Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads – December 2022

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Reading continues to be a little slow for me, as it has these past few months. Life itself is going at top speed, so I’m trying to savor those moments when I’m able to slow down with a book.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been much more discerning about the books I see through, in this season of limited time.

It can feel like a slump when I DNF multiple books–and it can be frustrating–but it also means that I enjoy (or at least find worthwhile) the ones I do finish.

Here are some of the notable ones from the past month:

Print/E-Books

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto Is Back

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publish Date: August 30, 2022
Source: Ballantine Books
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Carrie Soto is a legendary tennis player–one of the best the world has ever seen. Six years after her retirement, her record is being threatened by a new player. Carrie knows she needs to make a comeback to prove she is still the best. Coached by her father, she fights her way back–and she isn’t exactly welcome.

Carrie has never been a charismatic player; nicknamed “the Battle-Axe” (and sometimes worse things), the media questions her motives, her age, and her abilities. But Carrie is determined, and she will stop at nothing to maintain her title.

I had mixed feelings throughout much of this book. I don’t mind unlikable characters, but Carrie’s singular focus on being the best–forever–was difficult for me to square. It’s also VERY tennis-heavy. There were times the details of the matches got a little boring. All this said, Taylor Jenkins Reid pulled it off: I started to care about the game, the pacing seemed to improve throughout, and the ending came together.

While I didn’t love this like I did some of her previous books, Carrie is a worthy addition to the world of Evelyn, Daisy, and Nina.

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm | Barnes & Noble

Bookish Gifts & Merch You’ll Love


White mug with a line drawing of a woman reading a book beside a dog, reading I just want to read books, drink coffee, and pet dogs
I Just Want to Read Books, Drink Coffee, and Pet Dogs
Dark grey t-shirt with The Secret Garden quote, If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.
The Secret Garden T-shirt
Librarians Quietly Leading the Resistance Mug
Librarians: Quietly Leading the Resistance Mug
Tote bag with the Kafka quote, How about I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense?
Kafka Quote Tote Bag
See more on Etsy >

Audiobooks

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Now Is Not the Time to Panic

Author: Kevin Wilson
Narrator: Ginnifer Goodwin
Publish Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Harper Audio
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.

This is the phrase that 16-year-old Frankie writes on the poster that she makes with Zeke, who adds his art. The two add their drops of blood, make copies, and post it all over their small Tennessee town. This act–this phrase–defines their summer, and the years after. The mystery of the posters captivates the town and it soon becomes a phenomenon that spreads far beyond their town, beyond anything they can control–and the repercussions are devastating.

I loved this. Everything about it had me hooked, from the way the art spread (long before the internet and things went viral), to how Wilson perfectly captures so much about life in a small town. There were passages I played back again, they were so poignant. One of my favorites of 2022.

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm | Barnes & Noble

Have I Told You This Already by Lauren Graham

Have I Told You This Already? Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember

Author & Narrator: Lauren Graham
Publish Date: November 15, 2022
Source: Libro.fm ALC
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir

Gilmore Girls is my go-to comfort show (I watch the whole series about once a year), so listening to Lauren Graham narrate her chatty audiobook was like a visit with an old friend. Graham doesn’t gossip or spill shocking revelations about her costars, but she does share fun inside-Hollywood trivia, self-deprecating anecdotes, and thoughtful reflections on her own life. Her more poignant essays include her thoughts on growing up without her mother and what it’s like to age in Hollywood.

If you’re a fan of Graham, definitely grab the audiobook. This book won’t grab headlines like other celebrity memoirs, but like Gilmore Girls, it’s a comforting escape that you might wish had more installments.

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm | Barnes & Noble

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet

Dinosaurs

Author: Lydia Millet
Narrator: Paul Heitsch
Publish Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Harper Audio
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Gil is a wealthy man who has located to Arizona, having walked the whole way from New York. He’s a bit aimless and is looking for meaning in his life. He seems to find it when he becomes enmeshed with the family next door, on full display through their glass-fronted house.

Small dramas make up the story, and moments of connection and lovely prose elevate this. But overall, the characters and story just didn’t gel very well for me. It may have been the audio format–maybe this worked better in print? I was eager to read this after being blown away by Millet’s previous book, A Children’s Bible, but Dinosaurs was nothing like that book.

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm | Barnes & Noble

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