Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston


Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 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. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

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 was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Geekerella is an adorable, modern-day Cinderella retelling with a nerdy twist. I am so glad I took a chance on this book and read it. Usually contemporary is not my thing if it's mostly fluff. And my previous attempt to read a book about fandom was a giant fail. But this book just sounded so much fun and I was not disappointed.

This book has all the classic Cinderella components required of a retelling. We have the evil stepmother who makes Elle do ALL the chores and makes her feel like a giant burden. Then there's the evil twin stepsisters who make Elle feel small every chance they get. You have the cosplay ball and the Federation Prince and even the pumpkin that Elle rides off into the night in without her shoe.

I really liked Elle. She runs a blog about the science fiction show that her and her father loved so much when he was alive. She turns to Starfield when she's feeling alone. She seems to do her best to be a good stepdaughter, but nothing she does is ever good enough for her stepmother. She doesn't really seem like she has any friends, all she really has is Starfield.

The only things I really didn't like about her were the fact that she's one of those fandom people that is so unwelcoming to new people. That's so annoying. But it's definitely believable for a book about a high school girl because boy did I ever come across a lot of that in high school.

Also, she seems like she's really shy, but she wouldn't give anyone the time of day to try and be her friend. Like when Sage is trying to talk to her in their food van and she doesn't even give Sage a chance to interact with her before she's like, "OH GOD SHE HATES ME!" Like, I don't know. I was that super shy kid in high school, but I at least gave people an opportunity to interact with me before I decided that they didn't want anything to do with me. I mean, I just think it was maybe a little bit over exaggerated.

Darien Freeman is the teenage soap opera heartthrob cast in the lead role of Federation Prince Carmindor, a fact that Elle seems to hate. I loved Darien. He's a huge fanboy for Starfield and is so excited about his lead role in the film. He always seems to be concerned that he's not going to do his role justice and it's kind of adorable.

The romance in this book was so cute. Elle and Darien begin talking anonymously through text messaging after Darien texts her by mistake. They learn that they're both huge fans of Starfield and bond over that. I feel like fans of concepts similar to LETTERS TO THE LOST will like this book if they're looking for something a lot less heavy. Also fans of hate-to-love relationships would probably dig this book too.

Overall, this was a real gem of a book that I would recommend to fans of Cinderella, great retellings, or fandom stories. Or just generally fans of cute, fluffy contemporaries. I hope that Elle and Darien live happily ever after forever and ever after the end of this book because I loved them together.

Have you read Geekerella yet? What did you think of it?

Friday, April 7, 2017

2017 SerendipiTEA Tour: AMONG THE RED STARS by Gwen C. Katz


Hey everyone! I'm super excited to be participating in the 2017 SerendipiTEA tour and highlighting Among the Red Stars! If you're new here you might be unaware, but this is one of my most anticipated books of 2017. Definitely go google the Night Witches if you don't know about them and then come back and yearn for this book with me. It's gonna be so awesome.

About the Book:


Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines. 

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Buy Links:


About the Author:


Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, and retired mad scientist who lives in Altadena, California with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals.

Links:


About the Tea:

Russians love tea and have their own particular way of enjoying it. Water is boiled in a samovar, a large container heated by coals, and mixed with a strong tea concentrate. It is usually served in glasses, not cups. 

Indian black tea, especially Assam, is the most popular, and in the Soviet era, it was the only tea available. At a time when an entire apartment building might have to share one kitchen, many Russians had to do all their cooking over a kerosene Primus stove, the same kind you might take camping. 

During World War II, while the American army was powered by coffee, the Russian army was powered by tea—when they could get it. As a pilot, Valka receives the best food and supplies. Her childhood friend Pasha, in the infantry, is not so lucky. A Russian soldier's ration of coarse loose-leaf black tea could only be distinguished from their tobacco ration by tasting it. In the field, they prepared their tea however they could, sometimes using an empty rations can as a cup when nothing else was available.

My own tea preferences mostly gravitate to the herbal, but for this tour, my tea selection is Sessa Estates Winey Assam black tea. Whether you prepare it in a silver samovar in a palace, over a Primus stove in a collective kitchen, or in an rations can over a campfire, I hope you'll enjoy it. 

Giveaway:


This is a picture of Gwen's contribution to the prizes! It's listed under the Black Tea Package on the last page!

Nobody enter because I want to win it.


Tour Schedule:


April 1st--The Regal Critiques: JM Sullivan with THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES

April 2nd--Ohana Reads: Leah Henderson with ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL

April 3rd--YA and Wine: KM Robinson with GOLDEN

April 4th--The YA Book TravelerF.M. Boughan with CINDERELLA NECROMANCER

April 5th--YA Wednesdays: Linsey Miller with A MASK OF SHADOWS

April 6th--Bibliobibuli YA: Leslie Hauser with CHASING EVELINE

April 7th--Rattle the Pages: Gwen C. Katz with AMONG THE RED STARS

April 8th--No Post

April 9th--Pirates and Pixie Dust: Amber Duell with FRAGILE CHAOS

April 10th--lollipopsbooks: Abby J. Reed with WHEN PLANETS FALL

April 11th--SimplyAllyTea: Carrie Ann DiRisio with BROODING YA'S HERO GUIDE

April 12--Bookish Fan Girl: Amanda Hanson with SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

April 13th--For the Sake of Reading: Rosalyn Eves with BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

April 14th--Redd's Reads: Meg Eden with POST HIGH-SCHOOL REALITY QUEST

April 15th--Tales of the Ravenous Reader: Kristin L. Gray with VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE

April 16th--Little Red Bookshelf: Chelsea Sedoti with THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT

April 17th--Emily Reads Everything: Shaila Patel with SOULMATED

Are you as excited for this book as I am? Are you a tea person? How fun is this tour?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer


Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: From the Author for donating to Funds for Fox
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 400

Summary (from Goodreads):

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Until I started trying to write my review for this book, I didn't really realize how much it kind of hit home for me. I could relate to a lot of things in this book from my days in school. Though, not in the sense that I wrote letters to strangers at my mother's grave.

So, usually contemporary novels really aren't my jam. I basically say that in every contemporary novel review I write. And probably about every chance I get to mention it, really. But it's just so painfully true. It seems like most of the contemporary novels I read end up as DNFs or me pushing through it like a champ with my eyes glazed over.

But this one I loved. It's about two people who connect anonymously through their feelings of guilt and grief for things that have happened in their lives. 

Juliet Young was a star photography student until her award winning, photojournalist mother was killed in a hit and run accident on her way home from the airport after one of her trips. She was meant to take honors photography in school, but can't even bring herself to pick up a camera anymore. Now she's not necessarily a bad student, but she seems to be tardy a lot to school because she visits her mother's grave in the mornings and the teachers are quickly losing sympathy for her.

I felt like I kind of had a love/hate relationship with Juliet. It felt to me like in the beginning of the book, she had kind of a snotty, superior attitude toward certain characters in this book for no real reason other than they were kind of the outcasts at the school. She eventually got over it, but I thought that was really annoying for reasons that will be explained below.

I also felt like I could relate a lot to some of the feelings that she had throughout the book for her mom. Mostly because I have gone through a lot of the same feelings toward my own mom. While my mother didn't die, she did move to Indiana right before I turned 17 for a guy that she met on the internet. She didn't visit South Dakota again until the BF bought her a plane ticket for my 22nd birthday.

I have felt the fondness, sadness, and whatever else Juliet feels for her mother for most of this book, but I also definitely felt the anger she feels in a little bit of it as well. So yeah, I kind of felt like I could relate to that.

Declan Murphy kind of becomes an outcast after he gets drunk one night and crashes a car into a building. People fear him because they don't really know what he's going to do, I think. For his community service, he ends up mowing the lawn at the cemetery. It's while he's doing his community service one day that he stumbles across a letter left at a grave. He reads it and and he responds.

He doesn't think he's going to get a response, but the next time he's mowing, there's a new letter there, this time written to him. Juliet and Declan don't know they're writing to each other. They eventually take it to email and continue to bond through their separate grief.

Besides Juliet and Declan, I think that the two other most important characters are their best friends, Rowan and Rev.

I did not like Rowan. In fact, I kind of hated her. She's really judge-y and has a tendency to make these nasty little comments to people that she seems to think are beneath her. She's always described as looking 'angelic.' She's kind of a goody two shoes, that one that runs to tattle to the teacher every chance she gets.

She actually really reminded me of this girl in my class in school. When I was in second grade, my parents got divorced. I had to go to the school counselor every week after that for at least the rest of that school year. Play therapy for the WIN!

Anyway, there was this one girl in my class who took it upon herself to come up to me and make a stupid little nasty comment about how my parents were divorced. Sometimes accompanied with this little giggle that made me want to throat punch her! I seriously think she sought me out every year to make a comment like that to me. I remember her making them to me in high school! "Oh, your parents are divorced, aren't they?" *giggle*

So yeah, that's probably 90% of the reason I hated Rowan.

Rev was probably my favorite character. He probably needs his own spin off book. I would read it in a heart beat. He's got such a sad/interesting story. He was adopted by a nice couple after some tragic childhood experiences. He's really down to earth and a great friend to Declan. I want to know more about him.

The romance in this book is so cute. It's definitely slow burn. No love triangle. Declan and Juliet do not like each other in the beginning so it's kind of a hate turns to love relationship? It evolved over the course of the entire book and I really liked them together. They seem to understand each other well. They help each other deal with the pain they're each feeling. I loved it.

Overall, this book was definitely a favorite of 2017 so far. If you're like me and don't love contemporary novels, I suggest you give this one a try anyway if you're feeling adventurous. The only real problem I had with the book was how much I just HATED Rowan. Other than that, I was sad anytime I had to put it down! I read basically the whole thing while I was on vacation!

Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it?