A fun but not exactly fluffy YA Contemporary Re-telling.
It's been almost a year since 18-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.
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Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible.
Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram, read by Kirsten Leigh, published 2015 / Length: 10 hrs 10 min
SERIES INFO: This book is standalone, but Brian Oliver was mentioned in A is for Abstinence.
I have a confession, I have never wanted to marry a prince or an entertainment star (I don't even like my family to take my picture, and I'm too lazy to look good most days). I don't seek out Hollywood or rock star romances. But I do have a weakness for fairy tale retellings.
What draws me to this book is not Ella getting a Hollywood prince, but Ella reconnecting with her best friend - the guy who will always be there for her, no matter what.
Ella(mara) Rodriguez: A beautiful but nerdy book blogger, what's not to like? She is passionate and incredibly strong. Although she has given in to despair in the past, totally understandably, she is still fighting for what she wants & needs.
Brian Oliver (aka Cinder): I'm not actually a fan of bad boy characters, and I have a real problem with a particular throw away statement Brian made that seems to blame his behavior on the inadequacies of all the other women he's been with. That said however, he does totally own and acknowledge the inappropriateness of his past actions. I believe that he really has overcome his past.
Ella & Cinder: Unlike many movie star romance couples, these two have been really good friends since before he hit the big time. They shared so many of the same interests, and their personalities were a really good match. One of the things I loved was how, when Ella became distressed, he Immediately drops the heartthrob persona and became a tender & caring best friend and true love. Even her other friends recognize how he feels about her.
"Cinder? That’s the guy who’s not your boyfriend, but texts you like a twelve-year-old girl experiencing her first crush?”
Vivian & Scotty are my favorites among the supporting cast. Scotty is Brian's long suffering assistant and steals every scene he's in.
The beginning sets the tone perfectly.
“The problem with fairy tales is that most of them begin with 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.”
I am not a fan of books about bullying, so I struggled with those parts. But I love it when Ella finally lets loose at the guy who accidentally injured her.
This is a standalone book with a perfect fairy tale ending.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
- Brian’s response to Vivian answering Ella’s phone and introducing herself as Ella’s best friend.
- Brian's understanding that, in a way, one of the things Ella lost was herself & her own body.
- Scotty going the 2nd mile (or 2nd hundred) in support of Ella.
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Lots of swearing (but no F-words). / Quite a bit of sex-talk (but nothing explicit)
OTHER CAUTIONS: Ella's father left her mother for another woman, abandoning her in the process. / There is info about a couple who became pregnant before they were married. / One of the characters has 2 Dads, who appear in a couple of scenes (and wicked step sister Anastasia is nasty about it).
Character voices differentiated = Yes, though sometimes not very strongly / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes / Accents = Ella's Boston accent is mostly very subtle except where directly mentioned in the book. I don't know what a Chilean accent sounds like, but this version didn't bother me / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good, I think she did an especially good job on the many moods and layers of Brian. She also did a truly horrible Kaylee (that's a compliment). / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual, but it was a bit fast.
Talk to Me (pretty please)
- What's your favorite YA Contemporary retelling?
- What's your favorite book with a bookish Main Character?
- Do you like to "cast" books in your mind while you read? (See the author's dream cast in the Bonus section below)
- If you are a first time visitor, how did you discover my blog?
- I recently debuted my redesigned blog. What do you think?
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Kelly was too busy to do an interview specially for me, but she graciously granted me permission to copy her Cinder & Ella casting choice here (and you can find interview answers and other bonus material at the link below).
Ariana Grande as Ella
Ella was hard because she’s half Latina, which cuts my options down significantly. Add to that her bright blue eyes and well… impossible. I couldn’t find anyone with the blue eyes, but I did find someone who I think looks like she could play Ella. Ella needs to be someone who can pull off shy with a guy she likes but also stubborn, outspoken witty and feisty at the same time. She needs to be someone who could play beautiful but doesn’t know it. The only girl that kept coming to mind for me was Ariana Grande.
Zac Efron as Brian/Cinder
This almost seems cliché but really, can we go wrong with Zac? He’s sort of the poster child for gorgeous Hollywood playboy. He’s charming charismatic, and can do both pretty and bad boy. Nice and jerky. Sensitive and arrogant. He’s very “Hollywood Actor,” you know?
And now for the stepfamily…
Patrick Dempsey and Charlize Tharon as Richard and Jennifer Coleman
Ella’s dad is actually her real dad in the book, but she hasn’t seen him since she was eight when he left her and her mom for another woman and never looked back. Richard Coleman is a U.S. Attourney. He’s powerful and intimidating, but in a knight-in-shining-armor kind of way. He’s made mistakes, but deep down he’s a good guy and tries hard to be a good father. I can definitely see Patrick fitting into this role of trying to do his best in a difficult situation, sometimes making the wrong choices, and being overwhelmed. (Yet you can’t help but want him to win.)
Jennifer Coleman is “the other woman.” She plays the role of the “evil stepmom,” though I’ve taken my own “Hollywood” spin on her. She’s a professional model and is a little clueless and tactless but not inherently evil. But she’s absolutely gorgeous and the perfect trophy wife for Richard. Charlize is the perfect look in my mind and with her acting capabilities, I know she could accomplish the personality I was trying to create with Jennifer.
Annasophia Robb & Brittany Snow as Anastasia and Juliette
The Ugly/Evil Stepsisters. Obviously not ugly. Evil… Well… Anastasia and Juliette (Yes, Anastasia is a nod to the Disney film but I couldn’t bring myself to use Drisella, so Juliette it was…) are your quintessential popular girls. They’re gorgeous, popular, spoiled and self-centered. They are two girls who are used to their perfect looks, and their perfect lives, in their perfect home, with their perfect family. Until Ella shows up and shatters that perfect world. The two have a lot in common, and you could probably use Annaspohia or Brittany for either sister, but I chose Annaspohia for Anastasia because, of the two sisters, Anastasia is definitely the more viscous of them. I would love to see Annasophia play up the Evil Stepsister.
And last but not least the supporting BFFs
Bella Thorne as Vivan
Vivian was easy for me. As our resident fairy Godmother, she’s quirky, fun, and very confident in herself. She has her own unique sense of style and flaire. Bella Thorne is perfect!
Jesse Metcalfe as Rob
Rob was harder like Ella. His character is a lot more subtle. I love him, and have big plans for him, so I couldn’t just pick any old face. In this story I suppose Rob would play the role of the mice in the Disney film—Jaque and Gus. Or in the Hillary Duff movie A Cinderella Story—which is totally my favorite, by the way—he’d be Carter, the lovable, sidekick the BFF. He’s there to support Ella and be her friend when no one else is. This star athlete is hot and confident, but he’s also very quiet and modest. He doesn’t mind letting others take the spotlight. He has an element of mysterious and sexy to him. Does Jesse not look like he could fill that role? Mmm. I’m a fan!
Anyway, those are my picks. I’d love to hear yours. And, Hollywood, if you’re listening, take notes! This movie could be EPIC!
For more information:Kelly's site: https://kellyoram.com
The Bonus materials page: https://kellyoram.com/bonus-material/ (the character interviews are especially great)
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