On My Bookshelf – March

It’s felt like a slow reading month, but I’ve still managed to read 7 books – including one completely out of genre for me. While I was on holidays for a week of the month, obviously I spent more time reading when I should have been writing. I promise to read less and write more next month. Truly.

An Almost Perfect Holiday, by Lucy Diamond

Lucy Diamond is a go-to author for me and while this one was enjoyable, there were times where the plot felt a tad forced. In retrospect though, I wonder whether I felt that way because a week or so later I read The Promise and found myself (unfairly?) comparing the two.

Having said that, I read most of it in one go – on a 3-hour return train trip to Brisbane.

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, by Sophie Hannah

I’m almost ashamed to say this out loud, but I’ve never read anything by Agatha Christie. There, I’ve said it. So, when others have said that Sophie Hannah hasn’t really done justice to the great lady’s estate, I nod but can’t comment. (Having said that, this has such a Anthony Horowitz style about it that I reckon he’d do as stellar a job with Poirot as he’d done with Holmes.)

Having read this though, I’m off to find a Christie to read. I thoroughly enjoyed this and while Inspector Catchpole made a fabulous, albeit self-deprecating, narrator, my favourite character was the elderly aunt of one of the suspects who managed to leave the normally verbose Poirot speechless. I had to muffle a giggle on the train.

One of my favourite reads for the month.

The Cherry Tree Café, by Heidi Swain

I’ve read a few novels by Heidi Swain – most of which have been seasonal ie Christmas. This felt a little like a Christmas story not set in Christmas – if that makes sense. That’s not a bad thing.

I started this on the flight to Cairns and finished it by the pool – which was absolutely the best place to read it.

The Promise, by Lucy Diamond

My second Lucy Diamond for the month, this one had all the feels. When Patrick Sheppard tragically drowns after falling into the Thames, he leaves behind his wife Zoe (and their children). It’s his brother Dan who steps in to try and pick up the pieces and stick them all back together, and this story alternates between him and Zoe.

While An Almost Perfect Holiday left me with the feeling of an almost perfect read, this one ticked all the boxes, kept me reading later than I should (and spending more time by the pool than I should) and was almost my read of the month.

The Paris Secret, by Natasha Lester

While I loved A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald, I’ve been a little disappointed with Lester’s previous couple of novels. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed them, and her writing is glorious, they’ve just left me feeling a little flat. Because of that it’s taken me a little longer to open this one – so many people had said they loved it I didn’t want to be that one who didn’t.

I shouldn’t have worried. I started this one on the flight home from Cairns, was almost disappointed when we landed on time, but was, for the first time, grateful for the (nearly) 2 hour train journey back to the Sunny Coast from Brisbane. The characters jumped off the page at me and I felt completely wrapped up in the story. The back and forward from now to then was done seamlessly and I swear I could feel the Cornish salt spray in my face. I’m in awe of Lester’s storytelling and can only hope that one day I can write as well as she does.

My read of the month.

Elizabeth and Elizabeth, by Sue Williams

I’m trying to keep myself to a budget when it comes to buying books. Of late I’m reading more from the library and picking more up cheaply on Bookbub deals while still setting aside some money each month to support authors ie buy books. This one, though, was an airport purchase and everyone knows that just as it’s perfectly acceptable to have pre-holiday flight bubbles regardless of the time, books purchased at airports don’t count against budgets.

Even though I enjoyed this read immensely, I really wanted to like it even more than I did. It is, however, one of those books that I appreciated more in retrospect.

The two Elizabeths in the title are Elizabeth Macarthur and Elizabeth Macquarie – both of whom had an important influence on the colony of NSW and, therefore, European Australia. 

One was Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of the new governor Lachlan Macquarie, nudging him towards social reform and magnificent buildings and town planning. The other was Elizabeth Macarthur, credited with creating Australia’s wool industry and married to John Macarthur, a dangerous enemy of the establishment.

from the blurb…

These two shouldn’t have been friends – Elizabeth Macquarie was married to Governor Lachlan Macquarie and Elizabeth Macarthur was married to John Macarthur, who had a key role in the rebellion against the previous governor, Bligh (the same one of Mutiny on the Bounty fame). To say that he was a rebel and not a friend of the establishment would be an understatement.

Historical fiction based on real life always treads a fine line between fact and surmise, but Williams does it well. This one is well worth the read – not least because it brings to life an important part of our history and highlights the role of women in that society.

If you want to know a little more about the book and the history behind the book, have a listen to this (short) podcast.

The Schoolgirl Strangler, by Katherine Kovacic

Last month I inhaled Kovacic’s Alex Clayton art mystery series. This one, though, is true-crime – something I tend not to read on account of it being, well, true. In Kovacic’s hands though, despite the (necessary) chronological structure and reportage, Melbourne (and country Victoria) in the 1930s was brought to life and it felt enough like a novel to keep me turning the pages (even though I might have googled the ending). 

What have you been reading? Any recommendations?