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review 2017-02-22 22:50
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

This is a fabulous book. It seems to be marketed as Magical Realism, but I think it slips over the boundary into Fantasy, and if that borderland is a place you like to hang out in, as I do, then this is perfect.


The heart of the tale is about belonging and about being an outsider, and how you can sometimes be both at once.


It's got a beautifully drawn relationship between two brothers, one who gave up all his dreams to care for the other when their feckless mother took off for a new boyfriend in Oregon, and the other who can't seem to quite fit in with anyone at all, including the big brother he idolises.


There's a scary villain (who maybe isn't evil, although certainly bad) and a beautiful maiden (who isn't entirely a passive damsel in distress waiting to be saved), and beasts and a horse who is a literal night mare, but not a nightmare.


The writing is lyrical, but not dense, in fact it's eminently readable. Although it took me 2 months to get around to writing the review about it, it's easy as pie to write because the book has stuck with me, and in fact writing this has made me want to go read it again. And I read it in a day the first time!


No book is perfect, and there are flaws. They don't matter. For instance, one of the characters is from Poland, and the Poland of the book may have been the Poland of the 1940's, but almost hilariously isn't the modern technologically up to date country of modern times. It jars, a little... but then it doesn't matter, because it's entirely beside the point and the plot.


I don't read YA as a rule, but I'm very very glad I read this one.

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text 2016-08-21 21:09
JOINT POST: OBP & MR talk Magical Realism
Beloved - Toni Morrison
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

Obsidian Black Plague & I decided it would be fun to do some joint posts to discuss what we plan to read for Halloween Bingo, as well as some suggestions for the players! Feel free to add your .02 cents to the comments!


First up - magical realism


Obsidian Black Plague


So I think at this point most Booklikers know that I love magical realism. Maybe because authors who write in this genre take our real world and inserts fantastic or mythical elements into an otherwise fictional book. I think personally that is a pretty tricky genre to write in. You have to do a careful balancing act of not only keeping your story going, but incorporate these elements and still have the story feel real to the reader.

That can mean you have a heroine who not only is a wonderful baker, but she can also in her own way show what she is feeling that affects everyone else around her (Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen) or you have a former slave and her daughter who live in a haunted house believed to be possessed by the woman's daughter (Beloved by Toni Morrison).

Here are three books that I think fit the Magical Realism square that I have actually read and enjoyed:

1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
2. Beloved by Toni Morrison
3. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (which can actually fit a lot of other squares for the bingo as well).

Now for those readers and bingo players who want some magical realism with a side of horror, here are three books for you to look into:

1. The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
3. The Green Mile by Stephen King


Moonlight Reader


I agree with everything that OBP said above! I also love magical realism, and am always looking for new authors. My first foray into magical realism was through the Latin American tradition, including authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel and Isabel Allende. I've also read and enjoyed by Sarah Allen Addison and Alice Hoffman. You can't go wrong with any of those authors, but I particularly recommend:


1. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

2. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

3. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen


Warning on those last two - do not read on an empty stomach.


There is also an emerging contingent of YA authors writing wonderful magical realism, including three books that I have recently loved:


1. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

2. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

3. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


All six of the books that I've listed are, interestingly, by women authors. I'm sure that there are men (besides Neil Gaiman) out there who are writing magical realism, but aside from Mark Helprin, whose Winter's Tale clocks in at almost 800 pages, I couldn't think of any!


As for what I will be reading, this is a tough one for me! I am leaning towards The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen, which I've been waiting to read for a long time! But, I'm a mood reader, so that could change before I get to the point of actually reading!


Next up: Supernatural!


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review 2016-08-19 00:00
Bone Gap
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby 2.75 stars

I had some difficulty figuring out what was going on with this book. I like the characters, but I'm not sure if the story was suppose to be completely realistic or what really happened at the end. When his issue with recognition was revealed it was really interesting to me, and really a lot of it was interesting to me. I was left feeling confused after reading it though.
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review 2016-04-07 02:14
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

 I haven’t read a lot of magical-realism books. I don’t even have a bookshelf for that but this absolutely enchanting read made me want to read more in the future. Bone Gap surely lived up to the name of its genre because it’s completely magical and perfectly real at the same time that it didn’t cease to fascinate me from beginning to end.

This in short, is Bone Gap, a page turner with an unexampled & touching story.
The characters are vividly drawn and each one has potential to snake into your heart with all their complexities and beliefs. They feel like people from our own world.

The fast-paced plot is a curtain-raiser over several things in the past and the present simultaneously. It unveils the brothers' lives and ambitions, Finn's magical love story brewing with the ugly bee-keeper of Bone Gap, Petey, Roza's plight, peeks into the Roza's past and glimpses of her life with the O' Sullivan brothers.

There are lots of bitter truths of our real lives portrayed through the characters such as the ugly face of beauty, the impact of peoples' opinions on our lives, how people prefer to judge others by just surveying the outer shell of skin. Many times I found myself nodding in agreement with the writer. Such as here: A pretty face is just a lucky accident. Pretty can’t feed you. And you’ll never be pretty enough for some people.

Funny how you notice how beautiful things are just when you're about to leave them.

The story is very unique and even though the author drops hints still the 'big truth' hits like a lightning bolt. The best thing about this novel is the lucid writing, though. It's undeniably beautiful and mesmerizing. It gives life to everything it describes... but that evening- the evening that changed his life and Sean's- was chilly and gray, the lightest rain falling like glitter, the whole sky hanging low enough to drape the cornfields in gauzy gray fog.


I wanted to read slowly and devour each word, each phrase and expression (so perfectly chosen and put together). At the same time, I was so caught up in the story that I couldn't put down the book!

Bone Gap is a book about perspective. About the difference between looking and seeing. About fairy-tales, self-image, the heavy burden that beauty can be and the pernicious ways we look at and treat women. It’s awfully tense and there is this feeling of anxious momentum that runs through this novel. It’s also very romantic where it matters, empowering where it counts and beautiful in its telling.

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url 2016-03-30 13:41
Young Adult Magical Realism Recommendations

YA Magical Realism is still a fledging genre, I think. Compared to the YA fantasy and contemporary books that are published each year, it’s a much smaller part of the pie. But as I’ve said before, I’d love to see more YA magical realism. I basically love magical realism because I think in YA, in particular, these kinds of stories take really unexpected turns and can push the boundaries of what YA does. Some people think that magical realism stories are slow-paced and they can be, but for good reason. I’m not an expert, but the magical realism definition according to Wikipedia involves work that “share… an acceptance of magic in the rational world…. Magical realism… refers to literature in particular that portrays magical or unreal elements as a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment.” According to The Atlantic, when they wrote an obituary for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, they mentioned how his works were “quintessential examples of ‘magic realism’: fiction that integrates elements of fantasy into otherwise realistic settings.” (More magical realism definitions, re: YA magical realism & urban fantasy vs. magical realism).

This is where things get a little hazy for me – because Urban Fantasy often includes magic + contemporary settings, but the feeling of urban fantasy is much different from that of magical realism, though I think both could end up in an urban setting if you wanted. I think that UF is much more likely to include creatures of legends; both can have that dreamy feeling, too, but then I think magical realism focuses more on the individual, the main character and the MC’s unique experience. You can have character-driven urban fantasy, of course, but the actual experiences of the character PoV in magical realism tales are more deeply explored, I think. Hey, for all I know I could be talking out of my ass, but if you’re looking for more YA magical realism books to read, here are some of the ones that I’ve enjoyed reading!




** Chime by Franny Billingsley.

Chime is the story of a girl whose life turns upside down once a new boy comes to her witch-intolerant village swamp, because his presence helps to reveal long-lost secrets. It’s cyclical and beautifully written, and the swamp – here’s another magical realism quality! The setting is almost ALWAYS its own character! Which should happen in most books anyways, but can be critical to magical realism – the swamp is its own character. You get fantastic new magical creatures in the swamp, and Briony’s coming-of-age and sexual awakening are twined together so beautifully in her quest for the truth. Highly recommended! The writing style might throw some people off, but stick with the book and you’ll be so rewarded!

** We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

We Were Liars is the story of a girl who no longer remembers the tragedy that happened at her family's summer home but seeks to discover the truth behind all the lies.. The details of her fifteenth summer at her family's private island elude her, and her family is reluctant to talk about what exactly happened. Her quest for the truth is interspersed with fairy tale like stories about her family and her memories of their summers at their island retreat. It’s a beautifully written suspense story on grief, privilege, family, duty, friendships, and much, much more.

(Is WWL technically Magical Realism? Or is it more speculative? It could just be considered contemporary, but given the above definition, I think it still fits into magical realism.)

** The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle.

First off: if you’re a fan of We Were Liars, definitely check out The Accident Season. Set in Ireland, The Accident Season is the story of a family plagued by “accident seasons” – they fall down; they bruise; their bones break. Is everything that happens in The Accident Season truly an accident, or is there something more sinister going on? Like We Were Liars, The Accident Season is beautifully written, full of atmosphere, and it centers on family, grief, truths and more as well.

** Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

Bone Gap is the story of Rosa, a girl who suddenly appears in Finn’s life and then just as suddenly goes missing, and Finn, a boy who witnesses Rosa getting kidnapped but who isn’t believed in town because everyone thinks he’s weird and maybe a little unstable. The story takes place in a town where again! Setting is its own character. People can go missing in the “gaps” of the town, all the corn fields… What really happened the day that Rosa went missing is up for the both characters to discover. Laura Ruby really does a wonderful job developing the setting and making the people of Bone Gap feel unique to Bone Gap (but also familiar to us). The story does a great job examining the construct of beauty and perception, and is unlike anything I’ve read in YA (despite me lumping it in here with other magical realism books).

** The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma & Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

The Walls around Us and Imaginary Girls are the two Nova Ren Suma novels that I’ve read, but they definitely won’t be the last. The Walls around Us was described as Orange is the New Black Swan, and I think that’s a perfect description—and yes, the book focuses on girls, jealousies, intimacies, and more. Imaginary Girls is the story of a girl sent away from her sister when she discovers a body in their town’s reservoir. When she returns to her sister, certain secrets will be revealed. Nova Ren Suma writes gorgeous, atmospheric stories that are about and told in the voices of girls, and both of these are no exception to her list of highly recommended reads.

** Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block.

Love in the Time of Global Warming is a YA magical realism post-apocalyptic retelling of The Odyssey told from Penelope’s point of view. Francesca Lia Block’s writing is as always incandescent, proving why she’s one of the founders of YA. Reading this made me want to go back and reread The Odyssey, which I think is always a sign of success for a retelling—rekindling or stirring new interest in the classic.

** The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater & The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

I don’t even know whether to consider either of these novels magical realism. Some part of me wants to classify The Scorpio Races as a high fantasy because it takes place on a fictional island, and so the society is also modeled after ours but is its own thing. But The Scorpio Races is also written in a way that reminds me of magical realism novels. The Raven Cycle could also be categorized as urban fantasy or just fantasy, but looking at the definition for magical realism, hey, the series could fit too. Plus part of that dreamy atmosphere, again, makes me think of magical realism novels. Oh, genre categories.

Every November on the fictional island of Thisby, its inhabitants compete in a dangerous race riding legendary, deadly water horses. The Scorpio Races is a standalone filled with magic, adventure, and romance—and is unlike anything I’ve read in YA. The Raven Cycle is a tad harder to describe. One of the main characters, Blue, has been told all her life that if she kisses her true love, he will die. It’s implied that Gansey is her true love, and she ends up getting caught in Gansey’s quest to find Glendower, a mythical sleeping Welsh King who’s supposed to grant a wish to whoever wakes him up. A very bare bones sort of intro summary—but anyway, the books have multi-layered, complex characters, unpredictable, complicated plots… magic, adventure, atmosphere, romance. I talk on and on about these books, so get to reading them if you haven’t already!

Those are my YA magical realism novel recommendations. One I’m looking forward to reading this year is A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry, which made my 2016 YA Debuts on my TBR list. Let me know if you’ve got any other recs! Have you read any of the books I recommended? Is magical realism your “thing”?
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