Rebellious Sapphic Girls in YA Fantasy (Crier’s War Blog Tour and Giveaway!)

When you’re a rebellious girl in a fantasy setting, you’re defying certain power systems. If you add to that the fact that you’re a queer girl, you end up also going against patriarchal and heteronormative notions of desire.

In this post, brought to you by the Crier’s War Blog Tour (thanks to Karina from AfirePages), I’m talking about fantasy YA books where the main characters are both sapphic and rebelling against the systems they were born into. They all go about it in different ways, and I thought it would be interesting to put them under the microscope and analyze what makes them special (in my heart).

In the debut novel by Nina Varela, CRIER’S WAR, we follow two girls: Lady Crier and Ayla. Both girls are polar opposites and come from different worlds. In this world, beings named Automae (which are sort of cyborgs) have overthrown the humans who made them and rule over them cruel and mercilessly. 

Lady Crier is the daughter of Sovereign Hesod, ruler of their lands. Crier is betrothed to a man who seeks power and to eradicate humans from existence to prove how superior Automae are. On the other hand, Ayla is a human girl trying to make her way into the Automae’s castle in order to exact her revenge after her family was killed and she was left to be raised by rebels. When Ayla saves Crier’s life one fateful night, Crier seemingly can’t stop thinking about Ayla and decides to take Ayla on as her handmaiden. 

Even as there’s political intrigue going on, Crier seeks to be heard by her father and to join the ranks of the governing body. Ayla, however, still plots her revenge, wishing to take out the Sovereign Hesod and Crier’s fiancé as her feelings for Crier become muddled in her mind and heart. 

In a way, Crier learns how to be more human in learning how to love, while, Ayla’s struggling not to give into her burning desire to have revenge and also trying not to fall for her target. In the process, they come together in moments of silent appreciation and admiration, learning a bit of what makes the other tick, realizing that tenderness in the face of violence can be revolutionary in itself. 

If you’d like to read more YA books with sapphic girls and radical tenderness, here are some of my personal favorites:

  1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova- If you’re searching for a love story about your identity, coming to terms with it as you keep learning about yourself, and along the way fall in love with your best friend, then this is the perfect book for you. 
  2. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia- Sometimes you fall in love with the woman your husband is also married to, and that’s fine, especially when you’re spying on your husband and his family in the name of rebellion. And sometimes romance doesn’t have to look a certain way for it to be valid, which is important considering the patriarchal, machista fictional world of Medio.
  3. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust- If you like subdued contemporaries like We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, you’ll love this quiet fantasy based on Snow White, where the princess learns that love comes in different shapes and forms and tenderness isn’t always a romantic form of affection.
  4. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst- In the world of Denna and Mare, Denna is betrothed to Mare’s brother, yet is increasingly attracted to the fierce princess who’s teaching her how to ride horses as a metaphor about learning how to be independent. (Its sequel, Of Ice and Shadows, is available now as well!)

Purchase CRIER’S WAR here


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ID: [cover of Crier’s War by Nina Varela, it has golden detailing that’s very linear and in the center it reads “One mortal, one One Made– one loved, one betrayed” over the title. in the bottom there are two girls silhoutted and they’re reaching for the other’]

From debut author Nina Varela comes the first book in an Own Voices, richly imagined epic fantasy about an impossible love between two girls—one human, one Made—whose romance could be the beginning of a revolution.

Perfect for fans of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse as well as Game of Thrones and Westworld.

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

Author bio:

Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays and short fiction. She was born in New Orleans and raised on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood playing in the Eno River, building faerie houses from moss and bark, and running barefoot through the woods. These days, Nina lives in Los Angeles with her writing partner and their tiny, ill-behaved dog. She tends to write stories about hard-won love and young people toppling the monarchy/patriarchy/whatever-archy. On a related note, she’s queer. On a less related note, she has strong feelings about hushpuppies and loves a good jambalaya. CRIER’S WAR is her first novel.

You can find Nina at any given coffee shop in the greater Los Angeles area, or at


Latinx Fall Reads 2019 (or, #ReadandLatinx6)

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[id: chalkboard in background with Latinx Fall Reads 2019 in cursive font, @boricuareads underneath the 2019, #ReadLatinx 101 under that in chalk font; a blue backpack with colorful notebooks lays splayed on a dark wooden desk and next to it four books laying sideways: Strange Birds by Celia C. Pérez, The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite, and the tenth girl by Sara Faring]
Zip up your hoodies, put away the flip flops (for the love of God don’t even think of even wearing them with socks on) if you live somewhere cold, because the summer’s over and that means it’s now AUTUMN. Fall. Otoño.

School’s coming back into session if you do semesters, and perhaps you’ll have less time to read, but that doesn’t mean books go to sleep while you’re elsewhere. In fact, they come out stronger, tempting you to look away from your work so you can relish their words and escape into their world for a while. 

Last year, I had 40+ books to list out and I thought that was a lot. This time around, with more resources and knowledge, I was able to compile a list of ~90 books written or illustrated by Latinx. And they’re arriving just in time for Latinx Heritage Month (09/15-10/15) as well! 

If you’re interested in reading the past #ReadLatinx posts, scroll to the end for a list of them. I dub this list #ReadandLatinx6.

This list is comprised of books written and/or illustrated by Latinx that are being released between September 1st and November 28th. As always, it 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. Compare to other lists, the descriptions for books written from Early Middle Grade onward (with the exception of non-fiction and poetry) on this list will be sort-of in the style of AO3 tags, as an experiment (a huge thank you to Gabi @gabi_morataya on twitter for suggesting the change; they really allowed me to have fun with these lists rather than spelling out the specifics of it). 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, but if you noticed I slipped and added a book by someone who’s been accused of harassment of any kind, let me know so I can take them out of the list. This list is in no way an endorsement of the contents of each book, as I don’t have the knowledge of what is in each and every book. 

Continue reading “Latinx Fall Reads 2019 (or, #ReadandLatinx6)”

Author Interview with Dahlia Adler – His Hideous Heart Blog Tour

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[id: text reads “boricuareads interviews: Dahlia Adler for the His Hideous Heart Blog Tour. the background is grey and the book’s cover is in the middle of the banner]
Hi everyone! As a part of the His Hideous Heart blog tour, I agreed to do a post on my blog. Before I talk about the post, here’s a description of the anthology:

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation


Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in thirteen unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining “Ligeia”), Kendare Blake (“Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), amanda lovelace ( “The Raven”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

I agreed to do an interview with Dahlia Adler, the editor of the anthology as well as co-contributor. She wrote a sapphic retelling of Poe’s Ligeia, retitled Lygia in this collection. I’m still not over the story, and I rushed to talk to Dahlia about the process of writing for and editing this anthology as well as how it compared to contributing to other YA anthologies.

Here’s the result of this interview:

Continue reading “Author Interview with Dahlia Adler – His Hideous Heart Blog Tour”

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





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


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


  • 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.


An Open Letter to Latinx in Publishing


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?