Friday, February 21, 2014

ARC Review: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Book summary(via Goodreads):

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.

**Many thanks to Net Galley and Audrey Penn for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. **

This insomniac's review:

My daughter has been struggling with preschool so the opportunity to review this book came at the perfect time.

My daughter Emory(4 years old) is in her second year of preschool and simply doesn't want to go. She wants to stay with me and is having some separation anxiety. With Kindergarten looming next year, it was crucial that we find some coping mechanisms for her.

This book was perfect! Loveable graphics and sweet narration was readable for both my children and myself. Emory now has me lay a kiss in the palm of her hand just as the characters do in the book and it seems to be very helpful to her.


5 stars. Great book for those tough preschool/kindergarten transitions.

ARC review: Tune in by Sonia Choquette

 Book summary(via Goodreads):
Join New York Times best-selling author and internationally renowned teacher and intuitive guide Sonia Choquette as she reveals a simple four-step plan for achieving lifelong inner transformation. In this revised and expanded edition of her book The Power of Your Spirit—and distilled from more than 35 years of helping others get in touch with their true selves and discover their souls’ purpose—Sonia provides profound yet accessible wisdom to those seeking to transcend the strictures of an ego-driven existence and experience the joy and fulfillment of an intuitively guided, Spirit-driven life.
Illuminated with even more engaging and powerful stories of personal transformation from her life and practice than in the original version, this invaluable book instructs seekers at all stages of their spiritual journeys how to directly tune in to their intuition. Sonia also provides additional practical exercises and rituals—including breathing techniques, visualizations, journaling questions, and a step-by-step guide to setting up and using a personal altar—to help us place our intuition at the helm of our spiritual quests and in the heart of our daily lives.
Whether you’re just beginning to tap into your intuition or are already living in the flow, Tune In offers a wealth of inspiration that will enable you to engage more deeply with your inner Spirit, your authentic Self, and live a more rewarding, fearless, and compassionate life.
**Many thanks to Net Galley and Hay House publishing for giving me an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book is currently available. **
This insomniac's opinion:
This book isn't for everyone. It's a bit new age-y and not everyone will be open to all of the suggestions that the author gives. However, I have been feeling that I have let rational thought take over my life and have been wanting to get back to more intuitive thinking and decision making so this book was perfect for me.
The questions in this book were spot-on for me and my own answers(via journaling) surprised me occasionally. I truly feel that this book helped me to find my path again. A very useful tool for anyone struggling to figure out where they need to go with their life.
Rating: 4 stars.

ARC review: Morning Glory by Sarah Jio

Book summary(via Goodreads):
New York Times bestselling author Sarah Jio imagines life on Boat Street, a floating community on Seattle’s Lake Union—home to people of artistic spirit who for decades protect the dark secret of one startling night in 1959

Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street. She discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier. Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but little suspects that Penny’s mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge.
**Many thanks to Net Galley and Penguin publishing group for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel is currently available. **
This insomniac's review:
I will admit that chick lit, especially from an author with formulaic writing, is not my most referred type of novel. However, some of my reader friends adore Sarah Jio's writing, so I gave her another shot.
This novel was typical Sarah Jio, with the 2 stories, one of yesteryear and one modern story converging around a mystery. This novel was compulsively readable and I lost myself in the story for a few hours. The ending lost me a bit, however. Extraordinarily unbelievable "twist" and everything came together a little too perfectly. It was a Lifetime movie ending.
Worth staying up all night to read?
If you like chick lit, it may be.
Rating: 3 stars

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

This insomniac's opinion:

You know those novels that sweep you off your feet with their delightful uniqueness and you can't stop thinking about them for days? This is one of those, folks!

I picked this novel up from the library on a whim and am so glad that I did! The cover is not one that would typically dray me in and the author isn't someone that I am familiar with, so this book could've easily been bypassed by me. That would've been a great, great shame.

Don's character was just full-on quirky wonderfulness. I quickly fell in love with him and Rosie and together they were just delightful. The writing is unique and the story moves along very quickly. Don is a character that I will never forget and this is, perhaps, one of my favorite unlikely love stories ever.

Worth staying up all night to read?


Rating: 4.5 stars

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

 Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

The Dane family's roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn't keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy's few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri's necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri's death could be linked to her mother's disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

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

This insomniac's opnion:

Thrillers aren't always me thing. I have to be in the right frame of mind and mood when reading them, and that doesn't seem to be often. However, this novel peaked my interest when I read it's blurb on Net Galley and saw some of the early book buzz. I am so very glad that I took the chance on this novel!

This novel has a very dark tone a la Gillian Flynn, so if that is not the type of novel for you, you may want to pass on this one. The bleakness of the tone lends so much to this story of deception and intrigue that I cannot see how it could have been done any other way. Laura McHugh paints such a vivid picture of life in the Ozarks, I felt as though I was there living amongst the poverty stricken country folk. The characters were distinctly written and the twists in the plot were satisfying and believable.

I did feel like the end was a bit too trite and I would've liked a bit more resolution for Lucy, but overall a wonderful, twisty story of intrigue! Highly recommended!

Worth staying up all night to read?

Heck yeah!

Rating: 4 stars

ARC review: The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
Therese Walsh's poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother's spirit to rest.

Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he's a thief who shouldn't be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they will finally be forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
**Many thanks to Net Galley and Crown publishing for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. **
This insomniac's opinion:
I love authors that can weave a bit of magic into their stories in such a way that is believable and delightful(such as Alice Hoffman). Thus, this novel seemed a good fit for me.
Therese Walsh is a great writer and the novel flowed smoothly. However, I just never fell in love with the characters and this novel fell a bit flat for me. I think it may be a better fit for those that have more in common with Olivia or Jazz's characters than I.
Solid writing, but no electricity for me.
Worth staying up all night to read?
Not for me.
Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn't been what she'd expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.

This insomniac's opinion:

This is one of my favorite novels that I've read so far this year. It is uniquely written and full of characters that are very well fleshed-out.

Shoko can be unlikeable at times, by the reader is quickly endeared to her when learning of her life story. Her transition to America is very hard, as is her separation from her family back in Japan. In fact, she never really seems to acclimate to our country and is never accepted, even in old age, as one of us.

A very realistic and well-written novel and I encourage everyone, especially women, to read it.

Worth staying up all night to read?



4.5 stars

ARC review: Above by Isla Morley

Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in;the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythes dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice&between survival and freedom.

**Many thanks to Net Galley and Gallery books for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. The date of publication for this novel is March 4, 2014.**

This insomniac's review:

It truly felt as though this was two separate novels crammed together into a single novel. Which was a bit disconcerting.

The first half takes place after Blythe's abduction and is within the bowels of the Earth in an abandoned missile silo. It is very reminiscent of Room by Emma Donogue with it's intensity and terror in confinement.

The second half of the novel takes a dramatic turn, however. It is hard for me to explain how different it becomes without giving much away. So, let's just say that shit gets crazy-really, really crazy. The novel turns from drama to sci-fi. I have to admit that Sci-fi is not my thing and I really did not enjoy the ending.

So, I'm a bit at a loss at how to rate this novel. Good writing, but very inconsistent.


2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for Goodreads, simply due to the inconsistency of the novel.

ARC review: The Museum of Extrodinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):
Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's "museum," alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor's apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding
**Many thanks to Net Galley and Scribner publishing for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel is slated for publication on February 18, 2014**
This insomniac's opinion:
I am a huge Alice Hoffman fan. The way that she merges magic into reality seamlessly, creating a world that the reader never wants to leave is, well-magic! So, I was thrilled to receive the ARC for this novel.
I loved the beginning of the novel and quickly fell in love with Coralie's character. Eddie character was not quite as enchanting, but was interesting.I am rather fascinated with the museums of oddities that sprang up around the country early, in the 20th century, so the characters that made up that museum were quite interesting, as well.
Unfortunately, the second half of the novel and the subsequent ending fell flat for me. I voraciously read the first half, but was just plodding along through the second half as I had lost interest. Even so, it is an interesting peek into that time and the unusual characters. So, while not my favorite Hoffman novel, still worth reading.
Worth staying up all night to read?
3 stars