Saturday, 30 May 2015

Spelled Blog Tour! Review + Giveaway

Spelled by Betsy Schow
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
Oh I am SO happy I chose to review SPELLED for this blog tour. What an amazing story! Just to prepare you if you decide to read it though; Goodreads will tell you it's a standalone novel but it's not. Although there is no life-ruining cliffhanger, there is promise for another book. A sequel I will definitely be trying to get my hands on early!

I was happily surprised by this fairy tale retelling (kind of) of The Wizard of Oz. I found myself giggling throughout a good portion of it and believe me when I say I probably highlighted more than I left blank. I expected a retelling and a backwards one at that but what I did not expect was humor and characters that were so cleverly intertwined with one another. I had so much fun figuring out who was from which well-known fairy tale. Schow also made the story very modern with Story's own brands that are very similar to our own world. Like, for example, they totally have UPS over there! (United Pegasus Service, duh). And Flitter where Dorthea can connect with her close friend, Cinderella, and when that was out of use she could easily call up Beauty on her spellphone. Ha!

Dorthea was, at first, a character I would gladly give that extra nudge if she happened to find herself standing at the edge of a cliff. She was entitled and better-than. By the end she was barely recognisable. The character development was immense and so redeeming. She went from being a spoilt little brat of a naive princess to a fiery (ha) warrior princess ready to risk it all for the few people she grew to love and respect. She was someone I grew to like, I wouldn't say I connected with her per se. I mean how does one properly connect with someone like that? I did respect her though.

"Evil is tough to override, because it's ingrained in the soul. Nutcases, however, I could work with, and this lady was off her toadstool."

Kato was definitely my favourite character in this entire story. From the very beginning he wasn't afraid to speak his mind and tell the rude Dorthea off. He was enchanting in most everything he did and watching his feelings shift for the girl he once loathed was so rewarding knowing the journey they went through together. I cannot wait  to see how things develop between them.

"So sit down, grow up, and start acting like the kind of princess your people deserve."

Rexi was another character I liked for the simple fact that she wasn't afraid to knock Dorthea down a peg or seven when need be. She was fiesty and sarcastic which instantly makes her easy to connect to, for me anyways.

"...Build a bridge, then make like a billy goat and get over it already because no one is listening."

There was such a wide array of other characters here, maybe the biggest I've ever read about. I think it brought a lot of atmosphere to the story and without them it would literally just be a princess, a servant and a weird half-lion-half-dragon walking through the woods. It also helped that they were often characters from other fairy tales, it was fun to pick them out and match them to their original stories. There were also bibliobugs and wicked witches that listened to Wrong Direction so what are you missing here? NOTHING.

"She should know better than to mess with me in the middle of a shoe crisis, so I replied with the well-recognised dwarf hand sign telling her to Hi-Ho herself off a cliff."

Insta-love? Nada! Believe me... No instantaneous affection here in the slightest. I think that made the whole build up between Dorthea and Kato much sweeter and I really did enjoy the moments they had together. That being said, there weren't that many moments which don't get me wrong, is a good thing here. With so much going on and the main story line being that Dorthea is lost in some whacked out story world, the romance took a back seat and appeared at perfect moments.

At the beginning (or end? It was hard to tell because the ARC version was sort of just one long chapter) of each chapter was a 'quote' from some sort of book or magazine from the world of Story. These were such great additions! I'm going to list a few of my favourites below and, believe me, it was hard to only choose a few.

"It's not really a party until a fight breaks out and all seven dwarfs are passed out underneath the punch bowl." - Excerpt from "How to Have a Blast at Your Next Ball"  in Fairy Vogue
"Rule #99: Sacrifice is necessary to gain anything of worth. Usually a pumpkin or a few mice will suffice. Never offer your first born though." - Definitive Fairy Tale Survival Guide: Volume 1
"If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." Gretel from Candy Kills: A True Story
The story developed really well and became unputdownable. I cannot wait to see what Schow has in store the the second book. *grabby hands* Gimme!

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­ too-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.

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Follow the Spelled by Betsy Schow Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

BETSY SCHOW is the TODAY Show featured author of the non-fiction book, Finished Being Fat; however she’s been mixing up real life and fantasy for as long as she can remember. If someone were to ask about her rundown truck, she’s 100% positive that mechanical gremlins muck up her engine. And the only reason her house is dirty is because the dust bunnies have gone on strike. She lives in Utah with her own knight in geeky armor and their two princesses (that can totally shapeshift into little beasts). When not writing, she acts as the Tournament Director for Odyssey of the Mind and helps teach kids creative thinking (or how to turn their toasters into robots).

Her debut novel, Spelled, comes out June 2015 from Sourcebooks. She is represented by Michelle Witte, Mansion Street Literary Agency.


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