My Week in Books – 25th March ’18


New arrivals  

The AntipodeansThe Antipodeans by Greg McGee (ebook, review copy courtesy of Lightning Books)

2014: Clare and her father travel to Venice from New Zealand. She is fleeing a broken marriage, he is in failing health and wants to return one last time to the place where, as a young man, he spent happy years as a rugby player and coach. While exploring Venice, Clare discovers there is more to her father’s motives for returning than she realised and time may be running out for him to put old demons to rest.

1942: Joe and Harry, two Kiwi POWs in Italy, manage to escape their captors, largely due to the help of a sympathetic Italian family who shelter them on their farm. Soon they are fighting alongside the partisans in the mountains, but both men have formed a bond with Donatella, the daughter of the family, a bond that will have dramatic repercussions decades later.

The Antipodeans is a novel of epic proportions where families from opposite ends of the earth discover a legacy of love and blood and betrayal.

Grace After HenryGrace After Henry by Eithne Shortall (ebook, review copy courtesy of Corvus)

Grace sees her boyfriend Henry everywhere. In the supermarket, on the street, at the graveyard.

Only Henry is dead. He died two months earlier, leaving a huge hole in Grace’s life and in her heart. But then Henry turns up to fix the boiler one evening, and Grace can’t decide if she’s hallucinating or has suddenly developed psychic powers. Grace isn’t going mad – the man in front of her is not Henry at all, but someone else who looks uncannily like him. The hole in Grace’s heart grows ever larger.

Grace becomes captivated by this stranger, Andy – to her, he is Henry, and yet he is not. Reminded of everything she once had, can Grace recreate that lost love with Andy, resurrecting Henry in the process, or does loving Andy mean letting go of Henry?

The Magpie TreeThe Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield (ARC courtesy of Allison and Busby)

Jamaica Inn, 1844: the talk is of witches. A boy has vanished in the woods of Trethevy on the North Cornish coast, and a reward is offered for his return. Shilly has had enough of such dark doings, but her new companion, the woman who calls herself Anna Drake, insists they investigate. Anna wants to open a detective agency, and the reward would fund it. They soon learn of a mysterious pair of strangers who have likely taken the boy, and of Saint Nectan who, legend has it, kept safe the people of the woods. As Shilly and Anna seek the missing child, the case takes another turn – murder. Something is stirring in the woods and old sins have come home to roost.

The Great DarknessThe Great Darkness by Jim Kelly ((ARC courtesy of Allison and Busby)

1939, Cambridge: The opening weeks of the Second World War, and the first blackout – The Great Darkness – covers southern England, enveloping the city. Detective Inspector Eden Brooke, a wounded hero of the Great War, takes his nightly dip in the cool waters of the Cam. Daylight reveals a corpse on the riverside, the body torn apart by some unspeakable force. Brooke investigates, calling on the expertise and inspiration of a faithful group of fellow ‘nighthawks’ across the city, all condemned, like the detective, to a life lived away from the light. Within hours The Great Darkness has claimed a second victim. War, it seems, has many victims, but what links these crimes of the night?

WaltScott_The Horseman

The Horseman by Tim Pears (ebook)

Somerset, 1911. The forces of war are building across Europe, but this pocket of England, where the rhythms of lives are dictated by the seasons and the land, remains untouched. Albert Sercombe is a farmer on Lord Prideaux’s estate and his eldest son, Sid, is underkeeper to the head gamekeeper. His son, Leo, a talented rider, grows up alongside the master’s spirited daughter, Charlotte – a girl who shoots and rides, much to the surprise of the locals. In beautiful, pastoral writing, The Horseman tells the story of a family, a community, and the landscape they come from.

The Horseman is a return to the world invoked in Pears’ first award-winning, extravagantly praised novel, In the Place of Fallen Leaves. It is the first book of a trilogy that will follow Leo away from the estate and into the First World War and beyond. Exquisitely, tenderly written, this is immersive, transporting historical fiction at its finest.

WaltScott_The Bedlam StacksThe Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (ebook)

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.

On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family’s ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.

There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually, he realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.

Her Hidden LifeHer Hidden Life by V. S. Alexander (paperback, review copy courtesy of Avon)

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be.  But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Führer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle.

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike either of them have ever known…

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I took part in the blog tour for London Spies by S. J. Slagle, featuring a fascinating guest post from the author about some amazing women who worked in military intelligence in World War Two.  I also published my review of (and a prediction about) The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers, one of the books long-listed for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Tuesday – For Top Ten Tuesday, I shared a list of ten books on my Spring TBR.  I was also pleased to welcome William L. Myers, Jr. to What Cathy Read Next to talk about his latest legal thriller, An Engineered Injustice.

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.   Great for blog hopping as well! I also took part in the blog tour for The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou, publishing my review of this fascinating historical novel set in 1950s Cyprus and London.

Thursday – I published my review of Maiden’s Chance by Carolyn Hughes, an exclusive novella for subscribers to her newsletter.  It’s a prequel to her novel set in a 14th century Hampshire village recovering from the impact of the ‘Great Mortality’, Fortune’s Wheel.

Friday – I shared my review of the beautifully written From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan as part of the blog tour.

Saturday – I published my review of the soon-to-be-published Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce, a charming, funny novel set in World War Two London but which doesn’t sugar-coat the experiences of those who lived through the blitz.  I also provided an update on my progress with the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 42 out of 156 books read, 3 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 13 out of 50 books read, 1 more than last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 13 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 – 4 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 19 books out of 50 read, 1 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 8 out of 12 books read, 2 more than last week
  • 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: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Buchan of the Month: Mr. Standfast by John Buchan
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set in Another Country
  • Review: Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee
  • Review: Friends and Traitors by John Lawton
  • Throwback Thursday: Tightrope by Simon Mawer
  • Review: The Pharmacist’s Wife by Vanessa Tait
  • Review: Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam
  • Blog Tour/Review: We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard
  • Excerpt: The Antipodeans by Greg McGee

How was your week in books?  Literary sensation or well-thumbed waiting room fodder?

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