BABY BOOK REVIEW: WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

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WELCOME TO ANOTHER BOOK I CAN’T REVIEW

Of course, it happened to debut at #2 on the NYT Bestseller list. Because I just can’t seem to like what OBVIOUSLY MUST BE A GOOD BOOK. (see An Ember in the Ashes, Red Queen, etc)

Anyway.

I’ll admit that I didn’t finish this one. I don’t know if maybe I wasn’t in the mood, or if it isn’t just me, but this one didn’t strike me. I don’t like books where the MC (and her love interest) are under a certain age, because then it becomes absolutely unrealistic to me if they fall madly,deeply in love, the kind of love that ends worlds. I was once fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, etc. That age group of people are not capable of the kind of love that is pushed in books. Now this has become the beginnings of a rant about aging, and I didn’t mean that, and I didn’t necessarily see that when I skimmed this one.

The other problem was the nature of the book- she’s called a witch, not some kind of elemental, or even just lucky, and that crosses the line for me. Maybe I should have realized that before, but there’s a difference between being some kind of mutant/having a superpower and just straight up magic, which I don’t like.

I’m sorry that I didn’t love this one, because I was really looking forward to it after the western beauty that is Vengeance Road, but I’m not going to say I wouldn’t recommend it, because I think for the right audience it would be fabulous. That audience just wasn’t me.

Have you read it? Did you like it? 

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REVIEW: BONE GAP

“You can slip into the gap and never find your way out.

Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.”

SUMMARY (GOODREADS):

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.

MY THOUGHTS

Baby Review:

So, my first thought when I reached page 6 of this book was ‘Why didn’t I pick this up sooner?’ And that feeling stayed with me through the entire novel. A melancholy mystery, both thrilling and sticky as molasses, Bone Gap is as good a novel as I have ever read. I’ll admit that it was hard at times, when I was halfway through the book and I still couldn’t describe it to anyone who asked me what it was about better than ‘A girl went missing and there’s bees.’ And yet I still give this book 5 out of 5 stars for the way it wrapped around me like a warm blanket and made me feel like I was drowning in honey. In a good way- a great way.

THE PLOT:

One of the most confusing books I’ve ever read, Bone Gap is the kind of book that doesn’t release any of the answers to your many questions until far, far into the novel. If you’re a reader who likes to have a piece every few pages, you’re out of luck. All through the novel you’re left with question after question, building and building until you can hardly stand the anticipation and the wondering. Finn is a peculiar sort, Petey is wild and open, Sean is dark and brooding (also my favorite), Roza is beautiful and earthy, and you never know more than that when you’re reading. The plot has a sort of melancholy feel about it, and the music playing in my head was the theme of shows like Eureka and Granite Flats. Slow lazy, with the feeling that you don’t really know what’s lurking beneath the surface of the sleepy little town you find yourself in. Bone Gap is like that, delightfully creepy, nerve-wracking in the best sort of way because the danger could come from any direction, from any of these happy town people working away at their respective jobs.

Anyway, if I’m being honest with you all, I’ll tell you that you probably will have no clue what’s going on for most of the book. If you’re like me, you won’t care, and you’ll adore it for the rich, vibrant writing and the promise of a thrilling conclusion. Peppered with POV changes and flashbacks, this novel made me swoon with all the detailed history, the well-placed humor just when you think you’re going to drown in the honey molasses melancholy that surrounds the characters.

When there’s finally an answer to your questions, when you finally understand what the heck is going on, you still feel a little confused. I wish it had happened slower, but then if it was slower, it wouldn’t have been as (for lack of a better word) magical. Because it was magical, the way every tiny detail you’ve been learning about the town and its residents twine together and finally, finally you can see the whole story woven out like a tapestry and you understand. That final moment of clarity (which I’m still getting more glimpses of) make you truly aware of just how amazing this book is. So go read it. Now.

THE CHARACTERS: 

I love pretty much everyone in this book, and the way their relationships grow and change. Take, for instance, Finn and Petey (Priscilla). At the start of the book, Finn and Petey are the outcasts- strange, avoided, pitied. But as they grow into themselves and start to see each other (and others) for who they really are, they change. And the town changes with them, changing opinions and acting on them almost as one entity (a hivemind, if you will). Finn learns about himself with the help of Petey, and his determination and intensity is hard to balance- but Laura Ruby destroys it. She makes Finn into someone relatable even with the corn whispering to him, she makes Petey wild and fierce and lovable even with her insecurities and inner demons (figuratively, of course). No one gets annoying  in this book (except the Rude boys) which is a miracle in itself. It seems like at some point in most books the main character becomes so frustrating and irritating that you can’t help shaking the book as if you can knock some sense into them, but not Bone Gap.  There was never a moment when I wanted to skip over dialogue or inner feelings, and I’m so, so happy about that.

Even the villain in this story is so amazingly crafted- a mystery inside an enigma, blurred to the point of terrifying normalcy, never quite in view but always there, invading homes and lives and worlds. He crosses the line between fantasy and reality, jumps between worlds to enter your waking nightmares. And that’s all I’m going to say about him, because any more would make it less fun for you.

Sean and Roza, though. The most beautifully understated love story of all time. I ached for their POVs, because when they happened, it was such a soft, easy love story to fall into. Told in bits and pieces marked by the pain of separation and loss, their story winds into something beautiful, almost as if they didn’t know they were falling in love and you get to watch this new discovery of feelings. But Sean- how can I describe him? You’ll just have to go read the book. He’s so quietly heroic, and everyone sees him as the hero, but when you catch glimpses of the sadness in him, you can’t help but feel heartbroken. And you can never hate him for not going to find Roza because you can just feel that even living is almost too much for him,, let alone facing that despair of not finding her day after day after day. Roza, for her part, is wonderfully brave and bold, fresh like the dew and beautiful as the dawn, opening the world of Sean and Finn and then ripping that away when she’s stolen. A powerful sense of loss followers her story, but never so much that she gives up. She always keeps going, always looks for a way out, never forgets her home even when it seems impossible to get back. I could write 1000 more words about how much I love them, but I think you all should just pick up Bone Gap  and find out for yourselves.

WHAT TO WATCH (SPOILERS): 

There was some material inappropriate for younger teens- Finn is very clearly a teenage boy, and he thinks like one. He also acts like one. Petey is a teenage girl, and they do end up having sex, though it is not graphically described at all, only brushed over enough that you know it happened. One of the characters also ends up being gay, but that’s only commented on near the end of the book briefly. Other than that, there’s also a touch of the unknown- could be magic, could be imagination, or it could be another world entirely. But that’s all.

OVERALL: 

I feel like I shouldn’t talk about this book any more, lest I give something away. All I can emphasize is how much I loved . It easily jumps to the top of my favorite books so far this year, and that’s saying something. I’ve read a lot of books so far. 10 of 5 stars, okay? Bone Gap  is what every person should read to understand what the YA genre is about- it’s raw, it’s real, it’s magic in a place where magic doesn’t seem to exist, with unforgettable characters that reach in and grab your heart before you can put up any walls. It’s seeing the same world from different eyes, and that’s something we should all be aware of. We all belong to this world, and we shouldn’t step on anyone else because they see it differently than we do. Maybe the way they see it is going to save someone someday.

Questions? Comments? Books you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

RED QUEEN

“You should know the difference between secrets and lies.”  

Official Summary: (goodreads.com)

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the center of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book. I really did. The writing was smooth, the idea of it was so magnificent, the setting was gorgeous and well-defined…so why don’t I remember it? The simple fact is that while everything else twisted and wove through the story like milk and honey, the characters fell flat for me. Mare, our heroine, is too…bland. Something about the way she reacts to every situation seems too little, too late, and she isn’t as striking as she needs to be to make this story work. I thought better of the Scarlet Guard members, but they appeared too infrequently, and when they did, it seemed as though they faded within just a few pages. And the princes. Oh, how I wished them to be more than they were. My hero was dull and never really did anything too heroic, which soured this book for me, because while I love a rip-roarin’ heroine, I like it better when she has a hero to keep her motivated, even if it’s not because he’s her hero. And his brother wasn’t much better, not until the very end, anyway, all pale and quiet and inconsequential in the heat of his brother and Mare’s chemistry.

But the writing aside from that was very good, descriptive without drowning you, giving you enough to imagine but not taking the fun out of it. And I did really like the premise and the execution of the storyline, but for me to be interested in the rest of the trilogy, I need the characters to come to life, and they didn’t do that for me.

What to Watch: (Spoilers!)

Honestly, in terms of what to watch, it’s pretty much nothing or everything depending on your perception. To me, the Silvers had simply mutated, developed abilities and then developed their own elite society, so those traits became stronger. Other people perceive it as magic. If that’s the case, this book is a huge no-no, because that’s the premise and the story revolves around these powers.

Other than that, you may want to be cautious of the violence- though it only appears sporadically, it does include torture and sometimes death, and it can be gruesome to those with a tender stomach. But that, you might be able to discern from the cover- a silver crown dripping blood, representative of the red blood of Mare infiltrating the Silver domain.

Overall, I liked this book, and would have loved it if the characters didn’t feel so forced. So bland. But that, of course, is only my opinion, and I would love to hear yours!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

 UPDATE: NOW A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! Congratulations, Victoria Aveyard!!!

Update 2.0: I don’t know how I liked this book. Looking back, attempting a reread, I think I must have been blinded by hype, swept up in how other people feel. Because I hate this book. It bores me to tears, and the characters still have no flavor. I was going to try Glass Sword, but I get the feeling it’s not much better. Yikes.

BETWEEN THE SPARK AND THE BURN

“People like you don’t go mad, Vi. They’re quiet on the outside and loud on the inside and sane as the day is long”  

My Rating: PG-13, for some language, sexual content, and horror elements

Official Summary: Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

My Thoughts: (SPOILER ALERT) Basically this whole post is a spoiler, because this book is a sequel.

I hated this one. Book one was a fantastic roller coaster of romance, thrills, and mystery, and in book one, ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’, you fall in love, along with Violet, with River Redding, the enigmatic hotshot. And in book two, River goes to find his evil brother and Violet falls in love with his brother, Neely. Even though you already love River. The idea is that she parallels her grandmother, who was also in love with two boys in her day, but it ends up just being frustrating and you lose respect for Violet and even Neely with his ‘kisses full of sunshine.’ Which makes me sad, because everything has to be a love triangle. And then they find River, and he’s crazy. That’s right, an absolute loon, sparked to the brim with his brother’s mind control to make him think he’s the sea king of a little island. But, enough of my hatred. Here’s what to watch in this book:

There is some cursing, not too much, but Violet gets pretty angry sometimes. And the sexual content- well, there’s a love triangle, and River, with his mind control and in his sleep, gets Violet to do things she thinks she’s dreaming about. So, to prevent her from having sex with River first (because even she admits that she wants to) she does it with Neely. Nothing graphic, just subtle hints that “later, much later” there’s some bare skin and some ‘feels’ moments that no one feels because you’re just angry that suddenly she’s in love with Neely.

But the big issue is that you don’t know where Neely, River, and their brother Brodie get their powers (the glow, the spark, the burn). You get the feeling that it’s just a genetic mutation that gave the family these different powers, but even so often you wonder if it’s something more sinister. Violet even speculates that these boys are descendants of the devil. Which is not a good thing. I prefer to choose that the powers are a result of a genetic thing, like the X-Men, but some more conservative readers may choose otherwise.  It’s up to you.

The first book (unreviewed) was awesome, but if you read it, stick to it, because this one was a sore disappointment. But then, that could just be my love of River pouring into my disappointment that the mind-blowing writing was wasted on a love triangle when a couple had already been established.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!