TBR Thursday 39…

The People’s Choice 4…The Result!


Excitingly, the voting has once again resulted in a tie for first place! The Professor and the Madman sounds like a great read. But since I’m up to my eyes in factual books at the moment and since the spooky season will soon be upon us, I’m giving the casting vote to…

the haunting of hill house

The BlurbFirst published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.


Thanks to all who voted, and to Cathy at 746 Books for the review that brought this book to my attention.

Now all I have to do is find time to read it…


And here’s a few more that should be rising to the top of the pile soon…



joan of arc

Courtesy of NetGalley, heading away from British and American history for a bit…

The BlurbWe all know the story of Joan of Arc. A peasant girl who hears voices from God. A warrior leading an army to victory, in an age that believes women cannot fight. The Maid of Orleans, and the saviour of France. Burned at the stake as a heretic at the age of just nineteen. Five hundred years later, a saint. Her case was heard in court twice over. One trial, in 1431, condemned her; the other, twenty-five years after her death, cleared her name. In the transcripts, we hear first-hand testimony from Joan, her family and her friends: a rare survival from the medieval world. What could be more revealing? But all is not as simple as it seems, because this is a life told backwards, in hindsight – a story already shaped by the knowledge of what Joan would become.

In Joan of Arc: A History, Helen Castor tells this gripping story afresh: forwards, not backwards, setting this extraordinary girl within her extraordinary world where no one – not Joan herself, nor the people around her, princes, bishops, soldiers or peasants – knew what would happen next.


* * * * *



the beat goes onPublication today, it will be interesting to see how the Grand Old Man of Tartan Noir fares in short story format…

The BlurbOver the years, Ian Rankin has amassed an incredible portfolio of short stories. Published in crime magazines, composed for events, broadcast on radio, they all share the best qualities of his phenomenally popular Rebus novels.

Brought together for the first time, and including brand new material, this is the ultimate Rebus short-story collection and a must-have book for crime lovers and for Ian’s millions of fans alike.

No Rankin aficionado can go without it.


* * * * *



nora webster

From NetGalley again, towards the end of the dreariest year I can remember for new literary fiction, here’s hoping Colm Tóibín can lift the standard…

The BlurbSet in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself.


* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

68 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 39…

  1. Dreariest year you can remember for literary fiction? Oh, dear… you’ve had a bad run. Although maybe I haven’t been focusing so much on the latest publications, so that’s why I haven’t noticed…


    • Yes, I’ve read loads of great older books but most of the new publications I’ve read have been pretty mediocre. I’ll struggle to do a ‘Best of’ this year. Crime’s been good though…and lots of delicious quirky stuff, like Manga P&P and Gaiman graphic novels…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would read the one about Joan of Arc. She has always fascinated me, probably because I am a bit mystically leaning my self and have wondered if I could/would be up for that sort of gig..


  3. Well, I’m glad you’re reading The Haunting of Hill House. That sounds like it will be a good one. “The Professor is the Madman”–I was interested in that one, too.

    And I’ve always been interested in Joan. You’ll have to tell me all about it. And if it’s true or not.


    • Yes, I think it should be great. I’d like to read both but I’m stacked up with factual stuff at the moment…maybe someday…

      I will tell you all about it, but I fear I will have no idea if it’s true – I know almost nothing about her. But I’m hoping to pick up some tips for being a great warrioress…


        • You’re just jealous! It’s going down a bit at the moment – I’m being very strong-willed…

          That’s just a rumour put about by men – I bet she was kickass!


            • No, it’s my iron willpower – why does no-one ever believe that? A bit, but it’s still unusually warm for the time of year. You?

              Oh, so brave to laugh! Wait till Joanie’s taught me all the moves, mister – you won’t be laughing then! Anyway it was Marian who was the real brains of that little gang…


            • I believe you! It’s getting rather cool here… Very cloudy as of late. It’s like in the 50’s here.

              Well, I’d be safe even if FEF did become more dangerous, since we’re buddies. Marian? She was a myth!


            • Yes, it’s low 50s here too. That’s about my favoourite temperature, to be honest.

              Ah, but which of you am I talking to? ‘Cos remember I’m only buddies with one of you.


  4. FictionFan – Oh, I am looking forward to hearing what you think about the Jackson. And as to your other options? Can’t help it; my eye was immediately drawn to the Rankin collection…


  5. I look forward to your review of Haunting of Hill House—it’s playing at our little
    community theater currently! Don’t dare go see it! and, I’d vote for Colm Toibin–
    I liked “Brooklyn” very much —(after I had finished it and thought about it)


    • 😆 I’ll try not to… it should be a great read for this season though.

      I liked Brooklyn a lot too, and like you probably after I’d had time to think about it more than when I was actually reading it. And I loved The Testament of Mary. This one sounds like it’ll be really emotional – must have a box of tissues ready…


  6. Oooh Ian Rankin, excellent. I love his stuff. By the way, I have just finished The Naming Of Jack The Ripper. He puts a good case, as do most of the authors who focus so intently on one suspect. But he does seem to have done some very balanced research and the science behind it is very convincing. It would not be enough to stand up in a court of law, probably, but it may well be the closest we get to knowing the truth. As a ‘Ripperologist’ and researcher I cannot fault the chap at all, he has done some excellent work. As a writer, he is adequate, at best – although some of the passages relating to the murders and the victims are quite immersive and you can tell he is really passionate about the subject. Just started The Monogram Murders – so far, it does seem to be beautifully written. But I’m not ‘feeling’ Poirot, not yet…


    • I’m a huge Rankin fan – he’s on my must-read-on-day-of-publication list. So far, it’s looking good…

      Interesting. I may have to read it at some point. It’s a shame about the writing, but if the research and so on is good, then it can make up for less than stellar writing. I wonder if someone will pick it up and do a fictionalised TV thingy with the new suspect… might be fun.

      *chuckles wickedly* Yes, I seem to remember I started out thinking it wasn’t too bad too… please keep me informed! It’s been one of my most popular reviews on Amazon – never a good sign. Usually negative reviews get slammed by all the fans, but…not this time! Enjoy! 😉


      • We have quite similar taste in authors, it seems! 😀

        It might work reasonably well as a TV drama, although actually I found the background of the Ripper a little dull for a crazed serial killer. The lives of the police involved in the case and those of the victims and their families are much more interesting. It would be quite good to see the story told from those points of views, actually.

        Oh, don’t – I shall be soooo upset if I don’t get on with the new Poirot character. I am already missing Hastings desperately. I will keep you informed 😉


    • It’s funny how these old books suddenly get a surge, isn’t it? The power of the blogosphere! I read her ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ last year and thought it was brilliant, so really looking forward to this one…


  7. I want to read all of these. I heard Helen Castor speak earlier in the year on a platform to do with women who have refused to stay quiet. She was impressive.


    • I’m really glad you highlighted it, ‘cos I think I’ll probably love it. 😀

      Yes, I love Toibin too – I went through several of his books after being blown away by The Testament of Mary a couple of years ago – he’s a fantastically emotional writer. I shall have a box of tissues to hand…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Now this WILL NOT DO! Your blog readers tied you to TWO. (And I was hoping, against hope that somehow we might have managed to do a tie of all of them!

    The Jackson IS superb though.

    I’ve personally had a great lit-ficyear, what with..Rebecca Mascull, Philip Hensher, Anthony Doerr, Sarah Moss, and even David Mitchell with a flawed new one still hitting most of the targets. but none of them (except possibly the Mitchell) seem to have had a lot of marketing/publicity thrown their way. Interestingly, they have all had some historical perspective, with 3 of them involving more than one period of history. Which may not be of any interest at all, but is a sudden fact which has just struck me.


    • But…but…I just can’t…!!!

      Yes, I think the difference is that you enjoy history via fiction while, probably because I read so much factual history, I really prefer contemporary lit-fic. I’ve found most of what I’ve read this year has been historical and packed full of research at the expense often of the humanity – and it’s really the ‘human condition’ aspect of fiction I read for. Now Toibin probably will be sort of historical but it’ll (hopefully) be primarily about the people rather than stuffed full of facts…

      But also there’s a limit to how many books each of us can read so it’s always going to be a bit of a lottery as to whether we happen on ones that work for us. That’s why the classics are fun – you can usually be sure there’ll be something about them that makes them worth reading. I may stop reading new releases from new-to-me authors for a while and wait till I can see other people’s reviews.


      • That’s a really good point you make, about the fact you read a lot of factual history books. The authors and books I have cited are I believe wearing their research lightly, because its always the humanity which will make something work or not work for me. If its just fact stuffing I lose interest. And that’s probably precisely why I get my history from lit-fic writers a lot (rather than put the effort into history delivered on its own). i.e. laziness, I think!. I’m always wanting someone to give me the sweetness of a story to disguise the medicine of fact. Though I have to say I’m not in general a fan of the ‘historical fiction genre’ , which is why it was with some surprise that I realised that all these that I flagged had historical settings


        • I quite like historical crime occasionally, but even that genre is becoming too full of researched facts at the expense of plot sometimes. But I think my disappointing year has also been affected by me reading several Indian authors, thinking I’d enjoy them because I loved Adiga and Choudhury. But I am concluding I simply don’t like the style of the stuff that’s being written about India in general – they all seem steeped in hopeless misery. But that’s a bit of a spoiler for tomorrow’s rip. Oops, review, I mean! 😉


          • I’m a fan of hopeless misery books as long as there is at least the possibility of a snowdrop (or a painting of a Goldfinch) to show what might be redemptive. A glimmer of dawn even if no noonday sun.

            I look forward to the rip.!!


  9. I do hope you enjoy The Haunting of Hill House FF and don’t regret following the readers choice and adding both books 😉 I exercised my strong willpower and resisted Nora Webster so I’m hoping your review won’t make me regret it otherwise I’ll be back to requesting every book on NG for all eternity!


    • I am NOT adding both books and you and Lady Fancifull can’t make me! So there!! 😉

      I’m being very restrained at the moment but I couldn’t resist the Toibin – I love his writing. I will be doing my best to send you off to click that button…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I LOVED Testament of Mary, of course, which YOU insisted I read, but found Brooklyn enjoyable, but it didn’t touch the parts T O M did, so, at the moment, the Toibin isn’t turning the Kindle to 116 TBRs.


        • I didn’t think Brooklyn was as powerful as TOM, but it’s still all there in my mind – which is highly unusual. And I enjoyed The Blackwater Lightship too… if this one is good, I shall be doing my best to tempt you.

          The Mantel is turning out to be jolly spiffing, by the way. Surprising in her subject matter, to me at least, but then I’ve only read her Cromwell books.


  10. Oh dear – all of these sound good. We must be related! I’m sure you will enjoy “the Hill”; I loved it when I read it a LONG time ago.


  11. Actually they all sound like possibilities. But I’ve never read the Hill House book and would want to for historical purposes. Ha ha, not that Joan of Arc isn’t better history. But you know what I mean!


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