My Week in Books


New arrivals

ASeaofStrawA Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton (ebook, 99p)

Will a man walk two thousand kilometres for a woman? In 1967, Zé will. Salazar’s Portugal has become a prison for him.

1966: When Jody, young mother and designer from the north of England, arrives on the Lisbon coast, she brings the lure of ‘Swinging London’ to Portuguese painter Zé’s existing dreams of freedom. A nascent love is interrupted when, back in England, husband Michael forces her to choose between their 2-year-old daughter Anna and Zé. And Zé, at home in Lisbon and grounded by the state’s secret police, can only wait.

For both Jody and Zé, love is revolution. And personal and political threads weave their story, a period piece set amid the then socially conservative North of England, the light and rugged landscapes of modern Portugal, and the darkness of the dying years of Europe’s longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw, with its pervading atmosphere of saudades, is a quest for love in revolutionary times.

Block46Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson (ebook, 99p)

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

TheWardrobeMistressThe Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath (eARC, NetGalley)

January 1947. London is in ruins, there’s nothing to eat, and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. To make matters worse, Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day, has suddenly died. His widow Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is beside herself with grief. Then one night she discovers Gricey’s secret. Plunged into a dark new world, she realises that the war isn’t over after all.


BrokenBranchesBroken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee (paperback, advance reader copy courtesy of Hideaway Fall)

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’ A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family. There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

TheVersionsofUsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (ebook, 99p)

What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything… One Day meets Sliding Doors in this outstanding debut that is causing a buzz across the publishing world. Some moments can change your life forever. Have you ever wondered, what if…? A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life. Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them.

MajorPettigrewsLastStandMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (ebook, 99p)

Major Ernest Pettigrew is perfectly content to lead a quiet life in the sleepy village of Edgecombe St Mary, away from the meddling of the locals and his overbearing son. But when his brother dies, the Major finds himself seeking companionship with the village shopkeeper, Mrs Ali. Drawn together by a love of books and the loss of their partners, they are soon forced to contend with irate relatives and gossiping villagers. The perfect gentleman, but the most unlikely hero, the Major must ask himself what matters most: family obligation, tradition or love? Funny, comforting and heart-warming, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand proves that sometimes, against all odds, life does give you a second chance.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Book Reviews

On Thursday I published my review of A Countess in Limbo: Diaries in War and Revolution, the journals of Countess Olga Hendrikoff, edited by her great niece, Sue Carscallen. Absolutely fascinating memoirs of living through the Russian Revolution and the occupation of France during WW2.   Saturday saw my review of Widdershins, the debut novel by Helen Steadman, inspired by the true story of the witch trials that took place in 17th century Newcastle.

Other posts

On Monday, I shared a post entitled Temptations of a Book Blogger which really seemed to strike a chord with a lot of other bloggers. It appears many of us are prey to temptation on the blogging front! On Tuesday I took part in the book blitz for Dawn Girl by Leslie Wolfe, a gripping thriller about a serial killer. My guest on Wednesday was David Smith, author of Letters to Strabo, who shared an interview with the book’s fictional narrator. On Friday, I was thrilled to join the blog tour for Sugar, Sugar: Bitter-sweet Tales of Indian Migrant Workers by Lainy Malkani. Lainy was kind enough to answer some questions about her debut short story collection – well worth a read.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 62 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 (Gold) – 33 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (same as last week)
  • 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

  • Book Review: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
  • Book Review: Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett & Ken Mitchroney
  • Author Q&A: The Last Train by Michael Pronko
  • Book Review: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
  • Book Review: The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway

Reviews to be added to NetGalley

Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett & Ken Mitchroney