Hey book readers! I hope you have gotten a great start to your October, whether that be diving into your spooky book stack, decorating your space for falloween, or watching some spooky faves.
This past week, I’ve been neglecting my reading of Wayward Witch, and have instead been focusing on spooky crafts. If you follow me on IG, you got to see me work on some Halloween PJ shorts and scrunchies. Since I haven’t been doing much reading, I thought I share with my readers some perfect books, movies, and podcasts to get into the Halloween spirit.
I finally got my hands on the Wicked King this week, and it did not take me long to finish the book. I was surprised that this book looked thinner than The Cruel Prince however, I knew that thinness doesn’t matter when we are dealing with author Holly Black. Now onto my favorite couple, *looks at the smudged ink on my palm* Cardigan and Juice.
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Red Queen starts as a typical dystopian novel, but all the twists and turns are like slipping on a banana in Mario Cart. I want to preface this review by stating the first part of this blog post will be the review, while the second part will be me reacting to the plot and will contain spoilers.
Witches and vampires dating? Read it. Witches and
demons dating also read that. But witches and werewolves, nope never.
When I saw the cover to Mooncakes, I immediately knew I needed to read it this fall.
Mooncakes is a graphic novel written by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu and came out this October. Nova Hoang is a witch who works at her grandmothers’ magic bookstore assisting customers with that day to day spell work. Nova also helps in solve supernatural happenings in her small town so when she hears about a giant white wolf in the woods Nova decides to investigate. However, when Nova comes face to face with the wolf, she realizes the wolf is none other than her old crush Tam Lang.
Tam confesses to Nova that while coming back into town, they spotted a horse demon in the woods. Nova agrees to help Tam, but they soon discover that Tam is the only one who can stop the demon by using their werewolf magic. While all this is going on, Nova and Tam decide to pick up where they left off and start dating.
I loved so many things about this book, but here are just a few of them. Nova is hard of hearing, and her blue hearing aids are visible in every panel she appears in. I loved that Nova’s disability remained visible throughout this novel. I returned to previous panels to search for them, and they were always there. My ignorance made me appreciate the visibility of Nova’s disability throughout this book, and it also made me pay closer attention to the artwork and not get swept up in the story.
I loved that Mooncakes included LGBTQ+ characters. Tam
Lang, the love interest, uses they/them pronouns and is a super cool white
werewolf. Additionally, I was surprised to learn that Nova has two nanas. All
the descriptions of this book I had previously read stated that Nova works at
her grandmother’s bookshop, which is technically true, but Nova having two
grandmothers is an extra special detail that you do not discover until you read
Lastly, I want to emphasize that readers pay attention to the background artwork during scenes because there are lots of cute Easter eggs. In particular, popular YA novels are visible behind Nova in the bookshop. This is super cool, considering Wendy Xu is a curator of YA and children’s books.
I do not have many negative points about this novel, but for the sake of this review, I decided to neat pick some details of this story. One thing I could never figure out was Nova’s age. This story takes place during the fall season, and considering that Nova never goes to school, I assumed she was 18 or older. Nova also mentions becoming best friends with Tatyana in high school, and the use of past tense suggests that both of them are older than high school age. Lastly, what happened to Terry? Will we ever know the answer to that mystery?
Mooncakes is up there with Don’t Date Rosa Santos as one of my favorite books this year. Mooncakes is the first graphic novel I have ever read, and I loved the way that the artwork flows with the story. I think I may need to add more graphic novels and even manga to my tbr list based on the artwork alone.
Remember when I made my October reading list a thick stack of Spooky literature? I had Cute Spooky books such as Babysitters Coven and Mooncakes, to Nostalgic Spooky with Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel, to Mystery Spooks with Wicked Fox and Ninth House. I knew my October TBR was ambitious, but after completing my Latinx heritage month reading binge, I felt extra powerful.
I started October by reading Permanent Record, a book that was not on my spooks list. However, Permanent Record decided that it was the book that I needed to start my October by arriving early at the library. Since Permanent Record arrived at the library during the first week of October, I simply could not refuse adding it to my pile.
I enjoyed the book, but it was not getting into the
spooky spirit. In fact, Permanent Record had more of a winter in February feel.
Next, I decided to jump on the nostalgia boat and pick
up Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel. I saw this title all over Instagram last
year, and although the reviews for it were not that great, my stubborn heart
wanted to know more about Max and Alison. My fave couple turned out just fine,
Alison as a lawyer and Max as a history teacher, oh, and they have a daughter
named Poppy. However, my curiosity about Alison and Max could not keep me
entertained throughout the book.
Hocus Pocus is a movie that premiered in the 90s and stars famous babes, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker. Freeform is streaming Hocus Pocus every day in October for this year’s 31 Nights of Halloween. Given all these factors, I felt that the 200-page novelization of the movie was unnecessary. Although the novelization of the movie would guide new readers through the cult classic, a recap would have been quicker.
I considered myself a Hocus Pocus expert because I
grew up watching this movie so, I decided to skip this whole section. Once I
moved onto The All New Sequel, I realized I made a mistake because the
characters bring up the legend of Elizabeth Sanderson. Someone who is not in
the movie at all, but was added to this story for the sequel.
I flipped back to the beginning to find out who Elizabeth was and then returned to the present-day chapters. I was hoping to settle into the sequel with this additional information, but I could not. Poppy was bland and uninteresting her hobbies, included photography and a crush on her best friend. Once the story kicks off, Poppy and her friends sneak into the Sanderson Sister Cottage and summon the Sisters which results in horrible consequences very much like the original movie. But in order for the sisters to anchor themselves to this realm, they must trade their places in hell with Max, Alison, and Dani. At this point in the story, I was bored. I didn’t care about these characters anymore and I began my next read.
My next book was The Babysitters Coven, one of my most anticipated reads. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read any future sequels. Check out my review here.
The Fourth book I read for October was Wicked Fox, and I found this book to be more interesting. I loved the reading about the mythology of the Gumiho and the way the author used Korean words in the dialogue. However, this book is heavy on the teen angst, and towards the end, I was tired of it. You can read my full review here.
Although I did not read as many books as I did in September, I still managed to get into the spooky spirit.
Wicked Fox is the last book I read in October, and it
wasn’t all I hoped it would be. This story is particularly unique as it
features a Gumiho. A Gumiho is a fox with nine tails that can turn into a
beautiful woman to lure their prey. Gumihos are believed to seduce men in order
to feed off their energy. Sound familiar? A Gumiho is the Korean name for this
legend, but other names include Kitsune and Huli jing. Although the legends
vary from culture to culture, Wicked Fox is the story of Miyoung, a Korean teen
living in Seoul, South Korea.
The story begins by introducing both Miyoung, a Gumiho
teen, and Jihoon, a human teen, in alternating POVs. Miyoung is out on a full
moon hunting a man to sustain herself while Jihoon is out walking his dog the
two collide paths when Jihoon confronts a goblin. Miyoung saves Jihoon but in
the process reveals her nine tails to him. Soon after this incident, Miyoung
becomes the new girl at Jihoon’s school, and she ignores all of Jihoon’s
attempts to befriend her. Overtime, Jihoon wears Miyoung down, and the two
become friends and start dating.
However, the bubble shatters two hundred pages in when
a Shaman ritual goes wrong, and through a sequence of tragic events, Jihoon
ends up with Miyong’s fox bead, leaving Miyoung to slowly starve. Miyoung feels
like she has no other choice but to leave Jihoon as her mother attempts to find
a way for Miyoung to live without her bead.
The story concludes with Miyoung and Jihoon fixing their mistakes and living happily ever after, or so I thought until I flipped the page to the Epilogue, which leaves the novel off on a cliff hanger!
I found myself struggling to get through the first
part of this book because I found it to be a little slow. Miyoung, during the
first half of this book, does not interact with any other kids at her school,
in fact, she tries her hardest to push them away, and it works on all of them
except Jihoon and his friends. I got tired of Miyoung constantly pushing Jihoon
away because sometimes she was nice to Jihoon while other times she was mean.
However, once everything goes wrong with the Shaman ritual, I found myself engrossed in the book once again until Miyoung decides to leave. The story becomes a bit boring as the two teens have a few more chapters of angst and longing for each other. At this point, I thought to myself what else could happen to these two? Haven’t they suffered enough?
Apparently not! The final chapters of this story
provide another wild plot twist, and I was here for it. I wanted this story to
end strong, and it did with the last scene. The epilogue reveals that not
everything is as it seems, and there is definitely a sequel coming. This
frustrated me because I just wanted this story to have a definite conclusion,
and the epilogue ruined it. I wish I could say reading the next book will give
me the answers I seek, but I am not invested enough in this story to find out
what happens next.
I would recommend this book if you love lots of teen angst and stories not set in the U.S.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
If you are intrigued by the legend of the Gumiho and don’t mind reading subtitles, I recommend the Kdrama, “My girlfriend is Gumiho.” This Korean drama features a Gumiho, who saves the life of Dae-Woong by giving him her fox bead. Mi-ho decides to stick around, and Dae-Woong makes sure she is happy by frequently treating her to Korean Barbeque. The drama is super cute and the theme song is catchy.
Have a spooky Halloween and continue living in libros,
Bruja Born is the second installment of the Brooklyn Brujas series.
The series follows the Mortiz family, a family of
three sisters and their mother. During the first book of the series, Labyrinth
Lost middle sister, Alex, struggles to come to terms with her identity as a
bruja and on her death day she cast a spell that accidentally sends her whole
family to the underworld. Alex and Nova, another brujo, both travel to the
underworld to free her family.
Bruja Born is Lula’s story and it begins with Lula trying to readjust after living in the underworld. Lula is struggling, and she becomes even more stressed when her boyfriend, Maks unexpectedly breaks up with her right before his soccer game. On the bus ride over to his game, the group of soccer player and cheerleader are involved in a tragic accident that kills everyone on board. Lula survives because her family combines their powers to heal her while she’s in the hospital. Lula is heartbroken to learn that Maks is in a coma and healing him might end up doing more harm than good, but Lula convinces her sisters to help her bring him back to life but upsetting the balance of nature comes with huge consequences. Lula ends up pissing off Death herself.
Lula’s inability to let go of her relationship to Maks is one of the main plot points of this book. Although, Maks clearly ended things with her the night of the accident. After he is brought back to life, both of them act as if nothing happened and go back to somewhat being in a relationship.
Maybe I am overanalyzing this a bit too much, considering Maks, conveniently does not remember the accident but I thought it was odd that he would not remember what happened before the accident.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Bruja born is that Death is a woman, which is rare in pop culture and other stories that make Death into a character. This depiction of death reminded me of the Earth mother goddess from Aztec mythology, Coatlicue, as she is also the deity of life and death. Although physically, the two goddesses look nothing alike, I believe they are both meant to be unnerving. La Muerte is not a kind diety she is mostly angry at Lula throughout this book, rightfully so, but towards the end of the novel, La Muerte ends up helping Lula. Which made me a little less of afraid of her.
Hooray, Nova gets a redemption arc! I won’t spoil what he did in Labyrinth lost but homeboy really had a lot of atoning to do. I’m curious to see how his story evolves in the next book.
Something I found a bit off about this sequel was the
introduction of other supernatural creatures. I need to refresh my memory of Labyrinth
lost because I don’t remember the sisters ever mentioning the existence of
other supernatural creatures.
Additionally, Lula gets another love interest, but his
introduction is very brief that I forgot he existed. When Rhett is introduced
again and positioned to be the love interest I felt thrown off. The two have
one scene together in which they decide to kind of flirt before jumping back
into the action. It was a very fast enemy to friends’ transition and I
personally did not feel the chemistry between the two. Maybe I’ll see it more
in the next book.
I really love that that the Mortiz sisters are proud of their roots and won’t let anyone disrespect them by calling them witches because they are brujas.
When you think witch, you think Hogwarts or some other European tradition of witchcraft. One of the main reasons I enjoy this series is that Cordova blends different religions and traditions from different Latinx cultures to create this world. I am here for this kind of representation! Truthfully, the Mortiz sisters are not witches because their world revolves around the traditions and legacies of Latinx cultures.
I give Bruja Born 4 Stars because it’s awesome. Definitely a good read for Latinx heritage month.
I have a lot of feelings about The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. This book did not go as I expected, and in the end, I think I liked it.
Before I begin my review I want to let my readers know that this books deals with a lot of mature topics such as rape, violence, and abuse. In my review I will be mentioning these things so feel free to skip this review if you need to.
The House of the Spirits tells the story of the Trueba family beginning with Clara De Valle, a clairvoyant young girl with an eccentric personality. Esteban Trueba narrates almost all of the story and he is engaged to Clara’s older sister, Rosa the most beautiful woman in the city, but after her tragic death Esteban decides to rebuild his family’s rancho, Tres Marías. At Tres Marías Esteban is tortured by dreams of Rosa and because of his horniness, he decides to rape many of the young girls in Tres Marías until he decides he needs a wife.
Clara De Valle spends most of her day speaking to ghosts and predicting future events. Clara also has a sidekick in the form of Barrabás a mysterious creature that resembles a very large dog.
After the death of Rosa, Clara becomes mute and on her 19th birthday she announces to her family that she will marry her sister’s ex fiancé, Esteban Trueba, even though she does not love him. At Clara’s engagement ceremony her childhood companion, Barrabás dies in her arms signaling the beginning of her adult life. Clara and Esteban are married and have three children Blanca, Jaime, and Nicolas.
Blanca does not inherit her mother’s ability to divine the future but, like her aunt Rosa, Blanca has a talent for creating fantasy creatures out of clay. Blanca also falls in love with Pedro Tercero, her childhood friend from Tres Marías. However, when Esteban discovers that Blanca has been sneaking out to meet her lover, he beats her and knocks Clara’s teeth out when she attempts to intervene. After the incident mother and daughter leave Tres Marías for their home in the city where they live with Blanca’s sibiling’s Jaime and Nicolas. Back in the city, Blanca discovers that she is pregnant, and Esteban marries Blanca off to a French count. However, Blanca discovers her husband’s secret photography room, she decides to leave him and gives birth to Alba at her parent’s home in the city.
Alba inherits her aunt Rosa’s green hair and is an overall a happy child raised by a single mother and her uncle Jaime. Alba, unlike the rest of the family members, is the only one who regularly talks to her grandfather Esteban and because of this Esteban decides that Alba will be the person to inherit Tres Marías.
In College Alba falls for Miguel, a communist advocate, who tries to steer Alba away from the danger of becoming involved in the political protests. During Alba’s arc of the story, the country, which I assumed was chile, experiences a transition from democracy, but was really oligarchy, to communism, and last to a military dictatorship. Alba has a good heart and she ends up feeding the poor and hiding the country’s most wanted men. Miguel leaves Alba to become a guerrilla fighter and soon after that she is kidnapped by Esteban Garcia, a descendant of the first woman that Esteban Trueba rape. Alba is tortured and raped during her time with Esteban but when she is eventually freed, she returns to her grandfather and the two decide to write this story.
I hated Esteban Trueba so much. He had a savior complex and always needed to be in a position of power. Esteban always compared his peasant workers to children in order to justify why they should not have certain privileges such as being paid. In addition, Esteban is a rapist and he beat his family members, so he is a shitty person. Towards the end of the novel Esteban’s has a change of heart and begins to regret his actions as a politician and he helps Blanca and Pedro Tercero flee the country as well as freeing his granddaughter Alba. However, Esteban is the reason all these bad things happened in the first place. He created the villain, Esteban Garcia, by raping his grandmother, and Esteban was the one who put him in power by recommending him to the police academy.
Almost all of the novel is told through Esteban’s perspective, so this gave me mixed feelings however, I loved Clara and her descendants. What I took away from this novel is that the women in this family are resilient. After Esteban knocks Clara’s teeth out, she continues to live her life. She does not leave Esteban, but she spends the rest of their life together not speaking to him which is worse.
Blanca goes on after her father beats her bloody for sleeping with Pedro Tercero. And she continues to see Pedro against her father’s wishes. Eventually she runs away with him and Esteban has no choice but to help them.
“Pedro Tercero García, whom she would imagine among the clouds of sunset and or in golden wheatfields of Tres Marías.”
Lastly, Alba continues to live her life despite the trauma she went through at the hands of her cousin Esteban. This becomes Alba’s revenge against her abuser and maybe that is something she learned from the women in her family.
Right now, my rating of this novel is 3 stars.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
I would not recommend this book to everyone given all the depictions of sexual violence contained within the pages. I overall enjoyed Allende’s writing and I hope there is another book of hers that I enjoy even more.
“Aiyoooooh, finish everything on your plate, girls! Don’t you know there are children starving in America?”
I am sure a handful of readers have either read Crazy Rich Asians or seen the movie by now, for today’s blog post I thought I share my thoughts on the book.
Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Rachel Chu, an NYU Econ Professor, who was raised by a single immigrant mother. Rachel’s boyfriend, Nick Young, another professor at NYU, invites her to spend a summer with him and his relatives in Singapore. Rachel thinks Nick is just an ordinary guy who was born in Singapore and attended school in England. But Rachel is in for the shock of her life when she discovers that Nick’s family is not just rich but crazy rich, and everyone hates her.
This book bore me at the beginning. There are so many characters who act like brats and not enough drama I almost put the book down thirty pages in!
In July, I went camping and had nothing to do but read Crazy Rich Asians on my phone. Naturally, I got sucked into the story and I ended up enjoying it.
One of the things I disliked about Crazy Rich Asians was all the different characters that appeared I found it very confusing. A lot of these characters only had brief introductions and continued appearing in the story but I could not remember what rich family they were tied too.
Luckily, Kwan has a family tree at the beginning; and I found myself constantly flipping back to the family tree to refresh my memory. However, there is no family tree to save you if you forget the name of one of Nick’s friends.
The second thing that annoyed me with this book was all the slang and phrases. I love when authors sprinkle phrases in different languages because it adds depth to the story. But Kwan constantly uses these colorful phrases and only defines them once which confused me and took me out of the story.
I give Crazy Rich Asians 4 stars.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
I recommend picking this book up on a lazy Sunday morning when you’re feeling under the weather. All of the drama and scandal might just be what you need to get you out of the funk.