20 Books of Summer…

The Halfway Point…



Well, it started off with a bang but now I’m beginning to whimper! Of course, I was distracted by a variety of gorgeous men, not least this one…

djokovic wimbledon

So some serious reading to be done over the next 6 weeks, and some even more serious reviewing catch-up. Here’s how it’s looking to date…

* * * * * * * * *

Of the original list I’ve read and reviewed just five so far:-

Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall – 4 stars

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver – 5 stars

After the Fire by Jane Casey – 4 stars

The Dinner by Herman Koch – 4 stars

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson – 4 stars

* * * * * * * * *

I’ve also read another 4 for which the reviews should appear over the next week or so. Two 5-stars, a 2½-star, and a 1-star abandoned – but I’m not saying which is which…

Time of Death by Mark Billingham

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

* * * * * * * * *

I’m swapping 2 out…

Coup de Foudre by Ken Kalfus – still hasn’t appeared on Kindle and no date is being shown, so I’ve given up on it meantime.

Disclaimer by Renee Knight – I’m afraid I only managed about 15 pages of this. Couldn’t bear the author’s writing style. It might have a great plot – the blurb sounds as if it will – but not for me, I fear.

* * * * * * * * *

And swapping in two replacements…

Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie – I’ve never made it through a Rushdie book but maybe this will be the one to change that.

The Case of the Dotty Dowager by Cathy Ace – I suspect I’ll need something light!

* * * * * * * * *

And then there’s still 9 from the original list not yet read…

Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (just starting)

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by SG MacLean

The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson (currently reading)

The Tender Herb by Lexie Conyngham

In Another Light by Andrew Greig

The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins

Docherty by William McIlvanney

* * * * * * * * *

Gulp! Must get in extra chocolate supplies…

41 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer…

  1. Well, after all, FictionFan, who wouldn’t be distracted by such – erm – tennis skill? I’m really glad to see that the vast majority of your completed books were 4/5-star reads. I really hope you’ll enjoy The Case of the Dotty Dowager. I like Cathy Ace’s work quite a lot. She does a traditional mystery well, I think. And she knows how to be light without being twee or ‘frothy.’

    • Well, I had to console myself somehow for Rafa’s early exit! 😉 Yes, it’s been a good bunch so far and I’m looking forward to the rest too – planning ahead has worked quite well at stopping me being distracted by the newest shiny thing! I read the first couple of chapters of the Cathy Ace and really liked her style, so I’ve got high hopes for that one – I was glad of the chance to swap it in.

  2. More “swapping out” to do! Hurry in with Sunset Song–can’t believe you’ve
    never read it . . .A Study in Scarlet–can’t believe you’ve never read it . . . and
    Waverly–I CAN believe you’ve never read it, neither have I, but as a flag flying,
    kilt waving Scotswoman, you must have that under your belt. Shove the others
    aside (after reading Dotty Dowager) and check off some biggies. Fondly, with
    your interests at heart,

  3. I love the title The Case of the Dotty Dowager.

    Gibbon’s Scots Quair trilogy has been on my TBR for ages. One of those that never seems to make it to the top of the pile.

    • I think it’s my favourite title of the year so far. 🙂

      I read the whole trilogy many moons ago, and from what I remember I loved Sunset Song but wasn’t quite as enthralled by the other two. But my tastes have definitely changed as I’ve aged, so I might feel differently this time around…

  4. Oooh I am looking forward to these reviews, I must say – especially the abandoned one! Also looking forward to finding out more about The Dotty Dowager, that one sounds pretty fascinating. Thank you once again for the lovely pictures accompanying the blog… the book covers, obviously… 😉

    • Haha! I feel a bit mean about the abandoned one, but I enjoyed writing the review! I love the Dotty Dowager title – hope the book is just as quirky! Yes, I’m sorry for distracting you from proper serious contemplation of the book covers with that unnecessary picture of Novak… 😉

  5. Can’t wait for your review of Go Set a Watchman. I put aside current reading for it. I’m definitely staying away from Richard Matheson’s book. That jacket would give me nightmares!

    • It takes me ages to listen to a book on audio – I have a feeling I might give in and buy the actual book! I’m still a bit worried about the whole idea though… The book of I Am Legend isn’t quite as scary as the cover, though it has its moments! I might try to change your mind when I review it… 😉

    • I knew the first half would be hard since it had to compete with the tennis, so I’m quite pleased to have finished 9 so far – especially since most of them have been good! The I Am Legend review should appear next week…

    • But I seem to have read all the quick ones first and left all the heavy stuff for the second half! I shall have to hibernate, I think…

      No, it’s one of her adult ones – a crime book. But she does do a YA series too – the new one of that is out in August. Not for your TBR though – too much romance! Aren’t I kind?

  6. I’m glad to see that Dotty Dowager made the list. 🙂 And I can understand your distracted state. 😀
    Have you read Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons? I would be interested in your take on that at some point.

    • Had to slip it in somehow with a title like that! Haha! The good thing about tennis is that most of the top guys are gorgeous so it doesn’t really matter who wins… 😉

      No I haven’t – it’s one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years, but never got around to. I shall shove it onto the TBR… 🙂

  7. I cannot tell you how much pleasure it brings me that you too abandoned Disclaimer at an early point. With the complete love-in about this book it’s nice to know that some sanity prevails. I managed 40 pages. But only with being strapped to a chair.

    • Haha! I’m delighted too – sometimes I really think it’s just me! I’ve honestly read better writing from 8-year-olds – generally they know some adjectives that don’t begin with ‘f’ for a start! Three word ‘sentences’. Or two. All the time. Really. Without verbs. I must admit I ranted a little in my NetGalley feedback on this one – I’ll probably never be approved by that particular publisher again… 😉

  8. I will be interested to read your thoughts on the various books, most of which I have not read.

    I did read “A Study in Scarlet,” and liked it very much, as I liked all of the real Holmes stories; not Moffat’s cutesily titled “A Study in Pink” takeooff on it. I read it as a boy, and was jarred by the abrupt jump in time and place, something I might not have encountered before. But it is a very good story. I read “Waverly” in college, and must confess that I found it very slow. My father always admired Sir Walter Scott, for writing two brave and heroic Jewish characters in “Ivanhoe,” amidst a time of general British anti-semitism. But finishing this book was a struggle, although I think it had a few good passages.

    “The Case of the Dotty Dowager” is a cute title! But do note that Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote the Perry Mason novels, which later became a famous American TV series, always wrote such titles, often alliterative. In fact, just now looking it up, he wrote, “The Case of the Dangerous Dowager” in 1937! Well, that certainly does not mean that this Dotty one cannot be a very good story, but I wonder if the author is familiar with Mr. Gardner’s books?

    I have never read the Matheson novel, as I usually stay away from vampire stories. I admire Matheson a great deal for his great “Twilight Zone” episodes, and then the screenplay for “Somewhere In Time.” He wrote the novel, too, of course, but I think the screenplay is better.

    Richard Ford is someone who is always highly touted, but I have never been able to appreciate him. Of course I only tried “The Sportwswriter,” figuring that since I love sports, I would like it; but I did not, so I abandoned it. However, maybe you can help convince me to give this one a real try, and that he is not the emperor’s new clothes, subsisting on reputation and style.

    As to Harper Lee book, it is all over the bookstores here. I was not as overwhelmed with “To Kill a Mockingbird” as many have been, but it was certainly an important and moving story.But this one is going to be a major disappointment, I think. My understanding is that it was written 50 or more years ago, prior to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and that Lee apparently never released it, changing that narrative to what she ultimately had published. So it is Atticus Finch as she had originally created him, but then revised him to the heroic character so many admire. I believe that this is not a reworking, or a sequel, it is an abandoned earlier novelistic draft, now being released, for whatever reasons. Now, I have not researched this too much, just read Michiko Kakutani’s review in the New York TImes. So maybe you will shed more light on all of this, in your review.

    • I love Holmes but agree about the jump in this one. However I just love the way Conan Doyle writes – he’s such a natural storyteller. I also love Walter Scott, although I’ve only read a few of them. He’s an author I’ve always planned to read more of, but they are quite-time-consuming so it’s too easy to keep putting them off. Waverley was his first I believe, so maybe he got better at keeping the plots tighter as he went along, but this is always the one that appears on Greatest Scottish Novels list, so we’ll see…

      Ha! Perhaps – though I get the impression this one is probably almost a ‘cosy’.

      I shall try to change your mind on either the Matheson or the Ford… but I’m not telling you which! You’ll just have to wait for the reviews… 😉

      Yes, I’m not totally convinced about the Harper Lee either, though I love Mockingbird. There’s also quite a strong feeling around that she’s been taken avantage of, a bit – that she didn’t really want this one released. But in the end I knew I’d read it eventually so might as well do it now. It takes me ages to listen to an audiobook though, and I never get as much out of them as reading, so I may revert to paper at some point…

  9. Quivers nervously – I do hope you aren’t going to 1 star the Boyd – bites nails in anxiety. Now everyone else may be telling you to be a dotty dowager but i want to shove you in the general direction of Andrew Greig, who you know is a big favourite of mine. Come on now, just settle down with a good single malt and Mr G

    PS I bowed to the strong urgings of several bloggers, led by you, and have started Revolutionary Road. Wowgosh. But, oh, my heart is painfully aching.

    I suspect it will push me into a long overdue re-read of The Great Gatsby, as there is a sticker on the front of my copy with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut ‘The Great Gatsby of my time..’

    I love how books link each other, this one of course coming as a great fat order from you following my reaction to The Grapes of Wrath (which, several books down the line is still booming away at me)

    • That’d be telling! You’ll just have to wait and see! Mr Greig is coming soon – in fact, he might be next. I’ve scheduled Waverley for after Sunset Song, but I feel I may need a break from so much Old Scottishness, so Greig might get moved up.

      Yay! I knew it was your kind of thing – if you’re not blown away by it, I shall blow you away myself! Did I remember to warn you to get in extra supplies of Kleenex? There is something Gatsby-ish about it – it might be the careful placement of each word for maximum effect, or possibly the brightness of the spotlight on the characters, but it definitely gave me some of the same feelings.

      And after you’ve finished that, it’ll be time for American Pastoral… 😉

      • Oh, I am indeed being buffeted and blown, and periodically clutching at my aching throat and chest. Not to mention simultaneously dropping my job ( what a job lot of visceral responses) that imagination, through words on a page, can act in this extraordinary fashion and create such responses in a reader. When I read a book which does this it almost seems something supernatural is going on, and I think of the power of language, the acquisition of speech, the potency of language, and everything mystical which was ever ascribed to it, the ‘ in the beginning was the word’. Of course, most of the time we ( have to) forget this, but brilliant and carefully chosen writing reminds me how amazing it all really is. End of section of purply burbly overwhelmed whiffle.

        • Indeed! The only problem is that these amazing books don’t half show up just how mediocre most other writing is! It’s the care to make each word count – to have no bits that clash or turn into a lull. And the ability to make people both distinct and universal at the same time. See? You should listen when your Auntie FF tells you – ‘This one! This one! This one!!!’ (If I only say it twice, though, you’re probably safe to ignore it…)

  10. You’re doing way better than me – I’ve only finished three of my 20 books so far (although 2 are all but finished).

    The tennis can be very distracting, although the time distance makes it awkward viewing in Australia 🙂

    • Normally I read about ten or twelve books a month so this challenge shouldn’t be a problem, but somehow I’m beginning to panic now! The foolish thing was that I didn’t include the books I’d also agreed to review over the summer… 😉

      I know! I find that during the Australian Open – I become nocturnal for two weeks and then take ages to get back to my usual sleep pattern. Every year I swear I’ll never do it again…

  11. Although this is from a while ago and I’m sure you’ve caught up by now, this did make me feel relieved, as I’m struggling a bit. Even though I’ve probably read 20 books since I started the challenge, just not THOSE 20 books I listed! I think I’m on books 14, 15 and 16 at the moment, but who knows!

    • I’m in the middle of nos 16 and 17 now – don’t think I’m going to make it, but hopefully I’ll only be few days late. Reviewing them on the other hand – tomorrow will only be number 14, so I think it might be mid-September before I finish that! Phew! Like you, I’ve read loads of other stuff too but trying to juggle with things that needed to be reviewed by specific dates has been hard!!! I feel I’m behind with everything – and oddly my TBR has actually gone up, not down! Haha! I give up! 😉

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