book reviews january 2024

Book Reviews January 2024

The post January 2024 Book Reviews is part of the #What’sonyourBookshelfchallenge

Hello Everybody,

Happy New Year and welcome to the first book review of 2024.  

The other day I saw a post in a Facebook bookclub where an American reader shared how she loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder books

I also loved reading these books when I was a child growing up in the UK,  a million miles away from the American prairies where these stories were set.  

And this post got me thinking about all the other books I used to really enjoy  as a child that were set in foreign countries:

Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene) set in America

Hardie Boys (Franklin W Dixon) set in America

Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling) set in India

The Chalet School series (Elinor M Brent-Dyer) set in Switzerland

Moomintroll (Tove Jansson) series set in Finland

Misty of Chincoteague (Marguerite Henry) set in America 

And then there were the fantasy books like the Narnia Series (C S Lewis) and the Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) which also felt like foreign lands.

Recalling these books made me wonder whether it was their influence that has led to my love and desire for travel, always curious to explore the world and new destinations. 

How about you?  If you look back over the books you read as a child is there a theme there that you seem to have adopted in adult life?

Let me know in the comments below.

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.


Here are my Book Reviews January 2024:

So Shall you Reap – Donna Leon (fiction)

So shall you reap Donna Leon

I’ve read several of Leon’s Commissario Brunetti books so I feel like I know the characters really well.  All the books are set in Venice, so I also feel like I know the setting well too.

The stories in this series of books are all warm and enveloping.  The minutia of daily life as a police officer are described in detail including coffee stops and meals with his family.  Leon makes the reader feel immersed in Italian life.  Every time I’ve finished reading one of her books, I feel like I have been away on holiday in Italy watching daily life from a coffee shop.

The pacing of these books is slow but this doesn’t seem to matter as the characters and setting provide enough interest to help keep me turning the pages.  The conclusion of this particular story did become apparent to me half way to two thirds of the way through the book but the conclusion was still very satisfying.

The blurb: 

Brunetti’s evening is disturbed when he receives a call from a colleague that a hand has been spotted in one of Venice’s Canals.  The body is soon found and Brunetti is assigned to investigate the murder of an undocumented Sri Lankan immigrant.

Random pieces of the puzzle assemble ranging from real estate and land use, books, and university friendships and yet nothing seems to really link to the murder victim.  Brunetti’s thoughts on the case drift back to his own recollections of his youth, the politics that he believed, lost ideals and Italian terrorists and slowly the pieces begin to fit. 

Bye Bye Baby – Fiona McIntosh (fiction)

Bye Bye Baby

I’ve read The Orphans, an historical fiction book by McIntosh (see review here) which was expertly written and researched but a little two romantic for my liking.   This book however is the first in her DCI Hawksworth police series and was much more to my liking.  

I really enjoyed this novel – the writing was excellent, very fast paced and gritty with likeable characters at every level.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages and searched out any free moments in the day to dip back into the adventure.  There were some really good twists and turns.  I will emphasise that it is quite gritty with some confronting scenes in terms of the murders and actions of some of the characters – definitely not a cosy crime novel!

There were also excellent police procedural scenes which really felt like the reader was in the crime room piecing the puzzle together.  It does have some romantic threads but these do help to add to the storyline and add tension.

If you love TV series like Vera and Prime Suspect (showing my age!) I think you will really enjoy this book.  

At a recent author talk I attended McIntosh disclosed that the books have been optioned for TV but she stressed it’s a long road before becoming a definite project that appears on our screens.

The blurb: 

When a spate of seemingly unconnected murders break out in Southern England a high profile task force are assigned to ensure that a serial killer is not on the rampage.  DCI Jack Hawksworth is a rising star of the Force but still has a lot to prove.  The murder victims have little in common except they are all of a certain age and involve very distinctive MO’s.   This is a heart-stopping tale of brutal revenge with a chilling twist.  

Hidden in Snow – Viveca Sten (fiction)

hidden in snow viveca Sten

This was a great Scandi Noir style novel.  Sten is a new author for me but I understand that she is very well established with several series of books already published.  

I did however find the writing in this novel a little repetitive.  It was if the author was worried that the reader might not recall all the relevant facts that had been provided earlier in the book.  In fairness this may have been due to translation issues or could just be her writing style.

The conclusion of the murder investigation was satisfying and logical making this an enjoyable read.  I was reading this book on my kindle and enjoyed that Sten’s chapters seemed pretty short which made me feel like I was making quick progress through the book.

The Blurb: 

Stockholm Police Officer Hannah Ahlander’s professional and personal life is falling apart, forcing her to take refuge in her sister’s luxury home in the Swedish ski resort of Are.  On her arrival there, a young teenage girl goes missing and Hannah cannot help but get involved.  This  results in her being appointed to the local police force to provide extra assistance as storms and subzero temperatures set in causing a race against time to find the missing girl.  

Beautiful Death – Fiona McIntosh (fiction)

beautiful death fiona mcintosh

After the success of the first DCI Hawksworth book I dived into the second in the series.  Again I really enjoyed this book even though this series breaks all my own rules on what I feel a good detective book/TV program should be.  

Both books have featured personal romantic relationships of the various police characters plus the crimes seem to have personal links to the police officers involved.  Usually this form of storytelling annoys me immensely as I feel it’s probably not realistic, however McIntosh pulls it off as she has created such relatable, realistic and likeable characters that I’ve found myself happily reading along without getting irritated by it.  (I first became irritated by this type of storytelling in the UK Silent Witness TV series where everything always seemed to happen to the main pathologist).

In this story, the reader has a sense throughout the book of who they feel may have committed the crimes but there is a slight twist at the conclusion, which whilst not massive, still provides a satisfying outcome. 

Anyhow, I shall be trying to get hold of the next books in the series which is a good indicator of my enjoyment of these books.

The blurb: 

A serial killer is lose on the streets of London, committing the most gruesome murders as he ‘trophies’ the victim’s faces.  

DCI Jack Hawksworth is called on again to gather a taskforce to track down the killer before he strikes again.  As the police struggle to link the victims, Jack discovers something unique about the most recent corpse, which suddenly makes the whole investigation much more personal.

Hawksworth and his team are in a race against time, delving into the seedy underbelly of London’s back streets but also the rich and dangerous frontiers of modern medicine.  

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

Book Reviews January 2024

8 thoughts on “Book Reviews January 2024”

  1. Pingback: Book Reviews February 2024 - New Leaf Health and Wellbeing

  2. Sue from Women Living Well After 50

    Hi Janine, I remember reading Enid Blyton growing up and also an American Series Donna Parker. I loved reading and still do. These days I enjoy a good crime and I discovered Scandi Noir last year and do enjoy Viveca Sten books. Apart from Hidden In Snow, I haven’t read any of your other recommendations so will certainly look them up as they all appeal to me. I’m so pleased you could join us for WOYBS? and hope you can join us again next month.

    1. I loved Enid Blyton too but not heard of Donna Parker. I shall have to look those one up. I shall probably try to get more of Viveca Sten books as I do love Scandi Noir too.

    1. I guess your childhood reading choices didn’t make you a detective (?) but you do write cosy crime!

  3. Hi, Janine – I read similar books to you when I was a child. I never stopped to consider their long lasting influence. I agree that travel would definitely be high among them.
    Thank you for sharing your current book reviews. I’ve heard lots of good things about Donna Leon and really should give her a try!

    1. Hi Donna thank you for your quick commenting! Growing up we never went abroad, none of our friends did either so I really think escaping into books set around the world must have influenced my desire to travel. I definitely recommend Donna Leon – as I say, they are slower paced books but it’s lovely to revel in the day to day life of Italy that she describes including all the lovely food there.

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