I get that the term "transportive" is overused in blurbs, but I don’t know how else to describe this gorgeous novel from Kali Fajardo-Anstine. I was swept away by Woman of Light, which follows five generations of the Lopez family from the nineteenth century into the 1930s, spanning across the Western territories of America. In beautiful, decadent prose, Fajardo-Anstine shows us everything from traveling circus acts and fortune tellers, to turn of the century Denver nightlife, house parties and wedding festivities. This is a love letter to the American West that was left out of the classic cowboy films, to the Indigenous and Latinx communities who have lived there for centuries. I loved every word.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, (List Price: 28, One World, 9780525511328, June 2022)
Catalina Incognito is the first book in what’s sure to be a charming new chapter book series. Gifted with a magic sewing kit on her eighth birthday, shy and reserved Catalina learns about taking chances and trying again — and also solves the mystery of her aunt’s missing ruby. I loved the way Spanish phrases are mixed in throughout the book..
Catalina Incognito by Jennifer Torres, Gladys Jose (illus.), (List Price: $5.99, Aladdin, 9781534482784, March 2022)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
"Every book I write is for myself. My YA is for my teen self, who hungered for magical stories. My middle grade is for the painfully shy kid I once was, one who wanted adventure. My adult romance is for the version of myself that denies being a romantic (though I am). The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is for the person I am now. . I wanted to pose the question, ‘What price would you pay for survival?’” –Zoraida Córdova via Bookpage
What booksellers are saying about The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
Cordova’s writing echoes the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this epic family tale that sweeps across countries and time. I loved the atmospheric quality of the book and the incredible beauty of her writing. ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC Buy from Bookmarks
If you thought your family tree was complicated, wait till you meet the Montoyas. When their grandmother Orquídea summons them to collect their inheritance, they don’t realize they’re about to dive into a family history of magic, loss, and resilience. ―Abby Rice from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC Buy from Foggy Pine Books
I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. I was so intrigued with Orquidea Devina and the magical force surrounding her that I hardly wanted to put this book down, because I needed to hurriedly piece together all of the interconnected pieces. Blending a bit of mystery and fantasy, Zoraida Cordova does an excellent job developing this story with complex multi-generational characters connected by magical roots that make them stronger together than they ever are apart! ―Nicole Granville, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL Buy from Snail on the Wall
A playfully mesmerizing, meaningful story about family! The matriarch, Orquidea Divina, summons her relatives from far and wide to attend her funeral and to receive their inheritance. But the inheritance is not what everyone expected, nor is the funeral anything ordinary. Over the next several years, secrets are revealed and special gifts are given, and each one must figure out how they want to live their lives individually and as a family. Magical, fun and heart-warming! ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL Buy from Copperfish Books
The cosmic battle between good and evil plays out, not on the grand scale, but within a family where love, longing and belonging have consequences beyond the ordinary. This enchanting tale of magical realism grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go. With unforgettable characters and surprises twisting like stems and roots throughout the story, this book is almost impossible to put down. (OK, I got so involved, I totally forgot my husband and I were going out, until he came to get me.) For fans of Isabel Allende and Erin Morgenstern. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, AR Buy from Wordsworth Books
About Zoraida Córdova
Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books, is the coeditor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, and is the cohost of the writing podcast Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories. For more information, visit her at ZoraidaCordova.com.
Written with sharp humor and a keen eye, Olga Dies Dreaming is one the most exciting debuts I’ve read in a long time. Xochitl Gonzalez has given us an unforgettable cast of characters—I loved unraveling the Acevedo family history in all of its messiness and tenderness. Don’t miss this one!
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez, (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250786173, January 2022)
These are the voices. The voices we need to hear, to represent the voices that need to be heard. This collection from fifteen influential Young Adult writers from the Latinx diaspora is the perfect launch pad for conversations and the perfect door to new ideas.
Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250763426, November 2021)
I just spent a guilt-free rainy day with these high calorific, double-stuffed short stories. Located within: A traffic jam turned tribal via survival, some playful narrator juggling, an escapist daydream that turns O. Henry into an R. Serling nightmare, and fiery relationships that literally burn to literal litter. Looking forward to more rain.
All Fires the Fire by Julio Cortázar, (List Price: 15.95, New Directions, 9780811229456, April 2020)
How do mosquitoes communicate? What does their society look like– and how would they view ours? “Wise Owl,” thus dubbed by the indigenous tribe he lives with in the Mexican jungle, is a misanthrope disgusted with society at large. When he figures out the language of the mosquitoes, Mosquil, Wise Owl hatches a plan to take ultimate revenge on human civilization. Heavy themes of faith, modernity, free will, and meaning are filtered through an ecological sci-fi sieve. Vonnegut’s Galapagos meets the Island of Dr. Moreau, with even more merited cynicism.
His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal, (List Price: $15.95, New Directions, 9780811230834, November 2021)
I read this Fourth of July weekend which was the perfect book to give me a different perspective on what America means to a family fleeing a war-torn country in search of a better life. Dobbs’ great-grandmother inspired this heart-wrenching, incredible story of 12 yo Petra Luna’s “barefoot dreams” of learning to read and write and protecting her family. I loved the earnest determination and bravery of Petra, her closeness with her 2 younger siblings, and how her abuelita taught her to listen to the natural world to survive the harsh desert conditions to make their way to the U.S. border. It was such a beautiful mix of mythology and holding tight to dreams. The war brutality was presented realistically–the danger wasn’t glossed over, but instead presented in a child-thoughtful way. I learned so much about a time in history that I didn’t know much about. My 10-year-old daughter and I highly recommend!
Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, (List Price: 17.99, Sourcebooks Young Readers, 9781728234656, September 2021)
There is so much to be said about this book and why it’s so delightful. I was really excited for the English translation and was not in the least bit disappointed by what Jennifer Croft pulled off. What I would say I most enjoy is the decision to let it be as local as it is. It is such a perfectly quintessential porteño novel, and I’m really glad the translator and editor decided to let it be what it is.
The Woman from Uruguay by Pedro Mairal, (List Price: 24, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635577334, August 2021)
Reviewed by Charles Lee, Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina
We are undoubtedly experiencing a golden age of surreal fiction, much of it translated, and the best of it written by women. For short story junkies like myself it is a particularly good time to be stuck at home avoiding other humans. Each story in this amazing collection connects with me viscerally, yet each one connects differently, like a smell, a taste, or a texture. Some are mysterious and subtle while others are brazen and bold, grotesque even. Each one is exquisitely crafted and exhilarating to read!
Rabbit Island by Elvira Navarro, Christina MacSweeney (Trans (List Price: $19.95, Two Lines Press, 9781949641097, 2/9/2021)
Reviewed by Tony Peltier, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
A gloriously unsettling collection of the weird and macabre, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is as enthralling as it is disturbing and will envelop readers in a loving and nightmarish embrace.Perfect for fans of Samanta Schweblin, Carmen Maria Machado, and Abbey Mei Otis.
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez, Megan McDowell (Trans.) (List Price: $27, Hogarth, 9780593134078, 1/12/2021)
Reviewed by Zach Claypole White, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia Flatiron Books, April
A testament to the enduring bonds of struggle and love that tie us together beyond generations and borders. Truly the work of a measured poet, as Garcia shows the power of form, language, and structure in creating enduring scenes and images that I will carry with me for a long time. As these characters face heart-first the most dire concerns of our time—misogyny, xenophobia, hegemony, addiction—what comes to light is the beauty of the moments they share when they think about birds with claws, the ocean air, and the joy of being told a good story. Truly lovely and, ultimately, fortifying.
I loved that this picture book introduces young readers to the refugee crisis at the Mexico-US border in a friendly and colorful story. The story doesn’t hide the unfairness, but it ends on an optimistic note.
My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, Erika Meza (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Kokila, 9780593111048, 8/24/2021)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
In this story that spans five generations of women in Cuba, Texas and Florida, you come away with a rather complex picture of immigration plights and political and social pressures. The recurring theme is a book—an aptly named book— that unites the women in a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story. It reminds us that every woman is created with multiple layers whether she knows it or not.
Of Women and Saltby Gabriela Garcia (List Price: $26.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250776686, March 2021)
What Loedel accomplishes in this astonishing debut is truly powerful. There’s a clear sense that a lot of time and care was taken in coming to this story–apparently inspired by the author’s actual half-sister Isabel. It’s this time and careful construction that helps Loedel achieve what fiction is best at doing when it’s done well–telling us truths about our own condition. The themes of grief, regret, loss, self-doubt, and betrayal are explored in a gripping plot that makes the book un-put-down-able. The story slips in and out of the irreal in a way that harkens to the greats of the post-Boom Argentinian literary landscape. There are clear notes of Borges, Cortázar, Schweblin, Heker and Harwicz, while maintaining a singular voice, and an indefinably North American sensibility. The result is a really satisfying marriage of the two literary traditions, lived out in a book that lingers inside you long after it’s done.
Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel (List Price: $27, Riverhead Books, 9780593188644, 1/12/2021)