My 5 Favorite YA Books by Latinx Authors | Latinx Heritage Month 2019

YA books by Latinx authors

Hi everyone! Since it’s Latinx Heritage Month, I thought a great way to celebrate was talking about some of my favorite book by Latinx authors. This is the first post of  the series and since I read so many YA books I decided to start with those.

Don't Date Rosa Santos

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (YA CONTEMPORARY)

It’s not often that a book breaks my heart and makes me sob, but this book managed to do just that. This book has beautiful writing, complex but lovable characters, a community that’s like a huge family, but the most special thing about it is the brilliant and bittersweet way it explores the feelings of a granddaughter of immgrants: the feelings of confusion and guilt for belonging to two places at onces, for speaking biligual words, for not knowing exactly where she comes from and what happened to the family that stayed behind.

we set the dark on fire

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (YA FANTASY)

This book captured my heart with two beautifully complex main characters, a forbidden love story, fascinating mythology, an infuriating world and a flawed but commited rebelious group. This bookfeels Latinx, it IS unapologetically Latinx and it has the respectful and wonderful Latinx representation that we need in fantasy. Beyond all those amazing things, the strengh of this book lays in the way it addresses immigration, privilege, poverty and opression, because it manages to evoke so many emotions and be incredibly thought provoking.

juliet-takes-a-breath

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (YA CONTEMPORARY)

This book holds a very special place in my heart, it was one of the first YA books with a Latinx main character that I ever read and I fell completely in love with it.  This book has amazing writing, complex, messy and vulnerable characters, it talks about feminism and about being queer in a thought-provoking way, and it shows the different perspectives that exist in these broader movements and the importance of intersectionality. This book is insighful and provocative and I think it’s incredible important for teens, because it’s a great introduction to femenist and queer ideas.

when-the-moon-was-ours

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (YA MAGICAL REALISM) 

This book is magical, mysterious and captivating and it’s probably my favorite magical realism book of all time and a book I’d recommend to anyone that wants to start reading this genre. This book has beautiful, flowery and poetic writing, an intriguing plot, an alluring atmosphere and complex and fascinating villains. It’s has a dark and dangerous vibe that underlies the story and that makes the reader feel unease and worry and that adds a compelling and engrossing element to the book.

labyrinth-lostLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (YA URBAN FANTASY) 

Witches, fairies, an all latinx cast of characters and great bisexual rep … there was no way I wasn’t gonna love this one. The mythology and magic in this book are rooted in Latinx traditions and beliefs in such big and profund way that it can’t be confused with anything else but a love letter to Latinx magic and that’s the most amazing thing about this book. Another great thing about it is that the unveiling of Los Lagos, the magical world where part of this book takes place, is done in such a slow and delibareted way that you can’t help but be completely captivated by it.

Have you read any of this books? Do you want to read any of them? What YA books by Latinx author do you love? 
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9 Sci-Fi Book Recommendations

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Hi everyone! Today, I’m sharing a post that I had so much fun writing. Down below, there are 9 Sci-Fi book recommendations divided in categories according to prominent elements of the story. The list goes from the stories that have the most in common with our reality to the ones that have the least in common. 

Without further ado, here are 9 Sci-Fi books that I loved that I would totally recommend!

SUPERHEROES

Secondhand Origin Stories coverSecondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth

I feel like superheroe books are the perfect way to start reading sci-fi because people are usually familiarized with superheroes thanks to the blockbuster movies. A superhero book I love is Secondhand Origin Stories, a character driven book full of secrets and mysteries and complicated family dynamics, a corrupt goverment agency, discussions about technology and ethics, as well as discussions about systematic racism, racial profiling and incarceration of black people. If you love superheroes and you want a very diverse (in terms of race, sexual orientation and disability), thought-provoking Sci-Fi book, you’ll probably enjoy this!

not-your-sidekickNot Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee 

Another book about Superheroes, but this one is fun and it shows the silly parts of being a superhero, things that go from hilarious problems with the superhero suits to the spectacule that is the whole superhero life and how fake it can be. This book is set in an interesting post-apocalyptic world and it includes amazing conversations about gender and sexual orientation. If you want a Sci-Fi book with villains that are not so evil and heroes that are not so good, this is for you!

TIME TRAVEL 

InvictusInvictus by Ryan Graudin 

If you haven’t read many time travel books, I think this a great place to start. This book is entertaining and while it explains the technical side of time travel, it does it in a way that’s  understandable and interesting and it doesn’t go into too much details and it doens’t get too complicated. This book has amazing and diverse characters and fascinating dynamics between them and an ending that’s both surprising and bittersweet. If you want to give time travel books a chance, I would recommend this one!

SET ON EARTH

Sleeping GiantsSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel 

Sleeping Giants is a book that takes place entirely on earth and for the most part only involves humans, even if there’s a giant robot and most of the book is about finding out more about it. This is one of those books where you slowly discover along side the characters something that changes everything. The best part about this book is that it addresses important discussions related to science, politics and power and how they are all connected. If you are looking for a Sci-Fi book that it’s thought-provoking, full of unlikeable yet compelling characters and told in a interesting format, this is for you.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily SkrutskieThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie 

Another book that takes place entirely on Earth, but a futuristic, full of changes version of Earth. Well, really it takes place on the sea but, you know, it’s planet Earth.  This book has sea monsters and pirates and from the beginning it throws you right in the middle of a very complex and intricate situation and it’s entirely up to you to catch up as soon as you can with the state of the world. In that sense, it can be a little harder to get into especially if you are someone that doens’t read that much Sci-fi or Fantasy. I’ll give this book extra points for having an amazing f/f relationship between a pirate and a trainer of sea monsters.

SET IN SPACE + ALIENS

bintiBinti by Nnedi Okorafor 

This is such a short book but it packs a big punch. The amount of worldbuilding that Okorafor managed to include in this book is outstanding and the overall message of acceptence of other cultures and being willing to communicate with other than are different from us is so powerful. This is a very introspective book and fouses a lot on character development. If you want a Sci-Fi book that has fantastic worldbuilding and an amazing main character that reflects and changes a lot thoughout the story, this is perfect for you!

The long way to a small angry planetA Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

This is a captivating and thought-provoking story. One of the strenghts of this book is that diversity is at the forefront of the story and it’s included in an interesting and thoughtful way; there’s different species, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, body types, cultures, religions and so much more that are represented. If you like quiet books that are character driven, beautifully written and tackle important themes, this is a great choice for you.

MADE UP UNIVERSE

Mirage-Cover

Mirage by Somaiya Daud 

If you are a Fantasy reader that wants to get into Sci- Fi, this is a great book to do that since it has a fantasy feel to it thanks to the fact that it takes place in a made up universe. Mirage is perfect for fans of slow character driven stories set in a rich and unique worlds inspired by a non-western culture (in this case,Moroccan inspired). This book is also great for fans of captivating and complex female characters with complicated relationships with each other. If you want more in depth thoughts, check out my full review.

A Spark of White Fire

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

Another great book for Fantasy readers to get into Sci-Fi, this also takes place in a made up universe, where there’s royalty and gods and goddesses from Indian lore. A Spark of With Fire has political intrigue, sentient spaceships, floating cities, broken and complicated relationships, tension and heartbreak. If any of that sounds like something you’d like, give this book a chance!

What are some Sci Fi books you would recommend it? Have you read any of the book on this list and did you like them?
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The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro | Buddy Read Discussion

Buddy Read Discussion

Hi everyone! Like I mentioned in my last wrap up, I’m doing a buddy read with Rebecca @ Bookishly Rebecca and Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts for books 2, 3 and 4 of the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. As a way to share the thoughts of all three of us in our blogs, Jenna (inspired by Chaz and Marie), suggested that we should try a “buddy read discussion” post, so that’s what we are doing today! We will be sharing our thoughts on The Last of August, the second book in the series. This ended up being a super interesting discussion since we had very different opinions about the book, as you’ll see.

The Last of August

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.

A distraction arises soon enough, because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.

Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.

What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

Goodreads | Amazon 

Without further ado, here are our thoughts about The Last of August:

Q1. That ending was … wow. Without giving away spoilers, what were your thoughts? Were you expecting that outcome?

Jenna: “Honestly, I liked how I did NOT see it coming. So to answer the second question, no … I did NOT see that coming at all. The last 3 chapters were probably my favouite parts of the novel, since the action started to pick up more.”

Sofia: “Even before starting this book I guessed one of the big things that happened at the end, but I did doubt it a bit throughout the book. So in a sense I was expecting the final outcome, but a lot of the situations and characters surrounding that outcome were surprising to me.”

Rebecca: “I most definitely was not expecting it. Maybe it’s because I don’t read many mystery books or thrillers, but I did not see that coming. While I didn’t see it coming, I do think that the ending made sense with the tone of the story. It just wasn’t exactly what I had pictured.”

Q2. What elements and topics did “The Last of August” execute better than its predecessor, “The Study in Charlotte”? What elements and topics did it not execute as well?

Jenna: “I found the character development and depthness to them was better executed in this novel, in addition to the mystery element. But I found the intensity and action was more well-balanced in the first book.”

Sofia: “I want to start by saying that I think this book was a good book, BUT I can’t think of anything that it executed better than the first book. I’ll talk about the characters in the next question, so for now I’ll focus on the mystery. I think the mystery could have turn out to be more interesting that the mystery in the first book, but it ended up being confusing and frustrating, because for most of the book, the characters are chasing a lead that it’s not actually that important t and even tho looking back I can see that there were hints about that not being as important, it’s still frustrating to feel like a lot of what happened was pointless.”

Rebecca: “I’m going to agree with Sofia and say that I didn’t notice much that was executed better than the first book. I felt pretty middle-of-the-road about both so I didn’t see much difference. As for what wasn’t executed as well, I think that mystery was WAY more confusing than it needed to be. It felt like Brittany Cavallaro took the long way around to unravel this mystery rather than making it a bit more straight-forward.”

Q3. Do you feel like Charlotte and Jamie went through character growth between books one and two? Do you feel like their relationship changed between one book and the other?

Jenna: “I do. I feel as though we get to know a bit more about them. But I also feel like they change themselves, adapting to their new surroundings and from the events that took place in the first book — especially Watson. Their relationship definitely changed … but I still feel like it wasn’t explored enough.”

Sofia: “As someone that absolutely loved Charlotte and Jamie in book one and that enjoyed their relationship inmensly, I was disappointed with The Last of August. I didn’t feel like there was any character development, I felt like Jamie was childish at some points and I didn’t know how to feel regarding some of his thoughts and actions towards Charlotte and the sexual assault theme in this book. Also, I was very frustrated with Charalotte and how she handled the mystery and all the things she kept to herself. In terms of their relationship, that in book one was full of banter, tension and chemistry, in book two it became an endless, frustrating back and forth and for the most part it was not as entertatining”

Rebecca: “I think so but maybe not for the better. If anything, I felt like Charlotte and Jamie both did a backslide in terms of their characters especially Charlotte. She seemed like a shell of her former self in this book compared to who she was in A Study in Charlotte and the same can be said for Jamie who played his sidekick role to a tee. As for their relationship, I think it was extremely unhealthy for both of them and that August only pushed a wedge further into it.”

Q4. Finally, what do you anticipate to occur in its sequel “The Case for Jamie”?

Jenna: “From what I can tell with the title, Watson’s going to have his OWN troubles that will need solving. I also think there’s going to be a lot of Watson and Holmes growing as characters APART before they are the amazing dynamic duo we all know and love. And I think it’s going to get darker, since that seems to be the trend so far.”

Sofia: “I think that Charlotte is gonna pull away from Jamie and try to solve all the problems herself. Now, for what I hope will happen, a lot of character development for Charlotte and Jamie and a mystery that doesn’t rely so much on Charlotte hiding things from Jamie as a way to keep the reader in the dark”

Rebecca: “I’ve already read book 3 and I have to say that it’s my favorite of the series. :)”

Have you read the Charlotte Holmes series? What are your thoughts on it? 
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Book to Screen Adaptations for the Rest of 2019 that I Want to Watch

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Hi everyone! Today, I want to talk about some tv shows and movies based on books that are coming out in the rest of 2019 and that I can’t wait to watch.

TV SHOWS 

His Dark Materials 

I haven’t read the books in the His Dark Materias by Philip Pullman and I’m not planning to. I did watch the movie that’s based on the first book The Golden Compass and I didn’t think it was that great. So why am I excited for this adaptation? Honestly, it has an fantastic cast and the trailer looks amazing and beautiful and you can tell they invested a lot of money on the show.

Looking for Alaska 

Honestly, this teaser makes this show look SO BAD and I’m really confused about the casting because all these actors look cute and sweet and that’s not how I remember the characters from the book at all. So why am I excited for this adaptation?  Because I remember loving the book when I read it, so I’m willing to give this show a chance. I at least will watch the first epidose.

 

MOVIES 

Little Women 

I haven’t read Little Women and I haven’t watched any of the adaptations (but I know one of the big plot points thanks to that episode of Friends that totally spoils this book). I’m hoping to read the book before this adaptation comes out and I’m talking to some friends about possibly buddy reading this. So why am I excited for this adaptation? The incredible cast (this is gonna be a common theme in this post!) and also the trailer makes it look interesting.

CATS 

I don’t know the basic plot of CATS, I didn’t know the musical was based on a short story collection until recently and I had no interest whatsoever in watching this until the trailer came out. So why am I excited for this adaptation? Again, the cast of this movie is outstanding, I LOVE musical and the trailer look interesting to me (which I knwo it’s a unpopular opinion).

IT CHAPTER TWO 

I haven’t read IT, but I really want to and iIhaven’t watched the first movie either, but I’m going to do it soon. I have a confession to make: I don’t watch horror films often and I’m a total scary cat, so when the first movie came out I didn’t even watched any of the trailers. So why am I excited for this adaptation?  I went to watch a movie last week and the trailer for this movie played in the theather and it left me intrigued. Also, the cast is amazing! What can I say? if a movie has actors I love, I’ll probably watch it.

Doctor Sleep 

I have never watched The Shining, I know it’s a classic horror film but like I mentioned before I don’t watch that many horror films. Nonetheless, I have been meaning to watch it for a while and now that this sequel is coming out, I want to watch it even more. So why am I excited for this adaptation? It looks SO GOOD and it has the same director that The Haunting of Hill House, which I LOVED, so I’m excited. Also, it gives me the perfect excuse to finally watch The Shining.

Do you want to watch any of these adaptations? Have you read any of the books and would you recommend them? Are there other adaptations for the rest of 2019 that you are looking forward to? 
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Thoughts & Aesthetics: Nocturna by Maya Montayne

Nocturna.jpg

Title: Nocturna

Author: Maya Motayne

Published by: Balzer +Bray

Publishing date: May 7th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 480

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks. As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Goodreads | Amazon

Nocturna is an entertaining book that, while not having the most original plot and characters, feels unique in some ways thanks to the incorporation of Latinx culture and Spanish language in its world and magic system.

The main characters of Nocturna, Alfie and Finn, are both interesting in their own ways and that’s due to how they are impacted by their pasts in different but very powerful ways and how that affects the plot of the story. Alfie is a cinamon roll type of character that, at the same time, it’s a mess and makes a lot of mistakes, and throught his character, Montayne explores the ways in which grief can cause a person to be a mess, make the wrong choices and screw everything up.

On the other hand, Finn’s character is compelling because she uses a facade of being tough and heartless as a way to hold on to some control after having experienced a situation in which she was manipulated and controlled by someone else. Her development, her vulnerability and her contradictions throughout the book are not only escencial to the plot, they also give an emotional backbone to the story.

The dymanic between these characters is really entertaining and the snarky comments and the banter are fun to read, but there are also these tentative moments when they are vulnerable and honest with each other and they are so tender and beautiful. At the end, the development of their relationship is captivating and touching.

In terms of the villain, it’s interesting that this book has two villains in one and seeing the struggle for power and for control within the villain is interesting because the struggles between these two villain are not caused by one trying to stop the other from doing evil things, it’s about setting priorities for what evil things to do first and that adds a compelling element to the story.

The most magical thing about this book is the way it embraces Latinx culture and the way it uses Spanish as the language of magic in this world. Maybe it’s because there’s not that many YA fantasy books that do this, but the fact that those things are incorporated it felt special and meaningful. Another aspect of the book that it’s interesting is the way it addresses colonialism and slavery through the history of its world, and how it’s done in a very organically and subtle way.

Lastly, the main issue of this book is the pacing because it’s really uneven, so there are long bits in the book where characters are talking or thinking or planning and then some action would take place but inmediately after there would be another long strech where not a lot would happen. That constant start and stop of the action didn’t allow the book to flow as well as it could have.

Overall, while not being extremely original and having some issues with pacing, Nocturna does a great job of seamlessly incorporating Latinx culture and spanish to the story in a beautiful and meaningful way, and it does a good job too of including discussions about colonialims and slavery in a interesting, toughtful and organic way.

Have you read this book? Do you have recommendations of fantasy books inspired by different cultures? 

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August 2019 Wrap Up

Reading Wrap Up

Hi everyone! August was a really good month especially since we announced the second edition of the Latinx Book Bingo, which will take place form September 15 to October 15. Reading wise, I feel like I got back on track after not reading much in July. So I’m excited to share some of my thoughts for the 13 books I read this month:

Diverse Romance

Fit by Rebekah Weatherspoon (3,7 stars): This was a fast, steamy and sweet read with a interesting female protagonist. Black main character and Black author (full review).

Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa (3,7 stars): I loved the female protagonist, I had some issues with the guy at the beginning but at the end he turned out to be sweet and they had lots of chemestry. Afro-Latinx main character and Afro-Latinx author.

Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa (3,7 stars): I really liked both main characters in this one and their chemestry was great. Also, I really like the way this incorporated discussion about diversity and representation in Hollywood. Black hero and Afro-Latinx author.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (3,7 stars): I enjoyed this book and I think it touches important subjets, but I couldn’t really get fully into the story at any point. Black heroine and Samoan hero.

Only for a Night by Naima Simone (3,7 stars): This is a short novella and it’s really, really steamy! Even if it’s mainly sex scenes, there’s enough of the character’s backstory to make evident the connection and love between them. Black author.

Romance

Surprise, Baby by Lex Martin & Leslie McAdam (3,6 stars): This book was both steamy and sweet, my only issue is that it relied too much in miscomunication (full review)

The Penalty Box by Odette Stone (3,5 stars): This was really steamy and really angsty, my main issue with it was that guy got a bit too posessive for my taste (full review)

Temporary Groom by J.S. Scott (2,8 stars): The writing in this was terrible and I only finished it because it was so short.

The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely (3,8 stars): This book was fun, steamy and angsty and I would totally recommend it!

Others

Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim (3 stars): This poetry collections deals mainly with mental illness and it does it well, but I would say the only outstanding poem is “Explaining Depression to my Mother”, the one that went viral, everything else is just ok. 

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (4,5 stars): This was amazing, there was an underlining tension thorughout this book that made it really hard to put down because I was always waiting for something bad to happen. I loved how complex the relationships in this were and the ending was heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the next book.

Nocturna by Maya Montayne (4 stars): I really enjoyed this book, I liked the main characters, I loved the way Spanish was incorporated and the way Latinx culture was reflected in the story. Also, the way this book addresses colonialism and its effects in the colonized countries is very interesting. My only issue is that I think the pacing could have been better.

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro (3,8 stars): This was a fast and entertaining read, but the mystery left something to be desired and I was so confused the entire time and I was left confused after I finished. Still, I loved Holmes and Watson and their complicated, angsty relationship. I read this as part of a buddy read with Rebecca @ Bookishly Rebecca and Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts

How was your reading in August? Any new favorite books? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? 
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