Highly Recommended: Letters to the Lost & My Lady Jane | Mini-Reviews

April 10, 2017 / 6 Comments / Mini-Reviews, Review


Highly Recommended: Letters to the Lost & My Lady Jane | Mini-ReviewsLetters to the Lost

Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Also by this author: More Than We Can Tell
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Publication date: April 4th 2017
Source: Raincoast Books (thank you!)
Format: ARC
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Review: LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost is a captivating book that delves deeply into two characters’ lives. Juliet Young is a girl who lost her photographer mother in a car accident a few months ago. She is still deeply grieving. Meanwhile, Declan Murphy is an angry guy who is currently doing community service after a traumatic and dangerous incident.

The book is beautifully narrated, switching between Juliet and Declan’s perspectives. There’s also really strong dialogue between the characters and their best friends and families, who are well-rounded and real.

The romance between Juliet and Declan blooms quite naturally, through understanding and words. The letters between them are thoughtful, painful and beautifully written. These are two characters who are broken and lost, unsure how to move forward from two separate traumas. Their letters are at first hostile, then understanding, then bold and challenging. Without each other, I’m not sure how they would have gotten through their outside lives without one another.

Where the book really got going for me was when they started meeting independently and unexpectedly, outside of their letters. It’s a classic device – having the reader know more than the characters, but Kemmerer uses it to such great effect. Not only do you get the payoff when they do find out, but the anticipation is well worth it because you want to sink into their letters and words. Throughout the book, Kemmerer shows Juliet and Declan just how much words matter – how they slice and cut through, but also how they can illuminate and heal.

I really, really don’t want to say any more because Letters to the Lost is a book that just grabs you and won’t let up. It’s well structured and evenly paced, with unexpected twists that really work for the characters. While I’m not usually into bad boy romances, there are always exceptions, and this one was done so well that I highly recommend Letters to the Lost to anyone who loves contemporary YA. A very strong YA.

Highly Recommended: Letters to the Lost & My Lady Jane | Mini-ReviewsMy Lady Jane

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Series: The Lady Janies #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: June 7th 2016
Source: Purchased from Audible.com
Format: Audiobook
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane is one of the funniest, most irreverent books I’ve ever read. It’s unapologetically revisionist, a well-drawn satire, sassy, swoony, and swashbuckling.

I’ve read a few reviews that compare it to The Princess Bride, and I definitely see that. But what Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created here goes beyond that. Not only have they taken a little known historical figure and put her center stage in a time when woman weren’t really seen at all, but they’ve given her so much power and agency and voice that she convinces the two other voices in this book to basically shut up.

The narrative switches between King Edward, who is dying; Lady Jane Grey, his best friend and unexpectedly, the next regent; and Gifford Dudley, who is quickly betrothed to Jane and can’t control his magical powers. Instead of Catholics and Anglicans, the authors have chosen to use the allegorical Verities (non-magic) and Eðians (people who can transform into animals). And the authors don’t hesitate to insert their own voices in in order to correct, apologize or inform you of their thoughts.

I really liked all of the characters and their developing relationships. Jane Grey is a bookish redhead with a lot of opinions that make her sort of awkward in court. Meanwhile, Edward is a mostly good-hearted, if bumbling king with pretty ignorant views on things. And Gifford – “G” is dealing with a power-hungry father and the difficulty of not being able to control becoming a horse. There’s so much between these three, and each of them has to find a way to step into their roles for the future. Jane has to find her own power; Edward has to becomemore than just a selfish king, and G has to learn to be more than a horse. 

And along the way, the story is so funny, silly (HORSE JOKES), and compelling that it’s hard not to love. The romances are swoony, but not center stage. And there’s a cast of characters that, if you know Tudor history, you’ll really enjoy.

Rest assured, My Lady Jane is one you’ll want to move up your TBR, if nothing else but because it’s so unique. There’s no one else doing hilarious revisionist retellings like this. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series (dealing with Jane Eyre!).

Have you read Letters to the Lost or My Lady Jane yet? Are you into epistolary books? What about historical? Are there any books you’ve read that are similar to these? Let me know in the comments!

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6 responses to “Highly Recommended: Letters to the Lost & My Lady Jane | Mini-Reviews

  1. I am so excited to read Letters To The Lost! I’ve heard great things and I loved Thicker Than Water! Also My Lady Jane is the cutest, funniest book ever and everyone needs to read light hearted books like this at least once in their lifetime!

  2. Sam

    I am all about the My Lady Jane love. I agree! So funny and witty and swoony and all other sorts of good stuff. I am totally ready for the next Lady Janies book.
    Sam @ WLABB

  3. SO glad to know both of these are must reads for you, Tiffany. They’re both books I’ve been eyeing. ‘Jane’ is on my shelf (HOW FUN DOES IT LOOK!??) and ‘Lost’ is one that caught my eye a while back. I’ll have to remember it on my next Amazon shopping spree. 😉

  4. Tanya Vaughn

    Letters to the Lost looks great! I am a photographer so I am initially drawn to it! My girls both are reading Being A Witch and Other Things I Didn’t Ask For by Sara Pascoe (sarapascoe.net) they love it and I want to steal it and read it but I will wait until they are done, barely!

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