Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Book Review: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Title: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2)
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 450
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Review for book 1

In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Last year I read The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and absolutely fell in love! I loved Monty and Percy and their romance together. I loved Felicity and the adventures the trio went on. Every single thing about Gentleman's Guide was amazing and I was over the moon when I found out there would be a second book! I was so thrilled to get my hands on an ARC and immediately dug in... then found myself putting it down until the audiobook was available.

As everything about this book suggests, this time we get to follow Felicity's story. Felicity dreams of being a doctor but finds herself thwarted at every opportunity. Men laugh at her and her friends act as if they're indulging a fantasy. When she's given the chance to meet and possibly work with her favorite doctor, she immediately boards a ship with some questionable people in order to make her dreams come true.

Sadly, Felicity just couldn't quite win me over. She is okay as a character and I appreciated the asexuality rep, but in the end I found her a bit boring. Felicity spent the entire book lamenting how she would never be a doctor, but beyond talking to one group of men and chasing around one other man, not much happened in the way of pursuing that particular dreams. Instead, Lady's Guide is mostly Felicity running around after other people. In a way, this really didn't feel like Felicity's story at all.

The other two main characters in this book are Johanna and Sim and they were both fantastic! This book is really all about girl power and these two really helped drive the point home. All three women have distinct aspirations, but all three go about getting them in different ways. While I loved the feminist tone of the book, it was also a bit exhausting after awhile. Lady's Guide really is just a book about three women doing women things and damn the men. Which is mostly fun, but seems a bit heavy handed.

There were many parts of this I enjoyed, of course! My favorite bits were the ones with Monty and Percy and sadly there weren't many of them. I loved their banter and humor and romance and kind of wish we could have a second book of their adventures together. I also loved the pirate parts when they actually did come up, which didn't happen until nearly the end of the book. I will say that the fantasy elements of this book was weird and didn't really work for me. I'm not sure why it needed to be included and I don't think it added anything.

I thought that Lady's Guide was an okay second book, but frankly it paled in comparison to Gentleman's Guide and that's a shame. The plot dragged a bit and I do wish Felicity had been a bit more engaging, but I loved all the other characters and the piracy! If you enjoyed The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, you'll probably enjoy this one as well.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #209: Bookish places to visit


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Libraries and 
Bookstores I'd Love To Visit

This week took a bit of digging! I had a couple in mind as soon as I saw this week's prompt, but I honestly am not well traveled enough to know of all ten of these. Now I have a lot more places on my to-see list!  


LIBRARIES

Klementinum Baroque Library, Prague, Czech Republic


George Peabody Library, Baltimore, USA


Tianjin Binhai LibraryTianjin, China




Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany


BOOKSTORES

El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina


The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, USA


Zhongshuge Bookstore, Hangzhou, China


Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal


Strand Bookstore, New York City, USA


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Weekly Recap: 10/7 - 10/13


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has been a bit less busy than the last few, but honestly I haven't had such an anxiety-filled few days in awhile. Over the weekend my youngest dog (problem child) had been sick again. On Tuesday he went in to see his vet and on Thursday he was having tests done on his liver. I also took my oldest dog in on Thursday to get her teeth cleaned, so it was just me and the middle child hanging out and anxiously awaiting results. The good news is, his liver seems to be fine! The bad news is we still have no idea why he keeps getting sick. The other good news is he has been fine since Monday. We've switched his food to a low protein/vegetarian canned food, which sounds really gross, but he likes it and the vet thinks it'll be good for his sensitive digestive system. Oh, and old girl's teeth are shiny again!

Outside of dogs, it has been horror week!! Fraterfest has started and I've been reading and listening to horror books and graphic novels. I'm currently in the middle of three books, so I haven't actually finished any yet, but I'm getting there! I've also been on a found footage horror movie kick and can't wait to share some of the ones I've loved with you next week! I found a coupon code for a 60 day free trial of Shudder and I'm super excited to see some great horror movies are on it! Let the movie watching begin!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

   
   



THIS WEEK I READ



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The topic was very long books for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday ARC review of A Very Large Expanse of Sea
On Friday I talked about books that actually terrified me
Saturday book review of Only Human


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Review: Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Only Human (Themis Files #3)
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 2

In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other.

The Themis Files has been a series that is really out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, but really just worked. This trilogy is written in a series of interviews and journal entries, similar to The Illuminae Files, but based in the nearer future and (mostly) on earth. The first two books of the Themis Files completely blew my mind and I loved every second of them! I was eager to get Only Human, but it actually took me quite a long time to get through it and is a bit different than the first two installments.

Like the first two, this book follows Rose Franklin and Vincent Couture. Unlike the first two books, Eva is a main character in this and she's also nearly an adult, as it takes place a decade after Waking Gods. After spending ten years on an alien planet, Vincent, Rose, and Eva land back on earth - Eva against her will. Having been raised primarily off Earth, it's no wonder that Eva did not have much desire to return, but daddy knows best so back she went.

I found myself struggling with all the characters in this book more so that in the others. Eva was basically a new character and, while she was definitely a strong female character, which I like, she was also a whiny teenager, which I did not. Her rebellious nature caused issues for everyone and, although I understood her feelings, I found myself becoming very frustrated with her as a character. Similarly, while I understood Vincent's decisions as a parent, there were moments that I would have liked to knock him over the head with something. Still, he remains my favorite character in this series. As always, I love his attitude and snark. Rose was just Rose for me, but I've never been particularly fond of her.

Sadly, my favorite part of the first two books was largely missing from Only Human. The conspiracy aspect is all but gone and instead this book focuses on various countries trying to outmaneuver each other and steal each others' robots. Although there is still some action in this book, it's much more spread out than in previous books. There also wasn't any big twist that I've come to expect from Neuvel. Simply put, it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat like Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods.

One thing I did greatly enjoy was the interactions between the main characters and the alien species they lived with! I liked learning more about their government and moral code. I also appreciated the social commentary on racism and the us vs. them mentality.

Only Human is a good ending to a fantastic series. It's without question the weakest of the three books and I wish it had packed more of a punch, but at the end of the day I'm happy with it. This series has conspiracy, action, and aliens and I am definitely glad I read it!


Friday, October 12, 2018

Horror books that actually terrified me


A couple years ago during Halloween month, I did a post about the horror movies that actually scared me, so I thought it would be fun to do the same with books! I'm actually hard to scare when it comes to books, which is unfortunate. I want a good horror book that will make me keep the lights on! Alas, many are creepy, but not creepy enough. Here is a list of books that actually freaked me out (and none are Stephen King)!


INSYLUM BY Z. RIDER
I've talked about this book quite a bit on the blog, but that's because it was SO GOOD! This short little novella packs in a whole lot of scary. The setting is a fun house and the action starts almost immediately. Be aware though, it's not for squeamish readers!


THE MERCILESS BY DANIELLE VEGA
Ah, The Merciless. This book is about an exorcism gone wrong and it is just brilliantly scary. This series combines the supernatural with the horrors that humans create and I haven't been disappointed with any of the books in the series. The first is definitely my favorite though! It definitely kept me up past my bedtime!


THE SHUDDERING BY ANIA AHLBORN
This was one of the first books I read after starting my blog and I really want to read it again! The Shuddering is about a group of people snowed into a cabin in the woods with something terrifying outside, trying to get in. Basically, it's the setup for some of my favorite B horror movies.


UZUMAKI BY JUNJI ITO
So this series isn't terrifying in the same way as the others on this list. Instead it builds dread and a sense of unease from the first page and just keeps you there. It's a tense reading experience and I really need to dive back into it! I highly recommend this to horror fans who also enjoy manga if you haven't found it already.


WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE BY LAURIE FARIA STOLARZ
This book has been my favorite horror book for awhile and honestly I don't know how anything could overtake it. Although it's YA, it's terrifying! The settings are a super creepy house AND an amusement park. It's fast paced and creepy, but without the gross out horror of some adult horror novels.



Have you read any of these?
What are your favorite terrifying horror books?
Let me know in the comments!
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

ARC Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Title: A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 320
Add to Goodreads


It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

It's no secret around here that I don't usually read contemporary fiction. I'm also not a huge fan of the Shatter Me series, so you might be wondering why I even decided to read A Very Large Expanse of Sea. I heard Tahereh Mafi talk about this book and learned that it was really an autobiographical book and I was instantly interested in knowing more of her story.

The main character of this story is Shirin, a Muslim-American girl living in the aftermath of 9/11. I found Shirin to be a wonderfully written character. She's strong and passionate and I adored her relationships with her brother and friends! I loved her passion for break-dancing, although I found it a bit repetitive. That's probably because I literally don't know how to dance though...

But what about the romance? I loved Ocean! I loved Ocean and Shirin together! What I didn't care for was the never ending angst. It was so hard to watch Ocean try to get close to Shirin, see her want to be close to him, but repeatedly shut him out. It also happens to be a trope that I really can't stand. I can understand her reluctance, but I have a really hard time with the back and forth angsty relationships that often plague YA and NA contemporary romance. When they were together, though, they were magic.

One of the reasons I wanted to read this book is because I have absolutely no idea what it's like to be Muslim in America, especially during such a turbulent time. I found it very easy to sympathize with Shirin and difficult to read about the abuse she received from the Islamophobic people she had to deal with. The constant badgering from those around her, the derogatory comments and questions, were awful. Unfortunately, it caused her to be angry and closed off and often harsh, hence the angst with Ocean.

Something I really liked about this book was that the writing. It was much different from Mafi's previous books and much easier for me to read. In fact, I blew through this book in a couple days. A Very Large Expanse of Sea is an impactful, eye opening book and I think it's going to be an important one. It definitely helped me to understand a bit more and I wish I'd had access to books like this as a teenager growing up in the south where people were not always welcoming.

The end of this book was perfect. I loved Shirin's character growth and the way her relationships with those around her progressed. Overall, I really enjoyed A Very Large Expanse of Sea. It's honest and a fantastic coming of age story! I definitely recommend it to fans of Tahereh Mafi and contemporary fiction.