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Geekerella by Ashley Poston – Once Upon a Con Series Book Review/Once Upon a Cosplay


I first read Geekerella back in 2017, and after I had been attending Harry Potter and book conventions for 4 years (I came late to the game). A Cinderella retelling set in the world of convention goers and with a geeky heroine sounded right up my alley and I was right. I loved it.

Now, in the very strange year that is 2020, we are heading towards the release of the third book in the series (now delayed from June to August) so I have extra time to get everyone as excited as I am about this series.


Welcome to my Once Upon a Con Series of blog posts


May 4th – How fitting to be starting this on Star Wars day when the overarching series in the books, Starfield, slots nicely into the Star Wars, Star Trek Dyad (now Triad?!). Review of Book One – Geekerella/Once Upon a Cosplay


June 4th – Review of Book Two – Princess and the Fangirl/Once Upon the Dark Side


July 4th – Review of Book Three – Bookish and the Beast/Once Upon a Retelling


August 4th – Publication Day Starfield Special – Look to the Stars. Aim. Ignite.


Geekerella Synopsis


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 step-mother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all – not to mention a fan girl’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 are 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.


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.


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


Fresh off a third read and I’m beaming, Geekerella is good for my heart.


There are enough flavours of the original to satisfy those who want to recognise the book as a retelling and plenty of originality for those that want something fresh.


Elle and Darien are well drawn characters and, unlike in Disney’s Cinderella we get to delve much more into the Prince’s story and roles are more balanced. They both have faults and both go on a journey.

There is drama and obstacles galore in this book, parts that made me scowl at the injustice and swoon at the romance. There is also interesting family dynamics and loss is a prominent theme. And there’s a cute dog – what more could you ask for?


Fandom. That’s what. Starfield is a fictionalised TV series but this book draws you into that world. If you’ve ever been a fan of something and been able to share that passion with others this book will make you feel right at home. It explores the tremendous positive side of fandom, and touches on the dark side (more of that in the next post).


A Cosplay ball is the perfect set up for a Cinderella Tale but it’s what happens when hearts and not eyes connect that matter.


Once Upon a Cosplay

My main fandom is Harry Potter and I have partaken in the maybe not so subtle art of Cosplay. Dressing up as, and often becoming, fictional characters. Unfortunately like Elle in the story I also lack sewing skills but don’t let that stop you. My costumes may be bought, or may lack finesse but if you have fun making or wearing them that’s what counts. Below are some pictures of my Harry Potter Cosplays and one from Pierce Brown’s Red Rising.

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.

The Book of Koli (The Rampart Trilogy) by MR Carey Blog Tour Book Review

MR Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts, returns with the first in a post apocalyptic trilogy.

About the Book

The first in a gripping new trilogy,The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation.


Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is — what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

About the Author


Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

He writes as both Mike and MR Carey

Early Thoughts

I’m 56% in and here are my thoughts so far.

Do you remember the children in the film Mad Max beyond Thunderdome, and how they speak? The boy narrator – Koli – from The Book of Koli reminds me of that voice. Because the story is written in “dialect” I think your enjoyment may hinge on whether this is something you like generally. Koli is also one to go off on a tangent when telling his story but he actually brings himself back round to the point, and so the effect is to build tension and keep you reading.

I’m really enjoying it so far and to me the first half very much has the feel of a number of Young Adult dystopians that I have read. Although, this is written from the perspective of a future Koli so there is a certain hindsight that comes with his telling. So far the story has all taken place in his village of Mythen Rood, in Ingland, and has been setting up everyday life. From the somewhat carefree childhood, with friendships and crushes, to the mysterious Waiting year and its culmination in the Rampart ceremony. There are hints of diversity in terms of race, gender and sexual identity.

Ramparts are held in higher esteem in this society. They can command the technology of old and as such are responsible for the village security. The village feels very much like a Walking Dead settlement. Koli wants nothing more than to join their ranks, but it seems that one family above others are destined to become Ramparts – the family of his best friend.

A travelling doctor lets Koli into a secret that throws his life into turmoil – can he control tech too and will it earn him his longed for place? I love the tech and hints at the old times, there seems to be some advances on what we know but then a throwback to a more rural way of living. Koli things his village of just over 200 people is big!

Outside the village we are told lies only danger, with nature fighting back and the danger of shunned or faceless ones and a host of savage beasts keeping them isolated especially in the summer months. The – don’t go outside – message may be a little close to the bone for some readers at the moment although it’s trees rather than a virus that seem to pose the biggest threat. We haven’t seen much of what they can do yet so they are a scary unknown threat so far.

This is where Koli, and us, are about to head now and I’m intrigued to visit the wider world and to see what other secrets get spilled. I’m guessing that we might be left at the end of book one with lots more questions. Book 2 is (was?) due out in September and I already know that I’m going to want to know what happens and if/how Koli comes back home again.

If you enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts and Melanie’s voice this definitely has a similar feel. The Book of Koli is out now. I’ve listened to the sample of the audio version and I think that would be a great way to read this story.

Do check out the rest of the tour stops. Thanks to the publisher and Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the e-ARC for the purposes of an honest review.

Sanctuary by VV James – Blog Tour Book Review

It is my spot on the blog tour for Sanctuary by VV James which releases in paperback tomorrow (2nd April 2020).

About the book

Sanctuary. It’s the perfect town. . . to hide a secret. 


The star quarterback’s death was a tragic accident.

Those rumours about his ex-girlfriend? Local gossip.
Detective Maggie Knight thinks she has it all figured out.

She’s wrong.

The small town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback. Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend, Harper, was there when he died. 

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker? 

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching.

About the author


V.V. James is the author (as Vic James) of the contemporary fantasy trilogy Gilded Cage, Tarnished City, and Bright Ruin. Gilded Cage is a 2018 World Book Night pick and a Radio 2 Book Club selection. V.V. worked as an investigative producer for Channel 4 News and now directs documentaries for BBC1 and BBC2.

What I Thought


I had been really struggling with reading since the covid crisis so I put aside plenty of time to read this for the blog tour, but thankfully I ended up whipping through it.


The chapters were generally short and pacy which really helped but the premise was so good and the characters and plot intriguing. If you have any interest in the Salem witch trials and/or crime fiction you are going to want to read this.


Told in multiple points of view mainly from 3 adult women. Abigail – mother of the deceased, Sarah – town witch and mother of the accused and Maggie – detective.


In this world after the witch trials, witches were embedded into the fabric of America but under strict social control, having to register, banned from performing certain spells or using certain texts. The use of magic in a crime increases the severity of the punishment and evidence gained from magical means is inadmissible in trial.

The idea of a coven being between one witch and other non magical women who can loan their energy was fresh and added an extra layer to the uncertainty about what had happened. The secrets and lies between the women begin to unravel not only their friendship but society as a whole. The small town setting added to the claustrophobic atmosphere with everyone interconnected. The relationships were complex and nuanced.


There is an uneasy acceptance of witches in society, hate crime against witches being outlawed but clearly bubbling below. Trust is easily broken and fear stoked up and fuelled by the sorrow of losing a high school quarterback. Football being it’s own religion in certain quarters.

At its heart this was a murder mystery, a who or what done it and why, and I managed to guess at some aspects but not the whole. And this made it a hugely satisfying pay off. The gradual hints at and unfurling of a prior mystery were also so intricately plotted and made this a compelling page turner.


There was so much incidental diversity included. It was a breath of fresh air when a non binary character was introduced who was initially mis-pronouned. But once the character was corrected they simply used the correct pronouns without it being an issue at all.
Ironically towards the end of the book the town gets put into a quarantine because of a “sickness”. But don’t let that parallel with what’s going on in the world put you off. This is a clever and insightful take on a number of contemporary issues. I’ll leave you to learn the lessons of the witches. Something given for something gotten.

For fans of The Crucible, Practical Magic, Witches of East End and Asking For It. Trigger warning for rape and some grotesque moments. Adult.

Thanks to Orion for the paperback copy for the purposes of an honest review. The hardback edition came in Illumicrate. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

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