The Lie Tree

“People were animals, and animals were nothing but teeth. You bit first, and you bit often. That was the only way to survive.”

Title: The Lie Tree

Author: Frances Hardinge

Series: Standalone

Publication: April 19th 2016 by Amulet Books

Pages: 384

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

In this deliciously creepy novel by the author of the critically acclaimed Cuckoo Song, the fruit of a magical tree uncovers dangerous truths

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

My Thoughts:

If I had to describe The Lie Tree in one word, it would be: Fascinating. But, since I don’t have the constraints of one word, I can do a little word vomit. Enchanting, compelling, dark, captivating, historical, hypnotizing, clever, complex, intelligent. Get the picture? Guys, The Lie Tree is an awesome read – it will grab you by your ankles and yank you into its chaos.

The Lie Tree is a mystery set in Victorian England, but there is a twist. For a basic outline of what is going on and what happens throughout the course of the novel – only non-spoilery stuff, of course – Faith, a young Victorian woman, is forced to move to a remote island with her family after her father’s findings and the reaction to them cause a scandal. Oh my! As we know from the synopsis, Faith’s father is soon found dead and everyone rules it to be a suicide, everyone but Faith – that is.

Faith is shy, intelligent, well-mannered, and unafraid. She makes it her mission to uncover the secrets her father kept, restore his good name, and find out the truth of what really happened to him. I admired her, to be honest – especially considering the time period working against her and what she wanted to do. She is courageous, she isn’t afraid to admit mistakes or to allow her mind to wander past her own opinions. She is self-aware, beautifully so – in fact.

I think the most amazing part of this book is how everything comes together in the end. There are so many little details, so many different threads and pieces of a puzzle – you don’t realize it until the end, and then it all suddenly clicks into place. This book is the perfect mystery in that sense. I didn’t figure anything out before it wanted me to, and that alone is an accomplishment.

Overall, The Lie Tree is a gem of a book. It is heart-pounding, thought provoking, dark, witty, and everything a book should be. Frances Hardinge has crafted a beautifully complex story that’s allure is hard to ignore.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

This Was A Bad Idea But I Did It Anyway Bookhaul

OOPS I DID IT AGAIN!  I bought a lot of books.. with nowhere to put the books, but I bought a lot of books. What else did you expect from me? I am a book dragon – I hoard things and never stop collecting.

Someone really needs to keep me off of BookOutlet and Amazon… just sayin’. (But I would fight you. You can’t stop me.)

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So, for the first half of this monstrous beast – here is my list from BookOutlet:

1. What Goes Around by Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers fans are in for a treat! Two of her most critically acclaimed titles bound together for the price of one. In Cracked Up To Be, Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, is that a horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. In Some Girls Are, climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome. And just like the other members of this all girl clique, she was both feared and revered by the students of Hallowell High… that is until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.

2. Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.

Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.

When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup truck, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.

At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.

The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.

Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.

3. The Tiger Saga books 1-4 by Colleen Houck

From Amazon because why the hell not:

1.Carry On Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

3. The Word For Yes by Claire Needell

After their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.

Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.

And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.

At once touching and raw, Claire Needell’s first novel is an honest look at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.

 

4. The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year.

5. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

6. Into The Dim by Janet B. Taylor

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

7. Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott

For fans of rich and complex historical novels like Girl with a Pearl Earring or Code Name Verity, Laura Malone Elliott delivers the stunning tale of real-life Renaissance woman Ginevra de’ Benci, the inspiration for one of Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest masterpieces.

The young and beautiful daughter of a wealthy family, Ginevra longs to share her poetry and participate in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence but is trapped in an arranged marriage in a society dictated by men. The arrival of the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers. Bembo chooses Ginevra as his Platonic muse and commissions a portrait of her by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them, one Ginevra only begins to understand. In a rich and vivid world of exquisite art with a dangerous underbelly of deadly political feuds, Ginevra faces many challenges to discover her voice and artistic companionship—and to find love.

8. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

9. Velvet Undercover by Terri Brown

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

10. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

OwlCrate: March 2016

HOW DID I NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS PRECIOUS THING SOONER! Someone should have knocked some sense into me.

In case you don’t know what the glorious OwlCrate is, it’s just like Fandom of the Month only.. better? I don’t know, I love them both. OwlCrate gives you a new release in the Young Adult world and a bunch of bookish stuff centered around a specific theme. It’s a subscription box that is worth every little penny – count on that. (You guys can sign up here)

This is my first time getting an OwlCrate box, so I really had no idea what to expect besides sheer awesomeness. I am so glad I did this guys! I mean.. an adorable box full of bookish things and a book? Hell yes.

Look at the pretty little box! (Actually, the box is a pretty decent size)

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Isn’t it cute? The entire thing is actually decorated. There are footprints and all sorts of stuff throughout – it was so freaken adorable.

In case you were wondering, the theme of this month’s box was writer’s block! So fitting, right? (Shh.. don’t judge me and my nonexistent Wattpad updates)

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Isn’t that awesome? I mean, not only is the postcard extremely detailed and fitting – there is an amazing note on the back and all sorts of little surprises thrown in.

The first thing I grabbed out of the box, besides the themed card, was this sweet little collection of buttons which now reside upon my bookshelf.

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After that came a quill pen and an idea-generating notebook. I love them, I really, really do. They might be my favorite part of the box besides the book that came with it.

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There are some seriously hilarious prompts in here guys, and I mean HI-LAR-I-OUS!

  • Boil down Hamlet to a tweet
  • You live in a cloud. Give three tips for how not to fall off
  • You’ve just heard your favorite potato chip flavor will no longer be available. Write an indignant letter to the manufacturer

That’s just some of them… there are over six-hundred.

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Next came banned book socks. Squee!

This gorgeous pair made me unreasonably happy.

And finally… the book!

The book included in this month’s box is The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner.

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It came with a handwritten note from the author and a really cute bookplate that has a profound quote.

Summary from Goodreads:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Doesn’t it sound amazing? I can’t wait to dive head first into this book!

So yea, that’s pretty much it. Amazing, huh? These have become my new favorite thing guys. I just found out next month’s box is going to be Dystopian themed and now I’m already squealing and I have to wait a month.

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I would write something witty to sum this whole thing up, but I think the owl in the box is much better suited to this than I ever will be.

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The Hidden Twin

When Jey and I were born, somehow my parents convinced themselves we were both human. They even let the local priest of Rasus into our house to perform the holy branding on our splotchy little foreheads….But our mother was an Other, a princess of light and virtue straight out of a fairy tale. Jey and I are the forbidden porduct of an Other and a human–always twins, one human and one redwing. A redwing is supposed to be drowned by it’s parents at birth, but mine thought I was special. You just looked so much like a baby, my father says.

Title: The Hidden Twin

Author: Adi Rule

Series: Standalone?

Publication: March 22nd 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 272

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

For eighteen years a girl with no name, a Redwing, has been hidden away in a small attic room within a city of hissing pipes and curving temples perched on the side of the great volcano, Mol, while her sister, Jey-identical except for her eyes-has lived her life in public as an only child. Their father had hoped the hidden girl would one day grow up to be a normal human girl and not the wicked creature mythology has promised, so he secretly spared her life as an infant.

But when she switches places with her sister, striking up a flirtation with the son of the Empress while working in the royal gardens and gets attacks by two suspicious priests on her journey home, she is forced to call forth fire to protect herself, unleashing her previously dormant powers and letting her secret out. She soon catches the attention of a cult with a thousand year old grudge as well as a group of underground rebels, both seeking her for their own gain. But when her sister goes missing and the Redwing uncovers a great plot to awaken Mol and bring fiery destruction upon them all, she is forced to embrace her powers.

My Thoughts:

Oops? That was my first thought when reading this. The Hidden Twin is kind of the epitome of an accident and I really don’t know how I feel about it. While the writing was decent, the story and plot itself was such an overworked, overused, obviously recognizable trope that I sort of wanted to throw it out the window.

Because of what I just said, I had a really hard time getting into the book – and for that reason, my reaction is basically bleh. What sounded original and intriguing in the synopsis ended up being an exact replica of every other young adult dystopian fantasy ever. A girl who is different from everyone else figures out she must be the one to save her people… yea, say hello to Divergent, The Hunger Games, Matched, The Maze Runner (Though Thomas is a boy), and every other book ever written. Just… UGH!

I wish there was more to the book itself. The plot was character driven, which would have been fine if the characters were interesting and original. But, instead, the reader is forced to rely on the development of a stock image character in order to get any sort of satisfaction out of this book – and boy, let me tell you, you will be left wanting.

Something was seriously missing from this story. It lacked a punch, it lacked character, and it lacked depth. It was sort of like reading an essay that was based off of the bare minimum requirement to pass – and that’s still sort of a compliment.

I will leave you with this interpretation of my overall feelings on The Hidden Twin:

Finding Hope Blog Tour

HEY ALL YOU WONDERFUL, BOOKISH PEOPLE!

So, remember when I did a review of the amazing book Finding Hope about a week ago? Yes? No? Well, anyways, a few days after it went live I got an email asking if I’d like to participate in the blog tour to promote the book – so of course I said yes.

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Buy Finding Hope here (DO ITTTTT):

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

So, now to the really, really fun stuff. As part of the blog tour, I get to do a guest post from the amazing Colleen Nelson herself! Say what? That’s right.

My question was this: How do you find time to write and what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I mean, how could I not ask that? You all know by now it’s probably my favorite question. An aspiring writer can never have too much advice – trust me on that.

Colleen’s response *cue the squees*:

 

I started writing ten and a half years ago. I took a class at the Manitoba Writers Guild. Each week the instructor gave us ‘homework’. One assignment was to write the first chapter of a YA novel. That first chapter eventually led into my first published book, ‘Tori by Design’. It wasn’t easy! I had two little boys and a husband who traveled a lot for work, but writing became my escape. At the end of a long day with toddlers, losing myself in my novel kept me sane.
Fast forward 2016…I’ve been writing steadily since 2006 and have four books published, one more on the way and my fingers (and toes!) are crossed for another one that is in the hands of my agent. I’ve always got a project on the go, and enough ideas for books to keep me busy for a long time. I also teach full-time, but no matter how many other things I have on the go, I still find time to write. Most mornings I wake up at 5:30am to write. The house is quiet for at least an hour until my boys clamor for breakfast. There are lots of days when I would be happy to stay in bed, but I always think that the story won’t write itself. And I know that once the caffeine kicks in, the ideas will start flowing.
People often tell me that they’d love to write a book or that they have a great story idea, but don’t know how to get started. The secret is: the only way to get started is to write. Then write. And then write some more. I’m not sure why people think it’s a big mystery. Even if you’re not good at it or you never get published, the point is to write! To express ideas and thoughts and enjoy the freedom of putting them on paper. Take a class or finding a writing partner to bounce ideas off of are also great ways to stay motivated. But, really, being a writer comes down to perseverance and determination.

Any last words from moi?

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On Saturday, March 19th, don’t miss Colleen Nelson’s virtual launch for your chance to redeem bonus gifts and help support Pink Shirt Day by donating $1 from your purchase to the cause. Head to colleennelsonauthor.com for more details.