Thursday, December 10, 2020

#AmReading YA

Be Dazzled

Ryan La Sala
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Who's ready to sparkle??

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.

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.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store--or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca's insecurities and Raffy's insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can't ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he'll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he's ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.
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. 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 and first heartbreak. 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 his 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. Luca 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. 

**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

Girl at Heart

Kelly Oram
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Independently Published
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
As the daughter of a successful Major League pitcher, Charlie Hastings has baseball in her blood. Unfortunately, being the only girl on her high school baseball team, Charlie has always been just one of the guys.

When her best friend, and secret love of her life, asks another girl to the prom, Charlie is devastated. She’s tired of being overlooked by boys because she’s not like other girls. Suffering a massive identity crisis, she decides to hang up her cleats and finally learn how to be a girl.

But with only two weeks until the state championships, the Roosevelt High Ravens can’t afford to lose their star catcher. Team captain Jace King makes her a deal: Don’t quit the team, and he’ll help her become the girl she’s so desperate to be. After all, he’s got four sisters, one of whom happens to be a cheerleader. He knows a thing or two about girls. (And if he can win her heart in the process, all the better.)

From the bestselling young adult author of Cinder & Ella, V is for Virgin, and the Avery Shaw Experiment comes a new sweet romance that's sure to leave you with all the feels! Girl at Heart is a clean and wholesome sports romance that will leave you with warm fuzzies and an itch to watch a baseball game.

A sweet YA romance
Raised by her dad (and the Pittsburgh Pirates), Charlie was always just one of the guys. Her three closest friends were all boys and her teammates on the baseball team. She had finally worked up the courage to confess her feelings to her crush, when she discovered she was NOT considered girlfriend material. Feeling the need to change this, she made a deal with her captain, who offered to help her get in touch with her feminine side. 

I am going to start by saying that I don't really subscribe to the girl-things/boy-things, but I do understand Charlie's need to get out of the friend zone. With that said, I must confess, this was a super cute and adorable romance. 

First of all, I will never tire of women who can excel in a male dominated field, and thus, I loved seeing Charlie playing on the boys team. It was sort of bittersweet for her, as it was highly unlikely that she would be able to play baseball in college. She accepted the probability, but still I hoped her career wasn't over. I am glad this was part of the story. It was realistic and increased my desire to see Charlie succeed, on and off the field. 

Charlie was a bit of an introvert, and it took this rude awakening to push her out of her comfort zone. It was wonderful seeing her grow her social circle and make new friends. I especially loved the friendship that developed with her captain, Jace, and his sister. Jace was the kind of YA boys I love. He was sweet, kind, and considerate, which I mostly attribute it to him having so many sisters. They raised him right. It was cute watching Charlie note how Jace treated her, and I could see her confidence grow with each and every second she spent with him.  

I also liked her dad a lot. He worked hard raising Charlie on his own, and yes, sometimes he over compensated by spending a lot of money, but he did show her a lot of love and he always believed in her. I found their interactions extremely heartwarming. 

Things got complicated as Charlie worked to navigate all her relationships, but she never lost sight of what was important. She made mistakes, she learned, she grew. I found myself really emotionally invested in this story, and it absolutely delivered feels of all kinds for me. 

Overall: Fantastic, feel-good, frothy fun.  


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36 comments:

  1. Be Dazzled won me over at nerdy, cosplay goodness! I love it when nerdy con goodnewss gets appreciation and love, and in this case, packaged around such a cute love story!

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    1. It had me laughing and swooning and just feeling a lot of great feelings. I really enjoyed my first La Sala book

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  2. Jace sounds like a soft/sweet guy. Love those guys. :) It's hard t pigeon-holed and feel like you're not really seen so I imagine it would be easy to empathize with Charlie.

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  3. Both of these sound wonderful and I need some of that right now:)

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  4. I AM SO HAPPY YOU READ GIRL AT HEART!!! Cinder & Ella used to be my favorite Kelly Oram book, but Girl at Heart is now. Did you see another author wrote a book that's related about the boy cheerleader? I enjoyed that book as well.

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    1. I loved Cinder & Ella by DNFed the follow up (which made me sad). I have to check out that cheerleader book.

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  5. "This book was a romance wrapped in friendship and nerdy goodness".
    Great tagline!

    I'm not surprised that LaSala delivered. His first book was very different in genre and - I seem to understand - style, but it was impressive (and gloriously gay 😂).

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    1. Yeah, I would say La Sala brought a similar style to this one. I knew this book would be a hit for me, and I wasn't wrong.

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  6. These both sound nice, but I'm glad the cosplay elements were done so well in that first one. Plus the way certain characters came through- yay!

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    1. The cosplay was done so well. I really felt like I was there creating with Raffy

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  7. Both nooks sound wonderful. It has been awhile since I read this genre. I will be adding these to my wish list.

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    1. I always enjoy a good YA contemporary and both had such good romances too. Fun and sweet

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  8. These both sound so fabulous and I love those fun and sweet ones especially when you are in the mood for it. These feel good reads are such a delight right? Glad you had a good time with them.

    Great reviews.

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    1. I am all about the feel good books. More so than ever.

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  9. Comic Con and Project Runway sounds like the perfect combo!

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    1. It was a lot of fun "watching" the final competition. Very Project Runway.

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  10. Guess I need to rethink Be Dazzled! I wasn't a huge fan of the author's debut but it sounds like I need to give this one a try! It sounds fabulous! Girl at Heart sounds really good too, I am also a sucker for a sports story and this one sounds great, thanks for putting it on my radar!

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    1. I didn't read his debut, because it was fantasy. When I saw a contemporary, I was all over it, because his Twitter is hilarious and it came through in these characters. I thought Girl at Heart was adorbs. It was fluffy and fun and exactly what I am always in the mood for.

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  11. Yay for some more great reads! Be Dazzled actually sounds adorable! Maybe I'll have to give that one a try.

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    1. It was super cute. I had a great time reading it

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  12. Both of these books sound fantastic and I really want to meet Raffy and Charlie.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to read them at some point

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  13. Girl at Heart sounds adorable! Charlie seems like someone I would love and Jace is definitely someone I can see myself falling for. Need to add this one to my tbr, fabulous review!
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

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    1. I am glad I bought this book. It was fun and sweet story.

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  14. I love books about cosplay! Since you mentioned Heroes of Cosplay, did you see all the drama behind it? A lot of folks called them out and mysteriously another season was never filmed.

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    1. Ooooh, I never heard about that. I have not watched it in years, but I always loved seeing the magic happen.

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  15. Sounds like you scored with these two! I love it when my reads turn out to be so great! :)

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    1. I had never read La Sala before, but have enjoyed previous books by Oram. I was glad to see La Sala's fun Twitter personality was present in the book

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  16. I'm absolutely dying to read Be Dazzled! I read Reverie earlier this year and loved it immensely, especially the diversity of characters and the writing itself. It sounds like such a wonderfully queer, feel great read Sam and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I wanted to read Be Dazzled, because La Sala is so funny and it was more my speed being a contemporary. I loved it from beginning to end. I hope you get a chance to read it

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  17. Be Dazzled seems so great! Since I am on Instagram I see more and more people cosplaying and I am always amazed at their talent and creativity.

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    1. So creative, and cosplay is quite a labor of love.

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  18. Oh, man, I really need to get back to reading some YA. I've been loving the MG I've been reading, but it will be nice to read other things too. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. There have been great books for all age groups, if you ask me.

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