Quick Lit: Mini-Reviews of Some Recent Reads – September Edition

Quick Lit

I’m trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I’ve been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don’t really need a full review. But, I’d still like to give them some space here on the blog, so instead, I’m offering mini-reviews of the books that won’t get full-page space here.

I’ll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her monthly Quick Lit link up. Be sure to head over to see others link up their Quick Lit posts.

 

 

US AGAINST YOU
Beartown #2
By: Fredrik Backman
Narrated by: Marin Ireland
Published: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: audiobook

US AGAINST YOU is the sequel to BEARTOWN and even though it would stand alone, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to read BEARTOWN first. You are so much more invested in the characters after the tragedies that happened in BEARTOWN.

US AGAINST YOU continues the story where BEARTOWN ended. Without giving any spoilers, the community of Beartown is recovering after a tragic incident that happened. The incident affected the families of Beartown as well as the hockey team. The hockey team is such a huge part of the community that its downfall affects the hospital, the factory, and every other business in the area.

When a politician starts making “friends” and “promises” the community thinks it may actually be able to recover. Unfortunately, it may just be at a cost.

Backman sucks you into the story page by page with a promise of a tragedy and even though you know terrible things are going to happen to the characters that you have come to care about, you keep reading because seeing how they have recovered before, you know they can again….you just don’t know which ones will be recovering and which ones will not have a chance.

Again, hockey plays a role in the story, like any character does, but this book, more so than BEARTOWN, focuses on the character’s lives, their families, how important their community is, and just what they will do for each other when everything comes crashing down. The people of Beartown are resilient and hopeful and loving even when hatred seems to be so prevalent among them.

When a book makes you shout “NO” when something happens, you know you are completely invested in the characters. I will miss the people of Beartown, but I feel better knowing they will be okay.

Marin Ireland also narrated BEARTOWN and does an amazing job. I could listen to her read books any day of the week.

THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS
The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
By: Michael Finkel
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Published: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Knopf
Format: Audiobook
An interesting story of a man who appears to go out on a weekend camping trip, only taking a few supplies and then spends the next 20-plus years living as a hermit in the woods of Northern Maine. He is captured and arrested for thousands of thefts over the many years from cabins and camps near his campsite. His story of survival, his effect on the community and homeowners, his family, and what his life is like reentering society were very compelling. Hard to believe someone can survive off of what he can find for food and clothing in cabins to make it through the harsh winters outside. A good listen.
CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN
By: Sayaka Murata
Translated by: Ginny Tapley Takemori
Published: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Grove Press
Format: eBook

I was curious about this book. I had heard it was odd but quirky. I would definitely agree, but also disturbing in some ways. Keiko is quite different from everyone else and has spent 18 years of her life working in a convenience store. It’s the only job she has ever known. The life of the convenience store becomes a part of her so that her whole life is built around her work at the store. This story is set in Japan and is translated to English, so there are a few odd translations, but for the most part, it’s translated quite well. Keiko must have some form of autism which makes her make some choices first in childhood that are not considered “normal” like hitting a child with a shovel. As she grows she learns to adapt to societal norms with the help of her sister. When Keiko meets a fellow store worker, her life is impacted and she has difficulty with the consequences of including him in her life. I was pleased with the ending as I felt sorrow for Keiko and her new situation.

This is a very quick read and the convenience store itself is just as much a part of the story as Keiko’s life is. You may not be able to walk into one again without thinking of Keiko. If you like a strong plot or climax, this book isn’t for you. It’s more of a meandering story of Keiko and her unique interactions with others.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
By: Celeste Ng
Published: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Penguin
Format: eBook

The book begins with Izzy starting a fire, but you don’t know why. Then it takes you into the story of two families and how their lives became intertwined. It started a little slow for me and frankly, was pretty depressing all throughout the book. This is not a happy story and if you like happy endings, you won’t find one here.

“It was the truth, she told herself; not a single word she’d said had been a lie. Omission, Pearl decided, was not the same as lying.”

Lies upon lies are what fill this book. When the lies come out, everyone gets hurt. But, not all the lies come out and you wonder how will the characters continue to live with themselves.

It’s definitely a character driven story and maybe there will be a character that you can identify with. But, I also am certain there will be characters you don’t like. Most of the characters in this story are incredibly selfish and make snap judgments and quick decisions that will impact others gravely. I did have some trouble keeping all the characters straight at first, mostly because I felt like the names didn’t fit the characteristics of the people. But, once I got into it, I wanted to know how these two families were going to co-exist and how it all led to the fire.

The story held my attention throughout the book and I cared about what happened. But, the most disappointing part for me was the ending. No closure. None. A quick, sharp ending that didn’t seem to match what I expected for the characters. But, the story as a whole, was worth the read.

DON’T MAKE ME PULL OVER!
An Informal History of the Family Road Trip
By: Richard Ratay
Narrated by: Jonathan Todd
Published: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Format: Audiobook
If you grew up taking family vacations, this book will encourage you to reminisce on those many vacations with family.
I grew up taking long Sunday drives or weekend trips to visit family. Since I was the only child at home, I didn’t have the crazy fights over food or games in the back seat. I just had myself and books and puzzle books to keep me busy during the long drives.
As a parent, we have taken our three children on a vacation every year since our first son was 6 months old. We have spent two weeks driving across the state of Pennsylvania and driven west to South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. So, we aren’t afraid to drive anywhere and frankly, our kids have never been on a plane because we want to see the country.
Ratay shares history including the creation of roads and highways, invention of cars, opening of rest areas, the very first drive-through restaurant, the men who started the Holiday Inn and the Holidome and the Howard Johnson hotel chains and so much more. Then Ratay shares personal stories of their own family vacations with his 3 other siblings. The cars they drove, the hotels they stayed at, the destinations they visited and all the fights over food, car games, and who got what seat or bed.
The narration was easy to listen to but, sometimes I wish I was reading it over listening so I could look back at something that I wanted to remember. I enjoyed the look at history, but the personal family stories were the best part.
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2 Comments

  1. Aimee on September 15, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    I went to add Last Man in the Woods to my TBR list and realized I already put it on there over a year ago! I guess the premise still appeals to me 🙂

  2. Patricia Zanuck on September 16, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Convenience Store Woman is on my TBR list. I wanted to read it for Women in Translation Month (August ) but the library holds list was, and still is, so long! Instead I read The Nakano Thrift Shop from Japan which I enjoyed very much. It’s also a somewhat meandering story. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Convenience Store Woman but am still eager to read it. I appreciate your thoughts!

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