Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Review and Author Interview: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has lived for as long as she can remember in the Theatre Illuminata – a magical place where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. She is not a player herself, and when management thinks she’s starting to upset the balance of the theatre, she’s tasked with making an invaluable contribution or leaving. So Beatrice decides to do what she knows best – stage a play. But it’s not going to be easy, and there are forces at work against her…

EYES LIKE STARS sparkles with life and chaotic energy. It’s not just the considerable pluck of Beatrice (Bertie), or the manic hilarity of the four fairies from A Midsummer’s Night Dream, or the dangerous swagger of possible love interest Ariel (from The Tempest) – every player, no matter how small makes their mark on this ambitious production.

However, it is this same whirlwind of characters and set changes that has the tendency to overwhelm the main narrative thread. It was because of this hubbub that I had trouble finding an emotional anchor, which is something I really missed. All in all, it's not enough to propel me into a standing ovation, but it does earn a round of appreciative applause nonetheless.

I will give a standing ovation to Author Lisa Mantchev who stopped by to answer some of my questions today. Welcome Lisa!

Bertie is a fun character. Which characters from other YA novels do you think she’d be friends with? Have a crush on? Why?
She'd probably best get along with wild-and-imaginative characters like Flora Segunda (from the novels by Ysabeau Wilce) and Peter Pan, and the Wonderland creatures. I'm pretty sure she'd think Dodge (Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars) would be hawtsauce, because he's utterly fearless and good to have on your side in a fight.

Have you read your entire Complete Works of Shakespeare? What is your favorite comedy? Tragedy? History? Sonnet?
I have GLARING holes in my Shakespearean knowledge... I studied a lot of his plays in college, others I read only once and don't remember very well. Lots--especially the histories--that I didn't have to read at all, so I never did.
Favorite comedy: Tie between A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.
Favorite tragedy: For all the mocking I did in Eyes Like Stars, I really do love Hamlet.
Sonnet: Have to go for #18... Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day.

What minor Shakespeare character do you think should get his or her own spin-off play (a la Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead)? What might the plotline be?
Other than the four fairies from Midsummer? *G* I think the Nurse character from Romeo & Juliet could rip out a fabulous story of all the behind-the-scenes dirt, a la The Nanny Diaries.

Before you sold The Théâtre Illuminata series, you published a lot of short stories (in speculative fiction – one of my favorite genres). Where can we find them? Who are a few of your all-time favorite short story writers?
I have a listing of all my short fiction (some of which is available online) at my authorly website.
For short stories, I love Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint... really, all the same authors whose novels I love! And Margaret Atwood has an utterly fabulous short piece told from Gertrude from Hamlet's point of view.

What are the last three books you read and how did you discover each?
I'm in the middle of an ARC of Beautiful Creatures, by fellow Word Ninjas authors Kami Garcia and Margie Stohl. I just finished Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, which I believe I tripped over on Goodreads. Before that, I'm pretty sure it was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which I received from his publicist, because I covered his tour event in Seattle for Weird Tales magazine.

Thanks Lisa!

This has been a part of Lisa Mantchev's Traveling to Teens tour. To check out other stops, see the Eyes Like Stars tour page.

Also be sure to check out for more about the series.


Ana S. said...

If Bertie would be friends with Flora Segunda then I definitely want to meet her!

Also, I love Lisa's taste in short story writers.

Vanessa said...

I was just going to say that, Nymeth!

I have been looking forward to reading this for awhile, and I just found out that I won it! This post makes me even more excited.

Thao said...

I've just read a few pages of Eyes Like Stars and it seems good, kinda dark and mysterious to me.

Love the interview, esp the question of a minor character having a spin off

Beth F said...

Great interview. My father (in his 80s) is currently reading all of Shakespeare, something he's always wanted to do but never took the time for. He's about halfway through the plays.

I have read Shakespeare, but definitely not the complete works.

Elizabeth said...

I really like your short review, Lenore -- I feel like I can picture what it's like to read this.

What a great premise for a book (even if the emotional arc does get a bit lost). If I pass this in a store or library I think I'll pick it up.

Shelly B said...

Great interview! I loved Eyes Like Stars, especially the fairies.

Marie said...

Great review! I am looking forward to reading this!
It seems like the type of book that would have good imagery...

Staci said...

Lisa has a very true voice..I like the fact that she's a reader that always endears authors to me. Her book sounds really interesting and I would pick it up to read for sure now!

Kami Garcia said...

Eyes Like Stars is such an original novel. I LOVED it!

Jess said...

Oo, I finally ordered this one tonight. I love the premise!

Memory said...

I second Nymeth and NotNessie: hearing that Bertie and Flora would get along definitely ups my interest in this book!

Zibilee said...

Great interview. This book sounds very inventive and original, I think I would really like it.

Book Sp(l)ot said...

It was interesting reading your review before I finished/posted my own...I've been trying to figure out what was the 'thing' that was missing from this being a fantastically great book for me. I loved it but there was still something missing...I think you might have found what it was, though--I'll have to think about it!

#extra entry

Lana said...

I agree that there was something missing to propel this into the Standing Ovation category, but I did so love the premise (and the fairies!).

Great interview, Lenore. I've linked to you here.