My Week in Books – 5th August ’18


MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

Smart MovesSmart Moves by Adrian Magson (paperback, review copy courtesy of The Dome Press)

International troubleshooter Jake Foreman loses his job, house and wife all in one day. And when an impulsive move lands him in even deeper water – the kind that could lose him his life – he decides it’s time to make some smart decisions.

The trouble is, knowing the right moves and making them is a whole different game. And Jake, who has been happily rubbing along things he always suspected were just a shade away from being dodgy, finds it all too easy to go with the flow. Now he’s got to start learning new tricks.

If he doesn’t, he could end up dead.

Pre-order from Amazon UK

The House We Called HomeThe House We Called Home by Jenny Oliver (proof copy, giveaway prize)

The house where Stella and her sister Amy grew up never changes – the red front door, the breath-taking view over the Cornish coast, her parents in their usual spots on the sofa. Except this summer, things feel a little different…

Stella’s father is nowhere to be seen, yet her mother – in suspiciously new Per Una jeans – seems curiously unfazed by his absence, and more eager to talk about her mysterious dog-walking buddy Mitch.

Stella’s sister Amy has returned home with a new boyfriend she can barely stand and a secret to hide, and Stella’s husband Jack has something he wants to get off his chest too. Even Frank Sinatra, the dog, has a guilty air about him.

This summer, change is in the air for the Whitethorns…

WreckerWrecker by Noel O’Reilly (proof copy, giveaway prize)

Mary Blight, stuck in a remote Cornish fishing village where ships are often wrecked on the rugged coast, longs for a life beyond Porthmorvoren. Picking among the corpses of the most recent washed-up dead, she spots a fine pair of leather boots on a dead noblewoman and unlaces them for herself. Only once she has removed the boots does she notice the woman’s earlobes are missing too. And by then it is too late. Village scold Aunt Madgie has seen her, bending over the corpse, blood on her lips.

The horror of the bitten noblewoman makes the national press. That the villagers are such savages to bite jewellery off a corpse their hands too cold to unfasten it causes a national outcry. The Porthmorvoren Cannibal is the stuff of nightmares. And still Aunt Madgie watches Mary, knowingly, waiting for her moment.

When Mary rescues a man who is washed ashore, lashed to a barrel, she cares for him in her cottage, despite her neighbours’ disapproval. Mary already has a bad name among those in the village, a situation not helped by her recent dalliance with the betrothed of her rival, Loveday Skewes.

The rescued man is Gideon Stone, a Methodist minister. He decides to build a chapel in the village over the months to come, and appoints Mary as Sunday school teacher. Her enemies are outraged, having assumed Loveday Swewes would be given this position. Meanwhile, Mary sees a notice announcing that the bereaved sugar baron is offering a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who stole his wife’s earrings. And soon, her enemies in the village are plotting against her and Mary must gamble everything.

TBR#7SugarintheBloodSugar in the Blood by Andrea Stuart (hardcover)

In the late 1630s, lured by the promise of the New World, Andrea Stuart’s earliest known maternal ancestor, George Ashby, set sail from England to settle in Barbados. He fell into the life of a sugar plantation owner by mere chance, but by the time he harvested his first crop, a revolution was fully under way: the farming of sugar cane, and the swiftly increasing demands for sugar worldwide, would not only lift George Ashby from abject poverty and shape the lives of his descendants, but it would also bind together ambitious white entrepreneurs and enslaved black workers in a strangling embrace. Stuart uses her own family story—from the seventeenth century through the present—as the pivot for this epic tale of migration, settlement, survival, slavery and the making of the Americas.

As it grew, the sugar trade enriched Europe as never before, financing the Industrial Revolution and fuelling the Enlightenment. And, as well, it became the basis of many economies in South America, played an important part in the evolution of the United States as a world power and transformed the Caribbean into an archipelago of riches. But this sweet and hugely profitable trade – “white gold,” as it was known- had profoundly less palatable consequences in its precipitation of the enslavement of Africans to work the fields on the islands and, ultimately, throughout the American continents.

Interspersing the tectonic shifts of colonial history with her family’s experience, Stuart explores the interconnected themes of settlement, sugar and slavery with extraordinary subtlety and sensitivity. In examining how these forces shaped her own family–its genealogy, intimate relationships, circumstances of birth, varying hues of skin–she illuminates how her family, among millions of others like it, in turn transformed the society in which they lived, and how that interchange continues to this day. Shifting between personal and global history, Stuart gives us a deepened understanding of the connections between continents, between black and white, between men and women, between the free and the enslaved. It is a story brought to life with riveting and unparalleled immediacy, a story of fundamental importance to the making of our world.

The Painter of SoulsThe Painter of Souls by Philip Kazan (paperback)

Beauty can be a gift…or a wicked temptation…

So it is for Filippo Lippi, growing up in Renaissance Florence. He has a talent – not only can he see the beauty in everything, he can capture it, paint it. But while beauty can seduce you, and art can transport you – it cannot always feed you or protect you.

To survive, Filippo di Tommaso Lippi, street urchin, forger, drinker, seducer of nuns must become Fra Fra Filippo Lippi – Carmelite friar, man of God. Yet at the same time he is Lippo Lippi, creator of some the most radiantly beautiful paintings, Botticelli’s teacher, Medici’s confidante.

So who is he really – lover, believer, father, teacher, artist? Which man? Which life? Is anything true except the paintings?

An extraordinary journey of passion, art and intrigue, The Painter of Souls takes us to a time and place in Italy’s history where desire reigns and salvation is found in the strangest of places.

AppetiteAppetite by Philip Kazan (paperback)

In Florence, everyone has a passion. With 60,000 souls inside the city, crammed into a cobweb of clattering streets, countless alleys, towers, workshops, tanneries, cloisters, churches and burial grounds, they live their lives in the narrow world between the walls. Nino Latini knows that if you want to survive without losing yourself completely, then you’ve got to have a passion.

But Nino’s greatest gift will be his greatest curse. Nino can taste things that other people cannot. Every flavour, every ingredient comes alive for him as vividly as a painting and he puts his artistry to increasingly extravagant use.

In an age of gluttony and conspicuous consumption, his unique talent leads him into danger. His desire for the beautiful Tessina Delmazza and his longing to create the perfect feast could prove deadly. Nino must flee Florence to save his life and if he ever wants to see his beloved again, he must entrust himself entirely to the tender mercies of fortune.

The Glass DiplomatThe Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher (eARC, courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources)

In 1973 Chile, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Eleven years later, Abrego is the Chilean Ambassador to London and Charlie is reunited with the Abrego sisters. Despite his love for them, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from being used as a political pawn by her father.  His connection to the family is complicated by the growing evidence that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by love and politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots in Santiago, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

Pre-order from Amazon UK:

Land of the LivingLand of the Living by Georgina Harding (eARC, NetGalley)

Every time the dream came it was different and yet he felt that he had dreamt it exactly that way before. The trees, there were always the trees, and the mist and the shadows and the running. Charlie’s experiences at the Battle of Kohima and the months he spent lost in the remote jungles of Northern India are now history. Home and settled on a farm in Norfolk with his wife Claire, he is one of the lucky survivors. The soil promises healthy crops and Claire is ready for a family. But a chasm exists between them. Memories flood Charlie’s mind; at night, on rain-slicked roads and misty mornings in the fields, the past can feel more real than the present. What should be said and what left unsaid? Is it possible to find connection and forge a new life in the wake of unfathomable horror?

Pre-order from Amazon UK

The Way of All FleshThe Way of All FleshThe Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry (eARC, NetGalley)

Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder.

Young women are being discovered dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. In the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson.

Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, who recognises trouble when she sees it and takes an immediate dislike to him. She has all of his intelligence but none of his privileges, in particular his medical education.

With each having their own motive to look deeper into these deaths, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.

Pre-order from Amazon UK

The Angel's MarkThe Angel’s Mark by S. W. Perry (eARC, NetGalley)

LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a spirited tavern keeper. But when their inquiries lead them to the fearsome attentions of the powerful Robert Cecil, Nicholas is forced into playing to Cecil’s agenda, and becoming a spy…

As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

Pre-order from Amazon UK


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Tuesday – I published my review of The Watcher by the Threshold, my Buchan of the Month for July.

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 shared my five favourite books I read in July.

Thursday – My Throwback Thursday review was of The Last Train by Michael Pronko, a crime thriller set in Tokyo.

Saturday – I participated in the Six Degrees of Separation meme forging a bookish chain from Ian McEwan’s Atonement to Colin Dexter’s The Wench is Dead.  I also shared my publication day review of the latest collection of short stories by Gita V. Reddy, Happiness is a Collage.

Sunday – I co-hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Promise by Michelle Vernal, publishing my review of this heart-warming dual-time story set partly in the Isle of Wight.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 115 out of 156 books read, 3 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 17 out of 50 books read, 1 more than last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Gold) – 40 ARCs read and reviewed out of 50, same as last week
  • From Page to Screen– 11 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
  • 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 – 7 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last week
  • 20 Books of Summer Challenge –9 out of 20 books read, 1 more than last week
  • NEW ARC August – 1 book read

Completed challenges

  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 50 books read

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Romanov Empress by C. W. Gortner
  • Book Review: The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola
  • Book Review: The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll
  • Blog Tour/Q&A: The Girl on the Doorstep by Lindsey Hutchinson
  • Book Review: The Assassin of Verona by Benet Brandreth
  • Book Review: In the Blood by Ruth Mancini
  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing…Huntingtower by John Buchan

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