Cover Image: Lobizona


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Visibility = Deportation
Deportation = Death

Manu is an illegal immigrant living with her mother and an older woman named Perla in Miami. But if they return to Argentina, her father's family will kill them. Manu has yellow eyes, so she is home-schooled and has no friends. But then her mother is taken by ICE and Perla is injured. By chance, Manu discovers people like her - and the illness that effects her every month during her period on the full moon, isn't what she thought... but her existence among them is dangerous, because just like in America, she's illegal.

Romina Garber does a fantastic job of magical world-building weaved with traditional Argentinian culture. Her characters fight against historical social norms for women roles and for queer couples. Light romances and a cliff hanger ensure more adventures to come.

A unique fantasy that is truly out of this world.
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Lets start off with the good Lobizona has some great messages. It talks about the struggles with immigration, fitting in, trust and found family. Manu, our heroine has put up with a lot in her very sheltered years on this earth. She knows she’s different but its not until an immigration raid gone bad shows her just how different she is, how much of her past she doesn’t understand. 
	Through a series of strange events she finds herself in the fantasy side of the story that’s richly steeped in Argentinian folklore. 	

	This is where I think we run into an “It’s me not you.” issue.

	The first third was a bit of a struggle. There was a lot of Spanish spoken in the dialogue. While some of it was translated, some of it was not and I found myself referring to google translate for parts which made the story clunky and unreadable. 

	 Roughly 35% of the way in she discovers a hidden school in the mangrove forests of Florida. Not just that, everyone has eyes like her. Its here she gets to explore what she really is and find out more about the father she has never known. This is where a lot of classic YA tropes come into play. Only one of her kind, has special abilities no one else has...etc.
	This aspect was...interesting? Imagine if Harry Potter (which is mentioned a couple times) was set in the Avatar realm. Cameron version not the animated one. Interesting in execution, you can see different influences in it. The elemental magic was cool but it was something I’d seen done before. 
	The Spanish dialogue was much easier to follow from this point when it showed up. While again, not always translated I could piece together enough from other commentary to figure it out without referring to a translator as often. 
	Its odd to find that while I couldn’t connect too much with the characters they seemed to have a decent dynamic among themselves. Another issue I had was with the intimacy scenes. While it says the characters are 17-18 years old, it feels really middle grade. While the relationships were ok, the level they were portrayed to felt really out of place.

	Over all thoughts: First 30% clunky but good set up. Next 55% Cool world building, felt like a lot of filler though. The ending was rather out of left field and too convenient. 
I can see where a lot of people will like this but this was a book that felt middle of the line to me. 

E-Arc kindly provided by St.Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Book: Lobizona 
Author: Romina Garber 
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars 

I would like to thank the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with an ARC. 

I’m just going to start out by saying that do not go into this book without knowing a little bit of Spanish. The characters speak Spanish and the author does not hold your hand on the translations. I know a little bit of Spanish, so I was fine, but I just want to warn you. 

Right away, I was very interested in this title. I have read a book based on Argentine folklore, so I knew this was going to be a must read. I love how Romina has that balance of real life and folklore. We have characters who are going through some tough stuff, while dealing with some very strange magical elements. It is this mixture of the real world and magical world that kept me going. I was also getting a few Harry Potter vibes. I mean, our character is being taken from a rough situation, discovers she has these powers, and is sent away to learn about them. Come on…

Anyway, I love the bonds the characters have with each other. I love seeing Manu interact with her family and seeing her struggle with how her mom will not let her out of the house. She has some very teenage reactions about this, but afterwards realizes that her mom was just trying to protect her. I love the bonds she creates with the other characters and getting to see her grow up throughout the book. I also like how we do get to see just how she deals with deportation and the impact that it has one her. 

The writing was beautiful. I was pulled right into the world. However, there did seen to be something about it that I wish was different. Don’t get me wrong, I did have a good time reading it, but there were parts that seemed rushed and other parts that went on for too long. I know this is a first book in a series and all, but I don’t know, there were just parts that felt really uneven. I personally wish that the ending hadn’t been so abrupt, but that’s just me. 

The plot was pretty solid, but, again, there were some scenes that wish we had more of and less of others. The romance was one of those things that seemed forced as well. I would have liked to see that fleshed out a little more. The big battle was so abrupt and rushed. The plot itself was pretty strong. However, one thing that kind of bothered me was all of the foreshadowing; this made the big reveal at the end not a big reveal. I mean, I figured it out within the first couple of pages and was kind of  let down when it fit together so perfectly. 

Is this a prefect book? No, but I really enjoyed reading it. 

Anyway, this book comes out on May 5, 2020. 

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Lobizona is a timely and necessary read. Filled with intimate characterization and gut-wrenching moments, this novel is a triumph.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-book ARC of this work in exchange for my honest review. 

What a wonderful fantasy world Garber has created all while incorporating the real struggle immigrants face when called illegal. The feelings of being made out as inhuman or less than are clear and well incorporated into to worlds that the characters find themselves in. 
Manu, the main character, is a young girl that has spent her life on the run and in hiding trying to not let the human government know she is in America, all the while she is being hidden from her other half, a world of werewolves and witches. The author perfectly weaves all the tropes of YA fantasy while integrating the struggle that immigrants face when told they do not belong but have no country to return to. 
The imagery and emotion seems to leap from the pages of this book and the reader is easily drawn into the world no matter if it is in the small apartment in Miami or the secret world that Manu finds herself in as she runs to discover who she really is and who she wants to be in the future. I loved reading about Argentinian mythology and seeing the similarities and differences between other world mythologies, and I enjoyed the way the author interwove real-world and fantasy in this book.  
I look forward to reading the next book in this series, and I will write an additional review on my personal blog as the publication date for this book gets closer. 
Fans of fantasy, magical realism, and stories about families doing all they can to survive will surely find this a worthwhile read.
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Thank you Net Galley and Wednesday Books for the advanced readers copy to review. This book was a five star read and easily became one of my favorite books ever. This book takes place in Florida where Manu has lived cut off from the outside world with only her mother and adoptive grandmother for company. Manu must stay hidden because she has a strange genetic mutation, or so her mom says. Manu and her Mother are also both undocumented. Manu's entire life changes the day her mother is captured by ICE. Manu goes on the run and ends up at a magical boarding school where she finds out she doesn't just have a genetic mutation, she is in fact magical. Join Manu in Lobizona as she learns about her family's secret past and takes and epic journey of self discovery. This book's magic system and world building is like nothing I have ever seen before. I loved the all latinx main cast and the LGBTQ+ representation. I can't wait for book two I need it now.
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After reviewing my notes upon completing the book, there were a lot more f-bombs overall than I realized while I was reading the book, which is a downside when considering books for my classroom library. Otherwise this is an absolutely beautiful world and story. The author's writing style is engaging and draws the reader in. The mythology and the magic system were interesting and different. I think the author did a great job blending cultural elements into the book with explanations in a natural way. The plot twists were surprising and the action had me on the edge of my seat. This was a great read!
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I'm not completely sure what I was expecting with this book (which was a bit of a departure from some of my usual reads), but it didn't "click" with me as I'd hoped. 

Some of the YA elements were solid, and I enjoyed many things about the heroine. But the fantasy elements were tired and cliched, as though the author were trying a bit too hard. Overall, I really struggled with this book.
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Lobizona was heartbreaking and beautiful and I am so glad I was approved to read it.  It has been one of my favorite reads on the year so far and I am already needing the next book in my life.  Romina Garber draws from some of her own personal experiences which makes the book all the more touching and for some, relatable.

Manu is such a relatable character for so many different people, I feel.  Her mother has kept her fairly isolated from society in hopes of protecting her from a world of judgment and crime for having beautifully unusual eyes.  As Manu's story progresses you learn of her internal struggle with having to constantly be in fear of not only ICE but her fathers Argentinian crime-family.  The representation within this book is beautifully done and addressed in such a raw and honest way, it was inspiriting.  I feel like so many people can connect with her - if you have ever felt like you didn't fit into a certain 'bubble' or you like you didn't have a place in the world, you need to read this book.  There is so much more I want to say about this book but I don't want to spoil anything.  I highly suggest reading this book if you enjoy Fantasy, Argentinian Folklore and a moving story about finding your place in the world.

Lobizona made me laugh out loud, it made me reflect on my adolescent years, it made me cry in the middle of my living room and it made me grateful to have an author that would write something making so many people feel seen.
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Reading Manu's story brings up issues of immigration through a fantastical lens, as well as a realistic one. The separation between the real world and the fictional is a thin line that is crossed about 1/4-1/3 of the way through and highlights similar issues between these two worlds. Between the review version (300 pages) and what seems to be the final version (400 pages) there is a lot of details that could have been added, moments that changed, or even new scenes that I didn't get in the review, but I hope are there. I feel like the beginning, which takes place in Miami, is more fleshed out than the fantastical world. It's not clear whether it's due to lack of explanation, or that it's a completely different world these characters are living in, but I felt a bit lost.

I assume, and I hope, that the fantastical world is fleshed out a bit more in the final copy. If so, then I think the book is going to connect and resonate a lot more with readers than it would right now.

Overall, I really liked the story. I'm a fan of Romina's work in general and I'm excited to see this new story come to light soon!
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Thank you NetGalley for providing this ARC of Lobizona, it was such a pleasant surprise to find this in my inbox! 
I was so drawn into this story that I had troubles putting it down. Weaving together YA contemporary and fantasy elements influenced by Argentinian folklore, it tells the story of Manu and her family origins.  
Considered an “illegal” citizen in the US she dreams of one day belonging and being able to one day start living the life she has been dreaming of. When she is drawn into a world of magic and werewolves she must decide between uncovering who she really is and wants to be, or going back to who she was.
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Lobizona was so much more than I expected! I went into it knowing that it was a contemporary YA fantasy that tackled themes like immigration and that it had garnered a lot of advance praise online so I knew it had to be good, but it blew every preconceived notion and expectation I had out of the water! I loved it sooooo much, yall! 

Manuela, or Manu, is an undocumented immigrant from Argentina. As a child, she escaped with her mother to the US, running from her father’s family who would likely kill them both if they ever found out that she existed. 

Unfortunately, (because living in a country that isn't known for being friendly to the undocumennted, afraid of being found and deported back to a place where her own family would kill her, isn't bad enough) that's not all Manu has to worry about. She’s forced to stay cooped up in a small apartment due to a genetic condition that makes her eyes...well..stand out and would bring extremely unwanted attention should anyone see them. On top of that she spends at least three days every month knocked out cold due to the extreme pain from menstruation. I mean really, can the girl catch a dang break already? Sheesh! 

No. No, she cant. Once her mom is picked up in an ICE raid, immediately after Manu discovers that she’s been lied to for years about their status, she realizes it isn't safe at home for her either and hides in the back of the truck of someone she suspects was staking out her apartment building in an attempt to find some answers about her life and why it seems to be unraveling. 

"I’m a passenger not just in this vehicle, but in my body, in this country, in my life. Defined by decisions I didn’t make. My undocumented status. My father’s family. My eyes."

This girl gets put through the ringer! In all the years of her mother doing everything she thought was right just to keep them alive, Manu never had the chance to really LIVE. She's always had big dreams but didn't know anything about who she really was or what she was capable of until the crap hit the fan and she was on her own in a world she hadn't even known existed. Literally.

From one shock to another, Manu discovered just how strong she really was and it was lovely to see her come into her own and start finding her place in the world. Along the way she found out that family is defined by more than just sharing blood. Family can be found anywhere with anyone. 

Romina Garner has created an incredible world with a unique spin on Argentine folklore, one that is well written and full of awesome magic and werewolves. Her characters are so wonderful and easy to relate to. There's a lot going on in this story and I felt like the pacing never faltered. Once I started, I never wanted to put it down. 

More importantly, beyond those standard points of execution like writing style and plot and character development, there are layers in this story that examine a number of important themes and issues. Some are prominent, like immigration and the immigrant experience, while others are more subtle like acceptance, gender roles, love, and family. 

It's just a beautiful story that grabs your attention and pulls you along on the adventure. But make no mistake, this one isn't just mindless fun; it gives the reader a glimpse of the multifaceted experience faced by so many immigrants who are always seen as "other," it makes you think, and hopefully instills some empathy and compassion. 

In a word: superb!

**Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC! All opinions are my own.**
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When I read what this book was about I just knew I had to read it! It reminded me of things that are very similar to what immigrants are dealing with in our societies at this time. This book is also filled with both history and  folklore from Argentina. 
The author does a great job  with her world building  both in Miami and the magical/fantasy worlds that Manu enters throughout the book. Also, the great foreshadowing keeps you turning the page and waiting for the next book in the series in order to find out what happens next.
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This book is so needed, especially during this time. It's an absolutely timely, stunning, diverse, magical, powerful story that tells of Latinx folklore that blends the reality of today's treatment of Latinx folks. It's a magical and emotional and driven ride, and I can't wait for everyone to read it. Everyone needs to read it whether they know it or not. Romina Garber is a phenomenal storyteller and I can't wait to read more from her.
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This novel had a lot of new things to say about belonging partially to multiple cultures and fully to none. It also closely followed a lot of YA/teen fantasy adventure/chosen one tropes—but why not? Tropes and the hero's journey may make a story's path predictable, but they're <em>fun</em>. And no one seems to mind when the story is one of the exceedingly popular ones about white males. Why shouldn't an undocumented Argentinian-American girl get a turn at bat? Although Harry Potter is the series that kept being mentioned in its pages, the book was much more like Percy Jackson—it could easily have been one of these new "Rick Riordan presents" books, except that it was a bit more young adult than middle grade.
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I'm pretty sure every book I've reviewed recently I need to go back and drop a star to give them all to this book. I was absolute blown away. It takes current equal rights and immigration issues that are hard to read but important to stay aware of. The Argentinian folklore was SO intriguing and I've been looking up more about it independently from the book. I also appreciated the straight on period discussion because it needs to be normalized too! 

The characters I really enjoyed and really wanted Manuela to find her place! The book is full of twists and turns. A few I really wasn't expecting!

This book felt so refreshing and new. Creative and such a breath of uniqueness to really stand out in the YA fantasy realm
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Garber's novel albeit relying heavily on magical realism is painfully contemporary, poignant and sincere; I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
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After having read and loved the Zodiac Series, I was so excited to see that Romina was starting a new series. This book touches on an extremely relevant and tough topic of illegal immigration and deportation. Lobizona is a great Urban Fantasy novel, it takes place in Miami and another fantasy realm with Brujas and Werewolves. This is a story about equality, fighting, which are summed up in one of my favorite quotes "Gender equality and freedom of lifestyle are battles I can't take on yet, because first I need to win a different war: The right to exist." The reveal at the end was one that I didn't see coming and really took me by surprise. Lobizona is such a beautiful new novel in a new series that I can't wait to read more from.
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Lobizona is the first book in a new series that combines topics of immigration into a fantasy world. The main character, Manu, lives with her mother in Miami. Manu does not attend school  or really leave her house. She is under the impression that it is because of her undocumented status, as well as the unique color of her eyes that would make her stand out. Manu and her mother moved to Miami from Argentina, fleeing the dangerous family of her father. Manu doesn't learn that she is actually descended from magical beings until she tries to uncover the secrets of her past. She is thrown into the realm of werewolves and witches who live secretly around the world in magical conclaves that are hidden from view. While werewolves are always male and witches are always female, Manu doesn't quite fit in here either. 

There is a lot of adventure wrapped up in the novel. It fits many of the traditional YA fantasy novels that put young kids into specific groups and houses. My favorite thing about this book is how the author addresses ideas around immigration and gender in a way that is entirely new.
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For any Latinx who longed to see yourself in the halls of Hogwarts. For anyone who has felt out of place in every place you've been. For adults who spent their lives straddling two worlds, and for teens who navigate those worlds every day. For white folks like me, who have no concept of what it means to be called "illegal," who have never been hunted for merely existing. For fans of the boarding school trope, of werewolves, witches, beautiful magical worlds, and a bit of romance

Lobizona is the first book in a coming series set in two worlds: contemporary Earth, and a parallel world called Lunaris. Garber weaves into Lunaris the truths of our world and blatantly dissects them, leaving them bare and glaring. This book is at once allegory and exposition, leaving little room to wonder what the message is. As Garber says in the author's note:   "When we use labels like illegal, we negate a person’s worth and humanity, and the real dangers they’re running from—dangers that are not contained by borders because they are born from ideas."

In this book, Manu navigates a life in hiding from ICE and from the people who made her father disappear. That life is further complicated by the simple fact that she is different. Not because of her skin tone or because she was born in Argentina, but because her eyes are incredibly unique and incredibly difficult to hide. When Manu finally finds here way to answers about her eyes, she learns more than she bargained for. We fallow Manu as she struggles to fit into the molds created by multiple societies, and we hope with her as she discovers more about herself and her place in the worlds she is part of. 

Lobizona is equal parts Rowling's Harry Potter, Cordova's Brooklyn Brujas, and Andrews' Kate Daniels. It's a YA novel that skews young, except in a few short 'sexy' passages and in a few uses of "fuck." Definitely give it a read.

 “Now go forth and shatter every convention.”
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