Kim’s Review of The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Tutor'sDaughter_mck.inddAs you may or may not know, I’m a huge Julie Klassen fan.  So far, I’ve reviewed The Silent Governess, The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and last but not least, The Girl in the Gatehouse .  So, as you can see, I’m just slightly into her books.  When I heard she was coming out with a new book, The Tutor’s Daughter, can you guess how I acted? (I do admit, the previous four reviews may be a bit of a giveaway.)

Emma Smallwood, the daughter of a widowed father who ran a now-defunct academy, decides to cheer her father up by agreeing to travel with him to the Cornwall coast.  There, he is charged with instructing two sons of a baronet in their large manor home atop the cliffs.  At first, everything goes according to plan and Emma enjoys being in their new surroundings at the grand estate.  However, things soon begin to change and Emma begins to experience strange occurrences.  She hears the pianoforte playing in another room, only to find that no one is there.  She begins to receive strange notes, and discovers a toy soldier in her room on the floor, even though none of the boys is young enough to play with toy soldiers anymore.  Most chillingly, she finds a bloody hand print on her mirror!  Meanwhile, the baronet’s two older sons, Henry and Phillip, both have secrets of their own, and they struggle to hide them from Emma.  Both have known her since her childhood as they were former pupils at her father’s academy, and one seems to have found a new attraction to her.  Can Emma find out who is behind these chilling pranks?  What will she make of her new love interest?

I’m always impressed with Klassen’s ability to pay homage to classic literature with her novels while also creating unique and fascinating characters in her own right.  The Tutor’s Daughter is definitely an homage to Jane EyreNorthanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice.  Now that’s not to say that those are the only three books that have inspired her work, but the influence that these books had on Klassen is abundantly obvious in this work.  Emma herself is a blend of Jane Eyre and Catherine Morland, with a bit of Lizzie and Darcy mixed in.  She has the seriousness of Jane, the naive and adventurous spirit of Catherine, and a bit of the close-minded attitude that Darcy and Elizabeth have when forming first impressions about people.  It’s not only Emma that bears resemblance to characters of classic literature.  Her father is a bit like Mr. Bennet, Henry is a hybrid between Darcy and Mr. Tilney, and the list goes on and on.  She weaves characters, themes, and tidbits of plot from some of my favorite novels all while making it feel fresh and new.

I literally could not get enough of this book while I was reading it.  The book starts out at a normal pace, and before you realize it, things are happening rather rapidly.  Pieces of a puzzle that you didn’t even know existed begin coming together, and you’re left with a tale of intrigue, shipwrecks, smuggling, adventure, and how far the boundaries of love and family can be pushed and tested.  Of all of Klassen’s works so far, The Tudor’s Daughter feels like her masterpiece.  As much as I’ve loved all of her other books, this one truly shines on a pedestal all by itself.  The writing is crisp, clear, and absolutely mesmerizing, taking the reader to Cornwall and to Ebbington Manor itself.  This is definitely not a work to miss, and for those of you looking to be transported to a world full of rich characters, suspense, and an epic storyline, this is your book.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers (2013)
eBook 416 pages
ISBN: 9780764210693

2012 – A Year in Review

fireworksAnd with it being  January 1st, 2013 we can officially end 2012 and all its reading goals.  I’m very happy to say that I have succeeded in reading my 110 books for the year and exceeded that goal by a whopping 74 books!  With the success of this year I’ll up my reading goal again for 2013.  Keep an eye out for my annual New Year, New Challenges post for a breakdown of what I’m looking to accomplish.

2012 has definitely been a year of eclectic reading for me.  It’s difficult to pick my favorite books of the year since I read so many, but here is my best go:

  1. The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
  2. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
  3. Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander
  4. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  5. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
  7. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
  8. Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  9. In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener/The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
  10. Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Damn. That was difficult.

My reading challenges wrap up is as follows: I once again blew through the Historical Fiction challenge (woot woot!).  I also succeeded in my first year participating in the Around the Stack challenge!  Now for the bad parts. The TBR challenge and the Audio challenge both got only one completed review each out of me.  I know I failed the audio challenge because of 1Q84 (AH SO LONG), plus my addiction of reading newer books killed any hope I had of finishing the TBR challenge.  A 50% completion rate for the challenges isn’t terrible, but I’d still liked to have completed 100%.

Even though it’s 2013 I still have some books to review that I finished in 2012, so keep an eye out for them.  You can also see a listing of EVERYTHING I read this year, including review links, here.

Well, there you go folks.  My 2012 year in review.  Enjoy the rest of your New Year’s and join me again tomorrow as we kick off a new year and new challenges!

#9 A Review of The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Apothecary's DaughterA few months ago I stumbled upon Julie Klassen’s novel The Silent Governess.  I was entranced and completely mesmerized by the story, characters, and outstanding writing.  I said in my review that upon finishing the novel, “I immediately needed to add all of Julie Klassen’s other novels to my to-read list.”  As luck would have it Klassen’s publishing company, Bethany House, saw my review and graciously offered me the opportunity to review The Apothecary’s Daughter, which I now get to share with all of you!

Lillian Haswell is bored.  The daughter of the local apothecary, Lillian aims to get out into the world and learn new things that their small village can’t offer her.  To add to this anxiousness that Lillian feels, she is constantly nagged by rumors from the villagers over the mysterious disappearance of her mother, which her father refuses to discuss with her.  She is finally offered a measure of relief when an aunt offers to take Lillian to London to make her into a respectable woman that she can take out in to society.  Through this education and grooming, Lillian learns much about the world, including the affections of men and more clues about her mother’s case.  All this ends suddenly, however, as she is called back to the village to tend to her terminally sick father.  She is stuck with an immediate problem when she returns home to find the apothecary practically in ruin.  She has no source of income if the apothecary fails and must therefore act in her father’s stead, without the village knowing that a woman is running the shop.  To add to this, she has matters of the heart to deal with as well, as she is now a properly educated and worldly woman, and a few men have taken notice.  What will Lillian do with all these new problems?  Will she let her heart or her head guide her?

I had high expectations going into The Apothecary’s Daughter and I can gladly say they were all well met.  Klassen’s novels have fascinating characters, and this novel was chock full of them.  Lily, our heroine, is a woman with a stiff upper lip.  She’s unafraid to get her hands dirty to save her family and loved ones.  When the shop is failing due to her father’s sickness, she rolls up her sleeves and takes on the risks of running the shop as a woman.  While this is occurring, she is being actively pursued by three men: the mysterious rogue, the childhood friend, and the man who can elevate her in society.  Each has his own positive and negative characteristics and I spent a lot of the novel changing my mind over who I hoped she ended up with.  Besides the aforementioned four characters you have a wonderfully complex set of supporting characters.  Lily’s father is an enigma all on his own.  His life has been wrought with sadness, more than the reader realizes at first glance.  Unfortunately his son has mental difficulties, making it impossible for him to pass down the family apothecary business to him.  His daughter is absolutely perfect for the position, except for one small thing: she is a woman.  Women were not allowed to be apothecaries back in the day, and this therefore ends his family’s rich history in the business.  I could go on and on about all the characters, but suffice it to say they’re all multi-layered and written by an expert at character development.

Besides the richly described characters is an extremely creative and inventive plot.  The debate between who in the medical profession (apothecaries, doctors, or surgeons) should be responsible for diagnosing patients and giving out medicine and remedies was fascinating.  (This novel was definitely meticulously researched)  I learned a lot about old school medical practices and have to say it was eye-opening.  Besides all of the medical jargon, little mysteries cropped up throughout the entire novel which kept the plot moving at a great pace.  Some of these mysteries remained unsolved until the very ending of the novel, effectively keeping you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.  These plot twists, combined with Lily’s compelling story, and interesting characterizations made for an amazing novel.  I cannot recommend this novel and Julie Klassen enough!!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my sixth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Bethany House (2009)
Paperback 416 pages
ISBN: 9780764204807
Special thanks to Bethany House for sending me my review copy!

The January Round-Up

Staff Bloggers: Adam, Todd, Kim, and Charlie (L-R)

January has been an EXPLOSIVE month!  I’ve more than doubled the amount of books I read in January of 2010 (only 7), finishing up at a total of 15 for the month.  I’m pretty proud of my 15 considering I’ve had a fairly hectic month.  The bowling league that Todd and I are a part of started back up, taking over my Thursday evenings each week.  Charlie and I have been heading to the movies every Tuesday to take advantage of $5 movie night.  With Oscar season just around the corner we’re trying to catch up on everything we haven’t seen!  Todd and I also made a few trips to NYC this month, hitting up our favorite bookstore, The Strand, and getting to see Mary Poppins on Broadway.  Todd and I were also able to meet up with fellow Reflections of a Book Addict bloggers Adam and Charlie for a get together in Manhattan.  There were lots of other things going on this month, but those were the highlights!

The Apothecary's DaughterOn to the reading! I tried to keep it eclectic this month and read a variety of genres: paranormal, romance, historical fiction, mystery, and graphic novels.  I still owe you guys some reviews, so keep an eye on the blog.  The one I’m most looking forward to sharing with you is The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen.  My top read for the month was The Night Sky by Maria Sutton (I posted my review yesterday).

Great reads coming up on the horizon! Todd is currently reading the first book in The Vineart War trilogy, Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman, as well as Timeline by Michael Crichton.  Flesh and Fire is a fantasy novel, while Timeline is science fiction.  (Additionally, if you’re a fan of sci-fi/fantasy/magical novels, then may I suggest you sign up for Roof Beam Reader’s Magical March Challenge?)  Charlie’s got some great film reviews coming up, including one for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Carnal, a new graphic novel from Sea Lion Books, is on Adam’s plate for February, as well as a review of the film The Artist.  And me? Well, I’ve got a lot coming up for you! The Kitchen Daughter, Montfort, The Psychology of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo are just a few of the titles coming soon.

I hope that your own individual challenges are going well and that you’re finding some great titles!  Keep on reading my friends, and leave your recommendations below!

Happy Reading!!

New Year; New Challenges – Part Deux

January 1, 2012 = Official start of my next 100 book challenge!  After completing my 100 books for 2011 I’ve decided to up my personal goal to 110 books for 2012.  (What’s the fun in doing the same thing every year, right?)  You can check out my challenge page to see what specific challenges I’ve signed up for.  I’ve kept it small this year so that I can continue to be eclectic in my reading choices.

Top books I’m hoping to read this year are:

  1. Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke
  2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  3. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  4. Be Different by John Elder Robison
  5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  6. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  7. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  8. Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12) by Charlaine Harris

Kinda small list, I know, but if I were to list all of the books I’m excited to read this year we’d be here for a while!  If you want to recommend stuff for me to read check out my lists from 2010 and 2011 and let me know what you think I’ll like.

As always, I encourage you to try your own reading challenges! My biggest piece of advice is start small! There is nothing wrong with saying you want to read 10 books in a year!  Make a small goal, meet that goal, then up it!  Tell me about your own goals, and the books you’re excited about reading below.

Good luck, and happy reading!!