Standalone Fantasy Book Recommendations

Hi everyone! This is an exciting post for me, I tried to write this blog post in 2019 and I realized that I hadn’t read that many standalone fantasy books, so one of the things I tried to do in 2020 was reading more standalones and I had so much luck that a few books on this list are going to make it into my favorite books of the year.

Disclaimer: all the books in this list are standalones at the moment I’m writing this post, but that could change.

Without further ado, here are some standalone fantasy books that you should read:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

If you want to rest from dark fantasy books and want a book that has endearing characters and a fascinating concept, a story that will make you feel happy and hopeful and that will ask tough questions about privilege, prejudice, and complacency, I totally recommend this book! (Full review)

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

This book is whimsical, nonsensical, and peculiar. It’s perfect for someone who wants to get lost in the magic and doesn’t care if everything gets explained. The writing is beautiful, there’s not a defined plot, it’s full of metaphors and stories within stories, and it feels like you are reading a myth or a fable.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno- García

If you like books that revolve around mythology, this book is for you! The Mayan mythology in this book is captivating and lush and the mix of the mythological elements and the ‘modernity’ of the Jazz Age gave this story a unique touch. If you are looking for a fantasy story that’s different to anything you have read before, check out this one!

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

This is the perfect book for fans of fast-paced heist stories. This is an entertaining read, with a cast of amazing diverse characters, complex relationships between them and a plot full of twist and turns that will keep at the edge of your seat.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

This is a quiet, introspective fantasy book about the role of stories in our lives and in our communities and the link between the stories we are told and the things we believe in and have faith in. This is a character-driven book, set in a captivating and mysterious world, that has a very loose plot but strong thematic elements. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, give this book a chance! (Full review)

What are some of your favorite standalone fantasy books?

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Ranking the Books I Read in September & October | Wrap Up

Header

Hi everyone!!! This is a very weird wrap up, because it’s a wrap up for the first two weeks of September and the two last weeks of October. Since Latinx Heritage Month goes from September 15th to October 15th and I was hosting and participating in the Latinx Book Bingo, I dediced to do separate wrap ups, so there’s a Latinx Book Bingo Wrap Up that you can check out, if you want my opinions of the 16 books that I read for that.

Life Update

I haven’t done this is a while and I just wanted to share some good things that have happened lately:

  • I got invited to participate in a couple of panels for the Latinx Heritage Month Book Festival (organized by the wonderful Paola @ By My Shelf) and it was an amazing experience, you can check them out HERE and HERE.
  • I started a new job on October 15th and I’m loving it. I have been working towards becoming a social researcher for a while and it finally happened. I’m working as a researcher in subjects related to social innovation in health for a medical research center and I couldn’t be more excited!
  • Also, I turned 26 on October 28th, I had a lovely time with my family that day, I ate amazing food and I felt so loved by my firends in the bookish community, which was amazing!

Instagram

In case you missed it, I started a bookstagram account on August. It’s Bookish Wanderess. I would love to check out you accounts, so let me your account name ot a link in the comments!

Reading Wrap Up

Without further ado, here are the books I read in September and October:

My Least Favorite Book

13. Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Keyples (3 stars): I liked Kathleen, I really liked the secondary characters and I didn’t hate Devon, but he was my least favorite out of all the Ravenels. The romance was not great. While the sex scenes were pretty good, I couldn’t understand why the main characters liked each other beyond physical attraction.

The Ok Ones

12. Kane by Sawyer Bennett (3,5 stars): This is ok, I liked the chemistry and the dynamic between the characters and there are some steamy scenes. I had issues with how alpha male the main character is, I didn’t love the ending, the whole relationship felt rushed and if they had taken the time to talk about some things, the conflict wouldn’t have happened. At least, the conflict didn’t drag, it also actually solved pretty quickly.

11. Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey (3,5 stars): I really like Bethany as a character, she is my favorite part of the book. The romance is ok, not too memorable but I didn’t have any issues with it either. My main problem with this book is that a lot of the plot felt unrealistic and rushed, especially when it came to the reality show and to the storyline about Wes being the guardian of his niece.

The One I Liked

10. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (3,7 stars): This is cute, Nina is relatable and the whole family dynamic is very charming and captivating. The romance starts strong, but then it goes downhill after they start dating, they spend little time together and then they spend a big portion of the second half not talking to each other. This doesn’t really have a plot because it’s a character-driven book and it drags a little in some places. But overall, it is an enjoyable, lighthearted read.

The Ones I Really Liked

9. Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (4 stars): This is a quiet, introspective fantasy book about the role of stories in our lives and in our communities and the link between the stories we are told and the things we believe in and have faith in. This is a character-driven book with a very loose plot but with strong thematic elements. (Review)

8. Nothanger Abbey by Jane Austen (4 stars): The beginning dragged a little, I didn’t care about the characters and I didn’t like the narrator that interjects with random comments about what’s happening in the book. The one thing I liked from the beginning is the conversations between Henry and Catherine, I enjoyed them as a couple from the start. Once the main characters go to Northanger Abbey, the book gets so much better, it is entertaining and I actually became invested in the characters.

7. Pride, Prejudice & Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (4 stars): This is a great Pride and Prejudice retelling, it’s faithful in a lot of ways to the original but it explores very different themes. This has great complicated family dynamic and amazing main characters that have captivating storylines with their respective families. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the romance. They treated each other pretty terrible for most of this book and while they had some small nice moments, it wasn’t enough for me.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean (4 stars): I’m just getting into historical romance but this one was kind of different to everything else I have read, which was fun. Sarah MacLean’s writing is really good and her characters are lovable. The banter in this book gets a 10/10, most of this book is spent with the main characters talking and being witty and funny. They have so much chemistry.

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (4 stars): This book is basically perfect until about the 80% mark and after that, it is still pretty good. The way the relationship develops between the main characters is fantastic. Their bantering and bickering at the beginning is very entertaining

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (4 stars): This book is spooky but not too scary, andswitching between two timelines keeps the book interesting, builds tension, and saves the book from dragging. The mystery is very engaging and I liked the main character. I thought for a second that the ending was going to be disappointing but it wasn’t and then I thought I had guessed the twist but I hadn’t. It actually was a pretty good ending!

A Heart in the Body in the World by Deb Caletti (4 stars): This book is so good. It was a powerful story about ptsd, grief and slowly healing. It’s a quiet book that says a lot about the constant fear that women experience, about women having to be nice but not too nice since it can be misinterpreted, about women carrying the guilt over things men did that are not women’s fault. This is not a story of sexual assault, it’s a book about other ways in which toxic masculinity can hurt people.

My Favorite Books

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (4.5 stars): I really loved this book, it’s whimsical and magical and peculiar. The writing is absolutely beautiful. While I read this, I felt like I was lost in a strange and beautiful world. I loved and I was invested in all the stories within stories, I was intrigued by the mystery of this underground library and I was captivated by everything.

Station Eleven by Emil St. John Mandel (4,5 stars): This book was so powerful. I was captivated the entire time while reading, I was amazed by the way the author took all of these different elements (a pandemic, a cult, a theater group, some graphic novels) and different timelines and tied it all together in a way it made sense and it was interesting and meaningful. I found all the characters and storylines incredibly fascinating. This book made me really sad while reading it, it also made me feel thankful and, in the end, it gave me hope.

What were your favorite and least favorite books you read this month? Have you read any of the books on this wrap up?
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It’s Not Magical Realism: Fantasy Books by Latinx Authors

Hi everyone! Today I have another post to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month and it’s a very exciting post because fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I have some recommendations if you want to read fantasy books by Latinx authors.

If you are wondering why this post includes “It’s not Magical Realism” in the title, it’s because oftentimes fantasy books by Latinx authors are label as magical realism, especially if they are paranormal or urban fantasy and it’s a big source of annoyance for Latinx authors and readers. Not everything that Latinx authors write and that includes magical elements in it should be pigeonholed as magical realism. Latinx and magical realism are not synonyms. This post is not about this discussion tho, so if you want to learn more a quick google search will help you out with that!

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This book follows a young woman and the Mayan god of death as they embarque on a quest, where they face all kinds of mythological creatures ande deities, in order to save their lives.

    • The writing makes it feel like reading a myth or fairytale, it was so engaging.

    • The Mayan mythology was captivating and lush, and since it’s a mythology that it’s not often used in fantasy books, this book was full of gods and mythical creatures that felt very new and unique.

    • It’s set in 1920’s Mexico and the mix of the mythological elements and the ‘modernity’ of the Jazz Age worked well and gave this story an even more unique touch.

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This book follows a thief with powerful magical abilities and a prince running from his past, who inadvertently free an evil force and then have to try to capture it again before it destroys everything.

  • 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.

  • It addresses colonialism and slavery through the history of this fantasy world in a very organically and subtle way.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This story follows a young women, who has trained all her life to be a primera, a wife who runs her husband’s household. But when a rebel group treatens to expose her biggest secret, she is forced to start working for them. All this while having to live with the enemy, her husband’s other wife, the Segunda, in charge of giving him children.

  • This books has two beautifully complex main characters, a forbidden sapphic love story, fascinating mythology, an infuriating world and a flawed and complicated rebelious group.

    • 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, it’s brilliantly done.

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This book follows Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, who is determined to fight back against the high council to do it she must go on a heist and her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt.

  • This book has five main characters, who are queer, poc or struggling with mental illness and trauma. They all have distintive voices and personalies and the author seamlessly integrates the different aspects of the characters identities to the story.

  • This book is full of twists and turns and a fast pace that keeps the book entertaining and engaging.

Labyrinth Lost + Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

Goodreads | Amazon

  • Each book in this series follows one of the Mortiz sisters, who are brujas and who always end up getting into trouble when their spells backfire.

  • This series includes a variaty of magical beings like brujas, werewolves, vampires, fairies, zombies and so much more. All of them as well as a lot of the mythology in this book are steeped in Latin American culture and mythology. And that’s one of the main things that’s wonderful about this book: how unapologetically Latinx it is.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

  • This book tells the story of Xochital, a girl who has been the Cuentista of her community, she takes the stories involving secrets, lies and deceit that produce feelings like guilt and she gives them back to the land so people can be forgiven by their god. If this process doesn’t take place, the stories manifest themselves as Pesadillas – monsters out of nightmares.

    • Each of Us a Desert is a quiet fantasy book about the role of stories in our lives and in our communities and the link between the stories we are told and the things we believe in and have faith in. This is a character-driven book with a loose plot but with strong thematic elements.

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

  • This book follows Renata, who thanks to her unique magical power was kidnapped and forced to work for the King only to escape and join the rebels. But when the commander of her unit is taken captive, Renata has to return to the palace under cover and complete his top secret mission.

    • One of the stronger aspects of this story is that it feels like like something bad is about to happen at any moment because Renata is living in the midst of enemies and there are so many secrets and interests at play.

      • Incendiary has an intricate magic system, vivid characters, twist and turns that will keep you at the edge of your sit and an ending that will leave you wanting more

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your tbr? What Fantasy book by Latinx authors have you enjoyed?
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2020 isn’t over yet! Upcoming Releases by Latinx Authors I’m Eager to Read

Hi everyone! Today is a very exciting day because it marks the start of Latinx Heritage Month, which goes from September 15th to October 15th, and the start of the two readathons that take place during this time, Latinx Book Bingo and Latinxathon.

It also means that for the next few weeks, all my posts will be in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. I will post book recommendations, book reviews, updates of my reading and other fun posts all revolving around books by Latinx authors.

For the first post I decided to make a list with some amazing books by Latinx authors that are coming out in the remainder of 2020 and that I can’t wait to read. I may have cheated a little bit an included a couple that I already read, but I wanted to talk about them! Also, shout out to Joey, who help me come up with the title of this post.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to review an arc of this book and interview the author. If you like character-driven fantasy books with strong thematic elements, this one is for you! It comes out the day I’m posting this, September 15th. (Amazon)

The Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.

Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?

I also got an arc of this book and you can read my review, where I gush about how amazing this middle grade book is. Everyone should read this powerful book, which unfortunately is incredibly relevant right now. It’s heartbreaking in a way that only fantastic books can be. This book comes out today, September 15th. (Amazon)

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

I keep hearing great things about this book and I’m sad that I didn’t manage to read the e-arc I had before the book was release. Nonetheless, this is going to be the first book I read for the Latinx Book Bingo and I hope to have my review up really soon! This book also comes out today, September 15th. (Amazon)

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

I love the fact that we are getting a retelling of a Greek myth with Latinx characters!! The fact that this one also includes Taíno mythology in it makes it sound even more incredible. I ahve heard great thing about this book so I’m sure it won’t disappoint. This book also comes out today, September 15th. (Amazon)

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Miss Meteor eBook: Mejia, Tehlor Kay, McLemore, Anna-Marie:  Kindle Store

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

I’m part of the book tour for this book, so I’ll be posting my review in the last week of September. Here are some reasons I’m really excited for it: pansexual rep, trans rep, friends-to-lovers times two and complicated siblings relationships. This book comes out on September 22nd. (Amazon)

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.

I don’t think there’s a book that sounds cooler than this. I mean, an international sporting competion with dragons!!! I’m so excited! I have an e-arc of this one and I’ll be reading it at the beginning of Latinx Book Bingo and I hope to have my review up before it’s released. This book comes out on October 6th (Amazon)

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Teenage master of Cuban cuisine, Lila Reyes, is eager to inherit her family’s Miami bakery along with her sister, Pilar. But between spring and graduation, Lila’s abuela dies, her best friend abandons her, and her long-time boyfriend dumps her. Fearing Lila’s emotional health, her parents defy her wishes and entrust her summer to family and their Winchester, England inn. Even though she’s given a space to cook at the inn, she longs for Miami, the seat of her Cuban roots. Being a Miami Cuban baker is her glorified past and destined future, forged by years of training by her loving abuela.

Days into her stay, Orion Maxwell barges into Lila’s inn kitchen with a delivery from his family’s tea shop. A nuisance at first, opposite ingredients soon learn to blend. Orion befriends Lila, introducing her to his mates and devouring her food––comida Cubana.

Orion entertains her with his mental collection of superstitions and sweeps her onto his vintage motorbike. He wraps cold, underdressed Lila in his wool cardigan and becomes her personal tour guide. His mum’s early-onset (FTD) Dementia gives Orion a unique outlook––he never asks too much of the world, accepting what he can’t control. Lila soon discovers this British boy brings empathy to her loss because he’s living his own.

Before long, Lila can’t control the route of her own heart as she begins to fall for more than a new love. England has charmed her. And a special opportunity in London tempts her. As her return ticket looms, Lila feels impossibly caught between two flags. Hearts aren’t supposed to split like this––between a beautiful boy and a beautiful family. Between exploring an uncharted future in a rich new place, and honoring Abuela’s treasured legacy.

This sounds really cute! I always love books that revolve around food and the fact that this book has to do with Cuban food is even more exciting, and as someone that have always wanted to go to England, the setting of this book is another plus for me. This book comes out on November 10th (Amazon)

This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

17-year-old vegan feminist Ellen Lopez-Rourke has one muggy Houston summer left before college. She plans to spend every last moment with her two best friends before they go off to the opposite ends of Texas for school. But when Ellen is grounded for the entire summer by her (sometimes) evil stepmother, all her plans are thrown out the window.

Determined to do something with her time, Ellen (with the help of BFF Melissa) convinces her parents to let her join the local muggle Quidditch team. An all-gender, full-contact game, Quidditch isn’t quite what Ellen expects. There’s no flying, no magic, just a bunch of scrappy players holding PVC pipe between their legs and throwing dodgeballs. Suddenly Ellen is thrown into the very different world of sports: her life is all practices, training, and running with a group of Harry Potter fans.

Even as Melissa pulls away to pursue new relationships and their other BFF Xiumiao seems more interested in moving on from high school (and from Ellen), Ellen is steadily finding a place among her teammates. Maybe Quidditch is where she belongs.

But with her home life and friend troubles quickly spinning out of control–Ellen must fight for the future that she wants, now she’s playing for keeps.

This is a coming of age story with a main character who questions her gender and struggles with her cultural identity, which makes this such a needed and important book. There’s also a character who uses Xe/Xyr pronouns and that’s so exciting for me. I know this is HP related and that’s not the best thing, but just from the little details, it seems like a book that opposes everything JKR stands for. (Amazon)

Are any of these books on your tbr? What books by Latinx authors are you looking forward to read it?
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Book Review: Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro | Book Tour

Hi everyone! Today, I have a review for you as part of the book tour for Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro, this tour was organized by Colored Pages and you can see the rest of the schedule for the tour here. I posted my interview with the author a few days ago, so go check that out!

Title: Each of Us a Desert 

Author: Mark Oshiro 

Publisher: Tor Teen 

Publication Date: September 15th, 2020

Genres: YA Fantasy

From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life. Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Goodreads | Amazon | Indiebound

Each of Us a Desert is a quiet, introspective fantasy book about the role of stories in our lives and in our communities and the link between the stories we are told and the things we believe in and have faith in. This is a character-driven book with a very loose plot but with strong thematic elements.

This book tells the story of Xochital, a girl who has been the Cuentista of her community from a very early age. She has the responsibility of listening and absorbing through a magical process the stories involving secrets, lies, deceit that produce feelings like guilt, sadness, resentment, and giving them back to the land so people can be forgiven by their god. If this process doesn’t take place, the stories manifest themselves as Pesadillas – monsters out of nightmares. At least that’s what Xochital has been told her entire life, and she has been struggling for a long time with this responsibility that she didn’t choose for herself.

After something happens that changes everything, she leaves her town and in her journey to faraway places, she goes through a spiritual journey where she realizes that beliefs are based on stories that have been passed down through generations and those stories are interpreted in so many different ways across times and places and no one can be sure which interpretation is the truth. Throughout this book, Xochital has to come to terms with the fact that what she was told is binding and absolute truth may not be and she realizes that she has to choose for herself what she thinks is right.

There’s also a very strong theme of community and this book explores the repercussions of what Xochital does for her community as a Cuentista because she takes the stories and leaves the people in her town feeling absolved of the guilt, and it’s almost like an easy way out. This book explores the idea that as long as we don’t actually face the truth and the consequences of our mistakes, there is no way to learn, grow and heal as individuals and as a community.

Mark Oshiro makes very interesting and unique writing choices in this book, which worked really well with the story. This book is told from Xochital’s perspective as she tells her story to her god, and as she does, she questions them and challenges them. Another interesting choice is that whenever Xochital takes a story from someone else, there’s a short story interwoven into the narrative where she shares the confession that the other character just made. This choice works because it feels like you’re being told a secret and it’s hard not to feel intrigued and curious about what that other person did that has caused them to be consumed by guilt. Also, the way the author incorporated Spanish – which is very prevalent in the book- felt very organic and added a special element to the story.

The author doesn’t give too many explanations about the world or the magic system, and while I do wish we got a bit more information, this choice makes everything feel very intriguing. There are so many captivating elements to this world: there are magical animals, there are masked villains that seemed like something out of a horror movie, there are magic poems, there’s a secret town under the earth where some horrible things happened and so much more. Also, this book is set in a very violent world, so people are killed in gruesome ways, they are mutilated, there’s a lot of detailed descriptions of corpses and a lot of other graphic depictions that are borderline body horror.

Lastly, I think it’s important to clarify that while there is a sapphic romance that it’s not the focus of the book at all and it’s actually a very small part of the story. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the small moments between Xochital and Emilia.

Some other reviews by Latinx reviewers that you should check out: Gabi’s and Linda’s.

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Blog Tour: Interview with Mark Oshiro, author of Each of Us a Desert

Hi everyone! I’m so happy and excited and grateful to be writing this post. I’m part of the book tour for Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro and I got to interview them! This is my first author interview, which makes it so special to me, and also Mark’s answers are great and I’m happy to be sharing them with you. My review of the book will be posted on Wednesday.

This tour was organized by Colored Pages and you can see the rest of the schedule for the tour here. Today is the first day of the tour, so make sure of checking out the other posts and support the release of this wonderful YA fantasy book that includes Latinx and Queer representation.

About the Book

Title: Each of Us a Desert 

Author: Mark Oshiro 

Publisher: Tor Teen 

Publication Date: September 15th, 2020

Genres: YA Fantasy

From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life. Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

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The Interview

1. What should readers expect out of Each of Us a Desert?

Firstly: the book is almost unrecognizable compared to my debut, Anger is a Gift. I deliberately wanted to write a book that was, in every way possible, nothing like my first one. That was partly so that my readers—I have actual readers now, THIS IS SO EXCITING—would come to expect that every novel of mine is going to be a curveball. Even as I’m now working on YA #3, it’s nothing like my first two novels.

I also wrote a book that was very ambitious to complete. So on a craft level, it was a challenge in a way Anger was not. Desert is told with a unique framing device (the entire book is a single prayer); it’s technically in first and second person; it’s got a bunch of poems in Spanish; and there are short stories embedded within the text, too. Expect a very different experience reading a book!

2. How is your process different when you are writing a contemporary book like Anger is a Gift and a fantasy book like Each of Us a Desert?

Ooooh, this is a lovely question. There’s logistical stuff that’s different. I had to do way more planning before I ever wrote a word of the actual manuscript. You also have to put a lot of thought and care into the world you’re constructing so that it makes sense. With fantasy, you can’t assume the reader knows what you’re referring to, especially if it’s a detail or a worldbuilding tenet that hasn’t appeared on the page before. It forced me to consider how exposition would work, too! How was I to convey information about the world of Empalme and Solís to the reader without overwhelming them or making them feel cheated?

I only have the answer to that relative to this book. The framing device of the book helped me immensely because it actually meant I could skip over things! Xochitl didn’t need to narrate certain things because they weren’t relevant to the story she was telling her god. On top of that, because the book has poetry, prose, and short stories, I had to plot out where those all landed in the structure. So, the most general answer to this question is: Literally every part of this was harder, hahaha.

3. What was your favorite part about writing this book? 

Yo, writing fantasy means you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT! I know that probably seems obvious, but this is my first secondary fantasy story ever, and now I get why people spend their whole lives in the genre. You get to let your imagination run wild in a way that feels so beautifully freeing.

On specific thing I had so much joy writing was the pesadillas—the physical manifestations of sins. In this world, the longer a person goes without seeking a cuentista (like Xochitl, for example), the more likely it is that your sin comes alive and takes physical form. The book is creepier and more visceral because of that, but it also meant I could pull emotional threads in the cast of characters in really satisfying ways. For example: What does guilt look like if it comes alive? What about unprocessed grief? How can these appear as a threat while also allowing the reader to empathize or understand a character? So I got to lean heavily on horror tropes and techniques, and I’m a huge horror fan. It was a DELIGHT to write.

4. Is there a message you would like readers to take away from the book?

Generally, I love letting a work speak for itself, and I believe a story always takes a life of its own once it’s out in the world. It’s been really fascinating to see people’s interpretation of the book so far because they’re far more varied than the ones for Anger. Which makes sense! Anger was a remarkably straightforward novel, both in terms of the storytelling and the themes explored. This one has far more ambiguity and mystery to it.

That being said, if I was to assign any one intentional message, it’s that it’s okay to ask questions. The act of questioning the world around you is not how I was raised, and there’s some of that friction in the early part of the novel. I was very much in an environment where, as a kid, I was told things about the world and expected to believe them forever.

Xochitl believes certain things about herself and her powers because she doesn’t know to question them. And when the first domino falls and doubt enters her mind, it’s terrifying. So, I wanted to create a space where a teenager could question everything, where it was allowed, where it was rewarded.

5. What’s next for you? Any exciting new projects?

Oh, there are so many new things coming! I’m finishing up this interview the day after I turned in my first edit on The Insiders, which is my middle grade debut! It’s the story of a 12-year-old boy who discovers a magical closet while hiding from bullies, and it unites him with two other kids across the country who are dealing with similar issues. It’s my chance to really dig into some heavier themes (like bullying and who is complicit in it), but also just… fling myself into a wacky, chaotic adventure.

I’m working on my third YA book, which will see me returning to the contemporary world! But it’s also very, very dark, and what little I can tell you is that it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to writing about my childhood. I am currently pitching it as—and I promise you, the end result makes sense!—if Hereditary had no supernatural elements and was thrown in a blender with Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

And finally: I have short stories coming out in Vampires Never Get Old: Tales With Fresh Bite, From A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology, That Way Madness Lies, and This Is Our Rainbow.

About the author

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Mark Oshiro is the author of Anger is a Gift (Tor Teen), winner of the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award and nominated for a 2019 Lammy Award (in the LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult category). Upcoming novels include Each of Us a Desert (Tor Teen), a YA Fantasy novel out September 15, 2020, and The Insiders (Harper Collins), a MG Contemporary with magical elements out Fall 2021. When they are not writing, crying on camera about fictional characters for their online Mark Does Stuff universe, or traveling, Mark is busy trying to fulfill their lifelong goal: to pet every dog in the world.

I hope you liked this interview, please go a preorder the book and support it, it’s truly a great story. Also, keep your eye on my review that will be posted soon!

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Anticipated Book Releases of Summer 2020

Hi everyone! Today, I’m going to talk about my most anticipated releases of the summer. I’m kind of in a reading slump right now, so I thought that talking about books that I really want to read and that I’m highly anticipating would help me with that and, at the same time, I could help you find some new books for your tbrs.

Without further ado, here are my most anticipated releases of the summer:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Historical Fiction, Horror

Publication date: July 30th 2020

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her, Noemí heads to rescue her from a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find. This story is about an isolated mansion, a chillingly charismatic artistocrat and a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets.

Why am I anticipating it? I loved Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow, I’m trying to get more into horror and I have heard great things about this one, so I’m excited to give it a chance.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Genre: Romance

Publication date: July 7th 2020

Luc and Oliver have 3 things in common: being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends and go then go their separate ways and pretend it never happened. But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating.

Why am I anticipating it? a queer romance book that includes the fake dating trope and it’s set in London… it sounds like a perfect book to me. Also, I jsut got an ARC of it!!!

Engagement & Espionage by Penny Reid

Genre: romance, mystery

Publication date: July 14th 2020

Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear. Sabotage! Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? 

Why am I anticipating it? This is the first book in a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series and it sounds really bizarre, but I love Jenn and Cletus story in Beard Science and I want to read more about them. Also, I’m a fan of cozy mysteries and I want to see Penny Reid’s take on one.

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy

Publication date: August 4

As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manuela is confined to a small apartment. Until lifelong lies are exposed, her mother is arrested by ICE and Manu starts to discover the truth about her past, which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world straight out of Argentine folklore.

Why am I anticipating it? everyone who know me, knows that if there’s a fantasy book with Latinx characters by a Latinx author, I’m gonna read it. I have an ARC of this book and I’ll be reading it in July.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Genre: Romance

Publication date: August 4th 2020

Two soap opera actors get cast together in a bilingual rom-com for the number one streaming service in the country. With their careers on the line, they’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry, so they agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera.

Why am I anticipating it? A romance with latinx main characters, who are sopa opera stars…what else do I need? I have read two books by Alexis Daria and really enjoyed both of them, which makes me even more excited for this. Also, look at that cover!

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

Genre: YA Sci-fi

Publication date: August 6th 2020

This series is about Amani, who is taken to the royal palace to be the body double of the hated Princess Maram in her public appearances and has to be ready to die in her place. While living in the palace, she becomes entangled with a rebellious group.

Why am I anticipating it? I read and loved an ARC of Mirage, the first book in this series, before the officially release date, so it feels like I have been waiting for this sequel forever. I’m so excited to see where the story goes and what happens to the characters.

Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Publication date: September 1st 2020

Each book in the series follows one of the Mortiz sisters, who are Latinx brujas. In this book, Rose gets pulled through a portal to the land of Adas, a fairy realm hidden in the Caribbean Sea. While she tries to save Adas, she begins to discover the scope of her powers, the truth about her father’s past, and the sacrifices he made to save her sisters.

Why am I anticipating it? I love the first two books in this series, as well as Zoraida’s latest release Incendiary, so I know I’m gonna love this and I can’t wait to finally find out the truth about the father of the Mortiz sisters.

Kane by Sawyer Bennett

Genre: Romance

Publication date: September 15th 2020

Kane and Mollie have been best friends for a while and after a scary incident, they realize they want to be more than friends. So they start dating and they couldn’t be happier. But then the realities of having careers which keep them on the road put their blossoming relationship on ice.

Why am I anticipating it? I haven’t love the last couple books in this series, but friends to lovers is my favorite trope so I’m definitely reading this. Also, from the little introduction of the two main characters in the previous book, I feel like I’m going to like them.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication date: September 15th 2020

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Until she meets Emilia and the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, where they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Why am I anticipating it? A fantasy book with an f/f relationship and Latinx characters written by a Latinx authors is basically everything I have ever wanted. I have an ARC of this book and I’m hoping to read it soon.

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Genre: Romance

Publication date: September 22nd 2020

Bethany wants to flip houses as part of her family’s company, but her older brother refuses to take her seriously. When they’re invited on Flip Off, a reality competition, Bethany needs a crew and the only person willing to join her is the new guy in town. Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters as they remodel the ugliest house on the block.

Why am I anticipating it? I have really liked the first two books in the series and I’m really intrigued by the glimpses of Bethany and Wes in the last book, I feel like they are gonna be one of those couples with great banter and bickering and I’m excited about it!

What book releases from the summer are you anticipating? Do you want to read any of the books I mentioned? 
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