TBR Thursday 264…

Episode 264

Three out, three in this week, so the TBR remains beautifully balanced on193…

Oh, by the way, in case you haven’t noticed it’s nearly Christmas…

Dickens at Christmas

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

As always, I’ll be spending the festive season in the company of my old friend, Charles Dickens. I was going to re-read The Mystery of Edwin Drood this year, but then Rose’s review of this one reminded me that it’s the only one of the novels I’ve never read. An unread Dickens! What a treat!

The Blurb says: One of Dickens’s most haunting and bizarre novels, The Old Curiosity Shop is the story of “Little Nell” and her persecution by the grotesque and lecherous Quilp. It is a shifting kaleidoscope of events and characters as the story reaches its tragic climax, an ending that famously devastated the novel’s earliest readers. Dickens blends naturalistic and allegorical styles to encompass both the actual blight of Victorian industrialization and textual echoes of Bunyan, the Romantic poets, Shakespeare, pantomine, and Jacobean tragedy. This edition uses the Clarendon text, the definitive edition of the novels of Charles Dickens, and includes the original illustrations.

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Christmas Fiction

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Courtesy of Penguin Classics via NetGalley. I’ve only read Capote’s In Cold Blood before, and this couldn’t really sound any more different…

The Blurb says: Tender and bittersweet, these stories by Truman Capote, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, are a captivating tribute to the Christmas season.

Selected from across Capote’s writing life, they range from nostalgic portraits of childhood to more unsettling works that reveal the darkness beneath the festive glitter. In the Deep South of Capote’s youth, a young boy, Buddy, and his beloved maiden ‘aunt’ Sook forage for pecans and whiskey to bake into fruitcakes, make kites – too broke to buy gifts – and rise before dawn to prepare feasts for a ragged assembly of guests; it is Sook who teaches Buddy the true meaning of good will. In other stories, an unlikely festive miracle, of sorts, occurs at a local drugstore; a lonely woman has a troubling encounter in wintry New York. Brimming with feeling, these sparkling tales convey both the wonder and the chill of Christmas time.

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Christmas Horror Stories

Spirits of the Season edited by Tanya Kirk

This is from the BL’s excellent Tales of the Weird series, one that I missed when it came out a couple of years ago. Should complement my Dickens reading nicely, and keep the porpy occupied while I eat turkey sandwiches…

The Blurb says: Festive cheer turns to maddening fear in this new collection of seasonal hauntings, presenting the best Christmas ghost stories from the 1860s to the 1940s.

The traditional trappings of the holiday are turned upside down as restless spirits disrupt the merry games of the living, Christmas trees teem with spiteful pagan presences, and the Devil himself treads the boards at the village pantomime.

As the cold night of winter closes in and the glow of the hearth begins to flicker and fade, the uninvited visitors gather in the dark in this distinctive assortment of Yuletide chillers.

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Shardlake on Audio

Sovereign by CJ Sansom read by Steven Crossley

It would have been nice if I could have rounded the post off with another Christmassy one, but I’ve already started this one and they’re always so long I might well still be listening to it at Christmas! I’m still thoroughly enjoying Steven Crossley’s readings of this great series…

The Blurb says: Autumn, 1541. King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission by his rebellious subjects in York.

Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a secret mission for Archbishop Cranmer – to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator who is to be returned to London for interrogation.

But the murder of a York glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. And when Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret documents which could threaten the Tudor throne, a chain of events unfolds that will lead to Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age . . .

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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?

52 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 264…

  1. Ooh, a Shardlake on audio! You know, I’ve never experienced a C.J. Sansom novel that way, FictionFan, but I can see how it would work quite well. I was looking at the BL collection, too – that ought to be good! But it’ll have to be very good indeed to keep the porpy away from those delicious sandwiches of yours! And of course, Dickens is a natural fit for Christmas. They just…go together.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m loving listening to them – for some odd reason I’m enjoying audiobooks much more during my reading slump. I swear my brain is a mystery to me! 😉 The Dickens and horror story combo should be perfect festive reading – now all I need are some mince pies and a paper hat… 🎅

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder what you’ll make of the Old Curiosity Shop, I got on better with it than I thought I would. Not among my absolute favorites, but definitely in my top 10 if I were ever to rank them. I’ve still got Pickwick and Barnaby to go, but since it has been such a rubbish year, I think I might just re-read one of my favorites over the Christmas period, possibly David Copperfield, or maybe even Dombey and Son, the novel which got me into Dickens for some reason.
    I’ve got my eye on the Capote short story collection also, as you are the second of my blogging friends who’s mentioned it within the last week, and it might actually force me to tackle In Cold Blood eventually. Happy reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a feeling Little Nell might bring out my homicidal tendencies, but I remember reading a book about London fog in literature a few years ago that suggested this book is one of the greatest examples of that, and I do love foggy stories! I enjoyed Barnaby Rudge although I felt the structure was a bit off, and I loved Pickwick, though it’s very different from all his other novels. I tend to read it in bits, like a short story collection rather than a novel. I also loved Dombey and Sons – one of the most underrated, I feel. I’d like to re-read it soon – maybe next Christmas.
      I’m intrigued by the Capote – I suspect In Cold Blood is different from his usual style, but that’s how I think of him because it’s the only one I’ve read…


  3. Dickens is usually perfect winter reading! I haven’t read The Old Curiosity Shop yet, but I will get to it eventually. Sovereign is one of my favourite Shardlake novels. I’m pleased to hear the audio versions are good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been reading a Dickens novel every Christmas for the last several years and it’s become a firm part of the festive season for me now! I’d forgotten I still had an unread one, so that will be a special treat. I’m loving Sovereign, and the whole series works really well on audio, probably because of the first person narrative.


  4. The Dickens is one I haven’t read either (shame, shame, English major!!). I probably ought to add a few classics to next year’s reading list so I don’t have to admit my ignorance anymore!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’m beginning to feel I need a break from classics – I think I’ve overdosed recently! But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for me without a Dickens novel, so it’s a real treat to have an unread one to savour… 😀


  5. I didn’t know Capote had a Christmas collection. As you know, I read In Cold Blood in October, but haven’t read anything else of his. I have Breakfast at Tiffany’s marked in my library app.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Santa, I’ve been a very good girl ….. I’ve tried to be a very good girl … and I’m really not asking for all that much this year and technically I’m not even asking anything for me but for my lovely friend Leah whose TBR needs a dramatic increase. So if you could see fit to add a few …. I don’t know … 100* let’s say? I’d so appreciate that. Thank you, Santa. 😊

    *give or take

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Eva,

      I’ve checked the list and it appears you’re on the Naughty one. However, your generous offer to gift your pressies to your friend have tipped the balance and I’ve moved you over to the Nice side. In fact, I’m so impressed by your kindness that I feel it would be totally unfair to give all the books to Leah, especially since she’s even lower down the Naughty list than you were – hard to believe, I know. So instead I’m going to send you 200 books, each of them over 500 pages long – approximately 600 murders, in fact. That should ensure you have a great New Year!

      Love, Santa. 🎅

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Truman Capote at Christmas sounds interesting. No matter how much I know they do celebrate Christmas in the American South, I always have trouble picturing it! And more Christmas horror and mayhem!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Capote sounds interesting, I haven’t read anything by him yet nor have I read The Old Curiosity Shop, it sounds good – one for my next Classics Club list. I love your Dickens at Christmas tradition, such a good idea if only I could get myself organised!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I read all the Shardlake books and enjoyed all of them. The last one is a bit of a let-down, as Matthew has some rather socialist views for the 16th century, but, overall, I would recommend this series.
    A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote sounds really interesting too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve loved them all too, and although I agree Shardlake sometimes seems to have pretty modern attitudes somehow I find them easy to forgive, because I love the way Sansom steeps me in the history of the period. I’m quite sure I’ve learned more about the Tudor era from him than from all the history books I’ve read! I’ve just started the Capote so the jury’s still out on that one…


    • It’s great, isn’t it? I still think it’s impossible to spin like that! I don’t usually make a point of reading Christmas books but this year feels as if it needs some extra festive cheer! 😀 🎅


    • Dickens is looking good so far! (Haha, I don’t suppose that was a surprise… 😉 ) The Capote… hmm… I’m having a bit of a mixed reaction to it so far, but the ghost story anthology is shaping up nicely!

      Liked by 1 person

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