Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Never Sleep by Cady Vance

Never Sleep

by Cady Vance

127 days without sleep.

Thora Green had a life once upon a time. But that ended the day her parents enrolled her in sleep clinic prison. At the facility, her chronic months-long insomnia is observed by scads of doctors, but she is never actually treated for her dire disease. In a feat of desperation, Thora escapes and heads straight for New York City. Buried deep in the city’s underbelly, there is rumored to be a secret haven called the Insomniacs’ Café: a place where people like Thora can find relief.

As Thora joins forces with Aiden and Florence, two fellow insomniacs, their midnight quest will take them from the dusty bookshelves of The Strand, to the smokey underground clubs in the Lower East Side, to countless taxi and subway rides. Clues leading to their final destination are waiting for them at every turn. But so are Sleepers—a powerful core of sworn-enemies to all Insomniacs— who wish to see Thora and her friends destroyed at any cost.


Genres: Young Adult Science Fiction

Publication Date: February 23, 2015

Series: N/A

Pages: 402
 
My Rating: 1 star

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was not unique, it was bizarre. There is a slight, but important difference between the two, and in this case, it was sadly not the former that I would describe this book as. If the explanations for things had been given a bit more scientific sounding backup, perhaps I would have liked Never Sleep better; however, there were some other problems I had with the whole things, so maybe not.

In this rare case, it's not exactly the MC's personality that made me dislike them. I actually didn't mind Thora's personality at all; I though it was pretty understandable considering her circumstances. No, in Thora's case, it's her actions that made me have a hard time understanding her. They just make zero sense.

Strike 1 against her is how quickly she bounces back after seeing her brother DIE in front of her. The brother that is supposed to be the person she is closest to. There's tears and sadness for about ten minutes. And then she gets back to hunting with the guy she has 'feelings' for (so stupid, she's known him for how long?) and cracking jokes with her new best friend who is also someone she met a few hours ago. I know everyone processes grief differently...but if ANY person acts like that less than an hour after their close SIBLING dies? Screw that. I'm thinking that they killed them if that's how they grieve. The only reason I didn't have this theory in Thora's case was that the book made it clear she didn't.

Secondly...why. why. why. Would you trust three random supposed insomniacs on the street. She literally just escaped from a clinic that tried so hard to keep her there; who's to say that those people don't work for the clinic?

And, strike three, then she goes and develops a crush on one of these people. Who could be anyone. ANYONE. She has not known him for long enough to know what his true character is. It annoyed me to no end.

The plot could have been great, but I didn't think there was enough explanation to back up the rather out-there twist it took later in the story. It was rather hard to believe, and a very complicated explanation for all that had happened over the course of the book.

The last thing that got on my nerves were random cultural references that didn't add to the story. I don't exactly know why Thora had to describe her love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer early on in the novel; I mean, good for her, it's a great tv series, but did it add absolutely anything to the plot? Nope.

Never Sleep had a great premise to work with, but the execution was less than perfect. It's definitely one of the most crazy books I've ever read; I wish that it had been better.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: The Fearless by Emma Pass

The Fearless

By Emma Pass

Blurb: The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect - anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.

Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother - and when Jori is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.


Genres: Young Adult Dystopian

Series: N/A at this point

Publication Date: April 24, 2014

Pages: 400

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Fearless starts off amazingly. I was hooked; There was about one page WITHOUT action, and then all hell broke loose and it was heartpoundingly suspenseful. I loved that it started off by showing exactly HOW the apocalypse started, rather than beginning afterwards and giving an infodump of information. I was sure that this was going to be one of my favorite dystopian of 2015. 

And then...things happened.

First off, there was a huge time jump. And apparently, the time that got skipped over was extremely detrimental to the little children that I had originally met in the first chapter of this book, because now one was kinda boring in a Mary-sueish way, and the other was a total dousche with abusive tendencies. 

Let's start with Cass. Like I said, she became a bit of a Mary Sue. While I thought the bond she had with her brother was nice...it did remind me a bit of Prim and Katniss. In fact, there were a lot of things in this book that seemed very similar to other dystopian novels, but I'll have to touch on that later. In addition to that relationship, she and Myo get rather insta-lovey with each other; she's having feelings for him when she barely knows him, and trusts him rather foolishly at times. I was surprised at how easily she believed him at the beginning, especially with how she'd been trained where she lived. 

Myo actually wasn't that bad of a character. He was kind and mysterious, and while I didn't love him, I really had no complaints about him. The one complaint I have was that it was so easy to see what his 'secret' was. There were so many hints towards it. 

Sol is where I get angry. He is SUCH a major dousche. He's entitled, spoiled, and sociopathic. Plus, he has some weird obsession with Cass. He thinks he loves her. Which is just so hard to understand when there are passages like this in the book: 

For a second--just a second--I think about slamming a fist into her (Cassie's) face.


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Yeah, I get it; Sol is not supposed to be likeable. He's supposed to be that twisted character that you love to hate. The thing is, I don't want to have to read from his POV about his weird Cass addiction. It's just not okay.

There were also a lot of things that I thought were borrowed from other dystopian novels, and it just didn't feel wholly original to me. The apocalyptic disease has been done before. The sibling bond has definitely been done before. And the insta-love relationship has MOST definitely been done before, in dystopian and otherwise. There are other, smaller examples as well, though I read this long enough ago and forgot to write them down that I am having a hard time remembering exactly what they were at the moment.

However, there were some original parts that were really different and enjoyable. Myo and Mara's dynamic was definitely unique; I liked the dilemma that this posed throughout the story.

I did find some good in this book, though most likely not enough to continue with the story. (If there is a continuation, though it is not mentioned on Goodreads.) I think I've gotten to the point where I'm beginning to get sick of Dystopian, and that may have contributed to some of my dislike to this book. It's definitely not the worst of its genre, it just kind of felt like a rehash at this point, and that was something I'm not in the mood for.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: The Executioner's Daughter

The Executioner's Daughter

By Jane Hardstaff

Blurb: Thrilling adventure set in the underbelly of the Tower of London and on the Thames in Tudor times

Moss hates her life. As the daughter of the Executioner in the Tower of London, it’s her job to catch the heads in her basket after her father has chopped them off. She dreams of leaving, but they are prisoners with no way out.

Then Moss discovers a hidden tunnel that takes her to freedom, where she learns that her life isn’t what she believes it to be and she doesn’t know who to trust.

Her search for the truth takes her on a journey along the great River Thames. Could the answers lie deep in its murky depths?

Genres: Juvenile Paranormal Historical Fiction

Publication Date: January 30, 2014

Series: N/APages: 363

My Rating: 1 star

The Executioner's Daughter was actually kind of painful to get through, because I was so very bored with it. Does that make sense? Well, no, not exactly, because this book took place in a fascinating era, with characters who had fascinating pasts, and there was potential for a fascinating plot. 'Fascinating', however, this book was not. 

The problem is that despite the fact that this book has so much going for it, it drags on with useless pages and not enough plot. The blurb sits on a throne of lies; this is not a 'thrilling' adventure.' For the longest time there was no paranormal happenings. When there was paranormal activity, well, I was bored. The writing just didn't have enThe book turned something so exciting into an NPR broadcast.
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Not helping was the fact that the heroine, Moss, was completely insufferable. She whines. She complains. She treats her dad like (insert swear here.) (HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE? Because in the era this is in, isn't backsassing your parents a huuuuuge no-no??) The fact I could not stand her is saying a lot, because I am a sucker for characters with sad backstories, and Moss really got the short end of the stick as far as her life situation goes, but I still hated her. 

The other characters were just as annoying. The one friend that Moss makes I could not stand. He was just annoying. The ghost lady who played a major role in the book later on seemed so cliche.

So many details were just so unnecessary to the story. Why did Anne Boleyn have to have a heartfelt conversation with Moss? Dunno. Why did we have to go in depth about everyday life at the dungeon? Because it got repetitive after a while, and it just triggered Moss complaining more, which just got...ugh.

I regret reading this, and that is saying something. It really didn't have anything I can praise in it, and so, obviously, there is no one I'd recommend this to.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Tour Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief




The Occasional Diamond Thief
Release Date: 05/15/15

Summary from Goodreads:
The Occasional Diamond Thief is the tale of Kia, who is courageous and practical with a quirky sense of humor, and a loner.

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a translator, she is co-opted into travelling to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be — it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him — but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Even worse, Kia must translate for Agatha, who is as different from Kia as it's possible for two people to be - Agatha is idealistic, naïve, and compassionate.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks - Kia unravels the secret of her father's mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner. But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her?

And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend?
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 Hello, I’m J. A. McLachlan, the author of The Occasional Diamond Thief. I’m so pleased to be meeting you, and I’d like to thank Gabs at My Full Bookshelf for reviewing my book today. This blog tour is part of my online launch of The Occasional Diamond Thief, and I’ll have something different at each stop – book excerpts, author and character reveals, vlogs, reviews and blog posts – for you to enjoy. You can find The Occasional Diamond Thief at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NF9NYJM
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Buy Links:

 My Review: 4 stars


I've started to avoid YA sci-fi lately, unless I've heard amazing things about a particular book. The reason for this is that the genre seems to be getting sloppy; poor worldbuilding, not enough adventure, etc. etc. I took a bit of a leap of faith with The Occasional Diamond Thief because, well, I'm not completely sure why anymore. There was something that drew me in based on the blurb, and so I went against my rule and tried it out. I have to say, if all my instinctual decisions were this good, I would be pretty satisfied with my life. (Sadly they aren't usually good at all, but the point of this review is not to criticize questionable life choices.)

A question I would like to pose now is where has Kia been all my life? She was a marvelous character. I loved how smart she was; the girl knows four and a half languages! She is living my dream. I haven't even mastered two yet, so there is a bit of jealousy there, but the good motivational kind. She's also a very flawed character; she has difficulty making friends and having meaningful relationships with other people, and well, she's an occasional diamond thief. I really liked her.

There's also Agatha, who defies everything that Kia expects her to be. She's friendly, caring, and absolutely hopeless when it comes to languages. I had to laugh at the way the book described her blunders. She and Kia were a good pair of friends.

In addition to the characters, the worldbuilding is really good. It's the perfect balance of not saying too little about the world but not saying too much either. There's no infodumps; it's not 100% clear how the future came to be like this, but that was fine because it didn't matter. The world as it was in the book felt like it was shaped effortlessly through what Kia let readers know in her narration. There weren't any weird info dumps at the beginning giving a specific history of this new world, it just kind of jumped right in and let me as a reader experience it for myself. It felt a bit like a sci-fi but also a bit like a fantasy--mostly because of the unique names, if I'm being honest.

The plot is so good! Kia and Agatha's experiences in Malem are both nervewracking and exciting. Right up until the very end, there's the mystery of why Kia's father has the Malemese diamond. You can puzzle it out somewhat while reading, but knowing the full story behind why he had it made it even more clear.

One part of what makes the plot so good is the inclusion of the queen of Malem. She's powerful and dangerous, but she's also shown at times to be heartbroken and human. I thought she made a good kind of antagonist. It was interesting to see how her character would react to things.

I honestly hope this book won't be the last in this world. I would like to read more of Kia and Agatha's story. This book does not disappoint if you are looking for a book with a thrilling plot and well-crafted characters.


About the Author
J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. But science fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and Walls of Wind is her first published Science Fiction novel. Her new science fiction novel is The Occasional Diamond Thief. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency. 

Author Links:

Book Tour Organized by:
 
GIVEAWAY:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Jackaby

By William Ritter

Blurb: “Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Genres: Young Adult Mystery, Paranormal

Publication Date: September 16, 2014

Series: Jackaby (book 1)

My Rating: 4 stars

Jackaby, I was discovering, had a way of opening that corner of my brain. It was a quite little corner in which I had lived when I was younger. It was a corner in which anything was possible, where magic was not an imprbabale day dream, but obvious fact...

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I don't often agree with the marketing that publishers try to employ by saying that a book is like (insert popular cultural thing here) meets (insert popular culture thing here) but in this case...dang. It was spot on. All the weird creatures a la Doctor Who with the sleuthing (and a hint of the personality of) Sherlock Holmes. 221 Baker Street, meet 926 Augur Lane. I dare you to try not to like this book. I bet I'll win that bet though. 

Jackaby. Sarcastic, oblivious, English gentleman. Jackaby is by far my favorite character in this book. He is an odd duck...oops, that's actually Douglas...an odd specimen, and a total enigma.

His female Watson is Abigail Rook. She is an independent runaway who doesn't conform to the gender stereotypes of the day. Hooray for feminism! She's observant and fits Jackaby's odd personality perfectly. 

Besides the pair of MCs, there's a man who's a duck who refuses to be a man again, and a very proper ghost who drinks tea. What a book. What a story. 

The plot manages to get the formula that a book like this needs right; there's a great amount of mystery and paranormal creatures, but not so much that the era this book takes place in is irrelevant; the culture and speech of the time is able to seep in and create a beautiful atmosphere for the story to flourish. And there's a touch of romance, but it's hardly overwhelming; a hint is quite literally all it is seeing as it's never more than a feeling.

These paranormal creatures are not your typical vampires or ab-endowed werewolves. Some are scary as all crap, some friendly, some adorkable. There's banchees and trolls and creatures that I didn't even know were a thing but apparently are. 

The best part is that the ending is so unexpected and chilling. It makes sense once you think about it--which makes it even better. 

Descriptions in this book are stunningly vivid. I had a clear image of Jackaby in my head...a clear image of everything, really Which, considering this is a murder mystery, was sometimes a bit gruesome to think about, but I made it through.

Jackaby is as stunning as its cover; it's brilliantly written and has a cast of characters not soon forgotten. If you've gone in to tv-show depression while waiting for the next season of Sherlock to come out, look no further than Jackaby. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Blog Tour Review+Playlist+GIVEAWAY: A Matter of Heart



A Matter of Heart

by Amy Fellner Dominy

Publisher: Delacorte

Release Date: May 2015
Synopsis:
Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl's Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are. 
Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that's defined her entire life.
BOOK LINKS:
Amazon paperbackhttp://tinyurl.com/mr8nntz

My Rating: 4 stars

A Matter of Heart is a heart wrenching book. It is so hard to read Abby's story, because of how important swimming is to her; I could not wait to see how it would end.

Abby is such a relatable character, which makes her story so much better and hard to read. This could be me if I had this condition; how she reacts to finding out she has HCM could have easily been me. 

The way she deals with it may not be the smartest route to go, but it was definitely understandable. Imagine having your hopes and dreams shattered with one diagnosis; it would be so hard to just accept and cope with that. You'd do anything you could to try and reverse it; and that is what Abby does.

Her friend Jen is there to be the sensible girl that Abby needs in her life. I liked their friendship; I thought she and Abby complemented each other.

The one relationship I did not like was Alec and Abby. I know that this is a Young adult book and therefore NOT having romance in here is sacrilege or something, but I feel like having Abby go through this without the distraction of a romance would have been better for me. I did like Alec's backstory and everything, just not him and Abby together.

Like I said before, I could not wait to see how this ended; would Abby get a happy ending, or what? I obviously won't spoil anything, but I will say that I was left satisfied.

This is a shorter but very compelling book. Abby's story really moved me; I really enjoyed it.

My Playlist of Songs I Need To Exercise To:
These are all the songs on my workout playlist. There's not really a theme to any of them, except for they all have a fastish beat:

Danza Kuduro: Don Omar y Lucenzo
Baby Don't Lie: Gwen Stefani
Chandelier: Sia
Another Night: Real McCoy
Dare: Shakira
Hey Brother: Avicii
Hips Don't Lie: Shakira
Niña Bonita: Chino y Nacho
Immortals: Fall Out Boy
Oh No!: Marina and the Diamonds
Lose Yourself: Eminem
Jai Ho! (You are My Destiny): A.R. Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls



Giveaway:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Fellner Dominy worked as a copywriter in the advertising business before leaving to earn her MFA in playwriting. Her plays for adults and children have been staged in various cities around the country. Amy's novels for teens include OyMG (Walker, 2011) and AUDITION & SUBTRACTION (Walker, 2012.) Amy's next book is a contemporary YA coming Spring, 2015 from Random House. It's called A MATTER OF HEART.








Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Hold Me Like a Breath

By Tiffany Schmidt

Blurb: Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.


Genres: Young Adult Retellings, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Pages: 400

Series: Once Upon a Time Family (book 1)

My Rating: 3 stars

 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I'll be honest, I think the reason I liked this more was that I knew what to expect negative-wise. I'd read a couple reviews, and so I knew the complaints about the book; and, somehow, this made me not dislike it so much. I knew Penelope was a bit insufferable at the beginning; but I also knew that she got loads better by the end, so I was patient. I knew this wasn't great on explaining the mafia-like aspect; so that's not what I planned on reading about. It just somehow worked out that knowing the negative aspects of the book helped its rating rather than harmed it, which is basically a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for me.

Like I said, Penelope does act a bit spoiled at the beginning of the book. However, she gets so much better by the end, and really matures. It's amazing how much this girl grows throughout the course of the book. She goes from being really whiny and pampered to independent and daring.

There's technically two love interests in this book, though it's not the typical love triangle at all. (in fact, it isn't a love triangle period.) No, this was not the strong point of the book; but considering this is a Young Adult novel and relationships are so idealized in almost all of this genre, I was really surprised and pleased that (SPOILER) with one of the relationships, Penelope realizes the guy is a super-jumbo toolbox and stops crushing on him. Especially since it was a comically serious relationship (oxymoron for the win) when we were first introduced to it. (END OF SPOILER)

What really tripped me up about this book is something that I DIDN'T really read about/remember in any of the reviews I had previously read. HOW FRICKING UNBELIEVABLE THIS ALL IS. Penelope manages to waltz around an entire city for I-can't-even-remember-how-long and there's like, two scenes where she actually has problems due to her condition. Other than that, she goes to museums, she makes friends with random people at parks, she finds a favorite coffee shop. Like, hello, you are in New York City, and so far we've been led to believe that even getting touched could badly bruise you...with all the people in that city, how is she able to function? It makes no sense.

The 'big reveal' near the end was really entertaining. I maybe should have saw it coming, but well, I didn't, and so I was totally blown away. No spoilers for this particular reveal; this purposely vague paragraph is all you get.

This wasn't bad like I had been bracing myself for. It was actually pretty enjoyable. I do see why people had problems for it, but in the right mood, this could be a nice read.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

By Julie Berry

Blurb: There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.


Genres: Young Adult, Humorous, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Pages: 368

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars

It's official, I love Julie Berry. She is the queen of historical fiction to me. I loved All the Truth That's In Me, and I loved this book. It's so different then the previously mentioned book, but it's comical and enthralling and oh so proper that I couldn't help but love it.

These girls, oh these girls! I love their sisterhood. I want to be a part of their sisterhood. They are so smart, and they work together so well! Each character is referred to by an adjective before their name. (Dear Roberta, Pocked Louise, Discraceful Mary Jane, etc.) Normally, this would have begun to bug me, but it somehow works in this story. There's also background information at the beginning on all of the characters in the story, as well as their relatives (who aren't mentioned very much, but give a great background as to each of the girl's home life, which is important for fully being able to accept the story.)

I can't really talk about which girl I liked best; because, honestly, I see them as 'the sisterhood' first and foremost. Each girl is focused on at least once in the story, so you do get to know them fairly well, but so often it talks about them as a group so that is how I see them now.

I like to think of this book as a middle grade Victorian era Clue. The mystery is really fun to figure out; even the girls themselves have suspicion cast upon them at one time or another. They also have to juggle hiding the fact that their headmistress is, well, dead, and how they do that is ingenious and sometimes comical.

Oh, the humor in this book! Some of the more gruesome things in this book, like the murders, are made much lighter by the fact that this book is so irreverant about the whole thing. The girls' reaction to the fact that they just witnessed two murders is a prime example of this. They're so nonchalant about the whole thing. The depictions of some of the oblivious adults is also amusing.

But it still can be a bit creepy, of course. There's strangers hiding in gardens, break ins, and assassination attempts. It's thrilling as well as funny.

Plus, reading about girls who won't conform to restrictive gender roles of the day and who would rather be independent individuals is also very endearing to me. Plus, these girls are so supportive of each other; they aren't catty to one another (there's arguments at times, sure, but it never comes across as 'mean girl'-esque) and it's like they're actual sisters, not just schoolmates.

I loved the writing style of this book; it's so proper and fits in so well with the era that Julie Berry is writing about. It really captured the feel of the story.

I didn't see the ending coming at all! I thought it was perfectly done as a mystery. One problem I did have with it though is that I thought everything ended up a bit too perfectly. There weren't enough consequences for everyone in the end, and realistically, that didn't seem right to me.

This book has a special place in my heart. Definitely one of the best and most unique historical fictions I've read in a long time!