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Reading Bingo 2017 edition

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This is one of my favourite posts of the year so there was no question of me repeating this following my relative success in filling in the squares in both 2014, 2015 and 2016

I purposely don’t treat this like a challenge by finding books to fit the squares throughout the year, oh no! I prefer to see which of my (mostly) favourite books will fit from the set I’ve read.  As you can imagine this becomes a bit like one of those moving puzzles where one book is suitable for a number of squares… and then I’m left with empty squares which I have to trawl through the 137 books I’ve read and reviewed to see if any book at all will fit! This keeps me amused for many, many hours so I do hope you all enjoy the result.

Click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood clocks in at 560 pages beautifully and tantalising revealing a story of Grace Marks an Irish servant who in 1843 was accused of Thomas Kimner and Nancy Montgomery in Ontario, Canada. We meet her some years later when Dr Jordan becomes interested in studying her case and we hear what she has to tell him whilst she stiches quilts for the Governor’s household. This fictional story is one of a number of books I’ve read this year which are inspired by true-crime and Margaret Atwood’s skill with her pen did not disappoint at all. I have also watched the Netflix series which stays remarkably true to the book

 

A Forgotten Classic

I only have one title under classics this year so I present another Beryl Bainbridge novel this year.  one of the author’s later novels published in 1981. The story is set in Moscow and I’m reliably informed is supposed to illustrate the Kafkaesque nature of the country at that time, but sadly I just ended up being mightily confused by this novel although I was very much taken with the description of air travel at this time, far less regimented than the flights we take these days.

 

A Book That Became a Movie

I haven’t watched the film of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which was released in 2008 but I was very taken with the book written by John Boyne which tells the story of Bruno, a young German boy whose father is posted as a Commander to Auschwitz. Young Bruno begins talking to a boy of a similar age to him through the fence separating and segregating the Jews in the camp from the outside world. Through a child’s eyes we are exposed to the horror of the camp something that is made much worse because of the innocence of our narrator.

 

A Book Published This Year

As a book reviewer I have read lots of books published this year but decided to feature one from a debut author Ray Britain, this author having been a member of the Police Force in the midlands until his retirement when he decided to turn his hand to crime fiction. The Last Thread is the first in the DCI Stirling series and despite being a realistic glimpse into policing is still a mighty fine story too. The opening scenes bring home the realities of policing when despite an effort by our protagonist to intervene, a teenager plunges from a motorway bridge onto the road below.

 

A Book With A Number In The Title

The Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate was originally published in 1940 and bought to a whole new generation of readers by the British Library Crime Classics series. As might be expected the twelve is in relation to the number of men and women that sit on the jury in this courtroom drama. With the book split into three distinct acts, the background to the jury, the charges and the deliberations all brilliantly and engagingly executed. This is backed up by brilliant postscript.

 

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

Always one of the hardest spaces to fill, I have no-one that falls into this category this year.

A Book With Non Human Characters

The Good People by Hannah Kent is set in south-west of Ireland in 1825 and 1826 and is full of fairies, not of the Disney variety though, these are the fairy folk, that Irish folklore had walking amongst them. These fairies were as wont to carry out evil acts as they ever were good. With Nóra Lehay having the misfortune to lose her husband at the same time it becomes clear that her child is mute opens her up to gossip and isolation amongst the locals. A beautifully written story which despite being moving is quite a bleak tale.

 

A Funny Book

I don’t read many funny books so this year’s entry comes from Caimh McDonnell who nabbed this spot on the reading bingo last year. Angels in the Moonlight combines laughs with Crime Fiction in the most perfect mix, especially in this book, the prequel set in 1999. The crimes are not minimalised or overshadowed by inappropriate humour but the strong element that runs through the book allows the reader to feel a wide range of emotions as we follow our intrepid hero Bunny.

 

A Book By A Female Author

The story of a Singer sewing machine might sound pretty dull, but The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie is anything but. We first meet our machine at the factory in Clydebank where in 1911 ten thousand workers went on strike, Jean being one of them although her loyalties are divided between her boyfriend and her family. We later meet the sewing machine in the hands of Connie who we learn about in part through the records she keeps of what she’s made on it. Lastly it is found by Fred in his recently deceased Grandfather’s flat. A story of all those big emotions across three separate lives. Brilliantly presented and executed with precision.

A Book With A Mystery

This box always makes me smile because pretty much all the books I read have a mystery of some description in them. Before the Poison is a standalone novel by Peter Robinson featuring a historical murder trial which examines the roles of a woman’s morals in the likelihood of her being accused of murder, this time in the 1950s. In the modern tale of this story a recently bereaved composer becomes wrapped up in the story of Grace Fox who was accused of murdering her husband one snowy winter’s day. Aided by a diary Chris examines the story closely which has a personal link to the school he attended as a child. Fascinating and disconcerting as I couldn’t quite believe this was pure fiction.

 

A Book With A One Word Title

This year I have just one book which is a one word title, perhaps they are falling out of fashion? Fortunately it is a book that I loved. Shelter by Sarah Franklin is set in 1944 in the Forest of Dean which is where I lived before leaving home to make my way in the big wide world. The author shapes her story around the Lumberjills posted to the Forest to aid the war along with the Italian Prisoners of War who worked alongside them. The story was realistic and heart-warming and despite a difficult relationship with the area as a teenager, Shelter, made me appreciate some of its better qualities.

 

 A Book of Short Stories

CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards is a fabulous collection of short stories from a wide range of popular crime fiction writers. I loved exploring the different styles and places that are featured within this collection which well and truly bought home to me all the possibilities this form has to offer the reader. My copy now has a firm place on my bookshelf as it will be invaluable when seeking out some of the longer novels of those who appear in this brilliant book.

 

 Free Square

I’ve chosen The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell for my free square for the simple reason this would have easily been featured in my top ten post of the year, except it wasn’t published this year. I love an unpredictable story and Rose who works in the Police Precinct in 1920s Brooklyn is the protagonist for just such a tale. Through her eyes we see what happens when Odile enters the typing pool, elegant sophisticated Odile is the star of the show but does Rose know her secrets? The journey back to early scenes is all in this book, and what a wonderful journey the author took me on.

 

 

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Regular readers of this blog won’t be in the slightest bit surprised that this book has made it onto the Reading Bingo. A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys was my First Book of the Year for a very special reason. Although the book opens as Lilian Shepard boards the Orentes from Tilbury Docks she is travelling to start a new life as a servant in Australia. Through her eyes we see the world as she makes the journey across the seas, meeting her fellow passengers including many that the social mores of England would have stopped her from socialising with, but life is different on an Ocean Liner. The brilliant period details of a world on the brink of war alongside fabulous characters and a mystery made this one of my favourite books of the year.

 

A Book of Non-Fiction

I’ve had a bumper year for excellent non-fiction reads but as many of them are crime related I’ve chosen The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler which is crying out to be on the bookshelf of booklovers up and down the land. The style of writing is often as irreverent as it is succinct with the author puts his own spin on why an author has been forgotten but interspersed between the 99 authors are longer chapters looking at subjects as diverse as The Forgotten Disney Connection and The Forgotten Booker Winners.

 

The First Book By A Favourite Author

In March I read the debut novel Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister and having really enjoyed being sucked into the moral dilemma she posed,I have also read her second novel Anything You Do Say later in the year – so yes, she is a favourite author. Starting with a glimpse of a text on her partner’s phone Rachel Anderson starts to dig, and once she’s started all manner of fall-out commences. This book packed a real emotional punch because not only was it cleverly presented but it also was jam-packed full of realistic characters who behave like ‘real people’

 

A Book I Heard About Online

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and to be honest, it is fairly easy to persuade me I must read all types of crime fiction but one blogger had a special reason for recommending this novel, Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie to me, because she lived in the place of the fictional scene of the murder Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Thirty years later the case is reopened and the wounds that never really healed split apart once more. With convincing characters and a solid sense of place this was one recommendation I’m glad I didn’t pass by on.

 

A Best Selling Book

Lisa Jewell is the master of drawing me into a story from the very first page and Then She Was Gone lived up to that early promise. This is the darkest of the author’s novels yet and on the one-hand seems to be a fantastical tale but it is so underlined by truths that this aspect only becomes apparent when you examine the story closely, yet move the prism to one side and all seems to be completely believable. Ellie Mack disappeared on her way to the library. She was just fifteen years old and her disappearance blew the remaining four Mack’s apart. Several years later her mother Laurel, meets a man in the local café and everything changes once more.

 

A Book Based Upon A True Story


Ah so you thought I’d come unstuck by using Alias Grace earlier on in my Reading Bingo but fortunately this year has been the year when I sought out books inspired by true crimes and Little Deaths by Emma Flint was the first one of the year. This book is based upon the life of Alice Crimmins who was tried for the murder of her two children in New York in 1965. The thrust of the story is that Alice was tried for her morals rather than being based on evidence. I became so immersed in Alice’s tale that I was simply unable to put this well-researched book aside.

 

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

2017 was the year I made a concerted effort to read some of my earlier purchases that have been languishing on my kindle. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves was purchased way back in 2012 and is the fourth in the brilliant Vera series. In this outing a body is found in a sauna at a health club Vera visits in a short-lived attempt to tackle her lifestyle. What more can I say, fab characters, a proper mystery with clues to be solved and the best non clichéd detective to walk the beat.

 

 A Book Your Friend Loves

I went on holiday to Crete in 2016 and visited the island of Spinalonga, a former leper colony. On my return I told my friend all about it and she urged me to read The Island by Victoria Hislop which she’d already read. Well eventually the book made it to the top of the TBR and I fell in love with the story, bought even more alive because I’d trod in the footsteps of the fictional characters that I read about. This is almost a saga story following one family from the nearby town of Plakka and the realities of life on a leper colony in the relatively recent past. A book that I won’t forget in a hurry and a delight to read.

 

 

A Book That Scares You

I rarely get scared by a book but the cover of Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham was enough to give me the willies. This is another true crime read, the brutal murder of a mother by a daughter and her friend in New Zealand in 1954 and perhaps because of the senselessness of the crime this book got to me far more than many of my reads in this genre. The girls lived in a land of make-believe, and had an intense friendship which was about to be halted due to Anne Perry’s move to England. The author investigates the girl’s earlier lives and comes up with some theories but none quite explain why this rare act of matricide was perpetrated. The fact that one of the girls became a mystery writer just adds another level of intrigue.

 

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

2017 has been a year where I have explored a selection of books written about  true crime and so it would have been remiss of me not to include what is widely considered to be the first in this genre. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, published in 1966 tells the story of the murder of The Clutter family in Kansas. We learn about the victims in the lead up to the murders and afterwards the characters of the murderers are revealed. The amount of research that must have gone into this book is immense and this was carried out by the author and his close friend at the time, Harper Lee who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

The Second Book In A Series

I loved Mary-Jane Riley’s first book, The Bad Things which I read towards the end of 2016 so it was no surprise that After She Fell was purchased so I could find out more about Alex Devlin in this, the second book in the series. Alex Devlin returns to North Norfolk to investigate the death of a friend’s daughter. What she uncovers at the excusive boarding school that Elena Devonshire attended undermines the coroner’s original finding of suicide. There are multiple viewpoints, a whole heap of well-defined characters and a set of events that will have the readers longing for Alex to reveal the truth.

 

A Book With A Blue Cover

So last year I had a wealth of blue covers to choose from and even commented how they were becoming more popular; not so this year! Fortunately The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is an excellent choice because not ofound was from a mixed genre form of Memoir combined with true crime. This was engaging and interesting in equal parts telling the story of a true-crime as well as showing the legal files alongside the memoir section that examines the consequences of crime on its victims. Fascinating although far from an easy read.

 

 

Well sadly I’m a square short, I really do need to start picking up some younger author’s works but on the whole a pretty impressive year, if I do say so myself.

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

81 thoughts on “Reading Bingo 2017 edition

      1. Interesting how blogging has affected my reading habits – I had nothing more than ten years old, no forgotten classics and nothing from my own tbr! However, had no problem finding a book I’d heard about online or which was published this year! 😂

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  1. Great fun with some fab picks – a few I’ve enjoyed too, like A Dangerous Crossing and The Other Typist, and some that are still lingering on my TBR. I’ve voted for 20-24 but haven’t actually looked yet (you know what I’ll be spending the afternoon on now, don’t you?). I have a horrible feeling I’m going to struggle with a few of the categories this year… but, like you, I should at least be able to fill the ‘mystery’ slot… 😉

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  2. Great post, I have just been sat here like a demented owl, head boobing and twisting round looking at my shelves as I was picking books. I think this may be a way of picking some of my favourite reads of the year 🙂

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  3. Oh, this is great, Cleo! And I really do love your book choices. You’ve got such variety there. I also think you have a great view of this whole thing – seeing which books you have fit the different categories. That makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t usually got for the challenge sort of thing, but this does look like fun.

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  4. This looks like so much fun!
    I can imagine the time it must have taken to wade through all those books but it was probably a lot of fun to look back over what you accomplished this year. Great job 😊

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  5. Only missing book square is pretty good! I’m so curious about the Anne Perry book now (I’ve never read her, but I know who she is so I’m certainly intrigued) and The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler.

    -Lauren

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    1. Thank you Lauren – I’ve never read one of Anne Perry’s books but now I’ve read this book I keep seeing copies of her books everywhere. The Book of Forgotten Authors is the perfect gift for any booklover 🙂

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  6. This looks like fun. I always mean to try one. I was especially curious about a book over 10 years old. Great choice. Cold Blood was fascinating and chilling and I’ve also enjoyed a few of the movies.

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    1. I couldn’t choose books based on the squares and usually what happens is that I have loads for some squares and then one book that fits in three squares so i end up moving them all around… Yes mystery, found online and female author all are dead easy…

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  7. Oh this is such a fun idea!!! I didn’t take the time to see how many squares I would fill in, but I absolutely love this topic.
    we had a few crossover books, I also read The Good People, and Little Deaths. And, I can’t remember if it was your blog that I mentioned this on, but I met Anne Perry, as she came to the writers festival I was working at. She was being interviewed by her biographer, who wrote about her past (it wasn’t this same book though, quite a bit has been written on this crime). Fascinating indeed!

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    1. So pleased you enjoyed the post and also that we have some of the same books on our shelf for this year!
      It was me that you told about Anne Perry and I need to check out her biography because this whole story (including her rehabilitation) fascinates me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I like the way you do this – I do a bingo every summer, but only to choose books to read. I think it would be much more fun to back into the bingo and fill the squares with books I’ve already read. That Anne Perry does indeed look scary!

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  9. A Book with more than 500 pages : 4,3,2, 1 by Paul Auster. 866 pages and more like four books in one.
    A forgotten classic: Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahatin Ali is a Turkish classic having a revival.
    A Book That Became a Movie: I didn’t end up finishing it but I read 1/3 of The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, the movie reviews aren’t that great either but I loved Days Without End.
    A Book Published This Year: Most of the books I’ve read were published this year but if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, a delightful read.
    A Book With A Number In The Title: the Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott.
    A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty: Had to do some research for this one but Weike Wang who wrote Chemistry is 29. Highly recommend.
    A Book With Non Human Characters: Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward has a few ghosts in it.
    A Funny Book: I laughed out loud for much of The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyle.
    A Book By A Female Author: I make a point of reading more female authors than men so this is easy, I’ll go with The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes, a great read.
    A Book With A Mystery: An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire
    A Book With A One Word Title: Beartwown by Fredrik Backman.
    A Book of Short Stories: This one is a bit of a stretch because I don’t read short stories but Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose is sort of linked stories. Cut me some slack for this one
    Free Square: Instead of free square, this Bingo could have had a translated book. One pick for that category is Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi, a devastating read from beginning to end. We should all read more books in translation so we can learn about the world we live in.
    A Book Set on a Different Continent: Different to where? I am in Australia so lots of my books were set elsewhere but I’ll go with Ghachar Ghocar set in India by Vivek Shanbhag.
    A Book of Non-Fiction: The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexaandria Marzano-Lesnevich was one of the best books I’ve read.
    The First Book by a Favourite Author: This one seems like an easy one but I struggled to find one. I have chosen another stretch, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen. Let’s just say it’s his first book and I have enjoyed all his other writing.
    A Book You Heard About Online: I spend way too much time reading about books online. The hype around The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis was huge so I had to read it and so glad I did.
    A Best-selling Book: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    A Book Based on a True Story: Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton is based on true events and she includes an author’s note with historical information at the end
    A Book at the Bottom of your To Be Read Pile: I’ve been meaning to read something by Kent Haruf and this year got to Our Souls at Night

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    1. I don’t know who started this – I found it in 2014 but sadly I wasn’t able to trace it back to the originator. I’ve used the same board every year since then. All things being equal I will be doing a fifth edition in 2018.

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  10. You have some lovely books there, Cleopatra. Like you, I don’t try and full squares, but I did wonder, as I’m so behind on reviewing itself – nearly 20 books waiting to be reviewed, and as I continue reading, it seems to grow rather than diminish – whether I should do a bingo post as it takes an age to do, shuffling books around, as you said. I realised reading your lovely list that I could have included the Postgate of course as my number, as I loved it, rather than the loved number book I have included, which won’t have its review posted till its publication day in mid Jan. I was pleased that this year I got ‘House!’

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