[REVIEW] Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes

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I first stumbled upon this book on GoodReads last month and it intrigued me because I like New York. A few days have passed and I saw one of my GoodReads friend gave it a great rating and a review so I decided to give it a go when it comes out. I have to say that this book was so wonderful and full of wisdom (which you’d expect because it has Oliver Sacks in it – but I have to say that I found Bill to be rather intelligent and as interesting).

After a tragic loss of his partner Bill Hayes, at forty-eight moves to New York in order to escape from grieving thoughts which often occur after a loss of a loved one.  He gets to New York and becomes consoled by  –  it’s beauty, the New Yorkers, kind people with whom he crosses paths with and the capturing of it all with his camera. His friendship with Oliver begins in an inordinary way – by getting a letter in which Oliver said that he was supposed to blurb his book but only got around to it now. From that point on they began talking and going on dinners. Their relationship gets more intimate with time and they get to know one another better while socialising and most of all exchanging words and wisdom. Being a memoir, we see everything from Bill’s perspective – from the unusual encounters he has with strangers, to taking pictures of them, to walking through New York and just observing everything that he comes into contact with. We also experience the great wisdom and loss of a brilliant mind – Oliver Sacks.

This was a really warm and lovely memoir with almost every page shining with great quotes about life and other great things. I like how Oliver saw beauty and analysed things that most people don’t even think to look or think about. As I’ve said at the beginning I think that Bill was also quite intelligent and a good companion for Sacks. The conversations they’ve had were so brilliant and also funny! I like how Bill included photographs with each new chapter of the memoir. I have to say that I was surprised at how extroverted Bill is – approaching strangers, starting up conversations – but most of all I was surprised at how most people were friendly with him and agreed to have their picture taken by him. I also enjoyed Ilana and her ‘eye’ portrait of Bill, she really did capture his presence with just only his eye. There were tons of interesting people we meet through the pages. Bill is a very perceptive person and I really appreciated his stories.

Overall, a really great memoir about brilliance, loss and strange happenings in the city of New York.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

Add ‘Insomniac City’ to your TBR:   goodreads-logo-square



Bill Hayes is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, Bill Hayes is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the author of several books.
A photographer as well as a writer, his photos have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Granta, New York Times, and on CBS Evening News. His portraits of his partner, the late Oliver Sacks, appear in the recent collection of Dr. Sacks’s suite of final essays Gratitude.
Hayes has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, the recipient of a Leon Levy Foundation grant, and a Resident Writer at Blue Mountain Center. He has also served as a guest lecturer at Stanford, NYU, UCSF, University of Virginia, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Find him on:  Website,  Twitter

[DNF-REVIEW] See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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This is the kind of book that didn’t pull me into its story. See What I Have Done is a fictionalised tale of the Borden murders and being familiar with it myself I got excited and wanted to read it. Sadly, this wasn’t the book for me – I’m not saying that it’s a bad book  but this one didn’t work for me. I rarely DNF books but SWIHD has put me into a reading slump for more than a week and trust me I tried to approach it a couple of times but again it wasn’t something that entertained me. I feel really bad for not liking this one but that’s how it goes.. you can’t like everything.

I found the narration to be quite weak and the novel itself was rather slow for my taste. I didn’t like the voices of the characters and they didn’t sound convincing to me even tho the idea to hear from many other voices in this book sounds fascinating. The premise of the book looked amazing and that’s the reason why I requested it through Edelweiss. I feel very grateful to have gotten a chance to read it ahead of it’s publication and I truly believe that just because it wasn’t my cup of tea – it will be someone elses. I encourage you to read this book and see for yourself because you might like it.

I would also like to note that I won’t be rating this book for obvious reasons but I stand by what I said – I urge anyone interested in this novel to give it a chance and read it! I feel like I’ll be the only one who didn’t like this one when more reviews of this book come up.

I would like to thank Edelweiss, the publisher Atlantic Monthly Press and the author Sarah Schmidt for providing me with a electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Add ‘See What I Have Done‘ to your TBR:  goodreads-logo-square

*Purchase ‘See What I Have Done‘ here:  amazoncom-inc-logo

*Purchase ‘See What I Have Done‘ with free worldwide shipping: the_book_depository-svg

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.


After completing a Bachelor of Arts (Professional Writing and Editing), a Master of Arts (Creative Writing), and a Graduate Diploma of Information Management, Sarah Schmidt currently works as a Reading & Literacy Coordinator (read: a fancy librarian) at a regional public library. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner and daughter. See What I Have Done is her first novel.
Find her on:  Website,  Twitter,  GoodReads




  1.  Please credit Princess @RoyalReader (or just Royal Reader), as the creator of this tag, and add the rules.
  2. You can use the graphics provided in your post, or you’re welcome to make your own!
  3. Thank the person(s) who tagged you and let others know of their fabulous blogs.
  4. Tag as many people as you want, be it 1 or 20, it’s entirely up to you!

Thank you so much to Annie (themisstery) for tagging me! She’s one of my favourite bloggers and if you’re not following her blog then GO GO GO! Always has amazing reviews and books!

*I will also include adult fiction books because I read many genres.

*Also being a rebel I am I had to put two books instead of one :))




One of the finest! Love them so much!



I’d love to stake them for crushing my heart, you evil books! ❤



Such an amazing book by Sylvia Plath. Definitely an important one which is still in my mind.



This one needs no explanation.





I tried and tried but failed.



It worked!



It was like a regular story (detective, his past haunting him etc) in my opinion.



It was very fast-paced and kept you focused on it.



We all know this one and it needs no explanation.

I Tag:






And to everyone else:  feel free to tag yourself if you want!

[REVIEW] This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression by Daphne Merkin

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I really enjoy reading books that deal with real issues (in this case: depression). I love getting a new perspective on this subject other than my own. Depression is quite common among people and it’s something that is hard to deal with and hard for others to understand so it’s really important for people to write books about depression and share their stories with the world.

At the beginning of her memoir Merkin writes: ‘’Although past two decades have seen a significant number of books that have taken up the issues of depression, both unipolar and bipolar, including Styron’s Darkness Visible, Susanna Kaysens’s Girl, Interrupted, and Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, it seems to me that these characterizations tend to bracket the episodes of breakdown or incapacitating depression within unimpeachable demonstrations of the writer’s otherwise hyperfunctioning existence.  (It is worth noting in this regard that Darkness Visible begins when Styron is on his way to Paris to receive a prestigious award and that the book’s subtitle is ‘a memoir of madness.’)’’  – by this Merkin capitalises that she wanted to write a book which shows a completely different perspective into the ‘scene’ casting a light onto the world of depression which occurs in most people with it’s cause not necessarily being genetic (but a source of trauma) and doesn’t mysticise this illness.

It’s taken the author more than a decade to write this memoir and you can see the reasons why by reading it. Daphne Merkin gives us a vivid insight into her life – from her childhood, her strange mother, to her twenties, forties and to where she is now by the end of the book. This isn’t just a  memoir per se, while it features stories of her life and her dive struggle with depression Merkin analyses other things such as views on depression from the psychological perspective whilst adding her agreement/disagreement,  she touches famous poets and  writers (e.g. Virginia Woolf) lives and their severe depressions.  This is a completely honest memoir where the author isn’t shy to share her life story – even the embarrassing  bits but also when she gets to her lowest points in her life long battle with depression. It gets hard reading Merkin’s journey from one psychologist’s office to the other, her hospitalisations and the crazy amount of medication she has to take in order to function in this world.  I wondered what the meaning of the cover of the book was but then I read the book and found it suiting. I have to say that Daphne Merkin is really brave for sharing her painfully honest story with the reader and I’m sure that this book will be some sort of solace and inspiration to sufferers of the same illness.

Truly a wonderful, honest and real account of depression which everyone who suffers from or is interested in should read.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

Add ‘This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression‘ to your TBR:  goodreads-logo-square



Daphne Merkin is an American literary critic, essayist and novelist. Merkin is a graduate of Barnard College. She also attended Columbia University’s graduate program in English literature. She began her career as a book critic for Commentary magazine, The New Republic, and The New Leader, where she wrote a book column and later, a movie column.  In 1986, she became an editor with the publishing house of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. In 1997, after Tina Brown became editor of The New Yorker, Merkin became a film critic for the magazine. She also wrote extensively on books and became known for her frank forays into autobiography; her personal essays dealt with subjects ranging from her battle with depression, to her predilection for spanking, to the unacknowledged complexities of growing up rich on Park Avenue…,more

Find her on:  Twitter

[AWARD] The Liebster Award


We were nominated by the awesome notsomoderngirl and we’d like to thank her so much! Also go check her blog out!

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they wrote for you.
  3. Nominate 11 people.
  4. Give them your set of 11 questions to answer.

Notsomoderngirl’s questions:

  1. What three words best describe your reading habits?

    Hmm.. I don’t know why but I find it hard to answer this question.

    2. On average, how many books do you read a month?

    I don’t read that many books a month but if it’s a good month 5+ books.

    3. If you could visit any time in the past, where would you go and what would you do?

    1920’s New York – because I love NY and that period had jazz and flappers!

    4. Which character in a book has the same name as you?

    Haha yeah my name isn’t that popular and it’s foreign so..

    5. What is your best reading memory?

    I remember one time I was at my grandmother’s house and I was reading outside in the garden – the wind blowing, the birds chirping and that made me lose track of time and get sucked into the book I was reading.

    6. Who is your favourite classical author (if you have one!)?

    Sylvia Plath and Shirley Jackson came to my mind just now.

    7. If you could only have one type of weather forever, what would it be?

    Rainy days.

    8. If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

    Something comfortable like jammies haha.

    9. If you could swap places with one character from a book, which character would it be and from which book?

    This is a tough one – well it would have to be Harry Potter because being a wizard would be awesome!

    10. Have you ever borrowed a book and never given it back? Or has someone borrowed your book and not given it back?

    Oh my yeah when I was little and I still don’t know where that book is… Also yeah I lent a book to someone and they didn’t give it back to this day. No more lending books for me haha!

    11. Cats or dogs?



littlebooknesslane ;

ifindoubtread ;

fireplacereadings ;

iwuvbooks ;


OUR 11 questions:

  1. Do you remember the first book you read?
  2. What are some of your favourite books?
  3. Do you have that one author that you’ll immediately read without hesitating?
  4. Do you know many people who read books just like you in real life?
  5. What is your favourite classic book?
  6. Can you read in bed or do you avoid it because of falling asleep?
  7. How often do you read?
  8. Which book to movie adaptation is your favourite?
  9. Which book to movie adaptation did you not enjoy/did poorly in your opinion?
  10. Do you prefer reading physical books or ebooks?
  11. Bookstores or online shopping for books?

Bending the rules and tagging only 5 people  (such rebels) + I just realised that we should’ve done both this award and the Blogger Recognition Award in one post  but oh well.

[AWARD] Blogger Recognition Award


We were tagged by the amazing Melissa from thebookwormsfantasy. Go check her blog out!

Rules Of The Award

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to the post you created.

Blog origin story

This blog was initiated by me and I wanted to have Elizabeth on board because of her love for books and because she’s great. We started our blog two years ago and started posting reviews (not always regularly might I add) and then this year we began engaging with the book blogger community and became more known as reviewers (if I may say so). We each have a deep love for books so starting a book blog was the best idea. I also wanted to challenge myself and read and review more books and to broaden my vocabulary and get lost in amazing stories!

Advice for new bloggers

1)Don’t look at blogging as a chore – do it at your own pace. You have to realise that blogging is a fun thing and not make something stressful out of it. What’s important is that you’re reading books because you like reading books and not because you feel like you need to do it in order to post a review at a certain time.

2)Get better acquainted with fellow book bloggers – comment, share, like posts. You’ll feel more welcome knowing that there are amazing people who like to blog about books like you! ALSO Be careful with how many books you request as ARCs haha!


As far as I’ve seen almost everyone I follow has been tagged but we’ll tag:

knovelcafe ;

fictionophile ;

ireadnovels ;

crimeworm ;


[REVIEW] Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

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I first heard of ‘Call Me by Your Name’ last year when the movie was announced. I saw that Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet were going to play main characters, but until recently I came upon the realisation that this movie was based on a book and decided to read it before the movie came out. I expected it to be cheesy but I was so wrong.

The book follows Elio, a seventeen year old boy who meets a twenty-four year old grad student named Oliver. Elio’s parents have their villa open in the summer for guests which they choose – usually the guests are all academics who are there to finish their drafts. Upon meeting the new guest Elio feels annoyed that yet another guest is coming to their home to take his room while he has too sleep somewhere else but this time his perception changes as he begins to know the guest. Right from the start of this novel we learn that Elio is narrating the happenings of that summer as he remembers it many many years ago. A long time has passed since then but he still has a good recollection of it. This book doesn’t have a happy ending even though you really want it to. That summer, a seventeen year old young man is like all seventeen year olds –  he is still learning about life and it’s mysterious ways. Oliver seems like a well lived person from whom Elio can learn more things, the things which cannot be read in books. They begin getting closer and closer and  Elio, like all people,  likes to over-analise every situation possible that they go through. What goes through his mind is so powerful and the reader has the chance to experience it along with him. This isn’t a novel that’s just about those explicit scenes, it’s more than that, it’s a love story which gets to you. You begin to care for both of the characters and yell at Elio to do what he wants to do and not just think it. From this friendship grows something bigger and more important. Then the ending comes and you want to scream because you don’t want it to end that way.

I wanted to read this because since ‘A Little Life’ I haven’t really read a book that explores the theme of love and sexuality. This book will throw you across the room and take your heart out of your chest. Now that I think about it, why did I even decide to read it? But then I remember that even though it causes pain – it’s still a good book which I enjoyed reading. I love the way Aciman characterised Elio because he feels like a real seventeen year old and the way he was over-thinking about things made him even more real.  Long after you finish this book it’ll still stay and create hollowness in you. I am honestly looking forward to the film and not looking forward to it because it will ruin me again. I have read a few reviews of the film and the critics seem to be very pleased with it.

If you’re looking for a heart-wrenching but still worth it book then this is the one for you. Give it a try because there’s such complexity to it and realness which make it a rewarding read.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

Add ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to your TBR:   goodreads-logo-square



André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Princeton and Bard and is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center.

Find him on:  Twitter, GoodReads

[REVIEW] Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

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I have been waiting for this book to come out for a while now. I have read the first chapter somewhere in December 2016 and got excited like crazy about it. I even put the US cover of the book as my background for my tablet (and emailed the author with it haha). I waited and waited  (good thing I had other books to read or else I’d die) until it finally came out and I immediately picked it up and read it. There has been a lot of marketing for this book even before it came out with the hashtag #WTFthatending on Twitter which I’m sure everyone has seen. Here’s the thing – whenever books are over-hyped  they seem to fail the reader in one way or the other because of their high expectations . I have to say that this book was flipping good and worth the hype.

Behind Her Eyes is the first psychological thriller from Sarah Pinborough which follows two women – Louise and Adele. While reading the book we learn their stories each from their point of views.  These women are connected through David – who is Adele’s husband and Louise’s man-from-the-bar and also her new boss. Louise works as a secretary and is a single mom of a sweet boy named Adam. One night she meets David and has a brief tender encounter with him and then he leaves the bar leaving her full of hope that she’s still got it. Louise goes to work and sees David and learns that he’s her new boss. Not much longer after that while dropping her son off to school she bumps into Adele – who she knows now is her boss’ wife. Both end up chatting and continuing their chat over at the restaurant. She begins to get close to both of them – the beautiful and angelic Adele and the good-looking and charming blue-eyed David. As she gets to know them better she uncovers that not everything is what it seems. Why is Adele’s presence fearful and anxious?  Why is she saying that David – the charismatic and magnetising David – is the reason behind it?

I have to agree with Annie from TheMisstery that the ending didn’t ‘follow the rules of its genre’ which  sort of bothered me a little. The last chapter was a surprise but ended abruptly which left me frustrated hence this rating. What I loved about it was that feel of the book – the first chapter and Pinborough’s story-telling skills pull you in and you just read on. I loved the characters because they were brilliant and had depth to them. I must say that Adele was the most fascinating because she’s nothing like ordinary people and a person can’t relate to her but with Louise it’s a different story because she’s relatable. The plot didn’t feel over-done (except that part)  and I found it really easy to read through (even tho Louise annoyed me at times). The way Pinborough created this mystery in both Adele and David and their marriage made me want to dig deeper and find out their secrets along with Louise. There’s no doubt that Pinborough is a great story-teller.

I don’t want to spoil this book by saying anything further except that this is a great book which lovers of psychological thrillers (with a little genre bending) and mystery should definitely check out!

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

Add ‘Behind Her Eyes‘ to your TBR:  goodreads-logo-square


457300Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist.

Find her on:  Website,  Twitter,  Instagram,  GoodReads


[TAG] Anonymous Bookaholics tag


Even though we only post book reviews on here it would be fun to do a book tag so thank you to Megan (That Book Lady Blog) for tagging us.


What do you like about new books?

Definitely the smell of them and the feel in your hands. Plus they’re shiny!

How often do you buy new books?

I used to buy books every month now I’ve limited myself to maybe 1-3 every 2 months.

Bookstore or online shopping – Which do you prefer?

It depends on whether I want the book immediately or maybe the price is cheaper online..

Do you have a favourite bookshop?

Not particularly. I love BookDepository though.

Do you pre-order books?

When I’m really really excited for them (e.g. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara)

Do you have a monthly book-buying limit?

Answer is listed in a question above.

How big is your wish list? 

Less than a 100 books thank god! It’s still big though.

Which three books from your wish list do you wish you owned right now?



What do you like about new books?

I might get book-shamed for this, but knowing I’m about to break in a new paperback is what I like most.

How often do you buy new books?

I go to the bookstore at least once a week. And I don’t leave a bookstore without buying something.

Bookstore or online shopping – Which do you prefer?


Do you have a favourite bookshop?

The independent bookstore around the corner from my house has a café inside and is my favorite spot in the city.

Do you pre-order books?

Not so much anymore, but if it’s a book I’ve been waiting for, yes.

Do you have a monthly book-buying limit?

Nope. I have no self control.

How big is your wish list? 

It’s as long as there are books in the world.

Which three books from your wish list do you wish you owned right now?


WE TAG: Since we don’t want to pressure people, anyone can tag themselves.

[REVIEW + Q&A with the author] Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

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I decided to request this book from Edelweiss because it looked very appealing + had an interesting storyline and to my great luck I got approved! First the Final Girls by Riley Sager and now this one!

This debut from Daniel Cole follows not just one character but quite a few – even though Detective William Fawkes is at the center of the book – interesting characters. Detective William Oliver Layton-Fawkes called ‘The Wolf’ has just got back to his position as a detective after being suspended for four years because of an incident that happened at the trial of ‘The Cremation Killer’. This trial along with the serial killer Naguib Khalid was the most shocking media covered trial in London. The reason behind William’s suspension was his unprofessional outburst in court. Along with his career went his personal life, his marriage with a gorgeous journalist Andrea and his interpersonal relationships.

William gets called to a crime scene by Detective Emily Baxter – his old friend and partner from the days when he was a detective – and when he gets to the crime scene which was situated right across his apartment he comes upon a bizzare and gory sight – unlike any he has seen before – it is six body parts attached to each other with an arm pointing to his apartment. From this point on Fawkes begins to suspect that this has something to do with him. His ex-wife Andrea receives an anonymous list of names  – a hit list – that contains dates of the victims’ doom days but what strikes her as odd is that the last person on the list is her ex-husband Detective William Fawkes.  She makes sure that Fawkes gets the list and the detectives Emily Baxter and her trainee partner Alex Edmunds start working on figuring out who the killer is and why these murders are happening. This is the moment when Fawkes realises that his past might be what’s pushing the ‘Ragdoll’ killer to commit these murders.

First of all I must say that Cole’s writing and switching between narratives is what I look for in books. I always try and figure out what is going on in the characters’ head and this book gives a great insight into that. Once you start reading it you just can’t stop. William Fawkes was a very well crafted character along with his backstory which played a huge part in the novel. Cole gives a voice to many other characters (e.g. Andrea – Williams’ ex-wife was a refreshing character because we got to see the things from the perspective of the media and not just the POV of the police)  in the book which I highly appreciate.  This book made me laugh with characters’ funny comments and it made me scared for the victims. The executions of the victims were very interesting because of the ways the author did them. The ending could’ve been done better but I guess it needed to end that way because without it there wouldn’t be a sequel.  Cole has a way of pulling the reader into the story and not letting go of them until the very end. There will be two more novels in the future which I am very much looking forward to read! The TV series based on this novel is in the works and I hope that they stay true to the book and don’t ruin it.

Ragdoll’ is an engaging, funny, filled with plot twists kind of a thriller which everyone can enjoy.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins: Ecco and Daniel Cole for granting me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

Add ‘Ragdoll’ to your TBR:   goodreads-logo-square

*Purchase ‘Ragdoll‘ by clicking here: amazoncom-inc-logo

*Purchase ‘Ragdoll‘ with free worldwide shipping: the_book_depository-svg

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.


At 33 years old, Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing.

He has received a three-book publishing and television deal for his debut crime series which publishers and producers describe as “pulse-racing” and “exceptional”.

Daniel currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing book two in the Nathan Wolfe series instead.

Ragdoll is his first novel.

Find him on:  Website (publisher),  Twitter,  GoodReads

 Click below to read my interview with the author.

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