Monday, January 15, 2018

Mondays Need a Good Book: THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)

THE BLURB:
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. 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.


THE SCOOP: This book is one of the best examples of voice I have ever seen. Delightful, irreverent, and one of my favorite time periods, to boot. It was a little more explicit in the main character's lusting after his traveling companion than I really love to read, but I was so unbelievably impressed by the author's command of voice.

I love this whole new trend of writing historical novels with a modern sensibility--I'm thinking of Lady Jane and Daughter of a Pirate King. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue falls into this niche of outrageously funny, pitch-perfect voice.
 
THE VERDICT: Oh, it's hilarious. A bit steamy for my taste, but so hilarious and well-told that I wish I could read it again for the first time.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Mondays Need a Good Book: THE GIRL IN THE TOWER

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy, #2)

THE BLURB:
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.



THE SCOOP: I loved the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale even more than the first. Vasya goes to Moscovy in this book, and I have never, no never, read a book that more perfectly captures that old Rus, the pre-Peter the Great Russia. Wowzers! I felt as if I were creeping around dark, warren-like passages painted with gold and icons. And it's so fresh to see Russian mythology incorporated into a story.

I also love me a heroine who refuses to live her life according to the rules . . . which is funny, because I'm quite the cultural rule-follower, myself!

THE VERDICT: Every single page of this novel is out-of-this world amazing. Read them both!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Mondays Need A Good Book: ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME

All the Truth That's in Me



THE BLURB: Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family.

Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas.

But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

 
THE SCOOP: There are a few story-telling techniques in this story that generally turn me off: second-person narration, present tense, short and fragmented segments, withholding pertinent details.

And every single one of them worked, and every single one was perfect for this novel.

Despite the dark themes the book explores unflinchingly, it isn't a dark book. It's hopeful. And that hopeful exploration of love, friendship, family, human failings, loss, and tragedy makes the story magical.




THE VERDICT: My emotional response to this story--which isn't generally the type of novel I seek out--surprised me. Somehow, Julie Berry manages to harrow up every single feeling and wring depth and tears out of them--and then resolve everything in a most satisfactory way. READ THIS.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Caught My Fancy Friday: Regency House Party!

The other writers in my Regency critique group have banded together for a fun project called Regency House Party. The premise is that the ton descends on a country house, and five writers each contribute episodic, intertwining short stories.

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I've had the pleasure of reading a few of these short stories already. They brim with wit, charm, and flirtation. The party starts January 10 . . . follow the blog to join in the fun!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Caught My Fancy Friday: All things SCARLET PIMPERNEL

I grew up without internet. My reading was limited to what my library carried. I told my grandma that I didn't really need to go to the library anymore, because I'd read all their books. And I had--in the children's section--at least, everything that caught my interest.

The adult section was my salvation. Series were the best, because it was so hard to find good recommendations before goodreads and facebook!

And I found this series by Baroness Orczy:







My library's copies were bound in old cloth, smelled like decades of mold, and delighted me for hours.

And then I saw Anthony Andrew's Scarlet Pimpernel:

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Costumes, perfect; acting, delightful; music, evocative; dialogue, witty. I bought a DVD and forced my children to watch it with me a couple of months ago. I was transported--I thought it held up beautifully and was as delightful as ever--but they found it to be mockery fodder. What do they know? They're the meme generation.

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Okay, so as it turns out, I also love Scarlet Pimpernel memes.

 I think I've watched all the versions. I like the old one because of my soft spot for Leslie Howard:

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But the Anthony Andrews one is the best.