Book Reviews Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – May 2024

May 17, 2024
What's on your bookshelf?

It’s time for the monthly What’s On your Bookshelf? link up – May 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 over the last month.

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – May 2024

It was mostly a cozy crime month for me which I indulged in. We had a short 3 -night getaway to Stanthorpe which provided the perfect setting for reading.

My favourite reads for the month

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the books I’ve read this month so they rated highly. A variety of themes but all of the stories and characters woven so well together they drew me in I just couldn’t put them down. Some of them I was sad to finish and stayed with me long after.

The Twist of A Knife – Anthony Horowitz✭✭✭

Genre: Crime, Mystery Thriller, Murder Mystery
Prompt #16 – Self-insert by Author

This is the 4th book in the Hawthorne & Horowitz series and again I enjoyed catching up with author, Anthony Horowitz and ex-detective, Daniel Hawthorne joining forces. I like the writing style where Anthony is a character in the book and the book is written is in his voice. He is witty and there is definitely a connection with him and Daniel although neither realise it.

In The Twist of A Knife, Anthony begins by refusing to write another book about Daniel Hawthorne’s investigations but has he been too hasty? Anthony play Mindgame is about to open at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End. After opening night the play is panned by critics and an especially vicious critique by Sunday Times critic, Margaret Throsby.

Margaret is found stabbed in the heart with Anthony’s fingerprints on the knife. He is arrested but will his rebuff of Hawthorne, mean he has lost the only person who can prove his innocence?

I’ve enjoyed all of the Hawthorne & Horowitz books and this one didn’t disappoint. In true Agatha Christie style, all is not as it seems and the killer is revealed with all the suspects are gathered together.

A highly recommended read for lovers of crime and mystery. It’s 5 stars from me.

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut Universe #1) – Mary Robinette Kowal- My rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Science Fiction, Historical, Space
Prompt #6- Women in STEM

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

It’s 1952 and life in the US is flowing along until a meteorite hits Earth and completely obliterates the East Coast including Washington, D.C. In the aftermath, the effect on the climate means that life on Earth will soon mean that humans can no longer live on the planet and will need to find an alternative. So begins a global project to find a suitable planet and set up a colony.

Elma York, a mathematician and experience as a WASP pilot during WWII. She is working as a ‘calculator’ in the International Aerospace Coalition in their attempts to put a man on the moon but she wants more. Elma wants to be part of the recolonization an become an Astronaut but like other women she is faced with the problems of overcoming misogynist attitudes of the 50s.

I don’t usually read Science Fiction. I tried to read this book last year but put it aside. I tried again this year and found I became involved in the quest of women to become Astronauts and Elma’s drive to make it happen against all odds.

At times I found the technical detail tedious but overall I enjoyed the quest and determination of the women involved. Once I became involved with the characters I was drawn in.

If you enjoy science fiction, or even if you don’t, I would recommend The Calculating Stars.

Keeping it in the Family – Sinéad Moriarty – My Rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Chick Lit, romance, Ireland, Family, Humour
Prompt #11- Title Starting with the letter ‘K’

Keeping it in the Family by Sinéad Moriarty was a delightful read but with an underlying message. I found it a perfect book to enjoy whilst on a short stay getaway.

I enjoyed and had a giggle at Irish humour but this book also had a series undercurrent around prejudice and societal expectations. Niamh O’Flaherty lives in North London but her father in particular still clings to the ‘good life’ and the culture he loves back in Ireland and wants his daughters to settle down and marry ‘good Irish lads’. Niamh moves to Dublin and meets the love of her life but he is the last person her family would expect.

This is a ‘love story’ that doesn’t run smoothly as the couple face family pressures and prejudices on both sides.

It is a 4-star read from me and will be looking for more books by this author.

The Tea Ladies – Amanda Hampson – My Rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Crime, Australia, Cozy Crime
Prompt #26 – Hybrid Genre

Set in the Garment district of Surrey Hills, Sydney in 1965, a time where Tea Ladies were an important part of any well-run business. Hazel Bates and her fellow tea ladies provide tea, coffee, biscuits and advice on their daily rounds with the tea trolley. It is also a time of change in the fashion industry with the famous or infamous Jean Shrimpton wearing a mini skirt to the Melbourne Cup in 1965!

If you love a cozy crime, this book is definitely for you. Tea Ladies become sleuths to solve kidnapping, murder and more. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if you like The Thursday Murder Club books you are going to enjoy The Tea Ladies.

I particularly enjoyed the book as I was growing up in Sydney during the 60s and the areas mentioned in the book were where my parents grew up. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Murder on the Med – A Kat Lawson Mystery – Nancy Silverman Cole – My Rating ✭✭✭

Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Prompt #29 – Published in the Year of the Dragon

I received Murder on the Med by Nancy Silverman Cole as an ARC from Book Sirens. It is the second book I’ve read in the Kat Lawson Mystery series and although slow to start it was worth hanging in.

Kat Lawson, journalist, working as an undercover for the FBI as a travel journalist has earned some R&R after her last escapade. She finds herself on an easy assignment writing a travel article for a luxury cruise ship which is a floating home to wealthy retirees and currently sailing the Mediterranean. It is the perfect assignment to relax and enjoy some down time, I mean all Kat has to do is enjoy the amenities and write a review.

But of course, it’s not that easy, as Kat finds herself in the midst of murder and an international smuggling ring and her life once again in danger.

The book did pick up pace although I found it difficult at times to keep up with ‘who was who’. A good read if you have some time to relax and immerse yourself into the intrigue and glamour.

An English Garden Murder – Julia Bird Mysteries #1 – Katie Gayle – My rating ✭✭✭✭

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Contemporary, Murder Mystery

This is the first book in the Julia Bird Mysteries by Katie Gayle and after finishing, I immediately downloaded the second in the series. The book ticked all the boxes for me: cozy crime set in the Cotswalds, great characters. What more could I ask for?

Julia Baird, is recently divorced and retired amidst some controversy. She escapes London and buys a cottage in the idyllic village of Berrywick in the Cotswalds. Determined to live at a slower pace and perhaps design her perfect English Garden. Julia embarks on her new life with gusto, including taking on Jake, a chocolate labrador puppy, who wasn’t quite Guide Dog material. When Julia decides to have the old garden shed pulled down to build a chicken coop, as she embraces country life, a skeleton is discovered. Her chicken coop is put on hold whilst the police investigate. When another body is discovered with links to the body in her garden, Julia is wondering whether this cozy village is really as innocent as it appears.

Working with D.I. Hayley Gibson, Julia takes up investigating the murders and trying to prevent another.

Loved this book and Julia. Yes, it might be similar to other books but I do enjoy a cozy crime in an English village with an eclectic mix of characters.

Highly recommended.

Book Club Baking

I’ve written before about our online Simply Stunning Book Club which has the focus on the classics. As we have a member who is a great baker, she selects a recipe which would be related to the book in some way, for us all to cook together in our own kitchens via Zoom (yes can’t let go of the ‘lock down’ habits).

Our last book was Howards End by E.M. Forster set in the early 1900s at a time of societal change. The recipe chosen was Nigella Lawson’s ‘My Mother-In-Law’s Madeira Cake’. This type of cake would definitely have been on any well respecting ‘tea tray’ of the time.

Book club baking WOYBS?

Currently Reading or Listening to

Death on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
Mrs England – Stacey Halls
Everyone on this Train is a Suspect – Benjamin Stevenson (listening on Audible)

What's On Your Bookshelf? - May 2024 52 Book Club Reading Challenge

During the month I ticked off a few more prompts on the 52 Book Club Reading Challenge. There a more places filled than blank now.

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 most of the books I’ve reviewed this month have slotted nicely into the prompts.

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…

• 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 June 20/Friday June 21. 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 May 17, 2024 at 09:35

    Hi, Sue – Congratulations on your 52 Book Club Challenge. You’ve done an awesome job on that. I’ve read five (possibly six) of the books that you have read for that challenge. I did read ‘Adrift’ by Lisa Brideaux but I think that was a different ‘Adrift’ from the one you read. Anyway, Lisa’s book is also well worth reading and transports the reader to my little corner of Vancouver Island! <3

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:49

      Yes, we determined that the ‘Adrift’ you read was different to mine and probably better than mine too! I’ll check it out, thanks! x

  • Reply Thistles and Kiwis May 17, 2024 at 09:47

    I’m going to make a note of some of these – I have read one of the Horowitz books and enjoyed it so should go and look for some more.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:53

      I’ve enjoyed all of the Horowitz books, Barbara although I think there are only 3 or 4???

  • Reply marsha57 May 17, 2024 at 12:29

    I love murder mysteries and recently finished another Inspector Gamache book. I’m currently reading The First Ladies about Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Mcleod Bethune. It’s not exactly riveting, but I’m learning so many terrible things about our country’s history. I need to read some lighter books!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:54

      I adore the Inspector Gamache series, Marsha and I believe I’ve read them all. The First Ladies sounds heavy but we can’t turn our back on our past can we? x

  • Reply Debbie May 17, 2024 at 14:15

    Thanks Sue, I am now adding ALL of these to my ‘want to read’ list because they sound great and they help for some of my prompts for the 52 book club challenge that I’m finding it a bit hard to fill. You’ve read some great books and we have common tastes, so I always manage to find some I want to read when I read your posts!! Thanks for being an amazing co-host, you bring such great reviews each and every month!!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:55

      We do have similar tastes, Deb and glad I could help out with some prompt ideas for the challenge. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones May 17, 2024 at 15:59

    Hi Sue. I haven’t read any of your books this month so the TBR list grows longer. Your book club baking day sounds wonderful. I remember seeing the movie of Howard’s End many years ago and seem to remember that it was quite controversial at the time. It’s interesting to look at your challenge books and the prompts you’ve used.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:57

      It’ always fun having Book Club Baking, Jen as I probably wouldn’t bake too much on my own. I’m sure you would enjoy most of the books from my list. Howard’s End was my selection for book club. I had heard of it but never read it. I also watched the movie with Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins and Helena Bonham-Carter which I enjoyed. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee May 17, 2024 at 17:55

    I just finished the latest Horowitz and Hwthorne book. I love them SO much. He’s so clever. Just delightful. You seem to have a train and murder theme going on! Ha! #WOYBS and #TrafficJamReboot

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:43

      I love the Hawthorne and Horowitz books too, Lydia. I have had a train and murder theme going on this month, haven’t I? I do love a good murder mystery! x

  • Reply Cathy May 17, 2024 at 18:19

    I had a little smile looking at the three lower book covers – Murder Murder Murder. You wouldn’t be interested in solving crimes by any chance😊

    We nowhere near the middle of the year and you’ve already filled over half the required reads in your 52 week challenge- how good is that!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:42

      Yep, Cathy I do love a good Murder or crime book. I’m powering through the challenge but not necessarily selecting books to fit in with the prompts. It just seems that at the moment most of the ones I’ve been reading, I’ve been able to match with relevant prompts. x

  • Reply Toni Pike May 17, 2024 at 23:49

    Great reading Sue – I’ll have to read Murder on the Med

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:39

      Yes it was a good read, Toni. Perhaps you could write a book based on your latest cruise. x

  • Reply Joanne May 18, 2024 at 00:16

    You are doing a great job with your challenge! Your cake looks yummy too.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:39

      Thanks Joanne. Surprisingly I’m not consciously selecting books for the prompts all the time. They just seem to fit!

  • Reply Jo May 18, 2024 at 10:05

    Some great sounding books – I can’t wait to read The Anthony Horowitz, and Tea Ladies is also on my list. Thanks Sue!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:36

      I love Anthony Horowitz and I’m sure you will enjoy his latest. The Tea Ladies was an easy but fun read. x

  • Reply Kirstin Troyer May 20, 2024 at 12:39

    Oooooh those cozy mysteries sound great. I just love your cooking club. How fun!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2024 at 15:00

      They are really good, Kirstin. I love a cozy mystery! x

  • Reply KymPossible May 20, 2024 at 13:43

    All these books look so good – I do gravitate towards any story that involves a good mystery!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2024 at 15:00

      I love a good mystery, too, Kym but I think you would know that from my posts LOL 🙂 x

  • Reply June 4, 2024 at 14:04

    I think Deb recommended the Knife book wholeheartedly, too. Guess I better check it out. You are doing very well on your 52 book challenge. I like seeing all the book covers. Like your own little library.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 5, 2024 at 09:15

      Yes I enjoyed the Knife book and other of Anthony Horowitz’s books. I’m taking the Book challenge at a good pace and should be finished by year end. I’ve found some great books this year. x

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