Blog Tour Stop: Lobizona by Romina Garber [ARC Review!]

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I am so honored that I was gifted an eARC of Romina Garber’s Lobizona and given the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour arranged by Wednesday Books! This novel was such a fun and addicting read, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it below!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lobizona_Front coverLOBIZONA

by Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: August 4th, 2020

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Age Category: Young Adult

SYNOPSIS

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.


REVIEW

Romina Garber’s Lobizona sucked me in and didn’t let me go, to the point where I could barely part with it for more than a short period at a time and ended up devouring the majority of the book in a single day.

My favorite part of this novel was the numerous themes that Garber wove into the story. Not only does she chronicle the daily struggles of being an undocumented immigrant, but she challenges misogyny and systems rooted in a gender binary through the paranormal world of witches and werewolves. Alongside this, we see Manu struggling with the personal battles of taking control of her own destiny and happiness, finding a place where she fits in, and learning how she wants to make her mark on the world.

Another one of my favorite aspects was the Argentinian folklore–inspired paranormal world that Garber crafted! Enchanting details of this world threaded their way onto every page, causing me to fly through the book at an increasing speed. I will say that some areas of the worldbuilding did feel a bit lacking in depth, but this may be a combination of me devouring the book and missing details and Manu still learning about the world. I cannot wait to see this magical world further explored in the sequel!

And not only did Garber bless us with this captivating, hidden world, but she gave us a fellow book nerd and fangirl as a protagonist! As Manu spent most of her days home-schooled under Perla (a grandmother figure in her life), it’s clear how important literature has become to her. Throughout the novel, Manu regularly compares herself and her circumstances to literature, whether it’s Harry Potter or Jane Austen. Another thing that I adored about Manu (and her friends) was that they’re unapologetically feminists, repeatedly challenging micro-aggressions and gender stereotypes. ALSO, there was a surprise f/f side couple (and potentially some additional queer characters that have yet to come out) that just made me so happy!

The only thing that I found that didn’t work for me was the insta-love romance. Manu is quickly drawn and infatuated with her love interest, and I think I would have preferred to see her more focused on exploring this new world of brujas and lobizones. The two seemed to make a decent couple, but I just wished their timeline hadn’t been so rushed.

Overall, I adored this book, and I definitely recommend it to lovers of YA, witches, werewolves, or paranormal fantasy in general! Lobizona is a beautifully balanced book between its relevant conflicts, fun boarding school setting, and captivating worldbuilding, making it a valuable contribution to the YA curriculum.

Trigger Warnings: a misogynistic and homophobic society, sexism, a brief physical assault, a capture and physical abuse by ICE

Rating: 4 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I have captivated you so that you won’t be able to stop howling about me for awhile.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Romina Garber_Credit Drew Bordeaux

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Social Links: Twitter | Instagram


Are you excited to read Lobizona? If you’ve already read it, what were your thoughts? Let me know down in the comments!

ARC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

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***I received a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

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Girl, Serpent, Thorn

by Melissa Bashardoust

Release Date: July 7th, 2020

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Age Category: Young Adult

Publisher: Flatiron Books

 

 

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a tale that takes influences from Persian mythology and Zoroastrianism and turns around and provides a fairy talelike journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, monsters that seem all too human, and even sneaks in an adorable sapphic romance. Bashardoust enthralled me right from the first page, and I didn’t want her to release me upon the end.

Soraya is a princess with poison that runs through her veins (and even turns them green). Locked and kept away from her family, friends, and court, Soraya despises her curse and yearns to be a true member among her family. When Soraya learns of a div (demon) captured and imprisoned in the dungeons, she believes she has finally found a path that will help her lift her curse. But those around her aren’t as they seem, and when Soraya accidentally unleashes destruction upon her kingdom, she must decide what she truly values and seek power in her flaws.

The strength of Girl, Serpent, Thorn comes from its deceit. As the book first unfurls, the tale appears to pass quickly, Soraya finally able to grasp hope in a different future for herself with a handsome guard now by her side. But as the halfway point approaches, twists and monsters are unleashed, completely changing the direction of the plot. The novel doesn’t shy away from the threads of darkness that run through its pages.

Bashardoust’s tale is simultaneously refreshing in its originality and nostalgic in its whimsical and mystical atmosphere. Soraya is also a relatable and realistic protagonist; she desires to be accepted in her community, she lets herself be selfish, and she hates herself for her flaws. Despite the fantastical adorning, the novel’s dilemmas are relatable to all types of readers.

My only complaint is that Girl, Serpent, Thorn gifted us with a world that could have been further explored and a tale that easily could have been expanded upon. But then again, a captivating story always leaves you wanting more, does it not?

I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys YA, fairy tale retellings, and monsters. This book is a shining reminder why fairy tales (and their retellings) never tire, and that there are always new ones to be told.

Trigger Warnings: imprisonment, murder, scarring from torture (torture scenes not actually in the book), battling, strained familial relationships

Rating: 4.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I have without a doubt slithered into a spot among your new favorites.”

Review: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

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let's talk about love coverLet’s Talk About Love

by Claire Kann

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Age Category: New Adult / Young Adult

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Published on: January 23rd, 2018

 

A NA college-set summer romance?!? I’ve been desperately wanting more books like this and Let’s Talk About Love has only confirmed the unfairness the publishing industry is doing us by not giving us more college NA stories. PLEASE GIVE ME MORE AMAZING BOOKS LIKE THIS ONE!!

Let’s Talk About Love follows Alice during the summer after her first year of college. After breaking up with her girlfriend (who didn’t get why Alice didn’t want a sexual relationship), Alice immediately becomes enchanted with a new coworker, Takumi, at her summer job at the library. Between her growing feelings for Takumi, deciding what she wants to do with her education, and navigating her living situation with her best friends, Alice tries to figure out who she wants to be and what she’s willing to risk to be true to herself.

Besides the fact that is book is New Adult, I was particularly excited to pick it up because of the biromantic asexual representation. To be honest, I think this was the first book I’ve read with ace rep and it was super insightful. This book has made me realize that I really need to seek out more LGBTQ+ books beyond those with LGB representation.

Additionally, this book had me swooning alongside Alice over Takumi (or let’s be real: swooning over all of the characters), cracking up at the banter and snarky remarks Alice and her friends passed around, and simply flying through the pages to get more of these characters. Alice is a particularly beautifully fleshed-out character: she has her own cutie code by which she rates everything, lives with her two best friends and has weekly family nights, makes hilariously snarky comments in the narration, writes analytical essays about her TV show obsessions & theories, struggles to cook (relatable), and works at a library. Seriously, there’s no way you cannot love her.

Alongside the beautifully developed characters and circumstances, I also adored how this book showcased positive experiences of attending (multiple) therapy sessions. It seems like a lot of books I’ve read where characters are in therapy will mention it, but rarely ever show. I think displaying this new aspect of Alice’s life really helps to normalize therapy and I simply just appreciated it.

The only area of this book that could be critiqued would be the plot. The book was much more focused on exploring Alice’s relationship with others—whether that be with Takumi, her friends, her parents, or herself. In favor of focusing on Alice’s character development, the explicit plot became a bit blurred. But honestly, I was okay with this. I believe that if rom-com reads have an interesting enough characters (which this book most definitely did), they can get away with a little laxity in their plotting.

Whether you’re looking to add more cute rom-coms, or books with LGBTQ+ and/or Black representation to your reading, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND picking up this book up. It’s a cute and fun read and personally I can’t wait to read more from Claire Kann.

Trigger Warnings: aphobic comments (in the breakup at the beginning), parental pressure in regards to education, cheating (from a side character)

Rating: 4.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I was so cute it’s impossible not to say yes! Like Takumi, I also broke the Cutie Code scale. 😉 ”

ARC Review: The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron

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***I received a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

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The Girl Next Door

by Chelsea M. Cameron

Release Date: May 26th, 2020

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Age Category: New Adult / Adult

Publisher: Carina Adores*

*A new trope-driven LGBTQ+ contemporary romance line!!

 

Welp, I devoured this book in a single evening. This sapphic summer romance was a cute, entertaining, and quick read. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, and I had some problems with the pacing and writing, but if you’re looking for a light, easy f/f romance, this is definitely one to consider!

The Girl Next Door follows 22 year-old Iris and 26 year-old Jude, who—as you would expect by the title—live next door to each other. Iris has just moved back in with her parents after being unable to get a decent job after college. Jude moved back into her parents’ house two years before, wrecked to her core by a traumatic event she refuses to talk about. The women are quickly attracted to one other, and together they must decide who they want to be, and what they’re willing to risk with each other.

One of my favorite parts about this book was how cute all the characters were. Iris’s dad literally spends the entire story reading YA books and even recommends queer YA books to Iris and Jude! Literally my new favorite parent character. Jude is your classic mysterious “bad girl” who rides a motorcycle and is super toned. Iris is a cute and bubbly young woman (who has a dog named Dolly Parton!) and is stressed about her future, which as a recent college grad myself, was totally relatable. I also adored how the characters showcased the importance of communication and consent in their relationship—I feel as though romance books often skip over these moments to make a scene more ‘sexy’.

But while I liked the idea of the story and the characters, I struggled a bit with the execution of the story. I was immediately annoyed with the writing style, which was awkwardly blunt and had a lot of over-telling and exposition. Additionally, the plot felt very unbalanced. The summary stated Iris and Jude decide to engage in a “no-strings summer fling” yet the story instead gave a weird insta-attraction and slow-burn tension that in the last quarter immediately rushed into instalove. The women didn’t even decide to engage in a summer fling until the 70% mark of the eARC. I feel like this decision should have come in the first half of the book??

Overall, I found this to be a decent romance, but it wasn’t a new favorite. I will say that I will definitely be keeping an eye on Carina Adores (a new trope-driven LGBTQ+ contemporary romance line!!) to see what they release in the future!

Trigger Warnings: grief, reflecting on the death and loss of a lover

Rating: 3.25 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“Sadly not. I could definitely be someone’s new favorite, but I didn’t live up to your expectations.”