It must be summertime because all I read in June was fiction, fiction, and more fiction! Approximately 1900 pages of good stories, some of them shocking, some of them historic, some of them glorious, and mostly all of them entertaining. Here’s the scoop:
- I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe — This book had me weeping on an airplane last month, totally oblivious to everything except this drama on the Civil War battlefield and the beautiful love story that seemed more real to me than anything around me. When a young farmer decides to join the Army to earn money for a future farm, his young bride can’t stand to be left behind, so she cuts her hair and joins his regiment in disguise. Jeremiah and Rosetta felt as alive as flesh and blood, and I wanted more of the whole story forever. Vivid and gripping, and yet also a sweet and slow story that blooms bit by bit in your imagination and transports you into another piece of history. Read it! — 5 stars
- First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett — A fun read for Austen lovers, but not great literature by any means. The author switches back and forth between Jane Austen writing Pride and Prejudice in 1797, and then modern-day England in which a young woman is trying to learn if Jane Austen plagiarized Pride and Prejudice. It is a light read, not at all believable, but still fun to learn more about Jane Austen. — 3 stars
- Still Life (A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel) by Louise Penny — A murder-mystery of the slow, thoughtful kind with people you come to love and wish you knew. The author has written a whole series about this Canadian chief inspector, and this is the first book; the tenth book in the series was a NYT bestseller in 2014. I liked this murder mystery set in a quiet, idyllic town in Canada, but… well, like I said at the beginning, it overall just felt slow. — 3 stars
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn — So so disturbing. The kind of book you pick up and can’t put down until you turn the last page, stunned, and look up at the sunny, quiet day around you and thank God your life is nothing like the one in that book. It’s the first-person account of a young journalist who is sent back to her backwater Missouri hometown and ultra-wealthy family to investigate the recent murder of two young girls in the town. Shocking, brilliant, but lacks the redemptive “true truth” of Gone Girl, in my opinion. — 2 stars
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng — “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet…” — the best first line of a novel I’ve read in a long time. The book is beautiful, sad, rich, tragic, definitely worth your time. However, there is a subplot of a mother abandoning her family to pursue her own selfish dreams (not a spoiler!), and that subplot almost turned me off to the entire book. Just like in The Lowland, it made me almost too angry to appreciate an otherwise excellent novel. Does such a strong reaction from a reader make such a book good… or bad? — 3 stars
- The House at Riverton by Kate Morton — She’s a gifted storyteller, and this is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. It’s the story of a woman in her 90s remembering her youth as a servant in a large English household and the terrible secret that ruined it all. Worth reading if you’re a Downton Abbey fan! However, I loved The Secret Keeper (one of my all-time favorites) and The Forgotten Garden much better than this one. I’m trying to read The Distant Hours right now and it’s slow going…. Are you a Kate Morton fan? — 4 stars
What have you been reading this month? If you’d like other reading suggestions, check out my book review archives here!