Reading Lately: Spring Selections

This spring, I’ve got a lovely stack of unread paperbacks along with a few Kindle books that I’ve been reading.

Historical Fiction (this is my favorite genre of book, so I’m consistently finding new titles to add to my TBR):

No One Stood Taller by Peter Turnham (series on Kindle Unlimited)

Lily is from the East End of London, Edward is the Earl of Middlebourne. They work together within SOE where their contribution towards the D-Day landings is enormous. However great their achievement, the chasm between them remains. Can Edward take that giant stride, will Lily declare her love? All the while the war dictates their future.

I’ve read numerous WW2 books with a female main lead, and I was surprised that this one stood out in an original way! Lily is a confident, yet human main lead who’s had her own share of grief but heart is captured by the Earl of her assigned home. She’s intelligent yet warm, and she works incredibly hard to assist the SOE. What’s so fascinating about this series is the “behind the scenes” detail of planning for DDay and other events. The book takes its time in sharing all of the tiny decisions that led up to historical events. I highly recommend this series to any WW2 reader!

The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson

Inspired by true events, The Wartime Book Club is an unforgettable story of everyday bravery and resistance, full of romance, drama, and camaraderie and a tribute to the joy of reading and the power of books in our darkest hour. The Isle of Jersey was once a warm and neighborly community, but in 1943, German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule.

This book, may, end up in one of my top favorites list! It is so well done – between two main female leads, Bea and Grace. I couldn’t put it down. The author does a great job of creating an entire cast of characters on the island, and their relationships as humans. She doesn’t shy away from the people of Guernsey being human, making bad decisions, and acting in their own interest. The main lead characters also struggle with their own safety while wanting to sacrifice to frustrate the Germans. Grace is also the head librarian, and she protects the books and the sanctuary of their library. Last, there is romance throughout that can’t be stifled by the Nazi presence. This is a 5 star read!

Ready or Not by Cara Bastone

Eve Hatch lives for surprises! Just kidding. She expects every tomorrow to be pretty much the same as today. She loves her cozy apartment in Brooklyn that’s close to her childhood best friend Willa, and far from her midwestern, traditional family who has never really understood her. While her job is only dream-adjacent, it’s comfortable and steady. She always knows what to expect from her life . . . until she finds herself expecting after an uncharacteristic one-night stand.

This romance novel is partially a typical fluff story about two old friends looking for love. But, it does also examine relationships between women who are having children and how that can impact them. It also shares about two characters who’ve know each other for so long, and how their shared friendship becomes a part of their story. I found the main character realistic and enjoyed reading her navigate a new pregnancy. This is a cute read!

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

The bells clang above plague-ridden London as Robin lies helpless, cold, and hungry. The great house is empty, his father is fighting the Scots in the north, his mother is traveling with the Queen, and the servants have fled. He calls for help but only the stones hear his cries. Suddenly someone else is in the house, coming towards Robin. It is Brother Luke, a wandering friar, who takes Robin to St. Mark’s Monastery, where he will be cared for until his father sends for him.

Re-reading this classic children’s chapter book for a project, and I was struck – like many other children’s books – how valuable it still is. It’s a short read about life in the middle ages, and how harrowing it was to be ill, traveling, or even in a castle. de Angeli packs a lot of detail into one short book, and I recommend this for any student, child, or historian who wants a quick adventure reading!

French Dirt by Richard Goodman

A story about dirt–and about sun, water, work, elation, and defeat. And about the sublime pleasure of having a little piece of French land all to oneself to till. Richard Goodman saw the ad in the paper: “SOUTHERN FRANCE: Stone house in Village near Nimes/Avignon/Uzes. 4 BR, 2 baths, fireplace, books, desk, bikes. Perfect for writing, painting, exploring & experiencing la France profonde. $450 mo. plus utilities.” And, with his girlfriend, he left New York City to spend a year in Southern France. 

I recommend reading this book in the spring, outside surrounded by flowers, and with a cool drink. This short novel, published in 1976, makes the reader want to dig in the dirt, eat a ripe tomato for dinner, and make a journey to St. Sebastien de Caisson! He details his year in France with his girlfriend where they live in an isolated village near the mountains. He is determined to make a garden, and, along the way, finds himself connected to the villagers. His depictions of France will make you want to purchase a plane ticket! I recommend this book for any Francophile and master gardener.