This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.
Cold and wet weather kept me indoors for much of last week which helped me catch up on my reading. I finished two books which I'd been reading for a while (No Man's Land and To Name Those Lost) and I snuck in one from my recent library haul (The Farm at the Edge of the World). I'm nearly at the end of the third book I started ages ago (The Spirit Guide) and, true to form, I have more than one book on the go this week.
Of the three books I read last week, No Man's Land was an exceptional read. I'd only read the first 50 pages when I picked it up again Friday evening and by Sunday evening I'd read the last page. No mean feat considering the book is 566 pages in length. This book has an excellent plot, lots of historical detail (social and political) and a very engaging character in Adam Raine.
The down side of last week is that my tablet refused to charge, so it looks like I may have to purchase a new battery or a new tablet. I'm a little annoyed, no I'm very annoyed, as my tablet is only two years old. This has disrupted my ebook reading somewhat as I find reading on my laptop uncomfortable. I like to read curled up on the sofa or in bed, not at the dining table or trying to balance the laptop on my knees. So the two books I hope to read next depend on how fast I sort out this little problem.
What I Read Last Week
No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien
From the slums of London to the riches of an Edwardian country house; from the hot, dark seams of a Yorkshire coalmine to the exposed terrors of the trenches, Adam Raine’s journey from boy to man is set against the backdrop of a society violently entering the modern world.
Adam Raine is a boy cursed by misfortune. His impoverished childhood in the slums of Islington is brought to an end by a tragedy that sends him north to Scarsdale, a hard-living coalmining town where his father finds work as a union organizer. But it isn’t long before the escalating tensions between the miners and their employer, Sir John Scarsdale, explode with terrible consequences.
In the aftermath, Adam meets Miriam, the Rector’s beautiful daughter, and moves into Scarsdale Hall, an opulent paradise compared with the life he has been used to before. But he makes an enemy of Sir John’s son, Brice, who subjects him to endless petty cruelties for daring to step above his station.
When love and an Oxford education beckon, Adam feels that his life is finally starting to come together – until the outbreak of war threatens to tear everything apart.
To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson
Summer 1874, and Launceston teeters on the brink of anarchy. After abandoning his wife and child many years ago, the Black War veteran Thomas Toosey must return to the city to search for William, his now motherless twelve-year-old son. He travels through the island's northern districts during a time of impossible hardship - hardship that has left its mark on him too. Arriving in Launceston, however, Toosey discovers a town in chaos. He is desperate to find his son amid the looting and destruction, but at every turn he is confronted by the Irish transportee Fitheal Flynn and his companion, the hooded man, to whom Toosey owes a debt that he must repay.
To Name Those Lost is the story of a father's journey. Wilson has an eye for the dirt, the hardness, the sheer dog-eat-doggedness of the lives of the poor. Human nature is revealed in all its horror and beauty as Thomas Toosey struggles with the good and the vile in himself and learns what he holds important.
The Farm at the Edge of the World
1939, and Will and Alice are evacuated to a granite farm in north Cornwall, perched on a windswept cliff. There they meet the farmer's daughter, Maggie, and against fields of shimmering barley and a sky that stretches forever, enjoy a childhood largely protected from the ravages of war.
But in the sweltering summer of 1943 something happens that will have tragic consequences. A small lie escalates. Over 70 years on Alice is determined to atone for her behaviour - but has she left it too late?
2014, and Maggie's granddaughter Lucy flees to the childhood home she couldn't wait to leave thirteen years earlier, marriage over; career apparently ended thanks to one terrible mistake. Can she rebuild herself and the family farm? And can she help her grandmother, plagued by a secret, to find some lasting peace?
What I'm Reading Today
The Spirit Guide by Elizabeth Davies
Seren has an unusual gift – she sees spirits, the shades of the dead.
Terrified of being accused of witchcraft, a very real possibility in twelfth century Britain, she keeps her secret close, not even confiding in her husband.
But when she gives her heart and soul to a man who guides spirits in the world beyond the living, she risks her secret and her life for their love.
The Relevations of Carey Ravine by Debra Dailey
London the 1770s is bursting with opportunity. It's a city fuelled by new ideas and new money, where everything is for sale - including entrée into the ruling class.
Making their way in this buccaneering society are Carey Ravine, a spirited young woman of enigmatic background, and her husband, the charming, endlessly enterprising Oliver Nash. Carey and Nash share a historic connection to India and a desperate ambition to better themselves. But as Nash's plans draw them into a restless association of gamblers and secret societies, Carey begins to question what's really hidden behind the seedy glamour of their lives. Her unease grows with the appearance of a mysterious man whose appearance unearths a troubling secret from the past. Carey finds herself forced to investigate the truth behind the stranger's claims - and to confront her own illusions about herself.
Fire by C.C. Humphreys
Fires don't start by themselves. They need someone to light them. What are friends for?
As the Great Plague of London loosens its grip at last, Charles II's court moves back to the city, the theatres reopen and a new year arrives.
1666. It cannot be more terrible than the previous year, surely?
But it can. For many will strive to make it so; to finally rid London of the curse that brought the plague upon it. A wholesale cleansing is required if society is to be born again.
What's more it seems that a serial killer who stalked hand in hand with the Plague might not be dead after all. Together with actress Sarah Chalker, highwayman William Coke and thief-taker Pitman come together as one, determined to stop the brutal murder of London's rich and poor once and for all.
But another threat is on the way. It hasn't rained in five months. London is a tinderbox--politically, sexually and religiously. The Great Fire of London is about to ignite. And the final confrontation between Coke, Pitman and Sarah Chalker and their murderous adversary will be decided against a background of apocalypse.
Dust on the Horizon by Tricia Stringer
1881. Joseph Baker works hard on his pastoral lease at Smith's Ridge, in the beautiful but harsh land of the Flinders Ranges. For Joseph this lease, lost to his family in the early days of settlement, offers a future for his young family and that of his Aboriginal friend, the loyal and courageous Binda. Joseph is a clever man, but it is a hard land to work and drought is once more upon the country.
New arrivals to the small rural town of Hawker, Henry Wiltshire and young wife Catherine, open a general store and commission business. Unscrupulous but clever, Henry has plans to prosper from the locals' fortunes, and quickly makes powerful friends, but when he throws Binda's family out of his shop, his bigotry makes an immediate enemy of Joseph and a die is cast...
Then the dark force of Jack Aldridge, a man torn between two worlds, crosses their path. Outcast and resentful, he wants what Henry and Joseph have and will stop at nothing to take it.
As the drought widens and the burning heat exhausts the land, Joseph, Henry and Jack's lives become intertwined in a way that none could have predicted. In their final confrontation not all will survive.
This sweeping historical saga takes us into the beautiful and brutal landscape of the Flinders Ranges and through the gold rush, following the fate of three men and the women they love. Men and women whose lives become intertwined by love and deceit until nature itself takes control and changes their destinies forever.
What I Hope To Read Next
Parthena's Promise by Valerie Holmes
England, 1815. London barrister and gentleman, Jerome Fender, has just returned to England after five years as a Captain in the killing fields of the Napoleonic Wars. With the harrowing scenes of battle still haunting his every thought, he sets out to start a new life and to find a wife who will share it with him. Meanwhile recently orphaned 21-year-old Miss Parthena Munro has also arrived at a North Yorkshire market town.She has been sent away by her scheming sole relative, cousin Bertram, to be governess to a local family, only to find that the family has already moved away from the area. Left stranded far from home with no job and no place to stay, Parthena encounters Mr Fender outside an inn, where she takes a chance to steal his money in a witless moment of desperation.
She whispers a promise to return the money one day and makes off across the wild Yorkshire moors. But it’s not long before Fender catches up with her. However, on learning of her plight they set out on a plan to seek justice against the wrongs plotted by Bertram. With Jerome’s help, Parthena returns to her home to the great surprise of Bertram, who, thinking that Parthena, the rightful heir to the estate, was now out of the way, was about to clear his debts by selling the family estate. Jerome endeavours to hatch a new plan to thwart Bertram, but Parthena’s rightful inheritance can only fall to her if she marries within the month. Parthena and Jerome discover the flame of love has been kindled between them, but is it already too late?
Devil of a Fix by Marcus Palliser
1702 in the lawless Caribbean Sea.
Young Matthew Loftus has high hopes for the future of his ship, the Cornelius. Voted captain by his crew to keep the vessel legal by seeking profitable, honest trade, Matthew is determinedly against allowing the Cornelius to be used for piracy and plunder. However, his crew lusts after the spoils that their fast, well-armed ship can win, and when Matthew fails to obtain the promised gold for their goods, discontent begins to rumble. But the threat of mutiny is the least of his worries…
Matthew is wanted by the English Navy for the false charges of piracy and murder; his Navigator, Adam Pyne, is likewise desired on the false charge of desertion. With no wish to fall into the hands of the Admiralty without a chance to prove his innocence, Matthew takes his ship, renamed the Saskia, and her crew and begins a cat-and-mouse game with the English Navy across the Caribbean sea. The English Navy is not the only force to be reckoned with as Matthew must also evade the French and escape the attention of ruthless privateers. His only chance of pardon — the only way he will ever be able to stop running — rests with a secret almanac that promises that great prize: to solve the Longitude. But is the almanac what it seems? As Matthew chases the almanac through wild gales and fierce sea battles, uprisings and reversals of fortune, he never lets go of the belief that everything will be worth it once that almanac is in his hands…