Cruel Prince should really be called the Sad Prince

One day in October, I was living my best carefree life-blissfully unaware of the Folk of the Air series until my dearest friend Nessa decided to ruin my life by casually mentioning this series followed an enemy to lover’s trope.

In case I haven’t made myself clear on my feelings about this Trope, I loved them! This trope is top-quality writing, redemption arcs, soft moments. I live for it all.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click this link and complete a purchase through my link I earn a commission.

Read More »

Red Queen made me look like a fool, five stars.

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.

I’ve done this a thousand times before, watching the crowd like a wolf does a flock of sheep.

Mare Barrow Red Queen
Read More »

Teen Angst and a Nine Tailed Fox

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.

Jihoon glanced up and met Miyoung’s eyes with his, giving her a wide grin. He had a kimchi stuck in his teeth. And she hated that it made his goofy smile even more endearing.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

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,

Gaby

Babysitters coven

Babysitter’s coven was one of my most anticipated reads this Halloween season. The cover is gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing, I mean, who wouldn’t want to DIY their jean jacket after seeing this cover?


Esme is the voice of The Babysitter’s coven, and she is an anti-social 17-year-old, who runs a babysitting club with her friend Janice. Esme’s club does not have any members besides her and Janice, so the two besties mostly hangout during their meetings and split up babysitting jobs. Esme’s life is normal until she somehow makes a ball move with her mind during gym class.

The plot thickens when new girl, Cassandra Heaven, becomes adamant about joining the babysitter’s club. Esme assumes Cassandra may need some extra cash, so she allows her to join. However, Cassandra’s first babysitting job reveals she has no experience in childcare and she is forced to reveal her true intentions for joining the club.

Before Cassandra’s mother passed, she left her daughter a note stating that she must find the babysitters. Cassandra assumed the babysitters could help her explain why she can start fires with her mind, but when Esme acts oblivious. Cassandra forces Esme to come to terms with her own powers. The two super teens quickly become friends as they try to figure out the meaning behind the note.

Both girls are sitters, special people with superpowers that have been destined to protect the world from evil. So, when children start to report seeing monsters coming into their rooms, the sitters must save the kids and defeat the demons all before the parents can get home.

Esme is witty, funny, and a fashionista! I love it when characters have a vast knowledge of pop culture. Additionally, her dog, Pig, is awesome and deserves all the belly rubs. Can Pig become an honorary Salem Saberhagen? Anyways, Esme is a fashion icon, she buys most of her clothes from the thrift store and is very creative with her outfits. Every morning before school, she texts Janice her outfit inspiration for the day, which can range from pop culture references to random moods.

Cassandra is cool, but there are times in the novel in which she allows the power to get to her head and uses her new abilities to benefit her life. As a result Esme has a little power trip as well.

I understand why Cassandra chose to use her power selfishly as she has lived a hard life. However, Cassandra’s actions are never addressed in this novel, which leads me to believe that it will become a plot point in a future sequel.

The supporting characters in this novel are all very interesting. As mentioned previously, Janice is Esme’s best friend and a fashionista, but she disappears towards the middle of the novel. Instead, Cassandra takes over as Esme’s main friend. I know that Cassandra is essential to the plot, but I wished that Janice did not have to disappear because I wanted to learn more about Janice. Another major supporting character is Brian, the football coach, who is essentially the sitter’s watcher, if you speak Buffy. I found Brian to be boring, but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of football and this man was obsessed with the sport. I wanted to know more about his previous job as a sitter’s mentor.

Dion is the last supporting character I wanted to discuss because he is Esme’s love interest. Dionysus, or Dion as he nicknamed in this story, is Cassandra’s older brother and her legal guardian. According to Esme, Dion is super handsome, Greek god handsome (HA!), so of course, Esme goes heart eyes for him. However, the two lacked some chemistry, so I wonder if Esme will have another love interest in the future, I have a theory it might be Cassandra, but if that’s the case, where does that leave Dion’s character?

The Babysitter’s Coven does not end in a cliff hanger, but it does end in a way that makes it clear that this book is just the beginning of a series, nevertheless, the ending is satisfying.

I want more answers about the sitters, and I want to know what happens next with Esme, Cassandra, and friends.

If you were wondering about picking up this book for spooky season, do it!

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

Bruja Born

Art of Frida by Spooksieboo on IG https://www.instagram.com/spooksieboo/

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.


The monsters, the monsters, they crawl in the night. The monsters, the monsters, they hide in plain sight.


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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

All the reason to read “Don’t Date Rosa Santos”

A sleepy beach town, a love interest who can bake, chismoso viejietos, Don’t Date Rosa Santos has it all.


Don’t Date Rosa Santos is my favorite book this year!

Rosa Santos lives in the small seaside town of Port Coral, Florida. The town is very reminiscent of Star Hallows with its array of supporting characters and yearly festivals. What mainly sets this book apart from other books set in small towns is that the majority of the characters of Port Coral are of Latin American descent. Because of the unique cast of characters, readers are immersed in a world of guayaba pastelitos and characters who code-switch between English and Spanish.

Rosa is a high school senior with dual enrollment at a community college, which allows her to take her classes online and earn college credit. Rosa is in the middle of finalizing her enrollment to the University of Charleston when she learns that the town may have to cancel their annual Spring festival and sell the Marina. Rosa convinces the town to rebrand its spring festival as a fundraiser. This puts Rosa in the path of Alex Aquino, a new cutie in town. Alex assists Rosa with the fundraiser, but despite her crush, Rosa tries to keep Alex at a distance because of her family’s curse. All the men in Rosa’s family have tragically died because of the sea, and since Alex is a sailor himself, Rosa wants to keep him safe.

“The height difference is very tol and smol. You could climb him or something.”

Don’t Date Rosa Santos pg. 137

Rosa also struggles with her own identity in this novel. Her grandmother, her main caretaker, refuses to talk about Cuba, the country she was forced to flee. Rosa is curious about her roots, so she signs up for a study abroad trip to Cuba through Charleston, the only problem is, Rosa does not know how to tell her grandmother.

As mentioned earlier, the Santos family is cursed. Rosa’s pregnant grandmother, Milagros (Mimi), leaves Cuba with her husband in a small boat he constructed, but while navigating the dangerous waters, he drowns. Mimi gives birth to Rosa’s mother, and together the two of them make a home for themselves in Port Coral. In Port Coral, Mimi keeps herself occupied by being the town’s curandera or a healer.

Rosa’s father was a sailor, who owned a boat at the Port Coral Marina, however when Rosa’s mother is pregnant, her father goes missing at sea. Rosa is born without knowing her father or grandfather. Rosa’s mother is an artist who travels all over the U.S painting murals, but when Rosa turns 9, her mother decides to permanently leave her with her grandmother. Unlike Mimi, who deals with her trauma by healing others, Rosa’s mother’s solution to her trauma is to keep moving, only staying in Port Corral as long as necessary.

The Santos family curse is more of an inherited trauma passed down through the generations. The citizens of Port Coral know that Rosa should never go near the ocean, and when Rosa develops a friendship with Alex, the viejitos begin to gossip about them because he is a sailor.

I wish I could have a concrete answer on whether this curse ends up effecting Rosa’s life, but the story ends before I could find out. The story concludes on a hopeful note, and I believe the Santos women are working to heal from their trauma.

Besides the small-town vibe of Port Coral, this book also has a lovely description of food. I was very much craving a Cuban pastelito throughout various points in the novel. I might just have to make a trip to the local Cuban bakery. If you have not had the pleasure of trying a guava pastelito or Cuban food, in general, I highly recommend you try it. It’s delicious.

“Mrs. Peña delivered a shrimp ceviche served alongside plátano chips still warm from the fryer and crispy chicharrones”

“She left, and I spooned a mountain of ceviche onto a plátano and shoved it in my mouth. The lime and salt sang together in a concert.”

Don’t Date Rosa Santos is a great book to binge read. The plot is interesting, but so are the different characters. If you want a good read for Latinx Heritage Month, Don’t Date Rosa Santos is the perfect book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

The Selection Series

Dear Readers,

I have been out of touch with the YA community for a long time and I am know just starting to catch up with the great stories that have been published since my absent.  One such story that knocked me out into the next galaxy was The Selection series by Keira Cass.

The Selection Series for those who were blissfully unaware like yours truly, are a series of books that follow a young woman named American who lives in a future dystopian version of the United States. In this dystopian society the U.S, now renamed the country of llléa, is basically governed by a caste system. The higher the number you are the poorer you live eight being the lowest and as America describes it those who are eights are basically homeless. Being a one of course means you’re living the good life and in the case of The Selection series you’re basically royalty. This fictional USA is also governed by a Monarchy and once the prince becomes of age women all over the country are invited to compete for him as part of the Selection. America, wanting to please her mother, submits her application to the Selection believing that her chance of being picked will be slim. Additionally, our girl America is dating this guy, Aspen, and they’re practically engaged when she decides to enter the contest. However, a stupid fight leaves America heartbroken and on the other side of the country where she meets Prince Maxon and her feelings about both of men become complicated.

Book 2 starts off with America and Maxon cuddling in the gardens their favorite spot in the palace. After an incidence involving America’s bff the two get in a nasty fight and spend the rest of the book detached from each other. In fact, both end up getting close to other people. America of course rebounds to Aspen, her comforting ex, while Maxon ends up getting close to Kriss, one of the remaining members of the selection.

Book 3 is a whirlwind. America comes to the realization that Maxon’s heart might not solely belong to her and decides to really fight for Maxon and breaks things off with Aspen. Additionally, in this book America and Maxon make an alliance with the Northern rebels after finding out that they want the same things. The King tries to get America to drop out of the competition by any means necessary. Moreover the tension builds when it is revealed that the King is abusing Maxon whenever he makes a mistake. America also decides to tell Maxon the truth about Aspen and her feelings for him. Some drama happens and Maxon comes close to marrying Kriss but alas another rebel attack occurs leaving Maxon the only surviving member of the royal family. Now that his father’s gone Maxon is free to marry America and ascend the throne.

So, let’s get to the tea.

I stayed up late to read all of these books and I have no regrets about binging this series.

What I loved about these books was that the writing is pretty easy to follow none of those loaded words that make you feel smart after looking them up in the dictionary. The plot itself is very lighthearted. Even though the world is dystopian nothing overly violent happens. Also, I really want to take a moment to appreciate Prince Maxon for not being a total jerk that was my expectation of him when I initial dived into this series. This is the perfect series to read when you just lose all your focus while studying and need a break.

The big thing that made me disappointed in these books was the lack of peoples of color. The history of this world is that the United States was taken over by China and then after few more world wars the U.S united with Canada, Mexico, and Central America to form Illéa. All of these countries that have formed to become llléa are diverse so where are the peoples of color in this series? Did these women of color not get chosen to compete?

However, after reading book two I discover that Elise, one of the remaining girls in the selection, is Asian! In addition, I also believe that it is briefly mentioned that Maxon’s mother is from a country that sounds similar to Panama, so I am unsure whether that means that Maxon is at least biracial. Regardless I wish the series gave me a more concrete answer for why peoples of color are absent.

Here’s is the map of Illea which I found in collection of short stories about the side characters of these series.

 I also felt it was a bit wack that Maxon and America decide to keep the fact that the King is abusing Maxon a secret between them as they do not want to worry the Queen. However, after being with Queen Amberly throughout this series I feel that if she would have known this was happening, she would have ripped off her husband’s crown so fast and forced the King to step down. Thus, making Maxon the king and putting an end to his father’s toxic reign. That would have probably been a more dramatic ending and more satisfying for me at least.

I did enjoy Celeste redemption arc. I overall enjoy when evil characters go grinch and have a change of heart. I loved that Lucy ended up falling in love with Aspen given that the poor girl has gone through so much. Plus, the way that America describes Aspen, the boy is a cutie.

Although my rant seems like I hated this series that is a stretch. For me these books were a page turner. I spent the early hours of the morning reading these books. And after writing this review I will most likely continue reading this series in order to find out what the sequel “The Heir” is all about.


Anyways continue Living in Libros,

Gaby

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

The Summer of Chasing of Mermaids

Sarah Ockler

399 pages

4 Stars

Summer of Chasing Meramaids.jpg

 

Hello readers and book lovers,

Today’s review is a little late. I meant to post it as soon as I finished writing it but I completely forgot I wrote it.

Honestly if you’re looking for that perfect summer book that will give you the sense of being at the beach everyday, and having beach bonfires, and a cute summer crush the Summer of Chasing Mermaids is going to be your book.

This book follows Elyse a teen who has moved from Tobago to Oregon because of an accident that robbed her of her voice. Since Elyse can not physically make sound with her vocal chords because it will end up harming her voice even more she ends up writing her thoughts down on paper, or on walls, or other peoples hands. However, the words she pens with her sharpie are deeply poetic. I loved this about her because it was like every time she had something to say it was always articulated in such beautiful poetry. Elyse meets Christian Kane, her landlord’s son, and the two end up fixing up the Kane’s boat in order to win a contest that will determine the fate of the town.

My review on this book is 4 stars. Whole heartedly. It didn’t feel like YA too me more of a new adult novel. And that’s probably because the characters in this book are older, well they acted older I’m not sure how old Elyse and her friends where. This book was rich in culture specifically Tobago culture, although the author acknowledged that she learned a lot of that history and culture from close friends she also realizes that some things could be incorrect. I personally do not know much about Tobago so every time Elise talked about her life in Tobago I was intrigued and I loved learning about it.

Beside the culture, this novel also tackled a topic I hadn’t expected which was confiding to gender norms. Sebastian Kane, is Christian’s younger brother who in the novel, is around 8 years old, and he loves mermaids. He loves mermaids so much that he wants to dress like one and march in the annual mermaid parade the town hosts. The only problem is they won’t allow him to do it because he’s a boy. I was so frustrated at this point because Sebastian is a kid and kids should be allowed to express themselves however they want. This scene really resonated with me on a personal level because I have people in my family who make jokes about not wanting their sons to paint their nails since that is seen as something feminine. But hello did you just snooze your way through the rock and roll era (especially glam rock)? And it’s not as if actors, male actors included, aren’t getting their makeup done on set. Anyways it’s a pretty ridiculous thing to get all butt hurt about and I’m glad Elyse and friends definitely were mad about it. But it something that still happens today so I can see why the author chose to include this scene.

Anyways this book was great, and I would definitely recommend it to people looking for a diverse read, for people looking for a story set in coastal Oregon, and those looking for a nice summer read. I highly encourage you to add it to your next summer read.