Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

Books I enjoyed in October 2023 – What’s On Your Bookshelf?

October 20, 2023

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.

October brought several surprises in reading. I read some based on the 52 Book Club 2023 Challenge and was introduced to new authors and genres. Audiobooks were still a regular part of my library.

Over the last month, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the books that I’ve read. Some left me thinking about them long after I’d finished.

What’s On Your Bookshelf? Books I enjoyed in October 2023

For Love of a Rose by Antonia Ridge – My rating ✭✭✭✭✭

This non-fiction book was given to me by my cousin several years ago and I don’t know what it has taken until now to read it.

What's On Your Bookshelf? For Love of a Rose

‘A true and very unusual story of two remarkable families, the Meillands in Lyons and the Paolinos in Antibes, who shared a common devotion to roses and later became united through marriage and through their work together; and of the creation of the famous Peace rose that became known throughout the world at the end of the Second World War. (Faber and Faber)

My Review

For Love of a Rose is a delight and not just for horticulturalists. Based on a true story about two families the Meillands of Lyons and the Paolinos in Antibes. As the story develops we see both families share a common passion – roses. From growing and developing new varieties to the families united through marriage to the ultimate story of the creation of the world renowned Peace Rose at the end of World War II. This was such a beautiful story to read and definitely worth the 5 star rating.

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly – My rating ✭✭✭✭✭

I selected Hello Universe for prompt #27 in the 52 Book Club Challenge – Newbery Medal Winner. I had never heard of the Newbery Medal so I did a dive down a rabbit hole to find out more information.

The John Newbery Medal, frequently shortened to the Newbery, is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), to the author of “the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children”. The Newbery and the Caldecott Medal are considered the two most prestigious awards for children’s literature in the United States. (Wikepedia)

What's On Your Bookshelf? Hello Universe

Winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal.
Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero).

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball.

They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms. (Goodreads)

My review

Although a children’s book, I thoroughly enjoyed the story celebrating our unique differences, being brave even when you are scared and developing friendships.

I will be buying a copy for my grandson. It’s a good story but also with life lessons intertwined.

The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson – My rating ✭✭✭✭

What's On Your Bookshelf?  The Last List of Mabel Beaumong

Mabel Beaumont’s husband Arthur loved lists. He’d leave them for her everywhere. ‘ eggs, butter, sugar’. ‘I love today, tomorrow, always’. But now Arthur is gone. He softly, gently, not making a fuss. But he’s still left her a list. This one has just one item on it ‘Find D’.

Mabel feels sure she knows what it means. She must track down her best friend Dot, who she hasn’t seen since the fateful day she left more than sixty years ago. It seems impossible. She doesn’t even know if Dot’s still alive. Also, every person Mabel talks to seems to need help first, with missing husbands, daughters, parents. Mabel finds her list is just getting longer, and she’s still no closer to finding Dot.

What she doesn’t know is that her list isn’t just about finding her old friend. And that if she can admit the secrets of the past, maybe she could even find happiness again… A completely heartbreaking, beautiful, uplifting story, guaranteed to make you smile but also make you cry. Perfect for fans of My Name is Ove , Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine , and The Keeper of Stories .” (Goodreads)

My Review

Mabel is not your most pleasant person and Arthur is such a kind soul. They have been together for 62 years and when Arthur suddenly dies, Mabel is left alone. She isn’t what you call a lover of life – not like Arthur. In fact, I wondered why they married at all. Going through Arthur’s lists (he is a list maker), Mabel discovers a notation ‘Find D’. This discovery marks the beginning of a new life for Mabel outside her comfort zone. A mystery to solve, making unlikely friends and doing things she has never done before.

I wondered where this book would take the reader. What developed was a poignant story of love, lost love, heartbreak and finding true love again. No not, a soppy romance but a story of a woman who has denied here feelings for so long she wonders if she will ever feel again.

I was left with a range of feelings and questions about the consequences of our decisions, how life could be so different if we had chosen a different path.

I highly recommend The Last List of Miss Mable Beaumont – it will make you think and question.

The Last Summer by Karen Swan (Wild Isle #1)- My Rating ✭✭✭✭

What's On Your bookshelf? The Last Summer

Wild-spirited Effie Gillies has lived all her life on the small island of St Kilda but when Lord Sholto, heir to the Earl of Dumfries, visits, the attraction between them is instant. For one glorious week she guides the handsome young visitor around the isle, falling in love for the first time – until a storm hits and her world falls apart. (Goodreads)

My Review

I discovered this series through my good friend, author and co-host of WOYBS, Joanne Tracey ( be sure to check out Jo’s books on Goodreads which I highly recommend)

Now back to The Last Summer which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m always intrigued by the mystery of the Outer Hebrides, a group of Islands off the North West of Scotland. Living in harsh conditions I wondered why people still live in these places which are desolate and uncomfortable.

Last Summer – Wild Isle #1 is the first in a 3 books series by Karen Swan. A book about secrets, the small island of St Kilda with inhabitants living the same way for countless generations is the perfect setting for mystery, intrigue, a forbidden love and murder! Easy to read and with an ending that leaves the reader hanging, I’m looking forward to reading the next book The Stolen Hours to find out what happens.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – My rating ✭✭✭✭✭

What's On Your Bookshelf? To Kill a mockingbird

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. “To Kill A Mockingbird” became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, “To Kill A Mockingbird” takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.‘ (Goodreads)

My Review

Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

This book touched me back in high school when it was in the English curriculum. It remained one of my all time favourite books and so I selected it as my choice for our book club. Reading To Kill A Mockingbird now, some 50 odd years later, I was still affected emotionally as I was back then but also with the benefit of life experience. Unfortunately, our world today doesn’t seem to have progressed – racial hatred, bigotry, injustice and judgmental attitudes still persist and the fight continues.

Written through the eyes of Scout (Jean Louise Finch), a child growing up in the 1930s in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, this is a coming of age book for Scout, her brother Jem and friend Dill as they are exposed to a flawed society whilst watching their father, Atticus try to defend a black man against all odds. The writing is emotive – anger, sadness, despair as well as nostalgic.

If you’ve not read To Kill A Mockingbird you need this on your TBR file. If you have read it, read it again.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper – My Rating ✭✭✭

What's On your Bookshelf? Go Set A Watchman

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—”Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her.

Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt.

Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.‘ (Goodreads)

My Review

After re-reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ I decided to read ‘Go Set A Watchman’ by Harper Lee. I had not read this book before which was published some 50 years later in 2015. Jean Louise Finch (Scout) is 26 years old and has come home from New York to visit to her father, Atticus. What she didn’t expect was to have the pedestal where she has always placed her father, shattered as she comes to terms with learning that life isn’t as simple as we want it to be.

I didn’t enjoy Go Set A Watchman as much as To Kill A Mockingbird. Was it because I also was surprised to find that Atticus wasn’t perfect? Was it the meandering storytelling? Was it that we sometimes don’t want to be faced with reality? I’m not sure but like Mockingbird, I was engrossed in the themes and I’m glad I did read this second book of Harper Lee.

“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.”

52 Bookclub Challenge Update

I’ve almost completed this challenge with only one prompt to complete. I will definitely be taking the challenge again next year as I’ve discovered some new genres and authors and I’ve also discovered what I like to read and what I don’t enjoy.

52 Book Club 2023 Reading Challenge

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 November 16/Friday November 17. 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 October 20, 2023 at 08:21

    Hi, Sue – Congratulations on just about finishing your ’52 Book Club Challenge’. Very impressive! So far, I’ve only read six of the books that you have listed for your challenge, but I look forward to reading more.
    I can’t wait to discuss ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ with you. That book is meant for dialogue! I’m so glad that you also read ‘Go Set A Watchman.’ Although not smooth or polished (and definitely meandering) it was fascinating to know that GSAW was the platform from which TKAM was born. It’s hard to imagine what reaction unpolished GSAW would have received if it had been published in the 1950’s. It is intensely political, gives a vivid sense of what was going on on the ground in Southern Alabama and references Brown v Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed the segregation of public schools in the United States. My head still swims trying to digest all of this.
    Thank you for another great post!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 20, 2023 at 09:10

      Hi Donna, so much to absorb from TKMB and GSAW. I’m glad I read both and looking forward to next week’s discussion x

  • Reply marsha57 October 20, 2023 at 12:55

    I remember reading Go Set a Watchman and wishing someone else had read it so we could talk about it. It’s been many years, but I remember feeling so discontented with the novel. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, the book as well as the movie. I need to reread both of them again in light of the world we live in…you would think things would be better. I guess all of these evils have been hidden and only come to light after the disastrous election here in the US in 2016. I had hoped it was only in the US. Gosh, that seems to US-centric, and I don’t mean it to be. I just mean the hatred, racism and just all around horridness seemed unleased in 2016 here in the US. And, I’m afraid it will be even worse in 2024.

  • Reply Alison October 20, 2023 at 15:51

    Some new books and authors for me here Sue! Definitely going to put Mabel Beaumont and The Last Summer on my ever growing TBR shelf on my ipad. Thanks for the great reviews.

  • Reply Jennifer Jones October 20, 2023 at 16:58

    Hi Sue, For The Love of a Rose sounds like a book that I’d enjoy. It’s going on my list as is Go Set a Watchman. I desperately need more reading time to work through my long list.

  • Reply Toni Pike October 20, 2023 at 19:30

    What a fabulous reading list, Sue – how fantastic to read bother Harper Lee books, To Kill A Mockingbird is so wonderful.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 05:43

      Hi Toni, I remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird at school and it has always stayed with me. x

  • Reply Cathy October 20, 2023 at 21:28

    Hello Sue – you certainly came up with some beauties there didn’t you😊
    No luck at my library with Mabel Beaumont but The Last Summer (plus some others by the same author) is definitely in the catalogue so that will be coming home with me sometime.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 05:48

      Hi Cathy, yes it was a good month for reading with only one book that I just couldn’t finish because I just didn’t like it. I’m getting better at being able to set aside books I don’t enjoy rather than struggling through. A shame about Mabel Beaumont but I’m sure you will enjoy The Last Summer. I find sometimes my library doesn’t have books I’m wanting to read. It is surprising because most of the time they are books that have been recommended, so you would think they would have at least one copy. x

  • Reply Joanne October 21, 2023 at 01:02

    I so rarely think to read Newberry or Caldacott winners but they are usually some great stories and I have yet to be disappointed in any I’ve tried (though I always think they are going to be boring). It looks like a fabulous month of reading! I just reread To Kill a Mockingbird a few years ago and found that I got a lot more out of story than I did when reading it in high school; though I did enjoy each read through.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 05:49

      I had never heard of the Newberry (or Caldacott) awards but I definitely enjoyed Hello Universe. To Kill A Mockingbird has always been a favourite of mine since high school and like you, I have gained so much more from reading it again, now in my 60s. x

  • Reply Gail Is This Mutton October 21, 2023 at 02:28

    I adore roses so that first book really appeals to me. I never used to like the Peace rose but now I appreciate it. I also loved To Kill a Mockingbird. I read the foĺlow-up but can’t remember anything about it. Very interesting choices as always Sue. Have a great weekend x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 05:51

      I hope you can find For Love of a Rose, Gail especially if you adore roses. The book was a gift from my cousin several years ago so there is sentimental reasons to keep it as well. Like you I wasn’t as impressed with Go Set A Watchman as I was wit To Kill A Mockingbird which will always be one of my favourite books.

  • Reply October 21, 2023 at 04:08

    I read the children’s book, Hello, Universe, too. I think during the pandemic. It is very good. Sometimes, I enjoy children’s books more than those written for adults. Look how well you have done on your challenge!! A+.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 05:53

      I had never heard of The Newberry Medal, Leslie but Hello Universe was a delightful book and one I will definitely buy for my grandsons to read. I agree that children’s books can be more enjoyable perhaps because there is still imagination and joy in the little things we can experience through the eyes of a child. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee October 21, 2023 at 05:53

    My mum had that Antonia Ridge book. It’s funny I saw the cover and had a flood of memories. Strange what goes in. I too did not love Go Set a watchman. It just seemed to be ‘off’ target somehow. #WOYBS

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 05:56

      Hi Lydia, memories of my Mum and growing up come to me when I read your posts, especially when you write about where you go in Sydney. I agree with your – Go Set A Watchman just didn’t sit well with me. Perhaps because I had Atticus on such a high pedestal?? I just didn’t enjoy the writing in GSAW but To Kill A Mockingbird will always be a favourite of mine. x

  • Reply ratnamurti October 21, 2023 at 08:19

    Am embarrassed to admit that I love obscure old Star Trek books. Showing my age, here 🙂 The very best book that I ever read, and it was when I was young in the late 1970s, was a book called How To Look And Feel Young All Your Life, by Mary Elen Coleman. Still relevant today, except the bit about how things were for women in that era. She was Australian, so it was very relatable. If you can ever find a copy, you would all enjoy it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 06:00

      I love your blog name and thank you for joining us at WOYBS? Nothing wrong with Star Trek books, although I’ve not read them I watched the original television series (showing my age). How to Look and Feel Young All Your Life is a book we should all read. I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the recommendation. x

  • Reply Janine October 21, 2023 at 11:19

    Another great selection of books Sue. I feel particularly drawn to the ‘love of a rose’ book and the Karen Swan books. Congratulations on you 52 books challenge.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 06:01

      The Love of A Rose book is such a delightful book to read and especially if you enjoy growing or just appreciating roses. The Challenge hasn’t been that difficult really so I’ll be back again next year to explore different genres. x

  • Reply Bernie October 21, 2023 at 12:54

    You’ve done amazing on your book challenge with only 1 left to go! Well done. I have requested the Karen Swan ones but there is a L O N G wait for the first one. Bernie

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 06:03

      Hi Bernie, the challenge hasn’t been too difficult as most of the books I read have fitted the prompts. Of course, some of the genres I don’t usually read, such as Fantasy have opened up new worlds for me. I’ll be doing it again next year. x

  • Reply Jo October 21, 2023 at 17:49

    I love the sound of Mabel… and For Love of a Rose. I also enjoyed your reviews of Mockingbird and Watchman.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 06:04

      I didn’t like Mabel, Jo but I grew to like her. For Love of a Rose is such a beautiful book and a ‘gentle’ book if you understand what I mean by that. Thanks for the comment about my reviews, I’m looking forward to our discussions. x

  • Reply Janet Alcorn October 22, 2023 at 01:54

    I just added The Last Summer to my TBR – it sounds wonderful.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 23, 2023 at 06:05

      Hi Janet, I hope you enjoy The Last Summer. I think we all have so many books on our TBR list, we just need time to read them all. x

  • Reply Debbie October 24, 2023 at 18:14

    These are all great reviews Sue, I always value your suggestions and I haven’t read any of these books!! To Kill a Mockingbird was a great read and I so enjoyed our discussion on it. You are such a valuable co-host in this linkup as you read a variety of genres and tell us what you think in a lovely way. Congrats on the 52 book challenge, I’m keen to do it next year as I’ve said before. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric October 26, 2023 at 09:38

      Thanks, Deb! I always enjoy your recommendations as we have similar reading tastes. I think you would enjoy the 52 Book Club Challenge and if you are really keen, they have monthly mini challenges as well which I might investigate on a ad hoc basis. Glad you enjoyed TKAM and the discussion was very informative, wasn’t it? xx

  • Reply Snapdragon November 10, 2023 at 04:51

    I am reading through the Newbury list and have yet to read Hello Universe. It does sound like a good story to read.
    Have a great November reading month.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric November 10, 2023 at 09:20

      I really enjoyed Hello Universe and will be getting a copy for my grandson to read.

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