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Latinx Summer Reads 2019 (or, #ReadLatinxFive)

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[ID: banner with a beach, clip arts of a palm tree and a cute red crab, on the sand there’s 8 books– Gods of Jade and Shadow, while they sleep (under the bed is another country), My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, Shades: Detroit Love Stories, Exile, Where are You From?, The Grief Keeper, and A Crash of Fate]
The sun’s out and blazing hot, the beach is crowded, but there’s a bit of shade under the umbrella. Or perhaps you’re in the Southern hemisphere, dealing with the cold and bundling up before leaving your home. It’s a good thing there are books for every occasion!

It’s been a full year since I started the #ReadLatinx project, and it’s been such an amazing ride! Thanks to this project, I’ve been able to meet new people, readers, writers, and industry folks who had been searching for this kind of work and have been incredibly supportive throughout this whole endeavor. I appreciate and I’m grateful to all of you! You all keep cheering me on, especially when I start doubting whether or not my work is done in vain. I also want to take a moment to say THANK YOU because I now have over 1000 (!!!!!!!) FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER! I also have 60 followers on here which is unbelievable as well! I only hope to keep growing my platform so I can continue shining a light on Latinx creators.

If you’re interested in reading the past #ReadLatinx posts, scroll to the end for a list of them. I dub this list #ReadLatinxFive.

In any case, I’m proud to present over 40 books that will be releasing between June 1st and August 31st, 2019. This list consists of books written and/or illustrated by Latinx authors. The list will be divided by age category (Picture Books, MG, YA, or Adult) as well as genre (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Anthology) and subgenres in certain cases (Literary, Contemporary, Fantasy, etc.). Each of the books listed will have the title, the name of the author/illustrator, its release date, and a short description written by yours truly. Each category is sorted by release date. Books marked by an asterisk (*) are ones I don’t know their official release date or don’t have enough information about.

Disclaimer: This compilation is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive; it only contains titles I’ve been able to find through extensive research. If you know of a book I didn’t list, or have a correction to make, don’t hesitate to let me know! I also add books at my own discretion, as I have no intention of boosting sexual harassers, racists, homophobes or transphobes. Continue reading “Latinx Summer Reads 2019 (or, #ReadLatinxFive)”

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Mid-Year Check-In 2019

It’s mid-2019, which means we need to take stock of how we’ve been doing in terms of reading (I know that it’s already August, let me live). I’d challenged myself to read 50 books this year, same as last year, and I’ve been doing pretty well so far with a total of 45 books read (by the time this was drafted; I’m glad to say I’ve surpassed my goal by now!)

I wanted to take this moment to shout-out some noteworthy ones so far:

Picture Books

Middle Grade

Young Adult

Romance

Poetry

Comics

Misc:

What did y’all think? I thought about writing what I thought about each of them but honestly I don’t have time for that! Go to my Goodreads account to see my Thoughts on the books. Or, y’know, ask me! I love talking about my books!

I’ll give you all stats at the end of the year of what genres I ended up reading most (it’s probably picture books but we’ll see).

 

Boricua Reads’ Song Shuffle Book Tag

Welcome to Boricua Reads’ Song Shuffle Book Tag!

I’m breaking my brief book blogging hiatus to bring you a cool (?) new book tag.

This is not to be confused with (Over)Analyzing Literature’s Shuffle Book Tag, this is a different tag with similar-ish intentions. 

Here are the rules to the book tag:

  1. Put your playlist or music library on shuffle. 
  2. You must build a book list (can be read or in your TBR) out of the words in the title of the song that comes up. 
  3. Song must have more than two words in the title. 
  4. You can use more than one song if you so want. 
  5. If you can’t find a book in your shelves with one of the song title’s words, you can choose a book that has a letter starting with that word or the word can sound similar/be part of the one in the song title. 
  6. Then, proceed to talk about the books in the list, your thoughts or opinions on it and whether it’s on your TBR or you’ve already read it. 

Seems simple, no?

Here’s a random example:

Song: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Books:

I- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Wanna – I Wanna Be Where You Are

Dance – Dance All Night

With – With the Fire on High

Somebody – Somewhere Only We Know

For my own take on it, I went on Apple Music and clicked on one of the ready-made playlists and kept scrolling with my eyes closed until I got to a song with more than two words in its title. I got Better Luck Next Time by Kelsea Ballerini, which is a song I hadn’t heard of! Upon listening to it, I actually really liked it. 

Here are my choices:

  • BetterBlood Water Paint
  • Luck – Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune
  • NextNext Year in Havana
  • TimeTimekeeper by Tara Sim

Thoughts:

  • Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough – I read this over a weekend away from my house and it was truly a work of greatness. I followed it up with The Poet X, and I couldn’t have made a better decision. Both works deal with bodily autonomy in different ways and eras and races, and I loved them. TWs: abuse, sexual assault, and torture
  • Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim –  I adore books that have a hint of magical realism, especially if they’re written by WoC. Add food to the equation and questions of identity and family, and you make a perfect book. I’ve been so stoked to read thi and by the end of the year I’d like to get this. I’ve had this in my TBR since it was announced and now it’s out so I have a moral obligation to support this wonderful book.
  • Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton – Everyone and their mother has recommended this book to me and I finally got a chance to buy the ebook on sale recently. I’m looking forward to delving into Elisa and Marisol’s stories.
  • Timekeeper by Tara Sim – I absolutely loved Timekeeper by Tara Sim! I sort of abandoned Chainbreaker midway through my reading of it, but I have to finish it so I can know what happens! I’m so bad at reading series *crying emojis*

What did you think? Will you try it? I’m tagging the Latinx Squad if they’re interested in trying out the book tag, you can tag whomever you want or just do it if you want to; no one’s policing your ability to do this. This is for fun! Just make sure to credit me, Boricua Reads or @boricuareads on Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr.

Enjoy!

An Open Letter to Latinx in Publishing

7/23/2019

Open Letter to Latinx in Publishing:

My name is Adriana M. Martínez Figueroa, also known as boricuareads on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. On May 27th last year, the first of my posts promoting upcoming book releases from Latinx authors was uploaded to my tumblr page. Even though it still didn’t have the #ReadLatinx tag in it, it was the beginning of my advocacy online to see more books by Latinx authors be actively promoted. I began these posts because I was tired of seeing book lists and recommendation posts that didn’t even mention a single book by a Latinx author. As a recent college graduate, I wanted to apply my knowledge of Latinx Studies as well as Women and Gender Studies into something that I wanted to give freely to others: the opportunity for Latinx readers to find themselves in literature made by people like them. 

On June 1st, 2018, I started using the #readlatinx tag on a post promoting my own designs on Redbubble, wherein one of the designs told people to Read Latinx books. From that point forward, I started using the #ReadLatinx hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to promote new releases from Latinx authors. I used the hashtag to promote book announcements from Latinx authors, to congratulate authors, because indeed people needed to Read Latinx authors and books. I welcomed others to use it, and after months of promoting the hashtag and creating graphics and lists, librarians, authors, and booksellers began using the hashtag as well. It’s been more than a year, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done. Indeed, the hashtag was a community effort, because the more people use it, the more books by Latinx we get to see and read. 

During this time I’ve also been searching for a job. It could be part-time or full-time, but I needed a job, especially as my grace period to be able to find a job in order to pay off my loans was looming around the corner. One of the jobs I applied to during this time was for Latinx in Publishing’s Internship position for Summer/Fall of 2018. I didn’t get the job, but I didn’t hold it against you all. In fact, the rejection made me want to continue promoting books by Latinx even harder, because I still respect your organization and what it does for Latinx working in the publishing industry. 

In March of this year, I had to stop doing the weekly announcements of Latinx releases because making the graphics and then posting them on my social media accounts was getting to be too much, especially since it was all being done for free. This was exacerbated by the fact that Latinx in Publishing had used my hashtag in their own account without even crediting me (see Twitter screenshot from 3/26/2019 attached in image gallery at the end). 

That same day I decided to stop posting new releases weekly, and just focused on my seasonal masterposts. Latinx in Publishing had been using my free labor and posting it on their own account, so I cut off the weekly posts as to not facilitate that from happening anymore. Around the same time I stopped posting my weekly announcements, Latinx in Pub began making their own graphics to announce new releases from Latinx authors and illustrators (Latinx in Publishing’s first post with a graphic wishing congrats on a book release was on 3/19/2019 for The Universal Laws of Marco, also the first time Latinx in Publishing used the #ReadLatinx).

This week, Latinx in Publishing announced they were going to be launching a pre-order campaign for tote bags in their website, I assume to raise money for the non-profit organization which I support. However, one of the designs said “Keep Calm and Read Latinx” (see image attached in gallery, taken from Latinx in Publishing’s Facebook account). 

Latinx in Publishing purposefully used the hashtag I created and still use online without even trying to contact its creator that they were going to use it to raise funds for the organization. It’s incredibly hurtful for an organization I respect as much as I do to not even verify if its creator would permit the usage of a phrase/slogan in their own merchandise. This move especially hurts when I’ve been unemployed for almost two years all while giving free labor online. I would’ve said yes to using it if Latinx in Publishing even once credited me for my labor, which they’ve not done.

I know what my work is worth. I do not wish for my labor to be erased. I wish for my work to be respected in the same way I’ve respected your organization and its efforts. 

 

Best regards,

Adriana M. Martínez Figueroa

 

Taking Responsibility: about “All Of Us With Wings” and our duties

(Content Warning: this post will talk about sexual assault, more specifically CSA, trauma, and pedophilia)


Earlier this week, some readers on social media brought to attention some highly questionable content of All Of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil. In their (incredibly valid) criticism, they talked about the fact that the Love Interest of the book is a 28-year-old man, while the main character is a 17-year-old girl of Mexican descent. 

I highly encourage you to seek those posts out, as well as Gabi’s post about her experience reading it. I think Gabi talked about it in a great manner and brought in context that some folks might’ve needed. I especially urge you to read the words of readers of color who’ve been talking in depth about the issues of pedophilia and child sexual assault (CSA) that are in the book.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about my own hand in the discussion of the book. I received an ARC from someone else who’d already read it and they’d loved it, and then SOHO Teen sent me an ARC that I forwarded to another queer Latinx teen reader. 

I hadn’t had time to really read my copy until recently for various reasons, but mostly it was because I’d read around Goodreads about the fact that the love interest was older than the main character and that turned me off. I’ve probably read about two chapters of it, and though it contains a lot of things that should be talked about more in YA (trauma, recreational drug use, drinking, casual bisexuality), the fact that a grown man was gonna be pursuing an underage girl made me distance myself from the book. 

As someone who, at fifteen years old, was pursued by a man in his late-twenties (even though I had a boyfriend at the time), and had friends who were pursued by older men while we were in middle school, I cannot condone this kind of narrative. Unless you’re using it to directly negate and criticize this type of behavior from men, I don’t want to read and re-experience what I, and people I know, went through.

Gabi’s post delves into how there are bystanders who victim-blame the main character and don’t really condemn the relationship and how, though the characters end their relationship, the book’s ending leaves the relationship as a sort of open-ended narrative. 

I believe we can talk about teen girls and how they deal with trauma without having them be groomed by older men, especially when the character had gone through CSA and had been assaulted by a father figure beforehand. 

If I’d actually known that the characters get into a relationship, instead of what I’d originally thought would happen (that the main character gets fixated on an older man but gets rebuffed by the man– as should happen if men were actually shit and took responsibility for their actions), I wouldn’t have helped boost the book online. I wouldn’t have taken pretty pictures of it or told people to buy the book. 

Even though I want to promote more Latinx voices, I don’t think I did this responsibly. I want to bring to the forefront the writings of Latinx, especially Latinx who live within the margins, but if it comes at the cost of re-traumatizing readers I will not continue promoting that. I also believe we have a responsibility to critique our own community when we do something wrong, and in this case we did something wrong. I respect Michelle and I think she writes with a beautiful prose. However, I want to make it clear that I can’t continue promoting her book in good conscience. 

I also can’t keep quiet about this situation. Doing so means ignoring valid criticism coming from QPoC, especially Queer Teens of Color, of the book, and it means siding and condoning these narratives. I might value uplifting Latinx voices, but I won’t do so at the cost of turning my back on people affected by a book. One of my missions when I started #ReadLatinx was to bring more Latinx voices in publishing to the forefront, but that also means being able to critique and be able to create discourse around books by Latinx, be it positive or negative. Most importantly, my goal was about Latinx readers finding themselves in literature, and that meant having accurate representation that we can latch onto.

It deeply saddens me when adults who are committed to uplifting Latinx voices and helping Latinx audiences find themselves prefer to remain neutral in a situation such as this. If you’re not able to separate yourself from the relationships we have, I don’t know what to say. I think, in the spirit of unity, one thing we should be able to do is reach out to our friends and colleagues when they’ve misstepped and done something wrong from a place of wishing to grow. We can’t say we’re against bigotry and the issues that affect our communities (such as the oversexualization of Latinx girls, especially Queer and Trans Latinx, at the hands of a cisheteropatriarchy) and still remain silent. 

All of this to say that, we have to remain critical and not become biased in regards to our own community. We can’t overlook these issues. Doing so is how situations of anti-Blackness slip through the cracks, how we help foment transphobia or ableism. Every time we raise our voices we are doing a radical act, and we have to take a look at our actions and decide whether being complicit in our community’s own oppressive structures is good enough.

I apologize for ever promoting this book. My posts will remain up because I believe in learning from your actions, but know that I do not condone the contents of the book. I will not be complicit in the re-traumatizing of readers. Will you?

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe: a review

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Description:

How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker? When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Continue reading “Sal and Gabi Break the Universe: a review”

Sunshine Blogger Award tag

Hi everyone! I was tagged by Nicky at smallqueerbigopinions/nickyoflaherty and they’re amazing so you should follow them! Thank you so much!!

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  4. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  5. List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.

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Questions for Me:

1. If you could change the genre of one of your favorite books, which book would you pick, which genre, and why? One of the books I really love is The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and I’d really love to see the legend/myth of Achilles and Patroclus as a space opera. I think the drama would translate well and I just like space. Imagine all the lyrical prose you could write about the vastness of a galaxy and being able to find your soulmate right beside you. Fuck me up.

2. Do you read graphic novels? Why or why not? I do, I’m just very picky! The last graphic novel I read was The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks, which was just Okay. Some I really love, though, are Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, and The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by The McElroys and Carey Pietsch.

3. What’s one book you read that was hyped up so much by other people, yet you were disappointed when you read it? Act Like It by Lucy Parker. I just really don’t like alpha heroes, especially ones who are extremely entitled and borderline abusive.

4. What’s the last book you rated five (5) stars, and why did you love it so much? The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo! I love her verses, and the fact that it made me tear up at the beach while reading the scene where Xiomara confronts her mother. Fuck!!!

5. When rating a book three (3) stars, do you consider that a bad or good rating? Or neither? Show your work! I consider it a mediocre rating. Sometimes I’m just personally unable to give it 4 stars due to my own personal misgivings with the book (see: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters, which had the first gay Latina I ever read about but the portrayal of her makes absolutely no sense).

6. Share five (5) of your favorite tropes and recommend at least one book to go with each trope!

  • enemies to lovers – I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
  • heists! – The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
  • latinas defying the patriarchy – Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • bisexual love triangle – Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
  • found family – Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

7. If you worked in a library and were asked to recommend three (3) YA fantasy books, which would you choose and why? We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia for its complexity in that it’s not a magical fantasy, nor an Earthen fantasy, but it’s a world closely resembling ours with political crises similar to ours. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, because you can have a romance full of lush, delicious prose, while still having fun. And Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova, because you can have urban fantasy full of zombies while still being able to talk about trauma and family. 

8. Which books are your most anticipated for the rest of 2019? Nocturna by Maya Motayne, Zoraida Córdova’s A Crash of Fate, The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes because I need to know how Zane is doing, The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring, Slay by Brittany Morris, Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite, Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi dDeyemi, and so many more oh God.

9. Share one author who you think is underrated/underhyped and which book of theirs you think someone should start with to get the best feel for the author’s style. Anna Meriano and Mia Garcia. I loved A Dash of Trouble and I loved The Resolutions, so that should tell you where to start.

10. Alpha males or beta males? Why? Betas! I already gave good reasons, but I still have yet to find an Alpha hero that is fucking respectful toward their LI. Anyway, read Take the Lead by Alexis Daria.

11. What is your GoodReads goal for 2019? My goal is to read 50 books in 2019, but I’m already at 32/50 and it’s mid-April. 


I’m tagging for this challenge Caro santanareads, 24hryabookblog, Kazen alwaysdoing, and whoever wishes to do so (you’re all Sunshines to me!)

My Questions:

  1. Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?
  2. What’s an overly hyped book/series that you haven’t been able to get into?
  3. What genre (sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, etc) do you wish you read more of?
  4. What’s a book you’d hand-sell to anyone and everyone who crosses your path?
  5. Which book has lit up your heart and made you feel loved?
  6. Mention a book with a plot twist that had you gasping out loud.
  7. This is a no-judgement zone: do you dog-ear pages?
  8. What was the last book by a Black woman that you read? The last book by a Latina? By an Asian woman? By a Native or Indigenous woman? Are you conscious of who’s writing the media you consume?
  9. When was the last time words moved you and shifted the perception of something in your head?
  10. Do you review all the books you read or only specific ones?
  11. As book bloggers, we are both consumers and creators: we consume books and proceed to create content about what we’ve consumed, only for someone else to consume what you’ve created. Is there ever a break between being both consumer and creator? ….In all seriousness, what’s your favorite post you’ve created and why?

Thank you all for reading! Tomorrow, my review of Sal and Gabi will be up, so make sure you come back and check it out, since it’s been a long time in the making.