Friday, December 2, 2016

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own. 

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?


This tiny book packed a hard punch... While it was wrote for Middle Graders, I found it to be very inspiring. The theme was high fantasy with magic laced between each word, but overall, the concept was very dark and eerie with a lot of meaning. 

It's a story about a young girl in a hospital for the sick. She sees winged horses in the mirrors and eventually finds one in the garden. There is a darkness that hovers over their safety though. In order to protect the horse, Emmaline must bring color to the gray atmosphere. It's a rich story about hope and dreams. A historical fiction that meets Narnia of the sorts.

You can't go into this one without an imagination though... The story has a strong foundation, but it's up to the reader on how they interpret the Author's words. For me, the black horse was death. I felt that darkness looming over Emma just threatening to take her life at anytime. I think for others though it could symbolize many things. It's all about perspective, age, maturity, and so on. I found myself truly touched after finishing this one... It really opened my eyes to the world around me. I found myself observing the color more and being appreciative for the simplest things. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? 


This was one of the most beautiful, thought provoking young adult books I've ever read. There were lessons within the words and grit beneath the surface. It was an intense book that pulled at my heartstrings and opened my eyes to a subject that I was blind to... It pulled me in with it's lyrical prose and kept me captivated with deep rooted emotion. 

Natasha and Daniel are both familiar with immigration... One has family pushing for the American dream, while the other is fighting deportation struggles. When their worlds collide, it brings an unexpected connection that leads to an emotional, passionate whirlwind romance. Together they participate in a questionnaire to prove that love can be scientific. In just one day they fall in love and embed inspiration in one another. It was a unique concept that brought so much to the table. 

This was my first book by Nicola Yoon and I honestly can't say enough good things. She took an intense subject with ugly situations and somehow turned them into inspirational beauty. The words made me stop and think and there were lines that I indulged in more than once. I think that especially during this time ... all readers need to give it a read. It's educational, romantic, and everything a ya contemporary should be.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


This was the perfect October read. It had a creep factor, tons of mystery, and a thrilling plot that held my attention through the final page. It had plenty of twists and turns and a jaw dropping reveal at the end. I found it to be a fast paced and filled with lust, charm, gore, and thrills. 

Ella's mom is about to get remarried and along with a stepdad comes a gorgeous stepbrother. He is almost too perfect. Good looks, great ideas, overly friendly... It's easy to get wrapped up in the charm. Especially when he is helping her figure out the mystery behind all of the crazy in her life. Shortly before the marriage... dark, twisted things begin to happen. Black flowers show up at the cemetery, muddy prints find their way to mirrors, bloody hand prints drip from the walls, and sick twisted secrets begin to surface... It all builds up and eventually brings Ella crumbling down with it. It pushes her to believe lies and it forces her to think the worst of herself. While there are a few suspects only one stood out to me. Unfortunately, I was wrong and left dumbfounded. I sort of expected it, but I definitely didn't want to believe it...

Looking back at the book as a whole... I am pleasantly surprised by the strong character development and rich content. The Author really packed a lot in 272 pages and for that I am thankful. I thought the story was unique and brought a lot to the table. It was diverse in that it had a little bit for each reader. Whether you like paranormal, romance, horror, thrillers, or ya contemporary you will find a piece to love in this story. I highly recommend it. Especially during the Halloween time!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Walk on Earth a Stranger (Gold Seer Trilogy) by Rae Carson

"Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes."

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.



When I was growing up, I became slightly obsessed with a game called The Oregon Trail... It was a Western survival game with tough choices about health, animals, supplies, and mapping out routes. This book brings that game to life (well life in the book world that is).

Leah/Lee is a on the journey of a lifetime. She loses everything she knows and decides to flee to the West with her best friend soon to be love interest. In order to escape without being noticed she has to don men's clothing and act as a lad. She works for her passage and eventually finds what she is looking for. It's a unique story with emotional turmoil and charming twists. I found myself intrigued and fascinated by the western frontier. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and when I finished, I instantly went to purchase the next book.

It was a historical fiction with fantasy elements, a tough heroine, and a slow burn romance. It captured the essence of a time period and was able to bring aw upon the gold panning days. I fell in love and think readers of all ages will too. It's a total MUST READ! 

The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders

From the New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Translation comes this charming illustrated collection of more than fifty expressions from around the globe that explore the nuances of language. From the hilarious and romantic to the philosophical and literal, the idioms, proverbs, and adages in The Illustrated Book of Sayings reveal the remarkable diversity, humor, and poignancy of the world's languages and cultures.


I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but was pleasantly surprised. It was an educational book that explored the phrases of different cultures. My husband and I had a great time guessing what each phrase meant... Some were easy, while others were a tad more difficult. The illustrations were gorgeous and really added to the overall reading experience. It was unique and fun and I would definitely recommend it to all readers looking to branch out and explore a different language.

*Shoutout to Random House (Ten Speed Press) for the review copy!*

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin

It's October 1942, in Oslo, Norway. Fifteen-year-old Ilse Stern is waiting to meet boy-next-door Hermann Rod for their first date. She was beginning to think he'd never ask her; she's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. 

But Hermann won't be able to make it tonight. What Ilse doesn't know is that Hermann is secretly working in the Resistance, helping Norwegian Jews flee the country to escape the Nazis. The work is exhausting and unpredictable, full of late nights and code words and lies to Hermann's parents, to his boss... to Ilse. 

And as life under German occupation becomes even more difficult, particularly for Jewish families like the Sterns, the choices made become more important by the hour: To speak up or to look away? To stay or to flee? To act now or wait one more day?

In this internationally acclaimed debut, Marianne Kaurin recreates the atmosphere of secrecy and uncertainty in World War II Norway in a moving story of sorrow, chance, and first love.

3/5 STARS 

I love historical fiction and will read any WW2 books I can get my hands on...
With that being said, this one wasn't as good as others I've read. While I enjoyed the book a lot, it didn't feel complete to me. There were so many perspectives that it came off a bit scattered. Like I get Hermann and Ilse's parts, but the family ones were built up to go no where... I think maybe if the book was longer and better developed I would have appreciated those parts more.

What I did love about this book though were the lessons that were so intricately weaved into the story. The words taught us that time is precious and to never hold back. It also gave us a great perspective of what survival looks like.

I'm torn. I keep going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars... On one hand it's history and that's important, but on another I craved more of that raw emotion that comes with war. I wanted to feel like the characters were in desperate situations and instead I felt like they were just going through the motions... riding the boat, sitting on the bed, stripping down... Where were the heart breaking scenes of turmoil? And also, why didn't we get more info on the paper that Hermann worked at... I guess looking at the book as a whole I just need to settle on a 3. I wanted to love this one, but it needed better execution.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Beast by Brie Spangler

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way? 

I went into this book blind... 
The ARC showed up at my door and I immediately started it without reading the back. So imagine my surprise when Jamie's identity was revealed... It's not at all what I expected, but it worked so well. You can definitely call it a twist on Beauty & the Beast and I LOVED it. 

The words of this book wrapped around me and slowly pulled me beneath the surface of norm. It was heartwarming, educational, emotional, and inspiring. The focus was on first love, self exploration,  self harm, and painful peer pressure, but there was so much more between the words. Dylan is a troubled boy who is self conscious about his appearance.

"I like you too." she says.
"You are a wonderfully horrible boy."

When he "falls" off his roof and ends up in group therapy, his world is turned upside down. Jamie is going through a transition... When her and Dylan start to hang out, emotions slowly form into something a tad forbidden. Dylan is oblivious to the situation and when the truth is revealed it sends him running the opposite way. Slowly though, he lets his guard down and opens up to what his heart truly wants...

I wouldn't say I have an closed mind, but I definitely wouldn't seek out a trans book. After reading this one though, my feelings have changed. The Author did so good at making this book beautiful and all consuming that at the end I craved more. I wanted to know what happened to Jamie and Dylan after high school. I wanted to know if their love made it...


Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. 


If you are thinking about reading this book I'd recommend skipping the first part ... For me, I instantly became meh and confused. That part was so scattered and disconnected that I almost didn't continue...

However, I'm so glad that I did because I fell in love with the rest. I really related to the breaking part and it opened my eyes to a new perspective. It helped me appreciate the flaws and made me happy I experienced such turmoil. It pulled out emotion and also filled me with inspiration. I think all who have experienced a bad break up will definitely find solace in the pages.

Overall, I definitely recommend it to readers searching for a word hug. Let this story be a lesson or guidance or just reassurance that no matter what happens you can always overcome it.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

5/5 STARS 

Eerie plot, folk feel, and absolutely beautiful execution. My mind and heart fell in love with this book. The story was haunting, yet intriguing. The characters were unique and the book world was vivid and lush. As I turned the pages I could feel the mist clinging to my skin and the breeze blowing the back of neck. The plot pulled me in and I found myself captivated by the magic. I mean witches, sea monsters, forbidden love, and folk lore... What more could you ask for?

If you like to be swept away from reality then you MUST read this one. FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP had me hooked from page one. I was so torn on whether to quickly turn the pages to unravel the secrets or to slowly savor each and every word. I've never felt so compelled by a plot before. There were twists and turns that I never expected and jaw dropping, epic battles at sea. Between the dark water, lush music, and terrifying creatures... my mind was blown. Not to mention the romance. Umm... I never would've guessed that, but wow was it good. 

I won't say any more because I would just be spoiling the parts that are too good to spoil. However,I will leave you with this... There is a little something for everyone so don't let one classification scare you away. 

I received an ARC (Thank you Skyhorse Publishing & Sarah Glenn Marsh) and it was so good that I now MUST own in it physical form. I can't wait to purchase the hardback on release day!

The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut. 

"Persecution and hatred had walked through the door to my soul and ripped out my heart." 

This book was historical fiction at it's finest. The ugly words were intricately weaved into a beautiful story of strength and perseverance. My heart ached with pain and swelled with inspiration. The circumstances Helen overcame were gut wrenching and awful. She lost loved ones, was humiliated in more ways than one, and in the end had lasting emotional scars.

"I found gratitude in the basement. My heartache never stopped, but I learned to be grateful for the essentials of life: for the air in my lungs, the visions my eyes behold, and the very experience of being alive." 

The story was about a young girl trapped in a real life nightmare... Helen is a jew and Hitler wants rid of all jews... Her friend Max enlists to protect her and when times become too dangerous for her to remain at home, he hides her and her brother. They remain in hiding for years before the monsters come knocking down their door. While the cellar always seemed like a prison, when the S.S. come to take them away, they know things will only get worse. Together they embark on a terrible journey to hell (or Auschwitz) and when they arrive, they are separated and she is left with the images of murder in her mind. She finds her strength to survive illness, rape, and physical abuse in her father's words and a dirty dress.

"I wanted to confiscate one of their guns and shoot all of them through their hearts. I wanted warm bullets to find their frigid, calculating, stone-hard souls. 

I finished the book hours ago, yet my brain is still within the pages. I was so captivated by the horror and utter raw reality. To think that actual people lived through similar things makes me sick to my stomach. It also makes me very appreciative for the life that I live. While reading Helen's story I felt so twisted thinking how fortunate she was, but to think how many people were killed... in some twisted way, Helen was lucky. She went through hell for that luck and had to sacrifice her health, innocence, and pride for that luck or as other's would call it, life. Her story is one that should be read by all. The Author's writing flawlessly intertwined history with an emotionally charged work of fiction. I loved it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood Review

A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.
As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her fa
ther's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.
By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.
Amazon Link-


"I was lying on tracks under a train I was in love with."

Readers are either going to hate this one or love it... 
For me, it was a book that instantly captured my attention and held me captive through the final page. I can't remember the last time I was so eager to indulge in words. There was something about the underlying taboo and the emotional turmoil on the surface that helped me look past the age difference and realize that Wavy was forced to grow up faster than normal and it wasn't because of Kellen. She was verbally abused by her mother, was forced to care for her little brother, and was in the company of drugs, sex, and alcohol. The only constant in her life was Kellen. He protected her, paid for her education, and in a some weird way.. was *the normal* part of her life. Their relationship started as guardian/child, but then as time progressed, so did the feelings and intimacy. It's not honorable to play off of a child's emotions and I want to think that Kellen tried his best to keep her at arms length. The problem was that Wavy felt alone and unwanted when Kellen pushed her away. Without him she had no one so he did what he did to keep her close. Yes, she was young and yes, it was very wrong... But in some twisted way, it was also very right. Wavy may have been young, but she was mature and knew what she wanted. Together they made their ugly lives into something wonderful.

It was a wild ride with danger and epic love. There were twists and turns and parts that I just couldn't believe. My heart ached and my gut wrenched. The words provoked so much emotion and for that I am thankful. I read to find the special reads of the world and this one was just that. It's in a league of it's own. Edgy and borderline just wrong. I found it to be flawlessly addictive and beautiful in the most awkward way, but I know not all readers will. If you are thinking about reading it I will leave you with this warning* Go into the book knowing that there are child/adult relations and if you can't stomach that then don't read it. Not all will appreciate the topic and graphic details, but I think with an open mind you can learn to be okay with it. 

"The letters seemed so wonderfully tragic to me. Each one a message he would never get. A note in a bottle, bobbing on the ocean. Lost" 

My only complaint would be the ending... I expected (or maybe just craved) a Romeo/Juliet kind of ending, but it never came. What did happen seemed a tad meh. The book builds up and feeds off intensity and emotion and near the end, I felt the writing completely switched tempo and voice. It lacked an emotional punch. I really would've loved to see a jaw dropping ending without a happily ever after. A tear-jerker ending would've left me reeling for sure. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

"ah, life-
the thing
that happens
to us
while we're off
somewhere else
blowing on
& wishing
ourselves into
the pages of
our favorite
fairy tales."

a poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations. 



Few words and simple phrases can portray truth and utter beauty. They can open up your soul and flood you with deep rooted emotion. Words are wisdom. Words are encouragement. And Words are the way we exploit our true inner selves. This book had a way of making me want to dive deep into the pages and explore meanings hidden beneath the surface. It empowered me and gave me a better perspective of how to live. It moved me in ways I never knew possible. It proved that less is more and captured the essence of finding light in the darkness. 

I forsee many re-reads in my near future. It was a flawless masterpiece that every person should read.

Drawn To You by Lily Summers

No one knows my story. No one knows what happened. I'm barely holding on.

I'm more than ready to lose myself and keep my secret buried.

Then Ezra finds me. A tagger with a raw talent, he fills the city with his art, splashing color across Portland's grey skies. A ghostly woman in the depths of the ocean, a boy preyed upon by shadows -- everything he creates touches my soul. Authentic and raw, his work grounds me. Magnetic and brave, he heals me.

Ezra is everything I need; he's everything I don't deserve. 

I never imagined I'd meet a man like him... or that he'd rip my darkest secret out of me.

All I want is to fade away.

Why won't he just let me?

Drawn To You is a heart-wrenching debut about love, art, and a passion that brings color to the darkness. It's an angst filled romance about the lengths we go to remember and the love we can never forget.

**This is a standalone new adult romance novel**

4/5 Stars

Do you like NA? Have a thing for artsy books? Then this one is for you!
Drawn To You tells a story of raw emotion and soul connecting romance... There was lust, angst, secrets, and swoon worthy intimacy. It circled around hope and forgiveness and had a strong artsy foundation. It was a tragic story with a beautiful outcome...

Let me just say that NA is not my favorite genre. It tends to be very generic and often times has repetitive plots and similar themes. This one was different though... I felt a unique premise that led with an emotional punch. The art focus made this book stand out. I could visually see the paintings in my mind. Each brush stroke, every color contrast... The paint exposed inner feelings and a romantic connection. Mia and Ezra communicated through paint. Together they used colors of forgiveness to paint over their inner darkness. It was truly a beautiful story with amazing depth.

Wondering why it didn't get 5 stars? Well... some of the descriptions were a tad over the top. It's first person so we get Mia's every thoughts. That means we get cheesy descriptions of how perfect Ezra is. At times it was just too much. Other than that I enjoyed the story and would definitely recommend it to others. It was fast paced and left a lasting impression. I applaud the author for creating such an artsy whirlwind of a romance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

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.



My heart is ready to burst... It takes a lot for me to be awestruck by a book, but with this one, it was simple. The words wrapped around me and pulled me deep within the soul of the story. Minow Bly captured my every thought and even after the final page, I still didn't want to let go. Her story was tragic, yet inspirational. She grew up knowing only what she was told and when she ends up in juvie everything she knows quickly surfaces as lies. Her mind is opened up to possibilities she never thought possible. Her new prison symbolizes freedom and a new start. She finds friendships in a place that should be depressing and dark. She finds answers she craves and learns to talk through her brutal past in order to set herself free. 

It's a dark and twisted tale about cult life. I mean the girl's hands are cut off! She is held captive with whacko theories in her brain. Her only escape is Jude and escaping into his arms is a similar prison. He wants to protect her, but doesn't realize that by doing so he is also holding her back from freedom. He has a dark past with secrets that will wreck your heart. He believes is a solace life in the woods and fears the town. He wants them to live a life together secluded from all other humanity. Minnow craves something more though... When she meets Angel, she finally starts to see a future through all of the smoke. 

I'm not even sure how to summarize this book without saying that everyone just needs to read it. There are so many unpredictable twists and turns that my brain was swarmed with multiple possibilities. I wasn't sure how everything was going to turn out, but I felt a weight lift off my chest near the end. The story just kind of danced off the pages into beautiful bliss. Minnow finds peace in her own way and even though I still had questions, my heart was content. I definitely urge all to read this one and if you have similar recommendation please let me know! 

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever 

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. 

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal." 

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and the fact that they may be falling for one another. 

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselvesis a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it. 



This was a story about pushing boundaries and standing up for what you believe in.

Two girls are on the opposite sides of integration/segregation... One was taught that colored folks are evil and the other was raised to wear dark skin like a medal. Each one has an inner battle they are fighting and together they find an intense connection that helps them overcome fear and find their true selves.

It was a fierce, kind-of-taboo read with emotional gut punches and brutal reality. It takes you back in time and leaves you in the middle of an ugly world full of hatred. Sarah played the hero and Linda the villain. They say opposites attract and that rang so true in this book. Each girl empowered the other. They pulled out strengths from within and showed bravery in a time of fear.

I was intrigued by the history and really felt connected to the characters. It was a slow paced read that left you digest each word and really mull over the feelings each one portrayed. I would have preferred a faster paced book, but all in all, I recommend it to readers that enjoy history. It didn't blow my mind, but it did leave a lasting impression. It taught me important lessons and I can definitely appreciate that. 

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000. 
Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world. 



I could use many words to describe this book, but the one that stands out amongst all others is empowerment. Clara was a hero during her time. She immigrated with big dreams, but quickly dropped them for a greater good. She experienced the brutal workforce first-hand and made it her priority to stop it. She fought for fair wages, safe workplaces, freedom from harassment, and so much more. She put all she had into creating a women's union. She was belittled, beaten, laughed at, locked away, and shamed; and yet she never gave up. Her fierce bravery and strong will led her to one of America's greatest historic successes. It wasn't an easy battle, but she used her voice to empower others to use theirs.

Audacity was a book that I will never forget. It had a way of pulling me so deep into the pages that the lines between fiction and reality blurred. Each movement Clara made I felt as if I were making the movement myself. Every laugh directed at her, every punch thrown... I felt it. The words had a way of wrapping themselves around me and pulling me under. It's as if I slowly drowned in a pool of historic tragedy and was resucitated to a new world. Clara made sure that the brutality stopped. She pushed for equal rights and without her, who knows what America would be like today.

I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. It's a story of ultimate sacrifice and I think all who read it will gain a broader appreciation for those who helped mold our world into what it is today.

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person: a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times. 



This was a whole new take on WW2. I expected gruesome work camps and feared deportations, but what I didn't expect was the acts of resistance. This book captured a behind the scenes bravery that I've never read about before. It pulled me into a thrilling plot full of danger, lies, and secrets.

Hanneke works in the black market where she recycles rations cards and buys items for those willing to pay. It's usually items like meat, lipstick, magazines, etc. So when a customer asks her to find a girl, her automatic reaction is to flee. She runs home and sits and ponders the pros and cons. She knows she shouldn't say yes, but deep down she wants to mend emotional wounds and save a life since she blames herself for taking one. 

She finds herself wrapped up in a twisted mystery that throws her on the doorstep of the resistance. It's a dangerous time and in honor to get answers she has to break rules and live on the edge. Each move could end with death, but she has her mind set on finding the girl and she doesn't stop until she does.

Let me start by saying I really enjoyed this book a lot. I love historical YA and I think this one was a perfect addition to the genre. However, there were a few things that held me back from loving it. First I found the plot twist to be very predictable. I knew what happened before it was revealed and I believe others would guess it as well. Second, I felt like many things were just grazed upon. I wanted to dive deeper into the theatre and see more of the intense darkness. Lastly, I wanted closure in other areas. I felt like the mystery got closure, but everything else was left open ended. Elsbeth? Ollie and Willem? I guess I need to keep in mind that there was no possible way to explore each character in depth. I still wanted to though.... and that is a great thing!

Overall, I definitely recommend it to all historical fans that appreciate new takes on a brutal time. Just keep in mind that it's not a love story. It's a story of healing and moving on. A story of sacrifice and hope. A story of bravery during the time of war.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?



Fairies, suspense, mystery, magical scenery, romance, and bada$$ characters.... What more do you need?

I was so impressed with this book... Fey aren't usually my go to subject, but gosh from page one I was swept away to this dangerous world with magical creatures and lush landscape. I didn't want to close the book. The characters were tough, honorable, and fun and the plot was a twisty little mind f.

It's about a brother and sister that live in a town where monsters lurk in the shadows and a horned boy lives in a glass casket. Both of them love the so called Prince and when he breaks free of his glass prison, they make it their duty to find him. Quickly they are pulled into his world and left with many problems to solve. Each one has their own secrets though so between the lies, lust, and danger they try to figure out who they are and what lies in their pasts.

The story was fast paced and the suspense was nail biting. I loved the creepy feel and was consumed by all of the unique characters. Not to mention, there were two romances! Two absolutely edible romances that were quirky yet intimate. 

It's a YA read, but is totally suitable for adults. The writing is mature with swearing and sex talk. It was the perfect blend of young adult and high fantasy. I highly recommend it. 

I'm off to buy more from this Author now...