Thoughts on the Princess Diaries Series, 11 Years Later

This has been a strange year for reading. There are times when I’ve devoured books, and other times where I don’t read anything (except required reading) for weeks. I wanted to reread a series, more for comfort than anything else, and I decided to pick something other than the Harry Potter books, which I reread often. It had been a long time since I’d read the Princess Diaries series, and that’s what I picked.

At the beginning of the Bay Area lockdown, it was pretty difficult to get your hands on a physical library book, which left eLibrary options like ebooks and audiobooks. I decided to listen to the audiobooks, since I’ve only ever listened to the first 2 or 3, which are narrated by Anne Hathaway. The remainder of the series is narrated by Clea Lewis, who is not quite as engaging as Hathaway, but who nevertheless manages to capture some of the breathless charm of Mia’s voice.

If you haven’t read the book(s) or seen the films, here’s the summary: Mia Thermopolis is a normal (white, upper middle class) girl, growing up in Manhattan. She has regular problems like being terrible at algebra and generally not liking her appearance. She cares about the environment and her cat. Her mom is an artist and her friend has her own local public access TV show. One day, her dad tells her that he has cancer and can no longer have kids, making her, his illegitimate daughter, heir to the throne of a small European principality, Genovia. Shenanigans ensue. For 10 books. Basically there’s some major romance and the quest that Mia goes on to find where she belongs and what her purpose is beyond being a princess.

I think these books are still the light and frothy entertainment they were meant to be. The problem is that, unlike when I was 14, I no longer have any desire to be a princess. I also find Mia a little….self-centered. I didn’t feel that way as a teenager. Instead I felt that her problems were as big as mine (or bigger), and I definitely identified with her struggles with anxiety and depression (I still feel like this is the highlight of the series). However, I think that her very narrow world view keeps her from being a really empathetic character, which in turn diminishes my sympathy for her. She’s also frustrating. I have very little patience for her lack of awareness and the way she jumps to mind-boggling conclusions without seeking evidence or using any kind of reasoning. Of course, I feel that way about a book I’m reading right now that was written for adults, so maybe this is just a frustration with this character type. I prefer characters who are more introspective, logical, and self-aware. Otherwise, they venture very quickly into poor-me/why-me territory or are just totally beaten down, and that’s just not that fun.

However, I like that Mia struggles between her principles and her lived experience. This is totally relatable, and it forces Mia to grapple with her privilege–something I wish the series did more. In Princess Diaries IV 1/2: Project Princess, Mia volunteers with a Habitat for Humanity type of program to build houses for a family in a rural area. Never having experienced a wooded, forest environment, Mia romanticizes this experience before she goes since she loves the environment. She learns that this love does not extend to bugs, and not having clean drinking water, and sleeping on the ground. In a real way Mia is forced to experience something very different from the privileged environments that she grows up in and challenges her assumptions about the people who live there. I wish more of the series forced Mia out of her comfort zone.

Although Mia is a fairly liberal and progressive character, you can definitely tell that this series was written more than 10 years ago and that conversations have progressed around ideas of feminism (Mia is a feminist but has basically zero awareness of intersectional issues) and climate change. Whereas Mia is worried about whales and polar bears, today I am worried not only about widespread extinction but also massive forced migration from rising sea levels, food insecurity, massive climate events like fires and hurricanes, the evils of plastic and our lack of real recycling–generally the prevention of a Wall-E level planet destruction. I also feel like Mia mostly helps the environment by donating money rather than on the ground activism, but maybe this is an unfair feeling because she does try to make policy decisions that help the environment and uses her celebrity to talk about these issues.

Reading this series was deeply nostalgic for me, but I have to admit one of my biggest takeaways was how glad I am not to be a teenager any longer. I do not miss how overwhelming all my problems felt. What I’ve come to appreciate about reading is that we (hopefully) come across books when we need them and that not every book stands up to a new phase of life. And that’s okay. Even if one of my favorite teen authors is no longer my favorite author–it doesn’t mean that the experience of reading those books as a teen has been diminished. It’s not that the books have changed or were less good than I thought they were, it’s just that I’m a different person now than I was when I first read them. Honestly, that’s probably a good thing.

Have you reread a book recently? Do you feel the same way about it now that you did the first time? Let me know about your rereading experiences/your thoughts on the Princess Diaries in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Where are they now? Children’s and YA Characters I’d Like Epilogues For


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about childhood characters we’d like to revisit in their adult years.

I think it is fair to say that I was a bit obsessed with Meg Cabot as a teenager. I read almost all of her series and owned the majority of her YA books. When she released Royal Wedding last year, I knew I had to revisit the series so that I could have Mia’s teenage years firmly in mind when I went back to read about her as a grownup. Needless to say it was awesome and I want more! So here are characters from my childhood I want to know more about as adults:


  1. Everyone from Harry Potter—So I know there’s an epilogue at the end of the last book, which gives you a pretty good idea about what happens next. But I want more details. Like Neville’s a professor, but has he found love? What’s a typical day like for Harry and Ginny? What shenanigans do the kids get up to? Do Hermione and Ron still bicker? These are important questions, people!
  2. Alice from Alice in Wonderland—Does she grow up to be as boring as her sister? Does she still live in her imagination? I want to know.
  3. Sam from Meg Cabot’s All-American Girl—Where do you go to college after you save the president? Are you destined for some type of diplomatic position or do you pursue your artistic dreams? I don’t think Meg Cabot will be releasing another book, but I’d settle for a short story.
  4. Mary and Colin from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden—I want to know how they keep up the garden, who they marry, and how their lives end up.
  5. Matilda from Roald Dahl’s Matilda—What do you do for a living when you can move things with your mind?
  6. Margaret from Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret—I mean, it seems like she’ll eventually end up a well-adjusted adult, but who can say?


Did I miss any characters from your favorite children’s books? Who would you like to see as an adult?

Baking for Bookworms: Crab Cakes from Meg Cabot’s Royal Wedding

IMG_3389.jpgI apologize for not having a picture of the crab cakes. I turned my back and they were gone. But I promise I will update this post with a picture because I plan on making these again very soon…

There are few proposals more tried and true than proposing over dinner. Princess Mia has gone through her fair share of craziness, but luckily she has her future prince-consort Michael who plans a special proposal complete with a ring in a glass of champagne (which always seemed like a problematic method to me, but I’m glad she didn’t swallow it or break a tooth on it as I always imagine people would do.):


“I did tell him that we are absolutely one hundred percent going to have to elope because there is no way I’m going through what William and Kate did on their wedding day. That was completely ludicrous. Sweet to watch on television if you weren’t there yourself, but the behind-the-scenes drama was insane.

He agreed.

Except a little while later, after we’d finished dinner—I have to admit, I was so excited and happy I could barely finish my shrimp pasta, though I did manage to polish off all my crab cakes and lemon sorbet in limoncello—and we were both in the hammock, looking for shooting stars (I do not think that last one was a satellite no matter what he says), he said, ‘My parents are going to be really disappointed if we don’t have a wedding.”               119


Meals take on special import when they’re centered around special occasions (where would cake be if not for birthdays and weddings?) and I love the simple, yummy meal Michael puts together for himself and his new fiancée. I also love that even the most serious moments for Mia area always injected with a kind of fun and appreciation for life.


Crab cakes are a very easy dish to pull off—usually the biggest problem is getting them to stay together in a cohesive patty. This recipe holds together and tastes great—even with imitation crab, which means this meal is budget friendly too. You can make this recipe dairy-free by omitting the cheese and yogurt in favor of 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.


Crab cake recipe adapted from Jo Cooks.



  • 8 oz crab meat (imitation okay)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp (more or less to taste) sriracha
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste (about ½ tsp each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, for pan frying


Combine all ingredients in a bowl except for the olive oil. Mix thoroughly. If mixture is too wet, add a little more panko, if mixture is too dry, add a little more mayo or yogurt.

Form into patties (I made about 10). In a pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook patties until golden brown about 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve with some sort of green vegetable or other dish of your choice (I made roasted veggies—I put whole mushrooms, a head of cauliflower—broken into florets, and a pint of grape tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. I drizzled them with olive oil, added a little salt and fresh ground pepper and some minced garlic. They roast for 20 minutes at 400F and are a lovely, simple accompaniment).


Is there a dish or treat that reminds you of a special occasion?

Baking for Bookworms: Sidecars from Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries


If there is anything I associate with The Princess Diaries series, it is the dowager princess, Clarrise’s penchant for sidecars. And who can blame her? This drink happens to be one of my favorites, too. And I definitely tried it because of these books. Mia is even quizzed on its correct recipe.

Of course, the drink would probably fit better in a tumbler, but Clarisse is always very adamant that sidecars are to be served in stemmed cocktail glasses. Though she would most likely disapprove of my glassware…

This sidecar recipe is very simple and is easy to adapt to your tastes.

  • 2 ounces brandy or cognac (cognac being the more expensive choice, but a good brandy will do)
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and serve straight up in the stemmed glass of your choice.

Brandy has more of a bite than cognac, so my suggestion is to use a bit less or up the orange liqueur. You can also adjust the lemon juice to taste or add a little honey or powdered sugar.

Has there ever been a dish or drink you’ve been inspired to try because of a fictional character enjoying it so much? Let me know in the comments.

Women Writer’s Reading Challenge #58: Abandon by Meg Cabot


I’ve probably mentioned before that I am a big Meg Cabot fan. In fact, I’m rereading all the Princess Diaries books now so that I can read the final book in the series (Royal Wedding), which just recently came out (this year? last year?). So when I found out that Cabot had written an adaptation of the Hades and Persephone myth, I had to check it out.

I’ll start off by saying that it’s not my favorite start of a series from her by a long shot. It doesn’t normally take her as long to get going, and I think this is partially because she doesn’t usually start off in the middle of the story and then hint like crazy at what happened in the beginning. Once she brings you into the meat of the story, things get more interesting, with an extremely good-looking Death-type character, and an atypical view of the underworld. It’s not a must-read like some of her books are, but it’s a start that leaves me wanting to read more. I recommend this book to any Cabot/myth adaptation fans.

Top Ten Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Female Authors

This calligraphy “Top Ten Tuesday” picture is free to use, but please give credit to Allison of Aliza Shandel. Your respectfulness is much appreciated!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from the Broke and the Bookish.

Since today’s topic was actually a freebie, I thought I’d do a list on the life blood of this year’s reading challenge, which is all about female authors. Making this list wasn’t as easy as I’d thought, as my true favorite author list would be a pretty equal combination of both male and female authors, so I had to broaden my favorites. This means that I went backwards in reading history, and selected authors that made my childhood/young adulthood come to life.

So here they are in alphabetical order:

Margaret Atwood: Atwood is a relatively new discovery for me, as I read her book The Handmaid’s Tale just before 2015 had begun. Her deft mix of social commentary and science fiction is not to be missed, and when she isn’t writing science fiction she has an amazing mastery of character and description that allow her to hop from genre to genre. One day I’d like to be able to write like her–just a little bit.

Jane Austen: Some people claim that music or sports or certain groups of friends got them through high school, but I certainly think Jane Austen receives a lot of thanks for getting me through that period of time. Each of her heroines give different insight in what it means to be a woman, what it means to be in love, and what it means to navigate through an unyielding social system. Beyond the romance, Austen makes her characters people and she gives them the chance to improve themselves.

Meg Cabot: This woman is simply inspiring in the sheer volume of her work combined with its total readability. Her characters are just insecure enough and just strong enough to conquer all of the bizarre challenges she throws their way. Cabot got me through middle school without a doubt, though she did plant an absurd idea in my mind that it was possible to suddenly find out you’re a princess…

Angela Carter: A new discovery of mine also from last year, I can already tell Carter and I are going to be very happy together. Her short story collection The Bloody Chamber was dark and magical and completely enchanting. Her fairy tale adaptations were nothing short of brilliant–innovative, but still capturing that grim and slightly gruesome fairy tale mood.

Emily Dickinson: I tried to keep this list geared towards novelists and not poets, but I couldn’t resist adding this one. Dickinson’s poems capture little microcosms. Her small poems cut right to the heart of the matter and the person reading them.

Gail Carson Levine: Levine and I go way back. I read Ella Enchanted and loved her. Her adaptations have so much light and hope and her heroines have so much gumption. Her books were mainstays in my childhood.

Sylvia Plath: There are some writers you wish you could be as brilliant as, and then there are some you knew you would go crazy (literally) if you attempted to emulate them. Plath is just scary dark and scary good. Her writing makes mental illness accessible–more human and more possible for the average person. If you haven’t read The Bell Jar, you really should.

JK Rowling: All Potter fans think they’re the biggest ones. My love of these books runs very very deep. I’ve read them countless times and I reread them every summer. They capture something that is very hard to explain. She really understands teenagers and the universe she creates is vast and so easy to see yourself living in. I think she’ll continue to capture hearts for years to come.

Zadie Smith: Can I just say I read a lot of good books last year? This is another author I’ve just recently found for myself. Smith’s writing is humorous, witty, poignant, and tight–she has such control over her narrative and her characters. She’s obviously fond of them, but she doesn’t let them get away with just anything. White Teeth is one of the most amazing first novels I’ve ever read.

Patricia C Wrede: Another mainstay of my childhood, Wrede is another of those fantasy authors I couldn’t put down, whether it was Sorcery and Cecilia (cowritten with Caroline Stevermer) or the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Her heroines were just so feisty and the stories were playful and gripping.

I think what you can tell from these books is that I love well written female protagonists, fantasy, and whimsy mixed with just the right amount of feminism, wit, and gothic sensibilities.

Do any of these authors make your favorites list? What is your favorite book written by one of these amazing women? Let me know in the comments.