Saturday, February 25, 2017

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

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Book synopsis(via Goodreads)

Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?

***Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel is set to be published in April of 2017***

This insomniac's opinion:

I truly enjoyed this author's novel This Raging Light, of which this novel is a companion to. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you pick it up.

While I admit that I did not enjoy this novel as thoroughly as This Raging Light, it was a fascinating read. Estelle Laure writes with beautiful, flowery language and is swept away into a story in which the author is unfraid to tackle such subjects as death, the afterlife and recovery after tragedy.

I think that young girls and women especially will enjoy this YA read.


3.5 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes, particularly if you are a young woman. 


Unclobber by Colby Martin

This review may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy here

Book synopsis(via Goodreads): 

Churches in America are experiencing an unprecedented fracturing due to their belief and attitude toward the LGBT community. Armed with only six passages in the Bible often known as the clobber passages the conservative Christian position has been one that stands against the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters. Unclobber reexamines each of those frequently quoted passages of Scripture, alternating with author Colby Martin's own story of being fired from an evangelical megachurch when they discovered his stance on sexuality.

UnClobber reexamines what the Bible says (and does not say) about homosexuality in such a way that breathes fresh life into outdated and inaccurate assumptions and interpretations.

***Many thanks to Westminster John Knox Press and Net Galley for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ***

This Insomniac's opinion: 

This book came along at just the right time for me. I had left a church that i had attended for many years due the pastor's discrimination against an homosexual pastor. On the same day that i publicly denounced that pastor's actions, I saw a post by Glennon Doyle Melton(who wrote the forward of this book) about this amazing book. Then, again the same day, I saw that this book was available to me as an advanced reader's copy for free. Kismet. 

This isn't necessarily the kind of book that one enjoys, per se. It is, however, full of information for those of us that are tired of "Christians" using what Mr. Martin calls the "clobber verses" of the bible to denounce and choose those who may identify as LGBTQ. It is a book that is full of kindness and compassion and gives the reader many things to ponder. I highly recommend it. 


4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?



Monday, January 2, 2017

Best of 2016

This post may contain affiliate links, please see full disclosure here.

In the year of 2016, I read 145 books. My goal for the Goodreads challenge was 105 books, but truth be told- I always mentally shoot for 150. I didn't make it to 150 but I did read some incredible books, most pointedly more non-fiction books than ever before.

I'll break down the "winners" by category but I positively refuse to rank them in each group.

Let's start with non-fiction, in a departure from the way that I normally write this list. Nearly all of my favorite books this year were non-fiction, after all.


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Ms. Woodson(a National Book award and Newberry award winner) writes an absolutely eloquent and moving book of poetry of what it was like to grow up as an African American child in the 1960s and 70s. A heavenly and poignant read that you will never forget.


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice of Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Mr. Stevenson, a young lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, is the true story of an idealistic young man that spends his life fighting for justice for those who have none. The story is told both through the coming of age of the author and the harrowing stories of his clients. It is a poignant and painful indictment of the current American justice system and race relations in our country. I believe that absolutely everyone should read this. 


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

You may know Mr. Noah from his work on The Daily Show. This book tells of his surprising beginnings in South Africa where he was "born a crime"when his white, Swiss father had a child with his black Xhosa mother. This book is alternately laugh out loud hilarious, absolutely shocking and poignant. I can't imagine a more appropriate book for times as the author tells us to be wary of governments that divide us to better rule the people. As always, history is our greatest teacher. 

As a side note, I would love to meet his mother some day. Trevor clearly speaks of some of his mother's flaws in the book(we are all flawed, after all) but she seems absolutely extraordinary. 


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn

An absolutely powerful book of stories that is overall a call for the world to rise up and stand against the worldwide oppression of woman. Inspirational, harrowing and desperately sad all at once. 


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Just as he was completing a decade of training to be a neurosurgeon, Dr. Kalanithi is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He died in March of 2015 while writing this poignant book, but his words were left to us as a guide of what is really important in our lives. Stunningly honest and beautiful piece of work and maybe of particularly of importance to those, like me, that are in the medical field. 


Look at You Now: My Journey from Shame to Strength by Liz Pryor

The previously untold story of Liz Pryor's journey in 1979 as an unexpectedly pregnant seventeen year-old sent off to a locked facility for juvenile offenders and young pregnant women to have her baby. An extraordinary and detailed story of those months many years ago and how they have impacted the author's life forever. It reads so beautifully that it felt like fiction, but had truths inside that burn as only true stories can. 



Sold by Patricia McCormick

Yes, this is categorized as a children's book. Don't let that scare you off, Loves. Lakshmi is a desperately poor Nepali girl who is told that she must take a job to help her  family. She is told that she will go on a journey to become a maid, but instead ends up placed in the unthinkable position of being sold into prostitution. This book will stick with you long after the last page is turned. 


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This one surprised me. I did not expect to love it so much. Finch and Violet are two people that no one would expect to form a friendship- after all, Finch is obsessed with death and Violet is obsessed with the future. They meet on the ledge of the bell tower and an unlikely friendship blossomed. The novel is equally gripping and poignant, a page-turner that will leave you breathless. 


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is a young Lithuanian girl in 1941. She lives a pretty normal life until the night that soldiers barge into the safety of her home, separating her family and sending her on a journey of hope amidst war and destruction. This one is, again, a children's book that is so stunningly written that whole families can come together to read it. 


I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

Annie Bell is a young woman living in Oklahoma during the dust bowl. Dust covers everything and times are desperate for her family and all of the midwest. Her family, once held together so fragilely, begins to split apart under the strain of their life and Annie find escape in an unlikely place- an escape that may cost her more than she ever prepared for. This novel was written so beautifully that I lost myself inside the pages. 


Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Another book that I never expected would find it's way onto my year end best-of list. I've never read a book that can hold tension so tight throughout the entirety of a novel. Absolutely the most creative and gripping novel that I've ever read. An apocalyptic novel like no other. 


Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Yet another Children's book. Are you seeing a theme. No longer is serious fiction relegated to the adult sections of the library, a fact that I find quite thrilling for our younger readers. 

Annabelle lives a quiet life in Pennsylvania until Toby, a strange WWI veteran, is targeted by Annabelle's cruel classmate Betty. Their lives will never be the same. 


Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

This was a novel after my own heart and in many ways mirrored the deep depression that haunted me throughout my teen years. Gritty at times, moving, honest and much-needed in today's world, this story of Charlotte as she weathers the pain of her life will stay with you forever. 


What was your favorite book of 2016?