Quick Lit: August 2020


We're almost at the end of September, and I'm just now talking about the books I read in August. Can you tell I've been in a rut? The worst part is that I've had all of these reviews written for weeks... I was just too lazy to finish taking photos for them! Whoops. I read 12 books in August – ten are reviewed below and then two re-reads mentioned at the end. If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

IGNITING DARKNESS BY ROBIN LAFEVERS What an epic conclusion! If it's been some time since you read the His Fair Assassin series, I highly recommend revisiting those before diving in to this spin-off duology. You'll want all the political and historical details from that series. This book picks up right where Courting Darkness left off, and I couldn't put it down from the second I started. I love LaFever's blend of historical fiction with hints of fantasy, and she does a fantastic job of depicting the political intrigue of the time period and infusing it the gripping personal drama of her characters. These characters have my heart! I was so invested in their fight for their Queen and for one another – the way they hope for love, friendship, justice, and a better life for all. I'm So Obsessed With It!

TRUE STORY BY KATE REED PETTY – I went into this book a little nervous but with high expectations based on the buzz I'd seen online. There was a lot of talk about the way it blended so many genres and writing styles into one story, and I was excited to see how that was done. I had mixed feelings in the end – it hooked me immediately but felt gimmicky, too. It seemed to have an inflated sense of its own cleverness and the end result was a disjointed, often confusing read that didn't effectively communicate the premise or point of it all. I kept thinking, "I get what you were trying to do here, but it could be been so much better." It just didn't feel like a full, cohesive story for me. I was personally So Over It by the end, but I think that other readers could easily find it more satisfying than I did. 

TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW BY RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON – Two rival overachievers whose relationship changes over the course of twenty-four hours? Well, I'm a sucker for hate to love at any age. There were a few things that reminded me of my beloved Anne of Green Gables, particularly the academic rivalry that's born out of hurt feelings and inspires a ginormous grudge. And the Seattle setting and scavenger hunt to celebrate the end of high school were both delightful elements! However, I wasn't personally a fan of the casual attitude towards sex (especially for teens) or how quickly the relationship morphs from antagonistic to (seemingly) a committed, serious relationship. Additionally, the myriad of political/social issues discussed occasionally felt a little heavy handed. I So Liked It

KNOW MY NAME BY CHANEL MILLER – This memoir was on my radar before my sister raved about it, but her review finally gave me the push I needed to read it. And wow, I'm so glad I did. Miller is an incredibly talented writer, and I'm so thankful she decided to tell her story. She writes with so much honesty, insight and emotion about the sexual assault she suffered and the additional trauma of the trial and sentencing. I have not stopped thinking about Miller's story since I finished, and it's one that I wish I could make everyone read. It's infuriating and heartbreaking but infused with so much hope, too. I'm So Obsessed With It, have already bought a copy for my shelves, and hope to read more from Miller in the future, even if it's fiction. This is definitely one of the best books I've read in 2020.

THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS BY CRISTINA HENRIQUEZ – I hadn't heard of this book before randomly buying a copy at the used bookstore, and now I'm glad this cover caught my eye. Henriquez has written a compelling, thoughtful story about two loving parents, their daughter, and the teenage boy who takes an interest in her. Woven throughout are the stories of the other residents of their apartment complex, which I adored. One of the things I love most about reading is how it reminds you that everyone has a story, and this book did such a great job of taking a topic like immigration and humanizing it. We see the pain of leaving the familiar behind and the hope for more that would cause someone to sacrifice so much. I So Loved It, and it was excellent on audio, too!

THE LAZY GENIUS WAY BY KENDRA ADACHI – Even though I haven't listened to every single episode, I'm a huge fan of the Lazy Genius podcast and was thrilled to learn there was a book coming out. I've had it pre-ordered for months! As soon as it arrived, I had to dive in. The genius (pun intended!) of Adachi's method is that it's practical, applicable to any situation, and doesn't require you to have the same goals or method as the author. Adachi genuinely wants you to be YOUR best self and to identify what matters to YOU. And y'all, I'm all in on being genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't. And I think that's what makes this book such a great read! I So Loved It and look forward to re-reading, a little more slowly and highlighter in hand.

A PLACE AT THE TABLE BY SAADIA FARUQI AND LAURA SHOVAN – I was browsing in the children's section of the bookstore (because of Kelly's recent Middle Grade kick, of course) and spotted this adorable cover. I can't resist food in fiction! A friendship that's formed in a cooking class sounded right up my alley, and the end result was just as satisfying as I'd hoped. I loved how the two girls came from different cultural and faith backgrounds (Pakistani/Muslim and English/Jewish) and how it sparked so many thoughtful discussions about what it means to be a true friend. I liked how both girls came from loving but imperfect families that were working through financial and mental health issues. This warm-hearted novel was a delight to read, and I So Loved It.

OLD LOVEGOOD GIRLS BY GAIL GODWIN – From the moment I saw this cover, I felt like I had to read it – and it helped that the summary sounded great, too. Sadly, it was an instance where my biggest issue with the book is that it didn't really match its description. I was expecting "a powerful friendship" between "two college friends who have formed a bond that takes them through decades." Everything needed more development. Because I didn't see the connection between the two women, I didn't really believe they were friends. The writing was slow and literary, which didn't bother me until it became more stream of consciousness in the later parts. I'm just So Okay With It because I've thought more about what it could have been rather than what it actually was.

THE COMEBACK BY ELLA BERMAN – This wasn't on my radar before I saw it on Book of the Month (referral link), but I I'm so glad I tried it! This was a timely, compelling story about growing up as a child star, celebrity culture, and how someone copes with pain and trauma. It fits so perfectly into the #MeToo movement, though Berman began writing it before that took off. It was such a heartbreaking read because I was so deeply invested in the heroine. The whole time I was reading, I was rooting for her to find her voice and to move towards healing. It's a more character-driven book, but I think that worked so brilliantly. And Berman's writing just sucked me in from the very first page! I thought the open ending was very realistic, and it's just another reason I So Loved It.

The only other new-to-me book that I read in August was Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt, a book focused on ways to create a happy and healthy childhood. I liked how it talked about things like boredom, adventure, technology, and ways to equip your children for the future. There wasn't anything particularly new or surprising, but I still appreciated the reminders. I could see myself revisiting it or using it to explore some of the topics in greater depth through other resources. My biggest issue? The author writes as an expert when she has three relatively young children. She is writing from the trenches, so to speak, and has a lot of parenting left to do. I still So Enjoyed It, but I think that's partly because I already agreed with much of what Smartt had to say.

As for re-reads, I had two in August: Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers and Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. They're both the first book in a series, which I picked up to refresh my memory before reading the recently-released sequels. I listened to both on audio, loved both just as much the second time around, and finished both feeling so hyped on YA fantasy and these characters + their conflicts. If you haven't read either one, I highly recommend both! Courting Darkness has the slight edge (I'm So Obsessed With It), but Serpent & Dove is a solid So Loved It.

What have you been reading lately?

1 comment

  1. Your endorsement of Know My Name has me determined to pick it up this year! I've heard nothing but great things about this memoir.


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