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Category Archives: Historical fiction

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

I forgot I didn’t write a post about the first book, so before I wrote this one, I had to go back and type up that review. Whoops! I guess I read the first one when we were moving, and I just didn’t think about it.

51wXgWXzfwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Who wouldn’t be excited to get back to Lady Felicity and her desire to be a doctor and defy anyone who gets in her path?

“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.” [Amazon]

Unlike most women, she cares nothing for marriage and babies and even romance. She’d rather be valued for her mind and her skills and respected for such. Most people underestimate her, and even the men she looks up to let her down. When she tries one more time to be accepted into medical school, she begins a journey of her own.

This carries the same brash, reckless feel of the first novel with slightly more sensibility, she is an impulsive teen, after all. This is one of the things I loved about the first book so much, that you could believe these teens would do something insane without really thinking it through or reasoning all of it out. They’d get fixated on a course of action, but don’t quite consider the consequences. Who on earth would go crash an old schoolfriend’s wedding uninvited, trusting a girl they barely know? So, it’s definitely slightly more far-fetched an outcome, but Felicity always seems like she’s a girl running away from everything and that’s bound to make her more wildly madcap because she has nothing to lose.

Felicity had many amazing quotes, not all challenging the secondary status of women. Here’s one that embodies the anxiety and insecurity of being a teen and entering a social event:

“There is a unique sort of agony to entering a party alone.

It is the shuffle in, the survey, trying to spot allies and racks in the fortress of guests where you might slide into a conversation with such ease that they will think you’ve been there all the while. It is the keen pinch of hanging in the doorway and knowing that people have seen you come in but no one is pulling you over to their conversation or waving in greeting.”

#Same, Felicity.

I quite enjoyed Johanna and her great love for her dog (please, couldn’t we have just brought the dog on the adventure?), but Sim didn’t get enough time for me to know her. She was so secretive that once she revealed her purpose, I still didn’t quite trust her voice. Loved the ending. Loved the appearance of Monty and Percy. Heart-in-throat a few moments though, which was great thrill for writing. Absolutely adored the way it ended. Almost can’t decide which book I like better. Can’t there be more? The characters feel so real and almost like friends. Big book hangover!!!

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

518zN4ZSZiL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Rapscallion? Rogue? Rebel Lord Henry “Monty” Montague does not accept his father’s plan for his life and only seems to muck everything up even when he tries. He’s embarked on a grand tour of Europe to be his last escapade before he’s supposed to settle down into life under his father’s thumb. Accompanying him is his sister, Felicity, who is journeying to finishing school, Percy, his best friend who has a secret, and an old nursemaid, ahem, proper chaperone. However, when they visit France, rascal Monty lands them in hot water when he makes a series of serious but hilarious blunders and causes the Duke of Bourbon to pursue them across France in search of a stolen item.

This is a delightfully fun historical adventure with brief moments of seriousness where it confronts societal norms in favor of modern ideas like feminism, anti-racism, and LGBTQ rights. It does not settle too deeply in the time period, but rests lightly on the surface and blends a few elements of fantasy into the tale. It seems to embrace a more modern teenage point of view, but that makes Monty, Percy, and Felicity stand out all the more from the typical historical behavior.

Despite Monty’s penchant for mischief, his impish personality is almost impossible not to like. He tries desperately to please his father, but since nothing does, his antics never cease and his self-loathing and depression continue. He’s long been in love with his best friend, Percy, but unable to act upon it for many reasons. Their trip and subsequent catastrophes shows Monty that his devil-may-care attitude is actually tiresome and hurtful to those around him. In being put down by his father for his homosexuality and wantonness, he relegates himself to immature responses, and never quite learns to grow up until he must for the safety of smarter, more sensible Percy and Felicity.

They are fun characters too. She and Percy are much more alike than Monty, but this is because Monty is too preoccupied with himself to notice others. Percy is the hardest to get to know, but his mild manner and thoughtful empathy give him a lot of wisdom, while Felicity is hot-headed, stubborn, and practical. Felicity hiding her reading material and sneaking around was hilarious, though I wonder how she is able to do this and not be taken advantage of for being female and alone. Don’t most girls her age have a ladies’ maid, or is it that since she’s going to the convent, she won’t need one anyway?

While I really enjoyed the romp through France, the escape with the boats, and the spat with the pirates, the bit where it went into fantasy was both enjoyable and slightly jarring from the story. Maybe I would have liked more descriptions of alchemy or just more lead in to this development rather than feeling like this part of the plot ran away with itself. Teens and adults alike will find this book appealing. It’s hard not to get very attached to the characters and want this to continue indefinitely because they’re so strongly written, but luckily the series resumes with Felicity’s book!

 

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A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

Read about my review of the newest Miss Peregrine book A Map of Days over at Tynga’s Reviews!

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Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

This week I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews talking about the conclusion to the Gold Seer Trilogy, Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson, which is an almost lifelike portrayal of the dangerous greed and raw grit of the Gold Rush to California through the character of practical, determined teen, Leah Westfall.

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Once again, I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews discussing Maggie Stiefvater’s recent standalone historical fiction/fantasy novel, All the Crooked Saints.

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Posted by on January 25, 2018 in Fantasy, Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen

 

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