TBR Thursday 8…

Episode 8


This whole TBR Thursday thing was supposed to stop my list growing – so can anyone please explain why it’s now sitting at 105? And to make matters worse, this week sees the first joint-winners. Never mind, I’m sure eventually I’ll evolve so that I can read different books with each eye simultaneously, while listening to an audiobook…

The last two weeks produced a dramatic longlist of 12, but with the help of my trusty pinking shears I’ve cut that down to a shortlist of 5 (and given the pages a lovely deckle-edged finish at the same time).

Here, then, are the runners and riders in this week’s TBR Derby…

Up with the pack…


With grateful thanks to the reviewers/recommenders, here are the runners-up in this week’s contest:

the holy thiefHistorical crime set in Stalin’s Moscow…

The Little Reader Library says: “This is an exciting and atmospheric historical crime novel with an intriguing plot and well-drawn characters. Moreover, the author has chosen a fascinating setting and period as the backdrop for the novel and then captured it convincingly, adding much authentic detail but never overwhelming the reader or holding up the plot.

See the full review at The Little Reader Library


Red JoanInspired by the true case of a Soviet spy operating in Britain…

It’s a Crime! says “Red Joan is a novel that explores ambiguities, grey areas and the two sides of a coin. In plotting the course of personal development and disclosure of changing motivation Rooney creates characters with whom we sympathise whatever the next page throws up. It is also an unusual mix of spy thriller and love story as we track the life of Red Joan.

See the full review at It’s a Crime!


is this tomorrowA child goes missing in Boston of the 1950s…

Curl Up and Read says “Those times depicted in the media as peaceful were anything but, and always hovering nearby were the fears and paranoia: nuclear war, Communism, and the stigma placed on those who were different. Beneath the surface, nothing is perfect or as it seems. Is This Tomorrow: A Novel is a hauntingly poignant read.

See the full review at Curl Up and Read


Photo finishers…


an officer and a spy

Historical thriller based on the Dreyfus Affair in late 19th century France…

Lady Fancifull says “I overheard Harris being interviewed on Radio 4, talking about this ‘novel’ – except to call it a novel implies that it must be fiction. As Harris and the interviewer concurred, if someone invented the Dreyfus affair as a fiction, the writer would be castigated for having stretched credulity too far. In fact, as Harris points out, all this is documented, and researched, and is a deeply shameful part of France’s history. Except that what is even more worrying and shameful is that large scale cover-ups, the concept of obeying orders without question, systems protecting their own despite betraying principles of justice, and inherent racism are not endemic flaws peculiar to late nineteenth and early twentieth century France.

See the full review at Lady Fancifull


the devil in the white city

A true story about two men – an architect and a serial killer – at the time of the Chicago Fair in the 1890s…

History Reading Challenge says: “This book sounded so creepy that when I started my History Reading Challenge months ago, I knew I had to save it until the spookiest month of the year, October. And the “devil” of its title is definitely creepy in that over-the-top, steampunk -supervillain kind of way. His charm was preternaturally overpowering, enough so that his many victims—and, later, investigators and creditors—fell for the most flimsy excuses he bothered to offer them. He relied on his personal charisma to manipulate people and enjoyed the heady, invulnerable feeling of power it brought.

See the full review at History Reading Challenge


Two winners this week. The Dreyfus Affair was discussed in The War that Ended Peace so, when Lady Fancifull raved about An Officer and a Spy, it seemed too serendipitous to ignore. The Devil in the White City was shortlisted before on the basis of this review of LitBeetle’s and sounded just as interesting again, even if History Reading Challenge’s review is a little less enthusiastic.

I expect to read them both some time this millenium…

41 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 8…

  1. FictionFan – Oh, you did have a difficult time of it! I do wholeheartedly recommend William Ryan’s Alexei Korolev series. I hope you’ll find time for that as I think it’s quite well done. I understand all too well though the need to exercise TBR restraint. I wish I were better at it…


    • Quite often I leave a book as a runner-up because I’m fairly sure it’ll come back round – and that’s what I felt about the Ryna book. I’m sure it won’t be long before another review whets my appetite for it all over again… 🙂


  2. Now I am TERRIFIED you’ll diss it, like you did Ozeki, and I will lose all my street cred with you!

    However, I don’t think Harris will irritate your – erm – the mystical stuff button!


    • I’m confident about this one – unless of course, Dreyfus gets out of jail by time-shifting into a quantum parallel universe, dreamt up by Bismarck.

      However, I really don’t know when I’ll read it – I suspect The Cave and the Light is going to rival War and Peace for reading time. I’ve been reading it for 3 days and we’re still at about 300BC! Only two millennia left to cover…


    • It would – especially since I seem to have mastered the opposite – falling asleep while reading! But then my TBR would be managebale, and what would I worry about then?


    • Oh Jilanne – if you know any literary scientists please please convince them that the ‘reading while we sleep app’ would be a crucial, sanity and space saving project which could have Nobel prize winning applications!

      Thanks to the wretched, WRETCHED Fan-of-Fiction’s blog, I have either directly (or indirectly, from following links to other blogs) bought 6 books this week. Real books, rather than ebooks due to massive price difference from second hand books (I love second hand books, the faint sussurations of OTHER LIVES in the pages). The wobbly pile grows ever higher.


      • Yes, I am with you. You both are going to be the death of me. The headline reads: “Woman killed in avalanche of books in her home.”

        And it’s also the case that when I walk into my neighborhood bookstore, the owner says, “Jil, the Booker was announced three hours ago. I have a copy of Luminaries sitting here for you. It’s the only copy in the store. I’ve got more on order, but this one’s for you.” You all are accessories to the crime!


        • As punishment for your lack of willpower, please prepare a brief review of The Luminaries at an early date – I haven’t made up my mind about it yet and there’s been an odd shortage of reviews from people I know and trust. (I gave up trusting random Amazon reviews nearly as long ago as I gave up trusting the Booker judges…)


          • Luminaries is quite hefty, and I just finished buying 9 books in the past few days as part of LitQuake in San Francisco. It’s a nine-day orgy of authors and readings. Over 800 authors in fact. I’ll be writing a post or two about it, but for now suffice to say I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Excuse me, I’ve got to get to reading….


            • Now if you had managed to put all those 800 authors into stasis for a decade, we might all have had a chance to catch up…

              Yes, it’s the sheer length of Luminaries that makes me want to see a review or two before taking the plunge. It does sound very intriguing though…


      • Is it my fault if you have no self-discipline, madam? Unlike myself who, as you know, has an iron will when it comes to book-acquiring…

        I’m actually thinking of setting up a bookshop – I reckon that even if you are my only ever customer I’d make a fortune… 😉


  3. A great list, I think. The Devil in the White City sounds awesome. Can’t wait for your review on that, for sure. Such a creepy story!

    The professor would love to see you evolve into that. How neat would that be?


  4. These all look interesting. I would probably have read the Harris without your endorsement – I have read all his others, but I shall keep an eye out for the rest.


  5. You have come up with a lovely idea here. And a lovely way to share reviews you have found. I wonder if that would work for me, just picking one book from a list that I had found. My TBR is huge. Very huge.


    • Thank you! But I should warn you that it hasn’t helped at all! My list is still growing exponentially. But it’s fun to do, and I really appreciate all the great reviews around the blogosphere even if I’ll never have time to read a fraction of the books…


  6. FF – I just HAD to buy my fellow photo-finisher, didn’t I????????? As a fan of Caleb Carr it piqued my ‘this might be another cold wet winter read’ – when Shirley Jackson lets me go that is – have just bought SJ no 3 as I don’t want to leave her world, and am shiveringly entranced now by Hill House. She is like reading a box of bitter chocolates of surprising flavour combinations which work quite magnificently.


    • No, you didn’t!!!! You’re going to have to move into a castle yourself soon to accomodate the books. But you could help reduce my TBR if you could produce abridged versions of all these books once you’ve read them, thus leaving me time to concentrate on The Cave (5 days and still at 200BC!).


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