Review: Brontë

Title: Brontë
Author: Manuela Santoni
Genre: Graphic Novel, Biography
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë–faced with an ailing father and an alcoholic brother–pursue independence through art in this graphic vision of the lives of three legendary writers.

Despite their family’s stormy fortunes, the Brontë sisters resolved to write. To thwart the nineteenth century’s double standards, they took the names of men, becoming the Bell brothers. Their works incited controversy and speculation, while at home, the sisters contended with the rages of Branwell Brontë, their self-destructive sibling. Manuela Santoni presents a time before Jane EyreWuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were known as literary masterpieces, when winds shook the Brontë house and determination held it together.

Review:

Emily, Anne, and Charlotte Brontë are three famous sisters who wrote in the 1800s. They had to look after their aging father and their alcoholic brother, while trying to make a name for themselves. The sisters ended up publishing under male pen names before revealing their identities.

The Brontës had tragic lives. They lost their two oldest sisters and their mother before they were ten years old. All of the siblings died as young adults, under the age of forty. Their brother, Branwell, was addicted to drugs and alcohol, so his sisters had to look after him as well as their father. I read a few reviews of this book and many people criticized it saying that it was so tragic and inaccurate. Some of the timelines may have been changed to fit into the story, but the Brontës did lead lives full of tragedy, which was reflected in their gothic novels.

The illustrations in this graphic novel were in black and white. The images were simply drawn without a lot of detail. I would have liked to see more detailed drawings. However, the simplicity and harsh black lines reflected the dark nature of the lives of the Brontë family.

I enjoyed this graphic novel biography of the Brontë sisters.

Thank you Graphic Universe for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Manuela Santoni

Why She Wrote by Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman, and Kaley Bales (illustrator)

Have you read Brontë? What did you think of it?

Review: Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers

Title: Why She Wrote A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers
Author: Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman, Kaley Bales (illustrator)
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In Why She Wrote, dive into the fascinating, unexpected, and inspiring stories behind the greatest women writers in the English language.

This compelling graphic collection features 18 women—including Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Anne Lister, and more—and asks a simple question: in a time when being a woman writer often meant being undervalued, overlooked, or pigeonholed, why did she write?

Why did Jane Austen struggle to write for five years before her first novel was ever published? How did Edith Maude Eaton’s writing change the narrative around Chinese immigrant workers in North America? Why did the Brontë sisters choose to write under male pennames, and Anne Lister write her personal diaries in code?

Learn about women writers from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, from familiar favorites to those who have undeservedly fallen into obscurity, and their often untold histories, including:

• The forgotten mother of the gothic genre
• The unexpected success of Little Women
• The diaries of the “first modern lesbian”
• The lawsuit to protect Little Lord Fauntleroy
• The personal account of a mastectomy in 1811
• Austen’s struggles with writer’s block
• And much, much more!

Why She Wrote highlights a significant moment from each writer’s life and retells it through engaging and accessible comics, along with biographical text, bibliographies, and fun facts. For aspiring writers, literary enthusiasts, and the Janeite who has everything, this new collection highlights these incredible women’s hardships, their influence, and the spark that called them to write.

• GREAT GRAPHIC NOVEL FOR ALL AGES: Librarians and teachers recommend graphic novels for readers of all ages, especially beloved nonfiction titles like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, Sisters, and Guts. Immerse yourself in the stories of these fascinating women through the fun, approachable, and dynamic medium of the graphic novel!
• CELEBRATION OF WOMEN WRITERS: Want to read more books by historical women writers, but aren’t sure where to start? The stories and bibliographies of the women featured in Why She Wrote is an inspirational deep dive.
• OVERVIEW OF WOMEN’S HISTORY: Add it to the shelf alongside other collections of women’s history, including Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky, Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu, and Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall and A. D’Amico.

Review:

This nonfiction book tells the stories of 18 famous women writers, including Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Beatrix Potter, and Louisa May Alcott. Every section had written biographies which were followed by a graphic novel depiction of part of the author’s life. Each little biography described their writing careers. These included why they started writing and any controversy that their books caused.

Feminism was a popular theme in these biographies. Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the featured authors, and she was one of the first women who was called a feminist. Their status as women was often what drove their passion for writing. Some authors, such as Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote to bring her family out of poverty. Others, such as Anne Lister, weren’t popular in their time but became famous years after their death.

As a writer, I found the publishing history of these authors fascinating. Jane Austen sold her first novel for £10, which was a fortune to her. Louisa May Alcott received a percentage of royalties from Little Women, which made her and her family famous. After Beatrix Potter published her books, she spent her time searching for the bootleg merchandise that was sold with her characters names on them to protect her brand. These women all had such different publishing experiences, but they all had to work very hard to have their voices heard.

This was such a fun set of author biographies!

Thank you Chronicle Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, Júlia Sardà (illustrator)

The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell

Have you read Why She Wrote? What did you think of it?

Review: Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen

Title: Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen
Author: Laura Brennan
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 30, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Elizabeth I is arguably one of the greatest monarchs and women of English history. Against an uncertain political and religious backdrop of post-reformation Europe she ruled at the conception of social modernization, living in the shadow of the infamy of her parents reputations and striving to prove herself an equal to the monarchs who had gone before her.

This book seeks to explore some of the key events of her life both before and after she ascended to the English throne in late 1558. By looking at the history of these selected events, as well as investigating the influence of various people in her life, this book sets out to explain Elizabeth’s decisions, both as a queen and as a woman.

Amongst the events examined are the death of her mother, the role and fates of her subsequent stepmothers, the fate of Lady Jane Grey and the subsequent behavior and reign of her half sister Mary Tudor, along with the death of Amy Dudley, the return of Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland, the Papal Bull and the Spanish Amanda.

Review:

This book talks about important events that shaped Queen Elizabeth I’s life. These include the marriages of her father, Henry VIII, her feud with Mary Queen of Scots, and her battle with King Philip I of Spain.

I was disappointed that this book showed things that happened around Elizabeth, rather than her actual life. The book is supposed to be about events that shaped her life, but there was not much reference to Elizabeth’s actual life. The explanations of how these events affected Elizabeth’s life were quite short compared to the long descriptions of what happened. Almost the entire first half of the book was about Henry VIII and his wives. He was Elizabeth’s father so he greatly shaped her life, but she didn’t live with him at that time, so she wasn’t actually present for most of the book.

There was also a lot of the author’s opinion in the book, rather than just stating the facts. There were many parts where she talked down to the reader. For example, she said that people used paintings to see what other people looked like because they didn’t have cameras. If you’re reading this book about Tudor England, it’s presumed that you know they didn’t have cameras hundreds of years ago. She didn’t need to talk down to the reader to explain things like that.

This was a disappointing book that talked about events that happened during the life of Elizabeth I, but not her actual life.

Thank you Pen and Sword for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory

Mary Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy

Have you read Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen? What did you think of it?

Review: Work it, Girl: Become a Leader Like Michelle Obama

Title: Work it, Girl: Become a Leader Like Michelle Obama
Author: Caroline Moss, Sinem Erkas (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.

Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack.

Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career. 

Review:

This children’s book is about Michelle Obama’s life. The first half of the book covers her childhood and young adult life. She was very focused on school and continued to follow her dream of going to Princeton, even when her school councilors said she wouldn’t get in. In the second half of the book, Michelle meets Barack Obama and they raise their family.

I didn’t know anything about Michelle Obama’s childhood, so it was interesting to learn about her. She is even more inspiring after hearing that she was discouraged from following her dreams, but succeeded anyway. This book has made me want to read her memoir, Becoming.

The books in this series are beautifully illustrated. The graphics look like cut out pieces of paper, layered to make pictures. That technique makes the pages look textured. The illustrations are brightly covered, which is uplifting.

I really enjoyed this book!

Thank you Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Work it, Girl: Blast Off Into Space Like Mae Jemison

Work it, Girl: Run the Show Like CEO Oprah Winfrey

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read Become a Leader Like Michelle Obama? What did you think of it?

Review: Kate: The Future Queen

Title: Kate: The Future Queen
Author: Katie Nicholl
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Hachette Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 31, 2015 (originally January 1, 2013)
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of William and Harry and renowned Royal Family news correspondent Katie Nicholl, comes the first in-depth biography of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Katie Nicholl, bestselling author and royal correspondent for The Mail on Sunday, gives an inside look into the life of the future Queen of England, Kate Middleton. Since becoming Duchess Catherine of Cambridge in 2011, Middleton has captivated royals fans around the world and now, Nicholl delivers the story of her early life, first romances, and love with Prince William. Nicholl will reveal new details on Middleton’s initiation into royal life and, of course, her first pregnancy.

Review:

This book is a biography of Catherine Middleton. It talks about her life from when she was a child to after she had her first son, Prince George.

I love reading about the royal family. There were some interesting facts about Catherine’s life, such as what she was like as a student. There were also some times where her life crossed with Prince Williams, before they officially met in university.

A lot of the stories are from old friends or anonymous sources. There were also parts that described things that Catherine said in private, or things that she thought, so I questioned the accuracy of those parts.

This is a good biography of Catherine Middleton, the future Queen of England.

What to read next:

Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne by Christopher Andersen

Meghan: A Hollywood Princess by Andrew Morton

Have you read Kate: The Future Queen? What did you think of it?

Review: Meghan: A Hollywood Princess

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Title: Meghan: A Hollywood Princess
Author: Andrew Morton
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Source: Purchased
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From Andrew Morton, the New York Times bestselling author of Diana: Her True Story, comes a revealing, juicy, and inspiring biography of Meghan Markle, the American actress who won Prince Harry’s heart.

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were set up by a mutual friend on a blind date in July 2016, little did they know that the resulting whirlwind romance would lead to their engagement in November 2017 and marriage in May 2018.

Since then, our fascination with the woman who has smashed the royal mold has rocketed. So different from those coy brides of recent history, Meghan is confident, charismatic, and poised; her warm and affectionate engagement interview won the hearts of the world.

In this first-ever biography of the duchess-to-be, acclaimed royal biographer Andrew Morton goes back to Meghan’s roots to uncover the story of her childhood growing up in The Valley in Los Angeles, her studies at an all-girls Catholic school, and her fraught family life-a painful experience mirrored by Harry’s own background. Morton also delves into her previous marriage and divorce in 2013, her struggles in Hollywood as her mixed heritage was time and again used against her, her big break in the hit TV show Suits, and her work for a humanitarian ambassador-the latter so reminiscent of Princess Diana’s passions. Finally, we see how the royal romance played out across two continents but was kept fiercely secret, before the news finally broke and Meghan was thrust into the global media’s spotlight like never before.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with her family members and closest friends, and including never-before-seen photographs, Morton introduces us to the real Meghan as he reflects on the impact that she has already had on the rigid traditions of the House of Windsor, as well as what the future might hold.

Review:

This is a fabulous biography of the newest member of the Royal family.

Meghan Markle has had a fascinating life. I think her new royal position will be perfect for her. It sounded like she was always torn between being an actress and having a job in  a humanitarian position. Now, she has had a successful acting career and can move on to this new role.

I liked reading about her family life as well. Though it has been somewhat dysfunctional, she has a stable life now. There were also a bunch of photos in the book, in two separate groups. The first group had photos of her recent life, from her time on Suits to her engagement with Prince Harry. The second group of photos were from her family and childhood. I believe these photo groups should have been in reverse positions, because the beginning of the book about her childhood was followed by more recent photos, while the chapters on her current life were followed by family photos of young Meghan.

I loved this biography. Andrew Morton is a great biographer, so I will definitely pick up more of his books! This book is a must-read for fans of the Royal family and Meghan Markle.