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

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary:

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

The Review:

This is another book that I read outside of my usual genre reads, which is more of a YA Contemporary mystery novel centered around a young girl trying to find out what happened to her sister.

The main format of the book, follows both Sadie’s story with trying to figure out the murder of her sister. There is also a podcast that is following Sadie’s story as well as the murder of her sister Mattie which happened years ago.

The main strength of the book was the relationship between Sadie and her sister Mattie. Growing up Sadie was always very protective of her sister Mattie, especially when dealing with their alcoholic mother who never really cared about them, even after Mattie’s death their mother became very absent and would always abandon her.

I really did like Sadie the character. She was smart and reliant especially when she was on her own trying to track down her sister’s murderer by any means necessary  and she always used her street smarts to figure everything out.

The podcast format was also very well done. It the sort of boom of true crime podcasts it added a lot to the story especially with the character of West McCray the host of the podcast. While it may seem that he is doing the story about Sadie and her sister for sensationalism, there is times that he really does care about Sadie and is also invested in trying to find out what happened to her sister.

With Sadie, there was also a lot of themes of pedophilia and grooming. When Sadie finds out who the killer is, it also shows how a man can kinda put blinders on a town and that’s how he was able to get away with it for so long.

In the end, I truly enjoyed Sadie. The podcast format really felt as if I was in on the action, trying to figure out the mystery surrounding Sadie and her sister while also being really invested in Sadie’s story.

Grade: 5/5

Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Summary:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

The Review:

This book was on my TBR for a long time, even before I heard about the Netflix movie, and seeing the trailer kinda made me want to read it more, and luckily my library had it.

With Willowdean or Dumplin, she deals with the fact that she is fat, and the daughter of a beauty queen. She deals with her normal life with school and friends, while also dealing with the constant bullying from classmates.

The beginning of the book does a good job at setting up her character arc, and seeing why she would join a beauty pageant even if she was seen as unconventional. With her entering the pageant she inspired other girls who weren’t seen as conventional beauty to also join, including Millie, another fat girl, and Hannah, a queer latina. I thought they were great characters and I loved Millie’s story arc.

What I like about the book is the theme of empowerment and the message about body positivity. It didn’t deal with the fact that Willowdean needed to lose weight or having her be happy after weight loss. It also took a lot of shots at diet culture, and how it made her miserable.

She also deals a lot with grief, especially with her aunt Lucy, who she was very close with, even closer than her mother. Willowdean made for a great main character because throughout the book I was constantly rooting for her at every turn.

I thought her relationship with her mother was pretty layered. Yes, her mother would try to get her to diet, and become more like her. As Willowdean enters the pageant the relationship starts to unravel a bit, but in the end, both of them kinda come to an understanding and I liked that.

There is also some romance. Firsts there is Bo, her co-worker at the diner and their relationship was really good, and you could see that he cared about her. While it does come across as a cliche romance I did enjoy seeing them together. Then there is Mitch, football player at her school and it also had the cliche romance in which he was almost embarrassed to be seen with her.

In the end, I loved reading Dumplin. It was a great book from start to finish. It was a great and empowering message with an amazing character in Willowdean to follow. I will definitely be watching this when it comes on Netflix.

Grade: 4.5/5

Dear Rachel Maddow by: Addrienne Kisner

Summary:

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

The Review:

Trigger Warning: This book contains scenes dealing with abuse and homophobia. 

This is an author I saw at Boston Teen Author Festival, and while I didn’t get a chance to pick up her book there I decided to add to by TBR. This was a very quick read, which I sometimes enjoy especially with YA Contemporary.

I would describe this as a sort queer-girl version of Perks of Being a Wallflower, with a young girl dealing with everyday life, while sort of writing letters to Rachel Maddow, a reporter for MSNBC.

Brynn, is entering a new school year after the death of her old brother and a very bad break up from an ex-girlfriend, Sarah. She spends most of her time as a loner just trying to get through the year, and also dealing with her mother and her stepfather, Fart Weasel.

I like the concept that the book is told through her draft emails to Rachel Maddow, and I think it makes the book or her actions seem very therapeutic, as if she is writing to Rachel Maddow herself. Throughout the book she sends about a few actual emails to Rachel Maddow, sort of explainiunbg about her life. With the format of emails, it helped me feel for Brynn and form more of a connection with her.

The main plot of the book is dealing with a student receiving a seat on the selection committee of the new superintendent of schools, and while ex Sarah, and Adam, the school’s popular jock want to only open up the selection to honor students, Brynn wants to make sure everyone has a voice.

Throughout the book, she also tries to run for student body president against Adam, and she has to deal with a lot of negative campaigning and homophobia directed at her.

At home she deals a lot with her abusive stepfather, and neglectful mother and some of the abuse scenes could be triggering and effects her mentally.

She also starts to form a relationship with Micheala, a new girl at school who she begins to like, and rebound from Sarah. I though their relationship was very cute and it was nice to see some f/f relationships that didn’t end bad. I found myself rooting for her constantly.

She also has some great friends, such as Lacey, who helps tutors her for her classes and Justin, who tries to get Brynn back on the school paper and also help deal with an arson that Adam may have done at the War memorial.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed, and while it was satisfying, I would have liked to see it more fleshed out.

In the end, Dear Rachel Maddow, was a nice sweet read taking a journey with a young girl navigating through life with the help of Rachel Maddow. I though Brynn was a very compelling character to take this journey with

Grade 4/5

What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertali

Summary:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

The Review:

When i first heard that Becky Albertali and Adam Silvera was writing a book together, I was very ecstatic. I am a fan of both of their writings and I wanted to see what they could come up with together. I also had the strage feeling that I “Will suffer and be happy about it” because I know both of their writings.

This book is a very much like a romantic comedy with two boys falling in love in New York City. It started with a chance encounter in which Arthur, while working in a post office meets Ben who is mailing stuff back to his ex-boyfriend, they strike up a little bit of a flirtation before going on their way. I even liked how some of their beginning moments was interrupted by a Flash Mob proposal.

Arthur is the sort of hopeless romantic type, and is trying to figure out who the “cute boy” from the Post office was and is trying to figure out everything about him. His character was mainly written by Albertali, with him coming from Georgia and just visiting New York for the summer. A lot of her knack for writing great characters comes with Arthur. I also kinda relate for his love of Broadway musicals and him referencing Hamilton every chance he gets.

Ben, who was written by Silvera, is a white passing Puerto Rican living in New York and meet Arthur while dealing with a recent break up from his boyfriend Hudson. Adam Silvera wrote his character as very relatable, and his best friend Dylan, was a riot. The fact that he is very white passing is brought up a lot throughout the book, along with the racism he had to face.

With both Ben and Arthur, they are both sort of opposites. Ben, is spending his summer in summer school and is just trying to get by in school, while Arthur is an Ivy League bound student. But I did love the connection they had with one another, and they both complimented each other in a sense. While their first date was almost a bust they did enjoy each other, and I loved reading about their courtship.

Since it is very much a romantic comedy, it did follow almost the same beats of the romantic, with a few cliche moments such as “the misunderstanding” and trying to win each other back. With both of Alberatali’s and Silvera’s writing both of these characters came alive with every page, with me humming “Only Us” from Dear Evan Hansen.

In the end, What if It’s Us, was a match made in heaven with two great YA authors. Both Silvera and Albertali crafted a great love story with two boys, falling in love that one summer. I enjoyed reading every page of it.

Grade: 4.7/5

WWW Wednesday 10/24/2018

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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Last year I read, All Rights Reserved and I really enjoyed reading it. It was about a world in which every word is copyrighted, so speaking will cost you. A young girl named Speth, decided not to speak and sparked a revolution. So far the sequel expands heavily on its world and its premise and I am enjoying it.

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This is a graphic novel that I always wanted to read. I am a fan of Brian K. Vaughan’s writing mainly Saga, and this is a post apocalyptic world in which all men are dead and there is only one.

What did you recently finish?

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After years of putting it off, I finally tasted the Mark Lawrence Kool-Aid, and loved it. I really enjoyed reading this book. It had everything I need in a dark high fantasy, with murder and stabby, stab. Sort of like if nuns were also killer assassins. I can’t to see where this story ends up. Thank you Meltotheany

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This is the second book I read by Holly Black. While I did enjoy the book, I did feel that the characters didn’t stick with me like they did in The Cruel Prince.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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The YA crossover event of the century. Ever since this book was announced, it was on my TBR. I recently saw them at Boston Book Festival, and they are awesome people. Now I just want to know if it’s a Silvera ending or an Albertali ending.

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This is another YA contemporary dealing with police brutality, but also issues involving mental health. I also meet the author at Boston Book Festival, and hearing him talk about the book, made me want to go and pick it up.

That is my WWW Wednesday. What books are you currently reading? What have you recently finished and what will you be reading next? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

One of Us is Lying by: Karen M. McManus

Summary:
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. 
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? 
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

The Review:

This is a book sort outside of what I usually read because I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary, but I do like a good mystery book, and this book had it.

It started with five students in detention, all of whom look straight out of The Breakfast Club coming from all different walks of life, and while at first they seem like the cardboard cutouts of those characters as the book went on they started to become more fleshed out.

The “death” happens rather quickly with Simon, having an allergic reaction and dying, while it does start as an accident there is people who believe that he was poisoned. Since all of them were in the room, they all became suspects. As the book goes on, you begin to believe that all of them has a reason to kill Simon, mainly because he posts on a sort of Gossip-Girl type website spilling all of the students dirty laundry, and it revealed a lot of their deepest darkest secrets.

I liked that the book was told through all of their POVs, it really fleshed out a lot of their characters, and you begin to realize that they are more than just a Brain, a Jock, a Princess or a criminal.

I also liked how it talked a lot about the age of social media, and how the story became a national news scandal. It actually had some commentary about news media in general and how it affects those who are involved in the story.

Also with the mystery itself, it actually keeps you guessing with a whodunit, but it also evolves into a whydonit mystery, and a how. Because even with the reveal of the killer you still want to know, how and why.

In the end, I really enjoyed One of Us is Lying. It was a good YA mystery, that kept you guessing throughout the book. The characters were very fleshed out and you wanted to root for. It was takes a lot of good twist and turns.

Grade: 4/5