Books · Reviews

The Ugly Teapot – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

Hi again, my fellow blogger friends! Hope your week’s been going well πŸ™‚

First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the author of this book for only getting to post a review on it now. I have absolutely no excuse other than being in the mood for other genres and postponing reading this one. But I finally read it and these are my thoughts on it.

Thank you very much, Fred, for providing me with a review copy!


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synopsis17

Hannah Bradbury’s life changes when her photographer dad is suddenly killed in Baghdad. In between the many trinkets he has brought her over the years lies the weirdest and most fascinating of them all: the Aladdin’s lamp, which resembles an ugly, old teapot, but promises to take Hannah on the most unbelievable of adventures…


first-impressions

When the author first reached out to me, I was quite happy! I always love a good middle grade story filled with magic and fairy tale vibes, which this one seemed to have in abundance. Plus, I’ve always liked Aladdin and anything One Thousand Nights, so it was an easy pick.

I actually started the book last year and set it aside for a few months as I was not really in the mood for this type of story. I picked it up again a few days ago and finally finished it. So here we go!


the-sweet

I thought the story and plot were quite cool. There was inspiration drawn from Aladdin and One Thousand Nights, as mentiones, and possibly a whole other bunch of fairy tales and myths, which I really love, but everything the author wrote did feel genuinely interesting even if felt like something I’d already read before. The fact that some things felt really cheesy and predictable is explained later on, so no complaining there.

The catalyst for Hannah’s adventure was also believable and not forced at all, which I appreciated. I could tell the author had handcrafted it carefully and made sure it made sense.

The twist also came from nowhere and I was definitely not expecting the story to go that way. It was a way darker tale than I was led to believe, and even maybe a bit too much for a kids’ book. I’m fine with that, personally, but maybe be careful if you’re going to let a small child read this. On Goodreads, it’s shelved under Middle Grade and Young Adult alike, which sounds pretty accurate to me. There’s a lot of violence in this and even contains a bit of psychological horror, so be warned.

What I liked most about it was the magical realism, and how we’re kept wondering until the very end whether what happened is reality or not. The fact that it was also in motion at all times forced me to not spend too much time wondering about it, as there was so much going on.

The ending left me curious about how the next installments will play out, too.


the-bitter

Unfortunately, none of what I mentioned was enough to make me a fan.

I was not too invested in the story and ended up setting it down and picking it up multiple times. Was this the book’s fault? Not exactly. I did try my best to try and read it, it just never really spoke to me.

I never truly connected with any of the characters, for one. Hannah, our heroine, was a bit of a mess: she could be really mature and grounded at times, too much for her age, and then be incredibly childish to the point of sounding like a spoiled seven-year-old. Either way, I never really got the impression that she was fourteen. She didn’t speak like one, and she certainly didn’t act like one. I get that she was going through a really tough period in her life and maybe that was the reason for her erratic behavior, but it still didn’t feel right to me.

All the other characters, both adult and children alike, didn’t spark any emotion within me either. I felt so distant from them, like I was reading about a stranger’s story that I didn’t care much about, even if I could feel sympathetic towards them. I ended up forgetting all about their troubles, though, and moving on to the next scene, just like the characters themselves.

Which brings me to writing and pacing.

I understand the author is primarily a TV/movie writer and a very good one. I’m not going to contest that as I’m not familiar with his work. But what I do know is that’s mostly what this book felt to me like: a script. I also understand that it started as a script, so it only makes sense. But it seems like the transition from script to book didn’t quite hit the mark and turned out as a strange hybrid instead.

To me, this reading experience felt very staccato. It was scene-scene-scene, action-action-action, some nice dialogue and humor in between, some cool descriptions of these foreign, magical places, and then more scene-scene-scene, action-action-action. Do you know what I mean? There was no real introspection or some sort of inner musings to make me feel for the characters and really get inside their heads. Mostly, it felt very mechanic and to the point, more informative/descriptive than anything else, and with a clear goal in mind. Which is fine for some readers, just not for me.

The pacing was… Weird. I was really into the story at times, and would easily breeze through chapters. But there were also times where it was just not working for me. Part of the reason why I kept putting the book down and finding something else to read, I guess.


final-thoughts

Overall, this was a bit of a slow ride for me. I did like it to some extent, but never really felt emotionally invested in the story or the characters. They were there, and I read about them, and had some interest in their affairs, but whenever I closed my reading app and went to do something else, everything vanished from my mind as though nothing had happened at all. Which is not what a reader wants to feel.

I could appreciate Holmes’s vision and how he worked to build this other world and mix reality with fantasy, keeping the reader guessing. It wasn’t completely original, but it was a great take on already existing tropes. I also liked how he took the risk of making it much darker than one’s expecting, even if it might not be the most appropriate for younger children. Really surprised me.

But as a whole, I felt this needed to be longer and have more meat in it. There were some very nice descriptions and cool dialogue, but everything else felt a bit lacking. I wanted to experience the characters’ pain and joy and fear and I never got that. There was no time, almost no commentary on their part. So I ended up simply going through the motions.

I could definitely see this as an awesome movie or TV show, full of action and adventure. But, unfortunately, as a book it didn’t quite work for me.

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Thank you so much for reading and until next time!

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Have you read The Ugly Teapot yet? Did you enjoy this review? Leave me your comments below! q^β€Ώ^ q

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73 thoughts on “The Ugly Teapot – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

  1. This sounds like a really interesting book Sophie, and for the first half of your review I wondered whether this would be a five star read for you simply because it sounded great. I love fairytale retellings and there aren’t many Aladdin/One Thousand Nights retellings so that makes this one unique in my mind (plus I love the magical realism genre as well and there aren’t really enough books released within that genre for me to read). πŸ˜€
    Then I saw the second half of your review. I think you definitely made some good points, and I guess the fact that it took you so long to get through The Ugly Teapot shows you weren’t really invested in the story (I get where you’re coming from because I’m a mood reader as well.)
    Great review, and I hope the next book you pick up is a better read for you. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It did, Beth! And I was really hoping it would be a great read from the looks of it but eventually it became clear that was not the case… Very disappointed because it did have potential and Fred was really nice so I was hoping I could give him a positive review. Alas, it was not meant to be but maybe the sequel gets better πŸ™‚
      It’s definitely not a retelling but it does have some elements from those tales. Also, really reminded me of Indiana Jones. I think it makes sense in the end why those would be present, but I’m a bit unsure about the overall purpose of the author. I guess that’s part of the magical realism bit πŸ™‚
      We mood readers have it so tough! I tried to get back to this book countless times for a year and I guess if it hadn’t been an author request, I would have just given up on it. But I just felt bad I had accepted the book and not given it a fair shot. So now that’s over with.
      Thank you so much, Beth! ❀ I wish you the same, lovely ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the end it’s better it was an honest review than a fake one because you wanted to give a nice author positive feedback. Also I think constructive criticism should always be welcome because it’s how people improve and your review was that in my mind. πŸ™‚ I guess as well it’s just the risk people take when their book is out there in the world, not everyone is going to love it unfortunately. πŸ™‚
        It sounds like a lot of good elements in one book, and yeah overall magical realism is still a massive draw for me.
        At least you managed to get all the way through it then. That’s definitely something to say because with books I don’t want to read I know if I try and force myself to read them I’ll slump really badly.
        That’s all right, and thanks Sophie! πŸ™‚ ❀️

        Like

        1. Yeah, I’m of the same opinion but it still feels weird to deliver a negative review, you know? I just don’t like to be anything but nice, ever, no matter how my reviews may tell the opposite xD So it makes me feel a bit bad, but not as bad as if I’d lied about it.
          Definitely agree, constructive criticism is vital to any creator and those who ignore/reject it are just hurting themselves in the process. Although, more often than not, that’s what usually happens. It just baffles me when I read about an author coming after a reviewer, for instance. I mean, if you’re about to expose your work to the world, you do need to get some thick skin. I’m sure it’s not fun to read about how someone doesn’t like your work, but that’s just life. You can’t just shame them because they have a different opinion from your own.
          I’d say it’s on the right track to becoming a pretty cool book. It just needs some polishing. And yeah, I wanted to make sure I finished it in case I’d miss something major that was needed in order to understand why certain things were the way they were. I also did it because it was a review request. Otherwise, I would have just dropped it. But I think I owed the author that much and was then able to write a proper review on it πŸ™‚
          No problem, Beth! ❀

          Like

  2. Wow Sophie, this is such an amazing review! I really enjoyed reading what you enjoyed and then the good ole’ nasty bitter stuff. The whole Aladdin/One Thousand Nights idea sounds super fascinating. But then when I reached that part about the pacing and it sounding like a script my heart definitely did drop a bit.
    I really like how you qualified all your thoughts and explained everything fluidly, just like always!
    Anyways, I hope your next read perks you up a bit more! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Delphine! The idea was definitely there and I appreciated the nuances but overall it just didn’t work all that well. For me, personally. And yeah, the script format really threw me off but it does have potential to become much better with some more editing.
      Oh it means a lot to me that you think that! ❀ I do my best to keep my reviews as informative as possible, without spoiling anything, which is quite difficult sometimes hahaha
      Thanks, and you too, hon! πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Ooh…..this at first sounded like a book I was going to add to my to read list. Like you I love these kinds of story elements, but then the review went on and my enthusiasm faded. This really doesn’t sound like a book I want to pick up now. A book that reads more like a tv script, really doesn’t sound like a novel at all (as much as I love television shows lol πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚). Seriously though….your review was very balanced and did a great job in explaining the book’s strengths, but also it’s weaknesses. So in other words: awesome review.
    Hopefully your next book is going to better πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I thought so too! Unfortunately, such was not the case :/
      It was just too straight forward and descriptive and it didn’t have much soul in it, which is hateful to say but that’s how it felt like to me… Like I said, maybe this could work on a screen. Just not as a book.
      Thank you so much! I’m glad you think so πŸ™‚ I did my best to keep this as leveled as possible, even if I did not enjoy my reading all that much. The author was really cool and I felt bad I couldn’t give him a positive review but hey, this is one opinion in a hundred. I’m sure many others liked his content.
      As always, your input means a lot to me! Thank you again for being such an awesome guy πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel as guilty as you for accepting to review this book and haven’t review it yet. You have created the trend for us. I will read and review it and then circle back to reading your review in detail 😊 but sorry you didn’t enjoyed it much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The cover is so pretty!
    I think it is hard to go from writing scripts to a novel – some tropes that work well on TV (like having a mature character act like a child), might not work as well in prose. Probably this is why it also felt mechanic, having it be written as a script first.

    Thank you for your lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! You can really taste the whimsical feels from it ❀
      Unfortunately, I think that was the case here. Again, I'm not familiar with Fred's work outside of books but I'm sure he's fabulous in his field. And while I think it's great that he's tried to produce a novel, there's still a lot to improve. So maybe the sequel will be better! I sure hope so πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Andreea! Glad you enjoyed it ^^

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That does sound like a really cool concept for a MG novel. I am sorry that the pacing was too slow for you. In my opinion, MG novel should move a bit quicker to maintain the attention of the reader and the characters are key. I hope that the next read you pick up is more enjoyable. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is! And it wasn’t because it was slow, it was just that it was a bit all over the place and didn’t pull me in. It was actually quite action-packed and moved pretty quickly. The only problem was that it didn’t speak to me and I felt very little while reading it.
      Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ ❀

      Like

  7. Another insightful review! The idea of Aladdin and One Thousand Nights sounds very intriguing, but it’s too bad that the writing was off-putting and that you didn’t really connect with any of the characters. That’s always frustrating. I haven’t really thought of writing as staccato before, but it makes perfect sense to me. This being that writing style, I can definitely see how this was a book that you would put down and picked up multiple times. I probably would have been the same way.

    I’m sorry that this book didn’t work for you. 😦 Hopefully, your next one will be better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Heidi! Yeah, that’s what grabbed my attention right at the start but I guess not even that was able to save my reading experience :/
      It was super frustrating, and unfortunately in the end I just didn’t care for them at all.
      Rhythm-wise, that’s how it felt to me. I’m not sure if it makes sense for others, but I’m glad it does to you πŸ™‚ Just that short-lived, quick succession of events happening and not really carrying much emotion to them. It didn’t flow well, like stories are supposed to, and just felt disconnected.
      That’s alright, thanks so much! I wish you luck with your next read as well πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely review, Sophie! You had me intrigued by the start and the One Thousand Nights/Aladdin vibes, but I’m a bit sad you weren’t able to connect and really feel invested in the story and the characters here :/ I hope your next read will be better! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I LOVED The Forbidden Wish SO MUCH?? I don’t know if you’ve read it, it’s a YA retelling of Aladdin, it’s incredible and the writing and world is stunning. It’s from Jessica Khoury πŸ™‚

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  9. It’s funny how, even though there are elements you can appreciate, some books just completely miss the mark. I think pacing issues are just death to a story. A book you’ve put down and then started again that many times is never going to be a winner. I hope your next read is better for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, and that was definitely the case with this one! It wasn’t that it was slow or even too fast, it was just that it was weird and all over the place. It didn’t flow well in my opinion, and thus wasn’t able to keep my attention for very long.
      It was much like one of those movies you tune in to watch on TV on a Sunday evening: it’s enjoyable enough but if you have something else better to do, you won’t stick around. And when you do leave, you end up forgetting about it.
      Thank you very much, Lydia ❀ And to you, too! πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. Seems like a story that it would be easy to have mixed emotions about. I can see why this book would be so tempting to pick up. And that it has a great plot and great moments happening. But what does it for me is “The characters” I like seeing depth and growth and that is what does it for me.

    BTW I love the layout of your reviews, it is so CUTE and I love the theme you have here. So pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, me too! Not just the characters but the story has to be engaging too, and this one was none of that. So it was really hard for me to want to pick it up and read it, or even finish it. But I’m glad I did.
      Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ That’s so sweet of you ❀ I love your blog as well, being a fellow romance fan myself! Do keep up the awesome work 😊

      Like

  11. Excellent review, Sophie. You take such care and thoughtfulness in describing what worked and what didn’t work for you. I hope the author sees this as a gift because you give good specifics. With specifics, we authors can revisit and make changes if we choose. Most interesting to me were your comments on the sense that you were reading a book/script hybrid. They really are two different things. I’ve never thought about that and the challenges of converting one to another. Good info. Thanks for the review. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Diana πŸ™‚
      I think negative reviews should be handled with extra care and I would never be disrespectful to the author despite not having enjoyed his work as much as I’d wished. I did like some parts of The Ugly Teapot, it just didn’t make me fall in love as a whole.
      I certainly hope this constructive criticism helps Fred in any way possible, as that is my main goal. And also to provide some pointers for any potential readers who would otherwise not know what they would encounter.
      As mentioned, I think his work as a TV/movie producer made it possible for him to come up with an interesting tale and he certainly has some solid years of experience. It was mainly the writing structure and emotional aspect that weren’t my favorites. I had never thought about it much before this, either, but it could explain why it felt so mechanic to me. Script writing is all about dialogue and scene description, which he nailed. But seeing as it doesn’t focus on setting the mood or providing the reader with any additional commentary, that’s where it failed for me.
      Thank you so much for reading! ❀ Your feedback is always welcome ^^

      Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s an amazing cover, and I do really like the name πŸ™‚ that sounds like a very good premise! It’s too bad it didn’t quite measure up. However, I know just what you mean about the characters when you put it like that, I’ve had that happen to me loads of times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the cover is so pretty! I can’t resist fairy tale vibes, I guess πŸ˜›
      I thought it certainly sounded promising but in the end, fell a bit short. It has happened to me a couple of times as well but not quite like this… The writing did play a major role in how I felt about the characters, and that totally influenced my overall reading experience. Quite disappointing :/

      Like

  13. Sounds interesting. It might not have been your favorite but I’m always looking for books for my son who is elementary school but reading MG books. He might dig it, never know! Thanks for the heads up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I don’t really know how kids would react to this book, to be honest. It has a good enough premise, it’s fast-paced and the writing won’t be too much of a problem for younger readers. I think they might actually enjoy the writing style, very too the point and concise, as most kids don’t have the biggest attention spans.
      It might be a bit too mature for your son, though, due to some violent content, etc. I’m not sure. It really depends on what you’re looking for πŸ™‚
      No problem, Rebecca, happy to help! ❀

      Like

  14. This sounded quite wonderful at first Sophie! I liked the idea of an Aladdin retelling in a magical realism sort of world… sounds like it didn’t execute though. I’ve read other screenwriter books and they have many of the problems you talk about… so I understood exactly what you meant! I think they are used to the screen showing a character to relate to. β™₯️ Better reading next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know!! I was so hopeful as I usually enjoy MG books quite a lot and the Arabic fairy tale vibe really interested me… Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work, no.
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed these issues! I don’t think I ever read any books by former screenwriters before this one. I’m actually reading one now (Feel Me Fall by James Morris) though I’m really enjoying it and haven’t found any similarities with Holmes’s style. So I take it some authors have done the transition nicely and others not so much? Or at least, need a bit more time and experience?
      I understand the problem, and was not in any way diminishing their work as screenwriters. In fact, I actually think they bring an interesting perspective to the table. Still, one can’t help but notice these things and of course I had to mention them just so readers would know what to expect, and also because it severally impaired my overall reading experience.
      Thanks so much, Dani! πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I understand Sophie. Screenwriters are pretty inventive and know how to give tropes their own twist. And some screenwriters start as book writers so they don’t have the same style issues. Any time we straddle two different crafts there will be issues. I personally LOVE examining these issues and understanding them. πŸ˜„

        Like

  15. This sounds like an interesting read. The whole Aladdin retelling thing is cool because we really don’t see it all that much. This is a brilliant review and you have made some really good points. I hope your next read is better πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It could have been, yeah, but the writing didn’t really do it justice unfortunately :/ There are a few that I’ve been finding lately, though, that might be just what I needed so I’m really excited to try them out!
      Thank you so much, Steff ❀ So far it's been so much better ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  16. As I was reading the reading, the “sweet” section seemed abundant and huge that I just assumed that it was a book that you ended up loving, but then the “bitter” knocked me out hahahah Damn… I just have to say that I absolutely hate running into a book that reads like a script. It is the lamest thing I’ve ever seen. Also super disappointed by the sound of a girl who doesn’t sound like a girl, especially in a middle-grade book? Wow! Sorry to hear how unpleasant it was. Hopefully the next MG book will be far more interesting. Fantastic review as always, Sophie. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha oh yeah… That… That was just to fool you, guys! πŸ˜›
      I actually haven’t experienced much of that, thank God. The girl thing, on the other hand, I’ve had my fair share of cases and was disappointed to see it was a male author writing her and making those sorts of mistakes. I mean, don’t you have sort of a responsibility to do your research and maybe get a reader of the opposite sex to help you with a POV you don’t really have much experience with, personally? Considering MG is supposed to be a bit easier than getting inside a teenage girl’s head, I’m assuming? I don’t know, just my opinion.
      It’s okay, everything’s a learning experience for me πŸ™‚ And I like to check out books I never would have known existed, in the first place. Comes with the job!
      Thank you so much, Lashaan, and you too! ^_^ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Love the premise and the inspiration. Glad it was believable and I don’t mind dark things either. Just a shame you weren’t invested and couldn’t connected with the characters- I have had that a lot with some books. And it’s a pity that it felt like reading a script, which is understandable considering how it started, but shouldn’t be the end result. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here! That’s why it was even more of a disappointment, I guess… It’s understandable, surely, and especially if the author hasn’t dabbled too much on actual literature but maybe taking a bit more time to edit the book before publishing it would have been the best course of action. Hopefully, the sequel is better πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Hm… I’m not sure how I feel about this book! I want to read this one because I absolutely Aladdin and then I am also in love with retellings. So that all sounded so promising to me! I really like a bit of a dark tale as well. I’m a bit unsure about things with it kind of reading more like a script than a story and a lack of connection with the characters… Especially as I am a character driven reader!

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    1. Well, if that’s why you want to read it I don’t think you’d get a lot out of it because although it has some Aladdin vibes, it doesn’t really explore the tale all that much. If anything, it borrowed specific elements from it but took a completely different approach. I’d say more Indiana Jones than Aladdin.
      Yeah, the script-like writing was a bit of a turn off for me, as well as the lack of connection. It all felt very rushed in the end.
      But, who knows, you might like it πŸ™‚ I’m sure the author would love to provide a copy for review, if you’re interested.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I think I can learn a lot about reviewing books by studying your review. It also gives me better insight as a relatively new author as to what I need to watch for when writing a book and the sort of elements I can expect reviewers to address. It was both thorough and honest, a good mix of feedback both positive and negative. I am taking notes and learning from this.

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