Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

What’s On Your Bookshelf? February Edition

February 17, 2023
What's On your Bookshelf?

It’s time for the What’s On your Bookshelf? link up! 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.

I’ve been much slower reading over the last month. Life has been busy and I’ve had to use my TIME in other areas. I’ve missed my leisurely reading that developed over the holiday period.

My Book of the Month – The Paris Secret, Natasha Lester

The Paris Secret is my Book of the Month and I’ve included my Goodreads review below. It also satisfied Prompt # 11 – A Book About Secrets for the 52 Book Club Reading Challenge I am undertaking in 2023.

The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

Sometimes a book comes along and it makes me go WOW! That is how I felt reading The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester. The book is set in two eras – WWII and 2012. At first I wondered why there was a need to have the present day as the story from the ‘40s was interesting enough. However, I was proven wrong. Natasha Lester has woven the 1940s story with the 2012 story so well and in particular it made so much sense as I kept reading. I was certainly not expecting the twists and turns.

Skye Penrose lives in idyllic Cornwall, with her sister Liberty. She learned to fly as a child, taught by her mother. As a child, she becomes friends with Nicholas Crawford and they are unseparable for several years until he moves back to the USA. Will they meet again? Skye joins the war effort as a pilot delivering planes to airfields for the RAF.

Kat is an Australian Fashion Conservator , divorced with two young daughters, on the trail to find out why her Grandmother owns so many Christian Dior designer clothes dating back to just after the War. What she learns is more than just a dress and it’s origins – but does she want to know? Kat learns about the courage of Women in WWII, lost love and how sometimes we really don’t know the backstory to our loved ones.
A beautifully written book and one I would rate definitely more than 5 stars. I will definitely be reading more of Natasha Lester’s work.

52 Book Club Reading Challenge

In my last What’s On Your Bookshelf? post, I wrote about discovering the 52 Book Club Reading Challenge through my good blogging friend, Jennifer from Next Phase in Fitness.

They have a cool graphic where you can add the covers of the books you’ve read for each prompt. I will update this each month. It’s been great also being part of the Instagram and Facebook group and discovering what others are reading for the various prompts.

This month I’ve managed to tick off another 6 books. I don’t want to get caught up trying to race through books just so I can tick them off the list. I’m pacing myself and enjoying the books I’m reading. Like many, I’ve started with easier prompts and it is interesting reading the comments in the 52 Book Club Facebook Group. Readers share what they are reading for the prompts and there is so much variety. I’m enjoying the conversations and discovering authors and books new to me.

This is my updated image which includes the books read so far this year. I will update each month and there is a little thrill of satisfaction as I see more book covers added.

Prompt #3 ‘Title starting with the letter ‘I” – It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover – My rating ★★★★★

This was my first Colleen Hoover book and it was recommended to me by my daughter. Although the subject matter is confronting, I could not put this book down and will definitely be reading more of Colleen Hoover’s work.

Lily’s childhood was not easy, a father who physically and verbally abused her mother and her mother who would not leave. At 15 Lily meets Atlas, a senior at her school and her first love. Atlas has been forced to leave home and live in an abandoned house at the back of Lily’s house and Lily helps by providing food and showers whilst her parents are not home.

After graduating, Lily moves to Boston where she meets Ryle, a neurosurgeon but who is wary of commitment and relationships longer than one night, until Lily.

This book had me hooked and was not what I expected . It’s about toxic relationships, how we deal with them and why sometimes you need to break the cycle.

Prompt # 10 – Takes place during the Roaring Twenties -Natasha Lester – My rating ★★★★

After reading The Paris Secret I knew I needed to read more of Natasha Lester’s work. A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald was an excellent choice and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Set in the 1920s Evie Lockhart is a young woman who has big dreams. The only problem is she is supposed to be preparing herself for a life, like her mother – marriage and children and society parties. She is supposed to conform to societal standards.

Not content with the view of her future, Evie finds the courage to follow her path despite the many obstacles in her way. She is strong, fearless and constantly battles mysogyny, a judgmental society and yet she continues on.

I loved Evie’s determination against all odds, her love for Upper East Side Banker, Thomas Whitman which is strong enough to walk away from if she has to.

Prompt #11 A book about secrets – The Paris Secret which I’ve written about above. – My rating ★★★★★

The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

Prompt # 20 – ‘A Book About Siblings’ – The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth – My rating ★★★★

Do we really know what happens in our neighbours lives behind closed doors? Do we even know our family? The Family Next Door is about secrets, and one you won’t see coming. I enjoyed Sally Hepworth’s book The Mother but I enjoyed The Family Next Door more. Set in the perfect neighbourhood of Pleasant Court – all is not as pleasant as it seems.

Prompt #26 – ‘Has an Epilogue’ – Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis – My rating ★★★

Life isn’t great for Emmie Blue – a mother who is often not around, a father she has never met or even knows his name, bullies at school and a big secret which she can’t share with anyone. One day Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email and the secret she has kept hidden. The Balloon is found in France and a friendship develops. All is not as it seems though and sometimes you are looking for love in all the wrong places. I enjoyed this book . It was easy to read and perfect for the holidays. A good beach read.

Prompt #50 ‘Related to Murder’ – The Menopause Murders by Mary Maloney & Ed Markel My rating – ★★✰

The Menopause Murders was an Advanced Readers Copy through BookSirens and for me I could only rate 2.5 stars. Menopause affects women in different ways but Debbie Dickerson has a sinister way of coping. Unhappily married to Jerry, a dectective, unhappy with life, arrogant and insensitive, and a mother to ungrateful (but normal) teenagers, Debbie cannot understand what is happening to her and her body and wonders what happened to the young woman with artistic flair.

A visit to the doctor soon confirms menopause and an answer to the symptoms, Debbie has been experiencing but also highlights the complete lack understanding and compassion served with a liberal does of condescension from her GP and the world in general. Can’t they see what she is going through? The book covers all aspects of menopause including treatments available which I applaud as we just don’t talk about this subject enough. It is a huge stage of a woman’s life. However, the message was lost in the story which although was meant to be a humorous take on how women feel during menopause, it fell short of the mark. Or maybe I don’t get that type of humour.

The Cookbook Confidential Book Club

Recently, I joined a new online Book Club with a difference. The Cookbook Confidential Book Club is hosted by Bernadette from New Classic Recipes. Each month, book club members read the same cookbook. We then each prepare one of the recipes, share it and include a review of the book. To keep it easy (and affordable), the cookbooks chosen are ones that are readily available from our public libraries.

Milk Street Tuesday Nights Mediterranean Book

Our first Cookbook selection is Chris Kimball’s Milk Street Tuesday Night’s Mediterranean. I had not heard of Chris Kimball or the Milk Street recipes so I googled Chris Kimball to find out more. I actually couldn’t find a copy at my library, however, I did find a sample view on Amazon which included a few recipes that I could try. As my selection in the sample was limited I chose the Spicy Ground Beef Kebabs with Tomato-Sumac Sauce. It sounded tasty and used some flavours which again, I had not used or heard of. I made it for our second Home Restaurant Date Nights and it was a hit!

Please visit Bernadette’s website towards the end of the month to check out the full recipe and my cookbook review, as well as the recipes and reviews of other members.

Well that’s what has been on my bookshelf during the month, What’s been on yours? I would love you to share with me.

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

Sue Loncaric

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33 Comments

  • Reply Debbie February 17, 2023 at 08:16

    Thanks Sue, you have introduced me to some great books here and I love your 52 book challenge, you’ve picked some great titles and managed to tick off quite a few already! I’ll be looking for some of Natasha Lester’s books after your great reviews. I always look forward to our WOYBS posts!

  • Reply Retirement Reflections February 17, 2023 at 08:26

    Hi, Sue – You are a fabulous reviewer. I especially like your review of The Paris Secret. Your post brilliantly captures its strong appeal.
    I look forward to continuing to follow your 52 Book Club’s Reading Challenge. Emma fits on the challenge (book with a dedication — Emma was dedicated to the Prince Regent). Tuesday Nights Mediterranean also fits in the challenge (book with a subtitle – 125 Simple Weeknight Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine).
    Thank you for the reading recommendations – I greatly appreciate them.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 17, 2023 at 08:40

      Thanks for the compliment, Donna and also some prompt recommendations! xx

  • Reply Joanne February 17, 2023 at 10:39

    So many fun books! I’ve been working my way through the 52 book challenge too; but I’ve also been reading lots of books that don’t fit any of the prompts. I see a few you’ve read that I want to check out already.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:17

      Hi Joanne, I’m the same as you re the 52 Book challenge. I’m reading outside of the prompts but I’m also enjoying finding books to fit the prompts and moving out of my usual genres. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones February 17, 2023 at 17:29

    Hi Sue, I read The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth and really enjoyed it. Thanks to your positive review of the family next door, I’ve just ordered it from Amazon. I’ve seen The Paris Secret on social media and it sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’ve read many books on WW1 and 2 so wasn’t sure if it would be a bit of the same. Your review of this book is really great so I’ve ordered it also. This is why I love Whats On Your Bookshelf!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:19

      Hi Jen, I really enjoy WW2 books but usually they are all relating to Britain. The Paris Secret covered both and I really enjoyed it. I love the What’s On your Bookshelf? link up too – I find so many new authors. x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:20

      Hi Alison, I’m popping over to take a read of your post. x

  • Reply Bernadette February 17, 2023 at 21:19

    Hi Sue, Thanks for the great review of The Paris Secret. It sounds like a good book to take on vacation. In addition to reading cookbooks, I am reading In Plain View, The Daily Lives of Amish Women, by Judy Stavisky. It is a fascinating and gentle look into the lives of Amish women.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:20

      Hi Bernadette, In Plain View sounds like an interesting read so thank you for the recommendation.x

  • Reply Gail Is This Mutton February 17, 2023 at 23:58

    I love the sound of The Paris Secret. The 52 Club Challenge looks fun! One thing I’ve discovered on NetGalley is that ARCs you’re reading are not always on offer here in the UK. They’re probably published at different times. Shame!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:22

      I’m sure you would enjoy The Paris Secret, Gail as you love fashion and that is a theme throughout the book. I don’t often read ARCs so I’m not sure when they are on offer and where. x

  • Reply Carol @ Reading Ladies February 18, 2023 at 04:50

    I love WOW books! Automatic 5 stars for me!

  • Reply Jo February 18, 2023 at 05:57

    Your reviews are always so thoughtful. I’ve read the Natasha Lesters you mention – A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald was the first I read. I’m really beginning to believe that I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t read any Colleen Hoover. Sally Hepworth’s The Family Next Door is on my TBR list. Another fab
    post!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:23

      Thank you Jo. I had never heard of Colleen Hoover until Rachel suggested ‘It Ends with Us’. Apparently she has written several books. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee February 18, 2023 at 07:40

    I’m sorry to hear it’s not good because the concept of the Menopause murders is brilliant. HA! Might read it anyway….

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:24

      Hi Lydia, you might get a laugh out of it and perhaps I wasn’t in a receptive mood for the humour. I would give it a try anyway if you can get it through the library. x

  • Reply Alison February 18, 2023 at 11:41

    Hi Sue,
    I’ll be adding The Paris Secret to my list. Love the idea of the cookl book club. So you all make different recipes from the same book. Always looking for something different to cook for dinner.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:25

      Hi Alison, I’m sure you will enjoy The Paris Secret. The Cook Book Club is different that is for sure. Yes, we all select a recipe from the chosen book and then write a review of the book and the recipe.

      • Reply Alison February 19, 2023 at 14:26

        It’s a great idea and means you are not stuck cooking the same recipes over and over again
        Is it a virtual thing or do you live near each other

        • Reply Sue Loncaric February 20, 2023 at 06:27

          It is a virtual thing with bloggers. I can give you the details if you are interested x

          • Alison February 20, 2023 at 11:04

            Okay thanks I’ll take a look

  • Reply Janine February 19, 2023 at 06:01

    Hi Sue, your recommendations for Natasha Lester have me intrigued by her writing so I will be adding her to my book wish list. I love the cool graphic for your reading challenge. Thank you for sharing your reads

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:26

      Hi Janine, I hadn’t read any of Natasha Lester’s books before and have now read two and enjoyed both. I will be reading more of her work. x

  • Reply Toni Pike February 19, 2023 at 19:23

    What a great reading list, Sue x

  • Reply Janet Alcorn February 20, 2023 at 01:36

    The reading challenge sounds fun, and I love the graphic!

    It’s too bad The Menopause Murders was a disappointment, because I agree–we need to talk about menopause more, including in fiction. If you want a great nonfiction book about it, I highly recommend Dr. Jen Gunter’s The Menopause Manifesto.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 20, 2023 at 06:30

      It’s a great graphic that the 52 Bookclub people put together and I enjoy filling it in. The Menopause Murders was okay it just wasn’t my idea of humour but might appeal to others. Thanks for the recommendation of The Menopause Manifesto. x

  • Reply Julie February 21, 2023 at 15:02

    I’ve been seeing Colleen Hoover in a lot of Facebook Book club groups. I have yet to read any of her books. For the cookbook club I’m part of (and coleading), we did Chris Kimball’s “Milk Street: The World in a Skillet” and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. In fact today, I just made a pork stir fry for dinner!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2023 at 10:54

      Hi Julie, I had not heard of Colleen Hoover until my daughter showed me the book. I will be reading more of her work. The pork stir fry sounds delicious and I think the Milk Street books are very good. I might even treat myself to one. x

  • Reply OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com February 28, 2023 at 05:05

    I did a high school paper on F. Scott Fitzgerald so had to pin that book immediately. Sounds like something I would love. And The Paris Secret is also going on my to-read list. Thank you for the excellent suggestions. You are doing so well on your challenge. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 28, 2023 at 08:28

      Hi Leslie, I’m trying not to read just to achieve the challenge but rather enjoy the process. Most of the books so far I would have read anyway but there are a few prompts which will challenge me and that’s a good thing. xx

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