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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Two Fathers 《两个爸爸》

Two Fathers 《两个爸爸》Title: 《两个爸爸》 Two Fathers
Actors: Lele, Yang Yizhan, Lin Youwei, Lai Yayan (Megan Lai), Liang Jing
Genre: Comedy, Family, Contemporary
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 of 5.0

[spoilers, but they’re pretty much forgone conclusions]

So like, not to be a hipster, but I was into this drama back when it was popular (in 2013). But then I completely forgot how much I loved it, or that it even existed, until I saw one of my friends posting on Snapchat about it, and she told me that it was on Netflix. And I can’t read and do my homework at the same time, right, but I can watch Netflix and do my homework. Which is exactly what I did.

Two Fathers follows the story of aspiring lawyer Tang Xiangxi (Yang Yizhan) and student horticulturalist Wen Zhenhua (Lin Youwei)––college friends who find out that a girl they both slept with, Su Wenwen, has had a baby––one of theirs, but she doesn’t know whose–and then promptly skipped town because she was unable to give up her dreams, leaving the child in their care. Fast forward eight years, and Xiangxi has his own firm, Zhenhua has a flower shop, and they’ve made their own unique family with their daughter, Tang Wendi. The series takes place between the winter break and through the summer vacation of Wendi’s first grade, when the two fathers meet her new teacher, Fang Jingzhu (Lai Yayan), which sets in motion a series of events that allows three families––the Tang/Wens, the Fangs, and the Wus––to find their own happiness.

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Cinder & Ella

22724488Title: Cinder & Ella
Author: Kelly Oram
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, YA
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ || 1 star

warnings for: in-universe ableism, death, suicide ideations/attempts

Can someone tell me why this has such a high rating on Goodreads? I truly would like to know, because this book was fucking awful. Like I’m sorry, did we travel back in time to 2003? Because that was the last year this book would have been acceptable to me, and even there would have been a question mark punctuating my enjoyment. And several exclamation points following. (FTR, I would have been seven or eight, and I still might have looked down my nose at this book.) It’s just sexist hogwash, is what it is.

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Vessel

vesselcover_hiresTitle: Vessel
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★ || 4.5

Liyana is raised knowing that she will die. This is a certainty. She is the vessel of the god of the Goat Tribe, Bayla. She has kept her body pure and perfect, avoiding scrapes and injury, trained for years to learn the dance to summon her deity. On the day Liyana is to let go of her soul and go to the Dreaming, so to better make way for her goddess, she is prepared to say goodbye. Yet she doesn’t die. Bayla never comes, and as a result Liyana is cast out to die by her tribe so that they may have the opportunity to try again with another vessel.

But then a figure steps out of a sandstorm: Korbyn, the trickster god, who is one of the few to have found his vessel. He tells Liyana that she has not failed in summoning Bayla, that Bayla and several of the other gods have gone missing, and asks her to accompany him on his quest to reach the other vessels before it’s too late, so that they might find their gods together.

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Half Resurrection Blues

half-resurrection-bluesTitle: Half Resurrection Blues
Author: Daniel José Older
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆ || 3.0

This is the first novel of the Bone Street Rumba series and you guys, I’m in love. It has everything I like. Urban fantasy? Yes. The main character as an agent of death? I’ve been working with a similar concept. Half resurrection as a conceit for diaspora??? I am here 👏 for 👏 that 👏!

Half-Resurrection Blues follows Carlos (may or may not be his real name), a disabled Puerto Rican (may or may not be his real ethnicity) resident of the boonies (just kidding, it’s only Brooklyn). He is also dead. Well, only half-dead, but also half-alive. He works for the New York Council of Death, hunting down renegade ghosts and sundry other supernatural creatures. And he’s good at it, too, until New Year’s Eve, when he is commissioned to kill someone he’s never seen the like of before––he is commissioned to kill someone like him. And this opens up a series of events that may add up to be a cataclysm.

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