Tag «disney»

Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:



Synopsis for Isle of the Lost (from Goodreads):

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.


Series: The Descendants
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Disney
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – June 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Isle of the Lost, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love anything to do with Disney so I was super excited by the premise of this series. The offspring of classic Disney characters all together in one place? Very cool. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Melissa de la Cruz’s works in the past so I couldn’t wait to see how she would weave this unique world.

What I Liked:

–The World–

Without a doubt, the coolest part of this story was the world it was set in. I loved watching the next generation of classic fairy tale characters come to life. All the kids have some of the characteristics of their famous parents but also have their own unique spin which was a treat.

Everything felt original and fresh. I couldn’t get enough of the creativity; it was superb!

What I Didn’t Like:

–That It was Middle Grade–

I’m not one of those people who thinks people should read books for their marketed demographic (ie adults can’t read YA, etc) but I’ve never had great luck with MG titles as an adult. I think I like my stories to be grittier and less predictable and you don’t necessarily get that with an MG title like this one.

–The Plot–

This ties in with the MG genre because most of the “drama” we get is junior high in nature. While it was creative (they are villains after all), I just felt like the plot was a little aimless at times. We do get the overarching plot towards the end of the novel but by then it was too late for me to feel invested in this series.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I really do love the idea of this series but I’m not sure I would be able to be invested in future instalments. I might check out the movie though!

My Rating: DNF

The Isle of the Lost  3/5| Return to the Isle of the Lost N/A| Rise of the Isle of the Lost  N/A| Escape from the Isle of the Lost N/A


Readers who enjoy middle grade or absolutely LOVE anything Disney will love this!

Read if You Like: Disney, retellings, fairy tales
Avoid if You: dislike middle grade, want darker/grittier plots


  • Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Beau Rivage Series #1)
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn (Beastly Chronicles #1)


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Series Review: Twisted Tales by Liz Braswell

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for A Whole New World (from Goodreads):

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Read 2018
Series: Twisted Tales
Author: Liz Braswell (Books 1-3); Elizabeth Lim (Book 4)
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retellings
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2015 – March 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Disclaimer: I have only read the first book (A Whole New World) in this series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a Disney kid. I grew up watching all the movies; I’ve been to Disney World many, many times; and I’ve never lost a game of Disney Scene It in my life. So a series that reimagines the classic Disney movies? Hell yes.

Truthfully, I forgot about this series. I think I might have had it marked on my TBR but cleared it when I did a massive purge last year. Anyways, I found the audiobook for A Whole New World one day at my library as an “Available Now” title. The title captured my attention (immediately I thought of the song) and then I remembered this book and the series. I didn’t have it marked on Goodreads but that didn’t matter. I even berrated myself for not having an Aladdin retelling (my all-time favourite Disney movie) on my TBR. So I picked it up, started it on my way to work and promptly asked myself why.

This is one of those times I should have read the reviews to know what I was getting myself into.

Read Carefully: The Series Title is “Twisted” Tales

Retellings are a funny thing. You need to have enough new content to impress readers but pay enough homage to the source material as to not piss them off. It’s a delicate thing to do. Often times you get the basis of the original tale but a completely new story and setting (ex Lunar Chronicles). Other times, you expand the inaugural tale and fill in some of the gaps (ex Tiger Lily).

So you need to expect some changes with a retelling. This isn’t the story you’ve watched for years. It starts that way but it transforms (“twists” if you will) into something else that you may not recognize. That means characters aren’t going to be like you remember (or perhaps want) and events are going to change. I think that’s important to remember because it is so easy to compare these stories to their source material and end up disappointed.

What I Liked:

–Jasmine Gets More Time With the Genie–

I love the Genie for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest reasons is his ability to show us our humanity and the faults that lie within it. Wishing for things versus the reality of those things is something that he emphasizes throughout the movie. He does that a bit here too by sharing his backstory with Jasmine and how his role as a Genie isn’t what he thought it was going to be.

While I love all the scenes Aladdin and Genie share in the movie, it was nice to see Jasmine get that time with the Genie. Her character at the start of this novel wasn’t winning me over in the slightest. I found her conversations with the Genie provided her with a taste of character growth and development. He is the wise old sage that teaches her the ways of the world in a way that Jasmine doesn’t really get much in the movie. It was nice to see her get in touch with reality.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The First 25% is a Play-by-Play of the Movie–

I mean, it was nice to set the scene and all but I found it boring to reiterate scenes I’ve had ingrained in the membrane for years.

–Most of the “Twists”–

Yes yes, Lauren read the message you posted up top about changes being necessary in a retelling. My problem isn’t that they changed events or characters, my problem is how this affects the core of what Aladdin is as a story. The twists here just seemed so out of place to me and didn’t benefit the overall message of the story.

>>Read my Spoilers Post (June 27) for more information on that here!

–A Lot of Telling, Not so Much Showing–

I found my interest quickly waned in this book. It’s a lot of dialogue between the characters and a lot of assumptive-explanations. Why is Jafar acting like this? The answer is a speculation made by Jasmine and never from Jafar himself.

Time passes oddly in this book once the rebellion begins and I just found I didn’t care by the end.

Image result for aladdin gifs

–Very Little Character Growth–

Retellings provide ample opportunity to flesh out the characters. Considering Jasmine and Aladdin are characters in a 1.5 hour movie, you could do so much with them in a full novel. The same can be said about Jafar. Instead, these characters are left with their basic shells in order to get the story across. I feel like there was a big missed opportunity with this story.

Will I Finish It?

This time, I looked at the reviews of the other novels and see that they feature many of the same issues as this one. So at this time, I’m going to leave this series as is.

Series Rating: DNF

A Whole New World 1.5/5


Watch the movie. There are much better retellings for stories out there.

Read if You Like: different retellings
Avoid if You: want more substance

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Tag It Thursdays: Disney Tag

Tag it Thursdays: I occasionally get tagged by fellow bloggers to complete various tags. Once a month I will post my response.Please, feel free to tag yourself if any of these tags interest you!

This month’s tag:

Disney Book Tag

I originally saw this tag on JJBookLoversBlog and planned to do it because I LOVE Disney. Seriously, I love Disney! I’ve never lost a game of Disney Scene it! Then, I was tagged by Joey @ Thoughts and After Thoughts and so here we are! I encourage you to check out both of their posts! They have some great picks!


The Little Mermaid — A character who is out of their element; a “fish out of water”

I think Laia doesn’t get enough credit for her role in An Ember in the Ashes. Sure, she isn’t my favourite character ever but she finds herself in a situation she never expected to be in. She does the best she can and I think she develops at a decent pace.

Cinderella — A character who goes through a major transformation

To me, Fangirl is the quintessential coming of age story. Cath is one of the most stubborn girls I have ever had to read and it was interesting to watch as she comes to grips with what her life has become. It was great to watch her transform from a somewhat selfish girl into a  semi-aware human being who takes other people’s feelings into account.

Snow White — A book with an eclectic cast of characters

Lumière has one of the most intriguing cast of characters I have ever read. You can tell that the world is influenced by the circus and old fashioned “freak-shows”. You have Urlick with mysterious scars and Crazy Legs who has no arms and a slew of other misfits. They are all a lot of fun to read about and it makes for an interesting story!

Sleeping Beauty — A book that put you to sleep

I was really looking forward to reading Spinster. In fact, I had it on my hold list at the library before it was released. I wanted to read a modern take on why women and societies expectations of them. Instead, I got a dull read about a woman who discovered old female poets and how it changed her life. Yawn…it was a snoozer.


The Lion King — A character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

I think you could pick any of the characters in Pushing the Limits for this category! From Echo’s torn family life to Noah’s time before and after foster care, this is one heartbreaking story. And that isn’t even including Isaiah and Beth…yet.

Beauty and the Beast — A beast of a book that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

Forbidden had been on my TBR list for years before I picked it up in the summer of 2015. A book that focuses on the romance between blood siblings was something that scared me! But I am so glad I picked it up! This story is so heart-wrenchingly beautiful and I think a lot of people will miss out on it because of the simple word: incest.

Mulan — A character who pretends to be someone or something they’re not

Not only is Emily in First Touch working undercover to find out what happened to her friend but she is also struggling with who she is as a person. So as you can expect, she has a hard time being honest with herself and those around her as she tries to solve the mystery.


Aladdin — A character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse

All you need to do is read the synopsis for Crushed and you can see where I’m going with this. You’ve got Michael who wants to get over his heart-break and Chloe who just wants to be noticed. Add some tricky family drama and you’ve got a perfect “careful what you wish for” situation.

Toy Story — A book with characters you wish could come to life

It’s no secret that I love the characters in the Mortal Instruments Series. I would love to run around fighting demons with this cast of characters. Plus, I think Magnus and I would be besties in real life.


Disney’s Descendants — Your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character

Ironically, I pick a Disney villain to wrap up my tag. I’m not sure who my favourite villain would be honestly when it comes to books. (For the record, Loki from Marvel’s Thor is my favourite). But I really enjoyed this perspective of Captain Hook’s rise to infamy in Never Never.

Thanks again Joey for tagging me!

(So sorry that it took me so long to finish it!)

Feel Free to Tag Yourself!

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Movie Mondays: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
Genre: Childrens, Adventure, Action, Magic


I had to read this book in elementary school and it is one of the only books I actually enjoyed reading. I loved the story and I found myself easily submerged into the world Lewis created. It’s both kid and adult friendly so it makes for a great family read.

This was the first book I read in the series and I then went back to read The Magician’s Nephew, then the two books following Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW) which are The Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian. I found the Magician’s Nephew to be a little confusing at times but it was interesting–I just felt like it was a disappointment compared to LWW and that can be said about the other books. The Horse and His Boy starts super slow but really picks up by the end. I think I finished Prince Caspian but it’s been at least 10 years so I can’t remember if I actually did finish it! Again, didn’t like it as much as LWW but I also wasn’t into reading that much at the time.

I have the whole box set and one day I will read them all just to say I finished it all.


Just a great children’s read that has so many deeper elements to it that I can appreciate now that I am older and have studied English literature extensively.

Rating: 4/5
Similar Reads: Nothing immediately comes to mind

The Movie:

I’m reviewing the Disney version and I feel like that is important to state because I remember when I studied the book in school the Disney version hadn’t been released. I think they might have announced it but I hadn’t seen anything about it so we watched some crappy version (unless I am thinking about the Hobbit’s crappy animated movie but it has been quite a few years since).

I absolutely loved the Disney version–no surprise there because I adore all things Disney. They really brought the book to life with great casting, costumes and props. They also kept true to the book (there are a few little differences, like how they get into the Wardrobe, but nothing major that changes the story) which always makes book-movie adaptions great.

I haven’t seen any of the other movies (not sure what happened there!) but they are on my to-watch list!

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is TIE. I really feel like they are so similar that it is unfair to pick one over the other.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from Goodreads):
When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.