The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky (#1.5) by Mackenzi Lee

Published: 26th November 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

In this funny and frothy novella that picks up where the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue leaves off, freshly minted couple Monty and Percy fumble through their first time together.

Monty’s epic grand tour may be over, but now that he and Percy are finally a couple, he realizes there is something more nerve-wracking than being chased across Europe: getting together with the person you love.

Will the romantic allure of Santorini make his first time with Percy magical, or will all the anticipation and build-up completely spoil the mood? 

It was a complete shame I didn’t get to read this as an audiobook because I am still living off the high that those books gave me. Instead I had to read it myself but I had all those wonderful voices stored in my head so I could re-enact it as I went along.

There is so much to love about this novella. Not only the further adventures of Monty and Percy, but the joy of seeing them trying to navigate their new relationship in all its awkward and blushing glory.

Narrative wise it is amazing. There are actual proper conversations about feelings and insecurities, not to mention an overflowing display from these two emotional boys who adore one another. The premise of trying to progress their relationship is dealt with in a fun but respectful manner. Lee has already established these characters are flawed but wonderful and seeing the exploration about love and waiting, and the amount of self-reflection about this entire endeavour was so refreshing and I loved that Lee took the time to do that.

Once again Monty steals the show. Monty who is broken but healing, who is insecure but is trying his hardest. His character growth in Gentleman’s Guide was incredible but is clearly hasn’t stopped. There are heartbreaking lines like “Why do you think everyone needs some sort of recompense for being around you?” which crushed my soul, but there is also a lot of the fun and jovial nature we’ve seen between Monty and Percy as well.

This is truly not in a younger YA scope because Monty is not entirely shy about describing various parts of Percy that he enjoys. Considering this novella’s entire premise is trying to find the right time and a bit of alone time to finally be together it is more suited to older readers.

This story also contains new characters which bring their own fun and help set the mood. Felicity makes an appearance as well, Monty’s fabulous sister who deals spectacularly with her brother. I mentioned this in my review of the second book but her character around Monty is divine and I loved seeing the sarcasm and sibling interactions once more.

This is a relatively quick read but there is an emotional depth and a detailed story throughout. With new places and people to introduce their introductions are woven into the narrative well so there is no unnecessary clunky exposition. The blending of a Santorini adventure alongside trying to navigate your own emotions and relationship is juxtaposed wonderfully. I honestly could read about the Montague family forever, no matter how trivial their lives or adventures may be.

You can purchase The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Goodbye Mr Chips by James Hilton

Published: 1st December 1982Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Laurel Leaf
Pages: 115
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classic
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

Full of enthusiasm, young English schoolmaster Mr. Chipping came to teach at Brookfield in 1870. It was a time when dignity and a generosity of spirit still existed, and the dedicated new schoolmaster expressed these beliefs to his rowdy students. Nicknamed Mr. Chips, this gentle and caring man helped shape the lives of generation after generation of boys. He became a legend at Brookfield, as enduring as the institution itself. And sad but grateful faces told the story when the time came for the students at Brookfield to bid their final goodbye to Mr. Chips.

 

I can see why this is a much loved and adored book. It took me no more than an hour to read but it is so heartfelt and beautifully written that I could have flipped back to page one and spent another hour in the life of Mr Chipping. This book follows the story of a teacher at an English school through the changes and historical events of the late 19th to the early decades of the 20th century. Mr Chips is wonderfully depicted and his love of his job and commitment is amazing. As the book ended I was so involved that while it was emotional, it was also comforting and almost reassuring I guess. I don’t really know how else to put it. I highly recommend this to anybody and everybody.

You can purchase Goodbye, Mr Chips via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Heartstrings by Belinda Williams

Published: 29th October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
BWrite
Pages: 119
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance Novella
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

A CHRISTMAS PARTY TO REMEMBER…

Arabella ‘Bella’ Valenti has big dreams for the future. Thanks to her fashion designer cousin, Ally, Bella has the right connections to become an event planner to the stars. She’s just secured her first job—planning a Christmas party for an actor notorious for playing the villain.

Bennett Moss is nothing like Bella expects. For a start, he’s super nice and the last thing she wants to do is crush on her first client. Not to mention his party isn’t exactly the dream job she’d hoped for…

Then Bella lands another event that is a dream job, but it also puts her in a very awkward position. If she holds both parties, there will be a conflict of interest and Bella could make or break her career before it’s even begun. Will she organize the event Bennett’s asked for or will she take a risk and throw a party to remember?

Heartstrings is technically a standalone novella but is also in part connected through the characters to Williams’ Hollywood Hearts series. The story follows Bella and her dreams of launching an event planning business. We’ve seen Bella pop up in Heartthrob as she supported Ally’s story and seeing her with her own story is a nice circle back to the first story.

This is a charming Christmas novella that captures the holiday spirit with a touch of romance and a gradual friendship turn romance. There are bristles and confrontations but there is heart and like all Williams’ romance novels there is a happily ever after but not before there are some feathers ruffled and a genuine possibility that they destined couple may not end up together.

Bella is a sweet character, her chance at her dream job drives her decisions and her naivety is evident but so too is her passion. The characters aren’t overly complicated but they show enough substance for this kind of story and certainly for one this length. I enjoyed seeing Bella interact with Bennett and while I might have been more enamoured by him rather than her, I enjoyed seeing her adjust her viewpoint based on her discoveries.

There is a lot of family love through this story which brings out the wonderful emotional soft side of Bennett which is one thing I love about Williams’ men; they have complicated emotions that we get to explore and even in this simple novella there is old love and new love which is wonderfully endearing.

You can purchase Heartstrings via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: Also Known As Lard Butt by Ann Herrick

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 4th June 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Books We Love, Ltd
Pages: 80
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Laura finds out that, Ricky, the boy who created her horrible nickname, “Lard Butt,” has moved back into town—and immediately schemes to keep him quiet. After all, she can’t let her new swim teammates, especially drool-worthy Noah, hear the horrible name! No way! 

She’s determined to put a million years between grade school and junior high—even in the face of a father who drives an éclair, a would-be-movie-star mother who suddenly moves back home, and a past that comes back to haunt her with the dreaded nickname.

Although Laura’s embarrassed about how she looks in a swimsuit, she tries to stay true to her vow to take risks. She even lets Maria talk her into going to the school dance, where she braves negotiating a truce for a quarreling couple.

New friendships form, Laura’s mother starts getting too domesticated for Laura’s comfort, and hints of romance start to develop—or do they?

Another review I could have sworn I posted ages ago and yet here we are, unable to find it and therefore posting it. This was a decent story, short and sweet. The idea of this ‘Lard Butt’ is a bit strange, Laura isn’t overweight, she just has a large bottom. The way she talks about it is like it’s an abnormal growth but it seems to just be a bit bigger than most. Her thoughts about it switch from acceptance to being self conscious, her mother calls it a problem which wouldn’t help, and she was teased as a kid (hence the nickname), but she has learnt to try and deal with it.

Laura is shy and not confident, she has one friend she has known since primary school, and she is starting at a new school with apprehension. But at the same time she is determined to make changes in her life and leave the old her behind. It’s sweet in a way, Laura doesn’t try and do a complete remodelling of herself or her personality, she just decides to take risks and do things that may be out of her comfort zone.

The ‘Lard Butt’ aspect isn’t a major focus, it plays a role but it acts more of a starting point to what else happens in the book. Laura’s history and own feelings about it are understandable, especially memories of being teased, but the constant references she makes to it can become tiring, especially when it isn’t really a crucial plot point.

Being young and a bit naive Laura has a good voice and story to tell. Seeing things from her perspective provides us with her thoughts and opinions, and it also shows us how clueless she can be as well. Understanding people and situations when Laura does not makes you read a lot more into the story than the one she gives, which makes it more rounded, but there remains a focus on Laura and her growing confidence than really delving into multiple character backgrounds.

The characters are quirky and sweet and varying versions of interesting and they are as deep as they need to be for the story. Some certainly more than others, but because we see things through Laura’s eyes many references or details are briefly addressed or skipped entirely. There are many secondary characters you grow attached to like Ricky, and even a teacher at times, sweet people around Laura that help fill her world and help change her way of thinking. Her relationship with her friends and family is strong and Herrick explores these different connections with varying degrees which work quite well meaning you get a great understanding of her relationship to each person.

There are both happily ever afters and not so happily ever afters which is a great balance, it reflects reality quite well, varying degrees of good and bad things happen, nothing too life changing or exciting, just daily life. The story is quite short which I think works to its advantage, there isn’t enough to sustain a longer story and I think Herrick has balanced everything out nicely, providing conclusions, hope and resigned you to the fact that life isn’t always perfect but you can make the best of what you’ve got.

December’s Wish by Karly Lane

Published: 7th November 2013
Publisher:
Createspace
Pages: 182
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance Novella
★   ★ – 2 Stars

Christmas Creek is a small town struggling to stay alive but December Doyle has a plan that will breathe life back into the rural community once more.

Seth Hunter holds nothing but contempt for Christmas Creek.

After being framed and sent to jail in his youth, he returns to town a wealthy businessman with plans of his own for the town… he plans to destroy it along with everyone that ever looked down on him, including, December’s father, Jack Doyle.

Revenge brought him back, but he soon discovers that old insecurities die hard in a place that holds so many painful memories, and all the years he’d spent orchestrating his big plan hadn’t taken into account that December still owned his heart.

A story of lies, betrayal and revenge in the Australian high country. 

This is an easy read, not quite the tale of lies and revenge I was expecting and my second try at a Karly Lane story. I picked this up because I needed a Christmas story for bookclub and it was short. It wasn’t a terrible read, it is idealistic and what these novellas are: quick stories about why two people can’t be together overcoming those reasons and being together.

With novellas there is always a lot to cram in if you want to fully understand the characters involved but there was a balance between understanding who these people are and what their stories were. The Christmas theme was curious. December’s idea to make the town a tourist Christmas spot was on point for the story and very wholesome, even if it’s a little cheesy.

There is a mixture of flashbacks and present day story to show various points in the main two character’s lives. One thing that was frustrating was there was no distinction between these flashbacks and the present day. It is only there a few times but it was quite confusing for a moment thinking some things were happening in the present day. Even a page break or some formatting to clear up the confusion would be helpful.

Lane has done a decent job in giving a well-rounded understanding of these characters, even in such a short story. I liked Seth’s character even though I was perplexed by his reasons for being there. His own bitterness and spite towards the town is a fun thing to watch as he annoys everyone with his charm. His own pettiness is partly justified but also obviously deeply engrained if he is going to put this much effort into his “revenge”. December is a hard working woman who loves her town and doesn’t want to see it die. She is strong-willed and passionate and while she comes off a little innocent she is also a believer in doing the right thing.

If you are looking for an easy read with a nice happily ever after then this is a good place to start. There is charm and a slight naivety in December’s character but nothing overly off-putting. The Christmas theme was a bit cheesy but it has a small town charm as well.

December’s Wish is no longer in print but it was re-released as a full length novel re-titled Third Time Lucky

You can purchase Third Time Lucky via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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