Reviewing CINDER AND ELLA by Kelly Oram & a SNEAK PEEK at today's new release, HAPPILY EVER AFTER!


Happy Book Day to HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Kelly Oram!

To celebrate, I'm reposting my review of CINDER AND ELLA and gifting you with a teaser from the new sequel!!!


O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   THE PROBLEM WITH FAIRY TALES is that most of them begin with a tragedy. I understand the reasoning behind it. No one likes a pampered heroine. A great character needs trials to overcome--experiences to give them depth, to make them vulnerable, relatable, and likable. Good characters need hardships to make them strong. The idea makes sense, but it still sucks if you're the heroine.
   My life had never been much like a fairy tale. I'd had no magical wishes come true, but no real tragedy, either. My dad had an affair and left Mama and me when I was eight, but other than that, I'd had it pretty good.
   I'm sort of pretty--long, wavy black hair and smooth golden-brown skin, thanks to the Chilean heritage on my mother's side. But I have my dad's big, bright-blue eyes. I'm sort of smart--mostly A's without ever having to study much. And I'm sort of popular--not exactly the prom queen, but never without my friends or a date on Saturday night, either.
   I may have grown up without a father, but my mom was my best friend and that was good enough for me. Life, in general, was good enough.
   Then, last November, my mom decided to surprise me with a weekend ski trip to Vermont for my birthday, and I got my first real dose of character-building tragedy.
(pg 5, US e-book edition)
This review was first posted at A Backwards Story on April 4, 2015.

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. 

Ready for a sneak peek at HAPPILY EVER AFTER!?

EX C E R P T:


Excerpt


Scott closed his laptop, which was a sign that he was really serious now. “Like it or not, Brian, she is in this. Up to her eyeballs in it, in fact. She won’t be able to avoid it forever, and when it catches up to her, she’s going to have some real choices to make. If you don’t bring her in with you, then your management team—along with everyone else in town—will bypass you and go straight to her. Do you really want her to meet with people and make decisions without you?”
My jaw clenched. Hollywood people could be nice enough, but they were all sharks in sheep’s clothing. Ella was a strong, smart woman, but she wasn’t used to playing their game. No way did I want her having to navigate this business on her own.
“You’re absolutely right that your team will try to use her as much as possible. That’s why you should be there when they do. At least if you’re together, you can tell her when they’re trying to work her over.”
Damn him again. Why did he always have to be right? Letting out a breath of defeat, I scrubbed my hands over my face and then raked them through my hair. “All right, all right, fine. Let’s schedule a meeting with Ella. But not yet. After the holidays. After New Year’s.”
Scott’s posture eased up a little, and he gave me an apologetic smile. “I don’t think they want to wait that long. You guys are in the headlines now. You’re the biggest story of the year. With the movie releasing in two days, they want to take advantage of all this free publicity.”
I huffed in exasperation. “The Druid Prince is the biggest release of the holiday. The studio has put millions of dollars into advertising. How much more publicity does it need?”
“Not the film, Brian; you.”
“I don’t care about the publicity. I don’t want the attention.”
I shot to my feet with a groan and headed for my coffee again. It wasn’t as hot now, so I chugged it as if it held the answers to all my problems.
“You do want it this time. And so does Ella.”
I was still frowning, but I leaned against the counter again and gave him my full attention. He jumped on the window of opportunity but spoke cautiously, as if he was afraid I might explode if I didn’t like what he said. “How you and Ella deal with this attention will affect your future, and you know it. The world loves you guys right now. You’re a real-life fairy tale. People are dying to see the two of you living out the happily-ever-after you promised them.”
“Forget the world. I want that. But if the freaking media doesn’t leave us alone, no one will get that happily-ever-after, because Ella will dump my famous ass.”
Scott’s snort of disbelief was only mildly reassuring.
“She’s not like everyone else, Scott. She doesn’t care about the money, and my fame is a problem in her eyes, not a fun perk. She’s fragile. If this gets too crazy, she’ll throw in the towel. She’ll have to. And I’ll have to let her.”
“If you would just make a couple of appearances together, do an interview or two and a photo shoot, that would satiate the public, and things would die down.”
“Tell that to Kim and Kanye.”
Again, Scott spoke right over my cynical mutterings. “It would help you both in other ways, too.  Ella is exactly what you need for your career. This relationship will completely erase your last year or so of debauchery.”
I cocked an eyebrow at Scott, trying my hardest not to smile. It wasn’t easy. “Debauchery?”
His cheeks turned a little pink, but he stood his ground. “Do you have a better word for all the partying and womanizing?”
I held his gaze a moment longer but then cracked. “Fine. Debauchery.”
“Right. And after a few appearances with Ella, as in love as you guys are, not even Kyle Hamilton will remember your previous reputation as an arrogant, immature playboy.”
My eyebrow went up again, and this time it was Scott who relented. “Okay, Kyle might. But no one else will; I guarantee it. You’ll be the mature down-to-earth A-list actor who chose to be with a physically-disabled woman when he could have anyone. You’ll be admired by all of Hollywood. And a man like that might just win himself an Oscar, whether he earned it onscreen or not—that’s simple Academy politics. Not that you haven’t earned it, but no one in the Academy would hesitate to vote for you. And no director will hesitate to consider you for a role in the future. Play your cards correctly right now, and you’ll be earning thirty million a picture for the Cinder Chronicles sequels and turning down roles you’d beg for right now.”
A year ago, that would have been a persuasive argument. “It’s not me I’m worried about. I’ll earn my A-list status eventually; I don’t need to use Ella to get there.”
“She might want to use this opportunity, though. You should at least explain to her what is going on and what it means for her. From what you’ve told me, she’s an extremely independent woman and isn’t going to want to live off of her father’s money forever, or yours. This could be a very lucrative time for her. It could help her with her future and even give her something to focus on. It could give her positive reasons for living with the fame and maybe help her make sense of how much her life has just changed.”
I shot Scott a glare, hating that last accusation, and got his Super-Assistant-Stare-Down again. “Like it or not, Brian, the moment you gave that Cinderella interview on The Kenneth Long Show, you changed her life. There’s no going back for her, so help her move forward. Help her make the best of a hard situation. Ease this transition for her by being straight with her. You know no one else will.”
I rubbed my head. All this thinking about the future first thing in the morning was giving me a headache.
“Sorry, boss, I know it’s not what you want to do, but it is what you need to do. I’d let you keep ignoring them and turn off my phone over the holiday if it wasn’t.”
My hands dropped to my sides as all the fight left me, and I met Scott’s gaze again, frowning. “Do you ever get tired of being right?”

The corners of Scott’s mouth twitched. “Not really, no.”


~*~
C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13  ( Kissing; sexual innuendo )
Language: PG15  ( Sexual innuendo and sexual references to things various characters have done )
Violence: --
Other: --  
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is fun. It ties the tale of Cinderella together the modern age of social media. That's hard to do on a cover, but that's the essence of this book!

It's not my favorite cover, but it works for the story.

The interior is also cool because the shoe from the cover is also present to mark every new chapter!
  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: CINDER AND ELLA
Author: Kelly Oram
Release Date: August 15, 2014
Publisher: Bluefields
Received: Purchased!

SUMMARY:

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.…

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.


Title: HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Author: Kelly Oram
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Bluefields
Received: Purchased!


SUMMARY:

The end of one story is often the beginning of another. Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver and his Cinderella princess Ellamara Rodriguez have finally found love outside the digital world. But leaving their anonymity behind creates a whole new set of obstacles for the nation’s new favorite sweethearts. 

With the stress of Brian’s fame and the pressures of a new relationship weighing down on them, the It Couple quickly begins to wonder if they can hold on to their newfound joy, or if maybe happily ever after is only a fairy tale.



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