I’ve had enough snow and ice and freezing temps. And long days indoors.

Like everyone else, I’m eager to pack a bag and escape. I dream of travels to a sandy beach or a windswept island or a city with winding streets to wander. Even though I must wait to visit relatives, attend a wedding, and cheer on a baseball team, I can travel the world with books. 

These selections transported me to Australia, France, England, and Ireland. All destinations I crave to explore. So, put on a big pot of soup, curl up with a blanket, and enjoy!

The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

When we hear Chanel, glamour comes to mind. But Coco’s and Antoinette’s poor and parentless childhood, along with heartbreaking losses, make their success all the more impressive. Their constant search for “something better” led them to create a fashion empire that flourished, even during the war.

As she told me in our interview, Judithe Little loves to research and uncover “little nuggets” for a story. When she looked up information for The Chanel Sisters, she pored over old French newspapers. She discovered Antoinette’s tiny notices, announcing her whereabouts, so her wealthy clients knew where to find – and shop – with her. 

“I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find anything else about Coco or Antoinette in the papers,” Judithe says. But, in the early 1900s, the sisters were tradespeople. They were something better, but not “good enough” for society newspaper coverage.

I predict lovers of historical fiction, fashionistas or not, will devour Judithe’s latest novel.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

This page-turner examines a privileged, young crowd who gathers for a wedding on a creepy island in Ireland. 

Quick chapters, which encourage me to read “just one more” before I turn off the light and go to sleep, keep the story moving along at a rapid clip.

During the wedding festivities, the public schoolboys temper their cocky behavior when someone turns up dead. With lots of twists and turns, the story – named one of the New York Times’ best thrillers of last year – is told in alternating viewpoints.

I’m glad I read this novel on my Kindle because – confession – I had to look up some of the “youthful” terms!

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

“Accept people for who they are, not for who you want them to be.” 

Yes, another war book. But, in The Paris Library, readers glimpse a slice of history most of us know nothing about. 

Based on true people and events, this novel traces the courageous steps of the librarians at the American Library in Paris. The library remained open during World War II, supplying books to those subscribers banned by Hitler.

In 1939, Odile works at the library – a dream job in troubled times. Lily, in 1983, lives in small-town Montana and shares a love of literature and independence with her elderly neighbor. 

Both learn lessons the hard way.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

“Oh, brother.”

Last month my virtual book club selected this novel, by English author Matt Haig, as our next read. I grumbled to myself. The woman who proposed this book described it with phrases like “science fiction” and “time travel” and “alternate universe.” Nothing I’d EVER choose to read on my own. 

Two chapters in, I continued to complain about this New York Times bestseller. “I was right. This is not my kind of book.” But something kept me going. 

We tend to ponder the what-ifs in life – or at least I do. But what if we let go and completely enjoy the hand we’re dealt. Reminiscent of the beloved holiday movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, the book follows Nora through a library of her regrets and mistakes. 

And that’s the beauty of book clubs. They encourage us to branch out, expand our worlds, and fall in love with new sorts of books. 

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Before reading The Good Sister, I was not familiar with Australian author Sally Hepworth and her books. But I’m a fan now!

Everyone has a story…

In this psychological thriller, twins Rose and Fern seem to experience a normal, up-and-down sister relationship. One has control issues (sound like any sisters you know?!) and the other suffers from hypersensitivity to sound, light, and touch. 

The novel kept me guessing the entire way. As it rolls along, the story weaves and flips and readers learn, “Maybe when it comes to sisters, boundaries are always a little bit blurry.” 

Another Hepworth novel, The Mother-in-Law, is in my “to read” pile, and I hear wonderful reviews on this one too. 

What are you reading right now? Me – The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin. When was the last time you enjoyed a book you didn’t expect to like? Where are you craving to escape to?

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