People We Meet on Vacation

People We Meet on Vacation book cover and quote, "Full of humour, quick wit and delicious getaways -- we may not be able to go on a vacation right now, but at least we have this book!"

Book Review

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For fans of friendship-turned-romance and stories full of banter and quick wit — People We Meet on Vacation is for you!

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (book cover)

From the publisher: Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
 
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
 
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
 
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

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The Woman With the Blue Star

The Woman with the Blue Star is a heartfelt tale of triumph and determination and a moving witness to the incredible bonds of friendship. The 52 Book Club quote.

Book Review

The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

How far would you go to save your life? To save the life of a girl staring up at you, out of a sewer grate? The Woman with the Blue Star is a heartfelt tale of triumph and determination, and a moving witness of the incredible bonds of friendship.

About the book:

The Woman With the Blue Star book cover by Pam Jenoff

(From the publisher) 1942. Eighteen-year-old Sadie Gault lives with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother seek refuge in the sewers below the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

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The Girl in His Shadow

The Girl in His Shadow book cover and quote from The 52 Book Club, "Right from the very first pages of the prologue, this book screamed 'five-stars.'"

Book Review

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sometimes, I find myself on the first page of a book and immediately know — there’s something special here. Barely a few words in, the story already screams five stars. It’s a rare and elusive sort of magic. Indescribable, except for the gut-feeling of a bookworm.

That was this book for me.

About the book:

The Girl in His Shadow book review

(From the publisher): Raised by the eccentric surgeon Dr. Horace Croft after losing her parents to a deadly pandemic, the orphan Nora Beady knows little about conventional life. While other young ladies were raised to busy themselves with needlework and watercolors, Nora was trained to perfect her suturing and anatomical illustrations of dissections.

Women face dire consequences if caught practicing medicine, but in Croft’s private clinic Nora is his most trusted—and secret—assistant. That is until the new surgical resident Dr. Daniel Gibson arrives. Dr. Gibson has no idea that Horace’s bright and quiet young ward is a surgeon more qualified and ingenuitive than even himself. In order to protect Dr. Croft and his practice from scandal and collapse Nora must learn to play a new and uncomfortable role—that of a proper young lady.

But pretense has its limits. Nora cannot turn away and ignore the suffering of patients even if it means giving Gibson the power to ruin everything she’s worked for. And when she makes a discovery that could change the field forever, Nora faces an impossible choice. Remain invisible and let the men around her take credit for her work, or let the world see her for what she is—even if it means being destroyed by her own legacy.

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The Venice Sketchbook

The Venice Sketchbook book against white pillows and background

Book Review

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The city of Venice — could there be a more romantic setting? Bestselling author, Rhys Bowen, truly captures the charm of this ancient, Italian port. Her writing is vivid, inviting readers to experience the sights, smells, and tastes of a city built along the canals in this romantic, historical fiction. The Venice Sketchbook was first and foremost, very well set.

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

An intensely original and beautifully researched story full of heart, resilience and empathy -- The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Book Review

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I think about characters with blue skin, I immediately assume that I must be reading some sort of fantasy novel. But this book explores the inspired-by-real-life story of the blue-skinned people of Troublesome Creek and Kentucky’s incredibly courageous pack-horse librarians.

An intensely original and beautifully researched story full of heart, resilience, and empathy. (Don’t forget to scroll down for my full review!)

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The Women of Chateau Lafayette

Photo of book cover The Women of Chateau Lafayette on an e-reader in front of a bookshelf

Book Review

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An epic saga from bestselling author, Stephanie Dray, this novel is based on the true story of Chateau Lafayette and the three, fierce-hearted women who protect its legacy.

About the book:

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women…

A founding mother…
1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing–not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

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Surviving Savannah

Surviving Savannah -- an intricately researched look into a little known historical event. This novel explores the long lasting effects of personal tragedy and what it means to survive well.

Book Review

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I remember visiting a Titanic exhibit at the Royal Victoria Museum as a teen. Walking amidst the artifacts and recreations, the tragedy came to life in a new way. Blue lights cast across the floor as I clutched a little paper passport — the name of an actual Titanic passenger scrawled across the top. It was only as you arrived at the end of the exhibit that you encountered a wall full of names. Holding my passport up, my eyes flickered along the wall, settling on the name of the young man in my hands.

He hadn’t survived.

But what if the shipwreck hadn’t been well documented? What if you had to piece these stories back together, bit by bit. Dragging silver cups and pocket watches up from the murky depths, historians would piece these fragments back into stories. Tales of the men and women to whom they’d once belonged.

That’s where this story begins. With the story of the Titanic of the South.

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Things We Didn’t Say

Things We Didn't Say book cover with quote from The 52 Book Club "an impressive debut novel that made me fall in love with epistolary style story-telling."

Book Review

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

From 1942 through 1945, more than 400,000 Axis prisoners were shipped to the United States and detained in camps in rural areas across the country. This relatively little-known historical fact acts as the focal point for this impressive debut novel, Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green.

About: It’s 1944. Linguistic student, Johanna Berglund, has reluctantly accepted a translator position at a camp for German POWs. As she interacts with the prisoners, translating conversations and censoring their letters home to Germany, she begins to see these men as more than just enemies. But advocating for the soldiers’ better treatment leaves townspeople wondering whose side she’s on. Most patriot citizens want nothing to do with the Germans labouring in the camp, or with those who work there. As the lines between compassion and treason become blurred, Johanna must decide where her heart truly lies.

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Roll With It: Author Chat with Jamie Sumner

Chat with Jamie Sumner, author of Roll With It. Photo of Jamie Sumner and book cover.

Author Chat with Jamie Sumner!
Featuring her book, Roll With It

I recently finished reading the middle-grade book, Roll With It by Jamie Sumner. This lovely story follows twelve-year-old Ellie — an irrepressible girl with cerebral palsy whose life takes an unexpected turn when she moves to a new town.

The book is beautifully written, full of heart and charm. Ellie is snarky and vulnerable and has a penchant for baking. She’s also dynamic and reflective and delightfully relatable. For fans of middle-grade stories, Jamie Sumner’s books are definitely ones to keep an eye out for!

After reading, I immediately messaged Jamie to see if she’d be willing to chat with us. And she was! It’s was such an honour to hear more about Roll With It (and see what she’s working on next.) Hope you enjoy!

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The Passing Bells

Book Review

The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock

(From the publisher) Before Downton Abbey, there was Abingdon Pryory, the elegant country home of the Grevilles—a titled English family who, along with their servants, see their world turned upside down when England goes to war. Once their well-kept lawns and whirling social seasons give way to the horrors of World War I, no one, upstairs or downstairs, is left untouched. For fans of sweeping historical fiction, the reissue of Phillip Rock’s New York Times bestseller The Passing Bells is a breathtaking family saga not to be missed.

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