Bookstr Team Tuesdays: Get to Know Lauren’s Favorite Books!

In this week’s Team Tuesday article, we’re learning about editor and content writer, Lauren! Come along as she introduces you to her all-time favorite books.

Fantasy Literary Fiction Recommendations Thriller & Mystery
Lauren Nee on an orange background with black polka dots and Bookstr Team Tuesdays writing

Hi, fellow bookworms! I’m Lauren, and I’m a part of the Editorial team here at Bookstr. More specifically, I’m an editor, content writer, and project manager for Bookstr’s weekly recommendation series Three to Read. My favorite things to write about are book adaptations, publishing industry trends, and little-known literary histories!

This week, I’m so excited to share some of my favorite books with you! As you’ll see below, my reading taste is a bit eclectic, but the common theme across all of these novels is the strong affection I have for their characters. If you love character-centric stories, these books are must-reads for you! Without further ado, let’s get into the recommendations.

1. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an engaging Groundhog’s Day–esque locked-room mystery about a murder at an illustrious manor house. Every day, Aiden Bishop wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor, piecing together the clues they give him to identify the killer and prevent the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle cover by Stuart Turton.

This is hands down one of my all-time favorite mysteries! Turton is a master at weaving suspenseful whodunits that leave the reader guessing until the very end. I remain in awe of his attention to detail and unpredictable twists.

2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea tells the story of Zachary Ezra Rollins, a bookish graduate student who gets caught up in an underworld of warring secret societies when he finds a strange book in the library that tells his own life story to a tee. Along the way, he meets the charming pirate Dorian, who guides Zachary as he ventures into this new world, stealing his heart in the process.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern cover, a ship sailing on a choppy sea under a dark night sky.

As a bookworm, there’s no way I couldn’t love a story about stories! Morgenstern’s prose is unparalleled, making me want to savor every sentence. From epic romance to secret societies to metanarratives, this book has it all.

3. Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In Carrie Soto Is Back, renowned tennis star Carrie Soto comes out of retirement to defend her Grand Slam record after it’s broken by Carrie’s former rival. As she’s thrust back into the limelight, Carrie is once again faced with the cruel tauntings of the media and a former lover with the frightening power to break down her walls.

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid cover, Carrie with her eyes closed and her head tilted to the sky.

This book pulled at my heartstrings at every turn! I love the complexity of Carrie’s character — she feels so raw and honest to me, which made it easy to root for her, regardless of her flaws. The perfect underdog story.

4. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Cycle is a four-book urban fantasy series about a group of unlikely friends who come together to find a dormant Welsh king buried in their small town of Henrietta, Virginia. A strange magic seems to follow each of them, and along their quest, they’ll learn that there’s more to Henrietta — and themselves — than what meets the eye.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater cover, the Aglionby boys under a raven with a glowing red heart.

When I fell into a reading slump in high school, this series is what got me out of it. I cherish the magical atmosphere Stiefvater creates, as well as her rich, compelling characters who drive the story forward. The writing reads like poetry, which further adds to the story’s mystical vibe. I fall more in love every time I read it!

5. The Engelsfors Trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

The Engelsfors Trilogy is a Swedish young adult fantasy series that follows a group of high school students who are drawn together by a mystifying magical force to fight an ancient evil. Though they struggle to get along, the girls must use their abilities as the Chosen Ones to save their town — and the world — from utter devastation.

The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg cover, a red book sitting in a wreath of bloody flowers.

This series absolutely captivated me when I first read it in high school, and it catapulted my love for the fantasy genre. I love it for its intricate worldbuilding and the way the protagonists go from complete strangers to reluctant allies to inseparable friends as the story unfolds.

6. The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

The Six of Crows duology follows the crows — thief Kaz, spy Inej, sharpshooter Jesper, Heartrender Nina, runaway Wylan, and convict Matthias — as they carry out a dangerous heist for a life-changing payout. Each of the crows has a past they’re running from, but if they want to make it through this mission alive, they’ll have to learn to trust each other.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo cover, a crow flying in a gray cloudy sky.

This duology is everything I want in fantasy, from a found family to a deadly heist to a cast of morally gray characters you can’t help but love. Undoubtedly, this is a story I’ll keep returning to time and time again.

7. Night Film by Marisha Pessl

In Night Film, disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath becomes obsessed with uncovering the mystery behind the Cordova family, specifically, the death of the family’s alluring and enigmatic daughter, Ashley. To discover the truth, Scott is willing to sacrifice anything, even his life.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl cover, a woman wearing a blood-red trench coat.

This thriller is like no other I’ve read before. As the mystery unfolded in unexpected ways, I found myself in awe of Pessl’s storytelling genius. Plus, the multimedia elements made it all the more immersive! Most of all, I appreciate how much this story made me think.

8. Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is a feminist retelling of the well-known Greek myth of Circe, daughter of the sun god and the most fearsome of the Titans, Helios. Torn between the world of the gods and the mortal realm she’s come to love, Circe must decide for herself what her path will be in a world where men want to dictate her very existence.

Circe by Madeline Miller cover, golden portrait of Circe's face.

Circe is my favorite retelling to date because of the way it subverts classic male-centric narratives about Greek mythology. I adore Miller’s lush writing style and admire the way she makes an age-old story feel brand new.

9. Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Killers of a Certain Age follows Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie — four ex-assassins who are settling into retirement with an all-expenses paid cruise sponsored by their former employer, an elite network of assassins known as the Museum. However, when their own organization puts out a hit on them, the women have no choice but to postpone their retirement for one last mission: taking down the Museum.

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn cover, woman holding a knife.

I love this book for its portrayal of kickass 60-year-old women! Age is no barrier for these ladies as they turn the tables on the covert organization of assassins who want them dead. A must-read witty thriller with one of the best found families I’ve seen in ages!

10. The Verifiers by Jane Pek

In The Verifiers, amateur sleuth Claudia Lin becomes entangled in a thrilling mystery revolving around a dating app and a woman who isn’t who she says she is. Recruited by the secretive online dating detective agency Veracity, Claudia risks both her career and her life to find out what happened when one of Veracity’s clients goes missing.

The Verifiers by Jane Pek cover, Claudia wearing all black and walking across a bridge.

This was an exhilarating read that had me hooked from the very first chapter! I love the combination of thrilling mystery, heartfelt family drama, and insightful commentary on the nature of 21st-century romance.

That’s it for this week’s Bookstr Team Tuesday! I hope you’ve enjoyed my recommendations. Check back next week to meet another Bookstr team member and learn about their favorite books!

Check out some of Lauren’s favorite articles here or here!

Browse our Bookstr Team Recommendations bookshelf on Bookshop!