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.
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!
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!
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick. The opening chapter spooked my thriller instinct while the second chapter was optimistic and lighthearted. Britt and Korbie are heading to the Wyoming mountains for spring break and on the way to Korbie’s family cabin the weather becomes dire. They leave their Jeep in search of shelter and find two young men in a cabin. Their spring break goes from fun and hopeful and from bad to worse. A whirlwind of events makes Black Ice a must-read mystery! For a book that contains less than 400 pages, it packs quite a punch! Becca Fitzpatrick weaves an engaging story full of suspense that doesn’t quit, characters that become more complex as the mystery unfolds and descriptions that immersed my imagination in the cold winter storms in the Teton Mountains, 5 intense stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! Roseblood. Rune is being taken to an elite school in France and wonders what the motives of her relatives are by helping her have access to this expensive school and paying for everything she needs from tuition to uniforms, when they haven’t been kind or close in the past. Her father passed away years ago and his relations are the ones helping Rune with acceptance to the school. Her mother has traveled from Harmony, Texas with Rune to take her to the school. For some reason, Rune needed to leave her hometown because of some kind of trouble she caused. Her father shared a musical talent with Rune and without him, this talent is taking a toll on her health and life. As I read, I became more engrossed in this interesting twist on “The Phantom of the Opera”. Chapter four intrigued me with it’s foreshadowing and I couldn’t stop reading after that! Magic is somehow involved with this story along with a bit of the supernatural. Each chapter begins with a literary quote that applies to the chapter content and, as always, I appreciate and enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book which explains A. G. Howard’s research into the truth behind the Phantom. A supernatural fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, told with imagination and complex, multidimensional characters, 5 stars!
You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando is fun, action packed and adventurous. Reagan has been trained to be a Black Angel agent, like her parents are, since she was very young. Black Angels are secret agents and, as the book opens, a hitman breaks into Reagan’s home to kill her and her parents. After the hitman is dispersed, Reagan and her parents need to move for their safety once again. In their new house, Reagan finds friendship and a possible boyfriend that she feels completely comfortable with but with becoming an agent looming in her future, she knows that the relationship is doomed and she’s determined to hurt Luke as little as possible. She sabotages their relationship soon after it starts, breaking Luke’s heart and her own. This book is full of action and suspense and I don’t want to give anything away! I read this young adult mystery quickly, enjoying every minute! 5 stars!
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!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross! Lulu is best friends with Jek, Jayesh Emerson Kapoor, who’s a scientific genius. It seems that someone named Hyde has stolen Jek’s bank account information and Lulu wants to get to the bottom of it. This guy Hyde also paid off a teenage girl that he presumably assaulted and people are talking about him and not at all in a good way. Lulu, with the rest of the community, is trying to figure out who Hyde really is and how he’s connected to Jek, especially since Hyde seems to be wreaking havoc and ultimately commits murder. When Lulu discovers the mystery of all that is Hyde, her life changes forever. 5 stars for this engaging young adult mystery with an ending that leaves space for the imagination!
*I received a complimentary copy for voluntary consideration
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!
Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook! On the front cover of the book is a nailed sign stating “TRUST NO ONE. DECEIVE EVERYONE.” I was immediately interested in the book’s contents! The synopsis is even more intriguing. Skye, a tarot card reader, has absolutely no money and doesn’t want to let her best friend Drew down. The two of them plan on living together in New York after high school but Skye doesn’t know how to make that happen. Because of money problems, Skye becomes part of an elaborate kidnapping scheme and, even though she wants out, Skye keeps getting pulled in even deeper. The mystery has many twists and keeps changing until the end of the book. An impressive mystery worth 5 stars!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.