Tag Archives: paranormal romance

Blog Tour – Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Review and Q&A)

Labyrinth Lost is a book that wasn’t on my radar until I had gone to the #TeensReadFeed event hosted by Raincoast back in May. The book was in my goodie bag, and though it had been mentioned at previous events, the release date kept getting pushed back. I have friends who love Zoraida Cordova’s novels, but I admit I wasn’t too familiar with her work.

Labyrinth Lost is a joy. It’s sassy, it’s adventurous, and it gives you a sense of appreciation for otherly worlds and other people’s culture. Once again I am super grateful to Raincoast for inviting me on this blog tour, and a huge, huge thank you to Zoraida Cordova for taking time out of her busy schedule to do some Q&A.


27969081Title: Labyrinth Lost

Author: Zoraida Cordova

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: 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…

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I generally am not big on paranormal YA, like, at all. I was hesitant then that I would enjoy Labyrinth Lost, and you know what? It was a pleasant surprise for all the right reasons. It didn’t have the usual trope-yness of YA paranormal, and I think because a lot of this novel is rooted in Latin culture, that was what gave it a lot of appeal that made me fall in love with it.

I have never read any paranormal that is rooted in Latin-American culture. I am Canadian so my knowledge of Latin-American culture is fairly flimsy at best. However, I LOVE to read about other cultures and learn new things I never knew about. And this book is such a fun, fun read. The characters are very well developed, the story is fast-paced and quick witted, and I never felt bored reading Labyrinth Lost. There was always just so much happening, and my goodness when the action was on, it wad turned way up.

I think what I loved about this novel the most was how well developed the world of both Brooklyn and Los Lagos was. Cordova breaths so much life and makes both places so vivid, and watching Alex go between both places made the novel all that more interesting. She faces so many struggles because of powers she never wanted and is forced to embrace something she was fearful of. Forbidden power and family history play such a large, playful role in this story, and I found myself just turning the pages, needing to know what was going to happen next… and then the book ends on a cliffhanger — not cool Zoraida Cordova! (Except it is, because I adored this book).

But seriously, the cast of characters in this story is love: Alex is wonderful, she’s strong, and her head-space is just an interesting place to be in. I also loved Rishi and thought she was great as well. Nova took awhile to grow on me, and frankly it wasn’t until the end when I finally realized that he wasn’t too bad of a character.

I love books like Labyrinth Lost that drop you into a story and then offers so much more than meets the eye. This novel offers a fantastic adventure, with a fun cast of characters. I am very grateful that books like this exist where I can enjoy cultures that I am unfamiliar with and make them super accessible. I am excited and scared to read book two when it releases!


Q&A With Zoraida Cordova!

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Q: One of my favourite aspects of Labyrinth Lost was being allowed to learn more about
Latin culture and how you used it to create a paranormal experience for Alex. Are there
any Latin stories or myths that you love and would perhaps want to transform into a story?

ZC: There’s one story of La Llorona that used to scare me as a kid. It isn’t uniquely
Ecuadorian. There are lots of Latin American countries that have a similar story. It’s
about a weeping woman who steals children who are bad. I used to want to write a story
about her, but I don’t think I’d do it justice. There is a book called Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe McCall that does this wonderfully. Maybe one day!


Huge thank you to Raincoast for allowing me this chance to participate in the blog tour, and huge thank you to Zoraida for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my question! Want to see where the blog tour is heading next? Check out all the tour stops and don’t forget to check out Labyrinth Lost, which released on September 6, 2016. 🙂

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Late to the Party ARC Review – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824Title:  A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Rating:  ★★★

Synopsis: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Huge thank you to Indigo Teen for sending me this ARC as part of a giveaway!

Sam’s Review:

This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I thought this book was all right. Frankly, I had been putting it off since it released because the hype levels were just absolutely insane and I had a hunch that this book might have not been for me. Let’s just say, while I found this book engrossing, it was also kind of ridiculous as well.

Truthfully, I had a hard time with the romance in this book. It just read as melodrama, which I’m fine with actually. The amount of angst, tug and pull between Feyre and Tamlin was like popping candy. However, that rape-that-wasn’t-a-rape is something that did very much upset me, and I honestly wish fantasy authors would stop including that in a book to give their female protagonists agency. It’s just not acceptable and there are so many other ways to do that than resorting to rape.

Furthermore, I don’t like the men in this novel. With the except of Rhys, I found Lucian and Tamlin read in such a one-dimensional way. I couldn’t get over how many times the author used the word “growl” or “snarl” to describe Tamlin, especially when for a Beauty & the Beast retelling he is described as a super hot fae man. THAT’S NOT A BEAST. He’s just a grumpy fae man who SNARLS A LOT. I mean I guess hot guys can be ‘beasts’ but I just had such a hard time buying it in the story because Feyre was just so in love but tormented by him.

Oddly, I found I liked the female cast a bit more. I wanted to know more about Nesta and I liked what we learned about Feyre’s story and her life before becoming captive. In a lot of ways I wish there had been more backstory because those were the parts over the romance that I enjoyed. I actually thought the ending was pretty solid too. I appreciate that Feyre was comfortable with herself — she never seemed insecure, and she has quite a bit of sexual prowess which I think helped her personality in the story. I don’t think she’s a Katniss wannabe that some people peg her for, but I think she has just enough layers to counteract how much of a caricature her love interest is.

But here’s the thing about this book I WILL agree with: it’s candy, the kind of candy that you can just keep turning the pages and be completely glued to the story. You want to know why the story is ridiculous, you want to see if the characters are going to grow and mature (short answer: they don’t), and here’s the even bigger revelation: I can totally see the appeal of why people love this book, even if I disagree. It’s easy to get swept up in the melodrama and the sexual tension because there’s so much of it. Hell, I have to admit it happened on occasion to me when reading the story.

Admittedly, I am super sure I am going to read book two. Even though I found this book to be a ball of melodrama and candy page-turning, I enjoyed my time with it and I found it to be a great escape from reality. It wasn’t even mindless, it was just so easy to be invested in the drama that these characters face, even if at times it was rather silly. While I am not sold yet on Sarah J. Maas as a writer, I am interested to see how much melodrama gets ramped up in book two.

Cover Reveal – The Shadow Stealer by Melissa Giorgio

It’s that time again! I dunno what it is about cover reveals, but I get so damn excited by them. Melissa Giorgio sent me an e-mail with a wonderful request, one which I get to fulfill right NOW! As many of you are aware, Melissa writes a series called The Silver Moon Saga, which you should ALL GO OUT AND READ. If you haven’t that is. Go, go read it. GO READ IT. NOW NOW NOW.

*Ahem* In any case, she asked me and River to cover the cover to the last novel in the series. The anticipated final book titled, The Shadow Stealer. Are you ready to see it? Okay…

Three…

Two…

One…

LET’S JAM! (Excuse the Cowboy Bebop reference, or not, go watch that too.)

cover

Add The Shadow Stealer to Goodreads shelf!

Can we talk about how beautiful this cover is? It is super pretty, and might be my new favourite of the five covers that exist. Such intensity in the model’s eyes. I like it! Wanna know what it is about? Here’s the blurb:

Ever since that fateful night Gabi Saw her first demon, she’s been questioning who and, better yet, what she is. When given a chance to find the answers she seeks, she seizes it, even if it means putting herself—and her beloved friends—in danger. 

From upstate New York to the streets of Manhattan, Gabi chases after the truth that has, until this point, remained out of reach. But when her whole world shatters, Gabi wonders if it would have been better to remain ignorant. Because once you know the truth, there’s no going back.  

In the final installment of the Silver Moon Saga, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been for Gabi and her friends, and no one’s guaranteed a happy ending. Will Gabi triumph or will the shadows claim her for their own?

Ahhhhhh, I cannot wait to read this! And it’s actually coming out very soon: on  February 27th, 2015.

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, I encourage you to do so. Here’s where you can start The Silver Moon Saga: Amazon.com (also available on Amazon.ca)

ARC Review – Transcendent by Lesley Livingston

22042962Title: Transcendent

Author: Lesley Livingston

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:  On a terrace high above the streets of Manhattan, Mason Starling kneels beside her beloved Fennrys Wolf, who lies in a pool of blood, his life hanging in the balance. Even if he lives, their future is far from certain as chaos swirls around them. Has this unstoppable heroine-smart, savvy, deadly with a blade-reached the limits of what her sword can vanquish and her soul can survive?

Huge thank you to HarperCollins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am so sad this series is officially over! However, it really did have quite a hell of an ending, if I must say. Transcendent is a book that keeps you entertained from the get go and it immediately begins where Descendent left off. Mason is now a Valkyrie, and she must learn to harness her new found, if super sucky power (though personally, I think it’s kind of nifty, if morbid). Mason gets a ton of growth and what I enjoyed about her in this particular instalment is that she gets crap done.

Was this last book perfect? No, it definitely has a few problems. There were so many mythologies crammed into the story, and I wished that story had main focused on one or two. I mean, I get that it’s an epic battle of the gods, but it did become a bit overwhelming at times to keep all the names straight. Still, this is a long sequence of battles, chaos and absolutely craziness, with many of the characters facing tough decisions and attempting to figure out what is truly “right and wrong.”

Poor Fennrys Wolf though, he takes quite the kickin’ in this story, and I really felt for him at times. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did. I don’t really want to embark on spoiler territory, but this book packs continuous punches, each more furious as the story progresses. Plus, the writing is snappy and it’s so easy to just become absorbed in this world and the story being told. I’m said this trilogy is over, but I cannot wait to see what new shenanigans Lesley Livingston will come up with next.

 

Book Review – A Promise of Magic by Melissa Giorgio

21899003Title: A Promise of Magic

Author: Melissa Giorgio

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 / ★★★★

Synopsis: As a child growing up in California, Evan Underwood only has a basic knowledge of Silver Moon, the organization that keeps the world safe from demons. After accidentally setting his parents’ house on fire with magic, he’s sent to the New York Silver Moon HQ to learn how to control his powers. Frustrated by his teacher’s refusal to show him anything beyond magical theory, Evan decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands. But teaching himself magic isn’t as easy as Evan imagined, and it’s during one of these practice sessions that he’s discovered by Alexandra Chen, a strange girl Evan finds both frustrating and alluring. Making a promise to show Alex magic, Evan is determined to live up to her expectations, even if it means breaking a few rules in the process. But when things backfire, Evan must rely on his friends to help free him from the clutches of a new, sinister character.

River’s Review:

WELL THAT WAS FUN. And steamy! This is by far Giorgio’s sexiest book. Buuuuut it is mainly about Evan (who isn’t even the one getting the most steamy parts!) soooooooooo yeah.

So I liked this, I really liked this. It was really fun getting so much back story, seeing wittle Rafe & Evan becoming BFFs and all that. BUT I MISSED GABI SASSY PANTS OKAY. The feelings I got from just even reading the last story (the giddiness, the awwww, the hilarity) just weren’t quite there when I was reading the other two. There’s just something about Gabi’s voice! (And now I’m dying to read the last book. HURRY UP AND GIVE IT TO MEEEEEEE.) And her interactions with Rafe… PRICELESS.

But like I said, I really enjoyed getting all that backstory. Evan and Alex’s relationship was very sweet (and violent!) and I am looking forward to seeing what Collins’ deal is (expecting him to be a major player in the last book).

And Phill & Kain’s story was just. Damn. Steamy. Sexy. Hot Hot Hot. Like I said… sexiest book yet! (Now we just need Gabi and Rafe to get it on HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah right, maybe when they’re 35!)

Also this is my favorite cover so far! LOVE IT! (SHE LOOKS SO SASSY!)

Sam’s Review:

Holy steaminess, Batman! There be some sexiness in this book and it was won-der-ful. I loved all three of the stories in this collection, and it’s easily the sexiest of Melissa’s books to date, but such a fun, fun story.

Evan’s story was great and I loved the balance of humor and sadness within the story. Giorgio pulls no punches when it comes to the feels in this novella collection, and Evan’s story has it in spades. Also having all the scenes with bitty Evan and teenie Rafe just made me giggle! They are so cute and their relationship and how it blossoms is just really quite darling. It’s great to see different sides to both these characters, and having that look into their home lives was both depressing as it was interesting. Poor, poor Rafe!

Admittedly though, there was something that drew this back from being my favourite and that was the glaring absence of Gabi. Yes, she appears in the last story, but she’s a huge part of what makes this series as charming and entertaining as it is. Her sassiness was greatly missed and thee just wasn’t enough of it. Though any time a Gabi story starts in the Convenience Corral, you know it’s going to be a lot of fun.

This is a great collection for those loving <i>The Silver Moon Saga</i>, particularly those who adore Evan and Alex. Since I love all the characters there was a lot of enjoyment to be had, but the lack of my favourite girl made me sad. However, learning more about Evan? Pretty awesome. Check it out along with the rest of the series. It’s delightfully charming!