Saturday, April 30, 2016

Nori's Sunday Street Team: Review & Giveaway - Summer of Sloane

Welcome to Nori's Sunday Street Team. If you've forgotten what that is, please visit here for more information.

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Rating: 4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Starting this book, I wasn't 100% sure that I would love Sloane. The plot sounded a bit mundane, the characters fairly standard.

While there were some traits that were along the lines of what I would expect from a young adult novel of this sort, I was very happy with how Sloane turned out.

She was so much more than I was expecting. Reading YA, I tend to find that when a girl gets dumped she gets very weepy and pathetic. While she might recover eventually, that initial reaction is so over the top in most cases that I end up hating her.

Sloane, on the other hand, takes matters into her own hands. She hauls off and punches the ass of an ex that she now has and breaks his nose pretty badly. That was a very big cheering for Sloane moment. While she is, of course, upset with the betrayal that her ex boyfriend and her ex best friend (which, btw, is one of the biggest betrayals I've read recently), she doesn't go to absolute pieces. She mourns a bit, is angry, and then moves on to her summer and trying to move on with her life in general.

I almost wish that there were photographs spread throughout the book that depicted some of the scenes that Sloane sees while she's in Hawaii. The descriptions were beautiful and really got me into a summer vacation mood (why can't it be summer already?!). Pictures would've complimented the prose beautifully.

This would be a great beach read. Heck, it would be a great read any time, but imagine being able to read this on a beach, any beach, and imagining the tropical paradise that the characters find themselves in.

About the Author:

Erin L. Schneider is native to the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Honolulu - and although Hawaiian - should never be allowed on a surfboard. With more than twenty years in corporate merchandising, she’s now a full-time writer living in Seattle with her husband, Neal; their baby boy, Kellan; a rowdy German shepherd named Ronin; and two crazy cats, Ono and Poke. She’s a member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SCBWI, and is also co-founder of the YA Buccaneers.

SUMMER OF SLOANE is her debut novel, out May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion. Visit Erin online at Erin L Schneider or on Twitter: @ErinLSchneider1. Erin is represented by literary agent Lisa Grubka of Fletcher & Company.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Dear Baobab - Written by Cheryl Foggo & Illustrated by Qin Leng

Dear Baobab - Written by Cheryl Foggo, Illustrated by Qin Leng

Maiko has left his village in Tanzania far behind, moving to Canada with his aunt and uncle. When he thinks of home, he thinks of the beautiful big baobab tree at the center of the village. In his new home, Maiko feels a connection to the small spruce tree in the front yard--it's seven years old, the same age as he is. The tree sings to him and shares his secrets. When he learns that the roots of the tree are growing too close to the house, putting the little spruce in danger of being cut down, Maiko tries to save it. He knows all too well what it's like to be small and planted in the wrong place.

Rating: 5 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dear Baobab was a sad story. It was a good story, make no mistake, but there was a lot of sadness in Maiko's story.

This book seems to be especially needed these days, with more refugee crises happening every day. Maiko has to find his way in this new place and comes up against adversity. There's the class "bully" who teases him about his big ears, there's the little spruce tree which he becomes attached to and which is threatened with being cut down simply because of where it grew.

Maiko doesn't actually do a lot in this book, if by not a lot you understand that it means no quests other than the one that is growing up. It's a difficult time and being in a new place and learning new things doesn't make things easier. By the end of the story, when Maiko turns 8, I think he's finally learning how to settle in with his new friend and the fate of his little spruce tree solidified.

This work was beautifully written. The language wasn't overly simplistic nor was it overly fancy. It found that middle balance where the words seem to engulf you in the story. Nothing magical or fantastical is happening, but you find yourself sinking into the story and feeling for the characters.

The artwork was, too, very good. It was easy to picture these pictures leaping off the page and surrounding the reader as they go through Maiko's story, like something right out of Reading Rainbow.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review & Blog Tour - Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean by Maris Wicks

I was so pleased when I saw this tour come up. My son is going to be starting kindergarten next year and while this might be a little over his head, it sounded like a good way to start introducing him to new topics, like science and the ocean.

Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic--dinosaurs, coral reefs, the solar system, volcanoes, bats, flying machines, and more. These gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views of their subjects. Whether you're a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty-year-old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you!

This volume: in Coral Reefs, we learn all about these tiny, adorable sea animals! This absorbing look at ocean science covers the biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance. Nonfiction comics genius Maris Wicks brings to bear her signature combination of hardcore cuteness and in-depth science.

Rating: 4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour.

The drawings in this book were the most charming part and it was quite fun to read it to my son. Now, given his age, I didn't read the exact text to him because it's definitely above his pay grade. Reading it myself, I found it very educational, though a bit steep in some parts considering the intended audience. It was in depth and luckily the artwork made the facts more palatable than if they'd been straight text.

This little guy right here reminds me of the teacher from Finding Nemo.

There was such a variety of creatures. I was impressed by the amount of research that must have gone into this book. I am interested in reading some of the author's other works, as the detail was such that I'm sure she could make quite a few other subjects fun to learn about.

Reading Coral Reefs reminded me of what I used to love about science. It's like reading about an alien world that, in reality, is only as far off as the closest ocean.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Night the Stars Went Out by Suz Hughes

Alien was the star controller for the entire galaxy, which was a big job for a very little alien. One night something disastrous happens, and Alien faces the biggest problem of his life. Will Alien be able to fix the stars?

Rating: 3 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a cute story. It brought to mind the plot of a Disney Pixar short, which is usually a good sign.

The art was a middling fine; there wasn't anything that blew me away about it, but it was satisfying.

The difficulty I had with the book lay with the plot. I realize that this book is meant for a young crowd, but I think that there will be more than a few kids that will spot the problems here. The biggest one: there was never any reason given for the stars going out. Secondary: there was never a real reason given for why the stars come back on beyond "the power of friendship". A simple story is great and all that, but I think resolutions that are clear would be a better way to go about telling it.

The message about not letting work being the be all and end all of your existence was a good one. The execution was a bit of a letdown. I might still recommend this book to parents with children in the recommended age group, but I'd probably warn them about the plot holes and maybe suggest that they come up with a reason to tell their kid, just in case.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, April 22, 2016

PROMO TOUR: Water's Wrath by Elise Kova - Recipes

One of my favorite things in a book is when characters get together for a meal and talk. It's a time when they can let their guard down and really relax. Even if it's a quick bite on the road, more often than not eating will give them new energy, literally or figuratively.

Water's Wrath is coming out very soon and in order to share it with you all, I wrote this post to reflect some recipes that I think would describe this book, ones that very well might be at home in Vhalla's world.

I will be doing an interview in the future, but for now, please enjoy this recipes post and just imagine all the scents bubbling away in your very own kitchen.

Side note: I want to thank Elise for her assistance with this post. She recommended some great recipes, a couple of which I've used and given me tidbits of information that I used to find recipes for specific characters. 

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.


According to Elise, lemons are a Western crop and one that brings fond memories to Aldrick. Based on that information, and my own personal love of this drink, I decided to share with you this recipe for lemonade. It's a recipe I got from the Food Network website, a recipe made by Paula Deen. I don't get to make it as often as I like because we're a small family and this has been something I'm more likely to make for a party or family gathering. Who knows, maybe you could have a Water's Wrath release party and sip this cool drink while reading?

2 cups sugar
1 cup hot water
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 gallon cold water
1 lemon, sliced
Mint sprigs, for garnish

1. In a 1 gallon container, place sugar and hot water, and stir until sugar dissolves. 

2. Add lemon juice and cold water to render 1 gallon. Stir until well mixed. 

3. Pour lemonade over glasses of ice, squeeze slice of lemon on top of each, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Side note: one thing that I and a few others have noticed with this recipe is that you might want to add the water to the sugar slowly to get the right taste for your personal use. To some people, if you use the recipe strictly, it tastes a bit watered down.


One of Elise's favorite treats to eat while writing Air Awakens, the first book in the series, was a lemon pound cake that Vhalla, our main character, also favors. Starbucks makes a killer version and this recipe is a take on that product.


Stews are one of my favorite things to eat in the winter time. While I'm sure they're delicious year round, it just isn't the same when it's warm out as opposed to knowing there's snow, cold wind, and other ickiness right outside your window and you're inside enjoying a nice bowl of stew with a thick slice of bread to sop up the sauce.

Brunswick Stew from Southern Soul Barbeque (Saint Simons Island, GA)

This recipe was featured on an episode of Drivers, Dine-ins, and Dives (an awesome show btw) and while it doesn't have a picture to go with it, I checked out the website and boy does their food look delicious.

To go with it is this fantastic bread that I might even try out (I'm not much of a baker at present). It sounds so simple and looks so good. It wouldn't just be for eating with stew, oh no, I think this is a good bread for your morning cup of tea or coffee with some creamy butter and jam or whatever you like.

Character Dishes

This section will give you some quick ideas for a recipe based on some of the characters from the Air Awakens series. There's a lot of variety in the series and that's reflected here. I hope I've included something for everyone's taste, or maybe even encouraged you to try something new. 


Southern Indian Lamb Curry - Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence and Food Network

Elise says that Jax, being that saucy character a lot of us have come to love, might love something along these lines. Lamb curry is one of my favorite Indian dishes, but I don't get to eat it often because there aren't any Indian restaurants around here anymore. Maybe one day I'll try this recipe out myself because oh my does it look good.


Baldair seems to be the type of character, according to the books and according to Elise herself, that would enjoy hearty fair. Remember the dwares in The Hobbit, eating well and heavily? Yeah, I could see that happening. 

The recipe I chose for him is one of my favorite from The Narnia Cookbook by Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis. There are so many recipes in this book that would be great for a journey through Solaris and beyond, but this one is a favorite of mine and there's a lot you can do to it. 

Meat pasties are delicious. You can change the seasonings, you can use whatever meat you prefer. In my family we call them pork buns, though they rarely end up containing pork. Usually we use ground beef and a heavy dose of rosemary.

This is a picture of what yours could look like, given enough care. If I remember correctly there are instructions in the cookbook to make your own dough, but using pre-made dough (thank you Pillsbury) is perfectly fine and takes some of the guesswork out of the equation.

Photo courtesy Geeky Chef. Please check out that website as well; there are a ton of awesome looking recipes inspired by a variety of fandoms.

In closing

Thank you for checking out this post today. It was a lot of fun to write and, honestly, made me more than a little hungry. :)

Don't forget to check out Elise and her other works in the Air Awakens series.

About the Author

Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook.

Tour Stops

Below are the other stops in this tour. There are a lot of different things happening here: reviews, playlists, etc. Please be sure to check them all out.

April 14 - Playlist 

April 15 -  Speedpaint - Outfits

April 16 - Fan Cast

April 17 - outfit aesthetics

April 18

April 19 - Quote Art

April 20 - Gif Review - Nails

April 21 - Author Interview

April 22 - Recipes

April 23 - Fan Art - Fan Cast

April 24 - Northern Aesthetics - Top 10

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Nirvana by J.R. Stewart

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized - even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Rating: 2 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Note: This review is based upon the advance reader copy from NetGalley. I have heard that it differs from the book that went to print, so please keep that in mind when reading this.

The beginning of the book was a bit dry. It sounded like a pamphlet regarding virtual reality technology and it's impact or lack there of on animal testing. It didn't feel like a novel at all, which felt really strange.

When Kenders was explaining how the world had come to be in the state that it's in, what with the environment taking a nose dive, it didn't sound authentic. While I was reading it, I thought that it was a chapter writing about superstitions and environmental conspiracy theories that didn't have a good, if any, foundation in science.

There was an oddity about the ages that sort of bothered me. Apparently in this future world the growing up process is sped up. Kenders is 17, but she's engaged, has a "fabulous" job, is/was a member of a punk band, and an animal rights activist. The way she talked, though, did not match up with her age, even taking into account the advancement of maturity. She sounds like she's in her later 20's, early 30's. Maybe it has to do with reduced life expectancy, but it rubbed me the wrong way while I was reading the story in her voice.

She does have some romantic notions about the physical world that I found admirable and it reminds me of the argument that sometimes goes on today regarding physical book versus eBooks. The physical book, the tangible thing that you can hold and relate to on a personal level, is something that to Kenders, and to a lot of people in our world today, means more than digital immortality.

Different points of view don't bother me, but the way it was done in this book was weird. Kenders's chapters are told in first person, but then it switches to Andrew's chapters which are not. His chapters don't flow very well. The text goes from being "told" by Andrew from a third person p.o.v. to being told "about" Andrew in the third person. The flow is all wrong and doesn't improve a lacking story line.

The premise is a very interesting concept. Anything that deals with technology and the possibility of complete and total dependence on it (even more so than today) piques my interest. The execution in this book, however, was not pleasing. The best way to explain it is that it sounds and feels like a text book about the subject that was altered a little bit to make it into a novel.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme that is brought to us by The Broke & the Bookish. Check out the topic list here.

I've been off for a couple weeks, so I'm glad to be coming back on such a good note. This week's Top 10 Tuesday is all about books that make me smile, laugh, or at least be very happy to be reading it.

The Poo Bomb: True Tales of Parental Horror by Jeff Vogel

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Herbie's Big Adventure by Jennie Poh

Herbie is a little hedgehog who is perfectly happy at home with his mother. But one day Mommy tells Herbie that it's time to go exploring all by himself! Herbie is so not sure, but ready or not, a westerly wind sweeps Herbie into the wide world...and Herbie's Big Adventure begins! Little Herbie finds that he's braver than he thinks and even makes a friend before coming safely back home to Mommy."

Rating: 4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I picked up this book because I love children's picture books that I might be able to share with my son. The fact that it was all about a young hedgehog didn't hurt.

The art was simple, whimsical even. It has a nice balance between colors and line detail that don't detract from the story.

The story itself was also simple, but I think that it had a good message. Children need to be able to explore things on their own, to learn their boundaries and when they need their parents.

I don't understand the reviews that state they think it didn't have a good message. When I looked up facts about hedgehogs after reading them, I discovered that Herbie, at the age he is in the book, would actually have reached maturity and would probably translate to a young adult rather than a 3-5 year old. So, yes, if he was a 3-5 year old, the adventure seems like it could be a bit extreme, but not so much when you take into account the lifespan and maturity cycle of a hedgehog.

The only problem I had with the story line was that, according to the pictures and the weather, the story took place over the course of several weeks, even possibly months. I don't think that really fits with Herbie's development or what he'd actually be doing as a young hedgehog.

So, I think this book was a cute book to share with my son and I think it was interesting for me because it actually got me thinking not only about my parenting, but about hedgehogs and what their lives are like. I didn't know much about them before this book and I like to think it inspired someone to find out more about this adorable, spiky little animal.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: The Vengeful Half by Jaclyn Dolamore

The Vengeful Half by Jaclyn Dolamore

Olivia might look human, but she’s grown up with a heavy secret: her mother is a potion-maker who fled her home in a parallel world, the Hidden Lands. 

Alfred is the blind, charismatic young heir to the illegal potions trade. When Olivia's mother is kidnapped by the magic dealers with whom she once made a bad bargain, she has no choice but to trust Alfred's offer of help. They travel to a strange new world of bootlegged American pop culture, lifelike doll people, and reincarnation. Alfred finds himself putting his position on the line to defend Olivia against his family’s conniving plans. Maybe he has morals…or maybe he’s just falling in love. 

When Olivia escapes from an attack by a curiously familiar sorceress, she learns that potion dealers weren’t the only thing Mom was hiding from. Dark secrets lurk in Olivia’s past, and now Olivia must kill or be killed by the girl with whom she once shared everything...

Rating: 3 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I first saw the description, I thought that this book would be the start of a grand adventure and possibly a new series. It certainly had that potential based on what I'd read. After reading it, my estimation is somewhat diminished, though not completely.

The story itself was good and had a nice development. The execution was a little on the childish side, which made me think that this would be better labeled as a middle grade book rather than a sci-fi young adult book.

The pacing felt a bit rushed. We're barely into the book before things started happening in a rapid fire succession. Maybe a little more fleshing out would've been good?

The art was cool, though at times I wasn't sure whether it was consistent with the book moments that it was meant to represent, which is a huge problem for me.

My final thoughts are that this was a decent book, but I wouldn't say an excellent one. It was more or less fun to read in the moment, but I'm not sure whether it has the staying power for a re-read.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Octopus Pie, Volume 1 by Meredith Gran

In this first collected volume of the Octopus Pie series, we follow grumpy twenty-something Eve and her stoner roommate Hanna as they navigate post-college life. They'll take on crazed childhood rivals, troubling art scenes, the discomfort of exes, and maybe even... friendship? All this and more in the fictional, totally made-up city of Brooklyn.

Rating: 3 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

I went into Octopus Pie knowing nothing about it. The art on NetGalley caught my eye, the description sounded humorous, so I thought that I would give it a try.

The art is consistently cute and would look good, I think, with full color pages at the beginnings of the chapter. Anymore than that would take away from the narrative.

Each chapter flows into the next loosely. There doesn't seem to be an overreaching story going on, other than that of Eve, the main character, who is seriously dissatisfied with her life.

Some of the comics don't seem to make sense in the overall course of things. There is one chapter where Eve seems like things might be improving feels rushed and I thought at first that it was a dream because, up until that point, I didn't think that she had it in her to go through with any of her "plans". If I can't believe that your character is actually going to be proactive, is that really a good thing?

I wish there had been more history about Eve. The reader learns little about her other than her current situation and her ex-boyfriend. You don't really see why she is the way she is, emotionally speaking.

For its flaws, Octopus Pie has potential and while not funny 100% of the time, there were enough jokes that I liked reading more.

Music Recommendation

I can easily picture Eve's story being some kind of indie movie similar to Juno or Once. Close your eyes, listen to this song, and picture some of Eve's lower moments, you'll see what I mean.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Monday, April 4, 2016

*SPOILER* Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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.

Rating: 5 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a great book to get me out of my reading slump. I feel like I've had a run of bad books lately, or at least books that didn't quite suite me. The Lie Tree changed that.


The characters were a hodgepodge of good people, wicked people, and a few that were both.

 I find myself quite liking Faith, though some of her mannerisms are a bit irritating. I believe it's just a product of her time and of the situation she finds herself in. As a young lady in the late 1800's, she has to be a certain way. Unlike most heroines I read about in similar circumstances, who tend to openly rebel right out of the gate, Faith is more what I imagine would be realistic. She has these passions that she is constantly being told are wrong (being intelligent, interested in science, etc.), but instead of openly pursuing them, she keeps them as closely guarded a secret as she can. Try as she might to be "proper" and do away with these fanciful notions before becoming an adult, they are still there and I think you can tell that, even though she's acting as society would wish her to, she doesn't really believe the things she's told to be.

The secondary characters are gold. Although they may only be mentioned in passing, they've got their own life. The servants at the Sunderly family's new household are the 19th century equivalent of snarky. They don't suffer fools, which is what they view their new mistress as. As the story progresses, they each have a part to play. Jeanne (the house maid) was never a nice person, but she served a purpose and played that part well.

Mrs. Vellet (the housekeeper) was a bit odd because for a time you couldn't tell where she sat with the family. I still have some questions about her and Miss Hunter (the postmistress). They both had a mysterious presence in the story that wasn't stated, but implied and if what I think about this implication is true, then I have a new respect for both of them, regardless of some of the unkind things one or the other of them might have done in the course of the story.


This book was very good about keeping things close to the chest regarding the main mystery of the story (the murder of Faith's father) and the mystery of the Lie Tree itself, plus a few minor incidents that crop up. The misdirection regarding the criminals was successful, as I never thought about these people doing what they ended up doing.

One of the main criminals, Agatha, was such an odd creature because despite what she'd done, she was sympathetic not only from the reader's point of view, but from the very person she'd wronged the most, Faith. She was a woman who was brilliant and wanted so much to be a respected naturalist, but realized that it wasn't going to be possible in the time and place she lived in. She was intelligent enough to come up with an alternative that would've satisfied her, but her execution of it (murder, theft, etc.) was her downfall. Because of her obsession with having the Lie Tree and thus getting rich (since she couldn't be famous), she ended up contracting malaria, became an alcoholic, and committed suicide.

Throughout her interactions with the tree and with the people involved with it directly or indirectly, Faith became a much stronger person by the end. She not only became braver and bolder, but she realized truths about herself and about her own moral compass. The tree, whether it was actually magical or not, was more of a burden than it was a blessing.


This was a fantastic story that needs to be read by more people. It's a young adult story without the burden of a romance that seems out of place or a main character that is stupid beyond words. It's a mystery that has a satisfying answer. It makes you think about some moral issues, such as whether a lie can ever be told for a good reason. Read about Faith and her journey toward her own resolution to see what you think in the end.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever Made by

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever is so bad, it could wake the dead…
After producing three horror films that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it's time to make something epic. In fact, they're going to make The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz as the lead.
Hemmed in by a one-month timeline and a cast of uncooperative extras, but aching to fulfill Alicia's dreams, Justin must face the sad, sad truth: he may, in actuality, be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever. 

Rating: 2 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

I feel like this could have been an interesting teen film, maybe a film of the summer, but as a book it falls a bit flat for me.

There were some really fun moments, when you could clearly see and understand the passion that Justin has for film making. I think, with enough time, he could grow up, go to film school, and become a good filmmaker.

As it stands, though, there wasn't anything remarkable about the story. It was alright during the reading, but the details went from my head once I was done reading it. This isn't the type of book that you can read, put down for ages, and then pick back up and expect to remember everything so you can continue.

Also, I swear I thought that Justin was in middle school while I was reading this. I don't remember if his age was mentioned early on or not until later, but up until I actually found out he was 15, I was thinking more along the lines of 12 or 13. There was something about his mannerisms and his actions (or lack there of) that presented him as younger.

The ending was...weird. Not in a good way, wow that was some stuff kind of weird, just very odd. It was hard to tell whether it was a concrete ending, or another one of Justin's failed movies.

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