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

Any other giant Mackenzi Lee fans in the house? If you haven’t read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, where have you been? Get thyself to a reputable book store immediately! The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (winner of the best book title of the year award) is a companion novel that follows Monty’s sister Felicity in the aftermath of Gent’s Guide.

Spoiler warning – if you haven’t read TGGTVAV then read on at your own peril!

TL;DR Badass feminist Felicity Montague wants to study medicine, but no medical school will so much as interview her, simply because she is a woman. When she hears that an old friend is getting married to her idol, the infamous Doctor Alexander Platt, she heads off on a wild adventure in the hopes of joining him on his next expedition.

After getting into all kinds of shenanigans in book one, thanks to her brother Monty, Felicity is back to show us she’s an independent woman who doesn’t need a man to help her get into trouble – or out of it!

Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.

Felicity Montague

Since her return from Europe, Felicity has been living in Edinburgh and working at a bakery, hoping to attend the medical school there. After months of rejection, she returns to London to visit her brother and Percy, feeling completely dejected and demoralised.

As a last ditch attempt, she decides to send a letter to the London medical school suggesting she’d like to make a donation (after all, she is still a Lord’s daughter, they don’t need to know she’s been cut off by her father…). Once inside the door, she pitches her application to study at the school, demonstrating her intelligence, strength of character and proficiency in the medical sciences. Unfortunately, they still can’t see past her gender, and send her packing.

“You’re trying to play a game designed by men. You’ll never win, because the deck is stacked and marked, and also you’ve been blindfolded and set on fire.”

Simmaa Aldajah

When she hears that a childhood friend is getting married to her idol, eccentric scientist Doctor Alexander Platt, she concocts a hare-brained plan to travel to Germany and gatecrash the wedding in order to convince Platt to take her on as an apprentice on his upcoming expedition. And, in classic Felicity style, she does just that.

Almost.

With the help of a female pirate named Sim, and her oldest friend Joanna, Felicity sets out on an adventure that could lead to her discovering more than she ever imagined.

“In the company of women like this— sharp-edged as raw diamonds but with soft hands and hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything— I feel invincible.”

Felicity Montague

I loved this book. Felicity might not be quite as entertaining as Monty, but she’s smart and brave and sassy as hell. I absolutely loved all the feminist elements and quotes throughout, Mackenzi Lee put exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling into much better words than I ever could, and I found myself nodding along and saying “Yes, girl!” out loud, alone in my car…

I gave Lady’s Guide 4 stars, it was such an enjoyable read and I flew through it. Seeing Felicity grow and realise that her version of being a strong, independent woman isn’t superior to Joanna’s, or any other woman’s, was really heartening. I’m glad Felicity ended up staying true to herself as well, rather than being forced to fit some romantic ideal. The cameos from Monty and Percy were really fun, and it was great (and also heartbreaking) to see what they’ve been up to since Gent’s Guide.

It only wasn’t a 5 star read simply because I loved Gent’s Guide just that little bit more, and I felt at times that Monty swept in and saved the day rather than Felicity getting herself out of predicaments. (Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of instances where she does, it was a tiny niggle really).

Have you read Lady’s Guide yet? If you love petticoated swashbucklers and mostly accurate historical fiction, with just a pinch of the supernatural thrown in, you’ll adore this book. Go read it and let me know what you think!

Lyndsey

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Review: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Ten books on my Winter TBR

Following on from my last post, I thought I’d join in with Top Ten Tuesday and share ten books I’m excited to read over the coming months. It’s a mix of wintry stories and books I’ve been looking forward to reading – some physical copies and some audio books (you know how much I love an audio book!), so hopefully there’s something for everyone on this list.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I’ve been sitting on this book for a while, it calls to me from my book shelf (I mean, look at that cover!), but I wanted to wait until it was appropriately frosty outside and cosy inside before I curl up with Wintersong. It’s a new take on the legend of the Goblin King, and sounds very Labyrinth, so I’m excited to sink into this one in the New Year.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I definitely think Winter is a time for dark, twisting fantasies, and The Hazel Wood is a perfect example. It’s got a hint of Scandi Noir about it, a Hans Christian Andersen kind of vibe that I am here for. Centred around a collection of pitch-dark fairy tales set in a supernatural realm called the Hinterland, which may or may not be fact rather than fiction, The Hazel Wood sounds like the perfect read for those long, dark nights. Just add hot chocolate and a blanket.

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land sounds like a lovely Spring read (and let’s be honest, with a young baby it’ll probably be Spring by the time I get round to it!). It’s got elements of The Cruel Prince, The Sin Eater’s Daughter and, to be honest, my novel The Fair Queen – so if that doesn’t mean I’m bound to love it, what does? 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

This has been on my TBR (and in my Audible library…) for quite a while, but 2019 is the year I finally jump feet first into this series! Book three, A Reaper at the Gates was released this year and everyone was obsessed, so I’m really excited to start An Ember in the Ashes. It’s inspired by Ancient Rome, similarly to Nevernight, which if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know is an absolute favourite of mine, so I’ve got high hopes.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone Tomi Adeyemi

I’ve been dying to read Children of Blood and Bone ever since I took part in Pitch Wars 2017 and Tomi Adeyemi was a mentor. I’ve got the audio book, which I think was a good idea because I’m terrible at pronouncing the names of people and places in fantasy books, so at least I won’t have to worry about getting that wrong – it’s just the spelling I’ll get wrong now! It strikes me as a sort of Throne of Glass X Black Panther, so I’m pretty excited.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands is giving me very City of Brass vibes, which is definitely a good thing. It’s got a sort of Aladdin/Arabian Nights style cover, and is set in a desert nation where djinn and magic abound. It might be more of a summery read, so I’ll probably save this one for later in the year, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for a good while now and I’m looking forward to reading it, especially as the series is complete now so I can binge the entire trilogy.

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

If you haven’t read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, then what have you been doing with your life? This is less of a sequel and more of a companion novel, as it follows Monty’s sister Felicity on her very own adventure across Europe as she tries to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. As in TGGTVAV, nothing is straightforward and shenanigans ensue. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! 

Gilded Cage by Vic James

So after that brief segue into historical fiction, we’re right back at it with the fantasy. Dystopic fantasy, if we’re being precise. Gilded Cage is set in modern-day Britain, which I think will be fascinating as most magic-oriented fantasies are set in the past or future, or a completely fictional world with little resemblance to our own. With society divided into the Skilled, a powerful, magic-wielding upper-class, and the unskilled lower class who are forced into ten years of servitude to their superiors, two families become entwined as political tensions build to 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic V. E. Schwab

This is my current read, I’m only 50 pages in and already hooked. I’ve been following Victoria Schwab on various social media for a while, but shockingly have never read one of her books, despite knowing they’d be exactly my cup of tea. I decided to rectify that this year and ordered A Darker Shade of Magic, as it seemed like a good place to start. The final book in the trilogy was published last year, and we all know how much I love to binge a complete series! I’m now obsessed and will be ordering the rest of Schwab’s published works immediately. (Did you see her post announcing that her debut, The Near Witch, was finally being published in the UK? Exciting!)

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This is my current audio book, and it’s an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, with a paranormal twist. Admittedly, it took a few chapters to get into, but now I’m well and truly gripped. The protagonist is completely unique and the concept is so fresh and original – every day Aiden Bishop wakes up in a different body, and every night Evelyn Hardcastle dies, unless Aiden can uncover the killer by the end of the 8th day. It’s really well executed, Turton has thought about absolutely everything, dropping clues expertly throughout the story, and I’m desperate to get to the end and find out who killed Evelyn, and more importantly, who’s behind the plague doctor mask…

And that’s just a few of the books on my TBR that I’m hoping to get through over the next few months. Have you read any of these? Let me know which one I should read next!

Lyndsey

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Review: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Excuse me while I do a happy dance, because this isn’t the final book in the series! I was absolutely expecting the series to come to an end at the conclusion of Escaping from Houdini, but I was wrong. According to Goodreads, book four will be the last, so we’re getting one more instalment, people!

Check out my review of Hunting Prince Dracula to find out what I thought of the previous two books in the series (I realised I never reviewed Stalking Jack the Ripper whilst writing my review for book two, but you can see how many stars I gave it!).

Also, spoilers ahead for books one and two, so stop right here if you haven’t read them yet. Seriously, don’t read any further.

You rebel.

TL;DR Audrey Rose and Thomas jump on a cruise liner to New York and their next case, but as per usual, murder and mystery follow them at every step. Entertained each evening by the Moonlight Carnival, guests begin dropping like flies in increasingly gruesome and theatrical ways. Can Wadsworth and Cresswell solve the murders before the killer’s grand finale?

Escaping from Houdini

4.5 stars

This book had one of my biggest pet peeve tropes as a central plot point, but as you can see, that didn’t stop me loving it. (I won’t say which trope for spoilers’ sake, but if you feel the same, let me know in the comments!)

It starts off with Audrey Rose and Thomas completely smitten with each other, looking forward to a pleasant transatlantic cruise, chaperoned by Audrey’s uncle Dr. Jonathan Wadsworth and Mrs Harvey (and her notorious “travelling tonic”). Well, if you’ve been paying attention to this series so far, you won’t be surprised to hear that almost immediately people start being murdered.

Entertaining the guests every evening on board the ship is the Moonlight Carnival, a rag tag crew of contortionists, cartomancers, knife-throwers and fire-eaters, lead by a mysterious, masked man who calls himself Mephistopheles. If you weren’t lucky enough to read Faust at school, Mephistopheles is the name of the devil in the classic German novel. The ringmaster is a charming, manipulative and arrogant man with designs on our Audrey Rose, much to Thomas’s chagrin.

Lyndsey's Book Blog

Only one member of the carnival doesn’t wear a mask at all times, and that’s the eponymous Harry Houdini. Unlike the rest of the performers who all seem to be hiding from someone or something, Houdini comes across as a fame-hungry young man. Does that make him a murderer, though? Or could one of his travelling carnival companions be hiding a dark past behind their glittery facade?

Like in the previous books, the stakes are pretty high for our leading lady, drawing her family and friends into the heart of the danger yet again. But none more so than herself, and in the end Audrey Rose goes through something that will change her forever.

pink divider

I loved this book. I whipped through it at breakneck speed and it’s my new favourite of the series (I know I said that about Hunting Prince Dracula, because boarding school setting! But that’s been trumped by cruise ship setting. Sorry not sorry). Book four, you’ve got a lot to live up to!

I gave Escaping from Houdini 4.5 stars, there’s room for improvement – that flipping annoying trope, to be precise – but it’s such an enjoyable romp on the high seas. I still love Audrey Rose, she’s not perfect, but who of us is? And Thomas is just a dreamboat, flirting shamelessly with her one minute, and telling her he’ll never hold her back the next.

If you’ve enjoyed books one and two, or you’re just a fan of YA historical fiction, you’ll love this book. It’s full of illusions, romance, murder and kissing. What more could you want?

 

Lyndsey

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