Book Reviews Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – March 2024

March 15, 2024
What's on your bookshelf?

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

My reviews cover books read and listened to during the period mid February/mid March.

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – March 2024

52 Book Club Challenge 2024

During the month I ticked off a few more prompts on the 52 Book Club Reading Challenge.

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 February mini challenge

In addition to the main 52 Book Club Challenge list, the group also has occasional monthly mini challenges. It is all about encouraging reading and for February the challenge was to read three books. I managed to read books from the three prompts. Three very different books and I enjoyed them all.

What's On Your Bookshelf? - March 2024   February Mini Challenge

My favourite reads for the month

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens – My rating ✭✭✭✭✭

Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction
Prompt #3 – A Book with more than 40 Chapters

We have been reading the classics in my Stunners book club and the latest selection was A Tale of Two Cities. Having read Dickens before I couldn’t remember if I had read this book or perhaps seen the movie. Set in London and Paris during the French Revolution, it took me until Book 2 to get into the story. But from then on, the writing was fast paced and I couldn’t put the book down. The conclusion left me shocked, emotional and I definitely shed a tear. The writing is powerful, evocative and emotive I was left reeling and will definitely read again.

The Echo of Old Books – Barbara Davis – My Rating ✭✭✭✭✭

Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance
Prompt #5 – Magical Realism

The Echo of Old Books is the first Barbara Davis book I’ve read and I’ve rated it 5 stars!

Ashlyn Greer, a rare-book dealer loves books but also has a unique ‘gift’. Ashlyn can feel the ‘echoes’ of a book’s previous owner, an emotional fingerprint that only Ashlyn can read. She can feel the emotions of the book’s owner when she touches the pages, When Ashlyn comes into possession of a pair of beautifully bound books, written but never published but with curious inscriptions, the echoes are there loud and clear and her curiousity aroused. The title of one is ‘Regretting Belle’ written by Hermi and the other is ‘Forever and Other Lies’ written by Belle.

After reading both books which tells a tragic but conflicting love story, written in the form of letters from the two lovers, Belle and Hermi, Ashlyn embarks on an investigation, to discover why their love story went so horribly wrong.

Ashlyn feels an affinity for Belle and Hermi because of her own experience with love and loss.

Echos of Old Books captured me from the beginning and I couldn’t put it down. Beautifully written and heartwarming, I felt for both Belle and Hermi as I read their letters to each other. The book is intertwined with present day and the two books which set back in the late 1930s/early 40s.

More than a love story, The Echo of Old Books, is about betrayal, family, jealousy, secrets and forgiveness. The story also weaves in the Anti-Semetic feelings that began to appear in the wealthier circles in the US during WWII.

Anna (One Love, Two Stories #1) – Amanda Prowse – My Rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit
Prompt #37 – Palindrome on the Cover

(A Palindrome is a word, prase, sentence or number that reads the same backward or forward)

One love – two stories. Amanda Prowse has used this concept for her two books Anna (One Love, Two Stories, #1) and then Book #2 Theo. I love this idea and am looking forward to reading Theo’s story.

At times this book can be depressing but it was also poignant and kept me interested. Anna has had a difficult life, losing her Mum and then her brother. Although life with her single Mum was difficult financially, Anna was loved by both her Mum and brother. When her world shattered with the loss of the most cherished people in her life, Anna was determined to find ‘the one’ and not settle. Sometimes though Love, no matter how strong is not enough.

Amanda Prowse has written a story that will pull at your heart strings. Just when you think life is good, she throws a curve ball. I’m definitely going to read Theo to learn his side of the story in more detail. I had mixed feelings about his character. It’s a 4.5 star rating from me.

Can you keep a Secret? – Sophie Kinsella – My Rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary
Prompt #3 – A Book with more than 40 Chapters

What a delightful read. When I first started reading ‘Can You Keep A Secret?’ I thought it would be a ‘light and fluffy’ read for a Sunday afternoon. I did read it in almost a Sunday afternoon but it was more than light and fluffy. It was funny, poignant and I grew to love Emma and equally grew to dislike intensely Jemima. Fast paced, whitty and romantic. What more can I say?

Emma meets Jack on a flight from London to Scotland and because of her fear of flying shares her most intimate and hilarious at times, secrets with this stranger. I’m mean after all there isn’t any likelihood of meeting again, is there? That’s how Emma consoles herself for her over-sharing, one-sided conversation until at work, the owner of the company, Emma works for decides to visit the London office.

The moral of the story??? Don’t keep secrets – well maybe only little ones.

A great read which certainly brightened my mood.

Advanced Reader Reviews for Book Sirens

I find these books a little hit and miss and one of the three books I had selected was a DNF. The two I did finish I rated 3 and 4 stars.

Music of Death Blues: A Daiyu Wu Mystery – Gloria Oliver – My Rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Cozy Murder, Amateur Sleuths
Prompt #50 – A Musical Instrument on the Cover

Music of Death Blues is the third book in the Daiyu Wu Mysteries by Gloria Oliver. I received an advance review copy for free through Book Sirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Daiyu Wu, a young Chinese woman living in Dallas, has been blind from birth but that doesn’t stop her being an amateur sleuth with her adopted white brother, Jacques Haskin. Using her finely tuned senses of hearing and smell, and despite her overprotective parents, Dai and Jacques solve murders which might otherwise go unpunished.. Set in 1930s in Dallas, Texas, this historical mystery highlights society’s prejudices.

When an elderly black woman is thrown from a truck and left in an alley, Dai & Jacques come to her rescue. The woman’s son is then found in a hotel room in a apparent suicide – but is this the case?
I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the 1930s and life at that time. The book is told through Jacques who is the complete opposite in personality to the outgoing and dynamic Dai.

Although this book could be a stand alone read, it is the first I have read in the series and would suggest reading the first two to become familiar with the personal stories of Dai and Jacques.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery set in the bygone Art Deco era.

Adrift – M.A. Hunter – My Rating ✭✭✭

Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Prompt #8 – Features the Ocean

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Adrift and I’m still not sure if I enjoyed it or not. I did finish the book so it held my interest and I think the second half was better so hang in there.

Long term friends from University gather for a ‘stag’ weekend to celebrate the upcoming marriage of one of their friends. Aboard a yacht and heading for a resort for the weekend, what could be better? However, one person on board is a murderer and the weekend celebrations turn sinister. There is also a matter of ‘what happened in the share house’ when they were at uni.

Audio Books

I listened to one Audio book dung the month ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. This fitted the Prompt # 21 – Written by a Ghost Writer. Unfortunately, I didn’t really connect with Michelle – don’t shoot me! I felt the book should have probably started from when she became First Lady of the United States of America.


My Rating – ✭✭✭
I felt the first half was a little long-winded and a story we had heard many times from others in a similar situations in life. The second half was more interesting as I learned about the U.S. Election system, and what life is like behind the doors of The White House. I did feel at times, that Michelle, in trying to show she was a First Lady on a mission and she actually did achieve change for underprivileged girls, I felt she ‘put down’ the role previous First Ladies had played. Those are my thoughts though and I know many have loved the book but I was probably a little underwhelmed after all the hype that had surrounded the publication.

Current Reading or Listening

Anne of Green Gables – our Simply Stunning Book Club selection. I actually visited Green Gables on Prince Edward Island when we were taking a cruise of Nova Scotia. I purchased my copy of Anne of Green Gables from there as a souvenir of my visit. I will review next month.

Theo (One Love, Two Stories #2) by Amanda Prowse

Currently listening to the Audiobook. This is the second book in the One Love, Two Stories series. In Book 1 we met Anna and her love story with Theo through her eyes. Book 2 is Theo’s story. I’m loving it so far and will review next month.

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 Retirement Reflections March 15, 2024 at 08:26

    Hi, Sue – You have some excellent book selections here. I recently read ‘Adrift’ but by a totally different author, Lisa Brideau. If you have the time, I highly recommend it. (It’s set in Nanaimo which is 20 minutes from my home).
    You are so lucky to have visited Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home. I’ve been to PEI twice and never visited this historical site. 🙁

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 15, 2024 at 10:48

      Hi Donna, I saw your book review of ‘Adrift’ by Lisa Brideau and I’m sure it would be much better than the book I read. Visiting LM Montgomery’s home was certainly a highlight and one I would recommend if you ever get to PEI again. x

  • Reply marsha57 March 15, 2024 at 13:08

    You’ve read some interesting books, Sue. I really enjoyed “Becoming.” I remember reading “A Tale of Two Cities” when I was little, but I really should reread it now.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 11:54

      I love reading Marsha and trying to expand genres and authors. The 52 Bookclub Challenge is helping me to achieve this.x

  • Reply Debbie March 15, 2024 at 13:58

    A great month of reading for you Sue. I was a bit puzzled by your review of Adrift which seemed very different to Donna’s review, then realised they were by different authors! I think I’ve read some of the Amanda Prowse books many years ago, I must check! I’m adding ‘Can you keep a secret’ to my list so thanks for the great recommendations. I’m looking forward to our Stunners Book Club chat about Anne, lucky you for having been there and seen it – one day I’m aiming to do that! Thanks for being a great co-host and sharing your reviews with us.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 11:55

      Hi Deb, I think Donna’s book was much better than the ‘Adrift’ I read!. You must read Anna and then Theo such beautiful stories. I’m enjoying Anne and like her character but just being honest that I could take her in small doses. xx

  • Reply Thistles and Kiwis March 15, 2024 at 14:45

    I felt exactly the same about the Michelle Obama book – in fact I used it to send me to sleep it was so dull.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 11:56

      Oh that makes me feel better, Barbara as there were so many that loved the book, I thought it might be me. x

  • Reply Cathy March 15, 2024 at 17:37

    I’m another who’s visited the Montgomery house on PEI. A fair while ago now (2006) but still remember the stairs and tiny rooms set up as it would have been at the time of the books setting. The Golfers cousins gave me a copy because I’d never read it before. Children’s literature is one of my ‘challenges ’ for this year so it’ll be a reread for me.
    I thought I’d read a Sophie Kinsella before but haven’t noted it so possibly it was a really early one. Were they very long chapters?

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 11:57

      I loved visiting PEI and Green Gables, Cathy. I spent a lovely afternoon there. I don’t remember the chapters being long in the Sophie Kinsella book. She has been a bit hit and miss with me but I enjoyed ‘Can you keep a secret?’ x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones March 15, 2024 at 18:40

    Hi Sue, well I loved Becoming. I listened to the audio book which she narrated, so not sure if my opinion would be different if I’d actually read the book. I have The Echo of Old Books on my list but it seems to be slipping further down. You’ve reminded me to bring it back near the top again, especially after your 5 star rating.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 11:59

      Hi Jen, I listened to the audio as well and unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with Michelle. That is the wonderful thing about having different opinions isn’t it? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on The Echo of Old Books if you bring it up the list. I know what you mean though, so many books we want to read. x

  • Reply Erin @ Cracker Crumb Life March 15, 2024 at 22:18

    Ooo I have The Echo of Old Books on my pile to read! I am glad to hear it was so good.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 11:59

      I’d love to hear your thoughts if you read The Echo of Old Books, Erin. xx

  • Reply Joanne March 15, 2024 at 23:10

    I thought Becoming was a bit boring until the family actually made it into the white house and then I liked it a bit more. I can’t say it was a favorite book of mine but I did enjoy it. Can You Keep A Secret sounds so cute! I tend to enjoy most of her books and the scenarios her main characters get themselves into.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 12:01

      I agree, Joanne. I found Becoming boring until they reached the White House but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype for me. I think you would enjoy Can You Keep A Secret? it was light and funny x

  • Reply Jo March 16, 2024 at 05:19

    What a great eclectic mix … I love the sound of The Echo of Old Books and have reserved it at the library. I’ve also wanted to read Anna and Theo for ages – what a great idea to write the one story from two viewpoints.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2024 at 12:02

      I’m sure you would love The Echo of Old Books, Jo. Also you must read Anna and then Theo – a lovely story and a great concept to write one love story from both sides. x

  • Reply KymPossible March 16, 2024 at 13:03

    I completely missed that there even was a mini-challenge in February! (Not that I would have had time to complete it, but it’s still fun to try) I had the same reactions to A Tale of Two Cities the first time I read it – the ending is quite the twist! I’ve read Anne of Green Gables many times and love it still, and visiting Green Gables on PEI was so much fun! Happy Reading!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 19, 2024 at 10:59

      Hi Kym, I just managed to squeeze it in but probably won’t do another one because it takes me away from the 52 Book Club Challenge. The challenges are interesting though if you just want something for the month.

  • Reply Writing Sparkle March 17, 2024 at 01:42

    Hi Sue. I was just visiting Jennifer’s coffee/book post and she is doing the 52-book challenge as well. I shared with her that I am doing a 53-book challenge—self-imposed—but I’m at the prep stage. For my 2025 coffee shares, I want to share book reviews related to my blog themes with the main one being coffee. Anyway, there are some great titles on your list. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 19, 2024 at 11:01

      Hi there and what a lovely name for a blog. I got the idea of the 52 Book Club Challenge from Jennifer last year. She has been doing them for some time. I do like your iade of the 53 book challenge and love your ideas for 2025 coffee shares. Go you! x

  • Reply Janine March 17, 2024 at 04:25

    Hi Sue – a great selection of books this month. I really must read A Tale of two Cities, plus the Echoes of Books sounds good and Anna. I might not bother with the Michelle Obama. It was on my list ages ago when everyone was raving about it but appeals less now and from what you have said I might well find it boring.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 19, 2024 at 11:02

      Hi Janine, I couldn’t remember if I had read A Tale of Two Cities and although the first section didn’t grab me the second and third sections certainly did. I highly recommend it. I don’t want to put you off Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ but I have read comments from other readers who felt the same as me, which I’m glad about as I thought it was just me. x

  • Reply Natalie March 17, 2024 at 11:58

    Hi Sue, Thank you for your weekend coffee share. I read Becoming and have visited Green Gables in PEI. I’m currently reading Exiles by Jane Harper and enjoying it like I did with her earlier books.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 19, 2024 at 11:03

      Hi Natalie, I have Exiles downloaded I think so might try to hunt it out. x

  • Reply Toni Pike March 18, 2024 at 16:46

    These all look interesting – you’ve done well reading so many.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 19, 2024 at 10:58

      I love reading, Toni and try to make time each day to relax with a book. x

  • Reply Kirstin Troyer March 20, 2024 at 01:37

    I might try the 52 book clubs challenge next year. we’ll see. I read an American Marriage a few years ago…it was interesting. I’ve also read the Echo of Old Books. It was good, but it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I would love to visit Prince Edward Island. I love Anne of green gables, though have only watched the movies

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 21, 2024 at 11:50

      Hi Kirstin, I was in two minds about an American Marriage and agree it was interesting. I loved visiting Prince Edward Island and Green Gables. I’m sure you would enjoy the book and I treasure my copy that I purchased from the gift shop. x

  • Reply Alison March 29, 2024 at 11:26

    Hi Sue,
    Thanks for these recommendations. I’m going to put Echoes and Music on my list right now. They both sound very intriguing.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 1, 2024 at 10:09

      Thanks, Alison, I’m reading some very entertaining books lately x

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