Talk Chisme to Me: 2020 Latinx Heritage Month TBR

I am so excited about this year’s Latinx Heritage Month. I have a series of posts that will go up every week in celebration. I will also be participating in three different readathons/readalongs throughout the month which I will be talking about below. If you are able, please consider joining us as we celebrate Latinx voices all month long. And as always, please support books by Latinx authors once LHM ends.

Find my annual Twitter giveaway for Latinx Heritage Month here!!!

For Latinx Heritage Month, please consider donating to the Haitian Bridge Alliance, the Black Latina Girls and Women Fund, and the Undocumented Indigenous Fund

Latinx Book Club:

The Latinx Book Club is partnering again with Latinx-a-thon and Latinx Book Bingo for #LatinxLitTakeover. We will all be reading By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery for Latinx Heritage Month. You can find the Latinx Book Club on Twitter here and our Goodreads discussion group here. Graphic is linked to Goodreads.

Latinx Book Bingo TBR:

I am also participating in Latinx Book Bingo again this year. You can find their Twitter account here. I have sixteen books ready for this readathon which takes place September 15th-October 15th. I know I won’t get to them all, but a girl can dream.

Afro-Latinx: Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Lighthearted Story: This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams

Set in/MC from Latin America: Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Any Book by a Latinx Author: The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Backlist Title: Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

Recommended By a Latinx Reader: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz (recommended to me by Gabi @ Gabi’s Book Reviews)

Nonfiction: Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas by Roberto Lovato

On Cover Rep: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Never Before Read Latinx Author: Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Cover with Latinx Flag Colors: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Award-Winning: Cenzontle by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Group Book: By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

2020 Release: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Queer Rep: Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Immigrant Story: We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Intersectional MC: We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Latinx-A-Thon TBR:

I will also be participating in Latinx-a-thon which takes place September 15th-24th. You can find them on Twitter here. Here is a list of prompts for this year including the books I will be reading for them.

  1. VOICES – Read a book written by an Indigenous and/or a Black Latinx author: Tight by Torry Maldonado
  2. LATINIDAD – Read a book written by an intersectional Latinx author (gender, sexuality, ability, etc.): Cenzontle by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
  3. ROOTS – Read a translated book or a book prominently featuring more than one language (i.e. with a bilingual MC): Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
  4. HERITAGE – Read a book written by an author from a non-Spanish speaking Latin American country/heritage (i.e. Brazil or Haiti): Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
  5. #LATINXLITTAKEOVER – Group book: By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
  6. BONUS: Read books from authors of different heritages.

Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest

Not a readathon, but the Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest, organized by Paola @Guerrerawr is happening this month and I am so excited to check out all the panels. Check out this thread here for a list of all the author and reader panels happening. There are also Instagram and Blog/BookTube challenges, so be sure to check out the book fest’s IG here for all the info. And one more thing…

The Latinx Book Club will be participating in the final panel for the book fest! I am very excited for this, so I hope you all join us October 11th at 5pm est on Jocelyn’s YT channel here.

Will you be joining any of these readathons/readalongs this year for Latinx Heritage Month? Which book by a Latinx authors are you hoping to get to soon?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite 2020 Book Covers

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 “Cover Freebie (choose your own topic, centered on book covers or cover art).” Sorry I haven’t been around lately, but I am hoping to rejoin this meme weekly. This week’s topic is all about book covers. I love a good book cover and wanted to highlight some of my favs from this year. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

3. Lobizona by Romina Garber

4. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

5. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

6. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

7. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

8. Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon

9. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

10. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

What’s your favorite cover of 2020? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Mini-Reviews [ARC Edition]: Land of the Cranes + Each of Us a Desert

How about another quick round of mini-reviews? I managed to get through all the ARCs I needed to get through (I only have two ARCs after this and I don’t know what I will do with myself when I finish those), but it would not have been possible without these mini-review posts. Both of these are out tomorrow, so if you are able, please preorder!

Title: Land of the Cranes
Author: Aida Salazar
Series: N/A
Pages: 256
Publisher: Scholastic/Levine
Release Date: September 15th 2020

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author, which does not influence my review**

TW: deportation, psychological and physical abuse, mention of miscarriage, child molestation

      “From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.
      Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.
      Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?”

swirl (2)Aida Salazar’s newest middle grade novel-in-verse, Land of the Cranes, shines a spotlight on the cruelty surrounding immigration laws and their enforcement in this county. Betita has a passion for poetry, she loves words and expresses herself though picture poetry. She and her family are also undocumented. When he father fails to pick her up from school one afternoon, the world as she knows it, irrevocably alters. Her pregnant mother and herself end up in a detention center and Betita’s once bright world grows more and more dim. Betita grew up on her father’s stories, believing that she is descended from cranes destined to soar and find freedom. The detention center where Betita and her mother are imprisoned contain unspeakable horrors and it’s where Betita learns that hope isn’t just something that can fade, it’s also something that can be taken from you, one cruel act at a time. Told through the eyes of a nine-year-old protagonist, Land of the Cranes does not hold back as it describes the inhumane ways migrants are treated. It isn’t an easy read and is made less easy by the fact that as a reader you know these stories have happened and are happening to thousands of people. It initially made me sad, but in the end, I ended up extremely angry. Land of the Cranes is the kind of book that should only exist as a work of dystopian fiction. It should not have to exist in order for people to condemn the treatment of undocumented immigrants. It should not exist in order to get people to pay attention and care. And yet, here we are.

★ ★ ★ ★

Title: Each of Us a Desert
Author: Mark Oshiro
Series: N/A
Pages: 432
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: September 15th 2020

** Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, which does not influence my review.**

TW: body horror, gore

      “From the award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life.
    Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.
      Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.
      One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.”

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Mark Oshiro’s Each of Us a Desert is one of the most unique novels I have ever read with writing that will have readers pausing to bask in its beauty. Xochitl has been her village’s cuentista since she was a child. Her gift enables her to take the confessions of her people, freeing them of their guilt. In turn, Xochitl gives up these stories, forgetting their confessions and returning them to Solís, a deity who watches over them. When Xochitl learns of a frightening secret, she is forced to set off on a journey to find answers. But the desert is an unforgiving place where travelers are confronted by dangers both external and internal. As Xochitl crosses paths with others and finds an unexpected companion in the unscrupulous Emilia, she discovers that the world is bigger and more complicated than she could ever imagine. Each of Us a Desert is more character-driven than plot-driven. Oshiro’s writing shines in their descriptions of the land, but also in the way they write Xochitl’s inner conflicts as she claws her way out of loneliness, grapples with her belief system, and finds solace in another. If you are looking for an introspective novel that will very quietly burrow its way into your heart, Each of Us a Desert is the one to reach for.

★ ★ ★ ★

ARC Review: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Silvered Serpents
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Gilded Wolves, #2
Pages: 416
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 22nd 2020
**Disclaimer: I won an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway which does not influence my review**

TW: mentions of a stillbirth, suicide, child abuse

**Includes spoilers for The Gilded Wolves**

      “Returning to the dark and glamorous world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.
      They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.
      Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.
      Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.
      As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.
      A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.”

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The Silvered Serpents, sequel to The Gilded Wolves, improves on the first and once again proves that Roshani Chokshi is a master at creating unique worlds and characters you can’t help but root for. After the heart-stopping ending to the first book, Séverin and his team are no longer the tight-knit group they once were. Grief has reshaped each of them, throwing some of them together, but pushing most further apart. In his search for The Divine Lyrics, a relic rumored to give its wielder godlike power, Séverin has agreed to work with the Order. Laila has kept her reason for wanting to find the mysterious artifact a secret, but without it her life will become forfeit. The Fallen House is still on the loose, still hoping to find The Divine Lyrics themselves and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Unbeknownst to his team, Séverin has his own motivations for locating this treasure before anyone else, one that threatens to sever their friendship for good.

Ensemble casts can be tricky, but Chokshi skillfully juggles her list of characters. Each one feels wholly formed with their own backgrounds, motivations, personalities, and flaws. While the first novel spent time introducing readers to each of these characters, the second novel encourages them to explore these characters on a deeper level. One of my favorite things about this group of characters is their emotional complexity. While the loss of one of their own has impacted them all, grief has manifested itself in different ways. For Séverin, the loss of his brother has him secluding himself from the others. He is driven by his fear of not being able to protect them, but the guilt that protecting one of them cost him his brother. He has become a shadow of the person he once was and without him, the team feels fractured. The novel explores the darker side of grief where the person you were before is at odds with the person you are now.

I loved seeing characters like Zofia shine in this one. On one hand she struggles to find her place because one of her greatest fears is to be a burden. But on the other, she discovers just how valuable she is and that other people need her, maybe even more than she needs them. I really wanted a little more Hypnos in this one, but loved seeing how Chokshi explores his evolving relationship with Séverin. Hypnos isn’t quite part of the group, but very much wants to be. Standing in his way is his past with Séverin, one once full of affection but now soured with betrayal and distrust. Laila is probably my favorite character in this cast. She’s incredibly kind and thoughtful; strong and willful. While she is Séverin’s love interest, Chokshi never let’s this define Laila entirely. She is her own person with her own agency and I love how Chokshi depicts her as a woman who refuses to let her or her pain be a catalyst for another person’s growth. Enrique undergoes a different journey in this one. Probably the one character whose trust in others hasn’t been shaken, he wears his heart on his sleeve, but learns that other people are not averse to wearing masks, to using others, even those they may love.

The Silvered Serpents has some of the most vivid and lush settings. Chokshi paints a scene like no other. Her prose deserves to be savored and nothing I say here will rightful capture all her brilliance. Her words bring every new location to life and it feels that as a reader you are right in on the action with the team. The Gilded Wolves series has one of the most unique premises and The Silvered Serpents grabs you from page one and never lets go. Fans of the first will be enthralled and critics will be won over.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★