Monday, December 30, 2013

ARC review: Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson

 
Many thanks to Net Galley and Sourcebooks for providing me with the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
When Lucy meets Matt on a blind date, Matt is instantly hooked; he sees Lucy as the fun, sexy, and wickedly smart girl of his dreams. Although she’s still getting over an old lover, Lucy is won over by Matt’s sweet, thoughtful nature. But 20 years later, alone in an empty house trying to imagine the lives of her two young children, Lucy comes to realize that the little lies you tell can create more damage than the truth you’re hiding.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
This novel started of with promise. I was immediately hooked and wanted to know who Lucy would end up with and why she no longer had her children. Did they die? Did she lose custody? The novel was full of promise.
 
However, the novel lost steam before the halfway mark and never regained it. It wasn't a bad novel, just mediocre and full of characters that weren't terribly likeable or interesting.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
It wasn't for me, but then, it wasn't bad either.
 
Rating:
 
3 stars. Neither here nor there.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17586469-lies-you-wanted-to-hear

ARC review: The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

 
Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House publishing for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
A riveting, poignant family drama perfect for readers of Defending Jacob and The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which explores the power of the secrets people keep-the darker, hidden facets of our lives, and what happens when they come to light.

Diagnosed with XP, a rare medical condition which makes him lethally sensitive to light, Tyler is a thirteen-year-old who desperately wants just one thing: to be normal. His mother Eve also wants just one thing: to protect her son. As Tyler begins roaming their cul-de-sac at night, cloaked in the safety of the darkness, he peers into the lives of the other families on the street-looking in on the things they most want hidden. Then, the young daughter of a neighbor suddenly vanishes, and Tyler may be the only one who can make sense of her disappearance…but what will happen when everyone's secrets are exposed to the light?
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
This novel was a fantastic, nail-biting read. It was a roller-coaster ride of a novel, full of suspense and twists but also full of heart. At the end I was left wondering exactly how far I would go if I was placed in a similar situation. My only complaint was the ending, which didn't quite feel buttoned up and I would've liked a more solid conclusion.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Yes!
 
Rating: 4 stars
 
 
                                                                           https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18248415-the-deepest-secret

ARC review: Ham: Slices of Life by Sam Harris

 Many thanks to Net Galley and Gallery books for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book will be published on January 14, 2014.

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


For fans of David Sedaris and Chelsea Handler, these stories and essays about friendship, celebrity, growing up and getting sober will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.With a wry style that evokes comparisons to Carrie Fisher, David Rakoff, and Steve Martin, Sam Harris proves that he is a natural humorist. Even The New York Times, in a review of one of his musical performances, called his stories “New Yorker-worthy.”


Brilliantly written, these sixteen stories span Harris’s life from growing up gay in the buckle of America’s Bible belt to performing on Oprah’s first show after 9/11. In “I Feel, You Feel” he opens for Aretha Franklin during a blizzard. “Promises” is a front-row account of Liza Minnelli’s infamous wedding to “the man whose name shall go unmentioned.” In the title story, “Ham,” he describes how he was upstaged by a young child actor, unknowingly addicted to the spotlight.


Taking on issues as diverse as addiction, fame, and parenting with his hilarious and deeply human voice, Harris’s entertaining tales trace an arc of personal triumph that is universally accessible and inspiring


This insomniac's opinion:

See the glowing review above comparing this compilation of stories to seasoned authors and comedians? Makes you want to read the book, doesn't it. How unfortunate that none of the above comparisons were even in the smallest bit accurate. Sigh.

I tried to like this book. We always want to love a book, don't we? I had no idea who Sam Harris was before reading this book, but he seems like a lovely fellow. Admirable, even. However, this book was just not well-written and seemed to be mostly a bunch stories about nothing, held together with abrasive celebrity spottings here and there. This book may read well to those who are fascinated with 70s and 80s celebrities and want to hear stories about how awful they were(with a few exceptions- he really seems to like Oprah, Liza and Bette).

I truly wish the author well in his life and with his family and am very sorry for the discrimination he had to overcome as a gay man in a society that wasn't kind to him. However, this book was not my cup of tea.

Worth staying up all night to read?

No.

Rating. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for Goodreads.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17571596-ham

Friday, December 27, 2013

ARC review: The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit

 
Many thanks to Net Galley and Bloomsbury USA for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
 
This book will be published February 25, 2014.
 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago—and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. box for an address in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn’t exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together—adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery.

And while the bomb was being invented, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from an abandoned school on a hill into a real community: one that was strained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges to the people of Los Alamos, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I truly loved this story. It took a chapter or two to acclimate to the first person plural that the story is written in, but I feel that it really lent a unique perspective to the story which spoke of both the unity and the discord amongst this community of women. It was a moving story of sacrifice, secrecy and ultimately, both pride and shame at being a part of the making of the first atomic bomb. I lost myself in the lives of these women and will never forget their stories.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Yes!
 
Rating: 4 stars
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17978193-the-wives-of-los-alamos

Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

 
Many thanks to Net Galley and Worthy publishing for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
Book synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
Who am I?

My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen and I'm about to die.

I'm buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I'm lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won't stop shaking.

Some will say that I m not really here. Some will say I'm delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I'm the one buried in a grave.

My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen. I'm about to die.

So who are you?

In a return to the kind of storytelling that made Black, Showdown and Three unforgettable, New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern day parable about how we see ourselves.

Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last pure escapism packed with inescapable truth. Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally.
 
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I've heard about the writing of Ted Dekker from several fellow readers and was excited to give one of his novels a try. Unfortunately, it is not for me. At all.
 
The characters were insipid and not well fleshed out. The novel is supposed to be scary, but it so unbelievable that I was not, in any way, frightened. For any situation to be scary, you have to believe it could actually happen, right? This was a convoluted tale that was reminiscent of a bad horror flick that was made for teen audiences And, the Christian spin at the end? Unimaginative and cheesy. Pass on this one, friends.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Um, no.
Rating: 1 star
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17187018-identity

Monday, December 16, 2013

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

 
Book summary(via Goodreads):
 
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I found this to be a very inventive and enjoyable read. It took quite some time to get into, as the "Groundhog Day" effect of starting over and over again was very abrasive, but that did get better as I read through. I can honestly say that I have never read anything like this novel, and considering how much I read, that is quite an accomplishment. I would have loved to give this novel 5 stars, but there were very few endearing characters and quite a few loose ends. Still a great read, though!
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Yes, but I recommend reading it over several sittings. It is thick and not entirely smooth to read.
 
Rating:
 
4 stars.
 

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford


Book summary(via Goodreads):



Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

This insomniac's opionion:


I'm having a love affair.

 SHHHH!Don't tell my husband!

My love affair is with *swoon* the work of Jamie Ford.

I rather adored Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. But, this novel. This novel- oh my goodness. It's a masterpiece, bookish buddies!

This is one of those novels which is full(oh so full) of heartbreak. And, yet it is written in such a romantic and endearing way that your soul rises up to meet the pages and you are forever changed. Read it, friends. And, don't forget the Kleenex.

I do think it is worth saying that this novel is not going to be for everyone, and I foresee some truly disliking this novel.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Oh my goodness, yes!

Rating:


5 stars





https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17232261-songs-of-willow-frost

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd


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

Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.
This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.


This insomniac's opinion:



 Oh, how I adored this novel. It is written with such honesty and manages to be languid and gripping and horrific and wonderful all in the scope of the same novel. The character's are both loveable and hateable. This was not an easy read by any means- it is painful to read at times, made even more painful by the knowledge that events similar to these actually happened in this country. The relationship between Handful and Sarah is not saccharine sweet, but a much more believable kinship and I was rooting for their friendship from the very beginning.  I was so involved in the novel that I found myself speaking aloud, telling the character's the secrets that they did not yet know.

 An impeccable read from Sue Monk Kidd.

Worth staying up all night to read?


YES!

Rating:


5 stars


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18079776-the-invention-of-wings

Sunday, December 8, 2013

8 Bit Christmas by Kevin Jakubowski



*Many thanks to Net Galley and DB press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. *

Synopsis(via Goodreads):


It's 1980-something and all nine-year-old Jake Doyle wants for Christmas is a Nintendo Entertainment System. No Jose Conseco rookie card, no GI Joe hovercraft, no Teddy friggin' Ruxpin--just Nintendo. But when a hyperactive Shih Tzu is accidentally crushed to death by a forty-two-inch television set and every parent in town blames Nintendo, it's up to Jake to take matters into his own hands. The result is a Christmas quest of Super Mario Bros. proportions, filled with flaming wreaths, speeding minivans, lost retainers, fake Santas, hot teachers, snotty sisters, "Super Bowl Shuffles" and one very naked Cabbage Patch Kid. Told from a nostalgic adult perspective, 8-Bit Christmas is a hilarious and heartfelt look back at the kid pop culture of the 1980s.


This insomniac's opinion:


Many thanks to my bookish buddy Jenni for recommending this read. It was truly delightful!

This book is mildly reminiscent of the movie "A Christmas Story", only taking place in the 80's. The author takes his memories of childhood and spins them into a humourous tale that all children, regardless of generation, can relate to- bullies that only become bigger with memory, parents who could be firm but also incredibly loving and teachers whom you still love or hate all these years later. This book is especially lovely for those of us(yes, this includes me, friends) who actually grew up in the 80s and remember the era with equal fondness and loathing.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes. Quick, simple read with lots of humor.

Rating:


4 stars



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18730452-8-bit-christmas

Perfect by Rachel Joyce


*Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House publishing for this advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.*


Synopsis(via Goodreads):


In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures.

Then Byron's mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron's perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?

This insomniac's review:


I was thrilled to receive this advanced reader's copy as I adored Rachel Joyce's superb novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. And, friends- Ms. Joyce did not disappoint!

Perfect is, well- perfect. It is more somber than Harold, and distinctly different. I quickly lost myself in the characters and the author's prose. I didn't come up for air until the last page was turned. Wonderful.

I do have to admit that I did not like it quite as much as Harold, but very close. And, kudos to the author for writing two such distinct novels.


Worth staying up all night to read?


YES!

Rating: 


5 stars



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17192373-perfect


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan


 *Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House publishing for this advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book synapsis(via Goodreads):


In her masterful new novel, Nancy Horan has recreated a love story that is as unique, passionate, and overwhelmingly powerful as the one between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney depicted so memorably in Loving Frank. Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world.

This insomniac's opinion:


I really wanted to like this novel. As I do every novel, of course, but even more when a publisher so kindly allows me to read it in advance of the publication date. Sigh. It was not to be.

This novel was supposedly based on some lively written communication between Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. If so, it is quite unfortunate that this novel was not at all lively or likeable. There was only one endearing character, who dies near the beginning. Then we are left with the rest of the selfish, uninteresting characters for the duration of the novel. Truly, by the end I just wanted it to be over.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Not for me.

Rating: 2 stars





https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17797253-under-the-wide-and-starry-sky

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


*Many thanks to Disney/Hyperion and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Book summary(via Goodreads):


It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.



This insomniac's opinion:


This novel is an awful lot like the movie Titanic. Except on a spaceship. Have I lost your interest yet? Because these facts almost made the book lose my interest at first. Almost.

However, the characters became quickly likeable, then loveable and soon I was entrenched in the journey of Lilac(clichéd rich girl, except-you guessed it- in space) and Tarver( clichéd poor kid, exept...okay, okay you get it). I really did enjoy it- the novel moved quickly and was compulsively readable.

Worth staying up all night to read?


If you like romance and don't mind a novel written more for the YA crowd.

Rating: 


3.5  stars




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13138635-these-broken-stars


The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert


Summary(via Goodreads):


In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

This insomniac's opinion:


I have a love/hate relationship with Liz Gilbert. Meaning that I loved Eat, Pray, Love and hated Committed. Despite this juxtaposition of feelings, I was anxious to read the new Gilbert.

I very much enjoyed this novel. It was a sweeping novel which takes place over the long life of it's protagonist, Alma. I admit that I am not very interested in botany, and that did make for some slow sections. However, I loved the whole of the novel and was endeared to nearly all of the characters by the end. Thoroughly readable and worthwhile piece of fiction to pick up and read!

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes!

Rating:


 4 stars



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17465453-the-signature-of-all-things

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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The Insomniac Bibliophile routinely contains third-party advertising and links to external third-party websites. By providing advertising and links to other sites, I do not guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link or advertising indicate any association with, or endorsement by, the linked site to the this website. I has no control over and makes no warranty or guarantee regarding the quality, usability, safety, morality or legality of any aspect of the items listed, the truth or accuracy of the listings or the ability of sellers to sell items or honor their coupon or promotion.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller

 Book synopsis(via Goodreads):
Four unforgettable characters beckon you into this spellbinding new novel from Sue Miller, the author of 2008’s heralded best seller The Senator’s Wife. First among them is Wilhelmina—Billy—Gertz, small as a child, fiercely independent, powerfully committed to her work as a playwright. The story itself centers on The Lake Shore Limited—a play Billy has written about an imagined terrorist bombing of that train as it pulls into Union Station in Chicago, and about a man waiting to hear the fate of his estranged wife, who is traveling on it. Billy had waited in just such a way on 9/11 to hear whether her lover, Gus, was on one of the planes used in the attack.

The novel moves from the snow-filled woods of Vermont to the rainy brick sidewalks of Boston as the lives of the other characters intersect and interweave with Billy’s: Leslie, Gus’s sister, still driven by grief years after her brother’s death; Rafe, the actor who rises to greatness in a performance inspired by a night of incandescent lovemaking; and Sam, a man irresistibly drawn to Billy after he sees the play that so clearly displays the terrible conflicts and ambivalence of her situation.

How Billy has come to create the play out of these emotions, how it is then created anew on the stage, how the performance itself touches and changes the other characters’ lives—these form the thread that binds them all together and drives the novel compulsively forward.

A powerful love story; a mesmerizing tale of entanglements, connections, and inconsolable losses; a marvelous reflection on the meaning of grace and the uses of sorrow, in life and in art: The Lake Shore Limited is Sue Miller at her dazzling best.


This insomniac's opinion:

I can review this book in two words- Melancholy monotony.

Worth staying up all night to read?

I dare you. Double dog dare you! Just try and stay up all night while reading this slow-moving novel. You can report back to me later with your failure. Or, success, if sleep is what you are looking for. However, your dreams will be sad, sad, sad.

Rating: 2 stars.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7624512-the-lake-shore-limited

The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

 
Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
Toward the end of the Vietnam era, in a snug little Rhode Island seacoast town, wonderful powers have descended upon Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, bewitching divorcées with sudden access to all that is female, fecund, and mysterious. Alexandra, a sculptor, summons thunderstorms; Jane, a cellist, floats on the air; and Sukie, the local gossip columnist, turns milk into cream. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox mansion and invites them in to play. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick—and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
Dear Mr. Updike(and all male authors)- Your masculine idea of what a "strong" woman is seems to always be a nymphomanical bitch. When you write a group of women and all of them seem to have this personality, it cannot be a coincidence. And, it disgusts me. So much so, that I cannot get past my disgust to get into your novel. The writing was fine, the plot was intriguing- yet, I am left with only disgust. And, that's a hard taste to get out of your mouth. Blech.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
No. The movie, however, is entertaining and less offensive.
 
Rating:
 
2 stars. My friend Christine rightfully thought I should lower my rating to 1 star. However, the writing isn't egregious enough to warrant this. Assholery alone doesn't warrant a one star review. Sigh.
 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/217518.The_Witches_of_Eastwick

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ARC review: Money A Love Story by Kate Northrup

 
 
Many thanks to Net Galley and Hay House publishing for providing me with the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
 
Book Synapsis(via Goodreads):
 
   Having a good relationship with money is tough—whether you have millions in the bank or just a few bucks to your name. Why? Because just like any other relationship, your life with money has its ups and downs, its twists and turns, its breakups and makeups. And just like other relationships, living happily with money really comes down to love. In fact, love is such an essential part of getting and keeping your financial house in order that money maven Kate Northrup made it the basis of her book.     After taking the Money Love Quiz to see where on the spectrum your relationship with money stands—somewhere between “on the outs” and “it’s true love!”—Northrup takes you on a rollicking ride to a better understanding of yourself and your money. Step-by-step exercises that address both the emotional and practical aspects of your financial life help you figure out your personal perceptions of money and wealth and how to change them for the better. You’ll learn about thought patterns that may be holding you back from earning what you’re worth or saving what you can. You’ll learn how to chart your current financial life and create a plan to get you to where you want to be—whether that’s earning enough to live in a penthouse in Manhattan or a cabin in the Rockies.     Using client stories and her own saga of moving from $20,000 in debt to complete financial freedom by the age of 28, Northrup acts as a guide in your quest for personal financial freedom. She’ll teach you how to shift your beliefs about money, create a budget, spend in line with your values, get out of debt, and so much more. In short, she’ll teach you to love your money, so you can love your life.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I read this book because I've realized lately how negative my thoughts and feelings are toward money. Even though I live very comfortably, money is a constant source of stress for me. I am always worried about not having enough and it is not a comfortable place to be.
 
 
I am conflicted on this book. On the one hand, Kate's story is not relatable to the average Joe. She has always been wealthy and went into debt by living way above her means. However, she is down-to-Earth and honest. On the other hand, there are some great suggestions and thoughts in this book.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Much like any non-fiction book, it's not really a page-turner!
 
Rating: 3 stars- good information at times, but not relatable to most.



Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


Sunny Mann has masterminded a life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town. Her house and her friends are picture-perfect. Even her genius husband, Maxon, has been trained to pass for normal. But when a fender bender on an average day sends her coiffed blonde wig sailing out the window, her secret is exposed. Not only is she bald, Sunny is nothing like the Stepford wife she’s trying to be. As her facade begins to unravel, we discover the singular world of Sunny, an everywoman searching for the perfect life, and Maxon, an astronaut on his way to colonize the moon.

Theirs is a wondrous, strange relationship formed of dark secrets, decades-old murders and the urgent desire for connection. As children, the bald, temperamental Sunny and the neglected savant Maxon found an unlikely friendship no one else could understand. She taught him to feel—helped him translate his intelligence for numbers into a language of emotion. He saw her spirit where others saw only a freak. As they grew into adults, their profound understanding blossomed into love and marriage.

But with motherhood comes a craving for normalcy that begins to strangle Sunny’s marriage and family. As Sunny and Maxon are on the brink of destruction, at each other’s throats with blame and fear of how they’ve lost their way, Maxon departs for the moon, where he’s charged with programming the robots that will build the fledgling colony. Just as the car accident jars Sunny out of her wig and into an awareness of what she really needs, an accident involving Maxon’s rocket threatens everything they’ve built, revealing the things they’ve kept hidden. And nothing will ever be the same.

This insomniac's opinion:


This was one of those novels that is painfully beautiful. It resonated with me on such a level that I had to put it down several times to reflect on my life. There have been a handful of novels this year that hit me in the same manner. It felt as though the novel was a mirror reflecting back to me some of the uncomfortable truths of my life-the fact that I try too hard to fit in(even as I pride myself on being different), the way that I have never truly fit in with the suburban mothers around me, no matter the energy I put into it and the amount of time and energy I spend acquiring things so that I can attempt to fit in and be "invisible".

At the opening of the novel, I thought I was going to hate it. Sunny seemed to be the antithesis of everything that I believe it. She seemed snobby and shallow. However, the unique writing style of the author drew me in and, as Sunny's layers were peeled back, I realized that she was just like me. Just.like.me.

This book is a must read for the Suburban misfit Mom struggling between being herself and fitting in so that her children can fit in.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes!

Rating: 


5 stars




ARC review: The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten

 
Many thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin publishing for providing me with the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel has a publication date of October 29, 2013.
 

Book summary(via Goodreads):
 
 
In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child's life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family's troubled history in the dark days of World War II… 

It's the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.

Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration with the local police to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents' attic leave her with as many questions as answers and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family's darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her.

As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she's drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother's alliances may have long ago sealed her  own and Rose's fate.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I enjoyed this novel but would have enjoyed it much more if there had been much more of the stories of those around Amsterdam during the second world war. The title of this novel is derived from the stories of the Jews during the Holocaust who were forced out of their homes and, in desperation from starvation, dug up tulip bulbs to eat. The historical pieces of this novel were truly fascinating and led me into deep thought about how brave(or weak) I might have been if I had been there during those times.
 
Unfortunately, the core of the story-rooted in the present-was not as fascinating. In fact, the ending was far too action-packed and unbelievable for me. I was so frustrated that I hesitated to finish the last few pages. However, overall this was a good read. I liked it, but did not love it.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
If you like mystery with a touch of history, it might be.
 
Rating: 3 stars


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

This insomniac's opinion:


I found this novel to be vaguely reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, so if you loved that novel- give this one a try!

This novel is written entirely in letters, which may be a turn-off to some. However, I truly loved it! The letters lend to give the reader a unique sense of the characters and an entirely new dynamic to the relationship between the characters. The forbidden, war-time romance leaves the reader swooning and desperate to finish the novel so that she can find out if they end up together or not. Lovely read.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes. Especially if you are a romantic!


Rating: 


4 stars




The Last Summer(of You & Me) by Ann Brashares

 
Book synopsis(via Goodreads):
Set on Long Island's Fire Island, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is an enchanting, heartrending page-turner about sisterhood, friendship, love, loss, and growing up. It is the story of a beach community friendship triangle-Riley and Alice, two sisters in their twenties, and Paul, the young man they've grown up with-and what happens one summer when budding love, sexual curiosity, a sudden serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, launching the friends into an adult world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.

As wise, compelling, and endearing as her Traveling Pants series, and as lyrical, thoughtful, and moving as the best literary women's fiction, this novel is sure to win an entire new generation of adult fans.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
Ugh. I think Ann Brashares should probably stick with the YA genre. This was painful. An entire book of characters whining about how awful it is to grow up. Then, the one likeable character dies and the reader is left to finish the novel with the remaining characters whining AND grieving. Sigh. I can't believe I finished it.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Decidedly not.
 
Rating: 1 star


ARC review: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

 *Many thanks to Net Galley and Atria books for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be published on November 5, 2013*

Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget...

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

This insomniac's opinion:

Diane Setterfield.

Swoon.

I.love.Diane Setterfield. Have you read The Thirteenth Tale? If not, run right out and grab it. IT is Diane Setterfield's first masterpiece of a novel. Fabulousness. But, I digress. Because I  adored Diane Setterfield's first novel, I was thrilled to be provided with her second novel Bellman & Black. She did not disappoint.

Bellman & Black has a decidedly different feel from The Thirteenth Tale. It is dark from the very opening pages and continues in its stark bleakness until the very last. However, there are light points and many lessons throughout the pages. In fact, at the ending of the novel one begins to wonder if the entire novel is a lesson and an important life reminder from the author. The reader is, in no subtle manner, reminded of how precious and short life is and not to squander those precious years and things that are of no importance. Mr. Bellman, the focus of the entire novel, is often unlikeable. Yet, the reader finds herself rooting for him and hoping, against all hopes, that he will find his way in the world. This is a starkly beautiful and intricately told story that I will not soon forget.

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes. In fact, I dare you to try to stop reading once you begin. The mystery of Mr. Black will draw you in and not let you go until the last page.

Rating: 4 stars





Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

 
 
Book synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.
Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.
Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I loved, loved, loved this novel. However, I feel that much of my feelings regarding the characters had to do with my personal experiences as a pediatric nurse who works with special needs children and their families. Therefore, others may read this novel and wonder why I loved it so.
 
I admit that this novel is a bit chick-litty(yes, chick-litty is a word. Or, it should be). And, I generally wouldn't give chick lit 5 stars. However, something about the intensity of the characters rang true with my soul and I adored the book. Lisa Genova writes eloquently but does not stray from tackling true, raw emotions of a mother grieving her son. In this novel, she takes the reader along on a journey to the very depths of that grief. And yet-somehow, at the end, the reader is left with a feeling of resolution and hope. Perfection.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
Yes. Have a box of tissue ready.
 
Rating: 5 stars
 
 
 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft


*Many thanks to Net Galley and Sourcebooks for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. *


 Synopsis(via Goodreads):


One wrong step could send her over the edge.

All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

Kathryn Craft’s lyrical debut novel is a masterful portrayal of a young woman trying to come to terms with her body and the artistic world that has repeatedly rejected her. The Art of Falling expresses the beauty of movement, the stasis of despair, and the unlimited possibilities that come with a new beginning.


This insomniac's opinion:


It is very hard to believe that this novel is Ms. Craft's first. It is exquisitely written with a carefully crafted plot that carefully unfolds into a beautiful ending. There were moments that were so perfect and well-written that I had to stop and reread the section, sometimes more than once. It is a story of finding yourself in the midst of your life falling apart, of letting go of the person you have always been in order to find your true self. I sat for quite some time in reflection after the last page was turned.Truly moving novel and I hope the author will write many more.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes!

Rating: 


4.5 stars(rounded down to 4 for Goodreads)




ARC review: The Back Road by Rachel Abbott

 

*Many thanks to Net Galley and Amazon publishing for giving me an advance reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. *
 
Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
One girl is fighting for her life.
One village is struggling to hold tight to its secrets.

When a young girl is knocked over and left for dead at the side of
the road, the small community of Little Melham goes into shock. Why
was Abbie out so late at night, and why wasn't she missed?

For Ellie Saunders, the truth about that night could put her marriage
and even the safety of her children in jeopardy. She has to protect
her family, no matter what the consequences.

Former DCI Tom Douglas thought that Little Melham would offer a
peaceful retreat from the daily trauma of his work for the Met. But
as he is drawn into the web of deceit, his every instinct tells him
that what happened to Abbie was more than a tragic accident.

Only one person knows the whole story - why Abbie was out that night,
and who was driving the car. For that person, the accident spells
disaster, and somebody has to pay.
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
Holy buckets, this novel was intense! I'm fairly sure that I lost a couple of centimeters off of each of my fingernails during the reading of this intense novel.
 
The novel opens with a creepy flashback which immediately made me wonder what on Earth I had gotten into when agreeing to review this novel. It was a stormy night in my neck of the woods and, after my hubs went to bed, I had decided to stay up and read. Immediately after starting this novel, I realized that I was not reading any sort of fairy tale and let the creeptastic reading experience commence. The novel reminded me a bit of a Gillian Flynn novel in the sense that the reader never knows what is coming next and there are twists and turns nearly every chapter. However, unlike a Flynn novel, the characters were likeable(for the most part). The original mystery of what had happened to Abbie quickly morphs into a myriad of mysteries that I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of. I voraciously finished this novel in one night, as evidenced by my bloodshot, tired eyes the next morning.
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
I did!
 
Rating: 4 stars