Monday, February 27, 2017

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova | Review

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: September 6, 2016
Pages: 336
Received: publisher via NetGalley for review
Find Online: Goodreads | Sourcebooks

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

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 markings 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…

So many people comparing this to Alice in Wonderland and I can see why. You've got the girl falling into a magic hole/portal to another land that's filled with crazy creatures and fantasy galore and she's on a mission to her family and home. That is the only similarity though - the rest is completely new and refreshing.

A story about brujas (witches) in Brooklyn - it's filled with Latin flair and all things magic. I loved the idea of having a Deathday, but Alex is not ready for hers and because of that she gets herself and her family into a world of trouble. She's stuggling with who she is and is not ready to accept her magic (little does her family know she's already come into her magic well before her Deathday and that is what scares her - she's afraid of it). 

Alex causes her family to be taken to Los Lagos, an underworld eerily similar in idea to Wonderland, but much more terrifying and creepy. She needs to rescue them to show how sorry she was for running away from her magic. She gets help from Nova, "a boy made of light" and Rishi, her best friend. This trio has quite an adventure in Los Lagos and they each learn something along the way - Alex finds out she is an Encantrix and she can handle more then she imagined, Nova sees the world in a new light (see what I did there?) and starts to allow people into his life and Rishi teaches us that nothing is worth hiding from.

I loved reading about the Deos (the Gods) that the brujas pray to and honour. They are a big part of the culture and religion. They are also a big help to Alex during her journey to save her family. She doesn't realize how much family means to her until they are taken - her sisters Lula and Rose, her mother and her extended family. 

I also really enjoyed that it had characters of different cultures, sexuality and it mashed it all up with magic! It's written in a way that makes the culture and sexuality topics non-issues - as in, it just was there, easy to accept and move on, like the "no big deal" it should be. Love is love is love, right?! The parts in the book about acceptance come from the magic and not gender, sex, culture and I adored that about this book.

I'm truly looking forward to more of the Brooklyn Brujas series and seeing just what happens to this trio after their adventure in the deepest, darkest magical place in Latin magical lore. 

The author included a section at the end of this book that explains how she came up with the magical aspects of the book and she explains that she inspired by a lot of elements from different Latin lore to create this book - a mixture of old world and new from Latin America. She writes about Deathday, Death Masks and the Deos. It was great to read these author notes after finishing the book - I think it added more to the experience.

"I would follow you into the darkest dark."

Anyone know that show You Gotta Eat Here? Well, inspired by John - You Gotta Read This!

BONUS: Labyrinth Lost Colouring Page

About the Author:
Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of the Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins | Review

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Published: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 36
Received: as a gift from Simon & Schuster Canada

Once upon a time there was a very hungry lion and some adorable little animals...

What do you think happened next?


This is another book that was a wonderful gift from Simon & Schuster Canada when Spencer was born.  Such a thoughtful gift, thank you!

I recently read this to Spencer and she loved it. She was patting the pictures and giggling when I made the loud noises that book called for. I pointed out all of the cute little animals as they appeared in the book and slowly disappeared again. The pages were fun in that some were completely black, some had just the lion with one word in CAPITALS to make it dramatic when you read it and some had colourful pages filled with all sorts of animals. The other thing that I loved about the book was the the drawings are done in a way that it looks like a child coloured them. My favourite animals were the pigs and penguin while Spencer's were the lion and the sheep. And lastly, just because it's about a hungry lion don't assume anything - this book has surprises instore!

I would definitely recommend this book for those with little ones. I'd say a good age is probably three and up, but Spencer enjoyed it and she is only seven months old (almost eight). I think this will be a book we read often.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wishlist: Bookish Funko Pops

This week's wishlist will be all of my favourite Book Loving Funko Pops Characters!

I adore Funko Pops! and I have this thing for wanting to collect the characters from books, movies and TV that love reading. so far I already have Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony and she loves books and learning! After getting this post ready, I found Peasant Belle and bought her!

Here is the list of the Funko's I want to get:
Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony
Peasant Belle from Beauty and the Beast
Hermione from Harry Potter (I have a mini, but want a normal sized version)
Rory from Gilmore Girls
Sawyer from Lost
Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rapunzel (the Disney one)

Funko Pop images source

And these are the ones I think they should make:
Cath from Fangirl

Jess from Gilmore Girls
Liesel from The Book Thief

Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird 
Anne Shirley of Green Gables

Who am I missing that already exists? Who should they make a Pop of?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel | Review

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Published: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Del Ray
Format: audiobook from library, originally an eARC from Netgalley
Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead - or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria - a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible - until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead - and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Here's the thing, I adored this book. It's crazy because the first time I attempted to read it was as an eARC from NetGalley and I just could not get into the story. I put it down with thoughts of trying again soon, but then my ereader died and I couldn't get it to sync to my new tablet. And then it was forgotten, until a roadtrip happened and I needed some audiobooks - my library had this as a featured audiobook to try. I am so glad I tried again with this title... I'll be checking out the next book for this year's Goodreads challenge.

The dystopian/steampunk world building in this novel is amazing, not only is it a shout out to the Victorian era that the characters world is emulating, but it's the beginning of a zombie outbreak. I would never have through to cross these things together, but it works!

Nora is a great character. Growing up in a Victorianesque world, she should be demure, lady-like and acquiesce to the men, but she is her own person and thinks for herself. I love how she didn't completely judge Bram and his fellow zombies and was more accepting of them and what they are trying to do. She was terrified at first, but made the best of a crappy situation. She has a lot of great qualities that made her a character to root for.

Bram is pretty swoonworthy for a zombie. He still retains things that make him seem human still. The virus hasn't taken him over and made him a monster, so he functions like any man, but just falls apart sometimes. His chapters were fun to read because he struggles internally with his feelings for Nora and his need to control the Laz virus so he doesn't attack her. Gah, his sections were great!

And my favourite person by far was Nora's best friend, Pamela, who was the delicate girl you'd expect for Victorian times. She surprises you by being stronger and resourceful in the face of death. She takes charge and won't stop until she reaches the goal she has in her mind.

I love how the story alternates between Nora, Bram, Pamela, Victor (Nora's father) and Wolfe (a general in the army) and we learn all about the Laz virus, the dystopian world they live in and follow a romance. I loved Ms. Habel's take on how people become zombies and that not all become the drooling, mindless monsters we are used to seeing in books and movies. The only thing I might have changed was leaving out the chapters by Wolfe and some of Victor's as they may not have been needed. Still a really great book. I cannot wait to pick up the next book to see what happens to them all.


About the Author:
I'm an author, and consequently spend the majority of my days locked up in my own head. When I'm actually actively participating in the groundbreaking experiment in groupthink known as "reality," you'll find me designing and sewing costumes, trying to teach myself to play roller derby (I do not tackle pedestrians, contrary to popular belief), planning trips, and watching zombie movies. 

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