My Week in Books – 11th November ’18


New arrivals  

Bitter OrangeBitter Orange by Claire Fuller (ebook)

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them — Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours’ private lives.

To Frances’ surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to spend time with her. It is the first occasion that she has had anybody to call a friend, and before long they are spending every day together: eating lavish dinners, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, and smoking cigarettes till the ash piles up on the crumbling furniture. Frances is dazzled.

But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don’t quite add up — and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. Amid the decadence of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.

States of PassionStates of Passion by Nihad Sirees, trans. by Max Weiss (paperback, subscription box)

The world is so strange. The strangest things are the stories you overhear.

When a hapless bureaucrat finds himself stranded in the countryside during a raging storm, he seeks refuge in a grand yet isolated mansion, inhabited by only an elderly gentleman and his unwelcoming servant.

The tale of family secrets he encounters while sheltering there begins with a faded photograph in yellowed newspaper, of a beautiful woman stepping off a train at Aleppo station many years ago. It transports him to Syria’s golden age, to the heart of the mysterious, unconventional banat al-ishreh – the infamous women who live, dance and play music together – and into a tangled web of forbidden love.

States of Passion is a beautifully spun, playful novel about what it means to live within a memory of the past – and about the many faces of a city that might have been.

NemesisNemesis (Tom Wilde #3) by Rory Clements (eARC, courtesy of Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley)

A race against time to unmask a Nazi spy

In a great English house, a young woman offers herself to one of the most powerful and influential figures in the land – but this is no ordinary seduction. She plans to ensure his death . . .

On holiday in France, Professor Tom Wilde discovers his brilliant student Marcus Marfield, who disappeared two years earlier to join the International Brigades in Spain, in the Le Vernet concentration camp in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Wilde secures his release just as German tanks roll into Poland.

Meanwhile, a U-boat sinks the liner Athenia in the Atlantic with many casualties, including Americans, onboard. Goebbels claims Churchill put a bomb in the ship to blame Germany and to lure America into the war.

As the various strands of an international conspiracy begin to unwind, Tom Wilde will find himself in great personal danger. For just who is Marcus Marfield? And where does his loyalty lie?

Pre-order Nemesis from Amazon UK

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday –  I stepped in to publish a round-up of the reviews of books read for the October theme of the BookBum Club on Goodreads (currently in hiatus).

Tuesday –  I hosted a stop on the blog tour A Pivotal Right (Shaking the Tree #2) by K. A. Servian, publishing my review of this historical novel set in 19th century New Zealand. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Backlist Books I Want To Read.  Quite a few to choose from there then…  I also shared my Five Favourite October reads and signed-up (belatedly) for Nonfiction November.

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 have a good nose around to see what other bloggers are reading.

Thursday – My Throwback Thursday post was my review of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Friday – I published my review of The Magick of Master Lilly, a historical novel based on the life of 17th century astrologer, William Lilly.

Saturday –  I (belatedly) published my review of my October Buchan of the Month, Witch Wood  by John Buchan.

Sunday – To mark Remembrance Day and the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, I published a feature on John Buchan and the Great War.  He lost a brother and a number of close friends in the First World War.

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

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Price of Compassion (The Golden City #4) by A. B. Michaels
  • Book Review: A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton
  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing Memory-Hold-the-Door by John Buchan
  • Book Review: Christmas at War by Caroline Taggart
  • Book Review: Bells of Avalon by Libbet Bradstreet
  • Book Review: Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks
  • Cover Reveal: The Blameless Dead by Gary Haynes

My Week in Books – 28th October ’18


New arrivals  

China Blue (Dudley Sisters Saga #3) by Madalyn Morgan (paperback, giveaway prize)

At the beginning of World War II, Claire Dudley joins the WAAF. She excels in languages and is recruited by the Special Operations Executive to work in German occupied France with Captain Alain Mitchell, of the RCAF, and the French Resistance. Against SOE rules Claire falls in love. The affair has to be kept secret. Even after her lover falls into the hands of the Gestapo, Claire cannot tell anyone they are more than comrades.

As the war reaches its climax, Claire fears she will never again see the man she loves.


Chasing Ghosts (Dudley Sisters Saga #6) by Madalyn Morgan (paperback, giveaway prize)

1949 – After receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire’s husband disappears.  Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?  Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.

(Chasing Ghosts is book 6 in the Dudley Sisters Saga, but is the sequel to book 3, China Blue.)

BitterBitter by Francesca Jakobi (ebook)

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

The Doll FactoryThe Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal (eARC, NetGalley)

London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.

But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening…

Pre-order The Doll Factory  from Amazon UK

The Sentence is DeathThe Sentence is Death (Hawthorne #2) by Anthony Horowitz (eARC, NetGalley)

“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late . . . “

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realizes that these secrets must be exposed—even at the risk of death . . .

Pre-order The Sentence is Death (Hawthorne #2)  from Amazon UK

Christmas at WarChristmas at War by Caroline Taggart (proof copy courtesy of John Blake and Readers First)

No turkey. No fruit to make a decent pudding. No money for presents. Your children away from home to keep them safe from bombing; your husband, father and brothers off fighting goodness knows where. How in the world does one celebrate Christmas?

That was the situation facing the people of Britain for six long years during the Second World War. For some of them, Christmas was an ordinary day: they couldn’t afford merrymaking – and had little to be merry about. Others, particularly those with children, did what little they could.

These first-hand reminiscences tell of making crackers with no crack in them and shouting ‘Bang!’ when they were pulled; of carol-singing in the blackout, torches carefully covered so that no passing bombers could see the light, and of the excitement of receiving a comic, a few nuts and an apple in your Christmas stocking. They recount the resourcefulness that went into makeshift dinners and hand-made presents, and the generosity of spirit that made having a happy Christmas possible in appalling conditions.

From the family whose dog ate the entire Christmas roast, leaving them to enjoy ‘Spam with all the trimmings’, to the exhibition of hand-made toys for children in a Singapore prison camp, the stories are by turns tragic, poignant and funny. Between them, they paint an intriguing picture of a world that was in many ways kinder, less self-centered, more stoical than ours. Even if – or perhaps because – there was a war on.

Pre-order Christmas at War  from Amazon UK

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of crime novel The Last Thread by Ray Britain.

Tuesday –  I hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond, posting my review of this literary thriller set in Cyprus.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Villains and I gave my list a John Buchan theme.

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 plus have a good old nose around what other bloggers are reading.  I published my review of another of the events I attended at this year’s Henley Literary Festival – Anne Youngson and A J Pearce talking about their debut novels, Meet Me at the Museum and Dear Mrs. Bird.

Thursday – I joined the blog tour for The Senator’s Assignment by Joan E. Histon, publishing my review of this historical mystery set in Ancient Rome.   I also published my review of the final event I attended at this year’s Henley Literary Festival – Diane Setterfield talking about her forthcoming book, Once Upon a River.

Friday – Today’s review was of a book I read during my recent break in Cornwall, a historical fiction novel set partly in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, False Lights by K. J. Whittaker.

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Review: A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton
  • Book Review: Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks
  • Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Book Review: The Magick of Mister Lilly by Tobsha Learner
  • Buchan of the Month/Book Review: Witch Wood by John Buchan
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson
  • Book Review: Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Blog Tour/Extract: Cottage on a Cornish Cliff by Kate Ryder
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Word for Freedom by Angela Clark
  • Blog Blitz: A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye