Saturday, August 15, 2015

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


***Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House Children's for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Publication date is September 1, 2015.***


This insomniac's opinion: 


*swoon*

I love this novel. It was one of those rare books with a unique premise that sweeps you away into its own little world. 

It is fairly typical YA in that the view of love is pretty simplistic and one-dimensional, but somehow that only added to the story. And....there's quite the twist near the end(which, unfortunately, didn't lend well to the story for me.)

All in all, a quick, lovely summer read. 


Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes.


Rating: 


4 stars. 


The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


He’s the sort of actor who can do Hamlet and Charlie’s Angels in the same year. He shuns managers and agents and once agreed to voice the part of Garfield because he mistakenly believed it was a Coen brothers film. Bill Murray’s extraordinary career is rich with fascinating anecdotes, contradictions, and mystery, from his early success on Saturday Night Live and the biggest blockbusters of the 1980s (Caddyshack, Stripes, Tootsie, Ghostbusters) to his reinvention as a hipster icon in the early 21st century (in films like Lost in Translation and Moonrise Kingdom). And now you can get your fill of Bill: part biography, part critical appreciation, part love letter, and all fun, The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray chronicles every single Murray performance in loving detail, relating all the milestones, yarns, and controversy in the life of this beloved but enigmatic performer. These pages are packed with color film stills and behind-the-scenes photography. 

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


This insomniac's opinion: 


I love quirky actors and Bill Murray is at the top of the list. This book was a fascinating peek into the author's life but really only had information that one could likely find online as Murray, himself was not a contributor. Still, I enjoyed it. 


Rating: 


3 stars. 


The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism.

Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel's mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel's salvation is their maid Adelle's belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle's daughter. But Rachel's life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father's business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Fréderick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.

Building on the triumphs of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set in a world of almost unimaginable beauty, The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Fréderick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.

***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: 


I adore Alice Hoffman. She is a wonderfully descriptive writer that has a way of weaving magic into stories as if it were real. I always request her galleys when I see them and own quite a few of her novels. 

This novel is full of strong female characters(one thing that I love about Alice Hoffman) and Rachel stole my heart right from the beginning. The story was epic in scope and followed Rachel through love and many episodes of deep heartache. 

If you love fiction based on historical characters, you would likely enjoy this novel. Hoffman always is a master of research and leaves you feeling as if you were there on St. Thomas island. 


Worth staying up all night to read?


I loved the novel, but it certainly is long and slower paced. So, not typical stay-up-all-night reading. 

Rating: 


4 stars. 

The Color of our Sky by Amita Trasi


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):



A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. 

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.
Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.


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


This insomniac's opinion:


What a stunning, beautiful novel about the power of love and friendship. I felt as though I was transported to India, both in the 1980s and present time. I fell in love with both Tara and Mukta and found myself riveted to the story, finishing it in just a short couple of days. 

The writing is rich, the characters are well fleshed out and honestly flawed. I had to put the book down several times to wipe my tears and catch my breath. It was deeply melancholy and extraordinarily beautiful. 


Worth staying up all night to read?


YES.


Rating: 


4.5 stars. 


The Witch of Napoli by Michael Schmicker


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, seductive medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra's mysterious powers. She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know - does the "Queen of Spirits" really have supernatural powers? Nigel Huxley is convinced she's simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England's Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. Meanwhile, the Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe. Inspired by the true-life story of controversial Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (1854-1918), The Witch of Napoli masterfully resurrects the bitter,19th-century battle between Science and religion over the possibility of an afterlife.

***Many thanks to Net Galley and Author Buzz 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 for long then you know that I have strange fascinations: World War II, big words....and witches. Ahem....And, here I am rating another book about witches and magic. 

This book had many things going for it- great writing, what seemed to be very thorough research(although I surely didn't double check facts for the time period) and really solid characters. I read through the book pretty quickly and was incredibly fascinated by the mediums and their way of life in 19th century Europe. 

However, the book did lose steam and believability towards the end and I was honestly just ready to be done reading by the time the last page was turned. 

Worth staying up all night?


I did for the first half of the novel!

Rating: 


3.5 stars 

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads): 

Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention—not even that of space and time—which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.
Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery—and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and yet somehow already did.
***Many thanks to Net Galley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.***

This insomniac's opinion: 

Sooooo....I may or may not have requested this galley simply because the title has the word 'lemoncholy' in the title. 
Hey- don't judge me! I really love words. 
Anyhow, back to the review. I really enjoyed the author's writing style in this novel. It was descriptive and succinct. I admit that I was intrigued by the concept of the novel- that one could communicate with someone from generations past- but, in the end, it just wasn't at all believable for me. So, it's one of those that was completely readable but not my cup of tea. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

It is an interesting read, but not really a nail-biter that would keep you up all night. 

Rating: 

3 stars. 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life. 

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair. 

Or is it? 

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


I REALLY wanted to like this one. It takes place in Iowa(my home state) and is full of characters that are bibliophiles. Seems like kismet, right? 

Ahem, wrong. 

Unfortunately, this novel is full of small town clichés and a romantic plot line straight out of a Harlequin novel. 

However, it still was a cute little novel, if not one that I would necessarily pick up again or recommend to someone who reads much. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


Nope. 

Rating: 


2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 on Goodreads.