Book Club Announcments

Latinx Book Club: November’s Book Club Pick

Hi everyone! After an amazing Latinx Heritage Month, we are back to our normal schedule and we are excited to announce our November book club pick! This time around the four nominees were:

These are all amazing books, so yoou should add them to your tbrs! Nonetheless, the winner of our twitter poll was …

November's pick

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez 

Title: Sal and Gabi Break the Univere
Author: CArlos Hernandez
Series: Sal and Gabi #1
Pages: 382
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Release Date: March 5th 2019

36595887._sy475_How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker? When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Reading Schedule_

Week 1: chapters 1- 10

Week 2: Chapters 11 – 21

Week 3: Chapters 22 – 32

Week 4: Chapters 32 – 42 + epilogue

discussion schedule

Week 1: Hosts’ discussion questions (Satuday, November 9th)

Week 2: Hosts’ discussion questions (Saturday, November 16th)

Week 3: Hosts’ discussion questions (Saturday, November 23rd)

Week 4: Q&A with the author (Saturday, November 30th)

Will you be joining the Latinx Book Club in November? Have you read this book yet? Let’s talk in the comments!

Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month: Cande’s Most Anticipated 2020 Latinx Releases

Hello there!

I’m so happy to be here on our beautiful blog today, talking about my most anticipated 2020 releases by Latinx authors! 2019 brought us (and still is bringing us) powerful, gut-punching and fascinating stories. And 2020 doesn’t want to be left behind!

So, to get your Goodreads shelves ready and your poor bank crying, here are six books that I can’t wait;

1.Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega: Coco meets Stranger Things? Yes please! A spell gone wrong, an adorable cat and an abuela ready for adventure, Ghost Squad sounds like an unforgettable story. I’ve been loving middle-grade lately and I feel like Claribel is going to tackle all my favorite things at once; cute pets, abuelas and their grandchildren, spooky settings and friends who stay with you even spells backfire. A Latinx tale of mischief that I need in my life.

2.Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez: Magic, romance and revolution, inspired by Bolivian politics and history. It’s like Isabel read my deepest bookish dreams, wow. I definitely need more Latinx inspired Fantasy in my life and more South American representation. I’m so excited to dive in this world and hold a finish copy of this book. Can you imagine how gorgeous is going to be? Isabel has destroyed the illustrated covers game, sorry!

3.Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit by Lilliam Rivera: I read Goldie Vance comics last year and I fell in love with this biracial sapphic girl who works at a hotel but has a passion for detective work. The world is full of loyal and supportive friends who adore Goldie, but call her out when necessary. And the f/f romance is one of my favorites ever! So you can’t understand how excited I was when I found out Lilliam Rivera would be writing about Goldie and her friends! I can’t seriously wait.

4.Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo: Elizabeth consolidated herself as one of my favorite authors when I read With The Fire On High. I trust that she can write anything at all and it will be a masterpiece. I’m excited to see her go back to verse and this time, with dual point of view, which it’s something I really enjoy. I’m ready to let my heart be broken in ten thousand pieces and stitch back together with the hopeful and bittersweet endings Elizabeth loves to give us.

5.Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia: Can I officially be Tehlor’s number one fan? Well, I am her fan. You know how much loved We Set The Dark On Fire, you probably can imagine how excited I am for its sequel (I am!!) but you don’t know how I’m dying for her middle-grade debut. I’m ready for adventures, friendships and my childhood terror to come back (yes, La Llorona, I’m excited for you too). Knowing Tehlor, this book is going to be a wreck of emotions and we could named it Cande’s River of Tears, yes?

6.Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore: The more I hear about this, the more excited I get. Anna-Marie is one of my favorite authors, hands down. Their writing is lyrical, their characters are so sympathetic and their incorporation of Latinx culture is perfect. Reading their books, I feel like traveling to my childhood, but better because I get to have the queer representation that I didn’t know that I needed. Dark and Deepest Red promises to be a beautiful, gripping story with all the queerness and happy endings as only Anna-Marie can deliver.


There are many more exciting Latinx books, I know! And I can’t wait for 2020 to get here.

What are some of your Latinx anticipated releases?

Uncategorized

Latinx Heritage Month: Jocelyn’s Favorite Books by Cuban Authors

It took me a while to decide what sort of post I wanted to do for our blog to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. With the amount of truly excellent Latinx literature cropping up, there’s a lot of favorite lists that I could have done. In the end, I went with favorite books by Cuban authors because, while Latinx representation on the whole is having a renaissance, it still feels rare to see a book by a Cuban author that has Cuban representation. Don’t get me wrong – plenty of other Latinx folk are still deeply underrepresented – but each story I read from my culture cuts me so much deeper. So here you are: books (and authors!) I love because I see me and my family within their pages. (Covers link to Goodreads.)

The Victoria in my Head by Janelle Milanes

I have to start this list with where I started and that’s The Victoria in My Head, the very first book I remember seeing #ownvoices Cuban-American representation that actually felt like it represented me. Much like my childhood idol, Lizzie McGuire, Victoria imagines herself as so much more free than she allows herself to be in real life. That is until one day when she sees a cute boy hanging up flyers for band tryouts and she makes the first in a series of choices to start being the Victoria she wants to be. This YA contemporary is filled to the brim with heart. The soundtrack for it rocks pretty hard, too. 

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

It feels natural to move from Victoria to Rosa because if the former was the book I needed when I was a young teen, this was the book that served as a balm for my older self. Within these pages, Rosa grapples with so many questions and experiences other diasporic people will find instantly familiar. But even when she is at her most confused and hurt, she continues to raise her voice and fight for herself. While the romance in this YA is incredibly heart-warming, for me, this story is never about anything other than Rosa, her family, and her quest to understanding herself. 

The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older

Trying to choose just one Daniel José Older book for this list was harder than I originally thought. I love his middle grade series, Dactyl Hill Squad,  immensely for what it does for its audience and the discussions it engenders. However, his adult historical magical realism novel, The Book of Lost Saints, felt so very personal. There is a quiet genius to this story and the way it tackles themes. This exploration of grief and ghosts and the things we don’t talk about is far and away the best depiction of the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath I’ve seen in media to date. 

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

After finishing Carlos Hernandez’s short story collection, The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, I found that my love for his middle grade, Sal and Gabi, had only increased. The final story in that collection is very clearly an influence for this novel, and seeing that initial spark made me appreciate it all the more. Middle grade books are often ones I turn to when I’m seeking whimsy and hope, both of which you’ll find here. You’ll also encounter Sal and Gabi, who are respectively a diabetic magician (of the pulling-rabbits-out-of-hats variety) who can literally take things from other universes, and a young lawyer-in-the-making who is curious and full of gumption. These two are the kind of dynamic duo dreams are made of. In book one they kinda sorta break the universe. I can’t wait to see how they fix it in book two.  

Yoruba from Cuba by Nicolás Guillén, translated by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres

My final choice for today is a poetry collection by activist, writer, and Cuban national poet, Nicolás Guillén. He is the only one on this list who was not American and, to be fully transparent, also one of the only Afro-Cubans I’ve read from at this point. I’ve found that I like my poetry to have teeth and this selection delivers and then some. There are many topics he covers here – race and racism, international relationships, political views – that can be controversial even at the best of times and Guillén pulls no punches. 

***

I am excited to continue to add books to this list as time goes by. More and more of us are coming to publishing with stories we’ve had in our hearts that we wish to share with the world. As they trickle in, I’ll be here, ready and hungry for more. 

Do you have a favorite book by a Cuban author? And if you’re non-Cuban Latinx, what’s a favorite book from someone who shares your heritage?

Latinx Chat Room

Latinx Chat Room: Alicia and Jocelyn Talk Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Hello amigxs!

Alicia and Jocelyn are here to present what we hope will be the first in a series of deep-diving into some of our favorite Latinx authors’ works. Today we will be talking about Mexican-Canadian SFF author, Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
[Find her website here or on Twitter @silviamg]

We quickly learned after meeting each other through Latinx Book Club that we were both fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Therefore it was a natural decision when coming up with this post to buddy read her debut novel, Signal to Noise. Please feel free to join in our discussion if you are familiar with Moreno-Garcia’s novels – and even if you’re not! Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Title: Signal to Noise
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: N/A
Pages: 372
Publisher: Solaris
Release Date: February 10th 2015

      “A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.
      Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
      Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?”

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise is her debut novel. Are you familiar with her other works? What was your overall impression with her first book?

Jocelyn: Yes, I’ve read all of her books so far and just think she’s incredible. I’ve definitely gone a bit out of order reading Signal last, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. There are some things I’ve started to consider trademarks of Moreno-Garcia’s writing and it was interesting getting to see how she’s progressed and what things she’s maybe changed or tightened up since.

Alicia: When we decide to buddy read this one, I wanted to make sure I read her novella Prime Meridian, which is the only other work of hers I didn’t have a chance to read yet. I did so before our buddy read, so can now call myself a Silvia Moreno-Garcia superfan? I really didn’t know what to expect going into this one, not just because it’s her debut but because all her works while astounding in their own ways are so distinct from one another. This one ended up being one of my favorites.

Jocelyn: I feel the exact same. I know going into each of her stories it’s going to be speculative in some fashion, but she moves so easily between sci-fi and fantasy. Also, yes I would like to jump onto this super-fandom bandwagon.

Alicia: She really does. I can’t think of another author who is so versatile and does every genre so well!

Music is such an important element in Signal to Noise. Moreno-Garcia provides her own kind of soundtrack for the novel, mentioning a myriad of songs. Were you familiar with the music? And if not, did you listen to any of the songs she mentioned?

Alicia: I was only familiar with maybe a fourth of the songs she mentioned, but I went all in from listening to the songs she mentioned to recording them in my notes. There are no less than 50 individual songs incorporated in Signal to Noise!

Jocelyn: I was familiar with a few of them. The thing is, I don’t consider myself a musical person so no, I didn’t go and listen the music mentioned.

Signal to Noise shifts between 1988-9 and 2009. Did you find one of these timelines more compelling than the other? Why or why not?

Alicia: I honestly enjoyed both timelines so much. I’m not sure I could choose. Moreno-Garcia writes both in such a way that neither felt more important than the other. I enjoyed reading about Meche and her friends as teens when they were still young and experiencing first crushes and the like. Meche, twenty years later, is still very much moody and abrasive. I loved that we gradually got to fill in those gaps from her youth. We learn what caused the rift between herself and her friends and it made her interactions with them as adults so much weightier.

Jocelyn: Agreed! Usually I do end up liking one timeline better, which means I’m generally wary going into a book knowing that it’ll follow multiple times and/or characters, but that was not a problem here. There was a good balance of finding out how the past timeline impacted the present. I also really enjoyed watching the fallout of the relationship between Meche and Sebos.

Alicia: That reminds me of those books with multiple POVs where you start to dread reading your least favorite. I never felt that way reading Signal. Those scenes between Meche and Sebastian killed me. So much tension. I loved it!

Jocelyn: She does angst so well.

Quick, name three songs you’d want included in a soundtrack about your life.

Jocelyn: I’m going to cheat here (again not a musical person) and say any of the songs from Joanna Newsom’s album Ys. It’s a perfect collection of songs and I don’t know that I could just pick three.

Alicia: All my picks are going to be “old” because although I do enjoy music, I am terrible at keeping up to date with new music. I’d go with Landfill by Daughter, Winter Solstice by Cold Specks, and Autumn Tree by Milo Greene because I dig moody music.

Let’s talk about the journey through her work. We’ve both read all of her currently available novels. Where did you start? Do you have a favorite?

Jocelyn: I started with Certain Dark Things, which is my second favorite from her. A vampire noir is absolutely the kind of thing to suck me in. It was only after reading and loving that that I was confident and curious enough to pick up some of her books that, at first glance, maybe weren’t my cup of tea. Prime Meridian and The Beautiful Ones I read pretty close together and enjoyed. They definitely solidified her as an all-time favorite author. But my favorite (so far) was her 2019 release, Gods of Jade and Shadow. It’s no secret that I love all mythology-based fantasy, so that one was just made for me.

Alicia: Certain Dark Things was also my first SMG novel. It actually didn’t draw me in from the start because I don’t read a lot of vampire novels, but it took place in Mexico City, so I wanted to give it a shot. And the world-building alone was so dynamic! I instantly became a fan. The Beautiful Ones was my second novel and I fell so hard. I keep saying how understated it is and there’s just something about that that really draws me in. It’s my personal favorite. This summer I read, in order, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Prime Meridian, and Signal to Noise. I’d have to think on it more, but I’d rank Gods second along with Signal. But really they’ve all been good and I’ve rated every one four or five stars.

Jocelyn: Prime Meridian is the only one below 4 stars for me. I still really enjoyed its quiet musings, but I often encounter that short stories and novellas leave me wanting and that was no exception.

For those who might be unfamiliar with her work, what would you say to convince them to pick her up?

Alicia: Silvia Moreno-Garcia literally has something for everyone. If you’re looking for something dark and gritty, reach for Certain Dark Things. If you enjoy romance and fantasy, The Beautiful Ones is the way to go. Gods of Jade and Shadow is perfect for mythology and fairytale fans. Prime Meridian is for those who like exploring existentialism in fiction. And Signal to Noise for both the music fan and those who love magical realism.

Jocelyn: I agree wholeheartedly! I love that there’s so much freedom and fluidity in the way she explores genres.

To go back to my earlier point on trademarks I associate with SMG, I think one of the biggest reasons to pick up something by her is for the characters. So many of her books feel like character stories and I have found that even secondary characters are complex and complicated like real people. I don’t know how she writes them to feel so tangible, but she does.

Thank you for joining us for our first edition of the Latinx Chat Room. We’d love to hear from you if you’re also a fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia or just intrigued by her work. Let us hear from you in the comments!

Recommendation Lists

Latinx Heritage Month: Alicia’s Favorite Books By Latinx Authors

I’m so excited to share with you today my top ten favorite books by Latinx authors for Latinx Heritage Month. Although this list was really hard to put together (really, really hard), I’m pretty satisfied with what finally ended up on my list, but know there are so many more books by Latinx authors I love and hopefully one day I can share those with you as well. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

1. Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore – Jocelyn and I have very similar taste when it comes to books. We both adore When the Moon Was Ours, so for this list I am highlighting my second favorite Anna-Marie McLemore novel. There are so many things about this book that I love. The magical realism, the sister relationship, the prickliness of Roja that reminds me so much of myself I could cry. Every McLemore novel makes me fall more and more in love with their writing.

2. The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – This is my favorite Silvia Moreno-Garcia novel so far. I consider historical fantasy to be my soft spot. The characterization in this one blew me away and it’s one of those cases where my least favorite trope (a love triangle) was done well. I’ll probably never say that again.

3. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily AndersonUndead Girl Gang is a close second for my favorite Lily Anderson novel, but the wit in this one is so on point. This Much Ado About Nothing retelling is smart and funny and I wish I had as much talent as Anderson seems to have in her pinky finger when it comes to writing.

4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – The one novel by a Latinx author I would gift to myself as a teen is The Poet X. I think I would have sucked at poetry, but I would have adopted this medium in a heartbeat as a teen who struggled to express herself. Elizabeth Acevedo would have been my idol. Who am I kidding, she’s my idol now.

5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera – I may never recover from how Adam Silvera’s first novel ruined me. This one really snuck up on me, stuck its hand in my chest and pulled out my heart.

6. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno – This is my favorite novel so far in 2019 and the layers! I’m in love with so many aspects of this one from the nautical Port Coral setting to the vivacity of the Santos women. It’s a love letter to every Latinx child of the diaspora and it feels like I’ve waited my whole life for it.

7. Bruja Born by Zoraida CórdovaLabyrinth Lost was one of the first books that made me feel seen as a Latina reader. It’s magical system was one of the first times I saw all the possibilities for Latinx fantasies. Bruja Born made me crave stories about Latina sisters and I loved how intricately tied the Mortiz sisters are to each other. I will forever be grateful to Zoraida Córdova for this series.

8. Nocturna by Maya Motayne – If Córdova is the catalyst for Latinx fantasy, Maya Motayne feels like the result. High fantasy and Latinx stories have been a kind of fantasy to me. It’s not something publishers seems to be looking for and when I first heard about Nocturna, I wanted to cry. Please let this mean we will have more high fantasy Latinx books in the future. I had so much fun with this one and would personally die for Prince Alfie and Finn.

9. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina – Nora is one of the few fictional characters I relate to heavily and Burn Baby Burn was the first time I saw Latinx characters in a historical setting. It’s a subgenre that I hardly ever see us represented in and I would like more please.

10. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado – Much like my experience with The Poet X (poetry and I didn’t initially add up), I’ve never been a fan of short stories. Not because they weren’t good but because I always had a hard time really getting into them. Her Body and Other Parties combined one thing I didn’t think I cared for (short stories) and a genre I love but haven’t read enough Latinx authors writing it (horror). This one is so weird and I love it so much because of it.

Are any of these your favorite too? Any you are planning to read? Let’s talk in the comments!