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

Top Ten Bookish Goals: A Postscript

TTT-Big2

Yes, I know it’s Wednesday but this week’s theme – Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2018 – proved so popular (not least with me) that I wanted to do some sort of follow-up.  Thanks, first of all, to Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl for coming up with such a fantastic topic

I did a lot of blog hopping yesterday and I think a lot of other people did too.  (Nothing like being nosey about what other bloggers’ have planned!)  I started to see a few goals getting mentioned over and over again.  So, based on the 25 or so blogs I visited (not a scientific sample, I stress) here are the ten most popular bookish goals for 2018, listed in reverse order of popularity:

Ten –      Devote more time to your own writing
Nine –    Read more books than in 2017
Eight –   Write/post reviews in a more timely fashion, e.g. straight after finishing a book
Seven –  Read with less pressure, e.g. no target number, less challenges, no strict TBR list
Six –       Cull bookshelves (real and virtual) of books you no longer want
Five –     Complete series you’ve started
Four –    Complete reading challenges you’ve signed up for
Three –  Read more diversely, e.g. different genres, new authors
Two –     Be more active in the blogging community, e.g. visit/comment on other blogs
One –     Read more of the books you own/from your TBR pile

Do any of your goals appear on this list?