Bone Gap | Book Review

Bone Gap

bone

Released: March 3, 2015
Pages: 368 (hardcover)
Theme(s): Identity, belonging, stereotypes
Genre(s): YA, contemporary, magical realism
Age Group: 12+
Source: UTD Library
Buy it: Book Depository | Amazon

Summary: 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.

My Goodreads Rating: ★★★

  My Thoughts  

Bone Gap takes place in the summer before the protagonist Finn O’ Sullivan’s senior year. While he is preparing for college applications and entrance exams he finds himself falling in love with the angry bee keeper Petey. But he’s also plagued by the guilt of having witness his friend and brother’s girlfriend Roza be abducted. The biggest problem is no one believes she was abducted.

Half the book is from the perspective of Finn trying to get on with his life and navigate relationships with his older brother, who he feels resents and blames him, and fall in love with Petey, a girl who’s different from every other in town. The other half of the book, we follow Roza and her life imprisoned by a man who’s waiting for her to fall in love with him. In these chapters we see her life leading up to how she arrives in Bone Gap.

Overall, this felt like a read unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. It’s hard to place the time in which the story is set, so it almost feels timeless. This ambiguity really aids the ethereal atmosphere of the story, along with the limited perspective we receive in the majority of the story being told by two partially unreliable narrators as Finn is kind of an oddball who sees the world differently and Roza is undergoing psychological trauma.

Since I don’t really know how to talk about the story without spoiling anything, I thought I would just talk about some of the characters in this review!

Finn

Finn is, frankly, an adorable protagonist. He almost doesn’t even seem like he could be real. There are no real character faults with him. That being said, he’s not even a Gary Stu! He’s clueless about the world and those around him, but there’s a reason for it that I’d love to talk about but it might be considered a spoiler! So I won’t.

Roza and Petey

At first, I was startled and uncomfortable by the level of focus on appearance in this novel, particularly the stereotypical negativity and bad luck associated with Roza’s apparent beauty. But then I realize it was emphasized not only on purpose but also for a specific reason. The two main female characters of Bone Gap are very much foils in terms of looks and personality. We find out mid-book that they were actually even friends before Roza was abducted. It’s a surprise not least because they have both lived two very different lives shaped by their looks.

Roza, who is supposed to be very beautiful, has been plagued with trouble all her life because of her beauty. All her experiences with boys are tainted with aggression and possessiveness. It’s like she’s a magnet for misogynistic jerks, in her home country of Poland and in the U.S. where she studies abroad. These horrible experiences all cumulate in Roza’s misfortune of falling prey to the attraction of her abductor, who makes it very clear throughout the book that he wants her because she is beautiful.

Petey, on the other hand, is never explicitly described directly or indirectly, but it’s hinted at throughout the book that while she might have a nice body, her face leaves something to be desired. When her relationship with the beautiful Finn becomes public, the whole town is suspicious. They think Finn must only be after one thing. So it’s ironic that while Petey is not “blessed” with a beauty, she would so easily find a nice guy who sees her as she truly is and not just her outward appearance.

It’s a not a new idea in literature that beauty is only skin deep and that what should matter is on the inside. But in Bone Gap we see a more nuanced critique of how beauty is still something that is valued and commodified in society today. This book just takes it to the extreme to show how the person benefitted by the commodification is not necessarily the beholder of the beauty. In this book we see there is a lot we may not see if we are not looking beneath the face. And that’s a sad reality. Everyone (but silly Finn) saw Roza’s outer beauty, but just like with Petey, no one saw the inner beauty.

Final Thoughts

Bone Gap is a carefully crafted, stunning read that left me feeling strangely off-balance after reading it. The mystery and characters were excellent, but I’m not sure I would not say I was immediately blown away by this book. It took me a while to think about the story and why I appreciated it. It’s not one I would was I’d reread for fun, but it is one that I’m glad to have read and know will stick with me.

My main critique of this novel is that I found the climax utterly anti-climatic. I usually like magical realism, but in this novel rather than serving to enhance my emotions or the prose, I feel like it cloaked very important parts of the story in ambiguity that was a bit frustrating when I wanted to know what was really happening! I was satisfied with the ending, however, so that was something.

Let me know if you’ve read Bone Gap and what you thought in the comments! I’d love to hear what you thought!

Thank you for reading!
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Books I Want to Reread in 2016.

reread2016

I’ve always been someone who enjoyed rereading my favorite books. Especially before I entered the book blogging community when I had trouble discovering new and interesting books on my own. But since I’ve become a book blogger, the reading of new books began to take precedence over the rereading of the old. So when I started seeing so many bloggers post about the books they want to reread this year, I was eager to jump on the bandwagon!

I do not think of this as a comprehensive list, there are certainly others I might also want to revisit this year. But at the moment, these are the books I’ve been longing to reread, not just for myself but also to help inspire my writing.

Classics

These are some the books I fell in love with in high school. They’re books that changed me and influenced the person I wanted to be. I’m interested in rereading them now because I feel like they’re still important books to me and I hope to be inspired by them again.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I read this book for the first time in my junior year of high school for AP English III. I had borrowed it from an older friend, because I was not sure I wanted to spend money buying it if I wasn’t going to like it. It turned out that I was incredibly moved by it and ended up buying it that summer.

I think this book was be polarizing for students forced to read this book for school because it’s a book that you have to be right age and the right state-of-mind to appreciate. I’m sure many people will never get there because empathy with the Holden Caulfield is integral to understanding the story, and many people just don’t get it because they’ve never been in his shoes..

Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger

After reading The Catcher in the Rye, I was desperate to find everything J.D. Salinger had ever published. I was disappointed to find that no other novels existed (that we know of), but that there were short stories available. I had never really read short stories before for my own enjoyment, other than for classes.

Franny & Zooey is my favorite short story collection of Salinger’s, and I might even like it more than The Catcher in the Rye. I’ve long thought that this story continues where Holden’s story left off, after his mental breakdown. There’s almost no resolution at the end of the novel, and in Franny & Zooey I think you’re left with a lot more hope.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

This short story collection is satisfying if you want to read more about the quirky Glass family you’re introduced to in Franny & Zooey. There’s a lot of melancholy and room for reflection in these stories. I’m interested in reading this collection again, not just for enjoyment but also to help me think about how to create my own short fictions for my anthology project this year (see Writing Goals for 2016.)

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This classic novel by Kurt Vonnegut is another favorite I was exposed to as result of my AP English III class. We didn’t actually have to read it for class (it was cut from the schedule for some reason), but I read it on my own and was blown away.

This book makes you feel all the feelings. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s partially science fiction, it’s a story of war. There’s sadness, horror, and still somehow humor. I remember reading this book and being inspired to live life more meaningfully.

Writing Inspiration

These are the books I want to read because there are things I think might help me as I work on my own writing this year. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is to read authors whose work you’d like to emulate and these books all have something that’s inspired me, including excellent world-building. So naturally, these books are all fantasy series (basically).

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I marathoned this series very quickly over a week or so in October. It was insane. I still can’t believe how quickly I read them. I partially want to reread them so I can take my time and appreciate them better than I did the first time, and even review them! But I also really appreciate the world-building of these novels. They’re unique for YA fantasy. And I want to determine for myself what I think went wrong in the final book (which was disappointing, particularly after the stellar second book).

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkowski

This series I jumped into just because I wanted to see what the hype was all about. The beautiful covers had me thinking it would be “chick lit” in fantasy disguised, but that isn’t quite right. The first book started off very romance-heavy, but by the end there was an amazing turn of events that redeemed the entire book and led me to jump directly into the sequel. WHICH WAS EVEN BETTER. It was a lot more political intrigue and action, everything I loved most about the first book. And the world was unique as well, unlike anything I’d ever read and also strangely fantasy-feeling in atmosphere despite there being no magic!

The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen

This was my favorite series I discovered last year. It’s so different from anything else I’ve experienced before. It’s complicated to assign it a genre. I feel like I would categorize it as a New Adult fantasy set in a futuristic world. To say much else would feel spoiler-y because you learn more about the world as the story progresses. I’d love to write as unique and inspiring a series as Rutkowski does with here. I feel like these books are a little under-hyped, but if the movie plans go through I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about these books in the coming years.

Thank you for reading!
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Tooth and Claw | Book Review

Tooth and Claw

tooth

Released: November 1, 2003
Pages: 320 (paperback)
Theme(s): Family, religion, love, justice, loyalty
Genre(s): Fantasy, historical fiction
Age Group: 10+
Source: I bought it
Buy it: Book Depository | Amazon

Summary: A tale of love, money and family conflict – and everyone in the tale is a dragon, red in tooth and claw.

A family of dragons gathers on the occasion of the death of their father, the elder Bon Agornin. As is custom, they must eat the body. But even as Bon’s last remains are polished off, his sons and daughters must all jostle for a position in the new hierarchy. While the youngest son seeks greedy remuneration through the courts of law, the eldest son – a dragon of the cloth – agonises over his father’s deathbed confession. While one daughter is caught between loyalty to her family by blood and her family by marriage, another daughter follows her heart – only to discover the great cost of true love…

Here is a Victorian story of political intrigue, family ties and political intrigue, set in a world of dragons – a world, quite literally, red in tooth and claw. Full of fiery wit, this is a novel unlike any other.

My Goodreads Rating: ★★★

  My Thoughts  

Tooth and Claw is an slow-burning, but ultimately entertaining and worthwhile read! If you like the romance and societal critique of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the cut-throat and imaginative realization of dragons, you’ll love this book. Jo Walton creates a unique and exciting world set with well-imagined characters who you can almost forget are dragons!

I do not know anything about Jo Walton or the background history of what went into the creation of this book, but it’s clear that in addition to being a family drama, filled with loss, romance, and revenge via due process (really), there are critiques of gender, inheritance, and religion that are worth looking further into. Not only is the world created in the image of the regency time period, Walton also endowed the world with a rich cultural history that is apparent in snippets throughout the book.

Things I Liked

  • The “comedy of manners” aspect being applied to dragons. I really enjoy stories that essentially critique the manners and customs of society the way that writers such as Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde did in their contemporary works of literature. Despite the fact that the characters are all dragons, there is a well-defined system of societal ranking and titles that Walton establishes throughout the book so that it’s hard not to keep up.
  • The humor. There are just some really easy-going laugh-out-loud moments throughout this book.
  • The alternating perspective. There is no one main character of the book. The narration follows each of the Agornin family members, but also side characters of varying important to the overall outcome to the story. I like how this added some depth to the situations of the story.
  • The variety of characters. I didn’t have a favorite character, and in this type of book that was entirely okay. Throughout the book, I felt the same about all the Agornins (except the eldest sister, her husband, and that retched parson of course)! But we are not supposed like them.

Things I Didn’t Like

There are only really two things I did not like about this book, the first relating to style and the second relating to plot. But I realize these things are just a matter of taste, as they completely suited the genre Walton was emulating.

  • The writing style used in this book is very reminiscent of literature written in the 18th and 19th centuries. There’s a lot more telling than showing. And the narration is partially restrained and a told from a distance, probably why I had difficulty truly connecting with any one character. But it works for the society about which the story is about.
  • The only complaint I have about the plot is the ending which was a little too convenient and tidy for me. Also it just wrapped up a little too quickly. I would’ve liked to see more of what happens to the characters after the resolution of the court scenes. Also, by the end the villains had a lot less bite to them.

Final Thoughts

I am happy I finally decided to give this book a read! I bought it from the Book Depository over the summer after seeing Jean Bookishthoughts talk about it on her BookTube channel. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Jane Austen or dragons, and is in the mood for something a little different. Although there are some gory aspects to this story, this book is not a heavy read. It never gets too dark and it end very much in a happy and just place for all the characters you grow to care about.

There’s something for everybody to enjoy in this short read. My only warning is that it is a little slow, particularly if you do not connect with the story or characters early on!

Thank you for reading!
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First Week of the Spring 2016 Semester.

First Week of Class

It is Friday as I write this post and it has been a long, weird week. On Sunday and Thursday, the world lost David Bowie and Alan Rickman respectively, both 69 years of age and both to cancer. Weird, sad coincidence. In addition, this was the first week I had back to school. I am taking three classes this semester, all of which run from 7–10 p.m. So this week has consisted of me trying to get used to this weird schedule.

If there’s one thing I can predict about this semester, it’s that I will be very busy. All my classes appear to be pretty demanding in terms of reading. The class I decided to take as an elective (Creating Interactive Media) actually seems like it might be the most difficult of them all, which is a major bummer because I was lukewarm about it to begin with. I’d like to talk about these classes in more depth, but to be completely honest I’m still not 100% sure what they’re all about. My favorite so far seems like it will be my Monday class: Digital Textuality.

I’m hoping to stay on top everything this semester, so that I can read and blog without guilt or stress! I already have a substantial amount of homework to get done and I’m hoping I stick to the reading schedule I’ve designed for myself and it works out. After all, I still have other things I want to do!

Textbooks

This semester, I only had to buy three books. But two of the (most expensive) books are for my elective class (Creating Interactive Media) which is a class I have a feeling I will either end up loving or hating. Earlier today I placed an order on Amazon for the books I will need this semester, including:

Understanding-Comics-Scott-McCloud           about_face_the_essentials_of_interaction_design-alan_cooper-25327055-3770658108-frntl          large_9781592537563

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud.

This book is for my Digital Textuality class. The big project for the semester is a portfolio in which we select a story and translate it into four different modes: text, image, video, and sound. So I guess this Understanding Comics book is to get us to think about how the images/text of comics work in a way that will help us think about different modes.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper.

Since I don’t know exactly the point of this class or what we’re supposed to be doing, I have no expectations about this book. Hopefully it will end up useful in the future.

Universal Methods of Design by Bruce Hanington.

I have a feeling this book will be more important for the class because the instructor emphasized it in our first meeting this week. Since I’ve never taken a hardcore design class before, I have no background knowledge helping me form expectations about research in design beyond what little I picked up from my technical communication classes last year during my undergraduate studies at ISU.

future purchases…

Last summer I applied for the Amazon Credit Card because it seemed like a smart thing to do given that I shop on Amazon so much throughout the year and using it to buy things I’d buy anyway I could save up points to use towards Amazon purchases. Anyway, I have about $22 worth of points saved up that I almost used, but I’ve decided to save it for my birthday coming up in February.

I’ve not bought physical books in such a long time, since early October and, although I don’t need to, I’d like to treat myself soon! I already know what I think I’d like to buy: The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkowski in hardback. After the cover change scare that rankled the book blogging community a couple of weeks ago, I was so glad I hadn’t invested in the paperbacks (the way I normally do). And although I have my issues with these books, in particular the first one, I think the covers are gorgeous and I want them purely for vanity reasons!

Reading Update

Last weekend I ended up finishing two books! I didn’t read much over the break, so I’m really happy to have finally read and get this new year off to a good start. First, I finished Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton, a book I had started on New Year’s Eve I think. It was a pleasant read (★★★). It was very much reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice and that regency time period and had a very unique world (filled with civilized dragons). I only found it a little slow because of the way it was written. Also it ended all a little too conveniently for me.

Then I read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, which I picked up from the library last Friday along with a few other books. I had actually read the first couple of chapters before leaving for Christmas break, but hadn’t had enough time to finish it. It was beautifully written but poorly plotted (in my opinion). I had several issues with it, leading to merely a ★★★-rating. 

I struggled deciding what I wanted to read next after two unique fantasy novels. So I randomly decided my next read will be Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I think it will be a contemporary novel with some magical realism to it. I like magical realism so hopefully this is a pleasant read. My friend Ely from Tea & Titles enjoyed it so that’s a good recommendation!

Thank you for reading!
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My New Year’s Resolutions for 2016.

·.··.·.·.  My 2016 New Year’s Resolutions  ・.·.·.··.·

I love setting goals and I find that New Year’s is the best time to think optimistically about what I want to accomplish. Even though we’re about a week into 2016 and I almost didn’t create this post, I’m happy I have because reflecting on what I would like to accomplish this year has inspired me to kick my butt into shape and start being productive. There are few things that make me happier than ending a day feeling like I’ve been productive and I’d love to be able to look back at the end of 2016 and appreciate what I’ve accomplished in the past year.

➴ Reading Resolution

I set my Goodreads Reading Goal at 60 books for the year. I regret not setting 52, averaging at simply one book per week. But in 2015 I was so close to 60 books and I hardly read much at all at the end of the year that I feel confident I’ll read 60 books if I keep at it.

➴ Writing Resolution

I want to finish my first novel and also write 12 short stories, one per month. I started the novel I’m currently working on in NaNoWriMo 2015, and it’s evolved a little since then. But overall I’ve not been able to think about much else. I’d really like it to be the first in a series. I’ve even worked on plotted the series as a whole. The main thing that’s been holding me back in making more progress on this novel at the moment insecurity and procrastination.

I’ve long been thinking it would be wiser to start smaller and work my way up to a novel. Filmmakers often start small with short films. I originally thought I might try to write 12 novels this year, but since I’ve yet to finish a novel at all in my time as a writer, I’ve decided instead to shoot for 12 short stories. I’m thinking of making it an anthology collection united around a certain theme or idea.

I plan to elaborate more on my writing plans in a separate post in the near future. 

➴ Blogging Resolution

I want to be a better blogger this year. I don’t want to have any productivity slumps. I want to be consistent this year with everything I want to do. I want to pre-schedule posts and stick to a good posting schedule. I also want to comment regularly on the blogs I follow and overall just be a good community member.

End Note

There are a few other goals I have for 2016, but none that I can think of that would have concrete products or evidence of the goal (yet). For example, I know I would like to work on becoming more fit, but I don’t have set goals for what that would necessarily look like. Also, I want to do more art this year, but I don’t have a numeric goal or particular project in mind at the moment.

What are your opinions on new year’s resolutions, or goal-setting in general? Do you have any new year’s resolutions this year? If so, what are they? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading!
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