mention to Anna. So there was a sort of love triangle but it wasn’t one of those bad love triangles.

Anna and St. Clair’s romance was really well done and it felt like a good love story, and while he did act like to typical YA romantic lead, his soft side was actually well developed. I liked that he wanted to know more about Anna’s life in the states. While there was some aspects of insta-love in the beginning, I liked how their relationship blossomed.

I also like some scenes spent in Paris and that it wasn’t just set around the boarding school, and the author did a good job at taking advantage of the setting.

The supporting characters were also good, mainly Rashimi and Josh. Both had a little bit of story with their characters, and I like that it wasn’t just about Anna and St. Clair. I also found a few Easter eggs with some other characters from other Stephanie Perkins books.

In the end, this was a great summer read, and a good addition to my YA contemporary reads. Anna and St. Clair was a good relationship that you would love to root for. I have also heard great things about Stephanie Perkins other books and I will be adding them to my TBR.

Grade: 4/5

Some Boys by: Patty Blount (TW: Sexual assault)

Summary:

When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But…Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send.

The Review:

This was a book on my TBR for about a year, but since it was at my library I decided to pick it up and read it. (Also TW; this book does discuss sexual assault.

The story takes place after a young girl. Grace was sexually assaulted at a party by the town golden boy Zac, and when it comes out she is branded as a slut, or someone who was asking for it, and a liar who wants to get revenge on Zac for a break up. After her assault she was ostracized by her friends and most of school because of it.

Grace, is a very strong character, especially for someone that has been through sexual assault. There was so many scenes in the book that got me saying “you go girl”, mainly the part of her owning some dude in class who tried to mansplain “slutiness” to her. Throughout the book she tries to not be defined by her assault, even if she loses friends in the process she never backed down. She also goes through many panic attacks, especially during times of stress.

Ian, was a character I felt wasn’t really as needed. Okay, I get that the author’s intention was to show the other side of the story and Ian’s relationship to Zac and the other lacrosse players. Grace and Ian both meet during a detention of cleaning lockers during spring vacation, while they do strike up a friendship it basically gets ruined by the peer pressure of the other lacrosse players, and I really hated what he did to her at lunch. While towards the end of the book he did finally grow a brain, he wasn’t the character I thought he was going to be.

I did some of the parent characters, mainly Grace’s mom and Ian’s dad. Grace’s mom was very supporting of her daughter’s assault and trying to be a good mother that I know she was trying to be, and making sure that Grace was okay. Ian’s dad was the one that basically schooled Ian on what sexual assault is and to stop being an ass towards Grace.

The main strength about this book is how it handles sexual assault. It deals mostly with the aftermath bu it also deals with the how other students reacted. There was a few students who Grace befriended who actually believed, and I kinda wish they had more development. It also kinda paints a grim reminder of what happens when a girl comes forward along with the sexism and misogyny that goes with it. According to the author it was suppose to be about Stubenville rape case, and how it focused primarily on the “poor boys” rather than the actual victim. Grace also dealt with harassment from the other lacrosse players, calling her a slut who was asking for it. Also it talked about how when she first went to the police they kept asking; what were you wearing? How many drinks did you have? Are you slept with him before?. Those all add up to how rape culture is defined.

In the end, Some Boys was a very great read. It highlights a pretty compelling issue with rape culture and how it affects the survivor, which is also added by a great and developed main character which could also add to the discussion.

Grade: 4.3/5

If &Then Thursday 5/18/2017

Happy Thursday everyone, and here is another If & Then Thursday

If&Then Thursdays is a book meme created by Alex@ Young at Heart Books. How do you participate? It’s easy! All you have to do is choose two books that are somewhat related in theme, writing style, genre, etc. Tell us how they are similar and why we would like them! All recommendations should be made in this format:

“If you like Book A, then you might enjoy Book B”

If you liked:

One of my favorite contemporary novels, which deals a lot with growing up, dealing with high school and also issues of depression. Its a great book that I am always happy to revisit again.

Than you might like:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Why: Both have a high school setting with great main characters who you want to root for at every page. Both Charlie and Aaron have a lot of similarities to each other including dealing with depression and trauma, and how it affects them.