Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Turning my frown upside down.

I was previously frowning because as I have been telling my friends, book promotion is hard. But now I'm smiling because I have new reviews to report!

Check! Out! My! Friend! Wednesday!, by Catherine Avril Morris at Of Course I Write Romance Novels. She is very complimentary, and no, I don't pay her. She described Steve the Penguin as An enjoyable read on the Amazon page.

A critical eye, by Manda at Whoa, Camel!. Manda also wrote Real Girl, Real World on the book's Amazon page.

Has it Been Ten Years Already?, by Shavon Williams of APOOO BookClub, on the Amazon page.

Also, Maria Bamford and my pal N.S.B. have each emailed me their thoughts on Steve the Penguin, so I will put them up here:

If you like fun, funny romantic comedies, then trip attractively over to your local quirky independent bookstore in your funky scarf - and while not noticing the diamond-in-the-rough, nerdy cashier who really likes you - flirt with the unavailable, self-absorbed zine-writer shoplifting organic chocolates by the cash register- and BUY THIS BOOK!

- Maria Bamford


A review of Mahlena-Rae Johnson’s Steve the Penguin

By Nicole Bautista

Meet Bianca Reagan. You’ve never read anyone like her.

If I had to pitch this book, my logline would be: “’Steve the Penguin’ is the literary companion to ABC’s Ugly Betty.” That’s a compliment. Obviously.

What I think sets this book apart from most other contemporary literature of the same genre is point-of-view. You might find witty dialogue elsewhere. You might find tales of the willing peon struggling to make it in the cutthroat worlds of entertainment, publishing, fashion, or whatever the case may be. But where will you find a book for young women that combines all of these things with a unique and intelligent central character, a sense of social and cultural awareness that transcends the everyday, and an acknowledgement of the challenges that real people face when starting out in the world?

Tales of the glamorous life abound. Steve the Penguin is about what it’s like to be on the fringes – learning what it takes to get there, and coming to the realization that it’s just harder for some people than it is for others – mostly for reasons that are not in their power to change. That you should persevere in the face of it, and that if no one else, Bianca would understand – is the gift that the author will give to the empowerment of young women as individuals and as a collective in today’s progressive-but-still-not-quite-there-yet society.

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to grace me with their words, including the critical words. I will have polite responses to the questions raised the reviews, because the observations and confusions are valid. Many of them will be addressed in the now seven sequels to Steve the Penguin, but those books will take a while to generate. So I will answer the current questions as soon as I have more time.

To other reviewers: please don't be afraid post your thoughts on Steve the Penguin because they might be critical. If you didn't like the book or you didn't understand something, I encourage you to state your feelings in your review. I look forward to learning and growing. Or, if you haven't read the book yet, fear not! There is still time to enjoy the 200 pages of prose, and then type your reactions.

I'm very excited!



Catherine Avril Morris said...


I'm not sure what you mean by questions and concerns raised in the reviews. It seems like all the reviews I've read (and the one I wrote) are complimentary.

In my review I listed some complexities in your story that I really liked. I think the story is like real life. Nothing is black and white. I think that's why I really liked the online relationship between Bianca and her Mormon guy, and why I'm really curious about whether it'll ever translate to real life. That could be a whole book in itself -- carrying an online connection over to the real world, where the Mormon guy can't ignore Bianca's race, for example, and their personality quirks, etc., will become much more insistent and noticeable.

Bianca Reagan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr. J said...

The reviews have indeed been complimentary. I'm just extra sensitive.

That "translating to real life" part begins in Book 3, What Penguins Don't Know. As the series progresses, the personality quirks between Bianca and "her Mormon guy" become less of a problem and more of an interesting dilemma.