Member Reviews

This is like two different books. Contemporary with some tough topics on immigration, fitting in, and society today. And fantasy with wolvss, powers, and ancient cultures.
I am not sure how well they mix. It feels like the first half of the book we are reading a poinient novel on contemporary immigration but then suddenly wolves, and instalove, and star eyes. But literal star eyes(pupils that look like stars).
For me it was just two genres that I couldn't mesh together in my mind and the plot got lost. While I loved the parts seperately together it felt like too much.

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<b> I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review </b>

I was so grateful to receive this book because I've been intrigued ever since I saw the beautiful cover. The writing is beautiful and flowery, but not over the top. The author did such a great job with describing scenery, and developing the characters. I can't say anything bad about this book, it was just that good.

"Sometimes reality strays so far from what's rational that we can only explain it through fantasy."

This quote caught my attention immediately. This book touches on subjects relating to undocumented immigrants, gender identity, and gender norms. I think for some people those topics can be really hard for people to grasp and understand, and this book did a beautiful job of making these topics understandable. I really love that this book had a purpose, and it delivered.

Manu goes on a journey of self discovery through the book and it was so great to see her grow into herself. The friendships and relationships formed in the book were built on loyalty, and communication. It was really nice to see friendships that weren't toxic. I feel like a lot of YA books have relationships and friendships that are toxic to make the plot work, and so this book was a breath of fresh air.

There were a lot of parallels and mentions of other books throughout the story, and every time I came across one it was like finding an easter egg.

Overall, I couldn't find one thing in this book that I didn't like. I will recommend it to everyone. I can not wait for the sequel to come out, and am praying I will be fortunate enough to receive an ARC of that one too!

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I was really impressed with the fantastical world Garber built. Manu was a great main character; smart, determined, kind, and loyal and I really liked reading about her learning about the Septimus world as well as her family's struggle to stay off the radar in the human world. Garber brings in social justice issues in both the human and magical realms that feel relatable and familiar while helping the reader put themself in Manu's shoes and imagine what it would feel like to have to constantly hide. The pace lagged a little in the middle for me and the end resolved more quickly than I expected, but overall, I really liked this book. I'd recommend to fans of the Divergent series.

I received a free ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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We need more books like this. Fairytale/ Folktale retellings by Own Voice authors! I really enjoyed reading about the legends and culture of Argentina, which is a country I’m not familiar with. My only issue with this book is that it seemed a bit rushed in key areas and could use more time world-building. I’m hoping that the sequel will go into more details.

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Lobizona is a striking YA novel that takes a sci-fi approach to present day issues of immigration. Manu and her mother are in the U.S. illegally, fleeing violence in Argentina that has left Manu's father presumed dead. Manu fears raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She lives in hiding, with no contact with other young people her own age.

Manu's life also holds mysteries that she herself finds baffling. Why are her eyes so unusual that she must wear sun glasses at all times? Why are her periods so closely timed to the moon's phases—and so painful that she has to be medically sedated for the first three days of them? And what is the world she visits while under sedation?

Romina Garber offers a complex. compelling narrative that effectively combines the magical and some of the most painful aspects of "the real world." Each time Manu moves closer to understanding who she is, she feels even more isolated from those around her—no matter who those others are.

Lobizona is a compelling read from the start—and the last third will have readers racing along, both tense and hopeful about the novel's possible outcome. What a delight that this is volume one in a series and that readers will have the opportunity to spend more time with Manu in the future.

I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.

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Mini review:

I received this e-arc via the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF

I was looking forward to reading this! I've heard so many good things about this book. Unfortunately it didn't work for me.

Once I started reading I became disinterested. I tried for a few more pages but simply didn't care.

I still recommend. I think others will enjoy it.

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The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover and the second was the synopsis. Lobizona is about a young girl, Manu, on her journey to discover who she is .... what she is. She is an undocumented immigrant living with her mother in a tiny apartment hiding from both ICE and her fathers family in Miami. The only thing she has been told about the later is that they are dangerous and powerful. After seeing her mother get taken up by ICE and discovering that everything she’s been told is not as it seems she finds herself on a journey to not only who she is but also what she is and in that there is the danger.

At first, it was difficult to get into this book. I couldn’t seem to associate or really feel any connection with Manu but after I got past the first few chapters her story really started to draw me in. One thing I felt the author did really well was bring forward what is going on in our country in terms of undocumented immigrants. The other thing the was the author described her would so beautifully, from the food, to the locations, to the people...I was truly transported to these places. I definitely look forward to reading the next installment of Manu and her friends journey!

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A beautifully built world of Latinx and fantasy. I finished this book in one day and loved every aspect from showing the importance of family in a latinx world to the true representation of it’s characters. Garber’s prose is enchanting and will have you zooming through pages until you’re finished.

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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Great book! I think this tackles some hard hitting issues in our own current society that really need to be addressed more in the public eye.

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.

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Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I get the feeling that this social distancing world is turning me into a bit of a Grinch because this the latest addition in a string of books I couldn't connect to.

When I received the opportunity to read this ARC, the description of the story really hooked me. A contemporary novel with fantasy elements? Including as controversial a topic as illegal immigration? I love it! Sign me up!

The issues come quick for this story and they're primarily twofold. First, this story is a very slow burn and unless you relate to these characters, that writing style is going to burn you. The author has a beautiful style, but unless you build that connection strongly for the readers, you're not going to reach very many.

Second, the story leans so much into the contemporary and treats the fantasy piece more like an afterthought. Truthfully, this story would have had a stronger impact on its readers if it dedicated to one genre instead of attempting to blend both.

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“I’ve always been a voracious reader, and this is quite the story.”

** Trigger warning for racist violence, including a scene involving an ICE raid, and violence against women, including rape. **

“Manuela de La Mancha,” says a deep voice. It sounds strange to hear such a long name, but that’s the manada I’m pretending to be from.

“Hola, Marilén,” I say to Tiago and Saysa’s great-grandmother, whom I met moments ago.

“No sos bruja.” You’re not a witch.

My tongue feels like sandpaper, and my mouth seals dry. Since our wolf-shadows roam outside the Citadel, and my fangs and claws are retracted, I didn’t think there would be any indicator of my identity—

“No te preocupes, no vengo a interrogarte.” Don’t worry, I’m not here to interrogate you.

She moves closer, and the way her steely eyes seem to see more than others reminds me of Perla. “Toda la vida soñé con conocerte,” she whispers. My whole life I’ve dreamt of meeting you.

Her long black hair is in a tight, elegant bun that pulls her skin, stretching it so that if there’s a single wrinkle, I don’t see it. “La primera de nosotras que nació fuera de su jaula.”

The first of us to be born outside her cage.

###

“Anything you do that’s traditional wolf territory could be challenged by some zealot, and you could wind up before the tribunal. I’ve been studying their decisions, and they tend to be led by their pragmatism. Our world is gray, and rapidly gray-ing, and the tribunal navigates it by sticking to a determinedly black-and-white approach. They rule by the book and can’t be swayed by emotion. If you don’t fit the exact letter of the law, they see you as going against it.”

“So what do I do?”

“You can’t break a law that doesn’t apply to you.”

“Meaning?”

“If you’re undocumented, you’re unwritten. Embrace that.”

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

“Exactly.”

###

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

###

Sixteen-year-old Manuela “Manu” Azul lives on the fringes of society, in more ways than one; in more ways than even she knows.

For starters, she and her mother Soledad are undocumented immigrants, living in Miami illegally while Ma applies for visas through her employer, a wealthy Cuban immigrant named Doña Rosa. As the story goes, Soledad was forced to flee Argentina more than a dozen years ago after she had an affair with Manu’s father, the reluctant heir to a powerful criminal organization. When he tried to leave his family for his lover, they had him killed. Soledad’s only saving grace? She ran before her treacherous in-laws discovered she was pregnant with Manu.

Now Manu spends most of her time in lockdown, confined to the relative safety of an apartment complex known as El Retiro, her invisible bars shaped by Ma’s maxim: “Attention breeds scrutiny. Silence is your salvation. Discovery = Deportation.” But it’s hard to evade both ICE and the Argentinian mob when you share a rare genetic mutation with your infamous father: “Because you can’t be invisible when your irises are yellow suns and your pupils are silver stars.” Barred from attending school or socializing, Manu’s only friend is Perla, her ninety-year-old roommate, teacher, and surrogate grandmother.

Manu’s precarious existence is upended when Perla is attacked in their apartment, and Soledad’s employer is raided by ICE – all in the same afternoon. Manu discovers that so much of her life has been a lie; while in other ways, the half-truths and creeping sense of isolation have only been harbingers of things to come. The magical place she dreams of during her period – when her “lunaritis” becomes so severe that Ma has to sedate Manu for her own good – really does exist, and it’s the key to finding her place in the world. Worlds, plural: her mother’s and her father’s. For her father’s people are Septis, powerful lobizonos and brujas who move back and forth between earth and Lunaris.

There’s one thing Soledad wasn’t lying about, though: if the Cazadores learn of Manu’s existence, she will be executed. Human-Septis hybrids are considered abominations, and Manu has yet another beautiful deviation up her sleeve: one that threatens to upend the entire patriarchal system on which Septis culture is based. She’s not a bruja, as gender essentialism would dictate, but rather a powerful lobizona. The first of her kind.

LOBIZONA is such a great story, and I’m worried that I’ve already dropped too many spoilers, so I’ll shut up about plot specifics. Let’s just say Manu’s quest involves surreptitious enrollment in a boarding school for young Septis; a search for her missing father, Fierro; a found family involving classmates Tiego, Cata, and Saysa (among others); smashing the patriarchy; and a trip to another world that’s both enchanting and lethal.

Garber’s world building here is simply spectacular: the twin locales of El Laberinto and Lunaris, anchored by a sentient, bigger-on-the-side, magic police box tree called Flora, are as beguiling as they are complex and detailed. There’s so much to love here, from Flora’s “living library” to Lunaris’s rainbow colored waterfalls and wolf-shaped shadows that seem to exist apart from their owners.

And the racial and gender politics! While I was fully expecting parallels between Manu’s dual “outlaw” status – as an undocumented immigrant in the United States, and as a hybrid in Lunaris – Garber’s decision to throw gender into the mix made things extra deliciously complicated. And I am so here for it! The scenes where Manu’s bruja sisters (and more than a few lobizono brothers – yay for allyship!) rooted for her gave me all kinds of feelings, and Diego’s coaching Manu to write her own story – to own her race and gender and species membership – is inspiring AF.

There’s a bit of a Handmaid’s Tale meets Harry Potter vibe here, but with a much more nuanced interrogation of race on both counts. (Or interrogation of race, period.)

Like THE HANDMAID’S TALE, I feel as though I could write an entire thesis on the themes explored in LOBIZONA (that’s one way to pass the time until the sequel, am I right?); Garber’s attention to detail is impressive, and leads to some rather interesting and unexpected reveals. The bit about brujas being required by law to birth at least two children – nevermind that doing so saps them of their magic – is particularly chilling, and sadly as relevant as ever.

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Lobizona is about Manu, a teenage girl living as an undocumented immigrant in Miami. She and her mother fled Argentina when she was five to escape her father’s family. As if this wasn’t challenging enough Manu also has very strange eyes that make her stand out in a crowd, not something helpful when you’re trying to keep under the government’s radar. And she gets terrible cramps during the full moon. She begins to suspect there is more to her father’s family than she knew. This was a pretty powerful book, reading Manu’s fear and anger and helplessness at the situation she was in and had no control over was very moving. So many people are in similar situations right now and it is heart breaking and needs to change. The fantasy part of the story while not as powerful was also enjoyable, and I really liked the characters she meets and how they are figuring out how to deal with their own society which has parallel problems to the ones Manu faces in Miami. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the sequel!

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Wow, this book was really good!
Lobizona follows Manuela (Manu) Azul, an Argentinian girl living in Miami, FL with her mother and tutor/adopted family, Perla. Manu is never allowed to leave her apartment without her sunglasses and she has been homeschooled for forever. She feels stuck with her family and has never felt like she belonged in Miami. Then one day, Manu discovers a secret world and school far from her home and her family. There she falls in love, makes friends, and learns more about herself and her family than ever before.
Overall, I loved this book and cannot wait to buy it. I recommend it to anyone who felt lost in their own home and who wishes for more.
Rating- 4.5 stars

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This book was interesting. It took me a while to get into, but overall I loved the storyline. It was suspenseful and I never knew what to expect.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own

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Wow! What an intense ride! I was fully invested in this story from start to finish. I loved following Manu's story and fitting all the pieces to the puzzle together with her. The characters were so likable and relatable. The mixture of Argentinian culture, the importance of family, the struggle for belonging and the really lovely romance made for such a good story. I am super excited to read the next Wolves Of No World installment!

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<i>Lobizona</i> is the first installment in Garber's Wolves of No World series. I have seen this book hyped a lot online, and I was really excited to read something with roots in Argentine folklore. The book is pretty solid, but I think maybe I had higher expectations because there was so much hype. To start, I really like the folklore roots. I didn't know the legend and Garber does a good job of incorporating it into Manu's past. The character of Manu is well-developed, but the other characters are less so (I continually got Pablo and Diego confused). I also really liked how Garber parallels the current issues with immigration--that's done extremely well in showing the unfairness in labeling people as "illegal".

I think the main issue is that there's so much going on that none of the plot points feel well-developed enough to get invested. For example, Manu's double who lives across the street who she watches. It seemed like it was going to develop into something and then disappears. At times the book leans a little too heavily on Harry Potter--for example, I don't know if we need the sports element especially since the climax was pretty dull in comparison to the lead up.

Overall, I liked the book and will read the second. I hope the story will come into its own a bit more in the second book.

Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

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Lobizona is a unique take on the tales of werewolves and witches. Manuela Azul is an illegal immigrant in Florida and hiding from her father's people. When ICE raids her mother's work, Manu accidently falls into the secret world of werewolves and her father's people, a world that is rich with Argentine fairy tales. Buried deep in the Everglades is a school of brujas, witches, and Lobizones, werewolves and Manu finds out about her other half. Even here Manu must hide her true self because of who her parents are but soon she finds friends and allies in the school where she is one of a kind, the only Lobizona. The author builds a rich, unique world full of interesting and complex characters for a story that flies by and leaves you itching for the next chapter. Better than that other teen werewolf/vampire story, Manu's tale will fuel the imagination and leave you impatient for the next book. My voluntary, unbiased story is based upon a review copy from Netgalley.

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Manuela Azul and her mother are undocumented illegals living each day in fear of deportation or being discovered by Manu's father's criminal family. Both outcomes would result in Manu's secret being revealed and potentially result in death. Manu is not like other girls; her eyes betray the fact that she is something other than human. When her mother is arrested by ICE, Manu searches for answers about her existence and discovers a world she thought was only lore where the seventh son is born a werewolf and the seventh daughter a bruja. Manu thinks she has finally found where she belongs only to learn that her existence as the first hybrid female werewolf (lobizona) is not only illegal in their world but the penalty is death.

Lobizona is a unique and culturally diverse fantasy fiction in which a girl struggles for acceptance and is denied in both the human and magical worlds she is connected to. The novel incorporates feminist and political perspectives in both worlds as it addresses the very real struggles of immigrants in the human realm as well as the rebellion against gender roles and sexism within her magical culture. Although the magical elements were interesting I felt that the novel didn't really flow between the "illegal" connections in the plot between reality and magic. Overall I enjoyed the novel and look forward to seeing where the author takes the next book in the series.

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This is such an interesting combination of looking at many contemporary issues (immigration, differences, gender) and fantasy. This book sucked me in, probably because it started with the contemporary side (more my taste) but even when it began getting into the fantasy side I wanted to keep reading to see how it ended. I think teens will enjoy reading this, it's a quick read, but also will be great for book club discussions.

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Seventeen-year-old Manuela Azul (she goes by Manu) and her mother, Soledad, have been living in Miami illegally for most of Manu’s life. Manu has a strange eye condition, in which her pupils and irises look like stars so she has to wear sunglasses 24/7 to avoid freaking other people out. Though I’m certain if she walked into an optometrist’s convention with eyes like those she’d immediately be the most popular girl in the whole room, but since she and her mom are in the country illegally, that sort of attention would be very, very bad.

Soledad had to flee Argentina because Manu’s father, Fierro, was supposedly high up with some bad people who disapproved with his relationship with Soledad. So much so that they killed him, sending Soledad into hiding. If they knew Soledad was alive, and that Manu even existed, Fierro’s people would kill them both.

And, as if hiding from Fierro’s people were bad enough, Manu and Soledad are on a constant lookout for ICE. If their apartment building is raided by ICE, they could be deported, back to Argentina where they’d be sitting ducks for Fierro’s murderous family and friends. So Manu has lived a sheltered life within a tiny apartment with her mom and their elderly friend Perla.

Manu has spent much of her life dreaming of escape and a life without fear. Currently, her only hope is the knowledge that her mom is doing her best to get them both legal status. Then one day, Manu notices some strange people hanging around her apartment building. Then Perla is attacked and hospitalized. In a panic, Manu rushes off to find her mom...only to find that Soledad has been lying to her for quite some time. Soledad isn’t a maid for some rich lady - she works at an underground Miami clinic. And she never intended to apply for legal status for her and Manu.

Just as she’s reeling from this revelation, ICE raids the underground clinic. From here, the story takes a weird left-turn. On the run, Manu leaps into the back of a truck, and, after a long ride that sounded way more comfortable than a long ride in the bed of a truck should sound (seriously, there’s no jostling, no being flung about, no wind burn...I get that Florida is pretty flat, but aren’t there potholes? Rocks? Also, isn’t it illegal for someone to ride in the bed of a truck? How did no one else not see her and call the cops?) she ends up deep within the Florida Everglades. After somehow hopping out of the guy’s truck without him noticing that she was ever in there (again, how??? I drive a truck and would absolutely notice if someone were hitching a ride back there. Hey, how come I’m fishtailing significantly less than I usually do? Oh, wait, there’s a human back there) Manu stumbles upon...

A secret school for brujas and werewolves. In the Florida Everglades. And she meets people her age who have eyes just like hers. Suddenly, the puzzle pieces start fitting together - her father must have been a part of this society, not some criminal organization. Manu is half magic. She’s living the ultimate Harry Potter dream! And, somehow, without paying tuition or applying, Manu is allowed to join the school. Finaly, Manu has somewhere that she belongs, and even begins to make friends. She even starts making eyes at a hunky werewolf named Tiago.

There’s just one problem, though. The society that Manu has found herself in has some pretty strict gender roles. Girls are brujas, guys are werewolves. Period, end of sentence. But, even though she definitely belongs among this magical society, Manu doesn’t really have the powers of a bruja. She’s something else.

And there is one thing her mom wasn’t lying about - Fierro’s people are still pissed. Brujas and werewolves are not supposed to have relationships with humans. It’s forbidden. Like, really forbidden. Ultra forbidden. If Manu is found to be half-human, she’ll be killed.

So Manu has traded living forever in fear being an undocumented immigrant in America...for living forever in fear being half-human in a world of magical creatures who think hybrids are evil.

Good luck with that, Manu! Also, there’s still the question of the whereabouts of her still missing father. Is he dead? Alive? And what is Manu, if she’s not a bruja?

Despite a couple of hiccups in the beginning - the book starts pretty slow before taking that weird left-turn into the Everglades and Bruja Werewolf academy. And, as is typical in the first book of a series, much time is spent establishing everything, and less on giving us closure or answers to the big questions. And, since my ability to render a serious and well-thought out book review in the time of COVID-19 has gone down the drain, I’ll be brief. <i>Lobizona </i> is gorgeously written and a fascinating blend of YA contemporary and YA fantasy. I also love the warring gender dynamics within the magical society of brujas and werewolves - not everyone loves the strict binary, or the fact that they’re not allowed to hang out with humans. Ultimately, <i>Lobizona </i> is a brilliant story of a girl looking desperately for a place to belong within not just one, but two worlds that don’t want her - that have deemed her wrong. Illegal. And Manu is tired of all that bullshit. If the human and magical worlds don’t want her, damn it, she’s going to go off and find a place that does.

Go forth and kick ass, Manu!

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