Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Novel synopsis(via Net Galley):


In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

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


This insomniac's opinion: 


This novel reminded me vaguely of The Unlikely Pilgrammage of Harold Fry(One of my favorites from last year. In the beginning pages of the novel we meet Ove, a lonely curmudgeon of a man who lives his life wreaking havoc on those around him. I knew immediately that I would become very fond of Ove. 

This novel is not like my "typical" reads, and surprised me with its simplistic wit and how fervently I came to love the characters, especially Ove. This novel will end up on my "Best reads of 2014" list, for sure!


Worth staying up all night to read?


YES!

Rating:

5 stars





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion



Description:



The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant. 

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie. 

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most. 



***Many thanks to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be published on December 30th, 2014.***



This insomniac's opinion:


Oh. Ugh. Just ugh.


I loathe when a second novel in a series doesn't come even close to living up  to the first(do any of them??). I loved The Rosie Project so, so much. I fell in love with Don and Rosie and tucked them into my heart for safekeeping. This novel finds us back with the characters we love, but now outer circumstances are forcing our beloved couple apart.


This novel was slow-moving and disappointing for me. The character of the social worker was so unbelievable that whole sections of the novel fell flat.


Still, over all-definitely worth the read if you liked the first novel.


Rating: 3 stars






The Good Sister by Jamie Kain





Description


The Kinsey sisters live in an unconventional world. Their parents are former flower-children who still don’t believe in rules. Their small, Northern California town is filled with free spirits and damaged souls seeking refuge from the real world. Without the anchor of authority, the three girls are adrift and have only each other to rely on.

Rachel is wild. Asha is lost. Sarah, the good sister, is the glue that holds them together. But the forces of a mysterious fate have taken Sarah’s life in a sudden and puzzling accident, sending her already fractured family into a tailspin of grief and confusion. Asha has questions. Rachel has secrets. And Sarah, waking up in the afterlife, must piece together how she got there.
Jamie Kain brings us The Good Sister, a stunning debut young adult novel about love in all its joyful, painful, exhilarating manifestations, and about the ties that bind us together, in life and beyond.

**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:
I tend to have a thing for sister reads. Why? I imagine it's the juxtaposition between the close bond and the intense rivalry that many sisterhoods have. Makes for a good read, right?
This YA novel explored the highs and lows of sisterhood while unraveling the secrets of Sarah's life...and death.
Rating: 3.5 stars: Fast moving, emotional and entertaining without being too heavy for a teen drama.   



The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane




Description

She has complete control…and he's determined to take it away 

A librarian in the small town of Hood River, Natalie Clayton's world is very nearly perfect. After a turbulent childhood and her once-wild ways, life is now under control. But trouble has a way of turning up unexpectedly—especially in the tall, charismatically sexy form of Paddy Hurley…. 

And Paddy is the kind of trouble that Natalie has a taste for. 

Even after years of the rock-and-roll lifestyle, Paddy never forgot the two wickedly hot weeks he once shared with Natalie. Now he wants more…even if it means tempting Natalie and her iron-grip control. But there's a fine line between well-behaved and misbehaved—and the only compromise is between the sheets!
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
This insomniac's opinion:
Ah, my bookish friends- I have a confession for you.
Yes- ANOTHER one.
I requested this novel on Net Galley purely because I LOVE this author on twitter. It is not my usual reading style, but I thought-what do I have to lose?
It was a very enjoyable read, with likeable, if a bit unbelievable characters. This book is not for those that do not like hot sex scenes, but this insomniac doesn't mind a little heat every now and again- how else can an Iowa girl stay warm in the winter?
Rating:
3 stars for an enjoyable, don't-take-me-too-seriously, hot romp. Place your fan next to your reading chairs, Bookish Babes!

The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan





Description

On the eve of WWI, two students fall in love in Harvard’s hallowed halls, and must face a world at war from opposing sides. 
The spirited daughter of a suffragette, Helen Windship Brooks is struggling to find her place in Boston bluestocking society. When she wins a coveted place in an all-male writing course, she meets the enigmatic Wils Brandl, a German nobleman’s son and one of the university’s star students. 
But when Wils is called to fight for the Kaiser, he turns into a campus target, and Boston’s elegant society becomes a battleground. As Wils decides whether to give up his adopted country, Helen is forced to choose if she is ready to fight for what she loves most. 
The End of Innocence recalls the society world of Edith Wharton and the star-crossed love of Atonement—a powerful, gorgeously wrought debut of love and hope set against the brutal realities of war. Inspired by a little-known controversy at America’s most prestigious university, it will be published on the centenary of WWI.
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Sourcebooks for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. ***
This insomnic's opinion:
This novel was well-written, for sure. However, it was a bit meandering and I never felt fully vested in the characters.
The end should have been sad for me, as the reader, but I simply wasn't vested enough in the story or the characters to care.
Rating:
3 stars. Not quite the novel for me, but I'll keep my mind open if the author has another novel in the future as this one did have potential.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21894404-the-end-of-innocence?from_search=true

Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyer





Description

From the bestselling author of The Comfort of Lies, an engrossing look at the darker side of a marriage—and at how an ordinary family responds to an extraordinary crisis.

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.


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


This insomniac's opinion:

You can always count on Randy Susan Meyer to give a no-holds barred emotional accounting of whatever situation her current novel is about. This is no exception.

This novel addressed the tender topic of spousal anger and emotional neglect and how that can change a family forever.

I vacillated between feeling badly for Maddy, the protagonist in this novel, and just wishing she would take a stand in the way she likely coaches her clients to(she is a social worker in the novel). She was a likeable and honest character and I understood her from the beginning.


Rating: 4 stars. Solid writing and a good read if you like an emotional and female-driven novel.




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18774980-accidents-of-marriage?from_search=true

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You by Caroline Kepnes


Many thanks to Atria books and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Novel Synopsis(via Goodreads):

Love hurts...

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect fa├žade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

This insomniac's opinion: 

Holy buckets! That escalated quickly! 

I have honestly never read a novel from the perspective of "the bad guy" that was so wholly engrossing before. I was drawn in slowly and was suddenly rushing through to the mad finish as though I was an accomplice. It felt dirty. Wonderfully dirty. 

Not my usual cup of tea by any stretch(and likely wouldn't be for everyone-vivid sex scenes, profanity, brutality) but I will not be forgetting this one for a while!

Worth staying up all night to read?

I cannot state enough that this novel was not for everyone, but I stayed up all night for sure!

Rating: 4 stars




The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin


Many thanks to Atria Books and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this novel.

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
"Human beings are more productive than ever before, but they're also unhappier. They feel oppressed by the limits of their lives: the boredom, the repetition, the fatigue. What if you could use your sleep to do more—to receive all of the traditional regenerative benefits while problem-solving, healing, even experiencing alternate worlds?

Wouldn't you be capable of extraordinary things?"


So asks Dr. Adrian Keller, a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming. Keller is headmaster of a BOARDING SCHOOL in Northern California where Sylvie Patterson, a student, falls in love with a spirited classmate named Gabe. Over the next six years, Gabe and Sylvie become increasingly involved in Keller's work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka, CA to the coast of New England.

But when Keller receives a commission from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled, dangerous relationship with their intriguing neighbors, and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller's research. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn't, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia and a new sense of rebellion.

Both a coming-of-age story and an exploration of the subconscious mind, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS explores the murky landscape of the human psyche and the fine line that defines our moral boundaries.

This insomniac's opinion: 

I requested this novel because I loved the concept and am rather fascinated with the idea of lucid dreaming. Unfortunately, it wasn't well executed. 

The novel was slow moving, even to the point of being tedious at times. I hung on and kept reading simply because I was hoping for a big finish. The entire novel seemed to be setting up for a big twist at the end and I LOVE a big twist. However, the big twist was, well-little. And, also-not really a twist as I had a good idea of what was going to happen. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

No. Kudos to the author on a great concept, but it didn't pan out for me. 

Rating: 2 stars


F by Daniel Kehlmann


Many thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and Net Galley for the advanced readers copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Synopsis(via Net Galley): F is for family. F is for fortune. F is for fraud. F is for fate.
 
From the internationally acclaimed author of Measuring the World, here is a dazzling tragicomedy about three brothers whose father takes on the occult and both wins and loses.
 
Arthur is a dilettante, a wannabe writer who decides to fill an afternoon by taking his three young sons to a performance by the Great Lindemann, Master of Hypnosis. While allowing one of them to be called onto the stage and made a spectacle of, Arthur declares himself to be immune to hypnosis and a disbeliever in all magic. But the Great Lindemann knows better. He gets Arthur to tell him his deepest secrets and then tells him to make them real. That night, Arthur empties the family bank account, takes his passport, and vanishes. He’s going to become a world-famous author, a master of the mystical. (F is for fake.)
 
But what of the boys? Martin, painfully shy, grows up to be a Catholic priest without a vocation. (F is for faith, and lack of it.) Eric becomes a financier (F is for fraud), losing touch with reality as he faces ruin, while Ivan, destined for glory as a painter, instead becomes a forger. (F is for forgery, too.) They’ve settled into their life choices, but when the summer of the global finiancial crisis dawns they’re thrown together again with cataclysmic results.
 
Wildly funny, heartbreaking, tragic, Daniel Kehlmann’s novel about truth, family, and the terrible power of fortune is a fictional triumph.


This insomniac's opinion:

Ugh. Just Ugh. I do not have ADD/ADHD but reading this book made me feel as though I did. As soon as I was acclimated to the story, there's a complete shift and I was to find my feet again. It's disconcerting and discombobulating. 

This became one of those books that one absolutely DREADS continuing to read and I found myself finding anything at all else to do in order to avoid the book-dishes, laundry, root canals.... 

Worth staying up all night to read?

Uh, no. Didn't you just read the above review?

Rating: 

1 star





Saturday, August 16, 2014

ARC review: The Undertaking by Audrey Magee


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

Desperate to escape the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met; it is a marriage of convenience that promises 'honeymoon' leave for him and a pension for her should he die on the front. With ten days' leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin; both are surprised by the attraction that develops between them.

When Peter returns to the horror of the front, it is only the dream of Katharina that sustains him as he approaches Stalingrad. Back in Berlin, Katharina, goaded on by her desperate and delusional parents, ruthlessly works her way into the Nazi party hierarchy, wedding herself, her young husband and their unborn child to the regime. But when the tide of war turns and Berlin falls, Peter and Katharina, ordinary people stained with their small share of an extraordinary guilt, find their simple dream of family increasingly hard to hold on to...


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


This insomniac's opinion:

Holy buckets. This novel turned my heart inside out. I'm not sure if(even with my WWII obsession) that I've ever read a novel from the perspective of the family of a Nazi soldier.

I have to admit that, as I expected, most of these characters seemed to be conceited assholes. However, they were(mostly) likeable assholes. Yes, yes-likeable assholes exist. Sigh.

This was a gritty and well written read. I read it in a single sitting. The ending is not what the reader would hope, but seemed realistic and fitting, if desperately sad.


Rating:

4 stars


Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18807408-the-undertaking

ARC review: The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue

 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 

Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, ten-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper, who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all.

In the tradition of The Turn of the Screw, Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a mesmerizing tale of psychological terror and imagination run wild, a perfectly creepy read for a dark night.
 
 
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Macmillan-Picador for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. ***
 
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I rarely read suspenseful books, but was definitely in the mood during a dreary rainy day last week so I picked this one out.
 
It was certainly suspenseful. It was pensive and slow-moving, with just enough action to keep the reader engaged. I enjoyed the characters and felt they were just likeable enough to keep me invested in their fate.
 
However, as the mystery finally unraveled, it just wasn't believable enough for it to be scary.
 
 
Rating:
 
3.5 stars
 
 
Worth staying up all night?
 
Yes.
 
 


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20518987-the-boy-who-drew-monsters

ARC review: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas



Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away.

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.



***Many thanks to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.***


This insomniac's opinion:

The end started out in a very promising way. I instantly felt moved by the characters and wanted to know more. However, once we get past Eileen's childhood, the story became slow-moving and melancholy.

I did not feel truly invested in the characters until the final half, and still found most unlikeable. However, the ending held a solid, if depressing truth.


Rating:

3 stars

Worth staying up all night?

I'm torn on whether or not to recommend this one. It really does have redeeming qualities but was quite hard to slog through much of it.




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17830123-we-are-not-ourselves

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ARC review: The Seventh Mother by Sherri Wood Emmons


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

A young girl searches for a mother's love amid unfolding secrets, in this riveting and emotionally complex novel from acclaimed author Sherri Wood Emmons. The summer that her father falls in love with Emma, Jenny Bohner is just turning eleven. Jenny was three when her mother died, and since then Brannon Bohner has traveled with his daughter from one seasonal job to another, picking up girlfriends along the way. Cara, Ami, Trish--all were sweet and kind, but none ever stayed for long. Somehow Emma is different, traveling with them from Idaho to Kentucky, filling Jenny with hopes of a real family at last.

Emma's warmth and optimism are contagious, defusing Brannon's flashes of temper and making their first weeks together everything Jenny has dreamed of. Yet something still troubles her, surfacing through years of memories--tempting her from within boxes Jenny has been told never to touch, filled with hidden mementoes from long ago. And somewhere among them Jenny will find answers that compel her to choose--between the home she longs for, the love she craves, and the hard truth she can no longer ignore. . .


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


This insomniac's opinion:

LOVED the first 3/4's of the novel, with likable characters and slowly building suspense. However, I was truly unable to suspend my disbelief of the drama at the end. It felt as though the author was contriving to have too many loose ends tied up all in one dramatic final scene and it absolutely lost credibility. Still, highly readable and I would recommend it if you enjoy suspenseful novels.


Rating: 3 stars


Worth staying up all night to read?

It is, even with the flaws. Good, suspenseful read.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18723574-the-seventh-mother

ARC review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

***Many thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin for the advanced reader's copy of this novel. ***


This insomniac's review:

Trust Heather Gudenkauf to write another novel that I cannot.put.down!

I admit that this was incredibly hard to read as it dealt with a very tense child neglect situation(I'm trying desperately not to give away any "twists"). It was well-written and very emotional. I admit that this is not a novel for everyone due to the emotional nature of the child abuse/neglect story lines, but it is good read if your heart is up for it.

Rating: 4 stars

Worth staying up all night:

Just try not too once the first "bomb" drops!



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18722887-little-mercies

ARC review: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

 
Book synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.
 
 
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Grand Central Publishing for the advanced reader's copy of this novel.***
 
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
I really wanted to like this novel. Really. It seemed like ideal summer fodder. The beginning was so promising and I was swept into the wealthy islander life...
 
And, then...I realized that none of the characters were likeable. There was so much drama that I was beginning to wonder if I was reading an episode of Maury Povich(however you spell his name, I don't actually care enough to Google it). And, the plot was jumping around like a bunny on steroids. Sigh.
 
 
Rating: 2 stars
 
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
 
Wellllll....maybe-if you like Maury whats-his-name...
 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16131115-the-girls-of-august

Friday, July 25, 2014

All But my Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):




All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.

Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.

Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.


This insomniac's review:

I had never heard of this memoir until it was leant to me by a good friend(thanks Aileen!). I am so, so glad that she leant it to me!

I have an utter fascination with holocaust survivors. I am constantly amazed to hear what the human spirit and body can survive and find myself fervently praying that there will never be such atrocities again(yes, I do know such things are happening even today).

Gerda's story was so intensely moving and I believe that I managed to feel every, single human emotion during my reading. So very deeply sad and, also, inspiring. Gerda is one amazing, amazing woman.

Also, best love story ever. EVER.

Worth staying up all night to read?

Hell, yes. With a pack of Kleenex.

Rating: 5 stars.




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/163363.All_But_My_Life

ARC review: The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux

 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 

Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. There they muddle through their first season at the inn, serving barely edible dinners to guests, stranding themselves in chest-deep snowdrifts, and somehow, miraculously, amid swarms of ravenous black flies, conceiving a child, a girl they name Nat. Years later, when Mark and Fran are nearing middle age and Nat is a troubled teenager, Mark's life is ripped apart, forever changed, and he must choose between returning to his old home in New Jersey or trying to rebuild what is left of his life and family in the place of his greatest joy and deepest sorrow.
 
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Syracuse University Press for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. ***
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
Emotionally driven, quick read about life, love and moving on. It was rather surprising to me that this was written by a man, due to the emotionality of the plot. The characters were believable and likeable.  
 
It skipped forward a bit too quickly for me, almost as if the author was on a mission to complete the plot line. Overall, though, a solid and believable read.                  
Rating: 3 stars

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22457401-the-tumble-inn


ARC review: The True & Spendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric

 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
It is the age of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, when Europe burns with a passion for long-flowing locks. And when seven sisters, born into fatherless poverty in Ireland, grow up with hair cascading down their backs, to their ankles, and beyond, men are not slow to recognise their potential.

It begins with a singing and dancing septet, with Irish jigs kicked out in dusty church halls. But it is not the sisters’ singing or their dancing that fills the seats: it is the torrents of hair they let loose at the end of each show. And their hair will take dark-hearted Darcy, bickering twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida and fearful, flame-haired Manticory – the inimitable narrator of their on-and-off stage adventures – out of poverty, through the dance halls of Ireland, to the salons of Dublin and the palazzi of Venice. It will bring some of them love and each of them loss. For their past trails behind the sisters like the tresses on their heads, and their fame and fortune will come at a terrible price...
 
 
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Bloomsbury for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.***
 
 
This insomniac's review:
 
Do you ever hear reviews about a novel that are so wonderful that you know you're going to love it? Then you actually read it and feel perplexed because you cannot get into the novel at all? That's exactly what happened with this one, friends.
 
This simply could not hold my interest and was not, in any way, as interesting as the story of the Sutherland sisters that inspired it.And, Sweet Baby Jesus-let me never read a book with so much talk about hair ever again. Ever. Again.     
 
Rating: 2 stars, only because I'm nice(sometimes).
 
        
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20903440-the-true-and-splendid-history-of-the-harristown-sisters

ARC review: The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime - and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.

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

This insomniac's opinion:

If you've read this blog before, you may know that I am a HUGE Jojo Moyes fan. However, I really haven't enjoyed much of her "older" work that is being released for the first time in the US. This novel was a great exception to that rule!

This novel was fascinating and the characters were very different and well fleshed out. The real facts about the true 'ships of brides' kept me wondering about what it truly had been like for those women.

Overall, a great summer read!

Rating: 4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes, if you love female driven literature.




ARC review: Bittersweet by Colleen McCollough

 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
This is the story of two sets of twins, Edda and Grace, Tufts and Kitty, who struggle against all the restraints, prohibitions, laws and prejudices of 1920s Australia. Only the submissive yet steely Grace burns for marriage; the sleekly sophisticated Edda burns to be a doctor, the down-to-earth but courageous Tufts burns never to marry, and the too-beautiful, internally scarred Kitty burns for a love free from male ownership.

Turbulent times, terrible torments, but the four magnificent Latimer sisters, each so different, love as women do: with tenderness as well as passion, and with hearts roomy enough to hold their men, their children, their careers and their sisters.
 
 
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.***
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
Ugh. I could not get into this. At all.
 
At first I was a bit excited as the sisters chose to go into nurses training, as I am a nurse myself. The story quickly dissolved into a trashy, soap opera like drama, however. It would hold my interest for a moment, then quickly lose it again. Had I not committed to reading this for Net Galley, I never would have finished it.
 
 
Rating: 2 stars.
 
 
 
 


ARC review: The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.


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


This insomniac's opinion:

Ok, bookish buddies-let's have a moment of honesty. Had I realized that this was a post-apocalyptic novel in the same vein as The Walking Dead, I would not have requested it. Just not my bag, baby.

However, it was utterly fascinating and engrossing. Also, just plan gross at times.

The story was interesting and full of twists and turns. So, surprisingly, it was overall a good read for me. I did have to suspend ALL disbelief during the read, though. Forgo common sense during reading, friends.

Rating: 3 stars




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

ARC review: When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

 
Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
 
What marks the boundary between a miracle of God and the imagination of a child?
Nine-year-old Leah’s invisible friend seems harmless enough until he aids her in upsetting the tranquility of her new town, a place where her parents desperately hoped she’d finally be able to make friends and fit in. Hidden within a picture she paints for a failed toymaker are numbers that win the toymaker millions. Suddenly, townspeople are divided between those who see Leah as a prophet and those who are afraid of the danger she represents. Caught in the middle is Leah’s agnostic father, who clashes with a powerful town pastor over Leah’s prophecies and what to do about them.
When the imaginary friend’s predictions take an ominous turn and Leah announces that a grave danger looms, doubts arise over the truthfulness of her claims. As a violent storm emerges on the day of the annual carnival, Leah’s family and the town of Mattingly must make a final choice to cling to all they know or embrace the things she believes in that cannot be seen.
 
 
****Many thanks to Net Galley and Thomas Nelson-Fiction for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.***
 
 
This insomniac's opinion:
 
Highly engrossing and readable novel. The mystery of what was happening to Leah and who her imaginary friend unraveled as slowly as a hot summer's day, which was appropriate for the setting of the novel.
 
I have to say that I am a Christian, but feel that the novel could have been a little less Christian themed and would've packed more of a punch. The ending fell flat for me as I suddenly felt that I was inside of a mediocre Sunday school lesson.
 
Overall, an interesting read but could've been better.
 
Rating: 3 stars
 
Worth staying up all night to read?
 
The beginning was stay-up-all-night reading, but I lost interest as I read.
 
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16124135-when-mockingbirds-sing