Category Archives: Reviews

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.

Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race – Blog Tour Book Review

Click for Goodreads Link

About the Book

Fern King is about to uncover a place that she could not have imagined in all her wildest dreams. Annwn is the dream mirror of our world, a place where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them. An enchanted, mysterious place that feeds our own world – as without dreams, without a place where our imaginations and minds can be nourished, what kind of humans would we be?

But Annwn is a place as full of dangers as it is wonders: it is a place where dreams can kill you. Annwn and its Dreamers are protected by an ancient order known as the Knights – and when Fern’s hated twin Ollie is chosen to join their ranks, Fern will have to do whatever she can to prove she is one of them too.

But the world Fern discovers in Annwn, in this dream mirror of her London, is a fragile one, threatened by vicious nightmares. Nightmares that are harder and harder for the Knights to defeat. Something dark is jeopardising the peace and stability of Annwn, something that must be rooted out at all costs. And gradually, Fern realises that the danger lurking inside our sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare. Because if you can influence someone’s dreams, you can control their thoughts …

About the Author

Holly Race – Author

Holly Race works as a development executive in the film and TV industry, most recently with Aardman Animations. Holly is a Faber Academy graduate, and Midnight’s Twins is her debut novel and the first in a trilogy. After spending several happy years in East London, a few streets away from where Fern lives, she now resides in Cambridge with her husband, their daughter and a large black poodle called Nymeria. 

Instagram: http://instagram.com/holly_race

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Ecarylloh

What I Thought


First up, I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but 💙. How much does this make you see this book as an animated film because of it?! The artist who deserves the props for this is Gavin Reese.


The story starts with a Prologue which takes place around 15 years before the main story starts. In it we meet our protagonist’s mother in a mysterious place called Annwn, full of nightmarish creatures and where it’s clearly not wise to wish that all your dreams come true.


Then we shoot to the present and into the point of view of Fern King. Living in London, clearly not having a great relationship with her twin brother Ollie, at a new school where she feels like she doesn’t fit in, and suddenly receiving a mysterious text message that throws her life into turmoil.


Think of this as a cross between Nightmare on Elm Street meets The Call meets Shadowhunters meets Neverwhere. If you like portal or urban fantasy, subverting the chosen one trope, witches, knights, dysfunctional families or are a vivid dreamer then definitely pick this up.


The language used itself is often dreamlike, and Holly Race paints a picture of that murky space in between sleep and waking. I also like the metaphor of our inspiration and creativity being what makes us human but what can also challenge us. As a writer myself that spoke to me.


Will Fern become a Knight? What will come true, her dreams or her nightmares? This is the first in a trilogy to be prepared for not all your questions to be answered. And when you go to sleep after reading this – sweet dreams.

Thanks to Faye Rogers and HotKey for the gifted ARC for the purposes of an honest review. The book out tomorrow – do check out the rest of the tour stops too. And you can read the beginning here – http://bit.ly/DangerousDreams.

Blog Tour Spots

Again Again by E Lockhart – Blog Tour Book Review and Extract

Again Again cover image
Click cover for Goodreads Link


About the Book

In this novel full of surprises from the New York Times bestselling author of WE WERE LIARS and GENUINE FRAUD, E. Lockhart ups the ante with an inventive and romantic story about human connection, forgiveness, self discovery and possibility.

When Adelaide Buchman’s younger brother succumbs to a drug overdose, she saves his life. In the aftermath, looking for distraction, she becomes a stylish, bright charmer who blows off school and falls madly in love – even though her heart is shattered.

Adelaide is catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times while finally confronting her brother, their history, and her own strength.

A raw and funny story that will surprise you over and over, Adelaide is an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

About the Author

E Lockhart is the author of many novels including the bestselling WE WERE LIARS, a New York Times bestseller, and GENUINE FRAUD; also THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel; FLY ON THE WALL, DRAMARAMA, and the Ruby Oliver quartet: THE BOYFRIEND LIST, THE BOY BOOK, THE TREASURE MAP OF BOYS, and REAL LIVE BOYFRIENDS. She co-authored HOW TO BE BAD with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski. Her latest book is AGAIN AGAIN. Visit her online at:

Website: http://emilylockhart.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/elockhart

Instagram: http://instagram.com/elockhartbooks

What I Thought


Unfortunately due to what’s going on I’m the world I only got my copy yesterday but I’ve already read the first 20% and it has reminded me how much I love E Lockhart’s writing. It’s both lyrical and accessible. I loved We Were Liars and I can see this being the case with Again Again too. Adelaide already has such a powerful voice, and you aren’t really sure how much to believe her. What is she hiding from herself?

The style of the different conversations, presumably in the different multiverses, is interesting. Check out the extract to see how it’s laid out (which isn’t quite coming across on the netgalley ARC I am reading) but I think when reading the finished copy you’ll know which conversation is the one in the current reality though it will be exciting to see how the different options interact as we move forward. I suspect it will be similar to Sliding Doors.

At the moment the love seems very instalove on Adelaide’s side at least but because of the other things going on I’m her life with school, her brother etc I can see how love is being used as an escape. And bonus points go to this book if you love dogs because there’s lots of them running round this tale. I think one of them is only talking to Adelaide metaphorically rather than literally but with E Lockhart who knows!

I’ll come back later when I’ve finished and add some more thoughts but for now I’m intrigued, drawn in and want to see how this all plays out.

On finishing here are my additional thoughts. I like how the focus on the sibling relationship becomes more prominent and the characterisation stays strong throughout. I’m not sure the multiverse element fully paid off for me but I suspect that this will be one that you’ll spot more on subsequent readings.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour stops here. Thanks to Faye Rogers PR and the publishers for the gifted review copy. All opinions are my own.

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