10 Books of Summer: Challenge Over

Cathy at Cathy 746 Books has an annual challenge, 20 Books of Summer, which ends today, 3 September 2017. I included e-books as well as paper books.

As I’m very good at listing the books I want to read and very bad at sticking to the list I went for the 10 book option, but even so I didn’t read all 10! I read 8 of the 10 books.

I read:

Here are my thoughts on the books I read. I enjoyed some more than others.

They’re all novels except for Long Road From Jarrow by Stuart Maconie, in which he describes how he retraced the route the Jarrow marchers took in 1936 and compared what Britain was like then compared to the Britain of today. It’s a mix of travel writing, social and cultural history and political commentary, with the main emphasis on the current social, cultural and political scene. I thought it was fascinating, thought-provoking and most entertaining.

The novels in A-Z order by author:

Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft -a story of love, secrets and betrayal. I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the historical setting – Alexandria at the end of the 19th century when Egypt was under British rule. Basically it’s romance and I’d hoped for more historical content. So, not a great success.

Miraculous Mysteries edited by Martin Edward – Locked-Room Murders And Impossible Crimes. There are sixteen stories in the collection. Martin Edwards has prefaced each one with a brief biographical note, which I found useful as some of the authors were new to me. I’m not a big fan of short stories, often finding them disappointing. So I’m glad to say that I enjoyed this anthology.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig –  a story of love and loss and living in the moment. This book caught my imagination right from the start and I read it quite quickly, enjoying the trips through time. Tom Hazard’s condition means that he ages much slower than other people and he’s been alive for centuries. He tells his life story in flashbacks, switching back and forth in time between the present day and the past. I really enjoyed it.

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah – a suspense novel, but not one I found particularly gripping. Melody was seven when she disappeared and although her body had not been discovered her parents were tried and found guilty of murdering her. Then people report seeing her and as the details of what happened to her are gradually revealed the book picked up and I was keen to find out the truth. But I thought it was far-fetched, contrived and over complicated. And then in the last few pages I found something that really did send a little shiver down my spine – and left me wondering just what had really happened to Melody, and what would happen next.

Present Tense by W H S McIntyre – crime fiction with an edge of dark humour. Criminal lawyer Robbie Munro is based in Linlithgow and deals mainly with Scottish Legal Aid cases. He gets caught up in the mystery of what was in the box Billy Paris, ex-military had left with him.  It’s a legal drama, a tense and complicated mystery, combined with details of Robbie’s personal life and another book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The One that Got Away by Annabel Kantaria, a story of loss and betrayal – I finished this a few days ago and haven’t reviewed it yet. It’s about Stella and George who meet at a school reunion. They last saw each other fifteen years – and they discover that there is still a spark between them. I’m still thinking about the book and will write about soon.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy – at once a love story and a provocation-a novel as inventive as it is emotionally engaging. Overall I found this a difficult book to read, good in parts only. In the middle section I was mainly bewildered. It is a heart breaking book about love and loss – and it doesn’t spare the details

The books I didn’t get round to reading are:

  • The King in the North by Max Adams – the life and times of Oswald of Northumbria in the 7th century
  • Mister Pip by Ernest Jones – a story within a story and a fable

8 thoughts on “10 Books of Summer: Challenge Over”

  1. I think you did very well indeed on this. I’ve been hearing a lot about How to Stop Time, all of it good, so I’ll be reading that when I can get hold of a copy.

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      1. I don’t think so, to be honest. I’m trying to keep my challenges down to a manageable level this year but I may read a few RIP type books anyway, we’ll see. Also with Peter’s op happening on the 15th. I can’t commit to reading anything for a few weeks after that.

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        1. I’ve decided I won’t be taking part this year – like you I’ve not been entering many challenges this year. Most of the books I read are mysteries/suspense novels anyway. 🙂

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  2. I’m interested in what you say about the Roy novel. I have read so many different, but often uncertain, opinions about the book that I’m not sure whether to try it or not. I wasn’t that enamoured with ‘The God of Small Things’. I suspect it will turn up on one of my book group lists soon enough and then I will have to find out for myself how good it is.

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    1. It’s such a long book, so unless you’re really tempted I wouldn’t bother. Maybe if you could get a library copy you could flick through it to see what you think. I enjoyed ‘The God of Small Things’ years ago but struggled with this one. My review – such as it is – is here

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