Betsey's Picks

Top secret codebreakers during WWII, a royal wedding, friendships, love, betrayals, a madhouse, and even a Mad Hatter literary society—this book has it all! I was drawn to this well-written, mesmerizing, historical fiction like a magnet. So good!


This book paints a painfully vivid and powerful image of Hitler’s reign and the courageous young women in the Polish Resistance who found the strength for defiance. Utterly sobering and chilling, it shook me to the core.


Crazy to imagine that this story of gun-wielding sailors, their ship frozen in ice for a year, with unforgiving polar nights, and a mysterious illness afflicting them, IS TRUE! Soooo good!


This graphic novel is a great way to learn about the true, unsolved story of DB Cooper who hijacked and escaped from a plane with a stash of cash and a parachute in 1971. I liked that the text was comprehensive and engaging, as were the large illustrations.


This book lassoed me in right from the beginning with the premise of a ranch for soon-to-be divorcees in the 1930s outside of Reno. But it was the likeable characters who really won my heart. I also loved the sense of humor, politeness, & innocence of a nostalgic era. It wasn't crude, graphic, or violent. Instead the book offered a lighthearted, well-needed breath of fresh air.


This is more than a story about German occupation in the Channel Islands during WWII—it’s also about the impossible, forbidden love of a German officer and a Jewish woman trapped in a dangerous world where there are no true winners. Based on a true story, they are forced to be enemies and must go to great lengths to hide their love. Was it all for nothing?


I love this story of two women with opposite personalities who go on an adventure where they not only learn more about each other, but also about themselves. A heartwarming female friendship book at its best!


I got completely wrapped up in this story about women sent to an Australian penal colony on Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)—something I knew almost nothing about. An unforgettably sensational read!


I would give this book a 10+ rating! Easily one of the best books I've read all year. The story about people evacuating East Prussia to escape advancing Russians at the end of WWII left me breathless!


Hitler’s 1936 Olympics saw our “Boys in the Boat” row to victory. Now we get to learn about the “Fast Girls” on the U.S. track team who made history—specifically three women who had their own personal obstacles to hurdle before they reached the world’s stage. Gender discrimination, racism, ostracism, and a horrific accident all played against the financial squeeze of the Great Depression. A completely compelling read!


This is a truly special book—well-written, gripping, a little bit fairy tale, a lot of historical fiction. Three children find a harmonica which is sort of good luck charm that sees them through their predicaments and eventually strings these separate stories together likes notes on sheet music. Fantastic!


What a wonderful book about resilience and hope. A 12-year-old girl must deal not only with the hardships of the Great Depression, but also with the fact that her father has been in a terrible accident. Soon a mysterious dog leads her to someone else who needs her help, someone who inspires her to use the natural world around her to bring hope and healing to the people who have carved a spot in her heart. This book is a celebration of life through nature and a spunky heroine named Ellie.


I loved this story that made me feel like I just stepped off the train right into the heart of the Pink City of Jaipur, India. I got absorbed in this foreign country set in against a vibrant background of rich colors, foods, traditions, superstitions, the caste system, and of course beautiful henna patterns! I was also excited about the recipes and extra information about India at the end. It’s like a total India immersion kit—makes it all the more satisfying and unforgettable!


Such a good book! An unwanted girl with a crippled foot is sent away to the British countryside with her brother during WWII. There, she learns to trust again when she finds people who truly care about her. Great book about overcoming adversity and good introduction to one aspect of WWII.


This book exceeded all my expectations—an exceptional memoir! A woman cobbles together her father’s enigmatic past to build a clear picture of the progression of restrictions and brutality against Jews in WWII. An astounding revelation of anguish and grasps of hope.


This historical fiction (based on true events) brings to light the medical experiments conducted on the prisoners of Ravensbrück, the all-female concentration camp in WWII Germany. A completely unnerving yet engrossing read!


Another breathtaking book by the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Based on true events, Cilka Klein survives 3 years in the notorious Auschwitz Concentration Camp during WWII and then, incredibly, goes from one nightmare to the next when the Russians accuse her of collaborating with the Germans and sentence her to 15 years of hard labor in a Siberian Gulag. Unimaginable! Unforgettable!


What a story! Based on true events, a young man in Italy leads Jews through the Alps to Switzerland during WWII. He later becomes a spy while working as a driver for a high-ranking German official. This book reads like an action-adventure. It’s a staggering portrayal of fortitude and heroism –with a nail-biting ending! Excellent.


A moving, well-written, important story that brings terrifying and heroic aspects of history to life. This is an absorbing read that alternates between 2 storylines: a Jewish boy who watches his world crumble when Hitler annexes Austria and a true-life Dutch heroine, Geertruida Wijsmuller, who puts her own life at risk over and over to transport children to the safety of London in the months leading to WWII. Very good book!


A monster book that is not so much creepy, but oh so funny!   I LOVED this book!  Although it’s marketed toward kids ages 8-12, ANYONE with a silly sense of humor will thoroughly enjoy it.   Keep this book in mind for a Christmas or birthday present, or just to make someone smile!


I blew right through this book! A highly interesting and entertaining insight into why Denmark is rated the happiest country despite having one of the highest taxes. Had a GREAT book club discussion on this book. Find out what hygge and princess sticks are. Informative and FUNNY!


What a pleasant surprise to discover that Tom Hanks isn’t just a great actor, he’s a good writer, too! His prose is sharp, intelligent, polished and his stories run the gamut from funny to thought-provoking—with one head-scratcher thrown in the mix. I can almost hear Tom’s voice in each story, many of them seeming to correlate to his movies or life as an actor. Write, Tom, Write!


Who knew a book about a library fire could be so interesting? I do now.  Susan Orlean’s account of the Central Los Angeles Library fire of 1986 which destroyed or damaged more than a million books, continuously meanders from the investigation and arson suspect to other book paths then back to the investigation. Her descriptive and captivating writing kept me turning page after page. In the end this, book is sure to ignite an appreciation of all libraries whether you’re a regular patron or not.


Professor Don Tillman is a brilliant, analytical, tightly wound man who, unfortunately, is socially inept and believes the best way to find a life partner is by creating a scientific survey to weed out all but the perfect candidates. A wrench is thrown into the mission when he forms a friendship with the totally unsuitable Rosie and it leads to pure laugh-out-loud fun. This book is one of those rare finds where I fell in love with it from page one, and so did my book club!


This book immediately shot up my list of favorites. Set on Guernsey Island in the English Channel in 1946, a quirky cast of characters recall their time during the German Occupation of WWII. Written with warmth and humor in a series of letters we discover pig farmers, phrenologists, and survivors of the German occupation. It was a fun book that I seemed to smile my way through despite the sad subject matter and hardships. My book club gave it an emphatic thumbs-up, “a must read” in my opinion!