New WW II Fiction

Historical fiction is one of our most popular genres, and during the last few years, there have been some amazing novels written about World War II. Right now, we have a great selection of those on our “New Release” shelf, which means the books have been in the Library less than 4 months. Take a look at these newer books, but also share the name of your favorite WW II novel by posting the title and author in the comments.

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear is unique among the listed books because it is part of the long-running Maisie Dobbs series. The rest of the books shown are stand-alone novels. Fans of the series know that Maisie served as a nurse in The Great War, trained as a private investigator, and now runs her own investigative agency. The Elephant of Belfast is notable for its focus on a short episode in the war’s history, the 1941 bombardment of Belfast.

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat

Although many WW II novels are set in either France or England, Eternal by Lisa Scottoline is set in Italy and begins with Mussolini’s rise to power. If you are a fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Girl from the Channel Islands takes you to a similar setting during the German occupation.

The Last Night in London by Karen White  The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Set during the London Blitz, The Last Night in London offers readers a story of friendship and espionage with a twist of betrayal. The Rose Code is also a spy novel, this time set in the top-secret facility known as Bletchley Park.

We seem to never get enough of World War fiction, so let us know your favorites!

Miss Benson’s Beetle

Have you ever had one of those days when you just can’t take it anymore? Have you felt like you needed a new start, perhaps a chance to follow your lifelong dream? Miss Benson had one of those days! Humiliated by her students, she steals a pair of boots and sets sail to New Caledonia to search for a legendary golden beetle.

This novel is a light read filled with quirky characters who are trying their best, but who keep making horrible choices. I would recommend this book to readers who like to read about interesting places and who believe you’re never too old to change. Although the book is set in the 1950s, it raises very contemporary issues such as body image, gender roles, and PTSD. The plot will make you laugh, but still give you something to think about.

You may be familiar with the author Rachel Joyce from her earlier book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which is about a different type of journey. Miss Benson’s Beetle is also a perfect choice for readers who enjoyed Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, or This is Your Life, Harriet Chance.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas

After graduating from Wellesley College with a political science degree, Lisa published her first novel at age twenty-one. Her books are published in more than 20 languages and are bestsellers all over the world. Lisa (born 1964) was also named Miss Massachusetts in 1995 and competed in the Miss America Pageant the next year.

Her novel “Stranger In My Arms” was given the Waldenbooks Award for greatest sales growth.  The following year, Lisa’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” was a Rita finalist at the Romance Writers of America convention.

In 2002 her novel “Suddenly You” was a Rita finalist and Lisa won the Rita award for her Christmas anthology novella featured in the “Wish List.”  It was a banner year, and her novel “Lady Sophia’s Lover” was awarded Best Sensuous Historical Romance from Romantic Times magazine, and “Lady Sophia’s Lover” was given a starred review in Publishers Weekly, as was “When Strangers Marry.”

The historical series the Ravenels, debuted on the New York Times Bestsellers list and, much to her fans’ delight, characters from previous books made cameos.  Each of the five Ravenels books has been a NY Times Bestseller.  The newest book Chasing Cassandra has been given a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly and by me 😉

Lisa is one of those authors that I never miss and I am always excited when the next title is announced, if you are a fan of romance with lots of twists and turns but always a happy ending you can’t go wrong with one of her many titles.

The Ravenels series in reverse order includes:

Chasing Cassandra 

Devil’s Daughter

Hello Stranger

Devil in Spring

Marrying Winterborne

Cold-Hearted Rake


Magic at the Biltmore

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

Sounds like great advice to me! Robert Beatty is the author is the Serafina series of books for ages 10 and up. The series takes place on the Biltmore Estate outside of Asheville, North Carolina and features the daughter of the estate’s caretaker. Living in the Biltmore’s basement, Serafina has seen a man in a black cloak roaming the corridors at night. As children from the estate begin to disappear, Serafina teams up with one of the Vanderbilt children to investigate and discovers a legacy of magic in the nearby forest.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty


Serafina and the Black Cloak, the first book in the series spent weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and is now being used in classrooms across the country. All of the books in the series provide a historical setting as well as plenty of spooky chills.



Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty        Serafina and the Seven Stars by Robert Beatty

Biographical Fiction

Biographical fiction, a novel based on the life of a real person, is nothing new. After all, some of us can remember reading great biographical fiction in the 1960s or 1970s (The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, for example,  and Burr and Lincoln by Gore Vidal). You are probably familiar with all the novels about British royalty written by Philippa Gregory. However, this genre has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last few years. Here’s a short survey of some of the authors and titles you can find in our collection at the Aurora Public Library District.

Robert Louis Stevenson and Frank Lloyd Wright are the subjects of novels by Nancy Horan, who grew up surrounded by Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park, Illinois.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan      Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain became a book group favorite and allowed readers to experience the Jazz Age in Paris while getting to know Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. Circling the Sun, McLain’s next book took us to Kenya with Beryl Markham, a friend of Denys Finch Hatton and Baroness Karen Blixen. You’ll want to rewatch Out of Africa after reading this book!

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain     Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Melanie Benjamin has written novels about Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Truman Capote.

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin     The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

We have biographical fiction about Madame Tussaud, Henry David Thoreau, Zelda Fitzgerald, and the wife of C.S. Lewis. But, don’t stop with people you’ve already heard of; part of the fun of this type of book is discovering someone you know nothing about.

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran      Woods Burner by John Pipkin

Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler      Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Tracy Chevalier introduced readers to the life of Mary Anning (of “She sells sea-shells” fame) in Remarkable Creatures. What do you know about the first Native-American to graduate from Harvard or about Einstein’s wife who was also a physicist, or about Annie Clemenc?

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier     Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict     The women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell

Let these novels take you into a different time and place and into the footsteps of a historical person. If you’ve read other great biographical fiction, share it here with other readers!

Netflix and Read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

First published in 2008, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has made its way to the small, streaming screen of Netflix just this year. I noticed it when I was scrolling through, looking for something to watch, and knew I had to read the book first before I watched the movie. I’m annoying like that.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows takes place just after the end of World War II in 1946. Parts of London remain piles of rubble and people still wait for loved ones to return from the prison camps they were sent to overseas. The war in its entire horror has not yet been realized by the characters, but life still goes on. Juliet Ashton is engaged in a cross-country tour of England, promoting the book she wrote under her pen name, Izzy Bickerstaff. The book is a compilation of the columns she wrote about life during World War II, and despite the success of it, Juliet wishes to retire her pen name and write something of substance under her own name.

While trying to come up with a book idea of her own, Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a complete stranger, who lives on the island of Guernsey and has come into possession of her old copy of Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb. Dawsey requests more information about the author and any other information and news Juliet can give him since the Nazis cut off all communication with the world outside of the island for five years during the German Occupation. Dawsey also mentions that he’s a part of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which immediately piques Juliet’s interest. Thus begins a correspondence between Juliet, Dawsey, and other members of the society and their adventures during the war.

The premise of the novel itself is unique, but so is the epistolary format in which it is told. In other words, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is told completely in letters between the various characters, making it a super quick and entertaining read. The Netflix film features big-ticket names like Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, and Penelope Wilton. I can’t wait to see it! (And compare/contrast/dissect every way in which the book is different; I’m annoying like that.)

Happy Reading! (And Watching!)

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is a narrative set in the past and that includes fictional characters as well as historical figures. Historical Fiction writers typically try to be as accurate as possible with extensive research, which is usually included in a bibliography at the end of the novel. Historical Fiction has always been popular, and the Aurora Public Library District and the Indiana Digital Download Center have numerous titles available. If you like history, then Historical Fiction is a genre for you.

Some authors will write a novel or two based in the past, but other authors specifically write Historical Fiction. Here are a few Historical Fiction titles we have on our shelves at the Aurora Public Library District:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah,  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Lorna Doone: A Romance of Examoor by R.D. Blackmore,  The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (just to name a few!).


Philippa Gregory is one of the most well-known current historical fiction writers. She is known for taking minor historical figures and making them the center of her tale. Her writing is extensively researched and she tries to be as accurate as possible. Start with The Other Boleyn Girl.


Tracy Chevalier is known for describing the artistic process behind a famous work of art. Her newest novel, At the Edge of the Orchard, was released this past year and follows a pioneer family for three generations from Ohio to California. Start with Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks draws from momentous historical events and turns them into personal experiences, which shows her roots as a journalist. Start with March, which is based on the life of the father from Little Women during the Civil War.


John Hersey writes war stories based on actual events with multiple characters and storylines throughout. He is one of the many Historical Fiction writer who also writes Nonfiction. Start with A Bell for Adano.


Mark Frost writes action-packed war stories as well as Historical Fiction Mysteries. He researches each subject thoroughly to give as accurate of an account as possible. Start with The Second Objective.


James Alexander Thom sets many of his novels in early America. The main conflicts typically involve clashes with Native Americans. His characters are extremely well-rounded and believable. His novels can also crossover into the Western genre. Start with Follow the River.


One element of Historical Fiction that is almost unique to the genre is the Family Saga, which tells the story of one particular family over the course of years or generations. Some popular Historical Fiction authors who write Family Sagas are Barbara Taylor Bradford, Janette Oke, and Colleen McCullough.


Other notable Historical Fiction writers are Jennifer Donnelly, Philippa Carr, Ralph Peters, Madeleine Brent, Isabel Allende, Anya Seton, and Diana Gabaldon. Be sure to ask the staff who their favorite Historical Fiction writers are, or check out the Indiana Digital Download Center for more titles.

Happy Reading!


Travel Back in Time with Teen Fiction

I admit that lots of our Teen books are fantasy or paranormal romance, but hidden among the seemingly endless trilogies are some real gems that can transport you back in time. You won’t be traveling with the use of a time travel machine, but with the help of compelling, thought-provoking historical fiction. These books cover a wide range of time periods and can vary from traditional perspectives to the unexpected to the very strange. As a life-long fan of historical fiction, here are some great choices!

Author M.T. Anderson won accolades in 2015 for his non-fiction Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Seige of Leningrad, but his Young Adult novel The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: the Pox Party won both a National Book Award and a Michael Prinz Award the year it was published.

octavian nothing

Yes, this title is a mouthful, but it is the fascinating and weird story of a slave boy in Boston immediately before the American Revolution. The story was continued in the second volume The Kingdom on the Waves. These books may very well spur you to read more about the plight of American slaves during the Revolution.

Bloodline by Katy Moran and the companion novel Bloodline Rising are set in England during the time of the Angle invasion. Don’t get these confused with the Bloodlines by Richelle Mead which is a vampire series!

bloodline    Bloodline Rising

Geraldine Brooks’ first novel, Year of Wonders, is based on the true story of English villagers who decide to quarantine their town to avoid spreading the Black Plague.

year of wonders

Meghan Nuttal Sayres addresses the role of women in  19th century Iran in the wonderful book Anahita’s Woven Riddle.


If you’re a fan of survival stories, nothing can match this retelling of the 1910 Shackleton Expedition to Antarctica.


Here are some of the best of our Teen World War II novels. After the publication of Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein wrote Rose Under Fire, another story of a female pilot in the war. Ruth Sepetys’ novel Between Shades of Gray was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal, Great Britain’s equivalent of the Newbery and Prinz Awards. Tamar, by Mal Peet won the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

verity     boxing club

between shades     Tamar

History, as taught in schools, focuses heavily on events that had a major impact on the U.S., but historical fiction can open your eyes to things that happened around the world – things you may not have heard of in school.

child of dandelions     disappeared

More and more non-fiction is being published in Graphic Novel format. The 2 book set by Gene Yang about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers and Saints is truly outstanding!