TBR Thursday 293…

Episode 293

Well, during my hiatus from the blog I also wasn’t reading much, but the books were still arriving. So tragically the TBR has rocketed up by a horrifying 15 to 205! In my defence the vast majority of the new arrivals were unsolicited books sent by publishers, so I don’t feel I can be held wholly responsible, m’lud…

Nose to the grindstone again then – must get back under that 200 mark asap! Here’s a few that I should be reading soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson

Gosh, it was a close vote this month! Three of them were neck and neck most of the way through, with only The Sea languishing behind. But in the end, the winner pulled ahead by a margin of just a couple of votes. An excellent choice, People – I should be reading this one in October, theoretically, though I’m so far behind it may drift a little.

The Blurb says: On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykajvik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance. Ari Thór Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjörður struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it’s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies …

Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s finest crime writers.

* * * * *

Christie Shorts

Midsummer Mysteries by Agatha Christie

Courtesy of HarperCollins. This is a gorgeous hardback edition of a new collection of some of Christie’s short stories, all set in summer. Glancing at the index, I’ve read several of them before but there are a few titles that don’t ring a bell, and anyway I can re-read Ms Christie endlessly…

The Blurb says: An all-new collection of summer-themed mysteries from the master of the genre, just in time for the holiday season. [FF says: Not really all-new – I think they mean these stories haven’t been put together as a collection before, but they’ve certainly all appeared before in other collections.]

Summertime – as the temperature rises, so does the potential for evil. From Cornwall to the French Riviera, whether against a background of Delphic temples or English country houses, Agatha Christie’s most famous characters solve even the most devilish of conundrums as the summer sun beats down. Pull up a deckchair and enjoy plot twists and red herrings galore from the bestselling fiction writer of all time.

* * * * *

Classic Crime

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane

One from my Classics Club list. I read and enjoyed a few Spillanes many decades ago, so I’m hoping the old magic will still work. He wrote one of my favourite lines in all crime fiction, describing one of his femmes fatales – “She walked towards me, her hips waving a happy hello.” Doesn’t that just conjure up a wonderful image? 

The Blurb says: When Jack Williams is discovered shot dead, the investigating cop Pat Chambers calls his acquaintance, and Jack’s closest friend, PI Mike Hammer. Back when they fought in the Marines together, Jack took a Japanese bayonet, losing his arm, to save Hammer. Hammer vows to identify the killer ahead of the police, and to exact fatal revenge. His starting point is the list of guests at a party at Jack’s apartment the night he died: Jack’s fiancée, a recovering dope addict, a beautiful psychiatrist, twin socialite sisters, a college student and a mobster.

But as he tracks them down, so too does the killer, and soon it’s not only Jack who is dead . . .

And now Hammer is firmly in the killer’s sights.

* * * * *


Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Worst Idea EverCourtesy of Penguin Michael Joseph UK via NetGalley. Another in my attempt to read more new releases, I picked this because I’ve heard a lot of praise for this author around the blogosphere over the years. I can only hope the style of writing will be rather more literate than the style of the blurb – a true contender for Worst Blurb of the Millennium. FF muses: Do young people not get taught about paragraphs any more? 👵

The Blurb says: Best friends tell each other everything.

Or do they?

Georgia and Lydia are so close they’re practically sisters.

So when Lydia starts an online business that struggles, Georgia wants to help her – but she also understands Lydia’s not the kind to accept a handout.

Setting up a fake Twitter account, Georgia hopes to give her friend some anonymous moral support by posing as a potential customer.

But then Lydia starts confiding in her new internet buddy and Georgia discovers she doesn’t know her quite as well as she thought.

Georgia knows she should reveal herself, but she’s fascinated by this insight into her friend’s true feelings.

Especially when Lydia starts talking about her.

Until Lydia reveals a secret that could not only end their friendship but also blow up Georgia’s marriage.

Georgia’s in too deep.

But what can she save?

Her marriage, her friendship – or just herself?

* * * * *


Nada by Carmen Laforet

One for my Spanish Civil War challenge. This isn’t specifically about the war itself though – it is set a few years later, during Franco’s early regime, but it shows up regularly on SCW book lists and is considered a classic.

The Blurb says: Eighteen-year old orphan Andrea moves to battle-scarred Barcelona to take up a scholarship at the university. But staying with relatives in their crumbling apartment, her dreams of independence are dashed among the eccentric collection of misfits who surround her, not least her uncle Roman. As Andrea’s university friend, the affluent, elegant Ena, enters into a strange relationship with Roman, Andrea can’t help but wonder what future lies ahead for her in such a bizarre and disturbing world.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

40 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 293…

  1. Nada sounds fascinating, looking forward to hearing about it!

    And re that blurb – based on my experience when marking assignments, people really *don’t* get taught about paragraphs any more. I often find myself sending very bright university students to read basic advice about paragraph structure, because their otherwise competent assignment is either one long block of text, or hundreds of disconnected sentences just like that blurb…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nada does look good – should get to it very soon!

      I think a lot of it is the way they teach using pre-printed question and answer sheets these days. In my day, every answer had to be couched as a proper, grammatical sentence, but now one word is often considered acceptable. And it would have been impossible to pass O-level or Higher/A-level English without being able to write grammatically. Now it astonishes me how so many young people come out of school with a list of qualifications but without the basic skills of English and arithmetic, and have to learn them either at Uni or in jobs.


  2. I realise that it’s five years since I last read a Dark Iceland book, and I can’t remember if that was intentional or not, so I’ve added Rupture to my TBR. When I had my sustained spell of reading Nordic crime (which also started me reading crime as a genre), it was the environment and the extreme dark/light, and their impact on everyday life and psychology that particularly interested me. Its time to revisit that. The Spillane is unknown to me so I’ll watch your response to it with interest. I have become quite engaged with the Spanish Civil war books I’ve read recently (thanks FF!), so Nada is a definite possibility for me. I thought I’d found an audiobook of this, and then realised it was in Spanish, and my creaky Spanish is not up to that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It must be around that since I last read any of the Dark Iceland books too – I think it was about then that I switched off from contemporary crime in a big way. I did try his later series but wasn’t taken with the lead detective so didn’t pursue it. For me, it’s the similarities and contrasts with life here that makes Scandi crime appealing – there’s a lot of crossover between Scandi culture and ours, and their crime fiction was originally very influenced by the early Tartan Noir crime, though I think they’ve probably surpassed us in popularity now. Ha, no, I couldn’t cope with an audiobook in any language other than English – not even French which I studied for what seemed like hundreds of years! I should get to Nada soon, I hope. Have you come across any in your SCW reading that weren’t on my list?

      Liked by 1 person

      • My reading on the SCW to date has been random rather than planned, prompted by books you’ve mentioned. I’ve become very interested in the drama and conflicts of the time now and I’m more actively seeking books. So far I’ve only read the Sansom (on my TBR for years) and Hemingway and Orwell. I am waiting for the library’s order of Cleaver Square to come through and I have the Laurie Lee and In Diamond Square on my TBR. I’m interested in novels rather than straight factual accounts but I see there’s a book called Kiwi Compañeros: NZ and the SCW which I’ll have a look at eventually. The library, in its efficient way, responded to my purchase request immediately and I now have Nada in ebook format waiting for me (before I’m quite ready for it 🙂). So, thank you, I knew nothing of this place and time before you drew it to my attention – it’s such an interesting and tragic theatre of human conflict.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I still haven’t got round to either the Sansom or the Laurie Lee – this may be the slowest challenge I’ve ever done! I do hope you like Cleaver Square – it may well end up on my Best of list this year, and In Diamond Square is one of those that has actually continued to grow in my appreciation – it has left me with lasting pictures of life for the “neutral” Spaniards who often get overlooked. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Kiwi book if you get to it. There’s a similar one about Scottish volunteers that I hope to get to in the not too distant future – Homage to Caledonia. And I have a few more novels lined up, although it’ll be next year before I get to any of them. I think it’s a real microcosm of all the divisions that ripped Europe apart last century, and are still bubbling away ready to boil over again if we’re not careful. I also find it interesting how the left romanticised it at the time and later – a real victory for propaganda. Trying to find unbiased factual books is even harder than usual.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I’m afraid I’m not sharp at all on the ‘actual’ historical perspectives but it is interesting trying to put together some sense of perspective from the lives depicted in novels. The Kiwi book should be an interesting one to put in the mix.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I’m glad I read a bit of history to get the perspective, but I’m enjoying the novels far more than the factual stuff on the whole. Apart from the Caledonian book I think I’m probably done with the historical side now.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Doh! Neither of my choices won this month 😫 But by the time you pick it up, it will be a good time of year for a dark Icelandic thriller. 😊 Except that it’s set in summer I notice, and it won’t actually be dark 🤔 Ah well, there’s always Christie. A seasonally-themed collection from the grande dame? Marvellous! But a summer collection? Now? Climate change is everywhere it seems! 😵 😨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, an Icelandic summer is probably much like a Scottish one – cold and wet – so not much different to autumn! Yeah, it would have been good if I’d got around to the Christie in summer, though – my planning skills need refining, I think! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, FictionFan, if those books arrived without you having ordered them, I would say to look no further than the Feline Administration in your home. I suspect a conspiracy, as it’s hardly your fault.

    As for the books, the Christie looks good (but then, for me, you can’t go far wrong with her work). Nada looks interesting, too; I’ll be looking forward to your review of that. And please don’t get me started about the whole young-people-and-their-writing issue. Please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a new theory! Apparently HarperCollins are about to open a new warehouse just a few miles from here, and I suspect they’re using my house as temporary storage until it’s ready! 😉

      Christie short stories are always fun, and it looks as though there are a few I haven’t read before (or don’t remember, anyway) so I’m looking forward to it. Nada should be good – fingers crossed! Haha, I get very grumpy about blurbs these days – you’d think being able to write appealingly would be an essential requirement of the job! Pah!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ooh, must get the Christie one! I’m having a binge watch of the TV series. The Mysterious Affair at Styles at the moment. I don’t think I’ve read this one but I’m enjoying watching 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like you’ve got a hard choice to make, FF: which of these intriguing books to read first! I’ll be tuned in when you write your reviews. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on that blurb for Worst Idea Ever and hope you don’t have to wade through 300 or so pages of that choppy style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, if the book is written anything like the blurb it will find itself on the abandoned pile very quickly! You’d think being able to write appealingly would be an essential requirement for the job of blurb writer, wouldn’t you? 😉 Still, fingers crossed all of these will turn out to be enjoyable… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nada definitely, but I’ll just be reading your review for now! The Icelandic crime sounds brilliantly atmospheric and as for Worst.Idea.Ever. well it could be reading it from the look of the blurb!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In regard to your TBR list: 😱😱😱😱
    And once again, my choice is not the People’s Choice. Sigh. Of course I will be waiting for your review, rather than grumbling about my book not being chosen.
    I’m always tempted by Agatha Christie. My dad, however, is a Mickey Spillane fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I know! It was all heading in the right direction, and then boom! It’s blown up again! 😉

      It was a hard choice this time, and though I’m pleased about the winner I’m sad about the losers. I must try to fit them in some time soon anyway. I’m looking forward to the Spillane – I read some back in my teens and enjoyed them, but my tastes are very different now so I’m hoping the old magic still works. I seem to remember them having quite a lot of humour in them…


    • Hahaha, divorce him! 😉 I couldn’t read my whole TBR in a year even if I was paid to, but I would like to get it down to about a year’s worth. But honestly, the publishers seem to have gone mad this last month – I got about three times as many as I’d usually get in a month. They must think I’ve got clones…!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christie’s short stories are always fun, though on the whole I prefer the novels. I went through a big Nordic crime phase a few years ago – a lot of them are a bit like the Rebus books in style, so I’m sure you’d enjoy sampling a few. Blackout should be great autumn reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, no celebrating mu shocking TBR increase! My house is gradually tilting – I must start piling the books up on both sides equally! 😉 I’m looking forward to Blackout – should be perfect autumn reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG so did that blurb for the last book really just look like that…with all those paragraph breaks and single sentences? UGH so annoying.

    Also, when I get unsolicited books in the mail from publishers, I do consider them ‘lower down’ on my list of things to read, simply because I feel morally obligated (LOL) to read the books I’ve requested, especially since they paid the postage and everything

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t imagine how a reputable publisher would let a blurb like that go through! Admittedly I abandoned the book very quickly, so I should have taken the blurb as a warning… 😉

      I used to only get a few, so that I could fit them in reasonably easily. But I don’t know what’s happened this last couple of months – one publisher alone has sent me about fifteen. I’m going to have to start being stricter and not try to read them all – it becomes impossible to fit in the books I’ve chosen for myself!

      Liked by 1 person

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