20 Books of Summer – Wrap!

A first time for everything…

Hurrah! I did it! I did it!! I DID IT!!! All twenty books read and reviewed within the time limit!

Oh, I’m so sorry – I shall try to calm down now. But in my defence, it’s the first time I’ve ever beaten this fun but surprisingly difficult challenge, hosted by the lovely Cathy at 746 Books.

* * * * *

So here’s a little summary of how it went…

Of the original 20 books, I read 18, abandoned 1 partway through, and replaced one.

I stayed in Britain for part of the time, but I also managed to visit America, Mexico, France, East Germany, Turkey, India, Zululand, Australia and Papua New Guinea! Plus I sailed through every ocean in the world. Imagine how much post-vacation laundry has piled up! I travelled with murderers, detectives, prostitutes, spies, French Resistance fighters, John F Kennedy, Zulu warriors, and even witnessed the end of the world! No wonder I’m exhausted…

The combined star total of the 20 that make up my final list is a whopping 82! Or an average of 4.1 per book. Pretty stonking, huh?


⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Lowlights

Turns out I hated the Kate Atkinson Jackson Brodie books which I had been expecting to be the highlight of the summer. Oh, well! Case Histories got 2 stars, One Good Turn got a generous 1 star even though I abandoned it at 11%, and When Will There Be Good News? was deleted from my Kindle unopened. I replaced it with Murder in the Mill-Race by ECR Lorac.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones was astonishingly bad considering it was a Booker Prize nominee (though the fact that that still has the power to surprise me surprises me) – 2 stars

* * * * *

The Middlelights

These one rated as 3½ stars, meaning slightly better than OK – worth reading if the blurb takes your fancy.

Three Bullets by RJ Ellory
The Case of Miss Elliot by Baroness Orczy
The Pearl by John Steinbeck

And these ones rated as 4 stars, meaning good solid reads that I’d recommend.

Death Has Deep Roots by Michael Gilbert
Murder in the Mill-Race ECR Lorac

* * * * *

The Uplights

These ones nearly made it. All 4½ stars, meaning excellent but just didn’t quite earn the full galaxy. Highly recommended, nevertheless.

Conviction by Denise Mina
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré
The Middle Temple Murder by JS Fletcher

* * * * *

The Highlights

An astonishing 9 books achieved Five Glorious Glowing Golden Stars! I loved the look of my list when I started out three months ago and am pleased that it lived well up to my expectations. All of these are highly recommended and several of them will be in the running for my Book of the Year Awards. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susannah Stapleton
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
In the Heat of the Night by John Ball
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas by Jules Verne
Nada the Lily by H. Rider Haggard
The Observations by Jane Harris
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott

So, a great summer’s reading! Hope you’ve enjoyed some of the reviews and that I’ve maybe even tempted you to add one or two to your own overloaded TBRs. Gotta go – got to start planning next year’s list…

* * * * *

Oh, nearly forgot! And…

The Book of the Summer

is

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

65 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer – Wrap!

    • Thanks – I’m feeling very smug! 😀 Yeah, I usually veer off the list halfway through – I always read twenty books but not the right twenty! My willpower is obviously in top condition this year… 😉

  1. I’m very happy for you, FictionFan! Well done! Of course I’m happy that you finished the challenge. That’s wonderful in and of itself. But I’m especially happy that so many of the books you read were enjoyable. You didn’t have a lot of disappointments in your reads, and that’s such a good feeling.

    • Desperately trying to catch up with my Classics Club list means there’s loads of them in there, and the more I read of them the more I remember that they become classics for a reason! I always enjoy a good proportion of my reads as you know, but I must say this was a particularly great bunch. Pity about the Atkinsons, but sometimes a reader and an author just don’t gel – faults on both sides and all that… 😉

  2. Well done! I didn’t make it – although I read 24 books between 3 June and today only 9 of them were the ones I listed for the 20 book challenge. I don’t seem to be able to predict what I want to read …

    It’s a shame about those lowlight books, especially as Mister Pip has been on my TBR list for years. But great about all those 5 star books.

    • That’s what usually happens to me. I always read more than twenty but usually drift far from my list. I really had to make an effort not to get distracted this year! You might love Mister Pip – loads of people do, so fingers crossed. You know me – I either love books or hate them! I’m not good at that balanced opinion thing… 😉 I thoroughly enjoyed this list – all these classics made for some fab reads. 😀

    • Woohoo! And my local supermarket has a special offer on chocolate at the moment – FF heaven! 😀

      Haha! Yes, I’ll have to start being nice about the Booker committee again if they actually pick the Shafak. 😂

  3. Congratulations on finishing your summer challenge! Maybe I can add up the books I read and see how many that gives me 😉Your favorite is from the Booker list. I don’t usually rush to read any of them but a friend is eager to read Ducks, Newburyport.

    • Thank you – I’m feeling very smug! 😀 Haha – I always read at least twenty, but usually not the ones from my list. I know – I spotted it had been shortlisted seconds after I’d posted this. It’s the only one of the shortlist I’ve read, but I do hope it wins – it’s a perfect Booker book, I think. I must check out the other ones and see if any appeal…

  4. Well done you! Having only just discovered the book blogging comunity over the last few months, I’ve never attempted any challenges and have no book lists other than the ever expanding TBR. I tend to fall down reading rabbit holes, so am probably too easily distracted to be able to stick rigidly to a list.

    • Haha – thanks! You have no idea how smug I feel! 😉 It’s the rabbit hole effect that usually makes me fail this challenge – I veer off the list halfway through. But this year I tried really hard to only put books on that I thought would be great and included lots of variety, and the result is I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my reading this summer. I never used to do this kind of thing before blogging either, but I do find the challenges quite fun so long as they’re not too restrictive.

  5. Well, what with shortlisting and your high recommendation, I can see I will have to add the Shafak to the list (I’ve liked everything of hers that I’ve read so far, although I haven’t read that much).

    • This is the only one of hers I’ve read so I don’t know how it compares to her others, but I really thought it was great. I was delighted to see she’s been shortlisted – this is exactly the kind of book I’d like to see win!

    • Haha! Thank you – I’m the smuggest blogger in the blogosphere today! 😉 You do! It’s a wonderful book – even if it has been shortlisted for the *pah!* Booker Prize… 😉

    • Thank you! I should get an award for smugness today! 😉 Oh yes, that’s a win! I had to race to get my last review done in time – but I’d still have declared a victory if I hadn’t… 😀

    • Thank you! I’m as smug as smug can be! 😉 I must admit I’m a love or hate kind of reader so I give five stars a lot, but this was a particularly great bunch of books. The Shafak really is wonderful – I was delighted to see it shortlisted for the Booker! Hope it wins… 😀

    • Even your lukewarm opinion seems fairly glowing in comparison to mine. I really didn’t like it at all – so many things about it annoyed me. Pity! It was another I really expected to love…

  6. Yay for you!! 😀 👏👏👏

    I have your “book of the summer” at the top of my wish list… debating whether to go on and pre-order the Kindle version for my TBR!

    • Thank you – I’m the Queen of Smugness! 😉

      Yes, you should! I’m going to go on about it till everybody reads it so you might as well get it over with… 😉 I was delighted to see it got shortlisted for the Booker Prize today – a wonderful book! 😀

  7. Impressive achievement FF, the reading, the review writing and the cleverness with which you selected so many stonking good reads. Maybe you should be suggested for next year’s Booker judging panel? 😉

  8. Well done, FF!! I didn’t even try to tackle this book challenge, but I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews (good as well as not-so-good). Pat yourself on the back and enjoy the heady feeling of mission accomplished.

  9. Well done! You’ve done much better than I have. I read exactly twenty books but only ten of them were on my list. It’s great that you had so many 5 star books as well. I loved The Observations too but haven’t read any of your others.

    • Thank you – I’m the Queen of Smugness! 😉 I usually veer off the list too, which is why I fail. I always read at least twenty books – just not the right ones! But somehow this year my willpower seemed to be working properly for once. 😀 The Observations was great fun – I must read her other stuff soon…

  10. Amazing! How wonderful that you visited so many places through reading over the summer! I’m quite keen to read Elif Shafak’s book. I’ve seen it shortlisted and am curious to find out if it’s as good as people say. Congratulations on completing the challenge!

    • Thanks! Yes, I didn’t really plan to “go” to all these places – I just kinda happened, but I enjoyed it! I love Shafak’s book – I really would recommend it. It’s so beautifully written and the characters are wonderful creations… 😀

  11. I’m in awe of your summer success – challenges are a motivational means of broadening reading choices & actually getting them read 🙂
    I find summer a tricky time to get through books, what with being outside on the allotment for much of my free time & then with limited reading time I get picky about what I am actually reading, abandoning anything that immediately fails to catch my interest. I need the darker evenings, to send me to bed early to read, to get through that TBR.

    • Me too – I almost never achieve a time-limited challenge, so I’m still feeling smug about it! 😉 I usually read more in winter too, though I fear I’m not nearly as active as you in summer – I just spend far too much time watching all the summer tennis tournaments. But dark evenings seem more suited to getting stuck into a book – especially heavier ones.

    • Thank you! I’m still feeling smug! 😀 I’ve still not read much of her stuff either – some of it looks too grim and gritty for me – but her last couple of standalones have been great.

  12. Well done on keeping to plan, FF! Of course my ‘summer’ reading is still ahead of me. I have read In the Heat, King Solomon’s Mines following your reviews. And the Le Carré, Mina and Shafak, Shute are on my TBR. I’m hoping the library will come through on my request to purchase Observations. A good summer’s reading for you!

    • Oh, I’m intrigued to know what you thought of King Solomon’s Mines! I often wonder if I’d have enjoyed it so much if I read it now for the first time, though I was reassured when I recently enjoyed Nada the Lily, which I hadn’t read in childhood. I hope you enjoy the others – I’m confident you’ll love the Shafak and the Shute, and appreciate the Le Carré… I’m not quite so confident about the Mina, but fingers crossed! Haha – I’m thrilled you’re planning to read so many of these – hope they give you as much pleasure as they gave me! 😀

  13. Well done, FF and I loved this round-up post! 😀 Sadly I had my worst year taking part in this challenge: only finishing 6 books off my list of 10. 😦 However I did read 10 books… just not necessarily off my list. I think I might need to start working on my next year’s list now to have a fighting chance of making it better than this year! Or be kind to myself and allow I few contingent options that can be swapped in.

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