Posts By: Stacy Millican

Family Tragedy and Its Effects in The Sleepwalker

January 6, 2017 Book Review, reviews 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Family Tragedy and Its Effects in The SleepwalkerThe Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
Published by Doubleday Books on January 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using the link, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.

four-stars

Chris Bohjalian is one of those authors I purchase immediately. I’ve yet to read anything formulaic or contrived that he’s written. From parasomnia and human trafficking to World War II and midwives, Bohjalian’s breadth of topics and genres are wide and far-reaching.

In his latest, The Sleepwalker, Annalee Ahlberg disappears while her husband is out of town. Annalee is home alone with her two daughters, Lianna, a senior in college and Paige, a sophmore in high school.   Because Annalee suffers from parasomnia, the worst is feared.

Four years prior, Lianna found her mother on the precipice of a bridge and had to guide her home. Since that incident, Warren has not traveled overnight for work. Annalee has taken medication to help reduce the symptoms. While Lianna has remained her mother’s vigilant watcher.

The Sleepwalker is horrifying in a real-world aspect. My youngest daughter had a habit of sleepwalking until middle school. My mom says I was the same way when I was growing up. We both continue to have long detailed conversations in our sleep. But parasomnia? It is an entirely different level of sleep disturbance.

The first few chapters of The Sleepwalker focuses on the search for Annalee and the family’s response to her disappearance. The middle tended to drag in places, and I found myself skimming paragraphs. Though I wonder if that wasn’t deliberate? I imagine during a tragic disappearance the days drag, life moves slowly and nothing seems to happen. The ending was completely unexpected.

I finished The Sleepwalker a couple of weeks ago and still find myself haunted by the story. The Ahlberg family fractures as a result of Annalee’s disappearance. And isn’t that true-to-life? Families are either made stronger in tragedy or torn apart. What makes or breaks the unit? And that is the underlying question – could your family survive a tragedy? Recommended.

Meet the Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

For further reading, try the short story prequel The Premonition

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

 

 

four-stars

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December in Review

January 2, 2017 Book Talk 5

december in review

Happy New Year Lovely Readers! How was your December? Are you looking forward to a new year? For me, a new year brings so much possibility. Fresh starts. New beginnings.

December was a relatively slow reading month for me. Between traveling, family time and life there was not as much time to read as I would have liked. What I did read was all top notch. More to come on Grit and The Sleepwalker!

Reading

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff {review here}
Grit: Passion, Perseverance and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth {review coming soon}
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian {review coming soon}

 

Posting

Best Fiction Read in 2016 – I love to look back over the books read during the past year, don’t you!

How the Circus Saved Innocents in The Orphan’s Tale – I couldn’t wait to tell you about this book! It’s not being released until February 21st, but oh my goodness it was SO GOOD!

7 Must-Have Blogging Resources for #AMonthofFaves – I ended up not being able to participate more in this fantastic month-long challenge, but hopefully 2017 will be different.

13 Amazing Author TED Talks – I’m a huge champion of TED Talks. From anywhere between 4 minutes – 25 minutes, these inspirational, motivational talks are both great entertainment AND immensely educational. If you have know of one you think I’d enjoy, please do let me know!

Watching

Normally I’m not big on watching much television or Netflix but these past few months my sweetheart and I have been working our way through The Office. I know, we’re a little late to the office party, but oh wow! so many innuendos and jokes make sense now! We are on the last season now so should be finished sometime January. We need another good show to watch afterward – any suggestions?

After Christmas I had the most awful stomach bug that kicked my tail. I felt too icky to concentrate on reading and couldn’t watch The Office alone so I stumbled upon a new show that rocked my world! If I admit to watching all of Season 1 in just a few days promise not to think too badly of me?!? What’s the show? Oh yeah, that would help, right? Traveler’s – a show exclusively on Netflix. It. Is. Amazing.

Looking forward to January and . . .

A new year. I won’t lament 2016 or talk about how awful it was. This year has got to be better. It simply must.

I’m almost ready for a new dog. Last June my darling Obie had to be put down, and though I’m still grieving, it’s almost time to add a new member to the family. My first love is big dogs – Obie was a standard poodle. AND, I love the poodle intelligence. But, traveling back and forth between Arizona and Georgia is not conducive to a large dog. We would love suggestions on a good travel companion or tips on traveling with a dog if you’ve got some!

Wishing you a most wonderful 2017 and a January filled with love and light.

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Word of the Year

January 1, 2017 Life Well Lived 7

happy new year 2017

I am so ready for a new year, how about you?

Last year was the first time I chose a Word of the Year and it’s ironic how true it became – ‘take action’ was my 2016 word and boy, oh boy, was it a self-fulfilling prophecy!

My sweetheart took a promotion which has upended our lives completely. Now we commute between Arizona and Georgia every month and while it may sound glamorous at first – believe me, it’s not. It took me about four months to get our apartment set up – my goal was to buy everything used/refurbished so the cost would not be so astronomical. We’re pretty darn proud of the result and love having family and friends visit!

Next ‘take action’ was the launch of my new business created with fellow blogger, Helen from My Novel Opinion: The Novel Connection ~ Where Readers and Authors Connect. If you haven’t visited our site yet, please do! Let us know what you think!

So many small actions taken to do both of the above. It’s been a bit overwhelming at times but an incredible adventure all along the way.

Let us make today’s dreams tomorrow’s reality. - Malala Yousafzai Click To Tweet

Though, it will be nice for a new word for 2017.

WORD OF THE YEAR

 

This word came to me in early December in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and felt compelled to read Galatians. When compulsions/God’s whisper compels me like this, I usually try listen, even at 2 am. The Bible I use has an extensive life application commentary for most verses. When I read “If you feel guilty and inadequate, check your focus. Are you living by faith in Christ or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?” Hmmm, do I have to answer that one out loud? 😉 I knew then that focus was my word for 2017. It was like Paul had written Galatians just for me. Funny how that works, right!

For 2017 I plan to focus. In all its connotations.

Have you chosen a word of the year?

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Best Fiction Read in 2016

December 30, 2016 Book Talk 14

Best Fiction of 2016

What is the second favorite thing for list makers to do if they’re not making a list? Reading a list! Ok, well, maybe that’s the third favorite thing cause checking off lists is right up there with making a list. But for flow and purposes of this post can we agree reading and checking off lists are one and the same 😉 My ‘upholder’ daughter is cringing if she’s reading this post! “What? Mom, {be sure to add the correct amount of inflection into that ‘mom’} you can’t make up rules like that!” Poor thing ~ it’s hard having a rebel for a mom and for a husband!

But I digress – you’re here for the list, right?

General Fiction

Favorite reads from 2016
Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Timely. Scary. And unfortunately, based on a true occurrence.

My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
It took me awhile to finally pick up the first in the Neapolitan quintet, but oh my goodness when I finally read My Brilliant Friend, I could totally see why these books were taking the world by storm. Reading this quintet is a completely immersive experience. Some of the best storytelling I’ve ever read.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My first Ann Patchett book and definitely will not be my last.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
L
ovely, feel-good book about those who love books. Had me laughing, crying and sometimes both at the same time. Loved it!

Science Fiction

by Justin Cronin
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
I
 resisted reading this one for so long because I’d read it was about vampires. I’ve been over vampires since before vampires were even a thing, so I really didn’t want a ‘vampire’ novel. This is more end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it plague kind-of book. And phenomenal.

Thrillers

Best thrillers of 2016
The Kept Woman
by Karin Slaughter
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Karin Slaughter is one of those authors I automatically buy. She never fails to live up to the hype, and I’m always impressed with the detail and focus she brings to crimes against women.

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjilian
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Another author I automatically buy. Chris Bohjilian’s novels are in that same social consciousness category as Jodi Picoult’s. Both authors tackle a current issue in each of their books with deft and precision.

What are some of your favorite reads from 2016?

 

Image Sources:
Post Header Image: Aliis Sinisalu
Book Cover Images: Goodreads

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How the Circus Saved Innocents in The Orphan’s Tale

December 17, 2016 Book Review, reviews 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

How the Circus Saved Innocents in The Orphan’s TaleThe Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
Published by Mira on February 21st 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using the link, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.

 

Here I am on a flight bound to Phoenix and what book do I choose to read? The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff. Oh my goodness dearest ones. If you embarrass easily, don’t read this one on the plane. I started ugly sobbing about 3/4 of the way through and didn’t stop until we landed in Arizona!

Historical fiction set during World War II is a personal favorite. There is still so much to be learned about the Holocaust and World War II. For example, did you know the circus continued to operate and perform during much of the war? And that some of the performers were Jewish, hiding in plain sight. Brilliant!

The Orphan’s Tale takes us backstage as a high-flying circus performer. The story begins with Noa, a young girl cast from her home in Holland for becoming pregnant by a German soldier. We learn Noa was accepted into a home for unwed mothers pregnant with what the Nazi’s deemed the perfect race. But something goes horribly wrong when Noa’s baby is born, and Noa is left with empty arms and a large hole in place of her heart.

As The Orphan’s Tale begins, Noa is working in a train station for scraps simply trying to survive. When she hears a strange noise from one of the train cars, 17-year-old Noa breaks every rule by opening the door. What she finds inside turns her blood cold – baby upon baby thrown on top of one another, some with tatters for clothes, some completely naked, most frozen in the bitter cold. Discovering one infant still alive, softly mewling, Noa rescues the baby bound for the gas chambers. With little thought of where to go, how to get away, what to do, Noa escapes deep into the woods running until she can run no more.

Discovered in the woods by members of the local well-known circus, Noa and the rescued infant are taken in and nursed back to health. Given the choice to depart the circus or stay and earn her keep, Noa is apprenticed to well-known lead aerialist, Astrid. Astrid hails from a neighboring circus whose business had been shut down because the family was Jewish. Astrid’s family was well-known throughout the area for their skills, especially on the flying trapeze. And all of this happens in the first few pages.

A book of unlikely friendships, the humanity of strangers and sacrifice for the greater good. Must read. Click To Tweet

I’ve read extensively books set in and around World War II. The Orphan’s Tale is the first fictional account I’m aware of to focus on the efforts of the circus during the war. The dichotomy of villagers and soldiers attending the circus as if nothing was amiss baffles me. Though I know it was so. Pam Jenoff does a superb job of creating layers of conflict. The layer upon layer of human emotion are deftly woven, believable and oh so heartbreaking. What could have easily turned into a tragic account of mankind becomes an opportunity for man to reveal his most kind nature.

My only complaint throughout the entire novel was Astrid’s secrets versus Noa’s secrets – and it’s probably that I can’t fathom being prudish about the differing secrets. One is accepting of the other when her secret is revealed, but at a later time, when the roles are reversed, there is no acceptance – only hurt, betrayal, anger.

If you are looking for a book about the love of friendship, the humanity of strangers, and sacrifice for the greater good . . .The Orphan’s Tale is for you. I was reminded of the verse Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me. Matthew 25:40 This book epitomizes loving your neighbor as yourself. Beautiful, profound, and devastating, it is a book that must be read. Just be sure to have tissues handy.

If you enjoyed

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum then you’ll love The Orphan’s Tale. {affiliate links}

Many thanks to Mira and NetGalley for the early review copy.

 

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