It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Last week I finally finished Shannon O'Leary's memoir The Blood on My Hands. I cannot say that I enjoyed this book. Many times I felt like abandoning it, having read more than enough of the abuse Shannon and her family suffered at the hands of her father and the gruesome murders she witnessed. I did set it aside for a while, but picked it up again as I needed to know what became of the family.

The other two books I read last week were quick reads. In the Silence of the Snow  by Jessica Blair was  disappointing. Even though the plot was good, the story felt rushed and lacked any emotional pull. You can read my review here. The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester was a great mystery. I particularly found the setting of Bletchley Park interesting.

My current reads are  a World War II story from the German point of view, All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski, translated into English by Anthea Bell, and an English Civil War tale from Pamela Belle, The Moon in the Water. I've read other books by Pamela Belle, so I'm sure I will enjoy this one.

To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson is still up next. I think this may be a depressing read, one I'm not up for yet, so I may pass it over for Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware. This is her debut novel, first published in 1989, about Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon, who was a rival of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

What I Read Last Week

In the Silence of the Snow by Jessica Blair

French-born Marie Gabin forms a friendship with Veronica Attwood in their final two years at school, but this is tested when Marie is forced to disclose a secret to her friend.

The First World War takes its toll when Marie loses the man she loves. Veronica's husband suffers injuries which eventually leave her a widow, but she finds consolation in her love for the land. Returning to France, Marie marries her childhood sweetheart, but once again life brings involvement in war for the two friends.

Loving their Yorkshire land, Veronica and her daughters enlist in the Land Army. When a bomber squadron arrives on a newly constructed airfield on part of the estate, relationships are formed. Veronica's daughter Elise joins the RAF and is recruited into the SOE. But secrets will out. On a mission to France, Elise faces dangers she did not expect as she searches for Marie and the truth - a truth that will have an outcome she never envisaged.

The Blood On My Hands by Shannon O'Leary

Set in 1960s and '70s Australia, "The Blood on My Hands" is the dramatic tale of Shannon O'Leary's childhood years. O'Leary grew up under the shadow of horrific domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, and serial murder. Her story is one of courageous resilience in the face of unimaginable horrors.
The responses of those whom O'Leary and her immediate family reach out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. Relatives are afraid to bring disgrace to the family's good name, nuns condemn the child's objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevent the police from interfering unless someone is killed.
"The Blood on My Hands" is a heartbreaking-yet riveting-narrative of a childhood spent in pain and terror, betrayed by the people who are supposed to provide safety and understanding, and the strength and courage it takes, not just to survive and escape, but to flourish and thrive.

The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester

On a delayed train, deep in the English countryside, two strangers meet. It is 1942 and they are both men of fighting age, though neither is in uniform. As strangers do in these days of war, they pass the time by sharing their stories. But walls have ears and careless talk costs lives...At Bletchley Park, Honey Deschamps spends her days at a type-x machine in Hut 6, transcribing decrypted signals from the German Army. One winter's night, as she walks home in the blackout, she meets a stranger in the shadows. He tells her his name is Felix, and he has a package for her. The parcel, containing a small piece of amber, postmarked from Russia and branded with two censor's stamps, is just the first of several. Someone is trying to get a message to her, but who? As a dangerous web weaves ever tighter around her, can Honey uncover who is sending these mysterious packages and why before it's too late...?

What I'm Reading Today

All For Nothing by Walter Kempowski

Winter, January 1945. It is cold and dark, and the German army is retreating from the Russian advance. Germans are fleeing the occupied territories in their thousands, in cars and carts and on foot. But in a rural East Prussian manor house, the wealthy von Globig family tries to seal itself off from the world. Peter von Globig is twelve, and feigns a cough to get out of his Hitler Youth duties, preferring to sledge behind the house and look at snowflakes through his microscope. His father Eberhard is stationed in Italy - a desk job safe from the front - and his bookish and musical mother Katharina has withdrawn into herself. Instead the house is run by a conservative, frugal aunt, helped by two Ukrainian maids and an energetic Pole. Protected by their privileged lifestyle from the deprivation and chaos around them, and caught in the grip of indecision, they make no preparations to leave, until Katharina's decision to harbour a stranger for the night begins their undoing. Superbly expressive and strikingly vivid, sympathetic yet painfully honest about the motivations of its characters, All for Nothing is a devastating portrait of the self-delusions, complicities and denials of the German people as the Third Reich comes to an end.

The Moon in the Water by Pamela Belle

Orphaned at ten, Thomasina Heron is sent to her new guardian, Sir Simon of "Goldhayes" in Suffolk. There Thomasina will spend a happy young girlhood with her cousins: the Heron heir Simon; kind solid Edward; young James; friendly Lucy; and Francis-- who is imaginative, daring, apt to be cynical, who talks about unicorns and usually gets into trouble. The cousins are faced with many challenges as they grow up, and conflict between King Charles I and Parliament leads to civil war.

What I Hope to Read Next

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.

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. . . .


  1. Interesting variety of books. Some of them do sound quite heavy. I'm looking for sunshine and fluff in my reading this summer. Come see what I read last week. Happy reading!

    1. It's winter here - cold, wet and grey skies. I think the weather is affecting my reading choices :-)

  2. A pity In the Silence of the Snow fell short for you. Hope your next reads prove better.

    1. This happens occasionally, but I will give Jessica Blair another try.

  3. Some interesting picks this week. Happy Reading!

  4. The Moon in the Water is a longtime favorite. It's been so long since I read it that it deserves a reread. Hope you also enjoy it.

    1. I loved Pamela Belle's Wintercombe series, but for some reason never picked up The Moon in the Water until now.

  5. Enjoy your books! They are all new to me, but look tempting. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.