Past Tense

Women in WWII

Hi historical fiction fans!

I think we all know I’m more of a book person than anything else, but I have plans to go see a movie in theaters with friends this weekend for the first time in years. YEARS, I kid you not. I’m really excited. But you know what I’m probably going to bring with me just in case the pre-preview advertisements go way too long? A book. So we all know which one really wins at the end of the day.

What do S.A. Cosby, Khaled Hosseini, Sarah Bakewell, and Yahdon Israel have in common? They’ve been guests on Book Riot’s newest podcast, First Edition where co-founder Jeff O’Neal explores the wide bookish world. Subscribe to hear them and stay to hear Book Riot’s editors pick the “it” book of the month.

Bookish Goods

Cream colored sweatshirt with a pastel rainbow and the words "READING RAINBOW" in pink

Reading Rainbow Sweatshirt from Stella Vita Studio

Enjoy a bit of nostalgic comfort with this cozy Reading Rainbow sweatshirt. $31

New Releases

Women of the Post Book Cover

Women of the Post by Joshunda Sanders (July 18, 2023)

Women of the Post tells the story of the only battalion made up entirely of Black women to serve overseas during WWII. In England, as part of the 6888th Central Postal Battalion, they are tasked with sorting over one million pieces of mail. They know their work is the only thing connecting soldiers to their loved ones back home. But when a letter affecting one of their own is discovered, they’ll have to rely on the strength of their friendship to make it through these hard times together.

Counting Lost Stars Book Cover

Counting Lost Stars by Kim Van Alkemade (July 18, 2023)

A pioneering student in the world of 1960s computer programming and a woman working as a punch-card operator for Holland’s Ministry of Information during WWII share a connection to a man still struggling from being separated from his mother during the Holocaust. One worked to save his mother during the war, and now, the other is trying to uncover the answers that will help them both heal.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

As I was pulling new releases for this newsletter, I realized both titles were about women fighting back during World War II. Let’s keep going with that theme.

The Paris Agent Book Cover

The Paris Agent by Kelly Rimmer

A former British operative in France is still haunted by the war and the gaps in his memory sustained by a head injury that nearly cost him his life. His daughter, Charlotte, is determined to help fill in those gaps and find the agent who saved his life during that final mission. But as she learns more about Chloe and Fleur, two SOE agents stationed in France with a connection to her father, she discovers troubling evidence of a double agent risking all their lives. The truth of what happened in those final days of war is far more shocking than Charlotte — or her father — ever could’ve imagined.

When We Had Wings Book Cover

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, Susan Meissner

Based on the true story of three nurses nicknamed “the Angels of Bataan,” When We Had Wings follows three women who forge a connection at the Army Navy Club of Manila before being caught up in the combat between U.S. and Japanese forces in the Philippines. Taken into captivity as some of the first female POWs of the Second World War, Eleanor, Penny, and Lita do their best to keep themselves and their fellow inmates alive under the most horrific of conditions.

Sisters in Arms Book Cover

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson

Like Women of the Post, Sisters in Arms highlights the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. Grace and Eliza come from very different backgrounds, but in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, they are on even ground. Both women will be among the first female officers the Army has ever seen and some of the first Black women ever allowed to serve. There are many determined to see this so-called experiment fail, but Grace and Eliza are determined to ensure the battalion’s success, even when that means putting their own lives on the line.

That’s it for now, folks. Stay subscribed for more stories of yesteryear.

If you want to talk books, historical or otherwise, you can find me @rachelsbrittain on Instagram, Goodreads, Litsy, and occasionally Twitter / whatever new Twitter knockoff is going around.

Right now I’m reading The Tusks of Extinction by Ray Nayler. What about you?