What’s on my bookshelf #16

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. I’ve had a mixed bag of reading again as usual

First up, Jane Harper’s latest book, Exiles. If you are a fan of hers, you won’t be disappointed. It is another slow burner, and again the importance of place in the narrative is stressed. I loved it and couldn’t put it down, and it was good to see characters from The Dry reunited as well. A perfect travel or holiday read.

So to The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, which I had heard good things about. It took me a while to get into it and even then, found it hard to really enjoy though it is well written with an intriguing story line. After I had finished it, I read this review in The Guardian. Well, I wished I had read this before reading the book – some bits would have made a lot more sense.

It has been a month for detective fiction, a genre I do enjoy as you can guess! I borrowed this Ann Cleeves book, The Moth Catcher from a colleague at work and naturally read it in just a few readings. Her books area always enjoyable with good stories and of course Vera, as the quote on the front, is as always a delight. This one had several plot twists too which is always good in detective fiction.

I also listened to The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell. This was another gripping tale, and I found myself listening at every opportunity, all podcasts abandoned. A daughter and her boyfriend disappear and her distraught mother looks for her with help of the novelist wife of the new headmaster of one of the local schools, it is also a book with some plot twists and an unexpected ending.

It wasn’t just detective fiction this month. I thoroughly enjoyed the second book by Elisa Shua Dusapin The Pachinko Parlour. It tells the tale of Claire, a Korean-Swiss graduate student who spends a summer in Tokyo visiting her grandparents, Korean immigrants who own a pachinko parlour. A review in The Guardian triggered by interest in the author, and while the mood of the two books are similar, the settings are quite different.

Another book about families and our connections is the third book in the Lucy Barton series Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout. I still have a few pages to read, but have to say it is my favourite of the three, and also a book where the sense of place and belonging is important.

There was no ‘food reading’ this month but I do have these two magazines lying on the sofa for pre-holiday reading. Not that I will make anything different for Christmas Eve, but these magazines are always fun to browse and give ideas.

And so to the scores out of three like the book club I am part of:

  • Jane Harper Exiles 3 bottles of wine
  • Jennifer Egan The Candy House 2 futurists
  • Lisa Jewell The Night She Disappeared 2.5 country houses
  • Ann Cleeves The Moth Catcher 3 moths
  • Elisa Shua Dusapin The Pachinko Parlour 3 pachinko games
  • Elizabeth Strout Oh William! 2.5 family trees

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. I look forward to your book reviews. You reminded me of Ann Cleeves a while ago and I have been ‘devouring’ a few of her novels since! Elizabeth Strout is also a go-to author for me and so I will look out for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Barbara – Thank you for joining us for What’s On Your Bookshelf. I haven’t yet read any of the books that you mentioned but I have read other books by Elizabeth Strout and Jane Harper and quite enjoyed them.
    The dessert featured on your Dish magazine truly looks divine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do enjoy Jane Harper’s books, but this one is not in my library yet, so I shall make a note of that one. Have you read any of Gary Disher’s books? The Bitter Wash Road is the first of three about a cop in South Australia and then there is a fourth book about a different cop. All excellent reads I thought. Ann Cleves is another favourite of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Oh William but probably won’t bother with the new follow-up as it’s had bad reviews. I like the sound of The Exiles, and haven’t read any of that Anne Cleeves series.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read Oh William! and the other Lucy Barton books. I’m looking forward to Lucy by the Sea when it comes out in paperback. I’ve enjoyed them all, and the Olive Kitteridge books – I really like her style, and the episodic structure of some of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Exiles is nearing the top of my list. I’m looking forward to it, as I enjoyed the first two books in this series. I love Vera, so I’m sure I will get to this one soon. I love your rating system.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for joining us Barbara, your reading has a few similarities with mine – The Exiles, which I really enjoyed and The Night She Disappeared which was a real page turner too. I’ve not read any of Elizabeth Strout but heard they are good. I do enjoy Ann Cleeves books too but haven’t heard of this one. Great to have your recommendations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just (today!) finished reading Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo; a really fun and intriguing detective mystery about serial killer that shows up in a small Ohio town where a large portion of the population is Amish.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love Vera and will keep an eye out for that Lisa Jewell. I just picked up a copy of Dish at the airport. As I’m writing this I’m in the departure lounge waiting for my (delayed) flight home from Wellington.

    Liked by 1 person

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