When I wake up in the morning, I’m beginning to feel hope. I’m making plans, I got my second vaccine, and I see life revving back up again. And I’m thrilled about that…

We may read less now that days are heading towards normal – or the new normal. But whether we’re cooling our heels in the dentist’s lobby, sitting on a train, or relaxing on the patio with a cocktail, a great book is always the perfect companion. 

And, so – may I present – five fiction books I’ve enjoyed this month…

Wickwythe Hall by Judithe Little

Judithe Little rewrote and tweaked this novel for seven long years before a publisher accepted it. “I was a decent writer, but I had to learn to tell a story,” she told me during our interview. Bingo! Mission accomplished. 

After I devoured her recent book, The Chanel Sisters, I wanted to take a peek at her first historical fiction novel. Published in 2017, Wickwythe Hall may be readily available for lending at the library. 

This book combines everything I crave in a story. Lush scenery, captivating relationships, beautiful descriptions, and well-researched history. 

Its focus is Operation Catapult, a little-known piece of World War II history. After powerful French naval ships were captured by German forces, Winston Churchill didn’t want Hitler to use the fleet against the British. England’s prime minister launched an attack on the captured French fleet, killing 1000 French sailors. 

Inspired by real people, places, and events, readers learn what it took to survive the long war. 

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

On a recent walk, I listened to a podcast interview with author Sarah Pearse. She said she’d read a Swiss magazine article featuring abandoned sanatoriums that had been converted into hotels. And, off she ran with a creepy plot idea!

If you like the idea of a thriller based in a remote sanatorium turned into an edgy, luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps, this is your type of page-turner.

Do life events always happen the exact way we remember them? Detective Elin Warner, stranded at the hotel when an avalanche strikes – and murder and mayhem follow – cannot get past the death of her brother.

I raced through this New York Times bestseller, with its short chapters and quick pace. I only hope the novel’s gruesome details stem from Pearse’s research and not her imagination! 

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

Insecurities may drive us to behave in ways we admonish.

This rom-com story, with a good amount of bookish charm, arrives in the world on May 4. If you need a “light” read – and adore a bookstore backdrop – put a copy on hold at the library now. 

When Thea looks back on her younger self, she thinks that “everything I did was new. Now, nothing I do is new.” But life is about to change…

Thea is starting over, at an age when that’s not so simple to do, in a coastal Scottish town. She escapes a dissolving marriage and enters a new world, complete with an ancestral home, a job in a quaint bookstore, and a crotchety boss who’s tough to please.

A good reminder it’s never too late to try something new!

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland 

What do we do for our children? Or the people we love? 

Based on some true events – heartbreaking for any family to endure – this thought-provoking novel transports readers to 1934 Atlantic City. Like any parents, Esther and Joseph Adler want the best for their daughters.

Labeled one of last “summer’s best reads” on several lists, this novel generated lots of buzz and great reviews. And I’m glad I read it. 

I feel like that sometimes with books. I don’t shout their praises from the rooftops, and they may not have been an absolute favorite. But when I finish the last page and close the cover, I’m happy I read the story.

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Yes, it’s true, bitter people can do bad things.

After I read The Good Sister, I looked into what else this beloved Australian author has written. I now clearly understand why Hepworth has legions of fans across the globe. 

Lucy’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law, Diana, involves misunderstandings, mistrust, and murder. Told in dual timelines and narratives, readers see – with all the unwritten rules – how it is easy for a mother-in-law to get it wrong.

Optioned to actress Amy Poehler for television, this twisty novel prompted me to think of all the reasons I adore my daughter-in-law! 

What are you reading right now? Me – The Survivors by Jane Harper. Do you have a favorite book of 2020? Once your world opens up, will you continue to read at your “pandemic pace”? Please join the conversation!

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