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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-12 06:47
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2) by Mackenzi Lee
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy - Mackenzi Lee

I must admit I only bought this because I wanted the bonus novella which came with the pre-order and centers around Monty and Percy, the central characters of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue which is the previous novel in this series. This time the focus is on Monty's sister Felicity, and while both siblings have their own shortcomings, Felicity is a prickly personality who just doesn't have Monty's special charm of being simultaneously ridiculous and ridiculously endearing. I perked up when Monty surprisingly appears again near the end of the novel, as I only expected him and Percy to feature at the beginning.

I did like the feminist theme of the book—it's not often that I read a YA feminist historical adventure novel with elements of fantasy—and how it explores women's struggles for a fulfilling life and work during the eighteenth century. I especially liked Felicity's childhood friend Johanna and her character's message that just because she likes pretty dresses and make up and parties, it doesn't mean she's frivolous or shouldn't be taken seriously or can't be smart and confident and accomplished at the same time.

One thing that bugged me though was the author consistently mistaking 'treaties' for 'treatise' throughout the book. So we have Felicity reading 'treaties' to learn about medicine and wanting to write her own 'treaty', when she's referring to a written exposition rather than an agreement.

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review 2018-10-05 02:54
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats & Piracy
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy - Mackenzi Lee

If Gentleman's Guide is a queer romantic romp then Lady's Guide is a girl power anthem. The heart of this book revolves around the way women walk through the world, see themselves, and interact with each other. Felicity has to navigate a landscape that continually tries to force her down paths she'd rather not take until she can realize the real trap is trying to follow the map others have laid before her. She needs to discover her own way, and her own truth.


There are so many wonderful lessons in here, especially for younger women just starting to figure out who they are and who they want to be. There is also some truly fantastic representation. The ladies in this book are all varied and believable, and there is quite possibly the best representation of an ace character I've ever seen. There's also adventure, and sea serpents, and pirates, and science. Monty and Percy even make a cameo or two. Which is all absolutely wonderful.


The trouble comes, for me, in that the lessons at the core of the book take front and center, and they are hammered home pretty hard and pretty repeatedly. At this point in my life reading a book about how hard it is to be a woman, and how one must believe in oneself, is not just preaching to the choir, it's exhausting. Been there, done that, handed the T-shirts out at the rally. Here's the thing: I'm not the demographic for this book. I love that this book exists. I'm excited to press it into the hands of young women. But it missed the mark a tad for me. I love Mackenzi Lee so much for writing this book, even if I didn't wholeheartedly love this book as much as I wanted to.


If you want this book be the lighthearted romp Gentleman's Guide was you might be disappointed. But if you want to read Felicity's journey to empowerment with her equally powerful gal pals this one will likely tickle you to no end.

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review 2018-04-28 17:48
The Last Bookaneer - Matthew Pearl

Copyright laws are to go into effect on both sides of the Atlantic.  Bookaneers are book pirates who steal from authors, booksellers, current owners and give to buyers who have hired them.  It is learned that Robert Louis Stevenson is dying and working on his seemingly last book and the most elite bookaneers are after the book. 


I loved this book.  How imaginative!  I like the glimpse into Stevenson's life in Samoa.  I also like how the story is told--past and present (present being 1890's.)  Characters abound--all flawed.  I rooted for Davenport but was shocked by all their endings.  Excellent storytelling.  I was grabbed from the beginning and held on for the ride.  A keeper!

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review 2016-10-29 20:57
Secrets, lies and conspiracies.
The Illuminati: The Counter Culture Revolution-From Secret Societies to Wilkileaks and Anonymous - Robert Howells

I obtained an ARC copy of this book through NetGalley and Watkins Publishing and I freely chose to review it.

I haven’t read any works of fiction related to the Illuminati but I came across them in my profession. I’m a psychiatrist and I’ve had several patients suffering from paranoid ideas that involved conspiracy theories and in more than one occasion they believed the Illuminati to be behind them. Although I read about them at the time, when I saw this book I felt curious and thought it would be a good chance to learn more.

The book isn’t exactly what I’d imagined. It does look at the history of the Illuminati movement — talking about its roots in the past and history, its relationship to religious and political movements and to big historical events (like the French Revolution) — and the latter part of the book links it to counter-revolution and counterculture up to the present time (with such phenomena as Anonymous, Wikileaks, digital piracy and hacking). This is not a critical account of the movement, as it is written by somebody with deep insider knowledge who appears to be a big believer and personally invested in the cause. I found the historical part interesting but also interspersed with plenty of detail about the process of indoctrination and their teachings, rather than individual facts. For me, it was more of a history of their ideas and philosophies rather than a detailed account of the movement and its people.

The modern part I found fascinating. Comparing many of the counter-cultural movements (beats, hippies, punk…) to the Illuminati, be it in their anti-institutionalised or anti-authority stances, or in their secret and anti-establishment nature (like hackers and Wikileaks) the author builds a strong argument for the continuity of the Illuminati’s philosophies in many of these groups and he makes a call for everybody to join in with their ideals of exposing corruption and removing the power from those who use it for personal benefit and don’t morally deserve it. Some of the arguments are very personal and down to the author’s interpretation, and as mentioned before, this is not a book that tries to expose both sides of the argument. I enjoyed the modern part and some of the comments and parallelisms it draws, although people who are strong believers in institutionalised religions might find it offensive, and some of its ideas can be too personal for others (his view of hackers and piracy might not be shared by many).

If readers are looking for an enthusiastic and eager discussion on the subject from somebody sympathetic to its tenets who expresses his opinion without hesitation, you will find it interesting, but it is not the book to read if one seeks a neutral or rigorously critical evaluation of the subject.

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text 2016-08-13 23:00
Black Sails and Piracy

So I got to watching Starz's Black Sails recently and although I was hesitant at first, expecting it to be kind of corny, it soon grew on me and I've been binge watching it. The show has grown through the second season and I particularly like Toby Stephens as Captain Flint. (RLS' Treasure Island Captain Flint). I like how they have blended fictional characters in with the romanticized real life ones such as Blackbeard & Charles Vane.


Anyway all of this led me to start thinking about the history of the Caribbean and in particular piracy. From my initial wikipedia searches I found that information seems sparse, which is understandable, given that we're talking about 400 year old history, but I knew there would be someone out there that has written a solid, engaging history. 


And so I'm now at the point where I've just purchased 3 books from Amazon based on recommendations from varying places. David Cordingly's name kept popping up with his history Under the black Flag and his more recent Spanish Gold. Finally I stumbled upon Carrie Gibson's Empire's Crossroads. 


To be honest I'm sat here now and I'm thinking to myself, how have I left it so long to delve into piracy. Perhaps it's because it's typically romanticized for children, who can pretend to be adventurous, marauding captains with their plastic sword, pirate hat play set from the local toy shop.


Maybe because of this glamorizing of piracy in modern day society and the lack of reliable evidence available it's hard differentiate between what is legend or fantasy and what was real. Hopefully my three purchases will help enlighten me. 

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