Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

fiction

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):




Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.




When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.



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

This novel will be published June 16, 2015.

This insomniac's opinion: 


I LOVED Fredrik Backman's novel A Man Called Ove so I was thrilled to be able to receive an advanced reader's copy of his newest novel from Atria Publishing(June 2015). 




I vacillated between 4 and 5 stars but am so deeply enamored with the characters that I was easily swayed to a 5. Elsa, an eight year old with a quick wit and a unique view of life, stole my heart on the first page and my heart was full of quirky, wonderful characters by the final page. This novel is a wonderful reminder that true superheroes come in the form of everyday people. 


Worth staying up all night to read?


YES. 

Rating: 


5 stars. Solidly loveable, quirky characters to tuck into your heart for life. 




Those Girls by Chevy Stevens


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):



 Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives. 

Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past. 

This time there’s nowhere left to run. 


***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 novel will be published on July 7, 2015.

This insomniac's opinion: 


Chevy Stevens has a knack for nail-biters. This novel is no exception. 

You know those movies where event after crazy event keeps happening and you can barely keep yourself from screaming at the characters on the screen? Well, this is the book version of that, Bookish Buddies!

If books heavy on the thrill factor are your kind of read, this may be for you. It was a bit to intense and violent at times for me and I also feel strongly that this should have a trigger warning on it for previous victims of sexual violence. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


It is very easy to get caught up in this novel and want to know the ending, so I think many will lose sleep over this novel. 


Rating: 


3 stars. Solid writing, as always from Ms. Stevens, but too violent for my taste. 


Change Me Prayers by Tosha Silver

non-fiction spiritual

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


In this sequel to her first book, Tosha Silver, with her characteristic mix of passion and humor, shows how to embrace transformation from the inside out. Covering a variety of topics&;from work and finances to love and self-worth&;Change Me Prayers shows how to truly surrender to a Divine plan in the most joyous and uplifting way.
At its heart, this book is a spiritual guide to help anyone open to this union with Love, even in times of difficulty or crisis, and includes a convenient &;Change Me Prayers Quick Guide.&; Tosha proves to be a profound, unique, and often hilarious guide to awakening. May the Divine permeate every part of your life! 

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

This insomniac's opinion:


Oh, I'm so solidly enamored with Tosha Silver right now! She is just an honest breath of fresh air. 

If you see the word 'prayers' in the title above and think this is a traditional Christian book, think again. Tosha has a very open minded idea of God and prayer. This book is a grouping of personal stories of the power of surrender and each story ends with a prayer that fits the lesson of the story. It is brutally honest, humorous at times and a very refreshing look at spirituality. 


Worth staying up all night to read?


Well, it might not be one of those stay-up-all-night kind of reads, but it is very worthy of a read if new age spirituality is your bag. 

Rating: 


4 stars. Just beautiful.  

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Aliveexplores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears. 

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

***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: 


This novel has the dark, moody atmosphere that seems to be trendy in literature these days. But, as entertaining as it was, left me feeling hollow and full of unresolved questions. Don't get me wrong, it was deeply engrossing and full of twists and turns. I just never quite connected with Ani and some of the twists just left me a bit cold. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


It IS a very compelling read. 

Rating: 


3 stars. 



Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin


Book Summary(via Goodreads):


Rose Howard has Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.
Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners. 

This insomniac's opinion: 


Am I the only one that has thrown away any and all ideas of categories that "good books" can be in? I am no longer confined only to the adult fiction section of the library and happily peruse the YA and, yes even Juv, sections. This novel is exactly the reason why. 

I was solidly in love with Rose from the very first chapter of this book and, as the book rolled on, became also entranced with Rose's dog, Rain, and her uncle. Also, I found that I rather adore homonyms, much like sweet, unique Rose herself. 

I highly recommend this to both children and their parents. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


Well, Bookish Buddies- the great news about plucking books from the Juvenile section is that they will only take a couple of hours to read(with the noted exception of the Harry Potter series).

Rating: 


5 stars(oh now I wish stars was a homonym.)



The Forgiveness Project by Marina Cantacuzino

 Book Summary(via Goodreads):



Thought-provoking and powerful real life stories from survivors and perpetrators of crime and violence around the world are collected here from a diverse range of situations. They raise the possibility of alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge, with each story showing the very real impact of forgiveness within a particular context.

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


Holy buckets. I am so humbled by this book. I consider myself a kind and forgiving person. However, this book was full of stories of absolutely extraordinary forgiveness and I cannot help but wish to be an even kinder, more forgiving person. I am moved beyond belief. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes! That is, if you can read with the deluge of tears pouring from your eyes.


Rating: 


5 gigantic, glittering stars.

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard


Book Summary(via Goodreads):


The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says.Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in the aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your works at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared.

School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp, and with the help of new friends Jory begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. As Jory's friendships grow, Caleb notifies Jory's mother and siblings that the time has come for final preparations.

They begin an exhausting schedule digging a mysterious tunnel in anticipation of the disaster. But as the hold gets deeper, so does the family's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the stark reality of his stepfather's plans becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see.

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

This Insomniac's Opinion: 


This started out in a terribly mysterious and fascinating way, compelling me to read the first third of the novel in one sitting. Unfortunately, it went a bit downhill from there. The characters are all lovely and quirky, but not quite completely fleshed out and the novel lost it mystery when the cracks began to show and the believability of the novel became completely lost. 

Still, it was highly readable and would likely be a good fit for a younger(ahem-less seasoned) reader. 

Worth staying up all night?


It is very compelling and is likely to keep many readers up long past their bedtimes. 

Rating: 


3 stars.


Find this novel on Amazon: Watch the Sky

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova


Book Summary(via Goodreads):


From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

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

This insomniac's opinion: 

Lisa Genova is a genius at writing about disease and the powerful outward ripples that such a diagnosis can cause. I was thrilled to receive this ARC as she tackles a new topic- Huntington's. 

I have to admit that the first chapters of this novel were slow going for me and I wasn't quite in love with the protagonist, Joe, until solidly halfway through the novel. However, I devoured the novel in a short couple of days and, by the last page, was thoroughly enamored with not only Joe but with his entire family. 

This is a roller coaster of a novel, full of emotion and drama. If you are a reader that enjoys realistic emotional dramas, this is for you!

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes. After the first half, you won't want to put it down. 

Rating?


4 stars. 


Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde


Book summary(via Goodreads):

Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancĂ© set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever.

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

This insomniac's opinion:

Longtime readers of my blog are well aware of my love affair with the writing of Catherine Ryan Hyde. She writes incredibly believable, flawed, beautiful characters and has a way of making a 'simple' story(i.e. no giant plot twists, explosions, etc.) beautifully nuanced and softly entrancing, so that the reader falls into the story and comes out the other side a changed person. This novel is no exception. 

This novel begins with a tragedy and leaves the reader wondering how the characters will come back together again. I fell promptly in love with the characters and lost myself in the gently meandering story, fully content in the way that everything came back together. As with all Catherine Ryan Hyde's novels, I turned the final page feeling a deep desire to be a better person. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

This novel is fairly slow moving. However, while not a nail biter, it is a perfect novel to wile away a Sunday afternoon or bring to the beach. 

Rating: 

4 stars.


Find on Amazon: Worthy

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman


Book summary(via Goodreads):


 Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.



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

This insomniac's opinion:

I rather adore Alice Hoffman. So, reading her first novel for middle schoolers with my daughter seemed like a fabulous way to introduce her to the wonderful world of magic that is the writing of  Hoffman. I was just as wonderful as I imagined it would be.

In Nightbird we are introduced to the town of Sidwell- a small town that seems normal on the outside, but is decidedly different and magical underneath the staid appearances. Twig and her family move back to Sidwell and here there lives will change forever.

The novel is full of wonderfully quirky characters and a moody background, full of magic and wonder. My girls and I were both entranced and fully in love with the novel before the last page was turned.

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes!

Rating:

4 magical stars.


                                                                       
Find this novel on Amazon: Nightbird