Size Doesn’t Matter (152): The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue; Radical Hope

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (152): The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue; Radical HopeThe Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Published by Katherine Tegen on June 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 528
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

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 waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on 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 traveling 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 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 that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has been recommended to me since way before it had a book cover. I mean, the announcement sounded like such Christina catnip, and several friends of mine got to read it pre-ARC. All of them told me how much I would love this book. Well, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue fits the bill of a Christina book, with a strong ship, lovely writing, and lush historical setting.

Let’s start by getting that clear: this book is excellent. Mackenzi Lee’s writing is beautiful, full of detail and humor. There are clever references littered throughout like shiny little easter eggs waiting to be discovered. She writes lush historical descriptions alongside snappy banter.

Here’s the slightly sad part: I did think the book dragged a bit. The plot didn’t engage me fully. It’s interesting, and I was never bored, but the pace was pretty slow. I didn’t find the mystery/alchemy part especially compelling, and the stakes felt really low. They spend a lot of time adventuring around Europe, and I loved that, but I think I might have been more into it if the plot hadn’t been trying to be high stakes, if that makes sense.

Moving back to awesome stuff, Lee’s a history nerd, and that totally comes through. I really want to know why there aren’t a bunch of YA novels set during the Grand Tour because it’s such an untapped reservoir of romance and travel stories.

There’s also the fact that the whole novel is basically Monty having to confront his privilege. Monty’s loved Percy platonically for basically ever, and he’s been in love with Percy for a while now. He feels like he knows him better than anyone ever could, but the trip forces him to realize how much he doesn’t understand what it’s been like for Percy to grow up half black. Monty also comes to understand his little sister, Felicity, who he always thought was annoying. View Spoiler »

Monty’s a great character, and it’s fun to travel around in his head. He’s one of those people who, having been told what a disappointment he is all his life, tries to live down to those expectations. He suffers that upper class male syndrome of hating all his privilege but being afraid to escape it. He’s bisexual but has a marked preference for boys, which has earned his father’s immense displeasure. One thing I super love about Monty is how horny he is. You don’t get a lot of general horniness in YA, so much as intense loves, but Monty’s attracted to so many of the men and women he sees.

Monty and Percy are super cute and frustrating. Basically, you will spend the whole book wanting to shake Monty for interpreting things the wrong way, not just using his words, and for sabotaging himself. (This will be addressed, don’t worry, but you will want to shake him a lot.) When you’re not mentally shaking Monty, you will be trying really desperate to shove their faces and/or bodies together. The NOW KISS is strong with this one. SO STRONG.

I read this six months early, and the hype was already strong here. You probably already know that you should read this book, so I guess I’ll just say “yes, yes, it is indeed jolly good.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (152): The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue; Radical HopeRadical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times by Carolina De Robertis
Narrator: Adenrele Ojo, Kaleo Griffith
Length: 7 hrs, 43 mins
Published by Random House Audio on May 2, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, Politics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Radical Hope is a collection of letters—to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged--written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists. Provocative and inspiring, Radical Hope offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear, in view of the recent US presidential election.

I’ve been trying to diversify some of my reading, so I’ve been listening to a fair amount of nonfiction audiobooks lately. With a good narrator, it can make nonfic a lot more enjoyable for me than it can be in print. Radical Hope proved much more broad of scope than I anticipated in a really good way.

Going into this, I was worried that the message and commentary would be repetitive, since obviously this collection was set up to react to the presidential election. Actually, though, the authors come at the topic from a whole lot of different angles, and there’s a fair amount of international focus. It’s not just about the US or just about Trump, so there was a surprising amount of variety.

I especially loved the letter concept. I hadn’t been sold on it initially, but that really does help the authors come at the basic prompt from a number of different lenses and in varying ways, because they’re talking to such disparate audiences. In many cases, this also makes the letters much more heartfelt, personal, and impactful. Ojo and Griffith are both great narrators, but I would have preferred if the authors had been able to narrate their own letters. Two voices for so many isn’t quite as effective, no matter how talented those voices.

The stories are often hard to take, obviously, and it’s not something that I can say I necessarily enjoyed reading even though it was all very well done. It’s a solid and important collection, but in no way a fun read, because it’s not meant to be.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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