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.

It's been a cold, wet and windy week in the south-eastern part of Australia, with snow falling on the nearby hills. Needless to say I've been cooped up indoors except for essential trips to town - to the library,

post office and the supermarket (primarily to replenish my stocks of dark chocolate Tim Tam biscuits).

I've spent the week catching up on some reading and also drafting a number of book reviews, a task I'm falling behind in. Sorting through my print TBR pile was also on my list of things to do. I pulled out a few books that I know I will never get around to reading. The ones that have been there forever and never move up the stack. I also returned a few unread library books that had looked interesting but no longer appealed to me.

Apart from The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott and The Firebird by Susanna Kearlsey, which I tried to resist until I'd finished my current reads but failed, the rest of my reading were books by Australian authors. Lucy Treloar's debut novel, Salt Creek, had been sitting in my TBR pile since last year. Mackenzie Crossing by Kaye Dobbie was a re-read so that I could finish a review before the release of her new book, Willow Tree Bend, next month. My two current reads The Convict and The Soldier by John P.F.Lynch and Perseverance by L.F. McDermott, were inspired by the authors' convict ancestors. I'm also looking forward to reading Eureka Run by Bruce Venables, another Australian author.

What I Read Last Week

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch.
Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the few travellers that pass along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Over the years that pass, an Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.
Stanton's attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people's homes and livelihoods, and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder. As Hester witnesses the destruction of the Ngarrindjeri's subtle culture and the ideals that her family once held so close, she begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Whoever dares to seek the Firebird may find the journey — and its ending — unexpected.
Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes sees images; glimpses of those who have owned it before. It’s never been a gift she wants, and she keeps it a secret from most people, including her practical boss Sebastian, one of London’s premier dealers in Russian art.
But when a woman offers Sebastian a small wooden carving for sale, claiming it belonged to Russia’s first Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There’s no proof. Sebastian believes that the plain carving — known as “The Firebird” — is worthless. But Nicola’s held it, and she knows the woman is telling the truth, and is in desperate need of the money the sale of the heirloom could bring.
Compelled to help, Nicola turns to a man she once left, and still loves: Rob McMorran, whose own psychic gifts are far greater than hers. With Rob to help her “see” the past, she follows a young girl named Anna from Scotland to Belgium and on into Russia.
There, in St. Petersburg — the once-glittering capital of Peter the Great’s Russia — Nicola and Rob unearth a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption…an old story that seems personal and small, perhaps, against the greater backdrops of the Jacobite and Russian courts, but one that will forever change their lives.

What I'm Reading Today

The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott

London, the 1720s. Welcome to 'Romeville', the underworld of that great city. The financial crash caused by the South Sea Bubble sees the rise of Jonathan Wild, self-styled 'Thief-taker General' who purports to keep the peace while brutally controlling organised crime. Only two people truly defy him: Jack Sheppard, apprentice turned house-breaker, and his lover, the notorious whore and pickpocket Edgworth Bess.
From the condemned cell at Newgate, Bess gives her account of how she and Jack formed the most famous criminal partnership of their age: a tale of lost innocence and harsh survival, passion and danger, bold exploits and spectacular gaol-breaks - and of the price they paid for rousing the mob of Romeville against its corrupt master.
Bess dictates her narrative to Billy Archer, a Grub Street hack and aspiring poet who has rubbed shoulders with Defoe and Swift. But he also inhabits that other underworld of 'molly-houses' and 'unnameable sin', and has his own story of subterfuge, treachery and doomed romance to deliver. As the gallows casts its grim shadow, who will live to escape the Fatal Tree?

The Convict and the Soldier by John P.F. Lynch

Michael, convicted of a minor crime, is sent to Van Dieman's Land to serve his sentence; John (the soldier) is involved in a minor scandal that means he must resign his commission. He decides to pursue a new military career in the Colonies.
Paths cross, families join and hardships are overcome. This is a story of courage, seized opportunities and new beginnings.
This novel is an insight into the life and times of an Irish convict and English soldier during the 1850s. The reader journeys with them from Ireland's County Clare and Cumberland in England, to the Australian Colonies of Van Diemen's Land with its penal system and finally to the Victorian bushlands.

Perseverance by L.F. McDermott

Forced to abandon their homes on Norfolk Island, the Garths and Belletts resettles in Van Diemen's Land. Beset by the hardships and challenges of starting again in an untamed land, the families must contend with disease, bushrangers and the growing conflict between the newly arrived settlers and the aboriginals who have occupied the land for centuries.

For James Garth, the eldest son of Edward and Susannah, exploration and adventure hold the key to their new life, but as triumph and tragedy visit his family in equal measure, can he find a way to make his dreams a reality? And will the next generation possess the strneght of character and will to fulfil the promise of tomorrow?

Love, tenacity, resolve, purposefulness ... PERSEVERANCE.

What I Hope To Read Next

Eureka Run by Bruce Venables

London 1852: Following a disastrous duel, John Farrington has lost everything - his army commission, his reputation, and the love of his life. When he becomes the target of a powerful, vengeful family he is forced to run, boarding a ship bound for Australia.

Hong Kong 1853: Master Feng, operatic impresario accused of treason, flees with his star performer, 'The Emperor's Nightingale'. Fate places them aboard a Yankee clipper ship to the great continent in the south.

Melbourne 1853: From humble beginnings, Cate Shearley is determined to make a prosperous life for herself and her son Jack, and has built up an enviable business as proprietor of the Golden Sheaf Hotel and Shearley's Variety Theatre. When her shows have the crowds flocking in, Cate realises there is even more money to be made entertaining the gold-rich miners of Ballarat.

But as Shearley's Travelling Variety Show sets off for the goldfields, two in the troupe have ruthless enemies in pursuit. And their world will explode at the Eureka diggings, where the fuse of revolution has already been lit . . .

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