I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Caffeine Book Tours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here.
Amparo Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. Her short story comic, “What Remains in The Dark,” appears in the Eisner Award-winning anthology Puerto Rico Strong (Lion Forge, 2018), and SAVING CHUPIE, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with HarperCollins in Winter 2022. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in Psychology from the UPR’s Río Piedras campus. When she’s not teaching ESL to her college students, she’s teaching herself Korean, devouring as much young adult fiction as she can, and writing about Latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical.
Experience the World Cup with dragons in this debut fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which riders and their steeds compete in an international sports tournament.
Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.
Thoughts and Themes: The first thing that I thought when I saw this book and read the first few lines was this reminds me so much of How to Train Your Dragon which I love. Once I made that connection I was not able to put this book down even when I had to because sleep is something I need. This book also reminded me of the soccer world cup that comes every 4 years and while I don’t really watch it my family does so I have fond memories of the game.
I really enjoyed the world building that is not just done through the story but also in the passages that are included in between chapters. I loved getting to see how so many different countries were involved throughout this book and how their dragons were all unique. I thought it was great to see all of their differences and how these dragons would only bond with those that were from that country. All of the dragons included were amazing and you never got the sense that one of these countries was greater than the other, just that they all had their advantages.
I was quite shocked with how quickly an important aspect to the story is revealed to us all and was a bit worried that this revelation would make the rest of the story fall flat but I am glad I was wrong. I think this revelation coming early on really sets the stage for the rest of the story and makes it so that everything else that happens is more interesting.
Characters: I loved getting to know all of the characters throughout this book even if they are all shown through Lana’s perspective. I thought it was great that we not only get to meet her team mates but other team mates, and people from her life prior to joining the team. I thought watching her be torn between those two worlds really adds to the story and her background as a character.
Some of the other characters I was glad that were included were all of the political people that we met throughout. I was worried that the political storyline would be too much but I actually really enjoyed that being tied up with everything. I think that it made good commentary about athletics and politics and how everything we do is inherently political.
I also loved that there were so many queer characters in this story and how they were all amazing characters. This really added to my love for this book because I love seeing queer characters just living their lives and in this case being athletes and riding dragons. Seeing queer characters in fantasy books is always a plus for me because then I can see a little bit of me in a different world, one in which I could be among dragons.
Writing Style: This story is told through Lana’s perspective and while I would have liked to see what the others thoughts were throughout I liked that we didn’t. Us being given only her perspective added to the mystery of what was happening and made me feel worried for her at all times.
Alyssa Roat studied professional writing at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She has had 200+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 800 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids to HOOKED to Crosswalk.com. She writes about 250-300 articles a year. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in 2019, and the sequel “Den” released in 2020. The final installment Vision releases in August 2021. Her superhero romance she co-wrote with Alyssa Roat releases from INtense Publications in September 2020. Sequel Dear Henchman set to release in April 2021. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on Instagram and Twitter @hopebolinger. Find out more about her at hopebolinger.com
TWEET CUTE X I HATE EVERYONE BUT YOU
Up-and-coming teen superhero Cortex is on top of the world—at least, until his villain dumps him. If he’s going to save his reputation, he needs a new antagonist, and fast.
Meanwhile, the villainous Vortex has once again gotten a little overeager and taken out a hero prematurely. Will any young hero be able to keep up with her? Maybe she should work on finding a steady relationship with an enemy she won’t kill in the first round.
So the two turn to Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains, where they match right away. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops, practicing their fight choreography, and hiring henchmen to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they begin to realize they have a lot more in common than just names that annoyingly rhyme.
But not everything in the superhero world is as it seems. Who are the real heroes and villains? And just how fine of a line is there between love and hate? When darkness from the past threatens them both, Cortex and V may need to work together to make it out alive.
Publication Date: September 28,2020
Thank you to the authors of Dear Hope, Alyssa Roat and Hope Bolinger for the chance to interview them about their new upcoming book, Dear Hero.
1). For those who are meeting you both for the first time what would you say are 3 “Good To Know” Facts About You?
Hope: Oooh boy, ok.I dress up in costumes and walk around in them in my downtown for no reason. 2) I don’t sleep to alarms. In first grade, I trained myself to use the pineal gland to wake me up at the same time each morning. 3) I play handbells, one of the hottest instruments since the lyre.
Alyssa: I think Hope beat me to the wacky ones, so I’m going to be a little less exciting. 1. If I could live anywhere, I would move to London ASAP. 2. I was going to go into medicine until my mom encouraged me to pursue my dreams as a writer as a career path, and we can all thank her for that. 3. I don’t understand why it isn’t socially acceptable to be nocturnal.
2). What would you say are your 5 favorite books – and why?
Hope: Yikes, this is hard. I think it changes on the daily. I do know books in my top five are The Great Gatsby (beautiful symbolism), The Book Thief (wonderful book, such a clever voice), The Percy Jackson Series (because, why not?), The Woods by R.L. Toalsen (shows grief in a poignant way), and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction, but she makes it enticing).
Alyssa: Why would you ask such a mean question? I’m going to have to go with Pride and Prejudice (a masterpiece of wit and social critique), To Kill A Mockingbird (one of the most compelling narrative voices in all of literature), The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (yes I’m counting that as one; the worldbuilding is outstanding and the plot twists are on point), The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis (you have to read it like five times, it makes you think so much), and The Giver by Lois Lowry (beautiful voice, haunting philosophical questions).
3). Would you say that any of those books/authors inspired you to become a writer? If so, how? If not, what did inspire you to become a writer?
Hope: Oh, for sure. Good reading inspires good writing. But what did inspire me to write actually came in the form of a friend from high school. They wrote books, and I wanted to talk with them about something other than Doctor Who. So I wrote books. The rest is history.
Alyssa: I started dictating stories to my parents when I was small; by kindergarten, I was writing them myself, even if my block letters were nearly illegible. I think The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and the DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul were the main books that convinced me I wanted to be an author. I don’t know exactly when I decided for sure, but I have vivid memories of declaring to my teacher in fourth grade that I was going to be an author someday.
4). Tell us a little bit about Dear Hero and your inspiration behind the story?
Hope: Sure! So Dear Hero follows the story of a villain and a hero who match in a nemesis-pairing app. They fight behind coffee shops, but they don’t expect to fall in love. When a shadow organization haunts both of them and their pasts, they may have to team up to make it out alive. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment we got inspired. Alyssa and I had some parody YA twitter accounts where we made fun of YA and superhero cliches and tropes. My friend was also on a dating app at the time, and we saw quite a few superhero movies come out that year. Everything clicked together, so we hopped on a Google doc and started writing.
Alyssa: What if being a hero or a villain was a career path like any other? What if it involved building your social media platform and fighting bigger and better nemeses for clout? At that point, what does it even mean to be a hero or a villain? I think a lot of our own Millennial/Gen Z (Zillennial?) experience played into it as well. Turns out, becoming a hero or a villain as a teenager is a lot like the real world.
5). Your story starts off in the virtual world. Why did you choose that as the setting for your book? Did our current pandemic have anything to do with your choice in the setting?
Hope: Well, we wrote the book back in 2018, so we didn’t foresee any global pandemic happening. But because it’s mostly over text message (with some voice-to-text thrown in during the action sequences) it had to be virtual. We’d also noticed a number of storytelling apps like HOOKED that have millions of readers that tell stories only through virtual chat format.
Alyssa: Our original idea involved hero/villain pen pals, but we wanted it to be snappier, with better dialogue, so we modernized the concept. The idea of a hero/villain pairing app was too funny to pass up. By the time the pandemic hit, our book was already contracted with our publisher and in the editing phase.
6). What was something about Dear Hero that you struggled to write or come up with?
Hope: I wouldn’t necessarily say we struggled a lot. Alyssa and I write well together. But the most difficult part was we were working 5 jobs collectively that summer and had a three-hour time difference between us. Most of the difficulty came in finding a good time to write.
Alyssa:We wanted to include action scenes, but how to do that in a text-based format? We scratched our heads a bit. Cue the superhero gadgets and speech-to-text. We had a lot of fun with the quirks that come from software like that, onomatopoeias, and techie characters.
7). What would you say was the most surprising thing that you learned while writing your novel?
Hope:For me personally, it was that I can improvise and “pants” my writing far more than I realized. I’m usually a plotter, but because we both wrote this in real-time, and Alyssa is more of a pantser, I had to learn to let go of some of the control of an outline. It really did pay off. I’m completely in love with the finished product.
Alyssa: I learned how much fun it is to co-write. It’s a great way to avoid writer’s block; if you can’t think of something, your co-writer can. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and a control freak, but with a writer I respect and trust like Hope, it was a ton of fun giving up part of the reins and wondering what hilarious thing she would come up with next.
8). What do you hope your readers take away from reading Dear Hero?
Hope: Besides laughter, we’d love for readers to reevaluate what it means to be a hero versus a villain. The book often flips the definitions of both on their heads, showing everyone has a little of hero and villain inside of them.
Alyssa: I’d say, don’t let society put you in a box or tell you who you are. Choose your own identity, and don’t bow to stereotypes. Everyone around you is more complex than they might first seem.
9). What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
Hope: Ohhh boy, I’ll try to keep this short. I have a trilogy out, and the third book, Vision, releases next year with Illuminate YA. The sequel to Dear Hero, Dear Henchman, releases next April. In addition to that, I have about six other books out on submission with publishers. Depending if any of them get acquired, that will determine what I write next (since most of those have sequels).
Alyssa: Most relevant here, our sequel Dear Henchman releases April 2021. The first book in my YA contemporary fantasy trilogy, Wraithwood, releases June 2021, and in my spare time (ha!) I’ve been working on a low fantasy inspired by a mix of the Sonoran Desert where I grew up and ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, and Israelite culture (weird mix, I know!).
10). What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Hope: I always feel like I could write a book for this question alone. My best advice is to trust the process. It will take a lot longer than you anticipate. Publishing involves a lot of stop and go, and a heck of a lot of hustle.
Alyssa: Take every opportunity you can. You’re going to have to take on a lot of gigs you don’t like before you get to where you want to be (cough cough, my stint in journalism). And right when you’ve had it and you’re about the throw in the towel, that tends to be when you hit a breakthrough, if you just hang on.
I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear our Voices Book Tour . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here.
Publisher: Imprint Release Date: September 22nd 2020 Genre: YA Paranormal Anthology
Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!
In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.
Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.
I normally review books by talking about my thoughts and themes, the characters, and then the writing style. This review has to be a little different thought as there isn’t just one story being told by one person, but a range of stories being told by different people, meaning the characters change constantly and the writing style varies from page to page.
I’ve always been a fan of vampires because of their mysterious nature and all the they can stand for that this book does a great job of exploring. I love how each of the stories that are included in this book talks about different characteristics about vampires and the different lore that is around about them. The vampires in this book all differ from one story to the next and that is part of what is intriguing about this book, you never know what you are in for.
While there were stories that left me wanting more from them, I did think that they all wrapped up well. Something that I enjoyed was the pieces that were included after a story that gave a slight explanation of the story. I really enjoyed these for the stories that I wasn’t sure if I got the message the author wanted me to but I also liked that each posed a question.
I thought about how to review this book and the best way for me to do this is by giving you a short review of each of the stories in this book.
Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton
This story talks about the transformation into a vampire and puts a different twist on it as the main character is given 7 days to decide if she wants to make the full transformation into a vampire. This story goes a little into the topics of grief, loss, and moving on. I liked that this story gave you a bisexual or pansexual main character, and also introduces a transgender vampire too.
Mirrors, Windows, and Selfies by Mark Oshiro
This story was one of my favorites and brought me back to my years as a teenager when I spent all my time on Xanga (blog site). I was brought back to those days where I felt alone and as if the only people who could understand me were the people I was blogging for or the people whose blogs I was reading.
I really enjoyed reading about the superstitions surrounding mirrors and also getting to learn about why vampires can’t see themselves in them. I also thought it was great to be able to think about Cisco’s parents keeping secrets from him and in a way hiding him from himself.
The House of Black Sapphire by Dhonielle Clayton
This is one of the stories that I was glad a explanation came after because while I liked the story I wasn’t sure what the messaging was supposed to be or what I was supposed to question. I liked that this story brought in other beings not just the vampires and we got to see how they interacted with vampires. I thought it was interesting to see the house reimagined as coffin as I did not understand that point until after the description and that made the re-reading of this story so much better.
The Boys from Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse
This is another one of my favorite stories and this is one that I had to put the book down for because I made the mistake of trying to read at night and in the dark. I loved how spooky the setting of this one is and how these vampires appeared to be good at first but then things suddenly changed. I liked how this made you think about sacrifice and what you are willing to sacrifice.
Senior Year sucks by Julie Murphy
I was glad to be able to read a story in which we get a body positive character who is confident about themselves. I loved that this story centered around a vampire slayer who was not your typical slayer. I liked reading about her encounter with Alma as it was funny and cute. I wanted more of this story so that I could get more of these two.
The Boy and the Bell by Heidi Heiling
In this story you get a transgender main character who is trying to study in order to become a doctor. I liked how this story focuses on the ways people would try to ensure that the dead didn’t become vampires in the past. I thought this was a great take on the Victorian era when they would bury the dead with a breathing tube and a bell so that they can ask for help if they were not dead. I liked that it was a take on this gone terribly bad for the main character and how this time maybe he wishes that this way of burying people was not a thing.
In Kind by Kayla Whaley
TW: Caregiver Abuse
What I really liked about this one was the idea that even if the main character became a vampire it didn’t suddenly mean that she could walk. I liked that the main character felt that if that was granted to her it would take away part of who she is and she would not longer be herself. This story makes you think about people’s takes on disabilities and being disabled and how their lives are not any less valuable due to those disabilities.
A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed
I liked this books take on colonialism and how to go about getting rid of those people but also being careful not to colonize a place as well. I thought that many of the pieces of this story were funny and light, and liked the way they were easing the new vampire into being a vampires. I liked the references that were made to Indian culture and how this story talks about tourists who come in and do not respect the culture.
Bestiary by Laura Ruby
I liked the way the main character in this story connected to animals. This one was a bit slower for me and one that I wasn’t as much enjoying as the others. I did like some aspects of it and liked the transformation piece about it and thinking about what animal I would transform into if I were a vampire.
Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker
This story goes back and forth between two characters who are best friends. I really enjoyed the back and forth between these two and how she comes to the rescue of her friend. It really spoke on the value of friendship and what you are willing to do for others.
First Kill by Victoria “V.E.” Schwab
I loved the back and forth between the two characters in this one and the idea that they can both be the “bad guy”. I loved having both a vampire and a hunter in this story. This story left me wanting more from both of these characters. I want to know more and I need to know what happens, who wins?
Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Way to Rio Luna. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars: Clone Wars Stories of Light and Dark, and Come On In. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old. She is the co-host of the writing podcast, Deadline City, with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she’s not working on her next novel, she’s finding a new adventure.
Natalie C. Parker grew up in a Navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan. Now, she lives surprisingly far from any ocean on the Kansas prairie with her wife where she writes and edits books for teens including the acclaimed Seafire trilogy.
Dhonielle Clayton was born in the suburbs of Washington, DC and spent her childhood Saturdays at the comic book store with her father and most evenings hiding beneath her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books. She earned a BA in English at Wake Forest University. She was an English teacher for three years and worked with educational curriculum. Being surrounded by children, Dhonielle re-discovered her love of children’s literature and earned a masters in children’s and young adult literature from Hollins University. Currently, she is working on both middle grade and young adult novel projects. She moved to NYC where she earned her MFA at the New School’s MFA Program. She is co-founder of CAKE Literary, a literary development studio committed to bringing diversity to high concept content.
Tessa Gratton is the author of adult SFF The Queens of Innis Lear and Lady Hotspur from Tor Books, as well as the YA series The Blood Journals and The United States of Asgard. Her most recent YA is the original fairy tale Strange Grace from McElderry Books and the upcoming Night Shine. Tessa’s novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-two languages, nominated twice for the Tiptree Award, and several have been Junior Library Guild Selections. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife.
Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark. She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now. In her debut, The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.
Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time.
When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure.
Mark Oshiro is the author of Anger is a Gift (Tor Teen), winner of the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award and nominated for a 2019 Lammy Award (in the LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult category). Upcoming novels include Each of Us a Desert (Tor Teen), a YA Fantasy novel out September 15, 2020, and The Insiders (Harper Collins), a MG Contemporary with magical elements out Fall 2021. When they are not writing, crying on camera about fictional characters for their online Mark Does Stuff universe, or traveling, Mark is busy trying to fulfill their lifelong goal: to pet every dog in the world.
Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes bestselling and Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.
Her novel Trail of Lightning (Book 1 in the Sixth World Series) won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and is a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy finalist. It was also selected as an Amazon, B&N, Library Journal, and NPR Best Books of 2018, among others. Book 2 in the Sixth World Series, Storm of Locusts, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, is a Locus Award Finalist, and has been named an Amazon, Powell’s, and Audible Best of 2019. Her novel, Resistance Reborn, is part of Star Wars: Journey to The Rise of Skywalker and a USA Today and NYTimes bestseller. Her middle grade novel Race to the Sun for the Rick Riordan Present’s imprint was a New York Times Bestseller and received a starred review from Kirkus. Her next novel is an epic Fantasy set in a secondary world inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas called Black Sun, out Oct 13, 2020.
She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pups. She drinks a lot of black coffee.
A two-time National Book Award Finalist, Laura Ruby writes fiction for adults, teens and children. She is the author of the Printz Medal Winning novel Bone Gap, as well as Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All. Other works include the Edgar®-nominated children’s mystery Lily’s Ghosts, the ALA Quick Pick for teens Good Girls (2006), a collection of interconnected short stories about blended families for adults, I’m not Julia Roberts (2007), and the York trilogy. She is on the faculty of Hamline University’s Masters in Writing for Children Program. She makes her home in the Chicago area.
Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”
Kayla Whaley lives outside Atlanta, Georgia where she buys too many books and drinks too many lattes. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Tampa and is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. She was named one of Bustle‘s inaugural “Rule Breakers” in 2018.
Whether writing fiction, nonfiction, or the extremely occasional poem, she is fascinated by disability, sexuality, and the body. Among other venues, her work has appeared at Catapult, Bustle, Michigan Quarterly Review, Uncanny Magazine, Book Riot, and in the anthologies Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World (Algonquin) and Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).
She has also appeared on the first season of Reese Witherspoon’s podcast How It Is and Slate’s popular Dear Prudence podcast.
Whaley spent four years as senior editor at Disability in Kidlit, an award-winning site dedicated to examining portrayals of disability in middle grade and young adult fiction, and she is currently on the Advisory Board for Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, a peer-reviewed journal published by St. Catherine University. She also holds a Master’s in Public Administration, which is languishing somewhere in her closet, so the less said about that, the better.
I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear our Voices Book Tour . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here.
Tehlor Kay Mejia is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult fantasy novel We Set the Dark on Fire as well as its sequel, We Unleash the Merciless Storm; Miss Meteor (co-written with National Book Award nominee Anna-Marie McLemore); and her middle grade debut, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears.
Her debut novel received six starred reviews and was chosen as an Indie Next Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection, as well as being an IndieBound bestseller in the Pacific Northwest region. It has been featured in Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and O The Oprah Magazine and named a best book of 2019 by Kirkus and School Library Journal.
Tehlor lives in Oregon with her daughter, two very small dogs, and several rescued houseplants.
Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Anna-Marie is the author of The Weight of Feathers, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award; Wild Beauty, a Kirkus Best Book of 2017; and Blanca & Roja, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Dark and Deepest Red, a reimagining of “The Red Shoes” based on true medieval events, will be released in January 2020
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 Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.
Thoughts and themes: After reading several books that had me deep in my feelings it was nice to read something that was joyful. I love that this book is all about family and friendship and how important having a support system can be. I really loved the way that friendship was centered throughout the story and how each character found their strength from these friendships.
I thought it was great that the story centered around Lita disappearing and trying to figure out how to stop that from happening. I thought it was great that she struggled with realizing why the stardust would leave at times and other times more of it would appear. I don’t want to ruin too much so I can’t elaborate on this point but it is a great addition to this story.
Characters: There are several characters that are involved in this book and I really enjoy all of them. You have the main characters Chicky and Lita who are sweet, funny, lovable characters. I love how relatable these two characters are and how their friendship started, falls apart and repairs itself. I thought that the secrets that they kept from each other really added to the story and I loved how Lita made it clear that she never would have asked Chicky to reveal a part of herself that she wasn’t ready to share.
I love the side characters that are included as well, Junior and Cole add a lot to the story and I love that Lita and Chicky have these two guys who have their back no matter what. I love what this friendship means to all of them and how you can see the feelings are there but their friendship comes first.
I like that you get a transgender character as a side character who has a sister who is dating the guy bullying Chicky and Lita. I thought his reaction to Royce and his sister were very important and then loved when he finally stood up for himself. I liked that through the whole book he was concerned with other people and making sure they never felt like they didn’t belong but he put himself aside until he realized that he didn’t have to.
Writing Style: This book goes back and forth from the perspective of Lita and Chicky and is told in first person for both of them. I thought this was a great way to tell the story so that you can see both of their feelings about everything that happens throughout the course of the book. I liked being able to know how they both felt at a particular moment or see what was happening in scenes where not both of them were present. I thought it was great that a scene would play through and then it would play again differently because of who was telling the story.
Marieke Nijkamp is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of YA novels, graphic novels, and comics, including This Is Where It Ends, Before I Let Go, Even If We Break, and The Oracle Code. Her short stories can be found in several anthologies. She also edited the anthology Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens.
Marieke is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, and geek. Before pursuing her lifelong passion for writing, she majored in philosophy and medieval history. She loves to go on adventures, roll dice, and daydream. She lives and writes in Small Town, The Netherlands.
FIVE friends go to a cabin. FOUR of them are hiding secrets. THREE years of history bind them. TWO are doomed from the start. ONE person wants to end this. NO ONE IS SAFE.
Are you ready to play?
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.
Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoyed how this book is supposed to be a game that the characters are playing yet it turns out to be a murder mystery instead. It is as if they are now playing a game within a game.
I thought that the build up from the start of the book until the first event outside of their game occurs was great. I was invested in learning more about each of these characters and their backstory. I felt for them as things continued to happen to each one of them throughout the book.
I really enjoyed the book as things started happening to the characters and at one point this became a book to only read during the day. The book was not only a spooky book but was also full of suspense. I really enjoyed reading to see what would happen to the characters but also reading to see what their secrets were. I liked that this book had multiple layers to it and there were many things that were being kept not just from the reader but from each of the characters.
Characters: This book cycles through several different main characters to tell each of their stories on their own and with each other. At first I did have a hard time remembering who was who but as the book progressed I was able to differentiate between them because of their different characteristics.
This book has transgender rep , non-binary rep , chronic pain rep, disability rep, autism rep, and bisexual rep. I really enjoyed that there was not just one trans/non-binary character and we got two of them. I thought those characters were done well and really liked how these were not the central point of the story. While the characters being trans/non-binary added to the interactions between characters I liked that it wasn’t a central plot.
I also really liked the autism rep in this book that is shown through Maddy. I liked how her friend group responded to her actions and how they didn’t put her aside because she is autistic. I like how they were able to figure out how to use her autism as something that could help them in their game. I really liked her reaction to when things got overwhelming and how her friends reacted to her being overwhelmed. Something else that I really enjoyed with this character is that she is multi dimensional and is so much more than her autism.
Writing style: When books go back and forth between characters as well as change in time I tend to get a bit confused and can’t follow the story. I was pleased to find that this was not the case in this book.
I enjoyed hearing things from each of the characters perspectives and liked that they all brought something different to the story. I also liked how you got to see some of the past to learn why the characters treated each other in certain manners and why they carried themselves certain ways.
You can purchase this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library starting today.
I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Colored Pages Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here.
Mark Oshiro is the author of Anger is a Gift (Tor Teen), winner of the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award and nominated for a 2019 Lammy Award (in the LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult category). Upcoming novels include Each of Us a Desert (Tor Teen), a YA Fantasy novel out September 15, 2020, and The Insiders (Harper Collins), an MG Contemporary with magical elements out Fall 2021. When they are not writing, crying on camera about fictional characters for their online Mark Does Stuff universe, or traveling, Mark is busy trying to fulfill their lifelong goal: to pet every dog in the world.
Title: Each of Us a Desert Author: Mark Oshiro Publisher: Tor Teen Publication Date: September 15th, 2020 Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
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.
Thoughts and Themes: I don’t know if I have any words to describe this book and how beautiful it is. I loved so many parts of this book but my favorite thing was how this book was written. I liked that the book was written as a prayer to Xochitl’s God and how you got to see that relationship change through the course of the book. This part of the book felt like going home to me and felt familiar to me. It is hard to describe how much impact this book has and how connected I felt with the story. I feel like this is one of those books where everyone who reads it is going to read a different story and get something different from it and I think those are the best books.
My favorite part about this book is the discussion about the truth and when Xochitl finds out the truth. I thought it was beautiful to see her struggle with what the truth it and try to figure out what was true, what she knows or what other people were now telling her. I thought it was good to see how the truth could change her relationship with Solis and how she struggled with what that would mean. I liked seeing that there isn’t one “right answer” when it comes to faith and belief systems, and how there can be multiple truths that don’t cancel out each other.
I also liked that the main focus of this book is Xochitl finding her place in the world and realizing that she is not defined by what she can give to others. I liked watching as she discovers that there is more to the world than taking on others pain and suffering, and how she can learn to also feel for herself without losing the community aspect that being a cuentista gave her.
Characters: I thought that everyone you meet throughout this book added a lot to the story whether they were there for a few pages or the majority of the book. I liked getting to know Xochitl throughout the book and hear about her relationship with others. I also enjoyed the introduction of Emilia to the book and how that affected Xochitl.
While the love story between Xochitl and Emilia isn’t the main focus of the story, I also thought that it added to the story. I liked that their relationship was slow and subtle throughout the book. I thought it was great to see how their growth as individuals contributed to the growth of their relationship with each other.
Writing Style: This book is written in many different formats, you get the perspective from Xochitl as she talks to her God, Solis, you get some poems included throughout the story, and there are stories from other people being shared with Xochitl and Solis included as well. I liked that this book included so many different forms of writing and how all these forms worked with each other to tell the story.
I recommend this to those of you who enjoy books with interpersonal growth and character development.
Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).
Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.
Pub Date: September 22, 2020
Two Finished Copies of The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life. The giveaway ends on September 15th. Click here to enter.
Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for allowing me to be a part of this book tour, and thank you to Netgalley,and Second Story Press for the advanced reading copy so I could share my review with you all.
I was a bit worried about reading this one because of the focus on Shakespeare and knowing how much I am not a fan of him. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this book even if I’m unsure if this book resembles the Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night Dream.
Thoughts and Themes: I actually really enjoyed this book and liked the struggle that Alison has with being out but also being closeted. While she is out to her best friend and family, they are the only ones who know about this. I know one of the issues that people may have with this book is the lack of the use of the word lesbian but I felt that this is a choice that was made because of the main character.
I thought it was important that Alison never really referred to herself as a lesbian and just kept saying gay or referencing that she didn’t like men. I think that this really added to the complexity of her figuring out how to let others know and how her being unable to put the label on herself contributes to this.
Characters: In this book you get a range of characters and I thought that was great. I thought it was good to see that you had different races/ethnic groups represented through the different characters. I really like all of the characters that are introduced throughout the book and especially enjoy their interactions with each other. I liked the relationship that Alison has with her friends and how supportive they are of her in the thing that she enjoys.
Something else that I liked is the way that Alison has to deal with the mistakes that she makes with her friends and others. I like reading as she deals with this and grows as a person through these errors that she makes. I like how you get to see the complexity behind some of these characters anger towards Alison and how she doesn’t seem to always understand their anger.
Writing Style: This book is told in the perspective of Alison and you don’t really get to know anything from the others. I thought this was great because you get to see a lot of the things that are happening in her head as it is told in first person.
When C.M. McGuire, author of Ironspark, was a child, she drove her family crazy with her nonstop stories. Lucky for them, she eventually learned to write and gave their ears a rest. This love of stories led her to college where she pursued history (semi-nonfictional storytelling), anthropology (where stories come from) and theater (attention-seeking storytelling). When she isn’t writing, she’s painting, crocheting, gardening, baking, and teaching the next generation to love stories as much as she does.
A teen outcast must work together with new friends to keep her family and town safe from murderous Fae while also dealing with panic attacks, family issues, and a lesbian love triangle in C.M. McGuires’s kick-butt paranormal YA debut, Ironspark.
For the past nine years, ever since a bunch of those evil Tinkerbells abducted her mother, cursed her father, and forced her family into hiding, Bryn has devoted herself to learning everything she can about killing the Fae. Now it’s time to put those lessons to use.
Then the Court Fae finally show up, and Bryn realizes she can’t handle this on her own. Thankfully, three friends offer to help: Gwen, a kindhearted water witch; Dom, a new foster kid pulled into her world; and Jasika, a schoolmate with her own grudge against the Fae.
But trust is hard-won, and what little Bryn has gained is put to the test when she uncovers a book of Fae magic that belonged to her mother. With the Fae threat mounting every day, Bryn must choose between faith in her friends and power from a magic that could threaten her very humanity.
There was so much to love in this book from the world building to the characters and more. I’m so glad I was given a chance to be a part of this book tour through TBR and Beyond Tours. Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours, Netgalley and SwoonReads for the advanced copy of the book so that I could participate in this book tour.
Thoughts and Themes: My favorite part of this book was the world building and the fantasy elements. I loved all the magic that was included throughout the book and how this world got more complex as you read on. I liked learning about all the different fae that Byrd and her friends encountered and how they all interacted amongst themselves. I thought it was great to see how they all were the same but also very different and some were good and others weren’t.
I’m really hoping that there is a sequel to this book because I can’t just have Byrd’s story end the way that it did. I need to know what happens after this ending, I need to know what happens not just to Byrd but to everyone else that we met along the way. I need to know how things wrap up if they even do wrap up.
Characters: I loved getting to learn about this world as Dom, Jasika, and Byrd learned new things about it. I enjoyed how the characters exploration of themselves and who they are goes along with them learning about the world they are living in.
There’s a scene in which Dom, Byrd, and Jasika are in the church discussing their sexualities which I really enjoyed. I liked how it was a casual conversation that they had with each other and thought the setting was spot on.
I loved that this book has asexual representation through Dom and I liked how he’s an asexual who has had sex before. I thought it was great that we got to see that asexuality presents differently for each person. I thought it was also nice to see that Jasika was still figuring things out and Byrd was between bi/pan. It was very refreshing to see them both kind of figuring things out and being okay with not knowing yet.
Writing Style: I liked that this book was told in first person perspective because you can see how everything affects Byrd but you don’t see how her actions affect others until its late. I liked that we don’t really get to see what the others think about what Byrd does or how they fell. We really only get to see things happening from her perspective.
To see the rest of the posts that are a part of this blog tour click here.
Ari North is a queer cartoonist who believes an entertaining story should also be full of diversity and inclusion. As a writer, an artist, and a musician, she wrote, drew, and composed the music for Always Human, a complete romance/sci-fi webcomic about two queer girls navigating maturity and finding happiness. She’s currently working on a second webcomic, Aerial Magic, which is about the everyday lives of the witches who work at a broomstick repair shop. She lives in Australia with her husband.
Description of Book
In the near-future, people use technology to give the illusion of all kinds of body modifications — from different colored hair and eyes, to highly- technological implants that change the way they function in the world. But some people aren’t so lucky, plagued with a highly sensitive immune system that rejects these modifications. Maintaining a “natural” appearance, these social outcasts must rely on cosmetics hair dye in an attempt to fit in.
Sunati is attracted to Austen the first time she sees her and is drawn to what she assumes is Austen’s bravery and confidence to live life unmodded. When Sunati learns the truth, she’s still attracted to Austen and asks her on a date. Gradually, their relationship unfolds as they deal with friends, family, and the emotional conflicts that come with every romance. Together, they will learn and grow in a story that reminds us no matter how technology evolves, we will remain… always human.
First serialized on the popular app and website WebToon, Always Human ran from 2015-2017 and amassed over 76,000 unique subscribers during its run. Today, as an archived piece on the site, the title has always over 400,000 unique viewers. Reformatted for a print edition in sponsorship with GLAAD, this beautifully-drawn, soft sci-fi, queer graphic novel will available wherever books are sold in both paperback and hardcover formats.
I’m so happy to get to be a part of this book tour that is being hosted by Hear Our Voices Blog Tours.
Graphic novels have so many things that I can talk about and review. In the case of this book I really enjoyed not just the story that was being told but also the graphics of this novel.
I loved the art style of the book, I liked that I am able to tell the characters apart and they all look different from one another. I really liked how short each chapter was and how each of the panels are of different sizes. I thought that added to the way that the story was told and the feelings of the characters.
I enjoyed how this book depicted a healthy relationship between Sunati and Austen. I thought that it was great to see them have a few misunderstandings and get into arguments but be able to resolve them through communication. I really enjoyed how their feelings towards each other were clear from the start and they were open about discussing those feelings.
Something else that I enjoyed was the side characters that were included, it felt like the world they were living in was just made for queer people. I thought that all the characters we are introduced were queer added so much to the story and gave me more about the world that they live in.
I’m excited to get a chance to read more and learn more about each of the characters and the world that they live in.
You can see more posts that are a part of this book tour if you Click Here.
Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans, latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, useless trivia, Jenga, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Thank You to The Clever Reader for ensuring this book got into the hands of an own voices reviewer by passing along this book to me so that I could get a chance to read and review it early.
There are so many things to love about this book right from the start of it, well actually more like right from reading the blurb about it. I loved this book right from knowing the protagonist was a gay, Latinx, transgender guy. Books that have so many of my identities in one character are rare to find so I was just happy to be able to see myself in something that I was reading.
One of my favorite parts of this book is the conflict that Yadriel has with the love he has for his family and their unwillingness to accept him as a brujo. There is a portion where Julian questions who Yadriel is trying to be enough for and I put down the book to cry my eyes out at this. My family is so important to me and I feel like I hide so much of myself or make adjustments to who I am to be enough for them without questioning if I am now not being enough for myself. It is such a hard feeling to put into words but that scene just captured so many feelings in a few words.
I love the world building and the character development in this book. Each scene was well crafted and I could picture things as they were happening. The characters all had vivid descriptions of them and they all were easily identifiable. I loved how Yads changes through the course of the book as he learns to love not only someone else but himself as well. I thought that was such an important aspect that this book shows and really was the most important part to this book.
Dia De Muertos is not something that I am entirely familiar with as American culture was what was emphasized for me growing up so I don’t know the traditions of where my parents are from. I love getting to read about this holiday though because each book has a different way of describing it even though it comes down to being about celebrate our loved ones who have passed.
Books can usually make me tear up but not full on cry but this book had to be put down because of the tears. There is so much emotions packed into the last few pages of this book and I just couldn’t get enough. Not only are the last few pages packed with emotions but you get one twist right after another which I really enjoyed.
I really hope that you all go out and read this book that means so much to me. You can pre-order this book at: