My Week in Books – 1st Oct 2017

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals

I’m not sure what it was about this week but the books just seemed to keep coming… (Oh, so nothing to do with requesting titles on NetGalley or saying ‘Yes’ to review requests, then?)

TheSecretofVesaliusThe Secret of Vesalius by Jordi Llobregat (eARC, NetGalley)

Daniel Amat has left Spain and all that happened there behind him. Having just achieved a brilliant role in Ancient Languages at Oxford University and an even more advantageous engagement, the arrival of a letter – a demand – stamped Barcelona comes like a cold hand from behind. He arrives back in that old, labyrinthine and near-mythic city a few days before the great 1888 World Fair, amid dread whispers of murders – the injuries reminiscent of an ancient curse, and bearing signs of the genius 16th century anatomist, Vesalius. Daniel is soon pulled into the depths of the crime, and eventually into the tunnels below Barcelona, where his own dark past and the future of science are joined in a terrible venture – to bring the secret of Vesalius to life.

MrDickensAndHisCarolMr Dickens and His Carol: A Novel of Christmas Past by Samantha Silva (advanced reading copy courtesy of Allison & Busby)

For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, and he is famous on the streets of London, where avid fans sneak up on him to snip off pieces of his hair. He and his wife have five happy children, a sixth on the way, and a home filled with every comfort they could imagine. But when Dickens’ newest book is a flop, the glorious life he has built for himself threatens to collapse around him. His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, he accepts, but with relatives hounding him for loans, his wife and children planning an excessively lavish holiday party, and jealous critics going in for the kill, he is hardly feeling the Christmas spirit.  Increasingly frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace and inspiration in London itself, his great palace of thinking. And on one of his long walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets a young woman in a purple cloak, who might be just the muse he needs. Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy, propel Dickens on a Scrooge-like journey through his Christmases past and present—but with time running out, will he find the perfect new story to save him?

TheGirlFromSimon'sBayThe Girl From Simon’s Bay by Barbara Mutch (advanced reading copy courtesy of Allison & Busby)

A seashell and a sealed letter form a tenuous connection to a forbidden wartime romance… Simon’s Town is a vibrant seafaring community in a picturesque part of the Union of South Africa. Louise Ahrendts, daughter of a local shipbuilder, nurtures the dream of becoming a nurse amid the unwritten, unspoken rules about colour that might hold her back. As the port becomes a hub of activity following the outbreak of the Second World War, Louise crosses paths with man she is determined to be with – despite all the obstacles that life and war can throw in their way. But when a new troubled moment of history dawns, can they find their way back to each other?

TheCoffinPathThe Coffin Path by Katherine Clements (eARC, NetGalley)

Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching. When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.

CuzCuz by Danielle Allen (eARC, NetGalley)

Aged 15 and living in LA, Michael Allen was arrested for a botched carjacking. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years behind bars. After growing up in prison Michael was then released aged 26, only to be murdered three years later. In this deeply personal yet clear-eyed memoir, Danielle Allen reconstructs her cousin’s life to try and understand how this tragedy was the end result. We become intimate with Michael’s experience, from his first steps to his first love, and with the events of his arrest, his coming of age in prison, and his attempts to make up for lost time after his release. We learn what it’s like to grow up in a city carved up by invisible gang borders; and we learn how a generation has been lost. With breathtaking bravery and intelligence, Cuz circles around its subject, viewing it from all angles to expose a shocking reality. The result is both a personal and analytical view of a life that wields devastating power. This is the new American tragedy.

ChoosingHopeChoosing Hope by Holly Kammier (ebook, review copy courtesy of Xpresso Tours)

A broken marriage. A love affair. A lie that changes it all…Hope Rains Sullivan is living the dream—a successful husband, two beautiful young boys, and a charming home in Northern California. She should be happy. She almost convinced herself she was, until Adrian came along. Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t. He works with his hands, and is even willing to use them in a fight. He’s sexy, strong and fit, with warm brown skin that alludes to his Spanish background. Best of all, he lives for spending time with his kids. Feeling alone in her marriage, Adrian offers her a way out. Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation. Her lover is not who he pretends to be.  She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

TheCrowsofBearaThe Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson (ebook, review copy courtesy of Sage’s Blog Tours)

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life. Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine. Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice–a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.  Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

TheSummerSpringsteen'sSongsSavedMeThe Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me by Barbara Quinn (eARC, giveaway prize courtesy of Lakewater Press)

Coming home to catch her husband with his face between the long, silky legs of another woman is the last thing Sofia expects—and on today of all days. But, after scratching an expletive into his Porsche and setting the cheating bastard’s clothes on fire, she cranks up her beloved Bruce and flees, vowing to never look back. Finding solace in the peaceful beachside town of Bradley Beach, NJ, Sof is determined to start over. And, with the help of best friends, new acquaintances, a sexy neighbour, and the powerful songs of Springsteen, this may be the place where her wounds can heal. But, as if she hasn’t faced her share of life’s challenges, a final flurry of obstacles awaits. In order to head courageously toward the future, Sofia must first let go of her past, find freedom, and mend her broken soul.

ShadowsontheGrassShadows on the Grass by Misha Herwin (eARC courtesy of the author)

In 1960s Bristol, seventeen year old Kate is torn between the new sexual freedom and her rigid Catholic upbringing. Her parents have high expectations of her. She, however, is determined to lead her own life. Meanwhile, Mimi, her grandmother, is dying. In her final hours, her cousin the Princess keeps watch at her bedside. Born in the same month in the same year, the two women are bound by their past and a terrible betrayal. Caught between the generations, Hannah, Mimi’s daughter, struggles to come to come to terms with her relationship with her mother and to keep the peace between her daughter and her husband. She too must find her own way in this foreign land in a new post war

Bells of AvalonBells of Avalon by Libbet Bradstreet (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Thrust into a limelight she never chose, Katie’s been paired with Danny for as long as she can remember. Films, roadshow tours, and drugstore appearances…post-war Hollywood can’t seem to get enough of the sweetheart team. They’ll even fall in love one day.

But young love seldom survives the fog wake of Los Angeles – a place of dreams and nightmares.

TheMurderer'sMaidThe Murderer’s Maid by Erika Mailman (ebook, review copy courtesy of HF Virtual Book Tours)

The Murderer’s Maid interweaves the stories of two women: one, the servant of infamous Lizzie Borden, and the other a modern-day barista fleeing from an attempt on her life. Trapped by servitude and afraid for her own safety, Irish maid Bridget finds herself an unwilling witness to the tensions in the volatile Borden household. As Lizzie seethes with resentment, Bridget tries to perform her duties and keep her mouth shut. Unknowingly connected to the legendary crime of a century ago, Brooke, the illegitimate daughter of an immigrant maid, struggles to conceal her identity and stay a jump ahead of the men who want to kill her. When she unexpectedly falls in love with Anthony, a local attorney, she has to decide whether to stop running and begin her life anew.  With historical detail and taut, modern storytelling, Erika Mailman writes a captivating novel about identity, choices, freedom, and murder. She offers readers a fresh perspective on the notorious crime and explores the trials of immigrants seeking a better life while facing down fear and oppression, today and throughout history. Intelligent and detailed, The Murderer’s Maid is a gripping read from beginning to bloody conclusion.


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis, a fascinating and very personal exploration of the life of the least well-known of the Brontë sisters.

Tuesday – I shared my review of The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel by Erin Bomboy as part of the blog tour. Definitely one for fans of Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing With The Stars.

Wednesday – Another review, this time as part of the blog tour for Twilight Empress by Faith L Justice. I found it an enthralling and well-researched historical fiction about Placidia, sister of the Roman Emperor, Honorius.

Thursday – I shared my review of Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech, a spellbinding novel about memory and secrets, set in the aftermath of the floods in Hull in 2007.

Friday – I took part in the book blitz for Carry Me Home by Jessica Therrien. I also published my review of Bluebird, Bluebird the latest novel by Attica Locke. It’s a cracking mystery but also a searing indictment of contemporary race relations in America.

Saturday – I compiled my 5 Favourite September Reads. This month it was a hard choice with some great titles to choose from.

Sunday – I welcomed Apple Gidley, author of Fireburn, to What Cathy Read Next. To mark publication day of her historical fiction novel set in the Caribbean island of St Croix, Apple provided insight into the research behind the book.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 115 out of 156 books read, 3 more than last time
  • Classics Club Challenge– 5 out of 50 books reviewed, same as last time
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 48 ARCs reviewed out of 50, 1 more than last time
  • From Page to Screen 2017/8 – 7 book/film comparisons out of 12 completed, same as last time

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • From Page to Screen: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Blog Tour/Review: Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole
  • Book Review: Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall

How was your week in books?  Booker Prize shortlist or charity shop donation?

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