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The 12 Challenge – 2023

Hey everyone!

Most of you will have seen the 12 Challenge floating around on social media, but for those of you who haven’t, let me explain. The 12 Challenge is to read 12 books that are recommended by 12 friends in 12 months. I did this challenge in 2022 and did an AWFUL job, but this year I pan to do a lot better!

There is a lovely little template to use, created by @lucidalumina over on Twitter, which you can see below.


My 12 Challenge:

After posting the template on my Twitter page, and asking for recommendations (thank you to everyone who replied with their recommendations), here is my completed template with the books that I was given:


The Books:

  • In The Blink of An Eye by Jo Callaghan
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

‘THE MOST ORIGINAL CRIME NOVEL YOU’LL READ THIS YEAR’ CLARE MACKINTOSH 
‘THIS HAS TO BE A STRONG CONTENDER FOR CRIME DEBUT OF THE YEAR’ T. M. LOGAN
In the UK, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds.
Just gone. Vanished. In the blink of an eye. 

DCS Kat Frank knows all about loss. A widowed single mother, Kat is a cop who trusts her instincts. Picked to lead a pilot programme that has her paired with AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock, Kat’s instincts come up against Lock’s logic. But when the two missing person’s cold cases they are reviewing suddenly become active, Lock is the only one who can help Kat when the case gets personal. 

AI versus human experience. 
Logic versus instinct.
With lives on the line can the pair work together before someone else becomes another statistic? 

In the Blink of an Eye is a dazzling debut from an exciting new voice and asks us what we think it means to be human


  • Little Girl Screams by Al E. Boy and F. Carod
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

Absolutely nothing can compare to the Hotel Amatista, Cancun’s premier luxury resort. The jewel in her family’s chain of 5 star hotels, Sofia Hernández is in charge, and the young woman takes great pride when she hears guests remark the hotel makes them feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s been happening lately, Young guests vanish, only to turn up the next day…abused, tortured…and dead. Sofia suddenly has her hands full dealing with police investigations, trying to ease her guests’ fears, and doing her best to save the Amatista’s reputation. And, with no way of knowing if the sadistic culprit is a hotel employee or a guest, stopping the killings will be no easy task. With the help of Dale Mathis, a visiting English professor, she is able to thwart further abductions and murders, but her interference draw the ire of the sinister mastermind who decides Sofia must pay for her boldness. To make matters even worse, her new friend becomes the number one suspect of the Cancun police.


  • Mr Jones by Alex Woolf
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

Ben hears noises in his basement and witnesses weird goings-on in his local park. His eight-year-old daughter Imogen starts receiving messages from someone claiming to be her missing mother. And then there is Mr Jones —the man who haunts the imaginations of the children at Imogen’s school. But they are just stories, surely? Ben soon develops a creeping suspicion that someone is out to kidnap his daughter. Are his fears real or a result of his own stress-induced paranoia?

Alex Woolf’s psychological thriller explores loss, fear and an overwhelming desire to keep those we love safe from harm.


  • Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

STEVEN HARDING IS A HANDSOME, WELL-RESPECTED PROFESSOR.

ELLIE MASTERSON IS A WIDE-EYED YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENT.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday together: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from prying eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .


  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

Rock Paper Scissors is the latest exciting domestic thriller from the queen of the killer twist, New York Times bestselling author Alice Feeney.


  • The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

This story is far from over – and it won’t have a happy ending.


  • The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.

Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.

The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah’s friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place.

She never returns.

2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

‘DIG HERE’ . . .

A cold case, an abandoned mansion, family trauma and dark secrets lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s remarkable new novel.


  • True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.

She was never seen again.

Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies.

Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.

Zoe Nolan may be missing presumed dead, but her story is only just beginning.


  • Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.


  • She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles; an accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China.

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.


  • The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…

In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.


  • The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven
PURCHASE HERE (affiliate link): Amazon UK

GoodReads Synopsis:

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive…


Have you read any of these books?
If yes, what did you think?

Let me know in the comments!


Disclaimer: My posts often include affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission for any purchase made through my links, but with no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me and my blog.


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