TBR Thursday (on a Tuesday) 338 and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

At the New Year, as I do every year, I set myself some targets for my various reading challenges and for the reduction of my ever-expanding TBR. I’ve been reading up a storm recently (Editor’s note: I wrote this before Wimbledon crashed my reading to zero) and have banned myself from acquiring books from NetGalley for a few months (Editor’s note: I wrote this before acquiring two books from NetGalley this week) to catch up with all my other reading. Has it worked?

Here goes, then – the second check-in of the year…

Woohoo! I don’t think I’ve ever been this much on target halfway through the year! I have reduced the target for the Spanish Civil War challenge – see below – and the Wanderlust challenge is still wandering on, six months after the original deadline. But overall I’m happy with these figures.

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The Classics Club

I’ve been racing through my new Classics Club list so far, partly because a couple of the recent People’s Choices have been CC books. I’ve read five this quarter and had three left still to review at the end of last quarter, including the final two for my first list. I’m finally up to date with CC reviews, for the first time in ages…

First List

89. Children of the Dead End by Patrick MacGill – Ugh! I abandoned this misogynistic fictionalised memoir halfway through. Mr MacGill dislikes women nearly as much as I dislike him. 1 star.

90. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – I saved this re-read of a favourite as a treat for myself for finishing the first list, and a treat it certainly was! 5 stars.

90 down, 0 to go!

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Second List

2. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay – A deliciously ambiguous story of missing girls, that manages to be entertaining and unsettling in equal parts. 5 stars.

3. Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo – After way too much architectural detail in the first half, the thrilling story in the second half won me over! I also enjoyed reading this along with fellow bloggers in a Review-Along. 5 stars.

4. Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth – This satire on Anglo-Irish landowners is a rather slight novella, mildly entertaining, but I felt it didn’t live up to its reputation. 3 stars.

5. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens – although this re-read was my annual Christmas Dickens, I didn’t get around to reviewing it until May! As always, a great read, even though it’s not quite in Dickens’ top rank. 4 Dickensian stars, which glow brighter than normal stars.

6. The Painted Veil by W Somerset Maugham –  Set in colonial Hong Kong, this tells the story of initially empty-headed Kitty Fane when her husband drags her into a cholera zone in China. Well-written and thought-provoking. 4½ stars.

7. Vanish in an Instant by Margaret Millar – dark but not quite noir, this is well written, and alongside the murder mystery element takes a thoughtful look at the shame of a respectable woman succumbing to alcoholism in her later life. 4 stars.

One or two duds, but mostly some great reading in this quarter’s classics reading!

7 down, 73 to go!

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

I’ve read three for this challenge this quarter and had two left still to review from the quarter before. I’ve reviewed three and still have another two not yet reviewed…

49. The Z Murders by J Jefferson Farjeon. More a thriller than a mystery, involving a chase across England in pursuit of a lurid serial killer. Fast-paced and entertaining. 4 stars.

50. The Grell Mystery by Frank Froest. Written by a genuine ex-top cop, this has too much of a feel of being a memoir for it to work well as a mystery novel. Interesting rather than entertaining. 3 stars.

51. The House by the River by AP Herbert. A great little story about the psychological effects of murder on the murderer and his loyal friend, unfortunately buried in a mass of description and digression. 2½ stars.

Still very much a mixed bag, this challenge, and I’m considering giving it up once I’ve read the remaining books I’ve already acquired for it.

51 down, 51 to go!

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Reading the Spanish Civil War Challenge

I’ve started plenty of books for this challenge, but most of them have ended up on the abandoned heap pretty quickly. I finished just one…

10. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Zafón does a wonderful job of depicting a city in the aftermath of civil war, but first and foremost this is a great story, wonderfully told. 5 stars.

As a result of my increasing disappointment and irritation with many of my choices for this challenge, I’ve decided to read the remaining three books I already own, cancel the other ones from my wishlist, and then draw a line under it.

10 down, 3 to go!

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The People’s Choice

People's Choice Logo

I’ve read three and reviewed three – hurrah, I’m still on track with this challenge! So did You, The People, pick me some good ones…?

April – Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. Plenty of layers in this ambiguous tale – mild horror, some humour, and a true mystery at its heart. 5 stars.

May – The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton – A book that follows the plot of Vanity Fair remarkably closely – very remarkably closely – and yet fails to duplicate any of the humour or insightful satire of the original. A generous 2 stars.

JuneThe Painted Veil by W Somerset Maugham. An excellent character study combined with a colonial setting in this tale of a woman who traps herself in marriage to a man she doesn’t love. 4½ stars.

Two out of three ain’t bad! Well done, People – you did great! Keep up the good work! 😉

6 down, 6 to go!

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Wanderlust Bingo

I’ve read three books for this challenge this quarter and had one still to review from the previous quarter. I’ve reviewed three, with one still to come. The blue boxes are books from previous quarters, and the orange are the ones I’m adding this quarter. If you click on the bingo card you should get a larger version.

GibraltarKilling Rock by Robert Daws – 5 stars. The unique setting of this last outpost of Empire provides an added level of interest to this police procedural series. I’ve slotted it into the Free Square.

Sahara/North Africa – Biggles Defends the Desert by Capt WE Johns – 5 stars.  A WW2 adventure for flying ace Biggles and his squadron, as they fight to ensure the safety of Allied planes crossing the desert. Unsurprisingly, I’m slotting it into the Desert box!

Hong Kong/China – The Painted Veil by W Somerset Maugham – 4½ stars. The colonial backdrop of Hong Kong provides the initial setting while the meat of the story takes place in the Chinese interior, so a perfect fit for the Far East box.

Three excellent books this quarter but this challenge is cursed! I keep picking interesting looking books that turn out to be duds. So I’m dropping my initial plan to fill all the boxes only with books I recommend or I could still be trying to fill the last three boxes sometime in the next millennium!

22 down, 3 to go!

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Overall, a great quarter and I’ve made some progress on all my challenges – hurrah! Thanks as always for sharing my reading experiences!

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

32 thoughts on “TBR Thursday (on a Tuesday) 338 and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. Sounds like you’ve had a pretty good quarter’s worth of reading! Until Wimbledon, at least. Hope you enjoyed the tennis – I thought it was a great tournament, though I must say I was relieved when it was over and didn’t have to listen to any more adoring commentary/justifications for Kyrgios’s behaviour, which got a bit wearing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed it too this year – lots of good matches. I was sorry about Rafa of course, but at least he had some great performances before he had to pull out. As for Kyrgios, I think I’m going to have to stop watching him – I find him unbearable. There have always been bad boys, and usually they don’t bother me too much. But for some reason I can’t seem to make any allowances for him. Ha, and yes, if Andrew Castle had called him “admirable” once more I might have put my foot through the TV!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am impressed, FictionFan! You’re really doing so well with your challenges! Cake for you! I think you’re wise to adapt the Spanish Civil War challenge as needed. The idea is that you enjoy the reading experience. If it’s not working for you as originally planned, then a change is indicated. But – er – don’t think we didn’t see that note about those two Netgalley arrivals slipped in there… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m surprising myself with how well I’m doing on all my targets this year – it’s so unlike me! 😉 Yes. it’s a pity about the Spanish Civil War books, but I’ve had a few great reads so it’s better to stop before I get any more irritated by it. Haha, it wasn’t my fault! As soon as I banned myself from NetGalley they suddenly started listing irresistible books – what’s a girl to do?? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing progress FF! I think you’re right to end the challenges you’re not enjoying so much – no need to torture yourself. I was tempted by the MMM if I ever finish my challenges (I won’t) but now I think maybe I’ll just dip in to the list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, when a challenge begins to feel like a drag rather than a pleasure then it’s better to stop, though I find it hard to do! I’ve had lots of good reads through the MMM challenge but also lots of really poor ones. Martin Edwards does say these are not his 100 “best” novels, but I genuinely can’t see why he’s included some of them. However I’ve still got several on the TBR and who knows, maybe they’ll all be five star reads and reignite my enthusiasm!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re doing marvelously! Good on you for cutting down on a category that irritated you. Life is too short to be irritated like that (when you don’t have to put up with it).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m surprising myself this year – it’s so unlike me to be doing well with my targets! I must be ill… 😉 Yes, the challenges are supposed to be fun, so there’s no point struggling on when they’ve stopped being. Leaves more room for new challenges, anyway… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on your progress, FF — and to think you still managed to watch Wimbledon! Of course, Rafa had to pull out, so perhaps you did some of that reading while the TV was playing in the background??!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I hardly read at all during Wimbledon so I’m behind again! It was a shame about Rafa but at least he had a couple of great matches before he had to pull out. It was a good tournament this year – apart from Kyrgios!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m saying nothing, especially after leaving a completely mistyped comment on your blog yesterday! I meant to say Covid was “raging again” here, but for some reason it came out as “raining”! I blame the keyboard… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I wrote the post about two weeks ago and when I went back into read it before posting it I realised that almost everything I had said in that little introduction was now completely wrong! 😂 Never mind, I’m still feeling quite smug about the fact that I’m doing reasonably well with my targets so far this year. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It looks like a great report! Hopefully the tennis pause didn’t do too much damage when all is said and done. I read a crime series that takes place in Brazil, if you get desperate for something for your South America block. Also… I could make a suggestion for Forest, but it might be too much of a chunkster (and maybe not your cup of tea).

    I failed to mention in your narrator post yesterday that I sure wish you’d listened to The Paris Apartment so I’d know if the narrators were a bit odd or if it was just me, There were times I wanted to laugh at some of the accents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still managed to listen to some audio books while the tennis was on but real books seem to have been left behind again! I’ve got books lined up for the remaining three slots for the Wanderlust challenge but to be honest I’m not very enthusiastic about any of them and I suspect some of them may end up on the abandoned pile. If the South American one doesn’t work out I’ll let you know and take you up on the offer of a recommendation! I feel a bit more confident about the one I’ve got for Forest, but we’ll see.

      Haha, I find accents in audio books really off-putting. I really prefer listening to things like Agatha Christie where no one has an accent, or the classics where the same usually applies. As soon as a narrator starts doing Liverpudlian or Glaswegian I’m certain to start getting irritated… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You’re doing really well – much better than me! As for the Wanderlust Bingo I seem to have lost my lust for it – I still have 10 squares left to fill, including the free square. I don’t like/want to give up – but realistically, I don’t know …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I’m surprised that I’m doing this well and don’t expect it to last! 😉 Oh yes, give up on the Wanderlust if you’ve lost the notion for it. It turned out to be much harder than I intended and I’m tired of trying to fill those last boxes myself! I’ll stick it out since I only have three to go, but I’ll be heartily glad to finish!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, look at you go! Very impressive 🙂
    Glad you enjoyed Wimbledon. I didn’t watch much because I have no time for Kyrgios. Apparently he had a moan because Australians weren’t getting behind him. I can’t think why not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know – I’m feeling smug! But it won’t last… 😉
      There were some great matches along the way, especially a couple of Rafa’s before he had to retire. But I can’t stand Kyrgios and think I’ll have to stop watching his matches – there’s no pleasure in them once he starts acting up. Yes, he seems very arrogant, as if everyone should just tolerate his behaviour, but it’s not even as if he ever wins anything! Wonder what will happen in the court case…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully Rafa will be recovered for the US Open, although I think there was something on the news today about him being out for 4-6 weeks.
        As for Kyrgios, who knows? But it will be the headline here when it goes to court.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rafa should probably have stopped when it happened instead of going on to play for another couple of hours, but it’s that refusal to give up that I love him for! Hope he makes it for the US. Yes, I expect the Kyrgios case will make headlines around the world!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Your smugness is justified. I always love your round-ups regardless of how well you’re doing but this is one of the best. Very well done! 👏👏 Think you earned that tennis break 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! *curtseys” I have no idea why I’m doing so well this year – it’s very unlike me! It won’t last… 😉 Wimbledon was great and despite the ongoing pandemic it was nice to see the crowds back (though I wouldn’t have wanted to be in them!)

      Liked by 1 person

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