Review: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl Gonzalez

Title: Olga Dies Dreaming

Author: Xóchitl Gonzalez

Pub. Date: January 4th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/LGBTQIA+

Format: Audiobook – Libro.FM & Book Of The Month

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 384 pages/11 hrs 22 min

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM | AMAZON

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 6/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 8/10  Enjoyment: 8/10

Rating: 52/7.4 =  ☆☆ Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

☆☆ “𝐋𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐒𝐜𝐨𝐨𝐛𝐲-𝐃𝐨𝐨 𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐝𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐤, 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐇𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲-𝐆𝐨-𝐋𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐲 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐟𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐄𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐖𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐫” ☆☆╮

Olga Dies Dreaming is a dual point of view story that toggles between present day and timelines that date back to the early 2000’s. We follow Olga and Pedro aka “Prieto” Acevedo as they navigate their lives and careers while also dealing with an absent mother who makes her presence known through letters and visits from fellow associates. Blanca abandoned her children when they were very young to fight for a liberated Puerto-Rico, never making her whereabouts known since she’s the leader of a small group of liberation radicals known as the “Pañuelos Negros” who are akin to the Black Panthers. Olga has made a career out of wedding planning for the elite in NYC Manhattan while also keeping love and romance at arms length. She’s out to break stereo-types as a Latinx business owner and has turned her back on ALL things related to her mom & issues plaguing Puerto-Rico. Olga’s brother Prieto is a popular Congressman in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood who is torn between being present as a good father for his daughter vs. wanting to protect Puerto-Rico from exploitation. Prieto is flawed there’s no denying that, his intentions started off good as he struggled with finding his role and how to do his part in helping the island. Ultimately I found his actions in politics to be very spineless and damaging to the island.

Whenever I pick up a book by a debut author, I’m looking to see if they’re characters are compelling enough for me to get invested in their back stories. Gonzalez delivered top tier character development and gave each one a distinctive voice, down to the absentee mother whose presence was felt through a series of evocative letters.  Both siblings have serious abandonment issues that are in need of healing as it continues to play a role in the decisions they make with their loved ones and in their respective careers. They both seek validation from a mother who abandoned her role in their lives and lives/breathes her cause, something they still can’t accept.

This book won’t be for every reader especially since woven in the text is a lot of history centered around the Puerto-Rican diaspora. There is a heavy emphasis on politics both in gentrifying NYC neighborhoods as well as the relationship between the mainland United States and Puerto-Rico. I can appreciate this since so much went down when Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017 leaving the island in the dark and many of us outsiders with family on the island, feeling helpless and frantic. PREPA and the shady political behaviors by the Governor which we watched in real life get exposed, are mentioned in this book which may shed some light to those who didn’t know much about it. The conclusion wrapped up a bit too quick for my liking for a book that mostly was medium paced with many complex layers to unravel. I listened to the audiobook and gave the performance 5 stars, the narrator knocked it out the park. I felt the audiobook specifically, really brought Blanca’s letters to life and made her passionate pleas to rally up more powerful. There were scenes I found hard and heavy to get through, especially when Prieto visits the towns in Puerto-Rico and speaks to citizens who are exhausted and feeling forgotten without water or light. Overall, it was an impactful memorable read that has placed Xóchitl on my radar for any future releases.

CW: Death of a parent, rape, suicide, cheating, divorce, cancer, serophobia, gentrification, abandonment, drug addiction, homophobic slurs, racism


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January 2022 Anticipated New Releases

If the Book Gods are listening…I hope 2022 is a much better quality reading year than 2021 *fingers crossed* Not being able to come up with at least ten stand-out reads for 2021 has me in the mood to set some intentions out into the Universe. When this post goes live I’ll probably be tossing and turning trying to figure out what my first read in the New Year will be. I am hella superstitious and 100% believe that the first read pretty much sets the tone for the rest of my reading year. In an effort to scout out potential six star reads, I’ll be posting a monthly Anticipated New Releases. There are sequels out there that I may leave out because they’re by favorite authors but I have yet to read the first book in that particular new series (Katee Roberts Neon Gods/Electric Idol), still they’re on my radar. Hopefully we all can find some new favorites and share in the comments down below any books I have left out. Also, if you already know what your FIRST read in 2022…also leave it down below cause I could use some inspiration 😉

*•.♡FANTASY & SCI-FI♡.•*

*•.♡Fiction & Thrillers♡.•*

Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski (Jan 18th)– A compulsive, tenacious, and unexpectedly hopeful thriller set in a midwestern strip club, told by New York Times bestselling author Marie Rutkoski in the spirit of Gillian Flynn and Tana French – Set in 1999 at the Lovely Lady trip club we meet Samantha who has been dancing for years when she decides to help out the newest dancer learn the ropes. This despite having her plate full with a jealous boyfriend and his young daughter. A night turns deadly when she gives the new dancer a ride home. Holly the detective on the case gets help from another dancer to try & solve the case. We get a story then told in multi POV’s as the investigation makes its rounds between dancers, detectives, children, club patrons AND the killer. 

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz (Jan 18th) – “A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.” I’m not quite sure if this is YA or not but i don’t believe it to even though shelved as such in Goodreads. This is a gothic story with Historical Fiction/Romance vibes. A reviewer mentioned it reminded them of Down Comes The Night & I was SOLD! In 1817 Edinburgh Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to become a surgeon more than a wife. She is kicked out of a renowned lecturers class for being the wrong gender & decides to team up with Jack, a resurrection man. Dr. Beechan has struck a deal with her, if she can pass the medical exam on her own he will allow her to enroll in his classes. For that she will need corpses to study and Jack is the man who digs them up. When men start lingering around cemeteries & friends are disappearing off the streets they find themselves with a mystery to solve.

The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (Jan 4th) – SCARY AF concept for all the mothers out there like myself! but i’m intrigued nonetheless. Frida Liu is struggling with life, trying to live up to the expectations of her Chinese immigrant parents and also a cheating husband. All that really brings her joy is her daughter Harriett but in this fictionalized world, there exists a government program who keeps an eye out for moms like Frida. Those that may be a bit distracted & look at their phone while at the playground or allow their kid to walk home alone. A Big Brother type institution determines if Frida is a candidate and will measure her motherly devotion to see if she can keep her child. “This propulsive, witty page-turner explores the perils of “perfect” upper-middle-class parenting, the violence enacted upon women by the state and each other, and the boundless love a mother has for her daughter”

The Maid by Nita Prose (Jan 4th) – Described as a Clue-like locked room mystery! SOLD! I was obsessed with playing Clue as a child LOL. Molly Gray is a 25 year old who struggles with social skills and oftentimes misreads others intentions. Her grandmother helped her navigate the world until her death, now Molly throws herself into her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Her unique character and obsessive need to clean make her a perfect fit until wealthy Mr. Black ends up dead in his bed. Friends she didn’t even know she had rally to try and help clear name as she is deemed suspect #1. 

Wahala by Nikki May (Jan 11th)An incisive and exhilarating debut novel of female friendship following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group—the most unforgettable girls since Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda (Goodreads). I couldn’t have added Wahala faster to my MUST read in 2022 list. 

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González (Jan 4th) – a Latinx debut featuring two siblings living successful career lives in New York City. It’s 2017, Olga is a tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s powerbrokers. She orchestrates beautiful story book weddings for the rich but is unable to find love until she meets the one who has her confront the effects of long held family secrets. Her brother Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo is a popular congressman in a gentrifying Latinx neighborhood. Behind closed doors, they deal with their mothers abandonment. Blanca left them to their grandmother in order to join the Young Lord 27 years ago and re-enters their life at the same time as hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto-Rico.

*•.♡Romance♡.•*

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding. by Chencia C. Higgins (Jan 25th) – an LGBTQIA+ romance based on the fake dating trope. We meet Kris Zavala who is looking for her big break as an influencer & joining the reality tv show could help and also win her $100,000. D’Vaughn Miller is trying to break out of her shell and alo hasn’t come out to her mother, joining the show can be her chance to do so. They have to convince all of their friends & family of this romance and get married in 6 weeks. If anyone guesses it’s all fake, they’re off the show. The great thing is their chemistry is actually very real. The downside is that the show puts those real feelings in jeopardy. 

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Jan 11th) – “A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.” AND it’s set in Seattle! My dream city…say no more! 

Running Wild (The Simple Wild #3) by K.A. Tucker (Jan 25th) – I won’t go into too much detail since this is now the third book in a running series. Here we follow Veterinarian Marie who we’ve met as an ex of our main character’s love interest. Marie was in love with her best friend for many years but it was unrequited, now she is worried time is running out on finding her love & possibly having children. Things get interesting when she meets someone while volunteering at a dog sled race. I will read ANYTHING & EVERYTHING K.A Tucker writes.

*•.♡Young Adult♡.•*

Wow I did NOT expect this post to be this long but the sleuths of the interwebz were hard at work the last days of 2021 and my list kept growing. Sound off in the comments Book Lovers, what are some of the titles you’re looking forward to?

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March 2021 Anticipated New Releases

March, when the weather starts to change up here in NYC and the book releases start to double! One day I’m layering up at home and the next I’m sporting beach wear *queue the random snow flurries* Ordinarily this is also the time of the year when I’d go find a cozy cafe to go sit and read. Instead, I’ve taken to substituting reading on my commute and in cafes for a favorite room in my apartment paired with Tik Tok recipes of lattes. As for my favorite room? it’s a coin toss between the tub (bath bomb + wine are invited of course) OR a spot on the couch along with my fuzziest blanket and tea. Audiobooks is where I change things up a bit since I cannot sit still while listening to a book, my attention will go everywhere else. I really enjoy listening to a book while cooking, doing laundry or working out. Currently I’m finishing up Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft and I feel almost like I have too many books I want to read next smh, stay tuned for a Friday Reads post this week <3’s!

 What are you Lovely Book Lovers highly anticipating? I read across most genres, I say most because I’ve yet to venture into Historical Romance but I’m getting there *grin & nod* SO drop those I may have missed down below. Tackling my Possibility Pile is about to get a whole lot bigger and more innnnneresting with the titles listed below hitting shelves this month…


YA fantasy/SCI-FI/Middle grade/Contemporary

LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS BY AIDEN THOMAS – 3/23 Aiden Thomas is releasing the first book he wrote prior to Cemetery Boys & I’m here for it! this is a Queer Peter Pan retelling about grief and after loving Cemetery Boys so much, I have zero doubts Thomas will deliver another 5 star!

A TRIAL OF SORCERERS BY ELISE KOVA – 3/4 I shamefully own some of Kova’s books but have yet to read them SMH, this author is known for scoring such STUNNING covers! This is the start of a new YA Fantasy series that I’ve heard may actually take place in the same world as the Air Awakens series but can be read on its own.  Described as a “tale of competition, coming of age, distant lands, elemental magic, and romance. It’s perfect for fans of the Legend of Korra, Truthwitch, and A Sorcery of Thorns.”

NAMESAKE (FABLE #2) BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – 3/16 The sequel to Fable (my review) , a duology following a female Pirate on a quest to find the father who abandoned her. There’s a crew and a high seas adventure, treachery and what could possibly be the beginning of a romance? I’m curious enough to want to find out! also, Young has a real talent for writing familial connections that leave you all in your feelings. If you love a good audiobook, the narrator Emma Lyssy NAILED the performance on Fable and is back again for Namesake. 

CHAIN OF IRON (THE LAST HOURS #2) BY CASSANDRA CLARE – 3/2 I have nothing to say other than I’m a slacker AND all I can do is watch from the sidelines as everyone gets to read this book! I have yet to start Lady Midnight but that’s where I left off with the shadowhunters so yes it’s absolutely on my to-do list this year. If only to justify buying a copy of this beauty *sobs* 

THE MIRROR SEASON BY ANNA MARIE-MCLEMORE – 3/16 Here in this corner of the interwebz we stan Anna Marie-McLemore, they are an auto-buy author for me and I already have a copy of this book arriving tomorrow. We have a MC who goes to a party and is the victim of assault along with a boy she barely knows. This causes her to lose her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. The neighborhood itself starts to mysteriously change and the boy who was assaulted with her shows up at her school with no recollection of the night they were both harmed. She then decides that in order to protect him she must hide the truth from him. THIS is going to break me! I just know it.

FIRE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER BY ANGELINE BOULLEY – 3/16 A debut that has been making its rounds on the gram and the blogs & was selected for Reese’s Book Club. A mystery/thriller that follows a young bi-racial MC as she investigates a string of crimes plaguing her community using her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. This is one that’s going to be heavy in its subject matter, readers should seek out content warnings. I pre-ordered my physical copy and also was granted access to a complimentary copy from Libro.fm, I will absolutely be reviewing here on the blog.

RULE OF WOLVES (KING OF SCARS #2) BY LEIGH BARDUGO -3/30 I’m still not sure where I stand with this title as far as excitement goes. King of Scars which I did not really enjoy…so much so I didn’t even review it. If I’m being quite honest, it’s the excitement of the Grishaverse coming to Netflix that has me considering picking up a copy of this sequel. I am however here for more Nina Zenik AKA The Queen of Mourning!

DOWN COMES THE NIGHT BY ALLISON SAFT – 3/2 a Gothic Paranormal Romance (My current read) set during a time of turmoil and war. We have a bisexual MC who has magic in her blood, she’s a healer for her country’s military but she lacks the favor of her aunt the Queen. Dismissed from the Queen’s Gaurd and out of options to redeem herself, she accepts an invitation  to Colwick Hall to cure a servant from a mysterious illness. The mansion feels haunted with its closed off and crumbling wings and the host is eccentric and restricting. This also reads as a mystery as our MC sets out to uncover what nefarious dealings are afoot.

BRIDGE OF SOULS (CASSIDY BLAKE #) BY VICTORIA SCHWAB3/2 A middle grade series I haven’t started yet BUT the fact that it’s set in New Orleans with a MC who is a Ghost Hunter makes it a MUST read!

ONCE UPON A QUINCEÑERA BY MONICA GOMEZ-HIRA -3/2 Described as “Jenny Han meets Jane the Virgin” *Gasp* a YA Latinx Contemporary with a MC who is stuck spending her summer in an unpaid internship where she must wear a ballgown and perform. When her company gets hired to work her cousins Quinceñera and she’s paired off with her ex as a dance partner, things get complicated. She wants nothing more than to leave her past in the past, hoping it’s as fun as it sounds haha!


Adult Fantasy & SCI-FI

THE UNBROKEN BY C.L. CLARK – 3/23 Queer Sci-Fi Fantasy with a MC whow was stolen as a child and then raised to kill and die for the empire. When her company is sent back home to stop a rebellion she has to decide where her loyalties lie. We get a romance between our MC Touraine and Luca who is determined to get her uncle off the throne …that sounds so bad a**!!! HIGH hopes this will be a favorite of 2021 *fingers crossed* 

THE BONE MAKER BY SARAH BETH DURST – 3/9 “Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.” THIS standalone Fantasy has all the makings of a EPIC read! we get heroes who fought and lost their lives to defeat a evil bone maker 25 years ago…possibly come back from the dead?!? IT GETS NO BETTER THAN THAT AMIRGHT?


Adult Fiction & Romance

THE LOST APOTHECARY BY SARAH PENCER – 3/2 “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.” Excited to see this one as a Book of the Month March pick, I’m a sucker for Historical Fiction set in London and this one just sounds right up my alley. 

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON – 3/30 “A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.” Another Book of the Month March selection I was looking forward to especially after hearing it’s written in the same oral format as Daisy Jones and the Six!!! a girl can only dream *heart eyes*

ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN BY TALIA HIBBERT – 3/9 (My reviewThe third and final book in The Brown Sisters trilogy & I LOVED IT! I was granted access to a eGalley from the publisher which made my January all the better. This is Eve’s story, the youngest of the Browns who has been adrift when it comes to settling down whether it be career or relationships. Her parents put their foot down and cut off her access to her trust fund until she can show them she can adult. This leads her to working as a chef at a B&B and we get a close proximity hate-to-love romance with Jacob, an autistic man with a curmudgeon like personality. Be still my heart! ❤

THE SONG BOOK OF BENNY LAMENT BY AMY HARMON – 3/16 Historical Fiction set in 1960’s featuring a MC who plays the piano and writes songs, his father is also deeply connected to the mob. When his father introduces him to a singer with a powerhouse voice, they become an unstoppable duo both on and off the stage. This is also a romance between an interracial couple that spotlights a lot of the issues black people were experiencing during the 60’s in NYC. My copy arrives tomorrow & I have already planned to squeeze it into my March reading.

WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES BY DENNY S. BRYCE – 3/30 In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.” Not a book set in 1920’s Chicago! *arms extended* saved the best for last here because I’ve truly been counting down the days for this one. I read the Goodreads synopsis after seeing this stunning cover pop up in a magazine ad and I got such Evelyn Hugo vibes which only got me more stoked. High hopes. High hopes. 


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Spoiler Free Review: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Title: Blazewrath Games (Blazewrath Games #1)

Author: Amparo Ortiz

Pub. Date: October 6th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy/Latinx

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages: 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON 

🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤

“𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑦, 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑤𝑒’𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑡𝑜 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑠. 𝑊𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑙𝑜𝑎𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠. 𝑊𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑑𝑟𝑎𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑎 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑝. 𝑆𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑚𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑠 𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚. 𝑂𝑢𝑟 𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑡𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑖𝑠𝑒”

Blazewrath Games is described as “How to Train Your Dragons” meets “Quidditch through the Ages” and I’d say that’s about right with the exception that this book actually brings forth a ton of representation. It is the first Young Adult Fantasy I’ve seen hit the shelves with Latinx characters straight from the island of Puerto-Rico. The Spanish language is used all throughout, bringing the terms of endearment we use for one another as well as the pride we have for our Island to the page. The Blazewrath Games themselves are sort of like the Olympics with representation from all countries. One of the countries introduced has a team made up of ALL members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Within team Puerto-Rico we also have Queer rep which made my little heart very happy to see! Our MC Lana faces some challenges getting chosen as a Runner for the team since she has spent many years away from the island. She feels displaced & is met with some opposition along the way.

Lana is passionate about Blazewrath & Puerto Rico, she sets out to prove she’s worthy of her place on the team. In this world dragons bond with the humans they choose to participate in the Blazewrath Games. The Dragons are full of personality & love for their Riders but there are also Unbonded Dragons. These dragons are deemed volatile to civilians and our villain who was a former dragon cursed into human form sees an opportunity to gain control. Dragon sanctuaries are being burned down in protest of the Blazewrath Games. Lana and her teammates are thrust into solving a complex conspiracy while also trying to win the Cup for their Island of Puerto Rico. If you’re looking to discover new diverse YA Fantasy with dragons, wizards, witches and adventure this is one worth giving a shot.

Content Warning: Mention of domestic violence, Cancer, death of a parent

Blazewrath Games is Amparo Ortiz debut YA Fantasy, one that I was heavily looking forward to since seeing Ortiz speak on a panel earlier this year for Diversity in YA. Our MC Lana who was born in Puerto-Rico but has since relocated with her mother after their parents separation is experiencing a sense of displacement. She yearns to reconnect with her roots and also with her father who she maintains a close long distance relationship with. I’ve always had a soft spot for father/daughter stories since they take me back to my own and so I was hoping to see Lana’s more fleshed out. Her dad seems to be someone she has a deep bond with but for the majority of the story he’s M.I.A. Although his absence is explained on the page, I wished we’d seen more of him and less of what seemed to be a very tense relationship with her mom. Blazewrath is a fast paced adventure with a conspiracy at its core, if you’re a fan of dragons and magical settings this is a solid read. Team Puerto-Rico is a tight knit crew we get to know as Lana interacts with them in her training. More focus however is placed on the dragons, their abilities which are developing and their personalities. I LOVED all of the dragons with a special place in my heart for Daga the youngest and easily excited of them all. I’m very curious to see where Ortiz takes this story next in Bloodbath Ring (Blazewrath Games #2) which doesn’t have a release date yet but I’ve already added to my TBR.


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October 2020 Wrap-Up

Ever had a month where you simply needed change? change of scenery or routine? That was October for this book lover. Working from home as well as remote teaching can be hella fatiguing without adding all the other day to day tasks. I was craving fresh air, trees, bodies of water and trails. So, I took my physical fitness journey to the trails in Ramapo New York. It was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate me for LIFE in general. Books were read & lots of thinking and self care was done as well, all in a safe space. I find that detaching from my apartment REALLY helps me ground myself & feed my soul.

I wish I’d taken more photos on the trails but tbh, they were intermediate and for someone like myself who has just started doing these…it can be challenging to say the least (short girl short strides problems haha!) I did get an AWESOME sense of accomplishment whenever I reached the top or pushed myself the extra mile. My reading was top quality this month! I’m behind just two more reviews for October but they’re coming I promise. I just thought it best to wrap up October cause we’re already at the end of November smh.


My Spoiler free  reviews are linked down below…

FABLE BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – This was a 4 Star read, I love a good father/daughter story and Adrienne Young is an author who really delivers on familial bonds. I listened to the audiobook on Libro.fm, the narrator nailed female pirate with an air of defiance. The world building was A+ and if you’re a lover of high seas adventures, this one will make you feel like your dead smack in the middle of an ocean aboard their ship. Pacing at times can be a bit off but the story & character development more than make up for it.

SPOILER ALERT BY OLIVIA DADE – 5 Star read which had me smiling & at times giggling at its raunchiness haha! this is one for those who love fanfiction OR fandoms in general. Our MC is plus size & very secure of herself in a way that had me thriving to embody her glow. She’s a fan fiction writer & cosplayer who loves living the geeky life. The male love interest is the star of a Gameofthronesque type show…the same show our MC writes fan fiction for. I gushed all about these characters in my non-spoiler review linked above.

LEGENDBORN BY TRACY DEONN – 5 EPIC STARS!!! yet I’m still sitting here wondering why this one made a splash pre-release yet I haven’t seen many reviews out there for it. Those reviews I have seen on Bookstagram from black readers & POC have been rave reviews and I LOVED to see it! This is the ONLY Arthurian re-telling? continuation? I really care for this year. We get a MC who has suffered a very traumatic loss at the start & so her grief is integral to this story. She finds her way into a secret society of the descendants of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. There’s blood magic & a war brewing but it’s all linked back to the racism & generational trauma experienced by the MC’s ancestors. This one moved me on a soul level and is exactly the type of Fantasy I want to read more of.

BLACK SUN BY REBECCA ROANHORSE – 4 Stars & I’m prepared to read more by Rebecca Roanhorse ASAP! this is the start to a new adult fantasy series set in a world inspired by the Pre-Colombian Americas, we follow the Sky Made Clans who are prepping for Winter Solstice. Ya’ll ever read a book with a jaw dropping first passage? cause this one had me shaking my head like, what did I just get myself into? HOOKED! Ok. There’s a prophecy, a clan of Crow people who have been wronged, retribution, Queer characters (one who just so happens to be sort of a siren), multiple POV’s and so much more.

GROWN BY TIFFANY D. JACKSON – 5 Stars simply put this was a Gut wrenching audiobook. Our MC is a teenage black girl who aspires to have a singing career. Her path unfortunately crosses with a narcissistic predator who dangles promises but only seeks to control her mind and body. We see her innocence stripped away while he works to isolate her from a family who loves her and has only sought to take care of her. Many have linked this book to the singer R.Kelly but the author has previously stated that this is not that but is it’s own story. Either way, it was at times disturbing to read and others just sad because too often black girls are subjected to having to grow up way before they’re meant to. HIGHLY recommend to those seeking to read & connect with stories/characters outside of their own culture, ethnicity or youth experience.

AMERICAN DREAMER BY ADRIANA HERRERA – 5 GLORIOUS STARS!!! In this corner of the interwebz we LOVE Adriana Herrera and whatever she writes I will buy and support. Also listened to this on Libro.fm while cooking & doing laundry. We follow our MC who is a Dominican Gay man leaving NYC and moving to Upstate NY in hopes that he can turn his Afro-Caribbean food truck into a restaurant. When he arrives he meets Jude, the cute librarian guy who is a bit shy but also very curious about Nesto’s confidence and swag. Filled with yummy food descriptions and a crew of fellas who are #BFFFriendGoals I ate this book up! haha! Cannot wait to continue on with this series.


Lovecraft Country

This was just about the only TV show I managed to watch in October but WOW! Quality streaming content book lovers! I’m not yet finished, I’ve watched 9 episodes and have been staying away from Twitter spoilers. I hear the ending will break me and I’m just bracing for that. Sci-fi Horror which starts off with a black man who goes on a road trip with his Uncle and friend through 1950’s Jim Crow America. Each episode has you clutched in fear for these characters whose lives are constantly in peril between racist America and the actual monsters/demons which I took to be physical manifestations of the hatred steeped in our history/present day.


I hope you’re all doing well during these tough times, finding things that bring joy and peace to your lives. Big or small, whatever brings your soul joy I hope you’ve found it or are on your way to finding it. I’d LOVE to hear all about what ya’ll have been reading or spending time on/with. Drop some love down below <3’s!

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The Cozy Autumn Book Tag!

What’s this?!? a tag?!?! why YES, Yes it is! Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year, it’s when my spirits are at an all time high and I want to do all the cozy & outdoor things. This year I’m adding one new thing to my list of Fall things…hikes & trails! I’m a sucker for a scenic route and it only helps my efforts to get some cardio in on the weekends whilst also staying away from crowded city life. I’m slowly going to be working my way up to some tougher/longer hikes throughout New York State & hopefully I’ll get some good colorful Fall shots along the way. Of course, it wouldn’t be my favorite season without some fave autumnal reads…

🍂 Q U E S T I O N S 🍂

1. What book always reminds you of fall/autumn? Adriana Mather’s  Haunting the Deep #2 in the How to Hang a Witch series ALWAYS invokes Fall vibes. Set on the Titanic with a MC who is a direct descendant of a prominent figure in the Salem Witch Trials, this book with Its ghostly characters is a great way to kick off the Fall season.

2. What is your favourite autumnal book cover? This year it’s a toss up between Lobizona by Romina Garber (my review) & Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (my review). They SCREAM autumn with their lush dark burgundy and orange colors. Cemetery Boys does take place around Dia De Los Muertos which only amps up this book as one to pick up this season. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

3. What is your favourite autumnal drink to read with? Currently…COVID has me staying away from Starbucks BUT I found their creamers at Target *jazz hands* specifically the Caramel or Cinnamon Dolce creamers with my home made coffee topped off with some ground cinnamon. Mhm…as you may have guessed, I love cinnamon!

4. Do you prefer to read late at night or early in the morning? Late nights used to be my JAM! but alas, no longer! neither are the mornings tbh cause of my hectic jam packed schedule. Evenings are when I get most of my reading in.

5. Halloween is coming! What is your favourite spooky read? Up until this tag, I did NOT think to choose a fave spooky read. However, going forward Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (my review) which is haunting AF! will be that read I go to for its horror noir vibes. UGH! this book my fellow bookworms…will make the hair on your neck stand.

6. What is the ultimate comfort read for you? This will always be the Romance genre as a whole. However, most recently I discovered Adriana Herrera who I HIGHLY recommend. Here to Stay (my review) sees our MC relocate from NYC to Dallas Texas & it just so happens to run into Thanksgiving. The cast of characters/friends in this story felt like home to me so much so that I truly didn’t want the book to end. I will continue reading Herrera’s books whenever I need that cozy feeling.

7. What is your favourite autumnal reading snack? although it has been WAY TOO LONG! for many years, I’ve loved Junior’s NYC Strawberry Cheesecake. Not just for the flavor but for the many sweet memories attached to this treat.

8. What is your favourite autumnal candle to burn whilst reading? In previous years, I did buy candles from bookish shops but not as of late. While I burn through my current collection, I’ve noticed Butterscotch, Hot Cocoa and Salted Caramel scents seem to call to me.

9. When you’re not reading, what is your favourite autumnal activity? Long outdoor walks paired with a hoodie\leggings & an engaging audiobook. If not, then it’s curling up in bed watching romantic comedies in fuzzy socks.

10. What is on your autumn/fall reading list? Ha! this may just be a bit ambitious but I’m sure going to give it a shot…


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Spoiler Free Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Title: Cemetery Boys

Author: Aiden Thomas

Pub. Date: September 1st 2020

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Queer

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Pages: 352 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM

Whenever I think of this book I smile simply because I love the entire cast of characters. Our MC Yadriel is a Latinx trans boy growing up in L.A.who is trying to get his family to accept him for who he really is. This is no easy feat in an extensive family of Brujex who follow the traditions & spiritual beliefs that honor Lady Death. Yadriel hasn’t gone before Lady Death to be recognized as a real brujo & get his portaje (dagger) in large part because his family doesn’t believe she’ll accept him as trans. The ceremony with Lady Death is what grants Brujex the power to sever the ties a spirit has to the living. This in turn allows for the spirits to cross over, a responsibilty that most Brujex celebrate when their time comes. The Brujex community has just been rocked when one of their own goes missing. Search parties are formed, led by Yadriel’s father who is their leader. He has also forbidden Yadriel from participating in the search alongside the other men. Yadriel defies his fathers orders to stay behind & with the help of Maritza a sort of unconventional bruja *heart eyes* sets out to find answers. Performing the ritual for Brujex was HUGE! It meant Lady Death does accept him, what he didn’t expect was to accidentally conjure up the spirit  of the schools residential bad boy, Julian Diaz. Nor that he’d find Julian infuriatingly attractive…
🧡

Adri (Goodreads | Booktube Reading Vlog) who 100% made me run to pick this book up, has also given us the following content warnings: Misgendering, allusions to deadnaming, depictions of gender dysphoria, exploration of parental death, non-violent references to blood magic, some descriptions of self-harm (for ritualistic purposes)

“It’s astrology, and it totally makes sense!” Maritza continued. “His big, obnoxious Scorpio energy is invading your cozy Cancer safe space!”

I’m a sucker for astrology but to see fictional characters get assigned a zodiac sign is genius! I legit had a few moments where I found myself nodding along with Maritza in a “that makes sense cause he’s a Scorpio” moment haha! honestly it just added a layer of fun in getting to know these characters & got me invested. I grew affection towards Yadriel & found myself feeling over protective of his heart/feelings. Julian’s backstory was fleshed out giving us a better understanding as to why he was perceived a certain way. We see how his Columbian ethnicity was used against him to form stereotypes around him & his family. Dubbed a troubled kid who most likely belonged to a street gang, Julian found it easier to let others think what they may. There were moments between Julian & Yadriel where he questions the things he does. If in fact he was going to wait to be granted permission to be accepted as a trans Brujex…

Why do you have to prove anything to anyone?”
“It’s just how it is, how it’s always been. In order for them to let me be a brujo—”
“You don’t need anyone’s permission to be you, Yads”

This has to be one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever read in YA Contemporary. I often found myself asking why Julian had to have passed away to begin with, it gave me a bittersweet feeling seeing them fall for one another. This is a story about acceptance and living in your truth, it’s about friendship & sweet innocent love. There’s a strong family at the core of this story, one that Yads loves wholeheartedly & who in turn love him. The fear Yad’s own father has over him has become a blockage in their relationship. Their relationship in particular had me all in my feelings wishing for the best outcome because the love between them is so great. Yadriel lost his mother at a young age but as a Brujex is able to spend one day with her every year when the veil is at its thinnest between the living and spirit worlds. I personally try to stay away from stories that delve into grief however this was done in a way I’ve never experienced before. I can go on and on for days on why this is a MUST read but the book community is already doing a PHENOMENAL job in singing it its well deserved praises 😉


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Spoiler Free Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic

Author: Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Pub. Date: June 30th 2020

Genre: Gothic Horror/Latinx/Mystery

Format: Physical

Publisher: Del Rey

Pages: 301 Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

“𝑨 𝒘𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂 𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒍𝒚 𝒅𝒐 𝒂𝒏𝒚𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈: 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒖𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒆𝒓”

𝑴𝒆𝒙𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝑮𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒄 is set in 1950’s Mexico, a Gothic Horror that follows our mid-twenties socialite Noemi (gave me young Evelyn Hugo vibes) who has been directed by her father to go check up on her cousin Catalina. Catalina the cousin who has always been a nurturing role model, married in haste & not much is known about her new husband. It is thought that perhaps there were financial motives driving her fiancé to seal the deal but distance has taken Catalina away from home. Now relocated to a more remote area where communication is lack, Catalina is a source of worry when her letter is received & in it she speaks of a haunted house and whispers within the walls. Noemi strikes a deal with her father, in exchange for enrollment in the University of her choosing she will travel to Catalina to secure her mental state. Noemi is a character way ahead of her times in many ways with a wide array of interests. She steers clear of getting emotionally attached to her love interests & instead feeds her unquenchable this for knowledge. Often times thought of as fickle for starting & ditching different subject matters, Noemi is a force to be reckoned with. Quick witted, fiercely independent, charming, headstrong with a dose of class that drips cool. Noemi is the type of character you’ll never forget. High Place, the big house she travels to is a place you’ll never forget. A place where Noemi will question not only the sanity of her cousin but her own as well. A place that has a lot of history, secrets & pain hidden within its walls. In many ways, High Place is a main character in this story…

Atmospheric & haunting this is a slow burn tale that will raise the hairs as you read. It is a mystery with smart writing in which Moreno-Garcia weaves in themes of eugenics, misogyny, racism, and colonization. It is character driven & has the ability to transport you out of your own surroundings. I read this on the beach and was easily transported to High Place which is the big house this story is set in. I got the same vibes I’d get whenever reading anything by Edgar Allen Poe which left me shook! I don’t ever run to pick up horror but I’d been hearing about this author for quite some time & decided it was time to see for myself. I devoured this book, engrossed & invested in every single page. Unable to put this one down I even read it while accompanied by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s Book Playlist on Spotify for this book. I was instantly sucked in by Noemi’s charm, seeing her work her way around the people living in the house while she tries to extract any bit of info. The creepy AF vibes you get while she wanders the halls & speaks to the residents who seem off and strange. Everything about this book was strange but in such a good way! Noemi didn’t shy away from any challenging topics & seeing her handle certain topics had me admiring her at many points throughout the story. This may be my first Moreno-Garcia book but it certainly won’t be last especially since I currently own a couple of her previous works. I’m looking forward to continue falling in love with this authors work, discovering more Latinx characters in the wide variety of genres she has written in.


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