Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth LostAuthor: Zoraida Cordova

Website: zoraidacordova.com

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

“Zoraida Cordova’s prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic.” -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight

“Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine’s journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family.” -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper

“Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish.” -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.

overall feelings copy

I received Labyrinth Lost in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.

When it comes to young adult books, there is a lack of diversity when it comes to the main characters. I was so thrilled that I finally encountered a Hispanic, urban fantasy, young adult novel that not only has a diverse set of characters, but is also LGBT! Let me just say that the book community needs more diversity! I cannot stress that enough. Also, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month and Labyrinth Lost was the perfect choice for me, a Latina.

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Alex is a bruja who loathes her magic, and she is one of the most powerful brujas in her family, but she hides her magical abilities from everyone. Many say that it is a blessing, but not for Alex. Alex wants to live a normal life, but she hates the complications of having to live a double life of being a bruja and a teen. An event triggers Alex to use her magic, and she can no longer hide her magic from her family. Preparations start for Alex’s Deathday, which is similar to a quinceañera. Alex tries to get rid of her magic, and it all backfires on her. She instantly looses her family to another dimenison by using her magic.

Alex grew on me. I’ll admit it.  I didn’t like her early on, but the more I read, I noticed how much changed Alex for the better. She’s responsible and studious, and only wants a normal life. She doesn’t want to be seen as a freak in school and tries her best to conceal her magical ability. She learns to become powerful from the event she faces, especially when she crosses to Los Lagos. Alex does whatever it takes to save her family. She wants to redeem herself from her mistakes. On the journey she learns to accept her fate, and she becomes far more wiser because of it.

Moving on to the love triangle. Alex is best friends with Rishi, and has romantic feelings for her. Rishi has no idea that Alex is a bruja. Rishi is makes Alex feel comfortable and safe. There is also Nova, a brujo, who has a love-hate relationship with Alex.  Nova is the opposite of safe. He’s somewhat of a bad boy. What I loved is how the love triangle reminded of Pearl and Greg from Steven Universe.

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I loved how Rishi and Nova didn’t get along at all. They seemed to be competing over Alex which I loved. Personally, I preferred Rishi over Nova, but that’s just me.

One of the best aspects of the book is not the romance, but the love Alex has for her family. I loved how Alex’s family plays a huge role in her life. They weren’t just background characters. Throughout Alex’s whole journey, they helped her in any way they could. I loved how all the women in Alex’s family were strong. Especially the part where Alex was speaking to her dead great-grandmother. Also, may I just say that Alex’s family was very accepting and forgiving.

Reasons to read Labyrinth Lost:

  • Diversity. Diversity. Diversity.
  • LGBT
  • Brujas
  • Awesome mythology
  • Good character arcs
  • Strong female characters
  • Fantastical creatures

As for the whole journey, I loved it. Labyrinth Lost reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and Pan’s Labyrinth. A perfect spooky package. If possible, I would love this book to get adapted into a movie, preferably an animated movie. I had high expectations for Labyrinth Lost and I was so pleased that I loved the book. It has a special place in my heart, and this is the book that has helped me get out of my book slump! This book is ideal to read for Halloween and Hispanic Heritage Month!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Book Review

“The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

Goodreads Synopsis: MARE BARROW’S WORLD IS DIVIDED BY BLOOD—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except… her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

Commentary: I read many great reviews about Red Queen, and how amazing it is. it took me a while to get into the book. I felt that it was a tad overhyped. It reminded me of Shin Sekai Yori because there are two classes of people: ones with power and the other slaves.This book did remind me of X-Men since the Silvers have godlike powers. Mare Barrow, what can I say? There were moments many moments in the book where i wanted to slap her. She complained way too much and was jealous of her younger sister. I guess the author tried to make Mare seem like a strong female character, but I didn’t get that vibe from her. She had a destructive personality and was pretty selfish, but there were some moments were I was rooting for her. I really like her power of lightening! The beginning was a bit slow for me, most of the time I was wondering how would Mare get her powers. I liked how Mare’s ability activated when she was about to die during the Queenstrial contest. I found it funny how Mare just wanted to go back home, and the royals were like “You have to change your identity and live with us. You are now Mareena Titanos, whether you like it or not. And oh, by the way, you’re going to marry the younger prince. Your old life was awful, but not anymore! Congratulations. You’re welcome.” I knew that she was going to join the rebels and spy on the Silvers. But, I can’t see Mare being the key figure to the rebellion. There are more Reds with special abilities, I hope someone else can represent the rebellion.  She wasn’t the best female protagonist, nor the worst, just a little below average.  My heart is broken. Maven, oh Maven.  I thought that Maven was the right guy for Mare, while Cal was not. I hated how the author made Maven so likable while Cal was not. I hate how you seemed caring, thoughtful, and honest, but you used Mare as a pawn. Most of all, I hate how malicious you became Maven. I was rooting for Maven until he betrayed Mare. I don’t know how to feel anymore. This whole time, I thought he wanted change his society and help the the Scarlet Guard. Nope, he had other plans. I don’t like Maven now and I have some trust issues with Cal. Maven sort of reminded me of the Darkling from the Grisha series, but not he’s not as cool as him because Maven is a mama’s boy. (Darkling > Maven 😌). Now, Kilorn, Mare’s best friend, was irrelevant to me. He likes her, but she only sees him as a friend. I’m glad that he author did not include any romantic moments between Mare and him. Though the guys love Mare, there wasn’t much romance in this book. I really couldn’t trust anyone in this story. The twist, I wasn’t expecting that.  Didn’t think the king would die, didn’t expect Cal to be the “good guy”, and I definitely didn’t expect Shade to be alive. Anyone can betray anyone. The book was quite a fast read. By the time I finished, I wanted more. I hope the sequel in this trilogy explains how the Silvers came into power.

Quotes: 

“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.”

“Rise, red as the dawn.”

“Do you, Prince? Do you understand what it’s like to be taken away from everything you love, forced to be something else? To lie every minute of every day for the rest of your life. To know there’s something wrong with you?

Final Rating: 👑👑👑

The One by Kiera Cass: Book Review

“Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like. It was only ever yours to break anyway.”

First of all, I have to applaud myself for finally completing the Selection trilogy. I finally decided to try audible, and chose this book to be my free book. I am glad that I saved myself from actually reading it. Anyways, here is my review!

Goodreads Synopsis:

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

Commentary: This book series had great synopsis, but I don’t think it was executed well. I really felt that there was no point of expanding the novel into a series. It could have been really good as a stand alone book. I see how many people love this book series, but I really felt this series was meh. But, it did have beautiful covers, I’m not going to lie. The final installment of the series was definitely better than the second book. I felt that America was a bit stronger in this book, but just as annoying like in in the second book. I did roll my eyes several times, especially when she realized that she wants Aspen in her life despite loving Maxon. You can’t have both guys America. Anyways, the book did get a bit more interesting since America and Maxon teamed up with the northern rebels. Celeste had the best character development. She is introduced as the Queen Bee of this story, but her fragility is exposed in the last book. I thought it was cute how she and America finally became friends, but I was not expecting her graphic death when the rebels attack. I was sad that she died, she was one of my favorite selection candidate. I didn’t really care for the other girls as much as Celeste. It did surprise me that Chris and America’s father were part of the northern rebels. I did not see that one coming. I had a feeling that Lucy liked Aspen, I was glad that those two ended up together, but I did feel sorry for her other maid Anne and it surprised me that she died as well. When the king was pronounced dead, I was so glad. He was the only character that I found very unlikable. I saw him as the villain of the book. I just don’t understand how Queen Amberly put up with him. He was very abusive to Maxon too! The king just had problems, so I was glad to know he died. I knew that America was going to wait till the end to finally tell Maxon about Aspen. Maxon knew that there was something strange between America and Aspen, and his feelings were confirmed when he caught them in the hallway. In the end, Maxon forgave her when the rebels attacked. Maxon was my favorite character that’s why I kept reading this series, just for him. i felt Aspen was too boring, and America was too indecisive, shallow, and many other things. I did like the ending of the book, and I am sort of considering reading The Heir just to see what happens. I just don’t understand why there will be more books.

Final Rating: 👑👑👑 (3.5)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Book Review

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”

Goodreads Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

 Characters: I have to say that I did not like Alina when I started the book. I felt she was a bit annoying, that was until she was taken to the Little Palace. I have to say that I liked how strong she became and how she was determined to become powerful and useful to the Darkling. Though the Darkling is the villain of the story, I did feel that he and Alina had chemistry together, though he was just seducing her. I was beyond shocked when the real intentions of the Darkling were revealed. I really liked them together, but not as much as Alina and Mal. Now Mal, I liked his character development. I really did not think that Mal was going to win me over. He was introduced as this Don Juan type of guy who was extremely popular with everyone and I was feeling meh about him especially since he did not write back to Alina. But when he comes back into Alina’s life, I was far more intrigued. His confession to her was so sweet, and it was in that moment where he won my heart. Usually, I don’t like the love triangles, but I thought this one was very interesting. I loved the Darkling; I can’t seem to hate him despite being a villain. The secondary characters were interesting, I really liked Genya, and I wonder if she will become stronger in the second book.

Commentary: I kept seeing great reviews coming from this book series on both Tumblr. I haven’t read any books on Russian fantasy, so it was a very interesting to see how the author created this magical realm. I kept picturing the Little Palace as a boarding school. I loved the ball scene when Alina and the Darkling perform in front of the royals. Morozova’s stag reminded me of the deer from Princess Mononoke, even the death scene (maybe it’s just me). Near the ending of the book, I had no idea what was going to happen to Alina and Mal. I did not want Mal to die, and luckily he didn’t! I had no idea how Alina and Mal were going to escape the Darkling’s clutches when they were in the Fold, but that whole scene was amazing. I kept picturing Alina surrounded by beautiful light rescuing the guy she loves, that was my favorite part. I loved how Alina realizes that she has the power to break free from the Darkling. I did have a few problems with the book and that was some of the words. I wish the author had put a glossary in the back of the book just so I can easily look up the meaning of the words. Some parts did feel a little cliché, but those were just minor problems. I am really glad that this book met my expectations and I can’t wait to finish this series. Lastly, I read that this series will get a movie adaptation; I hope that when the movie comes to theaters, it does not flop, but instead satisfy fans of this series.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Selection by Kiera Cass: Book Review

Hello readers, I’ve just finished reading The Selection by Kiera Cass. My really good friend Imee recommended me this book! There are going to be spoilers!

 Goodreads synopsis:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete in for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Commentary: Prince Maxon was my favorite character in the novel. He was lovable, sweet, and very kind to all around him. He was definitely a Prince Charming, he treats all of the selected like a true gentleman. I really had my doubts about Maxon at the beginning of the novel since I thought he was shallow for wanting a Selection, but once I read about his motive to why he wanted one, I thought it was rather sweet. I had a feeling that he had fallen for the protagonist from early on, so I wasn’t surprised that he chose her for the elite. He’s been so kind and romantic to America, though she kept insisting that they stay just friends.

I felt America was an okay protagonist; she wasn’t the greatest nor the worst. I did find Prince Maxon to be the second guy in the novel because America was in a relationship with Aspen from the start of the novel. I did not find the love triangle annoying…yet. I felt that her feelings were indeed very much conflicted for both men. She was in love with Aspen for two years; of course it’s not going to be an easy process to get over him once she was in the contest. I liked the pacing of the book. I am glad that she did not fall in love with the Maxon immediately. Though, I did feel that she jumped to conclusions very quickly. For example, when America spotted Aspen holding the hand of another girl, she quickly believed that he had moved on to another girl after he broke up with her, and luckily, she listened to him once he became a palace guard. But, I really liked that she is humble and did not have to change herself in order to get the prince to like her. She stayed true to herself and her motives are good since her family gets paid in checks because she is in the Selection. She thinks of her family a lot more than herself.

I liked Aspen; I couldn’t hate him because he was so good to America with the little he had. I felt that he had her best interest in mind and he never wanted her to suffer like himself. His caste number was six and America’s was five, he did not want her to live in poverty. He knew that he had to break up with her in other for her to have a better life. He’s a hard worker, sacrificial, and willing to make America happy no matter what. When he spoke of the draft, I did not expect him to become a palace guard. Near the end of the book, he tells America that he still loves her. I was a bit sadden that I know that America will end up choosing Maxon over him.

Celeste had to be the most interesting selected because she started drama and was ambitious. She was the typical mean girl who wanted the prince from the beginning. The royals had no idea that she was cruel to the other girls since she concealed her personality very well. Marlee, is America’s friend in the Selection, and she is the favorite selected of the people. I just want to know why she is in the contest if she does not like Maxon. I had a feeling there was something mysterious about her.

I wasn’t a big fan of the writing. When I was reading the novel, I felt it was more like a fan fiction. I felt that there was more description and not enough dialogue. I was disappointed that the girls did not really have to compete with each other. What I mean to say is that, I felt that the girls were just there. I thought there were going to be contests to win dates, not just lessons on royalty. I wished that the author would have described the relevant girls more. I really felt that there was focus on only four girls: Kris, Marlee, America, and Celeste. Hopefully in the sequel, the author writes more about the six chosen girls left remaining. I was a bit shocked that the prince eliminated so many girls after the rebel attacked the palace. I hope that there is more information about why the Kingdom of Illea has enemies. So far, there are two rebel groups, the Northerners and the Southerners. The Northerners raid the palace more, but are seeking an object or weapon (it has not been revealed yet), while the Southerners are more brutal and violent. I forgot to mention that the book is supposed to be a dystopian. I heard some people call it Hunger Games meets the Bachelor, but I feel its more like the Bachelor because the girls aren’t forced to kill one another like the Hunger Games. Besides, America singer is no Katniss nor a political symbol to overthrow the government. Somehow this book did remind me of Cinderella in a way. Girl goes from poverty and wins the heart of the prince, basically Cinderella. Lastly, I hope the author explains why there are caste systems, and how they were formed. I’m pretty positive that America be the one to win the Selection competition. I’m still going to finish the trilogy, and luckily I’ve stayed away from spoilers on Tumblr. The book is a bit predictable, but I was entertained nonetheless and I can’t wait to read The Elite.

Final Rating: 👑👑👑