TBR Thursday 268 – The People’s Choice…

Episode 268

(A reminder of the People’s Choice plan. Once a month, I shall list the four oldest books on the TBR, then the next four, and so on, and each time you will select the one you think I should read, either because you’ve read and enjoyed it, or because you think the blurb looks good. And I will read the one you pick within three months! If I begin to fall behind, I’ll have a gap till I catch up again. In the event of a tie, I’ll have the casting vote.)

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OK, time for the next batch of four! Still working through books acquired in 2015 – this was definitely a year when I had no control over my book-buying addiction at all! As usual, I’m planning three months ahead so the winner will be an April read. An odd bunch, this time, I think. Blacklands is the first in a trilogy – I also have book 2 which I acquired at the same time. Belinda Bauer is one of those authors I often love and sometimes don’t, so it could go either way. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was acquired while I was having a brief but passionate love affair with Neil Gaiman. Cold Comfort Farm was a recommendation from L. Marie, though in what context I’ve long forgotten! I love Megan Abbott’s books where she explores the dark hormonal side of teenage girl angst, but Die A Little sounds very different – noir written by a woman is still quite unusual. I haven’t kept a note of it, but I suspect Margot is the culprit for adding that one!

I’m intrigued to see which one you pick…

Crime

Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

Added 8th July 2015. 7,426 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.69 average rating. 240 pages.

The Blurb says: Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Every day after school, while his classmates swap football stickers, Steven goes digging to lay to rest the ghost of the uncle he never knew, who disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery.

Only Steven’s Nan is not convinced her son is dead. She still waits for him to come home, standing bitter guard at the front window while her family fragments around her. Steven is determined to heal the widening cracks between them before it’s too late. And if that means presenting his grandmother with the bones of her murdered son, he’ll do it.

So the boy takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored serial killer . . . 

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Fantasy

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Added 8th July 2015. 494,184 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.00 average. 181 pages.

The Blurb says: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

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Fiction

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Added 16th July 2015. 42,593 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.90 average. 338 pages. 

The Blurb says: Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right.

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Crime

Die a Little by Megan Abbott

Added 3rd September 2015. 2,407 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.67 average. 256 pages.

The Blurb says: Shadow-dodging through the glamorous world of 1950s Hollywood and its seedy flip side, Megan Abbott’s debut, Die a Little, is a gem of the darkest hue. This ingenious twist on a classic noir tale tells the story of Lora King, a schoolteacher, and her brother Bill, a junior investigator with the district attorney’s office. Lora’s comfortable, suburban life is jarringly disrupted when Bill falls in love with a mysterious young woman named Alice Steele, a Hollywood wardrobe assistant with a murky past.

Made sisters by marriage but not by choice, the bond between Lora and Alice is marred by envy and mistrust. Spurred on by inconsistencies in Alice’s personal history and possibly jealous of Alice’s hold on her brother, Lora finds herself lured into the dark alleys and mean streets of seamy Los Angeles. Assuming the role of amateur detective, she uncovers a shadowy world of drugs, prostitution, and ultimately, murder.

Lora’s fascination with Alice’s “sins” increases in direct proportion to the escalation of her own relationship with Mike Standish, a charmingly amoral press agent who appears to know more about his old friend Alice than he reveals. The deeper Lora digs to uncover Alice’s secrets, the more her own life begins to resemble Alice’s sinister past — and present.

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VOTE NOW!

(Click on title and then remember to also click on Vote, or your vote won’t count!)

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

59 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 268 – The People’s Choice…

  1. I have the same problem with Bauer as you do. Neil Gaiman and I didn’t get along at all. And out of the other two I preferred the cover for Cold Comfort Farm so that got my vote. Seems as good a reason as any. 💁🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I’m not alone with finding Bauer variable – but when she’s good, she’s very good! Yeah, Neil Gaiman was like that guy you meet up the dancin’ and he seems gorgeous, but then you meet up again for coffee in the daylight, sober, and… 😉 Excellent choice – sounds as if it would be a fun read!

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  2. Well, FictionFan, you can’t really blame me for Die a Little. I mean, I did do a spotlight on it once, but it’s hardly my fault if you made the choice to get the book. I mean, really! 😉

    Actually, that one is a very good book in my opinion. It’s written in the first person (but not the present tense!), and Abbott is so skilled at building psychological tension. I have to admit I was drawn into the story. I’m also glad to see Blacklands on your list. That’s another really good tension-builder with a terrific sense of the Exmoor setting and the working-class life – at least, I think so. I’d actually be happy with any of your choices this time, but I think I’m voting for Die a Little. Not by much, though – just a hair…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grrr, I KNEW it was your fault! I’ll get you back one of these days…!! 😉 I’ve wanted to read both Die A Little and Blacklands for years – I don’t know why some books just get left behind on the TBR! Abbott is a great writer and I can imagine she’d be very good at that kind of noir writing, and I read a later book of Bauer’s with an Exmoor setting, although not one of this trilogy as far as I remember. The vote’s on a knife-edge at the moment, so we’ll see what comes up! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would go with Cold Comfort Farm, as you’ve jogged my memory to read it myself. I put it on my TBR last Summer, as it came up a lot on people’s lists of favorite comfort reads. Sounds like a good piece of escapism.

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  4. I voted for Blacklands, though I’d enjoy a review from you about any of these. I think Cold Comfort Farm appeals the least, but as of this moment is in the lead. Perhaps (if it wins) you’ll be able to persuade me to read it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked Blacklands, even though it’s not really my usual sort of book, so I voted for that one. I didn’t get on very well with Cold Comfort Farm as I just didn’t seem to connect with the humour, but most people love it – I hope you do too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find humorous books are always a bit hit or miss with me – it’s hard to keep it going for a whole book. At the moment Cold Comfort Farm is still in the lead, but Blacklands has come up strongly overnight and could easily pull off a last minute victory – we’ll see! 😀

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  6. The only one of these I’ve read is The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I remember it as starting out well, but fizzling out. (To tell the truth, my memory of it is pretty fuzzy). Blacklands sounds really interesting, though, so I voted for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I went through a little Gaiman stage for a bit but it wore off – I found he was too variable. Blacklands is coming up strongly from behind, and could easily pull off a last minute victory – we’ll see! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! In theory I will read them all one day, but it’s a matter of when!! I love the idea of Die A Little – she’s a great writer and I imagine she could get that noir style very well. It’s well behind at the moment though, so I don’t think it’s going to win… 😦

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  7. I can’t get the links to work (maybe because I’m on my phone), but I would vote for Die a Little because of that amazing extremely pulpy cover! I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane a few years ago and thought it had moments of brilliance, but was overall underwhelmed – Neil Gaiman has been a bit hit and Miss for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve added your vote for Die A Little – don’t know why these polls only seem to work on some platforms but not others! I adore the cover of it too, and she’s a great writer, so I’d be happy to see it win – it’s looking unlikely at the moment though… 😦 That’s exactly what I find with Gaiman, and in the end the misses were happening more often than the hits, so I kinda gave up on him. But not before acquiring a couple more of his books!

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    • CCF does look as if it could be one of those love/hate books – humour is so hard to sustain and anyway, it’s so subjective. It’s still in the lead but only by a whisker – Blacklands has come up strongly and could easily pull off a last minute victory – we’ll see! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I voted for Die A Little because I loved the 1950s style cover. The blurb sounds interesting too. I see now that this is the 3rd in the list, so I imagine is unlikely that it will win. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the cover too, and she’s a great writer. I imagine she could do that noir style really well! But no, sadly it’s looking unlikely that it’ll win this time round… oh, well! There’s always a next time… 😀

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  9. I voted for the Bauer – I’ve enjoyed the couple that I’ve read & this one also sounded promising, but will probably depend very much on the quality of the interaction between the killer & the ‘victim’ !.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I usually love Bauer – there have only been a couple that didn’t work for me, but Blacklands sounds good! And it’s coming up strongly from behind in the voting, so it could easily pull off a last minute victory – we’ll see! 😀

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  10. I voted for Cold Comfort Farm, because when I read it, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. But all sound good, and I would like to hear your views on any of them. Especially the Neil Gaiman because it sounds too scary for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was neck and neck for a while there, but it looks as though Cold Comfort Farm is pulling ahead again, so I’m glad it has your endorsement! You should listen to Neil Gaiman on youtube performing Click-Clack, the Rattle-Bag – it’s deliciously terrifying… 😱😂

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  11. What a dilemma: should we vote for books we like or books we think you’ll like? I really enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s so atmospheric, melancholic and sad – almost with a dreamlike quality. Also, it’s surprisingly different from another Gaiman favourite, Neverwhere, which is just crazy and fun. Anyway, I voted, but I can see there is no chance it will win, which might be a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’m always pretty sure people mostly vote for books they think THEY’d like, but that’s OK. After all, none of these books would be on my TBR if I hadn’t thought I’d enjoy them, at least at the point that I added them! I might love The Ocean… I did love one or two of his things, and then didn’t love the next one or two, and so he drifted away into the recesses of the TBR. But I will read it one day, and who knows? It may revive my love… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know why Blacklands has lingered so long on my TBR since I auto-read all her new novels. I actually preferred her earlier stuff, so I’m almost certain I’d like it! She seems to kinda specialise in having child characters and she does them very well…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I did like Ocean at the End of the Lane, but I’m not sure how you would find it with the fantasy elements 🤔 I also enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm, easy to read and good humoured. I’m interested in Blacklands and would like to see your thoughts on this, but, on the basis of mood, voted for CCF as a lighter rather than darker story for grey times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CCF is looking like it’s got an unassailable lead now! I don’t know how I’d get on with Ocean, but I will read it one day. Not sure why Blacklands is lingering since I’m almost certain to enjoy it. That’s the problem with People’s Choice – I always end up wanting to read them all! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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