20 Books of Summer Wrap Up

It’s the 31st of August so time to wrap up 20 books of Summer. 20 books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ and is a very free and easy challenge that took place over June, July and August.

I actually read way more than 20 books over the past three months but part of my 20 books challenge was to read some books that I wouldn’t normally read and I did succeed in doing that. Some of them were brilliant books, others I didn’t enjoy so much but it’s always good to branch out I think.

The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow
This was an excellent read. I loved the early part of the book which looked at the same period as Pride and Prejudice but from Mary’s point of view. I wasn’t so sure when the book followed Mary’s life after the death of her father but then I did get into the story and I really enjoyed it. This is definitely the best of the ‘sequels’ to Pride and Prejudice that I have read

The World is a Cul de Sac by Louise Kennedy
The title of this one appealed when I got it out of the library but I hadn’t spotted that it was a collection of short stories. I read a couple of them but then didn’t finish the book. I don’t generally enjoy short stories as there isn’t enough plot or character development to keep me interested.

Midnight at the Malabar Hotel by Vaseem Khan
I loved this crime mystery novel about the first female detective in post partition India.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This was a very dark book about the fear of witchcraft in the 17th century. I’m actually not sure if I enjoyed it or not.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This was a bit disappointing and I didn’t enjoy as much as I expected to. Science fiction is always a fine balance between the Science and the Fiction and this one just had too much scientific information. I enjoyed the story but found myself skipping over pages.

And that was my 20 books of Summer 2021. Thank you to Cathy for the challenge. Did everyone else manage to read their 20 books?


20 Books of Summer – Nearly there

We’re half way through August and so there are only 2 weeks to go before the end of the 20 Books of Summer challenge hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ . I’m still on holiday and really enjoying being able to read without being too tired to take in what I’m reading.

Out of the 10 books on my list for this month, I have read 5 of them and so I’m well on schedule to finish the challenge.

Map’s Edge is the first in a new fantasy series by David Hare. I loved his previous series, The Moontide and the Sunsurge quartets and this was a good start to a new series. A whole community takes to the road to travel to an unexplored part of the country in the hope of discovering a precious mineral which will make their fortunes. The community is full of interesting characters with tensions between them as well the pursuit of the group by the occupying empire’s forces. This was a great first book in a series and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

Cecily is the story of the life of Cecily Neville, the mother of Richard 111. She was a strong character who influenced events in the early years of the Wars of the Roses in the fourteenth and fifteenth. This was a great fictionalised account of her life and really showed how women could influence things behind the scenes .

Both Cecily and Map’s Edge were read courtesy of Net Galley and the publishers.

The Smoke Thieves was given to me by my daughter and is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy. I enjoyed this more than I expected. The characters are engaging and while there is nothing really new in the setting or events, the book is well written and I’m looking forward to reading the next two.

The Salt Path was also given to me by my daughter. This is based on the true story of a couple who lose everything and end up walking the South west coast path rather than become homeless. It’s an amazing story detailing their hardships and joys as they walked the path. I really enjoyed reading this and it certainly made me think about our attitudes to people who are homeless.

The Vanishing Half was given to me as a birthday present. It’s the story of a identical twin girls who leave their home town in America to find a better life out in the world but one of the twins disappears without a trace. The story is set in 1968 and 1978 and covers the issues of segregation, racism and identity as well as being a good story. It definitely made me think about how someone could just start their life again as a completely new person with no ties to their previous existence. I don’t think that I could do it.

So I have now read 15 out of my original 20 (as well as all the other books that I have managed to squeeze in. Just 5 to go. How’s your Summer reading going?

Cecily – a review

I love all historical fiction written around the Wars of the Roses. Two of my most read books are Anya Seton’s Katherine and Sharon Penman’s Sunne in Splendour. Now comes Annie Garthwaite to fill the gap between those two great historical novels.

Cecily tells the story of Cecily Neville who played an influential role in the beginning of the War between the rival families of York and Lancaster. The story begins with her witnessing the burning of Joan of Arc in Rouen as the young wife of Richard, Duke of York and takes us right through to the crowning of her son as Edward IV.

The story isn’t as emotionally gripping as the two earlier novels but Cecily isn’t that type of character. She’s proud, hot tempered, ambitious and pushes her husband to fight for what she feels is his rightful place. We see the couple at odds when her ambition comes between them but they always reconcile before long. Although this isn’t by any means a romance, the love between Cecily and Richard is a strong part of the story.

This is the story of two strong female characters, Cecily on one side and the Queen on the other. It is sometimes easy to overlook the role that women played in important events. The author makes if very clear that the role of women is very different to that of men but still a vital part of how politics was conducted at that time.

I loved this book and am sure that anyone who has an interest in this period or historical fiction will love it too. The only thing I wanted was an appendix to let us know what happened next. I had to resort to Wikipedia to find out that Cecily lived on for many years to see the founding of the Tudor Dynasty.

This is book 11 of my #20booksofsummer and I read it thanks to Net Galley and the publishers, Viking, in exchange for an honest review.

20 Books of Summer August edition

20 books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ It’s a really free and easy challenge where you don’t have to read 20 books at all, it can be 15 or 10 or whatever. As I’m on holiday now, I have so much more time for reading and I’m trying to get around to reading some of the things that I have always intended to but not got around to.

I split my 20 books into 2 lots of 5 leaving 10 for August. My July choices were:

I didn’t manage to read Project Hail Mary as it didn’t arrive from the library until this week so I substituted another Science Fiction novel instead.

KIngs of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart

Kings of a Dead World – I loved this dystopian novel about life in London in the not too distant future. To save Earth’s dwinding resources, people are put into an extended sleep for much of the year. The story is told from the viewpoint of one of the sleepers and a janitor, whose job it is to look after the sleepers. You also get the back story of how the situation was arrived at. The three parts of the story were great and came together brilliantly at the end

Great Expectations – Finally read and finished. I enjoyed it more than I expected. There were some paragraphs that really stayed with me. Definitely best read in small chunks though.

Children of Blood and Bone – I enjoyed this. It was nice to read a fantasy novel with a non traditional setting

The Survivors – I loved this. It was just as good as all of Jane Harper’s previous novels. It was an absorbing mystery and the coastal setting was incredibly well described.

The Drowned City – When I picked this up, the cover and title made me expect a fantasy book. However, it was historical mystery set in Bristol in 1606, just after the gunpowder plot. I really enjoyed this and hope that there will be more books featuring Daniel Pursglove.

That now leaves me books to read during August. That won’t be difficult as I will definitely read more books than that. However, my aim for 20 Books of Summer is to try and read a wider range of books as I am very inclined to stick to my comfort zone of fantasy and crime fiction. There will be some of those in my next books but mainly other types of books.

My July books were all brilliant so I’m hoping that my August choices will be as good. I’ll keep you posted.

20 Books of Summer – June/July

20 books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ It’s a really free and easy challenge where you don’t have to read 20 books at all, it can be 15 or 10 or whatever. As I’m retiring this July, I’m anticipating having more time for reading and maybe getting around to reading some of the things that I have always intended to but not got around to.

The five books above were my choices of books to read in June. My intention was to try and read more classic fiction over this Summer. However, that didn’t exactly work as I didn’t even open Great Expectations. Instead, I read Zadie Smith’s On Beauty which probably counts as a classic.

I didn’t find this to be a gripping read. I was interested in the characters and their situations but never really felt that I cared about any of them particularly.

Strawberry Thief – When I bought this, I didn’t realise that it was effectively the fourth part in a series. I have read Chocolat years ago but didn’t remember much of the detail. This was an OK read but certainly wouldn’t rush out to read any others.

Ninth House – I knew that this was going to be very different to her YA books and it certainly was. It has more in common with series such as The Dresden files. It took me a while to get into it, in fact, I had to go back and restart it as I was getting lost. Probably my own fault for trying to start a new book at 9 o clock on a Saturday night after several glasses of wine. Once I had got into it properly the next day, I did enjoy it and will certainly look out for the next one.

Dancer – Another disappointment. I didn’t really enjoy this. The early parts about WWII in Russia were quite harrowing and although I liked reading the story of Nureyev’s early life, the later parts were less enjoyable.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde – I did enjoy this one and like how the author frames the past events inside the present.

They were my first 5 books out of the 20 and so now I need to choose the next 5 for July. Happily, the library is now doing reservations again so I can reserve the books that I want to read rather than buy them or just wait for them to appear on the shelves. My next 5 books are all currently sitting on my reservation list and two of them are apparently in transit to my local library branch. Well, 4 out of 5. I’ve put Great Expectations in there again and will try to at least start it in July.

I’m hoping that this month’s books work out better than June’s choices.

20 Books of Summer

20 books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ It’s a really free and easy challenge where you don’t have to read 20 books at all, it can be 15 or 10 or whatever. As I’m retiring this July, I’m anticipating having more time for reading and maybe getting around to reading some of the things that I have always intended to but not got around to.

I haven’t got a clue what books I might be reading in August though so I’m going to begin by posting 5 books for June. Hopefully no-one will mind. My aim is to post 5 more in July and 10 in August when I will be a lady of leisure!

Here are my first 5 choices for this challenge.:

Great Expectations – My aim is to try and read one classic book each month. I have had Great Expectations on the shelf for years but never got around to it. This year will be the year I actually read it.

Ninth House – I loved her Grishaverse novels especially Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. This one sounds very different but it was the first book I saw as I entered the library so had to read it.

Dancer – An acoount of the life of Rudolph Nureyev. I’ve just read Zoli by the same author which I really enjoyed so am looking forward to this one.

The vanishing of audrey wilde- I really liked The Glass House which I read last month so had to buy this when it was on Kindle for only 99p.

The Strawberry Thief – I’ve had this to read for a couple of months but not read it yet.

These are my first 5 books for 20 books of Summer. Let me know what you think about these. Has anyone actually read Great Expectations?