What’s on your bookshelf #12

I’m sitting writing this having not long tested ‘weak positive’ for Covid which I regard as a big step forward from the ‘oh boy do you have Covid’ thick line I saw on Friday. Phew! The brain fog everyone talks about is real, the exhaustion is real and the relief as you begin to slowly recover is also real. Luckily, I was able to read, so that helped and also meant I got through four of this month’s books in a week! Anyway, is time once again for what’s on my bookshelf, a monthly round up of books read – enjoyed or otherwise hosted by hosted by SueDonnaJo and Deb. However, I am a week early this month…..which I didn’t realise until after I had written the post….never mind, blame it on Covid!

So, let’s start with two works of detective fiction, both from two well known writers in the genre. Ann Cleeves is perhaps best known for her Vera Stanhope and Shetland series of books, but this, her newest book, features her most recent detective, Matthew Venn. The Heron’s Cry is set in the summer in North Devon. Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed, the murder weapon being a shard of one a broken vase that has been made by his glassblower daughter. Another body is found killed in a similar way…naturally as this is a detective novel. There are lots of twists and turns, and it was a great read for my trip to Auckland earlier in the month. If you like detective fiction, you are bound to like this.

Sticking with detective fiction, having recently seen the new Maigret film a few weeks ago, I thought I would pick up one of the novels. Maigret Travels was first published in 1957, and still comes across fresh. Simenon’s pipe smoking detective follows a potential suspect to Nice and Switzerland, uncovering the secrets of the very rich. I am definitely going to go and find some more as I really enjoyed this and want to read (and re-read) some more.

The month wasn’t just about detective fiction. I also read Ali Smith’s Companion Piece, which although distinct from her four seasons quartet, has a similar feel to it. A book set during Covid lockdown in the UK, there are two narrative strands – the present involving a woman whose father is ill and in hospital and people invading her space (my take on it) and a second storyline involving a time-travelling female blacksmith. I have to say I skipped over the secondary storyline, it being far too much like fantasy for me, but the book itself is worth reading for Smith’s wonderful use of words.

I also picked up another volume of short stories by Tove Jansson Travelling Light (note the introduction was written by Ali Smith). First published in Swedish in 1987, this collection has recently been translated into English. My favourite in the collection was An Eightieth Birthday, though there are many other good pieces. And yes there is a film tie in here too as we recently watched the film Tove, about the early life of Tove Jansson.

And so to two of my birthday books which have also ended up being isolation reading books. Last month, I read Ella Risbridger’s first book Midnight Chicken, and was delighted to receive her second follow up book. Her new book, The Year of Miracles, takes us through 2020, Risbridger’s cooking, finally coming to terms with the death of her partner, her close friendships and of course her food. I loved the descriptions of eating eggs – she obviously loves them as much as I do. There are definitely a couple of things I want to try, including that symbol of 2020, a banana bread.

Finally, Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart which was recommended by Carol Ann of Fashioned For Joy. On one level heartbreaking – the scenes with her dying mother in particular – and on another level a wonderful exploration of identity and how this can be tied in to food. I loved it and it got me thinking too, about what foods I associate with certain times and places. This review in The Guardian is worth reading.

As I mentioned last month, the book club I am part of uses a three ‘star’ system to rate books but instead of stars, we pick something associated with the book. So for this month:

  • Ann Cleeves The Heron’s Cry – 3 policemen
  • Georges Simenon Maigret Travels – 3 pipes
  • Ali Smith Companion Piece – 2 books
  • Tove Jansson Travelling Light – 2 suitcases
  • Ella Risbridger The Year of Miracles – 3 eggs
  • Michelle Zauner Crying in H Mart – 3 jars of kimchi

So that is my reading for this month. Have you read anything good, or any of the books I have read? Join in the blog party challenge here.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


  1. The Heron’s Cry is a follow up to the first novel about Matthew Venn in The Long Call. Both have been filmed for TV but I liked the books better. Then I usually do. I have never read any Maigret novels, but maybe I should try one. I do enjoy a good detective story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, I have only seen the TV version of the first book! Good stories and I agree – the books usually are better. You can leave a lot unsaid and to the imagination. The Maigret was good – you can see why they have lasted so well.


  2. Thank you for joining ua for this month’s What’s On Your Bookshelf. This is an excellent kick-off post. I haven’t yet read any of the books that you have shared here, but I have heard great reviews of Crying in H-Mart! I hope that you are feeling better soon. Please keep us updated.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great collection of books. Three jars of kimchi for “H Mart” — yay! I admire your reading choices and reading stamina, especially under the circumstances. You found so much joy in a difficult week. I send hugs your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As you know I have both the Ann Cleeves books, The Long Call and Heron’s Cry in my audio playlist for my travels this week and I’m thrilled to read your thoughts on them here. I think the Tove Jansson book Travelling Light is perfect for me with my packing challenge :). Thanks for joining us and I always find new books I want to read from these linkups!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you will enjoy the Ann Cleeves. Oh yes you are so right about the Tove Jansson and your packing challenge! I am still thinking about trying the same 🙂 Yes it is great to find new reading ideas from other bloggers posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I adored A Year of Miracles & have cooked a few things from the book – beginning with leftover pie… I really must post my review on it. I also enjoyed The Herons Cry. Thanks for linking up…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really enjoyed the Heron’s Cry and the Matthew Venn character. I haven’t read any of your other books but have added a couple to my tbr pile. I love the rating system that your book club uses.

    Liked by 1 person

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