The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

tumblr_otb4utrqck1tfx1a7o1_540Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 4.0 out of 5.0

If you asked me to draw up a wishlist of things I wanted from a queer YA historical novel, it would include the following:

  1. tender queer boys
  2. strong girls who are fallible but have agency & their own goals
  3. PIRATES!
  4. adventure
  5. road trips! (AKA the only reason I’d read a Grand Tour novel)
  6. dropping trou before European dignitaries at Versailles
  7. intersectional identities
  8. a nuanced handling of chronic illness and disability

And man, like. It deliversThe Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (hi, love that title) is an adventure romp about two boys and one judgemental, not-here-for-your-shit sister who go on a Grand Tour. But because of one of the boys’ assholery (Monty’s), they end up being chased across the Continent by a sinister duke with nefarious plans.

This was an incredibly well-written novel––there is one thing I love most in all the world and it’s the slightly offbeat, self aware humour of historical fantasy set in Regency England. Think Sorcerer to the Crown and Sorcery and Cecelia and you’ve got a good idea of what I’m talking about, because our narrator/erstwhile protagonist/resident douchebag Henry “Monty” Montague has wit and humour in spades. Also self-hate, because this novel goes to some dark places for something so otherwise lighthearted and enjoyable.

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Queen’s Thief Series Review | Thick as Thieves Reivew

tumblr_oqqp8yyzs41tfx1a7o1_540Series: Queen’s Thief
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Genre: Fantasy, YA

Under the books section of my rec page you will find some of my favourite books, but like many a bookworm, I will get squeamish if you asked me to pick my One True Love. I’ll play coy if you ask, but secretly, I know that my favourite book of all time (if you set aside Dream of the Red Chambers, The Last Unicorn, Ella Enchanted, The Secret Garden, etc. etc. etc.) is Queen of Attolia, the second book in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series. It has everything that a then-10 year old girl could want: romance, revenge, murder, delicate political machinations, trauma, working through trauma, swashbuckling, worldbuiding, asshole gods (from a girl from a culture with asshole gods: this is so #relatable), complex interpersonal relationships, introspective, lonely characters, SADNESS––I could go on, but I think you take my point. It’s a flipping good series, okay.

It’s a hard series to talk about without some major spoilers, so I’m going to give an attempt at a spoiler-free review, but if you trust me enough, buy the books, exit from this page without reading anything, and then come back to me in two months with eye bags, tears, and several broken (and then unbroken, and then rebroken) hearts and then we can talk spoilers at each other. If not, don’t blame me if you’re spoiled, because it’s impossible to talk about the premise of some of these books without spoiling all previous novels in the series.

The Queen’s Thief series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves) is set in a vaguely Mediterranean, alt-Byzantine world where the gods are real, and are sticking their noses into the business of three small kingdoms, Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis, which are on the brink of war both with each other and with a neighbouring empire, the Mede Empire (like an alt-Byzantine Empire). Its follows multiple protagonists across the progression of the books, but its main focus is Eugenides, a young thief who holds many unexpected titles and roles, as he attempts to maneuver these politics, sometimes for his own gain, but more often for a larger purpose.

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The Girl From Everywhere

21979832Title: The Girl From Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5

I’m already tired of writing this review, and I haven’t even begun. This is largely because I have very few feelings about this novel and quite a few thoughts, and I’m honestly not even sure I have energy enough––or frankly, that I give enough of a shit––to write a whole review, which is kind of a problem when you’ve read a whole novel.

Like, I liked it fine? I just have a total of zero emotions about it otherwise, which may be in part due to the stomach virus I came down with after graduation and in part due to the reading slump I’ve been in all year. Maybe the novel just hit me at a bad point, because it has many things that I would otherwise enjoy. But I read it when I read it, so these thoughts will have to suffice, and this is as fair as it’s going to get.

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Mad Miss Mimic | DNF’d (67%)

tumblr_or6ubvefmq1tfx1a7o1_540Title: Mad Miss Mimic
Author: Sarah Henstra
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Mystery
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ | 1.5 out of 5.0

not spoiler free –

I’m not really looking forward to writing this review. You know those books that are just kind of a chore to get through and you don’t care enough about them to write a long, thoughtful, in-depth review and really want to fall back on platitudes? This is it.

But I’m writing it anyway, because I don’t often see fiction that deals in a serious way with speech disorders, doesn’t treat the subject as a joke. In that respect, I was very gratified by the book. In many others, not so much.

Leonora Somerville is in many ways the perfect girl––she’s wealthy, she’s beautiful, and she’s well-connected. But she’s been through one too many Seasons and she can’t seem to find someone to wed––because she also has a stutter. Not merely that, but she possesses the ability to recall someone else’s voice with near-perfect accuracy––something her sister calls Mimic, which comes out when she is most anxious to repress it. The servants all call her “Mad Miss Mimic.”

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Camp So-and-So

27242422Title: Camp So-and-So
Author: Mary McCoy
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Thriller, Mystery
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5

The letters went out in mid-February. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains. Each letter came with a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theatre under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist, Inge F. Yancey IV.

By the end of the month, twenty-five applications had been completed, signed, and mailed to a post office box in an obscure Appalachian town.

Had any of these girls tried to follow the directions in the brochure and visit the camp for themselves on that day in February, they would have discovered that there was no such town and no such mountain and that no one within a fifty-mile radius had ever heard of Camp So-and-So.

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The Female of the Species

y648Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Thriller
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 3.5

warnings for: rape, murder, attempted rape, violence, body mutilation, animal cruelty, gun violence, drugging

For the record, the book is not textually as racially diverse as the photoset on our Tumblr. But y’all know me; if I can, I will.

That said, this novel is dark as fuck.

There’s Alex, there’s Peekay, and then there’s Jack, and the three of them are high school seniors dissatisfied with the small, rural town they grew up in. Alex, because her mother’s distance, her father’s disappearance, her sister’s rape and murder, and her own vigilante justice have created an incredible mental burden. Peekay, because her identity is tied so closely with her father being the preacher that her name–Claire–isn’t even hers to inhabit. She’s Peekay, for PK, for Preacher’s Kid. And Jack, because he knows he has the drive and the ambition to do more than the town is offering him, but he’s constantly being pulled back by his guilt–on the day they found Alex’s sister’s body, he had been fooling around in the woods smoking pot and having sex instead of helping look.

The three of them grow closer senior year, Peekay because she’s working with Alex at the local animal shelter and Jack because, even though he always slides back into a comfortable relationship with local it-girl Branley, he’s been secretly obsessed with knowing more about Alex for years as some kind of penance for his behaviour. But Alex brings with her a constant reminder of what can happen to a girl, and she’s not willing to let people slide.

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When Dimple Met Rishi

28458598Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 3.0

Hi, it’s my favourite trope: arranged marriage, but they end up really falling in love! Dimple Shah is everything her mother doesn’t want out of a daughter: wild, stubborn, refusing to wear makeup. So she should have known when her mother allows her to attend the coding camp of her dreams that something was Up.

Because it’s there that she meets Rishi Patel: the Good Son, the hopeless romantic, and the guy who introduces himself to her as her “future husband.” So she does what any normal girl would do: she throws her coffee in his face and runs away. But then, as fate (or the partner preferences Rishi put on his application letter) would have it, the two are paired up, and much to her own annoyance, Dimple finds herself maybe possibly liking Rishi? Unstoppable object, meet immovable force.

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