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Quick Lit: June 2020 (Part 1)


I read 17 books in June, and I'm sharing my thoughts on all of them over the next two days! Since the post was too long, I split it into two parts: ten mini reviews in today's post and six in tomorrow's post. You'll find one June read only briefly mentioned at the end of this post, along with thoughts on three books I read in May. And tomorrow's post contains some thoughts on a series I read a month or two ago. I had to make sure I was all caught up! If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


VALENTINE BY ELIZABETH WETMORE – Let's start by laying it all on the table: if I'd solely read this physical book, I would have DNFed it. There are no quotation marks in this novel or even any stylistic indication that dialogue is occurring. WHY?! However, I listened to it on audio and thought it was brilliantly narrated. If you decide to try this book, I highly recommend that format. This is a book where the setting feels like a character, and I loved that fact. The story, set in 1976, explored how this small Texas oil town shaped the lives of seven women who lived in it. With multiple points of view, I was impressed by how Wetmore captured the voice of each character. The first two chapters, in particular, wowed me. I So Loved It, the kind of read that lingered in my mind long after I was done.

LONG BRIGHT RIVER BY LIZ MOORE – I borrowed a copy of this book from my sister, even though she hadn't read it yet. I was drawn to the idea of two sisters divided by their very different lives until one of them goes missing. I was expecting it to be primarily a mystery, but I was pleasantly by how deeply it explored the characters and their family dynamic. The Then/Now structure created a great slow build and kept me completely hooked. Focusing on the opioid crisis and addiction did make a very bleak, heartbreaking read. It's heavy, I won't lie. But I was totally engrossed in the heroine's search for her sister and the way Moore unflinchingly depicted their story and this city. It's more literary than what I'd expected from a mystery/thriller and that worked in its favor for me. I So Enjoyed It.

YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER BY SARAH HOGLE – I bought this on a whim at Target one day because we all know I can't resist a summary with hate-to-love. An engaged couple who now hates each other? You know I had to find out how they'd gotten there! Here's the deal: I So Loved It, but I think it will be frustrating for a lot of readers. The heroine is pretty neurotic, and most of their issues stem from her inability to communicate. I kept thinking, "Um, I think this is all in your head... and you're being rude." Regardless, I still found it to be such a fun read. The writing was quirky and sarcastic, the story was ultimately adorable, and it was a fun twist on my favorite trope. I laughed so much while I was reading it! It worked for me, personally, but I'd recommend it with some caveats.


ONE OF US IS LYING AND ONE OF US IS NEXT BY KAREN M. MCMANUS – After loving A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, I found myself craving more YA mysteries. That led me to this duology! The first was like The Breakfast Club – but with murder – and I thought it was thrilling. I solved the case about halfway through, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment at all. It was twisty, fast paced, and I was rooting for the characters! I So Enjoyed It. The sequel was set at the same high school but followed different characters, including one we met in the first book. It was also quite fun: the Truth or Dare game stressed me out, the characters were enjoyable, the hints of romance were cute, and the ending surprised me. I thought the first was a bit more engaging, but I still So Liked It.

STIR BY JESSICA FECHTOR – Though I'm not a foodie at all, I weirdly love books about food. After reading a blog post about 20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs, I added a ton to Goodreads – including this one! The author suffered a brain aneurysm at age 28 and lost her sense of smell and the vision in one eye. Struggling with her "new normal," she turns to food and cooking to find her way again. Jessica's voice was warm and inviting, her support system sounded lovely, and her outlook on life was inspiring. Even without the food element, this was an excellent memoir. Ah, but the food! She described cooking and eating with such love and joy that it made me reflect on my  own memories that are connected to meals I've eaten. I So Loved It and will be buying a copy for my shelves.

WRITERS & LOVERS BY LILY KING – Now that my sister Caroline has started reading a ton and joined bookstagram, I have another source of reading recommendations. This was one of her favorite reads in May, and she made it sound so good that I had to read it. This slow, slice-of-life story felt like nothing was happening, so its beauty snuck up on me. I thought I was simply enjoying it until I suddenly realized no, I So Loved It. Character-driven with insightful writing, I loved how King explored grief, love, adulthood, and finding your way. It was quiet and contemplative, and I thought the heroine was so well developed. I frequently wanted to reach into the novel and offer her advice or a shoulder to cry on. This isn't the kind of book I'd typically pick up, but I'm so glad I tried it!


COMING HOME BY ROSAMUNDE PILCHER – After thoroughly enjoying Pilcher's The Shell Seekers last year, I was excited to pick up this book from her. It sounded right up my alley: a continent-spanning saga following a young British girl, Judith Dunbar, from her early days in boarding school through WWII. But I had the audiobook equivalent of sticker shock when I realized it was 40 hours long. Yikes! There were things I loved about this quaint, cozy novel – particularly the characters and setting – but it also felt overly detailed and way longer than it needed to be. For me, not enough happened in the story to justify the length. The second half was more interesting than the first, but I was starting to resent it by the end. I So Liked It but don't see myself reading more from Pilcher in the future. 

THE VANISHING HALF BY BRIT BENNETT – I loved Bennett's debut, The Mothers, and couldn't wait for this new release from her. The way Bennett explored the concept of identity through these twin sisters and their children was so thought-provoking and discussable. It would make a great book club read! However, for me, it felt like something was missing. The shifts in time and way it moved between various characters wasn't my favorite. The characters were well developed, but it often seemed to leave a storyline right at the moment I wanted to dig deeper into it. It never felt like it was building towards anything, and I thought the first half was much stronger than the second. I So Enjoyed It and understand why it's getting a lot of buzz, even though it wasn't a favorite for me.

DON'T OVERTHINK IT BY ANNE BOGEL – As a longtime reader of Modern Mrs. Darcy and someone often guilty of overthinking and indecision, this book immediately appealed to me. I listened to the audiobook, so I got to hear Anne's conversational writing delivered by her soothing voice. A perfect combo! The strategies presented here aren't necessarily new or original ideas, but I loved that they were gathered into one helpful resource. The examples presented sometimes felt like shallow things to worry about, but I felt like that was part of the point – overthinking can cause such indecision and anxiety about things that are not deserving of that level of mental energy. It reads a bit like a series of blog posts, but I still So Loved It and look forward to re-reading, pen in hand.

I listened to the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series – City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass – by Cassandra Clare on audio back in May. I'd initially planned to review them once I finished all six, but now that a month has gone by... I'm not entirely sure that I'll go back to the series. I don't know what happened! I liked the action, thought the world was intriguing, and was hooked on the drama. The characters annoyed me, for the most part, but I'd still say I So Liked It for all three. And yet, the more time has passed, the less motivation I have to return. I think they were fun when I was immersed in the world but were forgettable once I'd left it. I have positive feelings for them overall and may complete the series eventually, but I definitely prefer the Infernal Devices.

Additionally, I read Book Love by Debbie Tung, a graphic novel about books. There's no story to it – just vignettes celebrating bookworms and the love of reading. It's the kind of thing I'd gift to another book lover. Nothing very new but makes a cute addition to a "books about books" stack. I read it in about 30 minutes and So Liked It

Don't forget to check out Part Two of my June 2020 Quick Lit tomorrow for reviews of six more books! And though I didn't re-read anything in June (what?!), I do have a few books that I'll briefly write about here. 

What have you been reading lately?

1 comment

  1. How could you not prefer The Infernal Devices to The Mortal Instruments! Although I will say that you probably do want to finish The Mortal Instruments books, even only if it’s to read the the end of the 6th book, which ties back to The Infernal Devices series.

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