Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back—Review

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson is amazingly fun! I loved it!

It's got all the humor and sass of Meg Cabot and Louise Rennison, but without all the inappropriate stuff (language, sexiness).

If you like those authors or Janette Rallison's funny Young Adult reads, you'll definitely like this book!

From the publisher:
Ever wanted to punch Cinderella in the face? Mattie Lowe can relate.

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you're the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you've had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie's secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

 Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She'll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie's going to rule the school. And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her. 

I always like to get the down-side of a review over with first. So, book cover. Meh. Not really a good one. But don't let that stop you from giving this book a try.

It's also self-published and I know that automatically puts some readers off. But really. This is good. It's awesome fun. I promise you, it has NONE of the annoying stuff that a lot of self-pubbed stuff has in it. (And I like it better than her previous historical fiction that was traditionally published.)

And that's about all I can think of to say bad about this book. Now for the really good stuff.

Ugly Stepsister has a fun plot. Some of the plot points have been done before but this story has a unique feel to it. There are some great twists. Lots of angsty teen emotion but tempered with humor.

The characters are great. Mattie is solid and likeable. Her sister, Ella, is believable. The supporting characters are well-written and have distinct personalities.

Sariah Wilson has hit her sweet-spot with the voice of Mattie. Clever, fun, young, trendy. I can't wait to read more in this style from her.

5 FULL STARS! I whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who loves fun contemporary YA romances.

AND…Serendipitously, the Kindle version is on sale
right now for only 99¢!

FTC Disclaimer: I think I got the ebook when it was free on Amazon. Can't remember for sure, but it wasn't given to me with the expectation of a review.

Monday, May 20, 2013

When the Butterflies Came — Review

Kimberley Griffiths Little writes Middle Grade fiction. All of her books contain a little bit of magic—and I love them.

Including this new one, When the Butterflies Came.

From the publisher:
Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.

A strange butler shows up to take Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the keys more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful island of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.

From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.

Part mystery, part magic, Butterflies intrigued me from the very first line: "The butterfly comes the day after the funeral." Tara has lost her Grammy, who was very much the stabilizing influence in her life. She grieves for her, while trying to cope with all the changes her grammy's death brings—some of them not very pleasant. All of the main characters were well-written and distinct.

The plot moves a little more slowly than Little's previous books, but that gives the reader time to savor and enjoy the writing style, characterization, and detail of the setting. The writing is beautiful. Like her previous books, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, Little absolutely nails the geography and character accents. Her scenes and descriptions are vivid, making me wish I was there on that island with Tara. The details about the butterflies are amazing. And the dialog, as always, is dead-on accurate.

The mystery is age-appropriate. There's a little violence, but it's not too graphic. And I absolutely love the ending.

I recommend this book for middle grade readers, ages 8 to 12 and give it 4 1/2 stars.

Here is a photo of me with Kimberley Griffiths Little at a writing conference.

FTC Disclaimer: I won a copy of When the Butterflies Came in a blog contest. There was no obligation to review it.