Writing Fantasy with Amparo Ortiz {Latinx Heritage Month Series 2020}

For the sixth and final post to wrap up my Latinx Heritage Month Series, today’s feature guest is Amparo Ortiz, an author whose comic appeared in the 2018 Eisner Award-winning anthology titled Puerto Rico Strong and recently released her debut novel, Blazewrath Games.

For today’s post, instead of a full interview we’re doing something a little different to conclude the series and introduce the first ever author-written blog essay here on 24hr.YABookBlog!

However before we delve into her essay, here’s Amparo to introduce a her novel and what it’s all about:

“First of all, thank you for having me on the blog today! As for Blazewrath Games, it’s the story of a seventeen-year-old girl from Puerto Rico who wants to represent her country in the Blazewrath World Cup. The tournament features dragon riders and their steeds, but Lana–my main character–is not a dragon rider and wants to claim the Runner position for her national team. However, there’s a cursed dragon wreaking havoc around the globe, and threatening to unleash more if the Cup isn’t canceled and all dragons are set free from sanctuaries and the Cup itself.”

I then asked Amparo what inspired her debut and whether there was anything in particular she was most excited for readers to discover or see for themselves:

“Sports in general, but soccer in particular! I knew I wanted to write about dragons in our world, but I didn’t know what they would do in our world. It wasn’t until the FIFA World Cup in 2014 that the sport of Blazewrath started to form in my mind. Then it took another year to figure out the “wrath” part of the sport, which also combines martial arts and combat (specifically for Lana’s position).”

“DRAGONS FROM AROUND THE WORLDDDD. Also, a global conspiracy and a magical mystery that was very fun to write!”

· · · ·

Amparo’s piece on fantasy is what she called “more of an encouragement piece” as she discusses her personal journey writing “The Puerto Rican Fantasy Book” and inspiring writers to add to the literary/fantasy canon:

During a recent event for Blazewrath Games promotions, I was told that I’d written The Puerto Rican Fantasy Book. It meant that my debut novel is currently the only contemporary fantasy book for young adults that centers around a Puerto Rican character within a world that blends magical elements and our everyday reality. It meant that whenever other Puerto Rican authors–or Latinx authors in general–want to pitch their stories, they could potentially compare them to mine.

To say that this blows my mind is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Not just because I’m humbled by the thought of helping others find space on shelves for their stories, but because how on Earth is this The Puerto Rican Fantasy Book?? That answer is long and layered. I know. But also, I think it’s worth noting how certain tropes–specifically in fantasy–have been written many times over and lauded as The Best… but they’re quite similar. When I realized I wanted to write about dragons, I knew they would be from my country instead of the myriad of European depictions I’ve grown up with. There was never a moment where I asked myself, “Can I write that?”, but I *did* ask myself, “Do readers want this?”


Then the question changed: “What am I adding to canon fantasy to make it reflect what *I* want to see more of?”

The answer was Blazewrath Games, my unapologetic exploration of a young Puerto Rican girl finding her voice and her power through the world’s deadliest sport. I hope more Latinx magical sports stories hit shelves soon. More Latinx magical stories in general, too, please.

I want my Puerto Rican Fantasy Book to be the worst one out there because everyone else’s stories will level up what readers are looking for, which I have no doubt will happen sooner rather than later. So if you want to write about dragons or witchcraft or any other fantastical thing, go for it. Fantasy is for everyone. The more we can push its boundaries, the better it will be.
” ― Amparo Ortiz, Oct. 16, 2020

To wrap-up today’s post, you can order Blazewrath Games from today’s featured Latinx-owned independent called Kew And Willow Books, located in New York!

Very recently, I also had a fun opportunity joining CW over at The Quiet Pond in my very FIRST INTERVIEW where I talked about book blogging, my 5-year journey, and lots more!! Read my full interview HERE!! 😉📚💞

Thank you so much to Amparo, Lory, and Lilliam for being guests in my first ever Latinx Heritage Month series. Also, a thank you to all you blog readers out there who visited to celebrate and uplift Latine voices, literature, and storytelling during September/October with me! Hoping to plan something again for 2021 because I truly loved this project and sharing it with each one of you means so much. Thank you! 💕

What Latinx books have you read during LHM? & Have you read Blazewrath Games? 🐲✨

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez ARC Review

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel IbañezWoven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Woven In Moonlight

Book Of The Month YA (January 2020 YA Pick)

Cover Design: Isabel Ibañez

Summary: 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.

*Received a print ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Woven In Moonlight is a Bolivian-inspired YA Fantasy that focuses on politics and history! Ximena is a stand-in for the Illustrian’s heir, whose on a mission to help her people and get Catalina on the throne. When Ximena’s role takes her deep into the palace of the Llacsans, she learns more about where she fits into this revolution and what her job as a decoy Condesa means for the future of Inkasisa! Ibañez’s standalone debut layers intricate politics, fascinating characters, and a vibrant, magical world inspired by Bolivian culture! 

I’d been looking forward to this debut for a couple years at this point and knowing it’s a Latinx YA Fantasy, I was even more hyped to read this book! Now that I’ve finally finished it, I wish I could go back and re-read it all over again!

Woven In Moonlight is a magical novel that’s deeply rooted in politics that’s explored through our introspective 1st person POV of Ximena Rojas!

Set in the country of Inkasisa, the Illustrians & Llacsans are battling over who will rule Inkasisa. The world itself is inspired by the author’s Bolivian culture! We follow Ximena, whose a stand-in for the Illustrian royal, Catalina! When the current ruler Atoc demands the Illustrian royal’s hand in marriage, Ximena has to go in her place.

It wouldn’t be a YA Fantasy novel without some magic, so early on in the novel we get beautifully written sentences that introduce the unique magic system!

“Illustris magic― magic from the heavens…manifests in different ways…” (9).

While there’s definitely a variety of abilities that are explained such as Moonsight, the ability to light darkened rooms, and reading fortunes through constellations, Ibañez beautifully described Ximena’s ability which allows her to create thread from moonlight!

There’s a deeply personal and introspective look into Ximena’s ability that you can sense through the lush, emotionally-driven descriptions. The reader really gets a sense of how this magic is so special to her! It’s also one of the more developed abilities we see throughout WIM and it was a lot of fun getting to explore the different facets to her magic from the thread to something very special that happens when she looks more closely at her woven tapestries!

As Ximena becomes immersed in the world of the Llacsans we delve even deeper into the politics, their royalty, and palace life. She’s on a mission to find the Estrella, which is an ancient relic that could give Illustrians a chance to reclaim their power. However, Ximena also has to make sure that her true identity is never found out.

Luckily, Ximena uses her ability to weave through moonlight as a way to hopefully keep in touch with the Illustrians and her closest friend Catalina. An important arc to her story and development is that throughout the novel, she learns more about the Llacsans of the palace, while also reflecting on these two sides of Inkasisa and where she fits in.

Throughout Woven In Moonlight as Ximena connects more with the Llacasan’s in the castillo like Rumi, Juan Carlos (his cousin), and the secretive princess Tamaya!

Ibañez’s writing perfectly balances the world, its layered politics, and the personal arcs of our main characters! Also woven into Ximena’s perspective is the Spanish language, weather and architecture, the most wonderful descriptions of Bolivian food, and focus on crafts such as textiles & weaving!

Some of the most memorable descriptions of this novel definitely included the delicious food and detail of Bolivian cuisine (which is mentioned in a glossary). I loved that they were often placed in quiet moments of the story when Ximena was planning or exploring the Cuidad Blanca!

I appreciated these descriptions so much because coming from a Latin American background, I felt such a deep connection to the world! There’s also deeply interwoven messages about identity, family, loss, revolution that are very clear from the start of the novel and become even more layered into the story as it progresses!

As mentioned before, the magic system was incredibly unique, especially Ximena’s ability and I appreciated how it was explored through the plot as Ximena finds a way to stay in contact with the resistance.

Just reading the descriptions of how she was weaving thread through moonlight were moving and beautifully explored why the art of crafts tied in so well with Ximena’s own personal journey to create something for herself!

While the magic itself is very light, I appreciated how it was a used more for developing the political layers of the story!

Identity was an important theme that I found was beautifully explored throughout WIM! Ximena was switched with Catalina 10 years ago when she joined the resistance and only a select few truly know that she’s a decoy. But it isn’t until she’s forced to go to Atoc’s palace where we see her skills as a decoy are truly tested. I found that Ximena’s new life in the palace forces her to confront who she really is and how her role as a decoy has made her realize she isn’t entirely sure where she fits in this revolution.

Through the use of a 1st person POV, the world of Inkasisa is painted through a unique lens where we really get a focus on politics and characters!

For me, I can often find it difficult to fully immerse myself in a world if the perspective is too driven by characters or internal emotion, but Ibañez delivered Ximena’s POV spectacularly!

I adored her narrative voice so much! Ximena is a fierce heroine who has lost a lot to the war between Illustrians & Llacsans that in realty has left her alone. Her parents died almost 10 years before and throughout the novel, she’s constantly confronted with losing those close to her! Ximena’s loneliness is present throughout the novel in distinct ways that really show how its such a vital piece to her as a character: her distance to others, how she navigates her role as Condesa while connecting with Llacsans at the palace, and how she grapples with the loss of people in her life that are like family to her!

I found that Ibañez deeply explored this element of loneliness through Ximena’s POV in such a subtle but impactful way! Ximena’s internal voice as we follow her journey is told through introspective and perceptive narrative that allows her to reflect on important choices she has to make when she begins to question her mission and how she can better help Inkasisa!

Also, what made this such a unique reading experience is that although, you go into YA Fantasy expecting epic adventure, constant action, etc. I appreciated that this was more of a slow-paced fantasy, but it really works because your able to be more rooted into the rich atmosphere and setting! So when there were big action scenes, they felt more impactful for sure!

The cast of characters were fantastic, there were always interesting dynamics to be explored throughout the story! I felt that there were many surprising sides to them that are developed throughout the novel and what made that fun was how they were perceived through Ximena’s POV. A vital thread that links all this together is Ximena’s duty to Catalina, her friend who is like a sister to her and what she’s willing to risk to get her on the throne. Their bond is incredibly important to her and alongside Ximena & Tamaya’s friendship, I adored the focus on female friendships in general throughout this novel! There’s also Rumi’s dynamic/friendship with Ximena and while I felt they could have had just a bit more page time together, it was really fun to read.

Some of my favorite characters include, the mysterious princess Tamaya, Rumi, and a mysterious vigilante known as El Lobo, who doesn’t side with either the Illustrians or Llacsans!

Ximena has grown up hearing stories about El Lobo who doesn’t really align with anyone, but fights for those who need it! She’s surprised to find him in a room of the castle one night when she’s trying to gather more intel on the Estrella, she runs into the famous vigilante! From the very beginning I loved their dynamic and how they become unlikely allies–there’s great banter between them and I loved the solving the mystery as to who he really was!

Next I wanted to discuss why I lowered my rating to 4 Stars: The plot itself continued to surprise me and I loved following Ximena’s journey. There’s tons of intrigue, mystery, and politics wrapped up into this story! However, there were moments I found the writing was very focused on Ximena’s internal POV. She really comes to life through a 1st person POV which is fantastic! But, because we’re really in her head and focus on a lot of internal/emotional dialogue, there were elements of the story could have been developed even more!

It felt like there were elements that could have been expanded on, because Ibañez made them such important and vital parts of the world itself! Such as the setting of Inkasisa, delving deeper into the history, and more interactions between the characters! I also felt the ending was a bit rushed, but left on a very real note that has me wanting more from the unique cast of characters!

With WIM being a standalone I definitely see there was a lot that Ibañez wanted to introduce in regards to Inkasisa’s setting, climate, culture, daily life, and history (which was fantastic 💞!!) I just wish there was even more exploration to all those wonderful elements!

Also as I’ve read other reviews about WIM from fellow Latinx bloggers, I wanted to highlight an important point that they’ve discussed, when it comes to how privilege was poorly handled through Ximena’s POV. These past few weeks have been hectic for me and as I read this book it really was just to escape into an immersive world, so with that said I personally had overlooked this element of the story! However, here are 2 wonderful bloggers whose reviews delve into how WIM handled colonization, privilege & how those discussions could have been improved! I recommend checking them out:

Cande from LatinxMagicbk & Alicia from AKernelOfNonsense

Woven In Moonlight is a delightful YA Fantasy that’s rooted in Bolivian culture and is deeply explored through the politics, world, and intriguing story that’s presented from Ximena’s wonderful POV! Ibañez ‘s debut is an immersive tale that delves deep into history and politics, while also being an action-packed, character-driven tale! This is a wonderful debut filled with surprises, set in a unique world that you want to keep exploring!

⁎⁎⁎
WIM is one of 1 of 5 Young Adult choices for Book Of The Month YA in January! If your a new subscriber, click the link above or Here & use the promo code ‘NEWME’ to get your 1st box for $9.99!! 🎉📚

Author Interview With Isabel Ibañez {Woven In Moonlight}

Hey everyone! Its been over a few months since I attended Yallwest 2019 and I’m thrilled to finally share, that I had the opportunity to interview 2020 YA Fantasy debut author: Isabel Ibañez!! 🎉✨

Her debut Woven In Moonlight is set to be released January 7, 2020 and we chatted all about the inspiration behind her story, its different layers, characters and other parts of her story that she’s looking forward to sharing with readers! (Thanks again Isabel 💕)

This interview was done during Fierce Reads Friday at Yallwest on May 3, 2019!

Here’s Isabel to talk a little more about Woven In Moonlight:

“My debut is a Bolivian political-fantasy and it’s about a decoy Condesa who infiltrates this corrupt monarchy and she sends coded messages back to the rebels through her weaving. So, she uses celestial magic and undergoes an experience unlike any she’s ever been taught or known!”

When talking about the inspiration behind her debut, she mentioned that she never really saw herself represented in any of the books she read―“I mean, [reading about] a South-American character would have been fabulous, but I never did…” 

“I really wanted to write someone that looks like me, understood my culture, the importance of family and so, I wanted someone to share that perspective and worldview that I had while growing up…”

Secondly, she discussed how the political climate in Bolivia is complicated and dangerous, so the antagonist is heavily inspired by the current president/dictator. She “wanted to write and tell this story because it’s not really talked about…”

Next, we discussed the elements of Bolivian culture within her novel and I asked Ibañez if there were any, that while writing, she thought “yes, this has to be in the story!”

“I love food and I love the experiences that are centered around sharing a meal. Bolivia has such wonderful, wonderful dishes and recipes, so all of those foods that I enjoyed eating with my family ended up in Woven In Moonlight!”

Alongside that, Woven In Moonlight is also heavily inspired by the “food, clothing, and the Bolivian history as well. Your going to find snippets of that in the story woven throughout (pun intended 😂✨).”

Ibañez and I then discussed what it meant for her to create this fantasy world inspired by a country that hasn’t really been represented in YA Fantasy before:

“It’s amazing to me that there could be a story that can touch people in this country because growing up Bolivian in the US, I ran into a variety of people from Spanish-speaking countries, but I didn’t often run into a Bolivian. So when I started getting sweet emails from readers who had some sort of relationship with Bolivia (either from there, lived there, or had a relative whose from there), it was astounding that there were people here who had that kind of connection to Bolivia and hopefully, this book reaches them!

I hope they can find and see themselves in this story and that really matters to me.”

Woven In Moonlight is a standalone fantasy novel and it does have a “satisfying ending”  but Ibañez shared that she does leave many threads open! With that said, it was announced on June 21 that Ibañez will be returning to the fantasy kingdom she created  within Woven In Moonlight in 2021 with a spin-off!

If your anticipating Woven In Moonlight, she also discussed some elements of the story that she’s looking forward to see readers explore throughout her story:

“I love YA and I’ve read so many books that center around a revolution, and this idea of fighting for a type of republic/democracy that benefits everyone. We’ve seen those books, I’ve bought those books, read them and loved them. So, I’m looking forward to see readers excited about a revolution story that’s happening in real time, in Bolivia.

If you read the book very closely and do a bit of research with the current Bolivian politics, you might see some parallels.”

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel IbañezNext we talked about her cover! If you didn’t know, it was announced back in March that Isabel would be designing her own book cover and as of June 6, the cover for Woven In Moonlight has been revealed via Hypable!

“My editor reached out to me asking if I knew of any Bolivian artists I could contract for the cover and I happened to be an artist/illustrator + greeting card designer by day! So I sent her my portfolio and I’m excited that they went ahead and trusted me with so much of the book. There was so much support, encouragement, and the fact that they even asked (wanting a Bolivian artist to do the cover) just meant so much to me!

They were doing everything they could to step-up in regards to representation, support, and encouragement for this book!”

Next we talked about the main character of Woven In Moonlight, Ximena, who has the unique ability to spin thread from moonlight. In doing so, she’s able to use this power to help the resistance. Ibañez delved a little more into her inspirations for Ximena’s rare ability.

“In Bolivia, the tradition of weaving tapestries, blankets, pouches, bags, that is a long-standing tradition, its beautiful, bright, and colorful! These women who work the loom are absolutely talented and many of us learn how to weave. Its such a Bolivian art form…I’m a weaver and I wanted to give Ximena something that felt very Bolivian, something I knew intimately well, also as an artist I think there is something so beautiful about being able to create something by hand and have this piece of art you’ve created. Using your imagination and a skill set handed down to you–I really wanted Ximena to have that. Also because I love fantasy, I wanted to infuse her ability with something special. In Bolivia, there are a group of people who still respect and worship different deities, that they’ve inherited from their Incan ancestors, so I wanted to honor that as well!”

“When I was thinking of what kind of ability Ximena could have, I was inspired by Pachamama (Incan goddess of the earth). I also thought about not going downward, but up and that’s how I picked that type of magic…”

I then chatted with Ibañez about the elements of Woven In Moonlight she had the most fun developing!

“I loved creating Ximena! She’s named after my mother and she’s someone who is fierce, loyal, incredibly brave, and outspoken. So, I wanted to create this character out of love and respect for my mother, but also because I’ve always been fascinated by her courage! Ximena came really easily to me because I felt I really knew her–so that was a lot of fun!”

To conclude our interview, Ibañez shared her final thoughts on why readers should check out Woven In Moonlight:

“If you love food, magic, kissing, adventure, stories about girls who are flawed and whose reactions aren’t perfect, are still growing, confronting and called out for their mistakes, I think you should check out Woven In Moonlight! Plus, did I mention there’s lots of good food?”

Also, as part of Isbael’s Inkasisa Street Team for WIM I wanted to share the wonderful pre-order campaign going on! Here’s some of the awesome swag that’ll be included:

Woven In Moonlight bookmark, print, sticker, annotated PDF of Chapter 1, and there’ll be special grand prizes! All the info/details can be found on her Instagram post here!
(*To show support for the street team too, if you find yourself pre-ordering please include this code in your email INKASISA07)

Are you looking forward to Woven In Moonlight? 🌙✨

Latinx YA Book Recommendations For Your TBR! {2018 + 2019}

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ With Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month right around the corner (September 15- October 15), I thought I’d recommend a list of some upcoming YA Book Releases coming out this fall, written by Latinx Authors!

The list includes: Contemporary, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Paranormal, & Retellings!

And I’m even adding in some upcoming 2019 YA Releases I’m eagerly waiting for & ones I recommend adding to your TBR right away if you haven’t already! (Get those 2019 TBRs ready!!)

With that said, onto the list!

And if there’s any I may have missed, please let me know in the comments!

Contemporary

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes1.Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Release Date:
September 18, 2018
Pages:
416
Summary: Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process? (ARC Review To Come!)

American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott2. American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date:
September 18, 2018
Pages:
272
Summary: With a strong, loving family, an incredibly loyal best friend, and a budding romance with the girl of his dreams, life shows promise for seventeen-year-old Teodoro “T” Avila. But he takes some hard hits the summer before his senior year when his nearly perfect brother Manny returns from a tour in Iraq with a devastating case of PTSD.

In a desperate effort to save Manny from himself and pull their family back together, T’s fiery sister Xochitl hoodwinks her brothers into a road trip with many stops along the road to visit loved ones from their past.

The Resolutions by Mia Garcia3.The Resolutions by Mia Garcia
Publisher: 
Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date:
November 13, 2018
Pages:
416
Summary: New Years are for fresh starts, but Jess just wants everything to go back to the way it was.

From hiking trips, to four-person birthday parties, to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable—and unstoppable. But now, with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been splintering off and growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them for each other—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, show your paintings, learn Spanish, say yes to everything.

But not even the best laid plans can take into account the uncertainties of life. As the year unfolds, Jess, Ryan, Nora, and Lee each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heart breaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems. 

Fantasy

Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria1.Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria
Publisher:
Amulet
Release Date:
October 9, 2018
Pages:
480
Summary: In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.

Magical Realism

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore1.Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date:
October 9, 2018
Pages:
384
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 wepay to protect our hearts.

Paranormal

Seventh Born by Monica Sanz1.Seventh Born by Monica Sanz (The Witchling Academy #1)
Publisher: 
Entangled Teen
Release Date:
September 4, 2018
Pages:
400
Summary: Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.
 
Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.
 
The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.

Retellings

Pride by Ibi Zoboi1.Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Publisher: 
Balzer + Bray
Release Date:
September 18, 2018
Pages:
304
Summary: Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

Upcoming 2019 YA Latinx Books

While this list features my top 7 anticipated 2019 YA Latinx releases, definitely keep an eye out on the blog for a full list of YA & MG Latinx releases closer to (or in) early 2019!

Now here are the upcoming 2019 YA Latinx book releases I am beyond excited to get my hands on and read! I definitely recommend you add these to your TBR! ❤

1.We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

2. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (The Last 8 #1)

3.Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

4.This Just In by Maritza Moulite & Maika Moulite

5. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

6. Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

7. Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

What Latinx YA Releases are you looking forward to?

*I’ve also linked each book cover to its Book Depository page if your interested in pre-ordering (*It is an affiliate link) If you like my content & would like to support me through those links, it would mean a lot!

Book Bytes #14

Book Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month, posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!
I’ve now split up the news into categories, to make it easier to jump to whichever book news you’d like to read about!

If there’s any book news I missed or any you want to discuss, definitely leave a comment!

Adaptation News

1.The Miseducation Of Cameron Post Trailer

With the August 3 release of The Miseducation Of Cameron Post film, the first official trailer was revealed July 5!

2. Sacred Lies Mini Series Trailer

Set to premiere July 27 through Facebook as a mini series (with new episodes each Friday), the trailer for Sacred Lies (based on Stephanie Oakes novel, The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly) debuted July 16 from Penguin Teen!

3. All The Bright Places Movie News

On July 23, Jennifer Niven, author of All The Bright Places, announced through her twitter that the character of Theodore Finch would be played by Justice Smith!

Additionally Deadline released an article stating that director, Brett Haley is also attached to the project!

4. Legend picked up by BCDF Pictures

Marie Lu author of the Legend Trilogy, announced as of July 26 that Legend was acquired by BCDF Pictures (after having been with CBS Films since 2011).

Through twitter, Lu stated “I want to emphasize that our rights were sold again MAINLY BECAUSE of your continued, steady love for Legend both online and in person. I cannot ever thank you all enough…”

According to The Hollywood Reporter a script has been put together, but no other news as of yet!

Book Deals

1.The Lost Sisters by Holly Black

NOVL announced as of July 9, that Holly Black’s The Folk Of The Air trilogy, would be getting an e-novella, set during The Cruel Prince & before The Wicked King.

According to The NOVL’s blog post, “It’s told in a letter from Taryn to Jude about how she fell in love with Locke.”

This $2.99 e-novella, will be released October 2, 2018!

2.The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

Set to be released June 13, 2019, The Paper & Hearts Society is book 1 in a trilogy, which follows Tabby Brown who is “tired of trying to fit in with her classmates. She doesn’t want to go to parties at the weekend – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

That is until she moves to a new town where a book club, The Paper & Hearts Society, is recruiting. Tabby might just be in luck. Enough of her old “friends” who only talk to her when they need something. It’s time for Quidditch themed fancy dress parties, games like “shut up and Shakespeare” … and LOTS of chocolate “ (Announced July 17).

3.Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Set to be released in Fall of 2019 is Isabel Ibañez’s debut, Woven In Moonlight, through Page Street Books!

This #OwnVoices Bolivian-inspired political fantasy follows “a magically gifted weaver who plays the role of double agent to restore her queen to a troubled throne, but upon confronting a masked vigilante and a warm-hearted princess, she discovers that corruption comes in all forms ” (Announced July 19).

4.American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar

Set to be released in Spring of 2020 with Knopf, Anuradha D. Rajurkar’s Contemporary debut, American Betiya follows “a teenage artist grappling with forbidden love, family boundaries, and her boyfriend’s exoticization of her Indian heritage” (Announced July 24).

5.Color Outside the Lines edited by Sangu Mandanna

Set to release Fall 2019 through Soho Teen, is a YA Anthology edited by Sangu Mandanna.

This YA Anthology centers around “interracial relationships and the complicated, rewarding and sometimes hilarious dynamics between friends, family, and first loves.”

The collection will feature authors such as Anna-Marie McLemore, Adam Silvera, Samira Ahmed! (Announced July 26).

Cover reveals

1.Internment by Samira Ahmed

On July 2, EW revealed the cover and excerpt to Samira Ahmed’s 2019 Contemporary novel Internment.

“Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.”

Internment by Samira Ahmed is set to be released March 19, 2019!

2.The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

As of July 6, Paste Magazine revealed the cover, alongside an excerpt of Ormsbee’s upcoming Contemporary The Great Unknowable End!

According to Paste the novel “addresses suicide, complicated families and… cults.”

The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee is set to be released February 19, 2019!

3.Seventh Born by Monica Sanz

Revealed on July 6 through her twitter, was the cover to Monica Sanz’s debut novel, Seventh Born!

Seventh Born by Monica SanzAbomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.

Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.

The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.”

Seventh Born in set to be released September 4, 2018!

4.Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Through Barnes & Noble Teen Blog on July 9, a cover and excerpt was revealed to Amy Rose Capetta’s & Cori McCarthy’s genderbent King Arthur retelling: Once & Future!

Once & Future is set to be released March 5, 2019!

5.Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen

Revealed through Swoon Reads blog on July 14, was the cover for Jenn P. Nguyen’s contemporary Fake It Till You Break It!

Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen“Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…”

Alongside the official cover, Nguyen also shares her thoughts on it and how it came to be!

6. The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

On July 18, Barnes & Noble Teen Blog revealed the cover, alongside a Q&A to Hanna Alkaf’s debut novel The Weight Of Our Sky!

This novel is”Set in Kuala Lumpur during the race riots of 1969, it centers on Mel, a Beatles-loving sixteen-year-old dealing with the OCD she believes is caused by the djinn she carries inside of her. When violent rioting breaks out, she must traverse a city in peril to reunite with her mother…”

The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf is set to be released February 5, 2019!

7. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The U.K. cover for Christine Lynn Herman’s debut novel, The Devouring Gray, was revealed through MuggleNet!

The novel follows “four teens who have the power to protect their town from a monster – if their families’ dark secrets don’t devour them first.”

The Devouring Gray is set to be released in 2019! (US release date is set for April 2, 2019!)

8. The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

As of July 18, the cover for Alyssa Wees debut The Waking Forest was revealed through her twitter!

The Waking Forest by Alyssa WeesPan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazel Wood in this novel about a girl with terrifying visions and a wish-granting witch whose lives collide in the most unexpected of ways.

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

The Waking Forest Alyssa Wees is set to be released March 12, 2019!

9. You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman

The cover for Laura Silverman’s upcoming contemporary novel, You Asked For Perfect had its cover reveal + excerpt via Bustle on July 19!

Silverman’s novel centers around Ariel Stone, “the perfect college applicant. But a failed calculus quiz threatens his valedictorian standing and sends him into a tailspin. He reluctantly—secretly—gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in calculus, and Ariel is low on options. Their time together goes better than expected, and soon, their relationship ventures beyond textbooks.

Except throwing himself into calculus and a burgeoning romance detracts Ariel’s attention from his other classes. Ariel could lose everything he’s worked his whole life to achieve. But how much is Ariel willing to sacrifice in the name of academic perfection?”

You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman is set to be released March 1, 2019!

10. The Hate U Give Exclusive Covers

Announced through Angie Thomas’s twitter on July 26, it was revealed that her debut novel The Hate U Give would be getting 2 new editions, set to be released in September of this year!

A movie-tie in cover and an exclusive gold collectors edition! According to the publisher’s website, the gold collectors edition “contains a letter from the author, the meanings behind the names in the book, a map of Garden Heights, fan art, the full, original story that inspired the book, and an excerpt from On the Come Up.”

11. When The Sky Fell On Splendor by Emily Henry

Revealed via Unbound Worlds, as of July 26, was the cover (alongside an interview) to Emily Henry’s upcoming novel, When The Sky Fell On Splendor, which is pitched as “The Serpent King meets Stranger Things in Emily Henry’s gripping novel about a group of friends in a small town who find themselves dealing with unexpected powers after a cosmic event.”

When The Sky Fell On Splendor by Emily Henry is set to be released March 12, 2019!

12. Firestarter by Tara Sim

Released on July 31 via Hypable Books, was the cover (& excerpt) to the final book in Tara Sim’s Timekeeper trilogy, Firestarter!

Firestarter by Tara Sim is set to be released January 1, 2019!

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1.Six Of Crows UK Collectors Edition

Leigh Bardugo announced through her twitter that there would be a Six Of Crows Collectors Edition coming October of this year, which will have: a new cover, character art, & a letter from Leigh!

For those not in the UK, Aus, & NZ, its also available through The Book Depository

2. King Of Scars UK Pre-Order

With King Of Scars releasing early in 2019, Bardugo also announced a UK Pre-Order for King Of Scars!

From pre-ordering through Waterstones, you could be entered to win 1 of 50 limited edition prints of Nikolai Lanstov (art by Kevin Wada).

3. Penguin Teen 2019 Cover Reveals

Throughout the week of July 23, Penguin Teen revealed 3 covers for their upcoming 2019 YA Releases!

The Triumphant by Lesley Livingston

Tarot by Marissa Kennerson

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Tours

1.Wildcard by Marie Lu

Announced July 31, were the tour dates for Marie Lu’s Wildcard, the sequel/finale to the Warcross duology!

She will be on tour from September 18-24!

Full tour schedule can be found on Penguin Teen’s post Here!