Cover Image: Sleepless

Sleepless

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2.5 Hearts Ok I just didn’t get it. This book was so jumbled that I had a hard time following everything. 

The story of Nadja is back and forth of what happened to her when she was convicted. Now she wants a normal quiet life so why in the world would she help a friend (or is she?) deal with the lover she killed. Why can’t she say “I can keep quiet but I am not helping you?” 

And then when they go hide even more happens. And none of it makes sense to me. I just kept thinking “Why? Why is Nadja doing this? And why am I still reading?”

Disclaimer:
I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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After loving this author’s debut novel “Dear Child“, I was eager to read her second offering. This time, I didn’t feel the love quite so much.

The story was interesting, the characters damaged, and the plot somewhat confusing. This was ultimately Nadja’s story, and what a tragic story it was. Life has always been unkind to Nadja – and the older she became, the more cruel her life panned out.

This is a novel about twisted people playing mortally serious games. About manipulation, adultery, betrayal, actions and consequences, and framing the innocent.

It is a sad truth that some people are deemed expendable, that their lives are somehow less valuable than others.

The title of this novel was very fitting. It ended with a twist that I didn’t see coming. In summation, this was a convoluted psychological thriller perhaps written for certain acquired tastes. I hope that Hausmann’s next book is the same quality as her debut.
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I gotta admit that this takes a bit of work.  Nadja, convicted of killing her mother years ago, has remade her life.  Laura accidentally kills her lover.  An unnamed person who cares for Martha is writing letters to an unknown person.  Nadja agrees, unwisely, to help Laura dispose of the body at a cabin the woods but that, as one might expect, goes badly. It wasn't clear to me at all how all of this was going to pull together (and I'm still not sure about it), which is sorta a good thing.  The characters are not appealing or likable (ok by me) bt Hausmann has written them well.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  A bit strange but worthwhile.
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Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for gifting me a physical ARC of Sleepless by Romy Hausmann in exchange for an honest review.

This book publishes on October 19, 2021.

UGHH. No one is as upset about me giving this book a 3-star rating (at best) as I am.  I absolutely loved (and I mean LOOOVED) Hausmann’s debut novel, Dear Child—so much that it’s in my top five for this year and definitely one of my favourite crime books of all time (you can read my full review of Dear Child on the Cloud Lake Literary website, https://www.cloudlakeliterary.ca/blogposts/book-review-dear-child-by-romy-hausmann).  I wanted, so much, to love this book—perhaps even more than I do Dear Child—but unfortunately that just didn’t happen.

SYNOPSIS of SLEEPLESS:

After being convicted of a crime when she was still a child, Nadja Kulka has been out of jail for a few years. She is mostly content with her simple life: a decent job and one real friend, Laura. Lately Laura has been distant, but suddenly she shows up, shaking and pale. Laura tells Nadja she killed someone. She’s afraid to tell her volatile husband, and she needs Nadja’s help to hide the evidence.

Nadja can’t refuse her only friend. The two women set out for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart, and Nadja is trapped, a pawn in a bizarre in which her troubled past could be her salvation… or her downfall.

MY THOUGHTS:

I’ll begin by saying this: I liked the overall story.  The plot was fine, there were a few surprising twists, the writing was creepy and chilling, and the entire book makes sense as a whole once you’ve finished reading it.  However, the process of getting to the end of the book is just really tiring, complicated, and unclear. 

I read a few other reviews that said that reading this book feels like someone took out all of the middle chapters, jumbled them up, and then put them back—which is the absolute perfect description for it.  The transitions between chapters were confusing, as were the transitions within the chapters themselves.  I think that Hausmann was trying to be creative with her story-telling but that it ultimately did not translate well onto paper, and definitely not well enough for the reader to fully enjoy the reading experience.  Now, this could also be a translation error in and of itself—however, I don’t read in German so I can't really tell you if it is or not..

The story also has a bunch of different threads to keep track of: there’s the past and present of Nadja and Laura; several random letters from one person to another (I thought I knew who was writing them at the beginning but I was very wrong, then I thought they were written by someone else, but I was wrong again); the story of Paul and Nelly (truly wondering if this story arc was even necessary); as well as some chapters that are told through some secondary character’s perspective.  The different threads are eventually tied together, but not in the most satisfying way. 

I just really wanted to love this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed how it started and where I thought it was going to go, but I got lost somewhere in the middle and unfortunately things didn’t start to clear up until just before the end of the book, which seems a little too late to really be able to enjoy the book.

https://rebekahreads.ca/sleepless-by-romy-hausmann/
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A very special thanks to Romy and Flatiron Books for this review copy! I completely enjoyed it!

Nadja has been out of jail for a few years now, she was convicted as a child for killing her mother. She’s a loner, has a job and one friend. That friend being Laura, from work. But Laura hasn’t been around Nadja lately and suddenly she gets a call that Laura needs her help. At what cost is it worth to help Laura, she’s confessed to killing someone, so how can she help her?

This story was so good and so well written that I didn’t have a clue how it would end. I stayed on the edge of my seat while reading, a lot of action and backstory. I definitely recommend this, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!
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This was not a great read for me.

Initially, I struggled to get into the story due to the narrative structure. We had several narrative voices, each of which was moving back and forth in time. One of the voices was unidentified. It was unclear if this voice belonged to a male, a female, an adult, a child. This constant shifting of sometimes uncertain voices made it difficult for me to follow the narrative and piece together the story.

Once I was far enough into the book to finally have a handle on what was happening, the story began to wrap things up in a way that felt very unearned. Characters who moments before had attempted to kill each other were suddenly getting along and working together, without the events or reflections of the characters giving those shifts any basis in logic. As a final touch, there was an epilogue that introduced a supernatural element to this story that previously had no speculative elements. This ending felt very out of place to me.

Overall, this novel started with a slew of questions and a narrative that was difficult to track and ended with unearned friendships and random additional elements.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and  Flatiron Books for gifting me an ARC of the sophomore book by Romy Hausmann.  This author's debut novel, Dear Child, was an absolute 5 star read for me; I'm giving this book 3.5 stars rounded up for the beautiful writing.  Thanks for including me on the blog tour for this book!

Nadja was convicted of a crime when she was just a child.  Out of jail now, she leads a quiet life with a job she likes and a new friend, Laura.  When Laura asks Nadja's help in covering up a crime, things go very wrong.  

That's enough information to hook you into this book and I loved that plot synopsis.  The writing is again wonderful and very atmospheric.  It's creepy because you see that things just aren't going to end well.  My biggest issue was just that it was confusing - the timeline switched often, there were letters being written in between chapters that didn't seem to fit in while reading, and I had issues keeping up with the characters.  Don't let that discourage you though - Romy Hausmann is such a gifted writer that I kept reading and loved the twists and turns, cat and mouse games within this book.
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I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It was confusing and seemed to be all over the place. Was that the writers intent? I imagine so. But it was sometimes hard to follow and understand what was going on and which characters did what and how they were connected. Some of the story takes place in the past, some in the present so there was that back and forth going on. Eventually, that all comes together and gave me a better understanding of the whole story. 

The story itself was good—exciting and suspenseful, it was just a little cumbersome to get to the end of it all. I loved Romy' debut novel Dear Child and was excited to see what she wrote next. Sleepless is a good second novel and I can't wait to see what comes next from this amazing author.
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Thank you to Flatiron Books, Romy Hausmann and Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Given the negative reviews I'd seen floating around, I was somewhat reluctant about starting this book. Like many others, I enjoyed Romy Hausmann's debut Dear Child, which was one of the main reasons behind my request of Sleepless. The other reason was the unusual premise of the book: two women, one a housewife and mother, the other a convicted murderer, venture into the woods to hide a dead body, where one is betrayed and an elaborate game of cat and mouse begins. 

Once I got into the novel however, I just could not figure out why everyone was having such a problem with this book. It is a dark, chilling story which is driven by its characters as much as it is by its plot. It has an intricate storyline with a slower pace and many puzzle pieces to put together. The writing is at times beautiful and haunting. The novel takes a deliberate approach and explores the choices we make and the consequences of our actions. 

Sleepless is not your traditional psychological  thriller and is a novel that probably isn't for everyone. If you don't enjoy nonlinear timelines, multiple narrators or a general sense of "I don't know what's going on," then you probably won't enjoy Sleepless. I didn't have any trouble at all with the different timelines or narrators, but I personally enjoy books that mess with your head (in this case a little) and am used to this type of novel. 

3 ½ stars rounded up to 4.
Recommended for fans of: suspense, psychological thriller, mystery, and general fiction,.
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A dynamic suspense that unravels itself chapter by chapter with a complex mix of storylines and characters.  Readers are tasked with parsing together clues that Hausmann meticulously lays out. While the intrigue makes for a compelling read, it may turn some readers off as the alternating timeline and frequent shift in storyline is unpredictable. Enjoyed the unique format and twisted premise. 


Thank you to @flatiron_books for the ARC of #Sleepless which was read and reviewed voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

#suspense #octoberreads #bookmail #bookfluence #bookblog
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Romy Hausmann's debut thriller Dear Child was originally published in Germany in 2019, and took the English speaking world by the storm in 2020. It won Publishers Weekly Top 10 Mysteries and Thrillers of Fall 2020 award and Bastle Best Books of Fall 2020 to name a few. And needless to say it was all over Instagram.

A year later...and I don't know what happened. Sleepless got significantly less glamorous reviews, and I am not entirely sure why. "Slow", "disjointed", "convoluted", "the timeline jumped erratically" are just a few negative descriptors that I have found on Goodreads.The truth (I think) is that this book is just too far removed from the style in which Dear Child was written, and is not inline with the American/British notion of what a good thriller should be in general. That is to say...it actually has too much content, it is too complex, mostly character driven, not fast paced, suspensefull or thrilling enough. In short, it is just not something that your typical thriller reader craves, and most definitely NOT something that a fan of Dear Child would expect from this particular author.  

So naturally... I enjoyed it quite a bit 😂

Honestly, guys, it's not a bad book. But you cannot expect your typical whodunnit, lots of violence, sex etc.etc. There is no "wow" factor when whodunnit is revealed like in Dear Child. This book is almost crime-and-punishment-esque. It's philosophical in its nature, not thrilling. When whodunnit is revealed it's just...sad. It is something you expected but was secretly hoping it would not be so.

The book talks a lot about the consequences of one's actions (whether premeditated or not). We meet a lot of "good" people who made poor choices in a spur-of-the-moment, who do not consider themselves "criminals", but nevertheless are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their behinds. Including throwing some other good (and innocent!) people under the bus. 

Perhaps most importantly, Sleepless introduces American reader to what it's like to be brought up in a small, steel factory town in the former Eastern Bloc, where the alcoholism and prostitution are the two "escape" routes that people typically take if they want to forget about their dreary reality if for a moment only. Where possibilities are nonexistent, and a lot of children are left to fend for themselves. This coupled with the graphic description of the reality of growing up with the absent, self absorbed, perpetually depressed mother is again, perhaps, a bit more than what your typical thriller lover is willing to sign up for. 

The passages where the author describes childrens' unconditional love of their mother, despite the "many broken promises" are particularly heart wrenching. 

In a way this book reminded me of Leila Slimani's The Perfect Nanny. Specifically due to the fact that it was also marketed towards thriller lovers, even described as the "French Gone Girl", and therefore, ended up being a disappointment to so many readers. Also a character driven novel, it simply was NOT a thriller at all. 

I did find some of the characters in Sleepless lacking. In particular, Laura. I really could not make head or tail of her personality. Was she a good person at heart? Was she evil or did she just make a lot of mistakes? Was she really truly sorry for what she had done and what she set out to do? No clue...I think both her and Gero could have used either more or less character development. Less if their purpose was just to be an accessory of sorts to move the plot along. In any case I found them both exceedingly confusing as the story moved towards the conclusion.

I do not speak German so I cannot speak for the quality of the translation, however, I will say that the original title of the book, Marta Schläft, which translates as "Marta is Sleeping" is far more fitting than "Sleepless". I am really perplexed by the editor's decision to change the title.

Thank you NetGalley, Romy Hausemann, and Flatiron Books for my advanced copy.

🌟🌟🌟.75
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I think that unfortunately this author and I do not get along. This is the second book from her that I have DNFd. It could be because this is a translated novel but the writing is just very choppy and it’s hard for me to follow what’s going on without getting bored. I wanted to give her another chance after dear child but I actually think that I disliked this one even more.
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What did I just read? Someone help me, because I have no idea.

This story isn’t so much complex as it is convoluted and disjointed. We have multiple timelines, storylines, and narrators, all out of order with no rhyme or reason. It’s like the story was written on flashcards, then shuffled and typed out. I was so freaking confused!

Sleepless was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I loved Dear Child, the author’s previous book. But this one just didn’t work for me. It all made my brain hurt.
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“The perfect victim … The perfect murderer”


Okay! I need to get this review out in the open and written, just as soon as I close the final page, lest events and images which are already jumbled in mind, become even more blurred with the passing of time!

“Sleepless” by name, “Sleepless” by nature, this gripping, slow-burning, psychological thriller, which is both plot and character driven in almost equal measure, chewed me up, messed with my mind, scrambled my brains, then spat me out! In fact I’m still not sure that I fully understood all the nuances of this intricate storyline and I’m annoyed with myself about that, as I really did concentrate hard and in solitude, as soon as I realised just how complex a read it was becoming.

Without giving away spoilers, it is quite difficult to encapsulate this heart-breaking storyline in just a few lines. However, as probably the principle protagonist, Nadja’s story is perhaps the most poignant and central to all other events. Beginning when she is still a young child, it is her home life which shapes her both physically and mentally and that is the domain of a mother, who whilst loving both Nadja and her younger brother Janek, as much and as deeply as she is able, has limited resources with which to survive. The life she adopts for herself affects her children, particularly Nadja, badly and irrevocably. The things she sees and hears, the actions her mother takes to make the children compliant and uncomplaining, are the cause of problems which shape a lifetime sentence for them both, and which can never completely disappear or be repaired.

Whilst the chapters are thankfully kept relatively short and punchy, their signposting is at times, rather confusing and a little disjointed. I was thrust from one timeline into another, transported back and forth between two different storylines and listened to several viewpoints along the way, all interspersed with a series of unsent letters which only really have relevance towards the end of the book, but which act as an ongoing and fluid, documented chain of thoughts, written by someone with a troubled and damaged mind. How author, Romy Hausmann, manged to pull all these tenuous threads and strands together, into a cohesive, tour-de-force finale, is a mind-boggling tribute to her imagination and tenacity.

This cleverly structured and well constructed storyline, is multi-layered, intensely textured, breath-takingly claustrophobic and rich in atmosphere. Romy deals confidently, yet perceptively and compassionately with Nadja’s mental health issues, as on multiple occasions they threaten to overwhelm her. However she also, with compelling penetration of insight and some gritty, head-on bravery, tackles with humanity, the issues which arise when that fragility of a badly damaged mind is threatened by unscrupulous individuals, who seek to turn Nadja’s vulnerabilities to their own advantage. The twists in the storyline are many and complex, the secret of the endgame is dangled tantalisingly close, only to be snatched away by another even more nightmarish event. With complete authority and confidence in the immersive imagery her words can evoke, Romy left me holding my breath in anticipation that this living nightmare would soon be over, although knowing that I would  have to read until that very last page, to either discover any sign of closure for Nadja, or to bring together those two convergent storylines to a redemptive conclusion.

Romy has created a deliberately diverse cast of multi-faceted, high tension, disturbingly manipulative and  high maintenance characters, who all demand that their individual voices are heard loudly and clearly during the telling of their story. The end result is often a maelstrom of ‘noise’, which becomes incessant and annoying, as you attempt to filter truth from lies, guilty from innocent and friend from foe, making them all potentially not investable, unengaging  and untrustworthy witnesses. Emotionally starved, complex and demanding, selfish and single-minded, none of them are particularly genuine or believable. Gero, whose machinations have been the most remorseless and calculating and who has so much to lose materialistically, is surprisingly, the one who seeks possible redemption and atonement for his wrongdoings. However it is Nadja herself who has everything to lose, including life itself, if she is pushed beyond her limits of endurance.

Although the finished product was not quite as seamless as I might have liked, I have nonetheless awarded the full 5 stars for the quality and depth of the writing, alongside a chill and fear factor packed storyline. I have often remarked that what makes reading such a pleasure for me, is the unique and individual journey each book takes me on. This is definitely one you should read for yourself, to discover where your journey takes you!
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No, I don't hate you. I feel sorry for you; I always did. For "guilt" is just another synonym for "death"--a crueller, more agonizing death.

At the heart of this twisty, turny tale are two women. We meet Naja very early on and it is clear that she is executing a plan for someone else. Is it Laura? Who is writing the letters we read in between chapters and who is the intended recipient. Patience, dear reader. All will be revealed in Romy Hausmann's timing. Throughout we see the main characters dealing with sacrifice and loyalty along with the guilt an death mentioned in the above quote. Hausmann has a knack for telling a dark tale that draws in the reader like moth to a flame. I thought this one stumbled a bit and was not quite as compelling as Dear Child, but still one I would recommend for thrills and chills.

Thank you to Flatiron Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is really hard for me to rate. The beginning was fantastic, sad, and very original. But then it became extremely disjointed and I didn’t understand how anything connected to anything else for a REALLY long time. And I read this at bedtime, so every time I picked it up, it was really hard for me to remember the characters and what happened each night. 

I thought the writing was incredible and the story lines were insane! It was just incredibly difficult to follow for about half the book. Once the story is connected, that’s when things get the most interesting. 

It finally did come together, and that was great! I liked how all the different people and stories were connected, but it was a bit anti-climatic even though the plot is crazy. It just kind of falls flat in the end. 

My advice is this: if you read this book, do not take breaks until you are at least 30% in. 😂

I will post this to Instagram on my blog tour date: Sept. 30.
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Thank you Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for this advance listener copy in exchange for my honest review.

I despised this book. It was confusing and convoluted throughout and I ended up DNFing after about 35%. I just couldn't figure out what was going on and it was really confusing.

This story is told through alternating viewpoints and different timelines and there are clearly two distinct stories being told here, but I did not know how they tied together and by the time I gave up I didn't even care. The characters were annoying and it didn't feel realistic at all.

The premise was amazing. Two friends trying to hide a body when one betrays the other and a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues. It should have been one that hooked you instantly, but it wasn't. 

Overall, confusing and boring. One star. Very disappointing.

As for the audio, the female narration was average but the male narrator was horrible. Not a great audiobook version.
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First, thank you to the publishers at Flatiron Books and Netgalley for this e-ARC of Sleepless.

I had really high hopes for this book, and while I wasn’t entirely let down, this is definitely a difficult book to immerse yourself in.

Nadja works at a high scale lawyer’s firm in Berlin. One afternoon, the wife of her boss comes in frazzled and shaken up. Nadja, desperate to get back on Laura’s good side after an incident involving Laura’s daughter, convinces her to tell her what’s going on. Laura has just killed a man, and she needs Nadja’s help in disposing the body. What seems like a simple request turns into so much more. Nadja is hiding her own troubled past, and now everything is threatening to come to light.

This story was beyond confusing. There are so many timelines and voices, and at first it seems like a random hodgepodge that doesn’t have any point at all. As the story unfolds, the different voices slowly and painfully begin to make sense. I really enjoyed the plot twist, but reaching it was tough for me. I was constantly putting this down and picking it back up because it began to feel so tedious. This is a solid 3.5 stars for me. 

Sleepless releases October 5th!
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Adored this thriller. It kept me, well, SLEEPLESS, as I couldn't put it down. Full of crime, bad deeds, questionable morals... and things that keep us up at night. If you even have an ounce of interest in thrillers, pick this up immediately. It will grip you within the first chapter, and soon you too will be SLEEPLESS.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy.  

I tried…..really tried to enjoy this book. But I really hate it. I was so confused. There was too much jumping around from time to time to different characters. If left me thinking, what did I read? or what is going on?
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