PrePub Pick: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

PrePub Pick: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys Banner Photo

A Mesmerizing YA Historical Romance Sheds Light on Franco Dictatorship

Ruta Sepety’s fourth novel, The Fountains of Silence, enthralls and educates teen and adult readers in the experiences of people whose histories often  skimmed over in American-centric history classes, this time under the Francoist Spain dictatorship in 1957. Sepety’s maintains her unique ability to accurately describe terrible scenes gracefully, without ever having to rely on shock and awe to hold the attention of the reader. 

Sepety brings her talents and respect to Francoist Spain 1957. Life is repressed under the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and Ana Torres Moreno is a 17 year-old “red” orphan who works as a  housekeeper in the newly opened Castellana Hilton Madrid. Ana clocks long hours to help support her remaining family, and to pay the “rent” on her mother’s grave plot, which is required in order to prevent eviction into a mass grave.  Spain and the United States have reached an agreement in which US military bases will open in the strategically placed locations within the country, in exchange for economic support. Investors, particularly in oil, flock from places like Texas to strike deals and shake hands. 

Daniel Matheson’s father is one of these oil men. Daniel is an aspiring photographer who has just graduated high school, and travels to Spain with his Spanish mother and Texan father for the summer. Early in his trip Daniel captures a picture that propels his investigation, and documentation, of some of Spain’s darkest moments in history. With Ana’s assistance, along with a few friends and mentors he meets during his stay, Daniel’s work leads to revelations that will take decades to come to light. 

Written in many short chapters and multiple points-of-view, the action is fast-paced. Ana and Daniels initial encounter sparks a companionship that leaves them both hoping for the other’s heart. Though this novel’s dark nature is undeniable, the flirtations, descriptions of longing, and sort-of HEA hit the romance criteria. Adults, older teens, and historical fiction fanatics simply must pick this satisfying gem of a book. Highly recommended! 

Place a hold on The Fountains of Silence by clicking here!

Many thanks to NetGalley's Bookish First and Philomel Books/Penguin Teen for providing me an ARC this title in exchange for an honest review.

Read More

Pre-Pub Pick: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Pre-Pub Pick: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong Banner Photo

Pre-Pub Pick: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Expected publication: June 4, 2019 by Penguin Press)

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is the new, authentic American novel that lifts the veil of the life of young man on the outside.  Little Dog, a Vietnamese first generation American, writes a pensive letter to his mother. This letter is a lyrical, stream-of-consciousness personal history that illustrates the conflicting societal narratives, issues and experiences of adults who came of age in the late 90's and early 2000's- particularly for Asian Americans and other minorities. Anyone who grew up in America in the past 30 years has known or loved someone who has overdosed- and Little Dog wistfully recounts the heartbreak, anger and shame felt by those left behind.

Little Dog's searing truths about his family secrets, sexual awakening, and the poverty and addiction that have surrounded him are, to him, a private release- his mother cannot read- but the catharsis leaves the reader with much to mull over. Vuong's raw descriptions reflect of the realities of how race, class, family, sexual orientation and immigration status- all these labels- are all parts on a often conflicting, American identity. Highly recommended for all.

Place a hold on On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by clicking here!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Press for providing me an advanced e-galley of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Read More

Pre-Pub Pick: Haunting Paris by Mamta Chaudhry

Pre-Pub Pick: Haunting Paris by Mamta Chaudhry Banner Photo

Pre-Pub Pick: Haunting Paris by Mamta Chaudhry (Expected publication: June 18, 2019 by Nan A. Talese)

Paris, 1989: Sylvie, a middle aged musician and piano teacher, is deeply grieving the loss of her older lover, Julian. Though unable to divorce his wife, Sylvie and Julian's love for eachother transcends death, as Julian watches over Sylvie. Perhaps sensing his presence, it seems Sylvie will never escape her all consuming sorrow- until she finds a strange note in Julian's desk that sets forwards a series of questions that Sylvie is unwilling to leave unanswered. 

An authentic and original story about love, grief, and learning to move forward, even when your heart is stuck in the past. With multiple narrators (including one supernatural being) Chaudhry gracefully portrays the varying points-of-view in a compelling and relevant style that propels the entire story. Haunting Paris is a romantic, literary mystery that leaves the reader wholly satisfied.

Place a hold on Haunting Paris by clicking here!

Many thanks to Edelweiss and Nan A. Talese  for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Read More

Pre-Pub Pick: Biloxi by Mary Miller

Pre-Pub Pick: Biloxi by Mary Miller Banner Photo

Pre-Pub Pick: Biloxi by Mary Miller (Expected publication: May 21, 2019 by Liveright).

Sixty-three-year-old Louis McDonald, Jr. has seen better days. His wife, Ellen, has left him after 30  years of a cheerless marriage. He has recently retired, and his remaining family, including his ex-brother-in-law and Louis's daughter, Maxine, and her young family, all but exasperate him. But when Louis comes across a free dog named Layla, life begins to speed up. Suddenly Louis is meeting women, dodging enemies and actually feeling all the highs and lows that life thrusts upon us all. With Layla by his side, Louis begins to open both his mind and his heart to all the possibilities he long thought past. 

Miller's honest novel perfectly details the loneliness and isolation felt by millions, particularly seniors, with humor, compassion, and hope. Biloxi is the American A Man Called Ove. Dog lovers, southern fiction fans, and those needing a jolt of optimism- so basically everyone- should pick this up.

Place a hold on Biloxi by clicking here!

Many thanks to Edelweiss and Liveright for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Read More