Clickety click, 66…

…or The Reading Bingo Challenge!

Another year draws to a close, so it must be time for… The Reading Bingo Challenge! I don’t deliberately look for books to read to meet this challenge, but at the end of the year it’s always fun to see how many boxes I can fill. Some of the categories are easy-peasy… others not so much. I’ve achieved a full house in each of the last two years, so the pressure is on…

More than 500 pages

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. Following my usual pattern of reading Dickens over Christmas, this category is usually easy to tick off! The major theme of the book is money – how possession of it corrupts, and how lack of it causes great suffering; and it satirises the class of society that hangs around the rich, especially the nouveau riche.

Betty Higden flees from the tender mercies of “the Parish”

A forgotten classic

The Gowk Storm by Nancy Brysson Morrison. The Classics Club inspired me to try to read some Scottish classics that I should probably have read long since. This book about three sisters finding their way through the restrictive social codes of the early 20th century was one, and a great one that deserves to be unforgotten!

A book that became a movie

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes. I’ve been going on about this great book ever since I read it, so last time (maybe)! This is the story of a family who begin to suspect that their lodger may be a notorious serial killer. Set in the London of Jack the Ripper, the book inspired Hitchcock’s brilliant silent movie of the same name. Fab combo – read it, then watch it!

Ivor Novello as Mr Sleuth… or is he The Avenger?

Published this year

Sweet William by Iain Maitland. A very recent read, this is about a convicted killer who breaks out of his secure mental hospital to run off with his three-year-old son, sweet William. Dark and disturbing with touches of the blackest black humour, it’s a fabulous piece of writing with one of the best drawn disturbed central characters I’ve read in a long time.

With a number in the title

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards. The book that inspired my new Murder, Mystery, Mayhem challenge and finally pushed my TBR into the stratosphere. A must-read for anyone who wants to read some vintage crime but doesn’t know where to begin, but also great for the more knowledgeable reader too, who will still find plenty of anecdotes to entertain.

Written by someone under 30

The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham. Allingham, a future Queen of Crime, was only 25 when this was published in 1929. It’s the first appearance of her long-running detective, Albert Campion, though he’s very different in this to what he would later become. Not her best, but always interesting to see how successful series begin.

A book with non-human characters

Animal Farm by George Orwell. Regulars will be only too aware of this year’s Russian obsession on my blog. This allegorical tale was one of the first of the year. Mind you, the way the year has gone, I’m not sure it really counts as having non-human characters – certain politicians are making the pigs look like a much higher stage of evolution…

Good Heavens! Has Napoleon taken to Twitter…???

A funny book

The Vanishing Lord by Lucy Brazier. Second in Lucy’s PorterGirl series, this farcical look at life in one of our prestigious universities is full of murder, mayhem and sausage sandwiches. Though not necessarily in that order…

A book by a female author

D’you know what? I hate this category. It suggests that there’s something odd about female authors or that they need special support because they’re such delicate little flowers. Nope! So I’m changing it for this and future years to…

A science fiction or fantasy book

The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells. There are some pretty horrific images in this novella – hardly surpising, perhaps, since it’s one in the line of books that looks at the dangers of mad science untempered by ethics. Here, Wells uses the subject of vivisection to consider questions of evolution and man’s relationship to his evolutionary forebears.

A mystery

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie. One of the highlights of the reading year for me has been discovering the Hugh Fraser narrations of Agatha Christie’s books on Audible. He does a fab job, especially with the Poirot books and it’s encouraging me to revisit some of these true classics of the mystery genre. This one, about a serial killer of sorts, is one of the best…

A one-word title

Penance by Kanae Minato. I haven’t read much Japanese crime fiction, but am always intrigued and a bit discombobulated when I do. This one tells the tale of a group of women who were witnesses in a murder case when they were schoolgirls. The story shows how the shadow of that event has affected each of their lives…

Free square

Treasure Island: An Audible Original Drama. Not exactly a book, nor even an audiobook. This is a full-cast dramatic adaptation – a thing Audible seems to be getting into in a big way. Hurrah! The cast of this throw themselves into it with glee, and nothing has given me more pleasure bookishly this year than being marooned… maroooooned, I tell ‘ee… with Long John Silver and the lads for a few hours.

A book of short stories

Miraculous Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards. Most of the short stories I’ve read this year have been the vintage crime anthologies that are part of the British Library Crime Classics series. This is one of my favourites – a collection of “impossible” crimes – locked room mysteries, etc. Beautifully baffling!

Set on a different continent

Selection Day by Aravind Adiga. Set in modern-day Bombay or Mumbai (Adiga uses them interchangeably), this tale of sibling rivalry is tied in with a wider picture of corruption in society shown through the corruption in cricket. I find Adiga tends to give a more nuanced picture of India than a lot of contemporary authors, balancing the positives with the negatives.


Dead Wake by Erik Larson. Larson gives a riveting account of the last voyage of the Lusitania, its passengers and crew, and the wider political situation that gave rise to the circumstances in which the ship was left unprotected in waters in which it was known U-boats were operating. A perfect balance of the personal and the political.

First book by a favourite author

The Time Machine by HG Wells. Wells’ second entry on the list – I’ve been having a bit of a Wells-fest recently! On the surface, this one looks at the far-distant future of humanity, but in reality it has just as much to say about the current concerns in Wells’ own society – evolution (again), communism, science. But first and foremost, it’s a great adventure yarn.

Heard about online

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton. This category could apply to just about every book I read, but this was one that I only came across because of other bloggers’ reviews. A beautifully written collection of loosely linked short stories based in the Suffolk sandlings, they build together to create a somewhat nostalgic picture of a way of life that is passing, and to look forward with a kind of fear to an uncertain future…

A best-selling book

Munich by Robert Harris. This is a lightly fictionalised account of the events leading up to and at the Munich conference where Hitler, Chamberlain and a few of the other European leaders met to determine the fate of the Sudetenland. As always, Harris shows himself a master of riveting storytelling.

From the bottom of the TBR pile

Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore. In a sense, this has been on my TBR all my life, since my Dad always used to say it was his favourite book. It certainly isn’t mine, but happily I enjoyed this romantic adventure set in 17th century Exmoor more than I expected to.

Based on a true story

The Long Drop by Denise Mina. This marvellous fictionalised account of the true story of Peter Manuel, one of the last men to be hanged in Scotland, in the late 1950s, won my award for the Crime Fiction Book of the Year. Mina brilliantly evokes the Glasgow of that era – the places, the people, the ever-present threat of violence…

A book a friend loves

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. Our very own Cleo from CleopatraLovesBooks appears in a cameo role in this book – she won the honour at a charity auction. In truth, I probably wouldn’t have read it but for that, so I was delighted when I loved this historical fiction set on  a ship taking immigrants to Australia just before WW2 began.

A book that scared me

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. A novella really but packing plenty of spinetingling power! When two young men who are canoeing down the Danube in the middle of a great flood decide to camp for the night on a tiny island, what could possibly go wrong? Apart from the ancient and malign alien beings, that is! Sometimes, books are classics for a reason…

A book that is more than 10 years old

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. Spoiled for choice this year, so I’m going with this classic because I’d forgotten just how good it is and because next year, 2018, is its 200th anniversay.  I listened to the wonderful narration by Derek Jacobi. So much more than sci-fi or horror, this is a book that looks deeply into the darkness of the human heart…

The second book in a series

A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee. Second in the excellent Sam Wyndham series, set in colonial India just after WW1. When the son and heir of the Maharaja of Sambalpore is assassinated in front of him, Calcutta police captain Sam Wyndham manages to get himself invited to the prince’s funeral so he can do a bit of investigating…

A book with a blue cover

The Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet. On the face of it a crime novel, the quality of the writing and characterisation, the authenticity of the setting and the intelligence of the structure all raise it so that it sits easily in the literary fiction category at the highest level. I even preferred it to Burnet’s Booker-nominated His Bloody Project

* * * * * * *

Bingo! Full House!


45 thoughts on “Clickety click, 66…

  1. I am quite impressed, FictionFan! You’ve done an outstanding job with this challenge! And I especially like the variety of books on your list, too. You make an interesting point about the category of books written by women. I have to think about that one. For now, I like your strategy: if you don’t care for a category, change it! 🙂


    • Thank you – I’m very proud, especially since I beat Cleo! 😉 Yes, I get annoyed by that one every year since I read loads of books by women because they’re good books, not because they’re by women! So it had to go… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A really interesting selection of books (to increase my TBR 🙂 ).
    A really uninviting, ancient cloth-covered copy of Lorna Doone sat on my bookshelves for the whole of my childhood, but I never read more than the final few pages (possibly the best bit!). I’ve now got one of those free kindle copies & I still haven’t read it from the beginning.


    • Thanks – glad you enjoyed it! 😀

      I’ve put it off for literally decades! But actually it’s pretty good – the first quarter is dreadfully slow, though, but it picks up after that. I went from thinking I’d never get through it to really quite enjoying it towards the end. Go on… you know you want to… 😉


  3. Well done, FF!! Nothing like a full house, and you’ve got some goodies here. I don’t think I ever read Lorna Doone, and I imagine it’s time I re-read some of those classics by Dickens. And Lucy’s book is on my own TBR, so I’m looking forward to that one!


    • It’s that author under 30 question that’s the hardest every year, but I had a couple to choose from this year! I’d recommend re-reading Dickens over reading Lorna Doone, to be truthful. But Lucy’s book is shorter and funnier than either of them… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great choices, and I hope your review and recommendation will encourage people to read The Gowk Storm. Now, if you could do the same for Nan Shepherd, we might be getting somewhere!


    • Oh, dear! I meant to put Nan Shepherd on my Classics Club list and then forgot about her when I finally did it. I’ve never read her – I shall try to squeeze her in… 🙂


  5. Great job and another author I can keep in mind to fill that under thirty square next year!! I’m so pleased I got the mention in the book a friend loved too – you would not believe how many people i’ve Dragged into bookshops and forced them to buy A Dangerous Crossing 😂
    Like you I always pause for thought on the Female author section, I read far more books by women than men after all.
    Congratulations can’t wait to see what you pick next year (I take away the reminders to read Sweet William, The Accident on the A35 and The Gowk Storm)


    • I’m feeling very smug! And I actually had a choice of two for the under 30 this year – Frankenstein would have fitted as well. Haha – I’d be making everybody read it too if it was me, so I’m on your side. 😉

      Yes, I do read more men than women usually but that’s not a deliberate policy – it’s just that as you know I don’t really read what could be called women’s fiction much. But even so ten out of the 25 are by women without me trying…

      Three excellent choices! I genuinely think you’ll enjoy them all… 😀


  6. Great eclectic list. It should have been obvious but when I was trying to find my author under 30 I never thought of dead authors. That would have made it easier! I don’t get so riled as you by the female author category as I look upon it as just another opportunity to showcase female writers. In fact, I think a most of my squares were filled by female authors anyway (16 to be precise).


    • I find the dead authors the best for that category. For one thing, they seemed to publish so much younger, and secondly, it’s easier to get a dead author’s date of birth from wikipedia than to stalk a living author on Twitter demanding to know their age… 😉 I do tend to read more male authors but that’s simply because my personal taste in lit-fic doesn’t include the more domestic style of a lot of older women authors. But in crime fiction, I’m sure I read more women. It never occurs to me to think about gender when picking a book though…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect you’d like The Lodger, Jacqui, with your love for noirish crime. It’s not noir exactly – too early, but it’s beautifully dark…

      Thank you – a sign of how much time I’ve spent reading when I should have been doing housework, I think… 😉 It’s fun trying to fill the boxes though – I’d love to see your choices…


    • Thank you – I’m feeling horribly smug! 😉 Haha – I’m always relieved when I’ve read some on other people’s lists – cuts down the number I’m tempted to add to the TBR…


  7. Whoa! Full House! ‘Animal Farm’ is the only book I have read from your, Fiction Fan. And thank you for not mentioning a female author. Of course, that doesn’t need a special square. Yaaay to you! 😊


    • I know – I’m feeling very smug! 😉 Yes, I never like when people behave as if it’s odd that women write. There are zillions of successful women writers going back for 100s of years – and they never needed a special category…!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. And the prize goes to….. FictionFan! I couldn’t agree more with changing an unnecessary category to something more interesting, well done. If I ever try this, my free square will be a book with a recipe (not a recipe book) or a re-read of an old favourite… one day…


    • Oh, I think you should do it – I’d love to read your list! Re-read would have been a good choice for replacing the “female author” square – I had to struggle to think of a replacement category. It’s a fun way to look back over the year though… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m really excited to hear that! Two great choices – I hope you enjoy them, but will be interested in hearing what you think even if you don’t. Have fun! 😀 😀 😀


  9. Firstly, it does not surprise me one bit that you have filled this whole bingo card. Secondly, I’m proud of you for changing the ‘female author’ category-what silly nonsense! I hope other bloggers follow suit.


    • Thank you – I’m feeling very smug! I know – a lot of these golden age authors seem to have started ridiculously young – probably didn’t have to spend 7 years getting a PhD in Creative Writing before they began… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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