The Friday 56: Bruja Born

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“My breath catches at the sight of the scars, red like a nest of snakes settled on his chest. I hold my hand over his heart. I release a pulse of magic. His heartbeat reacts to it, like he recognizes me.

I enjoyed Zoraida Córdova’s Bruja Born, the sequel to Labyrinth Lost, even more than the first novel and feel like I’ve gotten a better grasp on the characters thanks to this book. If you like magic and sister relationships, this is the series to pick up. Read my review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “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…”

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ARC Review: Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

Title: Bruja Born
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas, #2
Pages: 352
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 5th 2018
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review.**

      “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…”

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In Bruja Born, Zoraida Córdova reintroduces readers to the Mortiz sisters and her world of witches. When Alex Mortiz cast a spell to take away her power, she inadvertently sent her entire family to Los Lagos, a dangerous in-between realm. While Alex was able to save her family, she could never foresee just how much her world would change. In Bruja Born, Alex’s older sister Lula takes center stage. While Alex is learning to accept who she is as an encantrix, an all-powerful bruja, Lula is trying to find her way back to who she was before Los Lagos. When Maks, Lula’s boyfriend and the only person who makes her feel normal, is taken from her, Lula does everything she can to bring him back. Unfortunately for Lula, in her quest to save Maks, her actions will disrupt the very balance of life and death, and in the end, Lula will have to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to right her wrongs.

As much as I enjoyed Alex in Labyrinth Lost, I actually think I relate more to Lula. Before I had finished the first chapter, I was fully invested in Lula’s story. There is something incredibly fragile about her, but the strength and determination underneath is never sacrificed for this fragility. Lula was a character flawed from the very beginning. She makes rash decisions because she is a character driven by emotion. Though her journey has her meeting the Lady de la Muerta, the goddess of death, and facing off against zombie-like creatures, ultimately Lula’s story is internal. I don’t want to give too much away but there is one moment at the end where it felt that Lula had finally taken back control of her life and she was able to see how strong and valuable she was. It made me want to cheer out loud. Watching Lula struggle between being the girl she used to be and the one who emerged from Los Lagos is heartbreaking, but in the end, her story manages to be incredibly hopeful.

I want to touch on how much I enjoy the relationship between the Mortiz sisters. At the beginning of the novel, Lula harbors a lot of resentment toward Alex and Alex, who recognizes that Lula has changed, blames herself. Though tension and anger are always present, underneath it all is love. Alex and their younger sister Rose have done their best to take care of their older sister. While the Mortiz household has be disrupted by the return of their missing father, these three have always had each other. In the end, these sisters would do anything for each other and it’s this relationship that is at the heart of this series. I feel like we get to see this even more in this sequel and after getting to know Rose better, I am really looking forward to her novel.

In Bruja Born, the dead live and the living get their hearts carved out, both metaphorically and literally. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the Mortiz sisters and following them on their witchy journey, you’re missing out.

4/5

★★★★

ARC Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas, #1
Pages: 336
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: September 6th 2016
**I received a copy of this ARC through a giveaway hosted by Armchair BEA, which does not influence my review** 

      “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…

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova is an imaginative witch novel with family ties at its heart. Alejandra “Alex” Mortiz was born into a family of witches, known as brujas and brujos. From dream walking to healing, every member of her family is full of talent. As Alex’s Deathday approaches, a coming of age ceremony, she’d like to convince herself that there is no magic in her. But Alex is special in a way that she never expected and doesn’t want. Despite knowing there may be consequences, she makes a decision to undo the growing power burning inside her. Then the unthinkable happens and Alex must learn to embrace who she is if she has any chance of rescuing her family from the limbo-like world of Los Lagos.

Unlike the other members of her family, Alex doesn’t view magic as an essential part of who she is. Haunted by an horrific experience, Alex has only viewed magic through the lenses of a very scared girl. She scared of her family’s legacy, one not just of magic but of death. While her sisters embrace their gifts, Alex is full of apprehension because all she sees is the consequences of magic. In this world, all magic comes with a price, even the simple act of healing. In her desperation to rid herself of her family gift, Alex is reckless, despite being warned by the strange brujo boy Nova. But Alex is also brave and knowing her own life could be forfeit, she dives headfirst into a land brimming with dangerous creatures and a power hungry entity determined to suck the land dry.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Alex and her family. She doesn’t always get along with her sisters and after suffering a loss, her mother has never been the same. As a family of witches, Alex’s extended family also plays a key role in her life. I do wish more time had been spent on these relationships, but most of the story focuses on Alex’s journey through Los Lagos. Alex isn’t alone on her quest, with two companions at her side, and while there is potential for a romantic relationship, it never overshadows her ultimate goal of saving her family. I do think these relationships could have been flushed out more. Most of the time, I felt I was being told how these relationships had developed rather than being shown.

Labyrinth Lost has a magical system unique to Alex’s Latin American culture and the author provides plenty of detail to really bring this world to life. There are a couple of loose storylines introduced that I’m sure will be explored in later installments as this first shows a lot of potential.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

4th Annual ARC August: Week One Update

arcaugust2016

The 4th Annual ARC August Challenge, hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat, has been underway for the last week. Every week there will be an update on my progress for this challenge (unless I fail to pick up any ARCs), which encourages bloggers to pick up all the ARCs that have been piling up. My goal for this month is three ARCs with the possibility of getting to six. This first week I’m off to a great start, having read two ARCs. Yay me! Here are a few thoughts I had on these books. Full reviews will be posted closer to the books’ release dates.

ARC August Read #1:

Title: The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: September 13, 2016

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Lauren DeStefano’s newest middle grade read The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart is full of charm, following two orphans as they encounter a spirit that possesses one of them. I really enjoyed the friendship between the two leads, Marybeth and Lionel. They accept each other for who they are, without expectations and without wanting to change the other. I still think that DeStefano’s first MG book A Curious Tale of the In-Between outshines this one, but Peculiar Night was still very enjoyable. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

ARC August Read #2:

Title: Labyrinth Lost

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

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I had very high expectations for Zoraida Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost and even though it didn’t meet all my expectations (I have absurd expectations when it comes to witch books, don’t ask me why), I still liked it. Witches, demonic creatures, and a perilous journey make this an exciting read to pick up. I loved how important the Latin American culture played in this one and am looking forward to picking up more books by this author. Book cover is linked to Goodreads.

Are you participating in ARC August? What’s the last ARC you read and loved? Let me know and leave a link to your own ARC August week one update post in the comments and I’ll be sure to visit.