Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.


But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
(Summary from GoodReads)


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How could I not pick up a book called The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue?  The title alone had me excited for this book.   Not only was Lee’s book absurdly fun to read, it dives deep into privilege and is an emotional read.
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Whether readers love or hate Monty, there’s no doubt that he’s a well-drawn character.  There are a decent number of marginalizations represented in this story pertaining to sexuality, race, and disability.  I can’t speak to how well any of these are portrayed, but I have yet to see reviews saying any of them were poorly done.  In addition to having a fantastic cast of characters, I love how Lee packs the anger and frustration into the story.  You can’t help but hate Monty’s father.  Monty is frustrating himself but in a very different way.  Lee gives us solid reasons to feel sympathetic towards him.  Some people will hate Monty’s lack of responsibility, recklessness, and debauchery, but it feels like he acts his age through the course of the novel  It helps that he actually grows over the course of the novel.  By the way, the sexual tension in this story is amazing.

Lee’s novel isn’t the fastest read ever.  There’s a ton of adventure packed into the pages, and Monty and his friends get into just about every sort of trouble imaginable.  I’m sure there are some readers who wonder how they could get into so many different types of trouble.  I think it worked for me because the stakes are so high.  Even when the novel does start to slow down, there are incredible amounts of sexual tension between Monty and Percy.  I wanted to smoosh their faces together the entire time I was reading.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is full of depth and substance and is an overall joy to read. It never feels as though Lee is trying to tackle too much.  The characters who are they are and because they don’t live in modern times, the way they recognize and handle their problems is understandable.  For me the ending of this story is perfect, and I’m even more excited because we get a book all about Felicity later this year.  Heck.  Yes.

Disclosure: A friend gave me an ARC of this book and I purchased a hardcover once it came out.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Top Ten Books Of 2017

Hey everyone!  As you all saw, I just shared my end of year survey last week.  I talked a lot about books I loved, books that disappointed me, and what I'm looking forward to this year.  Since I haven't been blogging as much lately, I wanted to take a second to share what my favorite books of the year were.  I haven't reviewed any of them yet and may honestly not write reviews of all of them, so I wanted to give them their own quick and dirty spotlight here.

1.)  The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

2.) A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab


4.) When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

5.) P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

6.) All's Faire In Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

7.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

8.) Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kremmerer

9.) Ghost by Jason Reynold

10.) Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Monday, February 26, 2018

End Of Year Survey: 2017 Edition


Hey all!  So I'm a bit late on this but I'm doing Jamie's end of year survey.  I know it's February but as I find myself reviewing less and just being behind on reviews, I love using this as a way to talk about my reading.  The graphics I'm using are originally from Jamie's blog.

Number Of Books You Read: 101
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)
I loved several books, but When Dimple Met Rishi is the first that comes to mind. 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


Definitely Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs.  So many friends have loved it and it felt pretty flat for me.  I thought I would love How It Feels To Fly by Kathryn Holmes more but it wasn't for me. I also didn't care for My Brilliant Friend the way so many people have.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

This one has to be P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. I really didn't care much for her Summer series and I liked To All the Boys I've Loved Before, but I LOVED P.S. I Still Love You.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Actually a non-fiction title, but American Hookup by Lisa Wade.  A great book about college hookups in America.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Starter:
The Salvage duology by Alexandra Duncan. For comics my favorite series starter was Descender Volume One by Jeff Lamire.

Sequel:
Easily A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Scwab.

Ender:
I'm surprised by my choice because the first book was just good for me, but Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han.  As a book about two teens in love graduating from high school and moving on to college, I thought it hit all of the right notes.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?


Definitely Mackenzi Lee.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


So the two books outside of my comfort zone that I read, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and Real World by Natsuo Karino, I didn't particularly care for.  This is probably a sign that I should step out of my comfort zone a bit more often.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


I tore through When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.  For a book that's a bit more conventionally action packed, I loved The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan.

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I know, you all are astounded.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?



11. Most memorable character of 2017?


Monty from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.  I loved watching him grow.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?


The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. I love how she wove everything together and you guys, my heartstrings were yanked.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?


The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell.  It's a heartbreaking story of a teen whose suffering from
ALS and how that impacts his views on death.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 


Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  I've owned a copy for years and never gotten around to it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?


"If you tell your hopes to the dreaming tree, the tree will pass them on to the clouds. And the clouds will tell the stars."
-Emery Lord

"Because how could I ever really explain his sure hands on my neck, tilting my face to his?  How a black ceiling of stars arched over us, pine branches bowing to cocoon us against the earth.  How I clung to him because the ground flew out beneath us--or maybe we rocketed upward.  How my heart beat so fast I almost felt like laughing.  Because it's giddy to stumble into magic, to realize what this can feel like."
-Emery Lord

"It's the whole light that fills you, wide and glowing, expanding your seams.  And maybe you find it in the smooth lake water or piano chords, so lost in them that you sway back and forth.  In brassy hits of trumpet, playing until you pant, breathless.  Maybe you find it somewhere beneath the tall pines, during a summer that changes everything.  Or in an Airstream trailer on an open road that you earned. In every dance move that sets you free. In the hands that mend your split open knuckles.  In the people who teach you, who forgive you."
-Emery Lord

"Against the sky the stars crown him, marking the edges of his silhouette like he is a constellation of himself."
-Mackenzi Lee

"I'm desperate not to let all my stupid hope fill the silence between us but it's filtering in anyway, like water running through the canyons that longing has spent years carving in my head."
-Mackenzi Lee

"We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other.  Complete and worthy and so very loved."
-Mackenzi Lee

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

I read a lot of comics, so Hi Fi Fight Club #1 was the shortest and Outlander was the longest.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Probably Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore.  I was not expecting that book to take the direction it did, but I really liked it.  I think because it was so weird it would actually be a great book club pick.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Percy and Monty from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and Dimple and Rishi from When Dimple Met Rishi.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


I loved Impy's relationship with everyone at the Renaissance Faire in All's Faire In Middle School, especially with her own family.  Jamieson did a great job of showing the depth of all of these relationships aren't always easy.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


Easily All's Faire In Middle School by Victoria Jamieson.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I'd given it consideration in the past but a couple of my best friends love the t.v. show.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?


Honestly, I don't really do fictional crushes in YA books.  In real life a grown woman crushing on a teenager is just not okay.  I read some adult Austen retellings and usually I might go for a Mr. Darcy but none of them especially stand out this year.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


Definitely the world in V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


Probably The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and All's Faire In Middle School.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?


The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


How I Became A Ghost by Tim Tingle, the story of a Chocotaw boy who dies on the Trail of Tears (the synopsis on GoodReads starts with this, so it's not actually a major spoiler).

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Again, How I Became A Ghost by Tim Tingle.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?


Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore. Seriously, someone needs to write an academic thesis on this book.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?


The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan, because it's infuriating how Amadou and his brother are treated.  Also Naila's story in Written In the Stars. The way her family treats her is heart-wrenching. Also Real World by Natsuo Kirino because Worm is a major misogynist.



1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I was a horrible blog reader this year soooooo sadly I don't have an answer to this. 


2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

 Definitely my review of When We Collided by Emery Lord.


3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?


I spent 2017 focused on reviews because I've been really behind on them.  I'm hoping to finally catch up this year and get some different content up on the blog!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?


Easily the Nova Teen Book Festival, especialy because my friend Jennie came out for it and spent a few days with me. I also loved getting to meet Sandhya Menon in August!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
Honestly I think attending the festival with Jennie and getting to go to all kind of author events

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I somehow got scabies this summer (basically skin mites) and that struggle lasted for five months. It was super anxiety inducing and after every treatment I had to do several loads of laundry and decontaminate my life.

There's also the fact that I got engaged early on in July (yay!) and someone in my work place went on maternity leave on September, so I spent a week in late July driving all over the state of Maine with my mom and fiancee looking at wedding venues.  We covered pretty much all of Maine and with everything else going on reading in the car was impossible.  Also when my coworker was on leave work was just generally a lot crazier and I wouldn't always come home feeling energized to read.

For those wondering, we chose Point Lookout Resort and the big day is in June of 2019.  Photo above!


7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?


My review of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?


Considering how bad I've been at engaging with other people's blogs I am not here to complain about people not commenting on or viewing my posts.
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Not really a discovery but I love that GoodReads now sends me daily Amazon deals on Kindle books.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?


I wound up changing my GoodReads goal from 105 to 102, because I realized I wasn't going to make 105, and I'm totally content with 102 as being my final number for the year.




1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?


Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert!  I loved her debut, Pointe.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Right now From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon.

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?


Right now I cannot wait for Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?


Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova!  I've honestly been trying to finish off series.  I managed to finish four in 2017 and one so far in 2018.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?


Finally catch up on reviews and engage with other blogs. 

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):


I adored The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. Pick this one up if you haven't already!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Review of Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez


Out of Darkness“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.

“No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”


They know the people who enforce them.

“They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit.”

But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.

“More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay.”

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.
(Summary from GoodReads)


I struggle with historical fiction, because even though I end up enjoying almost all of the historical fiction I read, I worry that it’s going to be slow. I was pulled into Ashley Hope Perez’s story right away, and I’m sad that it doesn’t get more love from readers. Out Of Darkness is the beautiful story of a Mexican girl falling in love with a black boy in 1937 East Texas.

Although the New London school explosion plays critical role in this story, Out Of Darkness isn’t really a book about the school explosion. Naomi grandparents send to live with her stepfather, Henry, along with her twin half siblings, Beto and Cari. Henry is the type of character who readers love to hate, since he’s a pretty awful guy and is pretty much the reason Naomi’s mother died. The task of running the household essentially falls upon Naomi, and while she cares deeply for Beto and Cari, running a household, especially Henry’s household, is extremely difficult for her. There are a lot of trigger warnings that should accompany this book, including pedophilia and extreme racism.

Perspectives switch throughout this story and while I know not everyone was a fan of it, I thought that it worked really well. Perez’s characters are so well crafted that I had strong feelings about all of them by the end of this story. Her writing is beautiful, and I thought she did a good job of balancing the bleakness and hope that were a part of this story.

The ending of this novel absolutely broke my heart. Out of Darkness is a hard book to read, and I’m not sure if I’d want to read it again. Readers who want a sad, romantic story with a great deal of depth will love Perez’s novel.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my library.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review of With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice
It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

(Summary from GoodReads)


I’m not a huge fan of adult thrillers, because whenever I read young adult thrillers, they’re just so much better. I was drawn to the setting of With Malice, because if I can’t go to Italy, I can at least read a book that’s set partially in Italy, right? Although I found With Malice to be a bit predictable, it holds an important place in the world of young adult thrillers.

I love how a lot of thrillers written for teens focus on female friendships. It’s something that Dangerous Girls does, and Cook does an excellent job of it here as well. Of course, this one plays with the idea that Jill may never remember exactly what happened.

With Malice stands out because it plays with privilege in so many ways. While in rehab, Jill rooms with a girl named Anna Lopez, which is eye opening for her in a lot of ways. Jill also spends the novel dealing with her father and her sleazy lawyer, who are primarily looking out for her father’s good.

Cook’s novel is great because it explores gender and privilege. As far as Dangerous Girl comparisons, this one is better for readers who are more into storylines involving memory loss. While not a personal favorite, this was still a solid read, and I think a lot of teens will speed through it.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book from the library.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

(Summary from GoodReads)


When I heard Marissa Meyer was planning on doing an Alice In Wonderland story that focused on the Queen of Hearts, I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible.  Truthfully, I think it was Fairest that helped get me so pumped about this book.  Meyer did such a great job of making readers feel empathy for Queen Levana that I couldn’t wait to see what she did with this book.  Heartless was a rich, dark story that I couldn’t get enough of.

Cath is meant to become the Queen of Wonderland, which isn’t really what she wants.  She wants to spend her days baking delectable treats and opening a bakery.  I strongly recommend that you go to a bakery near you and pick up some goodies before starting this one, because the descriptions of food were utterly divine.

I loved the atmosphere that Meyer created in this book.  As a reader, you can completely tell why Cath and her parents want different things for her.  Meyer did a great job of incorporating that universal theme into the story.  I also felt like the madness in Carroll’s original story is present in Meyer’s novel, especially with her depiction of the Mad Hatter.


It’s true that this story perhaps has moments where it’s predictable.  However, I loved how dark it is.  After reading the Lunar Chronicles, which I adored, I was particularly fond of how this book ended.  Heartless is a fantastic, standalone for anyone who loves Alice In Wonderland, or just wants a retelling with a darker vibe.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from a friend, and later purchased my own finished copy.

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