Quick Lit
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

$7.99$2.99

Billed as a perfect choice for fans of Unbroken, this bestselling story about an American crew team seeking Olympic gold during the Depression has garnered nearly 2000 5-star reviews on Amazon. I fully expect this to be as compelling as any novel I read this summer.

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Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris
The Nightingale

The Nightingale

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

This book disappointed me, not because it was bad, but because it had the potential to be outstanding. While Hannah does a wonderful job portraying the state of occupied France in World War II, the characters felt like types. Many reviewers praise the sheer originality of the book for its portrayal of French women in WWII, but I kept thinking of Jojo Moyes's stronger novel The Girl You Left Behind. Release date: February 3.

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The Circle

The Circle

A chilling cautionary tale about the internet, social media, and connectedness with echoes of Animal Farm. At 503 pages, the book felt a bit long-winded to me, but it nevertheless raises important and timely questions about connectedness, transparency, and the dark side of the internet. Published in October 2013, and I wonder what I would have thought if I had read it then.

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The Bookseller

The Bookseller

$14.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

It's Denver, 1962, and Kitty Miller is happily living the single life, co-running a struggling bookstore. But then she begins having dreams that show her an alternate reality: the life she would have had if one single moment had unfolded differently. (Think Sliding Doors.) If you thought The Life Intended's plot was farfetched, you aren't going to like this one. This felt a little gimmicky to me (and the autism thread felt especially heavy-handed), but I did appreciate the numerous literary references. Release date: March 3.

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Case Histories

Case Histories

$6.99$3.99Audiobook: 10.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 6/15
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

In this first installment in Atkinson's detective series, Brodie investigates three cold cases that seem to be strangely related. This was an excellent detective novel, with good writing and strong characterization, and reminded me very much of Tana French. But like Tana French, some of the content was seriously disturbing. Recommended, with caution.

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The Precious One

The Precious One

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Taisy Cleary hasn't seen her father in 17 years. After he survives a heart attack, he summons her to write his biography (The Thirteenth Tale, anyone?), and Taisy is plunged back into her past, giving her the opportunity to write past (and current) crucial mistakes. Not my favorite de los Santos work, but the gorgeous writing and Middlemarch references keep it on my "worthwhile" list.

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Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter needs a do-over, so she signs up for a notoriously tough wilderness survival course to prove that she can make it on her own. But then she finds out her kid brother’s best friend is joining her on the trip, wrecking her plans before she even gets to the mountains. Once there, Helen confronts a summer blizzard, a group of sorority girls, rutting season for the elk, and spin-the-bottle—yet she also discovers what it really means to be brave. A fun and light read that still manages to tackle some serious topics. If you love this, go back and read The Lost Husband.

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Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are

$9.99$4.99

I love Shauna's writing, and each of her three books has been better than the one before. Niequist calls this collection her attempt at paying attention to the things that really matter, and to encourage you to do the same, with 365 daily devotions. Also included are 21 recipes (poppy seed cake, green chile strata, Thai beef salad) as a fun and tangible reminder to savor your life, where you are, as you are.

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The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist

$10.49$1.99Audiobook: 4.95 (Whispersync)

This 2014 release got a ton of end-of-year buzz. The writing was solid but I ultimately found the story—an exploration of love, affluence, and greed—unsatisfying, because the author left some of the most compelling parts of the story unexplored. I wouldn't bother with this one if I had it to do over. I listened to this as an audiobook, and Davina Porter's narration was pitch-perfect.

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The Day the Angels Fell

The Day the Angels Fell

5.95 (AUDIBLE)

Neil Gaiman meets Madeleine L'Engle. Shawn Smucker's excellent YA novel, and I just found out another podcast guest Adam Verner read the audiobook! Listen to Shawn on Episode 84 of What Should I Read Next, and Adam Verner on Episode 31. I'm a longtime fan of Smucker's nonfiction. Read my mini-review here. The ebook is not on sale, but you do not have to be an Audible member to get this price.

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The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 10.99 (Whispersync)

I wanted to love this follow-up to the surprising and delightful The Rosie Project. I'm not the first reviewer to note it's twice as long and half as good as the original. Heads up: Simsion's third novel, The Best of Adam Sharp, is due out May 2, 2017.

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Greenglass House

Greenglass House

$7.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

It's Christmas vacation at the smuggler's inn Greenglass House, and Milo finds himself with a mystery to unravel. While I couldn't help but wonder if the author was tipping her hat to The Phantom Tollbooth, the story reminded me of The Mysterious Benedict Society. An engaging read for kids and adults alike, and a perfect choice for cozy winter evenings.

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The Life Intended

The Life Intended

The publisher calls this Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You: the premise is far-fetched, but it's supposed to be. Early in their marriage, Kate’s husband dies in a tragic accident. Twelve years later, Kate promises to marry a man who’s good on paper—but the night of their engagement, Kate vividly dreams about the life she would have had if her first husband had lived. The dreams keep returning, night after night. Harmel uses her strange jumping-off point to explore how suffering shapes our lives in surprising and even hopeful ways. Don't worry: it's not at all depressing, and Harmel's a great storyteller. Warmhearted and richly told.

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Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.99 (Whispersync)

Cain hooks you with a great story on page 1 and doesn’t let up till the elegant ending. By sharing personal stories and fascinating research, Cain showcases introverts’ unique strengths--and how those strengths are often squelched in a culture that’s embraced the Extrovert Ideal. Quiet is smart, eye-opening, and utterly enjoyable, for introverts and extroverts alike.

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A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

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.

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Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

$15.58
Author:
Series: Quick lit 1/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

Fans of the author's first memoir Pastrix won't want to miss this new one: Bolz-Weber delivers another wildly irreverent, profanity-filled spiritual memoir about how God chooses who he chooses, even if those people seem to us like the most unlikely candidates. Poignant and hilarious stories give life to this concept: in my favorite chapter, Bolz-Weber and her "token" conservative friend fire off rifles at the local shooting range. The second half lags a little but I'm glad I stuck it out.

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My Mrs Brown

My Mrs Brown

If you've heard this little book described as a modern-day fairy tale, remember this: those traditional non-Disney fairy tales are often very sad. Mrs Brown is a staid, respectable woman: she's not prone to excess, she's not the sort to have a bucket list, she has the non-glamorous job of cleaning a beauty parlor. But the few who see past her plain exterior adore her. When a local great lady dies, Mrs. Brown is hired to help inventory her things before the estate sale, and it's there she encounters The Dress. It's a very specific Oscar de la Renta dress, in a very specific color, and Mrs. Brown immediately turns her life upside down so she can save the money to buy one. Mrs. Brown's dress isn't just a dress to her, and we don't find out why she needs it until the very end of the novel. I wasn't sure what to make of this one when I read it, but as my thoughts have circled back to it over the past couple of months I've found it increasingly satisfying.

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Miller’s Valley: A Novel

Miller’s Valley: A Novel

$13.99$3.99

This story of a young girl growing up in a rural community during a time when the community itself is facing a tremendous change. This was wise, reflective, and easy to read, and strongly reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior.

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Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

$9.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Father's Day
Genre: Nonfiction
Tag: Quick Lit

Ann Patchett called this the best book she read in 2014, a fabulous book club pick, and a moving true story. That's enough for me. When Chile's San Jose mine collapsed in August 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock for 69 days—longer than anyone thought they could survive. While they were still trapped in the mine, the men agreed that if they told their story, they would only do it together. On their release, they entrusted Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tobar with its telling.

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Pretending to Dance: A Novel

Pretending to Dance: A Novel

$18.38
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 10/15
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

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.

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Girl Waits with Gun

Girl Waits with Gun

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

Stewart is best known for her science writing: she's written six nonfiction books with unusual takes on the natural world. (See: The Drunken Botanist.) This book is a departure for her, and a successful one: readers buzzed about it all fall and it hit many best-of-2015 round-ups. This novel is based on the true story of Constance Kopp, one of the first female sheriffs in America. I tend to shy away from biographical fiction because the narrators often ring false to me, but I loved the way Stewart brought her leading lady's story to life.

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Every Anxious Wave

Every Anxious Wave

$9.992.95 (AUDIBLE ONLY)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 5/16
Genre: Science Fiction
Tag: Quick Lit

Imagine 11/22/63, except instead of traveling back in time to right the course of history, Karl Bender is going back to see his favorite bands perform live. Karl's mundane life becomes a lot more interesting when he discovers a portal to the past in his closest. He starts time traveling to see his favorite musicians, and selling others the opportunity to do the same. Of course it doesn't go according to plan. The concept alone makes this worth reading if you love punk rock and time travel. But the center goes all wobbly, and because the characters' visits to the past keep changing the future, the ending will make some of you crazy. (Remember the 8-line edit? Take note.)

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A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel)

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel)

$14.99$4.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 9/16
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

The Washington Post called this, "Deep and grand and altogether extraordinary....Miraculous."

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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

$9.99$2.99

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.

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Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

$19.951.95 (AUDIBLE DAILY DEAL)

When Shauna announced this book, she said it was "a spiritual journey from exhaustion to love, comparison to connection .... I’m discovering, inch by inch, a new way of spiritual living–less striving, more receiving. More love, less hustle. This is changing everything. Everything. " I've been looking forward to this one for a long time.

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Keep Me Posted

Keep Me Posted

This epistolary novel centers around two sister who have fallen out of touch, somewhat predictably, as their lives have sharply diverged. Sid is a Luddite living in Singapore because of her husband's high-powered job; Cassie's made a life with her own family in New York City and is addicted to watching her friends' lives unfold on facebook. When Sid issues a challenge that they'll start communicating with real, old-fashioned letters, Cassie reluctantly agrees ... and they're both surprised at the world-rocking revelations they read on the page. This was a sweet and entertaining debut (although not G-rated for sure). If you enjoyed Janice Lee's recent release The Expatriates, definitely add this one to your list.

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The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

From the publisher: "Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood-where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned-Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted."

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

$13.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

Public shaming used to be a common punishment, but it was stopped long ago: not because it was ineffective, but because it was deemed far too cruel. But with the dawn of social media, public shaming is back in a big way, and it's being carried out by ordinary people. Ronson walks the reader through some recent examples of lives ruined over one public mistake: a fabricated quote in a book, one ill-considered tweet, one Facebook photo that went viral. This is one of the scariest books I've read in a long time, and I'm not saying that lightly. An important but uncomfortable read for anyone on social media, and that's most of us.

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