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35 / 51 states. 69% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Hist-Fic Picks for 2021

Today's a doozy of a Tuesday.  It's Election Day here in the U.S. and, let me tell you, tensions are running very, very high!  I've never experienced a crazier, more divisive election—I can't wait for it to be over.  People are panicking (Costco was completely out of toilet paper by the time I got there at 11:30 yesterday), desperately worried over what will happen if Trump loses.  I'm praying that peace and level-headedness will prevail.  If it doesn't, my pantry and freezer are stocked in case we need to hunker down for awhile.  I admit I'm concerned about the fate of my beloved nation, especially if my chosen candidate does not triumph, but I have faith that God is the one who's truly in charge.  May He bless my beloved nation today and always.

Top Ten Tuesday is always a fun distraction and today it's especially needed!  The topic du jour—My Top Ten Non-Bookish Hobbies—is one I did back in January of 2018 and then again in April of this year.  I don't have enough hobbies to revisit the subject, so I'm going to do something else with my list today.  

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I enjoy a good historical novel.  I'm especially fascinated with fiction set during World War II, but there are so many more eras out there to explore.  I definitely need to branch out.  Currently, I'm reading Brother's Keeper by Julie Lee, a middle-grade novel about the Korean War that's based on the author's mother's harrowing escape from North Korea during that conflict.  It's a gripping book set in a time and place I know little about.  An eye-opening read, it's reminding me not only how important historical fiction is but also how much I love it.  So, I decided to take a gander at up-and-coming hist fic titles.  Some great-looking historical novels are coming in 2021.  I tried to focus on books I haven't highlighted before and those not set during World War II.  Here's what I came up with, in no particular order ...

Top Ten Historical Novels Publishing in 2021:

1.  Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (coming May 4)Titanic books always interest me, so I'm all in for this novel by Lee, who's one of my favorite writers of YA historical fiction.  The story revolves around a British-Chinese teen who smuggles herself on Titanic.  Her plan is to find her missing brother, then convince the higher-ups at the Ringling Brothers Circus to take them both on as trapeze artists.  Of course, nothing goes quite as planned.  Sounds good, yes?

2.  The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper (coming March 9)—I discovered this Australian author earlier this year and have been anxious to read more by her ever since.  Starting in 1906, her newest concerns a young orphan who is taken in by philanthropist siblings.  When her female guardian reacts strangely to a gallery exhibit, the girl realizes how little she really knows about the woman.  She sets out to discover the enigmatic woman's back story.  

3.  After Alice Fell by Kim Taylor Blakemore (coming March 1)—In 1865, New Hampshire, a woman is summoned to collect her sister's body from the mental asylum where she has just died from a four-story fall off the institution's roof.  The asylum directors claim their patient committed suicide, but her sister suspects something far more sinister:  murder.

4.  The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher (coming February 2)—When Lucy Wilson comes to rural Kentucky in 1911 to work for the education superintendent, she is shocked to discover that most adults in the area's hill country cannot read or write.  She vows to change that.  Inspired by true events, this one sounds excellent.

5.  In Times of Rain and War by Camron Wright (coming April 6)—Okay, so I couldn't resist including one World War II novel.  I've enjoyed other books by Wright, so I'm excited about this novel, which is about a soldier who discovers a young German Jewish woman hiding in plain sight in England.  A connection grows between them, but can they trust each other with their dark, dangerous secrets?

6.  A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (coming February 2)—Alright, two World War II novels!  This middle-grade offering stars three orphaned siblings who are desperate to stay together, despite the fact that suitable guardians are in short supply and none are looking for more mouths to feed.  They're evacuated to the country, where they finally find hope in a kind village librarian.  Can she keep them safe when the Nazis are already suspicious of her allegiances?

7.  The Fabergé Secret by Charles Belfoure (coming January 5)—Set in Russia, 1906, this novel concerns the persecution of Jews and the couple who determines to do something about it, despite the risks.

8.  Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh (coming May 4)—I can't find a lot of information about this middle-grade novel, but I know it's set during the Korean War.  The cover is very similar to Brother's Keeper, so I'm guessing it tells a parallel story.  Before picking up Brother's Keeper, I'd never read a book about the Korean experience during the war—I definitely want to learn more.

9.  Mazie by Melanie Crowder (coming February 23)—This YA novel set during the 1950s is about a Nebraska teen who's unexpectedly given the opportunity to pursue her dream of performing on Broadway.  Intimidated by the noisy city and the frustration of actually making it in the Big Apple, she has to decide whether to persist with her dream or leave it all behind and return to the life she left behind.

10.  Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz (coming January 5)—Unlike most residents of Virginia colony, Selah Hopewell has no interest in marriage.  It's ironic, then, that she's put in charge of a group of tobacco brides who are being shipped in to marry Virginia's many tobacco barons.  The last thing Selah is expecting is her own romance ...

There you have it, ten soon-to-be-released historical novels that I'm looking forward to.  Do you enjoy hist fic?  Which up-and-comers are you excited about?  Who's your favorite writer of historical fiction?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!


  1. Brother's Keeper does sound interesting.

    My post.

    1. I finished it last night and really enjoyed the read. It's super sad but also very compelling.

      Thanks for coming by, Lydia!

  2. I'm looking forward to Channel Cleeton's The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba and Kristin Hannah's The Four Seasons.

    1. THE FOUR WINDS is a good one! It's sad but very vivid and compelling. I haven't heard of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA. I'll check that one out.

      Thanks for stopping by, Deanna!

  3. Ooh these look so good! I love historical books, so I'll check this one out!

    1. It's one of my favorite genres! I'm glad I'm not the only hist fic lover out there :)

      Thanks for coming by!

  4. I am so disappointed in people these days. I am a moderate, so everyone seems pretty crazy to me. I don't read a ton of historicals, but some of these sound great.

    1. Right? I've been absolutely shocked by people's behavior during this election, not just by who some of them are choosing to vote for but how viciously and aggressively they're expressing their opinions. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but how about a little civility? Yikes.

      I did a Google search for upcoming YA historicals and I didn't find much, unfortunately.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  5. I hear you. I think tensions are equally high about what happens if Trump wins...see all the boarded up windows in Democrat-leaning states such as California and New York. It's a real shame we find ourselves in this position.

    I'm still reading but have been really distracted the last several days - avoiding political "news" and ads is just about impossible. And, sadly, it's only going to get worse, no matter who wins this one.

    1. Yeah, I don't know what to say about this election :( I have faith that the country is in God's hands and that gives me solace, no matter who's in the White House. I'm just glad the election is over and all the nastiness can die down, hopefully.

      I'm sorry you haven't been able to lose yourself in books. It's nice to escape into imaginary worlds when the real one is too hard to take.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  6. The Girl in the Painting looks amazing! And I think The Moonlight School sounds interesting, too. And the political situation in our country right now is crazy! But I know we'll all survive it. Somehow. :)

    1. America always survives, no matter who's in the White House, because God is the one who's truly at the helm!

      Yeah, I'm excited to read both of the books you mentioned. All of Cooper's novels sound good - I need to get going on her backlist.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

  7. I've read a few Melody Crowder novels. They are so good and if my memory serves me, written in verse. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

    1. Have you? I'd never heard of her before. I usually like novels-in-verse so I'll have to check out her other books as well.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I hadn't seen Mazie! Loved Brother's Keeper. My students aren't the most enormous fans of historical fiction, but I do enjoy it. Glad I found your blog!

    1. Historical fiction seems to be a hard sell for today's kids. That's so sad because some excellent hist fic is being written and it's such a great vehicle for not just learning about history but also really feeling like you're there.

      I enjoyed BROTHER'S KEEPER, too. It's sad but so compelling. I learned a lot from it.

      Thanks for coming by, Ms. Yingling! I'm glad you found my blog, too :)

  9. Your election is of course all over the news here. It's a difficult time and I'm sending best wishes from across The Pond for a peaceful conclusion to it all.

    I love the sound of The Midnight School and In Times of Rain and War. Will go and look at those on Goodreads.

    1. Yes, it's been quite the embarrassing spectacle! I'm glad it's over, even if it hasn't gone the way I wanted it to.

      I'm excited for THE MOONLIGHT SCHOOL especially. I like books set in Appalachia and I haven't read many about adult illiteracy, so this one sounds compelling to me. I hope we both enjoy these!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cath!

  10. Awesome list! I'm especially intrigued by After Alice Fell.... I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for that one!

    I hope you have a semi stress-free rest of your Tuesday!

    1. Right? It sounds like such a good read! I can't wait.

      Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

  11. I usually ignore the news (since about April 2020) but listening a bit today and things seem quiet and calm. Let's hope it's not before the storm. Let's all BREATHE!

    1. YES! I feel like we've been holding our collective breath since March. We all need to just chillax. Breathe in, breathe out ... and go back to ignoring the news!

      Thanks for coming by, Debra!

  12. Ooh, Hist-Fic! Nice way to change the topic. I'd like to read Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh, and A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus.

    Here's my list of hobbies for this week's TTT!

    1. I found all kinds of great-looking upcoming hist-fic titles in my searches. I wish I could have highlighted them all!

      Thanks for stopping by, Lectrice!

  13. I don’t usually read historical fiction but oh my goodness that MAZIE sounds incredible. I’m going to add that to my wishlist to keep it on my radar!

    1. It does sound like a fun read, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to it for sure. I hope we both love it!

      Thanks for coming by, Brittany!

  14. Ooh, great list! I don't read as much historical fiction as I would like to, so I'll be looking into these!

    1. I tend to concentrate more on mystery/thrillers, but I love hist fic and definitely need to read more of it myself.

      Thanks for stopping by, Nicole!

  15. The best book of historical fiction I ever read is called The World is Not Enough and it is written by Zoe Oldenbourg. It was an amazing read.

    Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly during the election.

    1. I've never heard of THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH. I'll check it out.

      Thanks for coming by, Deb!

  16. A quick thank you is in order for your words on the election. It brought me some comfort.

    I don't read historical fiction very often, and if I do, it's nearly always related to World War II. That said, I'll definitely have to check out the two you mentioned! Mazie also seems like one I might enjoy, so I'll be looking more into it as well.

    1. My faith is sometimes the only thing that brings me comfort :)

      I have a definite bias toward WWII in my historical fiction reading. It's just such an endlessly fascinating period! I am trying to branch out a little, though, since there are lots of wonderful hist fic novels that DON'T deal with WWII.

      Thanks for stopping by, Holliehocks!

  17. I LOVE historical fiction so I'll have to bookmark this page because most of the books here sounds like ones I want to read. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, good! I'm so glad all of these appeal to you. I hope we both love them. Be sure to come back and let me know which you've read and what you think of them.

      Thanks for coming by, Laura!

  18. Things definitely seem to be quite crazy over there I feel for you guys, all this election madness in the midst of a year like this one...

    This is a great list, Luck of the Titanic in particular sounds fascinating!

    1. Crazy is a good way to describe this election! Yikes.

      I'm always fascinating by Titanic books. I don't know why since they're so sad, but I'm always drawn to them. And if they're written by one of my favorite authors? There's NO WAY I can resist :)

      Thanks for stopping by, Sara!

  19. I wish you all the best with the elections. Let's hope the right guy wins and the other one won't make a fuss .... although I don't see that happen.

    Anyway, I will look at your previous posts because I'm curious about your hobbies though we talked about some already on my page.

    I loved this list because I also love historical fiction and there seem to be some real gems among them.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT earlier.

    1. My preferred candidate certainly does not appear to be winning, but I guess it's not over 'til it's over, right?

      My hobbies aren't very exciting, but I know we have some in common which doesn't surprise me at all :)

      I'm glad you found some titles to pique your interest. If you do read any of them, be sure to let me know what you think.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

    2. So true. But I don't like what I see on the news about the States at the moment. So much hate!

      I do hope it will all end peacefully.

      And it's always such a pleasure to talk to you.

      Have a good day.

  20. Great selection, I'm picking up The Girl in the Painting for sure. Happy TTT!

    1. Me, too! It sounds excellent.

      Thanks for stopping by, Lexlingua!

  21. I love the choice of historicals and love the covers. Added some of these to my must check out list! And hope everything's going okay where you are, during this crazy election.

    1. Historicals have the most beautiful covers! I'm glad you found some titles that pique your interest. I hope we both enjoy them.

      Thanks for dropping in, Alex!

  22. Like you, I really enjoy historical fiction. The one you're reading now sounds so good as does The Fabergé Secret

    1. BROTHER'S KEEPER is a great read, just really sad. I hope you enjoy it if you read it. I haven't read many books set in Russia in any time period, so THE FABERGE SECRET really intrigues me as well.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

  23. Aaah! I love this list! I will definitely have to keep an eye out for all these great reads. Thanks for recommending them, and happy (belated) TTT!

  24. I also enjoy a good historical fiction story, so you know I will be watching for some of these. Great idea Susan.

  25. Ughhh.. they way people have attached to politics in this country is just outright disgusting and embarrasing. I'm so glad the election is over. I am so over it but I fear that this country is far too divided. I can say I have never been more stressed out because of how people would REACT. I am just now blogging because I just spent all week on twitter. haha.

    Anyways, there's some great books on here and I'm totally going to be adding a few to my TBR. I really do love historical fiction at times!!


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