Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Very Un-Fairy Tale Life, by Anna Staniszewski

A few weeks ago writer blogger Heather Kelly asked me to participate in an ARC blog tour for Anna Staniszewski's debut novel, My Very Un-Fairy Tale Life.

When I first saw the cover, I thought to myself: this looks pretty funny, but probably not the kind of book I would run out to buy on release day (being a dude, I like explosions, sword-fights, car-chases, lightsabers, that kind of thing). But also being a writer, and a writer who blogs, I really do care a lot about helping each other out, so I figured what's the worst that could happen?

Sure I could have received the book, read it, hated it, and then felt really awkward about telling Anna and Heather that I just couldn't take part in the tour. But I should have known I wouldn't have to worry about any of that.

The day the package showed up at my house (we get a lot of books sent to us) my 10 year old daughter, Madison, wanted to know what was in it. When I opened it, and saw what it was, I told her the story of the ARC tour, and explained how such things work.

When she saw the cover she started freaking out. "Daddy, daddy, please let me read it? Please, please, please?" I may be paraphrasing here, but the point is my kid was not going to let me end the conversation without agreeing to let her read the book first.

So I did. It was clear that the cover was doing its job, and I figured if the book was marketed toward this kind of audience, why not let Madison in on the tour? The book is about 12-year-old Jenny, anyway, so it's a MG novel that is just right for my daughter's reading level.

I could go on about how exciting this all was, but I should probably get to the interview I conducted with Madison before this post goes on any longer.

When we first opened the package the book came in, you saw the cover, and immediately asked me if you could read it first. What was it about the cover that made you want to read the book?

It was the opposite of a fairytale (which are usually pretty boring, snore).

Did the book live up to what you expected it would be like, based on what you liked about the cover?

Yes, it was funny, and not as old fashioned as normal fairytales.

Who was your favorite character, and what did you like best about them?

Jenny, because she says the funny (and cheesy) things that could come out of a movie.

Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favorite part of the book?

Where the friends figured out Jenny was lying.

Have you read any books that were similar to this book? If so which ones, and how would you compare them?

Not really, I can’t think of any books like this one.

I saw you doing some writing in your notebook the day you finished this book. Did it inspire you to write a story of your own?

Yes, because it was fun to read.

Do you notice any themes in this story? If so, what did you think of them?

No I didn’t notice any themes in this story. [Editor's note: that's a tough question for a 10-year-old without giving her a chance to discuss the book with other readers, come on, dad]

Regarding the main character, what did she stand for, what was she trying to accomplish? And did you find yourself rooting for her?

She wanted to get being an adventurer over with, but once she did she wanted to get it back. And yes, I found myself rooting for her.

Old picture, I know, but too adorable not to use.
Finally, would you recommend this book to your friends, and what kinds of kids do you think would like it?

Yes, fiction-liking kids of any grade, up to like 8th.

Okay, so that's it for the interview. Brief, I know, but she's only ten.

Now, I will add that I haven't read the book myself yet (Madison just finished it on Sunday), but I have read the first chapter, which you can read too, here, and while it's still not really a book for overweight, hairy dads in their mid 30s, it is really hilarious.

I suggest you give it a look yourself. You can find Anna's blog here, and her website, here. Here are some other places you can find Anna and her book:

Watch the trailer

And that's it for today. Any questions?


Jessica Bell said...

Oh my gosh, YEAH DAD what kind of question was that about themes??? Sheesh! :o) Gorgeous post. Give Madison a big smooch on her forehead for me. She sounds adorable.

I'm afraid I don't have any kids to recommend this book to, but if I did, I would. It sounds like a riot!

Kristen Wixted said...

I have 2 girls here who would love that book. I love the cover too, btw, being a girl (grown-up one, but still).

Rusty Carl said...

Well, great job getting your interview with your daughter. Very creative. I might interview my son for something in the near future. Great idea.

Laurita said...

Looks like you had some great help on this one. Excellent interview, and from that I can bet that my kiddo will like this book too.

Sarah Tokeley said...

Sounds like Madison was the perfect reviewer for this book. Nice one. And yeah, the picture is adorable :-)

vic caswell said...

awwwww madison!!!!
how cute!
i love when kiddos get all excited over books!!!
it sounds like a funny unique story!
great job guys!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Anna is just a charm. I love the cover of her book! PS: it doesn't matter how old they get, you'll never get over some of their photos.

Kristen Pelfrey said...

Take it on the road, Matthew and Madison. That was awesome.

Old Kitty said...

Hello Madison! I think you should take over dad's blog more often! LOL!

Take care

Natalie Aguirre said...

Madison, I read the book too because I'm interviewing Anna and giving away an ARC on Literary Rambles on Halloween. I totally agree with your review. This was such a different kind of fantasy and I loved Jenny and her humor.

Hope you review more books here.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Matthew .. I agree with Old Kitty - watch this space Madison is around .. what a fun interview - and a huge plus to Anna .. Good luck Anna - seems like you'll have no problem - cheers Hilary

Jax said...

That's a great idea! Who is better suited to judge a novel other than the targeted audience? I have a much younger cousin that loves to read! This might be a great stocking stuffer for her. Of course I'm going to have to read it first because the 12 year old inside of me loves these kinds of books :)

Luanne G. Smith said...

Can't ask for a better recommendation than that. :)

Slamdunk said...

Well done Matthew and Madison.

An kudos to you Matthew for getting past the cover of a book before judging it. I think readers would discover many hidden gems if they resevered opinion for the text rather than liking or disliking the visual art.

Joshua McCune said...

Yay, Anna. That first chap is outstanding; can't wait to read it all (from another 30ish, light-saber-preferring male)

Chelsey said...

Yay!! Anna was/is my writing professor, and we've all been so excited about her book coming out.

Also "funny (and cheesy)"....yup, sounds like Anna! :-D

Michael G-G said...

Your entire family is brilliant, Mr. MacNish. And these daughter book reviews need to become a QQQE fixture.

This is one book that I'll have to slip past the Don at Middle Grade Mafioso. He is definitely "an overweight hairy dad," (but ya didn't hear that from me.)

Andrew Leon said...

Hmm... I haven't done any interviews/reviews with my own kids, but I have been trying to get some reviews of my book from a couple of kids that have read and loved it. Maybe I should sit down and interview them instead.

Good job!

Unknown said...

This looks like such a fun book. It's totally on my list of books to read. Thanks for the review/interview Madison and Matt

Carol Riggs said...

How great that Madison got to help you out with the review! Now that's teamwork. ;o) Thanks for the review--sounds like a fun book!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Smart dad to let her do the review though!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

That kind of excitement is what keeps the MG writers plugging away (I'm sure). Us adult writers that plug away at sci-fi and or fantasy or other types of fiction could never expect that kind of childlike adoration. Adults are just more laid back with a "yeah...I could read that."

D.G. Hudson said...

I laughed my way through this post. When marketing works, it works well. Enjoyed your sharing of the POV of your daughter(s).

I would have thought the same thing as you when I saw the title, but it appeals to the right generation if your daughters glommed on it right away.

We must keep open minds...

Shannon said...

Not only do I love the premise of this book, I love this post. Great interview! :) Thanks, Matt. You retain your rock star status another day. <3

Jennie Bennett said...

That has to be the cutest interview in the world! Sounds like a winner to me if your daughter liked it! :)

Erin O'Riordan said...

Well said, Madison.

I'm not a guy, so this book had me at the unicorn on the cover.

Unknown said...

Love the interview/review. Hey, you got out of reading a chic book. Lucky you! I should get my son to read the stuff I don't want to read.

Unknown said...

He'd probably tell me to take a hike though... (not in those words of course or I'd take away his ipod.)

Heather Kelly said...

Very cool interview! I love too that the cover is so compelling, and then that the book doesn't disappoint! I found it refreshing and funny and new, just like Madison did.

Great review, Madison!!


Jeff Beesler said...

We all have our guilty pleasures in reading, Matt. Growing up, mine included such things as the dictionary and the phone book!

Claire Hennessy said...

Great post and lovely interview with your daughter. You are sooo lucky that she reads actual books! I have not managed to pass my love of reading onto either of my kids (although my son adores audio books, as long as they involve Dr Who!). You should be a very proud Dad :)
I also read a couple pages of the book and it was great.

C D Meetens said...

That's a great interview, and the book looks really interesting. I like the idea that it's an opposite to the fairytale norms.

Anna Staniszewski said...

Thank you Matthew and Madison! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book! Just remember to watch out for those unicorns...

Jess said...

Now this is pretty cool~ do you realize that your blog is preparing your daughter to shine above the rest when it comes to college applications~ "Yes, I've been doing web-published book reviews since I was ten." Great stuff, and the review makes me want to put it on my list of middle grade books to read! My favorite part is that you noticed her writing in her notebook the next day and asked her about it~ what a good Dad you are :)

Lola Sharp said...

That's such a cute cover!
I love your daughter's answers...well done. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Hello followers this is Madison thanks for all the comments ;p! I really loved the book, so thank you Anna for writing it! Also, yes, our family is weird and has loved books since we all were about 6 1/2 (my dad since books were invented.)

Again thanks for all the comments,
Watch out for evil clowns and unicorns,
Madison Rush

Johanna Garth said...

Great review Madison! Now I want to go out and buy the book for my nine year old daughter.

Wine and Words said...

I don't think you'll be able to give it a more honest review, nor perhaps a better one. To the intended audience, the book is spot on. The best endorsement is that afterwards, she took pen to page.

LTM said...

LOL! What a great review/interview! Madison is too cute, and I bet that's awesome for Anna to see she connected w/her target audience.

*snort* not mentioning my mental of you sitting around reading this book... :D

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Your daughter is so cute! Loved her interview. :)

Nancy said...

I'll be showing my ten-year old daughter the first chapter tomorrow and I bet we will be buying this. It was light, funny, and had good voice.

Suzie F. said...

Madison, you completely rocked the interview. Way to go! I now know what part of my niece's Christmas present is going to include.

And way to go, Matt (and Mrs.) for raising such a lovely, articulate daughter.

Thanks for the recommendation, you two!