Book Reviews Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – February 2024

February 16, 2024
What's on your bookshelf?

It’s time for the monthly What’s On your Bookshelf? link up for 2024! I’m looking forward to you sharing what you’ve read at our monthly link up co-hosted with my friends Deb from Deb’s World, Donna from Retirement Reflections and Jo from And Anways. Remember to check out what has been on their bookshelves as well.

February was busy for me as we were in the midst of renovating our bathrooms. As Mike and I were physically involved with the demolition and then project management, I found little time to read. My reviews cover books read in between January WOYBS? and February WOYBS? posts.

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – February 2024

52 Book Club Challenge 2024

During the month I managed to tick off a few prompts on the 52 Book Club Reading Challenge. Not all books I read will be prompts but it just worked out that way this month.

You can start the challenge at anytime so here is the link to find all the information about 2024 Reading Challenge – The 52 Book Club. Some of the prompts are definitely unusual however there are guides on both the 52 Book Club website and Goodreads to help you decided what books might be a good fit for the prompt.

Here are the prompts I’ve completed so far and I’ve reviewed some of them in this month’s post.

A mini challenge

In addition to the main 52 Book Club Challenge list, the group also has monthly mini challenges. It is all about encouraging reading and for February the challenge was to read three books. I’ve included the image and link to more details if you would like to take part. February 2024 Mini-Challenge

Did I take the challenge? Find out in next month’s WOYBS?

My favourite reads for the month

Closer by K.L. Slater – My rating ✭✭✭ (still worth a mention)

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Prompt #20 – A Revenge Story

I know my daughter better than I know myself and if there’s one thing I know for sure at this moment: it’s that Maisie is not ok.

My ex-husband Shaun and I are still friends. We would do anything for our beautiful little girl, Maisie. But now Shaun has moved in with Joanne and suddenly, Maisie has a brand new family. And there’s something not quite right about it…I know Joanne isn’t everything she says she is. Yet no-one will listen. I need to discover what she’s hiding. Because if I don’t, my daughter will be in terrible danger.

The most gripping psychological thriller you’ll read this year from the Kindle top five bestselling author K.L. Slater. If you love The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl, you’ll be absolutely hooked. (Goodreads)

My Review

This was the second book I’ve written by K.L. Slater. The first was BLINK which I reviewed in last month’s WOYBS? I had rated Blink a 5 star so decided to read more of K.L. Slater. Closer was my selection but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to expectations. A slow burn with a fiery finish is how I would describe Closer. It was slow to get going although the pace picked up halfway through the book and I was gripped by the end. i always enjoy a good twist and this book certainly ends that way.

Although I only gave it a 3 star rating I did enjoy the book and it is worth a read when you have time.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – My rating ✭✭✭✭✭

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Prompt #18 – 52 Book Club Challenge – ‘An Apostrophe in the title’

What's On Your Bookshelf? -February 2024 I'm Glad My Mom Died - Jennette McCurdy

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.

In I’m Glad My Mom Died , Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly , she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair. (Goodreads)

My Review

I had seen this book reviewed in several groups I belong to and had downloaded it some time ago but for some reason was reluctant to read it. Maybe it was the title? but I did read it and Wow! This book was not an easy read and stayed with me for some time. It is well written but at times I found the content difficult to read.

Living in Australia I had not heard of Jennette McCurdy or watched any of the television series or movies she starred in as a child actor. This did not diminish the impact the book had on me,

A biography, Jennette writes a candid story of her life growing up as a child actor and doesn’t hold back. Her Mother was the typical ‘backstage’ Mum who was a narcissist and over-possessive. At times her treatment of Jennette was child abuse.

Wow! I was totally engrossed in this book even though the content was not pleasant and a difficult read because of the subject matter. I haven’t heard of Jennette McCurdy a child actress who starred in Nickelodian productions but her story touched me deeply. Well written, candid and honest, McCurdy writes about her life and her over possessive, narcissistic Mother (who I found difficulty in finding any redeeming qualities).

This book delves into the relationship with her mother and her continual need to please her.

Battling Anorexia, Bulimia and other mental issues, relationships and therapy, this story is heartbreaking at times and yet there is some triumph at the end.

Jennette’s story is probably like many child actors who have parents living their dreams through them and wanting the dream more than the child. Heartbreaking yet stark in reality, this book stayed with me for quite some time after I finished.

I was engrossed in Jennette’s story and not once did I feel it was an ‘ I feel sorry for myself’ book. Honest, candid and shocking at times this book gets 5 stars from me and is well worth your time to read it.

The Woman at Number 19 by J.A. Baker – My rating ✮✮✮☆

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Prompt #14 – 52 Book Club Challenge – ‘A Grieving Character’

What's On Your Bookshelf? -February 2024 The Woman at Number 19 - J.A. Baker

Esther lost her husband, Julian, and her children, Harriet and Dexter, in a car accident and is struggling with her grief.

Spurred on by her own loneliness and a need to make amends for not being able to save her own children, Esther takes it upon herself to watch the woman who lives at number 19..

But when unexplainable incidents begin to happen in Esther’s house, she begins to fear for her own safety.

Meanwhile, over at number 19, the woman’s behaviour is becoming more explosive and unpredictable.

As Esther starts to lose her grip on reality, her world begins to unravel.

Just who is this strange woman at number 19? And why is Esther so obsessed with her? (Goodreads)

My Review

Esther is a woman grieving the loss of her husband and children in a car accident. She becomes intrigued and obsessed with a woman and her family who live across the road in Number 19. What develops is not what Esther could have imagined.

I enjoyed this book although I did predict the storyline early on and I did at times get frustrated with the main character. If you read The Woman at Number 19, hang in there because there are definitely some unexpected twists that develop. I found at times the storyline dragged but it held my interest enough to keep going. I wasn’t disappointed.

My rating is 3.5 stars mainly because I had worked out the plot so early.

Whispers on Main Street by Marie O’Connor- My rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Cozy Crime
Prompt #24 – 52 Book Club Challenge – ‘A Cover wthout people on it’

What's On Your Bookshelf? -February 2024 Whispers on Main Street - Marie O'Connor

‘Fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club Series and Graham Norton will love this.

‘A small town’s gossip turns deadly, unravelling a web of secrets in 1961 Ballantur.

Nate Wheatley runs a mobile grocery shop for the countryside around the town of Ballantur. He isn’t a mere purveyor of goods – his service is the lifeblood of communication between the isolated farms and villages. Nate loves to gossip and relishes his role as the town’s unofficial newsman, weaving tales from one doorstep to the next.

One night Nate’s wife, Babs, is publically caught in a passionate embrace with the local postman, Sammy Joyce. This is also witnessed by an enraged Nate, who assaults and threatens Sammy.

As morning light breaks over Ballantur, Sammy’s lifeless body is discovered by the roadside – the victim of a seemingly random hit and run – or is it? Suddenly, Nate becomes the story he would love to tell about anyone else.

As the locals struggle with grief and suspicion, the town is torn asunder by harmful whispers that are making too much noise.

This makes life for the local gardaí impossible, especially for new bangharda, Caitlín Kennedy, as she and her colleagues strive to get to the truth. (Goodreads)

My Review

I was given an Advance Reader Copy of Whispers on Main Street by Marie O’Connor through Book Sirens and it was not what I expected. . We have a murder however most of the book is written around the back stories of the suspects. I enjoyed this approach rather than the normal murder mystery where you have a murder and then the investigation. The book really has several stories all woven together with a result that I was not expecting. Marie O’Connor has captured the essence of the Irish town of Ballantur and the characters who live there. Add to that the local gossip and ideas on who the murderer is and you have a very entertaining story. I’ve given a 4 star rating. This is a voluntary review

Current Reading or Listening

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – our Simply Stunning Book Club selection – I’ve now finished the book and will review next month.

Becoming by Michelle O’Bama – listening to the Audiobook

Well these are the books that have been on my bookshelf during the month, What’s been on yours? I would love you to share with me your recommendations.

Dates for the Diary

The What’s On Your Bookshelf? Link Up dates for 2024 are listed below. Make a note in your diary as a reminder as we would love to have you join us.

The link for What’s On Your Bookshelf (WOYBS) is open on the third Friday of each month at 8 am (AEST) – that makes it sometime on the third Thursday of each month if you’re in the northern hemisphere…

• January 18/19,
• February 15/16,
• March 14/15,
• April 18/19
• May 16/17,
• June 20/21,
• July 18/19,
• August 15/16
• September 19/20,
• October 17/18,
• November 21/22
• December 19/20.

Happy reading and remember to pop over to read what books have been on my co-hosts shelves.

The next #WOYBS will be Thursday March 14/Friday March 15. I’m looking forward to seeing and reading What’s Been on your Bookshelf? during the month.

Sue Loncaric

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  • Reply Thistles and Kiwis February 16, 2024 at 10:11

    I’ve never heard of Jennette McCurdy either but the book does sound interesting.

  • Reply Retirement Reflections February 16, 2024 at 10:12

    Hi, Sue – You’ve managed to read several great books despite all of your recent work on your bathroom renovations. Very impressive! I never understand how you do it all. 😀 Your reviews are excellent! I’ve also finished reading Tale of Two Cities (book club breach, I know) and Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming.’ Once I got into it, I absolutely LOVED TOTCs. Sadly I read ‘Becoming’ when it was still surrounded by much hype. Although I liked it, I didn’t love it as much as the hype suggested I would! <3

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:48

      Hi Donna, I’m not really enjoying ‘Becoming’. I’m about half way through and hope that it starts picking up otherwise it might end up on my DNF pile. Thank you for your supportive words about my reviews. I greatly appreciate your comments. x

  • Reply Joanne February 16, 2024 at 11:05

    I find at the start of the year I can fit most any book I read into one of the prompt categories too but by mid- year I am only fitting in one or two as the prompts start to fill up. I found Jeanette’s book to be rather gripping and oh so sad and upsetting too. I listened to the audiobook that she narrates herself and somehow that made the story seem even more real to me. My boys watched ICarly growing up so I knew of her acting and her main roll and was listening at a time the ICarly reboot was airing and I had wondered why she wasn’t in it (and then I listened and completely understood!).

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:51

      Hi Joanne, I can imagine the audio would be more emotional to listen to than reading the book. She certainly had a tough childhood like many other child actors. It is so sad really because they don’t really get to enjoy their childhood, do they? x

  • Reply marsha57 February 16, 2024 at 14:04

    Oh, the book by Jennette McCurdy was a tough one. I read it last year and was so saddened, shocked, and just sickened by the way this poor girl was treated by her mother. I do hope she has been able to come to peace with her childhood and live a better life. It was definitely hard to read.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:51

      It certainly was a tough one, Marsha and the story of her life stayed with me for quite some time after I had finished the book. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones February 16, 2024 at 14:41

    I loved reading your reviews Sue. I’ve been thinking about reading I’m Glad My Mum Died, but not sure if I could handle it. I enjoyed seeing the books that you’ve matched to the prompts. Sounds like you’re enjoying the challenge.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:52

      Thanks so much, Jen. I never think that I’m very good at writing reviews but I try. ‘I’m Glad My Mum Died’ is certainly an emotional rollercoaster but is well worth the read. x

  • Reply Cathy February 16, 2024 at 15:38

    lol even with all the points and nudges I still haven’t mastered the trick of matching books with prompts – I do enjoy seeing how others have managed though. And this year there’s seems to be many who take part in this link up who are doing so
    At least I can benefit by deciding which of those books featured to add to my TBR list – which is growing by the day
    Whispers on Mai Street will be one!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:53

      I think you would really enjoy Whispers on Main Street, Cathy. My TBR list is growing too and I now just need some time to read them all! x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee February 16, 2024 at 16:02

    I’ve heard good things about that book – I also don’t know her but now you’ve made me think that doesn’t matter….will check out. #WOYBS

    • Reply Gail Is This Mutton February 17, 2024 at 17:30

      I’m tempted by the Jeanette McCurdy but it sounds a bit heart breaking! Surprised I didn’t know about the KL Slater but sounds as if it was bit so-so. I like the sound of the Woman at No 19.

      • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 17:00

        Hi Gail, Woman at No. 19 was surprisingly good but yes, I was a little disappointed in Closer. I’m still a K.L. Slater fan though so will be looking at some of her other book to read. The Jeanette McCurdy is quite a disturbing book and it stayed with me for some time after I had finished.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:54

      Hi Lydia, it is a harrowing read and well worth it. You certainly don’t have to know Jeanette, I didn’t but here story is pretty full on. x

  • Reply Bernie February 17, 2024 at 06:28

    I live in North America and have never heard of that child actor or seen her shows! Sounds like a harsh life and difficult book to read. I didn’t even read the thriller book reivews as I just can’t do that genre and sleep at night! Bernie

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:56

      It certainly was a difficult read, Bernie. I can’t imagine what child actors go through because of their parents and other adults. It really is a form of child abuse. x

  • Reply Jo February 17, 2024 at 07:23

    Whispers on Main Street sounds like something I’d love so will keep my eye out for. The tagline on Closer alo appeals to me … A great batch of books this month!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:57

      You would love Whispers on Main Street, Jo. x

  • Reply Natalie February 17, 2024 at 10:59

    Hi Sue, I enjoyed reading your book reviews. I think I’d enjoy Whispers on Main Street. I read and enjoyed Becoming by Michelle Obama. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:58

      Hi Natalie, Whispers on Main Street is a delightful book and I’m sure you would enjoy it. x

  • Reply Marsha February 17, 2024 at 11:15

    I live in North America and I haven’t heard of McCurdy either, but the book sounds fabulous. You write great reviews, Sue. I could read any of those books, but where do you find the time?

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 16:59

      Hi Marsha, thank you for your comment about my reviews as I’m never really confident writing them. I read most days, mainly in the afternoon. It is one of my passions. x

  • Reply Debbie February 17, 2024 at 18:04

    Hi Sue, you have written some great reviews, I love your honesty when you discuss the books you’ve read. I am enjoying seeing what others like you are using for various prompts and am quite liking the challenge – although it is more time consuming in some ways than just picking up a book and reading it. This is also good because it means I’m thinking more about the book, why I’m reading it and and putting effort into the challenge as a result. I’m so glad I’ve got you and others to steer me in the right direction on it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 17:01

      Thanks, Deb! I’m never confident writing reviews but I do like to be honest in what I say. I admire anyone who writes a book so I don’t like being too negative but there is not point saying you love a book when it was just ‘so, so’. I’m pleased you are enjoying the challenge. It adds a different dimension to just reading the book.

  • Reply Writing Sparkle February 18, 2024 at 02:06

    I was just visiting Jennifer’s virtual coffee post and she’s participating in the 52-book challenge too. Looks like some great titles. I like your chart for tracking what you’ve read.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 17:03

      There are quite a few of us doing the challenge. I found out about it from Jennifer and participated last year for the first time. I really enjoyed it so am back for another year. Thanks for visiting and have a lovely week. x

  • Reply Deborah February 18, 2024 at 11:58

    I think I’d like Whispers on Main Street and the Woman at Number 19 – they sound like my kind of books, along with Closer.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 18, 2024 at 17:04

      Hi Deb, they are all different but I enjoyed each one and I’m sure you would too. Easy reads especially Whispers on Main Street which was delightful. x

  • Reply Daenel Vaughn-Tucker February 18, 2024 at 22:48

    I’ve seen the Woman at Number 19 on several lists and have been intrigued. I’m a psychological thriller fan and enjoyed your reviews.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2024 at 04:22

      I’m sure you would enjoy Woman at Number 19, Daenel. I’m also a fan of psychological thrillers.

  • Reply Janine February 19, 2024 at 19:07

    Hi Sue, the Woman at No 19 and Closer both sound interesting books to me. Not sure about I’m glad my mother died – the title is rather off putting.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 20, 2024 at 08:08

      Yes the title wasn’t a great choice, Janine but having read the book I sort of understand. I still don’t like the title though. I’m sure you will enjoy Woman at No 19.

  • Reply Julie February 23, 2024 at 16:39

    I read McCurdy’s memoir. I never saw her shows because I already too old — I was already in college. Her memoir was eye-opening because this is an extreme example of what child actors have go through. Growing up in LA, I knew classmates who did acting but it was cut short because they want to focus on traditional school. Some pursued it again as adults after finishing school.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 25, 2024 at 10:35

      It was a very emotional book, Julie but I found it fascinating at the same time. x

  • Reply Lisa R. Howeler March 1, 2024 at 09:26

    I want to read Jeannette’s book but I also don’t. There’s a lot of hard stuff in there from what I hear. It’s amazing she came out alive, honestly. The other books looked good as well. Hope you are having a good week.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 1, 2024 at 10:48

      I found Jeannette’s book a very difficult read, Lisa but I certainly was glad I read it. Have a lovely week and thanks for stopping by x

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