September 10, 2017

Sunday Street Team Tour | Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller ARC Review + Giveaway

Sunday Street Team Tour | Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller ARC Review + Giveaway

Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1) by Linsey Miller
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 29th 2017
Pages: 352
AmazonBarnes & NobleTBD

I Needed to Win.They Needed to Die.
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.
But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

  • Descriptions: I genuinely loved how Miller described the surroundings and the land that Sal lived in. It was that perfect place of not to prose-y in which can set people back with boredom and not to simple as to lead the same thing to happen to people who prefer prose (gosh, I hope that made any sense whatsoever). I absolutely loved how the description of how each of the Queens Assassins Guild, The Left Hand, were represented by different color rings on the Queen’s left hand. 
  • Sal’s genderfluid representation: I am a cisgendered female and so my understanding of genderfluidity is nil and I am not the one that should be speaking about this. For a specifically #ownvoices reviewer please see Wren over at For The Love of Books for their review. With that being said I have seen a lot of people talk about the fact that Sal’s gender does not play a part an intrical part of story and I find that refreshing. Fuck yes, a book that doesn’t need to teach anyone anything about why they should feel like this character is a human being and deserving of love, respect, and care and how real people like them in our own society do TO!  Sometimes, it’s just good to have a book center around a character of a different sexuality/gender/race/religion without it having to be the whole book.
  • Competition: This is just my taste, but I love books about competition. I also really love that said competition has challenges that actually seem to fit with how they’re training and what position they’re competing to win. I’ve read so many books that seem to be competitions to just seem competition-y.
  • Info-dumpy beginning: Now this is just somewhat a picky thing on my part but I have a hard time connecting to a story that just dumps information on my lap and says “here you go now you know”. This could be chalked up to the fact that I believe this is Miller’s debut novel and so it gets a slight pass from me.
  • Romance: Meh, I get the romance, but then again, it could have probably been left out and I would have been completely fine with just having Sal do their assassin thing.
  • Number Aliases: Ahhh, I get having code or pet names for people but I could not find myself connecting to characters as I should be with the way that the aliases were set up.  It just did not work for me and kept throwing me off the flow of the story. Most of the issues with the writing style I can get over but this made it so difficult to read this book that it became frustrating at times.
  • No sense of struggle: While I commend Miller on her ability to not fall back on her characters genderfluidity as a way of creating tension (thank you!) I think that there still needed to be something. You’d really think a book about an assassin competition would feel…more. I guess maybe off my other assassin/competition books I was expecting too much out of this book and it was more of a “me and not you” sort of situation but it still was disappointing.

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Join the other stops on the tour:

9/3 Tour Stops

Interview – Emily Reads Everything

Unique Post  – Roecker Reviews

Review – Bayy In Wonderland

Review – Bookishly Thinking

9/10  Tour Stops

Interview – Tween 2 Teen Books

Review –Charmingly Simple

Review – Pondering The Prose

Interview  – When Curiosity Killed The Cat

9/17  Tour Stops

Interview – YA and Wine

Style Boards – Here’s To Happy Endings

Review – Areli Reads

Review – The Hermit Librarian

Interview – Sarcasm and Lemons

9/24 Tour Stops

Interview – Flyleaf Chronicles

Review –  Books N Calm

Review – A Thousand Words A Million Books

Guest Post – Written Infinities


September 11, 2016

Not a Witch, a Bruja | Labyrinth Lost ARC Review

Not a Witch, a Bruja | Labyrinth Lost ARC ReviewLabyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1) by Zoraida Córdova
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 6th 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from Publisher

"Enchanting and complex. Every page is filled with magic."-Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
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 marks 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...
Praise for Labyrinth Lost:
"Zoraida Cordova's prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic." -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight
"Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine's journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family." -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix
"A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante's Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary." -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper
"Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish." -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined."


My Review

**I was so lucky to receive an ARC of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova on Netgalley. This by no means effects the honesty of my opinion.**

When I began Labyrinth Lost I hadn’t heard much about it other than it was a diverse book about Latino version of witches (respectfully called bruja). With that being said, I was completely hooked. I love anything that deals with magic and that added with a different cultures spin on it I couldn’t help but pick it up.

This story centers on Alex, a bruja who would rather just be a regular teenager than have anything to do with the magic that flows through her veins. Past events have made Alex terrified of her magic and that fear and want to be normal trigger many disastrous events. These events lead her to the troubled boy Nova, a terrifyingly beautiful brujo that Alex cannot trust but feels a connection with that she has never felt with anyone else.

I felt absolutely immersed in this world of Alex and her family. Cordova paints such a beautiful picture of not only the magic but of Los Lagos, a sort of Limbo that has a very Wonderland mix of oddity and sinister nature. There were actual times where I could imagine this land and how devastated it had become due to events before the story started.

One of the things that I loved the most about this story was how important family and friendship are in Labyrinth Lost. It is weaved into every aspect of this story and that is completely awesome to me. When Alex wasn’t fighting or trying to find her family she had the support of her best friend Rashi. Alex is bisexual and there is a quasi love triangle between Alex, Rashi, and Nova but I was actually okay with it. The relationships and love/lust aspect seem to happen naturally without it seeming that Alex was going to pick one or the other. I especially love that Alex’s bisexuality was not used as a plot point. She just was bisexual and no one seemed to think one way or another about it and it was treated as completely normal.  I have read many stories that when the main character is bisexual that the story seems to lose all plot and it seems to become a story about the characters sexuality. I understand that these books are needed, but I think that books that normalize bisexuality, homosexuality, and all other types of diversity are needed as well!

The only thing that I had an issue with was the fact I did not find any danger to the quest Alex was on. I had a feeling that everything was always going to work out and in a way everything did. I loved the twists and turns that did happen and ultimately despite my issues with the pacing and lack of danger it did damage my overall love of this book. Labyrinth Lost is an excellent diverse read that will make you want to hug your family and believe in magic.