My Week in Books – 19th November 2017


New arrivals

Sweet Hollow WomenSweet Hollow Women by Holly Tierney-Bedord (ebook, free)

As part of a family where life happens to you, fifteen-year-old Carasine Busey is devastated but not surprised when her family drops everything in Sweet Hollow, Louisiana to follow her dad’s shaky career as a welder. It’s not especially shocking, either, when he abandons them all shortly after they settle into their new home in the city. Carasine, her mom Rhonda, and the rest of the Busey clan have adapted to roll with the punches. From Rhonda’s secret broken heart to Great-Great-Grandpa Jimbo’s eccentric failed dreams, Carasine and her family are used to disappointment. It’s not until Carasine gets a second chance with an unlikely pair of long-lost relatives that she realizes her path in life might be up to her to navigate. Being their flesh and blood convinces her that there may be some hope for her after all.

All the Beautiful GirlsAll the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J Church (eARC, NetGalley)

It was unimaginable. When she was eight years old, Lily Decker somehow survived the auto accident that killed her parents and sister, but neither her emotionally distant aunt nor her all-too-attentive uncle could ease her grief. Dancing proves to be Lily’s only solace, and eventually she receives a “scholarship” to a local dance academy—courtesy of a mysterious benefactor.

Grown and ready to leave home for good, Lily changes her name to Ruby Wilde and heads to Las Vegas to be a troupe dancer, but her sensual beauty and voluptuous figure land her work instead as a showgirl performing everywhere from Les Folies Bergere at the Tropicana to the Stardust’s Lido de Paris. Wearing costumes dripping with feathers and rhinestones, five-inch heels, and sky-high headdresses, Ruby may have all the looks of a Sin City success story, but she still must learn to navigate the world of men – and figure out what real love looks like.

CaligulaCaligula by Simon Turney (eARC, NetGalley)

Caligula: loving brother, reluctant Emperor and tortured soul.

The six children of Germanicus are cursed from birth. Father: believed poisoned by the Emperor Tiberius over the imperial succession. Mother and two brothers arrested and starved to death by Tiberius. One sister married off to an abusive husband. Only three are left: Caligula, in line for the imperial throne, and his two sisters, Drusilla and Livilla, who tells us this story.

The ascent of their family into the imperial dynasty forces Caligula to change from the fun-loving boy Livilla knew into a shrewd, wary and calculating young man. Tiberius’s sudden death allows Caligula to manhandle his way to power. With the bloodthirsty tyrant dead, it should be a golden age in Rome and, for a while, it is. But Caligula suffers emotional blow after emotional blow as political allies, friends, and finally family betray him and attempt to overthrow him, by poison, by the knife, by any means possible.  Little by little, Caligula becomes a bitter, resentful and vengeful Emperor, every shred of the boy he used to be eroded. As Caligula loses touch with reality, there is only one thing to be done before Rome is changed irrevocably. . .

The Moral CompassThe Moral Compass (Shaking the Tree #1) by K A Servian (ebook, review copy courtesy of HF Virtual Book Tours)

Florence has a charmed life. The filth and poverty of Victorian London are beyond her notice as she attends dinners, balls and parties. But when her father suffers a spectacular fall from grace, Florence’s world comes crashing down around her. She must abandon her life of luxury and sail to the far side of the world where compromise and suffering beyond anything she can imagine await her. When she is offered the opportunity to regain some of what she has lost, she takes it, but soon discovers that the offer is not all it seems. The choice she made has a high price attached and she must live with the heart-breaking consequences of her decision.

LionLion by Saroo Brierley (ebook, Kindle deal)

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (ebook, Kindle deal)

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart – he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone – but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

History of WovesHistory of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (ebook, Kindle deal)

How far would you go to belong? Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on. So when the perfect family – mother, father and their little boy, Paul – move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into their orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcome, that she finally has a place to belong. Yet something isn’t right. Drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published an extract from Becoming Mrs. Smith by Tanya E Williams as part of the blog tour. I also shared my list for the latest Classics Club ‘Spin’.  For those not familiar with it, you pick 20 books still unread (plenty to choose from in my case) from your Classics Club list and arrange them in a numbered list. A number is picked at random and that’s the book you have to read by the end of December. (The result was announced on Friday – the number was 4 – so it’s The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck for me.)

Tuesday – I shared a guest post by Adam LeBor about the inspiration for his novel District VIII. I also published my review of a historical mystery set in turn-of-the-century Barcelona I really enjoyed, The Secret of Vesalius by Jordi Llobregat. The author was kind enough to share the review on Twitter and describe it as ‘marvellous’ (blush).

WWWWednesdaysWednesdayWWW 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 an extract from the debut novel by Pankaj Giri, The Fragile Thread of Hope.

TBR Challenge 2018Thursday – I can’t resist signing up for reading challenges, especially if they’re going to motivate me to reduce my groaning To-Be-Read pile. The wonderful blogger, RoofBeamReader (the brains behind The Classics Club) is hosting the 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. You list 12 books that have been in your TBR pile for over a year and commit to read them by the end of December 2018. There’s still time to participate – sign up here.

Friday – Talking of TBR piles, I made another assault on my To-Read shelf on Goodreads by going Down the TBR Hole, dumping seven out of ten books on this occasion. However, they were all part of a series so a slight cheat!

Saturday – As part of the blog tour, I shared my review of Illusion by Stephanie Elmas, an accomplished historical mystery set in Victorian London that has just a hint of magic.

Sunday – I took part in the blog tour for Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson, the latest in his Dark Iceland crime mystery series.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 142 out of 156 books read, 4 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 5 out of 50 books reviewed, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 43 ARCs reviewed out of 50, 1 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen 2016/7– 7 book/film comparisons out of 12 completed, same as last week
  • From Page to Screen 2017/18 – 1 out of 3 completed, same as last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Review: A Pearl for my Mistress by Annabel Fielding
  • Review: Letting Go by Maria Thompson Corley
  • Review: Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker
  • Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Next week, I shall also be celebrating the first blogiversary of What Cathy Read Next!  

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