Quick Lit: March 2021 Favorites

I read 32 books in March and shared mini reviews of 21 books last week. This is a follow up to that post featuring nine of my favorite reads from the month! Since I read so much, I wanted to highlight my most memorable reads in their own spot. You can tell my reading taste is pretty eclectic just based on the books featured here – it feels like there's something for everyone! My favorite March read was Sorrow & Bliss by Meg Mason, but I'm working on a separate, full-length review of it. If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT BY ELLE COSIMANO – This mystery was on my radar after a rave review from @idlewildreads on Instagram – plus, who could resist this eye-catching cover? For me, this got off to a shaky start. Everything felt a little weird to me, and I could not understand the heroine's decisions. But once I was able to suspend my disbelief and accept the premise, it was ridiculously fun. I loved the mishaps the heroine got into, and those twists kept me hooked. I was rooting for Finlay, even though I frequently side-eyed her Questionable choices. It felt like a book that was meant to become a movie! I wanted a little more character development, but the plot was on point. It's totally bonkers, but so much fun. I So Loved It! I can't wait to get my hands on the second book and see what happens next. If you want something fast-paced and funny that will keep you guessing, this is it!

HANNAH COULTER BY WENDELL BERRY – I've heard nothing but praise for Wendell Berry – a prolific writer that I don't think I'd ever have come across if it wasn't for bookstagram. I definitely judged his books by their covers but decided to take a chance on this one (partly because the heroine shares my name, yes). And wow, what an unexpected favorite! This gem snuck up on me in the very best way, and now I can't wait to read more from Berry. Set in Port William, Kentucky, Hannah is an older woman recounting her life and her love for her land and her community. It's a quiet, introspective novel that burrowed into my heart. I was shocked a man wrote this woman's perspective because it was so well done. There were many passages I wanted to highlight and characters that I grew to deeply love through Hannah's eyes. It's a gorgeous story, and I'm So Obsessed With It.

MY INNER SKY BY MARI ANDREW – My sister and I go to Barnes & Noble almost weekly, and I picked up this book on one of our visits because the cover caught my eye. When I saw the subtitle – "On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between" – I wondered if it would fit in with my word of the year (light). I had no idea that Andrew was the artist behind many illustrations I'd seen online! This memoir was a delight. Andrew explores different seasons and transitions in life through the lens of light. She sees the world through an artist's eyes, and I appreciated her perspective. There's a sense of wonder and delight in the way she talks about the world, even when writing about hard or heavy things, that I found moving. As with any memoir, I don't think this will work for everyone. Overall, I So Loved It for what I took away from it and what I'll likely remember about it.

BY THE BOOK BY AMANDA SELLET – This was another "bought it on a whim after falling in love with the cover" Barnes & Noble purchase. And oh my gosh, y'all, this was a delight! I loved this adorkable heroine – her love for classic literature, the way she would try to apply it to real-life situations, and the sweet romance she actually experiences. There's a fabulous friend group in this book, and I loved that Sellet went that route instead of making this nerdy, naive heroine into an outcast. There are strong, supportive female friendships in this book and that's probably what I loved most about it. Additionally, I read a lot of classics as a teenager and primarily watched costume dramas, so this book worked for me because I could relate to the heroine. I So Loved It and 15-year-old me would have been so obsessed with it. It just made me so dang happy, and I needed that feeling.

GOOD GIRL, BAD BLOOD BY HOLLY JACKSON – After loving A Good Girl's Guide to Murder last year, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel. Did I love this one even more than the first? It's entirely possible. I can't tell if that's the case or it's just that my love for Pip (and Ravi, too!) deepened as I got to spend more time with her. It was cool to see Pip try to find a missing person rather than solve a cold case because it made the pacing feel more urgent. But wow, this mystery got really dark. The case itself goes in a direction I never expected, and Jackson doesn't shy away from showing how Pip is traumatized from events in the first book. I appreciated how this story felt like a continuation of the first, even though the mystery was different. My emotions were on a wild ride while reading, and I loved every moment spent with these characters. I'm So Obsessed With It and can't wait for the third book.

THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS BY CHLOE GONG – Although I loved the cover, I wasn't drawn to this Romeo & Juliet retelling because I... don't like Shakespeare. But the library had the audio, so I decided to give it a try! Y'all, this was a joy to read. I was immediately hooked on the writing and unique premise. Set in 1920s Shanghai, the setting was so well-researched. This is historical with a bit of speculative fiction, which you'll see immediately. It was right up my alley, but I wasn't ready for the monstrous creature! I didn't know anything about the politics of Shanghai during this time, and it was fascinating to see how well it played into this story of dueling families. Gong also explores Western imperialism and Juliette's identity struggle, which gave this thrilling adventure a lot of depth. I had all the feels for these star-crossed lovers and So Loved It. I'm itching for the sequel after that ending!

WE BEGIN AT THE END BY CHRIS WHITAKER – After sampling this at the bookstore, I bought it on the strength of the opening scene. When I sat down to read it, I wondered if I'd made a mistake. The writing style was very choppy, which made it hard for me to get into the flow of the story. But I persisted and soon found my groove! The writing worked for this particular character and story. This was an incredibly tragic mystery, but I loved how it surprised me. While I liked Walk, the small-town sheriff, it's thirteen-year-old Duchess who stole my heart. A self-described "outlaw," she's just trying to take care of her brother and make the best of a shitty situation. This is the kind of mystery you read for the characters and for the emotions it evokes as you experience their joys and heartbreaks. It's the type of book that I finished and thought about long after I was done, which is why I So Loved It

THE ROSE CODE BY KATE QUINN – Quinn proves, once again, that she's the queen of historical fiction with this latest release! I was swept up in this story from the very first page, and I loved every single minute of it. Although I bought the paperback on release day, I treated myself to the audiobook, too, which just enriched my whole experience. Narrator Saskia Maarleveld brought these three women to life for me! The Rose Code tells the story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park – it opens in 1947 and jumps back to 1940, following Osla, Mab, and Beth in both. I loved the dual timelines and both were equally exciting to me. I was so invested in all three women, loved the romantic subplots, and I totally screamed (and cried) at a few of the surprises Quinn had in store. The level of historical detail is impressive, but it's the characters that Quinn does best. I'm So Obsessed With It.

LIFE'S TOO SHORT BY ABBY JIMENEZ – After loving The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist, I couldn't wait to start Life's Too Short. Finding it at the bookstore a few days early felt like winning the lottery! I loved the small glimpses of previous couples, and this couple found a place in my heart. I didn't like them quite as much, and this is my least favorite book of the three, but it was still another winner from Jimenez. She's quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romance authors! I loved that this book focused on ALS, and I thought the heroine's personality totally made sense given what she's gone through in her life. This story still has Jimenez's trademark humor and heartbreak, which made me laugh and tear up. A few things didn't work for me – issues with the baby's story and annoyance at the social media influencer aspect – but I still So Loved It overall. 

What's the best book you've read recently?

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