Monthly Wrap-Ups

2018 Year in Review

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2018 was a really different type of reading year for me. Prior to this year, my reading experiences have mostly been a solitary affair. I have always been a big reader, but other than college, I never really shared my thoughts or opinions on what I read. At least, not beyond my own reading journal. I am so glad that this year I decided to break out of my comfort zone and start blogging. It has really meant a lot to me to have this small space online and to be able to connect with all of you amazing and thoughtful readers and writers. I love hearing your opinions and seeing what you are reading. I can’t wait to see where your reading adventures take you in 2019!

img_3068In reviewing my 2018 reading, my choices were all over the place. From Fantasy to Mystery, Romance and Historical Fiction, I read a little bit of everything. I read a ton of YA Fantasy this year. Besides reading Harry Potter as a teenager, this is the first time I have read so much fantasy. My daughter has been really into reading the last few years and this is her favorite genre. So, I really wanted to share those books with her. It was really fun reading The Throne of Glass, The Shadow and Bone, and The Infernal Devices series with her. My personal favorite in this genre was The Arc of the Scythe (Scythe and Thunderhead) by Neal Shusterman. My Daughter and I also visited the YA’ll West Festival together this year which was an amazing experience. The level of commitment that YA fans have is staggering!

I also read a lot of Literary/Historical Fiction this year: The Immortalists, Alias Grace, The Witches of New York, The Silence of the Girls, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies. My Mystery selections also went really well this year: Lethal White, The Last Time I Lied, and Final Girls. Riley Sager is one of my new favorite mystery authors. As far as romance goes, I read Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and London Belongs to Me. Roomies being my favorite romance of the year.

Well, without further ado, here are my top five reads of 2018: (click on the titles to read my full review for each)

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:

This was hands down, my favorite book of the year. This book is a thought-provoking, insightful, heartwarming, and bittersweet story of one man, Cyril Avery. As a baby, Cyril is put up for adoption by Catherine Goggin, a young girl who is kicked out of her small parish, country town in Ireland for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Cyril is taken in by a wealthy couple, who have very little time for him and barely notice his existence. He discovers at an early age that he is gay and his relationship with his best friend, Julian Woodbead, proves to be a complicated one. Over the course of the novel, while in the midst of trying to understand his sexuality, and also find real love, Cyril has to navigate the hypocrisy of Irish society at this time (late 1940s-1980s). In his search for identity and meaning, Cyril’s life, just like all of our lives, is filled with moments of blissful happiness and moments of sorrow and loss. However, there are so many moments in this book that come full circle that it leaves you with a feeling of rightness, despite the heartbreak that you witness. The title couldn’t be more perfect. We all carry around burdens, pain, loss, and injustice that become etched on our hearts. These are our “furies,” and as heartbreaking as they may be, they are also part of what makes this life so beautiful.

 

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The Silence of the Girls – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:

Barker does something pretty brilliant in this book- she manages to simultaneously celebrate The Iliad (the original source of this story) and challenge it. Her challenge comes in the form of perspective because her story brings to light the thoughts/feelings/struggles/triumphs of the women in this story- who both A) played a crucial role in the politics and the emotion of the story, and B) whose perspectives were woefully left out of the original. However, her book also celebrates the Iliad. She gives you a sense of the majesty of this story and the complexity of its heroes. I honestly can’t say enough about how much I loved this book- it was a breath of fresh air, it was moving, emotional, honest, and beautifully written. If you’re a fan of Greek Mythology/retellings, you should definitely check this out.

img_2958-1Book of Dust– by Philip Pullman – Fantasy:

Philip Pullman is a master craftsman of the slow spun tale. His rich, building, lyrical style is so comforting that it draws you into a parallel universe. The protagonist, Malcolm, is such as smart and likable boy that you can’t help root for him as he gets caught up in this world of political intrigue, scholarship, and magic. If you are a fan of Narnia or Harry Potter, you would definitely enjoy this.

 

3d2832c7-d396-4ed9-9eec-26ae1753cab5Thunderhead– YA Fantasy:

I really loved Scythe, but Thunderhead takes the loose threads from book #1 and spins them into a whole new world of intrigue, danger, and suspense, with some really cool philosophical questions underlining the whole plot. While book #1 focuses on the Scythedom and Rowan and Citra’s place within it, book #2 continues this journey, but with more connection to the Thunderhead- the vast, all-knowing, God-like “server,” that monitors the world. Instead of being privy to the journals of the Scythes, we now get the journals/thoughts of the Thunderhead. The actions of the Scythes and Rowan, woven together with the thoughts of the all-seeing Thunderhead, created a brilliant contrast. If you’re a fan of YA dystopian, do yourself a big favor and read this series. The next book in the series, Toll, comes out in 2019.

 

0d838b18-8cfb-4c17-ad8c-2407b575136cLethal White– Detective/Mystery:

The same attention to detail and suspense that Rowling gives us in HP, works so well in her detective series. Every tiny detail is crafted to come together at the perfect moment, and suddenly, all of the pieces fit together and it is so satisfying. I have loved every Cormoran Strike novel so far, Cuckoo’s Calling being my favorite, but Lethal White was so much more intricate than the other 3 novels. Unlike all of the other Strike novels, we are not dealing with one crime in Lethal White. There is policial corruption, blackmail, and a repressed memory that, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure is real). The length was completely welcome for me. I wanted to stay with Strike and Robin as long as I could and continue to take in all of the minute details of the case as they unfolded. I would have welcomed another 500 pages if it meant staying with these two a little longer.

Overall, a great year in books for me. Thank you all for being here and sharing with me. Stay tuned for my 2019 reading goals/TBR coming up in a day or so. Happy New Year, everyone! 

Click here: @somewhereinpages to find me on Instagram and here:  erinrossi to find me on Goodreads. 

Happy Reading!

Reviews

Review: ARC of Tiffany Blues ~ by M.J. Rose

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Review: ARC of Tiffany Blues ~ by M.J. Rose

336 pages ~ Genre: Historical Fiction, 1920s  

August 7th, 2018 ~ Atria Books

My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

New York, 1924. Twenty-four-year-old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall. But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson. As the summer shimmers on, the competition between artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, as series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her. Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculpture, and Oliver, Jenny pushed her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne follows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night wehn Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moments, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my review of the novel.

This book had so many elements that I adore in a book, which is why I jumped at the chance to read it and review it. The 1920s, the art world, the forbidden romance, and murder mystery….these are all genres that I gravitate towards. While I really loved the aesthetic and the atmosphere of this book, there were elements of the writing and plot that just didn’t work for me. I definitely enjoyed parts of it, but the mystery element just never seemed to deliver. Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points

  • Detailed descriptions of Mr. Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall- as a giant history nerd, I really loved the long lovely, detailed descriptions of the Hall and the art within it. This also made the connection to the real life Tiffany and his history, even stronger. I am sure that some people may find these sections a little long, but I just ate them up.
  • Likewise, the description of the setting was fascinating. The combination of the Jazz Age and New York City, made for a stunning backdrop to this story.
  • I really loved Jenny as a heroine- she has a dark and interesting past that makes her very intriguing. Every new piece of her past that came to light made me want to get to know her more and more. I became very attached to Jenny and wanted her to overcome her trauma.
  • Description of the artistic process- I am not an artists, but I am fascinated by the artistic process, so getting these detailed descriptions that really showed Jenny’s passion was a huge bonus for me.

Low Points

  • At the times the writing was just confusing. I wasn’t sure if sometime was happening in the present or if it was a flashback in Jenny’s memory. This became very distracting.
  • Plot was very slow moving- Even though I loved all of the detailed description of the art, the artistic process, and the setting- I just kept waiting for the plot to really take off. I wanted to stay with the mystery and find out more about Jenny’s past. When I did finally get to the bottom of the mystery it felt rushed and slapped together kind of haphazardly. I really hate saying this, because I loved so much of the detail in this book, but I really wanted an engage plot, too. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a balance between the two here.

Overall, I would still recommend this to someone who loves the 1920s art world, and is looking for a more atmospheric read with lots of detail, but maybe not necessarily something that is very fast paced and suspenseful. Thank you so much to the published and to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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