Saturday, April 11, 2015

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

 Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):




After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love. 


Full details: At the Water's Edge: A Novel

***Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House for the opportunity to receive the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. ***


This insomniac's opinion: 


I was unsure if this novel was going to be a good fit for me after reading the first couple of chapters full of spoiled, egocentric rich kids with a life of partying alone. I am very glad that I hung in there and continued to read, however. 

This novel was full of rich characters and settings. I fell in love with Maddie shortly after the badly thought out trip to Scotland while in the midst of war. I realized quickly that Maddie was more than the one-dimensional character that she had seemed to be inside high society in America. I found myself rooting for her to change her life and find her true self in Scotland. 


Worth staying up all night to read?


While slow-moving, it was a great read.


Rating:


4 stars 

Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley

 Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

Rose is by most qualifications an ordinary housewife, except for her dreams. Since childhood, she has always dreamt of the same island, with the same imaginary companion: a brave, heroic boy named Hugo. Rose’s own children now live for tales of Hugo and Rose’s adventures, battling giant spiders and bouncing on the pink sand of the Blanket Pavilion. And each night, after putting her sleepy children to bed, Rose escapes from the monotony of diapers and cracker crumbs to become a more perfect, fully-realized version of herself.

Until one day, Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, and everything changes. Here is the man who truly knows her, who grew up with her, even if they aren’t what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?

Full details: Hugo & Rose: A Novel


***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 LOVED the unique premise of this novel. Who wouldn't want to find out that her lifelong dream playmate is real? I was completely sucked in and could not stop reading. Then, towards the end of the novel, it just went weird. I know, I know- you're saying "It gets weirder than having your dream friend be real?" Yes, yes it does, Bookish Buddies. 

I honestly wish I could turn back time and not have read the last few chapters of the novel, because it was so endearing up until those final pages. *sigh*

Worth staying up all night to read?

Well, the first bit is.

Rating: 

3 stars. I think. I'm not really sure how to rate this one. 




Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen


Book Synopsis(via Amazon):


Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Full details: Saint Anything 

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


Despite Sarah Dessen's overwhelming popularity and my own voracious reading habit, I have somehow not managed to read anything written by Dessen(until now). I was curious about the hype. 

I immediately felt a kinship with the characters in this novel, a rag tag bunch of quirky teens. I can see why Dessen's writing is so popular with the younger readers- she writes teens that seem real, with real-life problems. There is no talking down to the younger reader is Dessen Land. 

I highly enjoyed the quick read of this novel. It is very simple for an adult reader, but in some ways that was a nice change of pace me. I truly loved all of the characters and the way that Dessen writes with great compassion. I would definitely be open to reading more of her work. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


Hey- great news! This is such a quick read that you only have to stay up HALF of the night! Reading and sleep- Hooray!

Rating: 


3 solid stars

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

Book Synopsis(via Amazon):


Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it's time to move out. Tom is pregnant with Bill's baby.
Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings.
And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow.

Full details: The Minnow

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


I have to be honest- this is a hard novel to review. It was written in such a unique way that the reader finds herself lost in a world that part dream and part reality. There were many times that I was a bit unsure what was happening. However, it is a beautifully weaved story full of rich characters and a wild mix of heartbreak and happiness. I fell in love with Tom immediately, and most all of the other characters soon after. 

I am a wee flummoxed by the categorization of this as a YA- some of it seemed very adult to me. On the other hand, Tom had a naivety to her that I think would lend itself to the genre. 

Overall, I very much loved this novel and the characters within it. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes.

Rating: 


4 stars


The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce


 Book Synopsis(via Amazon):

In this poignant parallel story to Harold’s saga, acclaimed author Rachel Joyce brings Queenie Hennessy’s voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, Queenie makes a journey of her own, a journey that is even bigger than Harold’s; one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths—about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years.

A wise, tender, layered novel that gathers tremendous emotional force, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy underscores the resilience of the human spirit, beautifully illuminating the small yet pivotal moments that can change a person’s life.

Full details of book here:
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy: A Novel

***Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to receive this advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.***


This insomniac's opinion: 


Oh, how I adored The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by this same author. If you haven't read Harold, you must read it. As soon as possible. 

This book is a companion of sorts to that novel, although we are following the story from an opposite viewpoint this time- that of Miss Queenie Hennessy, whom we were able to just begin to know in the last book. Queenie is in the final days of her life and waiting for Harold to complete his journey and come to her. She begins a journey of her own- with a paper and pen and a kindly nun at her side. A journey into her past and her connection with Harold. 

I think that Ms. Joyce did a lovely job of slowly unraveling the mystery of the connection between Queenie and Harold, all while letting the reader fall in love with both Queenie and the other residences of the home for the dying. 

The ending was a shock that sent me diving into my Kleenex box. You've been solidly warned to have tissues at the ready, Bookish Buddies!

Worth staying up all night to read?


YES!

Rating: 


5 stars