Kicking off my 2023 reading year…

I’ve been doing a lot of writing since the start of the new year, but I’m still squeezing in a fair bit of readng.

While the new year is all fresh and shiny, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the books that have kicked off these first weeks of 2023…and my new reading year.

Here are my reviews:


The Holiday

T.M. Logan

The Holiday book coverPlanning that perfect summer holiday with your best friends and their families? May want to hold off on that…

Kate, Rowan, Jennifer and Izzy have been best friends since they met back as freshmen in their college dorm in Bristol, UK. Two decades later, they decide to reunite for a summer holiday in southern France, complete with spouses and kids, as a way to celebrate their upcoming fortieth birthdays.

Their friendships may stretch way back, but so do the secrets and recriminations. Told through multi point of view chapters over the course of this idyllic weeklong vacation in the sultry heat of the French countryside, the stakes keep rising until the first death occurs.

The premise was great, and generally I enjoyed this novel, but it did feel rather meandering in the middle, and I would have enjoyed a deeper dive into the characters. Despite being inside their heads in alternating chapters, I often felt I didn’t have a real grip on their personalities and motivations.

Nevertheless, it was still an enjoyable read, with a good sense of place – a solid 3.5 stars rounded up to 4


The Snowstorm

Triona Walsh

The Snowstorm book cover“May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you’re dead!”

I love stories with a deep sense of place and those that slowly unravel long-held secrets. This mystery novel did both remarkably well, and kept me happily turning pages.

I loved the setting of the wild, Aral islands off the coast of Ireland. These remote islands in the Atlantic ocean can become completely cut off from society when storms rage. And as this story opens, the storm is fully raging.

Garda (Policewoman) Cara just catches the last ferry back to the island before a brutal snowstorm cuts off all contact with the mainland. Cara is eager to return home before the storm, and equally eager to celebrate the New Year with her old childhood friends who have returned for a memorial service – the first time they are all reunited in almost a decade.

But the longed-for reunion quickly unravels when a body is found in the sea, and Cara becomes wrapped up in a murder investigation. With no one able to arrive at or leave the island, Cara begins to unearth long buried secrets and to question all she knows, even about her closest friends.

This was an enjoyable mystery that transports a reader to this stark yet beautiful island. I enjoyed Cara’s precarious relationship with the island, never truly trusted as an “outsider”. I loved the sprinkling of the Irish language throughout, which is the first language on the island – thereby maintaining local culture, while simultaneously excluding outsiders. And I enjoyed getting to know the core cast of characters as they come to grips with how much has changed since their idyllic childhoods. A thoroughly engrossing novel.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own


Anxious People

Fredrick Backman

Anxious People coverThis is my second novel by this Swedish author, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is no easy feat to write a multi-character, multi-POV novel in which almost all of the characters are unlikeable at the outset – and still has you tearing through the pages to learn what happens to them.

The story is centered in a small city in Sweden, and, like in Backman’s novel Beartown, it was fun to see the distrust and disdain reserved for Sweden’s more sophisticated capital.

At the outset, a bank robber fumbles a poorly planned heist and escapes into an apartment building, inadvertently taking hostage a diverse group of people attending an apartment viewing open house. In the meantime, the police have arrived on the scene. With the superior agents from Stockholm on their way to take over the case, the local police are determined to prove they can handle the hostage situation on their own.

But this is no thriller.

Instead, we do a deep dive into each of the characters – reflecting on poor judgement, depression, the stresses of parenthood, relationship breakdowns, and the pain and loneliness of modern life. It’s a beautiful, and often funny, story – one that has you reminding yourself how much is happening beneath the surface of your fellow humans. Highly recommend.

An Island in The Sun

Kate Frost

An Island in The SunTabitha is running away – she’s been doing that for the past year, ever since the break-up with her boyfriend. As a freelance songwriter, she can work from anywhere. Her heartbreak leads her to travel the globe, pet-sitting at far flung locales while she composes music.

The Portuguese island of Madeira is simply the latest of her globe-hopping locales.

What Tabatha isn’t counting on is a romantic entanglement, yet that’s exactly what she gets when Raff, the homeowners’ handsome, estranged son, unexpectedly enters her life.

Inflicted with a serious case of Wanderlust myself, I love being transported to new desitinations in my books – and Madeira has long been on my travel list. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much beyond the lush garden and pool of the house where Tabitha is pet-sitting, which I found a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, the love story was enjoyable and this is a quick read that can bring a dash of sunshine to  a cold winter’s day.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own


That wraps up my January reads. As always, grateful for all novel recommendations – pop your suggestions into the comments.

And happy reading to all!

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