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Review: CPHS Princess Tea - Ariel's Treasure Hunt

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The best time of the year is back! Every year, the Cedar Park High School Choir  gets together to write a brand-new show filled with princesses, songs, and games for its annual Princess Tea . This year's show, Ariel's Treasure Hunt , is the third one I attended since moving to the area. Many things remained the same such as the lobby set up with fairy tale photo ops, royal souvenirs, and the castle entryway, but there were plenty of surprises to be found during the performance as well. The female choral group, known as the Seasons, dominated this year's show with a wide array of Disney Princesses, while the male singing group, Pitch Black, cosplayed various Disney heroes, supported the princesses, and performed several group numbers during the intermission. I sat at the Cinderella table, which was adorned with an old storybook, an autographed note, and a clock stuck at midnight. This year's show, which is freshly written by students each year, revolves around Ariel wan

Review: The Net that Holds Me

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The Net that Holds Me  by Scarlett Luna Strange is a bare-bones minimalist retelling of "The Little Mermaid" with virtually no stakes. I learned about it from the recent Valentine's Day book promotion and decided to throw in the anchor because I usually love "Little Mermaid" retellings and even wrote  one of my own . The book is innocent and inoffensive for the most part, but it mitigates the majority of the tragic themes that make "The Little Mermaid" such a classic story and comes off as disrespectful toward the original protagonist at one point near the end. As a standalone YA romance, it's a short and sweet love story that can be finished in about two hours, but as a "Little Mermaid" retelling, it doesn't hold a lot of water. Anyone who has read or seen a "Little Mermaid" adaptation knows the drill. Sage is a lonely mermaid who is bored with her life under the sea and thirsts for something more. One fateful day, she me

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day Is Back!

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National Tell a Fairy Tale Day has quickly become one of my favorite days of the year. Once obscure and unknown, February 26th has become the best day to score amazing bargains on fairy tale adaptations from all the best fantasy authors. These annual festivities started as a Facebook party  with many reader interactions. Last year, independent author and fairy tale queen  Brittany Fichter  decided to host the event as a series of linked blog posts  which, though more accessible, creates less opportunity for live interactions with the authors. However, the celebrations continue to include a vast array of fairy tale-related games, activities, and free or discounted ebooks to read throughout the year. This year's fairy tale webring, Once Upon 2024, features 13 authors of various fairy tale adaptation series. Each author made a post introducing herself, sharing some fun fairy tale-related activities, and contributed at least one complimentary ebook from her collection. The authors inc

Review: Ella and the Elf

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Ella and the Elf  by Anabelle Raven  was an unexpected treat from this month's Valentine's Day promotion . It is a sweet reimagining of "Cinderella"  set in a world of elves and magic. The human/elf romance dynamics are similar to Tara Grayce's Elven Alliance series , but the characters and their stories are very different. This is a "Romeo and Juliet" style romance about an interracial relationship between two star-crossed lovers and the obstacles they must face to be together against all odds. Though the story touches on slavery, it never gets as dark as Celeste Baxendell's Runes of Pain and Peace series . The romance is charming, and the characters are refreshingly straightforward about their feelings toward each other. Ella and Altair's "Meet Cute" begins similarly to Andrew Lloyd Webber's recent "Cinderella" adaptation  in which one lover finds the other tied to a tree and releases them. In this case, Ella discovers t

The Unsung Hero of Hazbin Hotel

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Hazbin Hotel  is the latest craze in the world of animation fans. While it isn't the best option for people under 18, averse to profanity, religious zealots, or anyone who prefers their cartoons to have a palette of more than three colors, it has a devoted fanbase all over the world. While it has potential, I can't recommend this show due to its chaotic plot and inconsistent storylines. However, I appreciate the immense amount of creativity in its character designs and backstories and its absolutely stellar soundtrack that includes at least one toe-tapping and inspired musical number in every episode. As the show's heroine and the Princess of Hell, Charlie Morningstar should be my favorite character. However, something about her does not sit right with me, whether it's the fact that her princess-like naivety  makes little sense for someone who has grown up surrounded by corruption and wickedness or that her voice actress, Erika Henningsen , does almost too good of an im

Review: Sailor Moon Cosmos

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It's been over two years since the last double feature for the Sailor Moon Crystal anime series , which covered the second to last arc of the original anime and manga. Closing the gap between the two anime versions of Sailor Moon, a two-part theatrical release premiered in Japan last summer called Sailor Moon Cosmos , which covered the final arc of the story, Sailor Stars. The film was released in two parts, which is barely enough time to cover the expansive story and is probably confusing to people watching it if they aren't already familiar with the source material. Although there is no English release of the film planned at this time, I was able to watch a fansub that allowed me to experience the thrilling conclusion to the newest iteration of this popular Magical Girl franchise. Sailor Moon Cosmos  has the same plot as the controversial final season of the original Sailor Moon anime , but covers it in a much shorter time span. It introduces the trans-friendly Sailor Stars

Review: To Defy a Dream

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To Defy a Dream  by Mary Mecham  is a retelling of "Sleeping Beauty"  from The Shattered Tales , a multi-author series bent on deconstructing popular fairy tales and rewriting them with a twist that shatters their most defining elements. As a huge fairy tale fan, I wasn't too interested in a premise that it rips apart the foundations of what makes fairy tales so beloved. I think deconstructions work better for outdated romcom tropes such as Rachel Bloom brilliantly executed in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend  than they do with timeless fairy tale classics. Still, I enjoyed this author's deconstructed "Cinderella" retelling , and since  To Defy a Dream  was part of a big fairy tale promotion for Valentine's Day , I thought I might as well give it a chance. Overall, To Defy a Dream  has very little to do with "Sleeping Beauty" despite being a retelling. There is a sleeping curse and a magic spindle, but the princess was not cursed to die or sleep at her birt

Big Update for Disney Junior's Ariel!

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A new promo video has surfaced for Disney Junior's upcoming Ariel series , set for release this summer. The video, which was shared on Instagram , contains interviews with some of the show's creative team along with our very first fully animated clips from the show. It reveals an early look at the new Caribbean-inspired character designs for Ariel, Ursula, and King Triton, along with new characters, Lucia and Fernie, and replacements for Ariel's six sisters in the guise of twins named Alanna and Ayanna. The show's aesthetic is cutesy and playful and to appeal to its preschool target audience, but it is filled with contradictions to both the original animated prequel series and the prequel novel to the live-action film , which the look of this series is inspired by in part. These differences make the series difficult for long-time fans of the franchise to enjoy, which is likely why the opening interview states that it is written to be many children's first introdu

Review: Song of Winds (Singer Tales)

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To promote the final book in her Singer Tales series, Deborah Grace White released a free promotion for the third book in the series,  Song of Winds , her adaptation of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon."  Since I have always had issues with this fairy tale, I initially skipped over this book and went straight to Song of Moonrise . However, Song of Winds  is such a sweet love story addressing all my problems with "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" that it quickly joined the ranks of some of my favorite fairy tale adaptations. Like Tara Grayce's Elven Alliance series, Song of Winds tells the story of a couple falling madly in love after their unconventional marriage. Though it follows the basic story beats of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," it does so in a way that makes the characters appealing and the story compelling. Adrienne is a sweet girl who comes from a troubled family. Her father's gambling addiction placed her entire fa

Moana Is Getting a Sequel Instead of a Series!

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In my recent post , I mentioned that Moana was one of several Disney princesses with an upcoming series announcement  that had not gotten any news or updates in over three years. Today, Disney revealed the reason for that. As it turns out, they secretly decided to turn the series into a theatrical sequel , and it's coming out later this year! This upcoming follow-up might replace the unwanted "live-action reimagining" that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announced  last year since it was unlikely that the studio had decided to the animated series into a feature film at that time. The sequel follows Disney's recent trend of recycling established content in theaters instead of weaving new tales except for last November's Wish , which was an overwhelming commercial failure. The sequel announcement was accompanied by a brief "First Look" teaser revealing nothing about the movie's plot. Why did they decide to go this direction instead of a series o

Review: The Jabberwocky Princess

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The Jabberwocky Princess  is a book from The Forest Tales series  by Cece Louise  that I received from a promotion. It takes place right before Mazarine , another book I reviewed recently from the same series. The title suggests that it could be a new interpretation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland . Yet, aside from the presence of the Jabberwock and a few superficial literary references, the story is a generic fantasy adventure. This book does not hold a candle to the creativity and emotional intensity of ABC's Once Upon a Time in Wonderland , my favorite interpretation of Alice. In a way, it is even a bit disrespectful to Lewis Carroll by having the characters interpret direct quotes from his work as the rantings of a madman. Like Mazarine , the chapters alternate between two different perspectives. However, instead of swapping between two love interests, it focuses on dual female protagonists who, while different in their motivations, have similar int

These Disney Princesses Are Making a Comeback!

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Since the November princess anniversaries are too far away for this year, Disney is setting their sights on other things to celebrate in the coming months. For those of you who read my latest review of a "Sleeping Beauty" retelling yesterday, the timing could not have been more appropriate. Today marks the 65th anniversary of Disney's 1959 animated classic, Sleeping Beauty , and they are celebrating it with some beautiful limited edition merchandise . This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Disney's Beauty and the Beast Broadway musical , which is being celebrated in a big way. Finally, four Disney Princess television shows may or may not still be in production this year, so we will wait with bated breath for updates in the hopes that we can see some of our favorite princesses return on the small screen. Princess Aurora is the featured princess on Shop Disney today , marking the 65th anniversary of her film. There is lots of great merchandise available, but o