Posted in Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Once Upon a Con: Bookish and the Beast keeps the magic going

Bookish and the Beast, by Ashley Poston, (Aug. 2020, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781683691938

Ages 12+

The third Once Upon a Con book is coming! I’ve been enjoying this series since picking up Geekerella back in 2017. Remixed fairy tales, updated to take place in a fandom world? Yes, please!┬áIn this third installment, we’ve got some returning characters, some new faces, and a familiar storyline with a little fandom magic.

Rosie Thorne is a high school senior, living with her widowed dad, and mourning her mom, who happened to be a huge fan of… you know it, Starfield, the sci-fi series introduced in Geekerella. She’s also stuck on her college application essays and on the memory of the masked General Sond cosplayer she met at ExelsiCon. While trying to do a good deed, she inadvertently stumbles into a house where Vance Reigns – actor, Hollywood bad boy, and Starfield’s very own General Sond – is hiding out from the paparazzi after a major scandal hit the tabloids. He’s predictably beastly (see what I did there?) to Rosie, who’s so taken aback that she ruins a rare book in the house’s gorgeous library. She offers to work off the cost of the book, which means she’s now spending every day in Vance’s presence. As the two get used to one another, literal and proverbial masks come off, but they’re both hurt and vulnerable people: can Rosie and Vance let their guards down enough to fall in love?

Bookish and the Beast has all the elements that make Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series so readable: great dialogue and pacing, fun characters that you want to fall in love with and hang out with, and most importantly, the genuine love of fandom. Her characters’ fandoms – in this case, Starfield – have passed on through generations, from parents to children, and it’s here that the heart of fandom lies. Fandom is a community, with its good, bad, and ugly, and Ashley Poston respects that community by creating characters that inhabit that space in her books and the readers who love them. Each character goes on their own personal journeys here, and so many relatable, enjoyable characters.

Rainbow Rowell readers, this series is for you. Check out Ashley Poston’s website for an FAQ, links to her social media, and more information about her books.

Posted in Toddler Reads

First Stories bring toddlers into fairy tale fun!

Author Dan Taylor and publisher Silver Dolphin Books have debuted the cutest interactive board books to introduce toddlers to some of the most popular, beloved fairy tales:

Beauty and the Beast, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626868977

Belle the Beauty becomes the Beast’s “guest” in place of her father, where she eventually sees past his beastly exterior (see what I did there?), he throws her a lovely feast, and they fall in love, breaking the curse and letting him because a handsome prince again.

 

Cinderella, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626868984

Cinderella is treated horribly by her horrible stepsisters, but her Fairy Godmother steps in and declares that she shall go to the ball! She runs off at the stroke of midnight and forgets her shoe, but the handsome prince tracks her down. Try as her stepsisters might, they can’t get the shoe on, but it’s a perfect fit for Cinderella!

 

Rapunzel, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626869004

A handsome prince sees poor Rapunzel trapped in a tower by a mean old witch who uses Rapunzel’s hair to get up and down the walls. When the prince tries to climb up to meet her, the witch snips Rapunzel’s hair, sending him flying over the edge! It’s okay, though – Rapunzel and the prince get their happily ever after at the end

Each book is only about 10 pages (and that includes front and back covers), and the pages are sturdy – they’ll hold up to multiple readings, which is a good thing, because each page has something fun for little hands to explore: slide Cinderella away to her pumpkin coach before midnight, scroll through the delightful food offerings Beast offers Beauty at dinner time, or help the prince and Rapunzel reunite at the end of the story! The art is very sweet and bright. The books are loaded with fun things to do and see, a perfect introduction to fairy tales for storytime for boys and girls alike.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Beauty and the Beast, retold: Roses by Rose Mannering

rosesRoses, by Rose Mannering, (May 2016, Sky Pony), $6.99 via Kindle, ASIN: B01EEQ9D7Q

Recommended for ages 12+

The first in The Tales Trilogy, which will bring well-known fairy tales together in a war-torn fantasy world, Roses is the story of Beauty and the Beast. A nameless young girl arrives to live in the city of Sago, a ward of the wealthy Ma and Pa Dane. She is unusual, with silvery skin, white hair, and violet eyes; in a world where magical beings are feared and loathed, her appearance causes eyebrows to raise. At first, Ma Dane horribly mistreats the girl, even hiring a cruel nanny to beat her and verbally abuse her. As the girl grows older and Ma Dane is reminded of a promise she made long ago, her relationship to the girl becomes more of a showpiece, trotting her out so visitors can gawk at her. She’s given the name Beauty as a cruel joke. When Sago goes through an uprising where magical beings are hunted down, Beauty is sent with Ma Dane’s master of horse, Owaine, to flee into the hill lands for her own safety. Eventually, though, even the hills aren’t safe for Beauty, and she’s forced to run again: this time, to a castle and a Beast, who holds a terrible secret.

Rose Mannering builds an incredible fantasy world in Roses. I wasn’t sure where the book was going at first, to be honest; the Beauty and the Beast part of the story builds gradually, with the first half of the book giving us Beauty’s background. I would have loved more of Beauty and the Beast, because their relationship is masterfully shaped and formed. It looks like we’ll likely get more of these two in future Tales, as it looks like Beauty is going to be a key character in this trilogy.

There are themes of child abuse and bullying, secrets kept and mysterious amulets abound in this first volume. Fantasy and fairy tale fans will be thrilled with a new series to love, and YA romance fans will be drawn to it, because Beauty and the Beast is THE romance! (Beauty and the Beast fans: YES, there is a library, and YES, it is just as breathtaking as your imagination makes it.)

There are so many great YA fairy tale retellings to booktalk this with: your Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles, Sarah Cross’ Beau Rivage series, Colleen Oakes’ Queen of Hearts – these are just a few. You can start a book group with all of the fairy tales being rewritten these days; ask your readers to read the original tale and the revamp, and talk about the similarities, differences, additions to the worlds, even show the original movies. Our fairy tales have had new lives breathed into them as we hold onto them, which could be a whole topic of discussion, too. We have Disney Princesses as tattooed pin-ups and weapon-wielding warriors, and we’re imagining Disney Princes are real-life people. There’s a lot to talk about here!

Roses is a promising beginning to a new fantasy series. A good add to fantasy collections. The hardcover was published in 2013 and is now available in paperback. I read the Kindle edition for my review, which is also available. The second book in the Tales Trilogy, Feathers, was published in June.