Blog Tour: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez [Snapshot ARC Review]

Thank you, Algonquin Young Readers, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour for Yamile Saied Méndez’s YA debut, Furia. I was in awe of Camila’s spirit and her unwavering determination. I hope you all have a chance to meet Camila and be inspired by her the way I was.

Title: Furia
Author: Yamile Saied Méndez
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: September 15th 2020

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

TW: domestic abuse, child abuse, animal abuse, homophobia, femicide

      “An #ownvoices contemporary YA set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.
    In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.
      At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.
      On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.
      But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.”

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Camila – Camila is very aware of how society sees girls and women. She understands that she will always be undervalued, more of a burden to her family than an asset. It’s why she has kept her fútbol playing a secret. But there is a fire deep inside her that won’t let her let go of her dreams of playing professionally. When she becomes La Furia on the field, she feels unstoppable, a contrast to how she feels in the real world. Whether it’s keeping secrets from those closest to her or holding her tongue when she wants to lash out at her domineering father, the fútbol field is the only place that she feels where she can be entirely herself.

Argentine Setting – I love reading about the Latinx diaspora in the US, but am so glad to see a Latinx story take place in Latin America. Yamile Saied Méndez transports readers to Camila’s city of Rosario. Camila is very aware of the beauty of her city and her people, but she is also conscious of the ugly parts as well. I appreciated the honesty in Camila’s POV, who doesn’t romanticize her home, but who also very much loves it. Camila is also biracial, her heritage includes Afro-Latinx and Palestinian grandparents. This is personally the first time I’ve seen an Arab-Latinx character in a YA book which is something I would like to see more of.

Female sports – I would love to see more books that focus on girls in sports. We know female sports are not given the same kind of reverence as men’s sports. Camila has to jump through so many hurdles before she is taken seriously. Various players on her team are forced to leave for reasons that have nothing to do with their hard work and talent and everything to do with misogyny. The only way for someone like Camila to succeed is if she does not waver in her faith in herself. And even then, the odds are always stacked against her.

Discussions of feminism and femicide – Ni Una Menos, a Latin-American feminist movement is part of the backdrop of Camila’s world. Furia also touches on femicide and domestic violence as symptoms of a patriarchal society who views girls and women as expendable.

Camila and her mother – When Furia first opens, Camila’s mother is just as much a hurdle toward her dreams as her father. Camila does not want to get stuck in the same situation as her mother, who had to put away any childhood dreams she may have had and be tied down to a man who does not love her. Both Camila and her mother have to learn to see each other differently before they are able to have any kind of positive relationship.

Nothing to note.

Yamile Saied Méndez’s Furia is as fierce as its title suggests with a protagonist who is unwavering in her ambition. Despite the many people telling her she can’t, she proves again and again that she can.

★ ★ ★ ★

(4/5)



About the Author:
      Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Méndez is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx middle grade and young adult authors. Furia is her first novel for young adult readers.

Follow Yamile: Website, Twitter, Instagram

Click here to order your copy of Furia now!

Snapshot Review: If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

Title: If It Makes You Happy
Author: Claire Kann
Series: N/A
Pages: 340
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: June 4th 2019

      “High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s ‘too fat.’
    Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?”

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      “Everyone had that one truth that fueled them. Mine was this: my family. My life revolved and lived and breathed around being that one person everyone could count on.”

  • Winnie – Winnie is such a lovable character. Her family means everything to her, but it isn’t just her family, if she accepts a person into her inner circle, she will go whatever distance to make them happy. She’s strong-willed and comfortable with who she is in a world that often judges her and does not understand her. I love how the novel explores all of Winnie’s identities from being Black, to being fat, to being queer.
  • Family – One of my favorite things about this novel is its focus on family. Winnie is very invested in each of her family members. She has a different relationship with each of her parents, her younger brother, her grandmother, and her cousin. Every relationship is given a separate focus and Kann isn’t shy about showing the negative aspects of these relationships. One of her most complicated relationship is with her grandmother. They don’t always see eye to eye and there are moments when it feels like they will never be on the same page. It’s a lesson in contentious familial relationships where love isn’t the cure all.
  • Queer platonic relationship If It Makes You Happy features a queer platonic relationship between Winnie and her “ungirlfriend” Kara. Winnie and Kara are committed to one another because they feel more than friendship but not in a romantic way. I really enjoyed reading about these two and how they navigated Winnie’s desire for a romantic relationship separate from what they have.
  • Romance – There were some extremely cute, make you squeal moments between Winnie and her romantic love interest Dallas. Winnie has a lot of moments of not quite believing that Dallas is genuine in his interest, but finally allows herself to be happy, to have something she never thought she could have.
  • Setting – If you enjoy small town contemporary books, If It Makes You Happy needs to be on your TBR. Winnie’s summer visits to Misty Haven have become tradition and it isn’t just visiting her grandmother and Kara that draw her back to this place. From the cozy descriptions of Goldeen’s diner to the over-the-top small town traditions, Kann brings this world to life while also not ignoring how people in a small town like Misty Haven can often be hostile to someone who looks like Winnie.

  • Nothing to note.


Claire Kann delivers another sweet, heart-fluttering contemporary with her sophomore novel If It Makes You Happy. Winnie is the kind of character that will find a way into your heart from page one and I look forward to seeing what Kann has in store for us next.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

Snapshot (ARC) Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Title: Cemetery Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: September 1st 2020

TW: misgendering, transphobia, death of a parent, child abuse

      “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.”

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Yadriel – Yadriel is part of a brujx community, one that is often rigid in its practices. As a result, Yadiel, a trans teen, has never had his own quices ceremony in which he would pledge himself to Lady Death and serve her as a brujo. His mother was always supportive of him, but her passing left him feeling marooned. Yadriel, with the help of his cousin Maritza, defies his father, leader of the East LA brujx, and performs his own ceremony. Despite being acknowledged by Lady Death, Yadriel still isn’t sure it’s enough to prove to his father and the rest of the brujx community that he is a brujo. He’s the kind of character who sets up high expectations for himself in the name of proving others wrong when it’s his own inner doubts that he needs to overcome.

Julian – Most people’s first impression of Julian is that he’s a delinquent who is on a path to nowhere. When Yadriel accidentally summons Julian’s spirit, all he knows about him are the rumors. But it quickly becomes apparent that Julian is much more. He’s stubborn and obnoxious, but also perceptive and caring. He pushes Yadriel to see beyond the box he has put himself in. Julian’s first concern when learning he is dead are his friends, who are more like family to him. Many of whom are living on the streets because they do not have a safe place to go back to. The novel touches on houseless youth, the way they are perceived and the lack of concern shown by authorities when they go missing.

Trans character in a gender-based magical system – I love seeing more books with gender-based magical systems acknowledging those who are transgender and/or nonbinary. Cemetery Boys does such a wonderful job of centering a trans character and upholding their identity within the established system.

Latinx cultures mixed with magic – I am in love with the magical system in this book. Thomas incorporates a number of Latinx cultures in this brujx community which made me really happy to see. Yadriel himself is from a multicultural Latinx family. His mother’s family is Mexican and his father is Cuban. Yadriel is always surrounded by family, they are always in each other’s business and sometimes you just can’t escape them. There are always cousins, aunts, and uncles filling their house. I loved it.

The writing – It is so easy to fall in love with this book and one of the reasons is the writing. Thomas’s writing is so descriptive, I felt immediately transported to these places. There are no flat minor characters and appreciated that every detail we are given about them helped flesh them out.

The humor – One of my favorite things about Cemetery Boys is how much humor Thomas infuses into his characters. The unexpected snark from several of the characters had me laughing out loud throughout the novel. If it wasn’t Yadriel and Maritza snide remarks with one another then it was Julian and Yadriel’s snarky and often flirtatious exchanges, which I just ate up.

Nothing to note.

Aidan Thomas’s Cemetery Boys is a nearly flawless paranormal debut that celebrates Latinx cultures with characters who are an absolute delight. Crossing my fingers we get a sequel to this one sometime in the future.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

(5/5)

Snapshot Review: Jade City by Fonda Lee

Title: Jade City
Author: Fonda Lee
Series: The Green Bone Saga, #1
Pages: 498
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: November 7th 2017

      “Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
      Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
      When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
      Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.”

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      “Politics moved slowly and blades moved fast.”

  • World Building – Lee’s world is unique and intricate, combining magical elements in a more modern setting. The Janloon city is at the heart of the island of Kekon, where generations have mined for Jade which gives Kekonese people enhanced abilities. Clans have waged war, thrived during peaceful times, and endured many political coups. The Kaul family has ruled the No Peak Clan for generations.
  • Lan – As the eldest, Lan always knew he would be Pillar. The Kaul legacy weighs heavy on his shoulders. He knows that as a political leader, he cannot please everyone. There are those who think he is too soft and those who think his loyalty to his more reckless brother will cost the clan their standing in Kekon.
  • Hilo – Hilo is not an easy character to like. His actions are often impetuous, reactive to the situation in front of him rather than taking into account what the long-term consequences. Still, he is incredibly loyal, and not bogged down by his family’s personal prejudices.
  • Shae – At one time, Shae wanted to be an intricate player in No Peak clan, but she never felt that the men in power recognized everything she was capable of. She spent years away from Kekon, seeing what the world has to offer outside of her home country and while she loves her family, she doesn’t want to be pulled into their world again.
  • Anden – I have such a soft spot for this teen. He’s been training for years to join the clan, but every step of the way he’s had to deal with people whispering about his heritage. Even within the Kaul family, there are those who pity him and no matter how promising he is, who he was born to has greatly affected how he sees himself.
  • Siblings dynamics  – The novel focuses on the Kaul family. The eldest son, Lan is currently Pillar, their leader, his brother Hilo is Horn, the head of armed forces, Shae, their sister, who chose a different path than being an active figure in the family. There is also Anden, who was adopted into the family years ago. I could talk hours about the different dynamics between the Kaul siblings and their young cousin Anden. I loved how complicated these relationships were because it also functioned to flush out who they were individually. Lan and Hilo are very different but have been running the clan for years, they have each other’s backs, but know they will never be what the other is. While Lan and Shae have a more amicable relationship due to Lan’s caring nature, Shae and Hilo grew up more like rivals. I loved that their interactions are just as much a result of who they were as children as much as who they are as adults. Siblings sometimes they bring out the worst parts of you and adulthood doesn’t necessarily resolve conflicts you had as children.

Nothing to note.

Fonda Lee’s Jade City strikes that perfect balance of being both an action-packed and politically charged fantasy. Her characters are dynamic, the plot is fast-moving and gripping with gut-punching twists that will have you racing toward to end.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5)