May 2020 Round Up

In May, we seemed to settle into a lockdown routine, so I got a bit more reading done. This month, I read 20 books – the vast majority of those – seventeen – were by Australian women writers – some for review, some my own reads and one or two that I read alongside Isolation Publicity interviews. Below is a breakdown of my current numbers, and a table with each read and the challenge they worked for. Some categories are easier to fill, as always, and some have multiple entries. I’ve got plenty to read – the books keep coming so I’m trying to keep on top of everything as best I can.

The Modern Mrs Darcy 11/12
AWW2020 -53/25
Book Bingo – 11/12
The Nerd Daily Challenge 45/52
Dymocks Reading Challenge 22/25
Books and Bites Bingo 15/25
STFU Reading Challenge: 10/12
General Goal –89/165

May – 20

Book Author Challenge
The Monstrous Devices Damien Love Reading Challenge, STFU Reading Challenge, AWW2020
An Alice Girl Tanya Heaslip Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Daisy Runs Wild Caz Goodwin and Ashley King Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal Anna Whateley Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Her Perilous Mansion Sean Williams Reading Challenge
What Zola did on Monday


Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson Reading Challenge, AWW2020, The Nerd Daily Challenge
Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes) Petra Hunt Reading Challenge, AWW2020,
The Power of Positive Pranking Nat Amoore Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Edie’s Experiments: How to Make Friends Charlotte Barkla Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Alice-Miranda at School Jacqueline Harvey Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily, AWW2020
Alice-Miranda in the Outback Jacqueline Harvey Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Giant and the Sea Trent Jamieson, Rovina Cai Reading Challenge, Book Bingo, STFU Reading Challenge
Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Orla and the Serpent’s Curse C.J. Halsam Reading Challenge
Elephant Me Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge
A Treacherous Country K.M. Kruimink Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Eloise and the Bucket of Stars Janine Brian Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women  Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Books and Bites Book Bingo
Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble Reading Challenge, AWW2020
On A Barbarous Coast Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick Reading Challenge, STFU Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

In June I am hoping to read more and get further on top of all my reviews – look for more great books by Australians and especially kids and young adult books to come in the next few weeks.

Peta Lyre

Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes #2) by Petra James

hero huntTitle: Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes #2)
Author: Petra James, illustrated by A. Yi
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 1st of May 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 230
Price: $16.99
Synopsis: A girl. A boy. A great aunt. A mystery! The second book in the exciting House of Heroes series!
Henrie Melchior, the first girl born into the House of Heroes in 200 years, is on a Hero Hunt. When Marely Hart phones on the Hero Hotline, Henrie, Marley and Alex Fischer are in a race against time to find Henrie’s missing parents, a missing gold statue and the answers to questions piling up around her archaeologist great aunt . . . but Violetta Villarne from Villains Incorporated is watching very closely. The answers Henrie needs are buried somewhere in the past, but the present is a whirlwind of secrets and subterfuge. Will Henrie solve the Hunt? Will she find her parents? Or will the House of Melchior shadow her forever?
• The second in a fun and funny middle-grade series, the successor to Deb Abela’s Max Remy series and Lauren Child’s Ruby Redfort: Genius Girl Spy.
• Perfect for readers who like their heroes to be smart, fearless and ready for action. Featuring strong male and female characters.
• Accessible high-interest text with illustrations by A. Yi, illustrator of the Alice-Miranda, Clementine Rose and Kensy and Max series.
About the author
Petra James was born in a small town in the South Island of New Zealand, and came to Australia via London. She has written several fiction titles for children such as The Most Ungrateful Girl in the World and the seven books in the Arkie Sparkle series. Like Arkie Sparkle, she wanted to be an archaeologist when she grew up (she had planned to work her way through the career alphabet but didn’t get past “A”), but instead sold chocolate chip cookies and eventually found her way into publishing. When she is not sending fictional characters on adventures, she works in children’s publishing in Sydney. Hapless Hero Henrie and Henrie’s Hero Hunt are her first books with Walker.
About the illustrator
A. Yi is an illustrator and animation artist based in Sydney. She likes doodling and wishes all books were illustrated. She has illustrated various children’s books including the bestselling Alice Miranda series.


Henrie Melchior has just picked up the ringing phone in HoMe – Home of Melchior. Marley Hart wants Henrie to help find the person following her, and so, thus begins Henrie’s first Hero Hunt and mystery. She’s on the trail of Agnes Hart, a deceased relative of Marley’s, accused of a theft. But there is more to Agnes than they all know, and soon, Henrie, Alex and Marley set off to uncover what Agnes had been hiding when she died, whilst trying to evade Violetta Villarne from Villains Incorporate, or VillInc.

AWW2020Tim Fischer and Ellie are present, yet it is Alex, Henrie and Marley who drive the action, as it is in many kids books these days. It’s an interesting and refreshing trend – for years, kids were orphans, or the adults were uninterested. Yet something has begun to change. The kids can still go on adventures, but adults are always there at the end of the story when the kids have finished for the day. It is a world that feels like it could be in Australia but also feels like it could be taking place somewhere like England – both feel equally appropriate.

As the second in the series, Henrie’s Hero Hunt ties in nicely with Hapless Hero Henrie yet as the protagonist, Henrie, recaps the first book for readers, it is okay to read this one first. However, it is a lot more fun to start at the beginning! Throughout the book, Henrie’s story is peppered with interactive questions and codes for readers to fill in and have fun with as they read, making it an accessible story as kids are able to put themselves in the story with Henrie and her friends – giving kids the adventure they seek – fun with friends, and safety they need with family – with just the right amount of danger.

Henrie’s Hero Hunt is exciting, fun, and filled with revelations throughout the novel that hint at what is to come in the next few books, whilst solving a few mysteries – but where these elements go is a question for the next book, and the rest of the series. Villains Inc and Henrie’s male cousins and uncle have been set up as the antagonists of the series, and the ones who will try to thwart Henrie. But with Marley and Alex by her side, Henrie will find that she can do anything – and the villains don’t stand a chance! They’re still all kids, though. But kids who know how to take hold of the situation before them and do what they can with what they have.

Petra James has cleverly taken hero, villain and spy tropes, and turned words like clairvoyant into names that are puns to create this world. These are fun, and intricately done and work seamlessly with the novel and characters. They add to the fun and humour in a way that will entertain younger readers and teach them about playing with language. Confident and older readers might catch the nuances faster, but half the fun is just enjoying them for what they are and how they work within the story and series. As the second in the series. It follows on perfectly from the first book, and both have alliterative titles, which is lots of fun as well. Books that play with language like this can encourage a lifelong of words and reading and is thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable on all levels.

Another great middle grade book for readers aged nine and older.

February 2020 Round Up

In February this year I read seventeen books – several for pleasure, some for quiz writing purposes and the rest for review purposes – most coming out in March or in the next few months.

My current total stats for my reading challenges are:

The Modern Mrs Darcy 9/12

AWW2020 -15/25

Book Bingo – 9/12

The Nerd Daily Challenge 35/52

Dymocks Reading Challenge 11/25

STFU Reading Society 4/12

Books and Bites Bingo 10/25

General Goal – 31/165

For the Book Bingo Challenges, I am aiming for one book per square, and have several posts scheduled for each one – the monthly book bingo challenge is scheduled until at least September, with three categories to go. Some challenges have multiple books in a category, which is why they might have higher numbers, and some I am still trying to find or track down the right books for some categories. As always, I have linked the reviews here to make compiling my end of year posts a bit easier.

February – 17


Book Author Challenge
The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett The Nerd Daily Challenge, Reading Challenge,

Books and Bites Bingo, Dymocks Reading Challenge


The Good Turn Dervla McTiernan Dymocks Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge, Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Book Bingo, STFU Reading Challenge,


Dragon Masters: Future of the Time Dragon


Tracey West Reading Challenge,
The Killing Streets: Uncovering Australia’s First Serial Murderer


Tanya Bretherton Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Dolphin Island: A Daring Rescue Catherine Hapka Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge
The River Home Hannah Richell Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge, AWW2020
The Vanishing Deep Astrid Scholte The Nerd Daily Challenge, Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Book Bingo, STFU Reading Challenge,


Radio National Fictions (various short stories) Various Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo
Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue)  Judith Rossell Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge, AWW2020, Dymocks Reading Challenge,
Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club Julian Leatherdale Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge,
Hapless Hero Henrie (House of Heroes) Petra James Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge, AWW2020
The Story Puppy Holly Webb Reading Challenge
Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy Rick Riordan Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily, Books and Bites Bingo
The Bell in the Lake Lars Mytting Reading Challenge, Modern Mrs Darcy Challenge
The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour Ally Carter Reading Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo
The Republic of Birds Jessica Miller Reading Challenge, Book Bingo, AWW2020
Captain Marvel Hero Storybook Steve Behling Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily


CBCA Notables 2020


Every year, the Children’s Book Council of Australia chooses to award children’s books in the category a variety of honours and awards, including the Notable Books, Honour Books, and Book of the Year. Celebrating children’s books in Australia since 1946, the CBCA is a good award that gives attention to books for younger readers that might not always get the coverage that adult books do or highlight authors who may not be as well known. There are several past CBCA books I have read – I’d have to dig through all my books and reviews to find them all, but no doubt they have all won or been honoured because they are wonderful books and the Notables this year seem to have a diverse range of plots and authors for readers to explore. This post outlines the award, the categories and the Notable books that the judges will be choosing from this year. Having read some of them, I know it will be a tough call with so many good books out there.

Below are the key dates in the award announcements for 2020:

Announcement Dates:
Notables – announced the last Tuesday in February at 7pm AEDT
Short List – announced the last Tuesday in March at 12 noon AEDT
Winners and Honours – announced the third Friday in August at 12 noon AEST
The advocacy role played by the CBCA promotes the literary experience for children and assures the scope and vitality of Australian children’s books. The annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards affirm the quality of some of Australia’s most creative people and provide a boost to their capacity to devote time to their craft.
Established with the first awards in 1946, the annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards aim to:
• promote quality literature for young Australians;
• support and encourage a wide range of Australian writers and illustrators of children’s books and;
• celebrate contributions to Australian children’s literature.
Here are the award categories:
There are six categories in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards.
• CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers
• CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers
• CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood
• CBCA Picture Book of the Year
• Eve Pownall Award
• CBCA Award for New Illustrator (previously the Crichton Award for New Illustrators administered by the CBCA Victorian Branch)

View the complete list of notables here:

The Notable Books I have read are:


The Honeyman and The Hunter by Neil Grant
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
As Happy As Here by Jane Goodwin
Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James
The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble
The Glimme by Emily Rodda

The Notables I hope to read are:

Angel Mage by Garth Nix
Pirate Boy of Sydney Town by Jackie French
The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne by Katrina Nannestad
The Secrets of Magnolia Moon by Edwina Wyatt, Illustrated by Katherine Quinn
Sick Bay by Nova Weetman

I’m sure there are others on the list that will interest me, but I shall have to do some investigations into the books to make my final decision. Some I already have and will be working my way through them. Bren MacDibble’s book is also on the Readings Children’s books short prize, and I am hoping to read each book on there and review it, and write about the prize in another post.


Hapless Hero Henrie (House of Heroes #1) by Petra James

hapless hero henrieTitle: Hapless Hero Henrie (House of Heroes #1)
Author: Petra James
Genre: Fiction, Spies
Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Price: $16.99
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Henrie is the first girl heir of the Melchior family in 200 years. This was deemed a dereliction of duty by the formidable Octavia Melchior, head of the House of Melchior (HoMe). For HoMe is in the business of heroes for hire. Boy heroes, that is. Girls have no place. When Henrie receives a mysterious note, it sets off a chain of events including a kidnapping, a fancy skateboard manoeuvre and a private jet and she discovers something rotten at the heart of HoMe. As past, present and future collide, HoMe is poised to come tumbling down … unless a new kind of hero can emerge from the rubble.
• A fun and funny middle-grade novel, the successor to Deb Abela’s Max Remy series and Lauren Child’s Ruby Redfort: Genius Girl Spy.
• Perfect for readers who like their heroes to be smart, fearless and ready for action. Featuring strong male and female characters.
• Accessible high-interest text with illustrations by A. Yi, illustrator of the Alice-Miranda, Clementine Rose and Kensy and Max series.

For two hundred years, only boys have been born into the Melchior family – that is, until Henrietta Madeline Melchior came into the world, followed by a trio of shrieks eleven years, eight months and nine and a half days ago, and so this is how the first book in the new series, House of Heroes begins. When Henrie receives a mysterious letter, she sets off on an adventure with Alex, and finds herself at HoMe – the House of Melchior. Henrie tells the story of her birth and life in a dramatic and exciting way, with her own twist on the facts. It turns out that her story is not as far-fetched as Aunt Ellie would have her believe, as we find out as the story goes on. Here, secrets about her family – her parents, her ancestors and that missing portrait of another Henry – as she navigates trying to outsmart her girl-hating boy cousins.

AWW2020As Henrie ventures from her home with Ellie, following the letter and subsequently falling into a trap on her way to Moldovia. Once there, Henrie starts to learn about the history of her family – and there are a few surprises along the way that I absolutely loved. The brilliance of these secrets was that the hints and Easter Eggs were dropped, and it doesn’t matter if you pick up on them or not, it is equally fun working the answer out on your own or waiting for the Big Reveal later on in the book. I do hope that characters involved in this secret return later on in the series, because I feel like there could be a big surprise on the way for readers. In this high interest, accessible middle grade text, graphics are combined with text to make the story engaging and interactive. I love the names – the alliterative names and the names like Claire Voyant – it is something I would do, as I love names that have a hint of irony and humour behind them. It also allows readers of all abilities to engage with the text and will hopefully grow confidence for any readers who might need that little boost. It should engage both boys and girls as well, giving them a female hero who is not too feminine and who fits into a world where she was told she doesn’t belong but in actual fact, she really does. Henrie is one of those heroes like Kensy and Max that will have wide appeal, and much like Kensy and Max, I cannot wait for the next installment of this series.

What I loved about this book was the way Henrie didn’t give up, yet there were times when she did show vulnerability, and this was perfectly balanced for readers of middle grade books like this. The magic in this book is that it will have a wide appeal, with the inclusion of spies, heroes and turning age-old attitudes on their heads – such as gender roles and what the Melchior family thinks of girls. Henrie is a fabulous character who is bound to have many fabulous adventures and take readers on a spectacular journey through the world of spies and heroes. It is a book that also has an eye-catching cover, and characters that you can cheer on, and characters who you will love seeing fail – but never fear, I am sure they will be back throughout the series to cause trouble for Henrie. This is also done in an entertaining way – and also tries to play a few tricks on the reader, which adds to the fun and the intrigue. All in all, I loved this book and would like to seek out more in this series when they come out.