Upcoming Spring ’19 Book Releases by Latinx Authors & Illustrators

latinx spring reads banner.png
(banner that says “Latinx Spring Reads 2019” on top, @boricuareads under the 2019, and in the bottom there are book covers with leaves and stems under them to simulate flowers)

The snow is starting to melt, the trees are looking green again, flowers are beginning to welcome sunshine and showers…

Here? It’s gonna get hotter as Easter approaches, with more people bathing at the beach and more tourists starting to arrive for their Spring Breaks. That’s right, Spring is around the corner. The time between Spring and Summer is my favorite, as it’s cool enough for me to wear cool jackets and but also hot enough that we don’t have to wear coats (I mean, I don’t have to wear coats at any given time here, but I’m being empathetic for those going through harsh winters and who are waiting for Spring to arrive).

It also means it’s time to bring a new list to your lives, or, what I’ve dubbed “#Read&Latinx.” We’ve had Summer 2018 (#ReadLatinx), Fall 2018 (#2Read2Latinx), and Winter ‘18-19 (#ReadLatinx:Winter Drift) to prepare for this monster list. 

Curating these lists is both a joy and a curse, seeing as I’d like to buy every single book but I know that can’t be feasible (I’m both broke and unemployed). Working on these posts is my way to give back to a community of writers that can be often ignored by a community of readers as well as publishing at large when they’re not given ample publicity in comparison to many hegemonic writers.

In any case, I’m proud to present over 70 books that will be releasing between February 15th and May 31st, 2019. It 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 (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!

Continue reading “Upcoming Spring ’19 Book Releases by Latinx Authors & Illustrators”


Latinx Book Bingo TBR

I don’t normally share my TBRs because I normally don’t know what I will be reading next, but I wanted to adhere to a strict/loose (bear with me, I know it sounds contradictory) set of rules for Latinx Book Bingo.

If you don’t know what Latinx Book Bingo is, it’s a challenge created by three Latinx book bloggers/booktubers who wanted to showcase the works and creations of Latinx authors. There’s a bingo card and everything, you can find all the information about this challenge in my last blog post.

For this month, I wanted to give myself some leeway to read whatever I want within the TBR I’ll set. Therefore, I don’t think I’ll be able to read all of the books in my TBR, but I hope that for this month I’ll be able to read as many as I can. I don’t know if this happens to any of you, but whenever I set a TBR, I end up rebelling against my own self. I think it’s my Leo nature.

Here’s a list of books I may or may not end up reading for Latinx Book Bingo 2018, with the genre and all those sweet, sweet details you all love:

I also want to finish Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, since I started it and forgot about it due to my own short attention span, and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado which is a Short Story collection (Fiction, Horror, Fantasy) that I started during my trip to Costa Rica and had to stop due to traveling. But I’m getting back on the reading horse and finishing them, because I love them so far.

By the end of the month, if I read all of these books, my board should look like this (excuse my horrible circles and lines):

I should have a double sort of bingo? We’ll see what I finish by the end of the whole challenge and find out if I have a Bingo or not.

Let me know what books you’re planning on reading on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr @boricuareads. Any books here that you’d never heard of before? Comment below if so, or if you’re going to be reading one of the books I mentioned above!


Latinx Book Bingo Recommendations

latinx book bingo recs
[banner description: Latinx Book Bingo Recommendations in scratchy font over an aquamarine to light blue gradient that’s been crystallized.]
For National Hispanic Heritage Month, some fabulous Latinx booktubers and book bloggers have teamed up to do a wonderful month-long event. It’s called: Latinx Book Bingo (I linked to the initial Twitter thread there).

This event was created by Paola Mancera (@Mancerelle on Twitter, Paola Mancera on YouTube), Allie Molina (@alliembooks on Twitter, alliembooks on YouTube), and Sofia (@SofiainBookland on Twitter, Bookish Wanderess on WordPress). Together, they’re moderating and promoting books by Latinx authors and spread Latinx stories across the lands.

Here’s the Bingo Card:

[If you’re using a screen-reader, do not fret, I will go through each box further on, but keep in mind it’s a 5×4 board]
A couple of weeks ago I shared a Twitter thread with some recommendations for each of the boxes. I thought I’d make a separate post going through each of them and perhaps add some more. Before you read, you should still check if there are trigger warnings, as some of these books deal with difficult topics; your well-being comes first before doing any book challenge. I couldn’t link the titles to their Goodreads accounts because I realized I had too many (and I’d spent 4 hours making this list already, which is also why there are no accent marks in author names). There are books that are repeated because their content is varied and can count for multiple categories.

Without further ado, the list (marked w/ an asterisk are the books I’ve read):

Bisexual MC (first box, first column/row):

  1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova*
  2. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore*
  3. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera*

SF/F (second box, second column, first row):

  1. Infomocracy trilogy by Malka Older (SF)
  2. Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (SF)
  3. Brooklyn Brujas series by Zoraida Cordova (F)*
  4. Shadowshaper Cypher by Daniel Jose Older (F)
  5. Bone Street Rumba series by Daniel Jose Older (F)
  6. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older (F)
  7. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (F)
  8. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (F)
  9. The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (F)
  10. Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  11. The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez (SF)
  12. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (SF)*
  13. The Smoking Mirror by David Bowles (F)
  14. Beyond the Red trilogy by Gabe (Ava Jae) (SF)
  15. A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander (F)
  16. The City of Beasts by Isabel Allende (F)*
  17. The Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (F)
  18. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (F)

MC with Mental Illness (third box, third column, first row):

  1. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (depression, ED)*
  2. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (OCD, anxiety)*
  3. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (depression, attempted suicide)
  4. When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez (depression, suicide)

On Cover Rep (fourth box, fourth column, first row):

  1. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera*
  2. Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older*
  3. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
  4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  5. Love On Cue series by Mia Sosa*
  6. Dance Off series by Alexis Daria*
  7. The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez
  8. Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
  9. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
  10. America series by Gabby Rivera*
  11. The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres
  12. Esperanza Reborn by Pam Munoz Ryan*
  13. Lucky Luna by Diana Lopez
  14. Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown
  15. Amigas series by Veronica Chambers

Historical Fiction (fifth box, fifth column, first row):

  1. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
  2. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez*
  3. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  4. Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
  5. In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez
  6. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende*
  7. Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benitez
  8. Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
  9. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel*
  10. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
  11. The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres
  12. Esperanza Reborn by Pam Munoz Ryan*
  13. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
  14. My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver*
  15. Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero
  16. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

F/F Relationship (sixth box, first column, second row):

  1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova*
  2. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
  3. America series by Gabby Rivera*
  4. Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo
  5. Carapace by Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Contemporary/Romance (seventh box, second column, second row): [C for contemporary; R for Romance; CR for both]

  1. Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol (CR)*
  2. Love on Cue series by Mia Sosa (CR)*
  3. Dance Off series by Alexis Daria (CR)*
  4. Stripped by Zoey Castile (CR)*
  5. Matched to Perfection series by Priscilla Oliveras (CR)
  6. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera (C)*
  7. The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes (CR)
  8. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (C)
  9. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (C)
  10. The Fall of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez (C)
  11. Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres (C)
  12. The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales (C)
  13. The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson (C)
  14. Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson (C)
  15. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (C)

Refugee/Immigrant Story (eight box, third column, second row):

  1. The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz
  2. The Crossroads by Alexandra Diaz
  3. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  4. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan*
  5. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
  6. Bang by Daniel Peña
  7. The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers

Neurodiverse MC (ninth box, fourth column, second row):

  1. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
  2. Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman

Non-Fiction (tenth box, fifth column, second row):

  1. Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda
  2. Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream (Coming out: 09/18/2018)
  3. The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande
  4. A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande (Coming out: 10/02/2018)
  5. In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero
  6. Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua
  7. Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo

M/M Relationship (eleventh box, first column, third row):

  1. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera*
  2. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera*
  3. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera*
  4. What If It’s Us? by Adam Silvera & Becky Albertalli (Coming out: 10/09/2018)
  5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz*
  6. Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez
  7. Rainbow trilogy by Alex Sanchez
  8. The Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez
  9. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro (MC is black, but LI is Latinx, author is a gay Latinx)

Magical Realism (twelfth box, second column, third row):

  1. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore*
  2. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
  3. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore*
  4. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore (Coming out: 10/09/2018)
  5. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel*
  6. Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester
  7. The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
  8. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende*
  9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  10. Esperanza’s Box of Saints by Maria Amparo Escandon*
  11. So Far From God by Ana Castillo*
  12. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya*
  13. Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia*
  14. A Place Where the Sea Remembers by Sandra Benitez
  15. Daughters of Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Fat Rep (thirteenth box, third column, third row):

  1. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero*
  2. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
  3. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
  4. Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo
  5. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Afro-Latinx MC (fourteenth box, fourth column, third row):

  1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  2. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
  3. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  4. Pride: Remix by Ibi Zoboi (Coming out: 09/18/2018)
  5. Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero
  6. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
  7. Shadowshaper cypher by Daniel Jose Older
  8. Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
  9. Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
  10. Carapace by Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Classic Latinx Author (fifteenth box, fifth column, third row):

  1. Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez*
  2. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  3. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
  4. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende*
  5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  6. The Inhabited Woman by Gioconda Belli
  7. Sirena Selena by Mayra Santos Febres
  8. Tear This Heart Out by Angeles Mastretta
  9. The Shrouded Woman by Maria Luisa Bombal*
  10. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya*

Trans/Genderqueer MC (sixteenth box, first column, fourth row):

  1. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore* (one of the MCs is a trans boy, but he isn’t Latinx, the other MC is Latinx)
  2. Mariposa Gown by Rigoberto Gonzalez

Poetry (seventeenth box, second column, fourth row):

  1. peluda by Melissa Lozada-Oliva*
  2. Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros*
  3. love, and you by Gretchen Gomez*
  4. Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon*
  5. The Carrying by Ada Limon
  6. Scar On/Scar Off by Jennifer Maritza McCauley*
  7. Corazon by Yesika Salgado
  8. Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos*
  9. The Verging Cities by Natalie Scenters-Zapico
  10. Refuse by Julian Randall (Coming out: 09/18/2018)
  11. There Should Be Flowers by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
  12. Sad Girl Poems by Christopher Soto/Loma
  13. Lessons on Expulsion by Erika L. Sanchez
  14. Virgin by Analicia Sotelo

Disabled/Chronic Pain MC (eighteenth box, third column, fourth row):

  1. The Storm Runner by Jennifer Cervantes (Coming out: 09/18/2018)
  2. Unbroken anthology has stories by William Alexander and Francisco X. Stork
  3. Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Indigenous MC (nineteenth box, fourth column, fourth row):

  1. Broad and Alien is the World by Ciro Garcia
  2. The Villagers by Jorge Icaza

Free Space (twentieth box, fifth column, fourth row):

  1. Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez
  2. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya
  3. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
  4. Love, Sugar, Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
  5. Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes
  6. Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
  7. Allie, First at Last by Angela Cervantes
  8. The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph*
  9. They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles*
  10. North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

If you’d like to see more recommendations, I recommend Sofia’s post where she recommends 90 books you can choose to read during this challenge. There are also a couple of YouTube videos detailing some TBRs you might be interested in:

If you enjoyed this post with over 170 entries, consider following me on here, Twitter, Tumblr, & Instagram @boricuareads. I’ll make a separate TBR post for Latinx Book Bingo for tomorrow or later this week. Share this and don’t be afraid to join in on the fun.

“Tú Me Hiciste Brujería:” Witchy Latinx Books by Latinx (& BOOK GIVEAWAY!)

description: banner with details from the book cover of “a sprinkle of spirits” and text that reads “a sprinkle of spirits” blog tour”

This piece is a part of the A Sprinkle in Spirits Blog Tour! If you wanna know how you can win a copy of A Sprinkle in Spirits, scroll all the way to the end. Or, you know, continue reading my post ’til the end.

Continue reading ““Tú Me Hiciste Brujería:” Witchy Latinx Books by Latinx (& BOOK GIVEAWAY!)”

Book Chats with Adri & Caro 🌈: The Resolutions by Mia García

book chats header template.png

Hi, friends! Welcome to our very first book chat!

A few weeks back, Caro (santanareads.wordpress.com/@santanareads on Twitter and IG) and I were talking about the books we have in common. As it turns out there were a lot of books we’d both read, but hadn’t had a chance to maybe discuss. We wanted a space to publicly gush about them, or maybe just talk shit about, and it turned into this!

We decided to turn toward a discussion about Mia García’s most recent release: The Resolutions. This was especially prompted after I attended a Skype Q&A with the author and several other Puerto Rican readers at The Bookmark last week.

Carolina’s got the first part of this conversation, so if you’d like to know the context of the chat, maybe go ahead and jump on over to her post. The conversation in italics will be from Caro, and the one in bold and italics will be from yours truly.

Read on and enjoy our talks about certain characters, Jess’s twin’s name, Nora & Beth, the food in the book, and maybe a tease into what we might be discussing next week *eye emoji*…

Continue reading “Book Chats with Adri & Caro 🌈: The Resolutions by Mia García”

The Moon Within: a review

boricuareads review the moon within.png
[image description: graphic that reads “boricuareads reviews: The Moon WIthin by Aida Salazar” with the book cover in the center over a yellow and red background]


Celi Rivera’s life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend’s exploration of what it means to be genderfluid.

But most of all, her mother’s insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It’s an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?

A dazzling story told with the sensitivity, humor, and brilliant verse of debut talent Aida Salazar.

Rating: 5/5 Stars


(cw for post: menstruation talk, mention of misgendering and transphobia) Continue reading “The Moon Within: a review”

Hired: a review

boricuareads review hired.png


For a man who makes his living pleasuring women, what happens when the only pay-out worth having is love?

Faith Abigail Charles has always done the right thing. So when her mother runs for mayor of New Orleans, Faith puts her law career on hold to help her win. But when tensions run high, Faith trades one kind of heat for another—in the arms of a hard-bodied stranger. He’s everything a woman dreams of in a lover. So much so that her one-night stand turns into two, then three, then four . . .

For Aiden Rios, meeting smart, sexy Faith feels like fate. After being ditched by his client in the Big Easy, the high-paid male escort needs a little company himself. Aiden knows he’ll have to come clean about his line of work, and he plans to—right after another taste of Faith’s sweetness—and another and another. . . . Until a chance meeting with his client leaves Aiden exposed—and Faith shocked and hurt. Now the hired hottie must show Faith that the love they share is bigger than the scandal threatening to destroy them . . .

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


When Zoey Castile said that the hero in Hired was largely inspired by Maluma, I didn’t know what to expect. But Castile delivered on the missive and surpassed all expectations. Continue reading “Hired: a review”

We Set the Dark On Fire: a review

boricuareads review wstdof
[image description: graphic that reads “boricuareads reviews: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia” with the cover in the middle over a purple and blue background]


At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Rating: 5/5 stars


We Set the Dark on Fire (WSTDOF) was added to my To-Read list on February 2018. Adding books to my To-Read list on Goodreads is something of a second nature to me; I know I’m never gonna read the thousands of books in that list, but I love the encouragement of knowing that these books are there if I want to read them. Sometime after adding it to the list, I read Tehlor Kay Mejia’s story in All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages, making me fall in love with her writing style and subject matter (queer latinas caring for and loving each other in a historical setting– MY BRAND). In October, I posted on Twitter that it seemed quite interesting that not many queer Latinas were getting ARCs to WSTDOF, essentially bypassing the target audience in favor of white and straight reviewers. Bookseller and overall amazing person Cecilia Cackley sent me an extra copy she had on hand.

Now we’re here! After finishing the book and staring at the ceiling for a whole hour, going to sleep, and then waking up only thinking about the book, I’m ready to talk about the masterpiece that is Mejia’s debut novel.

A story of political intrigue and suspense that will leave you sweating with its fast pace, Mejia’s fantasy is one that’s rooted in reality. It’s a story about what happens when you marginalize and oppress someone from birth and what they’d do in order to break the system that has long broken you and those you love.

In WSTDOF, we see the world of Medio divided by a wall that separates those chosen by the Sun God (the “right” side) and those chosen by the Salt God (the “wrong” side); the closer to the capital, the more conservative and exclusive the world. In Medio, the elite men hold all the power, even in their marriages as they follow in the footsteps of the Sun God who had two wives: one wife, the Primera, will be the man’s right hand and in charge of the machinations of the family; the other, the Segunda, will be there to love the husband and provide offspring. This tradition has been passed down for generations until we find Daniela Vargas, who’s on the cusp of graduation from the Medio School for Girls, which prepares future Primeras and Segundas for the highest ranking government officials.

Dani, a girl raised in the outskirts of what Medio deems “civilization,” is forced to make the biggest decision of her life: to spy on her new husband for the radical resistance group La Voz, or be exposed as an “illegal” citizen of Medio and potentially face death. Dani is forced into many masks, none of which ever allow her to be herself (not that she’s had much time to contemplate this). “A hundred shades of a girl,” is how her contact with the rebel group describes her, and she takes that descriptor in stride.

The way Dani flits between identities and melts into whatever role she needs to play at a moment’s notice is not unlike someone who’s been forced to assimilate into a society that would shun her otherwise. She code-switches between a strict Primera living under the thumb of an egomaniac, a harsh and effective informant of the comings and goings of the Garcia household, an immigrant forced to forget her roots and family, a socialite, and a confidante living with her childhood tormentor-turned-co-wife. Dani is naturally curious and often gets her way due to the practiced ease with which she can slip into certain roles. She melds into the background when necessary, yet isn’t afraid of making her voice heard; after all, she was taught to be a Primera, a partner for her husband through all things.

Seeing her evolution from bystander to forced-actor to active participant was magical in itself, all without needing a magic system in a fantasy. The text reads like fantasy, but doubles as a realistic metaphor for class division, questions of citizenship (who gets to be the “right” kind of citizen and the “wrong” kind), sexuality in fictional settings, power dynamics, the cost of revolution and radical groups, religion (only slightly), a civilization’s mythos and how it can carry over in the shaping of a society and its shared generational trauma, and familial relations among Latinx people. I could write like 50 different essays on this book.

It’s a testament to Tehlor’s writing that it leaves you not just wanting more, but wanting to do more. Do more about the politics of our world, about gender dynamics, about the literary canon… (Speaking of, why is the book being promoted as something for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale? Because of the topics of patriarchal ownership of and power over women’s bodies? The context is very different, especially within that of Latinx families.) Tangent over… for now. I want to hug Dani and tell her to keep fighting for what’s right, to not let her moral compass be corrupted by those in power, or even by those whom she loves.

And Dani does love fiercely. She hides it underneath all the masks, but she loves her estranged family, loves having a purpose, and loves Carmen. Wait, who is Carmen and why am I just mentioning her now?

Carmen is the Segunda to Dani’s Primera, both of them married to Mateo Garcia, both of them with dimensions of differences and history. Dani and Carmen came up to the Medio School for Girls at the same time, but grew apart as Carmen assimilated faster into the school’s elitism. Their rivalry grew at the same time they did, but they had to learn to put those rivalries to rest if they were to work together to please their husband. However, by putting their differences aside, they discover that their relationship is growing more in friendship, and perhaps in something more. There’s something to be said about two women finding each other in the most precarious of circumstances, it’s the enemies-to-lovers trope I love so dearly but developed correctly. Some reviewers have said they didn’t like how it was developed, and at times I agree; one apology does not make a good relationship. However, I looked at their relationship in the way Latinx families deal with their own relationships. We rarely ever apologize to each other verbally, there are other ways we communicate regret, and I think that comes across quite well between Carmen and Dani. They have each other’s backs in the face of a government hell-bent in keeping them and their families in the sidelines. This is especially true whenever they must face Mateo and his very powerful family.

Another early reviewer said that Mateo was “pantomime-villain evil,” which completely negates the fact that this story is supposed to showcase the cruelty of men and their obsession with expressing how much power they have over women. He denies Dani a foothold in his life, preferring to do backdoor and seedy dealings by himself, which erases her power. At one point, he uses his body as a weapon against Dani, threatening her physically and verbally. It’s the classic makings of an abuser, not of a fantasy villain. It goes to show how much Mejia injects her fantasy with realism. Mateo doesn’t have superpowers or magic, unless you count the fact that he was born privileged and wouldn’t get reprimanded in the same way someone from a lower caste or of a different gender would. It’s classic Latinx machismo. Mateo isn’t an evil villain, he’s a regular man raised to be someone in a position of power over those he oppresses, which is a realistic kind of evil.

There are so many complex and important details that make WSTDOF such an incredible book. This doesn’t even cover the poignant narration from Dani’s perspective. Dani’s a narrator who keeps her emotions pretty much close to her chest, so when she divulges them to the audience it steals your breath away. By the end of the book, she’s changed so much from the rigid girl wishing away her powerlessness. It proves to be hard, but she continues despite many setbacks. She’s a fighter, not in the kickass, The Hunger Games!Katniss Everdeen way; she’s a fighter in the way Laia in An Ember in the Ashes is, or like Katniss circa Mockingjay; she’s emotionally resourceful, playing out all the possible outcomes before sticking to one, which allows her to think on her feet when faced with a twist she didn’t see coming.

And there are twists in the story that you won’t see coming either. There isn’t much left for me to say that won’t seem like I’m repeating myself at this point or end up spoiling the book, but trust me, you’ll want to read this book. Then, you can join me in the torture of having to wait for the next installment of this duology.

Thank you to Cecilia Cackley of East City Bookshop, a women-owned independent community bookstore in Washington D.C, once again for sending me this copy. Consider pre-ordering WSTDOF from this store! The book comes out February 26th, 2019. 

My Online Friend Picks My TBR

aka: The One Where Carolina Calls Me Out

Is there anything more sentimental and touching than gifting someone you appreciate a book you know they’ll love? Recently, fab book bloggers Fadwa @wordwoonders & Laura @bbliophile gave each other five books to read in 2019. My fantastic blogger friend and confidante Carolina @santanareads reached out and wished for us to do the same for each other. Of course, I’m thrilled to be a part of this!

I sent her five books, and she sent me five other books to read in 2019. We limited the books to ones we already had in our possession or were planning to read anyway. If you wanna know which five I sent her, you should check out her blog and find out there.

Here are the five she sent me and the reasoning behind each with my reaction to each one in blockquotes:

  • Running With Lions by Julian Winters – “When I saw this in Adri’s list, I legitimately jumped because I loved this book so much. It is absolute gay excellence, the haters-to-lovers romance is just… *chef’s kiss*, the friendship dynamics in this novel are simply iconic, and the diversity is also top-notch. I just hope Adri ships Sebastian and Emir just as much as I did, or I’ll have a heart attack.”

I’m already about 9% into this book since I started reading during my trip, but forgot after I returned. So I’m gonna read this first because I already have started it!

    Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake- “This is one of the most stunning books I read last year, and yes, it is definitely a tough read, but when she’s in the mood for it, I need her to pick it up immediately because it is a beautifully raw but tender examination of rape culture, trauma, and sexual assault that should be required reading for everyone, to be honest. I know this story will break her heart and mend it at the same time.”  
  • I loved How to Make a Wish, which already dealt with pretty heavy topics (abusive mom, death, grief, among other things). When this book came out I really wanted to get into, but I know that it deals with sexual assault, which is a tricky thing for me to read about. But, because I already know the topic and have read plenty of trigger warnings, I feel ready to tackle it at some point this year! Thanks to Caro, now I have an extra shove.

    • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez – “This was the first book in which I ever saw myself as a Latinx teen and it is just, sososososo good. It actually breaks my heart a bit Adri still hasn’t read this. It is such a fantastic coming-of-age story, with characters that jump out of the page because of the realness there is to them. It’s sad but also full to the brim with Latinidad, and I have a good feeling she’ll enjoy it.”
  • God, I know. I feel awful about my waiting around to read this book. I’ve had this book for about a year. It’s about time I read it. 
    • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo- “I didn’t really love The Poet X, but I completely and utterly understand why it’s so hyped by everyone and their mother. It is beautifully written, and knowing how much Adri loves poetry, my gut tells me that this National Book Award winner will, for sure, become a new favorite.” 
  • I love Elizabeth Acevedo’s poetry! I can’t wait to read this! I bought it while still in Spain, and I didn’t really have time to get into it. but I know that once I start it it will be extremely difficult for me to finish.
    • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia- “This was one of my least favorite books of 2018… why is it on this list? As they say, curiosity killed the cat, and it may end up killing Adri too as she reads this book. I literally picked it because I’m too curious to see whether she’ll like it as much as me, end up loving it, or just out-right hating it. One thing I know is that I’m definitely looking forward to discussing our differences regarding this this novel with her.” 
  • Confession: I actually started this book last year at the behest of another friend and I abandoned the book halfway through. I got bored with the MC, and I skipped to the end to know what happened. However, I kinda wanna finish it, just to be able to say I finished it.
  • I’m so excited to dive into these reads during the year. I’m banning myself from buying any books, because when I sent Caro the list of books I had but hadn’t read I felt something like shame. I swear it’s not my fault. I’m sometimes such a slow reader. Hopefully with this challenge and Year of the Asian I can trim my TBR some more and change them to a ACTUALLY READ pile.

    How about you? Are you thinking of doing something similar with your friends?