Friday, June 10, 2016

Everyone Brave is Forgiven


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or—like Mary’s favorite student, Zachary—have colored skin.

Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them—further into a new world unlike any they’ve ever known.

A sweeping epic with the kind of unforgettable characters, cultural insights, and indelible scenes that made Little Bee so incredible, Chris Cleave’s latest novel explores the disenfranchised, the bereaved, the elite, the embattled. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and incredible courage.


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



This insomniac's review:


An honest and brutal look through the eyes of an idealist(Mary) of what war truly is. The blinds are torn off and we see exactly what Mary sees as she abandons her life and volunteers to try to help others during the war. Truly full of unforgettable characters and experiences that leaves the reader breathless at times. 



Rating: 


4 stars. 



Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes. 

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The Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta



Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


In the bestselling tradition of Jodi Picoult and written “in a style that’s as real as it gets (USA TODAY), this ripped-from-the-headlines novel features prosecutor Anna Curtis as she finds herself again at the center of a national story involving a freshman girl at a prestigious university who disappears after filing rape charges against a young man in a powerful fraternity.

Emma, a freshman at a Michigan university, has gone missing. She was last seen leaving a bar near Sigma Pi, the prestigious and secretive fraternity known on campus as “the rape factory.” The main suspect is Dylan Brooks, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. But so far the only clues are pieced-together surveillance footage of Emma leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her.

Anna Curtis is on the case when she discovers the video diary Emma kept over her first few months at college, exposing the history she had with Dylan—and accusing him of rape before she disappeared.

Emma’s disappearance gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Now Anna is looking for something, anything she can use to find Emma alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to think hard before she ruins the name of an “innocent young man.” Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.



***Many thanks to Net Galley and Touchstone for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for and honest opinion.***

This insomniac's opinion: 


I happened to be reading this, a book about the sexual assault of a young woman, as I came forward very publicly in a Huffington Post article about my own sexual assault 20 years ago{http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-redhead/a-thank-you-letter-to-my-_2_b_9774926.html} I admit that it made reading this rather tough. It was treated the subject very carefully and with respect, thank goodness. I generally don't read books that are numbered and follow the same character each time, but this was really fascinating and I think that I may pick up more!

Rating: 


4 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read? 


Yes!

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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


In this poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam's death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam's possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he's never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife's secret life before they met--a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a curiously charming debut and a joyous celebration of life's infinite possibilities.
 

***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: 


Absoluetely delightful and lovable novel in the same vein as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. One feels nearly instantly enamored with Arthur and then we are brought along on a mysterious journey where we meet many other adorable and fascinating characters. Lovely, lovely read. 

Rating: 


4 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read?


YES. 
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Daredevils by Shawn Vestal


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

At the heart of this exciting debut novel, set in Arizona and Idaho in the mid-1970s, is fifteen-year-old Loretta, who slips out of her bedroom every evening to meet her so-called gentile boyfriend. Her strict Mormon parents catch her returning one night, and promptly marry her off to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist who already has a wife and a brood of kids. The Harders relocate to his native Idaho, where Dean’s teenage nephew Jason falls hard for Loretta. A Zeppelin and Tolkien fan, Jason worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his close-minded community. He and Loretta make a break for it. They drive all night, stay in hotels, and relish their dizzying burst of teenage freedom as they seek to recover Dean’s cache of “Mormon gold.” But someone Loretta left behind is on their trail... 

A riveting story of desire and escape, Daredevils boasts memorable set pieces and a rich cast of secondary characters. There’s Dean’s other wife, Ruth, who as a child in the 1950s was separated from her parents during the notorious Short Creek raid, when federal agents descended on a Mormon fundamentalist community. There’s Jason’s best friend, Boyd, part Native American and caught up in the activist spirit of the time, who comes along for the ride, with disastrous results. And Vestal’s ultimate creation is a superbly sleazy chatterbox—a man who might or might not be Evel Knievel himself—who works his charms on Loretta at a casino in Elko, Nevada.

A lifelong journalist whose Spokesman column is a fixture in Spokane, WA, Shawn has honed his fiction over many years, publishing in journals like McSweeney's and Tin House. His stunning first collection, Godforsaken Idaho, burrowed into history as it engaged with masculinity and crime, faith and apostasy, and the West that he knows so well. Daredevils shows what he can do on a broader canvas--a fascinating, wide-angle portrait of a time and place that's both a classic coming of age tale and a plunge into the myths of America, sacred and profane.

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

This insomniac's opinion: 

This book started off fascinatingly(is it weird that polygamy is incredibly fascinating to me?). However it soon dove into a bit of a disjointed mess with odd smatterings about Evil Kinevil amidst a backdrop of polygymy and family drama.  Too strange to take seriously, especially the last halve. 

Rating:

2 stars. 

Worth staying up all night? 

Nope. 

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


Christine Nilsson and her husband, Marcus, are desperate for a baby. Unable to conceive, they find themselves facing a difficult choice they had never anticipated. After many appointments with specialists, endless research, and countless conversations, they make the decision to use a donor.

Two months pass and Christine is happily pregnant. but one day, she is shocked to see a young blond man on the TV news being arrested for a series of brutal murders-and the blond man bears an undeniable and uncanny resemblance to her donor.

Delving deeper to uncover the truth, Christine must confront a terrifying reality and face her worst fears. Riveting and fast-paced, with the depth of emotionality that has garnered Lisa Scottoline legions of fans, Most Wanted poses an ethical and moral dilemma: What would you do if the biological father of your unborn child was a killer?
 


***Many thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest opinion.***

This insomniac's opinion: 


Ugh. Embarrassingly far-fetched, cliqued novel. I read quickly to end the pain as soon as possible. I usually enjoy this author but this one was painful.

Rating: 


2 stars. Maybe. 

Worth staying up all night to review?


Ugh. no. 

Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Filled with insights that are hallmarks of Anna Quindlen’s bestsellers, this extraordinary novel is about a woman coming of age, as she unearths secrets about her family and her town, and surprising truths about herself.

For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.” 

Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home. As Mimi says, “No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, even if they go.” Miller’s Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


Anna Quindlen writes a woman's voice like few other writers. I have written everything of hers that I can get my hand on. 


This is a novel that I don't think I would've liked at a younger age, like many of Quindlen's works. It is a bittersweet reflection of life, love and family. Tender at times and brutally honest at others, it was an unforgettable journey.

I think that many of us that have lived long enough to spend much time on reflection would enjoy this novel.

Rating: 


4 stars.

Worth staying up all night to read?


It's not necessarily a page turner, but is certainly a worthy read. 
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The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha's husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking — and attractive — than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.

But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha's reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


This was a mixed bag. I loved Beatrice and her spunk and I was certainly transported back to another place and time by the writing. However, much of the novel was actually quite boring and I kept putting it aside to read something more interesting.

Rating: 


3 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?


Parts of it are. 

Two If by Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):



Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed.

Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian.

Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village.

Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.
 

***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 love Jacquelyn Mitchard. The Deep End of the Ocean still resonates with me to this day, many years after reading it. 

This book felt like a dramatic departure for her. Frank is almost a one-dimensional character and there is faint mystery woven into the book. For me, it felt like a book full of character actors, each without a distinct role to play. 

This novel is definitely readable-- especially the first few chapters, but fell pretty flat for me overall. Still, I'll continue to read the author's work. 

Rating: 


3 stars

Worth staying up all night the read?


At least for the first quarter of the novel or so. 

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):


On the anniversary of her daredevil brother's death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake's favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn't bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.



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

This insomniac's opinion: 


In many ways, I enjoyed this novel. I think it did talk about death in a way that young people probably resonate with. I loved the characters, although I feel like I could've gotten to know Jaycee in particular a little more in depth. 

Overall, I think that it is a book that will be loved by teenage girls and may be a hit or miss for older readers. 


Rating: 


3 stars 


Worth staying up all night to read?


Maybe.