My Week in Books – 24th June ’18


New arrivals

The Lost Letters of William WoolfThe Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen (eARC, courtesy of NetGalley and Michael Joseph)

Lost letters have only one hope for survival . . .

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soul mate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love? William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

The Devil's Half Mile HBThe Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch (hardcover, prize courtesy of Readers First and Corvus)

New York, 1799: Justy Flanagan, lawyer, soldier, policeman, has returned to his native city, bloodied and battered after fighting in the Irish Rebellion against the English. Determined to hunt down the man who murdered his father, his inquiries lead him to Wall Street and the fledgling stock market there. But as his investigations into the past move ahead, the horrific murders of young slave women in the present start to occupy his time. Convinced that there is a link between his father’s murder, the deaths of the young women, and a massive fraud that nearly destroyed New York’s economy, Justy can trust no one.

As the conspiracy deepens, it becomes clear that those involved will stop atnothing to keep their secrets. Justy is forced to choose: will he betray his father’s memory, compromise his integrity, and risk the lives of his closest friends, to get to the bottom of a tale so dangerous it could change the landscape of America forever?

The Pagoda TreeThe Pagoda Tree by Claire Scobie (proof copy courtesy of Random Things Tours and Unbound)

Maya plays among the towering granite temples in the ancient city of Tanjore. Like her mother before her, she is destined to become a devadasi, a dancer for the temple, and her family all expect that the prince himself will choose her as a courtesan. On the day of her initiation, a stranger arrives in town. Walter Sutcliffe, a black-frocked English clergyman, strives to offer moral guidance to the British troops stationed in Tanjore. But he is beset by his own demons.

As the British tear apart the princely kingdoms of India, Maya flees her ancestral home and heads to the steamy port city of Madras, where silks and satins are traded, poets vie for patrons, and fortunes are lost and found. When the shrieks of parrots fill the skies at dusk, Maya bows to the earth and starts to dance. Thomas Pearce, an ambitious young Englishman, is entranced from the moment he first sees her. But their love is forbidden and the consequences are devastating.

Unfolding amid war and famine, The Pagoda Tree takes us deep into the heart of India as the country struggles under brutal occupation. As cultures collide, Walter Sutcliffe unknowingly plays the decisive card in Maya’s destiny.

The Italian CoupleThe Italian Couple by J. R. Rogers (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Colonel Francesco Ferrazza, a disciplined and inflexible Royal Italian Army officer with Italy’s Fascist Military Information Service, and his attractive British wife, Emilia, are posted to Asmara affectionately referred to as ‘Little Rome’ by Mussolini. He is astonished when in 1938 he is ordered to set in motion a clandestine sabotage operation of the engineering marvel the Asmara-Massawa cableway that links Italian Eritrea to the sea. It is of such strategic importance the army comes to realize they may have made a mistake in constructing it. They fear it could fall into the hands of neighbouring Ethiopia—whom they defeated in a colonial war just two years ago.

Ferrazza sets out to find someone to carry out Operation Red Lion and meets Mario Caparrotti, an amateur race car driver and also a cableway mechanic who has unfettered access to the engine room. Prodded by her husband, the reluctant Emilia unhappily plays her part by becoming Caparrotti’s lover. But things begin to fall apart. As the clock counts down the final hours, Ferrazza begins to grasp that in ‘Little Rome’ nothing is what it seems, no one can be trusted and, when serving Mussolini, failure will never be condoned.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I featured a guest post ‘Putting Science in Fiction’ by R J Corgan, author of Cold Flood.

Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday saw me compiling my Summer TBR and I also shared a guest post ‘The Artist in Fiction’ by Arthur D. Hittner, author of Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse.

WednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m reading now and what I’ll be reading next.  I also published my review of crime mystery The Mountain Man’s Badge by Gary Corbin, the third book in his Mountain Man series.

Thursday – I took a delve into my To-Read shelf on Goodreads going Down the TBR Hole, although sadly it didn’t help reduce the number of books in my wish list on this occasion. My Throwback Thursday post was my review of the terrific Shelter by Sarah Franklin.

Saturday – I finally made a dent in both my author review pile and my 20 Books of Summer list by publishing my review of The King’s Daughter by Stephanie Churchill. The sequel to The Scribe’s Daughter it’s an engaging mix of historical fiction and fantasy (and this from someone who really doesn’t ‘do’ fantasy).

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 92 out of 156 books read, 2 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 15 out of 50 books read, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Gold) – 33 ARCs read and reviewed out of 50, same as last week
  • From Page to Screen– 10 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last week
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 5 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 46 books out of 50 read, same as last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 7 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 1 out of 6 books read, same as last week
  • Buchan of the Month – 5 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • NEW 20 Books of Summer Challenge – 5 out of 20 books read, 1 more than last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Darkest HourGraceThe Hidden Bones

Planned posts

  • Book Review: Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten
    Book Review: Grace by Paul Lynch
    Book Review: Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
    Blog Tour/Book Review: The Hidden Bones (Clare Hills #1) by Nicola Ford
    Book Review: The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch
    From Page to Screen: Darkest Hour
    Buchan of the Month: The Half-Hearted by John Buchan




Book Review: The King’s Daughter by Stephanie Churchill

TheKing'sDaughterAbout the Book

Irisa’s parents are dead and her younger sister Kassia is away on a journey when the sisters’ mysterious customer returns, urging Irisa to leave with him before disaster strikes. Can she trust him to keep her safe? How much does he know about the fate of her father? Only a voyage across the Eastmor Ocean to the land of her ancestors will reveal the truth about her family’s disturbing past. Once there, Irisa steps into a future she has unknowingly been prepared for since childhood, but what she discovers is far more sinister than she could have ever imagined. Will she have the courage to claim her inheritance?

Format: Paperback, ebook (417 pp.)   Publisher:
Published: 1st September 2017                     Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, YA

Purchase Links* ǀ ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The King’s Daughter on Goodreads

My Review

The King’s Daughter is the sequel to The Scribe’s Daughter but as the events run largely in parallel to the events in the earlier book it can definitely be read as a standalone. However, personally I would recommend reading the series in order. You can read my review of The Scribe’s Daughter here. It’s now also available as an audiobook.

Whereas The Scribe’s Daughter concentrated on the exploits of younger sister, Kassia, The King’s Daughter focuses on her older sister, Irisa. The Scribe’s Daughter was full of the excitement of Kassia’s adventures and initially I found I missed that element in The King’s Daughter. Having said that, the first chapter provides a cliff-hanger opening in which Irisa finds herself in a (literally) precarious position. What follows is a flashback to events in the two years leading up to that point.   The reader must wait until close to the end of the book to find out if and/or how Irisa manages to extricate herself.

Like Irisa, I soon became immersed in the politics and intrigue of the court of King Bellek and – again like Irisa – was occupied with trying to work out who were the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’.  That turned out to be easier said than done in some cases with a few surprises skilfully delivered by the author late on in the book. “What does it all mean, this game of kings and their thrones?” Before long Irisa is learning sometimes contradictory things about her family’s past, hints of yet more secrets still to be uncovered and some surprising things about her future. ‘Everything I thought I understood was wrong.  Nothing was as it seemed and never would be again.’

I’ll confess that, in the beginning, I found Irisa somewhat passive compared with the feisty, adventurous Kassia, and a bit naïve as well, rather careless about the safety of others who daily risk exposure. She finds herself influenced as well by her heart and begins to doubt the path that seemed so obviously right to begin with. However, after a while, the author lets the reader witness the development of Irisa’s character as she begins to find ways to exercise influence, at first in small ways but all which demonstrate her humane attitude to those around her.

Events unfold in an increasingly dramatic way as the book progresses culminating in some exciting scenes that involve treachery, unexpected reunions, sad partings and close escapes. There is also a tender love story which unfolds as the book progresses.  Most excitingly, the book ends with tantalising hints about a story line relating to events in the life of Kassia and Irisa’s mother, Naria, offering the prospect of a prequel at some point (soon, I hope).

Described as ‘fantasy that reads like historical fiction’, The King’s Daughter is a sort of Game of Thrones without the gore and violence…or the unnatural relationships between family members!  The setting is an imagined world and, although no time period is specified, the clothes, buildings and weapons suggest the equivalent of the early medieval period in our world. There is some tremendous world building with evocative descriptions of the landscape of Agrius – mountains, cliff-top fortresses, vast forests, and thriving seaports – and its population of lords and vassals, slaves, merchants, traders, brigands and pirates.

The King’s Daughter is an entertaining mix of historical fiction and fantasy with an interesting cast of characters and plenty of intrigue and secrets to uncover.  If my review is not enough to tempt you, you can read an extract from The King’s Daughter – the exciting opening scene mentioned above, no less – here.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review. The King’s Daughter is the fifth book in my 20 Books of Summer (click here to see my full list).

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In three words: Engaging, dramatic, lively

Try something similar…The Scribe’s Daughter by Stephanie Churchill

StephanieChurchillAbout the Author

When Stephanie was a child, she was curious about everything, particularly as it related to “old stuff.” And because in those days there was no internet, when she was bored or wanted to learn something new about history or anything else, she could be found sitting on the floor at home reading an encyclopaedia. Her fondest memories are of wandering her grandparents’ farm in rural Nebraska, daydreaming and telling herself fairy tales, usually with a medieval twist.

Upon reaching adulthood, Stephanie developed a love of reading history and historical fiction. But never once did it occur to her to become a writer. Working in the field of law instead, it took a nudge from her favorite author suggesting that she try her hand at becoming an author.

Evoking the essence of historical fiction but without the history, Stephanie’s writing draws on her knowledge of history even while set in purely fictional places existing only in her imagination. Filled with action and romance, loyalty and betrayal, her writing relies on deeply drawn and complex characters, exploring the subtleties of imperfect people living in a gritty, sometimes dark world. Her unique blend of historical fiction and fantasy ensures that her books are sure to please fans of historical fiction or epic fantasy literature alike.

Connect with Stephanie

Website ǀ Facebook ǀ Twitter | Goodreads