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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.

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
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