The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: A Review

I still have nightmares about trying to read Moby Dick for a college literature class. Seriously, that book is my great whale. Despite many (many!) attempts to read it, I still haven't been able to get through it all. Consequently, I believe it is on

By Mackenzi Lee

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Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, YA, Romance

Pages: 513 (Hardcover edition)

ISBN: 9780062382801

The Story:

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 Favourite Points:

Two things really stood out for me in this book: the quality of the writing and Monty.

This book was very well written. The drama was there as well as humour and intriguing plot points.

As for the characters themselves, I found them to be quite unique and they even managed to develop over the pages. Although I’d have wanted for Monty to grasp things more quickly and change more than what he did, but it was simply realistic so I can’t really talk against that aspect.

The plot was fun and interesting, though it sometimes lacked realism or high stakes.

My favourite character was Felicity (hands down!). She’s strong, independent, determined and impressive in her own way. She’s pursuing medecine in her free time despite what her father and society think of a woman having a passion (or the wits!) for it. I can’t wait for the sequel, which is all about Felicity!

My Lesser Points:
However, Monty didn’t sit well with me. At all. He’s such an idiot from beginning to end. Yes, okay, at the end he’s a bit more open-minded and kind, but since the characters were done realistically, people will often come back to behaving just like they used to so with very few differences… He’s arrogant and careless and doesn’t even put himself in Percy’s shoes for… EVERYTHING. It’s always others’ fault and he’s so oblivious. I know he has a hard past, but he’s really just blind or plain stupid. Either way, I don’t like him. It’s his personality I dislike. Reading this book wasn’t a lot of fun because he was in it, see? I don’t even know why I finished it. Probably because Felicity is awesome and Percy is so cute. But Monty? Thank God the sequel isn’t about him!

Conclusion:

But not everything is lost for there’s a special treat in this book: interracial homosexual love. Like, why don’t we see this more often? In all possible combinations: interracial love, homosexual love, and interracial homosexual love. It’s cruelly missing and this book gives it to us.

Lastly, the realism surrounding epilepsy and madhouses is heart-wrenching. But well done!

Oh, I forgot: it’s set in 18th century, so that’s pretty great.

All in all, the book and story themselves weren’t bad, but Monty ruined it for me. I hated picking up the book and having to read HIS point of view. If it had been Percy’s, now, that would have been perfect and sweet, I’m sure of it. I guess it’s 4 disappointing stars for this one. I can’t rate it less than 4 because a character didn’t sit well with me, right? Let’s say I’m judging the overall product as a 4 stars.

If you want to learn more about Mackenzi Lee and her books, head over to her Web site  or her Twitter account.

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The Little Red Wolf: A Review

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By Amélie Fléchais

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Genre: Children, Picture books, Fantasy, Fairy Tales

Pages: 80

ISBN: 9781941302453

*A special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

The Story:

The Little Red Wolf was inspired by the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale by Charles Perrault. This story is about a little wolf with a red cape who needs to cross the dangerous forest to deliver a rabbit to his grandmother. However, he must heed his mother’s warning about the treacherous and villainous humans living in those woods. When stumbling upon a charming little girl, the Little Red Wolf will have to choose if he’s ready to trust this creature or follow his mother’s advice. Curiosity might have killed the cat… but what will it do this Little Red Wolf?

The Positive Points:

The storybook The Little Red Wolf features eerie but cute (and even funny) drawings – they’re childish and exaggerated. I think it fits that new fairy tale, inspired by the creepy Little Red Riding Hood. If it had other pictures, I figure it would have changed the mood drastically and not have it be as troubling as it is! This book uses and elegant font which reminds me of the fairy tales of old.

Moreover, the colours used to paint the story start bright and get darker and darker as the little red wolf (a cute little fellow!) steps closer to the enemy. These artistic choices fit the story perfectly. It’s easy to notice how much work the author and illustrator put in the illustrations! As for the story itself, I was under the positive impression it was told in a way that is reminiscent of the fairy tales of old. However, don’t be mistaken in thinking it’s too hard for a child to understand because it’s not. It simply has a distinctive ring and approach to it.

All in all, the images are beautiful. I loved how imaginative wolves’ houses in trees and underground are; it’s quite original. This story is faithful to olden fairy tales what with the words chosen, the warnings, the colours used, the gruesome events and twists and characters depicted.

The song woven in the story was fun and I also loved all the different point of views, though the main (and cutest) one is the little red world, our sweet protagonist. The little suspense and mystery surrounding the humans was predictable, but then again it’s a tale for children! So, I can’t really blame the author for this, can I? Last but not least of the positive points is how the ending explains the red cape the protagonist has and what really happened to the humans’ family. It demystifies everything and answers all the reader’s questions, leaving them satisfied once they close the book.

The Negative Points & Conclusion:

Although I know a wolf is carnivorous, and he would obviously take a dead rabbit or something like that to his grandma, it was slightly disgusting… mostly when he eats parts of it. Don’t get me wrong: there might not be any blood, but the image is still disturbing somehow. I’m not sure this is okay for children. Or perhaps I’m too sensitive when it comes to animals. Or in general, too. But that is the only negative point I could find.

While I think this adorable storybook is really worth purchasing (especially for a child you know, although it’s a greatly enjoyable read even for an adult), it didn’t grab me fully. I do think back on it appreciatively, but my emotions weren’t really in the equation. For all these reasons, good and bad, I give The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I encourage you to give it a try or buy it for a child you know! The point of view of the wolf is a very different take on this reimagined story – it’s great and surprising.

If you want to learn more about Amélie Fléchais and her storybooks, head over to her Facebook account or her Tumblr.

Merry Writing and Updates!

Hello everyone,

Here is a quick note to wish you a merry Christmas and best wishes!

Also, I have made huge progress with my novel Heaven’s Army: Down to Earth last week in terms of plot and characters. I will update you more when the holidays are over.

There are two or three book reviews coming soon too.

And the poetry workbook I told you about recently? Yes, I did write some of it! It’s coming together. I will tell you more when I am back from the holidays.

Again: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

See you next post!

A Poetry Workbook For You & Translators’ Annual Conference

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Hello, everyone!

I have such important stuff to tell you.

We’d better start now, then!

Annual Conference and Continuing Education Day

I went to the OTTIAQ’s (Quebec in Canada’s professional translators’ association) annual conference and continuing education day last weekend! It was fabulous, inspiring, and motivational. I learned a lot to help me in my future career and simply about the translation world. It might have been exhausting, but it was well worth it.

Plus, it sounds as though I might have found a few freelance job opportunities too. I met four great women (including two students, just like me!) and we are staying in touch. Networking in your own field can be truly amazing.

For the first time in my life, I saw I was not alone in my little corner of the world, loving languages so much it hurts and makes me fly high at the same time. There are others where I am! I got to talk with them, listen to them, to our shared passion.

It was both uplifting and eye-opening.

Find what you love, folks. And do it.

Want a Workbook? I’ll Make One!

I’ve been thinking about creating a workbook for you guys for a while now… Since my poem was published (read it here) on Selcouth Station, it made me realize poetry is something I do very well! There isn’t enough poetry guides or help in the world for it and I figured I could give you some tips, tricks, and guidelines to write poetry.

So, how about a poetry workbook, fellows?!

I’m still outlining everything, but I learned how to use the tools to make it. Let’s say I’m getting closer to the final product. It’ll have information, my own tips and tricks, examples, and exercises (of course!) to get you going at producing your own masterpieces!

Should I make a poetry workbook that focuses on delivering emotions or how to tell a micro-story within its lines? Or perhaps just about poetry in general?

Also, what would you like to see covered in its pages?

Please leave your answers below!

I love discussing with you, ladies and gents.

 

An Amusing Writing Technique (Characterization)

Hello, ladies and gents!

Here’s the fun writing technique I promised you a few days ago: the characters’ letters to you.

It is that forthright, I’m not joking.

I was inspired to try such a technique after reading the chapter entitled ”Out from the Dust: Creating Characters” from Colum McCann’s Letters to a Young Writer.

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The author recommends we write a letter to each of our MCs (protagonists and antagonists) asking them ”Why don’t I know you?”. A loud bell resounded in my mind.

Indeed, what if I had a go at that seemingly amusing technique? I was in a tight spot where I needed to get closer to my characters in my Heaven’s Army series (particularly Hope, Fesdriel, Anick and Lucifer). Otherwise, I would continue to be stuck and just plain forsake writing their story. Plus, it sounded too fun to miss out on such an attempt.

So, I sat down with a pen and a sheet of paper and I asked that question (”Why don’t I know you?”) to Hope, my MC. I kid you not my hand moved almost on its own;  there were so many words in my head and they all needed to be put on the page! In less than two paragraphs I’d already learned three things I didn’t know about him!

It was riveting and fascinating!

But wait: it gets even better. Yes!

I wondered with alarm if this would help me with Lucifer… I was afraid yet curious. I’d never been close to my Lucifer for diverse reasons (notably because I’m quite a believer, so it doesn’t sit well with me… but my book needs him so I do too!). In other words, I never bonded with him like with my other characters. Does that make sense? Anyhow, I told myself the best thing I had to do was at least try.

Nothing came at first.

A week passed… Then, at midnight right when NaNoWriMo began, I swear to God the answers to my questions for Lucifer flooded me!

Overwhelmed, I couldn’t even think straight or do anything (like write Nightshade: The Death Stone, my NaNo novel this year). Thus, I opened K.M. Weiland’s Outlining software (amazing, by the way!) and clicked on Lucifer’s interview page (which was blank), then the magic happened.

I asked him three questions.

Cross my heart and hope to die but he answered all of them in a fierce and genuine manner. It was so beautiful I could have cried with glee. For once, I was connecting with that important character! Now, I have material to work with and I understand him much better (it’s still scary, but so fun!).

Break away and it. Break the mold and cross that fourth wall. Ask them on paper as though they were in front of you – or that you were them talking to you – and let their answers flow.

It’ll be worth your time. You might not use everything, but I assure you that you’ll know them in better details and perhaps look at them in another light. Either way, you’ll win.

Why not try that writing technique after all?

Go on, have fun and let me know in the comments how it went for you!

I’d love to hear your experience, dears.

See you next post!

 

Lady Mechanika: La dama de la muerte: A Review

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Genre: Comics, Steampunk and Fantasy

Pages: 88

ISBN: 9780996603065

*I received an ARC of this book through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review*

Lady Mechanika arrives into Santa Catrina, a small village, during the Día de los Muertos festival after suffering a loss. The Jinetes, horseback-riders from the world of the dead, come to the village to collect their offerings. Lady Mechanika then decides to act to save the villagers.

By Joe Benitez

 

What struck me first was how gorgeous all the artworks are! In fact, they are jaw-dropping with the flamboyant colours and numerous details in their clothes, build, bodies, and objects. I really enjoyed how all the acts’ titles (even the main title) are in Spanish—now that speaks of culture and experience! Because, if you don’t know, the Día de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico, where the people speak Spanish. Did I say acts? Yes, I did. Instead of chapters, acts divide the whole book, just like a play, a movie, or most stories for that matter (depending on the technique used, there can be from 3 to 6 or 7 of them in a novel).

Moreover, the characters’ clothes and makeup are sensational. Wow! They even serve the story which is doubly amazing. The panels are dynamic (sometimes we even get a glimpse from Lady Mechanika’s point of view under her big hat). Fun times, I’m telling you! Last note about the graphic aspect of Lady Mechanika is how the panels’ borders are made of pipes and gears which really make for a steampunk feel to it! The background has got scratches like used paper, which feels old too… A subtle but great touch!

Now, what about the story? The beginning is intriguing and jumps right into the subject. It doesn’t wait around. Instead, it sets the tone for the rest of the story and is creepy enough while being stunning. It also sets up the setting and the events quite early on and this comic does it quite nicely. You’d have to be blind to miss the information! The story itself is exciting and starts drastically, mixing folk tales with the Lady Mechanika’s invented story. The use of children as important characters in the story impressed me—it is rare but exquisite and fun when it happens! As for the other characters, they are all different and lovely in their own ways. But most noticeable, they all have their own agendas, stories, thoughts, and everything else that makes them unique. It is enjoyable to see them all mix and react to each other!

It’s hard to feel for Lady Mechanika, the main character, at the beginning, but the more I read the more lovable she became. After all, she’s courageous, a trait I respect. Moreover, we get to see a bit of her backstory, which helps us understand more about where she comes from and why she’s so different. Mostly for people who don’t read Lady Mechanika (like me) and thus don’t know her well over several comics.

On top of that, I found it to be culturally respectful of Mexico and El Día de los Muertos. The author and artist really made La dama de la muerte a pleasure to dive into. I felt like I was there, sucked into these magnificent pages and trying to do good alongside Lady Mechanika. It was insightful, that’s for sure. The emotions are well-portrayed. We can identify them without any problem.  The action is thrilling and nice in terms of visual. I’m not one who likes fight scenes much in comics, but I can say those are entertaining.

The story is intriguing and sometimes misleading (a real treat!) as the plot unfolds. I admit it emotionally destroyed me (I cried, yes), but it was SO good! The ending… Awww, what can I say about the ending? I loved it! It’s such a surprise even I couldn’t see coming (and I usually detect all the major twists in a story).

There is only one negative point and I think it’s somewhat big. Let’s say the villagers’ reaction to the tragedy befalling them is… strange to say the least. I didn’t find it realistic, but it was cute and soothing—if not comforting.

I give this comic a rating of 5 out of 5 despite the negative point because I had such a wonderful time reading it. Seriously, it is well-done and impressive. I have fond memories of this book and I am certain I’ll keep them for a long, long time… Why? Because I will buy and read Lady Mechanika’s other comics! I am a fan now.

If you want to learn more about Joe Benitez, creator and artist of this gorgeous comic as well as the series Lady Mechanika, do head over to his Web site.

Many Good Updates And NaNoWriMo (Will You Join Me?)

Hello, folks!

I’ve got a few good updates.

Let’s go through them, shan’t we?

I’ve renewed my Writing.com account so it’s kind of a personal commitment to my writing journey. Thus, my writing portfolio stays online for everyone to enjoy. At least for another year.

New ideas for my main novel Heaven’s Army: Down to Earth hit me like bright flashes last week. Needless to say I wrote them all down! I have been tweaking them and working on the story’s timeline and plot surrounding these fantastic ideas. It’s coming together beautifully, guys and gals!

Moreover, I’ve been working on two short stories (for fun) and a few poems for my collection of poems.

I’ve also worked a bit on Arsonphobia (mostly the plot and the characters’ backgrounds).

Just so you know, I have been juggling a lot of projects lately and it’s become overwhelming to the breaking point. So I had to decide which ones I would focus on. Of course, I chose Down to Earth as my main novel and sweet Nightshade: The Death Stone as my sideline. Those are my biggest projects. I’m not saying I won’t add information to Arsonphobia or write more short stories, but they’re not my main works for now, that’s all. As for the collection of poems, it’s part of the most important ones, too.

Many events have been happening in my life (all at the same time, as usual), which made me re-think my career plans. In the end, I have decided to have a go at translation (like I was supposed to from the start) whilst still teaching English and Italian as second languages on the side. I’ll also try, once I receive my Bachelor’s degree, to get the English teacher position at the college in my region. If I do get it, well, I know exactly what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life (happily too and without putting writing aside either!).

Moreover, I learned and tried a new technique for character-building and it’s working pretty nicely. In fact, it’s awesome! I’ll tell you more about it on Friday. It’s really worth a shot.

Also, who knew? I am doing NaNoWriMo this year! Call me crazy for I probably am. Here’s my sweetie page: Nightshade: The Death Stone (NaNoWriMo Page)

I decided to enter with Nightshade this time around because even though Down to Earth is my main focus, I won Camp NaNoWriMo with the latter so I couldn’t enter and win twice with the same novel, right? I also love Nightshade with every fibre of my being, so it was the logical choice. And a right one at that feeling-wise!

I hope to see you on the NaNo site (please go ahead and add me as your buddy). The more the merrier in this crazy ride!

Last thing but not least, I’ll post two reviews in the next two weeks. So, you’ll get to read my recommandations (they are very good books!).

Thank you for reading as always and see you next post, lovelies!