My Week in Books – 31st March ‘19


New arrivals

Birdie & JudeBirdie & Jude by Phyllis H. Moore (ebook, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources)

A serendipitous meeting on a beach in Galveston before a hurricane forces two strangers to take shelter with each other. Birdie, an older woman, and Jude, a young woman and lone survivor of a fatal accident are destined to spend time together during a strengthening storm. Their lives couldn’t be any different. However, they recognize something in the other that forges a friendship between them.

As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their past. Birdie is a product of the ’60’s, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments hovering over her present life. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at their krewe’s Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphans and separated into different homes.

Their backgrounds couldn’t have been more different, but there is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn’t lived an authentic life, while Jude faces an uncomfortable truth about her own life. It’s a character driven story set on Galveston Island with memories of the protests and inequality plaguing the 1960’s and the secrets many have protected to fit into society.

Storm of SteelStorm of Steel (Bernicia Chronicles #6) by Matthew Harffy (eARC, courtesy of Aria and NetGalley)

Heading south to lands he once considered his home, Beobrand is plunged into a dark world of piracy and slavery when an old friend enlists his help to recover a kidnapped girl.

Embarking onto the wind-tossed seas, Beobrand pursues his quarry with single-minded tenacity. But the Whale Road is never calm and his journey is beset with storms, betrayal and violence.

As the winds of his wyrd blow him ever further from what he knows, will Beobrand find victory on his quest or has his luck finally abandoned him?

Pre-order Storm of Steel from Amazon UK (link provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme)

20190328_133810Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan (hardcover, advance review copy courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing)

John Buchan’s name is known across the world for The Thirty-Nine Steps. In the past one hundred years the classic thriller has never been out of print and has inspired numerous adaptations for film, television, radio and stage, beginning with the celebrated version by Alfred Hitchcock.

Yet there was vastly more to ‘JB’. He wrote more than a hundred books, fiction and non-fiction and about a thousand articles for newspapers and magazines. He was a scholar, antiquarian, barrister, colonial administrator, journal editor, literary critic, publisher, war correspondent, director of wartime propaganda, member of parliament and imperial proconsul – given a state funeral when he died, a deeply admired and loved Governor-General of Canada.

His teenage years in Glasgow’s Gorbals, where his father was the Free Church minister, contributed to his ease with shepherds and ambassadors, fur-trappers and prime ministers. His improbable marriage to a member of the aristocratic Grosvenor family means that this account of his life contains, at its heart, an enduring love story.

Ursula Buchan, his granddaughter, has drawn on recently discovered family documents to write this comprehensive and illuminating biography. With perception, style, wit, and a penetratingly clear eye, she brings vividly to life this remarkable man and his times.

Pre-order Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan from Amazon UK (link provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme)

FledFled by Meg Keneally (paperback, advance review copy courtesy of Zaffre and Readers First)

She will do anything for freedom, but at what cost?

Jenny Trelawney is no ordinary thief. Forced by poverty to live in the forest, she becomes a successful highway-woman – until her luck runs out.

Transported to Britain’s furthest colony, Jenny must tackle new challenges and growing responsibilities. And when famine hits the new colony, Jenny becomes convinced that those she most cares about will not survive. She becomes the leader in a grand plot of escape, but is survival any more certain in a small open boat on an unknown ocean?

Meg Keneally’s debut solo novel is an epic historical adventure based on the extraordinary life of convict Mary Bryant.

Pre-order Fled from Amazon UK (link provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme)

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of Sugar in the Blood by Andrea Stuart.

Tuesday –For the Top Ten Tuesday topic (Audio Freebie), I shared my Confessions of an Audiobook Newbie.

WednesdayWWW 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.

Thursday – I published my review of The Path of the King by John Buchan, my Buchan of the Month for March.

Saturday – I hosted a stop on the blog tour for historical crime novel, The American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear, the fifteenth book in the Maisie Dobbs series.  I also published my review of The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo.

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

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up A Book
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Book Review: Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
  • Book Review: Josephine’s Daughter (The Golden City #5) by A.B. Michaels
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: Sunwise by Helen Steadman
  • Event Review: Ursula Buchan, author of Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps at Oxford Literary Festival
  • Book Review: The Dollmaker by Nina Allan

10 Things I Loved About The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night TigerAbout the Book

They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk among us…

In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.

Format: Hardcover, ebook (480 pp.)    Publisher: Quercus
Published: 12th February 2019     Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Night Tiger on Goodreads

10 Things I Loved About The Night Tiger

The setting.  The book vividly conjures up the culture of Malaya in the 1930s through descriptions of food, clothing and customs and a social structure divided between the colonial and indigenous populations.

Characters you love to hate.  For me  (and I suspect other readers) this chiefly means Lydia (memorably described as having hair like a sponge cake) who starts out as plain annoying and clingy but develops into something quite different.

Characters you love to love.  I defy any reader not to fall in love with houseboy, Ren, with his honest, trusting character and his devotion to his previous master and to carrying out his deathbed promise.  However, caring about Ren entails a constant state of worry as he gets into one scrape after another, endangering both himself and possibly others.

Characters you’re just not sure about. For me, this was chiefly William, the ‘dissolute British doctor’ mentioned in the blurb.  He’s a gifted surgeon but also a man with secrets in his past that he fears being revealed and some dubious morals.  On the credit side, he takes Ren under his wing and recognises the boy’s talent so perhaps he can’t be all bad?  He certainly seems to have luck (or fate) on his side at times.

The theme of twins.  As well as actual twins, there are frequent references to similarities between characters, including in appearance.  This will turn out to be pivotal to one particular plot strand.

The five Confucian virtues. This was something completely new to me but I loved the way the author incorporated the concept into the story, including through the use of the names of characters. I love when a book teaches me something new.

The imagery.  I promise you that, having read the book, you will never think about a railway station in quite the same way again.

The Easter egg.  For those unfamiliar with the meaning (outside of the chocolate-y treat) it refers to an intentional inside joke, in this case a reference to the title of the author’s previous book.   

The gorgeous cover.  As well as being beautiful, it has a dreamlike quality that captures the spirit of the book with the abundant, encroaching jungle hiding tigers and who knows what else.  I think it also encapsulates the beautiful, lush writing, especially in the recurring dream sequences, and the elements of mysticism and magic that run alongside the main story.

The buddy read organised by Quercus.  It was great to read the book, section by section,  alongside other readers sharing thoughts on what we’d read so far and ideas on what we thought might happen next (usually wrong).  The involvement of the author – offering insights on the book, her writing process and alternative plot ideas she’d considered, plus answering questions from readers – was an additional delight.  Check out the hashtag #NightTigerTogether on Twitter to get a flavour of the discussion, although be aware there will be spoilers.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of publishers, Quercus, and NetGalley.

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In three words: Magical, multi-layered, mysterious

Try something similar…Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam (read my review here)

Yangsze ChooAbout the Author

Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant before writing her first novel. Yangsze eats and reads too much, and often does both at the same time. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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