The Silent Governess (Book Review)

The Silent Governess (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you like slow-burn, clean regency romances with Christian undertones

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Silent Governess (DNF 50%)

By Julie Klassen

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

When a young woman in regency-era England is forced to flee home, where will she turn?

This is the second Julie Klassen book that I’ve DNFed since the beginning of the year. I tried listening to Castaway in Cornwall on audio first, and then I got bored at the 35 percent mark. I decided to start this one, and I find that I’m forcing myself to go back to the audiobook…I have no desire to continue, so I’m going to just stop.

I don’t know if it’s the audio format or if it’s just not the right time for a regency romance. The books aren’t bad, but I think they’re lacking the conflict and emotion that I’m craving right now.

There are times when a relatively sedate and buttoned-up story is just the ticket. But, that’s falling flat for me at the moment.

Not giving up on you, Jules! I’ll be back.

Content warnings: Nothing graphic, but there was one scene when a man made unwanted advances toward the protagonist, and she got away.

3.3
The Black Cauldron (Book Review)

The Black Cauldron (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you want to read a high fantasy rescue story filled with dramatic dilemmas

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Black Cauldron

By Lloyd Alexander

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

Everyone’s favorite assistant pig-keeper is off on another adventure, but this one will test him to the core.

Dilemmas. That’s why this book is so good. The characters are faced with one impossible choice after another until the very last chapter. My boys and I really enjoyed this second installment in the Prydain Chronicles.

The evil Arwan is gaining power. To stop him, Gwydion gathers a crew of loyal Prydainians to sneak into his fortress and steal the black cauldron—the wicked pot he uses to create undead warriors for his army. Naturally, everything goes wrong, and Taran must learn what it means to make hard choices—all by himself.

This book was better than the first one, and I think it’s worth reading the first book in order to experience this sequel more richly.

This is HIGH fantasy in the same vein as Tolkien. It’s hard to miss the parallels between LOTR and these books. But, these books are much shorter and accessible to a younger audience. My 7- and 8-year-olds wouldn’t be able to read them solo, but they can understand them perfectly well when I read aloud (and clarify some of the high-brow vocab). The books are written in a lofty, grand tone.

Again, this book was great because of the series of difficult choices that the characters faced. I felt like the plot was tight and economical. Overall, YES.

Content warnings: Nothing overly concerning. Several characters die, and one must sacrifice him/herself in one scenario.

4.9
Once a Queen (Book Review)

Once a Queen (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you, as a kid, hoped with all your heart that doors to other worlds actually existed.

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

Once a Queen

By Sarah Arthur

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

Secret Garden meets Narnia

After hearing Sarah MacKenzie from Read-Aloud Revival (I love her) interview the author, I was ready and rearin’ to love this book, and maybe my expectations were too high. I liked it but did not love it. Now, I do love the premise: There are portals to other worlds. They exist, just like in fairy tales. All we have to do is find them. That’s a common childhood fantasy, right? But the execution felt a tad off for me.

The protagonist is young Eva, an American who travels with her mom to visit her Grandmother in England for the first time ever. Soon, she realizes that her regal Grandmother was once a queen in fairyland.

Positives: Complex female relationships—whoooo-wheeee. Women. We can be weird. We don’t always treat each other right, and this book is packed with strong females who all seem to have fraught relationships with one another. This didn’t detract from the book at all and was one of the highlights for me.

Negatives: The writing wasn’t as immersive as I’d hoped. The pacing of the plot did drag a bit for me. I found myself wondering more than once, “Where is this going?” Eva was always finding clues and making little discoveries, but they all seemed a tad disjointed. I couldn’t see how the story was building to any sort of climax. The chapter-ending Ternival tales (fictional excerpts from a book of fairy tales) were a little hard to follow. It was a lot of new information to keep track of.

Thank you to NetGalley and WaterBrook for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Content warnings: I wouldn’t hesitate to let any teenager read this. There’s nothing graphically scary or violent, and there is a sweet romance but it’s very much a side note until the end, and even then, there’s just a hint.

3.5
Timmi Tobbson: Legend of the Star Runner (Book Review)

Timmi Tobbson: Legend of the Star Runner (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
you’ve got a clue-loving kid who can’t resist an interactive mystery

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

Legend of the Star Runner (Timmi Tobbson)

By J.I. Wagner
Translated by Tracy Phua
Illustrated by Cindy Foehlich

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

At the end of each short chapter, there’s a clue to solve that moves you a step closer to uncovering a mystery.

That made me curious enough to give this book a try with my 7- and 8-year-olds. They have short attention spans, so we read one to two chapters per day, and we had fun solving the little clues. Some were easy and satisfying, but others were tough enough to flex our mental muscles.

The story is written from the POV of Timmi Tobbson, average kid. He has two friends, Lilli and Marvin. One summer day, they realize they need to help save Lilli’s grandpa’s house from getting repo’ed. This leads them on a wild goose chase through many crazy locations in their historic town.

The fun thing about the clues is that you must look closely at the illustrations that appear at the end of each chapter, and those pictures give you clues to help you answer the accompanying “clue question.”

The concept of this book is just wonderful. The clues and illustrations are very well done. The writing and story elements were not quite as strong. We do have the second and third books in the series, so my boys will see how the series unfolds if they choose to read these independently. I won’t be continuing the series as a read-aloud.

3.3
Friday’s Child (Book Review)

Friday’s Child (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
Regency romances are your happy place, and you like the “fake relationship” trope

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

Friday’s Child

By Georgette Heyer

Character
Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

It’s a marriage of convenience, but…

…could it turn into true love?

This is my second Georgette Heyer novel, and I went into it blind. I enjoyed this old-timey Regency romance for the most part, although there was a saggy bit in the beginning-middle, which I pushed through, and I’m glad I did. This book illustrates the age-old truth: you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

The first few chapters race along because the setup is superfun: A rich, young, and hunky lord decides (on a whim) to marry a childhood friend of his. She’s young, like 16, and he’s not much older, like early 20s. They don’t love each other, but they’re chums. They’re marrying for convenience. The Viscount Sherry gets his full inheritance bestowed upon him when he marries, and our sweet young heroine (aptly named Hero) agrees to be his wife to avoid the woeful fate of becoming a governess.

After they get married, Hero proves that she has no idea how to be a proper lady, but Sherry can’t be bothered to teach her. They are both so young, and they just wanna have fu-un. Sherry is a bit of a wild boy, flirting and gaming. Hero is a fun-loving, ready-for-anything teenager.

The beginning-middle of the book shows Sherry having to clean up after Hero’s many social fumbles—taking the grownup role for the first time in his life. Hero realizes how much she loves Sherry, but Sherry is oblivious to this. Hero wonders if he regrets marrying her, and she never asks him, so she’s left to stress over it.

The book title probably comes from the traditional poem “Monday’s Child.” According to the poem, Friday’s child is “loving and giving,” and that is exactly what Hero is. She is not an Amazon or a Matriarch or any power-archetype. She’s entirely at Sherry’s mercy, yet, through her love and goodness, she saves him.

Sherry is not—ahem—politically correct, shall we say. This whole book, in fact, is delightfully incorrect in so many ways. Sherry is flawed. He doesn’t appreciate Hero and treats her like a possession. His nickname for her is “Kitten”—barf! Even after his transformation, he’s not exactly fighting for her right to be prime minister or anything like that. But he does teach her to drive, so there’s that.

3.6