My Week in Books – 3rd December ’17

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals

The Twelve-Mile StraightThe Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson (eARC, NetGalley)

Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies-one light-skinned, the other dark-are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. In the aftermath, the farm’s inhabitants are forced to contend with their complicity in a series of events that left a man dead and a family irrevocably fractured.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. But soon it becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined. As startling revelations mount, a web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the painful truth.

Three Things About ElsieThree Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon (eARC, NetGalley)

There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

ElenaElena by Rupert Colley (ebook, free with newsletter sign-up)

Naples, 1944. Elena, aged twelve, is left orphaned and traumatized by war. But a gift from an American soldier shows her that kindness can still exist in a cruel world.

Post-war, and now a young woman, the memory of the soldier obsesses her. Eleven years after their first meeting, their paths cross again and Elena’s life will never be the same.

 

Beautiful StarBeautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston (paperback, review copy courtesy of The Dome Press)

History is brought alive by the people it affects, rather than those who created it.

In Beautiful Star we meet Eilmer, a monk in 1010 with Icarus-like dreams; Charles I, hiding in 1651, and befriended by a small boy; the trial of Jane Wenham, witch of Walkern, seen through the eyes of her granddaughter. This is a moving and affecting journey through time, bringing a new perspective to the defence of Corfe Castle, the battle of Waterloo, the siege of Toulon and, in the title story, the devastating dangers of the life of the sea in 1875.

Cold, Cold HeartCold, Cold Heart (Katie Flanagan #2) by Christine Poulson (eARC, courtesy of the author)

After the events of Deep Water, scientist Katie Flanagan has gained an undeserved reputation as a troublemaker. Her research career has foundered. When an accident creates an opening at an Antarctic station, she seizes the opportunity, flying in on the last plane before winter and the months of darkness close off all escape routes. Unfortunately for Katie, a revenge-seeking killer is at large at the station. Meanwhile patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont has been asked by a venture capitalist to conduct background research into a company involved in Antarctic experiments. His investigations threaten to uncover scientific fraud and expose powerful individuals, some of them at the Antarctic station. Hitting too close to the truth, Daniel’s sleuthing puts Katie in fresh danger. Then the power at the research station fails. Will the killer help save them all . . . or kill them one by one?

The Mermaid & Mrs HancockThe Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (eARC, NetGalley)

This voyage is special. It will change everything…

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost. Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman. Loads of my fellow book bloggers have raved about this book and I now know why. I loved lots of things about it but managed to reduce it down to just ten.

Tuesday – I shared my review of a chilling set of cautionary tales, The Sixth Man by Rupert Colley. I also compiled my list of the Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR List. Anyone who knows me will realise there are far more than ten books on my TBR. How many? Er….shall we just move on?

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 – As part of the Throwback Thursday meme I published my review of The Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan, a really interesting coming-of-age story set in Colombia. Thursday is fast becoming the day where I review books that have been far too long in my review pile. Watch out for another one next week!

Friday – I was delighted to help publicise the publication day of A Queen’s Traitor by Sam Burnell, the follow-up to A Queen’s Spy (which is still languishing in my review pile. It’s in good company. Oh dear).

Saturday –I shared My 5 Favourite November Reads. It was a hard choice as I read a lot (for me) of books last month – 19, in fact – and most of them were really good.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 150 out of 156 books read, 3 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 5 out of 50 books reviewed, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 44 ARCs reviewed out of 50, same as last week
  • From Page to Screen 2016/7– 7 book/film comparisons out of 12 completed, same as last week
  • From Page to Screen 2017/18 – 1 out of 3 completed, same as last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Review: Death at Glacier Lake by Pam Stucky
  • Review: Fortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes
  • Blog Tour/Q&A: The Tide Between Us by Olive Collins
  • From Page to Screen: Murder on the Orient Express
  • Review: Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti

Christmas 5

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WWW Wednesdays – 29th November ’17

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too? Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

FortunesWheelFortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes (paperback, giveaway prize)

June 1349. In a Hampshire village, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, including Alice atte Wode’s husband and eldest son. The plague arrived only days after Alice’s daughter, Agnes, mysteriously disappeared, and it prevented the search for her. Now the plague is over, the village is trying to return to normal life, but it’s hard, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Conflict is growing between the manor and its tenants, as the workers realise their very scarceness means they’re more valuable than before: they can demand higher wages, take on spare land, and have a better life. This is the chance they’ve all been waiting for. Although she understands their demands, Alice is disheartened that the search for Agnes is once more put on hold. When one of the rebels is killed, and then the lord’s son is found murdered, it seems the two deaths may be connected, both to each other and to Agnes’s disappearance.

DeathAtGlacierLakeDeath at Glacier Lake by Pam Stucky (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

For two decades, the lush, isolated forests of the North Cascades have hidden a secret. Now, twenty years later, a mysterious contest has brought Mindy Harris back to the area she thought she’d left behind forever. A seemingly innocent creative design firm shows up for a company retreat, but all goes awry when one of their own turns up dead. Was it an accident? Murder? And how does the unsolved mystery from twenty years ago play into it all?

Keep Me SafeKeep Me Safe (Seal Island #1) by Daniela Sacerdoti (ebook, NetGalley)

When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered. But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all, falling silent for three days. When she does finally speak, Ava talks about a new place – a small island of beauty, salt and sea in the Western Scottish Isles. In search of a new start, Anna and Ava embark on a journey to the remote and gorgeous Island of Seal. Falling in love with the locals and the landscape, could Seal offer the second chance they both need? 


Recently finished (click on title for review)

TheSummerofImpossibleThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman (hardcover, giveaway prize)

If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death. Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.  At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

TheIceThe Ice by Laline Paull (ebook, NetGalley)

It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.

It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections – and who was the last person to see him alive. Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom’s need to save the world often clashed with Sean’s desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals. But as the inquest into Tom’s death begins, the choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean’s glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment’s table.

Just how deep do the lies go?

TheExistenceofPityThe Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Growing up in a lush valley in the Andes mountains, sixteen-year-old Josie Wales is mostly isolated from the turbulence brewing in 1976 Colombia. As the daughter of missionaries, Josie feels torn between their beliefs and the need to choose for herself. She soon begins to hide things from her parents, like her new boyfriend, her trips into the city, and her explorations into different religions. Josie eventually discovers her parents’ secrets are far more insidious. When she attempts to unravel the web of lies surrounding her family, each thread stretches to its breaking point. Josie tries to save her family, but what happens if they don’t want to be saved? (Review to follow 30th November)

TheSixthManThe Sixth Man by Rupert Colley (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Sometimes we all make the wrong choice.

1943 Nazi-occupied France. Six Frenchmen are in a Nazi prison: a doctor, a postman, a policeman, a soldier, a teacher and a priest. After six months of prison, they are a desperate looking set of men. But, despite their circumstances, they are happy – for tonight is their last night of incarceration. Tomorrow, they will be free men. But then – there’s a change of plan. The French resistance have blown up a German train. Five German soldiers lie dead. Tomorrow, five of the six prisoners will be executed in reprisal. They have until dawn to decide which one of them should be allowed to live. Six happy men are now six desperate frightened souls, victims of the Nazi’s arbitrary justice. The doctor, the postman, the policeman, the soldier, the teacher and the priest. Only one of them will live to see another day. Who will be The Sixth Man?


What Cathy (will) Read Next

TogetherTogether by Julie Cohen (Hardcover)

This is not a great love story. This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

The Good EarthThe Good Earth (House of Earth #1) by Pearl S. Buck (Hardcover)

This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall. Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.