Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where between September 15th and October 15th, Latinx authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Latinx and Latinx books. Find the introduction post for Latinx Heritage Month at The Quiet Pond here.
Our Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond series may be coming to an end, but we have two more guests to go and I’m so excited for them both! In particular, today’s guest is a book blogger who I admire and I feel like I’ve walked my book blogging journey with them – both of our book blogs have grown over the years, and I’m delighted that they could visit us at the Pond today.
Today, I have the honour of having Karina from the book blog, 24hr.YABookBlog! I’ve been a reader of Karina’s book blog for a long time, so I’m so happy that she’s visiting us for Latinx Heritage Month and that I get to interview her about her experience as a book blogger and how it has intertwined with her Latinx identity. Karina visits us as pink and white fox, wearing a blue cardigan!
I’m excited to show you Karina’s interview with you all – her answers are so incredibly thoughtful and interesting. But, before we move onto the interview, for all our friends out there who don’t know Karina, I’d love to tell you more about her book blog!
Karina: The Blogger Behind 24hr.YABookBlog
Karina is the book blogger behind 24hr.YABookBlog! There, she has a variety of cool and interesting content – such as book reviews (she reviews all sorts of diverse books, including manga, and I really like her review of Incendiary), discussion posts, and her very unique feature, Literary Listens, where she recommends different bookish podcasts!
Karina also ran her own Latinx Heritage Month blog event, and I’ve really enjoyed her weekly posts! In the first week of Latinx Heritage Month, she shared some Latinx YA Fantasy book recommendations. In the second week, she interviewed Lilliam Rivera, author of Never Look Back, and in the third week, she recommended some indie press books by Latine authors!
Blogger Interview with Karina
CW: Hello Karina! A huge welcome to the Pond – it’s so great that you’re finally visiting us and we’re so happy to have you here for Latinx Heritage Month. For any of our friends out there who might be meeting you for the first time, can you please introduce yourself?
Karina: So honored to be visiting the Pond, thank you for having me! Hello everyone, my name is Karina and I’m a YA Book Blogger who’s been blogging, reviewing and creating bookish content for 5 years! Aside from young adult books, I’m also an avid reader of SFF! Other categories I adore reading from include manga, graphic novels, and I’m also trying to delve into other science-fiction/fantasy genres. When I’m not reading, another hobby of mine includes playing video games!
CW: I feel like I’ve known you as a book blogger for a very long time – but, thinking back, it’s really neat to see how your book blog has grown! Can you tell us a little bit about your book blog, 24hr.YABookBlog and how you have grown as a book blogger?
Karina: Of course! I’ve been thinking about this a lot more, especially as I recently passed my 5-year blog anniversary for 24hr.YABookBlog. I kind of just went into blogging right away as soon as I learned how to use WordPress, so pretty early on I was already making book reviews, tags, even bookish lists (all things I’d never really done before)! It didn’t occur to me until a few years later, how my blog was a space for me to improve as a reader, writer, and content creator. What I also never expected was that I’d connect with so many readers, fellow bloggers, and authors all because I just thought to myself “Hey? What if I used this as a place for me to talk about all the books I’m reading?” I’m so grateful to have started this blog, it’s really impacted me and I wouldn’t be the same without it!
Honestly, book blogging has allowed me to grow in so many ways that I never even thought possible (we kind of have to learn a little bit of everything right? Social media, promotion, publicity/marketing). What has been one major highlight is realizing that blogging has made me a much stronger writer. I can look back at my early posts from just a couple years ago to now, seeing how my style has changed to what I focus on when reviewing!
It’s also a fact that blogging has allowed me to grow as a reader! I’m reading more inclusively, discovering new genres that I never would have considered before, and learning about so many new authors and books.
And I have to give a special shout-out to Sil (@thebookvoyagers) because she’s such an inspiration! We’ve known eachother since the very beginning of our blogs and it’s through her phenomenal work that I reflect more on my own reading. She continuously uplifts so many voices, that it truly inspired me in my early years as a blogger to not only reflect on my reading, but also read much more widely.
CW: On your book blog, you have a feature called Literary Listens where you merge your love for books and podcasts! Tell me a little more about this feature! Do you have any podcast recommendations?
Karina: I’d love to! Literary Listens began in the Fall of 2016 as I discovered more audio drama (or fiction) podcasts and the idea sort of grew after I talked about them in a Top 10 Tuesday post. It started out as a way for me to create themed podcast lists, but now I mainly use it to review them, which is a lot of fun!
Honestly there’s so many that I’d recommend because audio dramas are a very unique format for storytelling and it allows for such a diverse range of stories you won’t find anywhere else!
This first one is sort of what I’d call a “staple” in the audio drama community and that’s The Bright Sessions created by Lauren Shippen. It’s told through therapy session recordings and follows therapist Dr. Bright who works with her patients who happen to have supernatural abilities! The ensemble cast is phenomenal, the way this podcast discusses mental health and does storytelling is fantastic!
If you’re looking for some great “found family in space” content, I’d recommend Girl In Space created by Sarah Rhea Werner which follows a botanist girl named “X” who lived her whole life on her parent’s spaceship. But things get a bit more complicated when the organization Caldwell Enterprises finds her ship and decides to take over. It’s a really introspective series that follows her journey to uncover more about Caldwell’s motives, her past, and lots more! There’s even a lot of new friendships that X develops over the series and it makes for some fun character dynamics! This podcast is also another favorite!
Next is The Penumbra Podcast created by Sophie Takagi Kaner and Kevin Vibert, which is a science-fiction fantasy podcast that features various stories and anthology-style episodes! One of the main storylines called “Juno Steel,” is a noir-style mystery series featuring a brooding, non-binary private eye who gets tagled up in different cases and characters with each episode. This series is also known for featuring a lot of queer represenation and putting unique spins on classic storytelling tropes! It’s very immersive and you’ll fall in love with the variety of stories it tells!
CW: Let’s talk about books! Can you tell us a little bit about your own Latinx identity and tell us about a book that means a lot to you and why?
Karina: Absolutely! I’d say blogging and the book community has allowed me to reflect more on representation in what I’m reading and my identity as a Latina. It’s inspired me to seek out more stories from Latine/Latinx authors, which I never really thought about as a YA reader until I started book blogging!
There’s one author in particular whose books mean a lot to me because they left me feeling so VALID in my own anxiety and shy/introverted self and that’s Janelle Milanes! Her two YA Contemporary books The Victoria In My Head and Analee, In Real Life feature Cuban-American teens who are navigating their own anxieties and striving to try new things.
There was just a deep connection I had to their journeys, overcoming their anxieties, the Latina representation, and just thinking to myself how I would have absolutely loved books like these when I was dealing with a lot of anxiety as a teen!
It also wasn’t until THIS YEAR when I finally read #OwnVoices YA featuring my Guatemalan background! Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon features Liliana, a first-generation Guatemalan and Salvadorian-American who transfers to a majority white high school and is navigating the new environment. It meant A LOT to me seeing this representation for the first time ever and it kind of left me sobbing with this surreal feeling to see my family’s culture woven into the pages!
CW: You dedicate quite a bit of time promoting diverse books on Twitter, especially Latinx books – which is so awesome! Can you tell me about how your experience as a book blogger is shaped by your Latinx identity? What are some of your greatest joys and some of the challenges that you have faced?
Karina: Thank you! To answer your first question, in all honesty I feel like it’s very much the other way around! Similar to what I mentioned above, I truly began to think more about my Latinx identity because of book blogging, which has been such a great experience. It’s not only given me more opportunity to reflect, but also inspired me to continue learning more about Latin American culture and seek out more Latinx creators / stories!
Some of my greatest joys as a book blogger has just been discovering this community, connecting with authors, bloggers, readers, publishers, even making friends (which has been a major highlight) and recognizing the wonderful opportunities book blogging has given me! Another joy has definitely been seeing my blog grow in the 5 years since I started and also myself as a person! And discovering so many AMAZING books!
Now as for challenges, I personally struggle with engaging on social media and interacting sometimes, so that has definitely added stress as a blogger. Similar to that, another challenge I face is feeling like sometimes my content isn’t really engaging or interesting and I sort of get into a negative mentality. But, these are things I’m always trying to work on and improve. No matter what I always strive to feel inspired to continue creating!
CW: For any readers out there who want to diversify their reading lists and want to read more Latinx books, give us some book recommendations!
Karina: I could gush about these books all day, so if you’ve read any of these, please chat with me about them!! (All of them YA)
Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes: Analee (very introverted) and Seb (very popular) are partnered up for a class assignment and decide to start FAKE DATING to help each other win back important people in their lives. It’s AMAZING and you’ll fall in love with Analee and her journey! Fake dating, friendship, family, adorable banter, need I say more?
When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: It was probably one of the first Latinx-authored books I read when my blogging began and it carries such a special place in my heart. Miel is a girl who grows roses from her wrists and Sam is a boy who paints moons― the love they share is too precious for words and they each go on their own personal journeys when the mysterious Bonner Girls return! Anna-Marie has crafted an absolute gem of a story that’s stayed with me since!! They write such stunning, lush magical realism tales that discuss identity, family, and so much more. Their books are a must-read!
Skip by Molly Mendoza: I discovered this utterly gorgeous graphic novel last year and need more people to read it! It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where Bloom and Gloopy are both from different dimensions. They find themselves becoming best friends and are working to get back home. The artwork is absolutely stunning and features a kaleidoscope of colors as both of them travel across dimensions. It’s a beautiful story about friendship and is in my opinion, an underrated gem!
About the Blogger
Karina is a YA book blogger who loves reading and creating content about books. One of her current blog projects includes writing and editing articles for her YA book news website. When not reading or blogging, she loves to play video games, listen to podcasts, improve her writing craft, and work on new bookish projects.