Ashley’s Book Nook

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Leaving Cleveland by Steven H. Begleiter

Leaving Cleveland follows the story of aspiring photographer Sam Cohen as he navigates the highs and lows of the celebrity art world in New York City. Sam decides to leave his family business, move away from Cleveland, and make a name for himself in the big city. NYC in the 80s is a world of fame and fortune and with a culture that is quite different than Sam’s life in Ohio. 

Leaving Cleveland is Colorado author Steven H. Begleiter’s seventh book, but his first work of fiction. Begleiter’s own experiences as a prolific photographer breathe life into Sam’s experiences in this “fictional memoir.” The characters in the novel are dynamic: Sam’s inner monologue, his dad who runs the family business in Ohio, and Sam’s world-famous and high-strung photographer boss Izzy Teivel all impact the story’s progression. 

The glitz and glamour of celebrity photography is entertaining, and Sam’s inner psychological challenges and the way he relates to the world amidst a season of change give the novel a depth that sticks. 

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Logan Ramsay is working for the FBI hunting down illegal gene experiments and research when he is infected by an unknown virus in a raid-gone-wrong. Ramsay, once plagued by his ordinary mind with extraordinary ideas, suddenly finds himself able to think and experience the world in ways he never imagined. Upgrade serves up lightning-fast twists and turns as Ramsay navigates his newfound powers. 

It’s a safe bet that, when Coloradan Blake Crouch releases a new book, it will be a fun read. He has proven himself time and time again to be not only a dependable storyteller, but also an accessible sci-fi writer. His novels conjure the same feeling of an intense, over-the-top summer blockbuster movie. What his stories may lack in depth, Crouch more than makes up for with entertaining and thrilling page-turners that appeal to a massive audience. Need a vacation read that you’ll enjoy and then likely share with your friends and family? You’ve met your match. 

Unraveled by Katie Brown

Katie Brown became an avid climber at the age of 12 and won the title of Junior World Champion just two years later. 

In her early professional climbing career, she won every single U.S. adult national competition she entered and even brought home the ever-prestigious World Cup title. Then, as suddenly as she had appeared, Katie vanished from the competitive climbing community and what seemed to be — from the outside — a very successful career. People were left wondering: What happened to Katie Brown? 

I started reading Unraveled with no idea who Katie Brown is and with little knowledge of the climbing world. By the end of the book, I had laughed, cried, and wholeheartedly rooted for Katie throughout the peak highs of her climbing career and the deep valleys of a difficult home life and severe mental health struggles. 

This book is an unflinchingly honest account of Katie’s rise to climbing fame, her difficult and nuanced relationship with her mother, and an eating disorder that manifested as a way for her to find control in her otherwise chaotic life. Unraveled is the type of book that you read once, but the message lingers for years after. I applaud Katie’s vulnerability and bravery to let the world in; her willingness to shine light on the darkest parts of herself shows the rest of us that we are not alone in our struggles. 


Looking for more great books to read? Check out our 2022 Book Reviews.