TBR Thursday 128…

Episode 128…

Woohoo! Down two this week, to 194! The dreaded 200 is receding into the distance! However, I have to confess to having a couple of NetGalley requests outstanding so it could go back up any time. But I’ll celebrate while I can…

The first three of this week’s choices are from my 20 Books of Summer list. Which I must admit is all going horribly wrong. I’ve abandoned three and have only read seven so far, and have only reviewed one. There’s still plenty of time though. Isn’t there?


Courtesy of NetGalley. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Megan Abbott’s last three books, all of which were told from the perspective of young girls. This one seems to be from the perspective of a mother of a teenage girl, so I’m intrigued to see whether this voice works just as well for me…

The Blurb says: Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

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Courtesy of NetGalley, this one is actually making its second appearance on my TBR. It was a People’s Choice pollwinner a long time ago, and then I went off the idea after reading several reviews that suggest it’s pretty harrowing. However, it turned up again on NetGalley recently, so I thought I should at least try it…

The Blurb says: One man is dead.

But thousands are his victims.

Can a single murder avenge that of many?

When Christopher Drayton’s body is found at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs, Detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are called to investigate his death. But as the secrets of his role in the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre surface, the harrowing significance of the case makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with far more deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?

In this striking debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

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Courtesy of NetGalley. This one has been lingering unread on my Kindle for the best part of a year and I don’t know why, since I really like the sound of it. I also have the audiobook, read by Aidan Kelly, so am intending to do a joint read/listen…

The Blurb says: After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War.

Having fled terrible hardships they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.

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Fiction on Audio

One of my Classics Club re-reads, so I decided to try the audiobook, narrated by Sissy Spacek, this time. However, I have the paper copy on stand-by just in case…

The Blurb says: Beautifully narrated by actress Sissy Spacek, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning literary masterpiece is unforgettable. Capturing an ephemeral moment in Southern history, it explores uncomfortable truths about justice and the human condition.

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the ’30s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will tolerate only so much.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an antiracist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads, NetGalley or Audible.

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

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53 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 128…

    • That’s good to know – that it’s good, that is. I’ll try just shutting my eyes at the harrowing bits… 😉

      Haha! I don’t know why I ever do this challenge – between tennis watching and semi-decent weather my reading always dips in summer. But hopefully we’ll get plenty of rainy days…

  1. I too have the Barry, and with no idea why it is languishing. I requested it because I have loved other Barrys. And TKAM is a denizen of the must re-read, but you know I am not an audio book fan. Though Spacek sounds tempting. You can keep the rest. Absolutely.

    • I haven’t read any of his other stuff but every time I look at the blurb of this one, it appeals, so I don’t know why I keep letting it linger. Shiny new baubles, I expect! I’ll see how I do with the audio of TKAM – so far (Chapter 1) Spacek is very good, but I frequently get fed up halfway through and turn to the book. What?!? Not going for the Megan Abbott?? I’m shocked! 😉

    • I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few Megan Abbotts, so I have high hopes for the new one! I should get to The Unquiet Dead in a couple of weeks, so fingers crossed… 🙂

    • I’ve just listened to the first chapter and she’s very good, but as I often find with audio versions, a bit slower paced than I’d like. It’s possible to speed the narration up but that never sounds natural – veering perilously close to Pinky and Perky territory I find sometimes. I’ll see how I do with the audio though – I’m working on increasing my concentration span so I can listen for longer at a time without inadvertently napping…

  2. I thought The Unquiet Dead was a very well-written novel, FIctionFan. I hope you’ll think so, too. I’ll be very interested in what you think of it. And Megan Abbott is such a talented writer; I’m glad to see one of her books on your list, too.

    And well done on getting that TBR down. I say this calls for a piece of cake!

    • That’s good to know – I’ll try to go into it with an open mind. Certainly most of the reviews I’ve seen have been very positive, even the ones who mentioned finding it harrowing. I’ve enjoyed several of Megan Abbott’s books, so I have high hopes for this one. Yes, you’re right – I DO deserve cake! 😉

    • Hmm… I haven’t read any of his stuff before so am basing my anticipation purely on the blurb at the moment. It’s interesting how sometimes an author’s style just doesn’t work for us – I’m finding that at the moment with A Gentleman in Moscow, which has about a zillion 5-star reviews…

      • I felt the same way about A Gentleman, I think I read about 40 pages and felt bored. Maybe I’m too conditioned for the excitement of crime novels. I’m missing my new fav characters Josh and Maeve…let me know if you come across another book or series similar. I’m forever grateful you encouraged me to try her books!

        • Well, that’s good to know! I’m about three-quarters of the way through now, and am so fed up with his style… but I’ll stick it out to the end since I’ve come so far. Hmm… have you ever read Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series? It’s my favourite police detective series of them all. And I assume you’ve read Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series… 🙂

          • I’ve read and loved the Lacey Flint series but I haven’t heard of the Reginald Hill one…I’ll check it out. You like that better than Jane Casey?? I loved that series…better than Lacey Flint even!!😱

            • I think the Reginald Hill ones are more literary in style – the later ones anyway. I’m not sure what you’d think of them actually, but they’ve given me loads of pleasure over the years. I wouldn’t necessarily start with the first ones, though – being published in the early ’70s, some of the attitudes feel a bit outdated now. But anywhere around book 7 or 8 would be a good place to start, and then if you liked them you could backtrack later and make allowances… 😀

    • I have read Days without End and a number of Sebastian Barry’s other books. I love the way he writes but I thought A Temporary Gentleman not quite as good. I hated Days Without End. I found the squalor and violence almost too much. The only saving grace is a couple of the relationships in the novel. I persisted in great part because of the beauty and lyricism of Barry’s writing and the fact that it had won the 2017 Walter Scott prize. If I want to read of the horrors of the past, my preference is non-fiction where they do not get to inhabit my imagination so totally and intimately. Perhaps the way I read is part of the problem, with a writer of Barry’s skill I imaginatively inhabit the world he creates and I see in his characters those young men of a similar age that I know and it becomes truly horrifying.

      • Oh dear! This will be my first Sebastian Barry, so I’ll bear your comments in mind if it’s too much for me, and try one of his other books later. I can take grimness in books depending on how it’s portrayed and whether it feels gratuitous or not, so I’ll just have to see how it grabs me in this one. I must say beautiful writing often carries me over lots of other things that I might find problematic. I’m intrigued even more now, actually – should get to it very soon… 🙂

    • Gosh, you’re right, and thanks for reminding me! It was actually on my list originally as part of the GAN Quest and then I stuck it into the Classics Club and forgot that. I’ll do it as a GAN Quest review when I finish… 😀

  3. I read To Kill a Mockingbird. I really am looking forward to your review. 😀
    I wonder if the Sebastian Barry book is like Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

    • It’s one of those ones I might find hard to review because everything’s already been said – but no doubt I’ll manage to waffle on anyway… 😉

      Interesting! I haven’t read that one but I read and enjoyed another of Frazier’s, Nightwoods, a few years ago – and yes, that had the kind of tone the blurb of the Barry leads me to expect from this. I’ve been meaning to read Cold Mountain for ages…

    • Ha! Thank you! It’s just possible I might finish the reading more or less on time, but realistically the reviewing isn’t all going to be done until well into September. Never mind! Hopefully Cathy won’t punish me too badly… 😉

  4. I love Megan Abbott. And You Will Know me does not disappoint! I’ll have to try some of these others although I’m having stack issues too. Too many books, too little time.

    • Oh, that’s good to know! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her last few and keep meaning to read her earlier ones… but can’t resist each new one as it comes out! Ha! My TBR issues never end… thankfully! 😉

      Thanks for popping in and commenting. 😀

        • Yes, they do seem to be quite different from what she’s done recently, but I’ve been told they’re very good too, so one day I’ll get around to trying one. I’ve actually had her Die a Little on my Kindle for about three years… I must get control of my TBR! 😉

  5. Ok the fact that you are considering a joint read and listen for days without end is blasphemous! How can you switch between two formats in one book? That sounds like torture, and so disruptive! I don’t know how you could do that…have you done it before? Lol

    • Hahaha! I’ve attempted it a couple of times before but usually end up reading the bulk of it. The theory is full immersion – read a bit, and then when I have to do some pesky housework or go out in the car etc, listen to a bit, then back to the book. Maybe I’d get on better if I did more housework… 😉

  6. Well done on getting your TBR down 😀 Looks like you’ve got some really dramatic/thrilling choices here – I hope they will be really gripping and will help you make more progress on your 20 Books of Summer challenge 🙂

  7. Good to see you found the nanosecond when your TBR was respectable 😉 After reading In Cold Blood I’ve had an urge to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird and I work better with audiobooks if they are familiar stories – mind you I’m quite interested in The Unquiet Dead.

    • Hahaha! Normally as soon as I type these wee intros, the email starts pinging with NG approvals, or the postie arrives, but I’ve had a book-free day today! Who knows what tomorrow will bring though… 😉

      I’ve only just started listening to Mockingbird but so far Sissy Spacek is very good – I may swap to paper for at least parts of it though. I’ve read so many glowing reviews of The Unquiet Dead, but I still can’t convince myself it’s really for me… we shall see!

  8. You Will Know Me sounds intriguing. I’ve read and re-read To Kill A Mockingbird (and watched the movie as well), and I can attest to its power. On the fence about the narrator for it, though. Congrats on keeping your TBR under 200 — you must reward yourself with chocolate!!

    • I love the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird – the little girl who plays Scout is great. But it’s many years since I read the book – so far Sissy Spacek is doing a good job, but I might revert to the printed word for at least part of it. Haha! Any excuse for chocolate! 😀

  9. You didn’t get me this week… because one of them is ALREADY on my TBR! 🙂 The Unquiet Dead. Can’t wait to read your reflections on it.

    Well, if it helps I know I won’t have my 20 Books of Summer done by September. I don’t even know why I tried, ha ha! I should know myself better than that!

    • Aha! That’s cheating! You’ll just have to add one of the others… 😉 I’m kinda apprehensive about The Unquiet Dead, but we shall see…

      Oh, well, at least neither of us will be alone then! Haha! This is my third year and I’ve never once succeeded. I always read more than 20 books over the period – just not the 20 books I picked…

  10. Congratulations on this HUGE reduction. 🙂 To Kill a Mockingbird was one of those books I read over and over again in my teens – it might be time to try it again.

    • Thank you! At this rate I expect I’ll run out of books soon! 😉 Yes, I read it several times in my youth but haven’t read it for decades now – though I still watch the film every few years…

  11. Hi! I promised to drop by ages ago during a blog hop on Twitter 🙂 sorry it took me so long. Life happened, but here I am 😀
    I really like your memes. The book/movie one is genius! And you only have 194 on your TBR too! Impressive. I have over 500 😀 I should really settle on a ratio and just stop requesting.
    Blog followed 🙂

  12. Good job on the TBR decrease. “You Will Know Me” is tempting. I do like a good immersion in some sort of activity, sport, etc., coupled with murder!

    • I’m feeling rather smug about it… for the moment! 😉 I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Megan Abbott’s last few books, so I have high hopes for You Will Know Me. She always bases them around interesting subjects – one of them actually had me watching cheerleader videos on youtube…

  13. I like the sound of Unquiet Died. It does pose some interesting questions. Your post reminds me that I am still yet to listen to an audio-book. I should have that as a reading challenge for the year. Enjoy all your books.

    • Thanks – I hope I will! 🙂 Nearly every review for The Unquiet Dead describes it as “harrowing”, so I’m half intrigued and half put off by that – we’ll see! Ooh, yes – an audio reading challenge would be fun. I still find it easier to concentrate on the written word though… 😉

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