Cover Image: Lobizona


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Member Reviews

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

This book interested me with its use of Argentinian folklore and also its commentary on the U.S. immigration system.  Though this book came out last August, only now was I able to find the mood and mental state to read this title.  Though I understand the love for this book, it ended up being just an okay read for me.  I don't really feel like breaking down the plot as the blurb is pretty clear.  But here be some thoughts on the novel.

The Pros:

- Argentinian folklore: The highlight because I love getting more insight into the myths and folklore of South America which gets ignored in the U.S.
- The Reality:  I enjoy that the book dealt with the important topic of immigration.  I also enjoy when bodily functions of teens (periods) are acknowledged and not treated as shameful in books.
- The Main Character:  I did cheer for Manu to succeed and I enjoyed her overall.  I particularly enjoyed that she loved to learn and read.  I also loved that she was reading classic Spanish works and about space.
- Manu's Family:  I loved how much Manu's mother cared about her.  I also loved Perla, Manu's surrogate grandmother, who owned the apartment they lived in.  I honestly think that Perla may have been me favorite character.

The Cons:

- The Main Character:  It took her way, way too long to figure out what her "problem" was.  Everyone should have figured out the "mystery" sooner.  The reader knows pretty much right away.  Granted the title helped.  Plus she is becomes the special snowflake good-at-everything type which is not to me taste.
- The Love Interest:  Insta-lust and blandness.  The twist involved was also lackluster and kinda annoying.
- The Side Characters: Many of these characters (particularly the men) were weakly portrayed and not fleshed out.  So much so, that I got confused as to who was who.
- The Setting:  While I liked the magical school concept, the actual training made no real sense and was barely shown.  The world building felt very shallow and undeveloped.  The rules and systems of both the school and fantasy world itself seemed contradictory at times.
- The Pace and Plot: The pacing was slow and yet the climax and resolution sped by.  The pace was especially slow in the part where the group is trying to figure out Manu's magic.  I also hated the whole Fierro rebel plot and especially how that resolved.  I also didn't enjoy the plot concerning Manu's father.  I wanted Manu to care more about what happened to her mother rather than her social life.  And while I liked that immigration is discussed, how ICE and school was dealt with seemed rather bizarre in the overall story.  Oh and how Manu got to (and stayed in) the school was laughable.  And what was the point to the "other Manu?"
- The Spanish: I did not care for the technique the author chose to portray the translations.  It kept interrupting the story flow.

I don't feel inclined to read the next book in the series though I am glad more books like this are being published.  Arrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you St. Martin's Press!
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What I Loved: I loved this fresh take on a werewolf story. It tackles the difficult subjects of immigration, systemic racism, misogyny, and understanding one’s identity. Drawing on Argentinian folklore. My husband lived in Rosario, Argentina for a few years before we got married which means I am endlessly fascinated by books that draw on the history, culture and mythology of the country. I absolutely adored Manu, she is fierce, independent and determined. The book definitely went in an unexpected direction and I mean that in the most positive way. What I assumed would be an urban fantasy quickly morphed into a book featuring a magical school, witches, werewolves and magical sports. I found it absolutely delightful. I honestly cannot believe Lobizona is a debut novel and while the title may give away one of the key reveals of the story, there were still plenty of twists and turns I was not expecting. I cannot wait to see where the next book goes and to read more about Manu and her rag tag group of friends. You can find the Q&A I did with Romina here.

What I Didn’t Love: As with the title above, I have very little to complain about when it comes to this debut novel.
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Lobizona is magical and engaging. And really you can never go wrong with witches and werewolves. I loved reading about Argentinian culture and folklore, while also dealing with contemporary issues. I highly recommend this book to everyone.The magic system in Lobizona is so intriguing, and just really interesting,
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Reading this book was a bit out of my comfort zone as I usually try to avoid fantasy titles. In fact, this was the first "paranormal" title I've read since reading Twilight in middle school. Needless to say. my review comes with that grain of salt. I do try to be as objective as possible in my reviews, but I felt my review needed a quick disclaimer.

So, I liked that this book focused on a culture outside of the White American/European realm. I love seeing books, especially in genres that have historically not included a ton of diversity, explore and celebrate other cultures. In reading this book, I really felt like I was learning more about Argentinian culture. I also appreciated the world building that went into the novel. I loved how well thought out the world and its customs seemed. Finally, I also appreciated how real world issues (like immigration) were discussed, and the connection that was made between our world and this magical realm was a nice touch.

My primary reasoning for the rating came from the pacing, the love story, and the ending. There were times while reading that I felt the pacing was either way too slow (nothing really happening) or way too fast (major plot points being rushed and brushed over). On top of that, the love story did not feel convincing as I was reading it. It was hard for me to root for their relationship and feel that it was genuine. By the end, I could see what the author was doing; I just wanted more to really pull me into their romance. Lastly (without spoiling anything), parts of the ending felt just a bit off to me because of how fast things happened as well as the character reactions to the final events. Really, the root of my issues with the books primarily come from the characters. They are not bad by any means, but there were quite a few that felt flatter or more forgettable outside of our "core 4".

At the heart of my review is this: the world building and lore of what Garber has written is strong. If you are someone who loves a story where the setting and backstory are so wonderfully built, this is a book for you! Anyone who wants to get lost in the world of the book would definitely enjoy this book. If you are more of a character driven reader that wants to feel like every character, not matter how minor, is a friend by the end of the book. you may not find it in this book.
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Lobizona was the book that broke my pandemic reading block. Because Lobizona was one of the best books I read in 2020.

It’s got beautiful prose and a tight pacing, tension in all the right places, and I felt so connected to Manu immediately that I didn’t want to put the book down.

Lobizona has it all. A beautiful, diverse cast, magic and romance, werewolves and witches, crushing gendered stereotypes! It’s the YA werewolf version of The Witch Boy. It’s been months since I’ve read the book (don’t blame me, blame pandemic brain) and I’m still gushing about how great it was. It’s one of those I need to reread constantly. It’s got a magic school far better than Hogwarts and a stellar world.

The second I finished it, I yelled into the Twitter void about it and my need for book 2 that the author, Romina Garber, provided links to it’s sequel, Cazadora! It releases August 2021, so you better get your paws on Lobizona ASAP.
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4.5/5 Wow, I loved this book so much! This book encompassed so much, and did it in such a great way. I loved the commentary on being undocumented, and seeing it through a young teen's eyes, as well as how it affects her and her community.

I was not expecting a magic school setting to this book, but was so surprised and excited when we got it. I loved seeing Manu open herself up to friendship after having to stay hidden and alone for so long.

I will say that the only reason this isn't a 5 star is that the ending felt a little rushed, and wish we had more pages to explore what happened.

Overall this was an amazing book, I highly recommend. I cannot wait to read the next book, and whatever else Romina Garber writes!
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Loved this book and how Garner weaved magical realism with real world issue into the plot! Definitely good to see characters that belong to different cultures but feel like an outsider in all.
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Ths book is good for a opening duology and debut author. It's great to read and see more #ownvoices books published.
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Absolutely loved this! Such a beautiful world and the lore was absolutely wonderful. Lobizona is a book I will definitely reread in the future and can't wait for the sequel!
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i loved this book! the world was so beautiful and magical. i could not put it down! I actually ended up purchasing a finished copy for myself and recommend it to everyone!
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Unfortunately my copy of this book expired before I was able to read it, so I'm unable to give feedback on it.
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of “Lobizona” by Romina Garber. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Werewolves! I mean, that’s pretty much all I need to know to want to pick up a book. But this story was so much more than that and probably one of my new favorite books I read this year. I immediately bought a copy for myself and will be preordering the sequel as well.

The story follows Manu on a journey of self-discovery into who she really is. The beginning felt very different in tone to the rest of the book. While providing a heartbreaking look into being undocumented in America, the book then shifts to a magic school in kind of a jarring way that made me forget about the powerful start. That being said, I thought the magic school was vivid and imaginative. But we kind of lost the plot with Manu’s mother which seemed a little callous to just forget her dire situation in favor of exploring the magic school. 

While I was swept away with the story, I did have an issue with the male/female binary of the world’s magic system. The narrative didn’t address any transgender or non-binary or gender fluid individuals within this magic system. There is some queer rep towards the end but the society that enforces the “females must reproduce and perpetuate the magic lineage” mindset is also, unsurprisingly, homophobic. But hopefully this means the societal changes coming in the second book will confront these prejudices?

This was nearly a 5 star read for me. I’m curious to see what the sequel will bring. I do think the author should have addressed the non-binary individuals within the male/female magical abilities as pretending such individuals just don’t exist within the society didn’t seem believable. Hopefully these elements might be addressed in the sequel.

4/5 stars
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This one started out so well!! I was hooked on the story and the characters and I just couldn't put it down.  Then somewhere along the way about 40-50% in the story just started to fall apart and I was really wanting to just put it down.  It really started to drag and I just started to not care.  I did hold out to find out how this one ended and I will say that around 80% into the book it started finding its way again.  But by that time I just didn't care.  Sadly I think this one would have been a lot better if it would have been shorter.  There is so much that could just be filler.  I also do not think I will continue with the story unless the next one is way shorter than this one.
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Argentinian culture and folklore infused with contemporary and timely themes of immigration, family, and revolution—witches and werewolves in a magical school, finding the strength in oneself, and a constant challenge against sexist hierarchies or stereotypes, in the midst of a turbulent wave raging through a world that clearly mirrors today's society.
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Manu is on the run after her mom is taken by ICE and her grandmother is bedbound. She runs to the place where her father is from and finds out she's more than just what she is.

I loved this book! Garber tackled relevant and hard issues in a YA fantastical book. Topics such as undocumented immigrants, gender identity, sexism were just some of the themes in the book  and Garber made it so they paralleled Manu's human and fantastical worlds. I can't wait to read the next one!
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Romina Garber has grabbed onto my heart in such a way with this book and I'm absolutely here for it. 
The world she has created is incredible and that fact that it starts in my home city - Miami is just another thing I adore about this book. 

Manu's development throughout this story is also beautiful to watch. How she goes from a scared teenager to a brave Lobizona surrounded by friends and family - a Lobizona determined to change her world for the better and make it a safe space for her and her friends I just .. man I love Manu so much
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First we have to talk about that cover. Is it not just the most stunning cover ever? I just want to stare at it in HIGH RES!

Lobizona is a beautifully atmospheric, folkloric tale meshed with a modern YA boarding school story. And, it takes place in my home state!

We follow Manu as she navigates the world, both real and mystical. She is such an impactful character. She is young, homeschooled, and sheltered, having hardly been exposed to the outside world due not only to her illegal status in America, but also her strange, inhuman eyes. Manu cannot be seen by anybody outside her family, so she finds friendship and hope in the books she reads. Her love of the Weasleys was especially poignant, considering how she longs for that kind of kinship and family!

All of these close-held desires tie into her magical journey, in which she slowly learns about the Argentinian magic hidden in plain sight in the Everglades. She slowly befriends brujas Saysa and Cata, and even has a budding relationship with lobizón Tiago. Her friends are her greatest allies, and I loved joining them as they staked their claims in this world. All of Manu’s relationships grew and flourished, encompassed in a world straight out of Argentinian folklore.

I absolutely loved the way the Romina Garber wrote a story that explores themes of belonging and individuality in a sharply oppressive world. Her commentary on these issues--particularly that of ICE, immigrant status, and the American persecution of “illegal aliens” (a grossly dehumanizing term)--as well as the sexism and gender roles stereotypes Manu has to deal with are tackled with grace and uncompromising outspokenness. Though a story about werewolves, Lobizona is a very human story. The relatable characters are not denied their own growth and coming of age while current events and modern human rights issues are addressed with a deft hand.

If you are looking for a story rich in folklore brought up to speed for a modern audience, diversity, and the power of a teen girl’s coming of age, this is the perfect book for you. 

Thank you to Wednesday Books for inviting me to the blog tour and providing me with an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review!
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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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