Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

And my review catch-up continues!

This one just may be one of my favourite books that I’ve read in recent memory.

It’s been described as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

It’s been described as, “the Big Gay European Road Trip Novel you didn’t know you were waiting for”.

It’s, of course, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.

And here’s the blurb:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

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.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Basically, this book is pretty much a literal representation of heart-eye emojis. Because that’s how I felt the entire time I read it: 😍😍😍

 

I knew from the moment I read the description that I would love this book. I was BEYOND excited when I got my hands on it.

It’s got fun, adventure, love, thievery, pirates, kissing and more. Did I mention kissing and pirates?

The book also tackles some serious issues in very real ways, like illness, sexuality, class, race and gender. This is very much a historical book and Lee makes it as accurate as she can. All issues are tackled in a very real 18th century way.

Monty is an absolute mess, but he is perfect all the same and you will love him.

And Percy is basically goals. He’s beautiful inside and out, and he plays the violin. So like, move over Monty, but he’s mine now.

This is one that I know I’ll read again because it’s just so entertaining. Gay teen historical fiction at its finest, all thanks to the amazing Mackenzi Lee!

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue releases June 27th.

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Ramona Blue

As I previously mentioned, I’m using my time between semesters to get caught up on some reviews!

And I’m very excited about this one!

It’s Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy!

I loved Julie’s first two books and when I read the description for Ramona Blue, I knew immediately that this would become a favourite.

Here’s the blurb:

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

I remember being so excited when I read this description. I’ve written on this blog about my own sexual identity and how I believe sexuality to be fluid. So I’m all about books that explore themes like this, so the idea of a book where a girl who identifies as a lesbian falls for a guy was a story I just had to read. I loved this book before I even opened it.

Ramona’s story, and more like it, are some we need more and more of in queer YA. Stories showing sexual fluidity need to be more common to reflect the realities of teens who experience similar feelings.

This story is just so honest. But Ramona and Freddie’s relationship is far from the only thing at play here. We also see Ramona’s relationships with her friends and family, especially the bond she has with her sister, Hattie.

We also see a teen who is trying to find herself, in more ways than one. Not only is she discovering a new part of her sexuality, but she’s also trying to navigate the small town world she’s always known and all the other options that may exist out there for her.

Basically, Julie Murphy has written one hell of an amazing novel! You won’t want to miss this one!

Ramona Blue is available now.

Note: I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Review: It’s Not Like It’s a Secret

I’ve been really slacking lately! I’m sorry! I’ve just finished a really busy semester with school and I’ve got a little time before my summer semester (and final two classes of grad school) begin. And that little bit of time means I’m back to books, and back to reviews, at least for a little while.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in with…

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Miss Sugiura!

As always, we begin with the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

Okay, but first of all, how cute does this book sound? From the moment I read the description, I was in, especially since it was described as Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. So yes, I was excited.

And then when I realized that both Sana and Jamie are girls of colour, I was even more excited.

Basically:

Sana and Jamie’s relationship is cute, but also not without it’s issues. But the way Sugiura writes their story is so real, and that’s what YA fiction needs: real relationship stories, especially with people of colour.

But It’s Not Like It’s a Secret also deals with family issues, like Sana’s suspicion that her dad is having an affair. There are also honest discussions of race, expectations, friendship, and more.

There’s no secret here: It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is a beautiful story with very real moments that we need more of in YA fiction!

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is available now.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review. I am an Indigo employee.