September 29, 2022

BLOG TOUR Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp


Hi friends! I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp, organized by TBR and Beyond Tours. Check out the post, and makes sure to show the other tour hosts some love as well! The link to the schedule is below. 


About the Book

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Representation: Chicane, Mexican, Latinx

Fans of The Girl Who Drank the MoonPaola Santiago and the River of Tears, and Disney’s Encanto will be captivated by this fantastical novel about a girl who must learn to trust her ancestral powers when she comes face-to-face with the Mexican legend La Lechuza. 

Omega Morales’s family has been practicing magic for centuries in Noche Buena. But over the years, the town’s reputation for the supernatural is no longer one the people carry with pride. So Omega’s family keeps to themselves, and in private, they’re Empaths—diviners who can read and manipulate the emotions of people and objects around them. But Omega’s powers don’t quite work, and it leaves her feeling like an outsider in her own family.

When a witch with the power to transform herself into an owl—known in Mexican folklore as La Lechuza—shows up unannounced, Omega, her best friend Clau (who happens to be a ghost), and her cousin Carlitos must conduct a séance under a full moon in order to unravel the mystery of the legend.

Suddenly Omega’s magic begins to change, and the key to understanding her powers is more complicated than she thought. Omega will have to decide what’s more important—trusting the instincts of others or learning to trust in herself.

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REVIEW of Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza
Rating: 4 Stars
Format: ARC (Finished Copy Courtesy of Publisher and TBR and Beyond Tours)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for young Readers

Laekan Zea Kemp’s middle grade debut novel Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza is the perfect book for fans of Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Paola Santiago and the River of Tears and Kaela Rivera’s Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls. Filled with magic, adventure, figures out of folklore and legend, and a very lovable trio at the heart of the story, readers of all ages will connect with this book. 


On first look, Omega Morales seems like your average middle school girl. But the citizens of Noche Buena know that her family is different; specifically, that all of them have psychic talents to some degree. Things are rough for Omega though, because she’s still an anomaly in her family. She’s the only half-human, and as such her powers are weak (and unstable at best). When strange things start happening in town, she and her friends Clau and Carlitos must work together to unravel the mystery and save everyone. 


One of my favorite parts of reading books based on folklore and legend is the opportunity to learn more about different cultures and their history. La Lechuza was a relatively unknown figure to me, especially when compared to La Llorona and El Cucuy. It was fun to learn more about them, their background, and their shapeshifting powers (they are well known for appearing as an owl). Other figures like alebrijes and ghosts make an appearance in the book, and on a mundane level Omega’s family plays heavily into the story.  


The characters are the heart of the story. Omega’s always felt like the odd one out, and that plays heavily into the story. Clau’s ‘ghostliness’ also plays a role in the book, and Carlitos was a great addition to round out the trio. La Lechuza is, at first glance, the villain of the book and a ‘monster’ but she’s actually a very misunderstood figure. The same applies to Abby, Omega’s former friend who has turned to tormenting her in the wake of her grief (following the death of her mother a couple of months ago). 


Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza is an amazing debut, and I’m so excited to read more in this series. I loved the artwork interspersed throughout the book (courtesy of Vanessa Morales) that helped add depth to the story. I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy fantasy tales inspired by myth and folklore, complete with ghostly sidekicks, magic, and a bit of adventure. 


Thank you to the author, the publisher Little Brown Books for Young Readers, the team at TBR and Beyond Tours, and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book as part of my participation in the tour. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 


CW: Bullying, Grief


About the Author

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. Her debut novel, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet was a 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Recipient. In addition to writing she’s also the creator and host of the Author Pep Talks podcast, as well as a contributor to the Las Musas podcast. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health.

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September 28, 2022

REVIEW Eva Evergreen Semi Magical Witch (Eva Evergreen #1) by Julie Abe

Eva Evergreen Semi-Magical Witch (Eva Evergreen #1) 
by Julie Abe
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


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“No matter how far I flew, I never seemed to be able to catch up to her”

Julie Abe’s middle-grade debut, Eva Evergreen Semi-Magical Witch, is a whimsical and entertaining coming-of-age tale that emphasizes the importance of defying expectations, owning your talents and uniqueness, and the power of community. If you’re a fan of fantasy titles or the Studio Ghibli collection (especially Kiki’s Delivery Service), then I think you’ll enjoy this book. 

Eva Evergreen is the daughter of grandmaster Nela Evergreen, and she’s an apprentice looking to graduate to the next rank. The only problem is that she has a pinch of magic compared to her mother. As part of her quest to become a novice, she arrives in Auteri and becomes the town witch. However, she has her work cut out for her because the townspeople are very reluctant to trust her. They eventually warm up to her over the course of the month, enjoying her ‘semi-magical’ fixes, and everyone bands together once they realize ‘The Culling’ (the yearly storm that everyone fears will hit their town) is headed their way. 

I really enjoyed Eva’s growth in this book. She’s able to make her own path and come out of the shadow of her mother’s position and power, and that was so exciting to see. To quote Edward de Bono, “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Eva couldn’t fix the town’s problems in the usual way, so she came up with creative fixes. You go, girl! Semi-Magical Witch for the win. My favorite ‘fix’ was the spell that went slightly awry but ended up creating a tasty new treat everyone ended up loving. 

The rhyming nature of the magic in the book was fun. Each rhyme helped add to the whimsical nature of the book (I’m also impressed with how many rhymes the author came up with). It was cool to see the structure of the witch's and wizard’s society (grand master witches, novice witches, apprentice witches…) In addition to the magic system, there is also some traces of Japanese influence in the world of Eva Evergreen. For example, many of the town names are Japan-inspired. There are also various foods in this book that seem inspired by Japanese culture. 

All in all, Eva Evergreen Semi Magical Witch was a wholly magical debut from Julie Abe. Narrator Caitlin Kelly did a great job bringing the story to life with her performance in the audiobook. If a fantasy tale about defying expectations and creating your own path in the world sounds like something you would enjoy, then visit Eva Evergreen’s world today! I’m excited to be able to revisit the world in Julie Abe’s most recent novel, Alliana Girl of Dragons (a separate storyline set in the same world) as well as the sequel Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch.  

About the Book

Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic...

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before she turns thirteen years old. If she doesn't, she'll lose her magic forever. For most young witches and wizards, it's a simple enough test:

ONE: Help your town, do good all around.
TWO: Live there for one moon, don't leave too soon.
THREE: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.


The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers and gets a sunburn instead of calling down rain. And to add insult to injury, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep.

When she lands on the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: set up a magical repair shop to aid Auteri and prove she's worthy. She may have more blood than magic, but her "semi-magical fixes" repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, Eva's bit of magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she's grown to love. Eva must conjure up all of the magic, bravery, and cleverness she can muster or Auteri and her dreams of becoming a witch will wash away with the storm.
 

About the Author

Julie Abe is the author of the EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH middle grade fantasy series; the middle grade fantasy ALLIANA, GIRL OF DRAGONS; and the young adult novel THE CHARMED LIST. She has lived in Silicon Valley, spent many humid summers in Japan, and currently basks in the sunshine of Southern California with never enough books or tea. Keep up with Julie’s latest books and adventures at instagram.com/julieabebooks or sign up for her newsletter at julieabebooks.com/newsletter.

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