Tag Archives: Latinx

Review: Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey

Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey

Valiant Ladies
Melissa Grey
Feiwel & Friends
Published June 14, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Valiant Ladies

Two teen vigilantes set off on an action-packed investigation to expose corruption and deliver justice in Valiant Ladies, Melissa Grey’s YA historical novel inspired by real seventeenth century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.

By day Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza are proper young seventeenth-century ladies. But when night falls, they trade in their silks and lace for swords and muskets, venturing out into the vibrant, bustling, crime-ridden streets of Potosí in the Spanish Empire’s Viceroyalty of Peru. They pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another.

Then, on the night Kiki’s engagement to the Viceroy’s son is announced, her older brother―heir to her family’s fortune―is murdered. The girls immediately embark on a whirlwind investigation that takes them from the lowliest brothels of Potosí to the highest echelons of the Spanish aristocracy.

My Review

Okay, so the premise completely sold me on reading this book. It pretty much had me at “real seventeenth-century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.” I also really liked THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa Grey, so I was excited to read another book by her.

The cover copy also mentions them taking on the patriarchy, and like, I guess they do fight some individual men. I kept waiting for that to solidify into a larger conspiracy or something. For them to have a more overt victory over a system that oppressed women. I don’t know. Maybe I missed something.

I liked Ana and Kiki’s characters. I felt like the romantic storyline was a little uneven. There was a lot of focus on it at the beginning and then almost no focus on it for a while and then lots of focus on it again. I don’t know if that was supposed to be because Kiki got engaged, and so Ana backed way off, and Kiki repressed her feelings? It wasn’t really clear to me, but maybe I missed some more subtle clues.

Unanswered Questions

There are several places in the story where the girls make choices that really don’t make sense to me. At one point, they go to a brothel looking for a girl who lives there. This is the same place Ana grew up, so the girls are familiar with it. For some reason, they go at night. Guards won’t let them in. They get caught when they break into the girl’s room (which they find completely destroyed). The owner (who raised Ana) asks the girls to leave quietly.

Instead of asking her what happened to the obviously destroyed room and where the girl is, they attack the guards and kill one of them. It just seemed weird to me that it didn’t occur to them to ask the owner what was going on or to assume maybe she hired guards to protect the rest of the girls. At the least, they might want to know why the room was destroyed or what happened.

There are some other places where it felt like maybe some scenes got deleted, and the information in them maybe didn’t make it back into the surviving part of the story if that makes sense? When Kiki’s brother is murdered, for some reason, everyone assumes he died by suicide, but no one really explains why they think this? It was kind of odd. There were other instances where characters made assumptions that didn’t really make sense to me, too. It left me wondering if these were things that had been more obvious to the author but just weren’t as clear to me.

I’m not sure what happened.


On the whole, I love that this book raises awareness about Ana Lezama de Urinza and Dona Eustaquia de Sonza. If you’re interested in knowing more about them, Broads You Should Know has a podcast episode on them.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

All characters are Latinx. The main characters, Anna and Kiki, are attracted to women.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing and attraction between two girls. Ana grew up in a brothel. Both girls are friends with a sex worker.

Spiritual Content
A family seeks to have a loved one buried, but the church refuses since it’s believed that the man died by suicide. References to demonic rituals. Kiki and Ana attend a funeral service at a church.

Violent Content
Situations of peril and battle scenes. Ana and Kiki fight criminals together. A group of men attack Ana. One punches her in the face. They find the body of a murdered young woman. A woman reveals scars that indicate someone tortured her. Men kidnap two women, threatening them.

Ana attacks a man who then sends his accomplices to beat her up. Ana discovers a man’s body hanging from a tree.

Drug Content
Several characters drink alcohol, including Ana. While drunk, she makes some choices she regrets later.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys
Aiden Thomas
Swoon Reads
Published September 1, 2020

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Cemetery Boys

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

My Review

CEMETERY BOYS is another one of the books that’s been on my To Be Read list for a while. I wasn’t able to get a pre-release copy, but I did order a copy when it released. Yay! Recently, a friend gifted me an audiobook version, so I listened to that version and loved it.

I loved Yadriel’s character and especially his friendship with Maritza. I tend to love characters who say the thing that everyone is thinking, even if it’s a hard truth, so Maritza was pretty much guaranteed to be a favorite with me.

It took me a little bit to fall in love with Julian, though. At the beginning of the story, he keeps himself closed off and it takes a while for him to thaw. So I felt braced not to like him, but as he opened up, I found that I loved his strength and loyalty to the people he loves.

I liked the way the story explored Maritza’s veganism and how it impacted her place among her people and her relationship with magic. It brought up some interesting things and was cool to see a vegan represented in a YA story. I haven’t seen that very often.

In terms of the plot, I felt like it moved along at a really good pace. I liked where the story went and the speed at which things unfolded. It definitely kept me reading.

All in all, I enjoyed reading CEMETARY BOYS and I would love to read the next book in the series and/or other books by Aiden Thomas.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Yadriel is Mexican and Cuban American. Julian is Colombian American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. In one scene, a girl comments on the fact that boys are wearing hospital gowns which are open in back and she can see their butts.

Spiritual Content
Yadriel is part of a community of magic wielders who have the ability to heal or interact with spirits of the dead. Those roles are decided by gender and both involve the use of animal blood in order to complete the magic. In a special ceremony at fifteen, boys or girls are welcomed into their new abilities by Lady Death, the goddess who governs their magic. Spirits who linger may at first have the personalities they had in life, but the longer they remain, the more they risk becoming corrupted and turning violent and evil if they’re not released.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. References to murder. Rituals involving the use of blood. In one scene, a character finds a boy with a knife in his chest, slowly bleeding out. One man loses his life to a ritual gone awry.

Drug Content
Yadriel and Julian go to a beach party where kids are drinking alcohol, but they leave after a short while when police break up the gathering.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

Review: We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

We Light Up the Sky
Lilliam Rivera
Bloomsbury YA
Published October 26, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About We Light Up the Sky

Pedro, Luna, and Rafa may attend Fairfax High School together in Los Angeles, but they run in separate spheres. Pedro is often told that he’s “too much” and seeks refuge from his home life in a local drag bar. Luna is pretending to go along with the popular crowd but is still grieving the unexpected passing of her beloved cousin Tasha. Then there’s Rafa, the quiet new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is homeless.

But Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find themselves thrown together when an extraterrestrial visitor lands in their city and takes the form of Luna’s cousin Tasha. As the Visitor causes destruction wherever it goes, the three teens struggle to survive and warn others of what’s coming–because this Visitor is only the first of many. But who is their true enemy–this alien, or their fellow humans? Can Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find a way to save a world that has repeatedly proven it doesn’t want to save them?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Lilliam Rivera examines the days before a War of the Worlds-inspired alien invasion in this captivating and chilling new novel.

In a haunting, genre-bending YA, award-winning author Lilliam Rivera explores the social and racial ramifications of an alien invasion from the perspective of three Latinx teens.

My Review

I read and loved NEVER LOOK BACK, a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice by Lilliam Rivera, so when I saw this new book, I pretty much knew I was going to have to read it.

Sci-fi isn’t my top preferred genre, but I have found that I love a solid contemporary story that incorporates science fiction into the story. I don’t know if that makes a whole lot of sense. I think it’s the difference between reading a romance novel, where the romance IS the story, versus reading a story where the romance is a subplot. The alien encounter is pretty much the focus of this particular story, but it’s also firmly centered around Luna, Rafa, and Pedro’s connections to each other and their individual grief. That part of the story– grief and connections– is what really hooked me.

I loved that the relationships they build with each other aren’t just part of a character arc, but they also play into the final battle of the story. I felt like that elevated the whole story from interesting to compelling.

On the whole, I really liked this book. I haven’t had a lot of reading time lately, so if I didn’t like it, probably it would have sat on my night stand waiting for me. Instead, I found myself grabbing it to read a chapter while I waited in a parking lot or in the few minutes I had before starting dinner. The short chapters and sharply focused narrative made it easy to pick up and put down, and the realistic characters kept me eager to come back for the next chapter.

I think readers who enjoyed WHEN LIGHT LEFT US by Leah Thomas or who like character-driven sci-fi will love this book.

Content Notes for We Light Up the Sky

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Pedro, Luna and Rafa are Latinx. Pedro has dated boys and girls. Rafa develops feelings for a boy.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to sex. Kiss between boy and girl. One boy kisses another on the cheek.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Several scenes show descriptions of violent attacks on people. Some references to police brutality.

Drug Content
References to smoking pot.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of WE LIGHT UP THE SKY in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez

Written in Starlight
Isabel Ibañez
Page Street Kids
Published January 26, 2021

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About Written in Starlight

If the jungle wants you, it will have you…

Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. It’s her duty to reclaim the throne.

When Manuel, the son of her former general, rescues Catalina from a jaguar, a plan forms. Deep in the jungle, the city of gold is hidden, home to the fierce Illari people, who she could strike an alliance with.

But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own—a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. As a seer, Catalina should be able to help, but her ability to read the future in the stars is as feeble as her survival instincts. While searching for the Illari, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which could be the key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.

An adventerous South American Tomb Raider! This hotly anticipated companion to Woven in Moonlight follows an outcast Condesa, as she braves the jungle to forge an alliance with the lost city of gold.

My Review

I always feel super nervous going into the sequel of a book that I adored. WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT was one of the best books I read last year, so I had high expectations for the companion novel, and I really wanted to read Catalina’s story.

I thought the book was great, so let me go no further without saying that. The jungle setting felt so spongy and deadly real. Catalina’s fierceness, her total, unquestioning commitment to her people made her admirable. I liked the slow burn, forbidden romance.

Perhaps the thing that kept me from falling in love with this story the way I did with WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT is that because I’d already walked with Ximena through her journey to understand and love the Llacsan people, it was difficult not to feel like Catalina was being selfish and narrow-minded as she dug into her prejudices and clung to them.

On the other hand, I think the things she felt and believed made a lot of sense for her character. I guess I just wish that the resolve of her hate had begun to crack sooner. That would have allowed more time for her spiritual journey, too, which I would have liked to see.

Even with all that, I enjoyed the book and loved seeing Catalina grow into the person she was meant to become. The jungle setting was fantastic, and the slow burn romance totally delicious.

I think fans of GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson (still one of my favorites) would really enjoy this book. It could probably be read on its own, though some characters and relationships from the first book are referenced. I think it’s written in such a way that you could infer a lot of what happened in the first book. (That said, if you want to read both, definitely start with the first book, otherwise WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT will spoil a lot of the plot.)

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Characters are Latinx-coded.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used pretty infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. At one point they bathe together but stay pretty far apart.

Spiritual Content
Catalina was raised worshipping the moon goddess, Luna, and believing that her people were the only ones to do so. Other people worship the earth goddess or the sun god. Some prayer and meditation rituals are shown, and some characters speak with and experience the presence of the gods.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. The jungle is full of dangerous animals and people who attack Catalina and her allies. A vicious monster literally tears some limb from limb. Magic wielders use their magic against Catalina and the others.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.