The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

Thank you to Netgalley, Edelweiss, and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

While I have rarely read a book about pirates, it isn’t for lack of trying. I LOVE PIRATES but I just haven’t found many novels that feature them. That’s why I was absolutely psyched to be approved for this title and give my opinion on it! So here is my review:

32295460Summary (Goodreads): There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.


Review:

Oh boy… where do I start with this novel? I so wanted to love it but it just did not work at all. I think the idea was fantastic. It just failed on execution.

I found the story to be quite boring, which is weird because this is a book about PIRATES. But it really just felt like nothing was happening throughout the story; at times, it even felt like a biography than an actual fictional tale. I think this can be attributed to the fact that the characters were very one-dimensional and were hard to connect with. It was hard to distinguish the different voices of the characters because they just didn’t really have much of a personality. I think Anne Bonny was developed a little bit better than Mary Reade, but even that is a bit of a stretch. I also didn’t love the writing as it was far too juvenile for this type of story. It read more like a middle grade book than a YA fiction novel. It also seemed as if it was just a draft copy and not a full-fledged book. It definitely needed a lot more editing for the story to really shine through.

I don’t want to go on and on bashing this novel. Clearly, the author had a really great concept and just wasn’t able to follow through with it. Suffice to say that it wasn’t what I had wanted or expected. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 1/5 stars.

1 star

Happy reading ~

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

I really wanted to read something lighthearted recently. I’ve been under a lot of stress in my Masters and I wanted a funny book that would lift my spirits. I’d been seeing this book everywhere and was lucky enough to get my hands on an audio version of it, making my commute to my school that much better. It did take me longer to get through this novel but I was happy to have read something that was more of a comedy! Here are my thoughts:

29283884.jpgSummary (Goodreads): 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.


My Rating: 3 star

Review: This was a funny read, for sure. But while I liked it, I can’t say that it was my most favourite of reads.

Let me start with some of the positive things about this book:

I loved the setting and the premise for this story, with its diverse cast of characters. I am seriously obsessed with anything from the Victorian era and this book did not disappoint! The author seamlessly integrated the historical time point into the actual plot of the story, making everything sound so natural that I felt like I was living in that era myself! There wasn’t a single point where the author slipped up and I was so happy to see that level of consistency!

I also loved that the story prominently features LGBTQ romance. At first, I was a little worried as to how the author would blend this with the historical time frame that the story was set in, but it was done really well! I also thought the interactions between the two characters (and yes, I’m referring to Percy and Monty, which is quite obvious from the premise) was really really cute!

My two favourite characters of the story were definitely Felicity (Monty’s younger sister) and Percy, as both were very intelligent. They were logical and were able to perfectly balance out Monty’s narcissistic and stupid tendencies.

Because, I’ll be honest, I really didn’t like Monty. To be fair, I did think he was funny in the beginning. He is a selfish character but he is hilarious and I could see why having him as an MC could really make this book shine. However, his selfishness and stupidity soon grew old. I did like that the author made him have some depth by bringing up the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. It gave him something more than just the shallowness he exuded. But while the author made this a consistent part of his personality (which I appreciated), it wasn’t enough to redeem his other behaviours.

I also felt that the plot had quite a few elements that seemed to be out of the blue and were just unnecessary. While it made sense, it wasn’t necessarily the greatest plot to follow and I found myself losing interest at times.

And yet, despite these negative elements, I really did find the story to be cute and funny. I enjoyed listening to the trio go on their adventure and see Monty start to change a bit here and there. I was looking for something lighthearted and I got it. And I have to admit that the deeper themes of the story were definitely there, so this wasn’t just a shallow cute read. Since I still enjoyed the book, I’m giving it a 3/5 stars and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a cute historical fiction story!

Happy reading ~

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – Winternight Trilogy #2

I’m so lucky to have gotten my hands on this book as soon as it released! I have been really bad when it comes to series; I almost always preorder the books, but when they arrive, I never read them. This is what has happened with the Queen of the Tearling series (I promise I will get to it soon!), but I was determined to not let it happen here! As soon as I received my copy, I put aside all of my other books. So now, here is my review:

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya has very few options: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both restrict her freedom and her chances of seeing the vast world. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

As usual, the author has delivered a stunning historical fantasy novel. I love how true the author stays to historical Russian events and Russian mythology throughout the story. It is so easy for the reader to imagine this vivid setting and fall into the story. There are loads of supernatural elements in the story but they are worked into this intricate political plot. I’m always surprised to see this combination work as well as it does, because it just seems so contradictory! I also love learning about Russian culture and mythology through this novel; it’s something I’ve always been fascinated by and the author really does an amazing job of making it come to life through Vasya’s adventure. This story takes place almost right where the first book left off. I found it interesting that the first perspective wasn’t Vasya’s but one of her siblings, instead. I thought that this novel had more action and adventure than the previous novel in the series. This kept my interest up, but I also wish that there had been more mystery, which is what I had loved about The Bear and the Nightingale. In all fairness, I think I preferred the first book to this one. The Bear and the Nightingale had this wonderful depth and development of character even though it lacked the fast pace of The Girl in the Tower. I almost wish that there had been a little less action and a little more focus on the character relationships (especially between Vasya and Morozko!) and the mythology. Overall, this was still a really great novel and I cannot wait for the third book in this trilogy! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love novels on alternative history. It’s always interesting to ask “what would the world have been like if this had happened instead of this”? It is so easy to take for granted the life we have, and to not realize that just some minor changes to historical events could have drastic consequences for the future. That was what drew me to this novel when I first saw the premise. Now, here is my review:

Nazi England, 2014. Jessika Keller is the epitome of what it means to be a good girl: champion ice skater, model student of the Bund Deutscher Mädel, and dutiful daughter of the Greater German Reich. When she first met her best friend, Clementine, she was happy to find someone different from her, someone whom she could take under her wing. But Clementine is not so submissive. Clementine is outspoken, dangerous, and radical. At first, it seemed funny. But now, the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend, her first love. But which can she live without?

I think this novel had a lot of potential. The story is really interesting and I was happy that the novel was told from the perspective of a teenage girl. The author touches on a lot of different topics like loyalty, sexuality, and freedom, and these topics were presented very well. Jessika is undoubtedly the main character, and the whole story is about how she is changed through her interactions with Clementine. The story is split into 3 parts that chronicle 3 different time points in Jessika’s life. I think that the strongest part of the book was Part One; this is where the story really developed. We only hear from Jessika’s perspective, but it is a very good perspective to read from as we see her ignorance being chipped away by the events she is seeing and the emotions she is experiencing. We see her try to reconcile between the truth and what she has always believed, and we see how hard she fights to maintain her innocence. This part made me feel the most connection to Jessika and it had me invested in the story. However, the second and third part of this story was a big let down. In the second part, the author went back and forth in time (again from Jessika’s perspective) but after the constant forward motion of the first part, this just made it confusing to read. I also thought that there were big jumps being made in the story that weren’t really addressed by the author. More detail and a more consistent flow would have made this section better. The last section of the novel was even more inconsistent; it felt like it wasn’t even part of the same book! Now, Jessika is at a different time point and age and there was no real transition to this new point. The abruptness really didn’t work for me and it left me disappointed in the ending, which didn’t have the depth of emotion that the first part had. Overall, this novel had a very interesting start but the choppiness of the second and third part of this book led to disappointment. I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~