Book Reviews

What’s On Your Bookshelf? January 2022

January 21, 2022
What's on your bookshelf?

Happy New Year and welcome to our monthly What’s On Your Bookshelf? Link Party for January. which I co-host with my good friends and Online Book Club Members, Deb, Donna and Jo.

A new year, with new opportunities to read – bliss!

Don’t forget to copy the #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge contributor badge at the end of the post.

What I learned from the Goodreads Challenge in 2021

For the last couple of years I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge and it is a great way to motivate you to take time out of the busyness of live and lose yourself in a good book. So let’s get that straight – I’m in favour of the Goodreads Reading Challenge but perhaps not for me and definitely not for 2022.

The first year I blitzed it and riding high on my achievement I set my target for 2021. In hindsight a very unrealistic target and one that I didn’t achieve. I remember at the time my good friend, Donna (one of our co-hosts), suggested that she likes to take her time reading books to absorb them so she wasn’t inclined to set a goal, or if she did it was a modest number. Now, ‘goal-focused’ me didn’t take this advice and so I set my goal and off I went into 2021.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I failed miserably with my ‘target’ but that’s okay. For me, not reaching the number of books I had challenged myself to read, was a great learning experience. In hindsight I have learned:

  • That the challenge for me had put the focus on reading a set number of books and it became Quantity not Quality.
  • I had raced through books, ticking off another book read for my challenge and yet not really appreciating what I was reading. In fact, when I look back I don’t even remember the characters or storyline of some of the books.
  • There were books I didn’t even want to finish but ‘wasted’ reading time because I had ‘that number’ in my mind that I had to reach.
  • There were some books I wanted to re-read but felt I needed to push on with ‘the numbers’. I think in Goodreads you can add this to your list but for me that felt like ‘cheating’.
  • Donna’s advice was spot on.
  • Someone who loves reading probably doesn’t need a challenge because they already know that books enrich their life. I would be lost without books and value my reading time which is a form of ‘self-care’.

For 2022, I won’t be setting a ‘number of books to read goal’ but rather I will be taking my time, being more selective of the books I’m reading and enjoying the experience of the story, the characters and the author’s work. It is also about my WOTY ‘BE’ – being in the moment when I’m reading and absorbing what I’ve read, pondering questions or ideas the book has raised in my mind. BE-ing Me by not comparing myself to what others are doing and not feeling I have to join up to the challenge because of the FOMO.


I don’t feel I’m very good at writing reviews but am working on this and trying to write a short review on each book I read. My reviews are found in Goodreads. Are you on Goodreads? It is a great way to track what books you have read during the year. You can also see what others are reading and read reviews.

Where the Trees Were – Inga Simpson

My first book for 2022 was Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson and I gave it a 4 -star rating on Goodreads. A 4-star from me means I enjoyed the book very much but not completely ‘blown away’. Below is my review.

What a way to start my New Year of reading. I haven’t read any of Inga Simpson’s work but enjoyed Where the Trees Were. Jay, Kieran, his younger brother Matty, Josh and Ian, best friends enjoying the time of their life growing up in a rural setting. They discover a grove of ancient carved trees which they vow to protect. This book brought memories of long hot summer holidays. Jay becomes an art historian specialising in indigenous artefacts and so begins a journey to right wrongs of the past.

Northern Spy

Northern Spy – Flynn Berry

This book proved quite controversial in a Facebook Group and received a negative reviews from most of the comments due to ‘questionable political history’. I had just started the book so this was not a good omen. I decided to overlook the political history and read the book as fiction, however, I was disappointed and felt the character, in particular, Tessa was not convincing. It was an ‘okay’ holiday read.

88 Lines about 44 Women

88 Lines About 44 Women – Steven Lang

I received 88 Lines about 44 Women by Steven Lang as a Christmas gift and really had no idea what it was about. It was well into the book before the title was explained in one sentence. The book has received mixed reviews and for me I was waiting for something to happen but it never did. It has been described as a thriller but for me it lacked this element and therefore it was disappointing. The story held my interest but I wasn’t captured.


Still Life by Sarah Winman
Still Life – Sarah Winman

‘Still Life’ by Sarah Winman rated 4.14 stars on Goodreads. I adored this book and wrote a review on Goodreads which I’ve included below. I gave it 5 stars but would have given more. I highly recommend Still Life.

My second book of 2022 and I just adored it. Sarah Winman’s writing is superb. Set from WWII until the 1970s, from Tuscany to the West End and then Florence, this book was a joy to read. Ulysses Temper, a British Soldier meets Evelyn Skinner an are historian, possibly a spy meet in Tuscany and find they are kindred spirits. Although it would take decades for them to meet again. I loved all of the characters – Ulysses, Peg, Alys, Cressy, Col and Pete and of course Evelyn and Dottie. Florence is my favourite Italian city so I indulged in memories of my visits there. I highly recommend this book and if I could have given more stars I would have

Sue’s 2022 Books read

Northern Spy
Where the Trees Were
Still Life

Sue Loncaric’s favorite books »


We are onto our final book in the Bronte Sisters and reading Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I had not heard of this book so had no idea of the story. Here is a summary from Goodreads:

Following the tremendous popular success of Jane Eyre, which earned her lifelong notoriety as a moral revolutionary, Charlotte Brontë vowed to write a sweeping social chronicle that focused on “something real and unromantic as Monday morning.” Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention.


What: What’s On Your Bookshelf (#whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge).
When: Third Thursday PM (Northern Hemisphere)/ Third Friday AM (Southern Hemisphere).
Why: Share a love of reading.
Where: Blog, Blog Comments, Instagram or other Social Media.
Who: This linkup is open to everyone.
How: You can share in the comments, with a blog post, or on other social media of your choice. Include the hashtag #Whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge so that we can find you and include your link in our posts.

Be a proud contributor to #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

To show our appreciation to all participants, contributors are welcome to display this badge on their blog, website or social media.

What's on your bookshelf contributor badge

Sharing what’s on their bookshelf this month

Take a moment to link through to see what my co-hosts and others have written……

Deb from Deb’s World
Jo from AndAnways
Donna from Retirement Reflections

Now over to you – what’s on your Bookshelf?

Deb, Donna, Jo and I hope that you will join us each month and share what you’ve been reading! If you have any questions just ask us. You can also link to any, or all of our posts, with a pingback, that way we get to see your posts quicker!

Don’t forget to tell me about the book(s) you’re reading at the moment! Then click on the blue button below to see what others are reading.

See you next month!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


2022wotylinkparty cohost
Sue Loncaric

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Donna Connolly January 21, 2022 at 10:04

    Hi, Sue – Thank you for the kind mention. I like your thoughts on the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I agree that like so many challenges, this is a perfect fit for some, but less so for others. (I definitely fall into the latter category.
    BTW – I love your reviews on Goodreads and believe that they are spot on. I have my fingers crossed for ‘Shirley’. I am enjoying it so far and hope that this continues.
    Thank you for cohosting. I love finding out what is on other people’s bookshelves!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 21, 2022 at 16:22

      Your words were ringing in my ear, Donna as I realised that my goal was definitely not going to be reached. Thank you for your guidance and generosity in sharing your thoughts especially during our BookClub meetings. I love your mind maps! xx

  • Reply Janis @ January 21, 2022 at 11:02

    This is a great list of books. Still Life definitely looks like something I’d like. How do you feel about finishing the Bronte sisters? Sad? Relieved? I’ve added my new short story about a TBR pile to your link up.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 21, 2022 at 16:24

      Hello Janis, lovely of you to stop by. I adored Still Life and is one I would find enjoyment reading again. The Bronte Sisters have been a challenge, especially Charlotte. When I started I didn’t realise there were so many books – I’d not heard of Villette, The Professor or Shirley so it has certainly been enlightening for me. I loved your short story so poignant. I look forward to your linking up again next month and perhaps with our #2022WOTY Link Party to share how your WOTY, Goals or Intentions are tracking. xx

  • Reply Joanne Tracey January 21, 2022 at 13:31

    I don’t set goals for reading – although am participating in an Instagram book bingo this year – and might just write about it in WOYB next month. I’ve heard great things about Still Life. One for the list.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 21, 2022 at 16:25

      OOh Instagram book bingo sounds fun! I hope you do write about it so I can learn more. Still Life is now one of my favourites. xx

  • Reply Jennifer Jones January 21, 2022 at 14:57

    Hi Sue, even though I do set a Goodreads goal, I tend to agree with your comments. I set my goal and then don’t give it another thought until about December. I couldn’t bare the thought of having to rush a book or include lots of small books just to reach a goal. I live to get into a book with over 500 pages so the total number of pages read is more important to me. Thought provoking post to kick off #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge in 2022

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 21, 2022 at 16:26

      Hi Jen, I’m pleased you enjoyed my thoughts as I wondered after I wrote it that I might offend those that do the challenge. I do like to keep a record of what I read and Goodreads is a good place for me to record this but I want to savour my books this year. Hope you are joining us for #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge and also the our new monthly #2022WOTYLinkParty. xx

  • Reply Debbie Harris January 21, 2022 at 19:51

    I, like the others who have commented, agree with your thoughts on the number of books to be read and admire you for sharing these thoughts. I set a goal as a guide for the year and usually meet it because I read a lot! I love your reviews on Goodreads and have just finished Still Life and absolutely loved it, so thanks again for the recommendation! We have similar tastes in books so I always like to know what you’re reading. Great start to the year for our challenge and you’re a fabulous co-host!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 24, 2022 at 17:44

      Hi Deb, I love reading but the unrealistic goal I set rob me of the pleasure of enjoying the books. I’m still nervous when I write a review but I’m learning. Still Life is beautiful, isn’t it? Thanks for co-hosting WOYBS and yes I think we are off to a great start for 2022 reading. I love seeing what others are reading and have picked up some good ones to add to my list. x

  • Reply Antoinette Truglio Martin January 21, 2022 at 20:59

    I am a laborious reader and writer, but I do get the job done, although not in volumes. Thank you for doing this challenge. It keeps my reading desires on track .

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 24, 2022 at 17:45

      Hi Antoinette, I’m so pleased you enjoy the challenge, It is a focus for us all to reflect on what we have read and also to find new books to read which have been recommended by others. Have a lovely week and happy reading! xx

  • Reply Joanne January 21, 2022 at 21:47

    I too find myself much too focused on how many books I was reading last year to reach my goal and decided not to set one this year. I want to get back to reading good books I enjoy just for enjoyment.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 24, 2022 at 17:46

      We are definitely on the same page, Joanne! I find I’m enjoying my reading because I don’t have the pressure of a number to reach. Happy reading and have a lovely week. x

  • Reply January #whatsonyourbookshelf and my favorite books from 2021 – Eat, Play, Live January 22, 2022 at 01:10

    […] #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge (hosted by Deb, Sue, Donna and Jo.  […]

  • Reply Christie Hawkes January 24, 2022 at 03:15

    Thank you for hosting this link-up Sue. It’s my first time participating. I appreciate the opportunity to share a book I recently read and reviewed, but even more, I am loving all the ideas for books I want to read soon. I have put Still Life at the top of my list, based on recommendations from you and Deb. Thanks again and happy reading!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 24, 2022 at 17:51

      It is lovely to have you join us Christie and I’ll pop over to read your post after I leave this comment. I love getting ideas from the participants and everyone is really getting into the spirit of sharing and recommending books they have read. Still Life is such a beautiful story and I found I just wanted to keep reading it. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing your thoughts. xx

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