Review: Geekerella

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Publication: April 4, 2017

Pages: 319

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads summary: When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

I’m not sure if it’s just me and my lack of Cinderella knowledge, but it feels like if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. However, I have been looking for a cute romance to read since the beginning of my summer and I finally found it in this book. Geekerella is cheesy and predictable with many nods to popular culture.

The story follows Danielle “Elle,” the orphaned step-sister to Chloe and Calliope “Cal,” who is small blogger and fangirl for the popular tv show Starfield. The show was such an important part of her childhood so when it’s announced that soap star Darien Freeman is the movie’s new lead, she retaliates with a soon-to-be viral blog post. She doesn’t know how important the Starfield franchise is to Darien, but the reader does because both perspectives are shown in this book.

Elle’s step-sister’s Cal and Chloe are popular vloggers who are in love with Darien Freeman’s role on Seaside Cove, and will do anything to win the cosplay contest to meet him. They also have the unconditional love and support ftom their mother, Catherine. Meanwhile, Elle is trying to save money by working in a vegan food truck with Sage.

Darien first meets Elle when he messages a wrong number, and their relationship begins. There is an element of catfishing that is never mentioned nor explored.

One thing that did surprise me about this book was how diverse it was (I was expecting nothing). Darien is a poc, and both Sage and Cal get a happy ending, too.

Without giving away too much, this was a cute, easy read and I’d recommend it if you’re trying to get out of a reading slump.


Review: The Sandcastle Empire 

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Publication: June 6, 2017

Pages: 455

Rating: 3.6/5

Goodreads summary: When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

The Sandcastle Empire is a YA dystopian  novel set in a war-torn world, 30 years in the future. Climate change initiates the war, but the greed for power keeps the Wolves going. After spending two years planning to escape her camp alone, on the day of her escape she is met with three new acquaintances. The book follows Eden and the others as they hope to find freedom and peace on the island, but they soon realize that they are a part of a much bigger world.

This book reminds me of The 100 (the show) and Allegiant. The four girls arrive blindly at Sanctuary Island with their hopes high, but then one of them goes missing and they realize they’re not alone. It’s not until another resistance group shows up on the island that they get answers about their world.

It’s an interesting idea, but it felt like this book was trying to be too many things at once- dystopian, teen romance, sci-fi, thriller. Not to mention that the romance just felt forced. Despite seven people being the main focus of the story, Eden and Lonan are the only ones explored on a deeper level and Eden is the only one who faces any challenges. I wanted to know more about the other three girls that arrived around the island and see their progression as a unit since that’s what the synopsis led me to believe.

The attention to detail in the setting was captivating as well that at times, I wanted to visit this fictional place myself for the scenery. I find in most books the setting is rarely an important narrative so this was a nice change of pace. Nothing aggravates me more than technology being too complex or futuristic in novels. That was not the case here, and I wasn’t lost when it described Havenwater bottles, bloodlocks, and sedative serums.

This wasn’t my favorite read ever, but it did help break my brief reading slump. What element of fiction is most important to you as a reader- setting, character, plot or something else?

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

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Publication: May 30, 2017

Pages: 383

Rating: 100/5

Goodreads summary: Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimonaand Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl

The summary doesn’t do this book justice. I received this book in my Owlcrate subscription box, so even though I was interested, I wasn’t too excited about it. Now that I have read it, it’s probably one of my favorite books… ever.

The concept of the book reminds me of both Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (which I liked) and Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds (which I loved). Half of the book takes place as if it were online, with parts of the dialogue written in text speak and profile pages, representing the good, bad, and ugly of fandom culture. Pages from Eliza’s webcomic are also integrated throughout this novel. On the outside, this book seems trivial at best, and it had me laughing out loud for more than half of the book.

BUT, HOLY SH*T, THIS BOOK IS SO MUCH DEEPER THAN IT APPEARS TO BE. There’s a twist, and it comes out of nowhere. Then, when Eliza’s identity is revealed, important and darker topics are introduced and explored further. We learn about her anxiety after she suffers a panic attack at school, and the healthy ways to live with it. There’s also a brief mention of suicidal thoughts better explained than Thirteen Reasons Why (the show)*. I did not expect to sob over this book, but here we are.

Another reason why I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this book is because it includes a romance between Eliza and the most popular fanfiction writer, Wallace Warland. I admire that this romance didn’t feel forced. They got together just like your favorite strangers-to-lovers au. After they paired up, they didn’t fight like crazy either, and Zappia portrays a healthy relationship with communication and trust. (Okay, so she lied about LadyConstellation but she had her reasons, also, she was kind of dealing with the whole anxiety thing- it wasn’t right, but it’s forgivable). At the end of the day, this book promotes good friend, familial, and romantic relationships, in addition to taking care of yourself. 

To see what I’m reading next, add me on Goodreads. Also, what kind of reader are you, fast and excited like Eliza or slow and methodical like Wallace?

*To be clear, I’m not hating on the show at all. I think it’s well executed from the script to the actors, but it focuses much more on the external factors of Hannah’s suicide than internal. It spreads the message “be kind to everyone” and “you never know what someone else is going through,” which are good, but is a little harder to relate to (at least personally).