My 2020 Reading Challenges: A Mid-Year Progress Update

Time to take stock of the progress (or lack of progress) I’ve made with the reading challenges I’ve signed up for or set myself this year.

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2020

I’ve set my target at 120 books and had read 69 as at the end of June so I’m pretty much on track with this one.

when-are-you-reading-2020When Are You Reading? 2020

This challenge is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It involves reading a book set in each of twelve time periods. So far, I’ve matched eight of the time periods therefore I’m cautiously optimistic about completing this challenge. You can find links to my reviews here. By the way, Sam also hosts the very popular weekly WWW Wednesday meme.

20 Books of Summer 201920 Books of Summer 2020

This annual challenge is hosted by Cathy at 746Books. You simply make a list of 10, 15 or 20 books you intend to read between 1st June and 1st of September and try to read them all. The rules allow for plenty of flexibility but I try to stick to my original list – which is probably why I’ve always previously failed to complete this challenge! Having read eight of the books on my list so far, I’m determined this is the year I succeed. You can find links to my list and my reviews here.

wian-2020-2What’s In A Name? 2020

This challenge is hosted by Andrea at Carolina Book Nook and involves reading books with titles that match each of six categories. I’ve only managed two of the six so far as some of the categories are quite tricky. If I’m to complete it, I have a few chunky books to get through. The Mirror & the Light, I’m looking at you…

The Classics ClubThe Classics Club

Create a list of 50 classic books you would like to read within five years and work your way through them (with the help of the occasional Classics Club Spin where a book from your list is selected for you) to earn yourself a place on the Wall of Honour. My deadline is December 2021 and so far I’ve read 37 from my list. However, it has to be said that some of those are also part of my Buchan of the Month reading project, of which more below.

Buchan of the Month Banner 2020.jpgBuchan of the Month Reading Project

Now in its third year, this is a personal challenge involving reading a different book by John Buchan – fiction or non-fiction – every month. You can see my reading list for the year and find links to my reviews of the six I’ve read so far here.

Are you taking part in any reading challenges? If so, how are you getting on? Do they motivate or frustrate you?

#BookReview Burning Cold (Cara Walden Mystery 2) by Lisa Lieberman

Burning ColdAbout the Book

Budapest: 1956. Newlywed Cara Walden’s brother Zoltán has disappeared in the middle of the Hungarian revolution, harboring a deadly wartime secret. Will Cara or the Soviets find him first?

Cutting short her honeymoon in Paris to rescue a sibling she’s never met was not Cara’s idea, but her husband Jakub has a reckless streak, and she is too much in love to question his judgment. Together with her older brother Gray, they venture behind the Iron Curtain, seeking clues to Zoltán’s whereabouts among his circle of fellow dissidents, all victims of the recently overthrown Communist regime. One of them betrayed him, and Cara realizes that the investigation has put every person they’ve met at risk. Inadvertently, they’ve also unmasked a Russian spy, who is now tailing them in the hope that they will lead him to Zoltán.

Format: ebook (169 pages)                    Publisher: Passport Press
Publication date:  6th October 2019   Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Find Burning Cold (Cara Walden Mystery #2) on Goodreads

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*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

My Review

According to the book description, the film version of Graham Greene’s The Third Man was the inspiration for this historical thriller. Set mainly in post-war Budapest, it certainly has the intrigue and noir feel of The Third Man but I struggled to find many other connections although I admit it’s many years since I watched the film or read the book. What this does mean is lack of familiarity with The Third Man needn’t mar your enjoyment of Burning Cold.

Burning Cold is the second book featuring Cara Walden and there are references to events in the first book. However, I’m pleased to say Burning Cold works perfectly well as a standalone read. In fact, it’s made me keen to read the first book in the series, All the Wrong Places.

I knew little about this period in Hungary’s history before reading the book. The events which unfold in Burning Cold  rectified that omission without ever feeling like a history lesson because of the twists and turns of the plot. The atmosphere of paranoia amongst the population of a city with informers everywhere and who live in fear of the secret police is vividly conjured up. The author also creates an interesting dynamic between Cara, her husband Jakub and her brother, Gray.

Burning Cold is an enjoyable, well-crafted historical mystery that explores the legacy of conflict on families as well as nations.  My thanks to the author for my copy of the book – and her patience in waiting for it to reach the top of my review pile!

In three words: Well-researched, assured, dramatic

Try something similar: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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lisa-lieberman-web-7745About the Author

Lisa Lieberman writes the Cara Walden series of historical mysteries based on old movies and featuring blacklisted Hollywood people on the lam in dangerous international locales.

Trained as a modern European cultural and intellectual historian, Lieberman abandoned a perfectly respectable academic career for the life of a vicarious adventurer through perilous times. She has written extensively on post-war Europe.  Her most recent essay on the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution, “Stalin’s Boots” was the inspiration for Burning Cold, set in Budapest just as the Soviet tanks roll back in, evoking Carol Reed’s classic film of intrigue and betrayal, The Third Man, based on a treatment by Graham Greene. Keeping with the Graham Greene theme, her new Cara Walden mystery, The Glass Forest, takes place in Saigon in 1957, during the filming of The Quiet American.

Lieberman taught history for many years at Dickinson College and directed their Center in Bologna, Italy. She has held visiting fellowships at Ohio State and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and was the recipient of a Bourse Chateaubriand for research in Paris. In her spare time, Lieberman lectures on post-war efforts to come to terms with the trauma of the Holocaust in film and literature. On the lighter side, she gives talks on cruise ships.

She has published essays, translations, and short stories in Noir City, Gettysburg Review, Raritan, Michigan Quarterly, Mystery Scene and elsewhere and writes film criticism for 3 Quarks Daily. She is Vice President of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of Mystery Writers of America. (Bio and photo credit: author website)

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