In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.
Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.
On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.
When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.
But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.
Title : Bookish and the Beast
Author : Ashley Poston
Series : Once Upon a Con (book three)
Format : paperback / eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Quirk Books
Release Date : August 4, 2020
Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★★★★ / ★ .5
Micky’s 4 star review
This was such a fab, reel-you-in story, full of books, libraries, jerks, nerds and most importantly…jerk redemption. I have to admit, I’ve missed out book two along the way, but I will put that right soon. However, I was still able to follow this interconnected standalone with ease. There was something about the love of books, in this book, that just spoke to my soul. This quote below and the whole section around it resonated with me completely.
I can recognise these books from anywhere – even ten, fifteen feet away. I know their spines. I know their titles. I know their thirty-year-old smell. I am at those books, my fingers running down their broken, well-loved spines…
The vibe of the two characters, Rosie and Vance were complicated, or maybe just rather simple hate. Rosie was a complete clumsy disaster whenever in the proximity of Vance. She repeatedly overstepped privacy boundaries in a cringeworthy way but it made for hilarious hiding-between-the-fingers reading.
She’s strangely intimidating, like a squirrel with a butcher’s knife.
Vance was a jerk, pure and simple. A rich kid, Hollywood royalty and a star in the movies this series is based on. Points in his favour were administered early on for Sansa the dog, but that was all he had to endear himself. Slowly over time, over their joint project, these two had some grudging connection. I loved how their story unfolded.
There was a bi-Dad storyline which I adored to the point that I wanted some more. Space Dad was so cool and his crush potential deserved its own story. The friendship circle around Rosie was sweet and loyal with a non-binary friend going for Homecoming Overlord.
Amongst the cute, were serious themes of grief and berevement. I found Rosie’s narrative, inner feelings and reluctancy to talk about her loss believable. Vance’s parent issues warranted a bit more depth, I think.
Out of the two I’ve read of this series, this is my favourite. It was a devourable read with cover details that I’m only just appreciating now. This book was everything I want and need from a contemporary YA with the added bonus of books as a context.
Thank you to Quirk books and JamiedoesPR for the finished copy to review.
Hollis’ 1.5 star review
Unfortunately, the latest installment in this fandom-and-nerdy-love-explosion just.. really missed the mark. The third book in the series, centering around the revival and cult-following of a tv-series-turned-movie-adaptation relies heavily on the previous fairytale-esque romances set in and around the fandom and conventions and, unfortunately, fails to live up to anything that came before. Added to the mix was an attempted Beauty and the Beast retelling that didn’t remotely land.
So what did work in this one’s favour? It’s diverse. Literally, that’s it.
I couldn’t get behind the lead characters or their blink and you miss it transition from strangers in reluctant proximity to star-crossed lovers who make out. I couldn’t get behind the random other-guy plot and all (and I mean all) the drama that ensued from that (also, hey, where those consequences at? how is this never ever addressed?). I tried to appreciate and respect the thread of grief woven through the story, our MC having lost her mother the year before, but for every time she says she never wants to talk about it, all she’s doing is thinking about it, or thinking she’s defined by it, when it seems no one actually looks at her as ‘the girl who lost her mother’. Only she does. Which I mean, fine, valid, but. It was confusing. The friend group was cute, I liked Rosie’s two buds, but overall this felt haphazard and messy and just slapped together.
This was a definite miss and though book one was just a like for me, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed book two, so that adds an extra layer of sad for this one which didn’t work at all.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **