Cover Image: The Secret Book Club

The Secret Book Club

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Member Reviews

The setting of this bookish story felt so familiar and cosy to me from the first page. It offers diverse and quirky characters, and that small town community closeness. The premise of the underground book club - and the themes (!!) - I absolutely loved it and I want to be a part of it immediately. I also enjoyed seeing Maggie find her purpose. I did end the book wanting a little more from the romance, but that’s because it was so cute and I felt like it had a lot of potential. The Secret Book Club is a story of heart, sincerity and lots of mischief.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about books or bookstores, for those looking for a light and feel-good story, and for lovers of small town community spirit.

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This was such a fun small town story! I love a story that is focused around books and characters who love them as much as I do! Overall, this was such a sweet story with some fun sercets to discover along the way! A fun and light little read that I would reccomned to any book lover!

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The Secret Book Club unfolds as a heartwarming tale centred around community, camaraderie, and personal growth. Maggie, the protagonist, embarks on a quest to discover her purpose in life after facing what she perceives as a series of setbacks.

Securing a job at her friend's bookstore during maternity leave, Maggie may not boast an avid love for books, but she possesses a deep passion for people and community, injecting a fresh vitality into the town of Bell River.

The novel delves into the universal experience of feeling adrift in the pursuit of self-discovery and the establishment of a meaningful life—a relatable journey for many young individuals. Seamlessly blending emotional depth with a compelling plot, the story captivates from the outset, skillfully navigating the intricate terrain of personal exploration. As Maggie's narrative unfolds, readers are drawn into the emotional nuances that beautifully propel the book forward, leaving me hooked from the very beginning.

This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and I would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.


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A book about books set in a bookshop - what more could a girl ask for ? Full of literary references, this is a fun lighthearted read. Maggie had a good heart and everything she does is with good intentions even if not everyone sees it that way. The idea of the underground bookclub grabbed me immediately- to be told what to or not to read really wind me up so I applauded her attempts at the bookshop, and really enjoyed the community feel to the story.

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Maggie Banks gets asked by her best friend Rochelle to run her bookstore in Bell River for her while she is out on maternity leave. Maggie was excited to help out, until she realizes the store is a place that refuses to let her sell anything written this century. It was bad enough that everything about the entire town is centered around the author that the town was named after. But, to have a bookstore who only sells classics, and then, only classics before 1968? Maggie has never been one for rule following, and so after one too many run-ins with the head of the literary society, Maggie decides to take matters into her own hands. She starts an underground book club - selling "forbidden" books and holding meetings out of the back room. The problem is, nothing can stay a secret forever....

This book started out as a REALLY slow burn. I actually started to put it down a couple of times, but I am glad now I pushed through, because the pace did pick up, and I did start to enjoy it more. I am of two minds about Maggie though - I really like how she bucked tradition and started the secret book club, and brought a lot of the townspeople together, but then she did a few morally questionable things (like using Malcolm's key card for one). I really like her and Malcolm together. They were a bit of an odd couple, and she was what he needed to loosen him up. Ralph was one of those characters you loved to hate - actually anyone in the town who was a rabid Edward Bell enthusiast makes that list. I could never live in a place like that, that is for sure. Overall this is a solid read, good for anyone who loves a good rom-com.

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Thank you @onemorechapterhc for my gifted ebook. My thoughts are my own.

Maggie Banks takes over running a bookstore for a friend; I mean, how hard can that be? But there is one problem…she is not allowed to sell anything written in this century!

What a fun read this was! Once I started, I couldn’t put it down! I really enjoyed the storyline, the quirky characters, the bookstore atmosphere, and the s.l.o.w. -burn romance. Read this if you love:

*Heartwarming Reads
*Slow-Burn Romance

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I received an ARC edition for review from NetGalley.
What can I say, Shauna Robinson took my love of books, my love of historical fiction and my love of romance and drama and mashed them all together in this adorable and fun book. I appreciated the effort into developing characters that had some quirks and making them feel ever so endearing. Somehow Malcolm and Vernon became my favorite even knowing in real life they’d both probably be underdogs.

In really enjoyed this story. My only critique is that I wish the ending was a little more elaborate. I turned the page and was surprised it was over. But perhaps that’s because I had so much fun reading it.

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This is an interesting, light and easy read which brings to fore the question we have all asked at some point- what makes a book a classic?

The Secret Book Club follows the adventures/ misadventures of unemployed Maggie, who takes over the running of a bookstore from her friend.

I love how relatable Maggie is ( her character is a sore subject). She doesn’t appear to have found her calling and she is simply herself.

I love the clandestine bookclub meetings and the idea behind it. Even though it is unbelievable that a town like Bell River exists today. I love the small town plot and the residents’ stories.

Besides, the obvious message in this book. There are other issues examined by the author- feminism, racial equality, book equality, plagiarism and so much more.

I did not think there was any spark/ romance/ chemistry between Malcom and Maggie. Also, the resolution to the crisis at the end felt a bit rushed.

If you love book about books, small town, cozy fiction then this is your book.

I received an advanced copy via Netgalley and the review is mine and voluntary.

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A book about books is bound to make me happy, and this one did exactly that.

"The Secret Book Club" is what I would describe as a wholesome story about community, friendship, and self-discovery.
It follows the protagonist, Maggie, who is on a journey to find her place in the world after what seems to her a lifetime of failure.
Maggie gets a job working at her friend's bookstore while her friend is on maternity leave.
A passion for books is not something Maggie can brag about, but one for people and community, and that is precisely what she brings to the town of Bell River.

The novel explores the feelings of being lost in figuring out what you want from yourself and the life you are trying to establish. It is a general and important experience for many young people.
It navigated through the emotional aspects of figuring it all out and was done so beautifully. It had me hooked from the beginning.

At times, keeping track of the endless number of small lies Maggie was starting to make up felt a little overwhelming. I am too anxious of a person not to be stressing out on her behalf while reading, but I think the confrontations were handled well in a mature manner. Every character in the book was part of why it worked out so well; they were mature and able to communicate, and how refreshing it is to read.

Overall, I think this was a highly enjoyable book, and you really cannot in good conscience turn down a book about books, can you?

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advanced reading copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I was provided a free advanced copy of this book from @netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Maggie Banks is not sure what she wants to do with her life. But when her friend asks for her to look after her book shop while she's on maternity leave, Maggie jumps at the chance to move out of her parents' house, even if for just a few months. But what she doesn't expect is to find a purpose, great friends, and maybe a man too! Set in a fictional town obsessed with a fictional author and his life and legacy. Maggie comes in and breathes new life to the community with fun and rule breaking!
One of the things that threw me on this was the back of the book, which starts with, "Maggie Banks loves books." But in the story itself... She does not! At least at the beginning. She learns to love how books can bring people together, and realizes there are a ton of genres and a book for everyone! That should have been on the back. A book about how someone learns to love books and the book community (which is a pretty awesome community if you ask me ☺️)!! I also questioned some of the choices Maggie made, and her choices to keep so much from her BFF.
Overall it still was a fun read! I loved the book events she hosted and wish they were real! I was so excited about a book/author in the story that I Googled them to see if they were real! 😂
It is set to be published today (UK), and already available in the U.S. with an alternate title, The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks.
#NetGalley #TheSecretBookClub #TheBannedBookshopOfMaggieBanks

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I was lucky enough to get invited to join a read along with One More Chapter for this fun bookish read. I really enjoyed the whole experience especially the WhatsApp group chat that went along with the read along, hearing everyone's opinions about the book and Maggie's situation.

I was kind of on the fence at times about Maggie as a main character. I really enjoyed her enthusiasm for creative thinking and finding ways to make a sometimes dull job more fun. She was excellent at bringing people together and creating a sense of community as well. I really felt for her though as she struggled against other people's expectations of her and feeling like a failure because she didn't follow a certain path. I didn't love how secretive she was especially when it came to her best friend, Rochelle and her possible new romantic interest, Malcolm. While the clever ways she thought of to create more business for her friend's bookstore were wonderful, it was hard to imagine that someone would cross all those lines or boundaries and just make the changes or put those plans into actions without discussing it first with the owner who was also her best friend. It felt like a real betrayal especially after her friend had been so supportive and kind by offering her the opportunity and had also made it so abundantly clear how tenuous the relationship with the co-owner of the bookstore was. I couldn't imagine keeping all of what she was hiding from a friend like that and Rochelle was so forgiving when she did find out about everything she had been hiding that I was shocked. I know I would have needed much more time to process all of that. When it came to Malcolm, I really loved how they were playful and flirty with each other while slowly opening up to each other. I could understand more why she would keep what she was up to from him considering his job and all but it felt like a bad way to start a relationship and especially icky when she used his key card.

I did love the small town of Bell River and all of the interesting characters that lived there. It felt like an idyllic setting filled with everything you could want like a farmer's market and local bakery with all the best treats. I loved Vernon, the grouchy upstairs neighbour. Maggie was able to melt his heart even just a little and his whole backstory was very cool. I always fall for the local curmudgeon it seems and Vernon is no exception.

As a booklover, I definitely appreciated all the references and really enjoyed the discussions had within the book about the value of all books and genres. I appreciated the take that classics could use a shake up and questioning what makes a classic a classic as well as conversations about diversifying your bookshelf. I love that in the end, Maggie found books that spoke to her and made her a reader and how she found ways to bring new life to the classics with her book club twists. Sounds like a really fun idea for sure!

I received an advanced ebook copy of this book through the read along with the publisher, One More Chapter and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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This was a great read.

I loved the semi mystery plot line and when the truth came out at the end it was so good

I loved the FMC and her slightly chaotic nature and how she brought fun to everything

I enjoyed the fact that despite the 3rd act having a lot of drama it all got sorted quickly and no one really held grudges making it a perfect feel good book as everything worked out good in the end

- small town
- FMC works at a bookshop in a town made famous by an author
- bipoc characters

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I wanted to read this book because, well it's a book about books. It was my first time reading this author and I was pleasantly surprised by this enjoyable story.

This is a fun and easy read with small town vibes, think cosy Hallmark type of town. I love all the characters, especially the MC, Maggie. The story is full of humour but important topics are woven in too which I like in this type of book.

The only downside was the ending felt a little rushed. I would have liked to have seen the conclusion a little more fleshed out.

Still an excellent read and one I would definitely recommend.

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I always love books about books. This was such a fun read, and I enjoyed it very much. Yes, there were loads of plot holes, and it's stretched the credibility to the max, but I still enjoyed it, and for a short while, I was able to join the characters in a secret book club. Highly entertaining and made the perfect beach/escape read.

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I loved the title of this book and hoped it would as good as it sounded. In fact, it was amazing. A lovely, cosy read for those winter nights. Thank you for the ARC.

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When Maggie Banks covers her friend's maternity leave at the bookstore in Bell River, she immediately falls foul of the president of the local literary society's strict rules. Trying to boost dwindling sales, she starts a secret book club. But when she unearths a secret about the town's esteemed author, it could throw the entire town's legacy into jeopardy.
There were parts of this book that I loved. I adored the community that Maggie was able to become part of (even clandestinely). I loved the camaraderie between the people who weren't fans of Edward Bell, of which Vernon, for me, was an unexpected highlight. And, I LOVED Maggie's idea for bookish evenings, and the literary mashups were hilarious.
I wasn't, however, entirely sure the romance worked very well, or was even necessary, as the story felt like it was more about Maggie's self-confidence and development. I didn't get any enemies-to-lovers vibes. It was more of an opposites attract, but with very few clashes. That said, what there was of them together was very sweet. I enjoyed their meetup at the book festival, but I was so sad that Maggie didn't invite him to TJ's evening, even though I understood why. Malcolm was lovely, if a little straight-laced, and I felt for him when Maggie's secrets came out. I found the fact that Rochelle, Maggie's best friend (and manager of the bookstore), was barely in it early on a bit odd. There was no dialogue between them after the initial introductions until over halfway (even though she was living with the family, and Rochelle's husband was mostly invisible. But I think the thing I struggled with most was that a small town could keep a bookstore running in this economy purely with old books and the legacy of some long-dead local author. Still, Maggie's first meeting with Ralph, the president of the Bell Society, was hilarious, even though he was an insufferable dictator, and the subterfuge added some amusing moments. What I think I loved the most, though, was the way Maggie discovered her own love of reading.
Books are for everyone, and no one should ever gatekeep which ones you can read!
Not perfect, but a fun, bookish read with a satisfying conclusion.

Overall Rating: ❤️❤️❤️.5

*Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to leave an honest review*

Favourite Quotes:

“Should I be offended that you’re recommending a children’s book to me?”
“You should be honored that I’m gonna lend you my favorite book in the world.”

“I like certain people.” His eyes locked on mine with enough significance to make something inside me flutter.
“I’m certain people?” I asked.
“You are.”

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I loved this story, it was light hearted, fun and fast paced. Maggie was such a quirky character and she drew me in from the beginning. I loved her enthusiasm and the fact that she thought she had no purpose but it was quite obvious from the beginning that she had found her purpose she just didn't know it!
Her love of people was infectious, I wanted to be a part of her army, it seemed like such a fantastic atmosphere to be a part of.

The side characters were great, Rochelle, Malcom, all the other business owners on Bell River, Vernon, the authors she met, all kept me interested. Even Ralph with his horrid attitude and bizarre ways entertained me.

This book drew me into Bell River, it made me want to visit this fictional town and try the apple cheese biscuits! I wanted to be a part of this bookish community and attend these underground events hosted by Maggie!

I highly recommend this book, not only because it is a book about the absolute joy that can be found in reading but that it highlights just how amazing the bookish community is. The town may be fictional but the ideas are not!

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I found this book incredibly easy to get into and once I started I had it read in no time. It is cute, funny and entertaining.

I loved the idea of an underground book club but found many things unrealistic and a stretch to the imagination. A non book reader who falls into the job of running a bookshop and then suddenly develops a big love of reading. A businessman so obsessed with his ancestor that he won't allow modern books to be sold in his bookshop to the extent that he is in danger of going bankrupt.
The local people who don't order their books online (or maybe they are all boycotting the zon) and resort to buying them secretly from a person who has one box of books? But hey, the story was really cute so I just went with it.
Malcolm and Maggie have a sweet friendship/romance and I enjoyed their game where they each have to read a book of the other's choosing and then go out for dinner to chat about it. However, their romance was a bit bland and not central to the story.

I loved the quirky characters in this strange little town and the friendships they created as they bonded over their secret book club. It was very entertaining to watch the book club thrive whilst trying to stay hidden from the bookshop's owner.
Everything gets resolved in the end in a sweet and uplifting way.

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I absolutely loved this novel, it was so hard to put down, I was just so invested in Maggie and I needed to find out what was happening next.

I loved Maggie's character, the realism of her was striking and her relationships with everyone was just lovely to see play out, especially with Vernon.

The way this novel is written is great, it creates a world that you can easily fall into, the whole creation around the Bell Society was fascinating in a way that I've not seen done in other novels. The rebellion of sorts played right into this and I was rooting for Maggie.

I really enjoyed reading this book and urge everyone else to pick up a copy

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This was such a nice read but I was expecting more.

This book had everything that I love in books but it did not catch my attention a lot.

I really enjoyed it but was not thinking about all the times like it happens for me with a book im obsessed with.

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