The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
A hilarious and swashbuckling stand-alone teen historical fiction novel, named one of summer's 20 must-read books by Entertainment Weekly!
A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi Lee—Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.
Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are 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.
So Monty 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, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
4 starred reviews and #1 pick on the summer 2017 Kids’ Indie Next List!
Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Henry Montague (Monty) and his best friend Percy – whom he is most certainly NOT in love with – are embarking on their Grand Tour. Monty has been the disappointment of his family for years – with a carefree spirit, he’s always been the rake of the family. Along with them on their tour is Felicity, Monty’s sister, who wants to be more than what her family expects of a lady. Percy, meanwhile, is being sent to Holland after his tour, so Monty is looking at this as one final, debaucherous hurrah before being taken away from his best friend.
I listened to The Gentleman’s Guide as an audiobook, and narrator Christian Coulson (aka Tom Riddle from the Harry Potter movies) was fantastic at giving voice to each of the characters, and bringing this irreverent historical book to life. I don’t think I would have read it as quickly on screen or paper, but Coulson + author Mackenzie Lee had me glued to my earbuds. I’ve honestly never read an audiobook this quickly.
What I was really impressed with in this book is how FULL it was. It’s fully diverse, the characters are completely rounded, and the story has laughs, shocks, horror, and total understanding of all of it’s characters. It’s very clear that Lee not only did her research on the tradition of the Grand Tour, but also on European customs of the time, and how people of various backgrounds, with various ailments, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and sexes were treated. But you’re never hit over the head with it. Rather, the characters are fully fleshed out and their issues dealt with realistically through the lens of a very fun, high-stakes adventure.
All three main characters were so much fun to travel with. Monty is actually less rakish than I expected him to be, but totally quick with the quips. Percy was kind of like his straight man – that is, he’s the more serious, sensitive one of the duo, but still willing to engage in scrapes. And then there’s Felicity, who’s clearly the brains of the trio – stifled by her conventional role in society, but more than able to rise above it.
And let’s not forget the slow-burn romance. I was SO here for the brushes of skin, the stares and the butterflies that Monty would get. He and Percy are totally shippy and worthy of fan-art...and yet, I never felt like the romance overwhelmed the character development. Each of them (but especially Monty) has some growing up and learning to do before they can get their happily ever after. Just the way it should be.
The Final Word:
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is everything I wanted it to be and more. Like author Mackenzi Lee, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of the Grand Tour for a long time – I’ve always seen it as an 18th century gap year, and that’s exactly what Lee wrote – albeit one with the most adventurous story ever. Add in some pirates, creepy alchemy, political villains, and shirking conventions, and you’ve got a completely delightful, compelling story. Read in audio if you’re not usually into historicals, or go full tilt at the text. This is a diverse, LGBTQ historical that’s worth every penny.Paper Hearts Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
"I'm sorry," he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. "It's just-I didn't want you to think of me any differently."
Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn't accept that he was the person looking down at me.
"My real name is Alec."
Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she's had the full weight of her mother's expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.
Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he'd flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he'd turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.
Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity's missing sister. And she's about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be...
Review: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak
Like The Heartbreakers, I had a lot of fun reading Paper Hearts, and found it to be more than just a fluffy novel. It’s a feel-good romance, sure – what girl wouldn’t want to date a guy from the biggest boy band in the world? And to meet him at a masquerade ball? It’s the stuff of Cinderella dreams. That part of the book was really fun and definitely met expectations.
But what I liked about The Heartbreakers was the same thing that got me into Paper Hearts: the female protagonist was dealing with more than just a love story, or her own problems. Paper Hearts is a family story about Felicity, a girl who lives with her single mom and has to scrimp and save for her dream college, Harvard. She’s had to deal with her father leaving, her mom going from OC wife to responsible, and oh yeah…some serious sister issues that I don’t want to spoil. It’s an interesting story, and one I haven’t seen done before in YA.
Similarly, Alec has his own parental issues to deal with – which were mentioned in the first book, but come more into play here. You quickly get a sense of how similar Felicity and Alec are, and how they balanced each other. They also had a natural chemistry and a quietness that made their relationship different from Stella’s and Oliver’s from the first book. But rest assured, if you’re a shipper of Stella and Oliver, there’s plenty of them here. But like the first book, there’s a posse of sorts around Felicity, and they quickly grew to be just as important and fun as the Heartbreakers and Stella.
I fell quickly into Ali Novak’s breezy writing style and the fun fangirl-y moments. While the book definitely has moments that screamed fanfiction to me (because seriously, The Heartbreakers are totally 1D), the wish fulfillment aspect never felt like it overpowered Felicity’s story. There are little things here and there that felt way too predictable, but honestly? I didn’t go into this book expecting not to get those moments.
The Final Word:
Paper Hearts is a fun, fast, clean YA romance about Felicity Lyon, a smart, focused teen with a passion for jewelry, and Alec Williams, the bassist in The Heartbreakers, the world’s biggest boy band. While it’s definitely a bit wish fulfillment-y – and thus fanfiction-esque – it’s also more than what it seems, touching on family pressure, financial issues, and more. It’s a really fun summer read, and one that you’ll breeze through on a beach.Tell Me Three Things Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
A New York Times Bestseller "Here are three things about this book: (1) It's . . . funny and romantic; (2) the mystery at the heart of the story will keep you turning the pages; (3) I have a feeling you'll be very happy you read it." --Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight With the perfect mix of comedy and tragedy, love and loss, and pain and elation, the characters in Julie Buxbaum's Tell Me Three Things come to feel like old friends who make any day better. This YA novel is sure to appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that's what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It's been barely two years since her mother's death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.
Just when she's thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
In a leap of faith--or an act of complete desperation--Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can't help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved? More praise for TELL ME THREE THINGS "Three Things about this novel: (1) I loved it. (2) No, really, I LOVED it. (3) I wish I could tell every teen to read it. Buxbaum's book sounds, reads, breathes, worries, and soars like real adolescents do." --Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time and Off the Page "The desire to find out whether Jessie's real-life and virtual crushes are one and the same will keep [readers] turning the pages as quickly as possible." --PW, Starred
"A heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss when life itself means inevitable change." --Kirkus "Buxbaum's debut is hard to put down because of its smooth and captivating text. The addition of virtual conversations through email and chatting adds to the exciting plot twist." --SLJ
Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Totally unputdownable. So much swoony anticipation! Be prepared for You’ve Got Mail feels and a serious slow-burn.
Jessie is a new student at Wood Valley High School, a fancy private school in L.A. She’s just moved there after her father unexpectedly married a woman he met at an online grief counselling group. Jessie’s mom died a few years ago, and she’s still mourning, but now, she’s got to add on a new stepmother, stepbrother, house and school. It’s a lot to take and she’s alone and feeling isolated. Then she gets an anonymous email from someone offering to help her navigate the new school. What initially starts as a friendship becomes a lifeline as Jessie and “Somebody/Nobody” start sharing their thoughts, hopes and dreams.
I loved this story so much, and I loved the interplay between grief and love, family and acceptance, seen and being noticed. This book gets what it means to be a teen and to feel alone in a crowd.
I so appreciated how much all the other characters play into the story. This is not just a romance or a grief story, but one that looks at friendships, old and new, bullying, virginity, and family. Jessie’s new friends were really fun and real, and I appreciated how much the author had thought about how it felt for Jessie and her best friend, Scarlett, to continue their friendship. I also appreciated how aware of herself Jessie was, and how able she was to answer back to all the crap that faced her.
A few minor quibbles: the “mystery” at the centre of the book is pretty obvious, and unfortunately, Jessie was kind of all “me, me, me” for a long time. I also felt like she was really smart about a lot of things, but had the whole “I’m hot but in such an unassuming way that I don’t even know it” thing that sometimes just irritates me. That did drag the book down a little in the middle. But it’s hard to argue with a book that gets the ending as right as this one did.
The Final Word:
Tell Me Three Things is totally adorable, with nerdy, literary banter that completely had my heart melting. With really fantastic writing, and a strong exploration of grief and family, I totally fell for it, and you will, too. Perfect for people who like cute contemporaries with great writing and some depth.
Have you read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, Paper Hearts by Ali Novak or Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum? What did you think of them? Which book would be your pick for your summer to-be-read list? Let me know in the comments!