TBR Thursday 315…

Episode 315

Oh, no! The TBR has gone up again, by another 3 to 185! What’s going on?? Well, actually what’s going on is the Australian Open, which means I’ve had to go nocturnal, which means I’m an exhausted stupefied zombie most of the time, which means I’m hardly reading, which means I’m falling behind! So, in short, it’s this man’s fault!

Here are a few more I’ll be reading soon, if I can stay awake… 

Winner of the People’s Choice

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

There were only two books in the running right from the off this time and although Nine Coaches Waiting ran a good race, the winner took an early lead and stretched it throughout, romping home with several lengths to spare. I’m looking forward to this one which, as well as being the People’s Choice for April, is one of the books on my brand spanking new Classics Club list. Excellent choice, People!

The Blurb says: It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves.

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English Classic

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

The last of the English classics on my first Classics Club list, I’ve been saving this re-read for a special reward to myself for reaching the end. (I still have three others to read, but because this one is the longest and I plan to read it slowly and savour it, I anticipate it’ll be the one I finish last.) I know this one isn’t a favourite for a lot of Austen fans, but I love it…

The Blurb says: Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawfords arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation.

Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

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Scottish Classic

No Mean City by A. McArthur and H. Kingsley Long

The second last of my Scottish classics, and one of those books I don’t expect to enjoy at all but feel I ought to have read. (*sigh* I wish I could stop feeling that way about books – I blame John Knox.) However, my low expectations mean that if it surprises me, it can only be in a good way!

The Blurb says: No book is more associated with the city of Glasgow than No Mean City. First published in 1935, it is the story of Johnnie Stark, son of a violent father and a downtrodden mother, the ‘Razor King’ of Glasgow’s pre-war slum underworld, the Gorbals. The savage, near-truth descriptions, the raw character portrayals, bring to life a story that is fascinating, authentic and convincing.

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Vintage Crime

Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley

Courtesy of the British Library. I’ve had a mixed reaction to Anthony Berkeley, but more positive than otherwise, so I’m looking forward to this one. I don’t think I’ve read any of his “inverted mysteries” before – a subgenre that can be great… or not great! We’ll see…

The Blurb says: At a costume party with the dubious theme of ‘famous murderers and their victims’, the know-it-all amateur criminologist Roger Sheringham is settled in for an evening of beer, small talk and analysing his companions. One guest in particular has caught his attention for her theatrics, and his theory that she might have several enemies among the partygoers proves true when she is found hanging from the ‘decorative’ gallows on the roof terrace.

Noticing a key detail which could implicate a friend in the crime, Sheringham decides to meddle with the scene and unwittingly casts himself into jeopardy as the uncommonly thorough police investigation circles closer and closer to the truth. Tightly paced and cleverly defying the conventions of the classic detective story, this 1933 novel remains a milestone of the inverted mystery subgenre.

* * * * *

Scottish Crime

Still Life by Val McDermid

I really enjoyed the first few in McDermid’s Karen Pirie series, but the last couple have been too full of pro-separatist polemics and sycophantic adulation of her personal friend, our First Minister, (an adulation I do not share). (Isn’t it annoying when people who have chosen to be educated outside their country and then live outside their country and write about another country for most of their lives feel they have the right to tell those of us who have actually made our lives here how we should vote?) This one is make or break time – if it’s more of the same then it’ll be the last McDermid I read, but if she’s taken note of the criticism that many other Scots as well as myself have made over her thumping her political views at us, then I’ll be delighted to continue. It’s up to you, Ms McDermid… 

The Blurb says: When a lobster fisherman discovers a dead body in Scotland’s Firth of Forth, Karen is called into investigate. She quickly discovers that the case will require untangling a complicated web—including a historic disappearance, art forgery, and secret identities—that seems to orbit around a painting copyist who can mimic anyone from Holbein to Hockney. Meanwhile, a traffic crash leads to the discovery of a skeleton in a suburban garage. Needless to say, Karen has her plate full. Meanwhile, the man responsible for the death of the love of her life is being released from prison, reopening old wounds just as she was getting back on her feet.

Tightly plotted and intensely gripping, Still Life is Val McDermid at her best, and new and longtime readers alike will delight in the latest addition to this superior series.

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

* * * * *

As promised, here is your reminder of the forthcoming Review-Alongs

16th February 2022 – Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Kelly and I have also agreed to do a mini Review-Along in March, which you are more than welcome to join if you fancy it…

23rd March 2022 – The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

And after that, the next Review-Along is…

20th April 2022 – Notre-Dame de Paris/The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

53 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 315…

  1. I’ll look out for your review of Hanging Rock; Mansfield Park—that was on my list to reread last year (I read it for the first and only time when in university) but I only got as far as pulling it out f my shelf

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        • Emma is my least favourite, though that still puts it head and shoulders above most books. Like you I enjoy the other characters, but Emma herself annoys me too much and I don’t like the Frank Churchill storyline much either.

          Liked by 1 person

          • My least favourite is Sense and Sensibility because Marianne really irritates me 🙂 Emma is certainly annoying but I find the others like Mr Knightley (the brother in law), Mr Woodhouse and Ms Bates lots of fun

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ha, I know what you mean about Marianne but I love S&S – I love Elinor and Colonel Brandon, and Lucy Steele, and of course I love to despise Willoughby! It’s the same with Dickens – it’s usually all the secondary characters I enjoy more than the main ones.

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  2. Those pesky time changes are not your fault, FictionFan! And after all, you do need to watch! At any rate, I’m glad Picnic… is coming up soon on your list. I’ll be very interested in getting your view of that one. It’s not a long book, but it is eerie and has a solid sense of atmosphere. The rest of these look good, and, after all, you basically can’t go wrong (re)reading Austen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is time Australia stopped playing all these games in the middle of the night! I’m looking forward to Picnic – one I’ve been meaning to read for ages. And it’s far too long since my last Austen re-read, so that will be a treat… if I veer actually finish any of the books I’m reading now… 😉

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  3. tempted by Rafa yes! That’s a very good idea to leave a reward for yourself, I’m going to do that with my next list and thanks for the date for Hunchback, it’s in the diary!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must admit I’m down to the dregs on my first list now so I need a reward! How I’m going to finish Dickens, read Austen and still have time to read The Hunchback by the deadline is one of those maths problems even the greatest minds can’t resolve… 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Well, gee, I’m surprised you’re reading (and reviewing) at all, considering the Aussie Open and all! I’ll be interested in reading your reviews, especially of The Picnic, but alas, I’m holding fast to not adding more to my TBR until I get a few off it first. Wish me well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, good luck with that ambition – if you succeed you’ll need to give me tips! 😉 Fortunately I have a huge backlog of reviews which is just as well since I haven’t finished a book for ages!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve certainly got plenty to keep you going, thanks for the reminder of the dates for the reviewalongs, I have the Baldwin and Hugo books ready to start soon. I may have said before, Mansfield Park is one of my favorite Austens, and I have always been something of a Fanny Price apologist, we can’t all be Lizzy Bennet after all, wonderful as she is. As for Val McDermid, I used to like her, but have kinda lost touch with her novels in recent years, so didn’t realise she was starting to use them as a means of bashing people over the head with her political opinions. Plus, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Nichola Sturgeon, but that is probably a whole other conversation.

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    • I’m ready to go with the review-along books too, just as soon as the tennis finishes! Though how I’m going to finish Dickens, read Mansfield Park and then read The Hunchback all in time for the deadline still has to be worked out! I love Fanny too and think she gets overlooked – she’s got a quiet strength about her. I’ve enjoyed McDermid on and off over the years, though her Tony Hill books got too gory and ridiculous for me. But this new series set in Scotland started out great until she started letting her political opinions take over. I might feel differently if I agreed with her, but I don’t think I would. I feel authors should maintain a healthy distance from politicians, and certainly not become cheer-leaders for them. As for Sturgeon, it beats me why so many people find her impressive…

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  6. Are you making a new resolution to stop reading books that disgust you? I had wanted to read Baldwin’s book, but I’m not sure I’ll get to it by mid February. I just took on two more work-for-hire projects, and I may not have time. I hope to read it, though…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, the problem is not knowing whether they will until I start reading them! 😉 Well, it’ll be great if you can fit it in, but no worries if you can’t. Not sure work should ever be allowed to take priority over reading though… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read Mansfield Park already, so I’m tempted by Jumping Jenny..
    I am shocked that your TBR went up, especially after books like the one you reviewed the other day.. I guess it is safe to say that you did not acquire another book by him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, it goes up without me actively doing anything as books randomly pop through the letterbox! I love the title Jumping Jenny, and feel I’ll need some nice vintage crime to help me recover from the tennis exhaustion… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Several of these look good, but I’ll just have to enjoy them through your reviews. I’m aiming for all three review-along books (two will count for my Classics list – hooray!), plus I still have my monthly book club selections. And here I sit reading blogs instead of books… 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I know – I have no idea how I’m going to fit in all the review-along books considering how far behind I’ve already fallen this year, but no doubt it’ll all work out in the end! 😉 All three of them are from my Classics Club lists, old and new, so I’m onto a winner!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have only read Mansfield Park once, which makes it and Northanger Abbey my least-read Austens – I’m overdue for a re-read of both. Perhaps for my next CC List!

    And thank you for the date on Hunchback of Notre Dame – that gives me an idea of when I need to start reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love both Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey so I’m right behind the idea of you putting them on your next CC list! I feel it’s been ages since I read an Austen – too long. Ha, I have no idea how I’m going to finish Dickens, read Austen and still meet the deadline for The Hunchback, but miracles do happen… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Always happy to see Mansfield Park getting some love – it was my favourite as a teenager and still holds a special place in my heart! And I’m looking forward to your review of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad Fanny has another fan! I always feel she doesn’t get enough appreciation because she’s quieter than some of the other heroines, but she has a lot of strength of character! I’m looking forward to finally reading Picnic at Hanging Rock at last…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I know – he doesn’t care at all about my problem! Men – tchah! 😉 I’m looking forward to finally reading Picnic at Hanging Rock at last, and the vintage crimes are always fun – well, nearly always!

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  11. Definitely read the Austen. At one level it’s a Cinderella story but not only does it have amateur dramatics going wrong, there may be closet criticism of the slave trade, with a character — Mrs Morris — whose name was purloined by Rowling for a spiteful cat, were elements which may have inspired the strand of Hermione Grainger campaigning on behalf of the Hogwarts house elves in one of the Harry Potter instalments. My review ( if that helps to persuade): https://wp.me/p2oNj1-1mO

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    • It will be a re-read for me – I feel as if I remember it being pretty casually accepting of slavery, but I’ll pay more attention this time! Ha, I certainly missed the Harry Potter connection! Thanks for the link – I’ll pop over shortly… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m appreciating the extra incentive to read Baldwin’s book as I’ve had this intention for too long. I’m also looking forward to your Picnic and No Mean City reviews, to see if they bring a similar prompt to read. And of course, it is time for another Austin (re)read – this author was a gap in my reading for too long.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Baldwin has been lingering on my TBR for years too, so it will be good to finally read it. I’m hoping to like Picnic, but I suspect I’ll struggle with No Mean City – it’s a classic more because of the subject matter than the writing, I think. It’s been a few years since my last Austen re-read which is unusual for me – I rarely go more than a couple of years without re-reading one of them. I blame the TBR!

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  13. Oh horrors! I’m tempted by all of your upcoming books. Luckily I’ve already read Picnic (suggest you start reading it on Valentines Day if you can swing it) and have Mansfield Park on my own Classics Club list.
    I’m very amused by you putting McDermid on notice, she can’t say she hasn’t been warned. Couldn’t agree more with expats voting and opinionising (if that isn’t a word it should be, unless there is another?) when they live somewhere else. Especially when they often don’t even pay taxes in the country of birth. Tennis players included.

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    • Oh, intriguing – I shall try to start it on Valentine’s Day if I can! Austen is such a pleasure and I feel it’s been too long since I last re-read one of them!
      Haha, I think she’s had quite a bit of criticism for the way she fawns over the First Minister – it’s pretty nauseating! But she’s so successful I suspect she doesn’t much care what her readers think any more. Yes, indeed, and in Scotland we have more than our fair share of them, all living in their tax havens or London or Hollywood and telling us what we should do! Sean Connery and Billy Connolly to mention but two, or at least when Connery was alive! Connery used to make massive donations to the SNP, although he never paid taxes here, or anywhere if he could get away with it. I reckon you shouldn’t be allowed to make donations to any political party in a country you don’t live in…

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      • I’ve read stories about successful Australian business people who don’t pay tax as somehow they have got their income below a taxable level, but who donate extraordinary amounts to their preferred political party.
        I think I knew that Sean Connery lived somewhere else to avoid paying taxes, but I didn’t know that Billy Connolly did. I’m so disappointed to hear it. He’s always been a great favourite in Australia.
        Australians have always gone overseas to ‘make it big’ but I get particularly annoyed by sportspeople who made use of tax payer money in sports academies and grants, while they were a junior or until they started making money, but once they do they become resident of tax havens such as the Bahamas. Yes, it’s legal, but is it right? Not in my eyes.

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        • That happens here too. It’s amazing how all these rich people don’t seem to earn enough to pay tax, isn’t it? Poor souls! To be fair to Billy Connolly, I don’t think he left to avoid paying tax, but he’s lived in the US for decades and still pontificates about a Scotland that has changed out of all recognition since he was a boy here. I wouldn’t mind except that some people are actually influenced by these celebs. And yes, I agree about sportspeople who get support and then go abroad to avoid tax. It annoys me with doctors and nurses too, who get free education over here, decent salaries while they finish their training, and then are free to swan off all around the world. If it was up to me they’d have to agree to work for at least five years in the NHS or pay back the cost of their training.

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