Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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I’m not going to lie, the main reason I got this book is because I saw a bunch of people say it had great f/f bi representation. I’m more into traditional fantasy versus modern, but I still put it on my list, and finally got the chance to read it.

And it was…good. At least that’s how I would describe my feelings after finishing it. I’ll go into more depth here.

First off, it had an amazing diverse cast. Alex’s family reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys’ Blue’s family (which was my favorite thing about that series) but they weren’t your typical white witches. The entire book seeped that Latin American vibe and I LOVED it. I felt like I was immersed in that world, and not once did I see the characters as default-white.

Speaking of the world, oh my Dios, Los Lagos was incredible. It’s no surprise this was picked up for a movie. People compare it to Alice in Wonderland but I disagree. To me it’s more like OZ. There are witches and fairies and everything is alive and filled with magic but not insane or silly magic – real and dangerous and sorrowful. They aren’t mad, they’re surviving.

So then, what, might you ask, is the problem?

There is no problem. It was written well, the bi-love-triangle-that-wasn’t-really-a-love-triangle was fairly well done, and it paced itself perfectly well and wrapped up perfectly well. I liked the characters, there were some twists I didn’t see coming, and overall I enjoyed it.

So, once again, why did it take me a month longer that it should have to finish? I kept putting it down to do other things. At first I couldn’t figure out why. And then I did.

It was that the whole thing felt like a Pixar movie. Somehow, the way it was written, with its little sweet interactions and Alex’s innocence and the darkness and evil and death being so surreal that I saw it in my head like a beautiful animated film. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. I love Pixar movies. They have that darkness while still giving us hope and love and a happy ending. This book was about family and self acceptance, and that’s wonderful, but Alex could have been 13 and it would have still been completely appropriate. Actually, I think it would have been better. Made her a stronger character.

A lot of reviewers are saying they thought it wasn’t intense enough so they didn’t feel scared for the characters, but I think it’s actually that it was too intense. Every corner was life or death, every vision a mirage, every escape deemed impossible. The explanation of ‘magic’ just wasn’t enough to make up for the sheer amount of running and fighting and bleeding and still being able to give more. It was, as I said earlier, surreal, thus taking it into a whole new territory. Still, it’s not a -bad- thing. It’s how this book was laid out and it was great. I just think many of us readers couldn’t relate to the darkness because it’s too cartoony in a way.

All in all, a great story that would make a great Pixar animated film, but I think the target audience is middle grade/teen, not young adult+.

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Vol 1-3

I love the HBO series but I’ve never read the books. As much as I am interested in expanding that world, I simply cannot convince myself to pick up the behemoths that these novels are. So, when I saw this on Bookbub I wanted to check it out as a possible alternative.

The descriptions say that these are based on the books, not the show. They specifically made sure to try and distance it from the show.

They kind of failed.

Either because the show is just that close to the books, or because I’ve never read the books, but I felt like these graphic novels were almost exactly like the show. Verbatim in many parts, things you can’t forget. Sadly, in all three books I haven’t learned a thing that I haven’t already seen on the show.

I wouldn’t say it was a waste of time. The art is beautiful and I enjoyed reliving the awesome twists and turns of the story. But it looks like if I want canon from the book I’d have to read it. Maybe one day…

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

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Let’s rewind.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was good, but not great. I only picked up the second book because everyone said it was amazing and way better than the first.

And it was. A Court of Mist and Fury was probably my favorite book of 2016. I loved it so much I couldn’t wait for book three.

A Court of Wings and Ruin did not disappoint in terms of giving us a great conclusion to the story. We got it all in an epic fantasy format. No more Beauty and the Beast shadows lurking in the background. This was all out war. However, I can’t go into greater detail without spoilers so here’s my warning – spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die #3) by Danielle Paige

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Why did I think this was the last book?

I think the better question is, why wasn’t this the last book?

As much as I love how short and sweet the books in this series are, I think this one was even more filler than the last one. We spend half the book in Kansas, looking for a magical pair of shoes, and then half the book in OZ, not killing Dorothy (again). Oh and there’s a new villain or something who pops up here and there. This could have easily been part 2 of book 2, and then we would have had a much more rounded story to lead us into the last part (which is on my to-read after A Court of Wings and Ruin).

Not that I didn’t enjoy reading it. Paige’s writing just sucks me in so bad. I love the ever-changing dynamic of the characters and their relationships. I love being on the inside of Amy’s mind while at the same time feeling like I’m also on the inside of everyone else’s mind too. It’s fantastic. I’m excited to see how this series ends, I’m just glad I didn’t start it when book 1 came out and had to wait for each book because I would have been quite disappointed in the lack of progression.

Overall, a good continuation of the story that leaves you yearning for more.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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Since arranged-marriage-turned-love scenarios are my guilty pleasure books, I figured I’d give this a try. It’s kind of a modern fairy tale, and I’ve been eyeing these covers for a while.

I almost read the whole thing in one sitting. Because who needs sleep?

Just like watching TLC or any of those Bachelor TV shows, this book was the chocolate bar hidden in the underwear drawer. It was the perfect compilation of teenage romance and class dystopia, with royalty, and a love triangle, and that special girl who could have been anyone – even you.

And I loved it.

A part of me feels like a cheat reviewer giving this book 5 stars when the top voted Goodreads reviews are mostly 1 star because it’s unoriginal or the names are ridiculous or a myriad of reasons, but I don’t care. I enjoyed it. Yes, it was no literary masterpiece but reading it made me happy and isn’t that what life is all about?

However, I will say that I will not be picking up the next one. I was on the fence because I didn’t like how the competition didn’t end with book 1, so I was curious, but apparently in book 2 the love triangle continues on in a way that’s just not my style. No thanks. So I’ll sit the rest of this series out and keep the shiny memories of this 5 star in my head.

Overall, a very enjoyable guilty pleasure read. Don’t expect anything but that and you’ll be satisfied.

Death’s Mistress: Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles by Terry Goodkind

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I’m not going to lie. I was scared to pick this up after Nest. However, I haven’t missed a Goodkind book yet and I wanted to give it a chance, if to prove myself wrong.

While reading Nest, I questioned whether I was remembering the incredible writing in Sword of Truth correctly, or if it’s always been the plain and expository style and I just didn’t see it behind the veil of my youth. It genuinely scared me.

So when I picked up Death’s Mistress, I began to read with a certain tightness in my chest. Did the illusion break after Nest? Will I find it dull and boring?

The first page answered with a loud, resounding no.

From just the first page, all my fears had vanished and I was immersed into a world of magic and fantasy. I walked along Nicci and Nathan on the skull graveyard, going to see Red the witch. I breathed the air and listened to the crows. God I love that world. I grew up in it. I lived in it. For some people, it’s The Lord of the Rings. For others it’s A Song of Ice and Fire. But for me, it is and has always been the Sword of Truth.

This book was dark and gritty at times but a far cry from the latest Richard and Kahlan series. It wasn’t all suffering and torture and death. It was a true epic adventure, told like episodes in a TV show, with familiar charismatic and likable characters. There were battles and magic and prophesy. And yes, there was death, but after the first few jabs in my chest I learned not to get too attached to anyone, and for good reason. There was no romance, and the book is better for it.

Let me confess something: I used to be a skimmer. I would skim pages upon pages of description because I wanted to get to the ‘good parts’ aka dialogue. My brain was already giving me all the imagery I needed.

But this book? All of it were the good parts. I read, in awe, the descriptions that Goodkind had written, guessing words I’d never heard of through context because if I looked them all up I would never have finished the book. And yet they flowed seamlessly, transporting me from my living room into the book. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer that I appreciated it all, but I could not stop being amazed. If you’re writing an epic fantasy and you need help with how to describe pretty much anything, this is the book to reference. Wow. Just wow.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, and I will definitely be picking up the next volume. I still wish we got a second Confessor book but I’ll take this too. There’s always a chance he’ll write it in the future.