My Week in Books – 19th September 2021


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of historical mystery The Wrecking Storm (Thomas Tallant #2) by Michael Ward as part of the blog tour. 

Tuesday I shared my review of Ghosts of the West (Drabble & Harris #3) by Alec Marsh as part of the blog tour. And this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Books With Numbers In Their Title.

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 to have a good nose around what others are reading. 

Thursday – I published my review of police procedural A Better Part of Valor (Valorie Dawes #3) by Gary Corbin.  

Friday – I reviewed Blasted Things by Lesley Glaister as part of the blog tour organised by Sandstone Press. 

Saturday – I published my review of the Booker Prize shortlisted The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed.

Sunday – I shared my review of A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson as part of the blog tour organised by Gallic Books.

As always, thanks to everyone who has liked, commented on or shared my blog posts on social media.

New arrivals

What you might call a bumper week!

The Mercies AudioThe Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (audiobook)

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, The Mercies is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization. 

Down A Dark RiverDown a Dark River (Inspector Corravan #1) by Karen Odden (eARC, Crooked Lane Books)

London, 1878. One April morning, a small boat bearing a young woman’s corpse floats down the murky waters of the Thames. When the victim is identified as Rose Albert, daughter of a prominent judge, the Scotland Yard director gives the case to Michael Corravan, one of the only Senior Inspectors remaining after a corruption scandal the previous autumn left the division in ruins. Reluctantly, Corravan abandons his ongoing case, a search for the missing wife of a shipping magnate, handing it over to his young colleague, Mr. Stiles.

An Irish former bare-knuckles boxer and dockworker from London’s seedy East End, Corravan has good street sense and an inspector’s knack for digging up clues. But he’s confounded when, a week later, a second woman is found dead in a rowboat, and then a third. The dead women seem to have no connection whatsoever. Meanwhile, Mr. Stiles makes an alarming discovery: the shipping magnate’s missing wife, Mrs. Beckford, may not have fled her house because she was insane, as her husband claims, and Mr. Beckford may not be the successful man of business that he appears to be.

Slowly, it becomes clear that the river murders and the case of Mrs. Beckford may be linked through some terrible act of injustice in the past – for which someone has vowed a brutal vengeance. Now, with the newspapers once again trumpeting the Yard’s failures, Corravan must dredge up the truth – before London devolves into a state of panic and before the killer claims another innocent victim. 

My secret sister_1 large copyMy Secret Sister by Lauren Westwood (eARC)

Two DNA tests, one big lie…

“As I speed off in the ambulance holding my daughter’s hand, I wonder how I could have been so stupid. I should have made the bargain, paid the price – anything to avoid being right here, right now. A voice whispers in my head that I can’t silence. This is all your fault. You killed her. It’s her voice, the one I hear in my nightmares. The woman who stole my memories, the woman who stole my life. And, this time, I know she’s right.”

How far would you go to save your child?

Claire is living every mother’s worst nightmare. Her daughter, Jess, has been diagnosed with a rare illness and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. With no match on the registry, Claire turns to a charismatic geneticist for help and embarks on a Genetic Journey to seek a familial match for her daughter.

On the other side of the country, Marianne suffers her eighth miscarriage. Her perfect life is rotting underneath, but she is determined to do whatever it takes to have a baby. When DNA test results reveal that Claire and Marianne are half-sisters, Claire must face the dark lies of the past and make impossible choices about the future. Is her secret sister the answer to her prayers, or will she cost her everything?

The Tale of the TailorThe Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones (eARC, Head of Zeus via NetGalley)

One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.

Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…

First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.

A Woman Made of SnowA Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford (eARC, Corvus)

Scotland, 1949: Caroline Gillan and her new husband Alasdair have moved back to Kelly Castle, his dilapidated family estate in the middle of nowhere. Stuck caring for their tiny baby, and trying to find her way with an opinionated mother-in-law, Caroline feels adrift, alone and unwelcome.

But when she is tasked with sorting out the family archives, Caroline discovers a century-old mystery that sparks her back to life. There is one Gillan bride who is completely unknown – no photos exist, no records have been kept – the only thing that is certain is that she had a legitimate child. Alasdair’s grandmother.

As Caroline uncovers a strange story that stretches as far as the Arctic circle, her desire to find the truth turns obsessive. And when a body is found in the grounds of the castle, her hunt becomes more than just a case of curiosity. What happened all those years ago? Who was the bride? And who is the body…?

The Gap in the CurtainThe Gap in the Curtain by John Buchan (Paperback, Handheld Press)

John Buchan (1875-1940), author of over 100 books including The Thirty-Nine Steps, was a stealth writer of supernatural and Weird fiction. From the beginning of his career to his last works, he brought supernatural elements into his narratives to test his characters and thrill his readers.

His 1932 novel The Gap in the Curtain was his last full-length work devoted to exploring a supernatural theme: if you were able to see one year into the future, what would you do with that foreknowledge? And what would it do to you? 

A Stranger From The StormA Stranger from the Storm by William Burton McCormick (eARC)

The year is 1900. The port city of Odessa on the Black Sea is being terrorized by a brutal killer called the Specter. With five people already dead, the murderer promises more.

One family, the Karadopoulinas, run a boarding house. Sisters Tasia and Eleni feel certain the killer is a scarred, shambling Londoner who took lodging with them one night during a thunderstorm. Furtive and threatening, Henry Humble, stalks Odessa’s labyrinth of interlocking courtyards and foggy docks at night, armed with weapons and skeleton keys. As the body count rises, so do the questions…

Who is the mysterious figure haunting the catacombs below the streets of Odessa? Why won’t Eleni’s police constable sweetheart investigate? Who will be the next to die?

Cold As Hell Short Run Cover AWCold As Hell by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates (eARC, Orenda Books)

Icelandic sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries and aren’t on speaking terms, but when their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to find her sister. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without trace.

As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is led into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.

Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, as she tries to track her sister’s movements, and begins to tail Björn – but she isn’t the only one watching…

The Girl from Bletchley ParkThe Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl (eARC)

1942. Three years into the war, Pam turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice – and Pam’s loyalty is pushed to its limits…

Present day. Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success. Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park. Why did her grandmother never speak of her time there? The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own…

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Book Extract: The Garfield Conspiracy by Owen Dwyer
  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies
  • WWW Wednesday
  • Book Review: Splinter on the Tide by Phillip Parotti 
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Improbable Adventures of Miss Emily Soldene by Helen Batten

7 thoughts on “My Week in Books – 19th September 2021

  1. Great week Cathy. I too have an eARC of “Down a Dark River” by Karen Odden. Also, you have showcased a book that sounds very appealing to me… “A Woman Made Of Snow”. I’ll have to investigate further.


      1. Very glad to hear that–am looking forward to it all the more now; I had some grading to do in the past week so fell very behind on reading but I think I will be able to catch up in the coming week. I have Emily Soldene and a Ruth Ozeki book which I’m hoping to catch up with and looking forward to as well.


  2. Hm… that McGurl book does not sound good to me, to be honest. Sounds like a romance novel using the backdrop of a very serious event in history (what my friend calls “Holocaust porn”). I loved Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code, and even with the little bits of romance there, it was much more about the war work and these women and solving a mystery than any romance that might have crept in along the way.


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