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While this is not the first book I've read on my shiny new kobo, it's the first one I'll do a review of. (The others were classics; A Study in Scarlet and A Modest Proposal - okay, not really a book, as such - which I feel vaguely awkward about doing reviews of.)
I'll throw in a note here that the kobo reading experience is very, very nice, and I suggest it to anyone who's been considering it.

Title: The Stepsister Scheme
Author: Jim C. Hines
Publication Year: 2009
Was This Book Good?: Yes.

How I Came to Read it: I don't remember who on my friends' list first mentioned this book, but I do remember that it was mentioned as being lighter, somewhat silly fantasy, and somehow, the description stuck with me as something fun that I might like to read at some point. Sometime after that, Sarah Monette posted this entry which made me more curious to read the books in the series, since when authors do good things, I generally become more interested in their works. Then during this year's Keycon, I got a pretty bookmark promoting the book. Still, I never bought it, because the "sillier" books rarely go to the top of my priority list. When I got my kobo, it seemed like the perfect sort of book to buy for it - that is, one that I would enjoy, but wouldn't necessarily be distraught without a hard copy of. So I bought it.

Thoughts?: This book was a hell of a lot of fun. I loved it. If I was the sort of person to have guilty pleasures (as opposed to being the sort of person who sits there with a dopey grin on her face and declares "This. Is. AWESOME.") this would be a guilty pleasure, because for all its awesomeness, this book is, indeed, kinda silly. But don't worry, that's part of its charm.
As I was reading The Stepsister Scheme I frequently found myself wishing that this book had been around when I was about 13. Because even though I adored this book as I read it now, as a 25-year old, I don't think I could even express the glee that my 13-year old self would have experienced at finding a book like this. (On a related note, I'm pleased to see that Mr. Hines has a fanart section on his website because this is the sort of book that I think deserves an active fanbase.)
The official description of this book indicates that the book is a combination of the darker versions of fair tales, Disney princesses and Charlie's Angels and I honestly cannot think of a more accurate description. In The Stepsister Scheme, Hines follows three ass-kicking princesses; Cinderella (Danielle), Snow White (Snow) and Sleeping Beauty (Talia) during their efforts to rescue Cinderella's prince charming from her evil stepsisters. Hines' characterizations of the princesses are just wonderful (I totally have a crush on Talia) and the book is just unabashed 'girl power' without being so in your face about it that it damages the narrative.
The book has many strengths, but the one that most impresses me is that it is fun all the way through, and yet it manages to touch upon extremely unpleasant issues, such as child abuse and rape in a sensitive way. This is one of many demonstrations of what an impressive author Jim Hines is. His writing is pleasant, quick to read, and still descriptive.
This book is well worth the read - you may find yourself grinning stupidly as you read it, though. It is so very cute.

I must express my dismay that an ebook of book two in the series, The Mermaid's Madness does not yet appear to be available in Canada. I was really hoping to be able to start reading it today.
(Bah, that was a poorly done review. Sorry. It's a great book, though.)
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February 2012

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