TBR Thursday 105…

Episode 105…

My persistent attempt at exercising willpower is finally showing results, with another week where my TBR has remained stable – at 176! Happily, the review copy backlog has dropped 4 to 32, of which only 18 are overdue – the best it’s been for a long time. Feeling good about being able to get off the review copy treadmill in the new year, and having time to read some of the books I’ve been stockpiling for far too long.

Of course, I’m still looking forward to getting review copies of books from favourite authors and there’s a couple of those here, specially scheduled to ensure some great reading over the festive season. A bumper edition this week, since this will be the last TBR post till 2017…


how-shakespeare-put-politics-on-the-stageCourtesy of NetGalley. Shakespeare, politics, a bit of history and Yale University Press – how could it go wrong? Hmm… early reviews, including one from a reviewer I know and trust on this kind of book, suggest it could be way too academic and dry for my dilettante mind… but we’ll see…

The Blurb says: With an ageing, childless monarch, lingering divisions due to the Reformation, and the threat of foreign enemies, Shakespeare’s England was fraught with unparalleled anxiety and complicated problems. In this monumental work, Peter Lake reveals, more than any previous critic, the extent to which Shakespeare’s plays speak to the depth and sophistication of Elizabethan political culture and the Elizabethan imagination. Lake reveals the complex ways in which Shakespeare’s major plays engaged with the events of his day, particularly regarding the uncertain royal succession, theological and doctrinal debates, and virtue and virtù in politics. Through his plays, Lake demonstrates, Shakespeare was boldly in conversation with his audience about a range of contemporary issues. This remarkable literary and historical analysis pulls the curtain back on what Shakespeare was really telling his audience and what his plays tell us today about the times in which they were written.

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the-beautiful-deadCourtesy of NetGalley. I have no doubts about this one though! A new Belinda Bauer is always a major treat…

The Blurb says:  In her latest, The Beautiful Dead, Bauer turns the trope of the media-attention-hungry killer on its head, with a riveting narrative centered on a down-on-her-luck crime reporter and a serial killer desperate for the spotlight.

Crime reporter Eve Singer’s career is on the downward slope when a spate of bizarre murders—each carefully orchestrated and advertised like performance art—begin in her territory. Covering these very public crimes revives her byline, and when the killer contacts Eve to discuss her coverage of his crimes, she is suddenly on the inside of the biggest murder investigation of the decade. But as the killer becomes increasingly obsessed with her, Eve realizes there’s a thin line between inside information and becoming an accomplice to murder—possibly her own.

A seamlessly-plotted thriller that will keep readers breathless until the very end, The Beautiful Dead cements Belinda Bauer’s reputation as a master of heart-stopping suspense..

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cast-ironCourtesy of Quercus via MidasPR. The new Peter May has become part of my festive tradition in recent years. I’m going to whisper a little secret though – the Enzo Files series, of which this is #6, isn’t my favourite May series. In fact, I’ve only read a couple of them. The earlier ones were written several years ago, before the Lewis series, and I do think he’s been at his peak for the last few years, so will he be able to change my mind? Exciting… and even May’s less good books are still way ahead of most of the competition…

The Blurb says: West of France, 1989. A weeping killer deposits the unconscious body of nineteen year old Lucie Martin, her head wrapped in a blue plastic bag, into the water of a picturesque lake.

Lot-et-Garonne, 2003. Fourteen years later a summer heatwave parches the earth, killing trees and bushes and drying out streams. In the scorched mud and desiccated slime of the lake a fisherman finds a skeleton wearing a bag over its skull.

Paris, October 2011. In an elegant apartment in Paris, forensic expert Enzo Macleod pores over the scant evidence of this, the sixth cold case he has been challenged to solve. In taking on this old and seemingly impossible task he will put everything and everyone he holds dear in a peril he could never have imagined.

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our-mutual-friendMy major festive reading tradition is to read Dickens (hence why there are five Dickens novels on my Classics Club list, including this one). For some incomprehensible reason, I’ve never read this one before – an omission I can’t wait to rectify…

The Blurb says: A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, Our Mutual Friend revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap’s expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights “Noddy” Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes “the Golden Dustman.” Charles Dickens’s last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend encompasses the great themes of his earlier works: the pretensions of the nouveaux riches, the ingenuousness of the aspiring poor, and the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt all who crave it. With its flavorful cast of characters and numerous subplots, Our Mutual Friend is one of Dickens’s most complex—and satisfying—novels.

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dark-talesCourtesy of NetGalley. Horror stories are an essential part of the Christmas season – the perfect antidote to all that excess goodwill floating around. Bah, humbug! And who better than Shirley Jackson to shiver the spine…

The Blurb says: There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods…

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maigret-and-the-tall-womanCourtesy of NetGalley. I’ve been enjoying reading some older crime fiction recently, so this should fit in nicely. I did read some Maigret in my youth, but that’s soooo long ago, he feels like a new-to-me author…

The Blurb says: A visit from a tall, thin woman he arrested many years ago—now married to a hapless burglar—leads Maigret on a tortuous investigation in which he struggles with a formidable suspect. The thirty-eighth book in the new Penguin Maigret series.

A face from Maigret’s past reappears to tell him about the misadventures of her husband, a safecracker nicknamed “Sad Freddie” who discovered a dead body while committing a burglary and fled the scene in a panic. In a race against the clock, Maigret must use his full arsenal of investigative methods to solve the crime.

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el-doctorowCourtesy of NetGalley again! Some more short stories to fill in those short gaps that happen around this time of year, when there’s just not enough time to get properly stuck into a longer novel. And my first introduction to EL Doctorow…

The Blurb says: A superb collection of fifteen great stories by an American master, E. L. Doctorow—the author of Ragtime, The March, The Book of Daniel, and Billy Bathgate.

In A House on the Plains, a mother has a plan for financial independence, which may include murder. In Walter John Harmon, a man starts a cult using subterfuge and seduction. Jolene: A Life follows a teenager who escapes her home for Hollywood on a perilous quest for success. Heist, the account of an Episcopal priest coping with a crisis of faith, was expanded into the bestseller City of God. The Water Works, about the underbelly of 1870s New York, grew into a brilliant novel. Liner Notes: The Songs of Billy Bathgate is a corollary to the renowned novel and includes Doctorow’s revisions.

These fifteen brilliant stories, written from the 1960s to the early twenty-first century, and selected, revised, and placed in order by the author himself shortly before he died in 2015, are a testament to the genius of E. L. Doctorow.

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

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So…what do you think?
Doesn’t this just look like a fab festive reading list?

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58 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 105…

  1. You seem to have played hard and fast on Netgalley, my good woman… I go through such moments myself. But of course your legendary willpower has managed to balance things out. I’ve read the Belinda Bauer – good page-turning power and a dramatic climax, but let me know what you think of the motivation bit… I have a chunky volume of Shirley Jackson and am hoping to get round to it very soon.

  2. You do have some fabulous reads ahead of you, FictionFan! The May got my attention right away, as did the Simenon. You can’t go wrong with either author, in my humble opinion. The Lake looks interesting, too – perhaps something to digest more slowly, as it sounds quite rich. All of it looks great!

  3. Oh my goodness! So many good novels! I’m ashamed to say that I never read Our Mutual Friend. And I love Dickens’s novels. So I will rectify that omission soon. (But I really need to finish my current book.)
    You have to go with Simenon and Jackson! I was on a Maigret kick for a while some years back.

    • Isn’t it just a great selection? I’ve been holding a couple of them back specially for Christmas and it’s the best list I’ve had in ages. Can’t wait to get started! Yes, I’m the same – I’m a huge Dickens fan and can’t think how I’ve missed this one till now – but oh, the joy of an unread Dickens! It’s ages since I read any Maigret and I can’t really remember what I thought of them, but I’m hopeful. And the Jackson’s bound to be great!

    • Isn’t it a great list?? For once, I seem to have got my planning right! I love reading Dickens over Christmas – I’ll also be doing my annual re-listen to the Patrick Stewart Christmas Carol. A Golden Age crime binge sounds brilliant too – have fun! 😀

  4. Oh, dear, my comment has disappeared! I was about to say that you’ve over-indulged on the Netgalley this time, but of course your outstanding and unique willpower has managed to keep you on an even keel… Can’t go wrong with Shirley Jackson and Simenon in my opinion. Let me know how you get on with the Belinda Bauer one, which I have read – a page-turner, some nice mix of humour as well as action, but I struggled a bit with the motivation behind the killings…

    • It did come through on the post, but not on Notifications – very mysterious! Hahaha! Yes, I think I’ll have that on my tombstone – A Woman of Exceptional Willpower – and I can be buried with the remaining 2,873 books on my TBR at the time of death! 😉 I’m looking forward to both Jackson and Maigret – in fact, I’m looking forward to them all! It’s funny you say that – I often find Bauer’s books cross way over the credibility line, but there’s something about her writing that keeps me onside anyway – I think it’s the usually black humour. We’ll see if she succeeds again this time…

  5. Oh this soundtrack is amazing! Who would’ve thunk it, too, since it’s about a cartoon horse. Goes to show you one shouldn’t assume things.

    176…*tries not to laugh too muchly much* That’s worse than before! I think it was like 130 or something.

    • Good heavens! For a moment there I could have sworn… but, nah, impossible!… that I’d seen the Invisible Man! I must be hallucinating – I’ve probably allowed my sugar levels to drop dangerously low… *stuffs face with emergency chocolate*

      What soundtrack???? What cartoon horse???? Assume what???? Grrrrrrrrr!!!!

      Don’t you laugh at me, sir – you should just see how many books I’ve added to your TBR in your absence… *giggles*

      • *laughs* Stuffs face, too. That’s a thing. I’m something of the invisible man. Despite that I’m not usually invisible. Which is a shame. I always want to be an epic invisible spy, but everyone always seems to notice me no matter how spy-like I am.

        It’s the movie Spirit, I think. One shouldn’t assume that an awful movie has an awful soundtrack. *nods* See, I answer all the questions I raise.

        How many? I’ve read to many books this year.

        • *nods* It’s because of your kisscurl – it magnetically draws all eyes to it. It’s the price you have to pay for being gorgeous. If you had your head shaved and grew a bushy beard, you’d become totally invisible…

          Not all. Some questions about the Professor remain unaswerable. Some may even be unaskable… *smiles enigmatically*

          4,826,743. But a couple of them are quite short.

          • No, it’s definitely not that. I think it’s the red shoes and red eyes. I’d like a beard! A big, big, bushy beard. Down to my ankles. That’d be something, you must admit.

            Nopesy. I refuse to believe it. All questions have been answered and could be answered. This is a truth. #Iwin

            *holds ears*

            • Then you could be Professor Dumbledore! And wear a cloak! This is a great idea!! ‘Cos then you’d be able to do magic… I shall start preparing a list of spells I’d like you to cast… *grabs a large notebook*

              Nuh-huh! I have at least ten questions that haven’t been asked yet… maybe a thousand…

            • Oooo…magic! Is he a magician? I’ll be him as long as he’s vicious and has a neatio beard. That’s the deal. Leave it or take, I say.

              Well…ask one, and I’ll show how it’s been answered already. #doublewin

            • He’s the greatest wizard who ever lived, and with the longest beard! And a really cool hat.

              OK – what will the Professor be doing when he’s 60? And how many kids will he have… *giggles mischievously*

            • I’ll def thieve his hat then. I’m, the sudden, into hats, you know.

              When I’m 60! Whoa…probably will be stranded on a desert island, sipping of rum, and dreaming of six strings. That’s a song right there!

  6. Well thanks for alerting me to the wonderfully spiky Shirl on NetGalley. I missed that one, but have WISHED. Who knows. She would be good to overcome too much tinseltown of the season turning us all to mushmellow.

    I’m less bothered by my TBR and more bothered by my To Be Reviewed……….henceforth TBRV

    • Ooh, I hope you get it! It took ages for it to come through for me – about six weeks. I’d more or less given up on it and was considering… *gasps*… buying it!! Haven’t looked yet to see what’s in it… 🙂

      Oh, me too – I’m about five books behind at the mo, and can’t seem to get my act together to write any of them. Today must be the day! I’ll be forgetting them all soon…

  7. I’m reading a ghost story right now, and I must say, it fits in quite nicely with the festive season – who would have thought?
    I’m especially curious to hear your thoughts on Our Mutual Friend! I hear so many mixed reactions about all of Dickens’ novels and keep changing my mind as to which one to read next because of it.

    Love your picture of Tommy and Tuppence! Tell them Merry Christmas from Willow and Link! 🙂

    • I love ghost stories at Christmas! It’s so… Dickensian! I can’t wait to read Our Mutual Friend – it’s been a long time since I read a completely new-to-me Dickens. Don’t know how I’ve missed this one up till now. I think he’s one of these love/hate authors. I can see why his style might drive some people crazy, and his heroines do tend to be nauseatingly sweet, but I just love his descriptive prose and his quirky characters, and the anger that sometimes shows through about injustice and the conditions of the poor. Have you read Bleak House? It’s my favourite book of all time.

      Aww, lovely names! T&T say Merry Christmas too! 🙂

      • Bleak House is my favourite Dickens book to date! I have only read a few, but one of the reasons I have’t read one in a while is because I can’t imagine topping Bleak House.

        Funny story: Whenever I asked my Mom what her favourite book was growing up, she would answer Bleak House, and I would keep asking her periodically, hoping she would tell me something different because I just couldn’t see myself ever reading that big boring-looking book. Then one day I read it… 🙂

        • Ah, I knew you were a woman of exceptional taste! 😉 Haha! You’re luckier than you knew – my mother’s favourite book was Kidnapped, and though I enjoyed it, I still can’t quite see why she loved it so much. And my dad’s was Lorna Doone – and I’ve still not got round to reading it… I think I’m scared I’ll hate it!

  8. FF, I love how many crime novels you’ve got lined up for the holiday season! What a perfect time of year for reading about murder and such, right?! Anyway, the one that stands out for me at least is The Beautiful Dead. In fact, it sounds so good, I just might add it to my own TBR (though it’s going to have to wait until after Christmas for me to even consider that, ha!!)

    • Haha! Yes, ’tis the season for murdeorus thoughts, for sure… purely fictional ones, of course! 😉 The Beautiful Dead will probably be great – I can’t think of a single one of Bauer’s books that I haven’t at least liked a lot, and most of them I’ve loved. Good pick!

  9. I loved Our Mutual Friend! It was one of my books of the year a few years ago. And I’ll be interested to hear more about the Belinda Bauer – I remember enjoying her first two books, but still haven’t picked up any of her more recent ones.

    • Oh, that’s good to know! I’m looking forward to it even more now that a few people who’ve read it all seem to have loved it! I’m the other way round with Belinda Bauer – I’ve read her last few recent books, but still haven’t got around to reading her earlier ones. I do think she seems to get better and better though… 🙂

  10. I love your festive reading list FF – You are in for a real treat with The Beautiful Dead, perfect festive reading, along with the horror from Shirley Jackson of course 😉 I’m still trailing you by one but my backlog of review copies is also falling at a reasonable rate – like you I hope to read more of my own fabulous books in 2017. Here’s to tiny TBRs this time next year eh?

    • I’m so spoiled for choice I can’t decide which of these to start with! I think I’ve got my planning right for once. 😀 Yes, I don’t really mind the size of the actual TBR, but the review backlog means I never seem to get to it. But I’m doing better at not requesting things on a whim, so next year is definitely the year! But not too tiny, eh? 😉

  11. Great list. I’ll be interested to know what you think of the Maigret, it’s reading Simenon that has kept my French going all these years. And I’m sure you’ll love “Our Mutual Friend”………and the Doctorow – I feel a reading binge coming on, and I’ve already you to thank for my current reread of Slaughterhouse-Five! Just as well you’re going off for a few weeks.

    • Oh, I should have thought of trying it in French! I’ll see how I get on with the translated version first though. Haha! It cheers me up when I know I’m adding to other people’s TBRs, however non-existent they might be! 😉 I’ll be around for a while yet though – just not TBRing. Enjoy Slaughterhouse-Five!

      • Simenon writes in a very simple, unadorned style which is easy to get into., Because the books pre-date forensics, the vocabulary isn’t too challenging either.

    • I’m still struggling to keep up with all the review copies so very little danger of me reading them too early at the moment! But it’ll all be different next year… 😉

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