The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, is a YA (young adult) historical gay romance with a happy ending. Told in present tense, first person perspective. Monty, a young English Lord, is about to embark on his Grand Tour with his best friend and secret crush, Percy, a mixed race Peer. Along the way, they’re to drop off Percy’s sister, Felicity, at finishing school (no, not that Finishing School). But when Monty, in a fit of pique, steals something from the Duke of Bourbon, it sets off a chain of events that will see the party beset by highwaymen, pirates, and alchemists.
Monty and Percy have always been close but these last few years have seen Monty fall in love with Percy. Monty is a rake extraordinaire, flirting with and often bedding any young woman or man who takes his fancy. But with Percy it’s different. With Percy it’s love. Of course, Monty’s last affair with love saw him thrown out of school and beaten bloody by his father when it became known that his love was another boy. But Percy is worth the risk—if only Percy will realize Monty’s feelings are more than a fling. Continue reading “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue—Worth the Wait”→
Grave Importance, by Vivian Shaw, is the third and final book in the Dr. GretaHelsing series. Greta has been called in by a friend to temporarily run Oasis Natrun, an exclusive health clinic for mummies. Something is causing the patients to black out and it’s up to Greta to find out what. There’s also the matter of her best friend being cursed and needing to be taken to Hell, Sir Frances Varney proposing, and reality itself coming under attack.
1—The Whole Gang
All my favorite characters show up. Greta, of course. The vampire Ruthven and the vampyre Varney. But also the vampires Grisaille (who’s now Ruthven’s sweetie) and Emily from the second book. And from the first book there’s Cranswell—Ruthven’s friend who works at a London museum—and Nadezhda, Hippolyta, and Anna, Greta’s team at her London clinic. Not everyone gets a starring role, of course, but they’re all there. And there are new people to meet too—mummies, and angels, and Dr. Faust himself.
My two book system worked to get me through the last new book I read, but I haven’t needed it this week. I haven’t yet finished the new book (Grave Importance, by Vivian Shaw, book three in the Dr. Greta Helsing series) I’m reading, but I have managed to read just my new book without resorting to the old favorite (Curtsies and Conspiracies, by Gail Carriger, book two in the Finishing School series) this week. I have been reading some of my non-fiction book (Dreyer’s English, by Benjamin Dreyer), but that doesn’t take as much time as reading the old favorite, and I didn’t switch to it to come down from anxiety so much as because I just wanted to. Also I’ve often gone back to the Grave Importance after, which I’m about 1/3 of the way through! And though I haven’t managed to read every day this week, I’ve read more days of the week than not, which I consider another big win. All in all, I’m happy with my current reading progress.
Romancing the Inventor, a novella by Gail Carriger, follows Imogene, a maid at a vampire hive, as she falls in love with a heartbroken lady inventor.
Heat level, open door on the sex scenes but not terribly graphic.
Note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, but Romancing the Inventor is available as a stand-alone.
Everyone thinks Imogene arrogant because she won’t take a husband, but the truth is that no man appeals to her. She secretly pines for women, a thing illegal in Victorian England. So Imogene takes a job as a maid with the local vampire hive, hoping the countess might take an interest in her—supernaturals are exceptions to the law—but the countess, indeed all the vampires, ignore her. Continue reading “Romancing the Inventor—Unexpected Chances”→
The Princess Beard, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the third and final book in the Tales of Pelltrilogy, though it works fine as a stand-alone. The Lady Harkovrita wakes from a magical slumber in a tower to find herself with a beard and a decision—go back to her life to be married off to some jerk, or leave and find an adventure. She chooses the latter, and a new name, Morgan. On her way to becoming a pirate, she’ll become part of the weirdest crew to ever sail the seas, and save a lot of otters from a dastardly conspiracy.
There’s a whole cast of characters in this book, but I’m just going to introduce the main ones. The pirate captain, a talking parrot named Filthy Lucre who also goes by the moniker the Clean Pirate Luc. Tempest, a dryad who wants to become a lawyer before she turns into a carnivorous tree (and my favorite character in this book). Vic, a centaur misogynistic swole boy who can conjure tea and pastry and who, by the end of the book, I actually didn’t hate anymore (personal growth and all that). AndAlobartalus, an un-elfly elf who just wants to get away from the other elves and meet his hero, the Sn’archivist. All of these people, with the possible exception of Captain Luc, are trying to avoid their destinies and all of them must face said destinies head-on. Continue reading “The Princess Beard—Pirates, Parrots, and Otters”→
I’ve done a post on my favorite “comfort food” tv shows , so here’s one on my favorite comfort food books series—even if the latter might only be comforting to me. I’ve been battling with my anxiety—the power outages aren’t helping—and again having trouble reading or watching anything. So after I finish my current book—hoping to have the post up in a week or two—I’m diving into Fan Service, a compilation of two of Gail Carriger’s novellas and a short story. After that I’m going to re-binge-read the Finishing School series. Once I’m back into the habit of reading, I hope it’ll come easier. On with the comfort reads!
As well as the aforementioned Finishing School Series, Ms. Carriger has penned in the same world several other series (which you can find reviewedon this site), and numerous novellas (which I need to pick up, minus the aforementioned Fan Service ones). I’ve also read and reviewed her SF/Cozy Mystery/Romance book, The 5th Gender. All these book series end happily, as do the individual books (minus a romantic subplot cliffhanger in the second book of the Parasol Protectorate). What’s more, they feature supportive friendships, healthy romances, and downright interesting worlds. Much recommended, especially with a cup of your favorite tea. Continue reading “Comfort Food Books Series”→
Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a gothic horror novel from 1897, told in epistolary format—that is, as a series of journals, telegrams, letters, and newspaper clippings, etc. It’s the tale of those cursed to have a vampire come after them. It starts with the journal of Jonathan Harker, sent by his employer to the wilds of Eastern Europe to help Count Dracula with legal matters in purchasing property in London, England. Things go spectacularly wrong from there.
The first coincidence is that Dracula’s ship crashes into the beach of the town where Jonathan’s fiancé Mina is staying, along with her friend Lucy. The next coincidence is that all Lucy’s would-be fiancés are friends. The chosen fiancé Arthur Holmwood asks Dr. John Seward (I know, Jonathan and John, but it’s not too hard to keep them separate) to look in on a sick Lucy. Seward, not being a medical doctor himself, calls on his old mentor. Seward just happens to have been the favorite student of doctor and metaphysisist Professor Abraham van Helsing, who just so happens to have the knowledge of—and an open enough mind to believe in—vampires. And the initial property Dracula bought, the dilapidated Carfax Abbey, just happens to be behind the sanitarium Seward runs. Also, Seward just happens to take a special interest in a zoophagous patient, Renfield, who just happens to have a connection to Dracula. And all this in the first third of the book. Continue reading “Dracula—the Book—A Slow Start but Worth the Effort”→
The 5th Gender, by G. L. Carriger (the pen name Gail Carriger writes under when she does spicy stuff), is a wonderful romance-cozy-mystery-scifi story. The lavender Galoi alien Tristol Zyga and the human security officer Detective Drey Hastion are just starting their courtship when a Galoi spaceship contacts the space station with an odd request—the Galoi, who have no word for murder, have a non-accidental death on board and need of a detective. It’s up to Detective Hastion and Tris—who, as an exile, no longer exists to his people—to find out what happened.
Also, for those of delicate sensibilities, there’s a lot of sex in this book, fully described, male on male.
We get alternating points of view from Tris and Drey, and each’s observations on the other and and how they interact with the people and space station around them forms the basis of some excellent worldbuilding. I love Tris’s take on human customs and idioms. And Drey is always willing to answer Tris’s questions and explain things, as well as ask questions of his own. Between the two of them, we learn a lot about Galoi and humans both. In particular, the Galoi’s five genders and anatomy were interesting to learn about. Continue reading “The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars”→
In a Witch’s Wardrobe, by Juliet Blackwell, is a cozy mystery set in San Francisco, told from the first-person perspective of Lilly Ivory, a witch and owner of a vintage clothing store. This time out, she’s helping a young woman under a sleeping curse.
We start out at a costume ball, where everyone is dressed up like from the 1920s. Lilly has gone with Aiden, the witch “Godfather” of the Bay Area, but when she runs into a young woman, Lilly gets a vision of the woman reaching out to her but covered in vines. Aiden tells her to leave it alone. Later, that same young woman falls into a coma in the ladies’ bathroom, and Lilly sees her spirit trapped in a bathroom mirror. Again Aiden tells Lilly to leave it alone. But Lilly is never one to shrink when she can help, and soon Lilly finds out that another young woman has died from this same curse. Continue reading “In a Witch’s Wardrobe—The Woman in the Mirror”→
Dreadful Company, the second of the Dr. Greta Helsing novels , by Vivian Shaw. It continues the adventures of Greta and her friends, the vampire Ruthven and vampyre (there’s a difference) Varney, as they go to Paris for a medical conference. Unfortunately, there’s another vampire in Paris that hates Ruthven and kidnaps Greta to get at him.
The vampires who kidnap Greta, led by the murderous twit Corvin, are a bit too into the “creature of the night” thing. They wear body glitter, for fuck’s sake. Corvin even steals bones from Paris’s catacombs to decorate his underground lair—which will become plot relevant down the line. There’s Lilith, Corvin’s consort, who keeps summoning and then abandoning little hairmonsters and wellmonsters. There’s Grisaille, Corvin’s second in command, who’d rather do anything but command. And there’s the newest vampire, Sofiria (nee Emily), who hasn’t really been taught anything she needs to know, not even that the glittering isn’t natural. She has to come see the captive Greta to get even remedial lessons in what it means to be a vampire.Continue reading “Dreadful Company: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—Vampires Underground in Paris”→