Two weeks holiday combined with bumper book post means I hope you are sitting comfortably….
Improvement by Joan Silber (hardcover, courtesy of Allen & Unwin and Readers First)
Reyna knows her relationship with Boyd isn’t perfect, yet she sees him through a three-month stint at Riker’s Island, their bond growing tighter. Kiki, now settled in the East Village after a youth that took her to Turkey and other far off places- and loves -around the world, admires her niece’s spirit but worries that motherhood to four-year old Oliver might complicate a difficult situation. Little does she know that Boyd is pulling Reyna into a smuggling scheme, across state lines, violating his probation. When Reyna takes a step back, her small act of resistance sets into motion a tapestry of events that affect the lives of loved ones and strangers around them.
A novel that examines conviction, connection, repayment, and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki’s beloved Turkish rugs, as colourful as the tattoos decorating Reyna’s body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us.
The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey (hardcover, courtesy of Atlantic Books and Readers First)
1950 – late summer season on Cape Cod. Michael, a ten-year-old boy, is spending the summer with Richie and his glamorous but troubled mother. Left to their own devices, the boys meet a couple living nearby – the artists Jo and Edward Hopper – and an unlikely friendship is forged.
She, volatile, passionate and often irrational, suffers bouts of obsessive sexual jealousy. He, withdrawn and unwell, depressed by his inability to work, becomes besotted by Richie’s frail and beautiful Aunt Katherine who has not long to live – an infatuation he shares with young Michael.
A novel of loneliness and regret, the legacy of World War II and the ever-changing concept of the American Dream.
Pre-order The Narrow Land from Amazon UK (link provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme)
Where the Hornbeam Grows: A Journey in Search of a Garden by Beth Lynch (eARC, courtesy of Orion and NetGalley)
What do you do when you find yourself living as a stranger?
When Beth Lynch moved to Switzerland, she quickly realised that the sheer will to connect with people would not guarantee a happy relocation. Out of place and lonely, Beth knows that she needs to get her hands dirty if she is to put down roots. And so she sets about making herself at home in the way she knows best – by tending a garden, growing things.
The search for a garden takes her across the country, through meadows and on mountain paths where familiar garden plants run wild, to the rugged hills of the Swiss Jura. In this remote and unfamiliar place of glow worms and dormice and singing toads she learns to garden in a new way, taking her cue from the natural world.
As she plants her paradise with hellebores and aquilegias, cornflowers and Japanese anemones, these cherished species forge green and deepening connections: to her new soil, to her old life in England, and to her deceased parents, whose Sussex garden continues to flourish in her heart.
Where the Hornbeam Grows is a memoir about carrying a garden inwardly through loss, dislocation and relocation, about finding a sense of wellbeing in a green place of your own, and about the limits of paradise in a peopled world. It is a powerful exploration by a dazzling new literary voice of how, in nurturing a corner of the natural world, we ourselves are nurtured.
Pre-order Where the Hornbeam Grows from Amazon UK
A Clean Canvas (The Lena Szarka Mysteries #2) by Elizabeth Mundy (ebook, courtesy of Constable and Rachel’s Random Resources)
Crime always leaves a stain…
Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner, dusts off her detective skills when a masterpiece is stolen from a gallery she cleans with her cousin Sarika. But when Sarika goes missing too, accusations start to fly.
Convinced her cousin is innocent, Lena sweeps her way through the secrets of the London art scene. With the evidence mounting against Sarika and the police on her trail, Lena needs to track down the missing painting if she is to clear her cousin.
Embroiling herself in the sketchy world of thwarted talents, unpaid debts and elegant fraudsters, Lena finds that there’s more to this gallery than meets the eye.
The Mathematical Bridge (Nighthawk #2) by Jim Kelly (hardcover, review copy courtesy of Allison & Busby)
Cambridge, 1940. It is the first winter of the war, and snow is falling. When an evacuee drowns in the river, his body swept away, Detective Inspector Eden Brooke sets out to investigate what seems to be a deliberate attack. The following night, a local electronics factory is attacked, and an Irish republican slogan is left at the scene. The IRA are campaigning to win freedom for Ulster, but why has Cambridge been chosen as a target? And when Brooke learns that the drowned boy was part of the close-knit local Irish Catholic community, he begins to question whether there may be a connection between the boy’s death and the attack at the factory. As more riddles come to light, can Brooke solve the mystery before a second attack claims a famous victim?
Killing State (A Michael North Thriller #1) by Judith O’Reilly (hardcover, review copy courtesy of Head of Zeus)
What if the person you’re ordered to kill is the woman you want to protect?
Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the British government order him to kill a good woman instead?
Rising political star Honor Jones, MP, has started asking dangerous questions about the men running her country. The trouble is, she doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he’s met her, neither does North.
Pre-order Killing State from Amazon UK
The Charmed Life of Alex Moore by Molly Flatt (paperback, Reading in Heels subscription box)
There are success stories – and there are true stories. How would you feel if everything in your life suddenly started to go…right?
Six months ago, Alex Moore was stuck in a dead-end job, feeling her potential quietly slip away. Then, seemingly overnight, she launched her dream start-up and became one of London’s fastest rising tech stars. At 31, her life has just begun. But Alex’s transformation isn’t easy for those around her. Her friends are struggling to accept her rapid success, her parents worry she’s burning out, and her fiancé is getting cold feet. Then weird things start to happen. Muggings, stalkers – even a wild claim that she murdered a stranger.
But when Alex visits the Orkney Islands to recharge, weird turns into WTF. Because there she discovers the world’s oldest secret – and it’s a secret that Alex’s stratospheric rise has royally messed up.
Full of heart and humour, The Charmed Life of Alex Moore by Molly Flatt is a very modern adventure with a most unexpected twist.
Sunwise by Helen Steadman (paperback, advance review copy courtesy of Impress Books)
When Jane’s lover, Tom, returns from the navy to find her unhappily married to his betrayer, Jane is caught in an impossible situation. Still reeling from the loss of her mother at the hands of the witch-finder John Sharpe, Jane has no choice but to continue her dangerous work as a healer while keeping her young daughter safe.
But, as Tom searches for a way for him and Jane to be together, the witch-finder is still at large. Filled with vengeance, John will stop at nothing in his quest to rid England of the scourge of witchcraft.
Inspired by true events, Sunwise tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.
Pre-order Sunwise from Amazon UK
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle (paperback, courtesy of Allen & Unwin and Readers First)
“We’ve been waiting for an hour.” That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.”
At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.
Pre-order The Dinner List from Amazon UK
The New Achilles by Christian Cameron (eARC, courtesy of Orion and NetGalley)
Meet the greatest Greek general you’ve never heard of: Philopoemen. In his day, a leader as skilled and as dangerous as Hannibal: a ferocious fighter, a superb general, and credited as the inventor of modern ‘special operations’. More importantly, he was a brilliant political leader.
He commanded Greek forces at the turn of the third century BC, when mighty Rome, fresh from the destruction of Carthage, and Imperial Macedon, the greatest power of the day, chose Greece as their battlefield. In a world of rival empires, slave-taking cartels, piracy, terrorism and failed states, will Philopoemen be able to hold anything together?
Pre-order The New Achilles Amazon UK
On What Cathy Read Next last week
Tuesday – This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Books I Loved with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads, a good opportunity to highlight some hidden gems.
Wednesday – WWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just read, what I’m currently reading and what I plan to read next…and have a good nose around to see what other bloggers are reading.
Friday – I joined the blog tour for The Horseman’s Song by Ben Pastor sharing my review of this prequel to the author’s historical crime series.
Saturday – I published my reviews of historical crime mystery, Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson and of a contemporary coming-of-age story set in Afghanistan, 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai.
As always, thanks to everyone who has liked, commented on or shared my blog posts on social media this week.
On What Cathy Read Next this week
- Book Review: Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
- Blog Tour/Book Review: The Blameless Dead by Gary Haynes
- Top Ten Tuesday: Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like to Visit
- Book Review: The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
- Waiting on Wednesday
- Throwback Thursday: Salute to Adventurers by John Buchan
- Blog Tour/Book Review: Poetic Justice by R. C. Bridgestock