SUMMER RECOMMENDED READING
Summer is the perfect time to dive into a juicy novel. I’m a fan of many genres including historical and contemporary fiction, Christian and inspirational fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, and romance. For me, it isn’t about the newest books on the market—it’s about an engaging, page-turning story that’s so well-written, it stays with me forever. Here are some of my favorite books that I’ve read recently. (It was really difficult to narrow it down to just sixteen!) I hope something on this list sparks your interest. Happy reading!
CODE NAME EDELWEISS by Stephanie Landsem
Based on a true story. In 1933 Los Angeles, a German American secretary struggling to support her family is recruited by a spy network to help foil Adolf Hitler’s plan to take over Hollywood and turn the movie industry into his own propaganda machine.
MY THOUGHTS: A fascinating piece of history (I had no idea this had happened!) and a page-turning mystery with a brave, clever protagonist who risks everything to do what is right, and a hero I fell in love with. Stunning writing, rich, engaging characterization, and a heartbreaking story that asks: Will you be silent and let evil win?
Publisher: Tyndale House
THE VANISHING AT CASTLE MOREAU by Jaime Jo Wright
A dual-time tale of two women who become embroiled in the secrets and legends of a mysterious Wisconsin castle, home to a reclusive and eccentric Gothic authoress, where women have been disappearing for decades under eerie circumstances.
MY THOUGHTS: Moving back and forth between 1870 and present day, this haunting tale with its dramatic setting and fascinating characters will keep you guessing and turning pages long into the night!
Publisher: Bethany House
HORSE by Geraldine Brooks
Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse moves back and forth between 1850 Kentucky and modern-day Washington, DC, in an exploration of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.
MY THOUGHTS: The Pulitzer-prize-winning author of March, Geraldine Brooks conjures a testament to the intelligence and humanity of animals, and a moving narrative about race and art. Anyone who ever dearly loved an animal will find riches in this unforgettable novel.
HER LOST WORDS by Stephanie Marie Thornton
An inspiring novel about two literary legends and the many ways their words transformed our world: Mary Wollstonecraft, a firebrand feminist and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and her visionary daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
MY THOUGHTS: A brilliant and unforgettable portrait of two remarkable women, as if told from their own pen in the most personal of memoirs. I was drawn in by their deep intelligence, fiery passions, desire for change, and determination to follow their hearts. Bravo!
LADIES OF THE LAKE by Cathy Gohlke
An orphan from Prince Edward Island forms a close friendship with three other girls at a lakeside academy, only to have the sisterhood—and her very identity—torn apart by circumstances of World War I and a terrible explosion in Halifax Harbor.
MY THOUGHTS: This deeply affecting novel by a four-time Christy award–winning author will touch your heart with its transformative tale about the wonder and complexities of friendship, love, and belonging. There’s a lovely tie-in to one of my favorite novels, Anne of Green Gables. I adored every moment and the unexpected, magnificent surprise at the end brought me to joyful tears.
Publisher: Tyndale House
TWILIGHT AT MOORINGTON CROSS by Abigail Wilson
In this Regency Gothic romantic mystery, when a young Englishwoman’s benefactor is found dead, she can only obtain financial freedom if she marries one of two designated gentlemen—but she falls in love with another man entirely.
MY THOUGHTS: I was drawn in from the first page of this unique Regency story that features a courageous and endearing heroine, an unforeseen inheritance, a mysterious manor, a suspicious death, and a sweet and stirring romance.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
A SHADOW IN MOSCOW by Katherine Reay
A betrayal at the highest level risks the lives of two courageous female spies: MI6’s best Soviet spy and the CIA’s newest Moscow recruit. As the KGB closes in, a compromise must be struck if either woman hopes to survive.
MY THOUGHTS: An eye-opening, sophisticated, deeply involving Cold War spy novel with two brave female protagonists in two different eras determined to build a better world, this novel compellingly interweaves history, fiction, politics, and philosophy from the conclusion of WWII to life behind the Iron Curtain.
Publisher: Harper Muse
THE ROSE CODE by Kate Quinn
In 1940s England, three very different women answer the call to the mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes, and must later re-team to root out a spy.
MY THOUGHTS: Jam packed with suspense and intrigue, intensely researched and rich in detail, this glorious, compelling novel about the personal struggles and growth of three women codebreakers at Bletchley Park who become firm friends leads you on an emotional thrill ride.
Publisher: William Morrow
WISH YOU WERE HERE by Jodi Picoult
In the first weeks of the Covid pandemic, a young woman who’s stranded in the Galápagos finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if she, like the creatures on the island, is evolving into someone completely different.
MY THOUGHTS: A deeply moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit in a moment of crisis, that makes you question what’s really important in life. The best part: the sensationally clever, completely unexpected mid-point plot twist will knock your socks off!
Publisher: Ballantine Books
THE BELLE OF BELGRAVE SQUARE by Mimi Matthews
A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger. A PopSugar and BookBub Best Romance of 2022.
MY THOUGHTS: I love everything Mimi Matthews writes and this nod to Beauty and the Beast is one of her best, with a spunky heroine who adores books and reading, a handsome hero who’s hiding secrets, an intriguing English estate, and plenty of twists and turns in the romantic plot.
DOWN A DARK RIVER by Karen Odden
In 1878 London, Inspector Michael Corravan, an Irish former bare-knuckles boxer and dockworker, investigates a string of murders that has rocked Victorian London’s upper crust.
MY THOUGHTS: This spellbinding, brilliantly plotted Victorian murder mystery features a fascinating and relatable detective, a cast of complex characters, powerful prose, exceptional attention to historical detail, and enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT OF JANE AUSTEN by Syrie James
I had to include one of my one books on this list, didn’t I?! If you’ve ever wished Jane Austen had written a seventh novel, this suspenseful, “richly imagined Jane Austen ‘road novel’” (Kirkus, starred review) and “literary feast for Anglophiles” (Publisher’s Weekly), is for you. The tale from a priceless, long lost Jane Austen novel is interwoven with the story of the modern-day librarian who discovers it, only to fall for the man who could take it from her.
MY THOUGHTS: This romantic book-within-a-book was inspired by an outline that Jane Austen wrote, “Plan for a Novel.” When the missing Austen manuscript is discovered, you get to read the entire novel and worry about its finder—and its fate.
BLOOMSBURY GIRLS by Natalie Jenner
In a century-old bookstore in post-World War II London, three determined, take-charge women in a world run by men navigate a complex web of relationships, goals, and dreams.
MY THOUGHTS: A heartwarming homage to friendship, ambition, and the power of the written word, this feel-good literary confection will have you cheering for the three female protagonists who plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
UNNATURAL CREATURES: A NOVEL OF THE FRANKENSTEIN WOMEN by Kris Walherr
The untold story of the three women closest to Victor Frankenstein is revealed in a dark and sweeping reimagining of the classic.
MY THOUGHTS: A thrilling, extraordinary tour de force that imagines new depths to the Frankenstein story and brings it to fascinating life in a tale of adventure, love, betrayal, genius, madness, life, death, and good vs. evil. I will never see Shelley’s Frankenstein the same way again.
Publisher: Muse Publications
TWO WARS AND A WEDDING by Lauren Willig
A dramatic coming-of-age story about a bold and adventuring young woman who finds herself caught up in two very different wars on both sides of the Atlantic.
MY THOUGHTS: In the late 1890s, a Smith College graduate leaves behind her comfortable life to become a nurse in the Greco-Turkish and Spanish American Wars, an experience that will change her forever. Smart, impeccably researched, phenomenal storytelling with a satisfying romance.
Publisher: William Morrow
THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS By Deborah Crombie
Scotland Yard Detective Inspectors Gemma James and Melody Talbot join forces to solve a captivating mystery that blends a murder from the past with a powerful danger in the present.
MY THOUGHTS: This was the first Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mystery I read, and even though it is book 15 of 19 in the series, I not only jumped right in and followed the story perfectly, I fell in love with the characters, loved all the twists and turns (and the music!), and was charmed by the heart-tugging romance. I look forward to reading the whole series from the beginning.
Publisher: William Morrow
I had the thrill of a lifetime participating in the Jane Austen Festival this month in Bath, England. It is the largest and longest-running Jane Austen Festival in the…