Winners of the Indie Book Awards Announcement.

Congratulations to the following books and their fabulous home-grown authors for winning in the following categories for the Indie Book Awards, especially Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend, which won in two categories! These winners were announced today and what a wonderful surprise to get home to!

nevermoor

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend: Children’s Book of the Year and Book of the Year

The Choke by Sophie Laguna: Fiction Winner

Wimmera by Michael Brandi: Debut Fiction Winner

Native: Art & Design with Australian Plants by Kate Herd & Jela Ivankovic-Waters: Illustrated Non-Fiction Winner

Wilder Country by Mark Smith: Young Adult Winner

2018 is the first year that a children’s book – Nevermoor – has won overall, and it is even more special as this is the tenth year the Indie Awards have been running!

I’ve read Nevermoor and can say it’s well deserving of all the nominations, shortlists and prizes it has been winning as it is an engaging story and full of wonder and magic. Much like some other prize winners I have read, it captures the reader and their imagination, and opens up a world of possibilities to them. Of the others, I have Wimmera on my reading pile, as well as several of the long listed and shortlisted works, some of which I have also read.

Seeing such amazing books and many Australian authors getting the recognition they deserve is amazing, and shows that the love of books is still around.

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The Book of Answers: The Ateban Cipher Book 2 by A.L. Tait

ateban cipher 2Title: The Book of Answers: The Ateban Cipher Book 2

Author: A.L. Tait

Genre: Fantasy, Children’s

Publisher: Lothian Children’s Books

Published: 27th March 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 265

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: An orphan in exile. A band of rebel girls. And a prince whose throne has been stolen. Come on a journey full of danger, intrigue, adventure and incredible secrets.

‘The Ateban Cipher,’ Lucien continued, ‘is also known as the Book of Answers.’
‘Answers to what?’ Eddie asked.
Lucien sighed. ‘Everything.

In the second gripping Ateban Cipher novel, Gabe and his companions journey to a remote mountain citadel where they learn the secret of the mysterious, encrypted book that Gabe has been tasked with protecting. But their enemies are close behind them, and new dangers lie ahead.

As Eddie seeks to regain his crown, and Merry and Gwyn race to free their father, Gabe will discover the answer to his own great mystery – his true identity.

~*~

Picking up where The Book of Secrets left off, Gabe, Gwyn, Merry and Midge are joined by EAWW-2018-badge-roseddie, the lost prince who has been imprisoned whilst an imposter, and puppet of those who have seized control of the country and seek to take over once the King has died, sits on the throne. Now they have escaped from the clutches of Whitmore, Ronan and Sherborne, they must seek out Lucien, who lives in isolation, and take the Ateban Cipher to him, to help uncover its secrets. But what they will find there are more than answers about the book Gabe has been entrusted with – secrets and answers to the questions that Gabe has often asked but never had answered.

As they seek to uncover the secrets, Gwyn and Merry are still seeking to free their father, whilst Midge and Scarlett are following their paths, determined to make sure they find their own destinies. Whilst Eddie, with their help, seeks to find out what has made his father so ill and so near death, and regain his crown. As new dangers lurk around each corner, and Whitmore, and Ronan pursue them across the land, the group of unlikely friends forges bonds so strong that they will do anything for each other.

Much like the first book, the characters dive straight into the action, with the ever present threat of those who are trying to take over the kingdom, and who are after the book Gabe is protecting, never stopping for anything as they pursue them, which makes reading this book quick, and exciting, as I wanted to see what would happen at each turn. Aimed at middle grade readers, it can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested, boys and girls.

Much like the first book, I loved that the girls – Gwyn, Merry, and Scarlett in particular, were the heroes, and knew their own minds – they didn’t do what those around them expected them to do, they did what they wanted, especially Scarlett, looking for a way out of a marriage that would have made her unhappy.

Midge was adorable, and brave, and an absolutely fantastically surprising character. I think she was my favourite character, though they were all well written and awesome. Gabe and Eddie were wonderful too – seeing characters who break the mould of what is expected by readers and other characters in the story is always something great to see. I loved Gabe’s sensitivity and understanding, and Eddie’s willingness to help out where he could and see Gabe, Gwyn, Merry, Midge and Scarlett as equals who wanted the same things that he did – peace restored and prisoners released, with King and true prince restored to the throne.

Gabe’s discoveries were unexpected but worked well with the story – and came at just the right time, with the right pacing. Overall, the elements of The Book of Answers worked really well together, and all the elements tied together nicely at the end. A great read for children aged ten and older, and adults if they like these sorts of stories, and it is a nice quick read as well, which is all down to the well-written pacing of the story.

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NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlist for 2018

One of the Australia’s literary awards has just announced the shortlist for 2018 – The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, with the winner to be announced in April. Each category and the shortlisted novels for this prize are listed below for 2018, and information about each prize category can be found here in a previous post:

The Christina Stead Prize for Fiction:

Common People by Tony Birch, published by UQP

Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark by Catherine Cole, published by UWA

Pulse Points by Jennifer Down, published by Text Publishing

The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser, published by Text Publishing

The Restorer by Michael Sala, published by Text Publishing

Taboo by Kim Scott

Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction:

Victoria: The Woman Who Made the Modern World by Julia Baird, published by HarperCollins Publishers “A passion for exploring new countries” Matthew Flinders & George Bass by Josephine Bastian, published by Australian Scholarly Publishing

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett, published by Text Publishing

Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth by Paul Ham, published by Penguin Random House Australia

The Green Bell: a memoir of love, madness and poetry by Paula Keogh, published by Affirm Press

The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton, published by Penguin Random House Australia

Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry:

Archipelago by Adam Aitken, published by Vagabond Press

Euclid’s dog: 100 algorithmic poems by Jordie Albiston, published by Gloria SMH Press

Bone Ink by Rico Craig, published by Guillotine Press

Argosy by Bella Li, published by Vagabond Press

Captive and Temporal by Nguyễn TiĂȘn HoĂ ng, published by Vagabond Press

These Wild Houses by Omar Sakr, published by Cordite Books

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van T Rudd, published by Hachette Australia

The Elephant by Peter Carnavas published by UQP

Blossom by Tamsin Janu, published by Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia

Figgy Takes the City by Tamsin Janu, published by Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia

How To Bee by Bren MacDibble, published by Allen & Unwin

The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear by Margrete Lamond and illustrated by Heather Vallance, published by Dirt Lane Press

Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature

In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black, published by Hardie Grant Egmont

the blue cat

The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky, published by Allen & Unwin

The Ones That Disappeared by Zana Fraillon, published by Hachette Australia

A Shadow’s Breath by Nicole Hayes, published by Penguin Random House Australia

The Build-Up Season by Megan Jacobson, published by Penguin Random House Australia

Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield, published by Text Publishing

Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting

The Sound of Waiting by Mary Anne Butler, published by Brown’s Mart Arts Ltd

Rice by Michele Lee, Presented by Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company, published by Playlab

Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui, published by Sydney Theatre Company

Mark Colvin’s Kidney by Tommy Murphy, published by Currency Press and Belvoir

Little Emperors by Lachlan Philpott, published by Malthouse Theatre

The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man by Tom Wright, published by Malthouse Theatre

Betty Rowland Prize for Scriptwriting

Deep Water: The Real Story written by Amanda Blue and Jacob Hickey – Blackfella Films

Top of the Lake: China Girl, Series 2 Episode 4 ‘Birthday’ by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee – See-Saw Films

Sweet Country by Steven McGregor and David Tranter – Bunya Productions

Seven Types of Ambiguity, Episode 2 ‘Alex’ by Jacquelin Perske – Matchbox Pictures

Please Like Me, Series 4 Episode 5 ‘Burrito Bowl’ by Josh Thomas, Thomas Ward and Liz Doran – Guesswork TV

Multicultural Award NSW

No More Boats by Felicity Castagna, published by Giramondo Publishing

The Permanent Resident by Roanna Gonsalves, published by UWA Publishing

Dark Convicts by Judy Johnson, published by UWA Publishing

The Family Law, Series 2 Episode 4 by Benjamin Law and Kirsty Fisher – Matchbox Pictures

Down the Hume by Peter Polites, published by Hachette Australia

Quicksilver by Nicholas Rothwell, published by Text Publishing

Indigenous Writer’s Prize

Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling by Larissa Behrendt, published by UQP

Common People by Tony Birch, published by UQP

Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss, published by Simon & Schuster Australia

The Drover’s Wife by Leah Purcell published and produced by Currency Press and Belvoir in association with Oombarra Productions)

Taboo by Kim Scott, published by Pan Macmillam Australia

UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing

2018 Shortlist The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on 30 April 2018. There is no shortlist for this category.

About the award

  • The UTS Glenda Adams Award ($5,000) is for a published book of fiction written by an author who has not previously published a book-length work of narrative fiction or narrative non-fiction.

  • The Award seeks to recognise outstanding new literary talent. The winning author may produce an excellent piece of writing in a traditional fictional form or may challenge and expand the boundaries of the genre.

  • The winner of the UTS Glenda Adams Award is chosen from entries submitted for the Christina Stead Prize (no additional entry fee is required for this award).

  • Entrants who meet the UTS Glenda Adams Award criteria should indicate on the nomination form if they wish to be considered for the Award.

  • There may not be a shortlist in this category.

NSW Premier’s Translation Prize – Next awarded 2019

Multicultural NSW Early Career Translator Prize – Next awarded 2019

 

 

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Australian Book Industry Awards Longlist 2018

The ABIA Longlist has also been announced today for 2018, and celebrates the diversity and quality of Australian writing, publishing and bookselling. The ABIA Academy – a group of booksellers, agents, media and industry representatives – voted for the longlist, and the 2018 campaign was long and exhaustive, resulting in this year’s academy having 250 members.

A shortlist will be announced of the nineteenth of April, and the winners announced at the ABIA Awards on the 3rd of May, at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The ABIA awards have been sponsored by: The Australian Women’s Weekly, JC Decaux, Media Super, Audible, Opus, Booktopia, Curtis Brown, Ingram, Nielsen Bookscan, Leading Edge Books, Simpsons Solicitors, John Fisher Printing, and industry partners, ABA, ALIA, APA, ASA, BorrowBox, The Copyright Agency, Books + Publishing and the Children’s Book Council.

The award has twelve categories, and below are the long-lists for each category:

BioAbia2018

Biography Book of the Year

  • A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work, Bernadette Brennan (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Danger Music, Eddie Ayres (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, Judith Brett (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Tracker, Alexis Wright (Giramondo Publishing, Giramondo Publishing Company)
  • Unbreakable, Jelena Dokic and Jess Halloran (Ebury Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Unmasked, Turia Pitt (Ebury Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Wednesdays with Bob, Derek Rielly and Bob Hawke (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia,)
  • Working Class Man, Jimmy Barnes (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)

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General Fiction Book of the Year

  • Force of Nature, Jane Harper (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • On the Java Ridge, Jock Serong (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • The Dark Lake, Sarah Bailey (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Girl from Munich, Tania Blanchard (Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Inaugural Meeting Of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club, Sophie Green (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • The Secrets She Keeps, Michael Robotham (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • The Tea Gardens, Fiona McIntosh (Michael Joseph Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Trip of A Lifetime, Monica McInerney (Michael Joseph Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)

GENERAL-NON-FICTION-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-Copyright-Agency-Square

General Non-fiction Book of the Year

  • Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness, Kate Cole-Adams (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Being 14,Madonna King (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • Depends What You Mean By Extremist, John Safran (Hamish Hamilton Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful, Sarah Wilson (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Not Just Lucky, Jamila Rizvi (Viking Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Saga Land, Richard Fidler and KĂĄri GĂ­slason (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Taming Toxic People, David Gillespie (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Harbour: A City’s Heart, A Country’s Soul, Scott Bevan (Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster, Sarah Krasnostein (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)

ABIA2018_Illustrated

Illustrated Book of the Year

  • Basics to Brilliance Kids, Donna Hay (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Cornersmith: Salads and Pickles, Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler (Murdoch Books, Murdoch Books)
  • Hummus and Co, Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley (Murdoch Books, Murdoch Books)
  • Maggie’s Recipe for Life, Maggie Beer and Professor Ralph Martins (A Julie Gibbs Book for Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Native: Art and Design with Australian Plants, Kate Herd and Jela Ivankovic-Waters (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Ostro, Julia Busuttil Nishimura (Plum, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Paris: Through a Fashion Eye, Megan Hess (Hardie Grant Books, Hardie Grant Publishing)
  • The Vegetable, Caroline Griffiths and Vicki Valsamis (Smith Street Books, Smith Street Books)

International-Book-of-the-Year-Square

International Book of the Year

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Elena Favilli and Francesa Cavallo (Particular Books -UK Juvenile, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth, Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, Philip Pullman (David Fickling Books, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Mythos, Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph – UK, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Sun and her Flowers, Rupi Kaur (Simon & Schuster UK, Simon & Schuster UK)

LITERARY-FICTION-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-longlist-SQUARE

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

  • A Long Way Home, Peter Carey (Hamish Hamilton Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Australia Day, Melanie Cheng (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • First Person, Richard Flanagan (Knopf Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • Taboo, Kim Scott (Picador Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Choke, Sofie Laguna (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Life to Come, Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Wimmera, Mark Brandi (Hachette, Hachette Australia)

SMALL-PUBLISHERS-ADULT-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-SQUARE

Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year

  • Atlantic Black, A. S. Patric (Transit Lounge, Transit Lounge)
  • Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture – A New Earth, Charles Massy (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)
  • Cardinal, Louise Milligan (Melbourne University Press, Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Journeys into the Wild: The Photography of Peter Dombrovskis, Introduction & Commentary by Bob Brown (NLA Publishing, National Library of Australia)
  • The Australian Bird Guide, Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin (CSIRO Publishing, CSIRO Publishing)
  • The Restorer, Michael Sala (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Museum of Words, Georgia Blain (Scribe Publications, Scribe Publications)
  • Mirror Sydney, Vanessa Berry (Giramondo Publishing, Giramondo Publishing Company)

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Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year

  • At the Beach I See, Kamsani Bin Salleh (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • At the Zoo I See, Joshua Button and Robyn Wells (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • Big Fella Rain, Beryl Webber and illustrated by Fern Martins (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • Hello, Melbourne!, Megan McKean (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • It’s OK to Feel the Way You Do, Josh Langley (Big Sky Publishing, Big Sky Publishing)
  • The Elephant, Peter Carnavas (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)
  • Slow Down, World, Tai Snaith (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Under the Love Umbrella, Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble Kids’ Books, Scribe Publications)

THE-MATT-RICHELL-AWARD-FOR-NEW-WRITER-OF-THE-YEAR-Simpsons-WIDE-Square

The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year

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Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+)

  • Beautiful Mess, Claire Christian (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Frogkisser!,Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • My Life as a Hashtag, Gabrielle Williams (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Take Three Girls, Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Tales From a Tall Forest, Shaun Micallef and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Silent Invasion, James Bradley (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Untidy Towns, Kate O’Donnell (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)

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Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12)

  • Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase, Peter Helliar and illustrated by Lesley Vamos (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • Funny Kid for President, Matt Stanton (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Maybe, Morris Gleitzman (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Nevermoor, Jessica Townsend (Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia)
  • Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster, Sally Rippin (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Bad Guys Episode 6, Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, Jaclyn Moriarty (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome, Katrina Nannestad (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The 91-Storey Treehouse, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)

PICTURE-BOOK-longlist-Square

Children’s Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6)

  • Do Not Lick This Book, Idan Ben-Barak and illustrated by Julian Frost (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Florette, Anna Walker (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • I Just Ate My Friend, Heidi McKinnon (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • I’m Australian Too, Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • Mopoke, Philip Bunting (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • Pig the Star, Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • No One Likes a Fart, ZoĂ« Foster Blake (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Bum Book, Kate Mayes and illustrated by Andrew Joyner (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Very Noisy Baby, Alison Lester (Affirm Press, Affirm Press)

Some books have been nominated for several other prxizes, and I would not be surprised if Nevermoor takes out Book of the Year for Younger Children. There are a few on these lists I have read, and several more I am planning on reading. I look forward to future announcements for this prize.

Booktopia

The Readings Children’s Book Prize shortlist 2018

The Readings Children’s Book Prize is yet another literary prize that promotes Australian writers, books and literature. Yesterday, the shortlist for 2018 was announced, and it includes these six books:

The six shortlisted titles for 2018 are:

Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile by Jo Sandhu
Nevermoor: The Trial of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Lintang and the Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss
The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
Home Time by Campbell Whyte

nevermoor

Of these, I have only read one so far, Nevermoor: The Trial of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend and have another, The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty on my to be read list. I’m looking forward to reading this one and possibly the others as I go and look foward to the announcement of the winner around April/May of this year.

AWW-2018-badge-rose

To be eligible for the Readings Children’s Book Prize, which celebrates new Australian books for children aged 5-12, the author must be an Australian citizen, with no more than three books in the children’s fiction category but must not be Young Adult or a picture book. If it is a series, only the first book is considered, and e-book only publications are not considered either. Entries must also be in English, and authors must be living when the book is published. Books published in 2018 that submit to these guidelines will be eligible for next year’s prize.

In 2018, the staff from the various Readings stores in Melbourne judging the prize are: Daniella Robertson from Malvern, Alexa Dretzke from Hawthorn, Dani Solomon from Carlton, and Kim Gruschow from St Kilda, and will be joined by Davina Bell, author of many children’s books, and is currently working at Affirm Press.

Good luck to all the entrants!

Booktopia

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

the belles.jpgTitle: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Genre: Fantasy/Magical Realism, Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz/Hachette Australia

Published: 13th February 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 434

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: ‘Looking for the next big ground-breaking event in YA? This is it.’ Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series Welcome to the dark decadence of Dhonielle Clayton’s sharp tale of beauty, obsession and magic. . . 
I AM A BELLE. I CONTROL BEAUTY.
In the opulent world of Orleans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.
Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.
When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.

‘Sumptuous and original world-building, heart-pounding plot and gorgeous prose.’ Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Season ‘A whip-smart writer with grand, grand talents.’ Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist ‘Breathtakingly beautiful and deeply unsettling.’ Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

~*~

In the magical world of OrlĂ©ans, beauty is everything, and people will do anything to attain it and hide the drab features they are all born with. But there is a select group of girls who are born into this world with the power of beauty, who have the power to control beauty, and give people the look that they want” The Belles. Each generation has its own set of Belles, going back as far as OrlĂ©ans does, an isle-like nation where the Belles are placed either in the palace as the favourite, or in the island tea houses to assist clients and make them beautiful, in the image that they desire, though they must adhere to rules set forth by the queen. In the generation in the books, it is Camellia and her sisters, Ambrosia, Hana, Padma, Edelweiss and Valerie who are competing for the role of the favourite. They’ve been training their whole lives for this chance, and when it comes, the result is not what they expected, nor what each of them desired.

Within the walls of the palace are dark secrets, secrets that nobody is privy to, and that the newsies and tatters can merely speculate at and send hushed whispers throughout the kingdom. The only people who truly know what is going on are at the palace – and unable to leave or disobey an order that they are given by the queen or her daughter, Princess Sophia. What Camellia will see, hear and have to do will be dark, and dangerous, hinting at a much darker power than any of the Belles could ever have imagined existing, and resulting in a climax that hints that there might be a sequel to come, as there are quite a few unanswered questions.

The world of the Belles is lavish and shows the darker side of beauty and fashion obsession and what it can drive people to, how desperate they might become. In a world where changing ones skin tone and entire look can be paid for, the racial tensions we experience in our world do not seem to be there, and relationships between the same sex and opposite sexes appeared to me to be the norm – where people are paired up based on alliances and the desires of a princess at times, and at other times, their own, but where a Belle is forbidden to fall in love with anyone. she must remain loyal to her sisters and the tea house she serves.

On the surface of OrlĂ©ans, things appear perfect: because people seem free to choose their look – skin tone, features, hair colour, eye colour, and clothing (for a price and only if you can afford it), and be with someone you love, the dark, underbelly seems that much more sinister – it is hidden beneath a layer of perfection, and desire for what one cannot be. In a world where loyalty can be bought, Camellia and her sisters will learn the price they must pay for loyalty and their own safety.

As the favourite, Camellia finds an ally in the Queen, her guard, RĂ©my, and the various former Belles who mentor her, including Arabella, the favourite from a former generation. As the story goes on, secrets are slowly revealed – ensuring that the interest of the reader is held throughout, even in darker areas where characters are forced into situations that where they fear for their lives. In a few scenes, the tension is raised, and the pacing in these scenes works well for what they portray – the darker side of the world the Belles live in and what they must do to survive Sophia.

It is a novel of many layers and facets that were peeled back slowly, and where things were hinted at that perhaps mean future books – the ending felt more like the climax of a to be continued storyline, where there is more to come about the Belles and their origins, secrets and powers.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this. I went into it not really knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. Dhonielle Clayton has created a wonderfully complex world, and I hope we get to find out more about this world and its characters.

Booktopia

Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson

Jorie 1.pngTitle: Jorie and the Magic Stones

Author: A.H. Richardson

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Serano Press

Published: 26th December 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 263

Price: $31.99 (Australian) $14.99 (US)

Synopsis: When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius.

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.

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*I was contacted to review this book through my blog.

The story starts with Jorie waiting to be taken to Mortimer Manor, where she is to live with her aunt, after leaving a convent school. She is an orphan and is being sent to live with her only living relative. Set in a village that could be either English or Scottish, Jorie’s days are quiet, despite her imagination, until she meets the grandson of neighbour, Colonel Hercules, and a strange white cat who lives by the Tarn outside the Manor. One day she discovers an entrance to another world through the Tarn, where she is known as the Child with Hair of Fire, destined to find three magic stones and keep them from falling into the hands of those who want to do harm to Cabrynthius. Contending with an evil Lord, a psycho tutor with an interest in the stones and Tarn, Jorie and her friend Rufus must find the two remaining stones after discovering one on the necklace Jorie’s mother left to her. And so, begins a journey down into the Tarn, and through an unknown world, full of unknown dangers, dragons and strange looking creatures, and those who want the stones for good, and those who wish to exploit them, to find the remaining two stones and reunite them for the Great Grootmonya.

The Magic Stones in the title are called the Stones of Maalog, said to be an ancestor of Jorie’s, and founder of the village they live in. This history is revealed in the first few chapters, with a little bit too much telling, and could have used a little bit more showing, but it gave background to the novel whilst introducing Jorie to the mystery she’d be solving. Though perhaps this could have been spread out a little more, to add to the discoveries Jorie made along the way.

The premise of Jorie and the Magic Stones is interesting and caught my interest and curiosity when I was contacted through my blog to review it, and I adored that it was set in England, and had a female lead who did not need to rely on Rufus to save her, but rather, assist her and make sure she could do what she needed to do. What the story did well was encapsulate a feeling of magic, albeit a tiny bit too slowly – the action could have happened a bit sooner than it did, though when it did happen, the story started to pick up pace a little bit, which was good.

As the story moved on, the journey was fun and magical. My favourite character was Chook, the baby dragon. I did like that Jorie was the hero and was allowed to be herself with Rufus. Like many children’s stories over the decades, Jorie is an orphan with an indifferent guardian – not so indifferent that she hates her, just absentee, like Colonel Hercules. The trope of the orphaned child or absentee guardian used here acts as a catalyst to start Jorie and Rufus on their journey.  As this is the beginning of a series, there are a few unanswered questions that will hopefully be answered for readers in later books, as sometimes there were holes and questions that needed to be filled and answered.

Overall though, it was a cute story about friendship, against a backdrop of prophecy and destiny, something used often but with varying plots and takes on the idea of a destined child. It was light hearted and not too dark, so it would suit any readership who enjoys these sorts of stories,  and children aged nine and older looking for adventure and new places to visit.

About the Author:

 

A.H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an author.

She has written a series of children’s chapter books, the Jorie series, which includes Jorie and the Magic Stones, Jorie and the Gold Key, and Jorie and the River of Fire.

In addition to the Jorie series, she is also the author of the Hazlitt/Brandon series of murder mysteries. Murder in Little Shendon is the first book in the series. It’s a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick, Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. And she has more ‘who-dun-its’ with this clever and interesting duo
 Act One, Scene One – Murder and Murder at Serenity Farm.

 

A.H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

 

Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/

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