Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker

The Prince and the Dressmaker The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent story, and although I am NOT a graphic novel fan, the writing is what kept me poring over the pages. A dressmaker with grand dreams meets a cross-dressing prince with his own, possibly grander, dreams of fashion, and the pair has a wonderful friendship, which eventually falters when the dressmaker realizes that by supporting the prince's dreams, she is not fulfilling her own... Layers of meaning and pathos, this richly illustrated story turn inside-out the fairytales about princes and wayward maidens. There is an emphasis on acceptance, friendship, and family love. There was a quiet scene where the dressmaker and the prince might have kissed... but they don't - and the soft, poignant moment captures a myriad of emotions, which, due to the lack of words, allows the reader to make their own interpretation of their relationship at that point.

With all that being said, being that I prefer words for details, the lack of written words and descriptions left me a little unsatisfied. In general, it's a strong, fascinating story and I would be willing to read her next novel... despite the graphic novel approach. ;)

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: The Steep & Thorny Way

The Steep & Thorny Way The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I was prepared to be unimpressed with the very frank and bold connections to Shakespeare's Hamlet (a writer's ploy to wow his or her readers, I thought), I was pleasantly surprised and ultimately enjoyed this version of the Shakespearean plot very much!

The writing was smooth and fluid; the characterizations were a tiny bit shallow with the limited perspective of Hanalee, the main character, but the storyline, although borrowed, kept me engaged from beginning to end. The surprising placement and setting, 1920s Oregon; the twist of characters with the involvement of the KKK and a biracial young lady altogether combined for a heady story which left me saddened and satisfied.

I even accepted the ghost involved!

I can hardly wait to read her other books!

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Review: Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean

Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean by Brett Archibald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an incredible story of strength and faith in humanity. It was beautifully written in a powerful, raw way and although I know the ending, it didn't stop me from being enthralled by the horror-stricken tale of a man, adrift alone on a furious ocean. The writing was surprisingly good. The emotional powerhouse of this experience will never leave you.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: The Tiger's Child: What Ever Happened to Sheila?

The Tiger's Child: What Ever Happened to Sheila? The Tiger's Child: What Ever Happened to Sheila? by Torey L. Hayden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story might be unbelievable. Sadly, it's based on a true story. Torey Hayden's brutally honest account of her experience with an emotionally, sexually and mentally abused child makes for a painful page-turner.

I cheered for Torey as her long-standing dedication and sustaining love brought the child out of the darkness, and the story should have blossomed with hope and golden lilies. Yet as life would have it: there were twists and turns out of that dark place.

Although this is apparently the second (and last) account of the story of Sheila, I pray she continues to find her place in this world and I am thankful that her heart has been healed a little bit by the dedication and love from Torey, her teacher.

God bless and keep you both.

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Review: Wringer

Wringer Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this would appeal to 9 and 10 year olds. The story is interesting. The inner conflicts the main character suffers about friendships and gaining the respect of his peers is believable. The father figure in the story had more potential as a figure of interest due to his dramatic change - which occured without much exploration.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stars is not a bad review; I want to remind you that it means that I "liked" it.

I didn't "really like" it because I do not think graphic novels are appealing to me. I don't often read them so it was an adjustment to be able to follow the story.

I DO think it was an excellent format for this story, as it presents this world through the eyes of a child. In a group discussion about the book, we came to an interesting conclusion: the illustrations - to a degree - prevent you from personalizing the story too much by limiting your own imagination, which keeps the story completely owned by Satrapi. This is a good thing. It is her personal story. If it were words-only, my imagination might have added to the narrative and diminished its authenticity by forcing her voice to speak through my own interpretation, rather than how she would present it.

I think it would be a good introductory book for a course or discussion on the politics of these middle eastern countries.

I caution adults who might assume - due to its cartoon style - that it's appropriate for all ages. There are swear words, images of torture and spilled blood, dismemberment, and in one scene, the mother in the family is threatened with rape, and is told women like her (who don't wear the veil) should be "f**ked against a wall and thrown into a trashcan". However, I believe certain young people could handle the story, so it would depend on that person.

There are instances of humor, which provide a little levity to the dark story and keep a sense of hope alive. For example, one child shows off by saying that her dad spent "more time" in jail than her friend's dad, and thus, she was the coolest one in the crowd. In the opening scene, our main character imagines she is a prophet, like any child who pretends to be a cowboy or a movie star. She carries conversations with God, and when she is angry with him, she stops talking to him and pouts.

This is an important book and if you choose to read it, thoughtfully, it will broaden your mind and change you as a person. You won't be able to hear the news reports of the skirmishes in Iran/Irag without feeling the pain for their people.

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