Member Reviews

Loved this book! Manu is such a strong and relatable MC! Also loved how the author blended in Spanish phrases/more or less some Spanglish in there too. That plot twist of Gael being the notorious Fierro, who the Cazadores were so tirelessly looking for was just...kind of an epic reveal! The real world fears of living as an immigrant were well represented. As well as Manu's feelings of not fitting in regardless of the setting she was in. Ni de aquí, ni de allá as they say. And while I did feel that the last few pages of the ending felt a bit rushed, I don't think that taked away too much so I'm sticking with my 5 star rating. I'm excited to see if Manu can manifest magic or some kind of protection (?) from it, which is what I feel was hinted at during her fight with Yamila. Excited to get to the next book!

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"Lobizona" by Romina Garber is a powerful and enchanting young adult fantasy that masterfully weaves together themes of identity, belonging, and cultural heritage. Set against the backdrop of Miami, Florida, the story follows Manuela Azul, an undocumented immigrant entangled in a life far too constricted for her expansive spirit. Her journey takes a dramatic turn as she discovers a hidden world tied to Argentine folklore, revealing her true heritage and challenging her understanding of her existence.

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Lobizona has cool world building with characters I cared about. Until about 25% of the way thru. It totally lost me when Manu shows up at a certain place and just…gets a room and a cot. I stopped reading fully and skipped thru to the end. I loved Manu and her Mom, fighting and surviving in Miami, Manu trying to figure out her past and cause for her “condition”.

Admittedly I think I have reached the point in life where I am past reading young adult novels. This is on me and not the author. If you like interesting world building, Argentinian folklore, etc then read Lobizona by Romina Garber.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-arc I received in exchange for my honest review, sorry my review is late!

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Published in 2020 yet. So. Many. HP. References. That was incredibly disappointing. And actually really annoying! Aside from that, this was an interesting book. It took a minute to get on its feet but once it did, once Manu went to [insert place name here, I do not remember], it got good. Love the descriptions of the eyes. Will definitely be reading the sequel!

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This book is amazing and here is an emoji list of things I loved about the book:
❤️
✊🏼 SO FEMINIST
🔥 BURN THE PATRIARCHY WITH FEMINIST BOYS AS ALLIES
🏰 ESCUELA DE MAGIA
💪🏼CHINGA LA MIGRA
🧙🏼WITCHES
🐺 WEREWOLVES
🌖 LA LUNA
.👯‍♀️GIRLS WITH COMPLICATED BUT LOVING FRIENDSHIPS
✒️THIS BOOK IS FULL OF AMAZING EMPOWERING QUOTES

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I loved how this book tackled tough topics like immigration, trying to belong to a group or being a loner, different cultures and how that can affect your perception of people of their perception of you all while being fun and not too heavy. It had the typical tropes in a YA (which I am not complaining about) and loved the twists.

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Beautiful imagery and a refreshing take on the magical coming-of-age story. I'm very much looking forward to reading the second book in this series. Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy, and to Romina Garber for sharing your talent with the world.

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Unfortunately, this book just wasn't entirely my thing. I can see this being a great book for many though, I just wasn't able to click with it. I think for me, while I found the discussion about deportation/oppression/etc. in Florida and the US interesting and gripping, I wasn't actually drawn in by the supernatural elements of the book. I just didn't find the werewolves/witches and secret school as captivating, even though I do often like these sorts of magical settings. I even tried the audiobook, and while I liked the narrator, I had a hard time picking the book back up again after putting it down. The Harry Potter references were also pretty frequent and I found them a bit off-putting. Just because a book also has a magic school doesn't mean we need to be reminded of HP, I'd much rather focus on this story's school and world.

Overall, while I wasn't into this book myself, I can see this book finding an audience nonetheless. I think both readers that can relate to Manu's experiences and those who can't, but want to learn more about all the issues this book discusses, can end up really enjoying this book, even if it didn't click for me!

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This book is a such a gorgeous love letter to the immigrant experience, and also there's werewolves and honestly that's the highest praise for a book from me.

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I will not be giving feedback on this book as I couldn’t really get into it but I think others may enjoy it.

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I had trouble getting into this. I kept trying, I just couldn’t get into it and the writing style just wasn’t for me. I’m ended up dnfing this at 28%.

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I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I absolutely love the concept and the magic. On the other hand, it had a slow start, which made it very difficult for me to get into.

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3 stars

This was pretty good! The writing and myself didn't connect but I enjoyed the story. The fantasy world felt a little underdeveloped to me but I definitely hope for more from this world and hope it expands.

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I really liked Romina's first series about the zodiac, but I stopped and started this series probably 5 times before realizing it just wasn't for me. I'm not sure if werewolves just don't work for me anymore, or if I just couldn't vibe with the writing style. As much as I tried, I could not end up finishing. DNF

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“Go forth and shatter every convention”

From the very first few sentences this book wraps you in its magic and doesn’t let go. Garber crafts a magical and vivid portrayal of Miami while having incredibly nuanced discussions about immigration. She provides a window into the reality of so many undocumented immigrants in the United States and the identity crisis that comes from not feeling like you belong anywhere. At the same time, Garber begins to lay out what becomes a spectacular reveal as Manu gets dropped into a magical world that has strong connections to her father and his side of the family that Manu knows close to nothing about. Soon we get wrapped up in a blur of activity as Manu attempts to con her way through a magical school. The friendships and love that unfolds from Manu’s empowering journey to finding her truth and cementing her place in the school/magical world is incredible. I absolutely loved the magical system that ties to nature and cycles and which reveals so much about what Manu only thought to be a dream earlier in the book. The trip to Lunaris and its thrilling, ever changing landscapes was so fulfilling after so much build-up. The ending is a fantastic almost cliffhanger and I am counting down the days until I can know what else happens to Manu and her crew.

This book manages to combine confronting the patriarchy and the mashismo of latinx culture, discussing immigration and the need to find somewhere to belong, and a magical school with drama, magical classes and its version of fútbol l, so incredibly well.

This is the type of book I wish my younger self had while growing up Latinx in the USA. It’s been months since I read it and the story and its characters has not left my mind. I highly recommend this book, especially to Latinxs in any part of the diaspora.

4.5/5 ⭐️

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Lobizona should be approached with a fresh perspective and low expectations. If you expect a paranormal story, you will be disappointed. There aren't only wolves and brujas. It combines current events, social criticism, Argentine folklore, and fantasy. Lobizona's magic is deceptive.

Romina Garber captures the reader's attention with the horrifying reality of illegal immigrants living in fear of arrest and deportation. Manu's mother's ICE detention rocks her world and reveals previously unknown facts.

Walking with Manu was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Because she is undocumented and has her father's distinctive eyes, she feels compelled to be small and hidden. Manu's search for a home was both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Manu's quest for the truth reveals a mythical realm populated by lobizóns (werewolves) and brujas (witches). Lobizona's vibrant folklore distinguished it from the world and school of Hogwarts. Garber creates a lush, mystical world while confronting sexist, xenophobic, and heteronormative attitudes. Lobizona's worldbuilding is fantastic.

Characters were another source of strength. The characters' diversity, goals, and voices appealed to me. While obvious, Manu's discovered family was easy to love, and I can't wait to see how they deal with larger issues.

Lobizona captured my attention. Even though it was slow, I was captivated the entire time. I didn't mind the numerous YA stereotypes. It worked because of the beautifully designed environment and characters. Lobizona is a story I'll remember for a long time, and I hope others will as well. In a world where so many people are labeled as "other," all they want is to be accepted and to belong.

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When I lived in Puerto Rico I used to frequent my local bookstore, The Bookmark (San Patricio Plaza). During my visits I would talk to other regulars including Jan, who was obsessed with Garber's (nee Russell?) Zodiac series. I always said I would read them, but never actually picked any of the books up.

Then came Lobizona. I was granted an ARC by the publisher and the book blew my mind time and time again. The author deftly weaves in issues that immigrants face, sexism, and gender roles in a tale about the titular werewolf. I was expected a lighter fantasy fare, the kind of book many gringos confuse with magical realism, but instead I found myself in awe of the layers and layers of social criticism packed among its pages.

Read this book if you like #ownvoices and are a fan of Anna-Marie McLemore.

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Original and filled with high stakes, Lobizona introduced a rich world of witches and werewolves. Magic tied to elements and a world tied to the moon. Manu's journey resonated in different ways, and I can't wait to see what is next!

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I wanted to love this book so badly. The cover is gorgeous, the author is a thoughtful, fantastic person (I've been in an author chat with Romina with one of my book clubs and she was an absolute delight), and I love diverse books. Unfortunately, I also really struggle with urban fantasy. I think I would have loved this book a lot more if it had been focused solely in a magical world or the real world. I love how immigration and racism were dealt with in the book. The world-building for the fantasy portion of the book felt underdeveloped to me though. I will definitely be checking out Romina's work in the future, I just think this series wasn't for me.

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4.5 stars — I’ll explain in too much detail at the end, but the start was super slow for me, and I set this book aside *twice*. But once I got over that initial hump, I just kept getting more and more into it, until I was racing to the finish. So definitely give it until chapter 5 or 6 before you judge (even better if you get to phase 2).

Manu was a pretty solid heroine. I had a hard time initially connecting with everything she was going through being kept away from the world. The literal immigration troubles she and her mother were facing were very visceral. I also appreciated how her illegal status was paralleled in the other world. Sometimes she was a bit angsty, but other times I totally felt her emotions with her. It was a mish mash. I appreciated everything she was going through, learning things about herself she never knew, and being introduced to a whole other world. And I appreciated the time she took when thinking about how she wanted her own story to play out — especially the consideration for illegals who might not be as wow as her.

There were a lot of interesting relationships in this book, along with interesting and vital secondary characters. While we didn’t get to see a lot of her relationship with her mom, I was so glad we got some glimpses in other ways. And while Perla’s role was short, I loved how she was there for Manu.

It was the friendships she formed at El Laberinto that really sold me — because they were by no means perfect, but that made them feel more authentic. I honestly thought we were going to have obvious girl enemy, and boy crush, but things veered off the traditional book course and I couldn’t be happier. I loved that they were all so different, but they all brought something to Manu’s life. I also appreciated that we did get to see some girl friendships, she wasn’t just alone.

I was initially frustrated with her back and forth with Tiago, even though I could feel their chemistry. But that whole story went in interesting directions I wasn’t expecting either, and I liked it.

The world was rich and fairly well developed and described. I will admit I’m still confused on some things, but there’s so much to love it doesn’t even matter to me! I enjoyed the school setting, I can see why some people have compared to Harry Potter. And Lunaris was weird and crazy and wonderful! I am so sucked in and wanting to know what’s going to happen next. There were quite a few things that I didn’t predict at all, which is kind of fun! All in all, I was so pleasantly surprised and relieved with how the book played out, I’m just excited for more!

So here’s my little story about how my reading experience went, just cause I feel like telling it. I started this book near release back in August 2020…and I just couldn’t get into it. I’m the kind of reader that likes to know *everything*, and so I would stumble on the different cultural references, the spanish phrases that weren’t *exactly* translated, that kind of thing. I also like to pretend to sound things out in my head, but I was doing a terrible job of it. So at about chapter 4 I decided to try to get the audio from the library, thinking that someone who could pronounce things properly might help. Course, I had to wait a couple months. And while I loved hearing all the words spoken authentically, the narrator wasn’t quite my jam, and I wasn’t getting sucked in yet again. I was officially bummed.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I found a friend to buddy read it with me. I decided to start at chapter 3, and this time I managed to let my “need to know everything” go, and just keep reading unless I was super confused…because honestly, in general you can at least figure out the gist with context. And it was going better! I still wasn’t wowed, but I kept motoring. I got into chapter 5, and things really started to pick up. There was action, more emotion, I was definitely more intrigued. By the time I got to Phase II (chapter 10), I was so much more excited about the book. And honestly, it just kept getting better and better for me, and I was up until 2:30 last night racing to the finish because I couldn’t help myself. And now I really want to move right on to book 2, though I have to squeeze in 2 other reads first.

There were still a lot of moments where I was confused, but the rest of the story just made up for it (as you can see from my rating).

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