Mini Reviews | El Deafo & Cut

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The Dumbledore’s Army Readathon (#DAReadathon) hosted by Aentee at Read at Midnight is now done! The purpose of the readathon was to promote the reading of diverse books. I’m happy to say that I completed all of the books on my TBR (the first I’ve ever done this during a readathon). Yay! You can see my progress as well as book aesthetics in this Twitter thread. I’m slowly in the process of posting all of my reviews. Did you participate in the DA Readathon? How did you do?


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20702080El Deafo by Cece Bell
Release date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Graphic novel, memoir
Format: Paperback

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Goodreads | Amazon

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful–and very awkward–hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear–sometimes things she shouldn’t–but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

“Our differences are our superpowers.”

I loved this graphic novel! I’ve been eyeing a copy of it in my Language Arts classroom for sometime now. I’m so glad that I did because it’s hands down one of the best I have ever read. 🙂

It transmits such a wonderful story for kids and adults alike. It’s about a young girl named Cece who loses much of her hearing at the age of four. She no longer can communicate or do the things that she used to do. At school she can’t hear the teacher or understand what is happening until she is given the Phonic Ear, a hearing device that enables Cece to hear everything that happens in class. It’s so amazing that it gives her super hearing powers, turning her into the superhero El Deafo! But the story is about so much more. It’s also about growing up, making friendships, peer pressure and crushes.

I just loved everything about El Deafo…the story, the characters, the illustrations. There was a lot of humour and I found myself smiling a lot while reading it. The illustrations were also super adorable. Everyone is represented as bunnies. However, what truly stood out to me was the author’s afterword about living with a hearing impairment. I highly recommend this book at everyone of any age, even if you aren’t usually a fan of graphic novels. The combination of words and images creates a fun but powerful package. A must read!


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9551752Cut by Patricia McCormick

Release date: February 1st, 2002
Publisher: Push
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Format: Paperback

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Goodreads | Amazon

Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside.

Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak.

But Callie can only stay silent for so long…

“Sometimes when we’re in situations where we feel we’re not in control, we do things, especially things that take a lot of energy, as a way of making ourselves feel we have some power.”

This book wasn’t what I expected it to be. I picked the book up because I thought it had a very interesting concept. It is told in first person perspective and is about how Callie (the narrator) is seeking treatment at a rehabilitation facility after it was discovered that she was cutting herself. The book is written as if Callie is speaking or writing to her therapist.

Self harm is a very complex subject and I just feel that the book didn’t go into enough depth about it. It just skimmed the surface offering the reading a very basic explanation as to why someone would self harm. It’s too short and too vague. There’s so much that could have been discussed. The story doesn’t really inform the readier about cutting, which I thought was the whole point.

Also, since the book was so short, character development was pretty much nonexistent. I found myself wondering who all of the secondary characters were. I couldn’t keep their names or back stories straight. Callie’s own development was hard to track because her thoughts bounced back and forth between the present and the past. The reader learned about the pressures in her life and the reasons behind her cutting. That said, the light bulb moment about why she needs to open up and stop cutting was extremely rushed. I had a difficult time believing it. After weeks of refusing to open up or agree to help she all of a sudden is alright? I don’t know…at least that’s how I saw the ending. Maybe others interpreted differently?

I originally rated the book a 3 out 5, but have since then changed it to a 2. The more and more I thought about it the more annoyed I became. I’m looking for other books on the topic, especially for teenagers. Any recommendations?

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Mini Reviews | The Terracotta Bride & I Am Malala

mini-reviews-2Aentee at Read at Midnight is hosting the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon (#DAReadathon) to promote the reading of diverse books. This wonderful challenge started on January 1st  and concludes on January 15th, 2017. I’ve been posting about my progress in this Twitter thread, but I am also going to be posting mini reviews of the books that I have read here on the blog.


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The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho29387827
Release date: December 6th, 2016
Publisher: Smashwords Edition
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Format: eBook

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Goodreads | Amazon

In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.

It’s a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn’t choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she’s reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua’s creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.

“In hell, as in every other world, man was man’s greatest enemy.”

Beautiful. Haunting. Original. The Terracotta Bride was a fascinating novella (or novelette as it’s only 51 pages long) that examined life, death and rebirth. I haven’t read anything like it before. I sat down and devoured it in one sitting. Usually short stories are a mixed bag: they feature intriguing plots but don’t offer enough character or world building. This book was different. I’m still floored by how the author could build such a rich and engaging world in 50 pages! *mind blown*

I cannot thank the other bloggers who recommended this to me enough! It’s such an interesting look at human behaviour. The story takes place in hell, which is very similar to the world of the living. There’s corruption and violence. Money can get you just about anything. People are greedy and just want more and more. The story, set in this bleak world, is told by the naive and young Siew Tsin. After being sold as a bride by a family member, she lived in a sort of limbo. She couldn’t leave her husband, but also didn’t want to move onto her next life where she would be reborn. Everything changed when her husband brought home the terracotta bride as his third wife. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I can’t say anything more about the plot. What I will say though is nothing in this story is what it seems. There are twists and turns that will hold you attention until the very end!

I cannot recommend this book enough! I now really want to explore Cho’s other works such as the Sorcerer to the Crown.


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17851885I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb
Release date: October 8th, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography
Format: Paperback

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Goodreads | Amazon

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

I don’t even know where to start. I Am Malala was eye opening, honest, inspiring and heartbreaking. Malala Yousafzai is a phenomenal young woman. Her advocacy for female education has inspired people of all ages from around the world to stand up for what they believe in. It’s hard to believe that she accomplished so much — winning awards, making speeches, fronting campaigns — at such a young age. She did this all while living under threat from the Pakistani Taliban. Standing by her beliefs under such a threat, even after being shot by the terrorist organization, shows just how brave and courageous she is. I’m in complete awe of her and her beautiful message of peace, knowledge and equality.

While I obviously adore Malala and enjoyed the book, there were times that the book’s writing style felt detached. It read as rigid and unfeeling. There is tons of history and politics in each chapter and the facts and explanation parts were very heavy. I appreciated the history but wish it wasn’t so impersonal or cold.

With that said, I really do think everyone should read this book! It taught me a lot about a region of the world that is constantly in the news. I knew a little about what was happening in Pakistan (the corruption, lawless regions along the border, the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Sharia law) but next to nothing about the local Pashtun culture. What’s happening in Malala’s homeland is heartbreaking, but her love for where she grew up and her courage to stand up gives me hope for the future. Really, READ THIS BOOK!

Dumbledore’s Army Readathon Signup/TBR

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Aentee at Read at Midnight is hosting the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon (#DAReadathon) to promote the reading of diverse books. This great challenge will take place from January 1st – January 15th, 2017.

It’s very similar to her #ReadThemAllThon challenge that took place over the summer. You receive points for reading and reviewing books that fit the prompts. Please visit her blog for more information!

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9551752Cut by Patricia McCormick: Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside.

Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak.

But Callie can only stay silent for so long…

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20702080El Deafo by Cece Bell: Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful–and very awkward–hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear–sometimes things she shouldn’t–but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

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22521951.jpgWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

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17851885I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

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23308084The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

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25203675The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

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29387827The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho: In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.

It’s a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn’t choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she’s reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua’s creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.


If you see a book in my TBR that doesn’t properly fit the prompt please let me know! I will happily receive any feedback. As with many people in the bookish community, I am still learning about reading diversely and am open to any and all suggestions.

Have you signed up for this challenge yet?