Sunday, September 20, 2020

8 Books by Latinx Authors on my TBR for Latinx Heritage Month

*Please note: Each book has a link to Amazon, which is an affiliate link - all earnings go into the upkeep of this blog, and I truly appreciate your support - but if you have a local indie bookshop you can support, please be sure to do so!


Latinx Heritage Month or Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated yearly from September 15th through October 15th in the United States, while Hispanic Heritage Month or Latin America Heritage Month is celebrated in October here in Canada. Whatever you call it and whether you recognize it from mid-September to mid-October or through the month of October, it’s the perfect time to learn about and celebrate Latinx culture and history. Like with other yearly month-long observances - Pride Month, Black History Month, Indigenous History Month, etc - we should be celebrating and learning all year long, not just during the ‘designated’ month, but that designated month is a good place to start!


I’ve been doing my best to diversify my reading in the last few years, but especially this year. As a white person, I feel it’s important to read about experiences that are different from my own and to read not just books about racism and anti-racism or the hardships people of colour face, but also the stories about people of colour experiencing joy and getting their happily ever afters. Everyone deserves to see themselves on the pages of books about magic and romance and happiness, and I’m so excited to see more of these books coming out every month, written by BIPOC authors and featuring BIPOC characters.


So, to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month, I’ve compiled a list of eight of the books on my TBR that are written by Latinx and Afro-Latinx authors that I’m most excited to read. I’ve become a mood reader and I’m in a bit of a weird semi-slump, so I have no idea how many of these I’ll actually manage to read in the next month, but I’m going to try for at least three.



You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Published: August 4th, 2020

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 

 

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

 

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy

 

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had. 

 

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. 

 

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.



The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Published: February 4th, 2020

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch…she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.


Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.


If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.


But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again...



Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera 
Published: June 22nd, 2020

Publisher: Self-published

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQ+

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As his twenty-sixth birthday approaches, Desta Joy Walker finds himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the one place he's been actively avoiding most of his life. For Desta, the East African capital encompasses some of the happiest and saddest parts of his life--his first home and the place where his father died. When an unavoidable work obligation lands him there for twelve weeks, he may finally have a chance for the closure he so desperately needs. What Desta never expected was to catch a glimpse of his future as he reconnects with the beautiful country and his family's past.

 

Elias Fikru has never met an opportunity he hasn't seized. Except, of course, for the life-changing one he's stubbornly ignored for the past nine months. He'd be a fool not to accept the chance to pursue his doctoral studies in the U.S., but saying yes means leaving his homeland, and Elias isn't ready to make that commitment.

 

Meeting Desta, the Dominican-American emergency relief worker with the easy smile and sad eyes, makes Elias want things he's never envisioned for himself. Rediscovering his country through Desta's eyes emboldens Elias to reach for a future where he can be open about every part of himself. But when something threatens the future that's within their grasp, Elias and Desta must put it all on the line for love.



Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Published: September 1st, 2020

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy/LGBTQ+

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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.


 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Published: September 6th, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy

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I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

 

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

 

 

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez
Published: January 7th, 2020

Publisher: Page Street Books

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

 

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

 

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

 

 

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: May 7th, 2019

Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

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With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain—and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life—and all the rules everyone expects her to play by—once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free. 


 

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemorePublished: September 22nd, 2020

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult Magical Realism/LGBTQ+

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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.



Have you read any of these books? Who are some of your favourite Latinx authors?



 

 


Monday, September 14, 2020

The Beat Match by Kelly Siskind: Banter and Chemistry Galore!

The Beat Match (Showmen #3) by Kelly Siskind
Published: September 16th, 2020

Publisher: CD Books

Tropes: Brother’s best friend, secret identity, opposites attract, friends to lovers, forbidden romance, slow burn

Heat level: 🔥🔥🔥

# of pages: 310

My rating: 5 stars

Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration

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Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US

 

Two DJs. One beat. An off-limits romance neither of them expected.

 

Weston Aldrich is known for his devastating looks and crisp Italian suits. He's been groomed to take over his family business and is on the brink of closing a massive merger. Only two wild cards can derail him.

 

Wild Card One: If anyone learns he moonlights as a masked DJ, his credibility will be toast.

Wild Card Two: Annie can’t-hold-a-job Ward.

 

The Annie Ward he promised to help raise after her brother died. The scatterbrained girl who makes it her mission in life to drive him crazy. The gorgeous woman he’s not supposed to fantasize about, let alone kiss.

 

Annie hates Wes’s insanely overprotective nature, and how his ridiculous bone structure makes him look like a Greek god. His jokes about her plethora of jobs are beyond irksome. She has no plans to tell him about her latest aspiration, to match beats as a budding DJ. Until she learns what Wes does at night. Now she plans to prove Weston Aldrich has met his match.

 

  

Out of all the new-to-me authors I’ve read in 2020, Kelly Siskind has risen to the top of my list of favourites. First with New Orleans Rush, then Don’t Go Stealing My Heart, now with The Beat Match, Siskind has officially earned a place on my auto-read list. She writes such fun, whimsical stories with tons of heart, great banter, sizzling chemistry, and realistic characters.


The Beat Match had all those things and then some. One of the things I love most about Siskind’s books, and this one in particular, is how realiastically flawed the characters are. They’re far from perfect, but that’s what makes them so relatable. They have so much depth, so many layers, and they leap off the pages, suck you in, and make you root for them. Her heroines are wonderfully quirky and eccentric, and I can not only see myself in them, I can also easily see being friends with them. Her heroes are hella swoony and become instant book boyfriends. Basically, she writes characters who are completely one-of-a-kind and I’m here for it!


Annie and Wes have known each other for years and are tied together forever by their shared grief over the loss of Annie’s older brother, Leo. So many of their decisions in life have been tied to what Leo would want, what he’d think, what he’d do. They want to honour him any way they can, and they remain in each other’s lives even though they drive each other bonkers most of the time. Annie’s free-spiritedness is the opposite of Wes’s buttoned-up, brooding professionalism. These two together were alternately hilarious and frustrating. I loved their banter and their chemistry, and it was so much fun watching them take their friendship to the next level. They had plenty of obstacles to face, both internal and external, but they were easy to cheer on, and I appreciated that they had to work for their happy ending because it made it that much more realistic.

 

The Beat Match is a heartfelt, funny, sexy story about friendship, grief, honouring those you love while also honouring your own desires, and following your heart. I laughed and cried and swooned, and finished reading with a big smile on my face. I can’t wait for the next Showmen book, The Knockout Rule!


Have you read The Beat Match? Have you read any of Kelly Siskind's other books? Who was the last author you added to your auto-read list?




*Please note I'm an Amazon affiliate, and some of the links in this review are affiliate links. All income made through affiliate sales goes directly back into maintaining Ramblings of a Daydreamer. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: Magic, Mystery, and Manipulation

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles
Published: August 25th, 2020

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

# of pages: 464

My rating: 4 stars

Acquired this book: From Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

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Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo


In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

 

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

 

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

 

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

 

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

 

 

 

What a ride this book was! Beautiful writing, incredible imagery, a captivating premise, enchanting characters, and plenty of magic and intrigue. 

 

In a world of magic - some born, some learned - Kallia is a powerful magic-wielder working as a showgirl in a magical club. Jack is the host - or the master - of the club, and he keeps Kallia close. The chemistry between Kallia and Jack was sizzling, but we were left to wonder about the relationship and their history. The club and Jack himself swirled with mystery, magic, and manipulation; the first few chapters of the book were lush and set the tone nicely. 

 

Kallia wants more from life than to repeat the same show every night in the master’s club. She wants to use her magic in a bigger, bolder way, and she wants to see what life is like beyond the gates that have become a prison for her. When she makes her escape to join a magic competition, her life changes in many ways and, for the first time ever, she’s free to do what she wants. There are obstacles to overcome, though: the competition is being judged by what’s essentially a good ol’ boys club - no girls allowed. Kallia constantly has to prove herself, even though she’s clearly the most talented magician any of them has ever seen. But she’s a girl - gasp! - so she must be fragile and weak, or intent on seduction because what else are girls good for? The only one who sees her as something more is Daron Demarco, a famous magician who left the magic scene two years ago after a tragic accident. There’s a lot of animosity between these two that slowly turns to an alliance, then friendship, then something more. 

 

What kept me from fully loving this book was the fact I found it a bit hard to keep up at times. There was so much happening, so much mystery, so many secrets, and also so many characters. Other than Demarco, I couldn’t keep any of the judges straight, and I had trouble keeping the circus performers straight too. I also feel like there were too many questions left unanswered. I read that this is slated to be a duology, but it would have been nice to have a few more loose ends tied up, especially because I know I’ll have forgotten a lot of things by the time the second book comes out.

 

Where Dreams Descend is a strong start to what’s sure to be an incredible, memorable duology.



Have you read Where Dreams Descend? What are some of your favourite books that involve magic?




*Please note I'm an Amazon affiliate, and some of the links in this review are affiliate links. All income made through affiliate sales goes directly back into maintaining Ramblings of a Daydreamer. Thank you for your support!


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