The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley

the wild way homeTitle: The Wild Way Home
Author: Sophie Kirtley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Slip
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Published: 15th September 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Price: $14.99
Synopsis: When Charlie’s longed-for brother is born with a serious heart condition, Charlie’s world is turned upside down. Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive. But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It’s become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day. Or is there?

What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost – their courage, their hope, their family and their way home.

Fans of Piers Torday and Stig of the Dump will love this wild, wise and heartfelt debut adventure.

~*~

Every so often, a book comes my way that has an intriguing and mesmerising cover, that invites you to dive in and enter the world within the covers. Sometimes these are books that must be savoured, and other times, the story just pulls you along for the journey, and before you know it, you’ve read the entire thing in one sitting. The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley is one of those books that will fit into both categories – to be savoured, yet also one of those books that can be devoured.

Charlie’s brother Dara is born with a serious heart condition, and Charlie runs, afraid of what is going to happen. He ends up in the forest near his home, yet it is vastly different to what he knows – no path, no access to the road, and a young boy dressed in animal skins is lying near the river. Charlie soon works out he has been transported to the Stone Age. Lost and alone, he helps Harby, the boy he tries to help, find his family and baby sister, facing unknown dangers along the way as he tries to get home to his time and his family.

Sophie Kirtley’s first novel is a historical fiction time slip with a difference – not many time slip books are set in prehistoric times like the Stone Age, and this is what makes it stand out. Where most timeslip books explore the difference in dress or how characters understand the world, this one takes it a step further, throwing in a language barrier – the language of Stone Age people, and the English that Charlie knows in 2020. It presents challenges at first as Charlie and Harby get to know each other and find a way to communicate so they can help each other ‘make safe’, as Harby puts it.

It is an adventure as well, and the world is showcased in a clear and concise way that builds a mental image for the reader – and contrasts the Stone Age of Harby with the 2020 world that Charlie lives in, through Charlie’s comparisons of the two and how he identifies areas – the names he knows them as. It also touches on what they mean to Harby and Charlie – but mostly Charlie as the story is told through his eyes and perspective as he navigates this strange world and his journey home to his family.

At its heart, this book is about family and friendship, and the love of family and friends, and the support we need in hard times. It looks at the fight or flight response in the face of something unbearable and something that cannot be controlled, and the differing responses we have and how far we will go to be with those we love. It is a wonderful, and touching debut that has the power to inspire and comfort – showing that in thousands of years of humanity, the desire to protect one’s family has never really left us. Middle grade readers and above will enjoy this story.

Books and Bites Bingo Update Two

In the past four months, I have managed to fill in twenty out of twenty-five categories in Books and Bites Bingo with Monique Mulligan. I have a few of the others planned, and others I need to decide. I have three months to complete this and my other challenges and hope that I can make it through and get as many as possible read by the thirty-first of December!

It’s been a slow process at times – especially with the specific categories, as finding these books has sometimes been a challenge. Especially during a pandemic when we can’t all get to libraries or bookstores, there are times when I have read what I have and sometimes found ways to make the book fit into my challenges where possible.

Looking forward to reading the others I have, but for now, here are the ones I have completed!

Books and Bites Bingo

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)  

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn            

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Book Bingo Nine 2020 – Themes of Culture

Book bingo 2020

For September’s Book Bingo with Amanda and Theresa, I am marking off the themes of culture square with The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller and can report that the first row down has hit BINGO.

republic of birds

Themes of culture was always going to be an open topic as well – there are so many ways to go with this and so many ways to interpret this square, and in this instance, cultural aspects of the real world and Russian folklore is married with a fantasy culture to create a world where magic is banned, and there is the threat of a place known as Bleak Steppe for girls who exhibit signs of magic.

Yet the difference is that the culture that condemns magic is in stark contrast to Bleak Steppe, as Olga will find. This is a celebration of magical culture, of female culture and of sisterly love and culture that flies in the face of traditions that the girls are often thrust into in the world they live in.

It was a delightful read and one I recommend to lovers of folktale and magic, and was released in March this year.

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

a girl made of airTitle: A Girl Made of Air

Author: Nydia Hetherington

Genre: Historical Fiction, Folklore, Myth, Magical Realism

Publisher: Hachette/Quercus

Published: 8th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 376

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: A lyrical debut packed with myth, magic and folklore, perfect for fans of Erin Morgenstern and Angela Carter

‘A captivating tale of love and loss and finding connection in the most unexpected places’ Nikki Marmery, author of On Wilder Seas

A lyrical and atmospheric homage to the strange and extraordinary, perfect for fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.

This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…

Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.

Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?

Beautiful and intoxicating, A GIRL MADE OF AIR brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.

~*~

Beginning with an interview transcript in 1983, A Girl Made from Air is told through the eyes of a nameless narrator, referred to at times as Mouse, and is known worldwide as The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived. She lived her life in a post-war circus, with parents who forgot her, and left her to her own devices. Until the arrival of Serendipity Wilson, whose presence and Manx fairy tales will change the circus, and the life of the narrator forever.

As an adult, the narrator is haunted by events of her childhood, and she appears to be writing a memoir – whether for her or someone else, it is unclear. She’s searching for a missing child at the same time, and this is woven throughout her story and Serendipity’s stories, the tales that sustained the narrator as a child. The narrator speaks directly to the reader, inviting us into her world, but on her terms, and only telling us what she chooses to tell. This perhaps makes her unreliable, yet this is after all her story, and there is always the hope that we will have the missing bits revealed at some point. This is what drives the novel and can make you want to read on – to find out if certain things are revealed, and in what way.

It has an ethereal or mystical feel. It is of this world, yet at the same time, not quite. Set between England and New York, the world is cemented in these realities, yet through the characters and themes feels like a fairy tale or world of folk tale where extraordinary and magical things happen. The circus setting is one that feels fantastical, and wondrous, a place where things out of the ordinary happen, and take people away from the mundanity of everyday life. For our narrator, this is everyday life though, made richer and more intriguing when she meets Serendipity.

The almost conversational feel of some parts of the book speaks to the sense that the narrator is writing a memoir, or long-form letter to someone. But we don’t know who at first and must work and read to find out. It is a unique novel that needs to be pondered and where you might need to spend a bit of time with it, to unpack what is going on and immerse yourself in this world.

This is a book for those who enjoy unusual stories, and ones that hold back a bit, and don’t sit neatly within a certain genre. This unusual book will find its audience and is one that is engaging and very readable. It won’t be for everyone, and it was a different one for me, with a change of pace. I hope this book finds its niche and audience.

When the Ground is Hard by Malla Nunn

When the ground is hardTitle: When the Ground is Hard
Author: Malla Nunn
Genre: Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: June 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Price: $19.99
Synopsis: This CBCA short-listed book is a stunning and heartrending mystery set in a Swaziland boarding school about two girls of different castes who bond over a shared copy of Jane Eyre.
SHORTLISTED: CBCA 2020 Awards, Book of the Year, Older Readers

Adele loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school will be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn’t pray and defies teachers’ orders.

As they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie’s gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and together they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers. When a boy goes missing on campus, Adele and Lottie must work together to solve the mystery, in the process learning the true meaning of friendship.

A Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2020 Notable Book, Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, winner of the 2019 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, winner of the Children’s Book Committee’s 2020 Josette Frank Award and shortlisted for the 2020 LA Times Book Prize for Young Adults.

~*~

In apartheid-era Swaziland, Adele Joubert and Lottie Diamond attend Keziah Christian Academy – a boarding school for mixed race students. These are the students who are somewhere in the middle of the racial and social rankings based on the apartheid system but are still separated from white and black communities based on the laws of the time. Adele has been part of the popular crowd. That is, until her slot in the pretties is taken by a richer girl. Adele is relegated to sharing a room with the poor student, Lottie Diamond, and Dead Lorraine’s room.

At first, Adele and Lottie struggle to get along, but find connection in books, specifically Jane Eyre, and a time when you can be cast out and bullied for the slightest difference. As Lottie and Adele’s friendship with each other, and fellow student, Darnell, grows, the two girls face bullies and tragedy together. They fight for their place to belong, and stand up against vindictive and at times, racist teachers.

AWW2020The disappearance of a fellow student brings them closer together, and they learn more about themselves, each other and their heritage than they ever knew, and Adele finds that she can be herself with Lottie. She doesn’t have to pretend like she had to with her former friends. Lottie is a true friend, and she guides Adele through a tricky few weeks as the two girls form a bond that ensures they will always have each other when they face the cruelties of their school, society and the Bosman family.

Set in the 1960s, this book is threaded with the undercurrents and impacts of
racism, oppression and apartheid in a world that isn’t accepting of difference, illustrated through the treatment of students based on wealth, how the Bosman family treats Keziah students through racism, and the power he thinks he should have over them. It is also shown through the teachers – the assumption that the American missionary teachers are better than those they work with, and how Adele is also treated differently to Lottie at times, based on wealth and preconceived ideas.

This book speaks to the heart and difficulties of South Africa and Swaziland under the rule of apartheid. The rules and laws are threaded throughout as Adele tells her story of the first few weeks of the new school year, and her experiences. Some are universal, and some are unique to her and her society. This is what makes the book powerful. The thrum of an African heart beats throughout this novel, and evokes a sense of time, place and character. The land is a strong aspect a strong character. It is perhaps stronger than the Christian religion Adele tries to uphold. It is Lottie who unlocks this power within Adele, the shared Swazi and Zulu identity, and shows her that she can accept all parts of her identity.

I can see why this book has received so many awards, commendations and nominations. It is diverse yet seen through eyes that not many of us have. It is an experience that some readers won’t know much about, but there are universal themes of friendship, class, race, and gender that everyone will find something they can relate to. Adele and Lottie were powerful, diverse and complicated characters, who helped each other grow throughout the novel and found something that connected them more than anything that had ever connected Adele to the popular girls.

As I read this book, I could smell and hear Africa, I could feel Africa. The animals, the grass, the voices and the music. It is woven delicately and subliminally through the narrative, and presents a backdrop that gives When the Ground is Hard a true sense of place and transports the reader to a time and place when things were grim, but where the power of friendship could bring light to people’s lives.

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

cov-daughterofvictorylights-final_2_origTitle: The Daughter of Victory Lights

Author: Kerri Turner

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 20th January 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 384

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: An enthralling story of one woman’s determined grab for freedom after WW2 from a talented new Australian voice.

‘PART CABARET, PART BURLESQUE, AND LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE! GENTLEMEN, AND LADIES IF YOU’VE DARED TO COME, WELCOME TO …

THE VICTORY!’

1945: After the thrill and danger of volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment protecting Londoners from German bombers overhead, Evelyn Bell is secretly dismayed to be sent back to her rigid domestic life when the war is over. But then she comes across a secret night-time show, hidden from the law on a boat in the middle of the Thames. Entranced by the risqué and lively performance, she grabs the opportunity to join the misfit crew and escape her dreary future.

At first the Victory travels from port to port to raucous applause, but as the shows get bigger and bigger, so too do the risks the performers are driven to take, as well as the growing emotional complications among the crew. Until one desperate night …

1963: Lucy, an unloved and unwanted little girl, is rescued by a mysterious stranger who says he knows her mother. On the Isle of Wight, Lucy is welcomed into an eclectic family of ex-performers. She is showered with kindness and love, but gradually it becomes clear that there are secrets they refuse to share. Who is Evelyn Bell?

~*~

World War Two. Evelyn Bell volunteers for an all-female searchlight regiment during the Blitz, much to her sister, Cynthia’s chagrin. Once the war ends, she is lost, and for several years she is trapped in her sister’s home. She’s forced to take care of things there, and help with her nephew, Spencer, whom she loves. Her sister is traditional, but Evelyn longs for something more. When she stumbles upon a secret dance show at night, she knows she has found a way to break free and forge her own path, and her own identity away from what everyone around her expects her to do. Here, aboard the Victory, she finds her place, and she finds family, friendship and love, as well as tragedy.

AWW2020In 1963, ten-year-old Lucy is living with her aunt, unwanted and unloved, when she is whisked away to the Isle of Wight. Here, she finds a home where she is loved and accepted, but where she still has many unanswered questions. Will her new family answer them?

I interviewed Kerri at the end of April as part of my Isolation Publicity series, and as a thank you, she sent me a signed copy of her latest book, The Daughter of Victory Lights. Four months later, I have managed to get to this after managing to get on top of my very large review stack that kept coming for so long, and that will no doubt start to pile up again. This book is set partly in World War Two, but mostly during the post-war years of the early fifties and the early sixties.

Evie’s story is exceptional. She led a life of freedom and danger during the war, and going back has not been an easy adjustment for her, and nor were the years aboard the Victory, yet she was accepted in this place, as was her daughter, Lucy, whose life informs the second half of the novel. Drawing on imagination and various historical accounts and instances, Kerri has created an evocative and emotionally charged book that celebrates uniqueness, family, and the idea that family is what we make of it, not always those we are related to. It also examines the idea that sometimes, the two are intertwined, often in unique and unexpected ways.

Double narratives like this are always intriguing, and often, they alternate between the different time periods as the future character uncovers information about their relative in the past. Yet that wouldn’t have worked with this one. Evelyn’s story needed to be told in one go, as did Lucy’s, to grasp the tragedy and heroism, and inner strength of these characters and their lives. Lucy’s story was equally important and gave the novel its emotional pull and the strength of familial love and support that as a reader, I wished Evelyn had received from her family.

It is at times turbulent and there are moments filled with worry, hoping the worst won’t happen, followed by revelations that are bittersweet and hopeful. Lucy is a strong character and determined not to let anyone continue to lie to her as her aunts have done. I devoured this book within two days, engaging with the characters and their struggles.

The power in this story is in the family relationships, and the role certain people play in our lives, whether they are biologically related or not. It is tragic and hopeful, and a testament to the power of the human spirit and our ability to recover physically, mentally and emotionally after experiencing trauma, and the lengths we will go to so we can pull through.

 

Literary Tourism: Travel in the Time of COVID

Once upon a time, the world was filled with people travelling across the world, from country to country, and basking in a variety of cultures and experiences. But one day, a nasty virus came and shut everything down. We had to hide away inside, and watch the world slowly change.

When this travelling stopped so suddenly, we had to find a new way to explore the world through entertainment and the arts. One place we turned to was books. Jhumpa Lahiri once wrote, ‘That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.’ This sentiment is relevant all the time, but more so during these COVID times. We can travel via books without leaving the safety of our homes during lockdowns and restrictions. Whilst this might make us miss travelling, the experience, at least for me, has been richer and imaginative. It has had a power that no other reading has ever seemed to have.

jhumpa lahiri 1

We read to escape, and to find a new way of thinking. During COVID times, I have travelled across the world, through time and to places beyond the known world. It has allowed me to imagine a 2020 without COVID in one instance, and to experience an exhibition that even under ordinary circumstances, I would have little chance of getting to experience.

 

I have travelled across Europe with Freja Peachtree and Tobias Appleby in The Girl, the Dog and the Writer series. I’ve been to Rome for gelato, Provence for cakes and pastry and merry-go-round rides, and Lucerne to see the alps, meet marmots and eat chocolate in a castle, all while a crime writer does research for his books with the willing residents of each place helping him.

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Provence by Katrina Nannestad

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne by Katrina Nannestad

These three books, published in a pre-COVID world in 2019, allowed me to travel to these places, and to live in the world. They are filled with colourful and richly imagined characters and settings. I felt like I was there, tasting the food and experiencing the villages and solving crimes with Freja, chasing Finnegan the Irish Wolfhound, and writing with Tobias.

Mummy Smugglers

Books can take us anywhere, and I’ve also travelled back in time, to nineteenth century Egypt with The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby, where I spent time in Egypt and England during the 1860s. Each setting was rich and vibrant, and like the previous series discussed, allowed me to travel to a new world, and to a place untouched by COVID.

 

jane in love

I’ve also experienced a 2020 without COVID, in a book that was written and set for publication several months before the pandemic hit. I read this book during the first lockdown back in April, and admittedly, at first, it was a touch jarring to read about people touching and not socially or physically distancing in 2020. After a while, though, it felt like it was another world. What could have been. And perhaps that’s what books like this set in 2020 in a COVID-free world can offer. We can time travel, in a sense, to a 2020 without COVID. It is odd, and alien, yet at the same time a sort of comfort. Seeing what this year could have been can give hope to readers that things will get better. The book that did this for me was Jane in Love by Rachel Givney, which I also reviewed for the Jane Austen Society of Australia.

alice curiouser and curiouser

Using reading to travel also allows me to explore exhibitions that I might not be able to see in person. This year, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was going to have an Alice in Wonderland exhibit, which has been rescheduled due to COVID. Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn’t have been able to get to London to see it, but what made receiving the exhibition guide for Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser from Bloomsbury special, was not just being able to experience the exhibition, but being able to do so during a pandemic, because it cast a spell over an isolated world, and not only did it allow me to travel through the ever-changing world of Alice, but back to London, and feel like I was in a museum. It would be interesting to see if these kinds of exhibitions also offer an online visit for people who can’t get to museum, in the same way that book clubs and author meet-ups or book launches and bookstores have adapted deliveries, gone online via Facebook and Zoom and many other inventive ways to keep the literary landscape alive.

We won’t be doing much travel for a while, until we can get this pandemic under control, and even then, it will dramatically change – how travel changes is yet to be seen. For now, we can use books to travel. The above examples are just a few that have highlighted the power of books to let us wander the world and beyond that I have read so far this year. There have been many and listing them all would be quite a task. Each book offers a different journey. A different life to live and a different place to see. Books create travel and inspiration. Literary tourism is one way to travel for now, so go forth and see the world via books.

Billings Better Bookstore and Brasserie by Fin J Ross

Billings front coverTitle: Billings Better Bookstore and Brasserie
Author: Fin J Ross
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Published: 29th June 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 278
Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Young Fidelia Knight arrives in Melbourne in 1874, alone except for her treasured companion, Samuel Johnson; well, half of him. To escape servitude, Fidelia hides each night in Bourke-street’s renowned Coles Book Arcade. She loves words, you see, and wants to know them all.

What she overhears in Coles sets her on a path that will change the lives of everyone she meets, starting with Jasper Godwin, the hopelessly underqualified manager of the new Billings Better Bookstore.

Fidelia’s thirst for knowledge is contagious. She tutors two orphan boys and two illiterate women, inspiring them to unlock their creativity; and her exploration of colonial Melbourne takes her to some unusual places.

Nothing daunts this diminutive genius, except the mystery of what really happened to her parents on the voyage from England.

~*~

When Fidelia arrives in Melbourne, she is escorted of the SS Great Britain by a man named Mr Bartholomew and delivered to a local orphanage. She takes his warning to her about not speaking to everyone to heart, hiding away in gestures, and words when she stumbles upon Coles Book Arcade, and uses her nights to read, and learn. When she hears Jasper Godwin trying to come up with a window advertisement for Billings, she is inspired by Samuel Johnson and the words she knows, using these skills to create alliterative advertisements for each letter of the alphabet.

Once she is taken in by Jasper and his wife, and meets Secret and Joshua, two orphans taken in by Billings and his wife, her life begins to change.

This delightful story begins as a mystery, which is threaded throughout Fidelia’s journey. Small clues are dropped along the way – the missing volume of her dictionary, the lack of information about her parents, things she hears, and the whispers of some of the people around her, and the secrets they keep. These all help in building the light suspense that comes into being in the second half of the novel as Fidelia grows into a young adult.

AWW2020The novel moves slowly at first, a representation of Fidelia’s new life, and her adjustments to this new place. Yet when she overcomes a hurdle and finds a family with the Godwins, the pace picks up appropriately, and swiftly takes us through the next phase of Fidelia’s life as she makes friends, who are loyal to her and together, they explore the worlds of education, creativity and words.

The themes of family and friends – and the idea that family is what we make of it – are explored through Fidelia’s love of words and the role of creativity, literature and the power of education within our lives. It celebrates a love of words, which all books do, but on a new level and in a new way that brings the dictionary and lexicography to life for all readers who will be interested in this book, aged ten and over. It is for confident readers, and will instil a love of language, linguistics and words in all readers.

I loved this book, and would recommend it to all who love a good yarn, words and a story filled with hope, and girls and women who do not subscribe to the conventions of society, but work within them to change their circumstances and the circumstances of those they want to help. It sits well in its genre, reflects the sentiments and issues of colonial Melbourne, and allows the characters, who sit outside of societal norms, to be themselves, particularly in the second half of the novel, when Fidelia finds her voice and shares her knowledge, finding people who are willing to share this with her and encourage her.

Books that celebrate books and words like this one are favourites of mine. And I’m finding that these books are becoming popular. It is interesting to see how different authors approach this as well, and the role that words have on our daily lives, and where these words originally came from.

A powerful story about family, friends, words and books that will charm and enthral readers.

July 2020 Wrap Up

In July, I read twenty-two books, and have managed to complete my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge – which I am still going with, and my Book Bingo Challenge. All those posts are written and scheduled, as are several others for reviews and my isolation publicity series, which ends on the twenty-first of this month. I’ve been doing a lot of reading since lockdown and restrictions began, and it has allowed me to get on top of my review list finally. Below are my July numbers and reviews.

 

The Modern Mrs Darcy 11/12

AWW2020 – 78/25

Book Bingo – 12/12

The Nerd Daily Challenge 47/52

Dymocks Reading Challenge 23/25

Books and Bites Bingo 19/25

STFU Reading Challenge: 10/12

General Goal –130/165

July – 22

Book Author Challenge
Finding Eadie Caroline Beecham Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Emma Jane Austen Reading Challenge, Book Bingo, Dymocks Reading Challenge
Beyond Belief

 

Dee White Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Evie and Pog: Party Perfect Tania McCartney Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Wild Way Home Sophie Kirtley Reading Challenge
The Schoolmaster’s Daughter Jackie French Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear Jess Black Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Kitty is Not a Cat: Light’s Out Jess Black Reading Challenge, AWW2020
A Clue for Clara Lian Tanner AWWW2020, Reading Challenge
Starfell: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale Dominique Valente Reading Challenge
What Zola did on Tuesday Melina Marchetta Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Battle of Book Week Kate and Jol Temple AWW2020, Reading Challenge
Monty’s Island: Beady Hold and the Yum-Yams Emily Rodda AWW2020, Reading Challenge
The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum James Gardner Reading Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo,
The Adventures of Princess Peony Nette Hilton and Lucinda Gifford AWW2020, Reading Challenge
Ella at Eden: The Secret Journal Laura Sieveking AWW2020, Reading Challenge
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser 

 

Kate Bailey Reading Challenge
Toffle Towers: The Great River Race Tim Harris and James Foley Reading Challenge

 

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome Katrina Nannestad AWW2020, Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily, Books and Bites Bingo
Toffle Towers: Order in the Court Tim Harris and James Foley Reading Challenge
The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: A Treasure of poems for young people Compiled by Libby Hathorn Reading Challenge, STFU Reading Challenge
Max Booth, Future Sleuth: Chip Blip Cameron Macintosh and Dave Atze Reading Challenge
 

Reading Log

 

  1. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award
  2. Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  3. Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell
  4. Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
  5. The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam
  6. Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  7. The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  8. Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  9. The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah by Troy Cummins
  10. The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)
  12. Shark Out of Water by Ace Landers
  13. A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
  14. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  15. The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  16. Dragon Masters: Future of the Time Dragon by Tracey West
  17. The Killing Streets: Uncovering Australia’s First Serial Murderer by Tanya Bretherton
  18. Dolphin Island: A Daring Rescue by Catherine Hapka
  19. The River Home by Hannah Richell
  20. The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  21. Radio National Fictions (various short stories on ABC Listen App)
  22. Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell
  23. Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
  24. Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James (House of Heroes)
  25. The Story Puppy by Holly Webb
  26. Trails of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  27. The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
  28. The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter
  29. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
  30. Captain Marvel Hero Storybook by Steve Behling
  31. Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  32. Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  33. The Last Firehawk: The Cloud Kingdom by Katrina Charman
  34. Christmas in Paris (Miss Lily 3.5) by Jackie French
  35. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley
  36. The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  37. Museum Kittens: The Midnight Visitor by Holly Webb
  38. Firewatcher Chronicles: Phoenix by Kelly Gardiner
  39. The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning
  40. The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn
  41. Ninjago: Back in Action by Tracey West
  42. Layla and the Bots: Happy Paws by Vicky Fang
  43. Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt
  44. Daring Delly: Going for Gold by Matthew Dellavedova and Zanni Louise
  45. Aussie Kids: Meet Katie at the Beach by Rebecca Johnson and Lucia Masciullo
  46. Aussie Kids: Meet Eve in the Outback by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair
  47. The Besties Make A Splash by Felice Arena and Tom Jellett
  48. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling/Newt Scamander
  49. Liberation by Imogen Kealey
  50. The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks
  51. The Deceptions by Suzanne Leal
  52. Puppy Diary: The Great Toy Rescue by Yvette Poshoglian
  53. The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle
  54. Friday Barnes: Big Trouble by R.A. Spratt
  55. The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski
  56. The Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates
  57. Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore
  58. Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  59. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  60. The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley
  61. The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke
  62. Friday Barnes: No Rules by R.A. Spratt
  63. Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice-Ross King by Kate Simpson and Jess Racklyeft
  64. Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renée Treml
  65. Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  66. Ribbit Rabbit Robot by Victoria MacKinlay and Sofya Karmazina
  67. Nim at Sea by Wendy Orr
  68. Rescue on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  69. The Complete Adventures on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  70. The Monstrous Devices by Damien Love
  71. An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip
  72. Daisy Runs Wild by Caz Goodwin and Ashley King
  73. Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley
  74. Her Perilous Mansion by Sean Williams
  75. What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson
  76. Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes) by Petra Hunt
  77. The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore
  78. Edie’s Experiments: How to Make Friends by Charlotte Barkla
  79. Alice-Miranda at School (10th anniversary edition) by Jacqueline Harvey
  80. Alice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey
  81. The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai
  82. Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman
  83. Orla and the Serpent’s Curse by C.J. Halsam
  84. A Treacherous Country by K.M. Kruimink
  85. Elephant Me by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  86. Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian
  87. Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  88. Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble
  89. On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick
  90. Elementals: Battle Born by Amie Kaufman
  91. Lilies, Lies and Love (Miss Lily #4) by Jackie French
  92. Kid Normal and the Final Five by Greg James and Chris Smith
  93. Toffle Towers: Fully Booked by Tim Harris and James Foley
  94. Monty’s Island: Scary Mary and the Stripey Spell by Emily Rodda and Lucinda Gifford
  95. Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell
  96. When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin
  97. League of Llamas: Undercover Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  98. League of Llamas: Rogue Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  99. Kensy and Max: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey
  100. The Silk House by Kayte Nunn
  1. The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby and Nellé May Pierce
  2. Roxy and Jones: The Great Fairy Tale Cover Up by Angela Woolfe
  3. Alexandra-Rose and Her Icy Cold Toes by Monique Mulligan and Kat Fox (Illustrator)
  4. Meet Mia by the Jetty by Janeen Brian and Danny Snell
  5. Meet Sam at the Mangrove Creek by Paul Seden and Brenton McKenna
  6. Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup
  7. Edie’s Experiments: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla
  8. Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham
  9. Emma by Jane Auste
  10. Beyond Belief by Dee White
  1. Evie and Pog: Party Perfect by Tania McCartney
  2. The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
  3. The Schoolmaster’s Daughter by Jackie French
  4. Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear by Jess Black
  5. Kitty is Not a Cat: Lights Out by Jess Black
  6. A Clue for Clara by Lian Tanner
  7. Starfell: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale by Dominique Valente
  8. What Zola did on Tuesday by Melina Marchetta
  9. The Battle of Book Week (Yours Troolie, Alice Toolie) by Kate and Jol Temple
  1. Monty’s Island: Beady Hold and the Yum-Yams by Emily Rodda
  2. The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum by James Gardner
  3. The Adventures of Princess Peony by Nette Hilton and Lucinda Gifford
  4. Ella at Eden: The Secret Journal by Laura Sieveking
  5. Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser by Kate Bailey
  6. Toffle Towers: The Great River Race by Tim Harris and James Foley
  1. The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
  2. Toffle Towers: Order in the Court by Tim Harris
  3. The ABC Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Libby Hathorn
  1. Max Booth, Future Sleuth: Chip Blip by Cameron Macintosh and Dave Atze
  2. Lapse by Sarah Thornton
  3. A Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

Books and Bites Bingo

 

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

 

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

 

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go:

 

Eco-themes: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

A Neil Gaiman book:

Short story collection: Radio National Fictions (various short stories on ABC Listen app

Published the year you were born:

Makes you blush: The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad

 

 

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

 

Scary: The Monstrous Devices by Damien Love

Someone you love’s fave book:

Made into a TV Series:

A title longer than five words: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam

Fave childhood book:

 

STFU Reading Society #AustLit Reading Challenge

  1. Found on #BookstagramAustralia

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

  1. An Australian classic
  1. A book by an Indigenous Australian author

Meet Sam by the Mangrove Creek by Paul Seden and Brenton McKenna

  1. A book about climate change [cli-fi or non-fiction] 

Fiction: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte, The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai

Non-Fiction:

  1. A book by an LGBTQ+ Australian author

Firewatcher Chronicles: Phoenix by Kelly Gardiner

  1. A #LoveOzYA book

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

  1. A memoir by an Australian woman

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

  1. A poetry collection

The ABC Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Libby Hathorn

 

 

  1. A 2020 Finalist for a State Premier’s Literary Prize

* Note: Not all states have a Premier’s Literary Prize / some are awarded biennially rather than yearly, so are not running in 2020.

* New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards – Shortlist announced March 2020 / Winners announced 27 April 2020 –

The Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature – Shortlist out now / Winners announced 29 February 2020 –

Victorian Premier’s Literary Award – Shortlist out now / Winners announced 30 January 2020 –

Bonus: Read a finalist [shortlisted book] from each of the State Premier’s prizes

  1. A Book by a Territorian author – NT or ACT

Bonus: Read both an NT and ACT author

ACT: On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick

NT: An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip, Between Us by Claire Atkins

  1. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr (21st anniversary edition)

  1. A book from across the ditch – A book by a New Zealand author 

Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

THE MODERN MRS. DARCY

2020 Reading Challenge

a book published the decade you were born:

a debut novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)

a book recommended by a source you trust: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Amanda Barrett

a book by a local author: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim – literary fiction

a book in translation: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting

a book nominated for an award in 2020: Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renée Treml (Nominated for the 2020 Readings Children’s Prize)

a re-read:  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

a classic you didn’t read in school: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

three books by the same author:

  1. Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  2. Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt
  3. Friday Barnes: Big Trouble by R.A. Spratt

The Nerd Daily 2020 Challenge

  1. Author Starting with A: Shark Out of Water by Ace Landers
  2. Female Author: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  3. Purchased on Holidays: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell
  4. 2020 Film Adaptation: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  5. Fantasy or SciFi: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)
  6. Recommended by Us: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  7. Under 200 pages: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  8. Six Word Title: The Binder of Doom: Speedah Cheetah by Troy Cummins, Death at the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
  9. Written by two authors: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  10. Mystery/thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
  11. Green Cover: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  12. Recommended by a friend: Any Ordinary Day be Leigh Sales
  13. Set in the past: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  14. 2019 Goodreads Choice Winner:
  15. A book you never finished: The Louvre by James Gardiner (Never finished in time to review for release date, managed to finish after)
  16. Protagonist starting with H: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally, Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James (House of Heroes)
  17. Reread: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  18. Non-fiction: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam
  19. Released in February: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking, The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah by Troy Cummins
  20. Part of a duology: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley
  21. New York times best seller:
  22. Recommended by family:
  23. Over 500 pages:
  24. An award-winning book: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award 2019
  25. Orange cover: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  26. Bookstore recommended: The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
  27. A number in the title: Alice-Miranda at School (10th Anniversary Edition) by Jacqueline Harvey
  28. An audiobook: Radio National Fictions (various short stories)
  29. Debut author: The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  30. Inspired my mythology/folklore: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr,
  31. A retelling: Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  32. A one-word title: Liberation by Imogen Kealey
  33. Bought based on cover: Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  34. Author that starts with M: What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson
  35. Start a new series: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  36. A book released in 2019: The Last Firehawk: The Cloud Kingdom by Katrina Charman
  37. Male author: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
  38. 2020 TV Adaptation:
  39. A book gifted to you: Captain Marvel Hero Storybook by Steve Behling
  40. Author with a hyphenated name: Elephant Me by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  41. Released in September: The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
  42. Purchased years ago:
  43. A standalone: The River Home by Hannah Richell
  44. Author with the same initials:
  45. Told from two perspectives: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  46. Romance or thriller: Liberation by Imogen Kealey, The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  47. A protagonist starting with S: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell (Stella Montgomery)
  48. Two-word title: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr, Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  49. Set in a foreign country: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn, The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  50. Animal featured in cover: Dolphin Island: A Daring Rescue by Catherine Hapka
  51. Written by your favourite author: The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  52. Based or inspired by a true story: Museum Kittens: The Midnight Visitor by Holly Webb, The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning

Dymocks Reading Challenge

  1. A book by an Australian author: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell
  2. A book by an Indigenous author: On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick, Meet Sam by the Mangrove Creek by Paul Seden and Brenton McKenna
  3. A book from our Top 101:
  4. A book from our Kids’ Top 51: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell, Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  5. A Dymocks ‘Book of the Month’:
  6. Re-read your favourite book of all time: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  7. Ask a friend for a recommendation: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales
  8. A book featuring your favourite country: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Ireland)
  9. A book from your TBR pile: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  10. An award-winning book: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr – CBCA Honour Book, Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2017 – WINNER: 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Children’s Fiction
    WINNER: 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, Children’s Literature
    HONOUR BOOK: CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers, 2017
  11. A Mystery/Thriller: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One), A Testament of Character by Sulari Gentill
  12. A memoir:
  13. A book outside your usual genre: The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  14. A book of short stories: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  15. A self-help/motivation: Elephant Me by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  16. A fairytale/fable adaptation: Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  17. Book one in a fantasy series: Trials of Apollo – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  18. A book that teaches you something new: The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  19. A book with a red cover: Elementals: Battle Born by Amie Kaufman
  20. A book with a colour in the title: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  21. A book you can read in a day: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell, Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  22. A book about books: Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  23. A book that made you laugh: Puppy Diary: The Great Toy Rescue by Yvette Poshoglian, The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore
  24. A book published this year: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam, The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  25. A book you said you’ve read but haven’t: Emma by Jane Austen

Australian Women Writers Challenge – 25

 

  1. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award
  2. Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell
  3. Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
  4. Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  5. The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  6. Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  7. A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
  8. The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  9. The Killing Streets: Uncovering Australia’s First Serial Murderer by Tanya Bretherton
  10. The River Home by Hannah Richell
  11. The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  12. Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell
  13. Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James (House of Heroes)
  14. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
  15. Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  16. Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  17. Christmas in Paris (Miss Lily 3.5) by Jackie French
  18. The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  19. Firewatcher Chronicles: Phoenix by Kelly Gardiner
  20. The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning
  21. The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn
  22. Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt
  23. Aussie Kids: Meet Katie at the Beach by Rebecca Johnson and Lucia Masciullo
  24. Aussie Kids: Meet Eve in the Outback by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair
  25. The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks
  26. The Deceptions by Suzanne Leal
  27. Puppy Diary: The Great Toy Rescue by Yvette Poshoglian
  28. The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle
  29. Friday Barnes: Big Trouble by R.A. Spratt
  30. The Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates
  31. Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore
  32. Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  33. Friday Barnes: No Rules by R.A. Spratt
  34. Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice Ross-King by Kate Simpson and Jess Racklyeft
  35. Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renée Treml (Nominated for the 2020 Readings Children’s Prize)
  36. Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  37. Ribbit Rabbit Robot by Victoria MacKinlay and Sofya Karmazina
  38. Nim at Sea by Wendy Orr
  39. Rescue on Nim’s Island
  40. The Complete Adventures on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  41. An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip
  42. Daisy Runs Wild by Caz Goodwin and Ashley King
  43. Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley
  44. What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson
  45. Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes) by Petra Hunt
  46. The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore
  47. Edie’s Experiments: How to Make Friends by Charlotte Barkla
  48. Alice-Miranda at School (10th Anniversary Edition) by Jacqueline Harvey
  49. Alice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey
  50. Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman
  51. Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian
  52. A Treacherous Country by K.M. Kruimink
  53. Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  54. Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble
  55. Elementals: Battle Born by Amie Kaufman
  56. Lilies, Lies and Love (Miss Lily #4) Lilies by Jackie French
  57. Monty’s Island: Scary Mary and the Stripey Spell by Emily Rodda and Lucinda Gifford
  58. When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin
  59. League of Llamas: Undercover Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  60. League of Llamas: Rogue Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  61. Kensy and Max: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey
  62. The Silk House by Kayte Nunn
  63. The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby and Nellé May Pierce
  64. Alexandra-Rose and Her Icy Cold Toes by Monique Mulligan and Kate Fox (Illustrator)
  65. Meet Mia by the Jetty by Janeen Brian and Danny Snell
  66. Edie’s Experiments: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla
  67. Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham
  68. Beyond Belief by Dee White
  69. Evie and Pog: Party Perfect by Tania McCartney
  70. The Schoolmaster’s Daughter by Jackie French
  71. Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear by Jess Black
  72. Kitty is Not a Cat: Light’s Out by Jess Black
  73. A Clue for Clara by Lian Tanner
  74. What Zola did on Tuesday by Melina Marchetta
  75. The Battle of Book Week (Yours Troolie, Alice Toolie) by Kate and Jol Temple
  76. Monty’s Island: Beady Hold and the Yum-Yams by Emily Rodda
  77. The Adventures of Princess Peony by Nette Hilton and Lucinda Gifford
  78. Ella at Eden: The Secret Journal by Laura Sieveking
  79. The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
  80. Lapse by Sarah Thornton
  81. A Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

 

Book Bingo – BINGO

 

Themes of culture – The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller

Themes of inequality – The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam

Themes of Crime and Justice – A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Themes of politics and power – The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

About the environment – The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai

Prize winning book – Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award

Friendship, family and love – Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Coming of age – Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking

Set in a time of war – The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

Set in a place you dream of visiting – The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Ireland)

Set in an era you’d love to travel back in time to – Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr (Minoan Times)

A classic you’ve never read before – Emma by Jane Austen

 

 

 

  Isolation Publicity with George Ivanoff

Due to recent events, many Australian authors have had to cancel book launches and festival appearances. For some, this means new novels, series continuations and debut novels are heading into this scary, strange world without much publicity or attention. The good news is, you can still buy books – online or get your local bookstore to deliver if they’re offering that service. Buying these books, talking about them, sharing them, reading them, reviewing them – are all ways that for the next six months at least, we can ensure that these books don’t fall by the wayside.

Over the next few months, a lot of us will be consuming some form of art – entertainment, movies, TV, radio, music, books – the list goes on. It is something we will be turning to to take our minds off things and to occupy vast swathes of free time. One of the things I will be doing to support the arts, and specifically, Australian Authors, will be reading and reviewing as many books as possible, conducting interviews like this where possible, and participating in virtual book tours for authors.

 

George Ivanoff is an actor and author of books aimed at younger readers, such as the Other Worlds series. George didn’t have any launches cancelled, but he had many author and school appearances cancelled. Here, he talks about writing, acting and his Other Worlds series, and what he had to cancel.

Any out of date information in this and other interviews is due to when they were conducted, and when they were returned as this influenced the posting schedule when I started putting this series together.

Hi George and welcome to The Book Muse

 

  1. As an author of over 100 books for kids and teenagers, when did you decide you wanted to write for this age group?

I’m not sure there was ever a conscious decision. I write the sort of stuff that I like reading, and I generally prefer reading books aimed at kids and teens. I was a reluctant reader throughout most of primary school, so I came to reading rather late; which might explain why I still read books aimed at younger readers. I do read grown-up stuff as well, but while I’m fine with non-fiction, I find that many grown-up novels take way too long to get to the point. (There are exceptions of course — Agatha Christie, for example, always manages to keep my attention.) I guess it comes down to the fact that I have a short attention span and have never completely grown up!

  1. What are your favourite genres to write in, and why these in particular?

I like writing in a variety of genres, but my favourite is science fiction. It is the genre of possibilities.

  1. Does your background as an actor help when writing novels and creating characters?

Yes. I often say that doing an acting course was the best thing I ever did for my writing. There are a lot of similarities between writing and acting — immersing yourself in the world of the story; creating characters; and taking risks. Actors and writers both put themselves out there, running the risk of ridicule. Studying the craft of acting taught me to take risks… which helped to develop my writing. Prior to studying acting, I was very timid and risk averse about most things, including my writing.

  1. What might readers have seen you acting in?

Back in the day, I did a lot of small parts in films and TV shows. I remember with great fondness, playing a pot plant deliveryman on Neighbours in the 90s. They insisted I do it with an ocker Aussie accent… which, of course, I could not do convincingly. I was in the credits as “Pot Man”… just above the dog. Other roles included playing an arsonist on Australia’s Most Wanted, and an officious army officer in the WW1 film William Kelly’s War. In addition to that, I also did many jobs as an extra (one of those uncredited background people). Those jobs included being a scantily clad, red-headed warrior in the appalling Journey to the Centre of the Earth mini-series, and being a mystical, cross-dressing neo-Nazi in a red sequinned evening gown on that ‘classic’ television series Chances. I got to spend hours pretending to be dead, lying in the mud, in the middle of the night, with giant cranes spraying water to simulate rain, for the concluding shooting-out of Ned Kelly; and Nicolas Cage almost ran me over in a 4WD during the shooting of a massive crowd scene in the Melbourne CBD for The Knowing.

I don’t do much in the way of acting these days… it’s now mostly an occasionally paying hobby. Aside from my own book trailers, my most recent bit of acting was in the sci-fi, comedy audio series Night Terrace. I had a guest role in the Season 2 episode “A Verb of Nouns”, in which I play a slightly shifty and mysterious writer named Scribe. This was a super cool job, as I was such a big fan of the first season. And recently I had the pleasure of writing a short story based on the series for their Season 3 Kickstarter campaign.

You can hear a brief clip of me in Night Terrace here.

  1. One of your series is the Other Worlds series, which features various forms of diversity such as disability, which appears in book two with Xandra. How much research did you do for each character to make sure they felt authentic for the reader?

I had quite short deadlines on these books, so my research was mostly internet based. But I also had a chat to a nurse friend of mine, whose nephew has muscular dystrophy, about the character of Xandra and how I would handle her situation. My portrayal isn’t always 100% accurate. I did, for example, take some creative liberty with her wheelchair. It’s a motorised wheelchair, but I have her younger brother push it at one point… which my friend assured me would not be possible. But I did it anyway, as I felt the story point outweighed the need for realism in that circumstance.

  1. Beast World has a very steampunk feel to it – did you choose the steampunk theme, or did it evolve naturally as you came up with the plot? (I love the animals as the royals as well)

The steampunk setting and the talking animals were the first two things I decided on when I planned out that story. I love the Victorian era and I desperately wanted to play in a steampunk world. It was that setting which then lead to other decisions, such as animal counterparts for some historical figures, like Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Coming across pics of the Crystal Palace while researching the Victorian era resulted in The Great Exhibition being woven into the plot. And the ability to have all sorts of steampunk gadgets, lead to Xandra being wheelchair bound… because leaving the wheelchair behind meant I could put her into a cool steam-powered walking chair.

  1. Apart from Other Worlds, you write lots of choose your own adventure books – what is it about this style that appeals to you, and how well does it adapt itself to a variety of genres?

My You Choose books came about because I loved the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels when I was younger. As a kid I loved the fact that I had some control over the story and that I could re-read the books and end up with completely different outcomes. I thought that was just so unbelievably cool! It also appealed to my obsessive nature and the need to discover every possible permutation of a story. As a writer, I love the process of coming up with multiple paths and finding ways for them to intertwine. I’ve written 13 books in the series and had so much fun with them. As a format, I think it can be combined with pretty much any genre. I certainly used a number of different genres — sci-fi, fantasy, horror, action/adventure, comedy.

  1. What other series and books do you write, and are they all in the same general genre, or do you like to dabble in a variety of genres based on the book?

I do enjoy dabbling with genre, style and format. My current series in non-fiction. The Australia Survival Guide came out last year, and I’m going through proofs at the moment for the second book, The Human Body Survival Guide. With these books, I’m trying to take a fun and creative approach to kids’ non-fiction. There is a nameless, video game obsessed, 13-year-old boy who narrates these books and presents the factual information.

But I’ve also written realistic adventure with the RFDS Adventures, YA sci-fi with the Gamers Trilogy and a heap of educational books (including school readers and non-fiction tied in to the Australian Curriculum).

  1. Have you ever written for older audiences, and what have you written for them?

Yes, I’ve written numerous short stories, usually sci-fi and fantasy, for grown-up audiences. I have a particular interest in media tie-in fiction. It is a difficult area to break into, but I’ve managed to get a few things through. In 2016 I had a story called “An Eye For an Eye” in The X-Files: Secret Agendas and the following year a story called “Another Man’s Skin” in the Deadworld Anthology. They were definitely NOT for kids. I’m currently writing a novel for the Lethbridge-Stewart range of books (a spin-off from Doctor Who, following the adventures of Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart). That’s for a general audience — so, while aimed at adults in terms of story complexity, it still needs to be reasonably safe for younger readers.

  1. Have you had any new books released, or scheduled to be released in the next few months, and if so, what are they?

The Gamers Trilogy was recently re-branded and published with new titles and covers in March. My next book, The Human Body Survival Guide, is not due out until 15 September.

  1. Did you have to cancel any launches, events or appearances of any kind due to the COVID-19 crisis?

No cancelled launches, as the Gamers relaunch happened a few weeks before lockdown. But lots of cancelled/postponed speaking gigs, from school visits to library talks to festivals. While I understand that the circumstances make this necessary, it has been so very disappointing. I love interacting with kids during school visits, and other authors during festivals. The majority of my working life is spent in solitary confinement in front of my computer, so I cherish these forays out into the wider world.

To compensate, I am now offering virtual sessions, and have got a few lined up already. The first is a class about writing for the primary education market coming up on 4 May. And I’ve put together avideo about virtual presentations for schools.

But nothing really compares to face-to-face interaction, and I can’t wait for life to return to normal.

 

  1. Do you have plans for any new novels, new series or additions to series like Other Worlds?

Everything is a bit up in the air at the moment. Once I’ve finished working on the Lethbridge-Stewart novel, I’m scheduled to have a chat with my publisher at Penguin Random House about what I do next with them. I’ve got LOTS of ideas.

  1. Favourite writing snack?

Chocolate! Always… chocolate!

  1. You’ve worked with various state reading challenges – what do you enjoy about working to help build these challenges?

I love that these reading challenges exist. They’re a great way of getting kids enthused about reading. I’ve not actually worked with them, as such. They’ve simply chosen some of my books for their recommended reading lists… which is VERY COOL! Also, in 2018, the organisers of the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge interviewed me, along with a bunch of other authors and illustrators, for a series of video promos. That was a lot of fun.

  1. As an author, what do you think books can do for people during the pandemic?

What can’t they do??!! Just like at any other time, books have the ability to entertain and educate. They help people empathise and see other points of view. They provide an escape. They allow people to visit places they have never been to and interact with people they have never met. But in this time of pandemic, with self-isolation and social distancing, they have also become a lifeline — a way to still connect and not feel so alone.

  1. Which local booksellers do you love to frequent and support?

I love bookshops! And I am lucky to live close to a number of really good ones. Ordinarily, when not in lockdown, I travel around quite a bit for speaking gigs, and I take the opportunity to visit as many bookshops as possible. I’m a Melbourne resident, and some of my favourites include The Little Bookroom (Carlton), Beaumaris Books (Beaumaris), The Sun Bookshop (Yarraville), Pictures & Pages (Coburg), Ulysses Bookstore (Sandringham), Dymocks Camberwell (Camberwell) and Eltham Bookshop (Eltham). Each of these shops have enthusiastic staff with a broad knowledge of what’s being published in Australia.

  1. As someone who works in the arts as a presenter, actor and author, what do you enjoy about working in the arts, and what additional support do you feel the arts sector needs to ensure its survival, especially during these times?

What I enjoy about the Arts sector is the creativity. For me it’s not just a job. It is something that I adore being involved in. It would be really nice if the government treated it with the same amount of respect they treat other sectors with. I get the distinct impression that the government simply does not take the Arts sector all that seriously… which is rather short sighted. Some basic support and respect would mean that we wouldn’t have to face threats to copyright or parallel importation restrictions — things that are fundamental to the Australian publishing industry and authors’ ability to earn money. In terms of our current situation, the federal stimulus package seems rather geared towards businesses and people in permanent employment. While there is some support to freelancers, accessing that support is so much more convoluted and difficult for people working in the Arts sector. Having said that, the Victorian State Government have apparently announced an Arts Survival Package. I haven’t had the chance to look into that yet, but it sounds hopeful.

  1. Finally, are there any future projects on the horizon?

There are numerous potential projects. But nothing set in concrete.

 

Any further comments?

During the pandemic self-isolation, I’ve been trying to put video readings up online once a week. It can’t replace face-to-face interaction… but at least it’s something to help fill the void. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up, but for the moment it is proving to be a fun distraction. And it’s a way of continuing to interact with readers and promoting my books. I do sometimes enlist the help of my family to assist in this online madness. My reading from The Australia Survival Guide (which is another example of my inability to do an Aussie accent) was directed/shot by my wife, and involved my 11-year-old throwing one of our pet chickens at me.

If you really feel the need to see some of my other readings, you can go to my YouTube Channel.

I should probably shut up now. I just realised how verbose I was being with the answers to some of these questions. If you made it this far without slipping into a coma… thank you!

Thank you George, and best of luck with everything,