What’s on my bookshelf? October and November edition

Okay, so I missed October’s edition of What’s On Your Bookshelf while I was on holiday – which makes this one a bumper edition. So grab a cup of tea and settle down… we could be here for a while…

Before I get into what I’ve been reading since we last spoke in September (spoiler alert, I’ve read a lot), while in the UK I was lucky enough to walk in the footsteps of some of my literary heroines.

The Brontes

While in Yorkshire we visited Haworth and the home of the Brontes.

Being able to see (the tiny) rooms where Charlotte, Anne, and Emily created their masterpieces was special indeed; and visiting the region that inspired so much of their work made it all so much more real somehow.

The steep streets and the smokestacks of the mills, the blackened stone buildings, and the wild and windy moors (see what I did there?) brought the stories alive.

Jane Austen

At the opposite end of the spectrum, was Jane Austen’s Bath and Southampton.

We had afternoon tea in The Pump Room, and although Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey) or Anne Elliott (Persuasion) would not have had scones as we did (scones as we now know them didn’t come into existence until after baking powder was invented i.e., after 1856) I could still imagine how it must have been.

I also visited the Jane Austen museum and tried to write with a feather quill as Jane must have done. What can I say? Respect.

While Jane didn’t spend long in Southampton, there are still associations with her in the town – although the house she lived in at 2 Castle Square, backing onto the town walls, is now a pub, The Juniper Berry.

What I’ve been reading


If I was to have posted last month, these are the books I would have told you about…

After enjoying Hamnet, I wanted to love Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait, but I didn’t. It did, however, make an impression on me and I found it uncomfortable, claustrophobic, and, at times, cruel – but beautifully, lyrically written. This was, I suspect, what the author wanted – to show us life and the plight of women in the Florentine and Ferrera courts in Renaissance Italy.

Besides, I was reading this at a time when I was ridiculously chaotically stressed with work in the lead-up to going away so I suspect my appreciation (or otherwise) of this one was influenced by that mindset.

In contrast, Veronica Henry’s The Impulse Purchase and Holly Wainwright’s I Give My Marriage A Year were the perfect novels to kickstart my holiday. I read both on the (long) flight to England. What can I say? I don’t sleep on planes. Of the two I think I enjoyed The Impulse Purchase more – it was a joy thing.

I’d been saving The Bullet That Missed and The Twist of a Knife to read on holiday and they did not disappoint. The Thursday Murder Club just keeps getting better, as does Horowitz’s Hawthorne mysteries. I was hard-pressed to separate these two as my favourite reads of September/October.


The Dales Detectives, by Julia Chapman

While in Grassington, in the Yorkshire Dales, I picked up a book written by a local author, Julia Chapman. The Stripey Badger Bookshop (see main picture) had all of them for sale in paperback, I, however, only had luggage room for one.

The book was Date With Death and it was the first in a series of cosy crime novels starring Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe. To be honest, the cliched names almost put me off, but the story was fabulous. So fabulous that I immediately downloaded books 2,3 and 4 to read on the cruise.

Being in the Dales as I read the first (and second) really enhanced the experience as the fells Chapman wrote about were all around.

After finishing these I took advantage of a port day and decent wifi to download No. 5, Date With Danger… and that’s when disaster struck. No. 6, Date With Deceit, was not available in iTunes or the Australian Amazon store, although no. 7, Date with Betrayal was. What to do? Read out of order? The horror.

I reached out to the author on Instagram who assured me the book was available in the UK Amazon store, but it’s not available on Kindle. There was nothing for it but to read no. 7. (I’ve since managed to get the Audible version of Date With Deceit, but it takes me so much longer to listen to a book than it does to read it… heavy sighs).

These are, however, an absolute masterclass in how to write a cozy crime series.

The Rest

The second leg of our flight home the other week – from Singapore to Sydney – was characterised by two things:

  • two screaming babies and
  • a loss of the in-flight entertainment

Given that it was overnight and I don’t sleep on planes (even without screaming babies), I turned to my iPad and the next book on my TBR – Sally Hepworth’s The Younger Wife. It was just the right length for the flight and while I had a fair idea where it was going, it was enjoyable enough.

At Sydney we had a five-hour wait for our next flight and I opened one I’d really been looking forward to – Milly Johnson’s Together Again. Milly Johnson is one of those authors who just keeps getting better – and so it was with this title – which was my read of the month.

I downloaded The Inn At The Top by Neil Hanson partly because it’s about Tan Hill Inn in the North Yorkshire Dales – the highest pub in Britain and partly because I saw it in every bookshop in Yorkshire. You’ve probably read about it – it was the pub where guests were snowed in for three nights last November. Dating back to the 17th century, it’s in the middle of nowhere, with no other houses literally for miles and the closest town, Kirkby Stephen is a very windy eleven miles away.

We also stopped there for lunch one cold and blowy Saturday…

You always know that Christmas is coming with the release of a new Karen Swan novel. They’re usually set in and around the festive season, but other than the cover and the title have very little that is Christmassy about them. This year’s offering, The Christmas Postcards, is no different. It is, however, a very good read.

Another I’d been waiting to be released was Murder Most Royal, the latest in S J Bennett’s cosy crime series starring the late Queen Elizabeth. I’ve read a few reviews where Bennett is criticised for making these mysteries unbelievable, but, hello, it’s not The Crown, people. We know it’s meant to be fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed it – and am looking forward to seeing where Bennett takes this in the future.

Cookbook of the Month

I’ve long been a fan of Recipetin Eats aka Nagi Maehashi and cook something from her website or Instagram page most weeks. I’d pre-ordered a digital copy of this book and had been dying to get stuck into it once we were home.

In the three weeks that we’ve been home I’ve cooked at least six dishes from it and have many more bookmarked. Most recipes are quick, tested, tested and retested by Nagi and her team, and everything I’ve made so far has gone down well.

Plus, if you have the actual book, you can hover your phone over the code and see a video of the dish being made. Bonus.

In any case, Adventure Spaniel has bought a hard copy of the book for Sarah for Christmas (yes, my dog has excellent taste in cookbooks) partly because I think she’ll use it but also so there’s a copy in Hervey Bay when I’m staying there. Just don’t tell her…

Your turn…

Deb, Donna, Sue and I would love you to share what you’ve been reading. The linky is below – and it’s open until Monday evening (AEST).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

35 thoughts

  1. Wow, your reading puts me to shame (but, in my defense, I wasn’t sitting on planes for hours). I bet you gave Julia Chapman a thrill when you reached out. What better complement could an author receive? I sure hope you mentioned that you have a few books also 🙂

  2. Hi, Jo – Adventure Spaniel definitely has great taste in cookbooks — alongside many other incredible talents! 😀 As with Janis, your reading puts mine to shame — plane or no plane involved! Speaking of planes, I hope you managed to sneak in another great book on your current flight!

  3. Hi Jo what a wonderful experience you had visiting Bronte and Austen country. I’d like to hear your thoughts on The Marriage Portrait which I have also reviewed this month. Plane trips are wonderful for readers but not with a screaming baby on a long haul flight.

  4. I’m slightly in love with Horowitz (in Hawthorne series) so delightfully clever and funny. It’s s gorgeous series. I count down the months til the next one….How lovely to see where the authors you loved lived etc. I was reading goethe’s Letters from Venice when I stumbled across his house in Vicenza, quite by accident. I got such a buzz from it, feeling a connection with him across time….

  5. I’ve read a couple of those Yorkshire Dales books – they are fun and just perfect to curl up with. I also enjoyed the one Horowitz I have read and want to read more. Some great ideas there too to add to my looooong list.

    1. Oh wow so many books on here that I like the sound of. Going to have to write them down soon. I love the way you write I can almost imagine you talking, very fast and lively. Do you talk with your hands a lot? Will have a look at Julia Chapman and two others you mentioned about marriage and purchases ☺️

      1. I sure do talk with my hands a lot (and have often been told I speak too quickly). Thanks so much though for the compliment. I love writing these posts.

  6. How wonderful to go to Haworth. I live in the UK but still haven’t done it. You’ve given me some great ideas for future reading. The Inn at the Top would make a great gift for my husband, he did the Coast to Coast walk and stayed in Kirkby Stephen. Finally I also read The Impulse Buy on holiday and really enjoyed it.

  7. Hi Jo. I love reading books that have a connection to the area when travelling. I haven’t read any Richard Osman, but I’m keen and have his first on my tbr list. I went to Jane Austen’s house almost twenty years ago, and really loved immersing myself in her life. I detest long haul flights, but reading makes them bearable.

  8. Hi Jo, what a great recap of your reading, so many good books, some of which I’ve read and others I’m adding to my list as we speak. I’ve just bought Maggie’ O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait and look forward to chatting with you and Sue once I’ve read it. I’m also listening to the first in the Julia Chapman series Date with Death and it’s slow going listening to books I want to enjoy (even at 1.2x speed) and as you say the Samson and Delilah names almost put me off but it’s starting to heat up now! I also want to read the next Anthony Horowitz and SJ Bennett books. I’m so glad you got to visit Bronte and Austen areas, and yes to writing with a quill, how hard is it?? A great post for this month and thanks for being such a fabulous co-host!

  9. Like you I don’t sleep in planes and as a rule read. That’s a long list you got through! I felt the same connection this summer to L. M. Montgomery when I visited many of her sites on Prince Edward Island. Lovely pictures of those beautiful English streets and dales!

  10. Oh I just love when I find a book and discover it’s part of a series I haven’t yet read (though I HATE when I request them through the library and they come in out of order).

  11. Hi Jo – I love this blog post of book reviews interspersed with travel tips – now I have even more books to add to my never ending list, plus more places I want to travel too! As Alison mentioned, I love the way you write too – so much information but in a chatty, conversational format. Thanks for sharing

    1. awww thanks. I sometimes don’t think I’ll ever come to the end of my list – of either books to read or places to go to… and I’m very happy about that.

  12. Well, now my to-read list is even longer. Thanks? 🙂

    Love the pics. I’m one of those boring Americans who’s never been out of North America, so thanks for the armchair trip. I really need to hop a plane across the pond. And I can’t sleep on planes either, so maybe I’d have some much-needed reading time.

    1. I was on a flight home from New Zealand yesterday that was quite substantially delayed – giving me more time to finish what I was reading.

  13. You certainly churned through a multitude of books while you were away Jo. The Date With… series sounds like a fun series – I’m adding it to my reading bucket list. My favourite free book download site got taken down a few weeks ago, so I’m having to be more intentional with my book reading – no more splurging on mulitple books in a series….

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