I think I need to set a new rule for myself: no starting books after midnight. I assumed that I would be able to exhibit some semblance of self control, seeing how the book in question is a book I’ve already read before but noooooo. I really thought to myself hmm I’ll just read one chapter and go to sleep. Never once, in my 8,003,520 minutes of existence (assuming that it’s midnight right now for the sake of round numbers), have I ever been able to put a book down after one chapter. But then again, never in my 8,003,520 minutes of existence have I done math willingly (thanks Rent for your help on this one!) so I guess miracles can happen.
Now, you might be wondering what was that hot mess of a paragraph??? and honestly I could not tell you. All I know is it is currently four in the morning, and because my brain is refusing to shut up, I am writing a review of a book I read back in August and decided to reread.
As for the book in question? It’s none other than the Once Upon a Con Series plaguing my consciousness. Back in June I read Geekerella for the first time (check out my full review here!). I was new to the whole retelling gig at the time, and let’s just say it started a bit of a retelling kick. I then reread Geekerella in anticipation of Bookish and the Beast coming out in August, unbeknownst to me that there was a second book. So I read it, was slightly confused by some of the new characters, and went on my merry way until I realized there was a second book in the series that I entirely missed. So I read the second book and then began wondering about Vance’s redemption arc after we were an arrogant chipmunk in the last one, so I did the only rational thing and started Bookish and the Beast at midnight. And here we are. Ok that story really went full circle right there (don’t blame ya if you skipped it lol) but now I’m actually going to talk about the book.
Book: Bookish and the Beast
Author: Ashley Poston
Published August 4th 2020 by Quirk Books
Blood, Car crash (mentioned), Death (mentioned), Grief, Harry Potter references
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.
Rosie, Rosie, Rosie, let’s talk about her as a character, shall we? I don’t know if it’s just me but she gave off slight not-like-other-girls vibes. It wasn’t blasting in your face to the extent of America Singer or anything, but it was subtle and there. Like Rosie had no idea how special she was, or how pretty she was. And the college application trope where they’re like ugh, I’m not special, why on earth would they pick me. Can we not??
Those moments were far and few between, and lucky the vast majority of the time was filled with a no-nonsense sort of girl who really liked to bask in the glory of a library, wreck havoc with her clumsiness, and nerd out. Those parts I really enjoyed, but then she would go and talk about how ordinary she was and I just internally hissed.
Vance was also fine. I don’t know. I liked him well enough the first time, but in the reread (especially after reading the second book) I can’t say I’m his biggest fan. He is very much the rich, bad boy and I didn’t really vibe.
That being said, some of his not-so-fine moments fell really well into the “beast” category in the B&B retelling. Finding a happy balance of too beastly and not beastly enough can be tricky, but I think it was done well in Bookish and the Beast. Yes, Vance was most certainly a jerk at times, but not to the extent where he was unredeemable. Rosie fought back fire with fire and they both did and said some iffy things, but in the end it took a slow build of mutual trust for the beastly layer to melt away and for us to see the softness on the inside.
Ok, let’s talk romance. The progression of it all worked really well, except for the end where everything seems to go buckle your seatbelts, let’s go full steam ahead! But up until that point, the rival-to-lovers romances was everything you could want it to be. They both sniped at each other in the beginning, they both called each other out until we slowly built up that slow mutual trust.
I mentioned the rivals-to-lovers, but honestly Bookish and the Beast was all around trope-tastic. I’m just going to list them out, because my first love truly is lists.
- rivals-to-lovers (as mentioned above)
- bad boy with a heart of gold
- famous person and small towner
- sunshine-and-grumpy (I’d argue to some extent)
- trapped outside in the rain
- reading to each other
- forced proximity
Related: check out my post of romance reccomendations based on your favorite trope here!)
I often struggle with Beauty and the Beast retellings. Part of making a compelling retelling is deciding which parts of the original tale to keep and which ones to toss out the window and burn at the stake. Apparently, especially in a bunch of fantasy B&B retellings, the whole kidnapping thing doesn’t fall under the burning-at-the-stake category. And it never fails to irk me when they fall in love and conveniently forget that the kidnapping happened in the first place. So as a general rule of thumb, I stick with contemporary B&B retellings because there is wayyyy less kidnapping.
Ok, I kind of went off on a tangent there, but the point is I liked the elements that Poston chose to incorporate. The tragically misunderstood beast, the majestic library that any bookworm would sell their firstborn to have, the girl who ends up in the library, Gaston being annoying as all getup ya de ya de da. Even with small things like naming the main character Rosie Thorne (get it… like the rose!) and making the diner owner Mrs. Potts were subtle nods that I really enjoyed.
Related: If you want to dive into some more retelling babble check out the post Phoenix @ Books with Wings and I collaborated on. Her half of the post can be found here! And the half over on my blog can be found here!
In true Once Upon A Con fashion, Bookish and the Beast was delightfully nerdy, packed to the brim with references, and centered around all things Starfield. However, it didn’t revolve around the Con nearly as much. Instead of ending at the Con and the ball and all that jazz, that’s where the story began. It was definitely a shift from the other two books, but I think it fit the narrative really well.
I also really enjoyed the appearances of old characters in this book. It’s always fun to see old characters you fell in love with in previous books! They didn’t play a huge rule, but they definitely popped in and knocked some common sense into the main characters, which was much appreciated.
Overall, this was a light read packed with the brim with the sorts of nerdiness that we all know and love from Ashley Poston. It can definitely be read on it’s own, but is infinitely better when read with the companions (IN ORDER!!!!). I’d recommend Bookish and the Beast to those who are in the mood for a good contemporary, B&B retelling, or for a protagonist that is just as much of a bookworm as all of us.
And for those who might have finished these books and is searching for something equally nerdy, might I suggest the ever charming Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala? It has that Con magic and all sorts of nerdiness that really reminds me of the whole Once Upon a Con Series.
Have you read any of the books in the Once Upon a Con Series? Which is your favorite? Have you read Bookish and the Beast? What did you think?