2013 Armchair BEA: Genre Fiction and a Giveaway


May 29, 2013

Tomorrow is the big giveaway day for The Armchair BEA, but I’m posting a giveaway early today on this post because it fits in with the theme of genre fiction – please check it out at the bottom of this post!!!

Today’s topic for The 2013 Armchair BEA is genre fiction. What is genre fiction? Genre fiction is also known as “popular” fiction and is typically plot-driven (although this is not to say there are not spectacular characters in genre fiction!). Genre fiction includes:

  • Fantasy
  • Historical Fiction
  • Suspense-Thriller
  • Horror
  • Science Fiction
  • Short Story
  • Mystery
  • Humor
  • Women’s Fiction

Although my first choice in reading is usually literary fiction (visit me tomorrow to read more about that), I also enjoy well-written genre fiction which also sometimes overlaps into the Literary definition. Today I want to talk about four different genres which I love, with recommendations in each category.

Historical Fiction

In historical fiction, the setting is usually real and drawn from history. Although the main characters are usually fictional, these books often contain real historical persons.

I love historical fiction because it is a great way to learn about historical events without reading “dry” textbooks. Some of my favorite historical fiction writers are: Khaled Hosseini, Mitchell James Kaplan, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Amitav Ghosh, Kathleen Kent, Irene Nemirovsky, and Rose Tremain.

I’m giving away a debut novel in the historical fiction genre today – go to the bottom of this post to enter!!!!

Are you new to this genre? Want some recommendations for great historical fiction? Try any of these:

ThousandSplendidSuns MountainsEchoed halfyellowsun seaofpoppies

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (read my review)
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (read my review)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (read my review)
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (read my review)

ByFireByWater hereticsdaughter SuiteFrancaise colour

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan (read my review)
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent (read my review)
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (read my review)
The Colour by Rose Tremain (read my review)

What works of historical fiction have you read and loved?


There is nothing better than being scared out of one’s wits by a deftly written suspense-thriller novel. I admit, this is a genre which I have loved ever since my teens when I first started reading Stephen King (who is actually more in the horror genre, but his work is certainly suspenseful!). Suspense-thrillers make your palms sweat and your heart race, they usually include a twisting plot and a heroine or hero whose life is in peril. Some of my favorite writers in this genre include: Kate Morton (who writes gothic suspense-thrillers), Emily St. John Mandel, Laura Lippman, Benjamin Black, and John Hart (the king of Southern suspense).

Are you new to this genre? Want some recommendations for great suspense-thrillers? Try any of these:

christinefalls DistantHours lastnightmontreal whatthedeadknow downriver

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (read my review)
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (read my review)
Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel (read my review)
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (read my review)
Down River by John Hart (read my review)

What suspense-thrillers have you read and loved?

Women’s Fiction

Women’s Fiction has been the focus of a lot of negative attention over the last couple of years with authors writing in this genre complaining that their work is demeaned with the label “chick lit.” For me, Women’s Fiction is comfort reading. It is also usually highly emotional or meaningful literature, and many times there is a level of humor which lightens the plot. The works I have loved the most in this genre have memorable characters who have touched my heart. My favorite writers in Women’s Fiction include: Elizabeth Berg, Eleanor Brown, Katherine Center, Allie Larkin, Anna Quindlen, Cathleen Schine, Anne Tyler,  and Marisa de los Santos.

Are you new to this genre? Want some recommendations for great Women’s Fiction? Try any of these:

yearofpleasures WeirdSisters brightside Stay

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg (read my review)
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (read my review)
The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center (read my review)
Stay by Allie Larkin (read my review)

EveryLastOne ThreeWeissmanns.PicadorCover DinnerHomesickRestaurant belongtome1

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (read my review)
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine (read my review)
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (read my review)
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos (read my review)

What works of Women’s Fiction have you read and loved?

Short Story

Short stories have always been a genre I have loved. The short story is a difficult format to nail and so when I find an author who sweeps me away in just a few pages, I am hooked. Some of my favorite short story writers include: Megan Mayhew Bergman, Catherine Brady, Stephen King, Jhumpa Lahiri, Bruce Machart, Christopher Meeks, and Simon Van Booy.

Are you new to this genre? Want some recommendations for great short story collections? Try any of these:

BirdsofaLesserParadise mechanicsoffalling NightShift  unaccustomedearth

Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman (read my review)
The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories by Catherine Brady (read my review)
Night Shift by Stephen King
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (read my review)

MenInMaking Months and Seasons lovebeginsinwinter

Men in the Making by Bruce Machart (read my review)
Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks (read my review)
Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy (read my review)

What collections of Short Fiction have you read and loved?


Win a copy of BURIAL RITES

Burial Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, September 2013

Thanks to the publisher, I am thrilled to be able to offer a copy of Hannah Kent’s first novel, a work of historical fiction, to one lucky reader. As soon as I read the description of this book, I knew I needed to get myself a copy to read…and I hope you are as excited about this novel as I am.

*Book giveaways here on Caribousmom are NOT paid promos. Although books for giveaway have been supplied by the publisher, I do not accept payment to host these special events.


Burial Rites is inspired by a true story of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. When Agnes is charged with the brutal murder of her former master, she is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. At first the family who is tasked with housing her, avoids Agnes. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. Described as “riveting and rich with lyricism,” Burial Rites promises toevoke a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and ask the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?” This debut novel is getting glowing early reviews which describe it as gripping, original, and haunting.


Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she traveled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnusdottir. Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. Burial Rites is her first novel. Learn more about Kent and her work by visiting the author’s website.


  • Contest is open from May 29th through June 3rd at 5:00 pm (PST)
  • Contest is open to US mailing addresses.
  • I will draw ONE winner randomly using Random.org and announce their name here on my blog sometime after the close of the contest.
  • To enter: Click here to take survey

Good Luck!

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Skip to comment form

    • Mari on May 29, 2013 at 07:13

    Thanks for the description of genre fiction. Seems I didn’t quite understand the difference. 🙂 Anyway, love the books you shared.

    • laurie blum on May 29, 2013 at 07:20

    I appreciate your excellent suggestions & reviews of genre fiction – may all time favorite!

  1. I love suspense thrillers, too, and Laura Lippman made my list. As for Women’s Fiction, you named several of my favorites: Elizabeth Berg, Anna Quindlen, Anne Tyler, and Katherine Center. I didn’t name them all on my post….

    I don’t read a lot of short story collections, but I did read a couple of collections by Elizabeth Berg.


  2. My genre post is so short in comparison! I do love your post here – and I’m a big fan of all the genres you listed. Short stories are my book candy – I’ve started fitting them in when I’m too indecisive to decide what to read, that way I’m not wasting valuable reading time 🙂

    • Athira on May 29, 2013 at 13:56

    This year, I’ve been reading more genre fiction, especially thrillers. It feels nice to read something constantly engaging when I get very little time to read.

    • Ems on May 29, 2013 at 16:40

    I’ve been reading a lot more romantic suspense this year. I usually stick to YA, but I’ve been branching out into adult and loving it.

    • katy on May 29, 2013 at 19:36

    Awesome post, lots of interesting recs! I’m going to bookmark this post for recs! I like any genre, any stories that seem interesting to me!

    my Armchair BEA day 2 post

  3. I love historical fiction, too, but I definitely agree with the previous commenter that I’m going to have to bookmark this – there are so many I haven’t read yet!

  4. What a great list of genre fiction! I’m a big fan of suspense / thrillers. I personally love Chelsea Cain and really enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I love historical fiction too. You’ve listed a lot of books I want to read, but haven’t had the chance.

  5. I really love historical fiction! I love your picks for the various genres!

  6. Wonderful list! I like historical fiction and suspense too! Hosseni’s TSS is among my favorite books too.

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