My Week in Books – 15th October ’17


New arrivals

If I say that all the books I purchased this week were on my To-Read shelf on Goodreads, does that make it any better?

Hidden FiguresHidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (ebook, Kindle deal)

Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these was a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘colored computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.

At First LightAt First Light by Vanessa Lafaye (ebook, Kindle deal)

1993, Key West, Florida: When a Ku Klux Klan official is shot in broad daylight, all eyes turn to the person holding the gun: a 96-year-old Cuban woman who will say nothing except to admit her guilt. 1919: Mixed-race Alicia Cortez arrives in Key West exiled in disgrace from her family in Havana. At the same time, damaged war hero John Morales returns home on the last US troop ship from Europe. As love draws them closer in this time of racial segregation, people are watching, including Dwayne Campbell, poised on the brink of manhood and struggling to do what’s right. And then the Ku Klux Klan comes to town…

AfterlifeAfterlife by Marcus Sakey (ebook, Kindle deal)

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story. The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion – a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people – until he sees they’re carrying machetes. Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic. Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody. But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect – and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

The Shadow HourThe Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan (ebook, Kindle deal)

1922: Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house’s inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother’s tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house’s very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own. Why has she been sent here? Why did her grandmother leave after just one summer? And as the past collides with the present, can Grace unravel these secrets and discover who her grandmother, and who she, really is?

The Cottingley SecretThe Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (ebook, Kindle deal)

1917: When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, announce they have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when the great novelist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, endorses the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a sensation; their discovery offering something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript and a photograph in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story of the two young girls who mystified the world. As Olivia is drawn into events a century ago, she becomes aware of the past and the present intertwining, blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, will Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

This Must Be the PlaceThis Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell (ebook, Kindle deal)

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn, and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex–film star given to pulling a gun on anyone who ventures up their driveway. Claudette was once the most glamorous and infamous woman in cinema before she staged her own disappearance and retreated to blissful seclusion in an Irish farmhouse.  But the life Daniel and Claudette have so carefully constructed is about to be disrupted by an unexpected discovery about a woman Daniel lost touch with twenty years ago. This revelation will send him off-course, far away from wife, children and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (ebook, Kindle deal)

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

MyMother'sShadowMy Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott (paperback, giveaway prize)

It’s 1958 and Elizabeth Holloway has been sent away from her London home to spend the summer at Hartland, a beautiful, rambling country estate by the Sussex coast. To lovely, innocent Elizabeth, the Shaws are the height of sophistication and they treat her as one of their own, but when she falls in love, no one warns her that her dreams are dangerously naïve. Forty years later, Elizabeth’s daughter Addie finds a stranger on her doorstep, a woman claiming to be her twin sister. At first, Addie refuses to believe it — until her beloved father admits that the circumstances surrounding her birth were not what she’d been led to believe. The discovery challenges everything Addie thought she knew about the brilliant, difficult woman that was her mother. And as their journey takes them back to Elizabeth’s past, Addie and her new sister Phoebe uncover the extraordinary story of a lost child, a mother’s secret, and one golden summer that changed a woman’s life forever.

The Mangle Street MurdersThe Mangle Street Murders (The Gower Street Detective #1) by M R C Kasasian (ebook, Kindle deal)

After her father dies, March Middleton has to move to London to live with her guardian, Sidney Grice, the country’s most famous private detective. It is 1882 and London is at its murkiest yet most vibrant, wealthiest yet most poverty-stricken. No sooner does March arrive than a case presents itself: a young woman has been brutally murdered, and her husband is the only suspect. The victim’s mother is convinced of her son-in-law’s innocence, and March is so touched by her pleas she offers to cover Sidney s fee herself. The investigations lead the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End: every twist leads Sidney Grice to think his client is guilty; but March is convinced that he is innocent. Around them London reeks with the stench of poverty and gossip, the case threatens to boil over into civil unrest and Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger.

The Curse of the House of FoskettThe Curse of the House of Foskett (The Gower Street Detective #2) M R C Kasasian (ebook, Kindle deal)

125 Gower Street, 1882: Sidney Grice once had a reputation as London’s most perspicacious personal detective. But since his last case led an innocent man to the gallows, business has been light. Listless and depressed, Grice has taken to lying in the bath for hours, emerging in the evenings for a little dry toast and a lot of tea. Usually a voracious reader, he will pick up neither book nor newspaper. He has not even gathered the strength to re-insert his glass eye. His ward, March Middleton, has been left to dine alone. Then an eccentric member of a Final Death Society has the temerity to die on his study floor. Finally Sidney and March have an investigation to mount – an investigation that will draw them to an eerie house in Kew, and the mysterious Baroness Foskett…

The Last HoursThe Last Hours by Minette Walters (eARC, NetGalley)

For most, the Black Death is the end. For a brave few, it heralds a new beginning. When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly. The Church cites God as the cause, and religious fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness. But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas. Educated by nuns, Anne is a rarity among women, being both literate and knowledgeable. With her brutal husband absent from Develish when news of this pestilence reaches her, she takes the decision to look for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. Well-versed in the importance of isolating the sick from the well, she withdraws her people inside the moat that surrounds her manor house and refuses entry even to her husband. She makes an enemy of her daughter and her husband’s steward by doing so, but her resolve is strengthened by the support of her leading serfs… until food stocks run low and the nerves of all are tested by continued confinement and ignorance of what is happening in the world outside. The people of Develish are alive. But for how long? And what will they discover when the time comes for them to cross the moat?

In The DarkIn the Dark by Andreas Pflüger (ebook, review copy courtesy of Head of Zeus)

Jenny Aaron was a government assassin, part of an elite unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was one of the best, until a disastrous mission ended with her abandoning a wounded colleague and then going blind from her injuries. Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world, but is haunted by betraying her colleague. When she is called back to the force to trace a ruthless serial killer, she seizes the opportunity to solve the case and restore her honour.

DISTRICT VIIIDistrict VIII by Adam LeBor (ebook, review copy courtesy of Head of Zeus)

Life’s tough for a Gypsy cop in Budapest. The cops don’t trust you because you’re a Gypsy. Your fellow Gypsies, even your own family, shun you because you’re a cop. The dead, however, don’t care.  Balthazar Kovacs of the Budapest murder squad is in the middle of his first cup of coffee when a mysterious text message arrives. There were three words: ’26, Republic Square’, and a photograph. The photo shows a man in his early thirties, lying on his back with his eyes open, half-covered by bricks and dust. The address, the former Communist Party headquarters, was once the most feared building in the country. But when Kovacs arrives at Republic Square, the body has gone and his only lead is the word of a Gypsy kid who saw the corpse bundled into an unmarked van… Kovacs’ investigation will take him deep into Budapest’s shadows, an underworld visitors never get to see: the gritty back-alleys of District VIII; the endemic corruption that reaches deep into the government; a rule of law bent to serve the interests of the elite; the rising power of international organized crime and the ghosts of Communism and Nazism that still haunt Hungary.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I featured a Q&A with Libbet Bradstreet, author of Bells of Avalon.

Tuesday – I took part in the blog tour for The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson, sharing my review of this wonderful book.

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 welcomed Shaun Ebelthite to What Cathy Read Next to be quizzed about his book White Water, Black Death.

Thursday – I took part in the blog tour for The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller sharing my review of this historical mystery set in the Roman Empire of the 5th century.

Friday – In 10 Blogging Milestones to Celebrate, I listed some milestones all bloggers can celebrate achieving.

Saturday – I published my review of The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler as part of the blog tour for this bibliophile’s dream book.

Sunday – I welcomed Graham Masterton to talk about his book, The Coven.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 123 out of 156 books read, 6 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 5 out of 50 books reviewed, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 50 ARCs reviewed out of 50, 1 more than 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 – none yet completed

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • From Page to Screen: A Man Called Ove
  • Q&A: Fires by Tom Ward
  • Q&A: Zenka by Alison Brodie
  • Review: Monsoon Rising by David Lee Corley
  • Review: The Last Hours by Minette Walters
  • Review: On the Edge of Sunrise by Cynthia Ripley Miller
  • Q&A: Lying in Vengeance by Gary Corbin
  • Review: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
  • Blog Tour/Review: Home is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire

My Week in Books


New arrivals

There were a lot of new arrivals this week as I hit a lucky streak on the giveaway front and indulged in some Kindle daily and monthly deals – but only for books already on my Goodreads wishlist, I should add…

AbideWithMeAbide With Me by Elizabeth Strout (ebook, 99p)

Katherine is only five-years-old. Struck dumb with grief at her mother’s death, it is down to her father, the heartbroken minister Tyler Caskey, to bring his daughter out of silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy. But Tyler Caskey is barely surviving himself. His cold, church-assigned home is colder still since Lauren’s death, and he struggles to find the right words for his sermons; struggles to be a leader to his congregation when he himself is lost. When Katherine’s schoolteacher calls to discuss his daughter’s anti-social behaviour, it sparks a chain of events that begins to tear down Tyler’s defences. The small-town rumour-mill has much to make of Katherine’s odd behaviour, and even more to say about Tyler’s relationship with his housekeeper, Connie Hatch. And in Tyler’s darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation’s humanity – and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all.

LostForWordsLost for Words by Stephanie Butland (ebook, 99p)

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you. Into her refuge – the York book emporium where she works – come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories. Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story? It’s time to turn the pages of her past . . .

SeeWhatIHaveDoneSee What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (ebook, 99p)

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime. Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.


TheRainNeverCameThe Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

In a thirsty, drought-stricken Australia, the country is well and truly sunburnt. As the Eastern states are evacuated to more appealing climates, a stubborn few resist the forced removal. They hide out in small country towns – where no one would ever bother looking. Bill Cook and Tobe Cousins are united in their disregard of the law. Aussie larrikins, they pass their hot, monotonous existence drinking at the barely standing pub. When strange lights appear across the Western sky, it seems that those embittered by the drought are seeking revenge. And Bill and Tobe are in their path. In the heat of the moment secrets will be revealed, and survival can’t be guaranteed.

TheThingsWeLearnWhenWereDeadThe Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw (paperback, review copy courtesy of the author)

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all? At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home.

TheSummerofImpossibleThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman (hardback, 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?

OrendaBooksGiveawayWe Shall Inherit the Wind, Where Roses Never Die and Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen (paperbacks, giveaway prize)

We Shall Inherit the Wind: 1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears.

Where Roses Never Die: September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiration date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge.

Wolves in the Dark: Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts. When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material . . . and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest—and most personal—case yet.

ItWasOnlyEverYouIt Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan (paperback, review copy courtesy of Head of Zeus)

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality. But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Book Reviews

On Sunday I published my review of Did You Whisper Back? by Kate Rigby, a tense psychological mystery. Independence Day in the US saw the publication of Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark and I was pleased to celebrate its book birthday by sharing my review of this exciting thriller. On Thursday I shared my review of A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls, a tense, engaging thriller set in Colombia and informed by the author’s own real life experience of living in that troubled country.

Other posts

I joined other bloggers in the 6 Degrees of Separation meme, with this month’s starting point being the iconic novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. You can find out how I got from there to The Summer House Party by Caro Fraser here.  Wednesday has become WWW Wednesday, where I and other book bloggers share what we’ve been reading, are currently reading and plan to read next.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading ChallengeCompleted (82 out of 78 books read, 4 more than last week). I still need to set that new target….
  • Classics Club Challenge– 2 out of 50 books reviewed (same as last week)
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 38 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (same as last week)
  • From Page to Screen 2017– 7 book/film comparisons out of 12 completed (same as last week)
  • The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist 2017Completed

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Review: The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
  • Book Review: Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman
  • Book Blitz: Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin
  • Meme: WWW Wednesday
  • Book Review: Shelter by Sarah Franklin
  • Blog Tour/Guest Post: Marry Me at Willoughby Close by

Reviews to be added to NetGalley

  • None just at the moment

My Week in Books


New arrivals

ASeaofStrawA Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton (ebook, 99p)

Will a man walk two thousand kilometres for a woman? In 1967, Zé will. Salazar’s Portugal has become a prison for him.

1966: When Jody, young mother and designer from the north of England, arrives on the Lisbon coast, she brings the lure of ‘Swinging London’ to Portuguese painter Zé’s existing dreams of freedom. A nascent love is interrupted when, back in England, husband Michael forces her to choose between their 2-year-old daughter Anna and Zé. And Zé, at home in Lisbon and grounded by the state’s secret police, can only wait.

For both Jody and Zé, love is revolution. And personal and political threads weave their story, a period piece set amid the then socially conservative North of England, the light and rugged landscapes of modern Portugal, and the darkness of the dying years of Europe’s longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw, with its pervading atmosphere of saudades, is a quest for love in revolutionary times.

Block46Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson (ebook, 99p)

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

TheWardrobeMistressThe Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath (eARC, NetGalley)

January 1947. London is in ruins, there’s nothing to eat, and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. To make matters worse, Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day, has suddenly died. His widow Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is beside herself with grief. Then one night she discovers Gricey’s secret. Plunged into a dark new world, she realises that the war isn’t over after all.


BrokenBranchesBroken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee (paperback, advance reader copy courtesy of Hideaway Fall)

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’ A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family. There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

TheVersionsofUsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (ebook, 99p)

What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything… One Day meets Sliding Doors in this outstanding debut that is causing a buzz across the publishing world. Some moments can change your life forever. Have you ever wondered, what if…? A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life. Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them.

MajorPettigrewsLastStandMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (ebook, 99p)

Major Ernest Pettigrew is perfectly content to lead a quiet life in the sleepy village of Edgecombe St Mary, away from the meddling of the locals and his overbearing son. But when his brother dies, the Major finds himself seeking companionship with the village shopkeeper, Mrs Ali. Drawn together by a love of books and the loss of their partners, they are soon forced to contend with irate relatives and gossiping villagers. The perfect gentleman, but the most unlikely hero, the Major must ask himself what matters most: family obligation, tradition or love? Funny, comforting and heart-warming, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand proves that sometimes, against all odds, life does give you a second chance.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Book Reviews

On Thursday I published my review of A Countess in Limbo: Diaries in War and Revolution, the journals of Countess Olga Hendrikoff, edited by her great niece, Sue Carscallen. Absolutely fascinating memoirs of living through the Russian Revolution and the occupation of France during WW2.   Saturday saw my review of Widdershins, the debut novel by Helen Steadman, inspired by the true story of the witch trials that took place in 17th century Newcastle.

Other posts

On Monday, I shared a post entitled Temptations of a Book Blogger which really seemed to strike a chord with a lot of other bloggers. It appears many of us are prey to temptation on the blogging front! On Tuesday I took part in the book blitz for Dawn Girl by Leslie Wolfe, a gripping thriller about a serial killer. My guest on Wednesday was David Smith, author of Letters to Strabo, who shared an interview with the book’s fictional narrator. On Friday, I was thrilled to join the blog tour for Sugar, Sugar: Bitter-sweet Tales of Indian Migrant Workers by Lainy Malkani. Lainy was kind enough to answer some questions about her debut short story collection – well worth a read.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 62 out of 78 books read (3 more than last week)
  • Classics Club – 2 out of 50 books reviewed (same as last week)
  • NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 33 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (same as last week)
  • From Page to Screen – 6 book/film comparisons completed (same as last week)
  • The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist 2017 – 3 out of 7 read (same as last week)

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Review: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
  • Book Review: Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett & Ken Mitchroney
  • Author Q&A: The Last Train by Michael Pronko
  • Book Review: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
  • Book Review: The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway

Reviews to be added to NetGalley

Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett & Ken Mitchroney

My Week In Books

calendarNew arrivals

A much needed, quiet week for acquisitions.  I’ve been able to catch up on reviews, NetGalley ARCs and preparation for blog tours….  I almost feel in control!

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?

TheFallThe Fall by Martin Lee (ebook, free)

It’s 1998, and Michael O’Neill arrives in Singapore, on his latest mission. His taxi driver recognises him as a famous actor, but long before that, he was a young soldier with the Manchester Regiment, stationed in Singapore.

Manchester, 1938. There’s no jobs to be had, and Reg Dwyer has children to clothe and feed, so he enlists in the army, certain he’ll never see action. He’s sent to Singapore, where he must overcome the stifling heat and the constant longing he feels for his wife Marjorie and his three children by writing endless letters home. The Manchester Regiment is a good bunch of lads, and they all get on, mostly.  Then there’s Michael O’Neill, an Irish lad. Being a soldier is not for him, and the others think he is doolally. But when it comes time to fight, he takes orders better than any of them.  And then there’s Sergeant Percy B Shelley who works tirelessly to keep the men in line and ready to fight. And then war breaks out and Manchester is bombed. And on a hazy February Day in 1942, everything changes for the Manchester Regiment, when Lieutenant Whitehead gives an order no soldier should have to follow. Now, fifty years later, Michael O’Neill, in the biggest role of his life, returns to say goodbye to the men he knew as lads, who never got to see Manchester again.

YouCantMakeOldFriendsYou Can’t Make Old Friends by Tom Trott (ebook, free)

Blacklisted by the police. Being sued by a client. And broke. Things can’t get any worse for Brighton’s No.1 Private Detectiv e, Joe Grabarz, in this blistering debut novel from award-winning writer Tom Trott.That’s when his best friend’s body washes up on the beach. Could it really have been ten years? What happened? How could his life have ended like this? He needs answers. But with the city in the grips of organised crime, and struggling to deal with an influx of legal highs, who cares about just another dead drug dealer? Joe, that’s who. After all, you can’t make old friends.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Book Reviews

On Wednesday I published my review of The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh, a historical mystery with a feisty heroine.   I’m great fan of Marina Fiorato’s historical fiction and her latest book, Crimson & Bone is a dark, compelling gothic melodrama. I shared my review as part of the blog tour on Friday.   There’s a giveaway as well – a chance to win a hardback copy of Crimson & Bone (UK/ROI only) – make sure you enter!  Saturday saw my review of Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy. Set in Roman Britain in AD98, this was a cracking, action-packed read and, I hope, the start of a series.

Other posts

On Monday, I shared a list of 10 Book Blogs I Love, risking the wrath of all those other wonderful bloggers I missed off my list! On Tuesday I featured a Q&A with Simon Bourke, author of And The Birds Kept on Singing. Simon shared the inspiration behind this, his debut novel. On Thursday, I was delighted to put another indie author was in the spotlight – S. R. Wilsher, author of The Good Father.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 59 out of 78 books read (2 more than last week)
  • Classics Club – 2 out of 50 books reviewed (same as last week)
  • NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 33 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (2 more than last week)
  • From Page to Screen – 6 book/film comparisons completed (same as last week)
  • The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist 2017 – 3 out of 7 read (same as last week)

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Blitz: Dawn Girl by Leslie Wolfe
  • Guest Post: Letters to Strabo by David Smith
  • Blog Tour/Q&A: Sugar, Sugar by Lainy Malkani
  • Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Reviews to be added to NetGalley

  • Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett & Ken Mitchroney

How was your week in books?  Pulitzer prize winning or slush pile candidate?

My Month in Books – April 2017

Reading list Ten books read in April with a concentrated effort to get up-to-date with ARCs from NetGalley in order to maintain my 80% feedback ratio and meet blog tour and review request commitments.

5 out of 5 reads:

  • Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

4 out of 5 reads:

  • The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  • The X-Variant by Rosemary Cole
  • Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah
  • Across Great Divides by Monique Roy
  • Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl
  • Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King

3 out of 5 reads:

  • The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet
  • Exodus ’95 by Kfir Luzzatto
  • Sanctuary by T. M. Brown

MotheringMy read of the month (not difficult to guess) was Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. Despite being a slim book, it’s packed with luscious writing and wonderful observation of people and their motives. (Oops, I’ve still got to write my review of it yet!) To my mind, it’s definitely worthy of its place on the shortlist for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. It may even be my favourite to win – but I’ll tell you that when I’ve read the rest of the shortlisted books.

Blog news A busy month with 35 posts consisting of book reviews, cover reveals, book blitzes, Q&As, extracts, giveaways and reading updates. I also created a new page to track my challenge to read all the shortlisted novels for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.


  • Goodreads – At the end of April, I’d read 51 books out of my target of 78. So, well ahead of schedule…
  • Classics Club – On the other hand, no progress to report and (dismal failure) I even failed to read my spin book by the deadline of 1st May. However, in my defence, I did draw The Last Man by Mary Shelley which is a long book….
  • From Page to Screen – One article posted, my comparison of the book and film versions of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • NetGalley & Edelweiss Challenge – Going well as I’ve managed to maintain my 80% feedback ratio for another month.

So that’s my month in books – how was yours?