authors that have influenced my writing

First there was Jane Austen. (Isn’t that such a delicious sentence?)

I read Northanger Abbey when I was thirteen or fourteen – it was the shortest of her books and as I sped through it, I fell more and more in love with the world of Austen.  I believe I’d already seen ‘Sense & Sensibility’ (1995), but Northanger Abbey is what really made me an Austenite.  I was, to put it lightly, obsessed.  And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I decided to write some Regency-era novellas myself.  They were mostly thinly plotted, poorly written imitations of Jane Austen’s writings, but they were mine and I loved them and I loved writing them and I had so much fun with them, not knowing anything about characterization or proper dialogue or points of view.

Before, I’d written a few stories, but my adoration of all things Austen was what set my feet on the path to writing seriously.  And I’ve never really looked back.

Note: Feel free to check out bits of my horrid writing from this time period here.  I have grown so much in six years and it’s rather encouraging.

After I grew up a little and stopped writing Regency-esque stories, a new author captured my interest.  She was a teenage writer who frequently posted about her writing online. (I just checked and her old blog – the one I’m most familiar with – is still online!  So cool!)  I loved her storyworld – Selkin, a non-magical fantasy kingdom that had EPIC world-building – and her characters.  I read three or four of her unpublished novels and though there were grammatical errors galore, they didn’t bother me.  The rich emotions, characters that lived and breathed on the page, and Christian message throughout fascinated me.  I would pay good money to see the Selkin series in print.

Anyway, because of her, I wanted to write books with massive casts, grand locales, and sweeping emotional moments…so I wrote a dystopian trilogy.  And it wasn’t great.  But I wrote some 250,00 words of it in record time and finished it and it was good practice.  I’m still hoping to revisit that world some day.

And then lastly (and most recently) there’s Louis L’Amour.  It was jessica prescott (who recommended To Tame a Land) and my brother (who owns almost all of L’Amour’s books) who roped me into the wonderful world of Last Stand at Papago Wells, Brionne, The Daybreakers, etc.  Reading Louis L’Amour’s books made me want to write westerns in the worst way possible – so I did.  I vowed that all I’d write from then on would be westerns ’cause I loved them so much (which didn’t turn out to be the case, but STILL).  Awesomeness.

So there you have it!  Three authors who have been a great influence on my life and my journey as a writer.  Who are some authors who have impacted you?

Eva

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the twenty questions book tag

Snatched this tag from You, Me, and a Cup of Tea.

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1. How many books are too many in a series?  I have never read a series that I felt was too long.  However, I don’t particularly like the trend I’ve seen lately where popular YA authors publish a dozen prequels and bridges and short stories because if you really love the series, you’re running around trying to collect them all and you buy them separately, but then they put them all into a single volume with a SPECIAL BONUS STORY NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED and it’s a mess.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?  Love them if I have the next book right there, ready to be read.  Hate them if the reverse is true.

3. Hardback or paperback?  Paperbacks are more personable in my opinion, but hardcovers look nicer.  It’s a toss-up!

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4. Favorite book?  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  Whenever I re-read it, it always gives me such a warm, glow-y feeling.

5. Least favorite book?  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  Could not stand it.

6. Love Triangles, yes or no?  If you put a love triangle in your book, it had better be perfect.  And since it won’t be, please don’t.  Some of my favorite books have love triangles but there’s only one or two I can actually stomach.  The Hunger Games series is one and I think it’s because Katniss doesn’t ever spend three pages angsting about who she’s going to chose. (Also, Divergent and the Lunar Chronicles didn’t have a love triangle, but there was still plenty of romantic tension.  It can be done, people.)

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7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?  Hamlet, Globe to Globe.  It was super interesting well-written but there were a lot of f-bombs. *sigh*

8. A book you’re currently reading?  Nothing at the moment, but I hope to start The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin soon.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?  Gregor the Overlander.

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10. The oldest book you’ve read?  The Iliad?

11. The newest book you’ve read?  A Sidekick’s Tale by Elisabeth Grace Foley.  A western comedy that I heartily enjoyed.

12. Favorite author?  Jane Austen. ❤

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13. Buying books or borrowing books?  Buying.  But borrowing will work in a pinch.

14. A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  For starters, I really shouldn’t have read it in the first place because there’s soooo much swearing and content to wade through.  Also, no teenagers on earth talk like that.  Also, I don’t think John Green understands much of what cancer is really like and it kind of makes me angry now.

15. Bookmark or dog-ears?  WHY WOULD YOU MAR THE PRECIOUS PAGES OF PRECIOUS BOOKS.  (So…bookmarks all the way.)

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But this is also sacrilege.

16. A book you can always re-read?  The Outsiders.  Any Jane Austen book.  Ender’s Game.

17. Can you read while hearing music?  Technically I can, but I’d much rather not.  Especially if it’s vocal music instead of instrumental.

18. One POV or multiple POVs?  One point of view, usually, unless the author can pull off multiple POVs very well indeed (examples: Wendy Mass, Lynn Austin, and Orson Scott Card).

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19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?  Depends on the book.

20. One book you read because of the cover?  I don’t know if I’ve read any book specifically because of the cover, but I do tend to pick up free Kindle ebooks based mainly on the cover’s quality.

Feel free to do this tag if you want!

Eva

the four things tag

(Snatching this from You, Me, and a Cup of Tea.)

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Four Jobs I’ve Had

I haven’t actually ever had a legit job.  So…yeah.

Four Things I Don’t Eat

I’ll eat almost anything, though whether I enjoy it or not is an entirely different matter.  So I’ll just list four foods I loathe.

  • Avocados
  • Peas
  • Cooked tomatoes
  • Oranges

Four Places I’ve Lived

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Burketon, Ontario
  • Pickering, Ontario
  • Edmonton, Alberta

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Four of my Favorite Foods

  • Pizza
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Watermelon
  • Almost any kind of sea food

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once

Almost all of them?  So, let randomness abound…

  • Exodus (1960)
  • Minority Report (2002)
  • Princess of Thieves (2001)
  • Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Four TV Shows I Watch

  • Sherlock
  • Combat!
  • CW’s The Flash
  • Psych

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Four Things I’m Looking Forward to This [Coming] Year (2018)

I really don’t know.

Four Things I Can’t Live Without

  • God + the Bible
  • Family + friends
  • My tablet + my laptop
  • My bed + coffee

Four Places I’ve Visited 

  • Washington D.C.
  • Alberta
  • A delightful hotel that has free cookies in the lobby
  • The Ark Encounter

Four Pet Peeves

  • When people don’t use the Oxford Comma/dismiss it as unnecessary.
  • When the hand dryers in public washrooms don’t actually dry your hands.
  • When people say they’ve written ‘a blog’ instead of ‘a blog post’.
  • When I don’t have a bookmark on hand when I stop reading.

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Four Things I Wish I Could Do

  • Drive a car.
  • Write mind-blowingly gorgeous prose.
  • Eat whatever I want and never gain weight.
  • See Jude Law as Hamlet.

Four Subjects I Studied at School

  • History
  • Literature
  • Math
  • Grammar

Four Things Near Me Right Now

  1. My sister, Elisabeth.
  2. A green mug.
  3. My other sister’s school books.
  4. A box of Kleenexes.

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Such a fun tag!  If you enjoy rewatching movies, you are tagged.

Eva

movie review: 42

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In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball’s notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing open racism from all sides, Robinson demonstrates true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting in kind and lets his undeniable talent silence the critics for him.

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Over the past several months, there seems to have been a heightened awareness of racism – sometimes well-founded, sometimes a bit ridiculous.  It seems like everything is racist these days.  But ’42’ is set during a time in which racism meant that people were denied basic rights and freedoms simply because of the color of their skin.  It wasn’t about hoop earrings or Disney’s Maui costume or #sowhite Oscars.  It was about separate bathrooms and drinking fountains and having to move to the back of the bus (or off the bus, for that matter) and horrific violence and vitriol directed toward those who deserved none of it.

Into that world stepped Jackie Robinson.  Standing behind him were Branch Rickey and Rachel Robinson and, eventually, the Brooklyn Dodgers themselves.  ’42’ is all about how Robinson stood up to the hate and prejudice and anger…and triumphed.

I could cheer and clap and shout for hours because of it.

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This movie holds a special place in my heart and a huge part of that is because of the people who inhabit it.  Chadwick Boseman brought such strength and determination and sensitivity to the role of Jackie Robinson.  I’d liked T’Challa in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, but my admiration for Boseman grew exponentially after watching him in ’42’. (He’s made a disgustingly small amount of films, though. *sigh*)  I also appreciated Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson.  Rachel is such a wonderful character – very supportive of Jackie even when everything is against him.

And I can’t say enough good things about Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.  You really lose sight of the fact that it’s Ford in the role, he does such a good job at embodying a historical person.  Such a good job.  I also like that reporter guy and the guy who’s always hanging around Rickey and a lot of the Dodgers, too.  Especially Pee Wee Reese.  That scene where he just drapes his arm over Robinson’s shoulders and chats with him?  I cry.  It’s epic. (I cry a lot during this movie, in case you couldn’t tell.)

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Then there’s Ben Chapman.  Let me tell you…I hated the n-word before watching ’42’, but I loathe it a hundred times more now.  Still, I don’t hate Chapman.  I actually kind of feel sorry for him because, yeah, that is one messed-up worldview but so many people were pretty much trapped in that way of thinking for so long. (And I definitely feel sorry for Alan Tudyk.  After reading interviews…ouch.  It was so draining and depressing and horrible for him to scream those obscenities for hours on end.)

Anyway.

’42’ is an important movie.  It’s my favorite movie of 2017.  I rated it 10/10 stars on IMDb (which is rarer than rare).  And even though it’s hard to watch in places, I believe everyone should at some point.

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Eva

my definitive ranking of [almost] every Disney prince

Who doesn’t love Disney princes?  They’re charming, handsome, witty, heroic, and caring.  Well, some of them are anyway.  Today I’ll be ranking almost every Disney prince, based on my entirely subjective personal opinion of each one.

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10. Prince Florian – Zero personality.  And he kisses a dead girl.  I think I’ve made my point.

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9. Prince Charming – Again, no personality.  But he dances well and, uh, um, I can’t really think of anything else to say. *yawns*  However, if you’re talking about the live-action Prince Kit, well, that’s another story altogether. ❤

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8. John Smith – Honestly, I can’t think of much to say about John Smith.  He’s voiced Mel Gibson and I really don’t like Mel Gibson, but that’s not the character’s fault.  Overall, ‘Pocahontas’ is its heroine’s story and I don’t focus much on Smith.

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7. Prince Eric – I haven’t seen ‘The Little Mermaid’ in quite a while, so I can’t say too much about Prince Eric. (I know, I know, this post has been frightfully dull so far.  It should pick up soon, though.)  Like Ariel, Eric has topped many Disney lists of favorite characters before, but I don’t remember being too impressed with him when I saw TLM a while back.

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6. Kristoff – Kristoff is better than Hans, of course, though he’s not one of my absolute favorites.  He’s kind of rough and crude from being raised by a bunch of trolls, but his relationship with Anna is super sweet.  And his frantic ride to bring Anna back to the palace?  So heroically awesome! 

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5. Aladdin – To some extent, Aladdin is overshadowed by the Genie, Jafar, and even Jasmine.  But, man, his little solo (“Riffraff, street rat, I don’t buy that…”) is so full of aching hope and longing that I can’t help but melt a little for him.  And he saves Jasmine from getting her hand chopped off and gives his food to those little children and saves them from being trampled…he’s a pretty great hero, actually.

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4. Li Shang – He wants so much to do the right thing and make his father and his emperor proud.  There’s a lot hanging on Shang’s shoulder and he definitely feels the weight of that responsibility.  There isn’t much romance in ‘Mulan’, but Shang stands on his own two feet – just like Mulan, he doesn’t need a romantic relationship to define him. (I feel like Shang’s relationship with his father is what really defines him.)

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3. The Beast/Prince Adam – Probably the prince that I have the most feelings about.  There’s several Seriously Not Okay things that he does through the course of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (capturing people and locking them up will not get the curse revoked, dude), but he does so much good, too.  I always tear up when he gives Belle the library.  And when he lets her go.  And when he dies.  And when they’re dancing together at the end. *happy sigh*

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2. Prince Phillip – I admit that some nostalgia is involved in such a high ranking of Phillip.  My grandmother had three Disney storybooks and I’d read them over and over again when I was little.  One of the stories was ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and it was one of my favorites (I hadn’t even seen the movie, but still).  I thought Prince Phillip was so heroic, fighting the dragon, and really handsome as well. (I still stand by both those opinions.)  I LOVE how he refuses to marry Aurora because he wants to marry…Aurora.  There’s so much to like about him, really.

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1. Flynn Ryder/Eugene Fitzherbert – “He’s so handsome.  Just like his reward posters.”  Flynn’s character growth is great.  I love the little moments of vulnerability that Rapunzel brings out of him, like when they’re stuck in the cave, or sitting by the campfire, or waiting for the lanterns.  And when he sacrifices his own life for Rapunzel’s, it’s one of the most tragically beautiful Disney moments ever.  Of course, we get a Disney Death™ and everything ends Happily Ever After, but his sacrifice was still real.  I love it.

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Wow.  Ranking the princes was significantly harder than ranking the princesses, for some reason.  I’m still not entirely happy with my list, to be honest.  Anyway, you guys seem to like these Disney-themed posts, so are there any other lists or rankings you’d like to see on this blog in the future?  Let me know!

Eva

“my name is Barry Allan…”

(Warning: massive spoilers for season 1 of CW’s The Flash.  And lots of fangirling.)

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So, I have this friend who is obsessed with all things The Flash, and especially with the CW TV show.  When my family moved to Edmonton, we also moved near a library which had the first three seasons on DVD, so for the past several days my older siblings, my mom, and I have watched the first season of this splendiforous show.

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He’s so proud of himself right here.  It’s adorable.

At first, I found it entertaining – just not much else.  But once the show stopped being a sort of pattern of ‘oh, there’s a new metahuman in town that Barry has to defeat and also Dr. Wells might be up to something but we’re not sure because the tag scenes are sooooo confusing’ and began to delve deeper into the main characters and an over-arching storyline emerged…man, I fell in love with the show and so many of the characters.

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I didn’t have a clear favorite character until the episode ‘Rogue Time’ where Cisco gets kidnapped along with his brother, Dante, and Snart forces Cisco to reveal who the Flash is.  And then Cisco comes into STAR Labs and confesses everything and he’s so ashamed and guilty and heartbroken and I was like “If Barry gives him a hug, he’s my favorite character.”  And he DID.  And so he’s my favorite, which is awesome, ’cause I usually don’t like the main character the best but I do here.

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See, I have this weird thing where occasionally there’ll be one little thing that a character does or says that puts them in my heart forever.  Like in ‘Wonder Woman’ when Steve grabs Diana’s lasso and wraps it around his hand to convince her he’s telling the truth.  Or when Diana says “Charlie, who would sing for us?” (My heart legit melted.  The feels were real.)  Or when Laurie sends for Mrs. March without consulting Jo – whatever movie version I watch…or whenever I read Little Women, I always love him so much for that.  So when Barry hugged Cisco – #favoritecharacterforever

(Also, if you’ve read Empire by Orson Scott Card, there’s a character moment in that that always gets me and if you’re curious, just let me know.)

ANYWAY.  That was a total side issue, but I wanted to get it out there anyway.

Other characters I like…Caitlin (#everythinggoals), Cisco (he has some awesome moments), Ronnie (*cries AND fangirls*), Joe and Henry (two fathers who deserve more respect, recognition, and screentime), Eddie (okay, I don’t like everything about him, but he was amazing the last few eps of season 1), and Leonard Snart (my favorite Flash villain thus far – he’s *cough* super cool and just…all the yes).

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Iris is my least favorite character.  She’s very annoying.  And that’s all I feel like saying about her.

Some of my favorite episodes were “Plastique” (all the emotions and Bette is one of my favorite metahumans), “Flash vs. Arrow” (I want to watch Arrow [the show] so much – and the titular fight was pretty epic), “Fallout” (some of it made me angry, but they were things that got resolved in the finale and Ronnie is such a sweetheart), “Out of Time” (Barry revealing he’s the Flash to Iris and the time travel element made this one of my favorite episodes), “Rogue Time” (neat to see the previous episode played over again, with some big changes), “Rogue Air” (several awesome things: Barry enlisting Snart’s help, all the metahumans fighting together, Oliver and Ronnie helping Barry at the end, etc.), and “Fast Enough” (a jaw-dropping finale with so many emotions – THE LOOK ON BARRY’S FACE WHEN HE DECIDES NOT TO SAVE HIS MOM BROKE MY HEART INTO LITTLE PIECES).

Also, this scene.  It made me feel feels. (Henry is secretly my favorite character.) (Not.) (But almost.)

Oh, and Ronnie and Caitlin got married, which was spectacularly awesome.

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I WANT TO SEE ALL THE OTHER SEASONS RIGHT AWAY.  But…I have to wait until my library holds come in. 😛

So, have you watched this show?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Eva

my definitive ranking of [almost] every Disney princess

I have a love-hate relationship with Disney princesses.  Some I love, some I hate.  I feel neutral towards some of them.  So, I’m ranking them. (Except Tiana ’cause I haven’t seen all of ‘Princess and the Frog’ and Merida because she’s Pixar and I haven’t seen ‘Brave’ and Elsa because she’s a queen.)  I’m planning to do a ranking of Disney princes as well which should be great.

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11. Snow White – So, yes, Snow White was the very first Disney princess which makes her special.  I guess.  But she doesn’t have much of a personality beyond ‘nice’ and her voice is annoying.  There’s nothing I really like about her.

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10. Cinderella – I don’t have many warm feelings for Cinderella (original version of the character, NOT live-action remake).  Pretty much the only thing she has going for her (to put her above Snow White) is that her voice sounds better.

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9. Ariel – I’ve seen Ariel top ‘definitive ranking of Disney princess’ lists time and time again, but I really can’t stand her.  While she has more of a personality and better songs than Cinderella or Snow White, she’s rebellious and a bit clueless at the same time (deals with Ursula are never a good idea).

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8. Aurora – The sleeping princess who doesn’t do much.  But her dresses and hair and song and general sweet disposition are all on point and I find her story an intriguing one.  And her name is so pretty!

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7. Pocohontas – She stands up for nature and her people and does…not much else?  Really, the only thing that puts her ahead of Aurora is the fact that Alan Menken composed some gorgeous songs for her to sing.  And I did like the continuation of Pocohantas’ character in the second movie, so there’s that.

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6. Jasmine – Jasmine is a good princess and her and Aladdin’s relationship is cute, but she’s not one of my favorites.  Sort of in the middle and all that.  Though I do like how she wasn’t a complete idiot about ‘Prince Ali’s’ secret identity.  And Rajah is awesome!

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5. Anna – Anna is probably my favorite part of ‘Frozen’.  I enjoy her sense of humor, loyalty, honesty, dorky relationships with the guys in her life, and, of course, her sacrifice at the end. #lifegoals

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4. Mulan – While there’s plenty of Disney princesses that could give Mulan competition for the title ‘bravest Disney Princess ever’, I believe she deserves that recognition. (Though she’s not technically a princess.)  I mean, she goes off into a brutal and bloody war so that her father won’t have to and it’s just…heartbreaking and inspiring all at once.

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3. Moana – The top three on this list are somewhat interchangeable with each other.  Just so you know.  Moana is a vividly realized character with an intact family (always a plus when it comes to Disney princesses), a huge heart for her home, and so much strength of character.

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2. Rapunzel – Another Disney princess with both her parents still living!  Let this become a habit, Disney.  I felt a little guilty for not placing her at #1, but I realized that I like ‘Tangled’ more than Rapunzel herself. (Just a little bit.)  She’s a bright, beautiful, exuberant character with great goals and the Best Sidekick Ever.  Let’s all try to be more like Rapunzel.

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1. Belle – She’s a bookworm, so I obviously relate.  AND SHE’S SO BRAVE WHEN SHE TAKES HER FATHER’S PLACE (like Mulan, almost) AND ‘SOMETHING THERE’ ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY AND I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS MOVIE AND THE PRINCESS. ❤

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Soooooooo…how did my rankings match up with yours?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva