30 Days of Pride: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Title: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Publisher: Avon Impulse

Publication date: 25 June 2019

Genre: Adult | Romance | Historical

Page extent: 336 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.

Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.

While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?

Romance is a genre I really haven’t read that much of. Entirely due to my usual state of mind loving books that stab me in the heart and never let me recover. But after reading and loving the joyful The House in the Cerulean Sea, I immediately knew I had to finally read The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics because I need books with happiness and joy right now. And what a delight this book was!! I’m so happy this was my first adult romance read, because not only was it a really sweet and tender romance, but it also was so interesting outside of the romance, with lovely discussions about science and art and the importance of female contribution to these areas.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics follows Lucy, a budding young astronomer who wants to have a career and not be married off as her brother so desires, and Catherine, a rich and widowed Countess, who offers funding to Lucy to publish a translation of a well regarded French astronomy text.

First of all, what a sweet and tender, passionate and sensual romance! I must say, as a usual reader of slowburn, large fantasy novels, the fact these two were kissing within 100 pages was rather unexpected. I could have done with a bit more yearning but that’s probably because I’m used to a very different genre of romance! What I did love was Catherine’s hesitancy and shyness now that she’s found someone she truly loves, compared to the horror of her relationship with her husband. This is her first relationship with a woman, and I liked the way her slow discovery that Lucy could be a lover was handled. Celestial Mechanics also showed that whilst society might not allow two women to marry, there are ways of showing commitment and love to your significant other, thus addressing both the state of society at the time but without any unnecessary homophobia. (Thank God).

I really loved the astronomy focus of the book. It made for a very interesting read outside of the romance, because I wanted to know more about these female scientists that Lucy was finding and following. A big focus of the book is Lucy and her contribution to science, and the fact she’s often blocked and excluded because she’s a woman so can’t possibly have an understanding of science. But Lucy showed such determination and ferocity in the face of these challenges, she refuses to let them get the best of her and never even considers giving up when others try to bring her down.

I also really enjoyed the focus on art as well as science as being worthwhile lifetime pursuits. I don’t think I’ve ever read so much about embroidery before, and now, I really want to start doing it myself?! It was such a cool addition, to focus on not just truth and science but also art and what constitutes an artist. Like Catherine’s slow hesitancy over Lucy, I also loved her soft, unsure portrayal as an artist. She’s constantly had been told embroidery isn’t art and then she gets to slowly discover her greatness and artistry and embraces it. This book is just full of women realising their worth and I fucking love it.

I particularly loved the ending of this book. It rounded everything off so well, gives a brilliant fuck you to all the men who doubted, and there is a beautiful scene with Catherine and Lucy talking about their future. It was a really warm and happy ending, and I left feeling so overjoyed and thankful that this book was written.

All in all, I thought this was a wonderful romance and I’m so glad it was my first one. I really loved the focus on astronomy and art and can’t wait to read the next book in this series which is all about BEEKEEPING!!

Book review: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: 17 March 2020

Genre: Science fantasy

Page extent: 480 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. 

Before beginning this review, please note that Victoria Lee has a large list of content warnings for this novel – it is darker than The Fever King so please take note before reading (you can find the list here).

It was like Dara had been shot but hadn’t realised yet, was bleeding out.

Me reading this book

It has been almost four months since I first read The Electric Heir, as I was somehow the luckiest person ever and managed to snag a NetGalley ARC. If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you may have realised The Fever King is my favourite book in the world, and was most definitely my favourite read of 2019. It was always going to be hard to follow up what was one of the most impactful, resonant and utterly captivating novels I’ve ever read. And yet somehow, The Electric Heir stands up to the mantel of its predecessor and manages to be just as entrancing and magnificent as I ever dreamed it could be. 

Following from where The Fever King leaves off, we now get both Noam and Dara’s POVs and isn’t that just a joy to behold!! Dara, fine purveyor of pineapple pizzas and goats, is coming back to Carolinia, with one goal: assassinate Calix Leher. Noam meanwhile is determined to build a better society for refugees, even if that means he’ll need to take down another government. 

Where The Fever King addresses the immediacy of trauma, The Electric Heir brings a further edge to the discussions and implications of trauma: what happens after? Through both Noam and Dara’s POV, we see the different ways trauma and abuse can impact victims. We see the different behaviours that follow, the different thoughts and opinions, the different forms abuse can take. We see the subtle, mental manipulations crossing paths with the outright physical abuse. But we also see, from start to finish, a book of survival. And that makes The Electric Heir one of the most powerful books I’ve read.  

I am just completely in awe of Victoria Lee. 

The pacing of this novel is phenomenal. It is tense and action packed but filled with the emotional moments that feel like a knife to the chest in between. This is an extremely hard book to review, because much like The Fever King, all I want to say is THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Even sitting here, writing this review, my heart is pounding as I race to the end, and that is exactly the feeling I had reading The Electric Heir. It is everything I wanted, dreamt of and couldn’t even imagine I needed for the sequel, and end, to this destroying duology.