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. Remember to check out what has been on their bookshelves as well.
I was out of action first week of March with a heavy cold and nasty cough. As someone who likes to be ‘on the go’ generally, taking time out was not easy. I did listen to my body as you can read in my post: The importance of taking TIME out, listening to your body & acceptance.
The upside to not being well and confined to just resting, (if there is one), meant that I could indulge in reading and I managed to read a few excellent books. You may need to make a cuppa as I’ve loads to share this month.
My Book of the Month – Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah – 5 stars
Kristin Hannah is a bit hit and miss with me, I’ve enjoyed a number of her books, yet others I struggled to read. Firefly Lane was certainly a 5-star read for me and although I have several 5-star reads this month, I’m making Firefly Lane my book of the month.
I felt all the emotions reading this book and it has stayed with me long after I finished. Tully and Kate have been friends for 30 years. An unlikely friendship but one that has stood the test of time. Tully, working hard to find her place in the world after a less than ideal childhood. Kate wanting love and family. Like all long lasting friendships there are ups and downs, time apart but when life throws devasting curve balls Tully and Kate are there for each other.
I found the characters likable and yet at times frustrating and I certainly did not predict how the story would unfold.
If you were a teen in ’74 this book will evoke memories of life at that time – the music, the angst of the teen years and best friends.
I rated this 5 star because I enjoyed the book, the characters and the emotion it evoked.
52 Book Club Reading Challenge
The Challenge is going well and I’m filling in the prompts with relevant books. I found a post in the 52 Book Club Reading Challenge Facebook group which was a little disconcerting though and it made me pause for a moment of reflection. One of the members has finished the challenge and it is only March! Now good for them, and they obviously have much more time on their hands but it made me wonder if they are putting too much emphasis on completing the challenge rather than enjoying (or at times plodding through) the books they read.
I’m an avid reader, but I’ve learned to slow down and really take in what I’m reading. Delve a little, ponder and reflect rather than rushing through, finishing the book and ticking it off the list.
So for me, 2023 is about reading in a more mindful manner and taking my TIME.
What are your thoughts? Are you someone who enjoys reading but doesn’t want to go beyond the story? Or do you enjoy going down ‘rabbit holes’ or getting to know the characters and really taking time to understand why the author has written the book?
Prompt #7 ‘A City or Country Name in the Title’ – The Rio Affair by Micah Barnett – My rating ★★★★★
Fast paced and action packed The Rio Affair by Micah Barnett had my attention from the start. Miles Ronan, an FBI agent hasn’t seen his father for over 30 years. His father, Frank Ronan an ex-cop, on the FBI most wanted list, vanished along with $40million he discovered during a drug bust. Frank obtains a new identity living in Rio. When Miles is notified that his father and his wife have been murdered in Rio, he is called to identify the body. As he pieces together what his father has been up to over the last 30 years. He learns more than he bargained for including a half sister who has disappeared. Working with Marie a local journalist, Miles is forced into a world of corruption and danger as he fights against time and local authorities to find his sister. Who can he trust? Will he find Letitia in time? I highly recommend this book and was delighted to receive and advance review copy for free.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Prompt # 10 – ‘Books on the Cover’ – A Month of Sundays by Liz Byrski – My rating ★★★★
I loved this book and didn’t want it to end. A Month of Sundays by Liz Byrski is a delightful story of friendship, finding yourself and letting go. Adele, Ros, Simone and Judy are the four members of an online book club. They all live in different States in Australia and have never met in real life.
When Adele is asked to house sit for friends in the Blue Mountains, NSW, she takes the opportunity to invite the other three to join her for a month. On the agenda are weekly book discussions with each suggesting a book that reflects who they are.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the characters and as I belong to a similar online book club I could relate to the different personalities.
Spending a month together had the potential to challenge everyone but what developed was a deep, rich friendship with love and support for each other.
I highly recommend A Month of Sundays.
Prompt #14 ‘A Survival Story’ – The Riviera House by Natasha Lester – My rating ★★★★★
Last month my Book of the Month was The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester. I enjoyed it so much I selected another of her books to read. Whilst I gave this book a 5-star rating it was a similar theme to The Paris Secret and similar writing. For example, there are two time periods in each book and a link from modern day to WWII days there is also the Vintage Fashion theme which Natasha Lester is known for in her books. Set in Paris 1939, this is a heart-wrenching story of survival, love, loss and betrayal. Èliane is living with her family as Germany prepares to invade Paris. Her love and knowledge of art leads her to be useful to the Nazis cataloguing famous artworks for the Germans to take. Together with her brother, Luc and others she works against the Nazis to ensure the artworks are not lost forever. She falls in love with Xavier before the war but is shocked to discover he is now working for the Germans. Who can she trust?
In 2015 Remy is still grieving the loss of her husband and child in a car accident and comes to the South of France to a stunning home she has inherited. Determined not to love again and feeling the guilt of still living, she is hoping to overcome her grief through her Vintage Clothing business. She meets Adam a fashion photographer who has his own issues. Together they discover a painting which will ultimately link Remy to WWII and her heritage, and in the process, find each other.
I enjoyed The Riviera House immensely although I just can’t imagine what people went through during WWII. The writing is vivid and I felt I was there with the French Resistance – such bravery and courage whilst always carrying fear.
Prompt #28 ‘Includes A Funeral’ – Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. – My rating ★★★★★
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, although everyone seems to be talking about it at the moment with mixed reviews. It was a pleasant surprise. Such a poignant story about love but also about not fitting in, fighting for what you believe in and want. Elizabeth Zott believes that there is no such thing as average woman. In the 1960s Elizabeth is a scientist who is struggling to find her place in an all-male workplace. She meets the brilliant but introverted Calvin Evans, a Nobel prize winner and someone who falls deeply in love with her. Theirs is a special bond but when Calvin dies in an accident and Elizabeth is pregnant with his child, she finds that an unmarried mother in the ’60s who wants a career in a male dominant world is not popular.
A good debut novel and one that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy but by the end I had changed my mind. Well worth the read.
Prompt #37 – ‘Written in the Present Tense’ – Never Let Go by Lori Duffy Foster – My rating ★★★★
Can you imagine one day having a happy marriage and enjoying your baby then the next day your life is turned upside down? I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of ‘Never Let Go’ by Lori Duffy Foster and it certainly had me from the first page. This book covers social and relationship issues such as illegal adoption, how or if relationships survive traumatic experiences and also how far you would go for someone you love. There were twists and turns which kept my attention and I felt a range of emotions. I would definitely recommend ‘Never Let Go’ for those who enjoy a good psychological thriller.
Prompt # 38 – ‘An Enemies to Lovers Plot’ – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – My rating ★★★
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is your typical ‘Enemies to Lovers Plot’ so perfect for Prompt #38. Lucy and Josh are rivals at work but what happens when there is the prize of promotion and love suddenly shows up? This is a light read and definitely one for a beach read. It had some cute moments but after a while I tired of their game.
Feeling like a VIP
Recently, my dear friend, author baker, sunrise chaser and co-host of #WOYBS, Jo Tracey, (she is a busy lady and she still has a day job) asked me to read her latest work and provided me with an Advanced Reader Copy. I’m always honoured when an author puts their faith in me and asks me to read their work. I’m a huge fan of Jo’s and have read all of her books. the only problem is she can’t write them fast enough for me!
I can’t actually review it at the moment although I believe Jo will be taking advanced orders soon, but I can tell you I read it in an afternoon! It is a delightful book, set in Australia and will be perfect for a Christmas read.
Okay, so I’ve been a tease but Jo has written several other books so why not check those out whilst waiting for her ‘Christmas read’ to be published.
Please visit Jo’s website, Joanne Tracey – Author to find all of her books. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The Stunning Book Club group
I was disappointed that I missed our end of book, Book Club Baking session to complete our reading of Jane Austen. Since our Stunning Book Club started we have read all of the Bronté Sisters books and then moved on to Jane Austen. We read and discuss the book and then our star baker, Jo takes us through a baking session from a recipe which relates to the book. It is certainly a fun way to finish.
Our next author is Charles Dickens, starting with Great Expectations and so far we have read to Chapter 20. I find Dickens easy to read and am enjoying the book. I did see the original movie (yes I am that old) but can’t remember having read the book.
The Kitchen Confidential Cook Book Club
As I mentioned last month, I have joined a new book club which concentrates on Cook Books. A member selects a cook book and then we all select and make a recipe from the book, along with a review and if the book should have a place on our bookshelf.
Last month was the Chris Kimball’s Milk Street Tuesday Night’s Mediterrean and you can read my review HERE
The next book selected is the
The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen apparently this is a classic cookbook and rated as ‘one of the most influential cookbooks of our time’. I hadn’t heard of the book but it is popular in the US. I will write more about this next month and also what recipe I selected.