TBR Thursday 188…

Episode 188

I’m in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, but fortunately I appear to be in a book-acquiring slump too, so the TBR has increased by just one to 226.

Maybe these will help pull me out of the doldrums…


A gift from my brother. A little bit of Dickens sounds like a wonderful way to brighten every day of the year, doesn’t it? 

The Blurb says: A charming memento of the Victorian era’s literary colossus, The Daily Charles Dickens is a literary almanac for the ages. Tenderly and irreverently anthologized by Dickens scholar James R. Kincaid, this collection mines the British author’s beloved novels and Christmas stories as well as his lesser-known sketches and letters for “an around-the-calendar set of jolts, soothings, blandishments, and soarings.”

A bedside companion to dip into year round, this book introduces each month with a longer seasonal quote, while concise bits of wisdom and whimsy mark each day. Hopping gleefully from Esther Summerson’s abandonment by her mother in Bleak House to a meditation on the difficult posture of letter-writing in The Pickwick Papers, this anthology displays the wide range of Dickens’s stylistic virtuosity—his humour and his deep tragic sense, his ear for repetition, and his genius at all sorts of voices.

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Courtesy of Scribner. I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Barbash’s writing in his short story collection, Stay Up With Me, although, as with a lot of modern short stories, I found some of them rather too fragmentary for my taste. I’ve been waiting patiently for a long time for his next production and am delighted that he’s chosen the novel form this time. Sounds good…

The Blurb says: An evocative and wildly absorbing novel about the Winters, a family living in New York City’s famed Dakota apartment building in the year leading up to John Lennon’s assassination.

It’s the fall of 1979 in New York City when twenty-three-year-old Anton Winter, back from the Peace Corps and on the mend from a nasty bout of malaria, returns to his childhood home in the Dakota. Anton’s father, the famous late-night host Buddy Winter, is there to greet him, himself recovering from a breakdown. Before long, Anton is swept up in an effort to reignite Buddy’s stalled career, a mission that takes him from the gritty streets of New York, to the slopes of the Lake Placid Olympics, to the Hollywood Hills, to the blue waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and brings him into close quarters with the likes of Johnny Carson, Ted and Joan Kennedy, and a seagoing John Lennon.

But the more Anton finds himself enmeshed in his father’s professional and spiritual reinvention, the more he questions his own path, and fissures in the Winter family begin to threaten their close bond. By turns hilarious and poignant, The Dakota Winters is a family saga, a page-turning social novel, and a tale of a critical moment in the history of New York City and the country at large.

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Classic Thriller

Courtesy of Oxford World’s Classics. One for my Classics Club list. I don’t know anything about this other than the blurb and the fact that it’s considered a classic of espionage fiction. It sounds good, though, and I’ll know a lot more once I read the OWC introduction… and the book, of course!

The Blurb says: One of the first great spy novels, The Riddle of the Sands is set during the long suspicious years leading up to the First World War. Bored with his life in London, a young man accepts an invitation to join a friend on a sailing holiday in the North Sea. A vivid exploration of the mysteries of seamanship, the story builds in excitement as these two young adventurers discover a German plot to invade England.

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Courtesy of Quercus via NetGalley. I didn’t realise when I requested this one that it’s not actually a new novel from May – it’s a re-publication from way back in his first incarnation as a novelist, long before he rose to the bestseller lists. I’ve always wanted to see how he started out, but the early books have been out of print since before I became a fan – he had a pause in novel writing when he spent several years writing and producing dramas for Scottish television. So I’m intrigued, but have lowered my expectations a little to allow for the fact that he was still learning his craft…

The Blurb says: There are two men on their way to Brussels from the UK: Neil Bannerman, an iconoclastic journalist for Scotland’s Daily Standard whose irate editor wants him out of the way, and Kale–a professional assassin.

Expecting to find only a difficult, dreary political investigation in Belgium, Bannerman has barely settled in when tragedy strikes. His host, a fellow journalist, along with a British Cabinet minister, are discovered dead in the minister’s elegant Brussels townhouse. It appears that they have shot each other. But the dead journalist’s young autistic daughter, Tania, was hidden in a closet during the killings, and when she draws a chilling picture of a third party–a man with no face–Bannerman suddenly finds himself a reluctant participant in a desperate murder investigation.

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads.

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

43 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 188…

  1. I’ve heard good things about The Riddle in the Sands, but I haven’t read it myself. I’ve also got a copy of Peter May’s book, which I bought not realising it’s a re-publication. My husband has read it and enjoyed it though. The Dickens book looks a good one! I hope you climb out of your reading slump soon.


    • I’m hoping getting back into the blogging routine will break my slump. Yes, I’ve seen a couple of good reviews of Riddle too and I must say I find the cover very striking – not that I’m shallow enough to be influenced by that… 😉 The Peter May will be interesting – he must have been very young when he write it, I think.


  2. It’s good to see (or read from) you again, FF. I can imagine that some small well-chosen daily doses of Dickens will indeed lift the spirits and be like a word from a good friend. The promise of ‘jolts, soothings, blandishments, and soarings’ sounds really enticing. I’m interested to read what you will think of The Riddle of the Sands (new to me) and so far any May has been a good May for me.


    • Thanks, Christine – hoping to get back into a more normal routine! Yes, a Dickens-A-Day should probably be made compulsory, or at least provided on the National Health Service! I love the cover of The Riddle, and as you know I’m a huge fan of Peter My, so I’m really interested to read one of his earlier books from way back before even I had heard of him…


  3. I enjoyed The Man With No Face. It’s had a bit of a revamp and to be honest, if I hadn’t known already I wouldn’t have guessed it was a re-publication. Look forward to your thoughts and I hope one one or more of these gets your reading mojo going again.


  4. So glad you’re back, FictionFan. And I know what you mean about reading slumps. I hope you’ll get your mojo back soon. In the meantime, that Peter May caught my eye. What a talented writer – one of those you can usually rely on not to disappoint.


    • Thanks, Margot! I’m hoping getting back into the swing of blogging will pull me out of my slump. I’m really intrigued to read the Peter May book – I’ve always wanted to see how he started out, but the early books were already out of print by the time I became a fan.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read The Man with No Face, but it sounds most interesting, despite its being a re-publication. The Dickens also sounds good. I think you’re entitled to a slump now and then. Reading is supposed to be fun, so you don’t want to make it drudgery!


    • I’m looking forward to the Peter May – I’m intrigued to see what his youthful writing was like! And Dickens is guaranteed to start any day well. 😀 Yes, I’m hoping getting back into a blogging routine will kick my reading routine back into action too…


  6. Oh, wow…. I’m new enough here to just now see that you actually have a number on your TBR pile! While Amazon counts those on my wish list for me (way too many), I have no idea how many are sitting on my shelf and in my Kindle/Cloud!

    I did acquire and read one in January that I picked up from poking around your blog at the beginning of the year. (The Day of the Triffids)


    • So far I’m thoroughly enjoying my daily dose of Dickens, even though I keep forgetting to read it and having to catch up three or four days at a time! I can’t imagine a world that didn’t have Dickens in it… 😀


    • Thanks, Cleo, good to be back! Yes, I’m hoping some of these might do the trick, plus hopefully getting back into a blogging routine will kickstart my reading mojo again… 😀


  7. I read The Riddle of the Sands at one point in my life when I missed England terribly and was hoping against all hope to return there to complete my studies… so it was that feeling that kept me trudging through it. It’s a bit long-winded, especially for a spy story, and full of nautical details that didn’t mean much to me.


    • I had much the same reaction in the end. I loved the beginning with him being all self-deprecating about his own yachting snobbery and so on, but once it got bogged down (excuse pun) in those never-ending sands I began to lose the will to live. Overall I enjoyed it but not quite as much as I’d hoped.


    • I enjoyed The Riddle in the Sands – these old adventure stories are always fun. And I’m looking forward to getting to the May soon, and seeing how he started out… 🙂


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