Thursday, September 21, 2017

My take on: The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Several times a week, I find myself losing countless hours watching YouTube videos. What intrigues me so? I follow a lot of booktubers. I like watching book hauls and books reviews on YouTube. It's because of a review I saw on YouTube that The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee caught my eye.

This was 500 pages of lighthearted fun.

It's the 1700s, and Henry "Monty" Montague has no desire to be like all the other teenage boys his age. Boarding school is not for him. Besides he got kicked out. Coming home at a decent hour is not for him. Besides there's too much fun to be had staying out late, partying, gambling, and drinking. Being a proper "gentlemen" like his father is not for him, especially if it means denying who he is. Who is Monty? A fun, self-absorbed, reckless but often thoughtful young man. He also loves the company of young ladies and young men. Although, Monty is certain the love of his life is a young man. And not just any young man, Monty is in love with his best friend, Percy.

Given the time period, a man being in love with another man was taboo. Especially a man like Percy. Who is Percy? A gifted musician, who just happens to be of mixed race. When people look at Percy, they don't see a talented man. All people see is his skin color. Everyone but Monty. He sees a beautiful talented man, and Monty wants to be more than just his friend. However, Monty's father has had enough of his son's antics. It's time for Monty to grow up. It's time for Monty to take over running the family estate. In his father's eyes, it's also time for Monty to give up the sins of the flesh--a.k.a. stop being gay. Monty isn't ready to change in any way. He shouldn't have to after living with a father who not only beats him, but also hates Monty with a passion. But Monty has a little time before deciding on the future. Now he's getting ready to hit the open road.

Monty is about embark on a yearlong Grand Tour of Europe. Percy and Monty's sister, Felicity, are along for the ride. It's supposed to be a year of growth, education, and reflection. Not exactly high priorities for this young man. Nope. Monty desires a year filled with pleasure and alcohol. The trio's chaperone, Mr. Lockwood, will have none of that. Lockwood is determined to keep his group of youngsters in check. Yeah, that doesn't work for long. Monty easily outsmarts Lockwood, and heads out for fun with Percy. Anything to distract himself from the hellish future his father wants for him.

Monty is constantly fighting his feelings for Percy. He wants to love Percy, but what if Percy doesn't want to love him back. There are brief moments of passion between Percy and Monty, but they always stop short of discussing their true feelings for each other. This yearlong trip through Europe also doesn't go as planned. It quickly goes off the rails after Monty, Percy, Felicity, and Lockwood are attacked by roadside pirates. The youngsters get separated from Lockwood and are forced to fend for themselves without money, a place to sleep, and a steady source of food. Without actually intending to, Monty does "grow up." He's forced to think about other people instead of just himself. Monty even sees Felicity as more than just his annoying little sister. He sees that Felicity is actually a resourceful and intelligent young woman. Health problems for Percy finally force Monty to face his true feelings for his best best friend. Faced with the opportunity to "cure" Percy's health problems, Monty is determined to take it. But at what cost?

At times Monty, Percy, and Felicity's romp through Europe was a stretch of the imagination. Every time you think they're finally going to get some relief, something else happens. They have all kinds of people chasing them. But altogether this is a funny, romantic, and endearing book. Please read it!

Rating: O.M.G.!!!

Monday, September 4, 2017

My take on: Ten Dead Comedians

A legendary comedian offers nine of his peers the trip of a lifetime, a weekend at his private island retreat. What should be a weekend of collaboration with a comedic superstar turns into a nightmare. Their host is dead by their arrival, and that's not all! They're completely cutoff from civilization, the island is deserted, there's no Wi-Fi, food is scarce, and one-by-one someone is killing them. Death and comedic hijinks ensue in Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente.

What is billed as a dark take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, actually reminds me of a more twisted version of the movie Clue. Like the movie Clue, the people in this book are all connected. They each have a secret, one that could ultimately lead to their demise.

In Ten Dead Comedians, Dustin Walker has become a bit of a recluse but the well-known funnyman appears to up for one last hurrah. He invites a mixture of up-and-coming comedians, like Dante Dupree, Zoe Schwartz, Ruby Ng, and Oliver "Ollie" Rees, and has-been/past-their prime comedians, like Steve Gordon, TJ Martinez, Janet Kahn, and William Griffith, to his private island. None of them are exactly sure why they've been invited, but who can pass on the chance to work with someone they once looked up to.

Once on the island, nothing is going right. Dustin's "assistant," Meredith, has no idea where their elusive host is but tries to assure everyone that everything is OK. Of course, it's not! While no one has seen Dustin in the flesh, he did leave behind a video detailing all the fun that awaits. Although, it's not so funny when Dustin kills himself on film. Is it real? Or perhaps it's an elaborate prank by the comedic genius? Ollie refuses to believe it's real, he's certain Dustin will reveal himself at the proper time. But...not everyone is so easily convinced--especially when the bodies start to drop. The first victim falls prey to poison, this one got off pretty easily. Each death gets more elaborate and more gruesome and in a macabre way kind of funny!! The whole island is booby-trapped. One more step could be your last. One person dies after falling into a bouncy house with knives at the bottom, on the surface that doesn't sound funny but read it in context. Who is behind it all? Why? If it's Dustin, why? What did any of his guests ever do to Dustin? No one knows for sure, but soon it's every man and woman for their themselves. It's hard to trust someone who might want to kill you!

I did my best to guess who the murderer was, but I really didn't get it until the end. I think that's the mark of good writing. I was engrossed from start to finish. I don't think I picked up on all of the comedic nuances, but I still managed to enjoy this addictive story!

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Quirk Books) at the request of Saichek Publicity, in exchange for an honest review.
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