Glimpsed by G.F. Miller | Author Interview & Book Review | Book Tour

Glimpsed by G.F. Miller | Author Interview & Book Review | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!
Look at me, posting regularly. We love to see it.

Today I bring you the review of one of the 2021 releases I was the most excited about. I’ve been drifting away from Young Adult, but every once in a while a book demands my attention and that was the case with this book. Now, without further ado, let me gush a little about Glimpsed.

Goodreads | Amazon Barnes & Noble | Indigo IndieBound

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

Perfect for fans of Geekerella and Jenn Bennett, this charming, sparkly rom-com follows a wish-granting teen forced to question if she’s really doing good—and if she has the power to make her own dreams come true.

Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.

But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?

Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?

Glimpse is the story of Charity, a fairy godmother that tries to help people in her life while also keeping up her grades, making sure her fairy tale origins are kept secret, being part of the cheerleading squad and asking Memom (her grandmother; literally the best) for more information about fairy godmothers. Being a fairy godmother in high school can be tiresome, but she pushes on because she’s doing good to her Cindies, helping them achieve what she “glimpses” as their deepest wish.

Nothing takes my mind off my own problems like working on someone else’s.

Apparently out of nowhere, though, Charity starts receiving some pretty weird messages that shows that someone seems to have found her secret. She’s a little scared, but decides to meet with the person sending the notes. After all, maybe a little nudge can send them away.

He looks cocky in a way unique to dorks –like he just leveled up in Dungeons & Dragons.

Enter Noah, science fiction expert and amateur detective. He has been trying to find an explanation to why his friend and crush had a 180° change out of nowhere and now acts like a completely different person. Searching for a pattern, he found one, and in the middle of that pattern, connected to every piece, stood something. Or better yet, someone. Noah affirms that the wishes Charity is granting are not as good as she thinks they are, but she doesn’t believe him. After all, how could having the thing you desire the most be something bad? Noah is just a love sick boy who got his heart crushed when the girl he liked didn’t like him back.

Right?

If you spend your life trying to protect yourself from getting hurt, you’ll end up missing the best parts. Some people are worth breaking your heart over.

Charity has to concede when she realizes the last wish she helped achieve had the completely opposite reaction that she expected. And when she starts looking at her previous Cindies closer, she realizes that maybe being a fairy godmother hasn’t been like she expected. But how can she stop doing something she was born to do? How can she go against her own nature to stop hurting more people?

What I liked

  • I loved the writing style in Glimpsed. It’s easy to read and flows naturally, making the reading quicker and fun. For some reason, it escaped me that this is the debut of the author until I sat down to read more information about her and I was surprised. This debut is amazing and I can’t wait to see what G.F. Miller writes next.
  • The character were my favorite part of the book. I wanted to be friends with Charity and Noah. I wanted to sit down and listen to Memom talk about fairy godmothers in history. I wanted to be invited to a night of nerdy extravaganza with Noah’s family. Miller has an amazing hand creating characters that feel real, people who you could find walking around. Which, if I’m honest, is a little worrisome, ’cause I don’t want a fairy godmother nudging me to do anything…
  • I mention this in my interview, but the dialogue was witty and fun to read. It’s also realistic, which is not always easy to get on paper.
  • I would literally die for Noah. I want to protect him from everything bad in this world, ok?

What I didn’t like

  • There were some themes that I feel deserved a little more time spent with them. However, when you finish the book you’re not left feeling like something is incomplete.

Glimpse was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and a fantastic way to start the year.

4.5/5

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As part of the Glimpsed Tour, I was able to chat a little with G.F. Miller about the inspiration behind Glimpsed, the amazing characters and ask a few questions about unknown Cindies. Read our conversation and get even more excited about this book!

Linda (L): How did you get the idea of writing about a teen fairy godmother in a contemporary world?

G.F. Miller (M): At one point in the book, the main character, Charity, says, “I’m a fixer, not a hugger.” Ever since at least high school, that’s been me, too. I mean, I *do* enjoy a good hug. But seriously, if there’s a problem, I would very much like to fix it. Even if it’s not my problem. It’s probably one of my most annoying characteristics. So it came pretty naturally to write a story about someone who felt it was legitimately her job to fix everybody’s stuff for them.

L: During the book, Charity discovers information from various mythologies and fairy tales to try to understand her job as a fairy godmother. What was the experience of connecting these things people know and creating a completely different approach to them?

M: All of those bits got added thanks to Jessica Smith, my editor at Simon & Schuster. She encouraged me to “lean hard into the fairy tale.” Because of that, Charity’s story was already pretty much fully formed when these backstory details got added. As I pondered Jessica’s questions and challenges about how fairy godmothers fit into a present-day California high school, I did exactly what Charity does in the book: I went to the depository of all knowledge on the planet and started fishing around for stories and commentary about fairies, fairy tales, and fairy godmothers. Then I picked out and wove together the pieces that fit with the story I wanted to tell. (Yeah, I know it’s cheating. But it worked, so I regret nothing.) I actually added the Rapunzel story during the last round of revisions, when Jessica challenged one word on that page. And it’s one of my favorite little gems in the book! So HOORAY for awesome editors and their magic fairy dust!

L: We go with Charity on a journey of self-discovery, discovering that sometimes she doesn’t completely understand other people’s wishes. At one point, she starts believing that being a fairy godmother might not be the best for other people. Do you think fairy godmothers do more bad than good? Would you consider accepting the help of one? 

M: I think that the fairy godmother in Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted got it right when she insisted that she must only ever do “small magic.” Big magic can have huge fallout. But all of us can use a little boost sometime—an encouraging pep talk, a bracing cup of tea & sympathy, the right shade of lipstick, someone by our side when we need to be brave… I think what Charity does right—in the midst of all she does wrong—is, she sees people’s potential and believes they are capable and worthy to achieve it. Who wouldn’t want a fairy godmother like that? For myself, I’d totally accept the help of a fairy godmother who could make my house always tidy and bookstagram-post ready. Come to think of it, there’s a good chance my fairy godmother is Marie Kondo. Marie, if you can hear me, please hurry…I need you!

L: I’ll confess something: I had never seen Star Trek before reading Glimpsed. I say had because once I finished, I ran to my laptop to see if any streaming service had it and binged a few episodes. I NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND THE REFERENCES! And, fyi, I regret nothing. What other SFF series/franchises does Noah like? What would he recommend to someone new to science fiction?

M: I love that you enjoyed the book without any background knowledge of Star Trek. That was my goal—so, #winning! And I love that it made you want to check it out J Noah and I are also HUGE fans of Firefly. If you’ve never seen it, you should definitely binge it right away! The series is short, and there’s a movie to wrap up all the storylines. It’s my (I mean Noah’s) favorite SFF thing ever made (thanks, Joss Whedon).

L: Memom had some pretty convincing stories of how fairy godmothers have been shaping stories and life for a long time. Is there any interesting story she couldn’t share in the book? Are there more fairy shenanigans we don’t know about? 

M: I asked Memom to weigh in on this one, and here’s what she told me: “There was a fella I went to high school with. Sweet kid. He was a freshman when I was a senior. Had a terrible stutter, couldn’t hardly get a word out. Then he flashed meyou know, showed me his deepest wish. I saw him in our school’s production of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to convince him to try out. But you know, once I got him on stage, he stopped stuttering. It was like a miracle. One of my favorite Cindies, that boy. He went on to star in all those Die Hard movies. And does he call? Does he write? But, you know, fairy godmothers never get much glory. That’s just how it is.”

L: I love the way you work with dialogue; it feels authentic and, honestly, had me chuckling and even laughing out loud more times than I could count. Any advice for aspiring authors on writing realistic, dynamic dialogue? 

M: Dialogue is my favorite thing to write, but it can be tricky because people rarely make clear statements. In conversations, we communicate with a huge combination of prior knowledge, assumptions, body language, tone of voice…but on the page, we only have the words. So as a writer, the goal is to find that sweet spot where the dialogue is effectively communicating important plot and character details but is also messy enough to feel real. I write out loud a lot. I talk to myself and try out dialogue until it’s exactly what I want. Then I give it to my critique group; they’re great at catching things that aren’t quite working.

L: Last but not least, what can we expect from you in the future? Are you writing something new you can share with us? 

M: I can’t share much because nothing is sold and it’s very much a work in progress. But I am writing away in my little hidey hole—I promise! I realize that if someone loves Glimpsed, then they’re going to pick up the next book trusting me to bring a similar experience. I don’t take that trust lightly. So anyway, friends, just know that I’m working on something that is fun and funny and swoony and a little magical. And I can’t wait to share it with you! You can subscribe to my occasional updates at gfmiller.com, follow me on Instagram @author.gfmiller, and/or follow me on Goodreads to get updates on book 2 as they become available.

About the Author

G.F. Miller can write 80,000-word novels, but ask her to sit down and write 250 true and meaningful words about herself and she is likely to have an existential crisis. Who am I, really? She ponders. What do I want to be known for? Does anyone even read the back flap or visit author websites?

But eventually she will pull herself together and tell you that…She married her college sweetheart and is mom to three littles who routinely make her heart burst and her head explode (it’s a messy business, love). There are puppies big and small residing at her house (you’ll be seeing a lot of them if you follow her on Instagram). She’s been to a dozen countries, but not nearly as many as she would like. She loves learning all the things. She cries at all the wrong times. She makes faces at herself in the mirror. She believes in the Oxford comma. And she’s always here for a dance party.

You can find more about the author on: Webside|Instagram|Goodreads|YouTube

Remember to add Glimpsed in Goodreads and grab a copy! It’s an incredibly fun read that will leave you with a smile on your face. Take a look at the rest of the incredible creative content in the tour here!

That’s it for today’s post. Tell me about a 2021 anticipated release you’re dying to get your hands on!

Take this as your daily reminder to drink some water, take a break and take care of yourself. THIS IS YOUR YEAR!

Besos,

Linda

2021 Reading Goals | TBR Game

2021 Reading Goals | TBR Game

¡Hola mi gente!

It’s almost been two weeks of 2021 and I’ve finally finished deciding what my Reading goals and challenges will be. My overall goal this year is to read 200 books. That sounds like a lot, but hopefully I’ll be able to organize myself so I can take some time to read during the semester.

Other than the 200 books goal, I have another challenge I’ve been doing for the last three years. I’m not a fan of TBRs, but each year I give myself some prompts as a way to create a TBR of sorts. This prompts are usually divided in four parts: specific, experiments, reading diversely and the year’s TBR game. So… let’s give them a look!

Specific TBR

I think the title speaks for itself, but the specific TBR consists of six books I really want to read in the year. Assigning them to a particular month stresses me out, so I just say I’ll read them at some point of 2021. These are the six books I plan to read this year:

Nocturna By Maya Montayne | A Book Review – Herminia

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

I’ve seen Vic and Cande gush about this book for too long. I need to read it and fall in love with it as well.

Slow Burn by Olivia Dade

(No cover yet) Olivia Dade became one of my favorite authors last year. And by that I mean I bought and read every single one of her books in a month and then gave her characters free rent on my mind. I love her writing style, her amazing fat protagonists and the people that love them. Her books are ones I wish I had earlier in my life. I couldn’t, but hey, they are here and I’ll completely enjoy them.

Slow Burn is the sequel to Spoiler Alert, which I LOVED (have I used that word too many times for one post? Probably), and its protagonist is one of my favorite characters in Spoiler Alert, so I’m doubly hyped for this.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

This is a book about a fat, Puerto Rican girl dealing with life.

I don’t think I need to say anything else. I want it, I need it. The cover is gorgeous, the title is amazing, what I’ve read of it is great. I can’t wait to sit down and read it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Deluxe Heirloom Edition (Pride and  Prej. and Zombies): Austen, Jane, Grahame-Smith, Seth, Parada, Roberto:  9781594744518: Amazon.com: Books

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

I have a post planned for Pride and Prejudice’s publication anniversary BUT I finally watched the movie adaptation for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and now I’m really looking forward to reading the book. I don’t know how much the movie deviated from the book, but from what I’ve read in reviews the book and the movie are like two completely different stories after the first few scenes, so I want to see how Grahame-Smith intertwined zombies with my favorite book of all time.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (A Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 1) (A Sal and  Gabi Novel, 1): Hernandez, Carlos: 9781368022828: Amazon.com: Books

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernández

I remember I got this book after watching a panel with Carlos Hernández. He talked about his inspiration writing this, the freedom MG gave him to create random, fantastical things in his story and a lot of amazing tips for authors and I just had to get his book. I want to fall in love with Middle Grade again and I think this is the right way to start.

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

This book has been in my shelf for an eternity. First I didn’t read it because I was missing the rest of the books and I have a (very stupid) tradition of buying or getting all the books in a series before starting it so I can binge it. I’m bad at waiting between books, so that helps me actually finish the series. The thing is… I have the rest of the books now and I haven’t read it yet. That ends this year.

I hope.

Experiments TBR

The experiments category has a few prompts that, unlike its name, remain the same each year. I use prompts instead of specific books to give myself the freedom to chose anything I want for each one. I don’t, however, use one book for more than one prompt, since I already make it easier for me to fit any book with them.

These are the prompts in this category:

  • Cover-buy
  • Randomly Selected
  • 2021 Release
  • Less than a week on my bookshelf
  • More than three years on my bookshelf
  • New (to me) Author
  • Law Essay

Reading Diversely TBR

This category changes every year because I like to make the prompts challenge me to read things I didn’t read as much in the previous year. I’m trying to read more books by Indigenous, Black and Latinx Authors in 2021, especially when it comes to fantasy and romance. Reading more fantasy itself will be an unwritten challenge, though, because I want to read more of it this year (last year I focused on Contemporary and Historical Fiction much more than anything else). Romance is the genre I read the most right now, but I want to make myself actively look for more books by BIPOC because I want to read about BIPOC being happy and loved.

These are my prompts for this category:

  • Young Adult by WOC
  • Feminist Non-fiction
  • Indigenous Fantasy
  • Indigenous Romance
  • Non-Regency Historical Romance
  • Poetry Book
  • Asian Author
  • Ace Rep
  • Fat Rep
  • Anthology
  • Middle Grade by WOC
  • Trans/Non-binary/Gender Non-conforming Author
  • Latinx Romance
  • Latinx Fantasy
  • Puerto Rican Author
  • Black Romance

TBR Game

For the last two years, I’ve played my TBR Game on a board based on Monopoly, changing the prompts and the cards each year. I had a lot of fun with it, but wanted to do something different in 2021 and not just change the prompts. This year I tried to make a board similar to LIFE, but not as long and without a specific ending.

The rules are fairly simple: throw two dice as many times as you want prompts for that month and select a book for each space where you fall. if you fall in one of the purple spaces, throw again. If you fall in START, fill that prompt with any book you want. I already played to get my prompts for January and I’m having a lot of fun with this new board.

And that’s it for today’s post! What are your 2021 Reading Goals? Do you use TBRs or just read whatever calls to you at the moment?

Besos,

Linda

2020 in Numbers – Year Wrap-Up

2020 in Numbers – Year Wrap-Up

¡Hola, mi gente!

After taking a small break from most social media for the last three weeks, I’m back to blogging and gushing about books.

I love numbers (a LOT), so seeing my stats for the year is one of my favorite things in the New Year. I’m not going to post about all the books I read this year because this post would be a hell of a lot longer, BUT! I want to share a little of the stats of my reading this year.

Overall, I think 2020 was a pretty good reading year. I wasn’t expecting to read as much as I did, but reading is my escape most of the time and I can see that it kept me afloat this year full of… everything.

I went back to a lot of my comfort reads this year, which you can see by how many times I read a Jane Austen book (spoiler alert: Pride and Prejudice takes at least a third of those). I was also very lucky in receiving a third of the books I read as gifts or review copies. I don’t take for granted the fact that I don’t need to use my money to buy everything I read (even more appreciated after seeing how much Law School textbooks cost haha) and I’m extremely thankful for all the authors that reached out to me in 2020.

I truly went to Romance to find escapism in 2020, huh? But hey, who can blame me for escaping from *glances around* and running to the arms of a Duke or a Rogue?

If you see that in some of the lists the numbers don’t add up, it’s because many times a book has more than one tag in a certain category.

I read a lot of short books last year. I’ll probably do the same during 2021. I find it easier to read shorter books during the semester, since they don’t take as much time out of my studies as reading something longer would do. Although I tend to read many books at the same time, when I’m studying I prefer to read one at a time and shorter books are better for that, too. I want to try reading some of my longer books this summer. We’ll see how that goes.

2020 is the year with my lowest overall rating in 6 years, but I see this as a good thing. I’ve become more selective when deciding what I want to read and how I rate it because I’ve found things I feel strongly about in stories. Also, I don’t think 3.57 is necessarily a bad average; while that means that I didn’t find many new favorites, it also means that I enjoyed most of what I read.

2020, or the year I said “Bye” to Young Adult.

Well, maybe not as dramatic as that, but this is the first year I’ve read more adult than YA. Not only that, but almost 8 out of every 10 books I read were marketed towards adults, which sounds extreme considering that in 2019 only 23% of the books I read were Adult.

I’m ashamed of this. I want to read more in my native language and enjoy more literature written in Spanish. I have a few books I’m dying to read in 2021, like the Marabilia series by Iria G. Parente & Selene M. Pascual, so I’m hoping to balance those numbers a little.

Audiobooks helped me read a LOT last year. My migraines have been getting worse and the stress of 2020 only highlighted that. When I can’t even stand the smallest light in my room, audiobooks have given me something to concentrate until the migraine subsides. Also, since I reorganize things when I’m too anxious, audiobooks were my constant companion throughout 2020.

I expected there to be a higher number of short fiction, if I’m honest, but I’m not complaining.

I’m also happy because some of those graphic novels are manga read in their original language. I challenged myself to learn Japanese and it’s been going pretty good for now. Hoping to continue learning more in 2021!

I’m pretty sure this has been the year I’ve read the most recent releases. Usually I wait for a year or two between publication and buying the book, but there were too many great releases in 2020 to wait. However, I’m trying to lower my TBR from past years, so there’s a big chunk of books released during the last decade here.

One of my reading goals of 2021 is reading more books with and by Indigenous and Black authors. Overall I’m happy with my reading, but I want to be more conscious about what I read and make that percentage higher in future years.

If I’m honest, most of those translated works are manga volumes, haha.

Like I said earlier, my goal is to read more books written by Indigenous and Black authors in 2021. I also want to read more Asian and Latinx fantasy, since I’ve been focusing a lot on contemporary reads and haven’t picked many things outside of my comfort zone.

And that’s it for today’s post! 2020 was a hard year for many of us, but I’m looking forward to a year that (I hope) will be better, both emotionally and mentally, for all of us.

How was your reading in 2020? Remember that even reading 1 book in the middle of the chaos that was 2020 was a victory.

Besos,

Linda

the evermore book tag -inspired by taylor swift’s album-

the evermore book tag -inspired by taylor swift’s album-

¡Hola, mi gente!

Please tell me I was not the only one who SCREAMED when Taylor Swift’s message about evermore popped into my notifications. Taylor has been blessing us non-stop this year and I’m living for each and every single thing she’s doing. I expected her next released album to be one of her re-recordings, but never imagined a whole new album dropping before the year was over.

AND WHAT AN ALBUM IT IS!

I’m still unsure about which album has my favorite songs, folklore or evermore, but God, do I want to listen to both on repeat (which I have. A million times. Or as many million times as I can in the hours since it released). I’ve been liking the album so much that I decided to try making a book tag for the first time in a long time. And maybe doodle a little. Might have recorded a cover as well.

Is it obvious I’m obsessed?

Before starting the tag, I would like to link to this thread of petitions of people fighting for freedom in the face of death penalties. Signing them takes less than a minute and you’re helping someone get closer to justice. Shealea is still taking donations to help PH typhoon victims; consider donating anything you can. A $1 makes a huge difference for a hungry family!

Without further ado, here’s the evermore book tag!

willow – an atmospheric, ethereal read

Review - Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore • NovelKnight Book Reviews

As soon as the music video started, I knew I would love willow. And, to no-one’s surprise, it’s stayed in my Top 5 during these first streamings of the album. There’s just something magical about the lyrics and music in this song that makes me feel like I’ve traveled across time and universes. Paired with the music video, this song has been giving me story ideas the whole day.

I could put any Anna-Marie McLemore book here because, let’s get real, their writing is one of the most magical things one can read. HOWEVER, since I might or might not have this… obsession… with recommending Blanca & Roja, I decided to go with one of the latest books by them I’ve read: Wild Beauty. YES! After saying I would read it and failing to do so at least a dozen times this year alone, I finally sat down and read Wild Beauty. And yes, it destroyed me, just like I thought it would. However, what I want to highlight here is McLemore’s writing: their writing takes you to a completely different world and has you walking through luscious gardens full of secrets.

champagne problems – a book where the protagonist didn’t end with the partner you expected/an ending you didn’t see coming

champagne problems gave me chills the first time I heard it. Listening to it again didn’t diminish it’s emotional power over me; I can’t get enough of that haunting piano and the heartbreaking story Taylor narrates in this song.

I’m not going to say much about this book because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but the ending of Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova had me audibly gasping. I was shocked, I was thrilled, I was appalled; I felt a million things at the same time. The sequel is coming next year and I need answers NOW.

gold rush – an angsty story/book that intimidates you because of how popular it is

Skip·Beat!, (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 14 | Book by Yoshiki Nakamura | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

gold rush is all about the ANGST and the YEARNING and, honestly? I’m here for it. The dream-like intro and outro, the 70’s pop influence… I just love this song so much.

If we’re going to talk about angst, we need to mention Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura. This is literally the mother of all slow-burns. I’m here like 50 volumes later STILL WAITING FOR MY HEA. I’ve been reading this manga since I was in 7th grade. For context, I’m in my first year of Law School. I DESERVE MY HEA ALREADY. Skip Beat is probably what fed my love for slow-burn and angst before I knew the words that described this LONGING FOR A SHIP TO SAIL ALREADY, FGS.

’tis the damn season – a holiday story

Mangos and Mistletoe Final (1)

We got out Christmas gift early this year in the shape of another angsty narrative song about past lovers that know there’s no future for them. In an alternate universe, Jane Austen would be listening to this song while writing a Persuasion version with no HEA. Also, there’s something therapeutic about hearing Taylor Swift swear. Don’t ask me what, don’t ask me why. It just does.

For ’tis the damn season, I’m going with Mangos & Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera. This was one of my reads for the Latinx Book Bingo this year and I loved every second of it. In this story, we follow two dominicanas that enter the Holiday Baking Challenge as they create delicious food, explore a little of Scotland, and… fall in love? The descriptions of the desserts that Sully and Kiskeya did for the competition had me salivating. This was my first read by Adriana Herrera and I automatically got a few of her other works. Really looking forward to reading more by her.

tolerate it – a recent read that left you disappointed

My Favorite Half-night Stand: Library Edition: Lauren, Christina,  Thibodeaux, Shayna, Lee, Deacon: 9781508260424: Amazon.com: Books

Taylor continues her tradition of breaking my heart with track 5. tolerate it is a song that speaks about feeling like you’re putting everything you have into a relationship and receiving only indifference.

I decided to read My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren after finishing The Unhoneymooners, which has been one of my favorite romances this year. My Favorite Half-Night Stand failed to make me feel even half of what I felt with The Unhoneymooners. None of the characters acted in a way that made sense. I found myself almost screaming at the book every time anyone took a stupid decision. While not everything about the book was bad –the writing is as compelling as it is in The Unhoneymooners–, romance books are mostly character driven and, considering I couldn’t stand around 80% of the cast, I ended up having a hard time finishing the book.

no body, no crime – a story that had you guessing at every turn

potential alternative title: be gay, do crime

Silverville - Nocturna Ediciones

This is hands down my favorite song of the album. The music, the lyrics, the VIBES. I’m at least 97% sure this one’s for the sapphics. no body, no crime has become one of my favorite narrative songs by Taylor. This murder country song is easily the one that brings a clear scene to my mind while listening to it.

The first time I heard this song, Silverville by Victoria Álvarez came to my mind. The story of the heiress of the property of one of the richest families in the town that starts making noise in this apparently calm place? Death, betrayal, family secrets, love… this book has everything. I still remember reading this book in my flat in Madrid and screaming at some of the scenes. When I met Victoria, I hadn’t finished the book and, when she opened it to sign it, she saw my bookmark and, with the most ominous smile ever, she said “Prepárate para lo que viene”. And boi. I really should have. This book was one of my favorites from 2018 and, if you like twisty stories where you don’t know who or what to trust, I recommend it a thousand times.

happiness – a book you used to love but have let go as time goes by

Redeeming Love: Rivers, Francine: 9781590525135: Amazon.com: Books

happiness marks the first time I cried while listening to evermore. This song is about a relationship that started well, but with time became a toxic place where both partners hurt each other. Over a deceptively sweet piano melody, Taylor sings about the destruction, hurt and pain that the relationship created near the end of it. In the end, though, the song is not only about the hurt, but about remembering that there once were good times and there are good times in the future, if not in that relationship.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a story I was obsessed with when I was in elementary/middle school. It’s probably what sparked my love for historical romance. In recent years, though, I’ve been unable to go back to it as much as I used to do. Nothing bad happened for this, but I just haven’t read it in a decade and don’t know how I would feel about it now. Maybe I’ll reread at some point, but right now I remember the good times I had reading it and look forward to reading other stories.

dorothea – a second chance romance/a book about someone that wants something they can’t have

The Bromance Book Club: Adams, Lyssa Kay: 9781984806093: Amazon.com: Books

Listen folks, if this whole album is about the angst, dorothea is all about the longing. In just a little under four minutes, Taylor gives childhood crushes their theme song.

This song brought to mind The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. This was a fun, quick read about a guy that joins a romance book club in which men read romance books to try to understand what their partner want from them. It had a slightly rocky start, but by the end I was sold. I’m not usually a fan of second chance romances, but this book made me rethink that. Of course, it helped that the book the club decides to read to help the protagonist is a Regency romance and it felt like getting two books in one.

coney island – a book that destroyed you

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

This song somehow feels nostalgic. Me dio un apretón al corazón, like they say. By the end of my second time listening to it, I was crying. That second verse starting with “[t]he question pounds my head/ what’s a lifetime of achievement?/If I push you to the edge/ but you were too polite to leave me”? Devastating. But there lies the beauty of this song: it’s hauntingly tragic because it feels eerily familiar.

Does it count if I put a textbook as the answer to this question?

I’ll be honest with you: I cry with almost anything. But the last book that I felt extremely emotionally connected to was Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera. Just like coney island, Never Look Back felt familiar. The story of Eurydice and Orpheo has been told in countless ways, but this take on the story broke me. Eury’s memories of Hurricane María and all the destruction it left in the island took me back to those four months with no electricity or water. By the end of this book, I had ugly-cried at least twice. So, of course, y’all should read it and suffer (but really, enjoy Rivera’s gorgeous prose) as much as I did.

ivy – a secondary character you ended up liking more than the MCs

Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa – Writing ...

Continuing the trend of deceptively happy songs, Taylor sings about a woman falling in love with someone who’s not her husband. I really like the arrangement of this song; it’s the first one I learned the lyrics to because of that.

For ivy, I decided to go back to one of my favorite trilogies. I can’t believe it’s been more than six years since I read the Blood of Eden books by Julie Kagawa for the first time. I’ve reread them a few times since them and they remain my favorite vampire YA series. And, as time goes on, I find myself missing Jackal a LOT. He’s such a fun character to have around. His sarcastic comments and his unpredictable nature had me feeling things back then that I didn’t know how to describe. I can now: I was simping. Generally, Julie Kagawa writes some of my favorite secondary characters (hi there, Grimalkin. I swear I still love you), but Jackal is the one that has stayed the most present with me.

cowboy like me – a book that became an unexpected favorite

This is a comment I’ve made in half the songs, but oml, the angst in this song SKYROCKETED. cowboy like me feels like a re-visit to Taylor’s debut album. It has similar guitar cords and vibes while keeping the feeling of maturity and growth lacking in those earlier songs. And I love it.

This has been a year for discovering books I like with tropes I don’t usually enjoy. A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole was one of those. I have something against royals in my romance books. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there.

Or should I say, was there, because Alyssa Cole has converted me. Reading the story of Naledi and Prince Thabiso had me swooning. They had a rocky start, but they rised above that and found their HEA. It’s also great to see black women being happy and loved in books. All-around, this book gave me the characters, the plot, and the FEELS. After reading this book, I binged the rest of the Reluctant Royals series and other Alyssa Cole books. I can’t wait to read what she comes with next!

long story short – a book that helped/helps you through hard times

Pride And Prejudice (Reissue) by Jane Austen - Penguin Books Australia

This has got to be the most fun song in the whole album. I have such a great time every time it starts playing. My dogs have looked me with funny expressions each time they catch me weirdly dancing to it. And why not? long story short celebrates that, while there might be many hard things in the road to a certain place, you will find someone who will help you see the brightness in life again, be it a partner, a friend, your found family or yourself.

It will surprise no one that I chose Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for this song. Pride and Prejudice, both the book and the million adaptations out there, are my go to whenever I’m feeling down. There’s something that brightens my day in the familiar tale of hate-to-love of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I unironically enjoy most of the adaptations of the story I’ve seen, no matter how cringe-worthy they are.

marjorie – a book that made you want to be better/a book you haven’t been able to get out of your head

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: N.K. Jemisin: 9781611291384: Amazon.com:  Books

I feel like this song is the one that holds one of the strongest emotional punches of the album. Written in memory of her grandmother, Taylor doesn’t hesitate to touch themes like death, remembrance and the lost of someone that leaves a mark in our lives.

Ever since I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, it’s lived rent-free in my head. With a world full of unreliable deities, sceneries that jump from the pages and a writing style that glued me to the page, this was my introduction to Jemisin’s books and it’s remained my favorite after reading most of her published work. I’m full of child-like wonder each time I open it’s pages, even though I know what’s going to happen. I hope to someday write a story that makes people feel as mesmerized as Jemisin’s stories make me feel.

closure – a series that you didn’t finish because you lost interest half way through

I think closure has one of the most interesting sounds of the album. I don’t really know how to describe it, but there’s something special about it. As one of the few songs in the album with fast-pacing, closure hides a torrent of anger and exhaustion under what feels like a fun, happy melody. It reminds me of the expectation that society sometimes puts on us to “get over” something in a certain time period, erasing our right to be angry, sad or disappointed at it.

For this song, I wanted to look for something that has made me feel like the song, like I’ve been expected to like or finish a series but I refuse to do so. In this, I discovered that there are at least fifty series I’m not thinking of finishing, either because I lost interest or because I learned some problematic things about their author(s) and have decided to stop supporting them. Most of them have to do with problematic behavior, though, and I don’t want to talk at lenght about any of them. No need to give them free promo. To name a few, The Maze Runner, Throne of Glass, Slated, Harry Potter, The 5th Wave, Cassandra Clare’s one hundred series…

evermore – mental illness rep

Untouchable by Talia Hibbert: a black woman in a white dress and a tattooed, pierced white man hold each other close against a backdrop of blue skies and white tulips.

The first time I listened to evermore, I didn’t really like it. It wasn’t until I started listening to the song for the second time that it hit me HARD. Now it’s one of my Top 5 songs of the album. I love the way Bon Iver and Taylor Swift complement each other’s voices. I also appreciated the way the song tackles depression and its effects. I feel like I’ve said this with almost every sing, but the lyrics in evermore are great, too. The whole album overall has amazing lyrics, if I’m honest.

Untouchable by Talia Hibbert is a book I read recently as I tried to give myself a break from thinking in legalese. The story of Hannah and Nate was beautiful. Nate is a widower with two sweet kids that moves back to Ravenswood when his mother is diagnosed with cancer. He’s trying to balance helping his mother, raising his kids alone, and moving back to the town he felt trapped in for a long time. In comes Hannah, who starts working as the stay-home nanny for his children. But Hannah and Nate are not strangers; in fact, someone could even say they were each other’s childhood crush. While this story is sweet in some moments, there’s a focus on how mental illness can make trusting other people and letting them in difficult. Hibbert portrays mental illness both respectfully and accurately. And, what’s more important: doesn’t make love the “cure” for any of it. Trigger warnings for depression and anxiety in case you decide to read it.

So that’s it for the tag! I had a lot of fun doing this and getting away from my classes for a moment.

Have you chosen your Top 5 in evermore? Let me know in the comments! Remember to drink some water and pat yourself on the back. We survived this year! There’s only a few weeks left. Let’s finish with a bang.

Besos,

Linda

The Tigers in the Tower by Julia Golding| Book Review

The Tigers in the Tower by Julia Golding| Book Review

¡Hola, mi gente!

Late post today, but I hope you’re all safe and healthy. I’ve been struggling this last week; I think my body is telling me that I need a break. Finals are just around the corner and it seems as if everything is just chaotic right now, so it’s hard, but reading a little every few days has helped with the stress. That’s probably one of the reasons why today’s book became a much needed escape from reality, cases and everything in between.

THE TIGERS IN THE TOWER BY JULIA GOLDING

Genres: Middle grade, fantasy, adventure

Trigger Warnings: racism, xenophobia, bullying, children abuse, animal abuse

“A Little Princess – with tigers! Orphan and outcast Sahira Clive is a brave and plucky heroine with a brightly burning heart. I was rooting for her all the way to the end of this thrilling – and thought-provoking – adventure.”Ally Sherrick, award-winning author of Black Powder

Sahira’s family are travelling to England to deliver two majestic Indian tigers to the menagerie in the tower of London.

But tragedy strikes and sickness steals Sahira’s parents from her on the journey. Left alone in London, Sarhira finds herself confined to a miserable and dangerous orphanage. Despite her heartache and the threats she faces, Sahira is determined to carry out her father’s last request – to protect God’s beautiful creatures: her tigers. To do so, Sahira must set out on an adventure and use all her powers of persuasion to engage the help of some new friends along the way.

Can the quest to find her tigers a safe home, lead Sahira to find her own place of hope and belonging in this strange and foreign land?

I’ve been watching a lot of Alfonso Cuarón’s work recently. One of my last classes before graduating was about cinema and literature and his work was the focus of one the biggest projects for the class. So when I read about this book that promised to be similar to A Little Princess, I was intrigued.

“Sahira knew only too well how they felt. Fitting in with this new London life felt a little like sloughing off her old ways, revealing a new and vulnerable skin.”

The Tigers in the Tower is the story of Sahira, a girl who loses her family when they embark on a journey that would take them to England. Alone in an unknown country, she decides to find a way to make her parent’s last wish come true: make sure Rama and Sita, the two Indian tigers traveling with them, are taken care of and looked after.

“I’ve travelled to place they’ve never been, faced down threats they can’t imagine. They haven’t met anyone like me before.“

In order to do so, Samira goes on a fantastical adventure around London, discovering friends and allies in the most unexpected places.

THINGS I LIKED

  • Samira is an amazing character. She’s kind, smart, brave, and resilient. She didn’t have any doubts when it came to defending her identity, her hopes, and who she is. It doesn’t matter if the person reading it is a child, a teen, or an adult: the message of being true to yourself is one that resonates deep inside us, especially in a world that tries so much to erase our identities.
  • Animals, animals, animals. It was obvious through the page that Samira loved animals with passion and knew how to take care of them. I loved the scenes with Rama and Sita a lot, and the way Golding described them was magical. I’ve always liked when stories have animal characters, so it was great to read about them.
  • The writing style is easy to follow and fun to read.
  • The Tigers in the Tower tackles a lot of social issues in a way that’s both respectful and serious. The book touches bullying, racism, xenophobia and abuse, but it never deals with these topics in a patronizing way. And, even more importantly, the story didn’t let our protagonist be only miserable. Even in the middle of the suffering, Samira could find people that cared for her and became her friends.

I can’t speak about the representation in the book, so I recommend checking Debjani’s review here. There are many other reviews you can read in the tour schedule, too!

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE

  • The pacing could become erratic at times. Some things took a few chapters when they could’ve been resolved faster, while in other occasions the scene was done in a few paragraphs and left me wanting just a tiny bit more of it.
  • As much as I appreciated the overall message of the book, I think some of the racism and xenophobia deserved a little more nuance.
  • The ending wasn’t my favorite, but I still enjoyed seeing Samira’s adventures come to a closure in this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It reminded me why I like middle grade and now I’m very excited about picking some books from my TBR that have been waiting for me for a long time.

Julia Golding is a multi-award winning writer for adults and young adults. She also writes under the pen names of Joss Stirling and Eve Edwards. Born in 1969, she grew up near Epping Forest. She studied English at Cambridge University, then joined the Foreign Office and worked in Poland, before returning to Oxford University to study for a doctorate in literature of the romantic period.  She worked for Oxfam, lobbying on conflict issues, before becoming a full-time writer. Over three-quarter of a million of her books have been sold worldwide in many language

Website Twitter YouTubeFacebook Goodreads

Stay safe. Drink water. Give yourself a break. Let’s recharge tomorrow and start the new week with strenght.

Besos,

Linda

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You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson | Book Review | Book Tour

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson | Book Review | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!

I’ve been failing at blogging lately, not really around here as much as I wish. But today I’m really excited to bring you a post for a book I loved deeply and filled me with happiness in the middle of these chaotic times we’ve been living.

GOODREADSAMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | BOOKSHOP.ORG

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Content Warnings: homophobia, racism, anxiety, panic attacks, chronic illness, outing

LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL BLACK GIRL SMILING IN THE COVER!!!

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

In You Should See Me in a Crown we follow Liz Lighty, a Black queer girl with anxiety in love with music. Her dream is to get into Pennington, the place where all her hopes seem to be possible. There’s a problem: she’s poor and the money she was counting on for her studies suddenly evaporates in front of her eyes.

“I never needed this race or a hashtag or a king go be a queen. I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.”

That’s when an idea makes its way into her plans: run for prom queen and win the scholarship awarded to the winner. Liz is skeptical about winning, but it’s her only chance to get the money she needs and she refuses to give up without trying. Campbell has never had a Black prom queen, let alone a Black queer prom queen. Is Liz prepared to be its new queen? She’s not sure, but she’s fighting to show she is. As Liz finds her way to prom royalty, this question changes. It’s no longer a quest trying to see whether Liz is prepared to rule prom, but whether Campbell will even let her have a chance.

And Liz won’t take no for an answer.

THING I LIKED

Liz is my little baby and I’ll protect her against EVERYTHING OK?
  • Liz is SUCH AN AMAZING CHARACTER. I was rooting for her in each and every page of the book. I loved seeing her grow from the shy Liz in the first chapters to strong, bold and confident girl. She refuses to settle down for something less than what she dreams for. She grabs her opportunity to make things happen, even if it means facing things that put her completely out of her comfort zone. I’m so happy that Black girls have in Liz such an amazing character to relate to.
  • I loved the importance of family and friends in the story. Their dynamics are realistic. Through broken friendships, messy make-ups and imperfect family members, You Should See Me in a Crown shows how important having a supportive family and friends that stick with you no matter what is. It also shows how, as important as it is to take of others, it’s also important to accept that there are moments when you need to let others take care of you and that’s ok. You don’t need to be strong all the time.
  • The depiction of anxiety in this book was both respectful and realistic. Anxiety doesn’t have a magical solution; it’s something we live with everyday and the book shows that. It also shows how a we can find strength and healthy ways to deal with panic attacks and I feel like it’s extremely important to show that in YA books.
  • This book deals with many hard topics, but it doesn’t let this harsh reality obscure the cuteness in the story. And when I say cuteness, I MEAN IT. Liz’s story is a celebration to Black queer joy. Seeing Liz fall for Mack had me smiling like an idiot. It was so heartwarming and fun and SO SO SO cute.
  • Leah Johnson’s writing is beautiful and compelling. I read this in one sitting and listened to the audiobook in one sitting as well. If you’re able to read it in both formats, I 100% recommend you to do it. The narration for this book is amazing, but as I read it in print I came to appreciate how well the writing flows. At the end of my reread, there were so many quotes that felt like they deserved to be framed and put somewhere everyone can see them. This book ended up with over 50 post its. Since I don’t want to transcribe the whole book (and, you know, that ain’t legal), here are some of the quotes that live rent-free in my head.

“Silence and shame aren’t the same thing – not by a longshot. But sometimes silence is simpler.”

“Music is something I understand— the notes are a thing I can always bend to my will“

“Terrible people aren’t always the ones doing something wrong. Good people mess up too, but that doesn’t mean we should let it slide.”

“She doesn’t understand that the stakes are always higher for me, that I don’t get the option of not being in control.”

I wanted to dedicate a small part of this review to this quote. Growing up Black in a society that expects you to fail affects the way we see the world forever. Only recently have I seen that my constant need to be in control of how I present myself, how I would look to others, how I spoke and how well I do are rooted in this need to be the acceptable Black. If I’m in control of everything, there’s no way they’ll find fault in me… right? is something that has ruled my actions for pretty much the first two decades of my life. Reading a character that looks like me struggling as I did made me cry (y’all shouldn’t be surprised by now. I cry with everything). I wish Black teens didn’t need to feel this pressure to be acceptable to others.

  • The audiobook is amazing. I know I already said this, but I can’t recommend the audiobook enough. They chose the perfect narrator for this story. Alaska Jackson did an amazing job at letting us feel Liz’s emotions through her voice and she managed to make each character distinct and unique.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE

  • The only thing I didn’t like has nothing to do with the story, but with the audiobook. There are some moments when there’s music in the background of the narration. This is a nice touch, but since I speed up audiobooks, it sounded loud and distorted. If you don’t listen to audiobooks in 1x-1.5x speeds, this might make it difficult to understand the first few words in sections with music. Other than that, I had no problem with neither story nor format.

Overall, You Should See Me in a Crown was a heartwarming, inspiring read that made me smile A LOT. Black girls deserve to be happy, Black girls deserve to be celebrated. This book gave me Black queer joy in the middle of some very tense days and I absolutely love it for that.

4.5/5★

Thank you to Scholastic Press and Hear Our Voices Book Tours for letting be part of this tour. Take a look at the rest of the reviews and creative posts here

Leah Johnson (she/her) is an editor, educator, and author of books for young adults. Leah is a 2021 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow whose work has been published in BuzzFeed, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, and Autostraddle among others. Her bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown was the inaugural Reese’s Book Club YA pick, and was named one of Cosmo‘s 15 Best Young Adult Books of 2020. Her sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2021.

And that’s it for today’s post! Have you read You Should See Me in a Crown?

Stay safe. Drink water. Give yourself a break. Celebrate small victories. This year hasn’t been easy, but you got this.

Besos,

Linda

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore | Book Review | Book Tour

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore | Book Review | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!

I hope y’all are staying hydrated and safe! I’m so happy that Latinx Heritage Month started. I mean, if Miss Meteor is a forecast of what I’ll be reading this month, I’m in for one of my best reading month this year.

I absolutely adored this book -this review is more of a gush than anything else. I’m also really excited for everyone to see my version of Lita (scroll aaaall the way down to see it). I had so much fun drawing her. I truly I’m getting addicted to Procreate.

Y ya, sin más preámbulo, my Miss Meteor review!

Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Romance

Content Warnings: bullying, xenophobia, homophobic comments, transphobic comments (all challenged in the story)

“There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteoris acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.”

The story takes place in Meteor, New Mexico, a town that received it’s name thanks to a meteorite that crashed in the desert. In this town, there are two events that give the people a needed boost in tourism: the cornhole tournament and the Miss Meteor pageant. This year, for the 50th Miss Meteor pageant and with the need to keep the cornhole tournament cup in the town, everyone is looking forward, for one thing or another, to the next drew weeks.

I may be made out of the same dust and glow as the lights in the sky, but if you read any of the astronomy books in the library—even our little library—you’ll realize, isn’t everyone?

We follow Lita, a girl made of stardust, and Chicky, her ex-best friend and school’s outcast, as they decide to join the Miss Meteor pageant. Each of them have their reasons: Lita wants to do something she’s always wanted to do before the sky takes her back. Chicky wants to get back at the people who have hurt her, her family and friends.

In a town this small, for girls like us, survival is based mostly on how well you can camouflage, not on dredging up the bloodred and sunshine yellow of your secrets and splattering them across your chest.

I don’t even know how to say how much I loved this book. It touched very important topics while giving us a sweet story about friendship, family, love, and self-confidence.

THINGS I LIKED

  • Is it ok if I just say EVERYTHING? No?
  • There are such great reps in this book I almost cried. The trans rep was casual and respectful and I might want to give Cole the biggest hug ever [I will protect him from anyone that DARES try to hurt him, I swear]. The pansexual rep DID make me cry at some point.
  • I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there are not one but TWO friends to lovers relationships in this book and I loved both. For those of you that don’t know my reading taste, I usually dislike anything with friends to lovers (idk why, it just happens). Leave it to Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Key Mejia to make me rethink my ways. I’ve been changed.
  • I loved both protagonists SO MUCH and I would fight for them. Lita is struggling with her image, her sense of self and where she belongs. I loved going with her through her journey and seeing her blossom into someone stronger, more confident and happy. On the other hand, Chicky is struggling with her sexuality, her place in her family and the town, and being herself. She’s been hurt for a long time and is afraid of showing any part of herself to anyone. Seeing her heal and grow as the story went was beautiful and it made shed a tear or two (ok, a river, but!). I was so happy for both of them at the end of the book. I wanted a little more of them, to see them find more of their happiness, but I’m happy with what we got and, as stated before, I WILL FITE ANYONE FOR THEM.
  • THE WRITING. Sometimes I’m a little wary about books written by two authors because, more often than not, the writing falls into one of two categories: books where you can point out the parts and scenes that each author wrote or books where the writing feels clunky and weird. Alas, I’ve been changed again by McLemore and Mejia. I was glued to the book from beginning to ending. The writing style of both authors are beautifully woven together and made the story even better.
  • THE FOOD. Mira mi gente, necesito mencionar esto. I had to stop reading at some points to get snacks because this book made me so. damn. hungry. It’s part of the celebration of both identity and community: any Latinx person has felt the importance of food in our culture. And yes, my list of dishes-I-need-to-try-without-burning-the-house-down has grown by at least 10 items.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE

  • I have nothing, other than I wanted the book to be longer, but that’s really a hidden pro that speaks about how much I liked the story and didn’t want it to end.

Overall, Miss Meteor is a beautifully written story about learning to accept yourself and showing the world who you are, who you love, and what you believe. I need EVERYONE to read this. The story is amazing, the writing is amazing, the characters are amazing… everything is amazing! It’s the first book that has made me feel like this in a while and I’m so glad I got to read it.

5/5 SHINING STARS

FANART

I promised that if I got an iPad and an Apple Pencil I would make fanart for as many Latinx book I read as possible and I’m not going back on my promise. My skills are still a little rusty because it’s been a LONG time since I sat down to actually draw, but I’m really happy with how Lita turned out. She deserves the world and for all Meteor to see that she shines, not because of the start dust that makes her, but because of who she is. I hope you like her as much as I did.

Lita in all her glory being the Miss Meteor she was made to be.

And that’s it for this review, folks! Have you read Miss Meteor? Are you planning to? Miss Meteor comes out on September 22 (just three days away!) and you are still in time to preorder it here today!

Besos,

Linda

Always Human by Ari North | Book Review + Cover Recreation | Book Tour

Always Human by Ari North | Book Review + Cover Recreation | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!

Today I bring you the review of a graphic novel that stole my heart with it’s beautiful artwork and likeable characters.

Add to GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble  | Bookshop.org | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Always Human takes place in a world where you can use mods to change your appearance, enhance your health, or help you focus. But those are just a few of the possibilities mods give you. There are mods for curing allergies (I’m kinda needing this one now that September is here), mods for staying energized (again… need) and literally anything you can imagine. That’s the main reason Sunati is interested in Austen: in a world where everyone is constantly changing how they look, Sunati is a constant.

What Sunati doesn’t know is that Austen has an important reason for not using mods: she has a rare condition that makes her body reject mods. After a very awkward first conversation, Sunati asks Austen on a date. From then, we follow both of then as they go to the beginnings of their relationship, family situations and emotional conflicts. Although the focus of the story is the love story between Sunati and Austen, we also see them struggle at work and school, interact with their friends and work to make their dreams happen.

Things I liked

  • I really enjoyed the characters in Always Human. I kinda want to make a pun about how the character always feel human finger guns but I’ll keep myself from that. Instead, I’ll point out that the characters are not only gorgeously design, but they carry a realness to them that made the story more enjoyable. I’ll mention a little about this in my dislikes, but even the character I didn’t like as much felt real, and that’s something that really shows how human Ari North made her characters feel with a few lines.
  • RAE. I freaking loved Rae. She’s such a good best friend to Sunati, and every time she appeared on the story I fell a little more in love with her. She’s also incredibly smart and driven: she knows what she wants and is trying her best to achieve it. I want to protect her from the world.
  • The art style is STUNNING. North’s skill with watercolor is fantastic. There are scenes where I stopped myself and stared at the pages for what felt like ages. Scenes where you could see the sky were my favorite: the space looked huge, colorful, and alive. Speaking of colors, the colors in the whole book pop out of the scenes. I can’t stress how GORGEOUS the art style is.
  • The pages flew as I read this book! And when the first volume was over, I had to run to WebToon to read the rest of the story.
  • The queer representation in the book was sweet and respectful. We have aroace, non-binary, sapphic, bisexual, poly and agender rep in this book and in no way does it ever feel thrown out of nowhere or added as a last thought. It’s obvious North tried their best to be as inclusive as they could and I’m really happy about that.

Things I didn’t like

  • The pacing is not for everyone. While it didn’t make me enjoy the story any less, the pacing of the story is very fast. If you don’t like stories that move quickly, you might not enjoy Always Human as much.
  • Austen kinda stressed me out at some parts of the story, not gonna lie. Her character grows as the story progresses, but I was still frustrated by her for a big chunk of the story. I do have to give kudos to North, though, because even when I disliked Austen, the portrayal of her character felt realistic.

3.75/5★

Cover Recreation

The art style of Always Human is so pretty that I wanted to try drawing some part of it. After much thinking, I tried to recreate the cover on my own style. My original plan was to practice using Procreate with the Apple Pencil before doing this, but… the Pencil hasn’t arrived. So… yeah.

This is my first Procreate drawing and I think it came pretty well, considering I had to do it without a stylus (PS drawing with fingers is the most frustrating thing 0/10 would not recommend). I can’t wait to use the app more and be able to recreate other covers of my favorite books.

My lines need a lot of work, but I’m really happy with how Austen turned up.

I’m very happy that I got to be part of this tour and I can’t wait to see what else Ari North comes with! Make sure to grab your copy of Always Human and fall in love with North’s style and characters just as I did.

Do you read WebToons? I’ve really liked Always Human and Orange Marmalade, but it’s been a while since I sat down to read some (other than finishing AH’s story, of course). Which are your favorites?

Besos,

Linda

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro | Book Review | Book Tour

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro | Book Review | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!

I hope y’all are staying safe and hydrated during these stressing days. Today I want to talk about a book I read last month that I ABSOLUTELY loved. I’ve been trying to write this review for a while, but could never get the words to describe it. I finally could piece something coherent, so let’s jump to it!

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+ 

Content Warnings: animal violence, on-page graphic violence, injury, death, abuse (both emotional and domestic)

This cover is unfairly stunning, just look at that.

From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life. Xochitl 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 enigmatic 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 conqueror. 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.

Hauntingly poetic and unique, Each of Us a Desert was a book that grabbed me from page one. There were times when I just wanted to mark every single page because the writing style is amazing.

The story follows Xochitl, a young girl that lives in Empalme, one of the small cities that came together after the world was completely burnt. She is a cuentista, a person who is destined to take the stories from people and returning them to Solís, the god of this world. If she doesn’t take their stories, the guilt turns into a monster that can kill them once they get too strong. After years of taking the stories of everyone in the city, Xochitl is exhausted, but feels like there’s no way out of this life.

This all changed when the fire nation attacked when one story she takes shakes her entire being. Xochitl starts to wonder about her destiny, her own story… and decides to make a choice for herself for the first time in a long time.

“I wanted it more than anything. To be free of these responsibilities and rules and expectations. I wanted my own life.”

As she runs from Empalme, she confronts the reality that maybe everything the village has told her, everything the village believes, is a lie. Through her journey, she confronts many of her prejudices and the barriers other had raised for her. The story takes us through a journey with Xochitl, making us see how expectations from others tend to shape our lives and how we can discover ourselves when we break free from those chains.

“I believed in myself despite everything that told me not to. Is that really so bad?”

THINGS I LIKED

  • I truly loved how atmospheric Oshiro’s writing is, the way it touched important themes and topics, and the world building. The descriptions of the desert and the cities made me feel like I was there.
  • The poetry interwoven with the story feels magical on its own; unapolegetically bilingual and full of beautiful images, too.
  • The mythology surrounding Solís and cuentistas was super interesting. Los Pálidos, los sabuesos, los guardianes and cuentistas play a vital part in Solís’ play. The relationship between these actors is as important to the story as the characters and their motives: their existences have been marked by fire and blood. It’s imporant to keep in mind that, like Oshiro has explained many times, this is a fantasy book, not a book based in mythology from our world.
  • From the way we explored the world created in this book, I was left wanting more. I would love to explore more of the cities mentioned through the book without the sense of urgency of this particular story. It would be great if Oshiro could return to this world later, maybe in a short story or a companion novel, and we could take a better look of one of those far away cities we never visited with Xochitl.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE

  • I needed 5 more pages to get a better sense of the ending.
  • Although I love the writing style, some times I would feel extremely lost because too many things were happening at the same time.

One important thing I have to mention is that Each of Us a Desert is NOT a romance. It has a very small romantic arc, but the romance is not one of the main themes of the book, contrary to what a lot of the things I’d read at that time stated. I actually appreciate this now that I’ve had time to think about the book as a whole, but when I read it I was under the impression that this would be the story of a sapphic romance in a fantasy world and I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get that. Instead, it is the story of a fantasy world with some (mild) elements of sapphic romance. This is not something I didn’t like, but something to keep in mind when one is going into the story.

When I was commenting this book with Gabi (she has a review of the book too!), we both found it a little ironic that the book is mainly about expectations and our expections for the romance where the only things we felt the story fell a little flat.

Overall, Each of Us a Desert was a book that surprised me in the best way. It has stayed in my mind for a long time after reading it. I’ll probably end up rereading it once my finished copy arrives, because the story and the characters have me enchanted. I’m fairly certain that y’all will see this book among my favorite reads of the year.

4.5/5★

I’m really happy that I got to participate in this tour and I’m excited to see what other people thought about the fantastical world Mark Oshiro has created. If you haven’t done it yet, you can register your preorder here before September 14 to receive a beautiful art print with one of the poems in the book.

*Keep in mind that all quotes used in this reviews are taken from the ARC copy. Once I get my finished copy, I’ll check them, but they might not appear on finished books like this.

What’s your most anticipated release of September? Is Each of Us a Desert on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Besos,

Linda

Impostor Syndrome: A Love Letter to Representation

Impostor Syndrome: A Love Letter to Representation

¡Hola, mi gente!

The last few weeks have been chaotic. I’ve been running around the house, getting things ready for not only the first 100% virtual semester I’m going to take, but the my first semester at Law School. And I survived: my first week of Law School is done and gone. In some levels, I’m still amazed that this is real. In others, I’m facing the worst impostor syndrome of my life, which led me to this reflection and this post (which is kinda longish –Sorry! You can skip all my rambling and get to the recommendations).

I honestly do not understand why I was so scared of not getting into Law School (of course, I say this NOW, after the fact. Before getting my acceptance letter, I would cry at least every couple of days because I was sure they would never accept me). I got a 710 out of 800 score in the EXADEP (our version of GRE/GMAT), with perfect or almost perfect scores in Math, English, and Analysis. The average for students accepted in UPR? 486. I had a score of 165 out 180 in the LSAT, which is not the highest ever but did put me in a comfortable distance from the average of people who got accepted at UPR (149). I have a 3.9 GPA, when the average for accepted students is 3.44.

I’m not writing this to throw flowers at myself. I’m stating facts. And even as I talk about my scores I feel like I should be hiding them because “people wouldn’t believe them” or it will “rub people the wrong way”.

But why?

Why wouldn’t people believe I got those scores? Why did I feel like I was stealing a place for someone more fitting, more worthy, when I got my acceptance letter?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially because the imposter syndrome has been hitting me non-stop, and I’ve gotten to a conclusion that feels right to me: I feel like an imposter because I haven’t seen people who looked like me in these places. When I think about lawyers in Puerto Rico, I think about stuffy, white Latinx men because that’s what I’ve always been shown. The small amount of women representation I’ve seen in the news is oftent treated as something rare –and will usually be white-passing. The dean of the UPR Law School was talking about that recently, too, and it got me thinking about a lot of my struggles with identifying as someone who could be part of that world. A big part of why being accepted to law school seemed impossible was the fact that I’ve never seen someone who looked like me in a position of power in PR until the current Law School dean was appointed.

I don’t want to make this an extremely long post, but I do want to say something: representation matters. I shouldn’t feel like an other in an island where at least a third of its population is Afro-Latinx (and this is me being conservative with that number). I shouldn’t feel the need to constantly prove why I deserve to be in a certain place because of how I look or how I am.

Many of us “others” grow up trying to get to an impossibly “perfect” standard in order to get what seems to come so much easily to the norm, but once we get anywhere near that mark it feels like we’re stealing something from someone. It’s ingrained in our brains and, however unfair, it’s our job to break these cages that trap us from the start and catch up with others.

The first step towards that is seeing ourselves in places of power, love and acceptance. That’s the reason I’m so happy this last year has been a time for me to find diverse books, books where I could see myself and not just books in which I could see others. So here are four books that I’ve read in the last year that have opened my eyes and shown me that I can exist in different spaces, imperfectly and flawed and real and deserving to be there:

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Of course I’m starting this list with Let’s Talk About Love. This book found me at a very hard time earlier this year and boy, did it make me cry.

The book follows Alice as she faces college, heartbreak, and understanding her identity, and it definitely found me at the right moment, right when I was struggling to understand all of those things. It was one of the first times I saw the asexual label and felt like it could be me, that it could describe what I felt but didn’t know how to name. I’m pretty sure this was the first book in which I read about an ace protagonist, let alone a black ace protagonist, and I related to Alice so much that I CRIED as I listened to the audiobook. Picture this: you’re driving calmly to your work and you’re glancing around to see the beauty of nature around you when BAM. Your car neighbor is crying as she listens to an audiobook that sounds like gibberish because it’s in 2.6x speed, black tears flowing down her face thanks to her “waterproof” mascara. That was the experience of anyone who saw me while I listened to this book. But don’t worry, those tears were happy tears, not sad ones.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Reading about fat brown bodies being loved and accepted is something that I have seldom get to read. It’s frustrating, because many of the stories that promise fat protagonists end up being the stories of someone who wants to lose weight in order to be attractive or the story of the ugly ducking who has to change how she looks to find happiness. There are a few other books that, while they don’t make the protagonist lose weight

There’s Something About Sweetie was a breath of fresh air. Sweetie is unapologetically her, and seeing her be sure about who she is and her worth made me feel a little more sure about who I am and what I’m worth. I wish I could go back in time and give this book to 15-years-old me so I could see in Sweetie someone who’s healthy and lovable AND fat and stop being as self-conscious. I can’t, but 22-years-old me will still take the example. The book touches some themes of family hurting you when they think they’re helping and I really appreciated that as well. Honestly, everyone should read it and fall for Sweetie.

Teach Me by Olivia Dade

I won’t lie to you -the romance in Teach Me is one of my favorites this year. BUT! That’s not the reason I put it in this list (although it could be -it’s my list). Teach Me is here because Rose Owens, the protagonist, is someone I wish I’d read of when I was younger, too. She’s strong, capable, hard-working, passionate and absolutely and unapologetically sensual.

Oh, and she’s fat.

Seeing someone with a fat body portrayed not as a lazy person or someone who’s entire happiness depends on losing weight is something that, sadly, continues to be unsual. Reading Rose’s story and inner monologue made me cry a few times, because she wasn’t someone who felt less for her weight, but someone who embraces it. Olivia Dade made me fall in love with every single one of her characters, and I would definitely recommend any of her books to anyone (I might have gotten the rest of her books right after this one and binged the There’s Something About Marysbury and Love Unscripted series in a week). They have just the right amount of love, sexy, and humor to glue you to the page and make you laugh and love -and yes, cry- with all of them.

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

I find the way to add Blanca & Roja to almost every single list I make and there’s a reason for that: Blanca & Roja was the book with which I began to understand non-binary identities. Before it, I knew what it was, but I didn’t really understand.

And then I met Page. Reading about them was something that changed me, and I’m not saying this lightly. I saw myself somewhere in a light I never had before. Just like Let’s Talk About Love, it gave a name to something that I already knew deep inside me, but I hadn’t realized. I’ll be forever grateful to Anna-Marie McLemore for writing this story full of brown queer people finding magic and love.

(And yes, let us continue the trend: I cried with this book. A lot. Some-pages-are-crinkled a lot.)

Representation matters. I don’t know what else to say. I hadn’t thought as much about representation before because I was used to seeing white cisallohet as the norm. I was taught to feel that way. These books made me realize that I have a place in this planet, and that the normal I was used to seeing was only a lie spoon-fed through the content I consumed as a child. Reading about these stories shattered that glass. So yeah, representation matters. Seeing ourselves matters.

And that’s it, folks! I’m sorry if this post was a bit too long, but I had a lot of things in my mind. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read these books, what you thought of them and what book made you feel represented in some way.

Happy reading!