Stacks on stacks: Books I hope to read in January

In lieu of a traditional to-be-read pile for the month, I have my stack of “hopefuls”. My hopefuls are books that I want to get to in January, but if I add or subtract from it, there is no harm done.

There are a couple books missing from this stack. One of them being my January pick from Book of the Month Club. My pick this month was Red Clocks by Leni ZumasRed Clocks is a dystopian novel that some have compared to a modern day The Handmaid’s Taleso there was no question it would be my pick. The other book missing is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Confession time… I have never read the Harry Potter series so this will be my first read through. I’m joining a group of people reading the series throughout the year and will be discussing my thoughts with them. I’m very excited!

Moving onto the stack above, I’ve already finished one of these books (We are Okay by Nina LaCour) and will be posting a review soon because it was absolutely beautiful. I have picked up The Alienist by Caleb Carr as my next read for a couple of reasons. One, my mom and I were at Barnes & Noble recently and she pointed this series out to tell me how much she loved it. I take her recommendations so seriously because my mom is where I got my love of reading from. Two, the show on TNT premieres at the end of this month so I definitely need to finish the book before I start watching the show!

After I finish The Alienist, I have no idea where I will go next in my stack. There’s Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden which has caught my eye again and again. It seems like a heart-wrenching memoir that I have to be ready for, but something important to read.

I also am dying to read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for quite some time. It is in a completely different format from other books with documents and conversations scattered throughout. I’ve also seen nothing by high ratings on this book (and I’ve pre-ordered the other books in the series), so it is a must read this month.

Another book I am hoping to get through this month is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The entire Raven Cycle series has come highly recommended to me and I want to get started on it and immerse myself in a fantasy world again. I’m thinking this one will be next after The Alienist, but who knows where my hopeful pile will take me!

The final book that I’d love to get to by the end of the month is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This series caught my eye a while ago and when I received all of my Christmas gift cards, I bought the whole thing. I really enjoyed Patrick Ness’ Release and think I will love this series. The only scary this is that The Knife of Never Letting Go is a big book and will take me a little longer to read. But! I need to stick with my resolution of reading larger books in 2018.

Wish me luck on this pile and tell me in the comments what you’re looking forward to reading this month!

PS. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month Club, click this link for my referral code! You’ll get your first month for only $10 and a free tote bag. Book of the Month Club is one of my favorite monthly subscription services. It has been a great way for me to discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can skip any month (without losing credits) if the selections aren’t for you. Seriously, check it out!

It’s better to have a chalk smile: A review of The Chalk Man

Throwing another book review your way because I got way behind on posting these!

I just finished The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor last night and it was quite a thrill. I received this book as one of my December picks from the Book of the Month Club (see my post script for a sales pitch on why you should join and a referral code).

The Chalk Man was a classic thriller. It’s full of questionable characters, twists you don’t always expect, and creepy events.

This book follows Eddie in both 1986 and 2016. In 1986, he is 12 years old and spends all of his time with his friends (Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky). The five of them started a secret code between the two of them. Color-coded chalk men. They use these drawings to talk to each other and send messages that only they can understand. Until, one day, chalk drawings lead them to a dismembered body in the forest and their lives change forever. Thirty years later, Eddie is a poorly adjusted adult whose past comes to haunt him in the form of a letter containing a single chalk drawing. At first he thinks it’s a prank, but when one of his childhood friends turns up dead, Eddie must dig up the past to save himself.

I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of this book. It was interesting and definitely gave me chills in parts. This book alternates chapters between 1986 and 2016 so the events unfold at the same time. While I think this was intended to build the suspense of the novel and was executed well, it is a format that I do not enjoy very often. One positive of this format was, because each chapter ended in a cliffhanger, it kept me reading. I wanted to know what happened at the end of each chapter and the events wouldn’t be resolved until two chapters later.

The best part of this novel is that Tudor did an excellent job in creating a classic 80s-inspired thriller. The Chalk Man was full of the characteristics that make a good mystery. It was similar to Stranger Things or IT, a group of friends who face gruesome events that no kid should have to face (however, The Chalk Man did not have any supernatural elements). I think my favorite part was the relationships. I enjoyed reading the relationships between the characters (especially those involving Metal Mickey) in 1986 and comparing them to 2016. It was really interesting to see how the events of 1986 changed their lives and pushed their relationships in other directions.

I’ve been in need of a good thriller and The Chalk Man didn’t disappoint. I did not expect what happened at the end of the novel and only had small suspicions of the culprit. This book introduced many suspects and brought to light many different motives. I found myself wanting to read this book every night because I needed to know what happened. All of these are elements of a good thriller.

In the end, this book gets three out of five stars from me. I really liked the story and enjoyed reading this book. It was well-written, creepy, and definitely thrilling. What kept it from a higher review was the format. I am a very impatient person and love instant gratification, so the format of alternating years and storylines (that do eventually come together) was not for me. However, if you’re a fan of thrillers, The Chalk Man is definitely worth a read and I recommend it!

PS. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month Club, click this link for my referral code! You’ll get your first month for only $10 and a free tote bag. Book of the Month Club is one of my favorite monthly subscription services. It has been a great way for me to discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can skip any month (without losing credits) if the selections aren’t for you. Seriously, check it out!