2024 Reading Challenge Crossover Books

We know that a lot of you are participating in more than one of our Reading Challenges, so we thought that it might be helpful to create a place where we can specifically list the book recommendations that are a good fit for more than one of the monthly guided reading challenge prompts. We hope this helps during those months that you need to double-dip and provides a quick shortcut so you can stay on track with the challenges even when life gets busy.

Overview of Crossover Books

GUIDED READING CHALLENGES: The list below identifies the books from our recommended reading lists that satisfy two, or in some cases all three, of that month’s reading prompts for our guided reading challenges – In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) Backlist Reading Challenge, the Decades Challenge, and the Book Voyage Read Around the World Challenge.

SELF-PACED READING CHALLENGES: Since Read Around the USA and the Lifetime of Reading are self-paced challenges for 2024, you can read books for those prompts in any order. Because each states and age range, respectively, are not assigned a specific month, we won’t be including these self-paced challenges in our crossover book lists. However, whenever possible, we try to call out the location settings and ages of characters throughout all of our book descriptions across all of our reading lists. So as you review the book lists for the other three challenges, you’ll be able to find lots of books that you can also count for Read Around the USA and the Lifetime Challenge if you’d like.

We will update this page each month after curating the individual reading challenge book lists, and you’ll always find the most recent month at the top of the page. Use the table of contents above if you’d like to jump directly to a specific past month.

July Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two of the July guided reading challenge prompts:

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Born with ocular albinism, Sam Hill is a young boy whose rare red eyes cause problems from the moment his mother enrolls him at the Our Lady of Mercy school. 

Labeled “Hell Boy,” he is bullied not only by his classmates but also given a hard time by the nun who is the principal at his elementary school. Eventually, Sam finds the new best friend he desperately needs in Ernie Cantwell, the only African American boy in his class, and years later in a fiercely individual girl named Mickie.

As an adult, Sam is a respected ophthalmologist moving through life with Ernie and Mickie still by his side. His world is about to be upturned when he’s unexpectedly reunited with the biggest schoolyard bully from his past.

The Book Girls Say…

We both rated this novel five stars and recommend it to everyone! Angela especially loved the audiobook version, which the author himself narrates.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/12/2024
Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Young Kya, who was left to fend for herself in the North Carolina marsh in the 1950s, will steal your heart from the beginning.

Locals know Kya as the “Marsh Girl.” She lives away from other humans and has only attended one day of school, but finds companions in nature all around her. While traditional school was not a good fit, she is always eager to learn. Eventually, she finds a friend who agrees to help her read.

The book has a split timeline between Kya’s formative years in the 1950s and an incident in 1969. A handsome boy from town is found dead, and the locals immediately suspect Kya.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

25 Books Like Where the Crawdads Sing

Dust Child Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This suspenseful saga is set both during the war and in present-day Việt Nam. Trang and Quỳnh are sisters from a rural village, and like many in the region, their parents are struggling to survive. In 1969, the daughters take the desperate step of becoming “bar girls” in Sài Gòn, drinking, flirting (and more) with American GIs in return for money.

Trang becomes involved with a charming helicopter pilot named Dan. Decades later, we’ll see Dan return to Việt Nam with his wife in an attempt to heal from his PTSD and reckon with secrets from his past.

Also, in the present day, we’ll meet Phong as he tries to find his parents, a Black American soldier, and a Vietnamese woman. He was abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, and grew up being called names because he was a “child of the enemy”. He dreams of finding a way to America in hopes of a better life for his family.

The Book Girls Say…

Author Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai was born and raised in Việt Nam and has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She was named by Forbes Vietnam as one of 20 inspiring women of 2021 after her 2020 novel The Mountains Sing was an international best-seller.

For additional books set in Vietnam in the 60s & 70s, visit our list of books to read after The Women by Kristin Hannah.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in Asia: Southern Countries

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Kerala, on India’s southern coast, is a slender, coastal state with almost 373 miles of Arabian Sea coast and beaches. Being surrounded by water makes this a popular tourist destination. But for the family at the heart of this novel, being surrounded by water has plagued three generations. In every generation, at least one person dies by drowning.

This new literary fiction epic is a tale of love, faith, and medicine in which the family is seeking answers to this strange secret. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life.

The Book Girls Say…

This new release is a hefty book, at over 700 pages, but. like Verghese’s past work, it receives rave reviews! With elements of magical realism and straddles myth and reality. You’ll be transported Kerala, where you’ll experience all of the sights and sounds, including clothing, dance, music, architecture, customs, food, and so much more.

A tip, though – keep your dictionary handy if you’re a little rusty on your Latin or anatomy. Author Abraham Verghese completed his medical education in India at Madras Medical College before working as a doctor and a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His medical expertise is apparent throughout the book. But, as was the case with Cutting for Stone, some readers may find the descriptions of surgical procedures a bit too graphic.

Storm, The book cover

Book Summary

In this family saga, Shahryar is on a work visa in the United States. Soon, he will be forced to return to Bangladesh without his young American daughter. As he tries to cherish his final weeks with her, he also ponders his family history and how it intertwines with his home country. 

A large cast of major and minor characters are woven together in this novel to cover the history of Bangladesh, from WW2 Burma to the present day. The storylines include the Partition of India in 1947, the 1970 Bhola Cyclone and Bangladesh becoming an independent country in 1972. 

While these stories covers history, you’ll also his Shahryar’s struggles as a modern-day immigrant in Washington DC.

The Book Girls Say…

Author Arif Anwar was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh and holds a PhD in education from the University of Toronto, where he now lives with his wife.

The Women book cover

Book Summary

Frances “Frankie” McGrath is a 21-year-old nursing student who has been raised by her conservative parents to always do “the right thing.” But when her brother ships out for Vietnam in 1965, she begins to change her views of right and wrong. Frankie impulsively joins the Army Nurses Corps and follows her brother to Vietnam. As she tends to the green and inexperienced young men who have been sent to fight the war, she is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction. Returning home to a changed America doesn’t prove to be any easier.

While The Women is the story of Frankie going to war, it also shines a light on the story of all women who risk everything to help others. The publisher describes this book as “a novel of searing insight and lyrical beauty” that is “profoundly emotional” and “richly drawn.”

Through the story of Frankie’s family, we see the devastation of those who lost their sons, brothers, and other loved ones in Vietnam. But we also get a glimpse of what it was like on the ground in a war that was very complicated and blurred lines. We see how the country treated these soldiers and nurses differently, even though they were doing their sworn duty for the country, just like those before them.

The Book Girls Say…

There are so many books shedding light on the stories of women during WWI and WWII, but ever since we launched the Decades Reading Challenge back in 2020, we’ve been lamenting the lack of fiction about women’s roles in Vietnam. We couldn’t have asked for a better writer to take up this topic than Kristin Hannah!

While we expected great things from The Women after Kristin Hannah’s other highly-rated historical fiction, she still managed to exceed our expectations. Like her other recent works, The Women humanizes a tragedy that we all need to know about – both to honor those who experienced it and to help prevent history from recurring.

World Played Chess book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This coming-of-age story is about three different 18-year-old men growing up in 3 different time periods. 

William was 18 in 1967 when he went to Vietnam as a Marine. Vincent is 18 in 1979 when he meets William, working on a construction crew, and hears William’s stories of his war-time experience. 

The third young man is Vincent’s son, Beau, who has had an easier life than the first two men. He was 18 in 2015 when Vincent received William’s old Vietnam journal in the mail as a thank you for listening to his stories years ago. It was written while he was a Marine and facing things that no one, much less a teenager, should have to encounter. 

The three stories are woven together in a beautiful way that many are calling a must-read for everyone, despite the grim nature of William’s combat experiences. 

The Book Girls Say…

Although this book is set in three time periods, the story is ultimately a historical fiction of Vietnam, making it a great pick for a book about the 1960s. Make sure you don’t miss the author’s note at the end of the book to learn more about Dugoni’s connection to the story.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/22/2024
Run Me to Earth book cover

Book Summary

As kids, Prany and his sister Noi, along with their friend Alisak, were three of the hundreds of thousands impacted by the nine years of bombing in Laos as The CIA, with the Royal Lao Government, fought the Communist Pathet Lao. When the kids take shelter in a bombed out field hospital, they meet Vang, a doctor dedicated to helping the wounded at all costs.

They begin working as motorcycle couriers, navigating both unexploded bombs that litter the land and the endless barrage from the sky until Vang secures their evacuation on the last helicopters leaving the country.

This evacuation sets them on disparate and treacherous paths across the world. The novel follows the trios for decades, giving us a glimpse into the long-lasting effects of growing up in 1960s Laos.

Great Reclamation book cover

Book Summary

Ah Boon is growing up in the last days of British rule in Singapore. He lives in a small fishing village but would rather play with the girl next door, Siok Mei, than go fishing. Despite his disinterest in fishing, he discovers that he has an uncanny ability to locate uncharted islands, which are rich with fish. 

By the time Ah Boon and Siok Mei are teenagers, the Japanese army has arrived and occupied Singapore as part of WW2. This coming-of-age story is set against the backdrop of Singapore’s legacy of British colonialism, the World War II Japanese occupation, and the pursuit of modernity. Readers say the beautiful writing transports you to a different time and place and includes a hint of magical realism to emphasize the human-land connection.

The Book Girls Say…

If you enjoyed seeing the wealthy and modern city of Singapore in Crazy Rich Asians, this is a great contrast that shows more of the history of the country and life in one of the smaller fishing villages.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in Asia: Southern Countries

Greatest Beer Run Ever book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In this memoir, Chick Donohue, a Vietnam vet, recounts the craziest of his many adventures. It all began on a night in 1967 when 26-year-old Chick was at a bar in NYC with his buddies. Each of them had lost loved ones in Vietnam, and they were disheartened to see anti-war protesters turning on the troops.

One of the guys came up with a crazy idea – someone should sneak into Vietnam and track down their buddies still serving there to bring them messages of support, and – of course – a beer. It would be the Greatest Beer Run Ever.

It’s likely none of them meant for the idea to be taken seriously, but nonetheless, Chick volunteered. A day later he was on a cargo ship headed back to Vietnam during the height of combat with a backpack full of alcohol. 

What would follow was his own personal Odyssey – a serviceman turned civilian searching for his childhood friends in Vietnam. Chick’s story is filled with lots of hilarious escapades and harrowing close calls – including the Tet Offensive. 

This memoir has been described as a “hilarious quest laced with sorrow, but never dull.”

The Book Girls Say…

This improbable but true story has been turned into an Apple TV+ war film starring Zac Efron, as Chick, Russell Crowe, and Bill Murray. It’s was released in September of 2022.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 05/17/2024
In the Shadow of the Banyan book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Seven-year-old Raami lived in a carefully guarded world of royal privilege until her father brought home news about the civil war raging in the streets of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. 

Over the next four years, Raami endures starvation, forced labor, and survives the genocide that killed more than ¼ of the population of the country, including many of her family members. Throughout it all, she finds comfort only in the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers say that this story moves slowly at times, but it will open your eyes to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s through poetic prose that is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Although it is written as a novel, this story parallels the author’s own life experience as a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide and a war refugee.

Rice Mother book cover

Book Summary

In the 1920s, Lakshmi enjoyed a carefree childhood among the coconut and mango trees of Ceylon (which later became a part of Sri Lanka). But at the age of 14, she was sent across the ocean to Malaysia and forced into a marriage with a much older man. Lakshmi was promised a life of riches and luxury, but instead, they struggle to get by as Lakshmi gives birth to six children by the age of 19. 

Throughout her life, Lakshmi endures incredible hardship and suffering, but draws upon her incredible strength to face each new challenge. This includes finding a way to keep her daughters safe during the Japanese occupation of WWII.

Rich with traditional folklore, Eastern magic, Indian celebrations, and Malaysian cuisine – this long novel spans 85 years and four generations as it tells one family’s saga. Although Lakshmi (the “Rice Mother”) is the main character of this story, each chapter is narrated by a different member of the family. This provides readers with different perspectives on various events, creating even greater depth and layering to the story, while maintaining a consistent plot from beginning to end.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is recommended for fans of A Thousand Splendid Suns. 

Author Rani Manicka was born and educated in Malaysia and now divides her time between Malaysia and England.

June Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two of the June guided reading challenge prompts:

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Evelyn Hugo lived a glamorous and scandalous life, but doesn’t like to talk about it and has become reclusive after leaving her career. When the movie icon is finally ready to talk about her time in show business, she picks an unknown reporter to log her personal history, but why?

You’ll slowly unwrap Evelyn’s life from the 1950s – 1980s as she chronicles her past life and relationships, including the seven husbands she had along the way. As the book covers so much of her life, it moves quickly and will keep you engaged and entertained for hours.

Force of Nature book cover

Book Summary

Five female office colleagues are reluctantly on a corporate retreat that is supposed to encourage teamwork and resilience. They all head out on the muddy track through the rugged Giralang Ranges together, but only four come out on the other side of the trail.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk arrives to investigate the disappearance of Alice, who knew secrets about her company and co-workers. As he learns more about the days spent in the remote Australian bushland, he discovers stories of fear, violence, and fractured trust.

The Book Girls Say…

This is the perfect ICYMI pick if you previously enjoyed book #1, The Dry, as part of our Book Voyage Read Around the World challenge.

While this is the 2nd book in the Aaron Falk series, the main character is investigating a different case, so it can be read as a stand-alone if you’re looking for a mystery to read this month!

Kindle Unlimited as of: 05/10/2024
Home for Unwanted Girls Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This Canadian novel opens in 1950s Quebec, where tensions run high between the French and English. When 15-year-old Maggie’s parents find out that she’s pregnant and the father is a poor French boy, they force her to give her baby girl, Elodie, up for adoption.

As the years go by, we follow the lives of both the mother and daughter. Elodie is a bright and determined young girl growing up in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. But when a law is enacted that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages, Elodie and thousands of other orphans are declared mentally ill. Elodie withstands terrible treatment until she is finally able to gain her freedom at age seventeen.

Maggie marries and is eager to start a family, but she never forgets the daughter that she was forced to give up. Through the years, the lives of the mother and daughter continue to circle around one another, never quite intersecting. Until finally, Maggie decides to go in search of her long-lost daughter.

The Book Girls Say…

This historical fiction book is highly recommended for fans of the Orphan Train.

Naturalist's Daughter book cover

Book Summary

In 1808, Rose loves working with her naturalist father on his groundbreaking study of the platypus. When he is unable to travel to present his findings to the Royal Society in England, Rose goes in his place. What she discovers will change generations.

In 1908, Tamsin needs to travel to the Hunter Valley to get an old sketchbook donated to the public library. When she arrives, she discovers that there is more to the sketchbook than she expected. Shaw, a young bookseller and lawyer, has his own ideas about the book, and Tasmin partners with him to try and uncover the book’s true provenance.

The Book Girls Say…

Award-winning author Tea Cooper was born in England but has lived in Australia for most of her adult life. She has published numerous Australian historical fiction novels, including The Cartographer’s Secret and The Girl in the Painting.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

23 Historical Fiction Books About Women in STEM

Last of the Bonegilla Girls book cover

Book Summary

This novel tells the story of four different women who meet at the Bonegilla Migrant Camp in 1954.

Hungarian Elizabeta has just arrived from with her family after escaping post-war Germany. At the migrant camp, she befriends Vasiliki from Greece and Iliana from Italy, as well as Frances, the adventurous daughter of the camp’s director.

Together, the “Bonegilla Girls” envision a brighter future in Australia. But when a ghost from Elizabeta’s past threatens to her path forward, her friends are willing to do anything to keep her safe.

The Book Girls Say…

Operating between 1947 and 1971, the Bonegilla Migration Reception and Training Center. located near Albury in Victoria, was Australia’s largest and longest-operating migrant camp. It served as the first home to more than 320,000 migrants from more than 30 different countries.

Author Victoria Purman lives in southern Australia and focuses her writing on telling stories of Australian women. We look forward to reading her 2024 novel, The Radio Hour, as soon as it is available in the US.

For another historical fiction novel in Australia around the time of WWII, consider The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson, which is based on a true story.

Homecoming book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

86% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

On Christmas Eve sixty years ago, a delivery man makes a gruesome discovery that forever changes the small town of Tambilla. In the present day, Jess is a journalist in London when she gets a call to return home to Australia to help with her grandmother, Nora. Nora was more like a mother to Jess, after Jess’s mother, Polly, left her with Nora and moved to Brisbane when Jess was only 10. 

Nora fell in her attic while searching for something, and now she is mumbling about an event in her past in a way that is difficult to understand. As Jess tries to piece things together, she learns that Nora was agitated and restless even before the fall. She knows something is going on, and is determined to figure it out. As she searches the house for clues, she finds a true crime book about the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve. But what does this cold case have to do with her family?

The Book Girls Say…

This new 2023 mystery has been getting rave reviews, but is on the longer side at 547 pages. Some readers feel like the first 400 pages could have been shorter, but most agree that you won’t be able to put this book down in the last 100 pages.

Heart's Invisible Furies book cover

Book Summary

Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community before being adopted by a well-off couple from Dublin. His adoptive parents tell him that he’ll never be a real Avery, but if that’s true, than who is he?

As a boy, he becomes friends with Julian, but this is complicated when Cyril realizes he loves Julian as more than a friend. Keeping this secret comes with great costs.

Over the course of 70 years, Cyril struggles to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more. Through his eyes, readers also see the history of Ireland and LGBTQ rights from the 1940s to the 2010s.

The Book Girls Say…

This character-driven work is long at 582 pages, with reviewers saying it will make you laugh and cry. Readers specifically note enjoy gaining insight into Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s.

In addition to the phenomenal Goodreads rating of 4.52 with over 150,000 readers, The Heart’s Invisible Furies has won numerous awards, including being the 2017 Book of the Year for Book of the Month.

NOTE: This book includes a lot of talk about sex and covers some difficult topics, so check trigger warnings if necessary.

May Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two or all three of the May guided reading challenge prompts:

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

A Gentleman in Moscow book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin.

Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat, Rostov has never worked a day in his life and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history unfold outside the hotel’s doors.

The Book Girls Say…

This one is high on our want-to-read list because the reviews all rave about the gorgeously descriptive language and the extremely satisfying ending.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

When you think of maritime disasters, the Titanic is probably the first that comes to mind. But the deadliest disaster at sea occurred in 1945 when a Soviet submarine sunk the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner, in the Baltic Sea.

As WWII drew to a close and the Red Army advanced on Germany, a massive evacuation effort began to ferry civilians, soldiers, and equipment to safety. The Wilhelm Gustloff, which had a capacity of 1,800, was packed with more than 10,500 passengers. More than 9,000 people lost their lives when the ship sank, including 5,000 infants and children.

This historical fiction YA novel, tells the stories of four passengers – 21-year-old Joana, who is fleeing her native country of Lithuania; Florian, an artist from East Prussia; 15-year-old Emilia from Poland, who is pregnant; and Alfred, a pompous 17-year-old German soldier.

When tragedy strikes, each of them – regardless of country, culture, or status – must fight for their survival.

The Book Girls Say…

One of our readers stated, “This book is so sad, so moving, and so well written. I enjoyed the fast flip between characters… it kept the story moving right along.”

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set on a Form of Transportation

Lilac Girls book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Lilac Girls crosses three continents and follows three women whose lives are on a collision course. 

Caroline is a New York socialite working at the French consulate, Kasia is a Polish teenager and a courier for the underground resistance movement, and Herta is an ambitious young German doctor who finds herself trapped in a male-dominated world of Nazi secrets and power.

The book alternates between the three stories, each providing thought-provoking insights into uniquely difficult situations as the war progressed.

The Book Girls Say…

Melissa loved Lilac Girls, although it includes tragic scenes that are tough to read. She was devastated when she learned that this historical fiction was based on the true experiences of the ‘Ravensbrück Rabbits.’

Get your tissues ready; this story is part of history that we shouldn’t ignore.

Things We Cannot Say book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Inspired by the author’s own family history, this novel is a tragic love story. Alina and Tomasz were best friends who planned to marry. But when their village falls to the Nazis, Alina doesn’t know if Tomasz is alive or dead. 

Decades later, Alice is struggling to support her son, who was born with an autism spectrum disorder. When her grandmother is hospitalized, she begs Alice to return to Poland to see what became of those she loved. Alice travels to Poland and begins to uncover her grandmother’s story.

The Book Girls Say…

We both really enjoyed this unique look into WW2. It’s not a light read, but it’s a great look at what generations before us endured on a personal level. The split storyline between current times and the war is a nice reprieve from the harder 1940s scenes.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Like The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A Shadow in Moscow book cover

Book Summary

This dual-timeline historical fiction novel is told from alternating points of two female spies.

Ingrid Bauer lost her entire family in World War II. A decade later, she agrees to a hasty marriage to a Soviet embassy worker and moves with him to Moscow in the 1950s. Despite his gentle demeanor, Ingrid comes to suspect that her new husband, in fact, works for the KGB. After her daughter is born, Ingrid risks everything when she begins passing along intelligence to Britain, her mother’s home country.

In 1980, Anya Kadinova is set to return to Moscow after finishing her degree at Georgetown University. Despite being raised by loyal Soviet parents, Anya has gained much respect for the US after taking part in the Foreign Studies Initiative. Upon returning home at the height of the Cold War, she witnesses the increasingly oppressive Soviet regime. After the KGB murders her best friend, Anya contacts the CIA and begins passing along intelligence that she gains from working in a military research lab.

As the novel progresses, Ingrid’s storyline catches up to Anya’s where an unprecedented act of treachery will threaten all undercover agents in the Soviet Union.

The Book Girls Say…

US-born author Katherine Reay took a trip to Russia in 1985, the year that her novel ends. Her memory of the emotions of the trip inspired her to research and write this historical fiction story.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 04/18/2024
When the Summer Was Ours book cover

Book Summary

Wealthy aristocrat Eva is engaged to a doctor and spending her last single summer at her family’s estate in Sopron. However, she meets a Romani fiddler and artist, Aleandrao, and they quickly fall in love despite the differences in class that make them look incompatible to outsiders.

The outbreak of war separates Eva and Aleandro, but their chance meeting that summer leads to decisions that change their individual futures.

The Book Girls Say…

This historical fiction spans well beyond WW2 in Hungary and will also help you learn about the Hungarian uprising of 1956.

Author Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania. She moved to California as a teen, and soon after began writing short stories about her native Eastern Europe. At first, her writing was a way to help her transition to a new culture, and now, as a published author, she shares her stories with us to shed light on untold stories.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in Eastern Europe & Russia

Keeper of the Hidden Books book cover

Book Summary

In Warsaw, Zofia depends on books and her best friend, Janina, to endure the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Poland. However, as bombing increases, even books are endangered. Zofia begins hiding books away, and even starts an underground book club. When Janina is forced into a newly established ghetto, she still doesn’t give up her love of reading.

However, as the war continues, Zofia and Janina’s activities put them at risk. Can they save both Janina and the literature that has brought them so much comfort?

The Book Girls Say…

This book was a 2023 Goodreads Choice Finalist for Best Historical Fiction. It’s both heart-warming and heart-breaking, so be sure to have Kleenex on hand.

Author Madeline Martin describes herself as a “Military Brat” who was raised primarily in Germany. She attributes her love of history and research to her childhood spent visiting castles and seeing sites that most only get to read about in books. While preparing to write this novel, she visited Poland to do significant hands-on research.

Girl they Left Behind Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In 1941, Romania was newly allied with the German army, and the Jewish population was in grave danger of persecution. One freezing night, a young Jewish girl’s parents are forced to leave her behind, and she is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest.

The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy couple that renames her Natalia. She comes of age in Romania under Soviet occupation, where life behind the Iron Curtain feels bleak and hopeless.

When Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she is reunited with Victor, who she had a secret crush on in her younger years. He is now an important official in the Communist regime, and the two are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets. When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. She must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to live life on her own terms.

The Book Girls Say…

This historical fiction novel is perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

Author Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania. She moved to California as a teen, and soon after began writing short stories about her native Eastern Europe. At first, her writing was a way to help her transition to a new culture, and now, as a published author, she shares her stories with us to shed light on untold stories.

Diamond Eye book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

93% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This historical fiction novel is based on the true story of Lyudmila (Mila) Pavlichenko, a Ukrainian sniper who fought against the Nazis during WWII. The novel follows Mila’s journey from a young woman studying history in Kyiv to a decorated war hero known as “Lady Death.”

In the late 1930s, Mila is a 24-year-old student and library worker living in Kyiv. She is intelligent, independent, and fiercely patriotic. When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, she joined the Red Army. Mila quickly proves to be a natural sniper.

This novel is told in two timelines – the first being Mila’s time on the battlefield. The second timeline follows Mila’s press tour in Washington DC.

When news of her 300th kill makes her a national hero, she is sent to the United States on a 1942 goodwill tour. In the US, she pleads for the US to send weapons and troops to Europe to help stop the Germans. She also forms an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Throughout the novel, in addition to Mila’s perspective, we also see short notes from Eleanor Roosevelt and chapters from the point of view of an unnamed marksman who has been tasked with assassinating Franklin Roosevelt and framing Mila for the murder.

The Book Girls Say…

This historical fiction novel has a little of everything—from the frontlines of war to romance and mystery. Some reviewers say that the beginning and end of this book move quickly, but the middle drags a bit with a few too many detailed battlefield scenes, although others cite those scenes as their favorites.

winter garden book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Sisters Meredith and Nina have little in common other than their love for their dear father. They’ve spent most of their life feeling like they didn’t really know their mother, but when their father falls ill, his final wish is for his daughters to get to know their mother better. In their younger years, Anya sometimes tells the girls a Russian fairy tale, and their father makes her promise that she will tell the story one last time – all the way to the end.

The story alternates between past and present as Meredith and Nina hear the fairy tale and learn the harrowing story of the mother’s life five decades earlier in war-torn Leningrad, Russia. They will ultimately learn something so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

Why Our Readers Love This Book…
This tugged at my mama heart strings. You do the best you can, but inevitably make mistakes along the way. The characters were so real. I’m not a huge mystery fan, but this felt like a mystery in disguise, and I loved trying to figure it out as I read. -Kristin R.

This memorable and well-told story evokes strong emotions and reminds readers that the pain of war is a burden suffered by people on both sides; there truly are no winners.

I was drawn in by reading about the life experiences of a survivor as a means to understand her present-day life. We, as outsiders, can never judge a person by who he/she is today without understanding the past. – Tammy W.

It seemed to be a very human story, a story that explains some of why we do what we do. I read it years ago when the split narrative wasn’t quite so popular, and I enjoyed being presented with the present day and a time long ago. -Nancy F.

Notable Awards for Winter Garden:
2010 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction

The Book Girls Say…

Many WWII historical novels focus on the region of France and Germany, but The Winter Garden illuminates the experiences of those in Russia and the Eastern Front. But this is more than just another WWII story, it’s a moving family story as well. It is a bit slow to start, and the characters aren’t immediately likable, but you’ll find yourself pulled in as the lines between fairy tale and reality begin to blur.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/22/2024
The Last Green Valley book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In 1944, Ukrainians faced invaders on multiple fronts as Hilter and Stalin had both pushed into their country. The Last Green Valley tells the story of one family with a common dilemma in their region. The Martel’s had a strong German heritage, but their families had been farming in Ukraine for more than a century.

Like many others, they had a choice. Do they trust that their German blood will protect them and go with the German troops despite not agreeing with the Third Reich agenda? Or stay and risk being sent to Siberian work camps by Russia?

The Book Girls Say…

While this book is historical fiction, it is heavily researched. The author’s notes at the end share more details on which sections of the book are based on the real story of a family he got to know.

The novel is on the longer side at 458 pages, and some reviewers say that it moves slowly in some areas, but also that it will help you understand a whole new facet of WW2.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 04/18/2024
Boy on the Wooden Box book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

When the author was ten years old, his homeland of Poland was invaded, and his family was forced to move to a Krakow ghetto. Daily life required perseverance for survival in unbelievably cruel conditions. Eventually, his life was saved by the incredibly generous and brave actions of Oskar Shindler.

The Book Girls Say…

This middle-grade book is the only memoir from a Schindler’s List child. Despite its subject matter, it is said to leave a legacy of hope and is a powerful book for readers of all ages.

April Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two of the April guided reading challenge prompts:

  • In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) – 2015
  • Book Voyage – Islands
  • Decades Challenge – 1930s

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

Edge of Lost book cover

Book Summary

In 1919 Dublin, an 11-year-old orphan named Shanley lives with his abusive uncle and earns money by performing vaudeville acts in local pubs. When his uncle decides to take him to America, Shanley envisions a better life and hopes to find his father, but things don’t turn out as planned.

In 1937 San Francisco, the young daughter of an Alcatraz prison guard goes missing. She is one of the youngest civilians living on the island and only a convicted bank robber knows the truth about her whereabouts.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel takes an unconventional dual-timeline approach. In the beginning, you learn about the young girl missing from Alcatraz Island, but you don’t return to her story until near the end. Nonetheless, readers report really enjoying the way the two stories ultimately weave together.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Few names are as synonymous with chic glamour as Coco Chanel. However, all your opinions of the woman who created the classic little black dress could change after reading this historical fiction account of her entire life.

From her humble beginnings as an orphan to her determination to keep her atelier afloat during WW2, this book details the decisions that led to her lasting name recognition. 

The Book Girls Say…

Melissa was fascinated by Coco Chanel’s changing position in life throughout this book, along with several other surprising aspects, like her relationship with the Nazis as they invaded Paris. It’s a well-researched and largely biographical account, but told in novel form.

Nightingale book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

The Nightingale tells the story of French sisters Vianne and Isabelle, who have always been at odds. Vianne is a rule-follower, and Isabelle is more rebellious and willing to speak her mind. With WWII escalating, Isabelle intends to fight for France, while Vianne simply wants to survive the war with her family intact – even if it means allowing a German officer to live in her home. 

Isabelle, who refuses to live passively under German authority, joins the French resistance and guides Allied airmen out of France after their planes are shot down – work for which she adopts the codename the Nightingale. As the war wages on, both sisters learn who they are and what they can do.

The Book Girls Say…

If you’ve already read and loved The Nightingale, be sure to check out our list of the Best Books Like the Nightingale.

Sea of Memories book cover

Book Summary

When Scottish teen Ella gets a chance to spend the summer of 1937 on the French Île de Ré, it changes the trajectory of her life. She meets the charming Christophe and they spend their days exploring the many beaches of the island. For the first time, Ella feels truly free.

However, with the start of WW2, Ella must return to Scotland. She jumps into volunteering for the war effort, but feels herself drifting further away from the person she was on the Île de Ré. Will she ever be able to recapture that magic in her life?

The Book Girls Say…

Sea of Memories also has a minor present day timeline with Ella in a nurising home and recounting her life story to her granddaughter, Kendra. The book is more romance than war story and includes detailed descriptions of each setting.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/04/2024
Last Train to Key West

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Three women’s stories intertwine in the Florida Keys as a powerful hurricane approaches over the Labor Day weekend of 1935.

Key West native Helen Berner yearns to escape her abusive husband. Elizabeth Preston has traveled down from New York in search of a veteran of the Great War. Mirta Perez’s family suffered great losses in the Cuban Revolution of 1933, and now they have arranged her marriage to a man in a dangerous business, followed by a honeymoon in Key West.

The approaching storm is not the only danger that these women face as their paths unexpectedly cross.

The Book Girls Say…

Some of our readers have reported not loving the audiobook narrator, so consider listening to a sample before choosing this format.

Letters From Cuba book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

91% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

As WW2 began, Jewish families in Poland were trying to flee to safer countries outside of Hilter’s reach. In this story, Esther’s father has gone ahead of the family to Cuba, and Esther is the first family member to join him. She’s devastated to be separated from her sister, so she documents her new life in Cuba to share her experiences in writing until her sister can join her. 

Her writings include both the kindness of the Cuban people and the unfortunate reality that Nazism has reached Cuba. 

The Book Girls Say…

This historical fiction novel is based on the author’s family history.

March Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two of the March guided reading challenge prompts:

  • In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) – 2014
  • Book Voyage – Africa
  • Decades Challenge – 1920s

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

The Boston Girl book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Addie Baum was born to a Jewish family at the turn of the 20th century. Her immigrant parents were very concerned about America’s effect on their three daughters. Growing up in Boston’s North End, Addie is introduced to a progressive world of short skirts, movies, and celebrity culture. She also sees a new world of opportunities for young women and dreams of college and a career.

At 85 years old, Addie Baum’s 22-year-old granddaughter asks her how she became the woman she is. Her story begins in 1915 when teenage Addie lived in a one-room tenement apartment that she shared with her family.

The Book Girls Say…

The story of Addie’s life is told with compassion, a wicked sense of humor, and great attention to historical detail. This novel spans Addie’s life, including her first job in the 1920s.

Over 100 of our readers selected this book as their Massachusetts book for our Read Around the USA Challenge last year, and it received rave reviews. Numerous readers specifically mentioned how much they enjoyed the audio version of the book, and said that the narration and the accents added to the story.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books that Span Multiple Decades

Diamond Boy book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

When diamonds were discovered in Marange, Zimbabwe in 2006, the region changed, often not for the better. In this novel, fifteen-year-old Patson has a normal teenage life, running track for his high school and experience having his first girlfriend. Then, at his stepmother’s prompting, the family moves as part of The Great Marange Diamond Rush. His family goes to work hoping to find their “girazi,” a priceless stone that could change the future. 

However, the governor’s soldiers soon arrive at the diamond field. Their action will help you understand the term “blood diamonds,” and Patson will soon be on a new adventure as he first succumbs to greed and then finds himself on a transformative journey to find his sister in South Africa.

The Book Girls Say…

This YA novel is a rare look into President Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe after he transitioned from a revolutionary hero to a tyrant who established a one-party system to stay in power for 37 years. While it is considered YA, don’t mistake that for being a light or easy read. It’s a realistic look at a brutal regime that will help educate you on modern history you may have missed while also providing a twisting and page-turning plot.

In addition to being the author of several books, Michael Williams writes plays, musicals, and operas, and is the Managing Director of Cape Town Opera in South Africa. He began writing “radio plays” while studying at the University of Cape Town and had his first novel published when he was twenty-five years old.

Homegoing book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

93% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This multi-generation epic follows the divergent paths of two half-sisters born in 18th century Ghana and their descendants over 300 years. Effia marries a wealthy Englishman and lives in a castle, but she doesn’t know Esi is imprisoned in the dungeon below. Esi is sold in the slave trade and shipped to America, where she, her children, and her grandchildren are raised in slavery. 

The book continues to follow each generation of both Effia and Esi all the way to the present day and includes a range of historical time periods, including the American Civil War and the Jazz Age.

The Book Girls Say…

Despite this long history, the book is only 305 pages, so it’s not a traditional epic with extensive storylines for each generation. Instead, each chapter introduces a new character and reads more like a series of short stories. Some readers are disappointed that not every chapter/character has a full arc and conclusion.

Author Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama.

WARNING: This book contains graphic scenes of sexual and physical abuse, along with adult language. 

We also found a second book that spans both Ghana and Alabama called The Scent of Burnt Flowers. The description sounds fascinating, but the reviews are a bit lower than we hoped.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books that Span Multiple Continents

Long Walk to Freedom book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Nelson Mandela is one of the great leaders of the 20th century whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him not only the Nobel Peace Prize, but also the presidency of his country. This autobiography is very broad in its scope, covering his upbringing in the traditional tribal culture of his ancestors, his early years as a poor student and a law clerk, his political awakening, his time spent in jail, and finally, his inauguration as South Africa’s first black president. 

In addition to providing an in-depth and personal look at the life of this incredible man – Long Walk to Freedom also provides a riveting account of South Africa’s history and change from Apartheid to a Democratic state.

The Book Girls Say…

This memoir is on the longer side at 600+ pages. It spans his life, beginning with a chapter about his “country childhood” in the 1920s.

If you want to learn more about South Africa’s political history, we also recommend the classic Cry the Beloved Country. Originally published in 1948, this novel sheds light on the racial injustice in South Africa that predated Apartheid. Of course, as with all classics, keep in mind that this book is a product of its time.

Leaving TIme book cover

Book Summary

Alice disappeared in the wake of an accident, and ten years later, her daughter, Jenna, still refuses to believe that her mother abandoned her. Jenna still regularly searches for clues, both online and within Alice’s journals.

Alice was a scientist who studied grief among elephants in Botswana. While the journal entries are mostly about the elephants, Jenna hopes that she’ll find a clue within the writing. As part of her investigation, she also works with a psychic and detective, and we’ll see the story from their points of view as well.

The Book Girls Say…

While this isn’t a magical realism book, the storyline has some psychic/paranormal elements.

February Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two of the February guided reading challenge prompts:

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald book cover

Book Summary

Regarded as the first flapper, this novel recounts the life of Zelda (Sayer) Fitzgerald from the time she met F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in Alabama in 1918. She was a 17-year-old Southern belle, and he was a young army lieutenant. Scott was not wealthy or prominent, nor was he a Southerner – all of which left Zelda’s father deeply unimpressed with him. But Zelda fell for him nonetheless.

A couple of years after their initial meeting, Scott sold his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda boarded a train north and married him at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. What unfolds is the story of a complex and fascinating woman.

The Book Girls Say…

This biographical fiction is based on the author’s extensive research into the life of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and it was her goal to stay as close to the facts as possible. She acknowledges that much of what is known about these two figures has come from unreliable sources and popular culture myths, and it was her mission to set the record straight.

A fun fact that we learned in the process of researching this novel for our book list – F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is most well-known as the author of The Great Gatsby, was named after his ancestor Francis Scott Key, the author/composer of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Life After Life book cover

Book Summary

Ursula Todd was born on a cold and snowy night in 1910, but she died before she could take her first breath. That same night, Ursula Todd was born with a wail and went on to lead a very unusual life. Life after life, for a seemingly infinite number of lives, Ursula grows and dies repeatedly and in a variety of ways. All the while, the world continues on a path toward a second World War… unless Ursula has the power to change the world’s destiny.

The Signature of All Things book cover

Book Summary

Spanning much of the 18th & 19th centuries, this book tells the story of the fictional Whittaker family. The patriarch, Henry, begins life as a poor Englishman before making his fortune in South America. He rises to be the wealthiest man in Philadelphia.

His daughter, Alma, gets his money and his great mind. She becomes a botanist who studies the mysteries of evolution while falling in love with a man obsessed with the spiritual realm. She is scientific while he’s an artist. Follow this unlikely couple as their story soars around the globe.

The Book Girls Say…

If you loved the writing style of Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls, pick up her 2013 return to fiction, The Signature of All Things. Like in City of Girls, you’ll find the side characters just as compelling as the main characters.

The Perfume Collector book cover

Book Summary

Grace Monroe doesn’t fit the picture of a London socialite in the 1950s, and her new marriage is already falling apart. When she receives an inheritance from a woman she’s never heard of before – Madame Eva d’Orsey – Grace is compelled to travel to France. She seeks to uncover the mystery of who this woman was and why she left her money to Grace.

The story weaves through both pre- and post-WWII, from New York to Monte Carlo and London to Paris. Grace learns about the extraordinary woman who was the muse of one of the greatest perfumers in Paris. Madame Eva d’Orsay is immortalized in three evocative perfumes. Discovering this history changes Grace’s life, and forces her to choose whether to stay confirmed to expectations or live the life she truly desires.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel was a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction in 2013. Reviewers praise the imagery of the scents and foods described throughout the novel. Some reviewers, however, say that they found Grace’s storyline a bit less compelling than that of Madame Eva d’Orsay.

The Bookbinder book cover

Book Summary

Twin sisters Peggy and Maude work in Oxford’s university press book bindery. While Maude is very content spending her days folding the pages of books with her fellow bindery girls, Peggy dreams of more. As Peggy works, she wishes she was instead across Walton Street at Oxford’s Somerville College, where female students have a huge library at their fingertips.

When Oxford is filled with Belgian war refugees, the sister’s lives are impacted in surprising ways. Peggy becomes more determined to find a career that uses her intellect instead of her hands. But, the responsibility that comes with falling in love with a Belgian soldier may hold her back.

The Book Girls Say…

This book has an alternate title of “The Bookbinder of Jericho” outside of the US.

An Inquiry Into Love and Death book cover

Book Summary

Oxford student Jillian Leigh is called on to travel to the English seaside village of Rothewell to collect the belongings of her late uncle, Toby. A renowned ghost hunter, Toby died after falling of a cliff. It was deemed an accident, but Jillian will come to question if perhaps something more sinister happened to her uncle.

Almost immediately after arriving in Rothewell, Jillian begins to experience odd events that quickly escalate from unsettling to terrifying. When a handsome Scottish Yard inspector named Drew arrives, Jillian is left with more questions than answers. To complicate matters further, there’s a mutual attraction between Jillian and Drew. Will she be able to uncover the secrets that someone seems determined to keep buried?

The Book Girls Say…

This gothic thriller and paranormal ghost story is one of Simone St. James’ lesser-known works, but reviewers say that her sophomore novel lives up to everything readers have come to love about her work.

Pull of the Stars book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

89% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In 1918, Ireland was ravaged by both war and disease. Julia is a nurse working in an understaffed hospital caring for pregnant women who have been quarantined after contracting a terrible new flu that would come to be known as the Spanish Flu.

Two newcomers to the hospital ward will change everything over the course of three days. One is Doctor Katleen Lynn, who is rumored to be a Rebel on the run from the police. The other is Bridie, a young volunteer.

The Book Girls Say…

For another look at the Spanish Flu set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, consider reading Murmur of Bees by Sofía Segovia. For insight into the Spanish Flu in New York, try A Beautiful Poison, which would also be great for fans of Radium Girls, as some characters are employed in a watch factory painting dials with radium.

Other Einstein book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

89% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Mitza Maric was the only female studying physics at a prestigious university in Zurich, Switzerland when she met her classmate and future husband – Albert Einstein.

The Other Einstein is a fictionalized story of their tumultuous relationship and places Mitza as the originator of some works credited to him. While not a biography, the book still highlights accurate depictions of life in Western Europe at the time, including rampant classism and sexism.

The Book Girls Say…

With Einstein being one of the most well-known citizens of Switzerland, we thought this would be a fun pick, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is a fictionalized version of events. Audiobook listeners have noted that the narrator was a bit too monotone, so this one is more enjoyable to read than to listen to.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/16/2024

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This is the non-fiction story of nine working-class boys – sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers – who beat all the odds to become the American rowing team. They weren’t expected to win at home, let alone defeat others on the international stage. Out of the depths of the Depression, these unlikely young men shocked the world by defeating the German team at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

In writing this story, Brown drew upon the boys’ own journals and vivid memories to paint a portrait of an era.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in the 1930s

Canary Girls book cover

Book Summary

As British men left to fight in WWI, women stepped up to work in the arsenals, making weapons for the military. Thousands of former housewives, shop girls, cooks, and maids became “munitionettes” and worked grueling shifts with little protective gear.

April is 19 years old and was a housemaid before hearing about the higher wages she could earn at Thornshire Arsenal near London. Lucy is married to an Olympic gold medalist & star forward of the Tottenham Hotspur football team. She joins Thornshire to do her part in shortening the war. When her coworkers learn she is a footballer’s wife, they invite her to join the arsenal ladies’ football club, the Thornshire Canaries.

When the women begin having unexplained health problems, including yellowing skin, the boss’s wife, Helen, becomes their biggest advocate. Helen suspects the chemicals are to blame for the health issues and became a staunch advocate for the workers who became known as “canary girls.”

The Book Girls Say…

If you love stories based on what women were doing for the war effort and also enjoy sports, this is a great option based on the true story of the “canary girls” and the Munitionettes Cup.

The Phoenix Crown book cover

Book Summary

By 1906, San Francisco was full of new wealth and those dreaming of new wealth. Two of those dreamers were Gemma, who was trying to rekindle her singing career, and Suling, a Chinese seamstress trying to escape an arranged marriage. The women meet through the acquaintance of Henry Thornton, a charming railroad magnate and collector of Chinese antiques, including the fabled Phoenix Crown, a legendary relic of Beijing’s fallen Summer Palace.

However, before the women can benefit from Thornton’s patronage, the 1906 earthquake rips through the city and Thornton disappears. Then, five years later, the Phoenix Crown reappears at a Paris costume ball. Gemma and Suling must join forces to figure out what really happened to Thornton.

Secret Life of Violet Grant book cover

Book Summary

It was not easy to be a female scientist in 1914, so Violet Schuyler Grant endures her much older, philandering husband because he makes her role as a physicist in prewar Germany possible. When Lionel, a captain in the British Army, meets Violet, he encourages her to escape her husband’s hold. However, with WW1 on the horizon, Lionel’s motives are suspect.

Fifty years later, Vivian Schuyler is a recent Bryn Mawr grad in New York City but not content to be a socialite. Instead, she’s trying to break into the glamorous world of magazine publishing. She puts her investigative skills to use when she receives a package of information about a mysterious aunt she never knew.

Tour book cover

Book Summary

What could feel more like spring than the green, rolling hills of Ireland? We’ve always loved the Irish works of the late, great Maeve Binchy, so when we heard Jean Grainger referred to as “the next Maeve Binchy,” we knew we needed to check out her books. And then when we read a review that described The Tour as “a feel-good Irish springtime read,” we knew we’d hit the jackpot.

Each week, Conor O’Shea leads American tourists on a high-end tour of “The Real Ireland.” He’s a seasoned guide, but his most recent tour group is filled with a colorful cast of unintentionally hilarious characters that manage to leave him speechless for the first time in his life. As the tour continues, you won’t be able to help but fall in love with these tourists, as well as the locals they meet along the way. This is the perfect spring break book for armchair travelers!

The Book Girls Say…

Jean Grainger is also the author of the popular WWII historical fiction The Star and the Shamrock.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/18/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Books to Read in Spring

The Aviator's Wife Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This historical fiction novel traces the life of Anne Morrow, who was a shy college senior the first time she met Colonel Charles Lindbergh shortly after his famed 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Their wedding made headlines, but that was just the beginning. In the following years, Anne was the first woman in the US to become a licensed glider pilot and one of the first licensed radio operators. Still, despite her intelligence and accomplishments, she remained known as just the “aviator’s wife.”

Throughout the decades, the Lindberghs’ marriage took them to new highs and devastating lows, including the tragic kidnapping of their first son and Charles’ affairs. Through it all, the Lindberghs became fodder for the earliest paparazzi.

Burial Rites book cover

Book Summary

In 1829, a poor young servant named Agnes is convicted of the brutal murder of her former master. She’s sent to an isolated farm in Iceland to await execution. The family who lives on the farm does not want to house a convicted murderer, and they do their best to avoid Agnes.

The only person who seems interested in understanding more about Agnes is Tóti, the priest that she has chosen to be her spiritual guardian as the end of her life nears. But as the date of her execution draws closer, the farmer’s wife and daughters begin to discover that there may be more to Agnes’ story than the sensationalized version they’ve heard.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel was a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction in 2013.

Orphans of the Storm book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Marcella has been married for three years and has two young children. Her once charming husband. Michael has revealed his true, cruel nature, and she’s determined to divorce him. While Michael’s waiting for a judge in France to award custody of their children, he receives shocking news.

Margaret is a fun-loving New York socialite who is touring Europe with friends. When she begins to feel restless, she decides to return home aboard a celebrated new steamer ship, the Titanic.

As the ship sets sail for America, the paths of Marcella, Michael, and Margaret become forever intertwined. This historical fiction novel is based on a true story.

Bluebird book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Detroit museum curator Cassie loves solving mysteries from the past, especially when the stories involve the Detroit River rumrunners from the Prohibition days. When a home renovation uncovers a cache of Bailey Brothers Best whisky, she hopes it’s the missing piece she needs to understand the truth about the bootleggers.

In 1918, Corporal Jeremiah Bailey was wounded as part of his job planting mines under enemy trenches. As he recovers at a Belgium hospital, he’s cared for by nurse Adele, one of the Canadian “Bluebirds.” The connection between Jerry and Adele is strong as they’re from a similar area along the Detroit River. But when Jerry is sent back to the front, he’s not sure he’ll ever see Adele again.

When Jerry and Adele unexpectedly cross paths after the war, they have a chance for a fresh start, but both carry baggage from what they saw overseas. Prohibition is in full swing, bringing them both opportunity and the threat of destroying everything they’ve worked for.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best WW1 Historical Fiction

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Selva could have her pick of nearly any man in Ankara, Turkey, but the only one she loved was the handsome Jewish son of a court physician. Despite the protests of their families, the two marry and are determined to build a new life in Paris. But when the Nazis invade France and begin rounding up Jews, it’s no longer safe for them to stay.

After learning that Selva is among the citizens trapped in France, a group of Turkish diplomats devise a plan to transport Selva, Rafael, and hundreds of Jewish people to safety. From Ankara to Paris, Cairo, and Berlin, The Last Train to Istanbul crisscrosses a war-torn continent in an uplifting tale of love and adventure.

The Book Girls Say…

While only a portion of this historical fiction novel is set on the train, readers say that this is the most impactful part of the story.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/16/2023
Memory of Violets book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

For years, Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls in London has watched over London’s flower girls, as they are known. These orphaned and disabled children survive on the streets by selling violets and watercress. In 1912, Twenty-year-old Tilly Harper left her native Lake District and moved to London to become an assistant housemother at the home.

Tilly discovers the diary of a young woman named Florrie with dried flowers pressed between the pages and a heartbreaking tale of her separation from her sister, Rosie. Drawn into their story from the 1870s, Tilly hopes to discover what happened to Rosie.

Pieces We Keep

Book Summary

Audra lost her husband two years ago, and she thinks that it’s time for a fresh start. As she makes plans to relocate from Portland to Philadelphia with her 7-year-old son, he becomes nervous about flying. Soon, his fears escalate into recurring and violent nightmares. Before long, Jack has become so anxious and introverted that Audra barely recognizes him.

After searching for information related to snippets of information that Jack recalls from his dreams, Audra is introduced to a US Army veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan. Together, they begin to unravel a mystery dating back to WWII.

The Book Girls Say…

The audiobook is included free with an Audible membership as of 1/17/23.

January Crossover Books

The following books satisfy two of the January guided reading challenge prompts:

*We’ve used asterisks below to note which challenge list the book originally appeared on

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In The Snow Child, you’ll be transported to remote 1920s Alaska. Jack and Mabel are nearing 50 when they decide to move to Alaska. As newcomers to the harsh environment, it is a struggle for them. Between the intense physical labor required and the even more extreme loneliness, they’re not sure they’ve made the right decision with the move.

Then, during the first snowfall of the year, they decide to have some fun and build a child out of snow. In the morning, the snow child is gone, but they see a young girl running through the trees with the items they had used to dress the snow child. Is she real, or are they hallucinating and dreaming of the child they’ve always wanted?

The Book Girls Say…

Melissa thought the fairytale-like qualities of this magical realism novel were phenomenal in both the writing and the storytelling.

This novel takes place in the fictional town of Alpine, Alaska, along the fictional Wolverine River, so we can’t say for sure that it is above the Arctic Circle for purposes of being a crossover book. However, the book fully transports you to the isolation of an Alaskan homestead, making the harshness of the environment and the preparation required to survive very clear.

With that in mind, you could also choose to consider Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (from the Best Books from 2012 list) to be a crossover; however, it takes place considerably further south in Ontario, Canada.

Antarctica An Intimate Portrait book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Antarctica is the only continent on Earth where humans could never survive unaided. Many books have come out of our fascination with the frigid region, but this one strives to truly capture the whole story.

Drawing on her broad travels across the continent, science writer Gabrielle Walker weaves all the significant threads of life on the vast ice sheet into an intricate tapestry, illuminating what it feels like to be there and why it draws so many different kinds of people.

We witness cutting-edge science experiments through Gabrielle, visit the South Pole, lodge with American, Italian, and French researchers, drive snowdozers, drill ice cores, and listen for the message Antarctica is sending us about our future in an age of global warming.

The Book Girls Say…

One reader says, “I love this book! Was exactly what I was hoping for – tells about the land, the people who work there, about their work, about early explorers. Utterly fascinating!”

At the Mountains Edge book cover

Book Summary

The Peterson family, including Lisa, have a store in Vancouver but an opportunity to make a fortune if they move to Dawson City, the only established town in the Yukon. Constable Ben Turner, a new recruit for the North-West Mounted Police, is also headed to Dawson City, but instead of looking for riches, he is looking to bring integrity to a town overrun with guns, liquor, prostitutes, and thieves.

The journey over icy mountains and whitewater rapids is more treacherous than Liza or Ben imagined. When a tragedy strikes near the mountain’s peak, Lisa must continue without her family. Ben is wracked with guilt over the accident and looking for an opportunity to make things right.

The Book Girls Say…

This historical fiction is a mix of romance and adventure, perfect for those who enjoy survival stories.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

It’s 1885, and newly married Colonel Allen Forrester has received the commission of a lifetime. He is being sent to lead a small group of men to navigate Alaska’s Wolverine River (a fictional river based on the Copper River). Finding a way to pass the river is the key to opening Alaska to the outside world, but previous attempts have been fatal.

Sophie is pregnant and not excited about being relegated to a year in the military barracks away from her husband while he attempts the impossible. She’s worried about her pregnancy and what will happen while apart from Allen.

The Book Girls Say…

Melissa loved this author’s descriptions of Alaska in The Snow Child, so she can’t wait to pick up this 2016 Goodreads Nominee for Best Historical Fiction. Like The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey weaves a thread of magical realism throughout this epistolary novel.

This novel takes place along the fictional Wolverine River, so we can’t say for sure that it is above the Arctic Circle for purposes of being a crossover book, but it will definitely give you a sense of the harsh, cold isolation which is what we were looking for.

In the Kingdom of Ice book cover

Book Summary

Subtitled “The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeanette,” this non-fiction tells the story of the United States’ aspiration to be the first nation to reach the North Pole. US Navy Captain George Washington DeLong set sail on the JSS Jeanette with a team of 32 men. They departed San Francisco, heading deep into Arctic waters.

Two years into the expedition, Jeannette’s hull was breached by an impassable stretch of ice. The crew was forced to abandon the ship into the icy water. Shipwrecked a thousand miles north of Siberia, they are forced to march across the endless ice pack as they struggle to survive.

The Book Girls Say…

This non-fiction survival story was a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Best History & Biography in 2014.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized an epic trip. He converted a steamship into a luxury “floating university” and invited some of the brightest scientists and writers to join him on a journey through Alaska’s beauty.

Author Mark Adams retraced this journey more than 100 years later. He traveled three thousand miles, following the itinerary north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continuing west into the colder and stranger regions of the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle.

Along the way, several unusual characters are encountered, and Adams examines how lessons learned in 1899 could apply today. While this non-fiction travelogue is often humorous, it’s also a realistic look at how Alaska’s resources are being depleted and endangered.

The Book Girls Say…

Our readers note specifically enjoying the story-telling narrative of this travelogue.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in Antarctica and the Arctic

Madhouse at the End of the Earth book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

85% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In 1897, a polar expedition went terribly wrong. The crew of the Belgica was ready for adventure when they set sail on a three-year expedition to uncharted Antarctica and the magnetic South Pole. However, they hadn’t even cleared South America yet when everything seemed to be going wrong. But they pushed forward into freezing water, chasing glory for Belgium.

That decision led to the Belgica and her crew becoming stuck in the ice for an entire sunless Arctic winter and being driven to the brink of madness. The author tells this compelling non-fiction tale with extra detail thanks to exclusive access to the ship’s logbook.

The Book Girls Say…

In 2021, this book was a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for History & Biography. One of our most trusted readers selected it last year for Antarctica and rated it 10/10.

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