Sunday Book Club! The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “The Reflections of Queen Snow White” by David Meredith. The exciting announcement I mentioned last Sunday is that I was asked by the author to read & review this book! Yay – my first Sunday Book Club Collaboration! Disclaimer: I did receive this book for free, but that in no way influences my Review.

Initial Thoughts:
When David first emailed me & offered me the chance to review his book, I was surprised, extremely flattered, & excited. I love this Genre of Fairy Tale retellings or examination from a modern authors point of view, as you’ve probably noticed with my past Book Reviews such as Beastly, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, The Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, & others coming up on my Books to Read List. I’ve never read an E-Book, which is the only way this novel is currently available, so I was a little nervous about how I’d feel using “new technology”, haha! I was also nervous because of the collaborative spirit of this Sunday Book Club. It’s tough to be fair when you know the author will most likely read your Review, but I believe I was unbiased. Keep reading & let me know in the Comments if you feel I was being too easy, fair, or too harsh!

Plot:
As the title implies, this story is of course, about Snow White. Meredith continues forward from the tale we know & starts his story with an older Snow White who is not the cheerful, upbeat Disney princess many know & love. She is now bitter, sad, & lonely because Prince Charming has passed away. Snow’s depression & grief have caused a rift in her relationship with her daughter Raven to the point that she is not even involved in the planning of her upcoming wedding. One day while wandering the castle in a state of despondency, Snow stumbles upon the Evil Queen’s old chambers. She finds the Magic Mirror has been stored there & embarks on a magical journey into her past to try & find some peace in this new chapter of her life. I will leave it at that to prevent any Spoilers.

Characters:
– Erfruet – It took way too long for me to piece together that Snow’s “right hand man” is one of THE dwarves. You know….one of the seven! I thought this character was used as a clever & cute way to pay homage to the original story & show how the Dwarves’ relationship with Snow continued after her marriage, connecting the old & new story.
– It seemed like all of the characters had some type of accent & foreign name, except Snow White & Prince Charming. I thought perhaps this was an homage to the Grimm Brother’s & their German heritage, but the accents didn’t seem German so I’m not certain.

Quotes:
– Acknowledgements: “To anyone who has ever known loss, wrestled with grief, & struggled to find themselves again”
This is really what the story is about & I admire Meredith for taking on such a difficult topic & trying to make it more relatable by involving a beloved Fairy Tale character. It’s an interesting topic for this Genre, one that’s not too often explored because most readers don’t want to think about the reality that comes after “happily ever after”. I will touch more on this idea below in the “Overall” section.
– Magic Mirror: “What happens, happens. The past is the past and your past is ever a part of you! Only by facing it can you truly leave it behind. Otherwise, it will ever intrude upon your present”…She felt as if she stood alone on the edge of a precipitous gorge, filled with despair at the impossibility of her predicament, but knowing that her only choice was to descend into its shadowy depths, cross the unseen rocky path at its bottom, and pull herself out once more on the other side.”
The beginning of this passage is really so true, not just about grief, but anything that plagues us from the past. The second half of the Quote seemed like a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, metaphor for the process of grieving.

Overall:
I could definitely see this becoming a film. While I enjoy Fantasy stories, I sometimes take issue with how unnecessarily lengthy they can be. I know I’ve complained on here a few times about endless pages of scenery. I enjoyed Meredith’s extremely descriptive but mostly concise style of writing. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are scenes of abuse & sexual content that made me rather uncomfortable. Meredith has a knack for creating an intriguing story & providing resolution. There were several times I found myself wondering about a “plot hole”, but later receiving a full explanation. Overall I enjoyed the theme of the story & the unique idea of this stereotypical happy go lucky Princess dealing with grief. I think Meredith was trying to touch on an important point about loss & love. He presents the reader with the idea that throughout our lives we have way more than one chapter, way more than one “happily ever after”. Just because one type of love has left our lives doesn’t mean all love is gone & there’s nothing to live for, it just means our idea of happily ever after has to change. SPOILER! I also appreciated the Feminist angle of the story. The Magic Mirror is trying to make Snow see that although Charming helped her, she played a huge role in her own destiny. She saved herself, but gave the Prince all the credit & after his passing, felt she was lost without him because she did not see her own value.

Rating: B-
Unfortunately, my rating was influenced a bit by the production value. Any book I catch typos in automatically gets knocked down a peg. While I did enjoy the overall theme & message of the book & find them to be important topics to tackle, I can’t support the sex scenes & some of the discussions the characters have about sex/body fluids. I can very well see the interactions taking place, especially in that time period, but that doesn’t mean I want to read about them. That’s the beauty of reading, I’m supposed to be able to use my imagination, haha! Some of those scenes were too descriptive for me & I would imagine other readers may feel the same. While those scenes were not too frequent, they did weigh heavily enough on me that it was almost a distraction from the book as a whole. I would say it’s 50/50 – Great topic/message but some really uncomfortable character interaction!

What do you think? Will you be heading to Amazon to download your own copy of “Reflections”? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below! Big thank you to David Meredith for asking me to do this Review – I congratulate you on all of your well deserved success.
If you’re an author or PR team looking for Reviews, please reach out to me – MissAl.Leigh@gmail.com

The next Sunday Book Club is July 10th & the book is “The Fates Will Find Their Way” by Hannah Pittard. Stay tuned & thanks for reading!

Try This! Winter Haul

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is the start of another Series for MissAl-Leigh.com – Try This!
Try This! will be posted on Thursdays, as often as I can get them out.
TT will basically be Hauls with products I think are worth mentioning, first impressions of Samples, full product reviews, or even an exciting activity I think you should try.

This first video is a Winter Haul covering some products I’ve purchased or been gifted over the Winter season. This doesn’t cover everything as I cut out quite a few products in order to shorten the length. Let me know in the comments, how long do you prefer vlogs to be? Are you willing to watch a 10+ minute video, or is 10 minutes, or less all you have time for?

Please let me know your thoughts on the Try This! Series & this Haul especially. I thought of this like an overview of my “Winter Purchases”, so I wanted to wait until Winter was officially over, but would it have made more sense to do this video earlier? Please discuss in the comments below. I hope you enjoy the video, thanks for watching, & please remember to SHARE, LIKE, COMMENT, & SUBSCRIBE!

 

My Favorite Disney Treats!

 

Hi everyone!
As many of you know, I was a Cast Member at the Disneyland Resort for about 3 years. During that time I grew quite fond of certain foods served around the Resort. Now that I’m no longer a CM, I obviously don’t have access to those foods whenever I want – so when I’m able to make a trip to the park I make a big MUST EAT List! Read below to see what items are on my list & what new snacks I tried on my most recent Disneyland trip!

My Must Have Snacks
Disneyland
1. Clam Chowder Bread Bowl from Royal Veranda in New Orleans Square – Yes, the Bread Bowls from Boudin Bakery on the Pier in Disney California Adventure are fresher. However, I enjoy the atmosphere in NOS way more!
2. Jalapeño Pretzel with Spicy Banyan Sauce from Bengal BBQ in Adventureland – I used to work at this location & this was one of my favorite snacks to eat for lunch!
3. Caramel Apple from Main Street – Caramel Apples are available in many locations in many fancy flavors. I like the plan ol’ regular Caramel Apple & I usually get one on Main Street as I’m leaving the park for the day.
4. Funnel Cake from Stage Door Cafe in Frontierland – Another location I used to work & the only location you can get a Funnel Cake! They come in a few flavors, chocolate brownie, powdered sugar, strawberry, & this holiday season – peppermint. I prefer the Strawberry with whipped cream & I always eat it while watching Fantasmic. Sadly, this tradition has ended now that they’re closing Fantasmic due to the construction of the new Star Wars Land. If you plan on squeezing in a Disneyland trip before the construction begins make sure you get in line for your Funnel EARLY. Many Guests share this tradition with me & the line can be extremely long, sometimes resulting in a 15-20 minute wait for a Funnel Cake. Although waiting is the name of the game at Disneyland, if you’re not a fan of that, you can always go after Fantasmic. SDC is one of the few locations that stays open after Fantasmic, so you can still get your sugar fix without the long wait.

Disney California Adventure
1. Chili Cone Carne/Dipped Ice Cream Cone from the Cozy Cone area of Carsland – Not something I MUST eat, but if I’m going to eat in DCA, these are my preferred food choices.
2. 21+ Drinks at Mad T Party – The drinks at Mad T are a tad expensive for my taste at $11 & up, but I always have to make a visit to this area & what Party is complete without at least one drink!? My last visit I had “The Queen’s Red Rose” – Rum and Hawaiian Punch, & my mom had the Mudslide. It might have had a Disney name, but I can’t recall. Both were excellent but for $11+ next time I’d go with the Mudslide because $11 for some Rum & Punch is a little wild. This is my FAVORITE place to people watch & SnapChat, haha!

Downtown Disney
1. Beignets from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – These are also served in New Orleans Square, but I think they’re fresher & tastier at Jazz Kitchen.

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Tigger Tail from Pooh’s Corner, Jalapeño Pretzel with Spicy Banyan Sauce from Bengal BBQ, Rose & Raspberry Macaroon from Jolly Holiday Cafe

New Treats
Disneyland
1. Tigger Tail from Pooh’s Corner in Critter Country – This is the only location in the park to get one of these sugary treats! A Tigger Tail is marshmallows covered in caramel & white chocolate with orange sugar & a chocolate drizzle. While this was tasty, I won’t be adding it to my list of favorites. It was just like eating a candy bar, not a huge thrill for me.
2. Raspberry & Rose Macaroon/Macaron (?) from Jolly Holiday Cafe on Main Street – I’m never sure the difference between a Macaroon & a Macaron, but whatever the case, this was delicious. The raspberries gave the Rose Macaroon an extra kick. I’ve also heard these are called Matterhorn Macaroons/Macarons, but the sign at the bakery just said Raspberry & Rose Maca…whatever, so I’m not sure about the Disney name. 

Disney California Adventure
1. Lobster Nachos & 21+ Drinks at Cove Bar on the Pier by Ariel’s Grotto – This is somewhat of a hidden gem right now as the Pier is undergoing some construction that’s blocking the entrance to Cove Bar. I’ve heard the Lobster Nachos get hyped up for a LONG time now, but honestly they were just okay. The drinks on the other hand!!!! YES PLEASE. We ordered off the “Secret Menu”, the “Neverland Tea”, “Zombie”, & “Earthquake”, all of which were Long Island Iced Tea type drinks, so LI/Tokyo Tea/AMF lovers – these are the drinks for you. They were priced around $11 which seems like a fair price to me for a Long Island based cocktail.

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Cove Bar in Disney California Adventure – Lobster Nachos, Neverland Tea, Zombie, & Earthquake

Of course there’s corn dogs & churros & Mickey Mouse ice cream – but what do you think of my list? Am I missing any of your favorite snacks? Please let me know in the comments below what treats I should try on my next Disneyland trip! Thanks for reading 🙂

Featured! Miss Al-Leigh on TAPS News

Hey everyone!
I received some exciting news today that I wanted to share with you!

TAPS reached out to me after reading my blog post & wanted to feature it on their News page!!!
This only further solidifies my warm feelings towards TAPS. I appreciate when a company is on top of their Social Media & uses it to create a community of like minded people. I’m extremely excited they took the time to read my Event Recap & even more excited that they liked it enough to feature it on their website – what an honor!

Click here > Event Recap! to read my recap of my experience volunteering with TAPS.
Click here > TAPS News to visit the site & read other great articles & blog posts featuring TAPS!

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Event Recap – Charity! TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at the Disney 1/2 Marathon

Hi everyone!
Some of you may recall I mentioned TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors in Vlog #2 when Jeremiah & I went to Sevenly. For the sake of space/time, please watch Vlog #2 or go to the TAPS website, I linked both above, to read more about their mission. Long story short, they are a military charity that provides support to those left behind after a member of the military passes away. I was really interested in getting to know their program better, so I drove down to the Disneyland Resort to help out at their booth at the Disney Half Marathon. Below are a few pictures I took at the event!

Overall I had a wonderful experience volunteering with TAPS. I handed out race packets to the runners on Team TAPS, answered general questions, & helped out where I could. I learned a lot about the people behind TAPS, the survivors the program benefits, & the program itself. I appreciate that TAPS provides support no matter how the military member passed away, it doesn’t have to be battle related. It can be anything from car accidents to long term illness, etc. I also appreciate that TAPS reaches out to more than just immediate family. They support ANYONE who is suffering after experiencing a military loss, from unmarried partners to best friends to civilian coworkers to church friends, etc. That’s really important because for the most part, support goes toward immediate family, which obviously is not a bad thing, but there are more people to think about. I’m not talking about monetary support, I’m talking about emotional support. Death affects everyone differently & you never know who is able to handle these types of situations on their own or who might need more help. The person that sat next to a military member every Monday & Wednesday night for English 101 might be feeling their loss almost as intensely as the immediate family – & certainly not for the same reasons, but does that make their feelings less meaningful or make them any less deserving of help? I don’t think it does.

I truly feel inspired after this experience. I have previously volunteered with the Wounded Warrior Project & have met special people through those amazing events, but there’s a bit of disconnect because I’m not a veteran or really associated with the military other than through my volunteer work. With TAPS however, I got to meet survivors, a position I can identify with more easily. While not military related I’ve experienced the loss of members of my immediate family & for a brief time, I was part of a military family & lived with someone that was working through PTSD. I watched him struggle & I know how helpless you feel as a bystander. It’s hard to watch someone you love be plagued by demons brought on by something that’s a huge part of their identity, they can’t just shake it off, it’s part of who they are no matter how much pain it brings them. One of the families I spoke with this weekend lost their military member to suicide & it just broke my heart. A majority of the military members being remembered this weekend looked like they were around my age. It’s one thing to hear the statistics, but to be face to face with survivors that have lost someone I could’ve dated, been friends with, gone to college with, worked with etc…makes me cringe to think how much we all take for granted. These military members will never see a beautiful Southern California day, never volunteer for a cause they’re passionate about, never run, never see their families, never go to Disneyland, never go on vacation, & their survivors will never experience these things without a tinge of sadness for the person they’re missing. Yet all of those activities occurred this weekend for other people & they probably didn’t give them a second thought. It’s crazy to think that I could have met any of these people under completely different circumstances, yet we were brought together because of the tragedies in our lives which have shaped our lives & led us to this place. To me, that’s the mission of TAPS. Yes, bad things happen & we all experience loss, but we’re never truly alone, we just have to find people on a similar path.

With all of that being said, I am HIGHLY motivated to continue volunteering at future TAPS Events & even to join Team TAPS…as a runner! I know! Me, running!? If you know me at all, you’ll understand this event must have really been special if it’s motivating me to start running, haha! As soon as I get medically cleared to start working out again, I’m going to start the “Couch to 5K” Training Program & get my butt out there! Click here to Join Team TAPS if you’re looking for a team to join for an upcoming Race Event – maybe I’ll see you at a race! Thanks for reading 🙂

Beauty Haul! Sephora Treats! Ulta & Target!

Beauty Haul!

Beauty Haul!

I TOLD you guys I have a shopping problem shopping solution!
Here’s another package of Sephora treats I got in the mail that I’m excited to test out! I also went to Ulta and picked up some things & got some great free gifts! The two Princess mugs are from Target – EXTREMELY hard to find. They were part of the Valentine’s Day merchandise, hence the Convo Hearts, but sold out super fast! I don’t believe they are being sold anymore, not even in the clearance section. My mom was able to find these on Ebay. I’ve seen people use them to hold makeup brushes, but I already have brush holders, so I’ll have to find some other makeup related use for them!

Here’s a list of the products featured here. Click on the links to purchase them for yourself!
1. COVER FX Custom Cover Drops in G20
2. Murad Invisiblur(TM) Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30
I think I’m going to use the “Murad” & “Cover FX Drops” together. If you follow me on Instagram: @MissAl_Leigh you will see I don’t have great skin. I’ve seen actual breakouts clear up a lot recently since I started eating clean and exercising but I’m still left with quite a bit of dark spots and uneven texture. In an effort to appear “flawless” I use a lot of face products in my makeup routine. This works pretty well until my temperature rises any little bit and my face gets super oily, resulting in cakey, clumpy looking makeup. The Murad Invisblur Perfecting Shield is supposed to replace acne treatment medication, primer, and SPF. The Cover FX Custom Cover Drops allows foundation pigments to blend with your non-pigmented products and create custom coverage without altering the texture of the product. By combining the two, I will create a tinted acne treatment/primer/SPF that will cut down on the different types of products I’m layering on top of each other that create that cakey look. Combining these products will also be a great time saver as I’ll only be using 2 products.
3. stila “Beauty in Bloom” Convertible Color Trio
stila Convertible Color in Camellia
stila Convertible Color in Peony
– stila Convertible Color in Tulip
4. NYX Matte Lipstick in Angel
5. Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray
6. Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream in Vanilla
7. ULTA Sugar Scrub in Freshwater Mist
8. China Glaze, Avant Garden Collection in Create A Spark (This was a steal in clearance!)
9. tarte Gift Pack
tarte Brazilliance™ Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Self Tanning Face Towelettes
tarte LipSurgence™ Lip Gloss in Flush
10. Too Faced, Reality Stars Favorites 2
Shadow Insurance Primer
Better Than Sex Mascara
Perfect Eyes Eyeliner
11. Urban Decay, The Ultimate Pair
Revolution Lipstick in F-Bomb
24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in 69
12. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in LSD
13. These are just some random brand of “Metallic Flash Tattoos”. You can find official Flash Tattoos at Sephora or all sorts of brands on Amazon.

I’m thinking about doing reviews on the “Murad” and “Cover FX” as they’re both fairly new products & I haven’t seen too many reviews on them. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like that or a review on any of these products! Click the follow button on the top right to stay updated whenever I post, thanks for reading 🙂

Fragrance Valentine's Day

Movie Review!: Cinderella 2015

Promotional poster from Disney with my graphic add ons

Promotional poster from Disney with my graphic add ons

My childhood took place during a time in Entertainment known as “Disney’s Golden Age” or “Disney’s Renaissance”. I was raised on princesses and sing alongs. I saw Beauty and the Beast in a movie theater at least 30 times, according to my mother. For Halloween I have dressed up as Chip (the teacup from Beauty & the Beast), Belle, Ariel (The Little Mermaid) both mermaid and wedding version, Megara, Esmeralda, Pocahontas, Snow White, and Jasmine. I was an Annual Passholder to Disneyland and later, Disney California Adventure for many years. I completed 2 internships with the Disney College Program and worked at Disneyland for 2.5 years. To say that Disney is part of my life is an understatement. More recently, my love for Disney has waned somewhat as their prices go up and my bank account gets smaller (thanks, college education!), but I knew I wanted to see their live-action version of Cinderella ASAP!
Without further ado…here’s my Likes/Dislikes/Final Thoughts & Rating which contains SPOILERS! if you’ve never seen any version of Cinderella. Proceed with caution…

Likes:
– The cinematography/graphics/costumes/hair/makeup of the film are really beautiful. Disney’s huge financial resources were definitely put to good use. Supposedly one of Walt Disney’s favorite scenes of animation was Cinderella’s transformation & they definitely did it justice in this version.

– Disney is famous for controversy because a majority of their stories revolve around conventionally attractive Caucasian women waiting for a man to save them. This is a sticky issue for me because I understand they’re trying to be faithful to the original source material which in this case was written by Charles Perrault in 1697. Obviously in this time period society had certain rules & expectations. He could only write about what he knew. However, as a modern audience we know more and want to see films that reflect society as we know it. So I say to Disney, if we can believe that fairies exist and pumpkins can become carriages, give your audience some credit that we could suspend belief a little more to include other races & get rid of certain gender expectations, even if they don’t conform to society at the time the plot takes place. Also, there are other Cinderella stories throughout history, Perrault is not the only author, he’s not even the earliest author. Many cultures have their own version of Cinderella that fits their customs. These tales could have been blended together. Like I said, it’s a sticky issue everyone has a different opinion on. Getting back to the movie! I thought it was interesting that they tried to include other races through the inclusion of a African American/Black Captain of the Guards/best friend to the Prince and a Latina Princess that is engaged to the Prince. They also kind of changed the genders of Cinderella’s mice friends. As I recall, in the animated version there is Jaques, Gus Gus, and Suzy. In this version, there is Jacqueline and Gus Gus. She might have mentioned some other names but I didn’t catch them. My bottom line here is I appreciated their small attempt to include other races and use female characters – because let’s be real, they certainly didn’t have to & people still would’ve seen the film.

– There was a scene when Ella’s father is leaving for a business trip & asks Ella what gift she’d like. Her stepsisters ask for frivolous items, but Ella asks for a sentimental item. That scene is certainly not in the animated version, but perhaps is from the source material or another version. I like this because there is a similar plot point from an original version of Beauty and the Beast. I took it as a nod to Disney’s next live action fairy tale & my favorite Disney movie, so I was happy with that.

– I liked this version’s Prince Charming aka Prince Kit. He stood up for what he believed in and took charge of his own destiny. I appreciated the realistic relationship he had with his father.

– I appreciated the effort Disney put into creating a more in depth explanation for Lady Tremaine’s hatred for Ella. The message of the movie was obviously, “Have courage & be kind”, but also how love makes life beautiful and helps people be the best version of themselves. There was a scene where Ella confronts her stepmother and asks why she’s so cruel to her. She responds with something along the lines of “Because you are young, innocent, beautiful” etc. She trails off, and the implied rest of that sentence is “…and I’m not!” She was a very bitter woman and in another scene she explains why. Her first husband was the love of her life and she was completely destroyed by his death, not only emotionally, but financially. She touches on some of the societal expectations for a single women in that time period – she was basically required to marry again in order to keep her family alive. Her marriage to Ella’s father was a business decision – not a marriage for love. Marriage for love vs. marriage for advancement is a huge theme in this film & many other fairy tales. Imagine how hard her life must have been, to live every day grieving over the death of her husband plus have it constantly thrown in her face that her new husband and step-daughter would never give her the love she was missing because they were still grieving over Ella’s mother. Lady Tremaine lost love & lost herself. While I don’t condone the enslavement of your stepchild, learning a little more of her backstory made her a much more sympathetic character.

– I liked this version of Ella because she knew the way she was being treated was wrong. Eventually she stood up for herself somewhat, which was a vast improvement over animated Cinderella who didn’t really ever complain, if memory serves me right. I always felt that animated Cinderella was an airhead. She let her family push her around and she accepted it all with a smile & a song. I never felt like that made her brave or kind, I just thought she was dumb. At the end of the film when Prince Kit comes to take her away, Ella looks back at her stepmother as she’s leaving the house and with a little smirk says, “I forgive you” & that’s the last we see of the stepmother. In some versions of Cinderella, she totally forgives the family and marries them to Lords of the Kingdom. In other versions, Ella is not as forgiving and has them murdered. This ending was the perfect amount of polite sass, like, “Thanks for all the abuse! It put me on a path to marry the King who, in a twist of great fate, I’m genuinely in love with. Bye, have a great life!!”

Dislikes:
– Everyone kept hyping up Lady Tremaine’s laugh like it was spot on just like the animated film, but I’m not sure what they were listening to. It didn’t impress me.

– As mentioned above, I loved the extravagant costumes used throughout the film. HOWEVER, they needed to get the Captain of the Guards/Prince Kit’s best friend a bigger uniform. He was a big dude & every costume they stuck him in looked extremely unflattering and uncomfortable with his belly hanging out over the top of his pants. I felt bad for the actor.

– The dress tearing scene was really tame compared to what I remember from the animated film. That scene was a chance to really show the cruelty of the family towards Ella & it just fell flat.

– While I enjoyed the cast as a whole, Lily James (Ella) reminded me too much of Mia Wasikowska (Alice from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”). I know that’s random & not necessarily a bad thing, it was just odd. She did a lot of heavy breathing, a lot of chest heaving breathing throughout the movie that was kind of distracting. I kept looking at her collarbones moving around. I’m a weird person. I know that, & I’m fine with it.

– One plot point didn’t get resolved for me. Many wonder why Ella didn’t just run away/move out. In this version, Ella explains that she didn’t want to leave her house because that’s where her parents lived and all her memories of them were there. However, she didn’t seem to care about that ONE BIT when Prince Kit came to take her away. They never addressed what happened to her beloved childhood home after she left and she never hesitates to leave it all behind. I would’ve liked at least one line between her and Kit, or maybe her Fairy Godmother, about how the house doesn’t hold the memories, her heart does.

Final Thoughts & Rating:
I really enjoyed this film. It’s the right mix of modern and classic. I don’t have a soft spot in my heart for the Cinderella story, so I won’t be rushing out to buy this, but I still thought it was a well made film.
My Rating: B+

What do you think? Did you see Cinderella 2015? Are you planning on seeing it this weekend? Please let me know in the comments below – thanks for reading!

Book Review! Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

Courtesy of Goodreads.com

Courtesy of Goodreads.com

I’ve already read another of this author’s novels, “Godmother. The Secret Cinderella Story”, which focuses on the fairy godmother from “Cinderella”. That book is DARK & I LOVE it! I generally always enjoy grown up books about fairy tales, “Beastly” & “Wicked” come to mind, but “Godmother…” is just beyond excellent. Not for the faint of heart, it’s pretty dark and sometimes confusing, but definitely worth reading. I loved “Godmother…” so much, I immediately put most of Turgeon’s other books on my list of books to read. “Mermaid…” intrigued me because I’ve always been fascinated by mermaid lore, and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is one of my favorite movies, Ariel is my 2nd favorite princess 🙂 (Belle is the first!) I started this book with really high expectations, but sadly they weren’t quite met…

Plot w/SPOILERS!:
Lenia, our little mermaid that longs to be part of the human world and have a soul. Unfortunately, she’s not even allowed to be on the surface, except on her 18th birthday. She breaks all the rules and saves a handsome sailor from drowning and of course, falls in love. She brings him to shore, but realizes that without legs, there’s not a whole heck of a lot she can do. Fortunately…or unfortunately, Lenia is able to mentally connect with a nearby girl and tells her to save the man. Lenia leaves, all the while thinking of ways to get back to her love.
Margrethe is the other woman, Princess of the North, keeping a secret identity and being hidden at a convent due to threats of war from the South Kingdom. After hearing Lenia’s mental message, she saves the man, who is revealed to be the Prince of the SOUTH, but oh well, she’s already in love with him.
Lenia, meanwhile, makes a deal with a sea witch…I’m sure you’ve heard this before…trading her fins and voice for legs. She must marry the prince because then he’ll give her part of his soul and she’ll become human. If he marries someone else, Lenia dies. She swims back to shore, the princes finds her and pretty quickly they become…uhm…close. This is where the book starts to take a more adult turn, womanhood’s being broken, sticky wet sheets, that sort of thing. The sex isn’t graphic, but you definitely know it happened. Lenia is stoked because her mom never warned her that nobody buys the cow when they can get the milk for free so she thinks sex means love/marriage, but the rest of the court is giggling because they know there’s no way the prince is gonna marry some random mute.
Margrethe, meanwhile, is also plotting how to get back to her love. She decides the best way to do that is to arrange a marriage with his family, thereby forcing their love and peace between the kingdoms – a true politician!
The prince is pissed that his father agrees to the marriage especially because LENIA IS PREGNANT! Margrethe has moved into the South Kingdom, and at first doesn’t recognize Lenia but finally does after spying on her while she talks to her mermaid sisters who have worked with the sea witch to come up with a plan to make Lenia a mermaid again. All she has to do is spill the Prince’s blood on her legs and she’ll be able to come home, good as new. Of course, Lenia refuses. With the wedding day upon her, Lenia is desperate to have her child see the light of day so she forces an early labor then heads to the ocean to die. Margrethe is horrified at the consequences of her actions and in an act of pure genius, spills SOME of her blood on Lenia’s legs because now that she and the prince are married, their blood and souls are connected. Lenia turns back into a mermaid, able to rejoin her family, while Christopher and Margrethe raise her daughter, start their own family and live happily ever after. THE END.

Thoughts:
While I loved the way this book was written, this story just didn’t get as dark as I wanted it to. I think if I had read this first then followed with “Godmother…” I would have thought this was an excellent book, but because I was comparing the two, “Mermaid…” was just good. This book was more true to the “twist on the classic” format. It simply told the original Hans Christian Andersen version of “The Little Mermaid”, but with Turgeon’s spin, as opposed to “Godmother…” which told the story of completely different characters and changed pretty much everything except the basic idea of “Cinderella”. I plowed through this book waiting for her to reveal that the story was really set in modern times, or Margrethe and Lenia were the same person or something dark and twisted! Sadly, no. Don’t get me wrong, great story, great writing, just not what I was expecting.

Lenia was a sad character. She’s that dumb friend that has sex on every first date she goes on and can’t understand why she doesn’t have a boyfriend. However, the prince WAS sending her some pretty mixed signals. At first he’s like “You’re fine – let’s do this. Hey btw, there’s this other girl, she saved me, I dunno who she is, but I love her. You’re cool with that right?” but then almost overnight he started telling her he loved her and wanted to marry her, but oh whoopsie, his father won’t allow that. I’m not sure the prince was really outraged by his arranged marriage because he wanted to marry Lenia instead, or because he didn’t want to be told what to do. Also, I generally dislike when characters fall in love at first sight, especially if it’s one sided, but hey! – that’s fairy tales!

One of my favorite parts was when Margrethe has realized who Lenia is and she kind of confronts her about being in love with the prince. All along Margrethe thought Lenia brought the prince to her, as some sort of gift, or sign from God that she should love him and bring peace to the kingdom, so she doesn’t understand why Lenia is pregnant with his kid. I LOVED that Lenia quickly puts an end to that delusion and straight up just shakes her head in confusion like “Uh, no, I never said any of that, you were just supposed to save him because you had legs, then leave him alone”. Naturally, this makes Margrethe feel like a complete idiot because now she’s broken up this relationship and condemned her friend to death. I feel like in a typical story, Lenia would have been really self sacrificing and demure and said something like, “Oh yes, of course sweetie, I only wanted the best for you”, while holding back tears because she’s about to die because this other girl got the message wrong. Nothing I like better than characters who respond like real people!

The ending of this book was kind of disappointing because it ended with happiness (I know that sounds bizarre, but I was expecting it to be darker), but I did enjoy that Margrethe solved my ago old irritation with the plan that turns the Little Mermaid back into a mermaid by spilling the prince’s blood. Why does everyone always think it has to be ALL the blood? Perhaps in the original version she’s told she must “KILL the prince”? I’m not 100%, but I’ve always wondered why she couldn’t just take a little blood, which is exactly what Margrethe does, despite the fact that marriage in no way connects two people’s blood, but I understand it’s symbolism being taken literally.

I would be really interested to know if Turgeon believes the things she writes about marriage based on personal or religious beliefs, or if she just thought the idea of souls/blood connecting when two people are married sounded romantic. I appreciated that the daughter ended up being the soul that Lenia wanted so badly, referencing the idea that children we leave behind will always be a piece of us and therefore we live forever in our bloodlines. She may not have gotten that soul that would let her live forever in Heaven, but now she’ll always have a bloodline out there somewhere, children that will always have a connection to the sea, long after Lenia herself becomes part of it. DEEP. Hopefully that’s the idea I was supposed to take away from the story.

Overall rating: B

Book review! Beastly by Alex Flinn

Hi everyone,
Sorry I’ve been gone for so long, I was just in the process of moving from the Bay Area down to Southern California & I’m still somewhat adjusting & settling down so I’ve been REALLY busy. It’s taken me over four days to get this post up because I keep stopping & starting. :/ I’m not sure I want to reveal exactly why I moved down to SoCal for privacy reasons, but I’m sure as time passes I’ll end up talking about some stuff.

Anyways, I’m a HUGE fan of Beauty & the Beast, so any type of re-telling or story that’s vaguely associated with it, is going to grab my attention. That’s exactly what Beastly is! Also, they’ve made this book into a movie that’s yet to be released, although from the previews, it looks a LOT different from the book so that’s going to be annoying. I’ll still probably see the movie anyway just for comparisons sake.

Available for $8.99 at Borders. Pic Credit goes to: lafemmereaders.blogspot.com

Beastly is a modern day re-telling of Beauty & the Beast told from the Beast’s point of view. This book is a Young Adult novel so it’s geared mostly towards pre-teens and teenagers. Despite the fact that, in my opinion, it’s not really meant for someone my age to read – I’m 20 – for the most part I enjoyed this book for a bit of light reading. Haha, saying that makes me feel like Hermione, & if you understand what I’m talking about you totally ROCK! I’m not going to talk about the plot because probably everyone knows the story of Beauty & the Beast & if I get too detailed about the way the book retells the events of the stories then we’ll get into spoiler territory!

Pros/Cons: I liked the way Flinn wrote Kyle (the Beast). I felt like his voice was really honest & typical of a teenage boy. Unfortunately, I felt the complete opposite about the way Linda (Beauty…I liked the use of this symbolic name. Linda in Spanish means beautiful!) was written. Her voice felt very fake & forced. This is ironic to me because the book was written by a woman & usually women are better at tapping into their own gender. I liked how the story was sort of a mix of the original tale, plus the Disney version, & many other aspects from transformation stories. I feel like the author really did her homework when researching fairy tales. Another thing I really liked was the chat room sessions. I thought they were SO clever and a great way to incorporate other transformation tales & subtly encourage readers to read those other stories. I did think the ending of the book was kind of just thrown together/rushed. The rest of the book is paced very well so you aren’t getting too much information all at one time, but for some reason the ending felt like WHAM! BAM! LET’S TIE THIS ALL UP, GOTTA GET THIS BOOK FINISHED!! & yes, the twists are somewhat predictable, but that’s kind of hard to escape with a book that’s retelling an already popular story.

Rating: B+. For me, this book was just okay. You can’t really mess with the perfection that is the original story, so I didn’t anticipate this book being outstanding, but it was fairly decent. I can appreciate the author’s version of the story & the obvious hard work she put into it, but this book isn’t making it on my bookshelf. My bookshelf is home to the “A” grade books such as Wicked by Gregory Maguire, Home, a memoir of Julie Andrews’ early years & Spencerville by Nelson DeMille, just to name a few. I’m glad I read it & I may even go pick up some other books by Flinn, she has several other fairy tale remakes, just to see how she interprets/modernizes those stories. Also, at the end of the book there’s a little author’s note in which she talks about some of the books she read to help research for Beastly & they all sounded pretty interesting, so I’ll probably add those to my list of books to read. All in all, if you’re into fairy tales, go pick up this book & give it a try. It never hurts to read more literature, unless it’s Twilight. In all seriousness, it never hurts to add more literature into your life & we’re all entitled to our likes & dislikes 🙂

Let me know if you’ve read this book, plan on reading it, plan on NEVER reading it & your opinions. Tell me if there’s other books you’d think I’d like based on this review. Thanks for reading, stick around!

Love, Al-Leigh