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 Last Ever After by Soman Chainani

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Evil has finally won. Now, instead of separate schools for girls and boys, two schools for evil exist. One for new evil, and one for old. Now that evil finally has its chance, old villains are coming back to rewrite the past. Though their tales are long over, wicked witches, giants, and murderous pirates are set on executing the heroes who bested them. At the center of the this new regime, Sophie and her new prince, the young schoolmaster, plot to tip the scales in evil’s favor forever. In yet another story filled with adventures, romance, and plot twists, Agatha and Tedros must find a way to save the fate of good before the last ever after occurs.

If you liked the first two books in this series, you will probably like this one. It was a bit repetitive for me, though. I really enjoyed the twist of seeing the old villains come back to seek their revenge, but the Tedros-Agatha-Sophie love triangle was so. old. I will say, though, that the ending is great. Getting to the ending, however, can, at times, prove difficult.

Rating: 3/5 

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

A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

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After Sophie and Agatha wish for each other, they are transported back to their home in Gavaldon, where they will, presumably, live out their “ever afters”. However, a new wish takes the pair back to the School for Good and Evil — only it’s far from the school they remember. Now, the girls find themselves in a school for girls and boys, with each side vehemently hating the other. What’s more, the boys’ school wants Sophie dead, and the girls’ school is ruled by a sadistic, boy-hating dean. Somehow, Sophie and Agatha must find a way to reunite the schools and undo the wish, before it’s too late.

As much as I liked the first book, I was really excited to read this one. It was pretty great! There were a couple of aspects I did not enjoy. For example, once the girls are left on their own, all they want to do is eat/diet/play with makeup. Eye-roll. BUT, for the most part, this book was really good. I loved seeing the return of all my favorite characters, and there are some interesting backstories and plot twists revealed. I especially recommend listening to the audiobook this series, as the reader is excellent!

Rating: 4/5 

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

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

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Gigi has always had her life spelled out for her — get good grades, do her homework, go to a good school, etc.. But, when she and her sister, Didi, move to a new town, Gigi is determined to start living her life the way she wants to live it. In her new school, Gigi makes a plan to make lots of friends, join in the with popular crowd, and actually have fun. At first, Gigi’s new set of goals works perfectly. But soon she is faced with school drama, frenemies, and secrets from her and Didi’s past coming back to haunt her. Can Gigi rise above these obstacles to become her “most successful” self?

I was really expecting to be bored by this book, but it was SO good. Yes, it’s a cute, easy, read, but it has a surprising amount of depth, and the characters are the best. Gigi, of course, if one of my favorites. She’s smart, funny, and gets herself into some crazy scenarios. Perhaps the best part about this book are the recipes! If you love to cook, you’ll love having the opportunity to make the dishes Gigi talks about all the time. Also, don’t be fooled by the book’s cuteness. There are some serious plot twists — just wait until the end! If you’re a fan of realistic fiction, cooking, for “school drama books”, this book is for you. It may or may not be required to eat treats while reading it 🙂

*Lonestar, 2016

Rating: 5/5

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

The Thickety: The Whispering Trees by J.A. White

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The second book of The Thickety series finds Kara and her brother, Taff, fleeing from the town they once called home. As their father is possessed by the evil spirit of the town’s former leader, Kara searches for a way to free her father and return her home to peace. Racing through the Thickety, Kara and Taff must also flee the forest demon, Sordyr, who is intent on using Kara’s power for his own gain. Along the way, the two rely on a perceived enemy, hoping that she is, in fact, a friend. Kara must escape the Thickety and somehow formulate a plan to save her father, before she is trapped in Sordyr’s home forever.

I read the first book in this series, so I was excited to read this one. It was really good! I liked that basically the whole book is Kara’s struggle to get through the Thickety, and the story ends on a great cliffhanger. I also enjoyed that a major character in the book is Mary Kettle, the evil witch from the stories Taff used to hear back in their town. There’s some pretty cool twists and turns as well! Definitely give this one a try if you liked the first book.

Rating: 4/5

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

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

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Having been lost in a hurricane as a baby, Moses LoBeau (Mo), is on a constant search for her “upstream mother” and the life she could have had with her. In the meantime, Mo lives with the Colonel and Ms. Lana, proprietors of the town’s cafe, and the closest people Mo has to blood relatives. Usually, Mo’s life in the small town of Tupelo Landing is a quiet, sleepy one. But when a townsperson is found murdered, events pick up fast — especially since Mo’s best friend, Dale, may be a murder suspect! Mo and Dale decide to work together, forming Desperado Detective Agency, to solve the crime and clear Dale’s name. What they don’t expect is that the murder is far more complicated than anyone could have guessed, and how events play out is anyone’s guess.

This one is really cute! I loved all the characters, especially Mo. She has quite the attitude! While it may not be the “deepest”, most complicated plot out there, it’s certainly a good read — worth it for the characters and dialogue alone. Pick this one up of you’re looking for some thing quick and fun!

*Newbery Honor, 2013

Rating: 3/5

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