August 2023 – Historical Fiction TBR Book List

Welcome, fellow book lovers!

If you’d prefer to listen to this book list, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. 

I also invite you to my Instagram post, where you can tell me what you’re reading this summer or drop some book recs for me. I love to keep adding to my TBR lists and seeing suggestions from other readers. 

So how has my reading been going this summer? I think it’s gone really well for me. Definitely a lot better than my spring. I’ve been exploring new genres of fiction. In June, I read all mystery & thrillers and absolutely loved them. I had a solid month that month. In July, I read all romance or romcom books, and even though that hasn’t been my favorite genre, I had some really good reads that month. Now, I’m ready to explore another new area of fiction to me.

August Reading Theme

I’m still on the hunt for a 5-star book. I haven’t had one since March, and I’m getting pretty desperate at this point. I don’t know if I’m getting harder to please, so it may just be me, or if I’m just not picking the right books and I keep missing the boat. But I go into every month with the hope that I will finally discover the next book that I can’t get out of my head and gush all over, like the dorky fangirl that I can be.  

With that being said, let’s reveal my August reading theme: Historical Fiction.

I absolutely love historical fiction movies. Any time period film, especially Victorian, I will probably love it. The older the setting is, the better. My favorites are when movies are set in the 18th or 19th centuries. There’s just something refreshing about watching stories that take place back in time. I guess it’s because things seemed so much simpler. They didn’t have technology getting in the way. There are many situations that make for great conflict and drama that is harder to recreate in modern times. 

Also, I absolutely adore fashion from olden times, the music, the settings, and just seeing how different life was back then. I also love the feeling of family and community. People lived in small villages or towns and there always seemed to be dances, balls, and community events. Life isn’t like that anymore, which is a shame. I mean, I don’t even know my next door neighbors, let alone a town of people. Everyone just keeps to themselves these days. It’s so ironic that we’re more connected today than ever in human history, but many of us feel more isolated and alone than ever. So I think that’s why I really enjoy watching movies set in different time periods, even if it’s just the 1940s, 50s, or 60s. I’ve always seen myself as an “old soul.” 

So I thought it was time to dive into this realm of fiction and read stories set back in time. I’ve read only one historical fiction book, which was The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I think I read that back in 2008 or 2009. Then I saw the movie, which wasn’t bad but the book is far superior. I definitely recommend it. I gave it five stars.

August To Be Read (TBR) Book List

I wanted to read an array of time periods, so I have some books set in the 50s, World War II, the 19th century, Victorian and Regency eras, and the oldest is colonial times in the 18th century.

Some are very popular titles and others are lesser known or not talked a lot about. These choices are also a mix of drama, romance, mystery, and gothic, but still no fantasy. As much as I am starting to really miss my fantasy books, I’m still trying to stay away for one more month.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Average rating on GR: 4.44
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Why I Chose This Book: I’m giving Taylor Jenkins Reid another chance. I know she’s a wildly popular author in the community, and she really is a good writer. I read Daisy Jones & the Six last month but was not impressed. It was one of the biggest disappointments of my July selections. There was so much hype around it, but it fell pretty short for me. I hope this one doesn’t do the same. I’ve seen this title all over BookTube and Bookstagram. It sounds really good, people say it’s really good, I just hope it is.

On GoodReads, it has over 2.3 million ratings and over 224,000 reviews. So this is another “the book community made me read it” choice. But, I also love old Hollywood glamor and stories about famous people – how it started, how they peaked, what went wrong, how they fell – their whole story. I’m hoping for glitz, glamor, an engaging story, and captivating characters. I have a feeling this is more character-driven than plot-driven. I know TJR can write really good characters, so I’m hoping to get some good ones in this book.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Average rating on GR: 3.68
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Why I Chose This Book: This is a pretty popular book, and this author has quite a few books that I have in my TBR list to eventually check out. I’ve heard this is a little strange, a little gothic and horror, a little spooky. If I wanted a book for Summerween, I think this might be it. I’ve also never read anything with Mexican culture in it, so I wanted to explore this new territory and read something different. I’ve also heard that her writing is beautiful and lyrical, which I really enjoy reading. I’ve also seen many reviews say that there are a lot of twists and turns and suspense. So I’m ready to be disturbed or creeped out a little. I didn’t quite get that back in June from the mysteries and thrillers that I read. But I have seen a lot of mixed reviews on this book – some love it and others think it’s just mediocre, so I’m gonna find out for myself what this book is all about and see if I like it or not. I haven’t really read anything gothic before, so my interest has been piqued.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Average rating on GR: 4.29
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: 

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions

Why I Chose This Book: I threw in a couple of WWII books. If you didn’t listen to the first episode of my most anticipated summer book releases, I had a couple of WWII historical fiction books in my list. When I was in middle school, learning about this war, I got really interested in this time period. Specifically, when we learned about the Holocaust and the concentration camps. I was fascinated and yet horrified at the same time when I learned what people did to each other during this time and the things Jews were put through, like the camps. I remember devouring every book I could get my hands on on the subject. I think I checked out every book my local library had because I was sucked into this period of time. So when I saw the rave reviews for this book and that it was based on a true story, I knew I had to add it to my list. With these types of books, I’m always looking for stories of heroism, strength, inspiration, and hope. It’s such a tragic, dark period of our history, but there’s so many lessons we can learn from it, especially the stories of perseverance, resilience, and compassion.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Average rating on GR: 4.51
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.

But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.

Why I Chose This Book: I chose this book because I watched the movie on Amazon Prime and absolutely loved it!! I bawled my eyes out at the end. It was SO good!! Highly, highly recommend this movie. It touched me emotionally on a deep level and I didn’t expect that going into the movie. I thought it was just a historical romance movie, which I love. But it ended up being so much more than that. I really connected to the characters, the messages being told through the story were very relatable, the music was beautiful, and the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous.

Then, I found out it was based on a book, so I knew when I chose this month’s theme that I had to put this book on my list, immediately. Then, I found out that it’s considered Christian fiction. I really had no clue. I didn’t get Christian fiction at all when I watched the movie, so I was surprised to find that out about the book. I’m curious to see how much faith plays a role in the story. Then, I saw the massive amount of rave reviews for this book – almost 30,000 ratings on Amazon, and almost 300,000 ratings and over 17,000 reviews on GoodReads. This is one of my most highly anticipated for the month, so I’ll probably pick it up as one of my first reads. I’m really going into this one with high hopes.

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

Average rating on GR: 4.34
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

Why I Chose This Book: So I wanted to explore more Christian fiction that was also historical fiction. I follow a couple of Christian fiction readers on BookTube, and my favorite one that I watch highly recommended this author. She said Rachel Fordham is one of her favorite Christian fiction authors, and it sounds like her books are light on faith and she writes historical romance, so I was very curious to check her out. I chose her very first debut novel. It’s also a western, and I’ve never read a western or western historical romance, so I’m excited to explore this new area of fiction. It has pretty high ratings on GoodReads and many people seem to love it. We shall see if it lives up to the praise.

Murder in Postscript by Mary Winters

Average rating on GR: 3.87
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: When one of her readers asks for advice following a suspected murder, Victorian countess Amelia Amesbury, who secretly pens the popular Lady Agony column, has no choice but to investigate in this first book in a charming new historical mystery series.

Amelia Amesbury—widow, mother, and countess—has a secret. Amelia writes for a London penny paper, doling out advice on fashion, relationships, and manners under the pen name Lady Agony. But when a lady’s maid writes Amelia to ask for advice when she believes her mistress has been murdered—and then ends up a victim herself—Amelia is determined to solve the case.

With the help of her best friend and a handsome marquis, Amelia begins to piece together the puzzle, but as each new thread of inquiry ends with a different suspect, the investigation grows ever more daunting. From London’s docks and ballrooms to grand country houses, Amelia tracks a killer, putting her reputation—and her life—on the line.

Why I Chose This Book: Initially, I added this to the list because the cover is gorgeous. But aside from the artwork, I didn’t want my entire list to be either heavy drama or romance, so I added a mystery to the mix. Some even call this one a cozy mystery. I loved the mysteries that I read back in June but I didn’t read any historical mysteries and this one sounded interesting. It’s also set in the Victorian era, which is one of my favorite historical time periods for books and movies. I also love that the main protagonist is a writer of a column. Anything to do with books or writing, I’ll be interested in reading. This feels like it could be a fun, light-hearted novel.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Average rating on GR: 3.93
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Follows the adventures of an entirely unconventional heroine who throws herself into the London Season to find a wealthy husband. But the last thing she expects is to find love…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.

Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.

Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.

The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…

This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.

Why I Chose This Book: This is another light-hearted book that sounds like a good time. A few of my BookTubers had this in their TBR lists, and I’ve seen a few others talk about this book. It sounds delightful, funny, and pretty entertaining. I’ve also seen that it’s a clean book, no spice or language, which I can appreciate and prefer.

Miss Newbury’s List by Megan Walker

Average rating on GR: 4.19
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: England, 1820

Rosalind Newbury is counting down the days until her wedding to the Duke of Marlow, a man she has only met twice, and she knows exactly how she wants to spend her time. As a child, Ros created a list of ten things to do before her wedding day. So far, she has done none of them.

She is determined to tackle each item, though she’ll have to accomplish them all in secret. After all, a soon-to-be-duchess is not usually allowed to bury treasure in the pasture, eat sweets all day, or learn how to swim. She enlists the help of her best friend, Liza, who brings along her cousin, Charlie, a prodigal son-turned-boxer who has come to the countryside to mend his reputation and learn how to be his father’s heir.

Together, the three of them work to complete the list, and as each item is crossed off, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Ros and Charlie. The more time they spend together, the more Ros falls in love with this imperfect man and his good heart.

With the wedding looming, Ros must decide to either admit her romantic feelings for Charlie and risk her family’s future, or keep her promise to marry the duke and start a new life as a noblewoman.

Why I Chose This Book: This was chosen because a highly popular BookTuber made me do it. She was raving about this book in a couple of her videos, and she finally compelled me enough to add it to my list. Plus, I wanted a Regency romance in the mix. Again, it sounds like a very sweet, romantic, fun read. I love this idea of creating a bucket list and checking each item off when it’s completed, kinda like a scavenger hunt.

The Ace of Hearts by Ashtyn Newbold

Average rating on GR: 4.15
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Faced with her stepbrother’s betrayal and an unwanted marriage, Alice Rosemeyer accepts an invitation to the estate of Larkhall. Determined to earn her future security without a husband, she begins operating as the anonymous Ace of Hearts, writing love letters on behalf of the men eager to secure a match at the close of the London season. If she can manage to keep her identity secret, her reputation intact, and avoid the arrogant house guest, Mr. Thomas Herring, she might just call herself successful.

When Thomas Herring’s sister marries an indebted man because of a love letter, he has no choice but to marry into money himself. Invited to stay at Larkhall, he sets his sights on the wealthy sister of his host. When she appears indifferent, he stumbles upon an advertisement: a gentleman offering assistance in matters of the heart. An ace, so he is called. But when he turns out to be she, and also a guest at the same house, his task is further complicated—especially as Alice proves herself to be as captivating as she is clever.

With reputations, secrets, and more than one heart at risk, Alice and Thomas become trapped in a game with no rules, a game neither intended to play. Had they been wrong to play love for a fool?

Why I Chose This Book: I don’t remember how I found this author, but I started following her on Instagram and then GoodReads. She’s pretty young, in her late twenties, I believe, but she’s written over 25 historical romance books. I really wanted to check out this author and see if I will like her novels. So I started with one of her more popular books. It’s also the first in a series, so if I enjoy it, then I’ll probably continue it.

A Girl Called Samson by Amy Harmon

Average rating on GR: 4.55
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: In 1760, Deborah Samson is born to Puritan parents in Plympton, Massachusetts. When her father abandons the family and her mother is unable to support them, Deborah is bound out as an indentured servant. From that moment on, she yearns for a life of liberation and adventure.

Twenty years later, as the American colonies begin to buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah, impassioned by the cause, disguises herself as a soldier and enlists in the Continental Army. Her impressive height and lanky build make her transformation a convincing one, and it isn’t long before she finds herself confronting the horrors of war head-on.

But as Deborah fights for her country’s freedom, she must contend with the secret of who she is—and, ultimately, a surprising love she can’t deny.

Why I Chose This Book: I’ve heard of Amy Harmon, and she’s a pretty popular author. So I decided to finally read one of her books. This one has been rising to the top recently. I even saw one of my new favorite authors, Charlie Holmberg, praise this book and give it five stars. Honestly, that’s what made me curious about it and look more into the title. I also wanted to go back further in time and put a colonial time period on the list. I’ve never read a book set in the 18th century. Plus, the premise of the book sounds very intriguing. I love strong women characters, I just hope it’s not too feminism-focused and preachy. I’m definitely all about girl power and female empowerment, but I’m not a feminist.

*Bonus Book: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Average rating on GR: 4.16
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Why I Chose This Book: I have one bonus book, which was added by accident. I meant to get the graphic novel version but accidentally ordered the hardcover version. I didn’t want to bother sending it back and reordering the correct version, so I will just stick with this one. It’s also my only YA book on the list. No middle grade reads this month.

So I’m kinda bummed I’m not reading a graphic novel this month, but I’m really interested to read this one because it’s based on a real-life person and her experience at the Nazi concentration camp. As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of Holocaust and concentration camp books when I was in middle school and really liked them. Besides the time period and the circumstances of the story, this book caught my eye because it’s about books and keeping this library safe during the war. I’m hoping for a story of inspiration, hope, and resilience. I’ve decided that if I really like this book, I’ll probably get the graphic novel at some point to have the visual version because I’m still very interested in reading that one as well.

Historical Fiction Reading

Well, there you have it, my fellow bookworms – 11 books to end my summer reading season. Check back at the end of the month to see which ones I chose to read and what I thought about them. 

Until next time, my story lovers, happy reading!

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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