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Bending the Spine

Monday, May 30, 2011

Early Review: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget. (Goodreads)

Paperback, 208 pages
Expected publication: November 8th 2011 by Bonneville Books
ISBN13: 9781599559063

I studied different versions of Cinderella in one of many lit classes I took while in college.  I had no idea so  many cultures had similar tales of a rags-and-ashes to riches story.  Melissa Lemon’s story is nothing like these.  It has all the makings of a great drama, and dare I say it, a great movie (hint! hint! directors everywhere).

I became fascinated with Cinder and Ella from the very beginning of the prologue, through the last page of the epilogue.  Lemon’s writing is poignant, beautiful, artistic.  She paints a picture with every sentence.  The characters have depth and continue to grow through the end of the tale.  Ella’s snarky and sarcastic, while Cinder is kind and gentle.  Tanner is idealistic and clumsy, and above all, valiant.

The Prince is the shakiest of all the characters.  He is shallow, and I don’t mean conceited.  He has no depth.  His motives are weak.  ***SPOILER ALERT*** He tortured the family of Willow Top simply because of a defiant child, because a very young Ella could already see through this motives.  Really?  That’s the whole reason he’s putting Cinder and Ella through this?  I just really did not understand why Lemon did not create some greater purpose for all the tragedy.

Cinder and Ella does not have the typical charming Prince, evil stepsister, or wicked stepmother.  It does have adventure, sorrow, and a bit of magic.  And, yes, there is romance.  It is heartwarming and sad, victorious and unsuccessful.  But adds up to completely wonderful story!
So one question remains, the question that Tanner, the good knight, asks of the prince’s low advisor, begs to be answered by those who want to read this book: “Will you please investigate the two girls who are dependent upon us to help them? Something is not right.  It involves a servant girl in the kingdom castle, with hair as the ashes in the fire circle when the fire is long out.  It involves her sister, a virtuous and fair maiden who deserves nothing but goodness.  And it involves a prince, one that we are both unfortunately acquainted with, and whose evil knows no bounds.” (page 84)

5 Stars: Exciting and wonderful! 

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

Friday, May 27, 2011

Early Review: Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten! by Trisha Speed Shaskan

Honestly, Red Riding Hood was rotten!  Of course you thing I did a horrible thing by eating Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny.  You don’t know the other side of the story.  Well, let me tell you…
(From back cover of book)
  • Pub. Date: August 2011
  • Publisher: Coughlan Publishing
  • Format: Paperback , 24pp
  • Series: The Other Side of the Story
  • ISBN-13: 9781404870468
  • ISBN: 1404870466
    (Barnes & Noble)
I love reading fairy tales from different countries, points of view, etc.  So, I was immediately interested in reading this!  Shaskan did not disappoint!  Even though the book is incredibly short (at only 24 pages!), it is fun, funny, and a page turner.  The illustrations are fantastic!  There is a “Think About It” section at the end of the book that is a great guide to get young readers thinking about perspective and how that changes how events are perceived.
5 Stars: I will check out other stories in this series!
Many Adventures, Richard

*This pre-release book was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Listen by Rene Gutteridge


The quaint, close-knit community of Marlo was the ideal place to live . . . until someone started posting private conversations online for everyone to read, word for word. Now it’s neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, as careless comments and hurtful accusations turn the town upside down. Violence and paranoia escalate, and the police scramble to find the person responsible before more people get hurt—or even killed.

But what responsibility do the residents of Marlo have for the words they say when they think no one is listening?

  • Paperback, 350 pages
  • Published February 1st 2010 by Tyndale House Publishers (first published 2010)
  • ISBN 1414324332 (ISBN13: 9781414324333)


Words are powerful and we know it.  The way we choose words when we are angry, we withhold them to hurt someone—we use their power to elicit the reactions and responses we want.  Gutteridge takes this willful use of words and pushes it to its extremes.

The cast of characters are all extremes: extreme insecurity, extreme idealism, extreme mysteriousness.  She handles them all with the finesse of a world-class surgeon, tweaking minute details in thoughts and actions to to allow us as readers to experience the same emotions, thoughts, insecurities as her characters.  Bravo, Mrs. Gutteridge. 

There is so much going on, and we see through so many different eyes, that at times there was too much self-reflection, too much introspection, too many unnecessary words.  The book could have been shorter, maybe should have been.  And in this paradox lies my only complaint: I figured it out.  I knew who did it.  I didn’t know the why, but the who was sort of a dead giveaway.  And I’m not one of those people who figure things out.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction because they are hokey “let’s pray and God will save us all” books.  However, Gutteridge did such a good job at balancing the the spiritual aspects of the story and the mystery, I am considering finding more books by her.

To sum it up: Idealism meets Reality meets technology, resulting in a small town in chaos.  Interesting, not sure I’d say intriguing.

3 Stars: worth the read.

Many Adventures,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl Description:

Artemis Fowl should never have kidnapped the fairy. Instead of a pleasant little bedtime story creature, this sprite turned out to be an unholy terror. All of Artemis's genius for crime was challenged by this irritating hazel-eyed little elf. It requires the entire novel to get things back under control.


It’s the 10th Anniversary release of Artemis Fowl and the book shows it’s age, but just a little. The technology referenced throughout the book, at least that which is actually manufactured is a little outdated, but the story, wow, it captivated me from the introduction through the epilogue.

I found myself approaching this book with a comparison to the Percy Jackson series in the back of my mind. And boy was I wrong to do that. In no way do they compare to each other. They each hold their own.

One thing I found incredibly refreshing about Artemis Fowl, is that his a villain, a 12 year-old genius of a villain. He remains true to who he is, while still caring for his family and friends/servants Butler and Juliet. I enjoyed Colfer’s take on faeries and other otherworld characters.

This is a fantastic book and can’t wait to read more!

5 Stars: Will read more books by this author/in this series.

Many Adventures,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Preview Monday: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Finishing up Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. It's the 10th Anniversary release. Review should be up this week.

Thanks for reading and Many Adventures,

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: The Mayor’s Tongue by Nathaniel Rich

The Mayor's Tongue


One of the most original, dazzling, and critically acclaimed debut novels this year.

In this debut novel, hailed by Stephen King as “terrifying, touching, and wildly funny,” the stories of two strangers, Eugene Brentani and Mr. Schmitz, interweave. What unfolds is a bold reinvention of storytelling in which Eugene, a devotee of the reclusive and monstrous author, Constance Eakins, and Mr. Schmitz, who has been receiving ominous letters from an old friend, embark from New York for Italy, where the line between imagination and reality begins to blur and stories take on a life of their own.

  • Hardcover, 304 pages
  • Published April 17th 2008 by Riverhead Hardcover
  • ISBN 1594489904 (ISBN13: 9781594489907)


I like a good off-the-wall story, and the summary of this book, as well as the cover caught my attention.  Rich has written a tale that borders on fantasy, but has it’s feet firmly planted in reality.

Eugene’s story seems to conflict with the story of Schmitz—one being very fanciful, while the later is heartfelt and real.  I found myself more caught up in the friendship of Schmitz and Rutherford.  Watching Schmitz grow and develop throughout the story, while still being true to himself, made him feel very real.  Rich did an amazing job with the Schmitz/Rutherford plot.

However, in contrast the beautiful tale of the friendship of Schmitz/Rutherford, we have the disjointed, mostly hard to follow story of Eugene and his search for the possible-love-of-his-life Alison/Sonia/Alice/Agata (yeah, try to keep her numerous names straight).  It was just too far left field for me.

Each story on it’s own could be quite good.  But together, they left me a little dumbfounded and confused.

Maybe I just didn’t get it…

2 Stars: Probably wouldn’t take a detour with another book by the author.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travel Log, Day 1

Today, I set out on a journey, a journey to go where no one...

Ah, who am I kidding? Many people do this, but since I love to read and enjoy recommending books to other people, I started this blog, especially since most of the books I read won't fit in on my wife's blog (of which I am a contributor) www.bendingthespine.blogspot.com.

Anyways, my first review, Nathaniel Rich's The Mayor's Tounge should be up soon, hopefully by tomorrow night.

Many Adventures,