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Stranje House #1

A School for Unusual Girls

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Welcome to Stranje House.

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 them 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…

352 pages, Hardcover

First published May 19, 2015

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About the author

Kathleen Baldwin

22 books865 followers
Get ready to fall in love with the heartwarming humorous novels of Kathleen Baldwin, a Wall Street Journal, #1 Barnes & Noble, and Amazon bestselling author. Delighting readers around the globe, her stories have been translated into several languages, and more than 650,000 books sold worldwide. Baldwin's unique plots even captured the attention of a Japanese publisher who adapted her Regency Romance, LADY FIASCO, into a manga.

#1 USA Today bestselling author Meg Cabot raves that Kathleen’s A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS is “completely original and totally engrossing.”
The New York Times Book Review called it “enticing from the first sentence.”

Kathleen’s love of adventure isn’t limited to her writing. She taught rock climbing in the Rockies, survival camped in the desert and in the snow, slept beside a mountain lion, and lost an argument with a rattlesnake. Later, she married her very own hero and raised four feisty children.

Kathleen is also an avid reader and adores the wit and humor of Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, and Jane Austen. Her eclectic reading interests range from Frank Herbert to Meg Cabot, and on to the incredibly imaginative tales of Diana Wynne Jones.

News and other fun stuff at: Website, Newsletter,Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
A School for Unusual Girls , was her first historical romance for Young Adults. It is a Junior Library Guild selection, and Texas Librarians gave it the 2016 Spirit of Texas reading program award. Publisher’s Lunch listed it in their 2015 Young Adult BookBuzz. Kansas State NEA Reading Circle gave it a starred review in their 2016 “Best of the Best” for High Schools. Scholastic licensed it for book fairs. The Stranje House series is currently under a renewed film option.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 759 reviews
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
September 8, 2016
Please allow me to re-post just to greet a friend a happy belated birthday.^^

To Aditi,

Color me surprised! This was a rather amazing read. It was quite baffling because the silliness and hilarity of the story reeled me in. The language of the book was really infectious and I relish the days I spent speaking this way but now I must stop and revert to my boring, normal language. Lol.

In my honest opinion, A School for Unusual Girls is a story written to mainly entertain the reader and I completely enjoyed how the novel seems like a deconstruction of historical fiction, fantasy, science-fiction and yes, fairy tale (love that twist where the supposedly damsel in distress isn’t a damsel but a lad). This is evident in the premise of the novel.

Georgie, a 16 year old girl whose head is always filled with calculations and formulas for her scientific experiments instead of balls, marriage, gowns and yes, ruffles, (*chuckles*) is sent by her parents to Stranje House, a house meant to discipline and reform unusual girls to become the proper ladies the society in the 1800s deemed appropriate and where Georgie meets several other girls who like her, have exceptional abilities.

As it turns out, Stranje House isn’t the school that people believed it to be and Georgie’s invention, a formula for invisible ink turns out to be of highest value in a period of great political conflict and this is where the (hawt) Lord Sebastian and consequently the romance (that turned me to mush) come in.

“I doubt any lover’s poem would have teased my ears more sweetly than our discussion of iron oxides and magnesium.”

How I picture Georgie:

The history and other elements tied with it fictionalized in the story along with the creation of a few stereotypical characters are meant to adorn the story, to serve as interesting and creative backdrop with which the reader could better enjoy the novel. The writing is completely enjoyable, very witty and hilarious. I know a writer is innately funny when he or she confidently manages to use “Agh” in her narrative and Ms. Kathleen Baldwin did exactly that and more. I particularly enjoyed her analogies and metaphors that kept me giggling or laughing out loud.

“My heart slid down into the vicinity of my toes. It felt as if I kicked the poor abused organ with every step I took.”

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series which I already have in my hands courtesy of the most generous author herself and yep, I’m bragging about winning another book (in hard cover)! Woooot!

Thank you so much, Ms. Kathleen Baldwin! You rock!^^

Do check out Aditi's brilliant review.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,703 followers
August 18, 2016
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

Georgiana Fitzwilliam (YES, just like Fitzwilliam Darcy) is an unusual girl.

She likes science. *shudders delicately* She also has red hair and freckles in a society that abhors both. But it's her love of experiments that is perceived to be the greater of evils . . . *whispers* Well bred young ladies DO NOT science.

And when her father's stable and a quarter of a neighboring orchard burns to ash as a direct result of one of said experiments, her parents have had enough.

They pack her up and dump her out at Stranje House, a boarding school rumored to employ such barbarous practices as TORTURE to transform the exceptional daughters of the upper classes into unexceptional, but infinitely more marriageable, ladies.

After touring the dungeon (at her father's behest), observing the rack (not currently in use), and witnessing two girls strapped into hideous contraptions (one of them a sarcophagus equipped with nails), Georgiana decides she'd rather run than be subjected to such mistreatment.

Instead of an exit, she discovers a hidden passageway, and upon further exploration, she overhears two men--GASP!--discussing the very experiment that got her sent to Stranje House, in the first place.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! *giggle snorts*

It means that things aren't as they appear, of course.

Except for the fact that her parents are wretched for leaving her in a place they believed to be as awful as Stranje House . . .

There’s no escaping that fact for poor Georgiana.

But Miss Stranje gives her an opportunity to do what she loves, to make a difference, to make a significant contribution to the world, and she grabs onto it with both hands.

And Georgiana isn't alone at Stranje House.

Among the other girls, only Lady Jane has a gift the can be construed as mundane (a flair for making estates profitable), while the others have . . . more unusual gifts. There's Tess, who has prophetic dreams and seems to understand animals, Sera, who sees the truth of things, and Maya, whose voice is strangely compelling.

But why is Miss Stranje collecting these outcasts of society? Why are such extreme measures being taken to ensure there will be no interference from their (despicable) relations?

Read it and find out. *winks*

A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS by Kathleen Baldwin . . . is utterly and delightfully . . . ridiculous. The next time you need a pretty bit of fluff to cleanse your palate, I highly recommend you give this one a try. If you're unsure, try the preview chapters. That's what I did, and I was hooked before I reached its end.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,332 followers
May 10, 2016
“And if we burn, you burn with us.”

----Suzanne Collins

Kathleen Baldwin, an American author, has penned a powerful and riveting historical regency-themed story in her book, A School for Unusual Girls that unfolds the story of a young rebellious and an exceptional girl who is a science-freak and loves to experiment with chemicals, irrespective of the polite girls in her society who are not allowed to meddle with chemicals, and that is when her parents decide to send her off to a boarding school, more like a correctional facility, so that she is transformed into a decent marriageable lady.


Welcome to Stranje House.

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 them 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.

Georgiana Fitzwilliam's parents send her off to a strict boarding school where under the thorough guidance of Miss Stranje, their daughter will hopefully transform into someone polite and soft-spoken marriageable young woman instead of being rouge and playing with chemicals unlike other young ladies of the high society they belong from. Unfortunately Georgiana has no intention of losing her dreams of experimenting with harmful chemicals and inventing things. And thus she runs, she runs through the dungeons until she meets two men among whom one of them asks her to invent an invisible ink. Whereas despite the rumors about Miss Stranje's unconventional methods to make the girls right, she allows Georgiana to experiment with chemicals, but she is quite discreet about it publicly. And why is that? What purpose does this invisible ink has to do with the falling government?

Well, this book is an extremely charming yet thrilling story that is set in the 19th century England where society's perspective matters a lot, and when Napoleon was at exile and the government is falling as the country is getting ready for the upcoming war. The author has vividly captured the timeline by incorporating the exact details of those era from the fashion to the society to the culture to the politics to the scandals to the war, to the country's topography to the geography, all has been strikingly painted by the author into the canvas of her story line. Ans yes definitely this books stands out to be a treat for all kinds of readers, especially the regency history lovers, as the author arrests the flair and the aura of the regency themed England into her book.

The author's writing style is extremely brilliant as it is layered with suspense, emotions and mind-blowing experiment. From the very first page itself, the story is arresting and will keep the readers engaged till the very last page. The author pens this story with lots of unexpected twists and turns that change the whole course of the story and as for the readers, it will keep them anticipating till the very end. The narrative and the dialogues are quite interesting and is inspired from the then era, especially the English flair is quite evident from it. The pacing is really fast as the story flows with mystery and with Georgiana's gripping adventure.

The characters of this book are drawn with realism and their honest and authentic demeanor will make the readers root for them till the very end. The story not only revolves around the primary character, Georgiana, but also revolves around the other girls in the Stranje House, like Lady Jane, Tess, Maya and Sera, each one having an unusual and strange quality that make them an outcast in this narrow minded society. Georgiana, unlike her age of girls, is brave, intelligent, highly rebellious and someone who fights for the truth no matter what. Georgiana's despair and her longingness to escape this boarding school is very strong in the first few chapters but after learning the truth behind her parents' idea to drop her off to a forgotten place breaks her heart and thus she evolves into some quite independent and bold. The supporting characters, especially the girls and Lord Sebastian are quite well-developed and will keep the readers glued till the very end.

There is a lot of romance in the book that is layered among the edgy and captivating story, where the country is at stake. The love between Lord Sebastian and Georgiana is projected with lots of passion, cuteness and heart-felt emotions that touch the hearts of the readers deeply.

In a nutshell this is a happening and a splendid story that certainly will keep the young as well as the older minds glued to the edges of their seats.

Verdict: If regency, romance, conspiracy and chemistry are your thing, then definitely read this intriguing book for sure.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Kathleen Baldwin, for giving em an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Soup.
289 reviews
February 7, 2015
ARC via NetGalley

What could have been a cool feminist alt-history adventure for YA audiences quickly became a pathetic and overwrought romance of the worst sort. The supposed heroine, Georgie, spends the vast majority of the novel lamenting her tragic existence which is burdened with being bright (despite being frankly pretty clueless), unattractive (she has red hair?!), and unlovable (actually I pretty much agreed with this point by the end). She takes the occasional break to assume the worst about everyone around her (often to extreme, Gothic-novel-esque degrees) and fall obsessively in love with a man who she has known for 42-hours and spoken with four times before they admit their mutual passion. Ugh. Genuinely disappointing.
Profile Image for Nan.
847 reviews76 followers
August 31, 2015
I received an advance copy of this book for review through Netgalley. Rarely have I ever so deeply regretted requesting a book.

The story itself does have some charm. Georgie is a frightfully intelligent (if also clueless) teenager. She gets into scrapes all the time where she tests a theory without properly considering all of the angles (such as when she made her own glider). After having caused a devastating fire with one her experiments, her family drops her off at the Stranje School for Unusual Girls. The scene where her family abandons her there is pure theatre--Georgie's parents are shown medieval torture devices with the implication that these devices are used on the girls to "educate" them. (Of course, that's not true.) Georgie runs off and gets lost in the building--and stumbles on two men discussing the need for invisible ink. By chance, Georgie was working on a formula for invisible ink when she burned the barn down. . .

As quickly becomes clear, the Stranje House is not what it seems, and neither are the girls inside. Each one has some sort of talent--for observation, for bonding with animals--something that makes it difficult for them to fit in with society. Here, they are able to learn the proper modes of behavior while also being useful in the fight against Napoleon. Yep, Napoleon. England's greatest spy resources are a group of underage girls.

I've read far more than my share of novels written during the Regency. I am very familiar with the racism of the time. Thomas De Quincey, in his "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" from 1822, describes a "Malay" that came to visit him as having "sallow and bilious skin," "small fierce restless eyes, thin lips, slavish gestures and adorations." The extreme focus on the man's appearance--as well as the terms De Quincey uses that express both a vague intrigue and disgust--are typical of the racism of the time. When a contemporary writer sets a novel in the past, she has a choice. She can choose to represent the racism of the time somewhat faithfully. Do do so usually triggers disgust in contemporary readers. She can have an "enlightened" character (and therefore one that is most definitely anachronistic) condemn the racism. She can ignore it and pretend that there was no racism.

Baldwin, unfortunately, takes a variation on the first option. The novel is told from Georgie's first person perspective, so her voice is narrating the story to us. Therefore, we're privileged to read her thoughts about one of the instructors at the school, Madame Cho. Unfortunately, Georgie is never called out on her racist thoughts, so they remain in the book, normalized by their very presence. Let me walk you through a few examples.

The first time Georgie meets Madame Cho, the reader is told "A small Oriental woman padded silently out of the shadows and whacked the mummy case [see comment above about torture devices] several times with a bamboo stick, setting off a sickening chime" (300*). First, people are Asian. Rugs and vases--objects, in other words--are Oriental. Second, the stereotype of her walking--how she "padded silently"--is also disturbing. It ties into images of Asian men and women as dangerous and untrustworthy--racist ideas that were present at the time. Later in the same page, we're told that Madame Cho "looked as crafty as a black cat" (305) and that she moved "swift as a thief" (308). Finally, we're told that she has a "lizard's" eyes (309).

Madame Cho is not the only person to be talked about in a racist fashion. One of the other students is an "exotic creature" named Maya Barrinton (581). She's a "half-caste" daughter of an Englishman and an Indian woman (587). Georgie wonders "How had [Maya] blended into the shadows so perfectly and moved with such quiet stealth? A delicate girl, with dark shining eyes, smooth whiskey-colored skin, she was draped in a swath of cinnamon brown fabric trimmed in filigreed saffron" (582). Later, the "musical quality of [Maya's] voice, or her gentle nature" convinces Georgie to follow the other girls in exploring the house (670).

Sadly, the way that Baldwin writes about Maya is actually more disturbing than the somewhat overt racism of her treatment of Madame Cho. The emphasis on Maya's beauty, on how exotic she is in comparison with these English girls, is yet another racist stereotype. Instead of being the sneaky Other, she's the entrancing, enchanting Other.

Both of these introductions occur fairly early in the text, so one might expect that Georgie would learn better throughout the narrative. Even if she's never confronted with her racism, she can learn to see both Maya and Madame Cho as individuals, can she not? Well, the answer to that seems to be "not". Consistently throughout the rest of the book, Madame Cho is referred to as the "old dragon" (619, 627, 1289, and 2730). She is also referred to as "Madame Dragon" (2286) and as a "sneaky fox" (650). Madame Cho "slithered" into rooms and stared at Georgie with "her cold lizard eyes" (1289-90). Maya remains consistently beautiful, exotic, and sweet.

It should be noted that Madame Cho does nothing to deserve to Georgie's spite. She is simply there. All of the quotes, above, are not dialogue. They are Georgie's mental narrative--the exposition of the book--literally, the words the character uses to describe woman to herself and to her readers.

Georgie herself is a deeply unpleasant character. She never listens to anyone around her. They warn her to take care to avoid haste and dangerous actions--and she does whatever she wants anyway. The romantic relationship is ridiculous in the extreme--the sort of insta-love one typically only sees in a paranormal novel, not in an arguably historical fiction.

I am deeply sorry that I requested this book. I read it from beginning to end, in the hopes that it would improve and that I would be able to leave a positive review. But I cannot.

I consider the book to be bad in both writing and characterization. But I consider it to be dangerous when it comes to race and racism. The casual racism of this text--especially since it is never confronted and recognized as such--is insidious and awful. Too many of our young people do not understand racism well enough to recognize it in this context. Instead, they might find it funny, laugh at "Madame Dragon," and not realize the ideas that they're internalizing.

I have never met Kathleen Baldwin. I do not mean to impugn her character in this review. I simply wish she--and her editors--had made better narrative choices. As it stands now, I do think I can recommend this book to anyone.

*All numbers refer to text locations in my Kindle advanced reader's edition. They have not been checked against the final draft, but the sheer number of them indicate that it's unlikely they will have been edited out.
Profile Image for Britt.
318 reviews81 followers
August 29, 2015
Read the full review at Please Feed the Bookworm http://pleasefeedthebookworm.commy review bugs

This book was highly enjoyable. One part historical fiction, one part espionage in training, it covered some of my very favorite topics. Like most tales this was one so relatable since it was laced with truth. The quick tempo allowed for me to hardly put it down! i love books that I breeze thru yet still really enjoy.

curious, red-headed Georgiana Fitzwilliam, a.k.a. Georgie, isn't living up to her parents sky high expectations of what a suitable young lady should act like. she is incredibly intelligent and like to tinker with scientific experiments, so after a horrible accident in which she caused a huge fire, Georgie is shipped off to the Stranje House. She will presumably be tortured into becoming a woman suitable for marriage. Little do her parents know that is not the plan for her at all.

I was immediately in love with all of the inhabitants of the Stranje house. The subtle supernatural elements made it so interesting to read. Also who doesn't love some good ol' fashion spy training?!? i loved the fact that these women were valued for being themselves and not who they could catch for marriage. The setting being the early 1800's we know this was far from the case as woman held little value in these aspects. The attention to detail was simply spectacular. i found myself googling different terms form the story so I could have the authors images in my mind. Mrs. Baldwin did an amazing job staying true to the era and it shows she put in some serious research which is always appreciated.

There was some romance but it was s low kindle which in my opinion is the best kind. Lord Sebastian Wyatt is charming and intelligent. The relationship between Georgie and Sebastian is my second favorite part of the story!

I think that if you enjoyed any books by Gail Carriger, you would definitely find this very appealing. I can't recommend it enough to any historical fiction fans who love some supernatural elements thrown into the mix!!

 This review was originally posted on Please Feed the Bookworm

Profile Image for Jenn.
31 reviews1 follower
June 18, 2015
If you think this sounds interesting, do yourself a favor and read Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger instead, it is far superior.
Profile Image for Linzi Day.
Author 3 books47 followers
February 28, 2015
This book is a very strange mix and I struggled to be sure about it's target market. It's apparently targeted at a teen and YA readership ... well they may be the correct age but it is both much too young and too old for them. It's also infuriating for the type of adult who, as I do, enjoys YA usually.

While it initially appears to be following in Gail Carriger's shoes (Finishing School) that series is witty, thought-provoking and challenging with a bright, well-balanced heroine. This one ... isn't.
I found myself taken back 30 years to my days of reading illicit Barbara Cartland's. The love interest in this book reminded me of so many of Miss Cartland's novels and Georgie's sheer dumb naivety would have fitted into many of those books.
Georgie's behaviour was completely at odds with her age (purportedly 16 years) we had hot and heavy petting in a nightgown ... in the Regency period - really? To her miraculous knowledge of chemistry, this knowledge was far superior to anyone else in the country apparently, as she could do what they couldn't. And yet, we are given no reason why this should be so.
Frankly it drove me crazy - even the historical details were dodgy. I will not be recommending it. I finished it because I got the ARC from Netgalley and I do always feel obliged to review those books - otherwise it would have been a DNF at 60%
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
August 19, 2016
16-year-old Georgiana Fitzwilliam is a hopeless case, at least as far as her parents are concerned. She’d far rather study chemistry and test the laws of physics than go to debutante balls and try to catch a husband -- an attitude which does not go over well in 1814 England. Just as Napoleon has been exiled from France, Georgiana is exiled to Stranje House, a school which promises to whip such incorrigible girls into a condition suitable for return to polite society. But of course the school is a lot more interesting than that …
What do you get when you mix a gothic novel, a Regency romance, and a superheroine comic? This book, which was a really fascinating and fun read.

The Gothic: Stranje House is a character in its own right, complete with torture devices in the basement (which Georgie’s parents don’t even blink at); so many secret passageways that no one can keep track of them all; a thick woods on three sides and an ocean on the other; awfully wolf-ish-looking dogs roaming the grounds; a dark and mysterious next door neighbor; and an equally mysterious headmistress and her aide. I so want to go wander its halls and stairways!

The Regency Romance: Also connected with Stranje House is handsome young Lord Sebastian Wyatt, who shares Georgiana’s passion for chemistry -- and the sparks fly between them, pretty literally, when he and Georgie are assigned to work together on a top-secret formula for the war. But the road to love is never smooth, as Lord Wyatt has a great many secrets of his own, and his future is not assured.

The Superheroine Comic: Four other girls also lodge at Stranje House, each with her own carefully honed talents. None of them are actually superpowers, but they can seem like it, as all the girls are experts at what they do, with the singular drive and determination of, say, Sherlock Holmes or an Olympic athlete, or both combined. The book is set in a somewhat alternate universe, which also gives just a bit of comic book feel since it can explore something other than exact history. (We really need a better term than “comic” for graphic series, but that’s a topic for another day.)

The Mix: All these elements worked really well together! I really liked the balance between Georgiana’s growing interest in Lord Wyatt, and her developing bonds with the other girls. They’re both portrayed as equally valuable and necessary. The empowerment of finding a place where one truly belongs, and how that place is made by one’s connections with other people, gave this book an emotional underpinning that made the stakes really matter and grounded the constant action.

Definitely recommended! Since there’s an excerpt at the back from the next book in the series, I know it changes POV to one of the other girls, and I’m very much on board for getting to know all five of these characters individually.

Go check out my friend Ading AJ’s review, as well -- by sheer coincidence, she finished this book on the same day I started it!

Profile Image for Olivia-Savannah .
713 reviews480 followers
November 21, 2017
A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin was a YA historical fiction novel I was curious to read as soon as I heard about it. The idea of a book about a group of girls in a school learning everything they would ever need to be a spy for the good of England? Now that had me intrigued from the start! I was quite happy to find everything I expected to be satisfied in reading the novel.

What I was very happy to find out about this novel was that it was historically accurate, as far as my own study of history could tell. If there was any inconsistency with a historical situation, I could tell it was clearly for the sake of the story (and the author mentions it in the author’s note at the end as well, to avoid any misleading situations.) It being set so far into history was a concern of mine because I usually read only as far back as the 1900s. But it worked well for this story and the setting and atmosphere was described in enough detail for it to contribute to the weaving of the plotline and story.

I really loved how feminist this novel was. I liked how it was about girls who were all outcasts from society for one reason or another and therefore were being taught to be stronger while also being able to blend in. These are the kind of girls who are interested in science, in deduction, in not shunning their intelligence like society tells them to for them to be domesticated. Yet at the same time, they are also learning those domesticated skills too. I think it sent a clear message that women can be more – they can be domesticated and enjoy cooking, but then enjoy the arts of science too. One thing about the feminism movement is that sometimes it comes across as women as needing to only pursue work, equality and because of this, women might have to neglect the domesticated life. But I know and those who really know feminism knows it’s about women being free to be either/or, or whatever they want. There shouldn’t be any limits because there aren’t any for men either. And those are themes that I really liked seeing stand out in this novel on multiple occasions.

All the characters in the book worked for me. I didn’t feel like any were underdeveloped, but there wasn’t too much of a deep connection for some of them – I get the impression that will come through more so in book two. But for what we did get to meet of the girls: Tess, Maya, Sera, Jane and Georgie, I did really like them. They were all very individual and original. They each had their own skills, and their own backstories of problems that they had with fitting in and how it affected them. I really appreciated getting to know those tales. On top of that, I also approved of how we had one of the girls coming from the Indian culture. It would’ve been rare to have an international mix when it came to historical fiction, but the author still manages to include a bit of diversity while staying true to the historical context. You’ve got to applaud her for that.

The writing style was perfect for the novel. Although it was simple and straightforward enough to read (I mean, this is YA after all), it still had an air of sophistication to it which complimented the historical period as the speech would have done. I could admire the combination of keeping it easy enough to read and yet suitable for the mood and atmosphere of the novel. Oh, and there was plenty of sarcasm and wit in this novel. Georgie and Lord Wyatt had some serious banter going on.

However, I did feel like the theme of love became a bit more prominent than I expected in the novel. I didn’t mind too much though, because it tied in with the storyline quite well. Of course, the added relationships between people tightened the tension and the stakes rose when it came to the drama in the story. But I wasn’t quite expecting love to have such an importance in the novel.

The novel needs a little patience too. I found the beginning to be a bit slow, but that was more so because the book needed a good set up for the rest of the story to be effective and make sense. If you don’t mind immersing yourself in the main characters for the beginning part of the book, then you’ll be able to enjoy it regardless.

The second half of the novel picks right up and I was surprised by how high the suspense got. A lot of turns and twists I wasn’t expecting suddenly happened and I was on a whirlwind of trying to turn the pages fast enough to keep up. I really loved the ending and I hope it is going to be a similar situation in book two! The girls really had to unite in order to save the day (if they manage it 😉 )

Relevance to today: I am only now realising I left this out of my previous review (still getting used to it!) But I think it’s pretty clear in this novel – the feminist feels are alive and kicking, and this book makes it quite clear on what it was like to be female in history, and how that needs to be changed in the present day as well.

This review and others can be found on Olivia's Catastrophe: http://oliviascatastrophe.com/2017/11...
Profile Image for Kirsty-Marie Jones.
409 reviews45 followers
May 12, 2015
Oh, A School for Unusual Girls, you were made for me, taking out the Regency England, which I've only read around four or five books, tops, of them. But, everything else. The characters. The romance. The humour. The cleverness. Basically, just all of it. It is similar to The Lovegrove Legacy series, although not in plot, but in what makes the book absolutely wonderful, not that it doesn't have its flaws, because it does, but it's that type of book that I don't even care because I adored it.

As you can tell, I loved and loved everything about A School for Unusual Girls, but the characters are what makes it so outstanding. There's a good mix of characters, Georgie, our main, is smart (when it comes to actual smarts, and not female society smarts) and she's a strong character, but she is insecure when it comes to looks (and how beautiful she actually is, which is your typical eye rolling trope, but it didn't bother me too much) and men, and that's mainly down to her mother, who is simply, a bitch. Sebastian's your typical broody, jerk of a male love interest, but there are two reasons for that. One being it's how he comes across because Georgie doesn't understand that he's flirting with her most of the time, and two, I can't tell you. Their banter and back and forth insults are hilarious, and okay, it was a bit insta-lovey at parts and the romance wasn't as slow burn as I usually like, but we had he will-they, wont-they teasing scenes and I'm a sucker for it and I just shipped them, okay? The other Stranje girls are fun and feisty, I just wished they were fleshed out more and that we got to know them properly, because they have a lot more to offer to the story, and it looks like each book in the series is going to be based on a character, so we will be. You know what a good story does with "evil" characters? Makes you hate them, and honestly, I got increasingly frustrated with them, so that worked.

My main issue with A School for Unusual Girls was, it took me a good 50 pages to get into it, and the plot didn't really play into the story until well over halfway. I was expecting more from the school and outside of it, especially on the espionage front and while the war was always present in the background, and the carrying on with the scientific experiment was to get an upper hand, I thought it would feel more...well, present as I thought it would be throughout the first half. Until...

The second half.

That seamlessly wove in everything I wanted of it, between the political drama, the espionage from the girls, and where the alternate history takes it's turn, and if you're like me and have a hard time with a slower paced beginning, read through it, because I promise you, good things await you.

Full of banter, wit and sneakiness, a romance that's so damn cute, and a balance in humor, if you love Alyxandra Harvey's The Lovegrove Legacy Series, you'll love A School for Unusual Girls.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
945 reviews38 followers
September 17, 2015
As with almost all other Historical Fiction, A School for Unusual Girls is a book where you either love it or you don't. There is no in between. I have recently found a love for Historical Fiction but I have come across a few books that I did not like one bit. Luckily, I loved this book.

Georgiana was perfect. She was smart and funny and didn't let things like ballgowns and gossip change her. I loved that she didn't let society define her. She knew the things she enjoyed weren't normal for a young woman but she did them anyway. She didn't let herself believe that she would ever be loved or sought after which was a little sad. Everyone deserves to be loved.

Sebastian was a tough case at first. I could tell he felt some attraction towards Georgiana but the way she talked about herself made it seem like she was this hideous ogre that no man could ever find attractive. He teased her and was a complete jackwagon for most of the book but no matter what time period it is you can always tell that is how a guy treats a girl he likes.

The other girls in the book were so awesome. The different personalities and things they could do were pretty extraordinary and that is what led to them being put in Stranje House. One of my favorite things about the girls would have to be the rat thing. I know many people have rats as pets but I could never picture them being the way they were in the book. It was actually kind of cute.

The School was meant to be this scary torturous place and that was definitely what I was expecting but that IS NOT what I got. Miss Stranje was not what I expected her to be at all. She was described as some sort of mistress of pain. Not that I didn't enjoy what really happened but I would love to read a book where the synopsis played out exactly as it sounded like it would for this book.

The entire book takes place during the war in Europe. Georgiana lost someone very dear to her in the war and ever since she has been trying to come up with this special 'weapon' that can be used to make sure no one else dies the same way, or at least that is what she hopes for. She has to perfect this 'weapon' ASAP and hundreds of lives depend on it.

I cannot wait for the next book! I need to know what happens. I know this is such a vague review but I do not want to spoil any of it. It is so amazing and you can never really guess whats going on.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Morgan.
1,681 reviews74 followers
July 21, 2015
I see a lot of "this is NOT what I expected" reviews from other reviewers, and I just feel compelled to mention that it was exactly what I expected it to be.

Of course I have the small advantage of having read one of Kathleen Baldwin's regular historical romances recently.

It's not the Finishing School series. It's also not meant to be, although they do share some similarities.

Georgiana is dragged off to a reformatory finishing school by her parents after one of her scientific experiments sets fire to her father's stables as well as the neighbors orchard. Oops. She's a very smart, scientifically minded girl and will rush into testing hypotheses before she's fully thought out the potential consequences. Her parents and two surviving older brothers are pretty atrocious, but her youngest brother had been good to her and his death is what drove her to attempt to create an invisible ink that cannot be detected through the application of heat.

Once she's at Stranje House and over the initial shock, she very slowly comes to the realization that it's not the sort of reformatory finishing school that it has the reputation of being. Nor the one that was presented to her and her parents upon their arrival.

Her mother has spent Georgie's whole life telling her that she's not beautiful, putting her into the wrong clothing, and just doing everything to crush her soul and hopes while lamenting how she'll never make a good marriage and just is terrible at everything. She's a real peach.

The girls she meets at Stranje House help her see beyond her mother's perception that she'd adopted for her own.

Yes, there is romance.

Yes, it comes on a little quickly, but in a way circumstances sort of lead to that.

It's interesting to see the twist to history that she puts on things, and I can't wait to see what happens next with Georgie, Jane, Tess, Maya, and Sera.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,937 reviews1,547 followers
December 29, 2016
At a little over 20%, I still have no idea why I'd want to read this story. The protagonist, Georgie, is supposedly smart, but she has yet to do anything that wasn't either emotional, haphazard, or outright dumb. But the thing that bothered me enough to finally put it down is that it has been nothing but a string of random events that aren't tied together by anything resembling a story. I finally lost interest when she dropped down a trapdoor while fleeing(!) in a hidden passage, in the dark, and fell into the sea (because of course someone will build one of those into their hidden passages!). Good thing she can swim (because all Regency era girls raised in Middlesex learn to swim, right?). And then she decided it was an excellent idea to take a nearby rowboat out to sea to "get away" (because she's apparently a sailor or something?). Only then she dashes the boat on a rocky shore (nope, not a sailor), knocks her head, and wakes up with a couple dogs protecting her . . . I'll stop there, but it gets even more ridiculous.

A mysterious estate with a handful of mysterious girls talking about mysterious things and implications of the supernatural is certainly mysterious, I suppose. But I can't help feeling like I'm listening to that one aunt who wants to be interesting so she layers on the adverbs and talks in hushed tones while telling a story that fails to ever get to a point. I liked the idea of the cover copy. But I'm a fifth of the way through and we're not even past the first night and it has all been overwrought nonsense with a heavy dose of random. I had hopes. They were dashed (into a cold sea where they tried to escape in a rowboat and got smashed up on shore...)
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,172 reviews1,306 followers
March 6, 2021
Full Review on The Candid Cover

Set in 1814, A School for Unusual Girls is a very elegant book. It contains a fearless main character with a quirky personality and a mysterious boarding school that isn’t what it seems. This book is so exciting and contains so many plot twists that readers will be unable to set the one down!

A School for Unusual Girls is set in 1814 in England and partially in France. All of the historical details in this book seem to be accurate and it is evident that Kathleen Baldwin has done some extensive research while writing this book. The setting and the fashion of the time period is so magnificently depicted by Baldwin. The language used by the characters is also very dignified, which gives a very authentic tone to the story. As readers become engaged in this novel, they will easily be swept into 1814 England.

Georgiana (or Georgie) is a really amazing narrator for A School for Unusual Girls, as she is very clever and brave. An enjoyable aspect of her character is how Georgie is not afraid to break the stereotype in that time period. Instead of behaving like the other women and doing chores, Georgie is off conducting science experiments. Her fiery personality is complete with a quirky voice and red hair. Georgie is essentially a misfit in her time period! She is both extremely relatable and enjoyable to read.

In addition to its historical fiction genre, A School for Unusual Girls is also a fast-paced spy novel. Reminiscent of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, that is set in a boarding school that is secretly a school for spies, A School for Unusual Girls seems to be a spy training school. There is never an admission of this in the book, but it is certainly implied through the activities and the description of the building. Also, all of the girls who attend the school have an unusual talent of some sort. These details create a novel that is very unique and will surely leave the reader wanting more.

A School for Unusual Girls is the first book in the Stranje House series. Its elaborate setting, well-developed characters and exciting plot make for a whirlwind read. This is one series not to be missed!
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
July 28, 2016
3.5 stars

I’ve been eagerly anticipating A School for Unusual Girls ever since I saw that cover and the Meg Cabot blurb. Everything about it screamed Christina-catnip, and the cover did not lie. A School for Unusual Girls was a delight from start to finish. If you like historical fiction about brilliant young ladies and their ships, then this, my friends, is for you.

You can count on me to be one hundred percent pro historical fiction about incredibly smart girls training for work as spies. Like, yes, hello, please and thank you. Georgiana’s taken by her parents to Stranje house, meant to be a house of torture to turn problematic young ladies into dull, marriageable prospects. Instead, it turns out to be a safe haven for smart girls.

Baldwin does a wonderful job with the writing and the setting. I really love the historical underpinnings in A School for Unusual Girls, and the way Baldwin does a thoughtful “what if” sidestep at the end. I’m so excited to see where things go in Exile for Dreamers. The one thing I wasn’t so sure about was the diversity. Maya, the Indian girl, has a lot of potential but very much fades into the background in this book. More problematic is Madame Cho, who so far plays into some Asian stereotypes and is described as “oriental” several times. She, too, is solely background at this point.

There are two cute ships so far, and I anticipate more for some of the other girls as the series continues. Both ships are antagonistic to start, which YAS. There’s an excellent angry kiss for one of them. I’m quite pleased with how the romance is rolling out.

I’d recommend A School for Unusual Girls to readers who loved The Dark Days Club or The Dark Unwinding.
Profile Image for Once.
2,344 reviews70 followers
March 5, 2016
A story based in 1814 about girls whose parents think they are unruly and not proper enough to be married. In 1814 this was a disgrace for these parents. The story follows Georgiana as her parents take her to a school they think to be, basically, a torture chamber to straighten out their daughter. Little do they know that this school is only enhancing Georgie's unruly behavior.

Usually I stay away from Historical Fiction. I tend to not be able to get into the story as much because I feel like I'm taken out of a different time, I'm more comfortable in the here and now or in the future. But boy did I plow through this book. I really enjoyed it, and believe me, I cannot wait for the sequels.

Georgie was a fantastic character. She was exactly how I was at 16, except I wasn't fantastic at math and science. But the behavior parts, it was me to a T. Her relationship with Sebastian as well. As it starts, it's rocky. But you automatically know you are to like him. Lord Wyatt, is his proper name, and he challenges Georgie, and at the same time is falling in love with her. While the romance isn't the main focal point of the story it was good enough to wrench on my heart strings. Oh boy, never have I cried in such a way for a book's love story. I didn't full on The Fault In Our Stars cry, but I had tears in my eyes at least twice over their love story.

Honestly, this book has taught me that sometimes I need to pick up books that I don't usually read. I was apprehensive to read this book because I was worried that it would be dull and boring for me. But from the start it was captivating. When she got to the school I almost felt like Miss Stranje was Professor X and she was housing mutants. But really she's just housing brilliant young girls!

165 reviews5 followers
December 17, 2015
I don't give out 5 stars very often, but I adored this book. It's Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series meets Jane Austen era Regency Romance. The girls were smart and cunning and used their outsider status to the benefit of King and Country (and themselves!). And what romantic wouldn't adore Sebastian?

I was provided a copy of the ARC for this book from NetGalley. I cannot wait for the next book in the series to come out.
July 16, 2015
3.65 stars! Mini review--dead tired, proper one tomorrow.

Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Hmph for someone who began this book with way too many expectations then disappointment at the beginning then excitment towards the end I surprise myself in realising right at the end of the book that I really want more.

I had a lot of issues with this book which I'm going to bring down to pacing for the moment and also maintaining a regency-formal historical feel to the story as well as having a writing style that flows and feels natural to a more modern audience. Pacing sucked. It's why I was so bored to begin with but then it got really good when it picked up but then it slowed and I felt like I was seeing too much of one scene and enough of others.

As for writing--I did cringe as I got used to this hybrid style. I call it that because it obviously reads nothing like a historical and if it weren't for costume and various thrown in pieces of slang, it might as well have been a contemporary.

I will admit I did secretly smile at the cuteness of the romances here and there. Sebastian totally grew on me and I did not really think he was much of a cardboard cut out by the end. The last scene of him is my favourite though.

Another con for the moment (I have way more but later when I wake plus I don't want to spoil it too much) is that there is some sort of paranormal aspect thrown into this which was a bit strange and not really explained or covered and it bothered me a lot! I mean other than the historical and sorta like spy/hero girl group going on but that too? I think it may have been overkill still I would like to see how and where it goes.

More review later--damn phone and ignore my typos (currently irritated with sucky touch keyboards that make me lazy and annoyed with going back to spell check! >.<)


The Plot was actually really interesting. If it weren't so slow or lacking in detail at the start then it might have been even more interesting than what it became towards the end. Firstly, this story is centred around Georgiana Fitzwilliam's exile to Stranje House a boarding school for the girls who jsut simply can't fit into society. For Georgiana it was because she was too much of a bluestocking with a love for knowing things. She asks too many questions, and set her uncle's stables on fire with one of her experiments. Sent to Stranje House, she finds out it's not your ordinary school, and rather than being discouraged in her pleasures, she's encouraged to keep experimenting! With the current political atmosphere unstable, Napoleon recently exiled, Britain still at war, and Europe in pieces, Georgiana is walking into a world she would never have expected to walk into when she first blew up her uncle's stables (well set fire).

The problem with the plot is, and it actually becomes more clear to me towards the end, is that this book suffers from first book syndrome where it must set the scene for the rest of the books in the series. I can tell, the next book will probably have more action (I'm really hoping!) than this book since the end of this ended with a high. The beginning was slow because it was centred around Georgiana and her experiments, and I never got a really good sympathetic feeling for Georgiana so coupled with other things, it made it hard to love. However, once the action got going I got really sucked into the story.

Oh the aspect abut espionage (I love spy books!) doesn't really show up in this book, maybe in the next? Though you get a glimpse of it, and it's more on Sebastian's part than Georgiana's.

Georgiana Fitzwilliam....I could have almost sworn you're from Pride and Prejudice lol. I liked her character but only when it came to her and scientific experiments. I didn't like her when she was confused over Sebastian--it seemed too lust based than anything else and it jarred a bit. BUT then halfway through the book, something shifts in me, and I do like their little romance. So maybe the boring was just really boring that's why I disliked everything or maybe I was just not in the mood. Anywhoo, I liked that she was also science orientated compared to other female heroines who are mostly literary orientated.

Sebastian, Lord Wyatt...I liked him from the start. But it wasn't until later that I felt he wasn't just a cardboard cut out. I love the last scene with him. (I know I said this up there, earlier, but I'm repeating it!)

Tess....she was cool, I liked her personality, disliked the other part about her. The paranormal or heightened intuitive part that isn't really explained in this book and of which I felt was completely unnecessary! Then again, I was so confused about that, yet there were so many sections where I couldn't overlook it and say that "Tess and the other girls aren't special in that way, it's more intuitive than actual paranormal abilities"....so I'm waiting for clarification on that if I'll ever get that. Maybe I was so bored in the beginning I overlooked an explanation, but seriously, that's the one part I disliked the most about this book.

Other characters, there's little I can say about them now. Don't know what to think of them really.

Regency England (my favourite period!) and also a bit in France.

Writing Style , something I don't really pick on and yes I would like to blame the face that this was an ebook and it affected the way I felt about everything, but no. It's not that Baldwin's writing sucks. It's probably that I've never read her work before and am not used to her style of historical writing. I only got used to it when the action kicked in. If it weren't for hat, I might have still been annoyed by the writing. Meshing historical language with something modern to make it feel easy to read isn't always an easy feat. You write more formal to sound more old. But Baldwin skips that. She writes in the first pov so there's a lot of 'I' when I'm used to regency historicals written in either epistolary style or third/objective pov style. In a way it makes sense the style of her writing, but it felt awkward, like the thoughts in Georgiana's head were very simple and modern-like, nothing intricate or overly formal and dense, yet when she spoke and bantered with other characters, there was too much forced slang that felt unwieldy and unnatural. That's what I thought. I could just as easily say it's been a while since I read a historical in this time period, but still, I can't deny that in the beginning when things seemed really boring to me, it was just one more annoying factor to deal with.

Overall I did love the end of this book, and I can't wait to read the next one (though yeah I know I gotta wait ages!) but it has a slow beginning (for me anyway) and unless you can deal with slow beginnings, well, I don't know if I'd recommend it as a suggestive read to you. OH boy, I just realised this isn't much of a great review at all....

Profile Image for snowplum.
161 reviews27 followers
June 8, 2015
I received an ARC copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review, which you see here.


It's no surprise that this series is being positioned as the successor to Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassins Trilogy. A number of the essential characteristics are the same -- young women from another time (in this case Napoleonic Era Europe as opposed to medieval Brittania) get involved in politics and international intrigue, with at least a little hint of mysticism. It's got the same sort of modern girl power YA vibe despite the historical setting, and both series are clearly a bit more intelligent and sophisticated than the bulk of the historical YA pack. Georgie is an accomplished chemist, and her dedication to finding a way to use science and math to bring purpose to her life is admirable and engaging. Neither the book nor its main character are so overwhelmingly intellectual as to alienate many casual readers, but Georgie's values and talents are unique and meaningful enough to make her noteworthy as a character.

I will warn you, however, that if your favorite thing about His Fair Assassins is the magic/mysticism, that seems to be a seed planted in this book, but it is not the focus of the story in this volume. We are introduced to characters other than Georgie who seem to have visions or uncanny affinities with animals, and one who may be some sort of Siren; but Georgie herself is a very smart, non-magical girl. It seems that future volumes may go in a more mystical direction, but don't go into this book expecting it to begin where Mortal Heart left off.

I've also seen this series compared to Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, and I think that comparison is slightly less apt. Carriger is going for humor consistently throughout her story, and Baldwin isn't. This is obviously just a matter of taste, but in this regard, I actually prefer Baldwin's writing. I appreciated Carriger's work at first, but pretty soon I felt like she was just going for the exact same joke over and over, and I didn't keep laughing. Baldwin is telling a straightforward romantic adventure, and succeeds admirably at it.

Plot is Baldwin's strength, but I found her prose to be a pleasant element to the book, as well. She seems to be a writer with an instinct for rhythm and cadence, so the book flows along nicely, with just enough style to feel like it's really a novel instead of a plot being relayed to you in a workmanlike manner. Once the main plot is set into motion, the book moves briskly and you certainly won't be bored. The romantic element is inconsistent throughout the book. For a little while in the middle, you seem to be in a more traditional romance, but Georgie spends most of the book in scenes without Sebastian, and while they end the book clearly emotionally invested in each other, they will be separated by an ocean into the foreseeable future. So this is not your basic romance, by any means.

Here's where I might be less than enthusiastic about A School for Unusual Girls:

Early on, I got a little bit exasperated with this book because I felt like Baldwin was a bit heavy handed with the "Georgie is a misfit and she's going to have to come to terms with the idea that no one from her old life could accept her because she's a strong woman if she wants to move on to a life where different people can love and accept her" theme. I understand this is supposed to map onto a modern girl's anxiety about being different and the agonies of being beaten down by peers who resent or fear ambition and uniqueness, but that's a pretty common trope in YA at this point. Crack any YA novel and you've got better than a 50% chance of finding the same message. Which doesn't make it any less of an important message -- it just makes it one that a more sophisticated book can establish as background, and then move on. I feel like Baldwin was trying to do this -- establish the background and then tell a story moving on -- but she didn't find an ideal way to allude to the background we can already anticipate. I didn't need nearly as much material about Georgie feeling lost and unloved and abandoned and sad as I got. I will say, though, continuing the comparison with His Fair Assassins, that you get a lot of that about Ismae at the beginning of the first book, but it ends up serving as the background for the whole series -- we don't revisit 60 or 100 pages of the exact same background for the other girls in the other books. If Baldwin were to move forward with 5 volumes in this series (one each for Tess and Maya and Sera and Jane, I'm guessing) and not take quite so long to talk about each of them being miserable before finding her place at Miss Stranje's school, then I would say that the beginning of this book isn't quite so objectionable, and the series as a whole might get stronger just as His Fair Assassins did -- by the end, becoming a really great series, indeed.

Just for the sake of discussion (if anyone feels chatty), I'm not sure how I feel about the main villain in this series -- Lady Daneska. At times she veers into cliche territory -- she's a beautiful, apparently amoral vamp who hates other women and seems to be motivated by some combination of her own greed, lust, and jealousy. On the one hand, I think it makes sense from a plotting standpoint to have a young female antagonist if you have a young female protagonist -- it makes for a nicely balanced story, and it shows that young women can be powerful in a variety of ways. You also minimize the disturbing undertones of grown men victimizing and brutalizing young women, which can obviously happen in reality once the young women become spies and get involved in wars, but which threatens to overwhelm the rest of the story if it happens in a book that was supposed to be a relatively light and enjoyable romantic adventure. On the other hand, I don't think there's quite enough to distinguish Daneska if Baldwin wants her to be an interesting person in her own right. At present, she seems more like a Disney villain (as broadly drawn as, say, Cruella DeVille) than one you'll mull over or love to hate in some more interesting way. I really hope she gets to become more complex in the future -- not just someone who has to repent and be redeemed to send a positive message of Girl Power, or someone who has to be vanquished because she's a slut or a woman-hater and that is Bad.

I would give this book a gently positive endorsement if you like historical YA and adventurous heroines, and particularly if you liked His Fair Assassins. I'm looking forward to seeing whether the series goes in a more mystical direction. I especially want to hear about the girl with the gift with animals and the one whose voice may have magical powers.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,998 reviews1,480 followers
July 1, 2015
Georgiana Fitzwilliam's parents are banishing her to Miss Stranje's school for unusual girls all for the little matter of burning her father's stables and half the neighbor's orchard. Georgie resists the banishment, arguing she was only trying to find a formula for invisible ink in hopes of saving the lives of soldiers. It's too late to save her older brother Robbie but if she can prevent more families from experiencing that pain, she will. Unfortunately for Georgie, the fire was the latest in a long list of unusual accomplishments and her parents are only too glad to be rid of her. Georgie is terrified of Miss Stranje and her torture chamber of horrors. Attempting to run away brings her face to face with the bold and teasing Sebastian, Lord Wyatt who makes her blood boil in more ways than one. Soon Georgie discovers all is not what it seems and she must trust in her own abilities and work with Sebastian or the world will be plunged into chaos in Napoleon's wake.

This book is sort of a fantasy/speculative hybrid. It's an alternate world where one split second decision can change the course of world history. It's not so much a gothic fantasy as it sounds but there are fantasy elements. That's really my only big complaint about the novel is that there's not enough explanation. Who is Miss Stranje? What exactly is her school and who are the other girls? There's very little characterization of the secondary characters - they'll get their own books, but there should have been more. What are Tess' nightmares and why are they taken for fact? What is her unusual affinity for animals? Why does Maya blend in and what is so special about her voice? Is it paranormal or just something natural? That isn't explained. The exposition goes on a bit too long. I knew there had to be a villain working for Napoleon because there always is. That person appears a little late in the story and the showdown comes much later than it should have. Too much time is spend on Georgie's experiments. I don't have a scientific brain so maybe it was just that all that was lost on me. The romantic plot/s were typical of the YA genre. I believe the author must love Anne of Green Gables because Georgie has red hair and a bit of a temper and Sebastian likes to tease and flirt much like Gilbert. Yes the romance is rather unbelievable but it's common for YA stories and I liked it though I was MORE interested in the adult romance - what's the story there?!

Georgie is a prickly character, a lot like Triss in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series. Red hair + hot temper + brains = prickly heroine. I don't mind because I can relate to that sort of heroine better than one like Lady Jane or Myra who are very nice. Georgie has a lot of weight carried on her shoulders and she likes to wallow in self pity but I see a young woman in a time of great change coming into her own and learning how to value her own abilities and how to trust others to help her make decisions. She's certainly very intelligent, which I value highly. Sebastian is brooding one minute and teasing the next. He's a typical selfless YA hero who wants to fall on his sword instead of falling in love. He's a curious character with a tough backstory that's shaped him. He wants to be noble but he's only human and can't help his feelings. I love that he is not the hero of the story.

My favorite secondary character is Tess. She's also prickly like Georgie but tough. She's used to being rejected and it hurts but she's comfortable in her own skin. She has some mysterious stuff going on and a seriously intense love/hate relationship. Her sparring partner is also a favorite character but he's not a likeable one. He's actually a jerk to Tess and awkward around women. I'm sure he will get more backstory in the next book because I found him intriguing for his faults. Miss Stranje is strange indeed and if I knew more about her, I would really like her. I like what I know about her anyway and commend her for what she does. The villain is a little cardboard. The villain has a backstory but I wanted a bit more to add more depth to their plot. This isn't a book where you guess who the villain is going to be. The characters know from the outset but there's not much to go on except a few facts.

This is a fun book for YA fans and Georgie's exposition plot shows newcomers to the Regency era what a young lady should and should not be like. There's a sneak peak of the next book and I want to read it NOW!
Profile Image for Angie Elle.
864 reviews101 followers
May 11, 2016
Thank you to MACMILLAN-TOR/FORGE and Netgalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

A School for Unusual Girls was such a fun story. As Britain is at war, a band of young women are recruited to utilize their special talents to help save king and country. I have to admit that this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting something a lot darker and serious. While it was those things, the humor and romance laced throughout the story gave it a lighter feel.

Georgiana’s antics finally push her parents over the edge and make them realize they aren’t ready to loose her on society. Instead, they ship her to Stranje House, an establishment renowned for turning stubborn young women into proper young ladies. Georgie only has to step foot through the door to realize all is not as it seems. I really liked Georgie’s character. She was resourceful, though it rarely panned out for her because she was also a fly by the seat of her pants gal and didn’t always see the end picture. She really grew throughout the story, though, and while she was still clever, she realized how much was at stake and started thinking about the consequences of her actions.

This story was full of secondary characters, from the other gals at the school and their headmistress, to the men who were doing everything they could to keep their country safe. They were all interesting characters, and each of the girls had a special gift or excelled at something useful to Britain.

The plot of this story was very interesting. I like the idea of the girls being thrown together – a bunch of misfits who find a place to belong when they’re together – and their wiliness being fostered in a time when women’s ideas were rarely given a second thought. The pacing may have been a bit off at times, but with all books that launch a series, there’s a lot of information to be conveyed, and that can sometimes slow things down. It wasn’t enough to hinder my enjoyment of the book, though. Things do build up at the end, and I thought the main event was written well, and it really highlighted how much Georgie had matured as a character. There was an air of mystery as the girls refused to answer most of Georgiana’s questions. It was frustrating at first, but as the story moves on and you realize that these girls are placing their lives in each other’s hands, it’s clear there needs to be some trust before things are revealed. I really enjoyed the romance between Georgie and Sebastian, one of the men living on the school grounds who was helping her develop her talent. Though the attraction was instant, their romance developed throughout the book and didn’t overwhelm the story.

I do wish that the blurb hadn’t given away so much of the plot. Had I not known that Georgiana was being recruited for her abilities as opposed to being sent away for her oddities, there could have been a nice surprise factor for the reader. Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable, entertaining story, and I am excited to read the next one in the series!

This review was originally posted at Badass Book Reviews.
Profile Image for Sarah (thegirltheycalljones).
417 reviews284 followers
October 22, 2016
I'm not gonna rate this one because even though I'm DNFing it (around 30%), I'm sure it's not a bad book.
I only had the feeling it was very teenish and intended for a much younger audience than the usual YA, and therefore not what I wanted to read at the moment.

All the mysteries surrounding our MC Georgiana, her presence in this weird school along with the questions, anxieties and dread she has about the situation are handled in a very unsubtle way. And by this, I mean there's very little mystery even if we're supposed to discover everything at the same time as Georgiana. A lot of things are quite obvious but reading about Georgiana still not getting it while you already guessed (right) what would come next gets annoying pretty quickly.
All her "I don't understand" and "it can't be that, can it?" were tiresome.

There seemed to be some start of - appreciable - girl friendships but it felt like reading The Famous Five and as I said, I was not in the mood for Very Young Adult.

Also :

"I didn't give him the satisfaction of turning around. What's more I had no desire to see the cocky smirk on his face. For that matter, I never wanted to see him or his shockingly blue eyes again."

NO. No more "cocky smirk" or "shockingly blue eyes", please. When it comes to Sebastian (the future Love Interest), it's the good ol' descriptions again.
Profile Image for Clare O'Beara.
Author 21 books335 followers
February 24, 2016
This amusing tale posits that inventive or resourceful English girls are packed off to a school to learn to be spies. The period is the Napoleonic Wars and society does not approve of girls making wise remarks, experimenting with chemicals or having outrageous adventures. So the school is seen as a corrective school by their parents but the girls actually further their experiments and train in lock picking and so on.

The start is rather vague in that the new girl Georgiana is our heroine and she spends a lot of time running around the strange school, running away a few times down peculiar dirty rat-infested corridors - what are the kitchens like? and fainting. She faints three times by the end of Chapter Seven. This could have been managed better especially as she has already survived fire and a fall. The other girls could have come clean sooner as to the nature of the lessons.

I liked that one of the girls is half-Indian and we also get a decent young man called Sebastian to work with the misses. Once we get some understanding of the school matters improve and we see good action, warnings about inhaling chemical fumes and a real adventure in France at the end.

I'm hoping the fun series will continue and we'll swing straight into action next time.

Profile Image for Cheryl.
137 reviews2 followers
February 1, 2016
This book was made for me! I love everything about England and the Regency era. It had it all. Humor, intrigue, love, romance...everything!!

Georgie is the main character and she is a really smart girl, except when it comes to anything social ( which is so important for women in Regency England). So her parents send her to Ms. Stranje's School for Unusal Girls. Her parents hope that this school will whip her into the proper society women she is supposed to be so she can get married. But this school is not what it seems. All the girls at the school have special "talents" that Ms. Stanje intends to cultivate.

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to see how it continues.
Profile Image for Jes Drew.
Author 51 books444 followers
January 24, 2018
This is one of the most compelling books I've read in a long time. I absolute loved Georgiana Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice anyone?) who was both feisty and realistically insecure. Sebastian was the best, just the right mix of... everything! And I loved the other students too. I can't wait to read their stories because this one was the perfect mix of historical accuracy and steam punk with a touch of Gothic horror. It reminded me of a Regency Gallagher Girls. Anyway, it was really clean except for a few bad words.Definitely a series to look out for.
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