TBR Thursday 222… and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

I usually include a summary of how I’m progressing (or not) towards the targets I set myself for the year, but since I’ll be looking at my New Year’s Resolutions old and new tomorrow, I’ll leave that for then. So just a round-up of the books I’ve read and reviewed for my various ongoing challenges this time. I’ve read loads but due to my recent break, I’m way behind with reviews…

(Reminds me of my postman throwing books at me…)

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The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

Last check-in was in September, and this quarter I’ve been to three destinations…

On the Main Journey (made by the characters in Around the World in 80 Days) I took my time machine back to Omaha to visit the World Fair of 1898 in Timothy Schaffert’s surprisingly enjoyable The Swan Gondola. Then Joseph Conrad and Lord Jim took me on a revealing trip around various parts of the British Empire, including a harrowing voyage across another compulsory destination, the Arabian Sea.

I finished my quarter’s travels with a detour to visit the Igbo clan in colonial-era Nigeria in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

To see the full challenge including the Main Journey and all detours, click here.

72 down, 8 to go!

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The Classics Club

I’ve read an astonishing eight from my Classics Club list this quarter and had another still to review from the previous quarter. So far I’ve only reviewed five of these nine though, so have four still to review…

52. Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence – The story of young Paul Morel, the son of a Nottingham miner and alter-ego of the author, as he grows through childhood into manhood, and of the three women who vie for his love. This stood up very well to re-reading after many years, to my delight since it was one of the formative novels of my own adolescence. 5 stars

53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – New patient Randle P McMurphy arrives on the mental ward and is soon challenging Nurse Ratched for supremacy, geeing the Acutes up to rebel against the institution’s rules. Another re-read, of a book I found disappointing when I first read it many years ago too close to watching the movie, but this time around thought was brilliant. 5 stars.

54. Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon – This second part of A Scots Quair trilogy follows the further life of Chris Guthrie, now married to a minister and having moved from her farm to the small town of Segget. Unfortunately I didn’t think it was anywhere near to Sunset Song in terms of the writing, structure or in what it has to say about society, though it tries. Just 3 stars.

55. Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson – Billed as sci-fi, this is really more of an alternative history set in the then near future, in a Britain at war. The main protagonist doesn’t believe in killing so takes to the hills of Scotland with his wife, to live in a cave and wait for the war to be over. A bleak survivalist adventure that becomes dystopian in the end, that I found compelling despite my distaste for the premise. 4 stars.

56. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – The story of how two generations of an extended family live their lives in misery and strife, and then die, usually horribly. My last Steinbeck – I’ve had far too much of his utterly depressing view of humanity. A generous 2 stars.

I’m nearly back on track with this challenge and have several more lined up for the next quarter, including the winner of the latest Classics Club Spin, Grey Granite, the third book in A Scots Quair.

56 down, 34 to go!

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

I haven’t read any for this challenge this quarter since I’d already met my target for the year. However I still had three reviews pending from the quarter before. To see the full challenge, click here.

32.  Family Matters by Anthony Rolls – Robert and Bertha Kewdingham live in a state of constant quarrelling, tired of each other, dissatisfied with their lives but unable to change. It’s a pity that Bertha is attractive to other men, and that Robert keeps a pharmacy-size stock of poisons readily to hand to treat his rampaging hypochondria. Things are bound to get nasty… Excellent characterisation and a lot of fun. 4½ stars.

33.  Payment Deferred by CS Forester – Not really a mystery, this one. The murder happens right at the beginning, and the book is actually about the impact it has on the murderer’s psychology. We watch as guilt and fear eat away at him, destroying his already weak character. It’s very well written and psychologically convincing but, oh my, it’s depressing! Just 3 stars.

34.  The Curious Mr Tarrant by C. Daly King – A collection of eight stories. Tarrant is an amateur detective, but his interest is purely in the bizarre. He investigates for the intellectual thrill, and has no particular interest in achieving justice. I gave a couple of the early stories 5 stars and another 4. But the rest ranged from mediocre to dire, getting progressively worse as they went along. A disappointing 2 stars overall.

34 down, 68 to go!

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5 x 5 Challenge

Just one reviewed for this challenge this quarter. Struggling badly to motivate myself to continue with this since several of the books have been disappointing. But I’ll keep going for a little longer, although I’m dropping one of my five authors…

8.  East of Eden by John Steinbeck. As I said above in the Classics Club section, I’m done with Steinbeck now. There’s not enough chocolate in the world to compensate for the miasma of misery that hovers around him. A generous and final 2 stars.

8 down, 3 Steinbecks removed from list, 14 to go!

* * * * * * *

A mixed quarter’s reading as far as challenge books have gone, but still with some gems among them! Thank you for joining me on my reading adventures and…

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

44 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 222… and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. Wow, you’ve nearly made it round the world in books! Congratulations are well deserved here for your organisation and persistence in reading widely and yet with discipline! You have my admiration, and it’s a pleasure to receive the benefits of your reading adventures. 🎈🥂 🥳


    • I’ve been to some places more than others though – I’m ashamed of how little I’ve read from Africa and South America especially. Oh, and the Middle East… 😂 Aw, thank you – your company helps make it even more enjoyable. 😀


  2. Glad you found some gems among your challenges. I’m definitely going to try and read more classics in the murder/mystery genre. Here’s hoping for a lot of great books in the next quarter!


  3. Nice to see TBR Thursday on a Monday, I reckon anything goes at this time of year. You’ve certainly done well with the Classics Club Challenge. I’ve downloaded Sons and Lovers, and should get to it once I have finished with The Go Between, which was another of your classic recommendations.


    • HahahahahahaHAHA – you caught me! This is what happens when you prepare a post ahead of time and don’t think through when the holidays fall! Oh well! 😂

      I just finished The Go-Between before Christmas and was delighted it held up to my memory of it. Now all I have to do is actually get back into the swing of writing reviews before I forget it again! Rose has read it too, and Sandra’s still planning to, so it should be fun comparing notes. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Sons and Lovers… this really ought to be the year you start blogging, I feel… 😉


  4. You’ve made some great progress, FictionFan. And your mention of the Classics Club reminds me that I’ve been thinking of taking up that challenge at some point. I really should… But, what I can’t see is, why would you remove Steinbecks from your list? Next you’ll be telling me you didn’t enjoy Herman Melville’s work! 😉


    • Oh, yes, you should definitely do the Classics Club! I’ve found it great because it’s forced me to stop re-reading the same favourite classics which I’d got into a habit of doing, and try some new ones – especially some neglected Scottish ones. Hahahaha – well, let me put it this way, I like Melville nearly as much as I like Nabokov… 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are doing so well! I had to laugh at the “3 Steinbecks removed from list” note. 😃 😄 I remember the review that broke the camel’s back in regard to Mr. Steinbeck.


  6. They do say that time flies, but seriously, Thursday already??! Seems like you will soon finish AW80, are you going to do another travel challenge? It is such a great idea. Also, I like the Classics Club, if I weren’t so averse to commitments of any kind, I would join you. In any case, I mean to read more classics. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest could be one of them. It is ages since I watched the movies, so I wont be disappointed by how they compare.


    • Hahahaha! I’m so ashamed! This is what happens when you draft posts in advance and don’t pay enough attention to when the holidays fall! 😂

      Yes, I’ve loved the Around the World Challenge and am seriously tempted to do it all again. But I’ve got an idea for a slightly different one that will also take me to lots of places – still working on the details at the moment and I won’t be doing it till this one is done and dusted! The Classics Club is great fun, and you only have to read about twelve a year – I, of course, being a masochist/lunatic (delete as appropriate) went for ninety books instead of fifty which is why I have to read so many each quarter! One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is well worth reading – and although the events are the same as the movie, the perspective is very different…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, I hope you enjoy it! I’m really pleased I re-read it and enjoyed it so much more this time – maybe that’s a sign I should dig out some more of the classics that underwhelmed the youthful version of me… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! Look at you go! I’m so impressed by your progress, especially with The Classics Club. 90 books in five years is a massive challenge. Looking forward to learning how you are re-jigging the Around the World Reading challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am in no position to shame or motivate you, as I have (and continue to) participate in literally zero challenges. Do you think I should try this year? Does it make a big difference in blog stats, do you gain a bunch of new followers/discover new blogs or is it more for yourself? I’m looking for a good reason to jump into challenges but I’m still so unsure…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it makes absolutely no difference to stats, but that’s probably because I do my own challenges rather than joining in with other people’s. My classics reviews bring in loads of views though – far more than contemporary books. I suspect it’s schoolkids looking for book reports to… ahem… read. I often wonder what their teachers think of my views on, say Moby Dick… or Steinbeck… 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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