Tuesday, 30 April 2019

April Wrap-up

At this point, I'm ready to put this down as a slow blogging year.

News from the Reading Front

I read four books this month
I have a review for the last one scheduled for next month. Hooray! Progress!

News from the Writing Front


I'm writing this post too early to tell, as I am going to be busy at the end of the month, but I doubt at this point that I will make it to 20,000 words of edits and rewrites. I am, however, happy with the progress that I have made this month. It might not be a huge amount, but I'm moving forward. For once, that feels like enough.

If you missed it this time round, Camp NaNoWriMo happens again in July. You can set your own target and change it up until the last week of the month, which makes it a much more flexible challenge than NaNoWriMo in November.  

How was your April?

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Broaden Your Bookish Horizons

Most of us have a good idea of what we like to read, whether that's YA fantasy or science fiction, comedic plays or nonsense poetry. There are people who read murder mysteries by the stack and people who curl up in bed with a romance novel every week. Readers who would follow Lucy Pevensie into Narnia, and readers who would rather donate their entire bookshelf. And, you know what? That's a good thing. It's great that you know what you like and you shouldn't let anyone tell you otherwise! That said, if we always stick to genres, writers, and series that we know are safe, we're bound to miss books that we'd love. 

I cannot believe I'm saying this, because I hate change with a passion, but sometimes it's - *shudders* - good to step out of your comfort zone.

(Keep going. You're not doing too badly.)

Different people read at different rates. Some people read one hundred books a year. Others read one a month. If you don't have a lot of time to read, you might be reluctant to inject some variety. After all, if you don't enjoy it, you've wasted your reading time. But if you've had a couple of one or two star reads in the genres you love, a palette cleanser might do you some good.

A good place to start might be borrowing a book off a friend or relative. Trust me, most of the darker manga I've read, I didn't pick out myself. Ditto most of the murder mysteries. Borrowing books costs nothing, and it gives you someone to discuss the story with. If you're not comfortable with borrowing books (because I know an awful lot of bookworms who flee at the very idea of lending books out), you could try your local library. Check out shelves you wouldn't normally and pick up the first book that sounds appealing. You just might find a new must-read writer. A new favourite fictional couple. A new type of hero to follow into hell.

How often do you step out of your bookish comfort zone? 

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Historical Fiction? On My Blog? (The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee)



"I have become the Grand Tour horror story, the cautionary tale for parents before they send their boys off to the continent." - Mackenzi Lee, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, page 499

I feel like I say this every other post, but, once again, I am late to the party on this one. 

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is supposed to follow Monty, Percy, and Felicity on their grand tour of the continent, but one hundred pages in Percy makes a questionable decision and the tour is promptly hijacked by an adventure novel.

 I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I do love history, and a module I took at university gave the eighteenth century a special place in my heart. When Felicity mentioned Eliza Haywood's amatory novels, I almost hit the roof! The version I read had a section about the historical time period in the back, with lots of details about where Lee drew her inspiration for her characters. None of them are conventional for the time period. Monty is bisexual and strongly implied to have PTSD from domestic abuse. Percy is gay, biracial, and epileptic. Felicity is a woman who longs to study medicine. One thing I loved about this novel was that it didn't shy away from the context of the time period. Lee didn't rewrite history to suit her characters, she dropped them into the eighteenth century and asked how people would have responded to them. Despite it's handling of a number of contemporary societal issues, the book remains a lighthearted romantic comedy. 

I found the plot dragged a little for me once they went looking for the panacea. It didn't help that Percy was obviously not interested in it. Anyone could see that, but apparently not Monty. To be fair, his major flaw was selfishness. At least we got a complicated villain out of it in the form of Helena, who was, as all my favourite villains seem to be, driven by love. Not romantic love either.  

The romance was the type of will they/won't they drama that makes you want to throw the book across the room. And I say that with love. It's not that it's a slow-burn, given what happens early on, but there's a lot keeping the characters apart. Monty's mouth, for one. And two. And three. And - well, you get the picture. 

I suspect everybody reading this review has already read the novel, but if you haven't and you fancy a romp through historical Europe, this is the novel for you.

Read any historical fiction recently?