Book Reviews

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sometimes the best heroes are the ones in your head—but that doesn’t make them any less real.

Ashley Poston

When I first read the first book, Geekerella, I fell in love with the story. It came out a in April of 2017, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until August of 2017. In June of 2017 my father passed away suddenly and I spent the following month doing what I could to keep his legacy alive. So, when I picked up Geekerella, I sobbed my way through it. I had no memory of ever connecting to a story that much. After that I tucked it into my shelf, not knowing until 2 weeks ago that it was turning into a series. Imagine my delight and happiness when seeing that the book that had gotten me through the darkest time in my life, was just a launchpad for more nerd love.

And that’s exactly what The Princess and the Fangirl truly is. More nerd love. Not just love between nerds, but love FOR nerds. The book is a love letter to those of us who live and breathe stories set in the Stars (Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, BattleSTAR Galactica, etc). The book is littered with so many amazing pop culture references (although I do admit that could be a detractor for some people) it was like fuel for my TMORD* heart.

We follow two characters, Jessica Stone (whom we met in Geekerella) and Imogene Lovelace. The two girls are from different worlds, but look nearly identical. Identical enough that through a chain of events, Imogene goes from accidentally being mistaken for Jessica, to actually intentionally impersonating her for the duration of ExcelsiCon. There is a steep learning curve for both girls, as they realize the other didn’t have it as easily as first it appeared. I loved following both storylines, and I love how Ashley weaves LGBTQ+ relationships into her stories. They feel so natural and I ship all of them so much.

I didn’t love this one quite as much as I loved Geekerella, but I think the latter just will always have a special place in my heart because of my own life experiences at the time. If you are a fan of modern retellings and any type of nerd culture, this series is for you. But I recommend starting with the first one. While this one can be read as a standalone, there are callbacks to the first one that wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

Also – special note. Clearly Ashley has been or WELL researched cons that take place in Atlanta (like Dragon Con), because multiple times the carpet is described as memorable, and if you’ve been to Dragon Con you KNOW what she’s talking about.

*TMORD – imaginary language(?) my sister and I created and identify with: TV-Movie Over Reference Disorder.

Book Particulars

  • Page Count: 320
  • Publisher: Quirk Books
  • Edition Read: Hardcover
  • Release Date: April 2, 2019
  • Dates Read: October 14 – 20

Book Synopsis

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity 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 trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after. 

Book Funsies, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday!

The week in the MarenBoBarenReads universe, I spent the vast majority of my weekend crawling out of the pile of schoolwork that had happened when I was sick (although I did manage to take a respite to go to the zoo with my sister and niece which was a blast)! My sister is my original book recommender. Being 10 years older than me, she influence a lot of my early reading tendencies. Which is why it’s unsurprising the first book on this list is thanks to her.

Nancy Drew #37: The Clue in the Old Stagecoach by Carolyn Keene

This was recommended to me (read: shoved into my hand when I was sick and told it was all I was about time I read Nancy Drew at age 7 or 8). I cannot thank my sister enough for that push, it sparked a life long love of this favorite mystery heroine.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Easily one of my all time favorite series, recommended to me by my boss/friend when I worked for Barnes & Noble

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Another recommendation from my sister. She was throwing some good YA Contemporary at me when I was in a YA Fantasy rut.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I swear, I don’t exclusively read books recommended by my sister, but this is another one.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I had seen this book alllllllll over Bookstagram and decided to give it a shot!

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson

Kept seeing this book pop up when I was the Teen Lead at Barnes & Noble, quickly fell in love with the world and the story. Is it wrong that this made me want to reread the series again?

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Another book who I kept seeing when working for B&N. Being the Teen Lead was often bad for my wallet….

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I honestly don’t remember what eventually got me to read this book…work, bookstagram, or booktube.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

This was a recommendation from a friend on Bookstagram after I feel head over heels in love with the covers when she posted a photo of the trilogy.

And last but not least!

Paradise Snare by A.C Crispin

This has become my all time favorite Star Wars series in the original EU. My husband felt it was an easy recommend for him to give me based on how in LOVE with the Han Solo character I am. Seriously, he knows I would leave him for Han Solo….or even Harrison Ford.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Book Reviews

Pride & Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Bookish Life Lesson – Pride & Premeditation Edition: If a man tells you that you aren’t fit to become something because you’re a woman, do it anyway.

Releases March 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Technically it’s 4 1/2

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.

Tirzah Price

A few days ago I woke up to find I was approved for an ARC from HarperCollins for Pride & Premeditation, it would be an understatement to say I quietly smiled to myself. I full on fangirl squealed. I had only read the synopsis a few days before, but I was already so in. Pride & Prejudice?! Murder?! What else does my serial killer obsessed, Jane Austen loving, retelling excited loving heart need!?

The book starts off with Lizzie already furious about something Mr. Collins has done (no surprise there). And from the first page you really feel as though Tirzah has managed to get inside the real mind of Elizabeth Bennet. She has all the wit and spunk that our beloved heroine has in the original tale, plus she has the freedom to poke her nose into cases. At least, as far as Mr. Bennet is concerned. Mrs. Bennet is, unsurprisingly, unhappy with the matter. The story itself takes place in London, but don’t be worried that your favorite places are neglected. The law firm owned and run by Mr. Bennet is called Longbourn & Sons, cleverly named after the family home in the original novel. Mr. Bingley’s company is called Netherfield Shipping, and Mr. Darcy’s law firm is called Pemberley & Associates. I love how Tirzah has also managed to weave in all our favorite (and less than favorite) characters into the story. They all pop up at least a few times, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out in what capacity! There are also several quotations in the book that are from the original that give a delightful nod to the source material, without relying too heavily on it. And the dialog between our beloved Elizabeth and Darcy is spot on.

“Do you purposefully misunderstand everything I say, Miss Bennet?” “Do you purposefully overlook all inconvenient truths, Mr. Darcy?”

All in all I loved this book. I was only 25% of the way through when I was eagerly looking up to make sure there would be sequels. I’m a bit concerned that the sequels appear to be based on the other Jane Austen works, but I know I’ll love them regardless. But if I could get another Lizzie book, I’d be beyond happy. **hint hint**

The story takes some obvious liberties (women in the early 1800s would not have realistically been allowed to work on cases, or defend a case in a courtroom), but who cares? It’s a retelling. The point of retelling a classic work is to give it a new spin, so, if you are able to suspend that disbelief then you should 100% pick up this book. If you like strong female characters set in a time where they wouldn’t have been viewed that way, pick this up. It’s great for fans of novels like the Stalking Jack the Ripper series or the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book. (Although I can 100% say that there are no zombies or supernatural beings in this novel).

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 368
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Edition Read: ebook – thanks NetGalley and HarperTeen for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!
  • Release Date: March 9, 2021
  • Read Date: October 12th – October 13th

Book Synopsis:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman who desires a law career must be in want of a case. So when seventeen-year-old Lizzie Bennet hears about a scandalous society murder, she sees an opportunity to prove herself as a solicitor by solving the case and ensuring justice is served.

Except the man accused of the crime already has a lawyer on his side: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious Pemberley Associates law firm. Lizzie is determined to solve the murder before Darcy can so that she can show the world that a woman can be just as good as a man. (The fact that Darcy is an infuriating snob doesn’t help.) But there’s still a killer on the loose, and as the case gets more complicated, Lizzie and Darcy may have to start working together to avoid becoming the next victims themselves. 

Book Reviews

A Tale of Two Rom Coms

Over the past weekend/Beginning of the week, I read two fun RomComs! Not a bad way to spend my birthday weekend right? I realized after finishing the second one, that they both had something very sweet in common. No, I don’t meet sweet like “awww,” although they had that too. I mean literal. Both have cupcakes/baking in the background. Both made me slightly wished I hadn’t started the Keto diet 3 weeks ago and could eat a cupcake too!

Enough rambling, on to the books! First up:

What I Like About You

Is it still a love triangle if there are only two people in it?

Marisa Kanter

Next up on my month of fluffy RomComs was What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter. This book was adorable. You follow Halle Levitt, granddaughter of Miriam Levitt, acclaimed YA and Children’s book editor. Halle has an online book blogger persona named Kels, whom she views as entirely different version of herself. Kels is the cool one. Kels isn’t the one with the legacy of Miriam Levitt to live up to. But what do you do when you meet your online best friend in person, but he doesn’t know it’s you? Wouldn’t you tell him? Sounds like a fun time! What an awesome meet-cute right? Nope! Kels doesn’t tell him, which sets up the plot for the entirety of the story. This story is mostly fluff, although it does deal with some intense family loss at times (although in a somewhat surface scratching way). All in all, I enjoyed this book a great deal.

I’d say the only part I didn’t love is that there was a side story in the book where an author was going online saying that her books should be enjoyed by everyone, and that she didn’t want to be pigeonholed by those saying she doesn’t write for teens. While the fictional author does say some pretty rough stuff toward teens, it felt as though Marisa was, at times, saying that these kinds of books really should only be towards teens. As a 30-something year old woman, I was a bit saddened by that.

Overall though, I did enjoy this book. Definitely enough to recommend it to people.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 416
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Edition Read: Kindle via Libby
  • Release Date: April 7, 2020
  • Read Date: October 2nd – October 4th

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.


Second up on my 4 day binge:

The Upside of Falling

Apparently showing off one’s abs trumped potential frostbite.

Alex Light

Definitely another cute one. It definitely was filled with some of the cliches of YA Romance, but I knew that going in. Wasn’t that why I was reading it. Plus, if you throw a fake dating to love trope at me, you know I’m going to inhale that (I’m looking at you To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before). This was also had a little more weight to it than your typical Romance. I really appreciated that the big hurdles the two POVs faced, were not typical high school drama (ie: the cheerleaders hate me, my girlfriend didn’t show up at prom). The issues they were facing were realistic demons that take time and space to work through. Plus, I really loved that we got to have both Becca and Brett’s POVs given equal time. I also appreciated the ending (no spoilers, I promise). It wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty little bow at the last second, it was a very satisfying ending.

My only con is that at some points the personalities of Becca and Brett seemed too similar. Since we were getting two POVs, I would have liked if their interior thoughts had felt more distinct. Overall, a book I’d recommend to anyone wanting a feel-good read!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 288
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Edition Read: Kindle via Libby
  • Release Date: February 18, 2020
  • Read Date: October 4th – October 6th

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

Book Reviews

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Bookish Life Lesson – Tweet Cute Edition: When reading a book that focuses on a Grilled Cheese themed Twitter war, make sure you have snacks on hand, so you don’t binge eat multiple Grilled Cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Tweet Cute Cover

It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.

Emma Lord

Every year, typically during the summer, I go on a YA RomCom kick. It’s a good palette cleanser from the typical YA/NA/Adult Fantasy binges that I go on for the rest of the year. This summer, however, it got delayed and I didn’t go in until the very tail end of September. First book up on the docket: Tweet Cute.

Tweet Cute was an adorable kick off for my month or two of RomComs. With a definite You’ve Got Mail vibe, I found myself sucked into the story easily. The two main characters Pepper and Jack engage in an all out Twitter war for their parent’s business. Pepper on behalf of the big chain Big League Burger, and Jack for his family’s small local deli Girl Cheesing. The bickering that Jack and Pepper do from the get go is great. They have such natural chemistry that you easily start to ship them from the get go. One aspect that I loved particularly, is the range of emotion that Jack presents. It’s so refreshing to see a male character cry and show emotion. Being a teenager is so raw at times, and often teen males aren’t shown having the full range of emotion, even in the privacy of their own rooms.

But every RomCom needs it’s friction, in this books case, it came from Jack’s father and Pepper’s mother. This was the only part of the story that didn’t mesh as well with me. While the explanation at the end totally wraps it up well, the build up for that area of the story felt a little over the top.

Overall, this book was a fun read, and I’m eagerly anticipating Emma Lord’s next book, You Have A Match, releasing in January 2021. I’d give this a solid 4/5 (maybe even a 4.5/5).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 362
  • Edition Read: Kindle via Libby
  • Release date: January 21, 2020
  • Read Date: September 30th – October 1st

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming―mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese―that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life―on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate―people on the internet are shipping them??―their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.