TBR Thursday 290 and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

At the New Year, as I do every year, I set myself some targets for my various reading challenges and for the reduction of my ever-expanding TBR. I still seem to be storming through the books this year, which ought to mean I’ll be smashing all my targets. Ought to…

Here goes, then – the second check-in of the year…

TBR Quarterly Jun 2021

Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been on track with so many targets at this point of the year – it can’t last! Poor old Reginald Hill is falling behind – must make more effort. I should be able to catch up with the Classics Club and finish by my extended deadline of the end of the year – only a couple of chunksters left and all the rest should be fairly quick reads. The shortfall in new releases has reduced considerably this quarter and (theoretically) will be smashed by the time I’ve read all the review books on my 20 Books of Summer list. The fact that I’m abandoning lots of new fiction isn’t helping, though! The TBR Reduction is awful – I can’t see me meeting those targets without magical intervention. But hey! Who’s counting? 😉

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The Classics Club

I read three from my Classics Club list this quarter but have only reviewed two so far, and had another still to review from the previous quarter…

76. Way Station by Clifford D Simak – I loved this well written, thought-provoking science fiction novel, with shades of Cold War nuclear fear, lots of imaginative aliens and a kind of mystical, New Age-y touch. 5 stars.

77. The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher – This, the first mystery novel written by a black American and with an exclusively black cast of characters, delighted me with its vivid, joyous picture of life in Harlem. Lots of humour and a great plot. 5 stars.

78. The Silver Darlings by Neil M Gunn – A slow-going but interesting look at the beginnings of the Scottish herring industry, following on from the devastation of the Highland Clearances. I enjoyed this one, not least because several of my blog buddies read it with me. 4 stars.

Not good on the quantity, perhaps, but high on quality!

78 down, 12 to go!

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

Managing to keep on track with this challenge at the moment more or less – I’ve read three this quarter, but only reviewed two of them so far. However I had one left over to review from the previous quarter…

43. The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude – One in Bude’s long-running Inspector Meredith series, I find these a little too painstakingly procedural for my taste, although the plot and setting of this one are good. 3½ stars.

44. The Cask by Freeman Wills Crofts – Talking of too procedural, I abandoned this one halfway through on the grounds of being determined not to die of boredom! Crofts’ first, and the best I can say about it is he improved in later books. 1 generous star.

45. The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey – Great writing and a perfectly delivered plot mean that this one’s reputation as a classic of the genre is fully deserved. More psychological than procedural, and with a wonderful depiction of an early version of “trial by media”. 5 stars

45 down, 57 to go!

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Reading the Spanish Civil War Challenge

I only read two for this challenge this quarter but in my defence one of them was a massive biography of Franco, which I haven’t yet reviewed. However I had one left to review from last quarter…

5. In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda. The story of young wife and mother, Natalia, living in Barcelona while her husband is off fighting in the war. It’s a fascinating picture of someone who has no interest in or understanding of politics – who simply endures as other people destroy her world then put it back together in a different form. Packed full of power and emotion – a deserved classic. 4½ stars.

6. Last Days in Cleaver Square by Patrick McGrath. As Franco lies on his deathbed in Spain, Francis McNulty is convinced the dictator is haunting him, and his memories of his time in Spain as a volunteer medic on the Republican side and the horrors he witnessed there are brought back afresh to his mind. Beautifully written, entertaining, moving, full of emotional truth. 5 stars.

Two short books, two different squares, and two great reads, so hurrah for this challenge!

6 down, indefinite number to go!

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The People’s Choice

People's Choice Logo

Unbelievably I’m still up-to-date with this challenge, so three reviews for this quarter plus one that was left over from the previous quarter. Did You, The People, pick me some good ones…?

MarchThe Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves – The first of the Vera Stanhope series – the underlying plot is good and Vera is an interesting, if unbelievable, character. But oh dear, the book is massively over-padded and repetitive, and I found it a real struggle to wade through. 3 stars.

AprilCold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons – A parody of the rural rustic novel popular at the time, there’s a lot of humour in it with some very funny scenes, and it’s especially fun to try to spot which authors and books Gibbons had in mind. It outstayed its welcome just a little as the joke began to wear rather thin, but overall an entertaining read. 4 stars.

MayThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – The first of the Cormoran Strike novels sees him investigating the death of a supermodel, with the help of his temporary secretary, Robin. I’m feeling repetitive myself now, but this is another with a good plot buried under far too much extraneous padding. Galbraith’s easy writing style carried me through, however. 4 stars.

June – Sweet Caress by William Boyd – In the early days of the twentieth century, young Amory Clay decides to become a professional photographer, and her elderly self looks back at where her career took her. Sadly this one didn’t work for me at all and I eventually abandoned it. 1 star.

Even if there were no five stars, there was only one complete dud, so I think you did pretty well, People! And they’re all off my TBR at last – hurrah!

6 down, 6 to go!

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Wanderlust Bingo

Wanderlust Bingo June 2021

I’ve done a little better this quarter and have also started looking ahead to try to make sure I have something for each box. I might shuffle them all around at the end so this is all quite tentative at this stage. The dark blue ones are from last quarter, and the orange ones are this quarter’s. (If you click on the bingo card you should get a larger version.)

EnglandThe Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey – 5 stars. I’ve slotted this into Small Town at the moment, since the setting plays an important part in the plot.

IcelandThe Chill Factor by Richard Falkirk – 4 stars. Another that could work for Small Town, or Europe, but I’ve slotted it into Island at present.

MalayaA Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute – 5 stars. Could be Australia as well, so Oceania, but I’ve gone with the Malayan section and put it into Walk.

AustraliaThe Survivors by Jane Harper – 4 stars. Another that would work for Oceania, but since the Beach plays a major part in the story that’s where I’ve put it.

ScotlandThe Silver Darlings by Neil M Gunn – 4 stars. Since this is all about herring fishing, I don’t imagine I’ll find a better fit for the Sea box.

Still a long, long way to travel, but there are some interesting reads coming up for this one…

7 down, 18 to go!

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Whew! Apologies for the length of this post, but I guess that indicates a successful quarter. Thanks as always for sharing my reading experiences!

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

38 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 290 and Quarterly Round-Up

    • Haha, I always say that if I spent less time on challenges and targets I’d have time to read twice as many books, but never mind – I love playing with spreadsheets… 😉 The Bingo one was one I thought would be easy and is turning out to be really hard! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You are really making some great progress on some of these goals, FictionFan! What I admire most about your quarterly round-ups is how you’ve got everything charted and noted. I wish my own reading plan were that well set up! I also think you have great idea to work on several different challenges like that. It keeps the reading varied, if that makes any sense at all. And it lets you discover ‘new-to-you’ authors.

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    • I always say it, Margot, but if I spent less time on spreadsheets I could probably read twice as many books… 😉 The challenges are going suspiciously well this year – I’m getting worried! Hopefully it will all go wrong soon or I won’t be able to do my Annual Failure Report… 😂

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  2. Great read! I love hearing about your progress and marvelling at your ability to keep so many challenges, lists, charts up to date. Applause all round for this quarter, FF! 😀👏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Haha, I’m so glad I live in the era of spreadsheets – next to reading and eating cake, undoubtedly my favourite hobby! But I am beginning to wonder if I can really fit another challenge in… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really struggling with new releases too – thank goodness for vintage, classics and re-reads! I think they’re trying so hard to be innovative these days, they seem to have lost the knack of just telling a good story…

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    • It’s so unlike me, Laila – I’m getting quite worried! At this rate I won’t be able to do my Annual Failure Report this year… 😉 Funnily enough, I’ve just acquired some chocolate… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on a great first half of the year!! I’ve set very few goals, but seem to be meeting them so far. Here’s to the second half!! 🍻

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  4. I’m exhausted, not with how many books you’ve read (your rate of consumption is similar to mine) but with how organised you are and how assiduous you are in cataloguing what you’re aiming for and then achieving! I tend to wander quite a lot, but I think Gandalf had it right when he said “Not all who wander are lost.” Not that I often lose my bearings!

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    • Haha, but next to reading and cake, spreadsheets are undoubtedly my favourite hobby! Usually however these posts are a record of failure – I’m getting very worried about the fact that I seem to be keeping up with most of my targets this year. Perhaps the Russians have hacked my spreadsheet and rigged the results – I demand a recount! 😉

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  5. How interesting it all is! The Josephine Tey is my pick (as well as everything you’ve read for the SCW challenge) Did you put together the wonderlust bingo yourself? It’s such a good idea!

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    • The SCW challenge has turned up some great reads so far, although I seem to be crawling through it! Ha, yes, the Wanderlust one was supposed to be an easy way to make sure I kept ‘travelling’ after my old Around the World challenge finished, but actually I’ve found it much harder than I expected. Not sure I’ll do it again next year! 😂

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    • It’s been a busy quarter catching up on all my challenges, but fun! Cleaver Square is wonderful – it’ll almost certainly appear on my Book of the Year round-up.

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  6. Very impressive progress towards your goals! I’m behind on all of mine but I always seem to be at this time of year – my reading picks up during the late summer when I have time off work, and again in autumn when it’s too wet to be outside.

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    • Summer is my worst time because I get distracted by sport (on TV, not participating!) and by Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer, which I say every year I won’t do again… 😉

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    • I’ve managed to stick to an actual reading plan recently which is so unlike me! But Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer plan means no time for classics. etc., so I’ll be way behind again next quarter… that’ll feel much more normal… 😉

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  7. You’re so organised with all the lists and spreadsheets, you put the rest of us to shame. I’m glad you are having a better reading year over all, and are keeping up with all your targets and challenges.

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    • Haha, I love my spreadsheets! I definitely have too many challenges on the go at the moment, but I know I’m not going to be able to resist adding the science fiction one… it’s like an addiction! Somehow I need to learn how to read faster… 😉

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  8. You’re doing well! I’m keeping up with my Anne Tylers though I see I must write a review tonight or tomorrow morning, and I am behind with my 20 Books but am reading an AMAZING book I am glad I have pulled out of the TBR for it, and I have a week off coming up so all will be well, I think.

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    • I am, and it’s not like me – I’m worried! 😉 the 20 Books challenge always puts me behind with all my other challenges, but I can never resist doing it anyway. I’m glad a lot of us seem to be getting our reading mojo back after last year’s slumpiness. 😀

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  9. You’re doing amazingly well FF, I’m in awe. As for the TBR reduction, you’re so right that quality is better than quantity. That’s why we read after all – I’m not just saying it because you know I don’t like it when your TBR starts shrinking. No, wait, I really mean it! I’m being genuine, honestly! Honest! 😀

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    • Hahaha, I believe you! *crosses fingers behind back* It sounds crazy when there’s nearly 200 books on my TBR but I’ve felt an urgent need recently to put some fresh ones on – the old ones are looking a bit stale. I admit it – I’m an incurable addict! 😂

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  10. I did a double take when I saw your assessment that you’d read 12 but still had 78 to go for classics club. i thought they might have changed the goal posts and you now had to read 90 books. But then I saw your project page and realised you’ve set yourself this higher target. Wow, it was hard enough for me to read 50 and I didn’t even manage it in the five years….

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    • Haha, yes, but only 60 of them were “proper” fiction – I couldn’t resist adding some classic genre fiction which I knew would be quick reads. I’m going to finish about six or nine months late, I think, but it’s been a lot of fun and I’m already working on my next list… 😀

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  11. Nice! Glad to see your reading is ticking along again, it seemed like you were going through a bit of a slump during the height of the pandemic, but as things begin to look up (at least here in Canada they are!) your reading is speeding along too 🙂

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    • Yes, I seem to be making up for lost time this year! Thank goodness – I hate when I’m in a reading slump, and that was the worst slump of all time. Things are much better here too now – it’s not over, by any means, but the vaccination has been a game-changer.

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  12. I’m surprised how many of your Spanish Civil War challenge books are attracting me – I think For Whom the Bell Tolls Set the scene for me here. Well done for both your diverse reading and conscientious organising!

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    • So far I’ve either loved or hated the SCW fiction, and the hated ones have been quickly abandoned, so I haven’t reviewed them. But considering how few I’ve read so far, three five star novels is impressive!

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