My Week in Books

New arrivals

A restrained week for purchases but a busy week for incoming review copies…….

DeposedCoverDeposed by David Barbaree (hardback, review copy courtesy of Bonnier Zaffre)

In a darkened cell, a brutally deposed dictator lies crippled – deprived of his power, his freedom – and his eyes. On the edge of utter despair, his only companion is the young boy who brings him his meagre rations, a mere child who fears his own shadow. But to one who has held and lost the highest power, one thing alone is crystal clear: even emperors were mere children once. Ten years later, the new ruler’s son watches uneasily over his father’s empire. Wherever he looks rebellion is festering, and those closest to him have turned traitor once before. To this city in crisis comes a hugely wealthy senator from the very edge of the empire, a young and angry ward at his heels. He is witty but inscrutable, generous with his time and money to a leader in desperate need of a friend – and he wears a bandage over his blinded eyes. The fallen emperor’s name is Nero. But this isn’t his story.

AnythingIsPossibleAnything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (paperback, Goodreads giveaway prize)

Written in tandem with My Name Is Lucy Barton and drawing on the small-town characters evoked there, these pages reverberate with the themes of love, loss, and hope that have drawn millions of readers to Strout’s work. Here, among others, are the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” now adults: one trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. Tommy, the janitor at the local high school, has his faith tested in an encounter with an emotionally isolated man he has come to help; a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD discovers unexpected solace in the company of a lonely innkeeper; and Lucy Barton’s sister, Vicky, struggling with feelings of abandonment and jealousy, nonetheless comes to Lucy’s aid, ratifying the deepest bonds of family.

Crimson&BoneCrimson & Bone by Marina Fiorato (proof copy courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton)

Annie Stride is a beautiful, flame-haired young woman from the East End of London. She is also a whore. On a bleak January night Annie stands on Waterloo Bridge, watching the icy waters of the Thames writhe beneath her as she contemplates throwing herself in. At the last minute she’s rescued by a handsome young man.  Her saviour, Francis Maybrick Gill, is a talented artist. He takes Annie as his muse, painting her again and again and transforming her from a fallen woman into society’s darling, taking her far away from her old life. But there is darkness underpinning Annie’s lavish new lifestyle. In London and in Florence, prostitutes are being murdered. There’s someone out there who knows who Annie really is – and they won’t let her forget where she came from…

TheGoodFatherThe Good Father by Simon Wilsher (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

In 1994, nine year old Effie and her twelve year old brother Ajan, endure the horrors of life in the besieged city of Sarajevo after the loss of their parents. Desperate to help preserve their city, Ajan becomes involved with a criminal gang among the makeshift defenders. When Effie is forced to flee alone, she must survive long enough to reach those outside of the city who have come to help. But the influence of those pursuing her is such that not even the soldiers of the UN might be able to save her. Any hope of a future for Effie eventually lies with only one man, Captain Nathan Lane. It is 2017, and an attempt is made on the life of Foreign Secretary, Caroline Hardy. As the Security Services hunt for her attacker, the reality she is only a bit part player in the affair doesn’t occur to anyone. Not until her daughter, Mia goes missing and is implicated in the disappearance of a well-connected lawyer. As the focus switches to Mia, a secret that Caroline has kept hidden for a long time threatens them both, until there becomes only one place she can turn, to the man who shares her secret.

DeathAtGlacierLakeDeath at Glacier Lake by Pam Stucky (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

For two decades, the lush, isolated forests of the North Cascades have hidden a secret. Now, twenty years later, a mysterious contest has brought Mindy Harris back to the area she thought she’d left behind forever. A seemingly innocent creative design firm shows up for a company retreat, but all goes awry when one of their own turns up dead. Was it an accident? Murder? And how does the unsolved mystery from twenty years ago play into it all? What are the limits of a human heart? How far will a person go for the ones they love?

TheAngolanClanThe Angolan Clan by Christopher Lowery (ebook, review copy courtesy of Urbane)

1974/5: After the Revolution of the Carnations, Portugal is transformed into a communist state. Capitalists are ruthlessly persecuted and the liberated Portuguese colony of Angola is thrust into one of the bloodiest civil wars in history. The fabled Angolan diamond mines are closed down, but not before a group of refugees escape with a hoard of the precious gems. Their lives promise wealth and success, but a legacy of revenge and greed will eventually find them all, with fatal consequences..

2008: A millionaire businessman drowns in the swimming pool of his mansion in Marbella; a wealthy Frenchman is killed while skiing in the Swiss Alps; and a Portuguese playboy and a prostitute are found murdered together in a seedy New York apartment. The series of seemingly unconnected deaths sets two women Jenny Bishop, a young English widow, and Angolan born Leticia da Costa on a terrifying journey into the past to revisit the Portuguese revolution and the Angolan civil war. Together they begin to unlock a 30 year old mystery that promises to change their lives forever if they survive to reveal the truth. The Angolan Clan takes the reader on a heart-stopping roller coaster ride, from past to present and back again. It is a deadly intercontinental treasure hunt laced with secrets, deceit and murder. The prize is a fortune in Angolan diamonds…or death at the hands of a pathological killer.

AndTheBirdsKeptOnSingingAnd the Birds Kept on Singing by Simon Bourke (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Pregnant at seventeen, Sinéad McLoughlin does the only thing she can; she runs away from home. She will go to England and put her child up for adoption. But when she lays eyes on it for the first time, lays eyes on him, she knows she can never let him go. Just one problem. He’s already been promised to someone else. A tale of love and loss, remorse and redemption, And the Birds Kept on Singing tells two stories, both about the same boy. In one Sinéad keeps her son and returns home to her parents, to nineteen-eighties Ireland and life as a single mother. In the other she gives him away, to the Philliskirks, Malcolm and Margaret, knowing that they can give him the kind of life she never could.  As her son progresses through childhood and becomes a young man, Sinéad is forced to face the consequences of her decision. Did she do the right thing? Should she have kept him, or given him away? And will she spend the rest of her life regretting the choices she has made?

VindolandaVindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy (ARC, NetGalley)

AD 98: The bustling army base at Vindolanda lies on the northern frontier of Britannia and the entire Roman world. In twenty years’ time, the Emperor Hadrian will build his famous wall, but for now defences are weak, as tribes rebel against Roman rule, and local druids preach the fiery destruction of the invaders. Flavius Ferox is a Briton and a Roman centurion, given the task of keeping the peace on this wild frontier. But it will take more than just courage to survive life in Roman Britain…


GoldenHillGolden Hill by Francis Spufford (ARC, NetGalley)

New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan Island, 1746. One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?

TheOtherMrsWalkerThe Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis     (ebook, £1.19)

Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name… An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat, on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the carpet. A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back to the city of her birth, her future uncertain, her past in tatters. But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know is that in investigating the death of one friendless old lady, her own life will become enriched beyond measure.  The Other Mrs Walker – a detective story with no detective – is a beautiful, beguiling and intensely moving debut.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Book Reviews

On Wednesday I published my review of These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper, a 5* read for me that got a lot of interest. The following day saw the publication of my review of Anne Boleyn: The King’s Obsession, the latest in Alison Weir’s historical fiction series on the wives of Henry VIII. On Friday I reviewed a YA dystopian novel, The X-Variant by Rosemary Cole. It’s the first in a planned series.

Other posts

Monday and Tuesday saw book blitzes for The Devil’s Whisper by T. H. Moore and Streets of Glass by Michelle D. Argyle. Later in the week I posted my monthly update, including my book of the month, Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. A review of this will appear next week. Finally, on Saturday I took part in the blog tour for Deposed by David Barbaree by featuring a guest post from David on his approach to research for this historical thriller set in ancient Rome.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 54 out of 78 books read (3 more than last week)
  • Classics Club – 2 out of 50 books reviewed (same as last week)
  • NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 – 31 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (Gold)
  • From Page to Screen – 6 book/film comparisons completed (same as last week)
  • The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist 2017 – 3 out of 7 read (same as last week)

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Review: The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  • Review: The King’s Jew: Book 2 by Darius Stransky
  • Blitz: Breaker and the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
  • Q&A: In Shadowland by Timothy Ashby
  • Review: Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
  • Blog Tour/Guest Post: Last Witness by Carys Jones

Reviews to be added to NetGalley

None – all up to date!

9 thoughts on “My Week in Books

  1. You have some fab-sounding books in your post this week. I’m tempted to get the Elizabeth Strout and Francis Spufford books as both sound great. I have The Other Mrs Walker on my TBR and really want to read it soon as I keep hearing such good things about it. I hope you enjoy all of your books and that you have a lovely week ahead 🙂

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