Quick Lit: October 2020 (Part 2)

Welcome back to my (overdue) October mini reviews! I read 15 books total, reviewed six in Part 1 yesterday, and am chatting about the nine other books I read in today's post. As I mentioned yesterday, October had several new favorites that you may see on my "Best of" list at the end of the year. It will be hard to choose!

JANE WAS HERE BY N. JACOBSEN, D. MACLENNAN, AND L. NILSON – This adorable book is part travel memoir and part guide book, described as a guide to Jane Austen's England. It highlights settings from her novels, locations from film adaptations of her work, and places Austen visited during her life. For me, the illustrations made the book worth buying! I want prints of several pages. I did notice a few typos, wasn't overly impressed by the writing, and felt the locations skewed more heavily toward places featured in films. But I recognize there's not a lot they could do to work around the limited number of historical places associated with Austen. I still think it's worth picking up, and the itinerary was a nice inclusion! It's a worthy addition to an Austen collection, and I So Enjoyed It.

THE SECRET PLACE BY TANA FRENCH – I started reading French a few years ago, and then lost interest in her Dublin Murder series after the fourth disappointed me. But the mystery-shaped hole in my heart made me give her another try! The boarding school setting was fantastic, and I remembered why I'd been a fan of French in the first place. She's adept at atmospheric writing, well-developed characters, and psychological suspense. I loved that the detectives were investigating a cold case, and the way the timeline alternated between past (counting down to the murder) and present (one 24-hour day at the school). Listening to it on audio was the perfect format for me because the narrator's Irish accent won me over and minimized French's occasional pacing issues. I So Enjoyed It.

THE TRESPASSER BY TANA FRENCH – This is now my favorite French, and I can't believe I almost missed it! I loved the lead detective, her take-no-shit attitude, and the camaraderie she had with her partner. The way French depicted being a female detective in a predominately male environment felt so realistic to me, and I couldn't get over the sense of paranoia within the squad and how it all played out. You understand where the heroine is coming from, but you also see how it alienates her further from the people who are supposed to be her teammates. This mystery was gripping, and listening on audio added to my obsession. It can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading The Secret Place first to see the heroine from another perspective. I'm So Obsessed With It

THE BLUE CASTLE BY L.M. MONTGOMERY – Ahhh, you delightful old friend! One of my October goals was to re-read a comforting book, and I decided to go with The Blue Castle. Valancy Stirling is such a gem, and this book never fails to deliver the feels for me. Reading it felt like being snuggled up in my softest robe, sitting on the back deck in the mountains, drinking a cup of coffee, and listening to the waterfall. Perfection. Of course, I'd probably be thinking about chopping off my hair and confounding my family with a bunch of out-of-character actions if I wanted to truly channel Valancy, but I'll settle for her love of being in nature and a place to call home. I just love everything about this book – the characters, the romance, the writing. A hidden gem, and I'm So Obsessed With It.

WINTER COUNTS BY DAVID HESKA WANBLI WEIDEN – I wasn't thrilled about the September choices for Book of the Month besides the one I'd already pre-ordered, so I decided to go out on a limb and choose this debut thriller. This novel follows Virgil Wounded Horse, a vigilante-for-hire, as he investigates how heroin is making its way on to the reservation. I loved learning about life on a reservation, particularly as it related to the tribal council and American legal system. I thought Weiden was at his best when talking about Lakota beliefs and customs. But the writing overall was so mediocre, and I predicted exactly where the story was headed. I wanted a bit more finesse – more fluidity to the story, more even pacing, and further development of the characters. I was So Okay With It.

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER BY KERRI MANISCALCO – Maybe the hype got to me, but I expected a lot more from this popular YA historical mystery! It was a fun, though average, read for me with very basic writing. I found it frustrating that the heroine was described as unconventional and intelligent but acted so incredibly stupid and oblivious to things right in front of her face. I guess a scalpel and book smarts will only get you so far! I wanted to be more invested in the mystery surrounding the Ripper's identity, but the back copy made it pretty obvious that it was one of two people. Boo! I read this over Halloween weekend, so it was a fitting choice in that regard. I'm So Okay With It, but now I'm torn on whether or not I'll continue the series. If only I hadn't bought the box set...

LITTLE UNIVERSES BY HEATHER DEMETRIOS – Years ago, I read and loved Demetrios' I'll Meet You There but never read anything else by her. This cover caught my eye at the bookstore one day, and I was drawn in by the fact that it was a story about sisters. I knew the book was going to deal with serious topics based on the summary, but I didn't expect it to be quite so heavy. It deals with depression, addiction, grief, and a few other topics that feel to spoiler-y to list. I wasn't prepared! It was a moving read, but I did feel it was overly angsty at times. The sisters are polar opposites – analytical, overachiever Mae and emotional, free spirit Hannah. There were things I loved about them and their relationship and things I found infuriating. A bit of a mixed bag, but I So Liked It overall.

I'D GIVE ANYTHING BY MARISA DE LOS SANTOS – Having read and loved several other books from de los Santos, I was excited to pick up her newest release. It had lovely writing, but sadly it was weak in every other area. Y'all, I don't think I can forgive it for the very anticlimactic reveal of "what happened" all those year ago. The characters lacked developed, as did the relationships they had with one another. There are elements that felt inauthentic to me, so I couldn't suspend my disbelief at times. Could I imagine real people acting this way or being this defined by things from high school? Not really. And honestly, it was just boring. If it was longer, I probably wouldn't have finished it... but it also could have used 100 pages more to flesh things out better. Needless to say, I'm So Over It

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE BY V.E. SCHWAB – What a gorgeous, thought-provoking book! I loved Schwab's descriptive writing, which made this feel like a modern fairy tale.  The way the story went back and forth in time – contrasting the desperate past that led to Addie's bargain with the loneliness of her present – made for such a compelling read. I loved the glimpses of history, and the incredible heroine anchoring the story. Addie's tenacity, bravery, independence and sharp mind make her a force to be reckoned with! The ending had enough resolution to satisfy me with just the right amount of lingering questions. A favorite of 2020, and I'm So Obsessed With It. Narrator Julia Whelan made the audio a fantastic listening experience, and I recommend that format!

What have you been reading lately?

1 comment

  1. Yay, I'm so happy you loved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue! It was my favorite read in 2020, and I'm still thinking about the story up until now.


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