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video 2016-11-13 21:19

It’s quite frightening to think it’s now November, which means before you know it it’ll be Christmas!!


It’s safe to say I was rather determined to finish more books after last month. At the start of the month I had read 21 out of the 30 books I wanted to read this month.


In this post I wanted to share with you some of my favourite books not only perfect for Halloween, but perfect for the winter months drawing closer. There are the classics like Frankenstein and Dracula, or you could go for a short story such as The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton. This is such a quickly little book filled with illustrations just as wonderfuly bizarre.


Or for something to really sink your teeth into try Anna Dressed in Bloodby Kendare Blake (review) and the sequel Girl of Nightmares (review). I won’t lie I was a tad nervous about reading these as I don’t do “scary” books, but I really loved these. But let’s not talk about what happened in the basement or the forest.

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review 2015-12-17 00:00
A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale
A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell It isn't called a twisted tale for nothing, for it turns the fable on its head. No more is the romanticized version of Aladdin; in its place is a tougher, grittier, and gorier reimagined rendition. There's still magic, but of a far more sinister kind. In a way, it represents a more accurate picture of present political currents on the world stage, and the constant shift of power.
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review 2015-10-01 20:35
A Whole New World (Twisted Tales #1)
A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell

When I first read the blurb for this on NetGalley, I was instantly excited by it. I had so many questions about how she’d actually go about twisting the story. Sadly, I wound up very disappointed with it on the whole.

What should have been a twisted tale of Aladdin, wound up being a rehashing of the movie for much of the book. I found too much of it to be the very familiar story, up until the exit from the Cave of Wonders, where it takes a right turn, and changes very few elements of the known movie story of Aladdin. What this book does do is suggest that the fight to dethrone Jafar was not instantaneous, like in the movie, nor was it done by Aladdin, Abu, and the Genie alone. Much of that was very slow moving, until the fight at the palace, where the action both picked up and went back to some of the familiar story elements, with minor changes.

I would have loved to see Jafar actually find a way into the Cave of Wonders without having to use Aladdin at all. I actually thought that was what I was getting when the back cover blurb asked “What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?”. A more accurate question to ask would be “What if Aladdin never pickpocketed the lamp back from Jafar?”.

The main characters are mostly the same as I remember them from the movie, which would put more focus on the secondary characters for me. However, those secondary characters don’t get enough “page time” to learn much about them overall, and they felt very one-dimensional to me.

While I am not the target audience for this book, my daughter is, and in a conversation with her about the book, after telling her a good bit about what happened, she said that she wasn’t much interested in reading it, as it didn’t sound that interesting to her. While I enjoyed it somewhat, I can’t recommend it to my own child, let alone anyone else. If other “twisted tales” come down the pipeline, I may or may not read them, depending on if the same author is used or not.

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review 2015-09-27 17:22
A Whole New Turd (or Synergy!)
A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell

If you ever read fan fiction you’ll inevitably come across the practically plagiarized fic where the only thing original about said fan fic from cannon is its disclaimer.



This book is much like that fic.  Okay, it eventually does diverge from cannon but that’s when things get really bad.


It’s too bad that Agrabah doesn’t have an official cocktial because I’d so make myself one now.  I’m thinking for this book I need something pretty strong.  A vodka tonic might do the job.


Or maybe a good sidecar.  Can’t go wrong there.  Taste like battery acid, those do.  And that’s sort of what I need after this book.  Something to get the bad taste of forced synergy out of my mouth.


Currently synergy is a big thing for Disney.  Look at Once Upon a Time-or how many Disney movies that aren’t even fairytales can we stuff into an hour of programming .  I like Once a lot, but sometimes I just roll my eyes at the Mouse doing some very obvious self marketing.



This book was like Once Upon a Time’s infusion of Frozen last season.  Good on paper, but epic fail.  A lot of it was that it didn’t try to deviate from cannon at all. The first hundred pages are basically a novelization of the Aladdin but with horrible purple prose.

Just look at the opening paragraph:

A High White Moon cast its light on the city below as brightly as the sun was said to shine in northern countries.  White mud-brick buildings gleamed like pebbles form a faraway beach.  The golden onion domes on the capital glittered like a dream against the pale dunes and the dark, starry void. (1)

You could’ve condensed this into something like this:The moon cast a light on the city below.  It flickered on the white brick buildings and the dome of the capital.


Okay, you could probably eliminate said paragraph in its entirety to be honest.  But I was trying to be nice here.


Screw this book.


It doesn’t deserve nice.


It is a blatant attempt to cash in on a popular 90’s film and recent broadway show.  However, instead of showing me a whole new world it showed me that Disney could make a whole new turd on once fabulous merchandise.


The cover is wonderful too, really this book does not deserve a cover.




The thing about trying novelize a Disney novel, is that you can’t do a blow by blow play of the movie when the character are pretty flat-to be fair to the movie it was only a little over an hour long and it had Robin Williams as the Genie so that helped some of the flatness.


Speaking of the genie, when the book went AU his lines were probably some of the most painful.  It’s sad how a bad book is yet another painful reminder of how great the late comedian was.  The lines that Braswell wrote were just bad.  I even tried to think of Robin saying them.  And no, just no.


I didn’t stick around to the end.  Mainly because I didn’t see a point.  There was no great deviation from the source material till the AU and once it hit the AU…..well, The Return of Jafar was written better.  And we all know that was a direct to video Disney sequel (which Steve Jobs ex-nayed because they were so bad, BTW).


Overall Rating: A  DNF with an F.  Disney you should think about making sure your synergy is of quality.



Source: howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/a-whole-new-world-liz-braswell
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review 2015-09-01 05:00
Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell

(review originally written 5/6/2015)

Pre-read: Man, I want to read this so badly that it's not even funny.

"What if Jafar were the first one to summon the Genie", you say?

(note: this pre-review has no affiliation with Disney or this book, but I'm just entirely speculating)


Iago: Ooh, ooh, ooh! I know, lemme answer this one. PLEASE, I am BEGGING you.

Aladdin: (rubs the back of his neck) I don't think I wanna know the answer to this question...or Iago's answer either.

Iago: Come ON! I know this one! I'm raising my wing and getting wing cramps over here! CHOOSE ME to answer already!

Genie: Iago, you sound just a teensy bit too happy over there...

Iago: I'm just thinking that if Jafar had gotten the lamp before Mr. Goody-two-shoes prince over here, MAYBE I'd have my own palace, maybe I'd have my own entourage, maybe I'D have MY three wishes and get my own story. Is that too much to ask?

Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie, and Abu: YES.

Iago: ...You guys kill my fun every single time.



Iago: 2-stars?!! Whadd'ya mean, 2 stars?! This was supposed to be EPIC, this was supposed to be EVIL! I expected explosions, blood, creepiness, take over the world kinda action!

Aladdin: Iago, calm down - 2 stars is not the end of the world, it just means that it wasn't...well, the best thing ever in the seven deserts. It had some good things...some bad, probably more bad than good, but it could've been worse? Maybe?

Jasmine: I'm not sure if any of this was as big as the original story/work it was based on. Besides, Iago, why would you even defend this book if you weren't even in the story most of the time? You were only there to show Jafar's manic moods anyway.

Iago: ...That's low. That's REALLY low.

Genie: Uh, kids, spoiler warning much?

Aladdin: Right, uh - I guess we'll have to talk about this later. See you guys in a little while.

(Reviewer's note: I'll think on this one a little bit and then decide how I'm going to write it, but overall - it didn't live up to it's potential really - mostly because the first 20% of the story was a rehash of the original movie with incorrect or awkwardly added details, then when the new material kicked in - the characters were underdeveloped and the conflict was conflated more than what the actual stakes in the story were. It had some cool moments and ideas, but they weren't organized enough to carry the story forward. Full review to come.)

Full review:

I'm going ahead and writing it because as much as I anticipated and was excited by the idea and promise of this title, the actual story I read left me feeling more neutral than anything else. There were some awesome ideas here and potential aims for the characters and conflict, but the delivery...not so much.


As you can probably tell by my pre-review comments, I really enjoy the Disney's Aladdin franchise - the movies, the characters, the TV series, the people who were a part of it, etc. - I grew up with it being one of my most watched and favorite Disney movies. The last time I watched the original movie was about a year ago - it brings back fond memories. So when I heard about Disney releasing a YA series with a series of "twisted" tales based on beloved Disney movies and stories, I was pretty much like "Bring it!!!" And to start the series with one of my favorite movies with the villain being the main player in the story - I was doing more mental fireworks than the Genie was in the movie when he realized he was free.


But the experience of reading "A Whole New World" wasn't really that new at all, unfortunately. The first problem was that 20-25% of the first part of the novel was something of a direct play-by-play of the movie with embellished (and often not funny or immersive) details leading up to when Jafar gets the lamp. You already know the story if you've watched the Disney movie, and I'd venture a guess the purpose of this series is not to introduce the story but appeal to people who already know the story of Aladdin (or the other twisted tales to follow). I don't think it needed the space of 20-25% of the novel doing that play-by-play because it made the story extremely tedious to slog through. I'll commend Braswell - at least - for the prologue because that was an all too brief eye into Aladdin's life as a boy (if you know the story of Howard Ashman and the writing of the song "Proud of Your Boy" for the original movie - you'll know that there were plans to go into Aladdin's boyhood, but they had to take it out for the sake of the story.)


But honestly, if you took out that 20-25% of the novel, there'd be nothing missing from it and readers would probably be thankful for it, because it was a slog even for me to get through (and I imagine a teen would probably be like "Pfft, I know this already; this is boring"). And it often got many of the details from the movie wrong if it were actually being included for the sake of consistency (i.e. Jasmine getting half an apple in the story, versus in the movie getting a whole one from Aladdin during their first meeting in his hiding place). So what was the purpose of the retracing?


When the story actually gets to the part of the premise that's advertised for the book, that's where the potential of the story took off, but at a cost. There were some dark moments, and I think the only original character from the movie that Braswell got right on the money was Jafar. Iago was barely a character (which - with as much personality as Iago has, that was kind of a waste), Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie had moments where they resembled their original characters, but their newer incarnations were much harder to follow because of a severe lack of development. And that's what made the following story feel so...empty for me. I loved the overarching concept and aim but the execution of the writing of the story and the dynamic between the characters felt either forced or lacking for the promise of the potential story. Even the character deaths felt empty in places (which I think some people are going to be surprised by how quick they happen and to whom it happens).


In the end, a read that I was aptly excited and enthused about ended up not being able to carry the imaginative promises it purported to have. That's not to say I won't follow this series though, because I think it has a ton of potential to work with. I just hope that the journey's more dynamic and immersive in future stories than this one was.


Overall score: 2/5 stars.


Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Disney Book Group/Disney Press.

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