Saturday, February 25, 2017

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure here


Book synopsis(via Goodreads)


Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?

***Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel is set to be published in April of 2017***


This insomniac's opinion:


I truly enjoyed this author's novel This Raging Light, of which this novel is a companion to. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you pick it up.

While I admit that I did not enjoy this novel as thoroughly as This Raging Light, it was a fascinating read. Estelle Laure writes with beautiful, flowery language and is swept away into a story in which the author is unfraid to tackle such subjects as death, the afterlife and recovery after tragedy.

I think that young girls and women especially will enjoy this YA read.

Rating: 


3.5 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes, particularly if you are a young woman. 

                                                             

Unclobber by Colby Martin

This review may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy here


Book synopsis(via Goodreads): 


Churches in America are experiencing an unprecedented fracturing due to their belief and attitude toward the LGBT community. Armed with only six passages in the Bible often known as the clobber passages the conservative Christian position has been one that stands against the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters. Unclobber reexamines each of those frequently quoted passages of Scripture, alternating with author Colby Martin's own story of being fired from an evangelical megachurch when they discovered his stance on sexuality.

UnClobber reexamines what the Bible says (and does not say) about homosexuality in such a way that breathes fresh life into outdated and inaccurate assumptions and interpretations.

***Many thanks to Westminster John Knox Press and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ***

This Insomniac's opinion: 


This book came along at just the right time for me. I had left a church that i had attended for many years due the pastor's discrimination against an homosexual pastor. On the same day that i publicly denounced that pastor's actions, I saw a post by Glennon Doyle Melton(who wrote the forward of this book) about this amazing book. Then, again the same day, I saw that this book was available to me as an advanced reader's copy for free. Kismet. 

This isn't necessarily the kind of book that one enjoys, per se. It is, however, full of information for those of us that are tired of "Christians" using what Mr. Martin calls the "clobber verses" of the bible to denounce and choose those who may identify as LGBTQ. It is a book that is full of kindness and compassion and gives the reader many things to ponder. I highly recommend it. 

Rating: 


4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes 


                                                                   

Monday, January 2, 2017

Best of 2016

This post may contain affiliate links, please see full disclosure here.

In the year of 2016, I read 145 books. My goal for the Goodreads challenge was 105 books, but truth be told- I always mentally shoot for 150. I didn't make it to 150 but I did read some incredible books, most pointedly more non-fiction books than ever before.

I'll break down the "winners" by category but I positively refuse to rank them in each group.

Let's start with non-fiction, in a departure from the way that I normally write this list. Nearly all of my favorite books this year were non-fiction, after all.

Non-fiction

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Ms. Woodson(a National Book award and Newberry award winner) writes an absolutely eloquent and moving book of poetry of what it was like to grow up as an African American child in the 1960s and 70s. A heavenly and poignant read that you will never forget.

                                                            

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice of Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Mr. Stevenson, a young lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, is the true story of an idealistic young man that spends his life fighting for justice for those who have none. The story is told both through the coming of age of the author and the harrowing stories of his clients. It is a poignant and painful indictment of the current American justice system and race relations in our country. I believe that absolutely everyone should read this. 


                                                              

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

You may know Mr. Noah from his work on The Daily Show. This book tells of his surprising beginnings in South Africa where he was "born a crime"when his white, Swiss father had a child with his black Xhosa mother. This book is alternately laugh out loud hilarious, absolutely shocking and poignant. I can't imagine a more appropriate book for times as the author tells us to be wary of governments that divide us to better rule the people. As always, history is our greatest teacher. 

As a side note, I would love to meet his mother some day. Trevor clearly speaks of some of his mother's flaws in the book(we are all flawed, after all) but she seems absolutely extraordinary. 


                                                               

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn


An absolutely powerful book of stories that is overall a call for the world to rise up and stand against the worldwide oppression of woman. Inspirational, harrowing and desperately sad all at once. 



                                                               

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Just as he was completing a decade of training to be a neurosurgeon, Dr. Kalanithi is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He died in March of 2015 while writing this poignant book, but his words were left to us as a guide of what is really important in our lives. Stunningly honest and beautiful piece of work and maybe of particularly of importance to those, like me, that are in the medical field. 


                                                                  

Look at You Now: My Journey from Shame to Strength by Liz Pryor


The previously untold story of Liz Pryor's journey in 1979 as an unexpectedly pregnant seventeen year-old sent off to a locked facility for juvenile offenders and young pregnant women to have her baby. An extraordinary and detailed story of those months many years ago and how they have impacted the author's life forever. It reads so beautifully that it felt like fiction, but had truths inside that burn as only true stories can. 


                                                                  

Fiction


Sold by Patricia McCormick


Yes, this is categorized as a children's book. Don't let that scare you off, Loves. Lakshmi is a desperately poor Nepali girl who is told that she must take a job to help her  family. She is told that she will go on a journey to become a maid, but instead ends up placed in the unthinkable position of being sold into prostitution. This book will stick with you long after the last page is turned. 


                                                                    

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This one surprised me. I did not expect to love it so much. Finch and Violet are two people that no one would expect to form a friendship- after all, Finch is obsessed with death and Violet is obsessed with the future. They meet on the ledge of the bell tower and an unlikely friendship blossomed. The novel is equally gripping and poignant, a page-turner that will leave you breathless. 


                                                                    

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is a young Lithuanian girl in 1941. She lives a pretty normal life until the night that soldiers barge into the safety of her home, separating her family and sending her on a journey of hope amidst war and destruction. This one is, again, a children's book that is so stunningly written that whole families can come together to read it. 

                                                                     

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

Annie Bell is a young woman living in Oklahoma during the dust bowl. Dust covers everything and times are desperate for her family and all of the midwest. Her family, once held together so fragilely, begins to split apart under the strain of their life and Annie find escape in an unlikely place- an escape that may cost her more than she ever prepared for. This novel was written so beautifully that I lost myself inside the pages. 


                                                                      

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Another book that I never expected would find it's way onto my year end best-of list. I've never read a book that can hold tension so tight throughout the entirety of a novel. Absolutely the most creative and gripping novel that I've ever read. An apocalyptic novel like no other. 


                                                                     

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk


Yet another Children's book. Are you seeing a theme. No longer is serious fiction relegated to the adult sections of the library, a fact that I find quite thrilling for our younger readers. 

Annabelle lives a quiet life in Pennsylvania until Toby, a strange WWI veteran, is targeted by Annabelle's cruel classmate Betty. Their lives will never be the same. 


                                                                   

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow


This was a novel after my own heart and in many ways mirrored the deep depression that haunted me throughout my teen years. Gritty at times, moving, honest and much-needed in today's world, this story of Charlotte as she weathers the pain of her life will stay with you forever. 


                                                                      

What was your favorite book of 2016?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie Mclemore




Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.


***Many thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin's press for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.***

This insomniac's opinion:

The writing in this novel is so beautiful at times that it is almost painful. Yet, it was so fantastical in parts that it was unbelievable. I am torn in rating it. Some of the paragraphs were stunning and lovely and read them over multiple times just to hear the words on my tongue again. However, it didn't all mesh up well together and by the end I was rather happy to turn the final page. 

Note: The author's note at the end was five stars alone and made me weep. Don't pass that up at the end. 

Rating: 

3 stars- some may love it, others may not. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

Maybe

Want to buy on Amazon? Check it out below(affiliate link):


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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis


Book synopsis(via Goodreads): 

Fiona Davis's stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City's glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon's glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.
 

***Many thanks to Net Galley and Penguin for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.***

This insomniac's opinion: 


Yet another book that's been buzzing about that I'm not sure about my feelings on. 

On one hand, it's engrossing at the beginning and has an element of suspense. Darby is a likable character and I think many readers will identify with her clumsy awkwardness and struggle to fit in. 

On the other hand, there were long boring stretches in which I wasn't really sure that I cared about the mystery at all. 

This one is a wash for me. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


Not for me, but maybe for others. 

Rating: 


3 stars

Want to read more? Head over to Amazon(affiliate link)


                                                             

5 Books About Gratitude for Thanksgiving Season


This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, my American friends(and our friends around the globe that celebrate it with us). It seems that summer and it's bounty just left us and here we are preparing for the holiday season.

If you are like me, the holiday season and the mad rush of cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, party-going, etcetera can be overwhelming and take away from the spirit of the season. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude for the our lives and loved ones. I am planning to sink into that gratitude with some help from books about gratitude and thankfulness.

1. Gratitude: A Journal by Catherine Price.

Okay, so this one isn't really a book, it's a journal. I first started keeping a gratitude journal after watching an episode of Oprah years ago when she talked about this practice(that woman has a lot of wisdom). It is life changing. What is unique about this journal is that it has prompts for when you are feeling stuck. The cover is also gorgeous.



This is a collection of essays and practical suggestions for tapping into the joy in your life. Easy to read even for those who may not be regular readers. 



This book is not like the others. It has ten guideposts from the always insightful Brene Brown as she gives us the courage to not only embrace the "good" parts of ourselves, but to learn to also embrace the imperfect parts of ourselves. I love all of Brene's work. 



This book is extraordinarily emotional and heart-filled book penned by Oliver Sacks after he was diagnosed in 2015 with a reoccurrence of cancer and penned an essay in the New York Times that inspired people over the entire world. These four essays will spark inside you a deep gratitude for your own individual path and the world that we live in. 




This ones for the kiddos. Your kids, like mine, may love Mo Willems. This is in the Elephant and Piggie series and is an adorable and accessible way to help teach our kids gratitude for everything. 






Sunday, October 30, 2016

Worthy


Book symopsis(via Goodreads): 
When we feel that we aren’t enough, or that we aren’t good enough,
we also fear that we’ll never have enough
Money. We love it. We hate it. If we don’t have enough, we’re struggling to get more. If we do have it, we’re fighting to hold on to it. Why does money have to be such a source of anxiety? Is it possible to find a balance? Yes! According to integrative life coach Nancy Levin, the real key to creating financial freedom isn’t changing what we do, it’s changing how we feel—and that requires more than just learning how to invest.

In Worthy, Nancy makes an essential, eye-opening connection: the state of our net worth is a direct reflection of our self-worth. Then she shows us how to get to the root of the problem and do the internal work that’s needed to replace feelings of unworthiness with a stronger sense of our own value. Filled with inspiring real-life stories and thought-provoking questions and answers, her 10-step plan helps us to:

·         Get real about the money issues we face every day
·         Examine the excuses we use to avoid creating the life we really want
·         Be willing to see ourselves as worthy of abundance in all its forms
·         Take back our financial power—and watch amazing things start to happen

Whether we’re looking for financial ease or a new relationship with money and ourselves, Worthy will give us the tools to clear the path for wholeness, fulfillment, and richness in all areas of our lives, not just in our bank accounts. 
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Hay House Publishing for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ***

This insomniac's opinion:

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one. I've realized rather recently that my mindset is one of fear and lack so I've begun picking up books in regard to money mindset. This one is one that I neither loved nor hated.

I'm sure that there is good advice in this book, its just delivered in a rather boring and clunky way.

Worth staying up all night to read?

No, it definitely isn't that kind of book!

Rating:

3 stars. 


Interested? Check it out on Amazon below(affiliate link)!