My Week in Books

 

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

WaltScott_Sugar MoneySugar Money by Jane Harris (ebook)

Martinique, 1765, and brothers, Emile and Lucien, are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas – and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste – he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’.

Manhattan BeachManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (ebook)

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life.

GraceGrace by Paul Lynch (ebook)

Early one October morning, Grace’s mother snatches her from sleep and brutally cuts off her hair, declaring, ‘You are the strong one now.’ With winter close at hand and Ireland already suffering, Grace is no longer safe at home. And so her mother outfits Grace in men’s clothing and casts her out. When her younger brother Colly follows after her, the two set off on a life-changing odyssey in the looming shadow of the Great Famine.

To survive, Grace will become a boy, a bandit, a penitent and finally, a woman. A meditation on love, life and destiny, Grace is an epic coming-of-age novel, and a poetic evocation of the Irish famine as it has never been written.

The Year of the SnakeThe Year of the Snake by M. J. Trow & Maryanne Coleman (eARC, NetGalley)

Sometimes, a snake is just a snake. And sometimes…

First-century Rome.  Senator Gaius Lucius Nerva is taken ill at a dinner party and dies a few days later. His heartbroken wife, Flavia, is told it was a natural death. Calidus, Nerva’s recently freed slave, suspects otherwise.  As he embarks upon the funeral ceremonies, Calidus becomes more and more convinced that his master was murdered and begins an investigation, seeking out everyone who had attended the dinner party.

His enquiries lead him to rub shoulders with the ‘great and good’ of Rome; senators, soldiers, even the ruthless and mercurial Emperor Nero. And his former lover, Julia Eusabia, who seems intent on rekindling their romance and luring him away from his wife and daughter.  Calidus’ quest is by no means easy or safe as he encounters the darkest and most dangerous people in Rome. But he knows he must keep searching for the person responsible, to bring justice to the master he had loved.

This racy historical whodunit brings to life the sights, smells and sounds of ancient Rome, with sharp humour and a Christie-style finale to boot.

A Gathering of GhostsA Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland (eARC, NetGalley)

The year is 1316 and high on the wilds of Dartmoor, hidden by the mist, stands the isolated Priory of St Mary, owned by the Sisters of the Knights of St John. People travel from far and wide in search of healing at the ancient holy well that lies beneath the chapel.

But the locals believe the well was theirs long before Christianity arrived and there are those who would do anything to reclaim their sacred spring… As plagues of frogs cascade from the well and the water turns to blood, is there witchcraft afoot? Or is the Old World fighting back at last?

ConnectednessConnectedness (Identity Detective #2) by Sandra Danby (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALWAYS HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00032]Sheriff and Priest by Nicky Moxey  (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Wimer could have become a monk. Instead, his decision to become a Chaplain – to make his way in the wider world of men – has put his soul in mortal danger.  In 12th century East Anglia, poor Saxon boys stay poor. It takes an exceptional one to win Henry II’s friendship, and to rise to the job of High Sheriff of all Norfolk and Suffolk. Falling foul of the stormy relationship between Henry and his Archbishop, he is excommunicated three times, twice by Thomas a’Becket, and once by the Pope.

He also falls in love with the King’s Ward, Ida. Before he plucks up the courage to do anything about it, the King takes her as his mistress, and Ida needs Wimer’s support to survive that dangerous liaison.  Although he is eventually reinstated in the Church, his problems with his religious superiors, and his love for Ida, will guarantee him a place in Hell, unless he can find land and resources to do something spectacular in the way of penance…

The Blood Road (Legionary #7) by Gordon Doherty (eARC, courtesy of the author)

381 AD: The Gothic War draws to a brutal climax, and the victor’s name will be written in blood…

The great struggle between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Gothic Horde rumbles into its fifth year. It seems that there can be no end to the conflict, for although the Goths are masters of the land, they cannot topple the last of the imperial cities. But heralds bring news that might change it all: Emperor Gratian readies to lead his Western legions into the fray, to turn matters on their head, to crush the horde and save the East!

The men of the XI Claudia legion long for their homeland’s salvation, but Tribunus Pavo knows these hopes drip with danger. For he and his soldiers are Gratian’s quarry as much as any Goth. The road ahead will be fraught with broken oaths, enemy blades… and tides of blood.  (Cover to be revealed)


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Tuesday – I joined the blog tour for A Woman’s Lot by Carolyn Hughes, the second in her Meonbridge Chronicle series set in a medieval Hampshire village.  I shared my review and an extract from the book.

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 a lovely little book, The Shady Side of Town: Reading’s Trees by Adrian Lawson and Geoff Sawers.

Thursday – I reviewed After the Party by Cressida Connolly.  Set just before and during the Second World War, it tells through the experiences of one family the little known story of those who opposed Britain’s involvement in the war.

Friday – I published my review of Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat, a fast-paced and dramatic historical novel set at the time of the French Revolution.  It was also time for another of my Fact in Fiction Friday features where I pick out interesting things I’ve learned through reading novels this week.

Sunday – I shared my review of Sugar Money by Jane Harris, one of the six books shortlisted for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2018.  The winner of the prize will be announced on 16th June.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 86 out of 156 books read, 4 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 15 out of 50 books read, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Gold) – 31 ARCs read and reviewed out of 50, 1 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 10 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last week
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 5 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 43 books out of 50 read, 3 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 7 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 1 out of 6 books read, same as last week
  • Buchan of the Month – 5 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • 20 Books of Summer Challenge – 2 out of 20 books read, 2 more than last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Review: Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick
  • Blog Tour/Review: Summer of Love by Caro Fraser
  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing….The Half-Hearted by John Buchan
  • Book Review: Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
  • Book Review: The Poison Bed by E. C. Fremantle
  • Blog Tour/Guest Post: The Reading Party by Fenella Gentleman