TBR Thursday 303…

Episode 303

I knew it couldn’t last! After a few weeks of dramatic drops, the TBR is fighting back and has regained some lost ground – up 3 to 188! It’s not my fault – I’m clearly suffering from mind control by aliens experimenting to discover the limits of human endurance…

Here are a few more they’ll be making me read soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The voting was pretty close for a while but then We Need to Talk About Kevin pulled out in front and gradually built up a decent lead. I’m delighted it did, because no other book in any previous poll has provoked so many strong opinions, with nearly as many people expressing a desire to vote against it as for it, all of which made me very keen to read it and see why it’s so divisive! I might hate it or I might love it, but either way I can’t wait to find out. Good one, People!

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.

American Classic 

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

One for my Classics Club list. (This is a replacement for The Last of the Mohicans, which sadly I didn’t get along with at all and abandoned too early to review.) I’ve read Rabbit, Run before but don’t remember much about it. I have a feeling I neither loved nor hated it – they’re the ones I usually forget quickest. However, I’ve read far more American fiction since then, so am hoping I may be more in tune with it now and be able to appreciate it more. I also have the Audible version, narrated by William Hope, so will be switching between print and audio…

The Blurb says: Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

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Classic Science Fiction

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

And another Classics Club one. I know nothing about this book or author and picked it from various “best of” lists when compiling my list of classics. It sounds as if it could be brilliant… or awful! But I love the cover…

The Blurb says: In this pulse-quickening novel, Alfred Bester imagines a future in which people “jaunte” a thousand miles with a single thought, where the rich barricade themselves in labyrinths and protect themselves with radioactive hit men – and where an inarticulate outcast is the most valuable and dangerous man alive. “The Stars My Destination” is a classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment by an acknowledged master of science fiction.

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Thriller

The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Courtesy of Little, Brown Book Group via NetGalley. I’ve loved several of Abbott’s earlier books, so have high hopes for this one. However, its lowish ratings on Goodreads have me a little concerned. I’ve avoided reading any reviews though, so I don’t know what it is about it that people are objecting to. We shall see…

The Blurb says: Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, homeschooled and trained by their mother. Decades later the Durant School of Dance is theirs. The two sisters, together with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prize student, inherited the school after their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago. Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, back broken after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around each other, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker, a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration, an interloper arrives and threatens the delicate balance of everything they’ve worked for.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

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Psychological Thriller on Audio

A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine narrated by Harriet Walter

The Kindle version of this has been lingering on my TBR for far too long so when I spotted it on Audible narrated by the wonderful Harriet Walter, I couldn’t resist! I may flick back and forwards between Kindle and audio, or I may simply immerse myself completely in the narration…

The Blurb says: Faith Severn has grown up with the dark cloud of murder looming over her family. Her aunt Vera Hillyard, a rigidly respectable woman, was convicted and hanged for the crime, but the reason for her desperate deed died with her. Thirty years later, a probing journalist pushes Faith to look back to the day when her aunt took knife in hand and walked into a child’s nursery. Through the eyes of a woman trying to understand an unspeakable, inexplicable family tragedy, Barbara Vine leads us through a shadow land of illicit lust, intimate sins, and unspoken passions—to a shattering and illuminating climax, as inevitable as it is unexpected. In this enthralling masterpiece, a great crime writer has achieved both a flawlessly crafted novel of psychological suspense and a deeply probing work of literary art.

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

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

43 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 303…

  1. I’ve never heard of A Dark-Adapted Eye and it sounds rather too bleak for me, but Harriet Walter is so wonderful that I could be tempted by the audio, though I will wait for your review first. I hope you like Kevin more than I did. And I agree about the blurb for the Bester – it will either be magnificent or awful but it’s hard to imagine it falling somewhere in between!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harriet Walter really is fab as a narrator – I loved her reading of William Boyd’s Brazzaville Beach. A Dark-Adapted Eye is one of those books that gets recommended a lot by crime aficionados, so we’ll see! I started the Bester last night – just a few pages, and it’s looking good so far, so fingers crossed. And I can’t wait to get to Kevin… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin seems to be so divisive, which is why it intrigues me. I’d always rather have a strong reaction to a book, even if it’s a negative one, than just to feel it was “OK”. I’m hoping the Megan Abbott lives up to my high expectations!

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  2. Well, you can hardly be blamed if there are aliens at work, FictionFan! None of this is your fault! As for this week’s books, I wonder what you’ll think of We Need to Talk About Kevin. With your experience working with teenage boys, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of insights and I’m looking forward to your perspective. I like Megan Abbott’s writing, so I hope The Turnout will be good. And I see you have the Barbara Vine on audio – that’s a great psychological novel, and I’m really looking forward to your views on that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly – I’m an innocent victim! 😉 I think that’s what drew me to We Need to Talk About Kevin in the first place. I kind of believe in both nature and nurture when it comes to children and young people going to the bad – it is often the parents’ fault, but not always, or sometimes it’s through too much love rather than too little, or social and peer pressure, and so on. I’m intrigued to read Shriver’s take on it. I’m hoping both the Vine and the Abbott will live up to my high expectations!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My choice won – hooray! I’ll look forward to your review as I still can’t decide whether to read it or not. I have seen the film with Tilda Swinton which I thought was good, I went with someone who had read the book and she thought it was a pretty faithful adaptation. Maybe one for your Film of the Book posts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would like to watch the film – I’ve been putting it off for years on the basis that I wanted to read the book first. I love that the book seems to be so divisive – no one who has read it though it was just OK, they either loved it or hated it! Can’t wait to find out which way it takes me… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wasn’t in the Kevin camp. But who knows, maybe you’ll convince me. Anything read by Harriet Walter appeals though. And I find myself unexpectedly hooked by The Turnout. I’m guessing it won’t be much like Ballet Shoes though, right? 🤔😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, no, knowing Megan Abbott I think that’s highly unlikely! 😉 Harriet Walter is great and this book has been recommended to me by several crime aficionados as a real modern(ish) classic, so I’m looking forward to it. And to Kevin – from the reactions to it, I’m almost certain to either love or hate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Is it just me, or are blurbs getting longer these days? The one for the Megan Abbott seemed especially wordy, though I actually quite like the sound of the book, or at least the dancing school. I had a feeling Kevin would win last week, though it does seem like a particularly divisive book. I look forward to seeing whether you are in the love or hate camp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, they definitely are! Some of them are almost like reading a short story! It always makes me laugh when one of the books is an old classic and the blurb is tiny in comparison to new releases. I think the Vanity Fair blurb was only about four lines. I’m looking forward to the Abbot – I’ve loved several of her previous books. And I can’t wait to get to Kevin and find out which side I end up on!

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    • So many people have recommended A Dark-Adapted Eye to me over the years, so I have high hopes, especially since I love the actress who’s narrating it! Haha, at the rate I’m abandoning books these days, that is a realistic possibility… 😉

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  6. I look forward to your review on Rabbit, Run. It’s been on my shelf for decades (and is now on my CC list) and I wonder if it’s one I should have read at the time I got it. I have a feeling at my advance age I might not have the same tolerance for the main character as I might have back in the day.

    On a side note… I preordered the BL anthology Future Crimes and I got a notification yesterday that my order had been cancelled, it was no longer available! 😒

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve read many of Ruth Rendell’s, so I suspect the audio will be a good listen. As for the others, I’ll be interested in reading your reviews first. Up three? Oh my. Have another piece of chocolate — you’ve earned it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read a few Rendells, but never any of her Barbara Vine books so I’m looking forward to this one. I do like the narrator – one of my favourite actresses though she’s probably not well known on your side of the pond. Haha, I knew the TBR would start going up again at some point – I have no willpower!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I just don’t understand why the aliens keep picking on me – it’s so unfair! 👽 I haven’t read any of her Barbara Vine books, though I’ve read a few Rendells, so I’m intrigued – and I do love Harriet Walter, both as actress and narrator.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m interested to see what you think of Kevin (and then the film!), I haven’t read Rabbit Run but it’s always at the back of my mind – I’ll wait and see what you make of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can’t wait to get to Kevin – even if I end up hating it, I feel I’m going to enjoy hating it… 😉 Rabbit, Run is one of those very American books, and my track record with them is mixed, to say the least! But I’m looking forward to reading it anyway…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The thing about Kevin is you need to stick with it when you want to give up 😂 I really wanted to DNF it at first, but I ended up giving it 5 stars cos by the end it had blown my mind. Hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I shall remember your advice if it all gets too much in the early stages! I’m fascinated by how everyone who has read it seems to have had such a strong reaction to it one way or the other. Can’t wait to get to it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ooohh The Turnout looks very appealing to me. I think I’ve read one of Abbott’s books before (is she American?), and I didn’t mind it, so I have high hopes for this one too. Inexplicably, I’m intrigued by this dance school setting too – I think ballet dancers are so disciplined, they’re tougher than lots of us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, she is American, and often writes about girls or young women in one of these fields that involves extreme physical dedication, like gymnastics or cheerleading, etc. I should be starting it today…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read a few Rendells but also never tries a Vine – those in the know tell me this is one of the best! Hahaha, whether I love or hate Kevin, I’m glad he won since I want to know why everybody reacts so strongly to it! 😀

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