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.