June 2020 Reading Wrap-up

I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of July. This year indeed has been insane. This month I read 13 books, and they mostly fell in the middle range of rating around three or four stars. There weren’t many amazing books I read, but also not many bad books I read.

It’s getting to be summer, which means I’m in the mood to just sit around and read more, so I’m hoping in July to read a lot more. We’ll see. Let’s get into the reviews now.

1 Star

Summer Desserts (Great Chefs, #1)
  • Summer Desserts (Great Chefs #1) by Nora Roberts (released 1985)
    • I so badly wanted to like this book, as the idea of a chef coming into a failing restaurant to save it and falling in love with the owner sounds intriguing. But Summer was such a pathetic character and Blake was a narcissist manipulator. There was nothing to their romance besides physical attraction, and I wanted more than just kissing and instead some talking and getting to know each other. I couldn’t stand them or the romance, despite actually liking the premise of the plot.

2 Stars

  • The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (released May 2020)
    • I so badly wanted to like this book, being a massive fan of Jane Austen and WWII era novels. However, this book has one lethal weakness which vastly decreased my liking of it. There were just too many main characters. I wouldn’t have minded the same story, with the same characters, but told from only three or less perspectives. Because we were constantly jumping from character to character, I never felt connected to any of them. Even if I liked the idea of the plot and a lot of the Jane Austen references, I could not get over that perspective issue. I had to constantly concentrate on figuring out who was who, instead of simply sitting back and enjoying the story. It didn’t help that none of the characters’ voices felt unique. Which is a pity, because the story itself could have been very interesting if written a different way.
  • Blood Brothers (Sign of Seven #1) by Nora Roberts (released 2007)
    • I found the fantasy and horror elements of this book read intriguing, and I was curious to know what was the truth behind the dark incidents of the town, going back hundreds of years. However, I didn’t like any of the characters. There are six main characters, three male and three female, who were all far too similar for me to feel attached to any of them. The romances felt strange and distant. I did enjoy the characters’ investigating the history of the town, but it wasn’t enough to make me really enjoy the book.

3 Stars

  • Love and Death Among Cheetahs (Royal Spyness #13) by Rhys Bowen (released Aug. 2019)
    • I love this series, and even with this books weaknesses, I still enjoy Georgie and Darcy and their adventure in Kenya. I loved the unique setting and the lush historical detail. However, it took halfway through the book even to get to the murder and there were way too many characters, making me confused about who was who because so many characters fit in the same basic tropes. Saying that, I was happy with the ending and the unique setting really added interest.
  • Murder at Mena House (A Jane Wunderley Mystery #1) by Erica Ruth Neubauer (released March 2020)
    • For the first half of this book, I found the story to be a bit heavy in common historical mystery tropes without being unique in any way. Widow on vacation to foreign place stumbles upon a murder and is attracted to a mysterious man. I found myself constantly a step ahead of Jane, so when revelations came, I was like, “Yeah, it’s about time.” However, once the book hit about the halfway point, it took some twists I wasn’t expecting and moved away from common tropes. I still saw the ending coming, but in a way I didn’t expect. It’s disappointing to me how the beginning half was really uninteresting, as the second half was really enjoyable.
  • Under Currents by Nora Roberts (released July 2019)
    • On one hand, I found this book an interesting, suspenseful read. I loved how it examined the really dark topic of domestic abuse. I liked most of the main characters. While no one was highly developed, they were enough where I was rarely confused about who was who. I loved the beginning of the book in Zane’s younger years, and enjoyed much of the later years as well. On the other hand, I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance, as I never felt like Zane and Darby had chemistry outside of how they related through the abuse they both endured and simple sexual attraction. I also found all the “villains” or abusers were all kind of the same. I was disappointed that all the them could have been combined into one person with little lost. However, for being such a long book it did a good job in adding enough suspense to keep my interested.

4 Stars

  • Under Fire by Henri Barbusse (released 1916)
    • This book is highly reminiscent of All Quiet on the Western Front, but it has a slightly different tone, despite it’s similar view of war and dark side of WWI. It takes a look at the French side, but also has a sense of hope and goodness of the soldiers. Yes, war is evil, but so many soldiers are brave and loyal. The book is told from a first person perspective of a WWI soldier, and follows both his experiences and the experiences he hears of other soldiers. I really enjoyed the book, despite it’s dark content.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Magic Cleaning #1) by Marie Kondo (released 2011)
  • Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein (released May 2020)
  • Jade Dragon Mountain (Li Du #1) by Elsa Hart (released 2015)
    • I adore mystery novels set in China, and this one was amazing! It takes a look not only at the tenuous political drama of 18th century China, but the rule of the Qing dynasty, societal traditions, and foreign conflict. However, the mystery itself is also exceptionally done, constantly taking twists and turns that I couldn’t predict. Li Du, while not a very clear character, is also subtle and honorable. The writing style is lush, filled with many legends from China and other parts of the world and a feel of the historic tradition of philosophy and scholarship. I really enjoyed this book!
  • A Dangerous Engagement (Amory Ames #6) by Ashley Weaver (released Sep. 2019)
    • I really enjoy this series. It is fun, while also being easy to follow. This book is no exception. The characters, while hardly deep, are unique and recognizable. The mystery is great, with twists and turns and an ending I didn’t see coming. I was slightly resentful that it was Milo, not Amory, who kind of solved the mystery in the end, but I did thoroughly enjoy this book and cannot wait to read the next in the series!
  • The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport (Original Bobbsey Twins #1) by Laura Lee Hope (released 1904)
    • This is such a cute book, and one I wish I had read when I was a child because I know I would have enjoyed it more. It’s kind of a mix between The Boxcar Children and other mysteries like Nancy Drew. It mixes between a mystery and the life of children during that era in history. I really enjoyed it for being a fun children’s classic about two sets of twins who solve problems and mysteries.

5 Stars

The Library of Legends
  • The Library of Legends by Janie Chang (released May, 2020)

There is my list of books I read this month. For the most part, I enjoyed the books I read and I was able to add a couple favorites to books published in 2020. Have you read any of these books or do they look good? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

7 thoughts on “June 2020 Reading Wrap-up

    1. Murder at Mena House was good. Enjoyable and fun for a mystery. Even though it maybe wasn’t the best cozy mystery novel, I enjoyed it and you should still consider reading it. I would be curious to see if you like it if you ever end up reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

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