The Light Between Oceans
By: M.L. Stedman
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
Haha, this seems to be the year that I’m getting around to books that I’ve heard great buzz about for the last few years but haven’t gotten around to picking up. One of these books is The Light Between the Oceans. Not sure which caught my attention first–the stunning book cover or the title of the book–but I kept meaning since to check it out. It took the upcoming movie adaptation with Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz for me to finally pick up a copy 😛
Napoleon’s Last Island
By: Thomas Keneally
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA
From the bestselling author of Schindler’s List and The Daughters of Mars, a new historical novel set on the remote island of Saint Helena about the remarkable friendship between a young woman and one of history’s most intriguing figures, Napoleon Bonaparte, during the final years of his life in exile.
In October 1815, after losing the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte was banished to the island of Saint Helena. There, in one of the most remote places on earth, he lived out the final six years of his life. On this lonely island with no chance of escape, he found an unexpected ally: a spirited British girl named Betsy Balcombe who lived on the island with her family. While Napoleon waited for his own accommodations to be built, the Balcombe family played host to the infamous exile, a decision that would have devastating consequences for them all.
In Napoleon’s Last Island, “master of character development and period detail” (Kirkus Reviews) Thomas Keneally recreates Betsy’s powerful and complex friendship with the man dubbed The Great Ogre, her enmities and alliances with his remaining courtiers, and her dramatic coming-of-age. Bringing a shadowy period of history to life with a brilliant attention to detail, Keneally tells the untold story of one of Europe’s most enigmatic, charismatic, and important figures, and the ordinary British family who dared to forge a connection with him.
I actually didn’t know about this book until I received an ARC of this novel from the publishers. I don’t think I’ve read any fiction titles capturing the last years of Napoleon Bonaparte’s life, exiled and away from France. I haven’t read Thomas Keneally’s Schndler’s Ark but nonetheless I was intrigued that he wrote this. This book will be available on 04 October 2017.
The Stockholm Octavo
By: Karen Engelmann
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town–a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor–until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision–if he can find them.
Oh man, this book has been on my wish-to-read list for so long. What intrigued me the most about this book was that it’s set in 18th century Sweden; I haven’t come across very many historical fiction titles set in the Scandinavian countries so this book already got brownie points from me. Plus, how cool is that book cover? So imagine my elation when I finally got my hands on this book 😉
The Ghost Bride
By: Yangsze Choo
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride.”
Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.
Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.
After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets — and the truth about her own family — before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
Oh man, I’ve been wanting to read this book for soooooooooo long! xD And then when I did get my hands on it, it sat on my TBR pile for a very long time (including an incident whereby I “lost” it on my Kobo library–very weird), until finally I decided to start reading it whilst on the way to and from work 🙂 And then I couldn’t put it down afterwards, hence me finally finishing said book 😛
Every Secret Thing
By: Susanna Kearsley (writing as Emma Cole)
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
‘No one lives for ever. But the truth survives us all.’
Kate Murray is deeply troubled. In front of her lies a dead man, a stranger who only minutes before had approached her wanting to tell her about a mystery, a long-forgotten murder. The crime was old, he’d told her, but still deserving of justice.
Soon Kate is caught up in a dangerous whirlwind of events that takes her back into her grandmother’s mysterious war-time past and across the Atlantic as she tries to retrace the dead man’s footsteps. Finding out the truth is not so simple, however, as only a few people are still alive who know the story…and Kate soon realises that her questions are putting their lives in danger. Stalked by an unknown and sinister enemy, she must use her tough journalistic instinct to find the answers from the past – before she has to say goodbye to her future.
Whenever I count how many novels left by Susanna Kearsley that I still have to read, I often forget this title. To be fair, this was written under a different name and it was one of her earliest books. I finally picked it up some time ago, determined to finish her backlist of books before her next novel drops 😉