The English Civil War at First Hand
by Tristram Hunt
Published by Penguin Books Ltd
Almost a quarter of a million lives were lost as King and Parliament battled for their religious and political ideals in the English Civil War. England was divided between Cavaliers and Roundheads engaged in bitter struggles from Preston to Lostwithiel, Pembroke to York. Armies were on the march, villages were decimated and great dynasties destroyed: fathers and sons, uncles and cousins were pitted against each other in defence of their loyalties. The civil war led to the execution of a king, the beginnings of sectarian division in Ireland, savage clan warfare in Scotland and the roots of English socialism. Tristram Hunt avoids adding to the many, mostly transitory interpretations of the civil war and instead offers a timeless narrative based on the first-hand accounts of those who witnessed these traumatic events. In doing so he brings out the voices of the civil war generation - those who lost sons, who witnessed massacres and who fought for an ideal. In this book we see their motivations, fears and misery as the horror of war overwhelmed them. From Cromwell's letters to the memoirs of a Roundhead wife the civil war era is brought to life in all its terrible and fascinating glory.
Once I'd got past the rather dull political commentary of the early extracts, I couldn't put this one down. Lots of real people sending each other letters with explanatory text in between that really brought them all to life. Admittedly I've always had a thing for the English Civil War, and I'm reading up on it at the moment, but I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in social history.
by Kate Donovan
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
When Shannon wakes up in seventeenth-century backwoods America, she figures it’s just a hallucination caused by a recent concussion suffered in the line of her environmentalist duties. Given the hunkiness of the Susquehannock chief and the backwoodsman caring for her, she figures it’s her fantasy, so might as well relax go with it. Right?
Neither Kahnawakee nor John Cutler know what to make of the beautiful female who won’t eat meat and keeps babbling about time travel. Clearly she’s daft. Not to mention bizarrely immodest, flirtatious—and irresistible.
If this is a dream, then Shannon’s in heaven. If not, she ought to quit fooling around and try to get back home before she accidentally changes history. Yet leaving the timeline intact means Kahnawakee will be murdered before achieving his vision of the future for his people.
How can she live with herself if she changes history—or doesn’t? Worse, when and if she wakes up, how will she live without John?
A time travel story with an interesting premise that got off to a rather slow start then picked up in the middle as the stakes grew higher. The ending felt a bit rushed and left me wondering about a few loose ends, though there are more books in the series, so maybe those'll get tied up at some point.
by M. R. Hall
Publisher: Pan Books
Coroner Jenny Cooper investigates ...Two missing students. One sinister cover-up. Two young British students, Nazim Jamal and Rafi Hassan vanish without a trace. The police tell their parents that the boys had been under surveillance, that it was likely they left the country to pursue their dangerous new ideals. Seven years later, Nazim's grief-stricken mother is still unconvinced. Jenny Cooper is her last hope. Jenny is finally beginning to settle into her role as Coroner for the Severn Valley; the ghosts of her past that threatened to topple her, banished to the sidelines once more. But as the inquest into Nazim's disappearance gets underway, the stink of corruption and conspiracy becomes clear ...As the pressure from above increases, a code of silence is imposed on the inquest and events begin to spiral out of all control, pushing Jenny to breaking point. For how could she have known that by unravelling the mysteries of the disappeared, she would begin to unearth her own buried secrets?
Another highly improbable adventure for Jenny Cooper, but a fun romp nonetheless. The rivalry between the English and Welsh police forces is probably my favourite part of the series so far.
by Cari Hunter
Published by BOLD STROKES BOOKS
"The policewoman got shot and she's bleeding everywhere. Get someone here in one hour or I'm going to put her out of her misery." An ultimatum that forever changes the lives of police officer Sam Lucas and Dr. Kate Myles. When heavy snowfall isolates the small English village of Birchenlow, a violent robbery shatters the community. Taken as a hostage and stranded with the increasingly desperate criminals, Sam is seriously injured during an ill-fated escape attempt. Already struggling to save the lives of the villagers caught up in the raid, Kate volunteers to walk straight into the lion's den. Cut off from help, with only each other to rely on, Sam and Kate must find a way to fight the odds and stay alive if the growing attraction between them is to survive.
A very British thriller with a gently simmering lesbian romance at its heart. I loved the descriptions of both heroines' families, friends and cats and the very typical British winter in which everything grinds to a halt in the snow. Being set in a part of the world I know well just added to the enjoyment.
Clouds of Witness
by Dorothy L. Sayers
Published by Hodder Paperback
The Duke of Denver, accused of murder, stands trial for his life in the House of Lords. Naturally, his brother Lord Peter Wimsey is investigating the crime - this is a family affair. The murder took place at the duke's shooting lodge and Lord Peter's sister was engaged to marry the dead man. But why does the duke refuse to co-operate with the investigation? Can he really be guilty, or is he covering up for someone? 'She brought to the detective novel originality, intelligence, energy and wit.' P. D. James
The second Peter Wimsey with an excellent cast of characters and suspects and a good number of red herrings and plot twists. Plenty of motives and a complex set of circumstances even after the murderer is revealed.
Tattoos & Teacups
by Anna Martin
Published by Dreamspinner Press
As a teenager, Robert McKinnon left his native Scotland and moved to America. That was sixteen years ago, and Professor McKinnon has never quite settled in his new home or found his place this side of the pond. He might be prematurely old, but he has his cat, and his books, and that's all he needs. Then Chris Ford explodes into Robert's life with a crash of cymbals. The younger man is the polar opposite of Robert's calm civility. Bright tattoos cover his skin, and he wears his hair in a Mohawk and plays drums for a rock band. But he's a shot of color in Robert's black-and-white world, and Robert turns out to be the one thing Chris can count on. Despite all the reasons it shouldn't work, somehow it does. Even if Robert wasn't looking for love especially not with someone nearly ten years his junior he can't deny being with Chris is fun. But sometimes Chris's free-spirited nature leaves Robert feeling vulnerable. If they can't find a balance between tattoos and teacups, their relationship won't survive and neither will Robert's newfound lust for life.
I just couldn't seem to get into this one. The protagonist didn't feel enough like a Scottish ex-pat as opposed to a generic Brit-in-the-US, and the age gap didn't feel big enough for what little conflict there was. An innocuous enough story, but it just didn't hold my attention.
A Summer to Remember
by Mary Balogh
Published by PIATKUS BOOKS
Kit Butler, cool and dangerous, is one of London's most infamous bachelors and marriage is the last thing on his mind. Desperate to thwart his father's matchmaking, Kit needs a bride ...fast. Enter Miss Lauren Edgeworth ...A year after being abandoned at the altar, Lauren has determined that marriage is not for her. When these two fiercely independent souls meet, sparks fly - and a deal is hatched. Lauren will masquerade as Kit's intended if he agrees to provide a passionate, adventurous, unforgettable summer. When summer ends, she will break off the engagement, rendering herself unmarriageable and leaving them both free. Everything is going perfectly - until Kit does the unthinkable: he begins to fall in love. A summer to remember is not enough for him. But how can he convince Lauren to be his ...for better, for worse, for the rest of their lives?
I picked this one up based on the review on Romance Novels for Feminists. I liked Kit and Lauren a lot, but I found myself wishing they could have has more adventures for me to read about before the expected ending came.