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Unfinished Fairy Tales #1

La Cenerentola sbagliata

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Quando Kat strappa accidentalmente un vecchio libro illustrato, viene magicamente trasportata nel mondo di Cenerentola – come Katriona, una delle brutte sorellastre! La vita si è capovolta adesso che è una signora nobile di nascita e deve imparare come sopravvivere alla stagione mondana, compreso passare attraverso la porta indossando una gonna con un enorme cerchio di metallo. Per tornare indietro, dovrà completare la storia, dritta fino al lieto fine, ma tutto sembra essere a suo sfavore: l'altra sorellastra è bella da impazzire, la fata madrina è introvabile e il principe, nonostante sia incredibilmente sexy, detesta apertamente i balli. Potrà mai tornare nel mondo attuale?

327 pages, ebook

First published June 10, 2015

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About the author

Aya Ling

23 books432 followers
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 522 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,606 reviews5,990 followers
June 17, 2015
4.5 stars. Best fairy tale re-telling that I've read so far.

That's normally one way that authors go with the re-tell of a fairy tale. Wait, I would probably read and like that one. Let's scratch that and start again.

Kat is told by her mom to head up to the attic and clean up some of her old books for a yard-sale. In doing so she finds an old copy of Cinderella. She is kinda clumsy so she ends up tearing the book when she falls down the stairs.
When she wakes up their is a troll there waiting and he tells her that the book was enchanted and the only way to get out of storyland is for the story to finish from where she tore the book. On the first page.

She doesn't wake up as Cinderella though. She wakes up as Katriona. One of the ugly stepsisters.

Kat's a hot mess. She hates the constant visiting, the whiny girls all wanting to meet the prince, the whole she-bang. Upon her presentation to the queen she falls down and busts her butt.

She has to find out who Cinderella is though. Could she be the maid in the house Ella? But Ella has a mom. Who is sick at home and younger siblings.
Kat does end up spending a lot of time with Prince Edward. Get this. No insta-lurrve. Kat is too busy doing her own thing and trying to end the curse. In the meantime she does fall down and get dirty.

Because I am from the modern world, it's natural that I'm not like other girls. It's second nature to me that children shouldn't work at all, that women should be allowed freedom to do anything they want. It isn't because I'm special.

This book is so much fun. The only time I shook my head with is was when the people in "storyland" used the word "ain't". That part just didn't ring true for me.
Now that ending....

I know it had to go that way but I still said a really big cuss word.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
November 17, 2015
$.99 on Amazon today 11/17/15

That ending! Woof! Totally killed it for me. Sorry, but it did.
Hated it. Hated it. Hated it!


I mean, what was that? Gah. No. Just...no.

Anyway. Other than my (rather obvious) disappointment with the last few pages, I thought this was a pretty cute way to retell the Cinderella story. Although, I thought The Stepsister's Tale was a much better story if you're looking for something from...well, the ugly stepsister's point of view.

Ok, so this girl rips part of a page out of a magical storybook. See, the Goblin King enchanted this particular Cinderella story. I'm not sure why this kid has possession of it, but she did.
Roll with it...
She ends up in the fairytale, and in order to break the curse and go home to her family (and toilets that flush) she has to make sure Cinderella gets Prince Charming.
Hilarity ensues!


She learns the customs, grows as a person, uncovers family secrets, changes child labor laws, helps a friend elope, and falls in love with the prince.


Yeah, so she has to make a choice. Stay with the man she's grown to love, or try to force him to marry Ella (who is in love with his cousin).
Can the magic of love fix her problems?


If you know me, then you know I like my Happily Ever Afters. Nothing else will do, and if I don't get what I want, a tantrum usually happens. One-starring usually occurs, and vitriol spews out of my mouth...er, keyboard. So, I'm feeling pretty mature right now. Still. Very, very, very unhappy.


I received a digital copy for review from NetGalley and the author.

Also reviewed for:
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,743 reviews1,305 followers
June 8, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to author Aya Ling and NetGalley.)

“Am I one of the ugly stepsisters?”
His grin grows wider.
Damn. “If I have to be in the story, why aren’t I Cinderella?”

This was an interesting retelling of Cinderella, in that it didn’t follow the original story very rigidly at all.

I felt quite sorry for Kat in this story, she seemed to be given an insurmountable task in order to return home and to her family, and I wasn’t quite sure how she would actually accomplish it!

“So all I have to do it get Cinderella to the ball, the prince falls in love with her, and then the curse is broken and I can return?”
He waggles a crooked finger at me.
“Not yet. You can’t stop at the ball when she runs out and leaves her slipper behind. You must follow it all the way to the end. The story is only finished when they’re married with wedding bells pealing and white doves soaring.”

The storyline in this didn’t follow the storyline of Cinderella, but instead followed Kat as she tried to recreate the story, and failed badly! There was some very different situations, with this Cinderella even having her own family, and I was kept guessing for a long time as to what would happen.

“So when is the ball?”
“No idea.”
“Where’s the fairy godmother?”
“No idea.”

There was some romance in this, but it left Kat in a very difficult position, and I wasn’t sure how things would work out.

“I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t fall for you, but I can’t help it.”

The ending to this was good, although I wasn’t perfect. I liked that this book wasn’t a straightforward retelling though.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,008 followers
December 21, 2020
Sorry, Sandra, it turned out it wasn't for me. But, people, I still invite you to read her review because it's a breath of fresh air. I just love the enthusiasm of those words.

"You ought not be going out unchaperoned, Miss Katriona," he says, rubbing the back of his neck. "It ain't proper."
Unchaperoned, my foot. Next thing I'll be donning a veil and keeping my head covered."

This quote, all in all, has nothing to do with the "bigger picture", it's just a little sample of how this book is written. It would be, in fact, a perfectly all-encompassing example if I wrote it WITH totally random WORDS written IN caps WITHOUT any sensible REASON.

I. Was. Annoyed.

But back to the quote. I think it's particularly representative because it shows the careless, simplicistic, juvenile attitude of the main character's voice. In this case, specifically: I understand that for Westerners the veil may represent only a symbol of submission, but for several peoples it's part of their traditions and their culture as well. Not all the women who wear the veil are obliged to wear the veil, and it doesn't necessarily represent a failure to achieve emancipation. You can't just crack a joke like that like it is funny, because it's not. If I was a girl living in a State where I don't have to wear the veil by law and yet I still wore it, I would be offended by a sentence like this.
Now, this is not about the veil in particular: it's just, words are like bulls in a china shop. Breaking things is so awfully easy. Wouldn't it be better to be safe than sorry? To think twice before speaking -or writing?

End of speech, I promise.

•How does all this affect the novel? You know the impulse to punch Snow White in the face when she was all like 'oh pretty little birds, let's sing together, I love all the animals' et cetera? Perfect. Here it evolves pokémon style and becomes do-goodism. The protagonist, Katriona, simply got it into her head the she would save the children of this country she winded up in, Athelia, where children are employed in factories in appalling conditions. Everything is horrendous and she's right to fight against this exploitation, but the whole thing is handled in such an ingenuous and simplistic way- I just can't. It bugged me to no end.

•The writing, as I said, is the other big, ginormous "no". Bad, bad, bad. I am more than sure than a second-grader could have written something just as readable, and probably he wouldn't have used those ignoble caps. I shudder just to think of it.

•When Kat isn't fighting for children's rights in a kind-of-a-little-more-developed-than-medieval-but-not-further-specified kingdom, she helps people eloping. And nothing, it just sounded important.

Edward isn't bad at all, not at all. But someone really has to erase all these stereotypes from Ling's mind, because let's guess in what kind of subversive and humanitarian activity he is involved:
1. Convince Katriona to give it to me
2. Convince Katriona I don't give a damn about her servant
3. Convince the Parliament children must be safeguarded
All three, you say? No shit, Sherlock.

•The ending (but I should explain that here I am it's-not-you-it's-meing it because this kind of ending is something I personally detest with ardour) doesn't work. It just doesn't. When at the end of the story the main character , and I had the misfortune of seeing it happen once or twice already, I can't help feeling played. Like, was that all for nothing? Should I unleash the dogs of war?

➽ Basically, I think that this book and me just had bad luck together: it was practically a blend of a lot of things I hate or can't stand, and I don't think I can totally blame it on it. The second star, besides, is there because the book at least does not take itself too seriously, and that's always a positive thing. It's simply one of those cases when all you can say is, next time I'll get luckier.
Profile Image for Rachel Maniacup.
153 reviews79 followers
May 31, 2016
OMG! This book is surprisingly very good!
This is my first book of Aya Ling,and my first time to read a fairytale retelling,(most were watched)and I am instantly bewitched both by the author and the book!

This is a story of a 17 year old,Katherine,who devours book after book since she was four(wow,she really love books!).She is the student editor of their school paper,who stumble,stutter,and falls silence when she encounters a gorgeous guy.In short,she's a klutzy-shy girl!

One day,when Kat was cleaning the attic,she accidentally ripped the Cinderella book apart when she fell down the stairs.And that's when she was suddenly transported into the world of Cinderella,as KATRIONA BRADSHAW,one of Cinderella's stepsisters who they call,"ugly".

By ripping the book apart,Kat was cursed and transported into the story itself as her punishment.And the only thing she can do to get back to her world is..finish the story to the very end,where they live happily ever after. The problem is,Ella(Cinderella) seems to have eyes set on someone else,and prince Edward openly dislikes balls(the thing that should happen so the prince could meet Ella and dance with her,as Kat has planned).Another problem is..the fairy godmother is missing!How then is Kat going to achieve the happily ever after?

I truly loved everything about this book:
-the beautiful crafted storyline,with so much awesome twists and surprises,and the so well-written amazing characters,including Poppy,Henry,Bertram,Martha,and even KREV(the goblin friend of Kat). And the prince,oooh!the most swoon-worthy prince I've ever met in a book! A very down to earth prince,the cutest and the sweetest! I did swoon over and over this guy!Lol!

This is how I picture prince Edward:

And of course,KAT is absolutely brilliant and cunning! I fell inlove with her character because her transformation in this story is perfectly striking!(inside and out).I loved how the author molded her from being shy and clumsy,to being smart and brave.The author even put various issues in the story such as discovering Ella's history,child labor,and fighting for the rights of the less-fortunate that made the story realistic.The ending was okay,but I wish Kat

Reading this book made me feel like I'm a teenager once more,and it made me wish that I too,be transported to Cinderella's book so I could be with prince Edward even for one day,haha!
This book also deserves more than 5 stars! It's a MUST-READ!
*My review is usually long,whenever I really loved what I've read,so sorry guys!*

I should thank my dear friend,Sandra 'aka' MUSE-IC for this! It's because of her wonderful and captivating review(that you should also check), that I excitedly indulged on this! It's also her BIRTHDAY today,so to you,my dear gem, HAPPY,HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Love you,girl!

Profile Image for Muse-ic ♬.
397 reviews113 followers
April 28, 2016
That was hands down one of my favorite Cinderella retellings EVER!
Step right over into swoon-ville ladies and gentlemen!

Katherine was cleaning out her attic that is filled with her books, when she drops a copy of Cinderella. It's so old that it falls apart. Katherine trips, blacks out, and wakes up in the story as Lady Katriona Bradshaw, one of Cinderella's stepsister.
She's the "ugly" stepsister, but the term ugly is arbitrary, just because her sister is drop-dead gorgeous (like you also kind of want her to drop dead she's so annoying!).
Turns out that that particular Cinderella book was created by goblins, and if its destruction is attempted (even if by accident, such as in this case), the person is punished by being forced to enter the story and live it out to its happy ending. Only then can they return back to their world.

A beautiful and heart-breaking tale ensues!
Kat learns of the injustices of the Cinderella world and is a driving force in launching change such as child labor regulations...etc.
Turns out Prince Edward himself is also hoping to improve his kingdom, and when this girl of noble standing comes out of nowhere and tries to protect the working class and peasantry, he is quite intrigued!

I've already mentioned how much I love mature, gentlemanly, kind, and sexy male characters, right? Well, Edward falls under every single freaking one of those categories. Hell-o new book boyfriend!

This book struck home with me. Kat's connection with Edward spoke UNSPEAKABLE VOLUMES!
Wanna know why?

Because Kat falls in love with Edward!
And he's a book character, so she can't have him because eventually....she's gonna leave story world!

That is how it is for me and for all of us! You enter an amazing world, you fall in love, but eventually...too soon....it ends....

It freaking hurt to see that experience so obviously portrayed, an everyday bookish struggle put on display in a way that made me really see it on a more in depth level! It hurt.
But it had to end, because eventually, Cinderella had to get her happy ending with Edward, not Kat, and Kat had a home to return to.
The ending was so bittersweet and I want to cry!

It was a beautiful and amazing story! I absolutely loved it!
Definitely read this one! I highly recommend it!
Ladies, you need to meet Edward!

Why can't I be swept into a story? Seriously!?
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,052 reviews156 followers
February 25, 2021
This was hilarious, absolutely brought tears to my eyes. I was expecting it to be more like a romantic read. It does have romance but it was also funny and a very charming read.

Kat is amazing. Even though I found her a bit annoying in the beginning but as I read on I thought that she was funny, witty, charming, does surprising things in a good way and may not be the best looking girl in the story which works wonders for the story and for me reading it. It's a very different take on a fairytale re-tellings and I was glad for it.

Cinderella was just adorable and the conversations between Kat and Cinderella were one of the high points for me in the book.

If you want to cackle and want a different, light, lazy Sunday read. Look no further as this will provide all this and much more.

4 stars
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,796 reviews485 followers
September 13, 2019
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had so much fun with this book! I haven't read too many retellings but I was quite curious about this Cinderella story. Unfortunately, I was quickly distracted by other new shiny books and this one was lost in my virtual stacks. I came across the audiobook and decided it was time that I give this book a try and I am so glad that I did. I flew through this audiobook and really enjoyed my time with it.

Kat lives with her sister and mother but she is transported to the world of Cinderella when she accidentally rips an old book. Instead of Cinderella, Kat fills the role of Katriona who is one of the step-sisters. It was a lot of fun watching her try to navigate this new world. She had so much to learn with the differences in manners, language, and fashion just to start. Kat decides that in order to get back to her world she needs to help the prince fall for Cinderella so she starts working towards this goal.

I loved Kat. I loved the way that she couldn't help but try to make the world a better place even if she didn't plan to stay for very long. Prince Edward was also quite wonderful. He couldn't help but be drawn to Kat's fresh perspective. They were really just wonderful together. I couldn't help but cheer this pair towards their happily ever after.

The audiobook was narrated by Luci Christian and I thought that she did a great job with it. I really liked all of the voices that she used and thought that her reading helped to make the story even more enjoyable. She had a very pleasant voice that I was able to listen to for hours at a time. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to more of her work.

I would recommend this book to fans of fairy tale retellings. I thought that this was a really well-done story that offered a new look at an old tale. I do have to admit that I wasn't thrilled by how the story ended but that would be my only complaint.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Aya Ling via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
I had sooo much fun with this one! I thought that this story was really well done and it was a very nice twist on the Cinderella story that I know. Kat was such a great character and I loved the way she wanted to make the world a better place. Edward really did seem to be her perfect match. I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narration was very well done. I am not really sure about that ending but that is really my only complaint.
Profile Image for Melindam.
665 reviews294 followers
March 13, 2019
A Cinderella-retelling with some interesting twists, some boring tropes (clumsy-shy-teenage-girl & stuff) & a rather annoying ending.
I can see that the show goes on for another 2 books, but I'm not invested enough in the MCs to go on right away .... or ever. We shall see.

More details to come.
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,097 reviews674 followers
March 30, 2019
What would have happened if Cinderella needed the ugly stepsister to get her happy ending?

“Books open new worlds to me.”

I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the notion of hearing a fairy tale told from the point of view of one of the lesser characters in the story. I didn't completely get what I was hoping for, but all the same, this book kept me entertained and I am going to continue with this series.

Kat is awkward, to say the least, when it comes to talking to guys. It often ends up with her falling on her face, literally. While cleaning out the attic, she accidentally rips an old fairy tale book, Cinderella. Somehow, she falls into the book, where she learns that in ripping it she tripped an ancient curse. She is trapped in the book until the happy ending can be achieved - and it is Kat's responsibility to make it happen.


Kat's role: I was very drawn to the idea that Kat had to make the story happen, that while she was techinically inside a book, the story wasn't just playing out around her. She had to make sure that all of the things we associate with Cinderella came to be - the ball, the fairy godmother, the slipper, the wedding and the happily ever after. It was really interesting.

“If the Beast gave me a library like he gave to Belle, I’d marry him too.”

Alternative versions: Because Kat was the one who had to make the story happen, there was of course numerous obstacles in her way. That was actually something that I really liked because it had my head spinning, trying to come with ways to make the 'slipper fit' so to speak.

Kat and Edward: I really enjoyed both Kat and Edward (the prince). They were adorable, likeable characters and their relationship was so cute. Kat was adorably awkward and clumsy but she was also an activist with passion and heart. My favourite part was how she and Edward bonded over their shared ideals for the future. Edward was a true fairy tale prince in the best way - he was not a womanizer, he was not hung up on the attention of women. He was just a withdrawn, private man who loved gardening and dreamt of making a better future for his people.


Cliché and unoriginal: There were some things about this book that were a bit clichéed and 'done before'. The whole 'main character falling into a book/other world' has been done many times with varying degrees of success. This was neither really good nor bad. And with that cliché of course comes the 'main character that stands out form the rest'. Luckily, however, Kat does actually address this herself, so that was a relief.

Profile Image for Yzabel Ginsberg.
Author 3 books105 followers
June 21, 2015
(I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

3.5/4 stars. At first, the opening chapter made me think "is this a joke?" Cliché high school with shy, clumsy, average-looking girl who's actually probably beautiful enough, gorgeous new student in front of whom she ends up tripping, beautiful rival with a queen bee attitude...

But then, it became fairly obvious that this was completely in jest, a wink to the usual stereotypical introductions of the kind, and it set the tone for the rest of the story. Sure, Kat/Katriona remained "clumsy", due to having to suddenly walk around in long dresses and shoes she wasn't used to, not to mention curtsying and waltzing... However, that was normal in the circumstances.

In general, I liked her character, first of all because she was a good person: acting for selfish motives (going back home), yet not ready to resort to the more drastic methods. When she realised that making Cinderella and the prince of Atheria fall in love may not be such a good idea, she felt guilty about it, and started questioning the whole point: is a "happy ever after" worth it, if it means forcing two people into a mold? She was presented with difficult choices to make, and had to find the strength to quash her own feelings in the process.

The author played with a lot of tropes, sometimes coming close to leaning on the fourth wall. The elements of Cinderella's story were often subverted: Elle = Cinderella, but how could she be the neglected sister, when she already had a family in town? The prince who appeared as an aloof, brooding guy had his own goals and didn't want to be seen exactly as a pretty wallflowers... much like Kat didn't want to be told "go home and be a lady instead of using your brains." Kat even went as far as to remark that she wasn't a "special snowflake": the prince and other people noticed her and found her remarkable only because she had been bringing contemporary values into a Victorian-like society, values and ideas that were just normal to her—in her eyes, this didn't make her special in any way. This was a nice change from all those "I'm different" girls in a lot of YA stories (if only because she *was* different... and wasn't at the same time).

I also liked that the romance wasn't of the insta-love variety. Kat remained focused on her mission, as well as on the "subplots" she developed on her own (humanitarian ones, such as reducing children labour time and bettering their work conditions, for want of being able to completely reform Atherian society). She was too busy working on those, on finding the truth about Elle and figuring out how to help her (the fairy godmother was nowhere in sight at all, after all), that there wouldn't have been time for her to gush and swoon over a prince, and that was definitely believable.

The goblins were funny, with their constant betting on the outcome of Kat's efforts. I wish we had nown more about them and about the enchanted books.

The writing style sometimes grated on my nerves, as its "childish" flavour clashed with the more adult themes (child labour, servants being treated like dirt...). There were also a few parts where the story jumped from one place to the other, making me think "wait, when did Kat go back home?" I'm not sure if this was a problem of editing, though, or of formatting.

Conclusion: Thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat predictable when it came to a few events. But fairy tales are predictable anyway, and for a retelling, this one managed to veer off the usual Cinderella story enough to be a very satisfying one.
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
641 reviews301 followers
February 10, 2016

When Kat accidentally rips a page from an old Cinderella book, she’s transported right into the story – as one of the ugly stepsisters. To return home, she needs to ensure the happily ever after – but while Cinderella is a maid, the other stepsister is gorgeous, the fairy godmother is missing and the ridiculously hot prince has his eye on someone else. Kat needs to muster all of her modern-day-girl wiles to complete the story or she’ll be trapped in a story world with no electricity, internet, or women’s rights forever.


I loved the worldbuilding. I loved how Kat was sucked into a story all of its own, and how it seemed kind of similar to the Georgian era, but you know, with fairies and gnomes and magic and stuff. I totally bought this town at the base of a huge palatial castle and even the tedium of the social engagements Kat was forced to endure as an unmarried lady were believable – even all the girls throwing themselves at the prince, because what else happens in a Cinderella story?


Kat was a really cool character. Her modern-day sensibilities and personality completely took over the body of the ugly stepsister Katriona and she strived to make life better not only for Cinderella-to-be, but for the other household servants and the general populace, starting with the much abused children. I really liked how it took time for her to change from the shy, clumsy girl into a confident young woman, and the change was almost unremarkable.


Kat’s relationships were by far the strongest aspect of the book. Her relationship with Elle, the future Cinderella, was sweet and caring and totally inappropriate – but that’s what made it so great. Poppy was a darling and I could tell from the first moment she and Kat would be great friends. Bianca was as cold as ice and it reflected in her relationship with her sister.

But the relationship with the prince, Edward, was stunning. Kat wasn’t even interested in him because she knew he was destined for Elle, which made watching him fall in love with her and then her realising her own feelings that much more fun. It was a totally awesome kind of forbidden love and just a little bit swoony, complete with Mr Darcy-like dislike of him upon the initial meeting. Oh, it was just so cleverly written and I totally ended up shipping those two so hard. Sorry, Elle!


I was even kept in suspense on how it might end – I had my certain hopes, but none of them came true. I found the ending satisfactory, and although I don’t necessarily agree that Kat went through everything only to be asked out by a hot boy, I do have to admit that she changed as a character and the ending would not have worked if she hadn’t grown and spent all that time in Storyworld.

Overall I adored this book – the quality was just as high as a traditionally published book and it had enough twists on the traditional Cinderella retelling to keep me guessing til the very end. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys comedies of errors, contemporary YA and fairytale retellings.

I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for ♛ Garima ♛.
911 reviews181 followers
July 12, 2016

Ever since I read 'The Selection', I turned bit skeptic while picking up book with gorgeous gown on cover. I didn't like Selection that much and you can't blame me for being cautious. But this was a clear winner.

The idea of Ugly stepsister is appalling but what if stepsister was actually Cinderella's friend? What if she was genuinely happy for her to be with the Prince?

And what if in becoming friend with Cinderella and everyone else, 'The ugly stepsister' actually becomes favourite of Prince?

First you accompany your servant to find a doctor for her mother, then you pour wine over the nation's biggest tycoon. You interview child laborers and published a report. And now you're assisting your friend with her elopement? Just when I am amazed at your latest effort, you manage to surprise me with another.

This was was perfect! I'm pretty hard to please person but this one deserves 5 stars - no less!

Everyone's happily ever after is different and I am really okay with ending.
Profile Image for GrapedUp.
233 reviews26 followers
May 23, 2017
Why dear author whyyyy
Half way through the book I was ready to give this book 5 stars but whyyy
Why did you end it that way????
I can't.
I picked this book after a bad experience with Geekerella so I asked my friend to recommend a Cinderella retelling that she thinks I would love.
And I did love this book.
But the ending just broke my heart T_T
June 12, 2015
The review was first posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds

I received a digital copy of the book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating 4.5 stars

There are honestly way too many fairy tale retellings in bookworm world, so it should be totally used up idea that doesn't have anything new to give anymore! BOING!! WRONG!! I shouldn't be, but I am so happy that authors, different authors still continue to surprise me!

"If Beast gave me a library like he gave to Belle, I'd marry him too."

Kat is a typical bookworm - and by typical - I of course mean awesome - cause she loves reading, fictional characters more than real ones and loves getting lost in the fictional world - in short she is me, she is you and she is every single book worm there in this world (gender be damned!).

So, when Kat accidently rips apart an old Cinderella book - while she is cleaning out the old boxes of books reluctantly! - she is transferred into the body (her soul that is!) into the body of Katriona, Stepsister of Cinderella (Ella in this version!).

"It's fictional world, Kat. There's no need to be so into it."

This version of Cinderella is different (it has to be!) - it requires Kat do all the work, from finding the fairy Godmother to uncovering the history of Ella to actually fighting for the rights of those less fortunate - she does it all and she does it while believing that she is the bad guy in the story!

She is absolutely brilliant in the story. I fell in love with the character so hard - that I was almost heartbroken when the story ended! Kat transforms from a likeable awkward bookworm to a strong female character that I respected as much as admired!

There are a variety of secondary characters ranging from goblins to faeries to dukes to prince but Kat does overshadow them, through no fault of her own - especially since this is a single POV book! The writing is absolutely brilliant - it is simple yet effective in getting the emotions and the circumstances across to the reader perfectly.

Best part - there is no Insta - Love! You have to know, I was dreading that scenario but the romance was actually quite sedate in the book - in fact it was actually the perfect amount!

The only issue I had with the book was (except the single POV) was the ending. While intellectually I understand why the Ms. Ling ended it the way she did, I needed to know what happened with the Storybrook Characters, especially Edward - I actually swiped my iPad a couple of times to even check if there was anything else written :P

But in the end, this book was a cute story that has definitely made me interested in more of Ms. Ling's books :)

"Okay Kat. This is Story World, for heaven's sake, so get a grip on yourself. You've no business drooling over storybrook characters. Remember the mission."

^^ THIS! This is like the mantra I should always live by :P
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
893 reviews253 followers
March 18, 2017
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm a bit of a sucker for fairytale retellings, so I snatched this one up right when I saw it! I thought this was a very interesting take on a well known tale and I got sucked in (ha ha) right from the start! This book can now go down as one of my favorite retellings!

Kat is told to clean out the attic and comes across an old stash of picture books, when she accidentally rips one of the books, she gets sucked into the story. Now she has to play out the tale of Cinderella, all the way to the happy ending. But she's not Cinderella, she's one of the stepsisters and nothing seems to be following the story. Since when does Cinderella have another family? Where is the fairy godmother? And why is the prince taking an interest in Kat?

This book was actually very unexpected for me, because it's a retelling but not a strict retelling. I actually enjoy this, even though it made things more difficult for Kat, because it maakes the story completely new and it just all-in all surprised me. There were other things that I weren't expecting, like the child labor, but it did oddly add more to the book. It made the setting feel more real, not all rainbows and butterflies, and also added more to Kat's character.

Kat is actually a very relateable heroine. One might think she's just another one of those YA girls that think they're ugly and awkward, but not. She's not an ugly girl, and she thinks she's more average, but she's cast as "the ugly stepsister" because of how she thinks of herself. I say she's relateable because a lot of girls, me included, feel awkward and whatnot. I also say she's relateable because she likes to read!! I love characters who read! One other thing important about Kat is that she will stand up for what's right and againght what's wrong, hence the child labor thing, and all throughout the book she tried to inish the story to get home to her family, even if she was finding her own happiness.

As for romance, I actually really liked it. It was a bit confusing,, because you want things to happen, but you don't think they will or things will work out differently, but there was no insta-love or other cheesiness that you would expect and I actually really liked the guy.

Now, I wasn't the biggest fan of the ending. I'm being vague, but I knew it would end that way, sort of, but it doesn't mean I didn't like it. It also included a trope I hate in books.

Overall, this was a brilliant retelling and it was very different! I think my only major problem that I had was the ending, but I'll just pretend that it didn't end that way.
Anyway, if you're a retellings fan, pick this one up!
Profile Image for Fifi’s Bookshelf.
266 reviews78 followers
December 12, 2015
Where has this book been my whole life? This is one of the best fairytale books I have read in a long time, and I read a lot of them because they are my favorite genre. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did; it definitely surpassed my expectations!

Our heroine is Kat, who is an awkward, clumsy, but endearing bookworm. She is cleaning out the old books in her attic when she runs across an old copy of Cinderella. Unfortunately, she trips and ends up ripping the book, which gets her sucked right into the story as a result of a curse that is placed on anyone who damages the book. She finds herself living as one of Cinderella's wealthy stepsisters, rather than as Cinderella, in the story world. Her goal is to make sure one of the servants in her household, Elle (aka Cinderella), ends up marrying the prince, or else the curse will not be broken and she will be stuck in the storybook forever.

What I loved about this book is that it is technically a retelling of Cinderella but it's a loose one. Instead of having Kat obsessing over getting home and putting too much emphasis on pushing Elle and the prince together, the book also focuses on how Kat stands up for herself and for the social issues in the story world. I loved that this book showed that women can be strong, independent, and make a difference. She refuses to accept her place in society as a weak, simpleminded woman who only cares about attending parties and social gatherings. She makes herself aware of the issues of the kingdom, namely the work conditions of poor children. She immerses herself in that world and sees for herself what life for the poor is like, and she is not afraid to speak up against it. Kat remains firm in her beliefs and willingness to help, despite the fact that the other members of wealthy society either disagree with her opinions or could care less about the welfare of the poor. Of course, Kat is also extremely awkward and clumsy and falls countless times in this book, but it's actually hilarious and amusing and makes her a million times more relatable and likable.

Basically, this book was just the fairytale retelling I was looking for because it is the perfect kind of fairytale I like to read. It isn't high fantasy with an overdose of sword and knight type of stuff, it isn't overly similar to the original fairytale (which can be boring sometimes) and it isn't a dark fairytale retelling (I don't like dark fairytale books for some reason). If those are the kinds of fairytale books you like to read, you'll love this light and fun fairytale book. The only thing that was bittersweet was that ending. It wasn't unhappy but it wasn't completely happy either if that makes sense. The ending wasn't perfect, but there really wasn't a way to have a perfect ending with the way the plot was going. That's why I'm so relieved the author is writing a sequel, coming out next year, to tie up loose ends! I'm excited already!

5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Χριστίνα Ψύλλα.
Author 2 books396 followers
April 18, 2019
Oh my God! I just finished it and I feel soooooo frustrated! I mean... what a book?!
I totally loved it ❤ It was funny, anxious, astonishing and in simple words a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
That end though... 😭😭 I need the second one right now!
I cant believe that I didn't persuaded earlier... Now I have to wait 😣
Anyway, dont miss these books. They are a MUST !
Profile Image for Ligs.
38 reviews
June 7, 2015
I received an ecopy of this book from the author Aya Ling. Thanks!

5 out of 5 stars on goodreads
10 out of 10 stars on my blog

3 Words...

"I loved it"

Plus 2 words...

"So Much!!!"

This is the first book of 2015 (probably the first book of my life) that has a good retelling of stories. Especially... It's CINDERELLA!!!!

Aya Ling, she did well on this book. I knew I was going to have fun reading this book and I got it right. I really did enjoy book. It was fast paced and by fast paced, I mean like its a fast reading that doesn't confuse you 'til the end of the book. I read it for 2 and a half days (but I could do a day if only reading slump won't bother me) I was confused at first(e.g. the story line of Cinderella is different in this book but I had to remind myself that this is a retelling) but as you keep reading you will finally know the secret of this book. And it's a very unique book. Also, mind you, it keeps on getting interesting, chapter by chapter.

This book made me realize that sometimes wherever you go it might affect you emotionally because there were scenes that were heartbreaking to read like those children's labor thing and a death. This book also made me debate myself that Elle is not Cinderella. I thought she was not Elle considering that she should be the only servant and her name should be Ella and her dress is white instead of blue but then I realize this is a retelling And this book gave me shivers because of lovey dovey moments. I just love this book it made me feel sentimental, happy, sad also angry and shivers. It's because I love the book and I enjoyed it so much.

Kat/Katriona, I just love her!!!!!!!!!! She resembles me a lot and maybe some of us. She loves to read, she tends to be nervous when a cute guy talks to her but later on, that trait disappears, She is the eldest sibling, She thinks she is a loser (which I usually think of myself uhuh), she has this jealous feeling towards her younger siblings. Kat is me ( if that was possible, like she was able to go to Cinderella World. which is not going to happen to me). Also the best thing about kat is her humor. She is really funny. It's funny how she compares the world of Cinderella and the modern world and she is just really funny.

Darcy/ Prince Edward. I love the name Edward (if you question why I like, it's because of Twilight. Don't judge me :( ) HE IS SO HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I visualize him as the prince in cinderella 2015 (Richard Madden. That hot Scottish man) I want to go to that world now. Also Henry is dreamy!!!! Both of them!!! 2 hot boys in one books. Thats too m--- I can handle it. I'm sure.

I recommend the book to those who love Cinderella!! and those who love RICHARD MADDEN!!!


Profile Image for Romanticamente Fantasy.
6,559 reviews188 followers
May 15, 2019
Uno young adult molto simpatico, scritto piuttosto bene e con delle rielaborazioni moderne della favola di Cenerentola. Kat, la protagonista, è afflitta da una tale goffaggine da rendere difficili i rapporti con l’altro sesso, adora leggere, appartiene a una famiglia monogenitoriale e ha una sorella minore completamente diversa da lei.

Il tutto ha inizio quando Kat, dopo aver strappato per errore le pagine del libro di Cenerentola, si ritrova magicamente trasportata nella famosa fiaba nelle vesti di Katriona, una delle odiate sorellastre. Per tornare a casa, dovrà fare in modo che la storia segua il suo corso fino alla fine altrimenti verrà condannata all’eterna permanenza in quel mondo fantastico. Ovviamente l’impresa si rivelerà ardua.

Immaginatevi come possa essere sconvolgente per una teenager dei nostri giorni trovarsi in un mondo austero, poco incline alla spontaneità e dove ogni minimo gesto è dettato dall’etichetta, dove la moda impone alle donne di indossare abiti che hanno un grande effetto scenico ma che certamente non si possono definire comodi.

Naturalmente non può mancare il principe, un tipo piuttosto originale verso il quale Kat proverà una grande attrazione. Ma come andrà finire? Su chi ricadrà la scelta del bel giovane?

Benché l‘autrice abbia avuto davvero delle ottime intuizioni che rendono la storia davvero simpatica, personalmente ritengo che al romanzo manchi un pochino di verve narrativa. Ho avuto l’impressione che qualche cosa impedisse alla scrittura di fluire nel giusto modo e sicuramente la traduzione ha giocato un ruolo significativo in questo. Il linguaggio è certamente corretto e non volgare, ma talvolta un pochino troppo pedissequo e poco sciolto.

Nell’insieme una buona lettura, adatta ad un pubblico giovane. Attendiamo il prossimo.
Emanuela - per RFS
Profile Image for Stacy.
1,333 reviews63 followers
July 3, 2015
I gave it 4.5 stars

I honestly still think about THE UGLY STEPSISTER days after reading it. It was so fun to read a whole new take on Cinderella.

Kat LOVES to read and when her old picture book rips apart in her hands she is forced to play out a story and make sure she gets the characters to the end. She is cast in the role of one of the ugly stepsisters, but she is anything but ugly. She is a bit of a clutz, but she is very loyal and caring. She doesn't like how some of her new friends are treated and fights for them. She has an instant connection with the prince, but really wants to go home and she knows he is supposed to be with Cinderella.

I really enjoyed all the struggles that Kat found herself in. Because she is from a different time she has a whole new way of thinking and it really made her character stick out. The romance between her and Prince Edward was sweet, but not overly done. I enjoyed the supporting cast of characters and was rooting for them all to get their happily ever afters too.

I did have one issue with THE UGLY STEPSISTER, I didn't love the ending. I hated that there really wasn't a happily ever after in the larger sense. I don't want to go to much into it because that would spoil it, but I was hoping for more when the story part of the story ended. Would I read it again? Oh yea, I so want to see a movie about the ugly stepsister now.

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lyn *GLITTER VIKING*.
345 reviews99 followers
June 25, 2015
Read to: 6%

I can't even with this.

I love the concept - that is why I am giving it two stars. We can't all be the pretty special snowflake.

However, the writing is just way off for me. Here are so many exclamation points and "Noooooo!" is used a few too many times for my taste. I also find it hard to believe that a serial reader doesn't understand how the plot works in Cinderella. She is shocked when the maids are thrown off by her thankful attitude. Hello! You are one of the SPOILED STEPSISTERS!! I can totally understand the desire to not fall into that roll, but the MC is very much confused and even muses about the world she is living in currently when the hired help is thrown off by a simple "Thank you."

It is because you are acting out of character, Stepsister, not because "Thank you" is such a foreign concept.

I really wanted to love this one, since I have seen so many glowing reviews.

I wish Ling the best of luck in the future in her writing career.
Profile Image for C.P. Cabaniss.
Author 5 books96 followers
June 27, 2015
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.*

I was actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. While I thought the beginning was rather slow and too descriptive, it developed into a quite compelling read as it progressed. It wasn't just a generic copy of Cinderella either, it had its own twists that made it unique. It was actually a nice blend of Cinderella, Jane Austen (almost any of her novels), with a hint of Dickens and Gaskell.

The romance wasn't overdone and the characters were well written and interacted well with each other. The ending was very satisfactory and left me impressed with Aya Ling's writing. I am looking forward to picking up more of her books.

The full review will be up on my blog on the 12th at this link:http://courtneysreads.blogspot.com/20...
Profile Image for Caroline.
343 reviews5 followers
July 17, 2015
DNF at 19%

I just couldn't get into this book. I liked the idea, I liked the twist on the classic fairy tale (I skimmed it to get the gist of what happened in the end), and I like the unconventional protagonist.
However, I just couldn't handle the writing style and the vernacular choices. There was also a lot more telling rather than showing.
Profile Image for Marie - au plaisir de lire.
538 reviews10 followers
July 29, 2021
J'avais besoin de me changer un peu les idées au niveau lecture et mon choix s'est porté un peu par hasard sur ce roman que j'ai acheté il y a un petit moment maintenant.
Finalement, c'est une très bonne surprise ! L'écriture n'est pas très élaborée, mais est fluide et ça se lit tout seul. On suit les aventures d'une jeune fille du monde moderne qui est envoyée dans le conte de Cendrillon avec pour mission d'achever l'histoire. J'ai beaucoup aimé cette réécriture du conte, j'ai trouvé que l'autrice avait fait des choix intéressants et originaux au niveau de l'intrigue. Les personnages sont globalement bien croqués et les relations de Kat avec Ella ou avec le prince sont touchantes.
J'ai juste un petit regret sur la manière dont l'histoire se termine : on a le droit à une fin ouverte, ce qui est loin d'être ce que je préfère... Mais après avoir été lire le résumé des tomes suivants, je suis perplexe sur le choix fait par l'autrice pour la suite de l'histoire. Je vais donc en rester là, d'autant que ce premier tome peut complètement se suffire à lui-même !
Profile Image for Dragana.
1,681 reviews142 followers
July 15, 2015
To attract me, a good fairy tale retelling needs to follow one simple rule: to twist the story a little bit. Aya Ling followed this magical formula and the result was The Ugly Stepsister – a fun retelling of Cinderella.


* Interesting twist to the story. Cinderella is one of more popular fairy tales for girls. Aya Ling retells the story from the point of view of the ugly stepsister, or at least from the point of view of the modern girl who gets stuck in that role.

* Main character I could relate to. I could never imagine myself in a role of Cinderella: she is a big pushover. But I could easily imagine myself in Kat’s shoes and most of my reactions would have been similar. Kat blatantly ignores Victorian setting and fights for her rights.

* Bookworm heroine. What can I say, I always feel extra close to a character who can appreciate a good book. Going on balls or snuggling in a bed with hot chocolate and a book – Kat and I would make the same choice. ;)

* Realistic coming of age story. In the beginning Kat annoyed me with her shyness and stumbling when she meets cute boys. It was too similar to some popular cliches. But, I loved it how Kat grows up and gains confidence as the story progressed.

* Sweet romance. Like every fairy tale love story should be, the romance is so sweet and cute. Although there are a couple of steamy kisses, it mostly radiates that warm fuzzy feeling, the same when you watch your favorite fairy tale cartoon.

* It’s not only about the romance or about Kat going back to her family. Aya Ling wonderfully describes to us how lucky we are to live today. Victorian society is often romanticized in novels, but here Aya Ling bares it’s flaws for us. There are a lot of secondary characters whose tragic stories touched my heart.


* Kat is sometimes illogically uninformed. Bookish Kat is dumbfounded and asks about the social calls, how to talk to servants, etc. I think that etiquette rules of polite society in Victorian time period should have been familiar to her, since she likes to read.

* Everything happens too easy, like in a fairy tale. The Ugly Stepsister is a fairy tale retelling and young adult novel, but it does not mean that it should be naive. Sometimes events unravel in just the way that suits Kat. It would have never happened in real life like that.


The Ugly Stepsister had everything I expected from a good fairy tale retelling (or a good young adult novel too): twist to make it interesting, like-able heroine and cute love story. In the end, I was left with a slight smile on my lips and a twinkle in my eyes, like every good fairy tale should do.

Aya Ling says that she might write more fairy tale retellings, and I am looking it. In the meantime I will definitely check out her other novels. I think i will start with Princesses Don't Get Fat since its a Kindle freebie. ;)

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from author in exchange for a fair and honest review. This text is also posted on my blog Bookworm Dreams in a little bit more styled edition.
Profile Image for Shruti.
403 reviews75 followers
October 26, 2020
3rd read thoughts

Lord I can't help it! I just HAD to re read it again. ( And I've done so WAY more times than the mentioned three here so far ) This story is never far from my mind. I always keep reminiscing about Kat and Edward ....about how they met....all major character development moments....witty banter....AHhh the wonders! (sighs)
And just reminiscing is never enough. And so I find myself re reading all over again. Sometimes just specific parts (okay not so specific as I'm bound to get carried away. But Hey! It's Kat and Edward we're talking about here!!!) and other times the whole book.

I do not think I can ever have enough of them. If you haven't read this series yet and are a fairy tale fan then I must say WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR ?

2nd read thoughts

The book is just as lovely as I remember from the first time I read it and I am just as besotted. It's truly a shame how not everyone knows about it.

I really like Edward and Kat. They are always on my mind. Which is why it is no wonder that I have been re reading these books all over again even if it was only last year that I read it for the first time. They make a lovely pair and the story is very well written and so interesting.

Highly recommended !!!

1st read thoughts

This book was simply fantastic. Such an awesome retelling of the beloved Cinderella. Normally there are quite some expectation a reader has while reading Cinderella and believe me you won't be disappointed in the least. This is definitely something you won't want to miss. And I am definitely picking this one up again soon. What an incredible creation!!!!

The 5 star doesn't do it justice. It deserves way more.

This book gives a totally different perspective to Cinderella. Personally Cinderella has never exactly been one of my favourites. Although I could see the appeal , it never seemed to grow up much on much. But now I think it was more because of the way the story normally used to be told or simply how I perceived it ,cause that is the most common vision of Cinderella most people have. This book was kinda like an eye opener. It tales the classical fairy tale to a different level. This whole idea is phenomenal. This might as well have been some random fantasy story but the whole Cinderella elements have been very well induced . It blends so well ,magically weaving through. I just love it. And it is a big feat given the fact that no other Cinderella retellings have ever remotely interested me. They just seem to be repetitive. This is absolutely original. Some elements like being transported to other world and things might not be something we haven't heard of before but hey! That's just the skeleton. What lies underneath is worth reading.
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,949 reviews306 followers
June 8, 2015

As readers of The Phantom Paragrapher will know, I am a huge fan of rendition based stories and tales. One of my favourites is Cinderella. In The Ugly Stepsister, Kat is sent upstairs to the attic to clean out her old books and boxes. In one of them she finds a real old copy of Cinderella , she opens it and "ripppppp" the books pages fall apart in her hands. All of a sudden, she wakes up as Katriona , one of the Ugly Stepsisters from the tale of Cinderella. She is now living in the storybook world of Cinderella and if she can't fix the story , she will have to remain there forever . Kat learns that the book she ripped was cursed by the Goblin King and the only way to get home is to finish the story. The thing is though , only the first page is intact - the rest of the story she will have to re-create. What will happen though when her idea of Cinderella does not match up with the reality she is living ? Kat meets her Cinderella aka Elle Thatcher - the thing is though that Elle has another family and isn't living in the castle , then when Kat meets the Prince and his friend Henry - the prince only has eyes for Kat and Elle likes Henry. The moral of this story though is never give up and if you at first fail, try -try again and the outcomes may surprise you as the tale transforms from Cinderella to The Ugly Stepsister.
The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling is the perfect read for all those fans of Cinderella and Twisted Fairytales.
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