What’s on your bookshelf #14

It 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. Check the link here. I am a bit late this month, getting all mixed up with dates – I will blame my recent travels! Anyway, a bit of a mixed month of reading as you will see.

First up, the latest Vera Stanhope novel from Ann Cleeves (she also wrote the original Shetland series of books the TV series is based on). This was the perfect holiday read, plot twists, strongly drawn characters and just a good detective novel. It was perfect sunny day on the balcony reading.

Sticking with detective fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed Anthony Horowitz’s A Line to Kill. I know a few of you out there have also been reading his books, and I feel I have to read more now. Funny, well written and a great story that was another perfect travel book.

To a very different but also highly enjoyable book, the designer Jenny Packham’s memoirs How to Make a Dress. This is a little gem of a book, about the creative process, her successes and failures and her life. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it whether you are interested in fashion or not, as her writing on her inspiration and design process is worth reading. If you are wondering if you have seen any of her dresses, look up the Princess of Wales (Duchess of Cambridge as was) at the World Premiere of the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die.

I’ve had Kassia St Clair’s lovely book The Secret Lives of Colour sitting next to the bed for a few years. I dipped in and out, reading about one or two colours, then moving on. I have finally got to the end, and would say if you are interested in colour, in the history of pigments and how we perceive and use colour, do pick it up. Just don’t take so long to get to the end as me! The picture below also shows the page in Jenny Packham’s book showcasing several of Queen Elizabeth II’s colourful outfits, a perfect match and just right for these times too.

I thought Annabel Street’s book 52 Ways to Walk sounded really interesting, and while some parts offered great ideas – go on a walk and smell where you are for example – others were just a little pretentious or just unlikely eg walking backwards. I am in two minds about this book, so if anyone else has picked it up do comment.

Finally, I am about half way through The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson. It is well written, but there isn’t a single nice character in it. I can’t say I enjoyed the book, but it was an interesting portrait of a narcissist and how his behaviour influences his family.

By the way, I enjoyed last month’s book about a female vampire, which was essentially a book about identity and how we come to terms with who we really are.

  • Ann Cleeves The Rising Tide – 3 policewomen
  • Anthony Horowitz A Line to Kill – 3 detectives
  • Jenny Packham How to Make a Dress – 3 beautiful dresses
  • Kassia St Clair The Secret Lives of Colour – 2.5 bright green objects
  • Annabel Streets 52 Ways to Walk – 2 pairs of walking shoes
  • Charlotte Mendelson The Exhibitionist – 2 paintings.

So that is my reading for this month. Have you read anything good, or any of the books I have read?

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

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. Hi, Barbara – Thank you for joining us for What’s On Your Bookshelf, despite all of your busyness and recent travels. We greatly appreciate it. I hadn’t previously heard of any of the books that you have shared here. The title of ’52 ways to walk’ caught my attention. Thank you for your candid review of this book – it has definitely given me pause. “D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi – I do enjoy these monthly posts – reading them for inspiration and writing them. The walking book was not as much fun as I had hoped, more of a dipping in and out rather than reading cover to cover.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a coincidence that the walking book is penned by Street! With loadshedding leaving us sans power for nine hours every day (in three bouts) I shall be heading off to our local book shop – I love reading your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

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