Saturday, March 18, 2017

What I Read in June 2016 Part III. . .

What I Read in June 2016 Part III. . .

Exile for Dreamers (Stranje House, #2)Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin (Stranje House #2)--Young Adult Historical Fantasy/Young Adult Regency Romance

Ever since arriving at Miss Stranje's establishment, Tess has been running - running to keep away the dreams- the nightmares that predict terrible things for good people. She runs to keep away the madness that killed her mother and grandmother. She has an affinity for the woods and for the animals; Miss Stranje's school is also a place of refuge. When some thugs try to kidnap Georgie and kill Lord Ravencross, Tess steps in to save her friends. She denies Lord Ravencross is even a friend, despite what others and what Gabriel himself might think. Tess feels Daneska and the Iron Crown are behind the attacks and they must plot a strategy that will outwit Napoleon and save the country. Assisting the girls is Mr. Andrew Sinclair, the unusual American engineer and nephew of Robert Fulton. They must hide him from the Iron Crown and help him build a steam powered ship that can travel underwater carrying an explosive. It's not an easy job but Miss Stranje's girls up are to the task. Then news from home means Tess must make a difficult decision while her loved ones try to convince her not to follow through with her plan in a variety of creative ways.

I loved this book even more than the first one in the series. The story pretty much answered the questions I had about the background of Miss Stranje and her school. There's plenty of action which starts in the beginning and causes the story to be very tense. I had a hard time putting the book down. I had to know what was going to happen and I was quite surprised at how some of the events transpired. In addition to action/adventure, this one has a heaping dose of romance to make the reader more invested in the characters and what they're fighting for. There are hints at Jane and Sera's future romances as well. I liked learning about steam power, something I wasn't interested in before I started my current job where we talk about steam power. I knew what the French were missing to make the paddlewheel run but I didn't know how Andrew could make it work underwater while carrying explosives-not to mention a crew. This book ends with a cliffhanger and I'm dying to know how it all works out. On the negative side, I found the romantic nobility/self-sacrifice plot a bit too wearying until about halfway through the book.

I liked Tess the best in A School for Unusual Girls so I was eager to read more about her. She did annoy me a bit in the beginning with her refusal to acknowledge her feelings and her self-sacrificing attitude, but I can see her concerns. Her character development is excellent though a bit heavy handed at the end.

I can't wait to read the rest of the series! I'm very interested in Sera's story.

Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton (Historical Proper Romance #1)Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton by Josi S. Kilpack--Historical Romance

While Fanny Appleton is on her Grand Tour with her father, older sister and beloved cousin, she makes the acquaintance of Henry Longfellow, a poor professor and writer. Though she liked his book, Fanny isn't so sure she likes the man. She does like the way he looks at her and notices her as no one else has ever done. He has some radical views on slavery and women's education that interest Fanny but he is so poor, and a grieving widower. Fanny longs for romance and to be someone's one and only true love. She wants to go to parties and dances and have fun befitting her youth, but Mr. Longfellow does make her think. Henry Longfellow is on his second tour of Europe before starting his professorship at Harvard. He hopes to turn the institution around with his teaching of modern languages as well as continue to write. He feels lost and lonely without his wife but when he meets Fanny, she makes him feel alive once more. She's so passionate about learning and literature, but she is also so young and has experienced so much loss. Should he tell her of his feelings or try to move on? How could someone as young, wealthy and intelligent as Miss Fanny ever want to marry an old man like him?

This is a very very slow story. It took me forever to read it because nothing really happened. There's a lot of dialogue about literature and language, which I liked, but a lot of nothing which I did not like. There's some Christian content towards the end where Fanny becomes introspective with the help of her stepmother. I'm not sure this is specifically meant to be a Christian book but it seemed like it could be.

Fanny is not an appealing person. She's spoiled, selfish and really really nasty to poor Henry for most of the book. Henry has the sensitive soul of a poet; he's romantic and worships Fanny. Any woman would swoon to have him in love with her and Fanny doesn't appreciate him. I tried to make allowances for her age and her sorrows but she didn't improve much as she got older. I found myself uninterested in her and thinking Henry could do better.

I liked the author's notes on each chapter. As a New Englander, I can't help but be familiar with the famous poet (I was born on the day after the anniversary of Paul Revere's ride "that famous date and year" and I'm told I've been to the Wayside) but I didn't really know much about his personal life. I was more interested in the historical notes and the author's sources than the actual story.

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