Quick Lit: February 2019 (Part 1)

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles: I am finally caught up on my backlog of 2018/2019 reviews! I thought this day would never come. We won't speak of 2016, the year my son was born, because that's a black hole where books were read but promptly forgotten. I read 24 books in February, and I'm reviewing 18 today and tomorrow. I had so much to say about each book, even though I've reviewed most of these before, that I split this into two posts. Here's Part Two. Of the six books not included in either post, two are in my January 2019 Quick Lit post, three will be in a blog feature I'm bringing out of retirement, and one is getting an individual review.

If you've read my February 2019 recap, then you may already know that Kelly and I did something we called #FebruaREREAD. We spent the entire month re-reading books, and it was one of my favorite things I've done for my reading life. I had an informal goal of only picking books that I'd never re-read before, and I stuck to that for the most part. I mean, I had to make a few exceptions! So, all of my reviews below are my thoughts after re-reading – but clicking the titles of the books will take you to my original review (if it exists). As always, check out the Quick Lit linkup that's hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy for reviews and recs from other readers.

THE HATING GAME BY SALLY THORNE – I read this for review when it came out in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to revisit this one ever since, and this month was the perfect opportunity. Have you ever heard the song “What is This Feeling?” from the musical Wicked? It describes two people who loathe each other in a way that sounds like love if you just tweaked the words a little bit. That’s what I keep thinking of while reading this book! It’s got a workplace rivalry between two people who embody the poem from 10 Things I Hate About You: “But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you / Not even close / Not even a little bit / Not even at all.” I had a few nitpicks on this re-read that I didn't notice previously, but I honestly still So Loved It. That ending is just too perfect!

I CAPTURE THE CASTLE BY DODIE SMITH – I first read this book back in 2013 and declared it one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve read so many books since then and have always wondered — would I still feel the same way about it today? The answer is 100% YES. The book is written as Cassandra’s journal and covers six months of her life during 1934. Her observations about the world and people around her are just delightful, and her voice is so memorable. She charms and disarms you with her thoughtful (and often comical) reflections. It’s such an accessible classic, perfect for anyone who loves coming-of-age and character-driven stories. I'm So Obsessed With It, and audiobook narrator Jenny Agutter gave me a new layer of love for it! I thoroughly enjoyed her performance.

OPEN ROAD SUMMER BY EMERY LORD – I first read this back in 2014 was excited to revisit it for #FebruaREREAD. There are other things to love about this story, but the friendship is the heart and soul of it. Reagan is a prickly heroine. She’s been the subject of gossip and ridicule, and she’s got a chip on her shoulder towards other women because of it. It takes time and maturity to stop that cycle of rejection, and Reagan just isn’t there yet. But as I read, I could imagine so much growth in her future. I could picture her years down the road — still best friends with Lilah but with a more vulnerable heart around others. She’s flawed, but she’s trying. And aren’t we all? I So Loved It, a slightly lower rating than my first read, but that's just because I felt like I had outgrown it a bit.

UNDER A PAINTED SKY BY STACEY LEE – You’ll want to read this book if you love any of the following things: the Oregon Trail, girls disguising themselves as boys, danger and adventure, attractive cowboys, strong female friendship, and diverse historical fiction. This book came out in 2015 and immediately became a new favorite for me. I loved this book just as much the second time around! Lee’s writing is just so quotable, and she paints a vivid picture of life during this time period. And it’s so refreshing to read a book that depicted diversity on the Oregon Trail in such a meaningful way! This is definitely a story that will make your heart ache with the injustice of the world. But this story isn’t all sadness. There’s a lot of humor and a little romance, too. I'm still So Obsessed With It.

SON OF THE SHADOWS BY JULIET MARILLIER – In 2014, I binged the Sevenwaters series and fell in love! After re-reading the first book on audio in 2017, I kept thinking about re-reading more from the series. With our project motivating me, I bought the second book on audio and finished all 22 hours in four days! I love the blend of fantasy and history — the sense that a fairy tale has become flesh. Marillier’s descriptions bring the setting to life, but it’s the characters who really shine for me. If you like epic and emotional love stories, you’ll find one of my favorites in these pages. There’s a lyrical quality to the writing that made this book a lovely listen, despite the moments of sadness. This story is meant to be savored, underlined, and read again and again. I'm So Obsessed With It

A NORTHERN LIGHT BY JENNIFER DONNELLY – I bought this in 2003, based solely on the summary and the writing in the first few pages. I read it soon after and have always had fond memories of it. My reading taste has changed so much since then, but I can happily say that fourteen-year-old me knew what was up. Donnelly painted a vivid picture of life on a rural farm, and I loved getting to know all of the different characters. It was heartbreaking to see Mattie’s dreams for an education and writing career contrasted with her duty towards her family. But there’s one thing I’ll remember most about this book: Mattie giving voice to the beauty and the darkness in the world around her. In a book with so much sadness and loss, it was still so hopeful. I So Loved It.

I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU BY ERIN LINDSAY MCCABE – You know a book is excellent when it makes you cry just as much the second time around as it did the first! McCabe’s debut came out in 2014, and it’s easily still one of my favorite reads. The setting and historical detail were really well done, but it’s the characters who steal your heart. Rosetta is an unconventional woman, and her voice was just beautifully captured. I could picture her in my mind so vividly that it’s hard for me to believe she wasn’t real. And I adored her relationship with Jeremiah! The sweetness and sass of their interactions were perfect, and my investment in them is the reason the story impacts me so deeply. Their love for one another is moving, and I'm always be So Obsessed With It because of it. 

HAPPINESS FOR BEGINNERS BY KATHERINE CENTER – Of all the books in this post, this is the only one that I know I've re-read more than once. But I couldn't resist this favorite! I adore Helen – she grows so much throughout the course of the book! The first time I read the summary, I thought it sounded like a stereotypical "divorced woman finding herself." That's not inaccurate description, but it barely scratches the surface of what's in these pages. The romance is one of my favorites, and Jake Archer is one of my Top 5 book boyfriends. How's that for commitment? But I know the reason I love this book so much is because it had such an impact on my real life – helping me look at my life through new eyes. You can read about that here, if you're curious. Obviously, I'm So Obsessed With It.

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY BY JANE AUSTEN – Don’t you love revisiting an old favorite and feeling as though time and experience has made you appreciate it all the more? That’s what happened when I listened to this book. I knew I'd still love it, but it was fascinating to see what captured my attention this read. For example, having recently turned 30, I laughed more deeply at Marianne acting as though Colonel Brandon has one foot in the grave at age 35.That had always been in the text — they just had more significance to me this time! I listened to this on audio with narrator Rosamund Pike. I'd actually pre-ordered it when it was announced because I loved her reading of Pride and Prejudice. She didn't disappoint! The perfect voice for this story, and I'm So Obsessed With It.

What have you been reading lately?


  1. Wow, looks like you had an incredible reading month! So many great books in this round-up!

  2. I love Sense and Sensibility! It's my favorite of the two Austens I've read so far, and I can definitely say I would happily reread it. And I still have so much love for the project you and Kelly came up with! #FebruaREREAD is brilliant, honestly.


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