Favorite books to stay at home with

I’m devouring books more than ever due to my complete lack of a non-virtual social life. While many of us are embracing reading during this time, I’ve heard others are struggling to focus on books. By sharing some of my favorite reads over the last two months, I hope I can provide recommendations to those of you who can’t read fast enough, and maybe help others break their lack-of-focus spell.

This list is limited only to books I’ve read since the stay-at-home orders. There’s a nice mix of genres, including romantic comedy, historical fiction, and thriller.

THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY by Meredith Jaeger – This impressive debut is a historical fiction novel about—from Goodreads—two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways. (I also recommend Jaeger’s sophomore novel The Boardwalk Summer.)

ONE TO WATCH by Kate Stayman-London – There are many Bachelor-inspired romantic comedies, but this one is by-far my favorite. Plus-size fashion blogger Bea is so likeable and there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing who will be the last-Bachelor-standing. I was fortunate to get an ARC of this novel that won’t be out until July.

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WE CAME HERE TO SHINE by Susan Orman Schnall – This historical fiction novel is set at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and tells the story of two women, Vivi the actress and Max the journalist, and the friendship they forged over one summer. The adversity they faced as women made me so frustrated, but only because I was entirely vested. Out next month, this is the author’s second novel in this genre after The Subway Girls (another winner).

HEAD OVER HEELS by Hannah Orenstein – This women’s fiction/romcom crossover is set in the high stakes world of competitive gymnastics and was so much fun! I’m obsessed with Olympic-level gymnastics and with the 2020 Summer games canceled, this novel filled the void a little. I was fortunate to get an ARC of this book that won’t be released until June. (I also really enjoyed her debut Playing with Matches.)

MEET YOU IN THE MIDDLE by Devon Daniels – Pitched as The Hating Game meets The West Wing, this rivals-to-lovers romantic comedy featuring liberal Senate staffer Kate and conservative Senate staffer Ben is spicy, sexy, and full of humor and heart. Throughout the novel is the running theme that sometimes you need to look beyond labels to see the person inside. This novel won’t be released until September, but you can (and should) pre-order it now!

THE SWAP by Robyn Harding – This delicious thriller about two couples and a troubled teenager is the perfect follow-up to Harding’s 2019 release, The Arrangement. I’m sorry to say that, once again, it is not out yet, but it will be released next month.

THE GRACE KELLY DRESS by Brenda Janovitz – I absolutely adored this historical fiction novel featuring three women in three different timelines and the wedding dress that connects them.

THE TWO LIVES OF LYDIA BIRD by Josie Silver- One Day in December was one of my favorite books last year and now the author has blown me away with the story of Lydia Bird, a young woman who’s reunited with her late fiancé in her dreams. Bring your tissues!

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NITA HILL by Abbi Waxman –I loved everything about this book. Quirky Nina and her offbeat friends and family, the slow but sexy burn of her romance with Tom, and the punchy dialogue stole my heart and inspired me to dig deeper in my own writing.

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TWICE IN A BLUE MOON by Christina Lauren – The second-chance romance between Tate and Sam in this novel was less romantic comedy and more full-on romance. I’m such a big fan of this author duo, and this book demonstrates their versatility. I never really know what I’m going to get from their novels in terms of humor and steam levels, but I’m just about guaranteed to love it.

What about you? Have you read any of the above books? What have you read since this pandemic started that you’d like to recommend?

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