TBR Thursday 70… plus #Woolfalong!

Episode 70


The new resolutions are well under way – which makes it surprising, if not baffling, why the TBR has actually gone up 1, to 161! Mind you, I’m writing this on Sunday – by the time your read it on Thursday, I’m sure things will be headed in the right direction… (update – Thursday: 162)

Last year I discovered that I really don’t enjoy challenges – I never succeed and hate to fail! So this year I’ve only signed up for one, so far…

The #Woolfalong


This is a read-along set up by Ali at Heavenaliread her post for more details of what’s involved. What I like about it is the relaxed feel – Ali has made it clear she’s happy for people to only do the bits that appeal to them.

I tried Virginia Woolf many years ago and wasn’t overly thrilled by her. However there’s no doubt my tastes have changed a lot since then, so this event is a good incentive to try again. I’ll be joining in with phase 1 – to read either Mrs Dalloway or To the Lighthouse during Jan/Feb 2016 – and then deciding whether to go any further depending on how I get along. And just to start the challenge off with a swing, I was a lucky winner in Ali’s generous giveaway, so am now the proud owner of…

mrs dallowayThe Blurb says “Mrs. Dalloway is a novel by Virginia Woolf that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf’s best-known novels.

Created from two short stories, Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street and the unfinished The Prime Minister, the novel addresses Clarissa’s preparations for a party she will host that evening. With an interior perspective, the story travels forwards and back in time and in and out of the characters’ minds to construct an image of Clarissa’s life and of the inter-war social structure. In October 2005, Mrs. Dalloway was included on TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.

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I must admit to also being severely tempted to join in with the Victorian Bingo Card, which I spotted on Margaret’s blog, BooksPlease, and which is hosted by Becky’s Book Reviews. To achieve this one, you only need to complete one line (horizontal, vertical or diagonal), but there’s nothing to stop you from going for the whole card! (Bwahaha! That’s why I’m psychologically unfitted to do challenges…). However, rather than trying to gear my reading towards it, I think I might do this one as a retrospective at the end of the year and see if I can complete any of the boxes…


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And meantime, here are a few more that are getting close to the top of the pile…



henry ivCourtesy of NetGalley and my favourite publisher of historical biography, Yale University Press. Part of their English Monarchs series, this is a massive tome that should keep me occupied for some weeks to come…

The Blurb says Henry IV (1399–1413), the son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, seized the English throne at the age of thirty-two from his cousin Richard II and held it until his death, aged forty-five, when he was succeeded by his son, Henry V. This comprehensive and nuanced biography restores to his rightful place a king often overlooked in favor of his illustrious progeny.

Henry faced the usual problems of usurpers: foreign wars, rebellions, and plots, as well as the ambitions and demands of the Lancastrian retainers who had helped him win the throne. By 1406 his rule was broadly established, and although he became ill shortly after this and never fully recovered, he retained ultimate power until his death. Using a wide variety of previously untapped archival materials, Chris Given-Wilson reveals a cultured, extravagant, and skeptical monarch who crushed opposition ruthlessly but never quite succeeded in satisfying the expectations of his own supporters.

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black narcissusCourtesy of Santa Claus, who gave me this and the film because, having enjoyed a few ‘books of the film’ and ‘films of the book’ last year, I’m going to do a little more of that this year. This one looks like fun, since I’ve neither read the book nor seen the film before…

The Blurb says High in the Himalayas, the old mountaintop palace shines like a jewel. Built for the General’s harem, laughter and music once floated out over the gorge. But now it sits abandoned; windswept and haunting.

The General’s son bestows the palace to the Sisters of Mary, and ‘the House of Women’, as it was once known, becomes the Convent of St Faith. Close to the heavens, the nuns feel inspired, working fervently to establish their school and hospital. But the isolation and emptiness of the mountain become increasingly unsettling, and passions long repressed emerge with tragic consequences…”

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even the deadCourtesy of NetGalley. Having loved John Banville’s writing in The Blue Guitar, I’m keen to see how it translates to crime under his pen-name Benjamin Black…

The Blurb says “Two victims – one dead, one missing. Even the Dead is a visceral, gritty and cinematic thriller from Benjamin Black. Every web has a spider sitting at the centre of it.

Pathologist Quirke is back working in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. When a body is found in a burnt-out car, Quirke is called in to verify the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming civil servant. But Quirke can’t shake a suspicion of foul play. The only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. Piecing together her disappearance, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite – secret societies and high church politics, corrupt politicians and men with money to lose. When the trail eventually leads to Quirke’s own family, the past and present collide. But crimes of the past are supposed to stay hidden, and Quirke has shaken the web.”

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the woman in blueCourtesy of NetGalley. It’s make or break time for the Ruth Galloway series. I thought the last one was frankly poor and it may be time to lay the series to rest. But I’ll give it one last chance… plus, isn’t that just such a great cover?

The Blurb saysIn the next Ruth Galloway mystery, a vision of the Virgin Mary foreshadows a string of cold-blooded murders, revealing a dark current of religious fanaticism in an old medieval town.

Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend Cathbad sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again. 

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

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I think these should start the year off brilliantly!

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

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64 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 70… plus #Woolfalong!

  1. The Woolfalong sounds interesting, FictionFan. I’m not usually one to go for a lot of challenges, either, but this one sounds a nice way to remind yourself to give an author another go. And I do like what’s on your TBR! I hope you’ll like the Benjamin Black. The Quirke series isn’t for everyone, so I’ll be interested to know what you think of it. As far as the Griffiths, I have a soft spot for her Ruth Galloway series, so I’ll probably find myself enjoying that one (haven’t got to it yet). I hope you like it.

    • Yes, I found last year that the challenges were good for getting me to read stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have done, but on the whole I prefer to just see where the wind blows me, so to speak. The Benjamin Black books look a bit violent for me, to be honest, but I loved his writing so much I thought I’d at least try one. And as you know I go up and down with the Ruth Galloway series so hopefully this one will be an up! I’m looking forward to all of these…

  2. Oh dear, it seems you didn’t let your TBR know about the resolutions, the naughty thing. Still, you are very daring with accepting a challenge and I shall be interested to see the results of the Victorian Bingo Challenge! The books don’t tempt me today which I am very pleased about as I fear I shall succumb to The Sisters Of Versailles…

    • I swear my TBR has a life of its own! And it’s out to get me…

      The #Woolfalong should be fun, especially since I can drop out without shame if I still don’t get on with her. But I’m sorely tempted by the Victorian one – and I can already tick off the Dickens! Only 24 to go… Ooh, I hope you do go for Sisters – I bet you’ll like Marie Anne best, or possibly Pauline…

  3. I want 2016 to be the year I finally read Rumer Godden, so I will look forward to hearing what you make of Black Narcissus. Also, all I know about Henry IV is from Shakespeare, so fair to say I know very little – I’m sure you will enlighten me!

    • I’ve never read anything by Rumer Godden but the blurb really appeals – and the film looks great too! Ha! You know more than me then – I don’t even think I’ve read that Shakespeare play! But since the book has about a million pages, I expect I’ll know quite a lot about him by the end… 😉

  4. You show your TBR list who’s the boss! I think I too will steer clear of joining challenges this year, although the Woolfalong does tempt me – I was planning to read a bit of her anyway, as I do every year. My plan is simply to get my outrageous TBR list a bit further down, particularly the ebooks.

    • Haha, I think my TBR knows exactly who’s boss! Yes, I like the idea of challenges more than the reality – I got really bogged down in the 20 books of summer one last year and I’ve never caught up with books for review since. I’m hoping I’ll appreciate Woolf a bit more this time round – it’s been many years since I last read anything…

  5. I like the rereading of Virginia Woolf best–maybe I’ll . . .
    But most of all, I’m still digesting that you write on SUNDAY what
    will appear on Thursday–I’m more of the write and print it! type. If I
    waited four days, I’d have edited the thing to mere scribbling. On
    the other hand, your writing is perfect and mine is scatterbrained.
    PS the Bingo is tempting–but too many dates!

    • You should! The way Ali’s set it up is good – not too much pressure and plenty of time for each stage.

      Haha! That only happens when I’ve had a long break and have built up a nice stock of reviews. It’ll wear off in a couple of weeks and I’ll be back to typing them at 3 a.m. the night before they’re due. I already have a backlog of five reviews to write…

      I’m sorely tempted by the Bingo – must resist!!

  6. The Woolfalong! That is so funny. Haha.

    Oh you must be sick of reading about English monarchs by now! Hey, Black N looks awesome! And a movie? Even better. The Woman in Blue looks really good, too. And even a bit scary.

    • If I get fed up with the book I might just read a werewolf book instead – no-one will notice, will they?

      I am rather! It seemed like a good idea at the time, till I saw how big it is. I love both those covers and blurbs – and WOB seems to think the movie is good, so I’ll blame him if it all goes horribly wrong! Yes, I’m hoping The Woman in Blue might be a bit spooky… *nudges the porpentine*

      • A werewolf book! You must. I’ve heard your fav author (Dumas) wrote one of the frist werewolf books, in fact. No vampire books, tho, FEF.

        Well, if WOB liked the movie, it’s bound to be epic. That’s what I think. He is a film fan, after all.

        • Goodness! He does too! I might even add that to the TBR, you know, you know… What have you got against vampires?

          He does like a lot of strange stuff though – but I made him only recommend films that are in English! Subtitles require far too much concentration…

          • You should! And tell me what you think of it. Oh, I don’t know. All the girls these days are into vampires. They think them romantic. A vampire! Romantic? Phooey.

            Does he seriously watch films that aren’t in English? *impressed*

            • But then my Schwarzy would probably prefer me to read The Black Tulip… *indecisive face* I thought I told you to stay away from girls!! Yeah, I’m not sure why they’ve suddenly become attractive. BTW, did you hear they’re making a film of P&P and Zombies?!

              He does! I told you my family are weird! It’s a wonder I turned out so normal…

            • Oh, The Black Tulip is soooooooooooooooo good! I try! But it doesn’t work. Me neither. I did! I’ve even seen the trailer. Looks rather good, wouldn’t you say? I got my mom P&P&Z for Christmas, ’cause she’s a huge P&P fan, can you believe. That was like revenge.

              Haha. He’s a funny guy.

            • She is?!? See, I knew there must be someone in your family with good taste! That was so mean of you – did she enjoy it? I don’t know – I haven’t seen the trailer, but I imagine it must be dreadful…

            • Almost as much as you are! Maybe more. But I don’t think she cares too much about the lake scene. I checked. *sigh of relief* Well, she was excited at first, but I think Lizio just killed one of the mean old ladies ninjas. Then she proceeded to take a bite out of the dead guy’s heart. Good stuff. Mom hates it now, I think. Haha.

            • More?! I think not, sir! Don’t make me challenge your mom to a duel!! She must be so proud that her son has grown up to resemble Darby so much, even down to the adorable little kiss-curl! *laughs lots* I hope she makes you read Emma – you deserve it!

            • A duel! I’d love to see one, the sudden. That’d be quite awesome. I could do some betting, I think. What?! He has not!! Well, mom isn’t nearly the reader that you are. I think she only likes P&P, actually. Don’t think she could get through Emma, haha. *victory*

            • *laughs* But who would you support? See? Tricky! I’d be too frightened to win in case the Three… Musketeers?… Stooges?… came rushing to her defence… Oh, he has and you know it, sir!

              But she doesn’t have to read it – just make you do it! *bigger victory*

            • I think I’d have to bet on you both to stay safe. Plus, I win either way. Such a head for business, see. *laughs* Definitely stooges. I know nothing, the sudden!

              She tried at a point in time. But I won.

            • Wuss! But a wise wuss! Perhaps you lose either way too, though… *Shnoddy-esque expression*

              A temporary victory. A wise general knows when to make a tactical retreat in order to come back stronger…

            • Ooh, are we going to be on TV? *rushes off to buy new shoes and have her hair done*

              *laughs lots* I do enjoy it when you walk into a trap of your own making…

  7. Have you read or seen The Hours, book by Michael Cunningham, because if you get bogged down in Mrs Dalloway you could just shift to a bit of that which is a sort of contemporary re-telling of Mrs D set in New York and if that fails watch the film and pretend …. I’ve begun Mrs D an embarrassing number of times and never got to the end. I start filled with enthusiasm and then sort of peter out but I love her diaries even though sometimes they can just seem like long lists of people who are visiting/teas and problems with servants!

    • Haha! I shall remember the film watching tip! I’ve seen The Hours around but kind of ignored it because of my lack of enthusiasm for Woolf. I struggled when I tried her in the past. But I’m hoping my tastes might have changed enough by now to appreciate her more – we shall see! I think it’s partly that thing of everyone knowing each other and being so name-droppy that puts me off that whole set, really…

  8. Well I have started 2016 WELL in tune with you! I’ve excitedly copied and saved that Victoria Bingo Card – as a retrospective I think – I think, if I can ever get beyond 1900 on my reading the Twentieth (and probably even more so if I get stuck reading yet another 1900, I could fill the card that way!)

    Now I loved Woolf in my twenties, who knows, it might be time for a re-read, and To The Lighthouse has some strong personal memories linked in with it, so i might even revisit it for a re-read. AND it’s on the bookshelf to

    The Rumer Godden has been on the bedside TBR for some time, I think Jane/Eden Rock might have got it there a while ago, and I loved the film

    But………..my best news is that the publicity lady has emailed me to say Flanery is in the first class post to me. I might kiss the postman. I hope he is delectable, otherwise I shall just smile fetchingly. He’ll probably back away anxiously in either case.

    • I really like the look of the Victorian Bingo – and I can already cross Dickens off! Only 24 to go! But yes, I’m definitely going to look at it retrospectively and given the hugeness of a lot of Victorian stuff I’m not expecting to reall achieve it all. Might get that 4th line though…

      I think the #Woolfalong might be more your kind of thing than mine, to be honest. Have you looked at it? There’s lots of categories other than just reading the novels, and lots of it could tie in to your own challenge, I think…

      Yes, I’m sure I read a review of it recently too – probably the same one. And the cover is great…

      Hurrah! I finished it last night but I shall keep mum till you’ve read it.

      • I’m butterflying around all over the place as this seductive blogging community sends me to get this, that and the other, not to mention how one book will pull you suddenly sideways to something else. Woolfalong COULD fit with my challenge if I could get further into the century – I keep stumbling over books I want to read but which are ahead of the year I’m on, so if I surrender and do read them I can’t allow them as part of that challenge as the sequential aspect is what interests me, seeing when themes arise, and what is happening globally.


        If you DO want to post your Flanery, don’t worry about me as I had already decided not to even LOOK at a review until I have read and finished and written my own. I’m looking forward to a journey into the unknown, and also, when I start it, it will be clear of any other reading, and entered into without distraction, so I can’t even start it the moment it arrives. It will give me opportunity to practise delayed gratification!

        • Yes, that more or less sums up why I find challenges a problem. With the GAN, I find myself attracted to one of an author’s books – like Half of a Yellow Sun, for example – but finding myself reading a different one – in this case Americanah – because it’s more GAN-ish. I just read a review of a Saul Bellow book on Goodreads which sounded great, but can’t read it until I read the one that’s on the GAN list… I’m really trying to stop tying myself up in these knots and just get back to reading for pure pleasure.

          I’m going to hold off a bit on writing my Flanery review – I’m finding my opinion of it is still developing, so I’d like to see how I feel in a week or so. I will say that I think it’s one to be read in long sessions rather than short snatches, so make sure you start it when you have plenty of time…

      • Hurrah! The postman has brought me Patrick Flanery. Fortunately for the postman I was out on my run when it happened, so he was able to live the book outside my door without either a kiss or a manic and fetching smile. I would at the very least have screamed and jumped up and down excitedly, so that postie is very lucky to have missed me

          • Wonderful cover. I stroked the book, admired the dustjacket, read the flaps and the back descriptions, and have tenderly laid it aside till I have finished and reviewed my present non-fiction read. It’s like having to be in a state of Grace before taking Holy Communion! I can’t be sullied by the powerful vestiges of any other fiction coursing through my system. I should probably do a purification by sorting out the paperwork of my last three months accounts, in order to get my imagination free of all other literary influences. Perhaps solitude and isolation on Ben Nevis are called for….

  9. Ooo. Even the Dead might hit the spot for me! I need to look for it.
    I think I might have aced that Victorian Bingo card a few years ago, though I still wish I could “unsee” the Reese Witherspoon adaptation of Vanity Fair. Ugh!!!!

    • I’m looking forward to Even the Dead, though it might be a bit more violent than I usually prefer. But I’m really inrigued to see how his style transfers to crime…

      Yes, I could probably have done it in my late teens when I voraciously devoured loads of the classics. A good excuse to revisit them. Ha! I’m pleased to say I haven’t seen that version, but I love the BBC adaptation with Natasha Little as Becky Sharp – have you seen it?

  10. I chose The Women in Blue based solely on the cover, but then I read the blurb and decided I’d never get to sleep. I primarily read before bedtime, which creates a problem for scaredy-cats. I bet Tuppence wouldn’t be scared. But I have The Blue Guitar on my TBR list, which is cool he writes crime novels under a pen-name!

    Psychologically unfit to do challenges?! hahha. I think you’re just afraid of overachieving!

    • I love that cover! The blurb does sound spooky, but to be honest Griffiths’ books are rarely scary – more likely to have too much romance than too many ghouls. Though now I think of it that could even more scary! Yes, his crime novels are well-thought of too, but they do look quite violent. I’m so intrigued to see how he adapts his writing style to crime though…

      Hahaha! The problem is I can become obsessive when failure looms, scrabbling around on the last day of the year trying to find a Victorian novel about inheritance and marriage, written by Virginia Woolf and Anthony Trollope in a previously unknown collaboration when Virginia was a precocious two-year-old…

  11. I fear Henry would put me right to sleep! “Even the Dead” and “black Narcissus” sound better, though they, too, might interfere with my sleep! Sounds like an interesting challenge, FF, and I’ve got my money on you to succeed at it!

    • Ha! He’ll probably help me to a few afternoon naps too! Yes, I think they both sound possibly great but possibly hair-raising too – I hope so! 😉 Well, I’m looking forward to trying at least one Virginia Woolf book before deciding whether to go further…

  12. I like the look of the Victorian bingo, that’s more of my type of challenge. I read a few of Runer Godden’s children books to my daughter when she was little but I’ve not tried any of her books for adults

    • I’m so tempted by the Victorian Bingo – I like the variation in the categories, and I really do want to read more classics this year. I’ve never come across Rumer Godden before – in fact, I didn’t even know the name till I started looking at which classic movies were based on books. But it sounds good…

  13. Your TBR is looking very healthy, I’d say!

    I have one of Rumer Godden’s books on my TBR list too (not that one, though), which I’ve been meaning for years. I’ve read one Benjamin Black book – Vengeance – no. 5 in his Quirke series. I enjoyed it and thought it stood well on its own, written clearly and concisely with enough back story for me to follow. I’ve been meaning to read more of the series ever since – but you know how it is…

    I’m going to do the Victorian Challenge at the end of the year retrospectively too – which is what I did with the 2015 one – it was impossible for me to do any other way as my brain couldn’t cope with all those categories! I just couldn’t decide what to read to fit the categories, so just read what I fancied first. It worked well for me that way. But I couldn’t possibly attempt the whole card!!!

    • I must say cutting back on books for review has given me space for lots of stuff that really appeals to me!

      I’ve never read anything by Rumer Godden – hadn’t really heard of her in fact. My brother recommended the film when I was looking for suggestions of films that were based on books, snd both sound good – hope so, anyway. Ah, I’m glad to hear you liked the Benjamin Black – I was worried it might be too violent for me, but I think our limits are probaby pretty similar when it comes to that. I’m really looking forward to it.

      Haha! I won’t get anywhere near the whole card either – unless I cheat and count the same book in several different categories! Martin Chuzzlewit fills about six boxes on its own. 😉 But funnily enough starting the year with a Dickens and a book about London Fog means I’ve completed two boxes already – a flying start!

  14. I may save the Victorian Bingo for later – I’m currently in bed with what the docs are calling “a flu-like virus” (this is their way of covering up that this years flu vac is useless) – and my eyes have gone out, so I can’t read or be on line much. Hope you get on with Woolfe, I never could.

    • Oh, no – I’m sorry! I wondered when you didn’t show up yesterday, but I thought I’d leave it for a bit in case you were just out. Take it easy – I’ll phone in a couple of days when hopefully you might be over the worst…

    • Oh, you should join in then! I’m hoping I might enjoy her more now – it feels like a huge gap in my reading somehow. Maybe everybody else’s reviews will keep me inspired this time round…

  15. I’ve had To the Lighthouse on my list for ages (years?) but have never read more than a couple of short pieces by Virginia Woolf. I’ve always been a little embarrassed by that, though clearly not ashamed enough to actually do the reading! I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on Mrs. Dalloway!

    • Ha! Yes, I’m always a bit ashamed to admit to not having read much Woolf too, but it’s really her fault, not mine! 😉 I’ve had one of those weekends that hasn’t allowed for much reading, but I’m hoping to get into it properly tomorrow…

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