20 Books of Summer 2020 – Wrap!

Beating the slump…

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

Given that I was in the midst of a major slump when the challenge began, the plan to read loads of short books turned out to be the perfect way to get back into the swing, and amazingly, for only the second time ever, I’ve actually 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 16 in full and abandoned four, of which I reviewed two and replaced two. There is no doubt that, although my reading quantity is more or less back to normal, I’m still not enjoying books with my usual enthusiasm, and the high number of abandonments and lower than usual ratings reflect that. Pesky plague!

I mostly stayed in Britain, but I had little trips to Italy, Japan, Tanzania, Havana, the US, Argentina and Paris! And then I topped it off by travelling completely Around the World in Eighty Days. Along the way I met up with detectives and murderers, sabotaged a German gunboat, spent time with the prostitutes of Elgin, fished for marlin, and dug for bones – phew! No wonder I’m shattered! I need a holiday to recover from my holidays!

Despite my relative lack of enthusiasm compared to previous years, the combined star total of the 20 that make up my final list is a respectable 75, or an average of 3.75 per book. Not too bad, eh?

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

The Lowlights

The Killer and the Slain and Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi were two of the abandoned books, but they annoyed me enough to inspire grumpy 1-star reviews. The dull Watergate satire, The Abbess of Crewe, scraped a miserly two, while the “humorous” vintage crime, Weekend at Thrackley, gained a retrospectively generous 2½.

* * * * *

The Middlelights

Only one in the three-star category this time around…

Thirst by Ken Kalfus

A variable selection of short stories in Kalfus’ first collection, but showing the promise he has since fulfilled in his more recent work.

* * * * *

The Uplights

A stonking ten books achieved 4-star ratings, meaning I liked and recommend them, but just didn’t quite love them. I’m certain that in another year and a better reading mood several of these would have got the full five…

Crossed Skis by Carol Carnac
The African Queen by CS Forester
The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham
The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses by Georges Simenon
The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
Sula by Toni Morrison
A Month in the Country by JL Carr

* * * * *

The Highlights

And that just leaves the final five books which achieved Five Glorious Glowing Golden Stars! I loved and highly recommend all of these – a nicely mixed bunch too! Here they are, in no particular order:

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Maigret and the Ghost by Georges Simenon
The Spoilt Kill by Mary Kelly
The White Bird Passes by Jessie Kesson
Silent Kill by Jane Casey

* * * * *

So, a mixed summer but with more good than bad! If… IF… I do this again next year, I must get off to an earlier start – I’ve spent the last couple of weeks frantically finishing books and writing rather sketchy reviews just hours before they’re due to be posted. Frazzled is the word that springs to mind! But now it’s all over, I’m feeling delightfully smug…

* * * * *

And finally..

The Book of the Summer


Around the World in Eighty Days

* * * * *

Thanks for joining me in my reading adventures! 😀

56 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 2020 – Wrap!

    • Aarghh, no more challenges!!! Not for a while anyway… 😉 Thank you – it was touch and go at the end. 😂 I hope you enjoy Around the World – I’m looking forward to reading more Verne, maybe in my next Classics Club list (aarghh!).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well done on meeting the challenge, FictionFan! I say that calls for a chocolate or two. I’m really glad you had more ‘ups’ than ‘downs’ with what you read, and some really fantastic reads in amongst it all. As for the mojo? When that happens to me, I always try to remind myself that it’s temporary (however long temporary turns out to be).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I fear I may have already eaten the entire world’s supply of chocolate speeding through these last few books! 😉 I’m glad I’m at least reading more again now, and hopefully a few good reads will bring my missing enthusiasm…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Felicitations and all that at what you’ve achieved! You know, I haven’t properly read the Verne but I do remember as a kid reading what would now be called the graphic novel of this in the Classics Illustrated series. You tempt me…

    I wonder how many other bloggers will have got to their target this year, bearing in mind the unusual circumstances we’re all experiencing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! Isn’t that a great cover? I’d love an illustrated version of it – some bits just cry out to be captured visually! It’s been a strange old year, and it’s annoying that so many of us have found reading difficult just at the moment when we suddenly have extra time and a desperate need to escape. This one was perfect to get my mind off the here and now for a while – hope you enjoy it, if you decide to go for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew you could do it, and I would say you are more than entitled to a bit of smugness, and chocolate of course. At least you enjoyed most of them over all, and are reaching some kind of reading normal again, even if you are still a bit fragile.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I must have eaten half the world’s chocolate supply already just to give me the energy to race through those last few books! 😉 Yes, it’s great to be reading more or less normally again, and hopefully my enthusiasm will get back to normal too soon. I hope you’re finding things a bit easier too? Although that second-spike cloud keeps hovering, sadly…


      • I’m kind of getting back to some kind of normality now too, but I would say it has only really been within the last two or three weeks that I have started to feel excited by reading again. Looking at my stats for the last two years though, my most productive reading times have been between around late August and mid February, so maybe that’s just my general pattern now.
        The rise in Covid up here again is sad, but unfortunately not unexpected. I’m just glad I don’t live in the Greater Glasgow area, neither do the rest of my family, so we are all still able to see each other.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, I’m just outside the Greater Glasgow zone too, so escape the new restrictions for the moment anyway. I’m glad reading is picking up for you – it’s been annoying not to feel properly able to escape into fiction when reality is so bleak. I’m not sure if I read more in winter, but I am looking forward to spooky season and digging out a few horror anthologies again. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, yes, that’s exactly what you should say! 😀 I must admit the last few books were a race – I never want to finish a book, review it and post it all in the same hour again… 😉


  4. So proud of you, FF — congrats on accomplishing your goal! With all the other challenges floating around, it’s not easy completing 20 in that time period, but you made it. Time for a celebratory cup of hot chocolate (or maybe a nice glass of wine if that’s more your preference!)

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The Japanese mystery you read remains one of my favourites, it may just make it onto my TBR one of these days! And good on ya for pushing through this, even when you’re not enjoying reading as you usually do. Will the return of colder weather help you think? When it gets colder outside I find my motivation to read typically improves…

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Japanese one is well worth reading – hope you enjoy it if you do get to it sometime! I’m not sure my reading is usually affected much by season, but I must admit I’m looking forward to spooky season, and digging out a few horror anthologies again!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done! I didn’t start on time the first year I did it and never quite caught up, so I was really pleased I got everything tucked in to the end of August this year. it’s taken me a million attempts, though. I hope the reading slump continues to ease.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You deserve to feel smug, a particularly impressive achievement given the circumstances 👏👏 😄 I hope you’re taking plenty of rest, lots of fluids and copious quantities of chocolate to aid your recovery now. Hard work, summer …. 😆

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! So true – I’m utterly shattered by doing all these speed reviews at the end! 😂 It made me feel like I was doing all-nighters before exams again. I prefer a more leisurely pace to life and blogging these days… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think you have a lot to be smug about – Well done, FF! I only read 6 of my 10 books, but one was Wolf Hall, so as you said, probably worth what four books?! 😉 Also so pleased Around the World in Eighty Days was your favourite read. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

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