Adult Fiction, Currently Reading, New Releases

6 Books I Want to Read this Summer

When it comes to summer reads, I tend to reach for character driven stories or fast-paced thrillers. Now that it is officially summer (hello to the not-so-welcomed humid 90 degree days!) I wanted to share a couple of the books I am hoping to read over the next few months.

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

A dazzling, multi-generational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built. Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson


Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen

In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the happiest of occasions, but Walter and Bennie have a secret. A new community has moved to Rundle Junction, threatening the social order and forcing Bennie and Walter to confront uncomfortable truths about the lengths they would go to maintain harmony.

We Went to the Woods by Caite Dolan-Leach

Certain that society is on the verge of economic and environmental collapse, five disillusioned twenty-somethings make a bold decision: They gather in upstate New York to transform an abandoned farm, once the site of a turn-of-the-century socialist commune, into an idyllic self-sustaining compound called the Homestead. Initially exhilarated by restoring the rustic dwellings, planting a garden, and learning the secrets of fermentation, the group is soon divided by slights, intense romantic and sexual relationships, jealousies, and suspicions. And as winter settles in, their experiment begins to feel not only misguided, but deeply isolating and dangerous.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

What are you reading this summer?

So there you have it, the few books I’m hoping to pick up this summer! What is everyone else planning on picking up? If you’ve read one of the books listed above, please share your thoughts!

4 Star Reads, Book Reviews, Non Fiction

Book Review: Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

deadmountain
★ ★ ★ ★

One of my reading intentions this year was to read more nonfiction, and this was an excellent choice for my first read of 2019. Dead Mountain is riveting and informative nonfiction through the perspective of documentary filmmaker and author, Donnie Eichar, who sets out to piece together the mystery that is the Dyatlov Pass incident— the unsolved deaths surrounding the nine hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in Soviet Union (now Russia) between February 1st and 2nd in 1959. After coming across the story of the Dyatlov Pass incident, Eichar became fascinated with discovering the truth about what happened to the nine hikers on that fatal trip. The book uses the hiker’s personal journals and photography, government records, interviews with living relatives, and investigator notes to retrace the hikers’ story.

The book is essentially a reversed engineered investigation—told through three different timelines and alternates throughout until focalizing at the end: opening with the hikers in 1959 as they begin their excursion to obtain a Grade III in hiking, the reporting of the hikers missing and the investigation that soon begins, and following Eichar as he investigates the mystery by retracing the hikers’ route for any missed clues to that un-witnessed night.

As someone who doesn’t read much nonfiction and finds it sometimes hard to hold my interest, Eichar does a great job at outlining the day-to-day lives of the hikers and the investigating process that took place, writing it in a way that was not dry or overwhelming with unnecessary information for the reader. What happened to the hikers is still unknown, but Eichar tries to discover a logical theory to what actually took place during that night and eliminate those theories that have stirred up throughout the years. One of his concerns through the entire process of crafting this book was humanizing the hikers who lost their lives and the tragic story, he does it in a way that is always respectful to all those involved.

Dead Mountain is about a very odd tragedy, but Eichar did an excellent job at providing logical, science-based explanations and theory to what could have happened to the hikers, and he does so in a way that was compelling and informative for those curious about the Dyatlov Pass incident.

Synopsis 

In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. This gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers’ own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author’s retracing of the hikers’ fateful journey in the Russian winter. A fascinating portrait of the young hikers in the Soviet era, and a skillful interweaving of the hikers narrative, the investigators’ efforts, and the author’s investigations, here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Chronicle Books LLC

Goodreads | Amazon

Recommendations

Fall Reading Recommendations

It’s that time of year again with crisp air, changing leaves that crunch beneath your feet, hot cider, pumpkin patches, and lazy Sundays spent reading. This is my favorite time of year, not only because it’s Halloween season—are you the type of person that believes Halloween starts September first? I am, I admit—but because it’s the perfect time of year to cozy up underneath a blanket with the window open for that crisp fall breeze, a favorite hot beverage and a book in hand. Whether you are looking for a spooky story to get you in the mood for Halloween, a lighthearted romance, a heartwrenching coming-of-age set in 1970’s Alaska wilderness, an atmospheric mystery, or want to reread a childhood classic, here are my fall reading recommendations!

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The book that you will clear your weekend plans for, The Great Alone is a coming-of-age set in 1974 Alaska with a family that is in crisis and the ultimate test of survival. A family moves to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in what seems like an answer to their prayers. Until winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, when the family begins to fracture and Leni and her mother learn they are on their own, there is no one to save them in the wild but themselves.

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The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey

Blind River is a town you would not want to be caught in but makes for the ideal atmospheric thriller that everyone should be reading this fall. Gale Massey takes you to a small town in America where we focus on the Elders family—Jamie Elders is nineteen-years-old, trying to escape from the small town of Parsons, New York and away from her family’s reputation after her mother’s conviction. One choice leads to her landing in a large debt to her uncle, Loyal, which continues to unravel and put her in even more danger after he demands she clean up a mess one night—disposing of a dead man and covering up his connection to the town’s powerful judge. Read my full review here.

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English Animals by Laura Kaye

A domestic drama set in the English countryside that gives a fresh perspective on art, belonging, temptation and sex, physical and emotional violence, and cultural differences. Mirka is a Slovakian woman who believes she has accepted a job as an au pair for Sophie and Richard, but upon arriving learns that she will be Richard’s taxidermy assistant while also helping Sophie run their many business ventures as their estate is used as a B&B, wedding venue, and gathering spot for shooting parties. Read my full review here.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter was a series that I’ve wanted to read since I was a child and finally started last year. It’s that childhood classic that’s a great choice to read to welcome this chilly weather. Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

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Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties is a riveting 8-story collection that is a gritty, provocative debut. It’s a fusion of magical realism, horror, supernatural and fantasy that focuses on women’s lives and their bodies. A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. Read my full review here.

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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

A relatively short novel — only 225 pages — Six Stories is packed with a mighty punch; an original atmospheric story told in a series of six interviews by investigative journalist Scott King, as he attempts to discover the truth behind Tom Jeffries mysterious death at Scarclaw Fell twenty-years ago. Read my full review here.

 

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Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

That swoony, lighthearted read you’ll want to read this fall. I read this years ago, but it’s one I always want to read again during the cooler months because it’s that well-crafted romance that leaves you lovestruck. A realistic fiction filled with life challenges and fond characters—Always a planner, Grace feels prepared for most eventualities. Until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up. Fresh in town from the Poconos, Tyler has warm eyes, a country drawl, and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes devastating songs. About her.

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There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

An unsettling short story collection with a creepy atmosphere and morbid themes throughout the nineteen stories that were both dark and otherworldly. It’s a quick read to get into the Halloween mood and a great pick for all the readathons happening this coming October! Vanishings and apparitions, nightmares and twists of fate, mysterious ailments and supernatural interventions haunt these stories.

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Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

A touching, atmospheric read that you will become invested in, and rooting for Ren to find out what happened to his sister and her secrets. There is an eerie otherworldly feeling that surrounds the town of Akakawa with its peculiar characters that makes it a great choice for an unsettling read this time of year—it’s far more than an eerie mystery, with complex characters and plot. Clarissa Goenawan writes brilliantly, and Rainbirds is one book that I will never forget. Read my full review here.

 

More Books to Read This Fall

4 Star Reads, Sequential Art

Book Review: Draw Stronger by Kriota Willberg

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★ ★ ★ ★

If you are a cartoonist, visual artist, or just frequently work with your hands, you are going to want to pick up a copy of Draw Stronger by Kriota Willberg. It’s a beautifully illustrated guide and packed with all you need to know about self-care as an artist. There are a variety of tips, advice, and steps to take better care of your hands and body overall. You’ll find practical advice, like keeping in mind better posture, taking breaks, and caring for your hands with stretches and acknowledging your body when there are signals you need to rest or see a physician.

The creative process is time-consuming and a lot of the time people tend to neglect their bodies and caring for themselves because they get so absorbed into their work, but this little guide is thoughtful and informative. It’s the perfect self-care reminder to help you take better care and sustain a pain-free life while doing what you love–even us book bloggers!

Synopsis

Draw Stronger is a comprehensive self-care guide for artists interested in preventing repetitive stress injuries and sustaining a pain free life long drawing practice. Understand how injuries happen and what types of injuries commonly affect drawing professionals. Use practical first aide to help manage pain in the event of injury. Learn what types of symptoms should be diagnosed by doctor. Practice simple exercises to help correct posture and reduce fatigue and pain. Clearly illustrated, informative, and packed with wholesome corrective goodness, this graphic novel can get you started practicing simple routines that will help take care of your most important drawing instrument – your body!

Paperback, 200 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2018 by Uncivilized Books

Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Twitter

I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

3 Star Reads, Adult Fiction, Book Reviews, Non Fiction

Book Review: You Do You by Sarah Knight

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★ ★ ★

Sarah Knight, New York Times bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together, released her latest title, You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want in November of 2017. I’ve heard a lot of buzz around her two other books but never got around to reading them, so when I saw You do You I knew that it would be my first Sarah Knight read, but certainly not the last. In the same straightforward, no bullshit approach of her previous novels, Knight talks about standing up for who you are, being selfish when it comes to what you want, need and deserve, and knowing it is okay because you have to put your happiness first. As the synopsis says… “bestselling “anti-guru” Sarah Knight has three simple words for you: YOU DO YOU.”

While I am not one who reads self-help, I was intrigued by the “anti-guru” and Knight’s quirky, funny, profanity-filled writing style–it felt like a personal conversation with a friend over coffee, after confessing my much-too-often desire to please everyone else around me. At times it did feel like it was a bit of mash-up between her two previous novels because sometimes it was noted bits were spoken about in them and included in You Do You, I think it was a great introduction into her novels by getting a bit of each in this. I enjoyed this, although some advice or insight wasn’t the most effective approach or realistic in some aspects. It was an easy, quick read that I broke down to reading a little bit each week to space it out because it isn’t a long read. It was an interesting, blunt perspective on today’s society and expectations, and essentially do what works for them.

Synopsis 

You Do You is a down-to-earth, irreverent, and no-holds-barred guide to letting go of the weight of others’ expectations and doubling down on your dreams to find real, lasting happiness.
First, bestselling “anti-guru” Sarah Knight taught you to shed unwanted guilt and obligations like a year’s worth of old socks in The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck. Then, in Get Your Sh*t Together, she taught you how to set goals for the life you want and really achieve them.
Now she’s back, with her most broadly-applicable “No F*cks Given Guide” yet: helping you let go of family, social, and existential pressures to be happy with yourself and the life you really want. In the down-to-earth, warmly irreverent tone that has become her trademark, Sarah Knight helps readers find the conviction that it’s not just okay to be who you are and want what you want, but that it’s great.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 21st 2017 by Little, Brown and Company

GoodreadsAmazon | Author’s Website

I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

3 Star Reads, Adult Fiction

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

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★ ★ ★

The Woman in the Window was receiving a lot of buzz months before its release date and I was hesitant to pick it up because I was worn out on thrillers, but I’m glad I made the decision to add it to my BOTM box because it did not disappoint. A noir psychological thriller that was clever, absorbing, and unsettling, with peculiar characters, particularly the main protagonist, Anna.

Anna Fox is a shut-in and drunk, suffering from agoraphobic after an accident that you will learn more about further into the book. She spends her days drinking wine by the bottle, watching old black-and-white movies, and neighbor watching. Until one day when she witnesses something shocking in the window of her neighbors and attempts to report it to the police. Everything begins to unravel and suddenly Anna does not know what is right–is she hallucinating from mixing the wine and various pills she prescribed? Are people conspiring against her? Can she even trust herself?

This was a fast-paced read with short chapters that pack a blow, and Anna is an unreliable narrator, illustrating the murky mind of alcoholism and mental illness, so the further along I read, the more I was conflicted and uncertain of what really happened. While one of the plotlines was obvious to me from the beginning–looking back, little hints were placed throughout with one of the characters–there was one twist nearing the end that shook me. I had to put the book down and just take a breath because I didn’t believe it.

The details and world-building were so vivid that it was like watching a movie. It will definitely be one of those books that when you reach a certain point, you’ll pause to remember all the subtle clues placed throughout the previous chapters. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Woman in the Window, and I’m glad I picked it up finally! It was a cozy-yet-dark type of thriller for me, and I devoured it in two days because it was so well-written.

Synopsis 

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Hardcover, 427 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 by William Morrow

GoodreadsAmazon| Author’s Twitter

Currently Reading, New Releases, Non Fiction, Sequential Art

Currently Reading — Weekend Edition

The weekend is finally here and I wanted to share a little peek into what I plan on reading. My first semester of 2018 started and it was a week that went by fairly quickly despite a lot of assignments, but I can’t wait to sit down with a cup of tea and read on Saturday morning.

In my last “Currently Reading” post, I talked about the two books I was beginning 2018 reading, but I only ended up reading one.  While I returned The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller to the library, it is still on my TBR list and I do plan on reading it sometime this year. I did read and thoroughly enjoyed The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill, giving it 4/5 stars–you can read my review here, if you missed it.

Sarah Knight, New York Times bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together, released her latest title, You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want in November of 2017. I’ve heard a lot of buzz around her two other books but never got around to reading them, so when I saw You do You I knew that it would be my first Sarah Knight read, but certainly not the last. In the same straightforward, no bullshit approach of her previous novels, Knight talks about standing up for who you are, being selfish when it comes to what you want, need and deserve, and knowing it is okay because you have to put your happiness first.

As the synopsis says… bestselling “anti-guru” Sarah Knight has three simple words for you:

YOU DO YOU.

I requested a copy from Little Brown, unsure if I would receive it, but almost 2 weeks later the UPS man delivered the package to my doorstep, in which I screamed in delight when I opened it right there to see that minimalist, pop-of-color cover. I am pretty sure I scared him a bit, but who can blame me? Look at it!

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Early this week I received a galley of Draw Stronger by Kriota Willberg, which you need to pick up whether you are a cartoonist, visual artist, or frequently work with your hands. It’s a little book beautifully illustrated and packed with all you need to know about self care as an artist. It’s set to be released in April 2018 by Uncivilized Books–if you have not heard much about the publisher, you should definitely check them out because they release some of the best thought-provoking graphic novels.

The galley is in black and white, but it has a sneak peek at the colored version and it is amazing! As someone does a lot of writing on the computer and by hand, I thought this is the perfect little book to have available to anyone who works a lot with their hands–you don’t have to be a visual artist to enjoy it and find helpful tips and advice out of it.

I did read a couple pages of each, so I can’t wait to be able to sit down and read them all the way through. Thank you to Little Brown and Uncivilized Books for sending me copies of You do You and Draw Stronger. As always, reviews for both will be posted on here, so don’t forget to check back!

What are you reading this weekend?

Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Most Anticipated 2018 Releases – Part One

A new year means a whole lot of upcoming releases and there are a lot of incredible books coming out in 2018. So that means it is time to add to that growing TBR pile! While I utilize Goodreads, I wanted to create a post with some of the upcoming releases in the first half of the year that I am most looking forward to reading–links to their Goodreads page included.

 

January
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
The English Wife by Lauren Willig
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

February
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

March
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

April
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Circe by Madeline Miller

May
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

June
Hydra by Matt Wesolowski
Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

July
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Notes from My Captivity by Kathy Parks
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Contagion by Erin Bowman

What 2018 releases are you looking forward to reading?

4 Star Reads, Adult Fiction

Book Review: The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

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★ ★ ★ ★

Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee for Longlist (2017), The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill is about two gifted orphans who travel around the city performing artistic routines but are separated as teenagers and sent to work as servants during the Great Depression. The story follows their lives until they finally reunite and set out to accomplish their childhood dream–the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.

I did not expect my first book of 2018 to have me feeling so conflicted, and I can only hope this isn’t the setup for the rest of the reading year. Let me just say, this is not going to be a short review like I usually write because of that. I thought this was going to be a 5-star read for me because the premise was intriguing, the praises were high, and I thought I was going to love it. This has been compared to The Night Circus, which is one of my favorite novels, but let’s be clear: it is not similar aside from the whimsical cover and magical prose with metaphors.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel was gritty and disturbing, but it was like being immersed in a modern dark whimsical fairytale. It’s very magical and the world-building created this haunting yet at times hopeful atmosphere. The story began with a lot of potential, but the slow pace made it difficult to read more than a couple chapters at a time because after about 200 pages, it was just repetitive.

Set in the backdrop of the Great Depression, this is a very bleak setting for our characters, but despite everything they go through, they remain imaginative and hold onto their childhood dreams. There is a lot going on in this book; drugs, the underground scene, gangsters, prostitution, pornography, exquisite performers, imaginative characters, evil nuns, a prodigy pianist–and that is just naming a few. There were clowns, too, but what I could not get over is the number of chapters focused on clowns–that was a section I skimmed, and not because I have an issue with clowns. but because at that point, the story was being stretched out and I just couldn’t care less about what was going on.

Some readers may be uncomfortable or find it difficult to read some of the subject matter in this because at times it was brutal. Within the first couple of chapters, there is a fair amount of child molestation, and throughout there are forms of abuse. If those are triggers for you or you just don’t want to read about that, this book may be one you don’t want to pick up. This, however, did not factor into my rating.

I went into this with an open-mind, and you should not go into this with the expectation of a happy ending because it was bittersweet–Pierrot’s fate was evident about a quarter of the way through the story, and Rose became someone that as a reader, you caught glimpses of throughout the years, but fully developed at the conclusion. O’Neill’s writing has a way of leaving you–at least in my experience–disconnected from the characters, so there is never really a connection, you don’t feel an impact with what they are going through, but the last couple of chapters leading to the conclusion wrecked me.

That aside, it was an incredible story, and no matter how many times I put it down, I always found time to continue reading it because I wanted to know the ending.  This is more of a 3.5/5 star read for me, but was so close to being 4 stars–I just think some of it could have been cut to make this not so slow-paced and underwhelming at times. I did not enjoy this as much as I expected, but I still liked it and would recommend it.

Synopsis

Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.
Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city’s underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Riverhead Books

GoodreadsAmazon | Author’s Twitter

Yearly Reading Goals

2018 Reading Goals

I wanted to talk about my goals and plans for reading this year, and I am keeping it simple with only 3 goals. Do you set reading goals or challenges each year? I have tried in the past, but the only one I’ve accomplished is reaching my Goodreads goal. So this year I am finally going to participate in a reading challenge, and it was a difficult choice to pick just one. There are so many that I wanted to strive to participate and complete all of them, but I want to be realistic with my reading this year.

Around the Year in 52 Books is the one challenge that appealed the most to me because of the various categories that will introduce me to new genres, authors, and expand what I typically read, but it’ll also be fun to find books that fit the topics each week. Below is the list for this year.

The 2018 List
1. A book with the letters A, T & Y in the title
2. A book from the first 10 books added to your To Be Read list
3. A book from the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards (link)
4. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #1 Earth (in title, cover, content, setting, author…)
5. A book about or inspired by real events
6. A book originally written in a language other than English
7. A gothic novel
8. An “own voices” book*
9. A book with a body part in the title (heart, bones, teeth, skin, blood, etc)
10. An author’s debut book (their first book to be published)
11. A literary fiction
12. A book set in Africa or South America
13. A book with a plot centered around a secret (forbidden love, spies, secret societies, etc)
14. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #2 Fire
15. A book with a unique format/writing structure
16. A narrative nonfiction
17. A book you expect to make you laugh
18. A book with a location in the title
19. A book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grandmaster author (books & authors)
20. A book rated 5 stars by at least one of your friends
21. A book written in first person perspective
22. A book you have high expectations or hope for
23. A medical or legal thriller
24. A book with a map
25. A book with an antagonist/villain point of view
26. A book with a text only cover
27. A book about surviving a hardship (war, famine, major disasters, serious illness, etc)
28. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #3 Water
29. A book with a “Clue” weapon on the cover or title (lead pipe, revolver, rope, candlestick, dagger, wrench)
30. A short book
31. A book set in a country you’d like to visit but have never been to
32. An alternate history book
33. A book connected (title, cover, content) to a word “born” in the same year as you (link)
34. A suggestion from the AtY 2018 polls, that didn’t win but was polarizing or a close-call (link)
35. A book featuring a murder
36. A book published in the last 3 years (2016, 2017, 2018) by an author you haven’t read before
37. A Women’s Prize for Fiction winner or nominee (link1link2)
38. A science book or a science fiction book
39. A book with a form of punctuation in the title
40. A book from Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list (link)
41. A book by an author with the same first and last initials
42. A book that takes place on, in, or underwater
43. A book with a title that is a whole sentence
44. A ghost story
45. A book that intimidates/ scares you
46. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #4 Air
47. A book where the main character (or author) is of a different ethnic origin, religion, or sexual identity than your own
48. A book related to one of the 7 deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth)
49. A book from one of the Goodreads Best Books of the Month lists (link)
50. A book with a warm atmosphere (centered on family, friendship, love or summer)
51. An award-winning short story or short story collection
52. A book published in 2018

My goal is to read one fiction and one nonfiction and/or underrated book each month. There are a lot of authors and books out there that don’t get enough recognition and I want to discover and talk about them–if you have any suggestions, please share! For Goodreads, I set my goal at 52 books because I don’t want to feel pressured to meet that goal–I do not want that to be my focus when it comes to reading, I want to be present and enjoy each book that I read–so 3 or 4 books a month was a reasonable decision.

Other 2018 Reading Challenges

Even though the new year has officially begun, you still have time to think about what your plans are for reading, so what are your goals? Do you plan on utilizing your local library more, discover new authors, or catching up on the backlist? Maybe even create your own reading challenge?

Let me know in the comments!

— Coleen