TBR Thursday 227…

Episode 227

Hurrah! The awful rise in the TBR has been reversed this week due to me finally finishing a few books – down three to 213! I’m sure success is finally within my sights…

Here are a few more I’ll be banging into soon…

Fiction

The Siege by Helen Dunmore

I’ve already been to Moscow for my Around the World challenge, but given the size of Russia and the fact that both Moscow and St Petersburg/Leningrad have been considered capital cities, sometimes simultaneously, with Moscow looking east while St Petersburg looked west, I wanted to visit both. Doctor Zhivago took me back to the Revolution; this one is set during WW2.  

The Blurb says: Leningrad, September 1941. Hitler orders the German forces to surround the city at the start of the most dangerous, desperate winter in its history. For two pairs of lovers – Anna and Andrei, Anna’s novelist father and banned actress Marina – the siege becomes a battle for survival. They will soon discover what it is like to be so hungry you boil shoe leather to make soup, so cold you burn furniture and books. But this is not just a struggle to exist, it is also a fight to keep the spark of hope alive…

The Siege is a brilliantly imagined novel of war and the wounds it inflicts on ordinary people’s lives, and a profoundly moving celebration of love, life and survival.

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Classic American Fiction

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

One from my Classics Club list. I must admit I’m dreading this one – the blurb and reviews make it sound quite awful. But I know many people love it so (despite the fact that many people also love Gone with the Wind and East of Eden, making me doubtful about whether many people were reading the same versions as me 😉 ) I’ll give it a go. If it surprises me, it can only be in a good way…

The Blurb says: Carson McCullers’ prodigious first novel was published to instant acclaim when she was just twenty-three. Set in a small town in the middle of the deep South, it is the story of John Singer, a lonely deaf-mute, and a disparate group of people who are drawn towards his kind, sympathetic nature. The owner of the café where Singer eats every day, a young girl desperate to grow up, an angry drunkard, a frustrated black doctor: each pours their heart out to Singer, their silent confidant, and he in turn changes their disenchanted lives in ways they could never imagine. 

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Historical Fiction

The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd

Courtesy of John Murray Press via NetGalley. Hmm, this sounds good but early reviews have been very mixed. Still, maybe the many people who didn’t like it are Steinbeck fans, so there’s still hope…

The Blurb says: In 1815, a supervolcanic eruption led to the extraordinary ‘Year Without Summer’ in 1816: a massive climate disruption causing famine, poverty and riots. Lives, both ordinary and privileged, changed forever.

1815, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia
Mount Tambora explodes in a cataclysmic eruption, killing thousands. Sent to investigate, ship surgeon Henry Hogg can barely believe his eyes. Once a paradise, the island is now solid ash, the surrounding sea turned to stone. But worse is yet to come: as the ash cloud rises and covers the sun, the seasons will fail.

1816.
In Switzerland, Mary Shelley finds dark inspiration. Confined inside by the unseasonable weather, thousands of famine refugees stream past her door. In Vermont, preacher Charles Whitlock begs his followers to keep faith as drought dries their wells and their livestock starve. In Britain, the ambitious and lovesick painter John Constable struggles to reconcile the idyllic England he paints with the misery that surrounds him. In the Fens, farm labourer Sarah Hobbs has had enough of going hungry while the farmers flaunt their wealth. And Hope Peter, returned from Napoleonic war, finds his family home demolished and a fence gone up in its place. He flees to London, where he falls in with a group of revolutionaries who speak of a better life, whatever the cost. As desperation sets in, Britain becomes racked with riots – rebellion is in the air.

The Year Without Summer is the story of the books written, the art made; of the journeys taken, of the love longed for and the lives lost during that fateful year. Six separate lives, connected only by an event many thousands of miles away. Few had heard of Tambora – but none could escape its effects.

* * * * *

Science Fiction

The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray

Courtesy of Random House Cornerstone via NetGalley. I don’t know anything about either book or author – I just took a fancy to try some contemporary sci-fi for a change…  

The Blurb says: The Last Day is set 40 years into the future after the planet’s rotation has slowed to a halt, resulting in half the earth facing the constant light of the sun while the other half lives in an endless, frozen night. The plot centres on a young scientist who is called back to London from the frozen Atlantic and begins to uncover a truth which could change the future of the human race.

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

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

49 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 227…

  1. I’m tempted to read Helen Dunmore’s “The Siege” because of the WWII setting. My own TBRpile, paper books I actually own, shows no sign of abating. In fact, just last evening, I bought two more — old paperbacks of Perry Mason and W. Somerset Maugham — that make it to the back of the queue.

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    • I’ve read a couple of Dunmore’s other books and enjoyed them, so I have high hopes for The Siege. Haha – the TBR problem never ends, thank goodness! I’ve been meaning to read some Maugham for ages – I feel like it’s a huge gap in my reading. Hope you enjoy your acquisitions!

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  2. The Siege did capture me when I read it; the sense of hunger and cold and their impact is overwhelming. I’ll be interested in your reviews of The Heart… and The Year… They both have elements which interest me and which make me wonder if they will work as authentic and integrated stories.

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    • I’ve read a couple of Dunmore’s other books and enjoyed her writing, so fingers crossed for The Siege – good to know you rate it! Yes, I feel both of those could go either way for me – The Heart could be overly sentimental, I think, and reviews of The Year suggest it’s not brought together as a novel very well – more like a series of short stories. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be raving about them soon… 😀

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  3. I’m better with 18th or 19th century Russia than the 20th century, but might give that one a go. I might try The Year Without Summer too – there was a lot of talk last year about the effect of the weather on the economic situation leading up to Peterloo.

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    • I’ve still never really got to grips with pre-Revolutionary Russian history, but I’m fine with anything from Trotsky on! Yes, that aspect of The Year interested me too – I love the basic idea of science shedding light on history. I hope it’s good, but early reviews have been a bit disappointing… we’ll see!

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  4. I very picky when it comes to science fiction but The Last Day does sound intriguing. Look forward to your thoughts.
    Where do you get these gifs from…the poor little dog 😂

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    • I rarely read moderns sci-fi – too much sci and not enough fi usually! But for some reason this one appeals…

      Hahaha! I spend way too much time looking for gifs of awful things happening to people and animals! I’m currently recycling some favourites from old posts… poor little dog… 😂

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  5. Hunter Murray is hyping his book on Twitter (he was/is one of the QI Elves, I think, and has also appeared on The Mash Report) and it looks intriguing. I’m also intrigued by the Tamboura book ever since I heard about the year without a summer a few years back — and of course, Mary Shelley.

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    • I’ve only seen one review of The Last Day so far, from someone who’s no more of a die-hard sci-fi fan than I am, and she loved it so I have high hopes! The Mary Shelley connection appealed to me too, and I’m still intrigued by the book, but early reviews suggest the execution is a bit messy. We’ll see! 🙂

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  6. I’ll be interested to know how you get on with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It’s ringing a couple of alarm bells for me I’m afraid, the main one being the saintly disabled character, and the potential for sentimentalising disability. I hope it turns out not as bad as it sounds.

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    • That’s what puts me off too – it sounds like the kind of thing I’d have sobbed buckets over when I was fourteen, but I’m… ahem… not fourteen any more! But maybe it’s just a bad blurb. However a lot of the reviews say things like “great, considering how young she was when she wrote it” and that word “considering” always worries me… 😉

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  7. I’ve just finished The Year Without Summer. I enjoyed some of the individual storylines but I was a bit underwhelmed by it overall and thought the structure made it feel disjointed. You might disagree though, as I’m one of those strange people who loved Gone With the Wind and East of Eden! 🙂

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    • Yes, it seems to be the structure that’s leaving a lot of reviewers a bit disappointed, but we’ll see! Hahaha, well, there are plenty of others like you so it should be a pretty big support group… fiddle-dee-dee! 😉

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  8. I’m very happy for you, FictionFan! You deserve a piece of cake for that hard work and effort. As for this week’s books, I keep hearing that the Dunmore is very good, and I’ve been wanting to read it, so I’ll be keen to know what you think. The Glasfurd looks good, too. When it’s done well, historical fiction can really give one a great sense of time, place, etc.. Looking forward to what you think of these!

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    • I do, don’t I? I’m thinking of promoting myself to Senior TBR Controller! I’m looking forward to the Dunmore – I’ve only read a couple of her books and enjoyed her writing. Yes, the Glasfurd sounds very intriguing – early reviews have been underwhelming but you know me, never one to go with the crowd… 😉

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  9. Whew, safe this time! None of these sounds intriguing enough for me to add to my (already-bloated!) TBR. However, I’ll be interested in your reviews to see if you can change my mind. Poor little dog in that meme — no wonder he looked around to see if anybody saw his embarrassment!

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    • It’s a strange batch this week – I’m pretty confident about The Siege, but the other three could all easily go either way. Hahaha – I love that dog! Reminds me of the miniature poodle I had as a kid who was always trying to keep up with the neighbours’ big collie! 😀

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  10. Of course I’m tempted – especially by that last one! I read one a few years back that plotted around the Earth’s rotation slowing down, but not stopping. The historical fiction sounds fascinating, too.

    I can’t stop watching that dog!

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    • I hardly read any contemporary science fiction but for some reason The Last Day appealed to me. The Year Without Summer does sound goods, but early reviews have lowered my expectations for it – that’s sometimes a good thing, though! We’ll see!

      Hahaha – I love that little dog! It reminds me of the little poodle I had as a kid who was always trying to keep up with the neighbours’ big collie! 😀

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    • Haha – I knew what you meant! When I did my Russian Revolution challenge a couple of years ago, I found reading some Russia-based fiction written by Brits provided a welcome break from history books and heavyweight Russian fiction. No matter how good a translation is, translated books always feel like harder work somehow…

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  11. The Last Day sounds fab! The Year Without Summer also sounds intriguing but I’ll wait for your review. Carson McCullers is a great writer but Her stories are set in such miserable times that you should make sure you’ve got chocolate on hand.

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    • Ha – I suspect I’ll get through a whole month’s supply of chocolate with the McCullers, but hopefully it’s just a bad blurb! Yes, I’m looking forward to a bit of sci-fi for a change – I seem to be reading too many heavyweight fiction books recently. And I do still like the sound of The Year Without Summer, despite the mixed reviews…

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      • Yes, it’s better to keep the balance in your reading. I’m trialling short stories and travel stories between heavier reading these days which seems to be working. Too many short stories in a row and they lose their impact so it really is a win-win.

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        • I’ve always used crime to break up the heavier reads which might be why I get so annoyed at crime fiction being so overpadded – I look on them as quick, light reads. So the vintage crime is working really well at filling those gaps for me.

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  12. You’re doing a magnificent job here, FF: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Year without Summer are both on my radar. Whether they will remain in my sights will depend on your reactions when you get to them 🙂 I’ll also watch for your thoughts on The Siege. I struggled with it – put me off Helen Dunmore for quite some time in fact.

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    • Haha – always glad to be the canary on the book mine! Oh, that’s a pity about The Siege. I’ve read a couple of her books before – one I loved, the other I felt was too over-padded with unnecessary detail, though still well written, so we’ll see how this one works for me…

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  13. I’ve never read Dunmore but I hear wonderful things, I’ll be interested to know how you get on. The McCullers I’ve read I really like, but THIALH I’ve not got to yet. It is in the TBR though – I have to admit, that blurb summary is pretty off-putting…

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    • I’ve read a couple of Dunmore’s books – loved one, had a few over-padding issues with the other, but her writing is great, so I’m hopeful about this one. McCullers certainly has a great reputation so I’m hoping it’s just the blurb that makes this one sound so awful…

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    • I’m looking forward to The Last Day even more after reading your review – I’m in the mood for something a bit different from my usual fare. Hopefully The Year Without Summer will be good despite the mixed reviews… we’ll see!

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  14. Kind of a dark bunch this week, ha ha!

    I read the Carson McCullers in 2009, and that was a lifetime ago, so I don’t know if I can trust my judgment on it, ha ha… I ave it four stars and said it was “sad but worth it.” Hope it works for you!

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