Quick Lit | November 2018
Another reading month down! I cannot believe it’s November. Thanksgiving is next week! I had the best reading month- really, I can see reasons to recommend all of them. I’ve also been working on Nonfiction November, so I was able to get 2 Nonfictions down and I’ve just started Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. I can already tell that will be a 5 star read. Here’s what else I’ve been reading!
When I first read that November Road was a cat and mouse crime novel set against the backdrop of the JFK assassination, I was in. I enjoyed this not for its JFK connection, but because of the story itself. Really, the inciting incident could have been anything (but I recently found out that mobster Carlos Marcello is a real guy! LOL thanks Sarah @sarahsbookshelves). Instead, we get to read the story of Frank Guidry, who until very recently, was Marcello's go-to guy. It seems his luck has run out though, so our boy Frank skips town. He's constantly trying to stay one step ahead and on the way meets Charlotte, her two daughters, and their epileptic dog. They're headed to California, Charlotte with the hope of eking out a living of her own instead of waiting for her drunken husband to get his life together, Frank just trying to stay alive. I thought the pacing was excellent and really liked the leads, Frank and Charlotte. Fans of Laura Lippman’s Sunburn might enjoy this one. 4/5.
I was such a big fan of the All Souls Trilogy, so when I saw that Deborah Harkness had written a book largely centering on Matthew's son Marcus, I was all in. Marcus has chosen a mate, Phoebe, who makes the decision to change into a vampire. The story flashes back to Marcus's transition during the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, to me, this story lacked the magic (heh) we got from Witches. Marcus is telling Diana his story, and the whole thing feels strangely detached. The big love story did nothing for me; even their reunion was lackluster. I really did not care to read about Diana's and Matthew's twins and there wasn't a satisfying ending. I'm still glad I read it because it was nice to see some of my favorites back in action, but this isn't a story that will stick with me. I found it to be about 3/5 (and it's the nostalgia for the characters that has me rating it this high).
This took me awhile to get into, but this ended up being one of my favorites of 2018. The book opens with Yale and his boyfriend Charlie attending the funeral of their good friend Nico, who has died of AIDS. It's 1980s Chicago and people are just starting to understand the disease. Their community lives in fear of contracting it, as do so many communities across the world. The other story line features present day with Fiona, Nico's sister. She's on her way to Paris to reunite with her daughter, who doesn't know she's coming. I thought the characters were flawed and realistic. The story was a hair too long and certain points were a little too tangential, but overall it's a gorgeous story about friendship, family that you’re born with and family that you make, and acceptance. I'd be happy to read more by this author (and I'm always a sucker for books set in Chicago). 4.5/5
This has overtaken Pet Semetary as the scariest book I’ve ever read. Its the story of a young girl who has something absolutely terrifying happen to her. It might be schizophrenia or it might be demons- we’re not really sure. All we know is that her family has agreed to go on a reality TV show to share the exorcism they’ve elected to put her through. This book absolutely captivated me, but you definitely need to have a high tolerance for horror to enjoy it. 5/5
This book made me miss my train stop- I don’t often get to say that! I have had this on my shelves for years and am so glad I finally made my way through it. Between the World and Me is a short book, but it’s impactful. Coates wrote this for his son and he talks about what it’s like to be a black person in America. A must read for everyone, really. 5/5
I loved Bad Blood. It's the incredible true story of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. The company alleged that it was able to perform over 200 blood tests from just a finger prick- but- the technology never worked. John Carreyrou did a fantastic job investigating the story and integrating all of the information into an incredible narration. If you're at all interested in true crime (or just unbelievable true stories)- definitely read this one! 5 stars.
Well, Tana French remains one of my favorite authors but this one didn’t end up on my favorites list. Toby is a young man who has had an easy go in life, until one day he gets jumped in his own apartment and suffers a traumatic brain injury. He goes to the family home to take care of an ailing uncle, and something incredibly disturbing is found on the grounds, sending things into a tailspin. This was a quiet book and that was tense and atmospheric, but there wasn’t a ton of plot. The writing is superb, but I kept wishing for things to move forward more quickly. I also think it was too long by about 100 pages. If you go in thinking it’s more of a family drama than suspense/ thriller, you might like it more. 3/5
This is one of my new favorites! I’m a huge thriller/suspense lover (as you’ve probably gathered) and I’ve run into a lot of prolific authors whose books can by hit or miss. Lisa Jewell is an author that’s always consistent to me. A murder takes place in a neighborhood full of voyeurs and everyone’s a suspect. There was a twist or two along the way that got me and I loved the way the story was told. It opens with a police officer coming upon the scene, and then the story unfolds from the viewpoints of several neighbors. There are police interviews interspersed in the narrative, which I thought that was a fun addition. This struck me as a read alike for Big Little Lies. I’m giving it a 5!
Pieces of Her is Karin Slaughter's latest standalone. It took me longer than usual to get into it, but in the end I did find it to be entertaining. I really liked the mother in the story- the titular Her- but I could barely get past my hatred for her daughter, Andy. This reminded me of The Nix in many ways. This one wasn't as brutal as some of her others have been- but it has its moments. It’s more suspense and drama than anything else. 3/5.
I fully recommend The Great Believers, A Head Full of Ghosts, Bad Blood, Between the World and Me, and Watching You.
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