2020 Big Book Summer Reading Challenge discussion

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Big Books Completed and Reviews

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message 1: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Use this thread to post and share when you've finished a Big Book. If you review it, you can share that here, too, or just tell us what you thought of it!


message 2: by Cheriee (last edited May 24, 2020 08:45AM) (new)

Cheriee Weichel | 33 comments I've finished Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions #2) by Gabrielle S. Prendergast. I almost finished it in one day except that it just got too late. I woke up and finished it first thing in the morning. I can hardly wait for the next in this series, but at least I have the first one, somewhere in a box, to read.
Just WOW!
Here is my review. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 3: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Cheriee wrote: "I've finished Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions #2) by Gabrielle S. Prendergast. I almost finished it in one day except that it just got too late. I woke up and finished it fi..."

Wow, Cheriee! Congratulations - That might be a Big Book record!

So fun that you've found a series you love so much - enjoy the rest!


message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian | 3 comments Today, I finished The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. Now that's some sub-title. It was written by the one and only Mark Twain with illustrations by Peter Newell. Now I understand why Twain is called a humorist. I have two caveats for you. First, his writing displays very little of what are PC sensibilities today. Secondly, the heft of the book and his writing style did weary me from time to time. I will end by saying that I was amazed at how such extensive travel was done just two years after the end of the American Civil War with steamships and port quarantines, fledgling rail travel, and much local travel by foot, horse or camel.


message 5: by Deb (new)

Deb | 9 comments Finished Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon.

Here is my GR review:


Code Name Hélène Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Based on the life of Australian Nancy Wake Ariel Lawhon brings to life this amazing woman. She is a strong, assertive, smart journalist who joins France, her adopted country, in the fight during World War II. I could not put this down fully immersed in Nancy's story. Another incredible novel by Ariel Lawhon!!



View all my reviews


message 6: by Kate (new)

Kate | 7 comments I finished my first Big Book, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. A 5 star read for me!! My review:

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Thank you to Random House and Michael Kindness for an ARC of The Splendid and the Vile. Erik Larson has not disappointed me yet, and I loved this story of Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister of England. Covering 10 May 1940-10 May 1941 in 500 pages, Larson writes plenty about Churchill's personal and professional habits and his moods through the course of this tumultuous year. Repetitive at times, Larson also writes in detail about Churchill's daughter and wife, as well as the government employees who surrounded Churchill. Larson has a gift for description and honing in on a particular trait or quirk of the people he writes about which makes reading nonfiction as enjoyable as reading a novel. I was completely immersed in wartime England for 10 days, a place where I thought I had already spent enough time. Apparently not.



View all my reviews


message 7: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 29 comments Love your ending comments! THAT’S exactly why this book didn’t appeal to me despite being an Erik Larson fan. I just feel like I don’t want to read any more WWII books for some period of time.


message 8: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "Today, I finished The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. Now that's some ..."

Wow, Brian - I've never heard of that Twain novel before, but it sounds fascinating! Yes, I think I probably prefer Twain's brand of humor in smaller doses, though this does sound very interesting - love the subtitle!


message 9: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Deb wrote: "Finished Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon.

Here is my GR review:




Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Based on the life of Australian Nan..."


Glad you enjoyed it so much, Deb! It sounds fascinating. I REALLY need to get moving and read her books! I still have I Was Anastasia on my Kindle from Booktopia & never got to it!


message 10: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "I finished my first Big Book, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. A 5 star read for me!! My review:



The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz ..."


Glad you enjoyed it, Kate! I always like Larson's books - he's such a good writer and always chooses fascinating subjects. Will have to add this one to my list!


message 11: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Love your ending comments! THAT’S exactly why this book didn’t appeal to me despite being an Erik Larson fan. I just feel like I don’t want to read any more WWII books for some period of time."

ha ha yeah, I get that, too - sometimes, you just need a break from WWII.


message 12: by Karla (new)

Karla | 15 comments I finished my 1st big book: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (audio book narrated by Jorjeana Marie, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch, Will Damron) 401 pgs. Historical fiction . 4 refugees (from different homelands and histories) come together on an overloaded ship fleeing the Soviet advance. Told in alternating POV, each character is well drawn as you gradually learn their stories. Based on the Ill-fated ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. This story captured me right away. Beautifully written. The audio was narrated well. I give it 5 stars out of 5


message 13: by Brian (new)

Brian | 3 comments Suzan wrote: "Brian wrote: "Today, I finished The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. No..."

Sue, I must report that it is not a novel. He was paid by newspapers in CA and NY to go on this 6-month venture and write about it. They even paid his $1200 fare. This hefty tome was the resulting "travelogue" based on his journals and stories of the adventure/ misadventures encountered by his group of travelers.


message 14: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 29 comments Ok, I finished a second ARC, Utopia Avenue! I think this was published last week but I’ll have to check the date. Recommend this one for fans of David Mitchell or Daisy Jones & The Six.


message 15: by Karen (last edited Jun 07, 2020 04:55AM) (new)

Karen (karenlibrarian13) | 5 comments Finished my first Big Book of Summer, Temptation by Janos Szekely. It's a coming-of-age story about a young Hungarian boy between the wars, newly translated. Great story but there is some racism typical of the time and setting.

https://karensbooksandchocolate.blogs...


message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenlibrarian13) | 5 comments Brian wrote: "Today, I finished The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. Now that's some ..."

I have Twain's Roughing It and have been putting it off for the same reasons. I think his writing is best enjoyed in small doses.


message 17: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Karla wrote: "I finished my 1st big book: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (audio book narrated by Jorjeana Marie, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch, Will Damron) 401 pgs. Historical fiction . 4 refugees (from dif..."

Oh, I love Ruta Sepetys! So glad you enjoyed Salt to the Sea - I bet it was great on audio.

Have you read Shades of Gray (not THAT one) - it was her first novel and blew me away - highly recommended.


message 18: by Brian (new)

Brian | 3 comments Karen wrote: "Brian wrote: "Today, I finished The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. No..."

Karen, I concur with you and Sue about taking him in small doses. I may tackle his much shorter Pudd'nhead Wilson soon, since it is appropriate for our current time. One Goodreads description says, "the book [written in 1894] is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes."


message 19: by Robin (last edited Jun 08, 2020 07:22AM) (new)

Robin (mcrobus) | 2 comments The City We Became (Great Cities #1) by N.K. Jemisin The City We Became
(Great Cities #1)
by N.K. Jemisin.
So much more than science fiction. Excellent.
464 pages.


message 20: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 29 comments Robin wrote: "The City We Became (Great Cities #1) by N.K. Jemisin The City We Became
(Great Cities #1)
by N.K. Jemisin.
So much more than science fiction. Excellent.
464 pages."


I’ve had this on my list forever. Even had it out from the library more than once without reading!


message 21: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "Karen wrote: "Brian wrote: "Today, I finished The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the..."

Oh, wow, Brian - that's quite a backstory! I didn't realize it was nonfiction. A lot of money for that time!

I agree the shorter Twain sounds very relevant!


message 22: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Ok, I finished a second ARC, Utopia Avenue! I think this was published last week but I’ll have to check the date. Recommend this one for fans of David Mitchell or [book:Daisy Jones ..."

I'll have to check that out, Vicki! I loved Cloud Atlas.


message 23: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "Finished my first Big Book of Summer, Temptation by Janos Szekely. It's a coming-of-age story about a young Hungarian boy between the wars, newly translated. Great story but there is some racism ty..."

That sounds like an intriguing novel, Karen - glad you enjoyed it!


message 24: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "The City We Became (Great Cities #1) by N.K. Jemisin The City We Became
(Great Cities #1)
by N.K. Jemisin.
So much more than science fiction. Excellent.
464 pages."


My son loves N.K. Jemisin! I need to give her a try.


message 25: by Deb (new)

Deb | 9 comments Next completed book:

If It Bleeds by Stephen King 447 pgs

Here is my GR review:
If It Bleeds If It Bleeds by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Stephen King is one of my top favorite authors. I had to wait to read this until my husband, who snatched it up before I could begin, was finished. I started and I couldn't stop. From one story to the next each was pure Stephen King. All were good but my favorite was If It Bleeds. King brings back Holly Gibney who he introduced in Mr Mercedes. I love her character and hopefully she will be back in her own full novel! This Constant Reader will wait.



View all my reviews


message 26: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Deb wrote: "Next completed book:

If It Bleeds by Stephen King 447 pgs

Here is my GR review:


If It Bleeds by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stephen King is one of my to..."


Glad you enjoyed it, Deb! Ken is reading Hearts in Atlantis right now. Stephen King is always good for a Big Book! I just read The Outsider in the fall and loved the Holly Gibney character, and I have Mr. Mercedes lined up for my own BBS!


message 27: by Karla (new)

Karla | 15 comments I finished my 2nd book: Run Away by Harlan Coben (audio narrated by Steven Weber) 416 pages. Mystery that begins with many different stories that develop and one by one come together to make quite a surprising whole. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


message 28: by Davida (new)

Davida Chazan (chocolatelady) | 14 comments I also finished my 2nd book of this challenge, but my review of the first will be published next week, and this one will be reviewed in early July.


message 29: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Karla wrote: "I finished my 2nd book: Run Away by Harlan Coben (audio narrated by Steven Weber) 416 pages. Mystery that begins with many different stories that develop and one by one come together to make quite ..."

Glad you enjoyed it, Karla! Are you going for #3??


message 30: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Davida wrote: "I also finished my 2nd book of this challenge, but my review of the first will be published next week, and this one will be reviewed in early July."

Way to go, Davida! I am behind on my reviews, too :) Just finished my May reviews, so next week I can finally start on the Big Book reviews!


message 31: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
I finished my 2nd and 3rd Big Books this week! On audio, I finished A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen, and in print, I finished reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, which I really loved!

I'm behind on reviews but will begin to write my Big Book reviews this coming week. The good news about Big Book Summer is fewer reviews to write - maybe I can catch up!


message 32: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenlibrarian13) | 5 comments Finished my second book for the challenge, John Caldigate by Anthony Trollope. It's a big fat Victorian novel, but I managed to finish it in less than a week. Here's a link to my review:

https://karensbooksandchocolate.blogs...


message 33: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "Finished my second book for the challenge, John Caldigate by Anthony Trollope. It's a big fat Victorian novel, but I managed to finish it in less than a week. Here's a link to my review:

https://k..."


I just finished reading your review, Karen! :) It sounds like an intriguing book - I have never read a Trollope novel but know that many people love his books. Congratulations on finishing your 2nd Big Book!


message 34: by Deb (new)

Deb | 9 comments I dug up the 3rd book in the Neapolitan series.
Here is my review:


Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3) Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I had read the first two books in this series and after watching the HBO series based on these books I wanted to find out what happened next!! So I grabbed my copy of this third book. We continue to follow the lives of Elena and Lila as they marry, become parents and search for more to their lives. Their friendship is is challenged over and over yet they are still drawn to each other. On to book 4!



View all my reviews


message 35: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Deb wrote: "I dug up the 3rd book in the Neapolitan series.
Here is my review:




Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had read the first two books in this series a..."


Congratulations on finishing another Big Book, Deb! I've heard so much about this author and this series but haven't read any yet! I will have to give it a try. So glad you enjoyed it.


message 36: by Davida (new)

Davida Chazan (chocolatelady) | 14 comments I just posted my review of Miss Benson's Beetle Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce by Rachel Joyce. You can read my review here: https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2020/06/1...


message 37: by Karen (new)

Karen | 7 comments I just finished Valley of the Dolls, 466 pages. It was an okay read. I guess in 1966 it was considered quite risqué. But in today’s world not even close to Fifty Shades of Gray. 3.5 stars.


message 38: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Davida wrote: "I just posted my review of Miss Benson's Beetle Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce by Rachel Joyce. You can read my review here: https://tcl-bookreviews.com/..."

Congratulations, Davida! I will read your review...


message 39: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "I just finished Valley of the Dolls, 466 pages. It was an okay read. I guess in 1966 it was considered quite risqué. But in today’s world not even close to Fifty Shades of Gray. 3.5 stars."

ha ha funny how times and standards have changed!

Congratulations on finishing your Big Book, Karen!


message 40: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Hey, I finally posted my first Big Book review for this year! Just wrote a review of Faithful Place by Tana French, which was super easy because I loved it SO much!

https://bookbybook.blogspot.com/2020/...


message 41: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 29 comments Yay Sue! I just noticed I read another big book without realizing it. It was Dragon Hoops, the graphic novel recommended during the last Northshire bookseller videoconference. It was very good. I didn’t realize it is noted as 449 pages in Goodreads. So I’ll count that.


message 42: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 16 comments Hiya,

I have finished my first Big Book of this summer: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie!

My review is here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

And I shall share it shortly to:
https://elinorsbookshelf.blogspot.com/
As well as link back to Sue’s original post.

Happy reading everyone - I’m enjoying this!

Elinor


message 43: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenlibrarian13) | 5 comments I finished The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. It was an absorbing and fast read for such a long book, non-fiction that reads like fiction. Also very timely if you want to read more about African-American history.

https://karensbooksandchocolate.blogs...


message 44: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Yay Sue! I just noticed I read another big book without realizing it. It was Dragon Hoops, the graphic novel recommended during the last Northshire bookseller videoconference. It wa..."

Oh, that sounds good, Vicki - I enjoy graphic novels.


message 45: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Congratulations, Elinor! Americanah sounds SO GOOD! Will go check out your blog review. I need to read it!


message 46: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "I finished The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. It was an absorbing and fast read for such a long book, non-fiction that reads like fiction. Al..."

I've heard about this one but haven't read it yet, Karen - glad to hear it was so good! Congrats on finishing a Big Book!


message 47: by Cheriee (new)

Cheriee Weichel | 33 comments I finished up my second and third big books in the last couple of weeks. I barely had time to read, never mind comment since we had our 3 year old granddaughter staying with us for five sleeps. We are exhausted.
Both of the books had to do with the world wars. First I finished The Huntress by Kate Quinn (560 pages) Then I read Lovely War by by Julie Berry (480 pages) Both of them were brilliant.


message 48: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 16 comments Ooh thanks and please do. It’s part love story with realism, part activism (with realism). Would love your thoughts on this.


message 49: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 219 comments Mod
Cheriee wrote: "I finished up my second and third big books in the last couple of weeks. I barely had time to read, never mind comment since we had our 3 year old granddaughter staying with us for five sleeps. We ..."

Glad you enjoyed your books (and your granddaughter, even if she was exhausting!). I've heard great things about the Huntress.

Congratulations on Big Books #2 and #3!


message 50: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 29 comments I finished another book without realizing it was over 400 pages (darn ebooks). The Doctor of Aleppo. This comes out in August and I highly recommend it.


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