Bookish Buzz: New YA Books That Need More Hype!

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ I’m back with another Bookish Buzz! Originally debuting on my blog back in March, I created this feature to promote upcoming books that I feel deserve more love!

However, I wanted to change it up a bit today and not only promote upcoming books, but also a couple recently published or backlist titles!

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai1. A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)

A Match Made In Mehendi is a wonderful YA Contemporary debut that you need to add to your TBR if you haven’t already! This is such a fun and heart-warming debut that follows Simi who comes from a long line of family matchmakers. But being the artist that she is, instead of following the usual family tradition she creates an app, to help her & her best friend Noah improve their high school status. But, things get a bit complicated when a match doesn’t sit right with one of her classmates. This book shines in so many ways from the first-person POV, she’s confident and passionate as an artist and her voice just draws you into the story from page 1! The characters, atmosphere, and plot all come together in such a fantastic way, easily making this one of my favorite YA Contemporary reads of 2019! (Full Review)

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring2.The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Imprint (Fierce Reads)

Set in 1970’s Argentina, The Tenth Girl follows Mavi who is escaping a military regime. She starts her new life undercover as as a teacher at a renowned finishing school. But there’s mysteries and secrets that loom within the house and Mavi is determined to uncover them. The writing is wonderfully atmospheric and delivers that perfect eerie vibe for fall. I personally love reading from 1st person, so reading from Mavi’s (and a second) POV just takes me right back into the setting and mystery of the story wherever I stop. I haven’t finished it yet, but the mystery is written in a way that I really appreciate where it slowly unfolds and your bringing the pieces together little by little! Can’t wait to finish it!

Rebel Heart by Axie Oh3.Rogue Heart by Axie Oh

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Tu Books

I’ve been looking forward to the next Rebel Seoul book for so long and I can’t believe its finally here! I remember absolutely loving the first book, where Axie introduces us to the political-driven and intriguing Neo states of Korea. From there we follow Lee Jaewon who wants to prove himself as a soldier, but instead learns much more about his country that he thought he knew. From its technological advancements to the central political themes, I fell in love with this debut back in 2017! I’m really looking forward to seeing whats next in Rogue Heart, which’ll have espionage, even more government secrecy and politics!

The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah4.Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Set in an underwater Great Britain at the end of the 21st Century, we follow Leyla McQueen who is determined to set her father free and prove his innocence by participating in a submarine competition that’ll take her outside of London for the first time. She’s also joined by a new companion as she also uncovers government secrets along the way! The summary alone just captivated me and I’ve been beyond excited to read this debut! It looks like there’ll be tons of action, adventure, and I can’t wait to learn more about Leyla.

Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell5.Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)

I recently finished this debut and let me tell you, if you love beautifully written, detailed and atmospheric YA Mysteries, you should definitely pick up Songs From The Deep! Set on an island town surrounded by sirens, violin player Moira and Lighthouse keeper Jude team up to solve a murder! I will say it is a slow and quiet type of mystery and focuses on its main characters (who were former childhood friends) as they reconnect and piece together the clues of the case. The focus on the m/f friendship between Moira and Jude is fantastic and easily a highlight of this book! The world-building is wonderful and both the setting and atmosphere really deliver through Moira’s POV! I highly recommend checking out this debut, its out tomorrow! (Full Blog Tour Review)

Thousand Fires by Shannon Price6. A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Tor Teen

This is a book I’ve really been looking forward to because of the unique concept and it drew me in right away. Not only is it pitched as a modern retelling of Iliad, but is also set in San Francisco and is an #OwnVoices Filipina YA! The story centers around Valerie Simons who is no stranger to the rival gangs of San Francisco, her brother was killed by one of them 2 years ago. She’d given an opportunity for revenge by the mysterious gang known as the Stags– led by “charismatic and volatile leader” Jax. She becomes torn along the way of what path she should choose and where the journey will lead her. This book just sounds incredibly unique and character-driven, Price’s debut is one that I will definitely be checking out.

Thanks for checking out Bookish Buzz! Are you looking forward to any of the books featured? 😍💖📚🎉

What new YA Books are on your radar? 😄📚📚

YA Book Comparisons + Discussing #OwnVoices & Diverse Books {Book Blog Discussion}

There’s many wonderful bloggers and other bookish people on twitter who have elaborated on the  discussion in regards to books by #OwnVoices or marginalized authors, being unfairly critiqued or compared to more popular authors (often white) in the same category. But, I’d like to get into more specifics and just expand on this discussion, because its a topic that really needs to be talked about.

I wasn’t sure when I was going to post this, but the discussion between SOC/TGW came up again on book twiter and I felt it was time I presented my thoughts.

Today’s post is something that’s been on my mind for a while, but in all honesty― it’s always been hard for me to put into words exactly what I want to say.. Sorry if this post seems to be a bit all over the place, but know there are many different layers to this discussion and I may not be able to get to all of them (perhaps for another blog post).

Again, I’m just one blogger, but I hope my discussion today can offer further explanation into this topic.

I’ve gotten my thoughts on this a lot less jumbled in my mind and it’s something that I’ve not only witnessed and dug up more knowledge on myself, but as an aspiring YA writer of color, it’s something that needs to be discussed! And this topic is:

Book comparisons in YA for authors of color vs. white authors (when looking at The Gilded Wolves and Nocturna)

Even when it comes to the disparity in ratings (and general perception) when books by authors of color are so quickly compared to non-marginalized (often white + more popular) authored novels, it is startling and often disheartening to see.

I find there’s so many reasons why this needs to be examined more closely and it needs to be talked about:

Firstly, it establishes this idea that authors (especially non-white/#OwnVoices) can’t write tropes that literally have existed since the beginning of time for their own stories because Popular Author A over here already had a bestselling and well-loved book, with that 1 element that came out 5 years ago?

Think this isn’t true? Look at the disparity of these ratings & top-rated reviews (as of late October 2019) for Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves and Leigh Bardugo’s Six Of Crows:

Gilded Wolves: 9,028 Ratings & 3.70 star average (when I originally drafted this back in June) which is now: 

11, 336 Ratings & 3.67 star average

Six Of Crows: 4.46 star average (over 4 years at 219,107 Ratings)

In my personal opinion, I was sure that the advertising of The Gilded Wolves well before it was officially out on shelves, wasn’t going to click with certain fans of SOC who would interpret specific elements of the story to be similar. Which in turn, would greatly influence the books perception upon/after release in terms of ratings, etc.

So, in turn due to perhaps how it was marketed, among other factors, The Gilded Wolves seemed to leave a somewhat “negative” impression on certain readers who had specific expectations. Due to similarly found story elements, that could be misinterpreted as being exactly like Six Of Crows.

Comparisons were easily made between these two YA Fantasy titles (mainly because it has a found-family crew with comparable characters to SOC and is a heist? Because heists didn’t exist before 2015 apparently?) *But in reality, let me just preface by saying TGW has MULTIPLE heists compared to Six Of Crows, which from I remember only has 1?

There are so many stories out there that have heists and yes, are in fantasy/sci-fi settings (have crews, etc.), but I’ve typically seen unfair critiques between these two books.

The top low-rated review of The Gilded Wolves on Goodreads comparing it to SOC states that Six Of Crows enjoyment factor is “leagues ahead of this book…,” but a general comparison that I’ve seen is that the crew of The Gilded Wolves are exactly like the Dregs from Six Of Crows.

Look, I don’t have a problem with how people rate their books, I know that not every book is for everyone. We all have different opinions and that’s what makes reading so great!

However, it’s really telling when you begin to see similar complaints for a non-white authored book because it’s seen/read as a “copy,” “ripoff,” or “plagiarized” version of this white-authored book ―which often times came out years before the book by the non-white author.

The fact is that #OwnVoices (and especially authors of color) are getting a bigger chance now to write/tell the stories that they needed or would have wanted growing up! This is especially important for the teen audience of YA today, to see themselves represented in these worlds–because we live in a big and diverse one!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

To provide further evidence against those who say The Gilded Wolves is just a copy of SOC, here’s some quotes, taking place in a single scene that I’ll analyze in regards to colorism, nuanced discussion of culture, and colonization from The Gilded Wolves:

Enrique is gearing up to talk to Marcelo, a member of the Ilustrados, an organization of European-educated Filipinos who dream to reform their Spanish-controlled country. In this scene, Marcelo is discussing an upcoming meeting with the queen of Spain.

“Oh!” said Enrique. “I-I could help?”

Marcelo smiled. “Ah, but of course! Enrique Mercado-Lopez: journalist, historian, and debonaire spy…Of course it must be easy to spy when you hardly look like one of us…” (Ch. 6)

In Six Of Crows, we know Inej’s story and her hardships (I’m not dismissing that), however when it comes to discussion of culture and race, predominately in regards to Inej’s Suli culture, it’s explored or stated in lines quite briefly. Additionally, more of what we know about her culture is interpreted by flashbacks of her past and not necessarily layered world-building that delves into further exploration in the present.

In one single scene of The Gilded Wolves, we are delving into the topic of colonization, its after-effects alongside the discussion of coming from two different cultures, while not feeling accepted or understood in either– to quote Tor’s review:

“That sense of living a half life trapped between two unyielding worlds permeates the novel. All of the characters deal with a life spent constantly crossing through the liminal space between two opposing cultures…”

Another point I’d like to add is that those who’ve unfairly compared TGW to SOC, hardly even mention the #OwnVoices rep. & representation in general that Chokshi weaves throughout her novel: Zofia is Jewish, Polish and on the autism spectrum, Laila who is Indian, Enrique who’s Spanish-Filipino & Bi, Hypnos who is dark-skinned + Queer, & Séverin who is 1/2 French & North African.

Regardless of how I personally feel about the comparison people make between Six Of Crows and The Gilded Wolves, allow me to conclude this section with a wonderful quote from Bardugo via Bustle from September 2016 when discussing fantasy and diversity:

“…The truth is, I get a lot of praise for diversity, but there are far more diverse worlds out there…”

Another comparison that really fueled this discussion as well, was seeing deeper claims of similarity between Maya Motayne’s YA Fantasy debut Nocturna (2019) and ADSOM (or Darker Shades Of Magic Series; 2015).

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

To start, these books aren’t even in the same age-range! Look, I’ve read ADSOM too, but Schwab has made it very clear time and time again, that its an ADULT series, (aka not YA). 

To break it down, Nocturna is set in a Dominican-inspired fantasy world where magic is inspired by the Spanish language, and follows a prince & thief duo who have to find a way to take down a dark magic they’ve accidentally unleashed!

A Goodreads review mentioned that “unabashedly good reviews” of Nocturna must have come from those who either “have never read V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic Trilogy, or who do not care when a book’s entire plot is lifted from another source…”

The comparisons are as follows:

Readers claim Nocturna is a blatant rip-off of the ADSOM series because of a girl/guy duo, the female is a thief (morally-grey female heroine), and there’s a dark magic entity…okay and? Have you never played a Fantasy/Sci-Fi RPG?? Those elements are nothing new…

To see such comparisons right off the bat based on elements and tropes which are by far more popular in other mediums/storytelling spaces, is just disheartening!

What comparisons like this unearth (especially if they are *unfairly comparing #OwnVoices/POC-authored books) is that to certain readers, these stories aren’t allowed to have or use tropes, storytelling devices, character archetypes, etc. that have been around for much longer than we have. Which is incredibly unfair because, that’s how stories work! Artists, writers, storytellers, find that spark of inspiration and that’s how storytelling continues to grow and evolve.

In regards to Nocturna I’ll present a scene in which Prince Alfie has conjured a spell to let a mural of Castallan’s past come to life as it relays the history of the country and how there came “rebellion” and how the “enslaved [broke] free of their shackles…” (Nocturna, 9):

“At his command, the mural moved with life…The mural slowly darkened as Englassen conquerors appeared on the shores. They chained his people…people’s magic was drained from them and transferred to their Englassen masters…The Englassen regime destroyed all the tomes of their language, forcing them to forget the tongue that connected them to their heritage…” (8-9, Nocturna).

“Then came the rebellion, with the enslaved breaking free of their shackles and rising against the conquerors and rediscovering their language…” (9, Nocturna)

These claims don’t even take into account the way Motayne discusses this topic and adds layers and depth to the magic system considering its heavily inspired by the Spanish language, and how it operates differently with each person (among other philosophical/literal ideas that there must be a balance to the magic itself). Also, just the fact that this is an #OwnVoices Latinx YA Fantasy (what an inspiration for aspiring Latina fantasy authors like myself) !!

Also Motayne stated in an interview through B&N Teen Blog that “if you can only take one thing [from my story], I hope it’s this: culture is magic. Your culture is magic. Never give it up, never surrender it. Because when you do, you surrender yourself along with it, and who you are is worth fighting for…”

“…I chose to stop uprooting myself from my heritage and to instead firmly plant myself in it…”

“I put pen to paper and wrote the adventure of a prince, a thief, and the LatinX kingdom that they lived in. A kingdom where your connection to your heritage and the language of your ancestry is your magic…”

Nearly 100% of the time, you’ll never see white-authored books go into lengthy discussions of race, slavery, colonialism, as much as non-white (often female) YA Fantasy authors. I recommend checking out Michelle from Magical Reads blog post where she discusses this exactly, when comparisons are made about The Gilded Wolves and Six Of Crows!

There’s a couple quotes from that post that always resonate with me. First, its that if these popular books are the “mold for YA fantasy”, whose to say these new books from authors of color (with completely different concepts & inspirations) can’t “break the mold…”?

For a diverse, brilliant and expansive community of readers such as that of YA, I do hope there continues to be more nuanced discussion of these very real and important topics authors of color explore and emphasize in their novels. Because in the end, no matter how similar stories may seem, the fantastic authors writing Young Adult are crafting from their own unique, distinct experiences and inspirations.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to blame anyone for how they rate their books, that’s not the point of this discussion. I’m hoping, it allows you to think a little more critically about how quickly book comparisons are made for YA (predominantly YA Fantasy) and why it does a disservice to the authors (especially those of color) who take time incorporating topics such as colonialism, slavery, race, and so much more into their stories/fantasy settings and presenting traditionally marginalized characters at the center of them. We live in a diverse world and we should not overlook the #OwnVoices/Marginalized authors representing that!

As I stated above, this discussion is one I’ve been thinking about for a while, but I hope that with my post here today it offers a bit more clarity on why (negative) comparisons like this can do more harm than good.

Any additional thoughts you’d like to share on this discussion or on the opinions I’ve shared? ✨📚

*Corrections/additions:

1. Gilded Wolves is Historical Fantasy (set in 1889 Paris), while SOC is a spin-off of the original Grisha Trilogy still set in the Grishaverse (Oct. 25, 2019)

2. “Marketing” is mentioned in this post, but upon reflection and further research I meant to say “buzz” (generated by early reviews) (Oct. 25, 2019)

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash Review

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz TashVirtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Pages: 368

Available Through The Book Depository: Virtually Yours

Summary: How bad can one little virtual lie be?

NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal.

It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right?

Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL.

Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Virtually Yours is a fun college-set YA Contemporary that also delivers an introspective and character-driven plot! Mariam just wants to get over her high school ex, so when she tries a new VR dating service she’s completely surprised when it matches her with, her ex! This novel explores the complexities and layers to romance, friendships, relationships, told through a delightful narrative voice that immerses you from page 1!

I’m back with a book review and Virtually Yours is one I’m SO looking forward to delving more into, because it was such a wonderful read! I related to it in many ways and I just want to shove it into anyone’s hands who’s looking for a college-set YA Book with a plot that’s both unique and fun + really focuses on its characters and their dynamics!!

Mariam Vakilian is still grieving over the breakup between her and her ex-boyfriend Caleb Moore, who’d been a couple in high school for 3 years! But, she decides to give virtual dating a try when she uses an almost-expired 40% off coupon for HEAVR which promises its users their perfect match or Happily Ever After!

But when one of her potential matches is Caleb, her first year at university gets a little more complicated! She’s not just handling the complexity of romantic relationships, but friendships as well among many other uni. experiences from figuring out her major/career and forging important friendships!

Mariam Vakilian is easily on my list of favorite college-set contemporary protagonists (alongside Penny from Emergency Contact 💖), there’s such a unique spirit to her character that you can’t help but want to keep on reading! She’s funny, relatable, and just a wonderful character to follow!

With HEAVR giving her an opportunity to move on from Caleb, she feels there’s a possibility that they can maybe get back together and that a spark could still be there! But in order to do that she’ll have to disguise her VR persona! So, she pretends to be someone she isn’t  as she goes on virtual dates and hangouts with Caleb.

What made the dynamic incredibly fascinating was the mystery that unravels as you learn more about Caleb and Mariam’s high school relationship and why they broke up: Interestingly Caleb felt long distance wouldn’t be best for them? (Yet, he still tried out HEAVR).

It isn’t until you begin to piece together the story where you realize that this novel isn’t really about romance (though it is?). Its more about Mariam’s journey to better understand herself as she navigates all these different parts of her life: love, friendships, and relationships in general.

There’s this underlying theme of self as you begin to see that all Mariam really wants is to understand and find a balance to all these parts of her daily life, which I could relate to that a lot!

We see her reconnect with her ex-best friend from high school, take a social welfare class for fun and see how it inspires her potential career path, and just in general, the relationships we maintain as we juggle college life.

As Mariam tries to focus on reconnecting with Caleb, what she doesn’t realize is that her new friend Jeremy, who’s her co-worker at the local gym, could possibly be more than just a friend (and is one of her other matches!). One of my favorite parts of this book was their beautiful friendship (banter & the best hangouts– seeing them connect over music, their holiday phone calls, emails/texts, and having Jeremy invite her to see local musicians play was the cutest 💞).

If your a fan of contemporary romance alongside the “will they get together, will they not?” or the slow-burn friends maybe lovers tropes, then Virutally Yours is a must-read!!😍💖

Jeremy and Mariam’s friendship was one of the absolute highlights of this book! I loved seeing how supportive Jeremy was as he listened to Mariam talk about her complicated HEAVR situation and offer her advice! Its great to see this focus of m/f friendship and have it be such a big part of Mariam’s journey throughout the story! Also the 2 of them just have such beautiful chemistry together layered with their wonderful friendship! Though you know Mariam’s heart is still with Caleb, you can’t help but just ship her with Jeremy!!

Throughout she not only confides in Jeremy, but also her roommate Hedy as she works out her relationship troubles.

This book easily made it onto my all-time favorites list, Mariam’s narrative voice just immerses you and I quickly found myself connecting with the story and its characters.

The exploration of VR technology gave the story a speculative-fiction feel to it too― posing all the questions and complexities that come with how this kind of tech works, even how it can change the foundation of building relationships. Also, as Mariam goes on a couple dates with Caleb, it does bring into the discussion this idea of catfishing (her friends do tell her how wrong that is & it gets cleared up a bit later).

Woven all throughout Virtually Yours are all these different layers that make up Mariam’s life from family (which is such a huge part), her career goals, and how she’s better understanding how to navigate her new friendships/relationship.

I really appreciated how Tash wove into this novel as well, that former acquaintances (from HS) can unexpectedly become such bigger parts of your  friendship circle as you navigate college! That part was so relatable to me and I loved how Tash made it an incredibly layered element of the story (as well as navigating friendships in general).

As I was reading Virtually Yours and I got to a part where Mariam is at a get-together with former high school classmates (Addison, Zoe, Prisha, & ex-best friend Rose), I’d actually been reconnecting with an old high school classmate too! Just being able to relate to that in my own life, was just so heartfelt to me and its something I wish more YA College-set Contemporary books would explore, this idea of reconnecting with people from your past and how the most unexpected people can become the best of friends!

Throughout the novel I also loved seeing Mariam reconnect with her former friend Rose, being able to rebuild their friendship & rely on each other during their first year of college!

Romance and how one navigates it are major themes within this novel, but Tash does such a fantastic job at layering all these different elements of college life/ the college experience in a very relatable way as well alongside the bigger theme of romance!

Its really hard to put more of my thoughts into words because this book was just SO MUCH FUN!! I loved the story, writing, characters, romance, themes, exploration of family & friendship, college life, and dynamics between the characters too!

Virtually Yours is just an absolutely wonderful book and I fell I love with it from the very first page! ❤❤

Something I noticed as I progressed throughout the story is that the pacing is FANTASTIC!! As the story unravels you get so invested in seeing how long Mariam can keep her secret, following all the friends she makes & reconnects with, her family, college classes, etc. The plot is always developing and there’s never a dull moment! ❤

This novel is also wonderfully diverse and inclusive: This is an #OwnVoices featuring Mariam Vakilian and her family who are Iranian/Iranian-American! There’s her ex Caleb Moore who’s Black, Jeremy whose 1/2 Italian & Mexican, & f/f rep. as Mariam’s roommate Hedy has a girlfriend.

If your looking for a fresh college contemporary that explores a new concept of modern love through VR, you need to give this book a read!

Virtually Yours is a wonderful YA Contemporary that needs more hype and is a delight in every single way! Its an incredibly fun read that has great writing, a wonderful cast of characters, and exploration of romance that keeps you turning the page! If your looking for a character-driven and relatable college-set contemporary with a bit of speculative fiction, then Virtually Yours is a must read! Don’t miss out on Sarvenaz Tash’s latest YA!

Its been almost 2 weeks since I posted a review and its great to be back! Sorry for the hiatus, Virtually Yours was the first book I’ve finished in the last few weeks!! 😭📚💖When I’m not on the blog, I’m more active on Twitter if you want to talk anything bookish, etc. if I haven’t posted!

With my short hiatus from the blog I’ve been thinking more about what content to post besides reviews (for when I haven’t read for a while) and I’ve had a tough time deciding what that content would be?  Please let me know what you’d be interested in reading about, also feel free to comment on any other ideas:

  • Literary Listens or more podcast posts
  • Fictional Favorites
  • Book Tags or Bookish Discussions (Even hauls, tags, etc.)

Happy Friday!! 😍📚🎉

Latinx Book Recommendations For Your 2019 TBR!

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ Latinx Heritage Month has recently begun and to celebrate, I’d love to share a list of #OwnVoices books written by Latinx authors you should add to your TBR!

This year I’m making it even bigger, even though my blog primarily focusing on YA, I’d love to highlight even more genres/categories this year from YA to SFF, Poetry, and more!

I’ll also be featuring a “Backlist Boost” with as many books as I can to promote more Latinx authors & their books!

Which Latinx books are on your TBR? Any on this list your looking forward to reading? 📚✨

Contemporary (Young Adult):

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes1. Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 18, 2018

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: Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes (5 stars)

Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez2. Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez

Publisher: March 5, 2019
Release Date: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (Simon Teen/Riveted Lit)

Summary: Juan has plans. He’s going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself—or at least find something better than his mom Fabi’s cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.

His best friend JD has plans, too. He’s going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He’s got a camera and he’s got passion—what else could he need?

Fabi doesn’t have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don’t always pan out, and that there some things you just can’t plan for…

Like Juan’s run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.

Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise­–like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can’t plan for…

↠ Backlist Boost: American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz3. Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 20, 2019

Summary: Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite4. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika & Maritza Moulite

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

↠ Backlist Boost: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

↠ ARC Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine (4 Stars)

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno5. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Summary: Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

↠ Book Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos (4.5 Stars)

The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera6. The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: February 21, 2017

Summary: THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

The Fall Of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez7. The Fall Of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: June 12, 2018

Summary: For the past eight years, sixteen-year-old Emilia DeJesus has done her best to move on from the traumatic attack she suffered in the woods behind her elementary school. She’s forced down the memories–the feeling of the twigs cracking beneath her, choking on her own blood, unable to scream. Most of all, she’s tried to forget about Jeremy Lance, the boy responsible, the boy who caused her such pain. Emilia believes that the crows who watched over her that day, who helped her survive, are still on her side, encouraging her to live fully. And with the love and support of her mother, brother, and her caring boyfriend, Emilia is doing just that.

But when a startling discovery about her attacker’s identity comes to light, and the memories of that day break through the mental box in which she’d shut them away, Emilia is forced to confront her new reality and make sense of shifting truths about her past, her family, and herself.

Backlist Boost: Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante8. The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: June 11, 2019

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Marisol Morales and her little sister Gabi are detainees of the United States government. They were caught crossing the U.S. border, to escape the gang violence in their country after their brother was murdered. When Marisol learns that the old family friend who had offered them refuge in America has died and they are going to be sent home, they flee.

They hitchhike, snagging a ride with an unassuming woman who agrees to drive them to New Jersey, but when Marisol wakes up in D.C. she learns the woman is actually a government agent. Indranie Patel has a proposal for Marisol: she wants Marisol to be a Grief Keeper, someone who will take another’s grief into their body. It’s a dangerous experimental study, but if Marisol agrees she and Gabi will be allowed to stay in the United States. If the experiment fails the girls will be sent home, which is a death sentence. Things become more complicated when Marisol meets Rey, the wealthy daughter of a D.C. Senator, and the girl she’s helping to heal. Marisol likes Rey’s short hair and sarcastic attitude. But she didn’t expect the connection from their shared grief to erupt into a powerful love.

Suddenly being forced from the United States isn’t just a matter of life and death, but a matter of the heart.

The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey9. The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: October 8, 2019

Summary: From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.

While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.

Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.

The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess10.The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

Publisher: Flux (Flux Books)
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: Victoria Parker knew her dad’s behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine—until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights.

Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden.

But some secrets won’t stay buried—especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can’t stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won’t leave you alone?

The Resolutions by Mia Garcia11. The Resolutions by Mia Garcia

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Teen)
Release Date: November 13, 2018

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.

↠ Backlist Boost: Even If The Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos12. The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school–who happens to be trans–all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.

↠ Backlist Boost: The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues13. The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 19, 2019

Summary: Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.

In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.

And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.

And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.

And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:

Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his friends and making money to help support his family.

But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.

↠ ARC Review: The Universal Laws Of Marco (4.5 Stars)

Dystopia & Sci-Fi (Young Adult):

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera1. Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl2. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (The Last 8 #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia3. We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (WSTFDOF #1)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Epic Reads)
Release Date: February 26, 2019

Summary: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

↠ ARC Review: We Set The Dark On Fire (4 Stars)

Graphic Novels:

Hotel Dare by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre1. Hotel Dare by Terry Blas (Writer), Claudia Aguirre (Artist), & Mike Fiorentino (Letterer)

Publisher: Boom! Studios
Release Date: June 11, 2019

Summary: It’s not your typical family vacation when Olive, and her adopted siblings Darwin and Charlotte find themselves falling into other worlds as they explore Grandma Lupé’s strange hotel.

OPEN THE DOOR. ADVENTURE AWAITS.

Olive and her adopted siblings Charlotte and Darwin are spending the summer with their estranged grandma at her creepy hotel and it’s all work and no play. They’re stuck inside doing boring chores but they soon stumble upon an incredible secret… Behind each room door of the hotel lies a portal to a different strange and mysterious place. The simple turn of a knob transports them to a distant magical world filled with space pirates. Behind the next door are bearded wizards. Down the hall is a doorway to a cotton-candied kingdom. But once the doors are opened, worlds start colliding, and only one family can save them before they tear themselves apart.

Skip by Molly Mendoza2. Skip by Molly Mendoza

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.
Release Date: July 23, 2019

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.

Magical Realism (Young Adult):

All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry1. All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: October 10, 2017

Summary: Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

↠ Backlist Boost: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
↠  Book Review: All The Wind In The World (4 Stars)

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore2. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 9, 2018

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

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

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

↠ ARC Review: Blanca & Roja (4.5 Stars)

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore3. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: October 4, 2016

Summary: To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

↠ Backlist Boost: The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Middle Grade:

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano1. A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (Love Sugar Magic #1)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Summary: Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

↠ Book Review: Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble (5 stars)

Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy2. Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy

Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Release Date: April 30, 2019

Summary: Eleven-year-old Carolina’s summer–and life as she knows it–is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter’s house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene.

Just as Carolina worries she’ll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela’s shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become.

But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and–to everyone’s surprise–Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?

The Other Half Of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel3. The Other Half Of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: August 20, 2019

Summary: Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole.

One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana’s Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn’t know more about her family’s heritage.

One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she’s found true friends. But she can’t help the growing feelings she has for Jayden.

One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what’s going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother.

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes4. The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes (The Storm Runner #1)

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Release Date: September 18, 2018

Summary: Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He’d much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno — for his one good leg. What Zane doesn’t know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy.

A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he’s destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in — unless she can find and remove it first. Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane. When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can’t even walk well without a cane?

Mystery/Thriller (Young Adult):

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal1. Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: June 4, 2019

Summary: Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring2. The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Publisher: Imprint (Fierce Reads)
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Summary: At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Poetry:

Chula by Amanda Alcántara1. Chula by Amanda Alcántara

Publisher: Self-Published via Amanda Alcántara
Release Date: March 21, 2019

Summary: “Chula” is an imaginative bilingual collection of intimate poems, short stories, memories and vignettes about the life of a Dominicana before and after moving to the United States.

Dealing with childhood curiosities, struggles faced by women, identity, pleasures, heartache, and joy, this work is an exploration of self.

↠ Backlist Boost: Nocturna by Maya Motayne (Dominican YA Fantasy)

The Carrying by Ada Limón2. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón

Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Release Date: August 14, 2018

Summary: Vulnerable, tender, acute, these are serious poems, brave poems, exploring with honesty the ambiguous moment between the rapture of youth and the grace of acceptance. A daughter tends to aging parents. A woman struggles with infertility—“What if, instead of carrying / a child, I am supposed to carry grief?”—and a body seized by pain and vertigo as well as ecstasy. A nation convulses: “Every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza, something brutal.” And still Limón shows us, as ever, the persistence of hunger, love, and joy, the dizzying fullness of our too-short lives. “Fine then, / I’ll take it,” she writes. “I’ll take it all.”

↠ Backlist Boost: Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón
↠  Book Review: The Carrying: Poems (5 Stars)

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: Harper Teen (Epic Reads)
Release Date: March 6, 2018

Summary: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

↠  Backlist Boost: The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (Middle Grade in verse)
↠  ARC Review: The Poet X (4.5 Stars)

SFF:

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes1. Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes (Chilling Effect #1)

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: September 17, 2019

Summary: Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Gods Of Jade And Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia2. Gods Of Jade And Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 23, 2019

Summary: The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

The Tiger's Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera3. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Their Bright Ascendancy #1)

Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 3, 2017

Summary: Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

And there’s my list of Latinx book recommendations! This was such a fun list to make and as a reader from a Latin-American background I can’t put into words how amazing it is to see this list of books grow with each year 😭💖📚📚

Many of these I have yet to read, but I’m excited!! My plan is to get to them during Latinx Heritage Month and throughout the rest of 2019–📚📚🎉

What Latinx Books are on your TBR? Any other book recommendations for Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month? 😍📚✨

I also recommend checking out these amazing Latinx read-a-thons going on currently, that are being hosted by great Latinx book reviewers in the community: Latinx Book Bingo & Latinx-A-Thon (ends Sept. 24)

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai ARC Review

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini BajpaiA Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Pages: 320

Available Through The Book Depository: A Match Made In Mehendi

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

*Received ARC from Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Match Made In Mehendi is a fantastic debut and one you definitely want to add to your Fall TBR! When Simi develops an app to match couples at her school, things get pretty interesting! Its a fun, delightful YA debut that also focuses on pursuing your dreams, friendship, and love! 

Simi Sangha aspires to continue developing and pursuing her passion as an artist, she also happens to come from a long line of female matchmakers! When she’s able to successfully match her cousin Preet with the son of a local furniture store, Jolly, her mother and aunt are certain she has the “gift.” Her mother insists she continue the family legacy, but Simi doesn’t have much interest and would rather focus on her art (primarily sketching and mehendi) as sophomore year looms closer!

When her best friend Noah Siegal insist they try to improve their popularity in the coming year, Simi’s older brother Navdeep also happens to be working on an app inspired by their family’s matchmaking business!

She see’s this as the perfect opportunity to try out her “gift” while also using her artistic skills! Simi knows this’ll not only help her best friend, but also allow her to use her family’s matchmaking knowledge in getting classmates of Mayfield High, to find their match!

I’d been looking forward to reading this lovely book for over a year and it was so good, easily on my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary books!

(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ💖💖*:・゚✧

Hopefully my review inspires you to look more into this debut because its just so much fun! + If your looking for a unique contemporary story that also explores many themes, while at its heart, is a story about pursuing your dreams, then please check it out! I feel this a YA Contemporary many have not read or heard of and I think everyone should read it! 💖🌸✨

A Match Made In Mehendi also shines through its first-person POV! Following Simi’s perspective brings such an energy to the story and everything else that you want to keep reading! The way the plot, character development, and journey Simi undergoes allow you to feel incredibly connected to the story― you feel your right there alongside Simi the entirety of the novel! She was an incredibly fun character to follow― she’s awkward, funny, confident in her artistic skills, and much more!

Simi is one of the more relatable YA Contemporary characters I’ve read in a while. Though I’m no longer in high school I really resonated with her on her journey of friendship, love, and the expectations we set upon ourselves + our futures: I feel people at any age are still navigating these situations, so I really appreciated Bajpai’s exploration of them and how they really connected with me!

Friendship is one of the many important themes of this novel and I loved how it was explored! Not only through Simi and Noah, but also through the camaraderie between Simi and her classmates (especially when trouble occurs). I also appreciated the focus on m/f friendships (which Simi has quite a few of), I don’t often see that explored in YA so that was really great to read about!

With a book about matchmaking, of course there’s also lots of exploration of romance! Simi finds herself learning more about the app and how it works, when her school begins using it and we see perfect matches being made!

Simi navigates some romance herself when we learn about the boy she’s had a crush on since they were little (Aiden) and how their common interest in art brings them closer together! There’s also Suraj (Jolly’s cousin) who recently transfers to Simi’s school and is good friends with her brother Navdeep! I loved their dynamic so much and this was a really cute romance as you learn more about both of the guys and Simi’s exploration with love herself! There’s some unpredictability to the romance which was really fun to read!

The Matched! app was easily one of the most clever and creative catalysts that drove many important themes, elements, and layers to this fantastic story! From its incorporation of Navdeep’s tech skills (and love of robotics) alongside Simi’s passion for art, I loved how Bajpai combined technology and family tradition that also represents Simi taking her family’s legacy and making it her own! It involves a variety of school-related and hobby questions that all come together into their algorithm, which also assigns people a unique animal (created by Simi), to see how the app changed and developed with each few chapters was incredibly fun to read about & I appreciated how it was such an important element to a lot of the growth throughout this novel.

As the story develops, while the app starts as a fun experiment for their high school, it soon causes drama when one of the matches upsets one of the popular girls in Simi’s class, Amanda! Now, Simi and Noah are navigating their newly developed popularity and the drama they get sucked into when Amanda doesn’t approve of one of the matches (which involves her ex-boyfriend)!

As I mentioned above, I really loved how Simi used her family legacy of matchmaking and turned into something completely her own! It also allows for such a big element of family to shine throughout the novel! With this legacy following the Sangha women, we see how her mother (who runs a matchmaking service for Desi families w/ her sister (Simi’s aunt)), expects so much from her in regards to the business she finds it difficult to explain how art is such a big part of her identity! It was great to see that element explored so much into the story (though I wish there could have been a bit more page time to develop their mother/daughter dynamic).

The writing is also wonderful! It not only allows for the story to progress in such a fantastic way, but it also allows for elements of humor, mystery, and overall brings everything to life off the page! Tying into the writing itself, is the atmosphere of this novel. Simi is confident in herself, skills as an artist, and as you see the expectations put upon her (both internal & external), you see that above all she is incredibly loyal to those she cares about and herself!

Simi is an incredibly inspiring protagonist and her narrative voice just leave you smiling throughout this entire book!

Next I want to talk about the characters, who are all fantastic (even the ones your not supposed to like): Navdeep, Noah, Suraj, Teá & Ethan, Aiden, Amanda, Simi’s cousins Preet & Geet, and her other friends at school. Through Simi’s narrative they all really come to life!

Overall, there was just a great cast of characters who are all given depth and developed from beginning to end regardless of how little page time they have!

I will say that, although Simi’s grandmother was a great character introduced near the last few quarters of the book, I wish her character was just a bit more developed! Because she’s part of the matchmaker legacy, it would have been great to get a little more from her!

It was such a delight to read excerpts of The Shagun Matchmaking Guide with each chapter! Not only was it an important Sangha heirloom, but I also appreciated how it wove its way into the story more near the end! Its an incredibly vital tool for her family’s matchmaking service and I loved how it was woven into the story to provide Simi with a feeling of luck and guide her as she navigated matchmaking in her school!

As for the representation of A Match Made In Mehendi, it features a mainly Indian and Indian-American cast, Gay rep (Noah), and though its not specifically stated its hinted at that Simi’s school is diverse!

A Match Made In Mehendi is an incredibly fun, heartwarming debut that explores a variety of themes, that will have you turning the page from family, legacy, love, friendship, and pursuing one’s dreams! Bajpai’s YA Contemporary debut has such great writing, a wonderful cast of characters, humor, mystery, romance, and much more! I’m looking forward to reading what Bajpai publishes next!

I was also a part of the blog tour for A Match Made In Mehendi and if you’d like to check out a Q & A where Nandini goes into more detail about her inspiration and other fun elements, you can read it Here! 🌸✨📚

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin Review {Graphic Novel}

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly UsdinThe Avant Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin (writer), Noah Hayes (artist), Rebecca Nalty (colorist), & Ed Dukeshrire (Letterer)

Publisher: BOOM Box! (Boom Studios)

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: The Avant-Guards Vol. 1

Summary: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Avant-Guards is a fantastic series from Boom Studios! This female-led series is about friendship and discovering who you are! The colorful art, alongside the great cast of characters, and much more, deliver a page-turning story you won’t be able to put down! With a fresh start at a new college, Charlie learns more about herself and finds where she belongs when her new friends convince her to join their basketball team!

This first volume of The Avant-Guards completely captured my heart and I can’t wait to see where the series is headed next! 💞

I’d already been familiar with Usdin’s graphic novels, already having read Heavy Vinyl (which is getting a sequel next year & recommend checking it out! 🎉 — it basically follows a group of girls in the 90’s who work in a record store and follows the newest employee, Chris as she discovers her co-workers are actually part of an all-female vigilante group!).

Going into The Avant-Guards, I knew I’d love it! But, I didn’t just love it, I adored it so much! I can definitely say―that THE AVANT-GUARDS IS MY NEW FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES, I love it with all my heart!! 😭 

Charlene (Charlie) Bravo is a recent transfer to the Georgia O’Keeffe College For Art & Subtle Dramatics (amazing title for a school tbh) and she’s still figuring out where she fits in, that is until she meets the all-girls basketball team!!

Olivia is the energetic and optimistic one that really wants Charlie to join and sees her potential, then there’s the other wonderful teammates who I loved too: Jay, Nicole, Tiffany & Ashley, who are all incredibly welcoming to her!

This first volume chronicles the team getting together and introducing us to the wonderful team of The Avant-Guards! From beginning to end I felt I knew the team so well and I’m excited to learn even more about them. The Avant-Guards is the kind of story where the characters just pull you into the story and throughout it, they feel like your best friends too! 💞💞

Stories like that connect with me on such a deep and personal level because friendship is incredibly important to me and to see it highlighted and be such a focus of this series, just warms my heart!

Alongside that, this story is just filled to the brim with supportive and positive energy and you can’t help but smile while reading. As Charlie attempts to find where she belongs on this new campus, she seems to be pretty nonchalant about her environment. That is until she meets The Avant-Guards at their table during the campus’s activities fair!

With the team only needing one more player to make it official, Liv makes it her mission to convince Charlie to at least think it over. But after they all immediately click with Charlie, Liv comes up with a plan for all of them to get her to join!

As the story progresses, you learn so much about each of the girls (Liv is the captain of the team & got them all together, Nicole is the “resident cynic,” Ashley who “sings like Beyonce, [parties] like Rhianna & balls like Lebron,” Tiffany, whose interested in crystals & the like, & Jay, they are pretty quiet but an incredibly loyal friend).

The Charlie & Liv dynamic was so beautifully written! Having been a former basketball player, Charlie isn’t too interested in returning anytime soon, but its through Liv and the other girl’s she realizes its not just about the game, but also the connections she’s made with them!

We learn that they both had girlfriends in the past and its so obvious Liv has a crush on her, so seeing their friendship and romance develop was just so beautiful and I just loved seeing them together! 😭💞 There’s 3 moments throughout this volume that stuck out to me: Liv telling Charlie she wouldn’t give up on getting her to join, Liv explaining that the other girls genuinely want her to join b/c they’d love to be her friend, & their talk on the bus about Charlie’s anxiety!

All of the girls have their own quirks and personalities that shine throughout this entire first volume and I’m really looking forward to more of their interactions and dynamic as both friends/teammates in future issues! Every one of these girls resonated with me so much because their confidence and loyalty to each other was just incredibly inspiring to me!

The writing and pacing of the story allow for their characters to get the perfect amount of development, page-time, and still leave some mystery about them for future issues/volumes!

I also appreciated this intersection between sports and art! An underlying message (at least that I found) was the empowerment one can find through art! I mean anywhere you go I believe your surrounded by art in some way and I’m not really sure how to describe it, but I feel The Avant-Guards gets that? 😄

Throughout Volume 1, I found the art and paneling was done so wonderfully! The colors are bright and bring even more to the already brilliant story! As does the art! Its expressive, detailed, and feels incredibly cinematic & animated! The paneling is also something I was paying close attention to and it never felt like space was wasted. Alongside that, I felt the art and dialogue together complemented each other and came together to tell a fantastic story!

From the character expressions, pacing, action scenes, and even backgrounds, they all come to life through the vibrant colors and great art-style!

Overall, I felt The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 story was complete and well explored!

Honestly, if you were to ask me to pick a favorite character of the Avant-Guards, I honestly couldn’t do it, I adore each of the them with all my heart!! ❤ ❤

Considering this is a sports comic series, I did want to quickly talk about another series I’ve read which is Fence! Looking back, I can see why I enjoyed it when I first read it (its one the first sports comics I read & had a unique cast of characters like Avant-Guards). But if I’m being honest, I feel like my love for Fence has faded and The Avant-Guards has found that special place in my heart! Not saying they should be compared (because they are completely different stories) but if your stuck between both series and not sure which one to pick up, I’d say read The Avant-Guards!

Based on this first volume alone, I found the art, characters, pacing, and much more to be better developed and explored!

The Avant-Guards is diverse, colorful, the characters are all full of life, and the wonderful themes of the story weave their way through each page! I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful graphic novel!

Featuring characters of color, queer women, and just overall being incredibly inclusive, I just love the care and attention to diversity that the team behind this series has represented!  From the characters of different backgrounds (mainly featuring Brown/Black women), characters identifying as Queer and Jay (who uses They/Them), this is just such a beautifully inclusive series and I hope more people will pick it up!

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 is must-read graphic novel series from Boom Studios! This series is all about friendship, self-discovery, and is beautifully inclusive + diverse! Charlie learns more about friendship and overcomes obstacles from her past when she joins the all-women’s basketball team! From the lovely artwork and colors to inspiring themes throughout this first volume, The Avant-Guards is a new series you don’t want to miss!

Blog Tour: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai {ARC Review, Q&A & Wallpaper}

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini BajpaiA Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Pages: 320

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: A Match Made In Mehendi

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

*Received ARC from festival* 

My Thoughts: Hey everyone, I’m incredibly excited to be part of the blog tour for A Match Made In Mehendi! Its a YA Contemporary I’d really been looking forward to and today I’ll be sharing a list of 5 reasons why you should read it!

1.The Story

Doesn’t the summary just immediately make you want to read? Long line of matchmakers? Two best-friends want to improve their high school status? A match-making app that causes chaos everywhere–don’t you want to pick up this book right now?

Nandini’s debut at its heart though is about pursuing your dreams and better understanding your own goals alongside the expectations others may have of you!

The story is incredibly character-driven and you’ll keep turning the page wondering what’ll happen next!

2.The Characters

Simi and her narrative voice just pull you in from page 1! She’s determined, honest, and knows she can be incredibly awkward at the worst of times! I adored her character a lot and felt I related to her in so many ways, and while I’m not a high school student like her it was the journey of finding yourself, expectations, exploration of love and friendship that resonated with me in many ways― and I feel people at any age are still tackling and exploring!

If you love contemporary stories with a dynamic cast, this book will not disappoint! From Noah to Simi’s mother and aunt, her brother, and her high school classmates all come to life as you delve more into their character and overall, I just loved this cast a lot!

3.Pacing

You know when your reading a book and you can’t explain it, but the pages are flying by? That’s what reading A Match Made In Mehendi is like! The plot, its mystery, and questions of what could happen next, swirl around in your mind as you speed through page by page of Simi’s story! If you love stories that pull you in from the very beginning and keep you hooked, you will love Nandini’s debut!

4. Writing

The writing is just so good? I’m not sure there’s any other way to describe it! Not only does Simi’s narrative voice keep you reading, but the way the plot unfolds through her POV just makes you feel incredibly connected to the story and feels incredibly personal because you feel like your right there with her!

5. Atmosphere

This ties into the writing as well! Through Simi, you see she’s confident, focused in her passion as an artist, and although there’s many expectations she’s facing (both internal and external) you see how she is incredibly loyal to herself. The theme of self-discovery alongside her own personal journey make A Match Made In Mehendi such a wonderful story through wholesome and inspiring protagonist like Simi! You can’t help but smile all throughout this book while reading from Simi’s POV!

A Match Made In Mehendi_Blog Tour Banner

To celebrate the release of this lovely debut I’ll also be sharing a mini Q&A with Nandini, where she talks all about A Match Made In Mehendi, plus a free downloadable wallpaper based on the cover! 🌸📚💖

1. Hey Nandini, thanks for joining me on the blog today! To start off this Q&A, what inspired your novel A Match Made In Mehendi?

Nandini: I’ve always been interested in how first and second generation Desi American families have adapted to life in the US. How kids born and/or raised here have view their parents’ traditions and what they choose to change, keep, or leave behind. Teens get such different signals from their peers and parents especially about things like crushes, dating, and assimilating or holding on to traditional values. Arranged marriage is one of those things that has been widely misunderstood and it’s good to lift the curtain on that process a little bit and examine it in a entertaining way through the Desi lens in the American context both for the young people that can see themselves in these characters and for their peers from different backgrounds.

2. Simi’s family believes she has the matchmaker “gift,” but Simi doesn’t want to be involved and focus more on her talent as an artist. From the summary it looks like your novel will delve into quite a variety of themes involving family, art, pursuing one’s dreams, and the passion that comes with art! Could you talk a little bit more about your inspiration behind these themes and which theme you personally, had the most fun exploring?

Nandini: Well, the matchmaking aspect was really fun to develop, honestly. What makes a good match? What makes a good matchmaker? Can the process really be developed into an app? How would that all work? How does a professional matchmaker put people together? How would a teenager view all of this differently from her mother or aunt? I have a background in systems analysis so it was nice to use that part of my brain as well to break down the problem of turning the very amorphous matchmaking process into an algorithm for an app. This theme was really different than any other story I’ve worked on!

3. Any fun or interesting facts you can share about your writing process or development of A Match Made In Mehendi?

Nandini: Initially I had different generations of matchmakers in Simi’s family telling stories of matches they had made scattered through the book. It was a fun challenge to write about couples in the 1920s, the 1940s, the 1980s all in the voices of three generations of women in Simi’s family and how the lessons learned from those matches becomes part of the lore and wisdom of the Shagun Matchmaking Guide – the book handed down in Simi’s family from mother to daughter. The matchmaker log didn’t make the final cut but I do feel that the deep dive into Simi’s family history colors the tone of the book, even though it’s not there any more.

4. In your novel, Simi develops this matchmaking app and it drives different layers of the story! What inspired you to explore Simi’s journey of family, friendship, and art through the inclusion of this unique app?

Nandini: It was really fun to do a close examination of how this generation deals with parental expectations, discovers what they’re really passionate about, and figures out who they might or might not love. This is a world I know, and though there are many other valid experiences that may be quite different, I can only speak from my own personal experience and try and tell one story I feel confident I can. I also think that while books about underrepresented groups that deal with heavier issues are necessary and important it’s really good to have lighthearted books that are about joy and happy things like the search for love. I certainly didn’t have any such books about Indian kids to read when I was growing up and it was so hard to see that nothing had changed when I was looking for books for my own kids. Like Gandhi said, “Be the Change!”

5.Overall, what are you most excited about in regards to your novel and anything in particular your excited for readers to discover in A Match Made In Mehendi?

Nandini: Overall, I’m just excited for the book to finally be out there in the hands of readers, but one of the smaller things that I enjoyed creating and that I hope readers like is the way the Matched! app analyzes profiles and puts people together. It’s kind of like a technical sorting hat that not only figures out where you fit and creates a cute personal match icon for you (the match icons, were SO fun to dream up!), but also finds your top matches and lists their match icons for you, sorted from best to last.

Thanks so much for celebrating Nandini’s A Match Made In Mehendi here on 24hr.YABookBlog! Also, check out my FREE downloadable wallpaper inspired by the novel:

A Match Made In Mehendi Wallpaper

Here’s the other wonderful bloggers, who’ll be joining me on the Blog Tour for A Match Made In Mehendi (from Cake Literary):

Kat @ Pretty Little Library (September 6)

Olivia & Lori @ The Candid Cover (September 9)

Fanna @ Fanna Wants The World To Read (September 10)

Are you looking forward to reading A Match Made In Mehendi?