Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.
This month I’ve been reading historical mysteries, Southern fiction, contemporary novels, terrific nonfiction, and a much-anticipated sequel. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been reading: link up a post or tell us in comments.
Raybourn writes historical fiction with a twist; she's best known for her Lady Julia Grey mysteries. This is her first novel in a new Victorian series featuring the badass but well-bred Veronica Speedwell. I heard the author speak about her source material for this new series in Raleigh, and I was intrigued: her heroine travels the world hunting beautiful butterfly specimens and the occasional romantic dalliance. When her guardian dies, the orphaned Veronica expects to embark on a grand scientific adventure. But Veronica quickly realizes that with her guardian's death, she is no longer safe—and she begins to unravel the mystery of why she poses a threat to dangerous men. An easy, enjoyable read. More info →
Chamberlain is known for writing contemporary Southern fiction featuring strong female characters and not shying away from sensitive subjects. In this novel, her thirtysomething heroine's adoption process forces her to confront secrets she's been keeping for twenty years about her family of origin. Chamberlain uses two narrative voices—that of 14-year-old Molly and 20-years-older Molly, to explore the power of the secrets we keep out of fear and shame and the pretending that can actually make us strong. This is the first book I've read by Diane Chamberlain; The Silent Sister is next on my list. More info →
I nearly didn't read this book because of the horrible title, and that would have been a shame. I'm so glad I relied on a friend's recommendation, and my own enjoyment of Gawande's latest release Being Mortal, and read it anyway. This brief, engaging book is about how to successfully live and work in a world that's becoming increasingly complex. Gawande draws fascinating examples from medicine, construction, and aviation to explain why systems remain vulnerable to human error, and what we can do about it. Highly recommended. More info →
I almost abandoned this book, and thought hard about including it in Quick Lit because I found it underwhelming. Its heroine, Alice Pearse, is a sandwich generation wife and mother of three who takes on a new and demanding job when her husband loses his. The book had potential: I found the premise relatable and the characters likable. But instead of thoughtfully addressing the issues Alice faces, Egan fabricates silly problems (such as a big bad corporate employer reminiscent of The Circle) for her characters and simplistic solutions. Alice works in the world of publishing, and I did appreciate the novel's unabashed love for books and readers. If you decide to read this, please read it with your book club: at least you can enjoy tearing apart the ending together. More info →
Finally! The much-anticipated (and originally unplanned) follow-up to Moyes's word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. The bad news: the sequel isn't as good as original. The good news: Moyes at least had the guts to take her characters in an altogether different direction, and if it's not perfect, at least it's interesting. Moyes also left the door wide open to a third novel, which I would welcome. More info →