Saturday, 31 May 2014

'The Girl Who Couldn't Read' by John Harding

Release date: 28th August 2014
Published by: Blue Door
ISBN No: 978 0007324231

A sinister Gothic tale in the tradition of The Woman in Black and The Fall of the House of Usher
New England, the 1890s. A man calling himself Doctor John Shepherd arrives at an isolated women’s mental hospital to begin work as assistant to the owner Dr Morgan. As Shepherd struggles to conceal his own dark secrets, he finds the asylum has plenty of its own. Who is the woman who wanders the corridors by night with murderous intent? Why does the chief nurse hate him? And why is he not allowed to visit the hospital’s top floor? Shocked by Morgan’s harsh treatment of the patients, and intrigued by one of them, Jane Dove, a strange amnesiac girl who is fascinated by books but cannot read, Shepherd embarks upon an experiment to help her. As he attempts to solve the mystery of Jane’s past his own troubled history begins to catch up with him and she becomes his only hope of escape, as he is hers. In this chilling literary thriller everyone has something to hide and no one is what he or she seems. The Girl Who Couldn’t Read is the long-awaited sequel to the critically acclaimed international bestseller Florence and Giles but can also be read as a gripping standalone novel.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Village Rumours' by Rebecca Shaw

Release date: 28th August 2014
Published by: Orion
ISBN No: 978 1409147015

You can't escape your past. At least that's what the residents of Turnham Malpas would say...
While clearing out the rectory's loft, Reverend Peter Harris makes an unsettling discovery and a dark secret is exposed that soon sets tongues wagging in the village.

Having received a letter from the sons she hasn't heard from in 15 years, local gossip Greta Jones is delighted at the prospect of seeing them after all this time - despite her husband's misgivings. And Craddock Fitch's unruly grandchildren, newly arrived in the village, are causing not a little trouble for the townsfolk.

Meanwhile Fran Charter-Plackett has a difficult decision to make. Her parents would like to see her settled with kind and reliable Alex Harris. But when Chris Templeton, the man whom Fran once lost her heart to, returns to the village, it seems he is all set to steal her affections once more. Is Chris really a changed man? And will Fran finally go with her heart or her head?

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'The Constant Star' by Jessica Stirling

Release date: 14th August 2014
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN No: 978 1444780581

The Second World War hits home to a scattered East End family in new and unexpected ways in Jessica Stirling's stirring third novel about Britain under siege.

Susan Cahill enjoys her job at the BBC until a bomb destroys the building and brings unwelcome responsibilities and an autocratic new boss, Walter Boscombe. He has no time for ambitious young women from Shadwell and seems determined to break Susan's spirit - and her heart.

Breda Hooper, Susan's widowed sister-in-law, and her small son are rescued from the East End's shattered docklands by Danny, Susan's estranged husband. Settled in a shabby caravan in the Vale of Evesham, Breda soon finds herself entangled in village affairs in more ways than one, with only her quick wits, her new friends and the ever dependable Danny to keep her out of trouble.
For Susan and Breda jeopardy comes not from the skies but in the terrible price each must pay for falling in love with men who are not all that they seem to be and who, even in the midst of all out war, will change their lives forever.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Her Mother's Secret' by Catherine King

Release date: 31st July 2014
Published by: Sphere
ISBN No: 978 0751554281

Lettie Hargreaves wants more than her simple, uncomplicated life with her grandmother can provide. She longs for excitement and love and she's determined to make something of herself.

There is something about Lettie's mother that Ivy has kept hidden from her granddaughter, something that would shatter her world. So when Lettie suggests going into service for the ailing Lady Laughton, Ivy knows she must do something to stop it.

Feeling stifled and confused, Lettie chooses a different path that offers her the chance at love and of the life she so craves. But she is still the same strong-minded young woman and her ambition may do more harm than good as she is entirely unaware of the secrets her actions will uncover.

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'In The Footsteps of Alexander' by Miles Doleac

Release date: 28th August 2014
Published by: Amber Books Ltd.
ISBN No: 978 1782741657

In just 11 years, Alexander the Great's army marched 22,000 miles and secured the Balkans, conquered Asia Minor, the Levant and Egypt, defeated the Persian Empire and invaded India. By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world. And even after he died, aged just 32, undefeated in battle, his influence remained, not just across Europe, but into Asia, too. But what was it like to be soldier in Alexander's army? To march from Macedonia to India? To serve as a hoplite, a Phalangite or a cavalryman for Alexander? In the Footsteps of Alexander the soldiers who conquered the ancient world explores the achievements of one of history s great military leaders from the point of view of his warriors. The book is divided into four parts, with part one covering the extent of Alexander s campaigns; part two examining the recruitment, equipment, tactics and lives of his infantrymen and cavalrymen; part three looking at the cities that he founded, such as Alexandria and Kandahar; and part four explaining how after his death his great empire fell apart, but his Hellenic influence lived on throughout Europe and Asia. Including more than 200 photographs, illustrations, paintings and maps, In the Footsteps of Alexander is a colorful, accessible examination of military life under one of history's greatest military leaders.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Thursday, 22 May 2014

'The Shadows' by Megan Chance

Release date: 3rd June 2014
Published by: Skyscape
ISBN No:  978 1477847183

Grace Knox has grown up hearing the folktales of her Irish ancestors, especially about the warriors who fought for control of Ireland. In 19th-century New York City, however, these legends are far from Grace's mind. She's much more concerned with how to protect her family from debt collectors, and whether her childhood friend Patrick Devlin will propose. Patrick is a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, a group of young Irish American men intent on fighting for the independence of their homeland, whatever the cost. Patrick and the Brotherhood use ancient magic to summon mythical warriors to join their fight to protect Ireland. One of them, Diarmid, finds himself drawn to Grace, and she to him. When Diarmid discovers that, in their desperation, the Brotherhood has also summoned a rival group of ancient warriors, he warns Patrick that there will be bloodshed. Grace is caught in the middle of two men she loves, and discovers she alone holds the power to save Ireland, but at a dangerous price.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis 

'The Beach Hut Next Door' by Veronica Henry

Release Date: 3rd July 2014
Published by: Orion
ISBN No: 978 1409146742

The sun is out and the beach huts at Everdene Sands are filling up once again. Jemima is artist in residence for the summer, capturing the antics of the holidaymakers on canvas. But it's not long before she becomes embroiled in their tangled lives. Vince and Murphy are best mates, and misspent their youths in the waves and bars of Everdene. Now they are making plans for the Lobster Shack, eager to make their fortune. But Vince's life has been touched by tragedy, and he's finding it hard to move on. Sidonie Lewis has returned to Everdene hoping to bury the past. The memory of her wedding day there is a painful one. Now she is ready to marry again, but she needs to make one final reconciliation first - and it's the hardest one of all. Tom and Rachel divided everything straight down the middle when they divorced - everything except their beach hut. But sharing it is proving more difficult than they thought. It's going to be a summer to remember ...

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'Adultery' by Paulo Coelho

Release date: 19th August 2014
Published by: Hutchinson
ISBN No: 978 0091958879

The thought-provoking new novel from the international bestselling author whose words change lives.
This is Linda's story.
She's lucky. She knows that.
It's what makes being unhappy even worse.
Her friends advise taking medication. But Linda wants to feel more, not less.
A meeting with a politician, and ex-boyfriend, reawakens a side of her that she - respectable wife, devoted mother and ambitious journalist - thought had disappeared. She embarks on a relationship that is addictive, dangerous and undeniably exciting. But the consequences are far-reaching . . .
Provocative and profound, ADULTERY is about discovering passion in the life you live and learning what it means to be free.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Bee Keeper's Daughter' by Santa Montefiore

Release date: 17th July 2014
Published by: Simon and Schuster Ltd
ISBN No:  978 1471100994

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up in a rural idyll. The beekeeper's daughter, she knows her place and her future - that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Alone, that is, except for one man who she just can't shake from her thoughts...Massachusetts, 1973: Grace's daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable boy. He's wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when tragedy strikes and he has to go home to England, he promises to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'A Perfect Life' by Danielle Steel

Release Date: 17th July 2014
Published by: Bantam Press
ISBN No: 978 0593068595

An icon in the world of television news, Blaise McCarthy seems to have it all: beauty, intelligence and courage. But privately, there is a story she has protected for years.

Blaise's daughter Salima, blinded by juvenile diabetes, now lives in a year-round boarding school with full-time assistance. When the school closes suddenly, Salima returns home to Blaise's New York apartment with her new carer, Simon. Simon rapidly shakes up their world, determined to help Salima find the independence she never thought possible. As all three face challenges that change the way they see one another, the bond between mother and daughter deepens as never before.

Then Blaise's personal and professional worlds collide: a young rival at work attempts to take over and the well-guarded secrets of her home life are exposed. Suddenly her life is no longer perfect, but real. Can mother and daughter together learn how to face a world they can't control?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Complete Cities of Ancient Egypt' by Steven Snape

Release date: 4th August 2014
Published by: Thames and Hudson Ltd
ISBN No: 9780500051795

Ancient Egyptian cities and towns have until recently been one of the least- studied and least-published aspects of this great ancient civilization. Now new research and excavation are transforming our knowledge. The Complete Cities of Ancient Egypt is the first book to bring these latest discoveries to a wide general and scholarly audience, and to provide a comprehensive overview of what we know about ancient settlement during the dynastic period. Divided in two halves, the book opens with an account of the development of urban settlement in Egypt, describing the pattern of urban life, from food production, government, crime and health to schooling, leisure, ancient tourism, and the interaction of the living community with the dead. The second half of the book takes the reader on a trip down the Nile from Aswan to the Delta, giving a comprehensive account of all cities and towns with details for each of their discovery, excavation and important finds, supported by maps and plans as well as recent photographs. This book is sure to appeal to all those concerned with urban design and history, as well as tourists, students and Egyptophiles.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Vixen' by Rosie Garland

Release date: 17th July 2014
Published by: The Borough Press
ISBN No: 978 0007492794

Rosie Garland’s extraordinary tale is a story of superstition and devotion in the time of the Black Death and will bewitch both new readers and fans of her much-loved debut, The Palace of Curiosities.

Devon, 1349. In Brauntone, where seagulls screech across the fields and the wind has a mind to change, Father Thomas arrives as the new priest. Determined to impress his congregation, he quells fears of the coming pestilence with promises of protection.

For Anne, the priest’s arrival is an opportunity that at sixteen, she feels all too ready for. Convinced a grand fate awaits, she moves in as Thomas’s housekeeper, though hopeful of something more. But his home is a place without love or kindness. So when a strange, mute Maid is discovered, washed up in the marshes, and taken in, Anne is grateful for the company. Their friendship is to give Anne the chance of a happiness she thought she’d never know.

But soon the plague strikes Brauntone, spreading panic. And as the villagers’ fear turns to anger, Thomas must sacrifice everything to restore their faith in him.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Vanishing Witch' by Karen Maitland

Release date: 14th August 2014
Published by: Headline Review
ISBN No: 978 1472215000

Take one wealthy merchant. Add one charming widow. And one dying wife.
The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It's a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust?
The dour wool merchant?
His impulsive son?
The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes?
Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?
And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it's time to fight back, it's all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Roseblood' by Paul Doherty

Release date: 5th June 2014
Published by: Headline
ISBN No: 978 0755395965

England, 1455: a kingdom on the brink of civil war.
The Red Rose: King Henry of Lancaster's days are numbered. Deemed unfit for rule, even by his own mother, he surely cannot last on the throne for long. Simon Roseblood - London lord, taverner and alderman - is one of few loyal servants left to fight his cause.

The White Rose: Ruthless Richard of York has his eye firmly set on the crown - and plenty of powerful allies who will do anything to help him win it. Henchman Amadeus Sevigny makes no bones about enforcing his own authority and asserting law and order at York's command.

When Roseblood is summoned by Sevigny to stand trial for a crime he knows he didn't commit, their paths cross in ways that alter them both for ever. And as the Wars of the Roses looms, an even greater foe is poised to rock the foundations of England, and wreak horror in a hotbed of political unrest.

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'The Last Crusaders: Ivan the Terrible' by William Napier

Release date: 31st July 2014
Published by: Orion
ISBN No: 978 1409105374

After the final defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the great naval battle of Lepanto, it seems that Europe is safe. But one day Nicholas Ingoldsby is summoned to London for an audience with the Queen herself. He is to go on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, the heart of the old enemy - and then onward, to a little-known but rising power called Muscovy. Here the Russian Czar has just proposed marriage to Elizabeth herself. Such a bold offer should be no surprise, for this is no normal leader: Ivan IV Vasil'evich is known to his people as Ivan the Terrible.
But this rising new Christian power in the North has also caught the attention of the Ottomans; and their allies, the wild Tatar horsemen of the Asiatic steppes, Russia's ancient enemy. And soon Nicholas and his fellow travellers, Smith, Stanley and the faithful Hodge, are caught up in their most dangerous adventure yet, trapped in a doomed Muscovy ruled by a deranged but cunning Czar Ivan, and with a vast army of Tatar tribesmen riding down upon them, vowed to burn the city to the ground and extinguish Russia forever...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Jane Austin's Country Life' by Deirdre Le Faye

Release date: 5th June 2014
Published by: Frances Lincoln 
ISBN No: 978 0711231580

ane Austen lived for nearly all her life in two Hampshire villages: for 25 years in her birthplace of Steventon, and then for the last 8 years of her life in Chawton, during which latter period she wrote and published her great novels. While there are plenty of books describing her periods of urban life in Bath, Southampton and London, and the summer holidays in Lyme Regis and other West Country seaside resorts, no consideration has been given to this rural background to her life. Her father was not only the rector of Steventon but a farmer there as well, managing a property of some 200 acres. Her brother Edward, in addition, was a large landowner, holding the three estates of Godmersham in Kent, Steventon and Chawton in Hampshire. Agriculture in all its aspects was even more important to Jane than clerical life or the naval careers of her younger brothers.

This book fills a gap in the Austen family background, discussing the state of agriculture in general in the south of England during the wartime conditions which lasted for most of Jane Austen's life, and considering in particular the villages and their inhabitants, the weather conditions, field crops, farm and domestic animals, and the Austens' household economy and rural way of life. All appear in Austen's letters, and appear also unobtrusively in her novels, lending that air of verisimilitude for which her works are famous. Apart from these obvious sources, there are other Austen family manuscripts, as yet unpublished, which provide particular and unique information.

Richly illustrated with contemporary depictions of country folk, landscapes and animals, Jane Austen and Country Life conjures up a world which has vanished more thoroughly than the familiar Regency townscapes of Bath or London, but which is no less important to an understanding of this most treasured writer's life and work.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Saturday, 17 May 2014

New Release: 'Far Away In Time' by Maria Savva

Regular followers of my blog will already know the author Maria Savva who has very kindly visited us here regularly at 'The Secret Writer'. Maria has recently published a new collection of short stories and she has very kindly agreed to tell us a bit about her latest new book 'Far Away In Time'!

Our lives are a series of stories, and we are the characters with the starring roles. The memories, regrets, secrets, and struggles that fill these pages are at once unique and relatable. These stories  belong to us all.

Eight unforgettable tales reaching out to a place Far Away In Time...

The story behind the stories...

What inspired the stories in Far Away In Time? A common question I am asked. So I thought it would be nice if I write a few sentences about what inspired each story.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the title for the story was taken from Charles Dickens’s  “A Christmas Carol”. I love watching Scrooge, and the various alternative versions of that film every Christmas; it’s one of my favourite ever films. The title for my short story, however, came after the story, so that didn’t inspire the actual story.

The short story was written because I had an idea that it would be nice to write a Christmas-themed short story in the run up to Christmas. It was never written with the intention of it being part of a collection. My initial idea was of someone looking back at his life and what had gone so wrong that he was all alone at Christmas. I had no idea that the story would end up as dark as it did.

One of my beta readers said he nearly cried when he read this story, and another said this  was the only story in the collection she didn’t like — not because it wasn’t well written, but because of the subject matter. I think there will be many who will feel the same way. It is a very dark story. The darkest one in the collection.

When I read it over after writing it, I was actually quite shocked at how dark it was, but I feel it’s a powerful story, and thought it would be perfect as a first story in the collection to draw readers in. However, I am aware that I may scare away more people than I attract with this one...

Increasingly, I am becoming a fan of darker fiction, I think this is being reflected in my work.

Far Away In Time - Parts I and II

Far Away In Time is not only the title of the collection of stories, but also a two-part fantasy story in the book.

I am currently writing my sixth novel, which is also a fantasy, and this story is the most similar to my upcoming novel.

This fantasy tale was probably inspired by my interest in the difference between reality and fantasy (a theme covered in my novel Haunted, but in that book the story is much darker).

Far Away In Time is a magical tale. There is a wizard, there is magic, there is a lot of the ‘unexplained’.

This story was a real hit with my beta readers and two of them said they’d love to see a novel, or a series of short stories featuring the character Mr Silverfrost the old wizard.  It remains to be seen whether I will use that character again. I have to say I was inspired enough to write Part II to the story, so it’s likely I will return to this one and continue it at some stage.

Echoes of Her Dreams

This story was originally written for a short story competition. I decided to include it in the collection because I thought it fitted in well. A couple of my beta readers said it was their favourite story.

In this story, I wanted to explore the idea of someone who feels as though they haven’t achieved their dreams. It’s melancholy because of that sense of regret running through it, but I think it’s also a subject that many (especially women) will be able to relate to.

A Sign

This is a mystery story with a paranormal theme. It started off with my intention to write about someone finding something valuable under the floorboards when she moved into a new house. The way the story developed was not something I anticipated, as it took a different twist to that which I had initially thought it would. The paranormal element only revealed itself later on. Many of my books have paranormal elements to them, most notably, Haunted, and The Dream. Many of my other short stories in other collections have  paranormal themes too.

Tragedy of Love

This one started off as a train of thought, and it developed. In the first part of the story I wanted to write a few paragraphs that many people could relate to or that would be the type of thoughts felt by someone who might be feeling lonely, depressed, sad. I wanted it to have a universal feel, so didn’t include a character’s name in that part.

The second part of the story reveals something at the end which will bring the reader back to the first part of the story. I had initially thought that I might write a few parts of the story, including other characters, and have them all link back to that first part of the story so that the reader was left guessing who the unfortunate person in the first part of the story was. If that makes any sense.

In the end I left the story as it is because I thought it would be more powerful as it is.

The Beach

Another paranormal tale. The first part of the story came to me quite easily and wasn’t planned in any way, but then I was left wondering how I would continue it. I left it sitting for a while and then when I came back to it, the ending I wrote seemed to fit well.

The inspiration here is probably the fact that I have had precognitive dreams in my life and am always fascinated by the subject.


Another favourite among my beta readers. This is a story that I had thought of writing alternative endings for as I had two ideas as to this character’s motivations. In the end I combined both of those into a rather long story; probably the longest in the book.

This is, I think, the most true-to-life tale in the book, which is why I think it will resonate with a lot of people. At its core is a dysfunctional family and the feelings of betrayal that can arise from that.

Here are the links to the book:

Available on Amazon:

Maria Savva can be found on the following links:

Sunday, 4 May 2014

'Succession' by Livi Michael

Release date: 26th June 2014
Published by: Penguin
ISBN No: 978 0241146248

Behind the bloody battle scenes of the Wars of the Roses lie the sinewy political skills of a remarkable pair of women.

Margaret of Anjou, French, beautiful, unpopular; her marriage in 1444 to a young Henry VI causes national uproar. As English rule in France collapses, Henry goes insane, civil war erupts, and families are pitted against each other. With Henry VI incapacitated, Margaret Anjou is left to fight alone for her son's position as rightful heir.

Meanwhile Margaret Beaufort, nobly born but far more distant from the throne, becomes a great heiress while only an infant. Her childhood is lived in echoing remote castles and she is lonely and vulnerable: everyone at Henry's court competes to be her guardian and to engineer an advantageous alliance through marriage to her. By the age of thirteen, she has married twice and given birth to her only son - the future King of England. But then she is separated from him . . . and her fight really begins.

Succession is the intense and powerful story of the women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Last Crusaders:Ivan the Terrible' by William Napier

Release date: 31st July 2014
Published by: Orion
ISBN No: 978 1409105374

After the final defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the great naval battle of Lepanto, it seems that Europe is safe. But one day Nicholas Ingoldsby is summoned to London for an audience with the Queen herself. He is to go on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, the heart of the old enemy - and then onward, to a little-known but rising power called Muscovy. Here the Russian Czar has just proposed marriage to Elizabeth herself. Such a bold offer should be no surprise, for this is no normal leader: Ivan IV Vasil'evich is known to his people as Ivan the Terrible.

But this rising new Christian power in the North has also caught the attention of the Ottomans; and their allies, the wild Tatar horsemen of the Asiatic steppes, Russia's ancient enemy. And soon Nicholas and his fellow travellers, Smith, Stanley and the faithful Hodge, are caught up in their most dangerous adventure yet, trapped in a doomed Muscovy ruled by a deranged but cunning Czar Ivan, and with a vast army of Tatar tribesmen riding down upon them, vowed to burn the city to the ground and extinguish Russia forever...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Spartans at the Gates' by Noble Smith

Release date: 24th June 2014
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN No: 978 1250025586

The Peloponnesian War has begun. An army of merciless Spartan invaders have arrived at the gates of Plataea, bent on obliterating the city and its inhabitants. Plataea's oldest allies, the Athenians, are spread too thin in their own campaigns to send help. Cut off and alone, the Plataeans dig in behind their high walls for the coming siege, while the ruthless Spartans gather outside. On a rugged mountain road a young Plataean warrior named Nikias rides to Athens on an urgent quest. He carries with him a bag of ill-gotten gold, hoping to raise an army of mercenaries to help defend his city from the coming Spartan assault. But in the sprawling stronghold of Athens, Nikias encounters perils that prove to be more dangerous than those he has faced on the battlefield. Noble Smith's "Spartans at the Gates" is a thrilling action-adventure novel set during the war between the great powers of Ancient Greece.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Heroes' Welcome' by Louisa Young

Release date: 24th may 2014
Published by: The Borough Press
ISBN No: 978 0007361465

The Heroes’ Welcome is the incandescent sequel to the bestselling R&J pick My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You. Its evocation of a time deeply wounded by the pain of WW1 will capture and beguile readers fresh to Louisa Young’s wonderful writing, and those previously enthralled by the stories of Nadine and Riley, Rose, Peter and Julia.

1919, and Britain is realising that it is no longer at war. Now, Nadine and Riley, Rose, and Peter and Julia, must try to regain a sense of normality.

But long shadows cast by the war dim the potential joys of peacetime, and matters of the heart prove arduous and bewildering. Normality doesn’t seem to exist the way it did, and there is no ‘going back’ to anything. What must give, for happiness to stand a chance?

For those who fought, those who healed and those left behind, 1919 is a year freighted with perilous beginnings, unavoidable realities and gleams of indestructible hope.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis