What I’m Reading: September 2017 Book Recommendations

Here are some of my recent fiction book recommendations, whether you're looking for suspense novels or historical fiction that sweeps you away.

Since my last book post was in June, I have a slew of good book recommendations to share today. It always feels like I read more fiction during the summer, and this year was no exception. I read some fantastic suspense novels that were perfect for the beach.

What I’ve Been Reading

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This novel set in WWII Europe has been on my TBR list for umm… years. I actually checked it out from the library a few times and simply didn’t get into it. Finally I got over the hump and then I was hooked. Marie Laure is a teenage blind girl in German-occupied France. Werner is an orphaned German boy whose gift for engineering takes him to a prestigious school that trains Nazi soldiers. The story is unique and opened my eyes to elements of WWII that I had never really considered. The writing is beautiful, and the story is compelling. I highly recommend it.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

On the heels of All the Light We Cannot See, I launched into another WWII novel, although the two are very different. This novel takes place in France and details the plight of two sisters during the war. Each has her own personal struggles, and in turn, fights back against the enemy in her own way. I was struck by the description of life under German occupation. In the past when I thought about those who suffered during WWII, I mostly thought of the concentration camps. I didn’t often think about how others were affected, but The Nightingale helped me see that there were so many types of suffering. It’s an emotional story, but inspires perseverance and heroism under the worst circumstances.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Zoe Walker, a middle-aged mom in London, is shocked and unnerved when she discovers a picture of herself accompanying an ad for a chat line in the daily paper. Soon after, she sees another picture advertising the same chat line and recalls the woman’s face from a recent article about victims of theft. Zoe is mostly able to call it coincidence until she sees a news report about a murder and realizes the murdered woman’s picture was recently featured in the same chat line advertisement. Together with police officer Kelly Swift, Zoe attempts to determine who is behind these mysterious ads and whether she might actually be in danger. Ruth Ware (author of The Woman in Cabin 10) describes it perfectly as “a deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”

The Dry by Jane Harper

Aaron Falk returns to his small Australian hometown to attend the funeral of one his best childhood friends. In a seemingly open and shut case, Luke killed himself after killing his wife and young son. While Aaron has been out of touch with Luke for some time, something about the situation doesn’t quite add up. Apart from facing the possibility that Luke did in fact kill his own family, Aaron must come to terms with the mysterious death that drove him and his father from town many years before. While I enjoyed the suspense, I felt like the conclusion was a stretch. It’s a good story showing how tension and suffering can lend bias to a situation, but I wasn’t sold on the ending.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

I was on a suspense kick this summer and this one didn’t disappoint in the heebie jeebie category. There’s a lot going on in this novel. Alice Lake is a mother of three in a small town on the coast of England. She discovers a man suffering from amnesia on the beach one day, and inexplicably takes him in. Meanwhile, Lily Monrose is back in London, searching for her missing husband, Carl. It seems simple enough, but Jewell also weaves in flashbacks of a teenage sister and brother, Kirsty and Gray, who encounter a strange young man named Mark while vacationing on the coast with their parents. The author does a good job of tying the pieces together, only revealing bits and pieces at a time, until you’re left dying to know how it will turn out.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

This thriller was one of my favorites this summer and kept me guessing until the very end. Kit and Laura are eclipse chasers, traveling the world to experience the path of totality. (Coincidentally, I read He Said/She Said just before the recent solar eclipse. I think it added to the creepiness factor.) During an eclipse festival, Kit and Laura interrupt what they believe to be a crime in progress. The ensuing consequences of their involvement continue to plague them, no matter the distance they put between themselves and the others involved. This is a story about perception and the ripple effect of lies, even those told with the best intentions. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy psychological thrillers.

What have you been reading??

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Summer Fiction Review

In June I shared a list of books I hoped to read during the summer. Our school runs on a slightly different schedule with an 8 week summer break so this list is still in progress. I’ve read two of the books from the list, as well as some other fantastic fiction. During summer, I gravitate to breezy fiction and suspenseful page turners. Here are five great choices to toss in your beach bag.

Summer is the perfect time for fast paced fiction. Check out five selections to toss in your beach bag today.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I started this one right after I shared my summer reading list. It took me about three days to finish! I’ve heard it called this year’s Gone Girl, but I admit I liked Gone Girl better. (Side note: The Girl on the Train is also going to be a movie in 2016.) The principal character, Rachel, has a lot of issues and although she is somewhat redeemed by the end, her story is troubling. I think that the overall plot is original and certainly full of uncertainty to keep the reader guessing.

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Another suspense novel, this is the story of Grace, an NYC therapist, whose life is torn apart when a woman from her school community is murdered and Grace’s own husband turns up missing. The story is compelling, although heavy on description, and I found myself sometimes wanting to skim sections. The author really develops the character of Grace and how circumstances force her to confront her own identity and how it must evolve in the wake of tragedy.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is the story of Louisa, who takes a job as a companion for Will, a former hotshot paralyzed in an accident. Will and Louisa butt heads quite a bit, but over time, each is positively influenced by the other. Funny side note: a friend recommended another book by Moyes and I thought it was the sequel to Me Before You. Based on the title of the other book, I had a good idea of how this one would end. It turns out that the other book has nothing to do with this one. Luckily, there is an actual sequel to Me Before You coming out on September 29.

The Hypnotist’s Love story by Liane Moriarty

By the end of summer, my energy was drained, and I couldn’t handle any heavy reading. The Hypnotist’s Love Story was perfect for my frazzled end-of-summer-buy-all-the-school-things brain. Fans of What Alice Forgot, also by Moriarty, will enjoy this story of a hypnotherapist who gets involved with a nice widower that happens to have a stalker. There are a few twists, but mostly it’s a lighthearted read.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I really enjoyed this story of a French hotelier in a German-occupied village during WWI and a modern English widow fighting for the rights to a painting. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and Moyes does a good job here of bridging the past and present with a little mystery. I’ve only read two novels by Moyes but I can understand why she’s so popular. Her writing isn’t overly complex, but she touches upon issues that address the moral gray areas that plague her characters.

What have you read recently that you would recommend?


*This post includes affiliate links.See my full disclosure here.

{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy & Just A Girl and Her Blog}

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Summer Reading List – 2015

One of my favorite parts of summer is how life slows down a bit. We let go of the frantic mornings trying to get everyone out the door on time and in one piece (and not forget anyone’s water bottle like I did yesterday.) The list of obligations is a little shorter, and the long days of sunshine give the illusion of actually having more time. I love to create a summer reading list of books from my to-be-read pile.

Are you looking for some good books to throw in your beach bag this summer? Check out these titles I'm picking up this summer.

I’m excited to jump into some fiction since I’ve been reading mostly nonfiction for the past several months. I’ll circle back at the end of the summer and share my reviews. If you’re looking for some good suggestions, check out this post for some great options. A couple other spots where I always find a lot of great recommendations are my friend Kelsey’s blog The Unbook Club and Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Here’s my list so far. I’d love to hear if you liked any of these or if you have other suggestions!

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

If you haven’t read this yet, you probably know at least ten people who have because it’s super popular right now. This one is coming with me on a spa trip with the girls next weekend. The suspenseful story centers around a woman named Rachel and her mysterious connection to a murder. Read my review here.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Another popular choice, this one is going to be a movie soon. (Side note: one of the characters is played by the same actor who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series, although this fella outgrew his awkwardness in a big way.) I prefer to read a book before seeing the movie so I’m looking forward to picking up this supposed tearjerker. Read my review here.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives intersect during WWII promises to be beautiful and devastating at the same time. I love historical fiction, but it’s probably obvious why this is not the book I’ve chosen for reading by the pool.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

I found this recommendation on the Facebook page of one of my favorite authors so it’s worth a try. The narration, done by an English girl named Ruby, begins at her conception and details her quest to learn the many secrets of her dysfunctional family. It sound intriguing to be sure.

For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

It doesn’t come out until mid August and it’s not fiction, but I’m counting it on the list because I’m so excited to get this book in my hands! If you haven’t read anything by Jen Hatmaker before, start here. She’s hilarious and honest and amazing. Her books are challenging in a very authentic, not-self-righteous way.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?


*This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.

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