Review: Traitor's Masque

Traitor's Masque by Kenley Davidson is the first book in the Andari Chronicles. I enjoyed Goldheart, the second book, more than this one thanks to a more concise story and a more relatable protagonist. Traitor's Masque is an original adaptation of "Cinderella." It feels like I enjoy every consecutive "Cinderella" adaptation I read less each time because it's so overplayed. Every storyteller thinks they're being more unique than the last by incorporating a bunch of new twists and turns. If they really wanted to be original, they would use one of the hundreds of other fairy tales out there that hasn't already been adapted to death. That said, Kenley Davidson is still a fantastic author. She wrote A Beautiful Curse, which was my favorite book from the Entwined Tales series. Her Andari Chronicles stand out from similar series of fairy tale adaptation novels because she incorporates a more realistic spin. The world contains no magic and a wealth of k…

The Frozen 2 Hype Is Real

I had barely woken up this morning when I discovered that nearly all the fan blogs I follow had already posted an update about the trailer for the highly anticipated Frozen 2 before the sun had even come out. Either Disney is really good at building hype or most bloggers don't sleep. This movie has been teased since the last D23 Expo back in 2017, but the details were shrouded in mystery until today. A few images of Anna and Elsa's new look got leaked early, but today we were finally able to see where these leaked images came from. Wreck-It Ralph 2 played fun with the way Disney had been keeping this project under warps by teasing a preview of it after the credits and rickrolling the audience. The real teaser trailer pulls Frozen fans further down the rabbit hole of Arendelle by making us ask more questions than it actually answers. With its adrenaline-fueled score and lack of dialogue, it poses the question "What is Frozen 2 about?" See if you can figure it out bel…

What About Kairi?

*The following post contains spoilers for some of the final cutscenes in Kingdom Hearts III. For a less spoilery post, please refer to the review I posted last week.

Kairi is the only original Princess of Heart in the Kingdom Hearts series. She has been there since the very beginning when we saw her playing on the Destiny Islands with Sora and Riku. While Sora and Riku demonstrated enormous growth since the first game, Kairi still remains very much static. It's been 13 years since the first game, but her role still follows many of the same outdated tropes as much older video game princesses. While being a damsel in distress is not necessarily as bad as it's cracked up to be, a princess character does need to have some sort of redeeming quality to make up for her lack of physical prowess. For Cinderella, it was her unwavering loyalty to her stepfamily and her late mother despite the tragic events of her life that would have turned anyone else into a bitter cynic. For Snow White

Review: Kingdom Hearts III

Thirteen years after the release of Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts III is finally available for us to peruse. With over a decade of buildup and hype, this game is a massive undertaking both to play and to review. There's just so much of it. There are a lot of cutscenes, a lot of new abilities, a lot of Disney characters, a lot of hidden Mickeys, and a whole lot of backstory to catch up on if you haven't played all nine of the previous games in the series. It's just a lot in general. Fortunately, Kingdom Hearts III definitely lives up to all the hype. It is beautiful, emotional, and fun to play, but because of its enormous scope, it never lets the player take a breath. Between the endless array of minigames and the endless array of bonus abilities popping up on your screen during battles, it's very difficult to find time to sit back and enjoy the rich and tranquil environments of the Disney movies that you are playing in. For the purposes of this review, I will be fo…

Breathtakingly Tranquil Princess Environments

A common misconception among princess haters is that princesses and the people who admire them are selfish and greedy because they live in a castle and have enough money to get anything they want. True fans know that this isn't the case. Princesses from fantasy worlds are portrayed as kind and selfless and often want to escape the confines of their castle or tower. This desire for freedom often brings them to the most beautiful secluded environments of peace and serenity. Disney's 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty set the standards for this with its gorgeous anamorphic background paintings of rectangular trees and woodland creatures who feel right at home alongside the lovely Briar Rose, who embraces the tranquility of her little cottage in the woods. Since then, princesses have often been associated with flowers and nature as a reflection of their own natural beauty and innocence.

Recently, I discovered a Chinese drama on Netflix called Ashes of Love that brilliantly port…

Review: Voice of Power

Over the past year, I have been a close follower of the books of Melanie Cellier. She has done a fantastic job of adapting classic princess fairy tales for a modern audience in both her Four Kingdoms and Beyond the Four Kingdoms series. Recently, she has branched out by writing an original series of her own called The Spoken Mage. The series takes place in a world where the written word holds immense magical power, so only noble families with the ability to control magic are permitted to learn how to read and write. It actually bears a few similarities to a screenplay I'm working on for my class at UCLA. The protagonist in The Spoken Mage series is a commoner who should not possess any magical ability, so no one knows what to do when she releases controlled magic through spoken words alone without even knowing how to write.

Voice of Power is the first book in The Spoken Mage series. It tells the story of Elena, an ordinary girl who is happy with her ordinary life. Her only concern …

Disney Is Pulling All the Stops for 2019!

There may not be a new Disney Princess this year, but that doesn't mean Disney isn't prepared for it. Since 2019 is odd-number year, there's going to be another D23 Expo this summer, but that's not the only princess-related thing happening in the upcoming months. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Disney's The Little Mermaid, and we can expect Disney to celebrate it in a big way, just like they did for Snow White's 80th anniversary back 2017. Like most princess movies, the Ariel's official anniversary isn't technically until November, but Disney tends to stretch out celebrations throughout the whole year year. The Little Mermaid Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is coming out next month. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll even get that live TV special we were promised a while back. Between that, the upcoming Aladdin remake, the new Dashing Collection for the Disney Store, and Disney's exclusive streaming service, 2019 is shaping up to be a big year …

Review: Till Midnight

Since I was completely enamored with Aya Ling's Unfinished Fairy Tales books, I was thrilled to learn that she would be launching a new series of fairy tale adaptations. She has quickly raised in the ranks to become one of my favorite authors. Her new Reversed Retellings books portray gender-swapped versions of classic fairy tales, presenting brand new perspectives and challenging outdated gender stereotypes. The first book in the series is Till Midnight, based on the story of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." However, this version has twelve handsome princes who are forced to sneak away at night due to a curse with a female cobbler who must solve the mystery of where they go. I absolutely loved this adaptation and cannot wait for her to release more gender-swapped fairy tales.

Till Midnight tells the story of Alix, a talented young lady working as a dressmaker's apprentice in an attempt to further her career beyond the family trade of cobbling shoes. Even though it is…

Story Saturday: Jewel Riders Season 3 Concept

It's been a while since I posted anything for Story Saturday. I am pleased to announce that one of my previous stories, "The Dragon and the Runt," was recited recently on a podcast called Fairy Tales for Unwanted Children! Today, I have a different type of short story to share with you. My friends over at the Jewel Riders Archive have posted a writer challenge to come up with a concept for a potential third season of Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders. Jewel Riders is one of my favorite shows of all time, so I had to give this challenge a shot. The concept is inspired by the fantastic art board designs by toy designer Greg Auture for the third wave of Jewel Riders dolls that never got produced due to the show's untimely cancellation after the second season. Just to clarify, this is my own interpretation of a potential third season. I have no affiliation with the creators of the show. If you'd like to catch up with the show leading up to my concept, you can w…

Review: The Marquise and Her Cat

After reviewing a somewhat mediocre book last week from fantasy author Shari Tapscott, I was pleased to find that I thoroughly enjoyed her retelling of the fairy tale "Puss in Boots". The Marquise and Her Cat is by far the best book I've read by Shari thus far. It remains faithful to the original fairy tale while offering a gender-reversed protagonist along with several other fun twists. Before reading this book, I never realized how much I wanted a fully fleshed out adaptation of "Puss in Boots." Though Puss appears in Shrek 2 as well as other spin-offs and sequels from the franchise, the fairy tale itself is still pretty obscure. Even though I had read it a long time ago, I forgot most of the details and never realized how entertaining it could be with just a bit more imagination.

The Marquise and her Cat is the story of Etta, a miller's daughter with two brothers. True to the fairy tale, her brothers inherit very nice possessions from a recently deceased …

Review: Audette of Brookraven

The Entwined Tales book series introduced me to many authors I had been previously unfamiliar with. Of them, Shari Tapscott was far from a favorite of mine. Still, I couldn't resist when her novel Audette of Brookraven, was being offered for free along with several other books from the Entwined Tales authors as a holiday promotion. Since I didn't have very expectations for it, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy of a read this was compared to the sample novellas from her mailing list. This was largely thanks to the quirky antics of the main character, Princess Audette (not to be confused with Princess Odette). The plot, on the other hand, left much to be desired.

Audette of Brookraven is the fourth book in Shari Tapscott's Eldentimber series, which consists of tales about various princesses from various lands. It's difficult to properly summarize this book because the story is all over the place, which is an issue I've had with all of the work I've read from …

The New Princess Jasmine

The internet went a little crazy when Entertainment Weekly released Disney's first promo photos of the fully costumed actors from their upcoming Aladdin remake last week. Many were disappointed with what they saw, which unfortunately tends to be the case for live-action remakes. For instance, Aladdin's signature purple vest was changed to red, making it closer to the Broadway version of the show. He was also given a relatively nice shirt underneath, which is more than a little confusing for those of us who remember how poor he was in the original film. Will Smith as the Genie looked a little too much like a normal human instead of a mystical blue entity, but apparently that's still coming. Princess fans were most excited to see previews of Jasmine's wardrobe. In terms of quantity, the internet did not disappoint. We now have images of three of Jasmine's looks that will be featured in the movie as well as a peek at her new handmaiden.

For me, this regal red gown wa…

Review: Goldheart

Kenley Davidson was the author of my favorite book from the Entwined Tales series, so I jumped at the opportunity to read her book Goldheart for free. Goldheart is the second book from her series of fairy tale adaptations called The Andari Chronicles. It is a reimagining of  "Rumpelstiltskin." While my favorite version of "Rumpelstiltskin" is still The Princess Pact by Melanie Cellier, this one is a solid runner up. Kenley Davidson excels at writing stories about capable women with traditionally feminine flaws, which is becoming more of a rarity in modern times. Her characters' weaknesses make them easier to relate to than many of the modern movie princess heroines, who often excel at far too many skills for a well-rounded character. This level of realism also accounts for lack of magic and fantasy in her stories, which is the reason I didn't seek out her books as eagerly as most of the other authors from the Entwined Tales series.

Elaine, the leading lady …