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

Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

This month I’ve read a few books I’ve been waiting on for ages, plus I finally got around to the amazing audio versions of two backlist titles.

Quick Lit 10/16
Gods in Alabama

Gods in Alabama

I've been meaning to read this for a while now and finally did it on audio, which is definitely the version I'd recommend for any Joshilyn Jackson novel. This one is part love story, part murder mystery, and pure Southern fiction. After spending ten years in Chicago, hiding from her past, Arlene returns home to face a secret she's been hiding since she fled town after high school, and introduce her black boyfriend to her racist mother. There's a lot of strong language and more than a few triggers, so do a little research before diving in if you're a sensitive type, but the author does it for a reason, to powerful effect. More info →
Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense

This was my Book of the Month pick for October. Usually I don't think the premise sells the book, but this one does: Julie was kidnapped from her own home when she was thirteen, and eight years later, the mystery is unsolved. Her family assumes the worst but can't be sure. Then one day, the doorbell rings, and it's Julie. But as she settles in to her new, old family, inconsistencies begin to emerge in her story. Why would she lie? Is it really her? I devoured this in one sitting on a recent Saturday afternoon. (I'm a happy, paying customer sharing my affiliate link. Plus the discount code MODERNMRSDARCY will get you 30% off a three-month membership plus a free tote. Enjoy!) More info →
The Trespasser

The Trespasser

This is the 6th and latest installment in French's Dublin Murder Squad series, and IT IS SO GOOD. I was nervous because I was so-so on #5 The Secret Place and I HATED Broken Harbor, but this might be her best yet. (No need to read this series in order: they're interconnected but don't progressively build.) This time French shines her spotlight on Antoinette Conway, who we first met in The Secret Place. Conway and her partner are assigned to work what appears at first glance to be an ordinary domestic dispute that ended badly, but the evidence makes her suspect there's a little more to it. As they investigate, they keep bumping up against obstacles from within their own squad. Riveting from start to finish. (It's a November book flight pick for the MMD Book Club.) More info →
The Story of a New Name: Neapolitan Novels, Book Two

The Story of a New Name: Neapolitan Novels, Book Two

This is the second of Ferrante's four Neapolitan novels. I read the first, My Brilliant Friend, back in early 2015 (when I went on a blind date with a book) and have been meaning to read the rest ever since. I finally decided to try book 2 on audio and it was amazing in that format. I liked the first book, but the second had me hanging on every word. And Ferrante writes an amazing cliffhanger ending so now I can't wait to move on to book 3. More info →
Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by the Co-Creator of the Whole30

Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by the Co-Creator of the Whole30

When Melissa started talking about the concept of food freedom forever, I really liked it, and am happy to say this book delivers. She shows you how you can have a healthy relationship with food for the rest of your life by sharing big picture concepts plus tons of granular tips so you can actually put the plan into action. The writing is strong, and funny, too. If you've ever done (or contemplated doing) a Whole30, this is a must read, but if you hate the idea of the strict 30 day play, she gives you other beneficial options. Highly recommended. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?


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  1. Ann says:

    You’ve mentioned Tana French before, so I think she’ll be next on my list! And gods in Alabama sounds intriguing. Thanks so much. (And thanks for the recommendation a few months back on Mr Penumbra! Loved that book.)

  2. You introduced me to Tana French, so of course The Trespasser was on my list this month – I think I was the first person on the hold list at the library! It WAS good! A little more coarse than the others, but it really just sucks you into the narrator’s mind. Good As Gone definitely sounds up my alley, will have to look up that one! Not that I need another all-consuming suspense novel on my nightstand 🙂

      • No, as Anne says, they are interconnected but stand alone. The Likeness was the first book I read and it is definitely a mind bender – but it left me needing to read the 1st one! They might have small references to previous novels, but you don’t need to have read them to understand the current story.

          • Mary Kate says:

            Everyone keeps saying they don’t need to be read in order, but I think you’re missing out if you don’t read them in the order they were published. You get a good amount of character and background info on each protagonist in the previous book that makes the story that much richer. The most potent examples of that are The Likeness–you’d be missing a ton on Cassie’s state of mind without having read In The Woods. And The Secret Place definitely benefits from knowing what happened with Frank and Stephen in Faithful Place. These books are so amazing, I just want everyone to get everything they can out of them 🙂

            And I loved The Trespasser, of course! I actually read it IN Dublin on vacation, which was a real treat 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    I’m thinking of choosing Tana French’s ‘In the Woods’ for my book club pick in a few months. I have been meaning to read this series FOREVER and it seems like a good way to give myself a deadline. BUT, based on your comment above, I’m wondering if there is a better one from that series to read – any recommendations? Or other mystery that would be good for discussion? Our book club hasn’t read a mystery before, but I’m a mystery lover (Galbraith, Penny, Winspear, Crombie — all favorites!).

  4. Stacey says:

    Good as Gone sounds really interesting. As a HSP (and mom), I sometimes have a hard time with stories about kidnappings. How would you rate this one on scale of intensity in that respect? Can’t wait to dig into some of these!

  5. Leggy says:

    I finally read “before the fall” and did not at all like the ending, I thought it ended abruptly and I was a little disappointed when the cause of the plane crash was revealed. Like they built it up and gave us the backgrounds of all these wealthy people and the cause just kinda felt like a let down to me.
    Read “where’d you go Bernadette?”, it was okay.
    Also finally read “sea biscuit”, absolutely phenomenal, I knew I was sold when I was getting mad and feeling bad for a dang horse!! Such a good recommendation. Wouldn’t have picked it up if not for you!
    I’m going to look into getting “good as gone” and I really need to take the plunge and read a tana French book because I’ve heard about it too much on podcasts.

    • Melisa says:

      I felt the same about Before the Fall, It was a good book but the ending was sort a sell out and unsatisfying. I liked Where’d you Bernadette. I listened to it on audio and I think that’s what made the difference. The narration was awesome. Loved Seabiscuit too!

  6. Lori says:

    I like the idea of listening to the Neopolitan Novels. I read the first and felt like I was missing what all the buzz was about. Currently reading Commonwealth. Up next: still deciding between “The Year of Living Danishly,” “The Tresspasser” or “The Secret History”

  7. Ann Perrigo says:

    Currently in the middle of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run. Are you surprised to learn that he has a way with words? This is fantastic–no mere listing of names and dates, but a deep exploration of who he is, where his songs come from, and the hard work it takes to become an “overnight” sensation. Highly recommended!

  8. Jeanne says:

    I read the Revenants trilogy (Amy Plum), based on a reader’s comment here. YA and supernatural, but a good read. And then I DEVOURED I let you go. So, so good. And although I didn’t think I was susceptible to triggers, the fact that my little boy is also 5 really hit me hard.

  9. Susan says:

    I don’t have a blog, so I’ll leave my recent reads in the comments. Since the beginning of September I’ve read the following:
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven (it didn’t live up to the hype, at least not for me)
    The War That Saved My Life – this is supposedly “middle grade fiction” and it’s an *incredible* book and I loved it, but abuse of the main character would stop me from reading it with kids younger than junior high.
    Present Over Perfect – I enjoyed this, even though I’m older than the “target audience”.
    The Light Between Oceans – hubby read a review in the WSJ of the movie, and wanted to read this book together! So we finished the book on October 5th, and the movie, which came out on September 2nd, was already gone from local theaters! We LOVED the book and will wait to see the movie on Netflix. 🙂

    • @Susan I think you’ll love The Light Between Oceans (movie). I did! I thought the actors were perfect picks, they were almost exactly what I had in mind when envisioning the characters in the book.

  10. Donna says:

    These all sounds so good, Anne! I tried reading the first Elena Ferrante novel last year, but I couldn’t get into it. Maybe I’ll give it another try soon.:)

    It’s been an amazing reading month for me so far!

    Earlier this week I flew through Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan in two days. It’s my pick for ‘a book I previously abandoned’ for the reading challenge. I tried reading it when it first came out years ago and got halfway through and had to stop reading. It was way too scary. I think it was just a case of wrong timing for me. I am soooo happy I finally read it straight through. It’s a gripping, well-told memoir and an incredible achievement as New York Post reporter Cahalan has no recollection of that month. She watched video footage from her time in hospital, read the journals her dad kept, and interviewed her doctors to reconstruct her lost month.

    A few days ago I read These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf. One of the librarians at my neighbourhood library recommended it. Lyrical, shocking, and I couldn’t stop reading. I read it in 8 hours.

    I’m currently reading I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe. My librarian also recommended this one. I started on Thursday night and I’m almost finished. This debut historical novel is inspired by the more than 250 women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. The story: Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband, Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up anyway, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Rosetta decides that her place is by her husband’s side so she cuts off her hair, dresses in shirt and pants, and volunteers as a Union soldier. Told in Rosetta’s powerful voice, this story gripped me from page one. It’s my favourite historical novel to date!

    Thanks again for all you do.:)

    • Ann Perrigo says:

      Yes,wasn’t Brain on Fire fantastic? I flew through it, too (a rarity for me, the world’s slowest reader…) and was so enthralled and horrified by her story!

  11. Dawn says:

    A couple of things I’ve read this month include 2 Barbara Kingsolver novels which were my first of hers. I read Flight Behavior and then Prodigal Summer. I enjoyed both of them but wouldn’t say I loved them.

    I read What She Knew in less than 2 days and loved it! I usually don’t do much suspense because I am an HSP. This was just right though.

    I read Before We Visit the Goddess yesterday afternoon and it was really good. I adore a good dysfunctional mother/daughter/grandmother story.

    Currently reading Super Better after a guest on WSIRN recommended it and it is fascinating.

    And like any good book obsessed person, my dresser has stacks that threaten to topple at any moment.

  12. Amy says:

    Huge Tana French fan and really liked The Trespasser. Just finished Jodie Picoult’s new release, Small Great Things, which deals with racism. She’s a mixed bag for me…still thinking about this one. Starting News of the World, a new release by Paulette Jiles. This one is about a Civil War captain who is tasked with getting an orphan to safety.

  13. Ellen Cole says:

    I read I Let You Go and really liked it. The major twist part way through had me flipping back pages and pages to see where I’d gone wrong! Well done. I just finished listening to The One-In-A-Million Boy (thank you Anne)…SO good. I’m partway through My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni. So far so good, but not completed yet.

  14. Emma M says:

    I didn’t realize there are already 6 books in the Dublin Murder Squad series! I just started the first this weekend, so it sounds like I better hurry up so I’m ready for November’s discussions!

  15. Jennifer N. says:

    Right now I’m reading “We are All Completely Beside Ourselves” and “The Legend of Huma” (a fantasy novel recommended by my husband for this year’s reading challenge). I’m also most of the way through the “Essentialism” audiobook. All three I am enjoying.

    I recently finished “I Let You Go,” which I LOVED and a southern historical fiction novel called “Mudbound” that I picked up at the thrift store on a whim. The writing was pretty good, but the characters are unforgettable. It’s one of those where you know the ultimate ending, but learning how the characters get there is worth the read.

  16. Melissa says:

    I just got Good as Gone from the library. I can’t wait to read it. I am on a thriller kick these days. I just finished the Woman in Cabin 10 and Missing Presumed.
    I’m not a huge Whole 30 fan, but you have me interested in Food Freedom. I may have to snag this book and read it!

  17. Britany says:

    So far this month I’ve finished:
    – After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman (ok-2 stars)
    – Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (great writing- just meh- 3 stars)
    – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (LOVE her on audio- 4 stars)
    – I did read Good As Gone by Amy Gentry- enjoyed it, but didn’t appreciate how the end was wrapped up. 3 Stars
    – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (loved- 4 stars)

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