20 Books of Summer – 2019

20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, is a very simple idea: make a list of 20 (or 10 or 15) books and read them during the summer months. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, as I discovered when I took part in 2017 and 2018. Just reading twenty books in three months is not usually a problem for me, but sticking to a list prepared in advance definitely is! Cathy does allow us to add and remove books from our lists, but I prefer not to do that if possible, which makes it even more challenging.

I did consider the ten or fifteen book option this time because I’m expecting this summer to be much busier than usual (if all goes according to plan I should be moving house in July) but I decided just to list twenty anyway and see how far I get with them. This year all of the books on my list are review copies, either physical ones or books I’ve received through NetGalley. It should be a good way to clear some of the backlog!

I’ll see how many of these I can read between 3rd June and 3rd September:

1. The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson

2. The Horseman by Tim Pears

3. The Devil’s Slave by Tracy Borman

4. A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien

5. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

6. Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

7. Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

8. Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

9. Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

10. The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

11. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

12. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

13. The Anarchist’s Club by Alex Reeve

14. Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

15. Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin

16. The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

17. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

18. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

19. Decoding the Bayeux Tapestry by Arthur C. Wright (non-fiction)

20. Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou by Amy Licence (non-fiction)

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Have you read any of these? Will you be taking part in 20 Books of Summer this year?

Completed Challenge: What’s in a Name ? 2018

I only signed up for two year-long reading challenges at the beginning of 2018 – What’s in a Name? and the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. With three days of the year remaining, I am still reading books that could count towards the Historical Fiction challenge, but I have now completed the What’s in a Name? challenge.

The challenge was hosted by Charlie of The Worm Hole and the idea was to read six books, each with a title including one of the following words:

– The word ‘the’ used twice
– A fruit or vegetable
– A shape
– A title that begins with Z
– A nationality
– A season

Here are the six books I read, with links to my reviews.

The word ‘the’ used twice:

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

A fruit or vegetable:

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

A shape:

Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor

A title beginning with Z:

Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore

A nationality:

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

A season:

The Winter Prince by Cheryl Sawyer

Did anyone else take part in this challenge too?

Have you read any of these books?

20 Books of Summer 2018 – 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 second time I’ve participated and although I haven’t been completely successful with it, I’ve still enjoyed taking part. It’s 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 that easy when you keep getting distracted by other books! I’ve read more than twenty books this summer, but only fifteen that were on my original list.

Here are the fifteen books in the order I read them, with links to my reviews:

1. For the Immortal by Emily Hauser
2. The Poison Bed by EC Fremantle
3. A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
4. Desperate Remedies by Thomas Hardy
5. The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola
6. My Beautiful Imperial by Rhiannon Lewis
7. The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
8. Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
9. Post of Honour by RF Delderfield
10. Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
11. Lamentation by CJ Sansom
12. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
13. The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry
14. Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard
15. Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim

I enjoyed all of these, especially Desperate Remedies, Post of Honour, Fool’s Errand, Lamentation and Marking Time.

And here are the books I didn’t have time for:

16. The Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault
17. Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie
18. Fortune’s Fool by David Blixt
19. The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath
20. The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

I’m still planning to read those books – in fact, I’m halfway through The Bull from the Sea now – but they will have to be autumn reads instead of summer ones.

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

It’s time for R.I.P. XIII…

September is almost here and that means it’s time to prepare for one of my favourite reading events: Readers Imbibing Peril (better known as R.I.P), which is hosted this year by Capricious. The idea of R.I.P. is to spend September and October reading books from the following categories:

Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror and Supernatural.

There are different levels to choose from, including a one-book option for those readers who don’t want to commit to too much. As usual, I am signing up for Peril the First, which means:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (our very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson or Tananarive Due…or anyone in between.

The challenge is now in its thirteenth year; my first R.I.P was R.I.P V in 2010 and I haven’t missed one since! I usually end up reading more than four books that fit the R.I.P. categories and although I don’t make a list and rigidly stick to it, I do like to put together a selection of possible choices.

Here are some of the R.I.P-ish books I have on my TBR:

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell was a birthday present from my sister in May, but I haven’t read it yet as I’ve been saving it for R.I.P. I’m sure it will be perfect.
The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton is one of the books I put on my 20 Books of Summer list and haven’t managed to read (I think 15/20 is the most I can hope for this summer). I love Sharon Bolton’s books and still have one of her others, Blood Harvest, to read as well.
A Gathering of Ghosts is Karen Maitland’s latest novel and I have a review copy which I really need to read soon.

Jezebel’s Daughter by Wilkie Collins is the only book on my Classics Club list that looks suitable for R.I.P.
Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor would also count towards my What’s In A Name? challenge – a book with a shape in the title.
And I already have Thunder on the Right lined up for September because Mary Stewart will be featuring in Jane’s Birthday Book of Underappreciated Lady Authors.

I loved The Strangler Vine by MJ Carter, so The Printer’s Coffin is high on my list for this year’s R.I.P.
So is The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude, a British Library Crime Classic which will be my first book by Bude.
I also want to read Cruel as the Grave by Sharon Penman, the second book in her Justin de Quincy mystery series.

The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin is one of the books I’m considering for the upcoming 1944 Club, and possibly an Agatha Christie as well.
I often read one of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries during R.I.P. and Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is the next one in the series.
And having read Allan Massie’s Death in Bordeaux last year, I would like to read Dark Summer in Bordeaux soon too.

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Those are just some of the books I could decide to read – I do have more on my TBR, so don’t be surprised if you see me reading something I haven’t mentioned here. I like to have plenty of choice!

Will you be taking part in R.I.P. this year? Have you read any of the books I’ve listed above?

20 Books of Summer – 2018

This time last year I decided to take part in 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. It’s a simple idea – to make a list of twenty books (or fifteen or ten) that you would like to read during the summer months – but it’s more difficult to complete than you might expect! I managed to read 16 out of 20 last year, which I was still quite pleased with, but I’m looking forward to trying again this year.

Here are my twenty books for 2018, in no particular order:

1. The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

2. Desperate Remedies by Thomas Hardy

3. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

4. A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor

5. The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

6. Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb

7. The Poison Bed by EC Fremantle

8. Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim

9. For the Immortal by Emily Hauser

10. Post of Honour by RF Delderfield

11. The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman

12. Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard

13. Lamentation by CJ Sansom

14. The Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault

15. Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie

16. Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

17. My Beautiful Imperial by Rhiannon Lewis

18. Fortune’s Fool by David Blixt

19. The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath

20. The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

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I’ve included a mixture of review copies (from NetGalley and from authors/publishers), books from my Classics Club list and some that I just want to read. I will need to read these twenty books between 1 June – 3 September, but I’m sure I will find myself reading others that aren’t on the list too!

Have you read any of these? Will you be taking part in 20 Books of Summer this year?

Some challenges for 2018: What’s in a Name? and Historical Fiction

It’s that time of year again when bloggers are making plans for next year’s reading and when reading challenges for 2018 are being announced. I don’t take part in many challenges these days, but there are two that I’m interested in for next year.

The first is a challenge which I used to enjoy but haven’t participated in since 2014. This is the What’s In A Name? challenge, hosted by Charlie of The Worm Hole. The challenge involves reading one book from each of six categories during 2018. I like the sound of the categories Charlie has chosen for us for next year, so I thought it would be fun to join in.

I have listed the categories below, followed by one or two possibilities. I don’t really want to be adding more books to my TBR so I’m going to try to choose from books that I already own.

    • The word ‘the’ used twice (The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden; The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan)
    • A fruit or vegetable (The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck)
    • A shape (Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor )
    • A title that begins with Z (Zofloya, or The Moor by Charlotte Dacre)
    • A nationality (The English Girl by Katherine Webb; The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter)
    • A season (The Winter Prince by Cheryl Sawyer; The Corn King and the Spring Queen by Naomi Mitchison; The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell)
  • ~

    The second challenge I’m signing up for is one I like to partipate in every year, even though it’s not exactly a ‘challenge’ for me! The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge is hosted by Passages to the Past and has six different reading 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

    As historical fiction is my favourite genre, I will be aiming for the Prehistoric level again in 2018.

    I will be keeping track of both of these challenges on this page.

    Will you be taking part in either of these?

My Commonplace Book: October 2017 – and R.I.P. XII summary

A selection of words and pictures to represent October’s reading

My Commonplace Book

commonplace book
Definition:
noun
a notebook in which quotations, poems, remarks, etc, that catch the owner’s attention are entered

Collins English Dictionary

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You know, the Church has a doctrine called just war. St Thomas Aquinas wrote on it, though the doctrine is much older than that. A State going to war must have tried all other options, must have justice on its side and have an honourable purpose in mind. None of Henry’s wars has been like that. Though he claims to be God’s representative on earth.”

Heartstone by CJ Sansom (2010)

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She censured his conduct in having given the man money instead of knocking him down. “Which I am persuaded you might have done, because Priscilla’s brother told us that you are a Pink of the Fancy,” she said severely.

“I shall be obliged to you,” said Sir Charles, with asperity, “if you will refrain from repeating the extremely improper remarks made to you by Priscilla’s cub of a brother!”

Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer (2016)

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Fingal’s Cave, Island of Staffa, Scotland

If anyone cares, Fingal, I am told, is a mythical Celtic giant. His cave is nearly seventy feet high and forty feet wide at the entrance, with the sea running inland to its full length of over two hundred feet. If anyone cares.

To me, it was a black booming vault lined with columns, grey, rose, lilac and charcoal, of natural basalt. Uneven, crowded columns hung from the roof and stuck up through the opaque peacock water, thinning here to bright green, which lay surging and lapping below us, darkening as it moved away from the sunlight and into the depths of the cave.

Rum Affair by Dorothy Dunnett (1968)

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He never ate the lower leaves: the top appeared more succulent. Whether he knew or not that this destroyed any possibility of flowering is a question that it is no good asking a rabbit. He seemed indifferent, in any case; there are few things more equable than the expression of a rabbit nibbling the head off a prize bloom.

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate (1940)

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“Why, what ails you?” asked he of Edmond. “Do you fear any approaching evil? I should say that you were the happiest man alive at this instant.”

“And that is the very thing that alarms me,” returned Dantès. “Man does not appear to me to be intended to enjoy felicity so unmixed; happiness is like the enchanted palaces we read of in our childhood, where fierce, fiery dragons defend the entrance and approach; and monsters of all shapes and kinds, requiring to be overcome ere victory is ours. I own that I am lost in wonder to find myself promoted to an honor of which I feel myself unworthy – that of being the husband of Mercedes.”

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)

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19th-century illustration of Cinchona calisaya

He nearly laughed. “Of course you’ll go. You must. People are like bees. They’re all workers who could be queens, with the right stuff, but once a queen-making has begun, it can’t be reversed. A bee that’s halfway a queen can’t turn back into a worker. She’d starve. She must keep growing and then she must leave.”

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (2017)

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He went on looking at the medal, head down. I felt a poignant memory of those desolate patches of disillusion which are the shocks of growing up. The discovery that one lived in a world which could pay honour where honour was not due, was just such a one. The values were rocked, the dependable was suddenly flimsy, the solid became hollow, gold turned to brass, there was no integrity anywhere…

Chocky by John Wyndham (1968)

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Sir Mordred by H. J. Ford, from King Arthur- The Tales of the Round Table by Andrew Lang, 1902

Mordred did not reply. He had a habit of quenching silences. He had discovered that if you failed to answer an awkward question, people rarely asked it twice. He did not know that this was a discovery normally only made in later life, and by some weaker natures not at all.

The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart (1983)

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Favourite books read in October: The Count of Monte Cristo, Snowdrift and Other Stories and Chocky

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The end of October also meant the end of this year’s R.I.P Challenge.

I was aiming to read four books for R.I.P. and managed six, so I’m pleased with that! Here are the books I read:

1. Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes
2. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
3. Death in Bordeaux by Allan Massie
4. The Man of Dangerous Secrets by Maxwell March
5. Heartstone by CJ Sansom
6. Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

Have you read any of these? How was your October?