Geekerella by Ashley Poston

“If you believe in yourself and have a few good friends, then you can do anything. You can be anything. So, as the saying goes: Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsGeek 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.

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.

Feelings: This book was perfect for a reader like me. I love all the fandoms and enjoy subtle (and also not so subtle) references to things I love. PLUS, I love a good fairy tale retelling. This one in particular was done really well. Let’s talk Cinderella first.

This story paralleled the Ever After version of the Cinderella story, more than any of the others. The character’s name is Danielle, she has one nasty sister and one that has a sympathetic side, Danielle and “the prince” have a secret kind of relationships before the “ball” scene, and so on. And I’m glad the author chose that route. In terms of making the story realistic, this was the best way to go.

For the fandom aspect – so much fun! We saw everything from Battlestar Galactica to Game of Thrones to Batman to basically any fandom you can think of. I love the way the story is centered around the (fake, for us) TV series of Starfield, and we get to learn about this show as go go along this journey with the characters. I’m glad it wasn’t focused on an existing show; it made me bond with the characters more this way.

Issues: The story arc with Brian made the story get jumbled. For a while, we kept seeing that name and knew that there was something major that happened between him and Darien. I felt anxious to know what it was! Then when we find out, it comes out in a weird way and sort of falls apart. I didn’t really see Darien learn from that experience and it didn’t develop him as a character, so it just seemed out of place.

There were some small repetitions that annoyed me, like the “holy ______ Batman” line and the references to Darien’s abs. We get it, you’re a fan. We get it, your abs are insured.

What is with GAIL? Darien goes on and on about how he trusts her and how she’s the only one from before his fame began who really knows him, but she was useless. She missed all the drama happening with him, loses his phone at a very important plot point, and is a discombobulated mess. I think Darien needs new friends.

Characters: These characters all felt so REAL. Elle isn’t a perfect protagonist. She’s certainly got some issues, but she’s a teenager and it all made sense. It made her relatable, unlike Disney’s Cinderella character. (She took too much for too long, that’s all I’m saying. Start a mouse rebellion and take that house back, queen.) I like that she finds her voice by the end and discovers what makes her happy. We all go on that journey at some point.

Darien was a bit of a different love interest character. He’s got his own thing going, sure, but he isn’t that perfect, dreamy, Sarah-Dessen-esque boy character. Like Elle, he’s imperfect and makes mistakes along the journey. He learns about trust (sort of) and taking the reigns of his own life.

This book has a great set of side characters (except for Gail). I loved Sage. At first, I thought she was going to be that grumpy character who spoils everything, but she turned out to be the exact opposite. Chloe, the evil step sister, is exactly who the plot needed her to be, and Cal was that sweet surprise in the end. The step mother never got any redemption, like some “evil” parent characters do, which is fitting with the classic fairy tale. I’m okay with her remaining a negative source in Elle’s life, rather than this huge come-to-Jesus-scene where they promise to both “try” or whatever. That isn’t how things go sometimes.

Final thoughts: Not only was it a lot of fun, it was emotional, too. I actually teared up a few times because of the way I felt for the characters and was connected to them. If you love fandoms (or even just one fandom) and/or you love fairy tale retellings, then this is the perfect book for you. I read most of it in one sitting, because I just couldn’t find a good stopping point!

Pick this up if you liked:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Goodreads rating: 4.24/5

My rating: 4.25/5

*This book is out TODAY! I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

March 2017 Wrap Up

This is what I was able to read in March…I read 4 books, listened to 1 audiobook, and read 2 graphic novels, for a grand total of: 7!

Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

  • Sweet. Compelling. Just what I needed.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (audiobook)

  • Funny. Relevant to today. Meh narrator.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Boston, Massachusetts
  • My rating: 4 stars

Summerlost by Ally Condie

  • Tragic, yet hope filled. Theatre.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Utah
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

Booked by Kwame Alexander

  • Novel in verse. Soccer. Family.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

  • Sucked me in. Somewhat predictable. Movie out soon.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Los Angeles, California
  • My rating: 4 stars

Redwall: The Graphic Novel by S. Moore, B. Jacques, B. Blevins, R. Starkings

  • New-to-me story. Cute at times. Hard to follow.
  • My rating: 3.5 stars

Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan

  • Lots of action. Cliffhanger ending. More emotional than the others.
  • My rating: 4 stars

What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (audiobook)

*This review may contain spoilers if you haven’t read the first book, The Sword of Summer.*

“Just like the good old days: marching together into the unknown, searching for missing magical weapons and risking painful death. I’d missed my buddies!”

Synopsis from GoodreadsThor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

Feelings: While I didn’t care much for the narrator, the storyline was pretty good. There were a lot of hot button “issues” going on in this story, which made it feel really relevant, even with all the mythology and history mixed in. I think Riordan handled it well, showing us multiple perspectives, dishing up truths, and making us feel vulnerable all at the same time.

Issues: I still don’t love the talking sword. Sorry, Jack. It just weirds me out!

I got to the end of this book and was only dazzled by mentions of Annabeth and Percy. It just…ended. I didn’t feel like things were really resolved, but rather recycled. I felt like I’d read this story before. Sometimes Riordan’s books echo each other (lost item, angry gods, tricky monsters) but it doesn’t always FEEL so familiar because of the new crew and circumstances. This time, though, I just felt like I’d done this song and dance before. I’m still going to give the story 4 stars simply because the characters and writing overshadowed any issues I had.

Narrator: Kieran Culkin narrates this book and adds a good amount of fun to the story. However, I noticed the voices he used changed over time. So the way he voices Alex, the girl, in the beginning, is different from how he voiced Alex, the girl, in the middle or the end. Culkin just lacked some consistency. While I think he narrated Magnus well, the rest of his performance lacked depth. My rating for the narrator alone is 2.5 stars out of 5.

Final thoughts: As always, I love Riordan’s writing and the way his narrators have a voice. I enjoyed the cast of characters in this story and the journey we took together. It’s definitely an upper middle grade level story, so just know that going into it. I’d recommend the print version of this book over the audio, just as a personal preference.

Pick this up if you liked:

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

Goodreads rating: 4.37/5

Audible.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I Basically Consumed

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I have a hundred things going on and when I finally have a minute to myself, my brain is SO not in a place to engage with words on a page. So I decided this week to reflect back on some books that sucked me in and that I finished in less than one day. Sometimes I’m able to do that simply because I have the time to spare, while others involve me burning the midnight oil with zero regrets. Here are 5 books that I read so quickly that I may as well have devoured them.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

I think what connected for me so well with this book was how different it was from anything else I’d been reading at that time. This book’s main character, Tatum, is SO REAL that the storyline just flowed and I was deeply rooting for her. I just had to know how the conflict played out and whether or not it would all fall in place. Click HERE for my full review!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

This was the last book I read in 2016 and I read it on the LAST day. I started it while I was alone at my parent’s house around 6 PM and was on the last page before midnight. I was SO hooked in by this premise and the gripping characters. This is a book that you should read about before diving in. The conflict and the world are both pretty complex, so it’s good to kind of know where it’s going. Click HERE for my full review! Girl power! The second book comes out this year and is titled One Dark Crown…I. Can’t. Wait.

My Lady Jane by C. Hand, B. Ashton, J. Meadows

This book is SO GREAT. The longer I sit here and think about it, the more I want to start back at page 1 and give it another go. Magical elements that make sense, a fun twist on a sad bit of history, and good use of parenthesis…oh my! Read my full review HERE! If you like the style and humor in The Princess Bride, then you’ll enjoy the way this story is told.

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

I picked up this book at a time when none of the books on my shelf were calling to me. I couldn’t figure out what genre I was in the mood for. Did I want romance? Fantasy? Classics? I was coming up empty. So I went to the book store and was drawn in by this book’s cover. When I read the synopsis, it left me with a lot of questions…so it was perfect. All throughout this book, I wondered what the author would do with the ending. Would there be a magical cure-all happy ending? Or would it be sad and real? I was really satisfied with this story! My full review is HERE.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

When this book came out, I decided to re-read the previous two books. Since this was the last book in the trilogy, I wanted to be able to pick up on everything and really enjoy it. I was worried that reading 3 books in a row would burn me out, but it didn’t. This book energized me! The author pulled out all the stops and didn’t do anything the way I expected her to and I LOVED it. This may be one of my top favorite series ending books ever. That’s saying something! I downed it. Then I wanted to have my memory erased so I could do it all over again. My full review for this book is HERE.

What are some books that you flew through? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

“Doubt and defeat have no place in the sacred sanctuary of your heart.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love. In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over. With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers: Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt; Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence; Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging; Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.” End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

Feelings: Sometimes I struggle with non-fiction. It’s hard for me to get into the flow or get used to the writer’s tone. And I start longing for a good plot. Give me a conflict and falling action any day. But then other times I need words of encouragement or a perspective shift. That’s where non-fiction comes in to play. Christian non-fiction is usually what I reach for when I’m in this mood and I’d heard great things about Lysa’s Uninvited.

There are a lot of things that Lysa does well in this book. Each chapter is formatted in a similar way – starting a story or anecdote, digging into scripture, closing the story with hope and practical application – making her ideas easy to track with. Her writing voice is so inviting and she gets downright vulnerable in her honesty, so I trusted every word she said. I felt like she understood my struggles. This trusting voice also led to a lot of affirmations. She reminded me that my life and my voice are beautiful and that I was created to be pursued and for pursuit. There’s a lot of hope in this book, friends.

Takeaways: I highlighted SO MANY things from this book. One of my greatest takeaways, though, where the prayers she lists out. For the times in our life that feel in-between, Lysa shares 10 different prayers we can use and apply in our lives. I copied all of them down in the notes app of my phone so I can keep them close by and at the ready. She also provides questions to ask when we get to these points and to difficult moments in any relationship. I found these to be really practical and relevant.

This book is about the aftermath of rejection and how we cope with it. How do we approach life after feeling tossed into a pit? Lysa reminds us that rejection isn’t the end, the destination. It can be a delay or a pitstop, but it’s never the end of the course. We are destined for something so much greater. There’s a lot we can learn from these seasons and she gives us some things to remember during these times.

Final thoughts: I think this is a great read. Lysa’s ideas and voice are easy to follow, poignant, and gritty. She doesn’t dumb things down or scold – nothing like that. Her writing, instead, is more like a hug mixed with some hard truths. As a side note, I wouldn’t recommend the audiobook necessarily. I found it to be done in a cheesy, kind of annoying way. I started with the audio, but ultimately switched to the ebook version…also because I wanted to be able to highlight and make notes!

Pick this up if you liked:

Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst

Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

Goodreads rating: 4.35/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Classics I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read (Yet)

It’s no secret that I read a lot. (But if you need evidence, see my book blog….) While I love new releases and running book series, I also occasionally enjoy dipping my toes into the pool of classics. There are so many that I’ve read over the years, especially way back when I was in high school. Assigned reading was 95% “old” stuff, so I racked up my classic count during those 4 years.

As an adult, I occasionally hear or read where people refer to these classics in conversation or as reference. Most of the times, I can track with it. But sometimes, it’s over my head. These are 5 books that I surprisingly haven’t read (yet)!

The Grapes of Wrath byJohn Steinbeck

My understanding is that MOST people read this in school. I think I missed that year…meaning when I moved high schools, my former classmates read it and my new ones didn’t. Or something like that. I know a lot of people that read it maybe their sophomore year of high school? I was reading Pride & Prejudice and Lord of the Flies that year. One thing I’ve heard about this book is that it’s culturally relevant and it’s important as a classic, but it’s not necessarily enjoyable to read. So that makes it hard to motivate myself to start it! And yet, I do like being part of the crowd.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

I know people would say that this is their favorite book ever. Then I also know people that have told me it was OK, but the upcoming movie will be great. I know that Mindy Kaling will be in it…so I’m sold. Ha! I love a good time travel story, so I would probably enjoy this. I did try to read the graphic novel adaptation a couple of years ago and was bored. But I only read like 5 pages…so it’s worth giving another go!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I realize that this book isn’t even a hundred pages long. I get that. But I’ve also heard that it’s dripping in philosophical symbolism. So while it may be 80-something pages, the content seems DENSE. And yet, this is one that I hear people refer to sometimes. I think there’s a Netflix adaptation…but come on…80 pages or so? I can do it. (I CAN do it, right?)

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Ok, so I haven’t read this book…but I HAVE seen a TV adaptation for the BBC. I couldn’t name characters and dish out exactly what happened, so I would probably be interested in picking up this story to read. I remember the female characters being particularly interesting, albeit a touch crazy. This kind of story isn’t one that I usually crave to read, so I would have to force myself to start it. But then the language sweeps me up and I’m hooked.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I debated a few different classics to list as #5 and ended up going with this one. Some of my favorite book reviewers have said great things about the characters and the writing in this book. I’ve also been told that it’s slow at first, but then you fly through the rest of it. This seems like it’d be right up my alley, gothic literature with a bit of mystery and romance. I may just give this one a read soon!

Have you read these classics? What are some that you haven’t read, but maybe should? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

“Nothing this summer had gone the way I imagined. But maybe it was supposed to be that way so I could turn the page and move onto a new, clean chapter in my story.”

started-with-goodbye

Synopsis from GoodreadsSixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Feelings: This story is really fresh and different! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up on the Cinderella-twist vibe, but this book handles it really well. It wasn’t TOO parallel to the original fairy tale, more like…loosely inspired by. Modern twists and unexpected turns kept it interesting!

I liked that we saw a budding romance, struggles in friendships, and a disconnected family. There were a few realms of conflict keeping everything going, but it wasn’t ever that there was TOO much going on.

Issues: In terms of reality, I thought the punishment from the court and from her Dad were kind of extreme. No one was listening to her at all and she was treated like she’d done something MAJOR. I don’t know…it just didn’t totally come together, in my opinion.

Characters: Tatum is a very REAL character. She’s flawed and she messes up, she fights against the machine, but also comes around and is humble. She works hard, struggles with her reality, and finds ways to make things work. She’s so relatable and I enjoyed going on this journey with her.

I understand what it’s like to have a step-parent and how difficult it can be to adjust. I appreciated how the author twisted the traditional “evil stepmother” trope and made her a human being with motivations.

This story has a great cast of friend characters. Ashlyn is the imperfect BFF. Abby is the mature friend. Hunter is the cool guy. Tilly is the wild card. And SK adds some mystery (and hunkiness). It’s a diverse group where each person has their own “thing”, keeping the story moving and breaking up any chance of monotony.

Final thoughts: The writing style is really simple, so I finished this story in a day. It wasn’t necessarily that I just HAD to know how it turned out, I was just enjoying the writing and easy to follow plot. There’s a pretty high “cheese” factor in this book, but I like that from time to time!

Pick this up if you liked:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads rating: /5

My rating: 4/5

*This book will be out May 9 of this year. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn