TBR Thursday 312 and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

I usually include a summary of how I’m progressing (or not) towards the targets I set myself for the year, but since I’ll be looking at my New Year’s Resolutions old and new tomorrow, I’ll leave that for then. So just a round-up of the books I’ve read and reviewed for my various ongoing challenges this time.

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The Classics Club

I’ve read four from my Classics Club list this quarter, but have only reviewed one so far…

81. The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw – This story of three young men and their experiences serving in the Second World War is wonderful – harrowing, thought-provoking, emotional and beautifully written. 5 stars.

I abandoned The Drowned World by JG Ballard, since death by drowning began to seem preferable to death by boredom. Rather than search out yet another SF “classic”, I’ve decided to swap in a book I’d already read and enjoyed…

82. The Society of Time by John Brunner – A trilogy of stories set in an alternative history where the Spanish Armada won and Britain became a colony of the Spanish Empire, this provides an interesting look at how our present is very much determined by our past. 4 stars.

Only a couple of reviews then, but The Young Lions by itself made it a great quarter for classics!

82 down, 8 to go!

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

I’ve read two from this challenge this quarter and reviewed them both…

47. Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare – Hare takes us into the even then rather archaic and now defunct world of the Assizes – a system of travelling justice – for this very enjoyable mystery. 5 stars.

48. Tracks in the Snow by Godfrey R Benson – Dull, plodding, repetitive and riddled with plot holes, apparently this was the only mystery novel Benson wrote, and I can only say that I am heartily glad of that. 2 stars.

48 down, 54 to go!

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Reading the Spanish Civil War Challenge

I’ve only read one for this challenge this quarter, which I haven’t yet reviewed. However I had two still to review from the quarter before…

7.  Franco: A Personal and Political Biography by Stanley G Payne and Jesús Palacios – All-in-all, I learned a lot from this about Franco’s life, personality, politics and the powerful people in his court, but rather less about Spain under his rule than I had expected to. Although I felt sure the book was factually accurate, I found it hard to discount the obvious pro-Franco bias and this made me dubious about some of the authors’ interpretations. 3½ stars.

8. Nada by Carmen Laforet – In this story set in Barcelona under Franco’s post-war dictatorship, Laforet creates an atmosphere of almost hallucinatory, slightly nightmarish unreality which I felt was very effective in symbolising a city coming to terms with the after-effects of a war where the citizens had fought and killed each other in the streets only a few years earlier.

Hoping to pick up the pace on this challenge next year with lots of fiction to come.

8 down, indefinite number to go!

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The People’s Choice

People's Choice Logo

I’m up to date with this challenge! I read three this month and still had one to review from last quarter. Did You, The People, pick me some good ones…?

September – Knock, Murderer, Knock by Harriet Rutland – Set in a Hydro hotel, this is quite a fun mystery in the typical Golden Age style. The setting means there is a small circle of suspects, each with secrets and possible motives, while the police detective soon has to give way to a talented amateur. 4 stars.

October – Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson – Set in Iceland, the basic plot of the book is quite interesting and the last third is comparatively fast-paced as all the different strands finally come together. But oh dear, it’s hopelessly repetitive and it took all my willpower to stick it out to the end. 2½ (generous) stars.

NovemberGorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith – By 19%, three unidentified corpses, no suspects, no plot, two beatings, one naked woman, and endless lectures about Soviet history and how awful life is under Soviet rule. Abandoned because they still haven’t invented a vaccine for boredom. 1 star.

DecemberWe Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. When you start fantasising about the main character being murdered, then it’s probably time to stop reading. Abandoned at 35%. 1 star.

Well, okay, from one perspective Your Choices may not have been hugely successful. But on the other hand, look at all the awful books You’ve helped get off my TBR! Way to go, People!

12 down, 0 to go!

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Wanderlust Bingo

I’ve read several books for this challenge this quarter, some of which didn’t quite fit the boxes as I’d hoped and a couple of which I didn’t enjoy and abandoned. But with a bit of juggling I’ve still managed to fill five boxes and have another two reviews to come. So much better, but still way behind, and in conjunction with Margaret at BooksPlease, who’s also doing this challenge, we’ve agreed to forget the official end date of the end of 2021 and simply leave it open – we’ll finish when we finish! I have books lined up for every missing box, so fingers crossed for no more abandonments! The dark blue boxes are books from previous quarters, and the orange are the ones I’m adding this quarter. I still might shuffle them again before the end so this is all quite tentative at this stage. (If you click on the bingo card you should get a larger version.)

New Zealand – Pūrakāu edited by Witi Ihimaera and Whiti Hereaka – 3 stars. What could be more appropriate for the Oceania slot than this collection of updated Māori myths?

Universe – Spaceworlds edited by Mike Ashley – 4½ stars. A collection of vintage science fiction stories based on the theme of living in space, either on space stations or ships, neatly fills the Space slot.

AustriaSnow Country by Sebastian Faulks – 5 stars. The main setting of this novel is the Schloss Seeblick, a kind of mental health sanatorium in a mountain valley in Carinthia, so perfect for the Mountain slot.

GreenlandSeven Graves, One Winter by Christoffer Petersen – 4½ stars. A murder mystery set partly in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, and partly in a small village in the very north of the island ticks off the Polar Regions slot.

IsraelThe Twisted Wire by Richard Falkirk – 4 stars.  This is an action thriller set in Israel at the height of the Middle East conflict of the late 60s/early 70s, so a nice fit for the Middle East slot.

Still a long, long way to go, but still travelling hopefully…

15 down, 10 to go!

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A better quarter, making progress on all my challenges for once! Thanks as always for sharing my reading experiences!

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

41 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 312 and Quarterly Round-Up

    • Haha, yes, but to be fair you only get to choose from books I’ve foolishly added to my TBR in the past so I take full responsibility! I have high hopes for the next few though – I’m sure You, the People, will have redeemed yourselves… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I give you a lot of credit for taking on these challenges, FIctionFan! And they’re such different sorts of challenges, too, which is also interesting. You’ve reminded me, as well, that I very much want to read Tragedy at Law. You’re not the only one I trust who’s recommended it. As for The People’s Choice…. we try – we really do! Hopefully we’ll hit the mark more often in the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The challenges stop me from getting into too much of a rut in my reading, which I have a tendency to do if I’m not careful! Tragedy at Law is great – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The stuff about the Assizes is interesting and the characterisation is very good. Haha, I know – You, the People, do your very best, but you can only choose form the list I give you so I take full responsibility for when it all goes horribly wrong… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I love The Day of the Triffids too! In general I’ve struggled with a lot of the SF classics I chose for my list – I’ve had some great reads but some awful ones too. At least I have a better idea of which authors work for me now though!

      Thanks for popping in and commenting! 😀

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    • Haha, you’ll be glad to hear I’ve read January’s People’s Choice already and thoroughly enjoyed it! And I have high hopes for the next couple too, so I suspect You, the People, will be able to feel a bit more smug at the next quarterly review… 😉

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    • Taking on the challenges is easy, and making the lists for them is so much fun! The only difficult part is actually getting round to reading them… 😉 Haha, the People’s Choice has had a disappointing run but I’m sure You, the People, have picked some goodies for the start of 2022! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems to have been a bit of a mixed bag this quarter, but congratulations on being able to fill in a few slots on each of your challenges, you certainly have loads to keep track of. Too bad about People’s Choice, the last few rounds seem to been something of a disaster, but hopefully you will trust us to tune in better to your tastes for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, a few great books, a few terrible ones, but not too many that were just average which actually annoy me more than the bad ones! Haha, the People’s Choice has certainly had a disappointing run, but I’m feeling confident about the next few! I’ve already read January’s and *spoiler alert* thoroughly enjoyed it, and March’s is a re-read so I know I’ll like it. Next quarter You, the People, will be able to feel a bit more smug… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It does appear that the challenge you’ve done the best with is the one we (the people) have done the worst with! Good job on getting those books off the TBR!

    I’m looking forward to seeing what will fill the blank spaces in your Wanderlust Bingo. I can’t help but look at the card and think how I’d fill it in…. but I don’t need another challenge! Between my book club, RIP in the fall, and now Classics Club, I have my hands full!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes – having forced you all to vote I feel obliged to make sure I read and review them. I should get you to vote on all the other challenges too! 😉 But the next few People’s Choice books are looking good…

      The Wanderlust Bingo has been much harder than I meant it to be – some of those boxes have been hard to fill and I’ve abandoned quite a few books I’d picked just because they were in a desert or up a mountain, etc! I might do something similar but easier in the future so maybe I’ll tempt you then… but having too many challenges on the go can be a problem… *she said, sobbing* 😉

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        • Haha, I was waiting with bated breath for that third word! 😉 That is a box I had a problem with in fact. I read Run, Rabbit thinking it was a road novel but turns out it’s not! I’ve just started reading Lincoln Highway which again I think is a road trip and hopefully I should enjoy it since I’ve enjoyed Amor Towles before. But if it is yet another dud for any reason I shall take your recommendation – I never thought those two categories of US and road trip would turn out to be difficult!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, some of mine are so old now they’re yellowing round the edges – the vintage crime one for instance should have finished last year but I’m still only halfway through it! But ’tis better to travel hopefully… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Wanderlust Bingo Challenge is fiendishly fascinating me. I have some books earmarked for some of my remaining boxes – but not all of them. It will take me some time before I complete it, but it’s most satisfying each time I find one and it is taking me to books I’d not thought of reading before.

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    • Haha, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Me too, although I’m finding some for the boxes much harder to fill than I expected. That’s what I liked about the Around the World challenge when I did it – that it led me to unexpected books – and why I wanted to do another “travelling” challenge. Otherwise I find it too easy to stay snugly in my British Isles comfort zone. 😀

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      • Yes, this really is a ‘challenge’, unlike most of the others, which for me at any rate are another way of recording what I’d read anyway. And, like you, it takes me out of my British Isles comfort zone. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there were a few disasters in there, but it’s the great ones I’ll remember! 😀 Haha, I can well imagine – that’s how I feel about all these crime novels set in my home town of Glasgow… 😉

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    • Haha, I always feel that if I spent less time on my spreadsheets and more time reading I do better with my targets, but I’d have much less fun!
      I was delighted that Margaret seemed to be having as much difficulty as me completing this target, so I think we were both glad to agree to extend it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It does seem like you’ve had a bit of an unfortunate streak of reading these past few months – as in books that ended up being wastes of time – but so glad that you can get these off your TBR once and for all. Plus, they are off my imaginary TBR of “I really should read this” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! I do enjoy the “challenge” books – they often lead me to some of the more interesting reads of the year. Nada has stayed with me too, but unfortunately I can’t find any of her other books easily available in translation. I’ll keep looking though!

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