Review + Spotlight: Labyrinth Lost

NER REVIEWS (labyrinthlost)

Author: Zoraida Córdova
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Magic | Witches
Idiom: English
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Read: from August 19 to 23
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781492620945
(Hardcover)
Cups:
4 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

“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…

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by just saying that I never read anything like this before. At first I thought this was a different kind of witchcraft, of religion and when I finally picked it up and submerged in the story, I realised I was wrong. And I loved it because it made me enjoy the story even more.

Labyrinth Lost is about Alex who is a Bruja – a specific kind of witch based on the Latin witchcraft. On her Deathday (in celebration of her powers finally appearing), she casts a spell to eliminate her powers but instead she sends her family, dead and alive, to Los Lagos, a parallel dimension where Gods, spirits, strange beings and much more dwell. With the help of a strange boy, Alex embarks in an adventure that will surely change her.

Alex was a great character to read about. Her past helps build her trepidation when it comes to her abilities but the way she develops throughout the story made up for her fears. When we first met her she’s a scared teenager who kept her powers hidden from her sisters because she’s scared of them. What she doesn’t know is that her powers are special and she’ll need them later on the book in order to save her whole family. In Los Lagos we see this other side of Alex that was hidden behind her fears and I adored watching her grow, watching her develop not only this amazing magic she has but also herself as a person.

I have to admit that I’m super curious about Nova, the boy Alex meets and tells her about what to do to block her power during her Deathday. He’s a lost soul who is trying to find himself in the world and what we find towards the end of the book was, for me at least, completely unexpected. I’m pretty sure there’s much more to his character than meets the eye and I hope he’ll be able to redeem all his wrong-doing in the upcoming books.

The romance in this book wasn’t your typical boy-meets-girl love. This book explores a romance that grew from friendship and tries to break boundaries. It wasn’t the romance I was expecting but I was so happy with what I got. I’m trying not to spoil you because I found it refreshing to discover it by myself instead of instantly knowing what it was about. Zoraida Córdova really broke some lines writing this romance and I can only respect her for doing so and doing it amazingly well.

The magic, as I mentioned right in the beginning of the review, wasn’t what I was expecting nor was it something I knew in details. This particular kind of witchcraft, more based on the Latins beliefs and religions, centred in Gods and spirits, was a gulf of fresh air. There are so many kinds of magic in the world and being able to emerge myself in a different felt amazing. At times I would be slightly lost since I am not accustomed to this particular kind of witches. But then Alex would explain it and as soon as I found the flow, it was easy to be mesmerised by it.

I dare say that even though I enjoyed this book, only when Alex and Nova enter Los Lagos did I became completely hooked in it. Los Lagos sounded like such a thrilling rollercoaster of fantasy. This parallel world was filled from top to bottom with everything fantastical. It reminded me of the movie Book of Life minus the songs.

The book ended in a cliffhanger that had me gasping for more. It ended with a figure from the past that I’m pretty sure will have a huge impact in Alex’s life. This might sound a little bit unfair but one of the reasons I couldn’t rate this book higher than 4 cups/stars was the cliffhanger. So many questions! So many theories! So little answers and I have no idea when the sequel comes out.

Zoraida Córdova‘s writing was easy and it flew with the story. The author managed to give Alex a voice that some of us could relate to and at times her sarcasm was a delight to read. The little bits of excerpt from songs, prayers and others at the beginning of each chapter was a nice touch since it connected really well with what was going to happen.

Overall I think Labyrinth Lost was a great read set in a different spectrum of magic. There is loads of fantastic elements to the story, some creepy moments, characters that are unique since they are so different and a lesson at the end that I think pretty much everyone will relate to. I recommend this book if you want something magical yet different and if you like pure and raw fantastical adventure in a completely different universe.  

Book Spotlight

NetGalley and Sourcebooks were kind enough to send me material to host a Spotlight for Labyrinth Lost and I’m super excited to share an excerpt of the book and a giveaway. There’s also the booktrailer to present you to this creepy and magical world 😀

In the meantime, if you guys like colouring like I do, check out the amazing colouring page that Sourcebooks has available for Labyrinth Lost here. Need to print my own so I can colour it! If, or when, you have coloured it, leave me a link down below on the comments so I can see it 😉

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

“This work is a magical journey from start to finish… A compelling must-have for teens” –School Library Journal, STARRED review

Córdova’s (the Vicious Deep series) magic-infused, delightfully dark story introduces readers to an engrossing, Latin American–inspired fantasy setting and an irresistible heroine” –Publishers Weekly

A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno.Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper

 “Labyrinth Lost is more like reading Paradise Found. Zoraida Córdova brings us a new generation of witches, enchanting and complex. And every page is filled with magic.” Danielle Page, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

Córdova’s world will leave you breathless, and her magic will ignite an envy so green you’ll wish you were born a bruja. Delightfully dark and enchanting. An un-putdownable book.” -Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and Shiny Broken Pieces

“Córdova’s rich exploration of Latin American culture, her healthy portrayal of bisexuality and her unique voice allow this novel to stand out among its many peers.” –RT Book Reviews

“Cordova draws inspiration from Ecuadorian, Spanish, African, Mexican, and Caribbean folklore and mythology to craft a page-turning tale about a young bruja unsure of her place in the world.”Bustle.com

“Córdova pulls elements from Greek mythology and Spanish and Latin American legends to craft a memorable world in Los Lagos, a supernatural realm that is as fascinating as it is threatening. The history and customs of Alex’s family’s type of witchery are also carefully constructed, giving readers a complete world to sink into with satisfaction and wonder.” -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This succeeds with its lush use of Latin American mythologies, an unexpected love story, and, above all, in Alex’s complicated relationship with her family. Alex is a necessary heroine, and this dark fantasy nicely” -Booklist

Excerpt:

1

Follow our voices, sister.
Tell us the secret of your death.
—-Resurrection Canto,
Book of Cantos

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

Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

But I was seven and asked too many questions. Every Sunday, cars piled up in our driveway, down the street, and around the corner of our old, narrow house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mom’s Circle usually brought cellophane–wrapped dishes and jars of dirt and tubs of brackish water that made the Hudson River look clean. This time, they carried something more.

When my sisters started snoring, I threw off my covers and crept down the stairs. The floorboards were uneven and creaky, but I was good at not being seen. Fuzzy, yellow streetlight shone through our attic window and followed me down every flight until I reached the basement.

A soft hum made its way through the thin walls. I remember thinking I should listen to my mom’s warning and go back upstairs. But our house had been restless all week, and Lula, Rose, and I were shoved into the attic, out of the way while the grown–ups prepared the funeral. I wanted out. I wanted to see.

The night was moonless and cold one week after the Witch’s New Year, when Aunt Rosaria died of a sickness that made her skin yellow like hundred–year–old paper and her nails turn black as coal. We tried to make her beautiful again. My sisters and I spent all day weaving good luck charms from peonies, corn husks, and string—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. Not even the morticians, the Magos de Muerte, could fix her once–lovely face.

Aunt Rosaria was dead. I was there when we mourned her. I was there when we buried her. Then, I watched my father and two others shoulder a dirty cloth bundle into the house, and I knew I couldn’t stay in bed, no matter what my mother said.

So I opened the basement door.

Red light bathed the steep stairs. I leaned my head toward the light, toward the beating sound of drums and sharp plucks of fat, nylon guitar strings.

A soft mew followed by whiskers against my arm made my heart jump to the back of my rib cage. I bit my tongue to stop the scream. It was just my cat, Miluna. She stared at me with her white, glowing eyes and hissed a warning, as if telling me to turn back. But Aunt Rosaria was my godmother, my family, my friend. And I wanted to see her again.

“Sh!” I brushed the cat’s head back.

Miluna nudged my leg, then ran away as the singing started.

I took my first step down, into the warm, red light. Raspy voices called out to our gods, the Deos, asking for blessings beyond the veil of our worlds. Their melody pulled me step by step until I was crouched at the bottom of the landing.

They were dancing.

Brujas and brujos were dressed in mourning white, their faces painted in the aspects of the dead, white clay and black coal to trace the bones. They danced in two circles—-the outer ring going clockwise, the inner counterclockwise—hands clasped tight, voices vibrating to the pulsing drums.

And in the middle was Aunt Rosaria.

Her body jerked upward. Her black hair pooled in the air like she was suspended in water. There was still dirt on her skin. The white skirt we buried her in billowed around her slender legs. Black smoke slithered out of her open mouth. It weaved in and out of the circle—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. It tugged Aunt Rosaria higher and higher, matching the rhythm of the canto.

Then, the black smoke perked up and changed its target. It could smell me. I tried to backpedal, but the tiles were slick, and I slid toward the circle. My head smacked the tiles. Pain splintered my skull, and a broken scream lodged in my throat.

The music stopped. Heavy, tired breaths filled the silence of the pulsing red dark. The enchantment was broken. Aunt Rosaria’s reanimated corpse turned to me. Her body purged black smoke, lowering her back to the ground. Her ankles cracked where the bone was brittle, but still she took a step. Her dead eyes gaped at me. Her wrinkled mouth growled my name:Alejandra.

She took another step. Her ankle turned and broke at the joint, sending her flying forward. She landed on top of me. The rot of her skin filled my nose, and grave dirt fell into my eyes.

Tongues clucked against crooked teeth. The voices of the circle hissed, “What’s the girl doing out of bed?”

There was the scent of extinguished candles and melting wax. Decay and perfume oil smothered me until they pulled the body away.

My mother jerked me up by the ear, pulling me up two flights of stairs until I was back in my bed, the scream stuck in my throat like a stone.

Never,” she said. “You hear me, Alejandra? Never break a Circle.”

I lay still. So still that after a while, she brushed my hair, thinking I had fallen asleep.

I wasn’t. How could I ever sleep again? Blood and rot and smoke and whispers filled my head.

“One day you’ll learn,” she whispered.

Then she went back down the street–lit stairs, down into the warm red light and to Aunt Rosaria’s body. My mother clapped her hands, drums beat, strings plucked, and she said, “Again.”

Book Trailer:


About the Author:

zoraida-head-shotZoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York.

She is the author of the Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series.

She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro or visit her at zoraidacordova.com.

Author Website | Labyrinth Lost Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Author Tumblr | Labyrinth Lost Tumblr | YouTube

Giveaway:

  • 2 (two) copies of Labyrinth Lost with signed Labyrinth Lost bookmarks (ends September 19th – US & Canada only)

Rafflectoper Logo

Ner

Monthly Wrap-Up | August

Wrap-Up

Well, we must say goodbye to August and say hello to September!! I just hope autumn comes fast because I can’t stand this heart any longer! I miss the chilly weather and wearing a coat over my tops!! Yep, you can definitely tell I am an autumn person!

If you have been following my reading progresses then you have noticed that August was an okay month! I didn’t read everything I wanted but I read a few good books! So, I’m happy with the progress of this last month though I wish I have read more than only thee books but it’s better than none, right? Still, July was the best month so far for me!

Wrap-Up | August

  • Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie N. Holmberg (3/5 cups) GR | TBD | Amazon
    • This was a strange book at first! I was expecting something a little bit different from the synopsis but it was still an enjoyable reading;
  • City of Fallen Angels [The Mortal Instruments #4] – Cassandra Clare (3/5 cups – review to come) GR | TBD | Amazon
    • I was a little bit scared in going into this book because everyone told me it was horrible. But, you know what? It wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t the best in the saga but it wasn’t that bad! I liked the fact it was more centred on Simon and Alec and Isabelle had more action scenes, but overall it was only an okay book in the saga. Still, I enjoyed it despite what pretty much everyone said about it! Bring me more!;
  • Labyrinth Lost [Brooklyn Brujas #1] – Zoraida Córdova (4/5 cups – review to come) GR | TBD | Amazon
    • I really enjoyed this book! First, it was about a kind of witches I’ve never actually read anything before. Second, the romance. Third, I really liked Alex!;

And that’s a wrap!!!

Ner

Bout of Books 17 {Wrap-Up = Total Fail}

Bout of Books

Participant 228~ Ner @A Cup of Coffee & a Book

Okay, I should’ve posted this before but, to be fair and honest with you all, I kind of forgot! And, as you can definitely see from my updates and progress, this Bout of Books was a total fail for me! Why? Well, because I spent two days running errands and then I was lazy because I was so tired – and also had a few University stuff to gather before unrolling! Not to mention that I lost all my progress because I decided to reset my phone – I had all my reading progress on my memos – and it kind of unmotivated me. 

Also, The Bone Witch is such a complex book I need to pay close attention to it in order to fully understand it so, whenever I picked up the book I was so tired I barely managed to read more than 10 pages a day! 

So you could say that this is just a small wrap-up to let you know that I’m a failure!

I actually thought this read-a-thon was going to go smooth but it ended up the contrary! Only the first day was an achievement but it all went down-hill from there! Oh well… maybe next time!!

In the meantime, here’s the books I read:

BoutofBooksWrapUpTotalFail

So, I finished Labyrinth Lost which I really liked. Wasn’t expecting it enjoy it as much as I did! And then I started The Bone Witch and even though I’m really enjoying it, it’s a little but more complex than I initially thought. I’m pretty sure I was around 45% done Sunday but since I lost all my progress, I can’t be certain! And I must have read around 300 and something pages total!

Overall, I’m not happy with this Bout of Books since I am the one to blame for my total failure. Hopefully next time it will be better but this one sucked great time for me!

I hope all of you who participated had a blast and read everything (or close to it) you had challenged yourselves to read. Also, don’t reset your phone during a read-a-thon if you’re writing down your progress there – I normally write it down on a separate piece of paper but this time I was stupid to trust my phone alone… never again!

Ner

Bout of Books 17 {Day 1}

Bout of Books

Participant 228~ Ner @A Cup of Coffee & a Book

Hello everyone and welcome to Day 1 of Bout of Books 17!!!

Day 1: Monday – 22/08

Progress:

Reading: Labyrinth Lost – 82% done – page 281 (PDF), 269 (book);
Pages Read: 114 pages;
Books Read: 0/4;
Total Pages Read: 114 pages;

Started counting as soon as it was midnight (it was around 1am actually) and I’ve got to admit I’m feeling pretty accomplished.

And I also have to say that tomorrow (day 2) and Wednesday (day 3) might be a little bit slow since I have to run some errands and might not be able to read that much. But I’m determined to finish Labyrinth Lost today and start The Bone Witch so there’s that 😉

Challenge:

Book to Movie Adaptation – Writing My Own Fairy Tale

So, I said I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate in any challenge this time but today’s challenge is so easy I just had to do it. 

In this challenge you have to share your favourite and least favourite book-to-movie adaptation. You can share the reasons why or simply leave the names here. Pretty easy, right? So, here we go:

Favourite book-to-movie adaptation:

Stardust (Neil Gaiman) | Stardust (Matthew Vaughn – 2007)

Stardust

I might be cheating on this one since I first saw the movie and then read the book but it’s one of my ultimate favourite fantasy books and movies. They’re different, that’s so sure; there are things in the book that don’t appear in the movie and vice-versa. But I think Matthew Vaughn managed to transport into the big screen the wonderful story that Neil Gaiman created, remaining faithful to the source material, but also adding a few new things to make it even more interesting (yes, Captain Shakespeare for instance). In a whole, I think book and movie complete each other 🙂

Least favourite/most hated book-to-movie adaptation:

Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl) | Beautiful Creatures (Richard LaGravenese 2013)

Beautiful Creatures

Oh man!! You guys have no idea how hyped I was for this movie. It movie had the perfect cast (Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson AND Viola Davis… really, simply perfect!) and I really loved the book so it had an amazing story to be a perfect movie! But they had to ruin everything! And when I say everything… I mean it! They changed the whole plot, there were things that didn’t make any sense and the ending… the ending!!! I left the cinema so upset, angry and sad… Why do they have this urge to pick up a book and change the whole story? It reminded me that time I went to see Eragon and left the cinema wanting to punch the director! 

Even though Stardust is different from the book, the main plot, the main characters, the essence of the Neil Gaiman’s amazing book is there. As for Beautiful Creatures (and Eragon now that I’ve mentioned it), lost everything in their poor executed movie that had everything to be a blockbuster and the next Twilight/Harry Potter. 

What about you guys? What is your favourite book-to-movie adaptation? And your least favourite?

Ner

Bout of Books 17 {TBR}

Bout of Books

Participant 228~ Ner @A Cup of Coffee & a Book

Happy Sunday everyone!!

Today I’m bringing you my Bout of Books 17 TBR – all the books I’m planning on reading during this next week’s read-a-thon – the read-a-thon kicks-off tomorrow and you still have time to sign-up if you want (just click on the button above :D).

I’ve decided not to try to be too ambitious with my list since I always end up not reading all of the books I challenged myself. So, this time, I picked up only four books; one of them is to actually finish and other is a re-read.

So, let’s see what I have decided to read for this next week:

TBR:

BoutofBooks17TBR

All page numbers are according to Goodreads – they might actually vary with the book itself (since apart from Throne of Glass, they’re all earcs from NetGalley!)! As for Labyrinth Lost, I’m not entirely sure how many pages I have left but on Day 1 progress (tomorrow!) I’ll let you know 😉

I’m still not sure if I’m going to be able to participate in all challenges since I really want to mostly read and not spend all my days updating my progress. But it’ll depend on the challenge and how much I have read. We’ll see how that goes 😉

For everyone participating or not, good luck with your reading ^_^

Ner

 

Showcase Sunday (#75)

FIRST SHOWCASE SUNDAY OF 2016!!

YES!! My first Showcase Sunday of 2016. Despite not being active on the blog, I have been requesting and buying some books. Well, the books I bought are mainly for University but still… they’re books! So, this post will be to show you all the books I got from NetGalley/Edelweiss and the ones I bought for Uni.

Let’s start with the physical ones (aka College books!):

-Physical-

20160317_155418

I’ve posted this photo on my Instagram and BooksAmino (@Ner the Witch). It features all the books I have to read this Semester for British Contemporary Literature and I’m quite excited for some of them. Truth is, apart from two (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrard and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf) that I already owned, the rest were recently bought. And they are:

  • Brideshead Revisited – Evenly Waugh(really excited about this one because this edition is gorgeous! It was the cheaper and the most good looking one so I got a great deal! I’m really curious about this one and I cannot wait to jump into it!);
  • 1984 – George Orwell (another book that I’m super curious to read. I’ve read and heard amazing things about this book and author and I’m hoping to learn a lot from this book);
  • The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (this was a choice between three other books – that I don’t remember the titles and authors right now. I decided to go with Ishiguro because I’ve never read his books and people seem to love his work. Let’s hope I’m one of those people :D);

JANE

-NetGalley/Edelweiss-

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  • The Inquisition [Summoner #2] – Taran Matharu (OMFG!!! I was actually contacted by the author to read and review the sequel to one of my favourite books of last year. So you can imagine just how freaking excited I am about this!!! You can read my review for The Novice here on the blog. I seriously cannot wait to start reading this book and re-enter this amazing universe Taran Matharu created. THANK YOU FOR REMEMBERING ME ❤);
  • Labyrinth Lost [Brooklyn Brujas #1] – Zoraida Cordova (I’m on a huge want-to-read-more voodoo and sort of magic right now so when I saw this book I  had to request it! Really curious about it and look at that cover!);
  • Relentless [The Hero Agenda #2] – Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs (this is the sequel to Powerless, another book I read last year and really enjoyed. I was super happy when my request to read the second book was approved. Cannot wait to know what’s going to happen to Kenna and the rest of the super-heroes and villains! Just one small thing: I don’t like how this cover turned out to be like! It has nothing to do with the first one and I’m sad about it :S);
  • Carry On – Rainbow Rowell (this one was on Read Now and I couldn’t resist. I’ve never read anything by this author but I’ve heard simply amazing things. However, I don’t know if picking up this one is the wise choice to enter into Rainbow Rowell‘s writing. What do you guys think?);

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  • Soulless [The Immortal Gene #1] – Jacinta Maree (I’m pretty sure these next books were requested last year but due to my hiatus I didn’t share them with you. I requested this one firstly based on the freaking awesome cover! And then, when I read the synopsis, it sounded pretty interesting. I actually started this one in January but due to my reading-slump I put it down. But I will be picking it up this year, maybe around May :D);
  • A Reaper of Stone[A Reaper of Stone #1] – Mark Gelineau & Joe King (I’ve seen this book on Goodreads and the cover and synopsis always made me super curious about it! When I saw it on NetGalley – I think it was on Read Now but I can’t remember – I couldn’t resist!);
  • Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon – Rena Rocford (seriously, can you blame me for requesting this book with that cover? And I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now… I’m super pumped about it!);

Ner