TBR Thursday 273…

Episode 273

I can barely bring myself to report on the TBR this week. After achieving a Zen-like state of perfect balance over the last few weeks, a fit of NetGalley madness overcame me and *takes deep breath* it’s gone up by 7 to 197! Why couldn’t they have rejected all my requests? Why?? WHY???

Here are a few more that will make a tiny dent in the heap soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Well, that was the closest race ever! A Meditation on Murder leapt into such a big early lead it looked as if it was going to be untouchable, but gradually, very gradually, The Cuckoo’s Calling began to gain on it, until at last they were neck-and-neck. For a day or so I thought I would have to use my casting vote for the first time ever, but at the last moment a sudden vote gave the victory to Galbraith! The People Have Spoken! This will be a May read…

The Blurb says: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.


Franco: A Personal and Political Biography by Stanley G Payne and Jesús Palacios

Next up for my Spanish Civil War challenge. I was very impressed by Payne’s history of the war, so was delighted to see that he had also written a full biography of Franco, and promptly bought it. Since then I’ve looked up the co-author, Jesús Palacios, on wikipedia, and it would appear he has been involved in fascist and neo-Nazi organisations, so my enthusiasm is severely dented! However, the blurb claims the book is ‘objective and balanced’ – we shall see!

The Blurb says: General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly forty years, as one of the most powerful and controversial leaders in that nation’s long history. He has been the subject of many biographies, several of them more than a thousand pages in length, but all the preceding works have tended toward one extreme of interpretation or the other. This is the first comprehensive scholarly biography of Franco in English that is objective and balanced in its coverage, treating all three major aspects of his life—personal, military, and political. The co-authors, both renowned historians of Spain, present a deeply researched account that has made extensive use of the Franco Archive (long inaccessible to historians). They have also conducted in-depth interviews with his only daughter to explain better his family background, personal life, and marital environment, as well as his military and political career.

Franco: A Personal and Political Biography depicts his early life, explains his career and rise to prominence as an army officer who became Europe’s youngest interwar brigadier general in 1926, and then discusses his role in the affairs of the troubled Second Spanish Republic (1931–36). Stanley G. Payne and Jesús Palacios examine in detail how Franco became dictator and how his leadership led to victory in the Spanish Civil War that consolidated his regime. They also explore Franco’s role in the great repression that accompanied the Civil War—resulting in tens of thousands of executions—and examine at length his controversial role in World War II. This masterful biography highlights Franco’s metamorphoses and adaptations to retain power as politics, culture, and economics shifted in the four decades of his dictatorship.

* * * * *

Historical Fiction

The Manningtree Witches by AK Blakemore

Courtesy of Granta Books via NetGalley. I know nothing about the author and haven’t seen any reviews of the book – I was simply attracted by the blurb. It feels like it’s been a while since I took a blind punt on a book – fingers crossed! 

The Blurb says: England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow.

In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers – the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge.

The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust and betrayal ran amok as the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women went undefended. It is a visceral, thrilling book that announces a bold new talent.

* * * * *


The Last Trial by Scott Turow

Courtesy of Pan Macmillan via NetGalley. Scott Turow has long been a favourite author of mine and in this one he’s back in his usual stamping ground of Kindle County. Despite it being described as an “explosive thriller”, his books are usually long, slow and thoughtful, as much literary fiction as legal thriller, and I suspect this one will be too…

The Blurb says: In this explosive legal thriller from New York Times bestselling author Scott Turow, two formidable men collide: a celebrated criminal defense lawyer at the end of his career and his lifelong friend, a renowned doctor accused of murder.

At 85 years old, Alejandro “Sandy” Stern, a brilliant defense lawyer with his health failing but spirit intact, is on the brink of retirement. But when his old friend Dr. Kiril Pafko, a former Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, is faced with charges of insider trading, fraud, and murder, his entire life’s work is put in jeopardy, and Stern decides to take on one last trial.

In a case that will provide the defining coda to both men’s accomplished lives, Stern probes beneath the surface of his friend’s dazzling veneer as a distinguished cancer researcher. As the trial progresses, Stern will question everything he thought he knew about his friend. Despite Pafko’s many failings, is he innocent of the terrible charges laid against him? How far will Stern go to save his friend, and–no matter the trial’s outcome–will he ever know the truth? Stern’s duty to defend his client and his belief in the power of the judicial system both face a final, terrible test in the courtroom, where the evidence and reality are sometimes worlds apart.

Full of the deep insights into the spaces where the fragility of human nature and the justice system collide, Scott Turow’s The Last Trial is a masterful legal thriller that unfolds in page-turning suspense–and questions how we measure a life.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

45 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 273…

  1. If you ask me, FictionFan, it’s a nefarious plot by the Netgalley people! They’re responsible, I tell you! As to your books this week, I’m really interested to see that The Last Trial is on your list. I think that Turow writes an excellent legal novel. I don’t know if you’ve read Presumed Innocent and/or Innocent, but if you haven’t, those are the earlier novels in his Kindle County stories. I’ll be keen to know what you think of that one. The Franco biography looks interesting, too; most world leaders have been more complicated than it seems on the surface, and I hope this biography gives some insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know!! How could they do it? They surely have a responsibility to cut off supplies once they see someone has an addiction problem!! 😉 I think I’ve read most of the Kindle County books over the years – may have missed one or two in the middle. It’s another series I’d like to re-read from the beginning one of these days, but again the books are so long! The Franco one should be good, so long as it’s not too biased towards the far-right – my tolerance for neo-Nazis is pretty low… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh well, look on the bright side…you’re still under 200 😂

    I’ll be interested to read your thoughts on The Cuckoo’s Calling. Perhaps the first one isn’t as long as the one I tried.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It will be interesting to see how you get on with Galbraith, I have not read any of the books, but have seen bits and pieces of the tv adaptations, and have not completely ruled out a try at the first book sometime. I’ve not read any Turow before either, but the Last Trial looks potentially interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do think The Cuckoo’s Calling could be very good, but the sheer length of her books always put me off a bit – we’ll see! I love Scott Turow, and with my usual inconsistency immediately have to say they also tend to be extremely long! The first one was Presumed Innocent which was turned into a huge movie hit, with Harrison Ford, many years ago.


  4. I hope Franco is good because so far your reading for Spanish Civil War hasn’t let you down, has it? Ignore the 7, it’s February all this lockdown stuff and as Cathy says you’re still under 200!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Up by 7?? Oh, dear. Hard to keep resisting temptation, isn’t it — and now, you’ve gone and tempted us, too! I’m delighted to hear the book I voted for won and that you’ll be tackling it in May. I think this might be the first time I’ve been on the winning side! The Turow is calling me among this group!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many books coming out on May 27th for some reason! And I couldn’t resist… 😀 I’m looking forward to The Cuckoo’s Calling – it’s only been the length of it that’s out me off, so I’m glad you all forced me to finally read it! The Turow should be good – I usually love his books.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooooo …The Manningtree Witches sounds wonderful! I will wait and see what you think before adding it to any lists or piles. I’m glad the Galbraith won since I’m curious to know if you felt about it the same way as I did. It’s been decades since I read any Scott Turow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does sound good, doesn’t it? It’s been a while since I read a debut novel on the basis of blurb alone, so I’m hoping it’ll be a great discovery! Haha, that a very ambiguous sentence – I’m looking forward to it, except for the length. She’ll have to do well to justify that to me. having said which, Turow’s books are always long too, and I love them… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This might be a record jump, at least as I can recall? Now I don’t feel so bad about the 7 library holds sitting on my desk at the moment, waiting to be checked out, when I have about 10 books at home with swiftly expiring due dates, ha ha! Now I know you’re only human, FF. 😉 Thank goodness, you didn’t tempt me this week. I don’t need to add any more books at the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, yes, I think it is a record for me since I started doing these posts! But you’re numbers immediately make me feel better… 😉 Blog temptations are very hard to resist – they should be banned! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m feeling the need to escape the present day and delve into the sordid past of someone else’s country. But that cover feels very blah. Hope the writing is better, considering they’re touted as a “bold, new talent.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • The cover is pretty awful, isn’t it? Maybe it’s a temporary one – sometimes the covers on NetGalley aren’t final. It’s been a while since I took a punt on a debut novel, so hopefully it will be a wonderful discovery… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Haha, that is why I don’t sign up to Netgalley – I know my own limitations! 😁 Oh, The Cuckoo’s Calling won? I didn’t expect it to. Hope you won’t be too mad at me (and the other who voted) if you end up hating it.😬

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, most of the time I can resist temptation but I’m trying to read more new releases this year after being stuck in a vintage and classics rut for most of last year, so I was weak! If I hate The Cuckoo’s Calling, I shall blame myself for putting it on my TBR in the first place… but maybe I’ll love it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Franco’s biography is really good. I read half, then stopped because it covered the period after the war. I will continue with that period after I will have my Spanish civil war exam, as I don’t want to be tempted to write something about his after the war. For me, this is much better than Preston’s book, it has a lovely flow and it’s very interesting too.
    I’m not put off (didn’t know before though) by one of the authors being involved in a far-right organisation, some of them have far-left tendencies, which is just as bad. I didn’t notice right-wing bias in the book. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

    The Manningtree Witches sounds interesting, I am very curious on your take on the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to know that it doesn’t come over as horribly biased to the right. I agree the left-wing bias is just as annoying, and there’s more of it when it comes to the SCW. I’ve looked at Preston’s books and will probably read at least one of them, but his clear bias definitely puts me off. I should get to Franco soon, so fingers crossed!

      I’m looking forward to The Manningtree Witches – it’s been a while since I took a chance on a debut novel so I hope it turns out to be great and I can give it a glowing review!


  11. I’m not bothered at all by stuffed bookcases – yours that is, not mine 😁
    While it’s very unlikely I will read the book, I am looking forward to your review of Franco. I recently read a milder young adult book, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I am interested in The Manningtree Witches and could well be tempted. Legal thrillers aren’t usually my thing, but there are some real points of interest in Turow’s story, so once I again I await your review with interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, that’s so cruel! 😀

      I’m hoping Franco is good, and not too biased. I’m not too fond of neo-Nazis for some reason… 😉 The Manningtree Witches sounds good and it’s been a while since I took a chance on a debut novel – hope I can give it a glowing review! The Turow books are usually excellent and I would think might work well for you – they’re as much about “the human condition” as they ever are about crime, and I really think of them more as lit-fic than thrillers.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. So the Mannington Tree Witches sounds an awful lot like The Mercies, mainly, it’s a community of women and all the men are gone, and then a religious male figure comes and soddenly all the women are accused of being witches. I don’t think you ended up reading the Mercies FF but it may sound familiar to you too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, what drives me crazy is that publishers seem to publish all the good books on the same day! Nearly every one I asked for comes out on May 27th – how am I supposed to schedule my reading for that?? 😉


  13. 😱 Seven! Is that an all-time high in a TBR boost? Surely that’s a record right there.

    I can relax now, knowing that the book I chose for People’s Choice didn’t win, though I admit to being curious about J.K.’s mystery series. Haven’t read it myself. Looking forward to your review.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes, I think that must be the highest ever! I’m still shocked! 😉

      I was sure A Meditation on Murder was going to win right up to the last moment. Do you think JK herself popped by and voted? 😀


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