Graphic Novel Review of “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang

Stats

  • Paperback 
  • 288 pages
  • Published February 13th, 2018 by First Second
  • Original Title The Prince and the Dressmaker
  • ISBN162672363X (ISBN13: 9781626723634)
  • Edition Language English

Awards

  • Harvey Awards for Best Children or Young Adult Book AND nominated for Book of the Year (2018)
  •  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2018)

About

From the publisher, “Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart”

My Thoughts

This book follows the story of two main characters, The Prince Sebastian as he comes to terms with who he is and what he enjoys doing. Sebastian enjoys dressing up in beautiful woman’s clothing. Francis is a talented dressmaker and Sebastian’s best friend that creates works of art for him to wear. Together they explore friendship and navigate what it means to love someone unconditionally.

I fervently wish that books like this existed when I was a preteen/teenager. I think that if I have had access to literature of this quality and subject content, maybe the world would have not seemed so strange and foreign when I left my protective bubble as a child and became an adult. Not only is this book well written and beautifully executed, but it is also an important subject because people are people, no matter how small… how they want to dress, or how they see themselves.

“My whole life is other people deciding what’s acceptable. When I put on a dress, I get to decide what’s silly.” 

This book primarily deals with being different and how people will love you an except you given half the chance. The prince is a crossdresser, he likes big and beautiful dresses, specifically those of a seamstress that he has befriended. Together they form a partnership based on friendship and eventually love. This story is the perfect blend of sweetness, authenticity, joy, sadness and ultimately love overlayed with Jen Wang’s gorgeous illustrations.

Even though this book is marketed to teenagers and young adults, I whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone. It is beautifully done, and a short read. You won’t be disappointed in it’s content.

January Wrap up!

January was one of the biggest writing months I have ever had, but in terms of self-care I decided to only post 5 days a week instead of 7. 7 is overkill and you lovely people out there will get sick of me.


What I Read

I had some definite highlights this month: Never Die, The Post, Vigilance, and in an Absent Dream were some of the best books I have read in a long time. I got my horror on for some fabulous spider fun, and also made quite some progress on the Goodreads best graphic novels list.


Book Haul

Netgalley

Some exciting times ahead of me, although not all these books will be done in Feb, a few of them will. Be on the lookout!

Author ARC

I got a whole bunch of publisher and Author ARC’s this month. It was so exciting to get book mail and/or email.

Here is a few of them:

Be looking for reviews coming up on some of these!

Have you read any this month? What was your favorite?

Meet the Blogger Tag

The lovely Danielle at The Reading Closet said I should get involved in this, so here I am! Here are ten things you did not know about me:

  1. My name is Elizabeth, but I go by Beth. I live with my husband in Portland, Oregon. I have 1 dog who I swear is actually a cat and a wonderful hellion of a daughter.
  2. I have a degree in Landscape Architecture and worked as a landscape designer for many years on parks and hotels. Pretty much everything you can think of.
  3. Aside from my insane love of books, I love gardening. Like, love love love. Part of the reason I became a Landscape Architect in the first place. I even have my Master Gardner.
  4. I am also a lover of lists. If you look at my blog I have a list section, there is where I am systematically chipping away at all the great conical lists. It is slowwwww.
  5. I did a stint in the Americorp in my early 20’s and taught wildland fire education. I worked with Native Americans in various reservations on how to reduce wildfire on their land. Americorp is like the American Peace corp.
  6. I lived in Italy for 3 months as a student. I lived on a working vineyard, it was rough…so so rough
  7. I can juggle really well
  8. I speak basic German. Probably the equivalent of a 6-year-old. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut. Ich arbeite daran. I am not even sure if I wrote that right lol.
  9. I am what is called anosmic. I have little to no sense of smell. My husband has hypersomia. Which is a increased sense of smell. Him and I make a weird pair when smelling things.
  10. I was raised in Las Vegas. No, I never lived in a hotel. yes, Las Vegas is a lot like the movies on the strip. But it is a huge and rather boring city for miles in all directions with a population of just over 2 million people. It is weirdly boring and during the summer is very akin to living on the surface of the sun. Ever had a burn from a seat belt buckle? I have.

My tags! I would love to get to know fellow bloggers. Paul at Paul’s Picks

Linda at

Fear is the Mindkiller in Dune by Frank Herbert


About

From the publisher, “Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the Imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the ‘spice’ melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

Published in 1965, it won the Hugo Award in 1966 and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world’s best-selling SF novel.”


Stats

  • Paperback 604 pages
  • Published June 1st, 2006 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published June 1st, 1965)
  • Original TitleDune
  • ISBN0340839937 (ISBN13: 9780340839935)
  • Edition Language English
  • Series Dune #1, Dune Universe #10

Awards

  • Hugo Award for Best Novel (1966) 
  • Nebula Award for Best Novel (1965) 
  • Seiun Award for Best Foreign Novel (1974)

My Thoughts


“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” 

Dune – Frank Herbert

It is hard to figure out what kind of book Dune is. First, let’s classify what Dune is not. Dune is not easy; it is not the kind of sci-fi book that tells you about something, or how to feel about the story. Dune shows you what the Sands of Arrakis look like, and it shows you how they feel under your feet, and you can hear the sandworms crashing through the red hot sand if you listen close enough. That is the magic of Herbert’s writing. It isn’t flashy, and you might feel like it is a little bit dated — you blasphemer. But, the world building is so good that Dune helped define what epic science fiction is. We are here today in storytelling because of stories like Dune that came before us.

The plot is complicated, but summed up Dune is the story of the rise of Paul as a religious leader and savior of the Planet Arrakis causing the fall of the human emperor of the galaxy 10,000 years into the future. Humans have raced towards all corners of the universe, colonizing habitable planets. Arrakis is a colonized small desert planet plentiful with a valuable drug resource called Melange. Melange is the drug of choice for the rich and elite of the galaxy. The powers that be want the drug and control of the planet. Paul, the son of a powerful family house, seeks refuge with the desert people of the planet. There he discovers his innate powers and matures into the religious leader and figurehead of the Sand people. Plus ecology, how religion affects the masses, and familial drama.

The compelling thing about Dune is not the world-building, which is impressive, or the storyline, which is detailed, it is the social commentary. Maybe some people do not want a dash of social commentary with their sci-fi, but I do. Books that have the extra layer of writing and thought always stay with me as a reader and linger for years. Dune talks about feminism, ecology, power struggles, and family… so much. If you haven’t read it, do it. First, watch the hilarious 1980’s movie, get that out of your system, then go read the book. I highly recommend it. I mean, it’s Dune, what else can I say?

Guest Post – Review of “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” by Lynn Truss


Stats

  • Paperback
  • 209 pages
  • Published April 2006 by The Penguin Group (first published January 2nd, 2003)
  • Original Title Eats, Shoots and Leaves
  • ISBN1592402038 (ISBN13: 9781592402038)
  • Edition Language English

About

From the publisher, ” A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

So, punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

Now, we all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in e-mail, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.

In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with. “


Thoughts


“The rule is: don’t

use commas

like a stupid person.

I mean it.” 


 Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Well, I’m home. I have to say that this hospital stay was definitely more pleasant than my last. Tina snuck me in a pastrami sandwich, and that made all the difference. To be honest, I think she was feeling guilty about the whole Harry Potter debacle. I reassured her that it was mostly not her fault, and I think she felt better. And I “borrowed” this book from the hospital library (actually just a cart, but that’s what they call it) on my way out, so at least I’ll have something tangible to show for my ridiculously overinflated hospital bill. When Truss is done with her grammatical vigilantism, maybe we can set her loose on the health care system. Oh, and I also made off with a pair of those hospital pants they give you – perfect for lounging around the house with a book. Just put my trousers on right over them and walked out like I was in Shawshank Redemption. See ya suckers!

In any case, I appreciate someone who can get worked up in righteous anger over things most people think are silly (no, not you, Trump), and so I must admit to having a little punctuation crush on Ms. Truss. And of course, I imagine her rantings with a great British accent as well, because only a British person could write this book. There simply aren’t people in America who care enough about English to do it! If we are a melting pot of culture, we are a Vitamix of language. We just dump it all in and destroy it! We make up words like hangry, bromance, and chillax. We have literally destroyed the word ‘literally.’ And America is the land where grammar goes to die. It doesn’t help that everyone has a cell phone, and “talking” now means texting, which people have no patience for, so all text conversations look like a bomb went off in an alphabet soup factory. But even when we are speaking, we have pretty much given up. No, Gerry, you don’t shop at Kroger’s. The store is called Kroger. There’s no one in there named Kroger, and it is not his store. If you must know, Kroger is owned mostly by Cerebus Capital Management, who happen to bankroll a bunch of jackass politicians, but I understand that you need your discount cottage cheese, so no judgment.

Meanwhile, it felt wholly satisfying to find someone as ready as I am to get pissed off about commas. Walking around these days is subjecting yourself to an assault of syntax no matter where you go. The examples are myriad, but I will summarize the inanity of the status quo with a sign I saw on a bathroom that read, “For disabled elderly pregnant children only.” And as much as I was moved with sympathy for the poor kids who also happen to be disabled, old, and with child, I was even more sad for the irretrievable state of affairs of our language that made them that way.

But maybe, just maybe, if everyone reads this book, we can salvage something. But I doubt it.

If you would like to read more of Angry Old Man Book Reviews, you can find him here:

Twitter – @AOMbookreviews

Website – http://www.angryoldmanbookreviews.com/

Check him out!


About The Author

Lynne Truss is a writer and journalist who started out as a literary editor with a blue pencil and then got sidetracked. The author of three novels and numerous radio comedy dramas, she spent six years as the television critic of The Times of London, followed by four (rather peculiar) years as a sports columnist for the same newspaper. She won Columnist of the Year for her work for Women’s Journal. Lynne Truss also hosted Cutting a Dash, a popular BBC Radio 4 series about punctuation. She now reviews books for the Sunday Times of London and is a familiar voice on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Brighton, England

Novel Review of Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

About

From the author, “Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight-year-old boy to render the judgment of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from storybooks read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war. “

Stats

  • Kindle Edition
  • 274 pages
  • Expected publication: January 29th, 2019 by Rob J. Hayes
  • Original Title Never Die
  • ASINB07K7WM7TP
  • Edition Language English

My Thoughts

Mark Lawrence, the author of the grimdark series “Broken Empire,” said this of Rob Hayes’s writing ability, “(he) is one of self-publishing rising stars,” and he is unquestionably right. This story is the epitome of fantasy; it pits dark against light, has epic fighting scenes, heroes that are not quite perfect, and a subtle undercurrent of rye humor. Everything that makes a fun fantasy story.

“She whispered a prayer for those she slain, knowing full well the stars were deaf, and those men didn’t deserve it anyway.”

Never Die by Rob Hayes

“Never Die” is centered around Ein. A boy who is not quite right and has been sent on a quest from God, a death God and Ein’s mission to succeed the mysterious and powerful Emperor of Ten Kings must fall. Also, to succeed in his quest Ein must walk barefoot across the cities, mountains, and rivers of the countryside and never don footwear. He must also select champions from myth and legend to fight the Emporer for him, and these champions must die first so that their souls are tethered to Ein.

“I’m not most

children he said

somberly.”

Excerpt from Never
Die by Rob Hayes

The champions are where Hayes really excelled in his story writing. Often when reading fantasy characters, an author tends to muddle together different character tropes to be some kind of quasi trope hybrid and usually they are similar from story to story. That isn’t the case here. First of the champions is Itami Cho, AKA Whispering Blade the fastest and quietest warrior in the kingdoms. A spoken word from her can shatter walls and tear apart bodies. Secondly, Emerald Wind is a bandit who is a real self-centered bastard of the story. He is able to blink in and out of existence moving from place to place often popping behind enemies to pierce them through their back. I find that his unabashedly disreputable character is refreshing and adds an excellent counter-balance to Itami Cho because not all heroes are good people. Thirdly we have Iron Gut Chen. He has an impenetrable skin and an impenetrable ego. He needs to consume massive amounts of wine to be happy and reminds me of a jolly sumo wrestler. Lastly, Bingwei Ma rounds out Ein’s literal dream team. Bingwei is the greatest living master of wushu ever to live. He uses no weapons and has never lost a fight.

“Sorry. I am still learning

how to use a needle.

Flesh is quite different to

cloth.”

Excerpt from “Never Die”
by Rob Hayes

As you can see, this is a team of heroes not cut from the traditional cloth. Each also has a weakness: one is good but tortured in the case of Ikami, One is gregarious but full of himself in the case of Chen, and you have one that is chaotic with a streak of goodness, buried deeply in Emerald wind. Bingwei Ma does not know how to lose and has never left his valley, his issue is gullibility. During the journey of the story, there is the day to day peril of existing. Not enough food to eat or angry villagers punctuated with bouts of violence and battles. This keeps the frenetic pace of the story plausible and comfortable. Hayes knows as a writer how vital pacing is, that the slow moments in a story are just as important as the wild crazy ones. As these heroes move towards their overall goal of slaying the Emporer, I found myself cheering for this band of miscreants and heroes. Will they succeed in their quest? Will they tear themselves apart first. Can Ein keep the band together through the threat of not giving them a full life again? The questions are answered beautifully in the denouement of the novel. It takes the reader to places that I had no idea where coming. I absolutely loved and appreciated the ending.

I am new to the worlds of Rob Hayes and his wonderful fantasy novels. But I am sure as hell going to stay around and make myself comfortable. If his other books are one-tenth as good as this one is, I am in for a treat. Come for the story of “Never Die” but stay for the heroes.

Procurement

eARC provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.

Quotes are taken from eARC and may be different upon publication.

About the Author

Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as he was old enough he started playing with swords… OK, wooden sticks.

At the age of fourteen he started writing but, like most fourteen-year-old boys, everything had to be either a vampire, a werewolf, or have superpowers. Thankfully, like most fourteen-year-old boys, he eventually grew up… a bit.

After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey, Rob ran away to live on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.

When he’s not madly scribbling his next epic, Rob has a variety of hobbies that, unsurprisingly, are fantasy themed. He regularly plays card games based on the A Game of Thrones and the Netrunner universes and attends tournaments throughout the UK. Rob also enjoys Airsofting: the act of running around a forest with fake guns shooting (being shot by) his friends.