TBR Thursday 19…

Episode 19


Proud as Punch to announce that the TBR has fallen to its lowest level in months – 96! I hereby declare myself the Queen of Self-Control and am patting my own back while performing a happy dance…not easy, I can tell you. So before I do myself an injury, I’ll take a break and share a few of the upcoming highlights…

Courtesy of NetGalley:

By Its CoverThis will be my first introduction to Donna Leon and her detective Commissario Guido Brunetti…

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem—the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist. As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent years reading at the library turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty.


WolfAnd another first for me, though it’s no. 7 in the Jack Caffery series…

I believe, from what I can hear, that either my daughter or my wife has just been attacked. I don’t know the outcome. The house is silent.

Fourteen years ago two teenage lovers were brutally murdered in a patch of remote woodland. The prime suspect confessed to the crimes and was imprisoned.

Now, one family is still trying to put the memory of the killings behind them. But at their isolated hilltop house . . . the nightmare is about to return.


The Counter-Revolution of 1776Hmm…an interesting argument, but will he convince me?

The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then residing in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with London. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne complements his earlier celebrated Negro Comrades of the Crown, by showing that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt. In the prelude to 1776, more and more Africans were joining the British military, and anti-slavery sentiments were deepening throughout Britain. And in the Caribbean, rebellious Africans were chasing Europeans to the mainland. Unlike their counterparts in London, the European colonists overwhelmingly associated enslaved Africans with subversion and hostility to the status quo. For European colonists, the major threat to security in North America was a foreign invasion combined with an insurrection of the enslaved. And as 1776 approached, London-imposed abolition throughout the colonies was a very real and threatening possibility—a possibility the founding fathers feared could bring the slave rebellions of Jamaica and Antigua to the thirteen colonies. To forestall it, they went to war.


Just published:


Roy JenkinsRoy Jenkins was a huge political figure in my youth. Though I never liked him (arrogant and pompous are the words which spring to mind), there’s no arguing that he was one of the most influential leaders of a generation…as well as being a major figure in the Labour party during the 60s and 70s, held responsible by some for the development of ‘the permissive society’, he was the major figure in the split that led to the formation of the SDLP, thus creating the conditions that led to Tony Blair and New Labour and which have subsequently allowed the Liberal Party to finally get their feet under the Cabinet table.

On top of all this, Jenkins was a compulsive writer whose twenty-three books included best-selling biographies of Asquith, Gladstone and Churchill. As Chancellor of Oxford University he was the embodiment of the liberal establishment with a genius for friendship who knew and cultivated everyone who mattered in the overlapping worlds of politics, literature, diplomacy and academia; he also had many close women friends and enjoyed an unconventional private life. His biography is the story of an exceptionally well-filled and well-rounded life.


And finally…


the luminariesThe winner of the 2013 Booker, and the only one of the shortlist I haven’t read yet. 900 pages – I hope it’s good!

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bus, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.

* * * * *

All blurbs are taken from NetGalley or Goodreads.

I have no idea when I’ll actually get time to read some of these massive tomes, but hey! At least I won’t be complaining about having nothing to read…

Whaddya think? Any of these take your fancy?

58 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 19…

  1. Well, after his having written so many books, it is nice to see that finally someone has written a biography of Roy Jenkins. I have read parts of his biography of Churchill and liked it. He says that Churchill was the greatest prime minister Great Britain ever had and it must have taken a lot for a Labour Party politician to say that. I also love the fact that Eleanor Catton’s book is there on your ‘TBR’ list. I will look forward to finding out which one you choose to read. Congratulations on lowering the height of your TBR pile 🙂

    • Yes, I read his biography of Gladstone years ago – there’s no doubt he was an intelligent man and a great biographer. I’ll be interested to see if this book makes me like him any better. Oh, sadly, all five of these are on the TBR, though it might take me a few months to get through them all. The Jenkins biography is massive, and so’s the Catton! The TBR list is getting shorter but the books are getting longer…

    • Hehe! So do mine sometimes! But I’m determined to get it under control so I don’t feel so pressurised to meet publishing deadlines. The Donna Leon does look good – I don’t know why I’ve never read any of her stuff before.

  2. First, congrats on the TBR! (I suppose poor Twain was kicked off…) And that happy dance sounds like something I might try.

    Did you notice that the first one seems to have me in it? That was very odd. And the last one…900 pages! You’re a brave lady, FEF!

    The second one is my favorite!

    • No, no, Twain’s still there – twice (IA and Pudd’nhead Wilson, and there still A Connecticut Yankee to add sometime) but he’s been severely bumped down the priority list for a while! I suspect the Professor would be great at happy dancing…

      *chuckling* Yes! A mysterious American Professor who may or may not exist and destroys books? How could I possibly resist?? I must admit the thought of 900 pages makes me feel quite faint, but the biography of Jenkins is even longer!

      Really? I thought the colonial uprising one might appeal to you. The Mo Hayder is supposed to be very good though…

      • Yucketh! Throw Wilson out and put Yankee in! Now!! But I won’t be happy dancing when you rip HF!

        That is so strange. I think I should file a suit or something. I’m copyrighted, you know. Still, that monster book will only take you…a week!

        Na! And look at the author’s name…Mo….now who could resist that? (And then it says Wolf and there’s a deer on the front–what dadblamery!)

        • Ooooh, the professor’s so cute and adorable when he’s being masterful! But BUS said I was to read Pudd’nhead – hmm! Now I have to decide which of you I’m more scared of…Huh! After your abominable treatment of my Jane you deserve it, sir!

          You should! I do hope he’s not the victim though – and if he is, I hope it’s not too gory! *fearful face* Reports of my reading speed have been greatly exaggerated…

          Na? *chuckles* Well, that was decisive! (Perhaps the wolf ate the deer…it certainly doesn’t look very well…)

          • What’s masterful like? Definitely listen to the professor…I’m sweeter. 🙂 But someone has to do it. If Darby wasn’t in P&P you wouldn’t like Austen!

            The professor only kills people nicely, you know. That doesn’t count for worms. lol lol A Twain in you yet, FEF, huh?

            It was! The professor can be like that at times. 🙂 (No, it doesn’t… I wanna read it!)

            • (The Professor is using smileys!)

              Like Darby! *sighs* That’s true, you are sweeter. But she might be scarier. Can’t I ignore both Yankee and Pudd’nhead meantime and go with IA? Yes, I would! Darby is just…the icing on the cake…

              Tickle them to death? People that is – not worms. *smiles*

              Very cool! (I’ll add it to your TBR then – but below The Martian…)

          • No no! I quite. Suddenly.

            The professor is horribly wicked! Yes, I like that idea. Lost my dadblame copy. I’m in war with the house, I think.

            Tickles? Na. That’s boring, isn’t it?

            (No, no! How long is my TBR, btw?)

  3. Congratulations on your TBR spring-cleaning!
    If it’s your first introduction to Donna Leon and Brunetti, then I would not start with By Its Cover, as I feel it is not quite as engaging as some of the other books in the series. Far better to start with an earlier one: Death at La Fenice is the first, but if you want to know some of my personal favourites of the series, I recommend: Acqua Alta, Fatal Remedies and Suffer the Little Children.
    I love Mo Hayder, and am looking forward to reading Wolf myself very shortly.
    And at some point I will embark upon The Luminaries as well.
    So perhaps I cannot help you decide, as I would go for all…

    • Thanks – I’m feeling very proud! 😉

      Ah, that’s a pity about By Its Cover. It’s a review copy so I really have to read it fairly soon, but I’ll bear in mind your comments and go back to some of the earlier ones if this one doesn’t completely blow me away. I wish I could get organised enough to read these series in order…

      I’ve been putting off The Luminaries for ages just because of the sheer length of it, but it does look good. I read the first 50 pages or so a while back and really liked her style. It’s just managing to find the time…

  4. FictionFan – First, well-done on that TBR list! I am impressed! I wish I had that self-control. And I really do like your choices this time. I do hope you’ll like the Donna Leon series; I think it’s terrific. And The Luminaries too? Yes, you’re in for some real treats.

    • Ah, have you read ‘The Luminaries’ then? There have been very few reviews of it floating round the blogosphere – the length is putting lots of people off I suspect – but the reviews I’ve seen have been very positive. I like the sound of the Donna Leon series a lot, so looking forward to that one. 🙂

  5. I look forward to your take on the one about the “real” reason for the American Revolution, as we call it. Sounds delightfully subversive.

    One thing the Booker committee can do to assure I won’t read their winner is pick one that’s 900 pages long. Sorry, that’s not a book, that’s a life’s work . . . for the reader. Besides, now that anyone can win the prize, I’m just not all the interested.

    • It does sound…interesting – and his previous book got loads of good reviews for his writing style, so I’m intrigued…

      I know – 900 pages is ridiculous (especially since I haven’t fully recovered from The Goldfinch yet). But I decided to read the whole shortlist this year, a thing I’ve never done before – and quite probably will never do again! But to be fair I’ve really enjoyed all but two of them and even those two weren’t terrible, though I found it hard to believe they were amongst the best. Like you, I think my interest in the Booker will be much less now it’s open – I used to like that it introduced to me to writers from around the Commonwealth. Oh well!

  6. The Luminaries is still on my tbr list. I simply haven’t had time to devote to a book of that length since the Christmas break when I read the equally long ‘The Goldfinch’. Maybe over Easter.

    • I’m the same – it’s been sitting on my Kindle for months. At least that means that when I finally do get around to it I won’t end up with sprained wrists though…

  7. Just a question, have you ever actually complained about having nothing to read? For once I haven’t read any on your list although I have flirted with adding The Luminaires to my list… I like that your self control has reduced your TBR to under 100 🙂

    • Hahaha! I feel I used to years ago…when books were dear and nobody gave me free ones. But it’s been a while!

      I know – I’m very proud! I expect it’ll be back up over the 100 any time now though… 😉

      • I think half the reason I hoard books is for the ‘just in case I run out’ but realistically I could probably manage quite some time and still have plenty of variety without any more – I keep mine on so many different lists that I don’t have to face the truth – congratulations for today 😉

        • Yes, I’m the same, but I must admit I used to enjoy re-reading books too and I never seem to have time for that now – partly that’s why I really want to get the TBR under control and take fewer books for review. It becomes almost like a job if we’re not careful…

  8. My hubby has read many Donna Leon books. I think he’s no longer reading those now, but he enjoyed those. I doubt he’d read The Luminaries. He’s got a page limit, lol.

    • Glad to hear he enjoyed them – a positive endorsement is always good! I must admit most of the reviews I’ve seen of them have been positive. Haha! A page limit sounds like a good idea – I wish I had the willpower!

  9. Hmm The fact that I have held OFF The Luminaries because though i enjoyed it i had some reservations about her much shorter First Novel, – a little too cleverly stylistic, games playing, probably means you will hoover it up like cake with squeaks of joy.

    I think I might just let you get through this one before i think about it at all, as some of the odd feedback I’ve heard seemed to come down on the side of my opinion about The Rehearsal.

    Hope your six inch stilettos aren’t giving you gyp. Not TOO long to wait now…………..

    I’ve just had my hair coloured, styled, and am holding off the choccy to make sure I can get into the skintight leopard skin look lycra party frock, and just polishing the bling……………..

    • Yes, several people have commented on her playing with form in this one too. I read the first 50 pages or so a couple of months ago and it looked like I would enjoy her writing style though – so long as it doesn’t get too tricksy. We shall see!

      You’re such a tease! It can’t be long now ‘cos it’s definitely due in March…I’m going for the full-skirted Come Dancing look so that should hide any amount of choccy…and cake!

  10. Whoo! I like Donna Leon, and I’m pretty sure you will too, though I haven’t read this one yet. I shall definitely read the 1776 one – living where I do, in the city which was the first in Britain to declare that “there’s nae sclaves (sic) in Dundee”, and which therefore became a haven for any slave who could reach the city nearly a hundred years before slavery was abolished elsewhere, I am always interested in other people’s take on slavery. And the Jenkins biography is a must – oh dear! You have GOT to stop reviewing such interesting books.

    • Yes, the Donna Leon looks very much like the kind of thing I enjoy – don’t know why I’ve missed her up to now. The slavery one seems to tie in well with all my recent reading about both the Enlightenment and the American Revolution, so if he writes as well as the reviews of his previous book suggest it should be a good read. The Jenkins biography is indeed a must…but it’s also very, very, VERY long! I’m hoping half of it is made up of notes!

      Phew! Between that and The Luminaries I may have to go back into purdah soon…

    • I keep meaning to ask if you’ve read it yet? I think I remember you saying you’d got it a few months back? It’s so long I just find it difficult to bring myself to start it, but hopefully within the next few weeks…

      • I’m still smarting from dedicating myself to The Goldfinch. I can’t bring myself to start another huge tome at the moment. I’ll wait for you to get started. Perhaps you could give a report after a 100 pages or so?

        • 😆 So…I’m the canary being sent down the mine, am I? I did read the first 50 pages or so a couple of months ago and liked her writing style, so I’m fairly hopeful. It also felt like one of those books that might be reasonably easy to read fairly quickly, sort of easy-flowing if you know what I mean, which may mean it doesn’t feel like quite such a brick as the dreaded bird book…but 50 pages isn’t really enough to judge properly in a book of this length. And I’ve seen some reviews that suggest she’s been a bit tricksy stylistically – which I may hate!

  11. Good news on the TBR front. I’m tackling my own pile and finding it hard to stop myself buying. I’ve never red any Leon but this one sounds good. As for Luminaries, I got it from the library when it was short listed but I didn’t know it was so long and since I knew I wd never finish it within the 3 week loan period, back it went unopened.

    • It’s NetGalley that’s the killer for me. The books I buy and really want to read end up left sitting while I constantly try to meet reviewing deadlines. It has to stop! But I’m doing a bit better this year than last.

      I know, Luminaries is ridiculously long. I wonder how many people who would have read it have been put off by the length? I hope it’s not part of a trend for Booker novels.

  12. Thought about reading the luminaries but have come to no decision….Ill wait to hear what you think before I tackle it 🙂

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