Latinx Book Recs for Latinx Heritage Month 2021

This list is a bit late but I wanted to make sure that I put a list out for you all of some of the Latinx books that I have enjoyed this past year. This is only a few of the Latinx books that are out there and I want to make sure that we are not only reading Latinx books this month but throughout the year.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp 

I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter meets Emergency Contact in this stunning story of first love, familial expectations, the power of food, and finding where you belong.

Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans—leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that—a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.

This stunning and poignant novel from debut author Laekan Zea Kemp explores identity, found families and the power of food, all nestled within a courageous and intensely loyal Chicanx community.

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa 

A poignant, funny, openhearted novel about coming out, first love, and being your one and only best and true self.

Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life.

Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown—literally—out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self.

Then Mat, a cute, empathetic Twitter crush from Los Angeles, slides into Jules’s DMs. Jules can tell him anything. Mat makes the world seem conquerable. But when Jules’s fears about coming out come true, the person he needs most is fifteen hundred miles away. Jules has to face them alone.

Jules accidentally propelled himself into the life he’s always dreamed of. And now that he’s in control of it, what he does next is up to him.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado 

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland 

The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in this irresistible romance starring a Mexican American teen who discovers love and profound truths about the universe when she spends her summer on a road trip across the country.

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

Living Beyond Borders: Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria

Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Laura Perez, Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordáz, and Anna Meriano.

In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican American. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers. 

October To Be Read

Since I started school in August and am returning to in-person work, I thought I wouldn’t make my to be read list that extensive for this month. I don’t want to make a long list and then be disappointed with what I actually wind up reading. So for now the only things I for sure want to get through are these three books. Oh and maybe one more listening of my new favorite book.

The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller 

It’s the night of senior prom, and eighteen-year-old Julia has made a pact with her friends. (Yes, that kind of pact.) They have secured a secluded cabin in the woods, one night without parental supervision, and plenty of condoms. But as soon as they leave the dance, the pact begins to unravel. Alex’s grandmother is undergoing emergency surgery, and he and his date rush to the hospital. Zoe’s trying to figure out how she feels about getting off the waitlist at Yale–and how to tell her girlfriend. Madison’s chronic illness flares, holding her back once again from being a normal teenager. And Julia’s fantasy-themed role play gets her locked in a closet. Alternating between each character’s perspective and their ridiculous group chat, The Night When No One Had Sex finds a group of friends navigating the tenuous transition into adulthood and embracing the uncertainty of life after high school.

Obie Is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar 

A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn’t think being himself would cause such a splash. For fans of Alex Gino’s George and Lisa Bunker’s Felix Yz.

Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.

As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water–to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself.

Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Joshua Fields Millburn and  Ryan Nicodemus 

How might your life be better with less?

Imagine a life with less: less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent—a life with fewer distractions. Now, imagine a life with more: more time, more meaningful relationships, more growth and contribution and contentment—a life of passion, unencumbered by the trappings of the chaotic world around you. What you’re imagining is an intentional life. And to get there, you’ll have to let go of some clutter that’s in the way.

In Love People Use Things, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus move past simple decluttering to show how minimalism makes room to reevaluate and heal the seven essential relationships in our lives: stuff, truth, self, money, values, creativity, and people. They use their own experiences—and those of the people they have met along the minimalist journey—to provide a template for how to live a fuller, more meaningful life.

Because once you have less, you can make room for the right kind of more.

September Wrap-Up

I winded up reading a lot of books throughout the beginning of September but things slowed down once school picked up for me. Sorry that I’m bringing this to you all a bit late but I thought better late than never. I also didn’t wind up providing a review for a lot of these on here because they were so short.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell , Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator)

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Kat Leyh’s Snapdragon is a magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.

Snap’s town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a Crocs-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

Snap needs a favor from this old woman, though, so she begins helping Jacks with her strange work. Snap gets to know her and realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic—and an unlikely connection to Snap’s family’s past.

Love Is Love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting by Marc Andreyko (Contributor), Gabriel Bautista (Illustrator), Teddy Tenenbaum, Mike Huddleston (Illustrator), Judd Winick, Jeff Jensen, David López (Illustrator), ETC.

The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. Be a part of an historic comics event! It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love. 

The Infinite Noise (The Bright Sessions #1) by Lauren Shippen 

Lauren Shippen’s The Infinite Noise is a stunning, original debut novel based on her wildly popular and award-winning podcast The Bright Sessions.

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit. 

Fence, Vol. 1 (Fence #1-4) by C.S. Pacat , Johanna the Mad (Illustrator), Joana LaFuente (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer)

Combines Issues #1-4.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad.

Fence, Vol. 2 (Fence #5-8) by C.S. Pacat 

Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place on the Kings Row fencing team, alongside sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama, to win the right to go up against his golden-boy half-brother.

Tryouts are well underway at King’s Row for a spot on the prodigious fencing team, and scrappy fencer Nicholas isn’t sure he’s going to make the grade in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossibly odds, and his seemingly unstoppable roommate, the surly, sullen Seiji Katayama. It’ll take more than sheer determination to overcome a challenge this big!

From the superstar team of C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad comes the second volume of this acclaimed, dynamic series.

Fence, Vol. 3 (Fence #9-12) by C.S. Pacat , Johanna the Mad (Illustrator), Joana LaFuente (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer) 

Combines Issues #9-12.

Scrappy fencer Nicholas Cox comes to the end of his path to prove himself worthy of a father he never knew in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossible odds, and the talent of his rival, sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Sparks fly white-hot on the pitch as Nicholas and Seiji finally face off once again in the halls of King’s Row. It’s a match that will change King’s Row (and both of them!) forever, and set the stage as the team journeys to face their bitter rivals and prove themselves once and for all. 

The third volume of the breakneck series from writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad comes at you as fast as a parry and hits as hard as a strike. 

Rick and Morty, Vol. 1 (Rick and Morty (Collected Editions) #1) by Zac Gorman, C.J. Cannon (Contributor), Marc Ellerby (Contributor)

The hit comic book series based on Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s hilarious [adult swim] animated show Rick & Morty is now available in its first collection! Join the excitement as depraved genius Rick Sanchez embarks on insane adventures with his awkward grandson Morty across the universe and across time. Caught in the crossfire are his teenage granddaughter Summer, his veterinary surgeon daughter Beth, and his hapless son-in-law Jerry.

This collection features the first five issues of the comic book series, including “The Wubba Lubba Dub Dub of Wall Street,” “Mort-Balls!” and more, along with hilarious mini-comics showcasing the whole family.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed 

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez 

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to “make it,” for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez’ debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

You and Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne

This is no ordinary apocalypse…

Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too devastating for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.

Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.

Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation, but while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.

The Plain Janes (Janes #1-2 + Janes Attack Back) by Cecil Castellucci, Jim Rugg 

Meet the Plain Janes–artist activists on a mission to wake up their sleepy suburban town. This cult classic graphic novel is perfect for fans of The LumberJanes and Awkward.

When artsy misfit Jane Beckles is forced to leave her beloved city life behind for the boring suburb of Kent Waters, she thinks her life is over. But then she finds where she belongs: at the reject table in the cafeteria, along with fellow misfits Brain Jayne, Theater Jane, and sporty Polly Jane. United by only two things-a shared name and frustration with the adults around them–the girls form a secret club dedicated to fighting suburban apathy with guerrilla works of art scattered around their small town.

But for Main Jane, the group is more than simple teenaged rebellion; it’s an act of survival. She’s determined not to let fear rule her life like it does her parents’ and neighbors’ lives. Armed with her sketchbook and a mission of resistance, the PLAIN Janes are out to prove that passion, bravery, and a group of great friends can save anyone from the hell that is high school.

With each installment printed in its own distinct color, this volume includes the original two stories–The Plain Janes and Janes in Love–plus a never-before-seen third story, Janes Attack Back. The Janes are back, and better than ever.

Coo by Kaela Noel 

One young girl’s determination to save the flock she calls family creates a lasting impact on her community and in her heart.

Ten years ago, an impossible thing happened: a flock of pigeons picked up a human baby who had been abandoned in an empty lot and carried her, bundled in blankets, to their roof. Coo has lived her entire life on the rooftop with the pigeons who saved her. It’s the only home she’s ever known. But then a hungry hawk nearly kills Burr, the pigeon she loves most, and leaves him gravely hurt.

Coo must make a perilous trip to the ground for the first time to find Tully, a retired postal worker who occasionally feeds Coo’s flock, and who can heal injured birds. Tully mends Burr’s broken wing and coaxes Coo from her isolated life. Living with Tully, Coo experiences warmth, safety, and human relationships for the first time. But just as Coo is beginning to blossom, she learns the human world is infinitely more complex – and cruel – than she could have imagined. 

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles 

From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

 

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez Book Review

Book Description

An unforgettable young adult debut novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to make it, touching on themes of mental illness, sexual assault, food insecurity and gentrification, in the Nuyorican literary tradition of Nicholasa Mohr and the work of contemporary writer Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to girls who were taught to believe they would not make it at all. The verse is evocative and insightful, and readers are sure to be swept into Sarai’s world and rooting for her long after they close the book.

Review

Thank You to Penguin Random House for the advanced copy of this book as well as the finished copy so that I am able to review.

Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoy reading books in verse because of how different the stories go and how much emotion can be packed in. I like how Sarai is questioning so many of the things around her in this book and her place amongst everything and everyone.

I really liked how this story took you around the places Sarai was living in but also introduced you to her culture. I liked getting introduced to her culture through each verse and learning more about her and her family.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Sarai. You get to meet her mother, sister, and some of the other adults who briefly are in her life. While each character is introduced to you briefly, I think you get a good image of the role that everyone plays in Sarai’s life.

I really liked getting to know Sarai through the whole book and how she thinks of the world and of others. I also liked getting to see the relationship that Sarai has with her sister throughout this book. I thought it was great to see how she doesn’t want to be anything like her sister but she also really respects her sister. I liked that we get to see both Sarai and her sister’s relationship with their mother but also how far away their mother is from them emotionally.

Writing Style: This book is written in prose and I really liked that choice. I liked how none of the pieces were long and it gave you the sense of how Sarai was always going from one place to the next physically or emotionally. There were so many pieces that I really enjoyed in this book and it was just great to be able to explore Sarai’s world through poetry.

Author Information

ELISABET VELASQUEZ is a Brooklyn Born Boricua.

She is a mother of two.

Her poems are an exploration of her life. 

Velasquez has performed at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, Pregones Theatre, Bushwick Starr Theatre, The Bowery Poetry Club, Brooklyn Museum, Museum Of Natural History, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Rutgers University, Williams College, Adelphi University, Pace University, Princeton University, James Madison University, Harvard University and The Amber Rose Slut Walk 2017. 

Her work has been featured on  TIDALNBC, Now This, Huffington Post, Latina Magazine, Vibe Magazine, Muzzle MagazineCentro Voces. She is a VONA Alum, 2017 Poets House Fellow. She is the winner of Button Poetry’s 2017 Poetry Video Contest. She is a 2019 Frost Place Fellow. Her work is forthcoming in the anthology : WHAT SAVES US Poems of Empathy and Outrage In The Age Of Trump edited by Martin Espada.

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles Blog Tour Post

Book Description

Title: Things We Couldn’t Say 

Author: Jay Coles 

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: September 21st, 2021

Genres: Young Adult Contemporary 

Synopsis:

From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be. 

Book links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Book Depository ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound ~ Indigo

Review

Thank You to Colored Pages Tours for having me on this blog tour for the book Things we Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles. Check our the tour schedule here.

Thoughts and Themes: There was so much that I really enjoyed about this story. There is not enough stories about bisexual boys and I loved that in this story both the main character and David are bisexual. This story handles a lot of different things, from Gio figuring out his sexuality to him dealing with his feelings about his mother abandoning him when he was younger.

I also really liked the different mental health issues that are brought up through this story. There was a lot going on for both Gio and his brother, Theo when it comes to their mental health and I liked how that was a part of the story. We got to see them have real emotions and I loved that everyone around them took those emotions seriously. I liked that Gio was given permission by those around him to be vulnerable with them and how important that vulnerability was for him to be able to cope with what was happening in his life.

Characters: In this story you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Gio. You get to meet Gio’s younger brother, Theo, his best friends, Ayesha and Olly, the love interest, David, and Gio’s step mother, dad, and birth mom.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Gio and his younger brother and how protective he is of him. I also liked how Theo develops throughout this story and how essential he is to the development of Gio. I like how they discuss their feelings with each other and help each other navigate their mom trying to come back into their lives after abandoning them.

I really liked the friendship that Gio has with Ayesha and Olly, and then eventually develops with David. I like how they all keep things real with each other an dhow Gio feels like he can trust his friends with his feelings. I like how we get to see a friendship develop between Gio and David before a romance plot is even explored.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person through Gio’s perspective which was something that I enjoyed. I liked that the story allowed you to be inside of Gio’s head at every moment. This perspective allowed you to feel for Gio and also understand why he was acting certain ways with different people.

Author Information

JAY COLES is the author of critically acclaimed TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE, a composer with ASCAP, and a professional musician residing in Muncie, Indiana. He is a graduate of Vincennes University and Ball State University and holds degrees in English and Liberal Arts. When he’s not writing diverse books, he’s advocating for them, serving with The Revolution church, and composing music for various music publishers. Jay’s forthcoming novel THINGS WE COULDN’T SAY is set to be released 9.21.21 with Scholastic! His novels can be purchased at Barnes and Noble or at Amazon. 

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ GoodReads ~ Tumblr

Fence Volume 1-3 by by C.S. Pacat (Author), Johanna the Mad (Illustrator), Joana LaFuente (Colorist), and Jim Campbell (Letterer) Book Review

Book Description

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had been putting off reading this book because it is always a hit or miss with books that revolve around sports. I figured I should finally read it though since I was going through all of the graphic novels really quickly. I’m glad that I decided to pick this one up as it was one that I couldn’t put down. I’m really sad that the library doesn’t have volume 4 since I need more of all these boys.

The books are a quick and easy read which made it a lot of fun to read in between my homework assignments. I loved that it really doesn’t matter if you know anything about fencing, I liked that they walk you through a lot of the fencing rules and the matches. I also really liked the shenanigans the boys get into when they aren’t fencing.

Characters: I loved all of these characters and how different they all are. I loved each of their distinct personalities and the friendships that they have with each other. I liked the rivalry between Seiji and Nicholas that is included in all three books and how that develops. I also love the friendship between the previous team members and Bobby and Nicholas.

I also really enjoyed the diversity in this book, you get a range of sexualities even if they aren’t explicitly stated. I also really liked the racial diversity in the characters as well as the diversity in economic status. I liked that we got to see both rich kids and then scholarship kids, and everyone else in the middle. I thought that was a great addition to be able to see that Nicholas was still a great fencer regardless of where and how he got his training.

Writing and Art Style: I loved the art style in this book, it is really cute but there is also some intense moments that you can clearly see from the looks of the boys’ faces. I love that you can see the feelings right on their faces without there having to be words and how the story tells itself through the images often times. Sometimes when I read graphic novels I can’t distinguish the characters from each other so I love how in this one they are all very different from one another. I like that they all have distinct looks.

Author Information

C.S. Pacat is the USA-Today best-selling author of Dark Rise, the Captive Prince trilogy, and the GLAAD-nominated graphic novels Fence.

Born in Australia and educated at the University of Melbourne, C.S. Pacat has lived in a number of cities, including Tokyo and Perugia, and currently resides and writes in Melbourne.

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh Book Review

Book Description

Snap’s town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a Crocs-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

Snap needs a favor from this old woman, though, so she begins helping Jacks with her strange work. Snap gets to know her and realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic—and an unlikely connection to Snap’s family’s past.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels recently and have been enjoying them quite a bit. My only thing with them is sometimes they are too short and I’m left wanting more of the characters and their world. This one was different though because while I loved it so much, I felt that it was just the right length and everything was covered in the few pages it had.

There was so much to love about this book and most of it was in the characters and the diversity within those characters. I also really enjoyed the world that you get to explore in this book and how it gets introduced to you.

Characters: I really enjoyed all the characters that you get to meet in this book and loved the diversity that is included throughout. I loved that the majority of the characters in this book are LGBTQ+ or people of color. I thought that was great to see and to have magic exist for both of these communities when often times I don’t see magic with LGBTQ+ characters or people of color.

I really like how Snap and Jacks are both shown to outcasts with the people their age as well as the rest of the neighborhood. I think this adds to what draws them together and why their relationship gradually develops. I liked how Jacks

I really liked Snaps and Lu’s friendship and how that begins and unfolds. I liked how Lu was a part of what seemed to be the popular crowd but how Snap and her became friends because Snap didn’t question or judge Lu for being a Trans girl.

I really liked how the mystery of the demon that has been following Snap’s family unravels and how we figure out things about that. I thought that was a great addition to the book and liked how that character played out.

Writing and Art Style: I actually wouldn’t have normally picked this up just based on the cover because of the darker colors but I am glad that I did. I loved the art style in this one and how each character looked different. I loved how the colors added to the mystery of the story and added to the story telling. I also liked how we got to go back and forth between Snap and Jacks time together as well as Snap and LuLus time together.

Author Information

Kat Leyh is a Chicago based writer and artist. She’s best known as the current co-writer and cover artist for the series Lumberjanes, and for her queer superhero webcomic Supercakes. She’s also worked as a cover artist, and back-up writer/artist for several BOOM! Studios series.

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen Book Review

Book Description

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: Thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a copy of this book so that I could provide a review for it.

I decided to listen to this book on audio since I really enjoyed listening to A Neon Darkness and this was just as great. This book reminds me a lot of The Extraordinaries which was another one that I loved which was why I decided to read this one. I’ve been listening to The Bright Sessions podcast which this book is based on and that made this book so much better. I highly recommend listening to that podcast while reading or even after reading this book.

I really love how Caleb and Adam’s friendship develops and how this relationship allows for each of them to be vulnerable with each other. I don’t want to speak up too much about this because this really unravels at the end of the book. I just thought it was great to see how each of them reacts and how Caleb is trying to understand Adam’s reaction to him revealing certain things.

I also really enjoyed how this book includes mental health in it and how Caleb’s feelings are addressed in therapy. We also get to see that Adam is dealing with depression and some anxiety and we see how those feelings affect Caleb. I also liked how these feelings affect their friendship and even more so as they learn more about each other.

Characters: In this story you get to meet Caleb and Adam who are the main characters and then a few others through their interactions with them. You get to meet some of their families as well which I really loved.

I liked Caleb and Adam’s relationship with each other and watching how they navigate each other’s oddities. I liked seeing how they learn about each other, and how they react to finding out new information about each other.

Writing Style: This book is written in first person and goes back and forth between Caleb and Adam’s point of view. I liked getting the chance to be in both of their heads and not just see things through Caleb’s point of view. I liked that we got some of Adam’s feelings because of Caleb’s enhanced abilities, I thought it was best that we saw the truth of how Adam felt from him.

Author Information

Lauren Shippen is a writer most known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce Passenger List before founding Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic, set for release later this year by Marvel and Stitcher.

Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Her first novel, The Infinite Noise, will be released through Tor Teen in September 2019. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.

An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon Book Review

Book Description

An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.

Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.

Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto’s twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family’s lives for ever.

Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.

An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

Review

I just received the finished copy of this book and got the ebook recently as well so I am about halfway through and will provide a complete review when I finish it. This review is up to the half way mark of this book as I wanted to make sure to spotlight it on my blog today.

I have yet to read any book that centers an intersex main character so that was something that this book did that I really loved. I liked that this book explores being intersex and how culture informs people’s responses to someone being born intersex.

I also really enjoy how this book explores familial love, education, gender, sexuality, belonging, culture, folklore, and more. I really like how this story goes back and forth between a few years back and the current time with Oto because we get to see what lead to the current circumstances for him.

I can’t wait to continue reading this and see what happens to our main character and what happens in his relationships with his family members. I think that was something that I really want to read more of to see if his mom and his sister change perspectives on how they feel about Oto.

Author Information

Buki Papillon was born in Nigeria, lived in the UK where she studied law at the University of Hull, and is now settled in the US, where she has learned to find inspiration in the long winters. She has in the past been a travel adviser, events host and chef.

Her debut novel, An Ordinary Wonder, is forthcoming from Pegasus Books in the US on September 7, 2021, and was published by Dialogue Books (Little, Brown UK) in March 2021. Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine and The Del Sol Review.

She graduated  with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has  received fellowships to The Key West Literary Seminars and Vermont Studio Center. She was awarded an Archie D. And Bertha. H. Walker Foundation Scholarship by the Fine Arts Work Center, and is an alumna of the VONA Voices Workshops.

In her downtime she loves taking long rambles in nature, making jewelry, cooking up a storm and, of course, epic levels of reading.

Her twitter account is @bukipapillon. Her website is http://bukipapillon.com.

Squirrel Do Bad by Stephan Pastis Blog Tour Post

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the SQUIRREL DO BAD by Stephan Pastis Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

Book Description

Title: SQUIRREL DO BAD (Trubble Town #1)

Author: Stephan Pastis

Pub. Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Aladdin

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 288

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

From the author of the “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip and New York Times bestselling Timmy Failure series comes a laugh-out-loud, heartwarming, full-color graphic novel series about a quirky town—just right for young readers starting to read longer books! Wendy the Wanderer has lived in Trubble Town her whole life but never had the chance to go exploring. For this reason, she thinks she was definitely misnamed. Her dad likes to know where she is to make sure she’s safe, so she’s never been anywhere on her own. Then, her dad leaves on a trip and the babysitter doesn’t reinforce all the usual rules. Or any of the usual rules! Suddenly, Wendy is free to do what she wants, and what she wants is to live up to her name…and find Trubble. Turns out, there’s lots going on in Trubble Town. As she encounters endearingly goofy animals and hilariously hapless townsfolk, Wendy’s very first adventure takes more twists and turns than she could have ever expected. She learns some really valuable life lessons and even teaches a few of her own.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I tend to enjoy reading middle grade graphic novels since they tend to be funny and cute in their own way and this was no different. I think that grades 2-5 would really enjoy this type of book and the randomness of each of the stories. I think the ending of each of the chapters would intrigue them as well rather than my reaction of ummmm why did that just happen?

I love how all the important people in this town are all animals and how few of the characters involved are people. It just makes for an interesting story as you wonder if this is an imaginary town that the girl made up because she is trapped inside due to the protective father.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to Wendy who is one of the main characters of the story but there are portions in which you think that Squirrely is our main character. I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on the Squirrel and the way the people in Trubble Town thought of him as a nuisance.

While the whole thing seems very random, there are pieces in the chapters that connect the characters together. That was something that I really enjoyed about this book, I liked how there was something that connected the whole book together rather than it seeming like random snippets of a story.

Writing and Art Style: I really liked how this story goes from one box to another and it makes it easy to follow. I also like the way each of the characters are drawn and how easy it is to tell each of them apart from one another.

Something else that I liked about this book was the chapter names since I thought they were each unique and funny. I liked that they aren’t clear about what is going to happen in each chapter as it adds to the randomness of this book.

Author Information

STEPHAN PASTIS is an attorney turned cartoonist. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the UCLA School of Law, he worked as a lawyer before trying his hand at cartooning. Pastis lives in the Bay Area, with his wife and two children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SQUIRREL DO BAD, US ONLY.

Enter Here

Tour Schedule

Week One:

8/2/2021Don’t Judge, ReadReview
8/2/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
8/3/2021@curlygrannylovestoreadReview
8/3/2021Little Red ReadzReview
8/4/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
8/4/2021Unconventional Quirky BibliophileReview
8/5/2021PickagoodbookReview
8/5/2021onemusedReview
8/6/2021A Gingerly ReviewExcerpt
8/6/2021Jazzy Book ReviewsReview

Week Two:

8/9/2021@fictitious.foxReview
8/9/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
8/10/2021Adrianna.readsReview
8/10/2021Feed Your Fiction AddictionReview
8/11/2021booksaremagictooReview
8/11/2021Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
8/12/2021#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee BlogExcerpt
8/12/2021The Momma SpotReview
8/13/2021Locks, Hooks and BooksReview
8/13/2021Two Points of InterestReview
8/13/2021Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt