Friends, I am so excited for this year’s Latinx Heritage Month. I just got back from my blogging hiatus a couple of weeks ago and am so ready to dive back into blogging. And what better way to dive back in than a blogging series celebrating Latine/x authors? Talk Chisme to Me was created as a way for me to help uplift all the wonderful Latine/x voices in publishing. I hope you stick around and that you enjoy all the posts I have in store this month. For this first Talk Chisme to Me post, I am sharing my TBR for the month. I probably won’t get to all of these, but I’m certainly going to try. I tried to make my list as varied as possible since I’ve been such a mood reader lately, so don’t be surprised if I end up reading books not on this list. Covers linked to Goodreads.
1. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
“Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…
In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.
But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.
When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?
Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.
Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.
Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.”
2. Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa by Julian Randall
“Twelve-year-old Pilar Violeta “Purp” Ramirez’s world is changing, and she doesn’t care for it one bit. Her Chicago neighborhood is gentrifying and her chores have doubled since her sister, Lorena, left for college. The only constant is Abuela and Mami’s code of silence around her cousin Natasha—who vanished in the Dominican Republic fifty years ago during the Trujillo dictatorship.
When Pilar hears that Lorena’s professor studies such disappearances, she hops on the next train to take matters into her own hands. After snooping around the professor’s empty office, she discovers a folder with her cousin’s name on it . . . and gets sucked into the blank page within.
She lands on Zafa, an island swarming with coconut-shaped demons, butterfly shapeshifters, and a sinister magical prison where her cousin is being held captive. Pilar will have to go toe-to-toe with the fearsome Dominican boogeyman, El Cuco, if she has any hope of freeing Natasha and getting back home.”
3. Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
“Fourteen-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi sets out to win the ultimate date to homecoming.
Parvin has just had her heart broken when she meets the cutest boy at her new high school, Matty Fumero–with an emphasis on fumero, because he might be the smoking hot cure to all of her boy troubles. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to homecoming, she’s positive it will erase all the awful and embarrassing feelings He Who Will Not Be Named left her with after the summer. The only problem is Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself has not worked for her in the past (see aforementioned relationship), she decides that to be the girl who finally gets the guy, she should start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those girls aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. Easy enough, right?
But as Parvin struggles through her parent-mandated Farsi lessons on the weekends, a budding friendship with a boy she can’t help but be her unfiltered self with, and dealing with the ramifications of the Muslim Ban on her family in Iran, she realizes that being herself might just be the perfect thing after all.”
3. A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña
“Natalie Caña turns up the heat, humor and heart in this debut rom-com about a Puerto Rican chef and an Irish American whiskey distiller forced into a fake engagement by their scheming octogenarian grandfathers.
Kamilah Vega is desperate to convince her family to update their Puerto Rican restaurant and enter it into the Fall Foodie Tour. With the gentrification of their Chicago neighborhood, it’s the only way to save the place. The fly in her mofongo–her blackmailing abuelo says if she wants to change anything in his restaurant, she’ll have to marry the one man she can’t stand: his best friend’s grandson.
Liam Kane spent a decade working to turn his family’s distillery into a contender. Now he and his grandfather are on the verge of winning a national competition. Then Granda hits him with a one-two punch: he has cancer and he has his heart set on seeing Liam married before it’s too late. And Granda knows just the girl…Kamilah Vega.
If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses both their businesses. With their futures on the line, Kamilah and Liam plan to outfox the devious duo, faking an engagement until they both get what they want. But soon, they find themselves tangled up in more than either of them bargained for.”
5. A Girl’s Guide to Love and Magic by Debbie Rigaud
“Perfect for fans of The Sun Is Also a Star and Blackout, this YA novel from Debbie Rigaud is a celebration of Haitian and Caribbean culture, and a story of first love, vodou, and finding yourself, all set against the backdrop of the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn.
Cicely Destin, a Haitian American teen living in Brooklyn, loves the annual West Indian Day Parade that takes place in her neighborhood. The colors, clothes, tastes, sights, and sounds all celebrating Caribbean culture fill her with pride and joy. This year, the parade will be extra special: it falls on Cicely’s birthday, AND Cicely will get to hang out with her awesome aunt, Mimose, a social media influencer known for dabbling in Haitian vodou. But when Mimose’s dabbling becomes a little too real, and she seems to be possessed by a rogue spirit right before the parade, it’s up to Cicely, plus her best friend, Renee, and her crush (!), Kwame, to try to set things right. Cicely and her friends set off on a winding, thrilling scavenger hunt through Brooklyn to find the items that will undo the possession. But can Cicely help her aunt if she doesn’t fully realize her own powers just yet?
This nuanced, joyful, and loving exploration of Haitian American culture, based on Debbie Rigaud’s own experiences growing up, is pure magic.”
6. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
“The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.
Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.”
7. The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
“One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.
Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the day she realized the story she’d tried to steer clear of was the only one she wanted to tell. So she wrote her immigration lawyer’s phone number on her hand in Sharpie and embarked on a trip across the country to tell the stories of her fellow undocumented immigrants–and to find the hidden key to her own.
Looking beyond the flashpoints of the border or the activism of the DREAMers, Cornejo Villavicencio explores the lives of the undocumented–and the mysteries of her own life. She finds the nation of singular, effervescent characters often reduced in the media to political pawns or nameless laborers. The stories she tells are not deferential or naively inspirational but show the love, magic, heartbreak, insanity, and vulgarity that infuse the day-to-day lives of her subjects.
In New York, we meet the undocumented workers who were recruited into the federally funded Ground Zero cleanup after 9/11. In Miami, we enter the ubiquitous botanicas, which offer medicinal herbs and potions to those whose status blocks them from any other healthcare options. In Flint, Michigan, we learn of demands for state ID in order to receive life-saving clean water. In Connecticut, Cornejo Villavicencio, childless by choice, finds family in two teenage girls whose father is in sanctuary. And through it all we see the author grappling with the biggest questions of love, duty, family, and survival.
In her incandescent, relentlessly probing voice, Cornejo Villavicencio combines sensitive reporting and powerful personal narratives to bring to light remarkable stories of resilience, madness, and death. Through these stories we come to understand what it truly means to be a stray. An expendable. A hero. An American.”
8. Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
“The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse—by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals—propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.
Like Roberto Bolano’s 2666 or Faulkner’s greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence—real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it.”
Have you read any of these? What are you planning to read for Latinx Heritage Month? Let’s discuss in the comments!