More Than Bones

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

A fun, cozy mystery with great characters. I hope to read more from this author and more about Emily.
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Lightweight and largely ludicrous, this ridiculous romp is easy reading heaven. The language is untaxing, the plot undemanding, the characters uncomplicated and the ending cheesily satisfying. The element of magical realism is pure hokey in this amusing and entertaining novel that sometimes surprises with some moments of depth (the MC's relationship with religion for example) in amongst the shallowness. Lots of gay representation. Some slightly triggery moments (the suicide of a child by gunshot) which jar with the overall cosy tone. It also features the Ultimate Feel-Good Ending - a little cheesy but immensely satisfying. Everything is neatly wrapped up and everyone gets a happy ending - so rare these days! A lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously.
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Emily’s time of self-discovery as she starts her surgical residency forced her to go through a full range of emotions. She was made to question basically everything about her life – past, present, and future. The people she met and befriended along the way were what made this book interesting. There were so many unique perspectives on life presented through these many characters, and questioning what we want out of life was a very prominent theme throughout the book. The bone I have to pick (title reference joke intended) with this book is that it was so long and the plot felt too drawn out.

There was a lot more religious talk than I was expecting, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Emily struggles with the concept of religion and stands firmly with her beliefs, but I think she still experienced a lot of spiritual growth in her own way. There were some very complex relationships woven throughout the story involving a few of the main characters, and they all added some great layers to the themes of the book.
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More Than Bones by Craig David Singer is a 2019 Twin Rabbits Books publication. 

Faith, belief, forgiveness, friendship, and personal growth, with a cherry sized dollop of magic on top! 

Dr. Emily Norton arrives in Boston to begin her medical residency with a wide- open future ahead of her. But, when her odd duck neighbor gives her an amulet, along with a word of advice, Emily, who doesn't believe in such nonsense, ignores the amulet and the advice. She soon comes to regret her decision, however, when bad luck becomes her new normal. Her fiancé dumps her, publicly, she is reprimanded on her first day at the hospital, fails to make a good impression with the other doctors, and then seriously offends her roommate, just for starters. 

Meanwhile, Emily becomes attached to Rachel, a young mother who has been diagnosed with a deadly form of breast cancer. The two begin to form a bond akin to sisterhood. But, could Emily’s refusal to wear the amulet effect Rachel’s chances for remission? 

Okay, I had a few preconceived notions about this book, and they turned out to be way off the mark. While this is not super heavy reading by any means, it was not exactly the light, fluffy material I was expecting. 

The story follows Emily as she takes a journey which begins with avoiding anything faith based, to considering the possibilities of having a belief system. She has a few enlightening epiphanies about life, which helps her make peace with the past and prepares her for whatever life may bring in the future. 

There are a few comical situations in the book, and the story is filled with eccentric characters, giving it a lighter tone at times, however, just because it has been categorized as magic realism and has a kitty cat on the cover, do not be deceived. The book addresses many heavy topics, such as suicide, cancer, death, and heartbreak and losing one's faith. 

Emily tried my patience on several occasions. I initially felt empathy for her after her initial run of bad luck. While she lamented that no one respected her wishes to forego putting her faith in religion or charmed amulets, she didn’t respect others who did have faith in God or anything else. 
While she was sympathetic, and followed her heart and conscience, she could also be rude, offensive, cold, and judgmental, chewing people out who may not have deserved her wrath simply because they believed in something she didn't. 

The other cast members were hit or miss with me as well. Emily’s roommate was either hot or cold, and entirely too melodramatic. Grown men throwing temper tantrums? 

But, then, there was Rachel. Hands down, she is the bright light in this story. 

I have a lot of mixed emotions about this book. The story didn’t always flow evenly and one secondary story involving a fellow resident was underdeveloped, and I'm not entirely sure why it was necessary to the story. On the other hand, I was satisfied, for the most part, by Emily’s personal growth. I think we left her in a positive place with room for more improvement, and of course, I was very moved by Rachel’s story and the way she and Emily bonded. Her impact on Emily was enormous and her influence was inspirational for Emily and the reader, as well. 

So, I’ve waffled back and forth on my rating for this one. Usually when I can’t decide on a firm rating, I go with a middle of the road score. I'm giving this one an added half star for the record- and for Rachel. 

3.5 rounded down
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC of this book.
A plot with enough twists to keep it interesting. A cast of characters which includes many gay men (or not, depending on the day) who are portrayed so true to life that I knew without checking that the author is a gay man. He is also a physician which illuminates the internship part of the plot. I am a great lover of magical realism and felt that part fell a bit short. Enjoyed the read and hope to see more from this author. 3.5*
I had just finished a couple of beautifully written, lyrical novels which made the writing in this book stand out in not a good way at the outset.
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Where Does The Power Lie?

Dr. Emily Norton’s move to Baltimore for her medical residency hasn’t been easy. Renting the attic in a mansion, complete with a skeleton, her odd landlord. An equally odd neighbor greeting her as though she was expected, gives her an unusual pendant as if it was meant for her.

Then her first day of work, arriving late because her alarm didn’t go off. Of course, the flat tire only made it worse.

The last straw might have been when her fiancé breaks up with her in front of everyone in attendance at her roommate’s party.

Not an auspicious beginning.

The Pendant Did It?

The gifted pendant is actually an amulet, but Emily doesn’t believe in powers of that sort. Hanging it on the skeleton in the corner of her room, she has no intention of wearing the bulky thing. Yet when everything in her life continues to go wrong, she begins to wonder.

The story turns out to be more complex than you might expect. The description gives the impression it might be a cozy style mystery. While it does have the humor and quirkiness, the story isn’t a exactly a mystery.

It is a wandering sort of story as the author effectively develops the odd group of characters. A number of deeper threads run thru it as well: Cancer, grief, faith-in religion as well as in oneself, suicide, and the many views surrounding the gay community. Many subjects to inspire thought.

Emily, as well as most of the other characters, have intriguing stories, each intertwining with another as it progresses.

What lessons you will learn by the finish will depend on the reader. In every life the good and the bad exist. What we do with them will determine our paths. Acceptance will surely be a part of it.

We received a copy of Mr. Singer’s book as part of its release tour through Mindbuck Media Book Publicity. Mystery Suspense Reviews is happy to review it!

Enjoy!
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From the very first page, More Than Bones struck me as something that was entirely different from what I am used to reading. I don’t tend to read magical realism, and I could probably count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that revolve around doctors/medicine. That being said, I love doctor tv shows, and I was excited to dive into this book and see what journey the author had in store for me.

Emily Norton is not a believer. Ever since her mother died of cancer, she lacks faith in anything that cannot be proven by science, much to the dismay of her religious father. Yet for someone who doesn’t believe in what she can’t see, Emily sure is surrounded by a lot of fantastical things that lack explanation. Shortly after moving, her new neighbor gifts Emily an amulet that will bestow greatness upon the wearer, or doom them to bad luck should they scorn the amulet. Naturally, Emily thinks her neighbor to be crazy, and refuses to wear the amulet. Bad things start happening in Emily’s life, but she chalks this up to coincidence.

I loved the characters in this book. There is such a variety of personalities amongst the characters, and even minor characters are well developed and add a lot to the storyline. I loved meeting every character, because I never knew just how they would play a part in Emily’s story.

One of my least favorite things about More Than Bones was Emily’s constant flip-flopping when it came to believing in the amulet. One minute she think’s it’s absolute rubbish, and the next she believes that the amulet has solved all of her problems, only to then change back again, for no apparent reason. Given how much Emily clearly doesn’t believe in religion and other things that cannot be proven, it makes little sense for her character to have these constant changes in feelings.

Overall, I enjoyed More Than Bones and the twists in the plot that I didn’t expect. At times I found that the story was a bit slow, but it was a fun read, full of intrigue and mystery. I give it 3/5 stars.
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I found this book very much coming through the middle. What I mean is, I didn’t hate this book but then I didn’t really fall in love with it right away either. Emily was a good character and made the book fun to read but often times I felt like I was reading it just so I could keep being apart of her story. It wasn’t out of enjoyment.
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The main character of this book is a straight woman who receives a strange amulet that may or may not influence her entire life. Several of her family members and friends are gay men, and she volunteers for a gay helpline, so the community is important to the story.

This is described both as darkly suspenseful and a lighthearted comedy, which is a pretty weird mix. Personally, I didn't really feel the comedy part - the parts that might have been meant as funny mostly caused me second hand embarrassment. And there were some quite heavy triggers that I didn't expect in a comedy book.

Overall, I have to admit that there were story twists that surprised me, and I liked how the story played out in the end.

major tws: cancer, suicide, child sexual abuse
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More than Bones is a solid debut by Craig David Singer. Emily Norton has just moved to Baltimore and is about to start her residency in a and seems to have everything she wants: good career she likes, a fiancé and some good friends. However, within a month of her arrival, her life takes a turn in the wrong direction. In both her personal life and work, little seems to go right and she doesn’t know where to turn. 

Singer seems to know his way around the medical community, especially oncology. Emily has familiarity with the disease, as her mother died from it when Emily was a child. As an adult, Emily connects with a cancer patient beyond what would be typical for a doctor in her position. In addition to her life spiraling out of control there are a few other plots, including a lost will, someone coming out, family dynamics and a mystery around an amulet that may or may not have magical powers. 

Though a little consulted at time with so many overlapping stories, Singer brings them all together by the end. Fans of general fiction may enjoy this book.
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So I was actually pretty surprised by this book. The fact that the author knows what he's talking about gives this book something extra. Coming from a family of doctors and biologists, it bothers me that not everyone does their research with subjects like this since most information is so readily available.

What I absolutely loved about this book is the fact that no one is straight by default. Ever since I had to come out to friends and family I've struggled with this. Everyone is assumed straight and it's just hard But this book flips normal things in order to make sexual orientation more normal, to make it easier to accept it I guess? 

I loved how all the storylines wrapped up or explained and the story was basically about all being in this together. I loved that I was being taken out of my comfort zone and while I didn't know what to expect, I wasn't disappointed.
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I really enjoyed this book. The plot was well written and kept me entertained from beginning to end.
All the characters were developed and a delight to get to know. I received this ebook free from NetGalley for an honest review.
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When I first began reading More Than Bones, I wasn't sure how I felt about it to be honest. I was tempted to put it down once or twice, but I stuck with it. After reading it I'm torn on how I feel. I didn't exactly love it, but I didn't hate it either. I fell on the line of somewhere in between. It was different than what I expected and at times the plot seemed somewhat rushed. 

An interesting read, there just seemed to be TOO much going on, oftentimes making the book fill rushed and messy. Nothing seemed real or likely to happen except during the scenes where Emily is dealing with patients. The book could have used some better editing and more cohesive writing. At the end of the day it just wasn't my cup of tea.
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More Than Bones was opened with Dr. Emily Norton’s arrival at her new neighborhood. She rent a room in an old house recently acquired by Norton for his birthday. It was a lavish, but strange neighborhood. She got acquainted with an old neighbor and got a strange amulet from him on the very first day of acquaintance. The old man warned her not to take off the amulet, but she did not listen. Gradually, her life started to unravel since that strange first day at her new place. Could it be the amulet’s curse?

I did not find the protagonis veri likeable. The book is narrated from her point of view, and I found her pretty judgmental and snaps quickly. Another thing I found unlikeable was the meany medical life as professionals. There are some mean seniors and the jealousy among doctors on each other’s skills and seniors’ approval make me think of high school drama all over again. I am not familiar with how it supposed to be, though. Apparently the author is actually a physician, so he must know better. The social environment could actually be like that. Things get better though, despite that Emily’s life just went downhill as the story advances 45% onwards. However, the narration also feels more raw and preachy.

The whole reading experience feels like riding a rollercoaster, and in the end I am no longer sure whether I would recommend this book or not. Overall, this book is not bad, though. I like Norton a lot, despite that he snaps even worse than Emily.
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Can we all just do a double take on that cover? So beautiful and detailed, ugh. It really sets the mood of the book for you and shows you what kind of mystery and enchantment are coming your way. 

More than Bones definitely took me a while to get into. For some reason I was having a hard time focusing and concentrating when trying to get through the beginning. If anyone else has this problem, stick with it! This book pays off! 

The whimsical fun characters definitely drew me in as well as wondering what was going on! Was the amulet magic? Was it bringing bad luck? The book balances it in a way that keeps you guessing. 

We written and intriguing, at the end of the day I really liked this one.
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I don't know what I thought to expect in More Than Bones but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The narrative is from the perspective of the main protagonist, Dr. Emily Norton, who had just moved to a new city and was completely ready to begin a new chapter of her life in Baltimore. She finds herself roommates in a glorious mansion with an eccentric landlord, Norton Theodore Wharton, who is as fabulous as they come. A strange interaction with an old man and the benefactor of a 300-year-old amulet as a result, Emily finds herself the victim of a series of unfortunate events (did you see what I did there?). 

I thought that there would be more focus on the magical amulet aspect of the narrative, but the amulet acts as more of a signpost to certain pivotal moments within Emily's journey of self-discovery. I have to say that I quite liked how the amulet was interwoven in this way. Instead, the narrative is kind of slice-of-life but also suspenseful - when Emily becomes embroiled in the middle of a terrible tragedy that brings an awful secret into the public sphere. Singer's ability to weave the realities of a physician in a busy hospital with the magical and a side dish of crime suspense, was really fantastic. For a debut novel, you can really observe the writing talent of Singer. 

Where the narrative itself succeeds, the characters are a bit more underwhelming. Well, I shouldn't say characters more character - the side characters in the narrative was hilarious, fun, strong and wholeheartedly themselves and I adored them. Honestly have not read a book where I fell in love with the chaotic side characters who bring love and support, and are sometimes assholes but are so with love. Instead, the character of Emily Norton was average. I found her to be quite average. I don't know how else to say it, other than she came across as an unlikeable person who always seemed to lash out at people and kind of came across as slightly judgmental. 

She was just too bland to read. 

But it was a fun story to read, even if the protagonist was not the most enjoyable. 

For a debut novel, Craig Singer shines. He is able to write an authentic and enjoyable narrative which brings everything one could ever want within a story. You have magic, doctors, friendships, a cat who is literally a queen (I will fight anyone who says otherwise) and a long journey of self-discovery and self-understanding. It was a great read and even though I did not fully enjoy the main protagonist as a character, More Than Bones was fun and an unpredictable read. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars and I have to say that I will be looking forward to any future works by Craig Singer!
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When I picked up this debut, all I knew was that the main character, Emily, is a surgical resident (as is the case in my debut novel), and that it involves touches of magic, so I picked it up right away. I'm so glad I did. More Than Bones is a fun ride of a book with a lot to say. When Emily arrives in Baltimore to start her internship, she has it all—a great job, a perfect fiancé, and a cozy place to live with her new roommate, Norton. But as the story quickly gets going, bad things start to happen to Emily. She gets a flat tire before she even starts her first day at work, her patients start getting sick, and she's entangled in horrible media storm through no fault of her own. Though she's never been a spiritual person, she starts to believe all of her bad luck is related to the strange amulet her next door neighbor gave her before he died.

I won't spoil any more of the plot so you can enjoy the bumpy ride for yourself. The characters are quirky and lovable, and the scenes are hilarious and touching, sometimes at the same time. I loved riding the bumps with Emily to see where this journey would go and whether it would eventually lead to smoother roadways. A physician living in Baltimore, Singer uses his knowledge to get all the details just right. While the story is totally entertaining, Singer also addresses a lot of important themes—coming to terms with homosexuality, finding one's own unique brand of spirituality, coming of age, and so much more. A delightful hidden gem.
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I was intrigued by this book as it seemed to have a lot of elements I like - mystery, a little paranormal, friendships, family conflicts and a conflicted female lead.  It hit the mark in all the right places.  I especially enjoyed the growth in the characters that results in a satisfying ending. I would love to find a Dr. Norton in my life.
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It's different than expected but not in a good way. I found it confusing and just a little too much of everything for me. It's not my type of book.
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This book had a bad case of multiple-personality disorder! There was too much going on!

This book suffers from a terrible synopsis in my opinion. With this book we have a synopsis that leads the reader to believe this will be a story about a magical amulet that can either give Emily all she desires or destroy her life. So I was expecting a book with a touch of magical realism, a hint of fairy tale, and perhaps even an element of parable with a good lesson learned about life. But instead this is what you get:

- A medical intern, Emily, learning to deal with her patients during a new residency.
- An entire story line dealing with LGBT issues.
- An entire story line about struggling with Christianity.
- Family drama galore!  Emily dislikes her Dad.  Emily misses her deceased Mom.  Emily's cousin has family drama. Emily's roommate Norton has his own family drama! A weird neighbor with his own drama! Every character seemed to have this insane family dynamic that was just too much.
- A horrible (and graphic) suicide with a awful genesis.
- Emily dealing with her own medical issues.
- Over the top characters - particularly the roommate Norton. His temper tantrums were totally out of character and scary in my opinion.
- Oh, yeah, there was something about an amulet in there somewhere.

The amulet was not what this story was about - at least it wasn't only what this story was about. The amulet was typically only mentioned, almost as an afterthought, at the end of each chapter. So, to me, the synopsis provided is misleading.

Nothing about this story felt organic or real to me except for the scenes with Emily in the hospital when she was dealing with her patients. The author is a doctor so it make sense that those scenes would be realistic. The rest of the book sadly felt contrived to me and a bit ridiculous if I am being honest.

I have no problem with a little suspension of belief for a good story, but everything in this one just ended up a little too tidy. There was too much going on for it to feel cohesive. Any one of the story lines I mentioned above, or even two or three of them, might have made for a much improved story. The book would have benefited from some editing in my opinion.

I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. I will say that I actually liked the author's writing style a lot. I would read another book by him based on his writing style alone. But as a whole, there were just too many themes crammed into this story for me to enjoy it fully.

I will always wonder if the synopsis was better if I would have enjoyed it more.

I rate my books as follows:  5 (I LOVED IT!), 4 (I really liked it), 3 (I liked it), 2 (It was just okay), and 1 (I didn’t like it at all). This book falls at a 2.5 for me; however, I don't give half scores so I am rounding up to a 3.

Thank you NetGalley and Twin Rabbit Books for a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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