Book Lists

Our top lists of books – from different genres, interests. When you’re looking for a go-to read or a can’t-put-it-down kind of a book, our Books Lists are a great place to start.

Top 10 Historical Romance Authors

One of my favorite genres for many reasons, Historical Romance is obviously a popular option if you look at the shelves of booksellers (big and small). (They are also widely known for the embarrassing covers … muscly men and damsels with low-cut dresses. Just look at what a Google image search turned up!). There’s so many great hist-rom authors it’s hard to pick.

Historical Romance Search

Here’s Books for Her’s top 10 picks (at least those written in modern times). Feel free to leave us a comment with any you think we missed.

  1. Kathleen Woodiwiss – With plots spanning continents and travel, Woodiwiss carves beautiful, passionate characters into her action-filled plots.
  2. Stephanie Laurens – If you’re looking for series and then another series, Laurens has many family series with strong women and fierce men. You’ll love them all.
  3. Meredith Duran – A newcomer to the scene, but her novel Fool Me Twice got me hooked!
  4. Brenda Joyce – For the best Scottish/Highland romance, check out some of Brenda Joyce’s series.
  5. Rosemary Rogers – Maybe its that the first historical romance I read was Sweet, Savage Love – but Rogers’s novels have the classic stubborn woman and prideful man.
  6. Susan Wiggs – Weaving in historical details with her plot and characters, Wiggs’s Irish-English romance novels are almost saga material.
  7. Mary Balogh – The mark of this great historical romance writer is the depth of her characters and her ability to give them prominent flaws.
  8. Diana Gabaldon – A wizard of history, romance, action, time-travel and more … while her famous Outlander Series spans several genres, she’s a wizard of romance. (Bonus: Her Outlander Series is now Starz TV Series hitting it’s 10th season.)
  9. Paula Quinn – A master at weaving political intrigue with passion … typically with strong female and Scottish Highland setting.
  10. Beatriz Williams – Often with parallel storylines across different war times, Williams weaves challenging plots of love and heartbreak during War.

Did we miss any of your favorite historical romance authors? Let us know in the comments below.



Best Books for Gifts: Books for Her’s Top Books of 2015

The holidays are approaching and the perfect gift for friends, family and others is a good book. We’ve been reading all year and collected an amazing list of the best 4-star and 5-star books – and it’s quite a list! There’s a few authors repeating our list this year (Santa Montefiore and Beatriz Williams), but some new as well. We’re certainly fans of historical fiction (as more than half of our selects feature a historical plot) but mix in some thriller, action, romance and great young adult reads too.

Here’s the top reads from Books for Her reviewers in 2015:

Golden EarringsA powerful multi-generational saga of family, love and war, Golden Earrings is a must-read historical drama. Great for fans of family dramas like The Thornbirds, Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) and historical European drama. (Genre: History- European, Drama, Romance)

Under a Dark Summer SkyAn epic tale of post-WWI struggles in a segregated world is magnified when a disastrous hurricane strikes. A must-read this summer, Under A Dark Summer Sky will appeal to all readers – books clubs and more. If you liked The Help or To Kill A Mockingbird and like to read semi-fiction – based on true events with fictional characters – this is for you. (Genre: History- post WWI, Drama, Based on a true story)

Shadow Fall (Tracers): A must-read for her or him, Shadow Fall has solidified Laura Griffin on our to-go author list. Laura Griffin is known for her political-terror drama plots, and Shadow Fall is a fast-paced read for any action-adventure romancer lovers or someone looking for a book for you and your guy. (Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Action-Thriller)

Along the Infinite Sea: Beatriz Williams strikes again with the final book of the Schuyler sisters series. With history and drama, this is a great book if you’re a Beatriz Williams fan, if you enjoy smart, fun fluff, and if you enjoy a good character and plot-driven page turner. A bonus if you’re new to Williams, Books for Her has rated all her books at 4-star or better: More from Beatriz Williams.  (Genre: History – Post WWII, Romance, Drama)

River of No Return: Move over Jack Ryan [Tom Clancy], Jake Trent [David Riley Bertsch] is your new national hero – or at least another good one. A good plot-driven, page-turner, David Riley Bertsch is a great pick for fans of Tom Clancy, James Patterson and some good adventure. Also recommended for outdoorsmen. (Genre: Contemporary fiction, Mystery)


Circling the Sun: This fascinating journey into the life of Kenyan expat Beryl Markham (expert horse trainer, aviator, and third point in Karen Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton’s Out of Africa love triangle) is historical fiction at its best. (Gennre- Historical Fiction)


I Don’t Know How the Story Ends: In this young adult novel, two precocious young girls are drawn into the wild-west world of new Hollywood, with heartwarming and entertaining results. Though written for a younger audience, this little charmer has all of the good stuff: the power of framing a story, coming of age, and characters who leap off the page. (Genre- Young Adult, Historical Fiction)

The Beekeeper’s Daughter: For the second year Santa Montefiore makes our top list; The Beekeeper’s Daughter inspired a mix of fictional enjoyment and reflection. You’ll love it if you like fiction with some depth, if you think you’re really so different from your mother and if you like family drama, romance and history in one book. (Genre: History- multi generational, drama)

Ever After: In true Jude Deveraux style, you’ll stay up all night enjoying the third book in the Nantucket Brides Triology. This is a perfect post-holiday read, especially if you love Jude Deveraux, Nora Roberts and for those looking for a fun, fast all-nighter type of read. (Genre- contemporary fiction, romance)

Looking for something else?  Here’s some more books to browse:

Or if you don’t want to take the plunge a pick a book for a book-loving friend, try an Amazon gift card (they have a great selection of books – new and used) or even an audio book subscription.


Best Books for Gifts: Books for Her’s Top Books of 2014

The holidays are approaching and the perfect gift for friends, family and others is a good book. We’ve been reading all year and collected an amazing list of the best 4-star and 5-star books – and its quite a list!

Here’s the top reads from Books for Her reviewers:

Secrets of a Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore: The epitome of a summer read, Secrets of the Lighthouse is a mystery romance with a true depth that makes you breath with the characters. Santa Montefiore is brilliant! Best for someone who likes suspense-romance, likes Ireland or wants a classy book cover.

Anne Stuart Demon Count
The Demon Count Novels by Anne Stuart: Mystery, intrigue and a dark, brooding guardian … plus a second bonus novel too! Best for someone who likes a dark Jane-Eyre Mr. Rochester character, a Venetian-romance setting or good mystery-plot with your romance.


Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicklas Butler: An truly original, poetic book, Shotgun Lovesongs is delivered perfectly in this audio book – just make sure you’re not in a hurry. Best for someone who likes literature with original, unique writing.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Boy meets girl and they get married.  Fairytale ends and 5 years later, girl disappears.  Was it boy?  Hold on to your hats, this dual-perspective whodunit will have you guessing and re-guessing until the end. Best for someone who’s looking for a unique, fast-paced murder-mystery-thriller.

20510869The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes:  Put 600 wartime brides and a bunch of soldiers on their way home from World War II on one ship and what have you got? What do you expect? Disaster!  But seriously.  Some things you don’t expect as well. Best for someone who enjoys historical fiction rooted in fact.


Neverhome by Laird Hunt:  Suppose it’s 1861 and you’re the kind of girl that’s better suited to soldiering than your own husband. What would you do? Best for someone who likes a first rate, first person historical account that throws you right down in a place and time.


The Secret Life of Violet Grant:  I picked up Beatriz Williams’ latest because I was in the mood to just love a book.  The good news:  it was terrific.  The bad news:  now I am all out of Beatriz Williamses. Best for someone who likes a smart historical romance, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure.

Mary Balogh The Escape

The Escape by Mary Balogh:  The Escape lived up to my Mary-Balogh-romance expectations and delivered a romance with depth, character and twist up to the end. Best for someone who likes historical romance, but may want a little more depth to the story.

Sandra Brown Mean Streak

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown:  There’s no stopping point in Sandra Brown’s latest mystery-suspense – so be ready for an all-nighter. Best for someone who likes books they just can’t put down, a good modern-day mystery-suspense and fans of Sandra Brown.


The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin:  The Empress of Austria, an uncommon heiress, and a deeply flawed hero struggling with great big life choices…If it’s true as they say that when it comes down to it there are very few plots in all of literature, this one hearkens a very famous classic with a nice twist.  Challenge: Read it yourself and see what comes to mind.

Looking for something else?  Here’s some more books to browse:


The top ten books that have made a lasting impression on my life

I was challenged to list the top 10 books that made a lasting impression on my life. Here’s my list:

  1. 292408Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner:  The first assigned reading I stayed up all night reading.  Wallace Stegner is the voice of the American West.  And I am still half in love with Oliver Ward. (And Jamie Fraser.)
  2. Peace like a River by Leif Enger: The best opening pages I have ever read, and I am SUCH a sucker for a good quest novel.  Throw in the American west, and you’ve got me- hook, line, and sinker.
  3. No Great Mischief by Alastair McLeod: A tragic and beautiful account of family ties, the presence of the past, and a destroyed Scotland preserved in Canada.
  4. Where Rivers Change Direction by Mark Spragg: a bald and lyrical memoir of growing up on a dude ranch on Wyoming’s continental divide, where rivers changes direction.
  5. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: introduced me to magical realism, post colonialism, and the history of India all in one fell swoop.
  6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck: After a rash of escapist novels and a binge of television watching, reminded me why I read literature in the first place.
  7. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy: love and duty and justice and the romance of the cowboy all meet in the American West.
  8. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon: Scotland, history, time travel, grand adventure, escapism, romance, character development eight books strong.  ‘Nuff said.
  9. The Amelia Peabody Mysteries Series by Elizabeth Peters: About the time I got over my fantasy of becoming the female Indiana Jones, I discovered Amelia Peabody and it started all over again…
  10. City of Thieves by David Benioff:  The best based on a true story/great quest novel/war novel/ work of fiction I have ever read.  This book has it all.

Plus, since this task is nearly impossible, and Terra/BooksforHer gave me license to cheat, lets just make it fifteen:

  • Cowboys are my Weakness by Pam Houston:  If  I was going to teach lit students the concept of “voice,” this is what I’d use.  Mature lit students, that is.
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: A stunner of a character, a portrait of an age, and a twist or two.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: It is THE well-known classic for a reason.
  • Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot: for reminding me why I am a historian
  • AND The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand: for giving voice to the philosophy of history I didn’t even know I had.

In case anyone really cares.

Top 10 Books That Influenced Me

I was challenged to list the top 10 books that I felt like had an impact on my life. Apologies in advance to those expecting to see a list of classics and literature. I’m an unabashed escapist reader – and most of my books reflect that.gonewiththewind

Here’s my list:

  1. Gone with the Wind. An unhappy ending? Those didn’t exist until I read this. Not to mention the amazing historical characters and detail.
  2. Pride and Prejudice. I love the misunderstandings, the pride and the strong characters.
  3. Little Red Hen. The book I remember most from early childhood showed me how helping out pays off in the end.
  4. Where the Sidewalk Ends. I reread this collection so many times I could resight it by heart and did.
  5. Though a Glass Darkly. So many unlikeable characters and shocking circumstances.
  6. The Help. One of many good examples of great storytelling
  7. Outlander. Such a variety of genres in one book (series).
  8. Sweet Savage Love. My first historical romance.
  9. Love You Forever. Now that I have kids, this books makes me cry every time.
  10. What to Expect When Expecting. For my first pregnancy, I read this book every. single. day. It’s an amazing reference for a new motherlittleredhen

Now I challenge Books for Her/Erin to list her top 10 (and I know she’ll cheat and add a few … but I’m not one to force her to narrow it down).

Top 10 Books for Toddlers/Preschoolers

School’s back! And our kids will start getting into the reading spirit. For those with toddlers and preschoolers … or even those with infants and babies on the way: Below are my son Ryder’s favorite books as a toddler and during his preschool years (ages 2-5).  These may be a little boy-centric … and reading is such a personal thing even for little ones that yours will probably vary.  Regardless, here’s a good start to our favorite children’s books:

Here’s a look at my son’s top 10 favorite books in his toddler and preschool years (in no particular order):

  1. Tiger Tiger. It’s a colorful book for the kids … and a fun one for parents to read – allowing us to dramatize and make the book our own production.
  2. Wings, Horns and Things. Not only is about almost any little boy’s favorite topic – Dinosaurs – but it helpfully spells out the pronunciation of all those crazy dinosaur names. I read this so much with my son that he was saying Compsognathus at three.
  3. Barn Dance. If you don’t mind trying out a little singing with your reading, your child will love this book.  Other than that, I can’t quite figure out why my son loved this so much.  It’s one of those.
  4. Slinky Malinki. There’s something about a poetic children’s read … and my son loved the silly things this troublemaker cat dragged home.
  5. Good Night Moon. A classic and easily available at every major retailer and most baby stores.  It’s a fun, simple read – and must have the just the perfect amount of colors and items on each page for little minds to enjoy.
  6. Over in the Garden. It’s a lyrical read for parents – and there’s the added fun of trying to find the hidden number on each page.
  7. Curious George. This catalog of Curious George stories was always a joy.  My son took almost more time trying to figure out which story he wanted to read than we did reading the actual story.
  8. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? This is a delightful, delightful story … the humor of docile dinosaur going to bed is fun for mom.
  9. Courage of the Blue Boy. This tale is a colorful adventure and my son loved it.
  10. Did I Ever Tell You How Luck You Are? I knew a Dr. Seuss book would end up in our top 10 … and I was a little surprised this was it. Though after reading it a million times, I’m glad it was this … each page has an ridiculous adventure and story of its own and even I didn’t get sick of reading it.

And since top 10 isn’t enough … I added in my personal favorite: Skippyjon Jones … and here’s a perfect excerpt to show/explain why it’s the best:

My name is Skippito Friskito.
I fear not a single bandito.
My manners are mellow,
I’m sweet like the Jell-O,
I get the job done, yes indeed-o.

Find any of these books on Books for Her, Top 10 Children’s Books for Toddlers-Preschoolers

We’d love to add some your children’s favorites to the list too – so please leave a comment and we’ll compile to post another top list.

Tell us: What books would you add to this list of favorite toddler/preschool books to read:

We love children’s books too!

If you’re a reader and a mother, like us here at Books for Her, you are probably working to turn your kids into readers as well.

If you have thoughts on the top books for kids, including classics of course, but especially anything new, we want to hear them!  We would like to post lists of top books for kids.

In the meantime, check out these fun children’s classics as modern minimalist posters.

Oyster Book App: What do you think?

We’ve been overwhelmingly excited about the book app Oyster (now on Android/Kindle too – see our review). Are we alone? We’d love your thoughts.oyster_activity

Can you tell us:

  • Is your favorite genre represented?
  • Do you see any holes or lacking material?
  • Is it easy enough to use?
  • What’s your biggest complaint?

My favorite reading is usually historical romance – of which I found a plethora of options and have 50 books waiting in the queue – but there’s also so many other options that I find myself testing new genres that I never would have before.  I’m reading Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson because I think he was a fascinating man. I’ve added The Bronze Horseman Series, which Books for Her/ Erin just reviewed. My 8-year-old son (and avid reader of Captain Underpants and Big Nate) read several Phineas and Ferb books on vacation recently. I’ve even added some professional reads from the ‘Business Essentials’ category (How to Win Friends & Influence People and What Would Google Do?).

Please share your thoughts here, on our Facebook page, Twitter page, or contact us at

Happy reading!