Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Where I Lost Her


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


In her page-turning new novel, T. Greenwood follows one woman's journey through heartbreak and loss to courage and resolve, as she searches for the truth about a missing child. 

Eight years ago, Tess and Jake were considered a power couple of the New York publishing world--happy, in love, planning a family. Failed fertility treatments and a heartbreaking attempt at adoption have fractured their marriage and left Tess edgy and adrift. A visit to friends in rural Vermont throws Tess's world into further chaos when she sees a young, half-dressed child in the middle of the road, who then runs into the woods like a frightened deer. 

The entire town begins searching for the little girl. But there are no sightings, no other witnesses, no reports of missing children. As local police and Jake point out, Tess's imagination has played her false before. And yet Tess is compelled to keep looking, not only to save the little girl she can't forget but to salvage her broken heart as well. 

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

This insomniac's opinion: 


Absolutely spellbinding mystery/women's fiction novel. I was immersed in the pages desperately wanting answers to the mystery of the little girl in the tutu and rain boots(the child that Tess believes she sees on the side of the road). There were parts that were less believable than others, but overall it was a solid and enjoyable read, with a satisfying, if saccharine, finish. 

Rating: 


3.5 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?


Yes. 




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The Last One


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it human-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.

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



This insomniac's opinion:



This book was compulsively readable and had me on the edge of my seat just a few chapters in. It really made me contemplate the rash of reality television available and the consequences for the participants. I would have preferred to know the names of the characters instead of the kitchy names that the author gives them- I feel that on some level that impeded my ability as a reader to connect with the characters-- however, I believe that the author was making a statement in doing so. 


Rating: 



4 stars



Worth staying up all night to read?



Yes. In fact, good luck putting it down once you've started it!



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Monday, August 22, 2016

5 Books for Back-to-School(to ease little one's fears)



Back to school can be a rough time of year for kiddos. The transisition from the easy living of summer into the school year can be tough on the body and the emotions. (Also hard on Mommy!) I'm making a short list here of books that helped ease the transition for my children in the preschool and younger elementary years.

1. The Kissing Hand

To be honest I get a little choked up just looking at this book. It helped all three of my children with the transisition to Kindergarten and each of my children has their own keepsake copy. It is a sweet story of a Mama and her raccoon son and a reminder that the bond of a parent and child is just as strong even when they aren't together.


                                                              

2. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes 

This one is especially great for little fans of the Pete the Cat series. In this book Pete, wearing his school shoes, explores that school all while dancing and singing. A fun, lighthearted read that boys especially seem to enjoy.


                                                              

3. How Do Dinosaurs Go to School

Another book from a familiar series. This book is brightly illustrated and celebrates the rambunctious nature of children. Bonus: the prose is fun for parents to read!




                                                                

4. Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!

This is a simple picture book with a simple message: Kindergarten is fun and something to look forward to!


                                                               

5. Little Lola

Sweet little Lola, a cat, is curious about everything. She decides one day to follow a curiosity onto the school bus and go to school. The kids have never seen a cat at school but welcome her anyway and Lola ends up having the time of her life!




                                                                

I'm sure there are plenty more back-to-school books where these came from. What is your child's favorite back-to-school book?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
 

***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. This novel will be published on 8/30/16***

This insomniac's opinion: 

If you read my other blog, you likely are at least a bit familiar with my own mental health history, as I share it pretty publicly. I was a teenager who, post-rape, spent time of my own in a psych ward dealing with self-harm and deep depression. This book hit me right in the heart. 

This novel is not for the faint of heart. Ms. Glasgow gets gritty and real. As the reader falls in love with Charlotte, we are also scared for her as she enters the world straight out of the hospital with no help at all. We turn each page hoping that this girl in pieces can find a way to stitch herself back together again. 

Rating: 

4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?

Absolutely. 






                                                                       

At the Edge of Summer


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Luc Crépet is accustomed to his mother’s bringing wounded creatures to their idyllic château in the French countryside, where healing comes naturally amid the lush wildflowers and crumbling stone walls. Yet his maman’s newest project is the most surprising: a fifteen-year-old Scottish girl grieving over her parents’ fate. A curious child with an artistic soul, Clare Ross finds solace in her connection to Luc, and she in turn inspires him in ways he never thought possible. Then, just as suddenly as Clare arrives, she is gone, whisked away by her grandfather to the farthest reaches of the globe. Devastated by her departure, Luc begins to write letters to Clare—and, even as she moves from Portugal to Africa and beyond, the memory of the summer they shared keeps her grounded.

Years later, in the wake of World War I, Clare, now an artist, returns to France to help create facial prostheses for wounded soldiers. One of the wary veterans who comes to the studio seems familiar, and as his mask takes shape beneath her fingers, she recognizes Luc. But is this soldier, made bitter by battle and betrayal, the same boy who once wrote her wistful letters from Paris? After war and so many years apart, can Clare and Luc recapture how they felt at the edge of that long-ago summer?

Bringing to life two unforgettable characters and the rich historical period they inhabit, Jessica Brockmole shows how love and forgiveness can redeem us.
 

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

This insomniac's opinion: 

I read Letters from Skye by this author and loved it so very much. So, naturally when I saw this novel come available, I snapped it right up. 

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how to review this one. I know that my friends that have read it all have given it sweeping and lovely recommendations. There were parts of the novel that I loved so much, but there were also many parts that seemed to drag on and I kept losing interest. 

In the end, I never really got into the story or characters for some reason and was quite happy to turn the final page, even though the writing was solid. 

Rating: 

3 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

Not for me, although many other readers seem to love it. 


                                                                  

Monday, August 15, 2016

All is Not Forgotten


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
 

***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:

First things first - if you are a sexual assault survivor(like I am), than you need to know that the sexual assault scenes and the aftermath are pretty brutal to read. So, trigger warning for all of you survivors.

On to the review-- Holy hell, it took me awhile after turning the last page to process this book. Hell, maybe I'm still processing it.

Super interesting and unusual premise with many twists and turns. It really made me think of recovery after a violent act in a completely different light.

Rating:

4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes, IF you can manage reading some of the brutality. Proceed with caution.


                                                                 

All The Missing Girls


Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

***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 was rather fascinating and twisty. I was riveted at places and a bit bored at others, but the writing was solid. However, the end made it seem as though EVERYONE was rather cold and evil, which was a frustrating finale. 

Rating: 

3 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

I think so. 


                                                                     

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea. 

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

This insomniac's opinion: 

This novel felt somewhere in-between a YA and traditional fiction in that the characters were more fleshed out than YA and the topics discussed were not glossed over, even when heavy. I think that the author did a really good job of nailing the melancholy and confusion of grief, even years later. 

Rating: 

4 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes.


                                                                           

Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, has a deadly secret that compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.

Published in 2010, The Kitchen House became a grassroots bestseller. Fans connected so deeply to the book’s characters that the author, Kathleen Grissom, found herself being asked over and over “what happens next?” The wait is finally over.

This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan’s father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie’s help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s father learns and exposes Jamie’s secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline.

Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.

***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 have to admit that this book didn't even hold a candle to The Kitchen House for me. However, it was well-written with very likable characters(especially Pan!). It was a fascinating and heart-wrenching story but just didn't have the power to hold me rapt like The Kitchen House did. I do think this novel is worth reading but would recommend that a reader would start with The Kitchen House. 

Rating: 

3.5 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

Maybe. 


                                                            

Work Like Any Other


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

Roscoe T Martin set his sights on a new type of power spreading at the start of the twentieth century: electricity. It became his training, his life’s work. But when his wife, Marie, inherits her father’s failing farm, Roscoe has to give up his livelihood, with great cost to his sense of self, his marriage, and his family. Realizing he might lose them all if he doesn’t do something, he begins to use his skills as an electrician to siphon energy from the state, ushering in a period of bounty and happiness. Even the love of Marie and their child seem back within Roscoe’s grasp.

Then a young man working for the state power company stumbles on Roscoe’s illegal lines and is electrocuted, and everything changes: Roscoe is arrested; the farm once more starts to deteriorate; and Marie abandons her husband, leaving him to face his twenty-year sentence alone. Now an unmoored Roscoe must carve out a place at Kilby Prison. Climbing the ranks of the incarcerated from dairy hand to librarian to “dog boy,” an inmate who helps the guards track down escapees, he is ultimately forced to ask himself once more if his work is just that, or if the price of his crimes—for him and his family—is greater than he ever let himself believe.

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

This insomniac's opinion:

This novel was extremely well-written and engrossing, even as I realized right away that Roscoe's plan was going to eventually unravel. Unravel, it did but the novel didn't lose steam there and continued on as we watch the complete desecration of a family over what initially seemed like such a small mistake. 

Rating: 

4 stars. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes. 




                                                           

A Fireproof Home for the Bride


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Emmaline Nelson and her sister Birdie grow up in the hard, cold rural Lutheran world of strict parents, strict milking times, and strict morals. Marriage is preordained, the groom practically predestined. Though it's 1958, southern Minnesota did not see changing roles for women on the horizon. Caught in a time bubble between a world war and the ferment of the 1960's, Emmy doesn't see that she has any say in her life, any choices at all. Only when Emmy's fiancé shows his true colors and forces himself on her does she find the courage to act—falling instead for a forbidden Catholic boy, a boy whose family seems warm and encouraging after the sere Nelson farm life. Not only moving to town and breaking free from her engagement but getting a job on the local newspaper begins to open Emmy's eyes. She discovers that the KKK is not only active in the Midwest but that her family is involved, and her sense of the firm rules she grew up under—and their effect—changes completely. Amy Scheibe's A FIREPROOF HOME FOR THE BRIDE has the charm of detail that will drop readers into its time and place: the home economics class lecture on cuts of meat, the group date to the diner, the small-town movie theater popcorn for a penny. It also has a love story—the wrong love giving way to the right—and most of all the pull of a great main character whose self-discovery sweeps the plot forward.

This insomniac's opinion: 


LOVED the first half of the novel . Then, very thing became muddy- the plot, the characters, the writing. And, somehow, all the family revelations just muddied the plot further, leading to a half-boiled, unbelievable ending.

Rating:


 3 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?


The first half was, at least. 




                                                            

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Annie Bell can't escape the dust. It's in her hair, covering the windowsills, coating the animals in the barn, in the corners of her children's dry, cracked lips. It's 1934 and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma is struggling as the earliest storms of The Dust Bowl descend. All around them the wheat harvests are drying out and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie's fragile young son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia; her headstrong daughter, Birdie, flush with first love, is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, her husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain.

As Annie, desperate for an escape of her own, flirts with the affections of an unlikely admirer, she must choose who she is going to become. With her warm storytelling and beautiful prose, Rae Meadows brings to life an unforgettable family that faces hardship with rare grit and determination. Rich in detail and epic in scope, I Will Send Rain is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, filled with hope, morality, and love.
 

***Many thanks to Net Galley and Henry Holt & Company for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This book will be published on August 9, 2016.***



This insomniac's opinion: 



This novel is melancholy, winding and beautiful. From the first page I stepped inside of the world of Annie Bell during the dust storm and was lost inside Oklahoma until I turned the final page. It is the story of resilience during times of deep sadness and the bonds of family even when discovering just how imperfect those you love are. 



Rating: 



4 stars. 



Worth staying up all night to read?



Yes. Keep kleenex near by. 





                                                                 

The Girls by Emma Cline


Book synopsis(via Goodreads):


Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong. 
***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: 

Have you ever wondered how a young person could get sucked into a cult? I know that I have. This novel takes us inside the head of Evie Boyd, a girl desperate to be loved. The novel is so gritty that there were times that I wished it were a movie so that I could hide under a blanket until the scene was over. It is dark and real and stomach-churning. The fact that the author shows the life of Evie during the time in the cult and as a grown adult made the story much more palatable, though and gives the reader a break from the darkness of her teen years. 

Rating: 


4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes, but be warned- it's not a heart-warming read by any stretch.