new rating system & Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire review

I recently realized that the way I rate the books I read needed revising. I’ve always used a scale of 0-5 (0 being for the books I found so bad I couldn’t even finish them and 5 being the best), but just exactly what qualified for each rank was sort of hazy. So I decided it was high time to FINALLY become a little clearer in what counted as what in my ranking. By the way, one of the things that alerted me to my lack of a strong ranking system was a response to the Top Ten Tuesday meme that said this:

10. Readers/Reviewers Who Love Every Book.  No you don’t.  Don’t be afraid to have a negative opinion about a book.  Isn’t that what we’re here for? to be honest?  You can be respectful & tasteful & still not like a book.

Ginger from GReads had this in her guest post at The Broke and the Bookish‘s blog (the host of the meme). While I don’t claim to LOVE every book I read, I think that most of the time I rank anything I remotely like in the 4-5 category. I have hardly any 1-3s (but a couple 0s). So I thank Ginger for pointing this out and making me realize that I really did need to clarify my ranks.

So, after having looked at a few blogs that posted their ranking systems, what I came up with is pictured to the side. (I also have it posted in my sidebar.)
(NOTE: There is a difference between hating a book and not finishing a book. I might be able to finish a book and say I hate it, but  sometimes I may despise/hate a book SOOO much that I can’t even finish it. A small difference, but a difference nonetheless.)

TitleConfessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Author: Gregory Maguire

Genre: fiction (sort of spoof-ish)
ISBN: 9780060987527
368 pages
: 1999
Source: personal collection
Rating: 2/5
Resolutions: Personal Collection Resolution

Reason for Reading: I really enjoyed Wicked by Gregory Maguire, so I wanted to see if I would also like this one. Plus, I’ve owned this for at least five years and hadn’t read it yet–so it counted for my Personal Collection Resolution.


Summary (Product Description):

We have all heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ahes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty…and what curses accompanied Cinderella’s looks?

Set against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris’s path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister. While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household–and the treacherous truth of her former life.

My Thoughts: Doesn’t that make the story sound like there’s going to be a lot of jealousy and sibling rivalry?? That’s what it sounded like to me, but those two aspects I thought would play a major part in the story were practically nonexistent. So my primary expectation of the book wasn’t met. Now, I know, that’s not the author’s fault that the product description misleads possible readers. But there were other reasons I didn’t really care for the book.

The reason I disliked this one is related to why I enjoyed Wicked so much. In Wicked, Maguire told the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before Dorothy stumbled into the Land of Oz in The Wizard of Oz. He didn’t rewrite a classic with Wicked, but created a completely untold story. But in CoaUS, I think Maguire did rewrite a little too much of a classic fairy tale, at least for my taste. The beginning of the story was pretty good–when Maguire was creating a story all his own, I liked it. But when Iris and Ruth became Clara’s stepsisters and Margarethe became her stepmother, that’s when I started to dislike the story. The author tampered too much with the story when the father-figure in the story didn’t actually die and when the relationship between the stepsisters was vastly different–possibly even the complete opposite–from what we normally hear in the Cinderella tale.

😦 I truly feel that lots of other people would like this book and that it was just me who didn’t care for it. But if you do read it, be forewarned that, in my opinion, the product description isn’t very true to what is actually in the story.


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