Category Archives: Fairy Tales

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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A Prince on Paper Book Review

Love sometimes comes when we least expect it. It also comes from the one person who we do not see coming.

A Prince on Paper, by Alyssa Cole, is the third book in the Reluctant Royals series. Published in 2019, it follows the love story of Nya Jerami and Johan von Braustein. After a family scandal, Nya left home for New York City. Returning for a wedding, she discovers that she is not the only passenger on the plane. Johan, whose stepfather is the King of Liechtienbourg does not exactly have the cleanest of reputations. Johan’s best friend is the groom and Nya’s cousin is the bride. Their first meeting does not go well.

In order to protect his country and his younger half-brother’s future as King, Johan fake proposes to Nya. She accepts, knowing that it is nothing more than a ruse. But as they spend time together, the engagement becomes real, as do their feelings. The question is, are they bold enough to reveal what is in their heart or will they walk away?

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On a scale of 1-10, the hotness factor is a six, whereas the previous books in the series were a nine or ten. However, Cole’s writing is so easy to read that it made that number not seem so bad. I appreciated that both Nya and Johan came with emotional baggage, which made their relationship seem real and fraught with enough complications that I needed to read on.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

A Prince on Paper is available wherever books are sold.

P.S. I love that Johan is a redhead. It’s about time that redheaded men got some love.

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Flashback Friday: Shrek Forever After (2010)

The first film in a series is exciting and new. The possibilities are endless. By the time the third or fourth movies comes around, it takes a greater mind to invent news ways of moving the narrative along.

The fourth movie in the the Shrek series is Shrek Forever After. After the events of Shrek (2001), Shrek 2 (2004) and Shrek the Third (2007), Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are dealing with the challenges of marriage and parenthood. Unable to deal with the stress of it all, he wishes that he was a real ogre. Rumpelstiltskin (Walter Dohrn) grants his wish. At first, he is content with his new life.

Then Shrek realizes that he has been setup. Before he can stop Rumpelstiltskin, he has to first convince Fiona, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), who do not know him, to fight against their common enemy.

To say that the creators stretched whatever narrative ideas they had is an understatement. They get an A for effort, but little else.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Throwback Thursday: Shrek the Third (2007)

The third film in a series can travel into narrative territory that is not always clear. It can enhance the narrative and the characters, taking both in new directions. It can also be a disappointment if it lacks what its predecessors special.

Shrek the Third (2007) is the sequel to Shrek (2001) and Shrek 2 (2004). With the death of his father-in-law, Shrek (Mike Myers) is now the new King of Far Far Away. It goes without saying that he is not the right person for the job. The next in line is Artie (Justin Timberlake), but he is not exactly keen on embracing his future role. It is up to Shrek, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to convince him to accept his destiny.

Meanwhile, Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is pregnant and dealing with a very angry Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who is planning to take what he believes was his to begin with.

The spark is somewhat diminished if we are comparing Shrek the Third to the first two movies. It’s almost a stretch, but it could be worse. Though my feminist self asks why Fiona, as the child of the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews), is not the next in line (thank you primogeniture), I appreciated that it was the princesses who saved the day.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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A Duke by Default Book Review

Not everyone is born with the knowledge of what they want to do with their lives. Some travel on a figurative winding path before making this discovery.

The 2018 romance novel A Duke by Default, by Alyssa Cole, is the second book in the Reluctant Royals Series. At the age of thirty, New York City Socialite Portia Hobbs has yet to settle down, in both the professional and romantic sense. Feeling like she is a disappointment to everyone around her, Portia applies and is accepted for an apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland.

Tavish McKenzie does not help running his armory, especially from a woman like Portia. Even if she is willing to get her hands figuratively dirty in running the business. His first response is to give Portia busy work while fighting his attraction to her. Their relationship, both in and out of the office shifts when she discovers that Tavish is the heir to a dukedom.

Turning Tavish into a gentleman is the easy part. Dealing with the media onslaught and their burgeoning romance is another thing entirely.

I enjoyed this book. Cole writes in a way that combines the natural elements of the genre and modern narrative that does not feel predictable. Obviously, the reader knows how the story is going to end. Tavish and Portia are such interesting characters that I was immediately hooked. I also appreciated that Portia is not just looking for love, she just found it along the way of finding herself.

Do I recommend it? Yes

A Duke by Default is avaliable wherever books are sold.

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New Randy Rainbow Video-GAY! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

For every step we make toward equality, there are some people who want to take us two steps back into a world in which inequality is king.

In Florida, the Don’t Say Gay bill is now the law of the land. Governor Ron DeSantis has been making the rounds in the media, trying to defend this heinous and unAmerican law.

Randy Rainbow has responded as only he can. His new video is entitled GAY! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody. Based on the song “Shy” from the musical Once Upon a Mattress, Rainbow loudly and proudly proclaims that he is gay.

As much as I love the video (as I do all of his work), I know that it will not take this law off the books. The only way to undo is to ensure that DeSantis becomes a former Governor and that Nikki Fried takes the oath of office.

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Flashback Friday: Shrek 2 (2004)

In the lifetime of a romantic relationship, one of the major milestones is meeting your significant other’s family.

Shrek 2 takes place just after the ending of Shrek (2001). Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are in the midst of newlywed bliss when an invitation from her parents arrives at their doorstep. Traveling to the kingdom of Far Far away with Donkey (Eddie Murphy), they are initially given a warm welcome. That welcome is quickly rescinded by the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews), who are shocked and well, unhappy about their daughter’s choice of a spouse.

Among movie sequels, this one is near the top of my list. The film takes what made its predecessor successful and builds on it. It expands the world and the characters while using the same humor and heart of the first movie. What I personally love is that it represents a reality that is something not seen on screen and not seen in fairy tales. It shows that even in the happiest of families and the seemingly most perfect of marriages, there are still problems and conflicts.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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A Princess in Theory Book Review

We all get those emails that claim to come from an unknown foreign royal promising a fortune. Logic dictates that it is a scam and should be ignored. But what happens when the email is legit?

The 2018 romance novel, A Princess in Theory, is the first of three novels in the Reluctant Royals Series. Written by Alyssa Cole, the narrative starts off with this kind of email. When Naledi Smith starts receiving emails stating that she is betrothed to an African Prince, she writes it off as junk. As soon as she disregards it, it comes back to her, again and again. Raised in foster care, she learned early that the only person she can rely on is herself. Between grad school and her part-time job as a waitress, the last thing she has time for is a boyfriend.

Prince Thabiso will one day inherit the crown of the fictional African country of Thesolo. Now that he is a man, the next thing he must do is marry. The young lady who was chosen as his future Queen disappeared years ago. Using the information that he has, Thabiso finds her in New York City. Knowing that Naledi has no memory of him or their planned future, he pretends to be “Jamal”, wanting to experience life on his own terms and be loved for his person and not his title.

The attraction and chemistry are instant, but Thabiso knows that he will have to come clean eventually. Will Naledi accept the truth and his true self or will she walk away?

The best way to describe the narrative is Coming to America meets the Prince and Me with a pinch of Black Panther. I don’t normally read this genre But this one is totally worth the time. It is romantic, sexy, and oh so hot. As the female lead, Naledi is everything I would want in a protagonist. She is smart, driven, capable, but also willing to open to the idea of love when it comes around.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

A Princess in Theory is available wherever books are sold.

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On a Night Like This Book Review

Change does not happen when we wish it to happen. Change happens when we make it happen.

The romance novel, On a Night Like This, by Lindsey Kelk, was published last month. Fran Cooper knows that she wants to change her life. She also knows that she needs a job. Her relationship with her fiance has become almost too comfortable. When she is offered a short-term position to work for a major celebrity as a personal assistant, Fran jumps at the chance.

Juliette is a superstar and a diva with a capital D. The long list of rules and the exacting schedule that Fran has to keep up with would make the average person’s head explode. Juliette is supposed to perform at the Crystal Ball, a once-a-year event in which only 1% of the 1% receive an invitation.

The job that is supposed to be just that changes when she meets Evan. Over the course of the evening, they connect but promise to keep certain details to themselves. There is, however, one catch. Evan is on the guest list, Fran is not. What they have could end after that night. But, given the right circumstances, it has the potential to last much longer than either anticipated.

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I liked this book. It has a Cinderella-esque, fairy tale feeling that is just enough without overwhelming the narrative. I respected understood Fran’s practicality and professionalism under circumstances that would drive most people insane. Evan has a lovely Prince Charming quality about him that is still grounded in reality.

Unlike other heroines in similar novels, this story is not about Fran finding love. That narrative is secondary. It’s about understanding that wishing for something and doing what we need to do to make it happen are two different things entirely. There is no fairy godmother who is able to turn a pumpkin into a coach. Taking her fate into her own hands, it is the decision to make the figurative jump into the unknown that opens the door to new possibilities.

My only complaint is that it took a little too long for Fran and Evan to meet. But when they did, the chemistry was instant. It’s the reason I hung on until the final page.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: The Royal House of Windsor (2017)

The image of royalty is that of fine clothes, jewels, titles, and opportunities that the average person does not have. But anyone looking closely would see that that experience is far more complicated than what the media portrays.

The Netflix six-part miniseries, The Royal House of Windsor, aired back in 2017. It tells the story of the British royal family starting during World War I and ending in the present day. Going into great detail, it reveals the family trauma, the scars, and the behind-the-scenes drama that is only that is generally kept from the public.

I liked this series. Adding onto what is already known, it is a deep dive into the Windsors and reveals the humanity underneath the press and the imagery that is created by the PR machine. It’s that humanity that allows us to see them as someone we can relate to as opposed to someone who is the image of far-away perfection.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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