Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Review and giveaway-Cinders

“With her fairy godmother imprisoned in the castle and a mysterious stranger haunting her dreams, Cinderella is on her own to discover true love untainted by magic.”

These intriguing lines drew me into Cinders, a debut novella by Michelle Davidson Argyle. Michelle had several challenges to overcome right from the start of this novel. One, she changed the tone of a much-beloved fairytale. Two, because it was a novella, she didn’t have a lot of time to delve into the intricacies of her world. And three, her main character had a flaw that made her hard to like. Now, if I stopped here, you might think, why would I ever buy that book? Which is why I’m not going to stop here. I’m going to tell you how Argyle overcame the challenges and won me over.

The tone: This isn't your daughter's Cinderella. If you're looking for a light fluffy fairytale, this isn't for you. This book is meant for a mature audience (no jokes about my maturity level). Because this book takes place after the “happily ever after” we get to see some doubts Cinderella is having. Cinderella having doubts about her prince? I know, that’s what I thought. But Michelle explained how the magic used to make the prince notice Cinderella made her question whether his love was real. That made sense to me and made it easier to understand her doubts. Plus, it added this darker undertone to the story of Cinderella that served as the backdrop for the entire novel and made some dark events that take place, not seem out of place.

The length: I would’ve loved to delve further into the world of the novel, but unfortunately, due to the brevity of a novella, it just wasn’t possible. The fact that I wanted more, though, is a good sign. What I did learn about the world and its history was unique and compelling.

Cinderella’s flaw: Cinderella was a bit selfish, which made her hard to like. Hard to like characters can sometimes lead to hard to like books. But not in this case. In order for the ending (which I LOVED) to take place, we needed to see Cinderella’s flaws.

These overcome challenges mixed with beautiful imagery made Cinders a novella that Argyle can be proud of.

To learn more about Michelle or to purchase a copy of Cinders, go here.

Good news! You have a chance to win a signed copy of your very own. Leave a comment on this post to be entered. Entries as follows: *comment +1pt *be/become a follower +2pts. *tweet or blog about this contest +3pts. Contest ends next Tuesday at midnight and winner will be announced next Wednesday. Good luck!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--The key to a clean house

Send your kids to school. The end.

Okay, not the end. School starts today. Three of my four children will be gone all day. I usually celebrate this day as the day the fighting ceases, the day the teachers take over the title of tattle-tale referee, the day my house stays cleaner for longer periods of time. But today my oldest starts Junior High. When did that happen? And the me that normally dances around my house having a "my kids are back in school" party-for-one is suddenly quite somber. I'm trying to figure out why. Is it because:

a. I'm realizing that in order to have a child in Junior High I must be getting old.
b. My first born is about to start the two years of life that should be skipped over or repressed.
c. In two years I will have no children left at home.
d. All of the above.

Yes, I gave you a back to school quiz.

Hopefully by this time next week, I will have made it through the first week of Junior High and all will be well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Seeing Clearer

I'm getting Lasik surgery today. Wish me luck. Yesterday they dilated my pupils to.....uh......I'm really not sure why that was necessary. Maybe they wanted to see what I would look like as a creature of the night. The answer: Pretty awesome. The nurse said: Whoa! Your eyes reacted REALLY good to that medicine. It didn't feel so good though. Weird fact: When your pupils are dilated they can't focus so you actually see worse. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there but I'm too lazy to find it. I promise I'll visit blogs tomorrow.....if I can see.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--I need some.

Last week I received a very exciting letter in the mail. Well, technically, I didn't receive it, my parents did. It was addressed to the parents of Kasie West (spelled right and everything). It was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to study abroad--in China--for one semester of high school. It promised to expand my awareness of cultures and places, broaden my learning experience, provide excitement and diversity in my life. The letter said I had been hand picked for this opportunity that is only available to a handful of students, that this letter was my ticket to a bright future. A future of visiting places like this:

Now, I'm sure you can see my dilemma. I graduated from high school 16 years ago. This is where you come in. I have been providing you with priceless advice for months. Now I need your help. I must study abroad in China for a semester. Help me figure out how I can either pass off as a high school student or create a time machine. If a time machine is successfully created, I also need to figure out how to change the date on the letter, because right now it reads August 3, 2010. That would be a dead give away that I'm from the future. Thank you for the unhelpful advice I am about to receive.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

San Francisco

I was going to write a cute and clever post about my time in San Francisco with my dear friend Natalie Whipple, but she went ahead and did the work for me. I second everything she said. So refer to this post for a report of my amazing time. And I will add that accompanying someone to the city where they based one of their books is almost as fun as visiting my own book cities. It's vicarious excitement.  (Plus, I have a vested interest in her book as well since I've read it so many times. I could see her characters as we walked through the city. It was so fun.)

Oh, and one more thing:

Dear San Francisco,

I love you. You are beautiful. Please lower your housing prices so I can afford to live in one of your colorful houses (preferably the purple one with blue trim). Also, please tell people not to honk at me so much when I'm driving. It's not my fault that other cars stop in front of me, put their hazards on, and get out of their car. (It may have been my fault when I pulled into the middle of the intersection, however, and had to wait there for three minutes because there was a car behind me and I couldn't back up. In my defense, I didn't realize it was a double intersection.) Please let me know when you have taken care of these two problems and I will grow out my bangs (I know you and bangs aren't friends) and pack.



Monday, August 2, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-What makes a great movie

As mentioned in my last post, my husband recently signed us up for netflix and I've been obsessive. Take what you would normally consider "a lot" and then double it. That's how many movies I've watched in the last two weeks. (Yes, I have an addictive personality. It's a good thing I don't drink.) So, today I will answer the question: What makes a great movie (for me)??

To make it onto my husband's list of "best movies of all time" a movie has to have one of the following three plot devices (if it has all three it is epic): 1. Time Travel 2. Alien Presence 3. Underdog rising to the top (preferably in sports). Some of his favs: Back to the future, Rocky (all fifty of them), Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, Tron

Someone would just have to make a movie about a loser traveling back in time and saving the world from a hoard of aliens then coming home as the hero and my husband would love it.

And apparently these are the types of movies I like because I keep picking movie after movie with the following themes:

*Troubled teenager who has to learn something life changing in order to overcome angst (and get the guy).
*Young women from the 1800s who spend the whole movie fighting with and/or pining after the guy and the last five minutes finally telling him how she really feels.
*Young women from today who spend the whole movie fighting with and/or pining after the guy and the last five minutes finally telling him how she really feels.

Why must I torture my poor heart with so many coming-of-age/pining romances? Seriously, it's killing me to watch the guy my heroine likes frolic all around England (or high school) with the totally silly, shallow girl. Must stop watching movies and read more. I can read about teenagers pining after werewolves (I get Linger today--Yay) which is a totally different scenario.

What about you? What plot points make up some of your favorite movies?