Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of the month.
I’ve had another heavy reading month, and it was once again tough to narrow down my monthly reading to any kind of manageable list.
Today’s list features a nice variety of mostly new releases, including mystery, middle grade, fantasy, literary fiction, and even a sci-fi/horror novel. (That one was a big stretch for me, but as you’ll see I really enjoyed it.)
This is just a sampling of the books I’ve read since our last round of Quick Lit. If you’re interested in hearing more about my recent reads, I highly recommend tuning into my podcast What Should I Read Next. In a show about books, I can’t help but discuss my current reading.
I can’t wait to hear about your recent reads in comments.
What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable
Alternating between past and present, this fast-paced twisty mystery weaves two women's stories together. We follow private investigator Grayson Sykes as she searches for missing woman Isabel Lincoln. With every new clue Grayson picks up, she realizes that this isn't a simple missing persons case—and she and Isabel might have a lot in common. This thriller is full of jaw-dropping moments, and the format gripped me from the beginning. In addition to the page-turning investigation, this is a story of survival. Please note: this story involves domestic abuse and heavy themes. More info →
Do you ever sit down with a book you're not really in the mood for ... and then get completely swept up in the story, wondering how you could ever NOT wanted to read it? That was me with this book. In the opening pages, Nori's mother drops her at her aristocratic grandparent's doorstep with a small suitcase and a note. Nori has never met these grandparents. To them, Nori represents only shame, because she was born out of wedlock to their married daughter and an African American GI. Their treatment of Nori is appalling; she's rarely allowed out of her room. But then one day her half-brother Akira comes to live on their estate, and when he shows Nori the faintest glimmer of love and friendship, her solitary world begins to crack open. A heartbreaking and beautiful coming of age story, though I didn't get the ending I wanted or hoped for. More info →
I've read every Tana French novel to date, yet I was NERVOUS to pick this one up because the critical reviews ... are not good. And then nothing happened for the first 125 pages. I did enjoy it well enough in the end, but it's certainly different in feel than her Dublin Murder Squad books. French calls The Searcher "her version of a Western," and for the first time, her protagonist is American—a retired Chicago cop who quit the force when he began to doubt his own moral code, and wanted to move far away to start over in a small Irish village. This is also the first time she's written in the third person, and as a writer, I enjoyed noting how that affects the telling. If you're looking for a gripping novel that won't let you go, this isn't it. But for careful prose from a seasoned writer, and an especially interesting 13-year-old character, this may be worth picking up. More info →
I adored Bradley's most recent historical novels, The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, and I've long been looking forward to reading more of her work. This new middle grade novel just came out in August, and while the contemporary story is a departure from her previous historical novels, past readers will spot common themes and familiar character types. 10-year-old Della promises us at the beginning of the book that she's going to tell us a whole story, and that some parts are hard. They sure are. This story powerfully and sensitively addresses child sexual abuse; triggers abound, of course, but Bradley deftly handles her tough subject matter, and explains in a heartfelt author's note why it was so important for her to write it. More info →
I've enjoyed Jacobs's compact nonfiction works like The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction over the years. Though short, I find myself reading these books in small bites, a few pages at a time. In this new release, he argues for the importance of reading old books, both to increase our "personal density" and to better understand and appreciate our present moment. He also explores how to approach these old books, which were often written with an entirely different worldview. The title comes from W. H. Auden, who once wrote that "art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead." More info →
I read and enjoyed my advance review copy ages ago, and I'm so glad it's finally here! The story begins in France, 1714: a girl is running for her life. She's been warned to never pray to the gods that answer after dark, but she's desperate to escape an unwanted marriage—and so makes a deal with the devil. In doing so, she gains immortality—but only slowly does she realize that she's given up the possibility that anyone will remember her, ever. Not her legacy, her existence, or even her name. Over the next 300 years, she learns to work within the confines of her curse, moving through a world where she cannot leave a mark. Until one day, in a Manhattan bookstore (it's called The Last Word, and boasts a bookstore cat named Book), she encounters a beat-up copy of Homer's Odyssey and a man who offers her the kind of hope she hasn’t felt for 300 years. An imaginative, absorbing, genre-busting read sure to land on my personal best-of-the-year list. More info →
As a confirmed scaredy-cat I was afraid to pick up this sci-fi/horror novel, but a couple of readers I trust told me I could probably handle it. They were right. Here's the deal: Mermaids are real, but they are not like Ariel. Some researchers believe this with their whole heart and have made studying these mermaids, or sirens, their life's work. Others are deeply skeptical, but regardless what camp they're in, a huge swath of the scientific community isabout to set sail on another voyage to the Mariana Trench, a follow-up to a voyage seven years earlier ended in tragedy with everyone on board lost at sea. No one is exactly sure why; skeptics called the whole thing a hoax. Both the siren skeptics and the true believers are about to discover mermaids are very real—and it will be a miracle if anyone gets out of there alive. More info →
What have YOU been reading lately? Tell us about your recent reads—or share the link to a blog or instagram post about them—in comments.