This second instalment of the Brooklyn Brujas series was SO MUCH BETTER than the first! Where the first book felt too fast and missed opportunities, BRUJA BORN was WONDERFUL! I felt so much closer to this character, Lula, then I did to Alex. Where Alex was quick-tempered, Lula was thoughtful. She felt how things would affect not just herself, but her family, which was one of the things that I didn't like about Alex, but all three of the sisters seem to have grown in this book.
Lula, the oldest of the Mortiz sisters, has just been broken up with before boarding the bus to the district championship soccer game with her friends and teammates. On the way to the game, there is a terrible accident and everyone is killed except for Lula. In the hospital, she and her sisters stop death from coming for Macks, Lula's (ex) boyfriend and create a much bigger problem than 28 dead teenagers-they end up keeping them all from fully dying and creating an army of "casimuertos" or non-dead people who live off of human hearts and can't pass on. Lula has to figure out how to help these casimiertos move on from this world BEFORE they destroy all of New York, and free Lady de la Muerte-Lady Death-who is trapped between worlds.
The whole "having to find the Spear of Death" piece of the story honestly felt a bit unnecessary, but I see how it made the family and community have to come together to help Lula. The scenes leading up to finding the spear and returning it to La Muerte felt rushed, but great and anticipatory nonetheless.
Overall, the book had a very familiar feel as the movie Practical Magic, but with more culture and history embedded which I appreciated. Strong female lead characters, a great family theme, and plenty of magic gave this book five stars. My favorite thing about this book that the first didn't have was how there are other magical groups at play in New York that are both for regulatory purposes but also that help keep the non-magical people safe as well as some hinting as to where Lula and Alex' father was while he was "gone."
Zoraida Cordova outdid herself with this story; my only complaint is having to wait for the next one!
I loved I DISSENT! It was very well written and easy for young readers to understand. It beautifully illustrates the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her journey to becoming the first Jewish Woman to be a Supreme Court Justice. I DISSENT not only showed how nothing stopped Ruth from success but that along the way she learned that we don't always get what we want, and "...that sometimes life was like that" (Levy 11). Overall, it is a beautiful biography that many can learn from.
I have not read THE GOLDEN COMPASS novel, nor have I seen the movie, but for someone who has always wanted to understand the hype around the series, but hasn't had time to read it, this graphic novel was PERFECTION! The illustrations are gorgeous and make keeping track of characters much easier than having to remember all of the names. I had no trouble at all understanding and following Lyra's story. It begins at Jordan College where she is under the care of the "Master" and overhears Lord Asriel speaking about "dust" to the other scholars. Roger, her best friend, gets taken by the "Gobblers," who are the General Oblation Unit, who we later learn are trying to find a way to separate children from the daemons (outward extension of their soul) to use the energy and dust created from the separation to find a way to get in to the "other world." This was where I got confused and had to do some digging, but thankfully, as the book goes on, we learn more about dust and this other world that is referenced. When Roger is taken by the Gobblers, Lyra sets out to bring him home but meets Mrs. Coulter (who is actually her mother) who is charming and buys Lyra nice dresses, but Lyra thinks that she is hiding something and wants to take the alethiometer from her, so she runs away. Lyra meets a band of "Gyptians" who tell her about her origins and who her true parents are and why she is being hunted by the General Oblation Board, she also meets their astronaut, Lee Scoresby, and an armoured bear named Iorek Byrnison. With these people, she sets off to the North (the Arctic) to find all of the children who have been taken by the Gobblers as well as setting Lord Asriel (who she learns is her father) free from the armoured bears. Lyra's team is a great way of showing readers that people of all different backgrounds (and species-haha) can work together successfully.
While the story was a bit hard to follow at times and required A LOT of re-reading, I thought the graphic novel was amazing. The pages displaying the aurora borealis were absolutely stunning. When Lord Asriel explains what Dust is to Lyra (and the reader) it is easy to understand with a visual explanation that the graphic novel offers. Overall, I give it four stars for amazing illustrations and a great story.
I'm not entirely sure what to make of Spill Zone. It is about Addie, who rides into where a nuclear spill destroyed a town called "Po Town" (what used to be Poughkeepsie) and photographs what is left and growing in the Spill Zone. She sells her photos to support her little sister (who has a stuffed bear that seems to be possessed by something from the Spill Zone) because their parents were in Po Town when whatever happened happened. It is never really clear what exactly happened to the town. Addie gets a million dollar offer from one of the collectors who buy her art and takes it hoping that this will be the last time that she has to go in to the zone, but based on the drawings in this graphic novel, it seems that this may not be the last time she visits the Zone.
I really liked the drawings in this graphic novel as they help you to really see what and how this town was destroyed. It reminded me of a downplayed Resident Evil or Silent Hill-just as creepy, but with more conspiracy behind it. The government (or someone else) brings in a Korean boy-but the reader is never really told why other than to show that he has been touched by the nuclear radiation and wants to meet Addie, which makes there seem like there is much more going on then we are told. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which was annoying because there are still so many questions to be answered. Overall, I gave it 4 stars because it kept my attention and the drawings really save it from being lame.
I actually really enjoyed this book! I couldn’t put it down. Mega Princess is super cute and incredibly relatable despite being a princess. Mega Princess shows that a princess can be more than just frilly dresses and riding horses. This princess wants to be a detective and does so by finding her lost baby brother when he has been abducted. She demonstrates strength, good character, and poise in the faces of danger and adversity. She also will show students how to work with others in dire times that they don't normally get along with. She’s Fierce and fearless-just what girls need right now 💛
Meet Cute is a super cute anthology of YA authors writing short stories about the lead up to meeting someone. Actual Rating: 3.8/5 stars
Siege Etiquette by Katie Cotugno: 3 stars
The story of two people who haven't seen each other in a long time and end up trapped together in a bathroom when a house party is being raided. It reminded me of the movie "Can't Hardly Wait" from the 90s. This story was cute, nothing amazing. I would be interested if it became a full novel.
Print Shop by Nina LaCour: 4 stars
I immediately enjoyed the diversity in this one. The main character, Evie, starts working in a print shop where everything is made by an artist instead of computers and machines. An angry customer voices her unpleasant opinion of the shop on Twitter and begins a love interest. Interesting concept.
Hourglass by Ibi Zoboi: 2 stars
Honestly, I didn't care for Cherish's POV in this one. She came off as very whiny and "woe is me" because her best friend starts dating the guy who teased her for her size, thankfully she comes to term with who she is.
Click by Katharine McGee: 4 stars
I really liked the idea behind Click. Katharine McGee introduces a futuristic dating app where your entire social media presence and online footprint are analyzed and match you with another person. While the thought of this overwhelmed me, I really enjoyed the fast pace of the story and wit and banter between the characters. It also was a great peek into how love can be unexpected even when you're looking for it.
The Intern by Sara Shepard: 4.5 stars
SO CUTE! Clara interns for her dad's record label and has to show around one of the artists and unexpectedly falls for him-cheesy, I know, but so cute. The beauty is really in the details in this one.
Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo: 4.5 stars
Another WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS story revealing a transgender girl's fears and fight with a school board about which restroom she is allowed to use while a gay student who isn't out yet deals with her own issues. It was a little slow, but a great, quick, look into a world I'm not familiar with.
The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton: 4 stars
Very interesting concept. On a remote island, the people are born with a ring mark on their finger that reveals when they'll meet their soul mate. When two teens find a way to "hack the system" they see how their lives will play out and how they will live and fall in love with. Another interesting concept. I wouldn't read it as a whole novel, but it was a perfect short story.
Oomph by Emery Lord: 5 stars
Oomph was one of my favorites in this anthology! A super cute unexpected romance in an airport where mystery is in the air. Two girls meet in an airport pretending to be Marvel characters and hit it off. Loved it!
The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout: 4.75 stars
It might be the librarian in me, but I loved this story. It was a bit predictable, but worth it. Moss has to track down an overdue dictionary from the library that she works at and finds more than just a book. Sometimes books reveal people for us. ;)
The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies: 5 stars
Again, it might be that I was a math teacher in one of my past lives (before I became a librarian) but I loved this one. The main character writes her semester statistics project on the odds of her seeing a mystery boy from the subway again.
259 Million Miles by Kass Morgan: 3 stars
Meh. It felt more like the main character was running away from his problems rather than facing them head on, which *spoilers* he ends up doing. Blythe and Philip are two finalists for a mission to Mars and only one of them will be chosen. They have to spend 24 hours in an isolation chamber together to see how they will interact and work as a team-of course the predictability is obvious-but they make it through the test. A beautiful display of how sometimes we meet someone at the wrong time.
Something Real by Julie Murphy: 4 stars
Julie Murphy wrote a perfect show story on how meeting your celebrity crush can sometimes be a disappointment, but you can meet someone in the process that makes up for it.
Say Everything by Huntley Fitzpatrick: 0 stars
Just no. I didn't care at all for the POV, the main character was unmemorable and it was honestly just slow and boring.
The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon: 6 (out of 5) stars
When is it socially acceptable to dub Nicola as the queen of romance? I mean really, this short story was perfect and made up for the crappy one before it. Thomas goes to the Department of Dead Love to find out what happened that caused an end to his last relationship and ends up finding a way to heal his heart. So many good quotes come from this story. LOVED IT!
Overall, I really enjoyed this anthology. Each story brought something different and it will appeal to all sorts of readers.