ARC Review: Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras

Title: Anchored Hearts

Author: Priscilla Oliveras

Publishing date:   April 27th 2021

Publisher:  Zebra Books

Genre: Romance

Pages: 352

Award-winning photographer Alejandro Miranda hasn’t been home to Key West in years–not since he left to explore broader horizons with his papi’s warning echoing in his ears. He wouldn’t be heading there now if it wasn’t for an injury requiring months of recuperation. The drama of a prodigal son returning to his familia is bad enough, but coming home to the island paradise also means coming face to face with the girl he left behind–the one who was supposed to be by his side all along…

Anamaría Navarro was shattered when Alejandro took off without her. Traveling the world was their plan, not just his. But after her father’s heart attack, there was no way she could leave–not even for the man she loved. Now ensconced in the family trade as a firefighter and paramedic, with a side hustle as a personal trainer, Anamaría is dismayed that just the sight of Alejandro is enough to rekindle the flame she’s worked years to put out. And as motherly meddling pushes them together, the heat of their attraction only climbs higher. Can they learn to trust again, before the Key West sun sets on their chance at happiness?

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

*I received an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review*

This is a slow burn, second chance romance between two high school sweethearts who ended their relationship really angry with each other, but meet again after twelve years and their Cuban-American families keep trying to meddle and get them back together. My favorite aspect of this book is that it does a good job of showing the tension between the main characters because both of them are really angry and resentful, but they are still attracted to and have feelings for each other. There are a few scenes where the sexual tension and chemistry between the characters are palpable, even if this book is not that steamy.

Anamaria is an amazing heroine, she is strong, driven and compassionate. While I had my issues with Alejandro, he was talented, passionate, hardworking and he really loved Anamaria. The setup of this book allows Oliveras to include a lot of the main character’s families and their culture, which adds a lot to the story. There are family conflicts and drama but also love, support, and community. Their families are very entertaining. Also, the setting is gorgeous, Key West really shines in this book.

I had two main issues with this book: the first one is that I couldn’t believe that after twelve years, the hero hadn’t realized that the heroine had valid reasons to not go with him when he left Key West, that he was mad without a good reason and that he was the one that really messed up. The second issue is that the writing isn’t the best, it can feel a little stilted at times, and also, the word familia was used all the time and SO MANY TIMES, like multiple times on the same page, and it kept pulling me out of the story.

Rating: 3,5 stars

Are you planning on reading this book? What romance books have you enjoyed lately?

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Reviewing 2021 Romance Books by Asian Authors: First Comes Like by Alisha Rai & Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Hi everyone! Today, I’m so excited to be reviewing two romance books by Asian authors that I read back to back a few days ago and that I enjoyed.

*Click the book title to go to the goodreads page*

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

4 stars

This book was really good! The main character, Reena, feels like a real person and it’s very entertaning and relatable seeing her work to improve different aspects of her life throughout this book. It was really interesting to see this type of story of a woman finding herself and figuring things out told from the perspective of an Indian – East African Canadian Muslim woman. While these aspects were not the main focus of the book, it did a good job of including into the story different elements of being first generation Canadian and growing up with elements of three different cultures.

Beyond the personal journey of the main character, her cultural and religious background plays a huge role in her relationship with her family. The family dynamics in this book were complicated but also really entertaitning, and seeing Reena try to deal with and improve her relationship with different members of her family added an interesting layer to the book.

Lastly, the romance in this book is lovely, it was really sweet to see Reena and Nadim become friends and then seeing that friendship evolve into something more and then see them find comfort with each other. Nadim was really sweet and considerate and he was always there for Reena, which was pretty great. The one thing that maybe didn’t work so well was the ending, because the relationship moves a bit too fast, even if I understand that cultural aspects played a part in that.

First Come Like by Alisha Rai

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast. There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

3,7 stars

The two main characters of this book were great, Jia  is a Pakistani Muslim hijabi beauty influencer and Dev is a Bollywood movie star, and they both were three-dimensional characters with strong voices and personalities. Also, they both had complicated relationships with their families and complex pasts, which added interesting elements to the story. One of the things that made this book different and interesting is that both main characters are more traditional, and , in particular, having a Muslim heroine who follows the ideas and traditions of her religion was really cool.

The main issue with this book is that the chemistry and tension between the characters weren’t there, their attraction to each other was only shown by having the characters think about how attractive the other was but nothing beyond that. Also, even just in a romantic sense, this needed to be more emotional so it was believable that they loved each other. Their relationship was sweet but that was it. Also, I was expecting more from the ending.

Overall, this was an entertaining and easy to read story that had great characters but that had a romance that was a bit lackluster.

Have you read these books? Did you like them? What romance books by Asian authors do you recommend?
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Mini Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Title: These Violent Delights

Author: Chlor Gong

Publishing date:   November 17th 2020

Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 449

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Goodreads | Amazon

Content warnings: Graphic description of blood, gore, violence, death, and murder, loss of a loved one, mentions of drug use and addiction, brief mention of past transphobic microaggression, exploration of contagious disease and self-harm due to illness.

This book is SO GOOD. The whole set up with the two rival gangs who have been fighting for control over Shanghai for years was very captivating, but what made it even better was seeing these gangs dealing with other powerful players that were trying to take control of the city, whether these forces came from within the country like the communist and nationalist parties or from outside like the British and the French. I particularly found interesting the way this book explores colonialism and the way outsiders come and take land and erase culture and think they are superior to the native people of the country. There’s this underlining anger when these subjects are brought up that helps the message of the book resonate.

In terms of the plot, the mystery is really interesting, but it takes the characters a bit too long to figure things out when there are some obvious clues. Nonetheless, Chloe Gong does an amazing job of connecting the mystery about this madness that it’s swiping the city to the fight for control of the land and the trade by the different players within the city.

Beyond these aspects, one of the strong points of the book is the characters: Roma and Juliette feel so real and while they are not perfect, they are easy to root for, because behind the terrible things they do there’s a real love for their city and their people. The complicated, angsty relationship between them is captivating, they are rivals, they were in love at one point and there’s this betrayal standing between them, which is why it’s gripping to see them dancing around each other while there are all these conflicting feelings between them. Also, the side characters are pretty interesting and there is a relationship between some side characters that is full of tension and a bit of angst, they have this strong connection and it’s going to be interesting to see where it goes in the next book.

Finally, the ending is definitely intense and it sets up the sequel perfectly.

4 stars

Have you read this book? Did you like it? What historical fantasy books do you recommend?
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Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Title: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

Author: Grady Hendrix

Publishing date:  April 7th 2020

Publisher:  Quirk Books

Genre: Horror

Pages: 400

IPatricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

Goodreads | Amazon

CW: child abuse, child grooming, child self-harm, sexual assault, domestic violence, emotional abuse, dead bodies, murder, suicide attempt.

This book got me out of a reading slump, it was so engaging, I was completely invested and it made me feel so many different emotions.

I went into this book thinking the villain was the vampire, but the real villain in this story is the husband of the main character. I hate Carter with my entire soul, I was so frustrated and angry at the way he makes the main character feel small and unimportant, the way he gaslights her, makes her doubt herself, and tries to make her be seen as silly by her kids and her community. Honestly, all the husbands in this book are shitty, but I have a special hatred for Carter.

This book is not really spooky or atmospheric, the horror is a lot gruesome, there are a few really disgusting scenes that made me feel gross-out. But beyond that, the true horror in this book is seeing how the main character is treated by her husband mainly, but also by her book club friends at some points and by other people. She gets trapped in this horrible, scary, frustrating situation of knowing the truth but having no one believe her and then doubting herself and feeling silly, so she has to pretend that everything is alright.

There were so many sad and frustrating moments between the book club group of friends. Their friendship at the beggining is amazing, but it was so devastating to live the realization and the betrayal with the main character, because her friends will only support her as long as it doesn’t affect them and particulary the way their husbands and other people see them. And then when they finally come together again is just so bittersweet.

I think this book does a great job of exploring the roles white women were confined to in the 90s, especially housewives living in the suburbs, and how everyone saw them as unimportant and silly. While, at the same time, showing the privileges they had and that marginalized communities and, in this case, especially Black women and Black communities didn’t have. And also, how strongly white women held onto those privileges and how they managed to racionalize the choices they made to not lose them. Until finally something affected them too and they couldn’t ignore it anymore.

The ending of this book is bittersweet, realistic, and also satisfying. It shows how strong and resilient women can be even when they are faced against an actual monster. I can’t wait to read Grady Hendrix’s other books.

4.5 STARS

Have you read this book? Did you like it? What horror books would you recommend to someone who wants to start reading horror?

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Book Reviews: The Gilded Wolves & The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publishing date:  January 15th 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 388

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

Goodread | Amazon

The Gilded Wolves is the story of a ragtag group, each with individual motivations that make them work together to steal magical artifacts from a powerful organization. The strongest element of this book is the characters, they are all very different from each other, they are interesting and they are easy to root for. The relationships between them are complex and captivating and they have a beautiful found family. Also, there are some amazing ships in this book, the romances are subtle, angsty and full of tension.

While I wasn’t really invested in the plot, I think the way the author used the plot to talk about the looting of global south countries by colonial European countries during this time period was very well done. The way this book addresses colonialism, colorism, and slavery, without it taking over the book, adds depth to the story. Also, while I didn’t really care about the plot, I liked the ending, it was sad and angsty and twists kept coming.

One of the main issues with this book is that the magic system isn’t explained, not even the abilities of some of the main characters, which are used often throughout the book to get them out of trouble. A part of this magic system is a mix between science and magic that helps them build artifacts and, since the magic isn’t explained, there’s no way to know how the artifact that they use in the heists are built or how they work, so a lot of times, it feels like these cool inventions came out of nowhere to solve all the problems.

Another issue with the book is that it is a bit confusing, the pacing is so breakneck that sometimes it’s hard to understand all the discoverings that the characters make and how they are making them. Sometimes it’s even hard to understand what is happening because everything happens so fast. Also, the breakneck pace means the characters are always in the middle of a heist, and since I wasn’t that invested in the plot, all I wanted was more time with the characters to get to know them better.

Overall, The Gilded Wolves was a fun, fast-paced story with amazing and complex characters and a very light magic system.

3,7 stars

Title: The Silvered Serpents

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publishing date: September 22nd 2020

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 416

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

Goodreads | Amazon

I liked this book a lot more than The Gilded Wolves. I think partly it is because I went into this with the right expectations, so I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of explanations about how the world and the magic system worked. It’s still a pretty cool world and magic system even things are not really explained in detail.

The main characters are still amazing and the relationship between them got so angsty and so much more complex in this book, because all the characters are trying to deal with their grief over what happened in The Gilded Wolves and some are not handling it well, which is messing with all the relationships. Also, there’s so much longing in this book, everyone is longing for someone else and not only in a romantic sense, and it was very painful to read at times. Zofia and Eduardo are my favorite characters and their relationship is the best, I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next book.

This is another heist book and it isn’t outstanding but it’s interesting enough. Mostly, I was invested in everything that was happening because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to the characters, and this book did such a good job of keeping me at the edge of my seat for the last chunk because so much happens. While there were some predictable aspects, the plot was overall more engaging than the plot in The Gilded Wolves, I think partly because there weren’t as many things happening, so it was easier to follow and be engaged in the story. There’s a change of setting and the characters end up in a strange and magical place and it was interesting seeing them explore it, which is something I really appreciated about the story.

Overall, The Silvered Serpents was an angsty story full of complex relationships, longing and grief, but also a fun adventure with twists and turns that will keep you at the edge of your sit.

4 stars

*The amazon links are an affiliate links and I may receive a small commission for purchases made through them at no additional cost to you*

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ARC Review: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese

Happy New Year, everyone! This is my first post of 2021, I took the first week of January off because I needed a bit of rest, but I’m excited to be back talking about a book I loved. Ever After Always is the first and only 2021 release that I have read so far, I read it back in December 2020 when I got the eARC and I loved it, so I’m hoping it’s a sign that I’m going to read some amazing new releases in 2021.

This book comes out today, January 12th 2021, and you should go get your copy!

Title: Ever After Always

Author: Chloe Liese

Publishing date:  January 12th 2021

Genre: Romance

Pages: 368

Aiden: I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby. With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.

Freya: I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much. As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

Goodreads | Amazon

*The author kindly provided an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Chloe Liese did it again! Ever After Always is the third book in the Bergman Brothers Series, which is a series of companion novels following the Berman Siblings. I read the first two books in the series as well as this ARC in 2020 and I fell in love with every single one of the books and this is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance series of all time.

Ever After Always is a wonderful and emotional second chance romance between two amazing characters. This book is about a marriage in crisis and two people that love each other so much but that have hurt each other deeply. It’s not a fluffy romance, it’s a story about rebuilding a relationship, accepting that people change and relationships need to change with them or they won’t last, it’s a story about learning to trust again and about being honest and vulnerable with each other even when it’s really hard.

Chloe Liese does a great job with the second chance romance and accomplishes something very difficult, she makes the reader care about a couple that has been together for 10 years and while there are two or three short flashback scenes, the book doesn’t rely on the flashbacks or the couple’s past to make the reader root for them.

Aiden, the hero, has anxiety and the representation was hard and wonderful to read about, I just saw so much of my own struggle with anxiety in Aiden’s experience. This book does a great of showing how much Aiden’s anxiety affects his everyday life and how hard can it be to talk about it with others. I love that this book normalizes going to therapy and taking meds, we need to see more of that in romance and in books in general.

Freya, the heroine, is strong and confident, she is described as being curvy and there are a couple of scenes where body image and social expectations are talked about, but overall Freya loves herself and she just wants society to let her be and let her have the body she does without feeling like she has to show everyone all the time that she really loves herself.

Getting to see the Bergman family again and getting to know them all better added so much to the story, it definitely made it more entertaining. I love the fact that the Bergman Brothers read romance! I can’t wait for the next book, I have been intrigued by the possibility of a relationship between two of the secondary characters since book 2 and I’m so glad we are finally getting their story next!

Have you started the Bergman Brothers series? What romance series have you enjoyed recently?

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Reviewing 2020 Holiday Romances: The Twelve Dates of Christamas & Written in the Stars | Blogmas Day 14

Hi everyone! This post is so late (it’s almost 10pm in Colombia), but tomorrow is my last day working this year, so I have a lot of work that I need to finish and that has left little time for blogging. The good news is that after tomorrow, I’ll be able to dedicate a lot more time to writing my blogmas posts and sharing them not so late.

Today, I’m sharing my reviews for two holiday romances that came out in 2020:

*The amazon links in this post are affiliate links, so if you use it I may get a small commission, that doesn’t affect the price of your book*

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say “Bah, humbug.” The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?

Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along. . . .

Goodreads | Amazon

The Twelve Dates of Chrismas was ok. It was funny at times and I overall enjoyed reading it. It’s definitely chick lit and not romance, so go into it with the right expectations.

The beginning of this book was a lot stronger than the ending. The premise was interesting, reading the start of the whole 12 dates plotline was entertaining, especially since there are quite a few funny moments. Now the problem started because the author focused solely on the dates with random guys and not on the actual romance (which very early on is obvious who the love interest is going to be) and so there was a big chuck on this book where as much as I was entertained, I kept waiting for the main character to actually interact and have cute scenes with the love interest.

And then, when the main character started to spend more time with the love interest, it was easy to see that he was not that great. I mean he wasn’t awful, but he could be inconsiderate and a bit self-serving at times. Also, he owed the main character an apology for things that happened in the past and then he owed her an apology for some things he says in the book and I don’t think he groveled enough or that there was an actual apology. The main couple did have some cute moments but not that many.

Also, this book can get overly descriptive at times. I actually had to skip some of the most detailed descriptions because they made the book drag at times.

In the end, the book was entertaining, I was never bored while reading it, the whole 12 dates plotline was interesting but dragged a bit, and the romance wasn’t great.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.

Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle’s new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because… awkward.

When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family over the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship. But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?

Goodreads | Amazon

Written in the Stars included two of my favorite tropes: the fake dating and opposite attract tropes and I loved that about it. The main characters were both so different and each of them was great in their own way. They had so much chemistry and they were so sweet together.

Both Elle and Darcy had very complicated relationships with members of their families, which added a very compelling element to the story. I love complicated family dynamics and while I wish we got to see a little bit more of Elle’s family, I enjoyed seeing Elle stick up for herself and the way that storyline was resolved. I also loved Margo and Elle’s friendship, it was an amazingly nerdy friendship between two women.

I have two small issues with this book: 1) the pacing was weird, there were places where it dragged a bit, but the ending felt rushed 2) Darcy’s family is very present in this book but I feel like their storyline wasn’t resolved, the situation with her mom went nowhere and Darcy really needed to have a serious conversation with Brendon (her brother) about boundaries that didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, the main characters and romance were so good that I’m really excited to the second book and see Brendon story with Annie (Darcy’s best friend!).

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read these books? what 2020 holiday romances have you enjoyed?

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Book Review: Lobizona by Romina Garber

Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publishing date: August 25th 2020

Published by:Wednesday Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Some people ARE illegal. Lobizonas do NOT exist. Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida. Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Goodreads | Amazon

CWs: ICE raids, anti-immigration sentiments, homophobia, sexism, and gender essentialism.

Lobizona takes elements that are common in the fantasy genre like an alternate dimension, werewolves, witches, a magical school and a magical sport, and it infuses them with Argentinian folklore and culture, which makes this book unique and captivating.

Magical World and Argentinian Culture

In this book, there’s the regular world, a magical dimension and also in-between spaces where Lobizones (werewolves) and witches live, and the history of the creation of these magical beings and this in-between spaces, as well as the explanation of why they are kept hidden from humans in the regular world, is incredibly well thought out and seamlessly incorporates Argentinian myths. Moreover, it’s amazing how many little details in this book come from Argentinian culture. Romina Garber included mate, tango, conversations about soccer and Leonel Messi, and even a whole magical sport that’s inspired by soccer.

Lovable Characters and Captivating Relationships

The protagonist of Lobizona is Manu, an Argentinian girl who has a very isolated life because she is an undocumented immigrant and also because she has very distinctive eyes that mark her as different. Romina Garber manages to transmit Manu’s loneliness, anger, and frustration at her situation so perfectly, which makes it easy to connect with her and root for her as she goes on this journey to find out who she is, where she comes from, and where she belongs.

The friends that Manu makes along the way area a big part of her journey. Tiago, Cata, and Saysa are great characters, they all have their own obstacles that they need to overcome and things that they need to work on, which makes them very engaging. I loved the friendship between the three girls, it has a rocky start but seeing them grow closer and learn to care for each other warmed my heart. The main romance in this book is cute, Manu and Tiago are growing and learning as individuals and I think that’s going to make their romance even better in the next book. Also, there’s a sapphic romance in this and honestly, I had to stop reading and take five minutes to freak out about it, I hope we get to see more of it in the sequel.

Important conversations

Lobizona does a great job of addressing immigration and the current situation that a lot of immigrants are facing right now in the States. This book portraits the constant fear that immigrants live in, the limitations that they have to endure, and the cruelty that they suffer at the hands of organizations like ICE.

This book also includes discussions about sexism and gender essentialism within this magical world and even the Argentinian society. According to the myth, all women are witches and all men are Lobizones, and this is not the only thing determined by gender in this world, women are expected to have children so their species doesn’t disappear and they have certain restrictions place on them like the fact that they can’t play the magical sport that exists in this world. Of course, the fact that Manu is a Lobizona renews the discussion about the unfairness of these gender roles that some people were trying to have even before Manu showed up. By addressing how limited this view of the world is, the book also starts conversations about how transphobic and queerphobic the system in this magical world is and, beyond that, how transphobic and queerphobic Latinx cultures are too.

Latinx Readers’ Opinions

Before finishing this post, I want to share some posts about this book by other Latinx readers that you should check out: Ten Reasons why You Should Read Lobizona and ARC Review: Lobizona

Have you read Lobizona? What fantasy book have you loved lately?
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Book Tour: Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore | Review, Playlist & Giveaway

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be sharing this review and playlist with all of you today. But before getting to that, I wanted to thank Karina @Afire Page and HarperCollins Intenrational for allowing me to be part of this book tour and giving me an eARC of the book.

Title: Miss Meteor

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore & Tehlor Kay Mejia

Publishing date: September 22nd 2020

Published by: HarperTeen

Genre: YA Magical Realism

Pages: 320

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.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Book Depository

CWs: bullying, homophobic comments and xenophobic comments

Miss Meteor is one of the best books I have read in 2020. Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore deliver a beautifully written, magical story about two characters learning to be true to themselves.

Chicky and Lita, the main characters, have very strong and distinctive personalities. They are absolutely captivating characters and seeing them grow and develop throughout this book is beautiful. Also, the way they slowly rebuild their friendship is very emotional and meaningful.

The sisterhood in this book is lovely and the Quintanilla sisters own my heart. Chicky has four older sisters and they are all very different from each other, and even when they irritate each other, there is so much love between them and it is amazing seeing them be there for Chicky when she asks for help. Another relationship between siblings that is very complicated and interesting is between Cole and his sister and it was incredible seeing Cole be honest and ask someone he loves to do better and be accepting and loving not only with him but also with others, especially within the queer community.

The romances in this book are so cute and one of my favorite things about it, I was rooting for the two couples the entire book. The slow-burn, angsty friends to lovers romance between Chicky and Junior was everything that I didn’t know I needed and the sweet friends to lovers romance between Lita and Cole with its “oh” moment was very heartwarming.

Plot-wise, when it came to the pageant, I suffered the entire time I was reading this because I was just wondering what was going to go wrong, who was going to sabotage Lita or what faux pas was she going to make. It was funny too because Lita always found a way to do something unexpected that a lot of time didn’t go well for her, from tug wars and falling in a fountain with another contestant to wearing a scuba diving outfit to the swimsuit competition.

Something that this book does really well is addressing heavier subjects like messed up beauty standards, xenophobia and homophobia in a way that feels very organic. It doesn’t feel like a lesson on those subjects, it’s more about characters living their lives, encountering these things and having to process and deal with them. This book shows characters that have to learn to be true to themselves and stand up to people who try to make them feel small or weird or like outcasts.

If you want a book with adorable friends to lovers romances, heartwarming friendships, wonderfully complicated siblings’ relationships, a powerful message and amazing character development, Miss Meteor is for you!

PLAYLIST

GIVEAWAY

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Have you read or are you plannign to read Miss Metero? What’s your favorite magical realism book?
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ARC Review: Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Title: Land of the Crane

Author: Aida Salazar

Publisher: Scholastic 

Publication Date: September 15th, 2020

Genres: Middle Grade Contemporary, Poetry

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?

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange of an honest review,

Land of the Cranes is a touching book told in verse that addresses the nightmare that thousands of people are currently living in the United States thanks to the zero-tolerance policies and mass deportations of the current government.

This book tells the story of a little girl whose dad gets deported and, later on, her pregnant mom and she are also taken into a deportation facility and kept in a cage in inhumane conditions. It explores the cruelty they faced and the ways this little girl found to keep going and even help others that were in the same situation as her.

Land of the Cranes is a powerful and heartbreaking story and I had a lump in my throat the entire time I was reading it. The poetry in the book is so evocative and the fact that it’s a little girl, who doesn’t entirely understand what’s happening, the one that tells the story makes it even more effective in transmitting how devastating the whole situation is.

Aida Salazar makes some interesting writing choices that pay off. The references to Aztlan and the cranes through the book are used as a perfect vehicle to show the main character’s innocence and hopefulness, and the picture poems that Betita creates through the book, which are drawings with short poems written in the back, add a special element to the story and play an important role because they become a source of comfort for her and a source of inspiration and hope for those around her.

Everyone should read this touching book, which unfortunately is incredibly relevant right now. It’s heartbreaking in a way that only fantastic books can be.

Do you read middle grade book? What middle grade books have you loved recently?
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