Category Archives: Blog Tour

Blog Tour : The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – Review + Moodboard – @PenguinTeen

The Fountains of Silence (Penguin Link)
by Ruta Sepetys

BOOK DESCRIPTION

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray comes a gripping, extraordinary portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

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 promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an 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 difficult 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 postwar struggles of Spain.

Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.


Release Date : October 1st, 2019, Available Now

Official Site / Ruta Sepetys Official Site

Amazon / B&N / Audible / Book Depository


Author Bio

Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of GrayOut of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.


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Review

The Fountains of Silence is a lengthy work of historical fiction. While categorized as YA, I found the writing style to be elegant enough that adults might very well enjoy this novel more than the YA demographic. The story lingers on insightful yet subtle details, unfolding a series of sub-plots from the perspectives of multiple characters. These 500+ pages are split into 149 chapters. Each chapter being a couple of pages long lends a freshness to the proceedings. The quick shifts between different viewpoints and situations imparts small but worthwhile tidbits of information.

Interspersed among these chapters are a number of small article clippings and quotations from real publications- they serve to explain background details and inspiration for this novel. I really liked these inclusions and feel they serve a helpful role in adding needed information about the time period and political climate of Franco’s dictatorship.

The setting is Madrid, Spain in 1957. The most well-formed of the characters is Daniel, a fledgling photographer traveling with his parents to a Hilton hotel in Spain. Daniel himself was born and raised in America and is part-Spanish on his mother’s side. Eager to explore Spain for the first time, he makes friends quickly but there is an atmosphere of subtle danger to his exploration. There is a sense of deeply rooted, multi-generational suffering that Daniel (and perhaps, the reader) has minimal knowledge of. He, along with the reader, gradually learns more through the friendships forged and his interest in photography. Some of the situations he stumbles upon and artistic, incisive snapshots he takes hint toward terrible happenings behind the scenes.

Aside from Daniel, we learn about Ana, a maid at the hotel Daniel is staying at. Her family was victim to Franco’s regime. She and her family members have tried hard to stay under the radar, all while continuing to face injustice. Then there is Puri, a young nun whose curiosity leads to some troubling discoveries central to the main plot. We also get to know Ana’s brother, Rafa who has a close friend in Fuga, a talented and driven matador-in-training. They’ve cultivated an endearing friendship.

I would also like to note that while horrific events are referenced, they are not detailed in any gory or gratuitous manner. The writing, by and large, is graceful and delicately handled.

To sum up what I liked about this book- the prose is solid and consistent, with a clean polish and simple flow despite the clearly large amount of research that went into this title. The end pages contain a bibliography detailing how many sources were utilized in the writing of this novel. The pictures and glossary for Spanish phrases is also helpful. I do wish there was a detailed character guide though. The cast is large and it can be easy to forget some side characters if you take a long break between reading sessions.

The climax and later chapters do well in wrapping up what happens to the characters years later. I was fairly satisfied with the ending, which is so important after a 500+ page investment.

Now for what I didn’t like so much, or what I can sense may be roadblocks to enjoyment for other people. Note the title, The Fountains of Silence. The main characters move about their lives slowly, in fear of their government and any sort of action that might put a target on their back. They rarely speak frankly to each other.

The secrecy, the wan niceness of the characters, the lack of options or plans beyond being obedient or coming off as such- these aspects serve to make the story move in a manner that can easily come off as too slow and lacking eventfulness.

Some of the most interesting tidbits develop gradually, with the protagonists seeming very passive all throughout. When it comes to Ana for example, I had very little to think or say about her character for a large portion of this book. I eventually warmed up to her character though. Ultimately, it’s easy to understand and feel compassion for the characters given the multiple generations of oppression. Nonetheless, this reading experience might call for a higher-than-average level of patience and an appreciation for often mild, subtle snapshots into the everyday lives of these characters.

Why You Should Try It – The short chapters and multiple perspectives increase the readability. The well-chosen, frequent and historic tidbits add further understanding. What would otherwise be a heavy and dense subject matter is quite comprehensive. There is a quiet dignity to this narrative, and it educates the reader of an important and underreported time in recent history.

Why You Might Not Like It – The very things that make the writing so elegant and careful can make the unfolding of events and characterization come off as slow-moving and lacking intensity.


Tour Schedule

Week One

September 30 – The Paige Turner – Creative Instagram Picture

October 1 – Fangirl Fury – Review

October 2 – Tome and Textiles – Wardrobe Wednesday with Cover Recreation

October 3 – The Lovely Books – Moodboard

October 4 – The Lovely Loveday – Review

Week Two

October 7 – ReadsRandiRead – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

October 8 – Confessions of a Book Addict – Listicle: 10 Reasons To Read Fountains of Silence

October 9 – As The Book Ends – Playlist

October 10 – Lollipopsandlyrics – Creative Instagram Picture

October 11 – Metal Phantasm Reads – Review + Playlist  

Week Three

October 14 – Sunshine and Mountains – Listicle: “Movies to watch if you loved Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys”.

October 15 – Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner – Moodboard + Review

October 16 – Cracking the Cover – Review

October 17 – Jessabella Reads – Review

October 18 – The Baroness of Books – Moodboard + Review  


Disclosure : I received an ARC (uncorrected proof) of The Fountains of Silence from @PenguinTeen as part of this blog tour.


Blog Tour : Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera – Mood Board – @PenguinTeen

Juliet Takes A Breath
by Gabby Rivera

Summary

Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon, to intern with her favorite feminist writer–what’s sure to be a life-changing experience. And when Juliet’s coming out crashes and burns, she’s not sure her mom will ever speak to her again. 

     But Juliet has a plan–sort of. Her internship with legendary author Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff, is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . . 

     In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.


Release Date : Hardcover, September 17, 2019 – Available Now

Official Site / Gabby Rivera’s Official Site

Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / Audible Audiobook


Author Bio

Gabby Rivera is a Bronx-born queer Latinx babe on a mission to create the wildest, most fun stories ever. She’s the first Latina to write for Marvel comics, penning the solo series AMERICA about America Chavez, a portal-punching queer Latina powerhouse. In 2017, Gabby was named one of the top comic creators by the SyFy network, and one of NBC’s #Pride30 Innovators. Gabby now makes magic on both coasts, currently residing in California. She writes for all the sweet baby queers and her mom.


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My Review

Juliet Takes A Breath is a contemporary YA stand-alone taking place in the early 2000s. Juliet is a young feminist latina who has just introduced massive changes to her life. Within the first couple chapters she’s come out as lesbian to her family and moved from her diverse home (The Bronx) to Portland, Oregon to be mentored to a popular feminist writer, Harlowe Brisbane.

Throughout the book we see passages from Harlowe’s feminist self-help book. Juliet, embarking on a road of self discovery, is eager to explore and embrace all sides of her identity- even though the intersections of these often become an issue. In The Bronx she faced homophobia, in largely white Portland she faces racist micro-aggressions. Juliet’s understanding of herself and other people evolve a lot across the course of this narrative.

I really appreciated how this title had a number of fantastic and thought-provoking adult characters. This is a title that can appeal to young adults AND adults, but remains thoughtfully devoted to Juliet’s point of view. I really liked how the adults were also capable of missteps, and the reader seems encouraged to meaningfully question authority figures when they are out of touch.

What really got my attention in this book was Juliet herself. She’s a very frank and inquisitive character. At first I found her a bit childish and off-putting, but before long I was swept into her psyche and world, bonding quickly with the characterization.

While I liked this book from the start, it’s really one that grows and gets better from chapter to chapter. The dialogue is in-depth yet natural, with several passages worth highlighting and moments that are strikingly relevant. At many turns, conversations between characters had me feeling strongly.

The writing style makes it easy to get directly into Juliet’s head, the prose reads like a diary revealing innermost thoughts in a no-holds-barred way. While this book has many useful thoughts on sexism, racism, and homophobia; it is by no means a beginners guide or out to coax dissenters into changing their position. If you’re looking for a very gentle introduction to these themes, there are probably more suitable options out there.

Juliet’s voice radiating energy, openness, gusto, and confidence. She meets people who have bright and insightful things to say that aid in the growth of her self image. The ways she navigates her life and especially the way she talks to herself came off as over-the-top at first but I found these little statements increasingly empowering to read about. I often left reading sessions of this book feeling like I just got back from a trip to my 18 year old self and unraveled various tangles of ignorance. The climax and ending have some of the most important snippets of dialogue I’ve come across in YA.

While I only relate (in part) to a few of the difficulties faced by Juliet, its taken years to process the tolls taken on self esteem and identity. Growing up, I had rarely read #ownvoices books like these. They were deep within the margins and prominently under-represented, or written in a less attached way by people outside of those margins. It really cannot be understated how important it is for books like this to spread, and the positive force they can be in people’s lives.

I want to talk about so many things that happened in this book but my aims are for this review to be spoiler-free. But I am going to talk about Maxine, without revealing much. In short, Maxine is the girlfriend of Juliet’s mentor, Harlowe. At first, I thought Maxine was being too hard on Harlowe when they would discuss race. I thought the character was not very likable. Let me just say, upon finishing this book, Maxine is one of the best characters. Toward the end she has THE BEST dialogue in the book. I need to photocopy this one particular page with a conversation between she and Juliet and put it on my wall. It would be great to get a time machine to take that page to my 18 year-old self, who never had but very much needed a Maxine in her life to get her head on straight and instill thoughtfulness and bravery much earlier. I mentioned this before and I’ll close on this note again, this book is important and there are people who stand to gain so much from reading it.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – I thought Juliet was OK, then likable, then lovable. She grows and evolves, and is a fantastically formed character by book’s end. The overall vibe of this title is vibrant, realistic, and inspires energy and self-love. There are many moments of fantastic and highlight-worthy character dialogue. The friendships, relationships, and interactions are heartfelt and well-conveyed.


Tour Schedule

September 16 – Selina’s Book Nook – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

September 17 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review

September 18 – Thindbooks – Top 5 Quotes + Listicle

September 19 – Forever and Everly – Creative Instagram Picture

September 20 – Allisonreadsdc – Creative Instagram Picture

September 23 – Books with Dorothy – Inspired By The Book – Cover Recreation.

September 24 – A Bronx Latina Reads – Review

September 25 – Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner – Moodboard <-you are here 🙂

September 26 – wocreader – Review


Disclosure : I received an ARC (uncorrected proof) of Juliet Takes A Breath from @PenguinTeen as part of this blog tour.