TBR Thursday 344…

Episode 344

Well, I was doing well, racing through some shorter books and feeling confident. But then at the last moment a parcel arrived! The result – the TBR remains perfectly balanced for another week on 175…

Here are a few more I should get to soon…

Horror

Queens of the Abyss edited by Mike Ashley

It will soon be time for the porpy to come out of hibernation in preparation for the spooky season! Before acquiring any new anthologies or collections this year, he wants to try to finish the few that are lingering on our TBR, which we’ve dipped into in past years for Tuesday Terror! posts but not read all the way through. This is the first of those…

The Blurb says: It is too often accepted that during the 19th and early 20th centuries it was the male writers who developed and pushed the boundaries of the weird tale, with women writers following in their wake—but this is far from the truth. This new anthology follows the instrumental contributions made by women writers to the weird tale, and revives the lost authors of the early pulp magazines along with the often overlooked work of more familiar authors. See the darker side of The Secret Garden author Frances Hodgson Burnett and the sensitively-drawn nightmares of Marie Corelli and Violet Quirk. Hear the captivating voices of Weird Tales magazine contributors Sophie Wenzel Ellis, Greye La Spina, and Margaret St Clair, and bow down to the sensational, surreal, and challenging writers who broke down the barriers of the day. Featuring material never before republished, from the abyssal depths of the British Library vaults.

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Fiction

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux

Possibly the last book for my cursed Wanderlust challenge, assuming I manage not to abandon it! I don’t think I’ve read anything by Paul Theroux before, but I’m pretty sure I saw the film of this one many moons ago. Don’t remember anything about it though! Sounds great…

The Blurb says: The Mosquito Coast – winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize – is a breathtaking novel about fanaticism and a futile search for utopia from bestseller Paul Theroux.

Allie Fox is going to re-create the world. Abominating the cops, crooks, junkies and scavengers of modern America, he abandons civilisation and takes the family to live in the Honduran jungle. There his tortured, messianic genius keeps them alive, his hoarse tirades harrying them through a diseased and dirty Eden towards unimaginable darkness.

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James on Audio

Cover Her Face by PD James read by Daniel Weyman

Another couple for the #20(Audio)BooksOfSummer challenge! I’m falling behind now and losing my impetus, so I may or may not get to these in time. This one is a replacement for Neverwhere, which I abandoned after five minutes due to the mumbling of the cast drowned out by the ridiculously overpowering sound effects – ugh! I loved PD James back in the day – for years she was an autobuy on publication day for me. I didn’t love her later books quite so much – her style dated quite badly, I think. But I thought I’d go back to where it all began and see if my enthusiasm can be revived…  

The Blurb says: From P. D. James, one of the masters of British crime fiction, comes the debut novel that introduced Scotland Yard detective Adam Dalgliesh. Set against the English countryside, Cover Her Face is a classic murder mystery filled with James’ trademark plot twists, intrigue, and suspense.

Though the Martingale manor house has hosted the annual St Cedd’s Church fête for generations, this year feels different. On top of organizing stalls and presiding over luncheon, the bishop, and the tea tent, Mrs Eleanor Maxie now also has to contend with the news of her son’s sudden engagement to the new parlour maid, the sly and sensuous single mother Sally Jupp.

Sally has quite a reputation as a ruthless social climber, and no one at Martingale seems too happy about the engagement. But the Maxie family barely has time to contend with her wily ways – on the following morning the whole village is shocked by the discovery of Sally Jupp’s body.

Investigating the violent death at the manor house, Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh becomes embroiled in the complicated passions beneath the calm surface of English village life.

In Cover Her Face, award-winning P. D. James meticulously plots a complex story of family secrets and suspicion. 

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Heller on Audio

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller read by Jilly Bond

This is another replacement, for Reginald Hill’s Death’s Jest Book. Long story, but basically there’s one audiobook in the Dalziel and Pascoe series missing on Audible, the one before this, and I had intended to re-read the paper copy of it by now – hasn’t happened yet, so I have to postpone this one for a while. However, I loved the film of Notes on a Scandal and have been meaning to read the book for years, so I’m happy with the exchange!

The Blurb says: A lonely schoolteacher reveals more than she intends when she records the story of her best friend’s affair with a pupil in this sly, insightful novel.

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary existence; aside from her cat, Portia, she has few friends and no intimates. When Sheba Hart joins St. George’s as the new art teacher, Barbara senses the possibility of a new friendship. It begins with lunches and continues with regular invitations to meals with Sheba’s seemingly close-knit family. But as Barbara and Sheba’s relationship develops, another does as well: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When it comes to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend’s defense—an account that reveals not only Sheba’s secrets but her own.

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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?

54 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 344…

  1. I thought Notes on a Scandal was excellent, such a strong and unsettling narrator. The film was pretty faithful, so if you liked that I think you’ll enjoy the novel, I hope so! Why would they miss out one D&P on Audible though? That’s frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good, I was hoping the book wouldn’t be too different from the film. I loved the Judi Dench character who I assume is the narrator in the book. It’s really annoying about the missing D&P – I’m sure it existed at one point but seems to be unavailable now. Grrr!

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    • Oh, no! No , I meant if I manage not to abandon this book, not the challenge! It’s just that I’ve ending up abandoning so many of the books I’ve picked for this challenge. I’m glad to hear this one is as good as it sounds – my hopes are high!

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  2. You see, FictionFan? It’s that postie of yours always adding to your TBR! I knew it! 😉 I’m interested to see you have a Theroux on your list. I’ve read some of his non-fiction and liked it, but not his fiction. Odd how that happens. I hope you like this one. As for P.D. James, I get what you mean about her later work. It’ll be interesting to see if you like Cover Her Face better. It’s not one of her Dalgliesh novels, so I wonder if that’ll make a difference for you.

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    • You know, Margot, I’m getting seriously concerned about my postie! I let the cat out at ten p.m. last night – no parcel in the letter box. Let him out again at 5 a.m. this morning – parcel! What kind of postie sneaks along and delivers books in the middle of the night!! 😂 I swear I’m being victimised! I don’t think I’ve read any Theroux before but I do like the sound of this one. Yes, PD James’ last few books felt very old-fashioned somehow. Oh, I thought Cover Her Face was the first Dalgliesh! Oh well, that will be intriguing…

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  3. Definitely tempted by Cover Her Face by PD James. Decades ago, a supervisor introduced me to her books. (I soooo miss the days when coworkers recommended books, rather than Instagram posts.) So I read this one, but never heard the audio.
    Good on you for keeping that TBR list balanced.

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    • Absolutely, and when people used to read books during their lunchbreaks rather than staring at their phones! I only have the vaguest memory of the book so it’ll be good to re-visit, and the narrator has a good reputation.

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      • When I commuted to work in the 90s, other commuters used to read print books. When Jurassic Park (the first book) debuted, every commuter reading a book was reading Jurassic Park. When I commuted to jury duty in 2016, just about every commuter was staring at a phone.

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        • Yes, and because we all carried books with us we tended to discuss them and swap them, which doesn’t happen with ebooks even supposing that’s what they’re all reading when they’re staring at their phones. But I suspect they’re all surfing instead – the internet is such a temptation to time-waste!

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  4. I loved the film of Notes on a Scandal too and actually have never thought of reading it! But that and the Theroux should both be on my TBR and are now! And the PD James. . .

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  5. I’ve loved everything by P.D. James, but it’s been so long since I read this one, I have no memory of it! I’m most interested by The Mosquito Coast. It sounds great (and a good choice for Wanderlust)!

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    • It was only the last two or three where I felt they felt too old-fashioned for the time she’d set them in, but I loved all the earlier ones back in the day. My memory of this one is very vague so I’m looking forward to re-visiting it! The Mosquito Coast does sound great – let’s hope it lives up to its blurb!

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  6. Pity they destroyed Neverwhere with poor audio production. I enjoyed the book! I must say that my curiosity is aroused at the thought of horror written by Burnett. The Mosquito Coast sounds a bit like the Poisonwood Bible (published first). So often these fanatic types head off into places they have no business being. Horrible events ensue.

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    • Yes, I think maybe my hearing isn’t as good as it once was, but I find more and more that sound effects are allowed to drown out the speech. These horror anthologies often throw up odd writers – writers much better known for other styles! It does sound similar to The Poisonwood Bible – hope it’s different enough to be interesting!

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  7. I don’t know anything about P.D. James on audio, but I have read most of her books twice. Between 1990 and 2000 approximately, I quit reading fiction entirely (work related but still don’t know why I did that). When I got back to reading mysteries, I binged on rereading the early books by James, including the Cordelia Gray books. Later, when I finally got to the last two books, The Lighthouse and The Private Patient, I did not like those particularly, but all of the early ones still seemed very good to me.

    So I guess I would go with that one, as the others in the list don’t appeal, at least not at this time.

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    • I think I only read the first Cordelia Gray book, but I read all of the Dalgliesh books, some of them several times, depending on which ones I bought and which I got from the library. It was those very late ones that I felt didn’t work – it was as if she was still describing people from a past generation although in a supposedly modern setting. It’ll be fun to try the early ones on audio though – I often find the different format gives them a new lease of life.

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  8. I would take quite some convincing to read Queens of the Abyss, but I’m very open to considering the others. I’ve not read PD James so will be interested to hear if you still find her a good read.

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    • Ha, I’m looking forward to some horror again – it’s been a while! The others do look quite enticing this week, and I’m hoping to rediscover my love for PD James. I feel that the writers of the ’70s and ’80s have somehow dated more badly than the earlier ones, though it may just be that they were of my own generation so perhaps I’m less forgiving…

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  9. I’m not usually a horror fan, but Queens of the Abyss has certainly caught my eye. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish was added to by TBR as the first science fiction book ever written (and by a woman -gasp- ), so Queens of the Abyss seems right up my alley in that regard!

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  10. I enjoyed Notes on a Scandal so would vote for it, although not having read any of the others I’m obviously biased!
    Do you think the child in the gif ever goes to school or does anything else other than practice catching bowls?

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    • Ha, well, since I loved the movie, it’s exciting to hear that the book is better! It will be the first thing of Heller’s that I’ll have read, so hopefully she’ll become a new favourite.

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  11. Oh, and regarding Theroux… I’ve read several of his travel books, and one book of his short stories. I wanted to read this, but never got around to it. Frankly, so far, I prefer his non-fiction. But they made a TV series of this book that I might take a look at.

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    • I don’t think I’ve read anything by Theroux before. I’m not much of a fan of travel writing in general, so I suspect I’d prefer his fiction, but we’ll see! I didn’t know they’d made a TV series of this. I know they made a film many years ago which I think I saw and enjoyed, but I don’t remember much about it at all. Maybe it will all come back when I start reading the book…

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  12. A parcel?! Shocking! Mind you I seem to have “developed” two NetGalley books just today – a publisher emailed me about a novel, I said what non-fiction have you got coming up, she sent me a link to one that’s out and approved me, oops, two books! I love Theroux’s travel writing but can’t get on with his novels, weirdly. Maybe it’s like knitting and crochet – you can do one or the other …

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    • Haha, I’m on a self-imposed NetGalley ban at the moment, till I catch up a bit with all the review copies that have piled up – I seem to be running a good two or three months late with them all at the moment. I’m not a huge fan of travel writing in general – I really prefer to travel fictionally so I’m hoping I might get that from The Mosquito Coast. But then I’m a knitter who can’t crochet, so who knows? 😉

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  13. I read Cover Her Face a long time ago and remember enjoying it, but that’s all I remember! The others aren’t grabbing me, which is good considering my ever growing TBR list! Hope the postal carrier doesn’t come back too quickly and you can keep your balance! 🙂

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    • I don’t remember the story of Cover Her Face either – must be… ahem… let’s just say several decades since I read it! I am getting deeply worried about the postie – I suspect he just delivers any parcel that feels like it might have books in it to me… 😉

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  14. I’m so pleased to discover you’re still blogging too! I searched for you once or twice but got all sorts of things, none of them you. But I’ve found you now.
    I used to have PD James on autobuy too, but you’re right, they haven’t survived as well as Ruth Rendell’s work, for example. They’re very middle class.
    I really enjoyed the book of Notes On A Scandal – and the film – but the book remains one of my favourites. Paul Theroux is one of those writers I feel I should’ve read but never got round to.
    Hoping all’s well with you. X

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    • Hallo, Crimeworm! I thought you’d stopped blogging too! I hope you’re keeping better! Good to see you back in action. 😀 Yes, I just finished the PD James and I’m afraid they feel far too snobby for me now – I used to have a higher tolerance for her kind of attitudes than I do now. Good to hear you enjoyed Notes on a Scandal – I should be starting it later today. I loved the film! And this’ll be my first Theroux too, so fingers crossed…

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