Monthly Wrap-Up: November ’20 + I’m Back!!!

Hello, my friends, it’s been sooo long! If you didn’t notice, I took the month of November off from the blog but now I have returned and I am feeling pretty good. I also ended up taking a couple of weeks away from both IG and Twitter. It wasn’t planned, but just taking a break from all the pressure to be productive was very much needed. I don’t have a lot of plans in terms of the blog for this last month of the year because I didn’t want to spend my break from the blog thinking about the blog, but I do have several reviews in the drafts that need to go up. Looking forward to reconnecting with all of you <3<3<3

I just went to look at what I had read this month and apparently I didn’t. I read two full books and only got through a third of another. This is actually really funny because I could have sworn I read more. Oh well. Something amazing that did happen was I reached 100% ratio on NetGalley. This has only happened a couple of times since I started blogging. It feels so good and so earned. It might be disappearing sooner rather than later as I have requested a few 2021 ARCs.

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

Favorite Book This Month:

I am currently recovering from reading The Burning God by R.F. Kuang, the final book in The Poppy War trilogy. I didn’t finish it, it finished me. I need to sit down and write a review, but I am experiencing a book hangover that somehow is worse than the ones the first two books put me through.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No book received lower than three stars from me.

Reviews Posted This Month:

(Covers linked to reviews)

Readalong News:

Forgery of Readalongs: I have joined Johely @ bookrokosmos and Jessica @ Theatrical Reader in hosting the Forgery of Readalongs for the month of December. Together we are reading Nocturna by Maya Motayne. Join our Goodreads discussion group here.

What I Watched/Am Watching:

Chocolate – I would like to take a moment and thank the creators of this K-Drama. It single-handedly got me through election week when I needed to take a break from doomscolling and watching the news on T.V. The slow-burn was so deliciously slow but so worth it. If you like foodie dramas, childhood sweethearts, and a romance that makes your heart ache, be sure to check this one out. Keep a tissue box handy as this one takes place at a hospice and you will grow attached to characters you will have to say goodbye to.

December Releases I’m Excited For:

How was your November? What book are you hoping to get to by the end of the year? 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!

Mini-Reviews: We Unleash the Merciless Storm + These Violent Delights [ARC Review]

Hello, everyone! Remember when I said I’d hang around for a couple of days before going on hiatus? Well that didn’t happen. I am, however, back for a quick set of mini-reviews but will be disappearing again until December. I hope you are all staying safe and taking care of yourselves <3<3<3

Title: We Unleash the Merciless Storm
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Series: We Set the Dark on Fire, #2
Pages: 400
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: February 25th 2020

**Includes spoilers for We Set the Dark on Fire**

      “In this nail-biting sequel to Tehlor Kay Mejia’s critically acclaimed fantasy novel We Set the Dark on Fire, La Voz operative Carmen is forced to choose between the girl she loves and the success of the rebellion she’s devoted her life to. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Anna-Marie McLemore.
      Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.
      Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.
      There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?”

swirl (2)We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia picks up right where the heart-stopping ending to We Set the Dark on Fire left off. Told through Carmen’s POV, this conclusion to the duology raises the stakes as La Voz’s leadership grows more bold with its moves against the government of Medio. At the end of We Set the Dark on Fire Carmen was forced to admit to Dani, whom she had fallen for, that she has been lying to her and has been working undercover for La Voz. Carmen is a revelation in this one. Readers spent so much time getting to know Carmen the Segunda in the previous book, in this one we get an in depth look at Carmen the rebel. I loved her personal journey as she grapples with the girl she was and the woman she’s become. La Voz has undergone a lot of changes and Carmen has been undercover for years. As a result, many of Carmen’s closest relationships are not as strong as they used to be. Many look at her as an outsider, someone who has spent too much time behind enemy lines. Carmen, unable to communicate with Dani, has no idea how the other girl received her admission and a large part of her isn’t even sure if Dani fell for the real her to begin with. I held my breath until these two could finally meet again and their reunion is just as intense as I imagined it would be. We Unleash to Merciless Storm is the perfect companion to the first novel with a deliciously fierce lead character and a heart-stopping conclusion to an unforgettable duology.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)


Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Series: These Violent Delights, #1
Pages: 464
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: November 17th 2020

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

TW: gore, self-harm, suicide

      “Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.
      The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
      A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
      But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.”

swirl (2)

Chloe Gong’s debut, These Violent Delights, is a compelling Romeo and Juliet retelling that sets itself apart with its multilayered world building. Juliette Cai is returning to Shanghai, having been away at school in America. She has spent the last four years of her life erasing the girl she used to be, the one who once believed she could build a different life for herself, one where she wasn’t the heir of the Scarlet Gang. Now she is determined to prove herself worthy of her family’s legacy and nothing and no one will stand in her way. But when whispers of a madness sweeping through Shanghai reach her ears, she is forced to reconnect with Roma Montagov, heir to the White Flowers and the one person she once would have left her family behind for. There was a time when Juliette and Roma were inseparable, when they thought they could outrun the blood feud between their families. But years have passed and both now know the consequences of their own naivety and the sting of the other’s betrayal. Fans of second-chance romance and hate to love need to pick this one up. Every Juliette and Roma interaction is filled with layers of tension. While they are both different people than they were years ago, the history of affection between them is always there but hatred is always a second from boiling over as well. Gong also sets her story in 1920s Shanghai where many foreigners have come to grapple for power. The Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers are in danger of being overrun by outsiders looking to exert political influence. These Violent Delights is a must for fans of star-crossed romance with characters who both love and hate with the same kind of ferocity.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

Monthly Wrap-Up: October ’20 + Hiatus Announcement

I haven’t been around for the last couple of weeks and while my first instinct is to apologize, I just really needed the break. This entire year has me struggling to find the right balance with the blog and I don’t know if it’s the state of the world, my own personal issues I am working through, or the fact that I have been blogging so long I am having just another existential blogging crisis. Over the past two weeks I decided that I am in need of an extended break, so I will be stepping away from the blog for the rest of November. I should be back come December. I do have one ARC I need to read and review, so that should go up sometime next week, but other than that I won’t be posting on the blog. I hope everyone is well, I know I haven’t been blog hopping lately, but I do hope you are all staying healthy. I will still be on Twitter and you can DM me there if you need me. I will try to spend the next couple of days replying to comments before checking out.

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

Favorite Book This Month:

I had some really good reads this month, but I am going to go with Amparo Ortiz’s debut Blazewrath Games as my favorite of the month. It was such a fun fantasy and one of the few good pieces of news I’ve had this month is it’s going to get a sequel. I need it desperately, especially since I feel vindicated regarding my favorite character whom I can’t talk about because SPOILERS.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No book received lower than three stars from me.

Reviews Posted This Month:

(Covers linked to reviews)

Latinx Heritage Month Posts + Looking Ahead:

(September 15-October 15)

Talk Chisme to Me: First Books By Latinx Authors That Made Me Feel Seen – Here I talk about the very first books where I saw myself represented. These titles will always hold a special place in my heart.

Talk Chisme to Me: Latinx Horror Spotlight – To close out Latinx Heritage Month and segue into spooky season, I talked about some of my favorite creepy books by Latinx authors and a few on my TBR.

Latinx Book Club – The Latinx Book Club will be reading The Moon Within by Aida Salazar in November. Please join us if you are able. Find us on Twitter here and on Goodreads here.

What I Watched/Am Watching:

Vampires vs. the Bronx – This was such a fun movie. I absolutely adored this one and it was perfect for October. It also makes a great companion to Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching. Both deal with the insidious side of gentrification.

The Haunting of Hill House – Yes, this is my third time watching this series, but it’s just so good and exactly what I am looking for in an October watch. I still haven’t had a chance to watch The Haunting of Bly Manor, but I love spooky stuff all year long, so I have time.

November Releases I’m Excited For:

What was your favorite October read? Did you watch any scary movies? 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!

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!