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.

AdamTitle: Adam

Author: Ariel Schrag

Pages: 316 Pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Blurb

When Adam Freedman—a skinny, immature, and lackluster high school student from Piedmont, California—is sent by his parents to join his older sister Casey in New York City, he is hopeful that his life is about to change. And it sure does.

It is the Summer of 2006—the year of gay marriage demonstrations and the rise of transgender rights—and Casey has thrust herself into New York’s fringe lesbian, sexual, and political scene. Accustomed to being a social misfit, Adam now finds himself part of a wild subculture complete with underground clubs, drinking, and friendly women who take a surprisingly intense interest in him. It takes some time for him to realize many in this new crowd assume he is transgendered—a boy who was born a girl—or else why would he always be around? But then he meets Gillian, the girl of his dreams. If only she weren’t a lesbian! And if only she didn’t believe he was really (sort of) a girl.

Ariel Schrag’s scathingly funny and poignant debut novel puts a fresh spin on questions of love, attraction, self-definition, and what it takes to be at home in your own skin.

The Review

There are certain check lists that I have that let me know whether the book I am reading is enjoyable – sure there are the obvious ones such as great storyline, likeable characters, exciting setting but there is one thing that is bound to make me really enjoy a book. I can’t help it; I am a sucker for a coming of age story.

Adam is a coming of age story.

Adam is a 17 year old boy who has travelled to New York to spend the summer with his sister Casey. His life at home is going nowhere, his “friends” are tools, his mum’s overprotective nature is stifling and he just wants to be – for want of a better word – “normal”.

When Adam gets to Casey’s New York apartment he gets thrust into New Yorks LGBT scene with some interesting results. He meets new people, learns about a society that he hadn’t really understood before, becomes closer to his sister and he falls in love. I mean, Adam falls hard!

Unfortunately, Adam is mistaken for someone else. Adam’s moral dilemma is should he come clean about his deceit or should he keep enjoying the benefits…he’s only in New York for the summer, what harm can it do?

Adam is a brilliant story which highlights so many issues: growing up, the cruelness of teenagers, transgender society. It really is a melting pot of subplots and was bloody compelling. Not only that but I personally felt that I learned so much from this book about the LGBT community that I didn’t know. It really was a great read.

Adam by Areil Schrag is available now.

For more information regarding Areil Schrag (@arielschrag) please visit www.arielschrag.com.

For more information regarding Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo) please visit www.hmhco.com.

35 Stars

Brigitte Green has to escape. Her life in New Orleans has come to a crashing halt since her friend and mentor Rosa has died. Rosa’s last instruction to Brigitte was to go to Paris and find love, find someone to tango with.

Brigitte heeds this advice and high tails it to Paris to start a new life; a new life that doesn’t involve prostitution and shame. Brigitte wants to have a life that involves love and romance.

Enter Eva Laroche. Eva is working as a tour guide to subsidise her university education in law. She and Brigitte meet and initially despise each other but eventually their defences drop and the potential for romance blossoms.

So initially I read this book to indulge in my love for Paris; that was the defining factor in my choice of novel. I didn’t know what the subgenres of the book were (incidentally they are LGBT, family drama, history, romance etc) but what I got was a captivating story of love, not only of another person but also love of oneself.

The love story between Brigitte and Eva is a classic hate-turns-to-love story. You can’t help but root for them. You want them to get together and become LGBT heroines to parallel the historical love stories between women that Thrasher includes in First Tango in Paris. However, Brigitte is so ashamed of her past that she struggles to love and have pride in herself.

The historical elements of the story are fascinating. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about Parisian women through history (or their lesbian inclinations) to verify Thrasher’s writing. Either Thrasher has a creative mind and has manipulated historical events to suite her purpose or she has just thoroughly researched the historical elements. Whatever the truth is, this subject makes for interesting reading and made me want to read further into some of the key figures in French history.

I really enjoyed First Tango in Paris. The storyline flowed with effortless ease and the characters had me rooting for them. I can’t ask for much more in a novel.

First Tango in Paris by Shelley Thrasher is available in America on the 15th July 2014.

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