My Week in Books – 11th March ’18


New arrivals

White HousesWhite Houses by Amy Bloom (eARC, Netgalley)

In 1933, President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt took up residence in the White House. With them went the celebrated journalist Lorena Hickok – Hick to friends – a straight-talking reporter from South Dakota, whose passionate relationship with the idealistic, patrician First Lady would shape the rest of their lives.

Told by the indomitable Hick, White Houses is the story of Eleanor and Hick’s hidden love, and of Hick’s unlikely journey from her dirt-poor childhood to the centre of privilege and power. Filled with fascinating back-room politics, the secrets and scandals of the era, and exploring the potency of enduring love, it is an imaginative tour-de-force from a writer of extraordinary and exuberant talent.

The Dark TideThe Dark Tide by Vera Brittain (paperback)

Bright and vivacious, Daphne Lethbridge is back at Oxford after a stint of volunteer work. World War I has ravaged Europe, but it has done nothing to daunt her spirit, and she plunges headlong into the whirl of college life. Her enjoyment, though, is soured by her cynical contemporary Virginia Dennison, who spars with Daphne on every occasion. Daphne seems to triumph over Virginia when she marries a rising political star, but it’s not long before she begins to realize the bitter truth of her marriage. It takes a chance encounter with her old enemy for her disillusionment to give way to a mature understanding of love and friendship.

Juliet and RomeoJuliet & Romeo by David Hewson (Uncorrected proof copy, courtesy of The Dome Press)

Verona 1499, at the birth of the Renaissance.  Two young people meet: Romeo, desperate for love before being sent away to study; and Juliet facing a forced marriage to a nobleman she doesn’t know.  Fate and circumstance bring them together in a desperate attempt at a secret marriage to thwart their parents.  But in a single fateful week their intricate scheming falls terribly apart.

Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned into a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist.  Rich with the sights and smells of medieval Italy, people with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it befoe – and with a killer twist at the end.

Time and Time AgainTime and Time Again by Ben Elton (ebook)

Ex-soldier Hugh Stanton learns from a Cambridge academic that time travel is possible and decides to return to June 1914 to prevent the First World War in this page-turning sci-fi thriller. In Time and Time Again, international best-selling author Ben Elton, takes readers on a thrilling journey through early 20th-Century Europe.

It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.  Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century? And, if so, could another single bullet save it?

Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (ebook)

Memphis, Tennessee, 1939: Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shanty boat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge, until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents. But they quickly realize the dark truth…

Aiken, South Carolina, present day: Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

We Were the Lucky OnesWe Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (ebook)

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working gruelling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

The Cursed WifeThe Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne (ebook)

Mary is content with her life as wife to Gabriel Thorne, a wealthy merchant in Elizabethan London. She loves her husband and her family, is a kind mistress to the household and is well-respected in the neighbourhood. She does her best to forget that as a small girl she was cursed for causing the death of a vagrant child, a curse that predicts that she will hang. She tells herself that she is safe.

But Mary’s whole life is based on a lie. She is not the woman her husband believes her to be, and when one rainy day she ventures to Cheapside, the past catches up with her and sets her on a path that leads her to the gibbet and the fulfilment of the curse.

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (ebook)

All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself – all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and wilful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I took part in the blog tour for Walk With Me, a book of street photography by Debra Schoenberger, and featured a guest post from Debra about ideas for creating a travel journal.

Tuesday – I shared my Top Ten Tuesday list of book quotations choosing to focus on books by John Buchan.  I also published my review of a cozy mystery, Brewing-Up Murder by Neila Young.

WednesdayWWW 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 my review of Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon as part of the blog tour.   Finally, I featured Kate Rigby’s Far Cry from the Turquoise Room.

Thursday – My Throwback Thursday post was a review of a title from my Classics Club list: Memento Mori by Muriel Spark.

Friday – I took part in the blog tour for historical mystery, Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil.

Saturday – I published my review of another book from my Classics Club list: The Bell by Iris Murdoch.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 34 out of 156 books read, 3 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 12 out of 50 books read, 1 more than last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 11 ARCs read and reviewed out of 25, 1 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 10 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last update
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 3 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 15 books out of 50 read, same as last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 6 out of 12 books read, same as last update
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 0 out of 6 books read, same as last week
  • Buchan of the Month – 2 out of 12 books read, same as last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Review: Entanglement by Katy Mahood
  • Review: The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers
  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing…Mr Standfast
  • Blog Tour/Guest Post: The Swan’s Road by Garth Petterson
  • Throwback Thursday: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

12 thoughts on “My Week in Books – 11th March ’18

  1. Ooh I might have to treat myself to a copy of The Pamela Hartshorne. I read one of her books a few years back and really loved it! I also really loved. TheThirteenth Tale when I read it. Enjoy your books Cathy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s early to say, as it’s only the fourth book I’ve read from the thirteen strong Walter Scott Prize long list, but I think it could turn out to be this year’s Days Without End. It’s powerful, raw and written in a distinctive style.

        Liked by 1 person

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