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

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I’d heard so many good things about the Red Rising Saga from other book bloggers and readers online, so when I saw it was on offer on Audible a few months ago, I had to buy it!

TL;DR Darrow is a Red, one of the miners living in a colony on Mars, tasked with the job of making the planet inhabitable for the rest of mankind when Earth dies. Treated as second class citizens by the ruling class, the Golds, there’s a rebellion slowly building beneath the surface, until a shock event thrusts Darrow into the centre of a revolution and exposes the dark secret that Mars may not be all that uninhabitable after all…

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

3.5 stars

Darrow lives in a slum, works in a mine and dreams of a future where Mars is safe and inhabitable for the millions of people left living on a dying Earth. He knows he won’t live long enough to see the day his and his fellow miners’ efforts come to fruition, and he’s OK with that. His kids, or his grandkids, or his great grandkids will enjoy the freedom and safety he works so hard for, day in, day out.

He’s pretty damn good at his job – the best, you might say – and well respected in his community. He’s also married to the love of his life, Eo, at the ripe old age of sixteen. Life under the surface is short and explosive (sometimes literally), so there’s no time to waste when it comes to true love.

Unfortunately though, things aren’t quite what they seem. (Are they ever?) The Golds, a race of “superior” humans that rules over the Reds and other colours, have been keeping a dark secret for decades – the surface has been inhabitable for years and is now covered with a stunning metropolis overflowing with wealth, decadence, and indulgence whilst the Reds suffer and struggle for survival in the mines.

But a rebellion has been brewing for a while, and the rebels believe they’ve found their front-man in Darrow. He’s not convinced though, until a series of shocking and heartbreaking events forces him to accept his new fate.

Disguised as a Gold (think the residents of the Capitol in The Hunger Games), he’s thrown into a competition that pits young members of the Gold caste against each other in a battle of mental and physical fortitude to select the next group of leaders. If he survives, he’ll never be the same again.

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I enjoyed Red Rising, I gave it 3.5 stars, but I had incredibly high hopes after everything I’d heard and it didn’t quite meet them. I wonder whether I might have enjoyed the paperback more, but there was nothing I could pinpoint about the narrator that bothered me, I just can’t put my finger on why this didn’t do it for me like it did for so many others.

One of the reasons I think is because of the other books I was comparing it to, for me it had really strong similarities to The Hunger Games (the segregated castes and deadly competition) and Nevernight (the Ancient Roman influence), two of my absolute favourite books, and it wasn’t quite as good as those two, in my opinion. I still enjoyed it, and would consider continuing to read the rest of the series when I’m caught up on my TBR. Especially as so many people who’s tastes I share, and who’s opinions I respect recommend it.

Have you read Red Rising? Did you love it? Tell me if you think I should read book two!

Lyndsey

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Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Wow. I haven’t read a book I’ve enjoyed as much as Graceling in ages. If you’re looking for a book to get you out of a slump, or just a really fantastic little YA fantasy, you can’t go wrong with this one.

TL;DR Katsa is Graced with the ability to kill. Her uncle, the king of one of seven kingdoms in the realm, has trained her to be his enforcer and assassin, but Katsa has had enough of killing. When she meets a Graced prince from another kingdom, she finds herself falling in love and running towards danger. But both are hiding secrets and neither of their Graces are quite what they seem…

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

5 stars

After accidentally killing a man during a childish tantrum, Katsa (and everyone around her) realised she was one of the rare Graced: people who possess a particular skill – more than just a natural ability – and that her skill was, unfortunately, killing. Her uncle, one of seven kings who rule the realm, saw an opportunity and decided to turn his young niece into a cold-blooded killer, using her reputation to inspire fear in his enemies.

Now seventeen, Katsa is well-known around the Seven Kingdoms, having been her uncle’s enforcer for years. But she’s sick of doing his dirty work, so along with a few allies, Katsa has formed a council that works under the king’s nose to spare his would-be victims. On one mission to rescue a kidnapped grandfather being held in the dungeon, Katsa runs into Prince Po, another Graceling with the skill of fighting.

Katsa finds herself falling for the mysterious prince, and when she finally builds the courage to tell her uncle she won’t do his bidding anymore, the two royal Gracelings end up on a journey to a far away kingdom where rumours abound and strange happenings are all too common. But, as they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Secrets come to light, life-changing self-discoveries are made, and lies are exposed in the explosive final chapters of this book!

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I fell in love with Graceling the way you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once (little The Fault in our Stars reference for you there). It builds quite slowly at first, in my opinion, but once I knew who was who, and the story started to kick into high gear, I was absolutely hooked.

I gave it 5 stars, because it’s a new favourite, I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this for months. Maybe even a year? It’s a pretty classic YA fantasy, done exactly right, and now joins the ranks of A Court of Mist and Fury and Nevernight in my ‘best books ever’ section.

That’s all I have to say about it really, just go and read it if you haven’t already, and you’re a YA fantasy fan. I’d even recommend it to adult fantasy fans, the characters are teens but it’s definitely got a more broad appeal, I would say. Plus, there are two more books in the series – not exactly sequels as they follow different characters (with the occasional cameo I believe) in the Graceling realm. I’m planning to get the other two books, Bitterblue (a character who appears in Graceling, so that’s exciting) and Fire, on Audible at some point, as I listened to the audio book of Graceling and really enjoyed the experience, and I tend to stick to either audio or paperback depending on how I read book one of a series, for continuity.

I’ll be sure to review books two and three as soon as I read them, but my Audible library is currently bursting at the seams with Children of Blood and Bone, The Lies of Locke Lamora, An Ember in the Ashes, Scythe, Escaping from Houdini, and lots more fabulous reads. And that’s not even counting my physical TBR pile, or the podcasts I’ve got stacking up…

I’d better get reading! See you next time.

Lyndsey

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