Friday, July 31, 2015

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin {review + giveaway}

A School for Unusual Girls 
by Kathleen Baldwin
♦publisher : Tor Teen
♦release date: May 19th, 2015
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Stranje House, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts...

Review:  A School for Unusual Girls was very different than what I expected, but I really enjoyed it! I went in expecting more of the finishing school-setting and a story more concentrated on the girls themselves and the things that made them "unusual" (I also expected more "powers", and while there was a little of that going on, the girls' cleverness were more of the non-magical variety!)  What I found instead was a equal parts historic,  romance, and a life-or-death mission to save King and country!

This book did something books rarely do for me---gave me a story I liked despite the fact that I was constantly irritated by the main character. Georgiana's self-esteem is a mess, and practically every word out of her mouth is self-depreciating, whether its about her looks, her intelligence, her value, or her ability to be loved.  It was understandable, coming from the harsh and hateful family that she did, a mother and father that didn't value her at all for her smarts, but constantly put her down because she wasn't properly behaved, pretty enough, or marriagable. But I would have like to see her snap out of the broodiness a little when surrounded by girls like her and people who valued her cleverness, instead of using these new friends to find new ways to put herself down.   She was also frustratingly clueless to any signs of flirtatious teasing by Sebastian, who was so playful and fun about his attraction to her.  She does eventually grow out of it, but it happens at nearly the end.

With the story so concentrated on Georgie's mission, we don't get to know the other girls quite as much, but what we did see of them I really loved, Sera's serene manner, Jane's kindness and frankness, Maya's comforting demeanor, and Tess's fiery passion and bravery.  Emma Stranje herself was a complicated and tough-love motherly type, and I would love to hear more of her back story! Sebastian was adorable, teasing and fun, but also deadly serious when it came to his duties.  

Though there were a few slow moments in the middle, the beginning had me fully intrigued, and the last half was explosively exciting and intense.  Spies, espionage, and skillful deception,  tense moments where time is running out, and a mission that could mean the fall of France and hundreds of lost lives.  There are deadly mishaps, daring rescues, and many romantic moments that are incredibly swoon-worthy.

I'll definitely be picking up future books in this series! The next book surrounds Tess and the equally hot-headed Lord Ravencross, so I can't wait!!
Find Kathleen Baldwin online: Website  • Twitter  •  Pinterest

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

I'm giving away one finished copy of 
The School for Unusual Girls!
•US mailing address only please
•Ends  8/14/15
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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