princess diaries

Review: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

notebooks of a middle school princessWho didn’t grow up with Meg Cabot’s the Princess Diaries series? The series is follows Mia Thermopolis, who is just an awkward high school girl until she discovers she is heir to a small sovereign European nation. Mia has to bumble through princess lessons with her crazy grandmother, being in the gossip magazines, AND going through all the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.

Well, after ending the book series a number of years ago, Meg Cabot brings us back to the lives of royal Genovians again. This time, we meet Olivia Harrison, who is a completely average twelve-year-old from the suburbs of New Jersey. And… A princess.

It turns out Mia has a half sister.

Olivia goes through some of the same stuff as Mia did. She has to deal with a bully, she feels like there isn’t anything special about her, and she’s not at all popular. But unlike Mia, Olivia has some attitude. She’s not at all intimidated by Grandmere and thinks Grandmere’s poodle posse is the coolest. For a middle-grade novel, she is surprisingly well-rounded and fresh. Olivia loves art, animals, and wants to get her hands on a phone so she can finally text her best friend Nishi. Oh, and eat things with gluten, since her aunt only lets the family eat rice cakes.

I also really enjoyed how Meg Cabot was able to play with some very mature themes in a middle grade novel—multiculturalism, blended families, and families who don’t always have your best interest at heart. She framed the story well and linked overarching themes back to the beginning of the book.

It was too short but I suppose that is a common problem in great middle grade novels, you want them to go on and on.

I’m really looking forward to if they adapt this one to a Disney movie because Mia and Olivia’s father isn’t alive in the movies. I thought they cut out the father because you can’t say testicular cancer in a Disney movie, but Meg Cabot revealed the truth at BookCon. They cut out the father to give Julie Andrews his lines (and totally Disney-fy the acerbic Grandmere in the process). I still suspect my theory plays into it, so any retcon will be interesting!

Oh, and now I need to go back and reread the entire Princess Diaries series, since Meg Cabot also wrote Royal Wedding, a book about Princess Mia, Genovian politics, and and her wedding to Michael! I’m not sure if Meg Cabot’s going to write more about Princess Olivia but I hope so. If you love the Princess Diaries, then you really have to read about the latest addition to the Genovian family.

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at her website.

BookCon 2015: Sunday in Photos

Did you like yesterday’s post: “BookCon 2015: Saturday in Photos?” If so, you’ll love today’s post!  Which is, predictably, photos of the second day at BookCon 2015!

IMG_0156

Where were all the lines?  The sheer amount of people waiting for the line to get wrist bands to attend the Youtube panel was staggering. We, however, were waiting on the line to get wrist bands for Judy Blume’s conversation with Jennifer Weiner. You can read about my post on that conversation here.

IMG_0161

Okay, the show floor line was also incredibly packed and hectic, and we weren’t able to get upstairs in time to get on the line for the authors’ breakfast event. When Gabriele picked out shirts at Out of Print, I strolled the show floor a bit and grabbed a galley of Demon Dentist from the Epic Reads booth.

(They were also giving out little goody bags of candy; I appreciated the sugar later when I was over-tired.)

We took part in the Litographs tattoo chain for Cinderella!

We took part in the Litographs tattoo chain for Cinderella!

I sat in the front row for the Fierce Reads panel with four very cool authors: Jennifer Mathieu, Courtney Alameda, Anna Banks, and Emmy Laybourne.  These four awesome ladies are kicking off their Fierce Reads tour with Macmillan this week.

IMG_0169

Emmy Laybourne’s novel, Sweet, released on Tuesday. The story centers around a flashy cruise for glamorous people looking to lose some weight; the sugar substitute, Solu, is said to drop five-percent of your body weight in days. Laybourne “takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.”

Anna Banks’s newest novel, Joyride, also released on Tuesday.  All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Banks also had some great advice for writers: “When have you writerly constipation, reading is the best laxative.”

IMG_0168

Courtney Alameda’s novel, Shutter, has been getting a lot of hype for its extremely scary cover (and it’s also really great, you know?). Her heroine, Micheline Helsing (yes, a descendant of the famous Van Helsing), exorcises ghosts with the aid of an SLR camera and a crew of cool guys. When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

Jennifer Mathieu’s Devoted also launched on the 2nd, and I’m so eager to pick up a copy: Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

IMG_0191

Another highlight of the day was attending “A New Chapter in Genovia,” a discussion with Meg Cabot about her Princess Diaries series, moderated by Sam Maggs, author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy. Aside from discussing the legacy of the series, Cabot opened up about her new foray into middle-grade: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, told from the POV of Mia’s younger half-sister, Olivia.

IMG_0241

As the heavens opened up and it started to pour, Gaby and I walked around the closing BookCon, where booths were being dismantled and workers were cleaning up the remnants of the last two days. It was sort of bittersweet: we were high on the exhilaration of having just spent the last two days immersed in this amazing bookworm world; however, we were sad knowing that next year the BookCon is being held in Chicago.  I don’t think I’ll be able to make it out, unless someone wants to fund my ticket. But I am so thankful for the opportunities I was given this year.  Being somewhere were authors are treated like rock royalty?  It gives me hope for the future. Books are – and always will be – cool.  And that’s a beautiful thing, you know?

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and you can visit her new writing website here.  Tweet @daniellevillano.