Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear Our Voices 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. 

Author Information

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicanx grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. Her debut novel, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER & SWEET is forthcoming from Little Brown in spring 2021.

You can find Laekan Zea Kemp at:

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

Book Description

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Genre: YA Fiction

Book Info:

As an aspiring pastry chef, 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 new found family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong — both within their families and their fiercely loyal Chicanx community — in order to save the place they all call home.

You can find the book at:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble  ~ Bookshop.org 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: There are very few books that I take a lot of notes for and this was one of them. I was glad that Libro.Fm gave me an advanced listening copy so that I could listen to this story while following along with the e-book.

While this book cover and synopsis make it sound like its a romance book, it is so much more than that. I really liked the complexity of this being first love but also adding the feeling of hopelessness and the theme of found family. I thought it was great to see both of these themes played out through Pen and Xander’s storylines because you saw how it affected them differently.

I liked the idea that the restaurant is so much more than just a place that people go to eat at. I liked how it represented something to the neighborhood but also how we see the weight it had on the dad. I thought that it was important to include both of these points in the book because we see how much he wants to help but its to the point that it hurts him. I liked how this portion of the book resolves itself but I can’t say much about this or I’ll ruin the story for you all.

Something else that I loved about this book was the idea of found family both for Xander and for pen. I like watching them both be able to give this to each other and how Xander realizes family isn’t always just blood.

Overall this story was just so heartwarming and it just reminded me of how important community is. I just loved seeing how they all came together to support Pen when she needed them. It reminded me of times that I’ve been in community with others and how much my communities have supported me throughout my life.

Characters: There is not a character in this book that isn’t lovable, well…besides the villain of the story you know. Every other character that you met is just a great addition to the story. You have the main characters Pen and Xander and through them you are introduced to both of their families and the people who work with them.

I really enjoyed the way the relationship between Pen and her father was shown and how that relationship developed and changed throughout the book. I thought it was great to see things through Pen’s perspective and see what she thought her father was thinking of her. I really liked how Xander was thinking the tension between them was because they were the same person. I laughed when I read that piece because it reminded me of my relationship with my dad.

I really liked getting to know both Pen and Xander and seeing how their stories connected to each other. I liked seeing how the themes in both of their stories parallel each other in different ways. I also liked seeing how they slowly fall in love with each other as they learn more about one another.

Writing Style: This story is told through first person dual perspectives of Pen and Xander. It was great to be able to see both of their perspectives to know what was going on in each of their heads. I think the story would not have worked if we only got one side because it is about both of them struggling to belong.

Vampires Never Get Old by by Zoraida Cordova; Natalie C. Parker Book Tour Post

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. 

Book Description

Heidi Heilig

by Zoraida Córdova (Editor), Natalie C. Parker (Editor)

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.

You can find the book at:

GoodreadsAmazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ 

Books-A-Million ~ Bookshop.org ~ Kobo ~ Eso Won Books

Review

4 Stars

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?

Author Information

Zoraida Cordova

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.

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

Natalie C. Parker

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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.

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

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Samira Ahmed

Samira is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filters and the forthcoming, Internment (March 2019) and Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know (April 2020).

These days, Samira lives in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

Her writing is represented by Jo Volpe at New Leaf Literary.

Dhonielle Clayton

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

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.

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Julie Murphy

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.

She is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels Dumplin (now a film on Netflix), PuddinRamona Blue, and Side Effects May VaryDear Sweet Pea is her debut middle grade novel.

Mark Oshiro

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

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.

Laura Ruby

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 Schwab

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.”

Headshot of a white woman with blonde hair and glasses. She has her left hand near her face. She wears a neutral expression, not quite smiling.

Kayla Whaley

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 CatapultBustleMichigan Quarterly ReviewUncanny MagazineBook 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.

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore Book Tour Post

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

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Tehlor Kay Mejia

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

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

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Miss Meteor  by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: September 22nd 2020

Genre: Young Adult

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.

You can find the book at:

GoodReads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ The Book Depository ~ Kobo

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REVIEW

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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.

Cemetery Boys- Blog Tour Stop- Author Interview

Author Information

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, Harry Potter 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.

Their debut novel, CEMETERY BOYS, will be published June 9th, 2020.

You can find Aiden Thomas at:

  1. Website
  2. Twitter
  3. Instagram

Book Description

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.

Author Interview

Thank you to Hear Our Voices Book Tour for the opportunity to host the author interview on my page. I’m very excited to share with you all what I learned from the author and more reasons why you need to get this book now. Another big thank you to Aiden Thomas for the opportunity to get to know more about them and their debut novel.Well let’s not wait any longer and jump right into the Q & A portion of this interview.

For those who are meeting you for the first time what would you say are 3 “Good To Know” Facts About You?

  1. I’m a Cancer sun, Leo rising! (I don’t actually know anything about astrology but whenever I tell folks they go, “that makes so much sense!” so I guess it’s important for getting to know me!)
  2. I’m 5’11”! For some reason, people always expect me to be short but I’m actually pretty dang tall in person!
  3. I’m totally obsessed with the anime Haikyuu!! and spend most of my time on Twitter looking at fanart. 

What would you say are your 5 favorite books – and why? 

  1. “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller because it has the most beautiful prose I have ever read!
  2. “Labyrinth Lost” by Zoraida Cordova because that was the first time I saw my culture reflected in a book. It’s because of The Brooklyn Bruja series that I realized I could write a book like “Cemetery Boys!”
  3. “When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie MeLemore because it was the first time I read a book with a trans character (and the book itself is so beautiful).
  4. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins because the pacing and action is so good! I must’ve read that series close to a dozen times at this point.
  5. “I Hear the Sunspot” by Yuki Fumino which is technically a manga series, BUT it holds a very special and important piece of my heart! It’s a gay romance and one of the main characters is deaf. It’s the first time I saw deaf/H.O.H. representation in a book and it’s done so well! I recommend it to literally everyone.

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? 
They’ve all inspired parts of my writing, but I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school! I’ve always had really vivid dreams, especially nightmares, so when I was little as we had to do journaling for class, I’d write them down like a story. Then as I grew up, reading great
books made me want to write great books, so that’s what led me down the path of pursuing it as a life passion!

Tell us a little bit about Cemetery Boys and your inspiration behind the story? 
“Cemetery Boys” is a contemporary paranormal fantasy about a trans boy named Yadriel who is trying to prove to his family he’s a brujo. He decides, in order to do that, he’s going to summon the spirit of his cousin, Miguel, who died under mysterious circumstances and release him to the
afterlife. Unfortunately, he ends up summoning the spirit of Julian Diaz, the resident bad boy of his high school. The two have to work together to find out what happened to Yadriel’s cousin and what happened to Julian’s friends the night he was killed. As they go about trying to solve
these mysteries, Yadriel ends up developing feelings for Julian and that complicates everything. The inspiration for the premise actually came from a writing prompt I saw while scrolling through Tumblr! It said, “What would you do if you summoned a ghost and you couldn’t get rid of it?” and
instead of the creepy scenarios that other folks were coming up with, my mind immediately went to, “And what if he was CUTE??” I also really wanted to write a book with a trans main character where it was less about being trans, or figuring out his identity. I wanted it to be a fun adventure
where the main character just so happened to be trans.

Your story is set in East Los Angeles and takes place around the Day of the Dead. Why did you choose that as the setting for your book?
I was born and raised in California and I decided to have “Cemetery Boys” take place there because the city is really a central place where so many different Latinx communities come together. I wanted to reflect that in the brujx — how they all have this magical Mesoamerican lineage, but they also come from different Latinx countries and pieces of those cultures are
celebrated and make up the brujx community. I chose everything to center around Dia de Muertos because it’s my favorite holiday, but also because it all revolves around death and the afterlife, which perfectly aligned with the premise!

What was something about Cemetery Boys that you struggled to write or come up with?
I’d say the research part of writing “Cemetery Boys” was surprisingly challenging. The Latinx diaspora made it really difficult for me to have definitive research. I wanted to incorporate different Mesoamerican cultures — Aztec, Maya and Inca — to really establish that brujx were
around before and during the establishment of these cultures, that they have an ancient magic. The problem is that, due to colonization, indigenous Mesoamerican traditions and mythos have been destroyed or erased. Physical remnants of our history were widely destroyed, so we have
to rely on oral tradition and try to decipher the few artefacts we do have access to, most of which have been stolen from us and put into museums. I was surprised by how difficult it really was to find research, but, if nothing else, it did give me room to be creative and make my own mythos for my brujx. And, luckily, there’s no shortage of death gods in Mesoamerican myths!

What would you say was the most surprising thing that you learned while writing your novel? 
Honestly, learning the ropes of the publishing industry was a big crash course! I had no idea what publishing was like before I sold my first book to Swoon Reads/Macmillan. I didn’t even have a Twitter! So writing “Cemetery Boys” taught me a lot about what publishing is. I’m also constantly surprised by how wonderful and supportive the writing community has been.

What do you hope your readers take away from reading Cemetery Boys? 
I really hope readers will find connection and feel seen when they read “Cemetery Boys”. I wanted to create a story for readers to connect with Yadriel on universal truths that are basic to the human experience, things like struggling to fit in, feeling accepted for who you are, and being loved. A lot of queer teens experience their first sense of belonging or affirmation with queer bloggers, YouTubers, Tiktokers and, of course, characters in books — like Yadriel. Even if they can’t talk to them personally, seeing people with their identities, seeing themselves reflected in books, or internet stars telling them they’re valid gives them a sense of community and comfort. I really hope Yadriel can be that for some folks.

What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
Right now I’m kind of dabbling in a bunch of different stuff! My second book is already ready to be published so I’ve been taking time to explore my writing and different genres I’m interested in. I’ve been working on a trans romcom, as well as a Maya myth retelling, and I’ve also got a dark fantasy idea that has to do with kids cursed by Aztec death gods! I’m going to have a lot of fun figuring out what my next book will be!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT! I feel like writers always ask for advice when it comes to improving their story, but you have to get that rough draft down before you can make it better. The hardest part is finishing that manuscript, and you can query or get published until you have a completed draft to work on!

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Release Date: September 01, 2020