Fall in love with a Maya Death God in Gods of Jade and Shadow

Do you love reading about baddies in lit? We all know I do! What about reading about death gods? Mayan mythology? Road trips? 1920s Mexico? Then Gods of Jade and Shadow is probably the book for you!

Gods of Jade and Shadow is an adult fantasy novel set during the Jazz Age and in Mexico. Author of Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia pens a fantastical adult fantasy story about revenge, love, and redemption.

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We Set the dark on fire is Brilliant, Incredible, Amazing, Show stopping, and Unique


I loved this book!

           

I try to stay away from dystopian novels for the most part because the plot in those books make me put on my tin foil hat, and there is only so much time in the day to follow a conspiracy trail through the internet.

           However, We Set the Dark on Fire gave me a different kind of chill. The story follows Daniela Vega a recently graduated student of the Medio school for girls, in which young women learn to take on the role of the Primera or Segunda wife of their husband. Medio society practices polygamy in honor of their Sun God who married the Princess and the Moon Goddess. According to legend, the Sun God respected both of his wives and treated them equally although their titles of Primera, first, and Segunda, second, suggest a hierarchy the women are not in competition with each other.

            Daniela is married off to Mateo Garcia, the son of the head of Medio’s military, and is poised to be the first wife of the Medio’s future president. Mateo’s second wife is none other than Carmen Santos, Daniela’s archnemesis.

“Finally, they had to part, but they didn’t go far, rain slicked foreheads pressed together, strands of storm-tossed hair twisting around each other’s as they smiled and breathed and let the world seep slowly back in”

           

Medio is on the brink of a rebellion. For years those living in border towns and the other side of the island have been mistreated. Their place in Medio society is very low. As a result, the rebellion group, La Voz has risen to fight against a government that oppresses them.

            On the eve of Daniela’s graduation, La Voz attacks her school and makes contact with Daniela. Daniela was born on the other side of the Medio border and immigrating with her family to a border town. Later on Daniela’s parents bought her forged documents. Without Daniela’s forged documents, she would have never been considered to attend such a prestigious school. La Voz uses this to blackmail Daniela into becoming one of their spies. As events in the novel progress, Daniela starts to feel less guilty about betraying her country.

The plot of this novel is already very interesting, but the caramelo on top was the romantic subplot. After Daniela and Carmen marry Matteo, they go from enemies to friends to lovers. This is my all-time favorite trope, and it is well written in We Set the Dark on Fire. And by well written I mean there is angst and a slow burn romance.

“Their lips met like swords sometimes do, clashing and impatient and bent on destruction”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I think the reason I ended up enjoying this novel so much, aside from the romance, was that the author embedded real issues that the Latinx community struggles with. The pain of bordering crossing, uprising against crooked governments, the prejudice of coming from the wrong side of a border, the guilt of having to succeed because if you don’t your parents struggle is wasted. I am glad these themes came up in this novel and were brought into the struggle of this fictional world. It made the characters and the experiences that much more real.

This is the second to last book on my Latinx tbr and soon I will be reading Yesika Salgado’s Corazon. I cannot wait.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

Bruja Born

Art of Frida by Spooksieboo on IG https://www.instagram.com/spooksieboo/

Bruja Born is the second installment of the Brooklyn Brujas series.

The series follows the Mortiz family, a family of three sisters and their mother. During the first book of the series, Labyrinth Lost middle sister, Alex, struggles to come to terms with her identity as a bruja and on her death day she cast a spell that accidentally sends her whole family to the underworld. Alex and Nova, another brujo, both travel to the underworld to free her family.

Bruja Born is Lula’s story and it begins with Lula trying to readjust after living in the underworld. Lula is struggling, and she becomes even more stressed when her boyfriend, Maks unexpectedly breaks up with her right before his soccer game. On the bus ride over to his game, the group of soccer player and cheerleader are involved in a tragic accident that kills everyone on board. Lula survives because her family combines their powers to heal her while she’s in the hospital. Lula is heartbroken to learn that Maks is in a coma and healing him might end up doing more harm than good, but Lula convinces her sisters to help her bring him back to life but upsetting the balance of nature comes with huge consequences. Lula ends up pissing off Death herself.


The monsters, the monsters, they crawl in the night. The monsters, the monsters, they hide in plain sight.


Lula’s inability to let go of her relationship to Maks is one of the main plot points of this book. Although, Maks clearly ended things with her the night of the accident. After he is brought back to life, both of them act as if nothing happened and go back to somewhat being in a relationship.

Maybe I am overanalyzing this a bit too much, considering Maks, conveniently does not remember the accident but I thought it was odd that he would not remember what happened before the accident.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Bruja born is that Death is a woman, which is rare in pop culture and other stories that make Death into a character. This depiction of death reminded me of the Earth mother goddess from Aztec mythology, Coatlicue, as she is also the deity of life and death. Although physically, the two goddesses look nothing alike, I believe they are both meant to be unnerving. La Muerte is not a kind diety she is mostly angry at Lula throughout this book, rightfully so, but towards the end of the novel, La Muerte ends up helping Lula. Which made me a little less of afraid of her.

Hooray, Nova gets a redemption arc! I won’t spoil what he did in Labyrinth lost but homeboy really had a lot of atoning to do. I’m curious to see how his story evolves in the next book.

Something I found a bit off about this sequel was the introduction of other supernatural creatures. I need to refresh my memory of Labyrinth lost because I don’t remember the sisters ever mentioning the existence of other supernatural creatures.

Additionally, Lula gets another love interest, but his introduction is very brief that I forgot he existed. When Rhett is introduced again and positioned to be the love interest I felt thrown off. The two have one scene together in which they decide to kind of flirt before jumping back into the action. It was a very fast enemy to friends’ transition and I personally did not feel the chemistry between the two. Maybe I’ll see it more in the next book.

I really love that that the Mortiz sisters are proud of their roots and won’t let anyone disrespect them by calling them witches because they are brujas.

When you think witch, you think Hogwarts or some other European tradition of witchcraft. One of the main reasons I enjoy this series is that Cordova blends different religions and traditions from different Latinx cultures to create this world. I am here for this kind of representation! Truthfully, the Mortiz sisters are not witches because their world revolves around the traditions and legacies of Latinx cultures.

I give Bruja Born 4 Stars because it’s awesome. Definitely a good read for Latinx heritage month.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

All the reason to read “Don’t Date Rosa Santos”

A sleepy beach town, a love interest who can bake, chismoso viejietos, Don’t Date Rosa Santos has it all.


Don’t Date Rosa Santos is my favorite book this year!

Rosa Santos lives in the small seaside town of Port Coral, Florida. The town is very reminiscent of Star Hallows with its array of supporting characters and yearly festivals. What mainly sets this book apart from other books set in small towns is that the majority of the characters of Port Coral are of Latin American descent. Because of the unique cast of characters, readers are immersed in a world of guayaba pastelitos and characters who code-switch between English and Spanish.

Rosa is a high school senior with dual enrollment at a community college, which allows her to take her classes online and earn college credit. Rosa is in the middle of finalizing her enrollment to the University of Charleston when she learns that the town may have to cancel their annual Spring festival and sell the Marina. Rosa convinces the town to rebrand its spring festival as a fundraiser. This puts Rosa in the path of Alex Aquino, a new cutie in town. Alex assists Rosa with the fundraiser, but despite her crush, Rosa tries to keep Alex at a distance because of her family’s curse. All the men in Rosa’s family have tragically died because of the sea, and since Alex is a sailor himself, Rosa wants to keep him safe.

“The height difference is very tol and smol. You could climb him or something.”

Don’t Date Rosa Santos pg. 137

Rosa also struggles with her own identity in this novel. Her grandmother, her main caretaker, refuses to talk about Cuba, the country she was forced to flee. Rosa is curious about her roots, so she signs up for a study abroad trip to Cuba through Charleston, the only problem is, Rosa does not know how to tell her grandmother.

As mentioned earlier, the Santos family is cursed. Rosa’s pregnant grandmother, Milagros (Mimi), leaves Cuba with her husband in a small boat he constructed, but while navigating the dangerous waters, he drowns. Mimi gives birth to Rosa’s mother, and together the two of them make a home for themselves in Port Coral. In Port Coral, Mimi keeps herself occupied by being the town’s curandera or a healer.

Rosa’s father was a sailor, who owned a boat at the Port Coral Marina, however when Rosa’s mother is pregnant, her father goes missing at sea. Rosa is born without knowing her father or grandfather. Rosa’s mother is an artist who travels all over the U.S painting murals, but when Rosa turns 9, her mother decides to permanently leave her with her grandmother. Unlike Mimi, who deals with her trauma by healing others, Rosa’s mother’s solution to her trauma is to keep moving, only staying in Port Corral as long as necessary.

The Santos family curse is more of an inherited trauma passed down through the generations. The citizens of Port Coral know that Rosa should never go near the ocean, and when Rosa develops a friendship with Alex, the viejitos begin to gossip about them because he is a sailor.

I wish I could have a concrete answer on whether this curse ends up effecting Rosa’s life, but the story ends before I could find out. The story concludes on a hopeful note, and I believe the Santos women are working to heal from their trauma.

Besides the small-town vibe of Port Coral, this book also has a lovely description of food. I was very much craving a Cuban pastelito throughout various points in the novel. I might just have to make a trip to the local Cuban bakery. If you have not had the pleasure of trying a guava pastelito or Cuban food, in general, I highly recommend you try it. It’s delicious.

“Mrs. Peña delivered a shrimp ceviche served alongside plátano chips still warm from the fryer and crispy chicharrones”

“She left, and I spooned a mountain of ceviche onto a plátano and shoved it in my mouth. The lime and salt sang together in a concert.”

Don’t Date Rosa Santos is a great book to binge read. The plot is interesting, but so are the different characters. If you want a good read for Latinx Heritage Month, Don’t Date Rosa Santos is the perfect book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby