Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is a novel masterpiece!
Poverty and suppression hidden under sunshine and kindness describes the picture painted of Spain as the rest of the world sees the land and its people. The story tells itself with alternating points of view and the author’s writing draws the reader into the characters’ lives, so I was pulled quickly into caring for them. Ana lives with her siblings and each of them works as many jobs as possible since their parents are no longer with them. Daniel traveled to Spain from Texas with his parents, his mother of Spanish descent and oil-rich father. Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid. Daniel loves photography and Ana helps him as much as she dares. Daniel starts noticing that Ana keeps her distance like she’s afraid. Another revelation occurs when Ana’s brother Rafe and his coworker realize that the baby coffins being sent to the cemetery for them to bury are actually empty. More injustice is revealed as we learn that Ana’s parents were killed because they wanted to start a school and their ideas went against the beliefs of the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco. The snippets taken from primary sources bring this story to a deeper level and helped me to understand how the rest of the world perceived Spain during this time frame.
The characters and their lives all connect in one way or another and those relationships show how truly complicated and complex Spain’s history is. My heart goes out to the people who suffered in silence for decades and for those still affected by the repercussions. Ruta Sepetys amazes me with every book she writes. Her dedication stands above and beyond what is required because she pours her heart and soul into the stories she creates. I’m grateful that she shares them with the world because, with each book, I gain more knowledge of cultures and history across the globe.
Fountains of Silence, a true work of art! 5 stars!

Stuck With You by Christina Mandelski

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Tough life decisions!
Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review. Stuck With You by Christina Mandelski!
Caleb’s driving across a few states to spend time alone and getting his focus ready for his college experience that will begin in the fall. He and his dog Mo drive from Florida to Texas so they can spend a quiet week at the beach house on the Gulf of Mexico that his family co-owns with their flooring business partners. When he arrives, he realizes that someone is already there, Catie, the daughter of the business and beach house co-owners. She’s just finished her junior year of high school and is with her two best friends relaxing and having a few fun days at the beach. Catie and Caleb have known each other since they were young children and their families went into business together. The two of them had an annoying sibling-type relationship according to Caleb but Catie had a crush on Caleb for quite a while. Things might be starting to change. They both have life decisions that they need to make and can both use some thinking time and space. Hopefully they won’t get in each other’s way. Cute young adult romance, 4 stars!

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

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Korean folklore!
Thanks to Bookish First for the ARC of Wicked Fox by Kat Cho!
The two main characters meet when Miyoung saves Jihoon’s life from a goblin and Jihoon sees Miyoung’s true form. The next day, Miyoung shows up at Jihoon’s school as a transfer student and, little by little, she reluctantly becomes his friend and then their relationship turns into something more. Yena, Miyoung’s mother seems cruel and uncaring to her and she forces her to move often so they don’t make ties with anyone. The self-denigrating behavior from Jihoon and Miyoung became a little tiresome. I was also confused by the many different names that the characters were each called. The differences became cumbersome to remember. I’m sure if I was better acquainted with Korean culture and folklore, it would be easier for me. There’s a good deal of character development in a few of the characters and we learn some secrets about Yena’s background which are very interesting. 4 stars for this first book in the Gumiho series!

 

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul

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Spread the joy of reading!
Thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing for the opportunity to read and review How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo!
The book opens with explanations of reading’s importance and the reading experiences of both authors. I appreciate this statement from this section of the book: “School is where children learn that they have to read. Home is where kids learn to read because they want to.” That quote sums it all up perfectly! As a parent and a teacher, I have personally experienced both school and home influences on reading. The book is broken up into parts. Part One: Born to Read includes book suggestions to the years of babyhood through toddlerhood and breaks down what babies can handle by stages and ages. Developing rituals around reading is a great way to guarantee reading takes place every day, like reading at bedtime. It’s a wonderful step when a toddler becomes a reader as he or she looks through books independently and starts telling the story on their own. A reminder of what libraries are great for for when our kids are little and not so little. Here’s an eye-opening statement that will be important to remember: …the statistic most highly correlated to literacy is the number of books present in the home. Part Two: Growing a Reader discusses the emerging reader and independent reader. Part Three: Your Middle-Grade Reader discusses “novels for children”. The following statement is a reminder of why we read, “…to escape, to uncover, to challenge ourselves, to be swept away by a compelling voice, to find companionship with characters we connect with, to travel the world from the safe distance of a living room armchair.” Thanks to J. K. Rowling for ushering us into communal reading by building excitement, anticipation and all the aspects of her Harry Potter stories that give readers topics of discussion. Part Four: A Reader for Life: Teenagers states the fact that young adult literature is a category that didn’t even exist a few decades ago. When I was a teenager, reading choices were much more limited than they are now. Reading options can be overwhelming now because we have so much choice and variety in genres. Part Five: More Books to Love by theme and reading level explores books that are humorous, tear inducing, heartwarming, family stories, full of courage, kind and empathetic, good for identifying and accepting yourself, have awesome male characters and great female characters, are historical and biographical, dealing with science and nature, and historical fiction. Fantastic book for adults wanting to foster a love of reading in their younger counterparts, 5 stars!

 

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

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Action-packed sequel!
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess!
Nettie is officially a sorcerer and while she’s at her first meeting, an Ancient sends a message requesting that the sorcerers give Nettie up. Many revelations occur and much action takes place in this second book of the Kingdom on Fire series. Betrayal, loyalty, bravery, forgiveness and power bring this story to life. So much takes place that I feel like anything I share would spoil the story. Nettie’s friends have secrets and burdens of their own, most of which are revealed. Complex and character developing best describes A Poison Dark and Drowning, 5 stars!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Mesmerizing cover and enchanting story!
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a young adult fantasy full of tragedy.
A large family, living in an estate by the sea, continues to lose family members. Several sisters and their mother die from a variety of causes. Verity, one of Annaleigh’s younger sisters, sees the deceased siblings as ghosts, who are injured according to how they died. Verity sketches what she sees but doesn’t seem frightened by the injured ghosts. Annaleigh is adamant that someone killed Eulalie because suspicion surrounds her death. On and on this tragedy continues and the sisters become confused about what’s really happened and what are illusions. The sisters love each other and have been close so the losses are tearing them apart. Annaleigh learns about a Trickster who causes chaos and she tries to figure out who called the Trickster and made a selfish deal, ending in ripping their family into pieces. Full of fantasy and mystery, this book weaves a beautifully written tale of enchantment, 5 stars!

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

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Illusions or truth?
Thanks to Edelweiss and Bookish First for the opportunity to read and review an advance reader copy of Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall!
The synopsis thrilled me with promises of haunted mysteries and horrific obstacles to come as Sara searches for her missing sister, Becca. It all begins with a text to Briar Glen High students about a game they can play, the same game Lucy went to play. The book contains case files, text messages, group messages and historical accounts of what happened to Lucy all those years ago. The story builds anticipation for the anniversary of Lucy’s disappearance, the search Sara and her friends are going to make and the game they are preparing for. They are all worried for Sara’s mental health and don’t want her to be alone as she searches the woods for Becca, her missing sister. Sara’s friends meet at the designated area just before midnight on the anniversary of the disappearance and Sara shows up on her own. She believes that they all broke the rules. The group of teenagers doesn’t realize the true dangers that are in their near future as the supernatural takes over. Death, confusion, memory loss and a demon await! Spooky horror story worth 4 stars!

Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!

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Riveting read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!
It took me a minute to get into the book because I was annoyed at the submissive behavior of the main character, Mena. As I read on, I realized that submissiveness is the reason behind the story. The teen girls are taught to listen without question and do everything in their power to please and appease others. Disturbing but so on point with gender discrimination. The poem entitled Girls with Sharp sticks encompasses everything about this story, including the book’s namesake. As I read and reread the poem, found on pages 154-156, I feel disgusted, hopeful, saddened, angered, afraid and then a little cautiously hopeful at the end. It sums up the story concisely. POWERFUL. A thought-provoking read, 5 stars!

Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

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Love, loyalty, bravery and perseverance!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson!
Kazi and Jase are heading to his home when they receive a cryptic message that they’re not sure they can trust. The message says that Samuel is dead. They’re devastated and Jase takes off towards his home, with Kazi close behind. They’re attacked and the last thing she knows about Jase is that he’s been shot with several arrows and one of those arrows was embedded in his chest. Someone grabs Jase. Later, Kazi sees a severed hand with his ring on it. She continues staying in Jase’s kingdom even though it’s been overrun with attacks and most of his family fled and is in hiding. Kazi stays to help Lydia and Nash, Jase’s young siblings. Kazi isn’t sure if she can trust anyone and the danger spirals around her. I can’t say much more without giving some of the story away! An intriguing story of love, loyalty, bravery and perseverance, 5 stars!

Dorothy and the Glass Key by Christopher J. Finn

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Thanks to Austin Macaulay Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Dorothy and the Glass Key by Christopher J. Finn!
Dorothy, a twenty-five year old who is wheelchair bound, is brought to a recovery center for hopeful assistance. A friend brought her to the center after searching the world for help but not getting any changes in Dorothy. She’s catatonic but looks healthy otherwise. The center administrator is baffled so the friend tells her the story of how it all began eleven years earlier.
Rags explains the keys and worlds that he, Dorothy and their mutual friend Charlie used and visited. Traveling to each other’s worlds, building friendships with each other and helping each other cope with life’s struggles made their relationships strong. An evil presence took away all that was good, along with their memories and the pain they had endured. The story comes full circle and the ending surprised me!
Interesting concept and story but the grammatical errors took away from that, (example: taught instead of taut). I also would have liked to know more about the antagonist’s background. 3.5 stars for this fantasy mystery!