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The Lying Woods

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Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a t Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout. Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing. Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.


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Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a t Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout. Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing. Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

30 review for The Lying Woods

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    I went into this book expecting a light, mysterious read, based on Elston's fierce following, but I had no clue it would be THAT good. Seriously, how have I not come across her books before now? I need to immediately scour her backlist and catch up on all her other books that I've missed thus far. When I saw the description for this one pop up on NetGalley, it was one of those moments where I hit the button based on a pretty cover and a vague, angsty synopsis. *bats eyes* Weirdly enough, the tre I went into this book expecting a light, mysterious read, based on Elston's fierce following, but I had no clue it would be THAT good. Seriously, how have I not come across her books before now? I need to immediately scour her backlist and catch up on all her other books that I've missed thus far. When I saw the description for this one pop up on NetGalley, it was one of those moments where I hit the button based on a pretty cover and a vague, angsty synopsis. *bats eyes* Weirdly enough, the tree on the cover didn't play into the story quite like I had expected, and this my friends was a very good thing. Owen Foster is in the middle of a prank war with his best friend Jack when he's called into the principal's office of his highly esteemed boarding school and is informed that his father has committed a modern day Ponzi scheme and left his mother and he to face the tumultuous aftershock, while dad escapes relatively unscathed and millions of dollars wealthier. As expected, Owen has to return back to his hometown with his mother in the wake of losing all of their worldly possessions, and this return includes harassment of all kinds, such as death threats and flaming bricks through windows. Did I mention his father's business going under affects nearly every single person in the town? Naturally, no one is welcoming to Owen and his mother, except a recluse named Gus who offers to hire Owen and pay him in exchange for services rendered in renovating his house and working in harvesting the pecan crop this year. As Owen works on the farm, he comes to learn that his father spent a summer working on this very farm, and we slowly get the back story into why Owen's father has done what he has done. I left out a few key plots, such as the letter that Owen receives from his father the day before he leaves Sutton (the fancy pants boarding school), because I want you to experience that part for yourself, and while the tension of that meeting does build over the course of the novel, it's not the main focus. I was blown away by how complex and multi-faceted this book was; it had present day storytelling and flashback moments told at the end of each chapter, explaining what happened that fateful summer in 1999 when Owen's father worked at the farm. There is a bit of budding romance included (past and present), but again, it's not the main focus or done in a way to overshadow all the important elements here. I don't want to say too much, other than just read the book, but it was the type of read that checked all my boxes. The Lying Woods was a mystery that kept me grappling between various outcomes, included emotional depth not typically found in YA contemporary mysteries, and featured a platonic male relationship that was everything I could have hoped for and more. This book was incredibly satisfying, compulsively readable, and included many lessons that are relevant for teens and adults alike. Highly recommended! *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley.

  2. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    The Lying Woods follows teenage protagonist, Owen Foster, in the aftermath of his Father being exposed as a white-collar criminal. Mr. Foster steals millions of dollars from his company - the largest employer in town - and leaves Owen and his mother behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. People in the town are furious, they believe Owen’s Mom knew what he was doing and they begin threatening her and Owen. Forced to leave his posh private school when they can no longer afford the The Lying Woods follows teenage protagonist, Owen Foster, in the aftermath of his Father being exposed as a white-collar criminal. Mr. Foster steals millions of dollars from his company - the largest employer in town - and leaves Owen and his mother behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. People in the town are furious, they believe Owen’s Mom knew what he was doing and they begin threatening her and Owen. Forced to leave his posh private school when they can no longer afford the tuition, Owen returns to his hometown public school where he finds it close to impossible to fit in. A great number of the students come from families directly effected by his Father's crime. Luckily, Owen is able to rekindle a relationship with his old friend and neighbor, Pippa. Through her guidance, Owen begins to understand the destructive scope of his Dad's actions. Angry and confused, Owen vows to learn the truth about what happened. How can the Father he knows and loves actually have done this? He is having a hard time grappling with what seems to be a secret side of his Father's personality. When he first returns to town, Owen secures a job on a local pecan farm and quickly learns that his Dad once worked there as well and and even lived on the property. The owner for the pecan farm, Gus, was not only his Dad's employer but also a mentor to him. Owen feels if he sticks around the farm long enough he may be able to piece together his Father's past; he hopes this will help him to understand the present. This story reads like a hard-hitting contemporary but there is a strong mystery element that runs throughout. The format was great because you get half of the book from Owen's present day perspective and the other half from his Dad's perspective at the time that he worked on the pecan farm and first met Owen's Mom. You get to see their relationship build and learn about the obstacles they overcame to be together. I liked this structure a lot as I felt it was a very creative way to reveal the truth at the heart of this story. Elston’s writing is smooth and organic. She is really a fantastic storyteller. You sit down to read a few pages and the next thing you know hours have gone by. I truly felt drawn into these characters and this story and I needed to know how Mr. Foster could have done what they said he did. It seemed so out of character with the person you meet through his own perspective. The major twist in this gave me chills. It was completely unexpected and then everything unraveled to the truth very quickly. This is a story of first love, redemption, discovering who we really are and what is truly important in our lives. I loved the dual perspectives and also thought it was interesting to explore white-collar crime as a topic in YA. I don't think I have ever read something like this before. Elston has very quickly become one of my 'autobuy' authors and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for giving me the opportunity to read this book early and provide my opinion. I cannot wait for more readers to get their hands on this so I can finally discuss it with some of my book buds! This is definitely going on my favorites list for the year. Original: Starting tonight!!! One of my most anticipated books of the year. I am actually proud of myself for holding off until release month. A feat I frequently FAIL at! I love how they kept the cover to this along the same vein as This is Our Story even though they are completely unrelated. They'll still look great next to each other on my shelf!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stacee

    November 2018 finished copy read: I am a huge fan of Ashley’s words, so I was all over the chance to read this story as a beta reader last year and I was especially excited to revisit the finished copy. Owen is a great MC. He’s confused and rightfully angry and hurt and I enjoyed being in his head while he was navigating a new life. The flashback chapters with Noah are great and I loved seeing the same setting in different times. There’s a small cast of characters, but they pack a mighty punch. November 2018 finished copy read: I am a huge fan of Ashley’s words, so I was all over the chance to read this story as a beta reader last year and I was especially excited to revisit the finished copy. Owen is a great MC. He’s confused and rightfully angry and hurt and I enjoyed being in his head while he was navigating a new life. The flashback chapters with Noah are great and I loved seeing the same setting in different times. There’s a small cast of characters, but they pack a mighty punch. Everyone is fleshed out and known. Plot wise it was so satisfying. I loved the slow reveals and the dual POV. It was a slow build up, but it completely works and I was captivated from the beginning. And yes, I’m being vague on purpose. Overall, it was a another fantastic mystery with fabulous imagery. I’m always here for a book from Ashley and I can’t wait to see what she does next. **Huge thanks to Hyperion for providing an early finished copy free of charge** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ November 2017 beta read: This was amazing. Captivating storyline, characters who were easy to root for, and some really satisfying reveals. I can’t wait to read this one again.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee » Library In The Country

    Guys. I rarely read anything outside of fantasy and science fiction but I loved this book. It was absolutely riveting and had me feeling all sorts of emotional and questioning everything. Despite being a mystery, this was a totally atmospheric book that had me feeling some serious Raven Cycle vibes. You don't want to skip this one! This story follows Owen Foster, who discovers his father has vanished and embezzled millions from his company and its employees. After Owen is pulled from his boarding Guys. I rarely read anything outside of fantasy and science fiction but I loved this book. It was absolutely riveting and had me feeling all sorts of emotional and questioning everything. Despite being a mystery, this was a totally atmospheric book that had me feeling some serious Raven Cycle vibes. You don't want to skip this one! This story follows Owen Foster, who discovers his father has vanished and embezzled millions from his company and its employees. After Owen is pulled from his boarding school, he is thrust back into small town life and must face the people whose lives his father ruined. The Lying Woods has so many captivating elements but most of all is the alternating timeline. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story shifts from present day Owen to the summer of 1999, when Owen's parents meet. I found myself questioning every little bit of information we gather between timelines - most of all, how could the young man we see falling in love with Owen's mother become so terrible in present day? Don't worry folks, you'll get your answer and you will not see it coming . I was shook! Seriously, all I wanted to do was get home from work so I could finish this, it had me that enthralled! Additionally, I really appreciated the growth we see in Owen and his characterization throughout the book. From his fierce protectiveness of his mother, to his growing relationship with Pippa, to his compassion for those his father harmed. Owen just wants to fit in again and find answers to his father's actions, but to do so he must let down his own barriers and accept the truth of what has happened. There were so many emotional scenes for me in this book. Namely: Gus' grief, Noah's love for Maggie and selflessness, Owen and Pippa after the auction and the whole diner scene was just SO MUCH. The Lying Woods is delightful and mysterious. As someone who tends to stick within her SFF bubble, this was a pleasant derailment from Review copy provided by Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley and Storygram Tours in exchange for an honest review Follow me! Blog | Bookstagram | Twitter | Tumblr

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I really loved this book. That’s about as eloquent as I’m capable of being after that emotional rollercoaster.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)

    I love a good mystery, especially one that is shrouded in family secrecy and lies. The Lying Woods was so much fun. Great characters that were hard to resist and a storyline that flashed back and forth from present day to the past that was just as captivating and shrouded in mystery as the present day mystery. I loved how not only the stories but the characters themselves intertwined and came together. With shocking discoveries and revelations, this one kept me turning the pages and on my toes. I love a good mystery, especially one that is shrouded in family secrecy and lies. The Lying Woods was so much fun. Great characters that were hard to resist and a storyline that flashed back and forth from present day to the past that was just as captivating and shrouded in mystery as the present day mystery. I loved how not only the stories but the characters themselves intertwined and came together. With shocking discoveries and revelations, this one kept me turning the pages and on my toes. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jay G

    Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... 3.5/5 Stars *Thank you to the publishers for the copy in exchange for my honest review* Owen Foster has everything he's ever wanted but, one day it's all taken away when he discovers that his father skipped town after stealing all of the money from the employees working for the oil company he owns. Now, Owen must face the after math of his father's actions, moving back to the small town Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... 3.5/5 Stars *Thank you to the publishers for the copy in exchange for my honest review* Owen Foster has everything he's ever wanted but, one day it's all taken away when he discovers that his father skipped town after stealing all of the money from the employees working for the oil company he owns. Now, Owen must face the after math of his father's actions, moving back to the small town he grew up in. People aren't exactly happy to have him back and his mother begins receiving threats. That's when Owen stumbles onto Preacher Woods and meets Gus, who offers him a job helping to harvest pecans. As time goes on, Owen learns more secrets about the small town, his father and where he may have run off to. The book was extremely slow for the first half, but as the story progresses and you slowly discover things along with Owen you can't put the book down. I really liked Owen as a main character, I honestly didn't think I would end up liking him as much as I did but I found him to be very relateable. I loved the dual narrative between Noah and Owen. I enjoyed the flashbacks to Noah during the summer he met Maggie the most and found myself wanting more of his perspective. The way everything came together was amazing and so well done. I definitely did not see the big twist coming and it had my jaw dropping on the floor.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ALEXA

    I can honestly tell you that I had no idea what to expect going into this one, but that was a good thing! While it starts off a little slower and it took a number of chapters before I warmed up to the main character, it’s definitely a really well-written contemporary mystery. It builds up really well to the big twists and turns, and I was very impressed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wing-yee (bibliomeds)

    my body is ready for this one. COME AT ME BRO

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Review also found on my blog here: https://booksonthebookshelf.wordpress... Thank you to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for my eARC copy of this book. Forced to leave the elite boarding school he has attended for the past several years, Owen has no choice but to withdraw from the school and return to the family home with his mother. Owen and his mother are shunned from the members of their community as a result of the crimes his father has committed. I enjoyed the story overall in the book. The stor Review also found on my blog here: https://booksonthebookshelf.wordpress... Thank you to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for my eARC copy of this book. Forced to leave the elite boarding school he has attended for the past several years, Owen has no choice but to withdraw from the school and return to the family home with his mother. Owen and his mother are shunned from the members of their community as a result of the crimes his father has committed. I enjoyed the story overall in the book. The story is told from Owen’s point of view in the present but also from Noah’s point of view in the past, who is Owen’s Dad, which made it interesting to read from the two different timelines and from their different perspectives. Another character I quite enjoyed reading about was Gus whom Noah and Owen worked for. It was interesting reading Owen’s point of view as it is refreshing to see things from a child’s perspective. I enjoyed his personality and his determination to uncover the truth about what really happened. Reading from the views of the past as told by Noah was interesting as well, and we get glimpses into his life and when he first met Owen’s mother. We read about their love story which was nice to get a glimpse into. Overall, I found that the two different timelines of Owen and his father Noah tied together nicely to tell the story of what truly happened.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Niki

    I believe this officially makes Ashley Elston my favorite Young Adult Thriller writer. Possibly favorite YA author period. Not only are her mysteries twisted and surprising every time, her teenage characters are so real and it always surprises me. My number one pet peeve in YA mysteries is teenage characters who act like they’re 35 and totally capable of anything, screw adults and the police. Elston’s characters are not like that. They do they’re best but they do get help when they’re in over th I believe this officially makes Ashley Elston my favorite Young Adult Thriller writer. Possibly favorite YA author period. Not only are her mysteries twisted and surprising every time, her teenage characters are so real and it always surprises me. My number one pet peeve in YA mysteries is teenage characters who act like they’re 35 and totally capable of anything, screw adults and the police. Elston’s characters are not like that. They do they’re best but they do get help when they’re in over their heads, and because of that her stories can be more complex and adult which puts them on par with adult thrillers in terms of how well written they are. Also, with the teens getting help when needed, they are still refreshingly mature. Not even just the main characters, but the side characters as well. When it was revealed Owen would be returning to the public high school in his hometown, which is filled with people whose lives were ruined by Owen’s dad, I audibly groaned along with Owen because I was prepared to read a whole bunch of stereotypical bullying scenes where our narrator gets shoved into lockers or tripped in the hallways everyday. Sure Owen doesn’t get welcomed back to the school with open arms, but these teens are going through extreme hardships that are very relevant to our real world. They’re watching their parents go into financial crisis and they’re scared and they need to put their anger towards something, but they still try. They try to control themselves and they try to be understanding. That’s how teens are, and Elston choosing to write them in such a realistic way makes her books instant buys for me. Also, yeah there’s a fantastic mystery going on as well. I flew through this book in a day and there’s some stellar plot twists, one of which had me putting the book down and saying, “oh my god.” out loud. What more can you ask for?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brittany (The Book Addict's Guide/Novelly Yours)

    Initial Impressions 9/9/18: This was an interesting read! At first it read a little more realistic fiction than mystery/thriller but the end was really packed with punches! There were some clues and the mystery along the way but it wasn't really about investigating and discovering like a lot of mystery/thrillers are, so when reveals and twists started popping up, it was a huge surprise! The ending was really interesting and I loved how it all came together. I love those moments where facts are p Initial Impressions 9/9/18: This was an interesting read! At first it read a little more realistic fiction than mystery/thriller but the end was really packed with punches! There were some clues and the mystery along the way but it wasn't really about investigating and discovering like a lot of mystery/thrillers are, so when reveals and twists started popping up, it was a huge surprise! The ending was really interesting and I loved how it all came together. I love those moments where facts are presented and you realize you should have known them the whole time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jen Ryland

    A quick aside: I had no idea what this book was about and don't think I've read Ashley Elston before. So if that also describes you, I want to say that this is NOT a paranormal/ghost story/spooky story. Clearly those of you familiar with the author knew what to expect but I did not... It's a good story. It's like a "character who returns to a small town and unravels family secrets" story. Which is a kind of story that I really like, but it just took me a bit to shift my expectations to the right A quick aside: I had no idea what this book was about and don't think I've read Ashley Elston before. So if that also describes you, I want to say that this is NOT a paranormal/ghost story/spooky story. Clearly those of you familiar with the author knew what to expect but I did not... It's a good story. It's like a "character who returns to a small town and unravels family secrets" story. Which is a kind of story that I really like, but it just took me a bit to shift my expectations to the right place. Okay, onward with my thoughts on this story that was good, just not what I expected. Owen's dad defrauds the small town where he and Owen's mom met and then vanishes, leaving Owen and his mom broke and confused. They have to return to the town, move in with a relative and face the scorn hatred of seemingly everyone. There's a mystery in the present: where is Owen's dad and is he guilty? But there's also a mystery (and a narrative) in the past. I wasn't sure about that aspect of the story at first and it took me some time to warm up to the second narrative. If you're not a regular reader of mysteries you may need to have some patience, because the entire story takes some time to set up. But in the end, I think it's worth it. The characters are interesting and well-written, and the mysteries well-crafted. Owen shows a lot of growth (at the outset, he's kind of a typical teenager - resentful about what is happening to him and telling everyone who will listen that he's a victim too.) He grows a lot over the course of the story, which was great. The small-town atmosphere was good, too. Definitely recommend to mystery fans! Read more of my reviews on JenRyland.com! Check out my Bookstagram! Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review! .

  14. 4 out of 5

    Resch Reads

    4.5 STARS I immensely enjoyed this book, as my first Ashley Elston book, it blew me out of the water! Ashley truly has a craft for flawlessly combining overlapping story lines, tangled emotions, and complex characters into a cohesive story that hooks the reader and leaves you captivated and wanting more. Once I started the book, I couldn't put it down. I was hypnotized by the endless questions, when one was solved, not only would another pop up but there were at least five others floating around 4.5 STARS I immensely enjoyed this book, as my first Ashley Elston book, it blew me out of the water! Ashley truly has a craft for flawlessly combining overlapping story lines, tangled emotions, and complex characters into a cohesive story that hooks the reader and leaves you captivated and wanting more. Once I started the book, I couldn't put it down. I was hypnotized by the endless questions, when one was solved, not only would another pop up but there were at least five others floating around in my mind. This is what I believe makes for an excellent mystery story, when I am in a constant state of questioning and suspense. But not so much suspense that the whole narrative is revolving around a build up you know is going to let you down. Ashley brings in romance, family drama, high school drama, and family friends to graph a compelling plot that I want to know it all...at once! Give me the answers! All the characters are multidimensional but none top Owen, who is trying to navigate high school, scandal, betrayal, and secrets. Oh the secrets in this book gave me whiplash, and left me utterly speechless. But while all this is going on, Owen is surprising relate-able and I think this is Ashley's ability to portray the emotional struggle of her characters. I was drowning in the shock and revelations right along side Owen, I felt his frustration and struggle for answers and in return I sympathized for him and wanted to cheer him on in his search for the truth. The mystery is thick and when everything was revealed, I had to actually pause for a moment because WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! I did not see that coming, I was left reeling while desperately clinging to hope. No, no, this isn't your typical gruesome, murder mystery. This is the type of mystery that has you trying to piece together clues but the puzzle piece that holds solution is elusive. I was left guessing how everything was going to play out till the very end. And in all honesty, as I closed the book, I was left a sh*t eating grin on my face because d*mn that was a good book. I will definitely be re-reading it down the road!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction I always think I don’t really like mysteries, but then I read a book like this and it blows me away and I just want MORE! I have no idea how to review this book without giving things away, so I’m actually not going to say much at all except that I read this in one day (practically in one sitting), and I LOVED every minute of the reading experience. Okay, at the very beginning, I wasn’t so sure I was going to like Owen This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction I always think I don’t really like mysteries, but then I read a book like this and it blows me away and I just want MORE! I have no idea how to review this book without giving things away, so I’m actually not going to say much at all except that I read this in one day (practically in one sitting), and I LOVED every minute of the reading experience. Okay, at the very beginning, I wasn’t so sure I was going to like Owen (the MC) and his friends, and there were a few moments when I thought certain characters were being ridiculously judgy toward the Owen (and his responses weren’t always great). But the story was engrossing, and I was completely invested in these characters. The mysteries of the past are expertly intertwined with the very real present-day mystery in Owen’s life and the result is … sort of genius. I might just have to become a mystery reader after all… ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Mandina

    The synopsis of this was definitely one that sounded good, but concerned me as one I wasn't quite sure how much I would like it. However my doubts were definitely misguided, because I really enjoyed this one. The author did a great job in throwing in lots of hints and clues throughout the story, including chapters from Owen's father's viewpoint. Obviously those chapters were there to help you figure things out, or to at least add details to the story that would have been just an info dump from c The synopsis of this was definitely one that sounded good, but concerned me as one I wasn't quite sure how much I would like it. However my doubts were definitely misguided, because I really enjoyed this one. The author did a great job in throwing in lots of hints and clues throughout the story, including chapters from Owen's father's viewpoint. Obviously those chapters were there to help you figure things out, or to at least add details to the story that would have been just an info dump from characters in Owen's present day. Even with those additional details, I was still surprised at some of the twists and what exactly Owen's father was guilty of, as well as why he did the things he did. It was hard to see just how his mother could be so believing of his father being guilty, based on the entries from his father, and how much they seemed to be in love. But then when you find out just what really was happening, it all clicked into place. A lot of "A-HA!" moments for me. This was very hard to put down as I was reading. Each chapter gave just enough new drama or clues that I had so much trouble putting it down when I wanted to know the answers to whatever new question had arisen, or figure out where those clues could take the case. I always get irritated with characters being treated poorly for something someone else in their family did, like in this case, Owen getting pushed around because of what his father did. I liked how the author did bring in the other teens and their opinions and feelings, and how some of them did understand that about him, even if it took them a bit to come to the realization. And of course I enjoyed all the New Orleans and Louisiana tidbits in the story, since it is one of my favorite places! This review was originally posted on Lisa Loves Literature.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    Anything Ashley writes gets auto-added to my "must-read" list. Her books are all awesomely suspenseful YA. UPDATE 5/2/18: So I just got done reading the ARC... Go preorder it. Now. I'll wait. Man, this book was frickin fantastic.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Grace (gracefulreads)

    3.75-4 Stars Wow. Owen’s story is not the only story in THE LYING WOODS. It is told in alternating chapters of Owen’s present-day high school experience in Lake Cane and two other teens’ experience there before Owen was born. THE LYING WOODS is a not a frightening thriller like I had expected, but a slow, calculated mystery. From the start, readers are left to wonder whether Owen’s father is truly guilty of all that he is accused. The dynamics of the small town are fascinating in of themselves, an 3.75-4 Stars Wow. Owen’s story is not the only story in THE LYING WOODS. It is told in alternating chapters of Owen’s present-day high school experience in Lake Cane and two other teens’ experience there before Owen was born. THE LYING WOODS is a not a frightening thriller like I had expected, but a slow, calculated mystery. From the start, readers are left to wonder whether Owen’s father is truly guilty of all that he is accused. The dynamics of the small town are fascinating in of themselves, and the attitudes of everyone toward Owen and his mom is shocking. I enjoyed Owen and his mom’s relationship and how it grew throughout the story. I have to commend the entirety of the story for focusing on family, whether in the present or the past. Even with a mysterious setting and a certain chilling atmosphere to it, THE LYING WOODS showcases many realistic character relationships. The exceptional relationships in this book go beyond Owen and his mom. Owen’s expanding relationship with his childhood best friend, Pippa, was very entertaining to follow throughout the story. Even David and Detective Hill, who began as characters I disliked, grew on me. Owen’s relationship with Gus was adorable and one of my favorite parts of this story. I enjoyed Noah and Maggie together from the past chapters probably more than even Owen and Pippa. Elston did an incredible job making me adore many characters in this book in just about 300 pages. Mystery is not my genre of choice, and I tend to avoid it. Elston also included alternate timelines which I usually dislike, but it worked out incredibly well in this book. Every once in a while a mystery blows me away, and THE LYING WOODS did just that with its ending. While I found the first two-thirds of the book to be slow yet entertaining, it was the last third that shocked me and made me rethink everything. It is a short enough book that you are never bored, and there is so much that I did not see coming. I highly recommend THE LYING WOODS to readers of mystery and those who are typically reluctant to pick up the genre like I am. I was so invested in this town by the time this book ended. Elston created a masterpiece full of little puzzle pieces that do not come together in your mind until the very end.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this book.  I requested it because it was listed as a mystery.  I feel like it was so much more though.  It wasn't a mystery in the same way as some of the books I read.  This one had such a focus on relationships, especially family. The story is told by Owen, but there are sections after Owen's that go back into the past and are told by his dad.  These start off with his dad meeting and working for Gus and then meeting Owen's mom.  It's how their rel I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this book.  I requested it because it was listed as a mystery.  I feel like it was so much more though.  It wasn't a mystery in the same way as some of the books I read.  This one had such a focus on relationships, especially family. The story is told by Owen, but there are sections after Owen's that go back into the past and are told by his dad.  These start off with his dad meeting and working for Gus and then meeting Owen's mom.  It's how their relationship started. Owen is at boarding school when his mom shows up and tells him that they have to leave.  Owen's dad took off with money from his company that wasn't his.  He left them with nothing except for a note that Owen got in the mail the day before.  He doesn't tell his mom about it though.  Owen has to move back home, but not into their massive home.  Owen and his mom move into his aunt's house, even though his mom and aunt don't get along well.  Owen's mom is getting threats, everyone thinks she knew about the theft, and their house and possessions are being auctioned off. Owen struggles to fit in when he gets back.  Everyone is mad at him, too.  Most of the town lost all their savings because of Owen's dad.  He does find a friend in his old best friend, Pippa, but it takes awhile for them to connect again.  He also meets Gus.  Gus gives him a truck to use and a job.  Owen spends a lot of time there with him. Owen wants to know if his dad is guilty and if so, why he did it.  He starts looking into the business and his dad's past.  We see most of the past in the sections at the ends of the chapters.  Owen will eventually find out more than he expected.  There are a lot of secrets that need to come out. I gave this one 4 stars.  Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for my copy for review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Falk

    Wow, this book was fantastic! Owen Foster is only worried about the next prank his friend is going to pull on him at the prestigious boarding school he attends when he gets news that will change his life forever. His dad has been accused of embezzling money from his company and flees town, leaving Owen and his mother to take the blame for what he has done. Owen moves back home to a small town in Louisiana where many of the people have been financially devastated by his dad’s actions. Owen soon dis Wow, this book was fantastic! Owen Foster is only worried about the next prank his friend is going to pull on him at the prestigious boarding school he attends when he gets news that will change his life forever. His dad has been accused of embezzling money from his company and flees town, leaving Owen and his mother to take the blame for what he has done. Owen moves back home to a small town in Louisiana where many of the people have been financially devastated by his dad’s actions. Owen soon discovers people within the community are not welcoming of his arrival back at school and around town. However, Owen manages to find an unlikely friendship with Gus, the owner of a nearby pecan farm where Owen begins to work after school. Owen finds out that his dad also worked at the pecan farm one summer and at the end of each chapter, there is a flashback to what happened that summer. Even though this book is a young adult book, I think this book would appeal to most adults as well. It doesn’t have any of the angsty, teenage drama that some might expect of a young adult book. Instead, this book has a bit of mystery, some romance, a twist of southern charm, and an ending that I will admit may have made me cry a little bit. Highly recommended!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    All I can say is the ending saved this book for me. “The Lying Woods” begins with Owen’s life falling apart after he learns that his dad ran off after stealing millions of dollars leaving him and his mom to pick up the pieces. As they try to rebuild he finds himself working on a farm where his dad once lived and as past and present collide he learns there’s more going on than just the mystery surrounding his father. So this book was pretty average and really slow with the only parts I really loo All I can say is the ending saved this book for me. “The Lying Woods” begins with Owen’s life falling apart after he learns that his dad ran off after stealing millions of dollars leaving him and his mom to pick up the pieces. As they try to rebuild he finds himself working on a farm where his dad once lived and as past and present collide he learns there’s more going on than just the mystery surrounding his father. So this book was pretty average and really slow with the only parts I really looked forward to reading were the flashbacks to Owen’s parents and seeing their love story blossom as the boy from the wrong side of the tracks fell hard for the debutante queen. Even the moment with Gus and his late wife were so sweet making the return to the present all the more frustrating because there were a lot of moments where it was the same few beats every couple of chapters making the book for the most part rather boring but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily predictable. As for the mystery I think it was a wise choice to play it out they way that they did because once you figured it out you had that aha moment and the devastation that follows but until then the temptation to cheat and skip ahead is strong. This isn’t a bad book it just suffers from having a better backstory than a current one and for that I can’t rate it any higher than the generous 3 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    I think I’ll forever be addicted to Ashley’s books. Full review to come.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    Owen Foster's life makes a U-turn when his mother comes to his elite boarding school and tells him that his father has embezzled from his company, bankrupting it, and leaving his local investors and employees broke too. His father has disappeared leaving Owen and his mother to take the blame and be the target of many of the people in town who lost their livelihoods when Owen's father disappeared. Owen has to leave his friends behind and go back home for the rest of his senior year. Naturally, he Owen Foster's life makes a U-turn when his mother comes to his elite boarding school and tells him that his father has embezzled from his company, bankrupting it, and leaving his local investors and employees broke too. His father has disappeared leaving Owen and his mother to take the blame and be the target of many of the people in town who lost their livelihoods when Owen's father disappeared. Owen has to leave his friends behind and go back home for the rest of his senior year. Naturally, he doesn't fit in at his school and is the target of angry kids whose parents are hurting. His only possible friend is Pippa who was the girl next door and his best friend until his father moved them across town to a mansion and sent Owen away to school. His only refuge is a pecan farm outside of town. The owner offers him an after-school job. The owner also tells him things he didn't know about his mother and her romance with a guy he had hired to work in the orchard. The story changes viewpoint and flashes back to 1999 when Noah tells about how he wound up in this small town working for Gus and met and fell in love with the girl who would someday be Owen's mother. It also tells about Gus and his love Abby who is dying of cancer when Noah meets her and gets the job. This was an enjoyable mystery with many twists and turns. I liked Owen who was confused but still determined to protect his mother and find out what happened to his father and his father's company. He feels guilty when he learns that all of his advantages from boarding school to fancy vacations were paid for by money his father stole. He also feels bad that his mother is being harassed and threatened for something she didn't do and that they are being forced to live with his mother's older sister. I liked the way the story alternated between the present and the past because both stories had interesting characters and romance.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Su

    The writer is such a good storyteller because I was absorbed in every single page of this book. The main character is Owen who was at the boarding school and the biggest thing he had to worry about was what kind of prank his roommate/best friend would pull to get back at him. Until his Mom showed up at the school and broke the news that his father had disappeared along with the millions of dollars from his company. Owen had to come back to his town as they could no longer afford him to be in the The writer is such a good storyteller because I was absorbed in every single page of this book. The main character is Owen who was at the boarding school and the biggest thing he had to worry about was what kind of prank his roommate/best friend would pull to get back at him. Until his Mom showed up at the school and broke the news that his father had disappeared along with the millions of dollars from his company. Owen had to come back to his town as they could no longer afford him to be in the boarding school. The whole town hated them because most of them worked for his father and what he did ruined many people's lives. The story went back and forth between the present and the summer in 1999 when his parents met. The more I read, my interest kept getting piqued because Owen's Dad that everyone hated and the guy that his mother met in summer 1999 sounded so different. So what happened? The story is nothing earth-shattering or life-changing but it has all the elements that I love in a book. There were the mystery and suspenseful elements that made me keep turning the pages until I reached to the end. Then there was also a very heart-warming love story. All the characters in this book were interesting. I mean, how can a character that only appeared in not more than 5 pages of the book be interesting? But the writer somehow managed to make it happen and that's another thing I love about this book. There was one mystery that didn't get unfold in the end but even that couldn't stop me from loving this book. I think this is going to be my favorite out of all the books I have read in 2018.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    When Owen is yanked out of his boarding school and told about his father's transgressions, he's hurt and confused. It doesn't help that all the kids and even adults of his hometown despise him and his family over what his father did. As if losing your house and belongings isn't enough, Owen finds out that his mom has been getting threatened by someone in town. With no one to trust and no place that's really safe, Owen finds solace in helping a pecan rancher with his farm. I have to admit, I'm not When Owen is yanked out of his boarding school and told about his father's transgressions, he's hurt and confused. It doesn't help that all the kids and even adults of his hometown despise him and his family over what his father did. As if losing your house and belongings isn't enough, Owen finds out that his mom has been getting threatened by someone in town. With no one to trust and no place that's really safe, Owen finds solace in helping a pecan rancher with his farm. I have to admit, I'm not a huge mystery reader. However, something about this story called to me. I'm glad I picked this book up because WOW! I wasn't expecting that. The author has a way of weaving the past with the present and giving the readers a sense of understanding, while still managing to blindside us with the truth. I'm still kind of floored by the revelations that the author made during the story. One thing that I really liked about this story was that it was a mix of mystery, romance, self-discovery, friendship, and family all rolled into one amazing story. I honestly thought I was just signing up for a mystery novel, but the author was able to put a lot on the table without any one thing overshadowing the other. The story was really well-written and I honestly don't know how I've gone this long without reading one of her books before. This is clearly something I need to remedy soon. I really liked the tie-in with Owen working at Gus' pecan orchard and the flashbacks to when Owen's father worked at Gus' orchard when he was the same age. The fact that we got the past and present timeline in this story really helped pull everything together and gave a better understanding to characters that we might not have known much about otherwise. I honestly could go on and on about this story. There was just so much depth to it that it was so hard to put the book down once I picked it up. If you see this book at your local bookstore or library, be sure to pick it up and give it a read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Grade: C- An ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: After quite enjoying Elston's This Is Our Story, I was excited to see what The Lying Woods would hold. While it's an interesting read, it doesn't have the same drive and thrill that This Is Our Story did. The story is narrated by Owen in the present day and a guy named Noah back in 1999, both of whom form a working relationship with Gus Trudeau. Noah's sections were Grade: C- An ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: After quite enjoying Elston's This Is Our Story, I was excited to see what The Lying Woods would hold. While it's an interesting read, it doesn't have the same drive and thrill that This Is Our Story did. The story is narrated by Owen in the present day and a guy named Noah back in 1999, both of whom form a working relationship with Gus Trudeau. Noah's sections were never that interesting to me; his voice was bland and uncompelling. (Is that even a word?) There are several character relationships at play, and honestly, none of them felt deep enough for me to care. I couldn't feel any real connection between Owen and his friends or Pippa or even his mom. His aunt was a caricature. What drove This Is Our Story was primarily the whodunnit aspect, and there were enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing. The mystery here was a bit more straightforward and lacked complexity. I had zero guesses as to who had done anything, and I kind of felt like I didn't even know what I was waiting for to be revealed. Then when the big reveal came, it was way too late in the story with just too little evidence. Content warnings: Plenty of foul language. Vague references to sex. Some violence and threats. The Verdict: Frankly, a bit disappointing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allison Covington

    First, I’d like to thank NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. Owen Foster has everything he could possibly want: He attends a prestige boarding school, spends holidays traveling, and has a great group of friends....until one day, everything changes. His mom shows up on campus to bring him home because his dad has run off with millions of dollars betraying basically his whole home town. Since his education was funded on stolen money, he must return home to a place w First, I’d like to thank NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. Owen Foster has everything he could possibly want: He attends a prestige boarding school, spends holidays traveling, and has a great group of friends....until one day, everything changes. His mom shows up on campus to bring him home because his dad has run off with millions of dollars betraying basically his whole home town. Since his education was funded on stolen money, he must return home to a place where he is now a stranger and unwanted. Many people believe he and his mom know where the money is and know where his dad is hiding. Owen finally lands a job in an orchard field working for the town recluse Gus. While there, he begins to connect with the past and learns not everything is always as it seems. Will he be able to accept what he learns? This book kept me guessing the whole time. At the turning point of the book, I seriously gasped out loud. This was such a great read. I can’t wait for Elston’s next book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angie Crabtree-Liezel and Angie's Book Blog

    This book surprised me. I was a little bit hesitant to read it. I’ve been going through a suspense/ fantasy kick and I have to admit this one didn’t sound like my cup of tea. I have never been so wrong in my whole life. This book was fantastic. It even had suspense in it. I couldn’t put it down. From the very first page I was held captive by the story. I became so invested in these characters that it was sad when the book was over. I surprised myself by having tears in my eyes at certain parts. This book surprised me. I was a little bit hesitant to read it. I’ve been going through a suspense/ fantasy kick and I have to admit this one didn’t sound like my cup of tea. I have never been so wrong in my whole life. This book was fantastic. It even had suspense in it. I couldn’t put it down. From the very first page I was held captive by the story. I became so invested in these characters that it was sad when the book was over. I surprised myself by having tears in my eyes at certain parts. Laughing my ass off with the characters. Completely enjoying this book with every page I read. Owen, Pippa, Gus, Abby, Noah, and Maggie became my friends. Their stories were real, flawed. I do want a side story about Gus and Abby. I need to know more about them even though I know it will crush me. Thank you Ashley Elston for writing such a beautiful, tragic and suspenseful read. This is definitely one book that I’ll never forget about.

  29. 4 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves \u0026#x1f495; books\u0026#x1f4d6;, cats\u0026#x1f63b; and naps\u0026#x1f6cf;

    Oh Ashley Elston, your books keep getting better and better. Owen’s mother pulls him out of boarding school with the news his father has fled town with half the town’s money. Seems his father ran a Ponzi scheme. Now Owen’s mansion has been seized and his mom has been getting threats. Back at public school, classmates treat Owen like he’s the thief. Past and present collide when Owen starts working for Gus, the same man his dad worked for when he met his mom. THE LYING WOODS starts off as a story o Oh Ashley Elston, your books keep getting better and better. Owen’s mother pulls him out of boarding school with the news his father has fled town with half the town’s money. Seems his father ran a Ponzi scheme. Now Owen’s mansion has been seized and his mom has been getting threats. Back at public school, classmates treat Owen like he’s the thief. Past and present collide when Owen starts working for Gus, the same man his dad worked for when he met his mom. THE LYING WOODS starts off as a story of family betrayal and becomes a mystery with a resolution I defy any reader to imagine. Don’t read too many reviews, the less you know the better. With THE LYING WOODS, Ashley Elston is now a must pre-order writer. Run to the nearest bookstore or to Amazon and grab your copy. While your at it, all her other books are worth reading. In fact, I’m about to re-read every one.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    After reading a couple of heavy sci-fi/fantasy books, I was in the mood for an intriguing mystery.  I'd never read anything else by this author, but rest assured, I plan on correcting that.  I finished this book in less than two days (while I was supposed to be working on several other projects), but just couldn't put it down.  The dual narrative between Owen and Noah is done so well, and goes about revealing the layers of secrets at a perfect pace.  A small town setting and and secluded pecan fa After reading a couple of heavy sci-fi/fantasy books, I was in the mood for an intriguing mystery.  I'd never read anything else by this author, but rest assured, I plan on correcting that.  I finished this book in less than two days (while I was supposed to be working on several other projects), but just couldn't put it down.  The dual narrative between Owen and Noah is done so well, and goes about revealing the layers of secrets at a perfect pace.  A small town setting and and secluded pecan farm only add to the years-old secrets.  With the shocking situation Owen and his mother find themselves in, being stripped of everything they own and having to endure horrible comments and treatment from both adults and teens affected by Owen's father, it's incredibly easy to relate to them.  Rather than wallowing in self-pity over everything he'd lost, I admired Owen's determination to better his situation, help his mother, and find his father. Upon reaching the end of the book, I had several theories, but the twist came as a surprise.  Warning:  Whatever you do, don't flip to the end of this novel and spoil it for yourself! If you're looking for an absolutely un-put-downable mystery with deliciously surprising twists, this is your book.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. 

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