Cover Image: Be Dazzled

Be Dazzled

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Member Reviews

I think this book would make an excellant tv show or movie. The visuals would be really stunning. I don’t think the book could do it as much justice as something that was more visual.

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Ein toller LGBT+ Roman, in dem der Protagonist gegen seinen Exfreund beim größten Cosplaywettbewerb des Landes antritt. Eine Liebeserklärung ans Cosplay und an die Selbstverwirklichung!

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First, I love this cover!
The story was equally amazing! I thought it was incredibly interesting the passion for sewing.

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Wasn't a huge fan of the ending, but loved the main characters relationship and watching them discover and nurture their shared love of cosplay with each other, as this is not a topic often explored in YA lit.

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This has been sitting in my Kindle for almost 3 years. After no less than 6 attempts, I have finally given up on getting to the end. Coming off the back of Reverie, I was so excited for squishy gay boys and their prickly love interests but I got very bored, very quickly. This is not anything against La Sala because I've absolutely gushed over both his other novels. This one just didn't quite hit the mark for me. Maybe 7th time will be the charm but for now, It's kind of average

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Cosplay, queer kids and joy! This was really sweet and kind of like a hug. I think that Ryan La Sala isn't quite the author for me, but only because the writing feels like cotton candy. I think it definitely works for some, but it's just a little too much for me.

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Anyone who's queer, likes cosplays, or happens to be at the intersection of these two things, will love LaSala's "Be Dazzled" Sweet, fun, and geeky, this book is a perfect addition to everyone's LGBTQIA+ romcom bookshelf!

One of the best things about this story was how relatable both Raffy and Luca were. On the one hand, Raffy is your good ole' knot of anxiety and single-minded passion - in this case, about cosplay. Anyone who's ever been a teenager with a hobby they held very close to their heart will definitely see themselves in Raffy - I, for one, related to him at a spiritual level! On the other hand, Luca comes across as carefree and almost dismissive, but he turns out to be a darling who's warm, sweet, and cuter than a whole box of kittens. Each of them dealt with a different kind of non-secure parenting; Raffy's mom was really distant with him and openly disapproved of his hobby and life choices, which, ouch, hit close to home; and then Luca's mum was your classic helicopter parent, who unsuccessfully tried to disguise her fear that Luca's bisexuality would make him less manly than he, in her opinion, ought to be. I loved seeing these two different, yet equally stressful, family dynamics represented, since many queer people have these situations at home and it's always nice to see them on the page.

Although the beginning is a little slow, the competition and Raffy and Luca's developing second-chance bond soon capture the reader's attention, to the point that I didn't even notice how fast I was turning the pages. One of the things that hooked me was how LaSala emphasised, and celebrated, being your own person, and celebrating your own individuality, hard work, and creativity.

All in all, this was an amazing read!

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I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is well written and the characters are described well. I enjoyed Raffy and May's character in this book. I enjoyed the crafting comicon cosplay ideas in this book. Would I recommend reading this book to anyone and everyone, yes I would. This book is in stores for $17.99 (USD).

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Ryan La Sala’s second novel is, at the risk of using a bad pun, dazzling. Raffy is a closet crafter, son of a mother who is an art snob and doesn’t approve of cosplay or crafting. He sneaks into Controverse, the biggest fan convention in Boston, with the hopes of winning the cosplay competition with his friend May and use the money for art school. The problem arises when Raffy’s ex boyfriend, Luca, shows up with a new partner and Raffy’s stolen cosplay idea. Drama ensues, which is in keeping with the con scene. By the end, partners have been switched, secrets revealed, and costumes be-dazzled which all culminates in a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.

Be Dazzled was everything I look for in a book: fun, emotional, with a good plot and lots of character growth. As a cosplayer and frequent convention visitor, I felt that the experience was authentic both in the costuming stages and the convention atmosphere. I also enjoyed the time jumps in alternating chapters that reveals backstory without weighing down the excitement of the present plot. My only critique is that the flashbacks sometimes seemed repetitive and towards the end broke into the plot a little too much. I listened to the audiobook via NetGalley and really enjoyed the speaker, who did a good job bringing the characters to life.

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I wasn't the biggest fan of this author's first work, so I still was excited to read this one due to its cosplay and nerd culture topic. I think this author really writes contemporary stories well and I enjoyed this one more than their previous book. I enjoyed reading about the cosplay and crafting parts, and the main character's passion and determination really came through. I also enjoyed reading about Raffys relationships with those around him, from his complicated relationship with his mom, the encouragement his friends give him, and the will-they-won't-they dynamic with the love interest. I did feel that the relationship changes that happened at the end of the book were a little sudden and didn't make 100% sense in my eyes.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I think it was a solid contemporary,

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This book was amazing!
I myself am a crafter, have dabbled into cosplay and am a part of many geeky fandoms.
Those topics, combined with queerness were amazing to read about!

The alternating chapters between "then" and "now" were a great story-telling method. While we see something fall to pieces, we see it being rebuilt.
While fun and partly light-hearted, Be Dazzled also deals with heavier topics, especially in relation to being a teen and having issues with your parents. These range from alienation to not feeling able to be yourself.

Overall a great read that was entertaining, emotional and wonderfully quirky!

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I absolutely loved Ryan La Sala's Reverie, so I really wanted to love this one of his too, but it just really wasn't for me. I had the hardest time finishing it. I love the nonlinear timeline and the concept of the story, but the plot and conflict of the story fell a little flat for me. Nonetheless, I'm glad this book exists, so the next generation of crafty queer kids can find themselves among it's pages.

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This one was really lovely.
It was easy to read, easy to enjoy, and I had a good time reading it.
Raffy was a fun protagonist, and I am here for all of the queer goodness. The romance was sweet, too, which is always a bonus!

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I thought this book was imaginative, brimming with love for creative folks, and told in such a way that I just had to keep reading to find out how it would end!

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Loved the fashion premise of this book- felt very project runway and that felt fresh and new for YA. The two timelines were sometimes difficult for me to follow, but that could just be my inability to keep track of which timeline I'm reading. Loved the emotion and relationship in the book and I definitely connected with the characters.

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Three stars for this title doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it or wouldn't recommend it to anyone -- I just wanted a bit more!

Our main character Raffy, is funny, clever, and determined. I like that he's ambitious and dedicated to his craft, but that we also see him shift to become more partner/team-oriented. As someone who can also be very independent when I'm working, I could relate to Raffy and his thoughts that sometimes it's better to just work alone, but that it can also be a transformative experience to work together with someone who can totally change your perspective. I also appreciated the portrayal of his anxiety and found it to be sensitive and authentic.

Raffy's mother is neglectful and the book doesn't ultimately argue one way or another on whether she is abusive; I think this is partially to keep the book's tone not entirely heavy and to also allow the readers to make their own decision. I know there are a lot of teens for whom the critical and absent parent figure will be familiar, and that their emotions may be just as mixed as Raffy's. As an adult, I wanted more communication at the end between Raffy and his mother, as well as more backstory to their relationship as a reader, but the ending between them is probably realistic in that it is hopeful but not a total transformation...they will continue to disagree on Raffy's ideas fundamentally but his mother may be better able to support them, if at a distance, especially when she's around supportive artists who can sway her.

Luca's story was familiar (closeted teen) but also different and nuanced. We didn't see the story beats of figuring out his sexuality, realizing he has a crush on Raffy, or how he feels about their relationship progressing, but we do see his vulnerability, his worries about his family finding out about Raffy, and how he wants to "strike" out and join the cosplay community but is hesitant. I do think their eventual make-up could have used a bit more explanation and communication, especially since we didn't see until the near end how they'd broken up, but I also think the two made a great pair and that readers will enjoy their relationship and banter. I also like the way this book discussed how Luca's family preferred more masculine hobbies for him for fear of what road it'd take him on and how he grappled with those ideas as well as his bisexuality. I found the book's celebration of gender expression to be positive and affirming.

As far as the cosplay and art content. I do wish that had been reduced a bit to expand more into Raffy's world beyond that, but I think the book is purposely a "bottle episode" save for the flashbacks, so the point isn't to explore every part of his life. I don't know a lot of artists, so Raffy's mother's objections to cosplay seemed odd, but I can believe it, As always, I enjoy when teens are given passions and hobbies in YA novels and I loved that Raffy really knew his stuff. I'm not the biggest fan of fandom or con-themed books, but I think this one balanced it well and didn't come off as too cheesy. I liked that while the competition was fierce and friendships were tested, ultimately every teen was able to put aside their own feelings and come together for the final competitions/performances (see: the Sailor Moon finale!). The con was an inventive way to provide a backdrop to showcase the teen's character arcs and to provide tension.

I would recommend this to teens who need a mostly happy m/m novel (who doesn't?), teens who like con/fandom books, teens who create, and teens who savor love stories.

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Ryan La Sala did it again. He wrote a fantastic and powerful story filled with glitter and art, with a set of amazing characters and an incredible setting. For his first novel, Reverie, he took us to the place that exists between reality and our own dreams and nightmares. Now, he is taking us to the wonderful universe of comics, anime, and video game conventions. Our main character, Raffy, loves the art of creation. He is a master of arts and crafts who loves to design his and his friends cosplay costumes.

Raffy’s life has always revolved around his art, no matter who or what. Not even the painful commentaries of his own mother and her obvious rejection of his creative pathway. But then, Raffy’s world turns upside down with the arrival of Luca, the boy who breaks his heart. For the first time in forever, Raffy’s insecurities and self-doubt will be more present and palpable, affecting his own creative process and risking his participation in one of the most important conventions.

The novel flows so naturally and easily, that it is impossible not to fall for it. The characters, the scenery, the script, everything merges beautifully to give us this incredible, touching, and down-to-earth story. The book covers many topics that are known to every one of us but because our actual rhythm of life is not considered on a regular basis. Raffy’s stress and anxiety, leading to episodes of self-isolation and continuous self-doubting are the topics that I would like to highlight because even though Raffy’s going through that, he continues working and giving all of himself. How many times we have done the same? It is a normalized behavior nowadays, and I think that we should remember that all of us have a limit, we need to remember that is perfectly fine to ask for help, we are not alone.

A story full of love, of passion, of art, and of course some of your most favorite fandoms of all time, in my case, Sailor Moon. Hope you can give this story a chance, I promise you will not regret it.

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I don't take much stock in book blurbs that use comparisons to other media, but this time around, the "<i>Project Runway</i> goes to Comic Con" description is 100% accurate. Told in alternating perspectives, then and now, <i>Be Dazzled</i> follows super passionate cosplay creator and streamer Raffy (AKA Crafty Raffy), as he share his love for creating costumes with and starts to fall for closeted Luca, with the book exploring how the two ultimately go from partners to competitors in the country's largest cosplay competition. Big points to La Sala for combining two of my favorite things: frothy descriptions of clothing and a fluffy, secretive boy-on-boy romance destined for a high school happily ever after.

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Trigger Warnings: emotional abuse (parent to child), panic disorder, biphobia, homophobia.

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala is a YA, dual-timeline novel about a teenage cosplayer set in the world of conventions and competitive cosplay.

Raffy is an up-and-coming cosplayer with a semi-popular streaming channel where he live-streams his builds in advance of the conventions where he shows them off to the world. In the present day, he’s working hard to finish off the costumes for a major competition where the prize will include a big cheque and sponsorship opportunities with Craft Club (a national chain of craft stores) – a prize he hopes will secure his big break and allow him to escape from under the watchful eye of Evie, his millionaire artist mother who looks with disdain at anything to do with arts and crafts. Raffy is also dealing with the aftermath of a bad breakup with his boyfriend Luca, made worse by the fact that Luca has now teamed up to work with Raffy’s cosplay rival and former friend Inaya.

However, when the Craft Club execs conspire to add drama to this year’s cosplay competition, Raffy finds himself having to team up with Luca in order to stand a chance at winning. Can the two boys put the past behind them in order to create something stunning to wow the judges, or with the lingering tensions rip their team apart at the seams?

This was an incredibly fun story that will appeal to anyone who has stayed up late in the weeks before a convention to try and finish a costume in time. Raffy’s obsessive nature over getting all the details just right, even to the detriment of his relationships with others, will no doubt strike a chord with many readers, while those less familiar with the world of cosplay will discover a behind the scenes look at what goes into making the amazing outfits they may have seen on a convention floor.

I particularly enjoyed the dual timeline nature of Be Dazzled. The two parts are only set around six months apart – not long at all when compared with many other dual timeline novels which can be separated by years if not decades – but this style of storytelling helped increase my curiosity. In the present-day timeline, Raffy and Luca are broken up after an as-yet-unknown incident whereas, in the scenes set in the past, we see them meeting and beginning to fall in love. It’s also in these scenes where we really get to know Luca the most and witness his struggle to accept his sexuality along with his fears about his family’s reaction. This means that in the past scenes the tension builds because we know we are on the road to a disaster, whereas in the present scenes, the tension comes as we hope for a positive resolution. It’s two very different stories expertly blended into one.

As in many romance books, many of the supporting cast are rather two-dimensional, including Raffy’s best friend Meg who I’d love to read a spin-off story about. I did, however, very much enjoy the character of Evie, Raffy’s antagonistic mother whom he refers to by first name and has more of a colleague-style relationship with than that of parent and child. Evie is a former professional artist turned gallery owner and is only interested in the most high brow of art, meaning she is positively disgusted by Raffy’s cosplay. This leads to some of the most heart-in-mouth scenes in the book as Raffy attempts to keep his builds a secret, and also an especially hilarious moment when he has to attempt to hide an entire party full of cosplayers during an unexpected visit.

While Be Dazzled is far from the most groundbreaking of LGBTQ stories, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable one with an interesting twist thanks to its setting in the world of competitive cosplay. I would recommend it for both those who enjoy watching or participating in cosplay and also anyone looking for a simple, enjoyable LGBTQ romance to dive into over the summer.

GeekMom received a copy of this book for review purposes.

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