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review 2019-07-02 16:28
Out tomorrow
Princeless Vol 8: Princesses - Jeremy Whitley

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.


                There is so much to love about the Princeless comics, and this volume in the collections give us stories featuring Adrienne’s sisters and the goblins.  The sisters each get one story (though the twins have to share) and one story for the goblins.  The goblin story is the most direct comment on modern politics in the book – it is hard not to see Trump and Hilary on the stage.  The story will play on a different level for adult readers than younger readers.  The goblin story also brings back the Goblin Captain who aided Adrienne and Belinda.


                But the main focus of the collection are the Ashe citizens, and while the art, to my mind, isn’t as good as the artwork in some of the other volumes (hence a 3.5 star rating instead of a 4), it was wonderful that the other Ashe sisters got a chance to shine as while as moving the story slightly forward to the coming conflict that was set up at the end of volume 7.


                The first story features Alize and her Sphinx.  It is set in the past, so how Alize formed her community and met her husband is addressed. Then Angelica learns that she is more than just a pretty face by playing a game that looks familiar.  Angoisse learns that she doesn’t need a man, but just a focus.  The goblin story follows Angoisse’s story (which makes sense).  Then finally, the twins appear as they struggle to put aside sniping at each other long enough to help people.  In many of the stories, the Black Knight makes an appearance, tying the stories together in another way as well as pointing towards the future of the series.  Even in Angoisse’s tale where the Black Knight does not show up, there are hints that her adventure is connected to the larger issues playing out in the series.

                The particular strength of this volume is the different ways in which the princesses learn and become more secure in who they are.  Adrienne, who stars in the other volumes, is physically strong - she is not dumb – but her talent lies in the physical.  Here, in these stories, we have sisters whose talents are not the physical but that rest on a different type of learning.  Alize learns from books (and other teachers), the twins studied magic, Angoisse learns by studying human behavior, and Angelica by watching.  While the sisters who were more immature, gain more maturity in these stories, they don’t lose their essential selves.  Angelica might become more than a pretty face, but she also still loves fashion.  The great thing about Princeless is that strength is being shown in so many different ways, not just in terms of Adrienne and Devan, but, now, more fully in terms of each sister.  This putting worth on talents other than simply physical or looking beautiful is wonderful.


                The stories do feature humor.  The two funniest are Angoisse’s and Angelica’s.  Angelica’s story has some great descriptive phrases, and Angoisse’s makes excellent use of the Squint Spiderslayer and the Grimmorax.  The best line comes from the Grimmorax who asks Angoisse, “Are you telling me you want to be weaker so you can find a man who can protect?”  And when Angoisse answers in the affirmative replies, “Do you need me to explain how stupid that sounds?”.  In some ways, Angoisse’s story is the most powerful because she learns the value of herself.  The weakest story, maybe because it is trying too hard for laughs, is the story of the twins, though that makes excellent use of the magical knowledge.  Additionally, weak is a relative term for this collection.


                Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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review 2019-06-24 18:22
#7 in the Watkins Series
The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 7) - Phil Rickman
This is my favorite Merrily Watkins to date. It’s set in the Border country between Wales and England, it features an English castle with Tudor connections (Ludlow), and there is folklore, in particularly that of the ghostly kind.

Merrily and Jane start the book happy. Lol is moving in across the way, and while Jane will be going to uni or leaving home soon, things are pretty ho-hum. That is until there is a death in Ludlow and that is followed by another one. But they could be suicide, except Merrily knows the man who is a relative to two of the victims. Of course, she gets involved. But there is also the question of the Deliverance Office and how certain segments of the church want to shut it down. Then Lol starts to have problems because, well, some people aren’t happy about an ex-mental patient having a relationship with the vicar. He’s also nervous about an up-coming concert.
So, like most Watkins books there is a slew of things going on and part of the wonderment is seeing how they might, just might fit together.

I’ll admit that I was little lukewarm about the series when I started reading, but it has grown on me. There are several reasons for this. The first is that Rickman writes good women. His women are totally believable. They are not always talking about men. It’s true that Jane might be a little advanced for her age and that her relationship with her mother perhaps borders too close on friends, but reasons for this are given in the series. It isn’t just Jane and Merrily’s relationship that is wonderful, but it is also Sophie and Merrily’s, and Sophie’s and Jane’s. The women in the book don’t get upset or jealous simply because another woman is better looking or if their husband spends time with a woman. Their concerns are far greater than simply relationships.

There is also Rickman’s treatment of mental illness. Lol and a few other characters are either recovering from or in the midst of mental illness. The reasons for such illness vary. The important thing is that those that stigmatize mental illness are shown to be wrong. Jane thinks that Lol is damaged and sensitive and must be wrapped in cotton wool, and this is somewhat how she thinks about her mother. Yet, Rickman illustrates that mentally ill does not mean damaged. Both Lol and Merrily aren’t as damaged or as weak as Jane or they themselves might think. The development of Lol over the course of the series has been wonderful. Furthermore, in this volume, also illustrates the cost of mental illness on those who are family.

Lastly, there is Rickman’s use of belief. Jane and Merrily believe different things, but there is a respect for letting someone believe in what they wish. This is true of most of the characters. And whether or not there really was a ghost and to certain degree the mystery itself are left, if not unanswered, then to the reader’s choice. Rickman does not judge.
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review 2019-06-22 01:26
Out in Sept
Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change - Robin Stevenson,Allison Steinfeld
Disclaimer: I recieved an ARC of this book as a freebie in an order I had with Quirk Books.

This is a pretty good luck at the youth of people who became activists and some people who became activists as children. There are total of 16 main biographies as well as a total of 12 secondary mentions. For well known people, such as Rosa Parks, the focus in on thier childhood.

While the majority of people discussed are from the USA, the majority of the people discussed are people of color and women. If the book fails anywhere on representation it is having Helen Keller as the only person with a disability.

It is a children's book so the chapters about famous people - such as King - do not always include the assassination or killing of the person (in some cases this could be because of the person's fame). Hamilton's duel, for instance, isn't dealt with. Additionally, some more complicted aspects of the biographies are left out - such as (understandably) Hamilton's unfaithfulness to his wife and the 180 the woman who taught Frederick Douglass how to read did.

It's true that two of the entries feel a bit like a marketing move - these would be Emma Watson and Alexander Hamilton. Not to say what either did or does is not important, it just seems a bit off, especially in regards to Hamilton.

I really like the inclusion of Autumn Peltier - the First Nations member in Canada who focuses on clean and accesible water. Especially when today it seems as if people think the only child focuses on climate is the girl from Sweden - Greta Thunberg (this is not to diminish what she does). Additionally, Stevenson also presents Nelson Mandela's other names as opposed to just the one US citizens know.

The last section focuses on activists who influenced the world as children in recent years, and includes Iqbab Masin (and mentions his death). The book includes a bibliography section with child-friendly sources on the various people.

The only really weird thing was the illustrations for the Hellen Keller chapter. Overall the illustrations are great. The thing is in the Hellen Keller chapter, the illustrations of Keller keep showing her locking eyes with other people which is a bit strange. I'm not saying she should black holes where her eyes are or anything, but she keeps meeting people's gazes with her eyes.
Break Down (informal)
Main Biographies: 16
Male: 7
Female: 9
POC ; 11
Disabled: 1
USA: 11
South Africa, England, Pakistan, Canada : 1 each
First Nation/Indigenous: 1
Secondary People (mentioned after main chapters)
Total: 12
Male: 4
Women: 8
POC: at least 6
LGBT+ - 3
USA- 9
South Africa, France, India - 1 each
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review 2019-06-22 01:05
Good installment
Princeless Vol 7: Find Yourself - Jeremy Whitley

And back to form.

I love the story of the last sister - from her monster to her intelligence to her hair. I can't say the Black Knight reveal was all that surprising but both the knight and sister show Adrienne different ways, and the Sphinx asks a very important.

Devon's story is good too. It has the right about of drama and humor.

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review 2019-06-22 00:54
Perhaps the weakest collected volume.
Princeless Vol 6: Make Yourself Part 2 - Jeremy Whitley

Three stars because the main story was short and the side short, while good, the art work didn't quite match what the characters looked like in the main story.

I really like the sisters working together though. I loved that.

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