TBR Thursday 202…

Episode 202

Aha, you doubters! Last week’s increase was a temporary blip! This week the TBR is back down – by 2 to 222. Cause for celebration…

Here are a few more that will be sashaying off the list soon…

Factual

Courtesy of Oxford University Press. A nicely quirky way to tell the story of some of the women recognised by scientists but often not well known to us lesser mortals. I had a quick look at the list of names and am ashamed to admit to only recognising about five of them, so I’m looking forward to learning more about them all…

The Blurb says: Philosophers and poets in times past tried to figure out why the stainless moon “smoothly polished, like a diamond” in Dante’s words, had stains. The agreed solution was that, like a mirror, it reflected the imperfect Earth. Today we smile, but it was a clever way to understand the Moon in a manner that was consistent with the beliefs of their age. The Moon is no longer the “in” thing. We see it as often as the Sun and give it little thought ― we’ve become indifferent. However, the Moon does reflect more than just sunlight. The Moon, or more precisely the nomenclature of lunar craters, still holds up a mirror to an important aspect of human history. Of the 1586 craters that have been named honoring philosophers and scientists, only 28 honor a woman. These 28 women of the Moon present us with an opportunity to meditate on this gap, but perhaps more significantly, they offer us an opportunity to talk about their lives, mostly unknown today.

* * * * *

Fiction

The book that’s been lingering on my TBR longest, since 20/6/2011, it seems about time I should actually read this one! It’s one of my 20 Books of Summer

The Blurb says: Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, Bessy Buckley – the wide-eyed Irish heroine of The Observations – takes a job as a maid in a big house outside Edinburgh working for the beautiful Arabella. Bessy is intrigued by her new employer, but puzzled by her increasingly strange requests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts. And it seems that Arabella has a few secrets of her own – including her near-obsessive affection for Nora, a former maid who died in mysterious circumstances.

* * * * *

Classic Adventure

Another of my 20 Books and also one from my Classics Club list. I love Rider Haggard but have read surprisingly few of his books, tending to re-read the same ones again and again. So I’m looking forward to this one, which will be new to me…

The Blurb says: “Nada the Lily” is the thrilling story of the brave Zulu warrior Umslopogaas and his love for the most beautiful of Zulu women, Nada the Lily. Young Umslopogaas, son of the bloodthirsty Zulu king Chaka, is forced to flee when Chaka orders his death. In the adventures that ensue, Umslopogaas is carried away by a lion and then rescued by Galazi, king of an army of ghost-wolves.

Together, Umslopogaas and Galazi fight for glory and honour and to avenge their wrongs. With their fabled weapons, an axe called Groan-Maker and the club Watcher of the Woods, the two men become legendary warriors. But even these two unstoppable heroes may finally have met their match when the Zulu king sends his army of slayers to destroy them!

Although he is more famous for his romances “King Solomon’s Mines” (1885) and “She” (1887), the unjustly neglected “Nada the Lily” (1892) is one of H. Rider Haggard’s finest achievements. “Nada the Lily” is a dazzling blend of adventure, romance, fantasy, and the Gothic, brilliantly weaving fiction and history into an unforgettable tale.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime

Courtesy of the British Library. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the other books of Bellairs the BL has already published, so am looking forward to meeting Inspector Littlejohn again…

The Blurb says: Following a mysterious explosion, the offices of Excelsior Joinery Company are no more; the 3 directors are killed and the peace of a quiet town in Surrey lies in ruins. When the supposed cause of ignited gas leak is dismissed and the presence of dynamite revealed, Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is summoned to the scene.

But beneath the sleepy veneer of Evingden lies a hotbed of deep-seated grievances. Confounding Littlejohn’s investigation is an impressive cast of suspicious persons, each concealing their own axe to grind.

Bellairs’ novel of small-town grudges with calamitous consequences revels in the abundant possible solutions to the central crime as a masterpiece of misdirection.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads or Amazon UK.

* * * * *

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

53 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 202…

  1. Well, I am impressed, FictionFan! Your TBR is plummeting! I say that calls for a piece of cake. Just watch your postman doesn’t ring more than once… 😉

    As to these books, they all look great. The Bellaires got my interest right away. For some reason, I love that title! And I’m very much interested in The Women of the Moon. I’m shamefully uninformed about those women, so I’m looking forward to reading what you learn from that one.

    • Hahaha! Now there’s a scary thought! 😉

      I have enjoyed the previous Bellairs so have high hopes for this one (if tennis ever lets me read anything that is – I seem to be getting further behind every day!) The Women of the Moon does look good – an interesting approach to both which women have been considered worthy, and also to looking at why so few women have been…

  2. They all look interesting, but it’s The Women of the Moon that really stands out. I’m going to have to look at it more closely; it sounds right up my alley! (great cover, too!) At the same time everyone else was reading Hidden Figures (I did watch and enjoy the film), I was reading The Rise of the Rocket Girls, so women in science is a topic I enjoy.

    • The Women of the Moon is definitely this week’s popular choice! It’s appalling so few of the moon’s features have been named fater women, and even more appalling that I haven’t heard of most of them. I’m hoping the book will be as intriguing as it sounds – I’ll let you know!

    • Hahaha! You don’t trust me at all, do you?? 😂 No, I was a good girl and read up a storm last weekend! Sadly, I don’t seem to have touched a book since…

    • I should really aim to be on 222 when I reach TBR Thursday 222 – there’s gotta be some kind of magical significance to that! 😉 I’ve enjoyed the other Bellairs I’ve read, so have high hopes for this one. Haha – I hope The Observations actually makes it this time – it’s been on and off my reading list so often over the years it must be dizzy…

    • It does sound good, doesn’t it? Though it’s appalling to realise quite how few women have been honoured in this way – and that even so I haven’t heard of most of them!

  3. I enjoyed The Observations, although I seem to remember it was written in an unusual style. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it! All of your other books this week sound interesting. I’m actually reading a Littlejohn mystery at the moment, though not one of the BLCC ones.

    • Oh dear, I don’t usually get on very well with unusual styles (being an old grump 😉 ) But I’ll keep my fingers crossed! I’ve liked the couple of Littlejohn books I’ve read so far – he’s kinda understated, but I’ve found the plots and settings very good. So high hopes for this one!

  4. Woo-Hoo, congrats on the drop in your TBR!! Most impressive, especially realizing it’s summertime and the post office keeps delivering new books to read! I think I might be safe this week. The vintage crime book sounds best of this lot, but not until I can get my own TBR slimmed down a bit.

    • Ha! The post office is less of a problem at the moment than the tennis! My reading pace has slown to a crawl. I have high hopes for this vintage crime one, so I’ll see if I can tempt you when I review it… 😀

  5. I’ve read the Observations, twice in fact. That wasn’t by design – I simply forgot I had read it until I was about three quarters of the way through it again. and still I can’t remember anything about it….

  6. I fancy the Jane Harris book and I always read any British Library Crime Classics that I get my hands on, even although some have been quite disappointing.

    • The Jane Harris does sound good but seems to have had a mixed reaction from the people who’ve read it, so I’m keeping my expectations moderate. I found the early BL Crime Classics very mixed, but I feel they’ve got into their stride now – I seem to have thoroughly enjoyed most of the ones they’ve brought out in the last year or so. Either that, or my brain has just become more attuned to the style of writing…

    • Hahaha – I’m glad I’m forgiven! 😀 With all the tennis that’s going on, my reading rate has dropped to nearly zero so I don’t expect it to drop much over the next few weeks!

  7. I was the odd one out where The Observations was concerned; I didn’t think it was anywhere near as good as everyone else seemed to, so I shall be very interested to see what you make of it.

    • Oh dear! I don’t think you’re altogether alone – some of the other comments have made me think this is one a lot of people didn’t think quite lived up to the hype. Maybe that’s why I kept putting it off back at the time – can’t remember. But we’ll see – maybe it will blow me away! Maybe.

  8. Women of the moon! How fascinating. I wonder if in a few years we will see our beliefs around Mars the same way we do of people’s beliefs of the moon back then? Will we think our current selves entirely ridiculous?

    • That’s one of the reasons I most want a time machine – I’d love to go forward and see what we look like from a distance of a couple of hundred years. Every generation thinks it’s got all the right answers, and then the next bunch of young upstarts come along and tell them they got it all wrong… 😂

    • I’m feeling very proud! Now if only my reading rate hadn’t dropped to zero (tennis!) I’d be doing really well… 😉 The Moon is definitely this week’s popular choice.

  9. The Women of the Moon attracts me most, but if you were to hold a staple gun to my head I’d be happy to go with any — though the Rider Haggard less so.

    • Hahaha! I shall see if I can find my staple gun then! I love Rider Haggard, but I often wonder if that’s because I first read him when I was very young. If I was reading him for the first time now I might find it harder to allow for different times, though I always felt he was more respectful of the “natives” than many of his contemporaries.

      • Yes, I reread King Solomon’s Mines two or three years ago and it wasn’t half bad and, as you say, he wasn’t as disrespectful of indigenous peoples as, say, Conrad appears to have been, though one could argue he was capable of a more patronising ‘noble savage’ attitude in a few cases. I ought to read more, maybe the one you laud here! 🙂

        • This one is new to me, although Umslopogaas also appears in one of the ones I loved and re-read frequently in childhood – Allan Quatermain – so I’m looking forward to learning more of his story.

  10. I do seem to recall when your TBR pile was under 100. Oh, so many years ago. The only one here that tempts me is The Women of the Moon. Would be interested to see how many I know.

    • I know! I think it was about 74 when I first started doing these posts. So it’s clearly the blogosphere’s fault and not mine!! I bet you’d know more than me, partly because you’re more scientifically knowledgeable and partly because I bet lots of the more modern ones will be American, not unnaturally. I only recognised about five of the names…

  11. For me, Jane Harris’s The Observations would have been better edited into a shorter book – as the stretched out version fizzled out by the second half.
    Like many others here, I’m interested in the Moon book. The Scientists by Zing Tsjeng (2018) is another interesting selection of women erased from the history of scientific discovery.

    • Oh, dear! You’re not the first to suggest that The Observations didn’t quite live up to its hype, and I do get annoyed at books that are stretched beyond what the story requires. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed! I think there has been a little spate of books recognising women’s contribution to science, and well overdue! I’m still horrified that I only recognised about five of the names in the index of this one, so clearly I need to read the book!

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