Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

Inside cover blurb:

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…”

-from publisher

Thoughts:

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More, more, more! Give me more now! Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me this ARC.

I loved Labyrinth Lost and I was actually a little surprised to find that I enjoyed Bruja Born just as much- you don’t always get lucky the second time around.

Bruja Born is more urban fantasy- everything takes place in New York and the fight comes to the girls, as opposed to Labyrinth Lost, where Alex went to Los Lagos. This means that Bruja Born gives us more of a glimpse at the Mortiz’s sisters home life and relationships with one another, which let me just say, I personally would not mess with them. They are three badass babes.

Both stories have a flavor and style that is unique to the sister it’s focused on. Lula’s journey focuses on her emotions and how she learns to accept imperfection. My spidey senses tell me that perhaps the next book in the series will center on the third Mortiz sister, Rosie. I sure wouldn’t be mad- I definitely want to hear more about her and her powers!

I learned from the afterward that some of the characters/organizations that appear in Bruja Born were first introduced in The Vicious Deep, Corodova’s series about mermaids. I always thought those books sounded kind of dweeby, to be honest, but now I’m kind of intrigued…maybe that’s what I’ll read while I sit here waiting for the third installment of Brooklyn Brujas.

Plus: Powerful female brujas and magic that disturbs the balance of the universe. I’m so into it.

Minus: The plot didn’t always flow as well as I would have liked, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it overall.

If you like this book, try:

Undead Girl Gang

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson- A teen Wiccan finds out she has the power to raise the dead after her best friend dies under suspicious circumstances. Pretty similar to Bruja Born in some ways, but with a bit more dark humor.

Odd & True by Cat Winters

Inside cover blurb:

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.”

-from publisher

Thoughts:

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This book totally blindsided me, in the best way possible!

It started out kind of slow and I fully expected it to be just another paranormal romp- the kind of book that’s pretty bad, but still fairly entertaining.

But holy moly, Odd & True kicked it into high gear! This book has it all: feminism, (dis)ability, class struggle…The historical fiction angle only served to better highlight these issues. It totally worked for me. And I was pleasantly surprised that it’s set in the western US. Our states don’t usually get any love in monster stories!

Admittedly there were some slow points along the way and I lost interest during some of the flashbacks that explain the sisters’ history, but I loved the balance of supernatural vs. real world struggle.

Definitely read this book if you are looking for a story where young women kick butt, both physically and metaphorically.

Thank you to Cat Winters and Abrams Kids for sending me this ARC!

Plus: A socially conscious, historical fiction story about monster hunting sisters. Need I say more?

Minus: I felt like the writing didn’t live up to how much I liked the story overall, but it might not be an issue for other readers.

If you like this book, try:

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Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman- A Western-style historical fiction about a young woman who shoots first and asks questions later on her quest to avenge her father’s murder.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Front cover blurb:

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.”

from publisher

Thoughts:

Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me an ARC of this lovely book!

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass takes the story of Snow White and puts it back where it belongs- in the hands of the women it’s about!

The focus here is the relationship between Lynet and her stepmother, Mina. Perhaps they were not always rivals as other tales would have us believe. Mina and Lynet are both powerful, but they are constantly manipulated by their fathers, each with their own agenda. Their true strength can only be realized if they stand with one another.

And the way the book is written is perfection. Every time the women have unkind thoughts or doubts about the other, they come back to their affection for one another and are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt. This book is pure girl power, through and through.

Now that is a fairy tale retelling that I get behind.

Plus: A princess who isn’t waiting for Prince Charming to come save her…partly because she’s queer and partly because she can save herself!

Minus: It’s a character driven novel so there’s not a lot of action and the pace is a bit slow at times.

If you like this, try:

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen- Also a slow burning novel about a young woman who must learn to harness her power and become the queen she was born to be.

 

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Inside cover blurb:

“Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.”

-from publisher

Thoughts:

First, I would like to thank Random House Children’s for allowing me to read Dear Martin before publication! Baby’s first ARC (advance reader copy, for those of you who may not know the term).

On to the review!

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Dear Martin is a strong book in terms of plot and message. But while I was reading, I was constantly wondering if the copy I had was merely a preview edition or if sections were outright missing because the transitions seemed very choppy.

For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. features prominently in the book, yet the main character never really explains why.

Because of my disconnect from the story, I felt a little disconnected from the characters. But the story definitely kept me hooked and I finished in about two hours, that’s how anxious I was to know how it ended.

It does end on a somewhat bleak note, but what I took away from this book is that even changing the minds/outlooks of one or two people can make an impact. And that’s a powerful message.

Plus: If you want to think and you want to ugly cry (which isn’t always a bad thing), this book is for you. And I want to know more about Black Jihad- they sound intense.

Minus: Needs a bit more exposition and detail in some places.

If you like this book, try:

X

X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon-  The re-imaged youth of another prominent civil rights activist, Malcom X. And it’s co-written by his own daughter, how awesome!