The end of 20 Books of Summer…and the start of R.I.P XVII!

This year’s 20 Books of Summer (hosted by Cathy at 746 Books) is over now, so let’s take a look at how I did. The rules were very simple – just make a list of 20 books and read them during June, July and August. In previous years I’ve never come close to finishing my list, but this time I’ve been much more successful!

Here are the books I’ve managed to read and review from my list, in the order I read them:

1. Fortune by Amanda Smyth
2. Death on Gokumon Island by Seishi Yokomizo
3. The Colour Storm by Damian Dibben
4. Death in the Andamans by M.M. Kaye
5. Summerhills by D.E Stevenson
6. Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby
7. Pied Piper by Nevil Shute
8. At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie
9. The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
10. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
11. Haven by Emma Donoghue
12. The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
13. Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
14. The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer
15. Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie
16. The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
17. Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull
18. The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

I’ve also read this one but not had time to review it yet:

19. Something Light by Margery Sharp

And I’m reading this one now:

20. Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

I could probably have completed all twenty by the deadline, but didn’t want to rush the last few books. I’ve also read several others that weren’t on my list, so I consider this summer’s reading to have been a success – particularly as it included some very long books!

If you’ve been taking part, how did you do?

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This is also the first day of another of my favourite reading challenges, R.I.P., which is back for its seventeenth year! This used to be one of the biggest events in the book blogging calendar but seems to take place mainly on Instagram and Twitter now. I still like to join in, even if it’s in a more casual and flexible way these days.

The idea is to read, watch or listen to anything that fits one of the following categories:

Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Dark Fantasy
Gothic
Horror
Supernatural

After reading from my 20 Books of Summer list all summer, I don’t want to make another long list of R.I.P. reads as I would prefer to be spontaneous and just read whatever I feel like reading. However, there are a few books that I would definitely like to get to during this year’s challenge.

Two mysteries on my NetGalley shelf:

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz
Blue Water by Leonora Nattrass

A book of short stories I would like to dip into throughout the event:

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn

I have plenty of other books on the TBR that would also be perfect for R.I.P., so watch this space to see what else I decide to read!

If you would like to join in with R.I.P. XVII, more details can be found on the Readers Imbibing Peril blog or by following @perilreaders on Twitter or Instagram.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: Looking back at 2021 and forward to 2022

I don’t take part in many year-long reading challenges as I prefer to just join in with shorter reading events and reading weeks. However, there is one that I like to participate in every year – and that is the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader. This is not really much of a ‘challenge’ for me, but I still enjoy linking my reviews to the monthly challenge posts, seeing what other participants are reading and discovering new historical fiction novels and bloggers.

Before I post the details of the 2022 challenge, I want to look back at what I achieved in 2021.

I had signed up at the ‘Prehistoric’ level, which meant reading 50+ historical fiction novels during the year. I managed to read 56 and here they are:

1. The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman
2. The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien
3. Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain
4. Rags of Time by Michael Ward
5. The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
6. The Soul Thief by Cecelia Holland
7. Ashes by Christopher de Vinck
8. The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
9. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
10. Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
11. A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
12. The Lost Diary of Venice by Margaux DeRoux
13. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
14. The Prophet by Martine Bailey
15. The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins
16. The Drowned City by KJ Maitland
17. Imperfect Alchemist by Naomi Miller
18. The Damask Rose by Carol McGrath
19. John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk
20. The Hardie Inheritance by Anne Melville
21. The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
22. The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor
23. The Horseman by Tim Pears
24. The Rich Earth by Pamela Oldfield
25. Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
26. The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
27. China by Edward Rutherfurd
28. Still Life by Sarah Winman
29. The Wrecking Storm by Michael Ward
30. The Protector by S.J. Deas
31. The Last Daughter by Nicola Cornick
32. Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram
33. I Will Repay by Baroness Orczy
34. Cecily by Annie Garthwaite
35. St Martin’s Summer by Rafael Sabatini
36. The Country of Others by Leïla Slimani
37. Rose Nicolson by Andrew Greig
38. The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach
39. A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry
40. The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
41. Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir
42. Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies
43. The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters
44. A Marriage of Lions by Elizabeth Chadwick
45. Castle Barebane by Joan Aiken
46. Black Drop by Leonora Nattrass
47. The Royal Game by Anne O’Brien
48. The Swift and the Harrier by Minette Walters
49. Lily by Rose Tremain
50. Fallen by Lia Mills
51. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
52. The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff
53. The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan
54. None But Elizabeth by Rhoda Edwards
55. A Princely Knave by Philip Lindsay
56. Miss Austen by Gill Hornby (review to follow)

Here are the rules for the 2022 challenge, taken from Marg’s blog:

Everyone can participate! If you don’t have a blog you can post a link to your review if it’s posted on Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon, or you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish.

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

You can sign up for the challenge here. I will be aiming for Prehistoric again in 2022. Let me know if you’re planning to take part too!

20 Books of Summer – 2021

20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, is a very simple idea: make a list of twenty books (there are also ten and fifteen book options) and read them during the summer months. However, it’s more difficult than it sounds, and although this will be my fifth year of taking part, I have still never managed to read all twenty books on my list!

This year’s 20 Books of Summer starts on Tuesday 1st June and finishes on Wednesday 1st September. I have listed below the books I would like to read, but I don’t expect to have time for all of them and will probably end up reading lots of books that aren’t on the list instead! These are a mixture of review copies, books from my Classics Club list and books that have been waiting on my TBR for a long time. I will also have three books to read for an Agatha Christie challenge I’m participating in, but I don’t know what they will be yet.

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1. Still Life by Sarah Winman
2. Death in Zanzibar by MM Kaye
3. A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry
4. The Green Gauntlet by RF Delderfield
5. The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
6. Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
7. The Lily and the Lion by Maurice Druon
8. Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
9. The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian
10. The Last Daughter by Nicola Cornick
11. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
12. The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
13. The Reckoning by Sharon Penman
14. The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach by Jas Treadwell
15. High Rising by Angela Thirkell
16. Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard
17. Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram
18. St Martin’s Summer by Rafael Sabatini
19. Goodbye, Mr Chips by James Hilton
20. The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude

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Have you read any of these? Which one should I read first? And will you be joining in with 20 Books of Summer this year?

Read Christie 2021 and Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2021

I don’t take part in many year-long reading challenges, but there were two that I decided to participate in at the beginning of 2020 and that I will be joining in with again in 2021.

First there was Read Christie 2020, which was hosted by agathachristie.com and involved reading twelve Agatha Christie books, one per month, from twelve different categories. I got off to a great start with this and managed to read the following:

JANUARY – A book that changed Christie’s life…
Murder on the Orient Express

FEBRUARY – A story Christie loved…
A Murder is Announced

MARCH – A Christie story adapted for stage…
The Hollow

APRIL – A story Christie disguised…
Sleeping Murder

After drifting away from this challenge in April, I found it difficult to get back into the routine and didn’t read any more of the monthly books. I’ll be trying again in 2020!

You don’t need to officially sign up for this (the monthly book choice is announced on the website and on Twitter at the beginning of every month), but to get a copy of the postcard showing the categories for 2021, you will need to subscribe to the Agatha Christie newsletter.

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One challenge that I participate in every year is the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, hosted for the last few years by Amy at Passages to the Past, but moving back to one of its former hosts, Marg at The Intrepid Reader, for 2021. Before I post the details of the 2021 challenge, I want to look back at what I achieved in 2020.

I had signed up at the ‘Prehistoric’ level, which meant reading 50+ historical fiction novels during the year. Usually I don’t have a problem completing this, but this year I’ve fallen three short at 47. Here’s what I read:

1. Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau
2. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
3. The Foundling by Stacey Halls
4. The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd
5. The Almanack by Martine Bailey
6. Blood Queen by Joanna Courtney
7. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
8. The Great Matter Monologues by Thomas Crockett
9. Becoming Belle by Nuala O’Connor
10. Requiem for a Knave by Laura Carlin
11. A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
12. In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S Haasse
13. The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey
14. Lady of the Highway by Deborah Swift
15. The Missing Sister by Dinah Jefferies
16. Killing Beauties by Pete Langman
17. The Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence
18. The Familiars by Stacey Halls
19. The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson
20. The Irish Princess by Elizabeth Chadwick
21. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
22. Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin
23. The Silken Rose by Carol McGrath
24. The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor
25. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
26. A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley
27. When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby
28. The Silver Collar by Antonia Hodgson
29. Katheryn Howard, the Tainted Queen by Alison Weir
30. The Honey and the Sting by EC Fremantle
31. The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian
32. The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore
33. The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick
34. V2 by Robert Harris
35. The Minion by Rafael Sabatini
36. The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson
37. Royal Flush by Margaret Irwin
38. The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
39. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
40. The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson
41. Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin
42. The Butcher of Berner Street by Alex Reeve
43. Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
44. The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
45. The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies
46. The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle
47. The Running Wolf by Helen Steadman

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You can find full details on how to take part in the 2021 challenge at Marg’s blog, but here are the most important things to know:

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

I will be aiming for the Prehistoric level again in 2021!

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Are you taking part in either of these – or any other 2021 reading challenges?

Ready for R.I.P. XV

It’s been a strange summer in many ways and I can’t really say that I’m sorry it’s nearly over. As we move into September and the darker nights and colder weather begin to arrive again, my favourite reading event – R.I.P. (or Readers Imbibing Peril) – is also returning for a fifteenth year.

This year the rules are much more relaxed than usual. There’s no need to officially sign up and there are no levels or targets to aim for. All you need to do to join in is read some spooky, mysterious or suspenseful books in September and October and, if you have Instagram or Twitter, you can follow the event @perilreaders.

Here is a list of some of the possible choices I have on my TBR. I won’t read all of these and could end up reading different books entirely, but I like to have plenty of options.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Dead March for Penelope Blow by George Bellairs
The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale
The Butcher of Berner Street by Alex Reeve
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
The Printer’s Coffin by MJ Carter
A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland
Tombland by CJ Sansom
The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude
The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters
The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Grim Tales by E Nesbit
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by MR James

Will you be taking part in R.I.P. this year?

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: Looking back at 2019 and forward to 2020

I don’t take part in many reading challenges these days as I prefer to have the freedom to read what I want to read without trying to meet too many targets and goals, but one challenge I have been participating in during 2019 is the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Amy at Passages to the Past.

Reading historical fiction is not really much of a ‘challenge’ for me, but I still enjoy linking my reviews to the monthly challenge posts, seeing what other participants are reading and discovering new historical fiction novels and bloggers. I will be signing up again in 2020, but first, Amy has provided some questions for us to answer about our 2019 reading:

So, how many historicals did you read in 2019?
50, although I have only reviewed 45 of them so far.

Did you reach your original challenge goal level?
Yes – I had signed up at ‘Prehistoric’ level, which meant I needed to read 50 books for the challenge.

What was your favorite historical of the year?
The Way to the Lantern by Audrey Erskine Lindop

What was the most surprising historical read of the year for you?
The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve – I knew nothing about it and wasn’t expecting much from it, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

What historical are you looking forward to most in 2020?
Like many people, I’m eagerly awaiting The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel!

Here is a full list of the books I read for the challenge in 2019:

1. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
2. The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve
3. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (re-read)
4. Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
5. Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss
6. Elizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin
7. The She-Wolf by Maurice Druon
8. A King Under Siege by Mercedes Rochelle
9. Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer
10. The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey
11. The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
12. The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff
13. Casanova and the Faceless Woman by Olivier Barde-Cabucon
14. Cashelmara by Susan Howatch (re-read)
15. The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence
16. Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
17. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
18. The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter
19. After the Party by Cressida Connolly
20. The Adventurers by Jane Aiken Hodge
21. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
22. The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick
23. The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
24. The House of Hardie by Anne Melville
25. The Devil’s Slave by Tracy Borman
26. Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
27. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor
28. The Butcher’s Daughter by Victoria Glendinning
29. The Way to the Lantern by Audrey Erskine Lindop
30. The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson
31. A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien
32. The Anarchists’ Club by Alex Reeve
33. The King’s Evil by Andrew Taylor
34. The Daughter of Hardie by Anne Melville
35. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
36. To Calais, in Ordinary Time by James Meek
37. The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
38. Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
39. Bone China by Laura Purcell
40. The Boy with Blue Trousers by Carol Jones
41. The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan by Cynthia Jefferies
42. The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby
43. The Drowned Court by Tracey Warr
44. The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry
45. A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier
46. Dark Queen Rising by Paul Doherty
47. Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg
48. The Bastille Spy by CS Quinn
49. Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir
50. Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard

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Now, on to next year’s challenge! As usual, there are different levels to choose from:

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc).

I will be aiming for Prehistoric again, but won’t be too disappointed if I don’t reach 50 books (I nearly didn’t this year). Enjoying my reading is the most important thing!

Will you be taking part in this challenge too? You can find full details at Passages to the Past here.

20 Books of Summer 2019: The End!

This is the last day of this year’s 20 Books of Summer challenge hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. It’s the third time I’ve participated and the third time I’ve failed to complete it!

20 Books of Summer is a simple idea – to make a list of twenty books at the start of the summer and then read them between 1st June and 3rd September – but not as easy as it sounds. I have actually read exactly twenty books this summer, but only ten of them were on my list; I was tempted by too many other books in June, and then in July and August I found I was too busy to read very much at all.

Anyway, here are the ten books from my list that I managed to read, with links to my reviews:

1. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
2. The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick
3. Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh
4. The Devil’s Slave by Tracy Borman
5. Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
6. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor
7. Decoding the Bayeux Tapestry by Arthur C. Wright
8. Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada
9. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
10. The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson

Of these, my favourites were The Island of Sea Women and The Devil’s Slave.

I am currently reading the following two books but couldn’t finish them in time:

11. A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien
12. The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

And these are the eight I haven’t had time for, but do still want to read soon:

13. The Horseman by Tim Pears
14. Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
15. Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir
16. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
17. The Anarchist’s Club by Alex Reeve
18. Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin
19. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
20. Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou by Amy Licence

They will have to be autumn or winter reads instead of summer ones!

Did you take part in 20 Books of Summer this year? How did you do?