TBR Thursday 271…

Episode 271

Total balance on the TBR this week – two out, two in, so remaining steady on 190…

Here are a few more that should fall off the pile soon…

Vintage Science Fiction

The Society of Time by John Brunner

Courtesy of the British Library. I’ve read a few of the BL’s Science Fiction Classics series now and have found them consistently interesting, and always so far from authors completely unknown to me. This collection sounds intriguing…

The Blurb says: Drifting through a party celebrating 400 years since the Spanish Armada’s successful invasion of Britain, Don Miguel Navarro – Licentiate of the Society of Time – is shaken by the host’s possession of a flawless mask from an ancient Aztec festival. ‘Imported’ from the past, the discovery signals a breach in the Society’s policing of time-travel and imminent danger to reality itself. Today, a relic out of time; tomorrow, the rewriting of the course of history? In three ground-breaking novellas, John Brunner weaves an ingenious tale of diverging timelines and a battle for dominance over the fourth dimension.

The Society of Time stories were abridged when first collected. Here, the trilogy is reprinted in full along with two mesmerising standalone novellas: The Analysts and Father of Lies.

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Taken by Lisa Stone

Courtesy of HarperCollins. Another unsolicited review copy from HC, and another that I fear from the blurb may not be for me. But it has high ratings on Goodreads, and I live in hope! We’ll see… 

The Blurb says: Have you seen Leila?

8-year-old Leila Smith has seen and heard things that no child should ever have to. On the Hawthorn Estate, where she lives, she often stays out after dark to avoid going home. But what Leila doesn’t know is that someone has been watching her in the playground. One day, she disappears without a trace…

The police start a nationwide search but it’s as if Leila has vanished into thin air. Who kidnapped her? What do they want? Will she return home safely or is she lost forever?

A thriller with a difference!

* * * * *

Vintage Crime

The Corpse in the Waxworks by John Dickson Carr

Courtesy of the British Library again! Apparently there were only five books in Carr’s Bencolin series and this is the fourth the BL has published so far, so I’m hoping they’ll complete the set eventually. Back in Paris for this one, and it sounds as deliciously creepy as all the rest…

The Blurb says: Last night Mademoiselle Duchêne was seen heading into the Gallery of Horrors at the Musée Augustin waxworks, alive. Today she was found in the Seine, murdered. The museum’s proprietor, long perturbed by the unnatural vitality of his figures, claims that he saw one of them following the victim into the dark – a lead that Henri Bencolin, head of the Paris police and expert of ‘impossible’ crimes, cannot possibly resist.

Surrounded by the eerie noises of the night, Bencolin prepares to enter the ill-fated waxworks, his associate Jeff Marle and the victim’s fiancé in tow. Waiting within, beneath the glass-eyed gaze of a leering waxen satyr, is a gruesome discovery and the first clues of a twisted and ingenious mystery.

First published in 1932 at the height of crime fiction’s Golden Age, this macabre and atmospheric dive into the murky underground of Parisian society presents an intelligent puzzle delivered at a stunning pace. This new edition also includes The Murder in Number Four, a rare Inspector Bencolin short story.

* * * * *

Classic on Audio

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Let’s be honest – the idea of Alan Rickman reading to me in that wonderful voice of his is so delightful that the actual book is almost irrelevant. But happily the book sounds good too…

The Blurb says: Set on Egdon Heath, a fictional barren moor in Wessex, Eustacia Vye longs for the excitement of city life but is cut off from the world in her grandfather’s lonely cottage. Clym Yeobright who has returned to the area to become a schoolmaster seems to offer everything she dreams of: passion, excitement and the opportunity to escape. However, Clym’s ambitions are quite different from hers, and marriage only increases Eustacia’s destructive restlessness, drawing others into a tangled web of deceit and unhappiness. 

Considered a truly modern story due to its sexual politics and hindered desires it still holds relevance to audiences today. There is a tension between the symbolic setting of the heath and the modernity of the characters that makes the listener question our freedom to shape our lives as we wish. Are we always able to live our dreams?

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

53 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 271…

  1. The Carr and the Hardy are my favourites here and they will find their way onto my list, unless you find serious lapses, I think. I like the idea of having The Return of the Native read to me by a warm voiced Rickman too! I’ve just checked and the library and another platform I use (Scribd) offer three different narrators – but not Rickman 🙁

    Liked by 1 person

    • How disappointing! I’ll try not to glow too much about him in my review… 😉 For some reason I find Hardy really lends himself to audio – I listened to The Mayor of Casterbridge last year and loved it, but due to the slump never got around to reviewing it. It was narrated by Tony Britton, who I thought was great. I’m looking forward to The Corpse in the Waxworks. I was hoping the BL would publish it, since a lot of people reckon it’s the best of the Bencolin books.


  2. The line from Taken: a Thriller with a Difference sounds rather misleading, as I was just thinking it seems like yet another of these generic thrillers which seem to be doing the rounds just now. Many people seem to like them, and indeed I read a few such tales a few years ago, but then became fed up with the genre over all. I can’t see this one being much different, not wanting to put you off of course. Hardy and Rickman on the other hand sounds like a great combination, and I’ve yet to read the Return of the Native. I hope you enjoy it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, I couldn’t agree more! I also read several of these a few years ago and enjoyed them for a while, but they eventually all began to merge into one long misery-fest. That’s when I fell out of love with contemporary crime. But maybe I’ve left a long enough gap for it to feel fresh again… maybe! Or maybe it’ll be thrown on the abandoned heap very quickly. I’ve never read The Return of the Native before either, and Alan Rickman is a definite bonus!


  3. Glad to hear you’re staying in balance with the TBR, FictionFan. In these days of ‘stay at home’ and ‘limited contact,’ that’s a fait accompli. As I look through what you’ve got this week, I don’t think the Stone would be for me, either. But you’ve got a John Dickson Carr, and that appeals to me a lot. He did write some great stories. I’ll be interested in what you think of that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, reading is falling behind again, what with the tennis and the impeachment! I do wish you would all get into the same time zone as us – I don’t think I’ve slept since Monday… 😉 I’m really looking forward to the Carr. I was hoping the BL would reissue it, since I’ve seen people say it’s the best of the Bencolin books.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, sadly NetGalley just shoved me off the beam! 😉 I find Hardy works really well on audio for some reason, and Alan Rickman is a definite bonus! And I have high hopes for The Corpse in the Waxworks – even the title tingles my spine. 😀


  4. I guess I’m in the minority in that I’m not tempted by the Hardy book at all, despite the narrator. Now the other three all intrigue me. I’ve not seen that Sci-Fi before (meaning Amazon hasn’t tempted me with it based on my searches).

    Liked by 1 person

    • They never seem to recommend the sci-fi ones to me either – it must be their algorithms! I’m sure there have been loads I’ve missed – must trawl through the catalogue sometime. Though when would I find time to read them???

      Liked by 1 person

    • These Jon Dickson Carr books are always as much horror as crime which is what I love about them, but I can see they might not work so well for people who don’t like horror. Alan Rickman reading *anything* sounds appealing… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whew, I think I’m safe this week! Entirely too much in the way of distractions right now, and I fear my reading is suffering. But not as much as falling off that wretched balance beam would mean — we had one in gym class in high school, and it was nearly as bad as the Rack!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s good to know! I’m on a Hardy phase at the moment, so I have high hopes for it, and Alan Rickman is a major bonus! I still haven’t read any of the Gideon Fell books, but they’ll have to go some to match the Bencolin ones.


  6. I was deeply put off Hardy when I read Jude the Obscure a few years ago, and I’ve never summoned up the courage to read anything else by him. I’ll be interested to see what you say about The Return of the Native – maybe it will convince me to give him another go! The BL science fiction trilogy sounds very interesting – I have yet to actually read any of their SF classics despite the fact that so many of them seem to be up my street.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read Jude the Obscure, but I get the feeling it’s considered to be his bleakest – not that he’s ever particularly cheerful! I think I read somewhere that the reaction to Jude was so negative he actually gave up writing novels after that, though I don’t know if that’s true. But Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a wonderful novel if you’re ever tempted to try him again. I’ve read a few of the BL’s SF classics now, and they’re always a bit different to the better known SF novels – maybe a bit more philosophical?


  7. Yes I would find Rickman hard to resist too. The book isn’t quite up to the standard of Tess or Mayor of Casterbridge but is still really good and the opening scene which describes Egdon Heath is so cinematographic .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I shall bear that in mind – it would have been hard for him to have kept coming up with books as great as those two. I suspect Rickman’s voice will make up for any weaknesses though… 😀


  8. Judging from the gif, I would’t call it total balance. Precarious balance, perhaps?! 😉 Nothing tempts me this week, but I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the Hardy. I downloaded my first Hardy, Jude the Obscure, on sale a few days ago (these audiobook sales always remove all my willpower), but it may be a while before I get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, well, NetGalley came along and pushed me off the beam very quickly – I’m back to drowning in books! 😉 I haven’t read Jude the Obscure yet, but I believe it’s considered to be his bleakest, and he’s never what you’d call cheery! You have been warned… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Aw jeez, Taken is raising a bunch of red flags for me, especially because I think it was you who pointed out that women (or girls) on the front covers wearing red is way too overused at the moment-and this book seems to be ticking all those boxes! Heaven forbid there’s another unreliable narrator lurking in those pages…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, if there is then the book will be another for the abandoned heap! Yes, one of my favourite authors has a new book coming out and the cover is of a red umbrella – bit too much like the dreaded red raincoat for my liking… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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