Graphic for the Peachy Books Book Review Read-a-Loud by written and read by PeachyTO for The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell, showing a 1930s Carnegie Hall in the background
Blog Roll, Historical Fiction, Kids Books, Middle Grade, Saturday in Stereo

Saturday in Stereo – Book Review Read-a-Loud: The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

This week on Saturday in Stereo we have the Peachy Books review for The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell, read aloud by PeachyTO.

Please visit the Peachy Books YouTube channel or click on the video below to check it out. If you enjoy the reading, I’d be thrilled if you would ‘like,’ subscribe, and hit the notification bell; it will help my channel to grow, and you’ll be the first to know when the latest read-a-louds are available. Thank you so much for your support!

To find the written review for The Good Thieves and see the Rimsky Crow bookmark I was inspired to make, please click here.

Graphic for the Peachy Books review of In The Woods by Tana French, showing the cover and an image of a green and black Celtic Triquetra bookmark, with text saying: The novel that began the popular crime series: Dublin Murder Squad and crowned Tana French the First Lady of Irish Crime. This cerebral tale plays out on a Celtic archaeological dig by the woods, as its connection to the lands haunted past cast shadows of unresolved trauma while it clutches its victims with its ever invasive tendrils.
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Popular Fiction

Book Review: In The Woods by Tana French

Book Cover for In The Woods by Tana French

In The Woods by Tana French

Dublin Murder Squad #1

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Tana French – In The Woods

**Some Spoilers Within**

When I first spied the cover at the library checkout while picking up my stack of holds, it freaked me out and flung me back a couple of decades to the terror that consumed me when watching The Blair Witch Project; the last horror film I have seen. 

As I paused and did a double-take on the Returns bin four steps to my left, an ominous feeling settled in my stomach, signalling me to skip it and bolt. 

Emboldened by the rave reviews for the Dublin Murder Squad series and my love of Ireland, I chose courage and decided to give In The Woods a chance. Now, pleased not to have caved to my inner scaredy-cat, I can report there is suspense, there are thrilling angles, and there is even a smattering of Celtic lore, but no horror, phew!


Rob Ryan is our narrator and protagonist, a sad sort, shaken and traumatised by earth-shattering loss in his early years; loss of memory, loss of friends, loss of time. I am no clinician, and this is fiction, but given the numerous trauma responses he elicits throughout the novel, it would seem he suffers chronic PTSD. 

He never admits to any diagnosis that I can recall but does acknowledge upfront that he is prone to lying, no matter how much he craves the truth. 

Although lying is not necessarily a trait of PTSD, it could help a sufferer avoid their issues as they flounder for control, avoidance being a dominating factor with the affliction. 

Deception being an obligatory qualification of his career, he seems to share his propensity to fabricate with occupational pride; in Rob, we have the quintessential unreliable narrator.

At least his desire for truth stands to reason, evidenced by his search to learn more about his disassociated past. But how far will he detour to find out what happened? 

As I tore through his story, I enjoyed the element of playing detective and tried to determine which parts of his narrative were truthful, which were the falsehoods, and most importantly, which were the lies that he told to fool himself. The skill of French’s writing ensures all three.  

Cassie is a champ. In her new position as Inspector at the Dublin Murder Squad, her bravery is admirable, as she charges ahead, the only woman in a male-dominated landscape. 

A role model to any woman, she faces life on her terms and will not let anyone or their conventions control her outcomes, regardless of the challenges posed against her. 

This Vespa-driving rebel is a ride-or-die kind of girl with the grit to overcome, and I now have an answer when a blogger asks me which fictional character I would choose to be my bestie, haha!

“I can’t explain the alchemy that transmuted one evening into the equivalent of years held lightly in common. The only way I can put it is that we recognized, too surely even for surprise, that we shared the same currency.”

A loyal, patient, and formidable detective with a psychology background and an affinity for profiling, Cassie is the perfect fit for Rob, both as a professional partner and friend. But does he have the self-awareness to recognise what is best for him even when it’s dangling within his grasp? 

“The girls I dream of are the gentle ones, wistful by high windows or singing sweet old songs at a piano, long hair drifting, tender as apple blossom. But a girl who goes into battle beside you and keeps your back is a different thing, a thing to make you shiver. Think of the first time you slept with someone, or the first time you fell in love: that blinding explosion that left you cracking to the fingertips with electricity, initiated and transformed. I tell you that was nothing, nothing at all, beside the power of putting your lives, simply and daily, into each other’s hands.”

The rookie inspectors are on the case of a young teen found murdered on an archaeological dig flanked by an apartment complex where she lived and the encroaching woods. Both of these places are familiar to Rob and his silent past, as the decades apart storylines become enmeshed and the mystery concentrated.

With no choice but to keep his story secret to avoid removal due to conflict of interest, he attempts to gain an understanding of what happened to him and his two friends in those woods so many years ago.

“There was a time when I believed I was the redeemed one, the boy borne safely home on the ebb of whatever freak tide carried Peter and Jamie away. Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood.”

The true beauty of this tale is in its lyrical prose, but I took the most pleasure in the mind-fuck of psychological analysis through expertly drawn character development. 

Real people, flawed and reactionary, had me whipping through these pages. Rob’s base instincts coming to the fore, as survival and coping skills present under cover of selfishness and ego, while he sacrifices others for his cause. But don’t worry, he will turn the sword unto himself, as personal-sabotage is never far away.

Quote from In The Woods by Tana French with background graphic of inside the woods, with a moss green coloured square with the following quote in brown italicised lettering: "I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself."

Rob is a blinding example of how certain traumas can erode a sense of self, how a lad can become convinced they are not worthy of connection and love. 

When others are brave enough to attempt to crack the walls around that fortified heart, the traumatic brain will do anything in its power to push those people away, so that vulnerability is not an option. It is self-preservation at its most animal form, and it keeps suffers alone and broken. 

After personally spending decades white-knuckling it through my days in this described state, I found the relatable-ness of Rob’s behaviour to be comforting. French offers one of the clearest literary examples of this textbook response to trauma that I have read, and given that I thought I was getting your usual police procedural novel, I was duly surprised by this cerebral bonus. 

One of the more jarring police interviews in the novel detailed a teenage group sexual assault, which I feel I should mention here in the interest of warning those hoping to skip such incidents. 

That said, it was not overly gratuitous, and gave me a lot to think about. I appreciated how the surfacing of this event years later during this murder case saw the rapist as someone with remorse evident when confronted with his detestable actions. I like to hope that even scumbags would at least feel bad about stealing a piece of someone’s soul.

Quote from In The Woods by Tana French on a dry and crusted earth surface with deep crevices in a pale pink sand colour with a light brown/pink square with the quote: "Human beings, as I know better than most, can get used to anything. Over time, even the unthinkable gradually wears a little niche for itself in your mind and becomes just something that happened."

Humans are resilient, and no matter victim or perpetrator, they can overcome the ills that have threatened to take them down. Doing the work necessary to face the reality of one’s experiences, gives you back your power and leaves you with the control to access those things that happened when and how you see fit, not when they decide to highjack you. 

Rob is a tortured soul in multiple ways, not the least of which being survivor’s guilt. With the loss of his best friends and no memory of why he was the only one spared disappearance, his fractured mind is left to make sense of it and finds a way to blame himself for making it out of those woods alive. 

“Sometimes I think about the sly, flickering line that separates being spared from being rejected. Sometimes I think of the ancient gods who demanded that their sacrifices be fearless and without blemish, and I wonder whether, whoever or whatever took Peter and Jamie away, it decided I wasn’t good enough.”

The Who-Done-It? aspect of this mystery was sufficiently undetected by me until near the time of its reveal, although I know a couple of other people who were able to figure it out earlier on. If I were to guess, aiming my attention at the psychological study playing out in the background and seeing the mystery as secondary helped me stay unawares in this regard. 

This book was published in 2007 so I know I’m severely late to Tana French, aka the First Lady of Irish Crime’s party. As such, I have had occasion to hear other readers say they were disappointed by a lack of closure, and the tonnes of unanswered questions they didn’t know what to do with. To this I say, I am okay with that. This is the first in a long series, and with all of the bread crumbs French so expertly laid for me to follow In The Woods, I willingly, for(a)ge ahead in anticipation.


Here is the Celtic Triquerta Bookmark I was inspired to make, and I am so pleased with how it turned out because it was a little tricky!

Have you read this book or any others from the Dublin Murder Squad? Do you enjoy books that dive deep into human behaviourism and if so, can you recommend any?

A Picture of a Greek beach in the Aegean, showing beachgoers lying on beach chairs, wading into the water in front of some docked boats and crystal blue water that says: It's Not All Greek To Me: 5 Great Greek Books Translated to English
Blog Roll, Lists

It’s Not All Greek To Me: 5 Great Greek Books Translated Into English

Summer 2021 will go down for me as the year of the Imagination Vacation. The pandemic blues have us unable to travel to a cottage up north for two weeks like we’ve done previous years, for the second time now. Instead, I have envisioned the sights, sounds, and stories of the places I’d prefer to be whilst soaking up some rays in the solitude of my backyard garden. In case that came off as whiny and pretentious to you as it did to me when I read it back, I’m not complaining and am grateful to be able to do so.

It started with my post 5 Books I’d Take To The Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This week I find myself pining for Greece; more specifically, the island my husband’s family hails from in the Aegean. Most of his family is there, and sadly, they still have not met our 8-year-old son. A trip overseas would mean so much to many and will be long overdue when we finally go.

I made a book list when we actually travelled to the island back in 2008. I don’t think there was a single Greek author on the thing. I remember Corelli’s Mandolin and some Maeve Binchy Island story, but the rest completely escape me, and were on the lighter side of fluff. 

There was so much to do on the island that I barely had a chance to read the entire month we were there! Daily swimming trips, nights at the Platia (the portside square), and visiting all the wonderful homes of the family for delicious meals…always so. many. meals. Other than the plane ride there and back, there just wasn’t enough time to read.

Kalymnos was my first overseas trip, and the scene of my midnight marriage proposal amongst the audience of empty chairs on the moonless Missouri beach. Unable to see a thing, it was in fits of laughter that we had to wrestle our camera’s flash just to look at the ring on my finger, haha! Beautiful memories.

This more developed list I’m sharing has only Greek authors, the books being written in their mother tongue and eventually translated to English; hence, they are not all Greek to me!

You are welcome to humour me in my fantasy holiday, as we enjoy this list of 5 Great Greek Books Translated into English.


Book Cover for Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis showing an orange spiral staircase with a detailed iron railing seemingly swirling up infinitely.

Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture sits at the top spot because of its gorgeous cover, but the story is captivating too. Tagged as a mystery, Uncle Petros’ nephew narrates as he seeks to understand his relative instead of shame him as others in the family do.

His Uncle’s life-long obsession with trying to decipher one of the oldest unsolved problems in number theory, Goldbach’s Conjecture, becomes a bonding force between the two, but to what end?

This short, highly-acclaimed mathematical tale steeped in philosophy is just the witty entry I need in my life right now, vacation or not. I look forward to reading this one the most of the bunch.


Book Cover for The Murderess by Alexandros Papadiamantis showing a close up of an animated hand splayed

This novella is going to make my skin crawl. I can feel the nerves climbing the back of my neck already. A deep character dive into a middle-aged Greek woman on the Aegean Island of Skiathos in the 1800s, The Murderess is the creepy stuff of legend.

When Hadoula comes to the hard-learned conclusion that there is no worse destiny than being born female, she takes it upon herself to set free the little angels born into her same fate. They can thank her later, I guess.


Book Cover for Deadline in Athens: An Inspector Costas Haritos Mystery by Petros Markaris showing the Parthenon in the background with a blue tinge making it appear like dusk.

Petros Markaris is said to be one of Greece’s most successful living authors, and it looks like the Inspector Kostas Haritos Mystery Series has a great deal to do with why.

Although shielding a charitable heart behind his veteran armour, Kostas is crusty, obsessive, bull-headed, and unhappily married. He is the type of raw character that schools a reader in the gritty nature of a position as eventful and corrosive as Inspector of a metropolis, in this case, Athens.

In Deadline In Athens (originally The Late Night-News), we are voyeurs to the elementary case of a brutally murdered Albanian couple that graduates into the interlacing tragedy of child trafficking and media deception.

I have the sense I’m going to want more from this series when I’m done with this book and am currently worried that they may not all be in English translation. 😕


Book Cover for The Third Wedding by Costas Taktsis showing the silhouette of a woman wearing a wedding dress, a veil, and a bouquet of flowers, on a white background.

Hopeful that there won’t be too much of this story lost in translation, as some English reviews have mentioned that the tale is better in its original form, The Third Wedding promises to be an enlightening journey through the eyes of two Athenian women in the 1800s. 

Costas Taktsis chronicles for us their struggles during the German Occupation of WWII, the Civil War, and possibly a taboo affair between them? I’m only guessing, as there is an LGBT tag on the Goodreads page, so forgive me if I’ve erred.


Book Cover for Z by Vassilis Vassilikos 25th Anniversary Edition with purple and red lettering.

Z is the heavy read of the bunch, and I mean that literally and for the intensity of its content. Considered a classic of Greek historical Fiction, I hope to use it as a window to the bitter history of a land and people that I’ve come to adore, as it details the assassination of Z, a communist party leader in the 60s.

A fictional yet courageous expose into the real corruption that permeated the political landscape of those years, the lack of truth and loyalty amongst the bureaucrats on blast for our disapproval. Vassili Vassilikos pulls back the curtain on the nefarious and destructive side of politics and people.

Where would you go for your imagination vacation?

Do you like to read when you’re away, and if so, do you spend time choosing books suited to your destination?

Graphic for the Peachy Books Review Read-a-Loud written and read by PeachyTO for A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman with a background of pink flowers.
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Popular Fiction, Saturday in Stereo

Saturday in Stereo – Book Review Read-a-Loud: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This week on Saturday in Stereo we have the Peachy Books review for A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, read aloud by PeachyTO.

Please visit the Peachy Books YouTube channel or click on the video below to check it out. If you enjoy the reading, I’d be thrilled if you would ‘like,’ subscribe, and hit the notification bell; it will help my channel to grow, and you’ll be the first to know when the latest read-a-louds are available. Thank you so much for your support!

To find the written review for A Man Called Ove and see the Two Pink Potted Flowers bookmark I was inspired to make, please click here.

Graphic for the Peachy Books review of Klara and the Sun showing the book cover superimposed on a black and white image of a smoke stack emitting pollution into the darkened sky and the the tagline underneath in yellow lettering on a red rectangle says: Read the Peachy Books review for this sci-fi blockbuster today!
Blog Roll, book reviews, science fiction

Book Review: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Listen to the review here

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro


*Some Spoilers Within*

While looking to expand my reading horizons and unaware of where to start, I spotted this bright red book in my library stack. Perfect timing; I can tackle one of my overdue books and commence my journey into sci-fi with a trusted author.

Kazuo Ishiguro is a thoughtful writer, melodically attuned to the jangly realness of the human journey. His mega-hits: Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, are still with me a decade later, so needless to say, I felt pumped for an encore. 

Artificial intelligence and gene editing are chilling realities, the former leading the charge in controlling the masses with manipulated computer algorithms, while the latter threatens to produce designer babies. And to be clear, this is the current human experience in reference, not Ishiguro’s world. This new techno-feudalism that our AI evolution is ushering us into as a society is smelling pretty funky. 

But, back to the book, I was thrilled to learn that these two modern-technology themes were the basis of its foundation.

In my review of The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, I share some of the concerns and appreciation I noted regarding DNA manipulation, as well as the ground-breaking strides that have taken place within the field. 

Klara and the Sun was my foray into AI, and since reading it last month, I feel haunted by the questions Ishiguro has left me with surrounding AF (artificial friend) engineering and how it could mould our future. 

Will these machines stifle physical human contact even more than the internet has? Can the chemistry and connection achieved through the human heart be mimicked or even supplanted by androids with their keen AI and programming? In the end, will more humans end up alone?

‘”Do you believe in the human heart? I don’t mean simply the organ obviously. I’m speaking in the poetic sense. The human heart. Do you think there is such a thing? Something that makes each of us special and individual?”’


It is through the eyes of Klara, one of the older model humanoid AFs in the shop fronting the busy metropolitan street, that we begin Part 1 and the slow burn through this dystopian tale. 

With AFs in rotation for display in the window, they all eagerly await a turn to soak up the Sun’s solar energy and draw in curious onlookers and passersby. Manager discourages them from looking at the people unless they approach the AF first, and only then the AF must respond in kind. 

Josie had engaged Klara in the display window a couple of times in previous weeks and had taken a shine to her. The excited AF secretly waited and wished that the girl would one day return and take her home. 

That day finally arrived, and although the Mother was inclined to purchase one of the newer B3 models, there was only one friend that Josie had in mind. 

After Manager informed the Mother of Klara’s exceptional observational abilities, and the Mother had the droid perform a few strange requests to her satisfaction, it seemed that mayhaps she was the perfect fit for the sickly child after all. And so began, along with Part 2 of the novel, the start of her life with her new human family.

Klara is, technically, a robot, but suppress the urge to refer to her that way, as using the R-word is improper etiquette. She is nurturing, respectful, loyal, and encouraging, a desirable host of traits for a companion to a child, by any measure. 

As a devout solar-charged android, Klara’s faith in the Sun and Its power is present throughout and at times seemed reminiscent of a human worshipping their God. She calls upon the divine light to intervene and heal the ill children in the way a mother would pray to her maker for the life of her ailing child. 

Quote from Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro with a window frame and a brilliant sun and some clouds: 'The Sun, noticing there were so many children in the one place, was pouring in his nourishment through the wide windows of the Open Plan.'

Just like Man, she seemingly struggles with her faith and even commits acts of sacrifice in an attempt to lessen the dreaded Pollution, in reverence to the great Sun.

‘And it was clear the sun was unwilling to make any promise about Josie, because for all his kindness, he wasn’t yet able to see Josie separately from the other humans, some of whom had angered him very much on account of their Pollution and inconsideration, and I suddenly felt foolish to have come to this place to make such a request.’

In Ishiguro’s scarcely delineated world, there seem to be many children in need of healing. From what I could surmise, the gene-editing chosen by the parents with ‘Courage’ comes at the cost of a weakened immune system for the modified child.

Roll the dice for a chance at a future where the odds will be forever in your favour! 

But if, against all odds, you choose to let your child enjoy their youth in health with minimal risk of serious illness, unlike the children of families with ‘Courage,’ the institutional deck will be eternally stacked against them. The system design accordingly offering them no other option than to assume their rightful role as a modern-day serf. 

Josie is one of the ‘lifted’ children, thanks to the Mother’s bravery. She is tutored through her ‘oblong’ in place of attending school, only rarely interacting in person with other socially awkward children in strangely crafted social settings, in the hopes of preparing for the social element of college one day. 

As she struggles to maintain her health throughout, sometimes not well enough to even sit up in bed, Klara’s primary responsibility is to keep vigil and help the girl find comfort.

Josie’s best friend and neighbour Rick is not ‘lifted’ and provides Josie a peek into an old-school childhood filled with running, playing, and exploring. 

Rick is always eager to hang out with Josie when her health will allow it. They are smitten and prefer each other’s company over all else, Klara presenting as a 3rd wheel at times. One of the sadder parts of the book for me was observing the forces aligned to pull them apart when they want nothing more than to be together.

Although the parents of the unedited aren’t appointed the antithetical moniker Cowardly, the message seems clear: not being brave enough to put your children’s life on the line marks you as a traitor to your community and deserving of a lower station in society as a consequence. 

Damn! That is not a world I would want to live in! 

Ishiguro must have written this book pre-pandemic, but it seems to parallel the virus hell we’re in quite aptly. Between children schooling in isolation via computer screens to divisive narratives of intolerance strategically placed to shame dissenters into submission if they dare choose not to have their children ‘lifted,’ or currently, Covid-vaccinated, this all seems eerily familiar. 


Josie’s relationship with the Mother was fascinating for me. I craved more access to their thoughts and motivations; wished for some changing points of view between Klara, the Mother, and Josie. But that would take the focus off Klara, and she is the star of this show.

Klara’s omnipotent ability to understand the manipulation-volley between the Mother and Josie so accurately through mere observation was freaky. Will future robots be so advanced that they can anticipate human behaviour, even while the flawed human is dizzied by emotion? That’s some scary shit and doesn’t leave us much of a fighting chance in a future battle against the machines. 

Quote from Klara and the Sun by Kazu Ishiguro: 'The danger topics were themselves ways the Mother had devised to make certain emotions appear inside Josie's mind.' with two wooden bendable puppet people

Ishiguro’s expertise in the psychology of people and their motivations is one of the things I love about his writing. In Klara and the Sun, we are offered a window into a humanoid’s grid-squared mind, and it was fun to see the inventiveness of his descriptions as he attempted to understand and convey the robot as he does the man. 

Coming from a subhuman vantage point, so much of this story feels fresh and new, if not under-developed. I never realised how much I thirsted for other-worldliness in a story until having read it, this point alone proving a win for the genre. In short, I’ve been missing out!

That said, other than for Klara, there was never any real connection to the characters formed. I didn’t care for nor dislike them, they were just…meh. I wonder if this is intentional, to let Klara and her star shine? Maybe it was because people had become less admirable due to their dystopian circumstances; more polarised; less likable? Am I blaming the author for sharing a world that is too unappealing and upsetting to appreciate on its merits? Maybe. 

The measure of an important book, in my view, is the amount of time I spend thinking about it after I’ve closed the cover. Klara and the Sun bringing to mind topics such as AI, DNA manipulation, pollution, and modern feudalism have left this piece of speculative fiction hovering around me and jumping out from behind corners ever since I put it down; a literary haunting.

I’m not one to reread a book, but this one is headed to the Future-Book-Club list to be properly analysed at a later date. I prefer to take comfort in the solace of differing perspectives from respected readers in my midst, which serves as a great way to attempt neutrality and remain questioning. But most importantly, other people help make processing grave concepts more fun and slightly less frightening, as you collectively share the burden of the conclusions. 

Have you read Klara and the Sun? What do you think about gene-editing and AI becoming part of the everyday human experience? As always, I’d love to know your thoughts on these important yet jarring technological advances, so let’s talk in the comments!


This is the Sunshine Bookmark Klara’s devotion to the Sun inspired me to make.

Crochet Sunshine beaded bookmark photographed on a white background on top of rust coloured sand dunes as a backdrop
Graphic for the Peachy Books Blog post What's On My Shelf?! showing a bookshelf in whirlpool swirl with the cut out of a heart overtop.
Blog Roll, What's On My Shelf?!

What’s On My Shelf?!

After collecting books for decades now, I have been fortunate enough to amass quite a few shelves-full. As an avid library user, I haven’t had occasion to read many of them.

Straight up, it’s something psychological that blocks me from reading them. I harbour this silly notion that if there were to be a cataclysmic event rendering us without new books, I’d like to have a substantial unread collection to draw on.

Crazy? Probably, but no one’s ever accused me of being sane.

My books are disorganised due to a recent re-shelving by my husband that I haven’t yet attended to, so they are completely random as they lay. I photographed the first few I saw to share with you for this first edition of What’s On My Shelf? Watch for a continuation of this theme randomly over the coming months, as I take advantage of the win/win that is creating content whilst simultaneously arranging my shelves. 

Here, with backdrops from my garden, are 5 forgotten books that have been patiently awaiting my attention, but I can’t promise that I will be reading anytime soon.


Image of Miss Elva by Stephens Gerard Malone in front of a cedar fence with a sparse covering of ivy and some rattan patio lanterns

I’m a big fan of Canadian fiction, especially Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards, a novel this book’s Goodreads synopsis refers to as its equal. That is a tall order and puts significant expectations in this reader’s mind from the onset.

I picked it up in the bargain section for a couple of dollars about a decade ago, wooed by the prospect of a Nova Scotian family tale set within my favourite decade: the 70s. When putting together this post, I noticed that the reviews are tepid to poor on Goodreads, so I’m not sure that this sordid tale about jealousy and family strife is going to rock my world after all. One day I’ll find out, just not likely until post-Apocalypse.


Image of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers taken in front of red tiger lilies

If you’re wondering what that little sticker says, it’s 99 cents. I am still shocked that I got it for that. Book sales are my jam. If there are good deals to be had, there are grocery bags to be filled. I might put that on a t-shirt. Or, better yet, on the outside of the bags that I’ll fill!

I was in an everything-memoir phase when I got this one by Dave Eggers. The successful author and activist’s retelling of his story has been called heartfelt and often hilarious, as it chronicles the tragic loss of both his parents to cancer and the resulting guardianship he took on of his younger brother. I still have a fondness for a well-told true story, so there is hope for this one yet.


Image of The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt taken in front of a wall covered in Boston Ivy

I have no recollection of where I got this book, but it was likely in a bargain bin, and it looks like I might have scored. A debut novel for Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai follows the life of a child prodigy and his eclectic mother as the 5-year-old boy attempts to find his father.

The few reviews that I’ve read for this book were promising, and some have tagged it as historical fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing how in-depth the prodigal son will dive and what fascinating things I can learn from him. I favour quirky characters, and this novel seems to have them in spades, so I’ll be moving it to the priority shelf; a sort of hierarchy of unread books now emerging.


Book Cover for Asylym by Andre Alexis taken in front of a Japanese Maple tree

The cover and title of Asylum by Andre Alexis produced a deceiving front when I picked it up to investigate. Without any knowledge of it beforehand, I assumed it was a spooky horror book about some abandoned asylum with a haunted past.

Instead, it’s a book about Canadian politics, set in Ottawa during the Mulroney era, and a storyline driven by a goal to build the perfect prison. This version makes more sense, as I enjoy politics and have no desire to read about haunted buildings for almost 500 pages. I am all-in on the politics of people and governments, especially with the satirical bonus of this author’s rumoured dry wit. On to the Some-Time-This-Decade shelf, it goes.


Image of The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson taken in front of leafy vegetation

Renowned and hilarious non-fiction writer Bill Bryson has enjoyed a prolific career focusing on travel, language, and science books, the most popular being A Walk in the Woods and A Short History of Nearly Everything. 

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – A Memoir has one of the best-selling authors of all time shining a light on his 1950s childhood in middle America. This laugh-out-loud story is just the thing for when I’m feeling exhausted by the darkness that some of the heavy stories I tend to read cast in their wake. I will add it to my priority shelf for just that future occasion. 


Do you have any books that you keep yet can’t seem to read? I’d be curious to know how many other people use the library regularly while they maintain a healthy collection of unread books at home. And if you’ve read any of these be sure to let me know what you thought of them!

Graphic for the Peachy Books Book Review Read-a-Loud for Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, with a background of the Irish coastline.
Blog Roll, book reviews, non-fiction, politics, Saturday in Stereo

Saturday in Stereo – Book Review Read-a-Loud: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

This week on Saturday in Stereo we have the Peachy Books review for Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, read aloud by PeachyTO.

Please visit the Peachy Books YouTube channel or click on the video below to check it out. If you enjoy the reading, I’d be thrilled if you would ‘like,’ subscribe, and hit the notification bell; it will help my channel to grow, and you’ll be the first to know when the latest read-a-louds are available. Thank you so much for your support!

To find the written review for Say Nothing and see the Tricolour bookmark I was inspired to make, please click here.

Graphic of the A Man Called Ove front cover showing his blue silhouette peering down at the cat looking up to him. With a caption that says: Read the review and join the discussion about this soulful favourite at peachybooks.ca today, with an old military style Swedish watch in the background.
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

*Some Spoilers Within*

Oh dear, this book should come with a warning label or a box of tissues because as silly as I felt, I was crying my face off at least three times when reading it. And I am NOT a crier. Or at least I wasn’t until now. I had no choice in the matter. I fell in love with Ove and his neighbour Parvaneh and was so invested that I ended up buried deep in all the emotions the story heaps upon them.

Everyone knows someone like Ove: a grumpy, (possibly) old grouch who others assume is just mean and miserable by nature. This sour curmudgeon may be your grandpa or your aunt, a teacher or a neighbour, but they slog about in ill-temper, with a resting bitch face that could frighten a prison guard. 

With a busy schedule and the fear of the unknown providing a buffer, one’s inclination is self-preservation, and accordingly, you may opt to leave them alone to their misery. What both Ove’s wife Sonja and Parvaneh teach us is that our assumptions can be disastrously wrong. I found many similarities between their two personalities and how they related to Ove. 

His misunderstood and surly nature is a protective and well-honed coping mechanism, one he crafted as a lonely soul trudging through the depths of misfortune and sadness that life dragged him through. 

He has lived through harsh times, in that he has suffered many familial losses, heartache, and disappointment. A man from the old school, his steadfast principles are to work hard, be honest, and do the right thing, no matter what. Well, that and driving a Saab!

The untimely death of his virtuous father, rendering him an orphan in his teens, left him holding firmly to these inherited dogmas and, consequently, vulnerable and plagued with naivety.

The old adage no good deed goes unpunished ran through my mind often as he went it alone and learned about the hard lessons of life, suffering those who would take advantage of his righteous ways. 

Backman’s twisting of the past with the present gives us a clear view of the hardening that sets over Ove as trauma and tragedy mould him into the cantankerous sourpuss his neighbours know him to be. 

‘He knew very well that some people thought he was nothing but a grumpy old sod without any faith in people. But, to put it bluntly, that was because people had never given him reason to see it another way.

Quote by Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove: Because a time comes in all men's lives when they decide what sort of men they're going to be: the kind that lets other people walk all over them, or not, created by peachybooks.ca

As destiny would have it, another of Ove’s unfortunate setbacks was a heart condition that kept him from serving in the Military, that routine-laden world comprised of rules and purpose, where he felt he could belong. 

‘Military personnel wore uniforms and followed orders. All knew what they were doing. All had a function. Things had a place. Ove felt he could actually be good as a soldier. In fact, as he went down the stairs to have his obligatory medical examination, he felt lighter in his heart than he had for many years. As if he had been given a sudden purpose. A goal. Something to be.’

The best bit of fortune he ever received and the highlight of his days was meeting his effervescent bride-to-be, Sonja, on a passenger train one fateful day.

Sonja is life and love in colour, nurturing Ove and her wayward students with smiles of confidence and hope. She sees her husband for who he really is underneath the gruffness and the black and white. The love and appreciation they share for each other are the good stuff that made me feel the painful parts more keenly. 

‘And when one of her girlfriends asked why she loved him she answered that most men ran away from an inferno. But men like Ove ran into it.’

‘Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.’

With the passage of time and circumstance, Ove struggles with what remained of his life, as he lacks purpose and connection. Thanks to his job pushing him into early retirement and nothing or no one to live for, what was left?

‘And Ove didn’t know exactly when he became so quiet. He’d always been taciturn but this was something quite different. Maybe he had started talking more inside his own head. Maybe he was going insane (he did wonder sometimes). It was as if he didn’t want other people to talk to him, he was afraid that their chattering voices would drown out the memory of her voice.’

Queue Parvaneh and her cacophonous clan moving in across the way. 

Between breaking condo rules, asking for help, and showing up unannounced with home-cooked meals, they shove their way into the void of Ove’s darkened heart, and not a moment too soon. He’d had enough of the struggle to carry on and had been plotting his mortal exit, but thanks to the interruptions of his overly involved neighbours, he would be halted sometimes seconds before he was successful. 

The juxtaposition of the grumpy older man alongside the vivacious young mother was a pleasure to read. I could feel my spirits lifting with Ove’s as he started to connect with Parvaneh’s daughters, conspire to tease her dopey husband, and grow stronger from the purpose he again felt in his existence. 

It was heartwarming to watch the new seasons of Ove’s life as he blossomed again into a neighbour that put himself out for others, caring enough to do so. His rigidity began to soften while going with the flow of the new relationships being cultivated, his story unfurling into acceptance and light. 

This book was an emotional rollercoaster, completely worth the ride. Themes of friendship, purpose, and connection had me mournfully reflective of what the lack of these things means to our society during lockdowns and the isolation of this pandemic. How many Ove’s needing a Parvaneh can’t meet her because of this mess, and what can they do to persevere until things get back to normal? 

Community is the key to healing from loss and loneliness. Being a part of a group provides a sense of purpose and a feeling that people care whether you live or die. Sometimes that same community is the one thing that will prevent someone from succumbing to their struggle.

Don’t give up on yourself or your neighbour; be brave, make time, keep smiling, and let the Ove in your life have a second chance. 

One of the beautiful things about the internet and blogging is the ability to maintain community, even if we are isolated from others physically. The comments section is an excellent place to do that. Have you read A Man Called Ove? Did it make you ugly cry and have you running to clean your face before your family made fun of you, or maybe that was just me?😭🤭

Reading this moved me to make this adorable Two Pink Potted Flowers bookmark.

Image of a crochet bookmark with each end as a potted pink plant, in brown pots with a brown connecting chain.
Graphic with a crane lifting bricks for a brick wall being assembled that says: Gift ideas for constrction truck loving readers!
Blog Roll, Kids Books, non-fiction

Books as Gifts for Kids: Construction Vehicles

Construction vehicle books make great gifts!

If you’re looking for ideas for what to get little boys or girls who are interested in construction vehicles and big trucks, this is a fun option for a well-received present. This gift contained a build and take-apart crane, a book about cranes, and a crochet bookmark for a handmade touch.

I look forward to birthdays and celebrations so I can put together presents for people. I try to use my creativity to make a gift tailored to the person and their life. There is often a theme, something handmade, and always a book. 

For Canada Day last month, I made a Canadian Baby basket for my cousins’ baby shower. Today I’m sharing the crane-themed gift we gave to a sweet little boy in our family who has turned 3. 

The adorable photos below, graciously shared by his mom, show him busily building the crane and reading his book. She was thrilled to report that it kept him properly occupied, which spells a win in my book!


Books are windows to the world. Raising children to love reading gives them creative options for companionship, especially during times of isolation like a pandemic when travel and visiting aren’t always possible. With the crack of a cover, kids are welcomed into unknown lands teeming with characters and adventure.

A silhouette of a boy reading a book on the grass at sundown, with the quote: A book is a gift you can open again and again by Garrison Keillor

In an era where screens capture most of our daily attention, the gift of a book will treat the mind, body, and soul to the magic of imagination and the wonder of words.


Here are a few more books from the QED Mighty Machines collection by Amanda Askew, that would make a great set for a budding reader. Consider including a book with a toy for the next gift you give. If you are on a strict budget as I sometimes am, you could get a book in lieu of a card, and write your wishes on the inside flap instead.

Do you give many books as gifts? Do you enjoy receiving a book that someone else has chosen for you? Do you have a favourite book to gift? Let’s chat in the comments!

Peachy Books July in Review: The Drowning Kind Jennifer McMahon, Aliens on a Rampage Clete Barrett Smith, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, showing the covers for each book on two shelves
Blog Roll, book reviews, Monthly Reading Recall

Peachy Books’ July in Review

I’m noticing that six books a month is the best I can manage given my busy schedule, so I suppose I’ll finally accept this and stop making excuses for a slow reading month, as I did with the last two Month in Review posts. Gone are the days when I could spend endless hours reading books while my son toiled away at his computer for virtual school, and I could be flexible with my time. Instead we get to enjoy bike rides, gardening, and trips to the lake, so all is well that ends well.

I’m pleased to report there were a couple of thought-provoking reads this month. I also read my first horror fiction since my Stephen King days back in my youth, and enjoyed it far more than I’d anticipated. I’ll be working on detailed reviews for Klara and the Sun and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, so watch for them in the coming weeks, along with my thoughts on some other fabulous books.


Stephen King was one of my go-to authors in my youth. It was thrilling to spook my teenage self with stories like Christine, Carrie, Cujo, and Pet Sematary. I had an obsession with Anne Rice for a few years while enamoured with The Witching Hour and the Mayfair Witches, when all of a sudden, that was it; creepy tales were banished from my reading list in favour of the classics, contemporary and literary fiction.

Intending to expand my horizons and see what modern horror fiction looked like, I decided to dive into this morbid tale, and I am glad I did. Thankfully I wasn’t traumatised but instead shuddered through an appropriate level of hair-raising and devilish delight as McMahon twisted together the frightful past of the cursed Bradenburg Springs with its modern-day horrors.

The Drowning Kind doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, so be forewarned that this story shines a blinding light on mental health, infertility, and self-harm.


What a hoot! Aliens on Vacation was the hilarious first book in the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast series (review for it here), and this gem was the second. I dare say it was better than the first, which, given how rarely I’ve experienced this phenomenon when reading or watching films, is quite the honour for the second novel in a series to obtain.

David is super excited to be back at his grandma’s B & B for another summer, but when things don’t start off on the right foot between him and the new crabby off-world employee Scratchull, he begins to feel differently. With the help of David’s new ravenous alien-pet Snarffle, there may be hope for the summer, and humanity at large.


This is Where it Ends is the miss of the month for me. I struggled to take in the first 50 pages with its slew of characters, changing viewpoints, and info-dumping. In hindsight, I should have quit while I was ahead, but I restarted and felt confident enough to keep going the second time and saw it through to the end.  

Although the theme of a school shooting is an intense one, I was bored when reading this. I had no attachment to the characters who felt fake and forced, as did their connections to each other. I read that this author is part of an initiative for inclusive YA publishing, and quite frankly, was left feeling that this goal ended up taking over the story to the point where all else was lost. Tokenism is not the road to inclusivity.


I’m still feeling a bit hazy weeks after reading Ishiguro’s latest. I’m not sure that I fully grasped all that he was trying to convey. Artificial intelligence is the way of the future, and I have mixed feelings regarding this technology and how it will interact with the easily swayed masses. I was hopeful that I would come out the other side of this novel with a clearer picture of what AI can and might do for society, but, alas, I am just as befuddled as when I went in.

Klara is an AF (artificial friend) commissioned to keep 14-year-old Josie company as she struggles with her health and tries to maintain her education via a tutor on her oblong (something similar to a tablet, if I’m guessing.) This thought-provoking novel is presented through Klara’s naïve first-person narrative while she attempts to navigate life amongst the humans in this apparent dystopian society. I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to hash out more of a coherent understanding once I start dissecting my notes and working on a full review, so stay tuned.

Read the full review here.

Listen to the full review here.


This tragic tale of unrequited love, denial, and self-loathing is heartbreaking. Paradoxically, I despise David whilst harbouring a sadness in my heart for the man he never truly allows himself to be.

My head is foggy amidst the desolate exploitation that permeates this story and its characters as I recognise the societal fear, opposition, and hatred that pushes it to the fore.

I have so many thoughts still swirling that this review will likely become more detailed with time. For now, I will continue to process this heartbreaking and ugly tale while I wallow in the gloomy yet masterful prose of James Baldwin.


The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia series as far as the storyline but is the first published and most beloved of the seven fantasy tales. There has been much contention in literary circles over the years regarding which order is most appropriate to read them in, but we just made it simple and went in keeping with the plot. 

This internationally renowned children’s classic is a magical tale of adventure that unfolds in the wintry fantasy land of Narnia, where the children learn lessons about life and themselves. Reading this is a reader’s rite of passage, so I hear, but although I will admit to enjoying this book, some parts set off my creep metre. I’ll save these thoughts for my detailed review. 😉

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series that I have enjoyed reading aloud to my son, thanks to all the animated voices I can use for the talking animals and bold characters. To hear my dramatic reading of Chapter 11 of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Aslan is Nearer, click here.


Have you read any of these titles? What was your favourite read from July?

Coming Soon To Peachy Books!