20 Books of Summer 2015!

A TBR challenge for me…and a challenge for you…



Cathy over at Cathy746 is hosting this challenge to read twenty books between 1st June and 4th September. (Did you know the name Cathy746 is because Cathy discovered she had 746!!! books on her TBR list? Makes me laugh every time…)

Normally I’d easily read 20 books in three months, but summer is always my slowest time for reading, mainly because of this chap…


…or sometimes this one…

andy murray

…and even occasionally this one…


So I thought that joining the challenge might give me the impetus to fit some reading in around my drooling watching.

* * * * *

But rather than just listing the titles I plan to read, I thought we could play a little game instead… no, don’t groan! Really, it’ll be fun…

maniacal laughter

Today I’ll be giving you clues to the first ten books on my summer list, and the second ten will be revealed in two weeks time. No titles though! Instead here are ten author pics and ten short blurbs. How many can you match?

1 point if you can name the author in the pic, 1 point for guessing the book title from the blurb, and an extra point if you can match the author to the title.

Or, if you prefer, you can opt out of the game and get the full thirty points by sending me a massive box of chocolates. Can’t say fairer than that, can I? 😉

* * * * *

* * * * *

And now the blurbs…

Blurb AClassic sci-fi set in a post-apocalyptic world where one man must survive in a world of vampires.

Blurb BBrand new collection of short stories from the author who took us to the USSR in his earlier prize-winning collection and made us dream of Mars and triangles in his last full length novel.

Blurb CThe latest entry in a crime series that starred David Morrissey in the TV adaptation. A girl is missing and a man has been arrested, but our police detective hero believes they’ve got the wrong man…

Blurb DClassic Scottish literature – The adventures of David Balfour, a young orphan, as he journeys through the dangerous Scottish Highlands in an attempt to regain his rightful inheritance.

Blurb EA crime story, loosely based on the Bulger case, that examines what happens to children who kill when they are eventually released. Our heroine is the probation officer of one of the boys.

Blurb FCrime in Amsterdam. An evening in a restaurant turns very dark as two sets of parents show the lengths to which they’re willing to go to protect their teenage sons from the consequences of their actions.

Blurb GBritish crime by an Irish author. A new book in the series which stars my favourite young female detective and her male chauvinist pig (but oddly attractive) sidekick. Together they must investigate a fire that resulted in the death of a politician.

Blurb HBilled as a ghost story, but with a literary flavour. Set in 1937, this is the story of a young man, trapped in the Arctic as the long night of winter approaches and the sea begins to freeze – and he’s not alone…

Blurb INew crime thriller that’s being positively reviewed all round the blogosphere. What would you do if you picked up a book and discovered it was about you – and that it was revealing a secret you thought only you and one other person knew – and that other person is dead?

Blurb JOne for the Great American Novel Quest from a Pulitzer winning novelist. As a Presidential election hangs in the balance, and a post-nuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him along with crises both marital and medical, Frank Bascombe discovers that what he terms the Permanent Period is fraught with unforeseen perils.

* * * * *

I must say I think this game is fiendishly difficult even for bookie people. I’m so glad you’re playing it and not me – enjoy!

(Because I think it’s too hard, you will find the answers listed at the bottom of the post – see? I’m quite kind really…)


1 – 10                            Out in the qualifying rounds!
10 – 20                          Made the quarter-finals! Pretty good!
20 – 29                          Ooh! A semi-finalist! Well done!
30                                 Congratulations! You’ve won the Championship!


rafa winner 2013 2

(What? None of you won Rafa? Oh dear, I’ll just have to keep him then…)

* * * * *

Why not join in with Cathy’s challenge? Lots of good books will be read and lots of good reviews will be written… and no doubt we’ll all end up with even longer TBRs as a result.










Author 1 Blurb H – Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Author 2 Blurb E – Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall
Author 3 Blurb J – Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
Author 4 Blurb C – Time of Death by Mark Billingham
Author 5 Blurb B – Coup de Foudre by Ken Kalfus
Author 6 Blurb A – I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Author 7 Blurb D – Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Author 8 Blurb G – After the Fire by Jane Casey
Author 9 Blurb F – The Dinner by Herman Koch
Author 10 Blurb I – Disclaimer by Renée Knight

74 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 2015!

  1. What a fun game, FictionFan!! Can’t say I did as well as I wanted – by a long shot – but still fun. And I’ll be really, really keen to see what you think of a few of these, particularly the Koch, the Dugdall and the Casey. Hmmm…..your game here is getting me thinking…always dangerous… 😉

  2. I was about to say: And where is the picture of RL Stevenson then? I did better with the blurbs than with the author pictures – maybe because I seldom glance at the photos of authors. Now, Rafa on the other hand…
    And I am joining you on the TBR20 until further notice.
    Is that really the origin of Cathy’s handle name? That is even worse than me…

    • Yes, RLS doesn’t look like I’d imagine him either – too modern somehow. I’d have done better with the blurbs too, even though I’ve posted quite a few of these pics before. I’m thinking I need to add one of the newer tennis players to my regular list this year… perhaps I should run a poll… 😉

      Oh good! It’s fun making lists…

      Haha! Yes, it is! It gives me such glow of smug superiority… 😉

  3. Geez… that WAS hard! I got Richard Ford. That’s it! I, too, was distracted by the tennis hunks. Well, I’m off to read now… Lots of pressure here! Don’t make me list them at the end of summer. Unless children’s books count?

    • Haha! Sorry about that! The book bloggers have an advantage, ‘cos lots of these are ones that are doing the rounds at the moment. But I had to make it tough just in case anyone won Rafa! All books count! I’ve been thinking about having some kind of post for the non-reviewing people who visit to reveal what they’re reading – I’m nosy!

    • 5’s brill, I think – I’m sure I’d have struggled to get any, if I didn’t have inside info! My great fears are Cleo and Lady Fancifull, since so many of these books seem to come from recommendations from them…

  4. This reminds me of my days working in a bookstore when customers come in not knowing the author or the title!

    Sadly, the only one I knew for sure off the top of my head was The Dinner. (Which is very creepy but I think you’ll enjoy.)

    • Haha! Yes… “It’s about a man and he falls in love – do you know the one I mean? It’s got a yellow cover” 😉

      I loved his other book Summer House with Swimming Pool, and this one has been on my TBR for way too long!

  5. The only picture I recognized was Stevenson. My father read “David Balfour” to me, along with “Kidnapped,” and my very favorite book as a boy, “Treasure Island.” I’m sure you know that “David Balfour” is a sequel to “Kidnapped”; so you want to be sure to read that book first.

    I highly respect Matheson’s work, having written so many superb “Twilight Zone” episodes, as well as “Somewhere in Time.” I think I read “The Sportwriter” by Ford; other than that, I have not read any of these authors. “Disclaimer” sounds quite interesting.

    So I did not get many points at all, but fortunately the “prizes” are of the wrong gender. Chris Evert isn’t still playing, is she? However, I did very well last night on the episode of “500 Questions.” You will be appalled to know that in response to the question, “Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe, grew what kind of flowers?,” the contestant (who has to get it right on the first guess to win money, but has ten seconds to get it right on further guesses to avoid being docked with a wrong answer), guessed about eight different erroneous flowers. His 30ish female competitor, who by the rules could not gain points for right answers, did know, which I found somewhat encouraging.

    • I loved Treasure Island when I re-read it recently, maybe even more than I did when I was a child. Have you read Andrew Motion’s continuation novels? The first one is Silver – https://fictionfanblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/silver-return-to-treasure-island-by-andrew-motion/ – I don’t think he gets the tone quite right, but he’s a beautiful poetic writer, especially his descriptive writing. The one I’m about to read is Kidnapped, which I don’t think I’ve read before.

      I Am Legend will be a re-read too – a real classic and from memory quite a thought-provoking book. Haven’t read any Ford, but he comes highly recommended by a fellow reviewer who hasn’t often led me wrong.

      Haha! How about Maria Sharapova? I couldn’t let anybody win Rafa anyway – he needs to put in regular appearances on the blog or half my female blog-buddies would leave! I’m quite impressed that a 30ish person would know Nero Wolfe! Maybe he’s making a comeback as a result of the most recent TV adaptation. Brilliant books!

      • I did try to read a couple of non-Stevenson “Treasure Island” spinoffs, so to speak. One was an attempted prequel, with all the buccaneers sailing on Captain Flint’s ship. Another was a sequel, Jim Hawkins telling the story as an adult, and Silver making a surprise appearance later on. I don’t think that this was written by Motion, but I don’t remember the author. As much as I had just loved that wonderful story as a boy (and like you, read it again as an adult, and liked it just as much), it just wasn’t the same. Motion sounds like a good writer; it is a shame that he could not better recapture the tone. It’s one of the piquant truths about great literature, it just cannot be replicated by someone else, no matter how well-intentioned. And don’t get me started about “Wicked,” that bane of modern literature.

        I read just about all of the Nero Wolfe mysteries as a teenager, sharing them with my mother, who loved mysteries. I remember many happy times on vacation with the family, sitting by the pool after a nice swim, settling into another great Stout mystery. Great atmosphere; Archie an ingratiating narrator; and Stout gently mocking the arrogant rich. Oh, and of course the food! Stout wrote a cookbook, I believe! My mother and I were excited when the TV series came on, but neither of us liked it that much. I think it was too camped up; and Timothy Hutton did not strike me as a good Archie. Do you know that Sydney Greenstreet, the superb actor, played Nero Wolfe in a radio series? He would have been a perfect Wolfe for the movies, but I don’t think they ever tried to adapt them for cinema, a great shame.

        “Kidnapped is a wonderful story.” Not “Treasure Island,” nothing is, but a great story in its own right. I bought a hard-to-get DVD of “Kidnapped,” starring Michael Caine and Vivien Heilbron; I can’t watch it on my DVD player, because it is Region 2, but I just had to have it, in advance of when I ever get around to buying a multi-region disc player. If you review it, I will be impelled to read it again, to share thoughts. Oh, and the “Master of Ballantrae” is one I saw on PBS once; it is great, I tried to find the DVD, but it is also Region 2. Maybe I should buy it anyway, and pile it on top of the other. 🙂

        • I often read follow-on novels but usually end up disappointed. Don’t know why I do it really – they seem to exert an awful fascination over me. The Motion ones are about Jim Hawkins’ son, another Jim, and Natty Silver – Long John’s daughter. They’re good books, but would be better without the inevitable comparisons, I feel.

          Oh, I wonder if the Sydney Greenstreet programmes were recorded? Must check if they’re available anywhere. You’re right – he’d have been a great Wolfe! I believe there was one film made with Edward Arnold as Wolfe (don’t know him at all) but it couldn’t have been a huge success since they didn’t make any more. I was fairly neutral about the TV series myself – I was glad to see him being introduced to a new audience, but they didn’t thrill me.

          Haha! I went through a spate of buying classic films on DVD and then never got around to watching them – not Region issues, just time and cocentration issues! I’m trying to be more controlled these days – primarily because I don’t have room for any more books, DVD’s, music etc. Thank goodness for downloads! I will be reviewing Kidnapped, in theory around mid-July but my reading schedule is falling dramatically behind at present so it might end up being August…

  6. I recognised the blurb from the Paver (I’m SOOOOOOO glad you are going to immerse – it’s really one to save for Halloween time though, for full screaming terror) and that a Kalfus was in there, and the Koch – but despite having reviewed a couple of Pavers, and the Martian Kalfus, would you believe it I couldn’t pick them out of the lineup. I think I’ve gone overkill with author photos and put me in a police identification parade, I’d look at the hundreds of author pics, go ‘I know I recognise them from somewhere’ but wouldn’t, with very few exceptions, name that author from their pic.

    So I’m afraid I’m out in the outer darkness of not even getting a single chocolate

    And as for not even recognising Robert Louis Stevenson who looked ENORMOUSLY familiar (though I was thinking he might be one of CrosbyStillsNashandYoung, circa 1970)

    I did recognise that smouldering man in green, plus the other couple, immediately though. Does this say I only have a memory for muscled young men displaying their …erm…assets.

    How very superficial!

    And I recognised Glenn Close’s wig

    • Haha! I’m exactly the same – several of these have appeared on my blog, but the only ones I’d actually recognise are Jane Casey and Ken Kalfus. RLS just doesn’t look right somehow, does he? I had to go check that I hadn’t picked up the wrong picture – Robert Larry Stevenson perhaps, a great friend of Oscar Wilde. Dark Matter has been on the TBR since you reviewed it – missed last winter, so have decided it will have to be read soon even if it’s the wrong season!

      I bet you weren’t so impressed by Glen now you know the secret of the gif – as Holmes always complained, once the process is explained it all becomes ‘Absurdly simple, my dear fellow!’

      Rafa’s rather sweet in that pic, isn’t he? I’m so glad you didn’t win him – he wouldn’t look so good covered in Fancifull drool…

      • I’m kind of hugging the excitement of my first 4 gifs spread across 3 posts which will be coming soon. Now that I know I can’t drool on Rafa, nor will I be getting any chocolates, its all a mortified loser has to look forward to

        What I really want now is the combo of visual AND aural gif, flicker AND stutter really would be WordPress (sorry, I mean AWESOME)

        • Must go search for Rafa gifs…

          No!! Not aural!! There’s nothing I hate more (expept perhaps war and pestilence, but it’s close…) than popping into a website and being blasted by unanticipated sound! Grrr!

  7. I read I Am Legend right after I watched the movie. Unfortunately, the movie won. I will need to think this over carefully. I read books for a living. That leaves me the 24 and a half minutes before I collapse for the day. Of course, if I could get Harry to do the laundry, the cleaning and the cooking I might be able to do it. I’d be generous and offer to take care of the bird, the cat and the dog.

    • I haven’t seen the movie but I believe they’re supposed to be quite different? I often find whichever I do first wins, but I do remember being very impressed by the book.

      You could cook the bird, the cat and the dog – cut the workload, increase your reading time and have a lovely meal at the same time! *wicked face*

      • The screen version was different. But the book doesn’t have Will Smith running around. 🙂 I think the plot line (for me) moved along better. The ending is different, too, if I remember correctly. It probably has something to do with me being a visual learner, too.

        Now you keep your hands on my critters! The dog is in his dotage and only wakes up to go out for walks and to eat. The bird sings. But not about pudding strings. The cat still hasn’t gotten my sister here for 9 months and is ignoring me anyway.

        • Yes, I think I heard they’d changed the ending – weird, since that’s the most important part of the book, if I recall. I might watch the movie after I’ve re-read the book…

          Haha! What have you done to poor George that’s made him ignore you? Late with his din-dins?

          • The ending was probably the weakest part because of the “new” ending.

            My sister called me last July and begged for sanctuary after not speaking to me for 3 or 4 years. I told her to come stay with us for awhile. The awhile turned out to be nine months. She doesn’t like cats. The Chinese character for war is two women under the same roof. Nevertheless, we both found some healing from our estrangement. 😀 George is still traumatized. I hope he gets over it – I miss the rascal sitting with me when I read.

            • Oh dear! My cats don’t like visitors either on the whole, though Tuppence has my brother wrapped round her litlle…claw. But don’t tell him I told you. My sister and I get on very well – perhaps because we live a hundred miles or so from each other! 😉 But yes, two women under the same roof can be very difficult, especially when they’re related. I’m glad you both got something positive out of it though, and George will just have to be bribed with treats until he forgives you…

            • Oh, he knows only too well how to play that game! The reproachful sighs, the reminder that he has had only one tree since his breakfast two minutes ago…

  8. Oh, what a relief you gave us the answers! I would have spent countless hours on trying to figure this out. As it is, I only knew one immediately. And I’ll bet you can guess which. 😀

    • Haha! I wasn’t going to, but when I realised how impossible the game actually was, I couldn’t be that mean! Hmm… I’m gueesing Ford and The Lay of the Land? Unless it’s Dark Matter on the basis of LF’s review…?

  9. I only recognised one author (guess which!) and his book and I’ve only seen the film of one other. Notice I’m not promising to read the rest – I’ll be watching a lot of tennis too, tho’ without the drool. 🙂

  10. Hooray! — I knew 5 blurbs (it helped that I’ve read 4 and knew another from hearing it hyped around the Internet). I can’t wait for your review of The Dinner! I read/reviewed it a while back and think about rereading it whenever I see it on my Kindle. It was so… unexpected and inspired mixed feelings. Koch’s Summer House with Swimming Pool is on my list for the summer.

    • 5 is brill! I think that puts you in the joint lead blurb-wise, though I suspect Cleo is going to be the overall winner – since half the books come from recommendations from her in the first place! I did it the other way round – read and loved Summer House a few months ago, and have had The Dinner on my Kindle ever since. It’s one I’m really looking forward to – sounds deliciously twisted! As was Summer House…

    • Haha! I realised the quiz had come out much harder than I originally thought, so I decided I’d better give the answers to avoid lynching!

      Looking forward to reading everyone else’s lists and reviews. 🙂

  11. Oh, dear, now I’m feeling stooopid! I didn’t get very far on your pop quiz, FF. Blame it on the distractions of Rafa, et. al., heehee!! Seriously, with all those handsome tennis fellas blasting away in tournaments this summer, I’m surprised anybody has time to read 20 books!!

    • Haha! The quiz was waaaaaay too hard! I might try to make the next one a bit fairer. I reckon I’d have been lucky to get more than a couple myself if it wasn’t my list! But with Rafa, Andy and Novak… who cares? 😉

  12. This was really hard and quite unfair!! I got 13 in all – 4 author pics (all female) – 5 blurbs and the 4 matched! Funnily enough I think I added some of these to your TBR in the first place. So good to see the hunky men back – I’m looking forward to seeing more over the summer months!

    • 😆 I’m sorry! I didn’t think it would be so hard until I looked at it after drafting – and it was too late to change it. I think 13 is not just brill, but the winning score! I expected you to do well, though, because you’re right – several of these are your fault… 😉

      I’m thinking I’ll have to find a new generation of tennis heroes soon – must spend a few hours checking out pics… 😀

  13. Ooh, I just bought dark matter on a whim at the weekend in a NT 2nd hand bookshop, (the Florencecourt one is twice the price of the one at Spinghill). Excited to hear all the reviews. I’m in a reading slump-there’s a lot of gardening to be done here.

  14. There should be a about 24 points for someone (like the professor) who couldn’t get one. I think it’s only fair, this day an age, you know.

    RLS looks so funny! An ancient. I was about to call him Poe.

    So…first is Rafa…then Andy…who’s the last tennis dude?

    • Dadblameit!!! I was reeeeeally hoping you’d go for the sending me a massive box of chocolates option! But since it’s you, I agree. Here! 24 points. That means you’ve won!! *parcels up Rafa and prepares to mail him over* Take care of him, won’t you…

      He is a bit Poe-ish! He just doesn’t look like what he should look like somehow.

      That’s Novak Djokovic, who seems to win everything these days. So just as well he’s cute, eh? It doesn’t show up well in that pic but he’s got a very Professorial hairstyle…

      • Oh no, I don’t want Rafa…you have to give me a better prize than that. Any ideas? *ponders*

        Very true. He’s a bit…thin about the gills.

        He’s not cute neither! Don’t you think I need a new style?

        • What could possibly be better than Rafa? Hmm… a claymore?

          Ah! He’s a fish then! That’s explains it…

          Oh, he is too! Well… *clears throat*… no, because… well, because I think you’re just about perfect as you are… *blushes like a tomato in the noonday sun*

  15. When I went to comment, I accidentally scrolled down and saw the answers, even though I knew some of these!!! Arrrrrgggghhh! But how fun! Enjoy your summer reading!!!

    • I thought about putting the answers upside down to prevent just such a thing – but then I imagined you all having to stand on your heads to read them…. *chuckles*

      Should be fun! 🙂

  16. I don’t know these authors by sight and only a few by name. I’d gladly send chocolates but I’m across the pond.
    I think we U.S. readers choose different writers and my library system doesn’t help as it has limited global fiction, crime or otherwise, except for best-selling authors and the biggest names.
    I have read a number of Scottish writers’ books, Denise Mina being an author whose books I will walk through a hurricane to get. Just began reading Ian Rankin and read one book by Gordon Ferris, which I liked much.

    • Haha! Virtual chocolates are less fattening anyway! Yes, the quiz turned out much harder than I thought it would be when I had the idea. Very unfair – sorry! 😉

      I’ve discovered I’m really insular in my crime tastes – I always seem to gravitate towards UK writers. For some reason I haven’t read any Denise Mina – I really must rectify that. But both Rankin and Ferris are favourites of mine – the Ferris books get better and better as the series goes on.

      Thanks for popping by and commenting! 🙂

    • Thanks! Haha! The quiz came out much harder than I thought when the idea popped into my head, so I don’t think you’re alone. I’m trying to think of a way to make the second batch a bit easier! Looking forward to the challenge – should be fun!

      Thanks for popping in – I’m just on my way over to check out your list. 😀

  17. Oh dear…I really do read almost no fiction, so I missed out on most of these. The last Stevenson I read was an abridged version, read aloud as a bedtime story to my kiddo a few years ago.

    • Oh I couldn’t live without fiction – doubt if I could sleep without reading of a nice murder first! But I’m hoping to fit some factual stuff in between. I re-read Treasure Island recently and enjoyed it more than I remembered, so I’m hoping I’ll feel the same about Kidnapped.

    • Haha! Yes, the quiz turned out to be much more impossible than I thought it would when I had the idea – sorry! 😉

      Thanks, and thanks for popping in and commenting!

    • It’ll be a re-read for me too, but from a long time ago, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it as much as I remember doing forst time round.

      Thanks for popping in and commenting! 😀

        • I’ve never read anything else by him – another hole in my reading! I read a bit of sci-fi when I was younger and then drifted away from it, so I’m now attempting to reawaken my interest by reading some of the classics – some re-reads, some I’ve never read. So far, so good – so I’ll have a look at his other stuff and maybe add a couple to the TBR. Any suggestions?

  18. A fun game I came to a bit late, and I can see you have very different reading tastes to me, so it’ll be interesting to pop over and read your reviews. Have a lovely summer of 20 books!

    • Haha! The game turned out much harder than I really meant it to – I’m not usually that mean – honest! Yes, part of what I like about this challenge is what a wide range of different tastes will be covered – might even push me out of my comfort zone to try something new. Looking forward to reading your reviews too! 🙂

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