TBR Thursday 286…

Episode 286

Goodness, I appear to have turned into a reading machine over the last few weeks! Could this be an unexpected side-effect of the vaccine? If so, much more useful than becoming magnetic, for sure! (I imagine magnetic humans would be very bad for Kindles…) Maybe Bill Gates really has microchipped my brain – thanks, Bill! Anyway, the result of all this reading means that the TBR has dropped by… wait for it… wait for it… SIX to 194! And that despite NetGalley approving me for a couple! Of course, this means I have a million reviews to write – every silver lining has a cloud…

rain gif

The other result is that I can’t say my usual “Here are some I should get to soon” since I’ve already read one of these and started two of the others. I either need to do more TBR posts or read less! The two middle ones are from my fast and furious 20 Books of Summer

American Classic

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

My AntoniaOne from my Classics Club list, this was originally recommended to me as a possible Great American Novel contender (sorry, can’t remember who recommended it). So my expectations are high…

The Blurb says: My Ántonia (1918) depicts the pioneering period of European settlement on the tall-grass prairie of the American midwest, with its beautiful yet terrifying landscape, rich ethnic mix of immigrants and native-born Americans, and communities who share life’s joys and sorrows. Jim Burden recounts his memories of Ántonia Shimerda, whose family settle in Nebraska from Bohemia. Together they share childhoods spent in a new world. Jim leaves the prairie for college and a career in the east, while Ántonia devotes herself to her large family and productive farm. Her story is that of the land itself, a moving portrait of endurance and strength.

Described on publication as ‘one of the best [novels] that any American has ever done’, My Ántonia paradoxically took Cather out of the rank of provincial novelists as the same time that it celebrated the provinces, and mythologized a period of American history that had to be lost before its value could be understood.

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Vintage Crime

Due to a Death by Mary Kelly

Due to a DeathCourtesy of the British Library. I’ve loved the two previous books from this author that the BL has published, The Spoilt Kill and The Christmas Egg, so I have very high hopes for this one…

The Blurb says: A car speeds down a road between miles of marshes and estuary flats, its passenger a young woman named Agnes – hands bloodied, numbed with fear, her world turned upside down. Meanwhile, the news of a girl found dead on the marsh is spreading round the local area. A masterpiece of suspense, Mary Kellys 1964 novel follows Agnes as she casts her mind back through the past few days to find the links between her husband, his friends, a mysterious stranger new to the village and a case of bloody murder.

Complex and thoroughly affecting, Due to a Death was nominated for the Gold Dagger Award and showcases the author’s versatility and remarkable skill for characterization and dialogue.

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Crime

The Goodbye Man by Jeffery Deaver

The Goodbye ManCourtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley. This is the middle book in Deaver’s new trilogy about modern-day bounty hunter Colter Shaw, and both this and the third book are on my 20 Books of Summer list. I enjoyed the first one, The Never Game, which had a standalone story as well as the running story in the background, so I’m hoping the other two will be just as good…

The Blurb says: In pursuit of two young men accused of terrible hate crimes, Colter Shaw stumbles upon a clue to another mystery. In an effort to save the life of a young woman–and possibly others–he travels to the wilderness of Washington State to investigate a mysterious organization. Is it a community that consoles the bereaved? Or a dangerous cult under the sway of a captivating leader? As he peels back the layers of truth, Shaw finds that some people will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden.

All the while, Shaw must unravel an equally deadly enigma: locating and deciphering a message hidden by his father years ago, just before his death–a message that will have life-and-death consequences.

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Vintage Crime on Audio

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes read by Samuel L Jackson

A Rage in HarlemWhen I read the first mystery novel written by a Black American recently, The Conjure-Man Dies, the intro informed me that there were no others for over two decades, until Chester Himes came along. So I looked him up and discovered that Penguin Audio have just released the first one in his Harlem series, read by Samuel L Jackson – doesn’t that sound utterly irresistible? So obviously, I failed to resist…  

The Blurb says: A dark and witty work of hardboiled detective fiction set in the mean streets of New York, Chester Himes’s A Rage in Harlem includes an introduction by Luc Sante in Penguin Modern Classics.

Jackson’s woman has found him a foolproof way to make money – a technique for turning 10 dollar bills into hundreds. But when the scheme somehow fails, Jackson is left broke, wanted by the police and desperately racing to get back both his money and his loving Imabelle. The first of Chester Himes’s novels to feature the hardboiled Harlem detectives ‘Coffin’ Ed Johnson and ‘Grave Digger’ Jones, A Rage in Harlem has swagger, brutal humour, lurid violence, a hearse loaded with gold and a conman dressed as a Sister of Mercy. 

Chester Himes (1909-1984) was born in Jefferson City, Missouri and grew up in Cleveland. Aged 19, he was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 20 to 25 years in jail. In jail he began to write short stories, some of which were published in Esquire. Upon release he took a variety of jobs from working in a California shipyard to journalism to script-writing while continuing to write fiction. He later moved to Paris where he was commissioned by La Série Noire to write the first of his Harlem detective novels, A Rage in Harlem, which won the 1957 Grand Prix du Roman Policier, and was adapted into a 1991 film starring Forest Whitaker and Danny Glover.

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

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

58 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 286…

  1. I loved O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (mostly – the end was a bit weird) and have My Antonia on my shelf, so I shall enjoy reading your review. Both the vintage crime novels sound great, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never read anything by her before so it will be a new adventure! I’ve only read the first few pages so far, but I’m enjoying her writing style. It’s all these vintage novels that are making me get through so many books at the moment – they’re delightfully short! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m still slowly working my way through the Shardlakes, Christies and Reginald Hills, but I’m trying to pick some random ones too, usually based on the narrator. Haha, I’m determined never to go back over 200 again… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know! I don’t know what’s happened! Either I’ve speeded up or time has slowed down… 👽 I’ve only read the first few pages of My Antonia so far, but I’m enjoying her writing style…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have My Antonia on the TBR and keep meaning to get to it as it’s a friend’s favourite – I’ll look forward to hearing what you make of it. The Himes audiobook does sound irresistible! The less said about that drop in the TBR the better 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only read the first few pages of My Antonia so far, but I’m enjoying her writing style, so fingers crossed! The Himes is also going well though again I’ve just started it. Haha – I don’t know what’s happened – I seem to be making up for last year’s slump!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done for reading a lot. In the last two months I didn’t reach 10 books/month, hopefully this month will be better.
    I hope you’ll enjoy the books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Ten books a month is usually my maximum! I’m a surprisingly slow reader – I just read for a lot of hours so it makes it seem as if I get through books quite quickly. When I was working I’d have been lucky to read more than a book a week.

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  4. This is an interesting selection for me. I like the idea of My Ántonia’s setting in pioneering midwest landscapes and told from a woman’s perspective. It shouldn’t be too long before I pick up a Mary Kelly book already on my list, and I think it’s very likely I’ll be interested in A Rage in Harlem after I’ve read (listened to) Conjure-Man. Hopefully they are all satisfying reads for you!

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    • I’ve only just started My Antonia, but I’m enjoying her writing style, so fingers crossed. I’ve finished the Mary Kelly and have very mixed feelings about it – I thought it was brilliantly written again, but I found the story very bleak – too bleak. I enjoyed the other two far more, even though I think this is just as good, if you know what I mean. I’ll struggle with my review and rating! Again just started A Rage in Harlem but it’s sounding good so far!

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  5. That must be your biggest drop yet, the days of the reading slump seem far behind you now. My Antonia is a possibility for me, but as others have said, I may wait to read your review before making a decision on it. I’ve never heard of Chester Himes, and so-called Hardboiled Detectives aren’t usually my favorite, but I am curious enough to have a listen to the book, especially if read by Samuel L. Jackson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I know – I don’t know what’s happened to me! I think I must be making up for lost time! I’ve only read a few pages of My Antonia so far, but I’m enjoying her writing style, so fingers crossed. And again I’ve just started the Himes, and it’s actually more comedy than hardboiled at the moment, almost farce – so far, so good, but we’ll see!

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  6. I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am with the dramatic plunge in your TBR, FictionFan! Clearly you’ve done something to foil whatever feline scheme there was to add to your list! I am in awe! I say this calls for an extra piece of cake, at least. I am interested in what you think of the Cather, FictionFan. That’s one of those books that I’ve never take the time to read. I should. Your crime novels do look good, too, the Kelly especially. I’ll be looking forward to your reviews of both of these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, me too, even if I can’t work out what’s happened to me!! The cats are probably too busy enjoying the rare good weather to spend time on my computer… 😉 I’ve just started My Antonia so too early to say, but I’m enjoying her writing style so far. My summer of crime has been fun so far – nothing says summer quite like a couple of dead bodies and an evil psychopath or two…

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  7. Due to a Death sounds fabulous! I hope you get to that one soon. That vintage crime sounds alot like a modern day suspense, but because there are no women on the cover in red I’ve got higher hopes for it…

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    • I’ve actually finished Due to a Death. Mixed feelings about it, tbh – it’s very bleak. But it’s definitely at the modern end of vintage – only just scrapes in, I’d say, so you’re right that it has a more contemporary feel

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, me too – and amazed! 😉 I’ve just started My Antonia so too early to say, but so far I’m enjoying her writing style so I’m hopeful! The Himes is turning out to actually be as much comedy as hardboiled – quite fun so far, but again early days!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve never read anything by Willa Cather and had someone highly recommend My Antonia not long ago. I tagged it in my library app, so maybe once you review it I’ll be inspired to read it myself.

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    • I’ve only read a few pages so far, but I’m enjoying her writing style, so fingers crossed! My knowledge of the US is pretty dire, but it’s in Nebraska – all prairies and so on – and I wondered if that’s kind of similar to where you are? She’s very good at describing the landscape and nature.

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  9. Impressive reading run! So yes, you now need to have an impressive reviewing run. I recall reading My Antonia when I was way to young to appreciate it. Of course it was assigned in school, and I was a year younger and far more immature than most in my class. I think I need to read it again. Will be interested to hear your take on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes, that’s the problem with reading lots of shorter, faster books – more reviews! I wish I could learn how to write short, fast reviews. 😉 As always, I feel they ask people to read classics at too early an age – it can put people off certain books or authors for life. I’ve only just started My Antonia but it’s going well so far – fingers crossed!

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  10. Oh dear. Now I’m starting to feel guilty over not reading My Antonia. So many classics this English major somehow managed to dodge. Hm, what does that say for my education? Probably ought to remedy that by going back and reading everything I should have trudged through when I was in school. Or maybe not, ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are far too many classics in the world – that’s the problem! I feel I’ve been reading classics all my life and yet I’ve barely scratched the surface. Writing books should be banned till we all catch up… 😉

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    • If they’ve managed to turn us into a nation of voracious readers with this vaccination, then I’m all for that conspiracy theory! 😉 I’ve just started My Antonia so too early to judge yet but I like her writing style very much so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Uh oh. Time to hit a few bookshops before you run out of reading material. Well you can’t go wrong with Samuel Jackson reading Chester B. Himes. From what I’ve seen the Mary Kelly sounds rather different from much of the BLCC list, and quite interesting. My Ántonia and Willa Cather are favorites because of her writing and the perspective she brings to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, no! Don’t tempt me!! 😉 The Chester Himes is a lot of fun so far but I’m not far into it yet. Same goes with My Antonia – too early to fully judge but I’m enjoying her writing style so far. The Mary Kelly was very different, and very bleak. I’ll have to let it settle for a day or two before I decide what I thought of it…

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  12. My Antonia, A Race in Harlem and Due to a Death – I’ve heard so much about Willa Cather that I must put one on my next classics list so I’m looking forward to your review (to see if it’s this one!). I always seem to be getting caught out with blogging, I can either read or blog but not both (or not for long anyway) so while I say ‘congratulations’ on your fierce reading I shudder at the thought of all the reviews you need to write. But something tells me you’re going to pull it off with aplomb!!

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    • Hahaha, I currently have a backlog of eight unwritten reviews, and that’s after some intensive review writing over the weekend! I’m tearing my hair out… 😀 I fear I abandoned A Rage in Harlem – I couldn’t understand the dialect in Samuel L Jackson’s narration, sadly. I may buy the paper copy some day – I think I’d cope better! Due to a Death is very well written, but extremely bleak – I’m struggling to decide on a rating for it, to be honest. And so far, My Antonia is going well, but I haven’t read much of it yet…

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      • I’m crossing those off my list then! 8!!!!! I used to always have 5 and then realised I didn’t actually have to write them all (unless they were for a challenge) which was a huge sigh of relief. Your reviews are always so well written and thoughtful, I really do appreciate the work you put in!

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        • Aw, thank you! Comes as quite a compliment from such an excellent reviewer as yourself! 😀 Yeah, I fear I’ve let a few slide this year. I usually try to review everything I read but I got so far behind at one point that I’d have had to re-read some of them to remember what I meant to say! So like you, if they didn’t fit a challenge or weren’t a review copy, the poor things were neglected. 😥

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