Blog Tour: SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George | Review, Favorite Quotes, + Giveaway!

Posted September 14, 2017 by Madalyn || 11 Comments

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Speak Easy, Speak Love! This was one of my most highly-anticipated fall 2017 releases (and one of my most-anticipated debuts of the year), and I’m so happy to be a part of this tour. Read on for my full thoughts, some favorite quotes, and a giveaway!

Blog Tour: SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George | Review, Favorite Quotes, + Giveaway!Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 19th 2017
Pages: 432
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher
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Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer.

Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother, John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Oh my goodness, what a refreshingly unique book! Speak Easy, Speak Love had so many of my favorite things going for it– 1920’s New York setting, Shakespeare retelling, hate-to-love romance, a lovable cast of characters– and I’m so happy to say that it delivered on all its promise.

Like I mentioned above, this book is a retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing. While I haven’t read the play, I have seen it performed, and I enjoyed how cleverly McKelle George adapted the play to a “modern” setting. For example, though Shakespeare’s play is set in Italy and SESL is set in New York City, George makes some of the main characters Italian immigrants. Also, it was wonderful to see a retelling of this particular Shakespeare play, which I don’t feel like gets enough love as far as retellings and modern adaptations go. You can absolutely still read and enjoy this book if you’re not familiar with the play, but those who know and love Much Ado will appreciate the author’s clever nods to the source material. I also felt that this was, overall, an extremely faithful adaptation! There was a change in the ending regarding who one of the main characters ends up with that I LOVED, though. It honestly made a lot more sense to me than this character’s original choice of partner in Shakespeare’s play, ha. Also, this retelling featured a decidedly feminist undercurrent throughout, which I found so refreshing!

As expected, the Prohibition-era setting was a huge part of what made this book so wonderful and atmospheric. The story primarily takes place at a struggling speakeasy on Long Island called Hey Nonny Nonny (like I said– this book was such a clever adaptation of Much Ado!). There is no setting quite like 1920’s New York City, and I appreciated reading a story set outside of Manhattan. We as readers got a fascinating look at the underground culture of speakeasies during this time period. Speak Easy, Speak Love was incredibly well-researched (and I also loved reading the author’s note and finding that so many parts of the story I assumed to be fictional were actually based on real people and events).

We have to talk about this cast of characters, because they are SO lovable and well-developed. Beatrice has dreams of becoming a doctor, but is forced to move in with her cousin, Hero, and uncle, Leo, at Hey Nonny Nonny when money runs out to cover her boarding school tuition. There, she becomes friends with the others who live and work at Hey Nonny Nonny– Hero, the life of the party; Maggie, the ridiculously talented black singer who provides the speakeasy’s entertainment; Benedick, an aspiring writer who’s just run away from prep school; Prince, half-Italian and the brains behind the speakeasy; and John, Prince’s half-brother who may or may not be involved in some shady illegal business. The rapport among the cast of characters was so fun to read! McKelle George excels at writing dialogue, and this is a huge part of how we get to know these characters. I especially adored the witty banter between Beatrice and Benedick. The romantic and sexual tension between them was REAL, y’all. If you’re like me and you love a good hate-to-love romance, you must pick this book up. The chemistry between the two of them was so true to Shakespeare’s play, and so well-done.

The bottom line: if you want gorgeous writing, an atmospheric setting, your new favorite characters, and clever nods to Shakespeare? Speak Easy, Speak Love is the book for you!

favorite quotes*

“Say what you like, but it was always the girls that rallied first.”

Speak Easy, Speak Love e-ARC, location 453-453

“That was when she fell, tumbled right off the branch, with no bottom in sight. She poked at the feeling the way one might a rabid animal and discovered it was not only there but alive. Of course she loved him.”

Speak Easy, Speak Love e-ARC, location 4150-4152

*These quotes were taken from an advanced reader’s copy, and are liable to change in the final copy of this book.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • One ARC of Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
  • Pre-order swag, including:
  • 1 Speak Easy, Speak Love bookmark
  • 1 signed Speak Easy, Speak Love bookplate
  • 1 signed Speak Easy, Speak Love postcard
  • The full set of Speak Easy, Speak Love character cards
  • Link to more details about the swag

Have you read Speak Easy, Speak Love? If so, I’d love to discuss! If not, do you plan to pick it up? 

About McKelle George

McKelle George is a reader, writer of clumsy rebels, perpetual doodler, and associate librarian at the best library in the world. She mentors with Salt Lake Teen Writes and plays judge for the Poetry Out Loud teen competitions (but has no poetic talent herself). Her debut young adult novel Speak Easy, Speak Love comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white German shepherd and way, way too many books.

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11 responses to “Blog Tour: SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George | Review, Favorite Quotes, + Giveaway!

  1. Kitty @ Vicarious Bookworm

    I’m so glad to see you enjoyed this book as much as I did! I can’t wait to see more of McKelle George’s work.

  2. I’ve seen this book around a little, but I had no idea what it was about until now. I love books set in the 1920s, AND hate-to-love romances, so this is definitely something I’m interested in reading! Great review!

  3. Jennifer Y.

    I loved this book! It was such a fun read and the setting and characters were just perfect. I love the quotes you chose!

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