It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


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

Since the start of spring it has rained every day here. It is bucketing down as I write this post. It is a lovely sound on the tin roof. The dam is now full and overflowing. Our house is on a sloping block so there is no danger of that being flooded, but the ground is so water-logged that it will take a long time to dry out. This area of Victoria is on flood watch and will remain so for quite a while. Wellington boots have become my new fashion accessory. I wear them everywhere. Hopefully, the sun will shine soon and stay for a few days.

You'd think that being forced to stay indoors I'd have reduced my TBR pile substantially, but I only finished three books over the last three weeks. Of the three completed, two books were set in the 18th century but in different parts of the world, one in Europe and the other in New York during the American Revolutionary War.

Sea Change was an excellent read and I learned quite a bit about the South Seas Company's collapse (the financial crisis of the 18th century) and the major players involved: businessmen, politicians and even royalty. While I thought the main character, William Spandrel, a little naive, I did like him. A basically honest man, he finds himself caught up in a deadly game and switches sides a number of times to save himself. He meets lots of interesting characters as he is pursued and pursues in turn around Europe. This is the first book by Robert Goddard I've read and I'm looking forward to reading more of his novels.

The Scent of Death was also excellent, taking me to British occupied New York. This too was a very interesting setting and I loved the opening lines of the novel: "This is the story of a woman and a city. I saw the city first ...". Edward Savill's first impression of both was one of disappointment, but this changes as the novel progresses. Andrew Taylor is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

The third book I finished was a comfort re-read by Georgette Heyer. I'd forgotten how full of fun this novel was. The farcial ending had me laughing out loud.

I am enjoying my current reads, but as I'm collecting A Death at Fountains Abbey from the library today, I know I'll set them all aside to catch up on Thomas Hawkins' latest adventure.

What I Read Last Week

Sea Change by Robert Goddard

It is January 1721. London is reeling from the effects of the greatest financial scandal of the age, the collapse of the South Sea Bubble. William Spandrel, a penniless mapmaker, is offered a discharge of his debts by his principal creditor, Sir Theodore Janssen, a director of the South Sea Company, on one condition: he must secretly convey an important package to a friend of Janssen's, Ysbrand de Vries, in Amsterdam.
The package safely delivered, Spandrel barely survives an attempt on his life, only to be blamed for the murder of de Vries himself. When de Vries's secretary, his English wife and the package itself go missing shortly afterwards, Spandrel realizes that he has become a pawn in several people's games. British Government agents, and others, are on his trail, believing that the mysterious package contained secret details of the great South Sea scandal - secrets so explosive that their publication could spark a revolution in England.
Spandrel's only chance of survival is to recover the package and place its contents in the right hands. But whose are the right hands? And what exactly are the contents?


The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor

American War of Independence. Manhattan, 1778. A city of secrets, profiteers, loyalists and double agents. As the last part of America under British rule, New York is home to a swelling tide of refugees seeking justice from the British crown. Edward Savill is sent from London to investigate the claims of dispossessed loyalists. No sooner does he land than he becomes embroiled in the case of a gentleman murdered in the city's notorious Canvas Town. An escaped slave hangs for the crime, but Savill is convinced they have executed the wrong man. Lodging with the respected Wintour family, Savill senses the mystery deepening. Judge Wintour's beautiful daughter-in-law, Arabella, hides a tragedy in her past, while his son plans a dangerous mission into enemy territory. And what of Mr Noak, the enigmatic clerk seemingly bent on a dubious course of his own? One thing is clear - the killing in Canvas Town was just the start of a trail of murder, and it's leading directly to Savill...

The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer

Over the years, the truculent Lord Darracott has ruled his barony with a firm hand and a fierce tongue. But when a tragic accident kills his eldest son, Lord Darracott must summon the next heir apparent his derelict son's only child, whose name no one has dared utter for the past twenty-seven years .
Raised in Yorkshire with a thick accent to match, Hugo finds himself in the broad expanse of the Kent marshlands, where his future estate lies and which is home also to the Darracotts, who instantly distrust this coarse and unrefined interloper.
But Lord Darracott has the solution provided he can convince his sharp-tongued granddaughter to marry a perfect stranger.


What I'm Reading Today

The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming

The Last Pearl: one magnificent gem; three lives bound together by fate ...
1879, York.Greta Costello must rely on her wits to survive. She finds refuge as a Saturday girl for an old jeweller, Saul Abrahams, and her eye for detail, her long fingers and appreciation of beauty persuade Saul to train her as a pearl stringer. This skill will lead her through hardship and pain towards a new life.
1879, Scotland.Jem Baillie knows the immense power of a perfect pearl. His father was a fisher on a tributary of the Tay river in Perthshire, Scotland, and together they found the rarest of pearls, a great white pearl they call Queenie. When this is stolen from them, Eben vows revenge.
Spanning generations and continents, tracing the rivers of Scotland and the Mississippi, The Last Pearl is a sweeping novel of desire and revenge, of family and freedom, and of one woman's journey to open the shell she has built around herself to reveal the true beauty within.


The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia

It is 1642, and Laurence Beaumont has just returned to England after six long years fighting -- and avoiding fighting -- in the European Wars. Having fled his home to escape the responsibilities of his noble birthright, he has been a lowly infantryman in Spain, a spy for the Germans, and a cardsharp in a Dutch brothel. He has seen horrors visited upon men, women, and children by enemy and ally alike, and he no longer has faith in God, in causes, or even in humankind itself.
As the clashes between King Charles I and his mutinous Parliament come to a crisis and England is thrown into civil war, a reluctant Beaumont is drawn back into the world of warfare and intrigue when he discovers coded letters outlining a plot to assassinate the king. Soon the conspirators -- one of whom is among the most powerful men in the kingdom -- are in hot pursuit, and Beaumont must find proof of their identities before they overtake him. Pressed into service by the secretary of state's ruthless spymaster, Beaumont finds himself threatened on all sides, facing imprisonment, torture, and worse if he makes a single wrong step. The ravishing Isabella Savage, a practiced seducer, wants to help, but may only lead him deeper into the conspiracies within the king's camp. And all the while Beaumont is haunted by a prophecy and by the memory of a devastating betrayal.


Worth Fighting For by Mary Anne O'connor

Eighteen-year-old Junie Wallace is a smart girl and, with her two brothers away at war and her third brother just killed in action, she knows there is only one way to save the family farm for her grieving parents. Unfortunately, that solution involves marrying the unscrupulous Ernest, and breaking the heart of the young drover she loves, Michael.
But the war is looming ever closer, and when Pearl Harbour brings the threat of Japanese aggression to Australian shores, the fates of many becomes inextricably interwoven.
From the explosive battles of the Pacific campaign to the desperate fighting in the Papuan New Guinea rainforest; the dancehall gaiety of Sydney’s Trocadero to the terror of the Darwin bombings, this epic family saga brings home the importance of mateship and of fighting for what you believe in, even when impossible odds seem stacked against you, even when all seems lost…


What I Hope To Read Next

A Death at Fountains Abbey by Antonia Hodgson

Late spring, 1728 and Thomas Hawkins has left London for the wild beauty of Yorkshire - forced on a mission he can't refuse. John Aislabie, one of the wealthiest men in England, has been threatened with murder. Blackmailed into investigating, Tom must hunt down those responsible, or lose the woman he loves forever.
Since Aislabie is widely regarded as the architect of the greatest financial swindle ever seen, there is no shortage of suspects.
Far from the ragged comforts of home, Tom and his ward Sam Fleet enter a world of elegant surfaces and hidden danger. The great estate is haunted by family secrets and simmering unease. Someone is determined to punish John Aislabie - and anyone who stands in the way. As the violence escalates and shocking truths are revealed, Tom is dragged, inexorably, towards the darkest night of his life.


8 comments:

  1. Sea Change and A Death at Fountains Abbey sound right up my alley - historical mysteries! They sound fascinating.

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    1. I hope you get to read them both. I'm enjoying A Death at Fountains Abbey right now.

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  2. I love Historical Fiction and you have some interesting books listed. Enjoy!

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    1. I hope you get to read some of them!

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  3. I would love to try Sea Change - I am yet to pick up a Robert Goddard book. I hope to do so soon.
    I have been eagerly anticipating Mary- Anne o'Connor's latest book Worth Fighting For. I bought it last week. I hope to get into it very soon as I aboslutely loved her first novel Gallipoli Street.
    Enjoy your books and happy reading!
    Amanda @ Mrs B's Book Reviews

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    1. I have Robert Goddard's In Pale Battalions in my TBR pile. I'm looking forward to reading it soon.
      Gallipoli Street was good, wasn't it? I've only read a few chapters of Worth Fighting for, but it's off to a good start.

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  4. Fascinating books this week! I'm intrigued by them all, but would most likely pick up Sea Change and The Scent of Death. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you get to read them.

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