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Speak Easy, Speak Love Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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“Speak Easy, Speak Love is a book nerd’s dream. With the vivid hedonism of the 1920s, a cast of exquisitely drawn characters (with snappy chemistry, and sexual tension that makes you want to smash their faces together), and wit to rival Will himself...loving, fresh, and unputdownable.” (Mackenzi Lee, author of the New York Times–bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue)
“Deliciously enjoyable...This is sure to delight fans of Anna Godberson’s Bright Young Things and Shakespeare’s writings alike, leaving a taste for much more of the Roaring Twenties and much more from George.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“The vibrant, dangerous atmosphere of a Roaring Twenties speakeasy is clever setting for this debut, a reimagining of Much Ado about Nothing. ...for fans of an enemies-to-lovers romance, this biting comedy is always a classic.” (Booklist)
“George adeptly captures Shakespeare’s witty characters and transplants them to the 1920s . . . and cleverly incorporates all the romantic misunderstandings among the well-rounded characters. The time period is accurately portrayed...this retelling is witty and clever.” (School Library Journal)
“Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing bears up uncannily well . . . readers will be fully immersed in the excitement, glamour, and danger of a culture tipping into rebellion and making way for change in more ways than one.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
About the Author
McKelle George hated reading Shakespeare in high school. But then she spent a summer abroad seeing productions at Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe in London. She fell in love with all the different ways the same play could be interpreted. She now lives in Salt Lake City, where she mentors young writers with Salt Lake Teens Write and works as an editor and reference librarian. Speak Easy, Speak Love is her first novel. www.mckellegeorge.com
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Now, about the book itself! It is beautiful. Full of finding yourself, romance, SO MUCH BANTER, and faaaaamily. I loved it. Honestly, it was just such a book.
I will admit, the plot is a bit slow, but that's because there's a few other arcs in the book. There are several POVs--primarily Beatrice and Benedick, with some Maggie--and they each have their own issues they need to battle through. I thought George seamlessly did this and it totally added to the book. It made each character, not just the three who got their own chapters, come alive.
Speaking of, the characters definitely made this book! I adored each and every one of them! Hero, the flirt, and, personally, an Inspiration (tm), was beautiful and dedicated and just plain amazing. I loved her style, her ability to put herself out there, just everything. Then there was Beatrice, my fierce, feminist darling! She was never afraid to voice her opinions and to stand up for herself. She said whatever she wanted, consequences be damned. Benedick was a smart, sassy writer and I liked how George wrote him! He was so sweet, funny at times, and adorably awkward with his feelings! Prince and John weren't were a pair of brothers that were so different, it's surprising they were related at all! I wished we'd seen more of John, but they were both complicated and admirable in their own way. And finally, Maggie, my loooooove. Her POV was probably my favourite. There's just so much about her I love, I could go on for ages.
Okay, okay wrapping up here, but before I go: ALL THE SHIPS. THEY ARE SO GOOD. ALL OF THEM. Oh my GOSH, they were so cute, so perfect, SO WELL DEVELOPED. I loved them. All of them. Particularly Bea and Ben, because you see most of them, BUT YEAH. They're all!! So!! Goood!!
And to end this not-so-mini-review (lmao sorry), READ THIS BOOK. It is so charming, so funny, and so, so good!
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: If this is your first time reading one of my reviews, you may not know how much I love Shakespeare retellings. But I do, so Speak Easy, Speak Love was absolutely one of my most-anticipated books of 2017.
The beginning was a little rough, but stick with this book, and it'll smooth out for a strong middle and end.
The fact that Benedick and Beatrice had no prior history and didn't hate each other to begin with kind of ruins the fun of the plot, although the scene where they dance at the Masquerade is well done. It's reminiscent of Shakespeare's without being too derivative. And I liked how their relationship progressed, and they were both able to pursue their dreams. I did appreciate how the author played with the plot surrounding Hero. She, like Lily Anderson in her Much Ado About Nothing retelling The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, changes the plot so it causes just a little less drama, although there's definitely still slut-shaming. Speaking of Hero, her personality really bursts off the pages. She was vibrant and lovely and not so meek as other interpretations of Hero, but just as much of a Hufflepuff. I also really liked Prince/Pedro in this adaptation, and I thought the author did a good job of incorporating Verges and Dogberry.
Other little things I liked: how the chapter titles are quotes from Much Ado About Nothing, how Benedick's dad was impressed by Beatrice, the accurate time period references.
There's underage drinking, of course (this is a Prohibition era novel). The s-word was used a few times.
The Verdict: Didn't quite live up to my expectations, but it was still a fun read.
I found myself relating to all the characters in different ways, and putting myself right in their shoes. I feel like I walked the halls of the house, drove up the driveway, waited on the porch, and danced in the speakeasy. Feeling heartbroken at times and not being able to stop reading until my...err..their broken hearts where mended! (See I just jumped right in and felt like I was in the story!)
The end threw me for a loop for a bit there, but then wrapped all up like a pretty Christmas bow, and I was left feeling delighted and a bit sappy!
If you're looking for a great book, and also gorgeous looking piece to add to your book collection, I say click the "add to cart" button. Go on, do it! You know you want to!