Review: The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

For anyone who has seen Encanto will find many of the stories themes familiar. Especially from the beginning. It starts with the Matriarch of the family, Orquidea Divina invited her family back to her magical home for her death. The Montoya’s grew up in her home that always had everything they needed and they never questioned it. When they arrive, things are a miss and her death doesn’t go as planned but family pulls together to send her off. Orquidea was a complicated woman, like most people are but even more so to her family. She was a loving woman who gave all to her family but she was also very secretive and leaves the family reeling if they even knew here. Marimar, her granddaughter in particularly has some feelings about her Grandma. As does her cousins, Ray and Tatinelly. Seven years after her death, they are forced to go to Ecuador where Orquidea was born to discover her past to save their futures. Its basically a story of family trauma and family healing. Again, a lot like Encanto.

That’s where the comparisons end though. This story goes back and forth and the “present day” and the Orquidea’s past. Both storylines entwine to tell the story of Orquidea and the Montoya’s. Before she passes, she tells her family that she can’t tell them who is coming for them and they must find who. Marimar is to me the main character. She inherited the house and rebuilds. I feel like she is the one that is most connected to her. She goes through the wringer in this book but really comes out of it better. She is quite a extraordinary person. She starts out to be very guarded and for awhile she really starts to shut herself off. It’s her way of protecting herself but when tragedy strikes the family and she has to move, she does. It’s really through her eyes that we get to know Orquidea and the Montoya’s family and who they were and what they will become. So, if you like magical realism and Encanto, I think you will like this book too.

Quick Review: A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I. Lin

Ning is on the run with the Princess and the banished Prince has taken over power. Ning knows who is responsible for the poisoned tea across the country but since she has been branded as the enemy of the state she doesn’t have many allies. So she goes with Princess Zhen to find solutions. Meanwhile, Kang wants desperately to get his father’s approval but he also can see that some things are a miss. They soon discover a magical conspiracy centuries in the making and only Ning’s Shennong-shi powers can save them. I like this. I thought it was a good sequel to the first book. I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite in love with Kang’s POV as much as Ning’s but it was necessary for us to know what was going on in the capital since Ning was no longer there. I love Ning’s strength and self doubt. She was real She is dealing with other worldly powers and she isn’t even a trained Shennong-shi but she persevered through it. Her sister, Shu was a welcomed addition to the story and I adored Princess Zhen and Ruyi’s relationship. So, if you are looking for a fantasy that is not based on western mythology or world building. I highly recommend this series.

Happy PRIDE!

Happy Pride month. Here are a few of my favorite books and series that feature LGBTQIA+ characters. What are your favorites? Leave them in the comments.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – Polyamorous
Science Fantasy reimagining of the rise of Chinese Empress Wu Zetian. With a true love triangle as Zetian has two love interests who are also in love with each other. There truly isn’t anything else like it.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling – Lesbian
Love is always hard but harder when you meet someone new but your ex girlfriend is still apart of your coven and there are witch hunters after you.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – Bi
The first of the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy follows Alex, who hates magic so much she accidently makes her family vanish and has to go into a different realm to find them. She also discovers herself as well.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – Lesbian
This is not an easy read as it deals with sexual assault but at it’s core is a love story between two young girls who risk everything to be together.

Carry On Trilogy by Rainbow Rowell – Gay
Based on fan fiction written by another of Rainbow Rowell’s characters in Fangirl and takes it to a new level. Harry Potter like chosen Simon Snow falls in love with his childhood enemy Baz. Fans of the enemies to lovers will love it.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, Bi
This is actually the second book in the series but I’m picking it as it goes more into main character, Jane’s sexuality. Jane is an amazing character that just knows how to survive and isn’t going to let some zombies get in the way.

Rick Riordan books – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Ace
Rick Riordan’s many children series based on world mythology are filled with LGBTQIA+ characters. I would first suggest Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Main character, Magnus is definitely queer who falls in love with Alex who is trans. The Trials of Apollo series follows God Apollo who based on Greek mythology was bisexual. Actually many of the Gods of different world mythologies are somewhere on the rainbow and Riordan doesn’t shy away from these stories just because who writes for kids.

ShadowHunters Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Poly
Like. Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare’s ShadowHunters Chronicles populated with many LGBTQIA+. Original series features Alex and Magnus, a gay shadowhunter and a bi-sexual warlock. The Dark Artifices series features a poly relationship, a trans character and more than 1 same sex couples. The most recent series, The Last Hours has a bisexual and lesbian character as part of the main group of characters even takes place in Edwardian England. I’ll admit that as the series go on, there are times I get tired at the formulaic it is but I always come back for the characters because they are always well written

The Dreamers Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater – Gay
A spin series from her popular Ravens Cycle, centers around gay and dreamer and Ronan. True, his relationship with fellow Raven Boy, Adam, isn’t the center of the story as many who read the first series would assume but it’s not far off. Anyways, Ronan is a fantastic character who l love and what the world for him.

Review: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

I admitted that I picked this book based on the cover. It is so pretty. Thankfully the book was good or I would have been super disappointed. Ning is from a small town but one day gets an invitation from the Palace to compete to be the new shennong-shi, a master of the art of magic and tea. If she wins and becomes the Palace’s shennong-shi it will bring her power she can only dream of but more importantly, it will give her access to cure to save her sister. Ning immediately gets caught up in Palace politics. The Princess is currently ruling as he Emperor is sick. Her cousin, the son of the banished Prince wants something but his motives are allusive. Others in court have their own agenda. Who can Ning trust? It’s a lot of back and forth as I doubted each character’s motives, convinced that they were the bad guys, only to be surprised at the end. Ning is definitely my favorite character. She is super smart but a little naïve. She is a little over her head when it comes to the machinations of court. Despite that, she is very resourceful and talented. She is able to move through the competition by using what she knows and being able to think on her feet. She often knows the smart thing is to walk away but the does the right thing and stay and help. This often gets her in trouble but also helps her find allies. I was really drawn to this book and sad, I have to wait until October for the sequels. I guess I should be grateful, I don’t have wait a year.

What I’m Reading Now: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

I am not going to lie. I picked this book because of the cover. I mean just look at it! It’s just so pretty!!

Beth’s Favorite 5 books of 2021!!

Well it was a year. I did read more books then I did last year but not anywhere near my pre-pandemic levels. But who is. I have found it harder to write reviews recently. You may have noticed. I’ll try to do better in 2022. Anyways, without further ado. These are top 5 favorite books of the past year. In order of which I read them.

  1. Stormbreak by Natalie C. Parker – I just loved this whole series of women pirates taking on the systems keeping society down. It was just one adventure after another and it a great ending. I highly recommend the whole series.
  2. The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeiine Boulley – This book is just so heartbreaking. What Daunis and her people have gone through is just so painful and yet the strength they processed is just amazing. Boulley’s writing is very striking. She doesn’t sugarcoat the experience her characters experience. Be aware. It does deal with sexual assault, drug use, racism and domestic violence.
  3. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab – Addie Larue made a deal that she wanted to live her own life but in exchange no one remembers her. 300 years later, she finally remembers her and it seems like things maybe turning around but of course things are not as they seem. This book is such a rich book. Fantasy and historical fiction all in one. Loved it.
  4. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee – Jo is lady’s maid. Not by choice but because her options are limited. When an opportunity presents itself to write an advice column under a secret identity she takes it. It gives her the freedom that she doesn’t have in day to day life. I loved reading about Jo because despite the card stacked against her she doesn’t give up.
  5. The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – I’m choosing this series as a whole since I read them all at once. It was recommended by a coworker and she knows her stuff. Cassie and her fellow Naturals are not your normal teenagers. They know how to read people and for that makes them useful to the FBI. I just got sucked into the mystery of this series and I was so happy that I waited to read it all at once.

What were your favorite books of the last year?

What I’m Reading Now: Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Okay this series is as good as everyone said it was.

What I’m Reading Now: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

I resisted reading this for a while despite the good reviews because the world doesn’t need another Romeo and Juliet story but maybe they do. So for it’s been pretty amazing.