The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Tutor's Daughter

The Tutor’s Daughter

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration? The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her. When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor’s daughter figure out which brother to blame… and which brother to trust with her heart? (From Goodreads)

I thought this was enjoyable to read. It reminded me a lot of Jayne Eyre (sans an eccentric Mr Rochester) as it had a lot of similar qualities in the book. It certainly does have a Gothic element to it which adds more to the mystery and gives the story a bit of a dark theme to it.

Emma is quite a lovely character to read about. She’s certainly very bookish, but has the patience of a saint to deal with students (such as Henry – who was quite odious as Emma had described during her past with him) (he still remained so…although I’m the type to bear a grudge sometimes so I wouldn’t be so forgivable..Emma can be just too nice in my opinion). I’m not too sure what Emma really saw in Phillip. I didn’t find him the least bit likable. Charming yes. However it’s like a wallflower having a crush on the most popular guy in school role. The moment he opens his mouth he just doesn’t become that Adonis you’ve always thought of. So I’m not really sure what Emma saw in him. He wasn’t that great (neither was Henry but at least Henry had a level head on his shoulders)

I’m not sure what I think of Lizzie. She’s the type where you have to be her friend because she’s the only one around who will talk to you but you don’t really want to hang out with because you just simply can’t trust her….

The plot itself was really good although the urge to kick Lady Weston every so often was there throughout the entire book (argh she was awful) the mystery element of the book was good and interesting. The romance element is nice as well and the pace of the book was steady and even.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this book and will continue reading more of Julie Klaasen (I’ve read Maid of Fairbourne Hall – which I enjoyed as well). If you haven’t checked any of her books out, I highly suggest you do so for some very enjoyable reading with well done characters.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again. (From Goodreads)

What stood out for me the most about this book was the writing. It was very well done. The sights, the smells, and the general feeling throughout the plot was certainly felt. I loved the mood and atmosphere that was set for this story. The whole mystery mixed with some paranormal characteristics was good although I was wrong as to how Lillian died. I certainly wasn’t expecting what she died from. But then, that would be pretty typical right?

The story does sort of try to not become a typical plot you would find in most of these types of novels although when it came to the end it basically boiled down to an ending that you would have expected – but as I have mentioned earlier, what stood out for me was the writing style of the book. Although it may have left you wanting more out of the plot, you can’t dismiss the unique writing style and how well done it was. The ending had a mini twist, but it offered closure and closed all the loose ends nicely.

As for Hannah as a character, I didn’t dislike her or like her. It certainly did feel that Lillian and Hannah were two halves of one person and one without the other would be just an empty shell. You certainly did feel sorry for Lillian and what she went through. As for the romance factor in the story. It was all right. Certainly, it’s typical (bad boy and good girl couple) but they seemed to be fit for each other quite nicely.

Although I thought book was pretty decent, it left me wanting for something more. Also, the plot was a bit slow to go through and the pace could have been a bit quicker. Otherwise it’s a decent read and worth a try at least once, just to get the feel of Yovanoff’s writing style, which was excellent.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Thank you Razorbill for providing me a review copy! 🙂

Jane by April Lindner

Jane by April Lindner

Jane by April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love? (From Goodreads)

It helps a bit of you’ve read Jane Eyre. But even if you haven’t, this might peak your curiosity so you can actually get your hands on the original classic and read it! for those that have read Jane Eyre, it’s nice to compare between the two. I personally thought this was a great modern retelling of the original book. You’ll see Lindner does a fantastic job of trying to stay as close to the original as she could, but adding a few bits here and there to make it different (and still readable without destroying the original).

I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for Jayne throughout the book she really does create this aura of helplessness about her and it’s hard not to sympathize with her. Thing is though, I thought she was just a little too bland and boring, and not much of a personality came from her. Nico on the other hand was super intense! I loved his character!!! it was such a great idea to make him a secluded rock star with a not so great past! it was very well done! he’s got all the qualities of a dark brooding rock star you can’t help but swoon over that! however I didn’t care for his pity trip at the end of the book. Meh. Mr Rochester didn’t get that whiny in the original…..

The writing in the book was also really good, the length may be daunting to some, and it may take a bit to read through it but you’ll realize it’s most definitely worth the time to read. The heartbreaking moments are just that – super heartbreaking you can most certainly feel (it’s one of those books that could tear you apart emotionally). Which just goes to show how well written it is.

Most definitely recommended to YA readers, and if you haven’t picked up the original classic Jane Eyre yet, do so! so you’ll know at least where this brilliant retelling came from 🙂

I give it a 9/10

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. (From Goodreads)

I had trouble with finding a good book in the Dystopian genre that was on par with The Hunger Games. I thought to myself, nothing will be able to compare. I finally found its’ match. It’s this one. For sure. People who ask for other books like Hunger Games, I yell out Blood Red Road and nothing else.

Remember Mad Max? well the world is something like this. Dry, desert, hot. Blazing hot. The setting was so descriptive and rich you can feel the heat, the sweat, and the dryness. It sure seems like a very desolate lonely world, but the world building is wonderful and so rich and detailed. It’s a perfect setting for this type of novel and it’s extremely well done.

I loved Saba. She’s tough, she’s gritty, she’s not afraid to get dirty and to fight tooth and nail to get to Lugh. She treats her little sister like dirt, and yes I did find the little kid annoying, I would have hated to be in her shoes if she ever got Saba angry. But, you have to give credit to Emmi, she does talk back. As the story progresses, Emmi does grow on me and she’s definitely got the same strength Saba’s got. I love the bantering between Jack and Saba. There was chemistry there and with Saba’s bad temper it just made their interactions absolutely fun to read at times. The characters overall in this book were excellent. There was nothing to dislike! I also loved the Free Hawks. It was just awesome reading a girl gang who are able to survive on their own!

The action scenes are also really good (there’s worm like creatures! it’s like the sandworms from Dune except evil and really really aggressive!!! I squeed when I read this part!) the entire plot of this book was engaging, interesting and could not stop you from reading. It was literally, a page turner.

The only thing I had an issue with is Saba’s narration. It’s different, and took me a few tries to follow but you do get used to it as you read through the story.

Other than that, fans of the Hunger Games would LOVE THIS! and SHOULD READ THIS! drop everything else and give this one a try. It’s one of the best dystopian books I’ve read that definitely should share the pedestal that the Hunger Games is on.

I give it a 10 out of 10