Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Source/Format: FIREreads; ibooks eBook
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy 
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Fire; September 6, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

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...
Labyrinth Lost is one of those books I’ve been looking forward to reading since it came out in September of last year. I have finally read the book, and oh man, I’m glad that I did because it was an amazing story. From the magic and its ties to traditions, I loved everything about the book. Labyrinth Lost was very much a story about self-discovery and told from the perspective of Alejandra (Alex) Mortiz. Zoraida Córdova created a truly lovely story about magic, family, and the consequences of one’s actions.

From the start, Labyrinth Lost had a premise that seemed kind of awesome. I mean, come on, we’ve got Deathdays, Brujas, and Brujos. Luckily Córdova takes full advantage of the themes that influenced the core plot. There was something about the story that seemed so vibrant, and the characters came alive on the page because of it. Parts of the story had a wonderland vibe, but Córdova created a darkly enchanting atmosphere that was full of danger and magic—it made the story wholly unique.

There were lessons to be learned, and Alex learned them the hard way…

Alex was a tough character to like at the beginning of the story. She was rough around the edges, and her mindset was relatively unreasonable. She did a lot of things that were against better judgment and acted kind of bratty. However, the gradual character development she went through was noticeable because of where she started out. So, I did like the friendships/relationships between the characters. Then there was Nova. Even though I didn’t like his character that much, he had an air of mystery to him that did make his backstory interesting.

Los Lagos—oh man, it’s been a while since I read a fantasy novel that had such a cool and highly imaginative setting. The only other book that really comes to mind is Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Still, Las Lagos is definitely one of my favorites.

Labyrinth Lost is one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2017—right up there on the list with The Hate U Give. Now, I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Music Monday (21) Min Kym & Nao

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: My first pick this week is Sonata for Solo Violin in D Major, Op. 115: I.  Moderato performed by Min Kym. I found this song because I recently read Min Kym's memoir for the other blog I write for. I was curious about her music since it was such a prominent part of her memoir. So, I looked her up on youtube and found out that a companion album for Gone (her memoir) was also recently released. Needless to say, I spent some time listening to the entire album, and really enjoyed it. This is one of my favorites.


My second pick is In the Morning by Nao. Adri actually recommended Nao to me about a week or so ago, and I absolutely loved the couple of songs I listened to. So, I was pretty excited when I found out that Nao was preforming at Coachella, and I watched her performance during the livestream. I'm going to just say that her live performance of In the Morning was phenomenal. 

Adri: I found Nao, like many artist I listen to, while scrolling through youtube recommendations. (Thank you again, youtube.) Anyway, I really dig Fool to Love, and I can't get over it!

What are some of the ways you find new music?

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Friday 56 (101) & Book Beginnings: Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
28449207Synopsis from Goodreads...

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real? Welcome to Weep...
Beginnings: "Names may be lost or forgotten."

56: "Without his books, Lazlo felt as though a vital link to his dream had been cut."
Comments: Strange the Dreamer is my current read. The beginning was a little slow, but I've just gotten to the point where the story is starting to pick up. My beginning this week comes from chapter one instead of the prologue because I liked this quote.

What 2017 book releases have you read or plan to read soon?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveTitle: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray; February 28, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I have so much to say about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Yet, I hesitate to say anything at all, because I really don’t want to accidently spoil this book. You have to read The Hate U Give to fully understand and grasp the story that Angie Thomas wrote, which is a much better option than if I tried to explain it in this review. The Hate U Give deals with a very contemporary and relevant topic, and that’s why I was excited to read this book.

The Hate U Give kept it real in the best way possible.

This was the kind of book I wish I’d gotten the chance to read back when I first started blogging—when I was still a teen. This book deals with its main themes—racism, prejudice, and police brutality—told from the perspective of a character who lives through that experience, a firsthand POV. There was something about the story that seemed authentic and honest. In that way, The Hate U Give more than lives up to the hype.

And I’m going to be honest, I almost never cry while reading. I can read about the demise of a favorite character—or characters—and have a case of extremely dry eyes. But, there was just something about The Hate U Give that made me tear up more than once. I can’t say that I’ve never encountered this kind of emotional depth before, but the circumstances, the characters, and Starr’s perspective is what ultimately got to me.

One of the highlights of this book was Starr Carter and her family. I’m not going to say too much about them, but just know that I absolutely loved them! I especially liked how Starr still had a life. While the above mentioned themes were the primary focus of the book, there was also time to examine the other parts of Starr’s life. And, I really liked how Thomas handled the emotional repercussions and how it directly affected Starr.

Okay, I could go on and on about how much I loved The Hate U Give, and why it was such an important read for me. However, I’m going to end the review here by saying that I’m looking forward to Angie Thomas’ next book.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Music Monday (20) Kylie Minogue

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: When I went to pick the songs I wanted to talk about this week, I already had a clear idea in mind. The only problem was deciding on which two I wanted to actually included in this post. While the decision was hard, I still made one. My picks this week are Everything is Beautiful and Aphrodite by Kylie Minogue. Those are just two of my favorite songs by Minogue. Others included Chocolate, Closer, Can’t Beat the Feeling, Wow, Cupid Boy, Illusion, and Get Outta My Way—the list just goes on.

Kylie Minogue is one of my all-time favorite artists. Over the weekend I listened to a couple of songs from  her Aphrodite album again. 



What are you listening to this week?

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Friday 56 (100) & Book Beginnings: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
27969081Synopsis from Goodreads...

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...
Beginning: "The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing."

56: "When I look up, I see what I've done. Everything--the dishes and the beads of water and soap on them, the flower pots, the jars of pickled chicken feet and frog eyes. The vials of cooking spices, the chairs, the frames on the walls, the fruits, and the collection of good luck roosters on the kitchen sill. Even the ends of Lula's hair.
All of it."
Comments: After The Hate U Give, I was really excited to start this one. Labyrinth Lost is my current read, and I have to say that it has one of my favorite opening sentences.  I'm not that far yet, but I really love what I've read. 

Have you read Labyrinth Lost? If so, tell me what you thought about it in the comments down below. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell

The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1)Title: The Crooked Sixpence
Author: Jennifer Bell
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Books For Young Readers; January 31, 2017
Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems…

When their grandmother Sylvie is rushed to the hospital, Ivy Sparrow and her annoying big brother Seb cannot imagine what adventure lies in store. Soon their house is ransacked by unknown intruders, and a very strange policeman turns up on the scene, determined to apprehend them . . . with a toilet brush. Ivy and Seb make their escape only to find themselves in a completely uncommon world, a secret underground city called Lundinor where ordinary objects have amazing powers. There are belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with healing properties, and other enchanted objects capable of very unusual feats. But the forces of evil are closing in fast, and when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time, they must race to unearth the treasure and get to the bottom of a family secret . . . before it’s too late...
The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell was just one of those books that I don’t really have too much to say about. There are a couple of reasons for that. There’s a lot that goes on and much of it starts in the first couple of chapters. I’m going to quickly go over what I did and didn’t like about the story.

I’m going to start with what I didn’t like about The Crooked Sixpence. Some of the situations seemed almost too convenient and easily solved. These things and situations were supposed to be dangerous, but didn't quite get there.  Also there were a couple of offhand comments made by Ivy and Seb that I disliked. Since the character isn’t mentioned in the synopsis, I won’t give a name. However, I will say that there are more imaginative ways to describe brown skin than with a food analogy,

There were some things that I liked about The Crooked Sixpence, namely the plot and the magic. The story moved along pretty quickly, and the questions introduced at the beginning set up a relatively interesting conflict. The conflict is what kept me reading more than the interactions between the characters. The magic was pretty neat and I liked the idea surrounding ordinary objects that weren’t quite what they initially seemed to be. There was something fun and whimsical about them that was almost humorous but also kind of dangerous given what some of them could actually do.

While I did have a couple of problems with this one, the end left the characters at an interesting place. As such, I would still consider checking out the next book in the series.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quarterly Recap: January-March

Yes, I actually remembered to do this post on time. I’m not going to do a super long intro since this is just a recap of most of the posts that have been posted to the blog through January, February, and March. However, I included only a few of the weekly meme post, otherwise, they can be found by following the meme label on the features page...
January Reviews:
February Reviews:

March Reviews:
**Weekly Meme labels can be found on the Features page**

Other January Posts:

Other February Posts:

Other March Posts:
I’ve gotten a good amount of stuff done across these past three months, but that’s not what this section of the post is about. I’m supposed to be looking ahead to what I’m going to be doing. One of my biggest goals for April is to do another discussion post. So far, I’ve done two, and the once a month thing is working pretty well. As for reading—that’s going pretty well. Over the weekend I read one of my most anticipated 2017 releases—The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Hands down, it’s one of the best books I’ve read all year, and I hope that trend continues.


Friday, March 31, 2017

The Friday 56 (99) & Book Beginnings: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
32075671Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life...
Beginnings: "I shouldn't have come to this party. I'm not even sure if I belong at this party."

56: "Momma cuts him a quick glare, then turns to me. "So, you think your up for it, Starr?"
Comments: I don't have much to say about this because I literally just started reading it yesterday. I've only read a couple of pages, but I plan on finishing The Hate U Give before the weekend is over.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Discussion Post: What If The Synopsis Spoils The Book

Spoilers is the topic of my March discussion post. Spoilers, well, it isn’t really a topic that I would normally have a lot to say about. At the end of the day, spoilers are still spoilers no matter which way you put it. My thoughts on this particular subject stemmed from some of the books I’ve recently read. Lately, I’ve gotten a couple of them that have made me think about what happens when and if the synopsis of a book accidentally ruins an integral part of the plot.

Don’t worry, I’m purely sharing my thoughts about this topic, but I will not name or reveal any spoilers pertaining to the books that prompted this post.

As I stated above, this has happened to me on multiple occasions. Usually, I don’t immediately take notice of this until I’ve finished the book and started to write my review—then I finally get that “Aha!” moment. While this doesn’t seem like it can be much of a problem, it does have an impact on me. I’ve noticed that this is especially the case when it’s the first book in a series. That first book is often the deciding factor of whether I want or don’t want to continue on to later books in a series. It doesn’t have to be the most literary thing in the sea, as long as I end up enjoying the story for what it is. However, knowing certain things about the plot can have a couple of different effects.

Let me explain. If the synopsis happens to spoil something important, and I either know or am unconsciously expecting it, then when I actually get to that part it might not have the impact that was intended. I find that this is especially the case when that reveal happens pretty late into the story. Simply put, that element of surprise just isn’t there. While this might not ruin a story—especially, if there’s more surprising twists and development left to the plot—it’s still something to think about.

So, what to do about it?

As a reader, it's hard to say, because it would be impossible to avoid synopses entirely. However, I still dislike when this happens, because I always think, “Would this book have had a lasting impression if I hadn’t been expecting a specific thing to haappen [insert spoiler here]? Would I have reacted differently?” Which always leads me to the same conclusion: possibly.

Has this ever happened to you?


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What's New?: Victoria Scott


Today, I’m going to be mentioning a couple of books. The first is Victoria Scott’s new release, Hear the Wolves, which came out yesterday. The second book is Titans, which is now available in paperback. You can find more information about Titans and Hear the Wolves below...
Title: Hear the Wolves
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: March 28, 2017


Synopsis from Goodreads...

It’s survival of the strongest in a contemporary, girl-versus-wild middle-grade debut from Fire & Flood author Victoria Scott!


Sloan is a hunter...

So she shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it’s been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight — it makes her too scared to be on her own. When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she’s already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that’s tied there — their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town. But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That’s when the wolves start hunting them . . .
Title: Titans
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 23, 2016


Displaying Titans Paperback.jpgSynopsis from Goodreads...

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch. She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them. But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about...

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of FIRE & FLOOD, SALT & STONE, TITANS, HEAR THE WOLVES, the DANTE WALKER trilogy, and VIOLET GRENADE (May 2017). She is published by Scholastic and Entangled Teen, and is represented by Sara Crowe. Her latest novel, TITANS, received two starred reviews, and FIRE & FLOOD is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program selection. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from at home, and across the world...

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