It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

I was very pleased with my reading efforts last week. I finally finished the last of my long term reads, The Spirit Guide. What a great historical-paranormal romance! Lots of historical detail of 12th century Wales and the paranormal aspect was woven in so well that it was completely believable. A few twists and turns kept the plot alive to the final showdown with the villain of the piece and all was resolved in an unexpected but very satisfactory way. Fire was another good read from C.C. Humphreys involving Fifth Monarchists and their plot to remove Charles II and as always C.S. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries are quick and entertaining reads.

With the weather being fine over the past few days I've been out in the garden weeding and enjoying the sunshine. Not much reading has taken place, though I'm enjoying all three current reads and looking forward to what I  plan to read next.

What I Read Last Week

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.



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.

Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris

Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime brutality and betrayal that nearly destroyed him.
As the search for the killer leads Sebastian into a treacherous web of duplicity, he discovers that Pelletan was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to investigate the possibility of peace with Britain. Despite his powerful father-in-law’s warnings, Sebastian plunges deep into the mystery of the "Lost Dauphin”, the boy prince who disappeared in the darkest days of the French Revolution, and soon finds himself at lethal odds with the Dauphin’s sister—the imperious, ruthless daughter of Marie Antoinette—who is determined to retake the French crown at any cost.
With the murderer striking ever closer, Sebastian must battle new fears about Hero’s health and that of their soon-to-be born child. When he realizes the key to their survival may lie in the hands of an old enemy, he must finally face the truth about his own guilt in a past he has found too terrible to consider.... 


Who Buries the Dead by C.S. Harris

London, 1813. The vicious decapitation of Stanley Preston, a wealthy, socially ambitious plantation owner, at Bloody Bridge draws Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, into a macabre and increasingly perilous investigation. The discovery near the body of an aged lead coffin strap bearing the inscription King Charles, 1648 suggests a link between this killing and the beheading of the deposed seventeenth-century Stuart monarch. Equally troubling, the victim’s kinship to the current Home Secretary draws the notice of Sebastian’s powerful father-in-law, Lord Jarvis, who will exploit any means to pursue his own clandestine ends.
Working in concert with his fiercely independent wife, Hero, Sebastian finds his inquiries taking him from the wretched back alleys of Fish Street Hill to the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair as he amasses a list of suspects who range from an eccentric Chelsea curiosity collector to the brother of an unassuming but brilliantly observant spinster named Jane Austen.
But as one brutal murder follows another, it is the connection between the victims and ruthless former army officer Sinclair, Lord Oliphant, that dramatically raises the stakes. Once, Oliphant nearly destroyed Sebastian in a horrific wartime act of carnage and betrayal. Now the vindictive former colonel might well pose a threat not only to Sebastian but to everything—and everyone—Sebastian holds most dear.


What I'm Reading Today


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.


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.


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?


What I Hope To Read Next

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…


The Cedar Cutter by Tea Cooper


Wollombi: 1855. When Roisin Ogilvie moves to Wollombi her thoughts are only of protecting her illegitimate son, Ruan, from the grasps of his powerful and dangerous father. Posing as an impoverished widow, she settles into a quiet existence as a local dressmaker. She doesn’t expect to catch the attention of Irish champion cedar cutter Carrick O’Connor, or any other man for that matter.
Carrick O’Connor may have won the coveted Wollombi Wood Chop, but his mind is on the beautiful seamstress and her son. Or rather, on who they remind him of. Determined to exact revenge for the horrors of his past, Carrick plans to return to Ireland to seek revenge on the land agent who was responsible for the death of his wife and child, and his transportation. Then, hopefully, he can return to Wollombi to start life afresh.
But a murder charge, a kidnapping, a growing attraction, and a past that refuses to stay silent will turn both his and Roisin’s lives upside down and will lead them to a hard choice. Redemption? Or cutters’ justice?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


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…


Book Review: The Blood on My Hands by Shannon O'Leary

The Blood  on My Hands is Shannon O'Leary's memoir of growing up in Australia during the 1960s/70s.  It recounts the terrible domestic abuse that Shannon, her mother and brothers suffered at the hands of her father, a serial killer who suffered from a  multiple personality disorder.

Aside from the horrific acts of physical and mental cruelty that dominate this book, there is one other fact that stands out : the lack of help available to the family despite repeated appeals to doctors, police, the Church and relatives. Attitudes and laws have changed over the years, but it is still hard to believe that back then no one wanted to get involved and that the family was left to deal with the situation the best way they could.

The Blood on My Hands is not an easy book to read due to its subject matter and the uncomfortable feelings it evokes.  Often sickened by what I was reading, I set it aside a number of times but was drawn back to it hoping that the family's ordeal would end. It did, eventually, with the death of Shannon's father.

This review was difficult to write and as you can see I haven't gone into too much detail. I believe this book was written as a form of closure and I hope Shannon has achieved her aim, though I doubt she will ever be completely free of these memories.

Can I recommend you read this book? No, but it should be read, if only to acknowledge the courage it took for Shannon O'Leary to expose her childhood to the world and her part in her father's horrendous crimes. Simply told, this is a powerful story and one that I will never forget.


I received a free copy of this book from Book Publicity Services.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.


I made a promise to myself last week that I would finish all the books I'm currently reading before starting a new one. Well, I had every intention of keeping my promise. I'd made good progress with what I was reading, even finishing one book, The House Between Tides, and was on track to finish the others when I realised that the new novel by M.K. Tod, Time and Regret, was due for release on August 16th and I hadn't even started the review copy in my possession. So, I set aside what I was currently reading. Once I'd finished Time and Regret, the mood was on me to read the next two books in the Sebstian St. Cyr mysteries. For some strange reason, I always read two in a row. Possibly because they are such quick reads.

I loved all the books I read last week and I'm still enjoying my current reads, which I hopefully will finish this week. Now all I have to do is catch up on some review writing.

What I Read Last Week

When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris

Regency England, August 1812: Sebastian St. Cyr’s plans to escape the heat of London for a honeymoon with his new bride, Hero Jarvis, are shattered when the murdered body of Hero’s good friend Gabrielle Tennyson is discovered drifting in a battered boat at the site of a long-vanished castle known as Camlet Moat. Missing and also presumed dead are Gabrielle’s two young cousins. Still struggling to define the nature of their new marriage, Sebastian and Hero find themselves occasionally working at cross-purposes as their investigation uncovers dark secrets at the heart of the Tennyson family and an enigmatic young French lieutenant who is concealing mysteries of his own.
Sebastian and Hero’s race to unmask a ruthless killer and unravel the puzzle of the missing children puts both their lives and their growing love for each other at risk as they’re threatened by powerful men in high places…and by a tall, dark stranger who may hold the key to Sebastian’s own parentage.


What Darkness Brings by C.S. Harris


Regency England, September 1812: After a long night spent dealing with the tragic death of a former military comrade, a heart-sick Sebastian learns of a new calamity: Russell Yates, the dashing, one-time privateer who married Kat a year ago, has been found standing over the corpse of Benjamin Eisler, a wealthy gem dealer. Yates insists he is innocent, but he will surely hang unless Sebastian can unmask the real killer.
For the sake of Kat, the woman he once loved and lost, Sebastian plunges into a treacherous circle of intrigue. Although Eisler’s clients included the Prince Regent and the Emperor Napoleon, he was a despicable man with many enemies and a number of dangerous, well-kept secrets—including a passion for arcane texts and black magic. Central to the case is a magnificent blue diamond, believed to have once formed part of the French crown jewels, which disappeared on the night of Eisler’s death. As Sebastian traces the diamond’s ownership, he uncovers links that implicate an eccentric, powerful financier named Hope and stretch back into the darkest days of the French Revolution.
When the killer grows ever more desperate and vicious, Sebastian finds his new marriage to Hero tested by the shadows of his first love, especially when he begins to suspect that Kat is keeping secrets of her own. And as matters rise to a crisis, Sebastian must face a bitter truth—that he has been less than open with the fearless woman who is now his wife.

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

A captivating story of a crumbling estate in the wilds of Scotland, its century-old secret and an enduring mystery.
Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and journeys to Scotland to inspect her inheritance: her ancestral home, now in ruins. As Hetty dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers a shocking secret protected by the house for a hundred years.
With only whispered rumours circulating among the local villagers and a handful of leads to guide her, Hetty finds the power of the past is still affecting her present in startling ways.


Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…
Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.


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.



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.


What I Hope To Read Next

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.


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?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

Once again what I was reading was interrupted by what came in from the library. I'd read the first installment of Belgravia, Julian Fellowes' latest release, on line and while I enjoyed it I decided to wait for the release of the book which suited me better. So when it arrived I had to pick it up immediately. A good plot, lots of believable characters and an interesting portrayal of British society in early Victorian England made for a very entertaining read.

Island of the Swans was a long read for me due to the fact I kept setting it aside to read something else. It too was an interesting look at British society, but this time under George III, and the disenfranchised Scots nobility still dealing with the aftermath of Culloden and the failed Jacobite cause. Lots of romance, historical detail and politics in this book.

The Spirit Guide is still one of the novels I'm reading this week. It has a very powerful beginning, which I'm pleased to say sets the tone for the rest of the book. I've also started The House Between Tides and No Man's Land, another long book, is excellent.

I made a promise to myself this week that I would finish all the books I'm currently reading before starting a new one, so it may be a while before I get to The Revelations of Carey Ravine.

What I Read Last Week

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode.
Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
At the Duchess of Richmond's new legendary ball, one family's life will change forever.




Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware

In this resplendent love story a dazzling era comes vividly to life as one woman's passionate struggle to follow her heart takes her from the opulent cotillions of Edinburgh to the London court of half-mad King George III . . . from a famed salon teeming with politicians and poets to a picturesque castle on the secluded, lush Island of the Swans. . . .
Best friends in childhood, Jane Maxwell and Thomas Fraser wreaked havoc on the cobbled streets of Edinburgh with their juvenile pranks. But years later, when Jane blossoms into a beautiful woman, her feelings for Thomas push beyond the borders of friendship, and he becomes the only man she wants. When Thomas is reportedly killed in the American colonies, the handsome, charismatic Alexander, Duke of Gordon, appeals to a devastated Jane. Believing Thomas is gone forever, Jane hesitantly responds to the Duke, whose passion ignites her blood, even as she rebels at his fierce desire to claim her.
But Thomas Fraser is not dead, and when he returns to find his beloved Jane betrothed to another, he refuses to accept the heartbreaking turn of events. Soon Jane's marriage is swept into a turbulent dance of tender wooing and clashing wills--as Alex seeks truly to make her his, and his alone. . . . 

 
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.



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.


 The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

A captivating story of a crumbling estate in the wilds of Scotland, its century-old secret and an enduring mystery.
Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and journeys to Scotland to inspect her inheritance: her ancestral home, now in ruins. As Hetty dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers a shocking secret protected by the house for a hundred years.
With only whispered rumours circulating among the local villagers and a handful of leads to guide her, Hetty finds the power of the past is still affecting her present in startling ways.


What I Hope To Read Next

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.


Book Review: Letters for A Spy by Alice Chetwynd Ley

Elizabeth Thorne has finally seized the opportunity to assert her independence….
When she set out from crowded London to visit Crowle Manor, the Sussex house bequeathed to her by her uncle, Elizabeth could not be more delighted by the prospect of a quiet spell in the country. But on her way, she soon discovers that Crowle Manor may not be the quiet destination she had in mind…
Waking to discover a strange letter addressed to the manor house has been slipped into her guide book, she cannot help but wonder who put it there…and why?
As her suspicions deepen, Elizabeth finds herself reacquainted with her former lover, Robert Farnham, a man that she had once refused to marry out of loyalty to her sister. How is he mixed up in this bizarre affair? And how is it he now seems to hardly recognise her?
As the mysteries surrounding her and Crowle Manor grow more and more intense, Elizabeth starts to realise her plans for a quiet country summer are unlikely to be fulfilled. But her hopes of being with the man she still loves may yet still come true…


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I love a good spy story, especially when it is coupled with a romance. Although there was very little of this until the latter part of the book, the mystery more than adequately compensated. The story moved along at a fast pace, helped along by lots of clever dialogue, and held my interest from the start to the action packed conclusion. The plot was believable, as were the characters and their actions. Elizabeth was a likeable no nonsense heroine and Robert made an excellent spy with the right amount of courage and reserve.

Letters for a Spy (also released as The Sentimental Spy) is the first Regency Romance I've read by Alice Chetwynd Ley. My favourite author in this genre will always be Georgette Heyer, but it is exciting to discover another author who writes light-hearted and entertaining romances in a similar style.

This novel was short but the ideal length for a lazy afternoon read and while there was little in the way of romance, it was still enjoyable. For those who prefer a more traditional regency romance or love a great adventure story involving smugglers and spies, this is a book for you.

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I received a free copy of this e-book from Endeavour Press via NetGalley.

Stacking the Shelves #4


Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It is about sharing the books you are adding to your physical or virtual shelves. This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! You can learn more about this meme by visiting the official launch page.

With minimal storage available for books, most of my reading material comes from the library or the purchase/free downloads of ebooks. Occasionally I purchase a print book for my very small bookshelf, but I tend to reserve space on this for "keepers". I have recently joined NetGalley.

Here is what came into my house over the past month:


Via NetGalley