Blog, Book Reviews

Reading Recent Releases

I’m a big fan of reading vlogs, so I thought it might be fun to blog my way through reading some recently released titles. I’m sharing the details of the books and my impressions below. I’ll try not to give too much away, in case you want to pick them up yourself.

[Note: The content below reflects my stream of consciousness while in the midst of reading each book.]

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

An IG story featuring my coffee & book

Genre: Gothic horror / Historical fiction
CW: Murder, Death, Blood

Synopsis: In the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, Beatriz’s life is in shambles. She seeks to establish a new life for herself and her mother in the only way available to women at the time: with a good marriage. She moves with her new husband to Hacienda San Isidro full of hope for her new life, but she soon finds out that the home holds bitter secrets and resentment toward those living in it.

Okay, right off the bat, as The Hacienda opens, the scene is set: a newlywed couple, an uncomfortable first meeting with the rest of the family, a large empty house, and a bad omen. All by the second chapter. I am intrigued, and feel like this is going to be a good one. 

Chapter 3: We have STAKES. We love a good story with high stakes. 

50% point: a BIG reveal. Not surprising though, considering the existence of the patriarchy and whatnot. 

Around 75% in: I’m starting to think here that this book really could have been all about one specific character with a very interesting personal history. Like this book works very well, but that character could have their own entire book. I would love to read that!

IG story update upon finishing the book

Final thoughts: I really liked the Hacienda, but I didn’t LOVE it. This is weird for me. It has all the elements that usually tick all my boxes: horror, creepy house, complex back stories, and great storytelling. The writing is excellent. It just didn’t hit me in the “top book of 2022” type of way. I do recommend reading it if you’re into historical fiction and are looking to dip your toes into the horror genre. The author is a trained historian and it shows in their craft. An excellent debut. I will be looking out for more from Isabel Cañas.

Hide by Kiersten White

Genre: Horror
CW: Blood, Death, Suicide

Synopsis: In Hide, multiple contestants compete in a massive hide and seek competition. The prize: thousands upon thousands of dollars. The only catch: the game takes place in an abandoned amusement park. Mack is determined to win and change her life, but once things take a turn for the worse and people mysteriously begin to disappear, so do her chances of making it out alive at all.

We get just enough about the main character in the initial chapter on them, while an important part of her life remains a mystery. I love when authors do this; it makes me want to keep reading. 

Okay, I didn’t know this book had multiple perspectives. It is a little disorienting, but does make sense for the story, I suppose. 

This book reminds me so much of Squid Game! Not sure why I didn’t think of that right away. 

An IG story where I discuss the book

About 50% in: oof, I have a feeling that I might know where this is going. But also– what the hell is going on here??

Final thoughts: At about 100 pages left in the book, I decided to DNF it. I’m not sure if it is me or the subject matter, but I’m just not vibing with the plot anymore. It has become a drag to pick this up before bed, and I’m not looking for it during free time during the day. At this point, I’m not saying I won’t ever return to this, though. Maybe during spooky season. 

Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo

Genre: Middle grade graphic novel
CW: Death

Synopsis: In Miss Quinces Sue’s summer plans with her friends in the United States are derailed for her family’s plan to visit Honduras. Upon arrival, she finds that her mother has even more in store for Sue that she is not comfortable with or ready for. Over the trip, Sue learns to appreciate her roots and how to balance being herself at a time when so much is changing in her life.

Only several pages in and I already love the setup of this story: the main character wants to spend all summer living her best life making comics, reading manga and hanging out with friends, but must take part in her family’s annual trip to Honduras. She is only disappointed in this because she is not being allowed to attend camp with friends.

The illustrations are so colorful and cute. I love all the beautiful shades of brown in Sue’s family. Kat Fajardo is so talented!

A sample page from Miss Quinces

I love being able to relate to Sue, as a Latina and as an introvert. 

Final thoughts: this graphic novel moves very fast and would be perfect for readers of all ages. It is all about family, growth, traditions, and being true to yourself. It makes for a wonderful summer read. There are sweet extras from the author included in the back; I love when they include photos! 10/10 highly recommend.

A Reflection / Call to Action 

Like many of you I’m sure, my focus was off as I struggled to process the tragedies that took place throughout the month. The lives lost. The anti-abortion legislation leak (now confirmed) from the Supreme Court. I am sad and I am angry. Please see the following links for resources on how you can help if you’re able to:

Donate to Uvalde, Tx Families 

Everytown For Gun Safety Take Action Link (multiple ways here)

ACLU Resource: Fighting for Abortion Rights

Nina Garcia is a reader, reviewer, and devoted coffee drinker from Texas. When she’s not reading or watching Netflix, she is working on writing projects, including a middle grade novel. Favorite genres: anti-racist and intersectional feminist non-fiction, science fiction, horror, and contemporary with elements of fantasy.

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