Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Pages: 513 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions – not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or walking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks n his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is 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 travelling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow,, he vows to make this year long escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turn their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

The Review

I don’t really know what I was expecting from Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I was seduced by the slightly Byronic cover. I wasn’t expecting an intercontinental LGBT swashbuckling adventure.

It was rather a good romp around Europe.

The main crux of the story is the forbidden love between Monty and Percy amidst the hope of developing medicine in the 18th century. Throw in thievery, alchemy and piracy and you somewhat got a picture of how this story develops.

One thing that can be said with utter conviction about The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is that there is no other book out there like it.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is available now

For more information regarding Mackenzi Lee (@themackenzilee) please visit www.mackenzilee.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollins) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

Carnegie's MaidTitle: Carnegie’s Maid

Author: Marie Benedict

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks

The Blurb

From the author of The Other Einstein comes the mesmerizing story of love, power, and the woman who inspired an American dynasty. 

In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances.  Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady’s maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie.  Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie’s search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy.

With capturing insight and sunning heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.

The Review

Before I read Carnegie’s Maid I knew very little about Andrew Carnegie’s life. I knew that he had been a philanthropist and encouraged reading – not just for those who were well off but those who couldn’t necessarily afford to buy books. That was about it.

What I did know was that I was eager to learn more. Marie Benedict’s fictional portrayal of Andrew Carnegie’s life was really interesting. The story is steeped in facts but with a delicious fictional love story wrapped around them. The love story between Andrew and Clara transcends class and was an absolute delight to read.

Carnegie’s Maid is an exceptional story and is a must read for fans of historical fiction.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict is available now.

For more information regarding Sourcebooks (@Sourcebooks) please visit their Twitter page.

4 Stars

the-last-beginningTitle: The Last Beginning (The Next Together, #2)

Author: Lauren James

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Walker Books

The Blurb

The epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history?

Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation? For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

The Review

The Last Beginning is the follow up to The Next Together which was, personally, my most surprising read of the year. It was surprising because I never expected to really enjoy a Time Travel Sci-Fi Historical YA Romance but I genuinely did. I also loved the small novella Another Together that accompanied The Next Together. The third in the series is also pretty awesome.

The Last Beginning follows Clove, the child of Matt and Kate. Clove has no idea that her parents Tom and Jen are not her birth parents and when she finds out who her actual parents are a whole can of worms (wormholes) is opened and it is up to Clove to fix things.

I genuinely loved The Last Beginning. I loved it for many reasons; the first being that I don’t feel like James was flogging a dead horse. She did a sequel which introduced a new protagonist but claimed the original story thread. That is impressive as is the ability to plan ahead with a story. Time travel is a phenomenon that when I think about it too much my head gets all lost in the paradox but James addresses this and it all seems to work out. Huzzah.

Seriously though, The Next Together series is ridiculously good. It is clever, witty and engaging. If you like your YA fiction to be a bit different then you must read this series.

The Last Beginning (The Next Together, #2) by Lauren James.

For more information regarding Lauren James (@Lauren_E_James) please visit www.laurenejames.com.

For more information regarding Walker Books (@WalkerBooksUK) please visit www.walker.co.uk.

4-stars

 

The People We Were Before Book CoverThe Blurb

If war is madness, how can love survive?

Yugoslavia, summer 1979. A new village. A new life. But eight-year-old Miro knows the real reason why his family moved from the inland city of Knin to the sunkissed village of Ljeta on the Dalmatian Coast, a tragedy he tries desperately to forget.

The Ljeta years are happy ones, though, and when he marries his childhood sweetheart, and they have a baby daughter, it seems as though life is perfect. However, storm clouds are gathering above Yugoslavia.

War breaks out, and one split-second decision destroys the life Miro has managed to build. Driven by anger and grief, he flees to Dubrovnik, plunging himself into the hard-bitten world of international war reporters.

There begins a journey that will take him ever deeper into danger: from Dubrovnik, to Sarajevo, to the worst atrocities of war-torn Bosnia, Miro realises that even if he survives, there can be no way back to his earlier life. The war will change him, and everyone he loves, forever.

The Review

Wow. What can I say about The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe? My mind has been blown apart by this novel.

Ok, let’s start here:

I was born in 1983. I was raised in Liverpool and I have spent my years trying to consume as much information and knowledge as I could. Yet I knew nothing about the war in Kosovo. Sure I had heard about it on the news but I was too little to comprehend what was happening. This book, The People We Were Before, has changed that somewhat. I’m shocked at my ignorance of a genocide that took place in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nothing.

The People We Were Before could be described in many ways: a family saga, a romance, a thriller, historical fiction, war story. It cannot be pigeonholed into just one category.

Thorpe’s story focuses on Miro, a young boy whose family has just moved to the Dalmatian Coast with his family amidst the stirrings of political strife. The story develops along with Miro’s change from boy into man; the trials and tribulations that grown up life bring shakes Miro’s world to the very core and his life mirrors the chaos of the warzone that is developing in Dubrovnik.

Thorpe’s character development is tremendous. I truly felt the familial ties between Miro and his brother Goran, I enjoyed the friendships that Miro developed and I fell hopelessly for his love story with Dina. I became part of the story with them. When an author can so seamlessly transport me to another world I know that I am reading something pretty special.

Whilst normally I am a character driven reader it was the descriptions of the abject horrors of war that really packed a punch with me. The panic and the mayhem that Thorpe portrays in The People We Were Before is astounding. My heart was beating wildly throughout most of the book as I felt true panic for Miro and co.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is the most ambitious debut I have read in a long time and fortunately for Thorpe she delivers.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is available now.

5 Stars

The People We Were Before Tour Poster

A Week in ParisThe Blurb

A captivating story of love, courage and survival set in wartime Paris and the early 1960s, by the bestselling author of The Silent Tide

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?

1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations.

The Review

I’ve never been an avid reader of historical novels. In part, this is due to the fact that I only have interest in certain parts of history (I know, I’m awful). I think my aversion to historical fiction, in particular to wartime fiction has been that my mother tends to read nothing but. However, I am not one to be prejudice and I gave Rachel Hore’s A Week in Paris a read.

I must say, A Week in Paris is a wonderful, heartbreaking, and harrowing story of a young family trying to survive occupied France and the repercussions that are still felt nearly two decades later. The characters are wonderfully crafted as is the tale of mystery.

However, I personally found sections of this book a bit of a chore to read. For me, the pacing was all wrong which is a shame because the actual story is rather interesting and the factual element made it all the more compelling.

If you like historical fiction then please give A Week in Paris a read – more so if you are interested in wartime France.

A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore is available now.

35 Stars