Life is too short to read books we don’t love! I used to feel committed. If I started a book, either because of loyalty to the author or the good money I paid for it, I slogged through until the end. Nowadays, I only give a book three chapters. If I’m not hooked, I go to another. We have too many wonderful options!

Here’s an assortment of books that did captivate me. Stories from all around the globe. From death and suspense in India to mystery and romance in Russia. A timeless romance on the beaches of Hawaii. Literary fiction in Paris and a small-town thriller. 

Whatever your reading preferences, I hope you find a book on this list to enjoy!

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams

How did the first female pilots find the courage to strap themselves in an airplane seat and head off over the ocean? 

Do we ever know the complete story of those we’ve loved and lost? 

For fans of historical fiction and aviation pioneers – male and female – Beatriz Williams delivers a compelling tale. Once I settled into the rhythm of bouncing between alternating time periods and dual narrations, I fell in love with the characters and the story. 

Readers will meet Janey, a photographer and war correspondent, as she searches 1940s remote Hawaii for two missing pilots. What happened to Sam Mallory? And is the Irene she encounters at all connected to the famous missing aviator?

With hints of the Amelia Earhart mystery threaded through the storyline, this novel paints an interesting picture of what might have been.

The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose

In 1915, Sofiya was a nurse in a Russian war hospital. The makeshift hospital was the former winter home of her dear friends, the Romanovs. For Sofiya, the past is meant to be closed, sealed, and not brought up again.

In 1948, Isobelle, a New York City architect, discovers a mysterious tiara while renovating her deceased mother’s apartment. What is the background of the tiara, stripped of its jewels and concealed inside the wall? What secrets did her mom’s life contain – the life she never wanted to discuss?

Written in alternating points of view – and based on an actual treasure still missing today – this novel is a beautiful blend of historical fiction, romance, and mystery.

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

Applause for Nev March’s debut novel based loosely on true events.

A native of Mumbai, the author grew up hearing a tale of two teenagers’ untimely deaths. A legend passed down to warn young women of the dangers of traveling alone.

While recuperating from military injuries, Captain Jim peruses the Bombay newspaper and reads about the “crime of the century.” Two well-to-do young women fell to their deaths from a university clock tower. Sloppy investigators rule suicide, the wealthy Parsee family suspects otherwise, and Jim is hired to look into the case. 

Nev March transports readers to the sights and sounds and smells of Bombay in the late 1800s, when India was under British rule. Despite their socio-economic differences – and society’s decree to stick to one’s own class – Jim and the victims’ family develop deep and respectful friendships. 

After the first few chapters, this charming page-turner picked up steam, and I couldn’t put it down. It contains pieces of all we want in a story. Mystery, crime, drama, history, and a touch of romance.

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

Hailed as one of the best books of 2019, this novel is the fictionalized account of the relationship between aspiring photographer Lee Miller and famed photographer Man Ray. And – true confession – before I read The Age of Light, I wasn’t familiar with either of them.

In 1930s Paris, amid the glamorous fashion world, Lee is determined to switch gears. Instead of serving as the subject of the lens, the former Vogue model plans to step to the other side of the camera. As an assistant – and lover – to Surrealist Ray, she tumbles into a murky and complicated partnership.

Oh, I didn’t agree with many of the characters’ choices or actions. Not everyone is like us, nor do we want them to be. And isn’t this the beauty of books? They expand our realm and introduce us to thoughts different from our own.

Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker 

When Fiona Davis recommended I read this psychological thriller, I raced to the bookstore to grab a copy. 

International bestselling author Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney. Her suspenseful novels’ characters and plots are borrowed from her training in trauma, psychology, and child advocacy.

Molly and her family suffered an unspeakable tragedy. It’s been years, and Molly cannot forgive herself for the accident. “I’m finally being punished for what I have done,” she says. 

When she disappears, on a stormy night after her son’s football game, the questions mount. Did Molly want to start over and leave her past behind? Would her grieving family be better off without her? Did she write the note the investigators found?

A suspenseful page-turner with plenty of twists and turns!

Minus Me by Mameve Medwed

From the reviews I’d read, I was skeptical of this book. But I’m glad I gave it a chance!

Who hasn’t enabled a family member at some point? Like Annie, we discover “we want them to need us, but it’s we who need them.” 

When she learns her cancer diagnosis, Annie writes a manual to leave behind for her beloved husband, Sam. Since she’s taken care of him over the years, she assumes Sam won’t function on his own. Although he helps run their sandwich shop in small-town Maine, he won’t know how to defrost a chicken or sort the laundry or maintain a social life when she’s gone. 

I enjoyed this light, escapist, happy – yes, happy – read. Of course, I didn’t agree with the way the characters handled their issues, but I don’t want books to always mirror real life. Sometimes, I want a departure from what we “should” do or say.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama praised Tayari Jones’ fourth novel, published in early 2018.

Celestial and Roy, young black newlyweds in the South, looked forward to a prosperous and loving life together. Until Roy turns up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the trajectory of their marriage changes. 

As Roy endures a lengthy prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Celestial manages her own lonely and desperate feelings. And moves on with her life. 

In a raw exchange of letters between husband and wife, Jones urges us to ponder the what-ifs. How does one leave prison and return to society? Come back to love and marriage? Re-establish torn relationships?

What are you currently reading? (Me? The Guest List by Lucy Foley) How long do you stick with a book you don’t love? What is your favorite reading spot? Please take a moment to share!

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