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Book Review: The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson

The Liar's Daughter

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Holiday House Publishing, Inc., via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Religion/Mystery

Plot: Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother–a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.

Opinion:

The window is no more than two feet wide and maybe half a foot tall. I can’t squeeze through it. It’s meant to let in sunlight, not hope.”

This is the story of a girls path to self-discovery.

The weaving of lies into truth.

The voices that are battered into ones brain so a person ceases to think for themselves.

It is the story of a life lost, a life gained, and the art of creating a world of both.

Piper has one dream: to make her Father proud and to finally be initiated into the Community as an adult. She has spent her entire life breathing in his teachings and doing anything in her power to make him proud. She is the perfect sibling, ensuring all the littles are well cared for and that everyone acts their best. Because the Outside world is toxic, and they are humanities only chance at survival. She knows the government seeks to control its people with pharmaceutical drugs and lies, pumping bodies full of toxins in order to keep them spending money. But Piper knows the truth. That all They do is lie, and that Father knows best. Because Father is a prophet, and Mother and Father would never lead her astray. They love her, and everything they do is to keep their family safe.

The Community is Truth.

The Community is Loyalty.

The Community will keep you safe.

The Liar’s Daughter takes the reader to “before” and “after” Pipers time living at the community. The “before” portrays memories of what she calls home, a small house near a lake and an abandoned amusement park. Piper describes this place as if it’s heaven on earth. The peacefulness, beauty and sense of freedom. She is a girl of great gratitude and happiness for what she has, and the family she is blessed with.

But when we go to the “after”, it is Piper in present time after being taken out of the community. She is unable to discern delusions from reality, or memories from hallucinations. She is in a state of confusion, a haze of sadness and anger for being ripped from her parents and siblings. She believes she is being held against her will, kidnapped and held captive. She is fearful of what being on the Outside will do to her body and health. She refers to her new family as They and Them-those who mean her harm and feed her lies.

These people must’ve gotten into my head somehow, altered my memories.

What else could explain what’s happening?”

My love for Piper goes deep, because I was on this ride of discovery with her. I felt her confusion, her pain, her anger for being ripped from those she loves. Every day in the present is a time of mourning for her, and a search to figure out how to escape and run back to Mother and Father. I couldn’t help but share in the injustice of the situation with her. How dare these people rip her away from her siblings, her life of freedom. She was happy where she was, even if those on the Outside see it differently.

How does it feel? I want to ask. To have everything that’s precious to you taken away?”

It may seem strange to hear that I see any sort of an injustice for a girl to be returned to a home she was taken from first. To see her ripped from a family that brainwashed her, that gave her barely enough food. But that is where things get tricky, isn’t it? Piper only remembered her life at the Community, and she fiercely loved those around her. Is it the best thing for her to be ripped from those people, and thrust back into the arms of people who are now strangers to her? In the long run, maybe. But watching her try to piece her life together. Her own thoughts, her own emotions…it was hard to witness.

I want to be seen.”

It takes true talent to write the leader of a cult in a way where the reader is able to understand JUST how alluring he is. He is sensible, his arguments have just cause, and he makes you want to leave your cellphone behind and live a life off the grid. This is one of the first fiction stories about a cult I have read that really captures the essence of how enticing and pragmatic a cult leader can be. They weave promises into lies masquerading as truths, and everything feels and sounds so real and possible, until you realize it isn’t.

Monsters don’t have empathy. They have sharp claws and teeth that thirst for blood.”

This story turned out to be a delicate and sorrowful tale, but ultimately, one of hope and recovery. Piper is a gentle character who has so much love in her heart, and only wants to make people proud of her. She wants to be seen and acknowledged, to be loved and adored. I really appreciated the author shedding light on how Piper’s time in the Community affected those around her. It twisted the knife that was already protruding from my stomach, and then gave it a little extra shake when you begin to see the truth of what happened to her and her family. This is an amazing book that I think everyone should read. If this topic is usually sensitive to you, I do want to express that it doesn’t go into anything graphic and it isn’t a dark and evil book. It is a truly beautiful and delicate tale, and I highly suggest it be devoured.

“Last Warning. Do Not Stand Up.”

4-5-stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.jpg

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

Plot:

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It Can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

Opinion:

To say this book sank it’s mushy, dreamy, lovely and jagged death claws into me, would be a vast understatement.

I INHALED this book.

Praise Satan I had books two and three sitting on standby!

Why…did I wait SO long to read this?

When Mara wakes up in the hospital, she learns three very important things. 1. She was in an accident. 2. Her friends didn’t survive. 3. She has no idea what happened. With the death of her best friend looming over her, Mara convinces her family to up and move to escape the memory of the person she will never see again. Just a few months after the accident, Mara starts at a knew school in Miami, Florida in the hopes that she can put the past behind her. But seeing hallucinations of your dead friends and hearing their voices can’t be normal, right? With the two cruel students named Anna and Aiden tormenting her, and the unwanted attention from the gorgeous boy with a bad reputation, Mara is barely holding on to her sanity. Strange things are happening around Mara Dyer. Is she going crazy? Or is there something dark lurking beneath the surface, waiting to get out?

With a plot description like the one on the back of this book, no wonder it took me so long to read this.

Talk about VAGUE.

But when I FINALLY started reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I was gripped.

Overcome.

Slapped in the face, strapped down and injected with synthetic UHDICTION.

This. Book. Kills.

Pun intended.

What really seals the deal for me on this book isn’t the mushy love story though. It isn’t the mysterious plot that you don’t start figuring out until 70ish% in (and even so, barely), and it isn’t the well-developed characters. It’s the WRITING. I have never laughed out loud SO much at a book, as I have with this. Whether it was witty comebacks, smart and sassy banter, or truly quirky and accurate depictions of personalities – I was giggling, yelling and screaming SO many French MontanaHA’s” that I’m surprised nobody called the cops to 5150 me.

My face is in a state of agony this morning due to the constant smirks and smiles that were lighting up my face.

I don’t smile, okay?

It hurts.

But when there’s a twelve-year-old boy texting stock tips and getting numbers to “network”, you can’t help but grin through the pain. Mara’s youngest brother Joseph is a DOLL! He is bursting at the seams with personality and gumption, and he doesn’t even have a big role in this book! But it seems that every character Mara comes into contact with, whose role is big or small, is rounded and developed REALLY well. This author just knows how to capture the essence of people, to describe their quirks and charms in such few words, and I am so thankful for that.

Let’s get into the good stuff though, shall we?

Mara and Noah.

Noah and Mara.

So dreamy right?

Ehh…WRONG. Noah starts this story out as a MAJOR asshat. He is aggressive, rude, dismissive, demanding, and tells our main female character to shut up regularly. Swoon? NO! NOT SWOON! He’s a prick. But of course, as we women do, we make exceptions for his crappy behavior and forget it all when he starts being sweet to us.

So anyways, he does get nicer

Though I couldn’t STAND his and Mara’s moments of possessive and objectifying statements of “I was his” and “You’re mine”, their romance actually was very sweet and caring. Noah turns out to be a fiercely loyal and caring character (maybe a little too fierce at times), and I was enjoying the slow-build of their relationship that felt honest and true. These two characters play off each other SO WELL. Their relentless banter and bickering is SO enjoyable to read. They never cease their attempts in riling the other up, or making filthy innuendos and snarky comments. I was loving it!

For me though, Mara is the character who really shines in this story. As she should! The reader is whisked into a whirlwind of emotions with Mara. Is she sane? Is she crazy? Maybe she’s just grieving. But every moment of embarrassment, anger, sadness, annoyance, or look of distrust she is given from her mother – you feel it. Any girl will be able to connect with this character in some way. We have all been in similar situations that can mirror Mara’s time in high school, especially when it comes to awkward encounters with students or love.  

But my ramblings aside, I was SO hooked and into this book! I read it in 6 hours, and thankfully had books two and three on standby so I could immediately begin devouring those. The plot definitely went in a direction I wasn’t expecting (thanks book description) but I can’t say that I am at all unhappy with it. The story is taking it’s time to unravel, and I have a feeling I haven’t even dipped my toes into the reality of what these characters will be going through.

You need to read this series.

But buy all the books at once, your addictive personality will thank you.

4-5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Killing November (Book 1) by Adriana Mather

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley for an honest review.  

Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

Opinion:

You know those books you come across that sound AMAZING, like they will be an EXACT fit for you, and are already praised and LOVED by EVERYONE?

And then you start reading it, all giddy and excited for what’s to come…

…but then you get about 60 pages in and are just kind of like…

Yeah.

Killing November.

November assumed she had a normal upbringing, that was until she arrived at Academy Absconditi. Here, the students aren’t animated with conversation, worried about calculus tests and pining over who will ask them to homecoming. Their movements are deliberate, and they are masters at mind games and killing. So why would November’s father leave her in a place like this? Where the teachers enact an “eye for an eye” punishment system,  family secrets are to be kept hidden for one’s safety and students keep turning up dead? Surrounded by people who assume she is weaving a clever game of innocence and daftness, November is thrust into a world she can barely navigate, all the while trying to learn the secrets of her family and who she is.

Killing November is a YA Mystery dripping in deceit, manipulation, darkness and brutality.

I witnessed all these themes and more while reading.

But in the end, all I was REALLY left feeling,

was indifference.

It started out great. November describes being named after a maple tree, how her father describes her as “too trusting”, and having awakened in dungeon-like room with little idea how she arrived there. Who wouldn’t be intrigued? As I started reading more, I learned that November is just like most of us readers – not entirely proficient in the art of deceiving and killing people via poisons, a bow and arrow or a set of freshly sharpened knives.

Woe is us for our normalcy.

She knows nothing of Strategia – an ancient secret society of spies and assassins, has barely heard a whisper about the Families of the Strategia who are responsible for pulling the strings behind MAJOR historical events throughout history, and has no idea how she fits into any of it. So as the story started picking up and November was thrust into her new lessons, I started noticing a constant theme of wishy-washiness with this character.

For most of the story, November is running around like a confused goose saying and doing the wrong things. I don’t blame the poor girl either, this school sounds like a nuthouse. But when November is given a task in lessons to steal a scarf off another player in the dark, or throw knives at targets…she becomes arrogant and cocky and just magically knows what she is doing.

Look, I love a confident character who has witty comments and a snarky attitude.

I know that she had a little training in these areas as a child.

But when the main character acts like a deer in headlights for 80% of the book, and has a few random and brief moments of god-awful one-liners boasting her perfection, it’s a turn-off.  After the first instance of this, and the multiple continuances of her silly demeanor and confusing personality after, I became increasingly checked out.

I almost DNF’d this book about 15 times, but kept at it because so many other readers were telling me how much they loved it. So I forced myself to keep reading…and reading…and…reading. In the end, they were right in some cases. It DID get better. But it wasn’t amazing and unforgettable.

It was just okay.

I really wish I could have fell in love with this story more, because the suspense was there. The mystery and grittiness were shouting through the pages, but I just couldn’t connect with November or any of the other characters for that matter.  The romance element was lacking in that it felt shoved together rather than formed naturally, and the friendship between Layla and November felt stiff. I just wasn’t invested in this read at all, and for that I am truly dismayed.

3-stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · Edelweiss+ · Netgalley · New Releases · Pre-order

Binding of Bindings #14: 12 Upcoming Book Releases Gifted By Publishers

I don’t know about you, but my 2019 has been KICKING ASS!
Not only am I reading some fantastic stories, but the incessant drowning in books on a daily basis is like…Uh-mazing.
So THANK the Book Gods and our little black cauldrons, because Netgalley and Edelweiss are blessing us with some KILLER upcoming releases.
The best part is, you can go and get your greedy little book hands alllllllll over them still!

You’re welcome.

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~ * ~ 12 Upcoming Book Releases, Gifted by Publishers ~ * ~

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1. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters

Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genre: Retelling/Historical Fiction/YA
Available for Request on: Netgalley

The Raven's Tale

This is my third time ranting and raving about my excitement for The Raven’s Tale, and don’t you worry…it won’t even be my last!

This is a retelling of the life of Edgar Allan Poe during his youthful years before he goes to university. The story witches back and forth between Edgar and his Muse, Lenore, while they navigate through their tumultuous relationship. It portrays how Lenore helps Edgar write his dark poems of death and despair, while touching on his internal struggles as he grows.

 

2. Nocturna (A Forgery of magic, Book 1) by Maya Motayne

Release Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Available for Request on: Edelweiss

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Nocturna is one I have been really looking forward to reading, and even better, it releases on my dad’s birthday!!

Happy Birthday to me.

From the book synopsis, I’m already envisioning a Lysandra-esque character (Throne of Glass) fighting her way through a world similar to A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge.

It follows a faceshifter named Finn who is tasked with an impossible mission, and a Prince who is looking for a way to bring his brother back from the dead. Their lives collide in chaos as they unleash a power that could bring the world to an end, unless they can stop it.

Dun-dun-dunnnnn.

 

3. The Living God (Book 1) by Kaytalin Platt

Release Date: May 21, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Available for Request on: Netgalley

The living God

Can we take a minute to drool over this cover?

This one sounds epic.

The story centers on two mages – Saran, a Princess with the ability to manipulate time, and Keleir, a fire mage whose body is the host for a demon and who is foretold to be The Living God. It is about how these two mages lives are intertwined and the eventual end of the world if Keleir does indeed fulfill the prophecy and become a living God. 

It is oozing in magical apocalypse and I am SO ready for it!

4. The Haunted by Danielle Vega

Release Date: June 4, 2019
Genre: YA/Horror/Paranormal
Available for Request on: Goodreads Giveaway

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I just won this little beauty in a Goodreads Giveaway, and am only semi-patiently waiting for its arrival!

If you don’t know my girl Danielle Vega from her Merciless series, then you just aren’t horroring right.

The Haunted is your typical haunted house tale. A young girl and her family move to a new town, to a house that has a reputation for being haunted, and basically…s**t just hits the dusty ceiling fans. But in typical Danielle Vega fashion, I know this is going to be a story that creeps me out more than anything. 

This author just knows how to keep you up at night.

 

5. The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

Release Date: July 2, 2019
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/LGBT
Available for Request on: Edelweiss

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A YA/Mystery of love, deception and murder.

Remy had an amazing life, until her best friend Elise shot her boyfriend.

Devastated and shocked, Remy reflects through her memories and tries to find any plausible explanation for what happened. The Best Lies takes the reader on a ride of toxic relationships, jealousy and revenge. Said to be a Thelma and Louise meets Gone girl psychological thriller!

 

6. Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Release Date: July 9, 2019
Genre: YA/Mystery/Horror/LGBT/Feminist Fiction
Available for Request on: Netgalley

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I don’t know what it is about stories set in private schools, but I absolutely LIVE for them!

Wilder Girls is the private school meets fast-spreading virus meets feminist vibes story that you obviously just need. A virus breaks out at a private school located on an island, and three girls are forced to fight for their lives as it spreads. Reviewers are describing it as a Feminist Lord of the Flies and I’m…totally confused on how they are going to mesh…but I’m DOWN!

Bring on the creep factor!!!

 

7. Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

Release Date: August 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling
Available for Request on: Netgalley

Ever Alice

Thank our lucky breads and potions, August is blessing us with another Alice retelling!!

This tale of our lovely, innocent and silly Alice takes place in an Asylum!! YAY!

At 15, Alice will do anything to leave the asylum that she was placed in for her “delusions” of a white rabbit and a place called Wonderland. Her ticket out is an experimental procedure, but cold feet are her undoing, so she escapes back to Wonderland…only to be forced to serve the Queen of Hearts.

This version sounds like it is going to be grittier and WAY less innocent than the original.

 

8. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Release Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling
Available for Request on: Netgalley

House of Salt and Sorrows

I HAVE BEEN WAITING SO LONG FOR THIS!!!

A retelling of the childhood tale 12 Dancing Princesses, House of Salt and Sorrows takes the classic into a sinister form.

Annaleigh lives in a manor by the sea with her once 12 sisters, father and stepmother. But four of the sisters have died by supposed accidents, though the villagers believe it to be a curse on the family. So when Annaleigh finds that her sisters have been sneaking out at night to go dancing, she can’t help but think that this may be a connection to the deaths of her sisters.

 

9. Midnight Beauties (Grim Lovelies, Book 2) by Megan Shaphard

Release Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Available for Request on: Netgalley

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Book 2 in the Grim Lovelies duology, Midnight Beauties continues the tale of magical creatures.

If you haven’t read Grim Lovelies, don’t worry. No spoilers here!

The duology follows Anouk who is a Beastie, an animal that was enchanted into a human. It is set in a world of witches, goblins and tons of magic. Anouk is one of 5 Beasties that serve the witch that turned them, Mada Vittora, and are all forbidden to leave the mansion at any time.

The books document how Anouk fights to free herself, and her friends, from the enchantment they were forced under. All while going up against powerful Royals and magical creatures.

 

10. The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Available for Request on: Edelweiss

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The Memory Thief is set in a world where memories are considered most valuable, and everyone will fight to get their hands on them. Memories are sold on auction blocks and the city is ruled under the brutal and callous Madame. Being trained in stealing Memories has helped Etta survive, but a dark deal made with the Madame may put everything in Etta’s life at risk.

I am again reminded of A Face Like Glass from all of these amazingly creative and twisted stories! This one sounds so unique and a little twisted, so of course it’s a MUST READ for me!

 

11. Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Available for Request on: Netgalley

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Shadow Frost is about a young princess named Aesterin as she fights to save her kingdom from a demon hellbent on destroying every village in its path. With her fierce friends in tow, Aesterin and her party race to find the demon and slay it. But when they learn that there is a plan to kill the princess, Aesterin and those closest to her begin to realize the secrets that have been kept hidden.

Sounds good right?!

Best of all, this was written by Coco Ma when she was just 15!

12. Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou

Release Date: October 8, 2019
Genre: YA/Thriller
Available for Request on: Netgalley

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This one is for all you Heathers lovers out there!

Love, Heather is about two girls who enact revenge on the bullies of their high school by playing a few pranks, signing them with Love, Heather. But what starts out as innocent retaliation, quickly turns into a violent mess as students start to join in by pulling their own vicious pranks. As everything turns dark, the girls fight to take back control of what they started.

I am a HUGE fan of the Heathers movie, and if you haven’t seen it, i suggest you do before reading this book!

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Stay Witchy, my friends!

 

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