TBR Thursday 233…

Episode 233

A massive drop of 5 in the TBR since I last posted two weeks ago – down to 208! I’ve been far too busy stockpiling chocolate and cat treats to acquire books! However, now that I have been sentenced to solitary confinement either I’ll be racing through the books on my TBR or I’ll be spending way too much time browsing the bookshelves on Amazon…

Here are a few that will reach the top of the heap soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

An excellent choice, people! Mind you, this whole thing is reminding me of how many seriously tempting books are lingering unread on my TBR so any of the four would have been excellent. The other three contenders all scored pretty evenly in the end, but this one took a clear lead from the beginning and never faltered as it sped towards the finish line.  I plan to read and review it by the end of June. 

The Blurb says: Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip’s family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei – to whom he owes absolute loyalty – has been harbouring a devastating secret. Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is.

With masterful and gorgeous narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas – of rain swept beaches, magical mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid and forbidding rainforests – Tan Twan Eng weaves a haunting and unforgettable story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.

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Historical Fiction

Serena by Ron Rash

Although Serena didn’t win the previous People’s Choice poll, MarinaSofia mentioned that she had a copy in her TBR too, so we decided to read it and co-ordinate our reviews for the week beginning 13th April. Regular commenter Christine (who doesn’t blog… yet) is going to read it too and share her view in the comments. Anyone else who has a copy fishing about, or feels like acquiring one, is more than welcome to join us!

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.

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Vintage Crime

Settling Scores edited by Martin Edwards

Courtesy of the British Library. A new anthology from the BL is always a treat and I vastly prefer reading about sport than participating in it! And look! I’m sure that’s Centre Court at Wimbledon on the cover! Plus, I’m always a sucker for the word ‘skulduggery’…

The Blurb says: ‘The detective story is a game between two players, the author… and the reader.’ – Ronald Knox

From the squash court to the golf links, the football pitch to the swimming pool and the race course to the cricket square, no court, grounds, stadium or stand is safe from skulduggery. Entering the arena where sport clashes with crime, this spirited medley of short stories showcases the greatest deadly plays and criminal gambits of the mystery genre.

With contenders by some of the finest writers in the field, including Celia Fremlin, Michael Gilbert, Gladys Mitchell and Leo Bruce, this new anthology offers a ringside view of the darker side of sports and proves that crime, naturally, is a game for all seasons.

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Thriller

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Courtesy of HarperCollins. Another of the little batch of contemporary thrillers and crime novels that HP kindly sent me, with perfect timing as it turns out since I’m not in the mood for heavyweight fiction at the moment. This isn’t one I’d have picked for myself necessarily, but it’s getting great reviews and there’s nothing like a murder or two to make the day seem a little brighter… 😉

The Blurb says: On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favours, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

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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?

65 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 233…

    • I’m going to start Settling Scores tonight – it will help make up for all the tennis tournaments being cancelled! Ha – HarperCollins have suddenly started sending me all kinds of random things that I wouldn’t have picked for myself, but they all look like a lot of undemanding fun which is exactly what I’m in the mood for! Serena should be good – I loved another book of his years ago and have been meaning to read more ever since, and his fans seem agreed that Serena is his best… 😀

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  1. I read Gift of Rain several years ago and remember its lyricism and snatches of the fraught story. Of course, I’m looking forward to reading Serena having enjoyed other books from Ron Rash!
    Sports are not my thing, so I’ll be interested to see how you find Settling Scores and whether I feel tempted. I think I also need to see your review of The Guest List before I commit to adding this book.
    If the Simpsons ruled the world, for book-lovers, there might be certain advantages in carrying a little (or a lot of) weight 😏

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    • I loved his writing in The Garden of Evening Mists and I can forgive almost everything else if the writing is beautiful, so I have high hopes! I’m looking forward to Serena too – we’ve got another reader joining in, Kelsey, so it should be fun comparing our thoughts. 😀
      I quite enjoy reading about sports so long as they don’t get too bogged down in the technicalities of the rules. So much scope for murderous rage with all that competitiveness flying around! My brief and terrifying experience of playing hockey at school taught me all about how murderous some sportspeople can become… 😉
      Hahaha – I wonder if my TBR weighs more or less than my body weight… I can see I’ll be doing calculations later…

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        • A mathematician friend of mine claims that Kindle books make your Kindle heavier… sounds like nonsense to me, but then so does most maths! Not to mention quantum physics, which I’m sure is just a joke scientists play on the rest of us… 😉

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          • Frustrations! Our libraries have just closed – I thought I’d have more time to go in and pile up with books which I’d then have for weeks/months. I’ll just have to wait and see if my hold on an ebook of Serena will come through soon. Small problems in big times 🙂

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            • Curses! It’ll be a strange old world indeed with no libraries and no bookshops. Though I must admit when a couple of books popped through the letterbox yesterday I was wondering if they would be drenched in rogue virus! I don’t see me washing my hands every time I turn a page… 😉 Thank goodness for ebooks, though – I do hope Serena comes through in time. Are they keeping the ebook section running?

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            • Yes, I’m hoping and assuming so. I expect its mostly automated. Maybe some of those neglected books on my shelves and Kindle will now get some attention.
              It is unfamiliar to be making new kinds of judgments about what’s safe and appropriate socially, and with regard to going out or staying in and the level of shopping that’s required and ‘moral’.

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            • I know. The odd thing is that I’m pretty much a hermit most of the time through choice, so it won’t actually make much difference to me physically, but somehow being told to stay home makes me feel besieged. I suddenly have a desire to go out and do things I normally don’t want to do! I guess we’ll all get used to the new normal in time, but I hope they hurry up with the vaccine…

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            • I know what you mean. I very happily self occupy for extended periods, but now that this is enforced (NZ is about to go into lockdown), that doesn’t necessarily feel like a freedom but an imposition – strange creatures we are 🙂

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            • It’s amazing to watch all our politicians be supportive of each other, though. Even the Scottish Nationalists are making an attempt to get along with the UK government. Everyone was being so polite to each other in Parliament yesterday I was almost convinced I must have a fever and be hallucinating… 😉

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  2. I did enjoy Lucy Foley’s first novel, The Book of Lost and Found and have been meaning to read more of her books. But The Guest List sounds like quite a few other books where people gather to celebrate, so I’ll wait to see what you think of it before adding it to my TBR.

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    • I haven’t read her before but I was very tempted by reviews of her last one, The Hunting Party, so was pleased to be sent this one to try. It does sound like And Then There Were None, which seems to be a current trend…

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  3. I look forward to your review of The Gift of Rain, as it sounds like a powerful story. The Guest List looks fun too, and not emotionally taxing, which is possibly what we all need right now.

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    • I’m looking forward to The Gift of Rain although it might have to wait until my concentration levels get back to normal. The Guest List sounds much more like the kind of undemanding fun I feel in need of at the moment!

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  4. I’m very much looking forward to what you think of The Gift of Rain, FictionFan. It does sound good, and I’ve been hearing good things about it. As for the others, Settling Scores interests me. Playing sports is not my thing, but the sports world is a great context for a mystery. And with Edwards as editor, you know you’re likely to have a good reading experience.

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    • I’m looking forward to The Gift of Rain though it may have to wait till my concentration levels return to normal. Settling Scores is much more the kind of thing that is appealing at the moment – these anthologies are always good, and the sports theme will help make up for all the cancelled tennis tournaments! And all that competitive spirit is bound to lead to murderous thoughts… 😉

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  5. Congrats on the drop in your TBR list. Hope you followed Lisa Simpson’s example and bought your weight in chocolate.
    The Gift of Rain sounds like a beautiful book! Settling Scores sounds fun!

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    • Hahaha! That would be a chocolate mountain indeed! 😉 I’m looking forward to The Gift of Rain but it might have to wait a bit till I’m back in the mood for serious reading. Settling Scores sounds much more like the kind of thing I need right now, and will help to make up for all the cancelled tennis tournaments! Though admittedly the real players don’t usually murder each other… as far as we know… 😉

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    • I have high hopes for The Gift of Rain, having loved his other book, The Garden of Evening Mists. He’s not a writer I’ve seen being reviewed much either – I get the feeling he’s not very prolific.

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    • I have high hopes for The Gift of Rain, having loved his other book, The Garden of Evening Mists. Hahaha – yes, I hear Amazon is taking on extra workers and I suspect it’s all the bookworms stocking up! Every cloud… 😉 Stay safe! 😀

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    • That’s good to hear! I loved his other book, The Garden of Evening Mists, so I’m looking forward to this one very much, although it does sound much darker in tone. Good to hear from you – I hope you’re keeping well. 🙂

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  6. The last two sound most intriguing: Settling Scores for its sports (I’m already missing athletics!) and The Guest List for its premise and the Irish location. Lots of good stuff there, FF. Glad to hear you’re handling the isolation-thing so productively!

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    • I like the sound of both of them too, and they’re just the kind of light entertainment I’m in the mood for at the moment. I’m hoping Settling Scores will help make up for all the cancelled tennis tournaments! Ha – now I’m organised for my solitary confinement I should have plenty of time to make a dent in the TBR… so long as I stay away from Amazon! 😉

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  7. “Nothing like a murder, or two, to make the day seem a little brighter.” Ha! Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I predict that even with the quarantine, your pile will never fall below 200. You can’t resist the Amazon eye candy.

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    • Hahaha, it always worries me a bit just how much we all enjoy reading about murder – human beings are strange animals! 😉 I am determined not to spend my enforced isolation browsing Amazon! Well, not all the time anyway… 😂

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  8. Looks like some fun choices awaiting you! I almost wish I had a copy of that one book so I could join in your group read. I’m racking (or is that wracking??) my brain as to how my book club group can continue on without meeting in person. I refuse to postpone things, given we have no idea how long that will be… so I’m thinking we should just all exchange our thoughts in a “reply all” email exchange. Maybe that would encourage those who don’t always chime in in person to share their thoughts!

    I’m glad you’ve stocked up on cat treats. We have to have our priorities! 😉

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    • You could get it from the library! It would be like our own blog book club! 😀 There used to be a group of bloggers who lived all over the world and had a monthly virtual book club on… hmm, I think it was called Google Hangouts. They did have difficulty with it sometimes – people seemed to lose connections halfway through and things, but overall it seemed to work pretty well. But another friend is in a virtual book club which does what you suggest – communicate by email – and they enjoy it. I think they schedule an hour or so, so that they’ll all be emailing and replying to each other at the same time.

      Haha – my life would be too miserable if Tommy didn’t get his Dreamies regularly. I know my duties… 😉

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      • Yes! It’s available through my Libby library app, so I may join in. Even if I don’t post a full review on my blog, I could put my thoughts in a comment here.

        Glad to hear you know of a group that uses email for their bookclub! A couple of my members have responded to my suggestion favorably, one stating she’d like it to be during our regular meeting time, if possible. It sounds doable, so we’ll see….

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        • Oh good! Yes, either a review or a comment with your view would be great. I wish I could think of a good way to set up a kind of book club blog but it’s beyond my techie skills, I fear. I’ll be interested to hear how your email book club works out!

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  9. The Lucy Foley book looks good to me! And settling in with books and chocolate sounds like a plan. I noticed that though there was no pasta or beans or much produce at the store today, there was chocolate…and coffee. I’m content. Ha! You take care, OK?

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    • Haha – yes, I was surprised that there seemed to be all the unhealthy stuff left and none of the healthy stuff – what has happened to Glasgow?? A few decades ago the veg shelves would have been full and the cake shelves empty… 😉 Thank you, and you too! Stay safe and well! 😀

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    • They do sound good, don’t they? The Guest List wouldn’t usually appeal to me, but it might just turn out to be exactly the kind of undemanding entertainment I feel in need of at the moment – we’ll see! Haha – skulduggery and shenanigans should be compulsory elements in all books… 😉

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    • Hahaha, sorry! But just to cheer you up I shall confess that I acquired three books last night on the dreaded internet, and today two arrived from publishers. There’s no hope for me, I fear… 😀

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  10. I’m definitely tempted by The Guest List and have added it to my TBR, it’s just a case of when I get round to it! Hope you’re doing well with the solitary confinement and you read some great books! 🙂

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    • I should be starting The Guest List tonight so I hope we both enjoy it. So far so good, with the isolation! Now that I’ve got enough cat food stockpiled my stress levels have gone down. 😉 Stay well!

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  11. Ohhhh I love the look of that new BL collection! As you know i hate watching sports, but I’ll play the odd soccer game once in a while to get some exercise in. I mostly ignore the ball and run up and down the field though so I rarely get asked back. I once tried to take my book to a professional hockey game here and people threw popcorn at me so I never got asked back. Oh well! I can’t wait to see your review of that one 🙂

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    • Hahaha! I used to go to soccer matches just to be in with the in-crowd back in the day, but honestly I watched the crowd far more than the match! I never though of taking a book along, though – a missed opportunity! 😉

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