I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez (REVIEW)

DIVERSE READ29010395.jpg: Mexican-American MC + low income household + depression / anxiety rep.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Synopsis: Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

My thoughts: I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a hilarious and striking contemporary novel following a young Mexican-American girl after her sister has passed away. She has to face the fact that her mother doesn’t think she’s good enough and her father who ignores her. This novel follows the life of a teen living in Chicago as she deals with depression, anxiety, loss, change, and college applications. Told in a witty and raw way, this story kept my attention from the moment it began and left me wanting more. 

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Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (Review)

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 DIVERSE READ: #Ownvoices Puerto Rican MC

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Romance, Contemporary

Synopsis: Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

My thoughtsTake the Lead is an adorable quick read centered around a celebrity dance competition and Gina and Stone’s quick connection that draws them closer together. Gina is a professional dancer, hoping to make it big in LA, and Stone is a gruff and quiet reality show celebrity who is only taking part in this competition to win money for his family. Together they form a bond that is indescribable and their chemistry is something they can’t ignore as they try their hardest to win the dance competition, against all odds.

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Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Review)

33158561.jpgDIVERSE READ: Latinx characters + Bisexual MC + Genderqueer side character

Rating: ★★★★★

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, LGBTQIAP+

Summary: Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family. 

My thoughts: Hands down, this is by far the most beautifully written and atmospheric novel that I have ever read. This is my first McLemore novel that I have picked up and the prose and magical realism that was woven into this narrative gripped my attention and made me awestruck that someone can write a story so vividly as McLemore did. From the moment the story began, I fell in love with each Nomeolvides girl who used their fantastical powers in order to create endless amounts of flowers. I adored every second of this novel, simply because every scene was described in such a gripping and wondrous way that made me feel as though I were transported to another world. Read More »

Checkmate: This is Beautiful by Kennedy Fox (Review)

34875065.jpgRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Romance

Synopsis: Kayla Sinclair is a saint and real life Angel.
She wears her heart on her sleeve and inspires me to be a better person.
Rescuing dogs, feeding the homeless, volunteering at the local food pantry are just a few of the ways she gives back to others, although no one has ever been there for her.
Falling for her was inevitable, losing her will destroy me.

Letting someone in didn’t come easy, but she made me want to try for the first time in years.
Her bubbling personality and kind spirit make it impossible to forget a girl like her.
But when tragedy strikes and she loses all memory that our relationship ever existed, my worst nightmare comes to life.

I’ll do anything to remind her of the love we shared. I know it’ll be an uphill battle, but I won’t walk away without a fight. Whoever said all is fair in love and war never played by my rules.

Checkmate, Angel.

My thoughts: Kennedy Fox knows how to grip a reader and keep them on their toes, when reading a sequel. I loved following Logan and Kayla as they fell in love in This is Dangerous, and I loved seeing their relationship shift and develop in this novel as well. Logan was such a sweet character and I loved how Kayla grew and gained confidence while chasing her dreams. One thing I really enjoyed, besides the character development, was seeing Logan interact with his daughter who played a large role in the story. All the relationships shown in this novel were so wonderful to read about, and I only wish that I got to see more of their lives. Read More »

Dare by Natalia Jaster (Review)

34593534Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult

Summary: A Hotheaded Prisoner

They say she’s mad—made of madness, made of fire. In a cage by the sea, Flare dreams of escape. She yearns for the day when she’ll flee to a place only she knows, a hidden world of mystical waters and gilded sands.

The island is calling to her. And she won’t let anyone keep her from it.

Especially not him.

A Coldhearted Prince

They say he’s cruel—crowned of cruelty, as cold as ice. A prince whose gaze cuts like the incisions he administers within his lab. Jeryn has sailed beyond his kingdom for the Trade, to bargain for those wild, imprisoned fools that make his skin crawl.

By law, they’re subjects meant for experimentation. And easy to despise.

One in particular. A girl seething at him from behind bars, with burning eyes and ready fists.

A Mythical Shipwreck

But on the cusp of transport, the tide rages. That uncharted island awaits, a dark tangle of foliage where creatures slither in the mist and poisons lurk in the flora.

Stranded, the prince and prisoner must fight to survive. In this mysterious rainforest, they must band together . . . if they don’t slay one another first. Or become something more to each other.

Something just as dangerous.

*Second book in a duology: same universe, different couple. Can be read as a standalone, though it’s recommended to read TRICK first. Mature YA: sexual content and language. Intended for readers 17 and older.* 

My thoughts: Dare uses one of my favorite tropes which is when two people who are polar opposites are stranded somewhere and have to rely on each other to survive. Specific, I know, but some books do use this trope, and Dare delivered it perfectly while also speaking out about society’s views of mental illnesses. It was such an interesting mix of survival and two characters learning and changing over the time they spent together on this mystical island. Read More »

27 Hours by Tristina Wright (Review)

28526192DIVERSE READ: Biracial, Latinx, Trans, Nonbinary, deaf, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, gay rep.

Genres: Young Adult, LGBTQIAP+, Sci-Fi

Summary: Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero. 

My thoughts: 27 Hours was such an interesting and inclusive sci-fi read that so many people will feel represented while reading it. The story follows a motley group of teens as war rages when chimeras begin to attack colonies built on the moon. The group of strangers-turned-friends has 27 hours to fight for their lives and countless others as they face hardships, revelations, and twists and turns along the way. Read More »

Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (Review)

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DIVERSE READ: Thai-American MC + Diaspora

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

Summary: How far would you go to belong?

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

My thoughts: The Girl on the Verge is a wonderful diverse mystery thriller that also discusses what it’s like to be a PoC in America. It follows Kan who experiences diaspora because she doesn’t truly feel as though she is Thai enough or American enough to fit in at home or in school. This novel explores what it’s like to be a Thai-American and mixing those cultures together while Kan is also dealing with a roommate who tries to steal her life as the days progress. 

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