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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 by Matthew Pearl
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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review 2014-11-18 04:43
Review-Where Darkness Lies
Where Darkness Lies - Bella Jewel

Where Darkness Lies is the second book in the latest series by Bella Jewel. Some months ago the first book was released and we saw the major players, in this story, which continues off from where the first book left off...which was a cliffhanger of sorts. We have Dimitri who is the son of Hendrix (hero of first book), and has some abandonment issues with his father. Dimitri has gone through hell when he was a teenager and there is one man on his mission for revenge...Hendrix. So Dimitri kidnaps Jess right in front of him. Jess has suffered her own hellish past, but Hendrix saved her and showed her a new way of living, and has been like the father she always dreamed of having. Now she is kidnapped, having no idea what Dimitri is really capable of...a man that makes her quiver in fear, but at the same time she feels a certain spark with him, one that she can't explain. Dimitri and Jess start to learn of each other and the importance of trust in a relationship, and soon that trust is to be tested in ways that they can't even imagine....

What a story!!! I just fell in love with this story...I honestly didn't know what would happen in this one. I recently fell in love with Bella Jewel, and I love a good pirate romance...and this one has a contemporary feel to it, which was different but was quite exciting and felt fresh in different ways. This story is very intense and dramatic at times, and had me on the edge of my seat...and I will be honest, it kept me up all night reading it!! Which doesn't happen too often anymore, but this story was one I have been anxiously waiting for ever since I read the first book.

The characters in the story are pretty dynamic and full of depth in their characters. There were some things I just didn't see until revealed. Dimitri, is a man bent on revenge for some pretty horrid things done to him in his past, and he blames his father for it, even though Hendrix had no clue about it. We see how Dimitri really struggled with this both emotionally and mentally. He is quite a powerful man, and surely can fight in a ring...whew he could definitely heat the room by about 10 degrees or more. I wouldn't mind having that man at my mercy, he is sexy and steamy HOT!! Despite his past, he knows how to give a girl a good time, but he also has his own issues and there is only one woman that can truly handle him, a woman that can't have sex. Jess has a horrid past, and has been sexually abused, and has never had a positive experience when it comes to the bedroom...she stays far away from it..until she finds herself at the mercy of Dimitri and she feels desire for the first time in her life. We see Jess grow as a character, and learn the meaning of trust especially when it comes to intimacy. Despite the fact that Dimitri is really rough around the edges, he changes around Jess...he is gentle at times and I enjoyed how he handles her past and the trauma and, and enjoyed how the emotional intimacy of this couple really comes through and they help each other heal from their pasts.

This story is quite intense at times, in every way.. If I had to pick my favorite aspect it would be the balance of emotional and physical intimacy that is put in this story, and Bella Jewel creates a gem of a story that captured by heart and attention. Very memorable and I found it to be packed with just about everything I love in a romance with this level of intensity. I do warn, it is not a light hearted romance...its full of tough issues and can get gritty and rough at times...but also it has it soft moments that wins your heart, there is so much about this story I adored. I loved the dynamics, the winning love story, and the real world issues that are brought to light, that create a love story to never forget. A JEWEL OF A READ!!

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