TBR Thursday 296…

Episode 296

It’s been an odd couple of weeks since I last reported on the state of the TBR, with some speed reading in the first week followed by a reading drought in the second. The end result, however, is a reduction – down 2 to 195! (I’m also days behind with reading your posts, as you may – or may not! – have noticed. But I’m slowly catching up!)

How are all our Review-Alongers getting on with Vanity Fair? I’m getting very worried – I’m only about halfway through with just a couple of weeks to go! (Reminder – review date is 25th October.) I think I’m going to have to master multi-tasking…

Here’s a few more that I should be reading soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

Oh good! Although any of them would have been fine, I was secretly hoping you might pick this one! It was close for a while with A Distant Echo running neck-and-neck, but in the end Gorky Park took a pretty commanding lead. The other two were never really in contention. I should be reading this one in November, theoretically, though I’m even further behind than I was last week so who knows??

The Blurb says: It begins with a triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and the New York City police as he pursues a rich, ruthless, and well-connected American fur dealer. Meanwhile, Renko is falling in love with a beautiful, headstrong dissident for whom he may risk everything.

A wonderfully textured, vivid look behind the Iron Curtain, Gorky Park is a tense, atmospheric, and memorable crime story.

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Vintage Horror

Randalls Round by Eleanor Scott

Courtesy of the British Library. I know nothing about this author or the book, but it’s subtitled “Nine Nightmares” so that sounds good! Porpy? Porpy? Why are you hiding behind the sofa…?

The Blurb says: ‘These stories have all had their origins in dreams… These dreams were terrifying enough to the dreamer… I hope that some readers will experience an agreeable shudder or two in the reading of them.’ An enigmatic and shadowy presence answers the call of an ancient curse on the coast of Brittany; a traveller’s curiosity leads him to witness a hellish sacrifice by night; a treasure-hunt in a haunted mansion takes a turn for the tentacular.

Described in the author’s foreword as an attempt to convey a series of nightmares she experienced, Randalls Round is a thrilling collection of strange stories ranging from depictions of ritualistic folk horror to tales of ancient forces versus humanity in the vein of M R James. Despite being the only weird fiction written under the Scott pseudonym, this collection is deserving of a much wider readership and its place in the development of the weird and folk horror subgenres.

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Crime

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Courtesy of HarperCollins. This unsolicited one nearly disappeared in my recent cull, but I decided I couldn’t resist trying it, despite my frequent tooth-gnashing over updates of the classics. Trying to imagine Mr Rochester as “Eddie” is already bringing on a migraine, though… 😉

The Blurb says: A girl looking for love…
When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.

A man who seems perfect…
Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life.

A wife who just won’t stay buried…
But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined…

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs is perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.

* * * * *

Fiction

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

Courtesy of Random House Cornerstone via NetGalley. I’ve had a mixed reaction to Faulks in the few books of his I’ve read so far, but his blurbs always appeal and the quality of his writing always makes me able to put up with any other weaknesses. This one sounds as if it could be great…

The Blurb says: 1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers.

1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick.

1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time.

Sweeping across Europe as it recovers from one war and hides its face from the coming of another, SNOW COUNTRY is a landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope. In elegant, shimmering prose, Sebastian Faulks has produced a work of timeless resonance.

* * * * *

Crime

Risk of Harm by Lucie Whitehouse

Courtesy of HarperCollins. Another unsolicited one, but this time very welcome since I enjoyed the first book in the Robin Lyons series, Critical Incidents, and fully intended to read the next anyway…

The Blurb says: Robin Lyons is back in her hometown of Birmingham and now a DCI with Force Homicide, working directly under Samir, the man who broke her heart almost twenty years ago.

When a woman is found stabbed to death in a derelict factory and no one comes forward to identify the body, Robin and her team must not only hunt for the murderer, but also solve the mystery of who their victim might be.

As Robin and Samir come under pressure from their superiors, from the media and from far-right nationalists with a dangerous agenda, tensions in Robin’s own family threaten to reach breaking point. And when a cold case from decades ago begins to smoulder and another woman is found dead in similar circumstances, rumours of a serial killer begin to spread.

In order to get to the truth Robin will need to discover where loyalty ends and duty begins. But before she can trust, she is going to have to forgive – and that means grappling with some painful home truths.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

70 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 296…

  1. I’ve never come across Eleanor Scott but Randalls Round sounds intriguing – hope it’s not too scary for Porpy! The Wife Upstairs doesn’t tempt me as I’m not much of a fan of modern retellings, but maybe it will turn out to be a good one.

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    • I love that the BL is bringing forward lots of forgotten horror writers now, to rival all the mystery novelists they’ve revived. I hate retellings of the classics, so I can’t understand why I can never resist reading them… 😉

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  2. I’m extremely behind on Vanity Fair because my book club book is not to my taste but I have to try and finish it, so I spend all my reading time opening that, reading a few pages, closing it, repeat ad nauseum – but once I’ve finished that I’ll have a good couple of weeks to devote all my spare time to Vanity Fair (which I’m enjoying much more)!

    Unlike a lot of people I quite enjoy the idea of adaptations of classics and have enjoyed plenty in the past, but that blurb for The Wife Upstairs does *not* appeal, not least because of “Eddie”…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve abandoned the audiobook of VF now and am reverting to print. The narration is good but it takes me at least twice as long to listen as to read, especially since I have a tendency to fall asleep when listening to audiobooks! All other books are going to have to go on the back burner till I get through it. It is great though – I love/hate all the characters… 😀

      If Rochester had been known as Eddie in the original I’m pretty sure it would never have become a classic. It sounds dreadful, but maybe it’ll surprise me… 😉

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  3. I’m very glad Gorky Park won, FictionFan! It really is (I think) a fine novel, and gives a real feel for the Soviet Union of that time. Risk of Harm sounds very good, too, and I remember that you enjoyed the first one in that series. I hope this one will be enjoyable, too.

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    • I’m glad Gorky Park won too – it’s one of the ones I’m most annoyed about leaving to linger so thank goodness for The People! I have high hopes for Risk of Harm, especially since the main protagonist is now back in the police fold rather than working as a sort of PI. Fingers crossed!

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  4. I’m never convinced about these “modern twist” things. I once read an extremely odd book about a Welsh shopkeeper called Henry Tudor, who married a woman called Elizabeth, founded a business empire, and had a son called Henry who then had six wives, with names like Janet Seymour and Ann Kleber!

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    • Hahaha, that sounds dreadful, but also a hoot! Generally speaking, I end up hating re-tellings, but somehow I can never resist them. Anyway, it’s always fun writing a really scathing 1-star review… 😉

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  5. The idea of Mr. Rochester as Eddie is just wrong, no other word for it. I sense one of your entertaining 1 star reviews coming up already, but maybe we’ll both be wrong. I’ve put aside some time next week to finish VF, so should be ready for the reviewalong on the 25th. I had forgotton it was quite such a long book.

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    • Hahaha, I know! I suspect if he’d been called Eddie in the original it’d never have become a classic. But I’m secretly hoping it’ll be so bad I’ll be able to get rid of months’ worth of pent-up vitriol in the review… 😉 I’ve had to swap from audio to print for VF – the narration is good but it takes me so long to listen to books, not helped my tendency to fall asleep after 15 minutes. The deadline is good though, something to aim for – it’s like studying for exams back in the old days… 😂

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  6. The vintage crime captures my attention since I’m a frequent and vivid dreamer. Hopefully it will be scary and horrifying in a good way (which is likely, given it is “vintage”). I just tried a book of horror short stories that I had to put down after only reading the introduction and the first story. I rarely DNF, but it was more than I could handle.

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    • I tend to have recurring dreams so they get a bit boring after a while! Yes, I’ve tried modern horror too, but I find they usually use gore and really dark subjects to achieve the thrills and that doesn’t work for me at all. I prefer gentle horror – and so does the porpy!

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      • On a side note, I’m thinking of listening to The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury and my library has two options. One narrated by Paul Michael Garcia and the other by Scott Brick. Are you familiar with either of them? If so, which do you recommend?

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    • Haha, everybody seem to be running late with VF – it’s like studying for an exam. I wonder how many of us will have to pull an all-nighter on the 24th? 😉 Gorky Park sounds good – I’m looking forward to it!

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    • Haha, that sounds like fun! It often depends on my mood whether I can just let go of my cynical side and enjoy these things – I shall do my best! (And if not, I’ll have the fun of writing a really scathing 1-star review… 😉 )

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  7. I loved Gorky Park! It sent me on a Martin Cruz Smith reading jag for a while. I’ve had my eye on Snow Country too and wondering if it will go into the yay or meh category. And I’m still trying to get my head around ‘Eddie’.

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    • I’ve never read anything by him, so I’m really looking forward to Gorky Park – it sounds great! I’d love to love Faulks – he writes exactly the kind of books I enjoy, but so far something has always got in the way of me being able to wholeheartedly lose myself in them – maybe this time! Haha, I’m deeply worried about how I’ll react to Eddie… 😉

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  8. I’m looking forward to your review of Gorky Park and could well be tempted with this one. The other one I’m especially interested in is the Faulks – if Snow Country works well, I’m keen to read it.
    I think I’ll be finished Vanity Fair on time. I’m less than half way through but tend to get through audiobooks pretty steadily. I think I’m enjoying Vanity Fair more as an audio version than I would as a straight book read. I found two audio versions, so I was even able to choose my narrator.

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    • Gorky Park sounds great and has loads of glowing reviews on Goodreads, so I have high hopes for it! I’d love to love Faulks wholeheartedly – he writes exactly the kind of books I most enjoy but somehow I usually end up admiring them rather than loving them – maybe this will be the one! I’ve had to swap form the audio of VF to print. I am enjoying the narration but I’m so slow at audiobooks, due partly to my tendency to fall asleep while listening! I can read at least twice as fast. My version is Georgina Sutton – which narrator did you go for?

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        • Georgina Sutton is good but she is slow, and somehow she’s not holding my attention – can’t quite put my finger on why not. Listening to the sample, Wanda McCaddon definitely sounds faster and more spirited – she’s another narrator I haven’t come across before. But now that I’ve reverted to reading I’m racing through it…

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    • I enjoyed the first book in the series, so I have high hopes for Risk of Harm! All of these sound as if they could be great (except maybe the Jane Eyre re-telling, but maybe it’ll surprise me… 😉 )

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    • Hahaha, the whole thing sounds dreadful to me, but it’s actually getting really high ratings on Goodreads so maybe it’ll surprise me! Didn’t a dog play a part in the original meeting between Jane and the man I shall have to learn to think of as “Eddie”? (Or am I thinking of Marianne and Willoughby… these classic romances are hard to keep straight!)

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        • Haha, well, I abandoned it at page 12! I really don’t remember Jane Eyre being foul-mouthed or a thief and I’m not sure Eddie’s six-pack could ever compete with Rochester’s brooding masculinity… 😉

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          • One of the things I loved about Jane Eyre was her moral character and the way she sticks to what she believes even when it doesn’t make her happy. None of the updated versions I’ve ever seen capture this about her.

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            • I’m afraid the heroines of these older stories simply don’t translate to modern retellings – the place of women in society has changed so much that authors have to change their characters radically, which always leaves me wondering what the point is. They were who they were because of the societies they lived in…

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  9. Don’t think I voted for Gorky. But I hope you enjoy it 😊 I like the sound of Snow Country, hope it lives up to your expectations.

    And ummmm… I can’t decide whether to feel smug or embarrassed on VF but *deep breath* I Have Finished It 😳 Not surprised you’ve switched to print; it’s a real chunkster isn’t it! More than happy if it works for everyone else for the review date to be pushed back.

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    • Both of those sound good to me so I have high hopes! 😀

      Ooh, well done! I’m mega impressed – you’re the only finisher so far which makes you the champion! I was tempted to suggest putting the date back but I suspect we’re all racing to the deadline now so it might be better to keep it – like an exam! The audio was quite good but it just wasn’t catching fire for me. Now that I’ve changed to print I’m storming through the second half… 😀

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  10. Gorky Park looks intriguing, and the book of nightmares looks terrifying. I’m a bit skeptical about The Wife Upstairs, maybe because I just read another re-write called Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost, and this one sounds exactly the same? I enjoyed the one I read, but I can’t imagine this one will be completely different…it just feels like modern writers are running out of ideas LOL

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