Cover Image: Bookish and the Beast

Bookish and the Beast

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Member Reviews

Such a fun follow-up for this series! I really enjoyed the read, especially since Beauty and the Beast themes are my fave.
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***I received an uncorrected proof of this ebook from netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

⭐⭐⭐

I requested this arc not realizing is was book 3. Long story short, I binged them... so my opinions on this book are coming off the tail end of that.

This series is super cute!  (Serious Lauren Blakely/ Christina Lauren/ Penny Reid vibes, but for the YA sect.) It's formulaic and cheesy... but that's kind of the genre!  The Once Upon a Con series takes it a step further by inundating it with pop culture references.  While I love this, I could see it being overwhelming to a reader who isn't very well-versed in geek culture.

This book was a little bit less con-centric than the previous two novels in the series.  It doesn't take place AT the con, but references previous con happening. I really wanted to see the Beauty and the Beat re-telling kick it up a notch, but that didn't happen. I didn't really see Vance's behavior as "beastly" enough; I wanted a little bit more intensity there.  I'm thinking this series is continuing because there were a few small loose ends.  If that's the case, I'll be continuing reading along for the foreseeable future.
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Bookish and the Beast: Lost, Confused and Trying Too Hard

I'm not a fan of Beauty and the Beast; from it's weirdly pedestal-like place in our book and pop culture to the undeserved praise of Emma Watson's casting as Belle, it is the only Disney movie I will not rewatch. But, as a massive fan of Ashley Poston's Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl, I was willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt. I was sure she would make romance and fan-culture gold out of this over-marketed classic tale of animal brides and Stockholm syndrome.

However, Bookish and the Beast tried so hard to stay true to the Disney rendition and lost all sight of what made the Once Upon A Con series so charming and likeable. Instead, it missed weaving the individual plot with the overall series narrative cohesively and this installment ended up superficial and out of place.

Uninspired Plot and Snail Pacing

It started off with Vance (the "Beast") and Rosie (the "Belle") in a masquerade meet-cute at ExcelsiCon but felt more Romeo and Juliet than Beauty and the Beast. It did not elaborate on these scenes but we got the sense they're supposed to have fallen in love. But they did not know each other's real names nor did they exchange any contact information. Fast forward and we have Rosie, freaking out about her college essay and losing her late mother and Vance, exiled from Hollywood and acting like a spoiled brat about it; we'll get into characterisation in a bit. This seemed pretty promising but as all this happened within the first almost quarter of the book; the pacing was rather slow.

The plot finally began when Rosie comes across a German Shepherd (Vance's dog) she suspects is lost. She chases after it, comes across the local creepy castle-like house known to be abandoned and follows the dog inside, not knowing it is occupied. Inside the house, she finds a library (Beauty and the Beast cliche: check) filled with the entire Starfield collection of books which seems to number in the hundreds, considering it fills an entire mini-library. She picks up the rarest and most expensive book, coincidentally one her mother absolutely loved. She then is discovered and gets chased by a not-intruder (who is of course, Vance) and falls into a pool, all the while clutching said expensive book.

In order to pay for the damaged property, Rosie volunteers to catalogue and rearrange the entire library with Vance to help her, unaware the latter is her mystery ExcelsiCon man. And him not knowing that she's the only girl he's ever really opened up to. Naturally, they get off to a rough start: Vance is reluctant to have another person share his superstar space (say that three times quickly) because she might sell him out to the paparazzi and Rosie cannot understand why the actor playing the character she loves so much is such a prick. Throw into this mix a bunch of supportive best friends, one gay parental figure and one gay dad, a misogynistic creep who is supposed to play Gaston, some Hollywood hijinks and you'd end up with a story that set itself up for success but ultimately, failed to meet expectations.

Uninspired Characters

Which brings me to my next point, terrible plots can be saved with fantastic characters but these characters didn't fare much better. It is tough to rewrite Beauty and the Beast in a way that is new and refreshing but Vance and Rosie seem to be written to fulfill expectations of what Belle and the Beast are rather than breathing new life into well-known characters.

There is the strong-willed, book-smart Belle from the original Disney classic, there's Emma Watson's feminist but emotionally hollow rendition, there's the kind and caring Belle of Once Upon A Time. And then there's Rosie: naive, reckless and a little ditzy with little to no emotional depth. Within the first few pages, she has quit her job in a rage after being written up multiple times for misbehaviour: using her phone during work hours even when she's warned not to and filming a TikTok in the aisle of the store. And, this comes after multiple laments that the job was supposed to help her save up for college. She reads more like a historical romance character than a modern day woman with how easily she falls over Vance and she is very wishy-washy with her opinions and beliefs. The only time I really liked Rosie is when she stood up to Garret and his harassment of her. 

Vance, on the other hand is your archetypal, small-town bad boy villain redeemed by the love of his life. He's a spoiled brat shipped away to a sleepy nobody town after he pulls one too many bad-boy-of-Hollywood stunts. Yet, he spends the first few weeks in town complaining about having to fly coach, not being able to attend clubs or buy the latest designer sneakers. He is boring, uninspired and lazily written. There's nothing compelling about his character: he doesn't wash, he mopes around being a pain in everybody's ass and rude. He's a damn jerk but is he the Beast? Hardly.

In fact, all other characters seem lackadaisical; as if they had all the life sucked out of them. The only ones I truly liked were Vance's temporary guardian and Rosie's dad who were charming and fun. I particularly liked the take on Gaston, a misogynistic wannabe YouTuber who harasses Rosie and only wanted to take her to prom for pity points.

Lack of ExcelsiCon And Fandom

However, it's biggest flaw is the lack of ExcelsiCon and fan culture. Poston probably intended to break away from the convention floor and show a different fandom experience but this attempt felt half-hearted. Rosie is hardly a book collector even though the Starfield novels mean so much to her, she doesn't read anything other than Starfield apparently and she doesn't even talk about books! Which makes no sense why the biggest Starfield and fan culture link that Rosie and Vance had was the library which unfortunately, featured so little in the book. It tries to tie the Starfield novels to Rosie's connection with her mother but as we spent barely any time with the book, it felt like a cop-out. Clearly, it was just a way to include the Beauty and the Beast library and replicate scenes of Belle reading to the Beast. Vance even gifts the library to Rosie a la Beauty and the Beast but it felt cheesy and out of place! 

With little to no mention of fan or con culture, the book turns into just another retelling featuring a spoiled-brat actor and a rather ditzy fangirl. Remove ExcelsiCon and Starfield from the equation and replace it with another fandom and nothing would have changed significantly. There was a massive loss of wit, charm and realism that made the Once Upon A Con series so entertaining; after all, it was a massive ode to fan culture!

In previous books, we had plots revolving around the convention and Starfield, filled with quirky things people who attended conventions and participated passionately in fan culture could understand. In Geekerella, Ella's father was the ExcelsiCon founder, Darien was the actor to lead the revival of the Starfield movie franchise and there was a cosplay contest. In Princess and the Fangirl, Imogen runs a campaign to save Princess Amara, Jessica is Princess Amara and the plot revolved around a missing script and a reluctant actress. But here, Vance is the actor playing Sond and Rosie is just a Starfield fangirl who has a strong emotional connection to the fandom through her dearly departed mother.

Too Many Elements

At this point, if you are confused at having to keep up with all the elements, don't worry, so was I. The book is the poster child for cramming as many elements as possible into a few 300+ pages. Some elements seem to be plot points never explored and brought back only for convenience. It was exhausting keeping up with them. Below is a non-exhaustive (pun not intended) list with minor spoilers:

Rosie's college essay
Her mom and Starfield books
Sansa the dog
Vance loves to play video games; it's a character point
The two best friends, one is non-binary
Vance is best friends with Imogen from The Princess and the Fangirl
Homecoming
Gaston/Garrett
Vance's emotions and conflicts
Their Romeo&Juliet meetcute & romance
the ridiculous fight over a girl between Vance and Garrett (in Beauty and the Beast, the Gaston/Beast fight was because they believe he's a monster)
Vance crashing a school dance???
Vance doing the typical romcom run cause he's out of time
 her phone, her missing phone, does she not need a phone to live? We live in an electronically connected world!
enemies to lovers plot
gay dad, might fall in love
reading together in the library
Star Wars and Star Trek mentions
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell mention
Getting caught in the rain
mini Ella and Darien drama
Beauty and the Beast library

The book works so hard to keep the library a central element that it ends up being extremely cheesy and unrealistic. Poston could have chosen any form of library from fanfiction archives to music libraries or even a public library in order to retell the story instead of a personal library that didn't even belong to Vance. Even though Rosie is supposed to have a sentimental connection to the library, it didn't resonate on page because we barely see that connection developed. It works so hard to make Rosie and Vance fall in love and incorporate a million other elements that it lacks a sense of direction: where are the readers emotions supposed to be go? What are we supposed to fall in love and empathise with?

How does it compare as a retelling?

Halfway through the book, I only remembered I was reading a retelling. While I absolutely love a retelling that is so unique and original that you can hardly compare the source material to it, this one felt more as if Poston was trying to shove elements of Beauty and the Beast into the plot to make it fit her narrative rather than the other way around. 

With some many Beauty and the Beast retellings floating around, most of them fantasy, this was Poston's chance to tell a unique rendition and fit a dated classic into a modern world. While I appreciated how the book brought Gaston into the twenty-first century with a self-important YouTuber harrassing Rosie to go to the prom with him, there was not much else in terms of feeling fresh and interesting. Instead, it fell to cliches and cringey pop culture. The characters were not memorable or lovable and the plot felt like your run-of-the-mill teenage rom-com complete with Homecoming and a hero racing against the proverbial clock to confess his undying love. 

Not even being an enemies to lovers trope (which I love to death) could have saved this book and plot. 

Despite its many flaws, I was compelled to finish Bookish and the Beast because of my undying love for the Once Upon A Con series and the dedication to fan culture. There were also some rather lovely moments such as Rosie and her father's relationship, dust-filled and romantic library moments and diversity that made me smile but none of these could have saved it from its multiple flaws. But, with so much success from the first two books, I'm confident that Poston will bounce right back with a fourth retelling that will blow this one out of the water.
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I love this series and was so excited to read this next story. I didn't know how she was going to do a Beauty and the Beast retelling (I've read many bad retellings of this fairytale) in the format of this series. Thankfully, this story was wonderful and Poston outdid herself. Each book in this series keeps getting better and better. I don't want to spoil too much about the retelling aspect, but I'll say that it was smart, funny, and a version of this story I've never seen told this way before (in the best way). The characters were compelling, and like her other characters, ones I wanted to be friends with in real life. Of course, as a librarian, I instantly loved the library in this story and that her dad is a librarian! I hope Poston keeps writing more and more in this series.
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I was hoping for more from Bookish and the Beast but it was pretty predictable the whole way through the book. The meet cute in the beginning had promise but the rest of the book did not add anything more interesting than any other YA rom-com but had less rom and com. The author at the end stated that she wrote it for her self with all her favorite tropes and that’s great, but it just wasn’t a great retelling of Beauty and the Beast. So far the first in this series is still my favorite.

I was provided with an electronic ARC through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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A very sweet, easy-to-read and get into teen romance.  Although the main characters come from completely different worlds, the initial "meet-cute" and then follow-up scenario are presented in such a way as to be almost plausible!  Although some suspension of disbelief is definitely required.  Although I guess that this is a sequel to other titles written by the same author set in the same fandom (?) I was able to pick up the who, what, where, when pretty quickly and easily followed the world of Starfield.  I loved the allusion to the Beauty and the Beast tale, although the beast here was an alleged ugly personality and teen resentment, not a physical disfigurement.  It was obvious from the start what was going to happen with regards to the two main characters, all the way down to the final chapters and the mad rush to prom to declare their love.  However, it was an enjoyable if forgettable and predictable read.
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Oof. I know in her author's note Ashley Piston says she wrote this for herself and it's all the tropes she loves so I feel bad saying it wasn't good but this was really just so far off the mark for me. None of the characters feel particularly deep or three dimensional, not even the leads, and as a result the romantic chemistry between Vance and Rosie really suffers. Having both of them be the two narrative POVs is not a substitution for actual character development and good dialogue on the page. On top of that, it's a bit hard to see the story forest for the fandom reference trees - the prose is dripping with geeky and internet culture references even more so than the other two books in the series, and that's gonna age this one fast. I can tell what the author was trying to go for with her modern updates to the fairy tale but it never came together for me. Two stars for the Beauty and the Beast references that did land and for Space Dad, the only actually interesting character in the book.
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Great modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It hits the nail on the head for previous modern retellings and more negative/abusive behavior. Big fan of Poston's Con series- Geekerella is still top dog but this was a fun addition and will be a great addition to the collection.
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If you're looking for a light-hearted teenage romance fairy tale story, look no further. Vance Reigns is an insufferable English actor who finds himself exiled from Hollywood for the Summer due to his wild behavior. Rosie Thorne is a an average senior high school struggling to come to terms with the loss of her mom and figuring out how to navigate her final year in high school. Their chance meeting and developing relationship was a very fun read reminiscent of all of the typical high school drama. However, we also get a good taste of how teenagers go thru the transition from adult to child and the innocence surrounding first love.  I was given an early copy in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. 3 out of 5 stars!
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I loved Geekerella, I didn't get on with The Princess and the Fangirl. I am thrilled to report that this is back on track and another slice of Ashley Poston genius! A true slice of light hearted romance, perfect for Summer!
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I really enjoyed this cute lil book! It was light-hearted, nerdy and adorable! I really loved the main characters and all the side characters. The relationship was SUPER CUTE and it just really cheered me up. 

I haven't read the other two books in the once upon a con series and I found this book easy enough to read as a standalone. It's definitely made me want to go back and read the other two though because this one was a lot of fun. 

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a light-hearted romance filled with loveable characters. I loved it
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This YA book is delightful... all of my favorite tropes and based on Beauty and the Beast?! Yes!!! This is the third book in Poston's Once Upon A Con series of books (which can be read alone but revisit old characters) and it was my favorite of all so far! I loved Rosie and Vance's story and I cannot wait to read what she writes next. Thank you netgalley for this arc in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Bookish & the Beast was a very fun and enjoyable installment in the Once Upon a Con series, that to me sadly couldn't live up to its predecessors.

I truly loved both Geekerella and The Princess & the Fangirl a lot and feel very invested in the Starfield world and storyline. I think where this book mostly fell flat for me was the element of fandom and especially spending time at a convention that I love so much about the other two books.
While this definitely tried a little bit of a new take on bringing the Starfield universe into this series, by talking about the book series and partly taking place in a library with special Collector's Editions, it just didn't give me enough of an emotional connection to the Starfield universe itself that I became so very attached to. I immensely enjoyed some of the snippets that we would get at the beginning of chapters but sadly there were only so few of them.

While I enjoyed the characters, the one character that stood out the most to me was probably the female main character's dad. I just found none of the characters to be very interesting or compelling. I didn't dislike reading from their perspective or about them but I felt like they just weren't all that exciting to read about either.
And again, Poston definitely tried to offer us a different take to the books before too, by introducing Vance, who is an actor for the Starfield series but currently taking a break from Hollywood. And while his character and journey was very different than anything we had seen before in this series, I just can't say I found his journey to be very believable OR captivating. I just simply didn't care. And the same goes for the female main character too. I feel like she put such emphasis on not just being “the girl with the dead mom” that she did end up being exactly that because I can't point out many traits about her.
Again, none of these characters were unlikeable or not pleasant to read about, I just found them almost replaceable.
As for representation, both main characters read as queer (stating multiple gender attraction) but they don't ever use labels. There is a non-binary side character that uses they/them pronouns and queer (one who is definitely bi) side characters. It seems like there is a Latinx side character too.. but that was never explicitly stated.

Just as the characters didn't really stand out to me, the romance very much did not either and this was another really disappointing aspect for me with how much I squealed for the previous romances. Not only did I not really think the hate-to-love trope was well done but I also just found their entire development not very convincing just because I feel like we got too little of it. I barely felt chemistry, barely felt like they truly got to know about each other. We know they spend a lot of time with each other but I feel like we just didn't really get to see that at all. Where was this entire process? There just wasn't enough there for me personally.

When it comes to the retelling element of Beauty & the Beast, you could definitely see the elements but they didn't stand out immensely. Some people might enjoy that, others not so much. As someone who is not a big fan of Beauty & the Beast I can't say if that maybe affected my enjoyment of this story too? I normally never pick up retellings of the story cause I am just not interested in them or the original story but for me this was different, as I already felt invested in this universe.
At the end of the day I just don't really think it worked all that well as the basis for a fluffy Contemporary story like this. But I also know that this was really the project of Poston's heart and that does make me happy to know.

So all in all, while I enjoyed reading another installment in this series, it also just didn't have the same magic as the other two for me personally. Nothing about this book set it apart from any other YA Contemporary, sadly, and that was a very different experience for me with the first two books. If you're a fan of the series, it's a fun reading experience, especially with other character's cameos too, but it is really not a must-read at all.
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2.5 Stars
While I think this series may be losing its steam, especially compared to the success of the preceding novels. - fans of "Geekerella" and "The Princess and the Fangirl" can still enjoy being reunited with some of their favorite characters.
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Thank you so much for the advanced copy of Bookish and The Beast!  I thoroughly enjoyed it; word by word.  I love how Rosie looks up to Amara in so many ways, making my favourite line of the book "Amara up, Rosebud."  I also love how Rosie has a strong connection with her deceased mother through the love of the Starship series; it is nice to read about a powerful mother-daughter connection.  Also, a romance between a hated actor and an ordinary girl is a story uncalled for.  It makes the story one of a kind, because I have never witnessed a romance like this before.  Written very passionately, and I will definitely recommend this to all my bookworms.
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I have a difficult relationship with retellings.

Usually, I love them. If there is a book about a mythological retelling I am getting my hands on it, and I always fall head over heels in love, but when the retellings focus of fairytales that’s when my love for them diminish. And Beauty and the Beast is one retelling I have many issues with. 

For one, it’s so well known and so well loved that any deviation from the source material can dramatically change the story. Beauty and the Beast is perfect as it is. You can’t top it. You can try, but it will be a mammoth task, but nothing will live up to it.

However, again, it just didn’t work with Bookish and the Beast, either.

Ashley Poston has written two other fairytale retellings, which I haven’t read, but are very well loved, and this is the third in the collection. They are modern retellings, with teen characters. I can see why people would like them. They’re short, fluffy little reads you don’t take too seriously. I’m a little older than the target audience, but I do enjoy YA fiction.

If I had to describe this book, it would have to be distracting.

It’s distracted by the Beauty and the Beast plot points it has to meet, but worse of all I was distracted by the pop culture references.

So. Many. Pop. Culture. References.

I couldn’t get past a sentence or two that didn’t mention Star Wars, or Star Trek, or any other pop culture things — it even mentioned Tom Holland’s lip sync challenge. The book seemed to focus more referencing things teens might recognise, then writing an interesting story. The romance wasn’t compelling, neither were the characters themselves, and this is when I feel like the fact it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling saves it from being forgettable. I’ve already forgotten most of the plot already.

Also, I’m not a fan of pop culture references in YA in general. It feels like a lazy shorthand to connect with teenagers, which feels very hollow, but they age very quickly. If someone read this in two years time some of the references are going to go straight over their heads and spend more time wondering what the reference is even referring to.

In the end, I didn’t enjoy this. If you’re looking for an easy but shallow read, then this is for you, but if you can’t stand an over abundance of pop culture then avoid this one.
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I was mostly bored in this book. I didn't really get attached to the character and not as much as her last 2 books. I felt like there is nothing that meet my exceptation. I was about to DNF the book but I keep continuing and even if I'm a trash for beauty and the beast retelling this one wasn't for me.

Thank you again for the chance that I got to read the book before the publishing date.
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It's a twist on Beauty and the Beast but set in the author's traditional geeky realm of high school, cosplay, and cons. The back and forth perspectives do make it a bit difficult to invest in each character's journey because it bounces between the two so suddenly, at the end of each short chapter. That being said, it is a very very very cute and predictable YA romance, and it was absolutely adorable. It reads very quickly, and was a cute, fast read.
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An adorable third entry with several of my favorite things, plus small updates to previous protagonists of the series. I'm a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast retelling, and this one hit all the right notes and continued the series beautifully.
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This book is adorable! Given, Beauty and the Beast is already one of my favorite fairy tales so I'm predisposed to like retellings of it - but in the Once Upon the Con series, this is definitely one of my favorites!

Overall, this is a cute, fun read. It has some shortcomings - Rosie isn't very distinct as a main character, and other characters' actions and reactions often seem to come out of nowhere or to be incredibly melodramatic. There are some strange plotholes surrounding Rosie's phone (it goes missing, it reappears, it goes missing again) and some other plot devices that are thrown in for one scene and then magically resolve with no comment, and I would have liked a bit more character development for not only Rosie but also her friends and family. Other than that, it's a nerdy and sweet retelling that actually works, which is hard to do with contemporary Beauty and the Beast stories.
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