Author Interview: Isabel Bandeira on Practically Ever After

Isabel Bandeira is the author of the Ever After series. She’s here today to talk about the third book in the series, Practically Ever After, super planner MC Grace, and wrapping her first trilogy. (Don’t worry, the books all read as standalones so no risk of spoilers for Bookishly Ever After here!)

Miss Print: Practically Ever After is the final book in your Ever After series. Can you tell me a bit about the inspiration for and focus of Grace’s story?

Isabel Bandeira: I know the primary focus for readers of my books is the romance, but all three books start from a premise where the romance is secondary to the character learning to embrace their strengths (and flaws) and use them to chart their own happily ever afters in every aspect of their lives. Like Phoebe and Em, Grace’s journey is about learning that she’s more than her lists and plans, that she is more than the labels she projects onto herself, and that perception is definitely *not* reality.

In the last two books, all we saw was the perfect facade she projected to the world– perfect clothes, perfect grades, glitterati status, upper middle class family, perfect girlfriend– and this was a chance to let readers see things from her point of view, flaws and all. The downside of starting the story with a “perfect” life and relationship, though, is that us evil writers (and life) need to shake things up to make things interesting. The last part of senior year in high school is hard– not because of classes or homework since most of that is winding down, but because it’s right on the edge of a turning point in your life: everything is about to change. I wanted to reflect the excitement, fear, and bittersweet nature of that experience in Grace’s story. Change makes us grow, and Grace learning to deal with her perfect plans falling apart was how I was going to help her grow through her story.

Miss Print: Practically Ever After focuses on Grace and her girlfriend, Leia–a character we don’t see as much of in the other novels in the series. What were some of your favorite details to share about Leia as readers get the chance to properly meet her?

Isabel Bandeira: Leia is sunshine. She’s Grace’s balance, the one person who can tone down the Queen of plans and perfection while also bringing out Grace’s inner dork. While Grace is about fitting in–salon-perfect blonde highlights and gliteratti-approved clothes, Leia’s unnatural hair colors shift through the story (and the prequel story) and she spends most of the book in her school uniform or grubby gardening clothes. Like Grace, she’s smart, but unlike Grace, she doesn’t show it off. One thing readers may notice both in earlier books and the beginning of Practically is that she’s skilled at stepping aside to let others shine and is too good at making allowances for others, so a big part of her journey in PEA is to learn to stand up for herself.

A Leia primer: unlike the rest of the group, she goes to a private school on the outskirts of Lambertfield. She loves working with kids and wants to be a teacher, she loves to garden, and just barely tolerates her mom’s love of antiques. She and Grace met through model UN (and, back then, she had long red hair that made her look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid) and she’s the type of person who will drop everything to help you out.

Miss Print: What was it like writing the final book in a series? Did you know where you wanted all of the characters to end up when you started writing this series? Did anything change between then and now?

Isabel Bandeira: Yes, I had to provide synopses for all 3 books as a part of my contract with Spencer Hill Press, so I knew where the books and characters were going to go from the very beginning. What changed in the actual books from my synopses were mostly details, such as side characters, character names, or certain aspects of execution, like timing and adding shadows and color to really flesh out the story. I was going through a few changes in my life at the time of drafting and revising the book, so some of my own personal stresses at the time– including being in my own period of career change–helped me to better empathize with Grace’s situation and better capture the feelings I had wanted to convey.

Miss Print: We’ve talked in previous interviews about how you balance your career as a mechanical engineer with being an author and other creative pursuits–a balance that Grace herself is trying to find as she decides what comes after high school. What was it like tapping into your own experiences for this story? What’s one thing you wish you could tell yourself when you were in Grace’s shoes?

Isabel Bandeira: It was wonderful being able to show Grace falling in love with engineering, like I did the first time I realized it was more than just engines and boring machines, and showing her deep in the spark of a new idea. It was also wonderful to dance again (vicariously) through Grace, since I had to give up ballet and contemporary because of problems with my feet and legs. Those moments where she was one with a design or with the music were magical to write. There’s this false perception in society that STEM and arts don’t intersect and I wanted a character who loved both because I want other girls who love science and art, math and dance to know that we exist and thrive and are needed.

For Grace: I’d tell past me and her that you can be practical and still find your own niche in the world. I had always seen Mechanical Engineering from the limited lens of what I knew– either machines or power/thermodynamics, like what my dad did for a living. What I didn’t see was how my love of art and design and creativity could fit into that space and how the human body is the most amazing machine ever. I’d tell her that we contain multitudes and those multitudes are what make us strong and unique. Instead of sacrificing what makes us special, we can learn how to combine them into the right future career for ourselves. And I’d tell her that sometimes the best things happen when life decides to veer you (slightly) off your plans.

Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about your next project? What’s the first thing you did when you finished work on Practically Ever After?

Isabel Bandeira: I rested and slept! The last few rounds of revision took a lot out of me and I needed a break from writing to recharge my mental batteries. 2017-2019 involved a ton of career changes (engineering-wise) and family illnesses. Combined with the stresses of writing, revision, and promo, I had to spend some time after I turned in my manuscript not trying to do or be *everything*, and that included writing. I am currently in the middle of a YA contemporary set in Portugal and pulling from my experiences as a third culture kid (hyphen-Americans, first gens… whatever we’re called this month…). I love it, but I’ve taken this time to pause, step back, and let my body and brain recover.

It’s so easy to get caught up in this whirl of book/writer social media where you feel like you’re not a good writer if you don’t have a book deal or you aren’t always writing or having a book or two or three out a year or promoting or engaging with readers or spending every weekend signing at a table in a Barnes and Noble or flying out to book festivals or… or… or… And it’s easy to think you’re never good enough, not enough sales or readers or likes on the latest tweet/insta post, not part of the right clique of authors, not loud enough on social media, not good enough to be invited to panels or maybe invited to the wrong ones or invited to too many and you don’t want to miss out, and the moment you get a really nice review, someone is out there to remind you that you suck or you don’t write “real books” because they’re for kids or have people kissing or are happy or are commercial. And even with your publisher and readers and friends are awesome, it happens. So, sometimes we need to step back, breathe, and remember why we started: because we love books.

I’ve learned that my best work comes when I write out of joy and for myself. I took this time between finishing PEA and now to examine my motivations and just fall in love with writing for the sake of writing. I broke ties with my former agent who represented the Ever After novels mid last year and I have a few books sitting and ready to query, but I’m waiting to finish the Portugal one first. I’m really excited about this one because it’s close to my heart, so wish me luck!

Thanks again to Isabel for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can see more about Isabel and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of Practically Ever After.

Dramatically Ever After: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

cover art for Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Em Katsaros’s senior year is not quite what she imagined. Her boyfriend is dreamy and sweet. But he’s also five thousand miles away–and still not the best at English since he spent most of his semester in the US making out with Em instead of studying, which makes emailing and texting a challenge.

Then there’s the fact that Em’s dad just got laid off. With money tight and the future uncertain, Em has to hustle for scholarships if she wants to be able to afford to attend her first choice university and its amazing acting program.

Luckily, Em has the perfect plan. All she has to do is channel her scene-stealing acting skills for a speech competition. Making it to the national round of the US Youth Change Council competition means a week in Boston and the chance to win a national scholarship.There’s only one thing standing in her way: Kris Lambert–senior class president, total jerk, Em’s long-time nemesis, and unbelievably her fellow state representative for New Jersey.

Kris seems different once they get to Boston, but Em isn’t easily fooled. With so much on the line, Em is willing to do whatever it takes to secure her win–even if it means she’ll have to pretend to flirt with Kris to throw him off is his game. But as the final competition gets closer, Em starts to realize her strategy to foil Kris might have spectacularly backfired when Kris starts to give as good as he gets in Dramatically Ever After (2017) by Isabel Bandeira.

Find it on Bookshop.

Dramatically Ever After is the second book in Bandeira’s Ever After trilogy which begins with Em’s best friend Phoebe in Bookishly Ever After. Each book in the series functions as a standalone so they can be read independently.

As the title suggests, Em is a dramatic narrator who is always ready to add a little drama to her life whether it means pretending to flirt with Kris during their trip to Boston or over romanticizing her long-distance relationship that may have run its course. Em isn’t always the nicest or easiest heroine. She embraces those parts of her personality and has no patience for anyone who is unwilling to accept all of her on her own terms.

Kris and Em are great foils as both are incredibly aware of each other’s strategies to win the speech competition and determined to prove who’s the best once and for all. As a result Dramatically Ever After is filled with witty banter and aggressive flirting on both sides as Em and Kris start to realize they might have met their match in each other (and that it might not be a bad thing).

Dramatically Ever After brings readers back to Lambertfield and all of its wonderful characters while also expanding the world and giving readers a new perspective on everyone’s favorite drama queen. Romantic comedy style plots, writing that gets better with each installment, and swoons galore make this series a winner. Be sure to start it now so you’re ready when book three, Practically Ever After, hits shelves!

Possible Pairings: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre, Nothing by Annie Barrows, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Royals by Rachel Hawkins, Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks, Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan, Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roate, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti, Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Isabel too!

*A copy of this title was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2017*

Author Interview: Isabel Bandeira on Dramatically Ever After

Isabel Bandeira is the author of the Ever After series. She’s here today to talk about the second book in the series, Dramatically Ever After, and her new heroine, Em. (Don’t worry, the books all read as standalones so no risk of spoilers for Bookishly Ever After here!)

Miss Print: Dramatically Ever After is the second book in your series. Can you tell me a bit about its inspiration? What was it like returning to a world and cast of characters you already knew while also writing a new story?

Isabel Bandeira: Em’s story was written immediately after I finished Bookishly Ever After. Her voice is incredibly dominant, so Em kept demanding her own story and wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it. If Bookishly hadn’t sold or if it had only been a one book deal, I was ready to switch Dramatically Ever After to a standalone and to query it separately. Em’s character and personality are so strong, she actually had a habit of taking over the other stories, and, when writing the other books in the series, I had to be very careful to let Em be a part of the story without trying to take over the leading role.

Coming back to Lambertfield and the world of PCHS was seamless because I was still in the Ever After world, but I had the fun job of flipping that world around to a new viewpoint. Every single one of us looks at the world and others with our own, unique perspectives colored by our personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs. How Em sees herself, for example, is different from Phoebe’s perception of her or Grace’s, or even the readers’. As writers, the line we have to walk, especially in the first person, is to portray that mental image of self while also showing in actions and others’ reactions a more neutral point of view. Em is a little bit of an unreliable narrator, so it was fun slipping in details readers could see that would, at times, contradict her perceptions. Companion novels or novels with multiple points of view are really nice ways for us, as writers, to learn to be more empathetic because we have to learn to see the same people and places through different lenses.

Miss Print: One of the things I loved about Dramatically Ever After is how different Em is from her best friend Phoebe. We’ve talked before about Phoebe having a lot in common with your teen self as she embraces her inner geek and her love of books (and knitting). What was it like getting inside a new character’s head for this story?

Isabel Bandeira: A lot of me went into Em’s character, too (that being said, I maintain that the character most like me in the series is Phoebe’s big sister, Trixie)! Like her, I’m a huge history dork, love speech writing, and was actually in a (similar concept but there are major structural differences) speech competition when I was a teen, representing my state on the national level and going around Washington, DC with over 50 other teens (all the states plus territories and regions for military families stationed overseas). But… I’m definitely not as outgoing as Em, as bubbly, or as quick to forgive. And she says all the things I don’t have the guts to say, which makes her so much fun to write.

And then there are the external pressures coming from her family. Even though only Em’s dad is an immigrant, compared to both of my parents, she still feels a lot of the things kids of immigrants, like me, feel. That quip about the Greek scholarship? Been there, done that, got badly mistreated by a Portuguese-American scholarship’s organizing committee. The pressure to go to college, be the best student, get the best scholarships, get a logical good-paying job… all of that got wrapped into Em and the worries that helped drive her motivations.

Voice is really important, and it’s more than words and actions. It’s in the details and things like mental comparators the character uses—while Phoebe’s descriptors revolved around things familiar to her in the forms of yarn, books, and archery: “It was soft, like a quivut and cashmere mix,” Em’s mental dialogue reflected her love of Hollywood and history: “She looked like a cross between Rita Hayworth and Katherine Hepburn” and using 17th-century stays as a descriptor for feeling constricted. It’s even conveyed in the use of color—Phoebe, for example, wears and mentions a lot of soft teals and blues and greys, while Em’s world is all about vibrant colors, especially yellow.

Miss Print: Dramatically Ever After takes Em away from her beloved home state to compete in a speech competition in Boston. How did you decide which locations to have Em visit during the competition?

Isabel Bandeira: I chose Boston because it’s such a great city and the perfect place to showcase Em’s love of history. As a history dork, I was easily able to pull on my own wonder and awe from my first visit there years ago to build on Em’s reactions to this world.

The grounds outside the colonial dinner site were modeled after one of my favorite historical sites—Phillipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY. You really do feel like you’ve stepped back in time in that place, and I wanted Em to have that space as a backdrop to one of the conversations where she first begins revealing bits of her real, unfiltered self to Kris.

And the MFA: I had to write the MFA into DEA primarily because of the statue of Guanyin. Everyone has points in their lives when they feel hopeless or as if no one could ever understand what they’re going through. That was what I was feeling the first time I walked into that wing of the MFA and saw Guanyin’s statue. I remember looking up and coming to a complete stop the moment I saw that face projecting so much compassion and kindness, and I remember crying and taking comfort from this over two-thousand-year-old statue. Em needed a moment like that, too, and I made sure to work this amazing work of art into Em’s story.

Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about your next project? What can readers expect in Practically Ever After?

Isabel Bandeira: PEA was probably the hardest book of the three to write—how do you take a “perfect” couple, the couple all the other characters in the last two books look up to, and break them up? I love writing Grace and Leia together, and it was not easy to throw challenges their way. But every relationship hits bumps, even perfectly practical ones!

Readers can expect practicality, flawless use of planners and lists, science and engineering, dance, cheer, prom, and lots of the same friendship dynamics we’ve seen in the last two books. I really enjoyed diving into Grace’s discovery of her love of engineering, her rediscovery of her love of dance, that that bittersweet space in time of being on the edge of change. I hope readers enjoy it, too!

Thank you so much for reading Dramatically Ever After and for the interview!!! <3

Thanks again to Isabel for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can see more about Isabel and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of Dramatically Ever After.

Author Interview: Isabel Bandeira on Bookishly Ever After

Isabel Bandeira is the generally charming author of Bookishly Ever After, the first book in a romantic contemporary series. I was pleasantly surprised by this funny and delightful novel and have loved chatting with Isabel on Twitter and following her numerous interests on Instagram. I am, obviously, thrilled to have her here today talking about her debut novel.

Miss Print: Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Isabel Bandeira: I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life, even before I knew what writers were. My mom even has these embarrassing little “books” I made when I was very little because I loved books so much, I wanted so much to make my own. Unfortunately, when I was a senior in high school, bad advice from a really well-known kidlit author made me believe if I went to college for engineering, I’d never be a published author, so I gave up on my dream.

I remember, a decade later, looking at some of the stories I wrote in high school and crying because I thought I’d never write like that again.

Writing for fan RPGs and fanfiction helped me remember how much I loved writing, but I still didn’t believe I’d be able to do anything more than post little stories online and in fanzines. Then, in 2012, I traveled an hour an a half (straight from a skating competition, sweaty, sparkly, and all!) to go to one of Amy Plum’s booksignings. Meeting (translate: fangirling like crazy fangirl) her and hearing her talk about her writing process really inspired me to try again, and that feeling was solidified when, a few weeks later, I met Meg Cabot. Writers were real, nice people who worked really hard for their dreams. There wasn’t some magic formula behind it, like that writer in high school made me believe.

Miss Print: What was the inspiration for Bookishly Ever After?

Isabel Bandeira: I was writing a short scene for a no-kiss bloghop and had this image pop into my head of a bookish girl channeling her favorite heroines to impress a boy camp counselor. Although I hadn’t been planning on writing a contemporary at the time, the story really stuck with me, and when I was at a writing retreat and was given the prompt: “Your character falls in love at first sight,” this character came back to me full force and wouldn’t let me go (I honest to goodness giggled the whole time while writing that scene and a good chunk of it survived edits to become the beginning of Bookishly). I wrote Bookishly for fun while working on other books.

Miss Print: In Bookishly Ever After Phoebe turns to her beloved YA novels when she needs advice on how to deal with a boy potentially having a crush on her. Excerpts from these books are included in your novel as Phoebe references them for tips and tricks (with understandably mixed results). Were any of the book excerpts you wrote inspired by actual novels? Or if you can’t answer that, can you share some of your current favorites?

Isabel Bandeira: The answer is sort-of? When I outlined all of the books and characters mentioned in Bookishly, I tried to slip in some of the more common tropes I saw in a lot of the paranormal YA at the time. The “Golden” series, especially, showcased a lot of these tropes, from a feisty redheaded heroine destined to save the world to “insert paranormal creature of the month here” leprechaun love interest Aedan (his name was originally Liam, but there were so many Liams in YA at the time of publication that my editors suggested that I change it just because it would have been overkill).

It’s really hard to narrow down all my faves, especially since I love both contemporary and all variations of fantasy, from paranormal to classic fantasy. I love funny/fun writers like Meg Cabot, K.C. Held, Rahul Kanakia, Jen Malone, and Leah Rae Miller (and I haven’t even started talking MG awesomeness like Casey Lyall, Gail Nall, and Brooks Benjamin), and swoon over books by Jodi Meadows and Aprilynne Pike. Since it’s inktober (draw an ink drawing a day and post it!) at the moment, I’m craving a reread of Amanda Sun’s INK, and my dive into the wonderfully French superhero cartoon Miraculous Ladybug has me rereading Amy Plum’s Revenants series again.

Miss Print: Phoebe is a self-proclaimed geek and proud of it. She knits, is part of the school band, and although she isn’t conventionally popular she has a tight group of friends. Would you have fit in with Phoebe’s group in high school? Can you tell me a bit about Teen Issy?

Isabel Bandeira: Teen Issy was a geeky flute-playing, book-reading and -writing sciencelete who took science tests for fun and loved wearing homemade Star Trek t-shirts. I came to school an hour early for the “early classes” so I could take both art and band in addition to all my regular classes. I even was a letterwoman… in Academic Challenge (other schools might call it quiz bowl, with teams and buzzers and all that jazz). I’d like to hope Phoebe and her friends would have liked teen me.

While writing Bookishly, I was very conscious of making sure I reflected the kind of high school I remembered, where people of all types hung out together, cheerleaders and football players also took AP classes, and most people flew in this limbo space between super popular and outcasts. I remember early mod AP English where everyone traded chocolate covered espresso beans while someone gushed about cosplaying Princess Serenity from Sailor Moon at our prom. My friends and I were unapologetically geeky and loved it.

Teen Issy was also INCREDIBLY oblivious about boys. I realized someone I had been crushing on had tried to ask me to the prom and that I had turned him down without even knowing it… four years after the fact. *pats past self on the head comfortingly* Em would have had a field day with teen me.

Miss Print: Were any places in Bookishly Ever After inspired by actual locations you have visited?

Isabel Bandeira: Yes! Lambertfield and its surroundings were modeled after parts of Camden and Burlington counties in Southern New Jersey, and the camp is a mish-mosh of camps Ockanickon and Inawendiwin in Burlington county. I love the barrens, from the smell of the cedar water to shaking the sugar sand out of my shoes after a walk in the woods.

Dev’s description of his grandfather’s plantation was after a friend’s farm in Maharashtra state in India, which I visited a few years ago. It’s just as lovely and magical as he describes.

Miss Print: In addition to being a novelist, you are an engineer in your day job. Not to mention being an archer, figure skater, and artist. How do you balance all of these interests? What does a typical writing day look like for you? What about a typical work day?

Isabel Bandeira: I’m really tired all the time!!!

Just kidding. I did give up a lot of things, like lots of TV time, going to the movies, or socializing with coworkers at lunchtime in order to do everything I do, but it’s been worth the sacrifice.

The thing I love about skating and archery (and ballet, before my injuries made me give it up) are that I need to focus when I’m doing these sports, letting my brain “turn off” about writing and my day job. When I skate, it’s all about the music and making sure my body is in the right position to jump, spin, or do footwork, and archery is all about the target and controlling my position. Because I do these for fun, my only competition in either sport is just me, and since there’s no pressure to go to the Olympics (hahahahahaha), they’re both places where I can celebrate little successes without stressing over goals. I make time for all of these, my family, and art because I know that a healthy me can’t revolve around work or writing or computer screens.

A typical weekday starts at 5am–I wake up, get ready for work, and then either answer emails or write (sometimes at the coffee shop on the way to my day job). I have an hour commute, so if I’m working on a plot or revisions, I sometimes voice record my thoughts while driving in to work. If I don’t have work meetings at lunchtime, I’ll either write or answer email/social media, though lately I’ve also been sketching because I’m taking part in inktober. After work, I eat dinner and then either write or fall asleep on the sofa.

Weekends have more writing squeezed in between family time and my skating lessons.

Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about your next project? (Any chance of a full Mirror House novel down the line?)

Isabel Bandeira: We’re finishing up edits on DRAMATICALLY EVER AFTER, and book 3 of the Ever After series is on my to-do list to finish. I have a fun “procrastination book” I’m working on right now just for me, but I don’t know if that will ever see print–right now, it’s just for fun.

All of those books in BEA had to be outlined in full and properly researched so I could keep track of their plots and make them read as believable, so it’s not impossible. I’d love to write Phoebe’s books if there’s enough interest for them! Marissa and Cyril were a lot of fun to write, and I loved all the old Victorian superstitions I learned while researching facts for that “series.”

Miss Print: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

Isabel Bandeira: Don’t be afraid of rejection and don’t be afraid of hard work, because writing is definitely work. Take care of your instrument–if you type or handwrite, let your hands rest and wear supports if you need them. If you voice dictate, take care of your voice. Get away from your writing once in a while and live in the world. Read, play, and recharge. And remember, what works for me might not work for you, so take all writing advice with that in mind.

Thanks again to Isabel for taking the time to answer my questions and being generally pleasant and lovely at BEA this summer.

You can see more about Isabel and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of Bookishly Ever After.

Bookishly Ever After: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraPhoebe Martins is an avid reader who always has a book nearby. She is content escaping her mundane high school reality in the fantasies of her books–especially a swoony paranormal romance. She has a small, close-knit group of friends, band, archery, and knitting. She doesn’t necessarily want more than that.

Then her best friend Em tries to play matchmaker between Phoebe and dreamy fellow band geek and drama nerd Dev. Phoebe isn’t sure how to feel about Dev potentially liking her or how to navigate her own maybe-crush on him.

So she turns to the heroines in all of her favorite books, of course, for advice on how to overhaul her wardrobe, flirt, and generally be awesome.

But it turns out fictional romances don’t always translate well to reality. If Phoebe wants her own happy ending, she might have to figure out the answer herself in Bookishly Ever After (2016) by Isabel Bandeira.

Find it on Bookshop.

Bookishly Ever After is the first book in Bandeira’s contemporary Ever After trilogy.

Bookishly Ever After is narrated by Phoebe and includes her “notes” on passages from her favorite novels complete with excerpts and Phoebe’s own underlining and commentary.

Phoebe is a realistic sixteen-year-old who is refreshingly content with her life, friends, and family at the start of the novel. Although Phoebe spends a lot of the story figuring out how to deal with Dev, she remains self-actualized and very aware that her own happiness and fulfillment comes first. She is bookish and fun without being overly precocious–in other words Phoebe sounds and acts her age which isn’t always as common as it should be.

Set over the course of several months in the school year, Phoebe and Dev have a slow courtship as they circle each other and as Phoebe tries to make sense of her own conflicted feelings. Fictional crushes were always enough for her before so the prospect of a real crush–not to mention actual dating–initially feels overwhelming.

Phoebe’s friends are all supportive and memorable with distinct personalities that Bandeira conveys expertly through brief descriptions and asides. Em initially comes across as overbearing but through Phoebe’s eyes readers soon understand the strength and importance of their friendship. It’s also great to see all of the characters have a variety of interests and refuse to be classified as any one thing.

Bookishly Ever After is a fun romance with authentic characters and delightful dialogue. This sweet story is sure to leave readers smiling. Recommended for bookish readers looking for a bubbly new contemporary.

Possible Pairings: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre, Nothing by Annie Barrows, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Royals by Rachel Hawkins, Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks, Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan, Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roate, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

You can also check out my interview with Isabel.

*A copy of this title was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2016*