8 Rated Books Book Reviews Giveaways Joint Review

Joint Review & Giveaway: One Con Glory by Sarah Kuhn

It’s Alert Nerd Day at The Book Smugglers! Today we take a look at Alert Nerd Press – an independent digital publisher dedicated to making geek-centric fiction and nonfiction for the discriminating nerd, both online and in print.

Title: One Con Glory

Author: Sarah Kuhn

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Geek-lit, Romance, Novella

Publisher: Alert Nerd Press
Publication Date: November 2009
Paperback: 103 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone novella

How did we get this book: Review copy from the author

Why did we read this book: We love the geektastic blog that is Alert Nerd, having been introduced to the folks over there earlier this year for their “That’s My Scott and Jean” bonanza. So, when bloggers/authors Matt Springer and Sarah Kuhn contacted us with an opportunity to read and review their novellas, we eagerly accepted!

Summary: (from AlertNerdPress.com)
Diehard fangirl Julie loves Buffy marathons, fighting about comic book continuity, and being left alone.

But more than anything, Julie loves Glory Gilmore, a mostly-forgotten C-List superheroine from the world of ’80s comics.

For years, she’s longed to reclaim the precious Glory action figure that’s eluded her grasp so many times before. And one fateful weekend, she has the chance to do just that.

Of course, no great quest is ever simple. Before she can triumph over the forces of loudmouth nerds and clueless Mundanes everywhere, Julie will have to deal with an avalanche of unexpected obstacles. In the midst of battles for videogame supremacy and frustrating encounters with a supremely irritating TV pretty boy, she’ll be forced to reconsider her fandom and reevaluate her life.

She might even have to talk to people.


First Impressions:

Thea: I was actually a little nervous starting this novella – I don’t think I’ve ever known an author before reading their work. I love author Sarah Kuhn’s online voice, but writing fiction is a horse of a different color if y’know what I’m sayin’. But, a few pages into One Con Glory made me realize that I really need not have been so worried – because this is one damn awesome, geektastic book. Well written, zippily paced, with a healthy smattering of nerdiness and romance, One Con Glory totally rocks. I loved it.

Ana: Holy Lord of the Rings! This novella is bloody fantastic! Starting with the nifty title, and the cool cover, plus with the inside being awesomely well written, in a perfect balance of geekness and romance. In other words: this is a M.F.A. (Made For Ana) book and I am totally in love with it.

On the Plot: The basic premise is simple – a diehard Glory Gilmore fangirl and press writer named Julie attends GinormoCon as part of her job. While she’s there, she has the opportunity to interview Jack Camden – pretty boy star of the television adaptation of her favorite superhero comic, Periodic Seven. Julie goes to her one-on-one with her skepticism in check, but her own jaded expectations firmly ingrained – she immediately sizes Jack up to be another one of those irritatingly pretty but basically vapid actors that knows nothing of the source material he’s portraying. Imagine her shock, then, when she discovers that not only is Camden a fanboy, but a genuinely nice guy with an inner-geek? On this trip to GinormoCon, Julie’s curmudgeonly world view is about to be rocked, from the most unexpected sources.

Thea: One Con Glory is written in a brisk, sure-handed style, split into three separate parts. I cannot stress enough how clever this novella is, in both form and function. Each of the three parts begins with an entry from Julie’s blog, GloryGilmoreLives.com, and each entry pertains to the following story – whether it be about the Glory Gilmore action figures Julie has lost, the inviolability of the Prime Directive, or the lurking, indestructible nemesis that is Schmthulu. It’s also kinda cool how there are three parts of the story, and there are three Glory Gilmore action figures that Julie has lost over the course of her life.

So far as the actual writing and plotting are concerned, there’s nothing more I could have asked for from One Con Glory. It’s fast, it’s sweet, it’s got all the popgeek references you could want and manages to integrate those into the story without ever sounding forced (it never feels like Julie is using popgeek culture references to show off how incredibly cool/ingrained in the culture she is; rather, it feels natural). I also have to commend Sarah Kuhn for choosing to create a non-existent superheroine and comic as her central icon in the story. Glory Gilmore is an obscure heroine that does not exist in the DC/Marvel/etc cannon – and I think this was a wise choice. Instead of turning into some ode to Wonder Woman or Jean Grey which might have been awkward or could have overwhelmed the story, this fictitious Glory Gilmore is a completely fresh character that allows us to understand Julie’s connection to the heroine, more so than focusing on the superheroine herself.

Ana: Yes, yes what Thea said. But MORE. I cannot stress enough how much I loved this short story for its cleverness and heart. In a small, confined space of 100 pages, Sarah Kuhn manages to write a story with a past, a present and a future without EVER getting sidetracked.

It is a fresh story because the geekness of the main character feels genuine; it is an unique story because it invents a whole series of comics, with amazing story arcs that matter to Julie and it connects the dots of her life. I am being cryptic on purpose because there is a revelation of sorts relate to Glory Gilmore’s arc and Julie‘s arc. It is a heartwarming story because this is not about plot, it is about character and we all know that is just my cup of tea. It also helps that I know what the Prime Directive is and I too have an opinion on the most important issue of whether Scott and Jean are the ultimate Marvel pairing or not.

This is a fast read, a smart read, an awesome read. Sarah Kuhn is ready, folks. I welcome her to my reading world with open arms and I beg for MORE.

On the Characters:

Thea: Just as with the writing, the characters are fantastic – they are the heart of this story, and damn if I didn’t love them. Julie, our intrepid heroine, narrates the novella in the first person. She’s incredibly funny, she’s intelligent, she’s got a biting wit – but this also means that she’s a bit abrasive and emotionally closed off. She protects herself with her hard outward demeanor, yet Ms. Kuhn allows us glimpses behind the facade as Julie’s walls (or should I say shields?) are slowly worn down. To accomplish all of this in a full length novel, to create a heroine as compelling and layered as Julie, is no small feat. To do it in a scant 100-some pages? Now that’s impressive. I loved Julie. I loved how flawed and very human she is – and I love that when it comes down to it and she’s gotta close her eyes and take the emotional plunge, she handles it.

Of course, there’s also Jack Camden. I picture Jack as one of those pretty CW boys – you know what I mean:

Basically, Jack is the holy grail for fangirls. He’s gorgeous, he’s smart, he’s sensitive, and – oh yeah – he’s also an ubergeek who knows his comics, is a badass at guitar hero, and can talk about continuity snafus until the cows come home. Despite being so obviously compelling, Jack also has some nice development over the course of the novella. Yeah, he’s a bit of a too-good-to-be-true heartthrob, but he’s also vulnerable and puts himself out there for Julie. And that’s cool.

There are two secondary characters who also deserve mentions – Braidbeard (nicknamed for his…braided beard) and Mitch (Julie’s best bud). I liked the animosity that underlies Julie and Braidbeard’s friendship (a scene later in the book really makes both of these characters come together) and I loved Mitch and Julie’s friendship as well. Mitch in particular has a fabulous scene with Julie where he calls her out on her crap – and again, it feels completely real. I loved it all.

Ana: I too, loved the characters – all of them. Julie though, takes the cake for being a fully-realised, fleshed out character, with real issues to deal with. She comes across at first as standoff-ish, somewhat abrasive woman, always with an Opinion about everything. I loved her character arc, the self-evaluation that she does and the realisation that she needs to put herself out there and take the risk. And I loved how there was this parallel in which she reclaims both a Glory Gilmore and her own heart.

Then, there is Jack. Holy Smokes, Batman! Jack is the dream guy for any self-proclaimed fangirl: someone who is both hot and geek, shy and confident and above all, emotionally available. He is not without his own issues though, which makes him human rather than merely a wet dream.

I loved their relationship and I especially LOVED the progression of their story and how Sarah Kuhn inserted a bit of sex and a bit of mystery too. The Guitar Hero scene? Akin to everything I love about romance. And so help me Yoda when I read the scene with the Glory Gilmore connection, I said to myself: this woman, she can SO write.
Mitch and Braidbeard were great secondary characters as well each being a counterpart to a side of Julie. One being a friend, the one a nemesis (and everyone needs a nemesis).

To sum up, I loved it all, dudes! And I will shup up now with my muy lameo attempt at being cleverly geek as it is clear I will never ever be as smart as Sarah Kuhn.

Final Thoughts, Observations and Rating:

Thea: If you couldn’t tell, I loved this novella. I loved it. With its prickly (but lovable) heroine, tongue-in-cheek look at conventions, and genuinely heartwarming romance, One Con Glory has it all. (Yes, I just used our blurb right there shut up don’t judge me!)

Ana: (Thea, you cheeky monkey! Damn you for getting there first!). One Con Glory has a perfect mix of everything I love: popgeekery and romance; great writing, plotting and great characters and I LOVED it.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Hey! You can read an excerpt of One Con Glory online!

July 17, 2009
8:46 in the fucking morning.

The food court hurts my eyes. And my nose. And my…general sense of decency.

Let’s be real: the food court hurts everything.

Especially when it’s 8:46 in the fucking morning and my best friend is trying to convince me that tater tots make for a balanced breakfast.

“You know you want it.”

Mitch Caplan waves a deep-fried glob of starch under my nose, a devilish grin playing across his broad, freckle-specked face. Shuddering, I bat his hand away.

8:47 now. Thirteen more minutes in this fragrant, brightly lit haven of over-processed food-like objects. I fidget in my rickety plastic chair, trying to block out sight and smell and sound.

“—because you’re never guaranteed a good crispiness level with french fry breading, but those McDonald’s hash brown thingies are almost too much with the crunch. Am I right? Are you even listening to me?”

“What? I mean…yes.” I shift around so I’m facing Mitch and widen my eyes into a passable expression of true attentiveness. He grins and pops another tot in his mouth.

“You are so not listening,” he says through a mouthful of golden-brown greaseball. “What’s wrong, Julie? GinormoCon anticipation killin’ ya dead?”

Before I can retort, a nasal voice cuts through the hazy, lard-scented air. “She’s got stuff on her mind, Mitchell. Suckin’ up to nerdlebrities is a lot of frakkin’ work.”

Our heads turn and there he is, an amalgam of pasty skin and beanpole limbs and pure smugginess. I narrow my eyes as he slides into a vacant seat at our minuscule table. “Braidbeard,” I mutter. More of a tossed-off epithet than an actual greeting.

“How do you do that?” marvels Mitch. “It’s like you just…appear. Out of nowhere.”

Braidbeard swipes a tater tot and stuffs it in his mouth. “I have superpowers or whatever.”

Right. Because arguing about DC continuity holes ’til you’re blue in the face is a superpower now.

The source of his nickname—a scraggly beard, carefully arranged into three unkempt braids—dances back and forth as he chomps on the pilfered tot. “Double-u tee eff with that chick they just hired on Powers That Be?” he brays, eyes goggling behind his aggressively hip clunky glasses. “Are they actively trying to get cancelled? Because she’s what I like to call a show-killer.”

I groan and slump back in my seat, scanning the food court. Save for a trio of fresh-faced Skrulls huddled over a plate of nachos, we are apparently the only ones who felt the need to stake out the L.A. Convention Center minutes—nine minutes!—before the GinormoCon doors open.

I was hoping to avoid any and all classic Braidbeard dissertations on Why Everything Sucks today, but that’s what I get for hanging out with Mitch. The boys work together at the entertainment website CinePlanet.com, writing quickie reviews and reporting on “exclusive” news bits. Perhaps sensing that being co-workers = forced camaraderie, Braidbeard leeches onto Mitch every chance he gets. And Mitch—a genial, 6’2” mountain of a man who projects an uncomplicated sort of goodwill—lets him.

You can read the full excerpt online HERE.

Additional Thoughts: One Con Glory comes in a pretty sweet package. The cover is fun and really captures the spirit of the novella, AND there are also three great illustrations within from three talented artists (Max Riffner, Pj Perez, and Benjamin Birdie). The book also includes some cool extras: an interview of author Sarah Kuhn with one of her characters (Braidbeard), a list and explanation of each character’s favorite Buffy episodes, and (in awesome Rachel Caine style) a playlist.

Also, you’ll be pleased to learn that Julie’s blog in the novella, Glory Gilmore Lives, is actually a fun mock-blog online! Complete with vintage Buffy the Vampire Slayer reviews and other assorted geek goodness, it’s a pretty awesome fake blog. Definitely worth checking out!


Thea: 8 – Excellent

Ana: 8 – Excellent

Reading Next: Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson


Giveaway Details:

We are giving away a totally awesome prize pack to ONE lucky winner! Included in the pack is a copy of One Con Glory, as well as a gorgeous, fangirl-worthy Phoenix tee (size Large), designed by Chris Stewart.

The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada ONLY. In order to enter, leave a comment here telling us who YOUR favorite superheroine is, and why. The contest will run until Saturday, November 7 at 11:59 PM (Pacific). Good luck!

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  • Celia
    November 6, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Oh, fabulous! I want to win! Only thing is…I don’t really have a favorite superheroine. There were more options (and favorites) on the male end of the hero/heroine spectrum.
    BUT! I did like Elasti-Girl from the Disney/Pixar film The Incredibles. Hope that counts!

  • Caroline
    November 6, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    My favorite superheroine is Jean Grey. Because of that awesome T-shirt!

    I mean — because she’s like that cool big sister you always wanted to have, because she understands the merits of superserious Boy Scout-types *and* rugged short Canadians with claws and ridiculous hair. And because she could totally kick your ass, whoever you happen to be.

  • Adrienne
    November 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    hmmmmmmmmm….pretty CW guys 😆 -one of the only reasons I watch VD

  • Sigrid Ellis
    November 6, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Ooh!! A Phoenix shirt AND One Con Glory!

    My favorite superheroine is Rachel Summers-Grey, aka Marvel Girl II, aka Phoenix II. Who can never *quite* live up to her mother’s legend, and is too messed-up to ever be a straightforward superhero, but who keeps trying.

  • Miss Marjie
    November 6, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    How about an anti-hero? Go Black Widow! She can send people to hell. That’s pretty useful. It’s okay to be possessed by Satan if you do something interesting with your time!

  • Renee
    November 6, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    This review warms my geek-girl heart!

    I’d have to go with Storm as my favorite heroine. Not only does she look super-cool, but controlling the weather and a leader makes her a great heroine.

    Looking forward to picking this novella up!

  • Nikki O
    November 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I love geektastic books!

    My favorite is probably (still) Batgirl. I grew up as a total Batgirl fangirl. I think I even had an action figure and a PEZ dispenser to boot. Anyway, Barbara Gordon is a strong, independent butt-kicker who is kind of an inspiration for young (geeky) girls growing up. And when Barbara’s not off fighting crime, she’s a smart career woman with a doctorate and solid sense of self. What’s not to love?

  • Roxy
    November 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I love all the X-Men chicas but I think I have to go with Rogue. I love that blond streak and her power is pretty sweet. She’s got the whole thwarted love thing going on… *sigh* I think I’m going to shed a tear.

  • Anika
    November 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm


    I have a few beloved superheroines but my absolute favourite has to be: Lorna Dane aka Polaris. I don’t know if I can explain why in under 1000 words so I’m going to quote Hemingway: The world breaks all of us and some are strong at the broken places. That’s Lorna. Strong at the broken places.

  • Ava North
    November 6, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I have to say Rogue. She’s got an awesome power, she’s strong, loved her accent in the old Xmen cartoon; Added bonus she gets Gambit. What’s not to love.

  • Amanda
    November 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    My favorite superheroine is Buffy, because she’s strong when it comes to slaying, but weak when it comes to loving. (Maybe she doesn’t quite count, but she totally has super-powers!)

  • Jennifer
    November 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Well, this is certainly worth entering! (Of course, I’ll be buying the book myself if I don’t win. 🙂 )

    My favorite superheroine — though a few others come close — is She-Hulk, because she’s my personal Mary Sue. A shy, nerdy girl named Jennifer who magically becomes confident and strong while staying smart? Sign me up!

  • Lisa B.
    November 6, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    My fav super woman? I’d have to say Jean Grey from the X-Men. One word, telekinesis. A better super power I have yet to find. Plus she gets to go crazy and become the Phoenix. Gotta love that plot line.

  • Kearsten
    November 6, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    As a teen, I LOVED Rogue, but now…Not being able to make-out with Gambit would be the WORST.

  • Danielle
    November 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Favorite heroine…hm…I REALLY like Raven from the old Teen Titans comics. She’s so moody in the greatest way.

  • Jen D.
    November 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    My all time favorite heroine is Storm. Being able to control the weather AND being able to rock a mohawk at the same time….FEROSH! :mrgreen:


  • Ren
    November 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    My fav superheroine would have to be Wonder Woman; she’s classic!
    This sounds like a great read, and I hope I win! 🙂

  • Kitten
    November 6, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Catwoman is my absolute favorite and I contend she is a heroine rather than villian. Of course, my name and email address have the word kitten in them, so make of that what you will.

    That book sounds deliciously geeky!

  • Sarah
    November 6, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Oh god, I suck at questions like these… I was OBSESSED with Storm when I was in elementary school, so I’m going to go with her. I also hate humidity, so if I had her power, Maryland would never be the same…

    And damn, I’m never going to have time to work if you all keep finding such good books!

  • Beth
    November 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Sounds like a great book so I’m going to delurkify (my superpower) to make it mine.
    It was a tough choice but I have to go with Catwoman. A wonderful anti-heroine. She’s a conflicted, selfish, self confident, self sufficient bitch and I love her.

  • Jonnie H
    November 6, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I would have to pick the Bionic Woman.

  • RKCharron
    November 7, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Hi 🙂
    I hadn’t heard of One Con Glory before but I enjoyed the excerpt. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
    All the best,

  • KDBryan
    November 7, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Yeesh. That is a really tough question!

    As much as I love Huntress and Emma Frost, I think I have to go with She-Hulk. She’s one of the few superheroines who seems to genuinely have fun kicking butt and being awesome in both her regular and superhero life. Plus, I’m a sucker for any superpower connected to self-confidence. 🙂

  • Cait
    November 7, 2009 at 7:06 am

    This is a great review, One Con Glory sounds like an awesoem book!

    I wasn’t into comics much when I was younger, so the only realy superherione I can remember actively liking was Storm from X-men. Powers over the weather, white hair? How cool would that be!
    (Though if Buffy counts, I pick her. I’m a complete Buffy fan. Talk about a strong, kick-ass woman!)

  • Petula Darling
    November 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Definitely Buffy – I can’t believe her superhero status is being debated! She has super speed, skill and strength and she devotes her life to battling evil.
    Buffy’s my favorite because she’s so easy to relate to. She may have superpowers, but she still has to deal with mundane things like homework, heartbreak and finding that perfect pair of boots on sale.

  • Joanne
    November 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Awesome contest! The book sounds great and I’m digging the tee!!
    My first instinct was to say Jean is my fave, but with more thought I’d have to go with Rahne Sinclair aka Wolfsbane – mainly because she started out at Xaviers school as a very timid girl scared of who she was but throughout the progression of the X-Franchise became such a strong supporting hero on many of the X-teams. Plus I think being able to go wolfy while still keeping your human mind would be brilliant (and fun!) 😀

  • Linda Henderson
    November 7, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I would have to say my favorite would be Wonder Woman.

  • Stacie
    November 7, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    My favourite superheroine is Catwoman.

  • Thuy
    November 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I always love Catwoman. She has that fearless attitude i love.

  • Nicole Downing
    November 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I like the girls from X-Men!

  • Lisa
    November 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Of course I choose my Halloween creation of about a decade ago: TAPEGIRL. She fixes all wrongs with tape all while dressed in a duct tape ensemble. If I have to choose a “real” superheroine I guess I would have to say Wonderwoman. Wearing a bathing suit version of her outfit, I was finally able to conquer the deep end of the pool during JCC summer swim lessons.

  • Rebecca B
    November 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Storm from X-Men. She was totally my favorite growing up.

  • Tenya
    November 7, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Batgirl, because Batman is my idol. Followed by a close second of Sarah Kuhn, with her geektastic awesomeness!

    Can’t wait to read it Sarah!

  • Lynz
    November 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Yoruichi from Bleach. I love everything about her. She’s not exactly a traditional superheroine – she’s not human at all, and her battles are generally centered in a non-human realm – but she’s one of my favourite characters in any series.

  • Jenny N
    November 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    My favourite superheroine is Sailormoon. I loved the show when I was a kid and grew up watching her. I like how Serena is a big klutz and the great love story between her and Darien. Its also about the friendships between the sailor scouts.

  • Katee R
    November 8, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I always liked Kitty Pride. She was just so normal and cool and I was devastated when she disappeared into space after saving earth in Astonishing X-Men.

  • Gef
    November 9, 2009 at 10:07 am

    It’s a difficult choice, but I may have to go with Catwoman. Sure, she’s more villain than hero at times, but she has done the hero bit on occasion. I’m needn’t mention the costume, but the acrobatic prowess and efficiency with a whip make her all the more cooler.

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