3 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Conceal, Don’t Feel: I should have let this one go

43885693

Conceal, Don’t Feel

Disney Twisted Tales #7

author : jen calonita

pages : [hardcover] 312

favorite character : elsa

summary :

What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?
When a magical accident erases Anna and Elsa’s memories not only of magic, but of each other the sisters are separated for protection. But when Elsa unexpectedly finds herself as a young queen mysterious magic begins to happen and questions of her past start to form. Will the sisters ever be reunited?

review :

Do you want to build a–

Alright, alright, I’ll try to contain myself and not just turn this review into a gigantic sing-a-long. I’m sure we are all familiar with Disney’s Frozen. I’ll just have to let it go.

Disney has this interesting series of Disney Twisted Tales which I don’t think enough people are speaking about. They’re basically written retellings of Disney movies in what-if scenarios. In Conceal, Don’t Feel the what-if is obvious from the very beginning: What if Elsa and Anna grew up separately? What if they didn’t know they were sisters?

Because one of the most important themes in Frozen revolves around familial love and mending a sisterly relationship, I was incredibly curious to see how this new situation would be handled. The book has all the same components that appear in the movie, but they fall into place in different ways. Anna grows up on the outskirts of Arendelle where she encounters a certain ice harvester. Elsa grows up alone and afraid of her growing powers in the palace, meeting a certain ambitious prince with plans of his own. There’s magic at play, lives are at stake, and the kingdom is on the verge of collapse.

I really liked how magic was much more prominent in this novel than it is in the movie (the first one, we know the entire sequel remedies a lot of this). Although the whole troll magic system still isn’t really explained, it plays a huge role in Conceal, Don’t Feel. Honestly, I don’t really like the trolls, but I loved how this book gave them a more pressing need for existing within the context of the story.

That being said, I didn’t really enjoy this journey. Because magic existed at the forefront of this retelling, sometimes the plot suffered from that. There were so many events that happened only because one main character or another had a feeling they needed to be somewhere–basically the magic was leading all of them around. I wanted the characters to have more agency! Where is feisty, funny Anna? Where is regal, commanding Elsa? They seemed to pale in comparison to the forces moving them around, which was a real disappointment.

The writing fell flat for me as well. This book is on the bridge between middle grade and YA and it definitely felt like the writing style suffered from trying to appeal to both audiences. Dialogue was stiff. Scenes dragged. And this is a fairly short book. I really wanted to like it, because I had a lot of fun reading another one of the Disney Twisted Tales, the one based on Aladdin. This just didn’t do it for me.

If you’re looking for a quick Disney read, filled with references to one of the most beloved contemporary Disney movies, go for Conceal, Don’t Feel. Just don’t let those expectations get too high.

3/5 stars

 

5 stars · children's books · fairy tale · graphic novel

Rapunzel Comics Collection: BEST. COMICS. EVER!

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Disney Princess Comics Collection: Rapunzel

published by The Walt Disney Company

other Disney princess comics:

belle jasmine ariel 

favorite character : eugene fitzherbert

summary :

Take adventure to new lengths with Rapunzel, Pascal, and all of your favorite Disney Tangled characters. How does Rapunzel manage to dry seventy feet of hair? What happens when she has a staring contest with Pascal? Find out the answers to these hair-larious questions and more in this colorful comics collection sure to delight Disney fans of all ages.

review :

I think it would be nearly impossible for me to dislike a book featuring my favorite Disney movie.

This collection of comics featuring Rapunzel, Pascal, Max, and Eugene, takes place before, during, and after the events of the movie. A lot of the jokes are very punny, which of course I love because I have a very refined sense of humor. Many of them are tied into key moments of the film. Obviously you’ll enjoy this more if you’re familiar with Tangled, but I think even if you don’t remember all of the pieces of the plot you’d still like these cute comics.

One of my favorite things is getting to see how Rapunzel more practically deals with all of that hair, as well as what she does to use up all of that extra time she has while trapped in her tower.

And I have to mention Eugene–aka Flynn Rider. He’s my absolute favorite. His feature in the comics shows off his sense of humor while also poking fun at his enormous ego. It might be cheesy, but I also love how it shows how much he loves Rapunzel. What he’ll do to ensure that she’s happy, to make her smile–it’s just the kind of adorable happily ever after you look for in Disney things.

The artwork is adorable. As always, the style is perfect for something Disney is putting out, and it leaves me wanting more. Every princess needs her own comics collection. I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next!

How I feel about this book:

giphy

clearly I’m Rapunzel and the book is Pascal

5/5 stars

 

children's books · fairy tale · graphic novel

Jasmine Comics Collection: explore a whole new world with this Disney Princess

41825206

Disney Princess Comics: Jasmine

pages : 89

summary :

Like a shooting star . . .

Explore a whole new world with Princess Jasmine, Rajah, Aladdin, and all of your favorite characters from Disney Aladdin. What does Jasmine find when she explores a mysterious cave with Iago? What happens when Jasmine goes on a shopping spree with Genie? These adventures and more await in this collection of colorful comics and are sure to delight Disney fans of all ages.

review :

These comics are adorable and fun–perfect for every Disney fan!

I think we all know how bold and outgoing Jasmine is in her role in Disney’s Aladdin. In these short comic strips, we get to see more of her palace life, after the movie. She’s incredibly witty, sassy, and speaks her mind. I loved getting some insight into the dynamic that happens after Aladdin begins to stay at the palace. But some of my favorite moments came between Jasmine and Rajah–her pet tiger is really just a giant kitty, who gets very jealous when anyone else tries to take the attention away from him!

These comics can be enjoyed by any Disney fan, young and old. They’re simple enough to be read and beloved by kids, and still have the quick wit and humor that adults will appreciate. The art is incredibly cute; all of the characters are stylized and bubbly. I loved seeing their different iterations in this book.

Jasmine truly has the chance to shine as the main character here. We get to see the world through her eyes, now–not Aladdin’s. This is an exciting shift for fans of the princess. I highly recommend picking this up!

5/5 stars

 

 

discussion · Fantasy · fiction

Feminism and Pirates: How Dead Men Tell No Tales leaves no room for women

r_piratesofthecaribbeandeadmentellnotales_header_postst_a2b0f97a
(image source)

Let me start by stating that I am not a casual Pirates of the Caribbean fan. I’ve loved the movies from the start and, yes, I even loved the fourth movie no one else ever seems to like.

Please don’t read that and immediately question my taste.

I’ve been waiting years for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Not this film, specifically, but any pirates film in which all three of the main cast members would return and fulfill all of my expectations–

Well. At least one expectation was fulfilled, and–can anything be considered a spoiler so many months after the film’s release?–that scene at the end with those two characters reuniting sort of made me feel like it made my spent money worthwhile, when I saw this in theaters.

As it was recently added to Netflix, I decided it was about time for round two.

So. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is what happens in the film industry when people know they could cobble together literally anything and other people will flood the theaters with their dollar bills. (Like Star Wars, and that last horrible Indiana Jones movie, but . . . those are beside the point.) Who needs a script that makes sense in the greater context of the film arc and general setting of the story, when you can settle for cheap laughs, Johnny Depp’s antics, and the general bad-assery of a pirate story?

DMTNT (this title is too long) follows Henry Turner (the new Will Tuner), Carina Smyth (the new Elizabeth Swann), and Jack Sparrow (the less quirky, more drunk and sad version) on a quest for the Trident of Poseidon. Basically, it’s meant to break every curse of the sea. There’s a ship of ghosts sailing after Jack Sparrow and it’s never really clear how they became cursed ghosts. There’s some witch involved for all of two scenes and they can’t even give her the benefit of fleshing her into an actual character rather than a plot device. Barbossa shows up and somehow they managed to even mess up his character.

DMTNT doesn’t really add to the mythology of the greater world of Pirates, because it’s only attempting to break down those barriers–one can only assume, so they can be rebuilt in some future planned film.

It really doesn’t do anything for the women, either.

Carina Smyth is arguably the only woman in the film. (I refuse to count the deus ex machina witch and the cameo by you know who). This kind of places a lot of pressure on her, as somehow seemingly the Pirates world can fathom ghosts, curses, krackens, tridents, and Davy Jones, but not the introduction of more women to the film. Because that would be historically inaccurate, I’m assuming they’d defend themselves by saying.

So, as a lady who really likes the Pirates franchise, it was very exciting to see the singular woman . . . pretty much play out the same role Elizabeth Swann did four films ago. Every joke and plotline seems to revolve around sexism. About how they might see her ankles beneath the dresses she needs to wear because of sexism. About how everyone believes she’s a witch because of sexism. How she’s bad luck on a ship. How she’s questioned about everything because she’s a woman, but isn’t it so great that she’s right, and smarter than all of these other men? And that makes up for her being the only woman, surely, because it isn’t so terrible if she’s the one who comes up with the plan. Which can only be executed by–you guessed it!–men.

I mean, Elizabeth ended up as pirate lord and pirate king two films previous. You’d think some of that would have rubbed off and we wouldn’t be headed backward.

Ah, but I’ve remembered two entire other women in the film! One who had no lines at all, who was presumed to have been sleeping with Jack Sparrow, and another who seemed to have been made revolting in every way possible to make it hilarious that she might be marrying Jack Sparrow . . .

Hang on a minute. And Carina Smyth . . . so much of her character arc not only focused on the sexism, but the search for her father/the final revelation of her father’s identity. So it’s almost like . . .

Almost like these women only existed to further the stories of the men surrounding them, allow for more cheap laughs, and solidify the heterosexual love interest that throws in the necessary undertones of romance.

Seems like the makings for a great, epic adventure, doesn’t it?

I’m disappointed in Pirates. I’m angry, because I had so many expectations.

Well, maybe now that I have none, I might enjoy the next movie that will inevitably be released.

5 stars · children's books

Disney Princess Storybook Collection is cute for any Disney lover!

24397047

Disney Princess Storybook Collection

variety of authors for the short stories

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite story : one about flynn rider and rapunzel getting cupcakes together and it’s adorable

summary :

Get ready for an enchanting collection of stories, starring all the Disney Princesses! Solve a mystery with Rapunzel and the gang from the Snuggly Duckling. Gallop along with Merida after she meets a mysterious horse. Travel to Paris with Tiana as she competes in a global baking contest. Filled with wonder, excitement, and discovery, each princess’s tale is a royal delight!

review :

If you love Disney Princesses, you’ll definitely like this collection. Each of the 11 official Disney princesses are given a short story and some (like Tiana and Ariel) are given up to three each. There’s certainly something in here for everyone. I was initially drawn to it because of the two immensely cute Tangled stories in here, one about Rapunzel freeing Flynn from being framed for a crime and another about what Rapunzel and Flynn do when they reach Corona before they see the floating lanterns.

There are so many good messages contained in these stories that are the exact right size to read to a child before bed each night. There are stories about love, stories about adventure, stories about being true to yourself. They teach children about how to make their dreams reality or how to fix things when you and someone you love are angry with each other. There are great new side characters introduced in these little stories, brave men and women who are inventors, explorers, and–most of all–dreamers. I just loved it so much!

The writing is extremely simple, which makes for good read-alouds as well as a great collection for young readers. The text is pretty large and easy to read, though I love that Disney didn’t lessen the vocabulary and there were some great words in here that I think would be an awesome learning opportunity.

I’d recommend this to anyone, with kids or not!

5/5 stars

 

life posts · meme

Ten facts about me you never knew you wanted to know

toptentuesday

1. I did the Disney College Program, Spring 2015, and I’m going back for another DCP this fall.

2. I’m actually starting a vlog channel for my Disney adventures (and probably for bookish videos too).

3. I have another blog devoted to the DCP. (don’t worry, not all of my facts are Disney related!)

4. I won NaNoWriMo in 2014 and actually have the manuscript up on SwoonReads now.

5. I’m in the middle of completing the first book in a trilogy that’s an intense retelling of Rapunzel. Witches and humans are at war. Rapunzel’s an assassin. It’s amazing. (And if you’re interested in being critique partners, let me know!)

6. I just graduated from college in May with a bachelor’s in English.

7. I love to play tennis and was captain of my high school’s varsity tennis team.

8. My favorite book of all time is Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I’m SO EXCITED for Laini Taylor’s new book this fall.

9. My favorite movie superhero is Captain America but in comics I love the new Ms. Marvel.

10. Last but not least . . grilled cheese is my ultimate weakness.

 

5 stars · books to movies · Uncategorized

Film Fridays: The Good Dinosaur

the-good-dinosaur-story

You may or may not know, but I’m kind of obsessed with everything Disney. I did the college program at Disney World last semester, so I’ve had Disney on my mind, and when The Good Dinosaur was released from Disney/Pixar I knew that I needed to go and see it. I also paid a few extra dollars to see it in 3D–I haven’t done that for a movie in a long time!

 The movie starts off very cute. We have a little dinosaur family, who’s kind of advanced from what we think dinosaurs should be like because the meteor that struck the earth and eradicated the dinos never came. Arlo is the youngest son in the family and doesn’t feel like he fits in; he’s always too scared to do everything and can’t accomplish any of the jobs his father gives him. Including the last job he’s given, to kill the critter who keeps eating their stores for the winter, before tragedy strikes and nothing is ever the same for Arlo again.

the-good-dinosaur

After that point in the movie, there are so many things that go wrong for Arlo. He’s separated from his family and has to team up with that critter he was supposed to get rid of. Honestly, watching this, I feel like some kids might be scared of what happens in this movie because there are so many bad turns for Arlo. Practically anything he did, you could expect it to go wrong–and usually not in a lighthearted way. Actually, there were less funny moments in the movie than I’d expected. The adventure was more serious and a little darker. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

The animation throughout was gorgeous. GORGEOUS. If you can see it in 3D, do it. You won’t regret spending a little extra. The scenery in the movie is so spectacular and so well-crafted that it often looks like Arlo is the only unreal thing in the entire landscape. And the water! There were so many scenes involving water and it might be a world thing to go on about but it’s such a hard thing to animate and it looked real.

The movie talks a lot about the importance of family, finding your place in the world, and understanding others who are different from you. It teaches that you can love someone who came from a completely different place and who can’t speak with you. It also shows that our expectations of people won’t always be the reality. There are some dinos you’d expect to be bad who’re the kindest people around . . . and some who could be good, but choose to be bad. And that’s a lot to take out of an animated movie about dinosaurs.

I think that kids will enjoy this movie, despite its darker parts, and will definitely take its messages home with them. Any audience will root for Arlo on his way home, and fall in love with that vicious critter, waiting for that happy Disney ending.

Uncategorized

The Disney Princess Book Tag

???!!!!!???? A book tag? Featuring two of my very favorite things? Books and Disney? Well, three, if you count princesses as a separate entity. Three favorite things!

No, I wasn’t tagged, but I just saw that Farzy over at Books Keep Me Sane did the tag and I just couldn’t resist trying it out myself because it seemed like too much fun!

snow white : name your favorite classic

Does this count as a classic? Maybe a modern one, and I had to read it in school so I’m counting it. I love books based during the WWII era and this one has it all: romance, intrigue, family drama, war, friendship. And an ending that I never saw coming that absolutely broke my heart. The movie is great as well!

cinderella : name a book that kept you reading past your bedtime

When I first got this book I hadn’t heard anything about it. I’m not even sure that anyone I knew had read it. Of course, now it’s a staple in anyone’s YA collection. I read this in two or three sittings and remember the last one the most because I had hundreds of pages left but just HAD to know what happened so I sat up until the end, waiting for that great conclusion.

aurora : name your favorite classic romance

This is another book that I needed to read for class that I ended up really liking. We had to pick out a novel for our end of the year research paper and I selected this. Expecting it to be dry and boring, I was really surprised by how much I liked the subtle wit and Jane Austen’s style of writing. While I’m no fanatic about Mr. Darcy, I would recommend this book to anyone.

ariel : name a book that’s about sacrifices and fighting for your dreams

The Darkest Minds is all about sacrifice. Ruby accidentally sacrifices her family when she first discovers her abilities, yes, but THIS ENDING THOUGH. If that isn’t sacrifice, I don’t know what is. All in the name of making the world a better place for all of the surviving young adults.

belle : name a book with a smart, independent female character

shadow and bone

jasmine : name a book whose character challenges the social conventions of their world

This is another one of my favorite book trilogies ever. They’re written so wonderfully, I can’t fangirl about them enough! Todd is the main character here and it would take pages to talk about all of the change he’s making in his world, literally flipping it all upside-down and for the better. I don’t want to spoil anything because these books are a roller coaster of twists but they’re fabulous.

pocahontas : name a book whose ending was a roller coaster of emotions

This ending was completely unexpected to me. Beautiful, and heartbreaking, and happy, and everything I wanted but not quite the best . . So, of course, it was perfect.

mulan : name a book featuring war or battles

The Thief series become surprisingly more political books as they progress and are some of my favorite novels of all time. They’re beautifully written and feature their own mythology that’s loosely influenced by Greek myth. Two countries, Attolia and Sounis, are at war, with Eddis in the middle dragged into the conflict, and another threat looming on the horizon. There are great amounts of action and battles in these books but also scenes purely showing the political motives behind it all, with such unique and awesome characters.

tiana : name a book featuring a hardworking, self-made character

In a world where water is so scarce that people easily kill for it, Lynn and her mother have a pond to defend. Growing up, this is the only place and time that Lynn knows. She doesn’t remember how life used to be; she was too young then. She and her mother need to fight for what little they have, work for what they need, and that’s why I chose both of them for this. They made themselves into survivors.

rapunzel : name a book featuring an artist

Honestly, this book could fit into so many of these categories and I knew it had to go somewhere because it’s currently my favorite book, ever. What better place to use it than with my favorite princess? If anyone else is obsessed with Tangled (or Karou) let’s discuss!

Karou is a wonderful artist. Before her life gets kind of complicated, she’s going to a school for artists and has been honing her craft. I love how she shows both sets of her friends each world through her drawings. And it’s also kind of bittersweet, seeing how her artistry transforms and affects her life throughout the book.

merida : name a book with a mother-daughter relationship

Susannah Simon. One of the most badass ladies I read about in middle school, found out there were more books featuring in high school, and continue to admire as a role model (and be jealous of for her perfect love interest) in college. Meg Cabot has written some fantastic books but these will always be the best. Suze’s mom doesn’t play a major role in the books, apart from causing the two of them to move and kind of starting this whole thing rolling. But she’s always there for her daughter, even when she doesn’t quite know what’s going on with her. She wants her daughter safe and happy. What better relationship could you ask for?

~ ~

And that’s it! If you want to be tagged, consider yourself tagged! I’m also going to tag RaeAnne and Evie!

books to movies

Fairy Tale to Film: Cinderella

I have to admit that when I first heard about a live-action version of Cinderella being produced, I wasn’t too excited, except for the fact that practically anything Disney will be great. Not as excited as I was when I heard they’re making a live-action Mulan. I was honestly going to wait until the DVD release to finally watch this. But hearing everyone raving over the film (coupled with my chance to watch a Disney movie in Downtown Disney!) convinced me to buy a theater ticket.

Even though it isn’t my favorite Disney film (animation or live action, as Tangled will always have my heart) it was still completely magical to watch. And I’ve already bought some of the soundtrack for myself.

While I heard this version made people cry, I only teared up a few times. Once of sadness, once when Ella looked incredibly happy and the cinematography was so great that I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion.

Everyone knows the Cinderella story so it isn’t like it can be spoiled and most would assume that the live action film covers the ground laid out by the animation. There you’d be wrong. As I’d hoped, Cinderella combines more, previously unused elements of the original fairy tale as well as cherished portions of the animation. Definitely worth a watch, if you’ve been afraid they only copied themselves. Disney never does the same thing twice–they redo it bigger and better than before.

This movie is just beautiful. I could rewatch it just to get a chance to appreciate more of the details in the scenes. I also need to look out for hidden Mickeys and Easter Eggs!

Of course, I loved Helena Bonham Carter’s scene-stealing moments and wish that she’d been in the movie a little more. Cinderella herself wasn’t exactly as I’d pictured her to be, but that’s what comes of turning an animated princess into a real-life lady. Still, she was fantastic at presenting the kind of silent strength Cinderella has to have.

Overall, I really loved this adaptation when I hadn’t expected to like it very much. I’ll recommend this to other people and I’d even say give it a chance in theaters. It’s worth the ticket!

What’s your favorite Disney movie? What do you think of this adaptation?

4 stars · nonfiction

The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tartar

The Classic Fairy Tales

editor : maria tartar

pages : 416

summary :

Gathering together 44 tales from around the world, from the 5th century on, this critical edition examines the genre, its cultural implications and its critical history. She has focused on six different tale types, and includes multicultural variants and literary rescriptings.

review :

Yes, I needed to read this one for school, but it was so interesting that I thought I’d tell you all a little about my thoughts on it. The Classic Fairy Tales is about as bland of a title as you can get when it comes to this collection. Edited and selected by Maria Tartar, most of the book contains fairy tales while about a fourth of it is articles and criticism concerning fairy tales both modern and ancient.

The fairy tales are all separated into different sections in the book so that the reader can compare several versions of one story–for instance, five different ways of telling Little Red Riding Hood–all at once. There may be what is considered the ‘original’ tale, the first written down, and then several others recorded from oral tradition, as well as modern takes on the old story. I liked comparing how the traditional stories we all know and love differ from more violent, older stories. They’re completely different from modern interpretations as well, which tend to be more feminist, less concerned with eradicating eroticism, and sometimes seem to turn the fairy tale completely upside-down for the fun of it.

While the criticism tends to get a little dull–and may begin to blame Disney for overtaking the fairy tale market–the collection does make some interesting points that I think any fan of traditional (or modern!) tales will enjoy. I know that I’m not the only one out there who’s a sucker for any great fairy tale retelling to hit the market these days and this book explains some of the fascination humanity seems to have lingering over the idea of these tales Pick this up and read it for yourself, then discuss with me because I want to hear what you think of the different versions of stories, which may be the true original, and which may be your favorite!

4/5 stars