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text 2019-05-31 23:40
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings Book 1) Kindle Edition by Mackenzi Lee
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee,Christian Coulson

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 LeeSimon 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.

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review 2019-01-15 15:44
Self help or self destruction?
Help Me! - Marianne Power
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway - Susan Jeffers
Money, A Love Story: Untangling Your Finances, Creating the Life You Really Want, and Living Your Purpose - Kate Northrup
The Secret - Rhonda Byrne
Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way - John C. Parkin
Earth Angels - Doreen Virtue
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change - Stephen R. Covey
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment - Eckhart Tolle
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead - Brené Brown
You Can Heal Your Life - Louise L. Hay

Marianne decides to explore 12 popular self-help books over 12 months at the beginning of one year and discovers that they're not always helpful.

 

If you're like me you've read a lot of self-help books and occasionally taken a few pieces of advice from them before inertia and time spent doing other things moves you away from the book.  I keep meaning to do a Kondo-esque tidy but it would require more of my energy than I'm willing to devote to it.  I do question if it sparks joy of things I'm putting away and I've removed a few things from my house as I'm asking that question.  (I also remind myself that I deserve better than the things that don't work on my skin or in my life etc.).  I also listen to the excellent By the Book Podcast and often agree with a lot of their points about the ones I've read.

 

The Books she chooses are: Feel the Fear and do it anyway; Money a love story; The Secret; F**k it: the ultimate spiritual way; Angels with Doreen Virtue; 7 Habits of Highly effective people; Power of Now; Get the Guy; Daring Greatly and You can heal your life.  She strugles with depression and becoming a bit of a self-centred ass for a while and all the time her very Irish mammy trys to steer her on a good path.

 

Like me she finds things that resonate in books and sometimes she obsesses a bit and I couldn't abandon my life for a year like she did to look inward but by the end she's less broken, mostly by connecting with the people who are real in her life.

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review 2018-10-05 02:27
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

When my co-workers started breathlessly glowing about this book I'll admit I was dubious. I'm not a fan of historical fiction, I don't usually like long books, and I'm picky about my romances. I avoided reading this one for about a year until my store announced we would be hosting Lee for a signing. At that point I figured I might as well give it a shot. I'm so glad I did!

 

I've read a lot of books in recent years that I've really enjoyed, maybe even loved, but very few of them were as fun as this one. I think I've become jaded. Rare is the book that I can't put down, that I can't wait to steal a moment in order to read, that keeps me reading past my bedtime. This was that book for me. It was just so damn fun!

 

Monty was a walking human disaster, the epitome of Bad Life Choices the Person. His voice charmed me - he made me cringe and laugh in equal measures. I also fell in love with Percy almost immediately. Watching them stumble through the plot, and Europe, was a grand adventure. Sprinkled amidst the adventure there was plenty of heart as well. Even though the primary tension in the romance was a lack of communication, which usually makes me nuts, I understood the reasons why characters made the mistakes they did. I was all aflutter despite myself. I also thought the explorations of race, abuse, illness, and queer identity were all handled with a light touch, and rang true and poignant. In short, I cared about these people and I found them believable.

 

There is a bit of a fantasy element stirred in, but it rather gets buried. At its core Gentleman's Guide is, through and through, a good, old-fashioned romp. It's an adventure and a romance with just a hint of the fantastic. Complete with wit, action, adventure, and an emotional core that left me laughing and hurting in equal measure, it was a recipe that made for a read I couldn't wait to dig back into whenever I got a chance. For me this was the literary equivalent of a warm mug of cocoa on a chilly night.

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review 2018-09-27 12:40
Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue by Eric Felten
Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue - Eric Felten

When looking for love and friendship—the things that make life worthwhile—we are looking for loyalty. Who can we count on? And who can count on us? These are the essential (and uncomfortable) questions loyalty poses. Loyalty and betrayal are the stuff of the great stories that move us: Agamemnon, Huck Finn, Brutus, Antigone, Judas. When is loyalty right, and when does the virtue become a vice? As Felten writes in his thoughtful and entertaining book, loyalty is vexing. It forces us to choose who and what counts most in our lives—from siding with one friend over another to favoring our own children over others. It forces us to confront the conflicting claims of fidelity to country, community, company, church, and even ourselves. Loyalty demands we make decisions that define who we are.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Eric Felten, a prize winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal, explores the subject of loyalty throughout the world, using as a basis various areas where this virtue is most strongly valued or illustrated:

 

* Examples throughout world history -- Felten puts a focus on the topic of loyalty as displayed in Greek history (Spartacus, Marcus Pacuvius) and mythology. WARNING: This book contains spoilers for the story of Pyramus & Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Eurpides' Orestes, Sophocles' Antigone, and Aeschylus' Agamemnon.

 

* World Literature -- Felten pulls examples of the theme of loyalty from works of Mark Twain, George Orwell, William Shakespeare and 1001 Arabian Nights. WARNING: There are spoilers for Orwell's Animal Farm, Twain's Huck Finn, 1001 Arabian Nights, Shakespeare's King Henry V, The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, and O. Henry's short story, "After 20 Years". Felten also gets into the sad story of Graham Green's youth. Now known for such classics as The Quiet American and The End of the Affair, Green's younger days were marked with heavy stress building from divided loyalties between his family (particularly his father, the headmaster of his school) and Green's school friends. The pressure got to be so much that at one point Green became convinced suicide was the only remaining answer. But as we now know, Green later overcame this dark period but actually went on to denounce the idea of loyalty altogether, at least outwardly. Elements of his work suggest that even in his later years he still saw value in the concept.

 

* Business --  Felten explores the psychology behind brand loyalty people develop for certain products and loyalty programs businesses implement to snag and keep customers

 

* Military / Law Enforcement -- how loyalty / codes of conduct in these environments are developed, in what ways it is important in these groups; when discussing law enforcement and more specifically prisons, gets into "prisoner dilema" and Reid Technique

 

 

Felten even looks at loyalty in regards to the entertainment industry, citing as one example the demise of the marriage between actress Sandra Bullock and motorcycle  manufacturing specialist Jesse James, after Bullock weathered a very public airing of James' adultery. 

 

What makes it one of the most highly regarded virtues and what dangers does one face when loyalty is misplaced? Loyalty in a person is undeniably admirable, particularly when it stems from an honest place without ill intent or ulterior motive. Having people in your life who truly have your back allows one to be more brave, pursue more dreams, attempt more daring feats and ultimately develop a more fulfilling life all around. But what to do, when society places a burden on a person to be loyal to someone who does NOT seem to have the other person's interests at heart? Some will follow orders and remain loyal to the figure anyway, even when the figure's actions move beyond being merely selfish into flat out immoral or illegal. Even so, their followers can STILL get caught up in that sense of loyalty, making it difficult to convince a person to separate themselves from the unhealthy person in their life. It's just one of those things that rarely catches on, at least right away. Here enters Felten's point on how loyalty can become "the vexing virtue... creating moral conflicts".

 

Felten's book pleads the case as to why loyalty is still an important virtue worthy of lifelong pursuit. He writes with an enjoyable humorous tone but the text itself does not remain riveting throughout. This little book only lightly delves into the topic and even there, Felten's points sometimes become repetitive, his main stance being (as you can guess from the title) on the vexing quality of loyalty... but he hits upon the "vexing" idea A LOT.

 

 

___________

 

EXTRAS:

 

* Here Eric Felten himself talk on the topic of loyalty in this short clip (book trailer of sorts?)

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review 2018-09-22 06:09
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1) by Mackenzi Lee
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee,Christian Coulson

I've read some YA books as well as books with queer characters, and historical fiction is among my favorite genres. I've read a few queer YA books and at least one book which might be considered historical YA, but The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue marks my first queer YA historical novel. And what an entertaining one it is.

 

It starts out with the main character Henry Montague (nicknamed Monty by his nearest and dearest), an 18-year-old bisexual English nobleman in the 1700s, embarking on an extended trip to Europe with his younger sister Felicity and his childhood best friend Percy, who he's also lately been pining for. It's full of YA romance tropes (the author herself calls it a 'tropey adventure novel' in her end note), but it's done well and is precisely what one would expect coming in. What I didn't expect was that the characters' journey through Europe is not exactly a light and merry road trip but an action-filled adventure complete with highway robbery, pirates in the high seas and a central plot which steers the book towards fantasy territory. It's practically calling to be made into a movie.

 

Our gentleman Monty is less of a true gentleman at first and more of a self-centered brat, but his heart is in the right place and he gets a chance to become a better person. Some reviews that I've seen find his selfishness and lack of sensitivity less than endearing, but even a rich lord who wants for nothing has his share of problems. Barely out of his teens, Monty has been physically and emotionally abused by his father for being gay, likely suffers from some form of alcoholism, and entertains suicidal thoughts on top of that. Aside from queer culture, other social issues are presented through the character of Percy, a mixed-race young man raised in an upper-class English household (another burden of his is that he secretly suffers from epilepsy, which is still grossly misunderstood and stigmatized during the era), and Felicity, a smart and feisty 15-year-old whose opportunities in life are limited for simply being a girl.

(spoiler show)

 

All of these hot-button topics make the book seem rather anachronistic although the author based them on actual history. The language itself seems a bit uneven and sometimes I feel it slips into modern expressions. But did I mention it's fun? At times it's serious and thought-provoking yet doesn't lose its underlying charm of being delightful, hilarious and overall rather silly. Mostly it's fun—so fun I didn't really want Monty and Percy's story to end.

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