The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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Based on the Emmy Award–winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Twenty‑four‑year‑old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.
When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck‑up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets—and for Lizzie’s viewers. But not everything happens on‑screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.
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Rating: 4 stars

First things first, last year I was absolutely obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web-series on YouTube. (If you haven’t heard of it get right on over to YouTube and watch it. NOW. To help you along here’s the first episode):

I absolutely loved it. It was literally my life during my second year of university, and I probably spent more time following the huge amounts of interactive media that went along with the series (e.g. Twitter) than I did writing assignments. Anyway, I think any Jane Austen fan would enjoy this series, unless you’re one of those people who gets offended by any slight alteration to the master piece that is Pride and Prejudice, in which case I’d advise to stop reading.

This book is basically a written form of the series, with a lot more detail and extra scenes that we obviously don’t see in the videos. The book is written in the form of a diary although after reading this book, and having attempted to write a diary myself, it is not a very realistic diary. But who can say the web-series is considered realistic?! So I feel this point is invalid when talking about how good or how bad the book was.

Evidently, from my rating, I enjoyed the book. How could I not after devoting so much of my time to the series?! What I loved most about the book was Lizzie’s voice. It was extremely entertaining and I felt it captured Elizabeth Bennet in modern form perfectly. It was intelligent and witty and highly enjoyable. The adaptation from page to screen and back to page again was very well done, considering the time in which they wrote the book. I particularly enjoyed reading more about Lizzie’s relationships with her parents and sisters.

However, there were aspects that left me still wanting more. I feel they published this book out of fan demand and yet they barely embellished at all on the most important aspects (in a fangirl’s eyes) of the story: Darcy’s first “proposal”, and Darcy’s second “proposal”. The parts I really wanted to know more about and there wasn’t anything new. Even the ending was incredibly rushed compared to the rest of the book and it was a little underwhelming. The book would have got the full five stars if the ending was better constructed. There was a week after Darcy’s second “proposal” that the viewers didn’t really know anything about and I thought this would have been a great thing to embellish on in the book but nope. We get a small amount of clarification. BUT NOT ENOUGH!

But overall, I do think this is a book worth reading if you love Pride and Prejudice adaptations. I did enjoy it despite its set backs and I probably will read it again at some point.

Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

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When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
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Rating: 3 stars. 

Regrettably, this was disappointing. When I found the book on Goodreads a few months before the release date I was super pumped to find a new Young Adult book/series about assassin’s. I had become a little obsessed with them after reading the first two books of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and not going to lie I had pretty high expectations. The premise sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But it fell flat. 

It wasn’t a bad book, I enjoyed it enough. Enough that I will continue on with the series. But it wasn’t anything special. The plot was kind of what I was expecting it to be, awesome. But the characters were not good. None of the characters are particularly remember-able, which would obviously take a lot away from the book. With better characters this series could be amazing. It’s a shame as I was so prepared to love this book and I feel a little heartbroken that I didn’t. 

On another note, a few good things about the book was the whole magic system, I found it very interesting. Although it wasn’t vastly original, its still different enough to want to pick up this book for. Hopefully this aspect will grow with each book in the series (or trilogy, no idea what it’s going to be). It has me a little excited for more on that front. Fingers crossed that Cypress will deliver, 

Overall, really just another book to add to a pile of “meh”s and “maybe”s. For me this is a series I will have to keep an eye on, I feel like it’ll get better. I hope it will get better, 

 

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
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Rating: 3 stars

I feel sad that I didn’t like this book more. The amount of raving reviews I read before hand kind of made me think it would be something amazing. I’m not saying this is a bad book. It is really well written, to the point where I am willing to carry on with the series. However, I feel I didn’t connect with it as well as everyone else did. I think that the reason I didn’t necessarily like this book was not because of it being over hyped, I  actually understand why people love it so much. But I think it was because I felt it dragged on for so long that I kind of had to force myself to sit and read it.

There are a few things I really enjoyed about this book and one was how realistic it was, yeah I know it’s a fantasy, but it didn’t fell like it was accommodating to the clichéd scenarios that so frequently present themselves in other young adult fantasy novels. I didn’t roll my eyes once which was a breath of fresh air. The world in which this series is set is intriguing and it has its good and bad aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed the darker aspects which rarely make appearances in YA, with references to famine, disease, rape and death on a huge scale. It’s a little bit morbid of me to like reading about it but it really gave a much darker edge to the book that I was not expecting.

This book is definitely a story centred on its characters. There is an enormous array of characters that make appearances throughout the book that were really interesting and well formed. My only problem is that I want to know more about them. I really loved Trevanion and Froi. I could read entire books about them (thank god the next one in the series is Froi of the Exiles!). I disliked Evanjalin though, although there were aspects of her character that I liked, there was too much that I didn’t like. It makes me wonder what everyone else sees that I don’t.

There were some parts of the book and the world building that I didn’t like, that were well, confusing. I literally couldn’t picture what Lumatere was meant to look like. I feel that despite the huge amount of detail that Marchetta goes into in this book, she wasted it on things that didn’t matter and could have had more use in the descriptions of the world that the book is meant to be set. Although the writing is fabulous, there were also aspects which I just did not understand, I understand that it is part of Marchetta’s writing style, but I actually found myself trying to guess what was actually happening. I feel that these parts were meant to be obvious to the reader, I don’t know whether I was just being dense, but it really lowered my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I do think this is a book worth reading. I don’t regret it, I just really wish I could have enjoyed it more. I will make my way through the other two books, but I may save them for a rainy day.

Need by Carrie Jones

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Zara White suspects there’s a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She’s also obsessed with phobias. And it’s true, she hasn’t exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane…but Zara’s pretty sure her mom just can’t deal with her right now.
She couldn’t be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara’s overactive imagination. In fact, he’s still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There’s something not right – not human – in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you’d have to fear.
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Rating: 1.5 stars

This book is more of a preteen book rather than young adult. A minor blip from the publishers for marketing it as YA. I didn’t like this very much. The writing is bad. I read this book a few weeks back and I am having to scour my memory to remember what actually happened. The story in itself is not terrible, it was entertaining enough and I quite liked the romance aspect. Although honestly? It doesn’t take much to make me like romance.

I feel this book should have been longer. At just over 300 pages it isn’t exactly short but the plot really needed more embellishment. About 95% of this book is the main character and a few side characters (that barely make any appearances) wondering around and thinking with only 5% of any kind of action, and the action was mediocre at best squished into about 5 pages. I’m actually not sure how the author managed to stretch it to 300 pages, as there was hardly any character development at all, in fact I’m not really sure we know all that much about the main character. It’s sad really because this book has so much potential to be a really good story. It probably would have been better to have merged this book with the second in the series: Captivate. So there is actually more happening. For a Preteen/YA paranormal book its pretty dull.

This is probably one of the few books that I wouldn’t recommend. This is the kind of book you would read if you had nothing else left.

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

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A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is “Cinderella” meets “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form – a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.
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Rating: 3.5 stars.

This book was good, I liked it and I’m glad I read it but there was some aspects of it that I didn’t really like at all. Although it is a very good story and very well paced and thought out. I have always loved books that were set in Japan, I find the country fascinating and I liked the sound of the “Cinderella meets Memoirs of a Geisha” storyline. Despite the world in this book being set in a “fairy-tale Japan”, I still found it rather captivating and interesting.

However, I feel like the story could have benefited from more world building, a little more talk about the history I think would have  made the plot more solid. Not to mention that I only barely connected with the characters. Most of which were very 2D and lacked any originality. I couldn’t stand Suzume’s mother, although that is obviously intentional, but seriously what a selfish horrible character. On another note, I quite enjoyed the romance aspect it wasn’t a major part of the plot but I think it embellished it nicely and although in places it could have been more in-depth  I think it worked well.

There is only one other part of this book that I disliked and that was the ending, although essentially it wasn’t that bad but I felt it was lacking. I still have numerous questions about the side characters and it’s annoying that I’ll never know what happened to them because this book being a stand alone. Ugh!

On a more happy note, I really enjoyed the magical aspects of the story, it was fascinating and it was very original. A nice breath of fresh air from the usual. Despite there not being as much of this “magic” as I would have liked it worked. I don’t have anything bad to say about it really.

I do recommend this book if you’re interested in stories set in Japan/ Asian countries, original magical ideas and an action packed novel that is a little gut-wrenching.

[Series Review] Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa

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To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.
Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.
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Overall rating: 4.5 stars.

You’ve probably thought already that you will never have anything to do with stuff involving vampires again. The topic has been exhausted over and over again and yet the genre still isn’t dead, it truly is an immortal genre in fiction. Its safe to say that Twilight has essentially made the genre go into overkill, and the influx in vampire novels since Stephenie Meyer’s success haven’t really been of any significance. With the exception of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, who’s series could be deemed a success even with the flop in box office of the movie. Even with Anne Rice’s books, and of course the classic Dracula, the genre has always been sought-after in popular culture. But it is obvious it is starting to get repetitive. Luckily, I picked up this series for a bit of fun not expecting all that much. I’ve read Kagawa’s previous Fey series and loved it, so I was eager to give her other books a try. So, so, so glad I did. Not going to lie, I think this might be my favourite Vampire series. I do have a soft spot for vampire books, and I’ve read a lot of them. Although none have really stuck with me. This trilogy is epic. It deserves hype.

The Blood of Eden series centres on the character of Allie, who struggles to survive with everyone else in a post apocalyptic world which has been ravaged by disease, and which has been taken over by vampires using humans as cattle. Allie refuses to become a blood-bag so has to scavenge for food on the outskirts of the walled city. The walled city which keeps out the imminent death which awaits on the other side.
There seems to be a popular craze at the moment for apocalypse/dystopian style books so I suppose there was evidently going to be an attempt to incorporate this into the vampire genre.  It is a good mix. This series certainly brings back a lot of the “dark and disturbing” to vampires, that has been very lacking in the past 10 years. It was thoroughly enjoyable and kind of scary at times!

The characters were all very interesting. Although I do think that some of the “companion” side characters had very stereotypical personalities. But the main character Allie is worth reading this series for alone.  A very strong character that really develops throughout the three books. There are good and bad sides to her character but honestly? Thats what makes a great character in my opinion. Her voice in the books is enthralling and certainly makes you want to keep reading.
I was very fond of Kanin’s character and I wish we could have seen even more of him in the series, I think his character could have been build on a lot more than he was. Jackal’s character was a little frustrating at times but he did bring a lot of dark humour to the story that made me laugh numerous times. Zeke was a good character, but in The Forever Song I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with him even a little annoyed.

Overall, the only thing stopping me from giving this series a full 5 stars are problems I have with the side characters. Otherwise, I would recommend this series to anyone that has lost faith in the Vampire genre and anyone with love for the gory! This is a trilogy I would certainly read again.

[Update] I’ve finished my degree!

Okay I’ve barely posted a thing over the past few months but guess what?! That is at an end! Well, until October that is. Now that I have handed in my last assignment for university, I am free till October when I start my Masters degree. So that means that I will be catching up on all the reading I haven’t been able to do over the past 4-5 months and writing reviews for the books I have read but haven’t posted about yet. FINALLY!! 

Can’t wait to get started. 

Outcast by Adrienne Kress

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After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.
Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is. 
He thinks it’s 1956.
Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.

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Rating: 4 Stars.

After reading Angelfall by Susan Ee, I have been incredibly eager to read more “Angel” books to check out if there are any other books just as fantastic as it. Outcast was a very pleasant surprise, I actually wasn’t expecting a great deal from this book. I thought the synopsis basically told the entire story, and the length of the book (300+ pages) didn’t really indicate that something spectacular was going to happen. I need to stop thinking like that. 

This book was actually thoroughly entertaining, and I read it in a day. I could not put it down, even though the plot line was pretty predictable throughout. But for me, this didn’t matter, it didn’t take anything away from the book there were a few surprises that I was not expecting. The writing was very good and I was quite taken with the main character Riley very early on in the book. One more thing I enjoyed about this book (which is sort of similar to Angelfall, but a little less so) is how creepy it was a times. It was just captivating. Also, the ending was a little bit of a roller-coaster ride, and I can’t believe I am okay with what happened, which I think is the best way to feel about an ending that was pretty damn heart-wrenching. 

I think there are various aspects of Outcast that might make people weary about picking it up, especially the religious aspect to it. Now I am an Atheist, but I’ve always had an interest in people’s religious beliefs and this book is very big on the religious front. It was really very interesting to read about this town’s responses to ‘The Taking’ and “angels”, because it is realistic in a sense that something like this probably would happen if these were the circumstances. But I’m not sure how people who have more religious backgrounds than me would take this book. So if you’re religious and thinking about picking this up then I warn you! 

There were also aspects of the book that I thought were very unrealistic, which is why I am giving it 4 stars. For example, the lack of curiosity from people in the town about Gabe. No-one really questioned why he was there and Riley’s parents literally just let him stay with them without questioning him about who he was and where he came from. The same with the town, a town which is constantly watching every little thing that happens there, and which basically ignores Gabe’s arrival. It doesn’t really fit with how Kress has portrayed the town. Also, Gabe’s lack of curiosity about what happened to him really bugged me and really didn’t suit his character at all, it was very unrealistic for someone from 1956 to suddenly wake up now with no curiosity as to what happened to him within that time… Whaaaat?! 

But other than that, I really think this is a book worth reading and it’s a shame it isn’t more well known. Hopefully in the future it will gain some of the recognition is deserves. It was a very enjoyable book, and I find it hard to think that someone could dislike it. 

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 
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I’ve only really got into poetry in the past year or so. But I believe I have loved this poem all my life, I can’t even remember when I first read it. It’s so beautiful. 

Top 10 Favourite Disney animated films

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I’ve been a bit obsessed with everything Disney lately so here is something I though I would do considering I haven’t been reading very much lately and therefore have been posting regularly. Not in any kind of order, other than for the top 3.

10. The Princess and The Frog

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I’m actually not a big fan of the Disney Princess films. I don’t know whether this is because I never watched them when I was little, but I’ve only watched most of them in the past few years and I honestly don’t care much for them. However, I do have a soft spot for those that have come out in recent years. I remember reading the fairy tale of the princess and the frog when I was little it was one of my favourites, so when this film came out I was super excited. It didn’t disappoint.

9. Hercules

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Honestly? I’m only really including this because of the character of Hades. Who cannot love him?! Such a great character! So so funny. This film makes me laugh every time I watch it.

8. The Rescuers

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I owned this on VHS when I was a child and its a film that used to scare the crap out of me… but I loved it. I honestly think this is one of Disney’s most underrated movies. It really is fantastic. Its such a horrible and yet lovely story.

7. The Aristocats

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Who doesn’t love this  one? I’m pretty sure this film started my love for cats. There isn’t anything in this film I hate. The scenes with the geese were my favourite and still are!

6. Pocahontas

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A film I watched for the first time about 2 months ago, and I curse myself that I didn’t watch it sooner. My favourite part of this film is the song Colours of The Wind, which I have to say is probably the best Disney song ever. I’ve played it over 150 times already on my itunes. I also like seeing stuff about Native Americans.

5. Lilo and Stitch

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Aliens, Hawaii, Elvis, Bubbles, and more aliens… There isn’t really much else to say. Such a great concept, and another film that I’ve watched over and over again, probably to the point where I can recite it.

4. Bambi

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I was probably the most innocent child ever over this film. I didn’t realise Bambi’s mother died until I was around 15. Just a little ashamed that I was so oblivious… This film is obviously a Disney classic and I don’t really need to go into any detail over why its one of my favourites do I?!

3. Tangled

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Rapunzel is my favourite princess hands down. Maximus us probably the greated animated animal every created. Eugene… well… ;)
Such a brilliantly funny film, with an incredible soundtrack!

2. Mulan

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Shang is probably my favourite male Disney character. *drools* (is it weird to fancy an animated character?!)
Anyway, love Mulan, even without Shang in the film it would be one of my all time favourites. I always love stories where women have to disguise themselves to get what they want, and this is a classic.

1. The Sword in the Stone

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Hmmm, where to start…
This film has so many memories for me. I remember crying with laughter with my friends in the scenes where they turn into squirrels. I also remember I used to watched it nearly everyday, I’m pretty sure it drove my mum crazy. I believe this film is also my brother’s favourite Disney film, so its something we have in common. And on top of that, I LOVE Arthurian legends! If I had to pin point the time when I became interested in everything historical, watching this film nearly everyday would be it. This film is so so so underrated, I barely ever hear people talk about it which is a shame, as it is ridiculously good.

Hope you enjoyed my list, and don’t forget to comment with your favourite Disney films!