The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The mystery of the missing finger…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

In 1930s Malaya, young Ren was the houseboy of Dr McPherson until the doctor’s death. Before he died, the doctor gave Ren two instructions – firstly, that he should go into the employment of another doctor, William Abbott, and secondly, that he should find Dr McPherson’s severed finger and bury it alongside him in his grave. Ren has 49 days to complete this second task; if he fails, Dr McPherson’s soul will remain wandering the earth for ever. Meantime, Ji Lin is working as a dance-hall hostess, and when one of her customers becomes overly amorous he drops something – a preserved and blackened finger in a vial. And suddenly strange things begin to happen around Ji Lin – unexplained deaths and vivid dreams that seem to impinge on her waking life…

This isn’t my usual type of book at all, so I’m struggling a bit as to how to categorise it. While there is on one level a relatively straightforward crime and mystery element to it, it’s shrouded in the folklore of the Chinese inhabitants of colonial Malaya (now Malaysia), especially as regards the mythology surrounding death rituals and the legend of the weretiger. It’s not exactly fantasy, nor would I describe it as that horrible oxymoron, magical realism. It’s more like straight historical fiction where the reader is asked to accept the beliefs and what we would call superstitions of the prevailing culture as being real.

Normally, my too delicately attuned credibility meter would have been beeping hysterically and pointing to overload, but it’s done so well that I had no problem with buying into the folklore aspects. Partly, this is because the quality of the writing carries it; partly, because Choo explains clearly the cultural basis for the more fanciful elements as she goes along; and partly, because there’s a great story in here that works, to a large degree, with or without the mystical element. The folklore stuff adds an element of mild horror that gives an air of eerieness and fatalism to the overall story.

It’s told from two perspectives – Ji Lin as a first-person narrative and Ren’s story told to us in the third person. In the beginning the finger is the only apparent link, but gradually the two storylines will cross and merge. Ren is only eleven and is a total believer in the superstitions involved in the story, so that for him returning the finger to Dr McPherson’s grave is a matter of more than life or death. Ji Lin is older, educated and more modern in her outlook (perhaps a little anachronistically so at times, in fact), but even she is so steeped in her culture that she’s open to the prevailing beliefs.

I liked them both very much as characters and thought Choo used their different ages and backgrounds very effectively to show this colonial society from more than one angle. I also really enjoyed seeing a colonial society from the perspective of the “colonised”, as it were – so much British literature reflects the perspective of the colonisers, and shows the indigenous culture as foreign and strange. Here, the Chinese Malay culture is the normal one, with the colonial Brits as the oddities who dismiss as ignorant superstition whatever they don’t understand. Happily, Choo handles the colonial aspect without over-emphasising it. There’s a current tendency to portray all colonies as seething hotbeds of resentment with the indigenous people just waiting for an opportunity to overthrow their cruel imperial masters, but I felt Choo’s portrayal of two communities living separately but in one space, rubbing along reasonably well together but not fully understanding each other, was considerably more credible.

Both strands of the story, the real and the mystical, are quite dark, but the overall tone is lightened by Ji Lin’s voice. She might rail against the secondary place of women in her society and her lack of opportunities, but she’s also strong and independent, and determined to make her own decisions about her life. She adds some humour to the story and also some romance, though in line with the rest of the book her romance has darker shades to it too.

Yangsze Choo

I feel I’ve been especially vague and obscure about the plot of the book, even by my usual standards. But that’s because I enjoyed seeing the story develop for myself with no preconceptions, so I’m trying not to take that pleasure away from anyone else by telling too much. I enjoyed every word of this – the characterisation, the descriptions of the society, the perspective on colonialism, the elements of humour and romance, the folklore, the eerieness and the darkness, and I’ll be looking out for more from this talented author. Highly recommended.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Quercus.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

Around the World in 80 Books Challenge – Wrap!

“The Road goes ever on and on…”

Way back in March 2016, I decided to participate in the Around the World in 80 Books Challenge, created and hosted by Sarah and Lucy at Hard Book Habit. Here’s what they said:

Here’s the deal. You’ll need to read 80 books set or connected with the random destinations of your choice, then you blog about each book that you read en route. You can choose any books you like – this challenge is not limited to fiction – and the only catch is that you must read at least one book connected to each continent, one sea-based book, and a book that involves travel – think the Orient Express, flight, hot-air balloons, train journeys, car trips, etc… the rest is up to you.

(Sadly in the intervening years Hard Book Habit has ceased to exist, and as far as I know Sarah and Lucy are no longer blogging.)

Four and a half years later, I limped wearily home, having visited every continent, sailed every sea, travelled through time and even ventured into space.

My original plan, which for once I stuck to, was to go back to the book that inspired the challenge, Around the World in Eighty Days, and see if I could find books for each stage of Phileas Fogg’s original journey. Wikipedia not only told me where Fogg and his faithful servant Passepartout stopped, but they provided a map which became my logo for the challenge…

That would fill 27 of the 80 slots, and the other 53 would be detours – taking me anywhere and everywhere, but making sure to meet each of the requirements of the challenge.

So here it is – the final list, with links to all my reviews:

The Main Journey

  1. London  – Martin Chuzzlewit
  2. Orient Express – Travels with My Aunt
  3. France – The Sisters of Versailles
  4. Alps – Crossed Skis
  5. Venice – Titian’s Boatman
  6. Brindisi – That Summer in Puglia
  7. Mediterranean Sea – Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas
  8. Suez – Something to Answer For
  9. Egypt – Palace Walk
  10. Red Sea/Arabian Sea – Lord Jim
  11. Bombay – Selection Day
  12. Calcutta – A Rising Man
  13. Kholby – The Jewel in the Crown
  14. Elephant Travel – The Elephant’s Journey
  15. Allahabad – The Sign of the Four
  16. Indian Ocean/ South China Sea – A Dangerous Crossing
  17. Hong Kong – How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square
  18. Shanghai – Death of a Red Heroine
  19. Yokohama – Around the World in Eighty Days
  20. Pacific – Moby-Dick: Or, The White Whale
  21. San Francisco – The Dain Curse
  22. Sioux lands – Days Without End
  23. Omaha – The Swan Gondola
  24. New York – Three-Martini Lunch
  25. Atlantic Ocean – Treasure Island
  26. Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland – Dead Wake
  27. London – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The Detours

  1. The Hebrides – Coffin Road
  2. Florida – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  3. Iceland – Snowblind
  4. Himalayas – Black Narcissus
  5. Ireland – The Heather Blazing
  6. Channel Islands – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  7. Australian Outback – Fear is the Rider
  8. Portugal – The High Mountains of Portugal
  9. Milan, Italy – The Murdered Banker
  10. Havana, Cuba – A Heart So White
  11. Saturn – 2001: A Space Odyssey
  12. Kabul, Afghanistan – The Kite Runner
  13. Vatican City – Conclave
  14. Dresden, Germany – Slaughterhouse-Five
  15. Scottish Highlands – Murder of a Lady
  16. The French Riviera – Death on the Riviera
  17. Kiev, Ukraine – The White Guard
  18. North Korea – The Accusation
  19. Chechnya – The Tsar of Love and Techno
  20. Japan – Penance
  21. Beijing, China – Braised Pork
  22. Ancient Greece – House of Names
  23. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Testimony
  24. Moscow, Russia – Doctor Zhivago
  25. Republic of the Congo – Brazzaville Beach
  26. Thailand – Behind the Night Bazaar
  27. Antarctic – Endurance
  28. Wales – The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories
  29. Spain – The Man Who Loved Dogs
  30. New Zealand – The Ice Shroud
  31. Gibraltar – The Rock
  32. Canada – Brother
  33. Jordan – Appointment with Death
  34. South Africa – The Good Doctor
  35. Lebanon – Pearls on a Branch
  36. Colombia – The Shape of the Ruins
  37. Uruguay – Springtime in a Broken Mirror
  38. Ancient Rome – Imperium
  39. Norway – The Katharina Code
  40. South Korea – The Plotters
  41. Europe – Europe: A Natural History
  42. Colonial Malay – The Night Tiger
  43. Istanbul, Turkey – 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
  44. Papua New Guinea – Mister Pip
  45.  Zululand – Nada the Lily
  46.  East Germany – The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
  47.  Mexico – The Pearl
  48.  Nigeria – Things Fall Apart
  49.  Öland, Sweden – Echoes from the Dead
  50.  Sicily – The Leopard
  51.  Ruritania – The Prisoner of Zenda
  52.  The Arctic – Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus
  53.  Romania – Sword

* * * * *

Highlights

I loved doing this challenge – probably the one I’ve enjoyed most of all the ones I’ve participated in. While I filled a lot of the spots on my journey from books I’d have been reading anyway, I also kept a weather eye open for books set in places I hadn’t yet visited, and that led me to read many books that probably would have otherwise passed me by. So to celebrate the end of the challenge, I’ve decided to highlight just five of the books, each of which I loved and probably wouldn’t have read without this incentive.

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

A family saga, set in Egypt to the backdrop of the end of WW1, the rise of nationalism and the dying days of colonial Egypt. It took me a long time to feel involved with this family and their community but once I did I became completely absorbed in the slow telling of their lives. Usually I’d be more interested in the out-going, more political lives of the sons, but in this case I found myself fascinated by Mahfouz’ depiction of the lives and feelings of the women – the total seclusion and lack of agency, and the way that the mothers themselves trained their daughters to accept, conform and even be contented with this half-life. A deserved classic, and for once a Nobel Prize-winning novel that I feel merits that accolade.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

There are three distinct sections in this novel, each very different but with common themes running through them, and all linked to a small town in the High Mountains, Tuizelo. It is a subtle discussion of the evolution vs. faith debate, with the old evolutionary saw of “risen apes, not fallen angels” appearing repeatedly. Chimps appear in some form in each of the sections, sometimes symbolically, sometimes actually. I found the whole thing an original and insightful approach to the question that provokes thought without forcing any specific answers on the reader. The writing is nothing short of brilliant. It flows smoothly, feels light and airy, but is full of insight into grief and love and heartache, and has left some indelible images in my mind.

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

This is a straightforward, factual telling of the story of Ernest Shackleton and his crew, and their failed 1914 bid to cross the Antarctic on foot from west to east. It’s also one of the most stirring and emotionally turbulent books I’ve ever read. I found myself totally caught up in the men’s adventure, willing them on, crying over each new disaster, celebrating with them over any small triumph. Talk about emotional rollercoaster! As it got towards the end, my tension levels were going through the roof, just as they would have been had these men been personal friends – indeed, after the long journey I’d made in their company, I truly felt they were.

Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti

Santiago is a political prisoner in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the 1970s. His family and friends are scattered, exiled from the country they call home. Although the book is based around the revolutions of South America, it is not about politics as such; rather, it is about the impact that political upheaval has on the individuals caught up in it. It’s about home and exile, loneliness, longing, belonging. It’s about loyalty and love, and sometimes despair. It’s profoundly moving – full of emotional truth. And, in the end, it holds out hope: that the human spirit has the resilience to find new ways of living when the old ones are taken away. A wonderful read.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

Tequila Leila’s body is dead, but her brain has not yet shut completely down. As her consciousness slowly fades, she finds herself drifting through memories of her life – the childhood that made her the woman she would become, her family, her loves and, most of all, her friends. And along the way, we are given a picture of the underbelly of Istanbul, of those on the margins finding ways to live in a society that rejects them. The prose is wonderful, the many stories feel utterly true and real, and they are beautifully brought together to create an intensely moving picture of a life that might pass unremarked and unmourned by society, but showing how remarkable such a life can be in its intimate details and how mourning is a tribute gained by a loving, generous soul regardless of status.

This was an incredibly hard choice, since I tried hard to fill most of the slots with great books, and there are very few in the final list that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend. And I thoroughly enjoyed rounding the whole thing off by reading the wonderful Around the World in Eighty Days itself, which not only filled the impossible Yokohama spot but was an excellent way to bring my travels to an end.

Thanks for joining me on my epic journey. 😀

Six Degrees of Separation – From Treloar to…

Chain links…

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best. The idea is to start with the book that Kate gives us and then create a chain of six books, each suggested by the one before. This month’s starting book is…

Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar. Haven’t read this one but here’s what the blurb tells us…

For years Kitty Hawke has lived alone on Wolfe Island, witness to the island’s erosion and clinging to the ghosts of her past. Her work as a sculptor and her wolfdog Girl are enough. News of mainland turmoil is as distant as myth until refugees from that world arrive: her granddaughter Cat, and Luis and Alejandra, a brother and sister escaping persecution. When threats from the mainland draw closer, they are forced to flee for their lives. They travel north through winter, a journey during which Kitty must decide what she will do to protect the people she loves.

It has glowing reviews, but I don’t think it’s one for me. Ignoring the pesky ‘e’, I’m jumping to another title with a wild creature in it…

The Lion Wakes by Robert Low. Set in the turbulent period of Scottish history of Wallace and Bruce, this book gives an unvarnished and unromanticised picture of the still almost barbarian life in Scotland then. No great patriots here, fighting for independence. The picture instead is of a group of scheming aristocrats, plotting how best to gain more land and wealth for themselves, and willing to destroy both the land and the common people to achieve their ends. I thoroughly enjoyed this claymore-and-kilt adventure, especially since it has a lot of excellent Scottish dialect.

And following a theme, on to another with a wild creature in the title…

Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell. When Earl Shaw wins two small planes in a poker game, he decides to put his skills as a showman to good use by taking the planes barnstorming round Depression-era California, tempting customers to go up for a scenic flight. Earl offers two young men, Louis Thorn and Harry Yamada, jobs as aerial stuntmen and so the act of Eagle & Crane is born – Eagle to represent the good ol’ US of A, and Crane to represent the villainous and untrustworthy Japs of Harry’s heritage. But the war is about to begin, and suddenly white America will begin to see its Japanese-heritage citizens as more than a comic-book threat. A great book from one of my newest favourite authors.

Next in this month’s menagerie…

The Elephant’s Journey by José Saramago. King Dom João III of Portugal wishes to give a present to the Hapsburg Archduke Maximilian, and decides that the elephant Solomon would be the ideal gift. It’s the mid-sixteenth century, so the only method of transport for Solomon is his own four feet. This is the story of his journey, along with his keeper Subhro and a troop of Portuguese soldiers, as they make their way through Spain and Italy, finally crossing the Alps to reach their destination, Vienna. Not much depth to this one, but it’s quite entertaining…

Not sure which of these counts as the wildest – man or beast…

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Lord Greystoke and his young wife Lady Alice are on their way to take up a new colonial appointment in Africa when the crew of the ship they are on mutiny. The mutineers drop their passengers off on a wild coast, far from civilised habitation, but close to the jungle. For a while they survive, long enough for Lady Alice to bear the son she was already carrying. But when disaster strikes, leaving the baby all alone in the world, he is adopted by a tribe of apes and grows up learning their ways, unaware of his own heritage. Great fun – full of thrills, excitement, high love and general drama!

One of my many grievances with the next one is that it takes 93% of the book before we finally catch sight of the eponymous creature of the wild ocean…

Moby-Dick; or, The White Whale by Herman Melville. Our narrator (call him Ishmael) signs up for a voyage aboard the whaling ship Pequod, only to find that the Captain, Ahab, is pursuing a personal vendetta against the whale which caused him to lose his leg – Moby-Dick. Off we go, searching for that pesky whale through every ocean, sea and puddle in the world, talking cod Shakespearian and fantasising about the sensual aspects of whale blubber! Gosh, I enjoyed dreading this book, then hating it and writing a scathing review – not to mention the fun I had pastiching it! I miss that old monster of the deep…

And back to the jungle for my last wild beast…

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo. In 1930s Malaya, young Ren was the houseboy of Dr McPherson until the doctor’s death. Before he died, the doctor gave Ren two instructions – firstly, that he should go into the employment of another doctor, William Abbott, and secondly, that he should find Dr McPherson’s severed finger and bury it alongside him in his grave. Ren has 49 days to complete this second task; if he fails, Dr McPherson’s soul will remain wandering the earth for ever. I enjoyed every word of this – the characterisation, the descriptions of the society, the perspective on colonialism, the elements of humour and romance, the folklore, the eerieness and the darkness.

* * * * *

So Treloar to Choo, via wolves, lions, eagles, elephants, apes, whales and tigers!

Hope you enjoyed the safari. 😀

Friday Frippery! The Story of a Year in Books 2019…

The Disappearing Duck…

(At the end of 2016 and again in 2017, I created stories – if they could be dignified by that name – using the titles of all the books I’d reviewed in the year… in the order I reviewed them! I missed last year, but couldn’t resist seeing if I could do it again this year. As you will see, I’ve been reading an awful lot of vintage crime…)

The colour of murder is splendidly scarlet, especially when the crime is committed in cold blood. Let me tell you one of the local horror stories which happened just before my childhood’s end

It all began with the shop window murder. So, at that time I was a boarder at the Katharina Code School for Wayward Girls, a spooky old place where it was rumoured there were ghosts in the house. It was situated on the wild coast of the Western Highlands, just to the east of Belting Hall and the seashaken houses of the village. Far indeed from where I used to watch the glorious game at weekends, the Arsenal Stadium. Mystery was soon to creep out of the Highland mist and engulf us all.

My cousin Rachel lived in the nearby village. She was engaged to a zookeeper Tarzan, of the Apes House, who was heir to the Belting inheritance. But old Mr Belting’s lawyer and his gang had a dastardly plot to keep the inheritance for themselves. The plotters crept like spiders out of the dark, spinning false rumours to blacken Tarzan’s name. Soon the lost man was being accused of having broken the window of the local bookshop, killed the owner’s pet duck and stolen some festive stationery – the newspapers luridly referred to it as the Christmas Card Crime. And other stories, even darker, circulated about him and a scantily-clad woman named Jane. But love is blind and Rachel was true. The break-through came when they decided to flee to Europe, hoping that one day Tarzan’s reputation would be restored.

But once the police are involved it’s inevitable that the dead shall be raised from their tomb for a post-mortem. For the local constabulary, investigating the murder of a quacking duck provided a welcome break from their only other case – trying to track down the night tiger that, locals claimed, roamed the shore, leaving strange-looking pawprints on the beach. But enough of the riddle of the sands! We shall leave that mystery for another day.

The murder in the bookshop became more baffling when the police dug up the spot where the duck was rumoured to be buried, and found nothing! Now they had no body and no idea what their suspect looked like, since Tarzan wasn’t one for selfies. The police knew nothing about the man with no face except that during his time in America he had survived even the Dakota winters in only a loincloth, suggesting he had either superhuman endurance or really bad fashion sense.

With malice aforethought, the lawyer Humphry Clinker, the adversary of Tarzan, had arranged to meet his gang at the Friday night theatre show in the nearby spa town to divvy up the proceeds of the burglary. Each gave the sign of the four – their secret signal – then went into the theatre bar. Old Roger Ackroyd, always a bletherer, began to tell the others how to pick up a maid in Statue Square, but little Dorrit Smallbone, deceased, (or at least so the feckless police believed), turned a song of Solomon Burke up loud on the juke box to drown him out.

The fourth man, Dunstan Redmayne, was mostly known for the cruel acts he had carried out against the American heiress who once inexplicably loved him. But she had screamed blue murder and threatened to spearhead the clouds of witnesses against him when she learned of his part in the affair of the fair maid of Perth, a well known communist heroine. Following these critical incidents, Dunstan had trapped the heiress in a disused kiln and left her to die. But a brave young airman found her in time and rescued her, sadly then tumbling down into the kiln himself and breaking his neck. The death of an airman has never been more tragic.

But I digress! The spa town of Wakenhyrst was a poor shadow of its grander English rival, Bath. Tangled up in these tales of the death in captivity of the fair maid, or perhaps we should say the death of a red heroine, we mustn’t lose sight of the secret adversary of Tarzan. The man who made this town a dead land was the lawyer himself – a true criminal mastermind. The expedition of Humphry Clinker into his life of crime began when he defended the killers of the Flower Moon Dance Troupe and learned how much he could earn if he just left his morals behind. He became twisted and this led him to mistrust everyone. “Go set a watchman,” he ordered Dunstan now and Dunstan quickly obeyed. He didn’t want his name to be added to the blotting book where Clinker listed those who had crossed him – case histories showed that Clinker’s enemies did not fare well. Johnnie the Elephant’s journey to prison began when he ignored an order of Clinker’s. (Poor Johnnie – no one who saw his nose ever forgot it.)

Dunstan Redmayne’s bank balance was, as usual, in the red. Redmayne’s last attempt to burgle a house had fallen foul of one of the adventures of Maud West, lady detective, who held him at bay for several hours, shooting three bullets at him every 10 minutes 38 seconds. In this strange world where odd coincidences happen, he was saved by a group of UN Peacemakers who chanced to be passing, but he required a pinch of snuff to calm his nerves after those furious hours!

“The tree of death has deep roots” was always a proverb of the Highlanders, especially the women. Of the moon, they said that when it was full in midsummer one could see spectres converging on the shore from left, right and middle, marching from the caves in the heat of the night straight out until they were twenty thousand leagues under the seas. Mister Pip, the famous Scotland Yard detective, thought the Highlanders were a right superstitious bunch! He looked anxiously at his phone, always victim to the menace of the machine, and as he read the story about the mystery of the missing duck the conviction stole over him that the village policeman, Constable Sanditon, had a surfeit of suspects and very few resources to solve the crime. Sanditon had been helpful to him last winter when the famous spy Nada the Lily had nearly evaded capture by hiding out in the mountains. One good turn deserved another, Pip thought, remembering how the observations of the constable had trapped the spy, who came in from the cold rather gratefully in the end.

The town had three churches and Pip arranged to meet Sanditon outside the middle temple. Murder on the beach was what he feared had happened to the poor little duck – a mercy if it had been quick and painless. He shuddered as he remembered the case of Miss Elliot who had been brutally killed during a robbery at her home. Seven men of less than average stature had given the pearl they stole to the leader of their gang, an albino whose skin was snow white. And other tales came back to him too, all showing the infinite variety in the art of murder. In the mill-race at the edge of the village, the water frothed and churned. Too turbulent for ducks, Pip thought as he passed by.

Pip and Sanditon stopped for a beer at The Jewel in the Crown, and talked of the crimes they’d solved in the past, most of them involving bodies. From the library next door Mrs McGinty the librarian emerged, and locked up with the turn of the key. Pip realised it was late and although he’d napped on the train up, felt a great need for the second sleep. It seemed to him anyway that they needed an extra pair of hands on the case. But who should they get to help – that was the question? Mark Pearl, suggested Sanditon. Pearl was noted for his bravery and strength – while in New York, he had apprehended three bad guys single-handed, and was then seen walking wounded all the way to the last exit to Brooklyn. Sadly he had had a recent tragedy. The mother of Pearl had fallen victim to the hour of peril when the village was experiencing a big freeze – she slipped on the icy pavement outside Mrs McGinty’s. Dead, alas! But Sanditon was sure that Pearl would help them watch the river at night for signs of the duck, putting family matters aside. He phoned Pearl but as he was out, spoke to his wife instead. During the long call Sanditon told her about the mystery of the duck – had it gone missing or was it murder? She said she had never heard of such evil under the sun! Busy Mrs Pearl had to ring off then as her sons and lovers demanded her attention.

Pip asked the barman to put their drinks on the slate, then, payment deferred, made his weary way to his hotel. In the bathroom he gazed at the face in the glass, thinking he looked old and wondering whether he might soon be meeting up with St. Peter. Looking out of his window, he saw that the river was busy despite the hour – as well as the swan, gondolas containing lovesick romantics were punting up and down. He also saw old Mr Tarrant looking curiously around him in the evening light. The curious Mr Tarrant spotted him too and shouted “Hey, Mister Pip! Did I hear you were looking for a duck? One flew over the cuckoo’s nest in the trees there just fifteen minutes ago and landed in the deep waters of the village pond.”

While Pip was still mulling over this piece of hopeful news, a text arrived from Constable Sanditon. “Just received a Christmas card from Roger Ackroyd, signed on behalf of Clinker and the gang. It’s one of the stolen cards!” Suddenly everything was clear! Next day Clinker, Redmayne and Smallbone were arrested and charged with burglary. “Lucky for you” said Pip “that we believe the duck may have escaped so I can’t charge you with the murder.” Of Roger Ackroyd, however, nothing more was heard except a rumour that he had fled to the far north and joined a strange cult led by the notoriously deranged mystic, Enoch Powell.

Pip and Sanditon were congratulated by the Chief Constable, Lord Jim Campbell. Rachel and Tarzan returned to the lovely Belting Hall, leaving a darker domain in the French backstreet where they’d been living under a cloud. However, Rachel never forgets the woman in black who gave them lodgings when they most needed it in the wild harbour of Marseilles, and every year she sends her a bottle of the Christmas eggnog she has specially made. Tarzan and Rachel are so happy together they changed the name of the Hall, and now the school buildings are just east of Eden Place. But in the old deserted wing sometimes things fall apart and strange yodelling noises can be heard. Rachel tries not to listen to the old ghost stories the servants sometimes tell…

Oh yes, the duck! Well, having tasted freedom when it flew out through the broken shop window, it decided never to go back, and now it spends its days dabbling in the village pond. But sometimes, when the moon is full and the tide is out, it walks by night on the beach, leaving strange marks that, to a superstitious villager, might be taken for the pawprints of a tiger…

>>>THE END<<<

FictionFan Awards 2019 – Literary Fiction and Book of the Year 2019

A standing ovation please…

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2019.

For the benefit of new readers, here’s a quick résumé of the rules…

THE CRITERIA

All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2018 and October 2019 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.

THE CATEGORIES

The categories tend to change slightly each year to better reflect what I’ve been reading during the year.

This year, there will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories:

Vintage Crime Fiction

Factual

Modern Crime Fiction/Thriller

Literary Fiction

…and…

Book of the Year 2019

THE PRIZES

For the winners!

I guarantee to read the author’s next book even if I have to buy it myself!

(NB If an author is unlikely to publish another book due to being dead, I will read a book from his/her back catalogue…)

For the runners-up!

Nothing!

THE JUDGES

Me!

* * * * * * * * *

So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in

LITERARY FICTION

Like last year, I’ve been reading so many classics this year it hasn’t left room for an awful lot of modern literary fiction, and I don’t include classics in these awards. However, being forced to be choosier means I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most of the books I have read. I gave eleven books the full five stars, so the choice was not easy. And two of these could really share top spot, but since I’m not the Booker committee I’ll actually make a decision!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

In 1930s Malaya, young Ren was the houseboy of Dr McPherson until the doctor’s death. Before he died, the doctor gave Ren two instructions – firstly, that he should go into the employment of another doctor, William Abbott, and secondly, that he should find Dr McPherson’s severed finger and bury it alongside him in his grave. Ren has 49 days to complete this second task; if he fails, Dr McPherson’s soul will remain wandering the earth for ever. Meantime, Ji Lin is working as a dance-hall hostess, and when one of her customers becomes overly amorous he drops something – a preserved and blackened finger in a vial. And suddenly strange things begin to happen around Ji Lin – unexplained deaths and vivid dreams that seem to impinge on her waking life…

While there is on one level a relatively straightforward crime and mystery element to this, it’s shrouded in the folklore of the Chinese inhabitants of colonial Malaya (now Malaysia), especially as regards the mythology surrounding death rituals and the legend of the weretiger. I enjoyed every word of it – the characterisation, the descriptions of the society, the perspective on colonialism, the elements of humour and romance, the folklore, the eerieness and the darkness – great stuff!

Click to see the full review

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Mother of Pearl by Angela Savage

After years of unsuccessful IVF treatment, Meg and Nate have given up their attempt to have a child, leaving Meg especially feeling that a vital part of her remains empty and unfulfilled. Her older sister Anna is home in Australia after spending several years working for various aid agencies in Thailand and Cambodia. At lunch one day, Anna introduces Meg to some friends who have just become parents via commercial surrogacy in Thailand. Suddenly Meg feels the hope she thought she had stifled come to life again. Anna is horrified at first but she comes to recognise Meg’s desperation and agrees to use her knowledge of the language and customs of Thailand to help her sister and brother-in-law navigate their way through the difficult path they have chosen.

Savage brings a balanced impartiality to the moral questions around the issue of paid surrogacy. I’m always afraid when a book is so clearly based around a moral issue that the author will slip into polemics, forcing her view on the reader. Savage avoids this by having her characters have very different opinions on the subject and letting them speak for themselves. An “issues” book where the author trusts the reader to think for herself, very well written, deeply emotional and, in my opinion, a very fine novel indeed.

Click to see the full review

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The Observations by Jane Harris

Fleeing from her hometown of Glasgow in search of a better life, young Bessy Buckley finds herself more or less accidentally taking a job as maid at Castel Haivers, the home of Arabella Reid and her husband James, halfway along the road to Edinburgh. Arabella is young, beautiful and kind, and the affection-starved Bessy is soon devoted to her new mistress. But soon Bessy finds she’s not the first maid to whom Arabella has shown peculiar attention; in particular there was a girl named Nora, who died in circumstances that seem to cast a dark shadow over the household…

This is a take on the Victorian sensation novel complete with touches of Gothic horror, insanity, shocking deaths and so on. But what makes it special is Bessy, our narrator. She’s both feisty and vulnerable, strong but sometimes unsure of herself, devoted to but clear-sighted about the flaws of her mistress. However, it’s Bessy’s voice that is so special – a real tour-de-force from Harris in recreating an entirely credible dialect and slang for that place and time. Bessy is Irish originally, as were so many Glaswegians, and I loved the way Harris managed to give her language an authentic touch of Glasgow-Irish at points. Great characters, lots of humour, nicely spooky at points – a great read!

Click to see the full review

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Tequila Leila’s body is dead, but as her consciousness slowly fades, she finds herself drifting through memories of her life – the childhood that made her the woman she would become, her family, her loves, her friends. And along the way, we are given a picture of the underbelly of Istanbul, of those on the margins finding ways to live in a society that rejects them.

Despite the fact that the main character is dead, this is a wonderfully uplifting, life-affirming story. Time ticks down minute by minute for Leila, each marked by an episode from her life, often triggered by a memory of an aroma or a taste, such as the lemons the women used to make the wax for their legs, or the cardamom coffee that Leila loved. And as we follow Leila through her memories, we learn about the people who have had the greatest impact on her life. Her father, hoping always for a son. Her mother, a second wife married as little more than a child to provide that son that the first wife has failed to give. Her uncle, a man who will disrupt her childhood and change her possible futures irrevocably. And most of all her friends – five people she meets along the way who become bound together closer than any family, through ties of love and mutual support in a world that has made them outsiders. Beautifully written, a wonderful book that moved me to tears and laughter, that angered me and comforted me and, most of all, that made me love these characters with all their quirks and flaws and generosity of spirit. Could so easily have been my winner…

Click to see the full review

FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2019

for

BEST LITERARY FICTION

Night Theatre by Vikram Paralkar

A former surgeon now acts as a general doctor in a small run-down clinic serving a population of rural villagers. Frustrated with the way his life has turned out, the surgeon is in a near perpetual state of disappointment and ill-temper. Then, one night after a long day when he has been giving all the local children their polio vaccinations, he is approached by three very strange patients, each with terrible wounds. They are a husband, wife and young son who were attacked in the street, robbed, stabbed and left to die. Which indeed they did. Now they have been given the chance to return from the afterlife, but before they come alive at dawn the next day, they must have their wounds treated or they will die again…

A beautifully written fable which, while it can be read on one level simply as a unique, interesting and very human story, has layer upon layer of depth, dealing with the big questions of life, death, faith, and the place of medicine in all of these. The whole question of the unknowableness of God’s plan and of the place of faith in determining how to act underlies every decision the characters are forced to make and, in the end, their humanity is all they have to guide them. Paralkar also shows the skills we take for granted in our surgeons – the near miracles we expect them to perform, and our readiness to criticise and blame if they fail. The underlying suggestion seems to be that we’re near to a point of refusing to accept death as inevitable, and what does that do to questions of faith?

Paralkar has achieved the perfect balance of giving a satisfying and thought-provoking story without telling the reader what to think, and as a result this is one that each reader will make unique to herself. One of the most original novels I’ve read in years.

(And yet… it seems to have sunk almost without trace, having garnered only 172 ratings on Goodreads as compared to Elif Shafak’s 5113. Suggesting that a Booker nomination is more influential than an FF Award – surely not! Get out there, people, read it, review it and force it on everyone you know… for my sake! 😉 )

Click to see the full review

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And now…

the nominees for the Book of the Year Award are…

FICTIONFAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019

THE WINNER

An extremely difficult choice this year – both Furious Hours and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World would have been worthy winners too. But this book just edged ahead in the final furlong – its originality, its profound humanity, and the fact that several months after reading it I still often find myself pondering over the questions it raises. One that I will undoubtedly read again – the highest accolade I can give to any book – and I’m looking forward with great anticipation to seeing what Paralkar gives us in the future.

Thanks to all of you who’ve joined me for this year’s awards feature.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it – I’ve enjoyed your company!

 

Six in Six 2019

A half-year retrospective…


This fun meme is run by Jo of The Book Jotter. The idea is to look back over the first six months of the reading year, select six categories from the selection Jo provides or create your own categories, and then find six books you’ve read between January and June to fit each category. It’s my second time of joining in, and I loved looking for patterns in my reading, though I found it harder this year – I seem to have been reading lots and lots of various types of crime and not a lot of much else! But I’ve squeezed out Six in Six categories and avoided duplication, and all my choices are books I’d recommend… except one. But I won’t be so mean as to name and shame it, so it can bask temporarily in the glow of inclusion…

Six Vintage Crime

I remain happily steeped in vintage crime this year, thanks largely to the wonderful British Library Crime Classics and my ongoing Murder, Mystery and Mayhem challenge…

The Colour of Murder

The Blotting Book

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery

Death of an Airman

Smallbone Deceased

The Secret Adversary

Six Historical Fiction

There’s other historical fiction dotted around the six categories – I seem to be attracted more to historical than contemporary fiction at the moment, though I haven’t consciously been selecting books on that basis. This is the category that contains the book I didn’t love – but perhaps you would be blind to its faults…

My Cousin Rachel

Love is Blind

Dunstan

Wakenhyrst

The Elephant’s Journey

Three Bullets

Six Crime New Releases

I haven’t read much new crime this year but happily the ones I’ve chosen have turned out well, and I don’t think those two facts are unconnected. Cutting down on impulse picks on NetGalley and doing a bit of research means that the books that are squeezing onto my overstuffed TBR are tending to be of higher quality… or at least more to my taste…

The Katharina Code

The Plotters

The Man With No Face

Cruel Acts

Critical Incidents

Deadland

Six for the Classics Club

I’m still desperately trying to catch up with my Classics Club list, and am thoroughly enjoying it – there’s a reason books become classics! My love affair with Oxford World’s Classics continues, who are feeding my addiction and whose introductions make for better informed reviews – in theory, at least!

Tarzan of the Apes

The Riddle of the Sands

Little Dorrit

The Fair Maid of Perth

Bath Tangle

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Six True Crime

After a few years of reading heavyweight history I needed a bit of a break and something lighter to fill the factual slot in my reading schedule. What better than a bit of true crime?

In Cold Blood

The Adversary

American Heiress

Killers of the Flower Moon

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective

Furious Hours

Six Great Fiction

As with contemporary crime, I’ve been far more selective about fiction this year, so I haven’t read much but the quality has been excellent. All of these are great reads.

The Night Tiger

The Dakota Winters

Night Theatre

The Kiln

Go Set a Watchman

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

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So that’s my six sixes, and they tell me I’ve had a fabulous reading year so far! As usual, I’m late to the party but Jo gives us till the end of July, so if you haven’t already joined in you still have time – it’s a wonderful way to waste spend some time!

Here’s to the next six months! 😀

TBR Thursday 194… and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

At the New Year, I set myself some targets for my various reading challenges and for the reduction of my ever-expanding TBR. I do this each year because secretly I’m a masochist who thrives on feelings of personal failure it’s always good to have something to aim for. Things usually start well at the beginning of the year when my enthusiasm is high and then it all begins to go horribly wrong… round about April… and descends past laughable in the summer, to embarrassing by autumn, ending up in full-scale hair-raising horror by the depths of winter. It’s such fun!

So here we are – the first check-in of the year, and probably the best…

Impressive, huh? It would have been even better if I hadn’t abandoned Cannery Row for not having a plot (and to be fair, I was in the middle of a major reading slump and not enjoying much at that point. I may try it again later.) It should have been the third book for my 5 x 5 Challenge and the fifth on my Classics Club list. The sixth on the CC list is The Fair Maid of Perth which I’m currently reading but didn’t manage to finish in time to include it at the quarter’s end. So overall pretty successful on the challenges!

The TBR is up but, thanks to another bout of rigorous (and heart-rending) culling, the combined TBR/wishlist reduction is on track! Yeah, I’m as surprised at that as you are…

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The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

Last check-in was in December, and I’ve been piling up the frequent flyer miles since then! I’ve read six, though I’ve only reviewed five of them so far, plus I had one left over from 2018 that I reviewed in January.

On the Main Journey (of the places mentioned in Around the World in 80 Days) there are a couple of places that Jules Verne invented, which makes finding books for them particularly difficult! One such place is Kholby, a fictional town or village in Uttar Pradesh in northern India. So I got as close as I could by visiting Agra, also in Uttar Pradesh, with the wonderful tour-guide Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Sign of the Four. Then I had a frankly disappointing short break in Hong Kong with Rea Tarvydas in How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square. If I get time, I’ll revisit Hong Kong before the challenge ends.

My first detour of the quarter was to Norway, where I got the chance to watch the police solve a cold case in Jørn Lier Horst’s The Katharina Code. Then off to South Korea with Un-Su Kim in The Plotters, a strange but compelling story of feuding assassins. Tim Flannery took me on an amazing journey all over Europe geographically and through time, showing me the flora and fauna through the ages and telling me tales of the ascent of man. Then Yangsze Choo whisked me off to colonial Malay in The Night Tiger, a wonderful tale steeped in the folklore of the Chinese Malaysians. Loving this challenge!

To see the full challenge including the Main Journey and all detours, click here.

60 down, 20 to go!

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The Classics Club

I’ve read four books from my Classics Club list this quarter but have only reviewed three of them so far. However I’ve also reviewed a couple that were hanging over from last year…

37. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – 4 stars for this “non-fiction novel” in which Capote examines the minds and crimes of two real-life murderers. The writing is superb, but I wasn’t keen on the blurring of the lines between fact and fiction which left me resorting to Google to find out the truth of what happened.

38. Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke – a disappointed 3 stars for this sci-fi classic which didn’t wow me as much as I’d hoped. I’m still glad to have read it though, since it’s the book that inspired Stanley Kubrick’s collaboration with Clarke on the amazing film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

39. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs – the full 5 stars for this romping adventure story. Lots of stuff about evolution as it was viewed back then, with racism and sexism of its time, but it’s so full of thrills, excitement, high love and general drama that it swept me along on a tsunami-sized wave of fun.

40. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers – 4½ stars for this espionage adventure about two young Englishmen who set out to foil German invasion plans back in 1903. The second half gets slowed down by Childers’ desire to give a warning about the growing threat from German naval power, but an excellent read overall.

41. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens – the iniquity of debtors’ prisons, nepotism within the ruling classes, and the dangers of speculation on the stock market. Along the way, Dickens produces his usual dazzling array of characterisation and mix of drama, humour and occasional horror. The full 5 stars!

Still running behind, but not hopelessly. I’m making three changes to my list:

  • To replace the abandoned Cannery Row, I’ve added East of Eden. Glutton for punishment, me!
  • I’ve been given a copy of Oxford World’s Classics new edition of Middlemarch for review, so am adding it and removing The Heart of the Matter to make room.
  • I’ve also got the OWC’s new translation of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (yeah, the title has changed too!), so am removing Something Wicked This Way Comes to make space. (Hmm… three short books out, three stonkers in – not sure I’m doing this right…)

41 down, 49 to go!

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

I’m still going really slowly on this challenge, because of all the other vintage crime I’ve been lucky enough to receive for review. I’ve read three this quarter, but have only reviewed one so far. To see the full challenge, click here.

23.  Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles –  a doctor plans to murder his inconvenient wife in this ironical crime novel. Irony is never my favourite thing, so this didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped. Just 3 stars.

23 down, 79 to go!

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5 x 5 Challenge

Oh, dear! This challenge is turning out to be a real albatross and I’m thinking of abandoning it, but I’ll stick it out a bit longer. This quarter I abandoned one and read two, neither of which I’ve yet reviewed, so nothing to report.

2 down, 23 to go!

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An unexpectedly good quarter’s reading, considering what a pig life has been! Thank goodness for books!
Thank you for joining me on my reading adventures and…

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

 

TBR Thursday 186…

Episode 186

My 2019 reading has got off to a start so slow I feel I might have to learn to read backwards. Fortunately my book acquisition rate seems to have slowed too, so the end result is an increase of just 1 to 227.

Here are a few that I will get to… sometime!

Fiction

Courtesy of Quercus via NetGalley. Gorgeous cover, isn’t it? The setting of colonial Malaysia will fit beautifully in my Around the World challenge. Plus I think the blurb is wonderfully enticing…

The Blurb says: In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.
Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.

Captivating and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores the rich world of servants and masters, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and unexpected love. Woven through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.

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Sir Arthur & Mr Holmes

Anyone who visits my blog will be well aware of my never-ending love affair with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This re-read will also tie in with the Around the World challenge in a sneaky kind of way which I will explain when I review it… 

The Blurb says: When a beautiful young woman is sent a letter inviting her to a sinister assignation, she immediately seeks the advice of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.

For this is not the first mysterious item Mary Marston has received in the post. Every year for the last six years an anonymous benefactor has sent her a large lustrous pearl. Now it appears the sender of the pearls would like to meet her to right a wrong.

But when Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson, aiding Miss Marston, attend the assignation, they embark on a dark and mysterious adventure involving a one-legged ruffian, some hidden treasure, deadly poison darts and a thrilling race along the River Thames.

* * * * *

Short Stories

I’m ashamed to say I won this book in a giveaway from the lovely Anne at ivereadthis.com back at the beginning of 2017, and I’m only now getting around to reading it. And it’s another that will take me to foreign climes for my Around the World challenge, this time to look at the life of the ex-pat in Hong Kong…

The Blurb says: These stories follow a kind of life cycle of expatriates in Hong Kong, a place often called the most thrilling city on the planet. They share the feeling of being between two worlds, the experience of being neither here nor there and trying to find a way to fill that space. From the hedonistic first days in How To Pick Up A Maid in Statue Square, as Fast Eddy instructs on how best to approach Filipina maids on their rest day; through the muted middle in Rephrasing Kate, as Kate encounters a charismatic bad boy and is forced to admit her infidelities; to the inevitable end in The Dirty Duck, as Philip realizes his inability to commit and resolves to return home to Australia; Hong Kong alters them all with its frenetic mixture of capitalism and exoticism. Characters exist between the worlds they once knew and this place which now holds them in its spell and shapes them to its ends. Their stories explore how they cope with this space where loneliness and alienation intersect, a place where insomniac young bankers forfeit their ambition while chasing deviant sexual encounters, or consume themselves with climbing the corporate ladder. It is a world where passive domestics live and work for the money they can send home, while their keepers assemble poolside to engage in conversations aroused by the expats’ desire to connect to others who share their fates. Always, of course, there is The Globe, a favourite watering hole where, when night falls, they meet to tell their stories.

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Vintage Crime

Courtesy of the Collins Crime Club. I suspect the victim was stampeded to death by book-bloggers who’d come to the end of their 2018 book-buying bans…

The Blurb says: Book 50 in the Detective Club Crime Classics series is Carolyn Wells’ Murder in the Bookshop, a classic locked room murder mystery which will have a special resonance for lovers and collectors of Golden Age detective fiction. Includes a bonus murder story: The Shakespeare Title-Page Mystery.

When Philip Balfour is found murdered in a New York bookstore, the number one suspect is his librarian, a man who has coveted Balfour’s widow. But when the police discover that a book worth $100,000 is missing, detective Fleming Stone realises that some people covet rare volumes even more highly than other men’s wives, and embarks on one of his most dangerous investigations.

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

Contemporary, Historical and Literary Fiction by Title

A

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark  😐 😐
Absalom! Absalom! by William Faulkner 😦
Absolution by Patrick Flanery  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Accident on the A35 (Insp. Gorski 2) by Graeme Macrae Burnet  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Accusation by Bandi  😀 😀 😀 😀
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens/Patrick Stewart (Audio)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens/Tom Baker (Audio)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Christmas Carol: Audible Drama by Charles Dickens/Derek Jacobi  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle/Derek Jacobi 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry  😦
The African Queen by CS Forester  😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook  😀 😀 😀 😀
After the Lockout by Darren McCann  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Afterward by Edith Wharton  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Agostino by Alberto Moravia  😀 😀 😀 😀
A Heart So White by Javier Marías  😀 😀 😀 🙂

A Kingdom Far and Clear by Mark Helprin  😀 😀 😀 😀
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon  😀 😀 🙂
A Mercy by Toni Morrison  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The American by Henry James  😀 😀 😀 😀
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  😦

American Pastoral by Philip Roth  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Month in the Country by JL Carr  😀 😀 😀 😀
And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Animal Farm by George Orwell  🙂 🙂 🙂
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

A Pinch of Snuff (Dalziel and Pascoe 5) by Reginald Hill  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth by Daniel Mason  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Arzee the Dwarf by Chandrahas Choudhury  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Separate Peace by John Knowles  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki  😐 😐 😐
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Atlantic View by Matthew Geyer  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky  😀 😀 😀 😀

B

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀
Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Battle of Life by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀
Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield  🙂 🙂 🙂
Beloved by Toni Morrison  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks  🙂 🙂 🙂
Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (BBC Drama 2005)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Blessing by Nancy Mitford  🙂 😐
The Blue Guitar by John Banville  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Bones of Paris by Laurie R King  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Boxes by Pascal Garnier  😀 😀 😀 😀
Braised Pork by An Yu  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Brother by David Chariandy  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison  😐 😐
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

C

Carmilla: A Critical Edition by J Sheridan Le Fanu 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger  😐 😐 😐
Chapel Springs Survival by Ane Mulligan  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Childhood of Jesus by JM Coetzee  😦 😦

Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Children Act by Ian McEwan  😦 😦
The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Chimes by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Classic Horror Stories by HP Lovecraft  😀 😀 😀 😀
Cloud Howe (A Scots Quair 2) by Lewis Grassic Gibbon  🙂 🙂 🙂
Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp  😐 😐
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Color Master by Aimee Bender  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Coming of the Fairies by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Commissariat of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Complete Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Conclave by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Coup de Foudre by Ken Kalfus  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Crossing by Andrew Miller 😦 😦

D

The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash  😀 😀 😀 😀
Dare Me by Megan Abbott  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake 2) by CJ Sansom  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Dickens’ Women co-written and performed by Miriam Margolyes
  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dirt Road by James Kelman  😦
The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau by Graeme Macrae Burnet  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake 1) by CJ Sansom  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick  😀 😀 😀 😀
Docherty by William McIlvanney  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak  🙂 🙂 🙂
Dracula by Bram Stoker read by Greg Wise and Saskia Reeves  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Dubliners by James Joyce  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dunstan by Conn Iggulden  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dominion by CJ Sansom  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

E

Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
East of Eden by John Steinbeck  😦 😦
The Easter Parade by Richard Yates  😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Elephant’s Journey by José Saramago  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Emma by Alexander McCall Smith  😦
Emma by Jane Austen by Jane Austen  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Empire Falls by Richard Russo  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene  🙂 🙂 🙂
Enigma by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Equilateral by Ken Kalfus  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Exposure by Helen Dunmore 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

F

The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
F: A Novel by Daniel Kehlmann  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Far North by Marcel Theroux  🙂 🙂 😐
Fatherland by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Fever by Megan Abbott  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The First Men in the Moon by HG Wells  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Flemington by Violet Jacob  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Fujisan by Randy Taguchi  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

G

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng  😦
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Girls by Emma Cline  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Ferdinand von Schirach  😐 😐

The Go-Between by LP Hartley  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Goblin by Ever Dundas  😀 😀 😀 😀
Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt  😦 😦
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell  😦
The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Good People by Hannah Kent  😐 😐
Gothic Tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Gowk Storm By Nancy Brysson Morrison  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Grimm Tales: For Young and Old by Philip Pullman  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie  🙂 🙂 🙂

H

Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge  😀 😀 😀 😀
Harvest by Jim Crace  😀 😀 😀 😀

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Headlong by Michael Frayn  😦 😦
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Heart of Darkness and Other Tales by Joseph Conrad  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Heather Blazing by Colm Tóibín  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman  😐 😐

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Himself by Jess Kidd  😀 😀 😀 🙂
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/Derek Jacobi  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton  😀 😀 😀 😀
House of Names by Colm Tóibín  😀 😀 😀 🙂
The House with the Green Shutter by George Douglas Brown  🙂 🙂 🙂
How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square by Rea Tarvydas  😐 😐

Hunters in the Snow by Daisy Hildyard  😦 😦

I

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
I Am No One by Patrick Flanery  😀 😀 😀 😀

Identical by Scott Turow  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Imagined Corners by Willa Muir  😀 😀 😀 😀
I Married a Communist by Philip Roth  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Imperial Woman by Pearl S Buck  😀 😀 😀 😀

Imperium (Cicero Trilogy 1) by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀
In Another Light by Andrew Greig  🙂 🙂 🙂
In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Invisible Man by HG Wells  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

J

Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates  😐 😐
J: A Novel by Howard Jacobson  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by PG Wodehouse  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

K

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Kiln by William McIlvanney  😀 😀 😀 😀

King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham  😀 😀 😀 😀

L

The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson  😀 😀 😀 😀
Lady Susan  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Lamentation (Matthew Shardlake 6) by CJ Sansom  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
LaRose by Louise Erdrich  🙂 🙂 😐
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.  😦
The Last Kingdom (The Last Kingdom Series 1) by Bernard Cornwell  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford  😦
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Leopard by Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa  😀 😀 😀 😀
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Levels of Life by Julian Barnes  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

The Lion at Bay (The Kingdom Series 2) by Robert Low  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Lion Rampant (The Kingdom Series 3) by Robert Low  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis/Michael York 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series 1) by Robert Low  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Little Lies by Liane Moriarty  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee  😦
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  😦
London: A Literary Anthology by Richard Fairman (ed.)  😀 😀 😀 😀
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by RD Blackmore  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Love Is Blind by William Boyd  🙂 🙂
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri  😐 😐 😐
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

M

Macbeth: A Novel by AJ Hartley and Davud Hewson  😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Marriage by Susan Ferrier  😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Martian by Andy Weir  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter  😐 😐
The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Middlemarch by George Eliot  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Mildred Pierce by James M Cain  😦 😦
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones  😐 😐
Moby-Dick: or, The White Whale by Herman Melville  😐 😐
Moon in a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Mother of Pearl by Angela Savage  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf  🙂 🙂 😐
Munich by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Mystery of Charles Dickens performed by Simon Callow  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

N

Nada the Lily by Sir Henry Rider Haggard  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The New Road by Neil Munro  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The New World by Andrew Motion  😀 😀 😀 😀
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Night Theatre by Vikram Paralkar  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Nightwoods by Charles Frazier  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes  😀 😀 😀

No Name by William Wilkie Collins  😦 😦
Noon by Aatish Taseer  😀 😀 😀 😀
Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Northanger Abbey: An Audible Original Drama  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

O

The Observations by Jane Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway  😀 😀 😀 😀
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
On the Beach by Nevil Shute  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell  😀 😀 😀 😀
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

P

Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy 1) by Naguib Mahfouz  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Parade by Shuichi Yoshida  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks  😀 😀 😀 😀
Passing by Nella Larsen  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Pearl by John Steinbeck  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Pearls on a Branch edited by Najla Jraissaty Khoury  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Persuasion by Jane Austen  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Pleasures of the Table: A Literary Anthology by Christina Hardyment (ed.)  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage  🙂 🙂 😐
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain  🙂 🙂 🙂
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Private Memoirs & Confessions of a Justified Sinner/James Hogg 😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Psycho by Robert Bloch  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies by Ken Kalfus  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Q

R

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford  😀 😀 😀 😀
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Red and the Black by Stendhal  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Red Pill by Hari Kunzru  🙂 🙂 😐
Resistance – A BBC Radio Drama by Val McDermid  🙂 🙂 😐
Revival by Stephen King  😐 😐
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Road by Cormac McCarthy  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Roman Tales by Stendhal  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

S

Sanditon by Jane Austen  😀 😀 😀 😀
Sandlands by Rosy Thornton  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Savage Hour by Elaine Proctor  😀 😀 😀 😀

The Schooldays of Jesus by JM Coetzee  😦 😦
The Second Sleep by Robert Harris  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Seeds of Time by John Wyndham  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope  😦
The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez  😦
Sherlock Holmes: The Dark Mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy  😦 😦
Smith by Leon Garfield  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger  😀 😀 😀 😀
Something to Answer For by PH Newby  🙂 🙂 😐
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison  🙂 🙂 🙂
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake 3) by CJ Sansom  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett  😐 😐 😐
Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash  😀 😀 😀 😀

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann  😀 😀 😀 😀
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst  😦
Strays by Matthew Geyer  😀 😀 😀 😀
Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Sula by Toni Morrison  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano  🙂 🙂 😐
The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert  😀 😀 😀 😀

T

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald  😦
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Testimony by Scott Turow  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín read by Meryl Streep 😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Thin Air by Michelle Paver  😀 😀 😀 😀
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe  😀 😀 😀 😀
Thirst by Ken Kalfus  🙂 🙂 🙂
Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Time Machine by HG Wells  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Titian’s Boatman by Victoria Blake  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Tombland (Matthew Shardlake 7) by CJ Sansom  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene  😀 😀 😀 😀

Treasure Island: An Audible Original Drama by Robert Louis Stevenson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman read by Neil Gaiman  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty  🙂 🙂 😐
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas by Jules Verne  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Two Years Eight Months & Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

U

V

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan  😀 😀 😀 😀
Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Village by Nikita Lalwani  😦
Villain by Shuichi Yoshida  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Visitor by Maeve Brennan  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

W

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver  😀 😀 😀 😀
Walking Wounded by William McIlvanney  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The War of the Worlds by HG Wells  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Waverley: or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since by Sir Walter Scott  😀 😀 😀
The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
What I Found Out About Her by Peter LaSalle  🙂 🙂 🙂
What Lies Within by Tom Vowler  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie  🙂 🙂 🙂
The White Bird Passes by Jessie Kesson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
White Tears by Hari Kunzru  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga  😀 😀 😀 😀
Widows and Orphans by Michael Arditti  🙂 🙂 🙂
Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

X

Y

The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Z

Zero K by Don DeLillo  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Zombie Stories by HP Lovecraft  😀 😀 😀 😀

0-9

1Q84 by Hatuki Murakami  🙂 🙂 🙂 😐
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
1914 Goodbye to All That by Lavinia Greenlaw (ed.)  😀 😀 😀 🙂
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke  😀 😀 😀 😀 :

Contemporary, Historical and Literary Fiction by Author

Abbott, Megan

Dare Me  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The End of Everything  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Fever  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Achebe, Chinua

Things Fall Apart  😀 😀 😀 😀

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi

Americanah 😦

Adiga, Aravind

Last Man in Tower  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Selection Day  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The White Tiger  😀 😀 😀 😀

Arditti, Michael

Widows and Orphans  🙂 🙂 🙂

Atwood, Margaret

Stone Mattress  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Austen, Jane

Emma  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Lady Susan  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Northanger Abbey  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Northanger Abbey: An Audible Original Drama starring Emma Thompson  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Persuasion  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Pride and Prejudice  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Sanditon  😀 😀 😀 😀
Sense and Sensibility  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Bainbridge, Beryl

Harriet Said  😀 😀 😀 😀

Bandi

The Accusation  😀 😀 😀 😀

Banville, John

The Blue Guitar  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Barbash, Tom

The Dakota Winters  😀 😀 😀 😀
Stay Up With Me  😀 😀 😀 😀

Barnes, Julian

Levels of Life  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
The Noise of Time  😀 😀 😀

Barry, Sebastian

Days Without End  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Baxter, Stephen

The Massacre of Mankind  😐 😐

Bender, Aimee

The Color Master  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Benedetti, Mario

Springtime in a Broken Mirror  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Blackmore, RD

Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor  😀 😀 😀 😀

Blake, Victoria

Titian’s Boatman  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Bloch, Robert

Psycho  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Boyd, William

Brazzaville Beach  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Love Is Blind 🙂 🙂
Waiting for Sunrise  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Bradbury, Ray

The Martian Chronicles  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Brennan, Maeve

The Visitor  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Brook, Rhidian

The Aftermath  😀 😀 😀 😀

Brown, George Douglas

The House with the Green Shutters  🙂 🙂 🙂

Buck, Pearl S

Imperial Woman  😀 😀 😀 😀

Bulawayo, NoViolet

We Need New Names  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Bulgakov, Mikhail

The White Guard  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Burnet, Graeme Macrae

The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (Inspector Gorski 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Accident on the A35 (Inspector Gorski 2)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
His Bloody Project  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Burns, Rebecca

The Settling Earth  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Burroughs, Edgar Rice

Tarzan of the Apes  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Cain, James M

Mildred Pierce  😦 😦

Capote, Truman

A Christmas Memory  😀 😀 😀 😀

Carr, JL

A Month in the Country  😀 😀 😀 😀

Catton, Eleanor

The Luminaries  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Chabon, Michael

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay  😀 😀 🙂
Telegraph Avenue  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Chariandy, David

Brother  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Choo, Yangsze

The Night Tiger  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Choudhury, Chandrahas

Arzee the Dwarf  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Christie, Alix

Gutenberg’s Apprentice  🙂 🙂 🙂

Christie, Sally

The Sisters of Versailles  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Clarke, Arthur C

2001: A Space Odyssey  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Childhood’s End  🙂 🙂 🙂

Cline, Emma

The Girls  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Coetzee, JM

The Childhood of Jesus  😦 😦
The Schooldays of Jesus 😦 😦

Collins, William Wilkie

No Name  😦 😦

Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes read by Derek Jacobi  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Study in Scarlet  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Coming of the Fairies  🙂 🙂 🙂

Gothic Tales  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Hound of the Baskervilles read by Derek Jacobi  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Sherlock Holmes: The Dark Mysteries  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Sign of the Four  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Conrad, Joseph

Heart of Darkness  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Heart of Darkness and Other Tales – the other tales  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Lord Jim  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Nostromo  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Cornwell, Bernard

Fools and Mortals  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Last Kingdom (The Last Kingdom Series 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Crace, Jim

Harvest  😀 😀 😀 😀

Davidson, Andy

In the Valley of the Sun  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

DeLillo, Don

Zero K  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Dick, Philip K

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  😀 😀 😀 😀

Dickens, Charles

A Christmas Carol narrated by Patrick Stewart  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
A Christmas Carol narrated by Tom Baker  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

A Christmas Carol: An Audible Original Drama with Derek Jacobi  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
A Tale of Two Cities  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Barnaby Rudge  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Battle of Life  😀 😀 😀 😀
Bleak House (BBC Drama 2005)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Chimes  😀 😀 😀 😀
Complete Ghost Stories  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Cricket on the Hearth  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Dickens’ Women co-written and performed by Miriam Margolyes
  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Little Dorrit  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Martin Chuzzlewit  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Mystery of Charles Dickens performed by Simon Callow  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Nicholas Nickleby  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Old Curiosity Shop  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Our Mutual Friend  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

du Maurier, Daphne

The Birds and Other Stories  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
My Cousin Rachel  😀 😀 😀 😀
Rebecca  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Dundas, Ever

Goblin  😀 😀 😀 😀

Dunmore, Helen

Birdcage Walk 🙂 🙂 🙂
Exposure  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Eliot, George

Middlemarch  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Ellis, Brett Easton

American Psycho  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Engelmann, Karen

The Stockholm Octavo  😀 😀 😀 😀

Enger, Leif

So Brave, Young, and Handsome  😀 😀 😀 😀

Erdrich, Louise

LaRose  🙂 🙂 😐

Fairman, Richard (ed.)

London: A Literary Anthology  😀 😀 😀 😀

Faulkner, William

Absalom! Absalom! 😦

Faulks, Sebastian

Birdsong  🙂 🙂 🙂
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Paris Echo  😀 😀 😀 😀

Ferrier, Susan

Marriage  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Fitzgerald, F Scott

The Great Gatsby  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Tender is the Night  😦

Flanery, Patrick

Absolution  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Fallen Land  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

I Am No One  😀 😀 😀 😀

Ford, Richard

The Lay of the Land  😦

Forester, CS

The African Queen  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Frayn, Michael

Headlong  😦 😦

Frazier, Charles

Nightwoods  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Gaiman, Neil

Trigger Warning read by Neil Gaiman  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Galgut, Damon

The Good Doctor  😀 😀 😀 😀

Garfield, Leon

Smith  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Garnier, Pascal

Boxes  😀 😀 😀 😀
Moon in a Dead Eye  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Geyer, Matthew

Atlantic View  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Strays  😀 😀 😀 😀

Gibbon, Lewis Grassic

Sunset Song (A Scots Quair 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Cloud Howe (A Scots Quair 2)  🙂 🙂 🙂

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins

Herland  😐 😐

Glasfurd, Guinevere

The Year Without Summer  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Godden, Rumer

Black Narcissus  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Grahame, Kenneth

The Wind in the Willows  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Greene, Graham

Brighton Rock  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The End of the Affair  🙂 🙂 🙂
Travels with My Aunt  😀 😀 😀 😀

Greenlaw, Lavinia

1914 Goodbye to All That  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Greig, Andrew

In Another Light  🙂 🙂 🙂

Haggard, H Rider

King Solomon’s Mines  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Nada the Lily  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Hardy, Thomas

Tess of the D’Urbervilles  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Hardyment, Christina (ed.)

Pleasures of the Table: A Literary Anthology  😀 😀 😀 😀

Harris, Jane

The Observations  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Harris, Robert

An Officer and a Spy  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Conclave  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Enigma  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Fatherland  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Imperium (Cicero Trilogy 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀
Munich  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Second Sleep  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Hartley, AJ and Hewson, David

Macbeth: A Novel  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Hartley, LP

The Go-Between  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Helprin, Mark

A Kingdom Far and Clear  😀 😀 😀 😀

Hemingway, Ernest

For Whom the Bell Tolls  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Old Man and the Sea  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Sun Also Rises  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Heyer, Georgette

Bath Tangle  😀 😀 😀 😀
Cotillion  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Hickson, Joanna

The Lady of the Ravens  😀 😀 😀 😀

Hildyard, Daisy

Hunters in the Snow  😦 😦

Hogg, James

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Hollinghurst, Alan

The Stranger’s Child  😦

Hope, Anthony

The Prisoner of Zenda  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Hosseini, Khaled

And the Mountains Echoed  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Kite Runner  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Hurston, Zora Neale

Their Eyes Were Watching God  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Iggulden, Conn

Dunstan  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Irving, Washington

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow  😀 😀 😀 😀

Jackson, Shirley

The Haunting of Hill House  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Lottery  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

We Have Always Lived in the Castle  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Jacob, Violet

Flemington  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Jacobson, Howard

J: A Novel  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

James, Henry

The American  😀 😀 😀 😀

Jenkins, Robin

The Cone-Gatherers  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Jerome, Jerome K

Three Men in a Boat  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Jones, Lloyd

Mister Pip  😐 😐

Joyce, James

Dubliners  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Juster, Norton

The Phantom Tollbooth  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Kalfus, Ken

The Commissariat of Enlightenment  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Coup de Foudre  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Equilateral  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Thirst  🙂 🙂 🙂

Kehlmann, Daniel

F: A Novel  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Kelman, James

Dirt Road  😦

Kent, Hannah

Burial Rites  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Good People  😐 😐

Kesey, Ken

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Kesson, Jessie

The White Bird Passes  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Khoury, Najla Jraissaty

Pearls on a Branch  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Kidd, Jess

Himself  😀 😀 😀 🙂

King, Laurie R

The Bones of Paris  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

King, Stephen

Revival  😐 😐

Kingsolver, Barbara

The Poisonwood Bible  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Knowles, John

A Separate Peace  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Koch, Herman

Summer House with Swimming Pool  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Krzhizhanovsky, Sigizmund

Autobiography of a Corpse  😀 😀 😀 😀

Kunzru, Hari

Gods Without Men  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Red Pill  🙂 🙂 😐
White Tears  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Lahiri, Jhumpa

The Lowland  😐 😐 😐

Lalwani, Nikita

The Village  😦

Lambert, Charles

The Children’s Home  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Lampedusa, Giuseppi Tomasi di

The Leopard  😀 😀 😀 😀

Langdale, Kay

The Comfort of Others  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Larsen, Nella

Passing  😀 😀 😀 😀

LaSalle, Peter

What I Found Out About Her  🙂 🙂 🙂

Laurain, Antoine

The President’s Hat  🙂 🙂 🙂

Lawrence, DH

Sons and Lovers  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Lee, Harper

Go Set a Watchman  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
To Kill a Mockingbird  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Le Fanu, J Sheridan

Carmilla: A Critical Edition edited by Kathleen Costello-Sullivan 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Lewis, CS

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe read by Michael York  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Lovecraft, HP

The Classic Horror Stories  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Zombie Stories  😀 😀 😀 😀

Low, Robert

The Lion at Bay (The Kingdom Series 2)  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Lion Rampant (The Kingdom Series 3)  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Macpherson, Ian

Wild Harbour  😀 😀 😀 😀

Mahfouz, Naaguib

Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Mantel, Hilary

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Marías, Javier

A Heart So White  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Marra, Anthony

The Tsar of Love and Techno  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Martel, Yann

The High Mountains of Portugal  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Mason, Daniel

A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Matheson, Richard

I Am Legend  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

McCall Smith, Alexander

Emma  😦

McCann, Colum

Let the Great World Spin  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

McCann, Darren

After the Lockout  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

McCarthy, Cormac

The Road  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

McCullers, Carson

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

McDermid, Val

Northanger Abbey  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Resistance – A BBC Radio Drama  🙂 🙂 😐

McEwan, Ian

The Children Act  😦 😦

McIlvanney, William

Docherty  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Kiln  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Walking Wounded  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Mackenzie, Compton

Whisky Galore  🙂 🙂 🙂

Melville, Herman

Moby-Dick: or, The White Whale  😐 😐

Miller, Andrew

The Crossing  😦 😦

Mistry, Rohinton

A Fine Balance  😦

Mitchell, Margaret

Gone with the Wind  😦

Mitchison, Naomi

The Bull Calves  😐 😐

Mitford, Nancy

The Blessing  🙂 😐

Modiano, Patrick

Suspended Sentences  🙂 🙂 😐

Moravia, Alberto

Agostino  😀 😀 😀 😀

Morgan, Jude

The Secret Life of William Shakespeare  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Moriarty, Liane

Little Lies  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Truly, Madly, Guilty  🙂 🙂 😐

Morrison, Nancy Brysson

The Gowk Storm  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Morrison, Toni

A Mercy  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Beloved  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Song of Solomon  🙂 🙂 🙂
Sula  😀 😀 😀 😀

Motion, Andrew

The New World  😀 😀 😀 😀
Silver: Return to Treasure Island  😀 😀 😀 😀

Muir, Willa

Imagined Corners  😀 😀 😀 😀

Mukherjee, Neel

The Lives of Others  😦

Mulligan, Ane

Chapel Springs Survival  😀 😀 😀 😀

Munro, Neil

The New Road  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Murakami, Haruki

1Q84  🙂 🙂 🙂 😐

Nabokov, Vladimir

Lolita  😦

Newby, PH

Something to Answer For  🙂 🙂 😐

Oates, Joyce Carol

Jack of Spades  😐 😐

Orwell, George

Animal Farm  🙂 🙂 🙂

Ozeki, Ruth

A Tale for the Time Being  😐 😐 😐

Padura, Leonardo

The Man Who Loved Dogs  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Paralkar, Vikram

Night Theatre  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Pasternak, Boris

Doctor Zhivago  🙂 🙂 🙂

Patchett, Ann

State of Wonder  😐 😐 😐

Paver, Michelle

Dark Matter  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Thin Air  😀 😀 😀 😀
Wakenhyrst  😀 😀 😀 😀

Proctor, Elaine

The Savage Hour  😀 😀 😀 😀

Pullman, Philip

Grimm Tales: For Young and Old  🙂 🙂 🙂

Rindell, Suzanne

Eagle & Crane 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Other Typist  😀 😀 😀 😀
Three-Martini Lunch  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Robinson, Marilynne

Gilead  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Roth, Philip

American Pastoral  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
I Married a Communist  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Roy, Anuradha

Sleeping on Jupiter  😦 😦

Rushdie, Salman

Two Years Eight Months & Twenty-Eight Nights  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Russo, Richard

Empire Falls  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Salinger, JD

The Catcher in the Rye  😐 😐 😐

Sansom, CJ

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake 1)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake 2)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake 3)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Lamentation (Matthew Shardlake 6)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Tombland (Matthew Shardlake 7)  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Dominion  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Saramago, José

The Elephant’s Journey  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Savage, Angela

Mother of Pearl  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Savage, Thomas

The Power of the Dog  🙂 🙂 😐

Schaffert, Timothy

The Swan Gondola  😀 😀 😀 😀

Scott, Paul

The Jewel in the Crown  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Scott, Sir Walter

The Fair Maid of Perth  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Waverley: or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since  😀 😀 😀

Selby, Jr., Hubert

Last Exit to Brooklyn  😦

Setterfield, Diane

Bellman & Black  🙂 🙂 🙂

Shafak, Elif

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Shaffer, Mary Ann

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Sharp, Margery

Cluny Brown  😐 😐

Shelley, Mary

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Sholokhov, Mikhail

And Quiet Flows the Don  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Shotwell, Vivien

Vienna Nocturne  😀 😀 😀 😀

Shriver, Lionel

The Motion of the Body Through Space  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Shute, Nevil

On the Beach  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Smollett, Tobias

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Spark, Muriel

The Abbess of Crewe  😐 😐
The Girls of Slender Means  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Steinbeck, John

East of Eden  😦 😦
The Grapes of Wrath  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Pearl  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Stendhal

The Red and the Black  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Roman Tales  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Stevenson, Robert Louis

Kidnapped  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Treasure Island: An Audible Original Drama  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Stoker, Bram

Dracula read by Greg Wise and Saskia Reeves  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Stratford, Sarah-Jane

Radio Girls  😀 😀 😀 😀

Taguchi, Randy

Fujisan  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Tan, Amy

The Valley of Amazement  😀 😀 😀 😀

Tan, Twan Eng

The Gift of Rain  😦

Tartt, Donna

The Goldfinch  😦 😦

Tarvydas, Rea

How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square  😐 😐

Taseer, Aatish

Noon  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Way Things Were  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Theroux, Marcel

Far North  🙂 🙂 😐
Strange Bodies  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Thornton, Rosy

Sandlands  😀 😀 😀 😀

Tóibín, Colm

The Blackwater Lightship  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Brooklyn  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Heather Blazing  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

House of Names  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Nora Webster  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Testament of Mary  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Testament of Mary read by Meryl Streep  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Towles, Amor

A Gentleman in Moscow  😀 😀 😀 🙂

Trollope, Joanna

Sense and Sensibility  😦

Turow, Scott

Identical  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Testimony  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Twain, Mark

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  🙂 🙂 🙂
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Prince and the Pauper  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Vásquez, Juan Gabriel

The Shape of the Ruins  😦

Verne, Jules

Around the World in Eighty Days  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Vescina, Valeria

That Summer in Puglia  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Vonnegut, Kurt

Slaughterhouse-Five  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

von Schirach, Ferdinand

The Girl Who Wasn’t There  😐 😐

Vowler, Tom

That Dark Remembered Day  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
What Lies Within  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Warren, Robert Penn

All the King’s Men  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Weir, Andy

The Martian  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Wells, HG

The First Men in the Moon  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Invisible Man  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
The Island of Dr Moreau  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The Time Machine  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The War of the Worlds  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Wharton, Edith

Afterward  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Ethan Frome  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

The House of Mirth  😀 😀 😀 😀

Wodehouse, PG

The Code of the Woosters  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Joy in the Morning  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Right Ho, Jeeves  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves  😀 😀 😀 😀

Woolf, Virginia

Mrs Dalloway  🙂 🙂 😐

Wyndham, John

The Day of the Triffids  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The Kraken Wakes  😀 😀 😀 😀
The Seeds of Time  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Yates, Richard

The Easter Parade  😀 😀 😀 🙂
Revolutionary Road  😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Yoshida, Shuichi

Parade  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂
Villain  😀 😀 😀 😀

Yu, An

Braised Pork  😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Around the World in 80 Books

Travelling hopefully…

For someone who says I don’t do challenges, I somehow seem to keep being tempted by them! This is another of the kind I like, relaxed, no strict rules, and most of all a completely open timescale.

Hosted by Sarah and Lucy at the wonderful Hard Book Habit, here’s what they say…

Here’s the deal.  You’ll need to read 80 books set or connected with the random destinations of your choice, then you blog about each book that you read en route. You can choose any books you like – this challenge is not limited to fiction – and the only catch is that you must read at least one book connected to each continent, one sea-based book, and a book that involves travel – think the Orient Express, flight, hot-air balloons, train journeys, car trips, etc… the rest is up to you.

Since I already tend to range fairly widely around the world of fiction (I think), I reckon this should be a challenge that I can mostly meet from my normal reading. So I thought it might be fun to go back to the original book that inspired the challenge and see if I can find books for each stage of Phineas Fogg’s original journey. Wikipedia not only tells me where Fogg and his faithful servant Passepartout stopped, but they provide a map!

780px-Around_the_World_in_Eighty_Days_map

Personally I think their route looks fairly dull, so I hope to do plenty of detours along the way. I’ll only be including books I recommend (unless I get stuck) and I’ll be adding them as I review them, so pop back occasionally to see where I’ve been. Here’s the plan…

The Main Journey

  1. London  – Martin Chuzzlewit
  2. Orient Express – Travels with My Aunt
  3. France – The Sisters of Versailles
  4. Alps – Crossed Skis
  5. Venice – Titian’s Boatman
  6. Brindisi – That Summer in Puglia
  7. Mediterranean Sea – Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas
  8. Suez – Something to Answer For
  9. Egypt – Palace Walk
  10. Red Sea/Arabian Sea – Lord Jim
  11. Bombay – Selection Day
  12. Calcutta – A Rising Man
  13. Kholby – The Jewel in the Crown
  14. Elephant Travel – The Elephant’s Journey
  15. Allahabad – The Sign of the Four
  16. Indian Ocean/ South China Sea – A Dangerous Crossing
  17. Hong Kong – How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square
  18. Shanghai – Death of a Red Heroine
  19. Yokohama – Around the World in Eighty Days
  20. Pacific – Moby-Dick: Or, The White Whale
  21. San Francisco – The Dain Curse
  22. Sioux lands – Days Without End
  23. Omaha – The Swan Gondola
  24. New York – Three-Martini Lunch
  25. Atlantic Ocean – Treasure Island
  26. Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland – Dead Wake
  27. London – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Some of these will be harder than others so a bit of creativity might be required. Suggestions very welcome, especially for the places I’ve highlighted in purple, so please get your thinking caps on! Any genre…

The Detours

That leaves 53 spots for me to randomly tour the world, so here’s where I’ve been so far…

  1. The Hebrides – Coffin Road
  2. Florida – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  3. Iceland – Snowblind
  4. Himalayas – Black Narcissus
  5. Ireland – The Heather Blazing
  6. Channel Islands – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  7. Australian Outback – Fear is the Rider
  8. Portugal – The High Mountains of Portugal
  9. Milan, Italy – The Murdered Banker
  10. Havana, Cuba – A Heart So White
  11. Saturn – 2001: A Space Odyssey
  12. Kabul, Afghanistan – The Kite Runner
  13. Vatican City – Conclave
  14. Dresden, Germany – Slaughterhouse-Five
  15. Scottish Highlands – Murder of a Lady
  16. The French Riviera – Death on the Riviera
  17. Kiev, Ukraine – The White Guard
  18. North Korea – The Accusation
  19. Chechnya – The Tsar of Love and Techno
  20. Japan – Penance
  21. Beijing, China – Braised Pork
  22. Ancient Greece – House of Names
  23. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Testimony
  24. Moscow, Russia – Doctor Zhivago
  25. Republic of the Congo – Brazzaville Beach
  26. Thailand – Behind the Night Bazaar
  27. Antarctic – Endurance
  28. Wales – The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories
  29. Spain – The Man Who Loved Dogs
  30. New Zealand – The Ice Shroud
  31. Gibraltar – The Rock
  32. Canada – Brother
  33. Jordan – Appointment with Death
  34. South Africa – The Good Doctor
  35. Lebanon – Pearls on a Branch
  36. Colombia – The Shape of the Ruins
  37. Uruguay – Springtime in a Broken Mirror
  38. Ancient Rome – Imperium
  39. Norway – The Katharina Code
  40. South Korea – The Plotters
  41. Europe – Europe: A Natural History
  42. Colonial Malay – The Night Tiger
  43. Istanbul, Turkey – 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
  44. Papua New Guinea – Mister Pip
  45.  Zululand – Nada the Lily
  46.  East Germany – The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
  47.  Mexico – The Pearl
  48.  Nigeria – Things Fall Apart
  49.  Öland, Sweden – Echoes from the Dead
  50.  Sicily – The Leopard
  51.  Ruritania – The Prisoner of Zenda
  52.  The Arctic – Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus
  53.   Romania – Sword

80 down, 0 to go!

The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons

Bleak realism…

😀 😀 😀

Hugh Bennett is a young reporter, working on a provincial newspaper covering all the small-town stories. On Guy Fawkes night, he is sent to cover the annual bonfire in the village of Far Wether. But there’s been trouble in Far Wether recently, when a gang of youths caused a disturbance at a local dance and were roughly ejected by a local resident, James Corby. During the bonfire the youths return and, in the darkness, Corby is killed. There are plenty of witnesses, but none who can swear to having seen the actual stabbing. The police have to make sense of the conflicting reports, but eventually, after interviewing the members of the gang intensively, they build up a case against “King” Garney, the leader of the gang, and his faithful follower, Leslie Gardner. The evidence, especially in the case of Gardner, is pretty circumstantial, and one of the big national newspapers decides to pay for his defence…

This is well written and very believable, with a good deal to say about the alienation of youth and the psychology of young men who get caught up in gangs. Hugh knows Leslie’s sister, Jill, and is in the process of falling in love with her, so he finds himself becoming personally as well as professionally involved in the case and, having been at the bonfire, he is also a witness. Symons gives what feels like an authentic portrayal of the life of a reporter on a local paper, covering relatively trivial stories and dreaming of making the big-time on one of the national newspapers. Hugh finds himself working with Frank Fairfield, a major crime reporter from one of those nationals, a man with a reputation for good investigative journalism, but who has an obvious drink problem.

Unfortunately, this one didn’t really work for me. The sordid type of crime and the array of unlikeable characters meant that I didn’t much care whether Gardner was guilty or innocent. First published in 1960, Symons concentrates on gritty realism and social issues, at the expense, in my opinion, of mystery and entertainment. The introduction by Martin Edwards tells us that Symons was inspired by a real crime and I rarely find real crime as enjoyable as imagined crime. However that’s a subjective opinion – many other readers will probably appreciate the emphasis on realism. The moral, upstanding Golden Age policeman has given way to the bullying, violent type who always leave me wondering whether they’re actually any better than the criminals. It may be a more accurate portrayal of the policing of that era, but again it meant I couldn’t find myself fully on the side of “law and order”.

Julian Symons

The latter part of the book covers the trial of the two youths, and this is the best part, with all the traditional surprises being sprung by the defence barrister, while the equally competent prosecutor smoothly responds. Gardner’s family is well developed too, so that we see the tensions among them even before the trial, with young Leslie and his father at loggerheads and Jill, the daughter of the family, trying to mediate. But again I found them all unpleasant people to spend time with, even Jill, whom I suspect we were supposed to like. For Hugh, it’s a bit of a coming-of-age story, as his youthful idealism about journalism takes some serious knocks as he sees the lack of compassion the top reporters have for those caught up in their stories.

So I appreciated the feeling of authenticity Symons manages to create, and am sure this will appeal to people who like their crime fiction to have an air of realism. But for me it was too bleak a read, lacking any elements of warmth or humour to lift the tone.

The book also includes a short story, The Tigers of Subtopia, again about disaffected youth and the reaction of a man who usually thinks of himself as liberal when he feels his own family under threat. I felt much the same about this as about the novel – very well done, authentic and realistic, but too bleak for me.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, the British Library.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 232 – The People’s Choice…

Episode 232

(A reminder of the People’s Choice plan. Once a month or so, I shall list the four oldest books on the TBR, then the next four, and so on, and each time you will select the one you think I should read, either because you’ve read and enjoyed it, or because you think the blurb looks good. And I will read the one you pick within three months! If I begin to fall behind, I’ll have a gap till I catch up again. In the event of a tie, I’ll have the casting vote.)

OK, are we all ready for the next batch of four? Leaping ahead by a whole year, these are all books that I added to my TBR in 2013/4, so it’s about time I read one of them, eh? I will read and review this month’s winner by the end of June.

Are you ready? Then put on your flippers, adjust your snorkel and dive in…

Crime

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

Added 4th January 2013. 3,879 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.66 average rating. 449 pages.

The Blurb says: Rose Janko is missing. It has been seven years since she disappeared, and nobody said a word. Now, following the death of his wife, her father Leon feels compelled to find her. Rumour had it she ran off when her baby boy was born with the family’s genetic disorder. Leon is not so sure. He wants to know the truth and he hires a private investigator to discover it – Ray Lovell. Ray starts to delve deeper, but his investigation is hampered by the very people who ought to be helping him – the Jankos. He cannot understand their reluctance to help. Why don’t they want to find Rose Janko?

* * * * *

Historical Fiction

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

Added 5th June 2013. 10,890 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.23 average. 460 pages.

The Blurb says: Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip’s family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei – to whom he owes absolute loyalty – has been harbouring a devastating secret. Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is.

With masterful and gorgeous narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas – of rain swept beaches, magical mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid and forbidding rainforests – Tan Twan Eng weaves a haunting and unforgettable story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love. 

* * * * *

Fiction Short Stories

Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga

Added 20th December 2013. 5,277 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.35 average. 353 pages.

The Blurb says: Welcome to Kittur, India. It’s on India’s southwestern coast, bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Kaliamma River to the south and east. It’s blessed with rich soil and scenic beauty, and it’s been around for centuries. Of its 193,432 residents, only 89 declare themselves to be without religion or caste. And if the characters in Between the Assassinations are any indication, Kittur is an extraordinary crossroads of the brightest minds and the poorest morals, the up-and-coming and the downtrodden, and the poets and the prophets of an India that modern literature has rarely addressed.

A blinding, brilliant, and brave mosaic of Indian life as it is lived in a place called Kittur, Between the Assassinations, with all the humour, sympathy, and unflinching candour of The White Tiger, enlarges our understanding of the world we live in today.

* * * * *

Crime

Frozen Out by Quentin Bates

Added 1st January 2014. 1,943 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.60 average. 337 pages. 

The Blurb says: The discovery of a corpse washed up on a beach in an Icelandic backwater sparks a series of events that propels the village of Hvalvik’s police sergeant Gunnhildur into deep waters.

Although under pressure to deal with the matter quickly, she is suspicious that the man’s death was no accident and once she has identified the body, sets about investigating his final hours.The case takes Gunnhildur away from her village and into a cosmopolitan world of shady deals, government corruption and violence. She finds herself alone and less than welcome in this hostile environment as she tries to find out who it was that made sure the young man drowned on a dark night one hundred kilometres from where he should have been – and why.

* * * * *

VOTE NOW!

(Click on title and then remember to also click on Vote, or your vote won’t count!)

 

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

The Classics Club Spin #22

Place your bets…

classics club logo 2

The Classics Club is holding its 22nd Spin, and my 9th. The idea is to list 20 of the books on your Classics Club list before next Sunday, 22nd December. On that day, the Classics Club will post the winning number. The challenge is to read and review whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 31st January, 2020.

There’s almost zero chance of me being able to fit one by the end of January since I’m just about to embark on my Christmas Dickens read, Barnaby Rudge. But when did the prospect of certain failure ever stop me from making a list? Of course, if the spin comes up with Barnaby Rudge, I’ll be feeling pretty smug! Or if it comes up with a very short one that I can squeeze in. But an awful lot of these are monsters…

* * * * *

1) Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

2) The American by Henry James

3) Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

4) All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

5) The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw

6) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

7) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

8) The African Queen by CS Forester

9) Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens

10) Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp

11) Children of the Dead End by Patrick McGill

12) The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

13) Grey Granite by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

14) Flemington by Violet Jacob

15) No Mean City by Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long

16) The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

17) I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane

18) The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

19) Way Station by Clifford D Simak

20) Earth Abides by George R Stewart

* * * * * * *

Which one would you like to see win?

The Classics Club Spin #20

The luck of the draw…

classics club logo 2

The Classics Club is holding its 20th Spin, and my 7th. The idea is to list 20 of the books on your Classics Club list before next Monday, 22nd April. On that day, the Classics Club will post the winning number. The challenge is to read and review whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by 31st May, 2019.

Because I have a little batch of chunky classics for review from the lovely people at OWC which I must read over the next couple of months, I won’t be able to meet that deadline. But I’ve decided to join in anyway, with a view to reading my spin winner in July. At the moment my July schedule is empty-ish, so I’ve included lots of the longer books on my list this time. Now it’s all up to the luck of the draw…

* * * * *

1) The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

2) Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

3) For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

4) All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

5) The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw

6) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

7) Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

8) Nada the Lily by H Rider Haggard

9) The African Queen by CS Forester

10) Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp

11) The House with the Green Shutters by George Douglas Brown

12) The New Road by Neil Munro

13) Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

14) The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison

15) The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

16) The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allinghaml

17) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré

18) Earth Abides by George R Stewart

19) On the Beach by Neville Shute

20) Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein

* * * * * * *

Which one would you like to see win?

The Classics Club Spin #19

In the lap of the gods…

classics club logo 2

The Classics Club is holding its 19th Spin, and my 6th. The idea is to list 20 of the books on your Classics Club list before next Tuesday, 27th November. On that day, the Classics Club will post the winning number. The challenge is to read and review whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by 31st January, 2019. This seems like a super generous amount of time, so the Club is recommending we set ourselves the challenge to read one of the chunkier books on our lists, and as we all know some of those pesky classics can be very chunky indeed!

All very well and I’m always up for a challenge! But… I’ve already scheduled my annual Dickens monster, Little Dorrit this year, for the festive season and also committed to reading all five of his Christmas books! So I’ve put some biggies on my list but I’ve also snuck some shorter ones in there in the hopes that fate will be kind to me *laughs hollowly*. It’s all in the lap of the gods…

* * * * *

1) The American by Henry James

2) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3) Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

4) The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr

5) Earth Abides by George R Stewart

6) Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

7) Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

8) The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison

9) I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane

10) The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

11) Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

12) The African Queen by CS Forester

13) Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie

14) The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

15) Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein

16) In the Heat of the Night by John Ball

17) The Go-Between by LP Hartley

18) The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

19) Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver

20) The Drowned World by JG Ballard

* * * * * * *

I’d be delighted to read most of these. Remember, Classics Club Gods, short! Short! In the Heat of the Night. The African Queen. I, The Jury. But if you must go long, then Mansfield Park would be nice, or The Bull Calves, or The Game of Kings…

Which one would you like to see win?

TBR Thursday 123 and 20 Books of Summer Poll Result…

Episode 123…

Just a small increase in the TBR since my last post – up 1 to 196. Oh, excuse me one moment – the postman’s at the door…

Now, where was I? Oh yes, up 2 to 197. But that’s pretty good, since I’ve been a little distracted…

Here are a few that should help fill in the gaps between matches during this tennis season…

Crime

Courtesy of the publisher, Harvill Secker. I loved Mukherjee’s debut novel, A Rising Man, so this is one of my most anticipated books of the year. No pressure then…

The Blurb says: India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah’s son.

The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes – and romantic relationship – may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.

As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…

* * * * *

Fiction

One that’s been on my TBR for far too long – ever since Cleo’s great review of it way back in April last year. I loved the film Heavenly Creatures, which tells the story of the real-life murder on which this book is more loosely based – a fascinating  and disturbing case in its own right, so I have high hopes of this one. It will be my first Beryl Bainbridge…

The Blurb says: Beryl Bainbridge’s evocation of childhood in a rundown northern holiday resort.

A girl returns from boarding school to her sleepy Merseyside hometown and waits to be reunited with her childhood friend, Harriet, chief architect of all their past mischief. She roams listlessly along the shoreline and the woods still pitted with wartime trenches, and encounters ‘the Tsar’ – almost old, unhappily married, both dangerously fascinating and repulsive.

Pretty, malevolent Harriet finally arrives – and over the course of the long holidays draws her friend into a scheme to beguile then humiliate the Tsar, with disastrous, shocking consequences. A gripping portrayal of adolescent transgression, Beryl Bainbridge’s classic first novel remains as subversive today as when it was written.

* * * * *

Crime on Audio

Having loved Hugh Fraser’s narration of The ABC Murders, I promptly used up all my spare Audible credits on as many of his versions of the Christie novels as I could lay my greedy little hands on. Time to revisit one of the real gems… 

The Blurb says: Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N. Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again…and again. (See, even blurbs were shorter back in the Good Old Days…)

* * * * *

The 20th Book

Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poll to decide which book should take the 20th spot on my list for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. It was very exciting, with three books staying neck and neck for a while, but eventually one pulled ahead into a clear lead…

And the winner is…

The Blurb says: On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

The Malice of Waves and Above the Waterfall came equal second, so they will be my fall-back books in case of abandonment issues…

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or Audible UK.

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

* * * * *

The Classics Club Spin #15

Rien ne va plus…

classics club logo 2

The Classics Club is holding its 15th Spin, and my second. The idea is to list 20 of the books on your Classics Club list before this Friday, 10th March. On Friday, the Classics Club will post the winning number. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by May 1, 2017. Frankly I have no idea how I’m going to fit another book into my over-stuffed schedule over that period, but I’m sure it will all work out somehow! I shall stock up on medicinal chocolate (for energy, you know) and warn my therapist to be on stand-by…

So here’s my list. I’ve selected it on the basis of mostly including books I already own, and have included some from all five of the categories in my CC list – American fiction, English fiction, Scottish fiction, crime fiction and science fiction. I’m in the mood for some of these more than others, in truth, so here’s hoping for a good spin…

1) The American by Henry James

2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

3) The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

4) The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

5) The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells

6) My Antonia by Willa Cather

7) No Name by William Wilkie Collins

8) The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott

9) The 39 Steps by John Buchan

10) Earth Abides by George R Stewart

11) Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

12) Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore

13) The New Road by Neil Munro

14) The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

15) The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

16) Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr

17) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

18) Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

19) The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré

20) Way Station by Clifford D Simak

* * * * * * *

If I had to choose, I’d like to see The Tiger in the Smoke come up, or The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. There are some I’d love to read but are quite long so will be tough to fit in, but the wheel is already spinning and my bets have all been placed…

Which one would you like to see win?

The Classics Club

classics club logo 2The List

On 23/6/16, I joined The Classics Club. In fact, it won’t change my reading patterns much at all, since I routinely read a fair number of classics every year. Most of the items on my list are already on my TBR, wishlist or bookshelves, while many of the rest are part of the ongoing Great American Novel Quest. Many of them are also re-reads, since re-reading favourite classics is always a pleasure, and I haven’t done enough of it since I got distracted by all the shiny new books for review.

The rules of the club are relatively simple. Basically, a list of at least 50 books is required, along with a commitment to read and post about them within 5 years. The list part is no problem, and I guess no-one will throw me in a rat-infested dungeon should my commitment falter over the years.

Will they??

wind-in-willows-e-h-shepard-ratty-and-mole-in-a-boat

The benefits of joining are primarily that it’s a good way to meet other book bloggers who enjoy reading classic fiction too.

In terms of defining what is a classic, I’ve decided quite simply that any book originally published more than 50 years ago counts, therefore my cut-off date is 1965.

1965

So here’s my list – 90 books which I “commit” to reading and posting about within the next five years. As I review them, I will update the titles to include links to the reviews.

The American Section

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
The American by Henry James (1877)
My Antonia by Willa Cather  (1918)
Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald (1934) – re-read
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (1940)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
Mildred Pierce by James M Cain (1941)
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw (1948)
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (1953)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) – re-read
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
Last Exit to Brooklyn
by Hubert Selby Jr (1964)
In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (1965)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)

gone with the wind

The English Section

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814) – re-read
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) – re-read
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (1838) – re-read
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (1840)
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens ( 1841) – re-read
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1855) – re-read
No Name by William Wilkie Collins (1862)
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (1864)
Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by RD Blackmore (1869)
Middlemarch by George Eliot (1872)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891) – re-read
Nada the Lily by H Rider Haggard (1892)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1902)
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence (1913) – re-read
The African Queen by CS Forester (1935)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) – re-read
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938) – re-read
Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp (1944)
The Go-Between by LP Hartley (1953) – re-read
Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer (1955) – re-read

tess of the d'urbervilles

The Scottish Section

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett (1771)
Marriage by Susan Ferrier (1818)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)
The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott (1828) – re-read
The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson (1889)
The House with the Green Shutters by George Douglas Brown (1901)
Flemington by Violet Jacob (1911)
The New Road by Neil Munro (1914)
Children of the Dead End by Patrick McGill (1914)
The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1915) – re-read
Imagined Corners by Willa Muir (1931)
Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1933) – re-read
The Gowk Storm by Nancy Brysson Morrison (1933)
No Mean City by Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long (1935)
Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie (1947)
The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison (1947)
The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins (1955)
The White Bird Passes by Jessie Kesson (1958)
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (1961)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961) – re-read

the prime of miss jean brodie

The Crime Section

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (1903)
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)
The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain (1934)
The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr (1935)
The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White (1936)
I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane (1947)
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (1950)
The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham (1952)
She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac (1952)
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)
Cop Hater by Ed McBain (1956) – re-read
4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie (1957) – re-read
Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver (1958)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré (1963)

strangers on a train

The Sci-fi Section

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas by Jules Verne (1870)
The Island of Dr Moreau
by HG Wells (1896)
The First Men in the Moon by HG Wells (1901)
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912)
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
We by Yevgeny Samyatin (1924)
Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson (1936)
Earth Abides by George R Stewart (1949)
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951) – re-read
Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951) – re-read
Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke (1953)
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)
On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) – re-read
The Drowned World by JG Ballard (1962)
Way Station by Clifford D Simak (1963)


the day of the triffids

* * * * * * *

The list will undoubtedly change over time. But, meantime, what do you think (assuming you’re still awake)? Any there that you don’t think deserve a place? Or that you love? Or any different ones you’d like to see added?

TBR Thursday 88 – Joining The Classics Club

classics club logo 2The List

As I wander round the blogosphere, I’ve often been tempted to join The Classics Club, so now’s the time. In fact, it won’t change my reading patterns much at all, since I routinely read a fair number of classics every year. Most of the items on my list are already on my TBR, wishlist or bookshelves, while many of the rest are part of the ongoing Great American Novel Quest. Many of them are also re-reads, since re-reading favourite classics is always a pleasure, and I haven’t done enough of it since I got distracted by all the shiny new books for review.

The rules of the club are relatively simple. Basically, a list of at least 50 books is required, along with a commitment to read and post about them within 5 years. The list part is no problem, and I guess no-one will throw me in a rat-infested dungeon should my commitment falter over the years. Will they??

wind-in-willows-e-h-shepard-ratty-and-mole-in-a-boat

The benefits of joining are primarily that it’s a good way to meet other book bloggers who enjoy reading classic fiction too.

In terms of defining what is a classic, I’ve decided quite simply that any book originally published more than 50 years ago counts, therefore my cut-off date is 1965.

1965

So here’s my list – 90 books which I “commit” to reading and posting about within the next five years…

The American Section

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852) – re-read
The American by Henry James (1877)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair  (1906)
My Antonia by Willa Cather  (1918)
Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)
Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West (1933)
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald (1934) – re-read
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (1940)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
Mildred Pierce by James M Cain (1941)
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1945)
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw (1948)
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) – re-read
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr (1964)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)

gone with the wind

The English Section

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814) – re-read
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) – re-read
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (1838) – re-read
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens ( 1841) – re-read
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1855) – re-read
No Name by William Wilkie Collins (1862)
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (1864)
Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore (1869)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens (1870)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891) – re-read
Nada the Lily by H Rider Haggard (1892)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1902)
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence (1913) – re-read
The African Queen by CS Forester (1935)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) – re-read
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938) – re-read
Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp (1944)
The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (1948) – re-read
The Go-Between by LP Hartley (1953) – re-read
Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer (1955) – re-read

tess of the d'urbervilles

The Scottish Section

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett (1771)
Annals of the Parish by John Galt (1821)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)
The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott (1828) – re-read
The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson (1889)
The House with the Green Shutters by George Douglas Brown (1901)
Flemington by Violet Jacob (1911)
The New Road by Neil Munro (1914)
Children of the Dead End by Patrick McGill (1914)
The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1915) – re-read
Imagined Corners by Willa Muir (1931)
Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1933) – re-read
The Gowk Storm by Nancy Brysson Morrison (1933)
Grey Granite by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1934) – re-read
No Mean City by Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long (1935)
Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie (1947)
The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison (1947)
The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins (1955)
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (1961)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961) – re-read

the prime of miss jean brodie

The Crime Section

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (1903)
The 39 Steps by John Buchan (1915) – re-read
The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain (1934)
The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr (1935)
The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White (1936)
I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane (1947)
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (1950)
The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham (1952)
She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac (1952)
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)
Cop Hater by Ed McBain (1956) – re-read
4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie (1957) – re-read
Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver (1958)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré (1963)

strangers on a train

The Sci-fi Section

The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells (1896)
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
Earth Abides by George R Stewart (1949)
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951) – re-read
Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951) – re-read
Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke (1953)
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)
On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) – re-read
Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein (1959)
Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs (1959)
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison (1961) – re-read
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)
The Drowned World by JG Ballard (1962)
Way Station by Clifford D Simak (1963)

the day of the triffids

* * * * * * *

The list will undoubtedly change over time. But, meantime, what do you think (assuming you’re still awake)? Any there that you don’t think deserve a place? Or that you love? Or any different ones you’d like to see added?