Past Tense

Tantalizing Clues About A New Silvia Moreno-Garcia Book

Most of you historical fiction fans probably already have The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, the newest upcoming release from Silvia Moreno-Garcia on your radar. It’s coming out this summer featuring this stunning cover.

the daughter of doctor moreau

I mean, how could you not be obsessed with this book already? Like Moreno-Garcia’s bestselling Mexican Gothic, the novel is set in historical Mexico and blends together elements of horror, historical, and Gothic fiction. This time, though, she’ll be recreating scenes of the nineteenth-century Yucatán peninsula as part of this reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. I truly can’t wait to see what she does with the story.

I, for one, am always excited to see any new release from Moreno-Garcia. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across this little tidbit on Moreno-Garcia’s social media pages recently:

A new book? From SMG? This is exactly the kind of news I’m always eagerly waiting for! She’s a fairly prolific author and frequently has a new book coming out every year, so it’s not a huge surprise. But nonetheless, knowing we’ll be getting a new book from Silvia Moreno-Garcia in 2023 is still great news.

And, okay, that’s all we know about Silver Nitrate actually. Just the title and that one tantalizing little epigraph, as well as a tentative release set for 2023.

But digging into the epigraph does give us a few more clues. “Casting the Runes” is a short story published in 1911 as part of a English writer M. R. James’ collection of ghost stories. It deals with alchemy, the occult, and a cursed book. Which leads me to believe this might be a ghost story. Moreno-Garcia does horror really well as we all saw in Mexican Gothic, so that would be pretty excellent news, if you ask me.

Obviously this is all speculations and we’ll have to wait for more information to know anything about Silver Nitrate for sure. But in the meantime, it sure is fun to guess.


Check out this Reading Pathways on Silvia Moreno-Garcia to get more familiar with her books if you aren’t already.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart. What about you?

Past Tense

April Historical Fiction That Should Be On Your Radar

Happy April, historical fiction friends! Despite some continued cold and rainy weather in my neck of the woods, I am looking forward to spring and nice, warm days of reading outside. And if you’re hoping for good reading to pair with the good weather (or, really, any old weather; let’s not pretend we as readers are all that picky when it comes down to it), these new April historical fiction releases might be just what you’ve been searching for. Many of these novels deal with family and belongings, as well as times of political change and turmoil. All of them feature fierce women making their way through the world, which is just happenstance, but what wonderful happenstance it is!

Pick one out, add it to your TBR, or request it from your local library and venture out into spring–and spring releases–with me.

Four Treasures of The Sky Book Cover

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Set against the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s American West, a girl named Daiyu–named after a tragic heroine–is kidnapped, smuggled into America, and forced to leave the life she knew behind. Year after year, she is forced to reinvent herself, from a calligraphy school to a brothel, outrunning tragedy and desperate to survive even as anti-Chinese sentiment grows. As violence against Chinese immigrants grows, Daiyu is forced to drawn on all the pieces of herself to claim her name and her story.

Release date: April 5, 2022

The Lives of Diamond Bessie Book Cover

The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock

Based on a true story, The Lives of Diamond Bessie recounts the life of Annie Moore, who became one of the sought after demi-mondaines in the United States. As a teenager she’s sent off to a convent for fallen women when she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, eventually turning to prostitution to survive. She garners many gifts from her admirers and even meets the son of a wealthy jewelry, who becomes her husband. She expects to find her salvation in him, but instead suffers the ultimate betrayal. But in this story set against the backdrop of the burgeoning Women’s Movement, how can a woman find redemption? And is the answer ever revenge?

Release date: April 5, 2022

cover of An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib

An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib

Three generations of Arab women, from 1920s to present day, face triumphs and failures as they forge lives for themselves in Lebanon, Iraq, India, the United States, and Kuwait. In 2013, a philosophy professor returns to Kuwait only to find herself facing accusations of blasphemy and the threat of execution after teaching Nietzsche. As she grapples with her place in the world, the stories of her grandmothers and mothers, whose fierce and fearless lives brought her to where she is today. It’s an intergenerational story of the personal and the political, but always, at its heart, a story of family.

Release date: April 12, 2022

Take My Hand Book Cover

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

A Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama, fresh out of nursing school and looking to make a difference, becomes a whistleblower to make known the terrible wrongs done to her patients in this historical fiction novel inspired by true events. When Civil Townsend begins working at Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she knows she’ll be making a real difference for women, helping make choices about their own bodies and their lives and what they want to do with them. But on her first week at the job, she’s shocked to find her new patients are children. And as she reflects on her career many years later, with her own daughters grown, she realizes that history is bound to repeat itself unless we force everyone to remember.

Release date: April 12, 2022

Forbidden City Book Cover

Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua

A teenager living through the 1960s Cultural Revolution in China becomes a poster child for the movement as well as a protegee and lover to Mao Zedong in this epic novel of modern history. At first, being a confidant and favorite of the Chairman seems like a dream for a girl like Mei, who dreamed of becoming the ideal revolutionary. But when a mission from Mao himself shows her the darker side of the latest stage of the revolution, she begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Release date: April 19, 2022

In the Face of The Sun Book Cover

In the Face of the Sun by Denny S. Bryce

The author of Wild Women and the Blues is back with a new historical fiction novel, this time set during the height of the Civil Right’s Movement in the 1960s. Frankie Saunders has always known her Aunt Daisy as a reckless and profane woman full of mysteries, but right now she doesn’t care what secrets her aunt is keeping, only that the woman is her best chance of escape from an abusive husband. But Daisy’s past as a journalist in Los Angeles in the twenties comes roaring back, and both women will have to decide what’s worth keeping of the past and looking forward to in this dual-narrative historical fiction novel.

Release date: April 26, 2022

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li and Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda. What about you?

Past Tense

Trans Voices in Historical Fiction for Trans Day of Visibility

March 31st is International Transgender Day of Visibility, so I thought our last newsletter of March would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some books by and about transgender people through the ages. These four stories span centuries and identities to depict characters who profoundly impact those around them as well as the world they live in. From intimate portraits of found families to thieves and warriors determined to save their people, these stories remind us that trans people exist and matter on Trans Day of Visibility and everyday.

The House of Impossible Beauties Book Cover

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

The House of Impossible Beauties highlights the 1980s Harlem ball scene in New York City, which offers a safe space for LGBTQ youth searching for family and acceptance. Angel is new to the world of drag and ball culture, but after falling for a dancer named Hector, the two decide to form the first ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit: the House of Xtravaganza.

Summer Fun Book Cover

Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton

A trans woman living in New Mexico begins writing letters to the mysterious leader of a quintessential sixties band, the Get Happies, that Gala is obsessed with. Her letters shed light on the band and the intersecting lives / identites of Gala and BB—- as the story unfolds in the present, with biographical retellings of the past.

Confessions of the Fox Book Cover

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg

With little else to drive him, an increasingly obsessive professor races to authenticate a eighteenth-century manuscript, possibly the only written confessions of an infamous thief named Jack Sheppard. Within its pages, the manuscript tells the story of an orphan named P, who longs to live as “Jack” instead and clashes with the newly established London police. P, who will eventually become Jack Sheppard, one of history’s most notorious thieves.

She Who Became the Sun Book Cover

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Described as part Mulan, part Song of Achilles, and often compared to The Poppy War, this historical novel with touches of fantasy reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s first emperor. In a time when the Mongols ruled China, a girl fated for nothingness takes up the identity of her dead brother who was said to be fated for greatness. Taking on his name, she decides to chart a new fate for herself: to take up arms against the Mongols and chase the greatness she was always meant to achieve.

A few other trans authors I highly recommend checking out, regardless of genre: Rivers Solomon, Akwaeke Emezi, Sarah Gailey, and Yoon Ha Lee.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!


That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean and Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica. What about you?

Past Tense

No Time to Read? Try These Historical Short Stories on For Size

I’ve always been a fan of novellas and short stories, particularly when I’m busy and the idea of finishing a story fast is really appealing. And this past week has been a doozy that left me looking for some great short fiction to occupy my limited attention span and reading time. My usual go-to for short stories and novellas is all the excellent SFF being put out from Tor and but a recent release of original stories from Amazon Original Stories –which include several historical stories–caught my attention.

If you’re having trouble finding time to read–or just want to check out some great short fiction–these five short stories from some truly incredible authors you might recognize are a good place to start. And I’ll be reading them right alongside you! Let’s check them out.

The Tiger Came to the Mountains Book Cover

The Tiger Came to the Mountains by Silvia Moreno Garcia

This short story from the Amazon Original Stories collection Trespass tells the story of two siblings on a farm in 1917 Mexico. Revolution has thrown the country into turmoil, but an escaped tiger poses an even more pressing danger.

The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington Short Story Illustration

The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark

One of my all-time favorite short stories by an author I consider an absolute must-read, “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” tells exactly the story you think it will. It’s also hauntingly beautiful and available to read for free on Fireside Fiction.

My Evil Mother Book Cover

My Evil Mother: A Short Story by Margaret Atwood

A single mother in 1950s suburbia may–or may–not be a witch. Her daughter isn’t sure. But what else could the strange plants in the garden be for? And why else would her mother be having all these hushed, mystical conversations with neighborhood women?

Everything My Mother Taught Me Short Story Cover

Everything My Mother Taught Me by Alice Hoffman

After being told to never say a word by her mother, Adeline makes a vow of silence. But when a woman vanishes without a trace, leaving Adeline as the only witness, she must learn to find her voice in the coming of age story set in 1900s Massachusetts.

A Righteous Man Book Cover

A Righteous Man by Tochi Onyebuchi

The author of Goliath and Riot Baby tells the story of a nineteenth-century British missionary on a trip to Africa. When his preaching is interrupted by encroaching slavers, the missionary experiences a crisis of faith that leaves him questioning his very humanity.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko. What about you?

Past Tense

Women in Historical Fiction for Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! Personally, I make it a priority to read books by women and about women all year round, but this month especially, it’s a good time to discuss women-centric historical fiction. One of the things I love about historical fiction is its ability to bring to light stories that have been forgotten or erased through the years. And that is very often the case when it comes to the lives of women and other marginalized people in history. Sometimes, authors use the genre to tell the true stories of incredible historical figures lost to time, while others imagine the lives of fictional women as they might have been through the ages–giving voice to the voiceless. These stories show the innumerable and important roles women have played throughout history not on the sidelines, but rather, erased from their own narratives. In historical fiction, finally, these women’s stories can be remembered.

These five historical fiction novels about women open up a window into the past. The first two bring to light forgotten stories of real women, while the others explore fictionalized–but all too real–women from decades and centuries past.

Her Hidden Genius Book Cover

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

The woman who discovered the double helix structure of DNA never won the Nobel Prize. Instead, that went to the men who used her research and claimed it for themselves, men whose names are written down in history books. Many people now know that Rosalind Franklin was the true genius behind the discovery of DNA’s structure, but in this historical novel, Benedict show just how relentless this pioneering scientist was in her experiments. And how her contributions were erased by the men around her.

Sisters in Arms Book Cover

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson

Sisters in Arms tells the true story of the first and only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may come from very different backgrounds, but they’re going into the WAAC on equal footing, as the first class of female officers the army has ever seen, and the first group of Black women allowed to serve as part of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. Overseas, the women of the Six Triple Eight will ensure that American servicemen receive world from their loved ones back home. But first, they’ll have to make it through bootcamp, and prove that in this experiment so many are determined to see fail, that they are tougher and more perfect than anyone.

The Mercies Book Cover

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

When almost all the men are killed during a terrible storm in an isolated village in Finnmark, Norway, the women band together to keep their society afloat. But to outsiders, like the newly appointed Scottish witch hunter Absalom, this independence is something sinister that must be stamped out. To him, women in power–women surviving and thriving without men–is an affront to God. But his new, young wife and villagers like Maren Bergensdatter, who lost her father and brother to the sea, will not bend or break that easily.

The Last Train to Key West Book Cover

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Three very different women running to and from Key West face the unbridled fury of nature over one fateful weekend that would go down in history. One woman fleeing an abusive marriage, one searching for her missing brother, and one on a honeymoon with a man she barely knows find their lives forever changes as a hurricane barrels toward Key West in the 1930s, a devastating event that would eventually go by the name of The Labor Day Hurricane.

Another Brooklyn Book Cover

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Past and present collide when August runs into a childhood friend who brings up memories of their time as girls together in 1970s Brooklyn. It was a time of friendship and possibility, but also heartache, as they learned that being girls and growing up isn’t always easy.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!


These 12 novels about historical women will help inspire a better future according to Electric Lit.

Check out these historical fiction novels inspired by real woman in history.

The author of What You Call Free talks about the role historical fiction plays in giving a voice to women.

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading The School of Mirrors by Eva Stachniak. What about you?

Past Tense

Discover Ukrainian Historical Fiction

My local libraries recently added a number of Ukrainian novels in translation to their databases, and according to NRP some bookstores are selling out of books about Ukraine and Russia. It’s no surprise people want to learn more in light of the current devastation in Ukraine. I’ve put a number of books on hold at my library and added even more to my TBR. But when I thought about putting together a list of Ukrainian historical fiction for this newsletter, I figured it would be too niche a topic to explore. After all, the list of Ukrainian literature written or translated into English isn’t exactly extensive. But it turns out, I was wrong. There is some great historical fiction out there from Ukrainian writers–and available in English!–which can provide a jumping off point for people wanting to learn more about Ukraine. Here are a few that I’ve found:

I Will Die in a Foreign Land Book Cover

I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart

In 1913 Paris, a Russian ballet incited a riot. A century later, protestors gather in Kyiv to protest the president’s decision to forge a closer alliance with Putin’s Russia instead of signing a referendum with the EU, only to face bloodshed when military police shoot live ammunition into the crowd, killing more than a hundred peaceful protestors. Blending voices of the past and present while following the lives of four very different people over the course of one volatile Ukrainian winter, I Will Die in a Foreign Land paints a picture of a turbulent Slavic history and how it has led to events today.

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets Book Cover

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, translated by Nina Shevchuk-Murray

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets is a multigenerational saga spanning sixty years of Ukrainian history. When a journalist unearths an old photograph of a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army killed by Stalin’s secret police, she decides it would be the perfect subject for a documentary. But opening this door to the past may affect the present as Darya discovers a painter who died under suspicious circumstances and may just be the latest victim of a corrupt political power play that stretches back to World War II.

Something Unbelievable Book Cover

Something Unbelievable by Maria Kuznetsova

Struggling to balance her life as a new mother, Natasha looks to her beloved grandmother Larissa, asking her to share the story of their family’s wartime escape from Nazis in Kiev. Larissa tells the story of their three years hiding out in the Ural mountains, shocking both herself and Natasha with the parallels to present.

According to a 2001 census, the vast majority of Ukrainians are of ethnic Ukrainian descent (77.5%), with the other largest faction (17.2%) being ethnically Russian. All of the books included on this list are from people of those ethnicities, perhaps unsurprisingly since they make up so much of Ukraine’s population. However, they don’t represent the totality of the Ukrainian people. Other groups, including Crimeans, Armenians, Romani, and Azerbaijanis also have stories to tell, and I hope as more books are written and translated into English, we will see them as well.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!


This list from Electric Literature offers a literary guide to understanding Ukraine, both past and present.

NPR wants you to read these 6 books about Ukraine.

The New Yorker rounds up literary voices from Ukraine and Russia.


That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading The Verifiers by Jane Pek and The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn. What about you?

Past Tense

March Historical Fiction You Should Know About

New month, new fiction. I long ago gave up any hope of keeping a manageable TBR. (Let’s just say my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf passed the 2,000 mark some time ago). So I get a wonderful satisfaction from recommending books that wind up on other people’s TBR. Maybe it’s a little bit schadenfreude, but mostly I think it’s just the fact that I can’t ever shut up about books. So when I read a great one or find out about exciting new releases, I just have to share the good news.

So gird your TBRs if you’re so inclined, and check out these March 2022 historical fiction releases I think you should all know about.

On a Night of a Thousand Stars Book Cover

On a Night of a Thousand Stars by Andrea Yaryura Clark

Told in a dual timeline narrative, a young couple faces the beginning of Argentina’s Dirty War in the 1970s, while, twenty years later, their daughter searches for answers about her parents’ past. But her search into a time when many people in Argentina were being disappeared by the state, may put both her parents–and her–in danger.

Release date: March 1, 2022

The Tobacco Wives Book Cover

Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

In the 1940s, Bright Leaf, North Carolina was the tobacco capital of the South. When Maddie Sykes arrives there to join her aunt’s thriving sewing empire as a seamstress, she has no idea that she will soon be thrust into a terrible conspiracy being hidden by the tobacco industry, which could ruin the lives of the women in Bright Leaf who she’s grown to admire and trust.

Release date: March 1, 2022

Daughters of Deer Book Cover

Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel

An Algonquin of the Weskarini Deer Clan marries a white Frenchman in the 1600s at the behest of her chief, hoping to cement a much-needed alliance with the French against the British and Iroquois. Marie does what she feels she must for her people, but her new husband’s Catholicism blinds him to her own culture and beliefs. And when it becomes clear that their daughter is two-spirited–a blessing according to Algonquin culture–his unmoving prejudice endangers everything their marriage was meant to build and everything Marie holds dear.

Release date: March 8, 2022

cover of Peach Blossom Spring: A Novel by Melissa Fu

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

On the eve of the Japanese invasion of China in 1938, a woman and her young son flee to the countryside in search of safety. Many years later, after settling in America, that young boy has grown into a man, and his daughter is desperate to understand her family and heritage, though her father refuses to speak about any of it. How can they move forward with the weight of the past dragging them down? It’s a generational story of survival and the power of the past as well as what it means to be home.

Release date: March 15, 2022

Things Past Telling Book Cover

Things Past Telling by Sheila Williams

An epic charting one woman’s journey from West Africa in the mid-eighteenth century and across the Atlantic, surviving enslavement and learning the skills of midwifery, even living through the Civil War. The book was inspired by a 112-year-old woman in the 1870 U.S. Federal census report for Ohio as well as the author’s own female ancestors.

Release date: March 15, 2022

The White Girl Book Cover

The White Girl by Tony Birch

Shining a light on 1960s Australia and the devastating government policy of removing Indigenous children from their home, Tony Birch’s The White Girl follows a grandmother and granddaughter just trying to get by. When a new policeman arrives in their small, country town, determined to enforce the letter of the law, Odette realizes she’ll have to risk everything to protect her granddaughter and the people she loves.

Release date: March 15, 2022

I Am Not Your Eve Book Cover

I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam

In this debut novel, Ponnambalam tells the story of Teha’amana, the thirteen year old girl sold to artist Paul Gauguin during his time in Tahiti. Teha’amana appears in Gauguins work, like in the painting, “”The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch,” as well as his journal. I Am No Your Eve is her story.

Release date: March 24, 2022

The Diamond Eye Book Cover

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

The author of The Rose Code and The Alice Network is back with another incredible story of courage during wartime. The life of a librarian and mother in Kiev finds her life forever altered with the start of WWII and Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Handed a rifle and sent to fight, Mila Pavlichenko becomes known as Lady Death, feared by Nazis and beloved by her people. But her wounds from the war are more than skin deep, and it’s not until a goodwill tour to America and an unlikely friendship with the First Lady, that she begins to find herself again.

Release date: March 29, 2022

The People's Princess Book Cover

The People’s Princess by Flora Harding

Everyone knows the story of Princess Diana. But in this novel set behind-the-scenes at Buckingham Palace, we get not just Diana’s story, but that of another beloved princess: Charlotte. Chaffing against the rules and expectations of royal life, the new Princess of Wales discovers the diary of Princess Charlotte, written in the 1800s, and the many parallels of their lies that lie within.

Release date: March 31, 2022

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang. What about you?

Past Tense

New in Historical Fiction: Upcoming Book Release From Taylor Jenkins Reid!

There are certain authors for whom I am always on the lookout for new releases. I talked about a few of them in a newsletter about my auto-read historical fiction authors a while back, and Taylor Jenkins Reid is without a doubt one of them. I mean just read any of her recent books, from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to Daisy Jones and the Six to find out why. Her writing is atmospheric and evokes the time periods she writes about flawlessly. Not to mention, her character dynamics are to die for.

So suffice it to say, as soon as I heard there was a new Taylor Jenkins Reid book set to come out this year, I couldn’t add it to my TBR fast enough. And Carrie Soto is Back sounds like it’s going to have everything I love in a TJR novel.

Returning to a character we briefly met in Malibu Rising, Reid’s newest novel explores a comeback story for Carrie Soto. After a storied career as a tennis player and twenty Slam titles, Carrie has retired from her life as a record-shattering athlete. But six years after retirement, Carrie is sitting in the stands of the 1994 World Open as a young upstart overtakes her record. Now, at thirty-seven, Carrie’s ready to come out of retirement and reclaim her record–not matter what the sports media or anyone else has to say about it.

So far in Reid’s novels, we’ve gotten a tour of decades: the fifties in Evelyn Hugo, the seventies in Daisy Jones, and the eighties in Malibu Rising. Now with Carrie Soto, we’re getting the nineties. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping we might get a book for every decade of the twentieth century, but for now, I’m just content with knowing there’s going to be a new Taylor Jenkins Reid book in the not too distant future.

Carrie Soto is Back is currently slated for release on August 30, 2022.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

New Releases to Look Out For:

Black Cloud Rising Book Cover

Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé

A lost story. A forgotten history. In late 1863, a newly formed group of formerly enslaved soldiers were tasked with tracking down the lingering threat of rebels in east North Carolina, newly taken by the Union. The African Brigade, led by an impassioned abolitionist general, hopes to prove that these men can be trusted as soldiers. But soldiers of the African Brigade like Sergeant Richard Etheridge are fighting for much more than that. They’re fighting for their future, and, for many of them raiding the very plantations which they so recently escaped, a chance to secure the future of their loved ones, too.

Release Date: February 22, 2022

The School of Mirrors Book Cover

The School of Mirrors by Eva Stachniak

In the court of Louis XV, teenage girls from all over France are sent to a secretive villa where they are trained as courtesans for the king. They are told the man they meet is a Polish noble, a cousin of the queen. But when one girl discovers the man’s true identity, she is sent away to give birth to a daughter in secret. A daughter who grows up to become a midwife, with no knowledge of her royal birth. And by the time she discovers the truth, Louis XVI rules France. And it is a dangerous time for anyone with royal blood.

Release Date: February 22, 2022

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman and The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston. What about you?

Past Tense

Celebrate Black History Month with Historical Fiction!

Black history is something we should be acknowledging and learning about all the time, not just in February, but Black History Month is nonetheless a great time to emphasize fiction by and about Black people. Historical fiction is a genre full of a wealth of incredible fiction by Black authors, telling stories about Black history both known and unknown. And especially with books being banned and people attempting to whitewash history more than ever, it’s important to read and acknowledge these stories. Black history is American history, and pretending otherwise doesn’t change that truth.

These six historical fiction novels cover Black history from the Civil War to the Civil Right’s Movement, and plenty in between. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, they present us with a collection of stories blending together fact with fiction to excellent effect. So make some room on your TBR and remember to read Black author this month and every month. Trust me, you’ll be better off for it.

The Rib King Book Cover

The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard

A delicious sauce. A stolen recipe. The exploitation of Black people. Those are the ingredients at the heart of The Rib King in which a down-on-their-luck family decides to market their cook’s delicious rib sauce using an awful caricature of their groundskeeper, August Sitwell, on the label. But neither August nor the cook, “Miss Mamie,” will ever see a dime, leading to a rage in August that will eventually explode into tragedy.

The Sweetness of Water Book Cover

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

After the Civil War, a family wracked by the loss of their son hire on two brothers freed by the Emancipation Proclamation to work on their farm, hoping the friendship will help staunch their grief. Parallel to their story, a pair of Confederate soldiers meet for secret trysts in the woods. But when they’re caught, the repercussions wreak havoc through the entire community. In the aftermath, it is the farmer’s wife, Isabella, who emerges as an unlikely leader, trying to bring a sense of community and healing to the land and the newly free citizens of Old Ox.

Carolina Built Book Cover

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander

Carolina Built is a novelization of real-life real estate magnate Josephine N. Leary building an incredible legacy for herself in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation. Alongside tending to her husband, daughters, and extended family, Josephine becomes a self-taught businesswoman, determined to build herself a legacy from the ground up.

Conjure Women Book Cover

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Rue inherited her mother’s gift for healing, something she witnessed first hand growing up on a plantation and has now started practicing for herself as a midwife in a community celebrating their newly-won freedom in the aftermath of the Civil War. But not everyone appreciates Rue’s work, work that can be dangerous when you’re dealing so closely with life and death. Whispers and suspicion begin to spread in the aftermath of a child born that the townspeople believe to be cursed. Rue is no witch. But she is hiding a secret that could destroy everything if anyone were to find out, a secret that goes all the way back to her childhood.

Harlem Shuffle Book Cover

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Part heist novel and part love letter to 1960s Harlem, Harlem Shuffle follows Ray Carney, a man descended from a long line of crooks trying to make it as an upstanding salesman of furniture. But when he’s volunteered as the fence for a heist on the Hotel Teresa that doesn’t go as planned, his business goes from being on the up-and-up to a clientele of shady cops and gangsters. There might not be any way out of this mess, but Ray is determined to find one that keeps him–and his furniture store–alive and well.

The Girl at the Back of the Bus Book Cover

The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison

Disowned by her family and with nowhere to go, sixteen-year old Mattie Banks boards a bus hoping to ride away from disaster. Instead, she witnesses a landmark moment in Civil Right’s history as Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat. It’s a moment that will change the course of her life forever and send ripples through the generations, as, many years later, her granddaughter uncovers shocking secrets and must reckon with keeping the peace or honoring her grandmother’s wishes.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!


Take a deep dive into hot sauce with the author of The Rib King.

A conversation with the Gaines Award Winning author of The Sweetness of Water, Nathan Harris.

Historical fiction by Black authors you should read according to Chandra Sparks Splond over on Black Fiction Addiction.


Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading The Memory Police by by Yōko Ogawa and translated by Stephen Snyder. What about you?

Past Tense

Historical Fiction + Romance = Historical Romance

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to dive into a genre that overlaps with historical fiction but is often considered something else entirely: historical romance. I’ll admit, it’s not a genre I’ve read very much of, and I probably tend to think of it more as a subgenre of romance rather than historical fiction. And yet, good historical romance can be just as thoughtful in its depictions of the past as any other historical fiction.

So, if you want to add a little romance to your historical fiction reading this February, here are three great historical romances to add to your TBR.

An Extraordinary Union Book Cover

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

During the Civil War, a formerly enslaved woman with an eidetic memory returns to the South to work as a spy for the Union. A Pinkerton agent, meanwhile, faces his toughest mission yet as he tries to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia. The two undercover agents join forces to take on a plot that could turn the tide of the war, while also facing their attraction to each other–and the fact that doing whatever it takes to win the war, might mean losing each other.

Tempest Book Cover

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

Shooting your intended isn’t the traditional way for a mail-order bride to greet her future husband, but for Regan Carmichael, it’s a genuine mistake. Colton, her intended, claims he’s only looking for someone to care for his daughter, not his heart. But soon, the idea of a bold, independent woman like Regan, willing to travel to Wyoming Territory for a widower and his child, begins to seem like something to long for, rather than deny.

A Little Light Mischief Book Cover

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian

Reformed thief Molly Wilkins is now a lady’s maid, which means she should really keep her hands to herself. But despite her best efforts, she can’t seem to keep herself from being tempted by her employer’s prim companion. Alice, for the first time in her life, has nothing to occupy her. Nothing, except a desire to find out the secret’s behind a lady’s maid with a sharp tongue and strange manner.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!


How Beverly Jenkins brings history to life in her historical romance novels.

A Q&A with Alexis Hall the author of Something Fabulous.


Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

That’s it for now, folx! 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.

Right now I’m reading Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall. What about you?