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Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares

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Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she'd expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what's worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can't escape the feeling that she's all alone in the world. Pao has no one to tell that sh Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she'd expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what's worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can't escape the feeling that she's all alone in the world. Pao has no one to tell that she's having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante's abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman. Pao's search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them? Once again Tehlor Kay Mejia draws on her Mexican heritage to tell a wild and wondrous story that combines creatures from folklore with modern-day challenges.


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Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she'd expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what's worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can't escape the feeling that she's all alone in the world. Pao has no one to tell that sh Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she'd expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what's worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can't escape the feeling that she's all alone in the world. Pao has no one to tell that she's having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante's abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman. Pao's search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them? Once again Tehlor Kay Mejia draws on her Mexican heritage to tell a wild and wondrous story that combines creatures from folklore with modern-day challenges.

30 review for Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares

  1. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    Six months have passed since Paola Santiago took on the legendary spirit, La Llorona. Since that time, a lot has changed in Pao's life and she wouldn't say for the better. She has grown distant from her two best friends, Emma and Dante, barely speaking to them anymore. Add to this the fact that her Mom has an annoying new boyfriend practically living at their house. Yeah, not great. Additionally, Pao's still having nightmares. This time set in a dark, creepy forest where her Dad plays a recurring Six months have passed since Paola Santiago took on the legendary spirit, La Llorona. Since that time, a lot has changed in Pao's life and she wouldn't say for the better. She has grown distant from her two best friends, Emma and Dante, barely speaking to them anymore. Add to this the fact that her Mom has an annoying new boyfriend practically living at their house. Yeah, not great. Additionally, Pao's still having nightmares. This time set in a dark, creepy forest where her Dad plays a recurring role. The Dad she really knows nothing about and barely remembers. When Dante's abuela collapses right in front of Pao, some things she was saying just prior, prompts Pao to believe the two occurrences, her dreams and Dante's abuela's mysterious illness, are connected. Pao also believes that her father may be the key to saving Dante's abeula. It's a race against time as Pao, begrudingly joined by Dante, hits the road to Oregon to try to track down her Dad. Luckily, the two are able to pair up with their old friend, Ninos leader, Naomi, who contributes quite a bit on their journey. Again the kids must face down incredibly dangerous and frightening supernatural entities on more than one occasion. This book got scary, y'all. I mean it! Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares is an incredible sequel. I felt like with this novel, even though it is packed full of action, I got to know the characters more. Pao in particular. In the first installment, I felt a bit disconnected from her. There was so much action, it was chaotic and I never felt like I really understood her. I was so focused on what was going on in the periphery. But with this novel, I feel like learning more about her family, her feelings of loneliness and self doubt, I truly came to care for her. She is such a soft, sweet, yet strong character, who grew by leaps and bounds over the course of this story. Mejia does a great job of tying creatures of folklore into a modern, compelling tale. It's evident from this book that there is a lot more of Pao's story to tell. I feel like we are just scratching the surface of complications for this spunky girl. In short, this is a super fun Middle Grade adventure story, perfect for Readers who enjoy a bit of darker, don't turn out the lights, content in their stories! I am greatly looking forward to meeting up with Pao again and going on another adventure. Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always with books found within the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, this dazzled me with its high-stakes, page-turning content. Well done by Mejia!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Drew's ambitious reading

    Paola santiago and the forest of nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia is the second installment in this middle grade trilogy! I really enjoyed this one I think I loved the first book more than this one though. For me this book was a little slow in the beginning but it picked up halfway through I littearly read the last half in one sitting and that cliffhanger though! How am I supposed to wait until summer 2022 for the third book?! So overall I gave this sequel a 4 stars!(:

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    I'm a selftaught seventh-grade scientist, not a white lady with a podcast about true crime! Rating: Really Enjoyed It I really enjoyed this book! i loved the first installment telling the story of Paola's stand against La Llarona, and this one picks up not too long after the first book. However, things are different. Emma came out to her parents and joined the LGBTQIA+ group at their school, and Pao has drifted away from her, feeling that she doesn't fit in with her new, rich, white friends. Dante I'm a selftaught seventh-grade scientist, not a white lady with a podcast about true crime! Rating: Really Enjoyed It I really enjoyed this book! i loved the first installment telling the story of Paola's stand against La Llarona, and this one picks up not too long after the first book. However, things are different. Emma came out to her parents and joined the LGBTQIA+ group at their school, and Pao has drifted away from her, feeling that she doesn't fit in with her new, rich, white friends. Dante has been stand-offish for a while, and Pao doesn't really know why, attributing it to some boy-girl weirdness when they tried to maybe be more than friends. And to top everything off, her mother is dating a guy named Aaron and is not paying much attention to Pao other than to force her into bonding sessions over pizza with the new guy. When Dante's grandmother is in trouble, the three friends come together to once again set off on a quest to deal with the supernatural. I thought that this was an excellent sequel - it tied up some of the loose ends that we had from the first book relating to Pao's questions about her dad. We get to see the Ninos again, and meet some new supernatural creatures along the way. I love the incorporation of the lore and the fact that Paola herself doesn't know it very well and is trying to put all the pieces together as she is going on. This book deals with ideas of friendship, betrayal, and acceptance of who you are as a person. I loved seeing Pao make some new friends and come to the realization of exactly how she should be treated. There are also bigger themes relating to social inequality and racism, but they are just part of Pao's life and aren't super preachy. I personally enjoyed the supernatural escapades perhaps a bit more in the first one, but this was definitely fun. There were some pieces at the end that I didn't quite understand, but that didn't really lessen my enjoyment. We have an opening that points to where the next book will likely go, and I look forward to that adventure as well! Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide/Rick Riordan presents for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an ARC and may be changed in the final version. Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares releases August 3, 2021!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    The eponymous Paola and her besties Dante Mata and Emma Lockwood, now 13, still haven’t recovered from the supernatural terrors that nearly took them all. But Paola feels that the lesbian Emma seems more interested in her new political friends, and Dante gets ever-more distant. Things come to a head when the supernatural that they thought had been defeated invades the hospital where Dante’s grandmother, Señora Mata, lies conscious. Paola realizes that it’s up to her to set things right and save The eponymous Paola and her besties Dante Mata and Emma Lockwood, now 13, still haven’t recovered from the supernatural terrors that nearly took them all. But Paola feels that the lesbian Emma seems more interested in her new political friends, and Dante gets ever-more distant. Things come to a head when the supernatural that they thought had been defeated invades the hospital where Dante’s grandmother, Señora Mata, lies conscious. Paola realizes that it’s up to her to set things right and save the old lady and find out why the supernatural can’t leave her alone. Again, author Tehlor Kay Mejia weaves Mexican-American folktales and legends (La Llorona, el Chupacabra, elves and visionary dreams) into a suspenseful tale of the importance of family and friends. While not quite as outstanding as the first book, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, readers will thoroughly enjoy the sequel, which ends with a cliffhanger. Can’t wait to see what’s next! In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley, Disney Publishing Worldwide and Rick Riordan Presents in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Forgit

    Another excellent book from the Rick Riordan Presents series! I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Netgalley.. The story line is exciting and it is a true page turner! There are a lot of references to the first book in the series, but it can be read alone. I do wish there was more explanation around the entities, like in Percy Jackson, so you could easily reference the foundation myths. Great book, can’t wait to see what Pao does next!!! This book does an amazing job of introducing difficult top Another excellent book from the Rick Riordan Presents series! I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Netgalley.. The story line is exciting and it is a true page turner! There are a lot of references to the first book in the series, but it can be read alone. I do wish there was more explanation around the entities, like in Percy Jackson, so you could easily reference the foundation myths. Great book, can’t wait to see what Pao does next!!! This book does an amazing job of introducing difficult topics including racism , prejudice, and topics surrounding the LGBTQ community in an organic way. Could easily lend itself to discussions with children or students!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Whew! Paola went through a lot in book 2!! From barely talking to Dante and Emma, to her mom's new annoying boyfriend to her nightmares coming back worse and full of her estranged father. As weird as it is to say, I enjoyed watching Paola struggle with her friendships; it shows miscommunication happens at any age. My favorite folklore in this book is Estrella, a duendecillo, who helps Paola and her friends in the forest. This was a great story about learning to embrace all the parts that make yo Whew! Paola went through a lot in book 2!! From barely talking to Dante and Emma, to her mom's new annoying boyfriend to her nightmares coming back worse and full of her estranged father. As weird as it is to say, I enjoyed watching Paola struggle with her friendships; it shows miscommunication happens at any age. My favorite folklore in this book is Estrella, a duendecillo, who helps Paola and her friends in the forest. This was a great story about learning to embrace all the parts that make you an individual, even if you are unsure about who you want to become. Just what middle school students need! Thanks NetGalley!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pine Reads Review

    “Everything had changed. And Pao didn’t know how to change it back.” Six months ago, Paola Santiago went on a death-defying adventure full of ghosts and creatures from the void. After returning to her normal (read: boring) life, Pao hoped things with her friends and family would change for the better. Except now her best friends, Emma and Dante, are barely talking to her and her mom has a new, irritating boyfriend. Pao feels like she has no one to turn to, especially when her nightmares begin aga “Everything had changed. And Pao didn’t know how to change it back.” Six months ago, Paola Santiago went on a death-defying adventure full of ghosts and creatures from the void. After returning to her normal (read: boring) life, Pao hoped things with her friends and family would change for the better. Except now her best friends, Emma and Dante, are barely talking to her and her mom has a new, irritating boyfriend. Pao feels like she has no one to turn to, especially when her nightmares begin again, this time taking place in a mysterious forest and centering around the father she hasn’t seen since was three. Everything in Pao’s life seems like it’s falling apart, and when Dante’s abuela falls into a weird—probably magical—coma, Pao knows it’s up to her to fix it. She embarks on a quest to get some answers, but with nothing as it seems, Pao must dig deep within herself if she wants to save everyone she loves in time. If you thought you knew everything about Paola Santiago and her world, think again. With this sequel, Tehlor Kay Mejia has proven that there is so much more to discover about Pao, her family and friends, and the void than we readers had ever thought possible. Pao is an exciting and complex character, and I loved following her journey to discover who she truly is. I also enjoyed reading about the other characters, both those we’d met before and those new to this story. It was especially fun to truly get to know Emma, since she was absent for most of the first book. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Rick Riordan Presents novel without something magical, and I absolutely loved learning more about the magical elements and creatures of Mexican-American mythology. With chill-inducing thrills and all the heart and hope we’ve come to expect from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, this book is the perfect continuation of Paola’s story. Content Warnings: Violence, racism, some graphic descriptions, fire, absent parent, hospitalization of a loved one, murder, death of a parent (Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, author interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares is the second and penultimate book in Paola Santiago series written by Tehlor Kay Mejia. It follows a 13-year-old girl, who once again has to rise up to face more magical challenges. Six months after defeating La Llorona, Paola Santiago is pulled back into the magical world when her vivid dreams return, this time featuring her absent father. Distanced from her best friends, Dante and Emma, Pao feels increasingly isolated and out of place, especially sin Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares is the second and penultimate book in Paola Santiago series written by Tehlor Kay Mejia. It follows a 13-year-old girl, who once again has to rise up to face more magical challenges. Six months after defeating La Llorona, Paola Santiago is pulled back into the magical world when her vivid dreams return, this time featuring her absent father. Distanced from her best friends, Dante and Emma, Pao feels increasingly isolated and out of place, especially since her mother's new boyfriend came into the picture and apparently will be moving into their apartment. Alone in her struggles and feeling frustrated, Pao finally jumps into action when Señora Mata, Dante's grandmother, falls into a magically induced coma after appearing in her dreams and confusing her with Pao's mother, Maria. Pao and Dante's enmity continues as they set out, traveling from Arizona up the West Coast, reuniting with an old ally and battling fantasmas, in order to reach Pao's dad and bring Señora Mata out of her coma. Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares is written rather well. The journey is peppered with conversations about and instances demonstrating the vulnerability of minority populations around police and in health care. Queer Emma is active in their school's Rainbow Rogues group and feels distant from Pao as her new social circle consists mostly of well-off kids, in contrast to Latinx Pao's financial struggles. Additionally, her zealous sharing of her newfound social justice awareness and efforts to be an ally sometimes push Pao further away. All in all, Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares is written rather well and is a good continuation to what would hopefully be a wonderful series, which I plan to continue in the very near future.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    4.5 stars I've been really enjoying this series and usually, I ended up liking this second book even more than the first one, perhaps because I was already familiar with some of the mythology, so there wasn't as much of a learning curve. This book takes place about 6 months after the first book and it starts out very differently from the first one. In the beginning, Paola is barely speaking to her two best friends, her mom has a new boyfriend so she's barely speaking to her, and with the increasi 4.5 stars I've been really enjoying this series and usually, I ended up liking this second book even more than the first one, perhaps because I was already familiar with some of the mythology, so there wasn't as much of a learning curve. This book takes place about 6 months after the first book and it starts out very differently from the first one. In the beginning, Paola is barely speaking to her two best friends, her mom has a new boyfriend so she's barely speaking to her, and with the increasing frequency of frightening dreams, she feels more alone than ever. When Dante's Abuela suddenly falls into a coma of a mysterious illness, Dante blames her and she vows to do what she needs to do to find out the answer. She ends up teamed up with a reluctant Dante and a snarky Naomi (from the first book) to not only save Dante's Abuela but also find her father, who she thinks may hold the answers to everything. I found this to be a very engaging adventure and I was kept guessing for much of the story and definitely freaked out by some of the monsters/phantasms. I love Paola and look forward to the next book! I received an advance review copy from NetGalley for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andee

    BLOG|INSTAGRAM|TWITTER|YOUTUBE Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was a fantastic continuation in the series about Paola. Mejia has done a great job of continuing the growth of our hero while weaving in the lore and myths. We get answers to some of the questions that we were left with in the first book, while still hinting at more to come. I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and our character's growth felt BLOG|INSTAGRAM|TWITTER|YOUTUBE Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was a fantastic continuation in the series about Paola. Mejia has done a great job of continuing the growth of our hero while weaving in the lore and myths. We get answers to some of the questions that we were left with in the first book, while still hinting at more to come. I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and our character's growth felt realistic to their age group. While not as good as the first book, I wouldn’t say this book suffered from sequel syndrome. Paola was just as loveable as always. The lore in the book was well told, and I can walk away feeling like I learned something from this book. Full review September 24th, 2021.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wendelle

    The worst nightmare here is Dante's gaslighting toxicity, which the author portrayed so skillfully. I like how this book touches on such themes because it elevates this book beyond being a fun paranormal adventure, into a book that addresses complex relationship problems and abusive treatment that children may be experiencing, and how they're not ok The worst nightmare here is Dante's gaslighting toxicity, which the author portrayed so skillfully. I like how this book touches on such themes because it elevates this book beyond being a fun paranormal adventure, into a book that addresses complex relationship problems and abusive treatment that children may be experiencing, and how they're not ok

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heather Pearson

    You can read this without reading the first in the series, but why would you want to .

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Really genuinely spooky. Paola's life becomes more complicated as her nightmares escalate. I didn't know what duendecillos were before listening to this book and would love for them to reappear in book 3. Emma and Dante (Paola's best friends) remain one of the strongest elements in this series; both grounding and uprooting Pao simultaneously. Overall I highly recommend this series and even would say that I enjoy it more than City of Ghosts. Frankie Corzo's narration was fantastic like it was in Really genuinely spooky. Paola's life becomes more complicated as her nightmares escalate. I didn't know what duendecillos were before listening to this book and would love for them to reappear in book 3. Emma and Dante (Paola's best friends) remain one of the strongest elements in this series; both grounding and uprooting Pao simultaneously. Overall I highly recommend this series and even would say that I enjoy it more than City of Ghosts. Frankie Corzo's narration was fantastic like it was in book 1. Digital audiobook preview copy graciously provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Max Hansford

    3.7/5 stars While I enjoyed this installment, it wasn't as good as the first. I feel like there was a good moral in the first about discrimination and minorities, while this one lost that and just focused on the mission and drama between main characters. I also feel like the first was a great standalone, but making a series doesn't quite connect. It felt like someone else was writing it, because the first one had good conflict, but the resolution was well planned, and the friendships were the str 3.7/5 stars While I enjoyed this installment, it wasn't as good as the first. I feel like there was a good moral in the first about discrimination and minorities, while this one lost that and just focused on the mission and drama between main characters. I also feel like the first was a great standalone, but making a series doesn't quite connect. It felt like someone else was writing it, because the first one had good conflict, but the resolution was well planned, and the friendships were the strength that made the book so good. The second book had Paola literally not talking to either of her best friends for different reasons, and it just felt awkward.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicole M. Hewitt

    This second book in the series explores the fallout from the gang’s misadventures in River of Tears. Things have been weird between Paola and her two best friends since they saved the world together. Paola supported Emma when she came out, but then she felt like they grew apart when Emma started hanging out with a new group of people. And Dante has been avoiding her completely, assumedly because of the moments when they were on their adventure and things started to veer into “not just friends” t This second book in the series explores the fallout from the gang’s misadventures in River of Tears. Things have been weird between Paola and her two best friends since they saved the world together. Paola supported Emma when she came out, but then she felt like they grew apart when Emma started hanging out with a new group of people. And Dante has been avoiding her completely, assumedly because of the moments when they were on their adventure and things started to veer into “not just friends” territory between them. But when Dante’s grandma falls into an unexplainable coma, Paola’s sure it has supernatural origins and that the dreams she’s been having can lead her to the answers. Dante comes with her (begrudgingly) to Oregon, where the dreams seem to be sending Paola, and a new adventure begins, but this time Paola feels like she might as well be all alone. The book explores themes of changing friendships, budding romance, betrayals, and family mysteries. It also features quite a bit of diversity since there are multiple LGBT characters and most of the main characters are Latinx (the fact that brown kids are looked at with suspicion is brought up in multiple scenes in the book). There’s plenty of action since Paola once again finds herself fighting creatures from the void as she makes her way to her missing father. What she finds is a bit of a surprise, though, and the mystery of Paolo’s dreams and her estranged dad will keep kids turning the pages. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book in the series, especially since one major element of the book ends with a definite cliffhanger! ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jas Asbill

    This review starts with a confession. Apparently, I am blind to everything written in bold! I somehow missed that this book was a sequel DESPITE the fact it says it in bold prior to the book's description. Thankfully, enjoying this book does not depend on your having read the series in a logical sequential order. There was enough information given to make it easy to keep up without feeling lost but no so much that I feel like the first one is now spoiled. Pao is my kind of hero! It doesn't matter This review starts with a confession. Apparently, I am blind to everything written in bold! I somehow missed that this book was a sequel DESPITE the fact it says it in bold prior to the book's description. Thankfully, enjoying this book does not depend on your having read the series in a logical sequential order. There was enough information given to make it easy to keep up without feeling lost but no so much that I feel like the first one is now spoiled. Pao is my kind of hero! It doesn't matter what other people say, where you may have come from, the wealth your family offers, or even decades of experience. What matters is that you know who you are and you do everything you can to stay true to that. I look forward to stepping back in time and reading the first book now! CAWPILE Rating:10

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Morrell

    **I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What an action-packed adventure for middle grade readers! Tehlor Kay Mejia's work, Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares really shines in this Rick Riordian Presents book that follows Paola, Emma and Dante through another adventure. In her previous book, River of Tears, we met Paola and Dante that fought off arguably one of the scariest ghost legends of all time, La Llorona, who wand **I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What an action-packed adventure for middle grade readers! Tehlor Kay Mejia's work, Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares really shines in this Rick Riordian Presents book that follows Paola, Emma and Dante through another adventure. In her previous book, River of Tears, we met Paola and Dante that fought off arguably one of the scariest ghost legends of all time, La Llorona, who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for unsuspecting young people to drag into a watery grave. Again in Forest of Nightmares, we have a strange entity calling out to Paola. Could it be her long lost dad that mom never discusses? Is it just Pao being upset at her mother's new boyfriend? The book pulls some old friends together and the author fantastically weaves a plot line weaves a plot line that reveals a change in Dante. I also love that the author shows kids to be themselves through the character of Emma. Mejia creates fantastical events in a way that also lets the reader in on what happened in River of Tears, so the title could stand alone, and she even manages to skillfully build in important and timely themes like systematic racism and themes that kids in middle school can relate to like evolving friendships. Middle grade readers will find many reasons to love this book and series. Teachers can easily use chapter excerpts to teach about fantasy fiction and theme. I highly recommend to anyone looking for great books for the classroom that kids will pass around until they fall apart.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Disney Publishing Worldwide - Rick Riordan Presents in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. Having first heard of the series and finding the first installment on our JFiction shelf I was debating whether to start with this book rather than putting it aside until I have finished with Paola Santiago and the River of Tears. I ended up taking a chance and reading The Forest of Nightmares anyway and I This book was received as an ARC from Disney Publishing Worldwide - Rick Riordan Presents in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. Having first heard of the series and finding the first installment on our JFiction shelf I was debating whether to start with this book rather than putting it aside until I have finished with Paola Santiago and the River of Tears. I ended up taking a chance and reading The Forest of Nightmares anyway and I must say I was blown away. I loved the family sentiment and determination Paola had in not only finding her father but finding the truth of why her father left all because she did not approve of her mother's boyfriend. Now, her friend Dante's grandmother is very ill and destined to find her father Paola has more to gain if she finds her father. I appreciated the hoops Paola had to jump in order to find her father and the power of love and forgiveness is always triumphant. Paola Santiago series was very enjoyable that it might be a potential candidate for Battle of the Books 2022. We will consider adding this title to our JFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Andres

    "I'm a self-taught, seventh-grade scientist, not a white lady with a podcast about true crimes!" TL;DR: A perfectly fine sequel, with better pacing than the first book but some clunky, almost forced attempts at *more* diversity (particularly with Emma's emerging queerness). Paola is up to her hijinks again -- this time, her mom has a new boyfriend who may or may not be moving in them, so she overthinks it and, instead of talking with her mother, sets off a chain reaction that leads to her looking "I'm a self-taught, seventh-grade scientist, not a white lady with a podcast about true crimes!" TL;DR: A perfectly fine sequel, with better pacing than the first book but some clunky, almost forced attempts at *more* diversity (particularly with Emma's emerging queerness). Paola is up to her hijinks again -- this time, her mom has a new boyfriend who may or may not be moving in them, so she overthinks it and, instead of talking with her mother, sets off a chain reaction that leads to her looking for her long absent father and losing her best friend Dante to the void. Vibes: Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson + Mexican/Latin American mythology. Genre: Middle-Grade. Second in a series. Character MVP: Eh. Maybe Paola's friends, Emma & Naomi. It's hard to be in the head of a middle-grade character all the time, so perhaps her friends are more engaging because we don't get their every thought. Verdict: 3.5 stars -- currently rounding down. This book was *fine.* And I get it -- it's a middle-grade book. But the thing is, adults can -- and should! -- read middle-grade books too; some of my absolute favorites are considered "middle-grade" but they have a broad audience. (I'm thinking of A Wrinkle In Time and Percy Jackson mainly, but also Scott Reingten's Talespinners series, or any of Roald Dahl's books, TBH.) But this book is definitely a middle-grade book geared primarily towards middle-grade readers. The biggest strength of this series, this book included, has been its representation: Paola is a Latina heroine, interested in science and STEM. She's spunky and brave and active. And her culture -- the stories her mother told her growing up -- are woven into the fabric and heart of the story, and that's absolutely wonderful. The different mythologies are (as I'm pretty sure Rick Riordan intended with this series) the best part of the story, because the reader, myself included, gets to learn about different cultures and experiences than the ones they grew up with. But Paola is a middle-grade girl and there are some parts that make an older reader cringe and eyeroll so hard. And I get it. I'm not a middle-school girl anymore. (Thank goodness.) But I don't think you're doing your readers or your protagonist any favors when your character jumps to the first conclusion that crosses her mind. Like the boyfriend moving in: Paola is supposed to be smart, and I get that she's had a rough few months, but it seems like the mom's boyfriend was introduced to (1) draw attention to the fact that Paola's dad isn't there and (2) give Paola a reason to lash out. Which...felt unnecessary to me. Shouldn't a girl who was so interested in science think to *ask* her mom first? Why does the middle-grade-hormonal reaction have to trump the scientific one? That's a pet peeve of mine, in general, though: when authors create conflict that seems unnecessary because a simple conversation would have cleared it up. At the end of my review of the first book, I indicated that I thought Paola and her mom would have had a big heart-to-heart about everything, but, NOPE. That didn't happen, and it didn't happen here. Same goes for Paola and Dante -- and that just read as inconsistent to me. I *get* that they're middle-schoolers, and having hard conversations isn't exactly in their age-appropriate skill set. The conflict there also felt a little forced; she was *so* ready to believe him when he turned on her. And, really? After everything they've been through her first thought was somehow NOT "Hmm, that's weird, maybe something supernatural is happening"?!? Again, this book was fine. I'd probably recommend it to my kids but it would be a library book, rather than a "have-on-the-shelf-at-home" purchase.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kay Tilden Frost

    This is a fantastic sequel to Paola Santiago and the River of Tears. In the first book, Paola is trying to save a missing classmate and gets pulled into a story about La Llorona; here, her quest requires her to save both her father and her best friend Dante's abuela, who has fallen into a coma after trying to help Paola at the start of her journey. While the River of Tears existed in liminal spaces, tracing out the lives that are lived between one place and another, the Forest of Nightmares delv This is a fantastic sequel to Paola Santiago and the River of Tears. In the first book, Paola is trying to save a missing classmate and gets pulled into a story about La Llorona; here, her quest requires her to save both her father and her best friend Dante's abuela, who has fallen into a coma after trying to help Paola at the start of her journey. While the River of Tears existed in liminal spaces, tracing out the lives that are lived between one place and another, the Forest of Nightmares delves harder into what family means and all the different ways that family is formed. Paola's search for her father takes her deep into an understanding of her mother, who her mother has been, and who she herself can become. One thing I really enjoyed about the Forest of Nightmares is that Paola as a character was not reset to who she had been at the beginning of River of Tears; this is a problem I see all too often in second books. Seeing Paola continue to be the girl who reaches for science for the answers, but now be slightly more willing to embrace the concept of supernatural options creates a well rounded character who is capable of adventures on a much bigger scale. And both the physical and emotional scopes of this book feel bigger than they did in River of Tears. Paola and Dante have to road trip all the way up to Oregon to try and find Paola's dad and solve the mystery that's happening around them. I also appreciated the tension that exists now between Paola and Dante. At the end of River of Tears, their relationship was edging tentatively towards a romantic one, but that has wildly changed in Forest of Nightmares, and the frustration between the two of them is a major plot element in the story as it progresses. Also, Tehlor Kay Mejia gets huge compliments from me about the way Emma, Paola's other best friend in River of Tears, is characterized here. First, Emma is queer, but we never get unnecessary information about her relationships or other justifications for her identity; it's simply stated that she's queer, and then the story moves forward. She has also clearly been burying her nose deep in books about white privilege and social justice (to Paola's occasional amusement) and she is more than delighted to acknowledge and weaponize her privilege in order to protect Paola and Dante on their mission. An adult reader might find her approach overzealous, but to me, she was exactly the kind of pre-teen who has just figured out inequality and is completely committed to fixing it, and doesn't yet understand moderation or subtlety. She's very much the kind of kid I'd like to see more white kids become, and while obviously the point of the Rick Riordan Presents series is always to present mythology and identities to kids who don't often see themselves in print, I think there could be some benefit to showing an example of a white girl who has woken up and is trying to do something to help, a kid that a white parent can point to and say "This is who you need to be." You could read Forest of Nightmares without reading River of Tears, in that Mejia does a great job of recapping necessary events, but you would miss on the best flavors the book has to offer, so I strongly recommend reading the first book first. I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debb Adams

    *This is a voluntary, honest review in exchange for an E-ARC thanks to Disney Publishing Worldwide, Rick Riordan Presents, and NetGalley. For me, typically the second book in a series is not my favorite of said series. This is totally not true of Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares. There is all the paranormal/supernatural/magic that we witnessed in Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, and the characters we love: Pao, Dante, Emma, Dante’s Abuela, Pao’s Mom, Naomi, The *This is a voluntary, honest review in exchange for an E-ARC thanks to Disney Publishing Worldwide, Rick Riordan Presents, and NetGalley. For me, typically the second book in a series is not my favorite of said series. This is totally not true of Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares. There is all the paranormal/supernatural/magic that we witnessed in Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, and the characters we love: Pao, Dante, Emma, Dante’s Abuela, Pao’s Mom, Naomi, The Niños de la Luz, and of course Bruto. There are some new characters to love and some to hate. The narrative picks up six months following the narrative of Paola Santiago and the River of Tears. (Although Mejia does a good job filling in the information in case the reader has not read . . . River of Tears, I suggest reading it first in order to gain full immersion into the world.) Paola and Dante are seemingly not as close as they once were; Emma, though still good friends with Paola, has some interests that take her time, and Pao is feeling very alone. On top of all of that, Pao has begun having nightmares again. This time she’s in a forest and sees her father--that walked out of Pao and her mom when Pao was 3--in silhouette, hears a voice calling to her, and even encounters Dante’s Abuela in one of them. Of course she tells no one of these dreams. Always the scientist/researcher, Pao tries to “logic” her way through what is happening, but when Abuela lands in the hospital in a coma, and Pao and Dante are chased in the hospital by fantasmas, Pao knows from experience that she cannot rely on science this time. With Dante, growing ever more moody and distant embark on a journey to Oregon, accompanied by Naomi, who is not sure she wants to be on this journey. I’m stopping there, because I do not want to give anything away! I think I like Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares better than the first in the series because of the human drama (accompanied by the folklore, ghosts, etc.). Pao and Dante do not go leaping into the new adventure with hands joined, the celebrated heroes. Naomi is unsure whether she wants to accompany them because of her feelings about Franco and Marisa. Naomi and Pao do not always get along. Plus, Mejia with a dexterous touch weaves in the bigotry and racism that brown people, more specifically young brown people, often face from white authority figures. While this is not the focus of the plot, it is always there, and it is infuriating, just as it must be in real life for the young people--and older--who must face it day after day. Fans of Riordan will like this book, as will fans of any other of Rick RIordan Presents novels/series. I definitely will recommend this to my Mexican and other Latinx students because it is so ripe with Mexican folklore and culture, plus I just think they’d love to read the Spanish words and phrases intertwined in the narrative. (For non-Spanish speakers, Mejia does a great job either out and out translating or embedding context clues, so those--like me!--are not lost.) This is an important novel, an important series, because it allows Latinx readers to see themselves on the page as heroes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dragons*4 Ever

    💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE FOREST OF NIGHTMARES💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟 2.5 Months after confronting the legendary La Llorona, Paola starts dreaming again, this time about fantasmas that are stalking her and someone who might be even more dangerous--her estranged father. This book was great, it was definitely at the time I was reading it, I was so busy and had to read this book in bits and pieces. It took time to get into, but this book was still well crafted nevertheless. The book starts off many months after th 💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE FOREST OF NIGHTMARES💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟 2.5 Months after confronting the legendary La Llorona, Paola starts dreaming again, this time about fantasmas that are stalking her and someone who might be even more dangerous--her estranged father. This book was great, it was definitely at the time I was reading it, I was so busy and had to read this book in bits and pieces. It took time to get into, but this book was still well crafted nevertheless. The book starts off many months after the events in River Of Tears, life has been quite quite for Paola. Dante and her relationship has become strained, life just seems boring after all the action last summer, to make things worse her mother Maria Paola, is dating. After something goes wrong with Dante's grandma and there relationship gets strained and pulled taut, life gets harder as Paola sets off on a adventure to find the answers on how to fix everything. Paola has been receiving strange dreams, her father calls to her. It was so enjoying to see Paola, again, her character has changed, she focuses less on scientific facts and astronomy, sadly, it was hilarious Paola is now more moody and her reactions to everything where gold. Paola reminds me so much of Aru Shah, ( they would be such good BFF )! Paola is spunky, and ready as ever, I love how she's brave but not naturally athletics or super good at weapons like most hero, how she's a normal relatable kid just trying to make sense of her world being turned upside down. It was amazing to see her dynamic with other characters, all of Rick Riordan presents book follow a same vein but I find Paola Santiago the most unique and more different then the rest. Paola is a good friend, patient, although I love how she isn't perfect, she makes mistakes too. The story took more a long time to really invest myself, but it was still good. We explore more LGBTQ+ in this book ( as Emma is part of the Rainbow Rouges, and it is hinted Naomi likes Marissa ), it was great to see Paola support Emma! In this book we explore more of Emma and Paola relationship, but we get a lot less about Dante and Paola. I found it sad, the whole time Dante was moody, they were both jerks to each other though we later find out why. The plot twist at the end was very creative, the pieces all falling together, the ending making you say "Just one more chapter." The monster & Mythology woven into this plot is brilliant, I cannot wait to read book 3 and see what Paola journey has in store for us next! PLOT🆗 PLOT TWISTS✅ CHARACTERS🆗 💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟CHARACTERS💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟 The characters are all so amazing, we were very limited to the cast, there friendship are very interesting how they all tie to each other. Dante has changed... but we go to learn a lot more and got to see how Emma is very supportive. I love has this book always lightly touches racism but makes sure to not brush it aside. ✅Paola 🆗Naomi 🆗Emma 🆗⛔Dante 💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟CONCLUSION💚👻👩🏽🌑🌟 A ending that grips you, a beginning that pulls you into Paola's life one that is a joy to experience.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars I enjoyed this book so much! I had really enjoyed the first one as well, but I think this book was even better. Maybe it's because we didn't have the same level of introduction as in the first book (although there were still obviously things that needed to be explained), but whatever the reason, this was such a good read. This takes place about 6 months after the events of the first book, and we see a very different scenario than where the last one ended - Paola's mom has Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars I enjoyed this book so much! I had really enjoyed the first one as well, but I think this book was even better. Maybe it's because we didn't have the same level of introduction as in the first book (although there were still obviously things that needed to be explained), but whatever the reason, this was such a good read. This takes place about 6 months after the events of the first book, and we see a very different scenario than where the last one ended - Paola's mom has a new boyfriend, and Paola is barely speaking to her two best friends, Dante and Emma. But when Paola starts having weird dreams again, this time with her father who left years ago, and then Dante's abuela falls into a coma, Paola reconnects with Emma and talks Dante into traveling to Oregon with her to figure out the meaning of her dreams and save his grandmother. There was so much action in this book, but there was also a lot of emotion, and I felt like the balance was really good to keep the story moving. I constantly was curious to know what was going to happen next. Paola had so much growth in this book, even more so than the first book, and she went through so much, but she never gave up. I really enjoyed getting to see her journey, and how her relationships with her friends changed ((view spoiler)[I was devastated with what happened with Dante, but I am looking forward to seeing how that will be resolved in the next book (hide spoiler)] ). I also liked that we got to see more of Naomi and to see her friendship with Paola grow as well. I really enjoyed how this book expanded on the mythology as well, and it's something I just find really fascinating. Despite having heritage from South America, I did not grow up knowing all of the different myths and fables, so reading this series has been so much fun for me to learn more about them. I am sure that this is also a series I would have enjoyed when I was in middle school, especially with the focus on fantasmas, which is something I am fascinated with now, and would have really loved to read about then. I think this is a great middle grade series, and I can't wait to see what's to come in the next book! Thank you so much to netgalley and the publisher for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Six months after returning from her first harrowing adventure to the void, Paola Santiago’s life seems drastically different from what it was before. Her best friends Dante and Emma have grown distant, her mother has a new boyfriend, and Pao is left feeling lost and alone. Riddled by a series of resurfacing nightmares, Pao finds herself burdened by questions she is unable to answer. When she reaches out to Señora Mata for guidance and the older woman falls unconscious, Pao knows she must follow Six months after returning from her first harrowing adventure to the void, Paola Santiago’s life seems drastically different from what it was before. Her best friends Dante and Emma have grown distant, her mother has a new boyfriend, and Pao is left feeling lost and alone. Riddled by a series of resurfacing nightmares, Pao finds herself burdened by questions she is unable to answer. When she reaches out to Señora Mata for guidance and the older woman falls unconscious, Pao knows she must follow the path her nightmares have shown her to restore both her relationships and Señora Mata’s life, whatever it takes. This second in the Paola Santiago series picks up in an unexpected way following the conclusion of the first installment. Instead of remaining close with Emma and Dante after their journey together, Pao instead feels abandoned by everyone she loves. Raging pre-teen hormones send her over the edge, causing Pao to do things she might not otherwise have done in retaliation for what her life has become. As Pao follows her intuition, she begins to trust herself and learns to appreciate all she has and where she comes from. Layered into this story are multiple references to the challenges people of color - especially those of a Latinx background - face on a daily basis. Every time Pao finds herself in troubling situations, concern about the reaction of police leads her into more independent behavior. Spanish words and phrases are included throughout the story, enriching the narrative and becoming an intrinsic part of Pao’s world. Presented in the same font as the adjacent English words and phrases, this approach lends a bilingual flavor to the narrative, even as Pao is working to learn Spanish herself. Despite the challenges it brings, Pao’s adventures lead her to become prouder of her heritage with each passing day. Fans of the first book in the Paola Santiago series and the other tales in Rick Riordan’s extensive canon will love the style and presentation of this book. Through gripping action sequences and a deep connection to Mexican mythology and folklore, this story draws readers in regardless of their backgrounds. Connecting the supernatural elements of La Llorona and other characters from Mexican storytelling to the modern American landscape, this is a compelling and emotional tale for middle grade readers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rajiv

    [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] “Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares” is a book that I was highly anticipating reading because I loved the first book, and it did not disappoint! While I devoured the first book in one sitting, I loved this story more than “River of Tears.” The author makes sure to stay true to the theme of the first story yet, making it distinctive from it at the same time. I felt the story picked up full speed when Pao goes to see Se [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] “Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares” is a book that I was highly anticipating reading because I loved the first book, and it did not disappoint! While I devoured the first book in one sitting, I loved this story more than “River of Tears.” The author makes sure to stay true to the theme of the first story yet, making it distinctive from it at the same time. I felt the story picked up full speed when Pao goes to see Señora Mata at the hospital. Hospitals tend to creep me out in general, and this book had scenes with creepy supernatural stuff taking place that gave me shivers. The story brilliantly continues as we have mysterious creatures like the Fantasma and beasts, a crazy road trip, and many other twists and turns. Paola is again fantastic, and I feel she is one of my top favorite characters in the RRP series world. She goes through a lot in the story, and I could not turn my eyes away when she meets her father. Moreover, I was surprised by Paola’s friendship with Naomi in the tale, as it was not something I anticipated. The two of them form a very dynamic duo as they go on their adventure. Similarly, the author shocks us with incidents surrounding Dante, Emma, and even Pao’s mom. On a side note, I also liked the LGBTQ nod around Emma and that we got to know more about her in this book. Overall, “Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares” is an excellent continuation of the “Paola Santiago” series and exceeded my expectations. I wonder how the third book can top it off.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brittney Tyler

    Star Rating: 5 stars Note: This is the 2nd book in the Paola Santiago series so this will not be an in-depth review. After reading some chunky science fiction books earlier in the month, I decided to pick up some middle grade to balance out my reading, and the book I chose was Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares, the 2nd book in the Paola Santiago series. This book continues the story of Paola Santiago, a young Hispanic girl, living in Arizona, as she struggles through growing up with the Star Rating: 5 stars Note: This is the 2nd book in the Paola Santiago series so this will not be an in-depth review. After reading some chunky science fiction books earlier in the month, I decided to pick up some middle grade to balance out my reading, and the book I chose was Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares, the 2nd book in the Paola Santiago series. This book continues the story of Paola Santiago, a young Hispanic girl, living in Arizona, as she struggles through growing up with the added complication of being able to see and interact with the environs of Hispanic mythos. My favorite part about these books is the same as it is with most middle grade books, and that is the themes discussed within its pages. Middle grade is intended for a younger audience, usually at the cusp or in the middle of one of the most tumultuous periods of growing up- puberty, by allowing them to experience events and therefore, learn from them. In this particular middle-grade, the themes/lessons/experiences we focus on are growing up and self-acceptance. Paola is experiencing a lot for the first time- her mom has started dating, Paola’s own potential relationship is on the rocks, and her friends and her are having issues. Because of this myriad of problems, Paola feels alone and adrift, and to add insult to injury, she is having dreams set in a dark and menacing forest where she sees a shadowy figure that she believes is her absent father. As if all this isn’t enough, her friend, Dante’s, grandmother falls mysteriously ill, and it seems like the only person who may know how to heal her is, again, Paola’s absent father, which Paola believes because she started having the aforementioned dreams at the same time as Dante’s grandmother’s illness. Because of this belief, Paola set out on a cross-country journey to find her father and along the way learns some very valuable lessons about growing and self-acceptance. If you enjoy adventure stories that have important issues at its heart, especially if they feature characters and cultures that may differ from your own, then this book and the imprint that it comes from is the for you (Yes, I have read and will read all of them.). 5 stars and a great continuation!!!!!!!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Right off the block I'm giving this book a solid four stars. I didn't have to worry about diversity at all and that was a bit of relief. I loved the voices of the characters and Paola is a fiery child with a big personality. She reminds me of my younger sibling and is a bright and strong protagonist. When it comes to the other characters they're vivid as well. None outshine Paola however and I love that. There are instances in other books where the side characters overshadow the main character a Right off the block I'm giving this book a solid four stars. I didn't have to worry about diversity at all and that was a bit of relief. I loved the voices of the characters and Paola is a fiery child with a big personality. She reminds me of my younger sibling and is a bright and strong protagonist. When it comes to the other characters they're vivid as well. None outshine Paola however and I love that. There are instances in other books where the side characters overshadow the main character and that's not the case here. I didn't read the first book and didn't know this was the second in a series. That said, I had no problems catching up on what happened in the first story. The author explained it so well in such a creative way as Paola was going through the story. None of it felt forced, there were no info dumps and it was great. I will absolutely recommend this to young readers. It's something I know my young family members would like. Plus, the chancla being a club made me laugh so hard that I snorted. I told a family member about it and he started laughing and telling me about his cousin when they were both younger and the chancla featured heavily. A chancla club was absolutely hysterical and amazing. What's stopping me from giving this book five stars is one event. This is where it gets into spoiler territory. A note: The author used the word handicapped instead of disabled. She made a point of saying the kids were activists then goes and uses a word the disabled community has been asking people not use it for decades. As a disabled reader who will recommend this to disabled young readers, I'll have to warn them. That words is not acceptable. past this point is the rest of the review. It can be found on my blog theworldsbetweenpages.wordpress.com

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for a review. As usual I am so thankful for Rick Riordan presents for bringing another culturally rich middle grade novel into the world through the words of what is becoming one of my favorite authors, Tehlor Kay Mejia. This is book two in the Paola Santiago series. The first book Paola Santiago and the River of Tears was published in August 2020 and my favorite middle grade novel of last year. This bo Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for a review. As usual I am so thankful for Rick Riordan presents for bringing another culturally rich middle grade novel into the world through the words of what is becoming one of my favorite authors, Tehlor Kay Mejia. This is book two in the Paola Santiago series. The first book Paola Santiago and the River of Tears was published in August 2020 and my favorite middle grade novel of last year. This book is full of so many things that ALL middle grade novels need and that's some incredible representation. We've got our main characters Paola and her family and Dante and his abuela who are Mexican-American and then we've got Emma and her friends the Rainbow Rogues which are an LGBTQIA+ club that Emma is now a part of. We get to revisit the legend of La Llorona with the addition of The Hitchhiker which is another urban legend which has been around for many many year. We get to learn more about Dante's past and how he came to live with his abuela and how connected to the paranormal she really is. The Ninas are back in this book and we get to learn more about Naomi and what she has been up to since their adventures in River of Tears. One of the things that I really love about this book is the little nuggets that are dropped through out that are so powerful. It touches on so many different social justice issues, it reminds us that abusive behavior of any kind is never ok, and it reminds us of the importance of empathy and family whether is be the one we are given or the one that we choose. Tehlor's voice is a powerful one that is very much needed in this world and this is another incredible book to add to your shelf.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    Things have changed since Paola's adventure and battle against La Llorona. She is still trying to understand everything that happened and while she is processing she finds herself set apart from her best friends, Dante and Emma. For Emma, Paola has felt like she was holding her friend back when Emma finds a place she truly belongs. Not wanting to ruin her friend's happiness, she takes a step back. Not realizing that her being away from Emma was hurting Emma just as much. As for Dante, the tensio Things have changed since Paola's adventure and battle against La Llorona. She is still trying to understand everything that happened and while she is processing she finds herself set apart from her best friends, Dante and Emma. For Emma, Paola has felt like she was holding her friend back when Emma finds a place she truly belongs. Not wanting to ruin her friend's happiness, she takes a step back. Not realizing that her being away from Emma was hurting Emma just as much. As for Dante, the tension between them is one that she has no idea how to decipher. Yet she learns that Dante is horribly mad at her because the adventure they had has only made things worse on his abuela and he doesn't know where to place his anger except toward his best friend. Then there is the fact that her mom has a boyfriend and Paola's nightmares are back and worse than ever. But everything changes when Dante's abuela falls mysteriously ill and the only way to save her is to face the nightmares and monsters once more. Including finding Paola's father who she hasn't seen since she was very young. Everything is connected. Can Paola find a way to save her friend's abuela and save her relationships with her best friends? This was a nice sequel to the last book! But poor Paola faces so many harsh things. Her heart was constantly breaking between things changing with her mom and with Dante. But the only thing she could do was to keep her chin up and keep fighting. Loved the twists and turns of this story and with an ending like that, it looks like there is definitely another book on the way. Can't wait! I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    It is not often that I like a 2nd book in a series better than the first, but it is true of this book. Because the story ended as it did, I feel there may be a third book coming soon, too - and I look forward to seeing where Pao's adventures take her. Pao has always had nightmares, but lately her nightmares have become more sinister and filled with green, sickly light and characters harder to shake off during her waking hours. When Dante's grandmother is mysteriously stricken with a serious cond It is not often that I like a 2nd book in a series better than the first, but it is true of this book. Because the story ended as it did, I feel there may be a third book coming soon, too - and I look forward to seeing where Pao's adventures take her. Pao has always had nightmares, but lately her nightmares have become more sinister and filled with green, sickly light and characters harder to shake off during her waking hours. When Dante's grandmother is mysteriously stricken with a serious condition, Pao knows she has to take action and become a hero once again. Her friendship with both Emma and Dante have cooled over the previous months and it takes a leap of faith for them to begin trusting one another again. Pao's mom has a new boyfriend and it adds tension to Pao's already tumultuous world. She heads off on her next hero's quest with Emma remaining behind to cover for her at home, Dante an unwilling accomplice by her side. Dreams are scary adventures, and Pao's take her on an unforeseen journey, which ends with a lot of loose ends. The book will appeal to middle grade readers familiar with mythical tales told of magical beasts and creatures from certain Hispanic southwestern cultures. It is also a story about being judged for the color of ones skin, and for the assumption of white privilege. There is amount of attention given to the character of Emma who embraces her right to be white, but also her right to choose and LBGTQIA lifestyle, along with Pao's friendship and support.

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