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Stage Dreams

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In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor--also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk--robs the stagecoach that Grace In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor--also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk--robs the stagecoach that Grace has used to escape her Georgia home, the first thing on her mind is ransom. But when the two get to talking about Flor's plan to crash a Confederate gala and steal some crucial documents, Grace convinces Flor to let her join the heist.


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In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor--also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk--robs the stagecoach that Grace In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor--also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk--robs the stagecoach that Grace has used to escape her Georgia home, the first thing on her mind is ransom. But when the two get to talking about Flor's plan to crash a Confederate gala and steal some crucial documents, Grace convinces Flor to let her join the heist.

30 review for Stage Dreams

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    This was super quick and charming and I liked it a heckin' ton. My heart!

  2. 5 out of 5

    chan ☆

    my name is chandler ainsley and it has been 0 days since my last cry i really didn't expect an auto- download graphic novel from netgalley to get me in my feelings but here we are. it's a hundred pages of wild western goodness with a trans woman main character and a POC woman main character and it was just so fucking cute. no transphobia or homophobia AT ALL in here and the relationship that developed was just so damn cute. i went in to this with no expectations which i think enhanced my enjoyment my name is chandler ainsley and it has been 0 days since my last cry i really didn't expect an auto- download graphic novel from netgalley to get me in my feelings but here we are. it's a hundred pages of wild western goodness with a trans woman main character and a POC woman main character and it was just so fucking cute. no transphobia or homophobia AT ALL in here and the relationship that developed was just so damn cute. i went in to this with no expectations which i think enhanced my enjoyment of this. it is VERY short so if you're looking for tons of character development or a slow burn romance you're going to be disappointed but if you're just looking for a f/f good time this is fantastic. HIGHLY recommend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "Man, there really aren't enough queer AF westerns in the world, are there?" (I have!), let me tell you, Stage Dreams is everything you've been looking for. It follows the heist of a Native woman and her new captive-turned-friend, a lovely trans southern belle escaping her father's wishes that she join the Confederate army. While the story takes place during the Civil War, not much of it actually focuses on that element; primarily, we're here to watch two If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "Man, there really aren't enough queer AF westerns in the world, are there?" (I have!), let me tell you, Stage Dreams is everything you've been looking for. It follows the heist of a Native woman and her new captive-turned-friend, a lovely trans southern belle escaping her father's wishes that she join the Confederate army. While the story takes place during the Civil War, not much of it actually focuses on that element; primarily, we're here to watch two ladies break into a party, steal a map, and fall in love in the process. It's cute, it's heartwarming, the art is lovely, and I enjoyed it so much. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    A cutesy story about a trans person named Grace who's kidnapped by a Latin stage coach robber named Flor. They eventually decide to rob some rich robber barons at a cotillion who are preparing to take the Civil War even more Westward. This is only the first volume and the main plot just starts as this ends. Most of the book is prologue establishing the characters and their personalities. As a cutesy, queer, historical romance, this works. However, as a historical novel itself, people are way too A cutesy story about a trans person named Grace who's kidnapped by a Latin stage coach robber named Flor. They eventually decide to rob some rich robber barons at a cotillion who are preparing to take the Civil War even more Westward. This is only the first volume and the main plot just starts as this ends. Most of the book is prologue establishing the characters and their personalities. As a cutesy, queer, historical romance, this works. However, as a historical novel itself, people are way too accepting of both gay women and trans people for this to feel realistic. That aspect of the book feels glossed over to keep the story positive. The colored pencil art works very well for a Western. Received a review copy from Lerner and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    I read a few reviews for this graphic novel across the blogosphere and was interested in it, especially because I’m always on the lookout for new discoveries. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a western, so I decided to give it a try. As it’s just 100 pages long, I didn’t expect a lot of plot or character development, just something fun - and it totally delivered on that aspect. Grace is a trans southern belle running from her family because she doesn’t wanna fight in the war and has dreams of her I read a few reviews for this graphic novel across the blogosphere and was interested in it, especially because I’m always on the lookout for new discoveries. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a western, so I decided to give it a try. As it’s just 100 pages long, I didn’t expect a lot of plot or character development, just something fun - and it totally delivered on that aspect. Grace is a trans southern belle running from her family because she doesn’t wanna fight in the war and has dreams of her own, while Flor is the stylish queer Latinx outlaw who robs stagecoaches and wants to save money for a secure future. Though Flor kidnaps Grace, they eventually settle on a plan to work together and what follows is a cute adventure of their own where they discover some truths about themselves and develop feelings in the process. This story is hella cute and sweet, and so full of acceptance that it made me very happy. The art style is also very unique, and while I didn’t know anything about how colored pencil art would work for a graphic novel, it’s perfect here. The color palette and style feel very appropriate for the dry New Mexico setting, while also giving out a cutesy vibe. And I especially loved the cotillion gowns. Finally, I just wanna say that if you love westerns or queer graphic novels, you should definitely check this one out because it’ll leave you with a big smile on your face. Just go into it without any expectations and ready to have a rollicking time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    The ARC of this graphic novel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Stage Dreams is a little western graphic novel set in New Mexico. It’s basically the story of Flor, a Latinx outlaw that everyone knows as Ghost Hawk, and Grace, a trans runaway. The two girls crash a Confederate gala and steal an important map but the real plot of this book is the love story that blossoms between the main characters. The illustrations are in colored pencil and even though The ARC of this graphic novel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Stage Dreams is a little western graphic novel set in New Mexico. It’s basically the story of Flor, a Latinx outlaw that everyone knows as Ghost Hawk, and Grace, a trans runaway. The two girls crash a Confederate gala and steal an important map but the real plot of this book is the love story that blossoms between the main characters. The illustrations are in colored pencil and even though it’s not my favorite I found them nice anyway. I really wish there was more to read, I found the book a bit too short.

  7. 5 out of 5

    jess ❈

    Received Stage Dreams through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I picked up this graphic novel because of Chandler Ainsley on YouTube, and she made it sound so enticing and fun! Which it definitely was! Stage Dreams is a Western graphic novel set in New Mexico, featuring a wlw relationship and a main character who is trans. I love that diversity rep! Which is the main reason for my adoration of this book honestly. The characters were definitely nice to read about but when a graphic novel Received Stage Dreams through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I picked up this graphic novel because of Chandler Ainsley on YouTube, and she made it sound so enticing and fun! Which it definitely was! Stage Dreams is a Western graphic novel set in New Mexico, featuring a wlw relationship and a main character who is trans. I love that diversity rep! Which is the main reason for my adoration of this book honestly. The characters were definitely nice to read about but when a graphic novel takes twenty minutes to read as it's only 100 pages long, there isn't going to be much development in it. You go in probably knowing that. I do wonder if there will be more added to the story, and I hope there is! Generally it feels like it's left open and there isn't much of a plot. These two women meet after Ghost Hawk 'kidnaps' her but then they go on an adventure together and then moves onto something cute and lovely. I don't read much graphic novels so my review on them probably isn't great and doesn't have much in terms of content. I did like the art, which were drawings rather than high-en graphics! I felt like it added something into the story though, it helped the atmosphere and made the book enjoyable. I think if it were digitally created, it would have changed a lot of the graphic novel!

  8. 4 out of 5

    La Coccinelle

    That's it? Um... okay. (Maybe there's going to be a sequel or something. I sure hope so. Because this is not a complete story at all.) While I appreciate the intent of this graphic novel, I'm not sure it worked for me. I had a similar issue with it that I did with Jen Wang's The Prince and the Dressmaker: believability. The issue isn't so much people believing Grace is a girl; there are plenty of examples throughout history that show that it isn't impossible. However, in this book, I felt like I That's it? Um... okay. (Maybe there's going to be a sequel or something. I sure hope so. Because this is not a complete story at all.) While I appreciate the intent of this graphic novel, I'm not sure it worked for me. I had a similar issue with it that I did with Jen Wang's The Prince and the Dressmaker: believability. The issue isn't so much people believing Grace is a girl; there are plenty of examples throughout history that show that it isn't impossible. However, in this book, I felt like I had to suspend disbelief about the attitudes. Lip service is paid to the difficulties trans people might have faced (within their own families, mostly), but the ease with which everyone around Grace accepts her (despite the fact that she's drawn with fairly male-looking features in some parts of the book) just doesn't seem right. Like in The Prince and the Dressmaker, the reader seems to be expected to believe that historical attitudes toward trans and queer people were better--more accepting--than they are today. While I'm sure there were some people who would accept folks just the way they were, I kind of doubt it was the norm... and books like these seem to be glossing over what must've been some difficult (and potentially dangerous) times for those with differing gender identities. The story (what there was of it, anyway; it seemed to end just as it was getting going) is fine. The illustrations are kind of neat, too. They're done with coloured pencil, which gives everything a dreamy sort of look. I wouldn't mind reading another book about Flor and Grace (if there's going to be one), because Stage Dreams didn't really satisfy my hankering for a good story. I guess we'll see if the plot continues at some point... Thank you to NetGalley and Graphic Universe for providing a digital ARC.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    What an absolute delight of a graphic novel! I found this on a list of queer releases for the second half of the year and when I went to Netgalley and saw that it was Read Now, I picked it up immediately and I don't regret it one bit. This is about a trans woman who gets kidnapped by a queer Latinx woman and the two end up working together. It's really, really cute, both the art and story and while this style might not be my favourite, I thought it fit the story incredibly well. It was really What an absolute delight of a graphic novel! I found this on a list of queer releases for the second half of the year and when I went to Netgalley and saw that it was Read Now, I picked it up immediately and I don't regret it one bit. This is about a trans woman who gets kidnapped by a queer Latinx woman and the two end up working together. It's really, really cute, both the art and story and while this style might not be my favourite, I thought it fit the story incredibly well. It was really lovely to read a story with two queer main characters in a Western adventure with there being absolutely no trans- or homophobia. On the contrary, even with the trans character being out to some people in the story, they didn't treat her any differently. And guess what, it didn't read unrealistic in any way, it was just feelgood. I'd highly recommend this wonderful graphic novel, it made me smile so much and I hope we get more of these two! ♦ Booktube Channel ♦ Twitter ♦ Instagram ♦ I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Gillman

    I had to draw a bunch of horses for this book, and despite that I STILL like it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Pretty darn good LGBTQ+ western, but it seemed to introduce more concepts and potential storylines than this slight volume was able to pull off. Since it cannot be magically twice as long as it already is, I'd definitely like to see a sequel that could more fully address all the stuff Gillman brings up in their endnotes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    A queer western graphic novel is something I never knew I needed. What an adorable read. In only one hundred pages, Gilman made me shed tears four times. Stage Dreams follows the adventure pursued by trans southern belle captured by a heist pulling POC woman. Saying anymore than that would spoil this beautiful story- so go ahead and read it! The illustration is visually stunning. There is no transphobia or homophobia present, and in all honesty reading this gave me hope for a future where we A queer western graphic novel is something I never knew I needed. What an adorable read. In only one hundred pages, Gilman made me shed tears four times. Stage Dreams follows the adventure pursued by trans southern belle captured by a heist pulling POC woman. Saying anymore than that would spoil this beautiful story- so go ahead and read it! The illustration is visually stunning. There is no transphobia or homophobia present, and in all honesty reading this gave me hope for a future where we accept those as they are. The only reason this is not a five star read for me is that it seems slightly rushed. I am hoping for a sequel in the future! I will definitely be purchasing upon release date. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erin Cataldi

    Queer. Western. Graphic Novel.... Have I drawn you in yet? Relatively short for a graphic novel; Stage Dreams tells the story of a trans deserter who is kidnapped by an indigenous woman and her hawk. When Ghost Hawk realizes that Grace is trans, she isn't upset; in fact the two start to work together to steal maps and gold along their way to California. What neither of them expected was to start falling for each other. A super short, charming story that looks wonderful in colored pencil rather Queer. Western. Graphic Novel.... Have I drawn you in yet? Relatively short for a graphic novel; Stage Dreams tells the story of a trans deserter who is kidnapped by an indigenous woman and her hawk. When Ghost Hawk realizes that Grace is trans, she isn't upset; in fact the two start to work together to steal maps and gold along their way to California. What neither of them expected was to start falling for each other. A super short, charming story that looks wonderful in colored pencil rather than the usual color of graphic novels.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Devann

    I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley actual rating 3.5 This was very cute although I really wish it had been a bit longer because everything seemed to move very fast and was a bit bare bones. Still, the art was the cute and the story was cute and it's nice to have a fun historical romance with lgbtq characters that just allows them to exist instead of focusing the entire story on how miserable they must be because ~historical accuracy~. I would definitely read a volume two if they I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley actual rating 3.5 This was very cute although I really wish it had been a bit longer because everything seemed to move very fast and was a bit bare bones. Still, the art was the cute and the story was cute and it's nice to have a fun historical romance with lgbtq characters that just allows them to exist instead of focusing the entire story on how miserable they must be because ~historical accuracy~. I would definitely read a volume two if they are planning one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Stage Dreams is a fun graphic novel that is a Western adventure centering the lives of people who have traditionally been on the fringes of or excluded from this part of history. A Latinx outlaw kidnaps a woman who turns out to be a trans runaway and they team up in this fast-paced story. Stage Dreams is thoughtful and includes fascinating notes about real trans people in history who are often erased from our conception of what things were like. My main complaint with this is that it's too Stage Dreams is a fun graphic novel that is a Western adventure centering the lives of people who have traditionally been on the fringes of or excluded from this part of history. A Latinx outlaw kidnaps a woman who turns out to be a trans runaway and they team up in this fast-paced story. Stage Dreams is thoughtful and includes fascinating notes about real trans people in history who are often erased from our conception of what things were like. My main complaint with this is that it's too short. I liked it, but I wanted a little more plot than what we got. That said, I think it's well-worth picking up and has a great message about how many parents really just want their children to be safe and happy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    I was sent an eARC of this graphic novel through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. "To our queer and trans ancestors. Far too many of your stories were lost, but we remember you." If that isn't a heartwarming dedication, I don't know what is. First off, I absolutely loved the characters. I haven't read many books in a historical setting featuring queer characters, and I especially haven't seen a lot of transgender characters represented in a historical setting. The characters were both I was sent an eARC of this graphic novel through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. "To our queer and trans ancestors. Far too many of your stories were lost, but we remember you." If that isn't a heartwarming dedication, I don't know what is. First off, I absolutely loved the characters. I haven't read many books in a historical setting featuring queer characters, and I especially haven't seen a lot of transgender characters represented in a historical setting. The characters were both really lovable as well. Unfortunately, the story itself, and especially the setting and the dialogues surrounding the political situation, really confused me. That's probably mainly me, because I'm not American and I just don't know have a lot of knowledge about this time period. But I still feel like the context could have been made clearer. It was very helpful to get a little more background info at the back of the novel, though! Aside from this, this graphic novel is rather short, and to me, it felt like it was cut off rather abruptly. I loved the romance aspect of the novel, but as far as the plot goes, I don't think it was really finished or resolved or anything like that. I did absolutely love the art work though. The characters were all so distinctive, and I loved the muted use of colours as well. Rep: f/f romance, trans MC, brown queer MC, several black side characters

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dana Cristiana

    2.5 stars I would love to thank Melanie Gillman, Graphic Universe and NetGalley for this book in exchange of an honest review. I think this is the first queer book I've ever read and it wasn't bad at all! But the story wasn't exactly my taste. I really liked Flor a.k.a. Ghost Hawk and how she befriended Grace. The characters are really cute, but the story was confusing most of the times. I'm not really into western books but I love graphic novels so I thought givng this a chance will make me 2.5 stars I would love to thank Melanie Gillman, Graphic Universe ™ and NetGalley for this book in exchange of an honest review. I think this is the first queer book I've ever read and it wasn't bad at all! But the story wasn't exactly my taste. I really liked Flor a.k.a. Ghost Hawk and how she befriended Grace. The characters are really cute, but the story was confusing most of the times. I'm not really into western books but I love graphic novels so I thought givng this a chance will make me change my mind about westerns, but it didn't. But if you love westerns, I totally recommend this book! It talks a little about history and again, the characters are really sweet and determined! You would definitely enjoy it! The book comes out on 3rd of September, so keep an eye on it!

  18. 4 out of 5

    ♛primadonna♛

    Grace & Flor FTW.! The history lesson at the end on transgender people who thankfully weren't completely erased from history like so many were, the inclusion of speaking about two-spirit people, speaking about how there were some southerners who were against the war but still pro-slavery, all the famous Civil War spies who were women and were successful in part thanks to so much rampant sexism, all helped push this to a 5 star review.! I need a #2 so I can continue to follow their wonderful Grace & Flor FTW.! The history lesson at the end on transgender people who thankfully weren't completely erased from history like so many were, the inclusion of speaking about two-spirit people, speaking about how there were some southerners who were against the war but still pro-slavery, all the famous Civil War spies who were women and were successful in part thanks to so much rampant sexism, all helped push this to a 5 star review.! I need a #2 so I can continue to follow their wonderful love story.! My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher and the author through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

    I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. (psst, this is currently on "read now"!) This comic is set in the Wild West and it's a fun, heisty story about a trans woman who gets kidnapped and ends up working together with her kidnapper, who is a queer Latinx woman. The style of the comic is cute although maybe not a personal favorite, but I love the color scheme and how it fits the scenery, and the facial expressions I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. (psst, this is currently on "read now"!) This comic is set in the Wild West and it's a fun, heisty story about a trans woman who gets kidnapped and ends up working together with her kidnapper, who is a queer Latinx woman. The style of the comic is cute although maybe not a personal favorite, but I love the color scheme and how it fits the scenery, and the facial expressions are so good! This first volume is divided in a few chapters and I assume it's going to be the first in a series, because the story is by no means done. There's no cliffhanger though, and it's satisfying as a standalone too, until the next one comes out. So! Heist, Wild West, badass women falling in love while having adventures! Get on it!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carla Riemer

    Stage Dreams delivers queer historical fiction with a hefty dose of adventure. The narrative of this beautiful graphic novel is brought to life with warm, engaging color pencil illustrations. The back matter annotations enhance the story with historical context as well as the contributions of POC and trans people during the civil war. This fun read is a first purchase for most libraries serving young people.

  21. 4 out of 5

    karli

    3.5/5 stars! I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I've only read one western before and it also included a woman who isn't your normal woman of the 1800s, a lot like Flor, but I liked this one waaaay more. Flor was so cool and actually badass, no one had to tell me she was. Then Grace was such a nice character. I loved having a story about a trans woman in this era. And then their adorable romantic tension. So cute! I just wish there was more, honestly. I would've like to see even maybe one more 3.5/5 stars! I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I've only read one western before and it also included a woman who isn't your normal woman of the 1800s, a lot like Flor, but I liked this one waaaay more. Flor was so cool and actually badass, no one had to tell me she was. Then Grace was such a nice character. I loved having a story about a trans woman in this era. And then their adorable romantic tension. So cute! I just wish there was more, honestly. I would've like to see even maybe one more scene developing their relationship. Overall, really liked it and cool rep!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate Buechler

    This was like a queer outlaw My Fair Lady situation. Plus, I learned historical things! Fun Fact: Coat hangers weren't invented until 1869.

  23. 4 out of 5

    geena ✨

    i was provided a digital arc by NetGalley. enjoyed this, lots of good moments but historical fiction in this setting is not my forte.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mehsi

    I received this graphic novel from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. OMG, I was just squeeing in delight when I saw this graphic novel pop up on Netgalley. Not long before I spotted it I was fangirling over a tweet about it by the artist who I follow on Twitter. I was already planning on reading this book so I am extra delighted that I can read it so soon. Not having to wait until September. Though now I have another problem… I need more of this. This was just the cutest, adorablest (if I received this graphic novel from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. OMG, I was just squeeing in delight when I saw this graphic novel pop up on Netgalley. Not long before I spotted it I was fangirling over a tweet about it by the artist who I follow on Twitter. I was already planning on reading this book so I am extra delighted that I can read it so soon. Not having to wait until September. Though now I have another problem… I need more of this. This was just the cutest, adorablest (if that is a word), sweetest, and most fun graphic novel in a long time. Meet Grace, a trans runaway who loves dresses and hopes to become an actress. She was just so sweet and I loved her from the start. I felt for her, that she saw no other option than to run away from her family. It was that or enlisting and no one wants that (well, OK, some people may want it). She wants to be her own person, she wants to be herself. I feel there may be trouble brewing for her given the time period, but for most of this book it seems that most people are either accepting (the tailor whom I am sure knows that Grace is not a girl biologically) or Grace is amazing at being a girl, she has the talk she has the walk and she got a gorgeous dress. Flor? I loved her as well, maybe not as fast as Grace, but quite soon I could see she was a sweet, adventurous girl who happens to be an outlaw. 😛 Yep, Flor robs people and steal stuff. With the help of a hawk she is known as the Ghost Hawk. Whereas Grace is quite feminine, Flor is more tough and tomboyish. I do love myself a well-written tomboyish character, and Flor is all that and more. I also love how accepting she was of Grace. Many people wouldn’t have been so accepting, but Flor. Flor is totally fine with the way Grace is. I loved the sparks that flew between Grace and Flor and I was shipping them as crazy. They just had something, sparks and chemistry that made me want to see them share some sweet and romantic moments. The heist, the adventures, and oh yes the goat, it was all terrific fun. Before I knew it the book was over and I was just prodding my screen to get more story. 😛 The art is fabulous, I loved the character designs, but also the backgrounds are just wonderfully done. As I expected! All in all, this is one LGBT graphic novel I would highly recommend. Sweet moments, fabulous characters, the great Wild West, heists, and more! You won’t be disappointed. Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Featuring two queer heroines forging their own paths in the Old West, this graphic novel is a fun and thoughtful adventure romance. Grace is a trans Georgian belle (sans money) escaping service in the Confederate army when she meets Flor, a queer Latinx lady bandit. It's a meet-disaster that turns into a working relationship when Flor realizes that she can't ransom Grace. Then as the two of them work together to uncover a Confederate plot, their relationship turns into something more romantic. Featuring two queer heroines forging their own paths in the Old West, this graphic novel is a fun and thoughtful adventure romance. Grace is a trans Georgian belle (sans money) escaping service in the Confederate army when she meets Flor, a queer Latinx lady bandit. It's a meet-disaster that turns into a working relationship when Flor realizes that she can't ransom Grace. Then as the two of them work together to uncover a Confederate plot, their relationship turns into something more romantic. The whole thing is adorable. Gillman's signature colored pencil artwork is perfect for the setting, rich in dusty desert hues and bright pops of color on clothing and blushing cheeks. The characters themselves are rendered with honesty and care, with Grace's soft, sweet face sometimes sporting a bit of a 5 o'clock shadow and Flor's propensity for wearing men's clothing matching her prominent nose and devilish grin. Annotations at the back of the book provide historical details and context, as well as insight into why Gillman made certain narrative choices. What makes this book an absolute keeper, however, is the way that queerness both drives and doesn't drive the story. Grace's flight is why the two women meet and comes into play when she's seen by her father at the Confederate gala, but her gender is accepted by everyone as fact, especially by Flor. There's no lengthy angst-filled coming out, but we do get a gentle and funny scene in which both women are being fitted for formal gowns. (Flor tries to keep her falconry glove on while wearing a fancy dress.) Overall, this is a fun, action-filled western adventure with a strong romantic plot and a big middle finger to the Confederate cause. Suzanne received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz Yerby

    A perfect story and I wanna force kids to read it. Melanie has so many tools in their toolkit, their signature style, great writing (especially dialogue), and its really impressive! I could read a lotta their work and not get bored but I would also love to see them branch out and try out new tools for their toolkit, or see a book of them trying a different style.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nostalgia Reader

    A fun adventure/spy story set during the Civil War era in the US and encompassing an excellent amount of “lost” history. I don’t recall ever learning about the Confederate plans to take over part of the Arizona Territory and use it to get to the gold and ports in California to further their mission, and this was an awesome introduction to the topic. Grace, a trans runaway from the South, and Flor, a stagecoach robber, make a great team as they go undercover to steal Confederate secrets and pass A fun adventure/spy story set during the Civil War era in the US and encompassing an excellent amount of “lost” history. I don’t recall ever learning about the Confederate plans to take over part of the Arizona Territory and use it to get to the gold and ports in California to further their mission, and this was an awesome introduction to the topic. Grace, a trans runaway from the South, and Flor, a stagecoach robber, make a great team as they go undercover to steal Confederate secrets and pass them on to the Union. While I loved Flor, Grace was truly the badass in this story and grew as a character. I would love to see more stories with these two characters and their adventures, see how they grow more as characters and as a couple. The illustrations were lovely–it wasn’t particularly my favorite style, but they were excellent nonetheless, especially the landscapes. I loved the washed out color scheme, as well as the textured page look (echoing leather or rough cardstock), which fits perfectly with the Western setting. Gillman provides a few pages of excellent annotations at the end of the book, explaining the history they incorporated into the story. Any thoughts I had of only rating this 3.5 stars at first was boosted up to 4 due to this little section (although I do wish there’d been a bibliography of suggested readings, but I’m interested enough in the topics covered to search things out on my own). Highly recommended for anyone who loves history, especially queer history, or just a fun spy/covert adventure! Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy for review! (Cross posted on my blog.)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This graphic novel wasn't on my radar until I got the digital galley from NetGalley (by the way, it's currently under the "Read Now" section), but I am so glad I picked it up! Stage Dreams tells the story of a Latinx outlaw, Flor to her friends and The Ghost Hawk to her foes, and her friend (and former captive) Grace, a trans girl who has run away from home to escape enlistment into the Confederate army, as they attempt a heist at a Confederate ball. This story has everything you could want in a This graphic novel wasn't on my radar until I got the digital galley from NetGalley (by the way, it's currently under the "Read Now" section), but I am so glad I picked it up! Stage Dreams tells the story of a Latinx outlaw, Flor to her friends and The Ghost Hawk to her foes, and her friend (and former captive) Grace, a trans girl who has run away from home to escape enlistment into the Confederate army, as they attempt a heist at a Confederate ball. This story has everything you could want in a short and sweet western graphic novel with an explicitly queer element: The illustrations are beautifully done, all hand-drawn and colored gorgeously with colored pencil; Gillman's style is very unique and lends itself well to the genre. The representation is well done (as far as I can tell, as I am not Latinx or a trans woman, but I am queer); it is wonderful to see such a visibly trans character on the page, and I enjoyed how Flor's character is so brazen, especially about her womanhood, which contrasted nicely to the more subdued Grace. My personal favorite character is Luis, the tailor who helps Grace and Flor dress for the heist, and whose specialty is tailoring clothes for trans people (as implied in the story). Each of the main characters was precious, and I enjoyed seeing their growth in the book. I would like to see a sequel, especially so I could see if the relationship between Grace and her father improves, and I would also like to see if she ever gets to pursue her acting dream in California. The only criticism I can find of this book is that at times it felt like it was a little too fast-paced. Things wrapped up fairly quickly at the end, but there were a few loose ends that didn't get tied, so I am curious to see how those are handled if there is a sequel. Otherwise, I will be disappointed because I won't find out what happens! Overall this was a precious queer western that was fluffy and sweet, but still had enough action to keep me on my toes. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    Review also posted to my blog. content warnings: racism, violence, implied transphobia representation: trans sapphic main character, latinx sapphic main character, interracial f/f main relationship “Besides—one lick of talons and these silk gloves would be torn to shreds! And I couldn’t bear damaging anything so fine.” Hey, do you love westerns but wish they weren't so historically inaccurate with all those straight white dudes sauntering around?? Well then this might be the graphic novel for you! Review also posted to my blog. content warnings: racism, violence, implied transphobia representation: trans sapphic main character, latinx sapphic main character, interracial f/f main relationship “Besides—one lick of talons and these silk gloves would be torn to shreds! And I couldn’t bear damaging anything so fine.” Hey, do you love westerns but wish they weren't so historically inaccurate with all those straight white dudes sauntering around?? Well then this might be the graphic novel for you! This adorable graphic novel follows a trans girl as she decides to join forces with a latinx outlaw to fuck over the confederacy. I frigging love westerns and the fact that they're so full of cishet white dudes has always frustrated me, especially because that just wasn't the case. Most cowboys were people of colour and a lot of them, even if they weren't actually queer, were more than happy to shack up with a fellow cowboy for the night. So I'm loving that we're getting more stories that don't focus on the cishet white dude cowboys, especially when they focus on ladies. As I said, this is adorable. The two lead characters, Grace and Flor, are so endearing. Grace has run away from home to avoid conscription and has dreams of becoming an actress in California, and Flor is an infamous outlaw who kidnaps Grace thinking she can ransom her. Upon learning she can't the two decide to team up, and maybe they fall in love along the way. I can definitely see this being too short for some (it's only 104 pages and there's no word on whether there's going to be more in this world) but I didn't mind. If it were longer it might've managed to get a five star, but I still absolutely loved each and every one of those 104 pages. The art style, characters, plot and writing all sucked me in immediately, and I would definitely recommend checking this out when it comes out in September. I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Madhu MaBookYard -

    This story follows two of our characters Grace and Flor, their unexpected acquaintance and how they deal with the society and their own feelings as well. Thankyou Netgalley for providing me with the review copy in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own and is not influenced in any way. First of all, I picked this book up because Chandler Ainsley was talking about this on booktube and I was intrigued. The fact that this book has a cis and a trans character as main focus is making me This story follows two of our characters Grace and Flor, their unexpected acquaintance and how they deal with the society and their own feelings as well. Thankyou Netgalley for providing me with the review copy in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own and is not influenced in any way. First of all, I picked this book up because Chandler Ainsley was talking about this on booktube and I was intrigued. The fact that this book has a cis and a trans character as main focus is making me really happy! This is my first time ever reading a queer graphic novel and my expectations were set high. Second, I don't know what it is, but I am really drawn to the art style this book has! It looks like a pencil shading first draft, but it has so much character to it and I really liked it. I think this can be categorized as a f/f relationship since both our main characters identify themselves as females. Now coming to the actual storyline. I would say this was a really simple yet a cute portrayal of our characters plotting something they shouldn't be doing, and getting caught. It was fun to read and it also dealt with discussing topics on self discovery and how the society views people who does not fit a standard they have set. It was really refreshing to read about the struggles anyone goes through when they feel like an outcast even in their own skin. With all that being said, this book had so much potential to discuss about what the characters want, how they feel about themselves and their own identity. But to my opinion it was not what I expected it to be and it was slightly disappointing. It was in no means bad, but not what I expected since it had so much potential. It's a very short graphic novel with a heist plot, but could have done better with how the dialogues went. Overall, I am really glad I picked this book up, it was really fun, cute and a refreshing read. If you want to pick up a queer graphic novel with diverse main character representation, definitely give this one a try. I think you will enjoy it !

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