June Book Report: Quick Reviews of What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! It’s mid-month, a time I often like to follow the lead of Modern Mrs. Darcy and share quick reviews of what I’ve been reading.

A word about these reviews: I generally don’t finish books I don’t like so if a book makes this report I was at least interested enough to read to the end. Some books I like better than others, obviously; this month A Good Marriage and Columbine were standouts for me.

Also, this post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. More details are here if you’re interested.

Now, onto the books…

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

It’s 1987 and 25-year-old Eve has ditched her unsatisfying publishing job to move to Cape Cod for the summer and become an assistant for the famous writer Henry Grey. Part of the appeal of the job for Eve, an aspiring writer herself, includes being able to attend the epic literary-themed costume party that Henry and his poet wife put on at the end of the season. By the time the party rolls around, however, much has changed for Eve and her experiences have her re-examining what she wants out of life. The time and setting of this book make it the perfect summer read. I especially recommend it for fans of Elin Hilderbrand (of which I am one).

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

Every year the parents in Park Slope Brooklyn (think historic brownstones, trendy boutiques, and well-to-do young families) hold an adults-only party while their kids are away at sleepaway camp. This year’s party ends in tragedy when one of the parents is found dead at the bottom of her staircase after returning home from the party. The husband of the dead woman is arrested for the murder and calls on his law school classmate Lizzie to represent him, which she reluctantly agrees to do. Lizzie, struggling in her own marriage, soon learns that not everything is as it seems among the Park Slope crowd. The premise of this book was irresistible to me and had me quickly turning pages to the very end.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Because I enjoyed both Kimberly McCreight’s latest book A Good Marriage and her first book Reconstructing Amelia (which I read a few years back) I wanted to read the book that came between them: Where They Found Her. Molly has recently relocated with her husband and young daughter from NYC to a town in New Jersey. As a reporter for the local paper, she draws the assignment of covering the death of an infant who has been discovered in a wooded area, which is complicated by the fact that Molly is still grappling with the death of her own younger child from a few years earlier. Molly’s investigation leads to unexpected places, including some that are close to home. Where They Found Her has all of the elements I love in McCreight’s books: a mystery, a compelling setting, and a strong, but flawed, female lead who finds herself in the role of investigator.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Whatever you think you know about Columbine, you’re probably wrong.” I’d heard some version of that statement said about this book so many times that I finally had to read it for myself. Journalist Dave Cullen arrived at Columbine High School about an hour after the 1999 shooting and spent the next ten years researching all aspects of the tragedy, including how it unfolded, what motivated the two killers, various law enforcement angles, and the experiences of the victims, survivors, and their families. The result is a book that is both remarkably thorough and compelling; somehow Cullen manages to make sense of the reams of evidence resulting from the event and present it in a highly readable way.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

I’ve been a Twitter follower of Austin Channing Brown for quite a while and, earlier this spring I ordered her book but had yet to read it. Following the murder of George Floyd and the events that followed I made a commitment to read more Black authors in order to learn about their experiences and first up was Austin’s memoir. I found this book interesting and also felt very challenged by it. Reese Witherspoon recently selected I’m Still Here as one of this month’s picks for her book club and describes it this way: “an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.”

Beach Read by Emily Henry

January Andrews is a romance writer mourning the sudden loss of her father and reeling from some unwelcome news she learned in the wake of his death. Low on funds and hoping to overcome a serious case of writer’s block, she retreats to the lake house she inherited from him and discovers that Gus, a bestselling author of “serious” fiction, and her college nemesis is living next door. The two writers agree to switch genres for their next books, with each taking on the role of instructing the other, complete with field trips. This is a contemporary romance with some heavy themes. I struggled a bit with this one but I’m definitely in the minority according to Amazon and Goodreads reviews.

What have you read lately? Anything good? I’d love to hear about it.

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  1. Hi Julie! I’ve put A GOOD MARRIAGE on my TBR list. I’ve struggled generally since March to get into a reading rhythm, but feeling like I’m getting back into a reasonable groove. Once I finish my current read (SEA WIFE), I’ve got THE NEW JIM CROW on deck.

    My book club pauses for July & August and I usually put together my own “summer reading list” using titles I already have. This summer I’m just going to let thing unfold however they do. I’ve got a “staycation” scheduled for the week after the 4th and our neighborhood pool is open. I’m hoping for hours of lounging and reading. 🙂

    1. I’ve heard of Sea Wife. Is it intense?? I need to add The New Jim Crow to my TBR. Good luck with your summer reading! We’re all having to do whatever works right now.

      1. Just seeing this. I enjoyed Sea Wife. I wouldn’t call it intense. A bit of a mystery but also about a relationship.

        1. Eileen, how was The New Jim Crow?

  2. Hi Julie, I just finished two very good books, Dear Edward (you may have recommended it?) and A Good Neighborhood, which is very popular now. Just started The Beantown Girls, set in WW2- started slow but getting better.

    1. I haven’t read Dear Edward, Ellie, but I did read A Good Neighborhood. And I’ve seen The Beantown Girls on lots of reading lists. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for letting me know what you’re reading.

  3. Hi Julie — You have added a serious number of titles to my TBR list! By the way, remember out brief change about South of Broad? Well, I was looking around the house for something to read that was not necessarily current a few weeks ago. I picked it back up and thought I’d re-read a few chapters. But it’s a real page turner, so I read the entire book. I did not really remember the number of sub-plots (perhaps because I’m sure I read it on the beach at Kiawah Island?). Thanks for the reminder. It was the perfect escape!

    1. I do remember our South of Broad conversation, Janet. I need to move that to the top of my list!

  4. Lisa S Root says:

    I really enjoyed Columbine, too. The writing was so thorough. When it comes to non-fiction,
    I feel like a truly excellent writer can take even a subject I think I am not interested in and draw me in – that is true of Dave Cullen.

    1. Well said, Lisa, I agree! Dave Cullen has a book about Parkland as well; have you read it?

  5. I read Beach Read and I’m Still Here this month as well! I wasn’t crazy about Beach Read, so you’re not alone!! Linking my May reads, if interested

  6. I read Beach Read – although I don’t normally read a lot of romances, I did enjoy this one. Sometimes I think certain books just have to be read when I’m in the right mood, and this felt like one of those happy coincidences. 🙂

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