#20BooksofSummer 2017

Not usually one who joins in with memes and the like I spotted this one devised by Cathy at 746Books and took part last year. You can see how I got on here.

Cathy is hoping to read 20 books between 1 June and 3 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 this challenge gives me the push I need. I’ve selected 15 books and I’m allowing myself 5 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. The trouble is, when I was scanning the TBR I found loads I wanted to read straight away.

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)…

1 Tin Man by Sarah Winman

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God Was A Rabbit and A Year Of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.

Read my review here.

2 The Faithful by Juliet West

As Britain is pulled towards war, the secrets within two families threaten to tear them apart, in the new novel from Juliet West, The Faithful . . .

July 1935. In the village of Aldwick on the Sussex coast, sixteen-year-old Hazel faces a long, dull summer with just her self-centred mother Francine for company. But then Francine decamps to London with her lover Charles, Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts arrive in Aldwick, and Hazel’s summer suddenly becomes more interesting. She finds herself befriended by two very different people: Lucia, an upper-class blackshirt, passionate about the cause; and Tom, a young working-class boy, increasingly scornful of Mosley’s rhetoric. In the end, though, it is Tom who wins Hazel’s heart – and Hazel who breaks his.

Autumn 1936. Now living in London, Hazel has grown up fast over the past year. But an encounter with Tom sends her into freefall. He must never know why she cut off all contact last summer, betraying the promises they’d made. Yet Hazel isn’t the only one with secrets. Nor is she the only one with reason to keep the two of them apart . . .

From the beaches of Sussex to the battlefields of civil war Spain, The Faithful is a rich and gripping tale of love, deception and desire.

3 Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.
Read more on the Penguin website.

4 A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde

Emily is happy with her life just as it is.

She has a career as a midwife that she loves . She enjoys living on her own as a single woman. But she’s also feels it’s time for a change and a spot of some sea air.

So when her best friend Rebecca asks whether she’d like to spend the summer cooking on a ‘puffer’ boat just off the Scottish coast, she jumps at the chance.

But she barely has time to get to grips with the galley before she finds herself with a lot on her plate.

Rebecca is heavily pregnant and is thrilled to have her friend on board doing most of the work. Then there’s Emily’s competitive and jealous kitchen assistant who thinks she should be head-cook, not Emily.

And there’s Alasdair, the handsome local doctor who Emily is desperately trying not to notice.

Because if she falls in love with him, as he appears to be falling for her, will she ever want her old life back again?
Read more on the Penguin website.

Read my review here.

5 The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent

A lonely novelist, A devoted fan, A journal that speaks of unspeakable things…

Author Vida Tremayne lies silent in a hospital bed. The forces which brought about her terrifying decline are shrouded in mystery. Meanwhile, her estranged daughter Dory is forced to abandon her fast paced city life to be by her mother’s bedside. Dory is resentful. She hates the country and she and her mother were never exactly close. Luckily Vida already has a carer, the enigmatic Rhiannon Townsend. A long-standing fan of Vida’s, Rhiannon is happy to take care of the bedside vigil. Dory is free to resume her life. Or is she? Then she discovers her mother’s journal. Vida’s chilling testament reveals the trigger for her spiralling into madness. It also reveals the danger that still lurks close by. A danger that will call on Dory’s every reserve of courage if she’s to free her mother, and maybe in doing so, to free herself.

6 Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day reign inside and outside the home, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, there is an island ritual that offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps to roam wild: they run, they fight, they sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. They are free.

It is at the end of one of these summers, as the first frost laces the ground, that one of the younger girls witnesses something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home, muddy and terrified, clutching in her small hand a truth that could unravel their carefully constructed island world forever.

7 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.

Then one day Mrs Palfrey strikes up an unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who sees her as inspiration for his novel.

8 An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?

She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Lind is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…

Read my review here.

9 The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

An irresistible mystery set in 1890s Edinburgh, Kaite Welsh’s THE WAGES OF SIN features a female medical student-turned-detective, and will thrill fans of Sarah Waters and Antonia Hodgson.

Sarah Gilchrist has fled from London to Edinburgh in disgrace and is determined to become a doctor, despite the misgivings of her family and society. As part of the University of Edinburgh’s first intake of female medical students, Sarah comes up against resistance from lecturers, her male contemporaries, and – perhaps worst of all – her fellow women, who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman…

When one of Sarah’s patients turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into Edinburgh’s dangerous underworld of bribery, brothels and body snatchers – and a confrontation with her own past.

Read my review here.

10 The Last Summer by Ricarda Huch

A psychological thriller by the pioneering German writer Ricarda Huch. A novel of letters from the last century – but one with an astonishingly modern feel. Now for the first time in English.

Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. To counter student unrest, the governor of St Petersburg closes the state university. Soon afterwards he arrives at his summer residence with his family and receives a death threat. His worried wife employs a young bodyguard, Lju, to protect her husband. Little does she know that Lju sides with the students – and the students are plotting an assassination.

Read my review here.

11 American Housewife by Helen Ellis

Meet the women of American Housewife…
They smoke their eyes and paint their lips. They channel Beyoncé while doing household chores. They drown their sorrows with Chanel No. 5 and host book clubs where chardonnay trumps Charles Dickens. They redecorate. And they are quietly capable of kidnapping, breaking and entering, and murder.
These women know the rules of a well-lived life: replace your tights every winter, listen to erotic audio books while you scrub the bathroom floor, serve what you want to eat at your dinner parties, and accept it: you’re too old to have more than one drink and sleep through the night.
Vicious, fresh and darkly hilarious, American Housewife is a collection of stories for anyone who has ever wondered what really goes on behind the façades of the housewives of America…

Read my review here.

12 Kill the Next One by Federico Axat

Ted has it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. That’s when the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: kill two deserving men before dying. The first is a criminal, and the second is, like Ted, terminally ill, and wants to die. If Ted kills these men he will then become a target himself in a kind of suicidal daisy chain—and won’t it be easier for his family if he’s a murder victim?

Kill the Next One is an audacious, immersive psychological thriller in which nothing is what it seems.

13 This Family of Things by Alison Jameson

On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

Read more on the Penguin website.

14 Siren by Annemarie Neary

Ireland, 2004

Róisín Burns has spent over twenty-five years living a lie.

Brian Lonergan, a rising politician, has used the time to reinvent himself.

But scandal is brewing around him, and Róisín knows the truth.

Lonergan stole her life as a young girl. And now she wants it back.

But he is still one step ahead …
Read more on the Penguin website.

15 Significance by Jo Mazelis

Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She’s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she’s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance.

Lucy’s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.


1. The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But, no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he’d always wanted to read. Books he’d said he’d read, when he hadn’t. Books that whispered the promise of escape from the 6.44 to London. And so, with the turn of a page, began a year of reading that was to transform Andy’s life completely.

This book is Andy’s inspirational and very funny account of his expedition through literature: classic, cult and everything in-between. Crack the spine of your unread ‘Middlemarch’, discover what ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Moby-Dick’ have in common (everything, surprisingly) and knock yourself out with a new-found enthusiasm for Tolstoy, Douglas Adams and ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’. ‘The Year of Reading Dangerously’ is a reader’s odyssey and it begins with opening this book…

Read my review here.

I also have three novels and one set of short stories that I have part read, so I’ll be finishing those as well.

What do you have planned on your summer TBR list? Do let me know if you are planning on joining in on #20BooksofSummer, even if you aren’t going to blog about it. And let me know which books you choose, simply because I’m nosy!


29 Comments Add yours

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Very difficult to balance planning with whim, I find. I won’t attempt it this year, although I did pretty well last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I failed completely last year. I think I did about 12 and that was with 10 wildcards. Let see how I get on this year!


  2. Such a varied list, Janet! I can vouch for Siren and Significance, both great reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Susan. Hopefully I’ll be able to get through them all. Some I’ve had waiting to read for a long time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure I could stand the pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I put enough pressure on myself with the amount of outstanding books I have to read. I figure this way I might actual get some read at the same time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know the feeling. I have been sent over 900 unsolicited copies and can never get through them all!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. janetemson says:

        Ah but you can have fun trying 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A Fantastic selection Janet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks, Kate. The difficulty was narrowing them down. Every time I came across a book I felt I had to read it straight away 🙂


  5. Sarah Swan says:

    Great choices! Good luck with your challenge x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I’m sure I’m doomed to fail but I’ll give it a go 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sarah Swan says:

        It’s worth a try 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you’re taking part again! Wildcard choices are a great idea, you know how flexible my rules are. Siren is an enjoyable read. I’ve seen Gather The Daughters on a few peoples lists and now I want to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I’m hoping it will kick start the reading again and so far it has, I’m 2 1/2 books down. Though I have read the shortest books first so I may run out of steam before the end of the three months. Hopefully someone will buy you Gather the Daughters then it doesn’t count towards the 746 🙂


  7. Brona says:

    I didn’t realise that Maile Meloy wrote adult fiction as well. Her junior fiction trilogy was great – you’ve got me intrigued now!

    Good luck with your #20books

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks! I’ve not read any of her junior fiction. I may have to after I’ve read Do Not Become Alarmed just so I can compare. I like your list of titles you’ve chosen. I’ve not read any of them but it looks like a great mix. Good luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Colletta says:

    I’m aiming to get 10 read! I’m fickle, also, so my list is very loose 🙂



    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I like the look of your list. I’ve not read any. I hope you enjoy them 🙂


  9. Peggy says:

    Lovely list! The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent is really calling to me! Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is delightful story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I’ve heard good things about both so thought this challenge was the perfect excuse to read them 🙂


  10. I’ve made a note of these Janet. All unknown titles to me.
    I failed miserably last year, mind you was in the middle of a house sale/move.
    Good luck with the challenge Janet.
    Will look forward to reading your reviews and see how you’re getting on.
    I might try a ten book one this year.

    Caryl x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Caryl. I think a ten book challenge would be good. To be honest I choose some short stories and novellas as a way of getting ahead. I think my pace will slow down as I start on the longer books!

      Good luck with yours, I’ll be interested to see your list of chosen books 🙂 x


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