(Audio)Book Review: Ivory and Bone

Ivory and BoneDetails:

Title: Ivory and Bone

Author: Julie Eshbaugh

Narrator: Michael Curran-Dorsano

Publisher: HarperTeen

Audio Publisher: HarperAudio

Release Date: June 7th 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 371

Audio Length: 8 hours & 41 minutes

Synopsis:

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

My First Thoughts:

I’ve been doing a lot of paint work in my parents’ house and I like to listen to audiobooks while I paint. I listened to all the new books that I had in my library, so I decided to grab some more since I had a lot more painting ahead of me, and that’s when I found this book. The cover is quite beautiful and alluring, and the synopsis intrigued me. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, but I know enough of the story that I was curious to hear what the allusions could be. And I’ve never read a prehistoric fantasy before, so I decided to give it a listen!

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This audiobook took me a while to finish, and I finished the painting before I finished the story. When the story first began I was captivated. The narrator had a lovely voice and it made for smooth storytelling. However, after the first chapter I was a bit put off.

The story is told in first person, through the eyes of the main character Kol, which was fun because it has been a while since I’ve read a story through the perspective of a male character. After the first chapter, though, I had to do a bit of adjusting to listen to the story. The majority of the book is Kol telling Mya a story to keep her conscious, that story was how they met and the events that led up to the moment in chapter one. So for about thirty chapters and maybe 8 hours of listening, it’s a bunch of “I did this” and “you did that”.  It was a type of storytelling that I was sort of familiar with, but definitely not completely comfortable with. Years ago, I had read some fanfiction of a similar writing style, some of the stories were told in second person, while others were a mix of first and second person, but the ‘you’ was always the reader. In this story, the ‘you’ was Mya, and after a while this form of storytelling really grated on my nerves.

Honestly, how realistic is it for one person to tell a story, one that spans many weeks, and is never interrupted? If I were Mya, I would be interrupting Kol every so often, to either ask questions or to tell him off because he didn’t understand my side of the story. Instead, Mya just sits there the entire time listening to this long winded story of Kol and the day that changed his life, and the several weeks after it. The idea was an interesting concept, have one character tell another character all the backstory that lead up to the moment of conflict, but it was poorly executed. Most verbal story telling focuses on the moments that really matter, on the details that are important to the story. Instead, Kol spends many long winded minutes describing every feeling he has had the past several weeks, going into great detail about every thought he’s had, especially all the times he’d been injured. When I’m injured, especially in a lot of pain, I don’t have nearly as many thoughts that Kol apparently had. One thing most authors forget is that when the adrenaline is pumping, the brain is focused on survival and nothing else, not how painful it is, not what it all means, not on every single minute detail, and especially not on anything outside of the body! But no, poor Mya listened to several paragraphs of Kol’s thoughts every time he gets injured, and there were quite a few times. You even get to hear all the thoughts going through his head while he walks or boats to different places. I would dare wager that most of the story is all of the thoughts going through his head, not actions, not anything super-duper important to pass on to Mya. If all of the long, tedious, moments spent inside Kol’s head that had absolutely no importance to the story he was telling Mya, the book would be less than half the number of hours and pages.

Again, it was an interesting concept to have one main character tell another main character the backstory, but it was executed poorly. Kol’s story was far too long, telling many details that honestly did not matter to the overall story. It was unrealistic for a story that long to not be interrupted by Mya, and it was unrealistic for a person to have the attention span to listen or even tell the story.

Looking beyond that, though, this story wasn’t too bad to listen to. It was fascinating to hear the explanations of the tribes various customs and their religious views. The major religions today have gods that are described as male, but this story has a goddess as the major divine being, which lends to the later cultures having a Mother-Earth figure.

It was interesting to read a story where it was important for the male characters to find brides and marry. Most stories that I have read with a male lead doesn’t normally focus on match-making, if there’s romance it’s treated more as an accident than intentionally. In this story though, Kol and his brothers feel pressured to find wives, especially since there’s no young girls in their village, so that their tribe may continue. Kol is even more pressured by his younger brothers to find a wife, because they cannot marry until the oldest is married. I’ve never read a story with this concept, and it makes a lot of sense for the setting and world the author created.

As I have said earlier, it’s been a while since I’ve read a novel through the sole perspective of the hero. It was a nice and interesting experience. Just like reading through a heroine’s view, there were a few times in which I wanted to strangle Kol for being stupid about the other gender. But overall, his character was enjoyable to get to know. If you don’t consider that the book is mostly him telling a long winded story to another character who was there, even his thoughts were interesting to listen to and consider. Though, every time I remembered that he was telling the story to someone else, those thoughts really appeared useless to the writing itself. I really don’t have much to say about the other characters. There was nothing extraordinary about his family, though I found the brothers’ interactions interesting to listen to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much from Mya and Lo. Eventually, I could see and understand their actions, but overall I didn’t really feel much for them, which is always disappointing.

As for the Pride and Prejudice allusions in the story…they were there if you stretched your imagination and used a magnifying glass. But, again, I have not actually read Pride and Prejudice, so it is quite possible that there are shared elements that I’m just missing myself.

Final Thoughts:

If you forget that the majority of this book is storytime by Kol, then it can rather enjoyable. However, at least with me, when you remember that Kol is relaying an extremely long, detailed story to another character, who was there for most of it, the ability to enjoy the story may plummet. I believe that this story would have been so much better if it was told in only first person the entire time, not a mixture of first and second person. The author’s idea of having one character tell the backstory to another character would have been better for a shorter novel, something half as long as the one she published. It’s confusing, frustrating, and lacks any touch of reality. In reality, Mya wouldn’t have the attention span to sit and listen to the entire story, and I believe Kol would’ve gotten bored going into every minute detail. The story could’ve been better if there were breaks in his storytelling, in which Mya interrupted him by asking questions or arguing with him about her actions, or possibly Kol stopping to check on Mya every so often. That would’ve been believable, and would provide a nice break to the many dull moments in the story.

If you’re interested in reading a young adult novel through the hero’s perspective, this book may be for you. Or anyone who enjoyed reading Pride and Prejudice might find it fun to read Ivory and Bone and search for the promised allusions to the former. And anyone who loves to read historical fiction, or want to read a novel set in the prehistoric era, might be interested in this novel about tribe wars and mammoth hunting.

Rating(s):

3/5

This book was a first for me. It was the first Young Adult book that I’ve read through the male character’s first person point of view, and the first based in prehistoric times. Overall the book had an interesting concept and was enjoyable to read. Like any book there were moments of frustration, but the biggest frustration that contributed most to the rating was the author’s choice in telling the story. For a shorter novel, her choice would have been fine, but this book was far too long and the flow just wasn’t there. However, the world the author built, the characters, customs, and religion made the book enjoyable. Any reader could tell the amount of research and planning the author did in making this book, and I find that worth noting and praising as well.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: The Golden Day

The Golden Day

Details:

Title: The Golden Day

Author: Ursula Dubosarsky

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Release Date: April 28th 2015 (first published March 23rd 2011)

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Pages: 149

Synopsis:

In a year that begins with the hanging of one man and ends with the drowning of another, eleven schoolgirls must embrace their own chilling history when their teacher abruptly goes missing on a field trip. What actually happened that day? Who was the mysterious poet in the garden? And most important, Who can the tell about it?

Part gripping thriller, part ethereal tale, The Golden Day is a poignant study of fear and friendship that, in beautifully crafted rose, reveals how a single shared experience can alter the course of young lives forever.

My First Thoughts:

I’m not usually one for thrillers or mysteries; they’re just not my normal cup of tea. This one, however, grabbed my attention and I decided to read it if not because of the author’s note at the end. I decided to give it a try and broaden my bookshelves some!

Story Breakdown:

The Golden Day is a story set in Australia during the late 1960s and mid-70s. The man focus of this story is on eleven little school girls and a day that changed their lives forever, and the events that followed. However, out of the eleven, only four girls get most of the spotlight: Cubby, Bethany, Icara and Martine. Through these four little girls the reader gets to see how such a traumatic event will alter their psyche, but also push them forward into adulthood, leaving scars that not even time may completely heal.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

I loved that this story was set in Australia, because I’ve been there before and I don’t read very many realistic fictions outside my own country, let alone on the opposite side of the world. However, it was very easy to forget sometimes that these little girls were going to school in Australia. It was only when they mentioned region names or the Aborigines that reminded me that the story was set in Australia. The dialogue in the story didn’t really reflect where the girls lived, there were only a few instances where they used different idioms or colloquialisms that I recognized as Australian or didn’t recognize at all.

This story had kind of a large cast of characters, and even though it wasn’t a long story it was still hard to keep the different characters separate from time to time. It also didn’t help that four of the little girls shared the same name and didn’t go by different variations of that name. They were all just Elizabeth, of the four of them only two really said or did more than the others, and one of them only had maybe one or two lines. The author also did a quick character description every time a new character appeared, nothing fancy, she just mentioned the color of hair and eyes, how their age appearance, and possibly what they were wearing.

For me, it was hard to connect with some of the characters, especially the victim of the event. There were times in which they said or did something that resonated with me, but then they would destroy it by doing or saying something that angered me. Honestly, I didn’t feel bad for the victim, because I didn’t really feel any connection or emotion for them. They had some cool ideas and words, but they also had some nasty traits that tainted their personality and didn’t make me feel sorry for them. I felt more emotion and pity for the little girls involved, especially for Cubby and Icara whose interactions seemed to be the most detailed and drove the plot of the story. You see more about their friendship and their reactions to the event than any other girl.

I believe the most interesting thing about this book was the idea of it and how the author created it. The author tells you how she came up with idea in the Author’s Note, but I’ll briefly sum it up. The idea of the little girls and their kind of school life came from the experiences of the author herself. As for the events in the story, they were inspired by different artworks about schoolgirls from different artists, and some of the tragedies that occurred in different regions of Australia, mostly of either missing persons or awful murders. Also, each chapter heading comes from the title of paintings and drawings by Charles Blackman, who’s painting Floating Schoolgirl, planted the first seed in the author’s head.

The one thing that aggravated me the most about this story, was the over use of the word said. As having gone through a number of writing classes, and being a daughter of an author, it was drilled into my head that while said is a good word, it is overused in concerns to dialogue. I was always taught to use words in place of said, especially during scenes with a lot of dialogue to help spruce things up. So it annoyed me when I read over several said’s on the same page. The author did use some other words, but her go to was said, which I understand doesn’t bother everyone but it bothered me.

Final Thoughts:

If you love mystery thrillers, then this book may be up your alley. The mystery isn’t as cut and dry as it may first appear. In fact, the ending took me by surprise and left me a little unsettled and lost. The ending isn’t black and white; it’s up to the reader to decide what really happened. So if you don’t enjoy those kinds of ending then you may not enjoy this book. The ending may have been done that way to intentionally make readers feel unsettled like the girls at the end. However, if you don’t like that feeling then you should steer clear for this book.

If you’re interested about the human psyche and how different people respond to the same traumatic event, then this book may be of interest to you. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a teacher picks up this book and adds to their reading list for class, either for English or Psychology. While it isn’t full of psychology terms or theories, it definitely allows a person to see the different reactions as if it were a real experiment. As for English, having gone through several reading intensive English classes, including a few years of AP English, this book just seems like it would fit into those reading lists, especially if the class was exploring literature of different time period and/or from different countries.

Rating:

3/5

I believe that this story while interesting, is just a good, average book. It’s a nice quick read for anyone who needs a break between large volumes of books. The plot is very straight forward with very few, if any subplots. There are no scenes that some people would consider unnecessary. And it would interest anyone who is curious about a child’s psyche and how children react differently to the same event.

Related Reviews/Books:

Coming soon!

Book Review: I Heard the Owl Call my Name

I Heard the Owl Call my Name

So this is the first old story that I have reviewed for this site, wow it might actually be the oldest one that I review for a while!

Details:

Title: I Heard the Owl Call my Name

Author: Margaret Craven

Publisher: Dell

Release Date: 1973 (first published 1967)

Genre: Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction

Pages: 159

Synopsis:

“The Indian know his village and feels it.”

His village is more than the strip of land four miles long and three miles wide that is his as long as the sun rises and the moon sets. His village is the river and the black-and-white killer whales that herd the fish to the end of the inlet. His village is the salmon who comes up the river to spawn, the seal who follow the salmon, the bluejay whose name is like the sound he makes−“Kwiss-kwiss.”

“His village is also the talking bird, the owl, who calls the name of the man who is going to die…”

It was to this village that the white man Mark Brian came−to learn the meaning of life and of death…

My First Thoughts:

My dad has been harping on me for a while to read one of his books and before I went off to school he gave me this one to take with me. This story meant a lot to my dad, because both he and his mother, my late grandmother, both liked reading it. So I decided to read it so I could feel closer to the two of them, especially since I didn’t really get to know my grandmother very long.

Story Breakdown:

This story has a long list of characters that come and go throughout the story, but each of them are unique enough to remember as they’re mentioned. There are two main characters in this story, a young white priest and a young Native American man.

Mark Brian is given the opportunity to shepherd the people of Kingcome and the surrounding settlements. Being so young, and living in a more developed area, Mark has never had the opportunity to live in a place so close to nature and her way of life. Instead of making people feel sorry for him and his lack of abilities, he decides to learn what he can from the people around him and conquer his tasks on his own until he must ask for help. Quiet and respectful of the Indians, he observes them and tries to understand the sadness in their eyes and what it means to live in a world that is constantly disappearing. As he grows as a priest he learns the harsh and natural realities of death, and the way of life that has all been taken away from the natives of the land. Along his journey he also learns what he can of the tribe’s old way of life, before the White Man came and changed it forever.

The second main character is Native American by the English name Jim Wallace. When you first meet Jim he is a very quiet, very cautious man who doesn’t really trust Mark. Jim’s opinion at first is very low, thinking that as soon as Mark faces the normal day-to-day hardships that he would leave at the next opportunity. As the story progresses though, Jim sees Mark’s true nature and he goes from being judgmental to accepting. Jim also transforms from being a traditional man of the tribe to a more forward, open-minded man as his friendship with the priest grows.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Not going to lie, the beginning was a little hard to get into because the writing style was not what I was used to. After a while though, I adjusted and really enjoyed this story. It felt like a breath of fresh air because it was so different than what I have been reading lately. The story wasn’t super complicated with lots of twisting passages that could lead to sequels, or tons of subplots to drag the story on. It was very short and sweet and to the point, with a nice straight path that lead to the end.

Another thing that I liked about it was the humbling affect that it had on me. It was a very calm read, and it was like stepping into an old black-and-white film or a John Wayne movie on the movie classics channel. I’m not sure how historically accurate it was, but to me it seemed to portray the native lifestyle very well and I believe that was what made it so humbling to me. It was especially sad to read about what the tribe’s history was and all of the cultural things they had to let go because the government told them to. It was so fascinating to read about some of the different traditions and stories, even if they weren’t from a real tribe. Some of their stories, especially about the swimmer, really stuck with me and made me think about their actual meaning.

The one thing I didn’t like about the book was the lack of description that I’m used to. A lot of books nowadays are full of descriptions, sometimes going a bit too far. However, this book didn’t lack imagery and world building, but it wasn’t done in such the grand scale that our books do now. The description was there, it was just very short and it set the mood more than the scene, which was a little hard for me to get used to.

Final Thoughts:

I can see now why my father and grandmother really liked this book. It was a really nice life journey to read about that made you see what some people went through and how one person can change a group of people, and how that same group can change the one. I definitely suggest reading this book outside of an English class on your own time because it was really enjoyable and different. The book had so many quotes that I loved that the side of the book is littered with tiny posted-notes, there were so many things said that could relate to current day. And this book, while short, really does put you through an emotional ride with ups and downs stretched out nicely within so few pages. It didn’t feel choppy or like whiplash, and the sad moments really punched you in the gut at times. By the end of the book I couldn’t read it while waiting for my classes because I would either partially cry or get misty-eyed. I’m really glad that my dad gave me this book to read!

Rating(s):

4/5

While it was a great story, I don’t think it quite deserves anything more than a four because of the difference in writing style and how hard it was for me to get into it at first. However, the story was really enjoyable after the first few chapters and was nicely paced. While there was a large cast of characters, each one had a purpose and played a major role telling the story and driving it forward. The history elements to the story were very nice, it added a quaint charm to the book and really helped immerse the reader into the settling. Overall a nice story to read during the fall as a nice break between larger novels.

Related Reviews/Books:

Coming soon!