Tag: 4.5 stars

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Author: Stephanie Oakes
Published: June 9, 2015

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

Kim’s Review:

This is the second time I’ve read Minnow Bly and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first. Stephanie Oakes has a way of drawing the reader into the story and immersing them in the lives of the characters. I identified with Minnow since I also grew up in a cult-like environment. Thankfully my parents had brains and used them to think for themselves and there was no violence, so I wasn’t affected at all like Minnow was. I’ll admit that there is a huge difference between the school I went to and a cult. 😊

I also love how Oakes manages to draw the mystery out to the very end. She kept the scope relatively small and intimate; everything stayed believable and realistic. Minnow was a likable character that I had no problem rooting for even when the possibility of wrongdoing came into play. The idea of her missing hands made her more fascinating. And that brings me to the missing .5 star. I don’t like how the cover has a girl with hands holding a book . . . Minnow doesn’t have hands, why would you put a girl with hands on the cover??? Petty and picky, I know, but I can’t help it! Y’all know that covers mean a lot to me, so you can’t expect me to not analyze the cover! But overall, I really loved this book! Between this book and The Arsonist, I’m at the point that I will pick up anything written by Stephanie Oakes without question. I would definitely reserve this book for older teens, because there is some language. But I think anyone who enjoys brainy, psychological reads will enjoy this book!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK



The Price Guide to the Occult

Author: Leslye Walton
Published: March 13, 2018
288 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it.

In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

Kim’s Review:

I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender several years ago and I really enjoyed it! Plus, the cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! So when I saw The Price Guide to the Occult, the cover jumped out at me and I had to get it. I actually liked it better than I did Ava Lavender! Price Guide was actually far more story-centric than Ava Lavender was.

I wanted so badly to find out what was going on that I barely put this book down. The history of the Blackburn family fascinated me. My inner historian (that’s actually not so inner and incredibly easy to arouse) jumped up and started begging to learn more.

Nor was a likeable character, considering that she’s a teenager who so desperately fights to be differing from what she is. I found myself feeling for her and rooting for her throughout the book. After finding out how horrible her mother is, I felt for her even more. Nor’s grandmother, Judd, may be gruff and bristly, but she really cares for Nor and she became one of my favorite characters. I loved the setting that Walton created and she was able to conjure fantastical elements that still sounded believable.

The fern tattoos were creepy, yet beautiful and I even started considering getting a fern tattoo up my arm . . . ink is addicting, don’t judge me! Overall, this story was interesting and unique and I like how I felt I had never read it before. I think this book is suited perfectly for older teens and honestly, it’s a great one to give to both teens who love to read and to those who don’t like reading. I think this would be a great book to help get them into reading.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


El Deafo

Author: Cece Bell
Published: September 2, 2014
233 Page Graphic Novel

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 11-12, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description from Goodreads
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Jessica’s Review:

I don’t read or review many children’s books. I don’t have children so I feel I can’t give a proper review of them. Until I come across a book (or graphic novel in this case) like El Deafo! This is also my first graphic novel to review. This is a very important graphic novel that is also the semi-autobiographical story of Cece Bell and her experiences of going to school as the only deaf student in her class. Cece wrote and illustrated this graphic novel and she also came up with the name El Deafo herself when she was a child.

El Deafo begins when Cece is four years old; she contracts meningitis and loses her hearing. She uses a hearing aid, but sometimes the words she hears she can’t understand and she must rely on visual clues and lip reading. The graphic novel takes place over several years, so we get to see Cece grow up. We see how Cece adjusts to the hearing aid and over time she overcomes her insecurities.

Bell does a great job giving us Cece’s feelings of insecurities over the course of the novel. I felt everything Cece felt as I was reading it. It is portrayed so well as these were her feelings as a child. You also begin to understand what a deaf person goes through to try and communicate with the hearing world. It can be different for every deaf person, but I felt I learned something reading this graphic novel. It is great for adults too!

I can see this being a great book for younger children. El Deafo can help kids realize that everyone is different and how insecure and lonely others can be. This book could represent any disability that is out there. I did struggle with the ending of the book where Cece becomes the ‘class hero’, as it is not the best situation. I had issues with the teacher leaving the classroom without any adult supervision. That just begs for trouble. But it helped Cece to achieve what she needed.

There is an author’s note at the end where Bell explains some about the Deaf community which is also known as the Deaf culture. Every deaf person is different and there are many levels of deafness.  This is a graphic novel I think everyone should read. We need more novels like this out there to help children with whatever disability they have feel some empowerment.

El Deafo is a graphic novel geared towards children and the illustrations are simple, but the characters are expressive. There is a lot of detail given in each panel. The drawings help with the range of emotions Cece feels throughout the novel. Bell’s characters are rabbits and I found her explanation of this on Goodreads:
Because rabbits have big ears. I thought it would be a perfect visual metaphor to portray myself as the only rabbit in a crowd of rabbits whose ears do not work. Also, as a kid, I felt very conspicuous with my hearing aid cords going up to my ears…and showing those cords going way up over my head into my rabbit ears is pretty close to how I thought others must be perceiving me. Finally, you can’t top rabbits for cuteness!”

El Deafo is recommended.