TBR Thursday 124…

Episode 124…

Oh, my! The TBR has reached 199 – will I be able to reduce it before any other book arrives to tip me over the 200 cliff? It’s partly the tennis, but mainly it’s all these Russian books, fact and fiction. There seems to be something about Russia that makes every book massive. When you start looking forward to books about mathematicians as light relief, then you know there’s something wrong! On the upside, I haven’t requested any review copies at all in June so far – isn’t that impressive? Admittedly I also haven’t finished any, meaning the total of outstanding books for review is still 35…

Gratuitous pic of the best clay court player in the history of the universe…

Back to books! Here are a few more that I hope to get to soonish, including three of my 20 Books of Summer


This has been on my TBR ever since I read and enjoyed Boileau-Narcejac’s Vertigo back in September ’15. Given that it’s only novella length, I should really have been able to fit it in before now…

The Blurb says: Every Saturday evening, travelling salesman Fernand Ravinel returns to his wife, Mireille, who waits patiently for him at home. But Ferdinand has another lover, Lucienne, an ambitious doctor, and together the adulterers have devised a murderous plan. Drugging Mireille, the pair drown her in a bathtub, but in the morning, before the “accidental” death can be discovered, the corpse is gone–so begins the unraveling of Ferdinand’s plot, and his sanity…

This classic of French noir fiction was adapted for the screen by Henri-Georges Clouzot as Les Diaboliques (The Devils), starring Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot, the film which in turn inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

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Courtesy of the publisher, the British Library. The book is actually to accompany an exhibition they’re holding about the Revolution which I won’t be able to attend. But the book itself sounds interesting, and at first glance looks very well illustrated. It doesn’t look it from the cover photo but it’s actually a largish, coffee-table book in terms of style, though the contents look far from superficial…

 The Blurb says: One hundred years ago events in Russia took the world by storm. In February 1917, in the middle of World War I and following months of protest and political unrest, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated. Later that year a new political force, the socialist Bolshevik Party, seized power under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. A bloody civil war and period of extraordinary hardship for Russians finally led to the establishment of the Soviet Union. This book accompanies a major exhibition that re-examines the Russian Revolution in light of recent research, focusing on the experiences of ordinary Russians living through extraordinary times. The Revolution was not a single event but a complex process of dramatic change. The story of the Revolution is told here through posters, maps, postcards, letters, newspapers and literature, photographs and personal accounts. Leading experts on Russian history reveal the Revolution as a utopian project that had traumatic consequences for people across Russia and beyond.

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Courtesy of NetGalley. I must say that early reviews of this one have dampened my enthusiasm considerably. Unlike the blurb which makes it sound balanced and nuanced, reviews seem to suggest it’s actually another of the great Indian misery novels – you know, the ones that suggest everything about life there is horrible and hopeless. If so, I imagine it will quickly be thrown at the wall as my tolerance for these books lessens each time I read one. But we’ll see…

The Blurb says: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety – in search of meaning, and of love.

In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears, just after midnight. In a snowy valley, a bereaved father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In a second-floor apartment, a lone woman chain-smokes as she reads through her old notebooks. At the Jannat Guest House, two people who have known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around each other, as though they have just met.

A braided narrative of astonishing force and originality, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once a love story and a provocation-a novel as inventive as it is emotionally engaging. It is told with a whisper, in a shout, through joyous tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Its heroes, both present and departed, have been broken by the world we live in-and then mended by love. For this reason, they will never surrender.

Humane and sensuous, beautifully told, this extraordinary novel demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts

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Courtesy of NetGalley again, and yet another that I was tempted to go for by Cleo’s great review. This sounds fascinating, especially since people in Glasgow still talked about Peter Manuel as a kind of bogeyman when I was growing up, even though he was hanged before I was born…

The Blurb says: A standalone psychological thriller from the acclaimed author of the Alex Morrow novels that exposes the dark hearts of the guilty…and the innocent.

The “trial of the century” in 1950’s Glasgow is over. Peter Manuel has been found guilty of a string of murders and is waiting to die by hanging. But every good crime story has a beginning. Manuel’s starts with the murder of William Watt’s family. Looking no further that Watt himself, the police are convinced he’s guilty. Desperate to clear his name, Watt turns to Manuel, a career criminal who claims to have information that will finger the real killer. As Watt seeks justice with the cagey Manuel’s help, everyone the pair meets has blood on their hands as they sell their version of the truth. The Long Drop is an explosive novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or Amazon.

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

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47 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 124…

  1. How could you possibly reduce that TBR with Rafa around, FictionFan? I say that’s a perfectly logical explanation. At any rate…..you’ve got some good ‘uns there. Denise Mina is so talented that I’m sure that one will be a good read. I’d like to read the Boileau-Narcejac, too. Some of those French noir novels are really excellent.

    • Got a couple of weeks before Wimbledon to do some serious catch-up! Those are my two top picks of this week’s batch too, especially the Boileau-Narcejac. Don’t know why I haven’t managed to fit it in somewhere in the last two years!

  2. I must say they all sound quite compelling (except for the Indian one) as I love a mystery and like many, am drawn to books about the Russian Revolution. I wonder, will the exhibition travel? I’d go to see it if it came to Ottawa. Interesting list — good luck with them.

    • The two crime books should both be good I hope! I don’t know if the exhibition will travel – being the British Library rather than one of the museums makes me think not, but I could easily be wrong. However, the book looks like it may be a good substitute – fingers crossed!

  3. Have to be honest, the Roy book does not tempt me at all. Read an interview she had in the NY Times. Ghastly things happen in the book, it’s incredibly graphic in its violence. Some of the scenes mentioned sounded so appalling, I have no words. Would be a hard book to stomach, from the reviews I have read. But yes, to Nadal. Gratutious pic entirely appropriate.

    • Oh, dear! I don’t know why so much Indian writing has gone down this path to the worst of life recently – must reflect something in th national psyche, I suppose, though very often it’s emigrants who are the bleakest. But I do prefer books that show the good alongside the bad and offer a little bit of hope somewhere along the line. Still, I’ll give it a try and see how I get on. And at least I know Rafa will always be there to cheer me up again… 😉

  4. I just picked up The Long Drop at my library…now actually reading it will be another story:) So I’m assuming you like tennis or at least tennis players based on your pic today and ones you’ve had in the past and I’m wondering if you’ve heard of/read Trophy Son? I just received a copy and it sounds awesome. I love playing tennis and was an Agassi fan a million years ago so I think I’ll like that book.

    • Oh, I hope we both enjoy it! She’s got an excellent reputation though for some reason I haven’t read much of her stuff. Ha! Yep – a huge tennis fan, (watcher only, though, not player) which is why my reading drops to near zero at this time of year. I hadn’t heard of Trophy Son but just looked it up and it sounds great! I must try to snaffle a copy… thanks for the tip! 😀

        • Goodness! I just got approved! I think that’s the quickest NetGalley approval I’ve ever had! I’m going to try to squeeze it into August but it’ll be tight. And you know what this means, don’t you? 200!!!!!! No sleep till I finish at least one book tonight… 😉

          • Oh yay!! I’m so glad I could recommend one that put you at your 200 mark:) I may try to read it soon, I’m struggling with all my recent review copies so I need something different. What I really need is a new Jane Casey!!

            • I haven’t even started my 20 Books of Summer yet! But the Big 200 only counts if I’m there when I do a TBR post, so I have a week to reduce it… 😉

  5. Haha, I happened to catch the reward ceremony for Nadal on TV, and I just knew that I would see a picture of it on your blog at some point. 🙂 I’m most intrigued by She Was No More, mainly because I love the cover.

    • Haha! I couldn’t possibly resist! It was so lovely to see him back at the top his form… 😀 I love the cover too, and have high hopes since I enjoyed their Vertigo so much – fingers crossed!

  6. For the first time, none of them tempt me. Which is good for my reading list. Magpie Murders finally debuted here in the States, so I’m in the mood for that one.

    • What?!?!?? I must do better next week!! Oooh, yes, definitely go for Magpie Murders – it’s fab. His new one is coming out here in a couple of months and I can’t wait! 😀

    • Oh, I hope you get it! It sounds intriguing and, though I haven’t read much of her stuff, Denise Mina has a great reputation. Fingers crossed we both enjoy it… 😀

  7. Unusually for me, I’ve seen Les Diaboliques (courtesy of The Brother) , but not read the book. None of the rest appeal to me, I’m afraid.

    • I haven’t seen the film but, assuming I enjoy the book, I intend to watch it after I read it – it’s been a while since I did a film/book comparison…

    • *gasps* I’ve been pushed over the edge by a sudden NetGalley approval! But it doesn’t count if I don’t declare it in a TBR post, so I have a week to get back under…

      Haha! Rafa seems to have beaten the books all round this week!

  8. The two crime works, of course, draw the most interest for me this week — way after Rafa’s tennis photo! Gee, doesn’t he look like a happy camper?! And wasn’t that a splendid win for him?!! He’s pretty unbeatable on clay!

  9. Looking forward to seeing the big 200… it’s taking longer than I thought it would. 😉

    I’m a little worried about The Ministry of Utmost Happiness myself, although I think it has a great title. Let’s hope it’s not a complete misery-fest!

    • I’m fighting every inch of the way! Though I’ve been pushed up there by a sudden NetGalley approval, but it doesn’t count so long as I get back down before my next TBR post… 😉

      Yes I love the title and the cover, and I loved her earlier book. Maybe it’ll be better than the reviews suggest… fingers crossed!

  10. Well I have the Ministry of Utmost Happiness waiting, nothing else is tempting me fortunately from your little selection. But congratulations are surely in order, 200, and done by a blogger when you were bemoaning 199 too, a really neat shove up into the 200s. Now, do we place bets on how long it will take you to make that 300? Perhaps if Rafa (DIDN’T he do well!) were to bring out an autobiography, or someone did a coffee table book of 12 years of Rafa tennis apparel photos from the 2005 look to the La Decima one. My, Queen’s will be upon us, and then Wimbers. I do fear for Andy though, Fed and Rafa likely to delight us all, and Rafa (providing his knees get properly resprung in the next week or so) is within spitting distance of wresting Andy’s ranking, if he gets the crown and Andy doesn’t go deep. Must admit, a Fed and Rafa final would be a glory to behold

    • Noooooooooo!! The Big 200 only counts if I’m there when I do a TBR post so I have a whole week to reduce it – you’ll see, I’ll be way down by then! 300?? Never! Never, do you hear?! It was so great to see Rafa win, but fair’s fair – it must be Andy’s turn at Wimbers. I was sorry Roger didn’t make the French – I’d hoped for a Rog/Raf final there. Whatever will we do when these four greats all retire – tennis life will never be the same, I fear. We’ve had the privilege of being there for a real Golden Age…

      Maybe The Ministry will be more fun than the reviews have made me think… fingers crossed!

  11. I was so happy for you that Rafa won the French Open! How did you celebrate? 🙂

    You didn’t get me this week, thank goodness! I’ve got enough trouble with my own NOW OVER 400 TBR!

    Resh Susan wrote a great review of the Roy book recently at The Book Satchel, you should check that out. I don’t think it’s a book for me, though. But I will be interested in your thoughts!

    • Wasn’t it great? I celebrated with cake and endless rewatches of the moment he won… 😀

      Haha – your TBR always makes me feel better about mine! What happened to the culling? 😉

      Thanks – I popped over and she certainly makes it sound more interesting than some of the reviews I’ve read, though even she suggests it’s a bit messy. Well, I’ll give it a go and see what happens… but I still think it might end up getting thrown at the wall…

  12. Heaven-Ali has been enjoying the Roy so you should be OK. I’ve obviously been doing all your NetGalley requesting – my latest post has a shame-faced update!

    • That’s good to hear – most of the reviews I’ve seen so far have been fairly negative. Ha! NetGalley ought to be banned by law! It’s our only hope… 😉

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