What Penelope Douglas Reads and Recommends

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I’m excited to share with you an exclusive interview with Penelope Douglas, a bestselling author of new adult and romantic suspense novels. Penelope is the creator of the popular Fall Away Series, the Devil’s Night Series, and the Hellbent Series, among others.

In this interview, we discuss Penelope’s reading life, their favorite books to read and recommend, and their first book memory. 

If you’re a Penelope Douglas fan or looking for some new romance books to add to your TBR, you won’t want to miss this interview. Read on to learn more about this talented author and her amazing books. 📚

Penelope Douglas’ Bio

After about eight years of teaching elementary school, I started to feel like I was living the same day over and over again. While I loved the students, teaching wasn’t my calling. So in my despair, I started reading again to escape, and after a while, my imagination started flourishing. I got the idea for Bully, and I finally started writing books when I was about thirty-five years old. I wish I’d started earlier because I think I’ll be dead before I write everything I want to write, but I’m grateful I found my way at all. Lots of people never do. 

Someday, I’d love to write an epic story set on another planet. Dark and violent but heroic and full of women who are just as much warriors as the men. And, of course, it will have some romance because love is the only reason to do anything.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I love to decorate my world. I’m all about aesthetics and setting the mood. I like candles and YouTube ambiance videos and making each room in my house its own world.

About Penelope Douglas’ Latest Release

Fall Boys by Penelope Douglas

Fall Boys Synopsis

The HELLBENT Series, a spin-off to the Fall Away series, is coming!

“The kids are growing up—different from their parents but the same in so many ways…”


Hawken Trent. So polite. So sweet. Such an upstanding young man.

A virgin, too, I hear. He never gets naughty with a girl. Probably because Jesus told him not to.

And now here he is, trying to be the hero by protecting another girl from me.

He calls me a bully. Irrational. Unreasonable. A criminal. He can call me anything he wants, I’ve heard worse.

And he can try to stand between me and my money, but he’s never had to fight for food. That rich, clean, school boy doesn’t have what it takes.


I surprised her. You should’ve seen her face.

Just because I don’t have a record, honey, doesn’t mean I’m clean. It just means I’m better at not getting caught.

That is until I realize I might’ve actually gone too far this time.

She’s there. I’m there. The scene of the crime.

It’s dark. The police show up.

We have no choice. We run. Down High Street, into Quinn’s bake shop, and I pull her through the entrance to the old speakeasy that everyone forgot was here decades ago.

The door locks, the cops circle the building, never knowing we’re right here, and I’m hidden in plain sight, indefinitely, with someone’s who’s awful.

Mean. Rough. Dirty.

A thief. A delinquent.

Until one night, lost in all of these rooms together, I don’t see any of those things anymore.

She’s smart. Daring. Soft.


Everything’s changing. It’s this place. It does something to people.

We have a silly urban legend in Shelburne Falls about mirrors. They’re a gateway. Don’t lean back into them.

But we came through front first.

I don’t care what the county records say. This was never a speakeasy.

It’s Carnival Tower.

Read Fall Boys If You Want:

He’s a former class president (and a virgin), and she’s a teenage criminal. They have to hide-out together after committing a crime.

About Penelope Douglas Reading Life

What types of books do you read? Do they influence your writing, and if so, in what way?

I like almost all kinds of books–biographies, YA, non-fiction. I do enjoy a background romance in stories I read, but I rarely ever read in the romance genre anymore. Since I write it all day, I like something different in my downtime. I think exposing myself to different writers has definitely helped my character development and world building!

What medium do you prefer to read?


About your reading life, what was your first book memory?

The first book memory where I was actually captivated was discovering Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey in my mom’s dresser drawer when I was fifteen. I was putting away laundry, and it had one of the old, sexy covers. Muscled men and women in the throws of passion. It was winter break. I had nothing else to do, so I sat down and started reading. And I proceeded to read five more bodice rippers over break. 😉 I’d finally found a means of transporting myself away from unhappiness. Thank you, Johanna Lindsey.

Do you re-read books? If yes, what was the last book you re-read?

Very rarely, but I love the Nevermore Trilogy by Kelly Creagh.

Favorite place to read: 

In bed.

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Why does Penelope love this book? 

The Night Circus–it’s my top read. Ever. I was desperate for someone to share in my love of the book as I read it, but I didn’t dare go to Goodreads until I finished. I didn’t want anyone giving me a reason not to love it. I found that a truly great book puts you in a world you never want to leave. To me, it’s almost as important as the plot. Almost 😉 I still want to go to The Night Circus.


by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who through a strangely unorthodox experiment creates a grotesque yet sentient being. Victor, repulsed by the thing that he has created, abandons the monster. The creature in turn saddened by this rejection, departs as well. What follows is a series of tragic events. There is no greater novel in the monster genre than “Frankenstein” and no more well known monster than the one that is at the center of this novel. However, the monster of “Frankenstein” is more than the common lumbering moronic giant that is most often represented. Frankenstein’s monster is in reality a thinking intelligent being who is tormented by a world in which he does not belong. In this depiction Shelley draws upon the universal human themes of creation, the nature of existence, and the need for acceptance. For it is without this acceptance that the true monster, the violent nature of humanity, emerges. This edition includes introductions by Sir Walter Scott and Mary Shelley, and a biographical afterword.

Why does Penelope love this book? 

 I read this in college and still have my paperback with all of my notes in the margins. It was the first time I realized that books can make you reflect. I’d read mostly romance by that point, and it’s not that they don’t make you think, but the ones I read were mostly for entertainment and escape. With Frankenstein, I understood that literature could be discussed and debated. And so can romance. 


by Kelly Creagh

A page-turning psychological mystery that is equal parts horror, humor, and romance, Nevermore is the story of Varen—a Poe fan and Goth—and Isobel—a cheerleader and unlikely heroine. When an English Lit. project pairs the two, Isobel finds herself swept into Varen’s world, one that he has created in his notebook and in his mind, one where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel slowly learns that dreams and words can be much more powerful than she’d ever imagined. As labels of “Goth” and “cheerleader” fade away, Isobel and Varen slip into a consuming romance, braced against the ever-clearer horror that the most chilling realities are those within our own minds. When Isobel has a single chance to rescue Varen from the shadows of his nightmares, will she be able to save him—and herself?

Why does Penelope love this book? 

I love this one because it’s a high school story. A Goth boy and a cheerleader are paired up on a school project together. It’s a common formula, but the author’s an expert on Edgar Allen Poe, and when you hit about the sixty percent mark, the entire world shifts, and the heroine has to start becoming a hero. And I say that meaning we look at heroines in a book as simply the female main character, but in this story, she has to save him. She’s his knight, his champion… She spends the next two books after this one putting herself in danger to find him

Starry Messenger

by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Bringing his cosmic perspective to civilization on Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson shines new light on the crucial fault lines of our time—war, politics, religion, truth, beauty, gender, and race—in a way that stimulates a deeper sense of unity for us all.

In a time when our political and cultural views feel more polarized than ever, Tyson provides a much-needed antidote to so much of what divides us, while making a passionate case for the twin chariots of enlightenment—a cosmic perspective and the rationality of science.

After thinking deeply about how science sees the world and about Earth as a planet, the human brain has the capacity to reset and recalibrates life’s priorities, shaping the actions we might take in response. No outlook on culture, society, or civilization remains untouched.

With crystalline prose, Starry Messenger walks us through the scientific palette that sees and paints the world differently. From insights on resolving global conflict to reminders of how precious it is to be alive, Tyson reveals, with warmth and eloquence, an array of brilliant and beautiful truths that apply to us all, informed and enlightened by knowledge of our place in the universe.

Why does Penelope love this book? 

Really, any book of his, and I recommend audiobooks because he has this tone in his voice that makes it sound like he’s having a conversation with you instead of lecturing you. He presents the world in a way anyone would be interested in hearing about, and I always learn a lot.

What was the last book you read?

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

Effy Sayre has always believed in fairy tales. Haunted by visions of the Fairy King since childhood, she’s had no choice. Her tattered copy of Angharad—Emrys Myrddin’s epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, then destroys him—is the only thing keeping her afloat. So when Myrddin’s family announces a contest to redesign the late author’s estate, Effy feels certain it’s her destiny.

But musty, decrepit Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task, and its residents are far from welcoming. Including Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar determined to expose Myrddin as a fraud. As the two rivals piece together clues about Myrddin’s legacy, dark forces, both mortal and magical, conspire against them—and the truth may bring them both to ruin.

Part historical fantasy, part rivals-to-lovers romance, part Gothic mystery, and all haunting, dreamlike atmosphere, Ava Reid’s powerful YA debut will lure in readers who loved The Atlas Six, House of Salt and Sorrows, or Girl, Serpent, Thorn.

What are you currently reading?

Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi

St. Vincent’s Orphanage for Boys.

Early twentieth century, in a remote valley in Pennsylvania.

Here, under the watchful eyes of several priests, thirty boys work, learn, and worship. Peter Barlow, orphaned as a child by a gruesome murder, has made a new life here. As he approaches adulthood, he has friends, a future…a family.

Then, late one stormy night, a group of men arrive at their door, one of whom is badly wounded, occult symbols carved into his flesh. His death releases an ancient evil that spreads like sickness, infecting St. Vincent’s and the children within. Soon, boys begin acting differently, forming groups. Taking sides.

Others turn up dead.

Now Peter and those dear to him must choose sides of their own, each of them knowing their lives — and perhaps their eternal souls — are at risk.

I don’t really have a fifth one, but I’m currently reading Boys in the Valley. I heard it was someone’s scariest read so far this year.  

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