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review 2017-04-05 02:52
Book 15/100: The Beast Within by Serena Valentino
The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince - Serena Valentino

This series keeps disappointing me, but I keep reading it anyway. :p

In Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch, my main issue was that too much of the book was dedicated to non-canon characters. While that was also an issue in this book -- although to a lesser extent -- one of the things that annoyed me about this one was the way it tried to shoe-horn existing characters into parts of the story where they didn't really belong. I just had a lot of trouble buying that Gaston and Beast used to be friends, even if they did explain that the Beast had "forgotten" about these years after his transformation. A lot of how the prince/beast was portrayed in this book just didn't feel congruous with the one we know in the book, and his redemption seemed to happen too quickly and easily considering how awful Valentino had set him up to be prior to Belle's arrival. I did like the idea of the curse taking hold slowly rather than all at once, though.

Oh, and this book doesn't give a crap about the movie timeline ... as far as I can tell it takes place over a period of two years or so, rather than 10. And it doesn't address the oh-so-awkward issue of the prince being 11 when he is cursed -- he is in his teens (i.e., old enough to know better) in this version. That was just one more thing that made this interpretation feel sloppily done.

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review 2017-04-04 03:45
Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp (Disney Lady and the Tramp) (Little Golden Book) - Teddy Slater,Bill Langley,Ron Dias,Walt Disney Company

A Disney Classic. This book is about a dog named Lady who lives with a wonderful couple in a beautiful house. After awhile she starts to notice they are not paying as much attention to her and the woman is making quite a bit of smaller clothes. Lady's two friends Trusty and Jock tell her the couple is expecting a baby. Tramp comes along and tells Lady how horrible babies are, but she refuses to listen. Once the baby is born, Lady is extremely happy because she gets to watch over the baby now as well. The parents decide to take a vacation, leaving Lady and the baby with a relative who brings her two evil cats with her. The cats start causing problems for Lady and cause the caretaker to send Lady off to the pet store where she escapes. She is chased by a pack of dogs and Tramp saves her. They end up spending the entire night together, even going to far as to get some spaghetti to eat. The next morning Lady heads back home where the caretaker chains her up outside. That night lady sees a rat go into the babies room from the outside. Tramp goes in to stop the rat. Dogcatchers take Tramp away. Trusty and Jock go to save him and end up somehow knocking the wagon over next to a taxi. The taxi has the couple inside, who go home and see how Tramp helped and allowed him to stay home with them and Lady. I would use this in my room for personal reading.

Lexile Measure: AD710L

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review 2017-04-04 03:16
Bambi Gets Lost
Bambi Gets Lost - Disney Book Club

This book is about one of Disney's most beloved characters, Bambi. In this book, Bambi goes off to play with Thumper the rabbit out in the woods. Bambi's mother warns them not to get off the path or they will get lost. Of course, as all young people or animals do, they do not listen and end up getting lost. They ask a series of other animals how to get back to the path that will lead them home. Finally, they ask a wise old owl how to get back home, and he points them to a lake where the path home runs around. On their way to the lake, they encounter more animals that point them in the right direction. Bambi and Thumper safely make it back home before it gets to dark for them to see. I would use this in lower grades while learning about animals. This could be used to read to the class or them to read themselves. 

 I would put this book for use between K-2nd grade. 

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review 2017-03-28 02:54
Book 13/100: A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick
A Frozen Heart - Elizabeth Rudnick

This is probably the best Disney spinoff novel that I've read so far.

A big part of that is that Rudnick is a good writer, and this book feels like it came from someone who cares enough about her subject matter to really sink into the characters' thoughts, motivations, and world. The book is full of backstory for Anna and Hans that is only hinted at in the movie, gives names and personalities to "bit part" characters, and for the most part does not feel forced or contrived.

My biggest disappointment in this book was how much of its events overlapped with the movie's events -- that means that a sizeable chunk of it was essentially a "novelization," albeit a very good novelization. I would have enjoyed it a LOT when I was young and used to read the novelizations again and again in the time between the movie's theatrical release and its video release, but as an adult (who still reads Disney novels ;)), I was hungry for more new, original material -- especially since Rudnick did that so well.

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review 2017-03-21 19:20
Book 11/100: Poor Unfortunate Soul - a Tale of the Sea Witch by Serena Valentino
Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch - Disney Storybook Art Team,Serena Valentino

I love Ursula, but, alas, this was not the Ursula novel I desperately wanted it to be.

What annoyed me about the book was that it was not a "standalone," which I really feel like the books in this villain series should be in order to give each villain's potentially complex backstory and motives their full due. About half the book was focused on follow-up to events from the previous book in the series, The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince, which I wasn't really invested in. Overall, it felt more as if the author was more interested in continuing the story with the auxiliary characters that she had made up for the series than really delving into Ursula's story, which felt somewhat tangential to the story Valentino seemed to REALLY want to tell about the "odd sisters" machinations regarding the various villains in the Disney-verse. Overall, this gave the book a somewhat disjointed feel of two stories being told in parallel, one about Ursula's perspective of The Little Mermaid, one about Valentino's own characters that never appear in the Disney movies and thus don't garner a ton of investment from me.

Despite these issues, I still gave the book three stars because the parts that were focused on Ursula's backstory, especially her relationship with King Triton, were well done. The book was also a fun, quick read and an enjoyable bit of escapism. The writing is passable, and despite my disappointment with this series (and other Disney novel spinoffs overall), I know I will keep reading them because, well, Disney.

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