Blog Tour + Excerpt: Lobizona by Romina Garber


Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)

Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Published: August 4, 2020

Pages: 400

Synopsis

Some people ARE illegal. 
 
Lobizonas do NOT exist. 
 
Both of these statements are false. 
 
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida. 
 
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered. 
 
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong. 
 
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence. 


MY REVIEW

I immediately wanted to read this when I saw that it was about immigrants. It’s such a hot topic in real life. It actually really hits close to home. Thank goodness, my mom got her American citizenship years ago.

This book did an amazing job shining a light on the fear and hardships for people who are hiding from ICE. All Manu wants is to fit in and stop hiding. She’s been hiding all her life and she’s tired of it. One day, things come to light and she’s on the run. She ends up finding more people like herself and joins this magical academy. As soon as, she’s finding her rhythm and feeling like she’s fitting in, she’s forced to make another choice.

I really loved Manu and her band of friends. Not only does this put a spotlight on immigration, it puts a spot light on great friendships. There’s also a love interest and I wasn’t completely sold on it. I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love. I had a hard time not judging Manu for being so naive at times. I know she’s been sheltered but there’s a lot of things that could have been avoided with some communication and not running away. I actually really enjoyed the f/f relationship more than the Manu + Tiago relationship.

I wish we would have gotten more world building. What Garber is trying to create here is so fascinating and I really was wishing for more. I had so many questions. The magic was really cool and is another place I wanted more.

One of my favorite things about this is the feminism in it. They question the boundaries and gender rules that are enforced between the brujas and Lobizon. Sonya is definitely an activist and I can’t wait to see what she does in the next book. She’s a great influence to push changes. Manu has an opportunity since she’s the first female Lobizon(a).

Overall, this was such an interesting read and really shines a light on important issues. I enjoyed my time in this world and can’t wait to come back. I hope that we get a lot more of the magical world in the next book.

Thank you, Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books for providing me a copy to review. Also, for reaching out to join the blog tour!


Author Bio

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core. 


Buy Link: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/lobizona/ 
 

Social Links:  Twitter@RominaRussell // Instagram: @RominaGarber 

Excerpt

I awaken with a jolt.
It takes me a moment to register that I’ve been out for
three days. I can tell by the well-rested feeling in my bones—I
don’t sleep this well any other time of the month.
The first thing I’m aware of as I sit up is an urgent need
to use the bathroom. My muscles are heavy from lack of use,
and it takes some concentration to keep my steps light so I
won’t wake Ma or Perla. I leave the lights off to avoid meeting
my gaze in the mirror, and after tossing out my heavy-duty
period pad and replacing it with a tampon, I tiptoe back to
Ma’s and my room.
I’m always disoriented after lunaritis, so I feel separate from
my waking life as I survey my teetering stacks of journals and
used books, Ma’s yoga mat and collection of weights, and the
posters on the wall of the planets and constellations I hope to
visit one day.

After a moment, my shoulders slump in disappointment.
This month has officially peaked.
I yank the bleach-stained blue sheets off the mattress and
slide out the pillows from their cases, balling up the bedding
to wash later. My body feels like a crumpled piece of paper
that needs to be stretched, so I plant my feet together in the
tiny area between the bed and the door, and I raise my hands
and arch my back, lengthening my spine disc by disc. The pull
on my tendons releases stored tension, and I exhale in relief.
Something tugs at my consciousness, an unresolved riddle
that must have timed out when I surfaced . . . but the harder I
focus, the quicker I forget. Swinging my head forward, I reach
down to touch my toes and stretch my spine the other way—
My ears pop so hard, I gasp.
I stumble back to the mattress, and I cradle my head in my
hands as a rush of noise invades my mind. The buzzing of a
fly in the window blinds, the gunning of a car engine on the
street below, the groaning of our building’s prehistoric elevator. Each sound is so crisp, it’s like a filter was just peeled back
from my hearing.
My pulse picks up as I slide my hands away from my temples
to trace the outlines of my ears. I think the top parts feel a
little . . . pointier.
I ignore the tingling in my eardrums as I cut through the
living room to the kitchen, and I fill a stained green bowl with
cold water. Ma’s asleep on the turquoise couch because we
don’t share our bed this time of the month. She says I thrash
around too much in my drugged dreams.
I carefully shut the apartment door behind me as I step out
into the building’s hallway, and I crack open our neighbor’s
window to slide the bowl through. A black cat leaps over to
lap up the drink.

“Hola, Mimitos,” I say, stroking his velvety head. Since
we’re both confined to this building, I hear him meowing any
time his owner, Fanny, forgets to feed him. I think she’s going
senile.
“I’ll take you up with me later, after lunch. And I’ll bring
you some turkey,” I add, shutting the window again quickly. I
usually let him come with me, but I prefer to spend the mornings after lunaritis alone. Even if I’m no longer dreaming, I’m
not awake either.
My heart is still beating unusually fast as I clamber up six
flights of stairs. But I savor the burn of my sedentary muscles,
and when at last I reach the highest point, I swing open the
door to the rooftop.
It’s not quite morning yet, and the sky looks like bluetinged steel. Surrounding me are balconies festooned with
colorful clotheslines, broken-down properties with boardedup windows, fuzzy-leaved palm trees reaching up from the
pitted streets . . . and in the distance, the ground and sky blur
where the Atlantic swallows the horizon.
El Retiro is a rundown apartment complex with all elderly
residents—mostly Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Argentine immigrants. There’s just one slow, loud
elevator in the building, and since I’m the youngest person
here, I never use it in case someone else needs it.
I came up here hoping for a breath of fresh air, but since
it’s summertime, there’s no caress of a breeze to greet me. Just
the suffocating embrace of Miami’s humidity.
Smothering me.
I close my eyes and take in deep gulps of musty oxygen,
trying to push the dread down to where it can’t touch me. The
way Perla taught me to do whenever I get anxious.
My metamorphosis started this year.

I first felt something was different four full moons ago, when I no longer needed to
squint to study the ground from up here. I simply opened my
eyes to perfect vision.
The following month, my hair thickened so much that I had
to buy bigger clips to pin it back. Next menstrual cycle came
the growth spurt that left my jeans three inches too short, and
last lunaritis I awoke with such a heightened sense of smell
that I could sniff out what Ma and Perla had for dinner all
three nights I was out.
It’s bad enough to feel the outside world pressing in on me,
but now even my insides are spinning out of my control.
As Perla’s breathing exercises relax my thoughts, I begin
to feel the stirrings of my dreamworld calling me back. I slide
onto the rooftop’s ledge and lie back along the warm cement,
my body as stagnant as the stale air. A dragon-shaped cloud
comes apart like cotton, and I let my gaze drift with Miami’s
hypnotic sky, trying to call up the dream’s details before they
fade . . .
What Ma and Perla don’t know about the Septis is they don’t
simply sedate me for sixty hours—they transport me.
Every lunaritis, I visit the same nameless land of magic and
mist and monsters. There’s the golden grass that ticks off time
by turning silver as the day ages; the black-leafed trees that
can cry up storms, their dewdrop tears rolling down their bark
to form rivers; the colorful waterfalls that warn onlookers of
oncoming danger; the hope-sucking Sombras that dwell in
darkness and attach like parasitic shadows . . .
And the Citadel.
It’s a place I instinctively know I’m not allowed to go, yet
I’m always trying to get to. Whenever I think I’m going to
make it inside, I wake up with a start.
Picturing the black stone wall, I see the thorny ivy that
twines across its surface like a nest of guardian snakes, slithering and bunching up wherever it senses a threat.
The sharper the image, the sleepier I feel, like I’m slowly
sliding back into my dream, until I reach my hand out tentatively. If I could just move faster than the ivy, I could finally
grip the opal doorknob before the thorns—
Howling breaks my reverie.
I blink, and the dream disappears as I spring to sitting and
scour the battered buildings. For a moment, I’m sure I heard
a wolf.
My spine locks at the sight of a far more dangerous threat:
A cop car is careening in the distance, its lights flashing and
siren wailing. Even though the black-and-white is still too far
away to see me, I leap down from the ledge and take cover
behind it, the old mantra running through my mind.
Don’t come here, don’t come here, don’t come here.
A familiar claustrophobia claws at my skin, an affliction
forged of rage and shame and powerlessness that’s been my
companion as long as I’ve been in this country. Ma tells me I
should let her worry about this stuff and only concern myself
with studying, so when our papers come through, I can take
my GED and one day make it to NASA—but it’s impossible
not to worry when I’m constantly having to hide.
My muscles don’t uncoil until the siren’s howling fades and
the police are gone, but the morning’s spell of stillness has
broken. A door slams, and I instinctively turn toward the pink
building across the street that’s tattooed with territorial graffiti. Where the alternate version of me lives.
I call her Other Manu.
The first thing I ever noticed about her was her Argentine
fútbol jersey: #10 Lionel Messi. Then I saw her face and realized we look a lot alike. I was reading Borges at the time, and
it ocurred to me that she and I could be the same person in
overlapping parallel universes.
But it’s an older man and not Other Manu who lopes down
the street. She wouldn’t be up this early on a Sunday anyway.
I arch my back again, and thankfully this time, the only pop I
hear is in my joints.
The sun’s golden glare is strong enough that I almost wish
I had my sunglasses. But this rooftop is sacred to me because
it’s the only place where Ma doesn’t make me wear them,
since no one else comes up here.
I’m reaching for the stairwell door when I hear it.
Faint footsteps are growing louder, like someone’s racing
up. My heart shoots into my throat, and I leap around the
corner right as the door swings open.
The person who steps out is too light on their feet to be
someone who lives here. No El Retiro resident could make it
up the stairs that fast. I flatten myself against the wall.
“Creo que encontré algo, pero por ahora no quiero decir
nada.”
Whenever Ma is upset with me, I have a habit of translating her words into English without processing them. I asked
Perla about it to see if it’s a common bilingual thing, and she
said it’s probably my way of keeping Ma’s anger at a distance;
if I can deconstruct her words into language—something detached that can be studied and dissected—I can strip them of
their charge.
As my anxiety kicks in, my mind goes into automatic translation mode: I think I found something, but I don’t want to say
anything yet.
The woman or girl (it’s hard to tell her age) has a deep,
throaty voice that’s sultry and soulful, yet her singsongy accent is
unquestionably Argentine. Or Uruguayan. They sound similar.

My cheek is pressed to the wall as I make myself as flat as
possible, in case she crosses my line of vision.
“Si tengo razón, me harán la capitana más joven en la historia de los Cazadores.”
If I’m right, they’ll make me the youngest captain in the history
of the . . . Cazadores? That means hunters.
In my eight years living here, I’ve never seen another person on this rooftop. Curious, I edge closer, but I don’t dare
peek around the corner. I want to see this stranger’s face, but
not badly enough to let her see mine.
“¿El encuentro es ahora? Che, Nacho, ¿vos no me podrías
cubrir?”
Is the meeting right now? Couldn’t you cover for me, Nacho?
The che and vos sound like Argentinespeak. What if it’s
Other Manu?
The exciting possibility brings me a half step closer, and
now my nose is inches from rounding the corner. Maybe I can
sneak a peek without her noticing.
“Okay,” I hear her say, and her voice sounds like she’s just a
few paces away.
I suck in a quick inhale, and before I can overthink it, I pop
my head out—
And see the door swinging shut.
I scramble over and tug it open, desperate to spot even a
hint of her hair, any clue at all to confirm it was Other Manu—
but she’s already gone.
All that remains is a wisp of red smoke that vanishes with
the swiftness of a morning cloud.


2 thoughts on “Blog Tour + Excerpt: Lobizona by Romina Garber

  1. OOOH that cover though 😍😍😍 this actually sounds really interesting. I don’t mind the insta love so much… it depends. I can be picky lol but I I think this one sounds worth adding to my TBR. Great review Leslie 🧡💜💙💝🧡💜💙💝🧡💜💙💝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Emer!! Oh yeah, it’s definitely worth the add! I really enjoyed it, for the most part. I can’t wait for book two because I’m hoping she expands on a lot of things. It was set up to be good, I think!! :):):):) <3<3

      Liked by 1 person

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