TBR Thursday 80…

Episode 80…


The TBR has stayed steady for the week at 165 – could this be the start of the downward trend that I’m sure must be just about to begin?? Hmm… depends how many years of my life I’m willing to devote to decrypting Faulkner, the man who makes Alphabetti Spaghetti look like well-crafted prose…

Here are a few books with normal sentences that make sense that I very much hope to get to soon…



the secret poisonerCourtesy of NetGalley and my favourite factual publisher Yale University Press. This looks like a more in-depth academic book than I assumed when I requested it, and is yet another brick, but it should be interesting certainly, and hopefully enjoyable…

The Blurb says: Murder by poison alarmed, enthralled, and in many ways encapsulated the Victorian age. Linda Stratmann’s dark and splendid social history reveals the nineteenth century as a gruesome battleground where poisoners went head-to-head with authorities who strove to detect poisons, control their availability, and bring the guilty to justice. She corrects many misconceptions about particular poisons and documents how the evolution of issues such as marital rights and the legal protection of children impacted poisonings. Combining archival research with a chemist’s expertise and a novelist’s eye, Stratmann charts the era’s inexorable rise of poison cases both gruesome and sad.

* * * * *



the high mountains of portugalCourtesy of NetGalley again. I haven’t read anything by Yann Martel before, so time to try. I can’t in truth say the blurb convinces me I’ll like this one too much and it seems to be getting pretty mixed reviews, but we’ll see…

The Blurb says: In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.

Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest.

Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.

The High Mountains of Portugal—part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable—offers an exploration of love and loss.

* * * * *



mrs maybrickOn the subject of poisoners, a true crime book from the pen of Victoria Blake, who regularly visits the blog under her more casual moniker of Vicky Blake. Looks most intriguing, and it’s actually physically a lovely little book…

The Blurb says: Florence Maybrick was a 19-year-old Alabama belle when she married cotton-broker James Maybrick in 1881. She was convicted of his murder in 1889 after arsenic was found in his corpse. However, it was never established whether she administered the poison, or whether Maybrick himself, a hypochondriac who used arsenic and other tonics, took the fatal dose. Her death sentence was commuted to imprisonment and she served 15 years before her reprieve in 1903. This ‘bloody history’ tells the compelling tale of a ruined marriage and its infidelities, examining the murder, trial and controversy through Home Office files held at the National Archives and features new photographs of Mrs. Maybrick. It concludes with a bizarre twist: James Maybrick became a Jack the Ripper suspect in 1992.

* * * * *


the sans pareil mysteryNetGalley again – historical crime set in Regency London. I have no idea what to expect from this one, to be honest, never having come across the author before. I took a punt on it purely because I like the cover and the blurb. I’m pleased to see it’s getting very positive reviews though…

The Blurb says: On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances. Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.

With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they’d dared imagine—and worse, that they are at risk of becoming mere players in a master criminal’s shadowy drama. It will take all of Lavender’s skill and wit, and help from the beautiful Magdalena, to bring the mystery of the Sans Pareil Theatre to a dramatic conclusion in the final act.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

* * * * *

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


66 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 80…

  1. I’m rather intrigued by the Poisoner book – having also read a review by Cleo. I don’t really like True Crime, but this is more of a summary of cases of poisoning and public reaction to them.

    • Yes, it looks a lot more in-depth than I was expecting, but going on Cleo’s review and also on the fact that Yale books are always good quality I think it should be interesting…

  2. So….racing through all of Faulkner’s work, FictionFan? 😉 Actually, these all look really tempting to me. I’m especially drawn to the Blake and the Stratmann. Both of them look especially interesting, and in fact, I’ve had the Blake on my radar for some time. Now, don’t you dare keep you own TBR stable by sending items over to me! 😉

  3. I have to say that pretty much every one of these I find rather tempting! The only one I hesitate over is the Portugal one – I am intrigued by the mystery element but I am not a fan of stories that hop over various time frames. But the others – historical crimes! – are very much up my street! I look forward to a review on any and all, dear FF.

    • It’s the sort of magical realism element of the Portugal one that worries me – but I felt Susan would never forgive me if I didn’t go to Portugal as part of my Around the World trip! Mind you, she might never forgive me if I hate the book either…

      The others do all look good and I love the cover of the Sans Pareil one… here’s hoping! The last few books I’ve read have all been a bit meh…

      • I think Susan could forgive you not liking the book, as long as you were nice about Portugal! I just love Susan 🙂
        You are due a great read, then – but I do love the ‘meh’ reviews!

  4. The secret poisoner looks enticing.
    I saw a programme rcently about a Scottish murder trial in which they struggled to identify the poisoner of a man. Amazing that arsenic was used for medicinal purposes, for vanity by tightening the skin…they were mad back then (and I guess we still are in different ways).

    • It does, though it’s a bit chunkier and more academic than I was expecting. However, I’ve seen a positive review of it, so I’m looking forward to it! I think arsenic was still used as a medicine when I was tiny – I have a vague memory of us having some in the house, but it’s one of those memories that I’m not sure if it’s true. I hasten to add that neither my mother or father died mysteriously around that time…! 😉

  5. I’m just impressed that your TBR list has stayed steady for a whole week! I honestly don’t think I can say that mine EVER has. 🙂 (600+ titles and counting! I need help.)

  6. I’ve read the Yann Martel and is one of my favourite books of the year so far. I think you will enjoy it. I was also quite a big fan of his “Life Of Pi”, however, which I’m surprised hasn’t tempted you to date……………I think “Life Of Pi” convinced me more on a re-read, once I’d got over the suspension of disbelief bit but I think “The High Mountains” is more immediate (the second section is a little strange though…).

    • I didn’t read Pi because I really avoid stories with animals in them, even if they’re sort of metaphoric. While I can cope with endless amounts of people being fictionally slain, as soon as an animal appears my stress levels go through the roof in case something horrible happens to it! Yes, I saw your review of The High Mountains and was pleased to see a positive one. Hopefully Mountains will work better for me…

    • Ah, but I can’t – I can never bring myself to read books with animals in them. Don’t care what awful fictional things happen to people, but somehow it’s different with animals. I think that probably makes me a bad person… 😉

    • Ooh, I might do a list of 100 mountain books then, just for you!! 😉 I couldn’t read Pi because it has animals in it, and I get too stressed worrying about them. Don’t care what happens to fictional people though… *ashamed*

  7. I don’t for one moment believe your list is going to diminish. I think you are just suffering a temporary nervousness and have been avoiding reading other blogs till you get to the end of ten more sentences of Faulkner. Now I, on the other hand, was strong minded enough to just put two books into a wish list, where they are hidden from an active and obvious tbr. And the postman brought just one book today

    • Hahaha! Since I posted, two arrived from NetGalley, I’ve requested another one and something frighteningly awful has happened which may just tip me over the edge… I may post about it! Ten sentences of Faulkner is about a hundred pages! I think I’d have been better to wait for the translation…

  8. Ooo…Mrs. Maybrick! I bet she popped him off. Read that one. I”ve always thought a Chimp would make a horrible companion, since it would probably tear your arms off, you know. Ouch.

    Alphabetti Spaghetti. Now, that sounds like it’s tasty.

    • Well, he probably deserved it – most men do, you know, you know! Chimp!!! Oh dear, I didn’t spot that! I’ve just spent ages telling people I didn’t read the guy’s last book ‘cos it had animals in it. Ooh, I hope nothing bad happens to the chimp – will you please read it for me and let me know??

      Tastier than Faulkner – between him and Twain my bonfire is burning out of control! Whose idea was it to read all these American writers… *suspicious glare*

      • One day you’ll have to tell me why you’re at war with men… *nods* You didn’t spot that?! FEF, no wonder your TBR is overrun…you don’t read the blurbs! This is something. How wicked of you. SMH Chimps are so vicious. I doubt anything will happen to it. Promise.

        Americans are so funny. And a bit odd around the edges.

        • Oh, I am not! I think they’re sweet and adorable – especially Rafa! It’s just that they need to be kept in their place! *laughs* Well, you must understand I don’t have time to read all the blurbs! I’d never get around to reading the books then! You should monitor the blurbs for me and point out any I should avoid. I do hope nothing happens to the chimp…

          *nods vigorously* And weird…

          • Oh…okay. That’s a deal. Before you read a book you must check it with me. I’ll go through it a bit, rip out some pages, and whatnot. You know, otherwise make it suitable for you.

            Especially me.

            • That’s so kind of you! Especially since it means you’ll have to read them all first! I’ll send you a list of the first hundred…

              *preserves a tactful silence*

  9. Phew with my TBR on a steep trajectory path upwards, I’m very relieved to see I’ve read two of these – when you’re done we can compare poisons! I’m shutting my eyes for the Sans Pareil Mystery telling myself sternly that it might sound interesting but…

    • Have you drawn up your list of victims yet? Mine’s getting pretty long…

      Yes, it looks good doesn’t it? If it is, I shall do my best to tempt you… 😉

  10. Ever since reading The Poisoner’s Handbook (poisons in the 1920s), I am very intrigued by how people discovered and treated and used (!) poisons. Can’t wait to hear about it. And thanks for only increasing my TBR by 1 this week!

  11. The one about the theater looks most promising of this lot. Bodies, dark streets, theater, role-playing — all sound like a delightful read. And may I congratulate you on keeping your TBR manageable…while fattening mine up regularly?!?

    • Yes, I like the look of that one a lot, and it seems to be getting mostly positive reviews – fingers crossed! Haha! If only I was – three have been added since I posted this!

  12. The Poison book sounds fascinating! If you make it through the whole thing, I can’t wait to hear about it! Also the murder case of the wife who possibly poisoned her husband sounds good!
    The Martel book has been getting a lot of mixed reviews, so I’ve been afraid to read it myself, but just a few days ago I saw an excellent one. So, here’s hoping… Personally, I loved Life of Pi, but I understand your reluctance to read about animals. It is always 10x sadder when something bad happens to an animal than a person.

    • Cleo reckons some of the chemistry side is a bit tough to get through, so there may be a bit of judicious skimming, but otherwise it sounds as if it should be fascinating! And I’m looking forward to Mrs Maybrick – the two books should work quite well together, I think. Yeah, I’ve been seeing mixed reviews on the Martel too, and they’ve put me off a bit, but I’ll try to approach it with an open mind. However, after everything I’ve said about animals, someone’s just pointed out there’s a chimp in this one! I really must read blurbs more carefully… 😉

  13. The poisons one, and Mrs Maybrick quite appeal, and although I haven’t read this Martel, I loved The Life of Pi.

    • Yes, I think the poison books should be good, and I’ve started the Sans Pareil one, which is shaping up nicely. And Martel is bound to get bonus points just for not being Faulkner…

        • We seem to be factual reading twins at the moment! I must say on the whole I love Yale University Press – they’re the first publishers I look at now when it comes to factual stuff. While some of their stuff is a bit academic for me, I’ve never read anything from them that wasn’t great quality. 🙂

            • Ooh, lucky you! I still have to beg. But I do get sent the occasional hardback by them of books that don’t show up on NetGalley – if I beg hard enough… 🙂

  14. Not sure I’m tempted by any of these. Maybe I’ll go read some Faulkner. 😀 Actually, I’m reading children’s poetry right now. Here’s one for you from a book called “Bookspeak: Poems About Books” by Laura Purdie Salas:

    If A Tree Falls

    If a tree falls in the forest
    with no ear to hear its fall,
    does it make a crackling thunder
    or descend in silent sprawl?

    If a book remains unopened
    and no reader turns it page,
    does it still embrace a story
    or trap words inside a cage?

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