TBR Thursday 280 – The People’s Choice…

Episode 280

(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! At last we’re moving into 2016, and I have far fewer books from that year than from 2015 – I must have been attempting to get hold of my ballooning TBR by this stage. However, there are plenty to take us through the next few People’s Choices. As usual, I’m planning three months ahead so the winner will be a July read. Most, but not all, of these still appeal to me, but I’ll keep my opinions to myself so as not to sway yours! I missed a few of Sharon Bolton’s early books and always intended to go back and read them, hence Blood Harvest. Half of a Yellow Sun is one of those books everyone seemed to be reading except me, and was added to my TBR as a result of all the glowing reviews. I’ve meant to try Barbara Vine’s books for centuries, and A Dark-Adapted Eye comes recommended as one of her best by the blogosphere’s resident crime expert, Margot Kinberg. And Grey Mask marks the first appearance of a vintage crime novel on The People’s Choice – this must have been the point where I finally snapped with contemporary crime and time travelled back to the Golden Age.

I’m intrigued to see which one you pick…

Crime

Blood Harvest by Sharon J Bolton

Blood HarvestAdded 2nd March 2016. 5,948 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.96 average rating. 576 pages.

The Blurb says: Psychologist Evi is worried about one of her patients – a woman who is convinced her little girl is still alive. Two years after the fire that burnt their house down.

Meanwhile, the new vicar in town is feeling strangely unwelcome. Disturbing events seem designed to scare him away.

And a young boy keeps seeing a strange, solitary girl playing in the churchyard. Who is she and what is she trying to tell him?

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Fiction

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow SunAdded 23rd March 2016. 115,829 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.31 average. 562 pages.

The Blurb says: Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

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Crime

A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine

A Dark-Adapted EyeAdded 23rd March 2016. 7,692 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.97 average. 304 pages. 

The Blurb says: Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award

Like most families they had their secrets . . .

And they hid them under a genteelly respectable veneer. No onlooker would guess that prim Vera Hillyard and her beautiful, adored younger sister, Eden, were locked in a dark and bitter combat over one of those secrets. England in the fifties was not kind to women who erred, so they had to use every means necessary to keep the truth hidden behind closed doors – even murder.

A Dark-Adapted Eye is modern classic. If you enjoy the crime novels of P.D. James, Ian Rankin and Scott Turow, you will love this book. Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell.

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Vintage Crime

Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth

Grey MaskAdded 1st April 2016. 4,620 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.71 average. 320 pages.

The Blurb says: Furious at being jilted at the altar by his once-fiancé Margaret Langton, Charles Moray left England behind him. Now, four years later, he returns to his family home, only to find it unlocked and with a light burning in one of its abandoned rooms.

Eavesdropping, Charles soon discovers that a criminal gang has been using his house to plan a vicious crime. The target is the beautiful Margot Standing, who is due to inherit a considerable fortune. And what’s more he recognises the voices of one of the conspirators – his lost love Margaret Langton.

How did Margaret come to be involved? And who is the terrifying masked man who has her in his thrall? Charles contacts Miss Silver to unravel the mysteries of the case and, if she can, save Margot Standing’s life.

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

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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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62 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 280 – The People’s Choice…

    • I think I read one or two of Wentworth’s books back when they were just a bit old rather than vintage! But I don’t remember much about them except a vague feeling that I quite enjoyed them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I chose Grey Mask, but I’m also curious about Half of a Yellow Sun – everyone else loves Adichie but I struggled immensely with Americanah, so I feel like I’m missing something and would be interested to hear what you make of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I abandoned Americanah half-way through – I thought it was just a ranty, whiny kind of book with no real story. But I already had Half of a Yellow Sun on my TBR, and loads of people say it’s very different in style, so we’ll see… if it wins, of course! Grey Mask sounds like fun… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From the blurb, I think you might actually like Half of a Yellow Sun. I’ve not read it myself, but have seen many positive reviews of it, and think the political stuff might appeal to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the political side of it that appeals to me, plus the Biafran War was the big story when I was a young child – too young to understand what it was about. I vividly remember the pictures of starving children though. So it would be good to learn more about it.

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  3. Now this bunch is exciting because I’ve actually read two of them! I was one of the few who didn’t appreciate Half of a Yellow Sun. I’m still tempted to read it again, to find out what I missed or to confirm that nope, I’m right. I’ve also read Grey Mask. I didn’t mind it but I’m told it’s not one of the best from the series featuring Miss Silver. So that left two. I wonder if reading an early Sharon Bolton when you’ve presumably enjoyed her later books might be a disappointment. So, with your best interests always at heart, FF, I’ve voted for the Vine. If Margot says it’s one of her best, that’s got to be worth a read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting – I was one of the few who didn’t appreciate Americanah! Half of a Yellow Sun does sound very different though, so I kinda hope it might work better for me, if it wins. I think I’ve read a couple of Miss Silver books long, long ago, but I don’t remember much about them except a general feeling that I quite enjoyed them, but not enough to hunt down more. The Bolton I don’t know about – I often love her, but sometimes simply don’t so it could go either way. Good choice with the Vine – I’d be very happy if it comes up, and Margot’s opinion is not to be sniffed at… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anca – I’ve voted on your behalf! I usually enjoy Sharon Bolton so will be quite happy if it wins. 😀 The People have been doing better recently – I’ve enjoyed some of the recent ones… 😉

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  4. I’ll try again with Half of a Yellow Sun, because I do love her writing generally, but I didn’t quite click with that one. So I voted for Barbara Vine – it deservedly is one of her best-known books.

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    • The only Adichie I’ve read is Americanah and I fear I abandoned it halfway through. But Half of a Yellow Sun sounds very different, so hopefully it would work better. But the Vine is an excellent choice – I’ll be very happy if it wins! 😀

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  5. Thank you for the kind mention, FictionFan! Whichever is the winner, I hope you’ll enjoy your read. You reminded me that I’ve wondered about Half of a Yellow Sun. If that’s your winner, I’ll be very much looking forward to your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, though it’s becoming quite obvious you are one of the conspirators trying to sabotage my TBR! 😀 It’s neck-and-neck between the Adichie and the Vine at the moment – I know which one I’d prefer to win, but I’ll keep schtum! All will be revealed next Thursday… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Any of these books could be of interest, I think. I’m always willing to give a Sharon Bolton book a chance. I’ve read a number of Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver series, but not this, the first one, for some reason (as I tend to read series in order). I find them comfortable, mannerly stories. I initially turned away from the Vine thinking I didn’t need to start another crime series, then I read the reviews and I’m definitely tempted. But for me Half of a Yellow Sun seems to be essential reading, so I’m recommending this for you too.

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    • I’ve loved several of Bolton’s books, liked others and abandoned a couple, so it could go either way. I’m pretty sure I read a couple of Miss Silver books long, long ago, but I don’t remember much about them other than a vague feeling that I quite enjoyed them. Half of a Yellow Sun could also go either way for me. I wasn’t taken with Americanah at all, but loads of people have told me Yellow Sun is very different in style, so I’ll be happy to try it if it wins. And the Vines get very highly recommended by several people whose opinions I can usually depend on. We’ll see what happens… 😀

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    • Good to know you recommend the Adichie – it’s neck-and-neck at the moment so could easily be the winner… or not! Grey Mask does sound like fun and I know a lot of people love the Miss Silver books… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, that happens to me all the time with these books that go through a phase of being everywhere – they seem to get into your subconscious even without reading them! It’s neck-and-neck at the moment, so it might win… or it might not… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The only one of those I’ve read is Half of a Yellow Sun, which I remember finding interesting, but I’m curious about the other three books too. I voted for Blood Harvest because it’s the only Sharon Bolton book I still haven’t read and in general I’ve preferred her earlier books to her more recent ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read a few of Bolton’s very earliest ones but I think I agree with you about her earlier books being better in general – I’ve been a little disappointed with some of her most recent ones. I’ll be quite happy if Blood Harvest wins! 😀

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    • I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of the Rendell books in the past but for some reason have never tried her Barbara Vine books despite them being so highly recommended by so many people I trust! It’s neck-and-neck at the moment, so it might win… or it might not! 😀

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    • These two are neck-and-neck for the top spot at the moment so it looks like I’ll definitely be reading one of them! I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Ruth Rendells too, although she never became a top favourite for me for some reason – I think it was actually that I didn’t like the casting in the old TV show, which I saw before I read the books, and couldn’t get them out of my head. So the Barbara Vine books appeal because they won’t have that problem!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I voted for Grey Mask because I loved that book and it is a good introduction to Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver books. Some people don’t like that series, but I am a fan. Her books are a comfort read for me.

    The first two novels I would not vote for due to length, but Half of a Yellow Sun does sound intriguing.

    I have not read A Dark-Adapted Eye because most of Ruth Rendell’s non series fiction (under either name) is way too tense for me. But if I were to try one again, it would be this one, because it won the Gold Dagger. And Margot knows best.

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    • I’m sure I read and enjoyed a couple of Miss Silver books way back in my youth (before vintage crime had become vintage 😉 ) so I’d be very happy to re-make her acquaintance! Haha, thank you for considering the length. My heart often sinks as I see the page count of these books – I’m sure that’s why they’ve lingered so long on my TBR. I like the sound of the Barbara Vine and indeed, Margot does know best! In fact, she’s a major reason for my TBR getting out of control in the first place… 😀

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    • I think there’s going to be lots of vintage crime showing up in these polls over the next few months – Grey Mask is the first of many! The only Adichie I’ve read is Americanah and I fear I abandoned it, but loads of people have assured me Half of a Yellow Sun is very different, so I’ll be happy to give her another go… 😀

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      • There seems to be something comforting about a lot of vintage crime. Not usually too gory and the problem is solved by the last page.

        Half of a Yellow Sun is quite different from Americanah in tone and content so hopefully you’ll find it a better fit. I wasn’t familiar with the Biafran War before I read the book but when I mentioned it to my dad he told me he remembered hearing about it when he was young. I think you are younger than him but perhaps the historical context will be more familiar to you too.

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        • Yes, most vintage crime stays well away from the harrowing side of things. Less credible maybe, but more entertaining!

          I do remember the Biafran War but I was very young and didn’t have a clue what it was about, or indeed where Biafra was, really! I vividly remember the pictures of starving children that were shown every night on the news though – I think it was the first big humanitarian disaster that really got world wide coverage in that visual way, so it had a huge impact on public awareness.

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  9. These all sound good, but I voted for the Barbara Vine. Having read many of Ruth Rendell’s novels, I can attest to the fact that she pens interesting stories, often with psychological murders and somewhat creepy characters. Best of luck scratching one more off your TBR!

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    • Good choice! I’ve read a couple of Ruth Rendell books and enjoyed them, though somehow I never settled into reading the whole series (too many books in the world!). But I’ve never tried her Barbara Vine books and they do always look interesting – I’ll be quite happy if it wins! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I voted for Half of a Yellow Sun and wonder if I had the casting vote? I wouldn’t be sad to see the Ruth Rendell win either. Do you know why she wrote under a different name?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, it appears to be neck-and-neck again. Random votes tend to float in until about Monday and I usually leave it open till Wednesday, so we’ll see. I believe the Rendell books are mostly police procedurals starring her long-running ‘tec, Inspector Wexford, whereas her Vine books are mostly stand-alone psychological thrillers. Lots of people seem to think the Vine books are actually better, so I’d be happy to find out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! But what do you do if there is a tie? I suppose you’ll have to read both of them? Or will you have the deciding vote? Anyway, as I said, I’d be happy with either one. Interesting to hear about Vine vs Rendell. I normally enjoy police procedure more than psychological thrillers, but I am intrigued to find out more.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. So I voted for Gray Mask, but because I can’t vote twice I also want to voice my support for Half of a Yellow Sun-I loved Americanah, and I’ve always wanted to get around to this book but will probably never have time-I will continue to live vicariously through your book choices!

    Liked by 1 person

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