It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date and is a place to share what you've been reading over the past week, what you are currently reading and what you hope to read next.

I'm still battling my reading slump, but things are on the up. My spirits have risen considerably due to my participation in a Read Along for M.M. Kaye's Shadow

of the Moon. My excitement at reading this book, one that has been on my wish list for a very long time, has spilled over and I'm looking at my TBR pile with renewed interest.

As I haven't participated in this meme for over three weeks, the books read average out at one per week which is well below what I usually finish in a week, but still a good achievement. I enjoyed all three books, though I'm not sure if I'll continue on with the A.J. Mackenzie series. I'll decide after I read the next one, The Body in the Ice.

I'm also enjoying my current reads. All three are slow paced, but engrossing. The Ballad of Desmond Kale is an unusual book. Sheep play a major part in this historical novel, filled with colourful characters and their complex relationships with each other and the land.

As to what's up next - I have a number of new releases awaiting me. Hopefully, I'll get to them soon!

What I've Read

The Body on the Doorstep by A.J. MacKenzie

Kent, 1796. Shocked to discover a dying man on his doorstep - and lucky to avoid a bullet himself - Reverend Hardcastle finds himself entrusted with the victim's cryptic last words.
With smuggling rife on England's south-east coast, the obvious conclusion is that this was a falling out among thieves. But why is the leader of the local Customs service so reluctant to investigate?
Ably assisted by the ingenious Mrs Chaytor, Hardcastle sets out to solve the mystery for himself. But smugglers are not the only ones to lurk off the Kent coast, and the more he discovers, the more he realises he might have bitten off more than he can chew.

Land of Golden Wattle by J.H, Fletcher

1826, Van Diemen’s LandWhen her father dies in a duel, 17-year-old Emma Tregellas is left with limited funds and at the mercy of her odious guardian. Faced with the prospect of being forced into marriage with a man she detests, she enlists the help of her true love, Ephraim Dark, who assists her to escape to faraway Van Diemen’s Land. Here she seeks sanctuary with her
wealthy uncle Barnsley Tregellas.

1982, TasmaniaThe union of Bec Hampton and Jonathan, heir to the fabulously wealthy Penrose estate, brought promise of reconciliation to two warring sides of the same family: a dynasty that had its foundations laid by Emma Tregellas and Ephraim Dark nearly a hundred years earlier. Defying opposition from Jonathan’s formidable grandmother, Bec had gained control of Derwent, the agricultural empire that the family had built from the early days of white settlement. Now 85, Bec’s dearest wish is that her granddaughter Tamara should inherit the property but Giles, her dissolute son, has other ideas. Will Bec and Tamara succeed in defeating Giles’s plans or will control of Derwent pass irrevocably out of the family?

The Velvet Hours by Alysson Richman

As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return.
An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path.
Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.

What I'm Reading Today

My Love Must Wait by Ernestine Hill

When Matthew Flinders, the first man to chart and circumnavigate Australia, set sail from England in July 1801, he left behind the intrigues of his homeland but also his young bride of only a few weeks, Ann Chappell. He didn′t see her again for more than nine years. During that time he carried out incredible feats of seamanship and navigation, made the first charts of much of the coastline of Australia, and was shipwrecked and later held prisoner by the French on Mauritius.

The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger MacDonald

In the early 1800s, out of the prison society of governors, redcoats, English gaolers, Irish convicts, and the few free settlers of Botany Bay, no one had ventured much farther inland than a few dozen miles from Sydney. Or so it was believed until the escape of Desmond Kale and the vengeance of his rival, the wildly eccentric parson magistrate Matthew Stanton.
The Ballad of Desmond Kale is a broad-sweeping novel of the first days of British settlement in Australia. At the centre is Stanton's pursuit of Kale - an Irish political prisoner and a rebelliously brilliant breeder of sheep. The alchemy of wool fascinates, threatens, and transforms when it is discovered that fine wool thrives in New South Wales as nowhere else in in the world, producing veritable gold on sheep's backs.
The Ballad of Desmond Kale is both a love story of unusual interest and an epic novel of greed, ambition, conceit, and redemption. The novel is rich in its characterisations and the rawness of its settings, vigour of language, and vividness of personality. The action moves from the early Australian bush to the halls of Westminster, the mills of Yorkshire, the sierras of Spain, the wilds of the Southern Ocean, and returns at last into the far outback for its finale.
Once the ballad is sung, ordinary experience is heightened, the world can never be the same again. A brilliant and inspired recreation of the early days of white Australian settlement by one of Australia's finest writers working at the height of his powers.

Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye

Shadow of the Moon is the story of Winter de Ballesteros, a beautiful English heiress who has come to India to be married. It is also the tale of Captain Alex Randall, her escort and protector, who knows that Winter's husband to be has become a debauched wreck of a man. When India bursts into flaming hatreds and bitter bloodshed during the dark days of the Mutiny, Alex and Winter are thrown unwillingly together in the brutal and urgent struggle for survival.

What I Hope To Read Next

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

Before Salem, there was Manningtree. . . .
This summer, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women, but without ever once breaking the law.
Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew s soul.
There is a new darkness in the town, too frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he s become, Alice is desperate to intervene and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.
Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother s brutal mission and is drawn into the Hopkins family s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence.
Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol's housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Soon his plans for a magnificent terrace built above the two-hundred-foot drop of the Gorge come under threat. Diner believes that Lizzie's independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him- law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants.
In a tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror, Diner's passion for Lizzie darkens until she finds herself dangerously alone.

Jewel of the North by Tricia Stringer

1895. The Flinders Ranges are a beautiful but harsh landscape as Joseph Baker, a pastoralist in that unforgiving environment, knows all too well. For three generations his family have farmed the land, married and had children at their property at Wildu Creek, but now, struggling with hostility from the local community for his choice of wife, Joseph finds himself fighting to save not just his friends and family but his very existence.
His son William has his own battles to fight: not only the drought that takes over the land but his own despair, as he faces rejection from the woman he loves. Meanwhile, a ruthless enemy will stop at nothing to take from William what he considers to be his. Could the vicious and cunning Charles Wiltshire be his nemesis? Or does another man, in a quest for the Jewel of the North, hold the key to his destruction?
As the First World War looms on the horizon, two men struggle to survive both the elements and each other on a quest to find that they hold dear — but only one will have the courage to stand strong.

Troubadour by Isolde Martyn

Forced to flee the English court after the lecherous King John attacks her, Adela, the queen’s hairbraider, finds employment in the entourage of Lady Alys. Alys is on her way to marry the Lord of Mirascon, a fiefdom in southern France. However, the south is under threat from Pope Innocent III’s military crusade against the heretics.
After trying in vain to rally his fellow lords against invasion, Richart, Vicomte de Mirascon, makes an alliance with King John. A political marriage to the Lady Alys – the king’s discarded mistress – will allow Richart to safeguard his people from a merciless land grab and cruel slaughter.
When the bridal party is ambushed, Adela is mistaken for her dead mistress by the people of Mirascon. Adela knows she must tell Richart that she is not his betrothed, but as she is dragged deeper into the deception, she is also powerfully drawn to the beleaguered man trying to protect his people and his culture. Adela is recognised by the dwarf Derwent, Richart’s English jester, who seems willing to keep her secret for the time being. Yet as suspicion builds up against her, paying with her life seems inevitable.
As the savage army marches south, can Richart and Adela overcome a web of deceit and treachery and evade the bonfires of the crusaders, or will their land of troubadours and tolerance be destroyed forever?

The Hourglass by Tracy Rees

2014. Sensible Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby, a place she's only been once before. Together with a local girl she rents a beautiful townhouse and slowly begins to settle in to her new life. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.
1950. Teenager Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, IDYLLIC days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.


  1. Nice selection of reads. I've read a couple of authors here not these particular books. Enjoy them all and have a good week.

    1. Thank you, Mystica. Most of these books are by authors I've read before.

  2. These are all new to me. I tend to read more nonfiction than fiction, so I always enjoy getting recommendations for novels that I have never heard of before.

    1. I hope you are tempted by some of the books I've mentioned.