august 2023 book reviews

August 2023 Book Reviews

The post August 2023 Book Reviews is part of the #What’sonyourBookshelfchallenge

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Hello Everybody,

I hope you have all had a wonderful month of reading.  I feel like I’ve had a pretty good month – scroll below for my August 2023 Book Reviews to check out what’s been on my bedside table.

In other book news I was listening to the podcast The Rest is History episode King Soloman’s Mines.

In 1885, H. Rider Haggard’s brother bet that him that he couldn’t write a novel ‘half as good as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island’.

By the end of the year, Haggard had written King Soloman’s Mines, the first English adventure novel set in Africa.  It was a story full of treasure, bravery and romance and was the precursor of popular fiction as a wider populace begin to learn to read on the back of the Education Acts in Victorian Britain.

When I heard this, it did make me wonder whether with the rise of AI/chat GPT and the increase in the popularity of audio books, whether in future generations we will actually see the reading ability of humans decline.

Will there be large sections of society who have relied on computers and technology unable to read and write much like in Victorian times?  It would be rather ironic.

Now, I have a feeling that I may have read King Soloman’s Mines years ago when I was a young girl but I might try and get a copy to re-read it.

The historian’s in the podcast discuss how the book was a reflection of the Victorian culture at that time i.e. that it is full of colonialism and male dominated characters.  I’m intrigued to see how I will react to these sentiments now I am ‘a grown up’!

If their analysis is correct, I’m surprised the book hasn’t been banned or altered as seems to be the current theme i.e. Australian author Mem Fox’s book in Florida.

Let me know in the comments below whether you think humans might lose their reading ability and whether you have read King Soloman’s Mines.

Thanks to the following bloggers for allowing me to take part in the #Whatsonyourbookshelf challenge.

Deb from Deb’s World

Jo from AndAnyways

Donna from Retirement Reflections

Sue from Women Living Well after 50

Please following the link here to check out the other book reviews in this challenge.  I’m sure you are going to discover lots of interesting books to add to your book wish list.

The Shell House Detectives – Emylia Hall (fiction)


This is a great cosy crime novel set in Cornwall and hopefully sets the path for a continued series.

The main character,  artist Ally Bright is visited late at night by a distraught young man who doesn’t make any sense.  Before Ally can work out what is wrong, he disappears into the night.

The next day the young man is found at the bottom of the local cliff by ex-cop Jayden Weston.  Ally, who was enjoying a peaceful morning beach combing is pulled into the mystery and forms an alliance with Jayden.

They both feel there is more to the young man’s accident than simple suicide, especially when Helena, the wealthy new owner of the young man’s grandmother’s house, disappears.

It seems that in the small village of Porthpella everyone has a secret that Ally and Jayden need to uncover to be able to solve the mystery.

This was a well written but easy, relaxing read with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested, together with a idyllic setting on the Cornish Coast.  I loved imagining Ally and some of the other characters in their houses by the beach, and their regular visits to the local coffee shop.

The girl from Munich – Tania Blanchard (fiction)


This is a beautiful written novel, based on a true story.  While it is more of a love story, there is a social examination of life during the war years in Germany.  It highlights how a young girl’s decisions in this era can have immense consequences on the life she will live and how her family, friends and society will treat her.

As I say, whilst I’m not normally into love stories, I was engaged with the characters and wanted to know how their lives would turn out.

This novel is not as historically intense and horrifying as The Beast’s Garden which I read last month, but it does provide an insight into life in war torn Germany.

The blurb – Charlotte Von Klien grows up in Hitler’s Germany, believing that Germany will be a great and powerful country again.  She dreams of an elaborate wedding with her sweetheart Heinrich, whilst they both commit to careers serving their Furher.

But then in 1943, Hitler’s war campaign begins to crumble and Charlotte’s life of privilege and comfort begins to disappear.

When the Allied forces invade, Charlotte is forced to flee from the chaos with her handsome superior Erich Drescher.   Within this chaos Charlotte is forced to make decisions about her future and who she truly loves and the consquences these decisions will have on her future life.

A Small Weeping – Alex Gray (fiction)

This is actually Book 2 in the Lorimer Detective series.  It was a ‘passed on’ book so I ended up reading it out of sequence but will definitely be checking out the rest of the series.  Reading out of sequence had no impact on the overall storyline.

A prostitute is found murdered in Glasgow but her body is arranged in a ritualistic manner which sets DCI Lorimer off on the trail of a suspected serial killer.  As the bodies mount up Lorimer travels from gritty Glasgow to the tranquil Scottish Islands.  How are these two conflicting areas linked to the murders?

This was a gentle paced but gripping thriller with plenty of twists and turns.  Gray really develops her characters well so that the reader feels immersed in their lives.  A very enjoyable read.

A Midlife Holiday – Cary J Hanson (fiction)

The author of this book reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reading her trilogy of books about midlife women.  I’m so glad she did as I really enjoyed the first book and will be checking out the others.  Cary offered a free digital copy but I found I had it included with my Amazon Prime membership for free.  The further two books are very reasonably priced though.

Three best friends have hit midlife and each is realising that their lives are not how they imagined them to be at this stage of life.   Helen is married but feels invisible to her selfish husband who is always away pursuing his own adventures.  Caro is successful but single and childless.  Kay is sandwiched between caring for her grown up son with learning difficulties and her elderly parents.

When they all meet up for Helen’s birthday, Caro surprised herself by inviting them to go with her to Cyprus.  But Caro isn’t heading off to Cyprus for sun, sea and sand but instead has a secret that she is reluctant to tell her friends.

This book appears at first to be a light hearted and witty story about female friendship but it delves so much deeper into what it feels like to be a woman at midlife.  All three women are facing the realisation that they have regrets about their lives and aren’t sure whether it’s too late to do anything about it.

There were some absolutely cracking observations on how a woman’s mindset can change in midlife.  The things we craved and admired when we were younger no longer seem important.  One memorable line from Helen was that she realised that her dream home with French doors on to the garden, no longer excited her, and all she saw was that the doors needed painting and repairing.  I’ve certainly had that feeling before about a house.

A great holiday or post holiday read!

The Secret Midwife – Soraya M. Lane (fiction)

Another book set during World War II – I do seem to be following a theme at the moment.
Set over two time lines we enter the story in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  A news article runs a story requesting information about a midwife incarcerated in Auschwitz who helped to save hundreds of lives.  Emilia realises now is the time to tell her story.
Emilia was a midwife in occupied Poland in 1942.  The German soldiers occupying her town,  allow her a certain degree of freedom as she goes about her work.  But Emilia has a secret.  She is visiting hidden Jewish mothers, helping them birth and smuggle their babies to safety. Until she is betrayed, arrested and sent to Auschwitz.
Together with fellow doctor Aleksy,  and under the most horrific conditions they fight to save mothers and babies born within the camp.
Whilst the Secret Midwife is a work of fiction it was apparently inspired by real life stories.  It contains some harrowing scenes and events that some readers have commented made them cry,  but there is an overall feeling of hope.
This is a very moving story mainly because it is unimaginable how the Nazi’s could have killed so many innocent women, children, men and new born babies.
Or Else – Joe Hart (fiction)


This was a well crafted thriller.  It’s not fast paced, but there is this simmering tension that keeps you reading and guessing until the end.

Andy Drake is a thriller novelist.  He has moved back to his home town after a failed marriage and to look after his widowed father who is sliding into dementia.

Andy reconnects with his childhood friend Rachel, who is married to David, the son of one of the wealthiest families in the area.  They have two sons.  But Rachel is unhappy and she and Andy embark on an affair, until Andy receives an anonymous note telling him to stop the affair ‘or else’.

Not long after the delivery of the note, David is found dead and Rachel and the boys are missing.   If the police find out about Rachel and Andy’s affair, he will become the prime suspect.

Andy is forced into a race against time, trying to solve the mystery before he is arrested.

This was really enjoyable with a good, logical twist at the end.  The characters all seemed very believable and I felt totally immersed in their lives.

Golden Hills – Jennifer Weiner (fiction short story)

I never used to be a short story reader apart from the occasional story in a magazine but this came up as a free read through Amazon so I thought I would give it a go.
It was actually just the right length for reading in the airport prior to our flight.  The advantage of short stories is that they don’t require a huge investment of your attention so they can be perfect if you find yourself with limited time or focus.

Anyhow, this story is a modern day tale set in America.  Ida Berkowitz is running for office again. She is popular and liked by voters and destined for victory.  Until her PR manager asks Ida “who is Marissa Schuyler?”.

Marissa was Ida’s wealthy best friend at summer camp when they were children.  She is now married and a key donor to the conservative party.  She has called a press meeting to talk about Ida, and Ida knows what she wants to tell the world. Something she had kept secret for years.

This was an enjoyable quick read with a twist at the end.


Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert – (non-fiction)



I read this book for my word of the year  ‘Create’ exploration.  You can read my book review here

Well, that’s it for this month.  Drop me a comment below, and do let me know what you’ve been reading this month. I love hearing about good books!

If you missed my last book review you can catch up here

august 2023 book reviews

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