Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Tag: The Lunar New Year Book Tag

To everyone who is celebrating

I am happy to be celebrating with The Lunar New Year Book Tag, which was created by Tiff@Mostly YA Lit and  Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts.

There are so many books being released by authors I love, but since I am forced to pick one, I would pick Fall Boys & Dizzy in Paradise by Jandy Nelson. Both of Nelson's previous works, I'll Give You the Sun and The Sky is Everywhere, were exquisite, and I cannot wait to read more from her.

Confession: I am not a re-reader. I don't re-watch TV shows or movies, and I do not re-read. So, I am going to go with an author who's books always give me comfort. I have a short of list of authors who fit this bill, but I am going to say Kasie West and I am really excited because KWest has two new books coming out this year. Yeah!

For me, it would be attending a bookish event. Back in 2015, we just could not get enough of cons and book festivals. On a whim, I decided to go to YALLFest. The actual festival is free, and the ticketed events were very cheap, but the airfare and the hotel were $$$$$$. I am so glad I went, because it is a fantastic event. Charleston is beautiful, the crowd was awesome, the panels were fantastic, and I even brought back some amazing ARCs. All in all, an amazing experience.

This is such a hard question. One author, who's work I really enjoyed and I heard she will soon give us the third book in her series, is Shana Abe. Her writing is gorgeous and her storytelling is amazing. I totally love all her books.

I am a big fan of Rae Carson, because she writes these phenomenal female characters. I loved Lee Westfall from The Gold Seer Trilogy. She was strong, resilient, and self sacrificing. Another kick ass heroine to add to the list. 

I am going WAAAAY back for this one, and selecting Go Ask Alice.  I read this book almost 30 years ago, and can still remember how gritty, real, and powerful the book was. **When I was looking this up on GoodReads I just had my mind blown by finding out it was actually written by a therapist and NOT an actual teen diary. 

Gosh. I love sweet romances, and have read tons of them. One author I can count on for an adorable romance is Jennifer E Smith. One of my favorites is This is What Happy Looks Like. I just looked at my original review, and it was simply: "I did not want it to end. I want more of G and E!", and then JES went and gave me a follow-up novella, which was touch and go, but ended up making me warm and fuzzy in the end.

I love books with royalty, and one of my recent faves was My Lady Jane. This book was so witty and fun. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. 

The Thousandth Floor was filled with manipulative characters. This book had that soapy appeal with characters that you love to hate, but a stand out in this book was Leda. She was so damaged. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. 

Three of my top five 2016 books were standalones, but since I can only choose one, I will pick one that I want to get more love - We Are Still Tornadoes. This book hit all the right notes for me. It made me laugh, cry, and sigh. It was just a beautiful story of love and friendship and I want everyone to experience it. 

This is the true struggle for me, because I am such a cover-ho. I unabashedly judge books by their covers, and am totally attracted to beautiful ones. There are A LOT of lovely covered books on my TBR, but I shall select one I read, and I select the entire Starbound series. Every one of these covers is a veritable feast for the eyes, and the series was incredible as well. 

This is not even a recent character, but one that stands out nonetheless. I loved Hassan from An Abundance of Katherines. He was so funny and stole every scene he was in. 

This was a challenge and a lot of fun to do. Yay! I completed my first book tag, and if you are reading this, I invite you to participate in this wonderful book tag.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review: Glass Sword - Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword
Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, #2
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After reading and loving Red Queen, I was anxiously waiting for Glass Sword. Being that I've kind of been on a book buying ban, I decided to wait for it at the elibrary, which ended up meaning waiting until September to finally make my way to the top of the wait list. While Glass Sword was a decent next installment in the series and certainly a good second book, it really did not live up to my expectations.

For people who've yet to start this series, it definitely has a Hunger Games feel to it. There are the obvious parallels - dystopian society with a girl who defies the odds and fights for the people - but more than that, the narration itself is similar style. Both series are written in a first person, present-tense style, which is not something I recall coming across in any other books I've read. If you liked the narration style of The Hunger Games, I'd definitely recommend checking out the Red Queen series.

Glass Sword starts out very slowly. Honestly, for the first 40% of the book, I felt like nothing was happening. Of course, things were happening, but there was so much complaining about the same things over and over again in the narration that it would put me to sleep. No, really - I usually read for a little while on my Kindle before I fall asleep, but I would fall asleep after less than a page of Glass Sword in that first 40%. It took me over 3 months to make it through that much of the book. (For those of you concerned that I borrowed a library book for 3 months, I kind of cheated the system and turned the wifi off on my Kindle so I could keep reading without extending my loan.) I almost DNFed the book because I found that I was not excited to read it.

While the first half of the book was not great for me, I'm glad I kept reading because the book definitely improved drastically from there. While the first half of the book sets up the story, the second half is the follow through - the story starts to go in a completely different and more exciting direction (in my opinion). There was still a lot of the same complaining in the narration that I found a bit annoying, but it was more bearable since it was interspersed with action sequences.

Overall impression, I definitely can't say I loved this book, but I wouldn't avoid the series because of it - this installment was still satisfying enough that it makes the series (thus far) worth it. I was saddened by some of the loses in the book, but there are a bunch of great new characters and tons of possibilities for King's Cage. I'm interested to see where it goes, especially after what happened at the end!

Do you have any favorite second books in a series?
Let us know in the comments!

Stuffed Animal Saturday:
Secrets of a Reluctant Princess

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books to showcase the book we're currently reading with one of our favorite stuffed animals and discuss our stuffed animal's opinion (well, it's really our opinion, but that's besides the point). We hope you enjoy our quirky feature as much as we enjoy writing it!

This Saturday, Fat Panda and I are reading Secrets of a Reluctant Princess.

Blurb from Goodreads: 
At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

So far:
When her father's success brings Adrianna to Beverly Hills, she sees it as a fresh start and is trying to avoid the mistakes that made her a target at her old school. With the help of her stylist, she falls in with a popular crowd at school, but she often has to suppress parts of herself, as she fears these parts would not be appreciated by her new friends. The bright spot in her week is when she dons her mask and goes LARPing as Princess Andy.

This story is really cute. I am totally in love with Kevin. The interactions between him and Adrianna are quite adorable. I am totally shipping these two. But if I had to pick one favorite thing about the book, I would say it is all the LARPing parts. I almost want to slip into a tunic, grab my boffer and get out there with them.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out for everybody in this book.

Look for my review on March 13th.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Poison's Kiss - Breeana Shields

Poison's Kiss 
Breeana Shields
Series: Poison's Kiss, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge: #DiverseReads2017, #DebutAuthorChallenge

He knows what I am, what Gopal made me. A visha kanya, a poison maiden capable of killing with nothing more than a kiss as a weapon.
There are so many reasons why I chose to read this book.
  1. Female assassin 
  2. Her weapon is her kiss
  3. A story steeped in Indian folklore
  4. All MCs are POCs 
  5. It is a debut and I am participating in the Debut Authors Challenge
What can I say, I have a thing for female assassins. I was very captivated by this concept of an assassin. Marinda was not Celaena. She was not a fierce physical warrior, rather her body was made into a weapon (the process was quite unsettling to read about). She was also a reluctant assassin, forced into servitude when she was 5 years old, who never really questioned her purpose or who she served. This is where it get juicy, and I will not say more, because I would hate to spoil the story for you.

This book is based on Indian folklore, and I have always loved folklore and mythology. I was very excited to step into this world, as I am not well acquainted with Indian folklore. I did have expectations, though, because I live in a township with a high Indian population (Iselin, NJ - look it up), and know that this is a lavish and vibrant culture. Shields did not disappoint me at all. Her descriptions were quite rich. From the spices in the food and the smells of the market place, to the scenery and clothing worn, she created a very lush landscape for me to explore. 

I really liked and empathized with Marinda. She was sold by her parents, turned into an assassin, and her only kisses have been for murderous reasons. Stuff like that can get a girl down, but she tried to find solace in loving Mani, her little brother. I liked that Shields had her struggling with her role as an assassin and her personal beliefs. This was important for me and retained that humanistic side of Marinda. 
"Thank you," I say past the lump in my throat. Thank you for making me feel like a normal girl and not a poisoned one. 
Yeah, I had a little lump in my throat too. 

Seriously, sometimes being in Marinda's head broke my heart. She wasn't the only character I grew attached to though. I loved her little monkey, Mani. His relationship with Marinda was quite beautiful and he was just so adorable. And once Deven was added to the mix, it was nothing but smiles when the three of them interacted. I have to say that there was one character who I found really interesting - Iyla. Marinda and Iyla grew up together. Iyla was groomed to be the spy and Marinda was made into the assassin. Towards the end, when I got more details, I better understood their very complicated relationship, and really like the way Shields let it play out. I am hoping the next book will include more of the Marinda-Iyla friendship, as I want it to grow more and get back to where it once was.
"Her comment makes me wonder how much of our anger toward each other is because we've been looking through a window in the dark instead of in daylight - we thought we were seeing each other, but it turns out we were only seeing ourselves."
Sometimes, this friendship made me sad. 

But getting back to Deven! Let's talk about the romance. Although the romance was not the crux of this story, it was part of it, and sort of the impetus for Marinda's initial acts of defiance. The romance was very sweet. Again, another complicated relationship, but I couldn't help but root for these two. I really, really wanted this for Marinda.
"I have kissed dozens of boys, but I have never been kissed. Until this moment I didn't know there was a difference. I didn't know kissing could be like this - like creating instead of destroying, like beginnings and not endings. Like melting. Like love." 

This book had a lot to offer in terms of story. There was action, espionage, romance, and deception. I was all in from the start, and I pretty much tore through this book. The pacing was brisk and I was interested the from the beginning to the end. 

So why 4.5 stars instead of 5? I was slightly put off by the very, very end of the book. The transition to the next phase of the story was a little awkward. It wasn't bad, but it did not flow as well as the rest of the book, and I was just staring at that last page slightly confused.

A photo posted by Sam Kozbial (@kozbisa) on
Overall: A fast paced adventure with lovely writing and interesting plot twists. 

**I would like to thank Random House for the advanced copy of this book. Please be advised all quotes are from an advance reader's copy and may change in the finished book.

What are some of your favorite mythologies?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reading Challenges Update

2017 NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 
Hosted by Bookish Things & More

It seems I cannot resist a reading challenge. Since my initial post this year, I have joined even more reading challenges. It's actually a lot of fun keeping track, checking in, and seeing how other people are working their challenges.

The latest challenge I joined is the 2017 NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge.

(click the image for more details)

True story: I requested a book on NetGalley, and was immediately denied. So, I requested a few more, thinking that I would face rejection after rejection. Color me surprised! I keep getting approved (Don't worry, I have NOT requested any new books since then!) With all these new ARCs, my feedback ratio has dropped to 75%. I thought joining this challenge would be a fun way to get my ratio back above the magic number (80%).

I have decided I will go for the gold, and try to read 50 of my eARCs. I have a few books on my NetGalley shelf already so I am off to a great start.

Are you participating in any reading challenges?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Stuffed Animal Saturday:
Optimists Die First

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books to showcase the book we're currently reading with one of our favorite stuffed animals and discuss our stuffed animal's opinion (well, it's really our opinion, but that's besides the point). We hope you enjoy our quirky feature as much as we enjoy writing it!

This Saturday, Swanky Bubbles and I are reading Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen.

Blurb from Goodreads: 
Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk. 

So far:

I will not lie. I had no idea what this book was about before I started it. Kiersten brought it home, and the cover was compelling enough, so I thought I would give it a try. I am about half way through, and I must say, this book is wonderful.

Part of the blurb on the back cover, pretty much summed it up for me
One pessimist. One optimist. One love story. Award-winning author Susin Nielsen's irresistible novel is both heartrending and laugh-out-loud funny. 
There are these parts, where tears creep into my eyes, and then there are these other parts, where I just have to laugh. At this point, I am so invested in Petula's life. I want her family to heal. I want her to heal. I am just rooting for all to be well in her world again.

Swanky Bubbles is also really enjoying this book. He especially loved the part where Petula and Jacob make a short of Wuthering Heights starring cats.

Keep an eye out for my review in February.

Are you and your 
stuffed animal reading anything interesting? 
Let us know in your own 
Stuffed Animal Saturday!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Love and First Sight - Josh Sundquist

Love and First Sight 
Josh Sundquist
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge: #ContRom2017, #PopSugarReadingChallenge2017

Excuse me as I wipe the tears

This was such a sweet and beautiful story of love and friendship, as well as, a story to spread awareness. I knew of Josh Sundquist from my daughter showing me his awesome Halloween costumes, and was interested in reading a book about someone with a disability written by a person with a disability (who also happens to be an advocate for amputees, a paralympian, and a motivational speaker).

A photo posted by Sam Kozbial (@kozbisa) on

When I was in college, my sorority did service for sight, and I had a blind student in my honors chemistry class which required some training with the NJ Commission for the Blind. Therefore, I have some (limited) experience with blind people, and was quite impressed with the information disseminated by Sundquist, and the way he shared the information. I appreciated how he acquainted me with the world of the blind. It did not feel preachy, it felt honest. The interactions between Cecily and Will reminded me of similar interactions I had when being a guide for a person who had never had sight. I totally related to Cecily's struggle to NOT use visuals to describe things, and I adored the way Sundquist had her work that out.

At one point in the story, there is a surgery discussed that could possibly enable Will to see. There is a lot of technical talk when the characters discuss this issue, and I found it all really fascinating. I was so struck by the way Will talked about what it would be like to see for the first first time. How it would be the same as a newborn, but how he could remember it and appreciate it so much more. It's amazing what complicated stuff we passively learn, and I was awed reading about the journey from Will's perspective.

This story is well constructed, and moves along quickly without seeming rushed. I felt like there were no throw-away scenes, but rather, each scene was important in fleshing out the story. The characters were quite authentic and likable. Will was not perfect, but he had so many stellar qualities. Cecily had been bullied her whole life, but was able to find comfort and security in Will's friendship. The quiz team were a great group of friends, who adorably were rooting for Wilecily to happen. Mom and Dad were very present parents (Yay!), and there is this one part with his mom that, heck, I am getting misty thinking about it right now.

Overall: This was a very positive experience with me, which left me appreciating many things and put happy tears in my eyes.

Have you read any great books 
featuring people with disabilities?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday:
These Ruthless Deeds

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zetas.

These Ruthless Deeds
Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Series: These Vicious Masks, #2
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Waited on by: Sam

England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears...

My TBR is endless! Obviously, I am waiting on A LOT of books. However, I tend to be a little more eager for sequels, because I NEED to find out what happens next. 

I recently read These Vicious Masks, and was really excited that the sequel would be out soon. I throughly enjoyed my first visit to this world and am excited to return. Victorian England, magic, romance - I was all in. The characters were  totally witty and sardonic -- I loved them, and I need to know their fates! For instance, how is the love triangle going to play out? I am totally shipping Evelyn and Braddock, but the authors didn't consult with me, so I am not sure where the romance is going. I want to know more about the evil society, their dastardly deeds, and the "gifts" the characters have too. I hope to get all those things in the sequel, but I also hope the wit and humor from book 1 continues.

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gem Books I've Read in the Past Year Or So

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Here at We Live and Breathe Books, two of us choose five books each week. This weeks topic is...

Hidden gem books I've read in the past year or so!

Kiersten's Picks

S.J. Goslee
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Whatever. is a really fun coming of age story about a boy who realizes he is gay (or bisexual, I'm not entirely sure what he lands upon in the end). The story is filled with humor and the awkwardness of being a high school student, and just feels really honest - I felt like I could have known these characters in high school. For more thoughts, check out my review here!

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies
Laura Stampler
Publisher: Simon Pulse

This book had a really similar vibe to Jane by Design, True Jackson VP, and The Carrie Diaries - all television shows that I really loved. The concept of this book was super cute, the cast of characters had such a wide variety of personality, and the book was generally non-stop fun. Check out my full review here!

The Museum of Heartbreak
Meg Leder
Publisher: Simon Pulse

The Museum of Heartbreak was such a sweet and heartfelt book. I really liked the main character and how much she grew throughout the book - she starts out so naive and has to struggle through her coming-of-age story. I loved how this book touched on several different kinds of heartbreak rather than just a romantic one. For more thoughts, check out my review here!

Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Scythe was absolutely phenomenal. While the concept of reapers isn't an original one, the way Shusterman took the reaper concept and combined it with the idea of immortality was absolutely brilliant. This book was a wild ride, but it also made me really think about life and what is important. Review to come soon!

The Graces
Laura Eve
Series: The Graces, #1
Publisher: Amulet Books

I talk about this book and witch books A Lot but only because I think they're really great ok let me live. This book had a really mystical vibe that I can't really explain - it kind of made me feel like I was in the song Nearly Witches by Panic! at the Disco (which is on the playlist I made inspired by the book). Full review and playlist to be posted soon!

Sam's Picks

Hidden gems is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about
Using the definition above, I went through my read shelf trying to identify those books that I considered gems. This was a really difficult list to compile. There were so many books I read last year, which I think deserve more love. I eventually settled on the five below. These were five star reads for me, and all were 2016 releases except Dahlia Moss, which was a 2015 release, but is being released in paperback format next month.

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Max Wirestone
Publisher: Redhook

This book was so much fun. I laughed so hard and so often, my face hurt. Dahlia Moss is a geeky Veronica Mars, who is hired to find a stolen spear. It’s not a real spear though. It’s a spear that was stolen within an online game. However, the crimes from inside the game soon spill from the virtual world to the real world. This was a hilarious trip through geek culture, and I loved every minute of it. (review)

Don't Get Caught
Kurt Dinan
Publisher: Sourcebooks

I have seen several hybrids thrown around to describe this book - Breakfast Club meets Goonies and Breakfast Club meets Ocean’s Eleven probably come closest to the feel of this book. In this story, five people from different social cliques come together for revenge. There are mysteries, pranks and lots of hijinks. I apparently have all the love for amusing books, because this one that was really fun too, and to quote my own review: “You will cheer when the Five succeed, and feel a little bummed when they fail, but man, you will laugh, smile, and fist pump many times along the way.” (review)

Phantom Limbs
Paula Garner
Publisher: Candlewick

All I can say is - Otis. Otis. Otis. Otis. I loved this kid. He was really very special, and I want everyone to read this book and meet Otis. Besides him, there are many other things to love about this book. There is the return of Otis’ first love, who had abruptly excised him from her life, and there’s Darla the promising olympian, who’s career was cut short when she lost her arm. There are the multiple meanings of the term Phantom Limb, which I gleaned from this story and left such a huge impression on me. I have nothing but love for this book. (review)

It's Not Me, It's You
Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publisher: Point

Another book that left me in stitches. Avery is charged with collecting an oral history for her final project, and decides to do one based on her disastrous love life. The oral history format allowed for so many POVs without being overwhelming, and the editor's notes always left me laughing. There were many times I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. But this book was more than funny, it was charming and sweet and I just cannot say enough about it. (review)

We Are Still Tornadoes
Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Talk about #FriendshipGoals. This is an epistolary novel chronicling Cath and Scott’s first year out of high school. Cath went away to college, while Scott joined his father in the family business. As they keep in touch via these letters, their friendship grows and changes. I just had so many feels! Cute, charming, heartwarming, swoony — there are not enough adjectives available to me. (review)

What are some hidden gems you read last year?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas

The Darkest Corners
Kara Thomas
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Delacorte Press and First in Line for the ARC I received at YALLFest!
Full disclosure: I'm reviewing this book four months after reading it because I'm the worst.

The Darkest Corners follows Tessa as she returns to Fayette, Pennsylvania, the place she used to live before Bad Things happened. Tessa and her former friend Callie witnessed a murder, and neither of them were the same after. Callie's family was torn apart, her cousin being the murder victim, and Tessa's mother and sister ended up abandoning her, which meant her being sent to live with her grandmother in Florida. But when Tessa returns to Fayette and reunites with Callie, they start to think about the murder again, wondering if things didn't happen quite how they had thought before.

There are so many layers to the mystery of The Darkest Corners. At first it seems like there's only one real mystery, but then there are multiple mysteries, all entangled together. There were so many things happening throughout the book, and it was all so fascinating. Peeling back each layer and learning more about what was truly happening kept me flipping the pages straight through to the end.

While the book was super thrilling and shocking, there were some moments that I was just like, "Really?" Some of the plot points were a little farfetched, but it sort of adds to the style of the book. Kind of like a soap opera or tele-novella - it was like the worst possible thing would always happen next. And I couldn't look away.

I wouldn't say I fell in love with any of the characters, but being a mystery/thriller, I feel like that's kind of a good thing. The back cover of my ARC says, "By the last page, there will be no one left to trust," and I think that's a really accurate portrayal of how I felt about the characters. With all the twists in this book, I wasn't sure if I could trust any of the characters.

While thriller isn't a genre I usually grab for, I'm really happy I had the opportunity to read The Darkest Corners. It was absolutely thrilling, and the ending was so crazy and then I totally freaked out at the end of the epilogue. So creepy. This definitely isn't a predictable mystery, and I highly recommend this!

What's one of your favorite thrillers/mysteries?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Labyrinth Lost - Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost
Zoraida Cordova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #MontlyMotifs, #DiverseReads2017, #PopSugarReadingChallenge2017

As you may or may not know, I am participating in the Monthly Motif Reading Challenge. January's task was to read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own. I selected Labyrinth Lost, because it is written by Zoraida Cordova, an Ecuadorian author, and the main character, Alex, is a bisexual Latina witch. This book ticked all the boxes for this challenge, and was the perfect choice.

A photo posted by Sam Kozbial (@kozbisa) on

Alex comes from a long line of powerful witches, or brujas. Her younger sister has the sight; her older sister can heal people, however, it appears as though Alex has not yet come into her powers. Yes, it appears that her powers have not manifested, but in reality, she is very powerful, and blames magic for all her problems. Alex longs to rid herself of her magic, and her attempt at the canto results in her family being sent to another realm from which Alex must rescue them. 

This book was such an adventure. There are so many things Cordova does right in this novel.

The characters are very well developed. I felt like I was well acquainted with Nova and Alex. Cordova gave so much backstory on the two, I was totally able to understand their motives for their actions and decisions. She also crafted wonderful secondary characters: Lady, Lula, Rose, Alex's mom, and Aunt Ro were well drawn, and enriched the story. 

The cultural and magical aspects were so interesting. I am NOT well versed in brujas, therefore, I ate up everything Cordova had to offer regarding this subject. From the descriptions of the clothing and hair, to the food and dance, she really painted a vivid picture of Alex's world for me. And the magic! The magic was pretty fantastic! I felt that the author integrated a through knowledge base of bruja magic so seamlessly into the story. I never felt like I was in the middle of an info dump, rather,  I felt well prepared to understand and enjoy what was going on in the story. 

The relationships in this book were so special. I loved the family bond between the sisters, and the way each generation contributed to the shaping of the next. That was just such a beautiful thing. I also really liked the bruja community aspect. I felt the warmth and the love. 

A lot of reviewers are taking about the romantic aspect. There is a love triangle, where Alex is attracted to both a boy and a girl. It's there. It's a minor part of the story (in my opinion), but I think it's great that it's there, in addition to the entire cast appearing to be people of color. (#ownvoices)

To me, this was a coming of age story for a bruja. She had to confront her past in order to embrace her purpose. It was also a story of family, and how she loved without boundaries. 

Overall: A thrilling adventure with a rich cultural and magical side.  

Have you read this book or 
any other books about witches?
Let us know in the comments!