My Bookshelf—All the Titles in One Place

Feb 6, 2024 | Book Reviews

Since November 2021, I featured and reviewed 80 books on my Standout Stories blog (as of February 2024). Time to “organize” them all!

Here’s a convenient index for easy reference. Titles are categorized according to genre as well as setting, era, topics, and themes. Due to overlap, some may be listed multiple times. Clicking on any title takes you to the blog post. (The date refers to the blog date.) If the link goes to Amazon instead, the book isn’t on the blog and I’m using an affiliate link. I’ll try to update regularly as I review more books. (Contact me if you see errors or inconsistencies in categorization.)

I read plenty of books—general market, Christian, fiction, and non-fiction—that don’t get on the blog for various reasons (lack of time, for one thing). I’ve included some non-blog favorites here.

Genres—These are all NOVELS, mainly Christian and/or clean fiction. Since many people have strong feelings about dual timeline novels (either love them or hate them), I’ve listed them separately.

  • Contemporary/Women’s Fiction
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Contemporary Romantic Suspense
  • Historical (except for Biblical, World War II, British, & Southern which are in separate categories)
  • Historical Romance
  • Historical Romantic Suspense
  • Cozy Mystery
  • Fantasy

NOTE: With disagreement among publishers, editors, and agents as to what constitutes historical, I’m defining it my own way, as any story set before 1970. Contemporary is anything after 1970.

Categories according to setting/time period or style: 

  • World War I & II
  • Biblical Fiction
  • Britain as a setting
  • Dual Timeline (time-slip/split-time)
  • Historical Fiction based on actual people
  • Literary
  • Regional: Midwest, Northeast, Southern, and Southwest

Topical categories include: 

  • House that functions as a main “character”
  • U.S. disasters
  • Authors, books, bookstores, libraries, & journals (anything book/writing related, where an author/books/writings are central to the plot)
  • Christmas
  • World’s Fair
  • Oz (themes connected to The Wizard of Oz)
  • Family dynamics (in which family relationships are key, such as mother-daughter relationships, or sisters) & Adoption
  • Friendship 
  • Sensitive issues (mental illness, abuse, slavery, human trafficking, etc.)

NOTE: If sensitive issues such as human trafficking or abuse are triggers for you, be sure to check the last category (scroll all the way down) to see if a title is on that list.

First of all, Welcome to Standout Stories! — my first post

Contemporary / Women’s Fiction (anything after 1970) — Not including dual timeline

  • The Nature of Small Birds — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 16, 2021) — This is actually a triple timeline, but it’s 1975 and later. Bruce, his wife Linda, and their daughter Sonny relay the adoption of Vietnamese war orphan Minh into their family and how it plays out, captured through the windows of 1975, 1988, and 2013. A tender story, it reveals the heart of adoption and how it impacts each family member differently over the years.
  • A Piece of the Moon — Chris Fabry (January 4, 2022) — Set in 1983, these folks at the radio station are like family to each other. Won a Carol Award, 2022.
  • Afraid of the Light — Cynthia Ruchti (Feb 8, 2022) — Beautiful prose with a sensitive treatment of mental illness and those who hoard. Written from a counselor’s point of view.
  • As Waters Gone By — Cynthia Ruchti — A woman whose husband is in prison for five years tries to rehab her life and marriage while rehabbing an old cottage they’d bought on remote Madeline Island.
  • All That We Carried — Erin Bartels (June 7, 2022) — Take a vicarious hike in Upper Michigan with two sisters and their baggage—both literal and figurative baggage.
  • The Girl Who Could Breathe Underwater — Erin Bartels (July 5, 2022) — A sensitive treatment of a young woman finally facing the abuse she experienced as a teen, set on a lake in Michigan’s North Woods. 
  • Everything is Just Beginning — Erin Bartels (May 9, 2023) — Two lonely souls seek a new beginning with their music aspirations in 1989. If you love music of the 1970s and ’80s, you’re in for a treat. Set in 1990 near Detroit, Michigan.
  • Hosea’s Heart — Linda Wood Rondeau (June 21, 2022) — A contemporary allegory based on the book of Hosea—clever, witty, and fraught with meaning.
  • The Sweet Life — Suzanne Woods Fisher (August 8, 2022) — Mother-daughter tensions sizzle while launching an ice cream shop together in Cape Cod.
  • The Fifth Avenue Story Society — Rachel Hauck (Nov 15, 2022) — Five unlikely people gather weekly and learn to open up to each other. Featuring five different points of view, each with a unique voice.
  • The Shape of Mercy — Susan Meissner — College student Lauren takes a job transcribing the diary of a sixteen-year-old girl who lived in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s. (Affiliate link)
  • Under the Magnolias — T.I. Lowe (August 29, 2023) — In South Carolina, 1980, Austin suddenly becomes caregiver to six siblings when her mother dies. Worse is trying to keep her father’s strange episodes hidden from the community.
  • The Choices She Made — Felicia Ferguson (Sept 26, 2023) — This coming-of-age and dual timeline tale takes us back and forth between Madeline’s teenage life and fourteen years later while living out the consequences of her earlier choices. This deftly and sensitively deals with rape and its fallout.
  • The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip — Sara Brunsvold (Oct 24, 2023) — A young  journalist, Aidyn Kelly, and a feisty older woman in hospice are thrown together when Aidyn is assigned to get Mrs. Kip’s story. This depicts an intergenerational relationship. A 2023 Carol Award winner for Debut Author.

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Contemporary Romance (NOT including dual timeline); dates refer to when featured on my blog

  • Where Grace Appears — Heidi Chiavaroli (June 28, 2022) — Little Women with a Twist. If you’re a Little Women fan, you’ll enjoy the contemporary Martin family’s resemblance to Jo March’s family, friends, and relatives.
  • Why They Call It Falling — Christina Sinisi (July 19, 2022) — A sensitive treatment of a young woman’s downward spiral into depression, accompanied by support and hope.
  • The Red Door Inn — Liz Johnson (August 2, 2022) — Set in beautiful North Rustico on Prince Edward Island, this unlikely combination of characters need as much renovating as the old house they’re making into an inn.
  • Mulberry Hollow — Denise Hunter (August 23, 2022) — A standalone, Book 2 of the Riverbend Romance series is set near the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.
  • A Novel Proposal — Denise Hunter — A clever, fun romance in which Sadie, a western novelist is told by her publisher to write a romance novel, though she has never been in love before.
  • A Promise for Faith — Stacy T. Simmons (May 31, 2022) — A sweet story and a fast, light read for a summer day.
  • Christmas at Whispering Creek — Barbara Britton (Nov 22, 2022) — A breast cancer survivor inherits a house in Tennessee and meets a struggling country singer.
  • Candles in the Rain— Becky Melby — A man and a woman, practically strangers to each other, both think they will separately inherit the store left behind by a dying older woman they considered a mother after their own mothers drifted apart in a shroud of secrets. Dual timeline contemporary and 1960s. (Affiliate link)
  • The Saturday Night Supper Club — Carla Laureano — Rachel, a Denver chef, struggles to get back on track after a career upheaval, while Alex, feeling guilty for his part in it, tries to help.  (Affiliate link)
  • Buttonholed — Anita Klumpers (April 13, 2020 on my Journey To Imagination blog) — At home in Tennessee, Manderley wants the 200-year feuding of her family and another family to stop. She goes to Abram, from the opposition, for help. Full of lively characters, witty observations, and plot twists.

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Contemporary Suspense

  • The Water Keepers — Charles Martin — Book 1 of the Murphy Shepherd series. Murphy, a rescuer, is on the trail of human traffickers. He races time to find a missing teen before harm comes to her, and before his own secrets overpower him.  (Affiliate link)

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Contemporary Romantic Suspense (dates are when featured on blog)

  • A Murder of Crows — Anita Klumpers (August 30, 2022) — After witnessing a murder, Paulina Duncan is on the run and seeks safety hundreds of miles away in a small Wisconsin town.
  • A Far Way to Run — Lori Altebaumer (October 11, 2022) — A sensitive handling of sexual abuse and human trafficking, this story is heavy but full of hope.
  • Desolate Escape — Sherri Wilson Johnson (October 18, 2022) — A medical examiner is on the trek of a serial killer who has been attacking her circle of friends.
  • Dangerous Inheritance—Sherri Wilson Johnson (Oct 25, 2022) —When Naomi  becomes legal guardian to her friend’s daughter and inherits the friend’s home, she also inherits unexpected danger.
  • Unfortunate Homecoming—Sherri Wilson Johnson (Nov 1, 2022) —A family home in need of renovation is also the target of treasure seekers.
  • The House on Foster Hill — Jaime Jo Wright (Nov 8, 2022) — Kaine purchases a  house shrouded in secrets, mystery, and danger.
  • The Bookshop of Secrets — Mollie Rushmeyer (May 9, 2023) — Hope is running from a tragic past while seeking her mother’s books that will offer clues to a family treasure.
  • The Lost Manuscript — Mollie Rushmeyer (Sept 12, 2023) — There’s a blend of old and new here—a contemporary story in a magnificent British castle setting with characters fascinated by history. Besides the status of an old manuscript, Ellora and Alexander’s marriage is at stake, too, as they race against time to find the document.

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Historical Fiction — primarily before 1970—NOT including World War I & II, British, Southern, Historical Romance, Historical Romantic Suspense, & Dual timeline (see other lists below).

  • All Manner of Things — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 23, 2021) — In 1967 in Michigan, Annie and her family are directly impacted by the Vietnam War when her brother enlists and gives Annie the address of their estranged father.
  • Stories That Bind Us — Susie Finkbeiner  (Nov 30, 2021) — In 1963 in Michigan, Betty cares for her estranged sister Clara’s son while Clara languishes with depression in a sanitarium.
  • The All-American — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 7, 2023) — In 1952 in Michigan, during the Red Scare, sisters Bertha (16) and Flossie (11) follow their respective pursuits of women’s baseball and literature. But life is upended when their author father is accused of being a Communist.
  • All That Is Hidden — Laura DeNooyer (January 18, 2022) — Set near the Smokies in 1968, this story spotlights family and the connections of a tight-knit community. Northern exploitation threatens as a father’s hidden past catches up to him and tests family ties.
  • Annie’s Stories — Cindy Thomson (Feb 22, 2022) — In 1901, trouble comes to the NYC boarding house where Irish immigrant Annie works. While inspired by the recently published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she seeks to find a place for her Irish father’s stories.
  • If It Rains — Jennifer L. Wright (March 15, 2022) — In 1935 in Oklahoma, two sisters part. Married, Melissa stays home to battle the Dust Bowl. Kathryn travels to Indianapolis on a trip that parallels Dorothy’s in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • The Nature of Fragile Things — Susan Meissner (June 20, 2023) — Sophie, an Irish immigrant mail-order bride comes to California right before the San Francisco earthquake. Even more earth-shattering are the things she learns about her new husband. 
  • The Moonlight School — Suzanne Woods Fisher (August 16, 2023) — Based on the life of Cora Wilson Stewart, educator in Rowan County, Kentucky in 1911.
  • The Healing of Natalie Curtis — Jane Kirkpatrick — Based on a true story, Natalie Curtis seeks to record the music of Native Americans in the early 1900s during a time when the government promotes assimilation and prohibits them from singing their own music. (Affiliate link)

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Historical Romance

  • A Love Restored — Kelly Goshorn (Sept 27, 2022) — A new twist on the body image obsession, set in the antebellum south. Very touching.
  • The Deepest Sigh — Naomi Musch — As World War I brews and festers, the home front in Wisconsin inflicts wounds of its own. Marilla finds herself in a love triangle that includes her sister. (Affiliate link)

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Historical Romantic Suspense

  • The Red Ribbon — Pepper Basham (January 25, 2022) — Part of the True Colors  series, based on the true story of the 1912 Hillsville Courthouse Massacre in Carroll County, Virginia. 
  • The Pink Bonnet — Liz Tolsma (Feb 1, 2022) — One mom’s attempt to find her daughter after the child is snatched by Georgia Tann, the corrupt director of the Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society. A fictionalized version of actual events. 
  • Counterfeit Love — Crystal Caudill (September 6, 2022) — A Secret Service detective, an ex-girlfriend whose grandfather is hiding a secret, and a counterfeiting ring combine in a story of danger, risk, and heartbreak.
  • Salvation — Olivia Rae (Sept 13, 2022) — Twelfth century England comes alive in Book 1 of The Sword and the Cross Chronicles. Widowed Lady Breanna oversees her estate alone until two men show up—one is supposedly claiming his rights to Durville Keep, and the other is keeping an oath to Breanna’s brother.
  • Revelation — Olivia Rae (Sept 20, 2022) — A tale of a feisty heroine, a thwarted knight, a potential royal wedding, and forbidden love. More of 12th century England. Book 2 of The Sword and the Cross Chronicles.
  • A Life Reclaimed — Olivia Rae (Feb 1, 2023) — A dethroned queen, a runaway woman, a scoundrel, a quest, revenge, secrets, and love in the midst of mayhem and suspicion. Book 3 in Secrets of the Queens series, set in Elizabethan England and Scotland.
  • The Innkeeper’s Daughter — Michelle Griep (Feb 15, 2023) — In Dover, England, 1808, an undercover officer must bring a traitor to justice but doesn’t count on falling in love with the innkeeper’s daughter. However, he can’t help her before fulfilling his mission or revealing his disguise, inviting more danger and a loss of trust. 
  • The Finding of Miss Fairfield — Grace Hitchcock (Feb 22, 2022) — To avoid a forced marriage, a Charleston socialite flees to New Mexico to work as a Harvey Girl. She is pursued by two men—one who loves her and the one she’d escaped from. Who will find her first?
  • Shadows of the White City — Jocelyn Green (March 29, 2023) — The juxtaposition of creativity and depravity, set in 1893 during Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. You will feel like you’re there. (Affiliate link)

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Cozy Mystery

  • Out of the Frying Pan — Michelle Griep & Kelly Klepfer (Feb 21, 2023) — A zany and hilarious comedy of errors. Two senior citizens try to “help” the police solve a murder mystery.

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Fantasy

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Categories according to Setting, Era, Format, or Style

World War I & II (two from WWI, not including dual timeline)

  • My Dearest Dietrich — Amanda Barratt (April 26, 2022) — Based on the life of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his fiancee Maria. Dietrich was part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. 
  • The Maggie Bright — Tracy Groot (May 3, 2022) — This unfolds the story of the evacuation of Dunkirk (AKA Operation Dynamo) prior to the United States’ involvement in World War II.
  • A Picture of Hope — Liz Tolsma (May 10, 2022) — Part of the Heroines of World War II series, this features an American journalist and a French soldier trying to save a French orphan girl with Down syndrome.
  • The Storm Breaks Forth — Terri Wangard (May 17, 2022) — See how the war impacted Germans on the home front in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during World War I
  • Friends & Enemies — Terri Wangard (May 24, 2022) — A young widowed German woman helps an American B-17 bomber navigator when he is shot down over rural Germany. Book 1 of the Promise of Tomorrow series.
  • No Neutral Ground — Terri Wangard (May 24, 2022) — An American artist in Sweden finds herself working as a spy while a German-born soldier fights against his home country. Book 2 of Promise of Tomorrow series (on the Friends & Enemies blog post).
  • The Deepest Sigh — Naomi Musch — As World War I brews and festers, the home front in Wisconsin inflicts wounds of its own. Marilla finds herself in a love triangle that includes her sister. (Affiliate link)
  • Things We Didn’t Say — Amy Lynn Green (January 18, 2023) — On the home front at a POW camp in Minnesota, American Johanna Berglund works as a translator and gets accused of treason. An epistolary novel.
  • Almost Home — Valerie Fraser Luesse (April 5, 2023) — During the war, when folks leave their homes to work at a munitions plant in Alabama, they find “family” at the boardinghouse of Dolly and Si Chandler.
  • Thief of Glory — Sigmund Brouwer (August 1, 2023) — A World War II novel in the Dutch East Indies. Inspired by his father’s experiences growing up, Sigmund crafts a compelling, chilling tale about the Japanese invasion of the Dutch and internment camps as horrifying as those of the Nazis.

World War II — Dual timeline

  • Catching the Wind — Melanie Dobson (January 23, 2023) — An old man hires a journalist to help him find the girl he was separated from after escaping from Nazi Germany. The journalist is also trying to uncover a conspiracy. Set primarily in contemporary and World War II England. 
  • What I Would Tell You — Liz Tolsma (March 15, 2023) — Due to a DNA test, Tessa drops everything to head to Greece to learn about her ancestors—Jews in Salonika, Greece under Hitler’s regime. 1941 & 2019.
  • What I Promise You Liz Tolsma — In 2022, Caitlyn travels to France to find her grandfather’s birthplace and discovers long-kept secrets of a young, pregnant Jewish woman in 1942. (Affiliate link)
  • Whose Waves These Are — Amanda Dykes (July 4, 2023) — When Annie returns to her family home in coastal Maine, she tries to uncover the family dysfunction that ended in years of estrangement after World War II. 1940s and 2001.
  • Only the Beautiful — Susan Meissner (Nov 21, 2023) — Set in California and Europe, this story brings to light the horrific practice of enforced sterilization prevalent in the U.S. in the 1940s when Hitler was carrying out his own agenda in Europe. Has 4 timelines.
  • The Secret Book of Flora Lea — Patti Callahan Henry — In London, Hazel discovers a rare book that might hold the secret to the whereabouts of her long lost sister. 1939 and 1959. (Affiliate link)

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Biblical Fiction (dates indicate when featured on blog)

  • Defending David — Barbara Britton (March 1, 2022) — The tale of the Ittai the Gittite who aided King David during Absalom’s rebellion. Derived from II Samuel 15-19:8.
  • Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey —Barbara Britton (March 8, 2022) — The oldest daughter of Zelophehad summons all her courage to ask Moses for their dead father’s land. Based on Numbers 27.
  • The Brother’s Keeper — Tracy Groot (April 12, 2022) — Get a new perspective on Jesus from his family’s point of view, particularly his brother James.
  • The Stones of My Accusers — Tracy Groot (April 19, 2022) — Get a closeup view of life in Caesarea Maritima after the resurrection of Jesus. From the perspectives of a harlot, a former zealot, a sister of Jesus, and a Roman—chief secretary to Pontius Pilate.
  • Ezekiel’s Song — Naomi Craig (October 4, 2022) — Experience the time of Ezekiel when Judah went into captivity in Babylon. 
  • Keeping Christmas; “The Weary World Rejoices” — Naomi Craig — Herod the Great’s palace is abuzz with news of a king born in Bethlehem. A fresh view of Jesus’s birth from the perspective of a scribe in Herod’s palace.
  • Hosea’s Heart — Linda Wood Rondeau (June 21, 2022) — A contemporary allegory based on the book of Hosea—clever, witty, and fraught with meaning.
  • Up From Dust: Martha’s Story — Heather Kaufman — Journey to Roman-occupied Palestine for a glimpse of Martha and her siblings, Mary and Lazarus, friends of Jesus of Nazareth. (Affiliate link)

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Britain as a setting (mostly historical; one is contemporary)

  • Salvation — Olivia Rae (September 13, 2022) — Romantic suspense. Twelfth century England comes alive in Book 1 of The Sword and the Cross Chronicles. Widowed Lady Breanna oversees her estate alone until two men show up—one is supposedly claiming his rights to Durville Keep, and the other is keeping an oath to Breanna’s brother.
  • Revelation — Olivia Rae (September 20, 2022) — Romantic suspense. A tale of a feisty heroine, a thwarted knight, a potential royal wedding, and forbidden love. More of 12th century England. Book 2 of The Sword and the Cross Chronicles.
  • A Life Reclaimed — Olivia Rae (Jan 31, 2022) — Romantic suspense. A dethroned queen, a runaway woman, a scoundrel, a quest, revenge, secrets, and love in the midst of mayhem and distrust. Book 3 in Secrets of the Queens series, set in Elizabethan England and Scotland.
  • The Innkeeper’s Daughter — Michelle Griep (February 14, 2023) — Romantic suspense. In Dover, England, 1808, an undercover officer must bring a traitor to justice but doesn’t count on falling in love with the innkeeper’s daughter. However, he can’t help her before fulfilling his mission or revealing his disguise, inviting more danger and possibly losing her trust.
  • The Maggie Bright — Tracy Groot (May 3, 2022) — This unfolds the story of the evacuation of Dunkirk (AKA Operation Dynamo) prior to the United States’ involvement in World War II. The setting alternates between England and France.
  • Catching the Wind — Melanie Dobson (January 23, 2023) — An old man hires a journalist to help him find the girl he was separated from after escaping from Nazi Germany. The journalist is also trying to uncover a conspiracy. Set primarily in contemporary and World War II England. 
  • The Lost Manuscript — Mollie Rushmeyer (Sept 12, 2023) — There’s a blend of old and new here—a contemporary story in a magnificent British castle setting with characters fascinated by history. Besides the status of an old manuscript, Ellora and Alexander’s marriage is at stake, too, as they race against time to find the document.
  • Hope Between the Pages — Pepper Basham (Aug 15, 2023) — This alternates between current day and 1915, set in the Biltmore House of Asheville, NC and the English countryside. If you love bookstores, literary classics, fairy tales, and romance, delve into this one. 
  • The Secret Book of Flora Lea — Patti Callahan Henry — In London, Hazel discovers a rare book that might hold the secret to the whereabouts of her long lost sister. 1939 and 1959. (Affiliate link)

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Dual timeline (time-slip/split-time) — not including WW II (see above for those)

  • The Nature of Small Birds — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 16, 2021) — Actually, a triple timeline: 1975, 1988, and 2013. Three family members’ perspectives reveal the heart of adoption and how it impacts them over the years.
  • Under a Cloudless Sky — Chris Fabry (January 11, 2022) — Southern fiction. A West Virginia coal-mining town is the backdrop for both the 1933 and 2004 events: a massacre, exploitation, employers vs employees, family legacies, and a feisty, old woman who’s bound and determined to do barrel forward despite her kids’ protests.
  • Under the Tulip Tree — Michelle Shocklee (Feb 15, 2022) — In the 1930s, a young woman interviews a former slave, 101-year-old Frankie Washington, as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (1936-1938).
  • Count the Nights by Stars — Michelle Shocklee — (April 11, 2023) — Set in Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel in 1961 and and the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. In 1961, a scrapbook of the expo leads Audrey to seek the connection and destiny of several expo attendees decades earlier. 
  • Appalachian Song — Michelle Shocklee — 1943 & 1973. Bertie, an old midwife, takes in an injured pregnant teenager. Thirty years later, Walker Wylie learns he was adopted and goes searching for answers with the help of Reese, an adoption advocate.  (affiliate link)
  • Secret Keepers of the Old Depot Grocery — Amanda Cox (April 5, 2022) — This tale encompasses three generations of women from the 1960s – 1980s and present day. They work in the Old Depot Grocery, a family-owned business in Brighton, Tennessee.
  • Roots of Wood and Stone — Amanda Wen (June 16, 2022) — Contemporary romance. Garrett and his sister try to empty their grandma’s old house so they can move her to assisted living. Historian Sloane gets involved with an old diary they find. Both Garrett and Sloane wrestle with abandonment, not belonging, and trying to find “family.”
  • The Songs That Could Have Been — Amanda Wen (Oct 18, 2023) — Contemporary romance/dual timeline—nowadays & 1950s. Book #2 of the Sedgwick County Chronicles, set in Kansas. Lauren Anderson discovers connections to her grandmother’s past that enable her to move forward in current challenges. A 2023 Carol Award winner for Contemporary fiction.
  • The Orchard House — Heidi Chiavaroli (July 26, 2022) — The influence of Louisa May Alcott is felt beyond the decades of her life. The story revolves around Louisa’s home, the Orchard House. 2022 winner of the Carol Award for historical fiction. 
  • The Writing Desk — Rachel Hauck (Feb 8, 2023) — This special writing desk ties together two eras and two authors in the early 1900s and present day, in New York City and Florida.
  • The Memory House — Rachel Hauck (March 21, 2023) — Two women in two different eras with different tragedies have a house in common. For one woman it’s a house of memory-making. For the other, it’s a place of forgotten memories. For both, it’s a place of healing.
  • The Choices She Made — Felicia Ferguson (Sept 26, 2023) — This coming-of-age tale goes back and forth between Madeline’s teenage life and fourteen years later while living out the consequences of her earlier choices. This deftly and sensitively deals with rape and its fallout.
  • The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip — Sara Brunsvold (Oct 24, 2023) — A young  journalist, Aidyn Kelly, and a feisty older woman in hospice are thrown together when Aidyn is assigned to get Mrs. Kip’s story. This depicts an intergenerational relationship. A 2023 Carol Award winner for Debut Author.
  • Hope Between the Pages — Pepper Basham (Aug 15, 2023) — This alternates between current day and 1915, set in the Biltmore House of Asheville, NC and the English countryside. If you love bookstores, literary classics, fairy tales, and romance, delve into this one. 
  • Before We Were Yours — Lisa Wingate — Contemporary & 1930s, based on true events in Memphis, TN when Georgia Tann kidnapped hundreds of children to abuse or put up for adoption. (Affiliate link)
  • Candles in the Rain— Becky Melby — A man and a woman, practically strangers to each other, both think they will separately inherit the store left behind by a dying older woman they considered a mother after their own mothers drifted apart in a shroud of secrets. Dual timeline contemporary and 1960s. (Affiliate link)
  • Waves of Mercy — Lynn Austin — 1850s – 1890s & 1899. In 1897, as Geesje de Jonge writes her daunting memoir of immigrating from the Netherlands to Michigan in the 1850s, 23-year-old Anna visits Hotel Ottawa Resort to heal a broken heart and explore the source of memories and nightmares. (affiliate link)
  • We Hope for Better Things — Erin Bartels — 3 timelines through turbulent times near Detroit, MI, from the underground railroad to the 1960s Civil Rights movement to present day when Elizabeth sets out to find an estranged relative. (Affiliate link)
  • The Words Between Us — Erin Bartels — Though Robin has been running from her past, her high school friend starts mailing her books they once shared twenty years ago. Why? The arrival of classic novels and poetry offer both solace and fear of exposure. (Affiliate link)

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Historical fiction based on actual historical figures

  • My Dearest Dietrich — Amanda Barratt (April 26, 2022) — Based on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in World War II Germany.
  • The Orchard House — Heidi Chiavaroli (July 26, 2022) — Based on the life and influence of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women. Set in Concord, Massachusetts, dual timeline 1800s & present day.
  • The Moonlight School — Suzanne Woods Fisher (August 16, 2023) — Based on the life of Cora Wilson Stewart, educator in Rowan County, Kentucky in 1911.
  • The Healing of Natalie Curtis — Jane Kirkpatrick — Natalie Curtis seeks to record the music of Native Americans in the early 1900s during a time when the government promotes assimilation and prohibits them from singing their own music. (Affiliate link)

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Literary — I’m defining this as character vs. plot-driven, not necessarily adhering to a structured plot formula, exploring deeper themes, with more attention given to voice and imagery than plot elements and formulas. The following titles have literary leanings, even if not completely literary. Again, these category placements are my own. See Jericho Writers for an official definition.

  • The Nature of Small Birds — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 16, 2021) — A triple timeline: 1975, 1988, and 2013. Three family members’ perspectives reveal the heart of adoption and how it impacts them over the years.
  • All Manner of Things — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 23, 2021) — In 1967 in a small Michigan town, Annie and her family are directly impacted by the Vietnam War when her brother enlists and gives Annie the address of their estranged father.
  • Stories That Bind Us — Susie Finkbeiner  (Nov 30, 2021) — In 1963 Michigan, Betty cares for her estranged sister Clara’s son while Clara languishes with depression in a sanitarium.
  • The All-American — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 7, 2023) — In 1952 in Michigan, during the Red Scare, sisters Bertha (16) and Flossie (11) follow their respective pursuits of women’s baseball and literature. But life is upended when their author father is accused of being a Communist.
  • Afraid of the Light — Cynthia Ruchti (Feb 8, 2022) — Beautiful prose offers a sensitive treatment of mental illness and those who hoard. Written from a counselor’s point of view.
  • As Waters Gone By — Cynthia Ruchti — women’s contemporary — A woman whose husband is in prison for five years tries to rehab her life and marriage while rehabbing an old cottage they’d bought on remote Madeline Island. (Affiliate link)
  • If It Rains — Jennifer L. Wright (March 15, 2022) — In 1935 Oklahoma, two sisters part. Married, Melissa stays home to battle the Dust Bowl. Kathryn travels to Indianapolis on a trip that parallels Dorothy’s in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • All That Is Hidden — Laura DeNooyer (January 18, 2022) — Set near the Smokies in 1968, Northern exploitation threatens as a father’s hidden past catches up to him and tests family ties in a tight-knit community.
  • All That We Carried — Erin Bartels (June 7, 2022) — Take a vicarious hike in Upper Michigan with two sisters and their baggage—both literal and figurative baggage.
  • The Girls Who Could Breathe Underwater — Erin Bartels (July 5, 2022) — A sensitive treatment of a young woman finally facing the abuse she experienced as a teen, set in Michigan’s North Woods. 
  • Everything is Just Beginning — Erin Bartels — Two lonely souls seek a new beginning with their music aspirations in 1989. If you love music of the 1970s and ’80s, you’re in for a treat. Set in 1990 near Detroit, Michigan.
  • We Hope for Better Things — Erin Bartels — 3 timelines through turbulent times near Detroit, MI, from the underground railroad to the 1960s Civil Rights movement to present day when Elizabeth sets out to find an estranged relative. (Affiliate link)
  • The Words Between Us — Erin Bartels — Though Robin has been running from her past, her high school friend starts mailing her books they once shared twenty years ago. Why? The arrival of classic novels and poetry offer both solace and fear of exposure. (Affiliate link)
  • Whose Waves These Are — Amanda Dykes (July 4, 2023) — When Annie returns to her family home in coastal Maine, she tries to uncover the family dysfunction that ended in years of estrangement after World War II. 1940s and 2001.
  • The Nature of Fragile Things — Susan Meissner (June 20, 2023) — Sophie, an Irish immigrant mail-order bride comes to California right before the San Francisco earthquake. Even more earth-shattering are the things she learns about her new husband. 
  • The Shape of Mercy — Susan Meissner — College student Lauren takes a job transcribing the diary of a sixteen-year-old girl who lived in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s. (Affiliate link)
  • Things We Didn’t Say — Amy Lynn Green (January 18, 2023) — On the home front at a POW camp in Minnesota, American Johanna Berglund works as a translator and gets accused of treason. An epistolary novel.

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Regional — Midwest, Northeast, Southern, and Southwest

Midwest setting, contemporary & historical; most are small town/rural

  • The Nature of Small Birds — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 16, 2021) — A triple timeline: 1975, 1988, and 2013 in Michigan. Three family members’ perspectives reveal the heart of adoption and how it impacts them over the years.
  • All Manner of Things — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 23, 2021) — In 1967 in a small Michigan town, Annie and her family are directly impacted by the Vietnam War when her brother enlists and gives Annie the address of their estranged father.
  • Stories That Bind Us — Susie Finkbeiner  (Nov 30, 2021) — In 1963 in Michigan, Betty cares for her estranged sister Clara’s son while Clara languishes with depression in a sanitarium.
  • The All-American — Susie Finkbeiner (Nov 7, 2023) — In 1952 in Michigan, during the Red Scare, sisters Bertha (16) and Flossie (11) follow their respective pursuits of women’s baseball and literature. But life is upended when their author father is accused of being a Communist.
  • All That We Carried — Erin Bartels (June 7, 2022) — Take a vicarious hike in Upper Michigan with two sisters and their baggage—both literal and figurative baggage.
  • The Girls Who Could Breathe Underwater — Erin Bartels (July 5, 2022) — A sensitive treatment of a young woman finally facing the abuse she experienced as a teen, set in Michigan’s North Woods. 
  • Everything is Just Beginning — Erin Bartels — Two lonely souls seek a new beginning with their music aspirations in 1989. If you love music of the 1970s and ’80s, you’re in for a treat. Set in 1990 near Detroit, Michigan.
  • We Hope for Better Things — Erin Bartels — 3 timelines through turbulent times near Detroit, MI, from the underground railroad to the 1960s Civil Rights movement to present day when Elizabeth sets out to find an estranged relative. (affiliate link)
  • The Words Between Us — Erin Bartels — Set in Michigan. Though Robin has been running from her past, her high school friend starts mailing her books they once shared twenty years ago. Why? The arrival of classic novels and poetry offer both solace and fear of exposure. (affiliate link)
  • Roots of Wood and Stone — Amanda Wen (June 16, 2022) — Contemporary romance, rural Kansas, dual timeline. Garrett and his sister try to empty their grandma’s old house so they can move her to assisted living. Historian Sloane gets involved with an old diary they find.
  • The Songs That Could Have Been — Amanda Wen (Oct 18, 2023) — Contemporary romance, dual timeline—now & 1950s, set in Kansas. Lauren Anderson discovers connections to her grandmother’s past that enable her to move forward in current challenges.
  • A Murder of Crows — Anita Klumpers (August 30, 2022) — Contemporary romantic suspense. After witnessing a murder, Paulina Duncan is on the run and seeks safety hundreds of miles away in a small Wisconsin town.
  • The Bookshop of Secrets — Mollie Rushmeyer (May 9, 2023) — Hope is running from a tragic past while seeking her mother’s books that will offer clues to a family treasure. The bookshop is set in a small Minnesota town on the shore of Lake Superior.
  • The Storm Breaks Forth — Terri Wangard (May 17, 2022) — See how the war impacted Germans on the home front in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during World War I
  • The Deepest Sigh — Naomi Musch — As World War I brews and festers, the home front in northern Wisconsin inflicts wounds of its own. Marilla finds herself in a love triangle that includes her sister. (Affiliate link)
  • Things We Didn’t Say — Amy Lynn Green (January 18, 2023) — On the home front at a POW camp in Minnesota, American Johanna Berglund works as a translator and gets accused of treason. An epistolary novel.
  • The House on Foster Hill — Jaime Jo Wright (Nov 8, 2022) — In Wisconsin, Kaine purchases a  house shrouded in secrets, mystery, and danger.
  • Afraid of the Light — Cynthia Ruchti (Feb 8, 2022) — Beautiful prose offers a sensitive treatment of mental illness and those who hoard. Written from a counselor’s point of view, set in Wisconsin.
  • As Waters Gone By — Cynthia Ruchti — Women’s contemporary — A woman whose husband is in prison for five years tries to rehab her life and marriage while rehabbing an old cottage they’d bought on remote Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin. (Affiliate link)
  • Waves of Mercy — Lynn Austin — 1850s – 1890s & 1899. In 1897, as Geesje de Jonge writes her daunting memoir of immigrating from the Netherlands to Holland, Michigan in the 1850s, 23-year-old Anna visits Hotel Ottawa Resort to heal a broken heart and explore the source of memories and nightmares. (Affiliate link)
  • Shadows of the White City — Jocelyn Green — Set in the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. Sylvie’s seventeen-year-old adopted daughter Rose goes missing at the fair. Rose is partially lured by the idea of finding and knowing her family of origin. (Affiliate link)
  • A Proper Pursuit — Lynn Austin — Set in Chicago during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Catch the flavor of both Chicago and the expo through the eyes of Violet Hayes as her three great-aunts have a different agenda and man for her. (Affiliate link.)

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Northeast setting, Contemporary & Historical; small town/rural

  • Where Grace Appears — Heidi Chiavaroli (June 28, 2022) — Contemporary romance in Maine. Little Women with a Twist. If you’re a Little Women fan, you’ll enjoy the contemporary Martin family’s resemblance to Jo March’s family, friends, and relatives.
  • The Orchard House — Heidi Chiavaroli (July 26, 2022) — Set in Concord, Massachusetts, dual timeline 1800s & present day. The influence of Louisa May Alcott is felt beyond the decades of her life. 2022 winner of the Carol Award for historical fiction. 
  • The Sweet Life — Suzanne Woods Fisher (August 8, 2022) — Contemporary in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Mother-daughter tensions sizzle while launching an ice cream shop in Cape Cod.
  • The Red Door Inn — Liz Johnson (August 2, 2022) — Contemporary romance. Set in beautiful North Rustico on Prince Edward Island, this unlikely combination of characters need as much renovating as the old house they’re making into an inn.
  • Whose Waves These Are — Amanda Dykes (July 4, 2023) — When Annie returns to her family home in a nautical town in coastal Maine, she tries to uncover the family dysfunction that ended in years of estrangement after World War II. 1940s and 2001.

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Southern Fiction — Contemporary (post-1970)

  • A Piece of the Moon — Chris Fabry (January 4, 2022) — Set in 1983, these folks at a West Virginia radio station are like family to each other.
  • Mulberry Hollow — Denise Hunter (August 23, 2022)— A standalone romance, Book 2 of the Riverbend Romance series is set near the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.
  • A Novel Proposal — Denise Hunter — A clever, fun romance in which Sadie, a novelist of westerns is told by her publisher to write a romance, though she has never been in love before. Set on the North Carolina shore. (Not featured on the blog yet.)
  • Under the Magnolias — T.I. Lowe (August 29, 2023) — In South Carolina, 1980, Austin suddenly becomes caregiver to six siblings when her mother dies. Worse is trying to keep her father’s strange episodes hidden from the community.
  • Christmas at Whispering Creek — Barbara Britton (Nov 22, 2022) — Contemporary romance. A breast cancer survivor inherits a house in Tennessee and meets a struggling country singer.
  • Desolate Escape — Sherri Wilson Johnson (October 18, 2022) — A medical examiner is on the trek of a serial killer who has been attacking her circle of friends.
  • Dangerous Inheritance—Sherri Wilson Johnson (Oct 25, 2022) —When Naomi  becomes legal guardian to her friend’s daughter and inherits the friend’s home, she also inherits unexpected danger.
  • Unfortunate Homecoming—Sherri Wilson Johnson (Nov 1, 2022) —A family home in need of renovation is also the target of treasure seekers.
  • Out of the Frying Pan — Michelle Griep & Kelly Klepfer (Feb 21, 2023) — A zany and hilarious comedy of errors. Two senior citizens try to “help” the police solve a murder mystery in Florida.

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Southern Historical Fiction — Pre-1970 (not including dual timeline–see below); small town/rural; dates refer to when featured on blog

  • Laurel’s Dream — Pepper Basham (Dec 7, 2021) — Romance from the “My Heart Belongs” series. My Heart Belongs to the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream presents a clash of cultures when an outsider moves to southern Appalachia to teach local youngsters in 1918.
  • The Red Ribbon — Pepper Basham (January 25, 2022) — Romantic suspense. Part of the True Colors  series, based on the true story of the 1912 Hillsville Courthouse Massacre in Carroll County, Virginia.
  • A Love Restored — Kelly Goshorn (Sept 27, 2022) — Historical romance. A new twist on the body image obsession, set in the antebellum south. Very touching.
  • All That Is Hidden — Laura DeNooyer (January 18, 2022) — Set near the Smokies in 1968, Northern exploitation threatens as a father’s hidden past catches up to him and tests family ties in a tight-knit community.
  • The Finder of Forgotten Things — Sarah Loudin Thomas (March 2022) — A middle-aged teacher, a middle-aged post-mistress, and a dowser on the run comprise this tale surrounding the Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster in 1930s West Virginia.
  • The Right Kind of Fool — Sarah Loudin Thomas (March 28, 2023) — A thirteen-year-old deaf mute boy is the only witness to a murder in West Virginia, 1934.
  • When Dignity Came to Harlan — Rebecca Duvall Scott (July 12, 2022) — a beautifully written story based on the life of the author’s great-grandmother’s life when she and her siblings had to move from Missouri to Kentucky and live with strangers in the early 1900s.
  • The Moonlight School — Suzanne Woods Fisher (August 16, 2022) — Based on the true story of educator Cora Wilson Stewart who brought literacy to Rowan County, Kentucky in the early 1900s. From the perspective of a fictional cousin.
  • Night Bird Calling — Cathy Gohlke (April 25, 2023) — Lilliana moves south to North Carolina to escape her abusive husband only to find herself in the throes of racism.
  • Almost Home —Valerie Fraser Luesse (June 6, 2023) — A World War II novel set in a small town in Alabama, USA. Unemployed folks leave home to find work and end up at Si and Dolly’s boardinghouse. New friendships are forged among the fallout of war and a hundred-year-old mystery.

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Southern Fiction — Dual timeline

  • Under a Cloudless Sky — Chris Fabry (January 11, 2022) — A West Virginia coal-mining town is the backdrop for these 1933 and 2004 events: a massacre, exploitation, employers vs employees, family legacies, and a feisty, old woman who’s bound and determined to barrel forward on her own terms, despite her kids’ protests. 
  • Secret Keepers of the Old Depot Grocery — Amanda Cox (April 5, 2022) — This tale encompasses three generations of women from the 1960s – 1980s and present day. They work in the Old Depot Grocery, a family-owned business in Brighton, Tennessee.
  • Under the Tulip Tree — Michelle Shocklee (Feb 15, 2022) — In the 1930s, a young woman interviews a former slave, 101-year-old Frankie Washington, as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (1936-1938).
  • Count the Nights by Stars — Michelle Shocklee — (April 11, 2023) — Set in Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel in 1961 and and the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. In 1961, a scrapbook of the expo leads Audrey to seek the connection and destiny of several expo attendees decades earlier. 
  • Appalachian Song — Michelle Shocklee — 1943 & 1973. Bertie, an old midwife, takes in an injured pregnant teenager. Thirty years later, Walker Wylie learns he was adopted and goes searching for answers with the help of Reese, an adoption advocate.  (affiliate link)
  • Hope Between the Pages — Pepper Basham (Aug 15, 2023) — This alternates between current day and 1915, set in the Biltmore House of Asheville, NC and the English countryside. If you love bookstores, literary classics, fairy tales, and romance, delve into this one. 
  • Before We Were Yours — Lisa Wingate — Contemporary & 1930s, based on true events in Memphis, TN when Georgia Tann kidnapped hundreds of children to abuse or put up for adoption. (Affiliate link)
  • Candles in the Rain— Becky Melby — In Arkansas (more south central than Southern), Luke and Serena, practically strangers to each other, both think they will separately inherit the store left behind by a dying older woman they considered a mother after their own mothers drifted apart in a shroud of secrets. Dual timeline contemporary and 1960s. (Affiliate link)

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Southwest Settings

  • The Finding of Miss Fairfield — Grace Hitchcock (Feb 22, 2022) — To avoid a forced marriage, a Charleston socialite flees to New Mexico to work as a Harvey Girl. She is pursued by two men—one who loves her and the one she’d escaped from. Who will find her first?
  • The Healing of Natalie Curtis — Jane Kirkpatrick — Natalie Curtis seeks to record the music of Native Americans in the early 1900s during a time when the government promotes assimilation and prohibits them from singing their own music. Story begins in NYC and has many settings, but is primarily in the Southwest. (Affiliate link)
  • A Far Way to Run — Lori Altebaumer (October 11, 2022) — Texas. A sensitive handling of sexual abuse and human trafficking, this story is heavy but full of hope.
  • The Choices She Made — Felicia Ferguson (Sept 26, 2023) — This coming-of-age and dual timeline tale takes us back and forth between Madeline’s teenage life and fourteen years later while living out the consequences of her earlier choices. This deftly and sensitively deals with rape and its  fallout.
  • Only the Beautiful — Susan Meissner (Nov 21, 2023) — Set in southern California and Europe, this story brings to light the horrific practice of enforced sterilization prevalent in the U.S. in the 1940s when Hitler was carrying out his own agenda in Europe. Has 4 timelines.

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Titles arranged by Topics & Themes

  • House that functions as a main “character”
  • U.S. disasters
  • Authors, books, bookstores, libraries, & journals (anything book or writing related, where an author and/or books/writings are central to the plot)
  • Christmas
  • World’s Fair
  • Oz (themes connected to The Wizard of Oz)
  • Family dynamics (in which particular family relationships are key, such as mother-daughter relationships, or sisters) & Adoption
  • Friendship 
  • Sensitive Issues (mental illness, abuse, slavery, human trafficking, etc.)

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House as a character. This refers to novels with a house as an integral part of the story and theme, usually an old home. 

  • The House on Foster Hill — Jaime Jo Wright— a house shrouded in secrets, mystery, and danger
  • Unfortunate Homecoming—Sherri Wilson Johnson—a family home in need of renovation and the target of treasure seekers
  • Dangerous Inheritance—Sherri Wilson Johnson—home as an inheritance and a target for danger
  • Roots of Wood and Stone—Amanda Wen—home as a place of belonging
  • The Red Door Inn—Liz Johnson—a home renovated as an inn for a place of healing
  • Where Grace Appears—Heidi Chiavaroli—a family home renovated as a bed and breakfast for hospitality
  • The Orchard House—Heidi Chiavaroli—the family home of Louisa May Alcott.
  • The Memory House by Rachel Hauck — a house full of memories—and lost memories—is the hub for two women in this dual timeline story
  • Almost Home — Valerie Fraser Luesse — During World War II, people leave their homes to find work and live together in a boardinghouse.
  • As Waters Gone By — Cynthia Ruchti — women’s fiction/contemporary — A woman whose husband is in prison for five years tries to rehab her life and marriage while rehabbing an old cottage they’d bought on remote Madeline Island. (Affiliate link)

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U.S. Disasters

  • All Manner of Things — Susie Finkbeiner — the Vietnam War (1967)
  • Under a Cloudless Sky—Chris Fabry — the poor treatment of coal miners; dual timeline (1933)
  • The Pink Bonnet — Liz Tolsma — the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and Georgia’s Tann’s abductions of thousands of children (1920s – 1940s)
  • Before We Were Yours — Lisa Wingate — Contemporary & 1930s, based on true events in Memphis, TN when Georgia Tann kidnapped hundreds of children to abuse or put up for adoption. (affiliate link)
  • The Red Ribbon — Pepper Basham — the 1912 Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of Carroll County, Virginia
  • Under the Tulip Tree — Michelle Shocklee — the Federal Writers Project slave narratives during the Great Depression (1930s)
  • If It Rains — Jennifer L Wright — the Dust Bowl
  • The Finder of Forgotten Things — Sarah Loudin Thomas — Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster in West Virginia (1930s)  
  • The Nature of Fragile Things — Susan Meissner — the 1906 San Francisco earthquake
  • The Shape of Mercy — Susan Meissner — the Salem witch trials in the 1600s  (Affiliate link)
  • The All-American — Susie Finkbeiner–the Red Scare
  • The Healing of Natalie Curtis — Jane Kirkpatrick — the treatment of Native Americans, early 1900s (Affiliate link)
  • We Hope for Better Things — Erin Bartels — Deals with slavery and racism through the decades, from the Civil War era and underground railroad to riots during the 1960s Civil Rights movement to present day. (Affiliate link)
  • Only the Beautiful — Susan Meissner (Nov 21, 2023) — Set in southern California and Europe, this story brings to light the horrific practice of enforced sterilization prevalent in the U.S. in the 1940s when Hitler was carrying out his own agenda in Europe. Has 4 timelines.

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Authors/writers, Books, Bookstores, Libraries, & Journals — anything related to authors and/or writing

  • Annie’s Stories — Cindy Thomson — The protagonist’s father was an Irish storyteller and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is all the rage in 1901.
  • My Dearest Dietrich —  Amanda Barratt — Based on the life of pastor, theologian, author, and Nazi resistor Dietrich Bonhoeffer 
  • A Picture of Hope — Liz Tolsma — The World War II protagonist is a journalist
  • Catching the Wind — Melanie Dobson — A journalist seeks to undercover World War II espionage while also aiding a man in search of a lost friend.
  • Where Grace Appears — Heidi Chiavaroli — The contemporary Martin family is based on Little Women
  • The Girl Who Could Breathe Underwater — Erin Bartels — The protagonist is a novelist whose first novel too closely resembles people in her life
  • The Orchard House — Heidi Chiavaroli — Inspired by the life and home of author Louisa May Alcott
  • The Moonlight School — Suzanne Woods Fisher — Inspired by the life of educator Cora Wilson Stewart who brought literacy to Rowan County, Kentucky
  • The Fifth Avenue Story Society— Rachel Hauck — Part of the story revolves around a library, an English professor, and his literary idol
  • Things We Didn’t Say— Amy Lynn Green — An epistolary novel set in Minnesota during World War II. The protagonist translates prisoners’ letters.
  • The Writing Desk — Rachel Hauck — A dual timeline novel about two novelists.
  • Nightfall in the Garden of Deep Time — Tracy Higley — Fantasy. The protagonist is a struggling, wannabe novelist who finds inspiration from well-known authors.
  • Night Bird Calling — Cathy Gohlke — Lillianna’s goal of establishing a library for folks of all backgrounds and ethnicities meets head-on with trouble.
  • The Bookshop of Secrets — Mollie Rushmeyer — Contemporary romantic suspense. A bookstore setting revolves around first edition books that lead to a family treasure.
  • The Lost Manuscript — Mollie Rushmeyer (Sept 12, 2023) — Besides the status of an old manuscript, Ellora and Alexander’s marriage is at stake, too, as they race against time to find the document.
  • The Words Between Us — Erin Bartels — The arrival of classic novels and poetry offer both solace and fear of exposure. (Affiliate link)
  • Hope Between the Pages — Pepper Basham (Aug 15, 2023) — Dual timeline set in the Biltmore House of Asheville, NC, a bookstore, and the English countryside. Literary classics and fairy tale references abound. 

Novels based on JOURNALS & DIARIES

  • Roots of Wood and Stone — Amanda Wen — (June 16, 2022) Contemporary romance. Sloane finds inspiration and courage from a woman’s journal written in the 1800s.
  • Under the Tulip Tree — Michelle Shocklee — Interviews with a former slave for the Federal Writers’ Project (1936-1938).
  • What I Would Tell You — Liz Tolsma — Based on a Greek Jew’s journal kept during the Nazi occupation.
  • Count the Nights by Stars — Michelle Shocklee — Based on a scrapbook of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.
  • Almost Home — Valerie Fraser Luesse — In the 1940s, women at the boardinghouse find a 1800s journal of a young bride and try to find out what happened to her.
  • The Shape of Mercy — Susan Meissner — College student Lauren takes a job transcribing the diary of a sixteen-year-old girl who lived in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s. (Affiliate link)

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Christmas

  • Christmas at Whispering Creek — Barb Britton (Nov 22, 2022) — Contemporary romance with a breast cancer survivor and a country singer
  • Keeping Christmas, Volume I: “The Weary World Rejoices” (Nov 29, 2022) — Naomi Craig, Biblical fiction in King Herod’s palace during the birth of Christ
  • Keeping Christmas, Volume I: “The Lights of Castleborne” (Nov 29, 2022) — Chautona Havig & Cathe Swanson — Contemporary romance set in St. Louis, MO. All six novellas have a castle or palace setting. (This volume has 6 novellas. I only read two.)

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World’s Fair

  • Count the Nights by Stars — Michelle Shocklee — Based on the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Set in Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel in 1961. A scrapbook of the expo leads Audrey to seek the connection and destiny of several expo attendees decades earlier.
  • Shadows of the White City — Jocelyn Green — Set in the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. Sylvie’s seventeen-year-old daughter goes missing at the fair. (Affiliate link)
  • A Proper Pursuit — Lynn Austin — Set in Chicago during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Catch the flavor of both Chicago and the expo through the eyes of Violet Hayes as her three great-aunts have a different agenda and man for her. (Affiliate link.)

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The Wizard of Oz

  • Annie’s Stories — Cindy Thomson —  While inspired by recently published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Annie seeks to find a place for her father’s stories. 1901.
  • If It Rains — Jennifer L. Wright — In 1935 Oklahoma, two sisters part. Married, Melissa stays home to battle the Dust Bowl. Kathryn travels to Indianapolis on a trip that parallels Dorothy’s in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • A Hundred Magical Reasons — Laura DeNooyer (pre-published) — This story spotlights L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and his influence on a young girl through the decades, in the early 1900s through 1980.Set in Holland, Michigan, dual timeline. Watch the trailer here. In the sidebar, sign up for my newsletter to learn more.

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Family Dynamics (picked for the focus of particular family relationships)

  • All That We Carried — Erin Bartels (June 7, 2022) — Take a vicarious hike in Upper Michigan with two sisters and their baggage—both literal and figurative.
  • The Sweet Life — Suzanne Woods Fisher (August 8, 2022) — Mother-daughter tensions sizzle while launching an ice cream shop in Cape Cod. True to life with plenty of humor. 
  • Where Grace Appears — Heidi Chiavaroli (June 28, 2022) — A contemporary Little Women with a Twist. Upon her unexpected return from college, one sibling tests the family limits in uncharted domestic territory.
  • All Manner of Things — Susie Finkbeiner — Annie has to deal with a brother headed to Vietnam, an estranged father, and the family’s reactions to it all. 
  • Stories that Bind Us — Susie Finkbeiner — When her previously estranged sister is ill, Betty takes on the care of a five-year-old nephew she never knew about before.
  • All That Is Hidden — Laura DeNooyer — When a father’s longtime secret is revealed, there’s plenty of family fallout, including father-daughter tension.
  • The Right Kind of Fool — Sarah Loudin Thomas — An estranged husband and father of a deaf son re-enters the family, trying to win his wife and son’s trust.
  • Secret Keepers of the Old Depot Grocery — Amanda Cox — A series of generational secrets, disconnections, and unmet expectations among a grandmother, mother, and adult daughter who has returned home.
  • Whose Waves These Are — Amanda Dykes — A young woman returns to her great-uncle’s hometown while exploring the family dynamics that fractured the family decades ago.
  • The Shape of Mercy — A clash of family expectations of class, status, and appearances regarding a father and his daughter. As the only child, Lauren believes her father would have preferred a son to take over the family business. (Affiliate link)

Family Dynamics & Adoption

  • The Nature of Small Birds — Susie Finkbeiner — A triple timeline: 1975, 1988, and 2013 in Michigan. Three family members’ perspectives reveal the heart of adoption and how it impacts them over the years.
  • Appalachian Song — Michelle Shocklee — 1943 & 1973. Bertie, an old midwife, takes in an injured pregnant teenager. Thirty years later, Walker Wylie learns he was adopted and goes searching for answers with the help of Reese, an adoption advocate.  (Affiliate link)
  • Shadows of the White City — Jocelyn Green — Set in the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. Sylvie’s seventeen-year-old adopted daughter Rose goes missing at the fair. Rose is partially lured by the idea of finding and knowing her family of origin. (Affiliate link)

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Friendship. A focus on the solidarity of both old and newfound friends.

  • A Piece of the Moon — Chris Fabry — A radio station in a small, close-knit West Virginia community, 1983 is like family.
  • Annie’s Stories — Cindy Thomson — Immigrant girls in a NYC boardinghouse have to band together when forces threaten to shut them down.
  • The Fifth Avenue Story Society — Rachel Hauck — People discover that they need each other along with transparency that accompanies empathy and true acceptance.
  • Almost Home — Valerie Fraser Luesse — During World War II, these folks come from all over come to Alabama for work and form a “family” in a boardinghouse.
  • The Nature of Fragile Things — Susan Meissner — Two unlikely women forge a friendship for survival after the San Francisco earthquake which mirrors the devastating  fallout of their various relationships.
  • The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip — Sara Brunsvold — An intergenerational friendship is formed when upstart journalist, Aidyn Kelly, is assigned to get Mrs. Kip’s story while in hospice.

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Sensitive Issues — Human Trafficking, Sexual/Physical Abuse, Slavery, and/or Mental Illness

  • Stories that Bind Us — Susie Finkbeiner — Depression and institutionalizing people with mental illness in the 1960s. Interracial families.
  • Afraid of the Light — Cynthia Ruchti —  A sensitive counselor works with hoarders.
  • Under the Tulip Tree — Michelle Shocklee — A series of interviews reveals the evils of slavery in the antebellum South.
  • The Girls Who Could Breathe Underwater — Erin Bartels — A sensitive treatment of a young woman finally facing the abuse she experienced as a teen, set in Michigan’s North Woods. 
  • Why They Call It Falling — Christina Sinisi (July 19, 2022) — A contemporary romance dealing with depression.
  • When Dignity Came to Harlan — Rebecca Duvall Scott — A young teenager in the early 1900s in Kentucky becomes a victim of sexual abuse.
  • A Far Way to Run — Lori Altebaumer — Shayne has to overcome a past that includes sexual abuse and human trafficking.
  • Night Bird Calling — Cathy Gohlke — Themes of domestic abuse, religious abuse, and racism—including the KKK—weave through this.
  • The Bookshop of Secrets — Mollie Rushmeyer — Hope Sparrow is running from devastating memories and living with scars from prostitution and human trafficking.
  • The Songs That Could Have Been — Amanda Wen (Oct 18, 2023) — Contemporary romance/dual timeline—themes of bulimia, alcoholism, and racism.
  • Count the Night by Stars — Michelle Shocklee — This addresses prostitution and human trafficking at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.
  • The Choices She Made — Felicia Ferguson (Sept 26, 2023) — This coming-of-age and dual timeline tale takes us back and forth between Madeline’s teenage life and fourteen years later while living out the consequences of her earlier choices. This deftly and sensitively deals with rape and its  fallout.
  • We Hope for Better Things — Erin Bartels — Deals with slavery and racism around Detroit, Michigan through the decades, from the Civil War era and underground railroad to riots during the 1960s Civil Rights movement to present day. (Affiliate link)
  • Shadows of the White City — Jocelyn Green — This addresses prostitution and human trafficking at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago
  • The Water Keepers — Charles Martin — Book 1 of the Murphy Shepherd series. Murphy, a rescuer, is on the trail of human traffickers. He races time to find a missing teen before harm comes to her, and before his own secrets overpower him. Very intense. (Affiliate link)
  • Before We Were Yours — Lisa Wingate — Contemporary & 1930s, based on true events in Memphis, TN when Georgia Tann kidnapped hundreds of children to abuse or put up for adoption. (Affiliate link)
  • Under the Magnolias — T.I. Lowe (August 29, 2023) — In South Carolina, 1980, Austin suddenly becomes caregiver to six siblings when her mother dies. Worse is trying to keep her father’s strange episodes hidden from the community. Deals with mental illness.

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Coming soon: Fifteen Minutes with Mr. Baum, a novel

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8 Comments

  1. Anita Klumpers

    You are amazing. Honestly. Hopefully this was fun for you to do
    because it sure was a lot of work!

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      Thanks, Anita! Actually, this was a lot more work than I figured! I do like to organize things, so that’s a plus. I consider it a labor of love that will hopefully benefit fellow readers as they hunt for titles to read.

      Reply
  2. Nancy R Radosevich

    This is so impressive! Great list to have on hand when I’m trying to figure out what to read next. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      You’re welcome! Thanks for checking it out. I hope you find it helpful!

      Reply
  3. Elizabeth Daghfal

    This is super helpful! Thank you for doing this. I love going back and rereading your original posts/reviews, but this makes them much easier to find AND to remember them. Glad to see your back posting. 🙂

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      You’re welcome! So glad you find it helpful!

      Reply
  4. Barbara M. Britton

    Wow! I am impressed, Laura. You are widely read and have read a multitude of books.
    Thank you for sharing your library with us and defining the categories.
    I appreciate seeing some of my titles in the mix, too.

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      Of course your titles are in the mix. They are deserving! 🙂 I included everything I’ve featured on the blog. This doesn’t even include the general market books I read, though. Or the non-fiction.

      Reply

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