TBR Thursday 238…

Episode 238

A tiny little drop in the TBR this week – down 1 to 214! My reading slump continues, but even worse is my review writing slump – I fear I may have to furlough myself for a bit if things don’t pick up soon.

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

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

An excellent choice, people! It was an exciting race this time. The Cry shot into an early lead and for a while it looked unassailable. But then Elly Griffiths sneaked through on the inside lane and once she got her nose ahead there was no stopping her! She raced to a decisive victory! I’ve read and enjoyed several of the Ruth Galloway series and enjoyed them, up until the last couple when I thought the series had run out of steam. But I always intended to go back and read the couple of early ones I’d missed, so am looking forward to The Janus Stone – the second in the series. I’m planning to read it by the end of July.

The Blurb says: Forensics expert Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate when builders, demolishing a large old house in Norwich to make way for a new development, uncover the skeleton of a child – minus the skull – beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? DCI Harry Nelson must find out.

The house was once a children’s home. Nelson meets the Catholic priest who used to run the home. He tells him that two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the children’s home, Ruth is drawn more deeply into the case. But as spring turns to summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the scent by frightening her half to death…

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History

The Spanish Civil War by Stanley G Payne

I didn’t get off to a very good start with the factual side of my new Spanish Civil War Challenge, quickly abandoning the history book I’d chosen – The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor – for being the worst written history book I’ve ever attempted to read. I’ve spent an age trying to find one that looks good and relatively unbiased, and which reviews suggest might be suitable for a beginner. I’m not convinced about any of them, to be honest, but I’ll start with this shortish one and have a couple of more detailed ones lined up… wish me better luck this time!

The Blurb says: This book presents an original new history of the most important conflict in European affairs during the 1930s, prior to the events that produced World War II – the Spanish Civil War. It describes the complex origins of the conflict, the collapse of the Spanish Republic, and the outbreak of the only mass worker revolution in the history of Western Europe. Stanley Payne explains the character of the Spanish revolution and the complex web of republican politics, while also examining in detail the development of Franco’s counterrevolutionary dictatorship. Payne gives attention to the multiple meanings and interpretations of war and examines why the conflict provoked such strong reactions in its own time, and long after. The book also explains the military history of the war and its place in the history of military development, the non-intervention policy of the democracies, and the role of German, Italian, and Soviet intervention, concluding with an analysis of the place of the war in European affairs and in comparative perspective of revolutionary civil wars of the twentieth century.

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Crime

The Cutting Place by Jane Casey

Courtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley. A new entry in Jane Casey’s excellent Maeve Kerrigan series is always a much anticipated treat, and the reviews of this one suggest it’s particularly good…

The Blurb says: Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.

DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared.

It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?

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Fiction

The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

Courtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley. I always think Lionel Shriver’s books look great, which begs the question why I’ve still never read one, especially since at least two of them have been skulking in my TBR for years. However this one is a review copy and therefore gets the priority treatment – time to break my Shriver duck!

The Blurb says: In Lionel Shriver’s entertaining send-up of today’s cult of exercise—which not only encourages better health, but now like all religions also seems to promise meaning, social superiority, and eternal life—an aging husband’s sudden obsession with extreme sport makes him unbearable.

After an ignominious early retirement, Remington announces to his wife Serenata that he’s decided to run a marathon. This from a sedentary man in his sixties who’s never done a lick of exercise in his life. His wife can’t help but observe that his ambition is “hopelessly trite.” A loner, Serenata disdains mass group activities of any sort. Besides, his timing is cruel. Serenata has long been the couple’s exercise freak, but by age sixty, her private fitness regimes have destroyed her knees, and she’ll soon face debilitating surgery. Yes, becoming more active would be good for Remington’s heart, but then why not just go for a walk? Without several thousand of your closest friends?

As Remington joins the cult of fitness that increasingly consumes the Western world, her once-modest husband burgeons into an unbearable narcissist. Ignoring all his other obligations, he engages a saucy, sexy personal trainer named Bambi, who treats Serenata with contempt. When Remington sets his sights on the legendarily grueling triathlon, MettleMan, Serenata is sure he’ll end up injured or dead. And even if he does survive, their marriage may not.

The Motion of the Body Through Space is vintage Lionel Shriver written with psychological insight, a rich cast of characters, lots of verve and petulance, an astute reading of contemporary culture, and an emotionally resonant ending.

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

62 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 238…

  1. I’ve seen a few glowing reviews of The Cutting Place, and this series in general, so I might try them the next time I’m in the mood for some crime fiction. Hopefully you have a better time with this particular Spanish Civil War book, as I remember you saying before that you had to abanden the last one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Jane Casey series is one I actually got into right at the beginning for once, and I’ve loved following it. Maeve is a refreshingly normal character in the early books, though she’s gradually become a bit more angst-ridden as time has gone on. There’s quite a lot of humour in them, so although the plots can be dark they never feel too bleak for me. I do hope this Spanish Civil War book works better – it’s a complicated history and that first book just made it impossible to know who was who!

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    • It’s on my list too, but I really want to read a straight history first to try to get a better understanding of all the factions and the underlying reasons. On the other hand, I might throw it all up and just read the fiction books I’ve acquired instead! 😉

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  2. I really hope you’ll like The Janus Stone, FictionFan. I think it’s a strong entry into the series. Oooh, shiny! A Maeve Kerrigan on your list! *Tries not to add it to already-too-long wish list.* That’ll be a treat for you. And I do enjoy history, so the Payne looks quite good, too. Yes, I’d say you have some good ‘uns waiting for you. I hope you get your review mojo back soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always think Elly Griffiths’ series start out really strong and then gradually run out of steam, so since this is just number 2 in the Ruth Galloway series I have high hopes! Haha – you might as well add the Maeve Kerrigan now – you know you will in the end… 😉 I’m hoping the Payne is a bit easier to read than the last one – at least it’s shorter!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Looking forward to The Janus Stone – don’t know why it’s lingered for so long! Thank you – it’s so annoying, since I’m not doing anything else with my time! I need to stop procrastinating… 😉

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    • I’ve loved the whole Maeve Kerrigan series – one of the very few that I started at the beginning and kept going! I like that there’s always just enough humour in them to stop them from becoming too bleak…

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  3. I’m glad the Janus Stone won and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    The Lionel Shriver sounds interesting, sort of…. (though the characters might have the potential of becoming tedious or irritating) I just hope Serenata is more likable than Serena!! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so too – I have high hopes since I always think her series start out really strongly… 😀

      Hahaha! Yes, if she’s not, I don’t hold out much hope for her poor husband, do you? 😂 I’ve always liked Lionel Shriver’s sense of humour in interviews, so I’m really hoping I enjoy her books just as much…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh dear, yet another murdered child and dead journalist. I may need to pass on those, as well as as civil war. Maybe if it stops feeling like we’re perilously close to one of our own, I could be interested in reading about others’ struggles…The set-up for The Motion of the Body sounds like it could be hilarious, perhaps if Liane Moriarty had written it…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was watching your Great Leader last night advising us all to inject ourselves with disinfectant to cure the virus… it would be hilarious if only it wasn’t so tragic! 😂 I feel that old wars are quite soothing in comparison to the present day – at least they’re over! I always enjoy Lionel Shriver’s sense of humour when she’s being a talking head, so I’m hoping it translates to book form – we shall see… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes, fingers crossed! If ever there was a time when I’d like to get lost in a book this is it, and my superpower has failed just at the crucial moment! Hope we both find something that switches our enthusiasm back on soon… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Both The Janus Stone and The Cutting Place sound intriguing. I sympathize with your reading slump. Our library has been on lock down, too, so I’m afraid a lot of folks in my town are idly twirling their thumbs … or sitting glued to their TV sets, with that all-consuming talk of viruses and such.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have high hopes for both of them, since they’re two of my favourite authors! And then I have a Sharon Bolton waiting too – if those three can’t inspire me, nothing will! Yes, I keep trying to stay away from the virus coverage but it becomes addictive – addictively horrible…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t settle to write reviews either as it seems so many of us are! Anyway I loved The Janus Stone, even though it’s written in the present tense. For a fictional look at the Spanish Civil War I can recommend C J Sansom’s A Winter in Madrid, although he has listed Anthony Beevor’s The Spanish Civil War as one of his sources describing it as the most accessible introduction to the war itself, with Gerald Brenan’s The Spanish Labyrinth as the best on the origins of the war. I am, of course, tempted by Jane Casey’s The Cutting Place and have a copy waiting to be read. And I still haven’t read any of Lionel Shriver’s books, although I’ve had one on the shelves for several years now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so annoying since we all have all this time on our hands and yet can’t seem to concentrate on anything. Hopefully we’ll get used to the “new normal” soon. I loved the early Ruth Galloways too despite the present tense, so am looking forward to filling in this gap. I actually read Winter in Madrid years ago and although I liked it, I felt hampered by my lack of knowledge of the period, so I’ve put it on for a re-read later in the challenge. I can see that the Beevor would appeal to a historian but I didn’t find it worked for the non-academic beginner (i.e., me!) – he didn’t explain the background enough before he got into the events. And he kept using Spanish words with no glossary so I was for ever having to go to google! Glad to hear he recommends The Spanish Labyrinth though, since I’ve got it waiting too. The Casey will be good of course, and I have high hopes for the Shriver… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Like you, I kinda went off the Ruth Galloway series. As I remember it, The Janus Stone was quite good, though. I’ve never got started on Jane Casey, but I am very curious about this series. Hope you enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always find Elly Griffiths’ series start off great and then gradually peter out – I wish she’d write more standalones or go for very short series. I am loving the Jane Casey, but then I always do! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m hoping Casey, Griffiths and Bolton can do their best for you so you can just enjoy some good reads which leave a crazy world behind for a bit. Once it’s the right time for it, I’m looking forward to learning some more about the Spanish Civil War through your reading – a lazy approach to learning when I know this is a topic I’m unlikely to get to myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happily I’m loving the new Casey so far – actually enthusiastic to pick it up and read, which feels strange at the moment! Oddly, factual books are working better for me, so I’m looking forward to making a start with the Spanish Civil War as soon as the books arrive – they’ve been delayed because of the lockdown, but hopefully should get here soon…

      Liked by 1 person

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