Posted in Books

YA Reads for Latinx Heritage Month (2021 Edition)

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! Would you look at that…this post isn’t a Goodreads Monday or a Book Review Tuesday…shocking…

Anyway, I thought I’d make a special post today because here in the U.S., Latinx Heritage Month started on September 15! I’m half Latina myself, and celebrating this part of my heritage in the form of literature has been something I’ve loved to do more recently. Representation matters, and there’s nothing like the giddy feeling of seeing part of yourself represented in a book. I did a post like this last year, but I decided to do another one this year to showcase some of the fantastic Latinx books I’ve read lately.

If you want to check out my post from last year, click here!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Latina Hispanic Heritage Month Sticker by Fabiola Lara / Casa Girl for iOS  & Android | GIPHY

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR LATINX HERITAGE MONTH – 2021 EDITION

Blanca & Roja, Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Blanca & Roja: 9781250162717: McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books

GENRES: Retellings, fantasy, magical realism, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

At this point, I’m convinced that Anna-Marie McLemore is the once and future master of magical realism. Their writing never disappoints, always luscious, immersive, and blooming with flowers. Blanca & Roja was no exception!

Blazewrath Games, Amparo Ortiz

Amazon.com: Blazewrath Games eBook : Ortiz, Amparo: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, urban fantasy, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If your favorite part of the Harry Potter series was the Triwizard Tournament and all the dragons, then you HAVE to pick this one up! Perfect for readers who love competition-centered books. Plus, dragons. Need I say more?

Sanctuary, Paola Mendoza & Abby Sher

Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza

GENRE: Dystopia, fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one’s a gut-wrencher, but it should be required reading. Just like Internment, it shows an all-too plausible world where xenophobia and hatred runs even more rampant than today.

Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas

Amazon.com: Cemetery Boys: 9781250250469: Thomas, Aiden: Books

GENRES: Paranormal fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I didn’t like this one quite as much as everybody else seemed to, but it was still a fun read! LGBTQ+ Latinx rep is always super important, and it’s refreshing to see some of the rep in this novel. Plus, one of the few YA books I’ve read with Colombian-American rep!!

Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo

Amazon.com: Clap When You Land: 9780062882769: Acevedo, Elizabeth: Books

GENRES: Novels in verse/poetry, fiction, LGBTQ+, contemporary

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

At this point, Elizabeth Acevedo can do no wrong. Clap When You Land is just as much of a force of nature as her other novels, and her writing never fails to stir all kinds of emotions up in me.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Amazon.com: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything eBook :  Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fiction, contemporary, magical realism, science fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was an unexpected 5-star read for me! A textbook example of what a good genre-bending novel should be; the sci-fi, realistic, and fantasy elements blended together seamlessly for an unforgettable book.

All These Monsters, Amy Tintera

Amazon.com: All These Monsters: 9780358012405: Tintera, Amy: Books

GENRES: Dystopia, paranormal fantasy, science fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If finishing the B.P.R.D. comics left an empty space in your heart, what are you doing? PICK UP THIS BOOK! All These Monsters satisfied all of my paranormal needs, and it also has a half white, half Latina protagonist! Seeing characters like me represented always fills my heart with joy.

The Weight of Feathers, Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: The Weight of Feathers: A Novel: 9781250058652: McLemore,  Anna-Marie: Books

GENRES: Magical realism, retellings, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beginning and ending with an Anna-Marie McLemore novel because a) they never disappoint, and b) people need to read their books more! Their debut novel is no exception.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite YA books by Latinx authors? Any recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!

Happy Latinx Heritage Month Latina GIF - Happy Latinx Heritage Month Latinx  Latina - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (9/7/21) – Curses

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of Lish McBride’s for a few years now, ever since I fell in love with Firebug back in middle school. So when I found out that she’d come out with a new book, I was OVERJOYED. I immediately put it on hold at the library, and I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint in the slightest!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Curses by Lish McBride

Curses – Lish McBride

Merit Cravan is cursed. After refusing to marry the prince her mother wanted her to marry, a fairy godling cursed her to be a carnivorous beast. The curse can only be broken if she marries a man her mother chooses by her eighteenth birthday.

Tevin comes from a family of conmen, and after his mother blunders and gets on the wrong side of Lady Cravan, he’s traded to them in exchange for her mother’s freedom. He befriends Merit, and learns of her curse, but as her eighteenth birthday creeps ever closer, they discover that the way to break it is closer than either of them could have imagined.

Disney Live Action — Emma Watson as Belle BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017),...

TW/CW: gore, grotesque transformations, body horror, animal death, violence, drugging

I know, I know. Beauty and the Beast retellings have long seen their day in YA. We’ve all suffered through countless awful ones. But I am BEGGING you to read this one. You’ll love it, trust me.

I really missed reading Lish McBride books. Her wry sense of humor and genre subversion have never failed to capture my heart, and Curses was no exception. Not only does Curses flip the traditional aspects of Beauty and the Beast on their heads, it does so in the most over-the-top, tongue in cheek way possible. It’s a fairytale retelling that regularly laughs at itself. And I loved every minute of it.

The majority of the characters were compulsively lovable, and if they weren’t, they were so over-the-top that it was impossible not to have a laugh at their expense. Tevin was my favorite by far; he struck me as a very Loki-like character, but behind the magical charm and and conniving, he was a strikingly complex character. Merit was also a great protagonist! I loved her independent spirit, and the way that her curse was explored was fascinating. (Also, I loved all of the other weird curses that the side characters got – very Courtney Crumrin…no, no, wait, I think that was frogs, not snakes…anyways)

660 My prince twice over ideas | tom hiddleston loki, tom hiddleston,  thomas william hiddleston

But what I loved best about Curses is that it’s the lovably campy, comedic antithesis of every YA Beauty and the Beast retelling of the last decade or so. It’s the cure to a subgenera that has tried to take itself far too seriously, trying too hard to make itself “edgy” in order to appeal to The Teens™️. (For reference, see: Beastly, Of Beast and Beauty, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, etc.) Everything had to be all dark and gritty, or else it wouldn’t be marketable. It got old quickly. And I’m not sure if Lish McBride had this in mind while writing Curses, but this book is the perfect cure to all of that. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s plenty of laughs at its own expense, and it’s simultaneously a unique, well-written piece of art and the perfect counter to edgy retellings past. I’m 100% for pushing back against the notion that art has to be dark or edgy to be considered “deep” or worthy of praise, and if you agree, this is the book for you.

My only complaint is the worlldbuilding. It seemed complex at first glance (what with all the different types of faeries), but the more I read, the more surface-level it seemed. There’s a timestamp given, but what does that mean? Is this an alternate history? Is it just a year according to the world of Curses? Does it pertain to actual human history? I could’ve used some answers. But it’s my only complaint, really. I loved almost everything else.

All in all…well, it’s a gender-swapped Beauty and the Beast retelling, what more could you possibly want? 4.25 stars!

Loki Gif - GIFcen

Curses is a standalone, but Lish McBride is also the author of the Firebug series (Firebug and Pyromantic), the Necromancer series (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone), and several other novellas.

Today’s song:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (4/13/21) – These Violent Delights

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

A bit of good news before I begin; for one, I got the SAT over with today! I actually feel fairly confident on the math portion, for once. And this afternoon, I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! I’ll be getting dose 2 in a few weeks, and I’m so relieved.

Anyway, this book has been on my radar for a while, what with it generating mountains of hype before and after its November 2020 release. It finally came to the library recently, and I’m so glad I got to read it! Not 100% worth the hype, but a truly inventive retelling.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) – Chloe Gong

My library copy ft. a cool filter and one of my bookshelves

Shanghai, 1926. A war between the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers is brewing, and a gruesome illness and rumors of monsters run amok in the city. Caught in the middle are Juliette Cai, heiress of the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, her ex-lover and sworn enemy. As members of both gangs fall ill to the gory malady, they must set aside their pasts and work together before they fall prey to it.

Fever Ray Rose GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

TW/CW: graphic violence, body horror, abuse, gruesome descriptions of illness, substance abuse, blood

The hype made my expectations for this one pretty high, but I’m glad to say that These Violent Delights lived up to a good portion of it! Not a perfect novel, but one I enjoyed a whole lot.

First off, can we give a round of applause to Chloe Gong for putting such an inventive twist on Romeo & Juliet? I LOVED the setting, first off; it’s both a time period and a place that don’t usually turn up in YA, and the descriptions made me feel as through I was walking in Juliette’s footsteps. The discussions of racism and colonialism gave another layer of darkness to the setting as well, which made it feel a lot more authentic, especially when we saw it through Juliette’s eyes. The gang rivalry set the perfect scene for an R&J retelling, and a lot of the related scenes gave me some slight Fargo (Year 4) vibes, which is always a resounding YES in my book. And to top all that wondrousness off, supernatural vibes! The fantasy element of the plague and the monster in the river were woven in seamlessly with the historical setting, making for a world that felt lush and wonderfully fleshed-out.

As for the characters, Juliette was probably my favorite; she had a refreshing amount of agency, and she was full of drive and wit. I didn’t like Roma quite as much, but his backstory seamlessly fed into his character and made him feel more authentic. And I LOVE LOVE LOVED Benedikt and Marshall! They had such lovely chemistry, and Benedikt especially (my favorite behind Juliette) had such distinct qualities that truly set them apart in this story. It was also loads of fun to make connections back to Shakespeare’s original work, although…I had one problem: Tyler. I get it that he was supposed to be the Tybalt-surrogate, but…Tyler doesn’t seem like a 1920’s name at all. I get it that most of the Chinese characters in the novel had Westernized names, and I get that Tyler and Tybalt are very similar, but when I think of the name “Tyler,” I think more of 1990’s-2010’s, not 1920’s. I looked it up, and it seems like it was a fairly uncommon name at the time, but I could suspend my disbelief a little bit.

My other problem with the novel was with a certain aspect of the writing. For the most part, it was stellar; like I said, lush descriptions, gripping action, amazing prose. Thing is, there were a lot of metaphors that got stretched out far beyond their use. If some of the metaphors remained at one sentence, it would’ve been fine. However, some of them got dragged out to…entire paragraphs, which…mmm, nope, not my cup of tea. [gets out a pair of gardening shears to trim the purple prose down] Lots of drama in the writing department, but it fit with the story, for the most part. It was a lot to handle sometimes, but given…well, everything about the plot, I can see the point of most of it.

All in all, a high-stakes, high-drama retelling of Romeo and Juliet full of action and authenticity. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

rabbi milligan Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com

These Violent Delights is Chloe Gong’s debut novel, and is the first novel in the These Violent Delights duology. Its sequel, Our Violent Ends, is slated for release in November 2021.

Today’s song:

NEW DANNY ELFMAN ALBUM IN JUNE THIS IS NOT A DRILL

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/31/20)–Sea Sirens

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe that it’s almost September…

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

This one is a more recent addition to my TBR that I’d forgotten about (I added it in early February), and it sounds like an incredible middle grade graphic novel! And I’m always eager for a good mermaid story, and I think this one might just deliver…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/31/20)–SEA SIRENS by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee

Sea Sirens (A Trot & Cap'n Bill Adventure): Chu, Amy, Lee, Janet K.:  9780451480170: Amazon.com: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Dive into this middle-grade graphic novel about a Vietnamese American surfer girl and her talking cat who plunge into a fantasy world of oceanic marvels . . . and mayhem!

Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.

This graphic novel was inspired by The Sea Fairies, L. Frank Baum’s “underwater Wizard of Oz.” It weaves Vietnamese mythology, fantastical ocean creatures, and a deep-sea setting.

So why do I want to read this?

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu
Art by Janet K. Lee

Sea Sirens looks like it has all the elements for a graphic novel I’d love! It’s #OwnVoices, it’s set in an underwater realm…and how could I ever say no to a talking cat sidekick? The literary world needs more talking cats.

I’m not familiar with The Sea Fairies (though The Wizard of Oz was read to my class in elementary school), but it sounds like a fascinating retelling of it. I love the incorporation of Vietnamese mythology as well. The art style looks lovely too!

This one’s available at my library, so I might have to check it out soon…

Surfing GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Inexplicably stuck in my head this morning…

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!