A – Z of TBRs: J, K and L

I’m now up to J, K, and L in my A – Z of TBRs, a series of posts in which I take a fresh look at some of my TBRs to inspire me to read more of them by the end of the year, or maybe to decide not to bother reading them after all. These TBRs are all physical books – I’ve not included e-books. Previously I’ve just chosen books for these posts by using the titles, but this time I’ve also chosen books by using the authors’ last names.

I’m enjoying searching my shelves – finding books I’d forgotten were there (the disadvantage of shelving books behind others).

TRBs jkl

– is for The Journeying Boy by Michael Innesa book I’ve had for three years. This is a green Vintage Penguin, first published in 1949, and in this edition in 1961. Humphrey Paxton, the son of one of Britain’s leading atomic boffins, has taken to carrying a shotgun to ‘shoot plotters and blackmailers and spies’. His new tutor, the plodding Mr Thewless, suggests that Humphrey might be overdoing it somewhat. But when a man is found shot dead at a cinema, Mr Thewless is plunged into a nightmare world of lies, kidnapping and murder – and grave matters of national security.

I’m not sure now that I do want to read this book. It looks quite daunting, with lots of description and  literary allusions as shown in this extract – the cinema goers had been watching a film, Plutonium Blonde:

Another squalid crime … Circumstances had made Inspector Cadover a philosopher, and because he was a philosopher he was now depressed. This was the celebrated atom film. This was the manner in which his species chose to take its new command of natural law. Fifty thousand people had died at Hiroshima , and at Bikini ironclads had been tossed in challenge to those other disintegrating nuclei of the sun. The blood-red tide was loosed. And here it was turned to hog wash at five shillings the trough, and entertainment tax five shillings extra. That some wretched Londoner had met a violent death while taking his fill seemed a very unimportant circumstance. To track down the murderer – if murderer there was – appeared a revoltingly useless task. Mere anarchy was loosed upon the world – so what the hell did it matter? (page 51)

K – is for Ghost Walk by Alanna Knight (on my TBR shelves for four years), the fourth in the Rose McQuinn series. This is historical crime fiction set in 1897 in Edinburgh three years after Rose McQuinn’s husband, Danny, disappeared in Arizona. Believing him to be dead, she returned to Scotland to start her life afresh. Now a ‘Lady Investigator, Discretion Guaranteed‘, she is about to marry her lover, Detective Inspector Jack Macmerry of the Edinburgh Police when a nun from the local convent claims to have received a letter from Danny, and after two suspicious deaths, it seems that a ghost is about to walk back into her life…

I’ve read and liked the first book in this series, The Inspector’s Daughter, and am hoping it won’t matter that I’ve not read the second and the third books.

I had no idea what were the views of Edinburgh City Police on the subject of female detectives or the milder term ‘lady investigators’, but I could guess that that they regarded criminal investigation as a ‘men only’ province.

I felt so impatient with authority. Would a day ever dawn when women ceased to be regarded as playthings or breeding machines, when they would be given equal rights with men. My hackles rose in anger at the suffragettes’ gallant struggles as portrayed in a recent pamphlet which I had been at pains to keep concealed from Jack.  (page 34)

L – is for The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson, a book I’ve had for 10 years! I was so keen to read it when I first bought it after loving her first novel, Crow Lake. It’s about two brothers, Arthur and Jake.  Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father’s farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous man to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point…

Arthur’s earliest memory was of standing in the doorway of his parents’ room, looking at his mother as she lay in bed. It was the middle of the day but nonetheless she was in bed, and Arthur didn’t know what to make of it. The bed was very large and high and Arthur could only just see her. She had her face turned towards the window. Then Arthur’s father called from the bottom of the stairs that the doctor was coming, and she turned her head, and Arthur saw that she was crying. (page 25)

What do you think? Do you fancy any of them? Would you ditch any of them?

A – Z of TBRs: G, H and I

I have been neglecting my TBRs this year and have been reading mainly new books and library books.So here is the third instalment of my A – Z of TBRs, a series of posts in which I take a fresh look at some of my TBRs to inspire me to read more of them by the end of the year. These TBRs are all physical books – I’ve not included e-books.

I’m enjoying searching my shelves – finding books I’d forgotten were there (the disadvantage of shelving books behind others).

a-z tbrs ghi P1020304

 

G is for The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendella book I’ve had for just over a year. When a new house is being built a long buried secret is uncovered – a tin box is found in an earthen tunnel. It contained two skeletal hands, one male and one female.

Their garden was not beautiful. It had no flowering trees, no roses, no perfumed herbs. Tunnels, they called it at first. The word ‘qanat’, an impossible word, was found by Daphne Jones and adopted by the rest of them. It meant, apparently, a subterranean passage for carrying water in some oriental language. They liked it because it started with a q without a u. Their scholteachers had taught them that no word could ever start with a q unless it was followed by u, so Daphne’s idea appealed to them and the tunnels became qanats. In time to come the qanats became their secret garden. (pages 14 -15)

HHamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes (on my TBR shelves since May 2015). This is a green Vintage Penguin, first published in 1937, and in this edition in 1961, about a murder planned to take place in the middle of a private performance of Hamlet.

It had begun as a family frolic. And now, although it would not be publicly reported, the dramatic critics were coming down as if to an important festival. Professors were coming to shake learned respectable bald heads over a fellow-scholar’s conception of an Elizabethan stage. Aged royalty  was coming to be politely bewildered. Most alarming of all, ‘everybody’ was coming – for the purpose no doubt, of being where ‘everybody’ was. And even if it was a select and serious everybody – a known set before whom a Lord Chancellor might mime without misgiving – it was still a crowd, and its actions were unpredictable. (page 28)

IThe Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, a book I’ve had for just over 10 years! It won the Man Booker Prize in 2006. This is set in India, in a dilapidated mansion high in the Himalayas, the home of three people each dreaming of another time – a retired judge, Sai, his granddaughter and a cook.

In Kalimpong, high in the northeastern Himalayas where they lived – the retired judge and his cook, Sai and Mutt – there was a report of new dissatisfaction in the hills, gathering insurgency, men and guns. It was the Indian Nepalese this time, fed up with being treated like the minority in a place where they were the majority. They wanted their own country, or at least their own state, in which to manage their own affairs. Here, where India blurred into Bhutan and Sikkim, and the army did pull-ups and push-ups, maintaining the tanks with khaki paint in case the Chinese grew hungry for more territory than Tibet, it had always been a messy map. The papers sounded resigned. A great amount of warring, betraying, bartering had occurred; between Nepal, England, Tibet, India, Sikkim, Bhutan; Darjeeling stolen from here, Kalimpong plucked from there – despite, ah, despite the mist charging down like a dragon, dissolving, undoing, making ridiculous the drawing of border. (page 9)

What do you think? Do you fancy any of them? 

One reason I haven’t read these books yet is that they’re all in such a small font!

A – Z of TBRs: D, E and F

I have been neglecting my TBRs this year and have been reading mainly new books and library books.So here is the second instalment of my A – Z of TBRs, a series of posts in which I take a fresh look at some of my TBRs to inspire me to read more of them by the end of the year.

D, E and F.

D is for David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, a book I’ve had since I don’t know when! I watched a TV adaptation many years ago but I’ve never read the book. This is the novel that Dickens described as his ‘favourite child’.

I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or “thereby”, as they say in Scotland. I was a posthumous child. My father’s eyes had closed upon the light of this world six months, when mine opened on it. There is something strange to me, even now, in the reflection that he never saw me; and something stranger yet in the shadowy remembrance that I have of my first childish associations with his white gravestone in the churchyard, and of the indefinable compassion I used to feel for it lying out alone there in the dark night, when our little parlour was warm and bright with fire and candle, and the doors of our house were – almost cruelly, it seemed to me sometimes – bolted and locked against it. (page 14)

EExtraordinary People by Peter May, the first in his Enzo Files series (on my TBR shelves since July 2016). This is set in France where Enzo MacLeod, a forensic expert takes a wager to solve seven French murders using modern technology. I bought this because I loved Peter May’s Lewis trilogy.

I was trained as a forensic biologist, Monsieur Raffin. Seven years with Strathclyde police in Glasgow, the last two as head of biology, covering everything from blood pattern  interpretation at major crime scenes, to analysis of hairs and fibres. I was involved in early DNA databasing, interpretation of damage to clothing, as well as detailed examination of murder scenes. Oh, and did I mention? I am one of only four people in the UK to have trained as a Byford scientist – which also makes me an expert on serious crime analysis. (page 14)

FThe Floating Admiral by Members of the Detection Club (on my TBR shelves since May 2014). This is a collaboration by twelve writers from the Detection Club, including Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.

As it [a small rowing-boat] came nearer Wade laid down his rod. He could see now that there was someone in the boat – not seated, but, apparently, lying in the bottom of her, astern.

… A man of about sixty, with iron grey hair, moustache and close-cropped, pointed beard, dark eyes open with fixed stare. He was clad in evening dress clothes and a brown overcoat, the latter open at the front and exposing a white shirt-front stained with blood. (pages 14-15)

What do you think? Which one would you read first? Are there any you would discard?

My TBR: an ABC

I thought a fresh look at some of my TBRs might inspire me to read more of them by the end of the year. So here is the first instalment of my A – Z of TBRs (I’m thinking of making this a regular post).

TBRs abc_edited

A is for The Appeal by John Grisham: a story of political and legal intrigue.  (On my TBR shelves since February 2008.)

People were hurrying from the courthouse from all directions when the Paytons parked on the street behind it. They stayed in the car for a moment, still holding hands For four months they had tried not to touch each other  anywhere near the courthouse. Someone was always watching. Maybe juror or reporter. It  was important to be as professional as possible. The novelty of a married legal team surprised people, and the Paytons tried to treat each other as attorneys and not as spouses.

B is for The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine: a chilling tale of ambition, obsession and bad blood. (On my TBR shelves since July 2015.)

The Queen appointed him Physician Extraordinary in 1879. Most of her other doctors were in permanent residence but Henry, though sometimes staying a few days at Windsor, retained his professorship and his London home. Though he began on the lowest rung of the royal medical ladder, he enjoyed a special position. He was the Queen’s consultant on haemophilia.

C is for The Children’s Book by A S Byatt:  a saga about the years between the closing of the Victorian age and the dawn of the Edwardian, when a generation grew up unaware of the darkness ahead. (On my TBR shelves since August 2009.)

Everyone old and young, now gathered for a kind of sumptuous picnic. As happens in such gatherings, where those whose lives are shaped fortunately or unfortunately, are surrounded by those whose lives are almost entirely to come, the elders began asking the young what they meant to do with their lives, and to project futures for them.

If you’ve read any of these please let me know what you think?

To-Be-Read Books

It’s time for a check of my TBRs. I started listing books on LibraryThing in April 2007, so books I listed in 2007 as ‘to read’ are mainly books I owned before then. Currently I have 319 books listed as TBRs, which is far too many (and that isn’t counting e-books on my Kindle), so I’m going through them to see if I really do want to read them – I did when I first got them, but maybe not now?

I’m beginning by looking at the books I added in 2007 and here are 10 of the oldest books in my catalogue. Some of them I’ve started and put back on the shelves for a variety of reasons:

 

  • A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth – I really wanted to read this and have started it at least twice. I stopped reading it because of its size ‘“ it’s too heavy to read in bed and it’s very long. I loved Rushforth’s Pinkerton’s Sister and it was whilst I was trying to find out more about that book that I came across the world of book blogs ‘“ which then led me to writing my own blog.
  • Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man by Claire Tomalin – I stopped reading this partway in as I decided I needed to read more of Hardy’s own books before going further. I’ve read a few more of his books, but have never got back to this biography. I will get back to it.
  • Helen of Troy: A Novel by Margaret George – another long book, not started.
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (Wordsworth Classics) by Charles Dickens – I have started this, but this edition is in a very small font! I’ll probably read it on Kindle.

  • The Liar by Stephen Fry – I haven’t started this one. It’s Fry’s debut novel, described on the front cover as ‘Brilliant’, ‘Hilarious’ and ‘sublime’. Will I find it funny? I’m not sure.
  • 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro – I started it but can’t remember any specific reason I haven’t finished this book.
  • Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks – another one I haven’t started. A novel about the early days of psychiatry.
  • A Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela -I must have read about half of this book before I stopped. It was so long ago that I can’t remember why I didn’t finish it.
  • Band of Brothers by Stephen E Andrews – brotherhood on the battlefields in World War Two. Another book I’ve started a couple of times. I’ve watched the TV adaptation and I have a feeling that it’s better than the book.
  • The Olive Readers by Christine Aziz – not started. Dystopian fiction in which the Readers are smuggling and storing books in a secret library.

If there are any books here that you’ve loved or think are not worth reading do let me know.