Quick Lit: June 2020 (Part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1 of my June Quick Lit, I finished 17 books in June. I chatted about ten of them yesterday and then six in today's post. As a bonus, I'm reviewing a series I read a month ago in this post, too. As you'll see, my reading has been eclectic lately! If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK BY MARY LAURA PHILPOTT – I can't remember the last time I read a book of essays, and I'm still not sure what prompted me to buy this collection. Regardless, I'm so glad I did. This is one of my favorite reads of the year! I loved so many of the stories Philpott shares and the meaning she extracts out of them. Although I'm not in the same stage of life, I still felt like I read this book at the exact right time in my life. There was something about the way she explored memory, time, and identity that struck home with me. It helped that I could relate to her Type A personality in so many ways. I'm So Obsessed With It, and I thought Philpott was wise, relatable, and funny. She made me want to be her friend. I can't wait to re-read this one!

WHAT YOU WISH FOR BY KATHERINE CENTER* – I'm going to rip off the band-aid: I was incredibly disappointed by this book. Since Happiness for Beginners is an all-time favorite, I was thrilled to learn Duncan was the hero of this story. I expected this to be exactly what I'd wished for! Instead, I felt so let down. I loved the theme of the novel, a few quotes from it, and a cameo from a certain favorite couple. But that's it. The heroine made me want to scream. She got on my last nerve and made a "just okay for me" book even worse. I was continually questioning her reasoning and actions in a way that just pulled me out of the story. I didn't like how internal the writing was either. Give me more dialogue, more action, and some showing instead of telling. Sadly, I'm So Over It

AMAL UNBOUND BY AISHA SAEED – Did I buy this book because I loved the cover? You better believe it. I haven't read many books set in Pakistan, so that aspect appealed to me, too. For me, this was one of those experiences were I felt like a great story had a lackluster execution. I liked the heroine's voice, but something about the writing felt unemotional and clunky. There is a great message here about speaking up and inspiring change, as well as the importance of education for girls around the world. But there was just no spark or vibrancy to the writing or characters. Both were very average. I kept wondering whether I'd be more immersed in the story if I was the intended audience, but I just don't know. I was So Okay With It overall, but I did love the message at its heart.

ANNIE'S LIFE IN LISTS BY KRISTIN MAHONEY – I randomly found this one while browsing at the bookstore. I don't read a lot of Middle Grade, but this one felt like it was made for me! I'm going to list some of the reasons why:

1. As a lover of lists, I could totally relate to the heroine, Annie.
2. A book written entirely in lists ended up being a cute and clever construction!
3. Annie was an enjoyable heroine, and I loved how Mahoney captured her voice.
4. The problems felt very realistic, and Annie's reactions to them made perfect sense for her age.
5. The adorable illustrations throughout gave me even more to love about the book.
6. I was happy that the book focused on family and friendships. 
7. All of the secondary characters were well-developed and memorable.

I So Enjoyed It and can't wait to read more from this author!

HYPERBOLE AND A HALF BY ALLIE BROSH – I was familiar with Brosh's blog by the same name but hadn't read her book. I have no idea where it would be shelved in a bookstore, since it's a combo of humor/memoir/graphic novel, but this felt like a good way to dip my toe into the graphic novel genre. It's a mix of of new content and fan favorites from her blog, and I was surprised by how many of the stories I recognized. Whether Brosh was talking about her dogs or her depression, she writes with self deprecation and humor. The illustrations are rudimentary and weird, but they work somehow. It was just disjointed for me – there were stories that made me laugh and others I found awkwardly cringe-y or honestly kinda sad. I think it balanced out to a lukewarm So Okay With It overall. 

THE SONG OF ACHILLES BY MADELINE MILLER – Having read and loved Miller's Circe last year, I had to go back and read this book. I haven't read a lot of Greek mythology and know little about the Trojan War. So, most of the things described in this book were entirely knew to me! As with Circe, I found Miller's writing to be gorgeous. I listened to it on audio, too, and loved the narrator's voice. This is a character-driven story, and I did think Miller did a great job developing both Patroclus and Achilles and the secondary characters. But despite that fact, I just didn't find myself very invested in anyone. I'd expected way more emotion, at least based on some reviews I'd read. Instead, I felt a distance and detachment as the story unfolded. I So Liked It, but Circe remains my favorite of the two.

Thanks Kelly, @xoxokellynina, for letting me use your photo!

I planned to write a separate post about this series but have clearly gotten too lazy. So, instead, you're getting my short and sweet thoughts about each book! Luckily, Kleypas is an incredibly popular and well-known author, so I'm just joining a chorus of people who are already a fan of this series. But here's the backstory you have to know first: Kelly has been begging me to read Sugar Daddy for years, and I flat-out refused. I hated the title, the cover, and the sample I read once in a bookstore, so my mind was made up. Then, we did our bookish March Madness bracket and tied (I won by half a point!). Typically, the winner choses a book for the loser to read. Since we basically both won, we both got to choose a book for the other person. Can you guess what Kelly picked?

Yep, Sugar Daddy. Thankfully, Hoopla had the audiobook that I could borrow, so I figured I'd rip the bandaid, turn it to 3x speed, and get it over with. Can you tell I went into it with such a chip on my shoulder? It's a miracle that I'm able to say: this book won me over! It's unusual for the genre and felt more women's fiction than romance in many ways. I loved the heroine and was rooting for her the entire novel. I'm shocked to say I So Enjoyed It! I personally wish the hero had been introduced sooner and that the romance has been more developed because it ended up being the weakest element for me. After spending so long getting to know this heroine, I was disappointed we didn't get to dig deeper into her relationship with the hero. The narrator of the audio, Brittany Pressley, added to my enjoyment and is a big reason I almost immediately started the second book.

Blue-Eyed Devil was my favorite in the series, which I wasn't expecting. We first meet the hero in Sugar Daddy, and he had a lot to make up for based on the way he'd acted in that novel. Thankfully, this book spent a lot of time with the heroine first, and she stole my heart right away. Her backstory is heartbreaking, and it's hard to watch her go through some truly awful, traumatic things. I appreciated that Kleypas handled it with care. I loved how the hero slowly won her trust over time, and I thought it was great that the romance didn't "fix" her life. She found healing on her own, and the "happily ever after" was just icing on the cake. I So Loved It and will definitely re-read it. 

The third, Smooth-Talking Stranger, was my least favorite. And it was even more of a letdown following the magic of the second book! I thought the heroine was pretty annoying, and the hero was a bit too alpha male for me. I just was never fully invested in the story. The romance felt more attraction-driven rather than emotional, and that's never a favorite for me. Two things redeemed it and made it a So Liked It: the heroine's commitment to making sure her nephew was cared for and the cameos of the previous couples. I don't see myself revisiting it, however.

And finally, we end with Brown-Eyed Girl. I had some issues with this one, but the overall story appealed to me more than the third book. I loved the heroine's wedding planning business, her relationship with her half sister (and another storyline involving that character), and the way the heroine's possible career move was presented and resolved. But honestly, I'm not sure what the hero saw in her. She continually pushed him away – for no reason except her own insecurity! Yes, it can be realistic, but it is hard to believe that this supposedly wealthy and gorgeous man would keep pursuing her after so much rejection. That being said, I So Enjoyed It once I just suspended my disbelief on that aspect. Overall, a fun way to say goodbye to the Travis family.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

What have you been reading lately?

1 comment

  1. I AM SO HAPPY YOU READ THE TRAVIS SERIES! Those books are so good, and that series is definitely a favorite for me too. I'm extra pleased that Blue-Eyed Devil is your favorite, because that one is also my favorite too!


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