FairyLoot August 2020 | Unboxing

FairyLoot August 2020: Let the Games Begin

Featured Book: Star Daughter by Shveta Thakar

Monthly Character Cards: Nevernight inspired characters illustrated by Katherine Britt

An Ember in the Ashes inspired Book Sleeve (Laia & Elias): designed by @monolimeart

Hunting Prince Dracula inspired Hardcover Notebook: by @noverantale with artwork by @taratjah

Aurora Rising Enamel Pin: designed by @ironandinkdesigns

Nevernight (Mia & Mr Kindly) Metal Bookmark: designed by @taratjah

Golden Egg Bath Bomb: created by @littleheartgifts

Scythe inspired Magnet: by @tararjah

Upon opening my box I actually gasped. This box left me speechless. I’m so in love with everything 😭🤩 FairyLoot definitely spoiled us with this book. One could say everything here was out of this world 😁✨

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Lobizona | Review

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Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Where can I find this? Goodreads | Book Depository | Booktopia | Google Play | Apple

“You’re saying if no one’s told my story before… I get to tell it the way I want?” ~ Romina Garber, Lobizona

Behold! Marvel at this cover art! Read the synopsis! Isn’t this promising? Doesn’t this make you wish you had a copy? Because, yes—after seeing the cover art and the synopsis, I desperately wanted to read this book. I needed this book. And the bookish gods of Netgalley smiled graciously on me and granted my earnest wish.

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my face @ netgalley. yes, I’m aware I’m probably annoying lol

In Lobizona, we follow Manuela (Manu) as she navigates life without detection. Hiding from both the US government and from the people of her father’s past, Manu is undocumented and unprotected. Isolated due to hiding, secrecy is Manu’s constant companion besides Perla and Ma. But hiding Manu isn’t the only secret that gets discovered. When Manu’s mother is taken by ICE, Manu discovers a magical world that is eerily familiar… Now in a magical world, Manu wages forward to uncover the secrets that gnawed on her since childhood. And just like the secrets that fought so hard to remain hidden, Manu must fight harder to uncover the truth.

Plot
The book weaves Argentinean folklore surrounding lobizon and bruja into Manu’s world which presents an interesting aspect into the novel. I liked how Argentinean culture was incorporated into the storytelling. Garber naturally incorporates Spanish into the dialogue. I appreciate how flawless and natural it was. However, the Spanish can make the reading experience disjointed if you’re not familiar with the language. There were times where the narrator (Manu) will translate, and other times where one can gauge the meaning from context and times where you won’t get it. I’ll be honest, I’ve never formally learnt Spanish nor learnt how to read it but can only understand and pick it up from sound (because 1. I’m uneducated hahah and 2. that’s how I learnt—when a family member spoke). Often, I’d have to pause and read passages aloud for my two brain cells to figure out the translation. Yes, I’m a child of immigrant parents and as a result, lost my mother’s tongue to assimilating to the culture I lived in… I’m like the meme:

‘Me? Bilingual? More like, bye-lingual’

Therefore, pausing and rereading some phrases often impacted my reading experience. I’m already a slow reader haha… ANYWAY! I like how Garber unapologetically and fluidly weaves Spanish into her novel.

Lobizona is broken down into four phases. I won’t say much to spoil the story; however, the story really picks up in phase two for me. In phase two, we discover more about this magical world. The world-building felt a little thin and due to that, the story felt more of magical realism rather than fantasy.

This book takes a while to get into the promised action. After the 40%, that’s where all the action began and it was great. Although, the pacing felt disjointed at times. For example, the first 40-50% of the book we are dragging our feet to this magical world. And then, at the last 15-20% action happens! All! At! Once! I’d appreciate if there were moments for the audience to process all that is going on.

Despite the pacing, I did appreciate Garber’s writing style. Garber weaves emotions well into her characters without weighing down the narrative with too many descriptions. The read was compelling and I read this novel in one sitting.

Characters
I love an underdog character. With everything going on, you can’t help but root for Manu! I was invested in her and her dreams. Yeah, she has her insecurities and doubts, but Manu is determined despite all odds. She dreams and yearns for more and when an opportunity shows itself, she’ll take it. I liked that about her. However, the chosen one trope is strong in this one. If you’re not a fan, you may not enjoy the incessant specialness of Manu. I’m a fan of the chosen trope so I’m never really bothered by such things—in fact, I relish in it.

Other than Manu, there is a large cast in this book (I can’t remember all their names but I remember Cata and Sasya—the two other girls). I enjoyed Manu’s and Sasya’s interactions. Sasya is a kind and gentle soul, the welcoming friend to Manu. Whereas, Cata is perceived to be the ‘mean girl’ who is ruthless to Manu. I wasn’t a fan of how that part was portrayed like the typical ‘popular girl mean to the new girl’ trope.

Another aspect I didn’t enjoy was the romance. long sigh yes, the romance. I didn’t like how the romance gave a forbidden vibe to it (spoiler-y: more like almost cheating vibes). And when the truth came out it felt convenient and cheap. Also, I couldn’t understand why the love interest and Manu had feelings for each other? It felt superficial. I would rather focus on other pressing matters, such as Manu’s mother and Manu’s discoveries.

Enjoyment
Aside from the romance, there were many aspects I liked. I liked how alienation and challenging the norm was a major factor in this book. I liked how the themes of alienation and immigration were woven in the story. Manu’s fear of discovery rings true to too many people. Garber writes well, enveloping the reader into Manu’s world that you feel the constant fear and even the threat in living. But despite the fear, there’s the unyielding hope. It was hope in the characters that I loved in this book. Lobizon grapples with and comments on various themes such as misogyny, privilege, undocumented immigrants, amongst many more and I deeply appreciated it did so.

I, myself am a child of immigrants and I have experienced cultural assimilation so on one side, parts of this book resonated with me. I liked how powerful Garber wrote various aspects (especially the first phase). Again, I liked how she wove another language into her book so naturally and how this book was an easy and compelling read. I just wished there were more. In actuality, I think I had higher expectations due to wanting to really love this book. (Why do I do this to myself?) Despite that, I’m very curious to see where this tale (or… tail) will go.

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Recommended for: fans of fantasy schools with magical creatures, fans of YA fantasy, latinx readers looking for latinx authors, people looking for diverse books

Content warning: xenophobia, sexism, bullying, trauma, misogyny, homophobia

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Unboxing: May FairyLoot 2020

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May FairyLoot 2020: Desert Dreams

I was pleasantly surprised upon seeing a FairyLoot box on my doorstep. And this month did not disappoint! This was such a gorgeous box and I’m so glad to be subscribed to FairyLoot. And now, for the unboxing…

Featured Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn: by Melissa Bashardoust

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Blurb from Goodreads

With an exclusive pink cover, green sprayed edges, reverse artwork in the dust jacket illustrated by @orikye, and signed by the author, this book is my favourite cover change yet from FairyLoot! This edition is absolutely gorgeous.

Monthly Character Cards: Throne of Glass inspired characters designed by @Gabriella.bujdoso

City of Brass inspired Tea Towel: designed by @eviebookish

Dessert Bath Salts: made by Little Heart Gifts

An Ember in the Ashes inspired Tribal Desert Candle: by Wick and Fable

The Forbidden Wish inspired Sunglasses Pouch: designed by @kitstercronk

Hero of the Fall inspired Wooden Spoon: designed by @kdpletters

We Hunt the Flame inspired Bookish Tin: designed by @chattynora

This box arrived earlier than my other boxes so I was surprised when it turned up. Also, my tracking wasn’t updated. Yes, my boxes had been shipped with Hermes…

Anyway! Other than the book, I absolutely loved the Bookish Tin! I love the design and how useful it can be. I’m not sure what I’d put in the tin right now (probably tea, or something) but I’ve already placed it on my shelf. Overall, this was a gorgeous box and again, I was thoroughly impressed.

What are your thoughts on this box? Like any of the items?

 

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Bookstaversary (Bookstagram Anniversary)

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Like many people, I’ve always enjoyed reading and then stumbled a little corner of the internet filled with fellow book lovers. I discovered Bookstagram, Booktube, and later, Book twitter and loved the concept of it. After many hours (possibly hours) of perusing Bookstagram and binge-watching Booktube, I decided to join the Book community. One year later, and who knows how much dollars spent, I’ve joined a beautiful community and filled the spaces of both my bookshelf and heart with amazing friends and books. 

I’ve made many book friends in the book community and they spark so much joy in my life. Not only do they hold bookish chats, readathons, but also go above and beyond and somehow sent me bookish candles for my birthday. How sweet and thoughtful! 

The candles my beautiful bookish friends gifted me included two candles—’Cardan’ and ‘Jude’. The two candles are inspired by the characters in The Folk in the Air trilogy (The Cruel Prince). The Cardan candle has a fruity aroma and smells so delicious! On the other hand, the Jude candle smells of cinnamon. Also, not only do these candles smell amazing, they are also gorgeous to look at!

Anyway, the past year has been truly amazing and I am so glad to have joined the online book community.

Bookstagram made me do it. Cruel Prince was the first book Bookstagram influenced me to read. This book is Illumicrate’s edition of The Cruel Prince. Also, look at the gorgeous candles my Bookstagram fam gifted me—aren’t they so pretty?

 

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Girl, Serpent, Thorn | Currently Reading

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After reading on-and-off for a few weeks, I decided to be much more intentional with my reading. And what better way than to join a read-along? FairyLoot holds monthly read-alongs and despite the shipping delays, I received my May book just before the cut-off date to join.

My current read, a YA fantasy

So far, I’m really enjoying it. It’s great to be back into reading.

What are you currently reading?

 

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Of The Blood | Review

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𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Of The Blood

𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Cameo Renea

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: ★★☆☆☆

I’ll be honest, the cover sucked me right in. The characters look intriguing and deadly. And the premise is promising! However, upon reading this, I discovered this was going to be difficult to rate because whilst I can appreciate this book for what it is, it wasn’t for me.

 

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Continue reading “Of The Blood | Review”