The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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In a time when young women are expected to act like proper ladies and aspire only to an advantageous marriage, Faith wants to be a scientist. Fascinated by the natural world, Faith takes pleasure in accompanying her father to fossil digs, even though she is not taken seriously because of her gender. When a scandal breaks in the scientific world involving Faith’s father, her family flees to a remote island. There, secrets about her father’s past begin to come to light, and Faith discovers that he may have brought an even bigger, more dangerous secret with him to the island. Using her deductive reasoning skills, Faith must uncover the truth of what’s happening on the island — before she gets sucked into its mysteries.

I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed this book. It’s historical fiction, but it’s completely accessible and a super fast paced read. I especially love how this book tackles women’s rights, women in STEM, and fake news — all wrapped up in a murder mystery! You will definitely be eager to find out how the story ends. Characters are entertaining and well-rounded, and I liked that the author gave particular depth to the character of Faith’s mother. If you like historical fiction, mysteries, STEM, or are just looking for a good read, give this one a try. Worth it!

*Costa Book of the Year, 2015

Rating: 4.5/5

 

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

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Will’s family rockets from poverty to first class when his father is promoted in the rail business. But Will’s new wealth isn’t all he dreamed it would be. He misses the adventure of his old life, and feels trapped in his family’s new expectations. When will reunites with a circus performer, Maren, he becomes wrapped up in a mystery related to a valuable key. The key unlocks a car on the new Goliath train, The Boundless, and may lead to untold riches. Will and Maren must solve the mystery, or they may lose their lives on the train.

This one is definitely a great read! The plot is a little predictable, but it’s packed with action, adventure, and intrigue, so it moves very quickly. I also like that this is technically a historical fiction piece, but it is NOT boring at all. All the characters are very well done, and I especially enjoyed reading about the circus performers. If you are looking for your next mystery/thriller with a touch of history, Boundless is it!

*Texas Lonestar List, 2016

Rating: 4/5

 

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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Nix and her father are sailors.But not typical sailors. Nix’s father is gifted with the ability to Navigate. Using a map, he can sail his ship across time , and that’s exactly what he and his crew do. But Nix’s father isn’t just sailing through time for fun. He’s looking for a way to save Nix’s mom, who died in 1886. Nix is torn between wanting to help her father and preventing a reality in which she might not even exist. In their quest, a series of adventures ensues, including pirating, waking an army of stone soldiers, and picking up new, fanciful crew members along the way.

Wow! I LOVED this book! The plot is a unique one; I was fascinated with the idea that Nix’ dad could sail off the edge of one map and into another. I also appreciated the way the author mixed elements of reality and magic into the story. The characters are funny, well thought out, and nearly every one is lovable in their own way. I’m sad that I can’t go and join this crew myself! Definitely give this one a try if you’re looking for a new fantasy/supernatural/time travel read.

*YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2017

Rating: 5/5

 

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

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In the days of the deadly Blitz on London, Kat and her younger siblings are sent to a country boarding school to escape the danger. Housed in an ancient and mysterious castle, the school is unconventional to say the least, and the children immediately begin to notice inexplicable happenings. Strange noises haunt the nights, and the children are locked in their rooms at night to keep them “safe”. What’s more, Kat finds evidence that the school may be housing a German spy. Though completely unconvinced of the ghost story theories put forth by the other children, Kat has trouble explaining much of what happens at Rookskill. Working together, the children will have to solve the complex mystery of the castle, before it’s too late.

This one is a mix of historical fiction, supernatural fiction, and sci-fi, and it’s amazing! I’ll take a story about a haunted castle any day, so I was more than excited to read of the children’s adventures in the spooky hidden rooms. The book also does a nice job with the historical fiction aspect. It isn’t difficult to understand what is going on with the history, and it certainly isn’t boring. I can’t say too much without spoiling the plot, but suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a ghost story with a bit of unexpected sci-fi mixed in, look no further. My one complaint about the book was that the author arguably had too many plot twists going on, but that also made for an exciting read!

Rating: 4.5/5

 

 

Conversion by Katherine Howe

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When a group of girls falls mysteriously ill at a private school, many believe some kind of poison or side effect is to blame. Colleen, however, doubts the opinions of the media. Guided by anonymous texts, Colleen is drawn to the history of her town, the town once-named Salem, Massachusetts, where nineteen women were hanged for witchcraft in 1692. Is the mystery illness a coincidence? Or is the bloody history of the town repeating itself in the afflicted girls? Told using flashbacks to the confessions of an afflicted girl in the 1700’s, Conversion is the story of paranoia, media frenzy, and a history of violence.

The Salem Witch Trials fascinate me, so I was looking forward to this book. It was extremely disappointing. Though I very much enjoyed the historical flashbacks, the modern part of the book was messy, unconnected, and difficult to read. The author has an interesting theory about what “ailed” the afflicted girls, but the execution of that theory was incredibly confused and lackluster.

Rating: 2.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

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The final Infernal Devices installment finds the Shadowhunters of the London Institute once again up against the automaton forces of Mortmain. This time, Mortmain is closer than ever to achieving his demonic plans, for he finally has Tessa in his grasp. While Jem and Will scramble to rescue Tessa from her kidnapper, Charlotte struggles to keep control of the Institute. What follows are simultaneous races against time: Jem’s against his mounting addiction, Will’s mad search for Tessa, and Charlotte’s battle of wits and reason with the Consul. In this epic finale, the Shadowhunters must prevail, or face annihilation.

Wow! What an ending! I’ve always liked this series because it is part Shadowhunters and part historical fiction, and the ending really wraps everything up nicely. I especially liked how this book picked up speed right away and never slowed down. If you loved the Mortal Instruments series, make sure to give this one a try — but I don’t advise reading this one first. For thoughts about my feelings on the love triangle ending, check out the full analysis ;-).

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

 

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

 

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The second book of the Infernal Devices series finds Tessa struggling with the betrayal of her brother, Nate. Aside from being unsure of her supernatural heritage, Tessa must now confront the fact that she has lost her remaining blood family. Luckily, Charlotte and the London Shadowhunters will not turn their backs on her. Their support may be moot, however, as Charlotte inches ever-closer to losing the London institute forever. The Enclave, with the urgence of Benedict Lightwood, tasks Charlotte with finding the Magister within two weeks. If she fails, she will be deemed unfit to run the Institute. Once more, Tessa and the Shadowhunters must ban together to solve the deadly mystery of the Magister and his automatons, all while fighting the betrayal that lurks within their ranks.

Though this one wasn’t quite as good as the first in the series, it’s still really good. We find the answers to some burning questions in book one, and the Jessa/Wessa dilemma is in full swing (for more of my thoughts on this, see the spoiler page). This one also has a super-satisfying payback scene, as well, so look forward to that. Also look forward (maybe) to yet another cliffhanger and a ton of romantic drama!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.