It’s that time of year again–time for my list of book suggestions for this summer! Does it seem like just last week that I sent out the 2021 picks? How does time go by so quickly?
Keep reading to see what I’m recommending this year…
Fun and Surprising – The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck
When five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to reveal their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.
Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss is determined to keep her underemployed.
Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.
Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.
Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.
Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.
Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I love anything about books and book lovers, and the story here is just delightful. Maybe it’s because I’ve had the experience of being thrown in with a group of strangers who completely changed my life, but I loved the premise that these strangers discover connections they never imagined. There are twists and turns that take us down Fifth Avenue to a lovely ending. If you enjoy a nice, clean story with intriguing characters and an addictive storyline, you will love this book.
Historical Fiction – The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray
An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy.
Most castles are protected by men. This one by women.
A founding mother…
1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.
A daring visionary…
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.
A reluctant resistor…
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.
Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.
My Thoughts: Oh, my! What a wonderful book! If you love historical fiction in which real facts combine with secret discussions and behind the scene stories, then this is the book you’ve been waiting for. As a history buff and student of Military History, I loved going with Stephanie Dray inside the locked rooms and hidden places inhabited by the Lafayette family and those determined to preserve their history. Three overlapping stories, during three different (and not so different) time periods, create just the right amount of intrigue and tension while familiar names and faces–George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Marie Antoinette, and Lafayette himself–take you into the past you’ve heard about but never really imagined. This is a book that you won’t be able to put down!
Nonfiction – The Hero of Two Worlds by Mike Duncan
Few in history can match the revolutionary career of the Marquis de Lafayette. Over fifty incredible years at the heart of the Age of Revolution, he fought courageously on both sides of the Atlantic. He was a soldier, statesman, idealist, philanthropist, and abolitionist.
As a teenager, Lafayette ran away from France to join the American Revolution. Returning home a national hero, he helped launch the French Revolution, eventually spending five years locked in dungeon prisons. After his release, Lafayette sparred with Napoleon, joined an underground conspiracy to overthrow King Louis XVIII, and became an international symbol of liberty. Finally, as a revered elder statesman, he was instrumental in the overthrow of the Bourbon Dynasty in the Revolution of 1830.
From enthusiastic youth to world-weary old age, from the pinnacle of glory to the depths of despair, Lafayette never stopped fighting for the rights of all mankind. His remarkable life is the story of where we come from, and an inspiration to defend the ideals he held dear.
My Thoughts: Once you’ve finished The Women of Chateau Lafayette, you must dive into The Hero of Two Worlds. Any student of American Military History knows that there were few men and few soldiers like the Marquis de Lafayette. Beyond his complicated relationship with George Washington and his loving but not always faithful marriage, Lafayette was a man who embodied the ideals of liberty. His military prowess and his unwavering belief that all men should be free (eventually coming to the realization that this truly meant ALL men) made the Marquis a man ahead of his time. Without him, it’s unlikely that the United States of America would exist as it does today. Filled with descriptive prose, this wonderful biography portrays the man underneath the coat of a soldier and what made him the fascinating figure who still captures our imagine and inspires our dreams of a better world.
Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. But can she write her own happy-ever-after? In this valentine to readers, librarians, and book-lovers the world over, the New York Times-bestselling author of Little Beach Street Bakery returns with a funny, moving new novel for fans of Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop.
Nina is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.
Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile — a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.
From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.
A grand baronial house on Loch Ness, a quirky small-town bookseller, and a single mom looking for a fresh start all come together in this witty and warm-hearted novel by New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan.
Desperate to escape from London, single mother Zoe wants to build a new life for herself and her four year old son Hari. She can barely afford the crammed studio apartment on a busy street where shouting football fans keep them awake all night. Hari’s dad, Jaz, a charismatic but perpetually broke DJ, is no help at all. But his sister Surinder comes to Zoe’s aid, hooking her up with a job as far away from the urban crush as possible: a bookshop on the banks of Loch Ness. And there’s a second job to cover housing: Zoe will be an au pair for three children at a genuine castle in the Scottish Highlands.
But while Scotland is everything Zoe dreamed of—clear skies, brisk fresh air, blessed quiet—everything else is a bit of a mess. The Urquart family castle is grand, but crumbling, the childrens’ single dad is a wreck, and the kids have been kicked out of school and left to their own devices. Zoe has her work cut out for her, and is determined to rise to the challenge, especially when she sees how happily Hari has taken to their new home.
With the help of Nina, the friendly local bookseller, Zoe begins to put down roots in the community. Are books, fresh air, and kindness enough to heal this broken family—and her own…?
My Thoughts: I laughed, I cried, I shook my head, and I applauded throughout both of these books. The Bookshop on the Corner was so delightful, I had to head right to The Bookshop on the Shore. The characters are just that – characters. You can’t help but smile as you read the antics they get themselves into. Nina is the aloof girl in Corner who makes one bad decision after another, taking her from a job she loved in London to tthe middle of nowhere with a broken down van that she sees as her ticket to a happy future. She just can’t see the forest for the trees, leading to hilarious and also heartbreaking scenes as she tries to get her life together and prove to everyone that she is smart, capable, and not your average librarian or bookseller. Then there’s Zoe who, in Shore, drags her young son from the known world of London to the Highlands of Scotland. While the Loch Ness Monster looms just outside the window, Zoe has to deal with the monsters inside the house where she works as an au pair. The biggest monster she faces, though, is the one who steals her heart.
A mystery with a shocking end – The Fiancée by Katie White
“A tense, simmering, fast-paced mystery.”—Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest and The Girl from Widow Hills
The New York Times bestselling author returns with an unsettling but riveting psychological thriller about a captivating woman who joins a family and threatens to upend their picture-perfect lives.
They had everything they needed for a perfect family vacation: close-knit relatives, a bucolic setting . . . and a murderer in their midst?
Summer’s looking forward to a break from hustling for acting work in Manhattan when she, her husband Gabe, and Gabe’s nine-year-old son arrive at the annual family get-together at her in-laws’ sprawling estate. On the agenda are leisurely gourmet meals, tennis matches, and plenty of relaxation by the pool.
But this year, Gabe’s brother Nick has invited his new flame Hannah, whom Summer immediately recognizes from a few years before. Oddly, her brother-in-law’s girlfriend claims not to know her. Yet she charms the other family members, and after Nick announces that he’s proposed to Hannah, Summer doesn’t have much choice but to grin and bear it.
Then the reunion is rocked by tragedy when a family member is found dead. Though the doctors attribute the loss to natural causes, a grieving Summer fears that the too-good-to-be-true Hannah is involved, even as Gabe dismisses her suspicions.
How far will Summer go to expose the truth? As she investigates just what Nick’s fiancée might have done to keep her perfect image intact, she begins to fear that the first death might only be the beginning . . .
My thoughts: Are you one of the those families who always vacations together at the family’s beach house? This is the book you won’t want to have with you on that trip! Unless, of course, you secretly harbor fantasies of a vacation where revenge is a dish best served cold. You will be gluedright up to the very last page to this psychological thriller about the fiancée who turns the family vacation upside down and may even be responsible for murder. I’m usually very good at solving whodunits, but this one kept me guessing until the end. White’s next book comes out this month, and I can’t wait to devour it as I do all her books. Keep a glass of wine on hand while you read this. You’ll need it to calm your nerves!
As warm and sweet as a summer’s day – The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson
“Lovely…Another heartening story about the possibility of striking out in a new direction at any age. It is also a soothing read, especially welcome in these anxious times.” —Christian Science Monitor
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances, about three women, one dog, and the narrowboat that brings them together
Eve expected Sally to come festooned with suitcases and overnight bags packed with everything she owned, but she was wrong. She arrived on foot, with a rucksack and a carrier bag. “I just walked away,” she said, climbing on to the boat. Eve knew what she meant.
Meet Eve, who has left her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia, a defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, who is suddenly landlocked and vulnerable.
Before they quite know what they’ve done, Sally and Eve agree to drive Anastasia’s narrowboat on a journey through the canals of England, as she awaits a life-saving operation. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of narrowboat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds. At summer’s end, all three women must decide whether to return to the lives they left behind, or forge a new path forward.
Candid, hilarious, and uplifting, Anne Youngson’s The Narrowboat Summer is a celebration of the power of friendship and new experiences to change one’s life, at any age.
My Thoughts: You may have caught my review of this in The New York Journal of Books. Just as delightful as Youngson’s Meet Me at the Museum, The Narrowboat Summer takes its characters and readers on a journey of the body and mind. By the time the trip through the canals is over, the book’s cast of misfits and outcasts become beloved friends whom the reader will not soon forget. A chance meeting, orchestrated unknowingly by a very independent dog, brings three women together when they all need each other the most. Eve has just lost her demanding and all-encompassing job. Sally has left her mentally absent husband. Anastasia has been given a life-altering diagnosis. All three women are at a crossroads, but the summer is just beginning, and a three-month adventure awaits.
The Narrowboat Summer is a story about a journey through the twisting, turning canals of England as well as a journey through the twisting, turning phases of life. Eve discovers her softer side while, at the same time, discovers hidden strengths and ambitions. Sally finds an independence she never thought she possessed or even desired. Together, they form a bond of friendship that extends beyond the deck of the Number One, Anastasia’s vessel, and includes a palette of colorful characters who flow in and out of the landscape of the rivers and small towns along the way.
Other books I highly recommend:
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins- for the Hunger Games fanatic, this book takes us back in time to explore the complicated relationship between President Snow and the Everdeen family.
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton- A fictionalized account of real-life eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros, the girl who won the freedom of Cuba with the help of newspaper tycoon, Joseph Pulitzer.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict – this historical fiction about Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, brings to life this amazing woman in the way that only Marie Benedict can.
Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly – A beautiful tale about a family of slaves from Southern Maryland and their quest for freedom.
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarity – a twisted tale about a mother gone missing and the ensuing search for her whereabouts.
Have a great summer, and happy reading!
Come see Amy on one of these dates:
June 4, 2022 – Christ Church 350th Anniversary Fair, Broomes Island, MD
June 12, 2022 – Saints Peter and Paul Women’s Guild Brunch, 1214 South Washington St, Easton, MD, 11:45am
June 15, 2022 – Catch Amy on Delmarva Life on channel 16, Salisbury, MD at 5pm.
June 18, 2022 – SunDial Books, Chincoteague, VA – The Launch of My New Chincoteague Trilogy!
June 18, 2022 – Crisfield Bluegrass Festival, Crisfield, MD, 1:00-7:00pm
August 13, 2022 – Makers Market, St. Michaels Inn, St Michaels Inn, 1228 S Talbot St, St Michaels, MD 9am-3pm
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s new book, Seeking Tranquility, will be released June 15, 2022. Pre-order your copy now!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021).