While I regularly share little peeks into books I’m reading in my day-in-the-life posts and my Things I’m Loving Friday roundup of weekly favorites, I know it’s easy to lose track of my latest book recommendations. I hope that periodically highlighting a handful of the books I recently read and enjoyed in one place will make it easier for you to find a decent book to read the next time you’re on the lookout.
The twelve books in today’s roundup include everything from historical fiction novels and thrillers to mysteries and breezy beach reads. I hope something below pops out at you and, as always, please share your latest book recommendations with me in the comments section so we may all benefit. Happy reading!
Oh and one more quick note: I’m in the process of creating and updating an Amazon page for Peanut Butter Fingers where you can easily find all of my recent Amazon recommendations (including books) in one place and I hope this will be a helpful way to find my latest book recommendations as well!
10 Recent Books I Read and Loved
THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ BY HEATHER MORRIS
I read this book in two days because it was so gripping. The story is heartbreaking and horrifying but somehow romantic and hopeful. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a best seller for good reason. It tells the true story of Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Lale Sokolov from the moment of his transportation to the concentration camps to his immediate connection to Gita, a woman whose arm he must permanently mark after he is assigned the job of Tätowierer (tattooist).
Lale’s job as tattooist comes along with privileges and he uses his ability to speak multiple languages and sneak extra food to help his fellow prisoners, at great risk to himself. Once Lale meets Gita, he feels a renewed sense of purpose to make it out of the concentration camps alive so he can marry her and be with her forever. Imprisoned for nearly three years, Lale witnesses unbelievable cruelty and the most horrific acts of violence and inhumane treatment but he keeps his hope alive, a hope driven largely by the intense love he has for the woman he tattooed number 34902.
I’M FINE AND NEITHER ARE YOU BY CAMILLE PAGÁN
In a world of perfect lives and relentless comparison, reading I’m Fine and Neither Are You felt like a real look into relationships and struggles that build and sneak up on us in everyday life. The book follows the life of Penelope Ruiz-Kar, a woman who is doing it all but feeling rundown in the process, as she faces a shocking tragedy that reveals that the seemingly perfect life of her best friend, Jenny, was little more than a perfectly curated image. Inspired to make a change in her life, Penny and her husband, Sanjay, commit to improving their marriage through total honesty but the process quickly becomes more intense, difficult and emotional than Penny anticipated.
I loved this book because of the growth that occurs throughout the novel. While the beginning of the novel is heavy, I found myself rooting for Penelope and Sanjay and my feelings about their marriage grew and softened right along with their relationship. Penelope and Sanjay’s marriage is far from perfect but both partners slowly open up about what they need from each other and seem committed to making changes in a realistic way, while recognizing they are both flawed themselves. The author writes in a way that made me feel like I was somehow getting a peek into a real person’s marriage. I’m Fine and Neither Are You is thought-provoking, real and raw with complex characters that evolve in a believable way.
THE BANKER’S WIFE BY CRISTINA ALGER
I added this book to my must-read list for the summer after a couple of you recommended it to me and it was a serious page turner! I flew through this book and really enjoyed the twists and turns.
The Banker’s Wife begins when a private plane with only two passengers takes off for Geneva and completely drops off the radar. Its remains are later located in the Alps and the widow of Matthew Werner, a private banker for Swiss United, an offshore bank with shady practices and an ever shadier client list, is informed of the crash. Annabel Werner is shocked and heartbroken but her feelings of devastation are quickly accompanied by questions that lead her to determine her husband’s death was no accident. As Annabel continues to dig, she finds herself face-to-face with some powerful and extremely dangerous people.
At the same time Annabel finds herself searching for answers, Marina Tourneau, a driven journalist engaged to Grant Ellis, the son of presidential hopeful James Ellis, agrees to help her boss on a story that results in the murder of her boss only days later. The story involves digging into the client list at Swiss United, the very bank where Matthew Werner worked before his death, and Marina quickly uncovers information that could destroy the lives of some of the most powerful men in the world, including some she may soon call family.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
I never mentioned Ordinary Grace in a Things I’m Loving Friday post because I read it during my little hiatus over the past month but it is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story is set in a small town in Minnesota in 1961 and is told from the perspective of 40-year-old Frank Drum, as he looks back on his life during the summer when he was 13 years old. It was a summer marked by tragedy and death several times over but it was a summer that shaped Frank and taught him valuable lessons that would last a lifetime. It’s a captivating story and an emotional read full of poignant words I found myself jotting down because I didn’t want to forget them.
IT ALL COMES BACK TO YOU BY BETH DUKE
It All Comes Back to You reads a little richer and deeper than your average beach read but it’s still an easy read with an interesting plot line and an unexpected twist at the very end of the book. It All Comes Back to You follows the lives of two women whose lives came together when Violet, a captivating former Homecoming Queen whom everybody loves, came to live at the assisted living facility where Ronni works. After Violet’s passing, she leaves a generous amount of money to Ronni in her will with one stipulation — Ronni must write a book about Violet’s life within one year. The project is daunting but engrossing and Ronni soon comes to learn more about Violet and some of her former patients than she ever imagined. (Note: I admittedly did find parts of this book a little eye-roll-inducing but enjoyed it enough to recommend it.)
ALONG THE INFINITE SEA BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS
Earlier this year, Beatriz Williams became one of my favorite authors. Along the Infinite Sea is the third in the Schuyler Sisters series by Williams and I thoroughly enjoyed it! (I highly recommend beginning with The Secret Life of Violet Grant if you’re interested in reading this short series. I think that is the best one though I enjoyed all of them!) I’m admittedly a sucker for books that jump back and forth from the past to the present and build intrigue along the way and this one did just that as it followed the present-day life of Pepper Schuyler and the past of a woman who recently came into Pepper’s life, Annabelle Dommerich.
Pepper and Annabelle’s lives intertwine when Pepper finds and fixes up a very rare Mercedes that Annabelle purchases because the car once belonged to her husband, a Nazi general. As the complicated pasts of the women are revealed, secrets unfold involving Jewish lovers, surprise pregnancies and enough intrigue to make you fly through this book!
THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA BY JULIET GRAMES
This book was unlike any book I’ve read before. It is very disturbing but also completely engrossing. The book follows the life of Stella Fortuna, a strong-willed, beautiful, contemptuous woman, from her birth through old age, as she narrowly escapes death a multitude of times.
As told by Stella’s granddaughter, the story is challenging to read at times, intense, heartbreaking, eye-opening and captivating. Now an old woman, Stella and her younger sister, Tina, haven’t spoken in many years, a rift that began after one of Stella’s many accidents. As young girls and adult women, Stella and Tina were incredibly close, a bond that began during childhood as they lived in poverty in a small Italian village and strengthened through their journey to America when they emigrated with their family prior to World War II. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna attempts to explain how this rift came to be while also detailing Stella’s life, her struggles against her father and men and her intense desire for independence.
Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger
Girls Like Us is a page turner and a fast-paced read I thoroughly enjoyed. It was suspenseful without creeping me out and kept me engaged the entire time. The book follows Nell Flynn, an FBI agent recently placed on leave, as she returns to her childhood home following the tragic death of her father, Martin Flynn, a homicide detective with the Suffolk County police department. She’s quickly recruited by Lee Davis, her father’s former partner, to help with the investigation of the murders of two young women, murders that appear very similar and remain unsolved. As Nell learns more about the most recent murder, she begins to question everything, including the possible involvement of her father in both cases. She begins to investigate and her questions begin to bleed into her past as she starts to wonder who really murdered her own mother years ago when Nell was only seven years old.
THE MOTHER-IN-LAW BY SALLY HEPWORTH
I’ve read a few of Sally Hepworth’s novels in the past and loved them (I highly recommend The Family Next Door) and when this book popped up as a recommended read for me on my Kindle, I skimmed the reviews and it sounded quite interesting! The Mother-In Law jumps back and forth from the past to the present and follows the lives of Lucy and Diana, two women connected by their love of Ollie, Lucy’s husband and Diana’s son. Lucy always dreamed of having a close relationship with her mother-in-law but after meeting Diana, her hopes of feeling a maternal warmth from her husband’s mother were quickly squashed. While Lucy and Diana’s relationship was far from warm, she finds herself reeling after the police knock on the door and inform Lucy and Ollie that Diana is dead from an apparent suicide. Questions follow and Lucy and Ollie quickly realize the police do not believe Diana caused her own death so two questions remain… How did Diana really die and who killed her?
I loved the writing in this book and enjoyed the way it jumped back and forth between the past and the present and gave the reader insight into why the characters behaved the way they did toward each other. I also loved seeing relationships grow and change in a believable way and it kept me interested an engaged until the very last page.
THE GLASS OCEAN BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS, LAUREN WILLIG AND KAREN WHITE
Having recently read and loved The Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White, I knew I had to read The Glass Ocean by the same trio of authors. It was another great novel and I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy historical fiction. The Glass Ocean follows three women and flip flops back and forth from best-selling author Sarah Blake’s life in the present day (2013) to the lives of Caroline Hochstetter and Tess Fairweather as they set sail on The Lusitania, the British ocean liner that was sunk by a German U-Boat during its journey from New York City to London, in 1915.
Sarah’s career as an author has stalled after her first book and she’s at a loss for her next big idea until she opens a chest that belonged to her great-grandfather who died aboard the RMS Lusitania. The contents of the chest could alter history and her research takes her to England where she meets John Langford, a former Member of Parliament whose family archives connect her great-grandfather to Caroline, a wealthy woman whose high-profile marriage is in jeopardy, and Tess, the daughter of a con-man, hoping to pull off one final heist before creating a better life for herself. With access to the Langford family archives, Sarah could get the answer her burning questions and discover a lot more than she ever bargained for in the process.
Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
I always see Elin Hilderbrand’s books pop up on perfect summer beach read recommendation lists, so I figured Summer of ’69 was worth a shot when I found myself in the market for a breezy read that didn’t feel too heavy or suspenseful. I loved the fact that the novel is set in 1969 in the midst of man’s first walk on the moon, Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal, the civil rights movement and more. The novel takes place on Nantucket and follows the Levin family and the family’s four children. Blair, the oldest daughter, is in a rocky marriage and pregnant with twins. Tiger, the only boy in the family, was recently deployed to Vietnam. Kirby, the middle daughter, decides to exercise her independence and spend her summer on Martha’s Vineyard where she stumbles upon an unexpected romance with a man whose mother knows about her troubled past. Jessie, the youngest at only 13 years old, is coming of age and forced to spend the summer with her secret-keeping mother and grandmother. The book was filled with enough intrigue to keep me engaged the entire time. It was predictable without feeling overly contrived and I looked forward to reading this novel before bed every night. If you’re looking for an easy beach read, I recommend this one for sure!
THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES BY SALLY HEPWORTH
The Secrets of Midwives was a great read and follows the lives of three generations of women — a mother, daughter and grandmother — who have all found their callings as midwives. Neva Bradley, the daughter of Grace and granddaughter of Floss, surprises her mother and grandmother with news that’s she’s pregnant but the surprise doesn’t stop there. She’s already in her third trimester and determined to keep all of the details pertaining to her pregnancy, including the baby’s father, a secret. Neva’s desire to withhold her baby’s father’s identity takes her grandmother, Floss, back nearly 60 years and forces her to deal with a potentially life-changing secret she’s held close to her heart for years.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story lines of all three women in this novel and found The Secrets of Midwives to be both interesting and intriguing. I loved reading about midwifery and while I did predict the main twist in the novel, it was still an enjoyable read.
Question of the Day
What’s the best book you recently read?
What book are you currently reading?
I am currently reading A Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand and enjoying it!