TBR Thursday 228 – The People’s Choice…

Episode 228

As you know, I live in a constant state of war with my TBR and frankly it seems to be winning. So I’ve developed a new battle tactic and am recruiting you all as my crack regiment to help me defeat the enemy! 

The problem is that most of the new books I acquire are review copies or books for challenges and so they get priority. This means that books which don’t “need” to be read linger eternally in the deep recesses of my spreadsheet, getting a chance to escape only on the rare occasion I have a gap in my schedule. And of course it’s the longer books that tend to be left longest. 

So here’s the plan. Once a month or so, I shall list the four oldest books on the TBR, then the next four, and so on, and each time you will select the one you think I should read, either because you’ve read and enjoyed it, or because you think the blurb looks good. And I will read the one you pick within three months! (If I begin to fall behind, I’ll have a gap till I catch up again.) In the event of a tie, I’ll have the casting vote.

Are you ready? Then don your armour, leap on your warhorse, and get ready to fight the good fight!

Historical Fiction

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

The oldest book on the TBR, added on 29th July 2012! 10,060 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.31 average rating. 564 pages.

The Blurb says: From the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Line of Beauty: a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth, and a family mystery, across generations.

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate – a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance – to his family’s modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne’s autograph album will change their and their families’ lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried – until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.

Rich with Hollinghurst’s signature gifts – haunting sensuality, delicious wit and exquisite lyricism – The Stranger’s Child is a tour de force: a masterly novel about the lingering power of desire, how the heart creates its own history, and how legends are made.

* * * * *

Historical Fiction

Serena by Ron Rash

Added 13th September 2012. 32,849 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.53 average. 371 pages.

The Blurb says: The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Rash’s masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.

* * * * *

Contemporary Fiction

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

Added 27th September 2012. 291,491 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.30 average. 494 pages.

The Blurb says: When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

* * * * *


Bloodstream by Tess Gerritson

Added 27th December 2012. 12,342 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.96 average. 516 pages. 

The Blurb says: A spine-tingling thriller from the bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series.
The small resort of Tranquillity, Maine, seems like the perfect spot for Dr Claire Elliot to shelter her son, Noah, from the temptations of the city and the traumatic memory of his father’s death. Claire’s hopeful that she can earn the trust of the town as she builds a new practice. But her plans unravel when an outbreak of teenage violence, far more deadly than anything she has encountered in the city, erupts in the local school.

In trying to find a medical explanation for this murderous epidemic, Claire stumbles upon an insidious evil which has blighted the town’s past and threatens its future. Terrified that Noah too is at risk, she must prove her theory before everything she loves is destroyed.

* * * * *



* * * * *

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

79 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 228 – The People’s Choice…

  1. Thanks for letting us take part in your noble effort to tame the TBR, FictionFan. It sounds like a really interesting way to target those books that always seem to have ‘wait ’til next month.’ I have a few of them, myself… Anyway, I voted for Serena. A good historical fiction always gets my attention, and it does sound like an interesting premise…


    • You’re welcome – thank you for voting! If this scheme doesn’t work, Plan B is to make you all read the books for me… 😉 I’d be delighted if Serena won – I loved the only book of Rash’s that I’ve read – The Cove – and actually have a couple of his books on the TBR. And fans suggest Serena is his best,,,

      Liked by 2 people

    • The Stranger’s Child sounds great and the only reason it has lingered on the TBR so long is the length, so if that’s the people choice it will give me the incentive I need to finally read it! 😀


    • I added Serena after loving The Cove – the only book of his I’ve read. I have a couple of his books on the TBR and am annoyed at myself for letting them linger – I’ll be delighted if it wins!


  2. I wonder whether your reading taste has changed somewhat over the last 8 years or so, as I wouldn’t automatically have linked you with any of these titles from the blurbs. Having said that, The Stranger’s Child is the kind of thing I would probably enjoy, so I would be interested to find out what you thought of it before potentially buying it myself.


    • Interesting! Yes, my reading does tend to go in waves and in the last few years has been driven by the Classics Club and all the vintage stuff that the BL sends me, so I probably am reading differently. Also back in 2012 I had just started reviewing and chatting with other reviewers so suddenly I was hearing about loads of authors I hadn’t come across before – some of these are books that were being talked about a lot at the time I acquired them. I’m more cautious now about randomly grabbing hyped books. The Stranger’s Child does sound good, so I’ll be quite happy if it wins! 😀


  3. Though I went with The Stranger’s Child, Serena also would have received my vote. 😀

    I agree with Alyson. I wonder if there are some books way back on the list that you would cull now.


    • I’d be delighted if either The Stranger’s Child or Serena wins – they both sound great!

      I actually had a huge cull a couple of years ago, so pretty much everything left on my TBR are books I really would still like to read. Which means whatever wins, I can’t lose! 😀


  4. Oh what fun! And you’re very brave! I’ve gone for The Stranger’s Child too, purely on the blurb. And I see that it’s currently in the lead. Woo hoo! 😂
    (Will we get to hear which book has won before you finally get to reading it? 🤔)


    • Yes, The Stranger’s Child is racing into an early lead! The good thing is, since I want to read them all, I can’t lose! 😀 Yes, I haven’t decided whether to announce it in a normal TBR post or in the next People’s Choice post, but I’ll definitely be announcing it – so I feel obliged to actually read it… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Audience participation – how fun!! 😀 I’m only familiar with one (Casual Vacancy, and those I know who read it – or started it – didn’t care for it), so I struggled to chose from the others’ blurbs. Turns out I’m (currently) in the majority with The Stranger’s Child.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I remember Casual Vacancy had very mixed reviews at the time but I never knew whether that was because it wasn’t very good or if people were just surprised that it was so different from Harry Potter! The Stranger’s Child is in a commanding lead now…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great idea, enlisting our help with your TBR! I wish I’d thought of that. I’m not sure which I voted for — either the one by Rowling (because I find her writing fascinating and I read ALL the Harry Potter tales!) or the last one (because I know she tells a good story, too). At any rate, whichever you go with, you’ll be whipping that TBR into shape, and that’s a win!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the great thing – since I want to read them all I can’t lose, whichever one wins! I loved Harry Potter but haven’t read any of her later stuff yet, though I have a couple on the TBR. Unfortunately, she’s got involved in politics up here and to be honest that’s put me off her a bit… as I always say, I prefer not to know much about authors since if I don’t like them as people it affects how I feel about their books…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a good idea! The only one I’ve read is The Stranger’s Child, and I chose that because I enjoyed it (although with a bit of reservation) but mostly because I think you’ll read it really quickly

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I watched the TV version of A Casual Vacancy and that was enough for me. I’ve only tried one of Gerritsen’s books and the beginning turned my stomach so I didn’t get very far before I gave up. The Stranger’s Child is sooo long, but it’s your oldest so maybe I’d say read that one or give it away. But I’m voting for Serena – historical fiction, hunting rattlesnakes, passion – Serena sounds like one determined ‘lady’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember A Casual Vacancy getting very mixed reviews at the time which I’m sure is why it got put on the backburner on my TBR. I’ve never tried Gerritsen and don’t like books that set out to disgust, so thanks for the warning on that one – if it doesn’t win, I may cull it! Serena sounds great and I loved the only book of his before – The Cove. But The Stranger’s Child (all 564 pages of it!) is in a commanding lead… 😱

      Liked by 1 person

    • Most people seem to like The Stranger’s Child blurb best – it does sound good! I remember Casual Vacancy getting very mixed reviews when it came out which is probably why it ended up on the backburner in my TBR. But I’d still like to read it one day, out of curiosity as much as anything else…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember The Casual Vacancy being kind of boring because of its heavy focus on small town English parish councils. That’s just not something I have much knowledge or interest in! But also I seem to recall that all the characters were terrible people, which didn’t help either!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I voted for The Stranger’s Child, which turned out to be the popular choice. The early part of the blurb reminded me a little of Brideshead Revisited but it looks as if the story goes in a very different direction. Anyway, 564 pages later, you can tell us more! (I hope).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is fun! I vote for The Stranger’s Child. I have considered reading it myself and it’s always good to have another blogger do a pre-screening (sry, that was a very selfish reason…). I read the first book in the Rizzoli & Isles series, and it didn’t make any memorable impression. Probably, I would skip the JK Rowling book entirely, whereas Serena sounds quite interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – I don’t mind being your lab rat! 😉 It’s in a runaway lead now so it looks like it’ll win unless the Russians sabotage the election… Serena sounds great and I loved the only book of his I’ve read so far – The Cove – so I’m kicking myself for letting that one linger. The other two I’d still like to read one day, but I agree they don’t sound as interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, unless a miracle happens it will be The Stranger’s Child, but MarinaSofia and I have decided to read Serena anyway and co-ordinate our reviews. You’d be more than welcome to join us – you could leave your opinion in the comments section as Alyson did with The Go-Between review-along. The scheduled review date will be some time in the week commencing 13th April…


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