Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

What’s On Your Bookshelf? May Edition

May 19, 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. Remember to check out what has been on their bookshelves as well.

It’s been another mixed bag of reading for me this month – some books I’ve really enjoyed and others were definitely a chore, almost to the point of being relegated to my ‘Did Not Finish‘ pile.

I’ve joined a new Book Club

As a way to encourage my grandson, Ethan who has just turned 9, to keep reading, I put the idea to him of starting a book club. He could select the books and we would both read them then discuss our thoughts.

First up was to select a name for the Book Club. I thought the Ethan/Nan Book Club, my youngest grandson, Elliot (5) suggested The Amazing Book Club but after discussion Ethan came up with a name and to quote him:

Our book club is called the ‘Never Stop Reading’ book club because you should never stop reading and we want to encourage people that don’t read to read more.

Ethan, 9

Our first book was one I gave him for his recent birthday, David Walliams’ ‘The Ice Monster’ and we had our first book club discussion last week. Ethan is enjoying the book and because of the adventure and there are funny parts which a 9 year old would really appreciate. Each week we will discuss what we have read and it is such a wonderful way to spend time together and also maintain our love of reading.

I will let you know our final thoughts next month and if I’m lucky I might get Ethan to write a review

A surprising Book of the Month – Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore – My rating ✮✮✮✮✮

I selected this book for the 52 Book Club Challenge prompt # 23 ‘An Alliterative Title’ which had been suggested on Goodreads for this prompt. I didn’t read anything about the book and just started reading not knowing what to expect.

This book was a surprise to me and I found it captured my imagination fitting into several different genres.

It is New Year’s Eve 1982 and Oona Lockhart is about to turn nineteen when the clock strikes midnight. She has some life decisions to make – whether to go to London and study economics or stay in Brooklyn with her boyfriend to follow her passion for music and their band. But life doesn’t always go to plan especially as Oona faints during the midnight countdown and wakes up in a fity-two year old’s body in 2015.

So begins Oona’s time travelling life living out of order.

I wasn’t sure if I was enjoying the book but as I read further I found myself wondering at the end of each year, what time period in her life, Oona would arrive at next. Of course, this is a fantasy, time travelling book but once you get past that, if it isn’t your genre there is definitely more to the book. A positive of the time travelling is that Oona makes some great investments because she has been in her future so knows which stocks will perform and which ones to sell fast.

Margarita Montimore makes the reader think. Would you want to know what your future was like? Would you try to change it if you could? The book also explores the importance of family, how we can take things and people for granted.

I’m not a fan of time-travel or fantasy but I invested my time into Oona. It was funny, sad and heart wrenching at times and I was a tad disappointed to finish the book.

Audio – Reading or both?

Do you listen to audio books or do you prefer to read? I’m usually a book girl either physical or an electronic version. I don’t listen to audio books often but this month I had an experience where after reading a book and not enjoying it at all, I listened to the audio book on the recommendation of one of my book club members, and it made such a difference. Perhaps it was the voice of Juliet Stevenson a well-known Bristish actress who made the book more enjoyable. Perhaps it was listening rather than reading words which helped me to visual the characters and gain a better understanding and appreciation of the story.

And the book was?

The selection for the latest book in our Stunning Book Club was Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. After reading all the works of the Brontë Sisters, we moved on to the Jane Austen collection. We then decided to select books from the Penguin Books ‘100 must-read classics, as chosen by our readers’ with each member selecting a book from the list.

First up was Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ which I thoroughly enjoyed and wrote about in the April Edition of What’s On Your Bookshelf?. As it was my turn, feeling that I needed to be ‘intellectual’ and it is a classic after all, I selected Mrs Dalloway, as I had not read any Virginia Woolf’s work. It also fitted nicely into my 52 Week Challenge for the prompt ‘Down a rabbit hole’ as I researched Virginia Woolf and also some notes on Mrs Dalloway.

I started reading the book and found it was a difficult read. I thought it was me but then I read some reviews which aligned with what I was thinking. I also felt better when the other members of the book club didn’t rate it highly either. We had one of our best discussions about a book which was surprising as none of us really liked it.

My review of Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway was the first book I’ve read written by Virginia Woolf. Published in 1925 and was included in TIME’s 2015 top 100 english language books published since 1923

The story takes place in the space of one day with Big Ben marking the hours. It follows the actions of several characters during the day, starting with Clarissa Dalloway an upper-class woman living in post WWI England buying flowers and pondering life as she prepares for a party she is giving that evening.

The book covers social issues of the time such as the class system, mental health issues of returning soldiers from WW1 and the lack of support on their return.

I was expecting much but felt underwhelmed. I thought it was me, but after reading reviews found that other readers had also been disappointed. I couldn’t keep up with the continual changing from one character to another. Written in the modernist literary style, narrated using stream of consiousness which helped make Virginia Woolfe famous I struggled with this style. Switching from character to character in places that didn’t make sense I felt I was on a rollercoaster or being pulled this way then that.

There were definitely parts of the book that I enjoyed when the story stayed with the one character, however I am at a loss as to why the book was called Mrs Dalloway. the actual working title of The Hours seems more appropriate.

This book sent me down a rabbit hole to learn more about Virginia Woolfe in order to gain a better understanding of her writing and thoughts.

If you have read the book I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. I watched the 1997 movie Mrs Dalloway with Vanessa Redgrave heading a great cast. I enjoyed the movie immensely.

52 Book Club Reading Challenge

The Challenge is going well with more prompts completed and the Challenge sheet spaces are filling up. It feels a little like playing Bingo and trying to complete a line. I’ve now completed 27 books from the 52 book challenge, so I feel I’m on track to reach my goal by year end.

Books read for the challenge this month included:


The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel – My rating ✭✭✭✭

Prompt #41 – A character who is a refugee

I enjoyed The Last Rose of Shanghai as both a history lesson and also a lesson about love, hatred and what people will do when faced with no options. Set in Shanghai in 1940 Ayi Shao is a young, rich woman who owns a nightclub. As WWII escalates Jewish refugees are pouring into this ancient city including Ernest and his younger sister who have left Germany with hopes that their parents will follow.

Ayi is engaged to another, yet falls in love with Ernest – but can this love affair last? With the Japanese taking control of the city, will their love be strong enough to overcome the barriers of different cultural backgrounds and events that are tearing the city and her inhabitents apart.

This was a gripping story and one I couldn’t put down.


The Trivia Night by Ali Lowe – My rating ✭✭✭✭

Prompt #44 – A Contemporary Setting

One night and it certainly wasn’t trivial. A local school in an affluent suburb of Sydney is hosting a fundraising Trivia Night. It’s not a case of children behaving badly but the parents and this night will have irrevocable consequences. This debut novel by Ali Lowe, held my interest and I really wanted to keep reading without skipping to the end. If you enjoy Sally Hepworth you will enjoy The Trivia Night. It has it all – friendship, betrayal, relationships and it all ends in tears…..


An Elderly Lady is Up to No good by Helene Tursten – My rating ✭✭✭

Prompt #24 – Nordic Noir

I’m not sure this should really be classed as Nordic Noir but I’m claiming it because it was written by Swedish crime writer, helene Tursten and yes there were murders. I rated this book 3 star as I felt it wasn’t as gritty as I usually like my crime books . Maud is a fesity 88 year old who has been living in her family’s large apartment rent free for many years after a minor, yet binding clause in the contract. She has no family or friends and loves to travel each year to exotic places.

However, Maud can get up to some dark adventures at home and proves to the reader that age is no barrier – not even for murder. This is a light read and I read it in an afternoon. It does leave the reader with a question as to whether Maud’s antics will finally catch up to her. We will probably need to wait for the next book to find out.



I also read The Happiest Refugee by Anh Doh I loved this book and will be reviewing it next month.

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.

The next #WOYBS will be Thursday June 15/Friday June 16. I’m looking forward to seeing and reading What’s Been on your Bookshelf? during the month.

Sue Loncaric

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way

35 Comments

  • Reply Jo May 19, 2023 at 08:16

    A good mix here and I love the name of your new bookclub… I also love the title The Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good. And adding to the list of things to love, Vanessa Redgrave brought Clarissa to life didn’t she?

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2023 at 16:59

      Hi Jo, I love the book club name too, although I might be biased. The Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good sounds a great title but I was a little disappointed. Absolutely, Vanessa Redgrave brought Clarissa to life for me and I found after reading the book, listening to the audio and watching the film, I have to say I enjoyed Mrs Dalloway. I might even try to re-read it one day. x

  • Reply Retirement Reflections May 19, 2023 at 08:16

    Hi, Sue – I love the wide selection of books that you have read this past month. I especially love your new book club with your grandson. I can’t wait to hear what you both thought of your first book shared, and the discussion you had together on this. Ethan is so right — “Never Stop Reading” is timeless advice. Great reviews!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2023 at 17:00

      I’m really enjoying Ethan’s selection even though it is a children’s book. David Walliams is a little like Roald Dahl, although look what happened to his books lately. That’s another story x

  • Reply Jo May 19, 2023 at 08:16

    Oh, I forgot to say, I’m still thinking about Mrs Dalloway and liking it more in hindsight.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2023 at 17:00

      Me, too. As I wrote in my previous reply I might even be tempted to read the book again. x

  • Reply Reads from March to May 2023 – Eat, Play, Live May 19, 2023 at 10:19

    […] What’s on your Bookshelf hosted by Sue (Women Living Well After 50), Donna (Retirement Reflections), Jo (And Anyways), and Deb (Deb’s […]

  • Reply OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com May 19, 2023 at 11:17

    What great fun that you and Ethan are doing a book club together. I love it!! Children’s books are some of my favorite reads. I have been wanting to encourage the members of my book club to read more children’s books. Maybe this summer I will have a month devoted to just children’s books. You have inspired me!!

    I am not familiar with The Ice Monster but it sounds like a book my Lucia would like. Will check for it at the library.

    On the otherhand, Oona Out of Order is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. You might check out Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies, which features another quirky couple of characters.

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2023 at 17:04

      I’m enjoying The Ice Monster, Leslie and I’m sure your granddaughter would too. I didn’t think I would like OOofOrder but I really did enjoy it once I got into the book. Thanks for the Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies recommendation. Perhaps it was written for us??? LOL:) x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones May 19, 2023 at 12:43

    Hi Sue. Each of these books appeal to me so they are all going in my list. I love a time travel book so really looking forward to Out of Order. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2023 at 17:05

      Hi Jen, I think you would enjoy these books as we have similar tastes. I’ve even ventured into the fantasy/time travel books and starting to enjoy them. Out of Order was really enjoyable once I got into the story. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee May 19, 2023 at 18:03

    You’ve sold me on this Oona out of order – by the cover I thought ‘not for me’ but you’ve intrigued me, Sounds like there’s more depth there….I didn’t love Mrs Dalloway but I am keen to read a room of One’s Own after seeing the play….so to be fair to Ms Woolf, I will read that before commiting her to my don’t like pile. I found I just didn’t engage enough with anyone in Mrs Dalloway.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 04:55

      Hi Lydia, Oona grew on me and I think it is a book you have to read without interruption. I am finding there are many who didn’t enjoy Mrs Dalloway which makes me feel much better (I thought it was me and I was missing something)! I have a Room of One’s Own downloaded and I found that listening to the audio and watching the movie of Mrs D were much more enjoyable. Juliet Stevenson did a wonderful job as narrator and Vanessa Hardgrave brought Clarissa to life and gave me a much better understanding. xx

  • Reply Gail Is This Mutton May 19, 2023 at 18:05

    I love the analysis in your book reviews. Like you, I don’t care for books about time travel, but you have piqued my interest with Oona Out Of Order. I don’t usually listen to audio books, except on holiday, and I have been wondering if I should try them for “difficult” literary books that I stopped reading. I must confess I’ve never read any Virginia Woolf, I have no idea why. The Trivia Night sounds interesting and one for my list. Have a great weekend x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 04:58

      Hi Gail, thank you for your comment about my analysis in my reviews. I’m never sure…. I found Virginia Woolf difficult to read, having struggled with Mrs Dalloway and then DNF To the Lighthouse. The Trivia Night is a holiday read yet it held my interest. x

  • Reply tobyo May 19, 2023 at 22:47

    What a great idea to start a book club with your grandson! I love it! Mrs. Dalloway keeps showing up in my world such that maybe I should add it to my bookshelf. It was mentioned more than once in The Sentence by Louise Erdrich that I just finished(which centers around the author’s bookstore in Minneapolis). And I think I might even have it in my extensive home library (mostly hubby’s books). And I have as yet to listen to a book as I like to hold and read a book. But maybe some day I will try it, maybe on a flight somewhere. Love your reviews!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 05:02

      Hi Toby thank so much for your comment and I’m actually enjoying The Ice Monster and discussing with my grandson. Mrs Dalloway is not to everyone’s taste and I certainly struggled with it. I would suggest that watching the movie and listening to the audio brought the book to life. Happy reading! xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 05:06

      P.S. The duplicate thing happens to me on some blogs but your original message came through thank you xx

      • Reply tobyo May 20, 2023 at 05:15

        Whew! See? You’re never the only one 🤗 Glad the original made it.

        • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 05:23

          I know, but it can be frustrating especially if like you, you make the effort to leave another comment, just in case. Enjoy your weekend. x

          • tobyo May 20, 2023 at 05:27

            Thanks! You as well. It’s my birthday so we’re eating out. And I get to see my daughter and her beau 💜 whee!

          • Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 16:56

            Happy birthday! I hope you enjoyed your dinner and also seeing your daughter. x

          • tobyo May 20, 2023 at 21:07

            Thanks!

  • Reply Joanne May 20, 2023 at 03:12

    Oh I just love that you started a book club with your grandson and he picked the perfect name for your club too! It sounds like you read some great books this month too. I see a few I’m going to add to my list.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 05:05

      Hi Joanne, I’m enjoying my new bookclub and The Ice Monster is a great read (even for adults). I’m so pleased we started this link up because I look forward to reading what everyone has read during the month and getting their thoughts and reviews. Happy reading and see you next month. x

  • Reply Kathrine Eldridge May 20, 2023 at 07:35

    Thanks for sharing these reads! I’m hoping to get some time to read this summer on vacation.

    https://www.kathrineeldridge.com

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2023 at 16:57

      Summer vacation is the perfect time for reading, Katherine. Enjoy xx

  • Reply Toni Pike May 20, 2023 at 20:08

    These sounds great, Sue – I love all the titles. I read Mrs Dalloway many years ago. Toni x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 21, 2023 at 07:12

      Hi Toni, did you like Mrs Dalloway? My book club struggled. x

      • Reply Toni Pike May 21, 2023 at 08:23

        It was a bit dull. It certainly hasn’t stuck with me. x

        • Reply Sue Loncaric May 21, 2023 at 09:00

          that seems to be the general consensus, Toni x

          • Toni Pike May 27, 2023 at 13:42

            Hi Sue, yesterday I suddenly thought of one classic that I loved and is definitely not boring – have you ever read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy? I couldn’t stop turning the pages. xx

          • Sue Loncaric May 29, 2023 at 10:05

            I’ve not read The Scarlet Pimpernel, Toni so thanks for the recommendation.x

  • Reply Debbie May 22, 2023 at 18:18

    I LOVE your new bookclub Sue and the name is perfect – what a great Nan you are to your grandsons! I also really enjoyed your reviews and have added the Oona book as time travel is something I like reading about. We read the Elderly lady is up to no good for my local bookclub a while ago and it certainly was a bit quirky! I’m like you, the reading of Mrs Dalloway came alive with Juliet Stevenson, whereas I got lost trying to ‘read’ it. Your 52 challenge is going well and it seems like you are discovering other books you may not have necessarily read had you not been doing the challenge. Go you!! Your reviews are always well thought out and presented, thanks for being a great co-host of WOYBS each month 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 24, 2023 at 13:46

      Hi Deb, I’m loving the book Ethan selected and we have our next one ready to go when he has finished The Ice Monster. I’m glad you found the Elderly Lady is up to no good a bit quirky, I wasn’t a fan. Thanks for your comment about my reviews there is always that feeling that I’m am amateur missing the mark. xx

    I love hearing from you and your comments are important to me

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.