Book Blogger Resources: Crafting Book Reviews

In the world of book blogging, book reviews are a staple of the community. Our thoughts, emotions, and musings on a particular book can surprisingly be compiled into a single post. However, this task is not always easy and crafting a review takes time.

Once you close the final page, your mind is probably reeling with endless thoughts on how the world, characters, and story made you feel (whether positively or not).

Regardless, it takes time and there’s many story elements to consider when writing reviews and in reality, us bloggers put ourselves under such pressure to accomplish this seemingly impossible task time and time again.

Book reviews are a way for us to sort of unveil our own experiences when reading a particular book and if we absolutely love it, reviews have the special sort of magic in making us feel like we are pushing the book into readers hands right then and there.

That’s why in my second Book Blogger Resources post, I’ll be sharing a broad list of resources filled with articles (and blog posts) that can help guide you in your own reviews. In addition, I will also highlight some of my own tips and offer any advice I can.

📚☕ BLOGS & ARTICLES 📚☕

The Quiet Pond: CW crafted a list featuring 63 prompts to help you when you are stuck on writing a book review. Featuring categories such as writing, plot, characters, worldbuilding, etc. this post highlights different angles you can examine these elements from with the variety of questions. There’s also questions focusing on positives / negatives for more clarity too.

This post offers a lot of distinct elements to think about when trying to write a review. I enjoy looking back at this post when I’m unsure of other topics to cover in an occasional review.

Purdue Owl (Online Writing Lab): As a university student, this site has been a life-saver when it comes to citations, however I recently discovered this wonderful article on “Writing A Book Review” and believe it has a lot of phenomenal key concepts to think about as you’re reading.

It mentions 5 broad elements that can make up the structure of your review such as Characters, Themes, Argument, Key Ideas, and Quotes. There’s great descriptions for each of these and overall I love how this post was structured.

Grammarly: Through a very easy to read How-To, Grammarly’s blog post features some tips on what to include when writing, such as a hook to capture reader’s attention and how to describe your praises or critiques. It also features examples which can be really helpful.

📚☕ 24hr.YABookBlog Reviewing Tips 📚☕

Figuring out what sticks
Once I finish a book there’s always a particular element that stayed with me long after I finish reading. It can truly end up being anything from the arc of a character to the atmosphere, writing, or a combination. Focus on a particular element that stuck with you about the book, to help anchor your review.

Whether I loved the book or thought it was okay, there’s always something I got out of reading it and recognizing that has helped me to gather my thoughts more clearly over the years.

Short Reviews
Despite my preference for writing long reviews, there’s a lot of value in short reviews. They don’t have to be 1,000 word essays if you don’t want them too. Remember that your opinion is what matters and as long as you get that across, don’t worry about the length. As the old saying goes, sometimes “less is more!”

Figuring out your structure
Sometimes this can change even for me depending on the book, but as general rule I always like to include at least 1-3 core elements of a book to discuss. This helps me create a beginning, middle, and end when explaining my thoughts.

For example: I recently read A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen which is a prequel/origin story to an antagonist in her podcast The Bright Sessions. Something that helped me figure out these core elements was using Tip #1 [Figuring out what sticks], which ended up being how she humanized the villain who is also our protagonist. This then led me to find my other elements to discuss such as the canon of the original podcast and the character’s emotional journey.

“She does a fantastic job at humanizing even the most morally questionable characters, if anything it made me realize why creators are hesitant at crafting stories from villains perspectives…”24hryabookblog, Excerpt from my review of A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

Don’t Ignore Worldbuilding Details
Whether it’s a fantasy, sci-fi or even contemporary, authors always take time to build a world for the story they tell. As you read, take note as to what those details are. Often times the world can give a lot of insight into the plot, society as a whole, atmosphere, how the protagonist(s) interpret it or how the world influences the characters themselves. Noticing these details can help you to explain the worldbuilding in your reviews, or perhaps the character’s place within it.

Worldbuilding can appear in a variety of ways such as the magic system, the setting, writing style, and even the development or expansion of specific details as the story progresses.

Brief BONUS tip on reviewing comics (or graphic novels) insp. by StoriedShelves response to my post asking for topic suggestions in this post:

This is something I’ve learned over the years and I’m always practicing with each review, but I think it’s important to also look at the art style. Think about how the art style adds to the story and describe what you like about it. While the story can be more fast-paced than a typical prose novel, I’d say take time to look and appreciate the art too.

To conclude, these are just some of my tips for including particular elements within a book to your review if you’re struggling or stumped on how to approach certain parts of the process. Sometimes it can feel like quite the challenge and as Marie from Drizzle And Hurricane Books said so graciously in her 2018 blog post which captured my thoughts exactly, “Reviewing a book starts the moment you are reading…” Your thoughts, opinions, and emotions are a part of the reading experience from beginning to end, so be sure to consider that if you need extra guidance in your posts.

Hope my post has offered some value to all of you bookish reviewers and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

✨ What do you enjoy about writing reviews? ✨ How do you decide what you want to write about in your book review? ✨ Will you use any of the resources or my personal tips in your own reviews?

*Note: If you do end up using my personal tips and were influenced by reading my post, PLEASE let me know & link this post (credit me) it would mean a lot to me knowing my resources helped other reviewers or bloggers out there with their own posts!

Where’s All The Book-to-Video Game Adaptations? {Book Blog Discussion}

It’s no surprise that I’m eager to see book adaptations break the mold when it comes to the medium in which they are told (you can read my discussion on Animation, here). So when I read adult SFF author Alix E. Harrow’s Tweet wondering why more books aren’t being adapted into video games, there was a lot I had to say on the subject which led me to create today’s post.

In the years before I found my love for reading, video games were my go-to hobby. Similar to my TBR though, there’s many games I’ve neglected to return to over the past few years, I’m always keeping updated on new or interesting titles that catch my attention. It’s my firm belief that mediums such as animation and video games are very much sidelined when it comes to creating adaptations based on written source material. They are an innovative form of storytelling that can be done in an endless number of formats, yet is often left out of the adaptation conversation. Now I’m very aware of the budget (and technology) required to create projects of this scale…however, I find that I’m always left wondering the “what ifs” and the potential to create a more interactive, immersive experience through the video game format.

One that many are aware of such as The Witcher, which is now a hit Netflix series, was actually first adapted into a successful video game franchise, starting in 2007 as an action RPG. Even Sir Terry Pratchett’s expansive Discworld Series was adapted into a point-and-click adventure game in the 90’s.

Book adaptations in a way are occupying a unique space right now where they are going direct to consumers, for example through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services [with Shadow And Bone, Always And Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys 3) slated to arrive early this year]. Now consider mobile games you can play directly on your phone, software like Steam to download games instantly, etc.

The biggest space where I can see already published books being developed into video games is most definitely in the SFF, science fiction and fantasy genres. With a variety of publishers from Tor to Harper, Orbit, etc., there’s lots of potential to bring epic sci-fi/fantasy series, novellas, you name it to the unique market of gaming too.

The reason video games carry such a particular and notable weight in terms of adaptations is the immersive quality to them. When you enter the world of a video game, you become the main character (or characters) in a way you can’t do when watching the finished product of a television series or film. Sure you experience both in very distinct ways, but video games offer the exclusive opportunity for you to experience the world, connect with the cast, and carry on the story at your own pace as the MC yourself.

Similar for book-to-screen adaptations, video games can embed the story elements of our favorite books (especially fantasy or science fiction) through a plethora of ways, such as the expansive world or setting, character design, outfits, the environmental storytelling, architecture, npc dialogue, even the soundtrack.

Video games at their core are comprised of challenges or quests, engaging mechanics, and a fundamental goal for it’s story. The reason that books can make such an impact in this already wide-ranging market with genres, animation, and narratives of all kinds is that they carry all the these key ingredients that can carry over into a fun, dynamic video game space.

However, aside from storytelling another vital piece of the video game recipe is the gameplay (or combat) itself. From puzzle games, to open-world settings, RPG’s, strategy, visual novels, VR, action-adventure, and so on…the narrative within books themselves can allow for an endless of possibility of gameplay mechanics in order to tell the story.

The story and game design (or mechanics) in my opinion, work best when they are interconnected and benefit or even build each other to tell plot in the best way possible. The activity of reading a book and playing a video game, require very different muscles. For one, in video games it’s all about interaction, strategy, in order to actively progress through. However, that’s exactly why they would make such a great medium for adapting books, for those who are familiar with the story, now you become a part of it. Speaking to the other characters, voyaging across the setting, or something as simple as interacting with environment.

There’s also infinite possibilities when choosing core elements of the book’s plot, character, dialogue and world to create specific tasks, goals, or quests, even cutscenes that dictate how the in-world setting and story of a video game would operate. Thus, this creates an incredibly narrative-driven experience.

Now for the rest of the post I’m going to list a few books that I think would make great video games and delve into what I think the best gameplay/mechanic and narrative that would fit best with a particular book! Now there’s tons of books I’ve read that would make amazing video games, but these are just some I think I could explain with the most clarity…however, of course PLEASE recommend your own and share your dream book-to-game adaptations with me in the comments as well!

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano: Because I’m currently reading the sequel as I draft this post, there was a spark of an idea I just couldn’t let go of!

This game I can perfectly picture (with cover artist, Mirelle Ortega’s beautiful artwork) as a very cute point-and-click, narrative game where the player can create delicious and magical treats from the Amor y Azúcar Panadería as the main character Leo.

Not only is the storytelling of this series incredibly wholesome, but Meriano develops a unique magic system surrounded by baking and brujeria skills of the Logroño family.

The backgrounds of the bakery, even the specific baking ingredients, and magical items the Logroño family uses would all be at the center of this quiet contemporary fantasy game.

Scavenge The Stars by Tara Sim: From the moment I stepped into the lavish, tropical, rich and detailed setting of Moray, a thought that stuck with me throughout the entirety of the novel was…”WOW, this needs to be an video game tbh.” This Monte Cristo retelling is filled with revenge, corruption, but at its heart a tale of legacy and identity that would be perfectly executed as action role-playing game.

I can clearly picture this novel as an adventure RPG filled with quests, treasures, sea faring, intrigue, and above all an open world where you can be both Cayo and Amaya as they uncover more secrets about the dual-sided city of Moray.

The setting and atmosphere that Sim weaves throughout the novel would perfectly transition to a format for players to explore the world themselves as they journey either Cayo or Amaya’s stories.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi: This idea did not even cross my mind until I saw fellow booktwt friends mention that TGW would make an amazing puzzle game, and I agree!

Set in Paris 1889 and on the verge of the Exposition Universelle, Chokshi’s magic system and adorable crew of misfits would be perfect as a visual novel melded with the strategy of a puzzle game to tell the story of the crew on a mission to hunt down an ancient artifact.

What would be at the core of this fictional game, in my opinion, would be the atmospheric soundtrack, detailed characters/text boxes and backgrounds making for fun interactive puzzles across Paris, even the focus on narrative to uncover the secrets, but also delve into the various themes Chokshi centers into her novel.

Skip by Molly Mendoza: One of my favorite graphic novels of 2019, this graphic novel that blew me away with its beautiful storytelling and surrealist, colorful artwork (Seriously if you haven’t read this graphic novel please read my REVIEW if you need more convincing).

This is set in a post-apocalyptic world where protagonists Bloom and Gloopy are from different dimensions and become best friends, while also trying to find their way back home. When I think of this as a video game, I picture it with a Journey-esque quality (if you know what game I’m talking about) where there’s no health bar/status and is just about exploring the open world setting and interacting with the world or characters.

Basically no overly serious quests, just traveling in a marvelously illustrated world and immersing yourself in the aesthetics of it all. I also picture the cutscenes done in the style of Mendoza’s artwork from the graphic novel.

Perhaps for a future post I can share more of these ideas for book-to-game, but to conclude I had a lot of fun writing + crafting this post, and sure hope you enjoyed reading it. Perhaps one day studios will experiment more in animation and video game adaptations when it comes to books!

Do you have an dream books-to-videogame adaptations? What kind of game format do you imagine and thoughts on the ones I mentioned above? 📚🎮💖

Book Blogger Resources: Creating Graphics For Posts and Organizing Your Reading

In 2021 a goal of mine is to bring bookish posts that helps other book bloggers and creators by sharing lists of various resources to alleviate the stress when your unsure of how to create your next graphic, organize your reading, making posts, etc. Book Bloggers put in numerous hours into crafting content and I’d love for this series to help either new or long-term creators utilize these tools to elevate your amazing work.

When I first began my blog in 2015, I never knew about these resources for creating graphics and when you think about it, visuals are such an important part of how we interact with content.

Over the years I’ve gotten a better hang of making banners for my posts and want to share what I’ve learned with all of you! I’ve created a broad resource for book bloggers looking to make graphics for their posts, blog and social media. I’ll be splitting it up by graphic design platforms, places where you can find images, and chat about places where you can keep your reading organized (aside from Goodreads).

📚☕ GRAPHICS 📚☕

Canva: This FREE graphic design platform is filled with numerous templates and layouts making it incredibly easy to create banners and featured images for your blog posts /content. There’s even specific templates for platforms such as Instagram and Twitter providing you with the perfect sized image.

There’s various tools that provide free backgrounds or images, text, and design elements so you can customize your graphic in any way you’d like. I use this a lot for my own blog and highly recommend using it if you haven’t already!

FhotoJet: Another website perfect for creating graphics, there’s a lot of premade templates, images, and text available to use. I tried this one out without needing to create an account, so if you want to make something super quick, this is a nice website! Recently discovered it and I think it’s worth checking out.

📚☕ Free Stock Images 📚☕

Unsplash: This website is full of thousands of free stock photos and the layout of the website makes it very simple to scroll, search, even find photos based on locations or tags. I’ve honestly spent hours scrolling on this site and am always left pleasantly surprised by the range of photos available. I’m pretty sure sites like ‘Book Riot use it for their posts, so I recommend checking out their Twitter to see how some of the photos look.

Additional sites that have free vectors, images, or illustrations: FREEPIKPIXABYPEXELS

Museums and access to images in the public domain: This is a unique resource I’ve only learned more about over the past couple years and I don’t utilize it much, but it’s a fantastic way to incorporate artwork into your graphics if you’re interested. According to Creative Law Center, this post contains various galleries of museum artwork you can access for free (just as long as you select “public domain” or similar wording under the filters when browsing). They are free to download and offer a large variety of work to view.

(Or whenever you want to use artwork/photographs provided by museums, just make sure it has the Creative Commons License)

📚☕ Organizing Your Reading 📚☕

With many readers actively searching for Goodreads alternatives that offer more features and customization, here’s a few places you should check out!

Storygraph: You’ve probably heard of this platform over the past year and what makes this website great, aside from its user-friendly and eye-catching layout, this is the place to “[help] you track your reading and choose your next book based on your mood and your favorite topics and themes.” Its a great website to discover new reads from the ‘Browse Books’ section and learn more about a book through different literary devices or elements like tone and pacing. There’s also more customizable ratings letting you be more specific and I think it also lists content warnings for books.

I haven’t spent too much time on my account, but I’d love to check back and see all the new features the Storygraph has added now that it’s out of Beta mode.

Booksloth (App): One of my favorite bookish apps by far now is Booksloth, I think its such an inviting space and truly makes reading feel more like a community activity through it’s discussion section, customizable shelves, and by making it incredibly easy to customize your profile making reading feel more personal and fun!

According to their website Booksloth is all about offering “personalized book recommendations” and making it easy to join their “bookish community.”

I’ve been meaning to get back to using this app because another one of my favorite features is how it lets you rate different story elements of a book and just discover new reads (or even recommend some) in the discussion section.

Readng: This reading tracker launched I think within the past couple years (2019-2020) and I’ve only just discovered it in the past month, but overall I love what I’m seeing. I like the layout of the site and how clean the design is. Its so easy to create collections for specific books, track current/finished/tbr reads (all determined with specific icons on the navigation bar), and there’s upcoming additions like statistics, reviews, and reading goals!

I like how it’s easy to see a live feed of other users activity for the books their reading and import directly from Goodreads.

Digital Spreadsheets: As I’m sure you’ve probably seen around the book community from different bookish creators are reading trackers through spreadsheets. Creators often make blog posts or videos and link their templates which provide an easy way to track your reading in a more detailed fashion.

When seeing all the different kinds of templates out there it can be a bit overwhelming, but over the past year I’ve found its a great way to not only track reading, but other specific book-related stuff too. In a future blog post I’d love delve more into my 2021 spreadsheet and offer unique ways to create your own.

Overall what makes spreadsheets such a great resource for book bloggers (or any book content creator) is how easy it is to customize it in whatever way you want and there’s lots of different digital tools you can use to get started! There’s places like Google docs or sheets, using templates, maybe even Notion, or other note-taking websites!

Hope my blog post offered some value for book bloggers or other bookish creators and I’ve love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

✨ What sites do you use to create graphics? ✨ ✨How do you track your reading?✨ ✨Will you use any of the resources I mentioned above?✨

Taking a Blog Hiatus…sort of? {Blog Discussion}

Hello everyone, on the eve of the new year that is 2021 I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blog, reading, reviewing, basically a lot. For months I’ve been dreading making this post because 24hr.YABookBlog has been place where I’ve seen myself grow as a reader, writer, content creator, and as a person. But in the rush to keep up with new blog posts, reviewing, posting weekly content, I especially found myself being burned out during 2020. With other life priorities I see how that was reflected in my blog posts, although I’m so proud of the content I created in the past year, it’s important for me to take time for myself too.

In my 5 years as a blogger I’ve NEVER taken an official hiatus, but there’s moments like now where it’s important to remember that occasional breaks are necessary. Although I feel like with a more free schedule in 2021 I’ll definitely be reading more, I also care about bringing the best blog content I can to all of you. This means I need to take that time to find out what I’m missing and where to go from here.

At most I think I’ll take the month of January off (although I’ll be reviewing and posting still…sort of? It’s complicated). There’s other blogs and spaces where I’ve been eager to get back to creating for too and this will give me more time to reflect on my content here, like The Booked Shelf and another awesome space I’ll talk about more once I’m back! I’m also planning to catch up on lots of books in January 2021 so I’ll still be posting reviews here, I just think it’ll just be more sporadic for a couple weeks (I’ll probably make them very brief for the time being, but again not too sure yet).

My goal is to improve my reviewing, discussions, and writing in general. I’ve been caught in a routine that I’ve noticed when it comes to my book reviews and it’s important for me to change it up a bit. This means I’ll try to blog hop more and get inspired by fellow bloggers by reading more posts.

Without a doubt though, I’ll be back to posting more regularly by the end of January.

There’s many books I’d love to catch up on and lots of fun bookish lists, discussions, and content in general I’m feeling inspired to post on the blog, but I know I’ll need a bit of time to find that spark again.

I’ve also felt a frustration (as I’m sure many can relate) with wanting to post and stay active within the community, while reading ALL the books and posting consistently. Also getting a bit more personal with my blogging journey in 2020, this year especially has reminded me that while its amazing to see other bookish creators posting more varied content (book news, certain discussions/content, etc.), there’s a feeling of erasure or fear that others are “copying” you without proper credit. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I’ve really felt that way this year and I want to work harder to establish myself and content, because I put a lot of heart into it and don’t want my work to go overlooked.

As with each year, I want to find my writing voice and convey more of a style into what I blog about. That’s something I try to get better at with each review and hopefully my blogging hiatus will help with that.

There’s a lot more I’m excited for in the new year and I think I’ll leave it here for now. But now some QUESTIONS for all of my wonderful fellow bloggers, readers, and followers of my blog: What is it you enjoy about my content? Is there anything you’d like to see more of? If there’s a specific review or post of mine you loved reading, which is it? All of your amazing thoughts would really help me feel motivated, inspired, and eager to reinvent myself as a creator during my hiatus. [*Still planning to create a 2020 wrap-up of sorts too, so keep an eye out for that as well 💕]

Lots of fun bookish content is coming and I’m so excited to share it with all of you! See you all again very soon in 2021! 😍🎉📚

Book Buying and Tracking Finances As A Book Blogger

Over the past couple years as a university student it’s no surprise I began to think more about my finances. As a book blogger especially, who reads and reviews books every year, it’s even less of a surprise that over 4 years later I’m considering and questioning how much is being spent on buying books.

To give a bit of background, I’d never been much of a book buyer growing up, but when I discovered my love for Young Adult fiction in about 2012, slowly the number of books being added to my personal library began to grow little by little. Now, as the weight of my 100+ collection slowly began taking root in my mind, it was clear I had to think more about my spending habits.

In late 2018 I discovered Readwithcindy’s booktube video Why I Only Own 4 Books 💸 A Chat On Booktube Consumerism’ and more specifically this video ‘how much money i saved on books| 2018 stats.’ There’s a particular idea I took from both of them that has forever changed the way I think about my bookish spending. As someone whose reading is about 80-95% through the library not once did it ever cross my mind to track those savings, until I watched Cindy’s videos!

Now for all of 2019 and 2020 I’ve created spreadsheets / lists of books I’ve checked out from the library comparing with hypothetical prices if I were to buy them (with some discounts) via Barnes & Noble, Book Outlet, or The Book Depository. There’s something rewarding about seeing the amount of dollars saved in black and white, just by writing it down. Now, I’m trying my best to limit spending as much as I can in the new year (especially as being inside more during 2020 has without a doubt caused me to splurge a bit more online). I’m fortunate to have access to a great library system and this year has put into perspective how I can do more to utilize it and save money on my reading. Especially when I’m sure many can relate that we buy books here and there, only to set them aside for months at a time and end up reading something else.

Writing down those figures, tracking the expenses, and preparing new goals for the upcoming year has made me especially conscious of my habits to save more where I can, and this is not a surprise…Now for a bit of psychology! According to Forbes, the neuroscience involved in simply jotting down goals helps with external storage and encoding to help you accomplish them. Essentially it’s best summed up by this quote, “Study after study shows you will remember things better when you write them down.” That includes storing them within your long-term memory and identifying the “Generational Effect” which basically means you remember information more when you’ve personally generated it for yourself.

Something as simple as writing down the number of books being borrowed from the library has made a big impact on how I’m calculating spending. For a majority of 2020 I’ve followed the Japanese budgeting method of Kakeibo and it completely changed the way I not only think about, but also view finances. All year the journal that’s been by my side, Kakeibo: The Japanese Art Of Saving Money, has made it easy to jot down month by month, how many dollars have gone towards my book-buying habits. Although it faltered now towards the latter half of this year, there was never a moment I forgot about this concept with each purchase I made. Writing these numbers by hand has created much more awareness as to where it’s going and how I can personally do more to save what’s already there.

From Thomas Oppong in The Ladders, this article breaks down the essential questions that Kakeibo asks with each monthly budget: How much money do you have available, How much would you like to save, How much are you spending, and How can you improve?

Created by Japan’s first female journalist, Hani Motoko had another idea to keep in mind too: “saving money is about spending it well.”

So if your struggling with saving money on books, don’t be afraid to just start writing these numbers down and see where you can reduce your spending. There’s also the underlying (very nuanced) topic of consumerism, even how we are propelled to pick up the newest releases more and more because of our access to various platforms, etc.! We’re often unintentionally encouraged by seeing other bookish creators on other platforms with their monthly hauls, overflowing bookshelves, and passionate recommendations to find a way to access those books as well. This is amazing as a community that we encourage each other to discover new reads, however when it comes to finances and access, it may not always be possible for everyone.

I’m not sure I have the time to delve into this topic too much here, but perhaps I’ll save this for another post if your interested? In which I can talk more about consumerism in the community, minimalism, and how that can be impacted by book influencers.

To sum up, I think tracking how much money I’ve contributed to my book buying hobby has really helped me put it into perspective. This not only applies to the amount of spending, but where I can start saving as well, which I plan to continue for years to come!

What are your thoughts on this discussion? Do you track your book spending? Any tips you personally use to save money? OR any websites you recommend for book buying on a budget? 📚✨

YA Book Comparisons by Authors Of Color and Unfair Critiques of BIPOC Work {Book Blog Discussion Revisited}

As it often happens in the book community, discussions are often recycled, repeated, in an almost yearly cycle. However, one cannot ignore the nuance and expansion that each of these discussions brings (no matter how monotonous), which sheds a new light on a different angle of which to view it. Today I’m revisiting an article I wrote originally in October of 2019 to explore the idea of comparative titles or reader comparisons in general, and how they impact the ratings/perception of YA Fantasy novels, particularly by authors of color.

Due to specific expectations or perhaps the overworked concept of “comp titles,” the main point of my 2019 article was to showcase how these books, almost always by authors of color are harshly critiqued or left with unfair ratings due to surface level comparisons. So why am I revisiting this discussion again? Well news broke on November 4 that Hafsah Faizal’s upcoming 2022 novel (which sounds phenomenal btw) titled “A Tempest Of Tea” would be a new fantasy duology featuring a “gang of outcasts and a deadly heist.”

According to Faizal via Twitter, in the span of less than 24 hours, 19 to be exact, her unpublished book with only an announcement already started getting compared to no surprise… Six Of Crows.

Many in the book community, rightfully so, have taken to Twitter speaking out against this unfair critique. As mentioned in my 2019 discussion, surface-level comparisons such as these often undermine the lengthy discussions and research authors of color input to delve into topics such as colonialism, slavery, race, and much more unlike the white authors to which their novels get compared to. Especially when authors of color are crafting works based on their own distinct experiences or culture.

It’s truly disheartening to see because it instills this idea *specifically* among the book community (or industry) whether it’s readers, publishers, etc. that authors of color or BIPOC folks, can’t have their novels stand on their own. In my previous piece I examined this through The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and Nocturna by Maya Motayne (which are both excellent YA Fantasy titles).

*Note: I’m not here to completely disregard comp titles or anything, because without a doubt they can invaluable tool to increase awareness, draw in similar readers, or help titles during different stages of the publishing process. For information on the usefulness of this method, I recommend reading “Comp Titles: An Elevator Pitch For Your Book” from the Penguin Random House blog ‘News For Authors’.

As mentioned numerous times by authors, readers, and so on, SOC did not invent heists nor will it ever be the only novel that does so. (Especially since Ally Carter’s Heist Society came out in 2010 and is often forgotten). Maybe I’ll delve into this in another discussion, but I feel this largely has to do with the rise in online book community spaces just as SOC was released and hyped up which then in turn, led to this book being pushed and later cemented among that wave of readers, reviewers, etc. finding their online space.

Now back to my main point, in the end us as readers need to be more cognizant that as publishing continues to become more inclusive and diverse, we need to understand that many communities of color have not had their chances at telling the stories we’ve encountered hundreds of times. While of course not every book is for everyone (which is absolutely valid), I think if anything, this is a great opportunity for readers to see how authors use their unique and distinct backgrounds to explore tropes/storytelling from their particular lens.

In an article from Bustle on November 24, celebrating Sabaa Tahir’s finale to the ‘An Ember In The Ashes’ quartet, Tahir mentioned how there is still much work to be done in “[diversifying] YA publishing,” additionally she stated:

Over and over, authors from marginalized groups are told, ‘We already have a book like this,’ or ‘We already have an author like you.’ But books by marginalized authors shouldn’t be a quota you fill…”How many vampire books written by white authors? Dozens. I’ve nothing against that, but authors from marginalized groups deserve the same respect. Just because authors have similar experiences or ethnic backgrounds doesn’t mean their stories will be identical. We contain multitudes and our work is meaningful and distinctive.

Sabaa Tahir via ‘The An Ember In The Ashes Series Might Be Over, But Sabaa Tahir Is Just Getting Started’ from Bustle

Where traditionally, marginalized and BIPOC writers have been on the outskirts, we should not overlook the strides made when a new author of color publishes, because each one is an accomplishment, inspiration, and hope for a future beaming with new writers waiting to tell their own stories too.

I will yet again, leave on this quote from Leigh Bardugo herself in a 2016 article from Bustle, where she states, “The truth is, I get a lot of praise for diversity, but there are far more diverse fantasy worlds out there.”

Any additional thoughts you’d like to add to this discussion? or Any related topics your interested in sharing? 📚✨

Additional articles from fellow book bloggers that also discuss this topic:

1.Michelle from MagicalReads7 post The Gilded Wolves Vs. Six Of Crows

2. CW from The Quiet Pond posting about Book Recommendations: Diverse Heist Stories (That aren’t SOC)

Like This YA Book? Read This Manga! {Blog Discussion}

After making this tweet about manga and Young Adult Books, even a recent thread involving a certain manga in the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2020, I felt it was finally time to share a highly anticipated post:

If you like this Young Adult Book, read this Manga!

Manga is a very well-known medium, but it can seem like it sometimes isn’t widely discussed as it could be on our side of the book internet. Also, as mentioned above, with a particular *newly released manga being the only GR selection among many that’ve exploded in the world of manga publishing, well I just had to create this list! While I’m very much not an expert on all the fantastic manga series out there, my goal is to inspire you to check out some of these truly extraordinary titles!

If you like SIX OF CROWS, read Spy X Family by Tatsua Endo

Why: Six Of Crows is well known for its group of misfits banding together and slowly growing into a tight-knight family. While at the same time it features a complex cast of characters that are continuing to grow amid the trauma they’ve carried with them, because of that you would love Spy X Family!

With its very unique concept, this series follows a genius spy who needs to create a fake family in order to complete his mission of keeping peace between two rival countries. Now a spy, telepath, and assassin are living together, and each carries their own secrets. There’s brilliant comedy, a phenomenal cast of characters, and an entertaining plot you won’t be able to put down!

For those who also appreciate the clever, ruthless, mastermind who will do whatever he needs to in order to get the job done, while simultaneously unleashing a monstrous side if those he loves are in peril, then Kaz Brekker stans you need to meet Loid Forger from Spy X Family.

Similar to Six Of Crows, if you enjoy the dark, corrupt intrigue of the world, dysfunctional found family dynamics, and a page-turning story, well then Spy X Family should definitely be on your to-read list.

Some of the genius tropes you can expect in this series include literal FOUND FAMILY, marriage of convenience, and more! Two volumes in and this manga truly gets better with each one.

If you like I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, read Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

Why: When I reflect on I’ll Give You The Sun, something that will always stick with me was the intense focus on art. Similarly with Blue Period, the main character Yatora becomes consumed by the passion of painting.

The metaphorical imagery, whether its in Nelson’s writing or Yamaguchi’s artwork reminded me of the other, so that’s why I’d recommend reading Blue Period if you remember the realistic intensity to the twins Jude and Noah.

I haven’t read Blue Period yet, but the artwork is incredibly stunning and based on the summary the character journeys are very much reminiscent of each other, so I recommend checking it out!

If you like CRIER’S WAR, read A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow by Makoto Hagino

Why: Having just finished Tropical Fish, it gave me major Crier’s War vibes because at its heart, it has a SAPPHIC romance that’s filled with lots of slow-burn and yearning! Without spoiling too much, both of these series showcase the intense emotion that our main protagonists feel because in reality, Crier x Ayla and Konatsu x Koyuki, are the only ones that truly understand each other on a deeper level.

In both series, the worldbuilding plays a major role in how our protagonists are able to interact! In Crier’s War, the element of the Automae has created a divide which leads Ayla to immersing herself in Crier’s world. Where in the contemporary setting of Tropical, the school’s mandatory rule for students to join a club leads new student Konatsu to connect more with aquarium club member Koyuki as both girls are instantly drawn to each other!

There’s a poetic beauty to each of these books through the writing, the yearning, and metaphorical way of looking at the stories! Each couple navigates their own loneliness and weight of responsibility, but deep down, its about the way love can allow them to grow!

If you like Every Heart A Doorway, read Restaurant To Another World by Junpei Inuzuka

Why: Despite the major differences between these books, I think the “portal fantasy” idea is what makes Restaurant a perfect read-alike if you enjoy the Wayward Children Series!

Haven’t finished this one yet either, but where you learn about the different worlds across McGuire’s books, Restaurant takes you to multiple within a single novel as it follows a restaurant in Tokyo that connects to many different places, as the reader meets all the unique guests that make their way to “Western Cuisine Nekoya.”

Where both books are also very similar is the focus on characters apart from their own world and what brings them to another magical place! An additional fun comparison: they both have magical doors!! (*Note: Every Heart A Doorway is the only SFF title on this list, however the rest of it has been YA).

That concludes my Part 1 of my “Like this? Read That!” Series! Very much looking forward to creating a Part 2 of this sometime in the future because although this list took quite a bit of work (and I’m just remembering tons of books I completely forgot), there’s honestly such a variety of manga series out there that deserve recognition too! ☄✨

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to pick up some of these titles and lets chat about them in the comments! Have you read any of these manga titles or will you be adding them to your TBR? 📚🎉

Indie Press Books From Latine Authors {Latinx Heritage Month Series 2020}

Its Week 3 of Latinx Heritage Month and today’s post will be highlighting books from Indie (or independent) presses by Latinx authors!

Indie publishers are releasing such fantastic books and for this week’s bookish list, I’m highlighting 10 Young Adult books from Latine / Latinx authors! Don’t forget to support the smaller presses out there! Enjoy today’s recommendations and let’s chat about them in the comments 📚✨

1. The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher:
Carolrhoda Lab

Summary: Macy’s school officially classifies her as “disturbed,” but Macy isn’t interested in how others define her. She’s got more pressing problems: her mom can’t move off the couch, her dad’s in prison, her brother’s been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn’t speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms—complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that’s both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can’t tell her incarcerated father that her mom’s cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy’s machete. 

2. Throw by Ruben Degollado

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher: Slant Books

Summary: Llorona is the only girl Güero has ever loved. A wounded soul, she has adopted the name of a ghost from Mexican folklore. True to her namesake, Llorona cast Güero away with the coldness of the apparition she has become. But Güero—though he would never admit it to his friends—still wants to get back together with her.

Güero spends time with his friends Ángel and Smiley—members of the HCP (Hispanics Causing Panic) gang—roaming the streets of the South Texas border towns they inhabit, trying to forget Llorona even as she seems to appear around every corner.

Over three days Güero’s increasingly violent confrontations with Llorona’s current boyfriend will jeopardize the lives of Ángel and Smiley and the love he hopes to regain.

As events begin to accelerate toward their conclusion—and gang signs are thrown as both threats and claims of identity—the question arises: will Güero throw the HCP sign, or will he throw off that life? Güero’s life will be irrevocably changed by violence and loss, but who will he lose, and will he—somewhere along the way—lose himself?

3. Secrets Of The Casa Rosada by Alex Temblador

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher:
Piñata Books (Arte Público Press)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Martha and her mother move constantly, never staying anywhere for long. So she knows better than to ask if they’ve been evicted again when her mom says they’re going on a “vacation” to meet the grandmother Martha didn’t know existed.

Laredo, Texas, is like no other city she has seen. Driving past businesses with Spanish names and colorfully painted houses with burnt lawns, Martha can’t imagine her mother living somewhere so … Mexican. At her grandmother’s pink house, she’s shocked and hurt when her mom abandons her, even though a part of her had been expecting it.

Suddenly Martha must deal with a way of life that is completely foreign. Her grandmother doesn’t speak English, so communication is difficult, and she’s not the typical, sweet grandma who dotes on her grandchildren. Even weirder, it turns out that her grandmother is revered as a healer, or curandera. And there are tons of cousins, aunts and uncles all ready to embrace her!

At her new school, Martha can’t be anonymous like before because everyone knows she’s Doña González’s granddaughter. Meanwhile, a girl who has it out for her makes things unpleasant. As Martha struggles to adjust to her new life, she can’t help but wonder why her mother left Laredo. No one is willing to discuss it, so she’ll have to unravel the secret herself.

4. Skip by Molly Mendoza

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.
Book Review

Summary: A colorful, unpredictable postapocalyptic world comes alive in Skip, when two unlikely friends, Bloom and Gloopy, find themselves tossed from dimension to dimension. Gloopy is running toward adventure, and away from their home and friends who don’t understand their creative talent. Bloom is desperately trying to return home to their lake, and avoid the terrible violence of the city. Instead, both Bloom and Gloopy find what they need in each other, and bravely return home to challenge their fears and create beauty in their own worlds.

As Bloom and Gloopy skip through dimensions and encounter weeping giants, alligator islands, and a topsy turvy 2D world, they find comfort in each other and learn that sometimes, your greatest fear reveals where your strengths lie.

5. This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher: Amulet Books

Summary: When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most.

6. Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher:
Algonquin Young Readers

Summary: The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

7. Holly Hernandez And The Death Of Disco by Richie Narvaez

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher: Piñata Books (Arte Público Press)

Summary: Holly Hernandez, voted “Miss Bright of ’79” and valedictorian at her previous school, is excited to start fresh at Flatbush Technical High School, one of the most competitive public schools in New York City. She’ll be one of thousands; anonymous. But her dreams of a normal school life disappear when her mother, a homicide detective, has to investigate the murder of Mr. Friedman, the social studies teacher.

One of her classmates, Xander Herrera, quickly becomes the primary suspect. The tall, awkward boy is socially inept, but Holly doesn’t think he’s a murderer. She is intent on exonerating him—but he wants nothing to do with her. To Xander, Holly is the overly enthusiastic student who always sits in the front row and answers all the teachers’ questions—correctly. He hates perky people!

Eventually cleared of the crime, Xander is determined to find the killer before Holly. As they race to solve the case, their separate investigations lead to a slew of suspects, including another teacher seen arguing with Friedman and a mysterious person named Steve who met with him several times before his death. Could it have been a disgruntled student? Ultimately, a trophy for a disco-dancing contest leads the intrepid young detectives to the Mission Venus nightclub and a murderer intent on killing again!

8. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Available through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Summary: An #ownvoices contemporary YA set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

9. Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository
Publisher:
Page Street Kids

Summary: Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.

10. Cecilia’s Magical Mission by Viola Canales

Available Through The Book Depository
Publisher: Piñata Books (Arte Público Press)

Summary: Everyone in fourteen-year-old Cecilia’s Mexican-American community has a don—a special gift or talent. Her father, who’s named after St. Anthony, helps people find things, or parts of themselves, that they’ve lost. Paco, the janitor in the building where she lives, can tell fortunes. Cecilia can’t figure out hers, and she really needs to since her confirmation is coming up.

The truth is, Cecilia doesn’t really believe people have celestial gifts. Her opinion begins to change when she gets apprenticed to Doña Faustina, who has a magic way with coffee. Soon Cecilia realizes that her apprenticeship involves something more sinister than a mystical brew! And on a trip back to the special Mexican village of Santa Cecilia, she and her friends Julie and Lebna learn something about friendship, community and the powers of good and evil.

Thank you for joining me in the 3rd post of my Latinx Heritage Month series! Next week, you can expect another bookish list and ICYMI: I interviewed Lilliam Rivera about her newest book NEVER LOOK BACK! (WordPress actually hid this post from the tags/Reader for a few days so if your able to check it out, I’d appreciate it) 🌿✨

Any Indie authors or books your looking forward to reading from this list? 📚💖

For today’s post I’m recommending the Puerto Rican bookstore: The Bookmark PR

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O’Neill ARC Review {Graphic Novel}

The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon Society #3)

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: October 27, 2020

Pages: 128

Available Through The Book Depository: Tea Dragon Tapestry

Summary: Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

[Received a digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher]

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Tea Dragon Tapestry is a satisfying, heartwarming conclusion to the series! Reunited with Greta and her friends, this third installment tells a gentle, quiet story about embracing change! O’Neill’s art, storytelling, and color palette make this a perfect read for fall!

The second you open up the beautifully illustrated pages of a Tea Dragon novel, you’ll always know your in for a comforting and wholesome tale. Picking up the last novel feels like a goodbye and yet it also doesn’t. There’s a timeless quality to the world of tea dragons and its been an honor to follow it with each installment.

As Greta prepares for an upcoming blacksmith apprenticeship, while also trying to take care of her tea dragon Ginseng. Minette is grappling with the lost memories of her past, also struggling to gain a better understanding of her sense of identity and purpose. While there’s definitely a lot of sweet Greta & Minette moments, they each go on their own individual journeys too!

It’s wonderful to see all of the characters from Society again! Seeing Heskiel, Erik, Greta, Greta’s parents, Minette, also seeing the whole Tea Society crew together (they are such a wholesome found family 💕). We also get introduced to one of their old friends Klietos, who goes on a journey himself as he learns to find the spirit for blacksmithing again while staying to test Greta for her apprenticeship!

The world of Tea Dragon has always felt expansive, despite the very focused and central stories it tells. That’s something I will forever admire about this series because its quiet, intimate storytelling emphasizes such meaningful messages about family, friendship, self, identity, and the beauty of time.

The art, as with previous books, is absolutely lovely. There’s a lot of panels without dialogue that allow you to take the necessary moments to take in the soft art style and warm colors. The color palette is a rainbow of oranges, purples, yellows, and is a perfect read for getting you into the cozy fall spirit.

Next, I wanted to discuss a mini, personal gripe. I personally felt there were SO many circle panels and while its nice because they give you insight into a character’s deeper emotions, it did feel overused at points. You already know how a particular character is feeling (Minette for example when she’s reflecting on the tapestry and her lost memories) based on context, so it felt unnecessary to the overall story. The circle panels also interfered with the stunning full page artwork / panels at times.

Also, an interesting observation is that because the series takes on a very timeless feel to it, there’s never such a sense of urgency in the plot. However this one is obviously meant to wrap-up the series, so the conflict does feel straightforward. Yet, it captures such powerful messages of healing and finding your way despite the passion or motivation becoming lost somewhere through. Our tapestry is still being woven and this book reminds us that despite the challenges, we are still being

Having originally read this series while it was still being published as a webcomic, its no surprise Tea Dragon will forever be incredibly special to me! Was I also sobbing because this was the final book? Absolutely! What makes it such a beautiful ending is that it doesn’t really feel like one either. You know Greta, Minette, and the group have tons of long journeys, especially adventures, ahead of them! It never feels like a goodbye! 🧡

I just had a lot of fun returning to this world for one last adventure! This series is just so wholesome, comforting, and has the most beautiful storytelling, if you haven’t read this series, PLEASE do!! Its an absolute gem and I cannot recommend it enough. If you love diverse, inclusive, heartwarming stories, dragons, and meaningful, deeply moving messages set in a quiet, fantasy world, you have to read The Tea Dragon Society!

The Tea Dragon Tapestry is the highly anticipated and perfect conclusion to The Tea Dragon Society series! O’Neill navigates important themes and tells an equally beautiful story! Your heart will be filled with joy as you’re reunited with beloved characters again one one more journey! From its quiet, loving story to its vibrant colors, and immersive storytelling, this is a delightfully crafted installment to the series! Readers will not want to miss this fantastic conclusion!

For this review I’m also shouting out fellow bloggers: Tea Time Book Review, AnneMieke from A Dance With Books, & Local Bee Hunters Nook! If you prefer short, concise reviews I recommend checking these bloggers as they delve into important themes that O’Neill explores in Tapestry! ☕🐉💗

Author Interview With Lilliam Rivera Featuring Never Look Back {Latinx Heritage Month Series 2020}

For the second post in my Latinx Heritage Month Series today’s guest is Lilliam Rivera, award-winning author of YA novels such as The Education Of Margot Sanchez and Dealing In Dreams! Her latest novel Never Look Back released just last week and this modern-day retelling follows 2 Afro-Latinx teens navigating love, identity, and much more! 🌿🌺

Here’s Lilliam to introduce what Never Look Back and what its all about:

“Never Look Back is a modern retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in New York with Pheus, a wannabe bachata singer who meets and falls in love with Eury, a Puerto Rican displaced from her home by Hurricane Maria and followed by an angry spirit. It is a story about generational trauma, faith, and love.”

Next, I asked Lilliam what inspired her novel and she shared that at its root, this a novel about hope:

“My novel is inspired by Hurricane Maria and how it affected my family living on the island. I needed to find a way to write about the rage I felt during that time while I watched our government do nothing to help those on the island. Never Look Back was my way of searching for hope.”

I also recommend reading Lilliam’s phenomenal essay from Elle titled “One Year After Hurricane Maria, We Are Still Picking Up The Pieces.”

All 3 of Lilliam’s novels have been set in the Bronx, so she delved into what unites these stories:

“My first novel The Education of Margot Sanchez is a contemporary coming of age story. Dealing In Dreams is a dystopian tale set in a world where girl gangs rules the streets. And finally, Never Look Back is my retelling. What unites them is that they are all love letters to the place I was born and raised.”

Never Look Back is told through dual POV, so I then asked Lilliam what inspired this and whose she enjoyed writing the most:

“I wrote them in alternating POV because I wanted to challenge myself. I had a lot of fun writing Pheus. It was the first time writing from the POV of a boy. Eury was harder to write because she was shy and dealing with many difficult emotions.”

Lilliam’s contemporary novel delves into magical realism and is also a retelling! So I then asked her if there was any particular element of these genres she enjoyed writing the most (mini spoiler):

“I didn’t really think about the different craft elements I was introducing. I only thought about the story and what the characters wanted to say. Although I don’t have a favorite, it was a lot of fun to explore the underworld.”

Alongside that, I asked Lilliam what she was most excited for readers to discover about her new novel:

“I just want them to follow the journey Pheus and Eury take and to root for them. I love these characters and I hope readers love them too.”

To conclude our interview, I had to ask Lilliam if there are any Latine/Latinx YA books she recommends:

“These novels are coming out this year and should be on everyone’s radar:

Mark Oshiro’s Each Of Us A Desert

Yamile Saied Méndez’s Furia

Amparo Ortiz’s Blazewrath Games

Zoraida Córdova’s Wayward Witch

Thank you to Lilliam for joining me on the blog today and hope you’ll all join me for next week’s 3rd post in my Latinx Heritage Month Series!

You can order Never Look Back from Rivera’s local independent bookstore Skylight Books or from today’s featured Latinx-owned indie called The Lit Bar located in the Bronx! 💖📚