TBR Thursday 11…

Episode 11

 

Despite some rigorous pruning the TBR remains stubbornly high at exactly 100 – and that doesn’t include all the recommendations arising from the Great American Novel Quest. Second only to all you bloggie people constantly tempting me, NetGalley is by far the worst offender…here’s just a few of the ones I couldn’t resist…

Courtesy of NetGalley:

 

black moonNot my usual fare at all and frankly I can’t remember why I picked it. But who knows, maybe it’ll be great…

…a black moon had risen, a sphere of sleeplessness that pulled at the tides of blood—an invisible explanation for the madness welling inside.

The world has stopped sleeping. Restless nights have grown into days of panic, delirium and, eventually, desperation. But few and far between, sleepers can still be found – a gift they quickly learn to hide. For those still with the ability to dream are about to enter a waking nightmare.

Kenneth Calhoun’s dark, hallucinatory and brilliantly realised debut confronts one of our deepest needs – and fears – with style, vision and a very human heart.”

*****

the future of the mindMichio Kaku always manages to make sciency stuff fairly palatable on TV, so now to find out if he can explain the mysteries of the mind simply enough for my poor mind to absorb…

“Recording memories, mind reading, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis – no longer are these feats of the mind solely the province of overheated science fiction. As Michio Kaku reveals, not only are they possible, but with the latest advances in brain science and recent astonishing breakthroughs in technology, they already exist. In The Future of the Mind, the New York Times-bestselling author takes us on a stunning, provocative and exhilarating tour of the top laboratories around the world to meet the scientists who are already revolutionising the way we think about the brain – and ourselves.”

*****

paradeI enjoyed Shuichi Yoshida’s Villain apart from some translation issues, so will be interested to see how this one compares…

“Four twenty-somethings share an apartment in Tokyo. In Parade each tells their story: their lives, their hopes and fears, their loves, their secrets.

Kotomi waits by the phone for a boyfriend who never calls. Ryosuke wants someone that he can’t have. Mirai spends her days drawing and her nights hanging out in gay bars. Naoki works for a film company, and everyone treats him like an elder brother. Then Satoru turns up. He’s eighteen, homeless, and does night work of a very particular type.

In the next-door apartment something disturbing is going on. And outside, in the streets around their apartment block, there is violence in the air. From the writer of the cult classic Villain, Parade is a tense, disturbing, thrilling tale of life in the city.”

*****

failure and the american writerSeemed an appropriate choice since I’m intending to read so much classic American fiction this year…

“If America worships success, then why has the nation’s literature dwelled obsessively on failure? This book explores encounters with failure by nineteenth-century writers – ranging from Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville to Mark Twain and Sarah Orne Jewett – whose celebrated works more often struck readers as profoundly messy, flawed and even perverse. Reading textual inconsistency against the backdrop of a turbulent nineteenth century, Gavin Jones describes how the difficulties these writers faced in their faltering search for new styles, coherent characters and satisfactory endings uncovered experiences of blunder and inadequacy hidden in the culture at large. Through Jones’s treatment, these American writers emerge as the great theorists of failure who discovered ways to translate their own social insecurities into complex portrayals of a modern self, founded in moral fallibility, precarious knowledge and negative feelings. “

Of course, it might be entirely unreadable… 😉

*****

 

the outcast deadIt’s becoming a stretch to accept that an archaeologist gets involved in so many crimes, but I’m not quite ready to give up on the Ruth Galloway series yet…

“Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, a forbidding edifice that was once a prison.

She believes the body may be that of infamous Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care.

DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-dead killers. Immersed in the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s convinced that a family member is responsible, though others on his team think differently.

Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson.”

*****

All blurbs are taken from either Amazon or NetGalley.

A mixed bunch this time – I’m hoping at least some of them will be great reads…

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

Dying FallDem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones… 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

When archaeologist Dan Golding finds the burial site of the Raven King, he writes to his old university friend Ruth Galloway to ask for her expert help in examining the bones. But by the time Ruth receives the letter, Dan is dead…

In this outing, Griffiths takes Ruth north to Lancashire, accompanied by her child Kate and her druid friend Cathbad. Nelson follows, partly to visit his old home and the family and friends that still live there, partly to find out what’s happening in the police investigation of Dan’s death. The descriptions of Lancashire are very good, highlighting the differences between the glitzy vulgarity of Blackpool, the net-curtained respectability of the small towns around, and the wild and desolate feel of the countryside and woods. Ruth remains a likeable character on the whole, although her constant obsession with her weight is becoming ever more tiresome. We get it – she’s fat and she’d rather be slim. Cathbad and Nelson are becoming more rounded and more likeable as the series progresses and Griffiths’ portrayal of each of their relationships to little Kate feel very realistic.

However, I found that there were a few problems with the book. Firstly, I got very tired of Northerners being portrayed as somehow culturally Neanderthal, dragging behind their sophisticated counterparts down south in questions of sexism, racism, and political correctness generally – a very clichéd approach, I felt. I found the present-tense narrative felt false and contrived and the book seemed to take an age to really get going. But more than that, there were some ridiculous things relating to the police investigation that lent an air of unreality to the whole thing: it took the police weeks to start a murder investigation – it seemed as if they were content to do nothing while they waited for Ruth and Nelson to arrive; no-one except the police seemed to know Dan had been murdered till Ruth told them; the police didn’t think to call Dan’s phone – it was left to Ruth to come up with that hardly revolutionary idea; and finally and most unrealistically, the police gave Ruth a copy of Dan’s diary to read to see if she could spot any clues – presumably Northerners can’t read?

Having said that, the plot is interesting (if a little far-fetched), the characterisation is good and the last third or so of the book is exciting and full of tension. Overall, I enjoyed it but I feel the author has to tighten up on the loose plot contrivances if she wants to take her place in the front-rank of current crime/thriller writers. Somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me, so rounding up because despite my criticisms I will still be looking out for the next in the series.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.

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Amazon US Link