Down the TBR Hole #5

This meme was created by Lia at Lost in a Story as a way to tackle the gargantuan To-Read shelves a lot of us have on Goodreads. Like other people, I’ve long ago forgotten what prompted me to add some of the books I have shelved. This meme is the perfect excuse to start taking back control…

The rules are simple:

  1. Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Repeat every week until the entire list has been filtered (hmm, quite a few weeks then!)

This week’s ten who need to demonstrate their worth are:

TBR#5TheSpyGameThe Spy Game by Georgina Harding (added 11th May 2013)

On a freezing January morning in 1961, eight-year-old Anna’s mother disappears into the fog. A kiss that barely touches Anna’s cheek, a rumble of exhaust and a blurred wave through an icy windshield, and her mother is gone. Looking back, Anna will wish that she could have paid more attention to the facts of that day. The adult world shrouds the loss in silence, tidies the issue of death away along with the things that her mother left behind. And her memories will drift and settle like the fog that covered the car.

That same morning a spy case breaks in the news–the case of the Krogers, apparently ordinary people who were not who they said they were; people who had disappeared in one place and reappeared in another with other identities, leading other lives. Obsessed by stories of the cold war and of the Second World War, which is still a fresh and painful memory for the adults around them, Anna’s brother, Peter, begins to construct a theory that their mother, a refugee from eastern Germany, was a spy working undercover, and might even still be alive. As life returns to normal, Anna struggles to sort between fact and fantasy. Did her mother have a secret life? And how does anyone know who a person was once she is dead?

Verdict: Keep – This sounds a lot like Restless by William Boyd which I really enjoyed although the reviews are not overwhelmingly positive. However, I’ll take a chance.

TBR#5TheSolitudeofThomasCaveThe Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding (added 11th May 2013

In 1616, as the last warm days dwindle in the north Atlantic, the men on an English whaling ship prepare to head back toward home. But there is one exception among them: the quiet, headstrong Thomas Cave. For Cave has bet the rest of the crew that he can spend a winter on this Arctic island. Alone.

His shipmates sail away, the days shorten, and the cold weather moves in. Thomas Cave faces months of darkness, ice, and blizzards. He has nothing to his name except his rations, shelter, and a journal—a record in case he doesn’t survive to tell his story. But nothing so threatens the willful sailor as his own mind: he is haunted by the remembrances of another life and a lost love. From his post at the edge of the known world, Cave sees his own past, and begins to reflect on man’s relationship with God and the wilderness.

Verdict: Go – A bit too early to commit to another book by the same author until I’ve read the first one (see above).

TBR#5JackMaggsJack Maggs by Peter Carey (added 11th May 2013)

The year is 1837 and a stranger is prowling London. He is Jack Maggs, an illegal returnee from the prison island of Australia. He has the demeanor of a savage and the skills of a hardened criminal, and he is risking his life on seeking vengeance and reconciliation.   Installing himself within the household of the genteel grocer Percy Buckle, Maggs soon attracts the attention of a cross section of London society. Saucy Mercy Larkin wants him for a mate. The writer Tobias Oates wants to possess his soul through hypnosis. But Maggs is obsessed with a plan of his own. And as all the various schemes converge, Maggs rises into the center, a dark looming figure, at once frightening, mysterious, and compelling.

Verdict: Keep – I love Great Expectations so the idea of a reimagining of one of its characters really engages my interest.

TBR#5TheUndergroundManThe Underground Man by Mick Jackson (added 11th May 2013)

A humorous portrait of the fifth Duke of Portland – a wealthy, eccentric nineteenth-century nobleman who constructed a vast network of underground tunnels from which he could escape to the world outside.

Verdict: Go – This is one of those items on my To-Read shelf that I have no recollection adding or even why I added it.

TBR#5TheSeanceThe Séance by John Harwood (added 24th May 2013)

Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside, has a sinister reputation. Once, a family disappeared there. And now Constance Langton has inherited this dark place as well as the mysteries surrounding it. Having grown up in a house marked by the death of her sister, Constance is no stranger to mystery, secrets, and the dark magic around us. Her father was distant. Her mother was in perpetual mourning for her lost child. In a desperate attempt to coax her mother back to health, Constance took her to a seance hoping she would find supernatural comfort. But tragic consequences followed, leaving her alone in the world– alone with Wraxford Hall. Saddled with this questionable bequest, she must find the truth at the heart of all these disappearances, apparitions, betrayal, blackmail, and villainy, even if it costs her life.

Verdict: Keep – I’m not a fan of horror (I’m a scaredy-pants) but this sounds like it’s more Gothic mystery than straight-up gore fest and it has a Victorian setting so I think I’ll take a chance.

TBR#5MoralityPlayMorality Play by Barry Unsworth (added 27th May 2013)

The time is the fourteenth century. The place is a small town in rural England, and the setting a snow-laden winter. A small troupe of actors accompanied by Nicholas Barber, a young renegade priest, prepare to play the drama of their lives. Breaking the longstanding tradition of only performing religious plays, the group’s leader, Martin, wants them to enact the murder that is foremost in the townspeople’s minds. A young boy has been found dead, and a mute-and-deaf girl has been arrested and stands to be hanged for the murder. As members of the troupe delve deeper into the circumstances of the murder, they find themselves entering a political and class feud that may undo them.

Verdict: Keep – When I saw this title on the list I thought immediately, OK this is one I can probably dump. Then I looked at the cover and read the synopsis and, uh oh, it’s got to stay…

TBR#5TheUntouchableThe Untouchable by John Banville (added 28th May 2013)

One of the most dazzling and adventurous writers now working in English takes on the enigma of the Cambridge spies in a novel of exquisite menace, biting social comedy, and vertiginous moral complexity. The narrator is the elderly Victor Maskell, formerly of British intelligence, for many years art expert to the Queen. Now he has been unmasked as a Russian agent and subjected to a disgrace that is almost a kind of death. But at whose instigation? As Maskell retraces his tortuous path from his recruitment at Cambridge to the airless upper regions of the establishment, we discover a figure of manifold doubleness: Irishman and Englishman; husband, father, and lover of men; betrayer and dupe. Beautifully written, filled with convincing fictional portraits of Maskell’s co-conspirators, and vibrant with the mysteries of loyalty and identity, The Untouchable places John Banville in the select company of both Conrad and le Carre.

Verdict: Keep – Cambridge spies (tick), ‘beautifully written’ (tick), compared to Conrad and le Carre (tick). Say no more, it stays…

TBR#5IslandofBonesIsland of Bones (Crowther and Westerman #3) by Imogen Robertson (added 5th June 2013)

Cumbria, 1783. A broken heritage; a secret history… The tomb of the first Earl of Greta should have lain undisturbed on its island of bones for three hundred years. When idle curiosity opens the stone lid, however, inside is one body too many. Gabriel Crowther’s family bought the Gretas’ land long ago, and has suffered its own bloody history. His brother was hanged for murdering their father, the Baron of Keswick, and Crowther has chosen comfortable seclusion and anonymity over estate and title for thirty years. But the call of the mystery brings him home at last. Travelling with forthright Mrs Harriet Westerman, who is escaping her own tragedy, Crowther finds a little town caught between new horrors and old, where ancient ways challenge modern justice. And against the wild and beautiful backdrop of fells and water, Crowther discovers that his past will not stay buried.

Verdict: Keep – I’m a sucker for a historical mystery and I’ve read the first two in this series and enjoyed them so I’m going to let this one stay for the time being.

TBR#5CircleofShadowsCircle of Shadows (Crowther and Westerman #4) by Imogen Robertson (added 5th June 2013)

Shrove Tuesday, 1784. While the nobility dance at a masked ball, beautiful Lady Martesen is murdered. Daniel Clode is found by her body, his wrists slit and his memories nightmarish. What has he done? Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther race to the Duchy of Maulberg to save Daniel from the executioner’s axe. There they find a capricious Duke on the point of marriage, a court consumed by luxury and intrigue, and a bitter enemy from the past. After another cruel death, they must discover the truth, no matter how horrific it is. Does the answer lie with the alchemist seeking the elixir of life? With the automata makers in the Duke’s fake rural idyll? Or in the poisonous lies oozing around the court as the elite strive for power?

Verdict: Go – Logic would say I keep this one as it’s no.4 in the series and I’ve just decided to keep no.3 (see above).  But I’m itching to remove something in this week’s cull and I can always add it back (and no.5 to complete the series) once I’ve read no.3.

TBR#5TheYearoftheFloodThe Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) by Margaret Atwood (added 12th June 2013)

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners – a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life – has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend, Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .

Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .

Verdict: Keep – Easy decision. Atwood is one of my literary heroines and this is the companion (you can’t really call it a sequel) to Oryx and Crake which I enjoyed. Reading Atwood is rarely easy but she takes you on such mad, wonderful journeys…

The Result: 7 kept, 3 dumped – not as good as last week. I can’t believe I’m still only considering books that I added in 2013, a whole four years ago! This could be the work of a lifetime, especially if I’m as reluctant to dump as I’ve been this week and [whisper] I keep adding new ones to my To-Read shelf.

Anyway, do you agree with my choices? Have I dumped any books you would have kept or vice versa?

Book Blitz #Giveaway Fallen Star by Allison Morse

FallenStarBlitzBanner

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Book Blitz for Fallen Star by Allison Morse, a murder mystery with a touch of the Gothic set in the glamorous world of Hollywood.

WinAnd there’s a giveaway (INTL) with a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Just think of all the books you could buy with that! To enter, click on the link below.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251231960/

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FallenStarCoverAbout the Book

Who killed 1940s screen goddess Gloria Reardon? Her unsolved murder hypnotized the public with its scandalous details and shocked two generations.

Avid feminist and aspiring filmmaker, Kate Bloom discovers long lost footage that holds the key to who murdered her grandmother. Legendary movie star, Gloria Reardon, may be dead, but friends and lovers from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday are still very much on the scene, and it seems everyone has something to gain or lose from Kate’s discovery. Enlisting the youthful and brash film restorer Dylan Nichols as her closest ally, Kate becomes haunted by Gloria’s glittering past. Caught between glamorous Old Hollywood and the gritty, exciting New Hollywood of the 1970s, Kate is determined to find out what really happened to her grandmother and in the process becomes the killer’s new target.​

Praise for Fallen Star:

FallenStarGraphic

Format: ebook Publisher: Wild Rose Press Pages: 315
Publication: 21 Sep2016 Genre: Adult, Mystery

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com ǀ Barnes & Noble ǀ iBooks
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Fallen Star on Goodreads

Fallen Star_FB Cover Photo

AllisonMorseAbout the Author

Allison Morse grew up in a family of actors in Los Angeles; before the age of five she started acting classes, which she adored. She continued in the family business until her early twenties when her curious spirit led her to consider other interests and professions, like counselling and the law. After receiving her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, Allison went on to graduate from Phillips Graduate Institute with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy and U.C. Hastings College of the Law with a J.D.

Although she loved learning from each of her varied careers one of her favourite jobs was working for the now closed Dutton’s, a wonderful, musty new, used and rare bookstore in North Hollywood with deep roots in Southern California’s literary community. Whatever she was doing, books and story-telling ruled her imagination. Allison always knew that for her, writing is as essential as breathing. But as she pursued her professional life, this great love was consigned to private journals that she filled with musings and story ideas. Ten years ago that changed and she decided to get serious about being a writer.

While continuing to work full time as a lawyer, she kept to a strict writing schedule, took writing classes at UCLA Extension. She joined the Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Now Allison has completed two novels: a romance entitled The Sweetheart Deal and Fallen Star, a Hollywood gothic.

Allison lives with her husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.

Connect with Allison

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Throwback Thursday: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

ThrowbackThursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago. If you decide to take part, please link back to It’s Book Talk.

This week I’m revisiting a review of a book I read earlier this year as part of my From Page to Screen ChallengeThe Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman. You can read my comparison of the book and the film here.


oceansAbout the Book

The year is 1926. After four harrowing years on the Western Front, young Tom Sherbourne takes up the post of lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. In the small coastal town on his way to Janus, Tom meets the headstrong, vibrant Isabel. They fall in love, and on his first shore leave they marry, then return to Janus together—both eager to begin their life, cocooned from the rest of the world with just each other, the gulls, and the stars for company. Years later, after two miscarriages and one still birth, Isabel’s grief is all consuming. But one fateful, April morning she hears the sound of cries carried in on the wind: a small boat has washed ashore, its occupants a dead man and a squalling baby girl. Tom wants to report the boat immediately, but Isabel resists, pleading with him to put it off for just one day. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim the girl as their own and name her Lucy—a devastating, resounding choice that forever changes two worlds.

Format: ebook Publisher: Scribner Pages: 356
Publication: 31st July 2012 Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

 Find The Light Between Oceans on Goodreads

My Review

I found the story of Tom and Isabel emotionally engaging, even harrowing at times, as their longing to have a child is tragically denied them. The dilemma for the author is to make the reader understand and empathise with their decision to claim the rescued baby as their own. Isabel’s profound grief at her failed pregnancies, culminating in a kind of madness, is convincingly portrayed and it seems understandable that she should view the miracle of the baby as a “gift from God” to compensate for her loss.     From the reader’s first introduction to Tom, it is apparent he feels an immense sense of guilt – survivor’s guilt – that he should have survived the war unscathed when so many of his comrades did not. This overwhelming sense of guilt is the key to his decision to acquiesce to not reporting the boat, his actions when he learns the truth about the baby and, ultimately, his desire to protect Isabel from the consequences of their actions.

For me, the standout aspect of the book was the depiction of Janus in all its raw beauty and the guardian role of the lighthouse ‘slicing the darkness like a sword’. There is much imaginative and lyrical writing:

‘The water sloshed like white paint, milky-thick, the foam occasionally scraped off long enough to reveal a deep blue undercoat.’  

‘The wind continued its ancient vendetta against the windows, accompanied by the liquid thunder of waves.’

I have to admit that, once Janus was left behind, I found the story less compelling and Isabel’s ultimate choice didn’t completely convince me given all that had gone before.   I am rather averse to excessively sentimental endings and to me the final chapter read like it was designed to provide a “Hollywood” finale (as indeed it now has).

In three words: Emotional, lyrical, thought-provoking

Try something similarSarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville

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MLStedmanAbout the Author

M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.

Connect with Margot

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Blog Tour/Extract & Giveaway: The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway

TheFloatingTheatreBlog tour

I’m delighted to host today’s stop on the blog tour for The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway. I have an extract from the book to share with you as well as my review.  

WinPlus…I’m thrilled to give two lucky people the chance to have their own copy of The Floating Theatre to read and enjoy. Click on the link below to enter the giveaway (open to UK, ROI and Europe only). The giveaway closes on 24th August 2017.

Enter the giveaway

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TheFloatingTheatreAbout the Book

In a nation divided by prejudice, everyone must take a side. When young seamstress May Bedloe is left alone and penniless on the shore of the Ohio, she finds work on the famous floating theatre that plies its trade along the river.  Her creativity and needlework skills quickly become invaluable and she settles in to life among the colourful troupe of actors. She finds friends, and possibly the promise of more… But cruising the border between the Confederate South and the ‘free’ North is fraught with danger. For the sake of a debt that must be repaid, May is compelled to transport secret passengers, under cover of darkness, across the river and on, along the underground railroad.  But as May’s secrets become harder to keep, she learns she must endanger those now dear to her. And to save the lives of others, she must risk her own…

Format: Hardcover Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre Pages: 352
Publication: 15th June 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com ǀ Barnes & Noble ǀ IndieBound
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Floating Theatre on Goodreads


 

Extract from The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway

After my father died and my mother sold our dairy farm, there were not many occasions for me to go outside at night. Certainly not in New York with Comfort, or in Boston or Baltimore either. Sometimes, though, as a girl, if my father had to see to one of the cows or check on a batch of cheese, I would go with him to the barn in the moonlight. Night time, or I suppose I should say the dark outside, never frightened me. As a child I had the strange fancy that darkness was more honest than daylight, that the shrubs and trees and the creatures that lived among them were more themselves at night, and the ashy shade of the grass was in fact its true colour rather than the bright hue it took on during the day. Even the darkened river bellowing along below our house assumed its rightful character as it hurried past our farm. Perhaps at night I felt more like a spectator, and I suppose that was for me a comfortable role. I remember the smell of nicodemus flowers, which bloom after sunset, following my father and me as we walked to the barn.

Stepping into Leo’s rowboat that night and waiting while it stopped swaying from my movement, I was keenly aware of the deep colour that descends after the sun goes down, and of all the night noises: the cicadas, the soft gulps of wind, the creaking of the trees. I was glad for the noise, since it masked the sound of my oars pushing the boat away from the dock and the soft plash of the water as I rowed. Leo was right, the boat pulled a little to the right. The water around me shimmered like sealskin: a dark smooth expanse that once in a while caught the moonlight and then quickly absorbed it. At midnight I was supposed to be halfway across the river, where I would make my signal and then get a signal in return. That was all the instruction I got from the woman with the pink handkerchief—no letter with points A, B, and C.

I had to row backwards, of course. For a long time I could still see the squat chimneys of the Floating Theatre that ran up every two staterooms—my room shared its chimney with Hugo’s—each like a little neck topped by a Chinaman’s hat but no face. They seemed to be waiting for something. I pulled the oars back and then back again making a neat swoosh in the water like scissors cutting through fabric, and when I guessed that I was just about in the middle of the river I turned the boat around so that I was facing Kentucky and I took out my father’s watch.

The warm air settled palpably on my shoulders like a short felt cape while I waited for the last few minutes to pass. When it was exactly midnight, I got the gasoline lantern I’d brought along out from under the thwart and lit it. Then I counted to sixty and doused it.


My Review

I was drawn to this book by the description and, I have to admit, the gorgeous cover. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of May and the colourful characters of the Floating Theatre as they travel down river stopping at small towns to give performances to the local people. May’s involvement with the ‘underground railway’ forms an interesting subplot which introduces tension and a sense of jeopardy.

In May, the author has created a complicated character: rather naive, uncomfortable in social situations and someone who takes everything very literally. This helps to explain why May responds as she does to certain events in the narrative.  Because of her tendency to interpret things literally, May initially struggles to understand the concept of a theatrical performance where the objective is to seem ‘real’ when it is actually artificial. You can’t help giving a little silent cheer when she finally learns to suspend her disbelief and become immersed in what she is seeing on the stage in the way Hugo, the theatre owner, hoped she would.

‘But then, rather quickly if the actors are any good, something happens and somehow you drop into the fiction of the Italian countryside, and there you are. You forget all about the people around you because the only people that exist are the actors on stage, and the only world is the world they are playing out for you. You’ve lost yourself in the fiction.’

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers, Bonnier Zaffre, in return for an honest review. [The book is published under the title The Underground River in the US.]

In three words: Enjoyable, dramatic, engaging

Try something similar…The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier


MarthaConwayAbout the Author

Martha Conway is the author of Thieving Forest, Sugarland, and 12 Bliss Street, which was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. She’s received several awards for historical fiction, including the North American Book Award. Her short fiction has been published in the Iowa Review, the Carolina Quarterly, The Quarterly, Folio, and other journals.  Martha teaches creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and UC Berkeley Extension.  Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Martha is one of seven sisters. She currently lives in San Francisco.

Connect with Martha

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WWW Wednesdays: 16th Aug ’17

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too? Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

TheHauntingofHillHouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (paperback)

Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely and light-hearted assistant; Luke, the adventurous future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with chilling, even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

TheWardrobeMistressThe Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath (eARC)

January 1947. London is in ruins, there’s nothing to eat, and it’s the coldest winter in living memory.

To make matters worse, Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day, has suddenly died. His widow Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is beside herself with grief.  Then one night she discovers Gricey’s secret.

Plunged into a dark new world, she realises that the war isn’t over after all.


Recently finished

TheWordisMurderThe Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (eARC)

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral. A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own. A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control. What do they have in common?

Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller.

TheScribesDaughterThe Scribe’s Daughter by Stephanie Churchill (review copy courtesy of the author)

Kassia is a thief and a soon-to-be oath breaker. Armed with only a reckless wit and sheer bravado, seventeen-year-old Kassia barely scrapes out a life with her older sister in a back-alley of the market district of the Imperial city of Corium. When a stranger shows up at her market stall, offering her work for which she is utterly unqualified, Kassia cautiously takes him on. Very soon however, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery involving a usurped foreign throne and a vengeful nobleman. Most intriguing of all, she discovers a connection with the disappearance of her father three years prior. When Kassia is forced to flee her home, suffering extreme hardship, danger and personal trauma along the way, she feels powerless to control what happens around her. Rewarding revelations concerning the mysteries of her family’s past are tempered by the reality of a future she doesn’t want. In the end, Kassia discovers an unyielding inner strength and that, contrary to her prior beliefs, she is not defined by external things – she discovers that she is worthy to be loved.

PathofLucasPath of Lucas: The Journey He Endured by Susanne Bellefeuille (review copy courtesy of iRead Book Tours)

Lucas Clarkson is a simple man, a family man, and a hard working farmer’s son. From a small town in Eastern Ontario, the author, Susanne Bellefeuille, brings us on Lucas’s journey through the trials and tribulations of his life. Lucas’s path is not as simple as the man he’s portrayed to be. From the days spent working on his dad’s farm to becoming a successful mechanic, with a genuine heart and his incredible strength, Lucas faces many difficult decisions. The choices he makes may be the difference between realizing his dreams and keeping his family together.


What Cathy (will) Read Next

HoldingOnToHurtHolding on to Hurt by Charlotte Roth (review copy courtesy of Xpresso Tours)

‘I dread that every day I live, I’m one day further away from my life with Scottie’. Irene Hurt has always dreamed of having a large family with her adoring husband Bruce. That dream is shattered when her doctor performs a hysterectomy after the birth of her only son Scottie. Though heartbroken, Irene accepts the outcome and cherishes every moment with her son and her husband, until … the day she gets the call every mother dreads. Scottie is injured in a mass school shooting and is rushed to the ICU, where he’s put into a medically induced coma to wait out his fate. Devastated, Bruce pulls away and even tries to convince Irene to remove Scottie’s life support, to save his son from a life of lesser existence. But, Irene refuses to give up hope. On her journey through grief, denial, anger and finally, acceptance, Irene discovers more about the events of that tragic day, the boy who shot her son and then took his own life, and the husband she thought she knew and could trust. Will Scottie pull through and, once again, be the glue that keeps this family together? Or, will Irene accept that sometimes, the best thing a mother can do for her child is let go?

TakeCourageTake Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis (hardcover)

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings — virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead. Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time — and her more celebrated siblings — and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.