Pros and Cons / Geekerella

Hello friends!

Pros and ConsHow are things? Doesn’t it feel like April has just zipped by? I return to school today after a wonderful spring break spent with friends and family, and it’s now only a month away until the last day of school, a fact that is all sorts of exciting for this graduating senior. As much as I can’t wait for the spring musical and other end-of-the-year events, I’m also looking forward to the lazy summer days that allow a bit more time for reading and blogging! We’re long overdue for a catch-up—I have a “Currently” post slated for later in the week—but in the meantime, I wanted to share a review of an adorable new release, Ashley Poston’s Geekerella. What have you been reading lately?

Geekerella

Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

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. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win… unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. {Goodreads}

P R O S
+ A fun-loving plot that embraces modern fan culture Looking at conversations on social media, the latest products that fly off the shelves, or even the most recent issues of Entertainment Weekly, and it’s clear: fandom has a heavy influence on pop culture. And in this lies Geekerella‘s biggest strength: that it embraces and praises the idea of modern fandom to its full extent. For those of us who do not participate—or perhaps better said, don’t go to the extremes—in fandom, I think it is easy to write off the cults, contests, and conventions as “nerdy” and nothing more, but Poston paints a bigger {and better!} picture through the passion and love that Elle and Darien share for Starfield. It’s a love letter to fan culture, with references to fandoms that exist outside of the novel, and who could say no to that?

+ Use of a classic story as inspiration, not dictation As the name suggests, Geekerella is inspired by the beloved fairy tale, Cinderella. It’s a classic story used time and time again as inspiration for new material, but what I appreciated with Poston’s take is that she never allows it to dominate the narrative between Elle and Darien. Their relationship, in other words, is not driven by what the plot of Cinderella dictates, but rather, what feels most natural to their characters. I applaud Poston for flexing that skill, as it’s hard to come by among veteran authors and even harder to master with only two published novels under your belt.

Realistically drawn teenage protagonist and supporting cast Finally, it’s all too frequent of an occurrence in YA for the teenagers to read false, as if the author modeled their characters only after the portrayals of high school seen on television. This, fortunately, wasn’t a problem here: Elle is a sweetheart with concerns and complaints known by many an adolescent; Sage’s sharp sense of humor mirrors that of many of my peers; and even Darien, who has a job few teenagers can share, was drawn realistically, right down to his worry over whether or not he texted the right thing. Such attention to realism makes up for any moments of disbelief and furthermore, the strength in the protagonists’ character development complements the fun, fandom-loving plot.

C O N S
The story could further improve with more depth. The area where Geekerella might benefit from improvement is in its sense of depth. I love a lighthearted story as much as the next person, but it should never lose its purpose in the fun. I don’t think this is problem unique to Geekerella, however, as I believe it frequently strikes adaptations {it’s easier to go light when using a story with such a rich history}. With that said, Geekerella remains a delight. We need more novels that explore and share in fandom, because if there is anything the young adult book industry needs to learn, it’s that readers like to see themselves reflected on the page.

Have a terrific start to your week! :)

High Five / 13

Hi friends!

High Five 13
Happy Sunday! How was your week? Are you finding time to read and relax? I have a few assignments to wrap up and a number of emails to catch up on, but my Sunday otherwise looks quiet, a welcome pace after a busy week at school. All that said, it’s been a few weeks since I last shared a High Five – we’re long overdue for a chance to catch up! Here are a few highlights from my March, but tell me first, what’s new on your end?

[1] To start, if you’re in need of a new artist to add to your spring playlists, let me recommend my current favorite: Nadia Reid, a talented singer and songwriter from New Zealand. I stumbled upon her second album, Preservation, earlier this month, and it was, as they say, love at first sight. Taking an alternative approach to the folk genre, Reid lends her gorgeous, haunting voice to each track, including my favorites “Richard” and “Te Aro.” Her first album, Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs, is just as good, and both, I’ve found, are perfect to listen to while baking or studying. In short, she deserves a listen – or more! What music have you been enjoying lately?

[2] My sister and I are slowly, but surely, making our way through this past season’s set of Oscar nominees: Arrival was a stunning depiction of language and science, Loving brought history to life through a stellar cast, and Moonlight, as promised to us, was nothing short of incredible. Our latest pick? Jackie, the biopic that takes audiences into the life of Jackie Kennedy in the week following her husband’s death. Starring Natalie Portman as Jackie herself, the film deserves the high praise it has received; the costumes and sets are both impeccable, the cinematography had my eyes glued to the screen, and Portman carries the story with a breathtaking performance. I want to watch it again to catch the little details, but after that, it’s on to Lion. Have you seen Jackie?

[3] If I’m not in a show, the next best thing is seeing the work of my pals who are! A number of my friends were cast in a local production of My Fair Lady, the classic musical that follows Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and phonetics professor Higgins. I haven’t seen many musicals outside of the contemporary realm, and so, I was curious to see how they would pull it together. I needn’t had feared; the company never fails to put on a good show, and this one was no exception, with high-energy numbers, a neat set, and terrific leads {I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have “With a Little Bit of Luck” stuck in my head all day}. Furthermore, seeing the story on stage has me wanting to watch the film adaptation once more. Thankfully, I’m never one to turn down an Audrey Hepburn movie night :)

[4] I too was recently involved in a show: Eurydice, my school’s one-act play festival entry. The cast and crew competed in the semi-final round among several other talented schools last weekend, and though we didn’t move on, we all enjoyed making friends with students who love theater just as much as we do. For me, it was a bittersweet end to an activity that defined my four years of high school {we former directors are all above}, telling of how quickly this school year is going by! It wasn’t the only sign that senior year is entering its end: I was accepted into one of my top schools this past week {Go Ephs!}, my friends and I have picked out our prom dresses {I have this floral piece now hanging in my closet}, and my fellow class officers and I are already discussing our unofficial traditions {Senior Skip Day, anyone?}. With the last day of school only two months away, I’m doing my best to soak each and every memory in.

[5] Finally, if you have an hour to spare today, consider reading the first issue of Stay Bookish, a new online magazine devoted to YA literature. I was delighted to join the staff – headed by the wonderful Hazel – as a designer, and I was even more excited to see the hard work of the entire team come together! I don’t want to speak for the entire group, but I certainly had a blast working on it, and with everything from an interview with Becky Albertalli to a playlist based on this spring’s releases, I believe there’s an article in there for every bookworm. Rehearsals and homework prevented me from designing more than a few articles this time around, but I look forward to contributing more for our second edition. In the meantime, do you have any zine recommendations?

Have a lovely rest of your weekend!
B

My Spring 2017 TBR List

Hello, hello!

Top Ten TuesdayHappy Tuesday! I’m home from school today thanks to a mid-March snowstorm, and while I can’t say I want winter to last any longer, I’ll take any opportunity to read a little longer, sleep a little later, and bake and blog a bit more. On that same note, it seems strange to write about the books I hope to read this spring with snow still piling up outside my window, but it’s that time of year for The Broke and the Bookish‘s seasonal TBR lists! At this point, you surely know how it works: I’ve rounded up several novels I hope to read in the coming months {in addition to the books I’ve already featured earlier in the year}. I like to think of it as a no-pressure way to bring some variety to my bookshelf. What do you want to read this spring?

A Season of Daring GreatlyTo kick off my list, I have A Season of Daring Greatly from seasoned author Ellen Emerson White. I’ll admit, I was originally drawn to the book solely for its clever cover, but the synopsis kept my interest: mere days after her high school graduation, the main character starts an athletic career on a major league baseball team. A similar premise has found success on the small screen {have you watched Pitch?}, so I have my fingers crossed it resonates with the YA audience  – myself included! – just as well. {already out}

FireworksLike many an author in the YA genre, Katie Cotugno is a writer I continually see in reviews and discussion, though whose work I have yet to check out. I’m hoping to change that this spring with the release of her novel Fireworks, a fun romp in which two best friends are unexpectedly thrown into stardom. Realistic fiction is right up my alley, YA can always use another music-centered plot, and ’90s settings are some of my favorites. Needless to say, I’ll be grabbing this as soon as it hits shelves. {out April 18}

Forget Me NotOn the middle grade side of things, I’m looking forward to reading Forget Me Not by debut author Ellie Terry. Already garnering several words of praise, the novel follows narrator Callie as she navigates moving to a new school, making and keeping friends, and dealing with Tourette syndrome; just as exciting as the plot is the prose, Callie’s story written in verse. It releases today, so I hope a copy will make its way into my local library circulation soon. {out today!}

I Believe in a Thing Called LoveIf the bright colors on the cover of Maurene Goo’s sophomore novel, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, doesn’t have you thinking spring, I don’t know what will. The story inside seems to me to be just as fun: after years of failed flirting attempts, Desi turns to Korean dramas for lessons on how to win over her crush. With promises of a sweet heroine, strong family relationships, and scenes that have readers laughing out loud, this sounds just like the fluffy, light-hearted read I’ll need come May. {out May 30}

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will MatterWith a title as humorous as One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, should I expect anything less than good things from Scaachi Koul’s memoir? Koul currently writes for Buzzfeed, and in her first published book, it’s said that she brings the same “clear eye and biting wit” that one can find in her work on the web. I love a good essay collection when things get busy {i.e. hours of AP preparation are made all the better with a few funny passages}, so I’m counting down the days until I have a copy for myself. {out May 2}

The Fashion CommitteeI consider Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission a hidden gem of the YA shelves; it has a set of memorable characters, a sharp sense of humor, and a wonderful blend of quirk and heart. You can thus imagine my excitement when I came across her newest book – and companion novel! – The Fashion Committee, slated for release this May, in which characters and friends Charlie and John compete for a spot at the same prestigious art school that won my heart the first time around. I can’t wait for its reappearance. {out May 23}

The RefugeesSince devouring Flying Lessons and Other Stories in one sitting, I’ve been itching to try another anthology. Add in the current political climate, and I think there’s no better time than the present to read The Refugees, a collection of short stories centered around the Vietnam War by author Viet Thanh Nguyen. Since its publication in February, it’s been praised by readers and critics alike; I think it will only be a matter of weeks before I too get to fall in love with the characters Nguyen has crafted. {already out}

The Sky is EverywhereMy spring reading list has no shortage of new releases, but when it comes to backlist novels I hope to read, I have my eyes on only one: Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere. Her debut, the book has been described as “a celebration of love [and] a portrait of loss” as the main character finds comfort in other after her older sister’s sudden death. I’m excited to fall for a new love triangle, of course, but more importantly, I’m excited to finally have reason to join in the Jandy Nelson fan club. {already out}

WindfallWhen someone is looking for well-developed characters and cute romances, I’m quick to recommend any book by Jennifer E. Smith, as she has time and time again delivered pitch-perfect contemporaries. That said, it’s been far too long since I last picked up a novel of hers, which is why, perhaps, I’m so anxious for the release of her next book, Windfall. With an interesting premise, a well-drawn protagonist, and a colorful cover to boot, I can’t see why Smith wouldn’t be keeping up her streak. {out May 2}

Word By WordFinally, for my fellow “word nerds” and budding lexicographers, can we all agree to read Kory Stamper’s Word by Word at some point this spring? Stamper, an editor and writer at Merriam-Webster, invites the audience into the history of dictionaries, including such tidbits like the first use of “OMG” and the length it can take to define a single word. Readers who have already seen a copy have awarded it high praise, which I take to mean that this nonfiction piece will have me smiling from beginning to end. Yes please. {out today}

Have a wonderful day!
Bella