TBR Thursday 155…

Episode 155…

The steady decline in the TBR has stalled temporarily. It’s jumped up 1 to 218, but I’m sure it will fall again soon…

Here are a few more that should drop off soon…

History

Courtesy of Weidenfeld & Nicolson. I found Nancy Goldstone’s earlier book The Rival Queens a highly readable and entertaining history, so I’m hoping for more of the same with this one, especially since I know nothing about any of these royal ladies…

The Blurb says: In a sweeping narrative encompassing political intrigue, illicit love affairs and even a murder mystery, Nancy Goldstone tells the riveting story of a queen who lost her throne, and of her four defiant daughters.

Elizabeth Stuart’s (1596-1662) marriage to a German count far below her rank was arranged with the understanding that her father, James I of England, would help his new son-in-law achieve the crown of Bohemia. The terrible betrayal of this promise would ruin ‘the Winter Queen’, as Elizabeth would forever be known, imperil the lives of those she loved and launch a war that would last thirty years.

Forced into exile, the Winter Queen found refuge for her growing family in Holland, where the glorious art and culture of the Dutch Golden Age formed the backdrop to her daughters’ education. The eldest, Princess Elizabeth (1618-80), counted the philosopher René Descartes as her closest friend. Louisa (1622-1709), whose lively manner would provoke heartache and scandal, was a gifted artist. Henrietta Maria (1626-51), the beauty of the family, would achieve the dynastic ambition of marrying into royalty, although at great cost. But it was the youngest, Sophia (1630-1714), a heroine in the tradition of Jane Austen, with a ready wit and strength of character, who would fulfil the promise of her great-grandmother Mary, Queen of Scots, a legacy which endures to this day.

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Science Fiction

Courtesy of Oxford World’s Classics. Last of the five HG Wells science fiction blockbusters in the OWC catalogue, this is another I have never read before. If it’s halfway as good as the other four, I’m in for a treat…

The Blurb says: One night in the depths of winter, a bizarre and sinister stranger wrapped in bandages and eccentric clothing arrives in a remote English village. His peculiar, secretive activities in the room he rents spook the locals. Speculation about his identity becomes horror and disbelief when the villagers discover that, beneath his disguise, he is invisible.

Griffin, as the man is called, is an embittered scientist who is determined to exploit his extraordinary gifts, developed in the course of brutal self-experimentation, in order to conduct a Reign of Terror on the sleepy inhabitants of England. As the police close in on him, he becomes ever more desperate and violent.

In this pioneering novella, subtitled “A Grotesque Romance”, Wells combines comedy, both farcical and satirical, and tragedy–to superbly unsettling effect. Since its publication in 1897, The Invisible Man has haunted not only popular culture (in particular cinema) but also the greatest and most experimental novels of the twentieth century.

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Fiction

The last scheduled book for my Russian Revolution Challenge. I freely admit my enthusiasm for this one has worn off considerably, purely because I feel I’ve reached a surfeit of massive descriptions of the Revolution now. However, it is considered to be a great classic, so I’ll have a go, and if I can’t take it, it can go back on the shelf for a couple of years till I get back in the mood…

The Blurb says: The epic novel of love, war and revolution from Mikhail Sholokhov, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

An extraordinary Russian masterpiece, And Quiet Flows the Don follows the turbulent fortunes of the Cossack people through peace, war and revolution – among them the proud and rebellious Gregor Melekhov, who struggles to be with the woman he loves as his country is torn apart. Borne of Mikhail Sholokhov’s own early life in the lands of the Cossacks by the river Don, it is a searing portrait of a nation swept up in conflict, with all the tragic choices it brings.

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Crime

The constant drip, drip, drip of blog reviews praising Ann Cleeves has finally worn me down, so it’s time to pluck this one from where it’s been hiding for three years in the depths of the TBR and shove it onto the top of the pile…

The Blurb says: Raven Black is the first book in Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series – filmed as the major BBC1 drama starring Douglas Henshall, Shetland.

It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies buried beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter’s eye is drawn to a vivid splash of colour on the white ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbour Catherine Ross. As Fran opens her mouth to scream, the ravens continue their deadly dance . . .

The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man – loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when police insist on opening out the investigation a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine’s neighbours nervously lock their doors, whilst a killer lives on in their midst.

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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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42 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 155…

  1. I do hope you’ll like Raven Black, , FictionFan. Among many other things, I think it’s got a vivid portrait of Shetland life. And, of course, the Wells is a classic; I’ll be interested in what you think of that one. As And Quiet Flows the Don, I know what you mean about being a bit full up with a topic. Hopefully, the story will carry you along. But what I like about books is that if it doesn’t, the book won’t be personally offended if you put it aside for a time when you’re more in the mood for it.

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    • I have really high expectations of Raven Black, both on account of the many people who’ve recommended Cleeves and because I enjoyed the TV series. I’ll be kinda sorry to read the Wells since it’s my last of his five big SF classics – I’ve had so much fun reading them all over the last few months! Ha – yes, that is a comforting thought! I’d hate it if my entire TBR were all huffily growling at me every time I walked past… 😉

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  2. I feel a bit sorry for that little kitty at the top, there – it was a pathetic attempt at a jump!
    The Winter Queen one looks good. I do love a bit of history. The HG Wells one should not disappoint and I am pleased to see more epic Russian fiction! Come to think of it, is there anything the Russians do that isn’t epic? They are an epic kind of people. 🙂

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    • Hahaha – poor kitty! Imagine having cruel owners who let your most embarrassing moment go viral… 😉 I’m hoping The Winter Queen will be a fun romp – her last book certainly was! She won my award for funniest footnote ever while talking about the advice the King’s mistress gave the Queen on how to… ahem… stimulate his affections… 🤣 Yeah, I sometimes kinda wish the Russians had had a few epic editors, though…

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  3. No – hooray – I WIN! Seriously, I’ve only just got a bite out of my own TBR, don’t need anyone else’s influencing me. And there might be a book on its way to me TODAY, too …

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    • What??? No!!! I shall have to try harder to tempt you when I review them then! Yes, every time I declare the state of my TBR it seems to be the signal for more books to arrive… tragic, isn’t it? 😀

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  4. Good luck with Raven Black! I haven’t started that particular Cleeves series yet, but I intend to. I have watched all the TV adaptations that are available to me so far. Hoping I like it as well as the Vera books.

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    • Yes, it was largely your recent Vera reviews that prompted me to finally read her, but when I looked at my TBR I discovered the Shetland book had been sitting around for far longer. I have high expectations, so I’m going to have to clear room on the TBR for all her other books, I suspect… 😱

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  5. These do look good (except the Russian Revolution, of course!) I await your reviews with eagerness, particularly for Raven Black. It’s not often that we procrastinate three years to read something, so I’m interested in seeing if the wait was worthwhile (or not!)

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    • Hahaha – all my propaganda about the Revolution has clearly failed dismally! 😉 You know, I’ve really wanted to read Raven Black all along too – sometimes if a book doesn’t fit into one of my many challenges, it just never seems to make the cut. But I have high expectations of it now I’ve finally put it on the reading schedule… 😀

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  6. That cat is Gingy’s double – and is just as bad a jumper! Maybe it’s a ginger thing……
    I’m sure you’ll love The invisible Man, and Raven Black. I haven’t read the Winter Queen, but I know a bit about her and her daughters – great historical romance fodder when I was young.

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    • It made me think of Gingy too! Haha – I give it the benefit of the doubt – the car was icy, poor thing… 😉

      I’m really looking forward to both of those – I’m only sorry that’ll be my last of the big HG Wells sci-fi classics. I’m hoping The Winter Queen will be the same kind of well-researched but entertainingly told history as her last one…

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  7. Oh dear so sorry to hear there has been an increase on the TBR 😂
    I like the sound of Winter Queen and I also have Raven Black (and others in this series) on my TBR which I want to read as I so enjoyed Silent Voices that I read last year .

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    • *delicately sticks out tongue*

      I can’t understand why it’s taken me so long to read any Ann Cleeves – I have a horrible feeling I’m going to love it and have to add all her other books to the TBR! The Winter Queen should be good, I hope – her last book was as much of a romp as history books ever get… 😉

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  8. Good for you for sticking it out with the Russian Revolution challenge-it sounds like it was some pretty in-depth, complicated reading you accomplished there, so you should give yourself a good pat on the back and reward yourself with some delicious chocolate treats.

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    • I shall indeed – I feel I’ve earned it! 😀 I’ve really enjoyed the challenge in fact, right up to the last book or two when I suddenly reached a point where I felt – enough! But I think I’ll always have an interest in the period now…

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  9. FF, I am tempted by The Daughters of the Winter Queen, The Invisible Man and Black Raven, and I am particularly interested to hear your thoughts on the latter, because I love the BBC’s adaptation, Shetland. 😀

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    • They all sound good, don’t they? I loved Shetland too, though I only saw a few episodes, not being a big TV watcher. But I’ve heard so many glowing reviews of her books from other bloggers, I have really high hopes… 😀

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  10. I’ve not read any Ann Cleeves, but I do like the adaptations of Vera and Shetland on TV, especially Shetland, so I’ll be interested to hear what you make of Raven Black. Kind of hoping you find it poor so my TBR doesn’t increase if I’m honest 😉

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    • I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading all these HG Wells classics and, although they are sci-fi, they’re really more “ideas” books that say a lot about what the late Victorians were obsessing about… 🙂

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  11. I am planning (eventually) to give Anne Cleeves a try. I’m astonished that you’ve not given her a whirl before, FF: I’ll look forward to your thoughts in due course. You’ve also got me intrigued about The Winter Queen…

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    • I’m astonished too, especially since I’ve had a couple of her books on my Kindle for literally years now. Somehow something else always seems to get priority – but no longer! Her time has come… 😉

      I’m really looking forward to The Winter Queen. Her last book got a great balance between being properly researched and thoroughly entertaining – just how I like my history… 😀

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  12. And Quiet Flows the Don is quite an undertaking. I had several goes at reading it and managed it on the third try – I had found his world a little too vivid. But having overcome that I also read the sequel The Don Flows Home to the Sea. I went through a Russian phase in my early 20s which was probably helped by the fact that we were forced to study two of Solzhenitsyn’s books at school and I found my father had a shelf of Russian literature at home.

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    • Funnily enough, I’d really lost my enthusiasm for the thought of it, but it grabbed me straight away and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far! I think because I’ve been reading so much about this period in Russia’s history, I’ve got into the Cossack mind-set more easily than I would otherwise have done. I didn’t even know there was a sequel – thanks for the tip! I shall see how strong I’m feeling by the time I finish this one. I fear I only made it through one Solzhenitsyn long, long ago – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch – and doubt if I will ever tackle another… 😉

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