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…
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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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
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.
June – The 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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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.
Gibraltar – Killing 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!