Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DISNEYLANDERS review and giveaway!

Congrats to Racheal Mcgillivary, the winner of this giveaway!  Racheal, I've e-mailed you to get your mailing address.

A bit about DISNEYLANDERS from the publisher, Theme Park Press

If you’re going to fall in love for the first time, where better to do so than Disneyland? In Kate Abbott’s debut novel, Disneylanders, Casey Allison meets the boy of her dreams in the Happiest Place on Earth.

But what should be a magical milestone turns into a coming-of-age catastrophe thanks to Casey’s overprotective parents, some park bullies, and her own insecurities.

Set entirely in Disneyland, and chockful of park trivia, Disneylanders is a unique, charming chronicle of a young girl’s first crush and her determined struggle to escape her cloistered childhood in a place where childhood lasts forever.

Sound like something you might enjoy?  Good news!  I have a copy of DISNEYLANDERS to give away to one lucky Project Mayhem reader.  To enter, all you have to do is follow Project Mayhem blog and then comment below on what you love about Disneyland!  This giveaway will be open until Friday 7/19.  

I (Marissa) had the fun of reading DISNEYLANDERS a few weeks ago.  I found it to be  a bit of a coming-of-age story, a peek at a few summer days in Casey Allison's life.  We meet Casey on the way to her family’s annual summer vacation.  She’s an almost-fourteen-year-old poised on the edge of teenager-dom, about to step from the confusing (and oh so familiar) pain of changing friendships into the realm of high school, boys, and parental conflict.  

At first, I found it easy to brush aside Casey’s tortured thoughts over her former best friend’s betrayal and her nearly-obsessive crush on Bert, the nice boy she bumps into in line for a ride, as self-absorbed inner monologue, the last thing I as a parent would think a tween should read.  But I think that’s the grown-up me talking, the one who has forgotten how consuming those emotions can be, how difficult it is to detangle from childish ways of relating to the world, and how painful the growing-up pains really are. 

I think Kate Abbott does a great job capturing how extreme everything feels when your whole world is in transition and the unknowns of high school and belonging loom large.  I was a little ambivalent about Casey’s character: at first, she felt a touch precocious, a lot self-absorbed and whiny, and had moments of superiority (e.g. her triumph over the Bra-strap girls) that were cloying.  However, as mentioned above, perhaps that’s more the unlikeable reality of being a preteen than the character herself.  (At least, when I re-read old journals, I discover thirteen-year-old-me to be a touch precocious, a lot self-absorbed and whiny, and with plenty of moments of superiority – ha!)  So, the parent in me cringed at parts and the tween in me gobbled it all up.

In the end, I found myself appreciating Casey’s journey of self-discovery and growth and – even as not the target audience - encouraged to step out of some of my own long-grooved ways of relating to, or hiding from, the community around me.  I have to say that the mom in me choked a little at the over-the-top sketches of parental geekiness, but this was somewhat redeemed by Casey’s newfound ways of relating by the end of the book.  Similarly, the relationship between Casey and Bert felt a bit uneven to me – starting out quite old and a bit too self-aware and then tapering off to what felt like a more age-appropriate whirlwind of first boyfriend, first date, first kiss.  Because of those elements, I’d put this book as an upper-middle-grade or young YA read.

Finally, the writing is very strong, and the setting, meticulously detailed and enjoyable.  I shut the book really, really wanting to go to Disneyland.  I haven’t been to there in about twenty years, but the descriptions were spot on.  As I read, I could smell the water at the Pirates ride, feel the air conditioning in the Space Mountain line and hear the sqwaking of the Tiki Room.  For that alone, it was a fun read and jaunt down memory lane.  I’m sure die-hard Disney fans will love that element even more.  

Thanks so much to Theme Park Press and Kate Abbott for sending me a review copy!


Kate Abbott is a former video game guidebook writer and editor, literary journal fiction editor, and contributing editor for a Disney park-focused newsletter.
She received an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, Palm Desert.
Kate lives in Sacramento, California, with her husband, son, terrier, and tiny parrots.
To learn more about Kate, visit her online at http://kateabbott.com/


  1. I love sharing Disney with the people I love and the whole magical-ness of it.

  2. I have never been to Disneyland, but my husband I went to Disney World -- it was a spur of the moment kinda thing during our trip from Key West to Gulf Port. I'll never forget the way the castle lit up. <3 at first sight.

  3. It's Disney! It doesn't get much better than that! I haven't been to DisneyLand, OR Disney World in a VERY long time, but I love everything about it! I would LOVE to go again! This book sounds fantastic! <3


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