Happy Monday everyone! I hope you’re doing well and healthy! I’ve finished a bunch of things recently, so I need to catch up on my reviews lol. These reviews aren’t in order of when I finished them but the most recently finished things 🙂
Title: Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1)
Author: Romina Garber
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Release Date: August 4th 2020 from Wednesday Books
Format: Purchased hardcover
Goodreads 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.
This book had a ton of hype before it came out, and while this wasn’t high on my radar, it really became something I wanted to read after seeing the author on a virtual panel talking about the book. I loved her wonderful and cheerful personality but knowing that this book is deeply rooted in her life as an immigrant from Argentina, hearing her talk about the book made me really interested. So I bought the book and dove right in after bringing it home. While it took me a little longer to finish due to other ARC deadlines, I really liked this book!
The biggest thing that I appreciated about this book is how raw, angry and real talk about how Manu and her mother are undocumented immigrants. I will say that as a white American citizen, I know that the way my country handles many undocumented immigrants can be horrible and HAS to change. But this book showed me one experience through Manu’s eyes that made my heart break with how they live in fear and how they’re treated. Books like this are so needed because they gives us an important lens that we need to see. I cared for Manu so much, seeing how much fury she had for her existence: how she has to wear sunglasses to hide her eyes, how she doesn’t go to school or have friends and only lives in her apartment complex in Miami. While Manu is so angry at how she lives, she still loves her mother and Perla, the old woman who took them in so much that she does whatever she can to make sure they’re okay. Manu truly felt like a real girl with real anger, frustrations but then elation at seeing a world where she feels like she can finally belong.
The next thing that I really enjoyed was the other world that Manu ends up in. The fantasy world she finds is from Argentinean folklore, where there are elemental brujas, lobizones (male werewolves) and other creepy creatures. There’s a magical school that Manu gets herself into in order to explore her powers, as well as find out who her father is and where he is, since she hears that he’s still alive. I will admit that while the magical school was interesting, the conflict of Manu’s existence was vastly ignored until the last quarter of the book. The few people that help keep Manu’s secret help her so quickly that I was surprised that they never seemed taken back by the fact that she’s a female werewolf, where the only other lobizonas like Manu were hunted down and killed. Plus, later in the book, the conflict is further pushed under the rug when her identity comes to the forefront which I didn’t like. Her existence is major and something that doesn’t fit with the perceived ideas, but the conflict being ignored did take me out of the story somewhat.
Another thing that wasn’t great for me is that for most of the book, the love interest for Manu is a guy that seems like he’s cheating on his girlfriend with Manu. While I don’t want to spoil what happens by the end, I do wish things were explained much earlier in the book. The reason for this guy seeming like he’s cheating is a reason that should’ve been explained to make the genuine cheating aspect go away. Since I felt like this guy walking the line with two girls, I couldn’t root for their budding romance. I feel like this was leftover for the end of the book and I didn’t agree with how the book waited so long to clear up what this romance meant. The male love interest was fine as a character, but like I said, feeling like it was cheating for a lot of the book didn’t sit well with me.
Overall: I really liked this book in the end. The talk about being an undocumented immigrant broke my heart and made me furious but I am thankful that books like this are out there for people to read. Manu is such a real and authentic character that I wish I could be her friend. I loved her relationship with Perla and her mother, as well as her determined journey to find where she belongs. Plus the beautiful Argentinean fantasy-esque world was so cool and I also loved how much Spanish was used! I love how Spanish brought even more richness to this story and even taught me new Spanish words that I didn’t know. While I didn’t agree with some of the plot structure in the last half, I’m excited for the next book. Linked below are some own voices reviews from Latinx reviewers 🙂
Title: The Left Handed Booksellers of London
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Release Date: September 22nd 2020 from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Format: Kindle ARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads Synopsis: A girl’s quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of teen fantasy, Garth Nix.
In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.
Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.
Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.
Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.
DNF @ 15%
FREAKING DANG IT PEOPLE! I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but this did not grip me at all. I have liked some of Nix’s short stories and his older book The Ragwitch that aren’t linked with his Old Kingdom series. But after not liking his book from last year Angel Mage, I was really hoping to like this so much more. But that didn’t happen again and I feel very torn. In one way, I think my reading mood has been off this year and it’s a possible factor for the DNF, but the other part is because I feel like the voice of Susan, the protagonist was the worst kind of cardboard like protagonist. She acts so bored with life as the book opens. Her mom is a scatterbrained, odd woman and Susan never reacts much to anything. Sure, she’s afraid of the monster she sees in the beginning and isn’t sure about Merlin, who comes to her aid, but that’s it.
Once Merlin talks with her and they’re in London, I never felt like the voice of this book or the fantasy elements arrived in the beginning. I liked the description of the monster Susan encounters in the beginning, but that was it. The armed booksellers is only mentioned and while it’s a great idea, I feel like it doesn’t hold the wonder as much as I thought. Susan isn’t freaked out or questioning Merlin’s quirky mood or even the different things in London. She acts like she’s seen this stuff before when she hasn’t. She just…sees the fantasy elements as they are and she doesn’t act impressed, awed or afraid by it. She doesn’t have any life in her at all, so she’s not an interesting character. Merlin, who I believe is gender fluid from how Nix writes the character, was much more interesting and I wish we had some of Merlin’s perspective instead.
Plus the dialogue was very odd for me personally. With this being set in London, there are some English terms that I didn’t understand. I also felt like the dialogue from Merlin and Susan’s mother felt out of place and didn’t add much to the scene or make things move along well. Plus with the flatness of Susan’s voice, I was bored as a reader. Susan feels like one of those characters in books where things are happening around the character, but they themselves aren’t affected by it if that makes sense. So I may try the audio book in the future, since some narrators can make the story easier to digest by adding their voice to characters to bring more life into it. So while that is a possibility, I don’t think I’ll be requesting ARCs of his books anymore. I’ll wait for them to come out. This just felt too dry, slow moving and full of odd dialogue to get me to keep reading.
Titles: Space Boy Volumes 2 & 3
Author: Stephen McCranie
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Coming of Age Graphic Novel
Release Dates: November 13th 2018 & March 12th 2019 from Dark Horse Books
Format: Physical library copies
Goodreads Synopsis for Volume 2 (possible spoilers for Volume 1): A sci-fi drama of a high school aged girl who belongs in a different time, a boy possessed by emptiness as deep as space, an alien artifact, mysterious murder, and a love that crosses light years.
To Amy, everyone has a flavor. Jemmah, her best friend from the colony, is the flavor of pineapple and jalapeño. Cassie, from Earth, is like red pepper.
After being forced to leave her space-colony home when her dad was fired, Amy starts to adapt to a new life on Earth. High school seems difficult at first, but a close group of friends begin to make the transition easier for her.
At the same time, Amy finds herself fascinated with a mysterious boy named Oliver, the only person Amy has yet to be able to place a flavor for.
I decided to group these two volumes together, since I read them pretty close together. If you saw my review for Volume 1, then you’ll know how much I adored the first installment. This is a WebToon that also got published in physical volumes as well. We continue to follow Amy, a girl from a deep space mining colony now living on Earth for the first time. Since she’s out of touch with Earth’s technology in glasses that show virtual reality where people live, she’s trying to get used to this new life. Then, she also meets a white haired boy named Oliver, who seems very socially withdrawn and also doesn’t have a flavor. She’s drawn to him, hoping to help make him smile and become his friend.
For volume 2, I really liked seeing more of Oliver. You can tell that he can have a huge impact on Amy’s life and I like how both honest and awkward they are. Oliver doesn’t have a great look on life and it does shock Amy, but she tries to help him see the better things. There’s one scene where she draws a smiley face on his hand to show him that it’s real. This is a huge step for Oliver, who doesn’t feel anything and thinks that so much of life’s events and people don’t feel real. But this small act that Amy does opens his eyes and it’s so sweet to see how tiny acts of kindness like this can change people. Also, Amy is still conflicted about reaching out to her friend Gemma, who is now 30 years older and has a different life. Seeing Amy’s constant struggle to let go of her old life and also being curious about it makes her such a relatable character. She’s a sweet and innocent girl still fighting with the reality that she doesn’t have her home anymore. This creator does such a great job at allowing characters to feel sadness, loss, fear and also the light of friendship and even making someone smile. While it just wasn’t 5 stars like the first volume, this is quickly becoming a favorite graphic novel.
Then for volume 3, we do see Amy decision on calling her friend Jemmah and facing the consequences of that. Plus, we see the school dance coming up and how Amy is interested in the dance and someone wants to ask her out. There’s a great scene where Amy throws a pie at a cocky jock’s face and it’s simply funny. Then, we also see a bit more of Oliver’s desperation to live normally and be around Amy more. Amy even joins a school club. I love the gradual progression of how Amy is still trying to adjust to her new life, but her fascination with Oliver and growing closer with her friend group is great. I still don’t trust Cassie, the red haired girl in Amy’s friend group. But this high school series feels real in its depictions about fear of not fitting in, feeling lost in a new place and the exciting feeling of finding new friends. This was another fun volume and with all that’s going on, I think this is a perfect series to get lost in 🙂
Rating (both volumes):
Title: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Author: Akira Himekawa
Genre: Graphic Novel Adaptation/Video Game/Fantasy
Release Date: February 2nd 2010 from VIZ Media
Format: Personal copy
Goodreads Synopsis: A terrible tragedy befalls Link’s family and friends when the traitorous Agahnim launches a plot to seize the Triforce and unleash a terrible evil on the world. To bring justice to Agahnim, Link needs the Master Sword and sets off on a quest to find it. Link’s journey may also help him discover what happened to his parents, and while Agahnim’s minions and traps are dangerous, this link to the past may be even more challenging!
So the Legend of Zelda video games have mangas now! Several of them have come out in the last ten years and my husband bought me a box set with many of these mangas all together. What’s interesting about these mangas is that Link talks in them! Each volume adapts one of these video games. I’ve loved this franchise since the N64 days, so I was so excited to get these. I decided to read this one, since I never played the game and I actually didn’t really know the story. We follow Link, a boy raised by his uncle on an apple farm. But his life is turned upside down when he hears a girl calling for help in a dream and then a tragedy forces him to accept a destiny he didn’t know he had. Now that I’ve read this story, I really want to play the game! I’m not sure where I can find a copy, since it was released on the SNES back in the 90’s, but this was so much fun!
I’ll admit that when I heard that Link talks in these mangas, I was wondering how his dialogue will be handled. It’s a trademark that he doesn’t talk in the games, but having read this story and the Ocarina of Time volumes, I think these authors handle Link’s dialogue so well. They gave him the unique voice for each story adapted from the game. In this volume, Link is a young boy who looks like he’s a young teenager. He’s not sure what he’s doing at first, but ends up going on this quest to discover his past that’s hinted at, as well as saving Princess Zelda. While I do think that some parts moved faster than I wanted, for the sake of the limited number of pages, this was so much fun. I loved being new to a Zelda story, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I liked seeing new characters and a different version of the classic story on these games we love. I HIGHLY recommend reading these mangas if you love the Zelda games. These are adaptations that come from two creators that genuinely love these games and these characters. While I am being pickier about my 5 star ratings, this single volume was exactly what I needed to read on a weekend 🙂
These are the 5 things I’ve recently finished! What books have you read recently? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!