Review: Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairytale by Ashley Poston

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons before he was famous. Now they re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.”

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairytale will be available April 4, 2017.

This is one of the books of 2017 I have been looking forward to the most. I like re-tellings. I like to fangirl on occasion. This book just seemed like it would be such an adorable, fun read. However, I find myself a little disappointed. It might just be my current reading mood. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of mystery and suspense and whenever I reach for something a little lighter I end up being a little underwhelmed.

Let’s start with what I did like. I liked Darien, the up-and-coming actor who wins the main role of Starfield. He had a good sense of humor and though he had a few stupid boy moments, he was just So Nice. I loved seeing a leading man who wasn’t some cocky man-whore. I liked Sage, Elle’s co-worker/friend/fairy godmother, too.

I didn’t really like Elle, though. I know that she’s had a lot of horrible things happen to her, but I found her really whiny and over-dramatic. She was completely oblivious anytime anyone tried to show her any kindness or friendship for much of the book. She had no backbone whatsoever for the whole story and then once she gets to ExcelsiCon she starts acting the exact opposite. It just didn’t work for me.

I also felt the story was too slow and much too long. For most of the book I felt like nothing was happening. You would think being on the set of a movie would be a little more exciting – or at least a little interesting. It was not. And I felt like we just saw Elle live the same day over and over again until it was time to go to the Con. I will say that when we got to about the last quarter or so of the book I started to enjoy it a lot more. I felt like actual plot happened and I was finally able to hop on the Elle-Darien ship.

Overall, Geekerella was just an ok read for me. I think it would have benefited from being a little shorter so it didn’t feel so slow and drawn out. However, I did like Darien’s humor and I enjoyed the story more by the end. I think that there are a lot of people that will enjoy this book, though, especially if you are a fan of YA Contemporary and enjoy participating in fandoms. I’m bumping my original rating up a little since the writing really wasn’t bad and I feel like if I was in a different mood I’d probably feel more favorable towards it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Wedding Date Rescue (Fire and Sparks #1) by Sonya Weiss

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

As a Firefighter, Kent Wakefield has been burned before, and not just by fire. So when Casey Bradford, his best friend’s off-limits, gorgeous little sister, asks him to be her fake boyfriend, he flat out refuses. He doesn’t do relationships, real or otherwise. But when his well-meaning, marriage-pushing mother corners him about his cousin’s wedding, he panics and tells her he has a date.

After being left at the altar, Casey is out of options. She needs a boyfriend ASAP or she can kiss her dreams good-bye. Who better than her brother’s emotionally unavailable best friend, Kent. She may have nursed a childhood crush, but this arrangement will be purely platonic…that is until he kisses her and suddenly it gets a lot harder to remember it’s all pretend.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Wedding Date Rescue will be available February 27, 2017.

After reading a pretty heavy, emotional book I really needed something light and fun and Wedding Date Rescue was exactly that. Casey is a professional matchmaker who was recently left at the altar. Her business is declining and her investors are worried. It’s suggested that she find a new man and quick – even if it’s just for show – so her investors don’t lose faith. She decides her relationship-phobic friend, Kent, is just the guy for the job, but he’s resistant. However, with his ex-girlfriend coming back to town and his mother pushing every eligible woman she find in his direction he decides the fake relationship with Casey could work.

I really liked both Casey and Kent. I liked their friendship and how they could joke with each other. The fake relationship trope is my favorite romance subject and I thought theirs was done pretty well. I enjoyed watching as each fake outing and kiss developed more and more into real feelings. Their relationship was really cute.

I wish we would’ve gotten a little more background information on them, though. We know that Casey was left at the altar and that her ex-fiancé, Dominic, was a friend before they started dating, but we never find out how they got together or why they didn’t work out. We find out Kent had been in an accident while working as a firefighter and the fallout included one of his friends dying and his girlfriend dumping him. But we don’t really get much information about his injuries or what his relationship with his ex was like. The whole thing seemed just kind of thrown in for an added bit of a drama and I thought it could have been a lot more explored.

Overall, though, I enjoyed Wedding Date Rescue. I liked the characters and the romance. It was light and fun and just what I needed right now. I definitely recommend it to fans of fake relationship storylines.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

RoseBlood will be available January 10, 2017

What I Liked

-I enjoy re-tellings and while this was a little more of a spin-off than a re-telling, it still worked for me. I’ve always been a Phantom of the Opera fan (well, except maybe when I was pretty young and my family used to listen to the soundtrack on road trips and it kind of scared the crap out of me at the time…but I definitely grew into it) and it’s definitely a unique topic in the YA market.

-The duel narration completely saved this book for me. We get Rune’s 1st Person POV and Thorn’s 3rd Person POV (I’m not really sure why they didn’t both get 1st Person, but that’s ok). While with Rune we were often stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out what was going on, with Thorn we get background and answers and insight. With him we get to see the actual Phantom of the Opera that I had been hoping for when I picked up this book. As a character I found him so much more interesting than Rune and I was always counting the pages until we got to see him again.

-The romance. Though it appears to be “insta-love”, it does have a good excuse for it. I liked Rune and Thorn together and shipped them.

-That cover. It’s beautiful.

-The Author Note at the end of the book where Howard details a lot of information from her research was almost more interesting than the book. A lot of the historical information in the book was accurate and it made me want to read more about the original book and it’s inspiration.

What Didn’t Quite Work For Me

**MILD SPOILER**   Two words: Psychic Vampires

-Ok, a few more words: This was a lot more supernatural than I was expecting it to be. While it, of course, needed a certain amount of fantasy elements there were a lot more than I expected or wanted. If you go into this knowing that, though, then I think you would probably like it.

-I spent a good portion of this novel confused. I think it took far too long to get to the point. Howard is an extremely detailed writer and I know a lot of readers love that, but for me a ton of description is hard for me to get through. Add that to the long chapter length and I found this book took me a lot longer to get through than a book normally does.

-Rune’s new “friend” Sunny. I HATED her. She did occasionally have redeeming moments, but she spent the whole book sneaking around and spying and crossing all sorts of friendship lines that I found myself kind of hoping she’d be killed off. The fact that Rune viewed her as this great friend kind of enraged me.

Overall

RoseBlood was a very interesting idea that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. Two likable main characters (especially Thorn) and lots of references to the original Phantom of the Opera story were really well done. However, the major fantasy/supernatural elements were unexpected and hampered my enjoyment a bit. I also thought it was a little too long and too descriptive. I do think that fans of Howard’s Splintered series and those who are looking for a different type of re-telling will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: More Than Friends by Jody Holford

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Owen Burnett planned on a quiet, easygoing Christmas, hanging out with his best friend and neighbor, Gabby Michaelson. So when his mom pressures him to come home for the holidays, he tells a little white lie…that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But when his family shows up unexpectedly, Owen pulls the best friend card and asks Gabby to play his fake girlfriend.

Gabby’s been hopelessly in love with her best friend Owen for what feels like forever, but playing his “fake” girlfriend when the entire boisterous Burnett clan visits is easier said than done. The more she tries to deny the attraction between them, the more obvious their chemistry becomes. But even though she’s not the only one feeling it, putting their friendship on the line is a risk she can’t take.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

*What Worked for Me*

-I am a sucker for a fake relationship story and this book did it fairly well.

-I liked Owen a lot. He was sweet and smart. I found his preference for quiet and small groups really relatable. I also enjoyed his family, though they could have been developed just a little more.

-I liked the friendship between Owen and Gabby. I felt like they were really best friends before the romance started.

-There are no graphic love scenes in this book. There is one scene in the epilogue that approaches the threshold, but never really goes there. I like my romance books to stay in the sweet range and this one was definitely sweet.

*What Didn’t Work for Me*

-The thing with fake relationship stories is that the romance is a slow burn. It comes as a surprise to at least one of the characters, if not both (though usually not to the readers). So Gabby already being in love with oblivious Owen worked fine. But where it went off track for me was that in the very first chapter before the fake relationship had even started Owen was starting to notice and become attracted to Gabby. Before they even had to play fake couple in front of his family they were both already having feelings for each other and it was just too fast for me.

-There was something Gabby says early on in the story that really rubbed me the wrong way.

And now she knew he loved her, in the safest way possible. The most platonic, means-nothing way he could. Which, in her book, was the same as not at all.

Owen viewed Gabby as his best friend. He was always there for her. He supported her all the time. He loved her. He might not have been in love with her (or didn’t know that he was), but he loved her and for her to basically say it was worthless is such an awful, selfish, immature thing. I will say, however, that that line isn’t really consistent with her character in the rest of the book, so I could still like her well enough. (Also note the quote above is taken from the ARC )

-There was a plot line involving a sleazy building manager and thefts, and an introduction of lightly developed characters that lived in the building that really didn’t have anything to do with Owen and Gabby’s story. I don’t think it did anything but set up for future books in the series.

-The end was a little over the top mushy for me. Don’t get me wrong, I want the romantic Happily Ever After, but all the proclamations got a little much and I was rolling my eyes a lot.

Overall

Overall, More Than Friends was a cute, holiday romance. While I did have a few issues with the development of the story and characters, it was quick and sweet and pretty much what I wanted it to be. I recommend it to fans of holiday romances.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A slick thriller from the author of HEXED, perfect for fans of THE CELLAR by Natasha Preston and PANIC by Lauren Oliver.

You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she just might win some real money.

But the Society isn’t all that it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Dead Girls Society will be available November 8, 2016.

Hope has cystic fibrosis and an overprotective mother. She just wants to live life like a normal teenager, or at the very least be able to leave her apartment once in awhile. When she gets a shady invitation to “participate in a game of thrills and dares”, she decides to do it, even though she knows it’s probably not a good idea. There she meets four other girls who got invitations from The Society. Together they decide to do the dares for the opportunity to win the cash prize.

I liked the idea of the novel, but it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for most of the book. The dares, while slightly dangerous, seemed kind of pointless. I was expecting them to somehow benefit the Society in some way, but they were just kind of random. It took until close to the end of the book for the stakes to get high and things with the “Society” to actually make sense. Though I did begin to suspect what was going on, I did think the twist was pretty well done.

I thought the characters were all pretty well done, as well. Though none were as developed as Hope, Krys did a good job of collecting a diverse group of characters that all had their own story going on. I liked the development of her relationship with Ethan and I also liked that the romance didn’t overwhelm the plot.

Overall, Dead Girls Society was a quick, enjoyable read. Though I thought it took a little long for the dare game to really live up to it’s potential, it did eventually get there. Hope, the likable main character, made me want to keep reading, even when the story was dragging a little and I liked how her disability was handled. I would recommend this to YA lovers who enjoy mild mystery and suspense.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sixteen-year-old Day Connor views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she observes and the truths she believes—neatly captured in black and white—begin to blur.

Julian does not look like a murderer, but his story is full of holes, and his alibis don’t quite add up, either. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture…whatever it reveals.

Did he kill his parents? Or didn’t he?

While Julian remains on the run, Day digs deeper into his case. But the more facts she uncovers, the longer her list of questions becomes. It’s also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels with Julian.

Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case that will prove Julian’s innocence. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

I went into this hoping for mystery and suspense. While there was a little mystery, it was a lot more coming of age storyline than I expected (or wanted, to be honest). That doesn’t make it a bad book. It just wasn’t what I wanted.

Day is the only child of two very successful humanitarians and she’s spent her life trying to follow in their footsteps and make them proud. When she comes across Julian, a murder suspect who recently escaped from Juvie, she starts to research his case and makes it her mission to help him out and uncover the truth. It took a lot of time for her to actually start investigating other than just reading old newspaper articles and asking Julian a few questions. Even though it was a fast read due to the easy writing and short chapters, the story really dragged for me until we got closer to the end.

I liked Day well enough, though I don’t think she always made the smartest decisions. Her friends all drove me completely crazy. Julian was a little more compelling character and I enjoyed getting his perspective through his journal entries. The synopsis makes it sound like he could be manipulating Day into helping him, but I never really felt like he was. He did get caught in a few lies, but he seemed more like a scared kid than a little psychopath (and I kind of wanted him to be little psychopath, just for a good twist).

Overall, Shutter was an ok read for me. Short chapters made for a quick, easy read. I liked the overall premise of the story, but I wish it focused more on the mystery/suspense side and a little less on the growing-up-is-hard drama. Though the very end felt a little abrupt (an epilogue would have been nice), I did like the direction the conclusion went and was a little surprised by it, so I appreciated that.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: Famous in Love (Famous in Love #1) by Rebecca Serle

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Official Synopsis:

When Paige Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling film set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People‘s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life begins to resemble her character’s.

In this exciting tale of romance and drama, both on-and offscreen, Paige must adjust to a crazy new life without the daily support of her friends and family, while figuring out who she is—and who she wants—as the whole world watches.

Famous in Love was a really quick, easy read. I read about the first half of it one sitting and only stopped because I made myself go to bed since I had work in the morning. While neither the writing or the plot really blew me away, there was something about it that I just couldn’t stop reading.

Paige is an average high school girl who is plucked out of obscurity during an open casting call for the next big movie franchise, based on a best-selling Young Adult book series (think the Twilight phenomena). She starts filming with the very famous and charming Rainer and a relationship begins to blossom. Then Rainer’s arch-enemy Jordan is cast as the second male lead and Paige starts to have feelings for him, too. Requisite love triangle angst ensues. But to keep the story interesting (because really if this was just another love triangle story I don’t think I could’ve made myself finish it) there are glimpses of what happens behind the scenes of making a movie and Paige begins to grow up.

Paige was a mostly likable character. Throughout the whole book she stayed pretty grounded and while she did realize her life was going to change, she never really let the idea of fame get to her head. She learned about forgiveness and sacrifice and what’s really important in life. While she still has a lot of growing up to do, I think she did get a good start during the course of the book and I appreciated that.

I was kind of ambivalent about the love triangle. At various times I leaned in the direction of one or the other, but for the most part I wasn’t ever really Team Rainer or Team Jordan. I liked how easy-going Rainer was and that he really did seem to want to help Paige navigate the business and take care of her. I didn’t really like the 5 year age difference – he’s 22 and she’s 17. It almost seemed like he was manipulative at times or, like, preying on her naiveté and youth. At the end of the day, I don’t think he was that calculating, but it still rubbed me the wrong way a bit. Paige and Jordan’s relationship was far too insta-lovey for me. I never felt the connection between them that Paige was always talking about. He was kind and sweet, but for the most part he was just kind of broody and I don’t think I got to know him well enough to ship him with Paige.

Another thing that kind of threw me off a bit was how large parts of the plot were just skipped over. In one scene Paige is auditioning for the movie and the next she’s already been on set for awhile. While I can appreciate the “just-get-on-with-it” attitude, I felt like there was a lot missing not seeing her find out she was cast, preparing to leave her family and friends and home, her first day on a movie set, and etc. While I don’t think we need to see every single day from the audition to the premiere, we did jump large portions of time and it was a little jarring. I also thought it was kind of odd that for wanting to be an actress she didn’t really know anything about celebrities.

Overall, I did enjoy Famous in Love. I wanted to read to see if I would be interested in watching the show when it comes next year and I am, though I’m already a little annoyed about how different it looks from the book. I wanted something light and fun and this definitely fit the bill. I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at making a movie and the Hawaiian setting (fun fact, when I was very young I lived on Maui for a couple years where the movie set is) and it was the perfect bit of escapism I was looking for.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars