Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2019

Morning, bloggers!

Was August good to you, or are you done with summer? Either way, I’m a little sad to see it go. It wasn’t the most emotionally exciting for me (stress likes to ruin the mood), but I had a few good days though. I attended my first HarperCollins Canada Frenzy Presents, which was a big step for my blog. And I met so many great Canadian bloggers. And I went to my third FanExpo.

With everything else in my life, I’ve been steadily raising my Goodreads Challenge and getting out of the red. But I’m rather freaked out over my September TBR list. I think the new month will be a killer!

So let’s get to the post, yes?

Enjoy the read!

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Review | Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: February 12, 2019

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Page Count: 416

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town’s only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson and falling in love in less than the year that she’s lived there. Yet even she didn’t think it would be possible for an outsider to find and cause trouble in the town she’s come to call home.

When a US Marshal shows up in town demanding the release of one of the residents, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Dalton, are skeptical. But then, only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only visible suspects are the townspeople and her estranged sister, in town for just the weekend. It’s up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why they would kill to keep him quiet.


“The Yukon isn’t an easy place to live—with long, dark winters that never seem to end—but it is a place that people choose. A place that seduces. I don’t need my sister to be seduced, but I want her to see the magic.”

As a series expands, sometimes you aren’t sure if you’ll stick with it, or you’ll fall out of love with it. The Rockton series is one that will always deserve its spot on my bookshelf. I’ve stayed with it from almost the beginning. Each new sequel reminds me of the spark I found when I first discovered Rockton. And Kelley’s writing only improves with every novel. So for the author’s dedicated following, Watcher in the Woods will be a treat for them.

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Monthly Wrap-Up | March 2019

Morning, bloggers!

Have you ever had a month where your blog went great, but everything else in your life, particularly reading, just stalled? That’s how I explain my March.

Mom started her treatments, and my thrill in anything has kind of died. But I’m fighting to get back to where I was, even though it’s a daily battle. So life may have been a downer, but my blog kept me fighting. And I have to thank you all for the support. You don’t understand how much I need that right now.

So even though the month was slow, I’m glad I discovered fantastic reads. Hopefully, April is a better month for us all. Now let’s get to this post.

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Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2018

 

Morning, everyone!

How is it the first week of October?! I’m trying to wrap my mind around that. But then again, I’m excited for Halloween to come, so I don’t care. 😂

The first half of September went great. I thought I’d breeze through my TBR pile, and then the dreaded reading slump hit me quicker than I thought was possible. I’m surprised I could finish three books. Don’t you hate when it comes out of nowhere? I just hope Wildcard gets me out of it.

Anyways, let’s get to the post, yes?

Remind me how to complete an actual reading challenge. I failed horribly with my attempt to do Kathy’s Sequel September. 😅 In addition to these ones, I wanted to read three more books, but I couldn’t do it.

Lifel1ke by Jay Kristoff

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Please don’t judge me. Lifel1k3 is the first book from Kristoff I’ve ever read. AND I REGRET EVERYTHING. Now, I’m a follower. I’ll sacrifice my life’s blood to get more of his books. I don’t care.

Imagine Romeo and Juliet set in a post-apocalyptic world where androids show more humanity than some humans. Well, some androids. It wouldn’t be a Kristoff book without mass murder by androids. It’s one of my favourite reads of this year!

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Let me remind everyone that I am Catwoman trash. Okay, I’m also Maas trash as well, so this book works out quite well for me. The DC Icons series is getting better with each addition. I love how Maas brings a human touch to the always tough Catwoman and shows us her weaknesses along the way. If you’re looking for some Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn action, I highly recommend.

 

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️¾

I wanted to love this prequel. I did. But I struggled hard with it. It took me two weeks to finish reading it. And while I enjoyed it, I didn’t fall in love with it. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset. But the Sam and Celaena scenes will haunt me to my dying days. Review will come shortly!


Naturally, I do better buying books than reading them. Indigo Teen sent me over Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury. Thank you, Indigo! Finally, I got some hotly anticipated sequels I’ve been wanting to get my hands onto! I need to catch up on my TBR list. I cannot wait to get to this beauties!

 

So how was your month? Have you completed any reading challenges? What was your must-have book for September? Let’s chat. I’d love to catch up!

Review | A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 272

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.


“Stars flickered around us, sweet darkness sweeping in. As if we were the only souls in a galaxy.”

You all know I love the ACOTAR series. I cannot get enough of it, so when I heard Sarah is expanding this world, I haven’t been that giddy for such a long time. So if you’re a dedicated fan like me, A Court of Frost and Starlight is on your most anticipated books of 2018.

I wasn’t expecting huge revelations in ACOFAS, but I hoped for more spunk and spark displayed in her previous books. This novella is more toned down. But again, my expectations shouldn’t be high. But they are, and that is where I’m conflicted with this book. The story takes place six months after the war. The Night Court is still healing. Scars and destruction cling to all the courts. So when the Winter Solstice arrives, Feyre and her family are determined to celebrate it.

This character-driven novella is beautifully written. And I easily fall into this world. I adored reading the lighthearted scenes. And Sarah opens up and gives you heartwarming glimpses of characters you’ve grown to cherish. The four aspects that make ACOFAS such a memorable story are the storytelling, character developments, personal healing, and Nesta.

Yes, Nesta. Her growth will shock you as it does me. And while some readers may say she doesn’t deserve Cassian, somehow their pain, anger, and strength complement each other. And let’s be honest: I ship Nessian. I haven’t shipped a couple this hard before (other than Feysand). I had an inkling that Sarah might take Nesta down this path. This author somehow perfectly demonstrates the human condition. She weaves together these complex emotions into layered characters arcs I haven’t seen before. So I’m dying to see how Nesta lets Cass in and allows herself to move past her agony. Or I will riot.

Now onto my number one OTP: Feysand. I hear the collective sigh and squees from here. Yes, I came for the smut, but I stayed for the love. Do you know much much I adore and envy their relationship?! I’ve been rooting for them since ACOTAR (even though the word mate is excessive), and finally, they get their future. Cue the ugly crying! And while their past still haunts them, they somehow grow stronger. This book is a perfect ending to their story.

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a tale of healing, love, ghosts, and pain. It reminds you why you keep coming back to the ACOTAR series. And while I didn’t enjoy the pace and some other scenes, I wouldn’t give us this series for another.

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge

 

Deadly Sweet (Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

Published by: Ink Monster LLC

Publication date: January 16, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Page Count: 270

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars!

Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter.

Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl.
The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target.
If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?


I’ve received an eARC for an unbiased and honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author/publisher for providing the eARC.

 

With a cup of sugar and a heavy dose of magic, Deadly Sweet will entice your inner sweet tooth. So get your sweatpants and your candy ready. You’re in for a fun and delicious time.

Anise Wise lives in a world where society knows of the supernatural world, and no one will accept her because she’s a witch. She finally gets her chance to prove herself when her great aunt offers her a chance to be an apprentice at the bakery in Taos, New Mexico. But as she settles in, her life is threatened by an unknown force. And her dream of becoming a baker may just have a higher price than her she thought: her life.

I’m not surprised to learn that the author is a baker herself. From the first chapter, you see the passion Lola has for not only her writing but also her baking. She makes me want to find the nearest bakery and splurge on sweet delights. Deadly Sweet is an easy and entertaining read. Lola weaves together both magic and baking and creates an interesting beginning to her new urban fantasy series, the Spellwork Syndicate.

Witch-centred series can go either way: strong women guiding the next generation or power-hungry ones who refuse to bend. I can see the start of the former. I love the matriarchy in this book. It’s a refreshing feeling to see woman supporting and protecting other women and girls. And that aspect to the book builds a solid foundation for this series. You don’t see women insulting others. They are there to protect, love, support, and grow together. More importantly, they are a family. And you can’t imagine how happy I was when Anise first arrives.

Lola presents appealing characters who are growing into their own. You see their strengths, weaknesses, and fears. Anise is a strong-willed witch who isn’t afraid to walk into danger. But this strength has a downfall though. She often doesn’t see that danger until it threatens her life and others around her. She needs some developing, but she is a relatable and, dare I say, an authentic character who wants to find who she is.

The first instalment in this series has a touch of mystery to it. You go along with Anise as she finds out who is out to get her. And even if the antagonist is predictable and not strongly developed, I enjoyed reading her story. I was hoping for more world building. There are too many unanswered questions. And while the author’s world is engaging, I wanted a bit more from this paranormal life.

If you’re looking for an engaging witch story and craving your next cupcake, Deadly Sweet will entertain you. I’m interested to see where Anise goes from here.


Author’s Bio

Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.

Author’s Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 


Giveaway

This giveaway is a tad different from other book tours. In this one, you get the chance to win a a Deadly Sweet prize pack and a Treat House 12 pack. If you’re looking for yummy treats, ENTER HERE.

 


Tour Schedule

Don’t miss out on this tour. Check out the other reviews and posts here:

January 15th
Kindle and Me >> Guest post
It’s a Book Life >> Review
Belle’s Book Blog >> Review
Stuffed Shelves >> Review

January 16th
Butterfly-o-Meter Books >> Guest post
Book Reviews Express >> Review
Novels & Necklaces >> Review
Adventures in Writing >> Review

January 17th
Girls With Books >> Excerpt
Movies, Shows, & Books >> Review
Novelties >> Review
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Sincerely Karen Jo >> Review

January 18th
Booker T’s Farm: Books & Nails & Puppy Dog Tales >> Review
Whatever You Can Still Betray >> Excerpt
Bibliobibuli YA >> Guest post
Rabid Reads >> Interview
Touch My Spine Book Reviews >> Review

January 19th
The Avid Reader >> Review
A British Bookworm’s Blog >> Review
Desert Rose Reviews >> Review
Dani Reviews Things >> Interview
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Review

 

Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Published by: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Page Count: 556

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.


“There are many dangerous people in this world. but there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that. So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better.”

Imagine that the X-Men have won, supernaturals reign, and humans no longer control the world governments. Now, throw in political intrigue and mystery, compelling characters, and a solid world-building, then you have Renegades.

Renegades, human prodigies with supernatural abilities, rise from the ashes of a ruined society after they dethrone the Anarchists, who previously ruled. When these villains find a chance to destroy the Renegades, they send in Nova Artino, who wants nothing more than to avenge her family. But loyalties are tested when she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy.

Renegades is my first book written by Marissa. I’ve heard a lot about her Lunar Chronicles series and even bought most of it on a whim. I enjoyed reading this book, and it contains some interesting themes, which I loved, and character conflicts that will surely hook you in. But I can’t quite bump up my rating. I took a long time reading it, and I usually finish a book within a week. However, more than a month has passed since I’ve cracked open Renegades. At this point, I’m a bit disappointed with some scenes, but not the book though.

Clearly, the X-Men series inspired Marissa. You have a prodigy who steals another person’s powers (sound familiar?). Yes, undoubtedly, it’s hard not to see the similarities. However, she introduces new supernatural abilities, like ones Adrian possesses (and no, I won’t spoil you there). The nerd in me groaned at some Renegades and their powers. However, I loved the characters. Nova lost her family when she was young, and she builds quite an impressive hatred for the Renegades, who didn’t save them. Her anger and growth make the story complex. Adrian is the exact opposite. While he lost his mother and wants to find the murderer, he shines with justice.

Even though I found character dialogue and fighting scenes lacking, Renegades is a solid and refreshing play on the fantasy and sci-fi front. The characters, their inner battles, and their development and history stand out the most. Additionally, how Marisa represents diversity also adds to the story. All these qualities are what kept me reading.

Marissa’s world-building will delight new readers and her dedicated following. I was curious to see how she might craft this unique universe. And since the Renegades series is a duology, I was hesitant, not quite sure what she can pull off. But she does so naturally. I wanted to delve into this dark, gritty, and healing world, where the minorities are the rulers, not the humans. And the politics will also intrigue any sci-fi and fantasy lover looking for intricate storytelling.

If you’re a Marissa fan or are looking for something new, Renegades is your next read. I’m eager to see how she wraps up this new series.

 

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Published by: McElderry Books

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 701

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.


“We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”

I went into this book thinking that the storyline will eventually go dark. And it does. But what I expected does not compare to what I got. The second instalment in the Dark Artifices, Lord of Shadows will shatter your expectations, divide the already fractured Shadowhunter world, make you ugly cry, and change the Downworld forever.

Even though Emma Carstairs has slain her parents’ murderer, she faces a more troubling situation: the love she has for her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn. A love that’s forbidden to all parabatais. But as she dates Mark so she can convince Julian she doesn’t love him, the faerie courts stir up trouble. Mark, Julian, Emma, Christina, and the rest of the Blackthorn family race to find a way to protect their own and hope to prevent a war among all Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

I raged, I yelled, and I cried once I finished this book. I saw the heartache weave through each page and path these characters take, and yet I’m so conflicted! And I have a hard time rating Lord of Shadows because it has obvious flaws in it, but it took me on an emotional ride I haven’t felt in awhile. I warn you now that Lord of Shadow is a tear-jerker. It will demand all your emotions and tears.

Shadowhunter lovers will know where I stand. Like I said before, Cassie’s work is like a Russian roulette for me. I don’t know if I’ll like her next piece. While I enjoyed the book, some storylines were drawn out too long, long chapters were draining, and some scenes were questionable.

But Cassie’s writing has improved over the years, and I appreciate her attention to detail to the expanded faerie world, the Julian-and-Emma arc, the adorable Kit-and-Ty relationship, and the overall tension the Downworld faces. This hostility among the Council, the Cohorts, and the Centurions heavily reflects our current political environment. And what I love most of YA books and authors is how they show our flaws in our society and aren’t afraid to speak up. I have to give thanks to Cassie for standing up.

I find writing this review without tears challenging. Cassie knows how to rip out your heart. And the characters’ progression throughout this sequel is hard to read, yet each one captivates me. That endearing Mark will always bring a smile to my face. I personally want him to separate from his potential love interests. I want him to find himself, but the love triangle with Mark, Christina, and Kieran prevents him from doing so. I see a new side to Kieran, and while I still hate what he has done, I received a better perspective of him.

Besides Mark and Emma being my favourite characters, Christina shines above them all. But I hope to see a forceful side to her in the next book. She may just be the Shadowhunter who gets rid of the Cold Peace, but if she wants something, fight for it. I was waiting for her to do so. The one trio that surprises me the most is Livvy, Ty, and Kit. I loved reading their scenes, and their dynamic plays off the page rather well. Finally, finally, we see the backstory to Diana and her possible love story. You have no idea how much I squeed. And Julian and Emma come last, as always. I’m still hesitant with them. Their arc worries me, and I don’t see happiness in their future, which I find disheartening because they deserve it the most.

Surprisingly, Lord of Shadows represents many pieces in our society, from sexuality, mental illnesses and conditions, and diversity. I haven’t seen this much representation in one book alone, and I love how it naturally flows through the story.

If you honestly think Cassie’s first and second series are heartbreaking, prepare for this book. Stock up on your Kleenex and hope you don’t break down. I can’t wait to see what Cassie has in store in the finale.

Review: The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: March 29, 2011

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Page Count: 410

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty.

Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.


“He gave her what no one else had ever been able to give. A past to cherish. A present to enjoy. A future to anticipate.”

With a touch of redemption, hope, and forbidden passion, The Darkest Secret takes you on a fast-paced love story with just enough supernatural flare that ignites your love for paranormal romance. Don’t expect a dull moment in Gena’s world.

In this thrilling seventh instalment in the Lords of the Underworld, Amun, the keeper of Secrets, wishes for death, when hundreds of minor demons take possession of his body. His only salvation lies in Haidee, a demon-assassin determined to eliminate his kind. Passion erupts, bonds are tested, and the past is finally revealed. But their attraction may not be the only problem Amun and Haidee face.

I was a little hesitant in picking up Amun’s book because I haven’t seen much of him in previous books. But what I have seen goes from not fully understanding Amum as a character to sympathizing with him because of his struggles. I see him more as a secondary character, which I find disappointing because he has a lot of potential. He’s understanding, caring, and just damn cute at times. But in this book, I finally witness who he is as a man who constantly fights with a demon who survives off secrets. He has gained tremendous empathy from me. Gena isn’t afraid to torture her characters, especially if that act puts them on a better path.

In The Darkest Lies, Amun, Aeron (former keeper of Wrath), and William (an immortal) travel to hell so they can rescue Legion, a demon-turned-woman whose is Aeron’s adoptive daughter. Remind me to cleanse my soul before I die, because the hell Gena depicts is just down right creepy. Imagine the worst acts a person can commit, then ramp them up to a hundred.

What I like from this instalment is that Gena focuses solely on the romance between Amun and Haidee, then throws in some tension from Strider (keeper of Defeat), who thinks he is falling for her. Amun and Haidee balance each other out quite nicely. He calms her down, while she revves him up. I was hoping for more tension between them though. He’s a Lord possessed by a demon, and she’s a demon hunter, who killed his best friend Baden, a few millennia ago. However, this sequel transitions from a romance to a redemption story. Unfortunately, Gena sidetracks from the other storyline of finding Pandora’s box and locating the other warriors possessed by demons. I don’t mind that detour, but I was hoping to see some progression in this arc.

But what she does provide hooks me in though. I’m seven books into this series, and Gena hasn’t revealed how the Hunters, humans who pursue and kill the Lords, started. Until now. In other novels, she gives you the gist of their beginning, but she hasn’t explained it in any great detail. So I appreciate the backstory to the Hunters. And their inception maximizes the level of world building.

Gena is one author you should keep on your radar. If you’re looking for an action-packed paranormal romance that will surely keep you up at night, pick up her books. You won’t be disappointed.

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Extent: 336 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


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.


“It’s my turn to shape the galaxies.”

Are you looking for a story with brujas, brujos, magic, love, and betrayal? Well come here. I have a book to tell you about.

Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Brujas series, takes you a magic-filled journey that will thrill you from the first to last chapter. Alejandra, also known as Alex, lives in world where magic rules and may take away everything you’ve ever loved. She doesn’t want to claim her powers, yet refusing them is simply unheard of. But when she decides to give them up, her world is torn apart when she inadvertently sends her entire family, living and dead, to Los Lagos.

I’ve been dying to finally crack open this book. Just look at it. It’s gorgeous. I’ve fallen in love with the design already. Sourcebooks Fire, you’ve done great! More importantly the author weaves together a colourful and diverse story where a teenage girl learns of self-acceptance, falls in love, and rises above her former self.

One quality that sets this book apart from other YA fantasy books is Alex’s family structure. It’s paramount in this book. And it’s something I’ve been waiting to read for a long time. How many books do I know of, where the family’s bond is positive? I can’t count on my left hand. She and her sisters share a typical sibling relationship, one I’ve been craving to read. And their mother gives up everything to ensure they’re safe. But the story doesn’t stop there.

Labyrinth Lost is rich in Latin American history. Zoraida incorporates many Latin-inspired traditions and mythology (some she’s created her own). A great aspect to this book is the level of detail in culture and lore. It keeps me turning the page and wanting to explore this world more. When Alex uses magic, it comes with a steep price (when doesn’t it?). A price that all brujas and brujos pay. And given she is a novice bruja, she doesn’t understand the consequences. Alex and Nova, a guide who conveniently knows the way, must travel to the centre of Los Lagos, an Underworld-type dimension. But magic isn’t as it seems in this other world.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

Alex, the leading lady, is a strong protagonist. She’s spunky, lively, reserved, and guarded. Instead of being afraid of her sexuality, she fears her powers, which she cannot control. She even believes that they chased her father away. Throughout the story, she faces many tests so she can save her family. But in doing so, she needs to learn how to trust in who she is, what she can do, and why she owns this power.

Nova is your typical badass. He’s cocky and sometimes self-absorbed. Yet I find his history intriguing. I’m sorry, but not sorry. I’ll always look for a broken character who has a deeper and more caring soul than any other. Rishi is a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting her to be included in Alex and Nova’s journey, because she doesn’t know Alex’s secret. But she offers an airy and uplifting side to this trio. And I love her unwavering faith in Alex.

I think the only negative I have with Labyrinth Lost is Alex’s relationships with the secondary characters. I’m thrilled to read a LGBTQ book. I want to find more strong and positive gay stories. Yet I find the relationship Alex has with Rishi is slightly strained. Rishi, in my opinion, almost worships her, and sometimes I wonder if the relationship Alex has with Nova holds a stronger flame against Rishi. I feel that Alex has more attraction toward him. Even with that negative though, I love Alex’s sexuality. She’s free and not afraid to show who she is. And I adore these parts in the book. Her sexuality doesn’t hold her back, certainly isn’t a struggle she must overcome, and is a natural extension of her. Zoraida beautifully represents the LGBTQ community, and I’m proud she’s done so.

So say your cantos, jump through the portal, and take a trip to Los Lagos. Labyrinth Lost won’t disappoint, and I’m sure you’ll be wanting more when you finish the book. I know I do.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

 

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