Quick Lit: Mystery, Romance, and Politics

My reading habits have been so up and down in the last two months (hello, pandemic stress!), but I’ve finally gotten my groove back a little bit. Here’s my December Quick Lit post, featuring some of the books I’ve recently read or am currently reading! (It’s a VERY random assortment, so I think there’s something for everyone!)

When Women Invented Television by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

This was one of my very favorite books I’ve read this year. I love a history book that explores the stories of women who aren’t usually written about, and this book about four women who were pioneers in early television perfectly fits that category. Armstrong explores the lives and careers of early female TV stars and producers: national treasure Betty White, soap opera creator Irna Phillips, singer and performer Hazel Scott, and comedian Gertrude Berg. The challenges and triumphs of each woman as they navigated the completely new territory of broadcast television were fascinating, and Armstrong does a great job of simultaneously teaching and entertaining. (Out on March 23: thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy!)

When Women Invented Television on Amazon.com
When Women Invented Television on Bookshop.org


The Bridgerton Series (1-3) by Julia Quinn

I first read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series about a decade ago, but with the Shonda Rhimes Netflix series coming out on Christmas, I wanted to re-read the first three books from the series (The Duke and I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, and An Offer from a Gentleman) to refresh my memory on the storyline. They’re such good brain candy: quick, romantic, perfect distraction reading. Some of the plot lines feel a little dated at this point (I’m very interested to see how the show handles part of The Duke and I), but overall I liked the books just as much as I remembered. I can’t wait to binge-watch the new television adaptation next week!

The Duke and I on Amazon.com
The Duke and I on Bookshop.org


A Promised Land by Barack Obama

President Obama’s new memoir was delivered to my doorstep on publication day, and I’ve been slowly working my way through it ever since. I’ve admired President Obama since he was my senator in Illinois, and it’s really fun to read about his early political career in Springfield and to relive the excitement of the 2008 election. I’m still reading this one, and I’m enjoying every minute of it, especially the inside-baseball look at moments like the passage of the Affordable Care Act. (Fun fact: the existence of the ACA was the deciding factor that finally allowed me to leave my teaching job and embark on my writing career. Without it, I never would have been able to achieve that dream!)

A Promised Land on Amazon.com
A Promised Land on Bookshop.org


Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco

If you’re looking for a good companion book to A Promised Land, I’ve got the perfect one for you. Alyssa Mastromonaco worked on the Kerry and Obama campaigns before running crucial parts of the White House infrastructure during President Obama’s administration. She lets us peek into the world of the staff at the White House. I especially loved the stories about traveling abroad. (The Imodium-at-the-Vatican and the jeans-at-Buckingham Palace stories are worth the price of admission alone.) Also: did you know there were no tampon dispensers in the West Wing bathrooms until Mastromonaco campaigned to get them? Unreal!

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? on Amazon.com
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? on Bookshop.org


The Twelve-Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington

I’m kind of a productivity and planning nut—you really have to be when you have any kind of freelance writing career. I’m always looking for books and courses that offer different kinds of frameworks for personal success, so that I can try out adopting different strategies in my own life. I recently picked up The Twelve-Week Year on a recommendation from a friend, and I really like its philosophy of setting realistic and achievable goals. (I like the book’s emphasis on establishing a vision for the future that drives you to achieve even when you feel unmotivated.) New Year’s resolution season is right around the corner, and while I usually try to set year-long goals for my business, I think I’m going to try out 12-week goals for 2021.

The Twelve-Week Year on Amazon.com
The Twelve-Week Year on Bookshop.org


Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

The final book in Hilderbrand’s trilogy set in the Virgin Islands, this book was a chaotic but satisfying end to the series. I love the fact that the main characters are originally from Iowa City. (Love a reference to Prairie Lights and the Wig and Pen!) Hilderbrand is such a reliable writer of compelling contemporary fiction, and this series was extra fun because of the mystery that bubbled beneath the surface. It also VERY much made me want an island vacation. (Some day!) I got all three books in the series through my Book of the Month subscription, which is one of my very favorite things. If you’re interested in trying Book of the Month, you can sign up through my referral link here so they’ll know I sent you!

Troubles in Paradise on Amazon.com
Troubles in Paradise on Bookshop.org
Troubles in Paradise via Book of the Month


HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes

I reviewed this new book about royal style for The Court Jeweller this month. It’s based on the “So Many Thoughts” series on Instagram stories written by fashion journalist Elizabeth Holmes. I loved the photographic tour through the wardrobes of the Queen, Princess Diana, Kate, and Meghan, but I was hoping for a more in-depth analysis of the strategies and planning behind royal clothes. (And, of course, because it’s me, maybe more royal jewelry content, too!) You can read my full review over at The Court Jeweller, plus see some sneak peeks inside the book.

HRH on Amazon.com
HRH on Bookshop.org


Jewels That Made History by Stellene Volandes

I also reviewed the new jewelry book by Town & Country editor Stellene Volandes at The Court Jeweller this month. Intriguingly, this one is also inspired by Instagram stories—specifically, the breezy jewelry history tidbits shared by Volandes on her account. Organized chronologically, this book offers you a quick, tantalizing taste of the stories behind some of the world’s most famous pieces of jewelry. You can read my full review (and see some photos of the inside of the book) over at The Court Jeweller. (Thanks to Rizzoli for sending me a review copy!)

Jewels That Made History on Amazon.com
Jewels That Made History on Bookshop.org


The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

I’m still working my way through the stack of Maisie Dobbs mysteries I bought this year. (BookOutlet.com was my friend here—I was able to get almost the entire series for majorly discounted prices! You can get $10 off your first $25 purchase by using my referral link.) Last night I started the seventh book in the series, The Mapping of Love and Death, which finds Maisie and Billy trying to solve the murder of an American cartographer who worked as a surveyor during World War I. As always, the book is written beautifully, and it always feels so comfortable and familiar to sit down with Maisie and her case maps as she works through yet another mystery. I can’t wait to find out how this one ends!

The Mapping of Love and Death on Amazon.com
The Mapping of Love and Death on Bookshop.org


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission if you purchase a product through that link. The post is not sponsored by any of the brands or companies featured, and I have not been compensated by them in any way; all reviews are based solely on my own opinions.