Archive | February, 2016

Book Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

13 Feb

the lie treeI first read Frances Hardinge years ago when I received a free ARC of Fly by Night. I remembered her name because Fly by Night was very well written and original, and so when I saw The Lie Tree in the store a few weeks ago I didn’t hesitate to buy it — authors who write original stories well are bound to do more of the same, right?

Let’s just say that The Lie Tree makes me want to go out and buy ALL of her books.

Faith Sunderly and her family have been chased from England by scandal rocking her naturalist father’s reputation. They arrive on the island of Vane laden with boxes of his papers and specimens. Erasmus Sunderly’s foul mood and secretive nature don’t make his family many friends on Vane, and when his body is found hanging in a tree Faith is determined to discover who his murderer is. Her investigations turn up more secrets than she bargained for, however, and soon it becomes clear that her father had a lot more secrets than he was letting on — secrets that could threaten Faith’s life, too. And it all started with one little lie.

First off, plot? Awesome. A tree that lives on lies, bears fruit that gives the consumer visions of truth related to the lie told. A murder mystery, fantasy, and bit of history wrapped up in one. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like this before. Very original, fast-paced, interesting, and more to the point — well written! I was drooling over the words, the sentences, the similes and metaphors. Granted, a younger reader with less interest in the way things are written might not appreciate it as much, but I want to reread just to study the way words are put together again.

Faith is a great narrator. A bit irritating sometimes, but only because she’s real. She was determined to remain committed to the memory of her father — even though we saw that her father was a bit of a terrible person who had no time for his daughter, and even kicked her out of a carriage to make room for his precious plant. As a reader, I was rooting for her to forget him. But that isn’t very realistic. Most children want their parents’ approval, no matter how unlikely it is that they’ll get it. Aside from that though, Faith is smart, curious, and brave, all things that make her likable and easy to relate to.

This was an excellent, page-turning book. Highly recommended!

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Book Review: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

12 Feb

the dark days clubLong time, no post! Life, re-reads (does anyone really need more reviews of Harry Potter?), and a terrible book slump got in the way last year, but I’m hoping to rekindle this blog and start posting reviews again. I’ve just finished a couple of really excellent ones and I wanted to share with fellow readers!

First up: The Dark Days Club. A mash-up of Regency England high society and demons. Lady Helen has been living in the shadow of her mother’s scandal her whole life. Little does she know that her mother was involved in something much deeper than trading intelligence with Napoleon. When she meets Lord Carlston, a man accused of killing his wife, the world as she knows it is turned upside down and she learns of her mother’s legacy: fighting demons who have infiltrated every level of society. And now Lord Carlston expects Lady Helen to take up her mother’s reins.

This was a very well written and well-researched book. Regency England unfolded perfectly on every page. I love books like that, when you can tell the author has put a lot of work into making the setting feel so real. There were times when I dashed to look something up — not because it was confusing, but because I wanted to know more! (That’s the history major coming out in me.)

The characters were witty and charming. I loved that Lady Helen was intelligent, curious, and forward-thinking — but while she was willing to throw off some of the more traditional womanly roles, she was also a product of her time and enjoyed things like dances and dresses. It made her feel real too and less like one of those heroines who is “strong” and totally ahead of her time for the mere purpose of having a strong, ahead-of-her-time heroine.

As far as plot goes, it was pretty interesting! I’m wary of “creature and hunter” type novels because they’re often a bit cliche, but I didn’t think this one was at all. It was clever, interweaving historical events and people with supernatural elements — and working out how a lady was able to have covert meetings with a man she’s been forbidden to meet! I will say there were a few points where the plot really slowed down but it didn’t stop my desire to continue flipping pages.

Overall, loved this book — it was the perfect thing to get me out of a book slump!

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