July 2023 Book Reviews

July 2023 Book Reviews

July 2023 Book Reviews is part of the #What’sonyourBookshelfchallenge

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Hello Everybody, welcome to my July 2023 Book Reviews. 

Well, it’s been a little while since my last book reviews post hasn’t it?

I was caught up with my son’s Year 12 end of term mayhem, then I was getting ready for our holiday and then I was away on holiday!  

It’s quite scary how quickly the time can pass.  Anyhow, I’m back and trying to get motivated into my usual routines.

Because of the long break from blogging I have a fair bit of book news to share but I think I will spread it over the next two book reviews to save overwhelming you!.  

So, here are my July 2023 book reviews: 

First up: Author talks

Kate Morton – Homecoming

kate morton

Before life got busy I attended the Brisbane Literary Festival to hear Kate Morton talking about her latest book Homecoming.  I’ve yet to get myself a copy but I always love her books, so I’m sure I will not be disappointed.


OMG – She is an incredibly glamorous author!  I think I just might have a girl crush on her, well definitely on her yellow shoulder bag and sandals!

As I live in the hinterland mountains, across from Mount Tamborine, I loved hearing about her childhood growing up there.  Her mum was an antiques dealer, so she had endless dress up options and interesting objects to nurture her love of history. 

She also said she was an avid reader from a young age and loved her library bag!  This reminded me of my school library bag – I think at one stage I made my own and embroidered my name and own designs on it.    Did you have a school library bag?

She also described her writing process, saying that she first works out a rough plan for her story.  She always knows where she wants the story to go and how she wants the final book to look and feel, but it takes a lot of hard work getting the structure and ideas into place to achieve that.  Once she has her first draft though, she feels it’s much more fun going through the editing process, adding in all the finishing touches. 

In my mind, I felt it was probably like my bathroom creation process (you can read my creation post here).  You start off with the initial design and ideas that you want to achieve, then you have to go through all the pain of destroying the bathroom, ripping stuff out and rebuilding it until you get to a point where you have a bathroom again.  Then the fun bit starts when you can begin styling and making it look pretty. 

Josephine Moon – The wonderful thing about Phoenix Rose

josephine moon

This was an Australian author talk at my local library.  I haven’t read any of Josephine’s books yet but have added them to my list.

The book blurb describes her latest book as being about a burnt out 35 year old neurodivigent teacher, Rose,  who is at a crossroads in her life.  When her friend sends her a desperate plea to rehome her animals from Tasmania, Rose finds herself on a road trip across Australia back to Brisbane with an animal menagerie in tow.   This book is a warm funny story about different outlooks on life, friendship and relationships.

From the questions asked, it would appear Josephine includes lots of food references in her books, which will make her stories even more appealing to me.  I also loved the assistance dog who joined her on the stage!

Failed talk – Candice Fox

I was booked to attend another local library talk with the number one crime writer, Candice Fox (I recently reviewed one of her books here)  I was really looking forward to the talk but on the night my son was sick and I was just not feeling motivated to go out into the dark, cold, rainy night.  I knew I would regret not going but I just decided that no, I should listen to my body and rest instead.  Hopefully, I will make it to one of her next tours.

Finally, I saw this photo on instagram and fell in love with it.

Would you like a bed like this?

book bed

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 follow the link here to check out the other book reviews in this challenge.

Switzerland – Rick Steves (travel guide)

In the months before our holiday, I was dipping into this travel guide from my library to get ideas of places to visit in Switzerland.

Whilst the internet provides a multitude of information from blog posts to videos, I still find a good old fashion travel guide book easier to navigate.  How about you?

Bitter Greens – Kate Forsyth (fiction)


I’ve talked about this before but the perfectionist in me has always believed you should finish a book even if you don’t like it much.  However, as I’ve got older I’ve realised there are just too many books to read in the world to waste time on books I don’t enjoy.

I’d heard a lot about Kate Forsyth and listened to her on podcasts and videos.  I liked the sound of her ideas so I thought I would give her books a go.  Unfortunately, this book just didn’t pull me in.  It’s a retelling of the Rapunzel tale and was excellently written but just a little too fantasy/fairytale like for me.  Now I have nothing against fantasy – I used to love reading it when I was younger but for some reason at the moment, it’s just not appealing to me.

So, I gave this one up but I did go on and try another of Kate’s books …

The Beast’s Garden – Kate Forsyth (fiction)


This book was much more engrossing.  It’s a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story but very subtly (that’s a hard word to spell when you start thinking about it!) 

Set in Germany August 1939, Ava’s world is in turmoil.  Her family are best friends with a Jewish family who are soon attacked and deported to concentration camps by the Nazis. At the same time Ava finds herself attracted to a young Nazi officer but she hates and fears the Nazi regime and what he stands for.  When the Nazi regime threatens to torture and send her father to the concentration camps, she agrees to marry the Nazi officer in the hope that he can help protect her family.  Leo von Lowenstein,  works for Hitler’s spy chief in Berlin and appears to be an integral part of the Nazi regime.

Although Ava loves her husband, she cannot stand the Nazi’s and behind his back, joins the resistance to help victims of the German war machine.  However, Ava slowly discovers that Leo is not all that he appears either and they find themselves fighting for their lives and freedom.

Whilst this was a really enjoyable book, it did bring home the terror of Nazi Germany – how you could trust no one, how anyone might betray you to protect their own interest.  My heart cried for all the people, particularly the Jewish population that were sent to the concentration camps.  This book is an important reminder of why we must never allow the loss of freedom of speech, learning and tolerance to be undermined.

(P.s. I could only find this book in my library in large print (my husband teased me mercilessly) so I don’t know if it had been formatted correctly but it did seem to jump into different scenes without a clear break.  This did disrupt the reading flow a little).


After the Flood – Christie Adams (fiction)

After the Flood Christie Adams

This was a quick short story which was being offered as an ebook freebie by the UK author Christie Adams.

Set in Sheffield, Yorkshire, UK, after a post apocalyptic catastrophe which flooded vast areas of the land, Ray and his family struggle to survive and find a new home for themselves.

Whilst this was a well written and entertaining story, it did remind me why I don’t really like dystopian stories – they always seem a little depressing, especially if they appear to be a realistic possibility. I think I’m more of a happy ending type of gal!

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert (non-fiction)

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Prey Love fame this book digs into what makes us creative  and why it’s important for humans.  It also analyses  how we can develop our creativity.

This was a super easy read, and I found lots of quotes that really resonated with me.  I shall write a more in-depth review of this book at the end of the month for my word of the year/create blog post series.

The Sentence is Death – Anthony Horowitz (fiction)


The sentence is death by Anthony Horowitz

I love a good Anthony Horowitz book (screenplay writer for Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War) and this book didn’t disappoint.
Easy to read and entertaining, I love how Horowitz blends fiction with reality.  The main narrator of the story is Horowitz as a writer.  He refers to the filming of Foyles War and his writing, whilst dragging the reader into a fictional (well I assume it is) murder mystery.
Richard Pryce, a well respected and high profile divorce lawyer is found bludgeoned to death in his London home.  Painted on the wall above his body is the number 182.  What does this mean?  And who was at his door minutes before his death whilst he was talking on the telephone?
As the police struggle to solve the mystery, they are forced to turn to disgraced private investigator Daniel Hawthorne.  Horowitz is tagging along with Hawthorne to write his next book about him.  In a Watson and Sherlock Holmes relationship, Horowitz always seems one step behind the clues that Hawthorne deciphers, leaving him surprised by the final solution.  There were lots of red herrings and twist and turns to make this an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Blood Fever – Charlie Higson (fiction/audio book)


Whilst on holiday, I downloaded this audio book for the kids to listen to on the long drives between our destinations.

It’s the second in the Young James Bond series.  We listened to the first book before Christmas (see review here) This was another cracking story with the added bonus that it was set in Italy, which was where part of our holiday was.

James Bond is back at Eton, and to relieve the boredom of rules and regulations he and a group of boys take part in the risk taking Danger Society.  One night whilst evading capture from the teachers, Bond overhears some suspicious characters talking in Latin.  As the summer holidays approach, Bond looks forward to spending time on a school trip to Sardinia and time at his cousin Victor’s house.  But nothing is as it seems, and James soon finds himself mixed up in a fight to save a young girl’s life against enemies more ruthless than he could every imagine.


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 

July 2023 Book Reviews

6 thoughts on “July 2023 Book Reviews”

  1. Hi, Janine – Thank you for joining us for #What’s On Your Bookshelf (I’ve been travelling so I am late in commenting). How awesome that you were able to hear Kate Morton talk about Homecoming. Thank you for including some of the background that she shared with you. I read ‘The Homecoming’ this past April as an Advanced Reader Copy. I found the book to be totally compelling. I had great difficulty ever putting it down!

    1. Hi Donna – I’ve seen how busy you have been on your latest blog post so I’m not surprised you haven’t had chance to do much blog reading! Thank you for popping by and commenting.
      What a lovely review of Kate Morton’s book. I have a birthday coming up so it will definitely now be top of my wish list!

  2. I love everything by Anthony Horowitz and have devoured that series. Big Magic is another book I love and reread every time I’m feeling like I’ve lost my creative mojo. I’m yet to read anything by Kate Morton (but know I have to) and have previously read a few by Jo Moon. Thanks for linking up & loved your holiday snaps.

    1. Hi Jo, thank you for popping by and reading my post. Also thank you for the link up. You guys always help me to get back into creating mode

  3. Hi Janine, great reviews here! I love the books I’ve read by Candice Fox so can imagine how hard it was to give her talk a miss. Anthony Horowitz is very clever in his writing isn’t he? We’ve been listening to Kate Morton’s Homecoming in the car on road trips and we’ve almost finished it now, its a beautifully told story and how exciting that you got to hear her talk! Thanks for joining is for WOYBS 🙂

    1. Hi Debbie – thank you for your positive comments. I’m excited to read Kate’s new book but feel I must get through the huge stack of other books I have first.

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