TBR Thursday (on a Wednesday) 301 – The People’s Choice…

Episode 301

(A reminder of The People’s Choice plan. Once a month, I shall list the four oldest books on the TBR, then the next four, and so on, and each time you will select the one you think I should read, either because you’ve read and enjoyed it, or because you think the blurb looks good. And I will read the one you pick within three months! If I begin to fall behind, I’ll have a gap till I catch up again. In the event of a tie, I’ll have the casting vote.)

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OK, People, time for the next batch of four, an odd bunch this time I think, finishing 2017 and taking us into 2018. I’m still catching up after my mid-year hiatus, so this won’t be the usual three months ahead pick – the winner will be a December read, if I can fit it in! The first couple – The House by the River and The Grell Mystery – are two of the more obscure ones for my Murder, Mystery, Mayhem challenge. At Night We Walk in Circles was recommended to me by occasional commenter Matthew Geyer long ago, when I was trying to expand my then almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon American reading into other ethnicities. We Need to Talk About Kevin is on my list just because I liked the sound of it. I have fairly mixed enthusiasm about all of these, so I’m relying on you to pick a good’un!

I’m intrigued to see which one you pick…

Vintage Crime

The House by the River by AP Herbert

Added 26th August 2017. 13 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.28 average rating. 236 pages.

The Blurb says: After the inquest, The Chase had plenty to talk about. Mrs. Ambrose and Mrs. Church were kept very busy. For few of The Chase had been actually present in the flesh—not because they were not interested and curious and indeed aching to be present, but because it seemed hardly decent. Since the great Nuisance Case about the noise of the Quick Boat Company’s motor-boats there had been no event of communal importance to The Chase; life had been a lamentable blank. And it was an ill-chance that the first genuine excitement, not counting the close of the Great War, should be a function which it seemed hardly decent to attend: an inquest on the dead body of a housemaid from The Chase discovered almost naked in a sack by a police-boat at Barnes.

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Vintage Crime

The Grell Mystery by Frank Froest

Added 26th August 2017. 98 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.55 average. 304 pages.

The Blurb says: Robert Grell is a daring explorer who has also enjoyed success in the worlds of finance and politics in the United States prior to settling in England as a gentleman of leisure. He spends his ‘last night of bachelordom’ prior to marrying the lovely Lady Eileen Meredith at his club. When he tells his friend Sir Ralph Fairfield that he needs to keep an appointment, his evasiveness about what he is doing puzzles Fairfield. Two hours later, ‘a wildeyed breathless servant’ is reporting to the police that Grell has been found murdered in his study, and it emerges that another servant, a Russian called Ivan, has vanished. All is not, however, as it seems. The police quickly establish that the dead man is not Grell, but someone who bears him a close resemblance…

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Fiction

At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón

Added 6th October 2017. 2,669 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.62 average. 384 pages. 

The Blurb says: Nelson’s life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man, his brother has left their South American country and moved to the United States, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother, and his acting career can’t seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson’s hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre. And that’s when the real trouble begins.

The tour takes Nelson out of the shelter of the city and across a landscape he’s never seen, which still bears the scars of the civil war. With each performance, Nelson grows closer to his fellow actors, becoming hopelessly entangled in their complicated lives, until, during one memorable performance, a long-buried betrayal surfaces to force the troupe into chaos.

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Crime

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Added 1st January 2018. 187,436 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.04 average. 478 pages.

The Blurb says: Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not of the boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband. Uneasy with the sacrifices of motherhood, Eva fears that her dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so drastically off the rails.

Winner of the 2005 Orange Prize, We Need To Talk About Kevin is a brilliant, controversial, unsettling book.

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads, Amazon UK or extracted from Martin Edwards’ The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.

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VOTE NOW!

(Click on title and then remember to also click on Vote, or your vote won’t count!)

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55 thoughts on “TBR Thursday (on a Wednesday) 301 – The People’s Choice…

  1. I’ve voted for Daniel Alarcón as although I haven’t read any of his work, I’ve heard very good things. Kevin was much, much too dark for me – along with A Life in Books, I kind of wanted to vote against it! Admittedly I was in my mid-teens when I read it – maybe I was just too young. Though I won’t be rereading it again to see if I like it better as an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only read one Shriver and it was a fairly light, humorous satire – Kevin sounds so different! I’m intrigued! The Alarcon sounds right up my street from the blurb and I’ve also heard good things about him, so I’ll be quite happy if it wins. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. None of these initially made me want to recommend them, so I looked into the books a little more and ended up with choosing the Alarcón. It looks like quite a risky choice with divided responses from readers, but seems to be a rewarding read for those who do like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is an odd batch this time – I have a feeling I was being more choosy by 2018, so it’s mostly leftovers from various challenges. The Alarcon sounds right up my street, though I noticed the mixed reviews too – I’ll be quite happy to find out for myself, if it wins! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is really an interesting group, FictionFan! And I’ve got some mixed feelings about all of them. But I’m voting for the Herbert. The buildup to that mystery seems appealing, and I can see how this would be a good ‘un.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The House by the River sounds very good but I’ve voted for Kevin because it’s one I’ve read and thought was extremely good (and the film with Tilda Swinton) not easy though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, love your reasoning! I’m definitely intrigued by Kevin, even more now because of the strong reactions it seems to have provoked in the comments, both pro and anti, so I’ll be quite happy if it wins… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The only one I’ve heard of is the “Kevin” book… and I’ve heard quite mixed things about it. So I didn’t vote for it! Instead, I’m in the minority with The Grell Mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been surprised by how strongly people who’ve read it seem to have reacted to Kevin in the comments, both for and against, so I’m intrigued! But The Grell Mystery sounds like it could be fun, and it would tick off another challenge box! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m speculating based on Shriver being a well known talking head over here, but I’ll be amazed if it is a “blame the mother” one, although I agree the blurb makes it sound that way. That’s partly what intrigues me – she’s quite likely to have a non-conventional take on the subject. The Alarcon (I’m guessing that’s the one you went for) sounds good though, and right up my street in terms of subject matter, so I’ll be quite happy if it wins. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is an odd batch this time – most of them are there because of various challenges rather than because they particularly appealed, but sometimes the ones you least expect turn out to be the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry, FF, but I can’t vote on any of these. While I’ve not read them, their blurbs aren’t striking a chord of interest, and I find myself thinking, No wonder FF shoved all four aside for more fascinating reads!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, I’d find it hard to pick one of these myself, Debbie! Most of them are on there because of some challenge or another, but who knows? Maybe they’ll all be brilliant! 😉

      Like

  7. Out of these, I would be most likely to read At Night we Walk in Circles, so I would vote for that one. Kevin as we seem to be calling it now is one of these stories I feel I know even though I’ve not read the book. It sounds too depressing though, certainly for right now. Good luck to you if it wins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve registered your vote for At Night We Walk in Circles – it does sound intriguing, and the blurb is right up my street in terms of subject matter so I’ll be quite happy if it wins. Kevin does sound very dark which surprises me since the only book of hers I’ve read was full of humorous satire. That contrast in itself intrigues me…

      Like

    • It is an odd bunch this time, mostly on there because of various challenges rather than because they specifically appealed. Haha, poor old Kevin is getting as many No votes as Yeses – it’s getting like Brexit around here… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I voted for the book by Daniel Alarcón because I would be most interested in knowing what you think of them. Except for the book by Shriver I had not heard of any of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard good things about Alarcon and the blurb of this one sounds very much my kind of thing, so I’ll be quite happy if it comes up! I’m laughing at how divisive the Shriver has been – I don’t think I’ve ever had a book that’s had as many No votes as Yeses before! Intriguing… 😉

      Like

  9. I think you need to know that it really confuses me when you post these TBRs on the wrong day!

    I’m having trouble deciding my vote. Kevin is the only book by Shriver I’ve read and it was very disturbing so I have trouble recommending it to anyone. But you’ve enjoyed other books by her, correct? I feel like you would have an interesting perspective on this one. At Night We Walk in Circles is also very intriguing to me and that’s the one I would personally pick to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I know. The penalty of thinking it would be neat to have alliterative post titles – TBR Thursday, Friday Frippery, Tuesday Terror, etc. I should have remembered I’m just not organised enough… 😉

      I’ve only read one of Shriver’s books before and I loved it, wo well remembered! But it was quite light and humorous, so sounds as if it couldn’t be more different to Kevin which in itself intrigues me, as do the very strong reactions it seems to have provoked in people both for and against. I’ve not read any Alarcon before but have heard good things, and the blurb sounds very much my kind of thing, so I’ll be quite happy if it wins. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

          • Haha, no, nothing ominous. I was thinking more that this is a book about motherhood, particularly focused on what a mother might be responsible for when it comes to her child, from an author without children. And from what I’ve read, quite content to be so. So I guess I’m curious about your perspective as someone without children and how that might affect your reading of the book.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I suspect I’ll appreciate Shriver’s take on it. I’ve always admired her as a “talking head” who seems to have a reasonably similar view of life to my own, though she’s much more outspoken than me! 😉 Looks like it’s going to win, so we’ll soon know!

              Liked by 1 person

    • Everybody who’s read Kevin seems to have reacted really strongly to it, either for or against. It may well be too dark for me too, but I must say I’m intrigued to see what makes it so divisive! The blurb of the Alarcon sounds like just my kind of thing, so I’ll be quite happy if it wins… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Looks like my vote for we Need To Talk About Kevin is winning! I’ve always been curious about this book, but as the mother of a young son, I’m not sure I have the nerves for it right now. Years ago I read that memoir by the woman of one of the Columbine shooters, and it’s one of the hardest books i’ve ever read. At least this is fiction, but I have no doubt it will be a difficult read – still, a good one though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I don’t think it’ll be over-taken now! I think we have a tendency to forget that these people we label as “monsters” have relatives who must question themselves as to whether they are responsible for the way their child turned out. It’s a fascinating question. I do think parents have a huge influence on their children, but so do the wider society, schools, peers, and so on – and yes, I do think it’s possible that some people are simply born “bad”, flawed in some way that no amount of care will stop them from behaving outside the rules. I’m looking forward to reading Kevin – I’m sure Shriver will have an interesting take on it all!

      Liked by 1 person

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