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

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.

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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)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Book Review

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

Goodreads Synopsis: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Commentary: I considered dropping this book, I really did. I really tried reading through this book and my mind kept wandering from start to finish. I have no idea how I finished either, but anyways, this book had a very good plot. I did not enjoy the author’s writing style, that was my main problem. I have to say that the book started to get interesting once I read past 100 pages or so. This story was told in multiple perspectives. The main protagonist is Blue Sargent that lives in a house full of physics, except she isn’t one. Instead, she is more like a battery and she helps the psychics get a better reading. Then there is also Gansey who is Blue’s true love and comes from a wealthy family. He doesn’t show off his wealth and luxuries, instead he prefers the supernatural and is on a quest to search for Glendower. I kept imagining a really huge Hugh Grant whenever I read Gansey’s perspective. What I appreciated about this book was that Blue didn’t immediately fall for Gansey, instead the book focused on their friendship. As a reader, it’s a given that Gansey and Blue will at some point develop romantic feelings for each other. It was interesting that Blue and Adam got together. I didn’t sense any chemistry between them; I felt that they should have been friends rather than be in a relationship. Blue kept rejecting his romantic advances (ex: Adam wanting to kiss her) even though she already knew that Gansey is her true love and not Adam. I’m not sure how it is going to be in the second book. Will it become a love triangle or not? I’m hoping that it won’t become a love triangle. I hope that Blue and Adam just break up without any drama. One of my favorite scenes from the book was discovering that Noah was a ghost. I had a feeling that there was something supernatural about him since I felt he was the least mentioned from the boys, and also because he would never talk about school with them. It was really sad knowing that he has been dead all along, and what is sadder is that none of his friends realized it. I like how it was revealed that his best friend at the time, Barrington Whelk, killed him in order to awaken the ley line, but it didn’t work. Barrington Whelk was wealthy when he was an Aglionby student until his family became broke. The best way to describe Whelk is that he is a man-child. He was spoiled and wanted to be rich again even if it meant sacrificing Noah. The sacrifice ritual did not work for him seven years prior to present. Once he discovered that Gansey was searching for the ley lines, he wanted attempt to awaken the ley lines again. I thought he was a perfect villain for the first book. He is the perfect representation of an Aglionby boy according to how Blue used to see them as. Ronan grew on me because at first I thought he was violent and had anger issues, and needed therapy, but later on its revealed that he cares deeply for his friends and would do anything for them. Now near the ending of the book had me shocked when he says to his friends that he pulled Chainsaw, the raven, from his dreams. What?! I wanted to know more about Ronan’s power, and hopefully there’s more to him in the second book. Lastly, there’s Adam. I liked him, I really did, but then towards the ending of the book I was like “Adam why?” I felt that he was the opposite of Whelk, Adam felt that he had to work hard in order to be successful. He was very prideful and stubborn to accept help coming from Gansey. There was so much going on the book that I can’t even describe it all in one review. It was creepy and scary, but I couldn’t get over how descriptive the author’s writing style was. I did like the plot, and I might continue reading this series just because there are still many unanswered questions such as what happened to Ronan’s father, does Blue’s father have psychic abilities, will Neeve return, what happens to Adam now that he has sacrificed his free will, and so on.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause: Book Review

At the heart of night

Watch for the lone boy

Waiting in the pale moon’s light

Eyes forever changing ice to cloud

Stars

Upon jaded jeans

Upon silver hair

Black leather shines

Half wild

Bewildered by time

Chained to the night

As he stalks

He might hear a sound

Shift into a moonbeam

And be gone.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Zoe is wary when, in the dead of night, the beautiful yet frightening Simon comes to her house.  Simon seems to understand the pain of loneliness and death and Zoe’s brooding thoughts of her dying mother.
Simon is one of the undead, a vampire, seeking revenge for the gruesome death of his mother three hundred years before.  Does Simon dare ask Zoe to help free him from this lifeless chase and its insufferable loneliness?

Commentary: When I was in high school, I thought this book was excellent, but I made the wrong choice by rereading it again. When I first read it, I loved Simon and hated how Zoe didn’t persuade Simon to stay with her. I wanted them to be together, and I was disappointed when I reached the end. Since rereading The Silver Kiss, I don’t like the author’s style of writing. I kept falling asleep and I felt that there was more description than dialogue. Zoe and Simon fell in love too quickly. I was not impressed by their relationship at all. Simon was practically stalking her before they started talking. The kiss scene did not impress me; I felt that it was too rushed. One moment the main protagonists are strangers, and the next moment they are lovers. I kept rolling my eyes whenever the protagonists longed for each other. I did like the antagonist, Christopher; he was Simon’s older brother. Simon has spent centuries trying to kill Christopher, but has failed several times. Zoe agrees to help him trap Christopher (the book started getting exciting at this part). Sadly, the fight between Simon and Christopher was not as epic as I was expecting. As I mentioned before, I hated the ending when I was younger, but now I ended up loving the ending. I loved how Simon saw no purpose to continue living once Christopher was gone. I loved how he ended up dying, which was staying up to see the sunrise with Zoe. Another scene that I loved was when Zoe’s mother told her to take care of herself and her father once she dies. I liked how Zoe accepted her mother and Simon’s fate. Is this book memorable? Not at all, it’s a fast read, but it is not entertaining as I thought it would be. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I felt that Twilight was better than the Silver Kiss. At least, she wasn’t begging Simon to become a vampire.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: Book Review

“The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he’d learned: that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”

Hello, I haven’t been posting much lately since I’ve been busy with school and work for most of January. I’ve read fewer books last month, and I hope for this month to read a bit more. My good friend, Imee, has been recommending me to read the Mortal Instruments series since she thought it was amazing. I remembered seeing the movie trailer and I thought it was going to be a great movie, until my younger sister said that it was horrible, and luckily, I did not watch the movie! On tumblr, I noticed how big the fandom is for this book series and the same goes for Clare’s prequel series, The Infernal Devices. Now, I was really stoked to begin this book, until I found out about the author herself. There were some stories about her that appalled me. Since reading into her life, it really ruined the reading experience for me. I tried to focus on the story since it is a best seller, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. For the first book, I thought it was okay, but I would continue reading the other books in the series because I feel that it might get better with time. And I hope that it does not end up like The Selection series, which could have been one book instead of three.

Goodreads Synposis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end. 

Characters: I really liked Simon, he was my favorite character from the story. I felt that he was very relatable and was adorable. He was a really good friend to Clary despite everything. I felt sad for him since it’s clear to see that he won’t end up with Clary. I felt bad for him when he tried to compete for her affection. I loved that he is both nerdy and at the same time, he kicks butt. My favorite scene had to be when he took down the demon with his archery skills! I liked Jace as well, he was really funny and I do like how he is frenemies with Simon. For some reason I kept picturing the actor, Lucas Till as Jace. I felt Clary was a bit boring for me, but I’d like to see how her character develops in further books. She was brave, but she felt a bit wimpy to me compared to the rest of the characters. I hope Simon and Isabelle get together. Isabelle was my favorite girl character. She’s sassy, she’s a warrior, and she always looks amazing!

Commentary: I hope that Jace is not Clary’s brother…I did not see that one coming. I do like Clary and Jace as a couple, I can’t see them as brother and sister. Gross…It did shock me that Valentine was the father of Clary. Again, didn’t see that one coming. I am excited to read the next novel, City of Ashes. I hope Clary gets trained to be shadowhunter in the next novel or at least recovers her memories. A bit of the book felt predictable, but nonetheless, it was enjoyable read despite finding out about the author’s life…

Final Rating: ✬✬✬ (3.5)