Tag Archives: Magical Realism

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I remembered that I hadn’t yet written a review for THE RAVEN KING (nearly two months later) and when I sat down to write it, I just couldn’t put this book into real sentences. THE RAVEN KING was full of so many moments, so many things, and so many swoons that I just really had a hard time organizing them into long strings of perfectly formed paragraphs. Instead of struggling, I decided instead to switch over to my non-traditional review format with “10 Things I Felt About This Book” and let the feels fall where they may!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: April 26, 2016 by Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 29, 2016
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), All the Crooked Saints, Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1)

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE RAVEN KING

  • TERRIFIED. Oh boy, I was just plain terrified to read this. The end of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE left me with so much anticipation AND I hyped myself up for it so I was nervous that somehow it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
  • IN LOVE. I am so head over heels for this gang. I’ve never read a friendship that was so amazing and so all-encompassing like it is for Blue and her Raven Boys. Too many times, someone starts to get jealous and it ends up fracturing a friendship and while that was still present in this series (naturally. It happens to the best of us), it was taken to a level where the characters didn’t want it to affect the friendship and they did everything they could to keep the group together instead of letting jealousy take over. I love how much these characters wanted to be together and how important they were to one another.
  • IN DENIAL. THE RAVEN BOYS starts off with the prediction of Gansey’s death so it’s no spoiler that it’s heavy in everyone’s minds during THE RAVEN KING. I was in total denial that it would even happen so I pretty much spend the entire book convincing myself otherwise even though Maggie said it was definitely happening.
  • ACTUALLY FEARFUL. There were some ACTUAL scary moments in this book! I don’t read books about ghosts when it’s taken at a horror angle. I’m way too much of a chicken. There were some very, very creepy things that happened in this book and I will not lie to you — I cried actual tears of fear. I mean briefly, but yeah, it was scary!
  • IMPRESSED. I know Maggie Stiefvater had this all sorted out before she even started but I’m always so impressed to see an author bring a series together for a great conclusion. It was really neat to see how all of the pieces fit together and see so many things from all of the previous book find an explanation in THE RAVEN KING.
  • UNPREPARED. I just really, really, REALLY was not ready for this series to end. Confession? I actually felt SUPER weird once it was over. The cliffhangers from the previous books were so intense and interesting that it was really weird to leave this book with a note of finality. I mean, obviously we needed to but it didn’t leave me with that series hangover feeling because I wasn’t ready for it to end like that.
  • SHIPPY. I won’t spoil anything but obviously in a big conclusion, we get some big ship answers and conclusions as well. I was totally feeling them.
  • ANXIOUS. The hardest thing about reading a huge series finale is that A) everyone is so in love and B) there is no ARC so everyone reads the finished copy all at the same time. In a series like this, I was especially afraid of spoilers and they were so hard to avoid!
  • HOPEFUL. The way the book ended, there was a whisper of hope that maybe, just maybe, we might get more words about this gang in the future. I’m hoping for an adult Raven Cycle book,.
  • SATISFIED. This was such a satisfying conclusion. I actually was a bit — disappointed is too strong of a word but the best I can think of at the moment — at a big moment at the end because it felt too… happy? I mean happy things happen in this book but I think I was expecting a devastating moment and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually somehow hoped for it a little bit but I guess things really did work out quite well and it just wouldn’t have been the ending that it was had the book not played out like it did. Cryptic, I know, but how do you talk about the ending of a book without spoiling it?? 

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Buy it and read it, of course!

This is still one of my all-time favorite series. I really can’t wait until it’s time to re-read the whole series again knowing how it all ends!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN KING

             UNDER THE NEVER SKY

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE RAVEN KING is coming out early 2016 and I’m re-reading all of The Raven Cycle on audio before it comes out. I need a refresher on details and feels before I head into the last book of the series and oh boy, are these books sure giving me a heavy dose of both!

Since I’ve already done one formal review of THE DREAM THIEVES back when I first read it, I’m switching things up a bit with a bit more feeling and a little less analyzing with “10 Things I Felt About” THE DREAM THIEVES!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Mythology, Magical Realism, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 5, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints, Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1)

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys—a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface—changing everything in its wake.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE DREAM THIEVES

  • EMOTIONAL. Let’s be honest. My re-read of THE RAVEN BOYS stirred up all kinds of feelings and I was prepared to be emotionally wrecked again.
  • INSIGHTFUL. I actually didn’t feel as emotionally wrecked as I had thought (though some parts just killed me — looking at you, Blue & Gansey…) but I did feel like there were a lot of answers and there was a lot more set-up for BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE which was really interesting to see having read the first three books already.
  • IN-THE-KNOW. Like THE RAVEN BOYS, there were sooo many more clues and little things that I was able to pick up on knowing what I know of the series. It was so much fun to see those things and how much more sense they make, as well as how something small really does make a huge difference! (I wonder what I’m missing that’ll be important in THE RAVEN KING…)
  • MORE CONFIDENT. One of the big things I took away from THE DREAM THIEVES during my first read was that the ending was a bit confusing. I think I just didn’t quite wrap my head around what was happening and I was so excited to be reading the book and finishing it that I think I rushed through the ending and ended up confused on the details and these aren’t books you can rush. Knowing it was coming, I paid much more attention and listening to audio really helps because my eyes can’t skip across the page and miss something!
  • FORGETFUL. Not gonna lie… I remembered the things that stood out to me and forgot a lot of the details that actually happened in this book. BUT it was that much more exciting to re-read it! Like the Gray Man. Totally forgot how his story even closed in this book!
  • CONFUSED. … at why Kavinsky’s voice sounded like Christopher Walken on this audio hahaha. It did not seem like an appropriate voice for him, but okay.
  • IMPATIENT. I just didn’t want to put this audiobook down! This series is just so engrossing and all-encompassing.
  • RONAN-CENTRIC.loved learning so much more about Ronan in the book… In a way, it made me feel less and more for him. It’s sort of like the more you know about something, the less mysterious it is BUT those moments of Ronan affection really make you realize exactly how important and extraordinary they are.
  • SHIPPY. With all of the fan art and non-canon things I see floating around Tumblr, it was definitely important for me to re-read and experience each and every one of these relationships again. Not that I have anything against non-canon things but it does muddy things up a bit in my head sometimes!
  • CONTEMPLATIVE. I just keep thinking about ALL the things we learn in this book, what we already know from THE RAVEN BOYS, and what readers will learn in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and omg. It’s overwhelming. HOW WILL THIS END. I also fear for Gansey. 

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Re-read it!

You MUST re-read these book if you’re a fan of the series at all. I can tell you they just get even more magical.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE DREAM THIEVES

     THE ACCIDENT SEASON        PAPER VALENTINE

The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-DoyleTitle: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Publishing Info: August 18, 2015 by Penguin
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 21, 2015
Related Posts: Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she's ready or not.

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THE ACCIDENT SEASON was a really interesting and unique read for me! My first impressions were that it reminded me of books like PAPER VALENTINE, WE WERE LIARS, and UNSPOKEN and yet it was a book that really stood all on its own. The spooky and romantic atmosphere really brought the book to life and there were some really excellent moments all throughout!

I really loved the concept of “The Accident Season” itself. Every October, Cara and her family suffer countless accidents and injuries — even deaths — and Cara doesn’t really know why it happens. The question remains throughout the book and yes, the ending does provide an answer (thankfully)! The whole concept of it was just so interesting and shocking and curious and I really loved the answer as to why these things were happening and why they were only happening to Cara and her family.

I also really enjoyed the overlying theme of secrets. One character, Elsie, runs a “secrets booth” at school (which turns into a school project every year) so people drop their anonymous secrets there but each character in THE ACCIDENT SEASON is concealing a secret of their own and it was just so interesting to not only see those secrets revealed but also how they all tied into the main story line.  The structure was just great and I really appreciate how cohesive the story was.

I had a bit of struggle in the middle, though, I’ll admit. I was hooked from the beginning by the atmosphere and mystery presented to me but I feel like I got a bit lost in the second third of the book. My interest waned a bit — possibly when the story began to focus more on the characters than the mystery? — but it didn’t last too long because I easily fell back into that excited rhythm once all of the pieces started falling into place.

Overall, I really enjoyed THE ACCIDENT SEASON and it was a delightfully intriguing and spooky read. The book takes place during October (and Halloween) so it’s the perfect book to pick up during the Halloween season too! I can’t wait to hear the responses from fellow readers on this one!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

THE ACCIDENT SEASON gr updates

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Cara // Character Obsessions: Family, Elsie, secrets, romance, answers.
I really liked Cara a lot! She reminded me of a few other great heroines and I was definitely interested in her story. I liked that she felt like a good balance of normal teenager and concerned sleuth once she started investigating the weird goings-on. I didn’t always love her decisions BUT I also think that’s what made her more realistic!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Spooky vibes. I really loved the whole feel of this book! I’m not a horror person by any means so I love books like this where it’s spooky and a little scary but not enough to make me run away screaming! The atmosphere was dark and suspicious and it only made me want to read more!
Left Me Wanting More: Mystery in the middle. I felt a bit of a lull in the middle of the book when it dipped more into the character’s story lines rather than the mystery. It wasn’t that I disliked getting to know the characters better but I felt like the mystery sort of stopped for a while and it had been a great momentum that paused.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a really interesting read and I sort of wish I had read it around Halloween time! BUT now I can recommend it to everyone else for a great spooky or Halloween read!

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BOOKS LIKE THE ACCIDENT SEASON

(Click the cover to see my review!)

PAPER VALENTINE     UNSPOKEN

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 18, 2012 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Magical Realism, Mythology, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 25, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints, Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1)

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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I really fell in love with The Raven Cycle over the past few years and with the pending release of the LAST BOOK in 2016, I knew I just had to start re-reading them. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did! (And something I highly recommend for any fan of the series!)

Re-reading THE RAVEN BOYS was such a magical experience and the book was even better knowing all of the things that I do now. It was so much fun to have insight on some little things that I’m sure I didn’t even pick up on the first go around (mostly likely because there wasn’t any significance yet). It was so amazing to relive this story from the beginning, especially having the knowledge of what happens in THE DREAM THIEVES and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE.

The feelings once again were fantastic. I had a sort of notion in my head how things had happened in this book (after reading the other two, things sort of get muddied since obviously plots start changing and relationships evolve) and it was so great to see exactly how Blue met her Raven Boys and how these relationships started versus how they’ve developed and where these characters have ended up. The friendships and subtle romanticisms in this book are just delightful and it was so great to see the beginnings of these characters knowing exactly how much they grow throughout the series.

Maggie Stiefvater is absolutely brilliant with words. The prose is lyrical and really just flows so wonderfully, carrying the reader through book. I remember when I first read THE RAVEN BOYS, I had no idea what I was getting myself into (in a good way, of course). The only Maggie Stiefvater book I was familiar with was SHIVER at the time and the writing was much different, in my opinion, so I was a bit surprised to see how much more complex THE RAVEN BOYS was. My first read through took me just a bit to get used to the writing style but knowing the exact feel of the books now made it that much more magical for me as a re-read.

I won’t get super detailed since this was a re-read for me but I WILL urge you re-read this series as well if you’re a fan. It’s just such a wonderful experience to go through this story again from the beginning and I immediately wanted to jump into THE DREAM THIEVES! It was so hard to pace myself and not just binge the rest of the books but hey, THE RAVEN KING is still quite a few months away!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Noah // Character Obsessions: Friendship, camaraderie, subtlety.
I think the most interesting character for me to revisit was Noah (for obvious reasons for those who have read the series… no spoilers for those who haven’t). It was really fun to revisit his story again for the first time and to see how he interacted with everyone throughout THE RAVEN BOYS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lack of genre? I really love the blend of genres… or really lack of ability to put this series into a category. It’s not strictly paranormal or strictly mythology or contemporary or magical realism or urban fantasy. It’s sort of all of them or sort of none of them.
Left Me Wanting More: JUST MORE. I just need more, more, more of this series. I almost started the second book immediately after because I jUST COULDN’T WAIT. But ultimately I managed to pace myself.

Addiction Rating
RE-READ IT!

You HAVE to re-read these books if you’re a fan of the series! It’s so incredible to see this story start over from the beginning and relive this magic!

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BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN BOYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT     GRAVE MERCY

There Will Be Lies – Nick Lake

There Will Be Lies – Nick LakeTitle: There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake
Publishing Info: January 6, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 1, 2015

Shelby Jane Cooper is seventeen, pretty and quiet. It's just Shelby and her mom, Shaylene, a court stenographer who wears pajama jeans, stitches tapestry, eats ice-cream for dinner and likes to keep Shelby safe. So safe she barely goes out. So safe she doesn't go to school. Because anything could happen, to a girl like Shelby. Anything. When Shelby gets knocked down by a car, it's not just her leg that's broken: Shelby's world is shattered. Her mom turns up to collect her and drives off into the night, like it's the beginning of a road trip, like two criminals on the run, like Thelma and Louise or Bonnie and Clyde. And somehow, everywhere she looks, there's a coyote watching her, talking to her, telling her not to believe.Who is Shelby Jane Cooper? If the person who keeps you safe also tells you lies, who can you trust?

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THERE WILL BE LIES was a really different book for me… BUT not quite in the way I had hoped. I went in expecting an exciting mystery/thriller with some possible psychological twists (it seemed like that could be the case based on the title?) but really what I ended up reading was part thriller, part magical realism. I really wish I had known about the magical realism side — which was a very good chunk of the book. Maybe 30%? More? — because I actually probably would have passed on it. I am very, very picky about magical realism in books because it often times dances too closely on the line of reality which makes it unbelievable to me. In the very beginning of the book, I was actually really interested. It sort of held a Donnie Darko feel to it which really pulled me in but then the cut-aways to the magical realism scenes… just really hard for me to get through.

That being said, I really did like the thriller aspect of THERE WILL BE LIES. Shelby’s fate is essentially told to her (through the magical realism deal here) that “there will be lies” — two lies and then one truth that will change her life forever. Believing that to be true, Shelby embarks upon a mission to figure out what these lies (and truth) might be and it really does take her down a path that she never expected — and one I didn’t expect either! The story was really quite interesting and there were actually a couple of hooks I didn’t see coming which was really fun to read.

The style of writing was very unique as well. The dialogue was written a bit differently (in italics instead of quotation marks) and it tripped me up ever-so-slightly when I first started reading, but it also added a different feel to the book somehow, which I actually ended up enjoying. Later on in the book, the readers find out exactly why the book is written so differently and it was something that I thought was very impressive!

Overall the mystery/thriller side of the book did intrigue me and keep me interested, but every single cut-away to this magical realism side totally took away from my reading experience and once I got to the last portion and I saw why it was included, it felt totally unnecessary. At least to me, it felt like a series of dream sequences or something along the lines of Shelby working things out in her subconscious, and it was something I really felt that I would have connected with more if I had read it as a stream of consciousness or dialogue that she worked out with either herself or someone else. I wonder what my experience with this book would have been like had it not been for those elements. I think I could have enjoyed it so much more!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

TWBL

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Shelby // Character Obsessions: Baseball, her mom, reading.
Shelby was a really interesting character. I’m actually not quite sure why she was having the weird flashes to a dream world…? It wasn’t quite ever reasoned (I guess hence the magical sort of aspect) but clearly she’s also had a sheltered life and quite possibly it serves her as an escape as well. I really enjoyed her personality and admired how she handled situations as the book progressed, though.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Thrillers. The actual plot of this story was quite interesting! I liked where the story went and it really was not something I expected.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. What was going on in the real world was actually interesting! I just wish the book had spent more time there. I know I would have enjoyed it more if it was more of a straight-up thriller than including the magical elements — and I think the same goes for a lot of other readers too.

Addiction Rating
 Read some reviews before you try.

This one really wasn’t for me… I think it may come as a surprise to a bunch of people that is has a magical realism element because I surely didn’t know! I’d say check out some more reviews before you decide to commit to it. It’s over 400 pages so it’s a bit lengthy to read if you’re just iffy about it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THERE WILL BE LIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        BELZHAR       SHADOWLANDS

Re-Read: The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Scorpio Races – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 8, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 1, 2014
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints, Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1)

     It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
Others die.
    At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
    Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

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Naturally, I felt the draw to re-read THE SCORPIO RACES in October and November. It’s been a while since my first read and to this day, this is still one of the audiobooks I push the most due to its amazing narrators (Steve West as Sean and Fiona Hardingham as Puck) and of course, Maggie Stiefvater’s gorgeous prose and amazing story-telling.

A book about horse races. Not something I’d normally gravitate to much less fall in love with, but Maggie’s magical realism is supreme. There’s so much more to this book than just horse races — mythical water horses, the first girl to enter the annual Scorpio Races, a fight for the proper place in the world, bravery, loyalty, love. THE SCORPIO RACES is just the kind of book that draws you in and really gets you lost in the world that the author creates. Both times I’ve read this book, I could truly feel like I was on Thisby, watching these characters, running with the horses. I could almost taste the salt of the sea and feel the chilly November wind in my hair. Just thinking back on it now brings all of those feelings back and this book is definitely one I just love to tuck myself into.

This was actually my second time not only reading the book but listening to the audio. After reading it for the first time via audiobook, I couldn’t get it out of my head. The voice actors were just amazing and really brought the book to life. There’s no way I could read this book again and not have it be through the audiobook. It was a very familiar experience re-reading in the same format (lately I’ve been reading in print the first time around and then re-reading via audio, most often) and yet it was really a brand-new experience as well. Firstly, somehow in the this crazy reading world of mine, I had forgotten how the book actually ends. Obviously I knew it ended with the Scorpio Races themselves, but… did Sean win? Did Puck win? Did someone die? Did something insane happen? Somehow I didn’t remember the details and I don’t know how that happened but it did. That was kind of a good thing in a way though. The ending was suspenseful and emotional and like a brand new book. The second thing was that during my first read, I really wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. I had a brief understanding of what the book was about but I really wasn’t sure what the feel was going to be like or where the story would go. It was nice to know exactly where I was putting myself when picking this book up for the second time (well, aside from the ending, apparently) so it felt much more secure and there was a lot more excitement on my part as well.

I really just LOVE everything about this book. I was a bit hesitant during my first read simply because I didn’t know what to expect. THE SCORPIO RACES does have its action but it’s also a very character-driven book. It caught me by surprise when I first read it and I felt like it took a while to get into but knowing that during my re-read and pining for these characters and the magnetism they have towards one another (and to me as a reader), I was already head over heels for the both of them and for this entire story and setting and feeling before I even started.

THE SCORPIO RACES might end up being a re-read every year book for me! I absolutely loved reading it during the months that it took place. I think the more I read this book, the more I’ll fall in love with it. If you’re looking for a great audiobook, this is definitely one I’d recommend to sweep you off your feet!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Puck // Character Obsessions: Family, Dove, riding, the house, bravery.
I adore Puck (real name Kate). She’s brave, fierce, loyal, and so dynamic. After losing her parents, she fights to keep the family together, especially when there are so many obstacles in their way. I LOVE her ferocity and determination. She never stands down (almost to a fault) and she goes after what she wants in life. She’s just such a wonderfully strong character.
Sean // Character Obsessions: Corr, horses, racing, freedom. 
Sean — or should I call him Sean *dreamy sigh* Kendrick — MAY be one of my favorite broody characters of all time. He’s definitely broody but not in a pouty or annoying way like some male characters tend to end up. Oh, no. Sean has a reason to brood and he keeps to himself and he’s quiet but strong. (And let’s not forget the strong jawline, oh yes.) I just love him and fell even more in love with him during this read. (Doesn’t hurt that Steve West’s voice is amazing and I may be in love with him a little too.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical realism. When I first read this book, I honestly didn’t even know how to classify it and then I finally read a few books with more magical realism elements and thought that might fit in. Thisby is a unique place. You almost can’t even tell in what time period the book takes place and the wonderful thing of it all is that the only magical element, really, is the presence of the water horses. It’s perfect for those who like a mix of everything and maybe just a touch of fantasy. (I also love how unique and unclassifiable Maggie’s books are.)
Left Me Wanting More: Thisby. I finished my re-read and immediately wanted to listen to it again. This book has really become so magical for me. I want more Thisby, more Sean, more Puck, more everything.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I really enjoyed my first read but this is a book I will want to re-read many, many times! I fell in love with it even more this time and I think it’ll hold that same magic each time I come back to it.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE SCORPIO RACES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        GRAVE MERCY       FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS

Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar – Meg WolitzerTitle: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Publishing Info: September 30, 2014 by Penguin
Source: BEA 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 20, 2014

    If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.
    She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
    But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
    Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

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BELZHAR is a difficult book for me to review. While I enjoyed the book as I was reading it, a few things just didn’t sit right with me in the end and it left me feeling a bit confused about what I had just read and how I felt about it. (Then again, if I actually read synopses through thoroughly AND even remembered what they were before I read the book, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had such big issues. This is, however, a THING I do since I try to leave as many twists alive in a book as possible before I start reading.)

Well, BELZHAR (the “zh” pronounced like the “J” in Jacques, for those who didn’t know!) is a bit of magical realism, which is always hit or miss for me. I’ve loved books like FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS which has quite a bit of magical realism, but doesn’t shy away from the fantastical elements and then I find myself on the fence about books like BELZHAR which tend to stick to a mostly realistic world with a specific magical element — and I think that’s the part of magical realism that doesn’t quite work out for me. I love fantasy and I love contemporary but to mix the two in one book is a bit difficult for me. I’m more inclined to believe in the fantasy part of a story if there is more fantasy in it. If it feels too realistic, the magical elements feel too unbelievable. This of course has nothing to do with how the book was written — it was simply an element that was an important part of the book that I just couldn’t connect with as I was reading.

That being said, I actually enjoyed the contemporary romance/realistic fiction aspect of this. I actually had a lot of sympathy for Jam (well, in the beginning) because she had lost her boyfriend and she was going through such a rough time. As the book progressed, I really enjoyed getting to know her, but honestly, I liked some of the secondary characters more than I did Jam. Her despair became a bit taxing for me as I continued to read and as much as I wanted to continue to sympathize for her, by the end of the book (once we really find out the whole story with Jam and her boyfriend since she chooses not to reveal everything to her friends all at once), I was just really frustrated with the whole situation.

I just feel so CONFLICTED. I enjoyed the book as I was reading and yet, once I finished, I felt like I had all of these emotions that I didn’t feel while I was reading. It was a very confusing situation and ultimately, that really changed my overall view of the book. Those little things that just didn’t sit right with me were actually very big things once I really started to think about it so I came off totally torn.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Jam // Character Obsessions: British boyfriend Reeve, avoidance, despair, being alone.
Oh, Jam. I really wanted to like you. I really tried… But in the end, I just didn’t think you should have been the protagonist of this story.
Once I found out Jam’s FULL story, it actually changed my feelings about her entirely. I just really didn’t like her reactions and I felt like that really weakened her character for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Classics? I hadn’t read THE BELL JAR but from the book, I’m actually intrigued! I love when a book gets me interested in some classics again (though let’s be honest. I still probably won’t read it.)
Left Me Wanting More: Realism. Sigh. The magical aspect of this book just didn’t seem to fit for me. I feel like it could have been done a bit differently… but then again, I have no creative feedback as to HOW so what do I know haha. Overall, it just wasn’t something that sat well with me.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I just feel all over the board on this one. What do you think, friends? I feel like this book incites very mixed reactions amongst readers. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

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BOOKS LIKE BELZHAR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        tandem   nil

Fairytales for Wilde Girls – Allyse Near

Fairytales for Wilde Girls – Allyse NearTitle: Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near
Publishing Info: June 23, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Gift
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 24, 2014

    A deliciously dark bubblegum-gothic fairytale from a stunning new Australian talent.
    ‘He's gone the same way as those little birds that bothered me with their awful songs! And you will too, you and your horrible heart-music, because you won't stay out of my woods!'
    There's a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That's not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of things other people don't. But when the girl appears at Isola's window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help.
    Her real-life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – the mermaids, faeries and magical creatures seemingly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love they possess.
    It may not be enough.
    Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl's demise and appease her enraged spirit, before the ghost steals Isola's last breath.

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Wow, FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS is just so unlike anything I’ve really read before. It first caught the eye of Alyssa, Amy and I (well, I’m sure one of them saw it first and recommended it to me, actually) was the fact that it was billed as “bubblegum gothic”. We weren’t even sure what that quite meant, but we wanted it! We ended it up selecting it as our April read for our On the Same Page feature and I will tell you that “bubblegum gothic” is an extremely accurate description!

FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS follows the story of Isola Wilde — a teenage girl who seems a bit odd to the normal public (even her father). She grew up reading the fables and fairy tales of Lileo Pardieu, an author who she ended up idolizing for her fantastic and magical tales which also seemed to fit perfectly with Isola’s fantastical and imaginative reality. See, for Isola, those fairy tales were a bit more than just stories. She’s a girl who sees ghosts and mermaids and fairies that she’s collected as her “brother princes”, a sort of collective of friends and trusted advisors to council her and guide her on a day-to-day basis. To her friends and to her father, they’re just imaginary friends and possible serious delusions, but Isola knows they’re real and they’re the people who are always there for her. When Isola happens upon a dead girl in the precious Vivan’s Wood, her life slowly begins to change for the worst when this girl threatens to shatter her relationships and her safety.

Okay, so normally I don’t rehash the plots in my reviews, but I felt the need to give a brief explanation of what this book is really about. It’s an amazing mix of fantasy and contemporary wrapped in magical realism and author Allyse Near really leaves no stone unturned with each genre-specific feel. I don’t have a lot of experience with magical realism so I will say that sometimes it’s a bit difficult for me to follow. I’m used to reading worlds that are entirely real or worlds that are entirely fantasy so when the two combine, it’s hard for me to tell what is real and what isn’t and where the lines blur to create that middle where the book exists. It wasn’t always simple to figure it out, but I think that’s also the point of FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS and I really enjoyed the places this book took me.

The first thing I need to say about this book is that the writing is simply gorgeous. Allyse Near is a fantastic writer. Sometimes the use of metaphors is a turn-off for me but not with this book. They’re done superbly, excellently placed, and really just fit with the theme of the book. I loved how descriptive everything was and the words were so beautiful, really just flowing off the page.

One thing that was really special for me was Isola’s relationship with her brother-princes. Alejandro — the ghost of a young Spanish man who died at the age of 24 in Victorian London — was the first one we meet and naturally, he was my favorite (whispering to Isola in Spanish, hellooooo. Their relationship wasn’t romantic at all but I sure had a crush on him). Isola has a fantastic connection to each of her brother-princes and the love that they have back for her is so fierce. I loved that even though she was an only child, Isola had her siblings in that sort of way and they did everything they could to protect her and advise her and you could just tell the love that they had for one another was so genuine.
On the more contemporary and realistic side, Isola also has some semi-complicated relationships with her friends and family. She feels responsible for taking care of her mother who goes through spouts of mania and depression. She feels incredibly disconnected from her father who seems to ignore both of them for a majority of the time. She has a best friend James but their friendship started to get complicated with “feelings” getting involved; a best friend Grape with whom she always has a partner in crime; and a new friend Edgar that may develop into something romantic. Just like Isola and her relationship with them, each person is incredibly dynamic and complex and I just felt like each character in this book just leapt off the page.

I felt like the pacing of the book was just perfect. I never really felt a lull and the only time things tripped me up a little bit was when I was just trying to get a grasp on the balance of magical versus real. I think one of my only major hesitations was the ending, actually. I really enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t quite sure it sat right with me based on how I was reading the first three quarters of the book. The reader does get quite the resolution but I also felt like little things were sort of left open to interpretation and that made me second-guess how I had read the beginning and perceived that. I’m sure that’s not the case with everyone who reads the book, but for me, that was something that I was just a tiny bit unsure about.

FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS just felt so original and magical. It’s unlike anything I’ve read recently and I wish there was more access to wonderful Australian books like this for American readers (although Fishpond is a great place to start)! If you’re looking for a combination of fantasy, contemporary, and horror, FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS is a fantastic place to start!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Isola Wilde // Character Obsessions: Brother-princes, Lileo Pardieu, taking care of her mother.
Oh, Isola. What a character! She seems so mature and yet still allows the fantasy of fairy tales and bedtime stories to fully weave in and out of her life. It’s an incredible balance between the two. I really loved her quite a bit and her story was quite incredible.
Edgar // Character Obsessions: Family, art, Isola.
I really loved Edgar. He was more of a quiet, soft-spoken, artistic type and I kind of fell in love with him a little bit too. I really loved the relationship he developed with Isola and despite everything going on in his life (or because of that), he just seemed so solid and understanding.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark & twisty fairy tales. I loved how dark this book was and yet how it was still all about fairy tales. A darker fantasy. I’m always fascinated and FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS totally nailed it.
Left Me Wanting More: A concrete ending. So much was resolved at the end of the book but there were just tiny things that I wasn’t quite sure of that seemed to make a big difference for me.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you like fantasy and contemporary all combined into one, pick up this book! The writing is absolutely beautiful and amazing descriptive and I feel like this one will be an easy one for a lot of people to fall in love with!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Daughter of Smoke and Bone     The Graveyard Book

On the Same Page: Fairytales for Wilde Girls

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ON THE SAME PAGE: FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS
Darker Fairy Tales

April’s choice for our On the Same Page read was Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near. It’s an Australian-born book but I was so lucky to have received it for Christmas from my dear friend Amy (Tripping Over Books) and we had heard such good things about it that we decided to make it our April pick.

Don’t let “fairytales” fool you — there’s plenty beneath the surface of this book. It’s actually described as “bubblegum gothic” so if that sounds like something that’s appealing to you, I can tell you not to hesitate to pick this one up! It’s a giant ball of fairy tale, fantasy, contemporary, and magical realism all rolled into one but the fantasies and fairy tales aren’t for the faint of heart. Things get a little dark. Things get a little twisty. Things get a little horrific. And I loved the darkness of it.

So many people grow up on the milder fairy tales. Heck, we all love Disney (I surely will never deny that) but Disney adapted many fairy tales to show the softer side — the kid friendly side — and many of the adaptations out there don’t know the “true” nature of these stories. I mean, have you read a true, unaltered story from The Brothers Grimm? I was actually reading up on some original versions of fairy tales and found this article from The History Channel, actually, called The Dark Side of the Grimm Fairy Tales and Stylist Magazine details their choices for The Eight Darkest Fairy Tales which give you a little insight on the gory, gritty details of some of the originals. There are many, many things that have been cut out for the sake of protecting our ears and our minds! Fairy tales were not always for children. (Or maybe they were for scaring kids… Either way.)

I loved that Fairytales for Wilde Girls appealed to both the childhood nostalgia of fairy tales as well as a twist on what those tales actually were. It’s a story for the older crowds and yet still maintains that tug on the heartstrings of the child in us all. In honor of the darker side of these childhood-favorite stories, I’m sharing some of my own personal favorites as well as other darker and more sinister fairy tales for you to check out:

     

Still kid-friendly, Jon Scieszka has a couple of fairy tales modified to show a slightly darker side but still incorporate a lot of humor and not scare the kids too much. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man are two that I remember hearing as a kid that were fun, but didn’t always have a happy ending.

      

Gregory Maguire is obviously a popular one and actually, the broadway adaptation of Wicked and Gregory Maguire’s originally version is kind of a perfect example. The broadway show is one of my favorites. I love the pieces of music and I loved the retelling as adapted by Stephen Schwartz (you know… musicals will pretty much always reel me in) so I decided to actually try and read the book the musical was based off of. It was actually a LOT darker and more twisted than I had expected so it really took me by surprise (and oops, not in a good way) but if you’re looking for twisty retellings, Gregory MaGuire’s books are sure to shock you!

Speaking of The Wizard of Oz… Although the Return to Oz I’m referring to is the movie and not the book, it’s still kind of a twisty and darker adaptation that I know I’ve had discussions about before and my fellow Return To Oz-watchers kind of couldn’t believe we watched this movie as kids. Some parts are pretty terrifying and kind of disturbing even as an adult! Still kind of awesome, though.

  

I actually haven’t read them yet, but Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark & Grim books seem like perfect additions to this list! I got book one signed last year from BEA and I’m definitely looking forward to picking it up sometime. They’re middle grade books so although they’re darker, they’re also designed to not be too horrific so a bit younger of an audience can enjoy them as well.

    

Neil Gaiman: Now I’m a Neil Gaiman novice having only read The Graveyard Book and Stardust, but I feel like his writing fits perfectly in with this general theme. The Graveyard Book was definitely the darker of the two (which is almost amusing considering that was the one for a younger audience) but Stardust had more of the fairy tale feeling. (I would consider The Graveyard Book to be more straight-up paranormal-type.) I actually saw the movie for Coraline and still haven’t read the book yet but that definitely gives off the same vibe as well! I’m hoping to pick up Neverwhere soon because Alyssa has told me great things about it and I’d really like to make that one of my next Gaiman reads!

And of course, the book we came here to talk about today — Fairytales for Wilde Girls.  It’s definitely one of the more original books I’ve read and it combines so many wonderful elements to make one great story. I really got to know all of the characters, the setting, the plot — everything really just clicked and so the horrifying parts felt even more real and the personal relationships did as well. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get into things like magical realism or certain fantasy aspects but Fairytales for Wilde Girls just drew me in and I was mostly able to just lose myself in this book!

I know I’m missing SO many because there are just so many more darker or “true” fairy tales that I have to read. There’s still some collection of “true” fairy tales that I used to own as a kid that for the life of me I can never find, but I know it exists out there somewhere! Which ones are you favorites? I’d love to hear your suggestions! 

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts for Fairytales for Wilde Girls today too!

Alyssa — Books Take You Places (Quotes)  //  Amy — Tripping Over Books (Pins + Pinterest board)

 

 

 

SEE ME by Wendy Higgins – Cover Reveal!

Wendy Higgins, one of my favorites, has a new book coming out this fall called SEE ME! She’s actually self-publishing this one since it’s got an interesting twist to it and I think it’s going to be really exciting and different! I was also chosen to be one of Wendy’s beta readers for this book and I couldn’t be more excited! You know how much I fangirled over SWEET EVIL so being able to beta read one of Wendy’s book is so incredibly exciting and I’m forever grateful to her for choosing me!

Before we reveal the cover to you, here’s a little info about the book — And I really hope you’re excited for this one!

Title: SEE ME
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Genre: YA Romance and Magical Realism with a dash of Fantasy
Where You Can Purchase: eBook: Amazon, B&N, Kobo ($3.99); Paperback: Amazon, Createspace ($10.99) — This book will not be available for preorder. This book is being self-published by the author and her agent.
Author Bio: Wendy Higgins is the author of Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril from HarperTeen. She lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband, daughter, son, and puppy Rue.
Synopsis from author Wendy Higgins: “While most seventeen-year-old American girls would refuse to let their parents marry them off to a stranger, Robyn Mason dreams of the mysterious McKale in Ireland, wondering how he’ll look and imagining his cute Irish accent. Prearranged bindings are common for magical families like her own, however when she travels to the whimsical Emerald Isle she discovers there’s more to her betrothal and McKale’s clan than she could have imagined.
What starts as an obligatory pairing between Robyn and McKale morphs over time into something they both need. But one giant obstacle stands the way of their budding romance: a seductive and deadly Fae princess accustomed to getting what she wants—and what she wants is McKale as her plaything. Love, desire, and jealousies collide as Robyn’s family and McKale’s clan must work together to outsmart the powerful Faeries and preserve the only hope left for their people.”

Find SEE ME on Goodreads: See Me by Wendy Higgins

IRISH FANTASY AND MAGICAL REALISM. How cool is that!? I’m excited for a different kind of magic and some possible leprechaun lore!

Okay. NOW. I know you’re waiting for the cover and I think it’s pretty fantastic, so without further ado…. The cover for SEE ME!

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I love the shamrocks and all the green!! I can’t wait to read about Ireland and some Irish fantasy!

Hope you guys enjoyed the cover reveal!
You can also find out more about Wendy and her books at the links below!

Website || Twitter || Sweet Evil || Sweet Peril