Thursday, March 05, 2015

Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


Title: Bone Gap
Author: Laura Ruby
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: March 3rd 2015
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult magical realism
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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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 rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm not sure what I was expecting going into Bone Gap, but it wasn't... this. I honestly don't know how to describe this novel; it's just really, really weird, in the best way possible. You could maybe compare it to Jellicoe Road, in the sense that you have no idea what's going for 90% of the book but it all makes sense in the end, or to Nova Ren Suma's writing, in the way both combine magical realism with contemporary mystery and superb characterization. But really, Bone Gap is unlike anything I've ever read before. It's a very unique book you'll either love or hate, and I happen to be on the love side.

Bone Gap took me a while to get into. It's very literary, and it's more challenging than most of the YA I read: it takes a while to process what's happening because half the time I didn't really know what was going on. And sometimes you have to stop and just admire the beauty of Laura Ruby's writing. So Bone Gap is definitely not a quick read. It also took me a while to get used to the narrative: Bone Gap is written in the third person and mainly told from the POV of the four protagonists, but every once in a while there's a chapter written from a secondary character's POV, or even some from the town's collective POV. Since I'm someone who usually prefers a simple first-person narration, this took a while to get used to, but the characters make it work.

The characters are what really makes Bone Gap come to life. Finn is an amazingly special character; he's incredibly fragile and vulnerable but fiercely loyal and strong at the same time, and I loved him from the first page on. How Finn sees the world differently from other people is excellently explored, and the reveal of his condition, or however you would call it, is fascinating, as it's something I'd never heard of before. I especially loved how that reveal is worked into his relationship with Petey. Their romance is perfectly handled and so realistic; I loved everything about them.

Even more so than Finn, I loved Roza and Petey. Both of their stories are fascinating and heartbreaking, albeit in very different ways. I really loved the contrast between the two female characters within the context of beauty: Roza is "the most beautiful" and might have to pay the ultimate price for it, while Petey is the ugly girl the whole town pities. The exploration of how beauty or a lack of it affects a person and is expressed in deep insecurities in both of these characters is expertly handled. I identified more with Petey's story, but both of them are very relatable and realistic. I absolutely loved both of these girls and very much appreciated the message the story sent in regards to beauty and gender.

The secondary characters all have their own stories too and seem almost as realistic and complex as Finn, Roza, and Petey. The only character that I didn't think was explored quite enough is Sean; I wish we had a couple more chapters from his POV in order to really understand him, and understand his relationship with Roza.

I'm still not sure what to make of the magical realism in Bone Gap. To be honest, it got a bit too magical for me at times; the ending seemed closer to paranormal than to contemporary. As someone who usually reads contemporary, I wanted a real-life resolution of Roza's disappearance, rather than the magical one we got. But that's a personal preference. If you like both contemporary and paranormal, this should be perfect for you! And I loved the characters and the writing so much that I didn't even really mind all the magic.

I am very, very impressed by Bone Gap. With a lyrical, enchanting writing style and eccentric, complex characters that I know will stay with me for a long time, Bone Gap is a unique story I absolutely loved. It's so weird and different that I don't even know how to explain it; you'll just have to experience the weirdness yourself. I can see how this book isn't everyone's cup of tea, considering how confusing it is at times, but it's a must-read for any fans of magical realism - or anyone who enjoys lyrical writing and unique characters, really.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Review: We Can Work It Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2) by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: We Can Work It Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2)
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: January 27th 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
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When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys looked at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life . . . but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.
But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend . . . but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work it out with her.
Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.
Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it -- and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I really don't know how to write this review. I didn't love We Can Work It Out, but I don't think I can really blame the book for that. I really loved The Lonely Hearts Club when I first read it, but that was four years ago, and I think I've just grown up too much to enjoy the sequel as much. We Can Work It Out isn't any worse than The Lonely Hearts Club - they're really similar - but it just didn't work for me as well this time.

In The Lonely Hearts Club, I really liked Penny Lane and related to her a lot. But in the sequel, to be honest, I found all of her drama kind of exasperating. Not because she's more dramatic than she was in the first book; I just got more annoyed with it this time because I didn't relate to it as much anymore. The whole novel focuses on Penny Lane trying to balance her relationship with her dedication to the Club, but considering both are very understanding and she's really the only one putting all this pressure on her, I really just wanted her to calm down, and I didn't like her as much this time. The secondary characters are still pretty good, though; I really liked Ryan, who seems to be the voice of reason in all of this; the other members of the club; and Penny Lane's parents, even though their whole Beatles obsession is kind of exaggerated.

Considering Penny Lane's struggle to balance these things is basically the main plot and I was annoyed with this drama, the plot didn't really do much for me this time. I still love the idea of the club, but the whole thing is kind of exaggerated, which made it a little cheesy this time around. Some of the secondary storylines were interesting, though; I really liked everything relating to Bruce, the new exchange student, and to Ryan's problems aside from Penny Lane, with Todd and his family. And even if the way it was transmitted was too melodramatic for me, I do still really love the message of girl power, balanced with the new message that includes all people.

I don't really know what else to say about We Can Work It Out. It didn't really work for me because I was kind of annoyed by all the cheesiness and melodrama. But it's still a good sequel; it's exactly what I expected and has all the same qualities as the first book. So if you think you would enjoy The Lonely Hearts Club if you read it again today, you will definitely We Can Work It Out, even if it wasn't for me.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

New Releases March 2015

New releases:


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: March 3rd
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver: March 3rd


Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz: March 3rd
Little Peach by Peggy Kern: March 10th


The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow: March 10th
Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay: March 17th


Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan: March 17th
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee: March 17th


The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne: March 17th
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: March 24th


Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes: March 24th
Solitaire by Alice Oseman: March 30th


We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach: March 31st
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord: March 31st

New in paperback:


The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry: March 1st
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: March 3rd


Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: March 3rd
This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready: March 17th


The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine: March 24th
Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell: March 31st
The F-It List by Julie Halpern: March 31st

So many exciting releases this semester! Which ones are you most looking forward to?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

My New Treasures #37


My New Treasures is a semi-regular feature here at Paperback Treasures to showcase all the books I received over the previous week (or however long it's been since I've last done one of these). It was inspired by Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I haven't done one of these in forever, so I figured I would do a round-up of all the galleys I've gotten over the last... I don't even know how long.

NetGalley:


The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Edelweiss:



Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeil
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel
The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
Paperweight by Meg Haston


Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
We Can Work It Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2) by Elizabeth Eulberg
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Finding Paris by Joy Preble
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby


Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink
Solitaire by Alice Oseman

What books did you get this week?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand


Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: February 10th 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.
Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.
As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I know Cynthia Hand is kind of a big name in YA, but I hadn't read anything by her before The Last Time We Say Goodbye, since this is her first contemporary and I don't read much paranormal. And because sometimes contemporary debuts by authors who usually write paranormal don't work so well for me, I kept my expectations low. But there was no need for that because Cynthia Hand completely stunned me with The Last Time Goodbye! It's a heartwrenching novel, and I loved everything about it. 

What I loved most about this novel is Lex; she's such a relatable character! In a lot of grief-related books, the main character completely shuns herself, lashes out at everyone trying to help them, and hates her therapist with a passion. And Lex does that too, to some extent, but she does it in a lot more relatable way; her relationship with her friends is very realistic, and she even ends up getting something out of her therapy. I don't even know how to explain it; I just related to her and felt for her so much.

I loved the secondary characters, too. We have a very large cast of secondary characters, so I could see how some people would criticize that they don't have enough depth. But I really appreciated the large cast because we got to see Lex interact with such a great variety of people. And I think that, even though they didn't get much page time, these characters are very well-developed and have their own stories, too, even if they're not as complex as Lexi. All of the characters just felt very real to me; I especially loved Lex's group of nerd friends and Lex's mom, whose relationship with Lex is explored in a really interesting way. I also loved how romance never takes center stage; there's definitely a romance storyline, but most of it is in the past. There are a variety of male characters, but I really appreciated that none of them turned into another love-triangle-y love interest.

Cynthia Hand's writing, and especially her ability to create such poignancy and strong emotions, definitely left me impressed. Throughout the novel, I didn't even think it was that sad, but then the last 10 pages, I was straight-up bawling; the ending is so perfect. Lex's development over the course of the novel is realistic and natural; I especially liked the subtle changes and the non-preachy discussions of guilt, and how all of that contributed to the story. I even liked the ghost element; I was kind of worried about getting too paranormal for me, but it ended up being handled really well and within our world. 

This is just one of many books I've read about this topic, but The Last Time We Say Goodbye definitely stands out. It's incredibly well-written, with complex and realistic characters, and overwhelming emotions and poignancy. If you're looking for a book that will make you fall in love with the characters and break your heart in the best way possible, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is definitely for you!
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