TBR Thursday 243…

Episode 243

The TBR has remained steady over the last couple of weeks with a few drifting out and a few drifting in – still 208. The reading slump continues, the reviewing slump continues – fortunately, there hasn’t been either a chocolate slump or a cake slump, or life would be truly intolerable!

A couple of review-along announcements to start with:

  1. A Month in the Country review-along. This is one of my 20 Books of Summer and Sandra suggested we should read and review it at the same time. Sounds like a great idea to me, so we’ve set 31st August as the date for our synchronised reviews. Alyson and Christine (both non-bloggers at the moment, though I’m working on it 😉 ) have already joined in and anyone else is welcome to jump aboard! The rules are simple – either review it on your blog on 31st August or if you prefer leave your views in the comments section on my review and/or the reviews of anyone else who reviews it. I’ll put links to any other reviews on my own.
  2. Tender is the Night review-along. This didn’t win last week’s People’s Choice but Alyson suggested it would be fun to read it at the same time and discuss. Another great idea! Since then Sandra and Eva have said they might join in too, and again, anyone else is welcome! Same rules – we haven’t set a firm date for reviews yet, but I’m proposing 26th October. Anyone who’s thinking of joining in, especially you, Alyson, of course, please let me know in the comments if that date does or doesn’t suit you.

Doesn’t that all sound like fun? 😀

Here are a few more I might or might not miss dinner for…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

Excellent choice, People, especially since it will fit in well with my plan to read some lighter stuff for a while till my slump lifts! Tender is the Night stayed in the race but was always a furlong or two behind, and I fear the other two collapsed on the verge just a few yards from the starting line. This will be my introduction to Zouroudi and her detective, more or less, except for one short story I read and enjoyed in an anthology several years ago. It’s been on my TBR since 2014. I plan to read and review it by the end of August.

The Blurb says: Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched and untroubled by the modern world. So when the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police – governed more by archaic rules of honor than by the law – are quick to close the case, dismissing her death as an accident.

Then a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further into the crime he believes has been committed. Refusing to accept the woman’s death as an accident or suicide, Hermes Diaktoros sets out to uncover the truths that skulk beneath this small community’s exterior.

Hermes’s methods of investigation are unorthodox, and his message to the islanders is plain – tell the truth or face the consequences. Before long, he’s uncovering a tale of passion, corruption and murder that entangles many of the island’s residents. But Hermes brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies – and as he travels the rugged island landscape to investigate, questions and suspicions arise amongst the locals. Who has sent him to Thiminos, and on whose authority is he acting? And how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?

Rich in images of Greece’s beautiful islands and evoking a life unknown to most outsiders, this wonderful novel leads the reader into a world where the myths of the past are not forgotten and forbidden passion still has dangerous consequences.

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English Classic

The African Queen by CS Forester

One from my Classics Club list. I’ve seen a couple of reviews that suggest this is one case where the film perhaps is better than the book, but since the film is brilliant that’s hardly surprising! And happily, I have the DVD lined up for a re-watch after I’ve read it…

The Blurb says: As World War I reaches the heart of the African jungle, Charlie Allnutt and Rose Sayer, a dishevelled trader and an English spinster missionary, find themselves thrown together by circumstance. Fighting time, heat, malaria, and bullets, they make their escape on the rickety steamboat The African Queen…and hatch their own outrageous military plan. Originally published in 1935, The African Queen is a tale replete with vintage Forester drama – unrelenting suspense, reckless heroism, impromptu military manoeuvres, near-death experiences – and a good old-fashioned love story to boot.

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Fiction

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

And finally! What other choice could I possibly make for the final book in my mammoth Around the World in 80 Books challenge? This will be a re-read from a long time ago, and Oxford World’s Classics have kindly provided me with a copy, so the intro and notes will make it even more fun to read…

The Blurb says: One night in the reform club, Phileas Fogg bets his companions that he can travel across the globe in just eighty days. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, he immediately sets off for Dover with his astonished valet Passepartout. Passing through exotic lands and dangerous locations, they seize whatever transportation is at hand—whether train or elephant—overcoming set-backs and always racing against the clock.

Around the World in Eighty Days has been a bestseller for over a century, but it has never before appeared in a critical edition. While most translations misread or even abridge the original, this stylish version is completely true to Verne’s classic, moving as fast and as brilliantly as Phineas Fogg’s own race against time. Around the World in Eighty Days offers a strong dose of post-romantic reality but not a shred of science fiction: its modernism lies instead in the experimental technique and Verne’s unique twisting of space and time.

* * * * *

Historical Fiction on Audion

Dissolution by CJ Sansom

Sansom’s Shardlake books are my favourite historical fiction series of all time. I’ve been meaning to re-read them for ages but never seem able to fit them in. So I decided to try the first one on audio since on the whole I prefer listening to books I’ve already read. The narrator is Steven Crossley – I haven’t come across him before but the reviews of his narrations are very positive…

The Blurb says: The first book in the best-selling Shardlake series. It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066.

Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church. The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. And under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries.

There can only be one outcome: dissolution. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege.

Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea. But investigation soon forces Shardlake to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes….

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

64 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 243…

  1. What do you mean, it’s still 208? For crying out loud. I don’t ask for much. Just a higher number every week. Why do you deny me my joy!?! 🥺

    I’m most tempted by … the Shardlake audiobook 😄

    Sorry to hear your reading and reviewing slump continues. But I’m taking your chocolate away from you anyway. You steal my joy, I steal yours. 😜

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know what I’m doing – I feel as if I’m on my usual routine but those books just never seem to get finished! I suspect aliens are playing with the space-time continuum again… 😉

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  2. I’m most tempted by the the Dissolution audio but I think it would leave the last Diana Gabaldon audio standing (that’s 40+ hours and I haven’t attemped it yet!)
    Take heart from the non slump in chocolate and cake 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, that way beats Dissolution – it’s only 14 hours. Mind you, since each book is longer than the one before I dread to imagine how long the most recent one is! The coffee and croissants I’m about to have help make life worth living too… 😉

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        • The later ones are – I think the last one was over 800 pages, but the early ones were more manageable. 😀 Hahaha – I love the morning after a supermarket run – so many goodies in the cupboards… 😂

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  3. I’m looking forward to both the readalongs, the dates work well for me. Too bad you’re still slumping, I feel your pain and frustration, but at least you still have the chocolate and cake to cheer you up. I read a few of the Sansom books years ago, but it was a different narrator, and I have a funny feeling they were abridged, so I might start again sometime with the new recordings, as I enjoyed the ones I read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Both books are appealing, so it will be fun to compare notes! Ah, was that Anton Lesser? I nearly went for his version and then realised at the last moment that he’s done the abridged versions. I do love Sansom but there’s no doubt the books get very, very long as the series progresses. But hopefully Seven Crossley is as good as the reviews suggest. 😀

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      • Yes, it was, it’s a shame he only recorded the abridged ones, as he is a great narrator.
        Chipping into your conversation about favorite chocolate, I’ve not eaten Milkie Bar Buttons since I was around 6, a real blast from the past. I’ll need to force myself to buy some now, they’re so yummy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • MilkyBar Buttons are unfortunately completely addictive. This is the problem with supermarket shopping only every ten days or so. I buy enough goodies to last and then suddenly somehow they’re all gone three days in and I have to endure chocolate famine for a week…

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  4. I’m looking forward to reading all of these reviews, especially the review-alongs, but will wait to read your reviews before committing myself to reading any myself. Glad to hear the chocolate and cake situation is progressing properly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love both of your readalong books but I’ve read or reread them fairly recently, so won’t be taking part. Of the rest, I really do believe that Around the World in 80 Days got me interested in world cultures and my study of anthropology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel as if they’re both books everybody has read so I was quite surprised when several people mentioned they hadn’t. Really? I read it so long ago – I think I was a child, more or less – that I hardly remember anything, except the bit about the Indian woman and the funeral pyre. So I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with it! 😀

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    • Funnily enough, it’s much shorter than I seemed to remember from reading it long ago, so I’m wondering if it’s quite a dense read that makes it seem longer. I’ll soon find out! 😀

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  6. Yes, I’m definitely in for the review-along of Tender is the Night, which is probably not a book that would get to the top of my pile otherwise. It really does seem worth reading so it’s good to have an incentive. I’ll be looking with interest at how you find the three other books, with encouragement I could be tempted. I hope Sansom brings real pleasure in the audio re-read, the Shardlake series is a great favourite for me too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! I don’t know how I’ll feel about Tender is the Night. All I really remember about it is that it didn’t blow me away the way Gatsby had, but I was very young when I read it. Older me might either get more out of it (hopefully), or might get irritated by all these rather futile “lost generation” people – they do annoy me sometimes! 😉 I’m looking forward to Around the World in Eighty Days – I’ve been holding it back for months till I got to the last book of the challenge. Finally! And I’m hoping the Shardlake narrations are as good as the reviews suggest. 😀

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  7. I think audio is a great way to experience the Shardlake series, FictionFan. And it allows for fitting the stories in even with their length. Very glad to see that The Messenger of Athens won your People’s Choice competition. I think it’s the start of a a good series, and the settings are fantastic. There’s a real feel of the Greek islands (and mainland Greece, too), at least in my opinion. Oh, and I love the idea of a ‘review along.’ What a great idea to bring bloggers/book reviewers together!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do prefer listening to books I’ve already read – lack of concentration (or power naps 😉 ) don’t matter so much when you already know the story. I’m looking forward to The Messenger of Athens – a virtual visit to Greece sounds good, even if there is a murder or two! The review-alongs should be fun – especially if we all disagree and can have a good argument… oops! I mean debate… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Messenger of Athens was my poll pick so I’m partial to that one. 😁 Though The African Queen has its charms. (Embarrassed to admit I’ve never read a single one of Forester’s Hornblower novels though I’ve read Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin series. Not sure why I missed reading the former.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Messenger of Athens does sound good – fingers crossed! I’ve seen a couple of not very glowing reviews of The African Queen, but at least it will provide a good excuse to watch the film again!

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    • Ha, that’s only because I have a huge backlog of reviews from the pre-pandemic era! But if I don’t gee myself up I’ll run out completely in a couple of weeks. 😲 Looking forward to Tender is the Night – it’s been overdue a re-read for far too long…

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  9. I think I’ve determined the reason behind your “reading slump” — it’s because you’ve got far too many GOOD books on your TBR!! This selection sounds most interesting. How I missed reading some of these classics (like Around the World in 80 Days and The African Queen) I’ll never know!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I think you may be right! This is why I must stop taking review copies and concentrate on some of the books I already own! There are just so many classics – I don’t believe it would be possible to read them all. But the short adventure ones are always good fun… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a perfect novel for ending your journey around the world!! We had a couple of First Edition sets in our home when I was growing up and I believe the Verne books were among them. (along with Frank L. Baum’s Oz series)

    I will pass on the read alongs this time. It really has nothing to do with the last. Honestly! It’s mainly because neither is available through my library app. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it? It had to be either the first or the last! Oh, I’d have loved to have a first edition of it, though I’m always frightened with valuable books in case I get chocolatey fingers on them… 😉

      Haha – I believe you! 😉 I suspect A Month in the Country will be great, but Tender is the Night could go either way I feel, and it’s quite long…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think they’ll be very different but both will take me on a nice foreign adventure, so that works for me! I’ve seen some reviews of The African Queen that suggests it’s not as good as the film, but we’ll see…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Personally, I’d like to spend a little time on Thiminos without the dead body. I really need a holiday, and don’t see one in sight for—perhaps—years. Not feeling particularly inspired by any of these choices. Can you tell I got up on the wrong side of the bed today?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I gave you six choices and didn’t tempt you even once??? You’re a tough audience… 😉 I much prefer virtual travel to these hot countries – my northern skin can’t cope with sun and heat. If I was going on holiday it would have to be to somewhere nice and cold. Alaska, perhaps…

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  12. Happy classic reading, FF! Around the World in Eighty Days is so much fun and I’ll be interested to hear more about The African Queen. As we know, I am not a huge F. Scott Fitzgerald fan (sorry!), however Tender in the Night is one of those I enjoyed more than most. 🙂

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  13. I know this isn’t book related but what kind of chocolate have you been eating? I don’t think we’ve ever discussed what your favs are. Do you have a chocolate cupboard? I’d like to know details….

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  14. Hurrah for review-alongs. And chocolate! Chocolate in bed is a particular vice of mine and I’m not sorry for it. Also chocolate with a cup of tea, chocolate in the bath… 🛀😳 But I digress. I am skipping past your reference to Tender is the Night being LONG 😱 I shall pretend not to know this and continue in the happy expectation that it will be similar in length to Gatsby – a book which I did not like. Should make for some interesting reviews. Glad we have Carr’s gem first. Universally loved I think 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are very few places where chocolate is not essential, I feel. I can’t understand why it’s not available on prescription… 😀 Haha – well, longish. Well, fairly long. Hmm, actually I just looked it up on Goodreads and it seems to think it’s only just over 300 pages, but my Kindle version thinks it’s more than twice the length of Gatsby – nearly three times, in fact… I guess we’ll find out! But the Carr’s definitely short! 😀

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      • There may be another taker for Tender is the Night; I’ve passed on the details. Which is how I came to notice that I don’t appear to have agreed to Oct 26th as a suitable date. Perhaps I have somewhere, but just in case… Works fine for me!

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