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

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 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

And Now She’s Gone

And Now She’s Gone

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 →
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Fifty Words for Rain

Fifty Words for Rain

Author:
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 →
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The Searcher

The Searcher

Author:
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 →
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Fighting Words

Fighting Words

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 →
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Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind

Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind

Author:
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 →
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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author:
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 →
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Into the Drowning Deep

Into the Drowning Deep

Author:
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 →
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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. 

P.S. 12 feel-good fiction books you can read in an afternoon, plus 10 comforting classics to read after you run out of Jane Austen novels.

103 comments | Comment

103 comments

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  1. Thank you for all of these book recommendations, Anne! I can’t wait to read The Invisible Life of Addie Larue!look forward to this linkup every month because I love the HUNDREDS of bloggers who gather together.

    Please visit my Cozy Burrow to read about some of my favorite books from last month. I’m also sharing other highlights, including pictures from my notebooks and a few finished knitting projects.

    https://katiegilley.com/2020/10/06/september-2020-highlights/

  2. Georgia says:

    I just finished Sybelia Drive by Karin Cecile Davidson and loved it. It’s set in Florida during the Vietnam War and told from many perspectives but with two young girls at the heart of the book, as they grow up in the shadow of the war. I thought the characters were so distinct, plus it has a gorgeous cover, which never hurts.

  3. Mrs. Soule says:

    I read Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi this week and loved it! It was very creative and the best way I can describe it is as “adventure literary fiction.”

    • Sharon says:

      I just finished the Searcher and I really enjoyed it. It was well written and had an interesting plot. Don’t give up on Tana!

      • Sonja says:

        I also enjoyed the methodical and deliberate pace of this novel. Cal’s life experiences slowly were revealed and added to the building tension.

    • Anne says:

      Every reader is different, but I’m reluctant to recommend this to a young teen. (Though perhaps her Wayward Children series would be a good fit for that reader? Mira Grant is a pen name for Seanan McGuire, the name under which she wrote Wayward Children.)

  4. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” and “Into the Drowning Deep” both sound intriguing. I’m also a scaredy-cat so always looking for just the right level of scare this time of year.

    This month I’ve continued with Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series, reading “A Fatal Grace”. I also enjoyed “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne and “How to Pass as Human”, a graphic novel that I’m not quite certain was a “graphic” novel.

    https://lifesapearl.com/what-ive-been-reading-lately-october-quick-lit/

  5. Heather says:

    I picked up a book at the library called, “Twenty-one Truths about Love” by Matthew Dicks. The entire book is a journal of lists. At first I did not know what to think, but I quickly was swept into this brilliant, quirky, novel. I read it in a day! It is amazing how much you can discern from daily lists. I highly recommend this unique book!

  6. Leanne says:

    House Lessons by Erica Bauermeister; What Makes a Marriage Last by Marlo Thomas; The Growing Season by Sarah Frey; Keep Moving by Maggie Smith; Dusk Night Dawn by Anne Lamott; and I’ve just started Didn’t See That Coming by Rachel Hollis.

  7. Kara Lewis says:

    It’s so interesting to me that you liked Into the Drowning Deep. I love all things scary, and read lots of scifi, and I thought this was one of the most scary I’ve read! I’m a huge fan of Mira Grant, and if you liked this one, I highly recommend the Newsflesh series, starting with Feed. Very smart take on zombies, and, I think, extremely relevant to current times!

  8. Tracey Mitchell says:

    I’m also excited for Addie LaRue!
    And I’ve been looking forward to Quick Lit ever since I read One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London a few weeks ago. It’s about Bea, a plus size fashion blogger who becomes the next “main squeeze” (a fictional version of The Bachelorette). I was about as skeptical about reading this as Bea was about going on the show but I absolutely adored it and ate it up like candy. I’ve thought about it so much since! It’s smart and funny and just a perfect read for what I needed right now.

    I also loved Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson which I never would have picked up without the help of the summer reading guide and your show Anne! The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires was also a WSIRN rec that I enjoyed.

    Other hits this month were:
    -Seth Klein’s A Good War contrasting the World War II mobilization in Canada with the mobilization needed for the climate emergency. A seriously fascinating and activating read!
    -Amphibian by Carla Gunn, about a child struggling with climate grief and the inadequate responses he sees around him. It broke my heart a little that this was written in 2009 and things have only got worse since. A great read!
    -Memorial Drive by Natasha Tretheway about a daughter processing her mother’s murder more than 30 years later.
    -Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese about a young man connecting with his father for the first real time as his father dies.
    -84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff was a delightful pick me up book of letters between booksellers in the UK and a reader/writer in the US
    -Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera is a fun and nostalgic but also thoughtful YA novel about a young, queer, Puerto Rican woman learning about intersectional feminism, gender identity and love.

  9. Adrienne says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Addie LaRue! And I didn’t know there is a new Tana French book; it sounds so different from her Dublin series.
    I’ve been busier the past month, so have not has as much time for reading (*sad sigh*) but I did read some great books last month and had no stinkers. Here’s my list:
    * Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (Audiobook) – I found this to be a light, enjoyable read, although the ending was predictable. 4 stars
    * Across the Winding River by Aimie Runyan – This books has >4 star average review on GoodReads, and I really wanted to like it, but it just didn’t excite me at all. And there are some “coincidences” in the story that just stretch credibility a bit too far. The best part, in my opinion, was the relationship between Beth and her father, Max, but overall, I was bored. 3 stars
    * Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – This was so twisty and well done! It’s one of those books where you get to the end, and realize the twisted truth has been there all along, and you never really saw it. Don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but highly recommend this one. 5 stars
    * If I Were You (audiobook) by Lynn Austin – I loved both the main characters in this book, which follows their friendship from girlhood to adulthood against the backdrop of WWII. The audiobook narration was wonderful. 4 stars
    * Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue – Loved this story with its perspective on the experience of immigrants to the US. I got a glimpse into a world completely different from my own, and that’s one of the reasons I love to read. 5 stars
    * The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon – Another story that showed me a totally different world, that of American Expats living in Jordan. The description of the book makes it seem like a mystery/thriller, and I didn’t see the book that way at all. There is no big twist nor great mystery solved, just the unfolding of a series of events. 4 stars

    My current reads are Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (I’m about 25% done and loving this book), One Day in December by Josie Silver (listening to this on audiobook during my walks), and I just picked up The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult and One by One by Ruth Ware from the library.
    Happy Reading!

    • Carol Quan says:

      I am reading Evvie Drake Starts Over now. I need to read some lighter stuff while I listen to Know My Name, which is gut-wrenching.

  10. Katie says:

    September was ok. I think the only book I really loved was Fable by Adrienne Young. I’m looking forward to picking up the new Stuart Turton – The Devil in the Dark Water!

  11. Amapola says:

    84, Charing Cross Road in audiobook by Helen Hanff,
    The Woman Next Door in audiobook by Yewande Omotoso – I couldn’t put it down.
    Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha – a great read.
    The Seagull by Ann Cleeves – Vera is always great company.
    Leaving the World Behind by Rumaan Alam – did not enjoy it.
    A Burning by Megha Majumdar – unfinished

    • Lindsay says:

      84, Charing Cross Road is in my Top 3 books of all time. I love it so much! p.s. I finished A Burning, mostly because I wanted to know what happened, but I did not end up liking it (for reasons I won’t get into here – no spoilers!). I ended up rating it 2/5 stars.

    • Anne says:

      I just recorded a podcast episode this morning with a guest who loved Your House Will Pay! I didn’t know much about it before. So glad you enjoyed it.

  12. Debbie says:

    I was the first person on the hold list at my library for Addie LaRue and was so excited to read it, sadly, it didn’t work for me. I grew bored with it and struggled to finish it. I really wanted to like it!
    I’m currently reading & enjoying two books: The Once and Future Witches and Dorothy Day:Dissenting Voice of the American Century.

  13. A book that will easily be one of my favorites of 2020 – THE BRILLIANT LIFE OF EUDORA HONEYSETT by Annie Lyons. Absolutely loved it! Can’t stop thinking about it!

    I already have FIGHTING WORDS on my nightstand from the library, and I’m on hold for ADDIE LARUE. Definitely going to check out INTO THE DROWNING DEEP – sounds intriguing!

  14. Erica DiBella says:

    I am still working through the books that I wanted to read from the Summer Reading Guide!
    Intimations by Zadie Smith–an essay collection that I listened to on audio, loved hearing Smith’s voice!
    In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer Fleming–a mystery set in upstate NY with the unlikely yet truly endearing partnership of a female priest and the town’s police chief. Thanks, Anne, for putting it on the Summer Reading Guide! I now want to read the entire series!
    The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez–a fun romance that really had me rooting for both characters!
    Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev–I loved Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors so I was excited to read this one and it didn’t disappoint.
    Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn–another romance. Loved it!
    Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia–loved this atmospheric novel set in 1950’s Mexico City!
    Just finished In Waves by AJ Dungo. It’s a graphic novel about love, loss, and surfing. It’s tender, spare, and beautiful. Now I wish I knew how to surf!

  15. Susan says:

    I’m currently listening to Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, by Rebekah Taussig. It’s a series of memoir-type essays about her life as a paralyzed child, then adult.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve had this on my kindle for a little while now but haven’t started it yet! I’m looking forward to it, and am glad to hear you’re enjoying the audio version.

  16. Melissa says:

    I loved Addie LaRue, too! I’ve also read and loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and The Midnight Library. I’m working on A Deadly Education now, then I can’t wait to get to And Now She’s Gone (written by a friend of mine!) and Leave the World Behind.

    • Hey,Anne! How you doin’, girl? Fifty Words for Rain sounds good as does the one by V.E. Schwab. I’m reading:
      The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber. It’s basically about a sex worker’s rise from rags to riches.
      I’m also reading The Story of O by Pauline Réage which I think is about a dom/sub relationship???
      Lastly, I’m finishing The Neighbors series by Mary Monroe. The last installment is called Across The Way. It’s abouta bootlegger couple in the 1940s who con however they can to get by. They make frenemies with their well to do neighbors whom they’re jealous of. But how far will their jealousy and criminal enterprise take them? How far will they go to keep the hustle going?
      Enjoy your reads!!!

  17. Beth Gross says:

    I just re-read Peace Like a River for the third time. Definitely by new favorite novel.

    I’m also in the middle of two Elizabeth Goudge books that I’m enjoying, The Rosemary Tree and Child of the Sea.

    On my blog I listed Books Like Pride and Prejudice, because sometimes you just need to read about swishing skirts.

  18. Julie Carpenter says:

    I enjoyed The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee. It’s a story of a young girl’s life in North Korea, her amazing story of escape and the remaking of her life. While it is a sad account, the story was interesting and heartwarming. It showed a glimpse of what it is like to live in a Communist society in the 21st century.

  19. Lisa says:

    I devoured Addie LaRue, and now I almost want to read it again to pick up any details I may have missed in my race through the first time.

    I have started Fifty Colors of Rain, and I adore it. Thank you Anne, you’re the best!

  20. Anne Simpson says:

    In September, I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which I did not enjoy as much as I thought I would.

    I also read Caroline: Little House, Revisited, which was a retelling of Little House on the Prairie from the mom’s perspective. I found it fascinating and I felt the author did a great job of getting into Caroline’s mind and really being her in an authentic way.

    I also enjoyed The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah Eden. It was a unique story-within-a-story in a Victorian setting, and did not take itself too seriously. A fun read!

  21. Liesl says:

    This past month, I’ve finished/read:
    – The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos – I LOOOOVE this series. This is the new translation of the third book, and I am eagerly waiting for the fourth!
    – The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan – I didn’t love this one, I wasn’t a fan of the format (which is all letters and emails).
    – Roommaid by Sariah Wilson – This was a cute and sweet romance; I enjoyed it!
    – Well Played by Jen DeLuca – this is the second in the Well Met series. I enjoy the story but don’t love the open door romance, so warning for that.
    – Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – this is in progress, I am struggling to read it so it’s slow going!

    • Kara says:

      I agree that Mansfield Park can be a bit slow. Have you read Northanger Abbey? I remember enjoying it more, though my favorite Austen work will always be Persuasion.

    • Cindy Hogan says:

      I like that “every 5 years” category. I always enjoy reading Harry Potter and that sounds like the perfect series for this category. Thanks for the idea!

  22. Kate says:

    I just read The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep – loved it with all of its literary references. I highly recommend it. I also read Wuthering Heights, thinking it would be a good, creepy read for October. It was enjoyable, though not as eerie as I thought. Glad I read it, but won’t need to reread anytime soon. the Addie LaRue is next on my list, along with His Truth is Marching On about the late John Lewis.

  23. Mariah Hanley says:

    I’m reading The Girl in the Mirror (October BOTM book), re-listening to The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen (one of my all time favorite books with excellent narration), The Roommate (just started it, wanted something light) and trying but failing to make my way through A People’s History of the United States. I don’t have the focus necessary to make it through right now.

    After reading romance books throughout the summer, I’ve been gravitating towards mysteries or thrillers. I picked up Then She Was Gone, I Am Watching You, and The Wives at the bookstore the other day. I also got The Invisible Life of Addie Larue.

    Picked up a LOT of books during Prime Day Kindle sales. I’d like to say no regrets, but it’s more like only minimal regret. 😉

  24. Sara Bell says:

    Last night I finished Before we were Yours by Lisa Wingate- still sobbing inside. So sad but so we’ll done!

    I share lots of (mostly Christian) recent reads on my Instagram, @authorskbell, and now on my new Christian book podcast!

  25. Carol Quan says:

    Loved your list! I might have to add some to my tbr, but will have to pass on the ones with child abuse and even light horror🐔.
    My favorites that I have read recently are Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. I recently finished Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, which was only a 2-star for me. I really didn’t like the characters to much or the ending. I am listening to Know My Name by Chanel Miller, which is excellent!

  26. Cindy Hogan says:

    There were so many people recommending the Addie LaRue book, I just had to see if I could get it from the library. It seems that it is only available in audio format. I am the 5th person on the hold list so I guess I’ll go with that.

  27. Ellen W says:

    I added Addie LaRue to my library list yesterday after hearing Jamie Golden give it a green light – I think I’ve liked just about every books she suggests. I just finished Transcendent Kingdom and it will be in my top 5 books for the year.

  28. kristen says:

    I just finished my Modern Mrs Darcy Book Challenge this week (I joined late) and this week I read the following:
    Burn by Patrick Ness – Loved it considering I am not a YA or Fantasy reader and it is both
    Neverwhere- Neil Gaimon Again out of my comfort zone
    The Mountains Wild- Sarah Stewart Taylor would definitely recommend! A great mystery set mostly in Ireland.

  29. Terri Bee says:

    I spent 2 days reading a very hyped book and I wish I could get those days back! The book is LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND and can some explain the last 1/4 to me? Don’t get it, very disappointed. Perfect movie script though which it is.

  30. KT says:

    I read Normal People–I can see why it’s a big deal but what a horrible book all the same. Read A Deadly Education and mildly enjoyed it, though I prefer Novik’s other books, I think. I will probably continue the series, though. I also very much enjoyed a little teenage romance called By The Book – it’s squeaky clean and the bookish heroine is not obnoxious.

    Currently reading The Hunger Games, Ten Blind Dates, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop, and Rebecca!

  31. Mary Lou says:

    Thank you for these recommendations. They sound really good. This morning, I finished Long Bright River by Liz Moore. It is absolutely beautiful. It’s the story of two sisters – one a cop and the other an addict. Then the addict goes missing, and her sister is very worried and desperately trying to find her. It would be a disservice to say any more. This book is full of surprises, and it’s best to go into it not knowing very much. I unfortunately have an addict in my family, and I know from personal experience that this book is true to life. It is totally engrossing and deeply moving.

  32. Emma says:

    I had so many four-star reads this month; I must be becoming more discerning in my reading! Three Aussie authors too. We have such a wonderful publishing industry here.

    *The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert
    *The Nowhere Child – Christian White
    *Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo
    *Flyaway – Kathleen Jennings
    *The Rain Heron – Robbie Arnott

    That last one really blew me away. It was recommended by a librarian at my local library and I can’t wait to thank her. Is it possible to live so completely in a book that you miss it when it’s over?

  33. Terry says:

    I have recently finished two excellent audiobooks:
    Intimations by Zadie Smith
    The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper.
    I also read Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien (5 stars)
    Currently reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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