Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore (Review)

PUB. DATE: October 9, 2018

Genres: Magical Realism, Young Adult, Fantasy 

Summary: The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

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Food and Fiction: Simon Vs. the Oreo Cake


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda | Chocolate Oreo Cake

In Becky Albertalli’s novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the main character Simon is obsessed with Oreos. It is his favorite snack and he loves to talk about them with his crush, Blue. So when I decided to make an Oreo Cake, I had to relate it back to this heartwarming novel. Read More »

The Girl With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (Review)

34448522DIVERSE READ: #Ownvoices Jewish MC* + Romani MC

Rating: ★★★★★

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Summary: When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process. 

My thoughts: The Girl With the Red Balloon is officially one of my favorite novels of 2017. I didn’t realize how much it would impact me, but it managed to find a place in my heart through its powerful message and heartwarming characters that I never wanted to stop reading about. This fantastic story follows 3 POVs*, two taking place during 1988 in East Berlin, and the other taking place during 1942 in a ghetto in Poland. Majority of this novel focuses around Ellie, who accidentally time travels back to East Berlin with the help of a magical red balloon, but it also follows a character living in a ghetto in Poland during WWII. Both narratives are so well written and deliver a powerful story showcasing the horrors of WWII and the equally troublesome times that followed after the war ended. Read More »

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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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 »

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 »