The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2)The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was cute. Not amazing. The love story felt forced. There were far fewer games or puzzles in this book than there were in the previous installment, which was disappointing, because without the puzzles and with a cringe-y love story, there simply wasn't a lot to keep readers wanting more. The characters showed very little growth or depth and the prose was just okay.

Overall, an adequate follow-up to the Inheritance Games.

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So You Wished Upon a Star...

And all you got was a yarn-obsessed sidekick.

Millennial parents rejoice! Finally, a new Disney movie that won’t make you shed tears over your generational trauma. Wish returns us to classic Disney with a plucky young girl facing off against a classic movie villain to save her homeland.

Our intrepid heroine, Asha – played by Ariana DeBose – starts the movie hoping to get hired as a sorcerer's apprentice, but things quickly turn sour when she realizes the king and sorcerer responsible for taking care of the town's wishes, not-so-subtly named “Magnifico” – played by Chris Pine – has no intention of granting said wishes. He’d much rather keep them stashed away in his private collection, too afraid that one wrong wish will take his kingdom away.

Overall, the story was solid, a standard good-vs-evil hero’s journey that will leave viewers with the warm fuzzies they’d expect from a children’s movie. Interspersed throughout were a plethora of references to nearly every movie in Disney’s repertoire. So many in fact, that I found myself spending more energy counting Easter eggs than actually engaging in the story. (Keep an eye on the costumes!)

The music, however, left something to be desired. There wasn’t anything wrong with any of the musical pieces. But even a musical-lover like myself might feel a little confused by the animal ensemble number toward the beginning of the film which felt gratuitous at best (and a great chance to introduce a deer named... you guessed it, Bambi!) I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea that our band of heroes chooses to make shadow puppets rather than devise a real plan during the call to arms musical number. Neither of these pieces did much to move the story along and felt more like distractions than anything else.

On the other hand, I was pleased that the creators didn’t feel the need to force a love story for our main character. Nor was she crowned a “princess” by the end of the movie. Good does ultimately triumph over evil.

As a whole, I’d give the movie a 7 out of 10. It was entertaining, but not brilliant. Worth taking the kids to see. I took my own, though I was worried my youngest wouldn’t be into it. He’s taken to labeling any movie with a female protagonist a “girly movie,” much to my concern. (Will I never have an excuse to watch Moana again?) In the end, he said he loved it. I suppose, some wishes really do come true.

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