what I'm reading

5 Historical Fiction Favorites

I've been reading a lot recently, but because I'm in the middle of both historical and contemporary romance projects most of it hasn't been romance. During times like this, one genre I lean on heavily is historical fiction. I get the same transported-to-another-era effect that historical romance gives me, but the focus of the books is different enough that I don't worry about getting sidetracked while writing my own work. Here are five of my favorite works of historical fiction and why you should give the a shot:

Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles

I have a thing for books about single women living in New York City from the 1920s to the 1950s. I can't exactly explain it, but something about them draws me in every time. Rules of Civility  is one of the best examples about this. It follows Katey after she and her friend meet a handsome banker in a bar on New Years Eve, and that's about all I'm going to tell you because it's worth discovering for yourself why it's one of a handful of books I recommend every time someone is looking for something to read.


The Pursuit of Happiness, by Douglas Kennedy

The Pursuit of Happiness isn't that Will Smith movie you're thinking of. Instead it's a coming of age story that follows a young woman's move to New York City in the fall of 1945 (see, I told you I have a thing for these books). The book describes Sara's romantic involvements and career through several decades of her life, but mostly it's about her growing into herself as a woman. I adore it (and not only because I would love to own Sara's Upper West Side apartment).


Katherine, by Anya Seton

My mother gave me my copy of Katherine for Christmas a few years ago, and I gobbled it up in a couple sittings. Katherine Swynford was the married mistress of John of Gaunt and their love affair endures war, plague, and political machinations. It's one of those books I read with a family tree bookmarked on my phone because of the complexities of the relationships and shifts in power, and it's a wonderful way to sink into another era.

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

Although I had to read these as they were released and waited years between between them, I think the deserve to be talked about as a unit. The books follow the rise of Thomas Cromwell at Henry VIII's court, particularly during the dissolution of the king's marriage from Catherine of Aragon, the establishment of the Church of England, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. The language is exquisite and the ever-shifting relationships between characters are fascinating. Now it's your turn. I want to hear what your favorite works of historical fiction are and what I should read next!

Also don't forget to preorder my upcoming release The Governess Was Wicked for just 99c. It comes out on Sept. 12 and will be here before you know it!

To Be Read

You can tell a lot about a person by the books on their nightstand.* Here's how To Be Read lists work in my family. First there's the long list (I keep mine on Goodreads). Then there are the books that are physically kept in your bedroom. Those are a little more likely to be read in the next couple of years. When a book makes it to the nightstand, it's like being called up to the big leagues.

Earning a spot on the nightstand means there's a good chance I'm probably going to read that book next. Once I pass the midway point of whatever I'm currently reading, I'm mentally queuing up what comes next. Since I often read in bed, the most natural thing is to finish a completed novel and pick up the next one off of the nightstand stack.

photo-2So here's what is in my TBR stack right now:

Crazy Thing Called Love, by Molly O'Keefe

I'm ashamed to say I've never read any of Molly's work despite the glowing recommendations I've gotten. I plan to fix that very soon.

Too Good to Be True, by Kristan Higgins

I got this book at RWA along with her book The Best Man. I loved that one so much this immediately went into the TBR pile.

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith

There are few books I will gladly reread over and over again. This English novel is perhaps the best coming of age story I've ever read. I try to revisit it every couple of years. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly recommend grabbing it (the movie starring Bill Nighy isn't half bad either).

Phineas Redux, by Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope rivals Elizabeth Gaskell when it comes to my favorite 19th century author. No one else depicts upper class Victorian London in such rich detail. I challenged myself to read all of his Palliser novels in 2013. I'm clearly going to miss that goal as Phineas Redux is the 4th out of 6 in the series, but I hope to wrap up my challenge early next year.

Gotham Writer's Workshop: Writing Fiction

Writing prompts ahead.

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, by Lauren Willig

My sister Justine turned me on to Lauren Willig a few years ago, and since then I've read everything Willig has put out. This is the most recent entry in the Pink Carnation series - a fun, snappy set of historical romances all centering around a spy ring filled with witty (if sometimes bumbling) Georgian era characters.

Freud's Mistress, Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman

My mother and I have a wonderful bi-coastal book exchange going. Every few months I will come home to a USPS box stuffed full of books curated by my own personal librarian. I ship a box back filled with the ones I've read and a few things I picked up here in New York. Mum sent me Freud's Mistress after I read Henry James' Midnight Song by Carol de Chillis Hill which also deals Freud's strange love affair with his sister in law.

The Book in the Renaissance, by Andrew Pettegree

Bookworms find each other. A couple years ago one of my coworkers and I discovered we're both voracious readers. Ever since then we've been recommending and sharing books. Our taste for non-fiction is similar, so when he asketd me if I wanted to read a book about books I jumped at the recommendation.

What is in your to be read pile?

*Or piled up on the floor/window next to their bed.