The best books for historical action...and some occasional kissing

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the son of a pacifist poet and a Marine veteran of Vietnam. Perhaps because of this contradiction, I’ve been unable to find any occupation satisfying outside of writing. I spent my formative years with imaginary friends I met in libraries. My love of faraway places, romance, and war continues to this day. I write stories of strangers meeting under bleak conditions and finding the strength in each other to win the day.


I wrote...

The Beekeeper's Bullet

By Lance Hawvermale,

Book cover of The Beekeeper's Bullet

What is my book about?

Ellenor Jantz lives in rural Germany in 1917, the Great War raging only a few miles from where she works as a beekeeper for a wealthy loyalist. When a British airman crashes behind enemy lines, Ellenor must choose between aiding him or handing him over to the German authorities.

Alec Corbin-Dawes, Royal Flying Corps, is the injured pilot who finds himself at Ellenor’s mercy. Against her better judgment, Ellenor hides Alec from the Germans and agrees to help him steal a plane so he can resume his journey. On the night of the theft, Ellenor’s only hope for survival is to leap into the biplane’s observer seat and take to the sky...

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Shadow of the Wind

Lance Hawvermale Why did I love this book?

I have always loved libraries. This novel takes place in 1940s Barcelona, a place of danger, romance, and memories that linger like ghosts. There’s a hidden library, a lost author, and a touch of romance, all set during the dangerous aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. What more could I want?

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Shadow of the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller

"The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero." -Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)

"One gorgeous read." -Stephen King

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been…


Book cover of Enigma

Lance Hawvermale Why did I love this book?

Related to my love of libraries is my adoration for codes and puzzles and secretive things. This novel is a fictionalized account of World War II codebreakers who race against the clock to break an unbreakable Nazi cipher. The hero’s life is complicated by the arrival of a beautiful MI5 officer...

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Enigma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1943, and a team of cryptanalysts led by Tom Jericho have broken the Enigma code of Hitler's U-boats. But inside the code-breaking centre, a woman disappears and authorities suspect the presence of a traitor, it is only when Jericho himself falls under suspicion that he must unmask the spy.


Book cover of Eye of the Needle

Lance Hawvermale Why did I love this book?

Sometimes romance is even more romantic when it’s tragic. Another story set against real events of WWII, this story is a classic cat-and-mouse that attributes the outcome of the war to a single, accidental event: love. Well-researched and brilliantly describe, this is a setting that cleverly weaves the fictional with the real.

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Eye of the Needle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The worldwide phenomenon from the bestselling author of The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, A Column of Fire, and The Evening and the Morning

His code name was "The Needle." He was a German aristocrat of extraordinary intelligence-a master spy with a legacy of violence in his blood, and the object of the most desperate manhunt in history. . . .

But his fate lay in the hands of a young and vulnerable English woman, whose loyalty, if swayed, would assure his freedom-and win the war for the Nazis. . . .


Book cover of The Venice Sketchbook

Lance Hawvermale Why did I love this book?

If you like intrigue, then welcome to Venice in 1938. This novel features a likable heroine in search of the solution to a mystery contained in a sketchbook. It’s full of art—both real and metaphorical. Set against the backdrop of impending war, this one is full of courage and heart.

By Rhys Bowen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Venice Sketchbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Rhys Bowen crafts a propulsive, unexpected plot with characters who come vibrantly alive on the page." -Mark Sullivan, author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.

Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper...Venice. Caroline's quest: to scatter Juliet "Lettie" Browning's ashes in the…


Book cover of This Is How You Lose the Time War

Lance Hawvermale Why did I love this book?

Almost defying description, this novella is both historical and science fiction. Written as a series of back-and-forth letters between two people falling in love from afar, it explores the themes of conflict, control, and hopeful defiance. It never explains itself, but invites the reader to realize that love is more powerful than war. It is beautifully written and surprisingly unique.

By Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked This Is How You Lose the Time War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF The Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella, the Reddit Stabby Award for Best Novella AND The British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novella

SHORTLISTED FOR
2020 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award
The Ray Bradbury Prize
Kitschies Red Tentacle Award
Kitschies Inky Tentacle
Brave New Words Award

'A fireworks display from two very talented storytellers' Madeline Miller, author of Circe

Co-written by two award-winning writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It…


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Ferry to Cooperation Island

By Carol Newman Cronin,

Book cover of Ferry to Cooperation Island

Carol Newman Cronin Author Of Ferry to Cooperation Island

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Sailor Olympian Editor New Englander Rum drinker

Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

James Malloy is a ferry captain--or used to be, until he was unceremoniously fired and replaced by a "girl" named Courtney Farris. Now, instead of piloting Brenton Island’s daily lifeline to the glitzy docks of Newport, Rhode Island, James spends his days beached, bitter, and bored.

When he discovers a plan for a private golf course on wilderness sacred to his dying best friend, James is determined to stop such "improvements." But despite Brenton's nickname as "Cooperation Island," he's used to working solo. To keep historic trees and ocean shoreline open to all, he'll have to learn to cooperate with other islanders--including Captain Courtney, who might just morph from irritant to irresistible once James learns a secret that's been kept from him for years.

Ferry to Cooperation Island

By Carol Newman Cronin,

What is this book about?

Loner James Malloy is a ferry captain-or used to be, until he was unceremoniously fired and replaced by a girl named Courtney Farris. Now, instead of piloting Brenton Island's daily lifeline to the glitzy docks of Newport, Rhode Island, James spends his days beached, bitter, and bored.

When he discovers a private golf course staked out across wilderness sacred to his dying best friend, a Narragansett Indian, James is determined to stop such "improvements." But despite Brenton's nickname as "Cooperation Island," he's used to working solo. To keep rocky bluffs, historic trees, and ocean shoreline open to all, he'll have…


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Interested in the Spanish Civil War, time travel, and war?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Spanish Civil War, time travel, and war.

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