TBR Thursday 85…

Episode 85…

And for the third week in a row, the TBR is stuck on 165. It’s not so much that books are being added this time, though, as that my reading has begun to drop off as it always does when the summer tennis season begins to build up. Somehow my mind just doesn’t seem to be on books…
Rafa Nadal Doha

Erm…what was I saying? Oh, yes – books! Well, here are some of the ones that are getting close to the top of the heap…


douglas macarthurI know nothing about Douglas MacArthur and generally speaking wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested in a biography of a US general. But this one is written by the fabulous Arthur Herman, whose previous books on philosophy, the Scottish Enlightenment and Gandhi and Churchill I have loved, so if anyone can interest me in MacArthur, I bet Herman can! Courtesy of NetGalley…

The Blurb says: Douglas MacArthur was arguably the last American public figure to be worshipped unreservedly as a national hero, the last military figure to conjure up the romantic stirrings once evoked by George Armstrong Custer and Robert E. Lee. But he was also one of America’s most divisive figures, a man whose entire career was steeped in controversy. Was he an avatar or an anachronism, a brilliant strategist or a vainglorious mountebank? Drawing on a wealth of new sources, Arthur Herman delivers a powerhouse biography that peels back the layers of myth—both good and bad—and exposes the marrow of the man beneath.

* * * * *


exposureCourtesy of NetGalley. I’ve seen several very positive reviews of this around the blogosphere, plus I have to admit I love the cover a lot!

The Blurb says: London, November, 1960: the Cold War is at its height. Spy fever fills the newspapers, and the political establishment knows how and where to bury its secrets. When a highly sensitive file goes missing, Simon Callington is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested. His wife, Lily, suspects that his imprisonment is part of a cover-up, and that more powerful men than Simon will do anything to prevent their own downfall. She knows that she too is in danger, and must fight to protect her children. But what she does not realise is that Simon has hidden vital truths about his past, and may be found guilty of another crime that carries with it an even greater penalty.

* * * * *


daisy in chainsFabulous title, fabulous cover, fabulous Sharon Bolton! Fabulous! Strange blurb though… Courtesy of NetGalley again. I love NetGalley…

The Blurb says: Famous killers have fan clubs.

Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, Hamish Wolfe gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

* * * * *

the widow bartonThis one is Cleo’s fault – it was her review that sent me scuttling off to… you’ve guessed it… NetGalley! Honestly, I reckon it’s a conspiracy, don’t you? And I think it’s becoming clear who is the chief suspect…

The Blurb says: We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

* * * * *

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


58 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 85…

  1. Hmm…yes, I can see why your reading might have slacked off just a little lately, FictionFan. Oh, well, at least the TBR hasn’t gone up, right? Actually all of the books you mention here look really interesting. I do keep hearing great things about the Barton. And I already very much like Sharon Bolton’s writing, so that one one gets my attention, too. And as to the Herman, it will be interesting to see how he treats MacArthur. For me, it’ll depend what angle he takes, to be honest.

    • Haha! I had no sooner posted this than the five Bloody Scotland books turned up – so much for the TBR remaining stable! And so much for my chances of slacking off too… 😉

      I mostly love Sharon Bolton’s books, so a new one is always a treat. As for MacArthur, I genuinely know nothing about him – he was too late for me to have learned about him in school, too early for me to remember hearing about him in real life. So I won’t really know whether Herman is fair to him or not… intriguing!

    • Haha! That might be a more fun biography… 😉

      Oh, you are! Well, maybe not you personally, but tennis has a huge following in America, and has produced some of the all-time great players! The women’s game has been dominated for years by Serena and Venus Williams, and the men’s game has gone through a bit of a rough patch recently but has several up-and-coming stars in the making. And Flushing Meadows (the US Open) is one of the four biggest tennis tournaments in the world!

  2. NetGalley is great, but very bad for the TBR! I have Exposure and Daisy in Chains to read too and am looking forward to both, particularly the Sharon Bolton one as I’ve loved some of her others.

    • I know! I love it, but I wish I had more willpower to resist! They both look great, don’t they? A new Sharon Bolton especially is always a treat – she’s such a brilliant story-teller. Hope we both enjoy both of them! 🙂

  3. I think I would like to read about MacArthur. I know he was considered a hero, but never really studied him. Don’t let other distractions keep you from him.

    • I really know nothing at all about him – unusual for me to read a biography about someone I don’t know, but Herman writes such good books I couldn’t resist! Haha! The 5 books from the Bloody Scotland longlist just arrived, so I’m distracted already… in every sense of the word! 😉

  4. My sympathies, FF. I seem to have the same problem! Well, maybe it is time for a tiny break, and tennis season feels perfect for one.
    As for your reading dilemma, I’m leaning toward both of the last two. I definitely don’t need to add any more to my TBR, though!!

    • I’ll definitely be having a break over the next couple of weeks (French Open) and maybe even a bit longer… I’ve run out of reviews and energy! And for once the sun is shining…

      Those two both look good, don’t they? Actually, this is one of those week where I’m looking forward to all four of the books – which isn’t always the case, I may add… 😉

    • It does, doesn’t it? And different from so much of the other stuff around at the moment. I love Sharon Bolton – she’s such a brilliant storyteller… 😀

  5. Spies! I like spies. So that one could be good. Also the serial killer fan club is a very interesting topic. I would very much like to read that one but, as you know, I am otherwise engaged when it comes to reading…

    • The spy one has had a lot of good reviews (but secretly I’m slightly worried it may be more about feeeeeeelings than spies… hmm!). The serial killer one has a 99.9% chance of being brill, I think! Can’t wait to read that one. *claps hands gleefully* Haha! Poor Lucy! You’re beginning to remind me of how I felt when I was reading War and Peace – it took over my life for about two months!! The Wake most certainly must be more fun than W&P, though…

      • Hmm so they only included the spies to suck us in, hmm? The buggers. Typical. Very much looking forward to the review of the serial killer one!
        It is actually a lot of fun. I have abandoned all hope of actually working it out, but very much enjoying trying to wrestle my own interpretation out of it. Maybe that’s the whole point of the Wake 😉

        • I fear this may be the case… but we’ll see! I must admit I love books that are ambiguous, so long as it’s because they’re supposed to be and not just because they’re rubbish! I love making up my own interpretation and seeing if it fits, and then popping off to read other reviews to see if I’m ‘right’! But stream of consciousness and made up words… hmm!! Kinda like doing a jigsaw without all the pieces… 😉

  6. An excellent choice of books as always and I don’t mind being cast as a suspect 😉 I’m really looking forward to reading Daisy in Chains too, it sounds so good and I know it’s shallow but I do appreciate it when crime fiction comes in colours other than predominantly black!

    • Ha! I know! It gets an extra star from me just because it doesn’t have a girl in a red coat on the front! 😉 This batch looks particularly good, I must say – but they’ll have to compete with Rafa…

  7. I’ve wanted to read one of Dunmore’s books since joining the blogosphere and seeing her around everywhere. I still haven’t done it. But I will…
    A lot of people seem to be liking The Widow, too.
    I can see how you might get a bit distracted… Now, focus! 😉

    • This will be the first time I’ve tried her – so many authors I’d love to try if only I could fit them all in! Yes, I’ve seen several reviews praising The Widow, so fingers crossed for that one. And Sharon Bolton is usually great, so her books are always a highlight for me! Haha! But will any of them be able to compete with Rafa? Hmm… 😉

  8. Well, perhaps I’m in a funk, but the Dunmore book is the only one that appeals at the moment. I do think that you really need to stop pointing fingers at others due to your inability to maintain any sort of control over your addictions. In other words, stop laying the blame on others’ doorsteps. Stop eating that chocolate right now and share it with everyone else!

    • Not even MacArthur? It’s only about 800 pages or so! What?! No way can it be my fault – I’m the injured party here! In fact, I should start suing people!! I use to just indulge on a recreational basis – these pushers have turned me into a hardcore addict! And nobody gets any of my chocolate, OK?!? *stomps off*

  9. The Dunmore is excellent. There are certainly feeeellllings involved. Otherwise, how could you make sense of people getting drawn into it? It’s very gripping.

    Now, with your love of tennis, I think you should consider employment in the field. There is a rumour going round that a gallant Scottish tennis player, currently ranked at number 3 in the world is looking for a new coach, ideally before the French Open starts. You would also be guaranteed courtside seat (s) I’m sure some of your dear, dear bloggy friends would be willing to occupy one next to you, and feed you the occasional chocolate and /or chamomile tea if the excitement got too much, and finding the balance between Lendl like stone facedness and Mauresmo calm warmth was difficult to do

    I think you should put your application in fast (we won’t snitch on your preference for Spanish arms)

    • I shall hold you responsible for it then! It’s just that most of the positive reviews I’ve seen of it seem to have come from Woolf fans… *hyperventilates hysterically and runs off*

      That sounds like a wonderful plan! And I could sabotage him every time he was playing Rafa, which might give the old boy a bit of a chance! Perhaps I should also apply to coach Novak and Roger… I wonder if female coaches are allowed into the changing rooms for pre-match pep talks… *takes blood pressure pill*

      • I’m not sure you would be allowed to coach all four of them at once – you know how jealous chaps get. I’d be careful about that blood pressure tablet too, they are bound to start applying drugs tests to coaches any time soon, and you saw what happened to Sharapova over a blood pressure medication. Perhaps you could just make do with chamomile tea. I would be happy to hand make this for you and bring it into the changing room for you to delicately sip whilst delivering your pre match pep talk. I’d even hold the cup between sips

        • I’m still shocked about Sharapova! Despite her annoying shrieking, I’ve always enjoyed watching her – her grace is such a contrast to Serena’s steamroller style, and I love that totally emotionless gaze of hers. It won’t be the same without her. And I’m scared now – I couldn’t bear it if it turns out tennis is as drugs-ridden as cycling for example…

          • Ah. We’ll have you a Russian literature fan yet. On more serious matters, I wonder whether the high intensity of competitive drive which happens, combined with the knowledge or at least strong suspicion that others are doing it, and getting advantages, fuels the honest player’s resentment into that slippery slope.

            Cheating is built into nature – that recent fascinating book I read about how species, and individuals within species, employ it to get ahead- is one of many looking at it biologically. But of course we have this complexity of self reflection, self responsibility, not to mention peer pressure, both positive and negative , to contend with. I guess to an earlier generation there would have been no contest, no truck with any of that – but of course the sophistication of chemistry and knowledge of sports science and pharmaceuticals and the ability to refine tests for substances – not to mention development of new substances which might not yet be testable – was also lacking.

            • I do think the whole culture in top sport is dodgy these days – the trick seems to be to sail as close to the wind as possible without getting caught, which might be obeying the letter but is hardly the true sporting spirit. I haven’t recovered from it turning out that Andre Agassi was taking drugs while playing, and yet the tennis establishment still hails him as a hero. I’m afraid he stopped being my hero when he admitted to that. And I was a bit horrified too when McEnroe, my ultimate hero, said that he’d have taken the same drugs as Sharapova if they’d been available when he was playing – before they became banned, that is, but still. They’re not really role models I’d want for my mythical kids – so many of whom are now taking hormones and power drinks just to build musclemass for vanity reasons… I feel so old!

            • I must have had my eyes and ears closed, missed that one re Agassi. I think McEnroe’s ‘I would’ve…’ rather symbolises what has happened. Cheating, in almost every walk of life seems to be almost par for the course now. You can’t put back any sort of clock, but I think one of the few positive things a fear of the flames of hell-fire did was kept more people honest, because they were driven by fear of the eternal hereafter. Now, we are left with internalising our conscience, and it is easy to talk yourself out of the moral path when ‘everyone else is doing it’

            • He admitted to it in his autobiography years back – all very self justifyingly. Depressed about his hair loss, yada, yada, yada, not deliberately cheating, yada, yada, yada. There was a bit of an embarassed hush from all his establishment buddies for a few months, but he puts lots of money into charities and suchlike so after a bit they seemed to decide to just pretend it had never happened. But every time one of them sings his praises now, I cringe. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2009/oct/28/andre-agassi-crystal-meth-drug

              Yep, it’s all about winning now – not about sportsmanship at all. in fact, to say someone is ‘sporting’ now almost sounds like an insult…

    • Ah, I wish I deserved that praise! But the truth is I’m adding the same number of books as I’m reading… so probably about eight or nine in the last three weeks. Still, it’s better than adding more than I’m reading… 😉

  10. I’ll certainly read the Herman, but like you I’m plunging into the summer tennis orgy, so I think I’ll give the others a miss.
    I forgot to say, I like your new layout, but I miss the picture -sentimental old me!

    • The Herman is another huge brick so I won’t be able to say I know nothing about MacArthur for much longer!.

      I know – I wasn’t happy about losing the pic either. I can have a header on this theme but it doesn’t look very good. But I may add it back on or find some other way to include it…

  11. It’s Rafa! Goodness. I think he might do a split.

    What?! You don’t want to read about Douglas MacArthur? He’s like the coolest chap–ever!

    So, here’s the thing: the professor never uses an umbrella. Never.

    • *tries to shield her mind* Aaaaarghhhh! *faints and falls off chair*

      I don’t know anything about him! Why is he cool? Shall I add this one to your TBR then? Only 800 pages or so…

      *laughs* Well, there are two possible problems with that. 1) You’ll never be a successful spy. And 2) Your head might shrink…

      • Aha! So you do fall of your chair for things other than laughing. I thought so!

        I’m not sure. I’m not sure I know much about him either. ‘Cause he was tough? And a general? That’s pretty cool right there. Umm…no…I can’t. I’d die. And you wouldn’t want that.

        But spies never use them either!

        • *rubs bruised portion of anatomy and growls*

          Hmm… not sure you’re selling him very well. Just think – soon I’ll know more about him than you do! *preens and sing Stars and Stripes* No! Don’t die! Not till you’ve got that video posted at least!!

          Oooh, they do! What about that guy who murdered that other guy by prodding him with the poisoned tip of his umbrella??

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