TBR Thursday 198…

Episode 198

Yet again, the TBR has dropped – down 1 to 221! I wish this was because I was racing through the books, but in reality it’s because I’ve been abandoning books right, left and centre. It’s a brutal way to get it down, but effective…

Here are a few more that will be rolling off the pile soon…


Courtesy of Picador via NetGalley. The story of a real female amateur detective operating in the time of Golden Age mystery fiction is irresistible…

The Blurb says: Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905. Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime?

Interweaving tales from Maud West’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research, Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth.

With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.

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Courtesy of Viking via NetGalley. I know nothing about this one but have heard good things about the author, and the blurb makes it sound wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful. Plus it’s set in Istanbul, so hopefully will make for an interesting detour on my Around the World challenge…

The Blurb says: “In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…”

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . . 

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Courtesy of Orion via NetGalley. RJ Ellory is one of those authors who is great when he’s on form, but sometimes he’s not. Hopefully this “what if?” thriller will be one of the great ones…

On 22nd November 1963, John F. Kennedy’s presidential motorcade rode through Dealey Plaza. He and his wife Jackie greeted the crowds on a glorious Friday afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

Mitch Newman is a photojournalist based out of Washington, D.C. His phone never rings. When it does, a voice he hasn’t heard in years will tell him his former fiancée Jean has taken her own life.

Jean was an investigative reporter working the case of a lifetime. Somewhere in the shreds of her investigation is the truth behind her murder.


For Mitch, piecing together the clues will become a dangerous obsession: one that will lead him to the dark heart of his country – and into the crossfire of a conspiracy…

* * * * *

Fiction on Audio

I tried to listen to this when it came out and abandoned it, partly because Reese Witherspoon’s accent is so Southern I was struggling to catch some of the words, but mainly because I was uneasy about the publication of the book – I still feel Harper Lee was taken advantage of at the end of her life. However, having recently re-read To Kill a Mockingbird and just finished the fascinating Furious Hours by Casey Cep (review to follow), about the true crime novel Lee tried and failed to write, I find I’m ready to approach this one now, more as an interesting insight on Lee herself, perhaps, than with a real anticipation of it being a great novel. If Reese is too much for me, I have a paper copy to fall back on…

The Blurb says: Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

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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?

61 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 198…

  1. I’ll be very interested in your review of 10 minutes FF. This does seem to be an unusual structure and setting for a story and I’m wondering how well it works.

    • I’m intrigued and also a bit scared – most of the books I’ve been abandoning recently are new lit-fic releases. I think I’m out of sync with the modern world – I blame all these classics I’ve been reading! But I have my fingers crossed the book is as appealing as the blurb…

  2. I also have The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective from NetGalley – it looks good! And I’ve had Go Set a Watchman on my Kindle for a while now. I can’t quite bring myself to read it yet as I loved To Kill a Mockingbird so much and don’t want to spoil my memory of Atticus Finch. I’ve seen varying reviews of Watchman, but maybe enough time has passed for me to read it with an open mind.

    • I’m looking forward to meeting Maud West – she sounds like fun! I found my opinion of Mockingbird changed slightly on my recent re-read – I enjoyed it just as much and rated it as highly, but didn’t come away with the same feeling of Atticus as being what we would now think of as anti-racist exactly. That, plus the really interesting background Casey Cep gives in Furious Hours, has really whetted my appetite for Watchman now – I feel I understand much better what Lee was attempting to do with it. Finger crossed – and I do highly recommend Furious Hours, which is still available on NetGalley… 😀

  3. I do wonder what you’ll think of Go Set a Watchman< FIctionFan. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't say anything more. I'll be really interested in your view of it, though. In the meantime, your other choices are interesting, too. Speculative fiction, a weirdly wonderful, wonderfully weird book, and crime fiction too? I think you're in for quite an interesting ride.

    • I’d really decided not to read Watchman, but the discussion of the background to it that Cep gives in Furious Hours made me very intrigued, and I’m now going into it with a different mindset, with more of an idea of what Lee was trying to do with it. Fingers crossed, anyway – I’ve only listened to the first half hour or so, but already it’s going better than last time.

  4. I shall be interested in what you make of Go Set A Watchman as well. In many ways I thought it was a far more truthful book that Go Kill A Mockingbird, which might well explain why it wasn’t published when it was first written.

    • Interesting you say that, Alex! The reason I wanted to try again was that the discussion to the background of it in Casey Cep’s Furious Hours made me think exactly that – that Watchman was indeed the book Lee wanted to write, but she was guided by her editors into Mockingbird on the grounds that it would be more acceptable to the reading public. So I’m intrigued…

  5. Congratulations on that drop! Oh dear! Hope the seal landed in a softer looking spot than was depicted. Maud West’s adventures sound intriguing. I will withhold any opinion of Watchman until after you review it, should you choose to do so.

    • Haha – I did google seals and discovered they frequently roll deliberately because it’s easier than walking… some days I know how they feel! 😉 I’m looking forward nearly as much to hearing what other people thought of Watchman as I am to the book itself. I must say the discussion on Cep’s Furious Hours has really changed my perception of it going in…

    • It sounds great, doesn’t it? I had to read the blurb twice to be sure they were saying she was a real person – she sounds just like a fictional sleuth! I hope it lives up to its blurb… 😀

  6. I am super interested in that Shafak book, FF! I had no idea she had another one coming out. I think Reese Witherspoon must be “adding” to her accent in that audio because the book takes place in the Deep South. At least she’s from Alabama, but I don’t like put on accents because they can be hard for anyone to understand. I am told I speak without an accent. 😂 That’s what living all over does to you! Though I guess it’s an American one.

    Like I told Eva, you seem stressed with this decline in TBR. Are you feeling ok? ♥️

    • Oh, have you read her before? I know I’ve seen glowing reviews in the past, which is why this one appealed – that and the intriguing blurb. Yes, I think Reece is “doing” a Deep South accent and it sounds very authentic to me (though what would I know??) For some reason, I’m not struggling as much with it this time – I think maybe my reluctance to read the book was the real problem last time. Or maybe I’ve got better headphones now! Ha – I don’t think I’ve got a Glasgow accent, really, but it’s definitely Scottish.

      Thanks, Jennifer – yes, I’m fine. But because of recent events and still not being quite back to my usual self, I’m trying not to get stuck in books I’m not enjoying in case I go back into fullscale slump mode again – reading is my major escape. So I’m abandoning books I’d usually force my way through. I might go back to some of them later… 🙂

      • I bet your accent is beautiful! I have not read her, but I have wanted to for ages. I bought the last book, but haven’t read it, of course. You know how I am!

        I am sorry- I was teasing about you feeling ok, and as I was typing it, I almost thought better of it. I totally understand not feeling like yourself, and even if you were, you shouldn’t be stuck on reading books you aren’t enjoying (unless you want to be, of course). All my “read” books are 4s and 5s because I put a book down if it’s less than a 3.5 for me. I know pretty quickly if I am clicking with a book or not, and if not, aside it goes. I love having fun with you with your TBR because we are so opposite in our TBR behaviors. You have wonderful self-control, and I am a disaster (with books!). I am very much a “to each her own/live and let live person,” so I don’t really mean to tease other than to poke fun at myself.

        I sincerely hope I didn’t come across as insensitive in my teasing, and if I did, I am truly sorry. ♥️

        • Oh, no, I didn’t think you were being insensitive at all. Haha – in fact, it’s me who should be apologising for not realising you were just teasing! 😀

          I love that you think I have self-control – it all goes to show that these things are relative… 😉 I usually quite enjoy reading “bad” books and then writing scathing, hopefully humorous, reviews of them (though I don’t do that to new authors!), but at the moment I’m really only in the mood for reading books that are truly grabbing and holding my attention.

          • I understand and definitely no need to apologize. I do love your “thoughtful” reviews! They are always entertaining! I hope you are reading something you love this weekend. ♥️ Have you had the book When All Is Said on your radar, or have you read it? I believe it’s an Irish author and setting (not Scottish), but my goodness, this story. It’s definitely an emotional one.

            • No, I don’t even think I’ve seen any reviews of it. Oh, I take that back – I just checked out the blurb and definitely have seen reviews of it! Another one that sounds intriguing…

  7. Oh, I do hope that poor seal recovers from his tumble down the cliffs! He looks a bit bewildered, leading me to imagine something awoke him unexpectedly. Congrats on the TBR drop, by whatever means. From this list, I’m leaning toward Three Bullets. That period of history fascinates me. As for Go Set A Watchman, well, let’s just say I enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird so much and found this one disappointing. I’m interested in how it affects you though.

    • Hahaha – poor seal! But google assures me seals often choose to roll because it’s easier for them than “walking”. I like the sound of Three Bullets too – an intriguing ‘what if’. I’m not expecting to like Watchman as much as Mockingbird either, but the discussion of it in Furious Hours has left me wanting to read it for myself and made me feel I’ve got a better idea now of what Lee was trying to do with it… we’ll see!

  8. My TBR is completely out-of-control. I like your idea of of purging the list. I have books that have been on my TBR so long that I no longer remember why I ever wanted to read them.

    Give Go Set a Watchman another chance. I’m from NC, so I found your comment about Reece Witherspoon’s accent interesting. I hadn’t notice she had an accent. LOL!

    • I purged loads off mine a while back – lots of Kindle books I’d bought on sale in the first flush of enthusiasm that I realised I really didn’t particularly want to read. And I’m ruthless at purging my wishlist once a month or so.

      I’m actually looking forward to Watchman now – I think it was just the idea of it that put me off last time. Ha – I think Reece is “doing” a Deep South accent for the book, but I’m finding it easier this time around for some reason – maybe I have better headphones now! 😀

  9. I’m totally intrigued by the Elif Shafak book and need to look into it more closely! It sounds bizarre, yet fascinating.

    If you struggled with R. Witherspoon’s accent, you’d probably have trouble with mine 😉 . Based on everything I’ve heard about it, I have no real desire to read the Harper Lee book. It was only in the last ten years that I read To Kill A Mockingbird! (or saw the film!) 😱

    • It does sound weird, doesn’t it? But intriguing! Fingers crossed – it’ll have to wait till I finish Middlemarch though, so it’ll be a while…

      Haha – I often struggle with American accents on films and TV. I quite often have to use the subtitles! But then I expect most American would struggle with my Scottish accent too. 😀 It was reading the background to Watchman and Mockingbird in Casey Cep’s Furious Hours that made me want to read Watchman – more to see what Lee was trying to do with it than because I’ve really got high expectations of it. But I think I’m going into it with an open mind this time… I think…

  10. I read Go Set a Watchman and I actually liked it, but mostly for the peek into what I thought was Lee’s writing process. It’s like the bones of To Kill a Mockingbird are in there and she had to sift them out. I don’t have a great attachment to TKAM or Atticus Finch like some readers do, though. I’ll be interested to see what you think!

    • After re-reading Mockingbird recently, my view of Atticus has changed a bit already, so I think I’m a bit more open to Watchman now, Casey Cep’s Furious Hours kinda gives the background to what Lee was attempting to do with it, and how her editors guided her away from her original idea to develop Mockingbird, and that’s left me very intrigued…

  11. The poor seal! I feel as if I shouldn’t laugh at it but I couldn’t help it. Three Bullets sounds interesting, so does Maud, but it’s Go Set A Watchman that I’m most interested in your review of, having read it with similar reservations to your own.

    • Hahaha – poor seal indeed! But google assures me that seals often choose to roll because it’s easier for them than “walking” so I’m hoping it meant to do it! 😀 I still feel she was taken advantage of, but enough time has passed for me not to be so upset at that idea, especially since she’s now dead, and Casey Cep’s book, Furious Hours, fascinated me with the background to the writing of Watchman and how it morphed into Mockingbird. So now I’m really keen to read it…

      • Might have to look out for Furious Hours. I’m reading Charles Shields’ Mockingbird at the moment, which I’m finding very interesting. She wouldn’t contribute, but the book has a very respectful feel.

        • Cep mentions that one very briefly but doesn’t say much beyond that Lee wouldn’t co-operate with any biographer. I’d like to read it sometime. Because Furious Hours covers a lot of stuff, the biographical bit about Lee isn’t hugely long, but I still found it very illuminating, and it goes quite deeply into her actual writing process. I think you’d enjoy it.

  12. That lady detective book looks great! I also share your uneasiness about Harper Lee, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me that that book was released so late in her life. Interesting about Reese Witherspoon’s accent! Good thing you have a paper copy too haha

    • I still think Lee was taken advantage of at the end of her life, but actually I’m enjoying Watchman considerably more than I expected to this time around – still in the early stages though! Haha – I quite often have to use subtitles when watching American shows and films… I’m sure they speak a foreign language… 😉

  13. I’ve had a re-read of Mockingbird followed by a first reading of Watchman scheduled for some months now. Sadly, I’m useless at keeping to a schedule – other books keep elbowing their way to the front. Harper Lee’s books are just too well-mannered 😉 And I don’t know what to make of the Shafak book; at the moment I think definitely not. But you’ll probably read it and love it and write a wonderful review…. so I might as well add it to the list now! 😀

    • I must say reading Furious Hours made me reconsider my attitude to Watchman – apparently, according to Cep, it was really the book Lee wanted to write and it was her editors and publisher who persuaded her to concentrate on Scout as a child instead. And I did find on my recent re-read of Mockingbird, that I didn’t find Atticus quite so anti-racist as I had originally thought… times change, and attitudes along with them, including mine!

      Haha! I hope I will be trying to persuade you to read the Shafak, but at the moment I seem to be abandoning most new releases in lit-fic, so we’ll see if this one makes it through… 😉

  14. LOL, love that video clip! What an effective way to go downhill.

    I haven’t heard anyone say that Go Set a Watchman was anywhere near the quality of her TKAMB. But I haven’t read it, so I’m just passing along hearsay, something Atticus would raise an eyebrow about.

    The 10 minutes 38 seconds book reminds me of the brilliant short story by Tobias Wolff, Bullet in the Brain. It’s in one of his collections that I can’t recall now. But it is masterful. This book might tempt me, especially since it’s from a different culture.

    • Yes, I’m thinking of seeing if I can roll down the high street next time I’m in town…

      The book I just read (Furious Hours) has left me feeling that Watchman was the book she actually wanted to write, but got pushed into Mockingbird by her editors and publishers because they thought it would be more acceptable. That’s left me intrigued…

      I haven’t read anything by Tobias Wolff, but 10 Minutes sounds as if it could be either wonderful or awful. I’m hoping for the former!

  15. I wasn’t going to read Go Set a Watchman, for the same reasons that you detail. But I recently found a copy at a thrift store and couldn’t resist so I’ll probably get to it sooner or later. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts.

  16. I didn’t know RJ Ellory was still around – he did some stuff with the Bookcrossers locally then there was a sockpuppet review scandal … Well done on getting the TBR down, mine is swelling and swelling!!

    • Ha – I have had the dubious pleasure of conversing with one of Mr Ellory’s sockpuppets when I gave one of his books a less than stellar review. It’s crazy – he’s good enough not to need to do all that nonsense. It won’t stop me posting an honest review of this one, so I guess he’ll just have to hope I like it… 😉

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