Welcome to Quick Lit, where bloggers link up with Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy and share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.
I love travel for the regular reasons: getting to see new sites, try new foods, learn about new cultures, etc. I also love it for another very nerdy reason. I get so much reading done! One long-weekend trip at the end of June yielded the completion of 2 books and half of one more. It was fabulous. My reading pace slowed way down once I got back, but thankfully, I have a trip to Las Vegas coming up 🙂
Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:
Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata
Keiko Furakuwa has never been considered “normal,” but her job as a Tokyo convenience store woman for the past 18 years has given her a sense of belonging and the guise of social normalcy. However, society’s expectations of a 36-year-old woman dictate that Keiko should have a better a job, and if not that, then at least she should be married. In an effort to conform to these expectations, Keiko makes a bold decision involving a very peculiar “dead-ender” man.
What an odd yet delightful book this was! Murata’s commentary on the inanity of so many social norms is deliciously thought-provoking. I found myself chewing on questions on what it means to be a functional adult in today’s world long after finishing the book.
The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
Leni Allbright’s dad, Ernt, hasn’t been quite right since coming back from the Vietnam War. He’s violent and moody abd Leni and her mom walk on eggshells around him hoping to avoid setting him off. When he inherits land in Alaska from a fallen comrade, the family heads north to live off the land, hoping the change of scenery will improve Ernt’s state of mind.
With the help of other homesteaders, the Albrights learn to survive the harsh Alaska winters, but the days of endless darkness only make Ernt more abusive. The unforgiving climate ends up being less dangerous than the rooms inside the family’s cabin.
I loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, so I had high expectations for this one. Although it’s quite different from The Nightingale, The Great Alone has a driving plot and incredibly compelling characters. They wound me up so much that I found myself yelling at Leni’s mom to please, PLEASE make better decisions and fuming at Ernt for being so horrible. By no means is this a light and fun summer read, but I could not put it down. I had to see if Leni was going to be alright!
Be Prepared, by Vera Brogol
Vera doesn’t fit in with the kids at school. She’s just too Russian for them. When she hears about a summer camp specifically for Russian American kids, she thinks it will solve all her problems. She heads to camp with sky-high hopes only to be crushed because she doesn’t fit in there either! She’s not Russian enough. She faces one debacle after another during her weeks at camp, but eventually finds a kindred spirit.
I am always attracted to summer camp books for some reason, and Be Prepared was the perfect read for that niche genre. Brosgol’s artwork is adorable (I couldn’t get enough of Vera’s big googly eyes) and the book is chock-full of humor, but it has a more serious side too. Since it’s based on Brosgol’s own experiences, the book feels very real and her countless humiliations in the story made me empathize deeply.
Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
For years Scarlett dreamed of going to Caraval — a magical yearly game run by mastermind Legend — with her sister Tella. She wrote Legend letters for years asking for tickets, but never heard from him. Until now.
Legend has finally sent the sisters tickets to Caraval. Although the timing isn’t great (Scarlett’s abusive father has arranged for Scarlett to be married in a week’s time), Scarlett and Tella escape their island with ruggedly handsome sailor Julian and make it to Caraval. Things only get more complicated from there. Legend kidnaps Tella and the aim of this year’s game is to rescue her. In this wildly color-saturated world, Scarlett has to discern what is real and who to trust. With Julian’s help she pushes herself to do things she never would have imagined in hopes of saving her beloved sister.
This was another book I couldn’t put down. The writing bugged me at times (Garber’s color-centric descriptions of practically everything got tiresome) and Scarlett wasn’t the most likable character, but the plot moved at breakneck speed and kept me turning the pages. It ends on a major cliffhanger and I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, Legendary.
What have you been reading and enjoying this month? Please share in the comments below!