15 Books I’d Like to Re-read

15 Books I'd Love to Reread

I love rereading books that I previously enjoyed. It’s not something that I do often because there are so many new books coming out every week, and it’s hard to prioritize rereading a book when I’ve got ten brand new ones that I want to get to.

There are certain books that I make sure to reread frequently: I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road every single year; I’ll reread my favorite self-help books (Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck) whenever I need a pick-me-up; anytime a new book is released in a series that I love, I’ll reread the entire thing prior to the release date of the newest book.

There are several books, however, that I’d love to reread, but that I haven’t made time for yet. I’d like to try to reread these all in 2020. It wasn’t until I put the list together that I noticed that there are definitely a few themes! Here are the fifteen books that I’d love to reread!

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15. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

the lion the witch and the wardrobe chronicles of narnia cs lewis

Goodreads | Amazon

My mother had a complete set of these books and I read them a few times while I was growing up. It’s been nearly fifteen years since I last read them, however, so I’m curious to see if I’d love them as much as I used to now that I’m in my thirties. As a child, I saw the books only as fun fantasy adventure novels with interesting characters; now that I’m older, I’m worried that the Christian undertones that I’ve learned about over the years will either distract me from the story or even ruin the story for me. I’d still like to give it a shot one day if only to feel some nostalgia.


14. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

wild cheryl strayed

Goodreads | Amazon

You’re about to see a lot of nature-oriented books on this list. I thoroughly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile trail from Mexico to Canada. I love the idea of long-distance backpacking trips, but this is a bit much for me in real life. However, I love reading about other people having these types of hardcore adventures, so this easily became a favorite of mine. I’ll probably reread this next time I’m in the mountains.

13. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

animal vegetable mineral barbara kingsolver

Goodreads | Amazon

An ex-boyfriend recommended this book to me years and years ago, and it’s really stuck with me (one of two books on this list recommended by him, by the way). I’ve always dreamed of having my own homestead, where I could grow and raise my own food, live off of sustainable energy, and create a self-sufficient life. The older that I get, the stronger that desire becomes, to the point where I’m trying to plan out buying a house on a decent amount of land in the North Carolina mountains within the next several years. I’ve been wanting to reread this for years, but I’ve been putting it off because I know it’ll make me crave that sort of life even more, and I’m not financially able to jump right into it. Once I get closer to my goals, however, you better believe that I’ll be rereading this!


12. Blindness by José Saramago

Blindness Jose Saramago

Goodreads | Amazon

I had never heard of this book before grabbing it second-hand at a thrift store. I briefly read through the synopsis and liked the cover, so I took it home. This dystopian, science fiction novel blindsided (hehe) me; I loved it so much, and it was absolutely horrifying. The story is about an epidemic of blindness that affects everyone. Can you imagine how hard the world would become if everyone lost sight? José Saramago will walk you through how rough it will become while enchanting you with his writing style. I desperately want to relive this book, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get to it very soon.


11. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess: Goodreads | Amazon
The Secret Garden: Goodreads | Amazon

Obviously, this is technically two books, but I’m combining them since they’re both written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and because I read them at the same point in my life – early childhood. These two books have been my favorites since I was very young, and they’re actually the earliest books I can remember reading (aside from some Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss perhaps). I’ve watched the film adaptations of both, I own fancy copies of both, and I will read both to my future children. I’ve been planning on rereading these for a while, but there’s a tiny part of me who is afraid I won’t feel the same way about them. We’ll see soon enough.


10. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

breakfast of champions kurt vonnegut

Goodreads | Amazon

While Slaughterhouse Five might be Vonnegut’s most famous book, Breakfast of Champions has always been my personal favorite. It’s a novel that’s hard to explain, but the story follows author Kilgore Trout as he discovers that a midwestern car dealer believes his stories to be true. If you’ve never read Vonnegut, I’d recommend it – it’s a truly unique experience.


9. The Dharma Bums and On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The Dharma Bums: Goodreads | Amazon
On the Road: Goodreads | Amazon

As of now, these are the only two Jack Kerouac novels I’ve read (despite owning many more), and when I first read them back in the early 2010s, they left a huge impression on me. I’d love to reread both of them, but particularly On the Road. One of the editions that I have of this novel is the original scroll, which is formatted in the way that Kerouac originally wrote the novel. It’s one long, continuous narrative with no paragraphs or chapters. It definitely won’t be easy to read, but I want to experience the story as Kerouac wrote it originally.


8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

station eleven emily st john mandel

Goodreads | Amazon

Many of you who have been reading this blog for a while already know that I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is one of the best that I’ve ever read (third only to The Road and The Stand). I feel like it’s a little on-the-nose to read right now due to the book being about a deadly worldwide plague, so I’m going to wait until this plague dies out a bit. It’s a unique post-apocalyptic book in that it’s told from the point of view of a group of Shakespearian actors in Canada.


7. The Stand by Stephen King

the stand stephen king

Goodreads | Amazon

Speaking of The Stand, this is another novel that I would love to reread. I’ve almost done so multiple times, but the novel’s 1,153 pages have held me back a bit. I don’t hate reading big books, and in fact, a lot of my favorite books are long, but I haven’t been ready for the time commitment anytime recently. It’s also another book that deals with a deadly plague, so I’d like to do my hypochondriac self a favor and wait until COVID-19 calms down a bit before sitting down with it again.


6. The Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Nai’an & Luo Guanzhong

outlaws of the marsh shi nai'an luo guanzhong

Goodreads | Amazon

I read volume one of this classic Chinese novel in 2019 and really enjoyed it. I held back on reading volumes two and three however because each volume is massive, written in a non-Western style that I wasn’t familiar with, and was extremely confusing when it came to the 100+ characters. Having enjoyed the story, however, I am determined to reread volume one and give two and three a shot.


5. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

Goodreads | Amazon

I was that kid in high school who spent a lot of their lunch breaks browsing the library. I remember in tenth grade randomly checking out this book. I don’t remember what prompted me to, but I’ve always been thankful that something pushed me to read it. It’s been one of my favorite books since 2003, and it’s about time that I reread it. A Fine Balance is a historical fiction novel set in India which follows several people with extremely tragic stories. It’s not the happiest novel to read, but a powerful and moving one. It’s realness and honesty are the elements of the story that have always drawn me in.


4. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

A Sand County Almanac Aldo Leopold

Goodreads | Amazon

A Sand County Almanac was recommended to me by the same ex-boyfriend who introduced both Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, and The Road to me. Aldo Leopold writes in such a way that you really feel as though you’re sitting next to him observing the landscape and wildlife. It’s a beautiful, non-fiction book that I’d recommend to everyone who gets homesick for the great outdoors. I’m planning a vacation to the North Carolina mountains once this plague is over, and this is one of the books that I’ll be packing with me to finally reread.


3. Haroun and the Sea of Stories and The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie

 Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Goodreads | Amazon
The Ground Beneath Her Feet: Goodreads | Amazon

The first Salman Rushdie book that I ever read was The Ground Beneath Her Feet at the request of my brother, and I was instantly (and pleasantly) surprised by Rushdie’s poetic and moving writing style. There are plenty of authors who have unique styles, but I’ve never read any as beautiful as Rushdie’s. Haroun and the Sea of Stories isn’t one of his most-famous novels, but it’s always been my favorite. I would love to reread both, and read his other novels that I haven’t had the pleasure to pick up yet.


2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia

where the crawdads sing delia owens

Goodreads | Amazon

I buddy-read this book with my friend Tawni, and I fell in love with it quickly. I grew up on North Carolina’s coast, where the story takes place, and the familiarity with the setting drew me in just as much as the heartbreaking story did.  I haven’t written a review of this novel yet because I wanted time to process it a bit more, but it’s been so long that I want to reread it before finally writing about it.


1. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Reincarnation Blues Michael Poore

Goodreads | Amazon

I read this book for the first time last year, and I have a feeling it’s going to join The Hobbit and The Road in being books that I reread annually. It’s one of the most amazing stories that I’ve ever read. It’s not a novel that I can sum up quickly, so read my full review to learn why this book left such an impression on me.



What books would you love to reread? Let me know in the comments!




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Trouble No Man by Brian Hart – A Review

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Note: This review was originally published in December 2018, but I wanted to repost it in honor it being released today. It was one of my favorite books from 2018, and now that it’s finally out, I definitely recommend picking it up. 

Trouble No Man by Brian Hart

Fiction | Post-Apocalyptic
Goodreads
Published by Harper Perennial
Release date: January 29, 2019
Author Links: Unknown (If you know of the author’s website or social media, please let me know. I was unable to find anything.)

Preorder: Amazon

I received a free ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I never accept monetary compensation in exchange for a positive review. Read more here.

Synopsis

Trouble No Man takes place in the near future when northern California has run out of water and is being controlled by militias. Roy Bingham is the main character, and the story follows him throughout his life, jumping back and forth from his younger days as a pro-skateboarder all the way up until he has become a family man living on a farm. The novel is about family and survival.

Review

I’m not sure where I originally heard of this upcoming novel, but as soon as I read the synopsis I contacted Harper Perennial to request a review copy. I had never heard of the author, Brian Hart, but he was being compared to Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite writers; the plot was also post-apocalyptic, which is my favorite genre. I knew immediately that I wanted to read this, and am very grateful to the publisher for sending me a copy.

The aspect of this book that I enjoyed the most was the muddled timeline. Each chapter is set during a different decade of Roy Bingham’s life. As the story progresses, you start to piece things together. I found myself flying through the pages because I wanted to find out what happened next in his life. The layout and progression of the chapters were perfectly done.

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that I enjoy books about characters that are unlikeable, and this is certainly one of those novels. Although Roy starts to grow on you toward the end of the book, for the majority of the story I found him immensely unlikable and selfish. His personality is such a large part of the story, however, and is important to his growth, so his off-putting personality is actually very enjoyable, and it’s nice to see how much he evolves over the course of his entire life. People always change as they get older, and it was refreshing to watch that happen to his character.

There are thousands of post-apocalyptic novels in the world right now and, while I would read just about any of them, the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that feel as though they could actually happen. This book isn’t scary, but it is certainly unsettling due to how realistic the scenarios are. It is not hard to imagine that in a world without water militias would take control of localities and violence would explode.

Rating

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Trouble No Man is one of the best books I’ve read in 2018. I’m going to be recommending this book to everyone when it is released in January 2019.

Other Books by Brian Hart

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – A Review

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult | Fantasy
Published by Orion Children’s Books
Released September 27, 2016
Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Crooked Kingdom is the second book in the Six of Crows duology. As such, I won’t be able to say too much about the plot of this book, due to spoilers. However, this novel is somehow even better than Six of Crows, and it absolutely crushed my heart.

If you’ve read Six of Crows, you’ll already know all of the characters in this book. The whole gang is back, and they’re still trying to get their due rewards from Wylan’s father. We follow them on new adventures and watch as deeper bonds continue to form between the members of the group.

Just like in the first book, I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing style and world building. This story takes place in the Grisha Verse universe established in her trilogy that was released before these ones. However, it isn’t necessary to have read those books in order to understand what is happening in the Six of Crows duology. I will definitely be reading that previous trilogy now (I’m actually picking the first book up at the library on Friday!), but I didn’t feel as though I had missed out on anything.

Kaz and Inej are still my favorite characters, and I love both of them even more after this second book. They’re both so deeply scared and watching as they struggle to overcome their terrible pasts is a heartwarming thing to see.

Leigh Bardugo has a way of writing perfectly flawed characters that you love no matter what they’ve done. Every single character in this duology is fully fleshed out and believable. Their pasts are extensive, and since the story is told from multiple points-of-view, you come to understand their motivations and thinking processes, which I adore. It makes you feel as though you’re right there with them, and with their backgrounds, you feel sorry for them for everything that has happened to get them to where they are today.

It was obvious early on in Crooked Kingdom that I would be rating this book five stars. Everything about it was perfect and I definitely feel that it deserves all of the hype it garnered around its release. If you haven’t read this duology yet, it’s never too late! Start reading!

Lady Killer Vol 1 by Joelle Jones & Jamie S. Rich – A Review

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Lady Killer, Vol 1 by Joëlle Jones & Jamie S. Rich
Graphic Novel | Thriller
Published by Dark Horse
Released September 15, 2015
Goodreads
Purchase: AmazonBooks-a-Million
Jamie S. Rich Links: Website
Joëlle Jones Links: Website | Twitter | Tumblr
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars


The first book/graphic novel I finished in 2019 ended up being a re-read for me. I first picked up this book last year after falling in love with the fifties-style art while browsing at one of our local comic book shops, Comic Kings.

While 90% of the comic books and graphic novels I read are situated in the Marvel universe, I do like to branch out on occasion and pick up something new. Lady Killer Vol 1 was one of those times.

I’ve always been slightly obsessed with dark, morbid, 50-style motifs, which is the reason Fallout is my favorite video game in the world. The 50s have always been portrayed as a time of wholesome family endeavors, and seeing a bastardization of that is something that I’ve always found incredibly delightful.

Written by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, this series follows Josie Schuller, a housewife by day and assassin at night. The beautiful dresses and dinner soirees are starkly contrasted by the sheer bloody violence of the story – this is not a series for people who get nauseous at the sight of blood. Joëlle Jones does an absolutely wonderful job of drawing all that gore and violence in an almost pleasant and definitely artful way.

One of the most interesting aspects of this series is how it deals with the inherent sexism of the 1950s. Josie is expected to be the perfect housewife – raising the children, cooking and cleaning, keeping up appearances with the neighbors, etc. During her “other” life as an assassin, she’s always given jobs that require her to wear skimpy outfits and flirt with the men she’s going to kill. She is also told by her boss that she cannot keep a family and work at the same time, that she has to choose. Josie, however, sees both sides of her life as completely separate and is willing to do both.

The book reminded me a bit of a combination of Archer and Mad Men, and I think would be appropriate for fans of either.

Josie herself is a complete badass who is willing to do what it takes to finish a job and is smarter than most of the men in her life. I love that she’s not willing to take nonsense from anyone and will stick up for what she wants. I also am very envious of all of Josie’s daily outfits, and I appreciate that so much time was spent focusing on the fashion of the 1950s.

Overall, this has easily become one of my favorite self-contained comic series, and I’m going to be picking up volume two very soon.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – A Review

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

The Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Middle-Grade | Magical Realism | Supernatural | Fantasy
Published by HarperCollins
Released September 30, 2008
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thrift Books

Synopsis

An infant accidentally escapes the murder of his entire family and finds shelter in a nearby graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard adopt the child and name him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short.

Bod is raised by the ghosts, along with his guardian, Silas, who’s not quite dead and not quite living. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard and learns many tricks, including how to fade into the background and visit dreams.

Bod is kept from leaving the graveyard because dangers lurk outside of the gates. Namely, Jack, the man who murdered Bod’s original family, is still out to get him.

Growing up in a graveyard certainly isn’t boring though. Bod has a ton of adventures with both the living and dead. Ultimately, he must confront the man who is responsible for his family’s demise.

Review

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and that The Graveyard Book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book, but it’s a pretty high number. I’ve also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Neil Gaiman, a couple of times.

There are so many reasons I adore this novel as much as I do. First, it’s a fun adventure story that deals with complicated subjects, such as murder. One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is that Gaiman writes in a concise, casual way, which is striking against the backdrop of violence. The best place to see this is in the opening chapter when Jack is murdering the family.

Bod is a very well-written character who learns to live despite being surrounded by the dead. He wants to see the world and meet people. Growing up in a graveyard only makes him want to live more, and I love that about Bod. He’s also an immensely likable character.

So many of the side characters in the book are just as enjoyable as Bod; we’ve got Silas, Bod’s mysterious guardian; Liza, who was drowned for witchcraft; Miss Lupescu, Bod’s teacher that has more to her than meets the eye; and a trio of nasty ghouls: the Duke of Westminster, the Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Another reason I enjoy this book so much is that I’ve always been the sort of person who hangs around in graveyards. In fact, when I lived in Asheville, NC, much of my free time was spent at Riverside Cemetary, where I would go to get away from people, read, meditate, have picnics. Graveyards are very peaceful places, and I loved reading a book set in one that wasn’t your standard horror story.

This book will make you smile and you will like Bod so much that you really want him to succeed in life. It’s well-written and just lovely. This book would be a great place to start if you’re new to Neil Gaiman.

Verdict

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This story is perfect. I have zero complaints, and I know I’m going to continue to reread this book frequently.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?

The Book

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Post-Apocalyptic | Adult Fiction
Published by Knopf
Released September 26, 2006
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars


Synopsis

This is Cormac McCarthy’s most recent book to be published. It is a post-apocalyptic tale told in a very minimalist style. By minimalistic I mean that there’s very little we actually know: McCarthy never tells us what happened to cause the mass extinction event, we don’t know the names of our two characters, we have no idea where exactly the story takes place, and we don’t know how long it’s been since the cataclysmic event happened.

What we do know is that a man and his son are trying to survive against the many, many odds that are stacked against them as they travel south in an effort to escape the brutal winters. They’re starving, sleeping on the ground, scavenging what bits and pieces they find along the way. Their world is described as gray and covered in ash. There are earthquakes and the sun is all but absent.

The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, along with several other awards.


Review

The Road is my favorite book. I’ve read it every November since the first time I picked it up almost a decade ago. Despite reading it so many times, the last few pages still make me weep. This book is devasting.

The thing that a reader first picks up on is the writing style. McCarthy is not a fan of punctuation and proper grammar. You will not find any quotation marks in this book. He also leaves everything as vague as he possibly can. As I mentioned in the synopsis above, we don’t know much of anything. Throughout the book, the father is referred to as the man, and his son is the boy. They walk through towns but we are never told what town they’re in. I’ve heard a lot of people say that McCarthy’s style is off-putting, and while I do understand that, I actually really enjoy that aspect of this novel. The anonymity of the story makes me feel like it could happen to anyone. I also just love McCarthy’s overall writing style:

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you. 

The vagueness of the setting also serves to bring the focus of the story to the relationship between father and son. They have nothing but each other. The father will do whatever it takes to keep his son alive, while the son wants to help others and is terrified of the world around him.

Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

The characters frequently mention god and “carrying the fire,” but even the religion is vague in the story. You can read what you want to in it.

The individual scenes in The Road are mostly devasting, terrifying, sickening, and worse. I don’t want to include spoilers, but there are a few scenes that will leave you shaken, such as one that takes place in a pantry beneath a kitchen. However, much less frequent, there are also a few happy scenes that will make your heart swell, such as when they share a scavenged Coca-Cola, which the boy has never tasted before. It’s a sweet scene that breaks up the terror of their lives.

Despite how many times I’ve read this book, I still weep while reading the final few pages. The ending is depressing, and it also makes me cry for a more personal reason.

*THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS*

The man, who spends the latter part of the book coughing violently, reminds me of the couple of years before my mother died. She would also have incredibly long and disturbing coughing fits. When it happens in the book, it brings those memories back to me, and that is definitely one of the reasons this book makes me cry every single time I read it.


Verdict

I recommend this book to literally everyone. I will continue to read it every November as I’ve been doing. It’s the perfect book to read once the leaves have mostly fallen off the trees and the landscape is starting to get a wintry, barren look.


Have you read The Road? What did you think?


 



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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Book Review of The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee; historical fiction; best books of 2018; what should i read next; great feminist books

“Everyone has heared stories of women like us – cautionary tales, morality plays, warning of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for this world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone. 

“Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.”

The Book

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Amazon | Goodreads
Published by Katerine Tegan Books, a division of Harper Collins
Released October 2, 2018
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram

What It Is

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a sequel/companion novel to Lee’s wonderful The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, one of my favorite books that I had the pleasure of reading in 2018.

The story follows Felicity as she tries to become a doctor in a society that believes women are inferior and have no place in medicine.

After the events of The Gentleman’s Guide, Felicity finds herself working at a bakeshop in Edinburgh to make ends meet. The owner of the shop, Callum, wants to marry Felicity, but Felicity is horrified at the thought and flees to Monty and Percy in London.

While in London, she makes an attempt to petition Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital to take her on as a student. An attempt that goes disastrously, but afterward, when she feels that things are never going to go her way, one of the men run outside after her to advise her to reach out to Alexander Platt, her medical hero, a man whose books she has obsessed over.

Much to the horror of Monty and Percy, she takes off with a pirate girl named Sim to go confront Alexander Platt, who is marrying Felicity’s former best friend, a girl named Johanna who she had a massive falling out with. She takes a serious gamble undertaking this journey – Sim seems rather dangerous as she threatened someone’s life just as the journey is getting started, she hasn’t spoken to Johanna in years, and she has no idea if she’ll even make it in time to get to Platt before he and Johanna leave for their honeymoon. It’s the only chance she has though, so she risks everything for this one last shot of becoming a doctor.

My Thoughts

You deserve to be here. You deserve to exist. You deserve to take up space in this world of men..png

Everything about this book is amazing! I loved it just as much as The Gentleman’s Guide and Felicity is a force to be reckoned with. She was one of my favorite parts of The Gentleman’s Guide, so as soon as I found out Lee’s sequel would be told from her perspective, I immediately pre-ordered it.

Lee deals with the sexist attitudes of the 1700s very well, although there are so many difficulties that Felicity encounters that women of today understand all too well, which is quite unfortunate. From the very beginning, when Callum is asking for her hand in marriage, he tells her that her dreams of becoming a doctor are frivolous and something she’ll eventually grow out of. Not only that, but he decides that if she doesn’t accept his proposal, she can find work elsewhere. He also assumes that she’s going to say yes, even though it’s clear that she’s going to say no. Felicity is better than that though:

“I do not want to spend the rest of my life smelling sugar. I don’t want pastry beneath my fingernails and a man content with the hand life has dealt him and my heart a hungry, wild creature savaging me from the inside out.”

All three of the main female characters are well-written and loveable. I’ve already talked a lot about Felicity, but we also have Sim, a tough-as-nails pirate who has sailed with the Crown & Cleaver and is completely fearless; and Johanna, a naturalist who wants to know all there is to know about flora and fauna, while still embracing feminity and pink bows. I adore their relationships with each other and their very distinct personalities. I found myself wanting to be best friends with each one of them.

Felicity’s burning passion to become a doctor is the real star of this book, and it’s a passion that I recognize in myself and in many of the women around me.

“I want to know what it is and how it works and why it saved Sim. When all my indignance over inequality, the plight of women in the world, and the education denied me is boiled away, what is always left is that wanting, hard and spare and alive, like a heart made of bone. I want to know all of it…I want to know how things go wrong. How we break and the best way to put ourselves back together. I want to know it all so badly it feels like a bird trapped inside my chest, throwing its body against my rib cage in search of the strong wind that will carry it out into the world. I would tear myself open if it meant setting it free.”

The characters also all know that they don’t need to be saved by men, that they can save themselves, especially if they work together. Heroic men saving weak women is a trope I loathe, and I love seeing women save themselves in this novel:

“Zounds, does this fool actually think he’s saving me? Another storybook hero to swoop in and rescue a girl from a dragon or a monster or herself – they’re all the same. A woman must be protected, must be sheltered, must be kept from the winds that would batter her into the earth.

“But I am a wildflower and will stand against the gales. Rare and uncultivated, difficult to find, impossible to forget.”

An aspect of Mackenzi Lee’s novels that are particularly amazing is the amount of diversity and representation she writes into her characters. In this series, we meet characters that are queer, black, Muslim, rich, poor, asexual, epileptic, as well as being shown difficult issues such as familial abuse, sexism, homophobia, and addiction.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but one of my favorite things about the books were the creatures that Felicity, Sim, and Joanna are trying to save. They were completely unexpected, and I actually gasped with excitement when they were introduced into the story!

One of the things that I love about both of Mackenzi Lee’s books that I’ve read is that at the end of the book she includes a bit of history and her inspirations for the story. This is something that I wish all books had, and I hope more writers take note of it. It’s always great to understand how a writer came up with a character and to see the historical setting that the book was inspired by.

Verdict

5 out of 5 stars, easily. This is a book you should buy because you’ll end up reading it over and over and over again. If you want to read an empowering book where women fight for themselves and come out on top, go read this one right now.