Books


Happy Book Lover's Day!

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I was going to make a post about Elena of Avalor today until I saw on her Facebook page that it is Book Lover's Day. I decided this would be a great opportunity to tell you about some of my favorite princess books, including some by yours truly.


By far, my biggest inspiration when it comes to writing is Gail Carson Levine. Every princess fan should know who she is, since she penned Ella Enchantedone of the most famous princess books of our time. Though it was that book that earned her a Newberry Award, I can't say it's my favorite of her works. That honor would have to go to Fairest, which was a spin-off of Ella, but very much its own story. If you are unfamiliar with her work (which would surprise me if you are reading this blog), Gail specializes in re-imagining classic fairy tales in new and unexpected ways. What if Cinderella had to do everything her stepmother told her to not because she was weak-willed, but because she was under an obedience curse? What if Snow Whi…

Review: The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum

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A few days ago, my friend Kae-Leah, who I mentioned in my "Mermaid Princesses" post, sent me a recommendation and link to readThe Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz books. I was hesitant at first because it didn't sound like a story about mermaids from the title, and older books can be unnecessarily wordy. To my surprise, it was entirely about mermaids, and it was just the right length. I couldn't help but wonder as I read it why no one has turned this book into a movie yet.

The Sea Fairies, written in 1911, explores the adventures of a little girl named Trot and her friend, Cap'n Bill, a sea captain entrusted by her mother to babysit her. The two main characters have a fantastic relationship that is rarely explored in the media. Cap'n Bill does not act like an authoritative figure to Trot. Instead, he listens to her and tells her everything she wants to know about the sea to the best of his knowledge. She trusts him without thinking he is omnisci…

Review: Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon

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The wait for more Tangled episodes ends tomorrow. During the interim, Disney rewarded us for our patience with something unexpected. Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon by Leila Howland bridges the gap between the Tangled movie and the Tangled: Before Ever After special from the television series. The book was a pleasure to read because it was written in a way that anyone could enjoy, as long as they are at least at a middle school reading level. It is written in first person and switches between the perspectives of Rapunzel and Cassandra. I read the ebook version and found it very informative and enjoyable. I highly recommend it if you want to know more of the backstory behind the series.


Rapunzel and the Last Logoon reveals all of the juicy details that were missing from the Tangled series about how Cassandra became Rapunzel's lady-in-waiting. Since half of the book is written from Cassandra's perspective, it answers a lot of questions we might have, such as why she seems to hate Eu…

Review: The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

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It's no secret that I am a big fan of Gail Carson Levine's work. I read all of her books when I was in high school and college. Just a few months ago, she published a prequel to The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I haven't read that book in many years, so my memory of it is vague, but there were some magical items in The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre that I recalled from The Two Princesses of Bamarre such as the boots that travel seven leagues in a single step and the table cloth that can create infinite food. Other than the enchanted relics, The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre is a terrific stand-alone story that has little to do with The Two Princesses of Bamarre. It shares some similarities to the "Rapunzel" fairy tale in the same way that Fairest does with "Snow White" and Ella Enchanted with "Cinderella." Mostly, though, it is a metaphor for the treatment of the Jewish people during World War II.


In The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, Peregrine is a girl who was …

Review: Palace of Lies

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Most people are familiar with Ella Enchanted,Gail Carson Levine's feminist retelling of Cinderella, mostly due to the butchered movie version released by Disney/Miramax in 2004. But did you know that around the same time Ella Enchanted became popular, Margaret Peterson Haddix had released another feminist Cinderella adaptation that was every bit as exciting? Just Ella is a thrilling adventure story about Ella trying to escape the castle after the ball to avoid being used as a pawn in a wicked scheme and being forced to marry a prince she didn't love. Years later, Margaret Peterson Haddix turned the series into a trilogy, adding two more books that told equally exciting stories about princesses in the neighboring kingdom of Suala. Palace of Mirrors is a fantastic book about a girl named Cecilia who had been raised to believe that she is the true princess of Suala and journeys to the capital to reclaim her throne from the decoy princess, Desmia, who believes that she is the true…

Do Princesses Encourage Vanity?

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One of the most common criticisms that princesses get from adults is that they encourage little girls to be vain. It's a separate issue from body image because it's about their delicate features and not their shape. In fairy tales, there is always an emphasis on the princess character's striking beauty. She is fair-skinned and raven-haired with big eyes and glittering jewels. Take for instance the '90s board game "Pretty Pretty Princess," in which the goal is to have all of the jewelry in the game and win the jewel-studded crown in order to become the princess. As we all know, being a princess is not just about jewelry. Newer Disney Princess movies tend to place more emphasis on inner beauty than many of the older ones.


Fairest is a book by Gail Carson Levine about a girl named Aza who wishes more than anything to be beautiful. It is a twist on the classic "Snow White" tale, changing her defining trait from physical beauty to a beautiful singing voic…

One Hundred Princesses for My 100th Post

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Today is a major accomplishment for me. I started this blog 100 days ago, and I've managed to write a new post in it every day since then. Some of the topics were easier to come up with than others. I also had to go back and edit some after the fact due to poor proofreading. Speaking of which, I'm really sorry about the disastrous short story from my first Story Saturday post. The whole thing was written on my phone on the way to a Mermaid Art Show event in San Diego, so I was a little distracted. I promise to put more effort into future Story Saturdays, which should be easier now that I will no longer be writing new posts every day. Don't worry, though. I will still keep everyone informed of the latest princess news and review all the new princess movies and specials. Without further ado, in celebration of my 100th post, here is a list of 100 princesses with all of the posts I've made about them (in no particular order). Thank you so much for reading my blog. 1-11: T…

Review: The Princess Companion

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Recently, I received a surprise Hanukkah gift in the form of a new princess book. The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier is a novel-length adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, "The Princess and the Pea" in the vein of Gail Carson Levine's restructured fairy tales, Margaret Peterson Haddix's Palace Chronicles, and Jessica Day George's Princesses of Westfalin trilogy. Similar to the aforementioned works, The Princess Companion is the first book in Melanie Cellier's The Four Kingdoms Series, which contains novel retellings of various well-known fairy tales in a world where every princess is connected through blood or significant events in her life. This is the first book I have read in the series, so I can't comment on the rest of it. However, it is surprising how many of these books were written within less than two years.


The Princess Companion is a unique take on a fairy tale that doesn't have many other adaptations, aside f…

Review: The Princess Fugitive

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I recently had the pleasure of reading The Princess Fugitive, the second book in the Four Kingdoms series by Melanie Cellier. You may recall that I reviewed the first book, The Princess Companion, last month. Since every book in this series is a retelling of a popular fairy tale, The Princess Fugitive was inspired by the story of "Little Red Riding Hood." However, it's quite clear from the book that there was no easy way to convert a fairy tale about a poor little girl visiting her granny into a novel about a cold and calculating princess. The book actually had very little to do with "Little Red Riding Hood" outside of a few superficial elements, including a prized red cape that the main character likes to wear often.


I was very impressed by how fast the pacing was in The Princess Fugitive compared to The Princess Companion as well as the heightened levels of suspense. Perhaps that was because it had a more interesting main character. Princess Ava was actually …

Review: The Princess Pact (and Novellas)

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After reviewing The Princess Fugitive last week and seeing how much notably better it was than The Princess Companion, I found myself hooked on Melanie Cellier's Four Kingdoms series. I have completed the next three books in the series, Happily Ever Afters: A Reimagining of Snow White and Rose Red, The Princess Pact: A Twist on Rumpelstiltskin, and A Midwinter's Wedding: A Retelling of The Frog Prince. Though The Princess Pact is the third full-length novel in the series, the two novellas act as the perfect bookends to link it to the second and fourth novels, respectively. I was pleased to find that the pacing and suspense in all three books were fairly consistent with The Princess Fugitive, and the links between the protagonists made each new story feel more welcoming than the last. The more I read the series, the more it feels like coming back to visit a beloved land instead of exploring a strange and unfamiliar one.


The Princess Pact tells the story of Marie, who was first i…

Review: The Princess Game

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I completed The Princess Game: A Reimagining of Sleeping Beauty in record time, solidifying my current obsession with Melanie Cellier's fairy tale princess books. This is the last book in her Four Kingdoms series, but not the last to take place in Melanie's extended princess universe. The Beyond the Four Kingdoms series is still in progress, which means there will be plenty of new literature to look forward to in this realm of fairy godmothers and suspense. However, this book still marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. So, how does The Princess Game hold up in comparison to The Princess Companion, The Princess Fugitive, and The Princess Pact?


There were a few notable differences that stood out to me right away. It's the first book in the series to be written in first person format, which probably should have been done earlier because the other books were clearly meant to be from the perspective of the princesses, even going so far as to occasionally switch…

Entwined Tales Launch Party on Facebook

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I had a very interesting evening, celebrating the release of the Entwined Tales series on Facebook with the six lovely authors of the books from the series. I've never seen a release party quite like this before, but then, I've never seen a book series quite like this either. Each author has her own independent set of fairy tale novels, which brought them together based on their similar story content. They combined their talents to create an original series about a bumbling fairy godfather who goes around granting unwanted gifts to princesses from six different fairy tales. Some of the fairy tales they picked are rather obscure, such as "The Goose Girl" and "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," (which was turned into a live-action movie called The Polar Bear King in 1991, but I wasn't a fan of it). Of course, the one I'm looking forward to the most is inspired by my favorite fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid." On March 5th, A Little Mermaid b…

Review: A Dance of Silver and Shadow

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Now that I've recovered from the chaotically delightful Entwined Tales Launch Party, it's time to get back to reviewing Melanie Cellier's booksA Dance of Silver and Shadow: A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is the first book in the Beyond The Four Kingdoms series. It takes place a few years after the events of The Four Kingdoms and is told from the perspective of Lily, one of the twins that Alyssa took care of in The Princess Companion. It turns out that Lily and her sister Sophie secretly have a telepathic link with each other that they received from a fairy godmother at birth that allows them to talk to each other in their minds no matter how far apart they are. Though this sort of bond may seem intrusive to some, the two princess sisters love each other dearly, and their secret superpower only brings them closer together.


"The Twelve Dancing Princesses" was one of my favorite fairy tales when I was a child. I've seen several adaptations of it, …

Review: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast

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All good things must come to an end. Thus, I have completed the last book released so far in the Beyond the Four Kingdoms series by Melanie Cellier. There are more books coming out later in the year, so I will be reviewing those in time, but this will be the last one for a while. A Tale of Beauty and the Beast is directly linked to its prequel, A Dance of Silver and Shadow. It is told from the perspective of Sophie, Lily's twin sister, who was introduced in the first Four Kingdoms book, The Princess Companion. As a direct result of the events from A Dance of Silver and Shadow, Sophie is forced into an unwanted engagement with a "Beast" who was once called Prince Dominic and must live in his mysteriously isolated castle. The story draws inspiration from the original fairy tale, the Disney movie, and the mythology that Melanie has developed within her series.


In A Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Sophie still possesses the same ability to telepathically communicate with her t…

Review: A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling

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One week after the Entwined Tales Launch Party that I attended on Facebook, the book I was waiting for finally became available to read! A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling is the fifth book in the Entwined Tales series, but I cheated and read it first because I was less interested in the fairy tales that were adapted in the previous books. If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I have a very strong affinity to the story of "The Little Mermaid."A Little Mermaid is a very unique take on it. It has the same basic premise of the youngest mermaid princess giving up her voice for legs so that she can get closer to a human prince she rescued from drowning, but this time, Princess Clio is not in love with the prince she rescued. In fact, she deems him rather foolish for managing to fall off his own ship during his birthday celebration. Clio does, however, have a huge crush on a merman with a similar name to the human prince. Due to a misunderstanding, the incomp…

Review: Cinderella and the Colonel

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Cinderella and the Colonel by K. M. Shea was one of the freebies given away at the Entwined Tales Launch Party on Facebook. K. M. Shea is an independent author who writes fairy tale adaptations. Her contribution to the Entwined Tales series was A Goose Girl, which is based on a fairly obscure fairy tale, but I skipped ahead in that series and only read A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling. I was a bit skeptical about Cinderella and the Colonel because it seemed like such an odd name for a book but figured I might as well give it a shot since it was free, after all. The book turned out to be just as odd as its title. For the first three-quarters of the story, it bore virtually no resemblance to the famous fairy tale. Unlike in other adaptations, "Cinderella" seemed to be the main character's given name, as opposed to "Ella." There were no references to her working by the cinders or being abused by her stepfamily. In fact, she refused to be pushed around by anyone.


The m…

Review: The Little Selkie

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Mermaids are huge right now. Yesterday, I wrote a short story about a siren. Today, I'm going to a Mermaid Museum to promote Freeform's upcoming Siren series. K.M. Shea, the author of Cinderella and the Colonel from the Timeless Tales series and A Goose Girl from the Entwined Tales series, decided to take the story of "The Little Mermaid" in a new direction with her fifth Timeless Tales novel The Little Selkie. Unlike the Entwined Tales version of the story, A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling, The Little Selkie reimagines the little mermaid and her family as selkies, beings from Celtic mythology who have the ability to transform into seals by putting on seal pelts and taking them off to become human. This obscure mythology was featured in the 2014 animated movie, Song of the Sea.


Dylan is not like other selkies. Instead of a seal skin, she was born with the pelt of a sea lion. In Dylan's world, sea lions are less respected among selkies, but she compensates for it by b…

Review: Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea

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After completing her mediocre "Cinderella" novel that focused mostly on taxes, I was only going to review The Little Selkie and Swan Lake from K.M. Shea's Timeless Tales series, but then she released Beauty and the Beast for free. I just can't say no to a free princess book, so I read it, suffering through every cold and tedious page. Beauty and the Beast is the first book in the Timeless Tales series, and the lack of experience shows. The book commits many amateur writing decisions and pushes its audience further and further away from the characters as a result. It's probably the worst adaptation I've read of "Beauty and the Beast" in my short life.


K.M. Shea's Beauty and the Beast focuses on a girl named Elle as the "Beauty" character with a well-mannered "Beast" named Prince Severin. As a result of somehow falling through the roof of Severin's castle and breaking her leg, Elle must stay with him as his guest while his …

Review: Swan Lake by K.M. Shea

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After reviewing Cinderella and the Colonel, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Selkie from K. M. Shea's Timeless Fairy Tales series, I wasn't sure what to expect from Swan Lake. On the one hand, I did not enjoy two of the three books by her that I had read, but on the other hand, the story of "Swan Lake" is unique because it is performed in dance more often than it is told in prose. My instinct to give this book a chance in spite of Shea's shortcomings as a writer turned out to be spot on. Swan Lake was a real page-turner that stayed true to many elements of the ballet while adding in some modern twists. It is the seventh book in the series, and it is the best one that I have read so far.

Like K. M. Shea's other fairy tale adaptations, Swan Lake features a clever and calculating version of Odette who leads and protects the other cursed swans of the lake. For this reason, she is given the nickname "Swan Queen" like in the ballet, though her shortc…

Review: The Autumn Fairy

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I took a break from the many fairy tale adaptations I've been reviewing lately to read The Autumn Fairy by Brittany Fichter. Brittany has a fairy tale adaptation collection of her own called The Classical Kingdoms Collection, but it's also refreshing to see an original story for a change. I first learned about Brittany's work at the Entwined Tales Launch Party on Facebook. She contributed An Unnatural Beanstalk to the Entwined Tales series, which is a retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk." So far, the only book I've read from the series is A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling. I was excited to learn that Brittany is working on a trilogy about a fairy since adult books about fairies or faery princesses are something of a rarity these days.


The Autumn Fairy starts out a little rough due to the lack of a proper introduction to the setting. However, Katy is such an empathetic character that it's hard not to become hooked despite knowing so little about her at first. W…

Review: Silent Mermaid

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When I first wrote Of Land and Sea: The Untold Story of The Little Mermaid in 2009, I never would have expected to be reading so many new adaptations of "The Little Mermaid" years later. As much as I enjoyed The Little Selkie by K.M. Shea and A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling, I must eventually come to terms with the fact that my vision won't always coalesce with every other author's vision of my favorite fairy tale. Sadly, this turned out to be the case for Silent Mermaid by Brittany Fichter. It was significantly longer than the other adaptations I've read, but that was to be expected considering how long The Autumn Fairy, the other book I read by her, was. However, I regret to admit that I enjoyed The Autumn Fairy significantly more than this convoluted retelling of "The Little Mermaid."

Silent Mermaid puts its own spin on "The Little Mermaid" tale by telling the story of a mermaid who was born without a voice as opposed to one who gave it away o…

Review: Ellie and the Prince/Faraway Castle

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The authors I started following from the Entwined Tales Launch Party led me to the discovery of a brand new fairy tale book series, Faraway Castle by J. M. Stengl. As it turns out, her writing style is a perfect match for me. Her books are fast-paced and take place in a magical yet modern setting with a light-hearted tone and lovable characters. The series kicks off with two introductory novellas that can each be completed in about an hour. Cinder Ellie sets up Ellie's backstory for the first novel, Ellie and the Prince, and The Little Siren, which is available for free upon signing up for the author's mailing list, introduces a romance between a mermaid and a human that will take place in the second official novel in the series, The Siren and the Scholar. There is so much to love about this series that I'm not even sure where to begin.


Ellie and the Prince, the first official novel in the Faraway Castle series, tells the story of Ellie Calmer, who was selected to help keep…

Review: The Green-Eyed Prince

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About a week ago, Brittany Fichter temporarily released her novella, The Green-Eyed Prince, for free on Amazon Kindle. Not wanting to pass up a good deal, I decided to check it out. You might recognize her name from my reviews of The Autumn Fairy and Silent Mermaid. At this point, I would still say that The Autumn Fairy is my favorite Brittany Fichter book. The Green-Eyed Prince is a retelling of "The Frog Prince" set in the world of her Classical Kingdoms Collection. Since it's a novella, it was much shorter than the other books she's written, but the exotic names and made-up words she used to create a new culture took some getting used to. Overall, I found it enjoyable, but not outstanding.


The Green-Eyed Prince is told from the perspective of a woman named Kartek. Kartek is the "jahira" of her tribe, which I understood to be her culture's version of a princess. She has the ability to heal the sick using a magical jewel that she inherited from her moth…

Review: The Siren and the Scholar

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I was so thrilled when the sequel to The Little Siren came out that I couldn't wait to read it. So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Faraway Castle series by J.M. Stengl. The Siren and the Scholar takes place six years after the events of The Little Siren. It is inspired by "The Little Mermaid," and it's my favorite adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale that I've read of it so far. The book catches up with Kamoana and Tor, the titular siren and scholar that were introduced in The Little Siren. Just like the mermaid from the fairy tale, Kamoana becomes human to find Tor again. However, instead of giving up her voice, she gives up her memories of him, so she must find him without even know who she's looking for. His memories of her are wiped as well, causing a lot of frustration on his behalf as an intellectual.


I loved the romance and emotion that went into this story. Kamoana and Tor had forgotten their time together but felt empty as a resu…

Review: Unfinished Fairy Tales

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When Aya Ling, the author of A Little Mermaid from the Entwined Tales series, placed her novel The Ugly Stepsister on sale, I was hoping not to get too carried away. After all, the book looks like it could easily be a watered down Gregory Maguire wannabe. However, as soon as I began to read the first paragraph, I was instantly hooked on this wish-fulfillment fantasy. Instead of another fairy tale retelling from an alternate perspective, the Unfinished Fairy Tales series is more like a live-action princess movie, in which an ordinary girl travels to another world and transforms into a princess. Even though the series is called Unfinished Fairy Tales, the books do not tell different stories like the Four Kingdoms or Timeless Fairy Tales series. Instead, all of the books are direct sequels about the same character and the same fully fleshed out "Cinderella" world, meaning that if you got hooked on the story from the beginning like me, you will be frantically jumping from one bo…

Review: The Princess Search

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The Princess Search by Melanie Cellier is the unplanned fifth novel in the Four Kingdoms series. It came out last week, and I couldn't wait to read it. It is supposed to be a retelling of "The Ugly Duckling," but it was no more the story of "The Ugly Duckling" than The Princess Fugitive was "Little Red Riding Hood," but the lack of predictability only made the story more enjoyable. The setting felt both familiar and new at the same time because most of the other books in The Four Kingdoms had a side character who was a prince or princess of Lanover, but since the main character in this book was not royalty, she had travelled to parts of the kingdom that the readers have never seen before. It was particularly nice to see the rambunctious youngest princess Celine again, who played a large role in both The Princess Game and A Dance of Silver and Shadow. Since all of her sisters had married off, she was eager to find wives for her two brothers so she coul…

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