Reviews & Rants - Blogging about books, authors, and generally 

RIP Anthea Bell

How much poorer the world would be without literature in translation. And Anthea Bell made a huge impact.

The 2018 Mt. TBR Project - End of Septe..., erm, Mid-October Update

So, erm, ... Remember how I was working on this Mt. TBR Project and posted updates at the end of the month?

Well, Halloween Bingo got the better of me and I forgot to write a Mt. TBR Update for the end of September. 

However, it is not like I read a lot of Mt. TBR books during the Bingo game, so things have not really changed that much. Or at all, really.


Except that I read 3 more books from my own shelves that aren't on Mt. TBR, which gives me a grand total of 5 books that I can swap. I will still keep that option for December. 


As I said, there was no shrinkage during the Halloween Bingo. On the positive side, I only bought 3 books to add to the pile. Yay!


Mid-October Mt. TBR:

End of August Mt. TBR: 


End of July Mt. TBR: 


End of June Mt. TBR:


End of May Mt. TBR:


End of April Mt. TBR: 


End of March Mt. TBR:


End of February Mt. TBR:


End of January Mt. TBR:


Start of the Year Mt. TBR:


The Stats:


Books read this month: 18 (Sept)

Mt. TBR Books read this month: 0 (nil)


Women / Men / Team*: 51% / 46% / 3%

Fiction / Non-fiction*: 74% / 26%

% of original Mt. TBR read: 97%

% of live Mt. TBR read**: 84% 


Available swaps (not made yet): 5


(* - of all books read since 01 January 2018)

(** - live Mt. TBR includes new purchases added throughout the year)  


Link to the original Mt. TBR (2018) post.

Link to the original Mt TBR (2018) Reading List.


Rules - same as previously - are that I picked a stack of physical books off my shelves at home which I would try to read over the course of the year. Any new purchases are added to the pile. If I pick another physical book of my shelves, I get to take one off the pile and put it on the shelf - as a substitute.


Halloween Bingo - Card & Books - Update Post

19 Oct. 18 - Bingo #6 - 1st column down. Also, READING BLACKOUT!!! I'll try and catch up with writing reviews while waiting for the remaining 4 calls to come in. 


17 Oct. 18 - Bingo #5 - 5th row across.


14 Oct. 18 - Bingo #4 - 4th row across.


13 Oct. 18 - Bingo #3 - Centre row! (And Bingo #4 will follow when I read the Darkest London square tomorrow/Monday.)


04 Oct. 18 - Double Bingo!  - Top left through bottom right (diagonal) & Four Corners + Centre

Slight change of plans re the physical sheep and Hastings stickers... 


Many thanks to Moonlight Madness, Obsidian Black Plague, and Murder by Death for my lovely card for this year's Halloween Bingo.

As with previous years, I will update this post as we go along - with Captain Hastings covering squares I have read, and The Gang popping up on squares that have been called.


I am also listing the books I plan to read / have read for each square - with () being planned reads, Italics being books in progress, and bold being books I have read:


Row # 1: 




Cryptozoologist:  The Curse of Loch Ness - Peter Tremayne

Deadlands: Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett

Country House Mystery:  Clouds of Witness - Dorothy L. Sayers

Classic Horror: Gothic Tales - Arthur Conan Doyle

Amateur Sleuth: The Expendable Man - Dorothy B. Hughes


Row # 2:



Genre: Horror: Poirot's Early Cases - Agatha Christie *Wild Card*

Murder Most Foul: 4:50 From Paddington - Agatha Christie

Terror in a Small Town: To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey

Romantic Suspense: Wildfire at Midnight - Mary Stewart

Modern Noir:  Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer


Row # 3:



A Grimm Tale: Six Gun Snow White - Catherynne Valente

13: 13 Guests - Jefferson Farjeon

Free Space:  Get Well Soon - Jennifer Wright 

Gothic: The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo

Terrifying women: Deep Water - Patricia Highsmith


Row # 4:



Modern Masters of Horror: October - Michael Rowe

Ghost Stories: The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde

Darkest London:  Quick Curtain - Alan Melville

Relics and Curiosities:  The Amulet - Michael McDowell

Genre: Suspense:  Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey


Row # 5:


Supernatural: Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett

Fear The Drowning Deep: Fatal Passage - Ken McGoogan

Cozy Mystery: Five Red Herrings - Dorothy L. Sayers

Diverse Voices: The Red Power Murders - Thomas King

New Release:  Stealth - Hugh Fraser



Unallocated but in progress: n/a


Wild Cards available: 1/2 (Agatha Christie)



Squares Called:

09/01/18-"Classic Horror"


09/05/18-"Cozy Mystery"

09/07/18-"New Release"

09/09/18- "Southern Gothic"

09/11/18- "Terrifying Women" 

09/13/18- "A Grimm Tale"

09/15/18- "Modern Masters of Horror" 

09/17/18- "Creepy Carnivals"

09/19/18- “Relics and Curiousities”

09/21/18- “Diverse Voices”

09/23/18- "Murder Most Foul"

09/25/18-"Amateur Sleuth"

09/27/18-"Genre: Suspense"


10/01/18-"Ghost Stories"




10/09/18-"Terror in a Small Town"

10/11/18-"Darkest London"


10/15/18-"Genre: Horror"

10/17/18-"Fear the Drowning Deep"


Reading progress update: I've read 355 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

Aaaah, ... It all makes sense.

Reading progress update: I've read 329 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

‘I think all artists are attracted by the odd, whatever their medium, don’t you?’


‘You don’t seem to have anything on transvestism.’

‘What made you think of that?’

‘Then you know the term?’

‘Of course.’

(show spoiler)




Where the heck is this going?

Reading progress update: I've read 292 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

‘Any alternative suggestion?’

‘Well, there is someone who had the opportunity, the motive, and the means.’

‘What are we waiting for?’ Bryce said, flippant.

‘Unfortunately the fourth ingredient is missing.’

‘No evidence.’

‘Not one sliver of a tittle.’

Erm, ...

since there is no body as yet, this is still a missing person's case, not an actual crime

(show spoiler)

. So why are they so trigger happy for an arrest?

Reading progress update: I've read 252 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

So that was that.

He began to eat his breakfast, and Marta poured out a cup of coffee for herself and sat sipping it. She looked cold and pale, but he could not resist the question:

‘Did you notice anything odd about the shoe?’

‘Yes. It hadn’t been unfastened.’

A marvellous woman. He supposed that she must have vices to counterbalance so many excellences but he couldn’t imagine what they could be.


Aww. :D


Also, with just under 100 pages left, am I going to finish this tonight or do I go and get a good night's sleep???


Hm, ...

Halloween Bingo - Wild Card

The Last Man - Mary Shelley Poirot's Early Cases - Agatha Christie



I'm ditching The Last Man from the Halloween Bingo (the Genre: Horror square) and am going to use my Wild Card.


Dame Agatha to the rescue!


What makes this even more fun than actually finishing the bingo on a high (instead of the soul-destroyingly slow and depressing eulogy that is The Last Man) is that I'm going to have our very special guest - Captain Hastings - feature in this last book.


Hastings is the narrator of the 18 short stories that make up Poirot's early cases. :D


Myself and The Gang could not be more chuffed. 


Reading progress update: I've read 189 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

Do you read our Silas, Inspector?’

‘I’m afraid not.’

‘Don’t apologise. It’s an acquired taste. Even his wife hasn’t acquired it yet, if all reports are true. But then, poor woman, she is so busy suckling and suffering that she probably has no time to spare for the consideration of the abstract. No one seems to have indicated to her the possibilities of contraception. Of course, Silas has a “thing” about fertility. He holds that the highest function of a woman is the manufacture of progeny. So disheartening for a woman, don’t you feel, to be weighed against a rabbit, and to know that she will inevitably be found wanting.


One, or rather two, of the many reasons I love Tey's work: Inspector Grant and PC Williams. In this book, we really get to appreciate their working relationship - they complement each other. Even tho Grant is the more senior in rank, he knows that Williams has skills that he himself lacks, and he appreciates him for it.

Reading progress update: I've read 143 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

‘Yes. Publicity is suffering from a sort of inflation. Its power is out of all proportion to its worth.’


Yup. So true.

Reading progress update: I've read 111 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

‘Goodnight!’ he called, from far down the lane.

And that was the last that anyone in Salcott St Mary ever saw of Leslie Searle. Forty-eight hours later Alan Grant stepped back into the affairs of the Trimmings household.

And with that the main plot has been set in motion. It appears that Leslie Searle doesn't have a lot friends in Salcott St Mary. He's genuinely disliked by almost everyone.

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 355 pages.

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

Even the first page of this makes it sound like I'm going to like this one a lot:

"GRANT paused with his foot on the lowest step, and listened to the shrieking from the floor above. As well as the shrieks there was a dull continuous roar; an elemental sound, like a forest fire or a river in spate. As his reluctant legs bore him upwards he arrived at the inevitable deduction: the party was being a success. He was not going to the party. Literary sherry parties, even distinguished ones, were not Grant’s cup of tea.

He was going to collect Marta Hallard and take her out to dinner.

Policemen, it is true, do not normally take out to dinner leading actresses who gravitate between the Haymarket and the Old Vic; not even when the policemen are Detective-Inspectors at Scotland Yard. There were three reasons for his privileged position, and Grant was aware of all three. In the first place he was a presentable escort, in the second place he could afford to dine at Laurent’s, and in the third place Marta Hallard did not find it easy to obtain escort. For all her standing, and her chic, men were a little afraid of Marta. So when Grant, a mere Detective-Sergeant then, appeared in her life over a matter of stolen jewellery, she had seen to it that he did not entirely fade out of it again. And Grant had been glad to stay. If he was useful to Marta as a cavalier when she needed one, she was even more useful to him as a window on the world. The more windows on the world a policeman has the better he is likely to be at his job, and Marta was Grant’s ‘leper’s squint’ on the theatre."

Halloween Bingo - Terror in a Small Town

To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

I need a break from The Last Man.


I thought I'd continue with my catch-up on Josephine Tey's work, and from what I have been able to scope, this one is set in a village or small town called Salcott St. Mary. 

And that is all I know about this book so far. 


So, this is for my last Bingo square: Terror in a Small Town.


Reading progress update: I've read 203 out of 479 pages.

The Last Man - Mary Shelley

While there are lots of interesting angles to the story, and the history of the story, riveting it is not. :(


Reading progress update: I've read 171 out of 479 pages.

The Last Man - Mary Shelley

Ah, the apocalypse has started:

One word, in truth, had alarmed her more than battles or sieges, during which she trusted Raymond’s high command would exempt him from danger. That word, as yet it was not more to her, was PLAGUE. This enemy to the human race had begun early in June to raise its serpent-head on the shores of the Nile; parts of Asia, not usually subject to this evil, were infected. It was in Constantinople; but as each year that city experienced a like visitation, small attention was paid to those accounts which declared more people to have died there already, than usually made up the accustomed prey of the whole of the hotter months.


Reading progress update: I've read 118 out of 479 pages.

The Last Man - Mary Shelley

Pride and tenderness now struggled, and at length made a compromise together. She would see Raymond, since destiny had led him to her, and her constancy and devotion must merit his friendship. But her rights with regard to him, and her cherished independence, should not be injured by the idea of interest, or the intervention of the complicated feelings attendant on pecuniary obligation, and the relative situations of the benefactor, and benefited. Her mind was of uncommon strength; she could subdue her sensible wants to her mental wishes, and suffer cold, hunger and misery, rather than concede to fortune a contested point. Alas! that in human nature such a pitch of mental discipline, and disdainful negligence of nature itself, should not have been allied to the extreme of moral excellence!

Some lady - Evadne (probably a personification of either any classical goddess or a symbol for about every woman who's ever met Byron) pining for Raymond, a.k.a. Byron.


While the condensed story of the Shelley-Byron Set is fascinating for its time, the drawn out description that Shelley gives of their relationships - as portrayed through the characters of this book - can only have been interesting for Shelley herself, and maybe for some of her close friends. 


I get that she wrote this as part of dealing with the grief of loss over the deaths of both Shelley and Byron, I really do, but there are limits to my interest in the group when it comes to looking for a plot / storyline in this book.


Bring on the damn plague!

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