Book Review: The Next Full Moon By Carolyn Turgeon

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Ava is about to have the most eventful summer of her young life. Her plans to work on her tan by the lake with her best friend Morgan and get noticed by her crush, Jeff Jackson are about to be unexpectedly interrupted. Her upcoming 14th birthday will unlock a strange family secret more bewitching than she could have ever could have imagined.

The Next Full Moon is as magical as a moonbeam on a midsummer’s eve. When you’ve finished this enchanting story, you’ll close your eyes and fly.”

This review from Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath is absolutely correct. Normally I don’t invest much stock in reviews printed on the back of novels but, after finishing this charming fairy tale I must agree with Kathi. After reading a series of excellent, but very dark books (Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, and He’s Gone by Deb Caletti just to name a few) discussing this fluffy, feel good fairy tale is a welcome change.

This book is delightful. It reminds me of all of those endless summers of my youth long before errands, bill paying, and a 9-5 office job. Mornings that you wake up in a sun drenched bedroom and the day is full of possibilities. When your biggest decisions are where should I ride my bike today and what flavor of ice cream / popcicle do I want? I also loved living vicariously through Ava the excitement that comes from having a crush and trying to impress your peers. Author Carolyn Turgeon perfectly captures the essence of awkward youth and the struggles each of us have to find our true self as we grow up.

The Next Full Moon has a unique plot which kept me interested. Usually books like this focus on some petty rivalry with an arrogant bully or the main character must help a friend with a troubled home life which can get a bit predictable. I love that this young adult novel chose to be more whimsical. I don’t often say this, but even the cover art won me over. The image is not only fitting to the story, but is beautiful as well. I’m convinced being a book cover designer would be an amazing job, but I digress.

All in all I rate The Next Full Moon a 4:True Love’s Kiss while it was entertaining and fully encompassed the glory and wonder of summer break, I would have liked to see a villain. Ava’s family secret and transformation makes for a great story but, come on, all truly great fairy tales have an evil villain.

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Show Stealing Sidekicks

ImageThe sidekick is a very important element to any fairy tale. They add humor, fun, and help the main characters out of sticky situations. In fact, it recently dawned on me that one of the main reasons I dislike some fairy tale movies is because the sidekicks were weakly developed or non existent.  A well written sidekick inspires the main character to be a better person, beast, ogre, etc. and sticks with the hero through good times and bad. Here is a list of my personal favorites:

Donkey from Shrek

Donkey is everything a fairy tale sidekick should be. He is upbeat, hilarious, and loyal to a fault. Not only does he help save Princess Fiona from the dragon guarded tower, he also teaches Shrek the value of friendship and letting down your walls (I mean layers…Ogres have layers). He isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. He will let you know exactly how he feels and will share his plate of waffles if you ask him (and you know how much he loves waffles). I wish i had a friend like Donkey.

Lumiere and Cogsworth from Beauty and the BeastImage

I love each of these enchanted objects equally, but for different reasons. Lumiere is smooth talking and charismatic, which contrasts with Cogsworth’s uptight demeanor and obsessive need to follow the rules (glass of water crust of bread). Both characters, when they aren’t squabbling with each other over who is in charge, help the Beast learn to curb his rage and show Belle his softer side. Speaking of their constant fighting…who do you think was in charge of the palace? It seems to me that Cogsworth was tasked with keeping the other magical household items in line, but the objects seem to respect Lumiere more. Probably because he is more fun.

Abu and Genie from AladdinImage

Where would Aladdin be without Abu? Do you know how rough it would have been alone on the streets of Agrabah without a sidekick? Abu helps steal food, allude the police, and provides companionship for the orphaned Aladdin. Do they ever explain how Aladdin and Abu meet? I know there are two Aladdin sequels after this film, but the only thing I remember is that they were terrible.

ImageAnd who can forget Genie? He is unpredictable, entertaining, and genuinely cares about Aladdin’s well being. He could have just rushed Aladdin through some wishes and been on his merry way or let Aladdin drown when Jafar tied him up. But Genie has a good heart. He helps Aladdin find confidence in himself and teaches him the importance of honesty in relationships. On a related note, Genie has the best lines in this movie. One of my favorites being “Tonight the part of Al will be played by a tall, dark, sinister, ugly man.”

Who are your favorite sidekicks? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

Which Disney Princess Are You?

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Normally I ignore silly quizzes I see floating around on Facebook, but Zimbo’s Which Disney Princess Are You? caught my eye right away. First because I’m a giant fairy tale lover if you can’t already tell by the fact I have an entire blog devoted to the subject. Second because the results have been right on so far describing numerous friends of mine that have taken the quiz. And third I’ve already known since the second grade which princess I am, so if this quiz didn’t get it right I would know it was flawed.

I got Ariel from The Little Mermaid which is correct in every way. My father was super strict in high school like King Triton, I sing constantly, I always wonder what else is out there in the world, and Eric is my favorite prince (with Flynn Rider from Tangled being a close second). And let’s be real honest here, who didn’t want to be a mermaid after seeing that movie?

Here is the link to the quiz check it out and let me know which princess you are and if you agree with the results. It only takes a few moments and is totally worth it in my opinion. I hope are as pleased with your princess as I am.

http://www.zimbio.com/quiz/bibMfGO8ax1/Which+Disney+Princess+Are+You?result=t9Y_wmoTxBC

Movie Review: Frozen

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A sister with a secret, a goofy snowman, and a whole lot of ice…why yes I am talking about Frozen, the latest full length animation from Disney. In order to save her kingdom from permanent winter, Anna must travel into the mountains under brutal weather conditions to confront her estranged older sister Queen Elsa.

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for months, but a tiny voice in my head was worried it could never be as fabulous as Tangled, however I am happy to be proven wrong.

Pros:
Lovable characters – Anna is fun, energetic, and full of life, Olaf the snowman has a sunny disposition and a huge heart, and even Sven, the reindeer is highly expressive.

Beautiful animation -Though I didn’t see Frozen in 3D, I bet it would be amazing. I loathe winter, but this movie certainly put me in the mood for ice skating and snowman building. It reminded me of childhood when you could be outside sledding all day and have so much fun you didn’t even feel the cold.

The theme of sisterhood – having a feisty little sister myself, I can certainly relate to Elsa’s desire to protect Anna and in turn sympathize with Anna’a desire to be close again like they were as children.

The music – I already know if someone buys me this movie on DVD I’ll be memorizing the songs in no time.

Cons:
Frozen was a sheer delight to watch, but it did leave me with some pressing questions. Why are Anna and Elsa’s parents so neglectful? Anna spends a great deal of her childhood completely alone. It kinda made me wonder if I needed to call child protective services? And where did her parents go and why did they leave town? This wasn’t explained at all and I hate when details like this are left out. Another issue that bothered me is the girls’ education. Why aren’t Anna and Elsa in school or have a tutor? And what about a caretaker? Shouldn’t someone be in charge of the girls when their parents are fulfilling royal duties or fretting over Elsa’s secret?

Rating 4: True Love’s Kiss This movie is lovely and had me smiling long after I watched it.  In fact, walking out of the theater I half joked (but was slightly serious) that I wanted to go buy tickets and watch it again. Minus the questions I had at the end of movie Frozen was extremely enjoyable.

Gift Suggestions For Fairy Tale Fans

As the holiday season swiftly approaches I have compiled a list of presents that any fairy tale enthusiast would love.

Movies:
Tangled
The adventure of Rapunzel, the girl with the magic golden hair, and her journey to see the annual lighting of the lanterns. Throw in a sassy thief, a determined horse, and a manipulative mother and you have a delightful animated story fit for all ages.image

Enchanted
Princess Giselle is about to have all of her dreams come true when an evil queen sends her to modern day New York City. This hilarious look at a fairy tale princess trying to navigate the real world is sure to make anyone smile.
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Books:
Entwined by Heather Dixon
A clever retelling of the classic tale The 12 Dancing Princesses Azalea and her eleven sisters dance every night in a secret ballroom which is all fun and games until they learn the cost of passage. The imagery was so detailed and realistic it made me feel like I was actually in the story.

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The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
This book reminds me of the next Wizard of Oz. As a child, Jenny watched her older brother Tom get taken by the trees and no one believed her. Many years later, before leaving for University Jenny revisits the place in the forest Tom disappeared and gets her chance to find out what happened to Tom and attempts to save him.

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Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
I reviewed this wonderful book in an earlier post. See “The Truth About The Little Mermaid.”

Products:

Cell Phone Cases

Who these days isn’t obsessed with their smartphone? And what better way to dress up this must have gadget than with a beautiful fairy tale inspired phone case. Amazon has many cute cases to choose from for a variety of phone types.

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Jewelry Fit For A Princess
Baublebar features several bedazzled necklaces that would wow anyone at the ball, office, or out on the town. These statement pieces can be dressed up or down and are well worth the price. Check them out at http://www.baublebar.com.
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Saying “I Do” The Disney Princess Way

Disney inspired engagement rings are all the rage on Pinterest at the moment and immediately they caught my attention. For jewelry junkies and fairy tale fans like myself, these engagement rings are a dream come true. The designs are so inventive and truly capture the colors and essence of the princess who inspired each ring. Of course, some of these designs are more stunning than others but as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a jewelry addict, I am constantly surfing the web for the newest trends and unique pieces, so the moment I saw this collection I felt compelled to share. What surprised me the most was that my favorite pieces were not necessarily inspired by my favorite Disney princesses. For example, I love Belle and Ariel, but their designs were not jewels I would want to wear.
Here are my ratings on these magical rings:
Cinderella
This ring is a lovely combination of blue topaz surrounded by aquamarine and white sapphires. This piece is classic and effortlessly beautiful just like Cinderella. The blue matches her ball gown exactly and I can easily picture this ring on her delicate finger. Rating: 5 Happily Ever After
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Belle
While the color scheme of gold, red rubies, and blue and yellow sapphires is spot on, I don’t understand why this ring’s design is so square? The enchanted rose is such an important part of this fairy tale why wouldn’t the ring be shaped like a rose? Belle’s wardrobe is simple yet elegant so I highly doubt she would want to wear this loud, bulky ring anywhere.
Rating: 2 Ugly Stepsister

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Jasmine
Blue Topaz, sapphires, and diamonds make up this fairy tale inspired ring. I love the uniqueness this piece. I have never seen the dual row of diamonds outlining a ring on the sides before, but it compliments the solitaire blue topaz stone perfectly. I love how the design mirrors the curves of Jasmine’s Arabian outfits. Rating: 5 Happily Ever After

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Ariel
I am the most disappointed in this ring. I love The Little Mermaid and usually love anything inspired by the film, but this design falls flat. I understand the color choices: red garnet to symbolize her envy creating hair, the purple amethysts for her seashell bra, and the green emeralds for her scales, but the colors look too strange together in such a small space. I do appreciate the V shape on either side of the piece that resembles a mermaid’s tail, but I must admit I just can’t get past the odd color combination. Rating: 2 Ugly Stepsisterimage

Tiana
I have never seen a ring that looks like this one before and I love that. What woman wouldn’t want to feel that her engagement ring is truly unique and special? This emerald bedazzled flower is simple yet stunning. I can see Titana treasuring this ring for the rest of her life, always taking great care to remove it when she cooks in her restaurant to keep it safe. Rating: 4 True Love’s Kissimage

Snow White
I make no secret of disliking Snow White. She has a terrible squeaky voice and is so syrupy sweet it makes me ill. She has the personality of a seven year old child which makes it difficult for me to root for her and her prince. She seems too young and naive to get married and run a kingdom. So imagine my surprise when I actually really liked her ring. The colors and design work very well together. A center red ruby surrounded by blue sapphires on a woven band makes me willing to overlook the fact this ring is related to Snow White. Rating: 4 True Love’s Kiss

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Aurora
This engagement ring, while perfect for a princess, appears a little too juvenile to me. The pink sapphire in the center and the diamond hearts on the sides makes it seem like this piece of jewelry would be better worn by a little girl than a woman who has accepted a marriage proposal. Nevertheless it is a cute design and I think it would be a lovely present on some other occasion for a gal well in touch with her inner princess (like my immature self). Rating: 3 Breaks The Spell

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Mulan
The design of this ring accurately captures the inner strength and bravery of Princess Mulan with its intricate scroll work and dark gemstones. The center stone is emerald with green tourmaline on either side and a row of black diamonds complete the band. I usually love emeralds, but this color combination is too dreary for me. An engagement ring should be bright and beautiful but this design looks more prepared to attend a funeral than a wedding. Rating: 1 Locked in the Dungeonimage

Rapunzel
This engagement ring looks like it jumped right out of the movie Tangled. It encompasses Rapunzel’s adventurous nature and symbolizes her epic hair with its twisted golden band embedded with crisscrossed white diamonds that reminds me of the flowers she sometimes wears. The purple amethyst in the center matches her dress and the emblem of her kingdom. I loved this film and love the ring almost as much. Rating: 4 True Love’s Kiss image

Pocahontas
The design of this ring is very accurate. I can absolutely see Pocahontas wearing this because it has such a natural ‘I’m at harmony with the earth’ vibe and the dark metal and gemstone would compliment her skin tone. Normally I’m a big fan of rose gold and have several pieces of jewelry in this finish, but what makes rose gold so pretty is the contrast of its darkness against lighter stones. The garnet center stone is so dark it just makes everything on the ring’s design look muddy. Rating: 2 Ugly Stepsister

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Overall I am very impressed with this collection. I admire the creative minds that were able to take a fairy tale princess and design an engagement ring that will remind women for years to come of all of the magic and wonder of a particular story. For more information check out http://www.gemvana.com where they also feature ways to customize each ring.

Neverland Hath No Fury Like Tinker Bell Scorned

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I was shopping at Target the other day when I stumbled upon an endcap full of new cartoons featuring Tinker Bell. I’ve noticed Disney is making a regular habit of creating spin offs and sequels so I shouldn’t be surprised to discover Tinker Bell focused movies, but I am. I don’t have a daughter (or any children for that matter) but if I did, Tinker Bell would be the last character I would want her to watch. Has everyone completely forgotten what a terrible fairy Tinker Bell is? She is hot headed, mean spirited, and highly possessive of Peter Pan. In fact, her jealousy of Peter and Wendy’s relationship was so intense that Tinker Bell tried to have Wendy killed! She lied to the lost boys telling them Wendy was a bird and encouraging them to shoot her with arrows. Tinker Bell also told Captain Hook the location of Peter Pan’s hideout in another attempt to get even with Wendy. This caused Hook to plant a bomb in Peter’s living quarters which could have killed everyone she cared about. When will Tinker Bell learn that revenge never pays? Her malicious actions do not set a good example for small children. Out of all Disney’s female characters, Tinker Bell is the most evil, in my opinion. Fairies should be kind, caring, and helpful, not full of hatred and schemes. For example, the three fairies in the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather devote their lives to protect Princess Aurora from Maleficent’s vile clutches. And who can forget Cinderella’s fairy godmother who helped her prepare for the ball? This is how fairies should behave. Tinker Bell acts more like a candidate for a reality show, always ready to scratch another woman’s eyes out for the love of a man. The saddest part of the whole story is that Peter Pan cares about Tinker Bell, but her behavior pushes him away. If she had been respectful to Wendy, she not only would have made Peter happy, but she may have gained a new friend as well. I hope in these new cartoons (which I do not plan to watch) she aims to be a more pleasant and loving fairy.

For more Peter Pan greatness I recommend the Disney movie Peter Pan, the film Hook, and the play Peter Pan. I must say I enjoy the play the most because it is slightly darker than the movies and has more songs.

Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” Barely Resembles The Classic Tale

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The four horsemen are upon us, and only one man can save the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow from a fate of torment and despair . . . Professor Ichabod Crane.

Pros: None.

Cons:

Issues with Ichabod Crane:

He is buff, handsome, and British instead of the scrawny, frightened nerd we are familiar with.

He is married to Katrina Van Tassel, who is a witch in a powerful coven. I don’t like this for several reasons. 1. Part of the charm of the original story is that scholarly, wimpy Ichabod had to compete with the brutish Brom Bones for the love of Katrina. Fighting for love is one of the most powerful and interesting themes a story can have and this show chose to eliminate it. 2. Brom’s character could have added more spice to these otherwise bland character interactions. 3. If Ichabod is confident, attractive, and won Katrina’s heart, the show’s creators are robbing the viewer of the opportunity to root for the underdog.

He is a time traveler. Ichabod fought in the American Revolutionary War under General George Washington and was frozen by his wife, Katrina. In the pilot episode, Ichabod wakes up 250 years later to help Lt. Abbie Mills fight against the upcoming apocalypse.  Honestly, if I wanted a story about time travel I’d pop in my Back to the Future Blu-ray disc.

Issues with Lt. Abbie Mills

She is a coward. I’m guessing her character was written this way to make up for the fact that Ichabod is now a hero. Her backstory is that when she was a little girl, she and her sister encountered a demon in the woods and went missing for four days. When the girls were found, Abbie lied to police claiming she didn’t see anything and let her sister be dragged off to a mental institution. Then she turned to a life of bad decisions until Sheriff August Corbin intervened and helped her turn her life around. Eventually she finds her way on to the police force, but does she attempt to help her sister get released from the asylum? No.  Instead, she applies for a new position and plans to flee Sleepy Hollow for good. Only after meeting Ichabod Crane and losing her partner does she decide to stay.

Issues with the Show:

Killing Sheriff August Corbin off in the first episode. I really liked his character. He was a good influence on Abbie and was an excellent police officer. I wish they kept his character alive; there are plenty of less developed characters that nobody would miss. I understand they want Abbie to partner with Ichabod but he is not law enforcement. I wish Sleepy Hollow had gone the route of the Sherlock Holmes inspired television show Elementary and just made Ichabod a police consultant. I believe the sheriff could have help balance out the flatness of other characters.

The biblical references of the four horseman marking the end of the world. This just seems like an unneeded element to the story. Why isn’t fighting against the Headless Horseman enough? And once again let me remind the creators of Sleepy Hollow that Ichabod is not a hero! In Washington Irving’s story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod not only loses Katrina to Brom, but the ending implies he either ran away from Sleepy Hollow out of fear or that he was killed by the Headless Horseman.

I like a fresh twist on a classic as much as the next person, but the television show Sleepy Hollow has so many new elements competing for attention that the entire show falls flat. I wish the creators had chosen just one element and developed that further. Time travel, witches, demons, and a dashing Ichabod who becomes a brave crime fighter is straying too far from the original story.

Rating 1: Locked in the Dungeon For an excellent adaptation of this timeless classic, look no further than Tim Burton’s film Sleepy Hollow starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.

Movie Review: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

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Abandoned in the woods as children, siblings Hansel & Gretel learn to survive on their own in a time when witches are rampant across the land. As they grow up, the pair gains fame as ruthless witch seekers and destroyers. In Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, they are sought after to help a town defeat some witches and recover the townsfolk’s missing children before the dreaded blood moon festival.

Though the origins of Hansel and Gretel may stem from children’s fairytales, make no mistake the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not intended for little ones. This film features gore that would rival some horror films (which is great for me because I love horror movies), inappropriate language, and nudity. If you like your fairy tales to be light hearted and fluffy, this movie is NOT for you. I would suggest something more along the lines of The NeverEnding Story, Princess Bride, or Enchanted. All of which are delightful family fun.

Pros:
All the creative ways the witches are killed.
I loved that this movie showed a dark, serious, and violent side of fairy tales along the same vein as Snow White and The Huntsman. Have you ever read Grimms’ Fairy Tales? They aren’t exactly full of joy and rainbows.
Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are certainly a force to be recked with. They are Samuel L. Jackson tough which pleasantly surprised me. For some reason when I saw the trailer I thought this movie might be campy…wow was I ever wrong!
Femke Janssen was the perfect actress to play Muriel. She is confident, beautiful and portrays evil rather well.

Cons:
Hansel was a bit of jerk (drinking too much, trolling for women, and acting rude to a fan, just to cite some examples) which disappointed me. I really wanted to like him more since he is a main character.
Gretel doesn’t find love. This is a fairy tale! Where is a dashing, brave man who will capture her heart? I really missed this movie having a love story element.

Rating 3: Breaks The Spell I enjoyed this movie and always appreciate when a film has the power to surprise me, but I don’t think I need to see this one again. If I find myself in the mood for gore I’ll pop Saw into my Blu-ray player instead.

Movie Review: Jack The Giant Slayer

ImageJack is a poor farmer barely making ends meet. So like anyone desperate to secure a roof over his head and his next meal, he heads into town to sell his horse and cart. In town he meets a mysterious monk who offers Jack magic beans as payment. Remembering a fairy tale his father used to tell him as a child, he accepts the magic beans and puts in motion an adventure that will change his entire life. In Jack the Giant Slayer, there is about to be a war between humans and a race of giants, and Jack will be called upon to help save the kingdom.

Pros:

The graphics are amazing.

Giants are exactly as you would expect. Ugly, horrible, and have a keen sense of smell. I was pleasantly surprised they have so much personality. My favorite one was the two-headed giant.

Jack the Giant Slayer makes the fairy tale pop from the pages without being cheesy or too childish.

Stanley Tucci is wonderful as Roderick. I enjoyed him showing a more evil side and think he should go for these kinds of parts more often. Nicholas Hoult as Jack made the main character a guy the audience was excited to root for. You want him to fight the giants and you hope Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) will return Jack’s feelings for her.

Cons:

Jack the Giant Slayer is missing an element of humor that I find delightful in other fairy tale movies. Most of the characters are pretty one sided and serious. Ian McShane (King Brahmwell) and Ewan McGregor (Elmont) are talented, versatile actors that I have loved in other productions and I know they are capable of showing more character depth so I must fault the script writing in this instance. Because this is a fairy tale, the movie could have easily made King Brahmwell quirky or made Elmont more of a humorous side kick; but no, this film is all business.

Rating 4: True Love’s Kiss I will gladly recommend this film to any fairy tale lover.