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theinsomniacreader

The Insomniac Reader

Books and snarky commentary inspired by insomnia induced reading marathons.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings  - George R.R. Martin It took me years to finish this book. I just had better shit to read.

In spite of GRRM's obsession with creating list after list of every food that was eaten and every article of clothing ever worn by every character to the point that you just stop having any fucks to give, I really enjoyed the first book. This was a major disappointment. As a little exercise, I started renaming some of the worst chapters to help me get through this book. Some nap inspiring chapters include, but are not limited to:

- The Saga of Arya's Bladder
- That Time Theon Greyjoy Got a Blowjob and No One Cared
- Bran Sits at the Adult's Table and Boring Things Happen

Things finally improved toward the end, when things started to actually happen. Thank goodness for Tyrion's wit. Also, for the record, I would like declare drunk Cersei my spirit animal.

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Perfection.

The main thing that eventually got me to finish this book, other than missing two seasons of the HBO series because I don't want to watch the show until I finish the books they're based on, is that I know the author is capable of so much more than what he offered here. It is my hope that the future books provide more substance so that I can forgive this one stale part of the series.

Skin and Bones

Skin and Bones - Sherry Shahan Review to come.

Thumbprint Graphic Novel

Thumbprint - Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella, Vic Malhotra

*I received a book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

I read the Kindle Edition of this book about a year ago and really enjoyed it. I also really enjoyed this graphic novel version. This is one of those moments when I'm very annoyed that Goodreads won't let me review different editions of the same book. There is a big difference between a Kindle single and a graphic novel. But I digress. 

 

Thumbprint is a harsh story about an Iraq veteran named Mallory, who needless to say, as some issues. But not nearly as many issues as the guy who keeps on sending her thumbprints in the mail and is obviously stalking her. Around this cat and mouse game is a story of how way does not always create heroes, and the glamorous perception of the U.S. Military is stripped away. 

 

The story is cruel and unforgiving and if dark elements to a story are not your thing, or if the psychological impact of war might be a trigger for you, it is best avoided.

 

The graphic novel has a different ending from the Kindle Single. So if you read one it's worth it to read the other just for the differences. Both are good and both leave things somewhat unresolved in a creepy dark way.  

Five - Out of the Dark (Five #1)

Five: Out of the Dark - Holli Anderson

*I received this book for free from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

I wanted to enjoy this book more. I really did. It's a fun concept. Five teenagers discover they have magic powers and live in the Seattle Underground fighting supernatural forces of evil. You can't tell me that isn't right up my alley. It's nothing new, but it's a genre I will always enjoy.

 

But I couldn't get past two things:

1. The writer had a tendency to tell instead of show. This often made reading some part feel like I was going through someone's grocery list.

2. The love story between Jonathan and Paige. It interrupted everything. At all times. Because Paige can't ever not think about Jonathan. Ever. Jonathan invades her thoughts like a parasite and I couldn't deal with it. A little subtlety would have been a good thing here.

 

Since this plans on being a series, I hope the writer smooths out these flaws, because I really think this would be an enjoyable YA series.

Five - Out of the Dark

Five - Out of the Dark - Holli Anderson *I received this book for free from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

2.5/5 stars.

I wanted to enjoy this book more. I really did. It's a fun concept. Five teenagers discover they have magic powers and live in the Seattle Underground fighting supernatural forces of evil. You can't tell me that isn't right up my alley. It's nothing new, but it's a genre I will always enjoy.

But I couldn't get past two things:

1. The writer had a tendency to tell instead of show. This often made reading some part feel like I was going through someone's grocery list.

2. The love story between Jonathan and Paige. It interrupted everything. At all times. Because Paige can't ever not think about Jonathan. Ever. Jonathan invades her thoughts like a parasite and I couldn't deal with it. A little subtlety would have been a good thing here.

Since this plans on being a series, I hope the writer smooths out these flaws, because I really think this would be an enjoyable YA series.

The Fifth Beatle

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story - Vivek Tiwary, Philip Simon, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker

*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

As far as The Beatles go, I consider myself someone who likes a lot of their songs, but I don't have what it takes to be a die hard fan. That being said, I do appreciate the impact they made on music and pop culture. 

 

In this graphic novel, Tiwary focuses on the "fifth Beatle" also known as Brian Epstein, music entrepreneur responsible for managing the Beatles among other musical acts of the time. Poor Brian Epstein did not have it easy at the time. He was Jewish and gay during a time when that really was not a good thing, especially in the UK when being homosexual made you a criminal. Laws against homosexuality were not decriminalized until a month after Epstein's death. He also abused prescription medication, and since he died at the age of 32 from a lethal combination of Carbitral and alcohol, I think we can guess how well that ended.

 

The graphic novel presents Epstein as a workaholic with a dream to make sure The Beatles became the biggest thing in the music industry since sliced bread. He made this dream a reality with a zeal that borders on insanity. I'd make a comment about his mental health, but considering the circumstances of his life, that seems unnecessary to mention. 

 

Along with talking about his successes there is another important story that gives humanity to Epstein. We see the successful and hard working business man, we see the man who drank too much and took too many pills, but we also saw the troubled man who society and the law considered a criminal who just longed for a sense of belonging in this world. And that might have been the best and saddest part of the whole story. 

 

Tiwary did his research, but he doesn't apologize for taking some artistic license and creating a story that's part myth part fact that Epstein himself survived on for much of his life. If you can forgive that bending of the rules in non-fiction, this is a very interesting story with beautiful artwork worth reading for anyone who is a Beatles fan, or interesting in pop culture history in general. 

SPOILER ALERT!

Tristis Manor (The Never Chronicles, #1.5)

Tristis Manor - J.R. Wagner

*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


Full disclosure: I know absolutely nothing about this series. When I requested this book on Netgalley, I obviously was not paying very close attention. My fault for always searching Netgalley at ungodly hours.

So, I chose to just read this as if it were a stand alone short story by a writer. As a short story, it is very well written and engaging. A warning to those with triggers, the story deals with elements like child abuse and rape. I'm going to assume the rest of the series is like that, but I'm just mentioning that in case other people are clueless like I was. Other elements it deals with is integrity, family secrets, greed, the limits of home and family set for women in history, and social status. It's all very interesting. Upcoming spoilers--->

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The story ends with the reader asking a lot of questions. When Margaret's father kills his wife after he found out she allowed a pedophile into her home so that she can have an affair with him and have his child (While telling her husband the baby is his.) to have a taste the social status she misses. Margaret's father was always seen as the good guy. Though when he finds out Margaret's sister is not his daughter, he doesn't feel the same way about her as he does before. Also, murdering his wife puts his remaining family in an unstable situation and breaks up the family. Her father comes to terms with what he did and sends his daughters to a friend while he faces the consequences of his actions. While Margaret is fine with him killing her mother, I have to wonder if it was really done for any sense of justice, or for his daughter and was a selfish act he did for himself. It's an interesting study of how people deal with justice, anger, and how "selfless" people actually are being when they try to "make things right."

Margaret's mother is a woman who loves status so much that she is willing to endanger the life of her daughter so that she can continue to enjoy that status. She is evil in every way for this and there is nothing to redeem her from that. But you also can't help but wonder if her life would have been different if her gender didn't limit her life to marriage and family. I'm sure she would have still been a terrible human being, but would she have resorted to that level of evil if she had more of the opportunities that women have today? Or would she have been even more evil? Power wields people after all. 

After reading this in between series short story, I actually think I will read the series from the beginning one day. I find that it's more difficult to hold a reader's attention in shorter works than in longer ones, and the writer does a very good job at keeping the reader's attention.

SPOILER ALERT!

The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant

The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant - Veronica Roth

I will mention in advance before anything spoler-ey comes up. 

 

I debated whether or not to consider this a "book" book because it's really more of a fun fan thing explaining the different factions, where some of the author's inspiration came from, a fun little quiz to see which faction best suits you, and a sneak peak of Allegiant. But I think it's worth mentioning that the writer did a good job explaining the how and why she chose the faction names, and the manifestos were interesting (especially the parts of the manifestos that were removed over time). It gives the reader an interesting look into the origins of the series. It's a free download and worth looking into for any fan of the Divergent series.

 

Some things that I think is worth mentioning:

 

"Name changing is also interesting from a religious perspective. In the Torah, when a biblical figure has an encounter with God, sometimes he or she is given a new name. Abram to Abraham, for example. Jacob to Israel. Sarai to Sarah. Same thing in the Bible-Saul becomes Paul; Simon becomes Peter. This usually signals the beginning of some kind of transformation or indicates that a transformation or indicates that a transformation has already taken place."

 

When I read the second book, I began to wonder if the series had certain religious undertones to it. I can't tell if that's intentional or not, and I can't tell if I'm wrong or not. So maybe this is a hint of some kind or maybe it isn't. What is more frustrating to me is that I did not review Insurgent so I can't remember clearly what parts seemed to hint at religion or spirituality to me. I just thought it was interesting.

 

She mentions the factions, why she chose the words she chose to name the factions, and also gives detailed faction manifestos. I'm going to say that I'm pretty sure the manifestos were not mentioned in detail in the books so for anyone who does not want to have that ruined for them, for whatever reason, stop reading right...about...now.

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From the Abnegation Faction Manifesto:

 

"Therefore I choose to turn away

From my reflection, 

To rely not on myself

But on my brothers and sisters,

To project always outward

Until I disappear*

 

(*Some members add a final line: 'And only God remains.' That is at the discretion of each member, and is not compulsory.)'" 

 

So perhaps the Abnegation faction is the part with the religious undertones? Maybe this is the author's view of what religion and spirituality is for her? Maybe I'm talking nonsense? 

 

From the Amity Faction Manifesto:

 

"(The following section was part of the original manifesto, but was later removed.)

 

Involvement

 

One Friend says to Another: "Friend, today I fought with my enemy."

The Other Friend says: "Why did you fight with your enemy?

"Because they were about to hurt you."

"Friend, why did you defend me?"

"Because I love you."

"Then I am grateful."

 

It was an interesting mention that this part was removed from the Amity manifesto. Perhaps as a faction devoted to peace, Involvement would lead to discord and therefore did not count as a "conversation of peace." And it helps reflect on how extreme the factions had become when they were already single minded from the start, especially as tensions started. 

 

 

The Four Stages of Reading "The Knife Of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness (so far)

Whatever...

 

i am unimpressed gif

 

Nothing interesting happening here...

 

bored gif

 

Wait a second...

 

WTF? gif

 

Now things are finally starting to get interesting...

 

can't stop reading gif

 

 

Censorship, the Goodreads Debacle, and Mission Incoherence

"So, what does this mean? Will we see a cleansing of the site, stripping it of all of the things that made it quirky, and weird, and funny, and interesting and, dare I say it, bookish? Because if we do, then ultimately, changing that culture will cause the old Goodreads to cease to exist. It will go all corporate. Sooner or later, reviews and ratings will not be about enthusiasm. They will be about sales.

 

For those of us who loved the Goodreads that was, it feels like a pretty sad day. For the guys in the red logo polo shirts who would monetize breathing if they could figure out a way to do it, it’s a pretty good day. For the authors, I don’t think that they realize it yet, but they are just cannon fodder, too. Because the corporate guys don’t care if they sell your book. They just want to sell a book."

 

- From the Midnight Reader (link above)

 

Well said. 

About The Insomniac Reader

"I often carry things to read

so that I will not have to look at

the people"

 

-Charles Bukowski

 

 

When I'm not doing silly everyday things, like trying to avoid awkward social interactions in the artificial societies of the real world...

 

No, thank you, please

 

...yes I know how pretentious I just sounded. I stole it from Daria. So really I'm just a fraud. A fraud who is too old to be watching cartoons about High School students. Also, don't be surprised if I use that Liz Lemon gif a lot. It's my favorite.

 

But anyway, when I'm not too busy being insufferably awkward as I try my best to navigate the realities of the average life of anyone with things like friends' birthdays to remember, dinner to try to not burn...

 

hermoine granger potions class hp6

 

and bills that will hopefully be paid in a timely manner...

 

 

I can be found doing a fair amount of reading. 

 

Hermoine reading HP 4 

 

It's generally what I do in my not-so-secret spare time. I hide from humans and I read. It's really a shame no one wants to pay me to curl up in a cozy place with my tea to read and then nap on my reading experience later. Then I could make more time for it. 

 

But then when I'm done hiding from humans, it's nice to find other humans who also like reading. From the comforts in my own home, in my pajamas, bra not required, where I don't have to actually be near people but can still talk to them. 

 

lazy internet surfing.

 

The internet is very handy for the misanthropic book nerd who never gets enough sleep or gets to see enough sunlight. 

 

So welcome to one of my outlets for reading and talking about reading. Feel free to follow and join in on my cynical world. 

 

Oh, other info you might find handy:

 

- The books I like: I like all kinds of books. Lately I've been into YA, Fantasy, and Dystopian Fiction. But I like reading from a variety of genres. And even if our shelves have nothing in common I like reading new things and would be interested in what you have to say about these books I haven't had the chance to read yet. 

 

- Goodreads: I have an account there. Due to policy changes they made and the sneaky way they deleted users' shelves and reviews without notifying them that they violated these new policy changes, I am also here to back up my ratings and reviews. So, for the most part, other than dedicating more time to separate but relevant blog posts here, I will be crossposting to both accounts a lot. I'm putting that disclaimer here so that I don't have to repeat myself with every review because I'm lazy. None of my reviews or shelves on GR have been deleted, and I'm not here to cause trouble. I just find GR untrustworthy after that massive kerfuffle. 

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You - Ella Berthoud, Susan Elderkin *I received this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

The Novel Cure is basically a list of book recommendations. It's generally not something I go for. Book recommendations are pretty much everywhere. Amazon, book store staff, us goodreader folk, your bff, the crazy old guy suffering a bad case of flatulence at Strand (I have not forgotten you, you lovable, gassy old coot, and I promise to read Joan Didion as soon as possible), your Aunt Josie's pet parakeet. Everyone's got a book or fifty that you MUST read for one reason or another.

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Let's just say reading a book about books I need to be reading just isn't necessary in my life.

But this book has a fun concept. The idea behind it is called bibliotherapy, the prescribing of fiction for life's ailments. The ailments are all listed in alphabetical order, and along with it is a list of books to read that have to do with the problem and usually a description for why this book is relevant to your problems. From the sound of broken china to burning dinner. From suffering the pains of a broken heart to caring for someone who has cancer to depression. From claustrophobia to xenophobia, there's a list of books out there for you to help you through the situation.

Obviously, this should not be taken as serious medical advice. It's the equivalent of the mood ring for books. Or reading books according to your Zodiac sign. Well, maybe one step above that. Books can and have had a certain healing quality. The escapism is therapeutic. And there's something relieving about finding a character who knows what you've been through. But it's not a legitimate prescription from a doctor. And it's not going to replace a psychologist's advice when suffering from mental illness. And books can't replace support from real people. Unless those real people suck. But why are they in your life anyway if they suck?

While there are some passages encouraging violence against books that made me wish this book had a cure for this sensation:

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I had fun going through the lists and seeing what books they liked for what situation. Which is what this book was meant to be. Unless the writers actually are serious. If that's the case there are far worse quacks out there who we let write things for health.

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Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi - Neal Bascomb *I received a free ARC from Netgalley for an honest review*

This book goes into the details surrounding the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious Nazis in history and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. This biography is intended for younger readers, and goes into detail the history of Eichmann's crimes, his family, the long plan of his capture, the capture itself, his trial and the repercussions of that.

One of the most historically significant things about Eichmann's capture was that his trial in Israel brought the horrors of the Holocaust back to public light. It reminded younger generations of what happened so that those who died would not be forgotten, and gave survivors an opportunity to talk about their suffering which really wasn't done before. This fact is very important and should not be forgotten.

The story of Eichmann's capture reads like a classic spy story. It's something you'd expect out of the movies. Forgeries, disguises, long plans in tiny offices, safe houses, trap doors, lengthy interrogations. All the fascinating details of that are here and it makes for an interesting read. Nearly everyone involved in Eichmann's capture was affected by his actions as a Nazi, and it was admirable to see people who had so much invested in his capture pull it off so well.

When Eichmann was captured, it was hard to reconcile how this older man who was behaving so subserviently that it was pathetic was once a person who was a terrifying authority figure. That is so often the case with the veil of absolute authority. It's like the great and powerful Oz being a sad man behind a curtain. It so often goes that way. Stripped of his uniform and his Nazi support, he was just a pathetic man standing trial, resigned to his grim fate.

For me the end was one of the best parts, where you find out what happens to the people involved in the captures years after the fact, which was a happy ending. Then you read about the fate of Eichmann's surviving family, his wife and children. That is more haunting.

Sometimes the writer tries to hard to make the book seem like a novel. other times the writing is too dry. That inconsistency in writing style can make the reader lose interest in some parts and become confused about some details along the way. While the writer does give explanation of how he found all this information and details, which was very thorough research, certain details like knowing how the secretary put out her cigarette and when during a meeting seems unnecessary and self-indulgent. There's really no way to know something like that as fact, and the writer is trying to hard to sound like a novelist when he does it.

There might be some annoying flaws in writing style, but overall this is an informative and in-depth look into the implications of Adolf Eichmann's capture and trial.
Man V. Liver - Neil Hinson;Paul Friedrich *I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Here's the entire point of this book:

1. Draw pictures. Usually these pictures involve a man drinking.

2. Put "witty" sayings about drinking. This so called wit ranges somewhere between moronic frat boy, crotchety old idiot, and the nonsensical musings of someone suffering from a traumatic brain injury. I've had more lucid conversations with people suffering from dementia.

3. Publish.

4. Profit.

Beyond that I can't understand the point. Neil Hinson is no Dorothy Parker or Winston Churchill. While my expectations weren't that high, I was expecting to be at least somewhat amused by this little novelty book but as mentioned before, it's just gibberish with pictures looking for a quick buck.
Moxyland - Lauren Beukes Moxyland is a little difficult to get into at first. You're just tossed in Lauren Beukes' s fictional world of extreme corporate branding and government and police abuse of power and technology that was supposed to benefit us.

At first you don't think anything is happening. Then you realize that you just aren't noticing what's happening. I would have liked a little more actions and less build up. But I enjoyed the story, reading about the lives and personalities of the characters, and the message of freedom vs. convenience.
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn This book has been praised up and down here there and everywhere. Already there are lists for "The Next Gone Girl" of the year. There's apparently going to be a movie adaptation. And this is one of those times when I just don't get it.

I'm pretty unimpressed, actually.

So here are the two narrators of the story. There's Nick. The needy, self-centered, whiny, insecure, covert narcissist mama's boy with daddy issues.


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Only he doesn't cry though. Because whiny men are like that. They try to hide it as best they can because they want everyone to like him so that everyone knows what a NICE GUY he is. He loves unconditional approval like a sad, whiny puppy. Even if he shits on your rug. He's that kind of guy.

And he's not a TERRIBLE person exactly. But he's not great either. I guess this is the writer's way of saying that no one is all good. It would have been nice if she tried to show that without using this completely hollow, self-absorbed, "Even when I'm trying to seem selfless it's still all about me or all about resolving my issues and me, me, ME!" moron as an example.

Then there's Amy, the wife who goes missing. I can't get too into her without giving away major spoilers for anyone who might be interested in reading the book, but this is how I picture her.

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Nick and Amy are the kind of New Yorkers that the rest of us New Yorkers love to hate. Which I would have been fine with. I don't need to like the characters to enjoy the book. But I just didn't enjoy the book.

The plot is predictable. I was too busy hating Amy and Nick to notice it at first, but it's pretty obvious. The story is vapid. Privileged people are like that. There's nothing interesting there. The stakes aren't high enough because while the privileged have plenty to lose, they usually don't lose much of it when they do. The only time the stakes were high, and things started to get a little interesting was toward the very, very end. And by then I just didn't give a shit.

The characters fall flat a lot of the time. Stereotypes everywhere. Everyone in this book is wearing a neon sign describing exactly who they are and what they're going to do before the writer even gets around to it. This was disappointing for me because I was promised dark, sick characters. And I love that. The darker and more twisted the better.

The story tries to bring up interesting issues, such as comparing how the upper middle class whine and whine about their problems while other middle class workers lose their jobs, many becoming homeless and living in a shut down mall and drug use is common. The ones who still havet their homes obviously look down on them and rumors of them committing gang rape and possibly kidnapping Amy arise. While they fear their homeless, the homeless also fear them, and might actually have better reason to. It shows how the civilization is not really all that civilized. But it's only mentioned in such a small part of the story, you almost forget about it. This was incredibly disappointing.

This story is the kind of trashy Lifetime TV "based on a true crime" movie that are geared toward stereotypically bored upper middle class Midwestern white suburbanites who like to snoop on their equally boring neighbors and would just salivate at the idea of something this interesting happening near them so that they'd have something other than PTA meetings and pot lucks to look forward to.

The thing is, I figured those people died off in nature and now only exist in trashy Lifetime movies.