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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Armada

Armada

Cline's 2012 sci-fi novel Ready Player One was a surprise hit—the kind of story I'm so happy I found but never thought I'd enjoy. I listened to the audio version of this.

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The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

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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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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Modern Lovers

Modern Lovers

$16.00$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

I unsuccessfully tried to get my hands on this one to vet it for the Summer Reading Guide, even though I wasn't wild about her 2014 novel The Vacationers. Her new novel is about what unfolds amongst a tight-knit group of friends from college, now nearing 50, over the course of one hot Brooklyn summer. Publication date May 31 2016.

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A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 7)

A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 7)

Author:
Series: Best novels of 2015
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

Penny's mysteries are alternately centered in the cozy village of Three Pines and the wider world. For this excellent follow-up to the game-changing Bury Your Dead, Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines to solve a murder that's intimately tied to the world of fine art. The story is built around the concept of chiaroscuro—the contrast between dark and light that's significant in some artists' works, and in all our natures. It may sound obtuse, but Penny probes with a light hand. It works.

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A Window Opens: A Novel

A Window Opens: A Novel

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

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.

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A Share in Death

A Share in Death

If you're all caught up on Penny and Galbraith novels, try this engaging series of Scotland Yard police procedurals. This first installment reminds me of Dorothy Sayers: detective Duncan Kincaid happens to be vacationing at his posh cousin's time share when a body is found in the resort pool. The local detectives rule suicide, but Kincaid is certain there's more to the story. As the series progressives, the police work is only half the content: Crombie devotes considerable ink to her detectives' personal dramas and romantic entanglements as well. Get caught up this summer so you're ready for book #17 Garden of Lamentations, though its release date has (sniff) been pushed back to February 17, 2016. Highly recommended for mystery-loving Anglophiles.

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You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 9/16
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

A new nail-biter from Thriller Award winner Abbott is always news. She's best known for The Fever, a book I've been meaning to read for ages. I know her by reputation, though I haven't yet read her work, and was surprised to hear her forthcoming novel is focused on an elite teen gymnast, a tragedy that rocks her training facility, and the subsequent unraveling of everything the characters thought they knew about each other. Add Audible narration for $12.99. Publication date July 26 2016.

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Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World
After You: A Novel

After You: A Novel

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.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel

I began this immediately after finishing the wonderful audio version of the author's previous work. Backman's second novel follows the adventures of a 7-year-old named Elsa, whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending the young girl on a scavenger hunt with weighty implications. Whimsical and engaging.

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The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden

The action in this new suspenseful novel centers around a beautiful private communal garden in London. Most of the neighbors have lived there for years and trust each other implicitly; one family felt lucky to find their new flat when they were displaced from their home after a tragic fire. In the prologue, one of these new neighbors, 12-year-old Grace, is found in a corner of this supposedly idyllic garden, injured and unconscious after a neighborhood party. Jewell flashes back in time to introduce us to all the neighbors, and we discover much to mistrust as we try to figure out what happened to Grace. I read this as a Summer Reading Guide contender, and while it held my attention, it wasn't a favorite. Published June 7, 2016.

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We Never Asked for Wings

We Never Asked for Wings

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Like many of you, I'd been anxiously awaiting a second novel from The Language of Flowers author Diffenbaugh. This standalone deftly weaves together tricky topics like immigration law, biology, and teen parenthood. Gorgeous prose, heartwarming story, likable characters.

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Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing

Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing

$9.99$0.99

Writers of faith will appreciate this straight-talking guide to the ins and outs of the industry, as well as how to save your soul (and your sanity) from the unusual demands of the writing life.

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Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick lit 1/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

I've been meaning to read this book for years: it's been highly recommended by readers with great taste. But it wasn't until my family started volunteering at our church's food pantry that it vaulted to the top of my list. I knew our church began the food pantry BECAUSE of Sara Miles's visit to the church a few years ago, and after reading her inspiring story, I understand why her enthusiasm for community food pantries is contagious. A compelling spiritual memoir. Add Audible narration for $3.99.

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