Author Archives: kirstyes

Starfield Special – Once Upon a Con Series by Ashley Poston

So, we come to the last Once Upon a Con series post. The newest book – Bookish and the Beast is out now. You have no more excuses not to pick up these geeky contemporary retellings.

Today I am focusing on the thing that connects them all.

Starfield

…and because I’m a geek here’s everything we know so far…

This post contains spoilers … you have been warned.

Starfield Insignia

Starfield is a fictional cult science fiction TV show that spawned its own convention – ExcelsiCon, and is now getting a movie reboot (Starfield and sequel Starfield: Resonance and ?third film).

Each ‘Part’ in the each of books is proceeded by a snippet from Starfield.

In Geekerella – main character Elle’s father founded ExcelsiCon years ago and the story revolves around a cosplay competition with tickets to the Cosplay Ball and a meet and greet with the reboot’s star as the prize.

In Princess and the Fangirl – fangirl Imogen takes the place of Starfield star Jessica at her convention appearances which she tries to find out who is leaking the sequel’s script.

In Bookish and the Beast – a love story starts at the masked ExcelsiCon ball but the main story takes place elsewhere. In a library .. that has a complete Starfield collection.

Starfield Characters (and actors – current/original series)

Federation Prince Carmindor – Darien Freeman/David Singh

Black hair, chocolate eyes, brown skin, Blue uniform with brass buttons, shoulder pads with tassels, tails, and the Federation starwing insignia on the lapel, polished black leather boots, and gold crown of stars. Genetically enhanced with bones made of titanium. Heir to the throne of stars (?).

Carmindor (from back cover of Geekerella)

Princess Amara Avonrose – Jessica Stone/Natalia Ford/Ellen North (pilot)

Red hair in an Anorian braid, green eyes, (Galaxy Dress – glitter and dark purple dress – rich plum, soft and silky -yards and yards of it, like it could be made from the midnight sky and Starshine glass heels and gloves)

Amara (from front cover of Princess and the Fangirl)

Starbright General Ambrose Sond – Vance Reigns/the late Arthur Boise

Long White-blond hair braided down one shoulder, pointed yet human cheekbones, gloved hands, golden eyebrows and sky blue eyes. Zealot of the Path of the Sun. Molten golden trousers. Lights embedded in his cape blink and sparkle, neon-yellow piping underneath his Noxian uniform (despite not being Noxian)

The Nox King – Robert Thomas Eddington/ ?

Black cape, giant ears, insignia of religion on shoulder. Amara’s father

Euci (Eucinedes) – Calvin Rolfe/Carl Thompson

Shark teeth. Carmindor’s wisecracking best friend/sidekick/navigator of the Prospero

CLE-o – not mentioned in reboot/Kiki Sanchez

A small robot

Zorine – casting not mentioned

Six armed, green skinned lesbian Llotivan with red eyes. Amara’s childhood best friend.

Noxian General casting not mentioned

Female

Obscura – not mentioned in reboot

Villain

Vexel Day – not mentioned in reboot

Villain

Ingarians – race of aliens mentioned in script

Voltures – race of aliens mentioned in script

Starfield Setting/Locations

Prospero – Carmindor’s starship

Skystalker – Ambrose’s ship

The Noxian Empire

Plylantha – Princess Amara’s home planet – purple and blue and green “a pearl of a World”

Metron – the South Side is meant to be good

Avaril Nebula

Arteysa Galaxy and its frozen tundra

Galactic Six and its moons

Velaris Six

Ziondur

Helix Nebula

Andomeda

Andromeda Earth – homewarld of the Federation

Mars Two

The Black Nebula – world sucking abyss

Starfield Exclamations

Look to the Stars. Aim. Ignite (said by Carmindor)

The universe/horizon is wide. And I have a kingdom to rule. (Said by Amara)

Look to the stars and chase your destiny.

I hear the observation deck is nice this time of year. Only on the south side of Metron.

Starflame – used in place of a swear

Noxballs – I think you can guess when you’d use this one

Sol – god.

The Promise-sworn – the Federation salute (pointer and pinky fingers out, middle two together, thumb down) – You and I are made of stars

ah’blen/ah’blena – m/f/ term of endearment – my heart/my other half

Earthenders – what people from the stars call anyone who prefers a planet (staying in one place forever, stuck in their narrow ways)

Stargunners – Starfield fans

Starcrush Me

Wabba Wabba (Not sure what this is but it is referred to in the context of coral ‘Wabba Wabba flakes”and Do you wanna Wabba Wabba with me!)

The Brinx Devastation – presumably part of the Starless Wars

The Federation – galactic government

Nox Knights

Joke: How do you get a one armed Nox out of a tree? You wave at it!!!

Supreme Intergalactic Empress/Highness

Solar Flux Capacitor

Calibrating guns

Path of the Sun – cult believes in harnessing the Black Nebula to become a god.

Music

Amara’s Waltz

Starfield Theme Song “Ignite the Stars”

Look to the Stars! Look to the stars and see! Find out where you belong! And fight for it, fight for it, fight for love in s Starfield. A star field, a star field of light.

And we reach the stars, the stars, forever in the stars, the stars

Reach into the stars with me, fly with me, forever …

“If I can’t Love her” – Ending song

Starfield Books/Novelisations ‘extended Universe Saga’

The Starless Throne by Sophie Jenkins (To atone for the crimsoned of the Twelfth Order, Ambrose Sond escapes his lifelong imprisonment in the Mines of Mourning and is sent careening into plot that may destroy not only the Federation but everything he once loathed – until he finds a reason to protect it. Amara wears a golden dress on page 347).

12 The Cassius Sun

37 Starfield, A Shot in the Dark by Almira Ender

73 The Noxian Guilt Series

The Star Brigade

In the Night Abyss

Starfield Forvever

The Broken Throne

To Nox and Goodnight

The Last Carmindor (final book before reboot)

Starfield: Resonance companion novel

Book titles mentioned but ? Starfield ones

Thrawn

Black Spire Bloodline

Heir to the Empire

Aftermath

Starfield Original TV episode titles

Elle suggests watching them in Chronological order rather than screening order – Ep 3, then 1, then 12, then 22 (Amara hates Carmindor, the Federation and the Interglactic Peace Treaty. She wants to make her father proud – then you see her redemption arc).

Ep 5 (The one where the general’s sawed off horns looked like boobs on his head according to Sage)

Ep 10 (The one with Carmindor in the shower)

Ep 13 “The Queen of Nothing” (The one where Carmindor and Amara first meet, and Amara has a braid in her hair)

Ep 14 “Better Space Than Never”

Ep 26 (The one where Carmindor was mind warped by a Nox)

Ep 16 (The one where the Nox king doesn’t wear a cape)

Ep 33 “A Nox to Remember” (The one with Amara’s coronation, a ball and kissing)

Ep 34 (The one where the Nox invaded District Elevan and Carmindor and Amara joined forces)

Ep 41 “Worse Than Death”

Ep 43 “From Amara with Love”/ “The Last Turn of Time” (depending on which book you read)

Ep 53 (The only episode in which Carmindor smiled)

Ep 54 ‘Black Nebula” (The episode Stargunners say didn’t happen)

Unnamed Ep (The one where Euci becomes possessed by the Balu’atho, an ancient Noxian blade, and goes bonkers)

Three Ep arc where Amara can’t be conscripted to the Path of the Sun because of her part Noxian lineage. Saves Carmindor from its depths and traps Sond is a cryogenic chamber.

If you loved the Once Upon a Con series here’s what to read next:

Unconventional and Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt – the UK’s version of Once Upon a Con with its own fictionalised franchise – Piecekeepers.

Fangirl and its spin off Carry On/Carry On Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl even gets a mention in Bookish and the Beast.

The Fandom and The Fandom Rising by Anna Day – in this series the characters even get transported to their fictional fandom’s world “The Gallows Dance”.

I have everything crossed for more spin off series based on the author’s own ‘in-story’ fictional worlds.

In the meantime…

Look to the Stars.

Aim.

Ignite!

Pin by Fiona at Felfira Moon Designs

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston – Once Upon a Con Series Book Review/Once Upon a Retelling


Happy Release Day to the third, and 🤞🏻 not the last book in the Once Upon a Con series by Ashley Poston.

Bookish and the Beast Synopsis


In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.


About the Author

Ashley Poston was born and raised in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well.When she’s not inventing new recipes with peanut butter, having passionate dance-offs with her cat Pepper 🐈 , or geeking out all over the Internet and at comic cons, she writes books and is the author of the Once Upon a Con series and Heart of Iron Duology.


What I Thought

She’s done it again.


I could just leave my review there… but I won’t. I adore this series, it makes my geeky heart sing.


First up I want to let you know that these can be read as standalones. Each book focuses mostly on new people although, I would highly recommend reading them all to get full immersion.


We did meet Vance in book two, as the quintessential bad boy and it looks like he’s continued down that slippery slope into beastly ways since we last saw him. But like Jessica in book two, author Ashley allows us to delve beneath his Hollywood celebrity persona to see the real person underneath. He’s only really let his guard down like that once before but that’s easier when you are wearing a mask and not fearing the story getting to the press.

Rosie Thorne is a book geek like many of us, a sniffing the pages, stroking the spine, reading way past her bedtime type. In this story she gets to experience every book lover’s dream and nightmare. A huge library 😍, and a destroyed book 😭.


I loved unpicking all the little nods to Beauty and the Beast and there are a number of references to the Disney version but with much less Stockholm syndrome.


Like Elle in book one, Rosie has lost her mother but for her it is much more raw and this exploration of grief is explored sensitively.


As ever the diversity in terms of LGTBQIA+ characters is incorporated without fuss or rigmarole – best friend Quinn’s pronouns are introduced and used naturally, and before their gender identity. The challenge to get Quinn a place as Homecoming Royalty and to take it away from our Gaston type character is a welcome sub plot. The adult characters – Rosie’s father and Vance’s godfather are used well and who doesn’t love a dog named Sansa – Queen of the book!

If you are in need of mid pandemic pick me up this tale of two people ‘quarantined’ in a small town will be just the curse breaker.


Once Upon a Retelling/Fan Fiction


Retellings are my bookish jam. I love a new angle on a tale as old as time 😂. There’s something about reading a new yet familiar story.


Beauty and the Beast is one that has been explored many times before. I’ve even already written a post about its retellings (although there are more than I have listed here).


The reason I like the Once Upon a Con series so much is that they take fantasy based tales and bring them into ‘real life’. Switching the genre to contemporary really works to bring fresh life to these much loved stories.


One genre bending set of retellings I’d also highly recommend are The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. Retelling Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a sci-fi update. Utter bliss. Her origin story for Alice’s Queen of Hearts – Heartless is 💔😭.


Now considering how much I love a retelling – or a film/tv adaptation – it may surprise you to learn that I’ve never really got into fan fiction – neither reading nor writing it. I always feel like I should but I guess never having been in those circles I don’t really know where to start. So please do share your recommendations below. Harry Potter or YA books preferred.


If we get our wish and Ashley Poston comes back to the Once Upon a Con series what retelling would you like to see next? Personally I’d love to see a Snow Queen/Frozen one, set at a winter based con and featuring siblings – or maybe I should fan fic it?


Thanks once again to Quirk for the gifted copy and for the giveaway copy I gave out on Instagram. Once my finished copy arrives my ARC is going to the second place person in my little Quiz. You still have until the 18th to submit your pre-order receipts to get a copy of a Once Upon a Con short, ‘Once a Princess’. Mine arrived yesterday so I know what I’m reading later.


Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my Starfield Special.

Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – Once Upon a Con Series Book Review/Once Upon the Dark Side

Image   Princess and the Fangirl cover and crown


Apologies that this is much later than I’d planned. Lockdown has been weird for me and reading. Anyway. I’m back on schedule and plan to release the Bookish and the Beast Review on its release day of Aug 4th and I’ll post my Starfield Special on Aug 5th.


Princess and the Fangirl Synopsis


Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary Fangirl on an impossible mission: to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off in the Starfield movie sequel. The problem is, Jessica Stone, the actress who plays Amara, desperately wants to leave the franchise behind.

When a case of mistaken identity at ExcelsiCon 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 team up and trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover the darker side of fandom – as well as unexpected romantic possibilities. Can these “princesses” find a way to rescue themselves from their own expectations and redefine what it means to live happily ever after?


About the Author


Ashley Poston was born and raised in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well.When she’s not inventing new recipes with peanut butter, having passionate dance-offs with her cat Pepper 🐈 , or geeking out all over the Internet and at comic cons, she writes books and is the author of the Once Upon a Con series and Heart of Iron Duology.


What I Thought


I was excited to be back in the once upon a con universe and although we shift to focusing on different characters this time our favourites from Geekerella also make an appearance.


Where Geekerella was a Cinderella retelling this is a Prince and the Pauper one. Basically we have your parent trap switcharoo here with our two main characters stepping into each other’s shoes.


With Darien in book one and now Jessica in book two author Ashley Poston helps us see the real person behind the celebrity and I think that’s hugely important. It makes the romances that much more believable, and possible. Having been a con attendee now I think you do get that variety of ‘celebrities’, those who are more approachable (Darien) and fan friendly and those that can appear more standoffish. We get to explore the latter type here and we really get to understand the why.

Whilst we had some LGBTQIA+ representation in secondary characters last time, this time one of our main characters falls in that bracket. I spotted the nod to Simon versus the Homosapians Agenda (Love Simon) with the character name this time. I love intertextuality. I also love the enemies to lovers trope, if you are a fan of that too this book will make you happy.


We also get some proper intrigue and mystery in this story. Jessica’s script has gone missing, someone is leaking it online. Who is it, and can they stop them?
There are lots of little side stories and relationships that make this book such a fun read and it captures fully the joy of fandom and convention going – which is about the friends you make rather than the celebrities you spot.

Once Upon the Dark Side


And no this isn’t referring to Star Wars. At least not exclusively.


Poor Jessica definitely feels the dark side of fandom coming down on her in this book and you don’t have to look too hard online to see it there either. I’m going to touch on two aspects.


Con Safety


I focused on cosplay alongside my review of Geekerella and I want to follow that up by reminding everyone that Cosplay is not Consent. Ask to take someone’s photograph – they may want to pose to show their costume in the best light or they might prefer not to be photographed at all.


And do not touch.


Personal space needs to be respected. Maybe with social distancing this might become better accepted. Yes some of the costumes are skimpy, and some of them are also handmade and delicate. Do not touch unless invited. And any con worth their salt should have a code of conduct on behaviour and a place where you can report inappropriate people.


Same goes when you have photo ops with celebrities – ask before touching. They are people to who have a right to say no to your request and who may be dealing with their own social anxieties/ internal traumas. Some will be happy to sign but prefer not to have photos taken. And please don’t jump in front of their car to get them to stop (saw this at a theatre stage door once).


Fan Expectations


As fans of something some of us can have a tendency to think that it belongs to us. When in reality everything is an act of co-production. At times our expectations are unrealistic and in real life, as in the novel, responses can turn sour. If a character doesn’t look the way you expected them too. If a scene was cut. These are the things we love to dissect but sometimes it goes further and darker than this.


The Star Wars fandom backlash against some of its female stars in particular has been disgusting. If a character in an adaptation doesn’t meet up to your expectations or an author doesn’t follow through with your OTP (one true pairing) or they kill off your favourite character, by all means mention it in your review/analysis but a) don’t tag the person b) create your own “headcanon”. Do not demand that they change it. c) Do not issue death threats. I can’t believe I need to say it but I’ve seen it happen.


Next time I’ll be exploring retellings and fan fiction so back to a more fun topic.


Thanks to Quirk & Jamie-Lee and Stephen for hooking me up with an ARC of book three and giving me the opportunity to re-read this funtastic series. All opinions are my own.

%d bloggers like this: