TBR Thursday 288…

Episode 288

I’ve slowed down a little this week since the books I’m reading are longer ones, but two out, two in, means the TBR remains finely balanced on 194…

balance beam

Review-Alongers! We previously discussed reading Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray next. If you’re still up for it, I’m proposing a review date of Monday, October 25th. This long notice is partly to give everyone who’s interested time to acquire and read this very long book, but selfishly it’s also because I intend to listen to the 32-hour audiobook, which will take me months! Let me know below if you’re still interested and if that date works for you. New review-alongers always welcome! There’s only one “rule” – we all post our reviews on the same date, or for those who don’t blog (or don’t want to do a full review), you leave your thoughts in the comments section of my review.

* * * * *

Here are a few I should be getting to soon – the two middle ones are from my fast and furious 20 Books of Summer list. Too early for this month’s People’s Choice winner – it will be announced next week, so you still have time to vote! 

Historical Fiction

To Cook a Bear by Mikael Niemi

To Cook a BearCourtesy of Quercus via NetGalley. Another in my attempt to read more new fiction releases, a mission that is causing me to have severe abandonment issues. Happily this one sounds as if it might actually have a plot…

The Blurb says: It is 1852, and in Sweden’s far north, deep in the Arctic Circle, charismatic preacher and Revivalist Lars Levi Læstadius impassions a poverty-stricken congregation with visions of salvation. But local leaders have reason to resist a shift to temperance over alcohol.

Jussi, the young Sami boy Læstadius has rescued from destitution and abuse, becomes the preacher’s faithful disciple on long botanical treks to explore the flora and fauna. Læstadius also teaches him to read and write – and to love and fear God.

When a milkmaid goes missing deep in the forest, the locals suspect a predatory bear is at large. A second girl is attacked, and the sheriff is quick to offer a reward for the bear’s capture. Using early forensics and daguerreotype, Læstadius and Jussi find clues that point to a far worse killer on the loose, even as they are unaware of the evil closing in around them.

To Cook a Bear explores how communities turn inwards, how superstition can turn to violence, and how the power of language can be transformative in a richly fascinating mystery.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime

The Chianti Flask by Marie Belloc Lowndes

The Chianti FlaskCourtesy of the British Library. I loved The Lodger but haven’t got around to reading anything else from Marie Belloc Lowndes, so I was delighted to see her name pop up in the BL’s Classic Crime series. Since I abandoned one of my original 20 Books of Summer (Bullet Train), I’ve slotted this one into the vacancy…

The Blurb says: An enigmatic young woman named Laura Dousland stands on trial for murder, accused of poisoning her elderly husband Fordish. It seems clear that the poison was delivered in a flask of Chianti with supper, but according to the couple’s servant in the witness-box, the flask disappeared the night Fordish died and all attempts to trace it have come to nothing. The jury delivers its verdict, but this is just the end of the beginning of Marie Belloc Lowndes’ gripping story.

First published in 1934, this exquisitely crafted novel blends the tenets of a traditional mystery with an exploration of the psychological impact of death, accusation, guilt and justice in the aftermath of murder.

* * * * *


Scorpion by Christian Cantrell

ScorpionCourtesy of Penguin Michael Joseph via NetGalley. Although the blurb suggests this is a straight thriller, reviews suggest it’s as much science fiction. Sounds intriguing, though early reviews are distinctly mixed…

The Blurb says: Around the world, twenty-two people have been murdered. The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police around the globe floundering and unable to identify any pattern, let alone find a killer, CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell is called in to investigate.

Before long, Quinn is on the trail of an ice-hearted assassin with seemingly limitless resources – but she’s prepared for that.

What she isn’t prepared for is the person pulling the strings…

* * * * *

Christie on Audio

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie read by Hugh Fraser

Cat Among the PigeonsTime for another Christie re-read! Although this never makes my list of top favourite Christies, it’s well up in the second tier. It’s many years since I last read it, so I’m not sure if I’ll remember whodunit, or why…

The Blurb says: Late one night, two teachers investigate a mysterious flashing light in the sports pavilion, while the rest of the school sleeps. There, among the lacrosse sticks, they stumble upon the body of the unpopular games mistress, shot through the heart from point blank range.

The school is thrown into chaos when the “cat” strikes again. Unfortunately, schoolgirl Julia Upjohn knows too much. In particular, she knows that without Hercule Poirot’s help, she will be the next victim!

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

50 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 288…

  1. Yes, I’ll be reading Vanity Fair along with you! I loved it as a teenager and read my copy half to pieces, but I haven’t picked it up since then. (I hope it reads better as an adult than some of my other teenage favourites).

    Cat Among the Pigeons is actually one of my favourite Christies, despite the fact that I don’t think the plot hangs together particularly well – the setting and characterisation are done really well, and I loved that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh good! Welcome aboard! I loved it as a teenager or early twenty-something too, and I also loved the TV adaptation they made of it many years ago now, with Natasha Little giving a brilliant performance as Becky and a stellar cast. This time I’m going to try the audiobook, but I have a Kindle copy if I have to revert to reading halfway through. Should be fun! 😀

      I love the setting, and Julia (the schoolgirl)’s common-sensical approach to murder! But now that I’m halfway through it, I realise it’s because Poirot doesn’t appear till quite late on that stops it being a top favourite. For some reason I don’t mind that in the Miss Marple books, but in the Poirot books I expect him to be there all the way through…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m still in for Vanity Fair. A re-read in my case, but I’m sure I will notice different things this time round. Cook a Bear looks intriguing, not something I would automatically go for, it could be interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! Yes, it’ll be a re-read for me too, but it must be close to forty years since I read it, so I feel a re-read is seriously overdue! Will you be audiobooking? I have the Georgina Sutton narration which gets good reviews and I like the sample. But I have the Kindle to fall back on since, as you know, audiobooks are still sometimes a struggle for me, though I’m getting better at concentrating on them. I think To Cook a Bear’s blurb sounds great, so I have high hopes for it…


  3. Yes, I’m ready to read Vanity Fair, and October is good timing for me. I’ll do a mixture of book and audio I think. I find that with longer books that mix sometimes works well for me (and is also an easy way to review if my attention or memory slips while listening). I’m also interested to hear more about each of your choices this week, except maybe the thriller. The nineteenth century Swedish setting appeals for its difference. I found myself getting hypnotised by your windmilling gymnast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! I’ve read it before so am hoping the audiobook will work for me – I definitely find listening to re-reads is a better experience because lapses in concentration don’t matter so much. But I have a Kindle copy to fall back on if the audiobook becomes a struggle. And I agree – physical copies are so much easier to review from. I’m not sure about the thriller either – the reviews are pretty mixed, but you never know, it might be brilliant. The Swedish one sounds great – I’m really looking forward to it. And the two vintages are almost guaranteed to be fun! Haha – poor girl! She must get dizzy… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember the first time I read Vanity Fair, FictionFan. It is definitely a saga-length book, so, yes, allow time… Of the other ones you mention, I’m interested in The Chianti Flask. I like the way Belloc Lowndes builds atmosphere, and I’m in the mood for vintage at the moment. And of course, it’s hard to go wrong with Christie, especially with Hugh Fraser narrating…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, yes, they certainly liked to write long books back in those far-off pre-TV days! I read it in my youth but it must be close to forty years ago, so even though I remember the basic story I’ll have forgotten all of the detail. Should be fun! I’m looking forward to The Chianti Flask – I’ve been meaning to read more of her for ages. And the Christie/Fraser combo is pretty much unbeatable for enjoyability… 😀


    • Hurrah! Of course you could always get the audiobook and listen while you actually walk in the park! 😉 It should be fun – looks like there will be a good few of us doing it. And from what I remember it really is very entertaining… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay! Balance is good!
    The Chianti Flask sounds great!
    I’ve read and also listened to Cat Among the Pigeons on audio. So good!
    I’ve read Vanity Fair so I can’t wait for your review of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m feeling very Zen… 😉 I love these Fraser narrations of Christie as you know, so that one is a certainty for a high-star rating, and The Chianti Flask should be fun, I hope. I’ve read Vanity Fair before too but decades ago, so it’s well past time for a re-read – I love Becky Sharp, she’s one of my favourite heroines of all time… 😀


    • Cat Among the Pigeons is very good – set in a posh girls school which she does very well. The schoolgirls are fun! I’m looking forward to the Lowndes since I’ve been meaning to read more of her – fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. They all sound good to me, but I think I’m most fascinated by To Cook a Bear. It’s not available through my library app, so I’ll just have to wait until your review to decide if I want to look into in any further.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m interested in the read a long because VF is still on my Classics challenge list but I know I won’t be able to take part, there’s no way I can read it in time, although I’m intrigued by Sandra’s word count maths – how do you find out the word count?! Maybe I can after all!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I refuse to be tempted as you’ve been successful in your convincing me to add more to my pile this past week. I’ll be packing a pile of books for vacation soon, and I don’t want to take more than one book for each day I’m off…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah!! Welcome aboard! It’s many decades since I read it but I don’t remember it being a tough read even although it’s so long, so I’m hoping we’ll all find it doesn’t take up as much time as we think. And it is fun seeing everyone’s different take on the same book… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. To Cook a Bear does sound interesting. As for the others… I just finished reading Christie’s “Curtain” Poirot’s last case as well as the second book in the Tessa Chrichton Mysteries by Alice Morice and so the mystery books here sound good to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t come across Alice Morice – I shall check her out! These vintage mysteries have become my go-to light entertainment. They’re a great break between the more serious books.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well done for keeping the balance! I’m afraid I had to skim past the book descriptions as I’m reeling from something truly terrible happening to a friend of mine, but I hope you have a good reading week coming up (I’m catching up a bit late, too, I know).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. How to Cook a Bear looks fascinating. I’ve heard of the Sami people in bits and pieces, but I’d love to know more about them. Also, stories of how villages and their politics of small groupings always interest me. And, typically make me thankful I live in a big city! haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, yes, and reading of these ultra snowy places also make me glad I live in rainy but mild Scotland! I think it sounds interesting so have high hopes… and should be starting it tomorrow, I think! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment - I'd love to know who's visiting and what you think...of the post, of the book, of the blog, of life, of chocolate...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.