My Next Life as a Villainess Is the Ultimate Princess Visual Novel Escapist Anime!

That title is a mouthful, isn't it? The full name of this currently running anime series is My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Usually, I stick to Magical Girl anime for my Japanese princess fix, but this show caught my eye due to my guilty pleasure for visual novels. It follows the adventures of a spoiled noble girl named Catarina Claes who gets hit on the head one day, which causes her to remember her past life as a modern-day high school student. She realizes that she got hit by a bus in the real world and got reincarnated into her favorite visual novel as the villain. The concept seems a little silly at first, but what follows is loads of fairy tale fun as her true personality takes over the villainous princess archetype that the fates bestowed upon her. The girl living in Catarina's body refuses to suffer the dire fate of the villain, so the voices in her head come up with elaborate schemes to change her fate through visuals that are reminiscent of Pix…

Review: Ella and Ash

If you've been keeping up with my author mailing list, you would have seen that I recommended the book Ella and Ash by K.A. Last before I had the chance to read it. I decided to remedy that yesterday when I breezed through a copy of this short and sweet "Cinderella" retelling. The book follows the Brothers Grimm version of the story instead of the more popular Perrault version that Disney uses, so there was no Fairy Godmother. Ella spends a great deal of time at her mother's grave, where she meets the prince character prior to the ball. Like most modern "Cinderella" adaptations, this book attempts to address the prince's lack of character development that is so often criticized in older versions, but the romance still feels a little rushed. Overall, it's a fairly standard retelling of the fairy tale with a few new elements.

Ella is the same familiar girl we all know who lives with her evil stepmother and two wicked stepsisters, Anna and Drew. She fr…

Disney Princesses Give Kids the World from Quarantine

Yesterday was a big day for Give Kids the World Village, a vacation resort in central Florida for children with critical illnesses. Due to the recent world crisis, the village is temporarily closed, so they have found other ways to support sick children by holding fundraiser events online. Yesterday's event was a virtual Q&A with four famous actresses who played Disney Princesses during the Disney Renaissance era. They include Jodi Benson, who did the voice of Ariel, Paige O'Hara, who did the voice of Belle, Linda Larkin, who did the voice of Jasmine, and Irene Bedard, who did the voice of Pocahontas. You can make a donation under any one of their names by clicking on them above. It was a pleasure to be present for this magical princess reunion on Zoom as these talented actresses discussed their experiences with Give Kids the World Village, Disney theme parks, and working as voice artists.

The event, entitled "A Royal Evening for Give Kids the World," was hosted…

The Spirit of She-Ra Lives On!

On September 9, 1985, She-Ra: Princess of Power premiered as a He-Man spin-off with a traditional good vs. evil plot about Adam's twin sister, Adora. At that time, female superheroes and strong women were not seen often on television. Over thirty years later, the tables turned. Now the warrior princess archetype is dominant, while damsels in distress are frowned upon and have become virtually nonexistent in modern media. That makes it the perfect time to reboot this once revolutionary series through an even more contemporary lens. Instead of being a straight action series like its predecessor, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power introduces complex studies of character relationships, fleshing out the two-dimensional heroes and villains from the 1985 series. Most characters in the reboot belong to gender and sexual minorities, making it a beautiful celebration of diversity for a today's audiences. This inspired DreamWorks cartoon concluded today with the fifth and final season s…

Review: Identity

Last week, I read Spelled and brought up some issues with the main character's personality as well as the lack of a direct antagonist. Now that I have completed Identity, the next book in The Kingdom Chronicles, I am pleased to say that my enjoyment Camille Peters' writing has greatly improved. The book has a fantastic protagonist who is easy to relate to and a deliciously wicked princess who does everything in her power to get between prevent the main character's happiness. The book is inspired by the fairy tale "The Goose Girl," in which a wicked handmaiden steals the identity of the princess she serves, but it more closely resembles the novella A Goose Girl by KM Shea, in which a selfish princess forces her handmaiden to take her place against her will. The story of a princess switching places with an underprivileged lookalike is fairly common in movies such as The Princess and the Pauper or The Princess Switch. It is a story that I never grow tired of, and t…

Review: Spelled

It's been over a year since I reviewed Pathways, the first book in Camille Peters' Kingdom Chronicles series. Though it wasn't my favorite, I decided to check out the next two books from a box set she released recently with the first three in the series. Spelled tells the story of Rosie, the best friend of the protagonist in Pathways. I remember I found her mildly irritating for trying to force Eleanor to fall in love after she told Rosie repeatedly that she wasn't interested in a relationship. Unfortunately, reading a book from Rosie's perspective makes her flaws even more irritating than in Eleanor's book. She comes off as so much of a dreamer that it reaches the point of borderline psychosis. The romantic moments were charming, but it often felt like I was watching an episode of Crazy-Ex Girlfriend without the redemption arc where the main character seeks psychological help for her obsession.

Rosie is a romantic dreamer who is somewhat full of herself. She …

Disney Is Celebrating Cinderella's 70th All Year Long!

Disney loves celebrating anniversaries for their animated princesses, especially when they hit a new decade. This year's princess of honor is Cinderella from the 1950 animated classic of the same name. Cinderella had a major impact on many people's childhoods, including my own. It was released before I was born and went back in the vault before I could obtain it on VHS, so I watched it for the first time on a copy that my uncle recorded for me from a Blockbuster rental, which I suppose was the '90s version of piracy. Of course, I was first in line to purchase it years later when it came out on Platinum Edition DVD. Though it was not my favorite version of this overexposed fairy tale, there were things that made this particular adaptation stand out from the many live-action adaptations released over the following years. Cinderella's dress transformation sequence is one of the most famous and beautiful pieces of animation ever made. I remember being enamored as a child b…

Review: Princess of the Rose

Before I begin, please be aware that the book I'm about to review contains extremely sensitive content that should only be read by adults. If you are under the age of 18, please skip this review and refer to my other book recommendations for something else to read. I learned about Princess of the Rose through a promo thread on Twitter for indie authors. Being an indie author myself, I was eager to help promote the work of K.L. Bone. Of course, the title and premise piqued my interest as well. This is the sixth book in her Black Rose series, which I was unfamiliar with. Looking over the reviews, I learned that it is a prequel to the series and that many readers recommended reading it first because the earlier books would have spoiled the ending. With that in mind, I eagerly dove into the dark world of the Muir court. Though it was different from the sort of book I usually read, I was impressed with K.L. Bone's beautiful imagery and gothic storytelling as well as the innocent pr…

The Final Season of She-Ra Is Upon Us

The fourth season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power ended on a massive cliffhanger with Adora rejecting the destiny of "the She-Ra" and destroying her enchanted blade that had been the source of her powers since the show began. Glimmer's shocking betrayal of her friends threw the magical world of Etheria into harm's way as Horde Prime made preparations to invade. The show has veered so far from its '80s predecessor that it's now anyone's game what might happen next. Today, DreamWorks released a new trailer depicting the epic scale of the fifth and final season, which will drop on Netflix on May 15th. Over the course of its roughly year-and-a-half-long run, this inspired reboot has struggled with some unnecessary filler seasons scattered throughout its otherwise brilliant on-going plot. If this trailer is any indication of what we are going to expect in two weeks, the new season will have little to no filler and focus entirely on the ramifications of …

Love Never Dies: A Tale of Two Musicals

This may seem like an unusual topic for my blog, but it felt appropriate after Andrew Lloyd Webber streamed The Phantom of the Opera for free last weekend followed by its sequel, Love Never Dies, this weekend as part of his The Shows Must Go On series. I had seen Phantom of the Opera twice on stage and watched this recording of Love Never Dies online when it was first released nearly a decade ago. I have strong feelings about both productions and how they demonstrate why making a sequel to a princess story is generally a bad idea. You might try to argue that Phantom is not a princess story, but Christine DaaĆ© is just as much of a musical theater princess as Johanna is in Sweeney Todd. She is a feminine ingenue who is gifted with a beautiful singing voice and coveted for her kindness and gentility by all who are fortunate enough to know her. Phantom of the Opera is a beautiful allegory for love and obsession and the complex psychological effects of physical deformities. Love Never Die…

Review: The Spoken Mage Series

Last year, I wrote a review of Voice of Power, the first book in Melanie Cellier's Spoken Mage series, and decided I wasn't engaged enough in it to read the rest. Then she released all four books at a discount, and I decided to put them aside until I felt the time was right to complete the rest of the series. That time came this week. The recent pandemic has us all locked away in our towers, and we now have more free time than ever before. Even though it had been over a year since I read the first book, I still remembered it vividly. The tale of a girl who can cast magic spells using only her voice in a world where the written word is the only way for most people to access power is hard to forget. I have to give Melanie Cellier credit for keeping each book fresh and interesting while maintaining the same overall tone. Still, I had many of the same issues with the other three books in the series as I did with the first one. I began reading The Spoken Mage because I was a fan of…

Everyone Is Singing Princess Songs!

In these tough times, we could all use a smile and a song to cheer ourselves up. Hollywood and Broadway are shut down right now, but the people behind them still want to bring joy to the world. That's why the past few days have been filled with beautiful musical performances for everyone with a computer to stream online from the comfort of their own homes. Various stage shows such as the Disney Cruise Lines adaptation of the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie and weekly recordings of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest hits that used to require an expensive ticket and carefully planned trip are now available to watch from the comfort of our own living room for free thanks to the magic of the internet and the generosity of entertainers. Many of the people who performed in these glorious productions still have the urge to entertain people from quarantine, so we were also treated to more recently recorded serenades of various Disney songs that follow the stay-at-home guidelines b…

Review: The Jinni Key

I dove right into The Jinni Keyafter I completed The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazadeh. This book is an adaptation of "The Little Mermaid," but it doesn't work as a standalone story as well as other series adaptations do. Instead of switching perspectives between the two new love interests, the book continues the story from Arie and Kadin's points of view from The Stolen Kingdom along with introducing us to Rena. As much as I liked this book, I would have loved to see some Gideon or Bosh chapters to offer more clarity and perspective on Rena's story. It also felt like Arie's story was dragged out into this book when it could have concluded in The Stolen Kingdom, but that's a minor gripe. I enjoyed The Jinni Key even more than The Stolen Kingdom overall since I'm a bigger fan of "The Little Mermaid" than "Aladdin."

The Jinni Key picks up right where The Stolen Kingdom left off except that now we see the point of view of the "Me…