Monday, July 29, 2013

Mini Reviews: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True + Transparent

HOW ZOE MADE HER DREAMS (MOSTLY) COME TRUE
Sarah Strohmeyer
Contemporary Young Adult
320 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?


MY THOUGHTS
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is an extremely fun read; not "fun" in a more vague “I'm don't know what else to say about this book” kind of way, but rather in its fundamentally truest sense – a genuine joy to read from page one to three hundred. Brimming with humor, sweet summer romance, and a ridiculously over the top boss who still manages to charm us despite her utter absurdity, this story is the perfect read for anyone in the mood for something light but still completely engaging. Be prepared to set aside a couple uninterrupted hours when picking it up though, as once you enter the hilariously cutthroat world of the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, there's simply no going back until all its craziness is experienced.

Zoe is a wonderfully amusing protagonist, her initial awkwardness with the Queen as she attempts to acclimate to the bizarre whims of a woman with a monstrously inflated ego (and vocabulary) delighting us right off the bat. She handles the Queen (
who by all appearances is a type of fairytale Frankenstein, made up of all the strangest and most outlandish characteristics of villains and stepmothers everywhere) with ease, finding entertainment in the sheer ludicrousness of it all while also giving her job the same dedication and importance as she might any other that was accompanied by less silly drama. While some readers may wince at the mention of an over the top character, the Queen and all the other secondary fairytale characters who fill out the summer intern staff are never irritating in their exaggerations, instead they're a vital component in what makes this cute and heartwarming read so successful.

Rating: 4/5


Find Sarah:


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TRANSPARENT
Transparent #1
Natalie Whipple
Paranormal Young Adult
350 pages
HarperTeen
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

 
MY THOUGHTS
Transparent is a lighting-quick read; one of those stories we tease ourselves with in the late evening hours, repeating again and again that we're going to read just one more chapter before bed but yet we prove ourselves to be liars each and every time. One of the most refreshing aspects of this tale of an invisible girl–aside from the engaging characters–is the world itself, where special gifts and unique abilities are commonplace and out in the open. As a result of this setup, Fiona, even with the extremity of her gift, is able to interact with others rather than being hidden away hoping for the moment when she'll find someone who can see her. We then have the pleasure of not only watching as the relationship she has with her family changes with their arrival in a new place, but also of delighting in the myriad of new friendships as they form, chasing away the cruelty and uncertainty of her former life and replacing it with kindness and stability.

Fiona is a fascinating young woman, someone truly invisible who has never seen more than a basic outline of her shape thanks to the assistance of clothes and accessories. Her gift combined with the emotional manipulation of her father has her constantly questioning the person she is, and we can't help but feel for her as she tries to find something solid about herself to latch onto. While her friendships with a group of gifted kids and a budding romance with one boy in particular don't change her invisibility, they do her one better by proving to her that though her expressions and mannerisms go unseen, her feelings are still visible and important. Overall, Transparent is a paranormal story that reads very much like a contemporary one, the characters facing very relatable problems in the middle of the more fantastical ones to keep us glued to the pages as they give Fiona the shape, form, and value she's never had before.

Rating: 4/5


Find Natalie:


These books were sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

44 comments:

  1. Oh I mus read the Zoe book!! IT sounds cute and I actually really like some awkward characters :)))

    I'm happy to see that you liked Transparent a little more than I did and I perfectly agree that it mostly reads like a Contemporary story and the paranormal element is just an addon.

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    1. You'd really like Zoe Danny, it was such a cute book! I definitely want to go back and read her other one with the equally long title now:)

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  2. How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True sounds like a really cute read that's perfect for the summer, Jenny. Even the cover is cute!

    I'm a little iffy about giving Transparent a try because of all the mixed reviews. I'm also really curious as to how people become aware of somebody who's invisible. I'm hoping that aspect makes more sense if and when I read the book.

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    1. Zoe was adorable Z! I had a blast reading it:) Transparent I really enjoyed. The fact that she was invisible even to herself was really interesting I thought - and it brought into question some practical things we take for granted like medical treatment. Hard to treat someone you can't see:)

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  3. I felt the same way about the Zoe book, it really was a cute read!

    I am glad you enjoyed both of these. :)

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    1. Wasn't it? Loved both books Ali!

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  4. How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True seems really cute & fun read. I need some light read and this one looks fit the bill. Hopefully I find a copy soon.

    Every time I saw the art cover of Transparent, I always thought of Andrea Cremer and David Levithan's Invisibility. I don't know what's with me and those art cover but they got the same vibe.

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    1. Transparent and Invisibility definitely do have the same vibe though I preferred this one to Invisibility. Invisibility was a touch slow for me, I liked that this one was more action-packed!

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  5. HZMHDMCT (sorry, that title is wayyyy too long for its own good) sounds indeed like a fun and cute story. I'm glad to be a proud owner of a copy and I'm even more glad you reviewed it, because it would have stuck in my kindle without being read, that's for sure. There aren't that many reviews out there for this book.

    As for Transparrent, I've been hearing more bad than good and I was thoroughly surprised by your rating and thoughts. I'm glad it read more like a contemporary which makes me intigued. Now I'm more confident to pick it up. I'm so glad you liked both of these. I've been having terrible luck with books lately so it's good to know that at least someone enjoys what they're reading.

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    1. It is a long title, but it's memorable because of it! I think you'll like it Siiri, it's a perfect in-between-more-serious-books type of read.

      And I know Transparent got a lot of mixed reviews, but I thought it was really great. I enjoyed all the characters and was fascinated by her brand of invisibility:)

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  6. Seems there is a lot of drama in the park

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    1. Oh yes. Drama, drama, drama. The fun kind though, not frustrating kind.

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  7. Ooh the Zoe book sounds like just the read I need right now! I am super excited to get my hands on this now, it sounds so cute and the characters sound fabulous! I could really use a fun book right about now. I've been reading too many grim dystopians these past two weeks. :-) Transparent sounds really cool too, I'm glad to hear there's a more contemporary spin on this and that the characters are relatable. Wonderful mini-reviews!

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    1. I've been on a dark dystopian/paranormal kick as well Lauren, so Zoe was a nice break from that. Transparent wasn't too dark either, and I just thoroughly enjoyed reading both:)

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  8. Zoe sounds like a great read. I mean perfect for summer. I'm avoiding contemporaries lately but a fun book would be great. I have heard of Transparent and while once I wanted to read it now I'm not interested. I have no idea why as it sounds really great and you enjoyed it. It simply doesn't speak to me (I'm not crazy :D). Great reviews Jenny :)

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    1. I usually stick to paranormal or dystopian as well, but sometimes a cute contemporary is exactly what I'm in the mood for, and Zoe fit the bill perfectly. Maybe you'll be in the mood for both of these one day!

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  9. Invisible girl sounds intriguing. Like someone else mentioned, I am CURIOUS about how being invisible works.

    (It also reminds me of a GLA that featured an invisible person and there was invisible sex and the guy was all, "I can see my cock inside you!" You're welcome for that image.)

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    1. Jesus. That image will haunt me forever and ever. And now I have questions I don't even want to give voice to. Ugh. :)

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  10. Actually, both of these books sound pretty dang good, Jenny, and I never really gave either a second glance before. Especially with Transparent...you know me. I've been so burned off the paranormal genre for a while just because , well, it felt really repetitive. However, it sounds like a solid read, and if there is actually a real family dynamic and relationship, I've got to test this one, in particular out. Wonderful reviews! :)

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    1. I really liked Transparent, I know a lot of people didn't, but everything just worked for me! Hope you give it a try:):)

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  11. Transparent *did* read like a contemporary (and, oh god, I can't get that image out of my head now, Amanda! *scrubs brain with bleach*).


    The Zoe book sounds really cute -- I think I'm going to have to check that out!

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    1. I know. Amanda has permanently scarred us for life. She's awesome like that ;-) And yes to Zoe! Loved her:)

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  12. I'm so glad you liked Zoe, Jenny! I thought it was such an adorable and funny read too. That boss of hers was the funniest of all! :D

    I haven't heard the greatest about Transparent and because of that I removed it from my tbr, but I think I'm going to put it back after reading your lovely review, Jenny. Fiona sounds fantastic and I think I might like her.

    Lovely mini-reviews, Jenny! :)

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  13. Jenny, so happy you enjoyed this book! I particularly enjoyed both very much. And I can not wait to read the next book in the Transparent series.

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  14. I like how you described the first book as "Fun." I know what you mean about using "fun" as a descriptor. Sometimes it really is the best word, even if it is generic. "Interesting" is like that too, although I try to avoid it.

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  15. I keep meaning to pick up Zoe ever since I read Smart Girls, but I just haven't yet! Zoe sounds like a seriously cute read, and Zoe herself seems like such an enthusiastic character that I'll love a lot. In this case, exaggeration makes sense, I think. Glad you loved this one!

    I loved Transparent! I agree with you, it was fully addicting, and it definitely read like a contemporary. I fell in love with Fiona's character, too. Lovely reviews, Jenny!

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  16. HZMHDMCT didn't seem like the sort of thing I'd be interested in when I saw it on GR, but I have to admit your review makes it sound more appealing. I love the idea of a fun summer read, and it sounds ridiculous...in a good way. ;)

    Transparent sounds like a quick and easy read. I've heard some mixed things about, so my expectations aren't what they were, but I am still looking forward to it. I feel bad for Fiona for what her father's putting her through.

    Fab reviews, Jenny! :)

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  17. Oooh Zoe sounds like one that I will love. I really want to meet the boss who still manages to capture your heart, she sounds funny. I wasn't a fan of Transparent at all, that one just didn't work for me but I am happy to see that you had much better luck with it!

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  18. I started Transparent and I just kept getting ... stuck. SIGH. I hate when that happens. I'm glad you enjoyed both!

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  19. I like these kinds of books. The first sounds like my kind of contemp. It is unusual and I like unusual! So going to have to check it out.

    Oh and Transparent! I enjoy that kind of power girl book. Hm... which one first... now that is the question.

    I can't believe how much you now have me wanting a contemp YA! :)

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  20. Both sound good, but I am especially intrigued by How Zoe Made Her Dreams (mostly) Come True...such a fun premise, especially for a summertime read. I will definitely be checking that one out. Thanks for the great review!

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  21. Hmm, I never expected TRANSPARENT to be a light quick read! I have a copy of that, and I may just pick it up soon. I love that HOW ZOE MADE HER DREAMS (mostly) COME TRUE is a fun summer read - sounds perfect! Great mini reviews, Jenny!

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  22. I didn't realize that How Zoe has a bit of paranormal twist, am I reading that right about the Fairytale park? It sounds interesting to say the least and I am ready for more sweet summer romance. The Transparent book also caught my eye but I didn't request it as I have a full plate! Glad you enjoyed both, Jenny!

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  23. How Zoe sounds so wonderful and I just dream of sitting by a pool reading it, your review of Transparent surprised me I thought it would be more complex. Great reviews Jenny!

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  24. I'm glad you enjoyed both these books so much, Jenny! I've heard mixed reviews of them both, so I'm not sure if they're really for me, but I definitely want to check out Zoe.. during the summer - it seems like such a cute read!

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  25. Zoe sounds adorable! With the stress of new school year approach, it sounds like it's a book that I'll need to read ASAP.

    Transparent also looks interesting but I'm a bit unsure of picking it up due to the mixed reactions. I think I might wait to see if I can get it at my library.

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  26. Love the mini reviews! The first book is one I hadn't heard of by now I am glad I have, it sounds like a really cute story.

    I just reviewed Transparent as well, and you pretty much said my thoughts as well, it's a fast, entertaining read.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

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  27. Sounds like the Queen stole the show! I want to meet this woman. Trust me--there are many over the top characters in real life too (many of them show up in my office ha ha).

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  28. I really enjoyed Zoe too! It was a very fun read and perfect for summer. I have Transparent so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, I have heard a lot of mixed things so I wasn't sure if I should give it a go or not.

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  29. How Zoe... is such an adorable story. And it's setting has to be one of the best! It's a perfect book for me and I can't wait to read it. On the other hand, Transparent has a very unusual character and I don't know how I'm going to relate to her, but I guess that something new, and I'm always up for that. Definitely adding it to my tbr. Great reviews, Jenny :)

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  30. Ohh, I love the title of the first book! These days, what with my vacation and this awful heat, I mostly just want books that will make me go 'awwwwwww' at least two or three times, and I have a feeling Zoe just might. As for Transparent, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and I'm really very glad you did too.

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  31. I like that the characters in TRANSPARENT face relatable problems - it's always nice to be able to relate with an MC in such a different story. Love the sound of HZMHD(M)CT, too!

    Fabulous reviews :)

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  32. Sold on Zoe totally!! Going to read that one soon!!

    Now Transparent is very interesting. I've read some reviews that differ with yours but left a lot of questions that I didn't understand. You've answered them. I couldn't understand how an invisible girl could have friends/a boyfriend. But you say a person with those gifts is out in the open, clothes give her a basic shape. THANK YOU! I get it now. Maybe I'll even read the book, now that I know there is a plausible reason she can be accepted despite being invisible.

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  33. Love your opinion on Transparent-though the story didn't really work for me, I had so much trouble putting the book down because I found Whipple's writing style super engaging. I just kept reading "one more chapter" until I finished.

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