For today’s blog post, I’m sharing a roundup of all of the books I’ve read so far this year. I’ve made my way through 12 novels so far and below you’ll find a mix of thrillers, mysteries, beach reads and historical fiction novels. Hopefully something will jump out at you and make it on your “must read” list next! Note: The books listed below begin with the books I enjoyed most to the books I liked least. You may also find a bunch of books I’ve loved in one place in the “Books” section of the Peanut Butter Fingers Amazon shop!
Books I’ve Read So Far This Year
CARRIE SOTO IS BACK BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
My rating: A / Genre: Fiction with sports fiction, family drama and romance
I should preface this review by saying I am a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her books The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six get A+ ratings from me so I am not sure why it took me so long to read her latest novel, Carrie Soto is Back. Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long because I enjoyed every single page of this book. The peek into the life of a tennis pro fascinated me. The fact that I found myself rooting for an otherwise unlikable character is a testament to the author’s talent. I loved the way the book weaves in complicated relationships but stays true to the main character’s challenging personality. I cringed and I sighed and I smiled and I held my breath throughout this novel. I loved the beginning, the middle and the end. It’s a solid read and one I highly recommend.
Carrie Soto is a 37-year-old retired tennis champion and undoubtedly the best women’s player in the world… until now. When one of her most coveted records is overtaken by Nicki Chan, a force of power and talent on the courts, Carrie makes an unexpected return to the sport she loves so much. With her father Javier, a former tennis pro, at her side as her coach once again, Carrie is determined to reclaim her record but her ruthless, polarizing personality means not everyone is rooting for her. Carrie’s lack of desire to be loved by the public is a characteristic that hasn’t lessened in her years away from tennis. She returns to the court with laser focus and zero desire to make any friends or forge any romantic relationships, even if she senses increasing interest from fellow tennis pro and former one-night-stand Bowe Huntley.
THE PARIS APARTMENT BY LUCY FOLEY
My rating: A- / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Talk about a wild ride!!! The Paris Apartment was one heck of an interesting and twisty read. Surprises were sprinkled throughout the book — something I appreciate since so many thrillers save all the twists and surprises for the end — and I absolutely devoured this one! (Worth noting this book seems to be polarizing but I am in the camp of people who really enjoyed it.) I found myself noticing the author’s creativity in this story over and over again and absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves suspenseful thrillers. It was filled with tension and questionable characters and was one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a while.
The book begins when Jess arrives in Paris for the first time to visit her brother Ben. She arrives at his apartment and quickly notices something is off. He’s not there and not answering his calls. His neighbors bristle at her questions and the tires his Vespa appear to be slashed. And, also, his apartment is amazing. How could he possible afford such a high-end place on a struggling journalist’s salary?
As Jess begins searching for Ben more and more questions begin to surface, questions that make her seriously concerned for her brother’s safety… and also her own. Who are Ben’s neighbors? Why does she get the feeling they know more about her brother than they’re willing to share? Who can she trust? And will she ever see her brother again?
ONE BY ONE BY RUTH WARE
My rating: A- / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Talk about a book with a million and one characters! I listened to One by One by Ruth Ware on audiobook and initially thought I would never be able to keep track of all the characters mentioned because looking back to see who’s who is a lot harder when you’re listening to a story than when you’re reading one. Thankfully I trusted myself to keep things straight and even with 5,000 characters to keep straight, this book did a great job of giving characters identifying traits and personalities and mixing them up with a hefty sprinkle of mystery, suspense, twists and intrigue. I predicted the main twist of this book but that did not stop me from enjoying this thriller! (Random note: This was an especially enjoyable one to listen to during the winter months as the book takes place in a snowy chalet.)
One by One begins with a company-wide retreat to a luxurious, secluded ski chalet in the French Alps. The eight employees of a music-sharing start-up called Snoop are gathered together for some company-wide bonding that quickly takes a turn when one of the shareholders in the company creates a surprise presentation to highlight the merits of a lucrative buyout offer. The offer is a controversial one and tensions quickly rise within the company.
Personalities and opinions clash but everyone agrees to hit the slopes despite warnings of severe winter weather. When an avalanche hits and the chalet is completely cut off from all outside communication, concern begins to mount when the group realizes one person never made it back to the chalet from the slopes. As the storm picks up steam and friction between coworkers increases, the group becomes increasingly panicked, especially when another group member turns up dead… and then another…
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS BY B.A. PARIS
My rating: A- / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
After reading a handful of B.A. Paris novels and thinking they were good-not-great, I was looking forward to reading the author’s most popular novel, Behind Closed Doors. This was one heck of a disturbing book! Consider this a warning as I don’t think it’s a book everyone will enjoy but if you can stretch your believability muscles a bit and prepare yourself to stomach some horrifying events, it’s a read you will absolutely fly through. It was the most captivating of the B.A. Paris novels I’ve read and I absolutely loved the ending.
The book is narrated by Grace, a women recently married to prominent attorney Jack Angel. Jack is as stunningly handsome as he is intelligent and has built a successful career representing women who have been abused by their husbands. Grace and Jack have what appears to be a perfect marriage. Grace is the epitome of elegance and Jack is head-over-heels in love with his wife. They’re a couple who cannot seem to get enough of each other, as evidenced by the fact that Grace is never seen without her husband. Upon marrying Jack, Grace quit her job to dedicate herself to gardening, cooking and being their for her hard-working husband. She no longer has a cell phone or hobbies outside the home but any questions thrown her way are met with a smile and seemingly unflappable devotion to her husband. It all begs the question, what is happening behind the closed doors of their picture-perfect mansion? Why does Grace share an e-mail address with her husband? Why does she cancel all solo plans she’s made with friends? Why is she looking increasingly gaunt and fragile? Who are Jack and Grace Angel really?
DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY BY RUTH WARE
My rating: A- / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
I’ve been a fan of Ruth Ware’s novels ever since I first read The Woman in Cabin 10 several years ago. The Death of Mrs. Westaway was another winner. I listened to this one on audiobook amidst all our moving mayhem and it was such a great way to make unpacking feel like less of a chore. The story was captivating, twisty and creative. It wasn’t overly predictable and while it was a long one, I didn’t mind the length since I wanted something to keep me entertained for hours and hours during our move.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway begins when Hal receives a mysterious letter in the mail. In the letter, Hal is informed of an inheritance she is set to receive following the death of Mrs. Westaway, a grandmother Hal’s deceased mother never mentioned. Hal quickly realizes she is not the correct beneficiary of Mrs. Westaway’s will but she desperately needs money and finds herself attending the funeral of her supposed grandmother.
At the funeral, Hal meets Mrs. Westway’s children, her housekeeper and the lawyer tasked with carrying out the will. When no one questions Hal’s identity, she quickly becomes immersed in an increasingly confusing and potentially dangerous situation. Who is the real beneficiary of Mrs. Westaway’s will? Could Hal really be connected to this family in some way? Why didn’t Mrs. Westaway leave more money to her own children? What is this family hiding?
WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE BY ELIN HILDERBRAND
My rating: A- / Genre: Fiction with a little mystery and romance
I just adore Elin Hilderbrand’s novels. They truly are my perfect end-of-the-day read and combine creative plotlines with interesting characters, intriguing locations and a perfect sprinkle of mystery. They’re light and breezy reads and I loved diving into What Happens in Paradise, the second book in her Paradise series last week. (You may read my thoughts on Winter in Paradise, the first novel in the Paradise trilogy, here.)
What Happens in Paradise picks up right where Winter in Paradise left off. (If you’re interested in this book, definitely start with Winter in Paradise or you’ll likely be very lost!) Irene Steele is still reeling following the death of her husband of 30+ years, Russell Steele. When it becomes increasingly clear the helicopter crash that killed Russ and his now-discovered mistress Rosie may not have been an accident, Irene finds herself wrapped up in FBI investigations and questions she cannot answer. Irene returns to St. John, the island where Russ lived his double life, along with her sons, Cash and Baker, each motivated to return by the desire to find answers but also by the pull they feel toward the island and the intriguing people on it.
THE ADDRESS BY FIONA DAVIS
My rating: B+ / Genre: Historical Fiction
Fiona Davis is one of my all-time favorite historical fiction writers. Along with her interesting characters and plotlines, I love the way she uses real places and incorporates some elements of history in her novels. (If you’re new to her work, start with The Lions of Fifth Avenue! That’s still my favorite.) The Address was another winner and, true to typical Fiona Davis fashion, flip flops back and forth between two time periods, 1884 and 1984. (Worth noting: I MUCH preferred the 1884 chapters!) The book is a little longer than it needed to be as most of the action happens in the last third of the book but it’s still an interesting read and one I looked forward to diving into at the end of the day.
Currently working as a servant in an upscale hotel in London, Sara Smythe’s world is turned upside down after a run-in with hotel guest and up-and-coming architect Theodore Camden. Theo is ambitious and captivating and when he offers Sara a job at The Dakota Apartment House in New York City, she is instantly intrigued by the possibilities. His proposal promises more responsibility, increased pay and more time with Theo, a man she quickly comes to find herself drawn to despite the fact that he is married and has three young children.
Fast forward 100 years and Bailey Camden is struggling after a stint in rehab. She’s broke, jobless and in desperate need of a job and when her cousin, Melinda offers her the opportunity to oversee renovations at the Dakota, Bailey cannot resist. Melinda and Bailey are related through the Camden family; Melinda is Theodore Camden’s granddaughter while Bailey’s grandfather was his ward, and yet Bailey’s grandfather, and therefore Bailey and her father, received none of the family’s multi-million dollar inheritance. As Bailey embarks on overseeing renovations of the historic building, she begins to uncover long-kept secrets, secrets surrounding the murder of Theodore Camden and secrets that could change everything.
IN A DARK, DARK WOOD BY RUTH WARE
My rating: B+ / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Clearly I’ve been on a Ruth Ware kick this year! They’re easy, suspenseful reads that tend to rope me in quickly and keep me guessing. I really enjoyed In a Dark, Dark Wood though I found it to be one of the more predictable novels I’ve read by this author. I’d still recommend it if you’re a fan of thrillers and want to read a book that will keep you invested until the very end.
The book begins when Leonora is invited to the bachelorette party (“hen weekend”) of her former best friend, Claire. She hasn’t spoken with Claire in years and is confused by the invitation. After making a pact with another friend, she decides to attend and this decision is one she instantly regrets. The weekend kicks off at the secluded countryside home of the aunt of Claire’s new best friend, a determined-to-make-the-weekend-perfect and oddly obsessive woman named Flo. When Leonora finds out who Claire is marrying, the news kicks off what feels like a series of unnerving events and revelations… and one may cost someone their life.
TROUBLES IN PARADISE BY ELIN HILDERBRAND
My rating: B+ / Genre: Fiction with a little mystery and romance
If you are looking for a good beach read to throw in your bag during spring break this year, Elin Hilderbrand’s Paradise trilogy is a good one! Troubles in Paradise is the third and final book in the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t want to share too much about it as to avoid giving away the previous two books but it includes all of the things you’d expect from an Elin Hilderbrand novel — a little mystery and a little romance all wrapped up in an easy-to-read novel.
After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved.
With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold—including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.
As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John—and the truth that transformed them all.
THE HUNTING PARTY BY LUCY FOLEY
My rating: B / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Years ago I read The Guest List by Lucy Foley and loved it so I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick up another one of her books! I flew through the audiobook version of The Hunting Party by the same author today and think the audiobook version likely made me enjoy the book even more (something I wouldn’t usually say) because the narrators were so talented and the voices were so good! It was filled with everyone’s-a-suspect intrigue and I looked for small pockets of time throughout the day when I could multitask and listen to this one because it kept me thoroughly entertained from the very beginning.
The Hunting Party begins as a group of long-time college friends embark on their annual tradition of a a New Year’s Eve getaway. The tightknit group is headed off to a secluded lodge where they are almost completely alone in the wilderness with the exception of two staff members and a pair of unexpected guests. They toast to a good time, laugh and catch up but an undercurrent of secrecy, animosity and betrayal runs through their friendship. When one of the group members goes missing after a night of drunken partying, body is discovered in the snowy wilderness and everyone’s a suspect.
BRING ME BACK BY B.A. PARIS
My rating: B / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
This book was a super-fast read and I flew threw it. Well, I suppose I should say it was a super-fast listen because it was another book I listened to through my library through the Libby app. I waffled back and forth from really enjoying this book to feeling like it was grasping at straws. I love trying to figure out the twists that come in the thrillers I read and found a lot of this one predictable but I definitely did not predict the very end of the book so it gets a few points for that twist! (I will say I did not love the ending but also felt a little indifferent about it which may speak to the fact that I didn’t feel overly invested in the characters or the book as a whole.) One major plus for this book is the fact that I was all-in on it from the very beginning.
Twelve years ago, Layla disappears during a vacation with Finn, her boyfriend of just over one year. Finn is shocked and devastated and initially a suspect. Eventually cleared of suspicion (thanks, in part, to lies he told), Finn tried hard to move on. He’s left confused and floundering until he eventually finds comfort and solace years later… with Layla’s sister, Ellen.
When the two become engaged, it should be the happiest time in Finn’s life but when he learns Layla us spotted by an old neighbor and items from Layla’s past begin to turn up, he is left reeling. Could Layla really be alive? Should he tell Ellen? What does this mean about the past? And his future? As Finn becomes increasingly convinced Layla may really be alive, he becomes increasingly skeptical, paranoid and disturbed, feelings that only increase when mysterious emails begin to arrive in his inbox.
THE DILEMMA BY B.A. PARIS
My rating: B- / Genre: Thriller/Mystery
You know those books that have you thinking, “Get on with it already!” That was THIS book for me. I did not feel this way because the book wasn’t interesting; on the contrary I thought it was a creative premise but it was so incredibly drawn out that it began to lose me and frustrate me. and not because it wasn’t interesting but because the whole book centers around two secrets, one we know and one that’s very much up in the air for three quarters of the book. The implausibility of one of the character’s decision to hide news he’s unsure about from his wife is infuriating and then this feeling almost bleeds into feeling indifferent because it’s so redundant and overplayed. I say all this on one breath but then in another breath clearly I was invested in the story enough to fly through it so there’s something to be said about that as well. It’s an entertaining read but one that had me wishing the author eliminated 100+ pages of redundancy from the story. I also don’t want to speak too much on my thoughts on the ending because it might reveal too much but it definitely got to me.
The Dilemma centers around secrets. Adam and his wife Livi have been mostly happily married for years and are the parents of two young adults, Marine and Josh. They’re deeply in love and on the cusp of celebrating Livi’s 40th birthday at a party Livi has poured her heart and soul into, as it’s a party she’s dreamed about for years. The guest list is large, as is the expense, but one person will not be attending… or so Livi thinks. Livi is convinced Marnie will not be able to attend as she’s studying abroad while Adam is secretly thrilled about the surprise he’s cooked up with Marnie that will have her arriving soon after the party begins.
Adam doesn’t know Livi is secretly glad Marnie will not be attending. She’s been harboring a secret for weeks, one she know would come to blows if Marnie were at her party. It’s not until Adam gets wind of some news that could change his surprise forever that Adam’s secret shifts from one of quiet excitement to deceitful horror. Both determined to protect the other, Adam and Livi go through the motions of party planning and celebration wondering how long they can withhold information from their beloved spouse until their world falls apart.
Additional Book-Related Blog Posts
- Thriller Audiobook Recommendations (December 2022)
- 15 Best Books I’ve Read So Far This Year (August 2022)
- 15 Beach Reads for Summer (May 2022)
- Book Recommendations by Category (December 2021)
- 10 Books I Recently Read and Loved (July 2021)
- 10 Books I Recently Read and Loved (November 2020)
- 10 Books I Recently Read and Loved (June 2020)
- 15 Books I Recently Read and Loved (February 2020)
- 12 Books I Recently Read and Loved (September 2020)
- 10 Books I Recently Read and Loved (February 2019)
Question of the Day
Any book recommendations to share? Please let me know!
My family book club read Carrie Soto Is Back and we all really enjoyed it! The book for this month is About Grace which I’m picking up from the library today. It’s written by Anthony Doerr. Even though I haven’t started it yet, he wrote All the Light We Cannot See so I have high hopes
Thank you so much for sharing these recs, Julie! Always love to see them. I am so impressed with how much you are able to read with so much on your plate. Just curious, are any of these authors BIPOC? Also, have you ever considered linking to Bookshop instead of Amazon for your book recs? Bookshop is the BEST and supports small businesses. Highly recommend!
Kim S says
I read The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones and really loved it. I realized that I left the Louise Penny (inspector Gamache) series unfinished, so I started back in with “The Nature of the Beast”. Highly recommend that whole series…need to read in order. I loved the Dressmakers of Prospect Heights by Kitty Zelda’s. I also read Lark Ascending by Silas House and I highly recommend that one, too. I just finished “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. She’s an amazing author. While I do recommend this book, it was a hard read. The subject matter focuses on the opioid crises and can be pretty emotionally challenging….but what a story! I understand it’s a modern day “David Copperfield”.
If you’re on a thriller kick, check out the author Riley Sager! His book Lock Every Door is kind of sinilar to the Paris Apartment. Also I think you’d probably enjoy the Housemaid and the Housemaid’s Secret by Freida McFadden.
My top 2023 books so far:
Me before you trilogy (several years after everyone else :))
The Only Woman in the Room- really interesting historical fiction
The Lost Apothecary
One Italian summer
I also re read the Winter in Paradise trilogy by Elin too! Such a light read when you are feeling sad and want something fun, easy and tropical
Try reading Daisy Darker! I think you’d enjoy it.
I devoured Lessons in Chemistry. And I appreciate that you introduced me to Lucy Foley and Fiona Davis-thank you!
I second Lessons in Chemistry – so good!
I third Lessons in Chemistry!! So so good!!
I know you’re a Marie Benedict fan so I would highly recommend the Personal Librarian – one of the best books I read last year!
Katie S says
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a must! It’s historical fiction and I truly couldn’t put it down. It is heavy, per usual with historical fiction, but so good.
Sydney Fry says
Hi, Julie~ I read The Call of the Wrens by Jenni L. WAlsh– a very compelling read. I also liked The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton, and Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots: a Novel by Jessica Soffer.
I always like these posts! I totally agree with your assessment of “The Dilemma”! I listened to that a while back and found it quite frustrating.
Last weekend, I finished “A Woman is No Man” by Etaf Rum, and recommend it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34313931-a-woman-is-no-man
I’m currently reading “The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.”, which is super interesting so far! I love the author’s writing style: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58329303-the-last-confessions-of-sylvia-p?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=27WcB4ACmb&rank=1
I’m looking for a New audiobook and thanks to you I now have plenty of Idea… thanks !
Thank you so much for sharing, I always love your book recommendations!!
“The One” by John Marrs is SO good!! It’s similar to “The Soulmate Equation” that you recommended, and I really enjoyed. It has more of a thriller angle (but not scary) and is told from the perspective of several characters- I couldn’t put it down!
Erika Morris says
I’m a huge reader and usually stick with mysteries and thrillers but I just finished Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt and I absolutely loved it. It was charming and heartwarming and I just want to recommend it to everyone.