A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in this contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa's perfect summer falls apart.
Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn't have to do it alone. With her friend Miller's support, she's determined to prove that she's more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she's finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she's ready for something real.
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I loved Karole Cozzo’s first two books… a lot. She’s quickly become an auto-buy author for me for so many reasons! Her books have so much depth and emotion and of course she never forgets the swoons! That said, I always stress when I pick up a favorite author’s new book because OMG what if this is the one book that doesn’t work for me? Thankfully that is definitely not the case here. I started this book thinking I’d read a couple chapters before bed and before I knew it, I was turning the last page. I just wanted to know more and more about Alyssa and her story!
In The Truth About Happily Ever After, Alyssa has a perfect summer ahead of her. She works as a Cinderella at her favorite theme park, and it’s not a job that she takes lightly. She is devoted to the character and the kids and families that she is entertaining. She also has a boyfriend who is finally no longer going to be long distance and she has a group of friends that she can count on!
Alyssa’s summer isn’t starting out as she had hoped though, things with her boyfriend are strained and when things with him end, she has to come to terms that things aren’t always going to be perfect, and she has to work hard to keep herself from falling into bad habits, and her friend Miller is there to help her find a stronger, better version of the Cinderella she’s always been.
Ugh… let me just start out by saying I wanted to punch Jake in the junk soooooo bad. Phew… I feel better getting that off my chest. Seriously though, I struggled with how much of a tool he was and how much Alyssa cared about him and how much effort she invested in him and how everything goes down with him… it took everything in me not to throw my book across the room.
BUT – once he’s no longer a factor and Alyssa starts mending her broken heart, I love that she starts to explore things that she might have missed out on had her summer gone just as she’d planned.
Like Miller. I loved loved loved Miller so much. He’s an amazing friend to Alyssa and I really liked the way things progress between them. He’s so sweet with her and he pushes her to be stronger and healthier and he will definitely make you swoon.
This story isn’t all fluff though. As always Cozzo weaves in some more serious themes here. Alyssa, through-out this story, is dealing with the expectations of her job and that means maintaining somewhat unrealistic expectations in weight and body sizes. I think Cozzo does a really good job of exploring these issues and doing it in a way that isn’t harmful. I especially loved that Miller didn’t just pretend it wasn’t happening and that he wasn’t concerned.
If you’re looking for a fun, sweet, charming read, definitely get this on your TBR and make sure you pick up a copy when it arrives on bookshelves.
Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
This one started off so cute! I loved Alyssa and that she took being a theme park princess so seriously. I thought she was nice and sweet. She never came off as a snob, thinking she was better than other people. She was a genuinely nice person and willing to help others and do the right thing!
I also liked the romance--sort of. It's complicated. See, Alyssa had this long-distance boyfriend who was coming to visit her and she was over the moon. But the moment the reunite, there's sort of a wall between the two of them. I absolutely hated the way her boyfriend treated her, especially when Alyssa had been trying so hard for their relationship--and what he did literally not even 5 minutes after they broke up made me so angry.
The way Alyssa dealt with it was a little disheartening. I've never read a book where the main character focused so much on her weight. It seemed that Alyssa was doing it without a second thought and that kind of seemed iffy. I'm glad that she had someone looking out for her though.
The romance with another person in this novel started off really well! But towards the end, it felt waaaaay too childish, really. The problem seemed silly and the way it was dealt with seemed rushed, which ultimately ruined it for me.
The Truth About Happily Ever After is a rollercoaster of emotions. Set in a theme park, this book is about proving yourself and overcoming difficulties. The main character is so likeable and realistic, but also so strong. For those that have ever wondered what it might be like to work at Disneyland, this book outlines both the good and the bad.
This book is so adorable! Alyssa’s summer isn’t going as well as she hoped, and she is going through a rough time since her boyfriend broke up with her. It doesn’t help that others judge her for her job as a princess at a theme park. This story is all about finding happily ever after, with or without Prince Charming, and destroying others’ expectations. I loved all the references to Disney princesses, such as Cinderella, and the amazing cast of characters. Honestly, if you like Disney and a strong female lead, you should definitely pick this one up as soon as possible.
One of the main aspects of this book that really drew me in is the setting. I adore all books set in a theme park, so I knew that I would love The Truth About Happily Ever After. This book in particular focuses on more of the behind the scenes aspects of working at a theme park, which I found to be so interesting. The descriptions of the secret tunnels and the costume rooms are so intriguing, and I would love to see these hidden areas of theme parks in real life. However, it’s not all fun and games playing a princess, and there are such strict expectations that must be met. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed learning about Alyssa’s experience at the park, and I would love to read an entire series with this same setting!
Going back to Alyssa, she is such an epic main character! She is a sorority girl and a theme park princess who is so real. After her breakup, she is so determined to prove that there is more to her than just a princess, and she is such a fierce character. Alyssa even tries out boxing! She goes through some rough moments, and she has her flaws, but she is so good at bouncing back and overcoming hardship. If you like your characters sassy and sweet, you’ll fall in love with Alyssa.
The Truth About Happily Ever After is a story about surmounting difficulties and going against the image that others have of you. It is set in a Disney-like theme park and contains a charming main character. I loved this book, and I would definitely recommend it this summer!
*e-ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley - thanks so much to Swoon Reads for sending me a copy although it's probably the last one you will ever send me, lol. XD But thanks so much!!*
*All quotes that are used are from an unfinished copy*
Warning: Book Rant Ahead (triggering topic such as eating disorders will be discussed) - I actually used to be a fan of book rants. One of my best friends and I would scour through Goodreads, hunting down book rants of our favorite and least favorite books to find them. We thought they were hilarious because people would get so sassy and use the best gifs. It was our own personal book soap opera.
However, once I got into the book blogging world, I saw what book rants were like. You see authors actually reading your work, and after cultivating relationships with some, you realize they're not just a myth anymore - they're real human people which never really computed for me. Anyway, I've only done one other sort of book rant, and I tried really hard with that one to be as nice as I could. However, after reading only 11% of this book and letting it sit with me for a while, I still found myself needing to vent out my frustrations with this book. I'm such an upset Book Princess right now with this book.
Okay, doesn't this sound like the cutest little contemporary?? I am a SUCKER for books that have a theme park in them. But add in a theme park that is basically Disneyworld? Yup, this Book Princess will buy up your book SO FAST. I have been looking for books like this ever since Dream Factory and How Zoe Made (Mostly) All of Her Dreams Come True ruined me for these books forever. They are so adorable and cute and the setting is just SO GOOD. (Also, Devoured by Amanda Marrone is a slightly paranormal one but the epic setting of a theme park.)
So when I saw this book, I knew I had to get it. However, Swoon Reads decided throw me for a loop for this one when I decided to go pre-order it and found out it was a full priced hardcover instead of their usual cheap paperback copies. On the off chance, I decided to request it on Netgalley just to test it out, but I was sure it was going to be adorable, fluffy and everything I wanted in my epic theme park book.
I was sooooooo wrong.
First off, this book isn't YA. To me, this book was marketed as YA, I was told it was in YA, it's in Netgalley as YA, but it's not YA. It's NA, or New Adult. Now, I don't have a problem with NA books. I rather enjoy them. However, it's a lot different going into a book, expecting YA and then discovering it's NA. I kept asking, wait, why is this girl living alone? Where are her parents? Why is she possibly living with her boyfriend? Why isn't she in school? WHAT IS GOING ON? If I had been given the description of NA, I wouldn't have been so confused. Even Goodreads is perplexed.
The second issue I had was, well, with Alyssa. She was too fluffy. Like, imagine a cartoon Princess character actor at Disneyworld with sunshines and rainbows and so much fluff. I get Cozzo was trying to introduce us to the theme park and excitement of working at your dream job. When Alyssa is going in for her "first day" on the job ("first" day that we're seeing but she's actually worked there for a long while), she is SO EXCITED. I mean, there is glee. She can't believe she works there!
Now, okay, if this Book Princess was working at Disney and playing a Princess, she would probably get SO EXCITED, too. But just like anything, it would wear out a bit. You can love your job, but the excitement just for the sake of excitement for this book rubbed me the wrong way.
Okay, these were my lesser objections. I have two big objections that caused me to leave this book in a giant huff. The start of the real book rant starts now - I'm about to be an Angtsy Book Princess soooooooo...warning. And the topic of eating disorders will be discussed here, so heads up. And one last warning: if you're a follower of my blog, you probably have seen that I don't really get personal so well. Like, I don't open so much about certain things, and that's how I am mostly in real life, so some of the things I'm about to talk about are quite personal and some of them, I'm actually talking about for the first time. Soooooo, yeah. It's probably going to be a bit of mess, and if I deflect with a bad attempt at humor, it's not me trivializing anything - it's just how I deal with super personal stuff.
The book opens with our heroine, Alyssa, eagerly awaiting the return of her boyfriend, Jake. It's the regular cutesy romance - he was the dashing prince who saved and fixed up her scraped knee when she fell for her first day as Cinderella. Except he wasn't a dashing prince character actor but instead he was a paramedic for the park. Which is cool. I loved the concept of a non-prince. However, Alyssa is dashing around like one of the birdies in Cinderella and being so excited for Jake to arrive back from college. And not even a page in we're introduced to a new character in the book: Alyssa's eating disorder.
As I discussed in a previous book review, I'm not sure how I feel about trigger warnings on books, but I believe some kind of warning needs to mentioned for important and harm-causing issues. Nowhere was I alerted this book would deal with an eating disorder. There was nothing in summary, I never saw it in any of the promo - I simply thought this was just a cute book about a girl getting dumped by a guy and having a redemption arc in the middle of the most epic setting ever.
Now, eating disorders in books can be triggering especially if handled wrong. Now, while I have read a few books with eating disorders, I haven't read a book that involved "an invisible calculator" or calorie counting to the extreme. This eating disorder seems to be the most sneaky to me - you think that you're just focusing on trying to be healthy. It's what you're supposed to do, right? You portion your intake, make sure you stick to that 2000 calories a day, look at all the labels, look up what your favorite meals and fast food places really involve, mentally calculate it, or oh, hey, they have apps that do that for you. You're just be healthy...or at least that's what you tell yourself. It's what's Alyssa told herself.
It's also what I told myself for a longest time, until I realized I had a problem.
Because you can do these things and obsess over them constantly...because when you do these things and seriously feel sick to your stomach if you go over the limit....or skip meals or food because you went over your amount for the day, then it's not alright. When you feel guilty for every pound you've lost because you know you're not doing something right. When the people talking about your weight change from praise to furrowed eyebrows and questioning eyes. When you see bones. That? That's not okay, and it took me a long time to realize that and a whole lot of weight lost in a short amount of time. It's been a little under a year since I came to that conclusion, but it's still a struggle sometimes.
Alyssa, however, seems to have some awareness that what she is doing is not okay. She hides her food journal, she understands some of the issues that come with her possible disorder (period changing, working out, etc.). However, it's still promoted a bit cheerfully. She understands it to be okay. This is perfectly fine, because it's her job, according to her. There are once-overs where all the characters are checked in to make sure they are the same weight for their costumes, etc. She is told she has nothing to worry about a fellow princess. When she goes in to get her once-over, there is this exchange:
(Diana, part of the HR department) "No sweat for you, right?" I smile, refusing to let any self-doubt show, and she steps closer to confide in me. "Thank you for making my job easy. I had to send Alana home today. She could barely zip her gown. Twelve pounds in ten days, how does that even happen, as hot as it been? We all should be sweating the pounds off."
Diana looks at me, but I don't have an answer for her.
She shrugs. "Who knows? Maybe a bad breakup she wouldn't cop to, or something." A few paragraphs later, there's this:
At least look-overs have a purpose, separate and apart from utter degradation. With some many different girls playing princess, someone has to keep an eye on character consistency and integrity. Park-goers pay a lot of money for us to get it right, to make dreams come true.
Once Diana is done inspecting my body from every angle and recording my weight after it flashes on the screen of the electric scale, she steps forward to inspect my face. She studies my complexion, commands me to smile so she can see my teeth. Then her shoulders collapse in relief and she gives me a hug. "You look great, Sweet Pea. You're my all-star, Alyssa. Keep up the good work." She laughs. "If this was an orchestra, you'd be my first chair Cinderella."
I exhale a quick sigh of relief and smile back at her.
I'm proud of myself. "I'm proud of myself"? Everyone's disorder is different, but shouldn't there be some sort of internal struggle? Whenever I was praised for my loss, I still had mixed feelings on it. Sure, I felt good, but it was also like I didn't know what to say because I had the self-awareness to know what I was doing wasn't healthy. Alyssa knows this is something to hide yet she only feels proud...and then things instantly jump to another section of the novel. There is no more mention of it as Alyssa goes to work. So being proud and relieved is the only feeling we get and there is nothing after that. Isn't this romanticizing it? Alyssa has self-awareness enough to hide what she's doing, but not self-awareness to feel some guilt over what she's doing to have some mixed feelings?
So, here I am, literally at 4% going, I'm not sure about this. Maybe this is part of the redemption arc. Maybe she will figure it out, maybe this will get better. You're close reading this, looking for something to go wrong with the eating disorder rep. It's not too triggering yet for you, and this book is your holy grail. You have to continue. We already know I'm a book masochist.
I continued, and at 6%, it's time to meet this Jake. He's flying in from college, and Alyssa is waiting for him with this big meal she has prepared. I mean, big meal. Full of wine, chicken parm, and dessert as well. She's SO EXCITED. Jake's going to be here, she has perfected her meal, and...her eating disorder has mysteriously vanished. Not once during the discussion of the food preparation (which there was quite a few paragraphs of it) does she discuss her calorie counting. Not once when she's downing her wine does she worry about writing it down in the journal. Where did it go? Why wasn't it there? Okay, when it was actually served, she's worried about why Jake is late, but during the preparation, there should have been some discussion of guilt, fear, something. It's gone, and if the representation was going to be right, there should have been at least a sentence about it if not a few paragraphs of worry.
And then Jake shows up almost two hours late, dripping wet with no reason, there was yet a new character in the story: Alyssa's stupidity. Alyssa calls him out for being so late and dripping wet with no reason and his answer? I'm not even joking when I tell you this is his story: he took a taxi from the airport, the taxi driver was evil (wait sorry, CRIMINAL cabbie as Jake calls him) and caused a hit and run with a pedestrian, Jake being the paramedic RUSHED into the CVS right there, patched the person up in the middle of the storm, but you know, he was stranded because the criminal cabbie just left his butt there. Oh, and he let it drop that there was a "we" in the taxi that he shared with someone headed in this direction.
...and Alyssa bought every word of it. LITERALLY EVERY WORD. In what world, does this happen? In what world, is this story believable? In what world is this believed in ONE PAGE?
I just kept blinking at the page, but I was still stuck in my head that I was close reading this, I had to keep going because I was literally only 7% in and I owed it to Swoon Reads to keep going, and I wanted this book so much - I wanted it to be the best and I had waited for this book since July of last year.
So Alyssa and Jake are distant throughout dinner and it's awkward but at least Alyssa realizes that. They're a mess. Alyssa cries because Jake already ate and their perfect dinner is ruined, they sort of make up, but Alyssa still feels there is a missed connection. Next day, Alyssa is hanging out with the princess squad and this princess (maybe she's a godmother, I can't quite remember), Chrissi, sees Alyssa is down in the princess dumps. Chrissi pulls it out of Alyssa that her and Jake just didn't reconnect last night.
She cocks her head. "The concept that the way to a guy's heart is through his stomach is super outdated." Her eyebrows disappear beneath her bangs, and her tongue appears in the corner of her mouth. "There's another type of magic they appreciate much, much more."
I giggle. "Chrissi!"
She puts her hand on my knee. "No, I'm serious here." She shrugs. "Us girls, we have this tendency to want all the emotional stuff to feel perfectly aligned in order for the physical to be good, right? But guys, they're backward that way, most of them anyway, and sometimes, surprisingly, getting physical together can make the other stuff click. Help all involved parties relax a little bit and just have some fun together. Reconnect. Ya know?" ...
Um, right, because this is the logical answer? Not talking it out? Not open and clear communication? Don't tell him you're having issues? I don't judge anyone about what they decide is right for them when it comes to this part of their relationship, but this is concerning. This book is marketed to a young adult audience, and it's telling them that, oh, you're having problems in a relationship? Not connecting? Jump right into bed and it will literally solve all problems. That one paragraph is also confirming negative stereotypes that women are emotional creatures and men just need to have the physical aspect.
Chrissi continued her wonderful advice that they needed to go to the local lingerie shop and get some princess themed lingerie. Wasn't aware that was a thing, but now I answered a question about my princesses I'm not sure I ever needed answered? XD Good to know. Anyway, they go to the lingerie shop and Chrissi complains there is not godmother lingerie and I just gave up. I couldn't do it anyway. I was so upset. Maybe I was just close reading this whole thing. Maybe I sensationalized a few things, but I'm not quite sure so. I've been thinking about this post ever since I read it a few weeks ago. I discussed it with a friend that seemed to believe it was as crazy as I said it was. I kept debating how I wanted to approach this. I'm not a good sharer (which is why you only got a few sentences on it), and I do get paranoid that sometimes I'm the only one that sees these things. But this was my interpretation of this book. But I think this book has a concerning start to its eating disorder representation, questionable messages, and more. All of this happened 11% into the novel. 11%. I have more than 2800 (more than 3200 by the end of this) words on 11% of a book. I understand that there is probably a redemption arc. From what I get from the other reviews, it is brought up to Alyssa that she does have an eating disorder from her new love interest, Miller. So it is eventually handled. I wanted to continue to find out how it was handled more, but if this book upset me so much already, I wasn't sure I should continue for my own sake. But I feel like there was a lot in these first few pages that could be handled in a different way. I think there also should have been mentioned somewhere that this was going to deal with an eating disorder. I felt so under-prepared going to into the story. I get Cozzo is trying to show the horrible practice of once-overs, but from where I stood, this wasn't the way to do it.
So, yeah, this got a bit more personal than what I was looking to do. Again, I don't do it well, but I felt I needed to share because this book struck me deep with its representation. It was a huge problem I had with the story. I've struggled for about three hours now to do this review, but I want people to know about what you're getting in this novel. There were a few things that were nice about the novel, and Cozzo has a nice writing style, but for this novel, I had to share the demerits instead of the merits.
Clearly, I didn't finish it, so no crowns. And I don't even feel like putting up a Princess rating for it.
(I'm so impressed if you made it down here. Thank you so much for listening. All of what I spoke was just my experience with the book and own issues. I can't speak to if these are similar to others, but I did apply it to the novel. I hope nothing I said was offensive or triggering for anyone, but please let me know since this is the first time I've tried to discussing a particularly sensitive topic especially for myself.)
Also, Swoon Reads it was nice knowing you. XD I'm still going to try Wesley James Ruined My Life, and hope that will solve my love for theme park books.
I'm a big fan of stories that take place during the summer at amusement parks - they just feel more magical somehow - so I was stoked to read The Truth About Happily Ever After.
Karole Cozzo introduces us to Alyssa, a peppy, cheerful sorority girl who loves working as a Cinderella at her favorite theme park. She's convinced she's on the path to happily ever after, until her boyfriend dumps her for someone else. Alyssa is challenged to reexamine everything as a result...
The Truth About Happily Ever After is a thoughtful, engaging look at what it means to examine your inner values, after surprising life changes take place. Though Alyssa never expected to be dumped by her boyfriend, she also manages to handle it in relative stride, despite some initial setbacks. She doesn't try and change herself to get her boyfriend back, but instead, chooses to focus in believing in herself and reinforcing what makes her happy and strong.
Though a subplot involving a cute boy helping Alyssa make those changes feels a tiny bit generic at times, Cozzo does a great overall point of reinforcing the idea that it's friends and a strong support network that help us through tough times, even when we don't necessarily think we need or want their help. Cozzo also does a credible job in reinforcing the book's setting, by reinforcing some fairytale-esque reminders on the importance of not holding grudge, especially when things work out for the best.
(And if it comes along with that cute boy? So be it.) Highly recommend, full stop.
Alyssa was so excited to be returning to Enchanted Dominion to reprise her role as Cinderella. Not only would she be working in one of her favorite places, but she would be reunited with her long distance boyfriend, Jake. Now, she could get started on making her happily ever after a reality. But, her mirth quickly fades, as the cracks in her and Jake's relationship grow bigger and bigger, until it all crumbles. Down and Out, Alyssa must come to terms with what she thought was true and the reality of her situation, but maybe an HEA isn't totally out of reach for her.
I am going to start with the one thing that really bothered me, and it was Cozzo perpetuating outdated stereotypes of sorority women. My fraternity has been around for almost 150 years and boasts 151 active collegiate chapters and over 200 alumnae chapters. I would like to think that not every women is exactly like the other, and I can say my sisters did not fit any the stereotypes, that has been peddled via TV and movies for ages. So, yeah, it bothered me, but I fortunately was able to roll my eyes, move past it, and enjoy Alyssa's story.
Alyssa was a rather complex character. On the surface, she was all glitz and smiles, but there was a lot of substance underneath the shiny topcoat, and I enjoyed getting to know her better. She was genuinely a nice and good person, and I am glad Cozzo let that side of her shine.
I won't lie, Part I of the book was not my favorite, because it's where Alyssa's life was declining. It was sad for me to watch her put herself out there, time after time, while knowing in my heart, that Jake's interest had waned. I saw the complication coming from a mile a way, but what really solidified my distaste for this man was when he revealed the whole story. UGH! So wrong, yet so realistic. Maybe that's why it cut me so deeply.
But, alas, Part II was wonderful! It was a pleasure seeing Alyssa, free of her shackles, exploring new things. I especially loved her friendship with Miller, who was just an absolute sweet little cinnamon roll of a guy. He was all about lifting her up and restoring her faith and confidence in herself, and she really needed it.
Not only was Alyssa unceremoniously dumped, but she also had to deal with the day-to-day scrutinization of her physical appearance. Many jobs have tough requirements, when it comes to appearance, and I guess you can call it the dark side of theme park employment, but princesses were expected to look a certain way. Though Alyssa was cognizant of when she was going overboard with her dieting and exercise, it bordered on obsession. However, this was the price she was willing to pay to wear that ballgown.
Aside from my love for Alyssa and Miller, Alyssa had a fantastic trio of friends. The friendship this quartet shared was fierce, and I loved the way they worked to support one another. When we saw her theme park friendship directly contrast with her school friendship, it's easy to see how it was deeper and more real. That went along with Alyssa's personas. School Alyssa was more surface deep, but there were so many additional layers to park Alyssa, and it was fantastic peeling them back, one by one.
I also adored the setting. Enchanted Dominion was some sort of Disney hybrid, and Cozzo went the extra mile offering some really great detailed descriptions of the park and the various events held therein. I liked all the extras we got, and I could see some of those places so clearly.
Overall: I happily took this journey with Alyssa as she came back from a crushing disappointment to seek her new idea of happily ever after. Friendships, a sweet romance, and a magical setting made this an enjoyable read for me, and will keep me coming back for more of Cozzo's work.
Once again, Cozzo gives us a realistically romantic story of fairy tale proportions.
What Fed My Addiction:
Fairy tale setting. The book takes place at a Disneyesque theme park and it was really fun to read about the job and how the people who work there as characters feel about it all. I don't know if Cozzo has any sort of firsthand knowledge of working in this sort of environment, but I felt like her portrayal of it seemed very realistic: She gives us the good (fairy tales all the time! working with adorable kids!) and the bad (having to be "on" and cheerful no matter what, having to live up to certain body standards), and I really loved it all!
Realistic break-up. Just read the blurb and you'll realize that Alyssa has some rocky times ahead for her in this book. She's been holding on to her "fairy tale" relationship, even though things have been less than perfect. I loved that the depiction of Alyssa and Jake's relationship isn't terribly tumultuous---they aren't constantly fighting or purposely hurting each other. Things just aren't working between them for various reasons. And this sometimes happens in real life. (There are some negatives about the relationship for me as well---but you can read about those in the Take It or Leave It section below).
Alyssa is a beautiful sorority girl with heart. So often, we see the portrayal of the gorgeous sorority girl who's just plain mean-spirited or shallow. Alyssa embodies the sorority girl lifestyle---she cares about her looks and fashion, she's dedicated to her sisters, and she wants to fit in---but this book shows us that those things don't define Alyssa. They're aspects of her personality, sure, but she's not a cardboard cutout. And sometimes the people around her have trouble seeing that. Alyssa is genuinely nice and sweet---it's not an act she puts on. She strives to include people and make them feel welcomed. She doesn't mind following the rules because she sees the value in them. That doesn't make her a pushover or a doormat---it makes her a genuinely good person. It was kind of refreshing to see this sort of character!
The "real" romance. Once Alyssa finds her true match, she completely clicks with him and he's all sorts of adorable. I dare anyone not to fall in love with him! I was actually rooting for him right from the top of the book, and I think many other readers will be too.
All the feels. This book broke my heart in parts and sometimes it made me really mad, but it also made me laugh and swoon and generally overflow with happiness.
Take It Or Leave It:
Alyssa's body image obsession. Even though I generally love Alyssa, she's a realistic person and not completely perfect. One aspect of her personality that bothered me sometimes was her obsession with her body and working out. It's interesting because Alyssa sort of waffles on her feelings about needing the "perfect body." On the one hand, she seems a bit self-conscious and frustrated about the high expectations of the theme park and how they do inspections to make sure the girls live up to them. But then she's mostly okay with it because she understands why they have those expectations (and she makes some good points about how there are some professions that require a bit more attention to image than others). And there are times in the book where Alyssa seems to realize that she's going a little too far and she makes some adjustments. She also realizes that her body image (and her views on fashion) stem from a need for control in her life. I don't know, I guess I was a bit torn and conflicted about the body image issues in the book---but, in a way, I think that's okay because it's realistic. After all, it's a complicated subject with no cut and dry answers. That's pretty much how it's presented in the book.
The relationship downfall. While I appreciated that the book was realistic when it came to Alyssa's souring relationship with Jake, I kind of wish that the cheating aspect hadn't been thrown in. It seemed unnecessary since the real reason for the troubles between them seemed to be the simple fact that they didn't click perfectly and weren't really right for each other. On the other hand, I guess that could lead to falling for someone else, but ... I don't know, I guess I just wished Jake hadn't been turned into the "bad guy" so we had someone to blame. Still, it was sort of necessary for Alyssa to end up in the bad state that she eventually got to, so, again, I'm torn. (Oh, and I also thought Alyssa was being pretty selfish about Jake's opportunity, which would take him further away from her.)
What Left Me Hungry for More:
A bit predictable. I think I predicted pretty much everything that was going to happen in this book right at the beginning. That didn't stop me from enjoying it all as it was unfolding, though!
Okay, I hate it when I write a review for a book I loved and the conflicted part of the review takes up more space than the positives. It's just because the parts I'm conflicted about are harder to describe! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it was a perfect read for my mood---I sped through it in a day! So I highly recommend this one if you're looking for a bittersweet love story (that ends up being sweet!). I give this book an easy 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via The Fantastic Flying Book Club and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Alyssa, who plays Cinderella at Enchanted Dominion, met her Prince Charming Jake, when he put her retrieved flip flop back on her foot, and has been living the fairy tale life ever since. Or at least she was last summer. This summer, everything in her fairy tale is different.
Alyssa spent an entire year looking forwards to spending summer with her boyfriend, Jake, who also works at Enchanted Domain. But when he finally shows up, something feels off. They can't recover their perfect dynamic from last summer, and things are especially strange around the new girl who plays Belle. Her perfect fairy tale ideal starts to crumble, and she has to rely on her friends, including the adorable Miller, to get her through real life.
I'm almost positive that Enchanted Dominion is supposed to be Disney World (as someone who has spent extensive time researching how to be a princess there lol), and I loved how that played into the book. There was talk of face vs fur characters and their rivalries, working in the extensive heat outside, and secret tunnels through the park for the cast members, which I loved. It was fun to really get insight into the magic.
With that comes more pressing issues, such as ideals of beauty and skinniness. There was talk of eating disorders and girls relying all on standards of beauty, and I think this book did them justice, showing how the girls handled the pressure.
I really enjoyed Alyssa as a character. She seemed rather naive at times, and other times she seemed really superficial and interested only in outward appearance, but it was clear that in the end, in her heart, she was a wonderful, good person, who was only looking out for everyone's best interests. She's also extremely relatable; what girl hasn't wanted a fairy tale at one point in time? She also has to deal with people having much more money with her. And she has a wedding binder, which is viewed as embarrassing, but I'm sure I'm not the only girl who has spent hours looking at wedding dresses online with friends haha. Furthermore, she goes through remarkable change through the book, becoming so much stronger.
I really liked her squad of princesses too! One girl bothered me slightly because she seemed to hate playing princess, and at least in Disney, I know that thousands of girls who would die to play princess get turned away (but then again, this is Enchanted Domain, not Disney!). But I actually also really liked her because she was so grounded and focused inward intelligence and strength instead of just beauty. The rest of the girls were so silly and so much fun; yet at the end of the day so fiercely loyal.
There are two love interests, but this book is not really a love triangle. There's Jake, ex boyfriend aka Prince Charming, who turns out to be a complete jerk. And then there's Miller, the best friend who was so adorable and amazing and I loved him!
This book was pretty predictable. For the most part, I guessed everything that would happen. But there were a couple of things at the end that I really didn't expect; I guess the end is when it goes from cookie cutter fairy tale to real life! And even though it was predictable, I really enjoyed it :)
I do wish that the ending had been elaborated on a bit more. Alyssa is in a sorority, and there's a lot of comments made on that through the book. I thought it would play a role in the ending, but it really didn't, and I wish it had.
This book is categorized as YA, but it's really more NA (New Adult). Alyssa and her friends are in (or graduated) college, and are living on their own; there is no mention of parents or anything. The material is still completely appropriate for YA, and I didn't mind it being NA at all, but just don't expect to see anything about high school!
Alyssa at first comes off as a stereotypical sorority girl obsessed with getting her prince charming and happily ever after but we do see there is more to her. She so loves her job at the theme park where she dresses up as Cinderella. I thought her dedication to her job was adorable. She really wanted the kids and families to have an enchanted time and she did everything she could to do that. Her concern with her weight and appearance was a bit much but I was glad to see her take a more realistic approach as the book went on.
We do see Miller before Alyssa’s summer totally falls apart but we get much more of him after. Thank you Ms.Cozzo for Miller because he is a gem!! He was a fun, loving, happy guy who was such a good friend to Alyssa. He really helped her get back on her feet and help her see some things about herself she needed to. They were a lot of fun to read about when they were together. I kind of fell a little bit in love with Miller <3
I really liked Alyssa’s friends at the park and wish they were included even more! I am sucker for good female friendships and they seemed to really have that.
My only real complaint is that I think the first half could have been condensed a bit as it was obvious where it was headed and the later half, where she is picking herself up, figuring herself out and spending more time with Miller could have been expanded. I mean Miller was so great I would have loved more of him, more of them and to see more of her personal growth in detail.
Still, this had the Karole Cozzo mark of a cute, quick story with character growth and a lot of heart. I will always look forward to her books.
Princesses, happily ever afters, heartbreak, friendship, and more!
So, my plan yesterday was to stop reading at 63% and then go to bed. That 63% turned to 73%, and then eventually I just read all of the book. It was just that good and I just had to finish it.
I have to say at first I was worried about that last part of the blurb, but it turns out I didn't have to worry. It was just perfection.
Alyssa was my BFF in this one, she was just an incredible girl with big hopes and dreams. I loved her from the first page, and as she grew as the book progressed (because grow she does) I loved and respected this girl even more. Some may call her superficial, but I think she is dedicated and a wonderful girl. She really wants to be a Cinderella, she really wants this job, and she will do anything for it. Even if that means drinking coffee/wine through a straw (because white teeth!), or making/eating food that is light on calorie intake, or even working out when she doesn't feel up to it. I have to say I was worried about the food intake at times, it seemed so little, but thankfully this girl at times just lets the regime go and eats a bit more. She definitely found a good balance in her life. Yes, she is skinny, but (up until that part at least, and then it wasn't because of how she measured her calories) she isn't a skeleton. Her work won't allow for that. She still needs to be a healthy weight that fits with the Cinderella part.
She also isn't afraid to give her opinion (go girl!), she tries her best for Jake (even though I just wanted to through him in some kind of pond), and she is hard trying to find her way in life. She doesn't really have the easiest life now that her family is poor. I was pretty amazed to learn all the things she does for her sorority. However, I do wonder how long she is going to keep it up.
There was one moment that I wanted to shake her. During the costume fitting for the ball. I won't say much more, but I just wanted to shake her. Show her that she has a wonderful guy there, and that maybe you should try out something different for once.
Then there were many more other times that I just loved Alyssa. I will just keep it to what I said for now, otherwise the review will just get super long.
Yes, at first I was frowning at a workplace that would demand their girls to be a certain weight/structure, but then, when shit hit the fan, the person who checked the girls even expressed her worry and even said that Alyssa should eat something. :P That clearly shows that even though they have standards they still don't want their girls to be superskinny.
I just love books about theme parks, about people working there. Especially when you learn of the dedication, the work, everything that goes into that. And if this is coupled with some realistic moments then count me in even more.
Jake x Alyssa, well, as you can see in the blurb it won't end well. Then again, I was never shipping these 2. I despised Jake from the start. What a douchebag. You could just see that he was hiding something, that he wanted to tell Alyssa something, but he never did until everything exploded. Jake was a dick. Jake was terrible. Instead of being honest right from the start (last year) he didn't say anything, he just let it all grow and grow (at least for Alyssa). There were quite a few parts that just had me shaking my head. For instance when Alyssa comes back from 14 hours of sorority sisters and she was completely knackered. Instead of just grabbing a movie, or going to bed together, they had to watch that video about his soon-to-be-job. Then he gets pissed when his girlfriend falls asleep within seconds. What? You could have seen this coming boy. But oh, no, it is all about you. Or when Alyssa wants to look her best for her friend's WEDDING, and is looking for a dress for more than 30 minutes. Yes, she is doing that during a time that they are doing something, but as Alyssa also states, it is not like Jake never texts, or does something else during such time either. But oh no, of course Jake doesn't accept that and calls her superficial for looking at dresses that long. Whut?
I was definitely looking forward to the fireworks that would surely come. As not only there is the whole Jake-is-a-dick-stuff, but also the events happening between Harper and Jake. I just knew from the start what was going on, it is quite obvious. I believe everyone around Alyssa also saw it happening. Alyssa also saw it, and she was worried, but she just tried to keep on going. And I was hurting so much for her. :( Sure, her fairy tale ending hopes might have been a bit overkill, but still this is not something I would wish on anyone. So, yeah, I also hated Harper. :| What a snake. I can imagine you can't stop such feelings, but at least try to stay away, especially when you know that the boy you like has a girlfriend. :|
Miller? MILLLLLLEERR! Sorry, I just loved that guy soooooo much. He was just dreamy (though I have to say I didn't see him with a beard). From the start when we saw him and Alyssa I was shipping these two like crazy. They have such an amazing chemistry, and easiness that I didn't see with Jake and Alyssa. As the book passes his list of awesome traits just grew and grew, and my love for him also grew. He was just such a sweet guy. Yes, there was one time I wanted to shake him, but, yes a but, I could also understand him. I could understand the pain. I could understand that he would say that. I was rooting for him and his internship. It was definitely a fun surprise when we found out that was what he liked the most and that he was awesome at it.
Of course I won't say anything about if Miller and Alyssa end up. Hahaha, nope, you will have to read this sweet book!
Then there is a slew of side characters. From my favourite girls: Chrissi (she was so sweet, and I loved how she was the fairy godmother to Alyssa's Cinderella), Camilla (cold on the outside, but I could see quite a fun girl underneath that and as the story progressed.. well I just liked her more and more), Rose (so totally the polar opposite of her twin Camilla, she was so much fun), the sorority sisters. To my OMG can you just disappear already: Yael, and (duh) Harper. Yael especially was just a horrible character, I can't see why Miller is so close with her.
The park is described in such a way I could just imagine myself there. Either as a guest or as one of the characters. Then there are tons of events that happen and I was there. I was there when all the events unfolded.
Phew, I think I could go on and on about this book. Gushing about it for a long time, but I think I will tie off my review here. I would just like to say that I highly recommend this book to everyone! It is a fabulous book with some light-hearted stuff and some heavier stuff mixed to a perfect pink glittery mix.
As a theme park enthusiast and Disney World junkie (hooray, annual passes!), I had to get my hands on Karole Cozzo’s newest novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT HAPPILY EVER AFTER. The setting of her book is a theme park called Enchanted Dominion, and the main character is Alyssa, who plays Cinderella as a character actor in the park. I love how Karole spins the princesses she chooses to feature in the park, alluding to their original fairy tale origins. I mean, I geeked out when I saw that two of the characters play Rose Red and Snow White – one of my fav tales, and I love that the focus is on THAT Snow White, rather than the poison apple one ;)
I saw surprised to discover how much I liked Alyssa. The characters in this novel are older than Karole’s other two books, and Alyssa’s in college and a happy sorority girl. It’s not a path I personally chose during my college years, but I loved that Alyssa broke stereotypes by being a sweet, caring but fierce girl who goes her own way, even with the pressures of fitting in with her sisters and keeping up the expensive lifestyle. She’s truly inspiring. Her passion for Enchanted Dominion and being the best Cinderella she can be gave me all the feels, because I like to imagine that many of the actors I see in theme parks share that basic love of representing some pretty epic characters.
Again, Karole hits it out of the park with Miller. I think everyone’s met a guy like Miller at some point. He’s so realistic but swoonworthy (or is he swoothworthy because he seems so real? Haha) and the way he and Alyssa get along is just warm-warming to read about.
I will just say these last things: 1) Why isn’t this a series? I want to read about ALL THE CHARACTERS. 2) That moment in the book that reminds me of Grease is just… yeah. I was fangirling. 3) I want an annual pass to Enchanted Dominion. When can I go?
Pure fluff that involves a princess who simply wants her happy ever after... -------------------------- Synopsis from publisher:
Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.
A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in this contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa's perfect summer falls apart.
Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn't have to do it alone. With her friend Miller's support, she's determined to prove that she's more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she's finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she's ready for something real. -------------------------
I was a bit conflicted when it came to actually rating this book, cause I liked it, but then at the same time, I found aspects of it to be super annoying.
To begin with, Alyssa, the MC, is an theme park princess who is very dedicated to her job. I liked that her dedication wasn't superficial, but because she genuinely loves her job and takes pride in giving the park visitors a great experience: so, while I can't fault her in that, I will say that I found her expectations when it came to her prince charming to be pretty ridiculous.
Alyssa's boyfriend – her prince charming – A.K.A. Jake, pretty much bothered me from the moment he first walked up onto the page. Alyssa is so excited for his arrival after having parted ways the previous summer, but he proves to be indifferent towards her feelings, and there are just so many sketchy moments, that I'm surprised it takes so long for Alyssa to recognize them...but then again, she does believe it's love with this guy... Still, I just couldn't get over how she continued to push her suspicions away.
But fortunately, we have Miller.
Miller makes things right. His role in this book proves that sometimes your prince charming is the one you might least suspect. Cheesy, yes, but it's so true in this case. He's a real sweetie, and though his moments are few at first, his role does grow, as well as his friendship with Alyssa.
So, yeah, cute and cheesy.
The story progression was a bit slow at first, which had me bored for a good portion of it, and then the ending itself felt a bit rushed. Don't get me wrong - it's a good ending - but considering how slow the pacing was, I was surprised things accelerated so quickly towards the end.
Anyway, weird progression aside - as well as things annoying me in general - I liked this book well enough, and will recommend it if you're looking for a sweet and cheesy contemporary read.
Thank you to Swoon Reads via Netgalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Ever had one of those relationships where you think everything’s great, everything is right on track, you love them and they love you back? Sure, they might be a little distant at times, but in your head you’ve constructed a happily ever after. Then bam. Prince Charming breaks up with you and you realize that he was never in to you quite as much as you were in to him.
Such is life for preternaturally happy Alyssa, who’s working at her favorite theme park playing her favorite princess, Cinderella. Sure, she’s a little shallow and obsessed with her image, but she’s committed to playing the part to perfection and sharing her joy with little girls.
When Alyssa’s fairy tale life turns out to have a not-so-happy ending, she must pick up the pieces and face the truth about life: it’s complicated. It’s messy. And sometimes, it downright sucks. But in the end you’ve got to pull yourself together. For a girl with a fairy godmother, that shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Damn I enjoyed this book. It hit me right in the feels, over and over and over.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
perfect summer read for my many bus rides; now I desperately want to go to Disney again! I love the world of fairy tales, princesses, tiaras, and happily ever afters, all while dismissing stereotypes about what that has to look like. also HOLY WOW this is the prettiest book on earth. 4.5 stars! (and only because Alyssa and I are basically pole opposites so it took me a little while to warm up to her.)
I've loved all of my Swoon Sister Karole's books, but this one is definitely my new favorite. The Truth About Happily Ever After is everything I wanted it to be -- fantastic writing, layered characters who are so easy to root for, and super swoony romance. Protagonist Alyssa is relatably flawed and instantly likable, and I've got a new favorite Book Boy in Miller. This NA novel takes place at Enchanted Dominion, a stand-in for Disney World (my favorite!). Alyssa and her friends are character actors -- Alyssa plays Cinderella with passion and perfection, and expects life and love to be the fairytale she presents at work. Of course, it doesn't work out that way, and Alyssa is forced to come to terms with some pretty unexpected challenges. Her character arch is steep and satisfying, while still feeling magical and fun. Perfect for those wanting an authentic-feeling romance between college-aged characters, with a delightfully enchanting setting.
This book has been so damn good in all the possible ways. First I was a bit confused when I read "The End" at the start of Part 1 but later on, it made total sense. Alyssa is such a great character that grows throughout the story and surprises others and herself by such depth in her that she kept hidden to everyone around her. I enjoyed seeing her princess high as much as ripping it all apart to see her bare and sensitive self. She is strong and more than people might see in her. I especially loved her outbreak into such uncharacteristic for her stereotype and just prove them all wrong. Se is a kid of silent rebel but oh boy when she wants to be crazy and freak out she sure as hell can. Another great thing I loved her for is her unconditional love for others and giving anybody a chance who comes into her life. She's friendly and also sticks up for her friends and any person really needing a little help once they are close to their limits. She is such a sweetheart and I hated for all the hurt she had to suffer through but it also makes her break out of an illusion and let her juts grow more into her new being while also accepting her the way she is, to find her own Happily Ever After that fits her and doesn't make her get nervous about doing something wrong or acting the way she is. Alyssa found the one perfect guy for her, and I kind of hoped from the very first lines I've read about this special someone that they would end up together. It s such a perfect little tale that gives you the glamourous tale from the Princesse Dream front but also looks way behind the facade to really see the people behind it and slightly brings a little bit of magic into their real lives. :)
As I liked this story so much and also loved the extra chapter of Millers POV and wished for so many more intel on how the story will go. I mean I still have open questions, like will Alyssa open up to her sorority sisters and will they accept her the way she is and help her? What about the future of her friends from EE and will everything be okay with her new situation. And what about Miller? Will he make it in his dream career?? I definitely need another book and maybe just a whole next summer with my beloved characters. ;)
Definitely go and pick this book up if you are also a hopeless romantic just like me. This is also the second book I've read by the author and I very much enjoy her writing style and awesome ideas for her stories. For sure I will check out her other books!! ;)
Alyssa is a theme park princess who is on the path to her own happily ever after. A perfect boyfriend, a delightful job, and a group of wonderful friends. What could go wrong? Unfortunately everything that could go wrong does and she is faced with wondering if all the perfection and expectations are worth it. This book is a charming tale about the meaning of true love and friendship.
What I liked:
I have always wondered what it would be like to work as a Disney Princess at one of the theme parks. Cozzo paints a pretty elaborate picture of what the actors go through to stay in shape and keep the perfect image. It makes me wonder if this is what the face characters really go through at Disney. I also liked how she tied it into Disney without using the theme park name. She did it in a clever way that was not too over the top.
I really liked Alyssa which kinda surprised me. At first she seemed like the ultimate airhead who was only concerned about looks and having the perfect relationship. It was nice to she her grow and change through out the book. Once the glitz and glamour fell away her character became much more realistic and intriguing. I found myself rooting for her in the end!! Her theme park friends were the ultimate squad of supportive and silly.
Things I had a bit of an issue with:
The focus on her weight at times felt a little wrong. To me she really had the signs of an eating disorder and was in a deep state of denial. I got that the park wanted a certain image, but that ideal is so damaging to young women. While I felt like the author kinda addressed this and Alyssa somewhat realized that she shouldn't starve herself to be perfect, I still feel like a lot more could have been added to the story. As a librarian who works with teen girls this book had the perfect outlet to show that starving yourself is not the way. She needed to realize that the parks expectations were very unhealthy and were portraying an image to their guests that most normal women could never achieve. I ended up being pretty disgusted with the standards that the face characters had to meet to portray perfection. Bleh... While it could have been addressed a bit better, the fact that the author took the time to even acknowledge the problem by using Miller to bring it up to Alyssa and help her get healthy was a step in the right direction. It showed that if you think that someone might be struggling you should step up and say something!
This is a fun read and I really liked it. Disney fans and readers who love dreaming about a realistic happily ever after will likely enjoy this book. I do feel that upper YA readers and New Adults will identify more with the characters than younger YA. However, it's still a fun read for those that love a good romance!
I like to read books that are set in amusement parks. This was an enjoyable one that was fun and cute. Alyssa works as Cinderella at her favorite theme park every summer and she is excited to be back there again and that her boyfriend Jake will be in town for the summer as well. As the summer progresses Alyssa and Jakes relationship becomes more distanced until things come to an abrupt end. The summer is not turning out the way Alyssa expected.
I liked Alyssa, she was a nice person who was friendly with everyone and she seemed to make friends pretty easily. I enjoyed her friendships with fellow co-workers especially with Miller. He was so sweet and funny. I loved how he was there for Alyssa and helped her get out of her comfort zone and try new things. Miller was a good friend and I was rooting for him from the beginning.
This was my first book by Cozzo that I've read and I'm glad that I picked this up. I had fun reading this and look forward to reading more of her books.
Shallow, basic, white girl problems completely out of touch with the reality of real issues teens are facing today...... but it is what it is? If that's what you're looking for?
When I was a preteen I really took to the Sweet Valley High series, though Elizabeth and Jessica set completely unobtainable goals and body standards, making me feel shitty about myself afterwards. However, I still read them. Same with the film Clueless, which was also pivotal to my youth, yet high fructose pap lacking depth and setting unhealthy and unrealistic standards for young women.
Much like a diet of high fructose corn syrup, though enjoyable in the moment, you will crash and be harmed by it's negative impact in the long run by not having a realistic understanding of relationships, and simultaneously reinforcing tired, impractical gender norms.