Quick Lit September 2019
Summer of ’69

Summer of ’69

Hilderbrand's new summer release, out in June, marks the first time she's written historical fiction, and the first time I've read one of her novels as an audiobook. The Levin family's life is thrown into upheaval during the landmark summer of '69, when instead of retreating en masse to the family home in Nantucket, they're spread out all over—to Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Vietnam, as they're forced to deal with the changing world and their own rapidly changing lives. I'll admit to reading ahead to make sure one character got her happy ending—and I NEVER do that! Don't miss the dedication on this one. More info →
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The Secrets We Kept: A Novel

The Secrets We Kept: A Novel

The story behind this historical thriller could launch its own novel, which is just one reason this book earned a dedicated bonus episode of One Great Book. Lara Prescott has always loved the book Dr Zhivago, and was stunned—along with the rest of the world—when the CIA declassified documents revealing that it had played a role in the book's covert publication and distribution in Russia during the Cold War. This is Prescott's imagining of what that might have looked like. The story moves between East, where the focus is on Pasternak and his muse/mistress, and West, where readers get to know the female spies of the OSS. The book has the feel of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress, with some of the storytelling flavor of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, or Brit Bennet’s The Mothers. More info →
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Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know

I read the Advanced Listening Copy of this new release, just out September 10, which turned out to be a fortuitous coincidence: the book is designed to be read in the audio format. “Think of this as an audiobook with the polish of a well-produced podcast,” Gladwell says in the intro. The title struck me as whimsical, but I quickly realized the tone and content of this book are somber: Gladwell seeks to examine why our interactions with strangers may go terribly wrong, drawing on examples of ruinous miscommunication such as Neville Chamberlain's misplaced trust in Adolf Hitler, Larry Nassar's crimes at Michigan State, and Sandra Bland's tragic traffic stop, which bookends this book. More info →
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A Better Man: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

A Better Man: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

I marched myself to the bookstore to snatch this up bright and early on release date, and was not disappointed. There's a lot happening in this new installment: a pregnant woman goes missing during a record-breaking flood, and the Sureté itself is in turmoil, thanks to ongoing corruption and power struggles. I thought this was one of the better Gamache books in recent memory. (And yes, I'm sorry to say, if you're new to the series, do yourself a favor and start at the beginning.) More info →
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Playing House (Uptown Book 1)

Playing House (Uptown Book 1)

When I found out there was a new novel that featured two urban planners falling in love, you can bet I was all over it: I'm fascinated by urban planning, yet this topic never comes up in fiction! In this short book—just over 100 pages—two professional planners get to know each other by touring homes all over NYC's Uptown. I so enjoy a book that makes me google locations, and this one had me searching for Strivers' Row and Forest Hills Gardens. This was fast and fun, but take note: this book was spicier (that is, more open-door) than I'm typically comfortable with. More info →
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