Blog

historical fiction books | historical romance books

December 27 ~ Friday Q and As

By Ana Brazil
December 27, 2019

December 27 ~ Friday Q and As

This Friday the Paper Lantern Writers reflect upon the past year as I ask “What’s the best book you read in 2019? And it doesn’t have to be historical fiction.

Katie responded quickly, and at length!

“This is such a tough question! I’ve read so many good books! As a reviewer for the Historical Novel Review, I read mostly historical novels. So I’m going to have to give a Top Five, in no particular order:

  1. The Den by Abi Maxwell–historical fiction, came out this year, and the reason why I include it on this list is because I can’t stop thinking about it. Specifically, because it showed me (the reader) my own bias. Slapped me in the face with it. And I appreciate a book that can sneak up on me like that. It has a dual timeline, one set in the 1850s and one in the 1980s. It’s largely about women’s sexual choices, and why that isn’t anyone else’s business. 
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson–historical fiction, but also magical realism. It came out in 2013. It’s about the main character, Ursula, who gets born again every time she dies. You can see as she makes decisions, how they play out this way, and when she takes a different path, how it plays out. I was sobbing at the end. If you’ve read it, you know which life made me cry the loudest. 
  3. There, There by Tommy Orange. It was published in 2018. It’s about Oakland, it’s about contemporary Native American culture, it’s about a heist. There are incredibly lyric passages reflecting on how Native American culture is perceived and consumed. The interplay between characters is clever. Just read it.
  4. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This romance novel was published in 2018, and has a heroine who is autistic. The male lead is half Vietnamese, and is immersed in Vietnamese-American culture. Not only do readers get to learn about autism with the hero, we get to learn about Vietnamese-American culture with the heroine. It is steamy, but the sex scenes are integral to the plot and not gratuitous. It is funny, interesting, and as we know with romance novels, the heroine gets to win in the end. 
  5. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. This is the first title in the Neapolitan Quartet, and I’ve read the first three. I’m saving the fourth as a reward for when I’ve gotten more work done! This series was on everyone’s list for a few years, but I’m just now catching up. It is a book in translation, and I keep thinking that if there wasn’t a “Women’s Fiction” ghetto, the covers would look so much different. The current covers are done in pastels, and feature weddings and children. But the bulk of these books are about the Mafia, rape, infidelity, intellectual insecurity, and the feeling of not belonging. Yes, there are weddings, but those weddings have death threats. It’s an addicting series.” 

Linda shared that “My book club read a lot of memoirs in 2019 as well as historical fiction.

I liked Educated, by Tara Westover, very much. It inspired me to write my own memoir. My favorite though has to be Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The setting is luscious, the female character empathetic and strong. The ending made me cheer!”

C.V. “loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. “We read it for my book club and they all loved it as well. It was so creatively done through a series of letters.”

Kathryn said “The Overstory by Richard Powers rooted me in the past and helped me soar beyond today’s climate change deniers. Several reader friends recommended it to me, for which I’m very grateful. I’ll never look at trees in the same way. The old oaks in my front yard are probably tired of me stroking their trunks and asking for much-needed guidance after reading Powers’s masterpiece.

And finally, Ana “read a couple of books this year that really kept me reading late into the night. My favorite was Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network. It’s an emotionally-charged story that time slips between both World Wars and features bold women making heart-breaking decisions. I’d been wanting to read it since it came out in 2017, and I’m so glad that I did!”

This Friday the Paper Lantern Writers reflect upon the past year as I ask “What’s the best book you read in 2019? And it doesn’t have to be historical fiction.

there_there.jpg

Katie responded quickly, and at length!

“This is such a tough question! I’ve read so many good books! As a reviewer for the Historical Novel Review, I read mostly historical novels. So I’m going to have to give a Top Five, in no particular order:

  1. The Den by Abi Maxwell–historical fiction, came out this year, and the reason why I include it on this list is because I can’t stop thinking about it. Specifically, because it showed me (the reader) my own bias. Slapped me in the face with it. And I appreciate a book that can sneak up on me like that. It has a dual timeline, one set in the 1850s and one in the 1980s. It’s largely about women’s sexual choices, and why that isn’t anyone else’s business. 
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson–historical fiction, but also magical realism. It came out in 2013. It’s about the main character, Ursula, who gets born again every time she dies. You can see as she makes decisions, how they play out this way, and when she takes a different path, how it plays out. I was sobbing at the end. If you’ve read it, you know which life made me cry the loudest. 
  3. There, There by Tommy Orange. It was published in 2018. It’s about Oakland, it’s about contemporary Native American culture, it’s about a heist. There are incredibly lyric passages reflecting on how Native American culture is perceived and consumed. The interplay between characters is clever. Just read it.
  4. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This romance novel was published in 2018, and has a heroine who is autistic. The male lead is half Vietnamese, and is immersed in Vietnamese-American culture. Not only do readers get to learn about autism with the hero, we get to learn about Vietnamese-American culture with the heroine. It is steamy, but the sex scenes are integral to the plot and not gratuitous. It is funny, interesting, and as we know with romance novels, the heroine gets to win in the end. 
  5. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. This is the first title in the Neapolitan Quartet, and I’ve read the first three. I’m saving the fourth as a reward for when I’ve gotten more work done! This series was on everyone’s list for a few years, but I’m just now catching up. It is a book in translation, and I keep thinking that if there wasn’t a “Women’s Fiction” ghetto, the covers would look so much different. The current covers are done in pastels, and feature weddings and children. But the bulk of these books are about the Mafia, rape, infidelity, intellectual insecurity, and the feeling of not belonging. Yes, there are weddings, but those weddings have death threats. It’s an addicting series.” 
Craw.jpg

Linda shared that “My book club read a lot of memoirs in 2019 as well as historical fiction.

I liked Educated, by Tara Westover, very much. It inspired me to write my own memoir. My favorite though has to be Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The setting is luscious, the female character empathetic and strong. The ending made me cheer!”

C.V. “loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. “We read it for my book club and they all loved it as well. It was so creatively done through a series of letters.”

Overstory-e1502211715719.jpg

Kathryn said “The Overstory by Richard Powers rooted me in the past and helped me soar beyond today’s climate change deniers. Several reader friends recommended it to me, for which I’m very grateful. I’ll never look at trees in the same way. The old oaks in my front yard are probably tired of me stroking their trunks and asking for much-needed guidance after reading Powers’s masterpiece.

And finally, Ana “read a couple of books this year that really kept me reading late into the night. My favorite was Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network. It’s an emotionally-charged story that time slips between both World Wars and features bold women making heart-breaking decisions. I’d been wanting to read it since it came out in 2017, and I’m so glad that I did!”

Ana Brazil
Written by Ana Brazil

Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s latest historical mystery is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, which features murder, mayhem, and music in 1919 San Francisco. Her award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans.

View Ana’s PLW Profile

Share This Post

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *