Review: The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con #2) by Ashley Poston

The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con, #2)The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jessica Stone planned to use the Starfield reboot as a stepping stone to greatness. Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel it’s working out that way.

Afraid of being typecast, she wants to distance herself from it as much as she can, but with the sequel in the works and the fate of her character up in the air, that is becoming a challenge.

Attending the same Con that her costar, Darien, met the love of his life, Elle Wittimer, at the previous year, she begins to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of it all.

Imogen Lovelace is a fangirl attending the Con as well. A fangirl who looks surprisingly like Jessica Stone. When people end up confusing one for the other, a brilliant life swap takes place.

Imogen is hoping to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being wiped out of the Starfield universe forever. Certainly, Jessica, who played Amara on screen would agree?

We follow the two girls as they swap lives and learn the valuable lesson of, the grass is not always greener on the other side of that damn fence.

I was so happy to return to ExcelsiCon and the whole fan vibe surrounding it. For me, this one wasn’t quite as enjoyable as Geekerella.

I legit swooned over that for a week!

While I did still like this a lot, Ashley Poston’s writing is just so fun, I think it suffered a bit because I don’t really know the story of The Prince and the Pauper.

Obviously, this is not the book’s fault, it is mine.

One of the things I loved so much about Geekerella was all the little details connected to the original Cinderella story. To me, these were like finding little Easter eggs throughout. I loved it!

I still had a lot of fun with this book, don’t get me wrong, just not as much.

I am really looking forward to Book 3, a Beauty and the Beast retelling! Heck, I know that story like I wrote it myself.

To the stars, Ashley Poston!

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Blog Tour: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet CuteTweet Cute by Emma Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My heart just exploded over the cheesiest (grilled-cheesiest, that is) romance I have ever read!!!

Love, love, love this with my whole body and soul!

When fast food behemoth, Big League Burger, announces a new line of grilled cheese sandwiches, no one is more surprised than twins, Jack and Ethan Campbell.

Their surprise comes from the fact that one of the specialty sandwiches has the exact same ingredients, and name, as a grill cheese they know very well.

It was created by their Grandma and has been on their family’s New York City deli menu for decades.

Shocked and chagrined by the announcement, Jack turns to Twitter to call BLB out. That one tweet sparks an epic Twitter battle that takes not just NYC, but the world by storm!

Little does he know, at the other end of the Big League Burger Twitter account, is an overachieving classmate of his, Pepper.

Pepper is not native to NYC, having moved there at the start of high school, leaving her hometown of Nashville behind.

Feeling lost and alone in the big city, Pepper throws herself into her studies with an intensity unmatched by most of her peers at the super competitive private school in which she is enrolled.

Unfortunately, neither teen is prepared for the physical and emotional toll the social media battle will have on them.

Over time, neither Jake, nor Pepper feels good about the whole thing and both wish they weren’t involved. They’re losing sleep and other more wholesome activities begin to take a backseat to the nonstop drama fest.

At school, Pepper and Jake begin to see more and more of each other and a precious friendship develops.

Little do they know, they have also been corresponding for months on an anonymous direct messaging app created by Jake and used by everyone in their school.

Assigned the pseudonyms, Wolf and Bluebird, their flirty banter is a ray of light in both their lives. But when Jack inadvertently figures out who Bluebird is, how will he navigate transitioning their relationship from the screen to real life.

Full of heart, humor and delicious food, Tweet Cute is sure to delight readers of all ages. I absolutely ate up this story from beginning to end.

There is so much more to this than I have words to describe here. Great friendships, fantastic character growth, witty banter, this book truly brought it all!

Pepper and Jack were both so well developed. The challenges they faced as they completed high school, trying to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, were really well handled.

Family is a big influence on this story as well and I thought those elements were so relatable and well written.

I am really impressed with this as a debut novel. The pacing and plot twists were expertly crafted to keep the reader engaged throughout.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review, as well as including me in the blog tour.

It has been so much fun and I wish Emma Lord the best with this release.

If this book is any indication, she is poised to have one heck of a career. I cannot wait to see what sort of story she comes up with next!

Tweet Cute releases on Tuesday, January 21st and will be available at your favorite book sellers and via online retailers. Be sure to pick up your copy. You don’t want to miss out on this adorable story!

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Review: Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Jane AnonymousJane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane Anonymous is your run of the mill, 17-year old girl, living in a suburban town, New England state.

That is until she gets abducted while out running an early morning errand. She remains in captivity for 7-months. Locked in a room. Alone.

This is her story, following ‘then’ and ‘now’ timelines until ‘then’ and ‘now’ merge. The narrative itself is more ‘stream of consciousness’ then I tend to enjoy but I’ll tell you what, in this case, it didn’t bother me at all.

I actually feel that it was a really smart choice by the author, as it made the conveyance of this wild tale seem more real. Like a friend was recounting a horrific thing that had happened to them.

When I say ‘horrific thing’, I mean it. This book is not for the sensitive. The violence perpetrated against Jane, being stripped of her freedom and her sense of safety, amongst other traumas, was hard to read.

Her efforts toward recovery were equally heavy and disturbing. In some ways, I think that was even more difficult to read, her struggles to try to adapt back to the life she had before.

Severe trauma, feeling broken and the pathways to recovery are all covered within these pages. I think if this book is read at the right time, by the right person, it could really mean a lot to them and become a favorite.

Hard-hitting the entire way through, if you can stomach it, I think the message of hope that ultimately shines through is worth the effort.

It was that way for me, at least. Although my heart was a little battered and bruised at the end, it was worth it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it!

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Review: All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Joline Courtney

All-American Muslim GirlAll-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Allie Abraham is a regular girl. Living in the South with her close-knit family, she excels in school and participates in the general activities that most kids her age take part in.

The thing is, Allie is keeping a secret from the outside world. Her family is Muslim and she’s not sharing that fact with anyone.

This book opens up with a blatant display of discrimination against her father and it really never lets up from there.

Although this story may make some people uncomfortable, I think it is an important story and a powerful examination of identity and societal prejudices.

While it is true that this is a story that needs to be written, and more importantly read, it wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting which decreased my enjoyment level just a smidge.

I was sold on this book as a sweet romance between a Muslim girl and a boy whose father is one of America’s most notorious shock jocks. It is true that this exists in this story, however, I wanted more of Allie and Wells.

For me, the focus of the book was obviously Allie’s own exploration of her identity and owning and embracing her faith. A lot of the time we follow her with a new group of friends she discovers over the course of the book and their discussions of Islam as it relates to their lives and the larger world around them.

I did appreciate those discussions but as mentioned earlier, I picked this up with romance in mind and really wanted more of that.

As a Contemporary exploring self-identity and the Muslim faith in general, this was really well done. Courtney has a smooth and easy writing style and I would definitely pick up more books from her.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and am so happy this book is out in the world!

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Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear MartinDear Martin by Nic Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Impactful. Important. Immersive.

There are many different ways in which we learn about the world around us. One of the most important ways is through experience.

Our personal experiences help to shape our views, opinions and really who we are as people.

As we all know, people experience the world differently for a variety of distinct reasons. Unfortunately, one way in which this is true is based on the color of a person’s skin.

I know that as a white person, there are certain issues that I will never understand based on personal experience; I have to look outside myself and my day-to-day existence if I want to acknowledge and understand these important matters that affect so many.

That’s one of the reasons why I think books such as this are so crucial. That’s one of the many reasons why there has been such a push, and a well-received push fortunately, for more OWN voices books.

They provide windows through the eyes of the characters, so the reader can learn and gain knowledge from the life experiences of another.

Dear Martin is a wonderfully written novella about a boy struggling to understand race relations within his community and the country, the United States, at large.

I loved the format of this and although some of it seemed ‘surface level’, as I have noticed some readers comment, I think overall that was a wise choice by the author.

In my opinion, to make this story approachable to the widest audience, it was important to keep it this way. Not everyone is comfortable picking up a 400 or 500-page book like most of us are.

I think the way this story was written helps to get it into the hands of the largest number of people possible and for a story as important as this, that is what matters.

I highly recommend picking this one up if you haven’t already.

Nic Stone is a talented storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her work.

As mentioned above, this is short so if you are looking for some shorter reads to help you reach that GoodReads 2019 Reading Challenge goal, you should definitely pick this one up.

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Review: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

When the Sky Fell on SplendorWhen the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

This is a tough one.

A sort of genre-mash of things I love but together seemed a little disjointed but still good…yeah…

A few years back the town of Splendor was wracked by an industrial accident. Pretty much everyone in the town was effected in some way.

The plant were the accident occurred literally employed about half the town. There was an explosion and a lot of people were killed.

As you can for imagine, for a small town, this had horrible ramifications. People had brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and spouses stolen away from them in an instant.

In part, that is what this book is about. Even though it is around 5-years later, the aftermath continues to be challenging for those remaining residents of Splendor.

We follow a group of teens who have really come together since the accident. The adults in their lives are dealing with their own grief and sort of left the kids on their own to deal with theirs. This group of kids has come to rely on each other in both meaningful and beautiful ways.

As an exploration of grief, this is a touching, heart-wrenching story but there is also a science-fiction element that I found truly interesting.

You can tell that the author really enjoys science, as do I. There are detailed sections on black holes, time/space, fibonacci spirals and the idea of a cosmic consciousness.

I loved the friend group and how supportive they were of one another and I loved the science. However, there was something a little wonky about the way it was all strung together. It didn’t feel cohesive to me.

As always, this is 100% subjective and you may read this and think, ‘what the hell was Meg talking about?’ And that’s fine!

Just for me, it felt like the narrative was fighting over what kind of story it was trying to be. It didn’t feel like a seamless composition, if that makes sense.

Overall, I am really glad that I read this book. It is definitely a thoughtful exploration of a lot of interesting and important topics. I also think Emily Henry is a very talented woman and clearly a lot more intelligent than I am!

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Review: All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

All the Bad ApplesAll the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Break the stigma, break the curse.

An absolutely enchanting feminist tale!

I was so enthralled by this story, I could not put it down. As Deena begins to unravel the mysteries of her family tree whilst on a search to find her sister, Mandy, assumed dead, I was completely swept up in their family lore. I wanted to know everything about the Rys family.

Fowley-Doyle seamlessly blended past and present together as the narrative unfolds. The reader takes a front seat as history repeats itself again and again. Women and girls are stripped of their power and choice, made to live false lives. It was heart-wrenching and felt extremely genuine.

At the beginning of the novel, Deena, our teenage protagonist comes out to her family with a mixed reaction. She is a student at a Catholic school and has been raised within a conservative household. She is struggling with her identity and being able to live her truth.

I thought this aspect of the story was so well done, as were all aspects really, but the feelings evoked as Deena questions whether or not she is a ‘nice, normal girl’, were just so powerful. That’s how the story kicks off and as far as gut-punching, hard-hitting topic choices, never lets up.

I loved the format the author chose to slowly reveal the truth at the heart of this tale. I am going to be thinking about this one for a long time to come. I am not going to say anything else in regards to the plot because I think it would best serve the story, and your reading experience, to go into this with as little information as possible.

A story of family, identity, secrets, truth and power, I am still reeling by how much this story has impacted me. Truly stunning.

While this is a fully fictional story, the topics explored within were well researched by the author and are based on true events that happened throughout the course of Ireland’s history. As the author lives in Ireland and is Irish herself, that is where the story is focused, however the issues the girls and women faced are universal.

Please read this book. Please read this book. Please read this book and as always, this includes the Author’s Note at the end. Read that too!!

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Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

10 Blind Dates10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I have an new favorite YA Contemporary!!

This is the most adorable, sweetest book about family and self-discovery that I have EVER read.

It’s so true, guys! I loved this with my whole heart and soul.
This book is a blessing, Ashley Elston is a blessing.
I am even having a hard time forming legitimate sentences right now.

This precious story follows Sophie, who on the eve of Christmas break, is looking forward to nothing more than spending some quality time with her boyfriend, Griffin. Her parents are traveling to stay with her older sister, Margot, who is pregnant with her first child and having a slightly complicated pregnancy.

The stated plan is that Sophie will be traveling to her Grandparent’s house to stay with them for the entirety of her holiday.

Secretly, she hopes to sneak back home as much as she can to be with Griffin. Unfortunately, when she overhears Griffin tell one of his friends that he wants a break from Sophie, the only thing broken is her heart.

Later that same night, when her Grandmother, Nonna, finds Sophie crying outside her house, she hatches a scheme to get Sophie’s mind of stupid-ole’ Griffin. Her plan: have family members set poor Sophie up on 10 blind dates to keep her busy each night of her Christmas break.

I know this book sounds like the perfect plot for a romantic comedy and it definitely is. At the same time however, my biggest take away from this was the power of a supportive family. At the heart of this, it is about ties that bind that go way deeper than any high school relationship ever could.

Sophie has a LARGE dramatic Sicilian family and I ABSOLUTELY loved the positive family dynamic. There were Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Mom, Dad and her Sister involved. All rooting for Sophie’s happiness and she was such a good sport about everything that was thrown at her.

The dates were all unique and a little wacky. I looked forward to reading each on as they unfolded. It was such a fun and creative format. Elston’s storytelling is just top-notch, there is no denying that.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I loved this so, so much!

Ashley Elston is an auto-buy author for me and obviously that’s not changing any time soon. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

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Review: The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

The Best LiesThe Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two girls adrift in the world find each other and develop one of the most disturbingly codependent relationships I have ever read.

This hard-hitting YA Contemporary follows Remy and Elise as they explore the bounds of friendship and cross them in the worst possible ways.

They seek comfort and safety in one another, calling themselves tragic heroines, because they don’t feel there is anyone else in their lives they can count out.

Both struggle with intense emotional issues due to unstable, and at times, dangerous, home lives. Both feel unwanted and under-valued but in each other, find a sense of belonging and love they were lacking.

Unfortunately for them, and everyone around them, in particular Remy’s new boyfriend, Jack, the truth of their attachment is much more twisted than it would initially seem.

This book is nothing like I expected it to be. The subject matter is heavy, dark and way more mature than I was expecting. The psychological consequences of both these girls upbringings are absolutely devastating. I think it will take me a while to get over this. I felt bad for them in such a visceral way as I know this type of circumstance happens all the time.

The timeline was well done, although there is a lot of back-and-forth, so if that is not your jam, maybe steer clear. The writing was also fairly engaging and I felt drawn into Remy and Elise’s story. I definitely understand where the Thelma & Louise comparison comes from.

If you are looking for a dark YA Contemporary to pick up this Fall season, I would definitely recommend giving this one a try. There are a lot of good topics here worthy of examination. I will definitely continue to read from this author.

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Review: You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

You Must Not MissYou Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I think about this book ALL THE TIME but still am at a loss for how to adaquately review it.

I implore y’all to please read this book. If you are not sold on it simply by the fact that this is written by Katrina Leno, how about that it one of the most solidly unique and hella dark YA stories that I have ever read. This is literally a revenge thriller at its most bizarre.

There’s really no way to easily describe what this book is. I would say the following:

It’s horror like Stephen King’s Carrie is horror.

It’s fantasy like Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones is fantasy.

It’s moving like Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay is moving.

It’s like so many other things while simultaneously being like nothing at all.

Katrina Leno’s writing is so great. This story drew me in immediately. Magpie is a high school girl who feels silenced, like her power has been stripped from her by others. This is about her taking that power back.

I was surprised how dark this got but in such a creative and beautifully written way. I love dark stories so this meshed with my tastes perfectly.

I would highly recommend this to people who like dark plots but also to anyone who enjoys a solid contemporary story with a deep magical realism component. I need everyone to give this a shot!!!

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