TBR Thursday 266…

Episode 266

A major step towards achieving my 2021 TBR reduction plan this week – no increase! Admittedly, no decrease either, but one step at a time. Sitting pretty on 193…

Here’s a few I should be pulling out soon…


The Invention of China by Bill Hayton

Courtesy of Yale University Press via Amazon Vine. It’s so rare that Amazon Vine offers me a book these days, much less an interesting-sounding one. I have a feeling the author, who is a journalist rather than a historian, is going to have to work quite hard to convince me of his argument though, unless the blurb over-simplifies it…

The Blurb says: China’s current leadership lays claim to a 5,000-year-old civilization, but “China” as a unified country and people, Bill Hayton argues, was created far more recently by a small group of intellectuals.

In this compelling account, Hayton shows how China’s present-day geopolitical problems—the fates of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea—were born in the struggle to create a modern nation-state. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, reformers and revolutionaries adopted foreign ideas to “invent’ a new vision of China. By asserting a particular, politicized version of the past the government bolstered its claim to a vast territory stretching from the Pacific to Central Asia. Ranging across history, nationhood, language, and territory, Hayton shows how the Republic’s reworking of its past not only helped it to justify its right to rule a century ago—but continues to motivate and direct policy today.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime

The Port of London Murders by Josephine Bell

Courtesy of the British Library. Isn’t it a gorgeous cover again? However, it’s getting pretty mixed reviews so far. I haven’t read anything by Bell before, so this will be my introduction to her…

The Blurb says: Wapping. Tugs and barges on the river. A west-end shop that deals apparently in nothing but lingerie. Women who sell their souls for something in a little screw of paper. A doctor in the slums who has mysterious visitors …

In a mean street of dockland a woman is dead, with every sign of suicide …

A derelict barge casts part of a cargo ashore, boxes which have double ends: some of these box-ends are empty, others conceal pink chiffon nightdresses …

The river police are concerned with the smuggling, Detective-Sergeant Chandler with an apparent suicide which he believes to be murder. River and shore police confer. Sergeant Chandler visits his suspects once more. He is never seen again …

* * * * *


Cemetery Road by Greg Iles

Courtesy of HarperCollins. I was really tempted by Iles’ last hugely successful book, Mississippi Blood, but as usual never found time to read it, so I was pleased to be sent a copy of this one. I actually thought he was a newish author but it looks like he has an extensive back catalogue and a large and loyal fan base. Will I join them? It’s nearly 600 pages long, so it’ll have to be good to keep my attention…

The Blurb says: Marshall McEwan is one of the most successful journalists in Washington, DC. But his father is terminally ill, and he must return to his childhood home – a place he vowed he would never go back to.

Bienville, Mississippi, is no longer the city Marshall remembers. His family’s 150-year-old newspaper is failing, and Jet Talal, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of a dozen powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Bienville Poker Club. The city’s only hope of economic salvation is a new, billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But on the verge of the deal’s consummation, two deaths rock Bienville to its core.

Joining forces with his former lover, Marshall begins digging for the truth. But he and Jet soon discover that the soil of Mississippi is a minefield where explosive secrets can be far more destructive than injustice.

* * * * *

Scottish Classic on Audio

Whisky Galore by Sir Compton Mackenzie read by David Rintoul

One from my Classics Club list. I vaguely know the story of this, I think from watching the ancient film version when I was a kid, but I’ve never read it. David Rintoul is a Scottish actor, so I’m expecting him to breeze through the islanders’ accents… 

The Blurb says: It’s 1943, and the war has brought rationing to the Hebridean Islands of Great and Little Todday. When food is in short supply, it is bad enough, but when the whisky runs out, it looks like the end of the world.

Morale is at rock bottom. George Campbell needs a wee dram to give him the courage to stand up to his mother and marry Catriona. The priest, the doctor and, of course, the landlord at the inn are all having a very thin time of it. There’s no conversation, no jollity, no fun – until a shipwreck off the coast brings a piece of extraordinary good fortune….

* * * * *

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?

45 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 266…

  1. I’m impressed, FictionFan! Not adding to your TBR is an important first step. You should be proud of yourself. Your choices this week all look good. The Hayden looks interesting, although I’m not sure I buy his main argument, either (but then, you know how blurbs can be…). You’ve got some tempting vintage crime fiction there, too. I’m so glad that so many of those stories are once again seeing the light of day. It makes me happy to know they’re getting new audiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is! I wouldn’t want it to drop too quickly – don’t want to achieve all my resolutions in the first couple of months… 😉 I’ve only read the intro to the Hayden so far, and I have a feeling I’m going to be arguing with him all the way through – should be fun! I’m really enjoying the vintage revival – it’s reminded me why I used to love crime fiction so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve made me want to read Whisky Galore again, it was in the late 90s I came across it, but remember finding it fun, it could be the escapism I need right now. I like David Rintoul as a narrator, so I might get hold of this version.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! I started it the other night but fell asleep after ten minutes – my fault, not the book’s! But so far I’m enjoying Rintoul’s narration… 😀


  3. The first one really doesn’t tempt me at all, but the other three… they all look good! And yes, the British Library cover is gorgeous. I would love to have my own library of British Library releases! 🙂 (I have a start with a handful of the Sci-fi, but my crime selections are all on Kindle)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on the not increasing your TBR! I hope you have some chocolate with which to celebrate! Fortunately for my TBR, you didn’t tempt me this week, but I’ll be curious to see if you like the Greg Iles – he’s pretty popular with patrons at my library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chocolate to celebrate when it goes down, to console when it stays the same, and medicinally if it goes up! 😂 Oh good, if a book is popular with library patrons that’s usually a good sign! The blurb certainly appeals to me… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whisky Galore should be enjoyable, I read the book fairly recently and saw the new version of the film. I think the Josephine Bell book should be good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t realised there was a new film till I googled the book – I might try to watch it afterwards. I suspect the original film would look very creaky now! I haven’t read any Josephine Bell that I remember, so I have my fingers crossed. 😀


  6. Whiskey Galore by Compton Mackenzie sounds like a book I would make up if I had to make up a fake but super Scottish book! The Invention of China sounds like a book I’d be interested in reading – I’ll look forward to your review of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha, yes!!! The worst thing is, apparently it’s based on a true story! Och, aye! 😂 I’ve only read the intro to the China book so far, and I have a feeling I might spend the whole time arguing with him, which will be fun! We’ll see…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I must read Whisky Galore – when I watched the film quite recently with my 20ish year old son he was slightly disapproving of their need for whisky – so puritanical!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The cover of that British fiction is beautiful. That 600 page mystery though? I think that’s running a little long for my tastes. I have an Anthony Horowitz on my shelf that’s close to that, and i’m sort of dreading picking it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I hope the book lives up to it! Yes, it was because his last one was so long that I never got around to it, and I’d probably have avoided this one too if I hadn’t been sent an unsolicited review copy. But I do think his plots sound good and he gets glowing reviews…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’d never heard of him till Natchez Burning, which got a lot of love around the blogosphere but I didn’t manage to fit it in. So I have my fingers crossed for this one! I feel extremely lucky to be on the BL’s list, though they’ve been a bit hit and miss during Covid – they go into furlough and I go into withdrawal! 😉


  9. History of China sounds interesting. I read a few historical books by journalists and I also find that the books are not as academic as they can be (as in footnotes) and sometimes feel as an editorial piece instead of unbiased analysis. Even if I take all these books with a “pinch of salt”, I still give most of them 4 or 5 stars as I always end up learning something from them. I hope you will enjoy that one.

    Cemetery Road is long indeed, so fingers crossed that it is enjoyable. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, sometimes books by journalists are easier to read, but I find they’re often a bit shallower than a historian would give us. So far this one is feeling a bit dry, but I’m still in the very early stages of it…

      Haha, Cemetery Road is huge, so it better be good! If I end up throwing it at the wall, it could do serious damage… 😉


  10. Not tempted but that’s good! I have a plan to read everything that was on my TBR at the end of the year by the end of this year. Not that that will mean Book Zero as I’ve already managed to acquire another one!

    Liked by 1 person

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