Talk Chisme to Me: Upcoming April 2020 Releases

Yes, I am back again with another Talk Chisme to Me post! This time I am highlighting April releases by Latinx authors. Most are worried about promotion for their books, so this is my way of shining a little light on upcoming releases. Please consider preordering from your local independent bookstore. Graphics are linked to Goodreads.

1. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

Why I Am Excited? I have already read this one and people, you are not ready for all the cuteness and fun paranormal adventures! I preordered my copy after finishing the ARC and you need to do the same. Read my review here.

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.”

2. The Breakbeat Poets, Vol.4: Latinext edited by Felicia Rose Chavez, José Olivarez, and Willie Perdomo

Why am I excited? I am really eager to get into more poetry and specifically by Latinx authors so this is perfect.

“In the dynamic tradition of the BreakBeat Poets anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT celebrates the embodied narratives of Latinidad. Poets speak from an array of nationalities, genders, sexualities, races, and writing styles, staking a claim to our cultural and civic space. Like Hip-Hop, we honor what was, what is, and what’s next.”

3. Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon

Why am I excited? I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this one and was blown away. It was so magical and I really appreciated how it handled grief.  Look for my review this weekend!

“A girl journeys across her family’s land to save her grandmother’s life in this captivating and magical debut that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.

Yolanda Rodríguez-O’Connell has a secret. All the members of her family have a magical gift—all, that is, except for Yolanda. Still, it’s something she can never talk about, or the townsfolk will call her family brujas—witches. When her grandmother, Wela, falls into an unexplained sleep, Yolanda is scared. Her father is off fighting in a faraway war, her mother died long ago, and Yolanda has isolated herself from her best friend and twin sister. If she loses her grandmother, who will she have left?

When a strange grass emerges in the desert behind their house, Wela miraculously wakes, begging Yolanda to take her to the lone pecan tree left on their land. Determined not to lose her, Yolanda sets out on this journey with her sister, her ex-best friend, and a boy who has a crush on her. But what is the mysterious box that her grandmother needs to find? And how will going to the pecan tree make everything all right? Along the way, Yolanda discovers long-buried secrets that have made their family gift a family curse. But she also finds the healing power of the magic all around her, which just might promise a new beginning.”

4. We Didn’t Ask For This by Adi Alsaid

Why am I excited? I love the sound of this one and anytime you put a bunch of characters together who are very different, it makes for some interesting dynamics.

“Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary — and for six students, this year’s lock-in is the answer to their dreams. The chance to finally win the contest. Kiss the guy. Make a friend. Become the star of a story that will be passed down from student to student for years to come.

But then a group of students, led by Marisa Cuevas, stage an eco-protest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met. While some students rally to the cause, others are devastated as they watch their plans fall apart. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide just how far she’ll go to attain them.”

5. What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado

Why am I excited? Yes, I am so excited to see more biracial kids in middle grade books! I love that there are authors out there who will write books like this for kids who rarely see themselves represented.

“STAY IN YOUR LANE.” Stephen doesn’t want to hear that–he wants to have no lane.

Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules–and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . .

So what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his–and who should be with him.

Torrey Maldonado, author of the highly acclaimed Tight, does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.”

6. The Water Bears by Kim Baker

Why am I excited? I am loving that we are getting so many cute middle grade reads this year. It also sounds like this one may have some fantasy or magical realism elements.

“A story about a boy recovering from a bear attack with the help of his friends and maybe, some magic.

All Newt Gomez wants for his thirteenth birthday is a bike. After surviving a bear attack last year, he thinks this isn’t an unreasonable request. Instead, his hardworking parents give him a former taco truck to help him get around the wacky island where they live in the Pacific Northwest. And then Newt and his best friend Ethan find a life-sized wooden bear washed up on the shore. Ethan is convinced the bear grants wishes; Newt doesn’t know what to think.

Newt also has a big decision ahead: go to middle school on the island, or to the mainland where his warm extended family lives? There, he won’t be the only Latinx kid; he doesn’t have bad dreams about the attack, and not everyone knows what happened to him. Newt secretly plots to move to his abuela’s house, but his truck is stolen with the maybe-magic bear inside. He must confront his fears and adapt to the reality of a world that’s often uncertain, but always full of salvageable wonders.”

7. A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen

Why am I excited? This one sounds like it is going to have a really unique style and though it sounds incredible sad, it also sounds really moving.

For fans of Girl in Pieces, All the Bright Places, and Girl, Interrupted comes a haunting and breathtaking YA contemporary debut novel that packs a powerful message: hope can be found in the darkness.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie had no hope left. Yet the day after she dies by suicide, she finds herself in the midst of an out-of-body experience. She is a spectator, swaying between past and present, retracing the events that unfolded prior to her death.

But there are gaps in her memory, fractured pieces Ellie is desperate to re-assemble. There’s her mother, a songbird who wanted to break free from her oppressive cage. The boy made of brushstrokes and goofy smiles who brought color into a gray world. Her brooding father, with his sad puppy eyes and clenched fists. Told in epistolary-like style, this deeply moving novel sensitively examines the beautiful and terrible moments that make up a life and the possibilities that live in even the darkest of places. Perfect for fans of the critically-acclaimed SpeakI’ll Give You the Sun, and If I Stay.”

8. Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Why am I excited? I am a huge fan of the Brooklyn Brujas series and am so excited for another adventure from this author. Also, I will never say no to Latinx fantasy.

“I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.”

Which of these are you most excited for? Have you preordered any of these? Any releases by Latinx authors in April I might have missed?

Monthly Wrap-Up: March ’20

Raise your hand if you’ve been blogging less even though you have more time on your hands *raises both hands* You would think that I would just throw myself into blogging as a way to keep busy, but I’ve found it incredibly difficult to concentrate on blogging. I even incorporated a “What I’m Watching” section to this wrap-up because that is where a lot of my energy is going, haha. Luckily I’ve had a few drafts at the ready. I haven’t participated in a meme for the last two weeks but will probably start working on those again in the next week or two. This month I read and listened to (thanks, Scribd) eight books. I was able to read three ARCs which I am really happy about, but it turns out April is going to be full of ARCs as well. With the exception of the Latinx Book Club pick, I don’t have any other definitive reading plans for April. The library is currently closed, so I will have to reach for my own shelves. Never a bad thing.

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

Favorite Book This Month:

I had a really good reading month in terms of ratings, but only one five-star read. My favorite March read was Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House. I listened to the audiobook which she narrates and was incredible moved by this memoir. Her writing is so powerful and her narration gave me chills. If you decide to pick this one up, I highly recommend the audiobook. Cover linked to Goodreads.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No read received less than three stars.

Reviews Posted This Month:

Books I Read, Review Coming Soon:

(Covers linked to Goodreads)

Books I Read, Not Reviewed:

(Covers Linked to Goodreads)

  1. A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano – This was a reread for the Latinx Book Club (Twitter/Goodreads). It was just as charming the second time around. If you love sweet MG novels this is the perfect series to pick up. Rating: 4/5
  2. A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney – I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this one, so went into it not expecting to hate it but not expecting to love it either. I really enjoyed Alice and the setting for this one. It was really fun, but I think it faltered a bit in the relationship department. Rating 3/5
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds – I feel like I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for years and I finally got around to listening to the audiobook. I love how much story Reynolds was able to fit in to such a small book. I loved that he plays with time and how reality is bent in this small stretch of time while the main character takes an elevator ride. Also really enjoyed Reynolds narration of this one. Rating: 4/5

Notable Blog Posts This Month + Looking Ahead:

Talk Chisme to Me: Last Ten Books By Latinx Authors I Added to My TBR – Curious about what books I’ve recently discovered and added to the TBR? Head on over to this post.

Talk Chisme to Me: Spotlighting March 2020 Releases – Here are some March releases you need to know about by Latinx authors.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring ’20 Releases I’m Excited For – There are some great spring releases coming our way. Check out my top ten most anticipated!

2020 First Quarter Book Haul: Well at Least I Have Some Books – Take a look at the books I’ve acquired so far this year.

Latinx Book Club’s April Pick – The Latinx Book Club will be reading The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes as we wanted to pick up something light. We’d love for you to join us! Find us: Twitter/Goodreads.

What I’m Watching:

Crash Landing on You – This K-drama on Netflix is exactly what I needed. It’s about a South Korean woman who accidentally finds herself in North Korea and the soldier who ends up hiding her. I love it so much and by the time this is posted, I will have finished it. I laughed, I cried, I swooned. It was perfect. Just looking at this gif puts a huge smile on my face. Please, if you have any recommendations of something similar, give them to me in the comments. I have a mighty need.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – I rewatched this one for the sixth…seventh time? Gah, I love this movie so much and demand a live action Miles Morales movie now!!!

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series – I started this one and am really enjoying it so far. I have very fond memories of the original movie and this homage is a lot of fun and filled with so much distracting drama.

On My Block: Season 3 – I love this show so much but the ending for season three was just cruel. If we don’t get a season 4, I am going to riot! Also, what happened to all the Jamal and Abuelita scenes? Did you forget to shoot them? Where are they?!

April Releases I’m Excited For:

What 2020 ARCs have you been reading? Have you been blogging more or less this month? What have you been watching? 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!

ARC Review: Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

Title: Ghost Squad
Author: Claribel A. Ortega
Series: N/A
Pages: 256
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 7th 2020
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher, which does not influence my review**

      “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.”

swirl (2)

Claribel A. Ortega’s debut novel, Ghost Squad, is a delightful middle grade with lots of heart and a cast of character that is sure to charm readers of every age. Lucely Luna is just like any twelve-year girl, she likes hanging out with her best friend, Syd, and spending time with her family. Only most of her family are ghosts and she’s the only one who can see them. When Lucely discovers that her dad may not have the money to keep their house and something odd begins happening to her ghost family, she’s determined to help on both fronts. But her plans take a frightening turn when Lucely, along with her best friend Syd, stumble upon an evil plan by the mayor himself to take over St. Augustine and steal the townspeople’s souls! Now Lucely and Syd, along with a suspiciously shrewd cat named Chunk, must figure out a way to stop him before it’s too late.

Ghost Squad is a great reminder that middle grade novels are some of the most engaging and heartfelt reads you will ever pick up. The most important thing to Lucely is her family and it is this bond that drives the story. Her father is a single parent who works hard to provide a good home life for her. His ghost tours haven’t had the kind of buzz he was hoping for, but the last thing he wants is for Lucely to worry about their finances. The rest of Lucely’s family is a different kind of special. Inspired by Dominican folklore, family members who’ve passed appear as firelies, called cocuyos, and are tied to the magical willow tree on Lucely’s family property. They also appear as ghosts, but only to Lucely’s young eyes. From her grandmother, Mamá Teresa to her long line of cousins, Lucely’s family is unconventional but fierce and loving. When Lucely discovers that something is amiss and she may lose the connection she has with her family for good, she will stop at nothing to make sure they are safe. She’s brave and little reckless, but her heart is always in the right place. Syd is Lucely’s best friend and I immediately took a liking to her. Not only is she sassy, she is also willing to do anything for her friend. Her vast knowledge of all things paranormal ends up being a big help in their quest to defeat the nefarious spirits who plan to take over their town. It was hard not to love these two girls. I was delighted with their saucy conversations and inability to avoid getting into trouble.

My favorite character by far is Syd’s grandmother, Babette, who steals the show every moment she’s on the page. Owner of an eccentric occult shop, there have always been whispers about whether or not she could be a witch. Though the girls believe they can sneak out and wander cemeteries without any of the adults in their life noticing, Babette is much smarter than either of them realize. I love that she takes the girls under her wing and shows them you should never underestimate a grandmother. And, of course, one must not forget Chunk, one of Babette’s cats, who has some strong opinions even for a cat. She made the best reluctant animal companion.

With playful dialogue and fun characters, Claribel A. Ortega’s Ghost Squad is an unforgettable debut that will thrill and bewitch readers.

★ ★ ★ ★

(4/5)

2020 First Quarter Book Haul: Well, at Least I Have Some New Books

Hope everyone is having at least a bearable week. I was trying to decide how I felt about the amount of books I bought this first quarter of the year since I told myself that I needed to be more strict with the impulse buying. Circumstances have changed and now that my library is closed at least though the month of April, it looks like I ought to be grateful for every single book I ended up buying. Let’s get to the books.

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New Releases and Preorders:

1. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim – I can’t believe that I haven’t picked up this author and in a moment of weakness, I bought her newest release. It’s a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo.

2. Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore – My very short list of auto-buy authors includes the incomparable Anna-Marie McLemore. I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this one and it is as beautiful as I imagined it would be. Read them!!!!

3. We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia – I haven’t had a chance to read this sequel but I am so excited and only a little worried Tehlor will crush me with this one.

4. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon – I’ve enjoyed every single Sandhya Menon novel to date and preordered this one based on that. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one as much as the others.

5. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – Considering this a preorder since I preordered the paperback release. When everything started closing, this was my final book buy. A comfort reread is probably coming soon.

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Impulse Buys:

6. Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barton – I got a really good deal on this one and every time I come across an excerpt from it, I grow even more intrigued, so I can’t wait to get to it.

7. Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – I haven’t even read her debut, but I was really curious about this one and the book itself is just really pretty, okay?

8. If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann – I LOVED Let’s Talk About Love and immediately bought this one upon finishing it. I cannot wait to read it.

9. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – I still haven’t gotten a chance to read this one but once I take care of a few ARCs, this is high on my TBR. I bought this one after reading Caro’s review here.

10. Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez – You can’t make out the book in this photo very well but I absolutely had to have a copy of this collection after I finished my library copy.

11. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older – I figured it was about time I bought this one as I do want to finally finish the series, but first I need to do a reread.

12. A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano – This was the Latinx Book Club’s pick for March and I am so glad because this one was just as charming the second time around.

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ARCs:

13. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Friends. FRIENDS. FRIENDS!!!!!! It happened. I have an ARC of one one of my most anticipated 2020 releases. I cannot describe to you this feeling but elation is as close as I can get.

14. Lobizona by Romina Garber – I was also lucky enough to receive an ARC of Lobizona. I am very excited for this one and those who have already read it, seem to love it.

15. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon– Another ARC I had the pleasure of receiving. Honestly, I have never received so many ARCs by Latinx authors than I have over the course of the last six month. I am truly blessed.

What is the last book you purchased? Are any of these on your TBR? Which ARC do you wish publishers would send you?