Cover Image: Blazewrath Games

Blazewrath Games

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Member Reviews

Blazewrath Games tells the story of Lana Torres, who has always preferred dragons to people. Her dream and life goal has always been to compete in the Blazewrath World Cup representing Puerto Rico, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. When Puerto Rico’s runner is kicked off the team, now Lana has a chance to be a part of the team.
But a global conspiracy is brewing, the Sire, a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form and a former Blazewrath superstar have teamed up, they are burning down dragon sanctuaries and will not stop until the Cup is cancelled. Now, Lana has to navigate being a part of her beloved sport with this international threat.
Overall, Blazewrath Games is perfect for fans of fantasy, dragons, and a down-to-earth, regular fan full of determination main character who has so much heart. This is now in my favourite reads of 2020, I can’t wait for the next book and anything else Amparo comes up with.
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This was always going to be a slam dunk for me. Pitched as 'How to Train Your Dragon' meets Quidditch? Two of my favourite things? There was not much room to go wrong. I breezed through this book. It is fast paced, intriguing and full of wonderful diverse characters that you can't help but fall a little in love with. Lana was a fantastic protagonist to follow. She is smart and determined and I was rooting for her the whole time. The world building surrounding the dragon's part in society, and the further magical aspects of this contemporary world were done fantastically. We were hit with twists and turns throughout the entire story, and I simply couldn't look away! I went in thinking this was a standalone, and am thrilled to now find out it is the first in a duology. I need more!
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Blazewrath Games tells the story of Lana who is a Puerto Rican girl living in the United States who loves Blazewrath and would do anything to get a chance to compete in the games. Suddenly her dream can become a reality because there is now an opening on the Puerto Rico team as a runner and luckily this time they will accept applicants from the states. At the last minute, Lana signs onto team Puerto Rico and gets her dream come true but there is something off about her being picked for the team and she isn't going to stop questioning the things around her. 

Thoughts and Themes: The first thing that I thought when I saw this book and read the first few lines was this reminds me so much of How to Train Your Dragon which I love. Once I made that connection I was not able to put this book down even when I had to because sleep is something I need. This book also reminded me of the soccer world cup that comes every 4 years and while I don’t really watch it my family does so I have fond memories of the game.

I really enjoyed the world-building that is not just done through the story but also in the passages that are included in between chapters. I loved getting to see how so many different countries were involved throughout this book and how their dragons were all unique. I thought it was great to see all of their differences and how these dragons would only bond with those that were from that country. All of the dragons included were amazing and you never got the sense that one of these countries was greater than the other, just that they all had their advantages.

I was quite shocked by how quickly an important aspect of the story is revealed to us all and was a bit worried that this revelation would make the rest of the story fall flat but I am glad I was wrong. I think this revelation coming early on really sets the stage for the rest of the story and makes it so that everything else that happens is more interesting.

Characters: I loved getting to know all of the characters throughout this book even if they are all shown through Lana’s perspective. I thought it was great that we not only get to meet her teammates but other teammates, and people from her life prior to joining the team. I thought watching her be torn between those two worlds really adds to the story and her background as a character.

Some of the other characters I was glad that were included were all of the political people that we met throughout. I was worried that the political storyline would be too much but I actually really enjoyed that being tied up with everything. I think that it made good commentary about athletics and politics and how everything we do is inherently political.

I also loved that there were so many queer characters in this story and how they were all amazing characters. This really added to my love for this book because I love seeing queer characters just living their lives and in this case being athletes and riding dragons. Seeing queer characters in fantasy books is always a plus for me because then I can see a little bit of me in a different world, one in which I could be among dragons.

Writing Style: This story is told through Lana’s perspective and while I would have liked to see what the other's thoughts were throughout I liked that we didn’t. Us being given only her perspective added to the mystery of what was happening and made me feel worried for her at all times.
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Lana Torres, a Puerto Rican living in the United States, is the memorable, engaging, and energetic narrator of this fast-faced YA fantasy novel, a perfect read for anyone who wished the Harry Potter books had spent more time on Quidditch. I hate to bring up Harry Potter in a review of a totally different series, but they cast a long shadow, and the similarities are striking. First off, there's the sport of Blazewrath itself, which is Ortiz's invention and where much of this novel takes place. Like Rowling's Quidditch, a Blazewrath team comprises seven players who play their sport largely in the air (although on dragons instead of broomsticks). There's a goalie, called a Keeper, and six other teammates whose jobs include scoring and protection. Much like a Quidditch game ends when the Seeker completes his mysterious and largely independent task of catching the Snitch, a Blazewrath game ends when the Runner manages to make it up a mountain and slap a tile onto an altar, all the while dodging fireballs and physical attacks. Blazewrath is INTENSE - between the fireballs, the claws and the hand-to-hand combat I'm left wondering how any player ever survives to their second game. 

In Ortiz's world, Blazewrath has its own bureaucratic governing body, the International Blazewrath Federation, and a global tournament. The teenage players are highly-paid worldwide superstars who score glory for their countries through the medium of sport.

Growing up, Lana dreams of playing in a Blazewrath games, and she finally gets her chance when the Puerto Rican team qualifies for the tournament for the first time. She's offered an audition to be the team's Runner. Through a series of events I won't spoil here, Lana achieves her dream, only to find herself swiftly descending into a nightmare. Events quickly expand and spin out of control, as a serial killing dragon and his entourage threaten the Blazewrath Cup, Lana's life and family, and the world as she knows it.

Ortiz has a talent for drawing teenage characters: Lana's desire to bring glory to her family and her home - and to understand her own heritage - make for compelling coming-of-age fodder. Her posse makes for a perfect supporting cast: her emotionally distant mother, her physically distant but loving dad, her devoted best friend Samira, and eventually her Blazewrath teammates. 

Despite the intriguing setting, I found the novel's plot advanced unevenly, and a little too often through Lana's surprisingly acute guesses (in one of these astonishing intuitive leaps, she figures out the identity of a key character long ahead of law enforcement and just about everyone else involved, including the character himself, thanks to a few late-night clicks on social media). Events lead up to a climactic scene that regular fantasy readers may find just a little too predictable, partly because the story features some classic fantasy cliches. Lana, who survives a vicious dragon attack as a child, has a touch of the Girl Who Lived to her. Found Family, Unlikely Heroes, Saving the World, The Handy Best Friends, the Secretly Good Bad Guy, etc. Even Lana's Blazewrath nemesis - the win-at-all-costs Victoria Peralta, who questions Lana's skills as a teammate from the start - plays to type as the possibly redeemable Mean Girl. None of this makes the storytelling bad, but there are moments when it can feel just a little color-by-number.
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CWs: Allusions to domestic abuse, alcoholism, and homophobia; some descriptions of physical violence, murder, and illness

This was so good! If you're looking for an exciting, twisty, action-packed contemporary fantasy, this is it!

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly this story dives straight into the action. There's a lot of narrative threads being set up in the beginning, things the reader would normally file away for later when the endgame comes into focus, and they all come to a head right away, perfectly setting the stage for the rest of the story.

The worldbuilding in Blazewrath Games is beautifully executed as well. It's so rare to find a contemporary fantasy that's steeped in Puerto Rican culture, pointedly non-Western centric, and effortlessly inclusive. One of my favorite parts of the Blazewrath tournament was getting to see all the different countries involved, and it was especially fascinating to learn about how each respective country has its own unique breed of dragon, and those dragons only Bond with people born of the same country. Besides an extensive cast of color, there's also supporting characters who are queer, trans, and disabled, and they're all able to be play important roles in the mystery unfolding around the tournament.

I was completely invested in Lana's journey from beginning to end. The story perfectly balances action, political intrigue, and intense Blazewrath sequences. I loved getting to see the tournament unfold before my very eyes, and the stakes are stoked higher and higher with each ensuing match.

I don't want to give too much away, but there's also an interesting political influence being exerted over the games, which definitely colors Lana's lifelong dream of playing for Team Puerto Rico. I appreciate the way the story acknowledges that professional sports enable athletes to become public figures with platforms and influence. With that amount of popularity and visibility, there is no such thing as neutrality. Sports are influenced by politics, just like everything else in the world, and Lana and her fellow Blazewrath players have to decide what message their participation in the sport is sending and how they can play the sport they love while still staying true to their beliefs.

There's also a great through-line about not feeling like enough. As a Puerto Rican-American, Lana struggles with feeling ownership over her culture, especially as she's learning to play alongside her fellow countrymen. As Puerto Rico's Runner, she feels like she's at a disadvantage because she doesn't have as much experience as her teammates, and she has a long road ahead to strengthen herself up. As a daughter, she feels like a disappointment to her mom, who becomes vocal about how she will not support Lana if she chooses to go forward with her Blazewrath career. As the story progresses, Lana has to discover how to define and understand herself outside of these ideas, on her own terms, which I loved seeing.

Overall, this was such a wonderful ride! There's found family, friendship, an epic sports tournament, mystery and so much more! Again, if you're looking for a unique and exciting contemporary fantasy (with dragons!!) then look no further.
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For Lana Torres, Blazewrath is everything. Although she is a Regular (a non-Witch) and has never had a dragon bond with her, she holds tight to her dream of becoming a Runner--the only player on a Blazewrath team who doesn't have a dragon. She also misses Puerto Rico, her home, where she hasn't been since a small child when her parents divorced. When Lana's two loves--Blazewrath and Puerto Rico--combine with a suddenly open spot on the Puerto Rican team weeks before the Cup, she knows she must try-out. Except... her try-out was very different. After a harrowing afternoon, Lana signs with Team Puerto Rico and is ready to live her dream!

Except, something is not right. It's not her team (not even the frosty Victoria). It's not the silent treatment she's getting from her mother. It's not even the worry that the dragon sanctuary her father works at could be the next target of the criminal Sire. Things... feel off. Why was she chosen? What is happening behind the scenes? What does it have to do with Blazewrath and the Cup? And how is magical law enforcement involved? 

The world is watching Lana Torres. Some eyes are watching a little more closely...

A brilliant debut novel from Ortiz, "Blazewrath Games" combines high-stakes contact sports and SOME OF THE COOLEST DRAGONS TO EVER BE IMAGINED to create real magic! Then there's also: Epic Plot Twists! Angsty backstories! An amazing magic system! An incredibly vivid cast of characters that not only do I wish were real people but that I could totally hang out with! And did I mention some of the coolest dragons to ever be imagined???? (Seriously, I would love to just see a real Sol de Noche dragon. Or any dragon.)

Also, it's the first in a duology???? Which I'm really excited about because I'm not ready to say good-bye to this world and cast yet, so yay!

Just a simply fantastic novel, and I'm eager to read more from Ortiz! Until then, I'll just continue to be as obsessed with Blazewrath as Lana and her team. (And, again, wishing to be claimed by a dragon as cool as the Sol de Noche dragons...)
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17-year-old Lana Torres is juggling a lot: she has a secret audition for an open spot on the Puerto Rican team for the Blazewrath Games. Blazewrath is a complicated game that combines elements of soccer, track & field, and combat, with dragons involved to boot -- and Lana's white mother sees it as a dangerous risk that isn't worth taking, mainly because of the dragons. Lana, however, yearns for it, because of her bond with her Puerto Rican father, a dragon researcher, and her love for Puerto Rico, which she has been unable to visit since her parents split up. However: all of Lana's schemes and ambitions are complicated by an active terrorist trying to disrupt the games, and the complex relationship between dragons and humans as well.

Ortiz's Blazewrath Games has definite Potterverse influences: wizarding schools, wand shops, a complicated invented sport that parallels the popularity of football or soccer -- but don't be too quick to dismiss it as derivative, as it brings far more for readers. Lana has complex relationships with both of her parents, as well as with her identity as Puerto Rican, and all of these are richly rendered on the page. Equally appealing is Lana's relationship with her best friend Samira, a super-smart but sometimes awkward witch.

There are lots of things to love about this debut, which looks to be the start of a new series. My main criticism is that  this first volume tries to pack in all the events of perhaps two Harry Potter volumes, if not more. Some things are presented as challenges, only to be unexplored and then resolved too quickly (this is the case with Samira's magical skill). But even acknowledging that weakness, I was still so excited to get this ARC, and am looking forward to seeing the story continue in future books.
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This is my first dragon book. To my surprise, this book was so much more! 

Amparo Ortiz’s book creates a magical world that’s not destined to be set in the cold and gloomy England or Nordic lands, instead, it chooses Dubai, Brazil, México, and Puerto Rico as it’s setting. As Lana begins her path as a Blazewrath runner, we get to know her family and how she relates to her identity as a Puerto Rican living in the diaspora. Lana is not an islander, she lives in the U.S., and her dream is to represent her island as part of Team Puerto Rico. 

What makes it amazing? The book is set in a world in which magic and dragons are part of everyday life. It’s filled with a diverse cast of queer, Caribbean, people of color without falling for the stereotypical representations usually presented in mainstream media. It recognizes a sense of belonging and the struggle that comes from wanting to claim your identity as a Diasporican. It shows the importance of language in creating emotional bonds with a community.

One of the most important aspects of Blazewrath Games is that fantasy and magic are democratized in an effort to showcase the Caribbean, it’s culture, colored Puerto Ricans, and the colonial issue without being overtly political or “in your face” about the subject. Dragons, as magical creatures, were not destined to be in the hands of white or affluent people, bonded by blood through generations, instead, they chose people because of their courage, their charisma, and their drive to overcome hardship, without looking at their skin color, their place of origin, or gender. As Team Puerto Rico keeps building up steam, we get to know the characters and their dragons, almost as their alebrijes or guardian angels, each dragon bonded with their rider in a time of need. We could say so much more about the bond, but what most interested me is that each dragon chose its name, and is almost prophetic. The names represent an aspect of their rider, as well as their potential –Esperanza (hope), Puya (spear), Daga (dagger), Rayo (lightning, a ray of light), Titán (powerful), and Fantasma (ghost, spirituality). The dragons sing, and their song is as enchanting as the coquíes on the island. You just have to read it to fully enjoy every detail.

The story is fast-paced, the characters are completely relatable, and the book leaves you wanting more.

This book is a must for every library!
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Blazewrath Games is a contemporary fantasy that I immediately picked up after seeing the word ‘dragons’ in the Goodreads synopsis, because just like the majority of fantasy readers out there, I too am in love with dragon stories. Needless to say, I’d had quite high expectations of this book; however, while I did enjoy the first half of the story, ultimately I’ve got very mixed feelings about the book as a whole.

Lana Torres has only ever had one dream: to be a part of the Blazewrath Games, a sport played on the backs of dragons. When team Puerto Rico loses their Runner right before their very first appearance in the Blazewrath World Cup, Lana is finally given the opportunity to join the team of her native country. Even though both her parents seem reluctant to let her go, soon Lana gets taken away to Dubai, which is where the World Cup is going to be held this year, to join the rest of her team and train for the games. But when Lana finds out that the Sire, a dragon cursed into human form by his former rider, is plotting to put a stop to the World Cup, she realises this year’s Blazewrath Games are going to be far more lethal than she could ever have imagined.  

What I liked best about Blazewrath Games was the extensive and well-detailed worldbuilding, which Ortiz managed without ever being preachy or info-dumpy. Each chapter has a brief section at the beginning that's either an excerpt from a books or news report telling you more about the history of dragons and Blazewrath, or snippets from interviews done with the characters, which was a very clever way of giving readers insight into the world of Blazewrath Games. The countries participating in the World Cup all have their own exclusive dragon species with unique powers, which made the matches fun to read about.

For the most part, Blazewrath Games is a character-driven story. The book has a delightfully diverse cast that’s comprised of complex and genuinely likeable characters (most of whom also happen to be queer), which made my heart do a happy dance. While Lana, our heroine, is a strong and multi-layered character who drove the story forward, the secondary characters were also wonderfully nuanced and made this book an enjoyable read. Lana’s badass, witchy best friend Samira deserves a special mention, and so does Andrew, the Scottish Runner. Another thing I truly liked about this story was that Ortiz didn’t force Lana into a half-baked romance to make her more ‘interesting’, something a lot of YA books are guilty of.

The only character who didn’t get much development was the primary antagonist- the Sire; he didn’t seem to have much of a personality. And while all the other characters were mostly well-defined- even the minor ones who appear only once or twice- the book did appear a bit overcrowded. There were also too many subplots that, at the end, didn’t really come together very neatly.

In fact, that's where my biggest problem with Blazewrath Games lies. The book started out with a fantastic premise, good characterisations, and in-depth discussions of themes like friendship, bravery, identity, and more that got me intrigued to find out what happens next, and then it failed to follow through. Another thing that I found a bit disappointing: despite the book being titled Blazewrath Games, it doesn’t really put much focus on the actual games. We get to see about two championship matches on screen, and both of them were quite underwhelming since the reader is already told who’s going to win... before the matches even begin. I mean, why?  

What ultimately works for this book is the fast pace that doesn’t let you linger on the weaker bits, and the fact that Ortiz opts for a simple writing style that lets the story sail smoothly and makes it easy to follow.  All my qualms aside, Blazewrath Games is still a very original and unique story, and I do hope the sequel currently in works would satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends in this book. If a strong female character led contemporary fantasy with magic and many, many dragons sounds like something you’d enjoy, I do think you should give this one a chance.
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I love this book so much! The worldbuilding is really amazing. It's got an interesting magic system and really cool dragons. I love all the thought that went into the different dragon breeds! I also love all the thought that went into making the dragon sport of Blazewrath. Very excited to learn more about this world and the different types of dragons in book 2!

The story had me gripped and I loved all the characters! The Sire, a dragon cursed into a human form, is a really interesting villain. Lana is a character you root for and I liked seeing her growth. I also appreciate that even the unlikable characters have layers to them and reasons for why they're that way.

I loved it a lot and I need the sequel immediately!
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This book has a lot of energy. We get plenty of action in the Blazewrath games as well as other plot related sequences. Lana is a very likeable protagonist and the characters are all very diverse. I must admit, I'm a little confused about how the world works. It seems to be set up as basically our world except magic was discovered over 200 years ago. As a result characters mention things like K pop groups and Law & Order. I guess I'm just having trouble figuring out how much of our reality exists inside the book's reality if that makes sense. Still, it was very cool to see how magic and dragons would fit into a world like ours.
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This book started off really strong. The beginning was fun, fast, unique, everything I look for in a book. The cast of characters is super diverse. I was just loving it right off the bat.

But then, about a third of the way through, my interest really started waning. The world building that had started off so great seemed to trickle off some. It was like a house being built, the frame was there, but the walls weren't up yet. I wanted more.

I also lost interest in the main character. I wanted to love her, and initially I did! But again, I got bored. I felt like her story was less interesting than the stories of some of those around her, and it seemed unfair. Her personality and motivations were there, but her story never quite reached the level I was hoping for.

The ending was good, and surprising in some ways, which is something I always appreciate. But the whole middle section just really didn't do it for me this time. I would definitely recommend this book for teens though, because it is a fun story overall, it's very diverse, and dragons are always a plus. It just wasn't for me.
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

I ended up liking this a lot more than I thought I would. It's a YA book, but it's so endearing and likeable! Lana is an amazing protagonist - she's ambitious and strong, but the author (thankfully) doesn't use the very overused 'special snowflake' trope. Lana is a normal girl who dreams of being a Runner in the games, and she isn't handed it on a silver plate - she actually has to work hard for it. She is a really well developed character - she is loyal and brave, but also has a complicated relationship with her mother and struggles with her Puerto Rican heritage. She just felt real, and that was something I found really refreshing, because I feel like so many YA books these days put their heroine on a pedestal, in a way that makes me feel so disconnected from them. But Blazewrath Games doesn't do that, and it felt organic and genuine. There was also no main romance, which I appreciated, because it meant that the plot and characters were front and centre to the story.

I also enjoyed the cast of side characters - many of whom were LGBT - and I adored the use of the found family trope. And I'm always excited to read about dragons, and Ortiz did not disappoint - I enjoyed reading about the different types of dragons, their powers, and their relationship with their keepers.

My only criticism of this book would be that I would've loved to see the author delve deeper into the world-building; I notice that there were excerpts from texts, which intrigued me, and I would've loved to see this aspect developed more. But this is only a minor quibble.

I would highly recommend this book - it has great representation, an excellent protagonist, and an exciting plot!
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Has a good momentum and an intriguing alternate world. I love the diversity of the characters. I wanted to know more about how dangerous Blazewrath was and the details of some of the twists involving the Sire, but the story moved along so fast I just chose not to dwell onit.
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If you enjoy fantasy novels with dragons and witches living in modern society alongside ordinary people like you and me, then Blazewrath Games is a must read. Lana has lived in America for more than half of her life, but her heart remains linked to Puerto Rico, her heritage and birth place.  So when she is chosen to audition for a position on Puerto Rico's Blazewrath team as a runner, she is beyond excited.  However, her mother does not support this magical and dangerous game with dragons, so Lana devises a plan with her best friend, a witch, to attend tryouts unbeknownst to her mother.  You know what they say about best laid plans, though.  Events beyond Lana's imagination cause her life to spiral out of control, and before she knows it, she is fighting to prove she belongs on the team and that she can run with the best.  Blazewrath Games addresses themes of belonging, being true to yourself, friendship, and sportsmanship in an action packed story.  It casts a spell on the reader in the first few pages that lasts beyond the completion of the book
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I just want to scream to the world about how amazing this book is. Amparo Ortiz created a magical, intricate world in this book, and seeing a Puerto Rican character as the protagonist in this fantastical tale was something that made me tear up.
The thing I’d like to focus on this review is the writing style. I’ve already seen many reviews praising the world building, the characters, the plot, and everything else on this book, but I feel like the writing style is the best part of this book. Ortiz’s writing is addicting: I would sit down to read for a few minutes and would end up reading for an hour. If I was still able to pull all-nighters and act like a normal human being as I was when I was a teen, I have no doubts this would have been a one-sitting read. The descriptions and the dialogues flow naturally and make 100 pages feel like 20. Everything is so clear that, as I remember certain parts of the story, it feels like I watched a film instead of reading a book: I remember colors, expressions and places vividly. The action scenes have a life of their own, and that’s were the writing truly shines.
Overall I think Amparo Diaz wrote an amazing book full of magic, dragons, and diverse characters. This is only her debut, I can’t wait to see what she’ll write next!
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In this alternate world, magic is real.  Regulars (known as Muggles in the Potterverse) discovered that there really are witches and wizards and even dragons in the world.  Dragons usually bond with a regular, but not all dragons bond.  There are many questions about how this all works.  One of the researchers of dragons and bonding is (Carlos Perez).  Carlos currently lives in Buenos Aires at a dragon sanctuary, while Lana (his daughter) lives in the US with her mom.  And even though Lana was born in Puerto Rico (where her dad is from) and considers herself Puerto Rican, not everyone feels that way.  Lana's dream is to be a part of the Puerto Rican Blazewrath team.  Blazewrath is a game played with dragons, their bonded riders, and runners.  The Puerto Rican team has been invited for the first time to the Blazewrath Games and their runner has just been fired, so this is Lana's chance to get on the team.  She has an appointment to try out and a plan to get there (without her mom's knowledge), but when things go awry, Lana feels her dream slip away.  

This was a fun read and different than usual fantasy.  I like that there a lot of diverse characters represented (nationalities, sexualities) and it doesn't feel forced.
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Before Blazewrath Games, I had never read a dragon book. Even less, a Puerto Rican dragon book. So, even though of course I was excited, I still had my hesitations because I knew nothing (and still don’t) about dragons. But PHEW, this was an absolute ride, and an unforgettable one at that!

Amparo Ortiz has crafted such a special and one-of-a-kind world. From the actual sport of Blazewrath and the various species of dragons from all over the world to the magnificent magic system that will pull you in from the first page. The way that Ortiz seamlessly manages to weave in all these details and information about the history of the world of Blazewrath, its background characters, and how dragon and human bonds work is truly masterful. There is so much going on but in the best way! The way it is written genuinely makes it accessible to every reader, even those who lean more towards the contemporary genre. And I would even dare argue it is a fantastic book for readers of all ages as well!

Reading Blazewrath Games makes you wish it was a real sport. It is action-packed and the game sequences will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s like being there, sitting in the actual stadium, watching dragons clash and riders bravely conquer the sky. You will have no choice but to root for your favorites in the game, feeling euphoric and full of adrenaline along with the characters experiencing the battle. 

It is incredibly difficult to pinpoint this novel’s most notable aspect, because it just does everything so WELL. 

Lana is headstrong and determined, and Blazewrath keeps her going. Because the truth of the matter is, without this game, she doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her identity because her identity IS Blazewrath. She was a character I really related to, especially in regards to her feelings of self-doubt. Those moments where she felt like she wasn’t enough. That her passion wasn’t strong enough to keep her going. Those moments when she felt left out or that her teammates secretly didn’t like her and thought she was dragging them down. But throughout it all, through those emotional ups-and-downs, she kept going. She was focused on her destination and never lost sight of what mattered: her family and her love for Puerto Rico.

And this debut also does an immaculate job of describing the many feelings that diaspora Puerto Ricans go through. How they are often ostracized and pushed to the side by mainland Puerto Ricans for not being Puerto Rican enough. Lana’s biracial identity is explored and discussed with tact and care, with the text also diving into the racism and discrimination she faces for being dark-skinned.

There aren’t enough words to describe how awesome the cast of characters is, you’ll just have to see yourself. But this chaotic, bantering group of Puerto Rican teenagers burrowed themselves into my soul. Luis, with his stupid jokes (I wanna be his best friend so bad). Héctor and his deadpan humor (which I felt deep in my heart). Gabriela and her fabulous makeup in all her iconic, bisexual glory. My shy, queer baby Edwin, who blushes like a tomato (also me). Génesis and her stunning curls and caring self. And even though Victoria is highly unlikeable, you end up growing to love her, because at the end of the day, she is just a secretly soft 15-year old who puts up a strong front so she doesn’t get hurt again. This team, while fictional, still managed to make me feel proud of my island. (Because Puerto Ricans tend to be talented at almost everything. 😼)

And it doesn’t stop there! Not only is Blazewrath Games is a stunning celebration of the beauty of Puerto Rico and its people, it is also a celebration of diversity in all its shapes. It embraces multiple ethnicities and backgrounds and cultures in an effortless manner, while also showcasing queer characters, including badass trans woman! 

Even though this book doesn’t have a romance, this novel doesn’t fail to evoke the message of love. The love for family, including found family (one of my favorite aspects of the nobel as a whole!). The love for friends. The love for one’s country. The love for our roots. The love for where we came from and where we are today. It transmits fiery passion and shining hope. And it’s beautiful.

What is there left to say? Not much besides the fact that Amparo Ortiz has written one of the strongest and most solid debuts in recent years, and without a doubt, one of the best of 2020. With her descriptive writing, vivid setting, phenomenal and unique worldbuilding and magic system, a gripping storyline full of plot twists at every corner (global conspiracy! murder mystery!) that will make you turn pages non-stop, themes of identity, family, and friendship, and characters and dragons that shine so bright they jump out of the page, Blazewrath Games is a MUST-READ. It evokes that same emotion all the Puerto Rican fans expressed in the games, with their panderetas, güiros y tambores, screaming at the top of their lungs, PUERTO RICO! PUERTO RICO! (Just like Puerto Ricans make themselves seen and heard in real life at any and every sports event they attend around the world.)

This book makes me feel prouder than I already am of being Puerto Rican. It makes me wanna grab my flag and wave it wherever I go and step foot. And quite frankly, there’s no better feeling than that.

Rating: 5 stars ⭐️

Huge thank you to Amparo Ortiz and Page Street Publishing for providing me with a physical ARC of this book!

(This is in no way affected my review and all opinions are my own, as always. <3)
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All Lana wants to do is represent her home country of Puerto Rico in the Blazewrath games as a runner. When the wand shop she is visiting with her cousin, mother, and best friend is attacked, the head of the games offers her the position. Meanwhile, the Sire, a crazy dragon cursed into the form of a man is attacking sanctuaries with Lana's favorite former Blazewrath player Takeshi Endo, and the games are his next target, or are they? What is the Sire's true goal? How far will he go to get it, and what part will Lana play in all of this?
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I was sucked in by the first few scenes of this book but then felt as if the emotional connection with the MC started to waver--I didn't understand her motivations or intentions or sympathized with her enough to continue.
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