What’s on Your Bookshelf – April

A challenge hosted by Deb, Sue, Donna and Jo, a wonderful way to share your love of reading and recommend favourite books. I think I read more book synopsises than actual books!

The following books are ones that I have read through February to April, not too many because as usual I’ve been watching too many gripping tv series.

The Swift and The Harrier

I enjoyed this story of the Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Stuarts. I knew a little about the history but this books goes into more depth about why Charles l was executed. This book focuses on Jayne Swift, the daughter of landed gentry who’s family are staunch Royalists. It is set in 1642 when Oliver Cromwell ruled England. Jayne is a qualified doctor and has made a promise to herself to treat everyone equally whether they be Royalist or Parliamentarians. Sometimes the story gets a little confusing as many people are continually swapping sides and are spies. The other main character is William Harrier, who is at first presented as a footman but throughout the story appears in many different guises. Anybody who enjoys historical fiction with an element of truth behind it will definitely love this book. 4/5.

The Willow Woman

This was another confusing but very enjoyable book. Set in Chengdu, China, it is about a half English half Chinese Detective called Philip Yu. He works for the Chengdu Public Security Bureau and suffers his own anguish from a life blighted by tragedy and the unsettling appearance of ghosts that often intrude in on his investigations. There are so many different departments working together and against each other. In the search for a missing boy he also encounters references to the “mysterious Willow Woman”. There is a reference page for the many characters that appear in the book, which proved very helpful. It was such a good fun read and the author, Laurence Westwood did a fantastic job of portraying life in China and the intricacies of the politics. 4/5

Fresh Water for Flowers

Without doubt this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

It is a French book translated into English. “Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Random visitors, regulars, and, most notably, her colleagues—three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest—visit her as often as possible to warm themselves in her lodge, where laughter, companionship, and occasional tears mix with the coffee that she offers them.” Goodreads.
The story follows the life of Violette from when she first meets Philippe Toussaint and the life they have together from lifting and lowering the level crossing gate to when she ends up as a caretaker at a cemetery.
There are so many different stories flowing through this book along with a couple of mysteries waiting to be solved. Read it and love it, you won’t be sorry. 5/5

An A to Z of my favourite authors

Sara Donati – “Into the Wilderness” series. Following the life of Elizabeth Middleton and set in 1792 in a remote New York mountain village where she meets a man like no other, Nathanial Bonner. It tells the tale of how the Mohawk Nation and the English settlers co-habited once upon a time. I loved this series and for anyone who likes historical fiction with true facts interwoven into it would enjoy this series also.
Also by Sara Donati are two fabulous books featuring some of the characters from the Wilderness series.
The Gilded Hour and Where the Light Enters. These two books are set approximately 100 years later in New York City at a time of crushing poverty and devastating sickness. Some of the characters that appear in these books are real people. I enjoyed this series as much as the other one.

Whats on my Screen

Going slightly off topic here, some of the brilliant shows I’ve been watching this month keeping me away from reading.

The Split – Starring Nicola Walker. Series 3 was the last series and here we found out if Nathan and Hannah would eventually divorce or not. I loved this down to earth series about relationships within families.

Peaky Blinders – Series 5 – Staring the brilliant Cillian Murphy and the beautiful Helen McCrory who sadly passed away last year. Such a gripping but violent series and sadly the last one, although they are going to make a film.

The Last Kingdom – Starring Alexander Dreymon, also the last series and I am utterly bereft. This one kept me awake late into the night! Based on the books of Bernard Cornwall and starting at the time of King Alfred the Great. Also quite violent with so many action packed scenes.

And now it’s about time I wrapped up this post before it gets way too long!

What’s on Your Bookshelf


  1. This is great Ali and I am going to add Fresh water for Flowers to my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendations and I do love a good history novel too! Thanks for joining us for WOYBS. Don’t forget to add your post to the linkup which is open now 🙂

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  2. Firstly, some great recommendations…but more importantly, Season 3 The Split? I’d read it was screening in the UK, but is it on a streaming service here? (Be still my beating heart.)

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  3. Hi, Ali – Thank you for joining us at WOYP/FFC. I love that your book recommendations also inlcude some of your favourite authors and what’s currently on your screen. I also love that you’ve made Jo jealous! 😀


    • Thanks for your comments, that will be your reading sorted out for the year then, I couldn’t wait for the next one but sadly had read them all
      Hope you enjoy them 🙂

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