What I’ve been reading lately: new and notable.

Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I share short and sweet reviews of what I’ve been reading lately, and invite you to do the same.

This past month I’ve been focusing on books that came out at the end of 2014 or the very beginning of 2015.

The Day the Angels Fell

The Day the Angels Fell


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 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 Life Intended

The Life Intended

I hinted at this book in the post in the waiting room; now that it's actually on bookstore shelves I can say a bit more. The publisher calls this Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You: the premise is far-fetched, but it's supposed to be. 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. More info →
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 Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect


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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What have YOU been reading lately?

What I've been reading lately: new and notable books that are getting tons of buzz.

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  1. Keely says:

    I’ve been perusing your past Summer Reading Guides and pulling out novels. I read The Invention of Wings (LOVED) and will probably finish The Funeral Dress (Also liking a lot) today or tomorrow. I started I Capture the Castle and while I was really enjoying it, I ran out of time and had to return it to the library because someone else had it on hold. I’ll try again. 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    The Life Intended sounds like a great book! Normally, I would stay away from anything like P.S. I Love You because I stand the tears, but if it won’t make me cry, then that sounds great!

  3. Breanne says:

    I totally agree with your thoughts on The Rosie Efffect, I kept checking to see how many pages I had left and wondered where on earth the storyline was going.

    And I’ve picked up The Miniaturist a couple times at the book store, liking the cover more then anything else and now I think I’ll skip it.

  4. Krystal Griffin says:

    Aw, that’s so disappointing to hear about the Rosie Effect! I was really hoping it would have the same feel and quality as the first one.

  5. Bridget says:

    I recently read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I didn’t think I would like it but a friend strongly recommended it. I’m so glad I read it. The book deals with the uncomfortable topic of suicide, but it is so much more. It really brings to life how the little interactions we have with others really do make a big difference in each others lives.

  6. Kristen says:

    Oh, I’m so disappointed to hear The Rosie Effect isn’t nearly as good as The Rosie Project. I read The Rosie Project because of your recommendation, and I loved it. Greenglass House sounds like a lot of fun–I might have to check that one out. Thanks for these reviews!

  7. Dana says:

    I am reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It is fantasy in the vein of Tolkein or Terry Brooks. I read fantasy only when I find a really compelling story. So much is just poorly done. This one is good…it is part one of a trilogy.
    Also reading How We Got to Now…very interesting non-fiction about how certain developments in science/technology changed the world.
    I just ordered Greenglass House from Amazon, Anne, based on your recommendations.
    I will probably wait on the Rosie Effect because I am hearing so much of the same comments as yours. I so loved the Rosie Project and was hopeful for the new book. Maybe I will wait until it shows up at the used bookstore and I can use my credit for it….
    I recently finished A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. I did not care for it that much. There were moments of stunning prose but the story just did not hang together well. It was disappointing.

  8. Sara K. says:

    So far this year I have read:

    Forever Liesl: A Memoir of The Sound of Music by Charmian Carr. I enjoyed this behind the scenes look at the making of the movie. I was inspired to read it after reading As you Wish (Princess Bride) just after Christmas.

    Hello Love by Karen McQuestion. This is a sweet little love story. Nothing truly compelling but likeable characters.

    Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. This was an entertaining mystery. I liken it to a combination of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia novels with a splash of Agatha Christie setting.

  9. Jamie says:

    I just finished “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. I loved it! So beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s one that will stick with me for awhile for sure.

    I’m so bummed to hear that about the Rosie sequel. I was so looking forward to it

  10. Aisling says:

    Just finished Big Little Lies!! I couldn’t put it down! Very engaging! Just started Paper Towns by John Greene. So far so good!

  11. Kendra says:

    Just finished Swamplandia! on audio and Yes, Please. Right now I’m listening to To Kill a Mockingingbird read by Sissy Spacek! Lovely!) and for book group I am going to read The Gifts of Imperfection. For our Mother-Daughter book group we are reading Halfway to the Sky (not to be confused with Half the Sky….these are sixth grade girls.) Its about a young girl who runs away due to big upheavals in her family and walks the Appalachian Trail.

  12. Alison S. says:

    I just picked up The Rosie Effect this week from my library. Now you have me questioning if I should bother reading it. Thoughts? 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Your call. If I read my own review I probably would have read it anyway–the curiosity would have killed me! Just because I loved the first one so much.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I really enjoyed Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay. I read it in two days and loved the development of the relationship between those two sisters. A must read if you liked her other book, Dear Mr. Knightly.

  14. liz n. says:

    Lol, I’m hardly reading anything new or notable…more like old and quotable, for lack of a better rhyme. Recently finished “At Bertram’s Hotel” (Christie) and “The Complaint of Peace” (Erasmus), and am now about a third of the way through “The Triumph of the Holy See” (Holmes). I know…an odd combination!

  15. Jeanne says:

    I just finished The Sea of Tranquility, which I liked a lot. Read Last night at the Ritz earlier in the week and the narrator is sticking with me, really loved the style of the writing and then lastly, Persuasion (finally?!) which I loved!

    I had the Rosie Effect lined up as my next read, but think I’ll just skip that for now.

  16. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for your reviews, particularly on The Rosie Effect. Isn’t it often the way: a writer just hits the sweet spot with some original idea or character and can’t possibly duplicate it.

  17. I am continually amazed at how many books you read! You inspire me to up my game for reading. So thank you so much!
    Also, have you ever read The Art of Racing in The Rain? If not, I highly recommend it, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

  18. Vanessa says:

    Ha! I started listening to The Miniaturist (I was so looking forward to it because the description sounded so good), and I gave up about three chapters in. Just wasn’t feeling it in the slightest.

  19. Donna says:

    Great post, Anne! I was wondering about The Miniaturist. I’d read a bunch of reviews saying it wasn’t a satisfying read. Thanks for the honest review. I’ll take that one off my list.
    I am here reading Cutting For Stone. It’s a bit of a slow read but I am enjoying it so far.
    My next read is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I’ve discovered so many great reads coming out this year. About to post it on the blog so check it out!

  20. Cassie says:

    I felt the same way about The Rosie Effect, some aspects of the game were pretty cringe-worthy. The Miniaturist could have taken a wonderfully fun turn, but (sigh) it did not. I enjoyed it none-the-less. The Day the Angels Fell sounds wonderful! Gaiman and L’Engle! It is made for my face!

  21. Heather DB says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the Rosie books. I was very disappointed with #2. Oh well.. not all sequels can be great!

  22. Kayris says:

    I’m reading The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks by Bruce Feldman. Super interesting. And I just finished Patricia Cornwell’s latest, Flesh and Blood and it was much better than her past several books. I gave it a 3 on goodreads, which is a huge step up from the 1 star that I gave to Dust.

  23. Kelli Bullock says:

    I just finished Cinder, Scarlet and Cress. I loved them and I can’t believe that I have to wait almost a year for the last book.

    Also read my book originally written in another language Jungle Child. Great story of a young girl’s life growing up in Indonesia among a stone age tribe.

    Moving on to Unbroken and the sequel to The 100.

  24. Anne says:

    Wah to all the bad reviews of The Rosie Effect. 🙁 I reviewed Peace Like a River this month, and I wonder if any of you would agree with my quick thought on Swede, one of the characters.

  25. Morgan says:

    Recently finished:
    The Harem Midwife- loved
    The Husband’s Secret- liked
    The Lonesome Gods- blergh
    The Happiness Project- meh
    The Bell Jar- appreciated
    Millbank- loved
    Gift from the Sea- savored
    Wuthering Heights- loved
    The Signature of All Things- liked

    Currently reading:
    Jane Eyre
    The Book Thief
    As I Lay Dying
    Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

  26. Nolo says:

    I want to show a little love to The Rosie Effect. Yes, it isn’t as good as the first. But it is a funny book about a man whose life has gotten bigger because of the changes in his life brought about by the The Rosie Project. Some parts of the book made me laugh out loud, more than the first one did. Improbable parts of the story? Sure. But not a book that should be completely dismissed.

    As an aside, I highly recommend The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband. A loose description would be to say it is a non-fiction version of the main character in the Rosie books.

  27. Brenda Klassen says:

    2015 has been off to a good start. I have read:
    1) The Art of Deception by Nora Roberts * very quick read.
    2) Andrew’s brain by E. L. Doctorow * very interesting to listen to.
    3) Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella * new author for me, interesting story.
    4) The Traitors Wife by Allison Pataki * read for a Book Club & can’t wait to discuss.

  28. I felt the same way about The Miniaturist! I read it over the weekend, and I thought I would enjoy it more than I did. It was a compelling story, but I don’t feel like she ever answered how? or why?, which was very frustrating. I have the Rosie Effect on my list, but I’m currently hopping between Life after Life (kicking myself for taking this long to read it), and In the Heart of the Sea.

  29. Johanna says:

    As to Rosie Effect: Yes, exactly! You summarized it so accurately: cringing and crying where I had been laughing in the Rosie Project. I love your blog so much.

  30. Amy says:

    Adding “The Day the Angels Fell” to my list – sounds like it could be a good one to read & have “virtual book club” with my goddaughter. I gave her The Giver Quartet for Christmas & she can’t wait for me to finish reading it all so we can discuss it. I’m so looking forward to book discussions with her!

    The Rosie Effect is on my list – but will probably drift down a bit. “Lizzy & Jane” was under the tree and I’m looking forward to reading it soon. I seem to be alternating between the fiction & the non fiction that was under the tree for me.

  31. Stacey says:

    Thank you as always for being my motivation to collect my monthly books! My oldest is reading The Hunger Games right now and she has so many questions that I am working my way through the series again. It’s one of those times that I’m thankful for my questionable memory because a lot of it is ‘new again’. Disturbing story but I still admire Suzanne Collins imagination!

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