Book Review

Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta SepetysThe Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical
Release Date: 1st October 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography--and fate--introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War--as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence--inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.

I am a massive fan of Sepetys’ work, and I have been ever since I read Between Shades of Gray when it first came out. I find her writing to be very emotional, so it was a shame when The Fountains of Silence managed to drag on for me and didn’t evoke many emotions at all.

My main issue with The Fountains of Silence was that it was far too long. At 140 small chapters, the plot both dragged and jumped around from person to person, and I found myself extremely bored in the middle and completely disconnected. I was often just getting used to one point of view before the book switched to someone else’s, and so I had a hard time getting attached to any of the characters. I also found the romance to be really unbelievable, but I’ve also been told that I’m too cynical so who knows? Although I’d like to point out that it wasn’t the YA romance that I had a problem with.

I normally adore Sepety’s writing style, but unfortunately The Fountains of Silence was rather bland. I have found that I tend to connect to her WW2 fiction more than her other work.

Having said all of that, I have given The Fountains of Silence three stars because I did really enjoy learning more about post-WW2 Spain. This isn’t a topic that was covered in school here in the UK (at least in my area), and I honestly had no idea that Spain was under fascist rule for so long after the Second World War ended. It’s definitely opened my eyes and it’s now a topic that I’d like to look into more. I had the same experience with Don’t Date Rosa Santos and Cuba, as Cuba vs. the US is another topic that isn’t covered by the curriculum here. It’s always nice when there are gaps in my knowledge to fill (lol).

I would recommend checking this book out if you’re an avid fan of Sepetys, just so you don’t miss out on anything. As I said above, it’s also a good read if you want an introduction to post-war Spain and the issues there. If this is your first Sepetys book, please don’t be put off by it, as her other books are so. much. better.

Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The How & the Why, a new contemporary book by Cynthia Hand. I absolutely loved this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on it! I also put together a (somewhat messy) playlist for the book, so scroll to the bottom for that. It’s not in any particular order, but the songs all relate to scenes in the book. You can view the full tour schedule here to check out posts from the other tour hosts! I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia HandThe How & the Why by Cynthia Hand
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th November 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

The How & the Why is the first Cynthia Hand book I’ve read in years. I started her paranormal series, Unearthly, when it first came out, and I remember absolutely loving it. In fact, I think only statement on Goodreads was gushing about the book and then promising that a review was to come (spoiler: a review didn’t come). After remembering all of this, I was very excited to read her newest contemporary, because I’m always happy when authors switch genres.

I was initially drawn to The How & the Why because after reading Far From the Tree, I’ve been really interested in adoption stories. I actually think this fascination started way earlier, but FFTT kicked things off again. You’ll probably see a lot of comparisons between the two books because they deal with a very similar subject matter, although FFTT deals more with sibling relationships than best friendships and the teen trying to find their birth mother.

I absolutely loved the main character, Cass, in The How & the Why. She was incredibly relatable in so many ways, and the relationship between her and her best friend, Nyla, was amazing. I loved the way it was written, and I loved that the focus on them didn’t sway when a potential love interest showed up.

The How & the Why is incredibly deep and heartwarming. The letters from S, Cass’s birth mother, were adorable, and such a good insight into how a teen mother-to-be could be feeling. I would have read a whole story about S, to be honest.

The ending was both satisfying… and not. It had really great build up, but I wanted more, and I think a lot of readers will feel the same way. I wasn’t disappointed in the ending at all, and I don’t think it detracts from the book, but I would definitely love it if Cynthia Hand were to write a sequel or a short story about what happened there at the end. Of course, it wouldn’t really align with the personal story that Cynthia Hand was telling, but I’m so attached to these characters now that I want to read more about them.

I’m so incredibly glad that I picked this book up on a whim because I would have missed out on so much heart warming goodness if I had skipped over it. Apparently I’m not sick of YA contemporary yet, I’m just sick of YA romances! Who’d have thought.

Blog Tour: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy, a YA fantasy debut that came out earlier in October. In this fantasy world, memories are used as a currency, and are bartered, traded, and sometimes stolen. I had a lot of fun reading this one, and I’m excited to share my thoughts (and a giveaway!) with you. You can view the full tour schedule here to check out posts from the other tour hosts! I obviously received The Memory Thief for free in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: The Memory Thief by Lauren MansyThe Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 1st October 2019
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal's" memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
 

Apparently I’m a masive sucker for anything to do with weird currency or transactions, because as soon as I heard about The Memory Thief I was comparing to Everless and I was getting really excited. The concept of memories being sold, traded, and stolen is a fantastic idea, and also mildly terrifying.

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If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser

If You’re Out There by Katy LoutzenhiserIf You're Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th March 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.

If You’re Out There was kind of adorable! It was more of a low-key mystery than a full on thriller, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m really glad I decided to pick it up, which I did because the ghosting thing seemed relatable and I was intrigued.

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Fan the Fame by Anna Priemaza

Fan the Fame by Anna PriemazaFan the Fame by Anna Premaza
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 20th August 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Lainey wouldn’t mind lugging a camera around a video game convention for her brother, aka YouTube superstar Codemeister, except for one big problem. He’s funny and charming online, but behind closed doors, Cody is a sexist jerk.

SamTheBrave came to this year’s con with one mission: meeting Codemeister—because getting his idol’s attention could be the big break Sam needs.

ShadowWillow is already a successful streamer. But when her fans start shipping her with Code, Shadow concocts a plan to turn the rumors to her advantage.

The three teens’ paths collide when Lainey records one of Cody’s hateful rants on video. Because she’s determined to spill the truth to her brother’s fans—even if that means putting Sam and Shadow in the crosshairs.

I have some mixed feelings about Fan the Fame. On the one hand, I really enjoyed both the concept and the setting. On the other, one of the main characters was almost completely insufferable, and her character arc over the course of the book was less of an arc than a straight line.

In case you don’t know, I’m on Youtube. My channel is a Booktube channel, but I also watch a lot of gaming videos and I’ve been to quite a few conventions in my time. As such, I absolutely loved this concept. I loved that the characters were all going to a gaming convention, and that two of them had Youtube channels and wanted to make it on there. I could really relate to Sam and Shadow when they were talking about working hard on growing their channels and networking. I think a lot of bloggers and Bookstagrammers would be able to relate to this as well, so it’s not just Booktubers who would enjoy this part of the book.

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