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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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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Lost Horizon by James Hilton: The Origins of Shangri-La

40 Best Lost horizon images | Lost horizon, Lost, Ronald colman

It was 2013 and I was browsing old paperbacks in a local bookshop that sadly no longer exists. I remember the shop well, it was one of those cozy narrow stores that was crammed full of leaning stacks and overflowing shelves. I liked it because they had low prices on classics, and bought used books for store credit. So I shopped there a lot, always looking to add something to my collection that I didn’t already have. I had never seen or heard of this book before, but when I saw it and had to have it.

I honestly couldn’t place what drew me to Lost Horizon. Perhaps the stunning vintage paperback art style and the striking sprayed pages? Maybe it was the smell of old book that greeted me every time I flipped a page? Or simply that the short tale captured my imagination and took me on an adventure. At the time I was really into hiking and maybe I was drawn to the mountainous cover art, or maybe my wandering soul craved the isolated utopia I found within the book. I guess it was all of it, the experience as a whole.

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Lost Horizon is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery located high in the mountains of Tibet. Though I had heard of Shangri-La before, I never really thought about what it symbolized or where it came from. Until I found Lost Horizion.

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Quotes from Things Fall Apart

61spl57YceLThis story follows the rise and the fall of a respected Nigerian Igbo leader as he challenges European colonialism and modernization. We begin to see a changing culture that starts questioning traditions, which threatens the old customs. As new beliefs and institutions are introduced to the community, the Igbo culture collapses and, for our hero, things fall apart’. tfaachebeIt is a classic tragedy and is regarded as a milestone in African literature. This copy has been with me since high school english, but I didn’t really understand the implications until I had to re-read it for African Lit. There is a lot to unpack in this book but it is incredibly influential and definitely worth reading, at least once.

“Having spoken plainly so far, Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs. Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” ―Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

This quote alludes to the highly sophisticated art of rhetoric practiced by the Igbo by comparing food and words. The metaphor of words as food is appropriate, given the agricultural nature of Igbo society. Food is respected in Igbo culture and is regarded as the sustenance of life. They award the same value that they place on food to words, the sustenance of interaction and hence community. In the way that palm oil must be consumed, so must words and conversations. Continue reading

Game Of Thrones

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For years I have been out-of-the-loop. I never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, nor picked up even one single copy of the books. I didn’t understand the obsession with The Known World of Westeros, didn’t join in the gossip, and definitely didn’t ‘get’ the memes. I was an outsider. I know, I am late to the party. But better late than never, right?

Before Christmas, a friend brought it up, and (again) recommended I watch the series. Later that week, I was gifted the password to the family HBO account. And thus my obsession began. I binged the series in three or four days, and went back again to re-watch everything more carefully. I loved the costumes, the mythology and house history, and of course, the plot twists. And once I was sucked in, I couldn’t pull away. Next, I had to read the books. And once I started reading them, I could not put them down! I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on. Continue reading

Pride & Prejudice: A Film Guide

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is the best romance writer of all time. Don’t @ me.

Image result for pride and prejudice jane austen first editionPride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s now classic romance novel, has been beloved by readers for the last 200 years. The story charts the emotional development of Elizabeth Bennet, who learns the error of making hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. The comedy of the writing lies in the depiction of manners, education, marriage, and Image result for jane austenmoney during the British Regency period.

“Till this moment I never knew myself.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice is one of the most loved and widely adapted of Austen’s works. Since it was first published in 1813, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has sold over 20 million copies, and is now one of the most recognizable names in British literature. Though it was written over 200 years ago, it remains relevant. Not only is it a beautifully written love story with a happy ending, but it contains timeless insights about human nature that reminds readers that first impressions can often be wrong. Continue reading

The Handmaid’s Tale: Comparing The Novel To The Series

Image result for the handmaids tale book huluI read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school, and I didn’t ‘get’ it, TBH. I understood it, of course, but it didn’t resonate with me in the way my teacher had hoped it would. It wasn’t until watching the new Hulu adaptation that I was really interested in the story. But I couldn’t understand why my memories of the book were so far from what the show was saying, so I dug out my old copy, still covered in post-its and margin scribbles, and forced myself to give it a second chance. Image result for the handmaids tale hulu

With my first reading, for whatever reason, I had a very obscure picture of the world Atwood was writing about. I wasn’t able to imagine what it would be like. But, after watching the series, I was able to really picture the world of Gilead, and it made me want to understand it better. So I decided to revisit the book, and I re-read it while watching the show. It completely changed my opinion of the novel, and now I love a book that I once hated.

Although I loved both the book and the series, I can’t ignore their differences. Though both are important and relevant, they have different missions and different lessons. The ideal would be for audiences to read and watch both; they inform each other, each provides what the other lacks.  Continue reading

The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman

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Alice Hoffman returns, 22 years later, to tell the first part of the story. The Rules Of Magic follows Franny, Jet, and Vincent Owens as they uncover the mystery of their witchy heritage, and try to break the curse that haunts their fate. This prequel to the 1995 best-seller Practical Magic is an essential prelude to the first book, providing a fundamental understanding of the family and the secrets that follow them.

In The Rules Of Magic, we are introduced to Maria Owens, the Salem witch Hoffman uses to root the family tree in witchcraft and magik. The plot opens with Franny, Jet, and their younger brother Vincent, and explains to readers why they are the way that they are. Witch-y.

“What mattered was the blood that ran through him, the same blood that flowed through Maria Owens.” (53).

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Skin, Roald Dahl

Image result for skin roald dahlRoald Dahl is most beloved and best known for his best-selling children’s works: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George’s Marvelous Medicine.

I did some research on his birthday (September 13) and decided to order Skin, because I had never heard of it before. It is perfect for the Halloween season, and I am really pleased with its realism. His children’s stories are, of course, a little magical, but his tales for adults are creepy in the I-Could-Actually-Imagine-This-Happening-And-Its-Super-Creepy-kind-of-way. Continue reading