Cover Image: Be Dazzled

Be Dazzled

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Member Reviews

The world of cosplay can be cut-throat, diabolical...and covered in flat backed rhinestones. Just ask Raffy, our complex main character. Raffy throws himself into cosplay almost as a way to escape from his own artist mother, Evie. The difficulties of their relationship come out in ten fold throughout the novel, with Raffy having to hide his artwork because he knows that Evie (his mother) will never approve. Actually, he knows she wouldn't approve, which is shown during one scene on Christmas night. While others understand the work and craftsmanship that goes into creating characters for cosplay, all Evie will think of it is that it is arts and crafts...it's a boring hobby, and not one that a son of hers should be doing. Yet, Raffy does create...and does it well. He has his own following online with videos of his creations, and he even catches the eye of a boy from school, who falls for both Raffy and the world of cosplay. Yet when Raffy's perfectly crafted world starts to crumble, and the boy is gone, now an enemy; Raffy has to work even harder to prove to himself, his friends, and maybe even his mother, that he is capable of being an artist and being perfect...because isn't that what he wants??

La Sala's does a great job of weaving the storyline to show the reader the "then and the now". It doesn't feel clunky or disjointed, but rather gives the reader a window to see what happened to lead up to the present moment. La Sala presents the reader with characters that help drive the storyline across, and give strength to the plot itself. Each person has a reason that they are brought into the story, each relationship Raffy has with his friends is important and well thought out. This novel is crafted with care, love, and a little hot glue.
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Wow, I’ve never read a book about cosplay before and I loved it!
Raffy is super anxious about his mother finding out about his hobby, who’s a famous artist owning a successful art gallery. And also thinks that people doing art and crafting for „fun“ are laughable and not making „real“ art.
His mother’s comments and hints make Raffy super self conscious about his creations and turn him into a perfectionist...while making him forget about the fun of creating something.
I loved Raffy, he is super relatable with all his worries, always spiralling into fantasys about the worst outcomes. I do that too and I felt so much sympathy for this boy.
I also really liked Luca, he seemed like a genuine good and nice guy.

I loved the plot with the convention and the contest! It was super interesting and fun to read about it.
I also really liked the alternating chapters between the convention and the time back when Raffy and Luca were still together.

Somehow it was a little weird for me to read about the „big thing“ that broke them up right in the end of the book when they were actually starting to get closer again in the present time and for everything that happened between them, Raffy seemed to forgive everything a little too easily for me personally. 
I wouldn’t have minded for the book to be a few pages longer and for them to actually have more talking time in the convention scenes to sort out everything a little more.

All in all it’s a YA romance and it was really sweet and cute, so I still really liked this book!

I also liked that in the end nothing was magically solved between Raffy and his mother, it was more like a little step in the right direction rather then a whole 180 in a second and I think that it was super realistic this way.
The ending in general was super realistic and yay for character development!!!

Definitely recommend reading it, especially for the really cool cosplay theme!!!
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3/5🌟: honestly, i was so excited for this one and the story was cute, but it was nothing new. the relationship was mediocre, at least there was some bi rep. the cosplay contest plot line has been popular for a while and thus was quite predictable. but if you're interested in cosplay and how costumes are made, you might enjoy this one more than i did. the thing that bothered me the most was that there were 4 characters, other than raffy and luca, who were of importance: while all of them were female, 3 out of 4 were portrayed as evil (to some kind of degree). this seriously ruined the book for me. of course, the two cis boys were (almost) flawless, but the female characters had to be the ones ruining their lives. what year is this, 1960? ugh. i feel like a lot writers don't even try to write good female characters, like yes, it was great that the mc was wearing makeup without it being considered weird and for one tiny scene there even was a trans woman included, but why would you ruin all of that by writing shitty cis female characters? when their only character trait is to be mean towards the mc, you know there's something wrong with the female rep. i honestly expected more from this.. the writing style was nice though.

thank you netgalley for the digital arc!
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Only now I am seeing a new truth: that sometimes the broken bits are just the pieces you need to create something new, something better, something remarkable.

This book was such an unexpected delight! I didn't expect the story to focus so heavily on the creation of Cosplay outfits, but it and the clever way it is used to help Raffy express his feelings were just beautiful to read. I loved following his journey, how he realized where he went wrong in the past and how to fix it.

The kiss ends like all my projects: amazing and whole, the fragments of many moments joined together to create something entirely alive and real. Something incredible, out of nothing.

I really loved how effortlessly the author weaves the past and present together to tell the story of Raffy and Luca! Going back and forth between present and past sometimes makes it hard for me to follow the story, but as each piece of the past was revealed, it helped me understand the present better. I am really impressed by this author's storytelling!

This is a wonderful story about second chances, realizing where your priorities lie, and fighting for what's important, and I loved every second of it!

The only tiny little complaint I have is that I felt it ended a bit abruptly. It makes sense and is a good ending for Raffy's journey, but I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet, and I would have loved to have an epilogue.
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This book was a delight! Full of anime/manga/videogames references, cosplays and so much sewing; it has relatable characters who are young, fun, flawed, and just genuine. I liked Raffy so much, he is a ball of anxiety and thinks he's never doing enough. Well, with a mother like his, I understand him completely. I knew there was something more about Raffy and Luca's break up so I couldn't hate Luca. I actually liked him from the beginning, and his story was actually sad and my heart just broke. But, besides the chapter of the break up (which hurt a lot), all the other chapters were sweet with the interactions between the characters. Raffy and Luca were really adorable in both the flashback chapters and the now chapters, and I loved seeing how they were together, both the good and the bad.

Told in alternate chapters of past and future, we are immerse in a bedazzling cosplay world and I loved everything about it. I got almost all the references and I laughed out loud more than once. I had to stop a couple times because I was actually laughing too much! It was hilarious.

Highly recommended. I can't wait to listen to the audiobook and have the book in my hands!
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*I received this eARC from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in return for an honest review. 
TW (trigger warnings): homophobia

"Be Dazzled" by Ryan La Sala is a heady mix of artistry, first love, cosplay conventions, unsupportive parents and finding out who you really are, all wrapped in a YA queer novel.  (4 stars)

Description from the publisher: 
Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making--for creation. He's always chosen his art over everything--and everyone--else and is determined to make his mark at this year's biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There's only one small problem... Raffy's ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition. 

I really liked this book. The first couple chapters were kind of meh for me but after that I got sucked in. The main character, Raffy, is a well-rounded character that I totally fell in love with. I'm not a cosplay fan or even very arts and crafty but the details about Raffy's creations and how he made them was amazing. Luca I liked a bit less, just because of how Raffy feels betrayed by him, but he was also a complete, realistic character you cheered for. The parents in this book were not well-liked and didn't understand their kids at all. This trope seems to be very popular in YA novels but La Sala did it well, wrapping things up well at the end. The highs and lows were great with lots of teen drama and backstabbing which is a thumbs up from me.
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7/10 | 3,5/5
This book was so much fun! Although it didn't reach all my expectations, it is still a relaxing reading experience with an important message about fighting for your dreams and to be with the right people next to you to achieve that.

The Up's: the narrative in two timelines (the 'Now' and 'Then') is a great tool used by the author, so it built 'the rise and fall' of Raffy and Luca's past relationship without using infodumping, also creating some charisma for the two protagonists (specially, for me, in Luca). I also enjoyed the family approach on the book's plot in both protagonists, which were very real and relatable (in Luca's case). Raffy's family drama was a bit hard for me to buy at first, but along the book the author could work really well in this aspect.

The Down's: not gonna lie, but I feel that Raffy is such an annoying protagonist, and the first-person narrative just made that statement stronger, making my reading experience difficult at the point that the book didn't attracted my attention anymore sometimes. Also, some resolutions for the problems created in the book were solved quickly, in a simple way or just in such a convenient way due to the situation in question.
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Ryan La Sala does it again! And by "it" I clearly mean build a world of growing, exploration, self-discovery, and glitter. 

Raffy, serious cosplay crafter and eternal disappointment to an artiste mother, seeks solace in a world of crafting and fabrics with friends May and Inaya. When Luca enters the chat everything changes. Luca is an adorably sporty closeted bisexual boy who falls for Raffy but the two aren't quite meant to be (or are they?) in "Be Dazzled." Their story is told in alternating storylines, not between the two of them, but in before and after their eventual break up. Forcibly reunited at the most important moment of Raffy's cosplay career, the two team up after a series of mishaps and betrayals.

Admirably, one of the best aspects of La Sala's work is that it is not entirely a coming out story. Such queer stories are absolutely important but they are not the only queer story to tell. Raffy is out as gay though its not a conversation piece for him and his mother and Luca is bi but not fully ready to let the world know.  Mostly this is a story of two people learning about themselves through their connection to one another. A perfect addition to any library.
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Seeing this described as "Project Runway goes to Comic-Con" was the perfect hook for me.  As a casual cosplayer and cosplay enthusiast, mourning for the lost cons of 2020, getting to read this novel was just so much fun.  This book was campy, crafty, and full of the best kind of drama (the kind with a happy ending.  Within the pages of this novel, you'll find yards of fabric, piles of glitter, ribbons, and sequins!  And of course, cosplay, drama, romance, and kissing. Raffy, our anxious crafting genius, is SO stressed, and SO determined to do well at this year's cosplay competition.  Nothing is going to stand in his way.  Of course, who should show up but his one-time maybe boyfriend Luca, dressed in his own cosplay with a new crafting partner.  Cue the drama as Raffy and Luca are pushed to work together and everything will come down to one amazing weekend.  

I enjoyed this book SO much.  The cosplay, the drama, the romance, the kissing - all delightful.  I will admit, there were moments that I was super stressed and I do think that if you are an anxious reader this might be a challenge.  However, the tension and anxiety do serve a larger purpose and help us better get inside Raffy's hed.  I also really enjoyed the way the novel was structured, with alternating chapters past and present.  It gave the story great pacing, and allowed for the slow build of Luca and Raffy's romance to really hit.  The fact that this novel comes out on January 1st means that this is the perfect book to ring in the new year.  So pop some bubbly, grab some sequins, and enjoy the show!
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This book blew me away with its beating heart. The pages bled with the author's love and respect for crafting, crafters, and pop culture. I feel like I learned so much about the intricacies of crafting and the hours of work that people put into their projects. On top of that, there's gay romance! The main conflict is between two ex-boyfriends who compete against each other in a cosplay contest at a comic con. There is SO MUCH drama. (That probably contributes to just how queer this book feels XD) The chapters go back and forth in the time line, so the story of how the relationship between these two fell apart is slowly unfolded.
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✨BE  DAZZLED✨

You have no idea how happy I was when I was approved to read this. I have been dreaming of reading this book and heck did my fanatics come true. This book is a calling to all dweebs, nerds and artists with dreams. To those who feel neglected by their peers and loved ones. To those who are confident in their things they do and love, and will not stop to prove themselves. THIS was absolutely spectacular and I was in tears from the pure joy it gave me. It was wholesome, downright adorable, and absolutely exactly what i wanted.

I loved Raffy, with his love for crafts and cataclysmic creativity, and how he was utterly prepared to prove to his snobby mother, to knock her hideous socks off with his talent, and yet she always found a way to criticize him for his unique art . I hated her from the first page.

I could relate so much with Raff, especially with his anxiety and constant need to be working at all times, as if he would fall apart if he wasn't doing something productive, and hell did that resonate with me on a whole other level.

To be honest, i sometimes felt conflicted over the dynamic of the relationship in the book, even though it was ADORABLE, but i could understand why Luc, the love interest, was so hesitant at times. I really came to adore him as the chapters progressed and as I got a better insight on his character, his relentless enthusiasm, his insecurities and fears. They were absolutely perfect for each other, two complete opposite balancing each other. 

I really appreciated the whole cosplay aspect to the book and how much it meant to so many people, much like our bookish community, a place where you felt understood, a place where you belonged, instead of being ridiculed for your obsessions. 

I urge everyone to read it and i hope you come to love it as much as i did. This was wholesome, downright adorable, and absolutely exactly what i wanted.

[E-GALLEY RECEIVED FROM NETGALLEY AND PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE OF AN HONEST REVIEW]
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This novel is perfect for fans of queer romance, and just wrap my heart in a warm hug. I recommend it 100%, a romance where two world collide and just explode in a big big big heartwarming something.
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Rating: 4.5 Stars 

Raffy is a nerd, a cosplayer, a streamer, and a disappointment to his mother. Because she enjoys some fame in the art world, Raffy's mother looks down at his "crafting", and therefore, he must do it in secret. Still, he is ready to meet his moment of truth at Controverse, where he hopes to be crowned the cosplay champion, but will his plan go off the rails when he is reunited for the first time with the boy who broke his heart. 

People! This book was so good! It was funny, sweet, and adorable, while also being jam packed with cosplay goodness. I loved the way La Sala wove the design and competition aspects into this story of first love. Alternating between Then and Now allowed me to watch Raffy and Luca's relationship begin, grow, and end in-between their unexpected face-off at the con. 

Five things I adored about Be Dazzled:

1. It was fantastic being immersed in this world. I used to watch Heroes of Cosplay and found all the brainstorming, construction, and competition aspects of cosplay captivating. La Sala did such an incredible job pulling me into it all. I swear! I could see the sparkle of those bedazzled pieces. The love La Sala has for this world came through crystal clear, and his enthusiasm was contagious. 

2. Raffy was hilarious! I laughed so much as I read this book. Raffy's observations, his over the top mother, the banter with is friends was very amusing, and I was glad to be a by-stander to it all. 

3. Raffy and Luca were so flipping cute together. There was a time, in the beginning of the story, where I had my doubts about Luca, but then I got to know him, and I could understand what Raffy loved. I also understood him a bit better and recognized all the pressure he was under. He was in a difficult situation, but I think he eventually rose to the occasion. 

4. Friendship was important to Raffy, and I was glad it worked its way into the story. It's subtle but an important part of Raffy's growth.  

5. I was happy to see some people finally showed up. I found myself disappointed in characters, left and right, but in the end, they came through. There was even one scene, about 83% of the way through, that had me simultaneously cheering and crying, because I was just so happy. 

This book was a romance wrapped in friendship and nerdy goodness, that stole my heart and left me smiling from ear to ear.
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“Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.”

Oh my god I absolutely loved this book! I love comic cons and whilst I am not a cosplayer, I definitely appreciate the time, thought and effort it takes to produce their costumes not to mention then having to walk around a hot exhibition centre with them on all day! 

This book follows Raffy, who has a passion for cosplay. He builds costumes for every Comic Con he attends but he mother is a ‘serious’ artist and gallery manager and doesn’t approve of his “hobby” so he has to do it in secret. He streams his creating process on a streaming platform called Ion and one day receives the gems he needs from an anonymous source. And thus his relationship with Luca develops… 
Luca’s family do not accept his sexuality or the fact that he likes geeky things like anime, video games and now cosplay and suddenly Raffy is on his own again, preparing for this year’s biggest cosplay competition. He knows that if he can win it, it could lead to bigger and better things and maybe his Mum finally taking him seriously. There's only one small problem... Raffy's ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

This story is told in two timelines - now and then. Sometimes I got so into the current timeline that when it switched I had to remember where we were in the other timeline but that was just me and it only took a few sentences to remember. 

“My anger fades beneath startling relief, and I realise that once again, my anxiety has been showing me a lowlight reel of what the future could be. Anxiety is awful like that; it shows you only the worst, and all at once.”

This quote especially hit home. I really identified with Raffy and his anxiety. I get anxiety at Cons and I also feel like I need to be in control of everything and that having other people ‘help’, isn’t always helping, like Raffy doing his cosplays by himself. 

Overally, I absolutely loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the storyline. Easy 5 stars. 

Thank you so much Netgalley and Sourcebooks for letting my read an e-arc of this!
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An absolutely lovely, fun, a heart filling book. Truly a great escapist read that we all needed in 2020.
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Okay, this was a super cute read! Raffy is pretty adorable and too sweet for his own good and I just want everything for him. Watching him fall in love, have his heart broken, then pick himself up and go after his dream was emotional, yet so much fun.

This book is divided into then and now, showing us how Raffy met and fell in love with Luca in the past and Raffy and Luca compete in a cosplay contest now. I felt so bad that Luca became his competition and the way their relationship ended. Raffy also lost a good friend in the chaos, plus he's dealing with a mom who doesn't support him. All of this would really bring someone down, but luckily Raffy still had his bff May to be there for him and encourage him to go for it.

I loved seeing Raffy become confident, stand up for himself, and get rewarded for his work. The only downside for me was that I didn't feel like Luca, Inaya, or Evie really apologized to Raffy and he definitely deserved it. But Raffy is an amazing person who is way more forgiving than I am and seemed pretty happy at the end, which is all I want for him.

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGally in exchange for an honest review
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Son of a millionaire artist turned gallery owner, Raphael ‘Raffy’ Odom doesn’t quite live up to the expectations his mother has. Preferring the feel of a hot glue gun and foam to anything else, Raffy is determined that this year, he will blow minds at the most important convention in the cosplay world – Controverse. Even if he has to compete against his ex-boyfriend and former duo partner to do so.
Raffy is a seventeen-year-old stress ball, stuffed with a good dose determination and pure talent. Cosplay is his passion, his mind a magic laden nest where small ideas grow into wonderful actualities. He is painfully aware that if he wants to follow his dreams with a formal art education, he will need to fund it himself, ideally through scoring sponsorship when he wins the top prize at Controverse. Winning at ‘Trip-C’, as it is called by the cool kids, would solve his future financial problems as well as proving to his mother that his creations are more than a hobbyist phase. His costumes are works of literal art built with his own hands and passion. Raffy is single minded in his pursuit of his goal, self-deprecating at times, he is mostly secure with who he is and is unequivocally himself. The one person who seems to truly put dents in his confidence is his mother Evie. She frequently demeans him, has nothing but animosity for the store Craft Club and would sooner die than have a child that does cosplay seriously. Forced to lie about his passions, Raffy is often on the back foot in their interactions, with Evie’s cutting remarks coupled with her apparent lack of caring about him in general. A few times a week, hidden away from his mother in their mostly unused backyard studio, Raffy streams himself creating his works of art out of any material imaginable. His online following validates him in way Evie doesn’t and provides an outlet to gush about his passion.
Luca Vitale is a bit of a jock, has a touch of dudebro going on at times and is really very lovely to look at, which he knows. He plays soccer and hangs out with ‘the boys’ and generally stays within that social lane. Or that is how it would seem to most. Luca is bisexual but does not have the easiest time at home because of this. His mother is determined that he follow a more ‘straight’ path to appease his father, believing that outside things influence someone’s sexuality. She dictates what he reads and watches, insists he keeps playing soccer and encouraging female relationships. Luca knows he is absolutely not allowed to be watching anime, browsing Craft Club for Sea Foam Dream #6 rhinestones and most definitely not watching the soft gay boy from school be dazzling artificial fins on a live stream. Luca spends more and more time with Raffy, trying to learn the ins and outs of cosplay and burning his ass in the process, literally. He is a sweetheart at his core, seeking acceptance for who he is entirely and unsure of how he can make all the pieces of his life work together but wants Raffy firmly in it. He is warm and genuine, supportive of Raffy and in awe of his ability to be entirely himself. The moments that show his judgemental side and insecurities make him real, even when the narrative has you thinking you should dislike, its hard to do so.
Told with a dual timeline, the past picks up just over a year prior working steadily towards present day. Starting with surprise rhinestones and pulling the reader through a growing relationship woven with the secrets they’re keeping from their own parents. Raffy opens up Luca’s world, letting him lean into who he is and who he wants to be without expectation or judgement. He indulges his ideas and is happy to be distracted by Luca, craft no longer his sole focus 24/7. Luca has some preconceived ideas about conventions and the people that attend but through Raffy he opens up to it all, eventually being as sucked in as everyone else. Their love story was sweet, organic but not without flaws, it wasn’t rushed or lofty, just people falling in love. The present narrative is spread over three days, Raffy barely able to contain his emotions when he spots Luca in his beautiful craft world. Trip-C is his dream and his future, he won’t let one ex-boyfriend derail that, no matter how much he hurts. When twists and roadblocks are thrown in the way, it ultimately forges their paths back towards each other, though Raffy isn’t sure he wants to be near Luca at all, let alone lose himself in that relationship again, even if it means losing out at Controverse.
Be Dazzled is adorable, soul warming and plain old fun, each page sucking you in more until you’re at the end and don’t quite know why or how there isn’t any more brilliance left to read. Raffy and Luca are wonderfully individual, neither of them having any sort of wild cliché extremes that would take away from their realism. Ryan La Sala stitches the then and now timelines together effortlessly, the dialogue and interactions read like teenagers and everything perfectly unfolds thanks to the authors natural talent for storytelling. Be Dazzled should find a place on every bookshelf to be read time and again, particularly when you need a book hug from what I have no doubt will become a favourite.
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What a fun book. I'm so glad this storie has brought me joy and hapiness in such dark times. I really loved the main characters' relationship (which led the book, in my opinion) and their love for cosplay. I found it hard to connect with the supporting characters and coudn't really identify each other, so that's a negative point for me. 
But, in general, it was a fun gay book, with fun characters and an amazing dinamic between them.
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This was really cute, but it also didn't feel very substantial. The alternating timelines didn't always work for me, and that everything boiled down to my most-hated romance trope (The Great Misunderstanding) and some pretty dated coming out fears for one of the two leads was disappointing. The ending was also VERY abrupt and rendered so much of the anxiety and tension in the book moot.

A fun little distraction but nothing I'll think too much about or recommend too heartily.
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Be Dazzled is, despite the theme, an intense book. Who would've thought that a cosplay competition can he nailbiting and intense. Ryan La Sala seems to have so much fun when he wrote this book, as you can note from the way he throws pop culture references, the exact same ones he actually loves. And any book that's written with love and compassion, like this, is indeed worth reading.
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