An Insanely Cute Fall Read

Witches and vampires dating? Read it. Witches and demons dating also read that. But witches and werewolves, nope never.

When I saw the cover to Mooncakes, I immediately knew I needed to read it this fall.


Mooncakes is a graphic novel written by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu and came out this October. Nova Hoang is a witch who works at her grandmothers’ magic bookstore assisting customers with that day to day spell work. Nova also helps in solve supernatural happenings in her small town so when she hears about a giant white wolf in the woods Nova decides to investigate. However, when Nova comes face to face with the wolf, she realizes the wolf is none other than her old crush Tam Lang.

“My mother met Einstein, you know. Horribly limited man.”

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne walker

Tam confesses to Nova that while coming back into town, they spotted a horse demon in the woods. Nova agrees to help Tam, but they soon discover that Tam is the only one who can stop the demon by using their werewolf magic. While all this is going on, Nova and Tam decide to pick up where they left off and start dating.


I loved so many things about this book, but here are just a few of them. Nova is hard of hearing, and her blue hearing aids are visible in every panel she appears in. I loved that Nova’s disability remained visible throughout this novel. I returned to previous panels to search for them, and they were always there. My ignorance made me appreciate the visibility of Nova’s disability throughout this book, and it also made me pay closer attention to the artwork and not get swept up in the story.

” A white wolf?”

“Hugh! Like Jon Snow’s. Mrs. Crawford said it came right at her.”

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

I loved that Mooncakes included LGBTQ+ characters. Tam Lang, the love interest, uses they/them pronouns and is a super cool white werewolf. Additionally, I was surprised to learn that Nova has two nanas. All the descriptions of this book I had previously read stated that Nova works at her grandmother’s bookshop, which is technically true, but Nova having two grandmothers is an extra special detail that you do not discover until you read Mooncakes.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that readers pay attention to the background artwork during scenes because there are lots of cute Easter eggs. In particular, popular YA novels are visible behind Nova in the bookshop. This is super cool, considering Wendy Xu is a curator of YA and children’s books.

I do not have many negative points about this novel, but for the sake of this review, I decided to neat pick some details of this story. One thing I could never figure out was Nova’s age. This story takes place during the fall season, and considering that Nova never goes to school, I assumed she was 18 or older. Nova also mentions becoming best friends with Tatyana in high school, and the use of past tense suggests that both of them are older than high school age. Lastly, what happened to Terry? Will we ever know the answer to that mystery?

Mooncakes is up there with Don’t Date Rosa Santos as one of my favorite books this year. Mooncakes is the first graphic novel I have ever read, and I loved the way that the artwork flows with the story. I think I may need to add more graphic novels and even manga to my tbr list based on the artwork alone.

Until my next review continue living in libros,

Gaby

November TBR

Happy November! My favorite holidays in November, include Dia De Los Muertos and Thanksgiving. This year, I do not have a Dia De Los Muertos book on my reading list. But if you need one, may I recommend A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano.

I also happen to have a Dia De Los Muertos here on my blog and Wattpad titled Limon y Sal. And if you feel like listening to music I love this spotify playlist.

For November, I will be focusing on finishing Mooncakes and Ninth House, two books I did not get to read in October.

Mooncakes and Ninth House.

Mooncakes is a graphic novel all about Nova Hoang, a young woman who works at her grandmother’s bookshop. Nova assists clients with spells and supernatural investigations, but one case leads Nova to her childhood crush, Tam Lang. Tam is a werewolf on the run, and when the two meet again, old feelings spark.

Ninth House is a mystery novel with a supernatural element, and I have been told a morally grey narrator.

Books that I really want to read for November are Eclipse and Spider’s Bite.

Eclipse is the 3rd installment of the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer, and If you have been following my blog for a while, then you know that I am slowly rereading the series with fresh adult eyes and experiences. Eclipse is my favorite novel in the series, and I cannot wait to read it all over again.

Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep is the first novel of the Elemental Assassin’s series. Spider’s bite is a fantasy and mystery novel with a touch magic. Gin Blanco is an assassin with some supernatural powers who works at the Pork Pitt. While out on a job, Gin walks into a trap and is framed for a messy murder. Now Gin is out for revenge on the person who double-crossed her and killed her handler.

These are my reading plans for November, but I also want to do some writing in November as well. So I guess that means I am joining in on NanoWrite month. Although I have yet to finish writing an entire novel during November, I will be super happy if I finish a few chapters of my work in progress. Wish me, luck friends.

October Review

Remember when I made my October reading list a thick stack of Spooky literature? I had Cute Spooky books such as Babysitters Coven and Mooncakes, to Nostalgic Spooky with Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel, to Mystery Spooks with Wicked Fox and Ninth House. I knew my October TBR was ambitious, but after completing my Latinx heritage month reading binge, I felt extra powerful.

Apollo cosplaying as a ghost

I started October by reading Permanent Record, a book that was not on my spooks list. However, Permanent Record decided that it was the book that I needed to start my October by arriving early at the library. Since Permanent Record arrived at the library during the first week of October, I simply could not refuse adding it to my pile.

I enjoyed the book, but it was not getting into the spooky spirit. In fact, Permanent Record had more of a winter in February feel.

Next, I decided to jump on the nostalgia boat and pick up Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel. I saw this title all over Instagram last year, and although the reviews for it were not that great, my stubborn heart wanted to know more about Max and Alison. My fave couple turned out just fine, Alison as a lawyer and Max as a history teacher, oh, and they have a daughter named Poppy. However, my curiosity about Alison and Max could not keep me entertained throughout the book.

Hocus Pocus is a movie that premiered in the 90s and stars famous babes, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker. Freeform is streaming Hocus Pocus every day in October for this year’s 31 Nights of Halloween. Given all these factors, I felt that the 200-page novelization of the movie was unnecessary. Although the novelization of the movie would guide new readers through the cult classic, a recap would have been quicker.

I considered myself a Hocus Pocus expert because I grew up watching this movie so, I decided to skip this whole section. Once I moved onto The All New Sequel, I realized I made a mistake because the characters bring up the legend of Elizabeth Sanderson. Someone who is not in the movie at all, but was added to this story for the sequel.

I flipped back to the beginning to find out who Elizabeth was and then returned to the present-day chapters. I was hoping to settle into the sequel with this additional information, but I could not. Poppy was bland and uninteresting her hobbies, included photography and a crush on her best friend. Once the story kicks off, Poppy and her friends sneak into the Sanderson Sister Cottage and summon the Sisters which results in horrible consequences very much like the original movie. But in order for the sisters to anchor themselves to this realm, they must trade their places in hell with Max, Alison, and Dani. At this point in the story, I was bored. I didn’t care about these characters anymore and I began my next read.

My next book was The Babysitters Coven, one of my most anticipated reads. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read any future sequels. Check out my review here.

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The Fourth book I read for October was Wicked Fox, and I found this book to be more interesting. I loved the reading about the mythology of the Gumiho and the way the author used Korean words in the dialogue. However, this book is heavy on the teen angst, and towards the end, I was tired of it. You can read my full review here.

Although I did not read as many books as I did in September, I still managed to get into the spooky spirit.

I got to visit the Freeform Halloween House

And a pumpkin patch

Besides these spooky activities I also got to hang out with my friends from university for the first time since graduation.

How was your October? Did you read anything good or enjoy a fun fall activity?

Until my next review continue living in libros,

Gaby

Teen Angst and a Nine Tailed Fox

Wicked Fox is the last book I read in October, and it wasn’t all I hoped it would be. This story is particularly unique as it features a Gumiho. A Gumiho is a fox with nine tails that can turn into a beautiful woman to lure their prey. Gumihos are believed to seduce men in order to feed off their energy. Sound familiar? A Gumiho is the Korean name for this legend, but other names include Kitsune and Huli jing. Although the legends vary from culture to culture, Wicked Fox is the story of Miyoung, a Korean teen living in Seoul, South Korea.

The story begins by introducing both Miyoung, a Gumiho teen, and Jihoon, a human teen, in alternating POVs. Miyoung is out on a full moon hunting a man to sustain herself while Jihoon is out walking his dog the two collide paths when Jihoon confronts a goblin. Miyoung saves Jihoon but in the process reveals her nine tails to him. Soon after this incident, Miyoung becomes the new girl at Jihoon’s school, and she ignores all of Jihoon’s attempts to befriend her. Overtime, Jihoon wears Miyoung down, and the two become friends and start dating.

Jihoon glanced up and met Miyoung’s eyes with his, giving her a wide grin. He had a kimchi stuck in his teeth. And she hated that it made his goofy smile even more endearing.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

However, the bubble shatters two hundred pages in when a Shaman ritual goes wrong, and through a sequence of tragic events, Jihoon ends up with Miyong’s fox bead, leaving Miyoung to slowly starve. Miyoung feels like she has no other choice but to leave Jihoon as her mother attempts to find a way for Miyoung to live without her bead.

The story concludes with Miyoung and Jihoon fixing their mistakes and living happily ever after, or so I thought until I flipped the page to the Epilogue, which leaves the novel off on a cliff hanger!

I found myself struggling to get through the first part of this book because I found it to be a little slow. Miyoung, during the first half of this book, does not interact with any other kids at her school, in fact, she tries her hardest to push them away, and it works on all of them except Jihoon and his friends. I got tired of Miyoung constantly pushing Jihoon away because sometimes she was nice to Jihoon while other times she was mean.

However, once everything goes wrong with the Shaman ritual, I found myself engrossed in the book once again until Miyoung decides to leave. The story becomes a bit boring as the two teens have a few more chapters of angst and longing for each other. At this point, I thought to myself what else could happen to these two? Haven’t they suffered enough?


Apparently not! The final chapters of this story provide another wild plot twist, and I was here for it. I wanted this story to end strong, and it did with the last scene. The epilogue reveals that not everything is as it seems, and there is definitely a sequel coming. This frustrated me because I just wanted this story to have a definite conclusion, and the epilogue ruined it. I wish I could say reading the next book will give me the answers I seek, but I am not invested enough in this story to find out what happens next.

I would recommend this book if you love lots of teen angst and stories not set in the U.S.

If you are intrigued by the legend of the Gumiho and don’t mind reading subtitles, I recommend the Kdrama, “My girlfriend is Gumiho.” This Korean drama features a Gumiho, who saves the life of Dae-Woong by giving him her fox bead. Mi-ho decides to stick around, and Dae-Woong makes sure she is happy by frequently treating her to Korean Barbeque. The drama is super cute and the theme song is catchy.

Have a spooky Halloween and continue living in libros,

Gaby

Babysitters coven

Babysitter’s coven was one of my most anticipated reads this Halloween season. Not only is the cover gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing, I mean, who wouldn’t want to DIY their jean jacket after seeing this cover?

Esme is the voice of The Babysitter’s coven, and she is an anti-social 17-year-old, who runs a babysitting club with her friend Janice. Esme’s club does not have any members besides her and Janice, so the two besties mostly hangout during their meetings and split up babysitting jobs. Esme’s life is normal until she somehow makes a ball move with her mind during gym class.

The plot thickens when new girl, Cassandra Heaven, becomes adamant about joining the babysitter’s club. Esme assumes Cassandra may need some extra cash, so she allows her to join. However, Cassandra’s first babysitting job reveals she has no experience in childcare and she is forced to reveal her true intentions for joining the club.

Before Cassandra’s mother passed, she left her daughter a note stating that she must find the babysitters. Cassandra assumed the babysitters could help her explain why she can start fires with her mind, but when Esme acts oblivious. Cassandra forces Esme to come to terms with her own powers. The two super teens quickly become friends as they try to figure out the meaning behind the note.

Both girls are sitters, special people with superpowers that have been destined to protect the world from evil. So, when children start to report seeing monsters coming into their rooms, the sitters must save the kids and defeat the demons all before the parents can get home.

Esme is witty, funny, and a fashionista! I love it when characters have a vast knowledge of pop culture. Additionally, her dog, Pig, is awesome and deserves all the belly rubs. Can Pig become an honorary Salem Saberhagen? Anyways, Esme is a fashion icon, she buys most of her clothes from the thrift store and is very creative with her outfits. Every morning before school, she texts Janice her outfit inspiration for the day, which can range from pop culture references to random moods.

Cassandra is cool, but there are times in the novel in which she allows the power to get to her head and uses her new abilities to benefit her life. As a result Esme has a little power high trip as well.

I understand why Cassandra chose to use her power selfishly as she has lived a hard life. However, Cassandra’s actions are never addressed in this novel, which leads me to believe that it will become a plot point in a future sequel.

The supporting characters in this novel are all very interesting. As mentioned previously, Janice is Esme’s best friend and a fashionista, but she disappears towards the middle of the novel. Instead, Cassandra takes over as Esme’s main friend. I know that Cassandra is essential to the plot, but I wished that Janice did not have to disappear because I wanted to learn more about Janice. Another major supporting character is Brian, the football coach, who is essentially the sitter’s watcher, if you speak Buffy. I found Brian to be boring, but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of football and this man was obsessed with the sport. I wanted to know more about his previous job as a sitter’s mentor.

Dion is the last supporting character I wanted to discuss because he is Esme’s love interest. Dionysus, or Dion as he nicknamed in this story, is Cassandra’s older brother and her legal guardian. According to Esme, Dion is super handsome, Greek god handsome (HA!), so of course, Esme goes heart eyes for him. However, the two lacked some chemistry, so I wonder if Esme will have another love interest in the future, I have a theory it might be Cassandra, but if that’s the case, where does that leave Dion’s character?

The Babysitter’s Coven does not end in a cliff hanger, but it does end in a way that makes it clear that this book is just the beginning of a series, the ending is satisfying, nevertheless.

I want more answers about the sitters, and I want to know what happens next with Esme, Cassandra, and friends.

If you were wondering about picking up this book for spooky season, do it!

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

Check out the Freeform Halloween House with me

Today I am taking a break from reviewing books to bring my lovely readers on a Spooktacular trip. This year I decided to start off October with a trip to Freeform’s Halloween House.

Practicing the poses I learned on YouTube

This year’s Halloween House was hosted at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in Hollywood. I will admit my cousin and I got a little lost looking for the entrance to the Halloween house but after teaming up with two other lost souls we managed to find the correct entrance.

After checking into the Halloween House and receiving a high tech wristband, guests are invited into a big foggy room to spin a wheel and enter for a chance to win an assortment of prizes, I won some butterfingers. Besides the cool spin wheel there was another mini game for another chance at prizes, I won more butterfingers there too.

After the mini games I was greeted with a huge line for a scream photo op. What was this scream photo op, I wondered? Was the Scream character going to pop up and spook me? I had to find out. Before entering the Scream line, I spotted this lovely library that gave me all kinds of ideas for decorating my own bookcase.

As for the Scream photo? Here it is. The booth wasn’t to scary but the phone starting ringing as soon as we sat down and I, a weenie hut jr, passed the phone to my cousin. The Scream dude did not greet us with a Wazz Up, sadly, but instead said something spooky and the lights in the booth went out. There was a big mirror in front of us and this is the exact face I made at the cool movie magic that made Scream emerge behind me. This ended up being one of my favorite pictures of the night.

After leaving the Scream booth, I entered a forest just like the one Jack Skellington enters when he discovers there are more holidays besides Halloween. The trees were complete with all the holidays such as Valentine’s day, Christmas, and Easter.

I wonder how Jack would feel about Dia de los Muertos?

So, what was behind the holiday forest? A Cemetery of course! The Cemetery had lots of headstones from tons of classic movies such as Toy story, Scooby Doo, Addams Family, and more. The headstones had some funny descriptions of how all the character’s die.

Here at the cemetery you could recreate the most iconic scene from the Nightmare before Christmas and dress like Sally and Jack.

I opted out of the costume, but the picture still looked great.

After leaving the cemetery, I entered another iconic movie cemetery, this time from Hocus Pocus. The Hocus Pocus portion of this event was massive! There were so many opportunities to recreate scenes from the movie. Here are just a few of mine.

After leaving fictional Salem, I climbed up some stairs and had to choose between three rooms: Addams family, Oogie Boggie’s gambling den, and the treehouse of horror. I decided to see what the Addams family room had in store first.

I skipped on the photo op for this room, but they had angel wings and cape props for you to wear.

Addams family room

The line for Oogie boogie’s gambling hall was huge! The line almost went into the Addam’s family room. An attendant nearby suggested we take our photos at the treehouse horror first and pop into the other line as that would make the wait shorter.

The Treehouse horror Photo

And here is me attempting to jump the line and slide into Oogie’s lair undetected.

Finally, at Oogie’s lair guests were given another opportunity to spin a giant wheel for tricks or treats. My prima spun treat and ended up taking home a Zen coloring book of Nightmare before Christmas characters, I spun trick and left with a mummy finger puppet, which I lost during the car ride home. The other game in Oogie’s liar involved rolling big dice for the chance to win more prizes. What was that prize? Beats me, I ended up winning a plastic spider.

After Oogie’s liar I was ready to head home and eat some pizza before bed.

I am not one for big spooks during Halloween season, and I have yet to visit Mickey’s Halloween Party, so the freeform Halloween house was just right for me. What I liked about this Halloween House were all the props you could wear for your photos. I thought it was interactive to be able to dress like these characters for your photos. There are professional cameras at all the photo ops stations and with a scan of the high tech wristband given upon entry, photos are sent to your email. That was very cool! I think the Halloween House is worth adding to your list of fall activities if you’re tired of pumpkin patches.

Tickets for this year’s house were $27 and children under 13 were not allowed entry. I’m not sure about the age restriction as there was not anything overly scary.

Have a Spooky Halloween,

Gaby

Yes his name really is Pablo Neruda

I’m starting October with a not very spooky read, Permanent Record, as I’m currently waiting for my spooky reads to come in at the library. Permanent Record is Mary H.K. Choi’s second novel and as a big fan of Emergency Contact, I was very excited about this book.


Pablo Neruda Rind is a college dropout, confused at life, 20-year-old bodega cashier in Brooklyn, and in credit card debt. Pablo spends most of his nights as a cashier making up stories about his regular customers as entertainment when one day, a very eccentrically dressed woman walks into the store and hands Pablo her credit card. This is when Pablo realizes that this woman is Leanna Smart, an ex-Disney star, turned pop singer. Pablo is captivated by her personality and never expects to see her again after their one-night ice cream sharing snack session. However, a few weeks later, Leanna pops up back into the store, and this time Pablo asks her out. The two begin a very secret romance that is limited to texting, face time, and short phone calls. However, when Pablo is not with Leanna, he’s busy dodging his debt collectors and swerving his mother’s “what do you want in life talks.” The more that Pablo entangles himself with Leanna’s life, the more he neglects his own. But, once Pablo starts to notice just how different Leanna’s life is, he starts to find it harder to ignore what is really going on with him.

I don’t care what any of the assholes I live with tell you. I don’t work at a bodega. It’s a health food store.

Mary H.K. Choi Permanent Record

This book is told through Pablo’s point a view, as a half Korean, half Pakistani twenty-year-old New Yorker. There is a lot of diversity in this book. Almost all the characters are people of color, Pablo’s roommates, his boss, coworkers, school staff, Leanna herself is half Mexican, and one of the handfuls of characters that can speak another language. I loved this aspect of the book because there are many novels set in New York that do not make people of color visible, which I feel is ignorant considering New York’s history of immigration.

Pablo’s parents are both college-educated, his father was born in New Jersey and studied engineering while his mother migrated to the U.S at age nine and studied medicine, so this makes Pablo feel a bit inadequate but not enough to push himself into reapplying to college. College was one of the main topics of this book. Pablo either had friends who graduated or dropped out, Leanna herself wished she could attend college too. Pablo does not know what he wants to study or what he wants to do with his own life, but his goal for most of the book is to get back into NYU as if attending would give him direction in his life. I have very often heard people give the advice, “don’t worry you’ll figure it out” in college, which could be the case for some people but not everyone. I think Pablo was right in holding off on college until he figured himself out. One thing I noticed that is the same from Emergency contact is Choi writing style which includes the character oversharing every small detail and runaway thought. I enjoyed that kind of extra-ness but I don’t think it’s for everyone.

“Pablo Neruda’s my first name.”

“The poet?”

“Yeah,” I say.

“Jesus. That’s emo.”

Mary h.k. Choi permanent record

Choi makes it clear that Leanna is very busy, either touring, taking business meetings, or at meet and greets, but sometimes she only gives Pablo half her attention. Choi makes it clear that Leanna is very busy, either touring, taking business meetings, or at meet and greets, but sometimes she only gives Pablo half her attention. This was a big point made when Pablo is in Korea and, instead of telling him that she’s taking a business meeting in China, Leanna lets Pablo believe that she’s still in Korea and that she could show him Seoul, a place he always wanted to visit. When Leanna finally gets back in Korea, she apologizes to Pablo and gives him her apology but continues to text on her phone that was really when I was done with her. She hardly gets to see her boyfriend, and when she’s finally with him, she decides not to give him her full attention. This was when I started to realize that Leanna wants a boyfriend that can conform to her schedule, or else it would never work out. That’s asking a lot for anyone.

Additionally, when Leanna and Pablo are caught by the paparazzi, Leanna refuses to explain to Pablo what “it’s taken care of” means as if it’s a dirty secret. An explanation would have taken two seconds, Leanna later accuses Pablo of wanting to benefit from her fame. Like really, girl? I’m pretty sure it was made clear that he does not want that, or your money when he turned down that expensive coat, she tried to buy him.

Lastly, I feel like I never got to know Leanna at all. Who was her father? Does she still speak to her mother? What was it like to be emancipated at 15 at then be managed by another teenager? Why Pablo? Pablo acted like he knew a lot about her but maybe he only thought he did.

One thing that I wanted to be addressed was why Leanna chose to use the name Leanna Smart instead of her real name as Carolina Suarez. I think this point would have added to the other Hollywood/ media racism that was brought up by Tice’s tv role. And maybe it could have added a little more insight into Leanna’s character.

The following sentence is going to spoil the ending, so just skip this whole paragraph if you have to. I only like to read books with a happy ending, because I need some fluff and happiness in my life, and I like to see the characters happy. But this book does not give us that, and I was really glad it did not. Leanna and Pablo were not a good fit at this moment in their lives, and although they would have made a great couple, I think they were better apart.

My rating for this book

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

Latinx TBR Wrap-Up

As Latinx heritage month comes to a close I thought I would share my thoughts on the books I have read for this month.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos has a special place in my heart. I really loved this book because of it’s small town setting. Because Rosa grows up in Port Corral she knows everyone in town and is a very helpful neighbor. The small town in this book reminded me of Star Hallows and I hope to someday find a small town like this. Additionally, the fact that the love interest Alex is both a sailor and a baker made me just as happy.

We Set the Dark on Fire is a book that I didn’t know I needed into my life until I read it. A dystopian, romance and spy narrative, We Set the Dark on Fire is all of these things. I really loved this because the main character Dani is such a bad bitch! Dani really tries to follow the rules of her society but when her husband decides he rather have a trophy wife and not an equal it really pushes Dani to turn against him. I really can’t wait to see what the next book has to offer.

Bruja Born is a book that I began reading at the beginning of the year was able to finish. Jumping back into this book was not difficult I love the world that Cordova has created and I will definitely read more of her books in the future.

Isabel Allende writing is beautiful and captivating. I loved the Trueba women in the house of the spirits especially Clara and her unknown dog/wolf/ mythical being hybrid Barrabas. That being said The House of the Spirits was not the book for me I really wanted to love this book and maybe I would have if Esteban wasn’t so much of a caca head.

Corazón was a book that felt like coming home. I loved Salgado’s descriptive writing and the little anecdotes of her daily life that she turns into poetry. I love the way that Yesika chose to share her corner of Los Angles with nostalgia and to what it is today.


After spending a whole month reading nothing but books written by Latinx authors I noticed that the border was a common theme between all these books. Even though Bruja Born and and We set the Dark on Fire are both fantasy novel there was still this presence of a border.

Although the border theme in Bruja Born is not presence in a way that one would conventional think. I argue that it is still very much presence. The supernatural creatures in this novel must not reveal themselves to humans, instead the brujas practice in secret. In this sense the Mortiz sister split themselves away from what they are as brujas in order to not draw attention to themselves. On top of that, the Mortiz family is latinx and also experience the struggles as people of color.

We Set the Dark Fire interweaves the border narrative into the novel with characters who have had to cross a border into Medio for better opportunities. However, during this crossing one of the characters witnessing something extremely traumatic while the other character remembers her own crossing and they both bond over it.

Rosa Santos lives with the small snippets that her grandmother has shared with her of Cuba and as she enters adulthood she dreams of one day visiting the Island that caused so much joy and sorrow for her family.

When a dictator takes control in Chile, Blanca and Pedro flee the country because it is no longer safe for Pedro, a communist sympathizer, to live there. Additionally, Alba is also given the opportunity to flee her country she decides to stay even though she is in danger as well.

Lastly, Salgado’s Corazón yearns for a El Salvador from her memories and a Silverlake before it was gentrified. Salgado remembers eating mangos in El Salvador and later eating them with her lover this common link between both countries is not coincidental. I believe Salgado links them together to highlight the longing for El Salvador.


This border theme is saddening and highlights that border trauma is something that runs through generations. After discovering this link between the novels I was reminded of Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands. In this book, Anzaldua offers many great points that resonated with me but the one quote that has stuck with me is as follows:

“The U.S-Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country — a border culture.”

Gloria Anzaldúa Borderlands/ La frontera: The New Mestiza

Have you noticed this theme or other themes during Latinx heritage month? If so leave your thoughts below in the comments I would love to read them.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

Corazón

I have been following Yesika Salgado since the release of Corazón. I loved Yesika’s personality and the small snippets of poems she shared on her Instagram, convinced me that I needed to add this book to my list. A few years pass, I find copies of Corazón at my college bookstore and contemplate buying a copy. I decide not to. Yesika releases Tesoro in 2018 and Hermosa this year.

Finally, I decide to purchase Corazón after catching a sale in September. And I wish I had read it while I was in college and yearning for Latinx voices in literature.

Corazón contains a collection of love poems ranging from ex-lovers, family, loss, El Salvador, and Yesika’s life in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silverlake. But most importantly, Corazón explores Yesika’s life as a fat, brown, Salvadorean, poet. Yesika provides a very unique and much-needed voice to poetry.

The majority of Corazón’s poems deal with ex-lovers ranging from fuck boys to happy and hard moments in relationships. However, Corazón did not speak to me on the romantic level.

I have never had to heal from a breakup, nor have I spent nights missing an ex, however, the nostalgic elements of Corazón, touched my heart. These moments include drinking café con conchas, watching parents carefully slice thorns off of nopales, and even picking Mangos at a grandparent’s house. These are all moments I have of my childhood. Although Yesika’s memories are of Salvador, and mine is of Mexico, I think this resemblance in our lives is pretty cool. 

One of the reasons I loved Corazón, was that Yesika has a way of capturing moments that make you feel like you lived through them too.

By dividing Corazón into different sections, poems follow Yesika’s path to heal herself. In this sense Corazón is very similar to Rupi Kaur’s, “Milk and Honey” and for fans of that collection I would recommend Corazón.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

The Bride Test


The spin off to Helen Hoang’s “The Kiss Quotient” tells the story of Khai, Michael’s cousin, who has autism and has never had a girlfriend.

Khai’s everyday routine is to eat a protein bar for breakfast, run to his office, and keep his garden unkempt to annoy his neighbor. Khai likes his life but his Mom thinks Khai is lonely and old enough to be married, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Khai’s mother, Co, fly’s to Vietnam and makes a deal with My Ngoc Tran, who later changes her name to Esme, one summer in California to fall in love with her son. If the two are incompatible Esme is free to fly home, but Co knows they will work.

Khai aimed a disapproving look at her shoes

“You’re better off walking barefoot than wearing those.”

But they’re useful. It’s like having a shoe and a knife.

Helen Hoang

I was a little hesitant to read this book because how often do you hear the story of someone from aboard coming to the U.S to marry an American in order to secure residency status? Often. It feels icky to reduce the immigrant experience to this and because this same story was the main plot point for this novel I was unsure. Although, after reading the Kiss Quotient I had a change of heart. I love Hoang’s writing style and I was eager to read Khai’s story.

Esme may come to the U.S with the intention to gain a residency status but that changes when she falls in love with Khai. Additionally, Esme has a love for learning and enrolls into night school to get a GED. Soon Esme begins to see a future where she can gain temporary residency as a student. By adding Esme’s ambition to her character Hoang adds this layer to the immigrant experience that is often disregarded and ignored. That there is more to someone than people think.

What I really enjoyed about this story was that complexity of both characters. Khai convinced himself a long time ago that he is unable to love someone however, he is willing to marry Esme so that she can gain citizenship if that is what she truly desires. In reality, Khai is secretly in love with her, he just has not admitted it to himself. On the other hand, Esme is driven by the desire to go to University because some colleges will pay for international student’s family members to come to the U.S and Esme really wants to get her family out of poverty.

One of my favorite scenes in this book occurs when Esme visits 99 Ranch market for the first time. Just by visiting this grocery store Esme is reminded of her home. I think this scene is beautiful because it ties together food and culture: it reminds us that places like the grocery store serve as a time capsule of home.

Overall, I give the Bride test 5 stars and would recommend it for fans of romance novels or anyone who is looking for diverse characters in a novel. This book is also spicy and we have a few mature scenes but in my opinion there are way more sex scenes in the Kiss Quotient.

Until next time continue living in Libros,

Gaby