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2023 - Book Challenge - Second thread

(351 Posts)
TerriBull Fri 18-Aug-23 08:55:28

Welcome fellow readers to the new thread. This is a first for our book reading community, spilling over on to a subsequent thread.

Do keep reading and posting.

Calendargirl Sat 30-Dec-23 10:13:13

This will be my last book of the year, I think. Haven’t started it yet. Very controversial it seems.

#65. Endgame by Omid Scobie.

Maggiemaybe Sat 30-Dec-23 10:33:13

56. The Christmas Murder Game, Alexandra Benedict

This one was just a bit of fun for Christmas. It’s very different, and quite cleverly written in some ways, based on a family all gathering at their family mansion to take part in the annual Christmas game, but this time the prize will be the deeds to the house. It has lots of riddles, anagrams and puzzles to solve, woven into the story. However, the plot is as daft as they come and there are murder victims piling up in the ice house (obviously they can’t get in touch with the police straight after the first one because it would mean one of these young fit folk attempting a 10 mile walk in snow to the nearest town… grin).

I enjoyed it though, and it’ll probably be my last of the year.

Greyduster Sat 30-Dec-23 10:55:01

I am just finishing The Mirror and The Light, the last of the Wolf Hall trilogy. I’ ve reread them all this year and enjoyed them even more. I had a pile of new books for Christmas, so I hope there will be another Book Challenge in 2024 and that I can give more time and attention to it. Thankyou, Terribull and Happy New Year to you all!

Sparklefizz Sat 30-Dec-23 11:09:04

Greyduster I love the Wolf Hall trilogy and have read them all twice. I may give them another go next year. Fabulous writing.

Thank you TerriBull for this thread. Please continue it next year as it's been great to read people's views on books and find new authors.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Sara1954 Sat 30-Dec-23 11:16:04

I have bought it, but not read it yet, I’ll be interested in your opinion of it

TerriBull Sat 30-Dec-23 11:22:18

I have been reading in a very lacklustre way, Covid cough, early to bed and not a lot of reading. These are my last for the year

68 The Seduction - Joanna Briscoe

Saw this one at the library, and on the basis I'd read a couple of her books before decided to give it a go.The premise, the main character, Beth is under a clinical psychologist for abandonment issues when her own mother walked out on her and how she feels about her own daughter who has reached the same age on the cusp of teens, and to her dismay feels the inevitable growing apart that often occurs around that age. It's quite a convoluted tale about the dynamics of her marriage and relationship with her only child. Along the way, we learn Dr Tamara Bywaters, slowly over steps her professional exterior revealing the narcissist within who flouts the barriers that should be in place between patient and doctor when exploiting Beth to create a dependent relationship threatening both her patient's marriage and further damaging her already fragile relationship with her daughter. It was okish.

69 The Blood Doctor - Barbara Vine (Audible)

I was really pleased to find Audible carries quite a large back catalogue of many of Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell's book credit free. This was a book I'd read 20 or so years ago and whilst not one of her most popular, I really liked it.

Set around the early 2000s, the main character, Martin Lord Nanther is researching a biography of his great grandfather who was a physician to Queen Victoria and a specialist in haemophilia, hence the title of the book. There are amongst his letters and notebooks some skeletons in his cupboard and we discover that rogue gene that affected the royal family is also present in his own family tree hence his vested interest in the subject. Running parallel to family weaknesses of the past is Martin's beloved wife's miscarriages and her inability to carry a child to term and the reasons behind that. All this is set against the fact that Martin a life peer, elevated to that status by virtue of the fact that the illustrious great grandfather was created a Lord by Queen Victoria, but now to his dismay Martin is one of those who are about to lose the voting rights of hereditary peers.

It's a complex and multi- layered story, as Vine/Rendell plots often are, I think possibly enjoyed more by those who like raking around in the vast cupboard of genealogy and what that Pandora's Box can sometimes throw up.

Well that's me done for 2023

TerriBull Sat 30-Dec-23 13:03:24

I know this isn't for everyone, but in the spirit of the MN, 50 Books Thread where there is a tendency to list, here are mine, I quite enjoy looking back at my highlights. Feel free to put lists up if you feel so inclined. My best ones are highlighted.

1 It Ends At Midnight Harriet Tyce
2 Jew Don't Count David Baddiel
3 The Pact Sharron Bolton
4 House of Glass Hadley Freeman
5 Booth Karen Joy Fowler
6 Fatherland Robert Harris
7 Reckless William Nicholson
8 The Rising Tide Ann Cleeves
9 Picture You Dead Peter James
10 The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels Janice Hallet
11 Munich Robert Harris
12 The Last Remains Elly Griffiths
13 The Strangers Child Alan Hollinghurst
14 Demon Copperhead Barbara Kingsolver
15 The Only Suspect Louise Candlish
16 The Last To Disappear Jo Spain
17 A Fatal Inversion Ruth Rendell
18 Cleopatra and Frankenstein Coco Mellors
19 Brixton Hill Lottie Moggach
20 A Stranger City Linda Grant
21 Restless William Boyd
22 Hungry Grace Dent
23 The Lost Child Julie Myerson
24 Raven Black Ann Cleeves
25 Wrong Place, Wrong Time Gillian McAllister
26 Place Of Execution Val McDermid
27 Little Things Like These Clare Keegan
28 One, Two, Three, Four, The Beatles in Time Craig Brown
29 Somebody Else's Shoes JoJo Moyles
30 Exiles Jane Harper
31*A Single Thread Tracy Chevalier*
32 How To Measure A Cow Margaret Forster
33 Bittersweet Colleen McCullough
34 The Birdcage Eve Chase
35 Rivers of London Ben Aaronovitch
36 V For Victory Lissa Evans
37 The Other Mothers Katherine Faulkner
38 Bleeding Heart Yard Ellie Griffiths
39 After The Silence Louise O'Neill
40 Pineapple Street Jenny Jackson
41 Murder At Fleat House Lucinda Riley
42 Cardiff By The Sea Joyce Carol Oates
43 The Last Goodbye Tim Weaver
44 No One Saw A Thing Andrea Mara
45 Atlas Lucinda Riley
46* The End Of Us Olivia Kiernan*
47 *Exposure Helen Dunmore"
48 Murder In The Family Cara Hunter
49 Trust Hernan Diaz
50A Spell Of Winter Helen Dunmore
51 The Dreams Of Bethany Mellmoth Ẃilliam Boyd
52 Homecoming Kate Morton
53 Stolen Focus, Why You Can't Pay Attention Johann Hari
54 None Of This Is True Lisa Jewell
55 Too Close to Breathe Olivia Kiernan
56 The Trap Catherine Ryan Howard
57 French Braid Anne Tyler
58 Coming To Find You Jane Corry
59 A Spool Of Blue Thread Anne Tyler
60 If Looks Could Kill Olivia Kiernan
61 The Running Grave Robert Galbraith
62 Marple -Various authors
63 The Four Winds Kristen Hannah
64 Murder Before Evensong Richard Coles
65 Yellowface R F Kuang
66 Hidden Depths Ann Cleeves
67 Past Lying Val McDermid
68 The Seduction Joanna Briscoe
69 The Blood Doctor Barbara Vine


Yes definitely starting the new thread in a couple of days Sparklefizz.

Musicgirl Sat 30-Dec-23 13:21:17

Thank you for this annual thread, Terribull - my favourite on Gransnet. I hope you are soon better and enjoy a happy and healthy New Year.

TerriBull Sat 30-Dec-23 13:27:45

Thank you that's very kind of you Musicgirl. I look forward to all our contributors joining us on the new thread and maybe some new posters too, that would be nice!

Maggiemaybe Sat 30-Dec-23 13:50:37

Yes, thank you for the thread, TerriBull, and I do hope you feel better soon.

I list my books with a score out of 10, so I hope you don’t mind me just copying and pasting it. smile

1. The Ink Black Heart, Robert Galbraith 8
2. One of Those Faces, Elle Grawl 3
3. The Edge, Lucy Goacher 7
4. The Paris Apartment, Lucy Foley 7
5. Different Class, Joanne Harris 9
6. Cold Blooded Murder, Brad Hunter 6
7. One Last Secret, Adele Parks 6
8. Magpie, Elizabeth Day 7
9. Three Hours, Rosamund Lupton 5
10. A Sliver of Darkness, C J Tudor 7
11. Love Untold, Ruth Jones, 8
12. The Other Passenger, Louise Candlish 9
13. The Bullet that Missed, Richard Osman 7
14. The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris 7
15. A Terrible Kindness, Jo Browning Wroe 7
16. The Perfect Family, Robyn Harding 7
17. Tell Me How This Ends, Jo Leevers 7
18. The Forgetting, Hannah Beckerman 6
19. How to Kill Your Family, Bella Mackie 9
20. Still Life, Sarah Winman 9
21. Did She Kill Him? Kate Colquhoun 6
22. Forever Home, Graham Norton 8
23. According to Yes, Dawn French 5
24. You Look Beautiful Tonight, L R Jones 6
25. Persecution, R C Bridgestock 6
26. Two Brothers, Ben Elton 8
27. The Vintage Shop of Second Chances, Libby Page 6
28. Undoctored, Adam Kay 8
29. Shrines of Gaiety, Kate Atkinson 8
30. Don’t Close Your Eyes, P S Cunliffe 7
31. We Are All Adults Here, Emma Straub 7
32. The Serial Killer’s Sister, Alice Hunter 5
33. The Cove, L J Ross 6
34. Mothering Sunday, Graham Swift 9
35. Sing, Wild Bird, Sing, Jacqueline O’Mahony 9
36. And Away, Bob Mortimer 8
37. Swing Time, Zadie Smith 8
38. Mad Honey, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Finney Boylan 8
39. The Family Remains, Lisa Jewell 8
40. Darkness Rising, A A Dhand 8
41. Streets of Darkness, A A Dhand 7
42. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus 8
43. Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty 8
44. Kick Back, Val McDermid 6
45. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood 7
46. The Rise (story), Ian Rankin 6
47. Absolute Proof, Peter James 7
48. Instructions for a Heatwave, Maggie O’Farrell 7
49. The New Nanny, L G Davis 3
50. Agatha Christie, Lucy Worsley 8
51. Please Tell Me, Mike Omer 6
52. I know my own heart, Edited by Helena Whitbread 6
53. The Amish Wife, Gregg Olsen 6
54. The Last Devil To Die, Richard Osman 8
55. Bad Women: The Ripper Retold, Hallie Rubenhold 8
56. The Christmas Murder Game, Alexandra Benedict 6

Sara1954 Sat 30-Dec-23 15:38:25

This is my favourite thread, I’m always interested in what people are reading, especially when their opinion is so different from my own.
For example. I see Maggie only managed a five for Three Hours, for me it would have been a ten.
Even with the long awaited major blockbusters opinions vary so much.
Really looking forward to getting started in 2024, and Thankyou

SueDonim Sat 30-Dec-23 17:10:35

I love Terribull’s book threads, too. It makes me smile when a new post pops up in Active Threads. I know there’ll be nothing contentious but it will be interesting. smile

TerriBull Sat 30-Dec-23 17:53:24

It's good to see we are all agreed on book threads, especially what others are reading, I'm often more interested in those than what I'm reading myself smile I'm agreeing with some of your marking Maggiemaybe, How To Kill Your Family, almost a 10 for me, loved it, and hopefully saw a resurgence of sales when it was so aptly placed next to Harry's Spare grin I would have to up Alias Grace to a high 9, but agree with your marking of The Other Passenger another enjoyable book.

Sara1954 Sat 30-Dec-23 18:15:18

I don’t think I can face listing every book, so here are my top ten in numerical order

1. In Memoriam - Alice Winn
2. Small Pleasures - Clare Chambers
3. Lucy by the Sea - Elizabeth Strout
4. A Town Called Solace - Mary Lawson
5. The Appeal- Janice Hallett
6. The Dutch House - Ann Patchett
7. Exiles Jane Harper
8. The Long Afternoon - Inga Vesper
9. Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield
10. The Marriage Portrait - Maggie O’Farrell

These could be a bit interchangeable as some of them were read almost a year ago, but I think it’s probably quite accurate.

Sparklefizz Sat 30-Dec-23 18:47:11

Sara1954 For example. I see Maggie only managed a five for Three Hours, for me it would have been a ten.

Me too.

I've read 92 books this year and have a headache so won't list them all and grade them, but I'm interested to see that I have enjoyed 7 books out of your top 10, Sara, although a couple of them not during this year.

TerriBull Sat 30-Dec-23 19:28:21

From your list Sarah I really enjoyed Small Pleasures Claire Chambers and The Appeal Janice Hallett. The Marriage Portrait is one of my intended reads very soon and maybe The Dutch House too.

Litterpicker Sat 30-Dec-23 20:44:14

Thank you for this thread TerriBull. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions. To my shame I gave up posting (could never remember what I’d already posted 🫤). Here’s a list I kept on my phone but it doesn’t include audiobooks or Radio4 abridgements.

Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
“Outside the sky is Blue”, a memoir, Christina Patterson
Three Hours, Rosamund Lupton
“On Time and Water”, Andri Snaer, non-fiction
The Hours Before Dawn, Celia Fremlin
Next to Nature, Ronald Blythe, a collection of his nature/countryside writing
Limberlost, Robbie Arnott
“A Place for Everything, My mother, autism and me”, a memoir, Anna Wilson
“Our Wives Under the Sea”, Julia Armfield
“Strong Female Character”, an autism memoir, Fern Brady
“Kierkegaard”, can’t remember the author, hard going!
“Old Babes in the Wood”, Margaret Atwood
The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
The Island of Missing Trees, Elif Shafak
”The Collected Regrets of Clover”, Mikki Brammer
”A Country Road, A Tree”, Jo Baker
“The Marriage Portrait”, Maggie O’Farrell
V for Victory, Lissa Evans
Binny Bewitched, Hilary McKay, a children’s book by one of my favourite authors
Guardian Angel, Sara Paretsky (V.I. Warshawski, private detective series - I read some of the early ones years ago and had forgotten how much I enjoyed them. They are in Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe style, set in Chicago, first one published 1982, number 21 published in 2022.

AliBeeee Sun 31-Dec-23 12:20:34

I have been very remiss and not posted on this thread throughout the year, but I have kept track of my reads. Like Maggiemaybe I rate mine out of 10.

1. Pine by Francine Toon 8
2. Skinner’s Mission by Quintin Jardine 7
Although I live in Edinburgh where these are set, I am new to this series. Not sure I like Skinner.
3. Emily Noble’s Disgrace by Mary Paulson Ellis 7
4. Still Life by Sarah Winman 7
5. Bound by Vanda Symon 8
I really like this series, set in Dunedin.
6. The Familiars by Stacey Halls 8
7. A Dark Matter (Skelfs book 1) by Doug Johnstone 8
A family of undertakers/private detectives, set in Edinburgh, an excellent series to have found.
8. Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby 7
9. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal 6
10. Opal Country by Chris Hammer 8
11. Burial of Ghosts by Ann Cleves 7
12. The Why of Things by Elizabeth H Winthrop 7
13. So Much For That by Lionel Shriver 7
Very good, but way too wordy, went on too long
14. Sister by Rosamund Lipton 7
I read this because the author was recommended here, but I am not sure about her yet.
15. 1989 by Val McDermid 6
Very disappointing sequel to 1979.
16. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave 6
17. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason 7
Well written, but a bit odd.
18. The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman 7
19.Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones 8
20. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead 9 Excellent
21. After the End by Claire McIntosh 7
22. Tin Man by Sarah Winman 8
23. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 8
24. Afraid of the Light by Douglas Kennedy 8
25. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes 8
26. French Braid by Anne Tyler 8
A lovely, easy read.
27. The Big Chill (Skelfs book 2) by Doug Johnstone 8
28. Found by Erin Kingsley 8
29. Take My Hand by Dolan Perkins-Valdez 8
30. Early Warning by Jane Smiley 8
Second part of a trilogy after Some Luck. Good, but not as good as the first one.
31. Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson 8
32. Things We Never Said by Sheila O’Flanagan 6
33. A Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin 8
34. My Policeman by Bethan Roberts 8
35. The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes 7
36. The Detectives’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson 8
37. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman 8
38. A Change of Climate by Hilary Mantel 9
39. The InvisOnes by Stef Penney 6
40. The Great Silence (Skelfs book 3) by Doug Johnstone 8
41. Cloud street by Tim Winton 9 an excellent family saga set in Australia
42. The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton 7 disappointing
43. Crash Land by Doug Johnstone 8
Set in Orkney, following a plane crash. Very enjoyable.
44. The Sound of Glass by Karen White 7
45. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths 8
46. Beholden by Clare Littleford 7
47. The Last Good Chance by Tom Barbash 8
48. The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare 9
49. The Marraige Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell 8
I was quite disappointed in this, well written, but not as good as her other recent books
50. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver 10 my book of the year, possibly of many years. Truly excellent.
51. Cold Earth by Ann Cleves 9
52. The Less Dead by Denise Mina 9
53. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis 7
54. Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen 7
55. Fireworks by Elizabeth H Winthrop 8
56. Dangerous Women by Hope Adams 7
Based on a true story of women being transported to Australia, but ultimately quite a disappointing read.
57. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty 8
I don’t usually read this author, but I quite enjoyed this.
58. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 8
Very good, about a woman who creates an escape route for downed pilots over the alps during the war
59. My Nsme is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout 8
Nowhere near as good as the Olive Kitteridge novels.
60. The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott 9 very good, set initially in depression era NY.
61. The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson 8
62. Nora Webster by Colm Tobin 8
63. Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout 8
Sequel to Lucy Barton, also disappointing.

And that’s it.

I am almost finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and enjoying very much, but I won’t get a chance to finish it today.
Happy reading everyone.

TerriBull Sun 31-Dec-23 14:11:34

Thanks for your list AliBeebee. Completely agree with your rating of Demon Copperhead, my stand out book of the year, if I read anything of that calibre in 2024 I will be very happy. I have Great Circle on my shelves, my husband started to read and couldn't get into it and put me off it somewhat, we don't always agree on books, so maybe I should give it a go based on your rating.

J52 Sun 31-Dec-23 15:08:16

This thread looks like my kind of place. I seem to have missed it before. I have enjoyed reading the lists. Some of the books I have read, but it’s always interesting to find new ones and what others have to say about them.
I’m keeping my eyes open to join in next year. Thanks TerriBull

AliBeeee Sun 31-Dec-23 16:03:59

TerriBull thanks for this thread, I promise to contribute more next year, though I may have said that last year.

Great Circle sat on my bookshelves for a while before I started it as I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to read it, I am so glad I did.

I found a spare hour this afternoon and finished my #64 for the year The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s 9/10 from me, I really enjoyed it, a good one to end the year with. Now, which one of the Christmas gifts to start next?

TerriBull Sun 31-Dec-23 16:10:17

J52 and AliBeebee you will both be most welcome to join us on the new thread.

J52 Sun 31-Dec-23 17:05:59

Thank you for the welcome.
I too enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. It was well written and was an insightful, even though it was fictional.

Axuli Tue 30-Jan-24 07:48:49

The clock has struck twenty-twenty-four, but the echoes of 2023's Book Challenge still reverberate in the hearts of avid readers. It was a year of countless journeys, both across geographical frontiers and into the depths of human experiences. Bookshelves groaned under the weight of triumphs and tears, laughter and chills, as readers embarked on a collective quest for literary fulfillment.

This wasn't just about ticking off numbers, but about pushing boundaries, exploring uncharted genres, and rediscovering beloved authors. Some embraced the thrill of 52-week marathons, while others savored the slow burn of a single, cherished story. Book clubs buzzed with lively discussions, online communities hummed with recommendations, and libraries became sanctuaries for the book-thirsty

Shel69 Fri 23-Feb-24 03:50:45

I have made a list of 10 books now to order,thank you,I was looking to find something to read