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How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky

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3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,041 ratings  ·  257 reviews
Lydia Netzer, the award-winning author of Shine Shine Shine, weaves a mind-bending, heart-shattering love story that asks, “Can true love exist if it’s been planned from birth?”

Like a jewel shimmering in a Midwest skyline, the Toledo Institute of Astronomy is the nation's premier center of astronomical discovery and a beacon of scientific learning for astronomers far and w
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Hardcover, 339 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by St. Martin's Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Diane S.
3.5 Do you believe in the concept of soul mates? That they can be engineered? Can two people be fated to meet? George and Irene are delightful characters, their are many amusing passages and throw in a few other outlandish characters and a strange backstory and you have the making of a entertaining read. Along with some astronomy, gods and goddesses and a video game, with some astrology and aware dreaming thrown in for good measzure. Netzer sure has a great imagination, creates some wonderfully ...more
Ron Charles
Two years ago, Lydia Netzer’s career blasted off with a first novel called “Shine Shine Shine” that stretched from housewives in Virginia to robots on the moon. The story spliced together marriage, motherhood and space travel to breed a hybrid of romantic comedy and scientific reverie.

With her second novel, “How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky,” Netzer remixes those ingredients and aims for the stars once again. St. Martin’s is printing 100,000 copies. And why not? An author’s reach should exc
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Rebecca Foster
(3.5) The peculiar title is what first interested me, but the synopsis sounded even better. George and Irene, both 29, work at the Toledo Institute of Astronomy, where George looks to the stars for proof of the existence of God, and Irene makes black holes. It seems they are fated to be together – or is it all their mothers’ manipulation? Call it a cross between The Big Bang Theory and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, blending science and romance into a quirky love story. The visions and luc ...more
Melinda
Netzer's style is out of the box for me. Her version of 'magical realism' merging with eccentricity isn't quite to my tastes or standard. However, her premise is unique and her narratives always reach a level of normalcy towards the end which I find somewhat redeeming. Shine, Shine, Shine wasn't a show stopper for me, I'm sure many will disagree. I applaud her renegade style and her determination to see her vision through.

I am a science buff, this addition to the narrative was welcomed. Irene an
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Rachel Watkins
Here she goes again. Lydia Netzer has written another stellar, sweeping love story that isn't like any you've ever read. This book is a mystery; it's a magical conglomeration of astronomy & astrology, super colliders and reading tea leaves. HOW TO TELL TOLEDO FROM THE NIGHT SKY is about the most bizarre arranged marriage you've ever heard of along with a tragic unrequited love story. Like her characters Irene and George, Lydia Netzer is a dreamer. I'm so very thankful.
Danielle Prielipp
Brilliant! Nerd-romance at its finest...and I was reading the "preliminary passes" version because I just couldn't wait for the final edits.
Taryn Pierson
Irene and George were literally born for each other. Their mothers, Bernice and Sally, best friends since childhood, concocted a cockamamie plan to have babies at the same time and raise them in parallel ways that would make them seem fated once they finally met as adults. Wham—their children would fall in love with each other, Bernice and Sally could live out their twilight years as in-laws, and their children would be deliriously happy and fulfilled by their bizarrely arranged marriage.

Of cou
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Nancy McFarlane
A quirky, geeky, wonderful feel good love story, unlike anything you have ever read. It has poetry, black holes, dreams, astronomy, super- colliders, psychics, destiny, unrequited love and the strangest pre-arranged marriage you will ever see. It goes from weird to serious; from funny to sad but in the end is an honest and emotional look at the nature of true love.
Hannah
At the intersection of love and science, gods and mathematics, fortune tellers and proton colliders lives this utterly charming and quirky book.

George and Irene are both scientists at the University of Toledo, and when they meet it's love at first sight. Or is it? What George and Irene don't know is that 28 years ago their mothers, childhood best friends, engineered their babies lives so that they would be twin souls- separated in childhood but destined to love each other whenever they meet agai
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Shannon
George Dermont knows who he’s looking for, but just can’t find her. She needs to be an astronomer with brown hair who also happens to be a dreamer. When he collides with Irene, a perfect match for his description, the pair hits it off without realizing the work that went into their meeting. Friends since childhood, their mothers raised them to be soulmates and set them on a path toward finding one other, unsure of the course that would follow.

Lydia Netzer’s writes like no one else. How to Tell T
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Tamsen
Someone else wrote this in her review, and it was dead-on: "Within the first few chapters, I was drawn into this story - the language and style of writing, the characters, the plot. I thought, "This resonates; I am really going to love this.""

Of course, the follow-up to this is but....

Something miserably failed for me. I'm not sure if it was the wide variety of characters - which I did like individually. Collectively, they were a little too out there to be believed (except Belion - that dude ro
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Kate
I've just been striking out on all the literary-fiction-with-astrophysics books. This book had everything I should have loved, and yet...it had these tantalizing fragments of greatness that never lasted for more than a few sentences.

It wasn't enough of anything. It tried to incorporate far too many ideas- magical realism, science, sex, romance, inter-generational conflict, lesbians, child abuse, astrology, physics, dreams, alcoholism, video games, quirky dialog, suicide, poetical turns of phras
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Chaitra
I hated the writing with a passion. It's a nonsensical plot as well - I couldn't believe I was hoping for Shine Shine Shine's Sunny and her wig to come and rescue me from the precious geniuses of this book. It's my fault for having expected a bit more than what was delivered. But as much as I am a fan of magical realism, this whimsy was a bit too - I don't know, childish? - to swallow. For not a single moment could I take the plight of these protagonists seriously. Maybe that's the point. But I ...more
Janet
While I liked the idea of this book, and the story was pretty good, there were too many elements that were like trudging through wet cement to read. Floating faeries and demi gods, lucid dreams, crystal balls and black holes. It just got to be too much. I should create a category for books I wished I had abandoned. This would be a good candidate.
Rhiannon Johnson
I didn't get around to reading Netzer's debut, Shine Shine Shine, despite several rave reviews from some of my most trusted book bloggers. I was not going to miss out this time around. (I read her novella, Everybody's Baby, and really liked it.) How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is like nothing I've read before. Netzer is able to provide two characters with opposite thoughts when they look skyward and although the characters represent science versus God, she doesn't distance the reader with ...more
Suzze Tiernan
A romance for nerds, involving black holes and astrology, super-colliders and binary code. This booked seemed to go from quirky to deeply emotional in a heartbeat. Not for everyone, but a great read nonetheless.
Jessica
What a weird book. If you liked Shine, Shine, Shine, I have no doubt you will also like this one. But it was weird, and I need to think about it for a few days before writing any kind of real review.
Kathy
I LOVED this book. It was weird, but in a good way. It kept my interest, touched my heart and gave my brain a workout.
Melina O.
I feel like lately I've just been picking the wrong books to read. This book was just not all there for me...

It was a love story but tried to be more than that. The main characters fall in love because of some sort of convoluted predetermined plan by their mothers. The one character's mother is a lesbian drunk who'll do anything for her friend. The other character's mother is sort of like a helicopter parent, constantly deciding what is right/wrong for her child. Within the story, there are some
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Amy Warrick
There are two books in HTTTFTNS... one, a wacky love story involving two astronomers, which I really liked - the style and nutty dialogue appealed to me. The other book is the lovers' back story, which is a mean-spirited tale of their respective mothers' friendship gone horribly wrong.
Overall I was able to enjoy the book and almost have it for stars, for the frothy nice romance, but when I flipped through looking for a particularly amusing quote, I got sucked back in to the mothers' story and
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Katie K
It was just... so strange. I'm not really into reading books that are realistic fiction with a twist of fantasy or spirituality or... whatever. It makes me lose all hope in the story, but it definitely has an interesting plot line that makes you want to read till the end. I wanted to know the full story behind George and Irene's parents and how they came to understand the meaning of true love. So I give points to that, but the characters were just not my cup of tea. All the characters were reall ...more
Whitepixels
"A (gushing of clichéd praise words) love story that combines math, magic, and science."

Oh well, that piqued my curiosity. Imagine some astro-physicists navigating the storms of academic life, doing high level scientific research, going to conferences, moving the world forward (sort of a fiction version of Villani's Théorème Vivant)... and falling in love.

What I got instead was some pseudo-new-age mess, about a woman who can create black holes that emit purple light, and a man who can see Hellen
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Hilary
George and Irene are two scientists who feel an instant romantic connection, but later question whether that connection is genuine. The storyline alternates between present day and the 1970s-80s, where the reader also spends some time with George and Irene's mothers.

I found this story to be very odd, and unlike pretty much any other book I have read. Because of the weirdness, I didn't really enjoy it. There were many odd characters, and lots of strange things took place. For example, a narwhal
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Lisa DellAquila
I'll start with a bit of honesty-- I preferred Lydia Netzer's first novel, Shine Shine Shine, to her second, How To Tell Toldeo From the Night Sky. I am a huge fan of Shine Shine Shine, and Toledo just seemed a bit messier, wackier, and not quite as tight. But that's OK. I still thoroughly enjoyed this book, with its mediation on what makes a soulmate. Even the wackiness, though sometime pointless, is charming. There is just something about Netzer's sensibility that is just a bit bonkers, and I ...more
Marlene
Originally published at The Book Pushers

This is a very weird book. Weird in a good way, but still weird. On the other hand, I usually like weird.

I picked up How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky because, well, Toledo. I’m not just from Ohio, but Toledo is a place I visited fairly often in my teens. Which were also the years when John Denver’s song, “Saturday Night in Toledo Ohio (is like being nowhere at all)” was pretty popular (at least in Ohio).

So while I recognized the real places and landma
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Jess (Gone with the Words)
Read this review on my blog! --> How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is one of the most quirky, wonderful books I’ve read. The magical realism story mixes beautiful writing with fun loving characters who you’ll definitely root for. Also, science! Never thought I’d find science that interesting, but Lydia Netzer makes it so.

Imagine being planned, created, then bred for another person. George and Irene were created for one another, but thei
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Ruthie
This was a free ARC copy-no review expected.

New author for me, now very interested to read her previous novel Shine Shine Shine as it seems well reviewed. This was a very quirky read. We follow two astronomers as they meet and possibly fall in love. It seems there was a plan hatched long ago to put all of this in motion. Like all plans, things went awry. We find out how this plan came to be and how it broke apart.

Aside from the love story we read about super colliders, ancient gods, online gam
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Dawn
Within the first few chapters, I was drawn into this story - the language and style of writing, the characters, the plot. I thought, "This resonates; I am really going to love this."

But as the story progressed, while I liked it, I didn't love it throughout the rest of the book as much as I did at the very beginning. The ending has some of the magic the beginning offered, and I remembered what had initially drawn me into the story. But I didn't feel the magic, the total immersion, throughout the
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Priscille Sibley
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is Netzer's brilliant second novel. Like her first quirky book, Shine Shine Shine, Toledo will take the reader into a world that is just a little off from reality, with characters driven by real life passions and short comings. It is at times heartbreakingly sad and laugh out loud funny. Toledo will make the reader consider the absurd right along with the profound. This is the talent that Lydia Netzer displays in her world of science and art. It is her abili ...more
Joanna
I loved the quirky premise and the weird mélange of physics and astrology and mythology (the fact that there exists a book complete with black holes and lucid dreams and super colliders and tea leaf readings and goddesses that appear out of the blue is pretty rad). But! While the concept is certainly appealing, the execution just doesn’t work. This book is uneven and all over the place: too many threads to follow (some of which lead nowhere), cringe-worthy dialogue, unbelievable characters. And ...more
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Lydia Netzer lives in Virginia with her two children and husband.

Her first novel, Shine Shine Shine, was published by St. Martin's Press. It's an IndieNext Pick, a SIBA Okra Pick, a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize, Amazon's Spotlight Book in Best Books of July 2012, a People's Pick in People Magazine, and a NYT Notable Book.

Her new novel, How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, will be publi
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More about Lydia Netzer...
Shine Shine Shine Everybody's Baby: A Novella Todas las constelaciones del amor (Éxitos literarios)

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“Who cares if it's dangerous? Who wants to be the person who doesn't touch two bells together to make a sound, who doesn't hit a baseball with a bat, doesn't grind and orange against a knife. In life, there is only collision to keep us from dissolution, and there is only love to keep us from death. In this bumping into that, there is salvation and sacrament, an end to the endless falling, a wall between us and oblivion.” 1 likes
“Sometimes you just have to keep away from the things that are trying to kill you, even if they're the same thing that gave birth to you. Sometimes those two things are the same, and their name is mother.” 1 likes
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