June 2017 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

The weather has been very rainy, but I'm starting to get a few chances to do summery things like read outside by the fire. I haven't even bought our pool pass yet, but I'm looking forward to reading by the water soon.

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk -- I really liked losing myself in this long book about a family on the cusp on World War II. I'll admit to skimming some parts about military history though. Beware if you read this; it ends on a cliff hanger. Don't do it unless you want to commit to the doorstop of a sequel as well.

Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger -- I would describe this book as thought provoking. There's so much there about today's veterans and their families, marriage, motherhood, and life.

Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods -- This was a good travelogue about the National Parks. It's not a I did this and then I did that kind of book. It's a this is what the parks mean to me kind of book.

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan -- This short book was good, but I wish I had read it around Christmas time.

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September Quick Lit

Summer reading season always ends too quickly...

Summer reading season always ends too quickly...

It's mid-September, and I think we can all agree summer reading time is over. Here's what I read in the last few carefree weeks of summer.

I'm not sure what to think about The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng. The subject, WWII, was brutal, but the cadence of the book was soothing. This is the first book I added to my TBR when I started my LibraryThing account. Now that I finally read it I'm sure it will stay with me for a long, long time.

I read Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume in order to fill in a few blanks for some reading challenges. I'm glad I took the time, because this book is still a masterpiece. I was the same age as my son is now when I first read this book, and re-reading it this summer brought back a lot of my 3rd grade feelings. It was a timely reminder.

Walking With Plato by Gary Hayden tells the story of a walk. He reads and he thinks as he goes, and this book is a simple yet satisfying unpacking of his thoughts. He wasn't trying to write a book as he set off, and the reader gets a much better story for it. This was a five star read for me, and may end up as my favorite of the year.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin made me want to drop everything and read Truman Capote books all day and night. I had no idea that this was a fictional retelling of his relationships with the Fifth Avenue elite until I started, and it was such a lovely surprise. Sometimes when you pick a book by its cover it works out for you.

Brush Back by Sara Paretsky is the latest V.I. Warshawski novel. It's not the greatest in the series, but it was still worth reading. True story - when I was finally allowed to take books out of the adult section of my local public library growing up I randomly grabbed one of the first V.I. mysteries, and I haven't stopped reading them since.

Walking The Amazon by Ed Stafford was another book about walking -kind of a theme for me lately. This was a solid adventure story. It wasn't the best written of the bunch, but it was enough to make you want to run away from home and do something crazy.

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

Note: links to amazon.com are affiliate links. thanks for your support!

July Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

DC Metro has decided to make up for years of delayed repairs by doing them all at once this summer. That means they are just shutting down certain areas of track for weeks at a time leaving a whole city to scramble when it comes time to get to work. I'm learning the city's bus system, and getting in some extra reading time while I wait for unfamiliar modes of public transportation to arrive. July 2016 might be a record breaking reading month for me!

If I had just picked up Eligible as a Curtis Sittenfeld fan I would have hated the horribly bigoted characters. However, since I knew it was a play on Pride and Prejudice I kind of found the whole thing amusing and impressive. This book doesn't stand alone like Bridget Jones does, but as a Jane Austen re-write it's kind of cute. I loved that Mary got a chapter at the end of the book. 

Home Field by Hannah Gersen is billed as a book fans of Friday Night lights will enjoy. I've never watched Friday Night Lights, but I know enough people who have to know this book would appeal to me. It's one of those books that tells the story of nice people who are trying to do their best in a really tough situation. The ending was just about perfect. (Note: review based on an ARC I received from Library Thing.)

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell was entertaining - we all would like a world where Bronte descendants were reported on about as much as the Kardashians in this world wouldn't we? Another book with a perfect ending, this was well worth the read, though if I had to do it again I would wait and curl up with it on a cold winter's day.

The audiobook version of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods was road trip entertainment for my brother and I when we were driving to Maine last week. I've listened to this probably about eight times, but it never gets old for me. This is by far my favorite Bill Bryson book.

Rise of the Rocket Girls was interesting from a science standpoint, but even more interesting from a working mom point of view. This was an awesome look at some of the unknown heroes of NASA.

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June 2016 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

Summer reading is in full swing!

Friday night = book + lawn chair + mojito

Life is good.

I read The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor because a bookstore I am known to frequent advertised it as similar to Gone Girl. Well, it was similar to Gone Girl because there's a missing wife. However Gone Girl was like watching a train wreck, while The Daylight Marriage actually had characters that were flawed, but you could get invested in them. You actually wanted a happy ending. It was more of a warning than a thriller.

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt was a quick read about a lonely girl in Canada, and her adventures making friends and reading Jane Eyre. I don't usually read comics or graphic novels, but quite enjoyed this one. 

We listened to The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley in the car, and absolutely loved it. If you're looking for a listen for your summer family road trip look no further. It was a great story - likeable characters, interesting for me and the kids, and got us talking about history. Plus the narrator had an accent that made her sound just like Mary from Downton Abbey.

I tried to read The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza a few months ago, and couldn't get into it. Then I listened to the What Should I Read Next follow up show, and decided to give the audiobook a try. Wow, having someone scream out emojis added so much to the story. Crazy in a good way. Pure entertainment.

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman reminded me of the books I've read by Kate Morton. It had that same sense of gentle mystery to it. This book is 500+ pages, but I read it over a weekend because it was just so easy to curl up with. Perfect lawn chair reading.

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May 2016 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

I finally got around to reading Northanger Abbey, and liked it a lot. The ending was kind of meh, but the character of Catherine was crazy in an awesome way. I loved all of her wacky scenarios.

I'm still on my travel writing kick, hence, my impulsive use of an audiobook credit on Albert Podell's Around the World In 50 Years. This one grew on me. I didn't agree with all of "Big Al's" opinions, but I was fascinated by the logistics of traveling to every country in the world. I also appreciated that he seemed to spend a fair bit of time in every country. He wasn't just traveling to check things off his list; he really seemed to take time with each country.

Ever wondered what it's like to be Mormon in New York City? The New York Regional Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker was an interesting account of what seems to be a pretty big struggle. It was sometimes shallow, but also very sincere, and seemed very honest. I recommend it, but don't expect to find any life altering truths here.

I finally finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and now I finally know what everyone was talking about last year. This method is not really for me, but it did make me think about all the stuff we have. Some spring cleaning may be in order.

I listened The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury in my car. It was perfect for that. I found it entertaining enough to listen to, but didn't feel that I had to shut it off the second I picked up my kids. In fact my 8 year old even enjoyed a few of the stories while we waited for his bus. These are all short stories that are about the same things. It's kind of hard to explain, but very enjoyable, light science fiction. The only depressing thing was the astronauts from the future were born in 1986 - a full 9 years after me. I don't know when I got so old.

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April 2016 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

I read Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan because someone told me that if I went to a liberal arts school I would relate to it. I think whoever made that recommendation confused liberal arts colleges with all women's colleges (not the same thing btw.) I still liked the book, but the ending was a bit abrupt.

When I was searching my library for Commencement I ran across Maine also by J. Courtney Sullivan. I checked it out right away because I'm going to Maine later this year. I feel like that's a pretty good rule of thumb - if you run across a book about a place you're visiting, check it out. I liked this book. It's told by three narrators. Each one seems sympathetic when you read their chapters, but unbearable when you read about them in other chapters. Of the three books I've read by Sullivan, this was my favorite (I read The Engagements a year or two ago, and thought it was OK.)

I was a little frustrated with The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. This 14 hour audio book mostly seemed to be about how Britain is so much better than America, and how everyone who isn't him is stupid. However there were descriptions of walking through random places that appealed to my wanderlust enough to keep me listening.

My son and I read Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein together and loved it. This is my son who "hates reading", barely tolerated me reading him Harry Potter, and thought THE MOVIES WERE BETTER. He begged me each night to read until my voice gave out, and when we finished he demanded we buy the next one immediately. If you have a reluctant reader who strengths lie more in the field of puzzles and math, give this book a try. (I was so relieved that Captain Underpants isn't the only solution when kids hate reading. I get that suggestion all the time, and while I have nothing against potty humor, I just can't read it out loud night after night.)

Since I've been in kind of a reading slump, I've been catching up on my back issues of One Story. My favorite was When in Dordogne by Lily King. I liked the uplifting coming of age story. This is a journal worth subscribing to if you like short stories. The stories are good, and the issues are great for tucking in your purse when you run into reading emergencies.

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Quick Lit March 2016

Love to be reading outside again!

Love to be reading outside again!

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

I had a sick day a few weeks ago, and reading A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie in bed was just the right medicine. I read this all in one day, and immediately reserved a few more in the series. I needed a good distraction while I waited for Career of Evil to finally come up on my library holds list.

I picked up Train Like a Mother by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell as inspiration for my summer hiking training. I liked the advice on time management, nutrition, coming back from an injury, and play lists even it was focused on training for a running race. Still useful even though I run a mile at best each week.

If I were to play the game where I had to match Cormoran Strike characters to Harry Potter characters Matthew the fiancé would be Umbridge. I was really hoping he would turn out to be the killer so we could be done with him. (That's not a spoiler: he was never a suspect.) Still a good book though; I can't wait for the next one.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton was the first book in recent memory that I could guess the ending to before it happened. That doesn't make it a bad book. I liked the characters, and I'm glad I read it.

Note: Links to amazon.com are affiliate links. thanks for your support.

Quick Lit February 2016

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

The Japanese Lover is about love, growing old, expectations, and loss. It is mostly a love story between a Jewish refuge and a Japanese man during World War Two in San Francisco, but there are current day issues as well. There's too much going on in this book to make it great, but it was perfect when we were snowed in.

When Books Went to War was a super interesting account of books, and their role in World War II. Reading! It's patriotic.

Hissing Cousins is a complete account of the rivalry between everyone's hero Eleanor Roosevelt, and the original mean girl Alice Longworth. I listened to this while I was shoveling us out from the blizzard, and I barely noticed what I was doing.

An Ember in the Ashes has all the elements of good dystopian YA. Love triangles (well, love squares really), battles between teenagers, conversations interrupted just when you're about to find out what's going on...

Read this one if you liked Divergent.

Maybe it's just because I'm such a super James A. Garfield fan girl, but I didn't get into Lafayette in the Somewhat United States as much as Assassination Vacation. Still it was completely worth it for the section on the political implications of playing a French Revolutionary War hero at Colonial Williamsburg during the Bush administration.

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