20 books of Summer

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Not usually one who joins in with memes and the like I spotted this one devised by Cathy at 746Books. Cathy is hoping to read 20 books between 1 June and 5 September, meaning she has the mammoth task of reading about 7 books a month. You can read about the challenge on Cathy’s excellent blog here.

I think I’m doomed to failure before I start but I need to make a dent in the TBR and thought that this challenge would give me the push I need. I’ve selected 10 books and I’m allowing myself 10 wildcards so that I can chose my read as my fickle taste dictates. I’m not sure if this is allowed but I’ve learnt that I need to have flexibility in what I’m reading; I need to be able to go where my reading taste takes me, otherwise I find I resent the book I’m trying to plough through. I’ve aimed for a mix of genres, length and topic in my choices. Some are books I’ve agreed to review or are future releases, others simply because they caught my eye when I was scanning the TBR.

I’ll be reviewing all of the books I manage to read and I’ll be using the 20 books of Summer logo picture on each one. I’ll also link back to my reviews on here so I can keep track of how many I have read.

Here’s what I’ve picked (I’ll add the wildcard reads as I pick them)…

 

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Her Father’s Daughter by Marie Sizun

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“A little girl lives happily with her mother in war-torn Paris. She has never met her father, a prisoner of war in Germany. But then he returns and her mother switches her devotion to her husband. The girl realizes that she must win over her father to recover her position in the family. She confides a secret that will change their lives.”

Read my review here.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

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“On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.”

The Dog Who Dared to Dream by Sun Mi Hwang

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“This is the story of a dog named Scraggly. Born an outsider because of her distinctive appearance, she spends most of her days in the sun-filled yard of her owner’s house. Scraggly has dreams and aspirations just like the rest of us. But each winter, dark clouds descend and Scraggly is faced with challenges that she must overcome. Through the clouds and even beyond the gates of her owner’s yard lies the possibility of friendship, motherhood and happiness – they are for the taking if Scraggly can just hold on to them, bring them home and build the life she so desperately desires.

The Dog Who Dared to Dream is a wise tale of the relationship between dog and man, as well as a celebration of a life lived with courage. Translated into English for the first time, it is a classic from Sun-mi Hwang, an international bestselling author.”

Read my review here.

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins

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“A thousand miles east of Mirgorod, the great capital city of the Vlast, deep in the ancient forest, lies the most recent fallen angel, its vast stone form half-buried and fused into the rock by the violence of impact. As its dark energy leeches into the crash site, so a circle of death expands around it, slowly – inexorably – killing everything it touches. Alone in the wilderness, it reaches out with its mind.

The endless forest and its antique folk lore are no concern to Inspector Vissarion Lom, summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist – and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown terrorism with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head at the children’s home.

Lom’s investigation reveals a conspiracy that extends to the top echelons of the party. When he exposes who – or rather what – is the controlling intelligence behind this, it is time for the detective to change sides. Pursued by rogue police agents and their man-crushing mudjhik, Lom must protect Kantor’s step-daughter Maroussia, who has discovered what is hidden beneath police headquarters: a secret so ancient that only the forest remembers. As they try to escape the capital and flee down river, elemental forces are gathering. The earth itself is on the move.”

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

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“Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola’s THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.

‘With this intricately woven tale of trust, self-trust and deceit, Anna Mazzola brings a gritty realism to Victorian London. Beautifully written and cleverly plotted, this is a stunning debut, ranked amongst the best’ MANDA SCOTT

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?”

Read my review here.

The Wrong Girl by David Hewson

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“Sinterklaas, a beaming, friendly saint with a white beard, was set to mark his arrival in Amsterdam with a parade so celebrated it would be watched live on television throughout the Netherlands. Today the crowds would run into three hundred thousand or more, and the police presence would top four figures. The city centre was closed to all traffic as a golden barge bore Sinterklaas down the Amstel river, surrounded by a throng of private boats full of families trying to get close.’

Amsterdam is bursting at the seams with children trying to get a glimpse of their hero and families enjoying the occasion. The police are out in force, struggling to manage the crowds on one of the busiest days of the year.

Brigadier Pieter Vos is on duty with his young assistant, Laura Bakker, when the first grenade hits. As Sinterklaas prepares to address the crowds, a terrorist incident grips the heart of the city. In the chaos a young girl wearing a pink jacket is kidnapped.

But the abducted child isn’t the daughter of an Amsterdam aristocrat as the terrorists first thought. She’s the daughter of an impoverished Georgian prostitute, friendless and trapped in the web of vice that is Amsterdam’s Red Light District. As the security forces and the police clash over the ensuing investigation, the perpetrator’s horrifying demands become clear. Vos, trapped in a turf war with state intelligence, tries to unravel a conspiracy that reaches from the brothels of the city to the hierarchy of the security services. And at its heart lies an eight-year-old girl, snatched from a loving mother and then ferried from one criminal lair to the next. Her life in the balance as Vos and Laura Bakker struggle to uncover the shocking truth behind her abduction. What is the life of one immigrant child worth in the greater political game emerging around them?”

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrick Backman

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“The number 1 European bestseller by the author of New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon A Man Called Ove, Britt-Marie was Here is a funny, poignant and uplifting tale of love, community, and second chances.

For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It’s not that she’s judgemental, or fussy, or difficult – she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We’re not animals, are we?

But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.

So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg – of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it – and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she’s ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.”

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

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“When lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind.

But then she meets Joe. A convicted murderer who reminds Lily of someone she once knew, and who she becomes obsessed with freeing.

But is he really innocent?”

The Butcher Bird by SD Sykes

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“Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. The Black Death changed many things, and just as it took away his father and elder brothers, leaving Oswald to be recalled from the monastery where he expected to spend his life, so it has taken many of his villagers and servants. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more – something the King himself has forbidden.

Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear.

Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumour, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.

From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald’s journey is full of danger, dark intrigue and shocking revelations.”

You can read my review here.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield

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“The Bennet sisters have been summoned from New York City.

Liz and Jane are good daughters. They’ve come home to suburban Cincinnati to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, to tidy up the crumbling Tudor-style family home, and to wrench their three sisters from their various states of arrested development.

Once they are under the same roof, old patterns return fast. Soon enough they are being berated for their single status, their only respite the early morning runs they escape on together. For two successful women in their late thirties, it really is too much to bear. That is, until the Lucas family’s BBQ throws them in the way of some eligible single men . . .

Chip Bingley is not only a charming doctor, he’s a reality TV star too. But Chip’s friend, haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, can barely stomach Cincinnati or its inhabitants. Jane is entranced by Chip; Liz, sceptical of Darcy. As Liz is consumed by her father’s mounting medical bills, her wayward sisters and Cousin Willie trying to stick his tongue down her throat, it isn’t only the local chilli that will leave a bad aftertaste.

But where there are hearts that beat and mothers that push, the mysterious course of love will resolve itself in the most entertaining and unlikely of ways. And from the hand of Curtis Sittenfeld, Pride & Prejudice is catapulted into our modern world singing out with hilarity and truth.”

Read my review here.

Wildcard reads

Death of a Diva by Derek Farrell

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“Danny Bird is having a very bad day. In the space of just a few hours he lost his job, his partner and his home. 

Ever the optimist, Danny throws himself headlong into his dream to turn the grimmest pub in London into the coolest nightspot south of the river. Sadly, everything doesn’t go quite as planned when his star turn is found strangled hours before opening night. 

Danny becomes the prime suspect in the crime, and then the gangster who really owns the pub starts asking where his share of the takings has gone… it seems things are going to get worse for Danny before they get better. “

Read my review here.

The Museum of You by Carys Bray

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“Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.”

Read my review here.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

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“From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, Unravelling Oliver

‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …

This is a dark, twisty and utterly gripping domestic noir that you won’t be able to put down from the author hailed as Ireland’s answer to Gillian Flynn.”

Read my review here.

Wrote for Luck by DJ Taylor

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“Wrote For Luck ranges from North Norfolk to Chicago, from sordid old antique dealers to glamorous young writers, from glorious local gossips to frustrated academics.These stories abound with gleeful absurdity, waspish humour, and awkward, exquisitely English conversations. But they are also rich in melancholy and the heady sadness of people struggling to find a place in the world. Some are fascinatingly strange; others are uncomfortably familiar. Some are simply hilarious – and all are touchingly human.”

Read my review here.

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

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“‘Intelligently written, finely observed and surprisingly moving, this is a book you’ll find hard to put down’ Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project

Companions come in all shapes and sizes.
Companionship lasts forever.

Lily and the Octopus is a novel about finding that special someone to share your life with.
For Ted Flask, that someone is Lily, and she happens to be a dog.
This novel reminds us how to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

Reminiscent of The Life of Pi and The Art of Racing in the Rain, with spins into magic realism and beautifully evoked universal truths of love, loyalty and loss, a hilariously sardonic and not altogether reliable narrator, and one unforgettable hound who simple wisdom will break your heart and put it back together again, Lily and the Octopus captures the search for meaning in death and introduces a dazzling new voice in fiction.”

You can read my review here.

An Octopus in my Ouzo by Jennifer Barclay

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“Escape to the sunlight and colour of a wild island in the south Aegean.

When Jennifer moves alone into the Honey Factory on a tiny Greek island, bringing a laptop, her hiking boots and plans for a peaceful life, she has no idea what surprises are in store.

Diving into an exciting new life with a fisherman, she learns something every day. Joining the dancing at local festivals and helping at a café on the beach, surviving winter storms and finding a canine companion, she is faced with both challenges and rewards, and discovers that to become an island woman she must live small and think big.”

Read my review here.

Last Light by C.J. Lyons

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“A brutally murdered family… a wronged man in prison

From bestselling author CJ Lyons comes a new, standalone Lucy Guardino series. For fans of Lisa Gardner, Angela Marsons and Helen H. Durrant

“Everything a great thriller should be–action packed, authentic, and intense.” ~#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

1987: Lily Martin is horrifically murdered along with her young child in Texas.

Today: Life should be easy after leaving the FBI –  but not if you’re detective Lucy Guardino. Lucy has always seen herself as a normal mum who happened to have a job chasing the worst of the worst. But after a violent predator targets her family and she’s injured, Lucy sacrifices her career at the Bureau.

She joins the Beacon Group, a firm that specializes in cold cases and brings justice to forgotten victims. Lucy fears she’s traded the elite for shepherding a team of amateurs.

Her fears appear justified when she’s partnered with TK O’Connor, an army veteran struggling with her transition to ordinary life. They are sent to rural Texas to investigate a case that’s already been closed with the killers behind bars for twenty-nine years.

But who really killed Lily Martin and her infant daughter? Why was an entire family targeted for annihilation? What price will Lucy pay when she fights to expose a truth people will kill to keep buried?

Last Light is the start of a Lucy Guardino series which can be read on it’s own. If you enjoy captivating suspense, intelligent storytelling, strong and vulnerable characters, and a freight-train pace, then you’ll love this adrenaline rush of a heart-pounding thriller.

You can read my review here.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

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“Prepare for the cleverest, most addictive thriller you will read this year. This is the story of the ill-fated Jack Sparks – a man who plays with fire, and pays the price . . .

THE MOST CHILLING AND UNPREDICTABLE THRILLER OF THE YEAR.

Jack Sparks died while writing this book.

It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed.

Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now.”

Read my review here.

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

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“Mrs Laetitia Rodd is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon, living modestly in Hampstead with her landlady Mrs Bentley. She is also a private detective of the utmost discretion. In winter 1850, her brother Frederick, a criminal barrister, introduces her to Sir James Calderstone, a wealthy and powerful industrialist who asks Mrs Rodd to investigate the background of an ‘unsuitable’ woman his son intends to marry – a match he is determined to prevent. In the guise of governess, she travels to the family seat, Wishtide, deep in the frozen Lincolnshire countryside, where she soon discovers that the Calderstones have more to hide than most. As their secrets unfold, the case takes an unpleasant turn when a man is found dead outside a tavern. Mrs Rodd’s keen eyes and astute wits are taxed as never before in her search for the truth – which carries her from elite drawing rooms to London’s notorious inns and its steaming laundry houses. Dickensian in its scope and characters, The Secrets of Wishtide brings nineteenth century society vividly to life and illuminates the effect of Victorian morality on women’s lives. Introducing an irresistible new detective, the first book in the Laetitia Rodd Mystery series will enthral and delight.”

Read my review here.

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

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“Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.

What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . .’

Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live . . .

Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited . . . until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer?

When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?

Following the phenomenal global success of The Monogram Murders, which was published to critical acclaim following a co-ordinated international launch in September 2014, international best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to pen a second fully-authorised Poirot novel. The new book marks the centenary of the creation of Christie’s world-famous detective Hercule Poirot, introduced in her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles.”

Read my review here.

Do let me know if you can think of any books I should use my wildcards on, and if you are taking part.

 

 

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. So delighted that you are taking part Janet – don’t worry, I’m flexible when it comes to rules (to say the least!) so if you want to swap or change books mid-challenge, feel free! I won My Father’s Daughter so I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Phew, I’m glad I’m not breaking any rules 🙂 I’m looking forward to starting now. What a great idea you’ve created 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rules shmules 🙂
        I just hope I can manage to complete my own challenge!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    You are a very smart cookie indeed, Janet, allowing yourself some wildcards! I wish I’d thought of that!
    I haven’t read any of the ones you have selected, but have heard good things about the Peirene release, My Husband’s Wife and Britt-Marie was here (the latter being a feelgood book, far far removed from my usual fare, but maybe I should include more such books in my reading, goodness knows, life is not all that pleasant at times, we could all do with some distraction).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Some may say smart, others may say cheat 🙂 I’ve tried to have a selection so hopefully I’ve achieved that. I know what you mean about feel good reads. The world is often a sad enough place as it is, it’s therefore nice sometimes to escape from it for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone gets on with the challenge 🙂

      Like

  3. Good luck, Janet, and smart move not to show your entire hand all at once!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Susan. Not sure about smart 🙂 I just know that I can be fickle when it comes to what I feel like reading so I needed a get out clause!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great selection Janet – The Butcher’s Byrd is in my shelf too – maybe it’ll go in my second set…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Cleo, I’ll be interested to see what you make of your selection, and to see if The Butcher Bird makes it to your second set 🙂

      Like

  5. sarah says:

    You’ve got some crackers lined up Janet. ‘The Unseeing’ Anna Mazzola is on my must-read soon list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Sarah. I’m looking forward to reading The Unseeing but I’ve had to save it as I read through my June release reads. Not long before I can get to it now 🙂

      Like

  6. louloureads says:

    Good list! I’m not that familiar with any of these books, but I really liked The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang, and I keep hearing great things about Eligible as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I’ve tried to go for a varied selection to keep the momentum going. I’ve not read The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly but if I like The Dog Who Dared to Dream it may have to go on the TBR 🙂

      Like

  7. Aoife says:

    I’ve heard so much about The Little Paris Bookshop and My Husband’s Wife. I really need to get copies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Both have been on my TBR for a while so I thought it would be a could excuse to prioritise both. I hope you like them if you get to read them. I’ll keep an eye out for your reviews 🙂

      Like

  8. Like you I’m not usually enticed by reading challenges, but glad we have both decided to become in with the in crowd for this! Good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      And what a great selections you and your mum have made. Good luck to you too, I’m looking forward to seeing what you make of your selection 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Kate W says:

    Great choices! I was tempted to include Eligible in my list but wondered if I’d be putting myself under pressure (because it’s a longish book).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks 🙂 I had thought that, then thought I may be cheating by putting a few relatively short books on. I’ll probably keep Eligible until near the end then I know how fast I have to read to finish it in time 🙂

      Like

  10. FictionFan says:

    Great list! What I love about this challenge is that everyone reads such different stuff – so many reviews to look forward too. And so much temptation… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. And very true about the temptation part. I’m looking forward to see the lists of everyone taking part and to see how they get on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Brona says:

    I’ve heard about the Dog Who Dared to Dream – I’ll be curious to see what you think.

    Good luck with your summer reading – the trying is the fun part 🙂

    Like

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you, and you are right, the fun part is in the trying. I’ll be reviewing The Dog Who Dared to Dream, hopefully, if I finish the challenge 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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