#BooksMakeGreatGifts – consider these WFWA-authored novels for your holiday shopping

Couldn’t agree more that #BooksMakeGreatGifts.

Are you looking for that perfect holiday read for that special bookworm in your life?

Look no further. I’ve never gone wrong reading novels by Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) authors. Here are the WFWA author novels I’ve read in in 2023, alongside my reviews, here below.

In 2023, I read ten novels by fellow WFWA authors – and I can highly recommend each and every one of them.

My WFWA reading year took me to seventeenth century France and raging religious battles between the majority Catholics and minority Huguenots. Next I traveled to contemporary Canada alongside a stressed wife trying to balance career demands and her marriage. Next it was back in time to 16th century France, where young Epi has to escape and outwit the evil Bread Guild. Following that, I read a contemporary anthology by various authors on different aspects of motherhood.

2023 WFWA Reads

I then boarded a plane once more and flew off to Poland, with a recent couple moving to beautiful Krakow for his work – just as panic over Y2K is setting in. A compelling mystery/thriller dripping with atmosphere ensues. Afterwards, I was back in contemporary Connecticut as a recent widow and empty nester struggles to pick up the pieces of her life – and to save her bookstore. The ghost of her husband returns to help her – or is that his real intention? Then I hopped up to New York City where a librarian falls for a handsome man who is trying to destroy the community garden at the heart of her community.

Following this, I traveled to Cambodia for a dual timeline novel, exploring the atrocities during Pol Pot’s agrarian revolution, and the horrors uncovered by a young lawyer who works in Cambodia in the early 1990s. Next, I continued on to Australia during WWII as young men are eager to head off for “adventure” while their parents struggle to believe the world is sucked into war once again. This was a poignant, beautifully written story. And finally, I returned once more to contemporary New York, where a young lawyer meets the perfect man while posing as an artist to uncover fraud. The only catch is that the perfect guy loves artists and hates lawyers. What’s a girl to do?

Fun, romantic, informative, heartwarming, tragic – my WFWA reads ran the gamut of emotions. There’s something here to satisfy every reading taste. Pick up one (or all) of these novels for your holiday shopping!

Full reviews below.

Daughter of the Shadows
Daughter of The shadows cover

Kerry Chaput

A fast-paced historical action and adventure tale, sprinkled with romance – this novel has it all.

I enjoyed Daughter of The King, the first novel in this series. I loved the world building as we followed Isabelle from her persecution as a Huguenot in seventeenth century France through her journey to New France (Canada) as a “Fille du roi” – and the fascinating tale of the women who were sent to marry and help populate the French colony.

This second novel picks up with Isabelle’s life three years later. This is a very different novel, much more focused on action and adventure. While not my usual genre, it was still a fun ride.

I enjoyed watching Isabelle gain skills and strength from her friend, Naira, a fierce Huron warrior. Isabelle is able to internalize this strength in supporting the French Huguenots attempting to escape France. This objective takes her on a journey back to France, where she allies with like-minded Huguenots. Highly recommend this fast-paced adventure tale.

Thank you to the publisher for my advanced reader’s copy – all thoughts are my own.

The BirdcageThe Bird Cage cover

Krista Lynne White

Matt and Jillian know they are lucky. They’re a young, Canadian suburban two-career couple, with two young daughters. Matt teaches at the local elementary school, and Jillian, after having stayed at home since the girls were born, is getting her feet wet back in the workforce – having landed an executive position at a local manufacturing company.

But all is not as perfect as it appears on the surface. Matt is finding it hard to adjust to his wife’s long work hours and his increased role at home after his own tiring work day. And he fears Jillian’s distance might reflect her preference for her more glamorous colleagues. At the same time, Jillian suffers guilt at not having enough time for her family and she’s having a hard time navigating workplace landmines. It doesn’t help that her husband no longer seems interested.

This novella is told in alternating perspectives, with both Matt and Jillian recounting their fears, insecurities and missed opportunities to communicate with one another. This is an enjoyable, realistic and easy-to-read story of the inner life of a seemingly idyllic couple.


Tales of The MistressTales of the Mistress cover

Dorette Snover

This imaginative and descriptive debut novel follows the adventure of Epi Gerroux in sixteenth century Languedoc, France.

As a young girl, Epi suffers from the disappearance (death?) of her mother, Antaia, a bread baker, enemy of the Bread Guild and member of the secret agrarian society, Psomi. Knowing her daughter will be left to fend for herself, Antaia urges her daughter to disguise herself as a boy to continue work as a baking apprentice. This is how Epi lives, in solitude, for many years – baking the bread that will go to the French nobility and ensuring she steers as far as possible from the Guild.

But when Epi learns the Guild wants to charge her in her mother’s alleged murder, she departs on a long journey through Languedoc and beyond, where she pieces together her past and the mysterious disappearance of her beloved mother, discovers unexpected family ties and, most importantly, begins the voyage of internal discovery and her search for her place in the world.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


A Million WaysA Million Ways cover

Various WFWA authors, Anthology

I love short stories, and so I greatly enjoyed this collection centered around the theme of motherhood. Since this is an anthology, the collection was a nice mix of writing styles and stories with varying geographical settings and a wide age range – but all touching upon the joys, tribulations and complexities of motherhood.

One young woman miscalculates the difficulties involved in becoming a stepmother to her new husband’s two children, and the pain she’ll experience being on the receiving end of the ex’s animosity. A young mother grapples with her cancer diagnosis and treatments – all while praying she’ll have the privilege of watching her young son grow up. A young girl from a poor, rural hillbilly family channels her mother’s support and pride to aim for seemingly impossible goals.

These and the other engaging stories in this collection are a beautiful tribute to motherhood.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


Little FolliesLittle Follies cover

Carolyn Korsmeyer

I loved this multi-character novel set in the heart of historic Krakow, Poland in the last months of the twentieth century. As 1999 winds down and the world awaits the onslaught of the Y2K virus that will wreak havoc on the planet (an earlier version of “Trust The Experts”), Adam and Joan set off for the charming Polish city.

At his American university, Adam has discovered tantalizing hints about new source documents he hopes might shed light on Polish military leader and engineer Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a hero of the American Revolutionary War. Adam has recently met Joan. Despite their fledgling relationship, she decides to follow him to Europe. As Adam burrows into a Polish archive researching documents of a travel companion of Kosciuszko, Joan explores the ancient and mysterious city as it emerges from its hibernation under the Iron Curtain. Joan meets a quirky cast of characters and unwittingly becomes a front row observer to an intricate art heist, thereby putting herself in danger.

This was an absolutely beautifully written novel, filled with a mélange of odd characters, quick flowing dialogue and luscious descriptions. As someone who lived in a neighboring country in the early nineties, Korsmeyer gets the eclectic post-Wall atmosphere and mash-up of foreigners coming to live in eastern Europe pitch-perfect. I loved the multiple points of view, the knowledge of art and historical research and the tantalizing religious and philosophical themes contained within this quickly-paced novel.

An absolute delight. Highly recommended.


A Beginner’s Guide To Starting OverA Beginner's Guilde to Starting Over cover

Gabi Coatsworth

I enjoyed Coatsworth’s earlier memoir and was excited to see she was releasing her first novel.

This was a fun, fast read centered around a New England smalltown bookstore focused on taking chances and starting over.

With her two daughters off at college, Molly is a recent empty-nester. She has been somewhat adrift since the sudden, unexpected loss of her husband three years earlier. Buying the independent bookshop in which she worked and trying to make it successful has helped her gain control of her life, but when the landlord insists on a steep rent increase, Molly fears her dreams may be short-lived. Meanwhile, her friends are pestering her to begin dating again, and her forays into online dating are another source of stress. Add to the mix the ghost of her dead husband, who says he’s there to “help her” find new love.

This makes for a fun novel, with an enjoyable cast of characters and thoughtful reflections on what it entails to lead a happy, fulfilled life when things don’t turn out as expected. Highly recommend this novel.


My Book BoyfriendMy Book Boyfriend cover

Kathy Strobos

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Kathy Strobos’ novels, and was pleasantly surprised to learn she has her newest out this month. My Book Boyfriend was a fun romance/women’s fiction novel, set in New York City, with great characters and snappy dialogue.

Lily is a New York librarian who is passionate about her job, reading, and making a difference in her community. This community focus follows her post-work, as she works to build a community garden that brings young and old together and offers cultural activities for local families.

Unfortunately, the future of the community garden is at risk, and Rupert is set to bulldoze the unofficial community garden to complete his newest building project for the family firm. After all, his grandfather, who detests any sign of weakness, hasn’t yet named him CEO. And this project can make or break him.

Lily has been spectacularly unlucky in love and Rupert is handsome, smart and loves reading, but is this nascent love story destined to fail as Lily and Rupert square up to fight one another? You’ll enjoy this fast-paced, feel-good story.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The Foreigner’s ConfessionThe Foreigners's Confession cover

Lya Badgely

This was an impressive and ambitious novel from a writer who based her story on research she carried out in Cambodia documenting the atrocities of Pol Pot and the agrarian revolution he led.

The tale is told in two timelines. American attorney Emily moves to Cambodia in the early 1990s, as Khmer Rouge power begins to wane. A horrific accident has left her an amputee, but the deepest scars are internal. She hopes helping Cambodian amputees will help restore a sense of purpose to her life, but she quickly grasps how little she understands about the history of her new country and her inability to recognize the internal wounds many of the locals choose to keep hidden. A portrait resembling her at the former prison turned Genocide Museum leads her to delve more deeply into Cambodia’s recent past.

In 1970, Milijana is a young Serb who met her husband, a Cambodian, in Paris. Caught up in the communist ideology fashionable at the universities at the time, Milijana attends the Sorbonne, alongside a young Pol Pot. Milijana’s activism converts her into a communist revolutionary, welcoming Cambodia’s agrarian revolution as a chance to rebuild a more just society. Now married and a young mother, Milijana urges her reluctant husband to return to his homeland to take part in the glorious, new society. But Milijana quickly – and tragically – learns that political philosophy on paper and radical political movements in practice have little in common. In diaries we learn the heartbreaking fate that befalls Milijana and her family.

Badgely does a masterful job of weaving these dual timeline stories together and bringing the locales to life on the page. A gripping story of a complicated period of Cambodian history, told through the alternating perspectives of two strong women.


The Bravest SoldiersThe Bravest Soldiers cover

Elaine Schroller

I adored this novel. I read Schroller’s début, Dare Not Tell, and was looking forward to this sequel to her The Immense Sky Saga. While the first novel was set in Europe during WWI and the lead-up to WWII, this novel takes place in Australia during WWII.

I loved the couple at the heart of the first novel, Australian soldier Joe and American-British nurse Sophie. In this sequel, I was pleased to pick up on their lives, years later, as they are living in Sydney, Australia, contemplating the outbreak of another World War, and confronting the enthusiasm of their own sons to join the war effort.

The Australian setting and attention to details of the Pacific campaign and the women and families left behind on the homefront set this novel apart from many WWII novels. I loved how Schroller worked in details of lives suspended in Australia as sons, husbands and lovers are away at war. This novel introduces a new generation of characters and the story weaves in Australia’s wartime rations, victory gardens, animosity towards Japanese-Australians and the devastation of children left war orphans, masterfully told alongside epistolary narration of Pacific war efforts.

This was a fully engaging wartime story that placed me alongside the unsung heroes of the war – the wives, mothers and fiancées who shouldered the courage needed to confront daily life and to assist the war efforts, while longing for its end and the return of the soldiers. A poignant, beautifully written story with engaging characters and rich details, The Bravest Soldiers is a must-read novel – can’t wait for the next installment!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


Love is An ArtLove Is An Art cover

Kathy Strobos

I’ve read all of Strobos’ novels, and I was pleased to discover her newest release, a fast-paced women’s fiction/romance read.

Tessa is an ambitious, New York corporate lawyer, reeling from a painful break-up and certain she’ll never meet the right guy. When her artist apartment-mate needs help unmasking a possible art scammer who is preying on struggling artists, Tessa offers her help posing as a gullible artist/possible target at an art opening. She certainly isn’t expecting to meet handsome, successful Zeke. Maybe she’s been too hasty writing off all men?

There’s definite chemistry between Tessa and Zeke, but Tessa can’t let her friend down and drop her cover. And Zeke’s’ just come off a disastrous relationship with a lawyer – and vowed to never make the same mistake twice. How long can a decidedly artistically-challenged Tessa get away with impersonating an artist? And can love destined to last be constructed on lies?

This story is told through the alternating perspectives of Tessa and Zeke, and it was a fun, romantic read that also tackles the pressures of career women caught up in competitive office politics, not even certain if they’re fighting for what they truly want. A fun, romantic and fast-paced read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


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