Announcement: New Hannah Richell Novel coming in Mid-2018

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Fiona Hazard, the Publishing Director of Hachette Australia, has announced the Australia-New Zealand acquisition rights to a new novel by Hannah Richell, The Peacock Summer, in a joint deal with Orion, UK. It is the first novel to be released by Hannah since the publication of her first two novels, Secrets of the Tides (2012), one of the highest selling books on the Nielsen Book Scan that year, and picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and the Waterstones Book Club in the UK. Secrets of the Tides was shortlisted in Australia for the Australian Independent Bookseller Award (ABIA) for best Debut Fiction and ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year in 2013, the same year her second novel, The Shadow Year was published to similar acclaim.

Taking a break after the death of her husband, Matt, for whose honour and memory the Richell Award is named, she has slowly come back to The Peacock Summer, to simultaneously released in Australia, New Zealand and the UK in July 2018, with translation rights sold in Germany, France and Sweden, with more to follow.

Here is another book to look out for to complete the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge this year.

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Quoted from Press Release:

The Peacock Summer will be published in Australia and New Zealand by Hachette publisher Vanessa Radnidge, who says: ‘This is a deeply moving novel about family secrets and the damage that can carry down through generations. It is heartbreakingly good and utterly captivating as it explores themes of love, control, duty and the redemption and hope that comes from forgiveness. With this novel, Hannah Richell further proves her outstanding talent.’

BLURB:

TWO SUMMERS, DECADES APART. TWO WOMEN WHOSE LIVES ARE FOREVER ENTWINED. AND A HOUSE THAT HOLDS THE SECRETS THAT COULD FREE THEM BOTH.

At twenty-six, Lillian feels ancient and exhausted. Her marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she thought it would. To her it seems she is just another beautiful object captured within the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s Chilterns manor house. But, with a young stepson and a sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no way out for her. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist visiting their home and her world is turned on its head.

Maggie Oberon ran from the hurt and resentment she caused. Half a world away, in Australia, it was easier to forget, to pretend she didn’t care. But when her grandmother, Lillian, falls ill she must head back to Cloudesley. Forced to face her past, she will learn that all she thought was real, all that she held so close, was never as it seemed.

An utterly compelling story of secrets, betrayals and the consequences of a long- ago summer.

Booktopia

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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.

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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.

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

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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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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.

Booktopia

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!

Booktopia

The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett

The-Tides-Between-300x450.jpgTitle: The Tides Between

Author: Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Genre: Historical Fiction, YA

Publisher: Odyssey Books

Published: 20th October 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 300

Price: $23.95

Synopsis: In 1841, on the eve of her departure from London, Bridie’s mother demands she forget her dead father and prepare for a sensible, adult life in Port Phillip. Desperate to save her childhood, fifteen-year-old Bridie is determined to smuggle a notebook filled with her father’s fairy tales to the far side of the world.

When Rhys Bevan, a soft-voiced young storyteller and fellow traveller realises Bridie is hiding something, a magical friendship is born. But Rhys has his own secrets and the words written in Bridie’s notebook carry a dark double meaning.

As they inch towards their destination, Rhys’s past returns to haunt him. Bridie grapples with the implications of her dad’s final message. The pair take refuge in fairy tales, little expecting the trouble it will cause.

When Elizabeth Jane Corbett isn’t writing, she works as a librarian, teaches Welsh at the Melbourne Celtic Club, writes reviews and articles for the Historical Novel Society and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. An early draft of her debut novel, The Tides Between, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award. Elizabeth lives with her husband, Andrew, in a renovated timber cottage in Melbourne’s inner-north. She likes red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far, far away.

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Bridie Stewart’s life is about to change forever. Aged fifteen, she is about to embark on a journey with her mother and stepfather that will take her half-way across the world to the colonies of Australia, far from what she knows. Adamant she will never forget her father, Bridie smuggles a notebook, her final gift from him on board, where she meets Rhys Bevan and his wife, Siân, and with Rhys, she begins to fill her notebook with Welsh fairy tales. These stories help them on their journey, both of them loved by their families but at the same time, feeling alone. And so, a friendship forms between Rhys, Siân and Bridie, as they write stories together along the arduous journey from England to Port Phillip. Along the way, there will be magic, woven through the words and music of the stories Rhys shares with Bridie, and over time, she will grow up. As they enter the waters of Australia, there is trouble and tragedy to come, that will hit them all and cause immense pain.

Elizabeth Jane Corbett’s novel takes place almost entirely on the fictional emigrant ship, The Lady Sophia, bookended by the departure and destination in the opening and final chapters. Through Bridie and Rhys, in third person, the novel moves easily between their perspectives and has a shroud of mystery about it, where details about the characters and their histories are revealed at exactly the right time. The fairy tale feel of this novel is what makes it unique and magical, and makes what would have been a very arduous journey in the 1840s bearable, at least for a while.

It is a lovely story of friendship and the power of fairy tales during hard times and tragedy, and how stories can shape our world and the way we see it. The stories are what begin to heal Bridie, leading up to the climatic tragedy that brings several surprises to those aboard the ship, and realisations from characters who had once shrugged Bridie and her family, and the other steerage passengers off, such as Doctor Roberts. Each character has flaws that they come to recognise, or not, as the novel progresses, and relationships between some have changed by the end of the novel.

I enjoyed that this novel focussed more on the friendships and family relationships, and Bridie’s individual character than a romantic relationship, something that is quite refreshing in literature and in Young Adult novels, showing that there is more to life than romance – it shows that other relationships can have the same degree of love, but in a different and perhaps more important way to some people. Bridie was a delightful character, full of life, wonder ad kindness towards those around her. The ending was sweet and realistic, showing the impact that the journey and her friendship with Rhys had had on the two of them. A wonderful novel that can be enjoyed beyond the Young Adult age group.

Booktopia

The Sister’s Song by Louise Allan

*Read in 2017, published review in 2018*
sisters songTitle: The Sister’s Song

Author: Louise Allan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 2nd January 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Set in rural Tasmania from the 1920s to the 1990s, The Sisters’ Song traces the lives of two very different sisters. One for whom giving and loving are her most natural qualities and the other who cannot forgive and forget.

As children, Ida loves looking after her younger sister, Nora, but when their beloved father dies in 1926, everything changes. The two young girls move in with their grandmother who is particularly encouraging of Nora’s musical talent. Nora eventually follows her dream of a brilliant musical career, while Ida takes a job as a nanny and their lives become quite separate.

The two sisters are reunited when Nora’s life takes an unwelcome direction and she finds herself, embittered and resentful, isolated in the Tasmanian bush with a husband and children.

Ida longs passionately for a family and when she marries Len, a reliable and good man, she hopes to soon become a mother. Over time, it becomes clear that this is never likely to happen. In Ida’s eyes, it seems that Nora possesses everything in life that could possibly matter yet she values none of it.

Set in rural Tasmania over a span of seventy years, the strengths and flaws of motherhood are revealed through the mercurial relationship of these two very different sisters. The Sisters’ Song speaks of dreams, children and family, all entwined with a musical thread that binds them together.

~*~

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Most of the time when a novel contains love, it is the romantic kind, between two unrelated people, crossing paths and finding themselves tumbling head-first into a relationship, and its ups and downs, creating a much-loved genre amongst many readers. However, as someone who is not an avid fan of such novels, I always love it when I come across a novel where if there is romance, it is a subplot, or an element of the novel, and the main story shifts the important focus to something else, like family – a kind of love that is not often seen in many novels, but one that I have begun to see as creeping into books by Australian women writers, sometimes alongside a historical backdrop and some romantic love. It is this familial love that drives and instigates the plot of the debut novel by Louise Allan, The Sister’s Song.

 

Beginning in 1926 and set in Tasmania, and spanning the next seventy years, The Sister’s Song follows the lives of Ida and Nora Parker after their father dies, and their mother withdraws into herself. Nora is a gifted singer and piano player, and dedicated to faith, aww2017-badgeguided by the loving hand of her grandmother. Ida is the opposite, unsure of her place in the world, only knowing there are things she is not good at. When they grow up, their paths separate and Nora goes to the mainland to study music, against all her mother’s wishes, and Ida stays behind, becomes a nanny, weds, hoping to start a family. Their mother tries to keep Nora in Tasmania in the rural town they live in with their grandmother, pushing realism, not dreams, into their heads as the way to go. For Ida, this advice sticks with her but so does a feeling of wanting to be a better mother, a better sister. When Nora falls pregnant, she is sent home and married off to another man, and from here, the sister’s lives take a new turn, with Nora bearing the children Ida wishes she could, and each sister turning into what they never thought they would become.

Where Nora becomes more like their mother, Ida becomes more like their mother’s mother, and a supportive Aunt whose nephews and niece turn to in times of strife. Throughout the years, these sisters fight and come together, and ultimately, show the power of sisterly love through hard times. Spanning across seventy years, The Sister’s Song hints at the historical events Ida and Nora live through, but these moments are almost like passing ships as the reader becomes invested in the characters. I found that the love between the sisters, and Nora’s children was stronger, and had more depth in them than some romance novels I have read – deeper, more meaningful relationships always make a book more relatable and readable for me.

Louise Allan has created characters with flaws, that are not perfect and who make mistakes, and she allows them to make mistakes. She allows them to act and live within their time and frame of understanding as well, ensuring that their attitudes suit what they know, even if there are characters who find these attitudes shocking. Through Ida and Nora, various ways of living and thinking are explored, and understood over the years. It is a beautifully crafted story that shows everyone is human, and that everyone has the capability to follow their dreams, to fall, and to find their way back to who they once were, and the changing dynamics of family throughout time.

Ideal for readers looking for a new reader and a new author, and a refreshing take on the relationships that women have in literature and fiction. It’s always lovely to see one that doesn’t focus on falling in love, as it gives some variety and spice to female characters and their stories.

Booktopia

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