Talk Chisme to Me: Latinx Horror Spotlight

Today is the last day of Latinx Heritage Month. I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts and that they’ve inspired you to pick up books by Latinx authors beyond this month. Since it is October and Halloween is just around the corner, I thought I would use this final Latinx Heritage Month post to spotlight horror (and I’m using that loosely) books by Latinx authors. Also, I am always in the lookout for more, so if you know any, please share them in the comments. Covers linked to Goodreads.

Please consider donating to the following organizations:

Haitian Bridge Alliance

Black Latina Girls and Women Fund

Undocumented Indigenous Fund

Previous posts in this series you might have missed:

Talk Chisme to Me: 2020 Latinx Heritage Month TBR

Talk Chisme to Me: New & Upcoming Releases by Latinx Authors (Sept. ’20-2021)

Talk Chisme to Me: New Favorite Books by Latinx Authors

Talk Chisme to Me: First Books by Latinx Authors That Made Me Feel Seen

Today is the last day to enter my Twitter giveaway for Latinx Heritage Month. You can win any book by a Latinx author: see tweet here.

Horror Books by Latinx Authors:

1. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

It will come as no surprise that Mexican Gothic is on this list. Crossing my fingers that publisher’s take notice of its success and publish more horror by Latinx authors and that Latinx authors in turn are inspired to write more of the genre.

      “An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . .
      From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
      Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
      Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
      And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.”

2. Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

I know you’ve heard me talk about my love for Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. It actually combines two things that I would like to see more of: Latinx characters in horror books and Latinx characters in space.

      “Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.
      Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.
      When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide―literally―the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir . . . and the whole human race.”

3. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado is my favorite short-story collection. It is deliciously eerie as it explores violence against women and female autonomy. My personal favorite is “The Husband Stitch” which years later I still think about on the regular.

      “In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
      A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
      Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.”

4. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This one is currently out of print, but you will only have to wait until May when it is rereleased. With Certain Dark Things, Moreno-Garcia flushes out the vampire trope with some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across.

      “From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.
      Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.
      Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.
      Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?”

5. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Technically more of a paranormal read, but I absolutely have to highlight Aiden Thomas’s debut Cemetery Boys. There’s a cemetery setting, both friendly and malevolent spirits, and a brujx community. It is the perfect read for this month.

      “Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
      When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
      However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.”

6. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

If you aren’t sure about picking up creepy books, Claribel A. Ortega’s Ghost Squad has the perfect amount of humor to balance out its darker elements. Buy it for yourself or a kid in your life.

      “Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.
      For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.
      Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.
With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.”

Horror by Latinx authors on my TBR:

(all titles are either backlist or being released this year)

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1. Coyote Songs by Gabriel Iglesias

2. Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

3. Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

4. Santa Muerte by Cynthia Pelayo

5. Maria the Wanted and the Legacy of Keepers by V. Castro

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6. Latinx Screams edited by V. Castro and Cina Pelayo

7. The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and DaNi

8. White Fox by Sara Faring

9. Category Five by Ann Dávila Cardinal

10. Monstrosity by Laura Diaz de Arce

Have you read any horror novels by Latinx authors? Which are on your TBR? Also if anyone knows any horror novels by Afro-Latinx authors, please let me know!

Talk Chisme to Me: First Books by Latinx Authors That Made Me Feel Seen

Happy Latinx Heritage Month, friends! Today on the blog I am going to be talking about some of the first books by Latinx authors that made me feel seen. I have read a lot of books by Latinx authors over the years, but I want to spotlight the first books by Latinx authors I came across as a blogger. These are the books that sparked a need in me and are basically the reason why I continue to seek out and highlight books by Latinx authors on this blog.

Please consider donating to the following organizations:

Haitian Bridge Alliance

Black Latina Girls and Women Fund

Undocumented Indigenous Fund

Previous posts in this series you might have missed:

Talk Chisme to Me: 2020 Latinx Heritage Month TBR

Talk Chisme to Me: New & Upcoming Releases by Latinx Authors (Sept. ’20-2021)

Talk Chisme to Me: New Favorite Books by Latinx Authors

Also be sure to enter my Twitter giveaway for Latinx Heritage Month, see tweet here.

First Books by Latinx Authors That Made Me Feel Seen:

1. Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

I believe Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez was one of first books by a Latinx author I reviewed on my blog way back in 2015. This is one of the first times I saw a Latinx protagonist in YA fiction and it made me thirst for more. It’s one of the reasons I started seeking out more books by Latinx authors and I will be forever grateful for coming across it.

      “Frenchie Garcia can’t come to grips with the death of Andy Cooper. Her friends didn’t know she had a crush him. And they don’t know she was the last person with him before he committed suicide. But Frenchie’s biggest concern is how she blindly helped him die that night.
      Frenchie’s already insane obsession with death and Emily Dickinson won’t help her understand the role she played during Andy’s “one night of adventure.” But when she meets Colin, she may have found the perfect opportunity to recreate that night. While exploring the emotional depth of loss and transition to adulthood, Sanchez’s sharp humor and clever observations bring forth a richly developed voice.”

2. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

The Summer of the Mariposas by Guadapule Garcia McCall was the first book I read as a blogger that featured Mexican-American characters. It was also one of my first introductions to magical realism and I am still hoping we get more YA magical realism novels as they are still pretty rare.

      “When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale.
      With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them?
      Summer of the Mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love.”

3. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore was my first novel by the author and I have preordered and loved every single one of their books ever since. If Summer of the Mariposas was my intro to YA magical realism than this book is the reason I fell head first in love with the genre. While not a mermaid myself (I wish), I related so much to Lace Paloma and her family.

      “The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for more than a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
      Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught since birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
      Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.”

4. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork deals with a lot of heavy topics. It’s the first book where I saw Latinx characters were dealing with mental illness. Those in the community know what a taboo subject it can be and I will be forever grateful for this book helping to break down the stigma in the Latinx community. Also, the food. I remember the Mexican food in this one so vividly.

      “16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital’s mental ward after a failed suicide attempt. Now she must find a path to recovery – and perhaps rescue some others along the way.
      When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
      But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.
      Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one – about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.”

5. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

I still remember how much I wanted to win an ARC of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova during a Armchair BEA event. I had always been a fan of witches and it wasn’t until I read this one and the entire Brooklyn Brujas series that I realized how much I craved Latinx witches in fiction. I will never tire of them. This was also the first time I saw Latinx characters in a fantasy setting and my need for more is insatiable.

      “Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
      Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.
      The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…”

What was your first read by a Latinx author as a blogger? If you are Latinx, what was the first book by a Latinx author that you saw yourself in?

Mini-Reviews: Blazewrath Games [ARC review] + Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

I have been reading so much over the last couple of months that I have only had time to write snapshot and mini-reviews. I miss writing full reviews, so I am hoping this month I can get back to doing so. Today, I have two reviews of books by Latinx authors, one of which comes out tomorrow!

Title: Blazewrath Games
Author: Amparo Ortiz
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Publisher: Page Street Books
Release Date: October 6th 2020

**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review**

TW: violence, mention of domestic violence

      “How to Train Your Dragon meets Quidditch through the Ages in this debut fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which dragons and their riders compete in an international sports tournament.
      Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
      But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.”

swirl (2)Amparo Ortiz’s YA debut, Blazewrath Games, is an utter delight, a captivating fantasy from start to finish. Lana Torres has one dream, to become the Runner for the Puerto Rican team in the Blazewrath World Cup, a game played with dragons and their riders. After a dangerous brush with death in which Lana confronts a follower of the notorious Sire, a man who was once a dragon, Lana misses her chance at tryouts. But when the president of the International Blazewrath Federation takes notice, Lana is given another chance to join the Puerto Rican team. As Lana and her new team train together, news of the Sire conducting raids on dragon sanctuaries begins to circulate. Soon Lana finds herself caught in another game as the Sire threatens violence if the Cup is not canceled; meanwhile, the people Lana is supposed to trust the most are calling for the Cup to go on as planned. Ortiz’s has built such a complex world with Blazewrath Games. I enjoyed every time we as readers got to see another layer and loved how each new fact built on the last. Dragons aren’t the only magical beings, there are also witches and wizards. One of my favorite side characters was Lana’s best friend, Samira, who is a copper-wand witch and what she lacks in magical skill she makes up for in drive. It was really interesting to explore different polarizing views in this world and how they  influenced both the heroes and villains of the story. Blazewrath Games is a celebration of camaraderie and belonging, with enough twists and turns to keep readers on their toes.

★ ★ ★ ★

(4/5)

 

Title: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Series: Paola Santiago, #1
Pages: 368
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Release Date: August 4th 2020

TW: mentions of deportation

      “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.”

swirl (2)

Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Middle Grade debut, Paola Santiago and the Rivers of Tears, takes inspiration from Mexican-American folklore as the young Paola Santiago discovers that all the fantastic stories her mom has been telling her about since she was small are in fact real. Pao knows the world is best explained through science, which is why her mother’s stories about supernatural beings like La Llorona seem so unbelievable. That is until Emma, one of her best friends goes missing. Pao begins to have strange dreams and when she discovers the world is not what she thought it was, she sets out on a quest with her friend Dante to save Emma. Pao is an easy character to like, she is ruled by her head but has to reevaluate everything she believes when the supernatural becomes impossible to deny. She is also trying to figure out all the new and messy feelings of her first crush. The most compelling relationship in the novel is Pao’s relationship with her mother. There is a divide between the two, not just because of their differing beliefs, but because Pao feels that she has to be the adult, the one who worries about things like rent while her mom is stuck in a make-believe world. I really wish we explored the latter part of this relationship more. Pao has some very strong feelings that I don’t think were addressed enough. While I enjoyed this debut overall, I do think it had issues with pacing and considering that it dragged in places, could have been shorter. Still, I will be checking out the sequel to find out what other adventures Paola finds herself in.

★ ★ ★
(3/5)

Monthly Wrap-Up: September ’20

I am pretty sure September didn’t happen. Yesterday was August, I am almost sure of it. This month I had to take care of a couple more ARCs as well as finish all my posts for Latinx Heritage Month and I am exhausted. I was just talking to friends about how we are all tired when it comes to ARC reading (why were there so many September releases?!). I am currently reading an ARC and have one more I need to take care of, but after that I am taking an ARC break. I won’t be picking up another until 2021. I thought I would get more reading done for Latinx-a-thon and Latinx Book Bingo, but like I said, September didn’t actually happen. I did read seven books by some miracle, so yay me? I still have tons of books on my TBR, but I am trying not to stress too much over it. There is still plenty of time to read these titles by the end of the year. Also, reminder that I am giving away a book by any Latinx author on Twitter, see tweet here.

Please consider donating to the following organizations:

Haitian Bridge Alliance

Black Latina Girls and Women Fund

Undocumented Indigenous Fund

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

Favorite Book This Month:

Please listen to me. You need Candice Montgomery’s By Any Means Necessary in your life. You know those books that are so good they seem to move the earth beneath your feet? This is what this book did to me. Torrey is one of the most relatable protagonists I’ve ever come across, his voice is so distinct, I cried half a dozen times while reading, I am literally tearing up right now typing about it. My review for this one will be up soon. Cover linked to Goodreads.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No book received lower than three stars from me.

Reviews Posted This Month:

(Covers linked to reviews)


1. If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
2. Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
3. Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar
4. Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro
5. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
6. Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

Read, Review Coming Soon (maybe):

(covers linked to Goodreads)

1. We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia
2. Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Latinx Heritage Month Posts:

(September 15-October 15)

Talk Chisme to Me: 2020 Latinx Heritage Month TBR – Lots of fun readathons and even a book fest happening this month. Be sure to check out all the books on my TBR for the month.

Talk Chisme to Me: New & Upcoming Releases by Latinx Authors (Sept.’20-2021) – This post literally takes me the entire year to compile, but at the end it is so rewarding to see all these titles together. If you are wondering how you can support Latinx authors all year long, you need to check out this list.

Talk Chisme to Me: New Favorite Books by Latinx Authors – Sharing my favorite reads by Latinx authors I’ve read since last LHM. I highly recommend every single one of these!

Notable Blog Posts This Month + Looking Ahead:

Top Ten Tuesday: 2020 Fall Releases I’m Excited For – Find out what fall releases have caught my eye this year!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Anna-Marie McLemore Quotes – This was such a delightful post to put together featuring quotes from one of my all-time favorite authors.

What I Watched/Am Watching:

Sister, Sister – I basically binged the entire series of Sister, Sister this month. I have a lot of fond memories of this one. Some of the jokes definitely aged better than others but overall, I really loved revisiting this one.

Julie and the Phantoms – Julie and the Phantoms!!!! Julie and the Phantoms!!!! I found a new happy place and it is this musical series about a girl who accidentally summons a ghost band and then they help each other realize their musical dreams. I’m crying, I love it so much. I am already on my second watching of it. Netflix better give us a second season.

October Releases I’m Excited For:

What October releases are you excited for? 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!