2019 YARC Update: Smash that Goal

Hello friends,

I’m back today talking about Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, or YARC. This is a year-long challenge organized by CW, Shealea, Vicky, and Lily. Back in February, I wrote my sign up post with a tentative TBR. My first goal was 24 books, I figured that I easily could manage two books a month by an Asian author or artist. And I did quite well because as of today, I have read 44 books. Yes! I surpassed my own goal so now I have set up a new one, one that my overachiever heart treasures and dreads; 60 books to get the Bengali tiger.

I wanted to do like a mini updated about the challenge, what books I have been reading and what books I’m planning to read next.

Books Read

Yes! 44 books, bitches!

Of those 44 books, 12 are romance novels or novellas, 16 are graphic novels or mangas, and 10 are YA science fiction/fantasy novels. It’s a very nice variety of genres and tropes going through everything I like to read. I’m quite happy that I decided to reread Ms. Marvel this year and super happy that I finally started Sidekick Squad series by C.B. Lee. I’ve been tackling so many books from my tbr and it makes me so happy!

Favorite Books So Far

Definitely as a highlight; The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, Sidekick Squad by C.B.Lee, Kiranmala and the Kingdom of Beyond by Sayantani DasGupta, Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee, The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, and Ash by Malinda Lo.

This year I’m finishing The Bone Witch series, I have to. Book one was one of my favorite reads in 2017 and now that I reread it, I’m also counting it for this year. The rich world, the complex characters, the dreadful adventures, the air of mystery, I just love how the story alternates between past and present in such a masterfully way. Hands down to Rin, seriously.

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I won book one of the Sidekick Squad like two years ago? And I have had it there, sitting on my shelf all this time. And the worst thing is, I knew I would really really loved it. Finally read it and I want to kick myself because yes! I LOVED IT. A sapphic superhero story? Sign me up! Book two was also super delightful and fun and sweet. I seriously adore everyone and I can’t wait to finally read book 3 about my fave character, Emma.

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I feel like I’ve been talking nonstop about Kiranmala and the Kingdom of Beyond, but this series is just so good! I need everyone having it on their radar, please. Full of friendship, adventures, astronomy facts, puns and a kick ass heroine. The series gets to be fun and tackle heavy and important themes at the same time. Sayantani is truly a wonderful writer.

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Stacey Lee is becoming one of my all time favorite authors. Last year I listened and fall in love with Under a Painted Sky. Outrun the Moon has also a sympathetic character, delightful female friendship, a heartwarming romance and a very hopeful message. I just trust Stacey to give me a very hard book that it will have the perfect and most satisfying ending ever.

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The Astonishing Color of After was a very hard book to read, but it just so beautifully written that I couldn’t quite put it down. The story has these little moments of hope and love that help with the grief, sense of loss and pain that Leigh is going through. I really think this book was a journey that I needed to take. Emily broke my heart and put it back together.

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Ash is another book that explorers loss and mourning. A sapphic Cinderella retelling that broke my heart in ten thousand pieces. It just so unfair and infuriating the way Ash is treated and she deserves so much better. It’s not an action-packed/adventure type sort of book, more of a character-driven book. It’s quiet and slow-paced, but just so perfect for the story that it tells. I really appreciated what Malinda Lo did here.

Add to Goodreads

What I am Reading Next

I’m currently reading two books for this challenge; 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz and Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. The first one is a delightful rom-com with a Korean MC who falls for the wrong guy in her one year-exchange student program in San Francisco. Sarah’s book is my reread project for one of my favorite series, I’m having such a fun time with the superhero adventures, slowish burn romance, the heartwarming found family and all the demon mysteries.

Some books that I have in mind to read in the next weeks;

  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  • Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
  • Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
  • Saving Luna by Carla de Guzman
  • Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

What should I read next?


Happy reading,

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5 Books that Young Cande Needed In Her Life

I have read since I can remember, every childhood photo carrying a book under my arm. Reading has always been my thing, the thing that I do all the time, the thing that I love. And although I’ve read and reread many books in my life, there are some that I will never forget. These books, the way they touched me, the way they made me feel so seen and validated, has already shaped my life. These books, featuring heartbreaking, powerful and important stories, came to my life pretty recently. The truth is, what young Cande would have thought about these books, I can’t even imagine. I know I would have loved them, I know I would have treasured them in my heart, I know I would have felt full of love. But I can’t even imagine the way they could have shattered and reconstructed my world, I can’t imagine if they would have saved me from years and years of feeling so alone and wrong. I want to think they would have, I want to believe these books would have made young Cande feel less alone, that there wasn’t anything wrong with her, with what she felt, with what she wanted.

I know this post is becoming way more personal than any other thing that I’ve written before, but this is what these stories deserve. These books don’t only bring me completely joy but they also are my heart. And right now, I’m offering you my heart open, all of me. So *takes deep breath* here we go

the five books young Cande needed in her life


Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Oh, that sound? It’s me sobbing because Wild Beauty is the precious book of my heart. I grew up reading magical realism and it feels kinda magical that magical realism would give me the queer content that I needed. The book is perfect and I will never stop talking about it. McLemore prose is gorgeous, her world building fascinating and her characters? the very best. I feel like this book tugs me to my happiest childhood memories; afternoons spent reading about horrifying situations and hopeful endings. This was the first time, in a very long time, where I felt seen, really seen. The Nomeolvides girls are cousins but more like sisters, best friends, who share not only the cursed magic but such a powerful and deep love for each other. I struggle in YA to find books that show the kind of relationship that I have with my primas but this book? this book it is; the loyal support, the protective fierceness, the petty jealousy, the unconditional love, the complete trust… And yes, this story features a bisexual Latinx main character who is supported by her family AND finds the love she deserves. Could I ask for more?

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

A YA Fantasy + Latinx inspired world + F/F romance. Can you believe Zoraida did that? This book felt like Zoraida had read my deepest bookish dreams and made them all possible. I just love this book so much?? Not only the phenomenal world, but also these characters who feel so real and rounded. Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with magic, but trying to get it rid off makes things worse: she vanishes her family to the magical and dangerous Los Lagos land. Alex is scared and angry and tired and she doesn’t know what she’s doing and honestly? I feel you, Alex. I felt in love with her from sentence one, her pain and guilt goes beyond paper. And so it does her strength and loyalty. She is so relatabled: she’s caught between what her family expects from her and her own dreams, living in a community that encourages family above anything else. I read this book just when I was figuring out how to tell my family ‘this is not what I want for my life’ and reading Alex’s journey made me cried so much, I was not alone in this. And I know this is not something only Latinx folks experience! Rationally, I get that. But it feels so different (and important) to see a Latinx girl coming to terms with her power and voice and telling her family ‘this is me, okay?‘ when we’re such a machista culture that refuses to listen to girl’s dreams. Plus Alex is bisexual, she just is and it melted my heart.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

This book came at very difficult moment of my life, but I owned so much to it. Like Water follows Vanni, who after her father’s diagnostic puts her life on hold; she decides to stay in their town, she stops hanging out with old friends, she cuts short her dreams. Things slow down and Vanni lives with this constant fear and so many doubts bottle up inside her. Until Leigh and her brother moved into town, putting Vanni’s life outside down. They make her realize that there’s more, that is okay wanting more. Vanni is not perfect, she makes mistakes, she hurts the people she cares about. Her journey is equally painful and heartwarming, she’s such a relatabled character. She doesn’t know what to do, she isn’t sure how to figure out the rest of her life and I feel that so deeply. Like Vanni, when my father went to an emergency surgery I felt like I had to be the backbone of my family, there was not place or time for me to fall apart when my mother and brothers needed me. But I was not alone. I sit in that dark and cold hospital room holding Like Water like it was the only thing that could keep me going. Through the pain and fear, Vanni told me things that I didn’t want to hear but I needed and I’m so grateful to Rebecca for that.

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Rukhsana is a Mulism, Bangladeshi lesbian teenager who keeps in secret her girlfriend. Although things are not exactly okay, she knows they will get better once she lives for college. Rukhsana doesn’t live with the luxury of being out and proud, she’s terrified about what will happen with her parents, her family, her community if they find out. And then, they do and her worst fears come true. This story is incredibly painful and heartbreaking, I understand it’s not something everyone can read. But although things look terrible, she soon learns she’s not alone, that her community will stand with her, that her family will support her. The message is so important in this book: Rukhsana’s faith doesn’t invalidate her queerness by any means. There are many great things in this story (calling out racism and Islamophobia, beautiful sibling relationship, gay-lesbian solidarity), but my favorite thing is how utterly, completely hopeful this story becomes. Coming from a homophobic family that justifies their bigotry with religion, this book gives me hope. Maybe I am not alone in my family, maybe they will also stand by my side, maybe my community will not let me down. And I’m holding to this hope with everything I have.

We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

*takes deep breath* I just love this book so much!!!! This story makes my heart so full that I tear up thinking about it. We Set The Dark On Fire is so gay, so fierce, so powerful, so Latinx. Every small detail about this world makes me feel like home. Dani is so amazing and Carmen so freaking incredible, I just want to hug them forever. It’s everything I love from Fantasy (high stakes, corrupt governments, revolutions, politics) with everything that I thought I would never get to see: someone like me. I’m getting emotional again and I’m sorry bUT THIS BOOK FRIENDS. Dani’s queerness is NEVER questioned, she’s Latinx and she’s queer *sobs* I love how Tehlor makes you feel like 1) kissing girls/thinking about girls is 100% okay (and very gay), and 2) you’re never alone in the fight against oppression. Just… *clenches fist* feel so validated and loved.


March Wrap Up

Hello lovelies,

Another month is over and here we are again. After some thoughts I’m trying something new this time. The truth is, I read a lot in a month, and it’s just very tiresome (and I’m guessing, very boring for you) to list every single book. So this time I’m picking some books that made an impact on me, left me with tons of feelings and/or I need more people to know about.

Anyway, this month I read 32 of books. It’s like my best record ever and I’m so happy. I tried to make a TBR and somehow was successful (not really); I read 9 books from the list, DNF 3 and I’m currently reading 2 (Dragon Pearl and American Dreamer). Yeah, doesn’t look great but for being my first monthly TBR, I’m counting it as a success. What I mean, yes I read 32 books but only 9 of those were in my actual TBR. Ups?

I will stop rambling about my reading habits and just let you read my rambling about feelings and books…


Key Code:

🌻book by Latinx author

☀️book by Asian author for YARC Challenge (here to know more about it)

🐋backlist title (pub 2018 or before)

🦄new release (pub 2019)

🌲ARC

🎧 audiobook

cover goes to Goodreads page

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

🎧 🐋|Pub: March 2014

I buddy read this book with Laura from Green Tea and Paperbacks. It’s a YA thriller/mystery with a disabled bisexual MC. It’s phenomenal, okay? I love how nuanced and messy the characters are, how gay the story is, how beautifully written the book is, how great the mystery worked for me. Sophie has been drug free for nine months but when her best friend dies is so easy for everyone to not trust her, the recovering addict that fool them for so long. And it’s so painful to read, the distrust and disdain that Sophie goes through. But it’s, sadly, so real. As a society, we have zero compassion for addicts. Although the book is not by any means a happy story, there are hopeful moments that made me smile so much. I’m so happy I read this book and so happy that buddy read it too (sorry Laura!! I know it took me so long and I want to cry).

TW: recollection of drug use, drug abuse, homophobia, ableism directed to main character, death of a friend, biphobic comments (called out), statutory rape

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars

🦄🌲|Pub: March 2019

I’m part in love with this story and in part so irritated by it. If you didn’t watch Avatar, short recap; The Legend of Korra was an animated series by Nickelodeon that followed the new Avatar, Korra, a brown girl from the Southern Water Tribe and her friends, fighting all the baddies as Korra learned how to be the Avatar. In the fourth season, Korra and Asami walked together to the Spirit portal and before the screen gets black, they sort of kissed. Oh friends, how much we Avatar fans screamed!! Our two favorite women get together? And it was such a perfect ending because they used to be enemies (you know, competition) and then they became friends and now girlfriends!!! My sapphic heart can’t take all this cuteness.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I was expecting so much sapphicness here. And it was delivered! Oh the flirt and the kisses and the small gestures! Plus I really appreciated the small conversations with elders that show us that queer people has always existed in this universe. BUT it irritates how bad the plot is. Korra and Asami deserve better enemies than this! I mean, it not really terrible per se but it’s not something we haven’t seen before; oh he wants power, oh he was hurt, now he wants revenge and to take over the world. Okay??? Really not terrible, but after four seasons, this feels so flat and underdeveloped. Do better writers and give us a plot that queen Korra deserve!

TW: biphobic/homophobic comments (called out)

The Moon Within by Aida Salazar

🌻🦄|Pub: February 2019

This book is a tender exploration of gender identity and culture. Celi is a Puerto Rican-Mexican American girl caught between feelings, crushes, friendship and her family. As her 12 years old birthday gets close, her mom wants to have traditional Mexica ceremony, but she refuses. Celi is horrified that her mom is making her period a public event. To get away from all the arguments and embarrassing conversations, Celi dances, her passion, what brings her joy and peace. Things get more complicated, however, as she gets close to her crush, Ivan, and her loyalty for her best friend is at test.

Okay, I’m making a mess of trying to describe this book but in summary; a story about finding confidence and love in your community. I really appreciate how Aida shifts our view about periods and menstruation, how the connotations of being gross or embarrassing are thanks to western culture. I also really appreciate the conversations about gender fluidity in Mexica culture. Don’t know, I just love the way Celi’s community are supportive and embraced queer and gender nonconforming kids, given them all the love they deserve. I stan supportive adults!! Celi messes up but still tries to do better for her best friend and I appreciate that too. She’s not trying to hurt them, but her silence and passive responses did hurt them, and this is something Celi has to do better next time.

TW: deadnaming, trans phobic jokes, trans exclusionary language (some of it is rectified towards the end), descriptions about periods and menstruation

You Don’t Everything Jilly P! by Alex Gino

🐋🎧|Pub: September 2018

I was very excited to read Alex Gino’s latest book. Their debut, George, is a beautiful, heartfelt story and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed here. Jilly P is a middle schooler, a fantasy fan and very soon, a big sister. She wants to be a good ally, friend and sister, but she messes up. She says the wrong things, and although sometimes she has the best intentions, she still hurts her friends. But she owns her mistakes and always stands up for the people she loves. Alex Gino is such a genius; the characters are so delightful, so sympathetic and real.

TW: racist comments and microaggressions (called out in text), death of a Black, deaf teenager, ableist comments (called out in text)

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

🦄|Pub: January 2019

I saw so many friends getting and gushing about this book so when I saw it on my library I had to get it! It’s a graphic novel about two boys that work in a bakery, one who loves it with all his heart and one who just wants to get away, falling for each other. The colors are so soft and the art delightful. The story is adorable and it’ll definitely make you very hungry! The ending was a bit rushed, after the Big Fight we don’t see much of Ari’s train of thoughts. But in any case, the ending is so hopeful and just perfectly sweet for these baker boys.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

🐋☀️🎧|Pub: February 2018

This book is so fun and amazing. And the audiobook is narrated by the author! Which it’s so freaking wonderful. I truly love middle grade stories that center girls coming to terms with their identities and saving the world. Kiran has heard all her life how she’s an Indian princess, but that’s all lies! A tale that her parents maintain because they don’t realize she is all grown up now. Until she turns 12, her parents disappear, two very handsome princes come to pick her up and she ends up fighting an ugly demon. So maybe everything wasn’t just stories? The book is just so good, friends. The way it explorers Kiran feeling of otherness as daughter of immigrants, as a young brown girl is heartfelt and brilliant. Can’t wait to read the next one!

TW: racist comments and microaggressions by bullies

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

🌻🐋🎧|Pub: September 2018

This book is so freaking good! The best Pride and Prejudice retelling have ever read. Ibi captures the essence of the characters and the story and at the same time, it feels honest and from this century (sorry not sorry authors, but some of you really need to learn about teen slang). Zuri is an Afro Latinx teen whose whole world is changing, even if she doesn’t want it to. The love Zuri has for people is so clear from the start. I feel like many retellings miss this point of the Bennet’s sisterhood, that they really love each other ALL OF THEM, and it makes me so sad. I didn’t have that problem here at all, the sisters give me so much happiness. And all the small details that make me feel at home too, all these things that made up my Latinx community and it feels like a part of myself.

TW: Death of a family member, leaked of nude photos


Have you read or are you planning to read any of these books?

What were your favorite March reads?


So much love,

WWW #1

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.All you have to do is answer the 3 Ws; What did you recently finish?,What are you currently reading?,What do you think you’ll read next?


What did you recently finish reading?

Pink Slip by Katrina Jackson

Okay friends, I’m in love with this story. When Kierra takes the job as a personal assistant for this wealthy, and very beautiful, couple, she’s thinking in temporary terms, her dream is publishing her poetry. What she couldn’t imagine was that her bosses are spies and that she’ll be falling (hard) for both of them. Yes, this an spy erotica romance with a m/f/f relationship. It’s sexy, it’s fun (oh the flirt!) and so satisfying to read.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Kiran has grown up her entire life listening to stories by her parents about demons, goddesses and princesses. In her 12 birthday her parents disappeared, two strange boys (princess) come looking for her and she has to fight an awful demon. What can I say? I love middle grade, I love ownvoices fantasy (Indian rep!) and I especially love this trope of ‘your parents hide your real identity, you’re a real princess‘ LOVE IT. Ok, this book is just wonderful, Kiran’s voice is so honest and the story so heartfelt. Girls finding the power within themselves and embracing their ugly and good sides are my everything.


What are you currently reading?

Private Eye by Katrina Jackson

This is book two of The Spies Who Loved Her series. Yes, I started this one as soon as I finished Pink Slip because I’m fascinated by these characters. Here we follow a different spy, Kenny (MY MAN) and sex worker Maya (MY QUEEN) who have to fake date for a mission. The tension! The stakes! The cuteness! These two are going to destroy my poor cold heart. Katrina is an amazing writer and she really knows how to write sexy 😈


What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure! So maybe you can help me decide? I have a mix of YA books from my library and some romance novels that I really want to read.

Here are my options:

-The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf (YA Historical Fiction)

-The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (YA Fantasy)

-Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa (Contemporary Romance)

-Grumpy Fake Boyfriend (Contemporary Romance)

Wrap Up: February

Hello lovelies,

You know better late than never, right? It’s mid-March and here is my February wrap up. No excuses really, I’m just the queen of procrastination. I guess it’s going to be my brand asking all of you, dear friends, to have patience as I figure everything out.

February was a pretty great reading month; I read 21 books and participated in Sapphicathon (read my post about it here). Half of the books I read were romance, so I did way better than I was planning to. My Sapphicathon reads were all great and enjoyed them so much. Plus I did some buddy reads with amazing friends; Laura from Green Teas and Paperbacks, Carolina from Santana Reads, Louise (@/SoulInTheMoon at twitter) and Mics (@/Micsreader).

12 photos from my February bookstagram theme

Also, I’m really proud of my February theme in my bookstagram. I participated in #FFFebruaryReads photo challenge (organized by Imi and Kath), so you can read all about some of the sapphic books I read.


Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

  • Magical realism MG
  • Black sapphic girl MC
  • Friends to lovers
  • A heartfelt story with real characters
  • So heartbreaking but also hopeful

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

  • YA Contemporary
  • Real and honest
  • Complex characters
  • Iranian-American MC
  • Heartwarming friendship
  • Imperfect but loving family
  • Conversations about identity, culture and mental health (ownvoices depression rep)

Criminal Intentions: The Cardigans by Cole McCade

  • Crime/Mystery
  • Like your favorite cop show but 1000% queer and socially aware
  • Bi Persian-American Jewish older hero
  • Gay demigray ace Korean-American hero
  • M/M romance + the best slow burn
  • SO freaking good

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Fat, autistic, Black heroine, a grumpy webcomic creator and the pariah of the city
  • Bi, white hero, the soft new neighbor who just wants to cook for Ruth
  • A delicious slow burn
  • Very satisfying ending

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

  • Contemporary romance novella
  • Second chance romance + sapphic
  • Two beautiful black women who deserve the entire world
  • Super sweet

At His Lady’s Command by Nicola Davidson

  • Historical romance
  • My favorite in the series
  • Feminist AF
  • Older heroine + bodyguard hero
  • Most delightful romance
  • Lady Portia reminded me of Free from The Suffragette Scandal (by Courtney Milan)

The Avant-Guards #1 by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes

  • Comic
  • About a basketball team in an art school
  • Centers Black women
  • Super beautiful art + amazing dialogue
  • Delightful, I can’t wait for more

Moonstruck vol.1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis

  • Graphic novel feat. two lesbian women of color falling in love
  • Plus they’re werewolves!!
  • So magical and beautiful
  • Every time I read it, it gets better

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

  • YA Contemporary
  • Will break your heart in ten thousand pieces
  • Muslim Bangladeshi lesbian MC
  • Very hard read, but also very important and hopeful
  • Conversations about the intersection of culture, race and sexuality

Content warnings: homophobia, racism, Islamophobia, death of a queer character, conversion therapy

Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Fat lesbian Puerto Rican MC
  • Asexual panromantic MC w/ ADHD.
  • F/F and part of my sapphicathon TBR
  • So adorable and satisfying to read
  • Sapphicathon read

The Ghosts of Halloween by Ceillie Simkiss

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Three stories set in Halloween
  • Established couple (from Learning Curves)
  • Sapphicathon read

My Lady’s Lovers by Nicola Davidson

  • Historical romance
  • Sapphic couple
  • Most delightful happy ending!
  • Explicit sex content
  • Sapphicathon

Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, and Marissa Louise

  • SFF Graphic novel
  • Three friends that got hunting the thief woo took their precious things
  • Asian-American saphhic woman MC
  • Black woman MC
  • Fat white woman MC
  • Magic + Revenge + Supportive friends

Love Beyond Body, Space and Time (edited by Hope Nicholson)

  • Collection of SFF stories by Indigenous writers
  • Queer and two-spirits characters
  • Bittersweet stories and hopeful stories
  • A little bit of everything but overall is a very beautiful collection
  • Must read if you’re a SFF fan

To Tame a Wicked Widow by Nicola Davidson

  • Historical romance
  • Aged gap + older heroine
  • Very hot and great
  • Except I was a lit bit frustrated with the hero

My Lord, Lady, and Gentleman by Nicola Davidson

  • Historical romance
  • Davidson does it again: hot and delightful
  • M/M/F couple + bi heroes

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I have heard so many good things about this book that although it’s not a genre I usually read, I want to give it a try. But it just makes me so sad. I don’t know why I have such a hard time with Adult fiction, it was a painful struggle to sit down with this book, my heart ache. I’ll probably come back later in the year, because don’t get me wrong, this book is fantastic.

A Season to Celebrate by Priscilla Oliveras, Fern Michaels, Kate Pearce, and Donna Kauffman: This was a disappointment *sighs* I thought I was going to enjoy this collection but I didn’t quite like any story. Ups? The only one I read from beginning to end was the one by Priscilla and it’s not my favorite story by her. I like the heroine but the hero… *shrugs*

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare: Oh this book. I have been enjoying this series a ton, super fun and adorable, but this one? I have to force myself to read it. I just didn’t like the hero, he’s quite a bully, and I was not enjoying it. Yes, even though this is my favorite trope: marriage of convenience + fake dating. Maybe I will come back later, probably not.


Tell me all about your February books, friends

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ARC Review: We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Title: We Set the Dark On Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Pub Date: February, 26th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy


I’M IN LOVE

Thousand of years ago, the God brothers, Sun and Salt, fought for Sun’s second wife, Moon Goddess. Salt, the jealous, was forced out and Sun made Medio island prospered. A wall was built and the island divided; the Chosen Ones, smiled by Sun, live inside, closer to the capital, with all their good fortune. On the other side, the wrong side, poverty, hunger and discontent grew.

Medio society has kept the stories and traditions decade after decade; as Sun, men take two wives; a Primera to be his partner, a Segunda to be his lover. The wealthy kept wealthy and the system of injustice kept in place.

But the people are tired, tired of dying, tired of being silenced, tired of being invisible. Everyone is trying to hide their real intentions and loyalties as the resistance grows, but secrets are hard to keep when the powerful get uneasy.

For Dani, hiding is a survival thing. When she was young, her parents crossed the wall and created a completely new life for her. They sacrificed everything, risking their lives to bring her to a place of opportunities. So when Dani is sent to the prestigious Medio School for Girls, she knows she has to be the best Primera-make her parents proud and keep their pasts hidden. And she does.

Dani is marring one of the wealthiest and most powerful families of Medio, the young son of the Garcias. But as Dani lets herself breath for a moment in relief, she finds out that her Segunda, the second wife of her husband, is her mortal enemy, Carmen. Carmen, who has made her life impossible all these years, the girl that Dani can’t let herself trust but also, the girl she can’t stop thinking about.

Although Medio is a fantasy world, there’s without a doubt a complete influence of Latinx culture. Here, Latinx is the norm and the characters are allowed to exist. And it makes my heart ache.

The book takes a very hard look at the classicism and machismo in the community; the way the wealthy own communities, the ways religion is used as a justification to uphold a system of oppression, the way family and chisme are used to control people (especially young people who want to go against the norm).

Mateo is the personification of the Latinx macho man, the one who grew in a culture that justifies and validates his abuse. He is a quite simple character; a man born with power that believes that the world belongs to him. And the world kind of does.

Dani is ready to occupy her role as Primera, to be her husband loyal partner, to provide her knowledge and hard work. But she soon learns, that’s not how Mateo sees her, not like her equal (like he should, according to their traditions), but as a silly, innocent girl who he owns. This a shock for our main character, but also, the push she needs to make a choice, to let her loyalty for the Medio unfair traditions go.

Dani is not the center or the organizer of the revolution. No, this story is about Dani deciding to go against everything she has been taught, everything she has forced herself to believe (about herself and the world) is wrong. How much is Dani willing to sacrifice? How far will she go?

Oh Dani is an amazing character. She’s so brave, brave to go against what she is supposed, brave to fight back, brave to stand up for herself, brave to realize that she doesn’t own her parents her entire life, that she is allowed to make her own choices too. Carmen is the other side, the one who is allowed (by society) to be sentimental, silly, romantic. But she’s also wearing a mask, a mask to show society what she’s supposed to, to hide her real feelings and thoughts. They don’t like each other at first, not at all, but soon they learn that their secrets are painful to carry alone. And tentatively they become friends. A friendship that slowly grows into romance. Although this book is full of tension, fear and darkness, I can assure, there are girls kissing and girls thinking about kissing and girls who fall for each other.

One thing I wished we have seen more: the gods and goddess. The religion in this book is fascinating and very interesting, I hope we see more in the next book.

We Set The Dark On Fire is not subtle on its hard looks on xenophobia, privilege, oppression, poverty, social revolution. It doesn’t matter where you look, this book is heartbreaking and heartwarming, everything it discusses is very respectful and honest. Ultimately, it’s a story of hope. A reminder, really, that like Dani, we’re not alone. Keep fighting!

Highly recommend if you like:

  • YA fantasy with social themes
  • Rivals to lovers trope
  • Unapologetic sapphic Latinx girls

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Are you planning to read it? Do you like the rivals to lovers trope?

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ARC review: Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss and Other Stories by Lydia San Andres

Title: Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss and Other Stories

Author: Lydia San Andres

Publication Date: 2019

Genre: Historical Romance

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Synopsis

from goodreads

Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss 
When Lourdes Dominguez moved into Mrs. Gomez’s boarding house, she was assured that sharing a room with Marisol Pascual would suit them both–-and it did. 

(This story is available for free at www.lydiasanandres.com/extras

Mrs. Gomez’s New Year’s Surprise 
Running a boarding house had its challenges and Tom Hale, the disruptive, irritating, handsome new boarder was the biggest one Genoveva Gomez had ever encountered. 

Miss Weiss’s Reyes Present 
Leticia Weiss never thought she would she would fall for a customer of the department store where she works…until she met David Ramos


ARC provided by the author in exchange of an honest review. Thank you, Lydia!

I’m In Love

Three stories set in Ciudad Real during the Holidays; Christmas, New Years and Reyes Magos. All the stories feature characters that live in Mrs. Gomez’s boarding house. Sweet, fun and delightful, with tons of mentions of food, this anthology will make you hungry and happy for the rest of the day. You will not able to hold giggles with Mrs. Gomez, knowing smiles with Miss Dominguez and happy screams with Miss Weiss.

Although Ciudad Real is located in a fictional Caribbean island, it feels real. It’s a combination of Latinx culture; food, traditions, holidays, slang… All these small details that made me smile through the reading, barely noticed but that feels so authentic.

All the historical romance I have read it’s always set in Europe and the 1800s (nothing wrong with that, of course!) and this anthology is a welcomed, and very needed, change. Plus these are holiday stories! And like a good holiday romance, it’s fluffy, atmospheric and very sweet.

It’s not only the setting, the Latinx rep and the phenomenal writing that makes me so in love with this story, but also how the characters are also 100% wonderful. Three different women, with very different situations, but also so fierce. They want more and don’t know what. Or they do but refuse to acknowledge that the more is with someone else. Of course, these are short stories so they come to realize their feelings and accept their lovely love interests pretty quickly. But there is still some wonderful angst, the will they dare? that I love.

Why will you love these stories?

-Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss is a sapphic romance with friends to lovers trope. The story doesn’t revolve around society (does society accept their love? will they would be okay?) No, this story is about Lourdes falling for her friend and roommate, finding out that yes, Marisol likes girls too and yes, she wants to be with her too. Incredibly sweet.

-Mrs. Gomez’s New Year’s Surprise is an age gap plus opposite attracts. In some ways, it’s tropes in reverse; Genoveva is the older one and she’s quite grumpy and resistant to the tension between them. Tom, meanwhile, is incredibly sweet, with the best intentions and very awkward. He adores her and I adore them.

-Miss Weiss’s Reyes Present is for everyone who loves insta-love. Although the story is full of misfortunes, it’s clear for the beginning that these two are destined to be together. Their interactions are adorable and I couldn’t stop smiling. They’re so eager and happy to be in each others company.

Highly Recommend If You

  • would like to try historical romance
  • want something set outside the US and Europe for rombkbingo
  • are looking for romance stories that center Latinx voices

Lydia is quickly becoming one of my must-read-everything-she-writes authors. Seriously, I would even read her shopping list (wow that didn’t sound creepy at all).


Also by Lydia San Andres:

Wrap Up: January

Hello lovely friends,

This is my first wrap up and I’m so happy because January was a very good reading month. I read 24 books and DNF 3; seven of these books were for MHBookBingo, two were ARCs and ten (yes! ten!) have become my favorite of the year (yes, already making that list on my head).

I’m still trying to figure out how everything works and what exactly I want to do, so please, bear with me.

Also, I have decided that Latinx Magic is not going to have a star rating. I rate books by my reading experience and stars don’t feel very fair for the book or the author. And it’s even harder for me, I’m never sure how to rate my feelings. That is why I came up with five categories;

  • I’m in love (favorite of the month)
  • You’re wonderful (loved them with all my heart)
  • So enjoyable (very entertaining and great)
  • It was me (will come back to read or reread this book later)
  • Oh no, it was you (didn’t like or just didn’t finish it)

Do let me know what you think! I’m happy to hear suggestions/your experience.


click title to go to book’s gr page

The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I know, I’m super late to the party and I probably don’t have anything new to say about this book. BUT FRIENDS. It just feels especially relevant in 2019 to have this story about a girl who has been humiliated, betrayed and abused and decides that it is enough, she won’t take it anymore. The characters are fascinating and I’m ready to fall deeply in love with this world.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab. I guess I started my year with dark books, which is kinda funny but also great. I do want to dive more into mystery/thriller/horror and going first into this middle-grade book seemed like a good idea. Friends, it was. It gave me so much The Graveyard Book (by Neil Gaiman, childhood fave) vibes. I really can’t wait for the second book of this series.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. Fandom! Friends to lovers! Sapphic awesomeness! I read this book for MHBookBingo because it has anxiety and panic attacks rep and I’m so glad I did. The story is delightful and adorable, the friendship is heartwarming and the romance!! Plus Bisexual Chinese MC + Autistic MC. I can’t wait to read more by Wilde.

Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole. I’ve been meaning to read Alyssa’s backlist for some time and I’m glad I made it one of my first reads of the year. The book is sexy and full of tension. The rivals to lovers trope suits so well this story about grief and guilt, that ultimately becomes a story of love and hope. Plus Black woman MC + Korean man LI.

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker. Lucy is such an amazing writer; the characters are so well-defined, so real and sympathetic. She’s an actress, he’s her new boss. The story talks about power dynamics and their relationship is based on consent and respect. The romance is great, so much tension and humor, and the ending is so satisfying. Plus is aged gap + forbidden love + grumpy hero.

Fearless by Shira Glassman. Reading Shira is a delight. Her stories are so sweet, her characters adorable and the endings are always so wonderful. Yes, all good adjectives for her. Fearless is a sapphic romance between a divorced mom and a band teacher. A cozy read, that it is the best way to describe this book.

Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss and Other Stories by Lydia San Andres. All the feelings for this wonderful anthology with relatable protagonists, supportive love interests and the most delicious endings (for the food, I mean, I was talking about the food!). It’s set during Holidays (Christmas, New Years and Reyes Magos) and on a Caribbean island. And… seriously? do you need more to add this book to your TBR? Oh lucky you, you can read my review here.

We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia. I was very lucky that Cecilia (@citymousedc on twitter) sent me an ARC of this beauty aka my most anticipated February book. It was everything I want and more! I’m still writing my review because I have so many feelings (be sure to check out Carolina and Adriana’s reviews- here and here). But I can assure you; this story is very very sapphic (rivals to lovers!) plus conspiracies plus revolution plot, and at its core, very Latinx. WSTDOF deals with many things; immigration, identity, machismo, social revolution, privilege, family… Okay, I will stop now but please, do add this book to your TBR and consider preordering/requesting to your library if you can (preorder campaign is great, click here to see).

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan. I read this Fantasy book featuring queer people of color superheroes for MHBookBingo (anxiety rep) and I was completely blown away. The story is great, very fast paced and engaging, but the characters are the stars of the show, a very diverse group of MCs with different superpowers. But they’re not entirely evil or good, their intentions are not only selfless or perfect or cruel. And I do love morally grey vigilantes plus they are Ace and Aro? Yes yes yes!

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis. I also read this book for MHBookBingo. I wasn’t sure when I started if I was going to like this, it’s not a book to enjoy; it deals with sexual assault, pedophilia, attempt of suicide, child abuse, depression and mental institutions in the 1890s (physical and emotional abuse). Yes, it’s a lot, not an easy read at all. Grace is resilient, brilliant and fierce; her story is heartbreaking but her love for her sister and friends is so wonderful. There’s also a murder mystery that Grace solves with Dr. Thornhollow that I very much enjoyed (as much as one can enjoy a story about death and killers, of course). A Madness So Discreet is definitely not a book for everyone. It does have a satisfying bittersweet ending, a very hopeful one for Grace.

click title to go to book’s gr page

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur [Poetry collection by WOC]

Just So Happens by Fumio Obata [Graphic Novel + Japanese woman MC]

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan [Middle-Grade + Greek mythology + reread]

Gotham Academy: Second Semester, Welcome Back vol.1 by Brenden Fletcher and others [Comic + Kids detectives + Antiheroine arc]

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall [YA Contemporary + Agoraphobia, depression, anxiety and OCD rep]

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai [Middle-Grade + #ownvoices Vietnamese immigrant MC]

Life is strange #2 by Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi and Andrea Izzo [Graphic Novel]

click title to go to book’s gr page

Runaways vol.5: Escape to New York by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa [Graphic novel + Asian American MC, Latinx MC, Lesbian MC]

Avatar: North and South Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang [Graphic novel set in Avatar universe by Asian-American author]

-Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz and [Nonfiction + Biography of a diverse group of American women]

Always Be You by RoAnna Sylver [short story set in the Chameleon Moon’s world + Ace and Nonbinary MC]

They Call Me Güero by David Bowles [Middle-Grade + Written in verse + Mexican-American MC]

click title to go to book’s gr page

White Stag by Kara Barbieri. I didn’t like the writing, let’s start with that, so I didn’t connect with the characters or the story. Also, the story deals with sexual assault and torture, which I wished I have seen before starting. Between the writing and the heavy content, it was a struggle. I may come up in another time, but it’s not high on my priorities.

Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh. Ughhh not here for tragic and awful sapphic stories. Plus Clementine is a minor and it’s implied Emma is a couple of years older, so super uncomfortable. As soon as I finished it, I forgot about the story and I’m glad.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. This book was such a disappointment. I picked up because it’s about a Turkish-American girl with depression. And although the book stars pretty great (pointing out many misconceptions about mental illness), it changes its message towards the last 20% of the story. It’s so frustrating. Sure, I didn’t finish the book and things could have turned out different, but yeah, I didn’t have the patience to find out.


 Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite January books? What are you reading now?

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