What’s on my bookshelf?

Alrighty, so here it is, the very first instalment of What’s On Your Bookshelf? I’m joining my friends SueDeb and Donna with “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” a monthly feast of all things book related. We truly hope you’ll join us – guidelines are at the bottom of this post.

Okay, without any more faffing about, here’s what was on my bookshelf in July.

As a spoiler alert, it was a big month for reading but in my defence:

  • I did have a few days away on holiday – and a couple of flights with nothing to do but read
  • I had a few days where we were locked down
  • One book – Jane Eyre – I’ve been reading with my book club for a couple of months and finished it during July.
  • I didn’t do nearly as much writing as I should have done.

Okay, without any more palaver, let’s get into it…

An Auctioneer’s Lot, by Philip Serrell

This is the third Philip Serrell I’ve read in the past couple of months (see last month’s book post).

I’ve been watching Philip Serrell for years on Bargain Hunt and, more recently, Antiques Roadtrip. He’s usually seen with a massive scarf around his neck and is partial to some of the more off-beat pieces. He’s also incredibly knowledgeable. This was the third instalment in his memoirs, and I picked it up as part of my research into the lead character for my upcoming Philomena Barker cosy mystery series.

It might have been research, but it was an easy read and I found myself giggling often.

Other Women, by Cathy Kelly

It’s fair to say I found this one slow to get into, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jane Eyre, by Charotte Bronte

How had I not read this before now? I thought I had. In fact, if you’d asked me 6 months ago if I’d read Jane Eyre I would have answered in the affirmative. I think, though, I’d seen it – and there is a difference. Bronte’s words – and Jane – were like a sucker punch right into my soul. There are scenes that still play behind my eyes like a movie. To say I loved it would be underselling it. 

Reading this book in book club (with Sue, Donna and Deb), a block of chapters at a time, only enhanced the experience. Sometimes I wonder whether we turn too many people away from the classics by force-feeding them in high school English. If that was you, give it another go, I say. You might be surprised what the perspective of years brings to the Bronte experience. 

As I’ve done with each of our book club reads, I’ve baked some things inspired by the book we’re reading – in this case a seed cake and the Fat Rascals we baked together as a book club.

The Nancy’s and Nancy Business by RW McDonald

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading these books.

Set in a small country town just outside of Dunedin, the star of this particular show is 11-year-old Tippy Chan. Tippy is enchanting, but it’s the quirky cast of characters that makes this book so fabulous. I almost forgot there was a mystery involved.

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of the sequel, Nancy Business (thanks Debbish) and read it immediately after finishing The Nancy’s – and enjoyed it just as much. This time, though, the mystery was front and centre.

I can’t wait for The Nancy’s next outing.

Both books were in my top reads of the month.

Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

As you can probably tell from the photo, I read this in the GP’s surgery while I was waiting for my covid vaccination. Then I kept reading it while I was waiting the 20 minutes or so after the vaccination to go home, and I kept reading it once I’d got home and was feeling a tad on the blah side (although I had no other side effects as such).

It was a quick read, a powerful read, and beautifully written. While I appreciated it – and am so glad I read it – I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it.

But what’s it about?

Okay, well, remember how in Jane Eyre, Rochester had a mad wife locked away in the tower room of his mansion? Her name was Bertha and this is her story and, more importantly, the story of how she came to be locked away in that tower room. Spoiler alert, she wasn’t always mad.

Sunshine and Sweet Peas In Nightingale Square, by Heidi Swain

Heidi Swain is one of those authors I turn to when the world is getting a little too real and practical for me.

It is exactly what it says it is on the cover.

The Secret Path, by Karen Swan

Swan’s protagonists are always damaged in some way and her romances are never straightforward – and that’s exactly what keeps me coming back. In fact, even though the romance is the central part of the storyline, I have problems classifying her books as contemporary romances.

This one, set mostly in Costa Rica, is no different.

While I had a few issues with the resolution and a few other structural problems, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the read.

The One We Fell In Love With, by Paige Toon

I can’t believe this is the first Paige Toon title I’ve read – but I can say with some certainty, it won’t be my last.

A strong contender for my read of the month…which was… (insert drumroll)…

Spring Clean For The Peach Queen, by Sasha Wasley

An Aussie author, and a great story about second chances and starting over – and the shallowness of “popularity” – this one drew me in by the cover and the title, and didn’t let me go until I’d finished.

In a month where I read some fabulous books, this was my pick.

Okay, over to you…what’s on your bookshelf?

I’m joining my friends SueDeb and Donna with “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” a monthly feast of all things book related.

You can find Deb’s post here, Sue’s here and Donna’s here.

If you’re linking up a blog post you can do so in the comments. Alternatively, you might want to get involved via Instagram or your social media of choice. Whichever way you choose to share, don’t forget to leave a note in the comments so we can find you. We even have a hashtag you can use #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge.

We also have a badge. That’s it below and all participants, contributors are welcome to display it on their blog, website or social media.

Simply take a screenshot of the image below, and follow these easy-peasy instructions here. Prefer a jpg? Drop me your email, and I’d be happy to email one to you.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

50 thoughts

  1. Woohoo, we’ve done it Jo, our little monthly book chat is live now! You’ve listed some great titles here and I’ve even read some of them too :). I tend to reach for a Cathy Kelly when things are going a bit rough so have mentioned a few of them too. I loved discovering Aussie author Sasha Wasley and have read most of her books now.
    I loved reading your post!!

  2. I think I would have had the same reaction if someone had asked me whether I had read Jane Eyre… of course! But, like you discovered, I don’t think I have. Your book club sounds like a terrific way to make your way through a book like that… a bit at a time.

    1. It truly is Janis. I think we’re all getting an amazing appreciation for both the story and the craft. And the themes are so very now.

  3. Hi, Jo – I love everything about this post. Your writing always make me say ‘why didn’t I think of that’. I read Wide Saragosa Sea almost 40 years ago (simply shocking when you put it this way). The incredibly beautiful writing, as well as the twist in the tale, both really stuck with me.
    But wait – No food books?! Who are you and what have you done with Jo?!! 😀

  4. Hi Jo! We are off and running! or should that be reading! I love your collection that you’ve been reading and always find some good choices from your list. We have similar tastes in books so I will certainly be looking forward to your monthly #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge posts. I am so pleased to be part of this with you, Deb and Donna and the Online Bookclub combined with the baking is something I look forward to. Happy reading! xx

  5. Congratulations on the launch of WOYB It’s a fabulous idea and I’ve been looking forward to it. If I’m more organised next month I will probably coincide my reading list. I’ve always loved Jane Eyre. I’ve just finished Where The Crawdads Sing. It’s an amazing book with beautiful writing

    1. I didn’t expect to enjoy Crawdads as much as I did. The writing was mesmerising. Thanks for joining in!

    1. I’d never really heard of Jean Rhys before this, so will search out this one. I’m the same with short books. If life is super chaotic I sometimes feel I need something almost bite-sized. Thanks for linking up.

  6. I’ve only read the Nancys from this batch. I do intend to join in but completely forgot to prepare something so will scratch around today! If I can’t write about what I’ve been reading then things really are dire!

  7. I haven’t read any of these! I found that with several other books I was supposed to read in high school… just the fact that they were required reading made me think I wouldn’t like them but as I’ve started my way through a few here and there I am really enjoying them (To Kill a Mockingbird and A Town Like Alice come to mind). Linking up my July reading list since I haven’t gotten around to posting my August reading list yet. https://www.myslicesoflife.com/2021/07/the-books-i-read-in-july.html

  8. Hi Jo, I just finished reading “This Tender Land’ by William Kent Krueger. Like you said about ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, it can’t be classified as enjoyable, but it is very interesting. It’s the story of a band of orphans who escape horrific conditions and set off in search of family, belonging, identity, etc. Perils, narrow escapes, the kindness of strangers, and determination move the plot along against the backdrop of the great depression in 1930’s America. The story ultimately unwinds to a surprising and satisfying ending.

    As for ‘Jane Eyre’ – it is one of those books that I also think I have read, but more than likely saw the movie. I know I read ‘Rebecca’, which was written in another century, but is very similar. I sometimes get the two confused. If you haven’t read Rebecca, I highly recommend it.

    Thanks for instigating a new challenge with all these lovely ladies. I will check out their posts next and then get on with the massive download that will surely ensue. 🙂

    1. Every so ofyen I like to read something like Wide Sargasso Sea and the one you’ve mentioned, This Tender Land – just to test my comfort zones. I read Rebecca many (many) years ago, but maybe it’s time to re-read… Thanks for joining in!

  9. You have been busy! Always looking for new authors so will add some of these to my list – here’s looking at you Paige Toon! What with lockdown and all the heart breaking news I’m struggling to read anything too serious. I thoroughly enjoyed Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead which wasn’t nearly as dreary as it sounds – I loved it. Now I’m re-reading the Harry Potters as a bit of light relief!

    1. I’m the same. Reading about real life (in particular) feels too, well, real. Harry Potter is always a good idea.

  10. Jo, I enjoyed reading your post! Congrats on the launch of WOYBS with Donna, Sue, and Deb. I’ll see if I can borrow some of the books you mentioned. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

    1. It was an unusually busy reading month – and inversely proportional to the amount of writing I got done lol.

  11. Love this idea. We seem to have a similar taste in books so I will look out for some of these new authors. I love Karen Swan and have many of her books.

      1. Lol. It was an unusual month – and my reading total was inversely proportional to the writing I didn’t do.

  12. Hi Jo – it’s going to be great to see what you’re all reading … and like others … the mention of Jane Eyre – a classic … yet have I read it, or the Brontes – I must pay more attention; while grabbing some of the titles you’ve suggested – particularly The Nancy and Nancy’s Business … and years ago I read Delia Owens’ ‘Cry of the Kalahari’ when I was still living in southern Africa – so I’d like to read her novel. Cheers for now – I’ll join at some stage … lots starting up here so work to get on with … take care – Hilary

    1. I LOVE hearing about what other people are reading. It really helps push me out of my genre comfort zone.

  13. I just had to pop back here and thank you for the recommendation to read The Nancys, which I finished today. I couldn’t stop reading although at first in was wondering, what on earth am I reading? I loved it! I have now reserved the next book and can’t wait to read it. Love finding new books to read and enjoy 🙂

  14. What a wonderful idea for a challenge! Count me in for next month. And yes, I think we do turn people off to the classics by forcing people to read them at too young an age. I read Jane Eyre in college and *loved * it. I’ll have to read it again one day.

Comments are closed.