Cover Image: Lobizona


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Member Reviews

This book was really fun! I'm assuming we were supposed to know the truth about Manu's magic the whole time (hence the title), but the dramatic irony of knowing something she doesn't really worked for me. The cisheteronormativity of the magical community broke my heart, as did the repeated use of HP references (the curse of the length of time publishing takes - I'm sure the author wouldn't have wanted to lean on HP so hard if it were written today). I'm interested to read the sequel and see where everything goes.

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"Now go forth and shatter every convention."

If one is looking for a replacement for the creation of she-who-must-be-named, this one is definitely a good choice!

It was so refreshing to read about a new and unique magical universe. It was heartwarming and wonderful, yet touched on subjects like immigration which makes you think about what's going on in our own world.

Manu's journey to self-discovery was inspirational, she's such a great character.

Garber's writing is very enjoyable, it flows, and is full of so many lines to quote. Such as "Man-made borders shouldn't matter more than people." How true is that?

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Lobizona was a mixed bag for me, however, it has given me a lot to think about and for that, I am grateful.

Manuela Azul, our protagonist, is an undocumented immigrant, living in Miami with her mother and a surrogate grandmother. She has learned to be hidden in plain sight because of that, but also for another reason, her odd eyes; eyes like no other. When her grandmother has an accident that forces Manu to call for help, a series of events begins that will change Manu's life forever.

Manu's mother gets arrested by ICE, leaving Manu to fend for herself. On her own for the first time, she sets out to discover the truth about herself and her past. She knows her father's name and that he was from a crime family. A family that her mother was on the run from, or at least that is what she has been told, but is that the truth?

Manu ends up stumbling upon an entire magical world that she is a part of. The mystery of her eyes is finally revealed to her. She is the first known Lobizona, a female werewolf. There are brujas and lobizons galore. A magical school. Magical sports that Manu happens to excel at and that is where the story started to lose me.

The beginning of this was strong for me. The opening scenes were quite intense. Garber did an incredible job of portraying the stress and fear experienced by undocumented peoples within the United States. It was visceral reading about the way Manu and her family had to adjust so much about their lives in order to remain safe; really well done. I appreciate the topics covered within this story. They're so important and need to be discussed. Things like gender, identity, culture, immigration and sexism. Garber explored these elements in great detail within the story and those aspects were my favorite parts of the book.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel compelled or attached to the YA Fantasy storyline. It's funny because it contains some of my favorite tropes, magical school setting and a competition element. I think honestly, I did myself a disservice by reading this pretty much concurrently with the Akata Witch duology. I knew it too, I could tell by about 50-pages into this one.

They are so similar. We follow teenage female protagonists, who due to a specific physical abnormality stand apart from their peers, discover they are part of a magical world based on the lore and legend of their particular culture, begin training in a magic school setting, but are a little behind their magical peers since they discover their powers at an older age, both excel at a sport that girls aren't traditionally expected to excel at; the list goes on an on.

For me personally, I love the Akata Witch books so much and in comparison, this one just didn't shine as bright.
Perhaps that is unfair of me to say, however, I do rate books based upon my experience reading them and while this is a good story, the pacing issues caused it to fall short of the, really good, category for me.

With all of this being said, again, I appreciate the content and important topics that Garber tackles within these pages. This is a necessary story and I'm extremely glad it exists and is out there in the world for people read. So many people love this story and have written glowing reviews. I agree it is a good book and feel like everyone should give it a shot!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and will, in fact, read the next book upon its release!

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So good! Romina Garber has crafted a magical new world that's able to balance the mystery and beauty of the fantastical and supernatural, while also breaking open the complex emotions and traumas that come from being an "illegal" human being, whether through immigration or birth right as in Manu's case. Manu is a force to be reckoned with, and Garber writes her as a strong character that not only can kick ass, but also can deal with the many issues that surround her nature and her life. Some of the best parts of the story are when Garber delves into Manu trying to learn to deal with her emotions centered around being "illegal", and how her self-image grows throughout the story. Her fierce love and protective spirit are also so beautiful - if you can't tell, I just really loved Manu. The side characters are also well developed and fun, and the romance is sweet and not too cheesy. I loved this take on werewolves and witches - it's nice to see a story that isn't centered around the usual white man who's bitten and turns on the full moon, or a white witch that has her coven based in Salem, MA, or a creepy mansion in England, etc., etc. Garber's book is a stand-out in the much hyped YA paranormal scene, not only for her fantastic magical system, but also for how she explores immigration issues within our modern world.

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This book caught my eye as it has a fantastic cover! This was a highly enjoyable read and I'm glad I picked it up!

I was provided an advanced digital copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley for review purposes, all opinions are my own.

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I am so excited about the number of books coming out as of late which are timely and have themes that tie into some of the difficulties people are facing in every day life. Romina Garber tells Manu's story really well, from the every day challenges she faces in our world to the similar problems she faces in another more magical world. Going into this book knowing very little is better in my opinion as things will have more impact that way.

I really appreciated how Garber addressed and explored different issues such as immigration and gender roles while also including so much culture and folklore in the tapestry of the story. I felt the flow of the writing was paced well, though there were some spots that slowed down, it still kept me invested in the story.

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CWs: ICE raids, anti-immigration sentiments, homophobia, sexism, and gender essentialism.

Lobizona takes elements that are common in the fantasy genre like an alternate dimension, werewolves, witches, a magical school and a magical sport, and it infuses them with Argentinian folklore and culture, which makes this book unique and captivating.

Magical World and Argentinian Culture

In this book, there’s the regular world, a magical dimension and also in-between spaces where Lobizones (werewolves) and witches live, and the history of the creation of these magical beings and this in-between spaces, as well as the explanation of why they are kept hidden from humans in the regular world, is incredibly well thought out and seamlessly incorporates Argentinian myths. Moreover, it’s amazing how many little details in this book come from Argentinian culture. Romina Garber included mate, tango, conversations about soccer and Leonel Messi, and even a whole magical sport that’s inspired by soccer.

Lovable Characters and Captivating Relationships

The protagonist of Lobizona is Manu, an Argentinian girl who has a very isolated life because she is an undocumented immigrant and also because she has very distinctive eyes that mark her as different. Romina Garber manages to transmit Manu’s loneliness, anger, and frustration at her situation so perfectly, which makes it easy to connect with her and root for her as she goes on this journey to find out who she is, where she comes from, and where she belongs.

The friends that Manu makes along the way area a big part of her journey. Tiago, Cata, and Saysa are great characters, they all have their own obstacles that they need to overcome and things that they need to work on, which makes them very engaging. I loved the friendship between the three girls, it has a rocky start but seeing them grow closer and learn to care for each other warmed my heart. The main romance in this book is cute, Manu and Tiago are growing and learning as individuals and I think that’s going to make their romance even better in the next book. Also, there’s a sapphic romance in this and honestly, I had to stop reading and take five minutes to freak out about it, I hope we get to see more of it in the sequel.

Important conversations

Lobizona does a great job of addressing immigration and the current situation that a lot of immigrants are facing right now in the States. This book portraits the constant fear that immigrants live in, the limitations that they have to endure, and the cruelty that they suffer at the hands of organizations like ICE.

This book also includes discussions about sexism and gender essentialism within this magical world and even the Argentinian society. According to the myth, all women are witches and all men are Lobizones, and this is not the only thing determined by gender in this world, women are expected to have children so their species doesn’t disappear and they have certain restrictions place on them like the fact that they can’t play the magical sport that exists in this world. Of course, the fact that Manu is a Lobizona renews the discussion about the unfairness of these gender roles that some people were trying to have even before Manu showed up. By addressing how limited this view of the world is, the book also starts conversations about how transphobic and queerphobic the system in this magical world is and, beyond that, how transphobic and queerphobic Latinx cultures are too.

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Lobizona offers absolutely incredible blend between contemporary fiction and magical realism. It uses mythological imagery to tell a very important story that's clearly born out of the times we live in. I love the importance put on the power of friendship here, and how said friendship is allowed to bloom.

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While the beginning was a little slow, I definitely got into it and am looking forward to book 2. Not knowing anything about Argentinian lore, I was very intrigued by the world the author created and the werewolf mythology. Great real life issues such as immigration mixed in with fantasy. Looking forward to seeing where this story goes in the next book.

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The new and better Harry Potter for a new generation! Manuela and her mother are undocumented immigrants from Argentina living in Florida. For her whole life, Manu has been in hiding because of the stars in her eyes that would mark her immediately as unusual to any who look. When ICE captures Manu's mother in a raid, Manu escapes to a secret world -- a secret magic school in the Everglades where everyone has eyes like hers, girls are bruja (witches), and boys are lobizon (werewolves). As she joins the students in the school and learns more about the underground culture of her people, secrets about Manu's past come to light in exciting and dangerous ways. This book is so readable, exciting, relevant to the modern world without being didactic, and has an awesome magic world that I cannot wait to read more about. Add to that a feminist lens of questioning traditional gender roles, queer characters, and a latinx ownvoices author, this book is a star!

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My Thoughts
While the concept is a familiar one (the protagonist finding a whole new world with a magical school they belong in finally, and all the excitement therein), Garber’s use of this beautiful story to highlight many important issues makes this impactful and unique.

Her story telling is beautiful and lyrical and richly imaginative! She crafts a beautiful and intricate magical world, and blends it seamlessly with the real world; the story weaves back and forth between these as we turn the pages eagerly to find out what happens next.

What I Loved


Garber combines many different elements (magic, fantasy, Argentine folklore, myths and legends, as well as real world issues) into a smart, dramatic, and engaging tale that you won’t want to put down once you start reading it.

Who would not love a tree of books that is a living library? Or an exciting game of magical football? And then that cool magical school itself!

And all this is made real with how the book is unapologetic about showing us harsh realities; especially those faced by undocumented immigrants: the living in fear and hiding, of trying to be invisible when all you want to do is belong and fit in, how deportation and separation impact lives, and more.

Garber also addresses gender discrimination, misogyny, and homophobia among other issues; and she does so in a way that readers can relate. On the lighter side of reality, I could relate to “subtitling in Spanish,” as Manu thinks of it while in conversation with family.

I loved all the characters: especially Manu(of course), Tiago, Sasya, Cata, Pablo, Diego, and Perla (Manu’s adoptive grandmother). By the way, I also loved Flora, that wonderful tree in this magical world!

I loved the diversity and representation in this book. And between all the characters, they are real and fantastical, flawed and kind of perfect, and totally relatable! I enjoyed watching each one of them develop through the story, as they go on a journey of self-discovery (again Manu’s especially, well, of course), discover friendships and love, and band together to work towards a better life.

Reading this is like those theme park rides that take you from the utterly calm and slow, to the speed and thrill of the exciting twists and drops; in the end, it all rounds to just what the reader enjoys! New discoveries, twists and turns, keep delighting the reader at the right intervals to keep us turning the pages. And when we reach the end, we feel sad that the book is done, but also excited because the stage is solidly set for the next book in this series.

It was truly refreshing to see that the book includes menstrual cycles as an important part of the story, and as something natural and normal; this is not often seen in YA (or for that matter, most) literature. And of course, sweet first loves and strong lasting friendships as well as heart-warming family bonds.

I learned about Argentine culture and life (and learning about other cultures is simply wonderful); Argentine folklore, myths and fables which this fed my love for folklore; and many trivia facts as well (like the huge number of bookshops in Argentina)

Those bookish references (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Borges, Harry Potter, Austen, and a few more) are bound to make any book lover (like me) happy! It is like discovering those cool bonuses in an already cool anything!

Of course, the cover as well. Isn’t is simply gorgeously stunning?!!

And while I have said it before, the world building is simply out-of-the-world!

While I normally include quotes I marked up, the writing is so rich, lyrical, and feel-good that I ended marking up way too many quotes and picking just a few from those proved to be difficult.

So here are a few from Goodreads (they were among the ones that I loved anyway):

“Sometimes reality strays so far from what’s rational that we can only explain it through fantasy.”

“Why settle for being a son of the system, when you can mother a movement?”

“You’re saying if no one’s told my story before … I get to tell it the way I want?”

What Could Have Made it Better
Of course, you can see I loved it!! On the other hand, I also know I would loved to see some more of the focus on Manu’s family; and there was one (very brief) scene of physical assault that I felt should have been addressed some more. But I also know there is going to be a next book in this series, so hoping that all that I would have loved to be addressed more or those characters that I want to learn more about, will happen then!

Trigger Warnings
Deportation of immigrants, ICE, racial and gender bias(challenged), homophobia(challenged), menstruation

In Summary
So yes, Lobizona has it all!! Magical realism (of course) and that is not just it; there is also family, friendships and new loves, belonging and “othering,” diversity and representation, reality and fantasy, truly magnificent world building and beautifully rich word building, and so much more to love. So what are you waiting for? Read it now!!

Note: I know this was a longer than usual review, but I had to say it all

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC of the book; and thanks again to Wednesday Books for inviting me on this blog tour for Lobizona.

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This was my second re-read and I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. I went with a 4.5 star on the first read, but this is more of a solid 4 star read. The writing in this was just so beautiful. The characters were amazing and the world-building so interesting.

This is marketed as a YA fantasy but it's almost like a urban fantasy blend. There is the real world of Argentina and Miami, but then you get the magical realm with the Citadel and the Lunaris. You get your witches and werewolves, blended with humans. Action, humor and romance throughout.

I enjoyed Manu and her sassiness. She was never able to live her life because she didn't know about her father or heritage. Seeing her grow from the beginning to the end was so satisfying. I loved watching her mature in her magic and herself.

Tiago was amazing -- I adored him!! The romance was just so darn cute! Cata and Say were my favs along with Pablo. They were the trinity of friends that every girl needs. Carlos was absolutely annoying to a T. The whole truth behind Fierro and who he was -- I wasn't prepared for that plot twist! Jazmin was a selfish woman.

Overall, I enjoyed the read and definitely can't wait for the sequel to see what happens next for the only living Lobizona!

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Unfortunately, I did not get to finish the book before it was archived. :(
However, the little I did read was intriguing.

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I’m torn because I really loved this book and I’m really excited for the sequel. It’s relevant to today but It lagged just a bit so I docked it half a star.
Manu is an illegal immigrant who lives with her mom and 95 Perla. Manu is trapped inside because she has different color and shapes eyes. If she was discovered her mother and her could be deported or could be in danger. She lives her life thru books and dreams. When ICE takes her mom, she runs off and ends up in the place from her dreams. This book Tackles immigration, sexism, and individuality. It’s steeped in folklore and fantasy and magical realism. It comes together beautifully. It’s very vivid and excited. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.

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Lobizona gave me strong Shadowhunters vibes, at least at the beginning, when it felt more like an urban fantasy novel, but loved it when it went full fantasy. Although parts of it seemed too far-fetched, and some emotional twists didn't really land with me, I enjoyed the story, particularly the subplots with the main character's new friends and her mom. It had refreshing worldbuilding in a genre where it seems everything's been done before and the mix of Argentinian culture and magic was very well done!

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Rep: Latinx, LGBTQIA+, immigrant

TW: deportation

The Pros: What worked for me

This novel was more urban fantasy, with its mix of magical realism and Argentinian folklore. The author did a great job blending the two, and I learned so much about a culture I knew nothing about!
This novel normalized the menstrual cycle. I’ve honestly never seen this before and I was SO HAPPY that the author mentioned it both casually and as an important story element. As a society, we need to normalize this hormonal process, not make it something taboo.
The writing style was great in that it had good flow, but also included many Spanish phrases. It made me feel more in tune with the cultural setting, and it was also fun to try and figure out what was being sad (yay for context clues)!
There is a huge emphasis on what it means to be an illegal immigrant and the struggles of gaining citizenship. The fear of being deported, the desperation for a better life… my heart went out to Manu and her family. I may not have been an undocumented immigrant, but I can relate to that struggle to belong. I think the author brought attention to a very important issue and humanized it so readers can empathize with this situation.
The author depicts the characters debating the importance of a non-binary system, and I loved this. It is so important as we become more aware of gender fluidity and the author handles this wonderfully.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

I’m not a fan of insta-love, and that is definitely present in this novel. I wish the romance had been more nuanced.
Certain plot points were just too convenient for my liking. It required a suspension of disbelief from the reader.
The ending was a bit of a cliche and expected; I’m still curious about where the rest of the story will go but I found it predictable.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fast pace and important themes of this novel. The plot and worldbuilding were unique and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

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Romina Garber introduces us to a dark and dangerous world of werewolves, witches, and romance based around Argentine folklore in this vibrant fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh and Rick Riordan.

Over the past five years there’s been an increasing number of YA fantasy titles that look outside of Europe for inspiration, such as Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn, Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand, and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. As a fan of YA fantasy, these books have provided an eye-opening look into folklore and traditional cultures from around the world, from aspects recognisable from my own cultural background, to gods and creatures that I’d never before encountered. Lobizona provides a glimpse into the world of Argentine folklore, featuring bruja (witches), lobizon (werewolves), and more.

From the first few chapters, I imagined that this book would unfold in a very different way than it eventually does. The opening reads as a dark urban fantasy with shadowy figures around every corner, the ever-present threat of ICE hanging over the characters, and our protagonist Manu suffering mysterious and painful symptoms every full moon, to the extent where she has to be sedated for days on end. From the first page the reader is immediately thrown into the midst of Manu’s life, with a vivid evocation of the sticky heat of their Miami apartment, the easy switching between English and Spanish, and the smell of her mother’s cooking. I loved the character of Perla, Manu’s sharply intelligent surrogate grandmother, and felt truly invested in their relationship. With a throwaway reference to One Hundred Years of Solitude there’s also an early insight into an important facet of Manu’s character; she’s a reader. I liked how often Manu drew comparisons between her life and books she had read, although it sometimes sounded a little clunky, as this is something that I think all passionate readers can’t help but do.

However, the book soon takes a turn into a slightly different fantasy genre, as Manu is forced to flee from home and soon ends up at school for people like her; people who belong to the world of magic. I love stories set at magical schools, so it didn’t impede my enjoyment of the book, but it was a slightly disorienting shift in tone from dark urban fantasy into something lighter and perhaps more predictable. Funnily enough, Manu makes a lot of Harry Potter references. I kind of get it though; if I ended up at magic school I would also end up thinking about my main reference point, which would be quiddich and wizarding robes.

It’s always difficult when worldbuilding to get the necessary information across to the readers in a natural and entertaining way, so it doesn’t feel like a hurried info-dump, but Garber succeeds in introducing us to this new world Manu finds herself in relatively painlessly. As the other characters don’t know that she is a complete newcomer, they don’t explain everything to her in detail, instead, she (and the reader) are given crumbs to piece together based on their offhand references. I liked the essential role of nature in sustaining the little community of the school, and the description of a certain library that I wish existed in real life.

The magic system is interesting; essentially, girls and boys are forced into rigid roles based on their sex, both in their abilities as well as their roles in society. However, this is all thrown into disarray by the existence of Manu, who doesn’t fit neatly into the pre-existing roles. It serves as an extended metaphor interrogating society’s insistence on adhering to the binary, in terms of gender identity, sexuality, and expectations of how women and men should act. Sometimes I felt like this subtext rose to the surface too obviously, in the form of characters spelling out these points almost as if they were enacting a debate, but there is some interesting exploration later in the novel of the implications and pitfalls of this binary system and, with further nuance, what it means to break out of it.

For me, the highlight of the book is the characters. The main characters are generally well-drawn, and relationships, such as the friendship Manu forms with Catalina and Saysa, feel genuine and recognisable. Manu is a good protagonist; as well as the Harry Potter and Jane Austen references, she makes a point of being loyal to her friends, and she’s a tough survivor who learns how to rely on others as well as herself over the course of the book. The main romance in the book came across as slightly insta-love to me, and I didn’t care overmuch about it, but there was another surprising romantic subplot that I was happily surprised by and felt much more invested in. The plot is engaging, with twists that I didn’t see coming, though probably should have predicted. It did feel slightly meandering at times, with it being unclear exactly what the bigger end goal was, but I liked the world enough that it didn’t feel like an issue.

I would recommend Lobizona to fans of the genre looking for a new fantasy world to dive into featuring cool magic and engaging and complex characters.

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Okay. The world needs more werewolf books, especially female werewolf books. I loved everything about this one, the magic, the world, the story. This was fantastic.

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This book started out well but as it progressed it started to lose momentum and got bogged down in to many scenarios going on. Pretty much every kind of problem or life choice was thrown into this. Misogyny, sexuality, illegal immigration, etc. It felt like the author should just pick a couple of topics and concentrate on those instead of cramming every little thing into it.

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4.5 Stars

Lobizona is so good! It is both dramatic and poignant, seamlessly blending heavy topics with some serious entertainment. The lush world-building is exactly what I look for as a reader. When I reached the end I was so sad that I was going to have to wait until the next book to find out what happens to the characters next!

Highly recommend

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