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Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Date Completed: November 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

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I was super excited but also super nervous to read CALL DOWN THE HAWK! I knew I’d love it but I was also scared to read about new characters and have some focus away from the Gangsey. Thankfully I was able to jump in and start listening to the audiobook right away, super excited that Will Patton was back for the CALL DOWN THE HAWK audiobook too!

I’ll admit that it was a little different and maybe slightly difficult to adjust to the new character POVs in CALL DOWN THE HAWK. It wasn’t a bad thing but I’ve re-read The Raven Cycle so many times now that I got used to the different voices there, including those that weren’t the main characters. I had to re-learn how to adjust to a new character AND how to adapt to the new story line that she brought to this new series which again, wasn’t bad but different. I definitely enjoyed Hennessy and the concept of a new Dreamer with a different story very much!

What I really loved above all else was how this series continues in the same world but it’s its own series. It’s one thing I love about Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. Now Maggie has… the Dreamerverse? The Raven Cycle established this world, these characters, and this magical ability and CALL DOWN THE HAWK just expands upon this idea even more. Like many other great fantasy authors, Maggie Stiefvater continues to reveal history and backstory like it truly is history and was always there. The new things we find out about existing characters continue to astound me and fold in seamlessly to her existing canon. We get to know side characters like Declan Lynch, who become main characters and expand depths upon depths that we never knew existed. Who knew that curmudgeonly, blah, controlling Declan had so many reasons to be so and there was so much more to him than we realized? I adored getting to know more about him in this book which was quite the surprise!

Of course I loooooooved reading more about Ronan and it was even interesting to see more about Adam peripherally through his POV. I actually liked that this focused more on Ronan and the Dreamer side of the story over Adam’s POV and how he was involved in the Gangsey side of The Raven Cycle. The separation made this more of its own series too, allowing new characters to become the focus and take us into the story. Adam’s story wrapped up in THE RAVEN KING and we do see a new character arc come into play, but now that’s more to do with Adam discovering who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his life for the first time and doesn’t really have to do with the magical elements of Ronan’s life. He’s able to be there for Ronan as someone who knows and understands what he goes through but he also needs to lead his own life and write his own story. It makes it interesting to see all of that from Ronan’s perspective too.

There’s so much that happens in this book that I feel like I already forgot so much but it was so interesting. Like The Rave Cycle, I immediately just wanted to stop and re-read… but I forced myself not to. I will definitely do a re-read again next year (starting with THE RAVEN BOYS and finishing with CALL DOWN THE HAWK) and I can’t wait to read this book again knowing what I know. I feel like it’s been so long since I read a new book in this world (three years since THE RAVEN KING?!) and it’s so special to be able to read something new with super fresh eyes and I’m equally excited to read it again and pick up everything new that I missed the first time around. You know it’s a fantastic book when you already can’t wait for the subsequent re-reads.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Dreamerverse. Yeah, I made it up, but that’s what I’m gonna call it! I looooved being able to read a new book in this same world but also have it be something that felt like its very own.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection in the beginning. The thing about these books is that they’re perfectly laid out. It took me a while to adjust and connect in the beginning BUT when I re-read, I won’t have that problem. These books and series are just so perfect but for me at least, I have to be so fully immersed in the world that things are even better on the re-read than the first read. I wished I had been able to instantly connect more but I know I’ll be in so deep with the next book and the next read.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

You MUST read the original series first, in my opinion. If you want to read the series independently of one another…… I guess you COULD read CALL DOWN THE HAWK first but I really, really wouldn’t recommend that. But if you did love The Raven Cycle, you should absolutely read CALL DOWN THE HAWK and get sucked into this new series!

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BOOKS LIKE CALL DOWN THE HAWK

             

The Disappearances – Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances – Emily Bain MurphyTitle: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Publishing Info: July 4, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 16, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

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THE DISAPPEARANCES sounded quite interesting with touches of magical realism and intrigue, but I just never quite clicked with it. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was quite boring so I’m sure that didn’t help, but I just didn’t really connect with this book on many different levels.

I did like Aila’s personality but there was something about her that just didn’t quite fit in the story. The historical aspect of the book just seemed unnecessary to a certain extent, and that’s not to say that an author needs a reason to set a book in a specific time period but I wished there had been something more to establish exactly why this time period was special besides the kids’ father being shipped off to war.

This was the type of magical realism that stretched just a bit too far beyond reality and was in that weird in-between state that asked me to suspend reality a bit too much, for my personal tastes. It was interesting to think about the different disappearances and why they were happening, but I didn’t find the answer satisfactory and it felt a little too cheesy. Plus, the addition of the Variants sort of took away from the atmosphere of the book when it could have been darker and grittier. (I mean, that’s just what I was hoping for.) Despite this being more magical realism, I felt like the Variants delved a little too into fantasy and things got a little muddy as the book went on. I wasn’t sure how much was supposed to be magical and how much was supposed to be scientific. There’s no right or wrong answer to that but I just personally didn’t love how everything was handled.

All of the little world-building additions just didn’t click for me either. There were neat things like games, sports, and traditions that were woven in that were unique and captivating but they really took me out of the story more than they pulled me in. They were things I enjoyed experiencing but it didn’t feel like it kept with the tone of the novel, or maybe I was just looking for a tone that wasn’t quite there (as I often spoil things for myself in that regard).

THE DISAPPEARANCES wasn’t a bad book but it just wasn’t the style I was hoping for and it really didn’t pull me. About halfway through I actually considered not finishing because I wasn’t really interested but then things started to evolve and questions were getting answered so I stuck with it. I’m glad I finished it but it didn’t shine for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical, I guess? This wasn’t in a contemporary time period so it was interesting to have it set in another time… I wouldn’t say I loved that aspect but it did change the way I looked at things!
Left Me Wanting More: Intrigue. I wish some of the more interesting concepts had been introduced earlier on to spark some more interest. There was some time spent with things I didn’t care about and I wanted to get into more of what was happening and why.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Some people really enjoyed this one, but writing this review so long after reading the book, I just remember being bored and not loving how the book was structured. I would personally say skip it but hey, it’s always worth looking into!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DISAPPEARANCES

             

Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake – Marisha PesslTitle: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Publishing Info: June 5, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Magical Realism
Date Completed: May 14, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend—changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers... and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

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I was not quite sure what to expect from NEVERWORLD WAKE and from the cover and synopsis, I was picturing a much more atmospheric read with a spooky, twisty vibe. There were definitely twists in this book but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been a straight mystery/thriller or straight magical realism with no mystery. I think magical realism is probably the most accurate way to describe what the Neverworld Wake is in this book… it’s a tricky sort of in between life and death but the way that it plays out, it had that feel for me.

I think it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting or hoping for. It was an interesting story with a complex ending but it didn’t stir up any feelings. I was hoping to feel suspense, thrills, and shock but it ended up being an evenly paced story that was solid but didn’t really stand out in many ways. It was really lacking that atmosphere that I was expecting, in part from the spooky vibes from the cover. Instead the tone was much younger than I expected and had more of a quirky feel to it but not in the way that I had hoped.

The actual concept of the Neverworld Wake and its set-up seemed a tiiiiny bit cheesy for me and I would have loved for the characters to discover some things themselves versus an all-knowing authority figure who knows the rules. It didn’t quite fit for me and ended up feeling sort of like a Hot Tub Time Machine scenario where someone sends everyone back to discover their wrong-doings. I think it would have been much better to have everyone sort of take their own journey rather that have some inexplicable man show up to guide them along and be generally ominous.

I did enjoy the mystery for the most part and I found it interesting. There were a few things I wasn’t expecting but it didn’t really surprise me, just that it turned out differently than I would have pictured. I was really hoping for quite a different direction here but the book was still enjoyable in its own way.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism, I think? I think we’d call this magical realism. There was a sort of real, magical feel to it but I’m not sure if that would be more magical realism or paranormal. I think the magical element fits better.
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWORLD WAKE

              

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: ALAAC17, Amazon, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 13, 2017
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), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1)

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

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Every Maggie Stiefvater read is such a unique experience and it’s something I love and wholly appreciate. It does, however, lead to some unpredictability for whether I’ll be wholly invested and re-read the book a million times (THE SCORPIO RACES, THE RAVEN CYCLE) or just really not connect with it (SHIVER). Unfortunately, ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS was not a hit for me.

This book is absolutely character driven, as are all of Maggie’s books that I’ve read, but this book was SO character-driven that I didn’t really feel like there was much of a plot. That’s okay — I don’t always need that — but I needed it with this book, especially with so much magical realism in the concept of miracles and how that affected all of the characters.

I was especially sad that I didn’t connect with really any of the characters. The potential was there but there were so many that the focus got spread out and we didn’t get to see that core development that I love so much. No wait. Strike that — because there are tons of characters in The Raven Cycle and I still love every single one of them, even the freakin’ crazy ones. So yeah… I guess it just wasn’t there for me.

The concept was interesting but ultimately didn’t take me anywhere and I didn’t feel like I got anything special from the book. I’m glad I read it because it’s Maggie and I will read whatever she writes but I’m pretty bummed with this one. At least with SHIVER I could tell it was more the concept of wolves that I wasn’t loving but this didn’t seem to really move, even for a character-driven book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Reading outside of my comfort zone. I definitely wouldn’t have picked this one up if it wasn’t Maggie Stiefvater. While The Raven Cycle and THE SCORPIO RACES are also in the realm of magical realism, this book bore a different feel of the genre and it’s not one I usually connect with.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I don’t need ACTION for a book to be enjoyable but I just kind of felt like I didn’t understand what the end goal was of this book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s Maggie, so it’s worth trying, but I think you’ll know right from the start whether you’ll enjoy it or not. I tried to see if I would enjoy it more along the way and it just didn’t come together for me.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS

          

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal Sutherland

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal SutherlandTitle: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
Publishing Info: September 5, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 21, 2017

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.

As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.

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A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES wasn’t what I was expecting, and then it was, and then it wasn’t — all in a good way. I thought this would be heavy on the magical realism based on the synopsis and then it turned more realistic fiction for a while, and came back as a blend of both. There was a lot of care taken when writing this book and it really shows through each of the characters and their own personal situations. I was really impressed with it!

The characters of this book were so wonderful and real and had such amazing personalities. Every single one has their own thing they’re dealing with and Esther blames this on the family curse, but there’s a lot more beneath the surface than she understands and more importantly, is willing to face. It was interesting to see both sides of that concept — from the magical realism/curse side and from the realistic side that really tackled mental health head on. It was addressed so well and I felt like it was a very realistic representation. The magic is both real and also a coping mechanism/avoidance method and I really enjoyed the blend between the real and the imaginary. The reader is left wondering how much is really magic and that’s something I love about magical realism when it’s done well!

This is also one of those realistic fiction novels that’s great for those who aren’t normally contemporary romance readers. The family is quirky and fun to read, the plot of the book involves a lot of fun instances where characters face their fears (some of them silly), and there are some really great representations of mental health on many levels. I liked that there was an actual plot with an end goal of conquering fears and the way they tackled each one was fun and also beautiful.

The characters really brought this book to life, every single one unique and beautiful. I loved getting to know this family and the people who supported them. I laughed, I cried, I was afraid, and I was happy. This book took me through so many emotions and I’m so glad I read it!
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Kept Me Hooked On: Quirky Families. It takes a really good author to write a quirky family without having them be goofy or over-the-top. This family had their quirks but they were fun to get to know and it wasn’t in a crazy way. Everything just felt right.
Left Me Wanting More: Pages! I really, really enjoyed this book. I can’t think of anything I was missing! I would just want to keep reading more but I’m also glad that it was a stand-alone and wrapped up the way that it did.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

No matter which genres you enjoy, this is such a lovely book. I would definitely recommend it!

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BOOKS LIKE A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES

          

Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moira Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moira Fowley-DoyleTitle: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Publishing Info: August 8, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 11, 2017
Related Posts: The Accident Season

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses - and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

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I loved Moira Fowley-Doyle’s atmospheric writing in her debut, THE ACCIDENT SEASON, so I was very excited to read SPELLBOOK FOR THE LOST AND FOUND which sounded fall-ish (it actually takes place in spring/summer. Oops) and I was very excited to start it when I received an audio copy for review!

SPELLBOOK FOR THE LOST AND FOUND has that air of magical realism and a touch of mystery, so it was an interesting read! The story overall didn’t really catch me as much as I had hoped because I felt like it took a little too long to set up and get into all of the inky details (yes, that is a Zenon reference — 10 points to you if you spotted it) and it felt a little lost (no pun intended) when trying to put the pieces together. Once the story really started coming together, it was actually really, really cool. There were so many things that I could have picked up on but didn’t (I was also working while listening so my brain wasn’t trying TOO hard to piece things together, which actually makes for a pretty fun experience sometimes) and I really loved the way everything resolved. The book didn’t feel long per se but it also didn’t really pull me through like I had hoped.

The characters were just… okay for me. Some of the personalities blended for a bit until I got to know them better towards the middle of the book, especially with essentially four different point of views happening in three to four different circles, until a few of the merged. I didn’t quite engage with the characters as much as I had wanted to but I did still connect with them. I think I would have rather had a bit smaller of a focus and gotten to know a few more of those characters better!

Hmmm I guess mild spoiler for the ending! I won’t give anything away but you know, end-of-the-book-talk: I did like how everything concluded but I also wasn’t sure if this really WAS supposed to be magical realism or just a “true story” (to the characters anyway) that only had seemingly magical properties. But then again, I think that was kind of the point. The characters are left wondering a little and there’s still an element of magic there but at the same time, so much was rationalized out that it kind of took away from some of that magic. So to be perfectly difficult, I liked it but didn’t all the same time.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I’ve been horrible about giving my narrator impressions lately so here it is! The author/setting/characters are Irish so I’m glad all of the narrators were Irish as well! There were three different female narrators to take on the points of view that predominantly narrated the story. I love Irish accents but I’m not used to listening to them on audio so it was different and also fun! I’m really glad it brought that atmosphere and setting to the audiobook because I personally would not read an Irish accent to myself in my head when reading a print copy so it’s nice to listen to those accents in an audiobook to keep me in the location that it takes place! All of the narrators were pleasant and I thought they did a great job! I didn’t find anyone particularly excellent like omg I need to listening to everything she narrates, but I would also definitely be up for anything they did work on in the future — I just wouldn’t go seeking books out specifically for any of them like I do with some of my favorites.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism. Magical realism was something I had never been interested in before and I actually picked this one up because it was magical realism. When done well, I love it. When not done well, it’s very hit-or-miss. This one was interesting but the twists actually kind of took away some of that magic for me.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. I think I was hoping for a bit more magic. The cover looks a bit more witchy and given the title, I was thinking this was more witchy than it was, but it was still enjoyable.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you like magical realism, you may like this book, or if you don’t like it, it could be a good intro to the concept. It’s a little split between magic, mystery, and contemporary!

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BOOKS LIKE SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND

          

A Million Junes – Emily Henry

A Million Junes – Emily HenryTitle: A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 17, 2017
Related Posts: The Love That Split the World

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

A MILLION JUNES was a very solid sophomore novel from Emily Henry with her debut, THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD, being one of my favorite reads of 2016. I’ve been having a hard time with sequels/sophomore novels lately so it was so refreshing to enjoy this book and get lost in the same sort of writing style that I experienced with THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD.

Emily Henry has a unique story-telling experience and her books are ones in which you totally lose yourself. While THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD was magical realism, it was a also a little bit science-fiction so it was really great to see the same sort of feel and concept with the magical realism aspects but ones that took the stage even more so in A MILLION JUNES. Depending on your view of the book, it’s magical realism meets paranormal and it’s truly a magical experience to read.

Possible spoilers in the rest of the review! No giveaways about specific plot points but things that may be a general spoiler if you want to go in blind to certain aspects of the shape of the book. The thing that I really took from this book the most is the family aspect. It’s not the usual family dynamic or lesson that you see in a lot of books because it approached the topic from a totally different angle. The O’Donnells and the Angerts have been in a feud for at least four generations and after the passing of her father, Jack IV (aka Junior aka June) is left to decide whether she wants to hold that grudge or let it go with her generation. Her mother still holds those feuding values although not as tightly as her father and and June loved her father so much that she had every intention of following in his footsteps until she falls unexpectedly head over heels for youngest Angert, Saul. Without rehashing the whole plot, throughout the book, June is able to experience the memories of her father through the “whites”, which are a sort of wraith or spirit (glowing white, hence the name) and through these memories, she learns a lot about her dad… and not all of it is good. The stories of the past lose shape and take on new ones the more they get told so June learns a lot about her family’s past, spanning back to the first Jack O’Donnell all the way down to her father and his relationship with his family, including June. She realizes that the truth about him and how their family history played out is very different than what she thought it was. It’s especially hard since he passed away when she was eight. She still idealized him and didn’t know some of the darker truths or grittier details and it was shocking to realize that her dad wasn’t as perfect as she thought it was, and I thought this was a really, really great concept to include in the book. It’s so interesting to think of your parents’ history. There are so many things I know about my parents through the stories they tell me of their pasts and childhoods and yet I know that there’s so much more that I don’t know or from which I’ve been shielded. It was really interesting to watch June go through this experience and wonder what exactly I’ve been missing from my own family’s history because it’s not a pretty story to tell. My parents have told me a lot of things throughout the years and I’ve gained a lot of family knowledge as we’ve grown up but it’s so interesting to think of really how much history there would be to learn when experiencing memories first-hand. There are only so many stories that get told and no one wants to constantly tell the negative ones so it was just a really curious thing to think about!

I really loved the connection between June and Saul. I loved the bond that brought them together so fiercely and how it was the requirement that they stay apart that patched their worlds. Their chemistry was excellent and I loved how real their characters felt. Both characters were simply them, not trying to be someone else and not wanting to be, and I could just feel their personalities really come through.

The ending was a little different than I thought it was and sometimes I have trouble when magical realism takes a little turn into a little bit more magical than I expected. There were a few things in the end that crossed over from magical realism into more of a fantasy-type concept so that changed the tone of the book for me a bit and I wasn’t a huge fan but it was still a solid ending to the book.

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD holds a special place in my heart for the way it made me feel and the books that it reminded me of but A MILLION JUNES is a wonderfully solid novel and great sophomore book from Emily Henry. I’m a big fan of her writing and the atmosphere that she creates in her books and I really am able to feel myself in the story. I’m up for her next adventure and I can’t wait to see what it holds!

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Kept Me Hooked On: The blur between reality and magic. While THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD was magical in a sci-fi way, this was definitely more magic and hedging on the paranormal. There’s still a possible bit of a sci-fi angle but I love the uniqueness of how reality blends with the impossible.
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I guess structure isn’t the right word, but the ending felt a little too… untethered. I think I just wanted something a bit more concrete and it kind of ventured more into the magic.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I love Emily Henry’s story-telling and this book continued on the great path of bending reality and expanding beliefs.

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BOOKS LIKE A MILLION JUNES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BONE GAP

Bone Gap – Laura Ruby

Bone Gap – Laura RubyTitle: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Publishing Info: March 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 11, 2016

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

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BONE GAP has been highly praised and sounded incredibly intriguing, often being marked as “magical realism” by several of its readers, so when I saw the audiobook pop in my options from Hoopla, I knew I really wanted to read it! I’ve been getting into magical realism more and more lately and it sounded like something I was definitely in the mood for, especially with its positive feedback.

I guess the biggest thing that stuck with me after finishing the book is that I’m not really sure in what category to put this book! It ended up being on a sort of Raven Cycle plane where it’s kind of magical realism, kind of mythology, and kind of its own genre. BONE GAP felt like took a while to get to the “magical” parts but there were some things that were constantly developing that finally blossomed into their full potential towards the end of the book, sort of causing that magical reveal. I do have to say, though, that I was hoping for a bit more of that throughout the beginning and middle. It definitely had a unique feel and was unlike anything I’ve ever read but I still struggled — as I have with a lot of books lately — in feeling connected to the overall concept in the earlier portions of the book.

The ending of the book seemed like a little too much at all once. The portions of the book with Roza were certainly leading there, and the reader is fully aware that what’s happening to Roza certainly isn’t normal, but the ending almost left me with more questions than answers in some respects. One big issue I also had with this book was my own interpretation of the synopsis.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised.

I accidentally took this statement literally, and with so many mentions of magical realism, I was assuming that the gaps were literal gaps in the corn field — like a Field of Dreams sort of concept — and people ended up disappearing. I mean, the town is named Bone Gap so I thought the gap was literal. Whenever I have misinterpretations like that, it really takes me a while to adjust, so that was more of a personal problem and I had to really refocus.

The bright, shining piece of this book for me what the interesting cast of characters! Finn, Sean, Roza, and Petey are such complex and interesting characters, with many different relationships to tie them together. I loved all of the different forms of love that are included in this book and how many different layers there were to each one. Each personality was so different too! The characters all have their strong points and each one really helps the others learn and grow. It’s a beautiful, tangled web and I really enjoyed each character that the book featured!

BONE GAP was cleverly written and wonderfully layered. The whole concept (aside from the magical aspects) was built upon a reveal that I didn’t even see coming until it was almost revealed and it was wholly unique and a little heart-breaking. I was impressed with Laura Ruby’s creativity, depth, and ability to plot out the whole book in ways that I hadn’t imagined. I always feel like it’s super impressive when I’m able to be caught off-guard because being an avid reader, I’ve just read so many different things that it’s always impressive to see even more originality in a book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Incredibly unique concepts. I love being able to read a book unlike anything else I’ve read before! In a blogging world where I’m constantly looking for read alikes, it’s very, very cool to read something that I can’t even compare to anything else.
Left Me Wanting More: Clarity. I had the minor (well, maybe more than minor) issue that I misinterpreted the synopsis and unfortunately, it did affect how I read the book. I also had the moments in the book itself where I just wanted a little bit more information on the world and the details.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Sadly I didn’t love this book but I also didn’t dislike it. It was a smooth read from start to finish but I do think that some things could have been described a bit more. Others have totally loved it though! I’m definitely interested in reading more from Laura Ruby and I’m excited to see what else she comes up with!

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BOOKS LIKE BONE GAP

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    SHADOWLANDS

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies – Lindsay Ribar

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies – Lindsay RibarTitle: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
Publishing Info: June, 7, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 12, 2016

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.
Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.
With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

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As much as I distrust THIS meets THAT comparisons on books, I’m always intrigued when something good pops out at me. When I heard that ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES was Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow, I knew I had to read it. I just love quirky, a little dark, and small town so this book was calling my name!

I haven’t watched Twin Peaks so I can’t say how accurate that comparison is, but I really was hoping for a little bit more of that Gilmore Girls sass, snark, and clever turn of phrases throughout the book. It was entertaining throughout and did have its own sass but it wasn’t quite as snarky and clever as I hate hoped for. The concept itself was clever and the book took a few turns I wasn’t expecting, but I was hoping for a little bit more in the character development based on that comparison alone (hence why I don’t like THIS meets THAT comparisons unless you REALLY mean them).

ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES was a interesting concept! I loved the magical realism concept which was great since magical realism is really hit or miss for me! It was right on that line that dances between magical realism and urban fantasy but I think it really leaned more toward the former since it’s just Aspen’s family with these unique abilities. The way the powers connected to the town and to nature were really great and I love how it seemed fairly straight forward right off the bat… until the book digs deeper and then everything becomes even more meaningful. I loved Lindsay Ribar’s ability to tell a story on so many levels and then bring you even further into the book than you were expecting.

Aspen’s character was wonderfully complex and I appreciated his struggle with morality when it came to using his abilities. Aspen is able to “take” things from people and this could mean many things — a physical feature (such as a mole or scar), a personality trait (competitiveness), or a fondness/affinity (a love of the water). His ability to do these things, especially without the subject’s knowledge, really brings in a level of morality that we never have to worry about contemplating. The magic to “take” gives Aspen a power that’s higher than human will. Even if he takes a thing that a person finds a negative thing about themselves, is removing that fear/embarrassment/ailment making their lives better or simply avoiding a problem that could make them a stronger person? Does he help improve someone’s quality of life or does that change destiny? It was a really interesting moral argument and I especially enjoyed this part of the book!

The characters had a delightful amount of quirk to them. The families were a bit eccentric, the love interest strong and independent, and the history between everyone long and complicated. The small town setting was really fun and I love how it makes everyone’s relationships that much more complicated. I was hoping for just a few more witticisms — mostly because I just had that expectation set up in my mind about the tone of the book — but it was a solid read and I definitely want to read more from Lindsay Ribar! 
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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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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism. The cool thing about magical realism is how different it can be and yet still be the same concept in so many books. Each book I’ve read that I’d place in a magical realism genre is so different and I’m really loving the different concepts that I’ve read so far! The first few I read were more misses so I’m really excited to see so many more that I’m connecting with lately!
Left Me Wanting More: Wit. I just love snark! And I love witty and clever and snark coming from a male main character. I don’t know why but it’s just SO much fun when male narrators — especially in YA — are clever and funny. I think maybe because I like the funny guys so I just really gravitate towards those books!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a solid read! I didn’t fall totally in love with it but again, I think that was maybe due more to expectation than actual content. It was a strong book with some really great history and backstory. The characters were unique and quirky but not overly so.

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BOOKS LIKE ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER    WHITE CAT

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