Wondering what to read next?

Hello there, reader! If you've finished all of my books and are wondering what to read next, check out some of my favorite reads by clicking on the buttons below. I love sharing my favorite reads with the world, and while I read and listen to some books that don’t wow me, I choose not to review those.

xox,

Kristan

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In need of a cleansing sob fest? Check out my recommended book list.

Fiction

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The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff 

 

An edge-of-your-seat masterpiece based on real events in Poland during World War II. Pam Jenoff has done it again with a harrowing and somehow beautiful story of Sadie, a Jewish girl who must hide in the sewers of Krakow in order to avoid being sent to the camps or murdered in the streets by the Nazis occupying the city. She finds an unexpected friend—a lonely Christian girl named Ella who feels compelled to help…first by bringing food, then in a series of escalating steps to get Sadie and her family to safety. It a is heartbreaking, agonizing, wonderful, uplifting story about the best and worst of humanity.

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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

 

Kristin Hannah is one of the best authors alive. My review could probably stop there, but good golly, what a book! What a book! As with what is perhaps my favorite book of all time—The Nightingale—The Four Winds is a story of survival against the odds. Starting in 1930, Elsa Martinelli was doing well enough, despite a marriage she didn’t particularly want. But she finds a sense of family with her in-laws. Then comes the Dust Bowl, the stock market crash and the Depression come crashing into her world, and Elsa must choose between staying and striking out for California to carve a better life for her children, facing incredible hardship, bleak poverty and sickness.

The Four Winds, which came out this past spring, is also oddly prescient of today’s struggles in America. A pandemic in the form of “dust pneumonia,” a divided nation suspicious of outsiders, unemployment, poverty…this is not an easy read. But it’s a magnificent read, a story of resilience, endurance and friendship and the amazing, indomitable power of a woman on a mission.
 

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Judge's Girls by Sharina Harris

 

When beloved Judge Joe dies, his daughter, stepdaughter and wife all struggle with the sudden loss…and each other. Maya, Joe’s biological daughter, is a talented attorney. All her life, her dad told her she’d have to work harder as a Black woman, and she has…to the point where she refuses to accept help or support from anyone. Joe’s wife, Jeanie, has always been cast in the role of white trash, but her love for Judge Joe was everything. Alcohol gives her the escape she wants, but it’s ruining her. Her teenaged daughter, Ryder, has never known another father other than Joe, and having always been a bit of an outsider in high school, starts hanging with a bad crowd to escape her suddenly horrible home life.

What I loved about this book was that Sharina Harris doesn’t pull any punches—each character, including the sainted Joe, is flawed, layered and complicated. And Sharina includes an element that was present in (Im)Perfectly Happy as well, something rarely seen in women’s fiction—a solid, loving relationship that won’t budge under pressure. Refreshing, intelligent and completely relatable, this book is a winner.

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(Im)perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris

 

What a great read! Four college friends reunite ten years after graduation to remind each other of their dreams of the future. Now that they’ve had time to become fully-fledged adults, they have to assess if those goals are still viable, if they’ve made excuses for why they haven’t achieved them, and how they want to spend the next ten years of their lives. I loved each friend so much; strong, funny, hardworking women I’d love to meet for a glass of wine. Highly recommend!

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The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

 

A lovely story about a woman who leaves her corporate job to try to save her late mother’s San Francisco bookshop and care for her grandfather. Starting over is one of my favorite themes in a book…reinvention, going after something new, taking chances. I loved it, as I love all Susan Wiggs books. 

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The Peacock Emporium by JoJo Moyes

 

This is the story of an unusual family and their broken dynamic, and I loved every minute of it. (I listened to this one, and the narration by Elizabeth Sastre was utterly fantastic.) Susanna Peacock is the main character, and her transformation from unhappy misfit to a fully realized person was so believable and interesting. With a complicated past, a too-stoic father and a few secrets about her heritage, she has reason to feel like she’s never quite belonged in her own life. The charming set-up of her shop, her coworkers and regular customers was perfection.

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Promises of the Heart by Nan Rossiter

 

A multi-leveled, beautifully written story that will glow in readers’ hearts long after the last page is turned.

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Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

 

I don’t know of another author who could do justice to Little Women. In a warm, realistic, and humorous voice, Virginia Kantra knocks it out of the park with Meg & Jo in this rich retelling of the beloved classic.

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Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert

 

Two female anti-heroines struggling to shed their pasts, seek revenge and recreate themselves against the backdrop of the obnoxiously rich of New York. Juicy and delicious fun. You really don’t know which woman to pull for, since no character is just one thing.

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Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

 

Gah! It’s terrifying in the most wonderful, creepy, believable way! Hanna is a seven-year-old girl who chooses not to speak. Her mother, Suzette, senses something is off about her daughter’s selective mutism…and her daughter’s obsessive love for her father. Suzette loves her kid, even when she fears her. Is the story over the top? Sure! Give me an evil child story any day for escapist chills and thrills. (Waves to Damien, who still terrifies me.

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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Read it one sitting, and I can’t remember the last time I did that. Sally doesn’t make any cheap choices in this novel; every character is nuanced and relatable. Side note: my two moms loved it, too, and we’re having a special lunch just to discuss it.

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I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Reading a book by Sophie Kinsella is like visiting with an old friend. This book delivers on everything that’s made Sophie’s books so wonderful—a heroine struggling with self-worth and family pressure, a charming job in a family home-goods shop and a hero with depth and heart.

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You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley

A hypnotic, slow burn of a book about what our lives are and what we might want them to be, and how those two ideas clash. Deep emotional insight, no easy answers and beautiful writing made it a fast and delicious read.

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Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown

Raw with emotional honesty, this book is a fearless, graceful and compelling look at family, marriage and parenting. Utterly captivating. I loved it!

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

HOW TO WALK AWAY by Katherine Center tells the story of recovery and falling in love when you least expect it. On the day her boyfriend proposes, Margaret has a bad feeling. She’s right. An accident leaves her in the hospital, and no one wants to tell her how bad things are. I loved the intimate writing and cast of imperfect family members, friends and professionals who have to help Margaret adjust to a new way of life. Plus, there was a really believable love story, and that was the icing on the cake.

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Little Big Love by Katy Regan

A beautiful, wrenching, joyful story about family, loss, love… and one intrepid little boy. This book will steal your heart.

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Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

The woman can do no wrong. She is nothing short of a national treasure. No one can write about childhood with as much poignancy and insight.

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

For all of us who prefer to stay in and read, who like our lives tidy and uncomplicated, this is our story. Except, of course, Nina’s life becomes uncomfortably messy…and fascinating…when her biological father, a stranger to her, includes her in his will. A celebration of those of us who love trivia, reading, bookstores and home. Absolutely lovely.

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Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior

This book was a gentle, beautiful story filled with yearning, loneliness and self discovery. I ached for Ellie, so alone in her marriage, wanting to be seen and valued yet not really knowing her own worth. Seeing her journey, her small defiances and her slow realization that she deserved better was incredibly satisfying. Gorgeous writing.

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman

 

This is the story of a town that has one thing going for it—hockey. I don’t know the first thing about the game except it happens on ice, but as was true for Friday Night Lights, this book is not really about hockey…it’s about life in a small, cold town and the chance to get out. Trigger warning—a girl is raped. At this point, I almost stopped reading, but I’m glad I didn’t.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

A lovely, creative story about the roads not taken in our lives. Consumed with depression, Nora attempts suicide and finds herself caught in between lives, in a library staffed by her childhood school librarian. Each book Nora reads sucks her into the life she didn’t choose—glaciologist, musician, marriage to the boyfriend she rejected. It’s a Wonderful Life meets Groundhog Day. The ending was a bit easy, but the book left me feeling bright and optimistic. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the brilliant Carey Mulligan, which added considerably to the experience.

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Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette

A gently humorous story, AGATHA OF LITTLE NEON tells the story of Agatha, who became a nun at age 22. When her parish in upstate New York goes bankrupt, Agatha is transferred to Rhode Island with her three fellow nuns. Once, the nuns were daycare providers. Suddenly, they’re working in a halfway house for recovering addicts. Ms. Luchette has a quiet, calm way with the point of view of Agatha. The story is a bit slow to start, and I have to admit that I was distracted by the notion of four young American women turning to the religious service a bit farfetched, as a New England Catholic myself. (Does anyone actually know an American-born nun under the age of 75?) But this is a work of fiction (proven again with two white American-born males under the age of 43 who are Catholic priests), and it’s infused with a gentle wisdom. Agatha is a thinker, not a speaker, someone who joined religious life in order to be accepted, rather than because God called her. The glimpses into the sisterhood and community are told in short vignettes, and whether it’s the car breaking down or a visit to a wind farm, the story is gently propelled forward. When Agatha takes a job as a math teacher in the nearby Catholic school, her worldview starts to open, and she starts to question her choices. Agatha is delightful, honest, wry and intelligent, and this novel was a quick and delightful read, as light and sweet as a glass of prosecco.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

A beautiful woman (sigh) becomes mute after murdering her husband, and her (male) psychologist is obsessed with getting her to speak. It sounds cliché—the tragic, mysterious woman who loved her husband and yet killed him, the young doctor devoted to unlocking her mysteries. But it’s not! It’s so good and twisty and turny, and the ending will make your head explode in the very best way, and you’ll want to read it again immediately. Told from alternating points of view—our first person male narrator and the journals of our silent patient—it’s a fantastic book. Fans of Gone, Girl and The Girl on the Train will love it.

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Island Queen by Vanessa Riley

 

Imagine having to buy yourself out of slavery—the slave holder being your biological father. Imagine having to buy your mother and sister their freedom. And imagine doing this as a woman of color in colonial times. This is the real-life tale of Doll Kirwan, told by master storyteller Vanessa Riley, who captures the strength, intelligence and power of Doll, an entrepreneur, hotelier and landowner who refuses to be defined by anyone but herself. The book is not only a one-sitting read, it’s a slice of history that needs to be told. Utterly brilliant, powerful and inspiring, it will take your breath away.

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We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

 

An amazing, heart-pounding story of a Jewish family’s struggles to survive in Poland during World War II. Two parents, five grown children, their spouses and babies…the odds are not in their favor. I read it on one day.

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Dear Child by Romy Hausman

A brilliant thriller, Dear Child is the story of a triangle of people—a woman who’s escaped from the cabin where she was held captive, only to be hit by a car; the little girl who claims to be her daughter; and the father of a missing woman, hoping this Jane Doe is his daughter. So twisty and turny! Who held “Lena” captive? Where is the little boy? Whose body is lying in the living room? What I loved about this book, aside from the sheer genius of the plot, was that it was scary without being gory. No graphic details, which is perhaps more unsettling than too much information. All the characters were so well developed, and the writing was fast and sharp. Kudos to the translator who brought this to life from the original German, too. Can’t wait for more from this talented author with the twisted imagination.