Review: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

 

Title: Cinder & Ella

Author: Melissa Lemon

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

ISBN: 978-1599559063

In Stores: November 8, 2011

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

After her 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. What Ella finds there starts a quest that will change her life and the entire kingdom. With a supernatural twist on this beloved fairytale, it’s a must read you’ll never forget.

Review:

While I usually love fairy tale adaptations, I had a hard time connecting with the characters in Cinder and Ella, and it kept me from loving this re-telling of Cinderella.  I enjoyed the framework of the story, but the bland and one-dimensional characters were difficult to relate to and made liking them a chore.  The narrative style also kept me at arm’s length, and I never felt like I ever got to know Cinder or Ella very well.

After their father is convinced by the evil prince to abandon his family and follow his persuasive path, Cinder and Ella’s family falls apart.  Their mother becomes a shell of a woman, living only to work at her spinning wheel, and their two sisters turn into self-indulgent brats.  In an effort to improve their unpleasant lives, Cinder takes a job at the castle.  It falls to Ella to take care of the family in her sister’s absence, but it seems that no one remembers her.  Miserable, she sets off to find her father and to put their lives back on track again.

While I did like the overall theme of challenging yourself to help your family, most of the book just didn’t click for me.  Cinder was naïve and foolish, and like her father, she quickly gave in to the prince’s evil influence.  Ella is the only character who had any common sense, and she was brave and intelligent to boot.  It was a shame that she was surrounded by so many flat individuals, all of whom were so overshadowed by the force of her personality that I came to dread the segments that followed a different character.  Tanner, the noble knight, was too clumsy and awkward, and he came across as a buffoon, rather than a romantic interest, whenever he was with Ella.

The prince just got on my nerves, because he had no depth.  None.  He was evil, and that’s about the extent of his character.  There was no compelling reason given for why he was so awful.  Adele, the hapless mother, suffers the same fate.  She has been turned into a mindless woman, always spinning, totally oblivious to the activities of her daughters.   Regrettably, that just didn’t work for me.

While I found some of the story elements compelling, I feel that the individual parts didn’t mesh well with the whole.  I think that younger readers will enjoy the story much more than I did.

Grade: C

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Misadventures of Phillip Isaac Penn by Donna L Peterson

Review:

May Contain Spoilers:

Poor Pip!  Phillip Isaac Penn, otherwise known as Pip, is so misunderstood!  It’s not easy to be a kid, especially when everyone has a lack of appreciation for his ingenuity.  So what if he sometimes forgets to clean up after himself, or accidentally destroys his sister’s belongings – he didn’t mean to do it!  Why can’t anyone understand that Pip is just trying to be a good kid?

This is a pretty funny read, and it follows Pip over the course of one week.  He does have a knack for getting himself into trouble!  In fact, he is always in trouble, so when someone else does something wrong, it’s usually Pip who gets the blame for it.  His teacher doesn’t cut him any slack, but maybe that’s because he can’t just sit and listen during class.  No, he has to try to have a debate instead of concentrating on his lessons.  And he might as well have a chair with his name on it in the Principal’s office, since he spends so much time there.

I enjoyed the format of the book.  Every morning starts with someone in his family upset about something that Pip has done, so his days always get off to a noisy start.  Then he has to try to get along with his classmates.  During these confrontations, Pip is bewildered, because the other kids are actually misbehaving, and in a bad way.  He has to deal with common school dramas, which include a bully, a cheat, and a thief.  I loved Pip’s reactions to these other kids.  First, he is  blamed for their bad behavior, and then he’s determined, with mixed results, to clear his name and get the other kid in trouble.

With its short, amusing chapters, this is a good book for reluctant readers, especially boys.  I laughed at the end of the chapters, when Pip recapped each day and what he learned.  His take on his adventures is comical.  He is a typical kid, and his application of logic is so funny.  He just doesn’t get it, but he remains likable and relatable throughout.

You can learn more about Pip by visiting these links:

Facebook Fan Page – www.facebook.com/misadventuresofpip

Goodreads page – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11010453-the-mis-adventures-of-phillip-isaac-penn

Poster page – http://www.misadventuresofpip.com/

You can purchase your copy of PIP from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the handy Amazon widget below: