I like choosing my next book based on my mood. Do I want an engrossing YA book? A long epic tale? A classic? An intriguing Science Fiction story?

This spring I needed a lighter book to take a break from all my dark Science Fiction novels. Everything I wanted from the library was already checked out. Nothing on my personal shelves sounded good. Then a friend recommended NetGalley. NetGalley is a site where I get an advanced reader copy (ARC) or a galley book in exchange for a review. Not a bad gig. Galley books are a gamble, because there aren’t many reviews to see if I will like a book or not. All I have to go on is a cover and little synopsis. This spring I read two netgalley books and thankfully I liked them both.

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Here is my disclosure statement: I received these two books for free in exchange for my honest opinion. I’m a Candor at heart and I can’t lie.

Both RADIO GIRLS and THE MEMORY OF US take place around England in 1920s and 1930s, so I thought it would be appropriate to review them together. I think having Big Ben on both covers got me. I love stories set in London. One story focuses on a woman in a professional setting and the other focuses on a romantic relationship. Both stories are hindered by political circumstances and society’s limited roles for women. I don’t want to give too much away and spoil the stories.

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RADIO GIRLS by Sarah-Jane Stratford

I was looking for a good Historical Fiction novel when I saw this beautiful cover and interesting story. RADIO GIRLS certainly rekindled my joy for Historical Fiction. Late 1920s London after WWI is a fascinating window into the history of the BBC. We know what’s going to hit London in 1940, but the characters can’t see the future.

The story of Maisie and the other characters feels like Mad Men meets Mr. Selfridge. I would even say RADIO GIRLS could have been set in the seventh or eighth season of Downton Abbey if Edith went into radio.

I enjoyed the book very much and finished it within a week. Maisie is a strong character. I appreciated her generous appetite. Everyone else adds their own spice into the mix. I enjoyed the fast and snappy dialogue. I also appreciated how the male relationships weren’t the sole focus of the novel. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was intriguing to see some of the struggles of women in 1920s London.

There were a few parts when it felt like the story wasn’t moving, but when things got going I couldn’t put it down. Be sure to read all the way through the very end. Some of the best bits are in the back.

Definitely giving this one two thumbs up and recommending it! There are also book club questions listed in the back which definitely help book club leaders.

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THE MEMORY OF US by Camille Di Maio

I requested this book for two reasons. First the cover of the book is so pretty. Second, the author is a homeschool mom in San Antonio, Texas. I’m also a homeschooling mom in San Antonio, Texas and I want to support a local author.
The Memory of Us begins in 1930s England with a young debutant, Julianne Westcott, who doesn’t ignore reality, but also wants to follow her heart. I think readers who enjoyed Colm Toibin’s BROOKLYN will also enjoy this romantic tale.

The book has a Catholicism theme, but it’s reminiscent of Jane Austen using clergymen in her stories. I liked looking at the Catholic aspects through Julianne’s perspective, because I’m not Catholic and have only attended mass a few times. The balance of the church and priesthood with the overall story was done very well.

The book is romantic without being gross or bawdy. So if you are looking for a book with heart and intrigue while being clean then I would definitely recommend this one!

The book starts in the middle of the story. The mystery of what happens keeps you turning pages until very end. This book would be nice summery read.

What is your favorite book set in London? What is your favorite city to read about?