My Week in Books – 16th September ’18


New arrivals  

After a quiet week last week, this week it was rather busier in the arrivals lounge…

Reading in Heels Sep18The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning (paperback, Reading in Heels subscription box)

A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, Vanity Fair, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp

Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.

Determined to leave her poverty-stricken roots behind her, Becky Sharp is going to take every opportunity offered to her to climb to the top. Whether it’s using her new BFF Amelia Sedley to step up into the rarified world of London’s upper classes, or seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, Becky Sharp is destined for great things – at any cost..

From London to Paris and beyond, the world is there for Becky’s taking – even though some people are determined to stop her along the way…

99 Nights in Logar99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai (eARC, courtesy of NetGalley)

A coming-of-age story about one boy’s journey across contemporary Afghanistan to find and bring home the family dog, blending the grit and immediacy of voice-driven fiction like We Need New Names with the mythmaking of One Thousand and One Nights.

Twelve-year-old Marwand’s memories from his previous visit to Afghanistan six years ago center on his contentious relationship with Budabash, the terrifying but beloved dog who guards his extended family’s compound in Logar. Eager to find an ally in this place that’s meant to be “home,” Marwand approaches Budabash the way he would any dog on his American suburban block—and the results are disastrous: Marwand loses a finger and Budabash escapes.

The resulting search for the family dog is an expertly told adventure, a ninety-nine-night quest that sends Marwand and his cousins across the landscape of Logar. Moving between celebrations and tragedies, deeply humorous and surprisingly tender, 99 Nights in Logar is a vibrant exploration of the power of stories—the ones we tell each other, and the ones we find ourselves in.

Sadie's WarsSadie’s Wars (Currency Girls #3) by Rosemary Noble (eARC, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources)

Sadie is brought up amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley whilst her work-obsessed father reaps riches from the boom years before the Great War.  With post-war depression looming, Sadie’s only option is to flee from her disastrous marriage, seeking refuge in Cleethorpes, a small seaside town in northern England.

Years later, when her sons are in RAF Bomber Command, she receives a letter from her long-lost brother which forces her to confront the past and her part in her family’s downfall.

Can old wounds be healed? Will she find new love? Will this second war destroy everyone she saved?

Pre-order Sadie’s Wars from Amazon UK

The Glorious DeadThe Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson (eARC, courtesy of Random Things Tours)

What happened when the Great War ended and the guns stopped firing? Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead?

It’s 1918 and the war may be over but Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson and the men of his platoon are still knee-deep in Flanders mud, searching the battlefields for the remains of comrades killed in action. But duty isn’t all that’s keeping Jack in Flanders. For one there is Katia, the daughter of a local publican, with whom he has struck up a romance.

And then there is something else, a secret that lies buried in Jack’s past, one he hopes isn’t about to be dug up…

Pre-order The Glorious Dead from Amazon UK

The Word for FreedomThe Word For Freedom: Stories Celebrating Women’s Suffrage edited by Amanda Saint (eARC, courtesy of Random Things Tours)

A collection of 24 short stories celebrating a hundred years of women’ suffrage, from both established and emerging authors, all of whom have been inspired by the suffragettes and whose stories, whether set in 1918, the current day or the future, focus on the same freedoms that those women fought for so courageously.

A clerk of works at the Palace of Westminster encounters Emily Davison in a broom cupboard; a mermaid dares to tread on land to please the man she loves; a school girl friendship makes the suffragette protests relevant to the modern day; a mother leaves her child for a tree; an online troll has to face his target; and a woman caught in modern day slavery discovers a chance for freedom in a newspaper cutting.

These stories and many more come together in a collection that doesn’t shy away from the reality of a woman’s world, which has injustices and inequalities alongside opportunities and hard-won freedoms, but always finds strength, bravery and hope.

Pre-order The Word for Freedom from Amazon UK

Paris in the DarkParis in the Dark(Christopher Marlowe Cobb #4) by Robert Olen Butler (ARC, courtesy of No Exit Press and Random Things Tours)

Autumn 1915. World War I is raging across Europe but Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches – though that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front.

Christopher “Kit” Cobb, a Chicago reporter with a second job as undercover agent for the U.S. government, is officially in Paris doing a story on American ambulance drivers, but his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, soon broadens his mission. City-dwelling civilians are meeting death by dynamite in a new string of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to figure out who is behind them – possibly a German operative who has snuck in with the waves of refugees coming in from the provinces and across the border in Belgium. But there are elements in this pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits, and talents for survival.

Pre-order Paris in the Dark from Amazon UK

Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks (hardcover, library copy)

American postdoctoral researcher Hannah and runaway Moroccan teenager Tariq have little in common, yet both are susceptible to the daylight ghosts of Paris. Hannah listens to the extraordinary witness of women who were present under the German Occupation; in her desire to understand their lives and through them her own, she finds a city bursting with clues and connections. Out in the migrant suburbs, Tariq is searching for a mother he barely knew. For him, in his innocence, each boulevard, Métro station and street corner is a source of surprise.

Paris Echo Let Me Lie

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh (hardcover, library copy)

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

The Price of CompassionThe Price of Compassion (Golden City #4) by A. B. Michaels (ebook, review copy courtesy of HF Virtual Book Tours)

The Golden City is in peril ….and so is Tom Justice

April 18, 1906. San Francisco has just been shattered by a massive earthquake and is in the throes of an even more deadly fire. During the chaos, gifted surgeon Tom Justice makes a life-changing decision that wreaks havoc on his body, mind, and spirit. Leaving the woman he loves, he embarks on a quest to regain his sanity and self-worth. Yet just when he finds some answers, he’s arrested for murder – a crime he may very well be guilty of.

The facts of the case are troubling; they’ll have you asking the question: “What would I have done?”

A House of GhostsA House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan (hardcover, prize courtesy of Bonnier Zaffre and Readers First)

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

Pre-order A House of Ghosts from Amazon UK

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Tuesday –  I joined the blog tour for historical crime thriller, The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry and shared my review of this cracking read set in Elizabethan England.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Hidden Gems.  My list contained books published over a year ago that I rated four or five stars but which still have only a few other reviews on Goodreads.

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 shared my spoiler free introduction to my next Buchan of the Month – Castle Gay by John Buchan.

Saturday – I published my review of Money Power Love by Joss Sheldon.

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Review: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski
  • Book Review: The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason
  • Book Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
  • Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Book Review: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
  • Buchan of the Month/Book Review: Castle Gay by John Buchan
  • Book Review: Blackbird Road (Jake Caldwell #3) by James L. Weaver
  • Book Review: Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks

Book Review: Money Power Love by Joss Sheldon

MoneyPowerLoveAbout the Book

Born on three adjacent beds, a mere three seconds apart, our three heroes are united by nature but divided by nurture. As a result of their different upbringings, they spend their lives chasing three very different things: Money, power and love.

This is a human story: A tale about people like ourselves, cajoled by the whimsy of circumstance, who find themselves performing the most beautiful acts as well as the most vulgar.

This is a historical story: A tale set in the early 1800s, which shines a light on how bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

And this is a love story: A tale about three men, who fall in love with the same woman, at the very same time…

Format: ebook, paperback (298 pp.)             Publisher:
Published: 7th October 2017                           Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Money Power Love on Goodreads

My Review

Nominally set in the 1800s,  the author vividly depicts the sights and sounds of the London streets of the time, such as this description of traders taking advantage of the crowd gathered to witness a hanging.  ‘Surrounding this scrimmage, costermongers were selling just about anything which could be eaten, to just about anyone who could eat.  Their rickety barrows were overflowing with ice-cold oysters and burning hot eels; pies and puddings , crumpets and cough-drops, ginger-beer and gingerbread; pea soup, battered fish, sheep’s trotters, pickled whelks, baked potatoes, ice lollies, cocoa, and peppermint water.’ Characters such as Wilkins (surely the literary doppelganger of the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist) could have come straight out of Dickens, as could many of the character names: Timothy Tyrrell, Bumble Blumstein. There’s even a sneaky reference to a famous opening line from Dickens: ‘They were the best of times.  They were the worst of times.’

Throughout the book, the author’s love of language – at one point a set of steps is described as ‘bodacious’ – and fondness for alliterative pairings is evident (as in the excerpt above).   At the same time, some of the language is deliberately anachronistic – fantabulous, mansplaining.   Readers will either find this amusing or irritating; I was in the former category most of the time.

All three main characters  – Hugo, Archibald and Mayer – have flaws and, despite being friends, their actions don’t always reflect this – especially when it comes to their rivalry for the affections of the same woman. None of the three are especially likeable but then they are really archetypes designed to illustrate the nature versus nurture debate and to demonstrate the consequences of being motivated by love (Hugo), power (Archibald) or money (Mayer).

Arguably, money plays the biggest part in the book as the author explores different forms of exchange that have been used over the centuries: barter, tally sticks, promissory notes.   At one point, Mayer muses: “Why, I’ve already heard of a new invention called ‘Cheques’.  Those could take off.  Maybe one day we’ll create token money, electronic money, or money spent on plastic cards.”   When his partner, Mr Bronze, protests that “money doesn’t grow on a magic money tree”, Mayer responds, “It does, Mr Bronze, and we bankers are its gardeners”.

Each chapter features an epigram from figures ranging from Mark Twain, to Confucius, to Banksy.  The story moves from Georgian London to Manchester, India, Van Diemen’s Land, China and Africa.   Along the way, through the stories of its three main protagonists, the book seeks to shed light on the worst excesses of colonialism and capitalism and to reveal the fragile foundations on which our financial systems are fabricated (note the alliteration please).

The motives of financial institutions and governments are ruthlessly exposed by the author. Here’s Mayer again: “We need charity; it compensates for the worst excesses of capitalism, without challenging the system itself.  It’s an investment which pays dividends; protecting capital from civil unreset.”  And again: “Wars are only ever fought to open up new markets, control resources and amass wealth.  All wars are bankers’ wars.”

Money Power Love is a surreal, satirical romp written with real verve and wit.  By turns funny, challenging, inventive, didactic and thought-provoking, it’s quite unlike any other book I’ve read, which did pose some problems when it came to my ‘Try something similar’ recommendation below*.

Now I’ve finished Money Power Love, I don’t know whether to go and eat some trifle, invest in bitcoins, invade a small country, go mudlarking or buy a backscratcher.  If that sentence intrigues you, why not pick up a copy of the book using one of the purchase links above.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

*For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, while I was reading the book I kept thinking of the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) starring Dennis Price and Alec Guinness.

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In three words: Imaginative, witty, satirical

Try something (possibly not at all) similar…The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding or Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Joss SheldonAbout the Author

Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unchained free-thinker, and post-modernist radical. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London’s beating heart. Then he escaped!  With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.

Then, in 2013, he ran off to McLeod Ganj; an Indian village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his debut novel, Involution & Evolution.  With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. He travelled to Palestine and Kurdistan, where he researched his second novel, Occupied, a dystopian masterpiece unlike any other story you’ve ever read.

It was with his third novel, The Little Voice, that Sheldon really hit the big time, topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and gaining widespread critical acclaim.  Now Sheldon has returned with his fourth and most ambitious novel yet. Money Power Love is a literary mélange of historical, political and economic fiction; a love story that charts the rise of the British Empire, and the way in which bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

Joss’s latest novel, Individutopia, was published in August 2018.

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