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The Blackout Book Club

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Member Reviews

Set in the fictional town of Derby in Maine on the New England coast, Green gives us a sense of the fear and tension of living in a small coastal town on the Atlantic Coast. German U-boats were prominent in the Atlantic during the war. I had no appreciation of this aspect of WW2 that Americans lived in fear of invasion by the Germans, assuming the battle in the Atlantic was controlled by the ALLies.

Green gives us a charming story of a bookclub, established in the hope that the library owner won't proceed with her plan to shut the popular township library. The story is told through the eyes of 4 members of the club, all very different and wonderfully portrayed. Avis, the acting librarian, Ginny, a youngish outspoken character, Martina, an Italian-born wife in hiding from her husband, and Louise, the wealthy spinster who in fact owns the library. I enjoyed and appreciated each of the characters, their stories all fascinating and Green taking each through a journey.

The secondary characters are very good too. From Freddy, Louise's gardener who is hiding a significant secret, to Martina's two kids: Rosa and Gio, playful but useful to the story, and then Russell, Avis's husband and Patrick, Martina's estranged husband. All are well written and bring much to the story.

The BookClub reads some good books and I loved the addition of each meeting's notes that revealed not only what was discussed but aspects of each of our leading characters.

I didn't have any problem with the alternating POVs and in fact grabbed onto it very early on into the story. I wondered whether we needed the extra details of Louise's backstory by going back to the years of WW1 in Louise's POV. Yes, it gave us extra understanding of Louise's feelings towards her father, the love lost in a young relationship, and their impact on her as a middle-aged spinster. As a device, I found it a little distracting popping back in time only for Louise. In saying that, I really appreciated Green's portrayal of Louise and how she evolved through the story.

Overall, this is a delightful read and one I have no hesitation in recommending.

I was fortunate to receive an early ebook copy from Bethany House via NetGalley with no expectation of a favourable review.

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I feel like a lot of the historical fiction I have been reading lately is based on World War II and yet I haven't overlapped in stories. This book, The Blackout Book Club, was based in Derby, Maine a quaint little town on the eastern coast.. It's the story of four ladies who were the first attendees at the Blackout Book Club and each lady has things to work through, preconceived ideas about marriage, marriage gone awry, lost homes, and a general negative outlook on life. But as they reach out and toward each other and take in a few more people along the way, they learn to expose their secrets, to rise up and to enjoy life in a whole new way.

I also never thought about the fear that people living along the coast might have felt during the war. To me, the war was always in Europe, but that wasn't necessarily the case. A lot of ships were lost because the US coastline was lit up brightly making ships a clear target for u-boats and submarines. It was interesting reading about the US side of things during the war and how civilians played a part in protecting the coast.

"But what I learned from my mother is that giving and receiving love is the greatest risk and the greatest joy. Sometimes at the same time."

I really enjoyed this book and while there was a hint of romance in it, for the most part it was just a good story of a community learning to know each other, bond together and share secrets so they could work together to overcome.

I received this book from Bethany House via NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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This book was a stunning story of home front bravery during World War II. I loved seeing how the characters bonded over good literature and how they all grew to respect and care for others who were so different. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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As I book lover I appreciated a story about books, time period piece, and female protagonist. The Blackout Bookclub was a quiet and rare experience for a reader. #theblackoutbookclub #netgalley

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I was a little hesitant to pick this up when I did, as I'd just finished reading a dual-time novel set in WWI and WWII earlier this week. But, I wasn't really about to set aside a book by Amy Lynn Green just because of potential subject-matter overlap! She's an amazing author, and I had high expectations for _The Blackout Book Club_. (Not to mention, frankly, this could be just what I needed after the previous read--one I'd thought was inspy-fic and wasn't.)

_The Blackout Book Club_ was everything I hoped it would be, and more. Green absolutely hit a home run with this! I loved each of the characters, and she did a great job at weaving all of their stories together, as well as expertly managing multiple narrators--no easy feat. One or two is challenging enough; this one had four! (I'm resisting the urge to quote "Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition" here. Okay, not resisting that hard, because here we go: [Legolas] "Lembas bread. One small bite will fill the stomach of a grown man." [Merry, to Pippin] "How many did you eat?" [Pippin] "Four.")

I also enjoyed being introduced to so many different books. I knew of many of them, but only by name; this entirely inspired me to add some to my TBR list! (And yes, Green includes a list of all of them at the end--I checked before grabbing pen and paper.) P. G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie, in particular, stood out to me, and I got a good chuckle out of the book club's reading Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." No, indeed, definitely not a romance. Ha!

Fantastic book. 5/5 stars.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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"“Giving and receiving love is the greatest risk and the greatest joy.”

This is a book by another author that's new to me. I've been skimming book lists and favorites from friends, hoping to find some new favorites.

I'd heard a bit about Mrs. Green's books, but hadn't read any of her works until now. This book was ok, but had a few issues. The writing style wasn't bad, but was a bit slow for my taste. Overall, it just wasn't a great fit for my shelf, no offense to the author intended. :)

This is a World War 2 era book, but thankfully doesn't have any graphic violence or blood. This is written from the perspective of mainly women on the homefront, and depicts life for homemakers and the women who worked war effort jobs outside the home.

Content Issues:

One of the characters has a child out of wedlock. There are no inappropriate details given though.

There's a mention of the Brits scorning American soldiers as "Overpaid, overse*ed, and over here."
A soldier's mention of books from care packages being "more popular than pin-up girls.."

I received a complimentary e-book from the publisher and Netgalley, as well as a paperback copy through Interviews & Reviews. Thank you to the author as well. A positive review was not required of me, and the thoughts above are my own.

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One of my last reads of 2022, new to me author Amy Lynn Green writes about a small town during WW2.

This story begins with Avis as her brother goes off to fight in the war. He asks her to be head librarian in his absence, which is iconic as she isn't a reader. Then she goes that extra step and creates a book club. What a follows is a group of characters from different walks of life coming together.

There are a number of different povs here, each one with a story, secrets and personal conflicts. The narrative switched smoothly, making them all likeable and endearing. The historical part played out nicely, educational in terms of what happened along the coast of US during the war.

The Blackout Book Club is a story of friendship, books and self discovery. It was well written with some mystery, intrigue and bookish. The book club notes were a nice touch and yes it did cause me to purchase a couple and increased my tbr pile.

Definitely a book that will appeal to those that like bookish themed stories, historical fiction involving women and their roles during this time.

My thanks to Graf-Martin Communication for a print copy in exchange for a honest review.

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**Review publication date not set, should be posted in within two weeks***

Five people with busy, difficult lives find an oasis of friendship in their local library when they join The Blackout Bookclub. It’s a story about love, war, and the pleasureof discovering a good book.

When Avis’ librarian brother Anothony leaves town, he entrusts to her his position at The Cavendish Association Library. Not a big reader, nor a trained librarian like her sibling, her plan is simply to work as a placeholder until he can return.

So she is stunned and dismayed when Louise Cavendish, owner of the facility, decides to turn it into a nursery school for women working at a nearby factory. In desperation, Avis blurts out that she has already started a book club to encourage indoor activities during the blackout periods. Avis figures if the building is already being used to aid the war effort, there is no way the elderly owner will repurpose it. Ms. Cavendish demands to participate, and shy loner Avis is left scrambling for members. Fortunately, she does have one friend, Ginny. An extrovert who loves romance novels, Ginny is the perfect person to recruit participants. Avis dusts off her baking skills and makes treats for the crowd Ginny is sure to bring

Ginny brings Martina, a woman from work, who brings her two children. Louise originally scoffs at their low numbers, but it isn’t long before the crusty spinster finds herself thoroughly engaged in the conversations they have around the volumes they choose to peruse. Louise finds herself inviting her elderly housekeeper Delphine and her charming young gardener Freddy. A promotion by Avis at a town hall meeting soon increases attendance. As the core group grows closer, the issue of the nursery school looms ever larger on the horizon. The community is in desperate need of one, and there really isn’t any other available property. Will they be able to keep the building for its original bibliophilic use or will the needs of war strip them of this haven?

This novel deals with death and violence in warfare, as well as unplanned/unwed pregnancy, adoption and the turmoil of guilt and judgmentalism surrounding those issues. A verbally and emotionally abusive marriage and the difficulties of dealing with that in an era when women could not easily divorce is shown. The term Japs is used once to describe people from one of the Axis powers, which would have been historically accurate and would not have been considered much of a racial slur at the time. Avis at one point states that she couldn’t begin to “spell her last name” in regards to Italian immigrant Martina’s familial moniker, although she learns how by the next meeting. This little glitch seemed a touch racist but the group embracing and being supportive and helpful towards Martina and her two kids while much of the community was prejudiced against the little family was quite progressive for the period depicted.

The Blackout Bookclub is what I call a nightstand table novel - it’s interesting enough that you will enjoy reading a couple of chapters a night but not so riveting that you’ll stay up into the wee hours turning the pages. The pacing is slow and steady, and the plot is a simple look at how folks on the Maine coast lived during the war years.

Freddy, a former pilot discharged due to the loss of one of his eyes, is delightful - funny, kind, well-read, and insightful. Martina and her two children are well-drawn - the two kids aren’t perfect little cherubs but give their mom plenty of trouble, and the sweet, shy Martina faces the bigotry against Italians in the community with gentle strength and patience. In fact, those traits are what Martina utilizes to face all of the challenges life throws at her. Louise could be acerbic, and I questioned some of her decisions, but the author did a nice job of using her back story to make Louise both comprehensible and sympathetic. She was easily my favorite heroine due to her grit, heart for charity, and willingness to grow and learn.

Avis is one of our two primary heroines, but while I liked her overall, her tale had some flaws that occasionally made reading her story challenging. In fairness, it was natural for that time period that she was wrapped up in being a wife and her desire to become a mother. Her relationship with her husband Russell was far from a romantic one, however, and their marital struggles while realistic struck a discordant note in her portion of the narrative. I can’t quite put a finger on why this bothered me as much as it did, but I think it had something to do with the fact that I didn’t think they made a good couple. Russell simply wasn’t the man she needed and her brother Anthony seemed to have more emotional intimacy with Avis than her husband did.

Ginny is the biggest fly in the ointment narratively speaking. For the first part of the novel all she can think about is going back to the island she grew up on, a narrow strip of land off the coast of Maine that had been requisitioned for war use. She has no trouble swindling the folks around her for literal nickels and dimes that she can put in a jar and save up for the moment the conflict is over so she can make her dream a reality. We are given a back story for why this is necessary, but I found her obsession with her previous life irritating. Ginny is also immature and impetuous - some of her choices, such as the ones surrounding the car chase scene, would have been explicable only in a thirteen or fourteen-year-old. The mistake she makes towards the end of the book is costly and could have been handled in a manner that wouldn’t have disrupted her friend’s life so much. Ginny’s only redeeming virtue is her friendly exuberance but that lent to my mental image of her as an overenthusiastic puppy, fun for the first few moments and then exasperating after an hour or so. The puppy can be trained and Ginny will eventually mature but having her be the lynchpin to a story about the homefront where she is the romantic lead just didn’t work for me.

This is published by Bethany House which raises expectations of a strong Christian theology in the narrative, but the author handles this portion of her story with an extremely light hand. Mentions of praying the rosary, church attendance, and vague beliefs about God/Providence are sprinkled throughout the tale, but the primary theme is the value of friendship and the joy a good book brings.

Enthusiasts of women’s fiction novels about the WWII era are the folks most likely to enjoy The Blackout Bookclub. I would recommend it to those readers but don’t think it will appeal to a wider audience.

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This book was so touching. A time of second chances, love for community, and healing. Love the the friendship this community forms over books!

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My Thoughts:
The Blackout Book Club was another solid glimpse into the everyday life of America during WWII. One of the things I appreciate so much about Green is her ability to take lesser known facts and expound upon them in an entire novel.
The Blackout Book Club covered several different elements of the WWII homefront that I had never heard of before. This was certainly a highlight.
This story was a little slower and didn’t contain the strong tension that many WWII novels contain. But I loved watching the friendships evolve. The characters were realistic and grew at a steady pace.

Rating and Recommendations: I’m giving it 4 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or WWII Fiction.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own.

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Things I liked:
- Despite having a large cast of characters, their stories were interesting and different enough from each other that it was easy to keep track of them. I also appreciated how their stories intertwined.
- It was nice to read a book set in Maine! (Even if the town is fictitious).
- I loved the history! I was not familiar with any of it and it was quite fascinating (be sure to check out the authors note at the end).
- All of the book discussions were a treat!
- I appreciated the community that was created through the book club.
Things I didn’t:
- This was a rather sad book. Each character had something heart breaking, and though there were positive breakthroughs, I still finished the book feeling rather sad.
- There wasn’t much faith content.

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The Blackout Book Club is a wonderful story set within a small-town in Maine during WWII, celebrating the power of stories. Through their love of literature and the discussions and debates that accompanied the meetings of the Blackout Book Club, the members found their lives enriched and strong bonds of friendships forged.
Brimming with historical detail, Ms. Green's inclusion of the war and its affects on the home front provide a realistic backdrop to everyday life in Derby. Yet even though its effects could be felt from the weapons factory and the patrol of the coast for enemy U-Boats, its characters and their friendships formed through the bookclub are the main focus. I love this unique approach to a WWII novel because it represents the many citizens who carried on while their family members were away, fighting the war. Enjoyable read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher through Netgalley and was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Books have the power to bring people together and to change lives for the better. This book is a great example of this. In this book you meet four women from different walks of life and all grow into better people. The book was cute and the audio was good but for some reason I did not fall in love with the characters. I think maybe they were missing something in their backstory to draw us in more. I will say this was a good read just not something I will be picking up again.

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𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘊𝘭𝘶𝘣 was full of characters that each had their own extensive back story. It took me half the book to warm up to these characters. There were some humorous and touching moments, but each of their stories seemed disconnected and it was hard to feel invested in their lives. I did appreciate how their stories came together towards the end of the book. ⁣

The first half of the book was largely uneventful. This made it difficult for me to stay engaged, most of the drama happens in the second half of the story. ⁣

This book is categorized as historical fiction, but it felt more like women’s fiction to me. There were a few details about the war, but the story was primarily about the lives of the people in the book club and the small town of Derby. When I pick up historical fiction I like to learn historical facts or read stories based on real people.⁣

My favorite part of the book was the mission to save the library and it's role in the community.

Overall, I would give this book a solid three stars. You may enjoy this if you like books about books or women’s fiction.

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This book was full of details I had not realized really happened. The characters seemed to be real-to-life people. I did enjoy the romance in the book and the family in the book. At times I felt the story dragged on a little, but the details were needed for the reader to see the complete picture. I do plan to suggest this book to some of my patrons to read.

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I really enjoyed this WW2 era story. The characters each bring a great element to the story and their stories intersect to make a lovely read. I loved the bookish theme to the story and the book club that they form to help save their library. There were also a few surprises in the story, one of which I thought was perfect. All in all, this was a pretty perfect read for me. The story was excellent, it was well paced and a great ending. I highly recommend this one!

I received this book from the publisher and was not required to post a positive review. All my thoughts are my own.

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Secrets and romance make this a fabulous read! And I've always enjoyed WWII stories as well as book that include a bookclub, library, or writers. This one intrigued me just by the cover art and title, then the story pulled me in and didn't let go.

Thank you to net galley for my complimentary copy.

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The Blackout Book Club starts in January 1942, shortly after the USA joined World War Two

The novel centres around four women living in Maine. Avis Montgomery takes her brother’s job in the local library when he goes off to fight. She’s not a reader, and doesn’t see his fascination for books, but wants to do her bit to support the war effort. When the library’s owner, Miss Cavendish, says she plans to close the library, Avis comes up with the idea of a book club to help save the library for her brother’s sake.

Louise Cavendish is an older spinster, the owner and sponsor of the local library. But the library was her father’s passion, not hers, and she decides to turn the space into a day-care centre to care for the children of the women now working in the local foundry to support the war effort.

Ginny Atkins has lived her entire life in a fishing community on Long Island, Maine, the government buy out her family’s land to build a navy base. She finds work in the foundry in Derby, where she helps manufacture munitions.

Martina Bianchini leaves her home in Boston—and her gambler husband—and takes her children to Derby, where she also finds a job in the munitions factory.

There is also a historic timeline, which shows Miss Cavendish as a younger woman falling for the wrong man, one who works on her father’s estate.

I was very impressed by Amy Lynn Green’s first novel, Things We Didn’t Say. That was also set in World War Two. the story in Things We didn’t Say was shared entirely though letters, newspaper articles, and court reports, which made for an original and compelling story. The Blackout Book Club is told in a more traditional manner and I thought it lacked some of the freshness that made her first novel sparkle.

(Having said that, I recognise how difficult it must be to write a completely epistolary novel. Jean Webster is rightly famous for Daddy Long Legs – which inspired Dear Mr Knightly by Katharine Reay – but Dear Enemy, Webster’s other epistolary novel, isn’t nearly so good.)

Anyway, the four points of view in The Blackout Book Club were good but lacked the originality of Green’s first book. Unfortunately, the first was a hard act to follow, and I probably would have enjoyed this more if my expectations had been more realistic.

It probably didn’t help that Avis, the main character, was not a reader and didn’t want to work in the library. As a keen reader, I find that hard to related to, and Avis starting a book club bordered on ridiculous (although her motivation was solid: she wanted her brother to have the library to come home to). But, as the title suggests, the book club was the centre of the novel, which brought all the characters together. It also provided many of the best lines:

"The best [novels] might be about good and evil in fictional lands, but the were meant to help people recognize them in the real world."

I was particularly taken by the idea of modern mystery novel as a morality play:

"The modern detective mystery is just a new form of a medieval morality play ... right always prevails, wrong is punished, and the truth wins out in the end."

I suspect the same could be said of Christian fiction, especially Christian romance novels. I think these observations were my favourite part of the novel.

The writing was strong, the characters were interesting, and it showed some new-to-me aspects of World War Two history. Recommended for historical fiction fans.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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The Blackout Book Club is set in small-town Maine during World War II. Avis Montgomery accepts the position of Librarian when her brother, the permanent Librarian, goes off to war. She gets the idea to start a book club and faces immediate challenges. The book centers on four women in the club, all with different struggles, and the books they read are tied to their struggles in different ways.

I absolutely loved this look at homefront Maine during the war. The four women face such different challenges. Louise has a secret that she feels has ruined her life, Avis's husband is depressed after he is medically disqualified from going to war, Ginny's family home on Long Island has been taken by eminent domain, and Martina is hiding from a cruel and manipulative husband. The women's stories are told from varying points of view or through the wonderful epistolary work that Amy Lynn Green does so well. Whether it's letters from loved ones or book club minutes, it takes the book to the next level. The book club minutes are an absolute delight with funny observations as well as details about each book they read together.

This is a fresh look at the World War II homefront with great characters, a little humor, and even dashes of romance and mystery/thriller. Amy Lynn Green has delivered more wonderful historical fiction showcasing strong women. Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

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This book is about World War II on the home front, specifically Maine. The first meeting of the book club was almost an accident and not many people came. Over the time period of the book more and more people joined and they were quite an eclectic group. I almost made this a DNF but decided I needed to find out what happened to these people and how they survived rationing and blackouts. I am very glad I did. The author does a great job of describing the characters and their backgrounds as well as the happenings around them. I was pleased to read a WW II historical fiction book not set in Europe. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

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