TBR Thursday 23…

Episode 23 – The People’s Choice…again…


The old TBR list is down to a just-about-bearable 95 this week, so I need your help again in deciding which of the delectable temptations from around the blogosphere deserves that coveted spot as no. 96.

Are you up to the challenge? Here’s my shortlist – an eclectic bunch, I think you’ll agree. So which is it to be? The winner will be announced next Thursday…

With my usual grateful thanks to all the reviewers who’ve intrigued and inspired me over the last few weeks, here are:

The Contenders…


finding soutbekThe Blurb – The focal point of the novel is the small town of Soutbek. Its troubles, hardships and corruption, but also its kindness, strong community and friendships, are introduced to us in a series of stories about intriguingly interlinked relationships. Contemporary Soutbek is still a divided town – the upper town destitute, and the lower town rich, largely ignorant – and through a series of vivid scenes, the troubled relationship between Pieter Fortuin, the town’s first coloured mayor, and his wife Anna is revealed.

Verity says: “This is a story about people, impoverished people and people trying to break free from the bonds of impoverishment. It is a story about a forgotten people who are trying their best to live in small towns on the outskirts of urban life in contemporary South Africa but where change has not yet arrived and where poverty threatens to extinguish them before it does.

See the full review at Lilolia


the phantom tollboothThe BlurbMilo mopes in black ink sketches, until he assembles a tollbooth and drives through. He jumps to the island of Conclusions. But brothers King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis war over words and numbers. Joined by ticking watchdog Tock and adult-size Humbug, Milo rescues the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason, and learns to enjoy life. (Seriously – that’s really the blurb!)

Vishy says The Phantom Tollbooth is a story that can be read by children of all ages, whether one is eight or eighty. When I was halfway through the book, I thought that I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it as a child, but now after having finished it, I think that though I would have enjoyed the story and the wordplay as a child, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate some of the above references and the depth of some of the insights as much. I think readers of different ages will enjoy the book in different ways. “

See the full review at Vishy’s Blog


the jewel in the crownThe BlurbThe Jewel in the Crown opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for independence. On the night after the Indian Congress Party votes to support Gandhi, riots break out and an ambitious police sergeant arrests a young Indian for the alleged rape of the woman they both love. (I have no idea why I’ve never read this…)

Beth says: “I particularly enjoyed Daphne’s own journal entries where we find out her secret, and see just how destructive an Anglo-Indian rift can be, especially when an innocent man is accused of a crime he did not commit, purely because it seems impossible to some that two young people of different colours can be lovers.

See the full review at Bibliobeth


children of the revolutionThe Blurb – A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot. The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early ’70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye – for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet . . .

Bill says: This is a Police Procedural, but since it takes place in northern England, near Yorkshire, it has a different feel than an American PP. It is more thoughtful, slower-paced without any intense, thriller-type scenes that many PPs set in the U.S. have. There is a psychological and philosophical component to the story that raises it above most PPs.”

See the full review at Bill’s Book Reviews


so brilliantly cleverThe BlurbOn June 22, 1954, in the depth of a southern winter, teenage friends Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a park with Pauline’s mother. Half an hour later the girls returned alone. Honorah Parker lay in a sea of blood on a lonely track. She had been savagely murdered. In this mesmerising book, lawyer and true crime writer Peter Graham tells the whole story for the first time, giving a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial, dramatic revelations about the fate of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker after their release from prison and their strange lives today, and a penetrating insight into the crime using modern psychology.

Lucy B says: His ability to be removed and balanced about the case without appearing callous elevates So Brilliantly Clever above the sensationalist pulp seen in so many true-crime books. Yes Hulme and Parker are murderers, but they have a back-story, a life. They are human too. His intelligent account of the murder trial and the attempted defense of insanity (used in the Parker/Hulme case) under British law makes for fascinating reading. This could be attributed to Grahram’s substantial experience as a barrister in Hong Kong.”

See the full review at Bibliopotamus’ Book Reviews


NB All blurbs are taken from Goodreads.

So…which should I read? Choose just one or as many as you like – the book with most votes will be this week’s winner…

Hope you pick a good one! 😉

103 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 23…

  1. Ooh! The Phantom Toolbooth! Why of course that’s the blurb. What could make more sense?

    This one is often compared to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass however I found it much more palatable and not nearly as abstract. I have read this at least four times and it never ceases to delight me. Although it might not have the same effect on one who hasn’t “grown up with it,” so to speak.


  2. I love your poll! What a good idea! Although I’m sure you know how I voted, I have to say I was torn as So Brilliantly Clever looks really good!


  3. Ooh you are a cunning and a trusting one, tempting us to further spend without spending yourself.

    And trusting because we could all decide to vote for the one which seems least likely to appeal to you (does demand some knowledge of what you might be wanting to read right at this moment!)

    Anyway, as I am not in a marvellous mood due to just finishing a book which i think has been oversold (sighs) and were it not a Vine I could have got away with abandoning it, unreviewed. It it were Netgalley i could have emailed to explain why it wouldn’t BE reviewed and i would have abandoned it earlier. So I had hours of irritation…………

    So………at the moment, for fiction, I am most interested in known familiar, which on first read I found excellent, so I’m sending you off to one I have already read……….BUT as you did say ‘as many as you like’ there is also another which looks interesting and the review is excellent too, tempting indeed. (I’m sure they are all excellent reviews, but I only went to look at the ones were the blurb called)

    What we should probably do to Mindmangle you is all vote for every one giving you 5 to add in one swell foop, increasing your TBR by 5 at a stroke (laughs evilly)

    I did have one very stupid moment whereby I wondered why you were recommending 5 books with different dustjackets which were all called The Blurb.


    • Ah, but I can’t lose, because they only get onto the shortlist if I’d be happy to read them…and I find it fascinating and totally unpredictable to see what people vote for. I really assumed the crime books would always win…

      Yep, I’m afraid I wouldn’t take a book from Vine now unless I was pretty sure about it – no more speculative reads. I’m afraid the new rules have put me off completely – I hate the thirty day deadline too. How dare they… (complete rant of your own choice here…)?!?

      Were you able to vote for more than one then? Last time I think it was set up wrong and people couldn’t vote for two, but I hoped I’d got it right this time. (I’m betting you went for Jewel and Soutbek…)


      • You know me sooooooo well, I did do both those votes. Well funnily enough (re Vine) I HAVE been taking a careful punt on various Vines (often from Harvest) and have been doing very well, reads I have recommended. THIS one went wrong as someone I’m often in agreement with praised it highly so I thought i was safe. I think it is probably just one of those that you either appreciate or don’t appreciate the writer’s voice, and I didn’t, so sadly my review reflected the resentment of reading where I would rather have consigned it to the reject pile, nuff said by saying nuffin.

        Lots of quite sensible reviewers seem to be praising it, but either I’m not one of the praisers, (I’m not) or not one of the sensible reviewers.

        Anyway, happily reading a bought book at the moment about various writers, including Greene, in London in the Blitz. – A factual book looking at the influence of the war on their books. So its working that sour mood on a forced read out of my system


        • I’ve just started an 850 page biography of Roy Jenkins so I’m expected to be plunged into deepest depression and wallowing self-pity any time now (though actually I think it’s looking very readable so far…) Every book on my list at the moment is HUGE – as a result I’m reading as much as I ever do and yet hardly ever seem to be getting to the end of a book. I’m going to run out of reviews again shortly…I may have to start reviewing comics. So no books for me tonight, however tempting…


          • Suspect someone in the house-brick industry has combined books with house-bricks are targetting those who might have a building project as customers – read it then use it for a dividing wall.

            My re-reading is doing rather well as quite a lot of those writers seem to have written slim volumes (was paper rationed? printing ink?)


  4. “So Brilliantly Clever” is a good one, for sure! (I think, that is.) I mean, look at those scary faces on the front. It might be good for Tuesday Terror, maybe.

    Of course that’s the blurb for The Phantom Tollbooth, dadblameit! It’s a very…creative book. You may like it, but I bet not.


    • Yes, it looks good! But then, they all look good to me. Did you ever see the film about them – Heavenly Creatures?

      Ooh, another book you’ve read and I haven’t! From the blurb I’d have thought it was purely for kids and that I’d hate it, but Vishy’s review made it sound suitable for…er…the more mature reader too…


        • (Such a c&a image of you there – awwww!) Well…I liked it, but I really doubt if it would be the Professor’s kind of thing. Too slow…

          Yes, but the PL isn’t fantasy! It’s reality!! I suspect you might be right but looks like we’re going to find out – it’s galloping ahead in the polls. *wide-eyed with amazement*


  5. I chose “So Brilliantly Clever” as I was tempted by that on NetGalley and I would be interested to read your thoughts on the book.


    • I must have missed it on NetGalley. ‘cos it’s the kind of thing I’d have gone for normally. But I’ve been trying to cut back on NG books till I catch up with some stuff I’ve been wanting to read for ages. The voting is very close so far… 😉


  6. The Robinson is great but if you haven’t read the other books in the series then I would recommend going back and working your way through them all. But however good that book is if there is ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ on the list then there can be no contenders. Just remember that once you’ve read that you will want to read the other three books in the series to find out what happens to all his wonderful characters.


    • Hmm…I think you’ve just tried to add another 25 books to my TBR! But I refuse, I tell you! No!!! I can’t believe I haven’t read ‘The Jewel in the Crown’. I think I must always have assumed I already had and it was only when I read Bibliobeth’s review that I realised it wasn’t ringing bells. (So between you and me, even if it doesn’t win the poll, I suspect it may sneak on to the TBR one day soon anyway…)


      • Did you see the televised version that came out about twenty-five years ago? If not, you really must get hold of the DVDs. It was one of the best serialisations ever done.


        • Again, I feel I ought to have done because especially back then I wouldn’t have missed one of these big book serialisations…and yet, I don’t remember it either. I shall pop off to Amazon and see if it’s still available – thanks!


        • Aah, now, suddenly when I look at the picture on the front of the box-set it all begins to come back…I’m sure I did watch this at the time and I begin to remember the story a bit. What a cast! Thanks again for pointing me in this direction… 😀


  7. The Phantom Tollbooth is great fun to read. I loved it as a child and re-visited it a few years ago. It was still a pleasure in my…erm…older age, but I suspect it held even greater magic for me since I’d read it so much as a kid. Either way, whether it’s new to you or not, I think it’s delightful.


    • Everyone seems to know this book except me! Either it’s a US/UK divide or…*gulp*…it’s an age thing…no! It can’t be that!! 😉

      Thanks for voting – so far it’s well in the lead…


      • I’m not sure when the book was popular (which is fortunate for both of us, since we’ll never know if it was an age thing!). I picked it up as a child — never having heard of it — but I’d most likely worked my way through half the children’s room at the library by then and just needed to find something I hadn’t gotten my hands on yet. 🙂


        • I think most of the children’s books I read were quite old even when I was reading them – the classics – Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, all that sort of stuff. I don’t really remember reading much contemporary children’s fiction – don’t really know why. Maybe it was just that the books the library had were all ancient…


      • It has more to do with my son. He loves cats, and Erin Hunter came out with another Warriors series, so he went all in on those. I think they’re too formulaic, but like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, kids love them. I loved them when I was a kid. We will get back to Tollbooth because I was definitely enjoying it.


    • I like the sound of it too, but it’s not doing too well in the poll at the moment… 😦

      You’ll have to read and review it and then it can get a second chance… 😉


  8. Well, I voted for Phantom Tollbooth because it’s just a brilliantly clever little book that everyone should read. However, it’s a children’s book, and not terribly long, and you’ll read it super fast, so what you should REALLY do is add both it AND the second-place book to your list… just think as Phantom Tollbooth as a freebie! 😀


  9. I’ve read the Phantom Tollbooth when I was homeschooling my kids. We all enjoyed it. And I watched the BBC (at least I assume it was them) the Jewel in the Crown. Not the same as reading of course, but very interesting just the same.


    • Everyone seems to have read this book except me! Just as well it’s going to win the vote really…unless a miracle happens. I love these old serialisations – I don’t think the modern ones are nearly as good usually. I’m sure I saw that one when it was on TV too, but I think I’ll have to get hold of a copy and watch it again…


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