Thank you so much to all of those who took part in the Calibre Summer of Reading Challenge.

We hope you all enjoyed a summer of reading as much as we did. We are delighted to announce that Elaine was the winner of our £50 amazon voucher and some of the great reviews we received from you all are below.

Image shows covers of books reviewed by our Summer of Reading participants

The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange

Reviewed by Elaine

This is my favourite book to be published in the last few years. The author is a History lecturer in Birmingham, and a travel writer. In this book he combines his interest in sea kayaking with travel and historical research. The book is full of beautiful descriptions of coastal areas of the UK and Ireland. The prose is full of the colour and vibrancy of nature and landscapes, from the ruggedness of The Old Man Of Hoy in the Orkneys to the shards of light playing on our coastal waters, creating poetic text. There are wonderful photos to match the detailed pen pictures of places visited during the author’s journey through coastal waters in his sea kayak. There is also a website, The Frayed Atlantic Edge, with photos and far more geo-historical information about the places visited on the author’s travels around the coast of The Atlantic Edge. It is a wonderful read, full of interesting information, which can be read again and again. Highly recommended!

Box 88 by Charles Cummings

Reviewed by Penny-Melville Brown

I’ve just been reading “Box 88” by Charles Cummings.  He has written various spystories, combining the character and plot complexity of John Le Carre with the purposeful fast action of Len Deighton.  This is the tale of a super-spy structure, combining the skills of the CIA, MI5, MI6, and Special Forces but at a higher level of competence, influence and secrecy.  There are likeable characters who develop through the story, hard-hitting individuals and even apparent extremism is tempered by emotional ties.  The story is set in the present (even Trump is mentioned) but with echoes of the Lockerby horrors.  Well worth a read and highly recommended.

Two Degrees West by Nicholas Crane

Reviewed by Anne

A great blend of geography, history, human interest stories and hilarious incidents on his journey.  It has quite an "academic" start which can be off-putting but overall this book is one of my favourites and I will read it again. I loved the engaging style and the narrative made me feel I was on the adventure with him although I was glad I could stay warm and dry at home too!

The Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny

Anonymous reviewer

I started to read the three Pine series by Louise Penny. This series was recommended by the World Service Book Club. I got the list from Google so I could read in order. There are 16 books more to follow I believe, although Calibre did not have them all yet, I enjoyed all calibre had and hope to find the rest. It's a detective mystery series set in Canada, written by a Canadian. Very much worth a try.

Image shows cover of Molly Rogers to the Rescue

Molly Rogers to the Rescue by Cornelia Funke 

Reviewed by Megan Kinsey

Not yet available from Calibre, but because Megan loved it so much it's coming soon....

This is a really fun pirate adventure, following the adventures of Molly Rogers and her mother, the pirate Barbarous Bertha. A great first chapter book, short with fun and colourful illustrations. The characters all have names that will capture the child reader’s attention, such as Tattooed Tammy and One-Eyed Wilma. Their unique characters are brought out during the story, with them all working together based on their individual strengths. The story shows strong female characters who are the ones doing the rescuing, rather than waiting to be rescued as with traditional gender stereotypes. It does feel a bit like it is pitting the male (bad pirates) and female (good pirates) teams against each other – there is a male character in Molly’s ‘good’ team, but the bad pirates are all male. To take breaking gender stereotypes further, it would have been nice to see a female pirate on the ‘bad’ side too. Overall, a really fun and enjoyable book. Perhaps suitable for ages 5-7, or Years 1-2.

This year at Calibre we are asking our members to join our 12 weeks Summer of Reading Challenge. Running from 14th June to 5th September, all you have to do is pledge to read a book a week and at the end of the challenge, send us a review of the best book you read.

Week 12  Book Recommendation

We've reached the twelfth and last week of the summer reading change and our last book recommendation is a must read! In The Marlow Murder Club, Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow. There’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink. Then one evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar. Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club. When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands.

Week 11  Book Recommendation

For the penultimate week of our Summer reading challenge, we have a spellbinding story by number one bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave, winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year.

A Secret of Birds and Bone is set in an Italian city ravaged by plague. Here, Sofia's mother carves beautiful mementoes from the bones of loved ones. But one day, she doesn't return home. Did her work lead her into danger? Sofia and her little brother Ermin are sent to the convent orphanage but soon escape, led by an enigmatic new friend and their pet crow, Corvith. Together they cross the city underground, following clues in bones up to the towers of Siena, where - circled by magpies - the children find the terrible truth.

Week 10  Book Recommendation

Cover of The Law of Innocence

We're very close now to the end of our Summer of reading and our summer wouldn't be complete without a cracking crime thriller to get our teeth into. The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly is therefore this week's recommendation, and it was a tough choice as there are so many great crime writers around at the moment. Heading home after winning his latest case, defense attorney Mickey Haller - The Lincoln Lawyer - is pulled over by the police. They open the trunk of his car to find the body of a former client. Haller knows the law inside out. He will be charged with murder. He will have to build his case from behind bars. And the trial will be the trial of his life. Because Hallee will have to defend himself in court. But a not-guilty verdict isn't enough. In order to truly walk free, Haller knows he must find the real killer - that is the law of innocence... In a review by the Express they advised: 'Pick up this gripping book at your peril, especially if you have other things to do like working or sleeping'. So clear your calendars for the week and get reading!

Week 9 - Book Recommendation

Image shows the coer of What Would Mary Berry Do.

For week 9 we have a very funny book recommendation. In What Would Mary Berry Do, Marie Dunwoody doesn't want for much in life. She has a lovely husband, three wonderful children, and a business of her own. But her cupcakes are crap. Her meringues are runny and her biscuits rock-hard. She cannot bake for toffee. Or, for that matter, make toffee. Marie can't ignore the disappointed looks any more, or continue to be shamed by neighbour and nemesis, Lucy Gray. She's had enough: this is the year it all changes. She vows to follow - to the letter - recipes from the Queen of Baking, and at all times ask, 'What would Mary Berry do?' Determined to make her family proud of her baking, Marie starts to realise that the wise words of Mary Berry can also help her with more than just a Victoria Sponge. This is a laugh-out-loud book that'll also fill the void that all lovers of the Great British Bake Off experience between series.

Week 8 - Book Recommendation

Image shows cover of Tilly & the Lost Fairy Tales

For our week 8 recommendation we have a great family read - Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales. Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer; she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But in this second book on Tilly's adventures, Tilly’s powers are put to the test when fairytales start leaking book magic and causing havoc. On a wintery visit to Paris, Tilly and her best friend Oskar bravely bookwander into the land of fairytales to find that characters are getting lost, stories are all mixed-up, and mysterious plot holes are opening without warning. Can Tilly work out who, or what, is behind the chaos so everyone gets their happily-ever-after?

Week 7 - Book Recommendation

Image shows cover of The Strawberry Thief

For our week 7 recommendation we're back in our favourite french village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and back into the magical world of Chocolat. In The Strawberry Thief, Vianne is now back living in the place that once rejected her and with Rosette, her youngest child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, and is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. Then the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - seems to herald a change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder. Faith. Secret. Magic. Murder... in the Chocolat books you can never really distinguish reality from magic, but in this book especially, the relationship between mother and daughters and the passing of time is highlighted in a truly great read.

Week 6 - Book Recommendation

Image shows the cover of The Puffin Keeper

We're half way through our 12 weeks of summer reading, and our week 6 recommendation is for our young members and our young at heart members. The Puffin Keeper is a delightful tale of a life-changing friendship, a lost puffin and a lonely artist. It was Benjamin Postlethwaite's job all his long life to make sure the light shone brightly high up in the lighthouse on Puffin Island. Not once in all his years as lighthouse keeper had he ever let his light go out. But one day Postlethwaite has to singlehandly rescue 30 people from a terrible shipwreck. One of those rescued is a young boy who recently lost his father and is travelling to live with his grandparents in Devon. Enchanted by the lighthouse keeper and the lighthouse itself, which is full of magical paintings, the boy later retraces his steps to the now defunct lighthouse and discovers a home, a friend and an artistic vocation as well as an injured puffin that together they nurse back to health. This is a heartwarming story that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

Week 5 - Book Recommendation

Image shows the cover of The Guest List

In our week 5 recommendation we've selected a modern Agatha Christie, to give us a page-turning, suspenseful read! In The Guest List by Lucey Foley, set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, a wedding celebration turns dark and deadly. As guests gather to celebrate the wedding of the handsome and charming groom (a rising television star) and the smart and ambitious bride (a magazine publisher) it's no suprise that the day has been planned down to the last details - the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. And then someone ends up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more importantly, why?

Week 4 - Book Recommendation

Image shows the cover of Future Friend by David Baddiel

In our week 4 recommendation, we're offering a great family read that might resonate a little with the situation we've found ourselves in in the last year and the phenomena that has been homeschooling and lockdown. David Baddiel asks us to imagine the year is 3020. Pip@256X#YY.3_7 is lonely and bored: she goes to virtual school on her G-Glasses, she only has a talking cat and parrot to hang out with, and she can’t even leave her LivingSpace due to the extreme heat and floods outside. Until the day that Pip explores a glowing ring in a lab and finds herself in a warehouse, in 2019.

There she meets boy-inventor Rahul – who is also lonely and bored and they strike up a friendship. But now they have a whole load of new problems, including hiding talking animals from Rahul’s parents, and finding a way back to the future. Plus – just maybe – saving the world…

Future Friend is a hugely entertaining story for adults and chidren alike. Read as a family or your over-eight-year-olds could read it on their own. It's funny, it's poignant and after a year where we've all missed other company, it highlights the importance of good friendships.

Week 3 - Book Recommendation

Image shows the cover of Summer by Ali Smith

We're hoping that the very existence of this book as our week three recommendation will encourage the Summer weather to improve! Summer by Ali Smith, is the last book in her seasonal quartet series (the others are unsurprisingly Autumn, Spring and Winter) and an obvious choice for our summer of reading. The series itself is a collection of four stand-alone novels, that are as separate but interconnected as the seasons. The theme of the series is the passing of time and the endless familiarity yet renewal that the cycle of the seasons brings. In Summer, and in the present day, Sacha knows the world's in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world's in meltdown - and the real meltdown hasn't even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they're living on borrowed time. An intriguing and thought-provoking read.

Week 2 - Book Recommendation

Image shows cover of Code Name Bananas

It's a well-known fact that David Walliams books are not just for children; us adults can enjoy a book that makes us laugh and love as much as anyone. So for all our members - young, old and somewhere in between - our week two recommendation is Code Name Bananas.

It is 1940. Britain is at war with Nazi Germany. Eleven-year-old Eric spends his days at the place that makes him most happy: London Zoo. And there’s one animal in particular he loves: Gertrude the gorilla. With bombs falling all over London, Eric must rescue Gertrude. Together with his Uncle Sid, a keeper at the zoo, the three go on the run. But while hiding out at the seaside they uncover a top-secret Nazi plot…

David Walliams has been compared to the great Roald Dahl with his ever-expanding catalogue of whizz-bang epic adventures and this one, that centres around the extraordinary friendship between a little boy and a huge gorilla, is the perfect week two read.

Week 1 - Book Recommendation

Image shows the book cover of The Way Back Home by Freya North

The Way Back Home from bestelling author Freya North is our first recommendation.

Born and brought up in an artists’ commune in Derbyshire, Oriana Taylor had freedom at her fingertips in a home full of extraordinary people. The Bedwell brothers, Malachy and Jed, shared their childhood and adolescence with Oriana. In the rambling old house and tangled grounds, their dreams and desires could run free. But too much freedom comes at a price. Something happened the summer they were fifteen. And now, having been gone eighteen years, Oriana is back.

A book with all you need for a great summer read; a beautiful house, a touch of mystery and something we all love, a twist that will send your head spinning.

How it works:

  • Members sign up to take part by completing the form below.
  • Each week on our website, Calibre will feature a suggested summer reading title. This is a suggestion only, so we can share our favourite summer reads with you. You can read any 12 books you choose as part of the challenge.
  • At the end of the 12 weeks, we ask all those who took part to send us a review of their favourite book from the 12 week challenge. This can either be a written review sent by email or an audio review called into our dedicated phone line.
  • All those who sign up to our Summer of Reading challenge will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 voucher.
  • All reviews we receive will be featured on our website after the challenge. You can choose whether to be credited for your review or not. Further instructions on leaving a review will be emailed to you once you have signed up.

12 weeks, 12 books and a summer of escaping into the pages of great stories

Calibre's Summer Reading Challenge is in support of the initiative from The Reading Agency and the Open University, who this year are continuing the reading together and reading for pleasure agenda with a new Summer of Reading campaign. This is supported by DCMS, DfE, ACE, ASCEL and Libraries Connected. The campaign's aim is to support families over the summer - sharing the joy of reading, either by starting them on their reading journey or embedding the habit of regular reading into family life.

More information: