Geekerella, by Ashley Poston

A girl in a blue dress standing beside an orange Magic Pumpkin food truck

Geekerella, written by Ashley Poston, was a cute contemporary read I never expected to like. In fact, I’d even say I loved this book and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Generally, I tend to read more dramatic and intense fantasy books, so when I picked up this novel it came as a pleasant surprise. Geekerella is about a girl named Danielle Wittimer, also known as Elle, who loves a show she holds close to her heart called Starfield and the new reboot starring teen actor and heartthrob Darien Freeman. This book features points of view from both Darien and Elle, switching each chapter. The book is also a twist on the fairy tale Cinderella, with cute similarities found throughout. For instance, instead of a prince, there’s a celebrity, and Elle works at a food truck called the Magic Pumpkin, which are a few examples among many.

The character Elle is a relatable 17-year-old with an unfortunate string of bad luck that has followed her since her dad’s death. Elle is relatable to me because of her love and dedication to her fandom, which I can relate to with many books and movies. The other character Darien is less relatable because he is famous, but his feelings are genuine and believable which make him a well-liked character. Elle’s stepsisters Chloe and Calliope (Cal), are extremely bratty throughout the book, although one of them does show some unexpected development hinted at slightly towards the first half of the book. Elle develops an unlikely friendship with Sage, her coworker. Sage is a nice character who gives Elle the support she needs while she goes through the hurdles to get to Excelsicon for a cosplay contest.

The two main characters, Elle and Darien, meet through a wrong number text, and their relationship grows through their love for Starfield. The path to their encounter is cute and paced well, with enough time for feelings to grow between the pair. I do feel like them saying that they were in love (not to each other but to friends, before they had met) seemed quite soon and not as believable because they didn’t even know what each other looked like or anything other than their obsession with Starfield. That would be my only critique.

Poston does a good job of including a mix of races and sexualities despite only having a few characters. Darien is British-Indian and Sage (Elle’s coworker and later friend), is a lesbian, along with someone else I won’t mention because I don’t want to spoil too much. A lot of other books I’ve read with a lot more characters either have the same amount of diversity or less, which is unimpressive.

I started this 320-page book one night and finished it the next day. It’s a fast-paced read with an excellent storyline that keeps the reader intrigued. The writing style is great and the references to other famous movies and/or books make the read especially relatable despite Starfield not being a real show. The detail Poston put into the Starfield show and its intricacies make the book much better because the more references and knowledge the characters use the more understandable the obsession is.

Overall, I would rate Geekerella a 10/10 because of the fantastic one-liners, relatable/believable characters, and representation of nerd culture.

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I Am Still Alive – Review

 

Lost in the wilderness of Canada, alone, and injured, will Jess be able to survive?

Sixteen-year-old Jess hasn’t seen her father in ten years. She’s just been through a tragic car accident that killed her mother and left Jess with months of physical therapy and a permanent disability, and all she wants is to make it through the next two years and graduate from high school. When she hears that she’ll have to move to the wilderness and live with her father for those years, her only goal becomes escaping or convincing him to let her leave.

Her dad lives in the remote wilderness of Canada, above Alaska—so removed from civilization that Jess is the only passenger on the tiny plane she takes to get there. She begrudgingly starts to rebuild a relationship with her survivalist father, but soon after she arrives some “friends” from his past show up and wreak havoc. Lost, alone, and separated from everyone and everything she’s ever known, Jess—along with her one ally, her father’s dog Bo—must fight to survive the winter.

I Am Still Alive alternates between “Before” and “After” sections, which ramp up the suspense and dole out backstory slowly enough to keep readers intrigued. Jess is a relatable heroine, terrified and with almost no experiences in the outdoors besides the few weeks of lessons her dad was able to give her. It’s incredibly satisfying to see her struggle, fight, and hold her own (sometimes!) against the elements and the cruel winter weather. Even simple things, like finding firewood or something to eat, become life-or-death scenarios, and her experiences definitely put our relatively comfortable lives into perspective!

This novel is an action-packed wilderness survival story, with an added element of family struggles and adjusting to life with a disability. I would highly recommend it for older YA readers, due to its serious themes and intense subject matter.

Masterminds: A Book Review

Five teenagers with bikes beneath a helicopter with a search light

Living in a perfect city may sound like a blessing, right? Or is it a curse? Eli Frieden is a current resident of Serenity, New Mexico, where the mere idea of crime and poverty, and the thought of unemployment are oblivious to human-kind. Here in Serenity, there is no concept of stranger-danger, or danger at all. Here in Serenity, everything is okay, and everything is alright. But deep down inside, is the city as wonderful as it appears?

Eli Frieden lives in this so-called “perfect city” and seems to be living a normal life. However, upon biking to the city limits for the first time with his friend, Randy Hardaway, he experiences unimaginable pain. The next day, Randy makes a spontaneous trip to his grandparents, although Eli suspects this is not the whole story. He sets out to discover the genuine truth about this desert utopia. At a cost of knowing about the city, he also learns the truth about the 184 other residents, and even himself. Meanwhile, many of his friends notice strange behaviors from many adults, and start to lose trust in the people he, and the rest of the town, live with.

Masterminds, altogether, is a phenomenal title that definitely deserves praise for its riveting plot twists and relatable characters. Along with that, this realistic fiction is a Maryland Black- Eyed Susan nominee. This book has a breathtaking storyline, and leaves mysteries lying in every corner. Chapter by chapter, this story starts to unfold, and one by one the pieces connect into a grand idea, that the reader has yet to discover. I would highly recommend this book to teens, and anyone  who enjoys thrillers and unforeseen conclusions. For these reasons, I would rate this book a 9/10. Masterminds holds a special place in my top favorites, and hopefully will do the same for you too!

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The Truth About Us book cover - a teen girl and teen boy embracing in front of a brick wall

Seventeen year old Jess has dealt with more problems than most teenagers her age. After a tragic incident in the past, her family can never be the same again. Her life becomes a ball of confusion and anger that only ends in her sabotaging her only true friendship with her best friend, Penny. After Penny and Jess stop communicating with each other, Jess gets involved with the wrong crowd, leading her to get into trouble with her father and being sent to help out at the Local Soup Kitchen for the whole remainder of the summer as punishment.

When Jess goes to the Local Soup Kitchen for the first time, she ends up seeing Flynn, a poor boy who eats there with his family and also helps out when he can. Whenever Jess sees him, her heart flutters. Soon, Jess feels like Flynn is the only person that understands her. They end up wanting to be together but since Flynn and Jess live different lifestyles, both families disapprove. Sometimes opposites attract – but can this relationship withstand the pressures against it?

I would recommend this book to mature readers. If you are up for a good romance story that will make you cry at times but also make your heart skip a beat, this is for you!

The Darkest Part of the Forest (Book Review)

In a clearing, in the forest lays a glass coffin with a beautiful creature inside. On and on this person sleeps, never waking no matter what anyone does.

Think you know this story, huh? Think again.

The coffin contains a boy with horns and pointed ears. The things that haven’t awakened him include kisses from local teenagers, hard blows to the coffin with a sledgehammer, and loud, raucous parties with girls dancing on top to tunes blaring out of their iPods.

Welcome to Fairfold, a town where the lines between what we’d call fantasy and reality are blurred. A town where the Folk, as fairies are called, fill the forest and occasionally play nasty tricks on the human residents and visitors. Where sometimes the fairies will fulfill a wish or a blessing, but always with dire consequences.

Enter Hazel and Ben, brother and sister who have spent their whole lives in Fairfold. They know how to run the forest paths, know every inch of the stream and hills, know all the stories and secrets of their hometown.

These two have a few secrets of their own. Years ago, after Ben had been blessed by a fairy woman and could play music that enchanted humans and Folk alike, the pair decided to become monster hunters to protect tourists and townsfolk from the creatures that crawled the woods. Hazel longed to become a knight and would become one, in a way, when she pledged seven years of her life to the fairy king in exchange for a music scholarship for her brother.

Now the coffin has broken, and the boy is gone. Hazel is losing track of time, and when she wakes in the mornings, she her body is bruised and battered, her clothes and feet covered with mud. Acorns with secret messages fill her pockets, and her beloved sword is missing.

What is going on? Who freed the fairy boy, and what will this mean for the town of Fairfold?

For the answers to those questions and more, read The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

Roar: Book Review

Cover of the book Roar by Cora Carmack

Review By Alyssa7128

“Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.”

Princess Aurora Pavan comes from one of the most ancient Stormling families in the world. As an heir to the throne, Aurora’s been groomed and pampered, more than you can ever imagined, to be the perfect queen. Thousands of years ago, her family was pledged service and devotion, in exchange for safety from the sky. The kingdom was practically made out of magic, and was capable of repelling the world’s deadliest enemies. To the people of the kingdom, Aurora sounds like she wold be the most intelligent and brave queen ever imaginable. But she shows no trace of magic she’ll need to protect the kingdom.

Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and menacing Stormling Prince from a nearby kingdom, to keep her secret safe and save her crown. He seems like the solution she’s been waiting for, as he’ll guarantee the protection of her people, and a spot as the next queen. But the more she finds out about him the more she want to hide under her bed and never come out.  When she sneaks out of the castle to spy on the Prince, she stumbles upon a black market she’s never seen before, and they’re selling what she lacks: storm magic. What scares her the most is the people selling it. They’re not Stormlings, in fact they’re storm hunters.

According to the many books Aurora read, her ancestors faced a storm and tore out its heart, to first gain magic. But when a handsome storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but instead possesses it, Aurora realizes there might me a third option for her future besides destruction and marriage.

She doesn’t have magic now, but if she’s brave enough, she could steal it.

I loved this book. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It’s 380 pages long, with small print. It was a longer read, at least for me. I would recommend this book for ages 12 – 16. This book was so good and I would rate it a solid 10/10!!!!!!

-Alyssa7128 7th Grade

The Year of the Hangman Review

Cover of the book The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

Review by shipperprincess52

Stars- 2/5
Summary- In 1776, the rebellion of the American colonies against British rule was crushed.  Now, in 1777—the year of the hangman—George Washington is awaiting execution, Benjamin Franklin’s banned rebel newspaper, Liberty Tree, has gone underground, and young ne’er-do-well Creighton Brown, a fifteen-year-old Brit, has just arrived in the colonies.  Having been shipped off against his will with nothing but a distance for English authorities, Creighton befriends Franklin, and lands a job with his print shop.  But the English general expects the spoiled yet loyal Creighton to spy on Franklin.  As battles unfold and falsehoods are exposed, Creighton must decide where his loyalties lie…a choice that could determine the fate of a nation. (Goodreads. Been a while since I read this book and I didn’t like it so I didn’t want to write my own summary for this one.)

Thoughts- I didn’t like it. The characters weren’t interesting and there wasn’t really any action. Creighton was annoying and bratty, he didn’t know how to do anything on his own and that made him extremely unlikable. The whole thing was twisted and boring. It was practically a Revolutionary War AU Fanfiction. It’s the complete opposite of the real war. I really couldn’t stand any of the characters and the plot bored me to tears. (I won’t say anything about the plot just incase I spoil anything.)

Read it at your own risk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Age- 12+