Quick Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

labyrinth lost

**Spoilers Ahead**

I knew I was going to like this book when it was revealed that Alex and her family of Brujas live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  I may be a little bias but Sunset Park is the best neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Anyway, Alex is from a long line of Brujas or as we say in english, Witches.  While her family sees their powers as gift sees them as only curses.  Her Deathday is coming and Alex will do anything to get rid of her powers.  She blames them for the misfortune of her family.  She believes they made her father leave when she was a child.  When she accidentally banishes her family to Los Lagos, she must venture there herself with a mysterious but handsome Brujo Nova to guide her.  This is a story about acceptance.  Alex for so long was afraid of herself, believing that her powers were the source of her families troubles and that if she only got rid of them then they would be okay.  Over time she realizes that her powers are part of her and ridding them would only getting rid a part of her.  For too long she tried to hide who she was that she didn’t even know who she was.  The only person she felt she could be herself around was with her friend, Rishi but even there she had to keep herself a secret.  As Alex, Nova and Rishi navigate the dangers of Los Lagos, she becomes more at home with her powers but things are not as they seem.  For one Nova is not who she thinks he is.  It bothered me that she never really questioned why he knew so much about Los Lagos.  He is quite knowledgeable about the place that only existed in myths and legends before.  The best surprise was who Alex’s love interest ended up being.  It was all set up to be Nova when it ended up being Rishi.  How refreshing to see Queer representation of Latina and Guyanese girls.  Their relationship starts as a sweet friendship.  Accepting each other for who they are and not caring that one is a little odd to seeing each other for who they truly are.  Alex and Nova shippers have some hope but I do hope that Alex and Rishi are the endgame.  As for the rest of the story, it wasn’t perfect but it was entertainment. It’s great to have a strong Latina lead character and being kickass.  Now that Alex has come into her powers, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next for her and her family.

What I’m Reading Now: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

labyrinth lost

I bought this at BookCon in June.  Excited to finally getting to it.

Update: Already in love now that I know they Brujas live in Sunset Park!

Quick Review: Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

dark breaks the dawn *** This review may contain Spoilers ***

I confess, I’m not all that familiar with the store of Swan Lake so I can’t say if this is a good retelling or not.  What I can say it was just meh.  I wanted really into it but I also wasn’t bored with it either.  Evelayn is the crown Princess of the light side of the Kingdom.  Long time ago, a curse fell on the  Kingdom years ago and took away their immortality and separated them into two Kingdoms of Light and Dark.  For centuries the two sides lived in peace and keeping balance of the magic until 10 years before when the King of the Dark magic started a war to grasp both sides.  Evelayn is thrust into the conflict when her Mother is killed by the King making her Queen.  Now Evelayn is a fine character.  She’s smart and brave and willing to do anything for country.  She does what she needs to be done.  She’s a fast learner.  She is just coming into her powers and is able to master all of them except for the power to transform into her Swan. Only those with royal blood can transfigure.  Her love interest is Tanvir is kind of bland.  Several times there are hints of him not being worthy, that he has a secret, or that there is something is past that could come back to haunt him.  I was starting to think that he was a spy for the Dark Kingdom and he was forced to be a spy to save his sister who isn’t dead just being held captive by the King.  That would have made him more interesting at least but no.  The Dark Prince, Lorcan is far more interesting to me then either Evelayn and Tanvir and I sort of started rooting for him.  I know he’s technically the real big bad of the story but I was left for interested in what he was going to do then the others.  I also felt how Evelayn reacted at the end was a little out of character.  She never sought out violence before.  She had to do what she had to do for the safety of her Kingdom and keeping balance so for her to threaten the Dark Queen like she did seemed a strange move.  True she is young and obviously scared and desperate but this wasn’t the first time she felt that way and handled things better.  So yeah, it was meh but I’m going to read the second book because I do want to see what Lorcan does next.

Quick Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

seeker This was a fun book to read if a little uneven.  The sequel to  Riders, Seekers picks up a week after the first book ended.  Daryn has returned from Georgia after watching Marcus, Jode and Gideon reunite but too scared to face them.  She’s still blaming herself for abandoning Bas to the other realm with Samrael, the leader of the Kindred.  Gideon is still conflicted because he’s mad at Daryn for her role in Bas’ situation plus losing his hand but he’s also madly in love with her.  The trials of teenage love.  It’s been eight months and time is running out get Bas back so Daryn, Gideon and the other Riders of the Apocalypse must reunite to go into the Rift, face their demons and save Bas.  Now I say it was fun because mixed with all the teenage angst were some funny moments.  I truly appreciate Gideon’s snarkiness and sarcasm.  A little uneven because it didn’t feel the momentum of the first part of the book didn’t stay to the last part.  The book spends half of the book trying to find Bas and then we find him and find out that he was just the bait.  Samrael was only using him to get Daryn and the real conflict begins.  I sort felt that all the trials that happened before were kinda meaningless now.  It seemed like a long way to go to get to the payoff and we did it wasn’t as satisfying and felt rushed.  I wish we had spent less time on the Bas search and more on the Samrael/Daryn debate of forgiveness and who deserves it.  Other then that, it was a good book.

Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Narrator Reading Challenge UPDATE

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year.  It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges.  This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different.  One for authors and one for narrators.  I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well.  Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate?  Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out.  For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator?  I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters.  So  here we go.

  1.  Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.  Narrator: Apollo.  Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods?  Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women.  So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
  2. Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
  3. Book with characters from various socio-economic backgrounds Silver Stars by Michael Grant.  Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
  4. Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel.  I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America.  Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs.  She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides.  Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
  5. Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre.  I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
  6. A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina.  I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one.  Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
  7. A Book with a Muslim Narrator: Ms. Marvel Vols. 2-4 by G. Willow Wilson. Narrator: Kamala
  8. A Book with a Jewish Narrator: Silver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrator: Rainey I know that I have already used Silver Stars before but Rainey is a fascinating character.  I love reading her.
  9. A Book with an atheist Narrator: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard. Narrator: Eddie Izzard.  He doesn’t go too much into his atheism but he does make it very clear he doesn’t believe in any god.

9 out of 15 is pretty good.  Even if you take out the few iffy ones, I’m still over halfway done with my challenge.  How are you doing?

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

lord of shadows

**This Review May contain some Spoilers**

I read a lot of fantasy novels and lately many of them have been relevant to what’s currently going on in our world.  I would say that some of it is a reaction to today’s political and cultural climate but books and art have a history of being predictive.  The Handmaid’s Tale was written over two decades ago and is just if not more relevant today then it was then.  Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices might be her most political and timely series out of all her Shadowhunter series but it was years in the making first set in motion 10 years ago with the release of City of Bones.  One of the main threats in Lord of Shadows comes from within the Clave itself.  At the end of the The Mortal Instruments Series City of Heavenly Fire, the Clave started the Cold Peace.  A harsh punishment against Fairies for their involvement in the Dark War.  This has lead to anti-downworlder’s sentiment to spread among Shadowhunters.  Once again proving that people, even supernatural people do not learn from their own history.  Less then five years ago, they defeated Valentine, who’s group wanted to bring back the “golden age” of shadowhunters by ridden the world of downworlders and now the Cohort, a group of Shadowhunters are asking for downworlders to be registered and put into camps.  They movements should be marked and controlled.  Does that sound kinda familiar? It shouldn’t surprise any of you that the downworlders, particularly fairies are not happy and plan in invasion.  While all of this is happening, the Blackthorns and Emma are dealing with their own issues.  With each new book, they get more and more complicated with so many story lines that Clare is almost at George R.R. Martin level but not as many deaths.  I’m not sure all are necessary but it does make for interesting reading.  That being said to me the most interesting character is Julian.  Here’s a guy who at seventeen runs the LA institute. He takes care of his younger siblings and is utterly ruthless.  He will do anything for his family and his Parabati, Emma.  Who he is also madly in love with as she is with him but that’s forbidden and for good reason.  Parabati bond is pretty strong and only enhances strong romantic love to the point it drive them crazy.  Yikes.  As for the ending, I knew the character was going to die as soon as she admitted she was going to be friends with another character.  It sounds silly but the way it was written it sounded so final as her arc was over at that moment.  I was sorry to see that character go but boy there will be hell to pay now.  Too bad we have to wait 2 years to find out what happens next.

Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

always and forever

**This Review contains some Spoilers**

This series was meant to only be a duology and I thought it worked pretty well as just To All the boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.  So I was a little hesitant but excited when I found out that Jenny Han had decided to write one more book.  On the one hand, I felt that Lara Jean’s story wrapped up nicely.  Yes, it had an open ended ending but there was a sense that Lara Jean had finally started to find her Identity.  And on the other hand, there was some unanswered questions, like were her and Peter really going to make it?  What about their senior year?  Would Kitty continue to be awesome?  The answer is to that last questions is of course.  Reading through this book and getting back to Lara Jean’s world of baking and arts and crafts, I was little disappointed to find that Lara Jean’s new found identity pretty much was all Peter.  Her new friends were all his friends.  Their plans mostly seemed to revolve around his schedule of Lacrosse games.  To be fair, she did build friendships on her own with Lucas and Pammy but she wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for Peter.  This became more apparent when they started to talk about college.  Peter had already been accepted into UVA on a Lacrosse scholarship and Lara Jean had always wanted to go there.  It’s a good school and only 15 minutes away so she could stay close to her family.  Well, when she doesn’t get into UVA, there is a panic because now they have to deal with a long distance relationship.  So she makes a plan to go to William and Mary for one year and transfer to UVA so they can be together.  Things get even more complicated when Lara Jean who gets accepted into UNC after originally being wait listed.  After a quick drive to Chapel Hill, Lara Jean is in love and it’s clear this is where she is meant to be.  Now she will be 3 and half hours away instead of only 2.  All this talk of college and what school would is the best, I can’t remember of any talk about what she wants to study.  We know that she loves to bake and loves to crafting but what else in her life?  Is she going to be an English major?  biology? French?  We have absolutely no idea who she is outside of her family and Peter but I could say the same thing about Peter too.  As frustrating as Lara Jean’s behavior I started to realize that Peter’s identity is just as dependent if not more so on Lara Jean’s.  He is very much the perfect boyfriend.  He’s polite and good looking, athletic and charming.  He organizes her father’s bachelor’s party to not only get on his good side but make her happy.  He is also afraid of losing Lara Jean. Thanks for a moment of true honesty they seem to have finally found each other and where they want to go.  They are going to try to make it work and I hope they do but where does it leave them.  I sort of feel like we are left in the same place as were with the last book.  They both are still growing and finding themselves as they should be at 18 and they are still together and going to fight to make their relationship work despite the distance but their future is still up and the air.  I think it’s a very good development for Lara Jean to spread her wings and live on her own for once.  Her life has always been about her family and then Peter.  Finally in college she will be able to truly find her identity without them around and I think it will only make her stronger.  It will make her relationships stronger and if her and Peter do work out them both stronger.   Now, I hope in a couple of years, we come back to Virginia for Kitty, the high school years because I think that would be the most amazing story of all time.