Mini Reviews: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria & Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera

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Hi everyone! Today I have reviews for two amazing romance books written by Latinx authors that I read recently and that I think every romance reader should check out!

*the amazon links are affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you decide to use them, it doesn’t affect the price of the books* 

Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera

Goodreads | Amazon

finding joy

*An e-arc of this was provided by the author in exchange of an honest review*

Finding Joy is a short book, that’s cute and low angst. The story is told from Desta’s perspective, he works for US Aid and he just got to Ethiopia to work on a project. He and his family have a history with the country, so it was interesting to get to explore it through his perspective. One of the big strengths of this book is the description of Ethiopia’s beautiful landscape and culture, while also talking about some of the economical challenges the country faces.

Desta is very self-involved in this book and he is a bit chaotic, and while he is still likable, Elias steals the show as a character. Elias is adorable, kind, and sensible, and his storyline is very important and interesting, even if there are parts of it that we don’t get to see because the story is told from Desta’s perspective. Adriana Herrera manages to make the romance between Elias and Desta very sweet, while also addressing the risks that Elias is taking by being in a relationship with Desta because being gay in Ethiopia is prohibited and punishable by law.

The only thing I would change from this book is that I wish this was told in dual pov, because I would have loved to read Elias’ thoughts and feeling about everything that happened in this book, especially because there’s a big part of Elias’ story that we don’t get to read from Desta’s perspective.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

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you-had-me-at-hola

You Had Me at Hola is an incredibly entertaining story, where a soap opera star and a Telenovela star, each with goals and fears of their own, have to work together in a tv show for the biggest streaming service in the country.

It’s so rare for me to like both of the main characters in a book equally, but Jasmine and Ashton are both amazing. Jasmine is ambitious, kind, and charismatic, but she is afraid of being alone and she has a track record of dating men who don’t treat her well. Ashton is kind of awkward and shy and he deals with a lot of anxiety, but he’s also adorable and sweet. Their romance is fantastic because they have so much chemistry, but at the same time, they also have a really strong emotional connection. I really appreciated that the conflict in this story feels realistic because it is easy to understand where both characters are coming from.

Jasmine and Ashton’s work is a big part of the story and it is a very interesting component, there’s a lot of behind the scenes from the show they are filming and especially the scenes between Jasmine, Ashton and the intimacy coordinator on set were pretty fascinating. This book also includes actual scenes from the show they were filming and while they were very cheesy, they reminded me of the telenovelas I grew up watching and I found them very entertaining.

Have you read any of these books? Are you planning on reading them? What great romance books have you read lately?
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5 Reasons to Read Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be talking about one of my most anticipated 2020 releases. After reading and loving Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her next book and I’m so happy to say that I loved Mexican Gothic and I recommend it!

Title: Mexican Gothic

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published by: Del Rey

Publishing date:  June 30 2020

Pages: 393 

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

trigger warnings: sexual assault, suicide and child brutality.

Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you should read this book:

1. Brilliant writing: Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing manages to be beautiful and captivating while being simple and unpretentious. The writing in this book is not flowery but it conveys and elicits all kinds of emotions.

2. Captivating main character: Noemí, the main character, is three-dimensional and flawed, while being charming and bewitching. She is vain, flighty, smart, beautiful and strong and I couldn’t help but root for her the entire time.

3. The creepiness: This book is creepy from very early on. Moreno-García made my skin crawl with the simplest scenes, sometimes nothing too scary was happening but with one perfectly crafted phrase, I was spooked. The author used the unknown to set an atmosphere of anticipation and suspense that worked really well to keep the creepiness up while allowing the book to become more and more disturbing as it progresses and as more information is revealed not only about what’s going on but also about the true villains of the story.

4. Effective villains: even in the setting of this book where it’s not clear if there are ghosts, magic or other supernatural things going on, the real villains of the story are manipulative, abusive, disgusting men that you could find anywhere in the world and anytime in history and that’s what makes them so effective. They feel like men you have met and, because of that, it’s easy to feel and relate to the main character’s unease, anger, and frustration towards them. 

5. Perfect setting: setting this book in 1950 Mexico was a brilliant decision. First of all, it gives a fascinating historical background to the story, a society that is changing and accepting some modern and liberal (for the time) ideas while trying to hold onto the old social and religious rules. Moreover, High Place, the house where the story takes place, is a secluded, declining, rotting house with no working electricity and strange echos, and it’s located in a small abandoned mining town in the middle of nowhere, where there are people who are clinging to conservative views. All of it makes it a magnificent setting for the creepiness and the sense of claustrophobia of this story. Beyond that, the setting and time period of this book allowed the author to explore sexism, colonialism, and eugenics in very interesting ways since the main character encounters people who believe that they are superior because of their gender, nationality, ethnicity and that they shouldn’t mix with people of “inferior” genetics. 

Overall, Mexican Gothic is a creepy and disturbing gothic horror novel with a unique setting, perfect for anyone who likes a haunted house stories, gothic classics and diverse takes of old horror tropes.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Do you agree with my opinion?
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Book Review: The House of the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea

Author: T.J. Klune

Published by: Tor Books

Publishing date:  March 17th 2020

Pages: 393 

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

If you want to read a book that will warm your heart, The House in the Cerulean Sea is the perfect choice! The best word to sum up this book is hopeful: hopeful that things can get better, hopeful that prejudice won’t win and hopeful that just one person can make a difference in many lives.

This book explores the idea that prejudice keeps growing and wins when people, who have the privilege of not being affected by prejudice, stay silent and live comfortably in their bubbles without making an effort to question and challenge the status quo, without advocating for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves and without fighting for the changes that will allow them to be their own advocates.

The way it explores these themes is through a society where there’s a lot of prejudice against magical beings and there’s a whole system that regulates, segregates, and excludes them. The concept of this book is fascinating and well-executed. This book particularly focuses on very special children that are magical in some way. These children are kept separated in orphanages where no one ever gets adopted or schools where no one cares for them. The protagonist of this book is a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youths (DICOMY), who goes to these orphanages and makes sure the children are in a safe environment and while doing so, he has to remain objective and detached. 

And that’s where the magic of this book truly begins, with Linus, the main character. He is very set in his ways, he follows the rules, he’s very anxious about a lot of things, he cares deeply for the well being of the kids and there’s an emptiness in him that he tries to ignore. He’s actually very endearing once you get to know him. It is quickly established that Linus does his job well, he keeps his distance, he is objective and he doesn’t question if the situation these kids are in is right. Once his job is done, he doesn’t check on the kids he meets in the orphanages and he never knows what happens to them after his visit.

The problem is that his lastest assignment requires him to spend an entire month in one of the orphanages. There he meets a group of very special kids, a wise but not entirely nice sprite and the mysterious, sweet, smart man who runs the orphanage. Once he spends time with them and gets to know them, staying distant and objective is not as easy as it used to be. Linus’ character development in this book is phenomenal, and slowly seeing him grow throughout the book, seeing him let go of the rules and understand that the status quo is harmful, is so rewarding

Beyond Linus, the children are the absolute stars of this book. They are cute, funny, lovable and so compelling. Each one has a defined personality and all of them are three-dimensional characters. They all have faced prejudice, sadness, rejection, cruelty, loneliness and they each have their own defense mechanisms because of it. This book does a great job of showing how Linus learns to see beyond those defense mechanisms and how the kids worm their way into his heart and, at the same time, it shows how Linus has to work to earn the kid’s trust and love. In the end, the relationship between Linus and the kids ended up being my favorite part of the book

And then there’s Arthur, the man who runs the orphanage, who is smart, kind, compassionate, and very mysterious. His relationship with Linus is heartwarming and I’m glad we get a male/male romance in a fantasy book. They are both so tentative and sweet. The only thing I will mention is that I wish there were a few more instances of the two of them interacting and connecting, I think it would have made the romance better. Still, it was adorable.

If you want to rest from dark fantasy books and want something that will make you feel happy and hopeful, while still asking tough questions about privilege, prejudice and complacency, I totally recommend this book!

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Do you agree with my opinion?
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Book Review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Title: We Hunt the Flame

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Series: Sands of Arawiya #1

Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publishing date:  May 14th 2019

Pages: 472 

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

After finishing We Hunt the Flame, I was left with an overall feeling of having read a funentertaining, quick book. I enjoyed my reading experience. Nonetheless, when I think about the different elements of the story, the truth is that I had issues with a lot of things. So I’m in a weird position, where this review may sound negative but my feelings about this book are not. I’m actually looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out.

The start of this book was so promising, I was gripped from the very first page because the author introduced a mysterious, creepy forest which was a very big part of the first few chapters and I was very intrigued by it. The problem was that the amazing set up of the forest was wasted, it was not used at all in the story and something very convenient happened involving the forest that made its existence feel pointless. That was a common problem with this book, the author included interesting concepts or elements to the story, but then it felt like she didn’t know what to do with them, so she did nothing or she did something but it wasn’t well executed.

In terms of the plot, this book hinged on the fact that the characters had to go to an island that was supposed to be this scary, dark place full of evil creatures, and honestly, it wasn’t as creepy or as atmospheric as I was expecting it to be or as the forest in the first chapters of the book was. The author included a lot of fascinating Arabic-inspired mythological creatures, but they didn’t feel as necessary parts of the story, it felt more like she had added them on top of the plot and not like they were integrated to the plot. I wish these creatures played a bigger and more important role in the story because they added a unique feeling to it. Also, when it came to the plot, the twists were predictable, the foreshadowing was heavy-handed and a lot of convenient things happened at the end.

We Hunt the Flame is told in dual point of view; the main characters are Nasir, who was a prince and an assassin and who suffered abuse since he was a child; and Zafira, who was a huntress that fed her village but she had to pretend to be a man because of the sexists’ beliefs in her kingdom. At the start of the book, each perspective felt captivating and necessary because they were showing different parts of the world this book takes place in and different pieces of information from the same puzzle. Nonetheless, as the book progressed and the characters met, the dual perspectives didn’t work as well because the two characters were too similar in personality and both of them were living the same situations.

While the main characters faced a lot of obstacles and challenges while they were on the island, the tension wasn’t there, I was never scared for them. This may have something to do with the fact that, while I liked the characters, I wasn’t very invested in them or what happened to them. Even when bad things happened I couldn’t muster any emotion about it.

Nonetheless, I liked the dynamic between the group of characters and I liked the friendship that was born between all of them. There were 5 characters in the group and they were all very different: there was a flirty, relax but mysterious character, a wise mediator, a moody prince/assassin, a distrustful huntress, and a warrior type. The author did a good job of establishing who each character was without making them a caricature, but it felt like the author forgot the warrior character was there most of the time and only remember when she needed this character to fight or to save the day in pretty big ways.

The romance in this book felt so forced and it mainly consisted of the two characters staring at each other from afar for the entire book. I didn’t felt the connection or the chemistry between the characters. And then there was a big problem with queerbaiting in this book, it happened twice with two different relationships and honestly, there was one relationship in particular between Zafira and her best friend that would have made such a better romance.

Overall, I had a lot of issues with this book, but it wasn’t a bad book. It was a fun and quick read, and it had so much potential, that’s why I’m reading the sequel, I want to see if the author manages to execute well some of her brilliant ideas.

Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Do you agree with my opinion?
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Juneteenth + Blackout Buddy Read: Let’s talk about White Rage by Carol Anderson

Hi everyone! Today is Juneteenth and I thought it was a good day to talk about a book I read recently for the Blackout Buddy Read hosted by Book with Shae, about the unspoken truths and the hidden history of the racial problem in America. The buddy read has been taking place from June 1st until today and there’s a liveshow hosted by Black booktubers that you should check out today where they are gonna be talking about two books: White Rage and White Privilege.

As someone who is not from the United States, I didn’t learn about Juneteenth in school or college or anywhere really, until I learned about it online. If you don’t know much about it, here’s a thread of the history of Juneteenth that a Black woman wrote on Twitter:

Also, before talking about the book, here are a few resources to support anti-racist efforts that you should check out:

White Rage: The Unspoken Truths of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide - Kindle ...

From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America.

As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, “white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,” she writes, “everyone had ignored the kindling.”

Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House.

Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America. 

Goodreads | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Carol Anderson starts White Rage explaining in the first couple of pages what she means by the term white rage and it’s such a clear and smart concept:

“White rage is not about visible violence, but rather it works its way through the courts, the legislatures, and a range of government bureaucracies. It wreaks havoc subtly, almost imperceptibly. Too imperceptibly, certainly, for a nation consistently drawn to the spectacular- to what it can see”

“The trigger for white rage, inevitably, is black advancement. It is not the mere presence of Black people that it’s the problem; rather, it is blackness with ambition, with drive, with purpose, with aspirations, and with demands for full and equal citizenship. It is blackness that refuses to accept subjugation, to give up”

After stating the driving concept of her book in such a concise and masterly way, Anderson, who is a historian, goes on to show how white rage has manifested throughout American history after important moments that are considered big “wins” for Black people and how they have esencially undermined and invalidaded those triumphs. Anderson shows this with so many historical details, there are examples of national ocurrences and also individual cases of normal people and it is both brilliant and exhausting. I kept thinking while reading this book that if I was exhausted of reading about all the roadblocks and schemes that white people have pulled, I couldn’t imagine living through it and living with the consequences of it.

“The truth is, white rage has undermined democracy, warped the Constitution, weakened the nation’s ability to compete economically, squandered billions of dollars on baseless incarceration, rendered an entire region sick, poor, and woefully undereducated, and left cities nothing less than decimated. All this havoc has been wreaked simply because African Americans wanted to work, get an education, live in decent communities, raise their families, and vote. Because they were unwilling to take no for an answer.”

White rage is defenitely not an easy read, it’s frustrating, infuriating and disheartening, but it’s such an important book. Knowing this part of history, knowing and understanding the things that have been done and the lengths white people have been willing to go to is essential to not allowing it to happen again. I also think that it’s important that this book tries to end on a positive and hopeful note, because it is in our hands as a society to stop white supremacy and we can’t forget it.

Overall, this was eye-opening and as someone who isn’t from the United States, I found the history lesson fascinating and exhausting at the same time.

Have you read this book? Have you read any nonfiction books about race that you would recommend?
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8 Books with Afro-Latinx Characters by Afro-Latinx Authors for Black History Month

Hi everyone! Since Black History Month is just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favorite books with Afro-Latinx characters by Afro-Latinx authors, in case you are looking for some books to add to your tbrs!

Without further ado, here are my recommendations for you:

*Click the title of the book to go to the Goodreads page*

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a story told in verse, it’s touching and powerful, and it explores a Dominican-american girl’s struggle with inhabiting her body, a body that is unwillingly subjected to the male gaze; it also deals with growing up in a conservative latinx family that it’s extremely religious and that imposes faith and leaves no room for questions. It’s a book about trying to figure who you are in an enviroment that doesn’t leave much room to do so and it’s fantastic (full review)

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo expertly executes the recipe of an amazing book mixing loveable characters, complicated family dynamics and mouth watering descriptions of food. This book has a realistic depiction of a teenage mother and there’s also a cute romance that doesn’t take over the story but allows Acevedo to address sex and intimacy in a positive way. Moreover, Acevedo addresses being Afro-latinx and the experience of not being considered black enough or Latinx enough in a thoughtful and engaging way (Full review)

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

This is a Pride and Prejudice retelling and the main characters are Zuri and Darius, who are Afro-Latinx and Black respectavily. Zuri and Darius are always bantering and bickering and it is a fun dynamic to read. But the main reason this book is interesting and powerful is the way it discusses gentrification and class; incoporating these subjects adds to the original story and makes it more relevant to our time. Also, the representation of a Haitian-Dominican family in terms of the religion, the food and the family dynamics is so fascinating to read.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika & Maritza Moulite

This book is told in diary entries, tweets and emails, which makes it a very quick read, and it’s the story of Alaine, the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Big part of this book is set in Haiti, which it’s not a common setting in YA books, and I think it’s something that adds to the story inmensely. This book has a lot of different storylines revolving around complicated family relationships and dynamics, but my favorite one is about discovering a family member has early-onset Alzheimer, which is depicted in what I think it’s a very heartbreaking and realistic way.

Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa

This book has a strong, determined, likable Afro-Latinx heroine, who is a phisical trainer, and this is the story of her falling in love with a Hollywood star, who is really sweet. The main couple has lots of chemistry and the book includes great dialogue, captivating writing, complicated family dynamics and descriptions of delicious Puerto Rican food.

Dreamers Series by Adriana Herrera

These books are about a group of 4 friends that are Afro-Latinx and each book is the story of one of them falling in love. Great writing, fantastic friendships, some of the sweetest romances I have ever read, mentions of amazing Latinx food and music, conversations about important subjects like domestic violence and police brutality are some of the reason why I love this series and why I totally recommend it!

What are you reading for Black History Month? Do you have recs for books by Afro-Latinx or Black authors?

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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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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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Romance Report: let’s talk about two f/f romances (Once Ghosted, Twice Shy & Marriage of Unconvenience)

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Hi everyone! This is the first installment of Romance Report, a new feature that I created because I’m usually looking for very especific elements in romance books depending on my mood (like a especific trope or a certain level of angst or a certain level of steam, etc) and I think a lot of people feel the same way, so in the romance report that’s the kind of information I’ll include as a way to make it easier for people to decide if a romance book is the one they are looking for or not.

Without further ado, here’s my first romance report:

Marriage of Unconvenience by Chelsea M. Cameron 

Marriage of Unconvenience

  • Series: it’s a standalone
  • Synopsis: Two childhood best friends get married to inherit some money and solve their financial issues, but they end up realizing they have feelings for each other (Goodreads)
  • Pages: 197
  • Representation: lesbian and queer main characters and a trans side character.
  • Point of View (POV): single female pov
  • Relationship: female/female
  • Tropes: friends to lovers, fake marriage
  • Romance: this book has so many sweet moments including a wedding dress shopping scene that warmed my heart, these two women love each other so much and it’s easy to tell throughout the book.
  • Steam level: low, it’s more cute than steamy. But there are explicit sex scenes.
  • Angst level: low, there aren’t any huge obstacles or any dramatic moments.
  • Comments : The writing isn’t the best, but the real problem is the editing. There are inconsistencies that go from the protagonists having different middle names throughout the book to one character being described as the best secret keeper and a few pages later as not being the best at keeping secrets.
  • Rating: 3,5 stars

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole 

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  • Series: book #2.5 in the Reluctant Royals series. It can be read as a standalone.
  • Synopsis: Two women reunite months after a short fling that left them brokenhearted and fall in love all over again (Goodreads)
  • Pages: 106
  • Representation: african lesbian main character and haitian-american bisexual main character.
  • Trigger warnings: deportation and forced separation of families.
  • Point of View (POV):  dual pov, one narrates the present and another the past
  • Relationship: female/female
  • Tropes: second chance romance
  • Romance: This books relies too much in the characters’ past feelings that were instalove-y to begin with (3 dates and they are in love!), which made me not be invested in the relationship. Also, the main conflict in the past and present timelines is that the characters don’t talk to each other, which gets a bit frustrating.
  • Steam level: low, there’s one explicit scene and the other scenes are fade to black.
  • Angst level: medium, there’s angst because of the way things ended between the main characters the first time they were together and also because of the reason behind their separation.
  • Comments: the writing wasn’t really for me and, because of that, it took me a long time to get into the story and connect with the characters. Also, issue of possible deportation was solved so easily that it because obvious that it was a plot device more than anything else.
  • Rating: 3,6 stars

Have you read these books? Are you excited to read them? What romance books with f/f relationships would you recommend?

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Blog Tour: With the Fire on High by Elizbeth Acevedo (Review)

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ISBN: 0062662856
Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 7 th 2019
Pages: 400
Genre: YA Contemporary

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Goodreads | Amazon|Book Depository | IndieBound | Barns & Noble

Elizabeth Acevedo expertly executes the recipe of an amazing book mixing loveable characters, complicated family dynamics and mouth watering descriptions of food.

It’s easy to tell this book was written by a poet, there are chapters where it’s just Emoni, the main character, reflecting on things and specific situation that are going on in her life from gentrification to racism to her relationship with her father, and in those chapters there are some really powerful quotes. Honestly, this book is full of incredible quotes and beautiful writing. The short chapters this story is told in made it such a fast and entertaining read.

Emoni as a character feels so real, she is patient, mature, responsible, insecure, she wants things for herself and for her child, her feelings get hurt, she is guarded, she gets angry, and sad, she is scared about the future. It was truly wonderful to read from her perspective. I loved her relationship with her grandma and with her best friend and I was infuriated by the way she was treated by her dad, her ex boyfriend and her ex boyfriend’s mother. The development of those relationships, especially her relationship with her dad, is amazing.

In terms of Emoni’s relationship with Malachi, it is just so sweet and he is such a nice guy and it is a great addition to the story, especially because it doesn’t take center stage and it is not the most important thing about the story. Also, I love that we are getting more YA books that address sex and intimacy in a positive way.

This book does a great job of showing Emoni as a mom and the struggles she faces being a mom, while also showing that she is more than that, she has dreams and hopes for herself, she’s also still a teenage even if she can’t act as one most of the time.

Also, I loved the way the Acevedo addresses being Afro-latinx and how sometimes people are not considered enough of either of those things, not black enough and not latinx enough, but the reality is they are both and they are enough.

While the heart of this book is defenitily in the relationships between Emoni and the other characters, the magic of the story, what makes it unique, appears when Emoni is cooking or talking about cooking and her dreams of being a chef or when other people talk about her food and what it makes them feel. It just made this book feel so special. I had so much fun reading about the culinary art classes, the fundraising and the trip to Spain.

EOverall, With the Fire on High was such a heartwarming read, perfect for fans of complex family dynamics and food in books.

About the author

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ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.
Find her on:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Tour Schedule:

1 st week
April 22 – Afire Pages | Welcome Post & BTS Look on the Cover
Design Process
April 23 – Reading Peaches
April 24 – Shut Up, Shealea | Printable wallpapers/ bookmarks
April 25 – A Book Devourer | “The Life of Emoni; A Comparison”
April 26 – Bookish Wanderess
April 27 – Flipping Through the Pages
April 28 –Utopia State of Mind

2nd week

April 29 – For the Love of Diversity in Books | Aesthetics + Quote
Graphics
April 30 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads | Instagram Photos
May 1 – Endless Chapters | Recipe
May 2 – The Ultimate Fangirl
May 3 – The Wolf & Books
May 4 – Book Lover’s Book Reviews
May 5 – Weekend Reader | Cover Inspired Hairstyle

3rd week

May 6 – The Writer and The Story| Favorite Quotes
May 7 –Themollyweather
May 8 – All Things Gene
May 9 – Darque Dreamer Reads
May 10 – Your Tita Kate
May 11 – Afergtale| “Stories Our Abuelas Wouldn’t Tell Today”
May 12 – F A N N A

Giveaways

Yes, you’ve read it right! This blog tour has giveawayS not just a giveaway. Enter below to enter and win a book or a shirt of With the Fire on High! You can enter not just on either but on BOTH giveaways. The giveaways are open internationally until May 22nd.

1. ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH: HERE

2. ENTER TO WIN A WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH SHIRT: HERE

Shirt design by Melissa Chan, read more about her designs here .