My Week in Books – 4th March ’18


New arrivals  

Mr Peacock's PossessionsMr Peacock’s Possessions by Lydia Syson (eARC, Netgalley)

Oceania 1879. A family of settlers from New Zealand are the sole inhabitants of a remote volcanic island.

For two years they have struggled with the harsh reality of trying to make this unforgiving place a paradise they can call their own. At last, a ship appears. The six Pacific Islanders on board have travelled eight-hundred miles across the ocean in search of work and new horizons. Hopes are high for all, until a vulnerable boy vanishes. In their search for the lost child, settlers and newcomers together uncover far more than they were looking for. The island¹s secrets force them all to question their deepest convictions.

EntanglementEntanglement by Katy Mahood (eARC, NetGalley)

2007: At the end of a momentous day, Charlie, Stella and John cross paths under the arches of Paddington Station. As Charlie locks eyes with Stella across the platform, a brief, powerful spark of recognition flashes between them. But they are strangers…aren’t they?

Plunging back thirty years we watch as, unknown to them all, the lives of Stella and John, and Charlie and his girlfriend Beth, are pulled ever closer, an invisible thread connecting them across the decades and through London’s busy streets.

For Stella, becoming a young mother in the 1970s puts an end to her bright academic career in a way John can’t seem to understand. Meanwhile Charlie gambles all future happiness with Beth when his inner demons threaten to defeat him.

In rhythmic and captivating prose, Katy Mahood effortlessly interweaves the stories of these two families who increasingly come to define one another in the most vital and astounding ways. With this soaring debut, she explores the choices and encounters that make up a lifetime, reminding us just how closely we are all connected.

Suitors and SabotageSuitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey (eARC, NetGalley)

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended. But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows – despite their efforts to remain just friends – so does the danger…

WaltScott_The Gallows PoleThe Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers (ebook)

“I saw them. Stag-headed men dancing at on the moor at midnight, nostrils flared and steam rising…”

An England divided. From his remote moorland home, David Hartley assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history. They are the Cragg Vale Coiners and their business is ‘clipping’ – the forging of coins, a treasonous offence punishable by death.  A charismatic leader, Hartley cares for the poor and uses violence and intimidation against his opponents. He is also prone to self-delusion and strange visions of mythical creatures.

When excise officer William Deighton vows to bring down the Coiners and one of their own becomes turncoat, Hartley’s empire begins to crumble. With the industrial age set to change the face of England forever, the fate of his empire is under threat.

Forensically assembled from historical accounts and legal documents, The Gallows Pole is a true story of resistance that combines poetry, landscape, crime and historical fiction, whose themes continue to resonate. Here is a rarely-told alternative history of the North.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I took part in the blog tour for Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley with a spotlight feature.  I also my review of The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter, a story about a drought-stricken Australia with a distinctly post-apocalyptic theme.

Tuesday – I shared my Top Ten Tuesday list of books that I could reread forever. I also published my review of the emotional The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri.

Wednesday WWW 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 published my review of Caligula by Simon Turney, a different take on that infamous Roman Emperor.

Thursday – I took part in the blog tour for The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg, a fantastic fictionalised portrait of the tempestuous marriage of Charmian and Jack London and Charmian’s relationship with Harry Houdini.

Friday – I shared my Five Favourite books I read in February and also my thoughts on the longlist for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.  I’m aiming to read the ten books on the list I haven’t already read before the shortlist is announced in April. Note the word ‘aiming’, not ‘going to’!

Saturday – I took part in the weekend book blitz for The Study of Silence by Malia Zaidi by hosting a guest post from the author. I also shared my list for the next Classics Club spin.  The spin number will be announced on 9th March.  Finally, I participated in the 6 Degrees of Separation meme, creating a list of six books linked in some way to this month’s starting book, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.   If you fancy taking part next month, April’s starting book is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

Sunday – I published my review of Killed by Thomas Enger as part of the blog tour for this the fifth and final outing for investigative journalist, Henning Juul.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 31 out of 156 books read, 2 more than last 3 weeks
  • Classics Club Challenge – 11 out of 50 books read, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 10 ARCs read and reviewed out of 25, 2 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 10 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last update
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 3 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 15 books out of 50 read, 2 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 6 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last update
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 0 out of 6 books read, same as last week
  • Buchan of the Month – 2 out of 12 books read, same as last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Guest Post: Walk With Me by Debra Schoenberger
  • Review: All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth Church
  • Review: Brewing Up Murder by Neila Young
  • Blog Tour/Review: Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon
  • Blog Tour/Spotlight: Far Cry from the Turquoise Room by Kate Rigby
  • Throwback Thursday: Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
  • Blog Tour/Spotlight: Fanny Newcomb and Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2018


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2018.  This is an easy one for me because I love signing up for reading challenges and I find reading other blogs gives me lots of inspiration for what I’d like to achieve with my own.

The Classics ClubOne – Complete my Classics Club list

I signed up to The Classics Club soon after I started blogging in November 2016 and confidently set a target to read my 50 chosen books by the end of December 2018.  It seemed a long way away back then.  As it stands, I’ve only read seven from my list so this is going to have to be a real focus this year.

TBR Challenge 2018Two – Read more of the books I already own

To help with this, I’ve signed up for the 2018 TBR Pile Challenge (hosted by RoofBeamReader) and the focus seems to be helping because I’ve already read two of my twelve and I’m all part way through a third.  Who knows, I may even get to my two ‘reserve’ books as well…

Buchan of the MonthThree – Promote the books of John Buchan

I’ve been reading and collecting books by John Buchan for many years and I’ve always thought he was underrated as an author.  To try to dispel the idea that his books are dated or that he only wrote The Thirty-Nine Steps, I’ve embarked on my Buchan of the Month reading project.  To read my introduction to the first book on the list, The Power-House, click here.  Why not join me and read along?

NetGalley Challenge 2018Four – Achieve my 100 reviews badge on NetGalley

I need to read and review around 25 more titles to achieve this so to help keep my focus on this target I’ve signed up for the NetGalley & Edelweiss Challenge 2018 (hosted by Bookish Things & More).  I’m going for Silver level which should get me to my goal.  A side goal is to maintain my 80% plus feedback ratio and (a dream more than a goal) to get auto approved by a publisher.

Goodreads ChallengeFive – Read at least 156 books in 2018

I’ve set my Goodreads reading challenge target at 156, the same as last year although I actually managed 160 in 2017.  However, I think three books a week is about my limit.  Any more than this and I think I’d start to feel pressurised and risk losing the enjoyment of reading.

BookPileSix – Reduce my stack of review copies from authors

I always feel slightly guilty about the length of time it takes me to get around to reading books sent to me by lovely authors, although they are unfailingly patient and appreciative when I finally do get around to publishing my review.  This is despite the fact that I am very selective about the review requests I accept.  I made a real effort to read more from my stack of author review copies in December and I’m going to try to do the same in February (see goal nine below).  I’d really like to reduce my turnaround time for reviews to below the three to four months it is currently. (By the way, for any authors reading this, my review stack is not quite as big as in the picture.)

2018 HF Reading Challenge_GraphicSeven – Read 50 historical fiction books in 2018

This is rather a cheat because historical fiction is my favourite genre.  However, I’ve signed up for the Historical Fiction Challenge hosted by Passages to the Past because it’s always great to swap recommendations with other bloggers.  I’m aiming for Prehistoric level which means reading 50+ books.  In a similar vein, I’m also participating in the When Are You Reading Challenge 2018 (hosted by Taking on a World of Words)  It involves reading 12 books, one from each of 12 specified time periods.  I also hope to read the books longlisted for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. (You can read my wishlist of books to appear on the list here.)

WWWWednesdaysEight – Take part in bookish events

I already participate in a number of memes such as this one.  Other favourites are WWW Wednesdays and Throwback Thursday and I always mean to join in with the monthly Six Degrees of Separation but never seem to get around to it.  Last year, I took part in ARC August and really enjoyed it, although I wasn’t organised enough to get through all the books I’d targeted.   I’ll be looking out for events like that again this year.

Nine – Take blog tour breaks

I love participating in blog tours as it’s introduced me to some great authors, books and publishers and some amazingly professional tour organisers.   However, it is easy to sign up for more than you intend and find yourself overwhelmed by deadlines.  I know because I’ve done it.  As a newbie blogger, I was so keen to get involved, I got carried away (although, I’m proud to say I’ve never missed a tour deadline).  I took a blog tour break in December and it really allowed me to catch up with other reading in what is a busy time of the year as it is.  I shall be away for part of February so I’ve decided to take another break from blog tours then as well.

10BookBlogsILoveTen – Support other book bloggers

The book blogging community is terrific and one of the things I particularly enjoy is interaction with other bloggers.  So I want to continue making time to visit other blogs, read and comment on reviews and share their posts on Twitter and other social media.

My Week in Books – 31st December ’17


New arrivals

Someone has been tempted by Amazon’s 12 Days of Kindle sale….

The Heart's Invisible FuriesThe Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (ebook)

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

Any Human HeartAny Human Heart by William Boyd (ebook)

ANY HUMAN HEART is an ambitious, all-encompassing novel. Through the intimate journals of Logan Mounstuart we travel from Uruguay to Oxford, on to Paris, the Bahamas, New York and West Africa, and meet his three wives, his family, his friends and colleagues, his rivals, enemies and lovers, including notables such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Wool

Dangerous CrossingDangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys (ebook)

England, September 1939. Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go…

Australia, six-weeks later. The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs. What has she done?

Rules of CivilityRules of Civility by Amor Towles (ebook)

In a jazz bar on the last night of 1937, watching a quartet because she couldn’t afford to see the whole ensemble, there were certain things Katey Kontent knew.

By the end of the year she’d learned – how to launch a paper airplane high over Park Avenue, how to live like a redhead, and how to insist upon the very best.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Tuesday – I shared my Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2018 which includes many new books from authors whose books I loved in 2017.

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.

Thursday –I shared my review of The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson, a powerful drama about secrets, prejudice and the abuse of power. I also published my selections for the When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018.  Still time to sign-up if you fancy joining me…

Friday – Another day, another challenge sign-up for 2018! This time it was the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge with six books chosen to fit some interesting categories.

Saturday – I shared my review of The Biographies of Ordinary People, Vol. 1 by Nicole Dieker, a fascinating book following the everyday life of the fictional Gruber family. I’m really looking forward to the second volume, due to be published in 2018. I also put together my annual round-up post – My Year in Books. It included bookish statistics from my reading year as well as some hidden gems and books I read that were outside my normal genres.

Sunday – I published my review of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, the book from my much-neglected Classics Club list that was drawn for me for the Classics Club spin.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 160 out of 156 books read, 4 more than last week.  Achieved!
  • Classics Club Challenge – 6 out of 50 books reviewed, 1 more than last week.  Hmm, some way to go in 2018.
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 46 ARCs reviewed out of 50, 1 more than last week.  I originally targeted Silver level (25 books) which I achieved.
  • From Page to Screen– 9 book/film comparisons out of 15, same as last week.  More work needed on this one as well.

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • My Five Favourite December Reads
  • Extract: 355 – The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring by Kit Sergeant
  • Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017
  • Review: Death Comes For The Archbishop by Willa Cather
  • Throwback Thursday/Review: 1066 – What Fates Impose by G. K. Holloway
  • Review: Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing The Power House

My Year in Books 2017

As this is only my second end of calendar year as a book blogger, I’m still finding it fun to look back over the year and review what I achieved. Last year at this time, I’d only been blogging for just over a month. In fact, it was interesting to look back at my reflections then and the bold plans I had for 2017.  Click here if you want to take a look too.

Bookish Statistics (courtesy of Goodreads)

Longest bookAnd The Birds Kept On Singing by Simon Bourke (642 pages)

Shortest bookTremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall (Goodreads insists this was 12 pages although it was actually 384 pages). Not sure what my actual shortest book was.

Most Popular BookLittle Women by Louisa M Alcott which another 1,422,028 have read. Published in 1862, this was also the oldest book I read.

Least Popular BookA Countess in Limbo: Diaries in War and Revolution by Olga Hendrikoff and Sue Carscallen which no-one else has read (see also Hidden Gems below)

Favourite Genre – Historical fiction (no surprise there)

Average rating – 4.2 (Hmm, I’m more generous than I thought or I’ve just read a ton of good books this year…)

Top rated books – I gave forty-three 5-star ratings although some of those would actually have been 4.5 star ratings rounded up.  My lowest rating was 3 stars (given to 19 books).

Hidden Gems

Here is a list of books to which I gave 5 stars on Goodreads but which fewer than 100 people have rated/reviewed on Goodreads. I’ve ignored books published after 1st October 2017 as they simply may not have had enough time to acquire many reviews. I am frankly astonished at some of them…. Click on the titles to read my review.

A Countess in Limbo: Diaries in War and Revolution by Olga Hendrikoff and Sue Carscallen
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik
Shelter by Sarah Franklin
Ares Road by James L Weaver
Crimson & Bone by Marina Fiorato
A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls
The Watch House by Bernie McGill
Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle by Heera Datta
The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath
A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere by Kris Radish
And The Birds Kept On Singing by Simon Bourke
The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson
Fortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes
The Last Train by Michael Pronko

Outside My Comfort Zone

Here are a few books I read – some for blog tours, some in response to review requests from authors – that were outside my usual genres but I still enjoyed. As always, click on the titles to read my review.

Zenka by Alison Brodie (humour)
The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me by Barbara Quinn (women’s fiction)
The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield (YA)
The Thirteenth Gate by Kat Ross (fantasy element)
And The Birds Kept On Singing by Simon Bourke (long book!)

Reading Challenges

Goodreads – I read 160 books (including two I’ll finish before tomorrow not showing in my total currently) against a target of 156. More than double the 70 books I read in 2016 which goes to show what book blogging does for you!

From Page to Screen – I haven’t managed to read all the books on which the films I’ve seen are based. I need to apply myself to this more next year.

Classics Club – Talking of which, I’ve only managed to read 7 of the 50 books on my list. I’m really going to have to go some to get through the list by the end of 2018 but I’ve included as many as I can in other reading challenges I’m signed up for in 2018.

NetGalley & Edelweiss Challenge – I achieved the 25 books for Silver level that I originally set as my target but was aiming for Gold level – 50 books. I’m going to fall a few books short of that.


Top 5 Most Viewed Book Reviews

These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik
Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy
Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Top 5 Most Viewed Other Posts

What Does You Book Blog Say About You?
Temptations of a Book Blogger
Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Books of 2017
Should Bloggers Act as Proofreaders?
10 Book Blogs I Love

Reading & Blogging Goals for 2018

You can read about the challenges I’ve set myself next year here.

However, there is one thing I’d like to see less of in 2018 – the word ‘unputdownable’ (if it even is a word) when used to describe a book.  You mean you literally did not put it down during all the time you were reading it? Not even to make a cup of tea or coffee, go to the bathroom or make yourself a snack?   If you did indeed not put it down whilst doing any of those things, then hats off to you. If you didn’t actually, then please think up a new word to encapsulate your admiration for a book.  Rant over.

I don’t want to end the year on a grumpy note, so I’d like to thank everyone who has followed my blog this year and read, liked, commented on or shared my posts.  Thank you also to the publishers, tour organisers and authors I’ve worked with this year who have contributed to such a satisfying and rewarding Year In Books.

Happy New Year!    

What’s In A Name Reading Challenge 2018


What's In A Name 2018

This challenge (which is going to be my final challenge sign-up for 2018) is hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole.

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the six categories listed. I’ve had great fun making my selections and trying to source as many as possible from my TBR pile.  My final list is below and if you click on the title it will take you to the book’s entry on Goodreads. Once I’ve read each book, I’ll replace this with a link to my review.

The word ‘the’ used twice    The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas

A fruit or vegetable               Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

A shape                                    Diamond Cut Diamond by Jane Jakeman

A title that begins with Z      Zoo Station by David Downing (can be after ‘The’ or ‘A’)

A nationality                          The German Messenger by David Malcolm

A season                                 The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson