Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020.” If I let myself, I could fill this list with ten debut authors, but instead I wanted to talk about authors who didn’t debut in 2020 but whom I was introduced to last year. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Claire Kann – I read two books by Claire Kann this year. Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy features two of my all-time favorite protagonists. I keep saying this but I would fight anyone on behalf of these characters. They are literally too precious for this world.

2. Talia Hibbert – I don’t read a lot of romance, but it was a genre I wanted to check out last year. One of the authors I read was Talia Hibbert. I read Get a Life, Chloe Brown and Take a Hint, Dani Brown both of which filled me with so much joy.

3. Fonda Lee – I waited far too long to read Jade City, but it simply blew me away. I would have picked up the second book, but I confess I am far too attached to the characters and am therefore very afraid.

4. R.F. Kuang – This year I read the entire The Poppy War trilogy. It wrecked me. I can’t even think of the last time I have been so undone by a series.

5. Candice Montgomery By Any Means Necessary ended up being one of my favorites of 2020. It was definitely my favorite YA book I picked in 2020. I haven’t gotten a chance to pick up Montgomery’s debut novel but it is high on the TBR thanks to this one.

6. Stephen Graham Jones The Only Good Indians was one of the most intense and bloody books I’ve ever read and I cannot wait to read more of his novels.

7. Yamile Saied Méndez – I absolutely adored how fierce and uncompromising the protagonist, Camila, is in this one. Would definitely like to see more girls in sports in YA books as a result.

8. Romina GarberLobizona was so fun and had such vivid world building. I didn’t know I was in need of a werewolf & witches series until I picked this one up.

9 & 10. Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone This Is How You Lose the Time War was one of the most romantic books I picked up 2020. Like, I swoon just thinking about it.

Are you a fan of any of these authors? Were you introduced to any of them in 2020? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit!

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Talk Chisme to Me: Ten Most Anticipated 2021 Titles By Latinx Authors

I am so excited to bring you this list. I am looking forward to so many books by Latinx authors that are being released this year, but I wanted to highlight the ten books that I am most eager to get my hands on. Not going to lie, it was difficult making this list only ten books long, especially when one of these authors has several books coming out this year and I had to pick only one for this list (It’s SMG, btw). I also have an upcoming post about Latinx debuts you need to have on your TBR, so I feel less guilty about not putting a bunch of debuts on this list. Be on the lookout for this post in the next couple of weeks. Covers/titles are linked to Goodreads.

 alt=1. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

      The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.
      ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?
      When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
      One of the good ones.
      Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.

 alt=2. The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

      When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season…
      Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.
      But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

 alt=3. Oculta (A Forgery of Magic, #2) by Maya Motayne

      After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally stepping up to his role as heir and preparing for an International Peace Summit, while Finn is travelling and revelling in her newfound freedom from Ignacio.
      That is, until she’s unexpectedly installed as the new leader of one of Castallan’s powerful crime families. Now one of the four Thief Lords of Castallan, she’s forced to preside over the illegal underground Oculta competition, which coincides with the summit and boasts a legendary prize.
      Just when Finn finds herself back in San Cristobal, Alfie’s plans are also derailed. Los Toros, the mysterious syndicate responsible for his brother’s murder, has resurfaced—and their newest target is the summit. And when these events all unexpectedly converge, Finn and Alfie are once again forced to work together to follow the assassins’ trail and preserve Castallan’s hopes for peace with Englass.
      But will they be able to stop these sinister foes before a new war threatens their kingdom?

 alt=4. Illusionary (Hollow Crown, #2) by Zoraida Córdova

      Reeling from betrayal at the hands of the Whispers, Renata Convida is a girl on the run. With few options and fewer allies, she’s reluctantly joined forces with none other than Prince Castian, her most infuriating and intriguing enemy. They’re united by lofty goals: find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation. Together, Ren and Castian have a chance to save everything, if only they can set aside their complex and intense feelings for each other.
      With the king’s forces on their heels at every turn, their quest across Puerto Leones and beyond leaves little room for mistakes. But the greatest danger is within Ren. The Gray, her fortress of stolen memories, has begun to crumble, threatening her grip on reality. She’ll have to control her magics–and her mind–to unlock her power and protect the Moria people once and for all.
      For years, she was wielded as weapon. Now it’s her time to fight back.

 alt=5. Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

      Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.
      When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
      In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

 alt=6. Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

      Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.
      Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

 alt=7. Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

      Yalxi, the deposed Supreme Mistress of the Guild of Sorcerers, is on a desperate mission. Her lover and confidant seized her throne and stole the precious diamond heart, the jewel that is the engine of her power. Yalxi sets out to regain her magic and find a weapon capable of destroying the usurper. But this will mean turning to unlikely allies and opening herself up to unpleasant memories that have been suppressed for many years. For Yalxi is no great hero, but a cunning sorceress who once forged her path in blood – and must reckon with the consequences.
      Set in a fantastical land where jewels and blood provide symbiotic magical powers to their wearers, The Return of the Sorceress evokes the energy of classic sword and sorcery, while building a thoroughly fresh and exciting adventure ripe for our era.

8. Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno

      Pitched as When Harry Met Sally by way of Sarah Dessen, the contemporary YA romance follows two next-door neighbors and ex-best friends—gamer, fanfic-writer Luisa and drummer, golden boy Sam—whose paths collide during senior year of high school when they rediscover their childhood bucket list and set out to complete it before graduation.

9. Untitled (Blazewrath Games, #2) by Amparo Ortiz

      Sequel to Blazewrath Games, no synopsis currently available.

10. The Way Back List by Lily Anderson

      Lily Anderson’s THE WAY BACK LIST, in which a 20-something over-achiever loses her Silicon Valley job, moves home with her parents, and decides to complete her high school bucket list in an effort to find herself, connecting with her small town and former friends along the way.

Are you looking forward to any of these? Which 2021 book by a Latinx author are you most excited about? Let talk you in the comments!

Mini-Reviews: The Burning God + A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Today I’m bringing you two mini-reviews of books I finished at the end of 2020. I’m going to admit right now that I haven’t written a review in 2021, but I better get on this as this is the last series of reviews I have in my drafts. **laughs nervously**

Title: The Burning God
Author: R.F. Kuang
Series: The Burning God, #3
Pages: 654
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: November 17th 2020

**Includes spoilers for The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic**

TW: rape (including child rape), graphic violence, castration, suicide, genocide, drug use, self-harm, cannibalism, human experimentation

      “After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead.
      Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.
      Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?
      The exciting end to The Poppy War trilogy, R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed, award-winning epic fantasy that combines the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating, enthralling effect.

swirl (2)R.F. Kuang’s The Burning God provides a staggering ending to her epic fantasy series, The Poppy War. After being betrayed by someone close to her, Rin has gathered with allies in the south to fight against Federation soldiers who remain in the region even after their country’s defeat. But another battle is on the horizon as Vaisra has declared himself the President of the Nikara Republic and aligned himself with the Hesperians. Rin is determined to rid the Empire of the Hesperians for good, but in order to do so, she will have to align herself with nefarious characters and start a civil war that may spell Nikan’s doom in the end. Kuang has explored many different themes in her series from the trauma of war to Western imperialism. One thing that’s stood out is the uncompromising and sobering tone these books take on. These heavy topics are never romanticized. Her characters continually grapple with decisions they’ve made and no choice is ever simple. This has never been a good vs evil kind of story. It is grim and horrendous at times. Its characters exist in a grey area and they can be both the hero and the villain at the same time. The highlight of this final book is Rin’s relationship with Kitay. She’s relied on him to help her bridge the gap between her and her god, but more importantly he has become her tether to the physical world. Unfortunately Rin’s sole purpose has been to be a weapon, her rise could not have happen outside of war, and it begs the question what becomes of her and those like her who have only ever known how to survive and not necessarily how to live? The Burning God is merciless but a fitting conclusion to one of the most brutal and heart-stopping series I’ve ever read.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)


Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Author: Roseanne A. Brown
Series: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, #1
Pages: 480
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 2nd 2020

TW: death of a parent, self-harm

      “For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
      But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
      When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
      The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

swirl (2)

Roseanne A. Brown debuts with a luscious fantasy novel, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, which chronicles two desperate characters on a collision course with one another. Malik, along with his sisters, are traveling to Ziran in hopes of finding a better life, but their plans are thwarted by an evil spirit who orders Malik to take the life of Princess Karina or watch his younger sister perish. Karina never got over her father and older sister’s passing. She knows she should never have been heir to her mother’s throne, but fate is nothing if not cruel. When the sultana is murdered before her eyes, Karina is desperate to bring her back, even if it means meddling in dangerous magic that demands she take another’s life. Brown’s world is vibrant and intricate, the magical system is intriguing but the physical world also holds its share of wonders. Karina is an incredibly strong-willed character, bred for the spotlight. She’s brazen and confident, but these characteristics sometimes hide the loneliness she’s experienced in her grief. Malik, on the other hand, shrinks from the spotlight. He’s shy, vulnerable, and struggles with panic attacks. No one looks at him and thinks hero, not even himself, but his strength lies in his love for his sisters and his ability to empathize with those around him. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin‘s unpredictable ending with its many duplicitous characters and shifting dynamics promises a whirlwind of a sequel.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldanado


Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings where bloggers share which upcoming releases they’re most looking forward to. Join us every Wednesday and watch your TBR list multiply.

There are so many amazing sounding debuts by Latinx authors that are happening this year. Next month Crystal Maldonado’s Fat Chance, Charlie Vega comes out. The cover instantly brings a smile to my face. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Title: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Author: Crystal Maldonado
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: February 2, 2021

      “Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
      Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

      Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.
      People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.
      But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS
      A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.”

Are you participating in Can’t-Wait Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday? Is this book on your TBR? Be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll visit!