Thursday, July 27, 2017

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

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee 
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 513
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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. 

Monty (really named Henry Montague, but never ever call him that), is about to embark on his European Grand Tour with his best friend, Percy, and his sister, Felicity. Only one thing stands in the way of Monty having the best year of his life - he is completely and hopelessly in love with Percy and Percy has no idea. Oh, and Monty's father has decided that he needs to learn to be a respectable citizen and has taken all the drunken debauchery out of his Tour. Now Monty must suffer through a year of acting like a gentleman and keeping his feelings hidden. But there is never a dull moment with Monty, and he manages to find plenty of trouble to get tied up in...and to drag Percy and Felicity into as well.

What a lovely adventure this book turned out to be. It managed to be historically accurate without feeling like a history lesson. Even though the characters were galavanting around 17th-century Europe, they felt so vivd and real - like you could run into them walking down the street in today's world. Monty is a hilariously stubborn teen who refuses to grow up. He is set to inherit his father's lands and title when he returns from his Grand Tour, and he wants absolutely nothing to do with responsibility. Percy has had to deal with multiple social stigmas for his entire life, and just wants everyone to see him as he truly is. Felicity is a woman, and is therefore stuck with all of the restrictions that her gender entails. She sets her sights higher than what society has to offer her, and surprises everyone with her strength and intelligence. The characters were wonderful and lovable despite their flaws. They were so relatable, and everyone can find something of themselves in our trio of characters.

One of the best things about The Gentleman's Guide was that although it was set in the 17th century, it explored topics that were both interesting to learn about from a Victorian perspective, and still incredibly prevalent in today's world. It explored identity, sexuality, race, friendship, responsibility, and the troublesome time between childhood innocence and becoming a respectable adult. No matter what age or time period, these are topics everyone has encountered and can relate to. It brought numerous social issues (of then and now) to light and faced them straight on. It was a powerful book with an important message, which it managed to deliver through adventure and hilarity.

Obviously, I really loved The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and can't say enough good things about it. It was hilarious, light-hearted, powerful, intense, and meaningful all at the same time. The writing was superb and the story was engaging and amazing. I highly recommend this book, even if you don't like historical fiction. There is something in this book that will appeal to everyone. We can all find ourselves in The Gentleman's Guide and find something to learn from it.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday #7: The Glass Spare by Lauren Destefano

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

The Glass Spare
by Lauren Destefano
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

This book is SO PRETTY and it sounds SO GOOD! There are a lot of books on my anticipated list for the second half of this year, but this is near the top. I really need to pick up more books by this author!


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Wishful Endings.
This meme is based on Waiting-on Wednesday, which went inactive last year.
Monday, July 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Title: The Magicians (The Magicians #1) 
Author: Lev Grossman
Publication Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 402
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Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined.

The Magicians has been on my audiobook wishlist for years. It's one of those books I knew I would never get around to actually reading if I didn't find a copy to listen to, but I also had to wait until I was in just the right mood for an adult fantasy novel. When I saw the TV show pop up on Netflix, I figured it was finally time to give it a try! I went into it with the knowledge that it wasn't young adult, but also a little confused because a lot of people seem to think it is. I went in slightly confused about the target audience, but with a totally open mind, having not even read the synopsis.

Quentin is the main character of this book and he is by no means a perfect one or necessarily easy to love. The story begins with Quentin as a gifted student in high school and progresses through college and beyond. He starts out as a slightly snotty kid and does learn a little humility on his journey, but I can see why people would have a hard time sympathizing with him. He is a character with a lot of personality flaws - he has a huge ego and he's selfish. That isn't to say he wasn't a fun character though! I never felt like I could really put myself into Quentin's shoes (I'm not the best at everything, let's be honest.) but I did have a great time following his story.

There is a whole cast of characters in this story, but one of the more important ones is Alice. Alice, Quentin's main love interest, is much, much easier to love than Quentin himself. I found myself identifying and sympathizing with her throughout the book and really felt that, although Quentin was the main focus, Alice really brought the story to life. Various other characters make up Quentin's main social network and I loved each of them for different reasons! Usually it's difficult for me to keep up with so many characters at once, but each was distinct and important.

Not surprisingly, the story is all about the magical world - think Harry Potter for American college kids. There's sex, alcohol and drugs. This is in no way a young adult book, in case anyone had any doubt! This story is intricate, sometimes very dark, and spans several years, and I loved most of it. There were moments when I wished we could skip ahead past some of the more monotonous scenes of college kids living together, but it was all at least kind of relevant in hindsight. Some of the book was slow and occasionally I wondered where things were going, but the magical world outweighed that for me. A comparison can be made between The Magicians and Harry Potter, but this story is truly unique and the similarities end at a magical school setting for part of the book.

The world of The Magicians is truly magical in a way that seemed completely believable. Unlike magical worlds in other books that require a huge suspension of disbelief, the way magic was seamlessly interwoven with the real world made it especially impressive. I think part of it might have been the way that Quentin so easily accepted it, having been raised on stories of magical lands similar to Narnia.

I don't want to give up much about this story because experiencing it for myself knowing very little about it was fantastic! Overall, I really enjoyed The Magicians. I do think it would have wider appeal if Quentin was a slightly more sympathetic character and that the story seemed to meander at times, but I ended the book having enjoyed the journey and eager to read the next book! I would highly recommend this to readers of adult fantasy, but definitely avoid it if you're expecting a young adult read.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Weekly Recap: 7/16-7/22


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

The puppy has completed his first week of school!! He can walk on a leash like a normal dog, come when you call him (on leash), and sometimes he can lay down. That's, um... that's about it. His trainers want to keep him for an extra week since he has a non-existent attention span, but the good news is he's learning! Other than the puppy's training, I haven't done much this week. I've enjoyed my time with my other two puppers and watched some fun movies. Hopefully I'll be reviewing some of them soon!!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ

 



MC'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Happy weekend! This week was SO STINKING LONG. Honestly, I don't have a ton to say about this week because I basically just worked and woke up early to go to work meetings and physical therapy. Super exciting. I have some major relaxing ahead of me this weekend that I couldn't be more excited for. Other than that, I unfortunately have no exciting news to share with you. I haven't even been reading much lately, so no book news either. Hopefully in a few weeks when things calm down, my life will get more exciting. Oh! One piece of news is that my Facebook got disconnected and they won't even tell me why. Ugh. So I no longer have a Facebook account that you can use to follow me, but there are plenty of other ways, so I will connect with you all on different platforms. Have a great weekend!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing new this week!


THIS WEEK I READ




IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of The Library of Fates
I featured Origin for Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday audiobook review of A Madness So Discreet
On Friday I did the Twilight book tag


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, July 21, 2017

Twilight Book Tag


Happy Friday, friends!! The week is ALMOST over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief! Today I'm bringing back a super old tag that I found on Youtube from way back in 2012. (Honestly, can you believe 2012 was five years ago?) I've been having a bit of an embarrassing Twilight movie binge between yesterday and today (although I hate the books and don't actually love the movies???), so it seemed like a fun tag to fit the theme of the week! If you're reading this, I tag you! (Mostly Jen. I tag you.)


WHICH TEAM ARE YOU ON?

Even though I do think he's pretty creepy, I'm Team Edward all day. I actually love Jacob's long hair and if he'd kept it, I might have switched sides. Sorry, Jacob. Seriously though, I've always had kind of a thing about the vampire romance and I've never really gotten into shape-shifters/werewolves.


WHICH BOOK IS YOUR [LEAST] FAVORITE?

I changed this question because, to be fair, I loved all of the books when I first read them and despised Twilight when I tried for a re-read. Since I loved them all, I'll share my least favorite: Breaking Dawn. I actually didn't even finish it. I binge read the series with a friend in 2009 until I got about halfway through book four and completely lost interest. After seeing the movie, I'm really glad I didn't waste my time. 


WHICH MOVIE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

I know I've talked about my superpower of forgetting things in the past, but in case you weren't aware, I tend to forget basically everything I read and watch. I do remember the basic outline of the movies, but I can't remember specifics. Between the first two movies, which I watched yesterday, I like Twilight the best. I despise mopey Bella, so New Moon is out. 


HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT TWILIGHT?

I heard about Twilight when the first movie came out. I wasn't into YA back then, so I had no idea about the books. I watched the first movie, enjoyed it, then binged the series.


WHAT'S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE SCENE FROM A MOVIE?

Oh, good lord. Even with the horrible reveal in Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, my absolute least favorite scene is the one where Edward reveals that he's sparkly. It is impossible not to laugh out loud when he starts glittering and talking about how THIS IS WHAT A KILLER LOOKS LIKE. Seriously, who wrote this?? 


WHICH CHARACTER DO YOU HAVE A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH?

Bella, who else? She's mopey and as awkward as I think it's possible for a character to be, but she's a Mary Sue, so it's hard not to like her at times. 


DO YOU HAVE ANY TWILIGHT MEMORABILIA?

I do not, aside from the movies, which I have for some reason refused to get rid of. I clean out my movie collection every couple years and I always stare at them, contemplate getting rid of them, then don't for some reason. And every few years I end up guiltily watching the entire series in silence.


INSERT RANDOM TWILIGHT FACT ABOUT
YOURSELF HERE

Okay, okay, this wasn't a real tag question. But I'm doing it anyway, so sue me. I've actually been to Port Angeles because my husband's ship was in port there and I got to visit once. We ate at the restaurant that Edward and Bella eat at and it was okay, but the people loudly talking about Twilight during their meal got annoying. I also drove through Forks and took a terrible picture with Bella's truck, which I won't post because it's legit awful.



That's all, folks! You can judge my movie binge - I don't blame you. I generally hate chick flicks, but for some reason this one has stuck with me through the years. Here's hoping my husband doesn't read this because he will make fun of me forever. XD