ARC Reviews – July 2015

This round-up is a day late because I honestly forgot about it until late yesterday. Either way, this month wasn’t terribly productive in terms of ARCs, but they were all decent. It was also the first time I conducted an author interview, so that was exciting!

  • A Whole New World – Liz Braswell: “It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.” (3 interrobangs)
  • A Curse of Ash and Iron – Christine Norris: “I felt like it was lacking something. It was a decent story and it had some really fascinating elements, but my inability to connect with the characters made it a hard read.” (2.5 interrobangs)
  • The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl – Ishbelle Bee: “The writing continues to have a lovely lyrical quality to it, even when she’s writing descriptions of a massacre.” (4 interrobangs)
    • I also got the chance to interview the lovely Ishbelle Bee, which you can read here.
  • Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich: “I liked the concept, and I think it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.” (3 interrobangs)

ARC Review: A Whole New World – Liz Braswell

A Whole New World – Liz Braswell

24397040Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

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.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I have such conflicting feelings about this book.

What I liked:

-the fact that it’s a twist on a Disney movie. That in itself is genius, and what a way to appeal to YA readers from a certain generation who grew up on the “classic” Disney movies!

-the genie was really well written, even if some of his jokes were taken straight out of the movie, and it was easy to imagine his dialogue in Robin Williams’ voice (RIP).


-Jasmine does have a bigger role in the book, compared to her mostly passive role in the movie, which is great. Plus there’s an intelligent thief, Morgiana, so yay strong female characters! Also, I’m glad they avoided the love triangle that they sort of hinted at.

-I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but it made me want to watch Aladdin (which I did, the day after I finished reading this, with my three year old niece).

What I didn’t like:

-the first quarter of the book is essentially a re-telling of the first quarter of the movie, including verbatim dialogue. The main difference is an expansion of Aladdin’s backstory (but I don’t remember any of the movie’s sequels, so I don’t know if his past is ever mentioned). It almost would have been better if it had picked up in the Cave of Wonders when Jafar takes the lamp off of Aladdin, because, really, who is going to read this book if they haven’t seen the movie?

-Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship in the movie is cute and almost a side-plot. But in this case, it’s insta-love like you wouldn’t believe. It’s probably one of the worst examples of insta-love I’ve ever read, since Jasmine’s all “he’s the best thing in the world, I love him!” but she doesn’t learn his name until halfway through the book!!!!!!! It’s soooooo YA (in a not-great way).

-where the flock is Iago?! You get an explanation of his whereabouts approximately 70% into the book, but by that point, I had already complained to three people about the lack of everyone’s favourite parrot. What, I ask you, is the point of writing from Jafar’s point of view if you’re not going to include his sidekick??


-this is really nitpicky, but I couldn’t understand why they kept invoking God’s name (i.e. Good God, in God’s name, etc). Wouldn’t it be Allah? Didn’t the author remember the part of the movie when the Sultan says “Allah forbid you should have any daughters” to Rajah??

-formatting wise, there were an awful lot of italics which was really annoying to read every other sentence.

It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.


3 interrobangs