Category Archives: Review

Review: The Incredible Secrets of Hadley Hill

The Incredible Secrets of Hadley HillThe Incredible Secrets of Hadley Hill
by Tai Stith
272 pages
Genre: Coming of Age, Teen and Young Adult
Publisher: Owl Room Press
Release date: Oct 11, 2017

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Content Rating: PG. No profanity or nudity, but some scenes of abuse and some scenes of intense danger.

Fifteen year-old Aribelle Cartwright is uprooted from her native San Francisco when her father gets a job in a different state. Instead of majestic skyscrapers and the urban bustle of the city, Ari has to adjust to the solitude of a rural town.

Right away, Ari notices something is curiously different about the hill her historic home resides on. Complicating matters is the aloof boy next door, Dane, who is nearly as mysterious as Hadley Hill itself. Will Ari be able to break through Dane’s cautious demeanor to discover the incredible secrets of Hadley Hill?


  • The author is a personal friend of mine and gave me a copy of her book.

The Incredible Secrets of Hadley Hill is a coming of age story mixed with a cozy mystery. When 15 year old Ari moves from San Francisco to a small rural town she has a lot of adjustments to make. Having a whole summer to settle in before her mother and sister arrived she decides to restore the dilapidated old garden at their new home. Soon she meets her mysterious neighbor Dane and begins a new project, helping Dane discover his family heritage and the history of the old house on Hadley Hill.

After such an incredible summer together Ari doesn’t understand the coolness and distance Dane develops when they return to school. To make matters worse, Ari become the target of a mean girl who will go to any length to separate the two.

Hadley Hill deals with some major issues of abandonment, abuse, and bullying and manages to handle them in a realistic and hope filled way.

Ari’s parents are portrayed as supportive and concerned, which is great to see in a YA book.

The book is quietly atmospheric and the descriptions of the house, garden and hill are wonderful. Uncovering the long ago secrets of the hill is a wonderful adventure for the reader. The pace is a little slower than most of what I read, but I think it’s fits within normal for cozy mysteries.

A major plot hole during the first half of the book constantly brought me out of the story. Why is it that a modern 15 year old girl didn’t have a cell phone or access to the internet at home? It drove me crazy. Especially since they were in a new town and she was allowed to bicycle around by herself and often left alone for large chunks of the day. I just can’t imagine a parent today letting their teenage daughter do these things without a phone.

Bottom Line:

It’s a good debut book and an enjoyable read, but the pacing and plot hole mentioned above kept me from really loving it.

Goodreads / Amazon


Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

By Stephanie Oakes
Pages: 400
Date Finished: 8/30/17

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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.


I made the mistake of reading a free sample of this book. After devouring the first few chapters I had to buy the book so I could keep reading. This book hooks you and then doesn’t let go.

Minnow is a character of contradictions, a survivor who has gone through hell and yet she’s innocent and completely  ignorant of worldly things.  As the story of Minnow unfolds it’s layers, told mostly through flashbacks, I was at times intrigued, horrified, mesmerized and disturbed. Minnow is a puzzle, what happened to her is a puzzle, but why it happened is pretty clear. The mad cult leader, it all comes back to him.

Like her narrative, Minnows mind is twisted. You can’t trust her, but you can’t help but want to trust her. You want her to tell her tale, to share with you the TRUTH behind it all, but you don’t know who Minnow can trust (including herself) and you really don’t want her story ending up in the wrong hands or worse being used against her.

It’s so hard to describe the book without giving away spoilers! (So I’m going to stop here.)

The one thing I’m going to be nit-picky about is the cover. For a book that starts off telling us it’s about a girl who had her hands cut off, it’s pretty weird to see those hands on the cover. It just doesn’t fit the story or the mood of the book.

Bottom Line:

Wow! Wow! Wow! Even for someone like myself who doesn’t usually love psychological thrillers this was a great read. Highly recommended!

Amazon / Goodreads