Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review of SPELLED by Betsy Schow

Following my last post--the spotlight tour for Betsy Schow's book, SPELLED--I'm now happy to post my official review!

Before I hop into my thoughts, I'd like to follow up the spotlight tour with a new synopsis of the story, which also shows off the author's writing style quite well.



Synopsis:

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.


***

So I love stories that take tales we're all familiar with and spin them into something new. Schow definitely turns the Wizard of Oz on its head. She weaves a far different version of Oz than that which we know. I enjoyed some of her inventive slang, like "What the pix?" I also grew to like the main character's love interest and his transformation into a chimera. Schow's novel is a light, fun-filled romp, and since it comes out in early June, that makes its timing perfect for summer.  

All that said, I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. My primary reason for falling in love with the young adult genre is because it often seems to be one of the last bastions where writing doesn't have to feel formulaic, and ideas about philosophy, love, the human condition, and so much more can be freely explored. I read YA to find the depth in a seemingly innocuous story. Unfortunately, I found those elements lacking in Schow's book. 

At times, I found the character's contrasting selfishness and self-deprecation bothersome. I felt like many of the other characters in the book lacked development. I wondered at the book's value other than its ability to retell a well-known tale. I wished that some of the humor had been cut out or toned down because it seemed forced and unnecessary. Will I read the sequel? Probably not, unless I review it.

That said, many people look for many different things in books. Were I fifteen years old, I probably would have rated the read higher. Would I recommend people not to read it? Of course not! You can whip through the pages in an afternoon on the beach and have been swept away into a fantasy world. The writing is adequate, and as I stated before, the slang clever. 

SPELLED will come out on June 2nd. You will be able to find it in major booksellers and online. If you read it and have comments, please feel free to leave them on my blog!

Next month, I'll be reviewing ALIVE by Scott Sigler. You can expect to see that review the last week of June. See you then, readers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spotlight Feature of SPELLED by Betsy Schow


Hi Readers!

I have the great pleasure of being a part of the Spotlight Feature Tour of young adult fantasy novel SPELLED by Betsy Schow.  

If you're looking for summer reads, you will be able to pick up a copy of SPELLED, starting June 2nd. Also in June, you can expect a review of SPELLED by yours truly. 

For now, enjoy this truly special post, brought to you by Sourcebooks!
 

Spelled
By Betsy Schow
Sourcebooks Fire
June 2, 2015


Advance Praise for Spelled
“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” -School Library Journal
“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” --Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” --J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, "Spelled" is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” --Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)


Book Info:
Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.



Betsy Schow:
Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals. 



Excerpt from Spelled:

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.
Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”
The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.
I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”
“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.
In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.
Until he opened his mouth again.
“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”
Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

*****

Sound interesting? Once again, SPELLED will be available for purchase on June 2nd, just in time for the summer vacation you've been planning for months. 

And for the lucky winner of this giveaway, you could get your copy for FREE!
Rafflecopter Giveaway Link:
<a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7111/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="54ca7af7111" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_yuthmdfr">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>


Good luck, and keep checking back for my review!

Until next time!