A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson

This book reimagines the lives of Dracula’s brides, and tells the story from their perspective. Reminiscent of a love letter from the past, the language and imagery is dark and hauntingly beautiful.

Part 1 is eerily relevant reading during this pandemic. “Plaugetime is different. It stretches and looms.” When she talks about the ways the plague affected their community, I was reminded of the current Coronacirus epidemic and I felt more connected to history. “The world we had all known, it seemed, was drawing to a close.” Pandemics are nothing new: humans have been surviving deadly epidemics for centuries. And we always manage to come together to fight the problem as one collective group, overcome the hardships we face, and ultimately survive.

“Those years are a dark smear across my memory, everything feels blurry and hollow. Plague drains not only victims, but while cities of life. It freezes trade, decays parishes, forbids lovemaking, turns childbearing into a dance with death. Most of all, it steals time.”

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Cazadora by Romina Garber

The Cazadora cover, featuring a girl, Manu, being split in two by her inner wolf. Manu's hair grows into wild foliage, all set against a bloodred background.

If you enjoy magical realism, you will love Romina Garber’s newest book in the Wolves of No World series. Netgalley gifted me a free e-ARC of the sequel, Cazadora, and I was so excited to jump in and finish the series! In the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues to weave Argentine folklore and real-world issues into a haunting, fantastical, and romantic story that will reunite readers with Manu and her friends as they continue to fight for a better future.

“That’s why every new generation makes improvements.”

First of all, I love that this book was filled with Spanish aphorisms and phrases, and includes vocabulary in-context to help teach Spanish to non-speakers. As someone who is constantly trying to improve my Spanish, this is something I really appreciate seeing in new books. Garber does it well, allowing the reader to infer meaning from context clues without needing to use a translator. However, I can also really appreciate having the translation dictionary available if I do need it, conveniently built into my e-reader. It saves a lot of time not having to click out of the book, and as a visual learner I enjoy seeing side-by-side translations because it really helps me to understand spelling and pronunciation.

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Aridane by Jennifer Saint

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I am a huge fan of Greek myth retellings so I was really excited to get the chance to read this story. I have seen it around bookstagram and the first thing that drew me to it was the beautiful cover art, but what kept me hooked was the story. Jennifer Saint weaves a wonderful tale full of of heroes and monsters, and brings a new twist to a classic myth. If you thought you knew the whole story, think again. Beautifully written and utterly captivating, Jennifer Saint builds a magical world for the sisters Ariadne and Phaedra to grow and discover themselves.

“To me, running through the maze of my home, it looked like a butterfly. And it was a butterfly I would imagine as I emerged from the dim cocoon of the palace interior to the glorious expanse of the sun-drenched courtyard.”

Retellings of the Greek myths and legends are really popular right now, and Ariadne is a great read for fans of Madeline Miller and Scarlett St. Claire. Most modern myths have many versions and variations, and will pull from various sources like Ovid, Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles. As a lover of Greek mythology, I was interested to see which myths Jennifer Saint would include in the world she created for Ariadne. I was excited to find the author took inspiration from various sources and included many gods and goddesses into the story, all while giving them a modern twist.

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A Lobizona Reading List

I love when books name-drop other books. Not only is it a great way to introduce readers to classics, but it instantly forges connections between the works, and it is like the authors are having a conversation with each other. By mentioning another work, you  instantly draw similar themes to mind, and in that way one author responds to another’s ideas. 

lobizonaThis book did an amazing job with this. Romina Garber used Lobizona as a platform for introducing young readers to Latin classics, and I will be looking forward to more book recommendations in the next installment of the series, Cazadora, which is set to be released in August.

“Falling hopelessly into the world of a story was always my favorite feeling.”

Manu’s character is very well-read. Her homeschooling allowed her plenty of time and enough freedom to read through both a traditional course list of white-washed classics, as well as Perla’s essential Latinx recommendations (with room to spare for Harry Potter!). For a teen, that is pretty diverse.

As I was reading, I thought it would be so fun to join a book club with Manu! So I put together a list of all of Manuela’s favorites. Keep reading to find out what Manu is reading — but be careful, because they are all still banned in Lunaris!

cienanosOne Hundred Years of Solitude

“I’ve been trying to read Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece as slowly as possible so I can relish the writing, but it’s so good that I’m already two-thirds of the way through.”

First of all, this specific quote is relatable AF. I can’t even count how many times I have had this experience while reading! And I love that I can connect with Manu’s character over our love of books.

Second, I love that this book is referenced so many times. The hidden town of Macondo is a great parallel for the secret world of Lunaris. For years the town is solitary and unconnected to the outside world, similar to Manu’s sheltered upbringing. Inevitably, Macondo becomes exposed to the outside world, again like Manu. Eventually, Manu and Lunaris’ secrets are revealed, and I won’t spoil the endings, but I can see some foreshadowing happening here!

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