I went a little overboard with ARC requests, so I reviewed two new releases last month! I think January is similar to September, with a bevy of great releases and it's hard to choose just one. I'll be back to just one a month, for the foreseeable future...
This book got a LOT of airtime on Book Riot and was also a Book of the Month pick, so I was intrigued. It was a gorgeous and sumptuous novel about an unlikely 19th century heroine of the of the Paris opera. I'm glad I started with lots of free time at the tail end of the holidays because it clocks in at 561 pages. An atmospheric novel is not usually my cup of tea, but the historical fiction aspect, and Lilliet's character haunted me and kept my attention. In many ways, it reminded me of Fingersmith: a very long, 19th century immersive story of plots within plots within plots... Sometimes I felt that Chee was trying a bit too hard with his provocative prose, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
"I wished it all to burn, to become a fire that would lay waste to the city, for me to turn from ember to inferno under the breath of whatever it was that would listen to my prayer and answer it."
Sometimes it dragged, while simultaneously seeming too complicated. This can certainly make for a frustrating reading experience, so your mileage may vary.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Oh my goodness! I'm kicking myself for not having read this sooner. But I'm also jealous of anyone who hasn't read this most DELIGHTFUL true story of Helene Hanff and her letters exchanged with the bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road. I love epistolary novels, and this was just a great segue into a nonfictional account of correspondence during the late 1940s until the 60s. It's the perfect uplifting book, which is handy these days, as a shining example of how people can be wonderful to each other.
Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
The premise of this story, a woman who kills a fellow student at 12 years old tries to move on from her past, was JUICY stuff. Though, major swaths of time were skipped over, which gave me a bit of whiplash and I wish I had gotten to know Rio and the other main characters better. It's not often that I say this, but this book could have been a good 50 pages longer! I was totally sucked in by her moral dilemma of whether the ends justify the means, and whether people can fundamentally change over time. I also enjoyed the peek into Japanese culture and being able to identify with Rio as a runner. I look forward to future work from Kelly Luce, for certain.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel you can read my review here.
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker you can read my review here.