I was so pleasantly surprised by The One and Only Ivan, I just had to give it all five stars. This is what a middle grade novel should be.
I’m always enamored by girls in stories that seem innocent and invisible but use that to their advantage to carve their own path — which is exactly what Faith Sunderly does in The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. It’s impossible to put down this historical mystery, set just after the advent of Darwin’s On The Origin of Species, where young Faith takes the matter of her father’s murder into her own hands.
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.
Historical fiction has always been that tiny love of mine, the flame of a candle burning in the back of my mind while I busied myself with fantasy. It’s always forgotten while I adventure with dragons and goblins, but I’m reminded how brightly that candle burns when I read something like The Lie Tree.
When I opened Lie Tree up, I couldn’t close it until I was almost halfway through, and the only reason I did was because it was 3 in the morning and I had work in a few hours. Faith is an incredibly strong female character–and not in the ways most people expect when they hear those three words. She’s immensely flawed, selfish and brash, but she’s kind and brave and willfull too. She seeks the truth when everyone else is blind to it, and she puts herself in danger to get to the bottom of it.
Every detail comes full circle in every aspect; Hardinge is a talented writer who wastes no word.
My only gripe, if I really could call it that, is the huge cast of characters. Some are only mentioned in passing and others we physically see on the page, but they end up flowing into one another and often I find myself asking, “Wait, who is that?”
It’s not a good thing to have happen, especially in a murder mystery where everyone you meet is a potential suspect. You forget who wronged whom or when they were last seen, and it gets confusing.
But regardless of your favorite genre, whether it’s fantasy or historical fiction, you ought to pick up The Lie Tree as soon as you can.
The Lie Tree publishes on April 19th, 2016.
Question: What do a pair of newlywed woodchucks, a squirrel, a testy snake, a skunk, and a couple of bats have in common with a family of pudgy human beings named Hubble?Answer: Their lives are all turned topsy-turvey by a tyrannical toddler named Margaret.
Question: Will Margaret ever realize that there’s more to life than being mean? Answer: Read this touching comedy and find out.
Fred, a neat, tidy, and prejudiced woodchuck, vehemently doesn’t want anything to mess up his life. But then he dreams about being married and begins to crave socialization.
If you gave me the option to read a book with dragons, versus one without, I will pick the dragons over everything else. I love dragons that much. So, of course, being promised an asteroid made of dragons, I was pretty excited. And Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams was pretty exciting–at first.
I’m not really sure how to feel about R.L. Stine’s The Lost Girl. I grew up on Goosebumps books, my favorites being the choose your own adventure stories (like Return to Terror Tower).
I liked the plot:
Lizzy Palmer, the new girl, is the hot topic at Shadyside High. Michael and his girlfriend Pepper make friends with her, but as they get closer the stranger she is… and more attractive–at least for Michael.
After a snowmobile accident Michael’s friends start getting murdered. Pepper is convinced that Lizzy is the murderer but Michael doesn’t believe her.
Over 60 years ago.
Or 70 years ago. Because that’s kind of up in the air.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children came out in July of 2011. So I’ve literally waited 4 years to get this book. Let me tell you why: every time I went to the book store I really only had money for one book, a sad, sad, position to be in I assure you. I would invariably pick up Miss Peregrine’s and some other book I wanted and then flip a coin and then sigh as I put Miss Peregrine’s back on the shelf.
Then recently I went hunting for the book again. I went to my local Barnes and Nobles, only to find they didn’t have it in stock. I stopped at the Quirk Books booth at BookCon, only to find they only had one there for display only.
Finally, I decided to just get the kindle edition. Which brings me to another point: I specifically did not want to get the kindle edition of this book.
Let’s talk about how awful that makes me feel by the way. Brief synopsis: Mia and her family get into a car accident, her parents are killed instantly her brother might have a chance, she is rushed to the ICU and has restricted visitation. She’s not dead yet but she is battling the only choice before her: move on and die, or stay.
Now, I think that’s beautiful. Really, truly I do. Because, honestly, I wouldn’t have batted an eye lash if Mia chose to die. A lot happened to her in the course of a day: she loses both of her parents instantly, she loses her little brother, chances are that she will never play the cello again. The only thing still good and present in her life are her friends, remaining family, and her boyfriend.
All of whom, I didn’t connect to.
First, Mia sticks out from her family. They don’t seem to care but she certainly does. She prefers classical music to their rock and jazz. In fact, she seems put off by music that isn’t classical or in some way orchestral. And her ability on the cello, while obviously she has to be some sort of musical genius, I wonder, truly–does she need to be so humble about it? In an effort to be humble she actually sounded full of herself. “Oh, no, I couldn’t do that,” and “I’m just not good enough” are constants in Mia’s mind, but I never really got a sense that she was confident in her musicianship, something she would definitely need if she were going to Julliard.
Second, there’s Adam, Mia’s rock-and-roll guitar playing boyfriend. He is upset by what happened to Mia, but not enough for me. He invites a rock star to her ICU, he makes a big scene just to sneak into her room, and I have to wonder why. Why not just talk to her family? Whom you know? Or continue talking to Kim, her best friend, who also knows the family? Why try to create a huge mob of people ultimately endangering the safety of your girlfriend and the other ICU patients? If I were a member of the family I would have made sure he couldn’t see her after that.
Then there’s Kim, her best friend, who doesn’t cry.
In fact, everyone puts on a brave face. That’s probably the biggest problem I have with these characters. They are obviously in shock and should be balling their eyes out every chance they get, but the only character openly displaying her distraught-ness was Kim’s mother and she was scolded by Kim for it.
I’m glad Mia chooses to live (I warned you about spoilers, don’t even try to get mad at me) and I think the ending is perfect. It happens where it needs to happen and ends where it needs to end.
But I would have enjoyed this so much more if I had just seen some realistic characters.
Betsy Streeter‘s Silverwood comes out tomorrow (March 11th, 2015) and believe me, you’re going to want it on your shelf!
At age 14, Helen Silverwood, and her 9 year old brother Henry, are tired of the constant and inexplicable moving. Helen doesn’t understand her recurring dreams about the Tromindox, which, as Henry will explain, are “time traveling predators that feed exclusively on humans… they kill people and eat them.”
Got your attention now, don’t I?