Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee ARC Review

Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui LeeOut Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Pages: 320

Summary: Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball.

An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school’s star pitcher and Marnie’s best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the mound. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team’s best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they’re supposed to be on her side.

With her own team against her, Marnie begins questioning her abilities. And when fate throws her a curveball, can she play without losing the game, Cody, and her belief in herself?

*Requested an ARC from the publisher*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Out Of Left Field is a fun, character-driven YA Contemporary! Lee’s debut focuses on friendship and its complex dynamics, while also delivering a unique plot! Also perfect for readers looking for more sports in YA Contemporary!

I’ve found, for me personally, that its easy for YA Contemporary to follow similar plots and fall into this cycle of familiar tropes, plot points, etc.

Out Of Left Field however, really moves away from that and overall, delivers a unique and unexpected story that really had me surprised with each turn of the page!

This novel follows Marnie Locke, an avid player + lover of all things baseball! But, when her best friend Cody Kinski (who may be something more…) gets injured during a game from a rival baseball team player, Santino Acardi, he volunteers Marnie to take his place on the school baseball team.

Now, Marnie has to prove to herself and the guys on the team that she’s ready to show the world what she’s made of and follow her dreams!

Aside from that, she has to juggle the changing dynamics with friends, and come to terms with the possible feelings she may have with Cody!

If your looking for contemporary perfect for summer, this is the book for you!

From her time on the guy’s baseball team, her complex friendship with Cody, and some surprises that come her way, its an entertaining read that really goes in unique directions that makes it stand out from other YA Contemporary novels!

Lee’s writing-style really delivers such a fun atmosphere to this novel, that really makes this novel ! Additionally, through the 1st person POV, Marnie is developed with each and every page, that her feisty personality really shines through!

What is also so great about Out Of Left Field (which I personally haven’t seen any reviews mention!) is the representation in this novel as well! (However its mainly seen through the prominent side characters!)

There’s Marnie’s best friend Sara, who is Filipino and Hispanic, and bisexual (which is explicitly stated in the text!). Then there’s Neha, who is Indian (Acardi’s girlfriend)

Marnie gets herself into a bit of a tricky situation when Acardi, Cody’s rival, actually ends up becoming her cousin! (Acardi’s mom ends up marrying Marnie’s uncle!) 

So, when Marnie learns that Acardi isn’t all that bad & he even helps her with her baseball when she gets on the guy’s team, she finds herself keeping the secret from Cody for fear that he may get upset + even feels she’s betraying him.

I loved how Santino + Marnie’s dynamic developed, he quickly becomes such a supportive friend/family member to her. I found the quick pace of their development really added more depth to the story as they rely on each other & he offers her advice!

Similarly to what I mentioned above about the unique direction of the novel, this plot point was on of them! Lee’s unexpected plot direction and overall unique execution of her story made Out Of Left Field such a memorable read for me!

The way she delivers her prose just has you so in Marnie’s head and you really get to understand her as a character, that it makes the unfolding of the plot all the more interesting + surprising!

Marnie is a feisty, confident character and I loved that about her! Additionally, Lee’s portrayal of all the teenage characters in this novel felt so raw and real! They have their drama, goals, convos about romance, and so much more, Lee just made them come to life on the page!

An interesting aspect to this novel that I loved, was the look at changes/growth after high school, as Sara + Cody discuss their futures with Marnie at points throughout the story!

Cody star player, consider’s quitting baseball after high school! This honestly was another one of those surprising moments, but was just so brilliantly delivered that it just leaves you thinking and even understanding!

As a college student, this aspect in particular was just so refreshing to read about in YA Contemporary because while it is definitely addressed in those books, the honesty at how interests may not always equate to future careers, etc. was just so—real that I loved how it was explored!

I even loved how this novel explored the changing dynamics of friendship and goals after high school as the characters contemplate how college will change things for them.

Marnie’s dynamic with the guy’s team was not easy at first, but as the novel progresses you see it change and grow as you see her determination to keep pushing on.

As for the sports aspect, I felt it was really given depth through the descriptions, through Marnie’s eyes of the games, her own personal knowledge, and how the baseball lingo is used throughout the novel at sports + non-sports related moments.

I think my only minor issues, were slow pacing at some points, not much background/expansion given to some main + side characters, and I wish the changing dynamic between Marnie & her mom (who Marnie see’s as absent/unsupportive of her passion for baseball) was given more page time!

Overall I really loved how the plot progressed and felt Lee left it at the perfect moment till the very end! Where you know all the strings are relatively tied up, but still leaves you wanting more!

Out Of Left Field is a uniquely plotted YA Contemporary, perfect for those seeking out more sports contemporary! There’s some romance, while friendship + Marnie’s passion for baseball is at the heart of this story! Fun, sporty, and a great YA Contemporary for your Summer TBR!

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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi Review

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. ChoiEmergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Pages: 400

Summary:For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Emergency Contact is character-driven and complex YA Contemporary, with so much heart and depth! Through Choi’s writing, Emergency Contact handles and discusses a number of difficult subjects, develops a dynamic cast of characters, and delivers a romance like no other! 

Okay so originally I got an ARC of Emergency Contact, but at the times I really wanted to read it, school just got so busy! So when my library copy came, after about being maybe 100+ pages in, I decided to start it over.

I’m so glad I did because while I really loved it the first time, taking the time to re-read & catch-up had me even more invested in Emergency Contact than I was before!!

I adored Emergency Contact so much & if your familiar with my blog, you’ll know I hardly read contemporary romances. But from the summary (& amazing cover!! ♥♥I knew I had to read this book!

And this YA Contemporary has easily made it to my list of all-time favorites!!

This novel follows 2 POVs with the 1st being: 18 yr. old Penny Lee, who is about to start her first year of college in Austin, Texas and dreams of becoming a writer, then there’ Sam Becker, 21 yrs. old, who works at House Coffee in Austin (+ is an an incredible baker!) and dreams of becoming a documentary filmmaker.

Penny has a difficult relationship with her mom and has felt she’s been forced to grow up on her own. She feels college (in a new state) will make things different for her and allow her the new start she needs.

Sam is stuck. He’s working/living at the coffee house and barley getting by, while also having been neglected by his mother as the years went by and having an absentee father. He also has an ex-girlfriend Lorraine, who’s recently decided to contact him, though he is still trying to get over their break-up.

Penny’s college roommate Jude (and her friend Mallory) decide to take a trip to House and it turns out Sam is Jude’s uncle.

Jude makes it clear to both Penny & Mal that she doesn’t want them to get into any kind of relationship with Sam. Both Jude & Sam are close, so Jude doesn’t want things to be complicated.

However, when Sam’s ex comes back into his life, with news that she may be pregnant, Sam is not sure what to make of the situation and quickly gets overwhelmed.

After having a panic attack, Penny notices him shortly after and decides to help him. Offering to take him to the hospital then back to House, the two talk for a bit & soon form a bond with each other. Then they decide to be each others emergency contacts.

Not long after making sure each of them is okay after that, they begin messaging each other and form an even closer connection via text.

What I loved about Emergency Contact so much was seeing how both Penny & Sam could relate to each other on such an emotional and deep level. They both feel such an intense loneliness and find comfort + solace with each other through the friendship/bond they share by text messaging.

Penny finds it very difficult to connect with people or surround herself with people who really understand her. Because of that, her friendship with Jude + friendship/relationship with Sam has its ups and downs.

I definitely related to Penny at times throughout, but seeing her continue to do her best to connect with Sam and better understand herself was just so beautiful to read!!

Additionally, while its clear that a friendship (and maybe something more) is forming between them, I loved that it really took its time to develop and a majority of this novel is really about Sam and Penny navigating the situations they encounter in life, while finding a deep and personal connection with each other.

Seeing Penny’s relationships change and grow with the people around her, especially her mother Celeste was so well developed and you fully understand their complex relationship by the end of the novel.

Penny and her mom haven’t always had the best relationship. Penny has felt like her mom has never been the mom she’s needed and at a young age had to be independent and do things on her own.

It honestly was so beautiful seeing their relationship grow & develop throughout the entire story! We better understand Celeste and while Penny hasn’t always had the best dynamic with her, its clear there’s room for change.

What really surprised me was the dual POV! Going in I thought it was just going to be Penny’s POV, but having both Penny & Sam’s perspectives really brought so much depth and growth to the characters (especially the one’s they both know/encounter) like Jude.

Overall the 3rd person POV really allowed me to see Sam & Penny grow and develop on their own. Additionally, seeing how they tackled the obstacles in their life & how their relationship really provided them the opportunity to form a deep connection they could never make with anyone else, was just so beautiful!!

From Penny’s POV there was Mal, Andy (her fiction writing classmate; I really like his character & his how his short relationship w/ Penny worked out), J.A. Hansen (her fiction-writing professor), and her mother!

From Sam’s POV there was Lorraine, Al (owner of House), Bastian (a 12-year old who later becomes one of the subjects for his documentary), and his mother as well!

From their very first meet where their practically wearing similar outfits, and later to the relationship they develop through text, it was all just developed so wonderfully! You really see how similar they are + how they really understand each other, and find comfort in their relationship when they both clearly feel lonely + sense of abandonment.

I also really loved the friendship between Mallory, Jude & Penny. While Mal + Penny’s dynamic doesn’t start off too well, seeing their friendship change and grow when they are given time to better know each other was just so great to read!!

What I found also added depth to this story was seeing how different they were through text vs. in-person. Seeing how they allow their relationship to grow through text and noticing how different it is in person just added a completely different layer to the romance and dynamic to Sam & Penny’s relationship!

It was also great to see such diversity/rep. in this YA Contemporary! There’s Penny & her mother who are Korean/Korean-American, there’s J.A. Hansen who’s black, and Bastian who’s Mexican-American!

My only minor issue was some moments of slow pacing, but aside from that this book just went above and beyond my expectations (So, I’m still debating between 4.5 & 5, but I think I’ll end up staying w/ 5)! Its just such a unique and deep YA Contemporary!

Emergency Contact is a raw, character-driven, coming of age YA Contemporary! Real, romantic, witty dialogue, with a unique and moving story, and such emotional depth, makes Mary H.K. Choi’s novel a must read! If your a fan of YA Contemporary or Contemporary Romance, Emergency Contact is a must read! Highly recommend it!!

Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchezBecause Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

Summary: Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

*Note this novel does contain physical/emotional abuse*-Be aware if those are triggers for you.*

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Because Of The Sun follows Dani as she grieves the loss of her mother. Told through a unique prose, this novel discusses death, family and love.

This was a unique contemporary I won’t forget!

What made this novel truly stand out was the atmospheric writing-style! Written in an almost “stream of consciousness” we follow Dani Falls, who has lost her mother due to a violent accident and must now leave her home in Florida behind to live with her aunt Shelly in New Mexico.

After spending weeks at her aunt’s house, she rarely leaves and manages to speak only a few words at a time. We begin to wonder if Dani will ever recover and find the strength to accept.

Blurring the line between reality and dream, a bear is mentioned when Ruby passes away and throughout the novel and just like Dani, we are left to question whether it was ever truly there to begin with.

Through out the story, she struggles with the fact that she had a very difficult relationship with her mother and wonders if she ever even truly loved her. When truths about Ruby Falls comes to light, Dani questions whether she even knew her mother at all.

The characters were all very well written and I could truly picture them and understand them fully through Dani’s eyes!

She comes to know Paulo and the two bond over movies! Dani gets to know Paulo and while the do start a relationship Sanchez never makes it a central part of the novel and truly focuses on Dani’s personal growth as she grieves and comes to terms with whats happened. I adored the dynamic between the two of them and no matter what, Paulo respected when Dani wanted to help herself and always gave her the space she needed!

I do wish Paulo was included more, because he was a very loving and supportive friend/boyfriend to Dani. However I loved that Sanchez really left the romance in the background!

There is also a big emphasis on family. With the loss of her mother, Dani comes to know her aunt Shelly and understands she isn’t alone and that she can confide in her through her struggles. She also finds comfort with Paulo and his grandmother as well. They provide her with the emotional support and love she never had.

In terms of plot, it mainly focuses around Dani and her new life when she moves to New Mexico and comes to terms with her mother’s death. What I also really loved about the plot was how this novel truly centered around Dani and her personal growth.

After completing the novel it was clear that Dani still had a long way to go to recover and was doing it slowly but surely, however Sanchez did a fantastic job to show that her recovery wasn’t going to be an easy transition and would take time. She was still accepting the truths she learned about her mother, but with her new family and friends it was clear she would be okay.

I will admit I did take off a star, because while the inclusion of Shelly’s POV added much more to the story and really gave more background to Dani’s mother Ruby and why she was very detached, it did slow down the story for me. However, I really got to know more about Shelly and that was great because through Dani’s POV, I felt there was still a lot to learn about her.

Additionally after the section centering around Shelly + Ruby’s past, I felt that the ending felt a little rushed and wanted more page-time/interactions with Dani & the side-characters who now really supported and helped her when she needed it most.

Through a dream-like writing style we follow Dani as she adjusts to a new home and grows to find the strength to accept her mother’s death and all the complexities that come with it!

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera Review

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silveraHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

Summary: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Silvera delivers a gem of a story where the reader follows Griffin on a journey of love, loss, acceptance and friendship!

Definitely a character-driven story, we are introduced to Griffin who comes to terms with the death of his best friend and first love, Theo McIntyre, as he recounts and weaves together the history he had with him.

From page 1 Silvera shows this is not just a story, but Griffin’s story! This novel is told through Past/Present narrative and I’m usually hesitant about that particular style, however Silvera brought aspects into both that made them flow well with the overall story, while also weaving differing emotion and unique tone into each which made the story even more memorable!

The tone of this novel, while sad does have its positive moments and shows these characters face grief over the loss of Theo, but find themselves recollecting on their past with Theo and finding the courage to move on.

Silvera brings in great representation through his discussions on Mental Illness (OCD)! It is such an integral part of Griffin as a character, but also it was wonderful to see how accepting his friends and family were about his OCD, by supporting him even if there were times he struggled with it.

The best aspects of this novel was Griffin as a character + the writing! He is such a wonderfully developed character and by the time I finished he truly felt like more than just a character! I was able to sympathize with him and overall be a part of his journey to reminisce on Theo, find the strength to move on and accept what occurred.

You really see Griffin grow over the course of this story and come to learn more about not only Theo, but himself too and it was great being a part of that journey!

As for the other main characters like Jackson and Wade, while I did feel Jackson was the more developed between the two, overall both truly came to life on the page through Theo’s POV.

Through the “History” POV, we come to learn how Theo &Griffin’s relationship started, what first love was like for them and see just how how strong their friendship was (not only  just the 2 of them, but w/ Wade too!), which really sets the tone for the entire story.

Griffin unravels the events of how Theo not only died, but how their relationship started and ended through different circumstances.

We get introduced to Jackson, Theo’s new boyfriend, when he moved to the west coast for college. Griffin has his own perception of Jackson, but over the course of the story comes to accept that they had history too and while Griffin’s+Theo’s didn’t last and he’s still grieving, that doesn’t mean he’s the only one.

This novel really focuses on the relationships (friend, romantic, etc) we have with people and how the history and memories we create with them are both unique and special even as time goes on and those same people begin to change.

However I did have a few cons.

– I did feel the pacing was a little slow in some parts, but overall it never felt like it was dragging which was a plus!
-I wont spoil it, but there is a plot point that gets revealed closer to the end of the novel which I felt could have used a little more development.

Regardless of those minor issues…

Overall Silvera delivers a story with memorable characters, spectacular writing, and messages of friendship, honesty, love and loss which will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

A List Of Cages by Robin Roe Review

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roeA List Of Cages by Robin Roe

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

*I requested a copy from the publisher and received a finished copy. This in no way influences my thoughts*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A List Of Cages will capture and shatter your heart with each and every page!

*Note: This novel discusses abuse & neglect! Be aware if those are triggers for you*

Adam and Julian are quite different. Told through dual POV, the reader will come to understand how their lives aren’t what one would expect from looking in from the outside and the struggles they are facing.

These characters were written with such depth and felt so real. I sympathized with Julian + Adam at every step of the way and when truths are revealed about Julian’s difficult home life, my heart was aching. Both are complete opposites yet they find themselves reunited once again and while it is a difficult road for them both, rekindle their friendship and help each other along the way. They each have a distinct voice and its clearly seen throughout the narrative.

I adored Charlie and Emerald. Though they are side characters, Roe makes them unforgettable and through both POV’s they truly come to life and are given such depth that they feel just as real as Adam and Julian. As a reader you come to see their growth through their interactions with Julian and Adam, but also the small facets to their personality that feel so real.

Roe’s writing really brings out a deep and moving narrative/voice through each of her characters and especially through Julian from his loss, fears, and hopes.

Julian has dyslexia and Adam has ADHD, while I don’t have personal experiences with either of those, Roe not only discussed them and made them a clear part of these character’s, but also through their POV there were moments of internal thoughts or dialogue which showed how it influenced them with events in their day-to-day life and overall I felt I learned more about ADHD + Dyslexia through their narrative.

There are a variety of topics discussed in this novel and are very integral parts of the story from mental health, foster care, and overarching themes of friendship, family, as well as self-growth and change.

Julian and Adam meet once again after many years apart, considering they used to be foster brothers when Julian’s parents passed away from a tragic accident.

However Adam begins to notice that Julian may be keeping secrets. It was great to see Adam invite Julian in with his friends and in general want to reconnect with him. After spending a lot of time apart, it was very realistic to read Julian hesitant and weary about Adam’s friends, but at the same time it was heartbreaking!

Julian is a character who I felt my heart breaking for and while he always doubted it, he was truly the hero of his own story and through the worst moments he kept moving forward and that was so inspiring!

While there were so many memorable lines, one that will truly stay with me and really encompasses what this novel is about is “Hate ricochets,but kindness does too.”
This line speaks volumes. I could definitely remember moments where I was negative or unhappy about something and reading this line had me thinking “Was it worth it?” being upset or angry about something? No. That energy could be directed towards making a bad situation better or seeing things from a more positive light. That line truly stayed with me for the rest of the story.

The theme of kindness and hope are really evident in this novel, especially through Adam’s character. He is a generally happy and overall positive person and its his character that shows how easy it is to bring positivity or encouragement into any situation when times seem tough. He puts others before himself and knows that it makes him feel better.

The reason I’m struggling between 4 and 4.5, is that there is a small time jump (which usually takes away from the linearity of plots for me personally) additionally, the plot does jump around rather quickly due to the character’s voices and it made the story a little too fast paced at times which took away from the flow of the story (mostly near the middle/end).

Regardless this was a spectacular novel and one you should definitely keep your eye on when its out this month!
This is YA Contemporary with so much heart discussing friendship, abuse, family but has an overall inspiring message about hope and overcoming difficult situations, knowing others are always there for you and finding yourself through it all when all seems lost.

Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia Review

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-reviewUncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

Summary: Uncaged Wallflower is for those who feel trapped in the thoughts their minds produce, unable to express them with the rest of the world out of fear of critique or disagreement. For the people who need an extra dose of positivity in their day. This is not a poetry book for you to read and relate to in a sorrow filled way. It is for you to read and say yes, I can be better, and I will.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: “Change for the better… Expand and learn something new. Don’t get wrapped up in your same old cocoon.”

Uncaged Wallflower was beyond inspiring! I know I’ve read quite a few books of poetry, but this one absolutely takes the No. 1 spot!

I loved this book so much! ❤️💖

Cecelia’s poems have a central theme of personal growth and I definitely saw that with each and every poem.

There were definitely a few poems that had me tearing up. Some revolve around the ideas of fearing change, the unknown, and not taking risks and I definitely remembered myself in many situations like that, however with many of the poems, they then went on to inspire the changes and growth in life and I adored that message!

There are so many positive messages in this short book of poetry which are very inspiring and relatable.

Out of all the messages I found in this wonderful book, one that will absolutely stay with me is that while things may not always come out perfect, above all our personal growth/happiness is what we should always strive for.

There was a poem titled “Resolutions” and after reading it, I not only found myself hopeful, but overall found it inspiring for the start of 2017! Definitely a perfect read to start off the new year!

Overall Cecelia delivers a collection of poetry with a number of positive messages to inspire change when you find yourself scared or unsure of whats to come!

Highly recommend, it will leave you inspired!✨✨

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova Review

labyrinth-lost-by-zoraida-cordova-book-reviewLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Pages: 336

Summary: 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 markings 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 Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A magical coming-of-age story, with themes of family and self-identity!

What originally drew me to this novel was the  premise! Being Latina I was quite familiar with the magical and cultural elements of this story and I adored reading them in an urban fantasy setting!

Family is a big theme of Labyrinth Lost, and I felt the magic and the bonds between Alex’s mother and sisters, Lula and Rose, the moment they were introduced. Along those lines, many themes interconnected and gave so much depth to the overall world.

Themes of family and self-identity merged definitely weaved together with the Latinx heritage and culture.

There was so much diversity in this novel, which was fantastic! Latinx Culture, Bisexuality, and GLBT+ characters!

Alex is unsure whether or not she wants to accept her magic/power as an Enchantrix and definitely has an internal struggle of wanting to forge her own path, yet feeling unsure because of what her family expects of her.

After a spell goes horribly wrong, she finds herself headed to Los Lagos, a mythical land tied closely with Brujas. She finds herself teamed up with Nova, a family friend and Rishi, her best friend as she explores the mythical and magical land to save to her family.

The myths and legacy of the Brujas, magic system and world of Los Lagos was the best aspect of this novel. I’m very familiar with the idea/folklore surrounding brujas and found that to be a wonderfully rich and engaging part of the world/story.

Descriptions of Brooklyn, Los Lagos, and the history of the Brujas comes to life through the writing and I could really picture myself there. Both the world and characters are given such depth and were wonderfully written.

It was great reading from Alex’s strong, engaging, and empowering POV. While reading, I was captivated by the rich world of magic and Latinx culture that definitely showed the magic of familial/sister bonds which I could relate to so much!!

However the novel did have one con.

Through the 1st person POV, while I definitely got an overall rich and magical view of Los Lagos, I would have loved if the settings/world was expanded and given a little more depth. Additionally, I would have loved more from the plot. The “rescue” part of the novel felt rather jumpy and I would have loved more development from that, considering a majority of the novel took place there.

Overall with a satisfying conclusion, Labyrinth Lost dives deep into a magical world filled with Brujas, magic, Latinx Culture, and introduces many themes that weave together to tell a tale just as magical.

I will definitely be reading the sequel and can’t wait to see where Alex’s journey is headed!