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Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Title: A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tales #1) 

Author: Liz Braswell
Publisher: 1 September 2015 by Disney Group Books
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: fantasy, young adult, fairytale retellings, Disney
My Rating: 1 crown
What if Aladdin had never found the lamp? This first book in the A Twisted Tale line will explore a dark and daring version of Disney's Aladdin. When Jafar steals the Genie's lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war. What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.
My Thoughts
Sitting down to write this review, it's difficult to come up with some positives to start with. Admittedly, there is a lot of action throughout and the plot moves along at a good pace. It's comforting, in some respects, to revisit familiar characters ... and that's about where it ends. 
The first quarter of this book is the movie, literally - just about word for word. That in itself is predictable and disappointing, unless of course, you would love a written version of the movie. I, however, found it rather boring. The problem then is, even when you get past that first 25% there really is no improvement - it's not engaging and really rather juvenile. Yes, it is 'young adult' but this really is just 'young' .... very young. For example, one interaction between Aladdin and Jasmine went along the lines of:
"We were catching up. Jealous?"
Maybe it is geared to a young audience, however this supposed 'twisted', 'dark' tale would not fit - even if I found it to be more 'off white' than dark. Instead it's filled with 'goofy' terminology where the plot is stated as:
"how about we not give Mr. Revengey-pants here ideas"
Were Disney prescriptive in how this was to be written? Was this meant to be a simple fan fiction retelling for Disney fans? Or did the author just fail to deliver? For apart from its immaturity, Braswell's characters were lacking depth, were very much one dimensional and stereotypical heroes and villains. 
"From naive, lonely princess to winner of hearts and minds in less than a month."
When the story was no longer just the movie - verbatim - it still wasn't engaging, with juvenile writing and the characters leaving a lot to be desired, overall, it was just plain yawn worthy. This is very disappointing as the whole concept of twisting it, making it darker was enticing but sadly fell flat - very, very flat. 
"Jasmine surveyed the scene around the room and found that she didn't even have the energy to cry. Death, mess, sadness, confusion all around. Not a good place to start."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Hotel on Mulberry Bay

Title: The Hotel on Mulberry Bay

Author: Melissa Hill
Publisher: 1 September 2015 by Simon Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 293 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: womens fiction; chick lit; contemporary, romance
My Rating: 3 crowns
Escape to a hotel by the beach with Melissa Hill, the internationally bestselling author of SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY'S and A GIFT TO REMEMBER. 
Mulberry Hotel, perched on a clifftop above a sweeping bay, was once the heart and soul of pretty seaside town Mulberry Bay. Run by the Harte family for years, the place itself is almost as beloved as cheery landlady Anna. 

The hotel was also once home to thirty-something sisters Eleanor and Penny, and while youngest sister Penny still lives close by, it's been some time since Elle has visited. But following a family tragedy, Elle is forced to return from her busy London life and reassess her past.

When it becomes apparent that the hotel is in dire straits, Elle and Penny are unprepared for the reaction of their father, Ned, He steadfastly refuses to give up the family legacy, revealing that he's given up something equally precious once before. Startled by their father's surprising revelation, the sisters unite, with the local community behind them, in their efforts to save the hotel - and, in the process, heal the fractures in the Harte family.
My Thoughts
"All of these things contributed to the feeling once again that the Bay Hotel was more than just a place, it was somewhere where people's dreams were made a reality."
The Hotel on Mulberry Bay is a very light, easy and enjoyable read - a weekend escape that can easily be picked up and put down as real life demands. I have not read any other Melissa Hill books, but other reviews seems to indicate this was a 'safe' read, none of her usual twists. There certainly was no intrigue here and 'safe therefore seems rather apt. This is a 'feel good' story that tells the tale of a very likeable Irish family and their hotel. It was well written and you could easily imagine yourself at the Mulberry Hotel.
"Oh I wish I was on that boat...to live a big adventurous life. To get out of here.' Penny cocked her head, seemingly confused. 'What's wrong with here?' she enquired, genuinely curious."
I really liked the range of characters and their various traits and especially how this small community bands together. However it is the main characters - Elle and Penny, the sisters; Ned, their father; and Rob and Colin, the respective love interests that bring a real charm to the story. 
"Over the years in London she had got used to staring at the grey grid of the city streets and the endless rush of people, but it took something from you, watching the endless movement and the drive to be somewhere else. Whereas the more tranquil vistas of the small coastal town replenished you, gave something back that you hadn't known you were missing."
If you are after a light escape for the weekend, a reprieve from the endless rush, take a trip to Mulberry Bay as it is sure to replenish you, ready to face the real world once more.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.