Book Bingo One: A Book Set More Than 100 Years Ago

 

 

 

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To kick off my book bingo, I have a book that would have ticked off three squares. However, as with the Popsugar Challenge, I would like to see if I can do a different book for each square.

 

Throughout this challenge, I will be marking off squares as the books fit them, at least for the rather open categories. In doing it this way, I am not purposely deciding which book will fit where or what order I will get a bingo in, or even if I do. I am letting by review books for the most part, guide me through the challenges as I find the categories that they can fit into, possibly stretching a few to make some fit or interpreting them as open, as some categories have that feel about them.

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To check off the very first square, A Book Set More Than 100 Years Ago, I have allotted one of my first #AWW2018 reads, reviewed on the 11th of January, Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham. This book would also check off a book by an Australian woman, however, there are many contenders for that, and it will be easily filled. The other square it wouldhave ticked off is A book with a mystery – another category I will be able to fill easily in the coming months.

book bingo 2018

So that is one book of twenty-five in the bingo challenge down, and hopefully, there will be a few more to report in early February.

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A.A. Milne’s Birthday – Winnie-the-Pooh Day

Today marks A.A. Milne’s birthday. One hundred and thirty-four years ago, on the 18th of January 1882, Alan Alexander Milne was born in London. He attended Trinity College at Cambridge University before writing for Punch, and serving in World War One. A pacifist at heart, Milne served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, followed by the Royal Corps Signals, and was discharged in 1919. A.A. Milne is most famous for the Winnie-the-Pooh novels and poetry books, written during the 1920s, after his son, Christopher Robin was born in 1920, seven years after marrying his wife, Daphne.

Of all of Milne’s works, the most famous are the Winnie-the-Pooh books, written between 1924 and 1928, and were written for his son, and were published in the following order:

When We Very Young (1924)

very young

Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)

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Now We Are Six (1927)

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The House at Pooh Corner (1928)

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Anniversary editions:

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus (2009)

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The Best Bear in the World (2016) 

best bear

Of these, the novels, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner are the most well-known, though all are still in print today, over ninety years after publication, with The House at Pooh Corner turning ninety this year. Milne based the adventures of Pooh and his characters on his own son and his son’s toys, and the books were illustrated by E.H. Shepherd, and even today, are the benchmark in my opinion, for Pooh illustrations.

Milne’s birthday, the 18th of January, is also known as Winnie the Pooh Day. It is a wonderful day to relive the magic of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends.

Though Milne wrote other pieces of work during his career for Punch and a detective novel, The Red House Mystery (1922), and worked on stage play adaptations for The Wind in the Willows, he will always be best known for Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the gang, and the 100 Acre Wood and the adventures of his son, Christopher Robin.

Further Reading on A.A. Milne:

HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY (As Owl might say Happy Birthday)

A.A. Milne: His Life by Ann Thwaite

Goodbye, Christopher Robin by Ann Thwaite

 

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Stella Prize 2018 and #StellaSpark

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There are many major literary awards that cover genres, styles, and various nationalities, and some that are international. However, there is one significant award in Australia that has been running since 2013. The Stella Prize is a major literary award that champions and highlights Australian women’s writing, and as a result, is an organisation that champions cultural change. It is named after one of the most iconic female writers in Australia – Stella Maria Sarah “Miles” Franklin. Fiction and non-fiction books by Australian women are eligible for entry. Below is a list of what the Stella Prize seeks to do, quoted from their website:

The Stella Prize seeks to:

  • recognise and celebrate Australian women writers’ contribution to literature

  • bring more readers to books by women and thus increase their sales

  • equip young readers with the skills to question gender disparities and challenge stereotypes, and help girls find their voice

  • reward one writer with a $50,000 prize – money that buys a writer some measure of financial independence and thus time, that most undervalued yet necessary commodity for women, to focus on their writing

AWW-2018-badge-roseA prize that works to highlight the voices of women writers in Australia is highly commendable. It serves the purpose of allowing women of Australia, regardless of age, ethnicity, race and so forth, to be represented and be heard in reviews, in writing and across all avenues of connection about Australian Women Writers. Reading has always been a passion of mine and I have always enjoyed Australian literature, and in particular, literature written by Australian Women Writers. In the last two years, I have started to pay more attention to Australian Women Writers that I read, out of curiosity to see what kind of authors populate my list more, whilst still realising that there are many other authors that do not necessarily fall into the category of Australian women writers that I will read and enjoy.

One thing that the Stella Prize works on is the Stella Count – a survey of how many Australian women versus male writers are reviewed by major publications and literary magazines. To build up the profile of Australian women writers and when I can, women writers in general, I try and review as many of them as I can on my blog. To work out my count, I keep a log, not only of every book read during the year, but a separate log for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, to see how I fare in my goals.

This year, there is a new campaign – The Stella Spark Campaign, where people can share their favourite book they have read written by an Australian woman in the past year on social media using the hashtag – #StellaSpark. This is an amazing prize and imitative that works to amplify the voices of women writers in Australia and raise their profile. Each year I peruse the long and short lists of the prize to see if something jumps out at me, and sometimes to see if I have read one of the nominees or the winner.

The long list will be announced in February, with the shortlist announced in March.

My #StellaSparks

Facing the Flame by Jackie French

Facing the Flame

Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth

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Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

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A Dangerous Language

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Draekora

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200 Years of Emily Brontë

2018 marks the two hundredth anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth. The fifth of six children, Emily lived with her parents and siblings at Haworth, a Pennine village in Yorkshire, England. Born on the 30th of July 1818, Emily Brontë, along with her sisters Anne and Charlotte, are the most well-known of the Brontë siblings.

Growing up, Emily didn’t receive much formal schooling than her sisters. Instead, most of her education took place at Haworth from tutors, and family members, such as her sister Charlotte. Her broader education came from her father. Happiest at home, Emily didn’t last long in traditional school or working for other people.

Emily wrote from the time she could read, much like her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, and brother, Branwell, creating the imaginary world of Gondal together, a collaboration that does not seem to have lasted. However, this literary family has produced some of the most famous works in English literature that are still widely known and read even today, over a century after their publication. The Haworth website speculates that it is possible that Emily never abandoned her imaginary world, yet it is her 1847 novel she is best known for.

Emily’s only book, Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847, just over 170 years ago. Today, it is a much-loved classic read by many, and known across the literary world. However, at the time it was published, Emily wrote under a nom de plume – Ellis Bell, and her sisters wrote as Acton and Currer Bell. Not wanting to reveal her true identity upon publication, Emily refused to go to London to do so. Only a year after Wuthering Heights was published, at the age of thirty, Emily died on the 19th of December 1848.

The endurance of the Brontës and their writing for over 150 years could be due to the passion in their books, and the fact that people will mostly love them or hate them – for me, perhaps it has more to do with the spectrum of emotions that these books evoke. I’m not on either extreme, but somewhere comfortably in the middle, where I can enjoy it but don’t need to declare an extreme love or hatred for the book. Perhaps Wuthering Heights has enjoyed the endurance it has after Emily’s death because it was her only book, whereas her sisters, Anne and Charlotte, wrote a few more – the titles lesser well known than their most famous ones – The Tennant of Wildfell Hall and Jane Eyre respectively. Whatever the reason, the fact that it is still readily available in bookstores and libraries, and still read and studied, indicates that it has indeed made a mark on literary culture – and that it has endured over the decades to be one of the best known stories ever.

Wuthering Heights

Synopsis taken from the Penguin Random House website:

Wuthering Heights has achieved an almost mythical status as a love story, yet it is also a unique masterpiece of the imagination: an unsettling, transgressive novel about obsession, violence and death.

“May you not rest, as long as I am living. You said I killed you – haunt me, then

Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.

The Penguin English Library – 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

It has been a while since I read Wuthering Heights. But with the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth approaching, I will try to plan another read. Have any of you read it, and what did you think about it?

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Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

mr dickens.jpgTitle: Mr. Dickens and His Carol

Author: Samantha Silva

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Faber Factory Plus/Allison and Busby/Allen and Unwin

Published: 22nd November 2017

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 320

Price: $24.99

Synopsis: ‘A charming, comic, and ultimately poignant Christmas tale about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written. It’s as foggy and haunted and redemptive as the original; it’s all heart, and I read it in a couple of ebullient, Christmassy gulps.’ Anthony Doerr, bestselling author of All The Light We Cannot See

For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, avid fans litter the streets and he and his wife have five happy children and a sixth on the way. But when Dickens’ latest book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a flop, the glorious life threatens to collapse around him.
His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, and increasingly plagued by self-doubt, Dickens meets the muse he needs in Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy. With time running out, Dickens is propelled on a Scrooge-like journey through Christmases past and present.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a charming, comic, and ultimately poignant Christmas tale about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written. It’s as foggy and haunted and redemptive as the original; it’s all heart, and I read it in a couple of ebullient, Christmassy gulps.’ Anthony Doerr, bestselling author of All The Light We Cannot See

~*~

Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva focuses on what drove Dickens to write his most famous story, A Christmas Carol in 1843. In this novel, Dickens has been approached by his publishers, whose grave news of the failure of Martin Chuzzlewit over in America starts to eat away at him, and his usually charitable donations he gives out. For economic reasons, they encourage Dickens to write a Christmas story. In Silva’s version, these events happen not long before Christmas, with the book published days before Christmas. Silva has Dickens go through a similar transformation to Scrooge, though his reasons for wanting to cut back are presented as economic struggles rather than a selfish desire for money. On his journey, Dickens encounters the homeless and impoverished children of London, and a young woman named Eleanor Lovejoy, and her son, Timothy – who inspire the version we know and love today.

This fictional retelling of how Dickens came to write one of the best loved Christmas stories in the world draws from threads of information and biography that the author collected, and showed that someone many people depended on, a man whose heart was big, could be crippled by the very thing his books made social commentary about: poverty, or near poverty. Dickens was plagued by debts at the time, but the demands on his aid and from family didn’t stop – nor did they take him seriously in the novel when he said he couldn’t help. For Dickens, a chance meeting with the Lovejoys gives him the inspiration he needs to write the book that people all around the world know and love today: A Christmas Carol.

The London that Dickens inhabits leaps from the page, fog and all, just as it is in his books. His time alone with the Lovejoys is akin to the journey of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, where Dickens finds his way back to family and Christmas, and the magic in his heart that makes him the kind and generous man everyone knows he is. It is a heart-warming story, and portrays Dickens as merely human, a man who just likes to write and wants the best for his family, but also feels pressure from outside forces to do everything and please everyone. As an aspiring author, one line stuck with me, where Dickens is talking to his publishers and they are telling him what audiences want. His response about writers having to be told what to write by an audience even then shows the pressure authors are under to please an audience of readers. Despite this attitude, Dickens ended up writing a wonderful story that illustrates what Christmas is about, and the meaning of family and humanity, reflecting the attitudes of what it meant to be rich and poor in Victorian London.

I enjoyed this, even though it was a fictional reimaging of the journey Dickens took to write A Christmas Carol because it allowed an insight into what kind of journeys a writer goes on, and how they come to write certain books. The fog, and the cobblestones were as real as the figures that populated Dickens world and the young pauper boys who followed him around, wanting to put on a play of his work, and wanting to be immortalised as characters on the page. Silva has used research and her imagination in a wonderful union to recreate this time in Dickens’ life, and I will be aiming to read it again this coming December, alongside my other Christmas books.

I read this after Christmas as it arrived in early January from Allen and Unwin, but it is one that will make a great Christmas read, and enjoyable to read beside A Christmas Carol. I loved this book and I think fans of Dickens, lovers of Christmas and literature will enjoy this delightful book.

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Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings (Rose Raventhorpe #3) by Janine Beacham

rose raventhorpe 3Title: Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings (Rose Raventhorpe #3)

Author: Janine Beacham

Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime/Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Published: 11th January 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 277

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The city of Yorke is under attack and it’s up to Rose Raventhorpe and Yorke’s secret society of butlers to find the culprit! The third mystery in the Rose Raventhorpe Investigates series.

The Clockwork Sparrow meets Downton Abbey

The city of Yorke is in a panic. There’s been a murder! Is an ancient ghost-hound called the Barghest on the loose?

ROSE RAVENTHORPE, her friend Orpheus and the secret society of butlers search for clues in the dark, eerie skitterways, on the mist-covered moors, and atop the ancient walls of the city. Rose believes that the villain is human, and she’s determined to prove it.

There’s no sweeping this crime under the carpet…

 

~*~

 

AWW-2018-badge-roseRose Raventhorpe returns in her third adventure, Hounds and Hauntings. Yorke awakens one day to the death of a young local pickpocket named Moll, in Mad Meg Lane. The old legends of the Barghest start to be bandied about, calling up the old superstitions of Yorke and the surrounding areas within the walls. As Rose, her friend Orpheus, and Heddsworth, Rose’s butler, head towards a new chocolate shop that is opening, they stumble across the crime scene, where they are soon joined by Miss Wildcliffe, her dog, and the other Silvercrest Butlers as the police try to convince everyone Miss Wildcliffe’s dog is to blame. Told to leave by the police, Rose, Orpheus and the butlers of Silvercrest begin their own investigations, leading to unforeseen events and consequences, and an exciting ending where the case is solved, but a sense of mystery still abounds. And Rose’s cat, Watchful, is ever present, keeping Rose safe and secure. Just as in the previous books, the clues and hints are dropped at the right time for the reader to discover at the same time as Rose, creating an exciting atmosphere and pace that keeps the story going, and ensures a well-timed yet quick discovery when it is most needed.

 

Three books into this series, and each one is as good as the previous one. None have disappointed so far, delving into myths and legends from around the area Rose’s Yorke is based on to create a story and place that feels just as real as York in Yorkshire, including the Cathedral. Within this book, the world of Rose is very Victorian but with characters who are not what everyone expects them to be – Bronson, the female butler, was at first a surprise in the first book, but is quite a favourite now – the kind of surprise that works so well, it is a delightful surprise that I simply was not expecting. Rose bridges a gap between a proper Lady of society, and breaking out of gender and class roles as she works with the butlers to solve cases. Miss Wildcliffe is referred to as the authoress, a very Victorian phrase that works exceptionally well in this book to situate the character within her time and place, and what she represents.

 

Each book has something unexpected and new to discover as we venture through Rose’s world. With her parents absent in this novel, Rose had a lot more freedom, though at times, was still constrained by what adults around her thought she could do – nonetheless, she as usual, fought alongside the butlers for justice, and uncovered secrets at the end that those holding them would rather have kept to themselves.

 

Another delightful read from Janine Beacham, I hope there are more Rose Raventhorpe books to come.

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Book Bingo 2018

At the start of this year, I had decided to undertake the annual Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, and the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge. As I will read some books that will work for both, this shouldn’t be a massive undertaking, apart from a few categories that won’t coincide with the #AWW2018.

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Whilst perusing some of my favourite blogs today, I came across a Book Bingo, that Theresa Smith Writes and Mrs B’s Book Reviews are taking part in. I decided to give this a go, deciding that I would be more casual, and try to fill as many squares as I could. Rather than actively seek out all the squares, I am aiming to see where books for the other challenges fit into them to make it easier for me. I do have some books that won’t fit the #AWW2018 but might fit this and the other challenge I can do.

As today is launch day, there is no review for today. I aim to have one up on the 20th though, possibly scheduled. Keep an eye out for it and a note about which square it has filled.

To try and keep involved with Theresa and Mrs B, I will aim to complete a bingo review on the first and third Saturday of the month, whichever square happens to be have been filled at that time, and that will be the review I post.

I will be aiming to complete this over the course of the year, however, if I miss a few squares I won’t worry, though filling them all would be a very cool achievement. As part of this year’s reading journey, being able to use books across a few challenges will help me complete as many reviews and as many categories as possible.

If I double up with Theresa and Mrs B, that will be entirely coincidental, but also rather fun and interesting to see how we manage to fill the squares, and as some categories are open, what we choose to read for these ones.

My focus is of course, the #AWW2018 challenge, but this is just a bit of added fun.

Here is the bingo below, and ping-backs to Theresa and Mrs B are in the second paragraph.

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If you want to join me, as a blogger, ping back this and the other posts, and share your reviews!

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