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I did a really fun interview with author Kate Avery Ellison last year during FTF about THE CURSE GIRL.
I've also featured an interview with Kate about OF SEA AND STONE, along with an excerpt, and always love chatting with her! I was so glad to finally have time to read THE CURSE GIRL for this year's event!
CINDER AND ELLA first hit my radar when fellow book blogger Literally Jen mentioned that she was editing Kelly Oram's new book and it was going to be a Cinderella retelling. The two of us are friends on Facebook, and as the book's launch approached, I was invited to a big launch party for CINDER AND ELLA that would have various authors and guests visiting Facebook and posting about Cinderella, and lots of prizes, too. The e-book would also be a special price that day only, so of course I snapped it up and took part!
Ellamara had it all...until the day a fatal car accident changed her life forever. Her mother didn't survive, and she only barely did. She was in a coma for six months and has deep scars that will last the rest of her life. When Ella was little, her father left and remarried. Now, Ella must live with him, her stepmother, and her two stepsisters. Everyone pities her for her experience, and at school, she's brutally made fun of. Her only solace is when she turns on the computer to chat with her e-mail penpal Cinder. What she doesn't know is that Cinder is really Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver. Brian was just cast as the leading character Cinder in the next best-selling movie franchise The Cinder Chronicles, based on a best-selling book series. This is the same Cinder whose alias he has claimed online and been using all these years, and the book series is the same one that Ellamara's mother named her from! Their worlds will never collide because the two will never meet...right?
I love the way this book is a little bit of a retelling, but also not. It's very modern-day and original, too. The idea of splitting up the name Cinderella, turning it into two names, and pulling the reasoning from a best-selling book series is pretty interesting. This is also a book that celebrates Geek culture, which events such as FantasyCon reminding me of the craziness that takes place today at Comic-Con. Panels, character dress-up, all that good stuff! It also explores social media and the way you can be amazing friends with someone online despite never meeting, or perhaps only talking to that person on the phone. I was in an online writer's group years ago and became close friends with several of them. Some of them, I've exchanged Christmas cards with, spent hours on the phone with, and/or even met in person. I understand that culture so well, and completely got the way Cinder and Ella could bond so closely over something they loved without ever meeting.
I also like the fact that Ella isn't your stereotypical blonde, but of Chilean descent. Here's another book to proudly wear a badge in the campaign to bring more diversity to YA literature!
There are a lot of other cliche Cinderella stereotypes missing from the novel as well. Ella isn't a servant in her own home. Her stepmother isn't evil. Her father is still alive. Etc, etc. I'll leave it to you to discover what's the same and what's new, because part of the fun in reading a retelling--to me, at least--is the surprise in finding these little nuggets myself, rather than having them all spoiled for me.
CINDER AND ELLA is a fun, fast read. It's both light-hearted and serious, both fairy tale and not. It's a modern-day, contemporary novel without any fantasy elements (Unless, of course, you count the genre of wish fulfillment novels as fantasy, which I sort of do, lol!). I was able to read this in one sitting, and would recommend it if you're looking for something different and new.