13 Books Read in 30 Days! Quick Lit for December 2018Read More
Well October has been a month so far, hasn’t it? Theres so much going on in the world; I sometimes struggle to find ways I can make a difference. I want to be educated and I want to inform others. One of the things I’ve been working on this year is tracking my reading. I want to make sure I’m reading authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially stories from women and people of color. I love that this space allows me to connect with other readers from around the world and I want to be sure that I’m sharing books from all kinds of authors. I read widely to broaden my horizons, listen to the stories from people from all backgrounds, and to get inspired to facilitate change.
Here’s what I’ve read over the past month.
This was a slim book that knocked my socks off. Set in Nigeria, it’s a story about two very unique sisters. Ayoola is the beautiful younger sister with a nasty habit of killing off her boyfriends. Korede is the responsible older sister who is always bailing Ayoola out of unfortunate situations. She’s generally happy to save her, but when Ayoola sets her sights on the man that Korede is secretly in love with she starts to unravel. This book is dark and satirical look at family, culture, and obligation. I read this as an ARC from Netgalley- it’s out November 20th. Rating: 3.75/5
This is probably one of the more unique books I’ve read this year. I’ve been a fan of Hank Green for years. He is the younger brother of John Green-of The Fault in Our Stars fame-but he’s a celebrity of his own right. He’s the creator of Sci Show, Vlog Brothers, and a myriad of other internet based endeavors. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was wonderful. It’s sorta sci-fi, sorta speculative fiction. April May stumbles across the titular Remarkable Thing and has no idea what she’s looking at. As any Gen X’er would, she makes a YouTube video about it, and it immediately goes viral. It’s partly a story about being famous in the digital media age, but I honestly think this one is best gone in knowing little. Rating: 4.5/5.
I've got such mixed feelings about this book! I loved the premise- Fi coms home one day to find that a new family has moved into her beloved multi-million dollar home. She’s estranged from her husband Bram and has no idea who these people are or how they got there. The story is told in a really unique way- we get to hear her size of the situation via The Victim podcast. Bram tells his story through a word document. The beginning sucked me in but the pacing was wrong- I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never did. It was also about 100 pages too long. Rating: 2.75/5
This will land on my favorites list for 2018. Never one to shy away from the tough stuff, Jodi Picoult is at it again. The book opens with an active shooter situation at the last standing abortion clinic in Mississippi. There is no easing into this book. It’s told in reverse, so you get plopped straight into the meat of the story. The characters were vivid and my heart was beating the whole time. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, this one will make you think. Full review here. Rating: 4.5/5.
This saying can be over used but when it fits, it fits- Just Mercy is required reading. Bryan Stevenson tells the story of how he came to be the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to racial justice and challenging wrongful convictions. This book was heartbreakingly sad, but I couldn’t look away. Stevenson did such a good job infusing facts about the broken criminal justice system and true stories about those incarcerated. He brought humanity to these people and he’s such an inspiration. I can’t overstate how much I loved this book. 5/5
TL;DR- I recommend My Sister the Serial Killer, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, A Spark of Light, and Just Mercy.
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This was the sequel to Beartown, and did the almost impossible; the sequel was as good, if not better than the first book! The town is still reeling after the events from last year and, making matters worse, nearly all of the star players for Beartown were recruited by rival team Hed. Backman is so talented- there are a lot of characters and a lot of story lines going on, but he manages to make the entire thing cohesive. This is a heartbreaker- so I'd advise against reading this in public. Rating- 5
When Life Gives You Lululemons | Lauren Weisberger
I've loved Lauren Weisberger's stories since her Devil Wears Prada days. Her latest focuses specifically on Emily Charlton, Miranda Preiestly's senior assistant. She’s been away from the agency for ten years working on her own image consulting business. Business isn’t what it onced was and she needs a big break. She gets involved with Karolina, a supermodel who’s amid a huge domestic scandal and works to help her get her life back. I thought the book was fine- a breezy beach read, but I honestly can’t remember much of the meat of the plot so that says something. Rating, 3.5
I had this on my list for the ten buzzy book I want to read in 2018 list, and I’m so glad I got to it. I loved it! It's got 12 narrators and I had to take extensive notes to help me keep things straight, but it was so worth it. It was moving and powerful, but also accessible. I loved reading stories about today’s Native Americans. Great debut! Rating, 5
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald | Therese Anne Fowler
Even though I read a lot of thrillers/ contemporary fiction, I do like historical fiction when it's well done. Z - A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a great example of the kind of historical fiction I like. The author did such a good job of bringing Zelda to life. It was fascinating to read about her husband's writing process and to see how many other famous people they associated with, but it was also pretty depressing to read about their downfall. Zelda was talented in her own right but didn't get to fully follow her own dreams because she always had to be Scott's muse. Still, this was well done and made me want to read more of Fitzgerald/ Zelda's/ Hemingway's works. Rating, 4.
You might know the name Sarah Pinborough from her book last year, Behind Her Eyes with the fitting tagline of #WTFthatending. Cross Her Heart is different from Behind Her Eyes, in that it’ more of a slow burn and domestic drama than straight thriller, but I really enjoyed it. Her writing is gripping but know going in that it’ a bit slow for the first third. There’s no weird twist in this one, so if Behind Her Eyes wasn’t to your taste I’d recommend giving this one a try. Rating, 4.75
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Us Against You, I’d Rather Be Reading, There There, Z, Cross Her Heart.
It was a good 30 days.
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It's been a minute since I did a monthly reading wrap up! That wedding really took a lot outta me. Happily, things are back to their normal schedule, so I wanted to share the 10 books I managed to read during this time. Some great ones, a fantastic re-read, one I'm glad I made myself finish, and one that really annoyed me.
First, my favorite for the month!
I really enjoyed this! Believe Me has such a unique premise- Clare is a British woman who has come to New York to pursue acting. She can't work, since she's here on a student visa, and she hasn't gotten her big break yet so shes pursuing other options. She works for a law firm in entrapment- she gets hired to try and get cheating husbands to sleep with her to get evidence for the wives. She's working on her acting skills and getting by- until one of the clients turns up dead the next morning.
The book takes many turns and I never really knew what was real and what was an act. I really loved the author's last book, The Girl Before, and I think I enjoyed this even more. Warning: this is one dark book so if you're sensitive to violence, you might want to skip it. From this depraved reader, it gets 4.5 stars.
This was my first Elin Hilderbrand and it won't be my last. We have a lavish wedding set in Nantucket on the groom's wealthy family estate. It looks like it'll be a beautiful event until the morning of the wedding, the maid of honor washes to shore. Dead. And the bride was the one who found her.
We get to find out what happened from many characters' perspectives. I can get squirrelly if there are too many people trying to tell the story, but the author is so skilled and definitely pulled it off. There's Benji the groom, Celeste the sheltered zookeeper bride, Greer the elegant mystery writer and mother of the groom, Tag the gregarious patriarch, Featherleigh the struggling family friend, Merritt, the beautiful influencer MOH (And the deceased)... & So many more. Nearly everyone is a suspect- and all have their secrets to hide. This was the best summer read and has me wanting to visit Nantucket. I hope I get to read more about these characters down the road! Rating, 4 stars.
This was a Reece Witherspoon Book Club Pick, which automatically made me nervous. Her picks have been hit or miss for me (really disliked The Last Mrs. Parrish) and was worried Something In The Water would be overrated. I don't know if it was the setting I read it in or the fact that I was on my also on my honeymoon, as the characters in the book were, but this kept me entertained. (For more entertainment- check out the reviews on Amazon. Some people were piiiissed after reading this). All is well in Fiji for Mark and Erin, until they come across a mysterious bag in the water. What they find changes the course of both of their lives. There was a lot of tension and action, which kept me turning the pages. The main character makes some very interesting choices that at times had me yelling at her, but I enjoyed the ride. It was a great beach read, but not a thriller that's going to change my life. Overall, 3.5/5 stars.
I re-read this in anticipation of the HBO adaptation. Breezed through it and was immediately reminded why Gillian Flynn is an icon in the thriller genre. This book was ddaaarrrkkk (but I loved it). So creative, so disturbing, and very very entertaining. I read this when it first came out years ago but having read so many more thrillers since then, I'm pleasantly surprised that this was as entertaining as a re-read. This is possibly my favorite Gillian Flynn (and when are we getting more??) Rating- 5/5.
I was enchanted by The Subway Girls. It's told from the perspectives of Charlotte in the 40s and present day Olivia. Charlotte is a young woman on the cusp of graduation who's choosing between her life with Sam, the expected choice, and the life in advertising that she truly dreams of. Olivia is a modern day ad exec who finds herself in a remarkably similar situation as Charlotte was 60+ years ago. The dialog was a bit off for me and I preferred Charlotte's story but the premise was clever and touching. I can see this sitting nicely with fans of Beatriz Williams (think The Secret Life of Violet Gant). All told, 3.75/5.
Mackenzie Cooper has been publicly shamed- she was driving distracted while trying to find her daughter's friends house and got into an accident that resulted in her young daughter's death. The media drags her and creates a new rule against having your phone in your hand while driving- the Mackenzie Cooper law. She and her husband divorce and the book begins as we meet Mackenzie in her new life. She's working under a new name as an artist and makeup artist, and is doing her best. When her only friends's son gets wrapped up in a public situation, Mackenzie has to decide if she's willing to put herself at risk of being discovered by the media to be there for her friend. This book was one that I found to be too long by about 1/3, but I'm totally glad I finished. There was depth here and I couldn't leave without finding out what happened to the characters. 3.75/5.
Ah. Mary Kubica. She's one of my auto read authors and I've either loved or loathed all of her books. (Favorite was The Good Girl). In her latest book, Jessie is grieving. Her mother has just died of cancer, and, inspired to make something of her life, she's decided to go back to school. Only when she goes to apply for financial aid, she finds that the social security number she has been using isn't hers. In fact, it belongs to a deceased girl. She goes into a downward spiral and is wracked with insomnia, causing her to question what's real and what isn't. This was an incredibly fast paced novel, so I enjoyed that piece. I also love her books because they're set in Chicago. BUT. The last 10%. Oy. I don't think I've been this frustrated in awhile. If you've read this, please tell me what you thought in the comments below. If you haven't read it yet, please do so we can discuss. :) 2/5 stars.
This is a back list pick from an author that I love, B.A. Paris. I thought Bring me Back, her latest, was so clever, so I was excited to read her debut. Jack and Grace seem like the perfect couple. Their friends love coming over to their perfect home for dinner parties and always marvel at how connected the two newlyweds seem. Grace thought that her happily ever after might never come, because she's the legal guardian of her sister with Down's Syndrome. So when she meets Jack and he seems to be as in love with her sister as she is, she's smitten. She agrees to marry him and he build the perfect home for them to start their life together. We quickly find out that not everything is as it seems on the outside. I enjoyed this, but I can't say I loved it. The plot moved way too fast for it to be anywhere near believable (and I'm a master at suspending my disbelief). I thought it was a great debut and would recommend it to other readers, but trigger warning for violence and abuse. Overall, 3.5/5 stars.
Listened to book 2 in the Mr. Mercedes series. As always, it was a solid story. At first, I couldn't figure out how John Rothstein and Morris Bellamy were going to tie into the Mr. Mercedes story, but we get there eventually. There's a big buildup to book 3, and I have a feeling things are about to get even more creepy. Plus, I loved the re-appearance of Bill Hodges and his partners Jerome and Holly. 4/5 stars.
I loved this unique little book. Despite the classic-looking cover, there's a rather modern premise: a Evangelical family on reality TV grapples with the youngest daughter's pregnancy. There were themes of feminism, reproductive rights, and sexuality and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the ending was a little rushed, but I'd definitely still recommend it. Rating- 4/5
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Believe Me, The Perfect Couple, Sharp Objects, Finders Keepers, The Book of Essie.
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Time for another monthly wrap up! Some duds, some hits, mostly new releases. Sounds like a typical month to me!
I almost always have at least 3 books going at the same time: a physical book, an audio book, and an e-book. I found myself on a train ride one day without the physical book I'd been working through, so I thought I'd pick up The Life-Changing Magic. This one, not the Marie Kondo one about getting rid of all of my books. I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.
I tend to like books that are in the non-fiction, female empowerment genre but some are way too bubblegum for my taste. Such as this. I thought some of the constructs were interesting- say no! Don't do things you don't want to do! Stop caring about what other people think! But in the end, I kept finding my mind wandering and wondering how in the world this was turned into an entire book and not just a blog post. But hey, good for her for getting paid.
I am such a Mary Kubica fan. She lives in Chicago and is the author of one of my favorite thrillers (The Good Girl) Win/win! She seems to write a book every summer or so, which is really impressive. Most are great, but I really didn't like one (Pretty Baby), so I was very interested to read Every Last Lie. Right off the bat, it's super sad. We find out that Clara's husband, Nick, has died in a car wreck. Their daughter Maisie was also in the car, but she is unharmed. The circumstances surrounding his death are questionable. Clara was just on the phone with him and the just had a baby 3 days ago- this couldn't possibly be happening. Can it? It was a very good Kubica book, a story told from alternating perspectives that's really sad. Not my favorite, but certainly one that made me tear up and think about what's really important in life. 3.5 stars.
This is the book I was most excited to read this month! It's written by Anne Bogel, also known as Modern Mrs. Darcy. Her blog is probably the first "reading" blog that I discovered, and she genuinely inspired me to go for it here. So, of course I knew I'd be getting my hands on her first book. Happily, I was also chosen to be a part of the Reading People Launch team, so I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have already read it, loved it, and written my review, but I won't be posting it until my Blog Tour on 8/30. For now, I'd say if you are familiar with Modern Mrs. Darcy or enjoy reading non-fiction or books about personality, this might be the one for you. She is also offering cool bonuses to those that pre-order, including a free audio version of the book and access to Anne's online "What's your personality?" class. It comes out next month, on September 19th. Preorder here!
I hope to write a longer review of The Lying Game. I enjoyed the first book I read by Ruth Ware, The Woman In Cabin 10, so I knew she is a skilled thriller writer but had no idea what to expect from this one. I still added it to my library's wait list and luckily got to read it right away. The Lying Game is about 4 female friends from boarding school who play a game with one another. The game is The Lying Game, sort of a higher stakes version of the Mean Girls Burn book. The main rules are: don't get caught, and don't lie to each other. And- no matter what- if someone says "I need you", you show up. We catch up with the girls some 10 years later after Kate sends that iconic text. They haven't seen each other for years, but human remains have recently been found on the beach where they spent their summers and the girls might have something to do with it. I thought The Woman in Cabin 10 was alright- probably 3 or 3.5 stars. In that one, there were far fetched plot points and the ending was too rushed. There are similarities to this in The Lying Game, but I found this plot in this one more palatable.
This was possibly my standout new release for August. See What I Have Done is truly a weird book. Sarah Schmidt is an Australian author and this book is her debut. I love it when debut books are well done, but what I loved the most about SWIHD is the story's origin story. We've likely all heard about Lizzie Borden and her axe, but Schmidt says that Lizzie kept visiting her in her dreams and served as her muse to write this story. The idea that an alleged murderess could come to bother an author some 100 years later to write the true story was just too tantalizing for me to pass up. I received this as an ARC as well, but it came out earlier this month on August 1st. Full review here.
I finally got around to finishing On Writing! I'm moving this month, so i've had the chance to get through a lot of audio books. I'm pretty sure On Writing was one of the first audiobooks I bought from Audible, mainly because I heard it was narrated by Stephen King. I loved this book so much. it's part memoir and part writing encouragement. He says that no one needs permission to be a writer, and if you feel like you do need a permission slip, consider permission to write granted by him. I also loved hearing about his behind the scenes process, his wife, and life before becoming one of the most prolific authors of our time. So so good!
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Welcome to Quick Lit, where I link up with Modern Mrs Darcy and give a quick synopsis and share my thoughts about the books that I've read over the past month. I'm so happy that I've been on a really good book reading streak, so I'll definitely be checking out other people's posts so that I can continue my good luck. Here's what I've been reading!
Wow. This past month, I participated in a re-along with some folks from Instagram (#weallfloatreadalong) of Stephen King's It in preparation of the movie remake in the Fall. I completely fell in love with it! Previously, The Stand was my favorite King book but I have to say I think It takes first place. I didn't quite know what to expect going into it. All I knew was that it was LONG and there was a killer clown terrorizing kids in the neighborhood. It took me almost a full month to read but it was absolutely worth the time. Yes, it was scary and thrilling, but what I really loved the most was the friendship and cadamerie between the members of the Loser's Club. They had a beautiful friendship. This is hands down one of King's best works, and I'd encourage you to consider reading it, even if you're typically not into scary books.
After reading It, I felt liberated. I wanted to try and keep myself on track with my Goodreads reading goal for the year so I was looking for a book I could get through quickly. I first heard about I Found You from the Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide, and happily was given a copy from Netgalley. I Found You was awesome! A single mother (whom I found to be hilarious) finds a man sitting on a beach outside of her house. When it begins to rain and he doesn't move, she decides to approach him and finds that he has no idea who he is and why he's sitting there. The plot takes off from there, and we're also introduced to a 21 year old woman who is new to the UK, who has just found out that her husband has gone missing. The story is told from alternating POVs and ultimately we get to find out who the man is and what led him there. I could have read through this in a day if I'd had more time (as it was, it took 2 :)) I was pleasantly surprised by this! I'd never heard of Lisa Jewell, but she is a best selling author from the UK and happily has a pretty substantial back catalog. I'll definitely be coming back to her.
The Good House was one of those books that kept coming around to me. It came out in 2013, and when I heard about it yet again from a new favorite podcast of mine, All the Backlist, I decided to pick it up. Hildy Good is a relator and a maybe alcoholic. Her adult daughters stage an intervention to get her to finally get the helps she needs, but she's reluctant because, after all, she isn't REALLY an alcoholic. If you like unreliable narrators and funny protagonists, you'll probably get along with Hildy. Bonus- I think Hildy is nearing 60, and it was so great to hear from a woman that's middle aged for a change.
If you looked at Bookstagram on July 11th, there's no way you missed Final Girls. It was everywhere! And for good reason. Stephen King called it this summer's first thriller, and of course he isn't wrong. Final Girls is a play on the scary movie 'last girl standing' cliche, a label the media used to refer to 3 woman who were the only survivors of separate horror-movie scale massacres. Quincy Carpenter, the 3rd and most recent Final Girl, is a largely successful baking blogger who has managed to put the whole ordeal behind her. With the help of Xanax and baking. However, when the 2nd Final Girl, Sam, shows up on her doorstep after being off the grid for 15 years. There were plenty of scary parts, and I'd definitely call this a thriller and a page turner. I'm pretty sure this will end up being one of the top books I've read this year. Give it a try!
I've read 30 books of my 57 book goal, so Goodreads is telling me I'm on track to meet that. I'll take it!
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