TBR Thursday 236…

Episode 236

Considering I’ve only managed to finish two books in the whole of April so far, it’s astonishing that my TBR has only increased by 1 – to 215! Imagine how much it would have dropped if only those pesky book-gods hadn’t stolen my reading superpower…

Here are a few more that I should be reading soon – ‘should’ being the operative word…

Historical Fiction

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian

I keep hearing great things about this series and a little trip to Mauritius will fit in well to my Around the World challenge. I’ve acquired the book and the audiobook, so am planning a full immersion – in the book, not the ocean!

The Blurb says: Captain Jack Aubrey is ashore on half-pay without a command — until his friend, and occasional intelligence agent, Stephen Maturin, arrives with secret orders for Aubrey to take a frigate to the Cape of Good Hope, under a Commodore’s pennant. But the difficulties of carrying out his orders are compounded by two of his own captains — Lord Clonfert, a pleasure-seeking dilettante, and Captain Corbett, whose severity can push his crews to the verge of mutiny.

Based on the actual campaign of 1810 in the Indian Ocean, O’Brian’s attention to detail of eighteenth-century life ashore and at sea is meticulous. This tale is as beautifully written and as gripping as any in the series; it also stands on its own as a superlative work of fiction. [FF says: Superlative? Gosh! 😲 ] 

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Fiction

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

Courtesy of Oxford World’s Classics. I’m still gobsmacked that I seem to have become a Conrad fan! I must say this one sounds as if it’s been written specially for me – bit of politics, bit of empire, exotic location. I would have used it for the Around the World challenge except that apparently it’s set in an imaginary country and, since I just used Ruritania, I feel I ought to fill my remaining slots with real countries! But I’m still tempted… if it’s good…

The Blurb says: One of the greatest political novels in any language, Nostromo re-enacts the establishment of modern capitalism in a remote South American province locked between the Andes and the Pacific. In the harbor [sic] town of Sulaco, a vivid cast of characters is caught up in a civil war to decide whether its fabulously wealthy silver mine, funded by American money but owned by a third-generation English immigrant, can be preserved from the hands of venal politicians. Greed and corruption seep into the lives of everyone, and Nostromo, the principled foreman of the mine, is tested to the limit.

Conrad’s evocation of Latin America–its grand landscapes, the ferocity of its politics, and the tenacity of individuals swept up in imperial ambitions–has never been bettered. This edition features a new introduction with fresh historical and interpretative perspectives, as well as detailed explanatory notes which pay special attention to the literary, political, historical, and geographical allusions and implications of the novel. A map, a chronology of the narrative, a glossary of foreign terms [FF says: like harbor… 🙄 ], and an appendix reprinting the serial ending all complement what is sure to be the definitive edition of this classic work

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Factual

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

I never confess to my audiobook TBR but there are books that have been lingering there for as long as any on my main TBR. I acquired this one in 2012! I’ve started listening to it already and it’s going well so far, but it’s too early to be sure… 

The Blurb says: We think of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603) as a golden age. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? [FF says: So what’s changed? 😱 ]

In this book Ian Mortimer reveals a country in which life expectancy is in the early thirties, people still starve to death and Catholics are persecuted for their faith. Yet it produces some of the finest writing in the English language, some of the most magnificent architecture, and sees Elizabeth’s subjects settle in America and circumnavigate the globe. Welcome to a country that is, in all its contradictions, the very crucible of the modern world.

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Vintage Crime

Crossed Skis by Carol Carnac

Courtesy of the British Library. Carol Carnac is another pseudonym of the already pseudonymous ECR Lorac, who is one of my favourites of the authors the BL has done so much excellent work in resurrecting from obscurity…

The Blurb says: In London’s Bloomsbury, Inspector Julian Rivers of Scotland Yard looks down at a dismal scene. Here is the victim, burnt to a crisp. Here are the clues – clues which point to a good climber and expert skier, and which lead Rivers to the piercing sunshine and sparkling snow of the Austrian Alps. [FF says: Eh? Where’s the rest of the blurb? 🤔 ]

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

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

64 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 236…

  1. I’ve stopped thinking about my own TBR at the moment, as it is too frightening. The Timetraveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England sounds interesting though. Who was the narrator?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Grady, whom I’ve never come across before but he’s good so far, although I’ve only listened to half an hour or so. I got the book back when it was quite new and lots of people were heaping praise on it, so I have my fingers crossed!

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    • No, but I usually listen to audiobooks when I’m doing things around the house or at bedtime, so rather than have one for reading and a different one for listening I thought it might be fun to have the same book for both. In theory the Kindle and Audible versions should synchronise and keep the right place – we’ll see if that works!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That makes sense! I would be tempted to skip ahead if reading/listening at the same time.
        Don’t forget to say in your review if Kindle and Audible synchronise properly or not, as a Luddite you’ve got me wondering how it all works!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I read at roughly three times the speed of the spoken narration, I think, so it’s too frustrating to try to do both at the same time. I will! I tried it once before years ago when they’d just introduced that feature and it didn’t work at all, but I’m hoping they’ll have ironed out the glitches by now.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I quite like the sound of the Time Traveller’s Guide, but I don’t know that the Elizabethan age was as sexist as some – the Puritans were the worst for sexism, and their era was more the 17th century. Bess of Hardwick seemed to manage to make a huge fortune with no trouble!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried years ago and hated him, and have avoided him for decades. And then I felt as if I should at least struggle through Heart of Darkness and discovered that now I seem to love him! Very odd! I really do feel that I need a book with notes and intro though, so they can tell me what it’s about when I get baffled… 😉

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    • Haha – I love blurbs! They either tell you nothing or give away the whole plot, or else they praise the book so highly it could never possibly live up to it! 😉 I’ve only recently discovered I enjoy Conrad and am now slowly working my way through his books.

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  3. I knew it had to some evil spell or something, FictionFan. It couldn’t be you responsible for that TBR number! At any rate, these additions look really interesting. I’m drawn to the Carnac, of course – what a great setup for a crime story. And I love the title of the Mortimer (the topic really interests me, too. Looks like you’ve got some good reading ahead of you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • At least the postman seems to have stopped delivering – though only temporarily, I hope! 😉 I’m looking forward to reading the Carnac and seeing if I can spot why she decided to use a different pseudonym for it – maybe it’ll be a different style from her Lorac books. And at this moment time travelling to any time other than now seems quite appealing…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have a feeling there may be a stockpile building in the post office, and I’ll be hit by an avalanche when the post returns to normal! 😉 Yes, it’s beginning to drive me mad that I can’t seem to concentrate on anything – I clearly need more medicinal chocolate!

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  4. All of those sound good. I read some of the books in the Aubrey–Maturin series. I didn’t think I’d like them, but I did, so I’ll be interested in your review. (Someone recommended them to me.)

    Going up only one book is deserving of several pieces of fine chocolate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they sound like fun and a sea-trip sounds good right now – so long as it’s not on a cruise ship, of course! 😉 Ha – I have a feeling that a stockpile of books might be building up in the post office waiting for the post to return to normal… 😱

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    • It’s beginning to drive me crazy that I can’t seem to concentrate on reading right now – I’m having withdrawal symptoms! Maybe one of these will be the book that finally gets me back in the groove… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It brightened my day to see your TBR post- and to see that your number is up! How interesting that your audios don’t count in your TBR… I’m just teasing. Mine definitely don’t either! All of these sound tempting to me! I hope you are safe and well, FF. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m going Conrad. Like Cafe Society, I’ve tried and failed at Conrad, several times. While my younger brother sails through the stuff and loves it. This makes me feel unworthy–always has–and neeruahcop liked this one. So I’ll give it a go if I can find one in my bro’s collection across town. Likely as not, it will be a first edition, to taunt me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha – my brother has been telling me Conrad is excellent for years and now he’s super smug because I’ve finally discovered he’s right! Never, ever let your brother know when he’s right… 😉 I tried Conrad years ago and hated him, and have avoided him for decades as a result. I think it’s probably because I’ve become interested in empire literature that’s suddenly made me start enjoying him. But he’s hard work, and I’m always glad when the book has notes!

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  7. I’m definitely tempted by the Mortimer book since I read his guide to Medieval England last year and loved it! Hope you’ll have Serena completed by Monday. I’ve now read and reviewed it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read his Medieval one but he says in the intro to this that he’s used the same sort of style so you’d probably enjoy it too. It’ll take me months to get through it – I’m so slow with audiobooks! Hmm… to be honest I’m finding Serena a struggle but I’m going to try to blitz it over the next couple of days – have to really, don’t I?? I shall be over to read your thoughts soon… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hmm weird lack of a blurb on the Crossed Skies story, but it appeals to me nonetheless! And your newfound love of Conrad seems like a much-needed treat these days, isn’t it wonderful to discover a ‘classic’ author you enjoy? You don’t have to wait for their books to be released! hah

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, the blurb on the cover is much better but I’m too lazy – I just cut and paste blurbs from Goodreads! Yes, it’s lovely to have a new classic author to explore, especially one whose books are available in editions with notes so that I can understand what the bleep he’s talking about! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Whew, safe for another week!! I’m still struggling to concentrate … on anything. I seem to do better when I have some deadlines, whether self-imposed or not. Maybe I need to set up some parameters for this lockdown? On second thought, I’ll just wait until Sunday and stuff my face with chocolates!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, they seem to be suggesting we should all self-impose some kind of routine but I’m afraid my concentration seems to have gone into hibernation for the duration. I usually use these posts as a sort of target to keep me on track but it’s really not working at the moment! Maybe one of these will be the book that finally gets me back in the groove. And yes, chocolates are always good – medicinal ones, of course… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. For some strange reason, I’m looking forward to the day that your TBR pile reaches 300. Not that I have an evil streak, or anything…..my husband has read every Patrick O’Brien book. He’s a sailor and loved the accuracy of O’Brien’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 300??? Aarghh!!! You are so cruel!! Oh, that’s good to know – I’ve seen lots of people praise them and the blurbs do appeal, so since I can’t seem to concentrate on any of the books I already have it seemed like a good idea to acquire more… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have had both The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England and The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England on the TBR for years and still haven’t got round to reading either. Thanks for reminding me about them! I’ve read the first six books in the Patrick O’Brian series, but The Mauritius Command wasn’t a favourite (some of the others have more land-based action, which is more to my taste).

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was a lot of buzz about them back around when I acquired the Elizabethan one, and it still appeals to me as much as it did then so fingers crossed! I don’t know why I’ve never tried the O’Brian books before – they seem very much like my kind of thing. A pity about The Mauritius Command, but I quite enjoy sea stories so maybe it will work better for me. If not, I’ll remember not to write off the whole series on the basis of this one…

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  12. I’ve read the first two of the Patrick O’Brian series and really liked them but I want to read them in order. I fancy the Lorac and the Elizabethan England one and I haven’t read the Conrad but intend to read his The Rescue next week for the 1920 Club.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The blurb of this one promised me that it works as a standalone so I’m hoping it’s right! I went for this one because I was really struggling to find a book for the Around the World challenge in a place I haven’t already “visited”, and Mauritius seemed to fit the bill. Both the Lorac and the Elizabethan time traveller look good, so fingers crossed! I haven’t read The Rescue, so I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it – hope you enjoy it! 😀

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    • Ha – I’m sure it’s reading Conrad in these editions with all the explanatory info that has made me change my mind about him. Otherwise I really would find myself lost quite often, I think! Thank goodness for notes! 😉

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  13. I hope you get your reading mojo back soon! But perhaps mood reading works better at the moment than schedules and TBRs? My reading is ok, but the writing of reviews has been on the slow side. Hopefully, I can write a bit over Easter, there isn’t much else to do really…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m slowly getting through the books but at about a third of my usual rate, and as for reviewing! I’m about eight books behind on that and my memory isn’t good enough to cope with that. I’ll be confusing the plots in my reviews if I’m not careful! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – those TBRs grow like weeds as soon as we stop paying attention, don’t they? Oh dear, I’d usually have read about 5 books by this point in the month – I’m soooo behind with all the review copies! I’ll need to hire an assistant soon… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Your “harbor [sic]” made me giggle before I even got to your footnote! Traditionally we went with the Brits on spelling here, but are fully exposed to American preferences too and I think young people largely don’t discriminate or go for the American versions. I’m with you though!
    I think I’m interested to read your reviews on each of these books to see if I’d take them further. Serena did come through and I’m nearly finished reading it after a sustained session last night. I haven’t found it as compelling as his earlier books (especially in these trying times) but did get more engrossed when I sat down to properly read. I kept wanting to pick Our Mutual Friend instead which I’m also reading and which is much more fitting in these times. I hope all is well with you, I wish I could send some seasonal chocolate through the cloud…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I try to ignore American spelling in American books, though it’s hard, but I strongly object to it in the blurb of a British book! I feel it’s my duty to highlight it for the benefit of humanity… 😉

      At the rate I’m reading and writing reviews it could be some time before any of these surface! I finally finished Serena last night and will try to write my review later today for tomorrow, but if I fail it will definitely appear on Wednesday. I must say I found it very disappointing overall – pity. Our Mutual Friend sounds like a great idea! Dickens is always so immersive too, which is what we really need right now. Yes, I’m fine physically, though struggling emotionally as I think we all are. Thank you – haha, I did include a little Easter egg on my “essential” shopping list this week – well, essential means different things to different people… 😉 Hope you’re managing to have as enjoyable an Easter as possible under the circumstances…

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