Lost in an Urban Labyrinth

My obsession with coffee and books is very apparent if you scroll through my Instagram feed. I follow more book/coffee/food pages than actual people.  I have notifications setup so when pages like Eat.Drink.Dish MLPS or foodieapolis (as well as countless coffee shops, bars, cafes, etc.) post something, my phone sends a ding of happiness my way. 🙂 So I had seen Urban Bean Coffee pop up in my Instagram feed a few times.

There are two locations – 2401 Lyndale Ave S. in Minneapolis and 822 West Lake St. in South Minneapolis/Uptown area. Since my son and I had just had lunch sitting by Lake Calhoun, we went to the Lake Street location. We considered hitting up both locations just to compare (well I did, Ben just sighs and agrees to tag along

First thing Ben notices is the giant stencil art on the walls throughout and the numerous clocks for different time zones. Quirky features are always his favorite and I agree. It is a large open space, exposed ductwork, bar seating, tables, window seats, large comfy couch – – really a spot for whatever mood or mode you are in.  There were several people there that we could tell had been settled in for a while typing away on laptops and highlighting textbooks.  It is for sure a great space if you want to relax, hang out with friends, or get some work done.

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The guy helping us out was pretty funny. I wish I had thought to ask his name at the time to give him kudos. He had a dry, sort of snarky personality and I liked him instantly.  Ben asked for a Hot Chocolate and I had the Bourbon Vanilla coffee (espresso, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla bean) with little animal crackers on the side. There are several things on the menu that sound good, so we’ll be making our way back soon.

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I thought it was pretty great how they took just as much care to make Ben’s hot chocolate as they did their other coffees. Ben loves coffee art, but more often than not, he doesn’t get any with his hot chocolates.  So when this guy took the time to create some coffee art for him as well, I was happy as both a coffee house lover and as a mom. And as a bonus, Ben loved his drink and drank it all! This might seem like a minor detail to some, but it’s the little things that bring people back and make you stand out.

The Bourbon Vanilla coffee was really good.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’ve had few bourbon coffee drinks that could knock a grown man on his arse, so I liked that I could actually taste the coffee in this one. It also wasn’t as sweet as I thought it was going to be, which is a huge plus. One other thing I really liked, after doing some research on this place, was that they get their milk locally from Autumwood Farm in Forest Lake and it’s pastries from Patisserie46. Anytime local products are used, I’m a fan.  Their coffees are through Intelligentsia Coffee and Four Barrel Coffee. I didn’t know what these two companies were when I walked in, but it is an interesting read if coffee is your thing! ❤

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As with the little things in a coffee house, it is the little details in books that will forever keep me coming back to an author. I’d never read anything by Zoraida Córdova prior to reading Labyrinth Lost, but the woman is an amazing storyteller.

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I really loved this book! The further I got into it, the more I was really glad it was the first book in a series.  This book was an amazing blend of cultures and religions – – Latin, Caribbean, African, Spanish, as well as some Hindu (I’m sure I’m missing a couple) – – it was beautifully laid out and intertwined.

The main story follows Alex as she struggles with coming to terms with her powers and the powers her family has had for generations. She blames their magic for several things that have happened in her past and fails to see the good. Her sisters, Lula and Rose, fully embracing their magic, cannot understand Alex’s hesitations.  Rishi is her best friend and the only one Alex feels understands her.  The relationship that builds between them is beautiful and incredible to witness.

In a moment of defiance, Alex does a spell on her DeathDay to get rid of her powers, which backfires and starts her adventure to claim back her family and who she truly is.  This is where Nova steps into the forefront as a main character; though we do meet him a couple of times before. He’s a brujo as well. He agrees to take her into Los Lagos, an in-between world, to save her family and be her guide. There are moments when my heart breaks for Nova, and moments I want to punch him, but overall I really loved his character.  He and Rishi are a perfect balance to Alex.

The best part of this story is the creatures we meet throughout their adventure in Los Lagos.  The stories and ideas are vivid, incredible, and sometimes terrifying.  I would get so sucked into the story that I would completely forget where I was or what was happening around me. That is when I know it is a well-written story!

There were a few nit-picky things here and there that got me throughout the book, but nothing major or that took away from the story.  It is well laid out, well-paced, and engaging.  I was flying through the last several chapters.

In a time where diversity and love need to have a strong voice, Cordova is definitely offering that through her writing. And again, it may seem like a tiny gesture adding some coffee art to a hot chocolate for an 11-year-old, but it spoke volumes to him and me.  We will be back.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to read this! Much appreciation!!!

About the Author: Zoraida Cordova

GoodReads: Labyrinth Lost ✰✰✰✰

Urban Bean Coffee ✰✰✰✰✰

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