About the Book
The year is 1998, and like any other teenager, Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year without drama… but drama seems to keep finding her.
Between a new crush on her childhood best friend, and her younger sister’s worsening health, the only constant is change – and her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day.
Swickley is getting weirder by the day too. Half the population has been struck down by a mysterious flu. Conversations seem to end awkwardly when Jess enters the room. And then one day, a tiny, sleek black device – with an apple logo on it – falls out of her best friend’s backpack and lands at Jess’s feet.
But the first iPhone won’t exist for another nine years.
Suddenly Jess has more questions than answers about her own life. And as she races to uncover the truth about her family, her friendships, and her town, one thing becomes clear: we all have our own version of reality.
Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life in this fast-paced, timely novel about separating fact from fiction – and the lengths one girl will go to live on her own terms.
About the Author
Anna Carey is the author of Blackbird, Deadfall, and the Eve trilogy. She lives in Los Angeles.
What I Thought
It is quite hard to review this book without spoilers so you may not wish to read my review until you’ve read the book.
A quick summary is that this is a pacy young adult satirical thriller with a focus on real relationships.
First up let’s talk about the title. “This is not the Jess Show” sounds exactly like something a parent would say to their self obsessed teen. But what if it was the Jess Show?
The blurb describes this as “My So Called Life” meets “Black Mirror” and – spoiler – I would add in meets “The Truman Show” (the book has already been optioned for film too). I am a huge MSCL fan and a teen of the 90s so I very much got all the references, e.g. Party of Five, Dawson’s Creek etc (although oddly enough no Jared Leto fangirling appears in this book – did anyone else copy Angela in trying to drink their coffee black with 3 or 4 sugars because he did? …No…just me!).
The flu that is mentioned in the blurb is only a small part of the story so if you are sick of reading about pandemics then thankfully you don’t need to avoid this book. As a medically inclined person I googled the condition that Jess’ sister has mainly because I wanted more detail about what issues it causes. I won’t tell you what I found!
Jess’ circumstances provide a platform for a critique of social media/influencer culture, reality versus portrayed reality, and it also explores what bringing children up in the public eye is like. I think I’d have appreciated a little more subtlety in some of the character portrayals but in having more stereotypical characters the satirical message is made clearer.
I was surprised how calm and non-plussed Jess was throughout much of the book – she definitely did not take her teenage angst lessons from those 90s shows.
At its heart though there is a strong focus on true relationships and Jess and the two main characters she connects with do have you rooting for a happy ending for them all.
But if this is the Jess Show how easy is is it to turn off?
Thank you to Black Crow and Quirk for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review.
About the Book
Mia might look like a Millenial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with a head wound and amnesia, she can’t remember her name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), Mia senses she’s wealthy – but the only way to know is to retrace her steps. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in her posts, but Max – an off duty postdoc supplementing his income with a housesitting gig – tells her the house belongs to a French billionaire. Mia can’t argue; there’s no evidence that she’s ever been there before.
As she works backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles, she discovers a trail of disasters that led to the night of her accident – which might not have been an accident after all. Without ID, family or friends, Mia enlists Max to help her right the wrongs of her recent past. But can she do that if she doesn’t understand the truth behind her own lies?
About the Author
Sam Tschida (pronounced “cheetah”) is from the wilds of Minnesota, where she lives with a motley crew of kids, dogs, and one handsome man. She is cofounder of Manufixed, an editorial consulting company and a writing workshop that serves the Twin Cities. In her spare time she spends 20 minutes a day with her favourite YouTube exercise guru and watches Netflix.
What I Thought
Siri, Who am I? by Sam Tschida is a modern mash up of mystery and romance with a dash of social commentary, and it was a lot of fun. Protagonist Mia wakes from a coma with amnesia and has to piece together her life from her cracked mobile phone. She remembers modern pop culture references but not who she is, not unusual in trauma. She soon discovers that the glossy filtered snaps from her Instagram may not display the truth and by the end she has a choice to make: between making her photos her reality, accepting the truth, or wiping the social media slate clear and starting again. Which will she choose?
It’s interesting reading other reviews and in particular the ones that stand out as not liking Mia therefore not enjoying the book. This idea that female characters have to be likeable to make a story enjoyable grates me and I enjoyed Mia’s personality rehabilitation. Is she perfect at any point during the story? No. Are any of us? Again. No. But does she develop over the course of the story. Yes.
One of the film references the character makes is to the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell classic Overboard (I love this film) and I think that is an excellent comparison. This is #Overboard for Millennials. This has been optioned for film by a major Hollywood studio see my dream casting below.
If you’ve read the book, what do you think of my casting? Who would be ok your dream cast?
Thank you to Stephen and Quirk for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review and do check out all the posts on #bookstagram using the #siriwhoami
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.
…and because I’m a geek here’s everything we know so far…
This post contains spoilers … you have been warned.
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 (?).
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)
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
Obscura – not mentioned in reboot
Vexel Day – not mentioned in reboot
Ingarians – race of aliens mentioned in script
Voltures – race of aliens mentioned in script
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
Arteysa Galaxy and its frozen tundra
Galactic Six and its moons
Andromeda Earth – homewarld of the Federation
The Black Nebula – world sucking abyss
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
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
Joke: How do you get a one armed Nox out of a tree? You wave at it!!!
Supreme Intergalactic Empress/Highness
Solar Flux Capacitor
Path of the Sun – cult believes in harnessing the Black Nebula to become a god.
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
The Broken Throne
To Nox and Goodnight
The Last Carmindor (final book before reboot)
Starfield: Resonance companion novel
Book titles mentioned but ? Starfield ones
Black Spire Bloodline
Heir to the Empire
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.