TBR Thursday 103…

Episode 103…

I seem to be operating on a one in, one out, basis at the moment, since for the fourth week in a row, the TBR has remained static on 181, and the number of outstanding review copies stays the same at 38. And I’m still “reading” Moby-Dick! (i.e. It looks at me accusingly every time I open the Kindle, and occasionally I read a few pages hoping something will happen, only to find he’s still sneering at artists or boring on about how fish aren’t like dogs – seriously! An amazing revelation – guess there’s no more point in me throwing sticks into the river and shouting “fetch” then…)

Here are a few that may help to restore my joie de vivre. I’m trying to clear some of the NetGalley books that have been hanging around for too long, so some of these are ones where my enthusiasm wore off a bit after requesting them. But hopefully it will revive once I start reading…

Factual

dead-wakeHaving thoroughly enjoyed Larson’s earlier The Devil in the White City, I’ve been wanting to read this one for ages…

The Blurb says: On 1st May 1915, the luxury ocean liner Lusitania sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool. Her passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone and its submarines were bringing terror to the Atlantic.

But the Lusitania’s captain, William Thomas Turner, had faith in the gentlemanly terms of warfare that had, for a century, kept civilian ships safe from attack. He also knew that his ship was the fastest then in service and could outrun any threat. Germany was, however, intent on changing the rules, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. For this would be the ill-fated Lusitania’s final crossing . . .

* * * * *

Crime

murder-of-a-ladyCourtesy of NetGalley. These British Library re-issues of forgotten classics have been a mixed bag – some great, some showing why they were forgotten. But they’re all interesting as an insight into how the genre has developed over the years…

The Blurb says:  Duchlan Castle is a gloomy, forbidding place in the Scottish Highlands. Late one night the body of Mary Gregor, sister of the laird of Duchlan, is found in the castle. She has been stabbed to death in her bedroom – but the room is locked from within and the windows are barred. The only tiny clue to the culprit is a silver fish’s scale, left on the floor next to Mary’s body. Inspector Dundas is dispatched to Duchlan to investigate the case. The Gregor family and their servants are quick – perhaps too quick – to explain that Mary was a kind and charitable woman. Dundas uncovers a more complex truth, and the cruel character of the dead woman continues to pervade the house after her death. Soon further deaths, equally impossible, occur, and the atmosphere grows ever darker. Superstitious locals believe that fish creatures from the nearby waters are responsible; but luckily for Inspector Dundas, the gifted amateur sleuth Eustace Hailey is on the scene, and unravels a more logical solution to this most fiendish of plots...

* * * * *

Fiction

the-presidents-hatCourtesy of NetGalley. This could be a lot of fun, or it could be unbearably twee. Time will tell…

The Blurb says: Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him.

Daniel’s thrill at being in such close proximity to the most powerful man in the land persists even after the presidential party has gone, which is when he discovers that Mitterrand’s black felt hat has been left behind.

After a few moments’ soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It’s a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow … different.

* * * * *

Crime

the-eskimo-solutionCourtesy of NetGalley. I’ve had a mixed reaction to the Garnier novellas I’ve read to date, so I’m approaching this with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension…

The Blurb says: A crime writer uses the modest advance on his latest novel to rent a house on the Normandy coast.

There should be little to distract him from his work besides walks on the windswept beach, but as he begins to tell the tale of forty-something Louis – who, after dispatching his own mother, goes on to relieve others of their burdensome elderly relations – events in his own life begin to overlap with the work of his imagination.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or Amazon UK.

* * * * *

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

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Moon in a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier

The joys of ageing…

😀 😀 😀 🙂

moon in a dead eyeWhen their city neighbourhood begins to change and all their elderly friends gradually retire to quieter places, or die, Odette and Martial decide it’s time to buy a little retirement home in a gated community. Odette is keen to move, Martial less so. The community is newly built and Odette and Martial are the first couple to move in. Early impressions are hampered by the constant rain while, until more people move in, the swimming pool and clubhouse remain closed. But there is a caretaker, though given his creepiness that’s a bit of a mixed blessing. However, things perk up a bit when another couple and then a single woman move in, and the clubhouse is finally opened complete with a social secretary to provide a bit of fun. Thrown together in this isolated place, all the residents quickly become friends. But then the gypsies arrive…

I’ve had a bit of a mixed journey with Pascal Garnier so far. I enjoyed Boxes, loved The A26, and sadly wasn’t very taken with this one at all. It follows the same kind of format as the others – set up the characters, put them in a slightly odd, isolated situation, then make some terrible things happen to them. The writing is as good as ever, the quirky characterisation is great and there’s the same vein of humour, growing increasingly blacker as the novella progresses. Perhaps I’ve just read them too closely together, but I felt this one was rather like painting by numbers.

The first bit of the book is great. The description of this couple trying to settle into their new lives rings very true. Martial in particular misses the busyness of his old home, where he knew everybody and only had to walk down the street to meet acquaintances. Now he finds it hard to find anything to fill his days. The story of their trip to the beach is a glorious piece of blackly comic writing – the wind at their back as they walk giving them a sensation of energy and vitality, till they have to turn and come back against the same wind whipping away their breath and leaving them shattered and exhausted. It’s a great picture of people trying to come to terms with the fact that ageing is taking its toll on what they’re physically able to do, and nicely satirical about all those pictures of happy, energetic retirees in the sunshine that populate brochures for these kinds of communities.

Unfortunately, when the horrors begin, they simply didn’t ring true for me. The actual events didn’t justify the paranoia and, avoiding spoilers, the character change of the person who does the deed was too sudden and not well enough supported. The whole thing also turned on a plot device that I couldn’t believe in – namely, that if the electricity got cut off the electric gates to the community couldn’t be opened manually. There is also a piece of totally unnecessary and gruesome animal cruelty, which never works for me. And finally, the ending depends on such a hugely unlikely coincidental event that it lost any remaining credibility.

Pascal Garnier
Pascal Garnier

I know many people have loved this as one of Garnier’s best, so I’m certainly willing to assume that the problems I encountered with it are a result of too recent comparison with the others I’ve read. Certainly his writing, aided by an excellent translation by Emily Boyce, is as good as ever and I did enjoy the early part of the novella a good deal. But the plot didn’t work for me this time round, I’m afraid. I have two other novellas of his on my Kindle, but I think I’ll leave a good long gap this time to try to avoid that feeling of sameness that I found with this one. Tricky, when I’m being rather negative, but I do still recommend this – I suspect with these novellas everyone will find they have different favourites, but all the ones I’ve read so far have been well worth the reading, especially if you’re more skilled at suspending disbelief than I am.

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

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 76…

Episode 76…

 

Where did it all go wrong?! I wrote this post on Sunday and boasted that the TBR had gone down 2. Since then it’s gone up again… by 4!! So now on 164 – I simply don’t understand it! It can’t be my fault…

Here are a few that will be rising to the top soon…

Factual

 

uprootedOoh, I wished for this on NetGalley, and my wish was granted! The first time that’s happened. Let’s hope it won’t turn out to be a case of “careful what you wish for”. I’ve actually cheated and already started it. (Which means – Yes!! Henry IV is finished!! Phew – I think the book was longer than his reign.)

The Blurb says: Who, or what, is the Green Man, and why is this medieval image so present in our precarious modern times? An encounter with the Green Man at an ancient Herefordshire church in the wake of catastrophic weather leads Nina Lyon into an exploration of how the foliate heads of Norman stonemasons have evolved into today’s cult symbols. The Green Man’s association with the pantheistic beliefs of Celtic Christianity and with contemporary neo-paganism, with the shamanic traditions of the Anglo-Saxons and as a figurehead for ecological movements sees various paths crossing into a picture that reveals the hidden meanings of twenty-first-century Britain. Against a shifting backdrop of mountains, forests, rivers and stone circles, a cult of the Green Man emerges, manifesting itself in unexpected ways. Priests and philosophers, artists and shamans, morris dancers, folklorists and musicians offer stories about what the Green Man might mean and how he came into being. Meanwhile, in the woods strange things are happening, from an overgrown Welsh railway line to leafy London suburbia. Uprooted is a timely, provocative and beautifully written account of this most enduring and recognisable of Britain’s folk images.

* * * * *

Fiction

 

the easter paradeSince it’s over a year since Revolutionary Road won the FF Award for Literary Fiction 2014, it’s way past time I read more Yates. This one comes courtesy of Santa…

The Blurb says: In The Easter Parade, first published in 1976, we meet sisters Sarah and Emily Grimes when they are still the children of divorced parents. We observe the sisters over four decades, watching them grow into two very different women. Sarah is stable and stalwart, settling into an unhappy marriage. Emily is precocious and independent, struggling with one unsatisfactory love affair after another. Richard Yates’s classic novel is about how both women struggle to overcome their tarnished family’s past, and how both finally reach for some semblance of renewal.

* * * * *

 

moon in a dead eyeContinuing on with my immersion in Pascal Garnier, next up is one that several people have said is their favourite. I’ve been categorising these as crime up till now, but I’m gradually concluding they really sit better in fiction. Courtesy of NetGalley…

The Blurb says: Given the choice, Martial would have preferred not to leave their suburban Paris life, but with all their friends moving away, or dying, his wife Odette is thrilled at the idea of moving to Les Conviviales, a gated retirement village in the South of France.

At first, Martial’s suspicions are confirmed. He and Odette are the only residents, and with the endless pouring rain, he is bored out of his mind. With the arrival of three new neighbours and a social secretary, Martial’s outlook improves and he begins to settle in to his new life. But in this isolated community, tensions never simmer far below the surface, and the arrival of some gypsies who set up camp outside the gates throws the fragile harmony into disarray. Everything comes to a head one terrible night; the night that the moon is reflected in the watchman’s eye…

* * * * *

Crime

 

the dead witnessA People’s Choice winner from nearly 2 years ago, back when my TBR was a measly 96 (happy days!), it’s about time this one rose to the top of the heap. I have to tell you, People, you have a mixed history when it comes to your choices, so I hope this is one of your better efforts… 😉

The Blurb says: Gathering the finest adventures among private and police detectives from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-including a wide range of overlooked gems-Michael Sims showcases the writers who ever since have inspired the field of detective fiction.

From luminaries Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bret Harte, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle to the forgotten author who helped inspire Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” to a surprising range of talented female authors and detectives, “The Dead Witness” offers mystery surprises from every direction. Introduced by Michael Sims’s insightful overview of detective fiction, “The Dead Witness” unfolds the irresistible antecedents of what would mature into the most popular genre of the twentieth century.

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

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

 

The A26 by Pascal Garnier

the a26The wounds of war…

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Brother and sister Bernard and Yolande have lived together all their lives. Yolande remains permanently holed up in their house, every door locked, every window covered, her only viewpoint on the world a small hole in one of the blinds. And for Yolande, the world she looks out on is still in the grip of WW2, a period that traumatised her so completely she has never recovered. Bernard has been the functional one, his job on the railway providing their income. He has given up his own chance of a personal life to look after his older sister. But now Bernard has been told that he is dying, and suddenly all the missed opportunities and disappointments of his life erupt into violence…

Given the novella length of this book, it packs a mighty punch. Ink-black noir, there are no gleams of light or humour to lift the tone. On the surface, Bernard and Yolande are a pair of extremely dysfunctional and disturbed siblings, each with their own streak of madness, and with the potential for violence simmering not far below the surface. The book has a thriller format, seen from the perspectives of the perpetrators of the various crimes that take place.

But it seems to me (though I may be over-analysing it) that the entire novella is a metaphor for a France still bleeding from the wounds inflicted on it in WW2 – the wounds of defeat, collaboration and betrayal – wounds that eventual victory may have covered, but with the thinnest of scar tissue, easily scratched away. The book was written in 1999, and is set perhaps a couple of decades before that, when many people were still alive who had lived through the war. And Garnier shows this couple as having been damaged even before the war began, much as France still reeled from the horrors inflicted upon its landscape and people in the First World War.

‘Row upon row, their white tunics stained with blood like that bastard of a butcher. “I kill you, you kill me.” And the more they killed, the more of them sprang up again, it was truly miraculous! That’s why there’ll never be an end to the war – anyway, it’s always been here, it’s that kind of country, there’s nothing else to do but go to war. The only thing that grows is white crosses.’

Verdun-17

Yolande had committed the crime of having an affair with a German soldier and had paid the price when her countrymen shaved her head to display her disgrace to the world. But Garnier’s description shows that this episode was as much to do with lust and cruelty as justice and patriotism. The world may have forgotten Yolande’s shame but she has never forgotten those who shamed her. There is the chance for Yolande to throw the past aside and go back out into the world, but she carries her prison with her in her mind. She’s not a weak woman, far from it. Her selfishness makes her monstrous and it’s hard to see her as having been a victim. She is a fact, a piece of history, a hidden scandal, France’s shame. And that unresolved shame is shown metaphorically to be still shuddering through the later generations.

Pascal Garnier
Pascal Garnier

Bernard has watched the woman he loved marry another man – a cruel, boorish man who treats her badly, and when he receives his death sentence his pent-up frustrations and anger boil over into a murderous spree. There are some shocking scenes of violence and horror, but they’re not written in an overly graphic way – Garnier is painting impressionistic images rather than drawing detailed pictures. His descriptions are full of craters and mud, and when he describes places he does it in terms of their association with battles and war, this modern landscape scarred still with reminders of France’s violent past. The A26, being built in the book, runs through or past many of the great battlefields of France and close to those of Belgium – Arras, the Somme, Ypres – and Garnier plays darkly with the conjunction of the digging of the road and the history of its bloody surroundings.

To say I enjoyed this would be a total misuse of the word. It is too dark, too upsetting, to enjoy. But it is powerful and gut-wrenching, with Garnier’s compelling writing enhanced by an excellent translation from Melanie Florence. I may have made it sound more metaphorical than it is, though that’s how it struck me. But it works too on the level of being an extremely dark thriller, leading up to an ending that shocked me and left me feeling completely conflicted as to the morality of the tale. Despite the awfulness of their actions, there was some part of me that empathised with each of the dreadful siblings, and that was the most unsettling aspect of all. As entertainment, I enjoyed Garnier’s Boxes more, but for me this one is the more powerful and meaningful, and therefore better, of the two.

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

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 69 – The TBR Book Tag

Confession time!

 

This tag has been doing the rounds recently – I first saw it here on Cleo’s blog – Cleopatra Loves Books. So I thought I’d share some of the arcane secrets of the TBR with you…

Part of the problem...
Part of the problem…

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

 

I have a ridiculously complicated spreadsheet with different cross-referenced lists for the TBR, the GAN Quest, where I’ve posted reviews, lists of reviews by ratings (to aid in the FF Awards thingy), books from NetGalley, books that aren’t yet published that I want to acquire and my reading schedule for the next three months (which I almost never stick to, but have great fun rearranging)! Then there’s the list for a new feature I’m considering for next year. And a list to keep track of what reviews are doing well (and badly) on Amazon – UK and US. Oh, and a list of authors who got 5-stars for the last book I read, to remind me to read one of their other books as soon as I can fit them in. It’s a wonder I ever have any time to read, really…

Did I mention the colour coding? And the blame list of who made me add it?
Did I mention the colour coding? And the blame list of who made me add it?

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

 

Mostly e-book, but I do like to read paper books as well, especially factual and classics, or illustrated books. E-books for crime fiction mostly, though.

Another part of the problem...
Another part of the problem…

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

 

Sadly, for the last couple of years that’s been driven by my addiction to NetGalley, and trying to review as near publication date as possible, but I’m making a big effort to take far fewer review copies so that I can go back to choosing on the basis of mood. It’s actually beginning to work…

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

 

Green for Danger by Christianna Brand. I only started having a TBR list when I started blogging and this was one of the first books I was tempted into by a blog review. It’s been on the TBR for nearly three years now… it would almost be a shame to read it!

green for danger

A book you recently added to your TBR?

 

The most recent addition is The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. There’s a reason for that… but I’m not telling you what it is yet. Crime aficionados might be able to guess though…

the wheel spins

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

 

Nope – I do like covers but am never influenced by them alone, good or bad, though if they’re especially good, they might at least tempt me to look at the blurb. This one did, and it introduced me to an author who’s now a firm favourite…

Equilateral

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

 

Why would I do that? (Though Moby Dick does keep getting moved down… and it might be a while before I get around to The Narrow Road to the Deep North…)

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

 

I Am No One by Patrick Flanery. Flanery has won my Book of the Year Award twice in four years for Absolution and Fallen Land. His new one is due out in February. And Peter May’s new one, Coffin Road, is being kept aside to read over Christmas. Publication due in January.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

 

Hmm… not really. The closest that I can think of is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, although a few of the GAN Quest books have been read by most Americans, it seems, often at school. But they often haven’t been read by many Brits.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

 

The aforesaid Moby Dick! Though I reckon they only recommend it ‘cos they like it when I hate a book…

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

 

Pretty much all of them (except Moby Dick) or they wouldn’t be on there. But if I have to pick just one then I’m really keen to read Let the Great World Spin. And Gone with the Wind, Americanah, and Even the Dead. (You didn’t really think I could stick to one, did you?)

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

 

None! I don’t use it – I only list books I’ve read or am reading on Goodreads. However, since both Cleo and MarinaSofia have ‘fessed up, I’d better too. I’ve spent most of this week reorganising my TBR (great fun!). Since most people seem to think of their TBR as books they actually possess, I took off most of the books I don’t own yet, and replaced them with all the books I do own that weren’t previously on it – the hidden list, you might call it. Then I added the removed ones that I don’t own yet to my Amazon wishlist. So here goes…

Books for review from NetGalley and publishers                                             28

Owned (mostly unread, but a few re-reads)                                                  126

Total TBR                                                                                                154

GAN Quest books owned but not yet on the TBR (complicated, isn’t it?)         12

On the wishlist (which I consider to be part of the TBR really, since
they don’t get on there unless I mean to read them)                                     195

Must reads being published in the next two months
that I haven’t managed to acquire yet                                                             4

Grand total                                                                                              365

Or roughly 3 years worth…!!!

* * * * * * *

So better get some reading done soon! Here are a few that are coming up…

 

* * * * * * *

I shall be making some booky New Year’s Resolutions soon – guess reducing the TBR might have to be Number 1…

Boxes by Pascal Garnier

Quirky and unsettling…

😀 😀 😀 😀

boxesBrice Casadamont has packed his life in boxes to move from Lyon into the country. This wasn’t his idea – he agreed to the move to please his wife, Emma. But now Emma is missing, though Brice keeps hoping each day that she will come back. It’s only gradually that the reader finds out what’s behind Emma’s disappearance. So here he is, on his own, in an empty house with all his belongings in boxes in the garage and without the motivation to unpack, since he knows Emma will want to decide where everything should go when she comes back.

This novella-length story is the first thing of Pascal Garnier’s that I’ve read. It’s a compelling little portrait of a man in grief and denial, gradually sinking into the lethargy and apathy of depression, and coming close to the edge of insanity. But the bleakness is broken up by many touches of humour, which makes it an enjoyable read despite the subject matter. It’s very well written and the translation, by Melanie Florence, is excellent.

Although all the characters are quirky, almost with a touch of the type of strange villagers in a standard horror story, Garnier makes them just about credible. Brice has deliberately isolated himself from his old friends and can’t bring himself to get to work on the illustrations for a children’s book that he was working on before Emma disappeared. Garnier lets us see just enough of his old life through occasional contacts with other people for us to know that he was probably always a bit of a difficult person, but also that his current behaviour is abnormal even for him. Although the book is in the third person, we only see the other characters as they appear to Brice, so they are deliberately vague, leaving the reader in the unsettling position of not quite knowing how much they are being distorted by his state of mind.

There’s a mild feeling of horror about a lot of the descriptions of nature and the countryside too, as Garnier slips from lyricism to brutality and back in the course of single sentences.

Now and again, down from a bird ripped open by a fox in the night was caught by the breeze, rising and falling like snowflakes on the bushes.

It all adds to the off-kilter, disturbing feeling of the whole thing. And then, when it feels it might be getting a bit dark, Garnier will throw in a bit of perfectly timed observational humour…

A little further on, he passed a young mother holding the hand of a little four- or five-year-old girl who was crying and had a hand up to her forehead.

“That’s the way it is, Laura. Some doors open by themselves and some don’t.”

Learning how the world works can be tough.

Pascal Garnier
Pascal Garnier

As Brice settles into his new home – well, into the garage of his new home – he makes friends with the rather strange Blanche, owner of the big house in the village, whose dead father he coincidentally resembles. Blanche has her own grief and denial thing going on, too, and for a while each seems to be good for the other. But Blanche’s protective friend Élie is worried about their growing closeness, and as the story unfolds and the darkness grows, one feels he has good reason. Brice’s only other friend is the stray cat who comes to live with him, bringing a welcome touch of warmth and normality into his life (and making me dreadfully afraid that something truly horrible was going to happen to the cat…).

I loved about 95% of this and then it all became incredibly silly at the end. Fortunately, since the book is short, that wasn’t enough to spoil my overall enjoyment, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Garnier’s work in the near future. Especially since those in the know, like Margot and MarinaSofia, tell me this isn’t one of his best…

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

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 67…

Episode 67

 

Well, I’ve been on my very best behaviour this week, so could someone kindly explain how the TBR seems to have gone up again? Hmm? To 152 – and if that’s you I hear laughing at the back, there’s going to be big trouble…

Still, it’ll only take a bit of willpower to make a huge dent in it before the end of the year, won’t it? So here are some that I shall be getting to soon…

Factual

 

london fog coverFrom Harvard University Press via NetGalley. I’m hoping this won’t be too academic in tone, and am a bit sorry I have the Kindle version since it claims to be generously illustrated. But if it’s written accessibly, it should be fascinating…

The Blurb says In popular imagination, London is a city of fog. The classic London fogs, the thick yellow “pea-soupers,” were born in the industrial age of the early nineteenth century. The first globally notorious instance of air pollution, they remained a constant feature of cold, windless winter days until clean air legislation in the 1960s brought about their demise. Christine L. Corton tells the story of these epic London fogs, their dangers and beauty, and their lasting effects on our culture and imagination.

As the city grew, smoke from millions of domestic fires, combined with industrial emissions and naturally occurring mists, seeped into homes, shops, and public buildings in dark yellow clouds of water droplets, soot, and sulphur dioxide. The fogs were sometimes so thick that people could not see their own feet. By the time London’s fogs lifted in the second half of the twentieth century, they had changed urban life. Fogs had created worlds of anonymity that shaped social relations, providing a cover for crime, and blurring moral and social boundaries. They had been a gift to writers, appearing famously in the works of Charles Dickens, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and T. S. Eliot. Whistler and Monet painted London fogs with a fascination other artists reserved for the clear light of the Mediterranean.

Corton combines historical and literary sensitivity with an eye for visual drama—generously illustrated here—to reveal London fog as one of the great urban spectacles of the industrial age.

 * * * * *

Fiction

 

lolita 2Next up for the GAN Quest! A book I have been meaning to read for years…

The Blurb says Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.

* * * * *

Crime

 

death on demandVia NetGalley again. An author I know nothing about, but the book is published by Severn House and they’ve introduced me to a few crime authors I’ve enjoyed, so here’s hoping…

The Blurb says This is the stunning new Shaw & Valentine mystery. When the newspapers turn up to cover Ruby Bright’s 100th birthday, they find her seaside care home is a murder scene. Someone spirited Ruby away by wheelchair down to the water’s edge on the idyllic north Norfolk coast, and strangled her. But why kill a harmless centurion? As Detective Inspector Shaw and Detective Sergeant Valentine investigate, it’s clear Ruby wasn’t the first victim, and nor is she the last. All trails seem to lead back to the old Parkwood Springs estate, close to the docklands. There’s only one way in and one way out of the estate – through the derelict Lister Tunnel. But what is the secret within…?

* * * * *

boxes

Pascal Garnier is everywhere right now, including all over NetGalley, so time to get introduced! And if it’s not good, there are so, so many bloggers I’ll be able to blame! The blurb is pretty uninformative but I’m led to believe this is a grim, dark, twisty tale…

The Blurb says “He was the sole survivor of the natural disaster that at one time or another strikes us all, known as ‘moving house’.

Brice and Emma had bought their new home in the countryside together. And then Emma disappeared. Now, as he awaits her return, Brice busies himself with DIY and walks around the village.

He gradually comes to know his new neighbours including Blanche, an enigmatic woman in white, who has lived on her own in the big house by the graveyard since the death of her father, to whom Brice bears a curious resemblance…” 

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

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

 

TBR Thursday 45…

The People’s Choice 5…

 

It’s the 15th January and I’m still sticking rigidly to my resolutions. I’m somewhat baffled therefore as to why my TBR has gone up 4 this week to 137. It may have something to do with the fact that I appear to be reading three 600-page books at the same time – hmm! My brand new reading plan may need some fine-tuning.

So…a People’s Choice Poll! The first of the year, and these are all crime, though not all fiction. My willpower needs your help to resist temptation. So which one of these do you think most deserves a place on the TBR? The winner will be announced next Thursday…

With my usual grateful thanks to all the reviewers who’ve intrigued and inspired me over the last few weeks, here are:

The Contenders…

 

the secret placeThe Blurb – The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Cleo says: “The plot is brilliant with the twists and turns keeping me guessing, torn between wanting to race through the book but holding back in case I missed a scrap of information that would hold the key to the mystery. I am pleased to report that the ending works well, this author hasn’t cheated us, the clues were all there revealed slowly but surely in amongst a whole bucketful of red-herrings.

See the full review at Cleopatra Loves Books

*******

the front seat passengerThe BlurbFabien and Sylvie both knew their marriage wasn’t working. But when Sylvie is involved in a fatal car accident, Fabien is stunned to discover she had a lover who died with her. Harbouring thoughts of revenge, he tracks down the lover’s widow, Martine, and begins stalking her. Fabien is desperate to get Martine on her own. And that won’t happen until he deals with her protective best friend, Madeleine…

Margot says: Garnier’s stories often feature ordinary human beings – people one might see at a shop, a restaurant or the cinema – who are driven to desperation. That desperation leads to all kinds of events that often go from bad to worse…

See the full review at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

*******

the murder of the centuryThe Blurb – On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era’s most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio — a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor — all raced to solve the crime.

History Reading Challenge says: “Collins does a magnificent job of capturing mood and public sentiment in the tone of his narrative. That is, he maintains the excitement of spectacle – the tasteless kind you can’t quite look away from – and yet, you can still take seriously what he has to say because his research offers such a complete picture and plenty of food for thought.

See the full review at History Reading Challenge

*******

the house of stairsThe Blurb – Lizzie hasn’t seen her old friend, Bell, for some fourteen years, but when she spots her from a taxi in a London street she jumps out and pursues her despite ‘all the terrible things’ that passed between them. As Lizzie reveals those events, little by little, the women rekindle their friendship, with terrifying results…

Lady Fancifull says: “…Vine assembles a wonderfully drawn collection of individuals from across the classes, painting a portrait of a society moving from the more rigid mores of the 50s to a period of change, shake up and anything goes sex. And the twists, turns and plot intricacies, though slowly unfurled, are inexorable and keep the reader glued to ‘just another chapter’

See the full review at Lady Fancifull

*******

the unquiet deadThe BlurbDespite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

Carol says: This is a complex book about family, beliefs, relationships, loss, justice, trust, crimes and the ugliness in our world. This book begs you to read it and defies you to not be moved, this book pricks at your conscience and perhaps persuades you to choose a path that is more tolerant and accepting or maybe it gives you a nudge to become a more political individual; after you have read this book you will not be the person you were when you woke this morning.”

See the full review at Reading, Writing and Riesling

*******

NB All blurbs and covers are taken from Goodreads.

Another tricky choice, isn’t it? So…over to you! Choose just one or as many as you like – the book with most votes will be this week’s winner…

Hope you pick a good one! 😉