TBR Thursday 57…

Episode 57


The TBR remains steady at 135! And I’m still reading all the same books as I was reading this time last week – oops! Summer reading slump seems to have started early. Which is odd, since summer itself seems to have forgotten to arrive…

Anyway, here are a few that should make it to the top of the heap soon – a nice, light selection to fit round tennis season…



heath robinson's great warCourtesy of the Bodleian Library. I know about Heath Robinson’s crazy contraption cartoons but don’t think I’ve ever actually seen any. I thought this would a nice palate-cleanser after several recent weighty reads on WW1.

The Blurb says Heath Robinson (1872–1944) is Britain’s “Gadget King”—master of the art of creating madcap contraptions that made use of ropes, weights, and pulleys to perform relatively simple tasks, from wart removal to peeling potatoes. Although he trained as a painter and also worked as a book illustrator, Robinson developed his forte with drawings of gadgets that parodied the absurdities of modern life. A true cartoonist, Robinson had a way of getting at the heart of the matter while simultaneously satirizing it mercilessly. He became a household name in Britain, and his popularity continues today with plans to build a museum in London to share with a new generation the story of his life and work.

With Heath Robinson’s Great War, the cartoonist lampoons the German army and the hardships of war. What better antidote to the threat of popular German propaganda than drawings of the “Huns” disabling the British army not with mustard gas but laughing gas? In high demand among British civilians, Robinson’s WWI panels also provided respite to thousands of troops—many of whom sent the cartoonist letters suggesting future subjects or simply expressing their appreciation. 

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capital crimes london mysteriesCourtesy of NetGalley. I’ve got a couple of these collection of detective stories edited by Martin Edwards coming up. I’ve already peeked into this one for a Tuesday ‘Tec post and it looks like it’ll be fun and interesting…

The Blurb says “With its fascinating mix of people – rich and poor, British and foreign, worthy and suspicious – London is a city where anything can happen. The possibilities for criminals and for the crime writer are endless. London has been home to many of fiction’s finest detectives, and the setting for mystery novels and short stories of the highest quality. Capital Crimes is an eclectic collection of London-based crime stories, blending the familiar with the unexpected in a way that reflects the personality of the city. Alongside classics by Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley and Thomas Burke are excellent and unusual stories by authors who are far less well known. The stories give a flavour of how writers have tackled crime in London over the span of more than half a century. Their contributions range from an early serial-killer thriller set on the London Underground and horrific vignettes to cerebral whodunits. What they have in common is an atmospheric London setting, and enduring value as entertainment. Each story is introduced by the editor, Martin Edwards, who sheds light on the authors’ lives and the background to their writing. ”

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the lion the witch and the wardrobeI always enjoy listening to books I know well, read by good narrators. All seven of the Narnia books are available in this series from Harper, each with a different narrator, including such stars as Derek Jacobi, Patrick Stewart and Kenneth Branagh! This first one is narrated by Michael York, another actor with a lovely voice. I’ll be listening in order of publication, rather than the chronology of the stories.

The Blurb says “It’s a magic wardrobe. There’s a wood inside it, and it’s snowing! Come and see,” begged Lucy.

Lucy has stumbled upon a marvellous land of fauns and centaurs, nymphs and talking animals. But soon she discovers that it is ruled by the cruel White Witch, and can only be freed by Aslan, the great Lion, and four children.

In the never-ending war between good and evil, The Chronicles of Narnia set the stage for battles of epic proportions. Some take place in vast fields, where the forces of light and darkness clash. But other battles occur within the small chambers of the heart and are equally decisive.

Journeys to the ends of the world, fantastic creatures, betrayals, heroic deeds, and friendships won and lost, all come together in an unforgettable world of magic. So let the adventures begin.

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time of deathCourtesy of NetGalley. I read and enjoyed the first few of the Tom Thorne books and then lost track of the series. Time to renew an old acquaintance…

The Blurb saysThe astonishing thirteenth Tom Thorne novel is a story of kidnapping, the tabloid press, and a frightening case of mistaken identity.

Tom Thorne is on holiday with his girlfriend DS Helen Weeks, when two girls are abducted in Helen’s home town. When a body is discovered and a man is arrested, Helen recognizes the suspect’s wife as an old school-friend and returns home for the first time in twenty-five years to lend her support. As his partner faces up to a past she has tried desperately to forget and a media storm engulfs the town, Thorne becomes convinced that, despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, the police have got the wrong man. There is still an extremely clever and killer on the loose and a missing girl who Thorne believes might still be alive.”

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NB All blurbs taken from NetGalley or Goodreads.

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

70 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 57…

  1. You’ve got some good ‘uns there, FictionFan. I plump for the Edwards, as I’m pretty sure you’ll have a very satisfying read with that. And I’ve heard the Billingham is good, too. If you read that, I’ll be keen to know what you think. I see that you have the Lewis on audio. I know a lot of people who swear by audio books, and I have a few myself. It’s such an interesting way to experience a book. And I think it can be especially effective for some reads. Have to think about that…

    • These collections are great for discovering ‘new’ classic authors who had disappeared a bit by the time I was reading Golden Age detective novels. And I find the introductions interesting too. I don’t listen to as many audiobooks as I used to when I was doing a lot of driving, but I do enjoy hearing how narrators interpret books I know well. This series has some fantastic actors doing the narration – should be fun!

  2. I’m possibly more interested in your header change…………..why no chocco locco if you are going sweeties rather than landscape………..if you put up some chocolate it will make me look more often, not to mention, drool……..though perhaps that is what you are after avoiding, fellow bloggers coming to visit and salivating all over the virtual furniture. I bet Stalin needs an overdose of fruit chews!

    • Haha! I am merely refighting the American War of Independence – only this time we won! A certain Yankee Doodle Dandy declared that you don’t get green Starbursts, but the camera never lies! At least, my camera doesn’t, since I haven’t mastered photoshopping. But perhaps I may start a series of confectionary based headers – what a brilliant excuse to buy lots of choccies!

  3. I don’t really ‘do’ audio books, and when I had a long drive a few weeks back, I was thinking how useful and amusing that could have been if I’d had a book to listen to. Mind you, I’ve read all of Narnia aloud twice now – with my mother when I was a child (I was reading to her, her English was not so good) and with my children a couple of years back.

    • I don’t listen to many now that I don’t drive as much as I did, but I love listening to how actors interpret books I know well. They don’t require as much concentration as trying to listen to a ‘new’ book, and this series has some great actors.

  4. Nice! Tell me how you like The Horse and His Boy. I’d jump to listen to that, I think.

    135! I think you should cut all but 10. Think of it like this: The apocalypse has struck, and you have to flee into the mountains, you can only carry 10 books with you, so…which ones?

    • At the rate I listen to audiobooks, it’ll be ages before I get to The Horse and His Boy, but then I shall find out whether you call me Aravis as a compliment or an insult, sir!

      10!!! Oh, no! Life would be unbearable! But if you flee into the mountains with me, you could carry all the rest – and a couple of hundred more of my all time favourites. Don’t forget to pack Bleak House!

      • I only really listen to audiobooks when I drive long distance – which I haven’t been doing much of either, recently. I have been plugging them in my ears when I come home after night shift and the roofers start an hour later – I drift off. Capital Crimes looks, well, capital, as does the new Mark Billingham. Both of which are on my TBR. And you’ve cheered me up by mentioning tennis – it’s not too long now!

        • I usually only listen for a bit before bed now, so it takes me ages to get through a book – another reason I really prefer to listen to books I already know. I think the French Open must be next week…

      • Yes, you’ll have to let me know about that. I won’t tell you what I think about Aravis personally either!

        *laughs* No! I’d have to carry the sword and the guns (1911 Spartan) and the food and the…water! You’d only be allowed…five books!

        • *gasps* You hate her, don’t you?! Here I’ve been thinking it’s a compliment all this time and it’s actually an insult!!

          Five?!?! Well… it’d have to be the 5 longest Dickens books then. And in the evenings, once you’ve made the fire, cooked the meal and tidied up the cave, you can read them to me… *unloads the gun in case the Prof is considering either suicide or murder at this point* Oh that reminds me! We must also take your desk so you’ve got something to bang your head on! *smiles kindly*

          • Hmm….well, I wouldn’t say that at all. But maybe it’s better you think on that, see.

            I’ll put them…in your book bag and you can carry them! But, FEF, that’s if a cave can be found. You just might have to sleep in the rain…and eat…squirrels! *laughs* Okay, but you’ll have to carry it!

            • Humph-noodles to you, Tash! *sticks out tongue*

              Hold on! I seem to be carrying everything now! I think you’ve misunderstood my position on feminism, sir! If there’s no cave, then you’ll just have to build a hut before nightfall! Oooh, I couldn’t eat a fluffy squirrel! You’ll just have to farm the land and we can live on fresh fruits and vegetables. Bring some cans to see us through till the first harvest. Oh, and bring ice-lollies in case it’s warm.

  5. I want them all! I love Heath Robinson and his contraptions, so that looks interesting. Both crime ones look great (I never tire of London-based miscreants) and who doesn’t love a bit of Nania? Also – those Starburst look yum.

    • Yes, I think Heath Robinson should be more fun than Stalin! There’s a few of these detective collections coming out over the summer – great for finding ‘new’ classic authors who’re not as well known as they used to be. Haha! The Starburst photo is part of an ongoing trans-Atlantic war over whether you get green ones… Britain won for once!

    • It does! I’d love to try out some other themes but the new ones are all pretty much the same as each other, I find, and don’t have good indexing. Though I’m not sure anybody actually uses my indexes, but I’ve invested so much time in them I can’t bear to let them go!

        • Because mine are ‘buit-in’ rather than a page like yours, they don’t show up so well in the stats. I get loads of views to the ‘home-page/archive’ which is where my indexes show up but no way of telling what they look at.

  6. I use your indexes! I am in the process of adding “pages” as not clever enough to know how to build in – should have asked you before I started down this path. Anyway- the Billingham – we both have and should be good The audio – does sound intriguing -what great narrators. I love the idea of lollies/chocolates for your headers…you do have some yummy chocolate bars in the UK that aren’t always available over here that visitors to the UK have occasionally bought back me back.

    • Hurray! I can’t take the credit for the ‘built-in’ indexes – this theme does them automatically based on which Categories you use. That’s why I’d find it so hard to move – and this theme has now been discontinued, so eventually I guess they’ll stop supporting it and I’ll have to find another one. The way you and LF are doing it is more work, but it does allow you to change themes if you want.

      Yes, I’m looking forward to the Billingham, I think – I can’t remember why I stopped reading him in the past. I think I just forgot about him. And the Narnia audios should be good fun – I need something that doesn’t require concentration with the big tennis tournaments on the way.

      I can feel a serious chocolate binge coming on… 😉

        • It’ll probably just become second nature after a while. And it will definitely help people to find their way around. When I look at a new blog, I always check their indexes to see if they like the same kind of books as me before I decide whether to follow them.

          French Open starts this weekend… (more Rafa pics, probably!)

  7. I’ve read all of the Narnia books multiple times what with reading them to school students to my own three sweet off-spring. I was a young adult before I ever even heard of CS. I gave my hard back set to my middle child since my eldest has most of her books on her Fire and gets rid of them when she is done. One school I taught in many years ago decided that since there were witches and magic that it was verboten. *shrug* I resigned that year (and would have even if I was not leaving the country). A good number of my students of that year petitioned their parents to buy the books so they could read them for themselves. I’m still trying to figure out if it was a victory or not. I also read Lewis’ “Space” Trilogy. Interesting, but not as good as Narnia.

    Also, if you are handing out candy, I would like Chocolate Covered Cherries, please.

    • I read them a million times as a kid and teenager, but it’s been ages. I’m hoping reading them as an adult doesn’t ruin my memories of them. It’s unbelievable the books some places ban. Given the strong Christian message of these ones especially, the school must have been run by nutcases! But I feel the same about Harry Potter – they may be full of witches, wizards and magic but fundamentally they’re about the battle of good and evil, and the reader is on the side of good. Never understood why they were frowned on either. I tried Lewis’ space trilogy several years ago but didn’t get past the first book – from memory I found them dull…

      Keep your hands off my chocolates!!!

      • Yes, nutcase is a good start. I’ve kept in touch with some of the kids I taught there via FB, and a good many of them were abused both physically and emotionally. Some of their ilk gave me grief when I read Harry Potter and watched the movies. And I see those the same way that you do.

        Yes, CS did not do the job on the Space Trilogy that he did on Narnia. I got involved because I was taking a class about modern fantasy literature and I had to read the second book. The third of the trilogy was uber weird. I’ve read quite of his stuff, actually. But once was enough, thank you very much.

        Did you not learn sharing when you were small?

        • We’re going the same route over here now. All our state schools used to follow the same curriculum and have the same booklists, but now the government has let anybody set up schools, whatever their agenda. It’s worrying…

          I’ve never tackled any of his more serious stuff – they don’t appeal much. I think I’ll stick to Narnia!

          As the youngest of four, I wasn’t given a choice… *sobs and grips her choccies tightly*

          • Over this side of the pond they have really destroyed what was once a good educational road in this country. A friend’s son had his yearly testing and gave the right answer but the answer key indicated another answer. The teacher insisted that he was wrong because the key had a different answer. The teacher insisted that since it was on the answer key it had to be the right answer. It took some time, but child’s parents eventually were able to carry their point. I was boggled.

            *takes out her junior mints and lets them melt on her tongue*

            • Yeah, I hate that kids are educated to give the ‘right answer’ these days. Fair enough in maths and science, but arts subjects should be about teaching kids to think for themselves. But then that was the same back in the dark ages when I was at school. A friend and I were once penalised for writing an essay on a book that was ‘too old’ for our age range. Even with a penalty deduction we both got over 80% on our essays – suggests maybe it wasn’t too old for us after all!

              *eats a purple Starburst*

            • I had somewhat of a similar situation when I was 7. I finished my reading work and picked up a book I had borrowed from the school library. When my teacher came down the row, she looked at my book, and then at me. Then she asked me to visit her desk and asked me to read it aloud. I obliged her. She asked me if I understood what I was reading. I showed her that I did. Apparently I had picked up a book from the shelves meant for fifth grade students and I was only in second grade. She also wrote things on my report card like, “Susan daydreams to much.”

    • Susan, sorry to jump in on FF’s chat – but you are a woman after my own heart…or not, as we would fight over the last one – dark chocolate, fresh (not glace) cherries IN ALCOHOL. Faints with pleasure, my absolute faves. I can see that you, Fiction Fan and myself would be meeting, crossed chocolate cherries at dawn, sparing no mercy to race to the last one in the box

  8. Love all the Narnia books, though I’ve never listened to them on audio. And that blurb for Time of Death sounds most interesting. I so admire you for making an actual TBR list, FF. I have a very loose idea of books I’d like to read, but actually setting them down on a list would, I’m afraid, make me feel like a failure, ha!

    • Me too, though I haven’t read them for years. But I couldn’t resist the audio versions because of the fantastic line-up of narrators. I only do it (keep a TBR list, that is) because I get sent so many books for review and have to try to review them around publication date if I can. It’s got advantages and disadvantages – I tend to let my time get filled up with things I must read and forget to leave gaps for impulse reading and re-reading, which I love. I’m constantly trying to change that balance… without much success so far!

  9. Thank goodness you’re back today! I was worried over that backward skipping you were going to attempt. New challenge: 1 of the 135 TBR books must be read backwards. And it can’t be a crime novel!

    • I posted from my hospital bed – I should get a lot of reading done while three of my limbs are in traction! Fortunately, my Kindle-turning thumb was undamaged. You should have mentioned that it’s not something to attempt without a rearview mirror while playing near a river… *spits out inquisitive tadpole*

      Haha! Maybe I’ll listen to the audio-book backwards…

  10. I can’t believe your TBR is only 135 books! Seriously, mine is likely 1,135 or 11,135. LOL. I’d be interested in reading the Mark Billingham book – well, once I read the ones that come before this one. By the way, reading all the new blogs I’ve found has not helped my TBR. LOL

    • Haha! That’s only the actual TBR – the ones I am definitely going to read soonish. Then there’s the wishlist, the books on the Kindle I still haven’t read, the list of ones I’ve seen on blog reviews but haven’t yet decided which list to put them on, the four piles of unread books in the spare room, and I won’t mention the bedside cabinet. Or the audiobooks I’ve downloaded for ‘later’. I think of it as an iceberg – you only see the top bit but you still know it’s dangerous underneath… 😉

  11. I go away for a couple of days and you change your header to opal fruits! or Starburst as they are known now – one way to make my mouth water and then you add to that a great selection. I want to read the Edwards too and I’m reading (and enjoying) the Billingham at the moment and I never tire of Narnia 😉

    • Haha! I’m having a battle with a strange American person who doesn’t believe there are green Starbursts – I win, I think! It’s funny how we all remember that ad – I was singing it all day yesterday. 😉

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Billingham – I seem to be stuck at the moment but hoping to get to it soon. And these collections of detective stories look like fun – and nice light reading for a change!

  12. These all sound good, but I particularly fancy the Heath Robinson. I always felt the world would be a better place if I had some of his inventions. I’d like to be able to turn him loose on computers, for instance, probably involving something with hammers.

        • Oh dear! It’s not all that old either, is it? They really don’t seem to last very long – built-in obsolescence, as Dad used to say every time a lightbulb conked out. Good luck!

          • The problem was I didn’t buy a laptop with enough memory. The new one has 8 megabytes and added something or other (probably fairy-dust) which I am assured will serve my purposes. I have threatened the shop with death and destruction if it doesn’t, so…….. Breathe deeply, and relax….. 🙂

  13. A few thoughts and reminiscences on books on tape. I used to have to do a lot of driving, from court to court, and sometimes to other locales, three or four hours away. I don’t know what I would have done had it not been for books on tape. I listened to some great classics, but did find that it was somewhat difficult to listen to every word from a great writer like Fitzgerald or Nabokov, and not risk having an accident because I did not want to miss any nuance. I tried one Henry James story, with page-long sentences, and I simply could not follow all the clauses and simultaneously watch the road.

    I actually found that the most enjoyable books to listen to were Agatha Christie mysteries, or Graham Greene novels. One reading I particularly recommend is Martin Jarvis doing “The Third Man.” David Suchet did a wonderful job reading some Poirots, but stopped doing them. His reading of “Death on the Nile” is wonderful, as is “Sad Cypress.” William Dufris did a great, if somewhat flamboyant, job with the Dashiell Hammett novels. I bought dozens of books on tape, but when I stopped having to drive so much, they remained piled up as TBLT 🙂 A bit coincidentally, the one I listen to at night sometimes is one (I hope the first one) in one of Jessica Stirling’s trilogies, read by Vivien Heilbron. I bought it just because I was so charmed by her and her voice in an old “Mystery” series of “The Moonstone.” which I had recently watched. She does the Scottish accents wonderfully!

    A few years ago, I listened to Elliott Gould read Raymond Chandler’s “Farewell My Lovely.” I like Gould as an actor pretty well, but his reading was not all that good. I finished listening to this book while driving to see an afternoon movie. I got in line, and who should be in front of me but Elliott Gould. I had never met him before; I said hello, and told him that I had just finished listening to him reading FML. “Oh, did you enjoy it?” he asked. Of course I said yes, even though I had told someone about an hour before that I could certainly have read this book aloud better than Elliott Gould.

    • I used to do a lot of driving too but even then I found it easier to listen to books I already knew – I’d suddenly find I was having to change lanes unexpectedly and miss a crucial plot point! I love Suchet’s Poirot readings, and also Joan Hickson’s readings of Miss Marple. She doesn’t ‘act’ the parts, but she has the perfect voice and accent for these books. I also adore Jonathan Cecil’s reading of the Jeeves and Wooster books – he’s just brilliant at them! They’re my go to readings for when I need serious cheering up and have run out of chocolate… 😉

      On the other hand, I had to abandon Beloved, not because I wasn’t enjoying the book, but because the reading was driving me crazy. Toni Morrison did the narration herself, in a kind of sorrowing monotone, and it really made me realise how much a good actor can bring even to a straight narration. Martin Jarvis is one of the best narrators – I must get hold of The Third Man. I love Graham Greene and it’s been too long since I revisited him.

      Haha! Great story! Yes, it would have seemed unkind somehow to tell him the truth – little white lies come in handy sometimes…

      • Yes, I should have mentioned Joan Hickson. One Sunday night I had to drive about 200 miles for a morning appearance, since I couldn’t have gotten up early enough to have driven that distance from where I live. Driving in the dark through unfamiliar surroundings was not much fun, but listening to Ms. Hickson’s reading of that engrossing story made it more than tolerable. And somehow I remember that story so well, perhaps because of it

        I much agree that the ability of the reader is crucial to enjoying a book on tape. I have listened to about five or six Graham Greene novels on tape, as he is one of my favorite authors. The person who read “This Gun For Hire,” and “Confidential Agent” was very good. I was excited to find an audio copy of “Brighton Rock,” but I thought the reading was so “off,” that I could not listen to more than ten minutes of it before giving up. Yes, one should try to listen to a sample first! And I also agree that if one doesn’t need to drive a great deal, one is less apt to listen for long periods to a book on tape. However, it is a rather special experience to be able to listen to a book; not look at it; not watch something on a television screen. The Victorians (at least the nicer ones) used to read to one another in the evening, and there is something sweet and intimate about that. I have always enjoyed reading aloud, or being read to.

        • That’s the good thing about downloads as opposed to discs – you can usually get to hear a sample before you buy. I’m lucky enough to get audiobooks for review before they’re published sometimes, but I’ve had to explain to them that they need to tell me who the narrator is, not just the book title and author, before I decide whether to take them. I think the whole audiobook thing is becoming more mainstream now – I’ve seen so many more really top actors being willing to do it. One of the highlights of last year was Meryl Streep’s recording of Toibin’s ‘Testament of Mary’. And, as a huge Dickens fan, of course Patrick Stewart’s ‘Christmas Carol’ is a Christmas regular for me.

          The one I’m listening to at the moment is a newish approach – it’s half-narrated and half-performed, with a main narrator and then different actors to do the dialogue, complete with sound effects and music linking the chapters. The concept is brilliant, I think – unfortunately the books they’ve done it with so far are fairly average, but it’s something I’m hoping might catch on.

    • Haha! Sometimes when I try to work out where all the wires behind the TV/cable/Blu-ray/stereo/router go, and more importantly where they SHOULD go, I wonder if Heath Robinson’s had a hand in it…

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