ARC August 2020: The TBR

I have tons of ARCs that I would really like to get to this month and thought, why not join ARC August to give myself a little motivation? ARC August was created and is hosted by Octavia and Shelly @ Read. Sleep. Repeat. This TBR contains more books than I have been getting to in a month, but I am crossing my fingers that some kind of reading god possesses me and I check off most of these as a result. You might notice that all these books are by Latinx authors and that’s because I just can’t help it, I get excited about so many. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

The TBR:

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1. Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova – I am reading this right now and love Rose’s voice and the world Zoraida has created.

2. Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera – A Orpheus and Eurydice retelling with Afro-Latinx characters? Yes please. I requested this one from NetGalley the moment it was available.

3. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez – I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for this one in September. This one is about an Argentinian soccer player.

4. Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro – I have to tell myself to be patient when it comes to this one because I am so excited and have come close to throwing my whole TBR out the window so I can get to this one already. We don’t get a lot of magical realism novels in YA and this also has horror elements **squeals in excitement**

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5. Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar – I am a huge fan of Aida’s debut The Moon Within and am really excited to read her second MG novel. She is also one of the kindest authors around and if you haven’t gotten a chance to read her stuff, I encourage you to do so.

6. Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia – I kind of poured my heart out in an email and HarperTeen showed mercy on me and sent me on ARC of this one. You have not idea how excited I am for this collaboration.

7. Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz – I don’t think it’s likely that I will get to this one this month, but if I have time, I am tackling this dragon book.

Are you participating in ARC August? What’s an ARC that you are hoping to get to soon?

Talk Chisme to Me: August Releases by Latinx Authors

I cannot believe that it is already August. I am so excited to bring you today’s list of books by Latinx authors being publisher in August that have caught my eye. Quick note that next month’s list will be a part of my Latinx Heritage Month post series which begins September 15th. Graphics are linked to Goodreads.

If you are looking to educate yourself about abolition and systemic racism, Haymarket Books has several discussions they have been hosting. Check out their YouTube channel here.

1. Lobizona by Romina Garber

Why I Am Excited? I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this Argentinian-inspired fantasy and it was so good. Manu was an easy character to root for and I cannot wait to see how Garber expands her universe in the next book. Review for this one coming very soon.

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.

2. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Why am I excited? This book had me the moment I laid eyes on the cover. I cannot wait for this romance which promises all sorts of steamy tension.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

3. Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Why am I excited? Forever bitter that I wasn’t approved for an ARC of this one, but I have preordered this debut MG and will be reading it as part of the Meteor Shower Readathon.

“Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.

Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right…

Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.”

4. Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (translated by Sarah Moses) 

Why am I excited? When I tell you that I want to read all the horror novels by Latinx authors, I want to read all the horror novels by Latinx authors. Warning, I heard this one is heavy on the body horror.

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.”


5. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Why am I excited? I am in love with the title of this one and love how unique it sounds. I cannot wait to be swept away by this debut.

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.

It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as ‘an unfortunate incident.’

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home..

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.”


6. What If a Fish by Anika Fajardo

Why am I excited? Yay for more middle grade magical realism books. No doubt this one will be just as enchanting as the cover.

“Half-Colombian Eddie Aguado has never really felt Colombian. Especially after Papa died. And since Mama keeps her memories of Papa locked up where Eddie can’t get to them, he only has Papa’s third-place fishing tournament medal to remember him by. He’ll have to figure out how to be more Colombian on his own.

As if by magic, the perfect opportunity arises. Eddie – who’s never left Minnesota – is invited to spend the summer in Colombia with his older half-brother. But as his adventure unfolds, he feels more and more like a fish out of water.

Figuring out how to be a true Colombiano might be more difficult than he thought.

Whimsical and unflinchingly honest, What if a Fish is a generational story of family and identity where hats turn into leeches, ghosts blow kisses from lemon trees, and the things you find at the end of your fishing line might not be a fish at all.”


7. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon

Why am I excited? We are seeing more books that focus on immigration, but this one caught my eye because it focuses on the child of undocumented parents. Also centers a Central American family which I would like to see more of in books that deal with immigration.

First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

Fifteen-year-old Liliana is fine, thank you very much. It’s fine that her best friend, Jade, is all caught up in her new boyfriend lately. It’s fine that her inner-city high school is disorganized and underfunded. It’s fine that her father took off again—okay, maybe that isn’t fine, but what is Liliana supposed to do? She’s fifteen! Being left with her increasingly crazy mom? Fine. Her heathen little brothers? Fine, fine, fine. But it turns out Dad did leave one thing behind besides her crazy family. Before he left, he signed Liliana up for a school desegregation program called METCO. And she’s been accepted.

Being accepted into METCO, however, isn’t the same as being accepted at her new school. In her old school, Liliana—half-Guatemalan and half-Salvadorian—was part of the majority where almost everyone was a person of color. But now at Westburg, where almost everyone is white, the struggles of being a minority are unavoidable. It becomes clear that the only way to survive is to lighten up—whiten up. And if Dad signed her up for this program, he wouldn’t have just wanted Liliana to survive, he would have wanted her to thrive. So what if Liliana is now going by Lili? So what if she’s acting like she thinks she’s better than her old friends? It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.

But then she discovers the gutting truth about her father: He’s not on one of his side trips. And it isn’t that he doesn’t want to come home…he can’t. He’s undocumented and he’s been deported back to Guatemala. Soon, nothing is fine, and Lili has to make a choice: She’s done trying to make her white classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. Done changing who she is, denying her culture and where she came from. They want to know where she’s from, what she’s about? Liliana is ready to tell them.”

Which of these are you looking forward to reading? Any releases by Latinx authors in August that I didn’t list that you are excited for?

Monthly Wrap-Up: July ’20

July, where did you go? I took a hiatus in June and remained on a semi-hiatus in July, hoping to feel renewed come August. Friends, I am still feeling a little run down, so please be patient with me this month as I try to come back to blogging. This month I read six books which is what I am averaging these days. I’m focusing on looking ahead because September promises to be extremely busy for me and therefore, I’m going to spend August preparing myself for all the events coming up.

Keep yourself up to date with what is happening worldwide, check out the carrd here.

(Book covers below are linked to my reviews, unless otherwise specified.) 

Favorite Book This Month:

My favorite read in July was Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land. I spent most my time reading crying my eyes out, but it was incredibly moving and a story that will stay with me for a very long time. Review coming soon. Cover linked to Goodreads.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

Oh, Wilder Girls, I wanted to like you, I really did, but your plot just fell really flat for me.

Reviews Posted This Month:

Read, Review Coming Soon:

Notable Blog Posts This Month + Looking Ahead:

2020 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag – Take a look at some of my favorite books so far this year.

2020 Second Quarter Book Haul: My Library Was Closed, You See… – I might have bought a little too much this quarter.

Book Club/Readathon News:

Meteor Shower Readathon – I have the pleasure of being one of the hosts for the Meteor Shower Readathon, dedicated to reading the collected works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia. We will be concluding the readathon with Miss Meteor. This readathon starts today and runs through the very beginning of October. Check out our Twitter account here for all the details.

What I Watched/Am Watching:

The Baby-Sitters Club: – I am still trying to finish up various series, but I did watch the new adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club. I really enjoyed it and even cried a couple of times. I love how they’ve updated the series and am in dire need of a second season. Claudia was always my favorite as a kid, but I always knew I was a Mary Ann at heart. This time around, I think Dawn is my favorite.

August Releases I’m Excited For:

What readathons have you been participating in this summer? What’s your most highly anticipated August release? Let me hear from you in the comments and feel free to leave me a link to your own wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to visit!

Snapshot Review: Jade City by Fonda Lee

Title: Jade City
Author: Fonda Lee
Series: The Green Bone Saga, #1
Pages: 498
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: November 7th 2017

      “Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
      Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
      When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
      Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.”

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      “Politics moved slowly and blades moved fast.”

  • World Building – Lee’s world is unique and intricate, combining magical elements in a more modern setting. The Janloon city is at the heart of the island of Kekon, where generations have mined for Jade which gives Kekonese people enhanced abilities. Clans have waged war, thrived during peaceful times, and endured many political coups. The Kaul family has ruled the No Peak Clan for generations.
  • Lan – As the eldest, Lan always knew he would be Pillar. The Kaul legacy weighs heavy on his shoulders. He knows that as a political leader, he cannot please everyone. There are those who think he is too soft and those who think his loyalty to his more reckless brother will cost the clan their standing in Kekon.
  • Hilo – Hilo is not an easy character to like. His actions are often impetuous, reactive to the situation in front of him rather than taking into account what the long-term consequences. Still, he is incredibly loyal, and not bogged down by his family’s personal prejudices.
  • Shae – At one time, Shae wanted to be an intricate player in No Peak clan, but she never felt that the men in power recognized everything she was capable of. She spent years away from Kekon, seeing what the world has to offer outside of her home country and while she loves her family, she doesn’t want to be pulled into their world again.
  • Anden – I have such a soft spot for this teen. He’s been training for years to join the clan, but every step of the way he’s had to deal with people whispering about his heritage. Even within the Kaul family, there are those who pity him and no matter how promising he is, who he was born to has greatly affected how he sees himself.
  • Siblings dynamics  – The novel focuses on the Kaul family. The eldest son, Lan is currently Pillar, their leader, his brother Hilo is Horn, the head of armed forces, Shae, their sister, who chose a different path than being an active figure in the family. There is also Anden, who was adopted into the family years ago. I could talk hours about the different dynamics between the Kaul siblings and their young cousin Anden. I loved how complicated these relationships were because it also functioned to flush out who they were individually. Lan and Hilo are very different but have been running the clan for years, they have each other’s backs, but know they will never be what the other is. While Lan and Shae have a more amicable relationship due to Lan’s caring nature, Shae and Hilo grew up more like rivals. I loved that their interactions are just as much a result of who they were as children as much as who they are as adults. Siblings sometimes they bring out the worst parts of you and adulthood doesn’t necessarily resolve conflicts you had as children.

Nothing to note.

Fonda Lee’s Jade City strikes that perfect balance of being both an action-packed and politically charged fantasy. Her characters are dynamic, the plot is fast-moving and gripping with gut-punching twists that will have you racing toward to end.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5)