A lot of new arrivals this week but I blame midsummer madness. Summer is no time for restraint anyway is it? And I haven’t even looked yet at the new set of Kindle monthly deals on Amazon. Hang on, I’ll be back in a minute….
The Sea Road West by Sally Rena (ebook, free)
The road from the Scottish mainland to Kintillo lies across a ridge of craggy and forbidding hills, a natural barrier isolating the peninsular from the rest of the world and making Kintillo a place of both refuge and solitude. But trouble begins when Father Macabe dies, and Father James, a new, young man arrives. Handsome and full of ideals, Father James is totally unprepared for the spell-binding beauty of the lonely country, and for the irrelevance of his philanthropic fervour to the lives of its inhabitants. For company, there is only a retired doctor, a charming and alcoholic wreck, and the inhabitants of the Hall – the Laird and his two pretty daughters. Meriel Finlay is one of these daughters – a captivating 19 year old yearning for love and adventure. As mutual desire slowly ripens, can Father James continue to keep focus on his profession when it denies him his basic instincts? Passions hidden below the surface, maturing in loneliness, erupt in a violent upsurge of love, hatred and jealousy which sweep through Kintillo like a storm…
When It’s Over by Barbara Ridley (eARC, NetGalley)
Coming of age in Prague in the 1930s, Lena Kulkova is inspired by the left-wing activists who resist the rise of fascism. She meets Otto, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, and follows him to Paris to work for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. As the war in Spain ends and a far greater war engulfs the continent, Lena gets stuck in Paris with no news from her Jewish family, including her beloved baby sister, left behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Otto, meanwhile, has fled to a village in England, and urges Lena to join him, but she can’t obtain a visa. When Lena and Otto are finally reunited, the safe haven Lena has hoped for doesn’t last long. Their relationship becomes strained, and Lena is torn between her loyalty to Otto and her growing attraction to Milton, the son of the eccentric Lady of the Manor. As the war continues, she yearns to be reunited with her sister, while Milton is preoccupied with the political turmoil that leads to the landslide defeat of Churchill in the 1945 election. Based on a true story, When It’s Over is a moving, resonant, and timely read about the lives of war refugees, dramatic political changes, and the importance of family, love, and hope.
The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting (eARC, NetGalley)
Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery – he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother. But he knows that the fate of his grandfather’s brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death – a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all. Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the family’s tragic secrets takes him on a long journey – from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France – to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century.
A Dangerous Woman from Nowhere by Kris Radish (eARC, NetGalley)
Briar Logan is a loner who has already survived a wretched childhood, near starvation, and the harsh western frontier in the 1860s. Just when she is on the brink of finally opening her heart to the possibilities of happiness, the love of her life is kidnapped by lawless gold miners–and she steels herself for what could be the greatest loss of her life. Desperate to save her husband and the solitary life they have carved out of the wilderness, Briar is forced to accept the help of a damaged young man and a notorious female horse trainer. Facing whiskey runners, gold thieves, unpredictable elements, and men who will stop at nothing to get what they want, the unlikely trio must forge an uncommon bond in order to survive. Full of lessons of love, letting go, and the real meaning of family, A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere is a timeless western adventure story about courage, change, risk, and learning how to unlock damaged hearts and live in the sweet moments of now
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (ebook, NetGalley)
‘O felt her presence behind him like a fire at his back.’ Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again. The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi – Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.
The Biographies of Ordinary People: Vol. 1, 1989-2000 by Nicole Dieker (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)
The Biographies of Ordinary People is the story of the Gruber family: Rosemary and Jack, and their daughters Meredith, Natalie, and Jackie. The two-volume series begins in July 1989, on Rosemary’s thirty-fifth birthday; it ends in November 2016, on Meredith’s thirty-fifth birthday. The story is an episodic, ensemble narrative that takes us into intimately familiar experiences: putting on a play, falling out with a best friend, getting dial-up internet for the first time. Drinking sparkling wine out of a paper cup on December 31, 1999 and wondering what will happen next. At the heart of the story is Meredith Gruber, the oldest Gruber sister and the one determined to figure out how “ordinary people” should live–because all the biographies she’s ever read are about famous people. She wants to write and act, and her younger sister Jackie wants to sing opera, and the two of them pursue their goals with both ambition and limitations.
Madam Tulip by David Ahern (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)
Out-of-work actress Derry O’Donnell is talented, professional, just a little psychic… and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madame Tulip, fortune teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a luxurious castle – a famous rap artist mysteriously dies. As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of fashion, millionaires, horses and cocaine, she must race to save her best friend from jail and a supermodel from being murdered. Her efforts threaten to destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.
The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John Le Carre (ebook, 99p deal)
“Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I’m sitting now.” From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he’s writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire or the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth, visiting Rwanda’s museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide, celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 with Yasser Arafat and his high command, interviewing a German woman terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev, listening to the wisdoms of the great physicist, dissident, and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, meeting with two former heads of the KGB, watching Alec Guinness prepare for his role as George Smiley in the legendary BBC TV adaptations, or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in The Constant Gardener, le Carré endows each happening with vividness and humour, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood. Best of all, le Carré gives us a glimpse of a writer’s journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters
Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall (eARC courtesy of Head of Zeus)
Bramble Challoner has had a very normal upbringing. She lives in a semi in the suburbs of London with her parents and works at the call centre down the road. She still goes out with the boy she met at school. At weekends they stay in and watch films on the telly and sometimes hold hands. Bramble is dying for an adventure. So when her very grand grandfather, Lord Penrose, dies, leaving his huge, rambling house in Cornwall to her, Bramble packs her bags immediately. With her best friend Katie in tow, the sleepy village of Tremarnock had better be ready for its newest residents…
Holding on to Hurt by Charlotte Roth (ebook, review copy courtesy of Xpresso Tours and the author)
“I dread that every day I live, I’m one day further away from my life with Scottie”. Irene Hurt has always dreamed of having a large family with her adoring husband Bruce. That dream is shattered when her doctor performs a hysterectomy after the birth of her only son, Scottie. Though heartbroken, Irene accepts the outcome and cherishes every moment with her son and her husband, until … the day she gets the call every mother dreads. Scottie is injured in a mass school shooting and is rushed to the ICU, where he’s put into a medically induced coma to wait out his fate. Devastated, Bruce pulls away and even tries to convince Irene to remove Scottie’s life support, to save his son from a life of lesser existence. But, Irene refuses to give up hope. On her journey through grief, denial, anger and finally, acceptance, Irene discovers more about the events of that tragic day, the boy who shot her son and then took his own life, and the husband she thought she knew and could trust. Will Scottie pull through and, once again, be the glue that keeps this family together? Or, will Irene accept that sometimes, the best thing a mother can do for her child is let go? Set in the darkest hours of winter in Seattle, Holding on to Hurt tells the gripping story of one mother’s fight to keep her son alive, no matter what she has to sacrifice.
The Dark Isle by Clare Carson (hardcover, ARC courtesy of Head of Zeus)
Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty. Now Sam has travelled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of his past. What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just 400 people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn’t want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret.
On What Cathy Read Next last week
On Monday I published my review of House of Names by Colm Toibin, his retelling of the Greek myth of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. Thursday saw my review of a fun historical mystery set in medieval Venice, City of Masks by S D Sykes. On Friday I took part in the blog tour for Dark Dawn over Steep House by M. R. C. Kasasian and shared my review of this terrifically entertaining book, the fifth instalment of his The Gower Street Detective series. Saturday was double blog tour day with reviews of two fantastic new titles from Orenda Books: Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen, and Exquisite by Sarah Stovell.
I joined other bloggers for Top Ten Tuesday, sharing my ten best books of the year so far. Wednesday has become WWW Wednesday, where I and other book bloggers share what we’ve been reading, are currently reading and plan to read next. On Friday I wrote about my plan to devote as much as possible of my reading time in July to my stack of review copies from indie authors.
- Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – Completed (78 out of 78 books read, 3 more than last week). I think I need to set a new target….
- Classics Club Challenge– 2 out of 50 books reviewed (same as last week)
NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 38 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (same as last week)
- From Page to Screen 2017– 7 book/film comparisons out of 12 completed (same as last week)
- The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist 2017 – Completed
On What Cathy Read Next this week
- Book Review: The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
- Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark
- Book Review: A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls
- Meme: WWW Wednesday
Reviews to be added to NetGalley
- None just at the moment