My Week in Books – 28th January ’18

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

The Burning ChambersThe Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse (eARC, NetGalley)

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.  But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.  Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

The Illumination of Ursula FlightThe Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anne-Marie Crowhurst (eARC, NetGalley)

Born on the night of an ill-auguring comet just before Charles II’s Restoration, Ursula Flight has a difficult future written in the stars.  Against the custom of the age she begins an education with her father, who fosters in her a love of reading, writing and astrology.

Following a surprise meeting with an actress, Ursula yearns for the theatre and thus begins her quest to become a playwright despite scoundrels, bounders, bad luck and heartbreak.

TThe Pharmacist's Wifehe Pharmacist’s Wife by Vanessa Tait (eARC, NetGalley)

Love. Desire. Vengeance. A deadly alchemy.

When Rebecca Palmer’s new husband opens a pharmacy in Victorian Edinburgh, she expects to live the life of a well-heeled gentlewoman. But her ideal is turns to ashes when she discovers her husband is not what he seems. As Rebecca struggles to maintain her dignity in the face of his infidelity and strange sexual desires, Alexander tries to pacify her so-called hysteria with a magical new chemical creation. A wonder-drug he calls heroin.

Rebecca’s journey into addiction takes her further into her past, and her first, lost love, while Alexander looks on, curiously observing his wife’s descent. Meanwhile, Alexander’s desire to profit from his invention leads him down a dangerous path that blurs science, passion, and death. He soon discovers that even the most promising experiments can have unforeseen and deadly consequences…

Friends and TraitorsFriends and Traitors (Inspector Troy #8) by John Lawton (eARC, NetGalley)

It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on ‘the Grand Tour’ for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Sienna, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam.

After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years – Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: ‘I want to come home.’ Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to de-brief Burgess – but the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, and after that, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed and Troy finds himself a suspect. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy finds that Burgess is not the only ghost who returns to haunt him.

Waking IsabellaWaking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon (ebook, review copy courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources) 

While filming a documentary about Isabella de’ Medici – the Renaissance princess who was murdered by her husband – Nora, an assistant researcher, begins to connect with the lives of two remarkable women from the past. Unravelling the stories of Isabella, the daughter of a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke, and Margherita, a young girl trying to survive the war in Nazi-occupied Italy, Nora begins to question the choices that have shaped her own life up to this point. As she does, hidden beauty is awakened deep inside of her, and she discovers the keys to her creativity and happiness. It is a story of love and deceit, forgeries and masterpieces – all held together by the allure and intrigue of a beautiful Tuscan ghost.


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I took part in the blog tour for Hattie’s Home by Mary Gibson, publishing a fascinating Q&A with Mary.  Bermondsey, biscuits and ‘bambeaters’ were on the agenda!

Tuesday – I joined the blog tour for The Moral Compass by K. A. Servian and shared my review of this engaging coming-of-age story novel set in 19th century New Zealand.

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.   I also hosted the final stop on the blog tour for Traitor (Mercia Blakewood #3) by David Hingley, publishing my review of this lively historical mystery set in the court of Charles II and featuring a fantastic female protagonist.

Friday – I shared my review of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout for this month’s New Year, New Author theme of The BookBum Club on Goodreads.

Saturday – As part of my From Page to Screen reading project I published my (spoiler free) comparison of the book and film versions of Carol by Patricia Highsmith.

Sunday – I published my review of The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements, a creepily atmospheric story set in 17th century Yorkshire.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 14 out of 156 books read, 5 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 9 out of 50 books read, 1 more than last week (Yay! Progress…)
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 4 ARCs read and reviewed out of 25, 1 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 10 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, 1 more than last week
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 3 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 9 books out of 50 read, 3 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 4 out of 12 books read, 2 more than last week
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 0 out of 6 books read, same as last week
  • Buchan of the Month – 1 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Review: Court of Lions by Jane Johnson
  • Blog Tour/Spotlight: An Argument of Blood by Matthew Willis & J. A. Ironside
  • Review: Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
  • Review: The Power-House by John Buchan
  • Blog Tour/Q&A & Review: Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik
  • Throwback Thursday: The Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan
  • My Five Favourite January Reads
  • Blog Tour/Review: The Renaissance Club by Rachel Dacus
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My Week in Books – 21st January ’18

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

Jane Semour The Haunted QueenJane Seymour: The Haunted Queen (Six Tudor Queens #3) by Alison Weir (eARC, NetGalley)

Eleven days after the death of Anne Boleyn, Jane is dressing for her wedding to the King. She has witnessed at firsthand how courtly play can quickly turn to danger and knows she must bear a son . . . or face ruin.  This new Queen must therefore step out from the shadows cast by Katherine and Anne – in doing so, can she expose a gentler side to the brutal King?

Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir draws on new research for her captivating novel, which paints a compelling portrait of Jane and casts fresh light on both traditional and modern perceptions of her. Jane was driven by the strength of her faith and a belief that she might do some good in a wicked world.  History tells us how she died. This spellbinding novel explores the life she lived.

Darkest HourDarkest Hour: How Churchill Brought Us Back From The Brink by Anthony McCarten (paperback, giveaway prize)

May, 1940. Britain is at war, European democracies are falling rapidly and the public are unaware of this dangerous new world. Just days after his unlikely succession to Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, faces this horror – and a sceptical King and a party plotting against him. He wonders how he can capture the public mood and does so, magnificently, before leading the country to victory.

It is this fascinating period that Anthony McCarten captures in this deeply researched, gripping day-by-day (and often hour-by-hour) narrative. In doing so he revises the familiar view of Churchill – he made himself into the iconic figure we remember and changed the course of history, but through those turbulent and dangerous weeks he was plagued by doubt, and even explored a peace treaty with Nazi Germany. It’s a scarier, and more human story, than has ever been told.

Magpie MurdersMagpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (paperback, gift)

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Santa_The Music ShopThe Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (hardcover, gift)

It’s 1988.  Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need. Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann.  Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind…

MunichMunich by Robert Harris (hardcover, gift)

September 1938. Hitler is determined to start a war.  Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace.  The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there.  Munich.

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Fürher’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own.  Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries, Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now their paths are destined to cross again as the future of Europe hangs in the balance.

When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

A Mother's SacrificeA Mother’s Sacrifice by Gemma Metcalfe (eARC, NetGalley & Neverland Book Tours)

It was fate that she crossed my path. And that is why I chose her.

The day Louisa and James bring their newborn son home from the hospital marks a new beginning for all of them. To hold their child in their arms makes all the stress and trauma of fertility treatment worth it. Little Cory is theirs and theirs alone. Or so they think…

After her mother’s suicide when she was a child, Louisa’s life took an even darker turn. But meeting James changed everything. She can trust him to protect her, and to never leave her. Even if deep down, she worries that she has never told him the full truth about her past, or the truth about their baby. But someone knows all her secrets – and that person is watching and waiting, with a twisted game that will try to take everything Louisa holds dear.

EcstasyEcstasy by Mary Sharratt (eARC, NetGalley & Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time the centre stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand-new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I took part in the blog tour for Beautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston, publishing both my review and a fascinating Q&A with Andrew.

Tuesday – I shared my Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2018, including some of the reading challenges I’ve signed up for.

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.   I also published a round-up of the most popular bookish goals posted by some of the other bloggers taking part in the previous day’s Top Ten Tuesday meme.

Thursday – I shared my review of the wonderful Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block and revisited my review of Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson for Throwback Thursday.

Friday – I shared my review of The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford, a powerful story based on true accounts of the struggle for survival in the Warsaw ghetto in World War II.  Highly recommended, although not easy reading.

Sunday – I took part in the blog tour for The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert, publishing an excerpt from the book.  I also published my review of Nucleus by Rory Clements, the second in his Tom Wilde series of historical thrillers, set in 1939.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 9 out of 156 books read, 2 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 8 out of 50 books read, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 3 ARCs read and reviewed out of 25, 2 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 9 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last week
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 2 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 6 books out of 50 read, 2 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 2 out of 12 books read, same as last week
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 0 out of 6 books read
  • Buchan of the Month – 0 out of 12 books read

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Olive KitteridgeThe Moral CompassThe Mermaid & Mrs Hancock

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Q&A: Hattie’s Home by Mary Gibson
  • Blog Tour/Review: The Moral Compass by K A Servian
  • Blog Tour/Review: Traitor by David Hingley
  • Review: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • Review: Oliver Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • From Page to Screen: Carol