TBR Thursday 339…

Episode 339

Due to me spending so much time listening to audiobooks for the 20 (Audio)Books Of Summer challenge, not to mention Wimbledon, my reading of “proper” books has slumped dramatically, yet they continue to pop through the letterbox! Result – the TBR is up 7 to 178! Help!! I knew it would all start to go wrong again…

Here are a few more that should reach the top of the pile soon…

Vintage Crime Anthology

Bodies from the Library 5 edited by Tony Medawar

Courtesy of Collins Crime Club. I’m always delighted when one of this series of anthologies pops through the door, so I’m glad to see the publisher describing them as “annual” in the blurb, suggesting they intend to continue producing them…

The Blurb says: The Golden Age still casts a long shadow, with many of the authors who were published at that time still hugely popular today. Aside from novels, they all wrote short fiction – stories, serials and plays – and although many have been republished in books over the last 100 years, Bodies from the Library collects the ones that are impossible to find: stories that appeared in a newspaper, magazine or an anthology that has long been out of print; ephemeral works such as plays not aired, staged or screened for decades; and unpublished stories that were absorbed into an author’s archive when they died . . .

Complete with fascinating biographies by Tony Medawar of all the featured authors, this latest volume in the annual Bodies from the Library series once again brings into the daylight the forgotten, the lost and the unknown, and is an indispensable collection for any bookshelf.

Historical Fiction

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Courtesy of Serpent’s Tail via NetGalley. I read a biography of John Wilkes Booth some years ago, and while I enjoyed it, I remember thinking at the time that the rest of his family actually sounded considerably more interesting than him! So I really like the sound of this one and am happy to see it’s getting pretty high ratings so far…

The Blurb says: In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years. Junius Booth–breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor, and master of the house in more ways than one–is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws frighteningly closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.

As the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths emerge from their hidden lives to cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and criminal disasters begin to take their toll, and the solemn siblings of John Wilkes Booth are left to reckon with the truth behind the destructively specious promise of an early prophecy.

Booth is a startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of the ties that make, and break, a family.

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Crime

Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell

Courtesy of HarperCollins. I loved the first few Kay Scarpetta books but eventually grew tired of them – there’s only so often a forensic pathologist and her family can be targeted by a crazed killer in every book before it becomes just a tad unbelievable! It must be twenty years since I read one. So I’m not sure whether this one will work for me or not – only one way to find out!

The Blurb says: Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has returned to Virginia as the chief medical examiner. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited an overbearing secretary and a legacy of neglect and possible corruption.

She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top secret private laboratory in outer space, and at least two scientists aboard are found dead. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House Situation Room and tasked with finding out what happened. But even as she works the first crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again. And this time, Scarpetta could be in greater danger than ever before.

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Maugham on Audio

Rain and Other Stories by W Somerset Maugham read by Steven Crossley

A couple more for the #20(Audio)BooksOfSummer challenge! It was the narrator as much as the author that attracted me to this one, Steven Crossley being the wonderful narrator of the Shardlake books that I’ve been enjoying so much. However since I acquired this, I’ve read and enjoyed The Painted Veil, so I’m looking forward to spending more time with Maugham, especially since several of you commented on how much you’d enjoyed his short stories.

The Blurb says: W. Somerset Maugham is one of the best-loved short story writers of the last 100 years. In this collection of his finest short work Maugham takes the listener to the sun-drenched Pacific islands where the Governor mercilessly abuses the inhabitants; to the story “Rain”, in which the Reverend and the prostitute play out one of the most famous finales ever written; to the studies of chauvinistic Colonels, and snide conversations in Edwardian drawing rooms, as well as at the gates of heaven. As an introduction to one of the greatest writers in the English language Steven Crossley’s reading is the perfect place to start.

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Gaiman on Audio

Neverwhere: A BBC Radio Full Cast Dramatisation

First swap for the challenge! Sadly the full cast adaptation of Mansfield Park was dire – badly adapted, lots of irritating incidental music and Billie Piper sounded as if she was suffering from sinusitis! So I quickly abandoned it and am swapping it for this one which I acquired years ago when I was going through a brief Gaiman phase. Not sure if this will work for me either, but we’ll see! It certainly has a stellar cast list…

The Blurb says: Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere…. An act of kindness sees Richard Mayhew catapulted from his ordinary life into the strange world of London Below. There he meets the Earl of Earl’s Court, faces a life-threatening ordeal at the hands of the Black Friars, comes face to face with the Great Beast of London, and encounters an Angel. Called Islington. Accompanied by the mysterious Door and her companions, the Marquis de Carabas and the bodyguard Hunter, Richard embarks on an extraordinary quest to escape from the fiendish assassins Croup and Vandemar and to discover who ordered them to murder her family – all the while trying to get back to his old life in London Above. Adapted for radio by the award-winning Dirk Maggs, this captivating dramatisation features a stellar cast including David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head and David Schofield. Contains over 25 minutes of additional unbroadcast material, including extended scenes, bloopers and outtakes.

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

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

40 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 339…

  1. Very much the same on Kay Scarpetta. Used to be that they were pretty much the only English books I could get here (yes, I live in the bush) but they always followed the same formula and were so awfully predictable that I gave up on them. I can’t believe she’s still going.

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  2. I feel exactly the same about Cornwell, FictionFan. I haven’t read anything by her in a very long time for just that reason. I hope you’ll have some success with that one, but honestly, it’d take some effective persuading to get me to return to her work. Booth sounds very interesting to me; I do like to dip into history, and it’s especially interesting when a book features historical characters who don’t always get a lot of attention. I hope you’ll like that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The series never seemed to develop much – each book began to feel like the one before. She was innovative when she started out, but her field soon got crowded by other people who did it better… or at least with more variety! However, I’ll be interested enough to try it and see how it goes. Booth does sound good – the whole family seem to have led interesting lives and it’s getting good reviews – fingers crossed!

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    • It really is an amazing cast! I think it dates from several years ago so it may have been when some of them were still just starting out. It was a pity about Mansfield Park but the adaptation really just wasn’t good. 🙁

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  3. I’d happily read Neverwhere again – it was one of the first Gaiman novels I ever read – but I’ve yet to give Somerset Maugham a go: I’m used to have a copy of his novel based on Aleister Crowley The Magician on my shelves but I may have discarded it in a house move…

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    • I’ve had a mixed experience with Gaiman, but I must admit the cast list for this one looks great! I’ve just finished listening to the first of the stories in the Somerset Maugham collection and it was fabulous – I think you should try to find that book if it is still on your shelves… 😀

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    • Yes, I think she was the first, or at least one of the first, of the authors who used pathology and autopsies as part of crime writing, so her books were always quite gruesome. I didn’t mind that so much back then but my tastes have changed over the years, so I’m really not sure how I’ll get on with this one. But I’m interested enough to at least read a few chapters and see how it goes!

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    • Haha, I know, that cat just seems to sum up my mood at the moment! It was inevitable that if I spent the entire summer listening to audiobooks that it would all go horribly wrong as far as the TBR is concerned. But at least the TBL list is going down… 😉

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  4. I read Booth earlier in the year and enjoyed it – there’s a lot of focus on the two actors Junius Brutus Booth and Edwin Booth, both of whom I found more interesting to read about than John Wilkes! I still haven’t read anything by Neil Gaiman, although I do have a copy of Stardust which I acquired years ago then went off the idea of reading!

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    • Yes, when I read the biography about John Wilkes Booth I came to the conclusion that the only interesting thing about him was the assassination! But the rest of his family sounded as if they all had fascinating lives and I do enjoy stories of theatrical people. So I have high hopes for Booth. I’ve had mixed experiences with Gaiman, and have kinda gone off him overall, but I’m hoping that the amazing cast in this one will mean that it’s a good experience!

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    • Ha, I’m a dog person too but don’t tell my cat, whatever you do! 😉 I’m not sure how I’ll get on with Autopsy but I’m interested enough to at least find out whether she still works for me or not. But I’m very enthusiastic about Booth – I think they sound like an exceptionally interesting family and I do love stories about theatrical people. 😀

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  5. I tagged The Painted Veil at the library after your review since I’ve never read anything of his. I enjoy short stories, so I’ll be interested to see what you think of that collection.

    Add me to the group who gave up on Patricia Cornwell years ago. I’m not sure I’d be willing to try her again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just finished listening to the first story in the Maugham collection, and it was fabulous! If the entire collection is up to that standard it’s going to be a real treat. 😀
      I was surprised when the Patricia Cornwell popped through the door – it amazes me how many of these really long-running series HarperCollins seem to have on their books. I guess that means lots of people must still read them! But I’ll be quite surprised if I don’t end up abandoning it quite quickly…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read Neverwhere, and enjoyed it. Would be great if Gaiman did the audio. Not sure how I feel about a cast, but it could be good. The one that has really piqued my interest is the Fowler book about the Booths. Sounds fascinating!

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    • The BBC usually do very good dramatizations so I’m quite hopeful about Neverwhere, especially with that amazing cast! Booth looks great – they all seem to have been interesting characters and I love stories about theatrical people – and the reviews are very positive so far!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have yet to have a positive Gaiman experience, and yet on paper he is so much an author I should like! He even collaborated with my favourite Terry Pratchett on multiple occasions. I haven’t read this one, and therefore I shall watch for your review with interest.

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    • My first experience was of a graphic novel which I surprisingly loved – graphic novels really aren’t my thing usually. But since then I’ve had very mixed experiences with him, and have more or less gone off him completely now. I still have a couple fishing around my TBR that I acquired in my short-lived enthusiasm though. Maybe this one will win me back over…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just finished listening to the first story in the Maugham collection, and it was fabulous! If the entire collection is up to that standard it’s going to be a real treat. 😀

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  8. I feel just like that cat whenever I binge on M&Ms!
    Let’s hope those books are worth the additions to the list!
    I read the novel Neverwhere years ago. After I read it, I heard about the series. Also, it’s probably been 20 years for me also since I read a novel by Patricia Cornwell. So this week, I’m probably more tempted by Bodies from the Library 5, though with this being the fifth volume, I’m wondering how good the stories will be.

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    • Haha, yes, the cat looks very like I do after a cake binge! I don’t know if I’ll enjoy Neverwhere but these BBC adaptations are usually quite well done. I felt the third volume of Bodies in the Library really dipped, and I thought then that they must have run out of stories. But then the 4th volume was great again! I’ve a feeling they’ve slackened the rules a bit – originally I’m sure it was stories that had never appeared in an anthology before.

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  9. The book I’m looking forward to here is the audio of Rain and Other Stories; I hope I can find a copy. I read Neverwhere a decade ago, and did enjoy it, but fantasy often works for me. I hope it is a book you can enjoy and that the dramatisation is well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the first story which is almost novella length, so I’m looking forward even more to the rest now! As you know, I’m not a big fantasy fan, which I’m sure is why my Gaiman enthusiasm wore off quite quickly. However these BBC adaptations are usually well done and it certainly has a stellar cast, so fingers crossed…

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