Book review

Quarterly Review: Jan-March 2023

It’s been a good — and relatively diverse — start to my reading year.

For the first time (in 19 years of blogging), I thought it might be helpful to collate all my reviews in one post for the first quarter of the year. That way, if you have missed anything, you don’t need to rummage through the site — you can simply bookmark this page and take it from there.

Here is a round-up of books read and reviewed between 1 January and 31 March 2023. They have been arranged by theme and then in alphabetical order by author’s surname. As ever, hyperlinks take you to my reviews in full.

Australian literature

  • ‘A Difficult Young Man’ by Martin Boyd (novel, 1955)
    The second novel in the ‘Langton Quartet’, this blackly comic tale focuses on the eyebrow-raising antics of the oldest son as seen through the eyes of his younger brother
  • ‘The Hush’ by Sara Foster (speculative fiction, 2021)
    A thrilling dystopian tale about a pandemic in which babies are stillborn and every facet of a woman’s reproductive life is controlled by the government
  • ‘Iris’ by Fiona Kelly McGregor (novel, 2022)
    A fictionalised account of the exploits of Iris Webber, a petty criminal in 1930s Sydney, written in the vernacular of the time
  • ‘Grand Days’ by Frank Moorhouse (novel, 1993)
    The first in a trilogy, this Australian classic charts the early days of Edith Campbell Berry’s career at the League of Nations
  • ‘Shirley’ by Ronnie Scott (novel, 2023)
    A hugely compelling tale of a 30-something woman navigating the complexities of her inner-city life after she breaks up with her boyfriend

First Nations writers

Irish literature

  • Seven Steeples’ by Sara Baume (novel, 2022)
    Literature’s equivalent to “slow TV”, this story charts one couple’s new life in the Irish countryside over the course of seven long years

Translated fiction

William Trevor books for #WilliamTrevor2023

  • ‘Cheating at Canasta’ (short stories)
    The perfect introduction to William Trevor’s work, this collection of 12 short stories features tales about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events
  • ‘Miss Gomez and the Brethren’ (novel, 1971)
    Story of a Caribbean immigrant in London who finds religion and then disturbs the equilibrium in a quiet suburban street

Miscellaneous (aka books I don’t fit in the categories above!)

Did you find this Quarterly Review helpful? Have you read anything from this list? Or has it made you want to explore anything from it?

10 thoughts on “Quarterly Review: Jan-March 2023”

  1. Phew! I don’t think I missed anything. I always read your reviews though sometimes only in my email, e.g. when you review Crime (which, as you know, doesn’t interest me), I don’t open it up so that I can write a naff comment when we both know I’m never going to read the book!
    I’m in two minds about this type of round-up post. Since you’ve asked, and I’m interested in how long they take to put together — and to come up with those clever two-line summations!) — I’ll admit that I mostly don’t read them, because as a subscriber by email I get all your posts and I don’t miss any. I get weekly digests for some of the blogs I subscribe to, but yours and quite a few others I get each post one-by-one in real time.
    OTOH, maybe I’m not your average reader. I think it’s possible that I might be a bit obsessive about reading…


    1. TBH, I did this for my own motivations… to see whether my reading is a varied as I think (generally, I would like to read one book a month that is translated fiction, another that is First Nations etc).

      Monthly round-ups (both mine and other people’s) generally don’t interest me because I don’t read enough books per month… I used to do them on my Insta account and stopped because it looked like I was showing off (ie. see how many books I read this month!) and then my niece asked what happened to them because she found them useful to see what books I recommended, so 🤷🏻‍♀️

      This post didn’t take me very long to put together as I collate everything on a spreadsheet every time I read and review a book, and I love doing the short summaries because it is good training for what I preach at work: distill your ideas and use as few words as possible!

      Also, you made me go look up the last time I read a crime novel… it was October last year! Time to dust off my crime novel TBR, I think 🤣


      1. Ha ha!
        I usually do a post that examines my reading for the year after New Year, but I didn’t this year. I just couldn’t be bothered putting the time in, and I know pretty much how I’m tracking in terms of diversifying my reading anyway.
        And like you say, it can look a bit as if I am bragging.


  2. Have I read anything from this list? It started well – A Difficult Young Man, but after that I’d have to answer no.
    Re Instagram, I get similar reaction from Facebook – where I put up all my reviews – people who are connected to me for some other, non-bookish reason asking me, when we meet, about something I’ve read.


    1. Yes, I find Instagram a way of reaching a different audience… there are a lot of people there who don’t read my blog, so if I post a pic of books I’ve read or am reading I normally get a few click through to the site. In some ways, it was those people I had in mind when I wrote this post.


  3. I’m doing a monthly post this year (rather than the annual one I used to do – which was hard work) for my own edification. I like lists, always have, always will. At the moment I’m focused on reading my TBR more than anything else, so use my spreadsheet as a way to keep me on track with that.
    I don’t always review the short stories I read either, so my spreadsheet is a way of recording when I read them (or reread them in the case of William Trevor).

    I like your short summeries – they help me with work.
    I can never read all the books; and there are also many books I have no intention of reading, but customers like to know. It’s handy having this community of readers that I can draw on when someone asks at work ‘have you read this book?’ I can happily say no, but my book friend Kim did and she said…. 🙂


    1. Yes, I’m on a mission to read more from my TBR (digital and physical). It’s great that all my books from London have finally arrived… it was a bit like Christmas opening up the boxes and being reunited with old friends… some of the books are 10+ years old and have survived multiple culls, so I know they are ones I am destined to read.

      I like that you can use this as a reference to help with your bookselling. I do something similar if anyone asks me about a particular book I haven’t read but someone I know in the blogworld has posted a review, I can say that I know people who have read it and liked it (or hated it) etc.


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