I’m so excited that fall is here! It’s the perfect weather to get cozy with a new book and your favorite soft blanket. This month, I have two recommendations for you of books you will not be able to put down once you start reading.

The first one is Under the Java Moon by Heather B. Moore. The book is set during WWII and based on a true story about a young Dutch family who is caught in the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. In all the books I’ve ever read that are set during WWII, none of them took place in the Dutch East Indies. I had no idea the things that the Dutch and Indonesian people went through during that time period, but Ms. Moore uses her talents to really bring the era to life and pulls the reader in from the very first page.

The story is told from three perspectives—George Vischer, his wife Mary, and his daughter Rita. The author is able to give each character a compelling personality that comes through on the page. Readers will feel as if they are close friends of the Vischer family, which makes what happens to them so gripping. When George is sent off with the navy to fight the war and the minesweeper he’s on is torpedoed, his survival experience is juxtaposed with what is happening to Mary and their children as they are relocated to an internment camp. Ms. Moore expertly shows the heartache and misery of war without any graphic descriptions, while also highlighting the unexpected instances of compassion. At the beginning of each chapter a quote from a survivor of the internment camps is included, which gives extra context to what the Dutch families were facing, including the Vischer family. Though this story is heart-wrenching, there are beautiful moments of light and hope throughout as this family meets their hardship with courage and determination. This inspiring account will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page, a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of love. A can’t-miss book for anyone who loves historical fiction.

Under the Java Moon, published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, 384 pages, available in ebook, hardcover, and audio.  

My second recommendation is The Queen and the Knave by Sarah M. Eden. This is the fifth and final installment of her Dread Penny Society Proper Romance novels and Ms. Eden expertly brings all the threads she’s been building in the first four books to a satisfying end in this Victorian mystery romance.

In The Queen and the Knave, Moirin Donnelley is trying to keep all of the people she loves that are part of the Dread Penny Society safe—but they are disappearing one by one. She turns to a constable that she trusts, Fitzgerald Parkington, and they both are drawn into the web of the self-proclaimed “Tempest” and their deadly plans for everyone in the Dread Penny Society—including Moirin. Danger is around every corner with lives are on the line and readers will be on the edge of their seat to see who survives the Tempest.

This is a fast-paced tale combining adventure and romance along with two “penny dreadful” stories in the middle of it all. (And the publisher recently put out a collection of all of the penny dreadful stories from the series and includes three never-before-seen stories.) The Queen and the Knave features locations all throughout London and the details and descriptions will have the reader feeling as if they are right there with the characters. Moirin is a complicated heroine, but her need to save those she loves is so admirable and in line with what we’ve come to know about her. Fitz or “Parky” is one of those heroes that readers will sigh over as he does his best to do what’s right, all while hiding his own pain from his past. Their slow burn romance and moments of light-heartedness are sweet and their connection is so easy, yet their circumstances make it complicated. This is a bit of an ensemble book as well, since characters from each of the previous books in the series appear in this final story as it leads to the exciting conclusion. I love the full-circle feel at the end of this book, and this whole series is definitely going to have a place on my keeper shelf. Be sure to block out enough time to read because once you start this book, you won’t want to stop!

The Queen and the Knave, by Sarah M. Eden, published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, 368 pages, available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.

After winning $10 in a second-grade writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. That dream came true and she is now an award-winning author of thirty books. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie.