Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw! Chapter One opens the book with the introduction of the main characters, the setting of the town of Sparrow and Lumiere Island, a spooky tale and foreshadowing of death. The main characters are Penny, who lives alone with her mother after her father disappeared three years ago, and Rose. Rose’s mother owns a bakery that sells mini cakes that supposedly help people forget their struggles and painful memories. Tourist season starts and the town celebrates the legend of the three Swan Sisters and their drowning centuries ago. The Swan sisters Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel were drowned after being accused of witchcraft. The story is told in parts, past and present, alternating to reveal the history of the sisters, the disappearance of Penny’s father and the secrets of Bo, the visitor that ends up working on Lumiere Island with Penny. Wicked Deep is a fantasy wrapped in darkness, engulfed in tragedy and heartbreak with intrigue, deception and sacrifice that ultimately brings love into its pages. Wonderfully written and rates a highly recommended 5 stars!

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. The story opens with the three daughters, their family owns the Abbey, getting ready for a party that evening. The eldest daughter, Kate, is meant to marry and bear a male child as heir to the Abbey. The party will introduce possible suitors for her to choose from or for them to choose her. The lovely British setting begins with tongue in cheek humor and the calmness of a classic but eventually, horror ensues when a woman is forced to shoot her already dead husband! No one but her nephew believes that her husband came home after she had already verified his death. She claimed that his eyes were unusual and he was no longer her husband, but a monster. Little by little, the Abbey community and surrounding village is overtaken by zombies and the survivors must defend themselves or fall victim also. The gutsy Fanny, a kitchen maid, builds up bravery throughout the Abbey and helps fight to save the residents, along with the three daughters. Zombie Abbey is a fun horror story, which seems oxymoronic, but the author pulls it off quite well! 4 stars for this adventurous dystopian!

The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato. Teddi’s summer vacation begins with a few options. She decides to spend time with Summerteens, the local library’s summer writing workshop. Before the workshop kicks off, Teddi has had a spooky encounter, a kiss and an argument with her single, downtrodden mother. I fell in love with The Precious Dreadful, Teddi’s personality and boldness and the variety of characters it holds in its pages! The more I read, the deeper the story took me. Teddi has pretty much raised herself since her mother, Brenda, tends to be drunk and partying with her friends instead of being available and sober for her daughter. Brenda is also keeping secrets from Teddi and has tried to, in her own dysfunctional way, protect her role as a mother. As Teddi’s summer rolls on, relationships become more complicated and drama-ridden and her subconscious is forcing her to remember a traumatic and horrible part of her childhood. The Precious Dreadful bends genres: mystery, horror, supernatural, romance and young adult realistic fiction; this book also pulls at your heartstrings through intense tragedy, awareness of bad choices and the bond of friendship and kindness of others and it’s well deserving of 5 stars!

Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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I thoroughly enjoyed Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy! The dedication builds suspenseful excitement and I love the quote that opens the story: “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”-Edgar Allan Poe. I fell into the story immediately because the intensity begins in the first chapter with an angry attack, which leads to murder. I thought I may have figured out who the murderer is but as the story progresses, things change and so does my perspective. The points of view are interesting because it’s mostly Penelope with others’ randomly thrown in. This makes the action and anxiety more erratic showing us how the community must feel knowing there’s a murderer in their midst. Also, through the killer’s point of view, we get a glimpse of incentive and motive. I read this book straight through with fervor and the story doesn’t disappoint! 5 stars for this young adult murder mystery!

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Alone by Cyn Balog

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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Alone by Cyn Balog.
A desolate mansion, a girl who hears voices and an eccentric mother open this story with a feeling of Stephen King’s Shining. The more I read about this family, the stranger they seem. Seda had a twin that died before the two of them were born. His name was Sawyer. Seda has four younger siblings who are sets of twins. Winter hits and a group of teenagers ends up stranded at the mansion after a car accident. They’re invited to enjoy a scavenger hunt with the family and everything goes from strange to crazy with twist after twist. Alone is a suspense-filled thriller and a perfect read for young adult horror fans. 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

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House of furies by Madeleine Roux tells the story of Louisa, a fortune teller, who is given a gold coin by an older woman and offered a job at Coldthistle House. There’s more to the old woman than Louisa realizes and she’s not sure what to think of her. On their way to Coldthistle House, the wagon wheel breaks and a passing wagon stops to help them. These travelers are on their way to Coldthistle House too. Once Louisa finally reaches their destination, she finds out more than she bargained for and discovers that she will supposedly never leave. The art on the cover and introductions of the chapters are beautifully spooky and appropriate for the story. With interesting relationships and creepiness, I read this book nonstop. 4 Stars!

Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill

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Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill opens with Willow as she’s turning sixteen and her friends and family are throwing her a “surprise” party when a blackout occurs. A spirit takes over a recently deceased corpse and vows to keep the worst creature ever in prison. Willow and this spirit become entwined in
evil that threatens to kill everything they hold dear. Creepy and full of action, Uncanny is a twisted, supernatural read with wonderfully descriptive writing that brings the story to life and entertains. One part I loved was this clever piece of writing-“Numbers were alphabet soup, my eyes were roasted marshmallows, and my tongue felt like a wad of chewing gum.” Interesting characters and the magical concept make Uncanny a great supernatural read. 4 stars!

The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker. Rilla lives with her grandmother. After her father dies, she’s unsure about college because she worries about leaving her grandmother and she wants to keep her father’s fishing business going. The story is a bit odd but starts to pick up around chapter four when Rilla meets Sam on the small island where he’s doing research on an archeological dig. Sam knows about the Malaga Island history and he shares his research with Rilla. Rilla is worried that she’s following her mother’s footsteps because she’s seeing a ghost and hearing her voice. Rilla’s mother talked to the water people and she left her family when Rilla was very young because she wanted to keep her family safe. All Rilla knows about her mother is that she waded into the ocean with heavy rocks in her pockets weighing her down and then she admitted herself into a mental institution. Rilla has kept the apparition to herself and continues to do so until she grows comfortable enough with Sam to confide in him. She also needs his help to keep herself safe and to figure out the ghostly mystery. Little by little, the two of them piece together the visions and the island’s history and uncover a tragic event that connects Rilla and her family to Malaga Island. I love it when authors share their research with readers and explain their reasoning behind the story they’ve created. When a book is based on historical facts, I always want to dive into the research and study the truth that helped create the fiction. 4 stars for an intriguing story that pulled me into a lesser known part of American history.

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan! The author’s foreword explains the reasoning for the story and also forewarns the reader of difficult content. The story is based on the author’s ancestry and heritage. Bethan meets Martyn at the market and they become friends and Martyn protects Bethan from a group of bullies. The bullies are led by Silas, who’s selfish and entitled and cruel. He and his group do terrible things to Bethan and harm Martyn in the process. This book is full of darkness and full of hope and interestingly eye-opening because of the Romani history. 5 stars for a story full of strength and retribution.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.