Welcome to Friday Reads. Each Friday, I’ll review any books I’ve completed that week, as well as share what I’m reading right now. And by “Each Friday,” I mean “some Fridays.”

No post for the last couple of Fridays because I was in vacation mode. But never fear – that doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading! I’m currently ahead of target (more on that in Monday’s January wrap-up post).


The Sadness of Beautiful Things – Simon Van Booy – 5* (Jan 12)

I might’ve called this The Beauty of Sad Things. Some of the stories were hard to read, and yet most offered a sense of hope and kindness. It’s been awhile since a collection of short stories kept me so interested that I read more than one at a time, but I could’ve read this book for hours. 

The one oddity for me was “Playing with Dolls.” I still enjoyed it but since these were all based on true stories, I was very distracted trying to figure out what kernel of truth existed in this sort of sci-fi/futuristic piece. That’s not a criticism, just part of how I tend to over-think stories. It didn’t seem to fit quite as well as others in the collection.

I plan to seek out more works by this author. If this is any indication of his work, I expect I’ll be pleased.

Help for the Haunted – John Searles – 3.5* (Jan 28)

Someone recommended this book to me but I can’t remember who.

I was asked if this book was more of a paranormal story or a mystery/crime novel. Without giving anything away, I suppose it’s a bit of both. There’s a lot of skipping around in the timeline that was somewhat confusing and interrupted the pace for me. At one point, Sylvie has a deadline to make a decision and it’s so pressing that she’s counting it down in hours and minutes. But we keep dropping into the past in a way that took away from the immediacy of her choice. 

Secondary characters felt somewhat haphazard to me. I’m not sure why the author showed up at some times and not others, why she called one person for help over another, why some of them existed at all. 

The bones of the story are solid and complex in a way that I found satisfying but the layers used to reveal everything seemed uneven and messy. 


The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton (27%)

Others have said this book has a slow start and I’d agree. I feel like it’s finally going somewhere, but it seems unnecessarily murky at this stage. Also, at 27% in, we haven’t actually met Elodie’s fiance but it seems clear there’s nothing end-game between them. Am I supposed to care about their relationship when they don’t? It makes me really impatient with the protagonist, which seems like an odd choice by the author. And while I’m always willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of a story, the coincidences here feel way too big at this point.