ARC: Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

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goodreads-synopsis

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…commentary

**Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for giving me an e-book copy of the book for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

In Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Witches series, Alex was the original protagonist. The black sheep of the family due to not having magic like her sisters. After the events of the first book, the point of view shifts to Lula Mortiz, the eldest sister of the family. In Labyrinth Lost, Lula was a confident witch with healing powers, but she undergoes a transformation in which she “loses” herself. Though this book deals with Lula, I love the maturity Alex gained from her experiences with Los Lagos. She seems more mature than the previous book. It is a shame that this book did not include a lot of Alex and Rishi moments.

As much as I loved Labyrinth Lost, I completely fell in love with Bruja Born. This book is about the process of healing for Lula because of her scars, both mentally and emotionally. Lula has found herself in a dark place, and only she can get herself. What I loved about this book is that Lula had an encouraging support system of her sisters and family that loved her even when she didn’t feel like herself. This is a beautiful journey of self discovery especially after losing her dearest boyfriend and the events of Los Lagos. Lula no longer feels joy and her connection to magic has severely changed. She is also learning to adjust to having her father back into her life after disappearing for many years. What I really loved about Lula is that she was raw, emotional, and mostly flawed. The author does not present a special snowflake, but rather someone relatable. It’s refreshing to read about realistic characters rather than Mary Sue type characters. She makes a lot of mistakes, along the way, but it serves to improve herself for the best. I could relate to Lula’s experiences of re-experiencing self love. The author portrayed Lula’s emptiness so realistically despite being a work of fiction.

One of my favorite lines in the book. This shows the sass and the protection Lula has for her sister Alex:

You really think I’m going to betray my sister for you? Boy, bye.

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Though the setting takes place in Brooklyn, magic plays a heavy element to this sequel. New lore is introduced in this urban fantasy such as casi muertos (neither living or completely dead, somewhere in between. Others would say they are similar to zombies), vampires, and witch hunters. Magic is always has a price. Lula learns this the hard way. Resurrecting the dead is not possible, even with Lula’s healing magic. She gains a new ability, but pays the ultimate price. The stakes are really high in this book. I loved the action scenes, and the magical alliance between different magical folks. This book presented a showdown and really delivered! I really hope that the author continues this series. I would love to see the Mortiz sisters once again. And I hope that Rose gets a perspective too!

Rating: 4.5

Mini Book Reviews: Graphic Novels Edition

HeathenSynopsis: Heathen Volume One collects the first four issues of the acclaimed fantasy series from creator Natasha Alterici. Aydis is a young Viking woman, who after being banished from her home, sets out on a mission to right the wrongs of a corrupt god. Her first move is to find and free the cursed Valkyrie Brynhild. Gods, demons, and creatures of lore, Heathen is packed with fun intriguing characters and lavish artwork. The trade features an oil painting cover, cover gallery, and a forward by award winning lesbian fiction author Geonn Cannon.

Commentary:

Warriors don’t fight for themselves, they fight for those who cannot fight on their own.

When I first read Heathen, I did expect myself to fall completley in love with the story. I got this book from Netgalley when I was randomly looking for comics. This is a tale about Adysis, a viking woman set on a journey. The artwork is beautiful, and it is easy to get immersed into the world. Adyis is courageous, living in a patriarchal village in which she does not follow the norms of women. Adyis is a rebel in her own right, and the storyteller of this book. I love how Adyis converses with the Gods and acts like it’s not a big deal. She is not frighten by the power they hold over the world. She remains true to herself and her beliefs, despite encountering many challenges along the way. Although Adysis is the main protagonist, the story is told in two persepctives. Brynhild was cursed and released by Adyis, and she is forced on a journey to save Adyis. You learn that the gods are not to be trusted, especially Odin. Honestly, I love the diversity of this viking lesbian comic. For only 4 chapters in this volume, it is packed with mythology and diversity. I cannot wait for the second volume of Heathen!

 taproot.jpgSynopsis: Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him.

Commentary: I may have been watching a lot of Voltron lately, but Blue and Hamal remind me of Hunk and Lance. I could not unsee it with the character designs.

As for the story, Taproot is about a gardener and a ghost falling in love with each other. This is a story about growth between two male protagonists who live in a divided world. I found that Blue and Hamal did balance each other out. The story was quite interesting, and there some elements of creepiness. Though, I don’t want to spoil Taproot, I felt it ended far too shortly. The second half of the book felt like an extra story rather than belonging to the plot. The artwork was definitely my favorite. A quick and easy read, though I wish the story were longer.

Joyride Synopsis: Earth sucks.
The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the World Government Alliance watching over them. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first, leaps before she looks, and is desperate for any means to leave her planet behind. And so she does. When Uma jacks an alien spaceship and punches through the stratosphere she sets forth on an adventure with an unlikely crew who are totally not ready for all the good, bad, and weird the universe will throw at them.
From writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Batman and Robin EternalGrayson) and artist Marcus To (NightwingNew Avengers), Joyride is a rebellious love letter to the sci-fi genre, exploring what happens when nothing stands between a group of teens and their freedom amongst the stars.

Commentary: Confined to Earth, Uma seeks adventure and freedom away from the strict rules enforced on Earth. Uma is the leader of this misadventure in space. Uma seeks thrill and excitement. She brings along her close friend Dewydd and Catrin is forced to tag along in this space adventure. The adventure unites the characters despite coming from different social and economical bacgrounds. Uma is the leader of the group and captain of her crew, because she is the one who planned the adventure. Overall, this comic does reveal background information of all three characters. Uma loved her life prior to the takeover, and she idolized her mother. Dewydd is the youngest in his family, and his older brother overshadows Dewydd and his accomplishments. Catrin is overall a badass, and she is not your stereoytpical princess. As I mentioned, the story is fast paced, and I would have liked to seen more explorations of different worlds for this first novel. I really liked Catrin because of her relatable grumpy mood, but makes an excellent friend. I loved how carefree and fun loving Uma is despite consequences. I like the one sided love that Dewydd has for Uma. Overall, this first volume was a fun volume and I hope the following volume allows for more character growth. It does remind me of a teen version of Guardians of the Galaxy. For the following volume, I hope that the stakes are higher. The third chapter of Joyride is my favorite because you learn the background stories of Uma and Catrin.

ladystuffSynopsis: A collection of Loryn Brantz’s vibrant and relatable Jellybean Comics about her everyday experiences as a lady 

Home manicure tips, awkward seduction techniques, scoping out the snack table, and—most important—prioritizing naps: Lady Stuff reveals these womanly secrets and more. In sections like “Grooming and Habitat Maintenance,” “Mating Habits,” and others, these brightly colored, adorable comics find the humor in the awkwardness of simply existing.

Like the work of Sarah Andersen, Gemma Correll, and Allie Brosh, Loryn Brantz’s Jellybean Comics are accessible and funny; lighthearted takes on the author’s everyday experiences and struggles being a woman.

Commentary: I’ve seen Loryn Brantz’s comics used by Buzzfeed. Most of the work included in this short book has been used by Buzzfeed. I was hoping for new material. The comics are okay for me. If I were a consumer, this comic book would not be the one for me. If it had contained new material, I would have rated this book higher. Unfortunately, this book didn’t make me laugh. It was average to say the least. This book is not about womanly secrets. It’s not relatable. For one thing, this humor is beyond awkward. I was getting second hand embarrassment from reading this. I know that I’ve mentioned Buzzfeed, but this feels like reading Buzzfeed the Book if one were to catergorize this.

ARC: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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goodreads-synopsis

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

commentaryHey guys, it has been nearly a year since I last wrote a book review. Sounds crazy? I know. I’ve been busy with my undergrad education and I occasionally read on the side, but didn’t have enough time to read as I used to. My finals are over, and I am attempting my first book review of the year. I have been reading a lot more, and felt inspired to write once again.

My good friend had an extra copy of Furyborn by Claire Legrand that she recieved in the Fairyloot Novemeber 2017 box. I traded her a couple books for it because I was highly looking forward to reading Furyborn. For my list of 2018 books, Furyborn was high on my list. I took Furyborn to the Philippines spring break vacation, but I never managed to pick it up. Returning to the States, and readjusting to my school schedule, I manange to find time to read Furyborn.

Darn it! I was hoping that Furyborn was going to have a lot of action and kickass female protagonists, but I am highly disappointed with what I read. Actually, extremely disappointed. I wanted to drop the book so badly.

What went wrong? Despite the prologue being the best written chapter in the book, it gave so many spoilers away! Especially concerning Rielle. The book is about two prophecized queens. One queen is told to bring destruction, whereas the other queen is the opposite. The prologue lets the reader know that Rielle is the Blood Queen. I wanted some buildup to this story. It sucks that as a reader, you know that Rielle becomes the queen to bring destruction to the world. In addition, the prologue gave away the connection Rielle has with Eliana despite the two characters living in two different time periods.

Which storyline was better? In Furyborn, there are two storylines to follow. One is Rielle and the past events that led to the decline of magic. She undergoes trials to prove that she is the Sun Queen, but you would already know that she becomes the Blood Queen. Reading her chapters were a bit frustrating because you know the fate of Rielle. You know that she will pass the trials and betray her people. I wanted to skip her chapters. Finally, the villain was revealed in the prologue! THERE WAS NO BUILDUP TO THIS STORY.  When it comes to Rielle, she is easily manipulated by those around her. She has the ability of all 7 powers in her kingdom. When Rielle starts hearing voices, she accepts doesn’t question it! Rielle converses with the voice in her head that happens to be a guy who she doesn’t know. Instead of worrying about her mental state, she falls in love with the voice…and converses with her new voice…and seeks advice from this voice…never having met this person….ugh. The story presents a frustrating love triangle in which Rielle is stuck between loving her childhood friend Prince Audric, and the voice in her head, Corien…I hated this love triangle so badly. 

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When it comes to Eliana’s pov, she was a frustrating character as well. She is known as The Dread of Orline. Eliana is supposed to be a badass assassin, but the story presents a character with wishy washy mentality. It was hard understanding the plot of Eliana’s chapters. I can’t take Eliana seriously. At least, I was spared from reading about a tedious love triangle. But once again, this story is filled with insta-love. The guy characters are not well developed. Prince Audric was okay. He was understanding of Rielle, and never questioned her motives. As for Simon, you find out who he is in the prologue as well. I would have placed the prologue near the end of the book to have a shocking revelation, but I guess that there is more to be told about Rielle later on in the series…

What Furyborn lack was introducing the folklore of the land. Angels are the villains of the book, and they have been locked behind a gate. But you don’t know what they did? This book hardly mentions the mythology, which would have been a great addition. I would have rated this book higher if I need more details about the angels. As for the magic system, everyone gets their power from the empirium, which is not explained. I’ll assume its an omnipresent power activator or a god that existed in the world. Where was the world buidling in this book? The stakes were high, but I did not find myself attached to the charactesrs.  Furyborn was a hot mess for me, and it is such as shame. The cover is gorgeous, the synoposis sounded amazing, but the delivery was not there. As for other books in the series, I might check out the following book to see what happens. Hopefully the author improves the story, but you can only hope.

So what has happened?

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Hello everyone,

I know that I have not posted since August. I am taking my upper division courses in University, and it’s been tough for me to update my blog. At the moment, I am committed to finishing my undergrad degree. I hope to update with information here and there. I am more active on my bookstgram/studygram account on instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/thereadingbelle/

I have missed the book community, and I miss reading for fun! Honestly, I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I last posted on my blog.

Anyways, I hope to update with pictures from my Philippines trip and book reviews. I haven’t created a schedule yet, but I hope on trying to balance my blog. I wan to start anew on my blog. Let’s see what will happen, but for now I can say:

I missed blogging, reading book reviews, and most of all, connecting with others fellow book worms. Have a wonderful day!

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