Eyes Like Stars Info

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All her world’s a
stage

Enter Stage Right

Beatrice
Shakespeare Smith (Bertie): Our heroine.
Nate: A dashing pirate who
will do anything to protect Bertie.
Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and
Peaseblossom: Four tiny, mischievous fairies, and Bertie’s loyal
sidekicks.
Ariel: A seductive air spirit. Disaster follows in his
wake, but Bertie simply cannot resist him.

Welcome to the
Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever
written can be found behind the curtain. The actors are bound to the
Théâtre by The Book, an ancient and magical tome of scripts.
Bertie is not one of the actors, but they are her family. And she is
about to lose them all because The Book has been threatened, and along
with it the Théâtre. It’s the only home Bertie has ever
known, and she has to find a way to save it. But first, there’s
the small problem of two handsome men, both vying for her attention. The
course of true love never did run smooth. . . .

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Eyes Like Stars:

2

Dec 08, 2011



For a magical fantasy book about fairies, Shakespearian characters and a heroine with blue hair, this is quite a dull lacklustre novel.

It could have been great.

Eyes Like Stars is about a theatre where characters from all the plays are trapped by a mystical "Book of the Stage", doomed to repeatedly perform their roles on a continuous loop forever... unless Bertie - aided by the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream - can discover the secrets of the Theatre Illuminata and what traps them there

For a magical fantasy book about fairies, Shakespearian characters and a heroine with blue hair, this is quite a dull lacklustre novel.

It could have been great.

Eyes Like Stars is about a theatre where characters from all the plays are trapped by a mystical "Book of the Stage", doomed to repeatedly perform their roles on a continuous loop forever... unless Bertie - aided by the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream - can discover the secrets of the Theatre Illuminata and what traps them there and just what, if anything, will set them free. It all sounds full of fabulousness and magical excitement. It isn't really.

The characters: a heroine with blue hair, Ariel from The Tempest, the fairies, a pirate, and an assortment of other seemingly wonderful creatures... they should be fascinating, they should vibrantly dance off the page, but they are boring. I cared nothing for Ariel's ridiculous hissy fits, I cared nothing for the blossoming romance between Nate (the pirate) and Bertie, I honestly couldn't give a damn whether they stayed playing their parts forever. And that's the problem, I should care.

I also found the characters dialogue very strange, they didn't seem to know what time they belonged in. They would start off in archaic language that made me think the novel was actually supposed to be set in Shakespeare's time, and then they would throw a completely modern phrase into their speech. Plus, occasionally the novel would switch to script format to tell a little story and I can't for the life of me imagine why. It was random, weird, it added nothing... oh yes, I get it, the novel is set in a theatre and in theatres you have scripts... great.

I think this book stemmed from an exciting idea that had nowhere to go and I find it very surprising that this is the first in a series (trilogy?). Characters trapped inside a theatre? Cool. Fairies, pirates, magic?! Awesome. Now what??? Errrr.

This was disappointing. ...more
2

Nov 01, 2009

I feel like the village idiot, because half of the time I had no idea what the hell was going on. So much stuff happened at the same time and for some reason I kept getting confused because of all the scene changes. Am I really getting that old?

I liked Bertie a lot (her hair is awesome) and the 4 faeries are hilarious. I even laughed out loud a few times. I don't really understand her fixation on Ariel (I kept getting distracted by an image of the Ariel the mermaid) though, there really isn't I feel like the village idiot, because half of the time I had no idea what the hell was going on. So much stuff happened at the same time and for some reason I kept getting confused because of all the scene changes. Am I really getting that old?

I liked Bertie a lot (her hair is awesome) and the 4 faeries are hilarious. I even laughed out loud a few times. I don't really understand her fixation on Ariel (I kept getting distracted by an image of the Ariel the mermaid) though, there really isn't much to like besides his face. Nate is much more interesting but when I think about it.... Neither of those boys have a lot of depth in their characters, which is too bad.

Oh and last but not least: the cover is gorgeous. ...more
4

Jan 16, 2010

Can imagine it as an animated film. Hayao Miyazaki comes to mind.
4

Jan 24, 2018

What a magical story!! From the way its written in context of a play, to the magical way the Theatre works, to the many different actors and actresses that are actually fairies and mermaids and kings and queens who have come to be a part of this magical Theatre. And among them all is Bertie, or Beatrice Shakespeare Smith. She is a wild child who has grown up in the Theatre with no recollection of how she got there or who her parents are. But none the less she has grown up into a beautiful and What a magical story!! From the way its written in context of a play, to the magical way the Theatre works, to the many different actors and actresses that are actually fairies and mermaids and kings and queens who have come to be a part of this magical Theatre. And among them all is Bertie, or Beatrice Shakespeare Smith. She is a wild child who has grown up in the Theatre with no recollection of how she got there or who her parents are. But none the less she has grown up into a beautiful and creative young woman with so much life and beauty to contribute to the magical place in which she lives. And that BEAUTIFUL cover!! OMG! I want to see the entire book drawn by the artist who made that cover because. just. wow!!!

I loved her bedroom and how it was actually just a set on stage that disappeared each and ever day only to reappear in time for her to go back to bed. I loved her friends the fairies from midsummer nights dream. I loved that instead of a normal bath in the bathroom she instead would call on a set of a greek bath house, or instead of cleaning up her mess she could just call on a stormy scene to wash away the stage. The little things like that made this book so different and creative that I could hardly keep myself from reading the whole thing at once!

I wish I knew a little more about theater and playwriting because that would only help me to appreciate this book more. From the way that certain parts of the book were sections of scenes. To the How Bertie Came to the Theatre play that Bertie wrote herself. There are so many details to account for that I probably didn't notice but would appreciate that much more if I only knew to look for them.

All in all this was a great book, super sweet and full of magic. I could picture each scene so vividly, and the characters really did come to life in my mind. I am excited to see where it goes in the second book in the trilogy. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has any theater knowledge or interest, or anyone who loves Shakespeare and his plays. They will appreciate it that much more knowing where all the inspiration for this book originated.

Onto the next!
Happy Reading :) ...more
4

Feb 11, 2009

One of the most unique books I've ever read, with a strong girl hero, a fascinating setting in the ultimate theater, and real fairies--on wires! What's not to like?!
5

Mar 13, 2010

While reading Eyes Like Stars, here are some words that kept coming to mind:"Creative!" "Fun!" "Original!" "Whimsical!" "Hysterical!" but most importantly: "CLEVER." The world of the Theatre that Mantchev has created is utterly and deliciously clever. Everything about the book was enjoyable for me. I was a little skeptical of the book's premise that all theater characters - not just the Shakespearean ones - live in the same magical theater, but Mantchev handled it really well and kept the story While reading Eyes Like Stars, here are some words that kept coming to mind:"Creative!" "Fun!" "Original!" "Whimsical!" "Hysterical!" but most importantly: "CLEVER." The world of the Theatre that Mantchev has created is utterly and deliciously clever. Everything about the book was enjoyable for me. I was a little skeptical of the book's premise that all theater characters - not just the Shakespearean ones - live in the same magical theater, but Mantchev handled it really well and kept the story simple: she didn't overextend herself or make things too complicated.

In regards to the MC, Bertie, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I actually liked her, from page 1 until the very end of the story. She has an excellent, wry sense of humor that I found very refreshing. She was a little on the bossy side, but her good humor and her spirit of determination proved stronger traits. Bertie's four fairy friends - Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom - were adorable all throughout the story, and I loved them all! I wish I had little fairy sidekicks! And this is almost unprecedented, but as to the two "leading men" characters, Ariel from The Tempest and Nate, a pirate from The Little Mermaid, I love both of them. Equally. Well, maybe I like Ariel just a little more. That's so weird. I am notoriously grouchy when it comes to love-triangles, but in ELS, it totally worked. Maybe it's because Lisa Mantchev doesn't beat you over the head with over-the-top drama and forced feelings, and also she doesn't put a lot of focus on this aspect of the story. It just came together very nicely, and I'm not just saying that, because like I said, I'm usually grouchy about love triangles.

One more thing: I really want to harp on Lisa Mantchev's writing style a little bit, because in all honesty I think this is a part of storytelling that doesn't get as much recognition as it should. Her writing style is absolutely 100% G/T clever. A lot of times authors can get by on just entertainment alone, and so you have books (and sorry to say, I think this happens in YA way more than adult fiction) that are entertaining and present an interesting/engaging story, but the writing is nothing special. The narrative voice, the VOCABULARY, the tone...everything was just beautiful and superb. If you haven't read Eyes Like Stars yet, but plan on it in the future, I really want you to pay attention to the quality of Mantchev's writing.

...more
3

Jun 20, 2010

I have to get something off my chest. *takes deep breath* I bought this book for it's cover. I didn't even read the description first.

This book takes place entirely in an enchanted theater ran by The Book. The Book is what bounds the Players to the roles they were born to play, and it domineers over the magical scene changes. 17 yr old Bertie is not a Player nor a crew member, but has called the Theater her home for the past 10 years, not knowing where she came from. Bertie and her companions, I have to get something off my chest. *takes deep breath* I bought this book for it's cover. I didn't even read the description first.

This book takes place entirely in an enchanted theater ran by The Book. The Book is what bounds the Players to the roles they were born to play, and it domineers over the magical scene changes. 17 yr old Bertie is not a Player nor a crew member, but has called the Theater her home for the past 10 years, not knowing where she came from. Bertie and her companions, the four mischievous fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream and Nate, a minor pirate from The Little Mermaid, have been known to get into trouble. After a particularly bad incident, it looks like Bertie's time in the Theater has finally come to pass. But Bertie has one final chance to prove that she can contribute: become a Director and sell out a performance. Of course, not everything goes smoothly as the Players become more and more unsettled with their given roles.

Bertie, while kind of immature for a 17 year old, is strong and funny in her own right. How can you expect a girl who grows up with the most dramatic characters ever to grace the stage not to be colorful? And I love her choice of hair color. The fairies that follow Bertie around and join her in her antics are some of the funnest and funniest characters I have ever experienced. I want one for myself. I'll just have to remember to hide my Twinkies. Nate is a little dry, but sweet enough. I just hope Mantchev fleshes him out more. Ariel's name bothers me. I think of a red-haired mermaid. This made things difficult for me when the romantic tension was being built.

The setting was easily the best part of the book, even though some times I had no idea what was going on. It's not a point of pride for me, but sometimes I couldn't follow the action. It seemed to jump from one point to the other without much of a bridge in between.

I liked the book. Not as much as I could have, but I'm definitely glad that lush cover pulled me in. And the cover also helped in my visualization of Bertie and the fairies. Alexa, I agree with you. This book would be awesome as a animated film by Mr. Miyazaki.

I will read the sequel when I have the chance. I'm looking forward to being drawn into such an imaginative world again. ...more
4

Mar 16, 2009

Disclosure: Lisa Mantchev is a friend and I've been reading drafts of this book since before she found it's name. Also, I freelance as her sidekick and occasional ninja. Yes, I am bragging. She's worth bragging about.

In Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev tells a simple story, about a found orphan struggling to save her home.

Except that Bertie's home is a theater. And not just a theater, but *the* theatre, where all the characters of all the works of all humanity make their home. She's grown up Disclosure: Lisa Mantchev is a friend and I've been reading drafts of this book since before she found it's name. Also, I freelance as her sidekick and occasional ninja. Yes, I am bragging. She's worth bragging about.

In Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev tells a simple story, about a found orphan struggling to save her home.

Except that Bertie's home is a theater. And not just a theater, but *the* theatre, where all the characters of all the works of all humanity make their home. She's grown up amidst pirates, magicians, brigands and elementals. Her best friends in the world are fairies. The stage sets are doorways that let her live and play anywhere and anywhen she wishes to go.

But now she's going to lose it all. Unless she can find a way to keep it.

And all of that? That's chapter one.



As I've mentioned, I've read a few versions of this book, a few times. And despite the repetition, I still get sucked into the book and have trouble putting it down. It's funny (though with the fairies sugar-fixated intensity that may have been inevitable). It's well written, with great imagery, and the pace is relentless, but leaving me feeling that I'm being force-fed.

And the biggest win, to me, is that this is a book with fantastic characters.

The fairies are hilariously insane, of course. Bertie's friends are loyal, in their various ways, but without seeming untrue to their own nature. Bertie herself is a heroine who feels very real, through the variety of adventures she progresses through. (I'm plagued by dear young female relatives who fall around Bertie's age and evince a lot of the same dynamic range. God help us all if they ever find fairies.)

And the villains of the piece are realized characters too. It's a point of personal frustration to read fabulous stories with bad guys who exist for the sole purpose of opposing the Heroine, and that extra bit of depth really gave the story that something that makes me want to reread it.

Of course, that won't be what you remember about the book. You'll remember the fairies. You'll remember Bertie. You'll remember the headlong rush as she throws everything she is and has at trying to save her one place in the world. And you'll laugh. It's a fun, funny book.

Then you'll scowl. Because you'll be at the end of the book, a good non-cliffhanger end. The problem is that it's an good end to a good book, but not the end of the story. Which means that you'll be stuck, like me, waiting for the next book to find out what Bertie does next.

The icing on this cake is Jason Chan's stunning cover art. You know why? Because I'm *NOT* the target audience for this book. I like fantasy, but I'm not so compelled by faeries and I just don't have the connection to the theater that would make me reach for this book first. But that cover would have snagged me. (Heck, the book could be a whole lot worse and I wouldn't mind just for the cover. Fortunately we don't have to deal with that scenario.)



And because it's funny that it's been exactly two years, here's the blurb that I gave Lisa when this process was just getting started: A bold, genre-busting tale of derring-do, of pathos, of bitter conflict, and lasting friendships, Lisa Mantchev's ScrimshawEyes Like Stars is a brilliantly executed tour-de-force, a rousing romp, where all the world's the stage, and only the players can save it.

It's a good book. I recommend it without hesitation.

You can preorder it from various places at the book’s website, at theatre-illuminata.com. In fact, there’s a contest running for free advance review copies, so go check it out. ...more
2

Aug 21, 2014

Eyes Like MEH.

I think the only things I enjoyed was Ariel and the idea of resetting Hamlet (which, once again, was another plot that hyped the reader!). It also didnt help that Bertie acted like an idiot at times, and she was so RUDE to everyone! There were so many times when she told people off when they were honestly trying to help her. Then she pitted people against one another for her own gain. She never took responsibility for her actions, and to top it all off, I never got the chemistry Eyes Like MEH.

I think the only things I enjoyed was Ariel and the idea of resetting Hamlet (which, once again, was another plot that hyped the reader!). It also didn’t help that Bertie acted like an idiot at times, and she was so RUDE to everyone! There were so many times when she told people off when they were honestly trying to help her. Then she pitted people against one another for her own gain. She never took responsibility for her actions, and to top it all off, I never got the chemistry between her and her two points on the love triangle. She treated everyone, especially her so called “crushes” like crap, and at the end, I wanted her booted out on her ass. ...more
2

Oct 28, 2009

Awhile back I won an ARC of Lisa Matchev's EYES LIKE STARS. I was even more excited to read it when the book arrived and I saw the tagline: Theatre Illuminata, Act I. Loved it. Love the whole title, the lush, edgy cover, and the main character's incredibly apt name--Beatrice Shakespeare Smith--known to the inhabitants of the Theatre Illuminata as Bertie. So I was happy to see EYES LIKE STARS nominated for a Cybils award in the YA Scifi/Fantasy category so that I could kick my panelist reading Awhile back I won an ARC of Lisa Matchev's EYES LIKE STARS. I was even more excited to read it when the book arrived and I saw the tagline: Theatre Illuminata, Act I. Loved it. Love the whole title, the lush, edgy cover, and the main character's incredibly apt name--Beatrice Shakespeare Smith--known to the inhabitants of the Theatre Illuminata as Bertie. So I was happy to see EYES LIKE STARS nominated for a Cybils award in the YA Scifi/Fantasy category so that I could kick my panelist reading off with a book I'd already been looking forward to reading. That it was about the stage and included numerous references to Shakespeare was icing on the cake.

Bertie lives in the Theatre Illuminata. Eighteen years ago she was left on the doorstep as a baby and taken in by the Wardrobe Mistress and adopted by nearly every denizen of this most unusual theater. You see, every character in every play ever written lives in the Theatre Illuminata. And in the Theater Manager's office there is "The Book." Spoken of in hushed tones and never really approached, "The Book" contains the script of every play ever written. Something of a charming rebel, Bertie loves her adopted home. She love sleeping in her bedroom on stage. She loves getting into mischief with her four fairy friends: Moth, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, and Mustardseed. And she loves just hanging around with dreamy pirate Nate and, just occasionally, watching him climb the rigging or swing his cutlass about. Then one day the Stage Manager, who's always been out to get Bertie, announces before the entire company that she's out on her ear come end of day. Bertie is shocked, refusing to believe it. Turns out, it's true. She's caused one too many catastrophes and the Theater Manager is sending her packing--back into the real world where she came from. Terrified of leaving and determined to stay in her home, Bertie mounts an unheard of production of Hamlet in order to prove her worth. What she doesn't count on is Ariel, the airy spirit of The Tempest fame, who longs to claim his freedom and sees Bertie as his ticket out.

Lisa Mantchev's debut novel jumps right into the fray with an endearingly devil-may-care attitude. This attitude is reflected note perfectly in its protagonist. Bertie of the blue dye job, slouching striped socks, and penchant for sticking her fingers in every pie. It took me several pages to figure what in the world was going on and, as I've mentioned before, I like that. It makes me feel like I'm immersing myself in a fully-formed world that's exists independent of myself. The entire premise of EYES LIKE STARS is full of potential and very fun indeed. An orphan girl who grows up literally on the stage. An impossibly sexy air spirit hell bent on freedom. A host of familiar characters flouncing around being dramatic. A couple of chapters in and I was all set to pull up the chair and break out the popcorn. But I ran into problems after that. It turns out that in a story peopled with famous (and infamous) characters, it's pretty dang hard to flesh those familiar faces out. I loved Ophelia, constantly wandering the theater looking for puddles to drown in. I liked Ariel and his smooth-talking, butterfly-ridden ways. But they never leaped off the page at me. They remained two-dimensional and vaguely uninteresting. Now if Bertie herself had been dynamic and compelling, I might have been okay with this. But she, too, wore thin for me over time. I couldn't understand her insistence in demonizing Ariel. His motivations and actions, though underhanded at times, felt true to me. Though I enjoyed Bertie's antics with the sprites, they felt forced and couldn't maintain my attention for the near 400 page count. Her opinions changed at the drop of a hat and for inexplicable and underdeveloped reasons, which bothered me repeatedly. Overall the pace remained frenetic and uneven, the characterization flat and uninteresting, and I finished feeling apathetic at best. With the way it ended, I am interested to see where she takes the sequel, but sadly not enough to pick it up when it comes out. ...more
2

Sep 12, 2017

This was one hot mess.

I could never have finished it without the stellar (as always) work of the Full Cast Audio team. (view spoiler)[I must be starting to sound like a paid advertorial where they're concerned (I'm not, I promise), but seriously, these audiobooks are so good - from casting to production, even down to the music: impeccable. (hide spoiler)] Mainly, fundamentally, I don't think I've ever hated a character as much as I hated Bertie. She's rude, sulky, selfish, disrespectful, and This was one hot mess.

I could never have finished it without the stellar (as always) work of the Full Cast Audio team. (view spoiler)[I must be starting to sound like a paid advertorial where they're concerned (I'm not, I promise), but seriously, these audiobooks are so good - from casting to production, even down to the music: impeccable. (hide spoiler)] Mainly, fundamentally, I don't think I've ever hated a character as much as I hated Bertie. She's rude, sulky, selfish, disrespectful, and simply has no redeeming qualities I can think of.

In fact, so much about this story made me angry - and it's not even because my namesake was cast as villain! Many spoilers to follow:

(view spoiler)[
Ariel is treated as criminal because he a) stopped hanging out with Bertie when she was little after her caregiver forbade her to spend time with him anymore and b) he wants to be free.

Freedom (unless it's Bertie's freedom to be able to destroy things at will and treat people like shit) is treated as the very worst thing to want, and worthy of any kind of punishment imaginable.

There's a bunch of random shit involving a sea-goddess for no reason (props for the missing fingers on Sedna, less so for the casual appropriation of indigenous mythology) and the pacing, plotting, and general sense-making is completely haywire.

There is a significant amount of weird gender-role-reinforcing shit, from Nate's over-macho-macho-ness to throwaway comments from the ever-present fairies (“What a diva!" "Stupid, men can't be divas...").

There's a significant amount of barely-consensual "romance" which is borderline not okay.

The grand finale is preceded by Ariel doing the worst ever thing ever: destroying the Book that keeps all the players trapped in the Théâtre, so that they can all have their freedom - including him. Yeah, it means the Théâtre would be destroyed, but... so? There's no point where we are given any reason to care if that would happen. Bertie's response to this is to chain Ariel around the neck and bind him to the Théâtre forever, and then force all the players to be bound to the Théâtre again too, even thought they mostly don't want to be. And this is treated as a heroic move. I'm sorry, but isn't that literally slavery?

The more I think about it, the more sickening it seems.
(hide spoiler)]

It's a shame, because there are brief moments of pure beauty and even genius, and the humour is sometimes enjoyable. Half a star for those moments, and another star and a half for the audio cast. The rest is appalling. ...more
2

Aug 03, 2015

Well.. This book was a bit of a mess, wasn't it? I read this alongside Millie and we both agreed that it would have been better if it had been just straight up middle grade and not this weird pseudo-sexy wannabe YA novel. Also, Bertie was a lil ho. Like, damn.
5

Aug 24, 2008

This is the sort of book that I love to dive into and just revel in. It's got a brilliant, unusual, magical, enchanting setting and a strong, funny, active heroine. Bertie is a vivid character (and not just because of her Cobalt Flame hair). I love that she lives with such passion, that she has both strengths and flaws, and that she goes out there an makes things happen (though they may not always go the way she plans). And perhaps more than anything, I loved the Theatre Illuminata itself as a This is the sort of book that I love to dive into and just revel in. It's got a brilliant, unusual, magical, enchanting setting and a strong, funny, active heroine. Bertie is a vivid character (and not just because of her Cobalt Flame hair). I love that she lives with such passion, that she has both strengths and flaws, and that she goes out there an makes things happen (though they may not always go the way she plans). And perhaps more than anything, I loved the Theatre Illuminata itself as a concept: this magical place where all plays (and all players) meet, where you summon a scene change to the Turkish Baths if you need to wash up, and where sound effects and lighting specials cue the mood.

As I was reading I was taking note of all the little turns of phrase and quips and things that spark out at me from the text. And after awhile I started to lose track because there were just so many of them. It was a real treat to read and savor.

Also, it has lovely, lovely food descriptions. I must admit that tasty food descriptions are one of those things that will always make me approve of a book. Even now I am craving buttered toast and French pastries and turkey with gravy. Not to mention a sip of Alice's Drink Me bottle.

I am already anticipating Book 2. Many mysteries were resolved in Book 1, but there's obviously a lot more to be discovered about Bertie, her friends, and the Theater itself. I am looking forward to finding it out!

*standing ovation* ...more
2

Aug 26, 2010

Bullet Review:

Book 1 of the Great Culling of the Summer of 2014.

DNF at page 48. Skimmed the rest.

Mary Sue is Speshul and Unique and Rebellious and googoo eyed for two boys - do we really need a plot beyond that?

The coolest part was how the plays came to life, but beyond that BEEN THERE DONE THAT DIDNT LIKE IT.

NEXT!!
4

Dec 28, 2013

[4 Stars] First off I want to say, this was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read right now. Secondly, I would like to say this book is not for everyone. It reads like a play, a rather strange play with delightful characters and comedic lines and crazy things happening without you expecting it and a sense of play and silliness and joy about the entire thing.

Beatrice lives in a Theatre where all the players come alive and on stage. She is a strong female character with spunk and tendency to [4 Stars] First off I want to say, this was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read right now. Secondly, I would like to say this book is not for everyone. It reads like a play, a rather strange play with delightful characters and comedic lines and crazy things happening without you expecting it and a sense of play and silliness and joy about the entire thing.

Beatrice lives in a Theatre where all the players come alive and on stage. She is a strong female character with spunk and tendency to break the rules. One day the Theatre Manager asks her to leave, that they have all had enough of her nonsense and unless she can prove to be invaluable to the production and the Theatre in general she has to leave. What follows is a delightful arrangement of strange and humorous scenes all I found rather unpredictable and a joy to read! The Theatre is never fully explained nor are its patrons nor is anything really. You take it as it is and just well... read.

It was unique and humorous an delightful and though the characters may not have been the best developed or the plot the most articulated, I found everything so interesting! Seeing as the book is mainly all dialogue it reads more like a play. So I found the emphasis to be largely on the interactions between the characters. Experiencing that interaction was so intriguing and fun to read that I couldn't put this down. It is because of this that I think this is so unique and original. I thought the romance was slightly overdone, but overall I really enjoyed it!

I do want to emphasize that this isn't for everyone. It is lighthearted and fun and adventurous and inventive, more so than a lot of other young adult books I have read regardless of some of the obvious tropes included in this. I don't know... It was weird and funny and odd and Bertie was such a fun character! I don't know... I feel like I am rambling, but it is difficult to wrap your head around this book sometimes. In some ways it feels like it should be middle grade fiction but the main character is 17. It has all the delightful lightness and wonder that I almost always find in middle grade and sometimes find lacking in YA which is probably why I adored this.

Not sure really what else to say, but I leave it at that. I may try to write a more coherent review at some point... but for now I really just wanted to get this out there! ...more
1

Nov 26, 2011

This will always be one of those books that even with all of my reasoning I'll wonder why I couldn't enjoy it, because on paper it is the kind of book I like: Fantasy, Young Adult, inspired by other famous works, etc. So why didn't I like it?

I hated the fairies. They were annoying and I wanted to swat them until they were dead or unable to speak. They don't add anything to the plot and are just there to cause trouble. I assume they are there to be funny too, but they didn't make me laugh once. This will always be one of those books that even with all of my reasoning I'll wonder why I couldn't enjoy it, because on paper it is the kind of book I like: Fantasy, Young Adult, inspired by other famous works, etc. So why didn't I like it?

I hated the fairies. They were annoying and I wanted to swat them until they were dead or unable to speak. They don't add anything to the plot and are just there to cause trouble. I assume they are there to be funny too, but they didn't make me laugh once. They were essentially children doing what children do.

I also didn't care for the love interests much. Nate was just a bore. I saw his positive and negative traits, but he read as flat. Perhaps if I saw his character more I could have grown to care about him, but I didn't. As for Ariel, he just barely got a twinge of sympathy from me. Sadly that sympathy turned me a tad against Bertie, who previously I felt nothing for.

The antagonism is also so passive. No one actively tried to stop Bertie from putting on Hamlet. It was just one random obstacle after the other. Not even Ariel, who does the most damage, is really out to stop her play; he just wants to be free.

These are the reasons that I can come up with to justify why I dislike this book, which I really didn't want to. I wanted to like it. So much that even after I read it and disliked it, I read the second one, because I hoped I had just been having a rough day when I read the first one. ...more
4

Jun 01, 2009

Beatrice "Bertie" Shakespeare Smith has lived in the Théâtre for as long as she can remember.  She loves the crazy cast of characters who populate her life and she loves getting up to crazy antics with them.  She loves the stories and the Stage and everything about it.  (Well, maybe she doesn't love the Stage Manager...)  But when Bertie's antics go too far, the Theater Manager asks her to prove herself to be a valuable member of the Théâtre -- or leave.  Desperate not to be exiled from her Beatrice "Bertie" Shakespeare Smith has lived in the Théâtre for as long as she can remember.  She loves the crazy cast of characters who populate her life and she loves getting up to crazy antics with them.  She loves the stories and the Stage and everything about it.  (Well, maybe she doesn't love the Stage Manager...)  But when Bertie's antics go too far, the Theater Manager asks her to prove herself to be a valuable member of the Théâtre -- or leave.  Desperate not to be exiled from her favorite place in the world, the only home she's ever known, Bertie sets out to find her place in this zany world -- and she may find more than that.


I had been foaming at the mouth wanting to get my hands on this book ever since the cover was released.  When my bookclub decided it was going to be one of the books we read this year, I agreed to be a good girl and wait to read it.  And hey!  I actually kept my word and was a good girl!  Go figure.
So after all that anticipation -- which is sure to kill anything -- that month's bookclub meeting was one of the most disappointing for me, ever.  [frowny face:]

But here's the thing -- I loved the book.  It's just that I was the only one, and after the cursory "ehhs" from all around, everyone moved on to what else they've been reading.  This disappointed me, because though I love that portion of our meetings, I actually did want to talk about this book, but I wasn't going to keep dragging the conversation back to a book no one liked and listen to them bash it.

So my warning is, if you're a smart woman well into adulthood, you may hate this book.  That seemed to be the consensus.
But I loved it, and I'm about to tell you why...

I dig literary allusions.  I accept that I am a nerd and embrace it.  I was a bit worried about the allusions in this going in, though, not because I didn't think I'd like them, but because it is a YA book, and I wondered if it would even be accessible to the YA audience.  Since I'm not a teen, I can't speak to this other than to say that a)I was the kind of annoying, precocious/pretentious teen that thought herself very literary, and I would have eaten them up, and probably looked into the ones I didn't get and expanded my drama base; and b) I've read a few reviews of the book that were written by teens, and they all seemed to love it, literary allusions included.  Oddly enough, it was among adults that there seemed to be a problem.  Except those of my friends actively involved in theater, the adults did not like the allusions; they appreciated them, but they admitted that 1/2 the time, they didn't get them.  So I'm thinking that maybe I underestimated teens (and overestimated adults), and that really, Mantchev didn't take as big a risk here as I thought, because teens are still in school, after all, and the references are more current for them than they would be for an adult who doesn't read or watch dramas.  Personally, I loved the allusions.  There are a few in the quotes section below that tickled me to no end; they become these little inside jokes for those who do know about -- or enough about -- theater to get them, but I think you can still enjoy this without knowing all of them.

Another big draw for me was the world and the style in which Mantchev presented it.  I loved the Théâtre and the Players and the world Mantchev created.  It was really fun to become immersed in, and it was very visual and interesting.  She took something well-known (the world's most famous stories and characters) and made them her own while still staying true to the original, and it came off very nicely.  I could picture everyone, I could see them in my head -- her dramatic almost-play style was very effective and made me feel like I was, indeed, a part of the audience.  The whole thing came off as very fresh and creative and unique, and I love that.  There's just not enough of that.

But perhaps the biggest draw for me was Bertie.  I never thought I'd like a character named "Bertie," I'm not going to lie, but like her I did.  Berite is funny and feisty and creative and I adored her.  There's a quote below that demonstrates her feistiness quite nicely, so I won't waste your time going into all that other than to say that she will win you over.  She just will.

So that's why I liked it.  But to be balanced, I am going to give you a few of the drawbacks that my bookclub found, and that you may not like, either:

The tone does come off a bit young.  Not unbearably so, and I think it's really just a part of the lightness, the breeziness of it, but it does read younger than I expected, and than my bookclub was willing to stomach.
The allusions, again, may not be everyone's bag.
The love triangle(ish).  This is actually a drawback of mine.  It's not that I didn't like the 3 characters involved, or the tensions between them, because I did.  [side note: Ariel is one of my fave lit characters, so I loved his role in this.  And nothing to do with the triangle, but Ophelia is another fave, and I loved her role, too.]  But I am so sick of the Team _________ shit, really I am, that I just kind of cringe when I see someone using that formula.  You will never hear me say that I am Team anybody.  It irks me.  Someday there will be a rant on this, but I'm not going to take up this review to do it.  But seriously.  Enough with the Teams and the triangles.
There is a certain predictability that may bother people, but I don't think it's overwhelming or detracts all that much from the story.  Just a fair warning.



BONUS MATERIAL:

Some of my favorite scenes and quotes:
 
"What are you doing here?"
"I heard the water running."  Ophelia lifted her arms up and smiled into the ghostly, aquamarine lighting.  "I thought I'd come and drown myself.  I won't be in the way, will I?"

~ ~ ~
4

Apr 16, 2010

CALL TO CENTER STAGE


****** STORY ******

This is a story about Bertie (Beatrice) Shakespeare Smith (and, yes that is her really name the poor child) who lives in the Theater Illuminata, the home to every play every written and performed - although she is not an actress. After a slightly fiery incident involving a canon, some play set's and the roof of the theater (which now sports a new hole) Bertie is being evicted from the only place she has ever called home - unless she can prove herself a CALL TO CENTER STAGE


****** STORY ******

This is a story about Bertie (Beatrice) Shakespeare Smith (and, yes that is her really name the poor child) who lives in the Theater Illuminata, the home to every play every written and performed - although she is not an actress. After a slightly fiery incident involving a canon, some play set's and the roof of the theater (which now sports a new hole) Bertie is being evicted from the only place she has ever called home - unless she can prove herself a valuable asset. Thus she decides to bring in new money and interest to the Theater by directing a new version of Hamlet - oh and saving the theater and every play and character within from almost extinction.

****** CAST LIST ******

Bertie was adorable with her Cobalt Flame blue hair, black nail polish, and scuffed mary janes. She was meant to be 17, but she came more like 15 with some of her naivete and childish retorts. She was rebellious, opinionated, blunt, and wickedly creative with both her plays and her insults for the Stage Manager!

At the beginning I didn't expect to really like the 4 fairies (Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed) from A Midsummer Night's Dream but in reality I adored them! They either constantly bickered with one another or threw out hilarious and/or disgusting one liners that kept me laughing, not to mention their unwavering love and support for Bertie. I must share one of my favorite scenes with them mainly because it involves pie!

"Are you insane?" Cobweb demanded as they headed for the Scenic Department.
"For requesting asps?"
"For burning the toast!"
Bertie skimmed down the hall, fueled by success and adrenaline. Sconces poured warm light on the rich mahogany paneling, but shadows, like creatures long of tooth and nail, gathered in the narrow places. "We've more important things to worry about right now than food."
Mustardseed said reproachfully, "I'm certain you don't mean that."
"She's under duress," Peaseblossom said,
"I don't care if she is under duress, over it, alongside it," Moth said. "Nothing in this world supersedes cake."
"Pie does," Cobweb corrected.
Moth glared at him. "Are you under duress too?"

The 2 men chasing after Bertie are Nate, a fiercely protective pirate from The Little Mermaid complete with a vocabulary full of 'ye' and 'lass' and hair pulled into a braid. The other is Ariel, an air spirit from Shakespeare's The Tempest who's words seem to be fully of sensuality and promise but hides another agenda. Personally, I am pulling for Nate in this series, but who knows maybe Ariel will grow on me as he seems to on Bertie.

Overall, while I really enjoyed Bertie it was the secondary characters who stole the show completely. The fairies, Mrs. Edith, and especially Ophelia who "lived life on the ragged edge" were just outstanding with their dialog and imagery.

******* OPENING DAY REVIEW ******

This book was an amazing breath of fresh air considering the other YA dribble that is flooding the book stores. The story is unique, the world familiar yet alien, the characters lovable and/or horrible. The plot is complete with humor, mystery, intrigue, love, betrayal, action, and loss. What really shone completely though was the writing itself. The descriptions in this book were beyond lovely. Two of my favorites were "The conversation was a dance: a step to the side, a glide, a pivot, a turn." and The word-hurricane twisted about the theater manager, tugged at his coat, mussed his hair. When I read descriptions like this I went from seeing these actions in my mind to practically experiencing them. They give such clarity as to allow you to feel them - not just see them or understand them. This is what completely sets this book apart from most others.

I did have some problems with the book though. It took me some time to really understand the world's setting. The characters in the plays are characters within portraying those characters - Ophelia is really Ophelia, so there is the mesh and interaction between characters from different times, areas of the world, even universe's that was odd to wrap one's brain around. Once you do though it was extremely interesting and so imaginative.

Also, there were some continuity issues with the time period. I assumed this was a modern day novel considering Bertie wears jeans and Hamlet had a 21 year old girl (whom he suspected did not have her virtue intact buy him a beer in a bar), yet Mrs. Edith's clothing was straight out of some stuffy Victorian parlor, and when patrons arrive for her play they come in carriages and used phrases like 'it's capital what you've done with the place'.

Also, suddenly and with no explanation, the text would just into a memory and be portrayed not as text, but as a script complete with stage settings and directions for the actors. While this was very inventive I didn't think it flowed too well within the text. It brought the flow to a complete stop as the reader has to switch gears.

Finally I was completely pissed that the book ended without the resolution of a missing character. About 100 pages from the end one of the characters is stolen away by a villain yet never returns! And no one goes in search of them or makes but the smallest of attempts to regain them. So annoyed! They better show up in the next book or so help me! *shakes fist*

A must read to be sure - first for the writing and it's amazing descriptions - second for the unique and imaginative universe created. And on a personal note, can I just say how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE that we finally got a YA book with BOTH a stunningly beautiful cover AND an amazing story!! I was beginning to fear it wasn't possible!!


CURTAIN ...more
1

Jul 14, 2009

The first book I remember actively disliking was one called The Chocolate Touch. I was in first or second grade when I read it, and I remember being shocked that a book could be badand so very, very bad: illogical, amateurish, convoluted, unrealistic. Bad. Reading Eyes Like Stars brought that experience back in full Technicolor glory.

This book is bad in a way I can't quite wrap my mind around. The protagonistI can get as far as identifying the protagonistis a girl named Beatrice Shakespeare The first book I remember actively disliking was one called The Chocolate Touch. I was in first or second grade when I read it, and I remember being shocked that a book could be bad—and so very, very bad: illogical, amateurish, convoluted, unrealistic. Bad. Reading Eyes Like Stars brought that experience back in full Technicolor glory.

This book is bad in a way I can't quite wrap my mind around. The protagonist—I can get as far as identifying the protagonist—is a girl named Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, who’s spent her whole life that she can remember in the Théâtre Illuminata, which is apparently where every character from every play resides. (Although except for a few token mentions, it’s really only Shakespeare characters that appear.) The characters, I think, spend their time putting on their plays, although it's never clear who for, as it is also—and most disappointingly—never clear what type of space the Théâtre Illuminata really is. I could never get a sense of scale (though it must be vast? bigger on the inside than it is on the outside? something?) or any idea what the Théâtre looks like at all. This is where the entire book is set, and from Mantchev's descriptions, I was never able to picture anything more vivid than a blank stage.

The plot, meanwhile, is both minimal and near incomprehensible, and the characters ridiculously thin—and this is when apparently all the greatest characters ever written for the stage are available for walk-on parts! Instead there's a random pirate from Treasure Island or something (that was a play?), an unconvincing Ariel, and Ophelia, who manages to almost be interesting when she isn't performing her drowning scene, which, ahem, does not actually occur in the play. Whoa, time for another flashback! I also had to point out the fact that Hamlet does not contain a scene in which Ophelia drowns to a person in my college creative writing class, who then suggested that her actress main character could just fake-drown in the wings. RIGHT. This book was obviously written by someone with a commensurate amount of skill.

It is utterly baffling to me that this book was published as it is. I feel like I’m in first grade again and my nice, ordered world in which books made sense and were good has been upended. What the hell’s happening? ...more
5

Feb 19, 2009

An utterly enchanting book with a premise so unique, you couldn't guess it if I gave you a hundred hints...

And I'm not going to! Because so much of the magic in this book lies in discovering the pieces yourself through Mantchev's thorough characterization and uncanny ability to set even an unusual scene with so much detail that you will feel as if you are right there watching the whole thing unfold.

This is a magical book - a perfect blending of contemporary dialogue and situations against a An utterly enchanting book with a premise so unique, you couldn't guess it if I gave you a hundred hints...

And I'm not going to! Because so much of the magic in this book lies in discovering the pieces yourself through Mantchev's thorough characterization and uncanny ability to set even an unusual scene with so much detail that you will feel as if you are right there watching the whole thing unfold.

This is a magical book - a perfect blending of contemporary dialogue and situations against a fairy tale backdrop. Bravo! ...more
5

Jan 30, 2009

ARC Copy received today!

I finished this book last night and I have to say people who read this are in for a treat. Lisa creates a magical world that draws you and doesn't let go even on the last page. I want MORE! Luckily there are (I believe) three books in this series.

I understand the launch date for this book is July 7, 2009, but hopefully this will be one that they release early!

A great read, great characters, plot twists that will keep you guessing.


5

Feb 03, 2009

This story is amazing and will completely wrap you in it's spell. You can't help but fall in love with it's characters and really wish you had a ticket to the Theatre!
3

Mar 26, 2010

All right, guys. I'm going to be honest with you. I hadn't the slightest idea what was going on for 75% of this book. It took me a few weeks to actually finish this. My eyes would glaze over sporadically and it turns out I had skimmed over several paragraphs, but none of it was absorbed. The ending is what redeemed this book, in my eyes.

What I do know is that I really enjoyed Bertie as a heroine. She owned sarcasm. I love heroines like that.

Damsel in distress? Nah.
Absence of backbone? Hardly. All right, guys. I'm going to be honest with you. I hadn't the slightest idea what was going on for 75% of this book. It took me a few weeks to actually finish this. My eyes would glaze over sporadically and it turns out I had skimmed over several paragraphs, but none of it was absorbed. The ending is what redeemed this book, in my eyes.

What I do know is that I really enjoyed Bertie as a heroine. She owned sarcasm. I love heroines like that.

Damsel in distress? Nah.
Absence of backbone? Hardly.

She took no crap, period. You're an attractive dreamy fairy type? No thanks, she's good. Perhaps swooning on the inside, but she won't let you see it.

The constantly-present fairy companions, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mustardseed, and Moth, offered comedic relief and I'm looking forward to their four-way banter in the next book. Even though there was an extensive list of secondary characters within Eyes Like Stars, they were all quite distinct in personality. Ms. Mantchev did a wonderful job writing each and every character into their own.

And of course, the obligatory eligible bachelors.
1. Fairy Ariel, a manipulative, mysterious seductor (seducer?)
2. Pirate Nate, with the "arrrrgh" and the "aye, matey" and the desire to defend Bertie's honor til death or evil villains do them part.

I'm really not won over by either of them, but I can see how they'd both be appealing to poor confused Bertie. Who will she choose?! Oh, the suspense.

Her descriptive, atmospheric writing was beautiful, don't get me wrong, but it ways almost too complex and confusing for me at times. I often complain that authors do too much "telling" instead of "showing." I never, in a million years, thought that I would complain of the complete opposite. I don't know whose fault it was that the majority of the magic of this book was lost on me, mine or Lisa Mantchev's. But a little explanation of how the crap everything worked would've been nice. I finally began to understand towards the end, once we found out what Bertie was capable of, what her talent was. "Began" being the operative word. I am still somewhat leery as to exactly what happened. I will definitely continue on to "Perchance to Dream" to see if I can get a little more clarification. Plus, there's a devil of a cliffhanger.

Though it dragged in the middle a bit, I will read on in this series. ...more
5

Jun 04, 2018

This was unique and fun and entertaining! The romance was so good and the aspect of theatre was so cool.
2

May 27, 2017

I think this book could have used a few less plot elements and a lot more world building.

Why does the Theatre exist? What's its purpose? Is it simply to entertain its patrons? Is there some magical connection between the plays and characters that exist within its walls and the plays as we know them in the outside world?

What would happen if a player did manage to escape? Could another character act his lines, akin to an understudy? Or does something happen to the play itself? If Hamlet, took I think this book could have used a few less plot elements and a lot more world building.

Why does the Theatre exist? What's its purpose? Is it simply to entertain its patrons? Is there some magical connection between the plays and characters that exist within its walls and the plays as we know them in the outside world?

What would happen if a player did manage to escape? Could another character act his lines, akin to an understudy? Or does something happen to the play itself? If Hamlet, took off, for instance, what does that mean for the wider world? IS it simply no performance or a degraded performance at that one theatre? Or does it mean that play, everywhere in the world, would be altered in some fashion?

We're really not told what's at stake in this setup. And without knowing the end result, I'm obviously going to cheer on Ariel's attempts to leave the theatre if he wishes to. He's a thinking, conscious being and, thus, keeping him imprisoned in a theatre to enact The Tempest is akin to slavery.

And what about the other characters? Many of the characters seem to be stuck at their maddest and most tragic moments. Macbeth is continually hallucinating floating daggers and incriminating blood. Ophelia is eternally suicidal and drowns herself whenever she gets the chance. Who would that impose that state on anyone? Especially for mere entertainment.

Is there a Desdemona somewhere, eternally hounded by a jealous and obsessed Othello? Are Romeo and Juliet doomed to keep walking in on each other innocently sleeping and committing suicide themselves?

The jelly doughnut scene is played played for laughs - with Macbeth thinking the raspberry jelly was blood. But what if it'd been Gloucester? "Out, vile jelly! Where is thy luster now?" Eww... Who'd want to eat that doughnut?

And if this theatre exists for no other reason than to keep that audience, or the world in general, entertained when they watch plays... Well, then, doesn't that make the viewers, including me as a Shakespeare fan, complicit in the treatment of these Players? That's really creepy

But even if I disregarded that looming issue... I still probably wouldn't have loved this play. The characters walk around quoting themselves and occasionally reenact moments of their plays. But, overall, their personalities seem to have little to do with their play counterparts. What's the point in an Ophelia who acts more like Moaning Myrtle, for instance?

The intended tween/teen audience would probably respond to that a bit better, but my adult self just finds it unsatisfying. Instead of bringing Shakespeare to life, it feels more like a bunch of cobbled together quotes and contrived jokes.


On a final note - I've seen Hamlet performed a half dozen times and every time it's seemed like a fresh, new play. And I don't attribute a single bit of that freshness to mere scenery. ...more

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