ARC Review: The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

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.

Release date: April 2nd

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★★★

Okay so first of all, I haven’t read Geekerella yet! But I wanted to read this for the F/F romance and I was lucky enough to get approved for it. Reading Geekerella is definitely not necessary but reading this book made me want to read it. I think those of you who have read it will enjoy the references to it (which were a bit lost on me).

I love books about cons, and fandoms, and meeting people you met online, and internet culture, and all that. This was more or less what I had thought it would be. Actually, it kind of was more than I had expected, in both good and bad ways, but I overall loved it.

First of all, you need to keep in mind this is a loose retelling of The Prince and the Pauper. I haven’t read it, but the modern setting made it kind of hard for me to really believe that thousands of people online and IRL would see photos of one girl and think she’s another, especially when one is a kind of famous actress. I mean, fandom twitter is better than the FBI at investigating so the premise of them both looking very alike and being able to effortlessly pass for one another was kind of a miss for me, but once I accepted to go with it I could sort of forget about it and it didn’t bother me so much.

The two MCs in this book are Imogen, fangirl who wants to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off the franchise, and Jessica, actress playing said Princess Amara and currently under attack by a big part of the fandom, which she wants nothing to do with anymore. She’s actually glad her character is being killed off.

Things happen and they “must” exchange roles in order for Jess to investigate about a missing/stolen script. I say “must” because I thought the reason behind this exchange was not entirely believable for me, and there were too many risks from the start. But anyway, once they found themselves in each other’s shoes I could let it slide, and it’s not like I’m reading a cute contemporary for it to make absolute sense.

Jess gets to meet Harper, a Black fanartist and Imogen’s online friend, and spend two days with her. Jess is a closeted lesbian and Harper is also queer, and they have a really cute and endearing romance. Because this book takes place within a single weekend, things were a little fast, but I didn’t mind and I just enjoyed reading about them.

Imogen, under the guise of being Jess, spends her days with Ethan Tanaka, Jess’s Asian-American assistant, and they start off by hating each other. Their romance was cute if a little bit overdramatic, but I love that they’re both big nerds, and at least he knew about her being Imogen (as opposed to the other romance, where Harper initially thinks Jess is actually Imogen because they’d only met online).

I love when contemporary books throw a few pop culture references here and there, and I expect a book about fandom to have a lot of them, but I just didn’t expect them to be quite so many. I understood almost all of them to some degree but I wouldn’t have minded them being toned down a little. But I forgive Ashley Poston because she mentioned Yuri On Ice!!! and Zuko’s redemption arc too.

Anyway, even with a few issues here and there that didn’t make this a full five stars for me, this was a really fun read that I think a lot of contemporary readers will enjoy!

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Cover Reveal: Chosen Champion (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #2) by Elise Kova

Today I’m happy to share the cover reveal for Elise Kova’s upcoming sequel in the Vortex Chronicles series! I read book one (here’s my review) barely more than a month ago and I can’t believe the sequel is coming out in also barely more than a month! I keep being impressed by Kova’s ability to put out books so fast for her readers, I think that’s truly amazing from a creative point of view, and of course as a reader it’s wonderful not to have to wait longer (plus I’m super forgetful but this way I don’t have to reread in order to remember what happened in the previous books).

Anyway, are you folks ready to see the cover?

Here it is!

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Release Date:  May 1st, 2019

If you’ve already read book one I think you can take a guess on who is on the cover together with Vi. I’m super curious to read this when it comes out and meet some new and old faces.

Links: 

Note that the book is only available through Amazon, but if you have a nook or kobo you can purchase through Amazon, email Elise Kova proof of purchase (Elise.Kova.Author@gmail.com), and then she will send a personalized “read anywhere” link for you.

ARC Review: The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum // queer found family, sapphic romance, and I cried a lot

I was kindly sent this book as an advanced copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .

In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.

Release date: March, 19th

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★★★★

Okay let me tell you about this book and not because technically I kind of have to review it but because I just really need an outlet for what I’m feeling after finishing it.

THIS BOOK is very different from The Wicker King but it’s also very similar. But kind of not. I’M ALREADY NOT MAKING SENSE HERE but I’m really trying.

The Weight of the Stars throws you in an initially seemingly familiar contemporary YA setting. You have a MC, Ryann, who is a bit of a troublemaker and doesn’t have a typical teenage home situation, you have the new girl at school, and you have Ryann’s group of friends who don’t belong anywhere so they all belong together. And yet the way everything is presented already announces itself not to be so typical after all, starting from literally every character’s backstory.

By far one of my favorite thing was the found family element in this and all of the different bits of representation we are presented with. We have a mostly (all?) queer cast, a teenage single father with PTSD and selective mutism (I’m not sure if the terminology is correct but this is what I found googling it), a Sikh teen with three parents (two dads and a mom – if you’ve read The Wicker King I’m just going to say that…………you already know his parents), and of course our main f/f couple (I’m not sure exactly how they identify but Ryann says she’s mostly attracted to girls but once had a brief crush on a boy).

While The Wicker King takes you down a spiral where you have no control over your thoughts and feelings and then slowly brings you back to the surface (not a soft surface, but a surface nonetheless), The Weight of the Stars fools you into thinking you have more room to breathe normally when in fact what you should be doing is taking deep breaths in preparation for a final oxygen-less plunge into space.

There comes a point in the novel where you have to let go of your own plane of existence and fully embrace that you’re not in control, and your point of view and your perspective don’t matter anymore. This blank state is all I can recommend when you read the last 30% of this book. Just, don’t let gravity keep you grounded is all I’m saying.

TWs: alcohol and drug use, mention of death of parents, teenage pregnancies, mild violence, hospitals, mention of attempted suicide, mention of homophobia (the d slur)

Review: Proud (Anthology) by June Dawson // all the happy queer feelings you need in your life

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.

A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.

Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.

Following A CHANGE IS GONNA COME, winner of the YA BOOK PRIZE SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD 2018

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★★★★.5✩

I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did, but holy crap this really was a great anthology. And this is coming from someone who usually has the hardest time getting into anthologies and reading them fast, but I just couldn’t put this down.

All stories are set in modern day UK with the exception of one set in Ireland and one set in fantasy China. Apart from being queer I feel like they were pretty diverse although I can’t help but feel like they could have been more. One thing I found particularly lacking was the representation of aro and ace (and aroace) characters. There were exactly…zero? unless I missed something, and in an otherwise diverse anthology when it comes to sexualities and genders it was very noticeable.

All stories come paired up with art. The ARC also had them but I don’t know if they were all final versions, they were also pretty small and had to be zoomed in which of course made the quality suffer, but I’m confident in the final version this will be fixed. In any case of course I liked some pieces better than others but I’m not going to rate them.

I changed some of the immediate ratings I gave to each story as I was writing reviews for them, which now makes an average of 4.3, rounded up to 4.5 because of the mostly very positive feelings I have about this. Generally speaking, this is probably my favorite queer anthology I’ve read so far (not that I’ve read many). I loved the theme of pride and I loved that there was no queer pain or even where there was discrimination and hardship it was always challenged and always overcome.

I hope this book gets more hype because it’s really everything it promised to be (with the exception of the lack of aro/ace rep) and more.

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Here’s my individual ratings and reviews!

⮚ Dive Bar by Caroline Bird – no rating

I’ve read this three times and I still don’t understand it. I’ve never been the best at reading poetry and I’ve never learned to read it in English so maybe that’s why, but I just have 0 idea what this is about.

⮚ Penguins by Simon James Green – 5 stars

We’ve all heard of those gay penguins successfully hatching an egg, right? This story was featured here and it follows a gay boy whose coming out to his family is interrupted by people being excited about gay penguins. Also, prom night! I loved the humor and the cuteness in this.

⮚ On the Run by Kay Staples – 4.5 stars

Two teens won the lottery and are trying to run away. As I was reading this I was a bit anxious that they wouldn’t get the money but when I realized that of course this would have a happy ending. The POV character is trying to figure out their gender identity and we don’t know their pronouns (I’m only using “they” here for clarity).

⮚ As The Philadelphia Queer Youth Choir Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’… by David Levithan – 4 stars

This was very short and mostly just the messy internal monologue of a queer teen as he sings with his queer choir and thinks about people in his life. I feel like for such a short story a lot of meaning was packed into it and it was cool to see.

⮚ The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So – 4.5 stars

This was set in a fantasy-Chinese setting where dragons and phoenixes are real and symbolize (heterosexual) marriage. The MC “owns” (=was chosen by) a phoenix, and all girls who have one have to go to the Emperor’s palace and if her phoenix and the Emperor’s dragon choose each other, the girl will have to get married to him. The MC doesn’t want that because she’s in love with another girl and I’m not spoiling it but I loved all the symbolism and how fucking gay everything was.

⮚ Almost Certain by Tanya Byrne – 3.5 stars

This was kind of sad and I felt like it didn’t fit much with the other stories. It wasn’t the “queer pain” kind of sad though, and I actually really liked the queer theme in it, just not the story itself.

⮚ The Other Team by Michael Lee Richardson – 4.5

This is about an all-queer football team from the perspective of a trans guy who’s just joined it. I loved how everyone on the team was fleshed out even with so few pages.

⮚ I Hate Darcy Pemberly by Karen Lawler – 5 stars

This is a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling with two lesbians as Lizzie and Darcy. I’m not a huge P&P fan but I seriously loved this so much that after finishing it I had the biggest smile on my face and I immediately went to watch the P&P 2005 movie for the first time because it put me in such a mood. I also LOOOOVED what it did with the Lydia/Wickham storyline. Anyway, this is easily my absolute favorite out of all these stories.

⮚ The Courage of Dragons by Fox Benwell – 4.5 stars

This was a story without romance and about a queer found family / D&D group who become modern day heroes. The protagonist is a trans nonbinary person and he with the help of his group hack the school to genderneutralize it. I didn’t get all the D&D references but it was still cool to read and the plot was my favorite. It’s also probably the story that made me feel the most sense of pride.

⮚ The Instructor by Jess Vallance – 4 stars

I liked this and its writing style a lot but I wish there had been a little more balance between the plot (driving lessons) and the romantic plot line. I do understand why it was structured like this though and maybe it’s just a matter of wrong expectations from my part. Anyway, I still loved it and it made me smile so much when I least expected it!

⮚ Love Poems to the City by Moïra Fowley-Doyle – 3 stars

The lowest rating out of all these stories (even though it’s still a good rating). I don’t know, I didn’t really connect to it and I felt like it was more about a single event (legalizing gay marriage) and about a city (Dublin) than about the single people in the story. Which might have been the intention of the author I guess, but I still didn’t find myself caring a lot (even though I loved Dublin and it made me nostalgic of the city!).

⮚ How to Come Out as Gay by Dean Atta – 5 stars

This was a poem (I like how the anthology was bracketed by poems) and it’s pretty self-explanatory if you read it so yeah just look at my rating for it.

February 2019 Wrap Up

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Hey everyone! I’m going to keep this post as brief as possible for my sake because March is killing me. In fact, I am using this post to announce a little sort-of-hiatus until the first week of April because I just can’t keep up with everything that uni is putting me through. The occasional review might come out if I manage to actually read something and/or write something I’m satisfied with, but I just don’t want to feel pressured to have to post something where I quite literally can’t even find the time and mental energy to sit down with a book.

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In February I read considerably less than any of the past months (I actually can’t remember when I last read so few books).

○  3 audiobooks (making it a complete YA series!)

○  1 manga

○  3 ARCs

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📖 The Timekeeper Trilogy by Tara Sim (audiobook) – I’d been wanting to read this since I first heard about it, but I kept putting it off because it be like that. And I’m glad I did, because binging it all once book three was out was e v e r y t h i n g . Plus the audiobook was amazing and I highly recommend it. I will maybe try to write a series review in the future but I doubt that will happen before I actually reread it. But I gave ★★★★★ to all three books so yeah, this is now one of my favorite YA fantasy series.

📖 Graham’s Delicacies by Em Ali (ARC) – I talked about this in my review and I also posted a character interview so make sure you check out both of those! ★★★★✩

📖 My Brother’s Husband (Volume #1) by Gengoroh Tagame (physical copy, German translation) – I impulse-bought this at my local bookstore because I had heard so much about it on GR but I wasn’t expecting to see it at the comics/manga section and I also didn’t know it had been translated in German. This is volume 1 in this edition but it’s about only half of the English edition, if that makes sense? So there will be 4 books total in German as opposed to the English one. Anyway, this is a really heartwarming and heartbreaking story that WILL make you cry, but it’s so, so good. ★★★★★

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🔖 The Afterward by E.K. Johnston (audiobook) – I might have finished this by the time this post comes out, but I’m anticipating giving it a full five stars. I fell in love with it immediately. You know who else fell in love? The two MCs of this book, Olsa and Kalanthe, and they’re giving me the BEST second chance f/f romance I’ve ever read about.

🔖 Proud edited by Juno Dawson (ARC) – I’ve only read one story so far (maybe more when this post comes out) but it was everything I love in a queer short story. Also, gay penguins. I really hope to love the rest of the stories as well.

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📜 I finally shared my second recommendation post for lgbtqiap+ webcomics and you should definitely check it out if you want to read quality comics for absolutely no money all.

📜 REVIEWS:

📌 Vortex Visions by Elise Kova

📌 The Fever King by Victoria Lee

📌 Graham’s Delicacies by Em Ali

📌 The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds

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mv5bndazntk0nju2ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwodkymta0ntm40._v1_I’ve started watching Pose and I still have two episodes to go but it’s so, so incredible. It’s set in the Eighties in peak AIDS crisis in America and it follows a cast of trans women and gay men who are part of ball culture, which was something I previously hadn’t known about because I don’t think we had anything similar here in Europe (or at least nobody ever talked about it to me). You should definitely look up reviews coming from the trans community rather than myself but I can only recommend it (main TWs: transphobia, homophobia, racism, several characters diagnosed with AIDS)

 

tdp_callum_ezran_bait_zym.0Then, finally, finally!!! The Dragon Prince season 2 came out and it was everything I wanted. I need to rewatch it because it’s just that good and there are so many details that I want to take in that I’m sure I’ve missed the first time around. The creators also lived up on their promise to keep the world diverse and it’s incredibile, I cried more than once.

odaat_307_unit_00341rThe last thing I watched is One Day at the Time season 3 and y’all, y’all. As always this show keeps talking about important and heavy themes like anxiety, sexual assault, alcoholism, toxic masculinity and much more while keeping the overall tone lighthearted. And it’s living proof that you can make a show that will make you laugh to the point of tears without insulting anyone and without being politically incorrect. Also, you should all watch it RIGHT NOW because it’s still at risk of not being renewed for a season 4, but if more people stream it then their chances will be higher. So if you have a Netflix account please consider watching season 3 (or start from the beginning if you haven’t watched the first two).

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Have you read any of these books or watched any of these shows? What are you looking forward to in the rest of March? Have you already found a book that will make your top 5 favorite books of 2019? Let me know!

Graham’s Delicacies: Characters Interview

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Today I am so happy to participate in Graham’s Delicacies‘ blog tour! You can read my review to see what I thought of it and get excited for this collection of three novellas all set in the same world and revolving around a group of friends/coworkers finding love.

Today is also a special day because it’s the book’s release date, so you can go ahead and purchase it for yourself at the following links (but please come back and keep reading my post after!).

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Add to Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo

I sure hope you came back because I sat down with three characters (one from each novella) and asked them a few questions each and I love their replies.

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Interview with Emilie (they/them):

Silvia: Share an easy recipe for those of us (like…me) who can’t bake.

Emilie: I’m assuming you mean something to bake. Well, I recommend starting off with easy stuff like cookies, which don’t really take much time? Or, or, pancakes! Pancakes are tricky and they deal with like the basic of creating soft batter? I’m afraid all of my measurements are… pretty chaotic. Trial and error!

S: Which would you say is the most nonbinary of cakes?

E: Hmmm, I’ve never thought of cakes in the term of gender before… Is it egoistic to say Saffron cake? I mean, it’s that golden yellow that is in the flag!

S: Can you talk about what it’s like working in such a queer positive environment as Graham’s?

E: It’s the simple things like feeling safe; and surrounded by people who are like you and who’d protect you.

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Interview with James (he/him):

Silvia: How would you describe your relationship with your family?

James: I’d say I have a good relationship. Sure, I’m a bit meddlesome but it’s only because I love them so much.

S: What do you like most about Graham’s?

J: The ability to eat my weight in sugar.

S: Tell us something adorable (and SFW!) that Sam does when you two are alone.

J: Okay, listen, Sam will fight me over this, but he sings to himself while he’s reading. Like, it’s so cute. It starts off as a hum, and it’s totally unconscious when he starts singing. It usually means he’s having a good time. When I asked him about it, after an hour of him arguing he didn’t, he confessed that it’s because he used to listen to music while reading on like public transport.

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Interview with Alex (they/them):

Silvia: What do you like most about Yujin?

Alex: Is it weird if I say I love his body? You wouldn’t guess that Yujin can easily lift up a couch or assemble an IKEA bookcase just by looking. You’d get distracted by his smile, which is fantastic, or his hair while practically glows in the sun despite it being pretty dark. He also can lift me without hesitation and it’s really fun.

S: If you were a cake, which cake would you be? Which cake would Yujin be?

A: I’d be a latte cake. Don’t ask. I think coffee and cake is a neat combination. Yujin would be a Japanese cake. Fluffy as fuck.

S: Will you ever consider making an Instagram account (maybe with a new phone)?

A: Nope. Have you met my boyfriend? I’d be leaving him indecent comments all the time. I’m not to be trusted with technology. Besides, he has scary fans. You can find me on Instagram on the bakery’s account (and Yujin’s… he kind of posts a lot of beautiful pics, go follow my boo!)

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Thank you so much to Emilie, James and Alex for agreeing to answer my questions! They also told me they can’t wait for people to meet them and see their love stories unfold, so make sure you get your hands on the book!

Also check out Em’s thread with all the posts of the blog tour so far (and future ones) so you don’t miss all the reviews, characters aesthetics and all that good stuff that other bloggers are posting!

About the author:

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Em Ali grew up on TV and K-pop like many her generation. She learned a lot about how to be a hermit and not interact with people, but she loves to hear from readers!

Links:

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Announcement: what does being bi means to me? // read my guest post on Ben’s blog!

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This is not an actual blog post but since a lot of you don’t follow my twitter I thought I’d share this here. I had the pleasure of being featured on Ben’s guest post series called “On A Case Bi Case Basis” that’s all about people identifying as bi telling their stories and putting into words what being bi means to them.

So if you’re curious about what I had to say, read my post here!And make sure to follow the series throughout the next days to not miss everyone’s posts!