TBR Thursday 269…

Episode 269

Off to a racing start in this new year – the TBR has plummeted by three to 191! Could it be that the 2020 slump is over? I’m sure it’s all going to go smoothly from now on…

Here are a few more that should slide off soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

It was an exciting race this week, People! Cold Comfort Farm took an early lead that looked unassailable, but then Blacklands started to creep up behind. It was touch and go for a while, but then CCF got some late support that helped take it over the finish line in style! I plan to read and review it in April…

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.


The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Generally I love Erik Larson and I’m always interested in Churchill, so this should be perfect for me. But the blurb makes it sound more like a family saga than a history. Hopefully bad blurb syndrome – we’ll see!

The Blurb says: On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally–and willing to fight to the end.

In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports–some released only recently–Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

* * * * *


In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda

One for my Spanish Civil War challenge. Now that I’ve got some slight grip on the actual history, I’m looking forward to exploring some fiction. If anyone has any recommendations for lit-fic, action thrillers or even crime set in the period, I’m open to suggestions – books written by Spaniards preferred (but not essential), but must be available in translation since sadly I don’t read Spanish.

The Blurb says: Barcelona, early 1930s: Natalia, a pretty shop-girl from the working-class quarter of Gracia, is hesitant when a stranger asks her to dance at the fiesta in Diamond Square. But Joe is charming and forceful, and she takes his hand.

They marry and soon have two children; for Natalia it is an awakening, both good and bad. When Joe decides to breed pigeons, the birds delight his son and daughter – and infuriate his wife. Then the Spanish Civil War erupts, and lays waste to the city and to their simple existence. Natalia remains in Barcelona, struggling to feed her family, while Joe goes to fight the fascists, and one by one his beloved birds fly away.

A highly acclaimed classic that has been translated into more than twenty languages, In Diamond Square is the moving, vivid and powerful story of a woman caught up in a convulsive period of history.

* * * * *

Contemporary Fiction

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton

Courtesy of HarperCollins. HarperCollins occasionally send me a little batch of books – some of them have been great, but sometimes they don’t much appeal. This is one of the “doesn’t much appeal” ones, but I’ll give it a try. Maybe it’ll surprise me! (It’s quite possibly the blurb that’s putting me off – someone needs to tell blurb-writers that it’s OK to write in sentences and paragraphs…)

The Blurb says: Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a secret.
I only took my eyes off him for a second.
One little mistake is all it takes . . .

When Sarah forgets to check on her best friend’s little boy, distraction turns to disaster. And she’s faced with a dilemma.

Tell the truth, lose a friend.
Tell a lie, keep her close.

In a split second, Sarah seals her fate. But accidents have aftershocks, and lies have consequences. And when it’s someone else’s child, the rumours are quick to multiply.

Everyone’s talking about what happened. And sooner or later, the truth will have to come spilling out…

* * * * *

Christie on Audio

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie read by Kenneth Branagh

Just for a change, I thought I’d try Branagh’s narration rather than my usual favourite for Poirot books, Hugh Fraser. This is one of my top favourite Christies, so he’d better do it well, or else!! 😉

The Blurb says: The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

56 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 269…

  1. I’m very interested in In Diamond Square and will also watch your review of The Splendid and the Vile to see if it entices me. However, not drawn so much by The Fallout. I hope there is some good reading for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I fear The Fallout got thrown on the abandoned heap last night after only about 50 pages – not for me! I’m just starting bot The Splendid and the Vile and In Diamond Square today, so fingers crossed for both of them… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t stop watching that gif! 😲🤣

    Anyway! The Fallout sounds like about 97% of the other psychological thrillers that are out there. It’s becoming increasingly hard to stand out in that genre. Tempted by Agatha Christie though. I do quite like Kenneth. Hm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always assume the people in these accidents must have been fine or their relatives wouldn’t have been so mean as to turn them into gifs, but who knows..?? 😉

      Haha, The Fallout and I fell out after only 50 pages, and it’s now lying on top of the abandoned heap! I’m sure I’ve read that very plot at least ten times. I’m hoping Branagh is as good as Hugh Fraser – if not, he’ll be joining The Fallout… 😈

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I know! I’m sure he was probably fine… otherwise his grieving relatives surely wouldn’t have turned him into a gif… would they??

      I’m intrigued to see of Branagh works as well for me as Hugh Fraser – he’ll have to work hard!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t realise Kenneth Branagh had made some Poirot recordings, I might try a sample of the audiobook out of curiosity. Alarm bells are ringing about the Splended and the Vile and the Fallout, I can’t see either of them being the best fit for you, but maybe we’ll both be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think he’s just done the two of the movies he’s played Poirot in – this and Murder on the Orient Express. He’ll have to work hard to match Hugh Fraser for me, but I do like him as an actor usually so fingers crossed! Haha, The Fallout got thrown on the abandoned heap last night after only about 50 pages, so your alarm bells were right about that one! Just starting The Splendid and the Vile…


  4. Cold Comfort Farm does sound good, FictionFan, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. I can see how it won the People’s Choice this time. And in my view, you can’t go wrong with Christie, so listening to one of her stories should be great. I know you like Larson’s work, so I’ll also be interested in what you think of that one. But for right now, I say you should celebrate that dramatic plunge in your TBR. Reward yourself with a piece of cake!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It won by a good margin in the end, so I’ll have plenty of People to blame if it all goes horribly wrong… 😉 I’m looking forward to seeing how Branagh gets on with the Christie, especially since I can’t bring myself to watch him as Poirot in the films! I’m just starting the Larson, so fingers crossed for that one. And I’m sure the TBR will keep falling… 😱

      Liked by 3 people

    • Haha, I fear the book of The Fallout is just as painful as the blurb and ended up on the abandoned heap in record time! Unfair of me really – it might be quite good, but not for me. Looking forward to CCF – it won by a good margin in the end! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Always tempted by Agatha Christie’s books though I’ve read most of them (including this one). I saw a great documentary on her life on YouTube the other day (ITV.Perspectives.2013.The.Mystery.of.Agatha.Christie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUmbf2fMF5M ). Erik Larson’s book also looks great. Haven’t read that one.
    I loved Cold Comfort Farm so I really hope you enjoy it (though I am keeping my expectations on simmer, rather than on high boil, in case you don’t.
    Absolutely no interest in The Fallout. Agree with noveldeelights’s assessment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That documentary looks great – I clicked on meaning to just save it for later and ended up hooked! I shall enjoy the rest once I finish answering comments – thanks for the link! 😀 I’ve just started the Larson book so too early to say yet, but I do usually enjoy his books. Haha, The Fallout and I fell out after only 50 pages last night and it’s now on the abandoned heap, I fear! Hopefully Cold Comfort Farm will fare better… 😉


    • I’m finding that now my book slump seems to be finally over, I’m craving proper pages rather than audios again too, but hopefully Branagh will keep me entertained! Feeling good about the TBR – this is definitely the year I’ll beat it! 😉 😱

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve had two friends read The Splendid and the Vile in recent months. Both said it was very good, but not a quick or easy read. I loved The Devil in the White City and also enjoyed Isaac’s Storm, so I have this one tagged at the library, along with a couple of his others. I’ll be curious to get your take on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I don’t remember you using the word “crackers” when you were persuading me to add it to my wishlist, where it still is! 😂 I’ll be starting In Diamond Square tonight, so fingers crossed. And CCF won by quite a margin in the end, so there will be plenty of People I can hold responsible if it all goes horribly wrong… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cold Comfort Farm got lots of votes, so I’m hoping that’s a good omen! (Though the People and I don’t always agree… 😉 ) I’m looking forward to the Branagh audio – it’ll be fun to hear how he interprets all the characters! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read a book for a class many years ago, while I was getting my MFA….wow, almost 20 years ago! Anyway, it was about a woman who’s supposed to be watching a friend’s child and the child drowns in the pond on their property. It was called A Map of the World (1999) by Jane Hamilton. I recall it being a tough read that was well-written. Not sure how this new book will add to that one, except it sounds like the woman at fault in this new book wants to avoid blame for the accident by lying about it. Hm….Anyway, I gave my husband the Erik Larson one for Christmas, so I’d pick that one, because I thought Devil in the White City was well-written (and pretty horrifying).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I fear the plot sounds well-worn – wasn’t there a Liane Moriarty just a couple of years ago with a similar plot? The Fallout and I have already fallen out and it’s now on the abandoned heap, I fear! 😉 I loved The Devil in the White City and also his book about the sinking of the Lusitania, so I have high hopes for The Splendid and the Vile, despite the rather soapy sounding blurb…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I will be interested in your thoughts on The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. My husband read that and liked it, so I can read his copy. But I would like another opinion. Also In Diamond Square should be interesting.

    I am currently working on reading the Hercule Poirot books that I haven’t read yet (about 10 of them). Death on the Nile is one of my favorites too, but I have a lot of favorites from that series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Agatha Christie and listening to the audio versions is giving them a new lease of life for me since I know so many of the plots so well. I’ve just started The Splendid and the Vile, so too early to form an opinion yet, but I usually love his books. And I’m hoping In Diamond Square is as good as it sounds… 😀


  9. This is a very nice selection of books!

    The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson sounds like a really interesting book, I am looking forward to your review for it.

    I haven’t heard of In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda, but I would have checked it a few months ago, when I was reading on the Spanish Civil War.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, mostly good ones this week, I hope! I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed some of Erik Larson’s earlier books, so I have high hopes for The Splendid and the Vile even if the blurb does make it sound a bit like a soap! I know nothing about In Diamond Square except it turned up on lists of fiction about the SCW, so it’ll be an adventure – fingers crossed! I should be starting it tonight… 😀


  10. You know I loved CCF, and I can’t wait to see what you think about it. It’s wickedly funny in spots so I think you’ll enjoy it. (Hopefully?!)

    I bought Death on the Nile recently and hope to start it soon-ish. It’s one I’ve never read!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t mean to put you off, but Kenneth Branagh reading Poirot was a huge disappointment. And I am not saying this, just because I adore Hugh Fraser reading Poirot. He actually made Poirot sound rather dull and not at all as I imagine him. Grrr. However, even a suboptimal narrator can’t spoil Death on the Nile. It is such a splendid story. Fun fact: The first time I read it was actually on a Nile Cruise. We had discussed which books to bring between us and my friend bought me Death on the Nile (nobody died on our cruise, very boring and anti Christie… 😉). The Erik Larson book sounds good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm, I started Death on the Nile last night and already Mr Branagh is failing to impress me – his character voices aren’t at all right for the roles, and he keeps forgetting to use them too! Oh, well, it’s not unlistenable so I shall persevere. Ah, lucky you! I used to dream of doing a Nile cruise one day, but sadly never did. Probably just as well, since the heat would doubtless have killed me! 😉 So far the Larson book is good but again I’ve only just started it, so too early to recommend or not…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. UGHHHH The Fallout looks like something I would dread reading, for various reasons. It seems overly familiar and obvious already, no wonder you don’t want to read it. Now, Cold Comfort Farm, that sounds appealing, especially because it’s funny! Can’t wait to see your review of that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not at all sure about Cold Comfort Farm, but that’s why the People’s Choice is good – it stops me keeping shoving these books further back on the shelf! And maybe I’ll love it! So far The Splendid and the Vile is going well, but I’m still only a tiny bit in so we’ll see… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, it’s terrifying, isn’t it? I always assume that the person must have been alright, or surely there family or friends wouldn’t have turned it into a gif… but you never know! 😉 I’ve started The Splendid and the Vile and it’s going very well so far…

      Liked by 1 person

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