Book Sample Review - As Old As Time (A Twisted Tale) by Liz Braswell

8/06/2020

Book Sample Review - As Old As Time (A Twisted Tale) by Liz Braswell

Disclaimer: 

I made this series because I am a beginner at book reviews, (Currently no access to ARC - "Advanced Readers Copy") and I have no way of getting my hands on a lot of books, without spending a ton of money. I mean I do have access to a library app that I am eternally grateful for (Thank you, Libby I love you to death), but there are some items on there that are not available.  

Hence, I made this series where I can get a feel of whether or not I would be tempted to continue reading a book by going ahead in making the next step of purchasing / picking it up, judging it on the three free chapters the authors or publisher has provided on Amazon Kindle. 

My reviews for (1) samples and (2) books that I purchased with my own money are not going to be spoiler-free. I realized that it's very hard for me to make reviews without touching on certain topics, so while I label it on the title as a "Book Review", it would really be more of a "Book Analysis" or "Book Discussion." Viewers discretion on that part. As of now I only have Libby, Prime Reading, Book Bub, and Book Sirens on my utility belt. If I ever plan to do a Book Subscription or sign up for Kindle Unlimited, I will also disclose it to the readers. 

Copies of books that I've acquired through "Books Sirens" will be spoiler-free. That is a part of their policy when giving out free copies directly from the author. In exchange for a free copy of the book, it is strongly recommended that spoilers are not included so that it won't spoil the story or plot for other future readers. I am always going to label it with a hashtag, #BookSirens so you'll know that a particular review will not contain any minor or major spoilers. 

I'm sorry for the long intro, but I need to clear this up in every post. Anyway on to the review!

Rating: ✮ / zero stars / negative one star

Reaction:
I don't know where to start with this review. I don't have very many nice things to say. The whole point of a fairy tale re-telling is to revitalize the story. To make you fall in love with it over and over again. That's what makes a classic, timeless. You're not supposed to butcher it.

I had to adjust a lot to this book. I shouldn't have to do that. Disney has a lot of money to hire the best writers and editors. And the author graduated from an Ivy league school? It doesn't make sense. Make it make sense, please.  I can see the gaming aspect, that the author tried to imbue within the story as she did come from the video game industry (with Maurice and his crew), but the execution was done so poorly that it just fell flat.  I also couldn't engage very well with Belle's mother. I don't know if this is gonna be a //// minor or major spoiler///// for the reader, so feel free to skip ahead in the following paragraphs, but one of the powers that she has is that she can shapeshift. It's a cool, character quality to have, but I feel like that's part of the problem. The focus was on the character design and not so much the character itself. The reason why people love stories is that it's fun when you can attach yourself to these fictional characters, and for some reason or another, the author just didn't have the craft or skill to make you feel like you're being pulled by Belle's mom, or at least feel closer to her. I personally couldn't accept her as Belle's mom. She didn't feel real. 

It seemed like they wanted to make a challenging read for young readers, but all it translates to is a disjointed, convoluted mess. Believe me, children have plenty of time to read Marcel Proust later (You'll never see a sentence end in a sea of commas). Children need to be exposed to good, accessible writing, not a writer's work where they learned the rules and elements of writing and they could then proceed to break them, which is in Marcel Proust's case. This does not apply to Braswell. Her lengthy, chunky paragraphs do not flow smoothly and it comes off as pretentious rather than good writing. 

Please note that this review isn't done to bash the brand, company, or author. This is me just honestly examining the finished productI don't know who to blame exactly, but I'm also questioning the editor hired. How did this get released/published? And I don't know how it managed to get four stars and above on Amazon with rave reviews. Did Disney buy those reviews or was the nostalgia factor really the only thing people held on to? I'm so glad I didn't waste $7 bucks on it (That's two cups of coffee and bubble tea!).  The artwork/front cover sleeve is the only thing this has going for it.  I would give this zero stars, to be honest. It does not merit not even one tiny shiny star, in my humble opinion. 

Even though I can't really recommend this alternative I'm about to mention, fully, because I rated it 3/5 stars, and graded it with a  70/100, (barely passing my expectations), Serena Valentino's "The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince" (from her Villain series),  did a much better take than Braswell's rendition.

 /// Spoilers Ahead /// In Valentino's book, Circle is the one who turned the prince into a beast. This made sense because that is who Circe was in the original Greek mythology - she turned men into beasts if they displeased her and she is already an enchantress so there was no need to have it as 'reveal' that she was the one behind the curse. It also made sense that Circe was the Beast's former lover and that he was the one to reject her at the end of their relationship because it fits with the Beasts' original traits that we've seen in the film before his transformation ( he was undoubtedly a selfish, judgmental asshole). With Braswell's story, there were too many gaps and plot holes.  

Braswell's story feels like she had the (1) originality (Belle's mom as an enchantress - I honestly prefer her as a mortal; And what does that say about Belle? She's a witch instead of an ordinary girl? It's just too much of a stretch) and (2) blueprint down pat, (Origin of the enchanted rose from the witch's garden is a bit of a nice touch - not enough to redeem the book though), but it needed more time to simmer. It just feels unfinished. I don't understand why her publishers and editors did not help her out and give her an honest opinion before publishing. I'm hazarding a guess that one of the reasons why this was so lackluster was because she was on a tight deadline and she had so many other projects to cover (Her name is tacked on most of the other fairy tale novels - and I was hoping it wouldn't be). It still does not excuse why this was such a poor job of a novel. 

/// End of Spoilers //// If I go missing, take this as evidence if I pissed off Disney or anyone else. 

I remember I used to get really sad when I watched "Chopped" and the judges were so harsh on the contestants. But now I can empathize with them. The only reason why I'm so cutthroat in my review is because I love Disney's Beauty and the Beast and I'm very protective of it. So much so, that I prefer it over to Charles Perrault's original story. It says a lot if you can transcend the original writer of this fairy tale. I don't want anyone walking away from this book, having the impression that the original animated film was trash and they decide that they hate Beauty and the Beast. 

 Braswell's story would have been a nice companion book if she wrote it well, but as I've said before, she should have taken the time to polish it up. Maybe in an alternative universe, where this was done well, I'd be reading this with two cups of coffee. But in this timeline, I'm going to buy this and just carve it out as a jewelry box without feeling bad for all the pages I've ripped out. And in the other parallel reality where I loved the book so much, I'd probably buy two copies of this, one for the jewelry box and one for the collection. 

Full disclosure: I would not pay full price for this. If you really love BATB, then get AOAT on sale. Honestly, I would only get this to not break up the collection and especially since the outer packaging is so beautiful. I'd probably go to Half Price to see if I can get it next to nothing. 

I hope I made no one cry in writing this review. I tried to be fair and honest. Because that's what an honest and fair review should entail. Regardless, of anyone's feelings involved.

Maybe Braswell could have taken a creative writing workshop before entering the novel arena. I mean I know her background is from video games, but you really can't expect to make the jump from writing descriptions on splash screens, to writing a novel. A novel is a completely different animal. Similarly to sports, if you jump from soccer to football, your athletic experience might help you, but you use two completely different muscles to play well and it can only carry you so far.  

Just to make people feel better if I made them feel slighted: A lot of old books and old films may have not been well-received in their time, but it has become appreciated in the present. I am not sure if I'll ever change my mind, but a lot of people like things even when they know it's not the greatest. I've liked stuff that's not that great, but I acknowledge that it's bad. I openly admit that it's bad but I like it despite it not being up to everyone's taste. 

Back to the topic at hand: Will I be tempted to continue reading this? No. I wished several times that the sample would end. It felt like a torture device. 

If you're wanting for more Beauty and The Beast content, don't settle for scraps. I don't even wanna touch on the 2017 version. That one's also vomit-inducing. The casting was a marketing trap,  and the production value is absolute ______. *****

Here are my recommendations:
 1) Beauty and the Beast (1991) | For younger kids, tweens, and maybe teens. 
2) La Belle et la Bete (2014) |  For older audiences. I personally love this one; nothing can beat this live-action rendition. You'll have to enable English subtitles because it's in French. Just giving you the down-low: it has nudity, that is not censored, but that's because it has Greco-Roman mythology embedded in the story. Nudity is tasteful, by the way. It's not garish or just there for the shock factor. Some teasers: It has nymphs and forest gods. Wow. A fairy tale wrapped in mythology, SIGN ME UP. I tried to stay away from this for so long because it felt too good to be true. It looked like a pretty postcard in all the gifs I've seen of it. But man, not only does it deliver in the visually appealing department, but it also delivers the story. If you're looking for something that delivers, this is it. You can thank me later. 

And before, I leave you, I just want to leave you with an Amazon review that thankfully, didn't get filtered out and deleted because of the low rating. I love it when the truth doesn't get buried alive. Thank you, Veronica, for echoing my sentiments. I hope you're having a good day wherever you are. 

Book Sample Review - As Old As Time (A Twisted Tale) by Liz Braswell


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