The Au Pair by Emma Rous

the au pair.jpgTitle: The Au Pair

Author: Emma Rous

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 11th December 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 410

Price: $29.99

Synopsis:A tautly plotted mystery of dark family secrets, perfect for fans of Kate Morton. ‘Entrancing, compelling, atmospheric, reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier. A beautiful read that delivers a shocking and satisfying ending’ Liv Constantinebestselling author of THE LAST MRS PARRISH

Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are known as the summer-born Summerbournes: the first set of summer twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they were born their mother threw herself to her death, their au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark-cloaked figures and a stolen baby.

Now twenty-five, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a family photograph taken on the day the twins were born featuring both parents posing with just one baby. Seraphine soon becomes fixated with the notion that she and Danny might not be twins after all, that she wasn’t the baby born that day and that there was more to her mother’s death than she has ever been told…

Why did their beloved au pair flee that day? 
Where is she now? 
Does she hold the key to what really happened? 

~*~

Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are known as the summer-born Summerbournes, or the Summerbourne sprites – whispers from people in the village and school children have followed them their whole lives. But after her father’s death so close to their twenty-fifth birthday, during a search through photos, Seraphine discovers a photo of her mother with one baby, minutes before her mother was found dead. From here, Seraphine starts to wonder if she is really her mother’s daughter – Danny and Edwin, her older brother, look so alike, yet she has stark differences that have always made her stand out, and spurred on the rumours that Danny and Seraphine had a sprite-like quality about them, based on stories of witches’ cloaks and stolen babies in the night. In Seraphine’s mind, she is not that baby, not any relation to her brothers. In an effort to find out who she is, Seraphine embarks on a journey to track down the au pair from that day and will discover many more secrets that will affect more people than her and Danny and threaten to break the family apart – and that maybe there is more to her mother’s death than she has been told. The secrets she is about to uncover will change their lives forever.

Family mysteries with a dual storyline as the main focus always make intriguing books – with the focus on family and identity rather than romance, which there is some of, though it is not always the overall goal of the character, but rather, a nice side story alongside the main pot as a nice addition, that is woven in and out neatly. Seraphine’s mystery is tightly plotted and thought out, with each bit of evidence presented at just the right time, slipping back and forth from 2017 to 1991 and 1992 seamlessly, where Seraphine and Laura – the au pair – get to tell their stories – and the clues slowly start to fall into place. Who Seraphine is, and where the au pair, Laura fits in, as well as who Alex is, and information that Seraphine never thought she would uncover in the course of her investigations and asking questions around the village, specifically with the village doctor. The reader discovers the secrets and facts along with Seraphine, and though one can try and guess at the outcome, it is not as clear cut as it is first thought to be, but the execution of this is so well done, it suits the story and entire plot so well.

Overall, this was a well-written book, with an intriguing plot that held my interest and will appeal to fans of Kate Morton and other authors who work in dual or multiple timelines. The dual timeline is a tool that works well here to tell the story, because we need to hear from both Seraphine and Laura to get the full story, and understand what happened that fateful year at Summerbourne, and how the mystery of Seraphine and her brother came into being.

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The Final Bingo – Bingo Card Two

Book bingo take 2

Book Bingo Twenty-Five – The Final Bingo – A forgotten classic, a book based on a true story, and a book written more than ten years ago.

 

Wow, that came around quickly! Our final Book Bingo Saturday with Theresa Smith Writes and Mrs B’s Book Reviews for 2018. And to finish the year off, I have completed two bingo cards, and have filled a few squares in this one with one or two from the last card, but that were in different squares – the majority were different books, but all read across the past twelve months.

Book bingo take 2 .jpg

The final three squares I had to fill in were a forgotten classic, a book based on a true story, and a book written more than ten years ago – of the three, I used one book from the previous card, because it fit a few squares and it worked out well to ensure all the squares were taken up. Two of these books were Australian, and the third that fits in the book published more than ten years ago is a Christmas story, giving this post a touch of Christmas at the right time of year.

 

little fairy sisterTo begin, the square for a forgotten classic is taken up by a husband and wife writer and artist team – Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, who drew the pictures, and her husband, Grenbery Outhwaite, who wrote the text to the story The Little Fairy Sister. A uniquely Australian story yet at the same time, filled with the European fairy story traditions that young children in the colony would have grown up with. These traditions were transplanted into an Australian environment where both traditions are recognisable by readers. This book was one that I had not heard of until recently, despite my research and studies into the fairy tale tradition – it had never come across my radar in quite the same way as Arthur Rackham did, for example. Many people are familiar with Rackham, and other European illustrators and fairy tale collectors and writers, and there are several Australian authors that when mentioned, people will recognise. But Ida and Grenbery are often not mentioned, and perhaps should be mentioned more and more Australian fairy stories should be brought to life and light for a new generation to enjoy.

The-Tattooist_FCR_Final

My second book filled the square in the first card for a book that scared me. Usually, this would be interpreted as horror or a thriller, monsters and demons. Yet for me, it is what humans can do to other humans that scares me. It is the human ability to harm and kill, to torture mentally and physically for pleasure, and to harm – and this book was The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. This time, it fills in the square of a book based on a true story. It tells the story of Lale Solokov, and how he survived Auschwitz, where he met his wife, by becoming the person who would tattoo the numbers onto all the prisoners as they were brought into the camp during the years it ran during World War Two. Heather Morris has fictionalised Lale’s story, but it is no less harrowing, scary and upsetting – and now, whenever I read about Auschwitz and the tattoos, I wonder how many of those people – Lale would have encountered during his time as the tattooist.

 

the-nutcrackerEnding on a lighter note, a Christmas story has been chosen to fill the square labelled a book published more than ten years ago – The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas, published in 1844. It tells the story of Mary, who is given a nutcracker doll one Christmas by her Godfather Drosselmeyer, and her toys come to life, and take her on a journey through a fantasy realm of magic, and dolls, and fairies in a wholly different realm, where she takes on the Mouse King and finds out where she belongs in the realm. It takes place at Christmas, which is rather appropriate for this post, seeing as it is almost Christmas, and in the approaching weeks, I am hoping to read some Christmas books and watch some Christmas movies to get in the mood, and the Nutcracker has started this process.

 

These final three books have concluded my challenge, apart from my wrap up post in a few weeks for the bingo challenge. Below is the text list of the books I read for this stage. Both lists will be included in the wrap up post.

AWW-2018-badge-rose

Challenge #4: Book Bingo Take 2

(Rows Across)

Row #1 – – BINGO

A book set more than 100 years ago: The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1) – AWW2018

A book written more than ten years ago: The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas

A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A book more than 500 pages: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton – AWW2018

A Foreign translated novel: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

 Row #2 – BINGO

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A non-fiction book: Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018

 A collection of short stories: Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane – AWW2018

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

Row #3:  – BINGO

A book written by an Australian woman:Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2) – AWW2018, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian man: Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – AWW2018

A book that scares you: What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – AWW2018

A book with a mystery: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #1)

 Row #4 – BINGO

A forgotten classic: The Little Fairy Sister by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite

A book with a one-word title: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A funny book: Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky -AWW2018

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018

 Row #5 -BINGO

 A book that became a movie: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi

A book based on a true story: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – AWW2018*

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018

A book written by someone under thirty: The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

 Rows Down

Row #1 – – BINGO

 A book set more than 100 years ago: The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1) – AWW2018

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian woman: Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2) – AWW2018

A forgotten classic: The Little Fairy Sister by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite

A book that became a movie: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi

Row #2 -BINGO

 A book written more than ten years ago: The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A book written by an Australian man: Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill

A book with a one-word title:Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book based on a true story: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – AWW2018

 Row #3: – BINGO

 A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A non-fiction book:Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – aWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018

 Row #4 -BINGO

 A book more than 500 pages: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton – AWW2018

A collection of short stories: Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane – AWW2018

A book that scares you: What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – AWW2018

A funny book: Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky -AWW2018

A book written by someone under thirty: The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady – AWW2018

 Row #5 – BINGO

 A Foreign Translated Novel: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

A book with a mystery: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #1)

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

 

In the next few weeks, I will be writing wrap up posts of my reading challenges overall, and each one, including my book bingo challenge, leading up into 2019 and within the first week of January, I will be aiming to start each new challenge for the new year and introduce those on my blog – perhaps with a challenge that has more open categories for one of them as there were some books that I was unable to get to as the categories were overly specific which made it much harder (trying to find an author with my first or last name was rather impossible in one challenge).

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Book Bingo Twenty-Four – the PENULTIMATE BINGO POST! Featuring A Book with A Number in the Title and A Non-Fiction Book.

Book bingo take 2

That time has come around again, and I am ticking off two in this post, with the final three to come in a fortnight! I again have a few bingos – Row Two Across gains the bingo with the non-fiction square finally being ticked off, as well as row three and row five down. I have one more book to read, and a review to write for the next book bingo, as well as several others so keep an eye out for all that coming out in the coming weeks, and finally, at the end of the year, my wrap up posts for each challenge and my reading for the year overall.

Book bingo take 2

Across

Row #2 – BINGO

 

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A non-fiction book: Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018

 A collection of short stories: Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane – AWW2018

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

Row #4

 

A forgotten classic:

A book with a one-word title: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A funny book: Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky -AWW2018

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018

Down

Row #3: – BINGO

 

A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A non-fiction book:Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – aWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018

Row #5 – BINGO

 

A Foreign Translated Novel: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

A book with a mystery: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #1)

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

3D-WTH

The first book I’ve ticked off for this post is a book with a number in the title – We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni. Part of the Medoran Chronicles series, it is three novellas, told from the perspectives of Alex’s three best friends, Jordan, D.C. and Bear, and is linked to the previous four books – so if you wish to avoid spoilers, make sure you read Akarnae, Raelia, Draekora and Graevale. It is a well-written book, delving into the lives of three heroes who help Alex in her battle against Aven. Seeing what has happened through the eyes of D.C., Bear and Jordan fills in the gaps in the stories we see through the eyes of Alex, and what they mean to her and what she means to them. It gives the series a new insight and delves into the secrets of Alex’s friends that are hinted at in the other books and gives readers a deeper understanding of D.C. and why when we first meet her, she comes across as prickly and off-putting, and what caused this attitude.

A great book for those who love the Medoran Chronicles.

amazing australian women

The second, and final book on this post, is a non-fiction picture book that tells the stories of remarkable women in Australia and what they did to contribute to our history and nation as it stands today. Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer is a non-fiction picture book, women who were involved in arts, politics, activism and resistance, business owners, singers, teachers and politicians, whose achievements and roles in society had a great impact on Australia but are perhaps not as well-known as some. The book does explore a few well-known women, such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, and Edith Cowan, yet the others were ones that I had not previously heard about or come across in my history studies. In bringing them out of the archives, and into the light and to life, for readers young and old. Learning about new historical figures is always interesting and important to reshape our thinking of how we view history and the people who built it – those who were once hidden but are not anymore – and these are figures that I would have enjoyed writing assignments on during my history studies.

AWW-2018-badge-rose

This has been my penultimate post for the book bingo I’ve been participating in with Theresa Smith and Amanda Barrett for the past year, and hope to do so again next year. This is one challenge I have managed to complete, whereas my other one was trickier, as there were some very difficult categories to fill. Until next fortnight!

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Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

mary poppins.jpgTitle: Mary Poppins
Author: P.L. Travers, illustrated by Lauren Childs
Genre: Classics, Children’s Literature
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 16th November 2018 (originally published 1934)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Price: $39.99
Synopsis: An exquisite flagship gift edition of an iconic classic, illustrated by the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child.
When Mary Poppins arrives at their house on a gust of the East Wind and slides up the bannister, Jane and Michael Banks’s lives are turned magically upside down.

Who better to reimagine this endearing children’s classic than today’s most instantly recognisable and best-loved artist-illustrator? Lauren Child brings the magic of Mary Poppins into the hearts and imagination of readers and fans new and old.

First published in 1964, Mary Poppins has been delighting readers ever since, both in books and on film. This stunning deluxe edition is published ahead of the release of the hotly anticipated Disney film Mary Poppins Returns.

~*~

In 1934, Australian author, P.L. Travers, a pen name for Helen Goff, wrote and published Mary Poppins, the first in a series of books about a magical nanny who looked after the Banks children, Jane, Michael, and their twin brother and sister, Barbara and John (Barbara and John do not appear in the 1964 Disney movie). In this edition, Lauren Childs has illustrated the stories told by P.L. Travers, and the world she created in London, and Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, which is an address that is familiar to many through the books, and the movie, and that has captured the imaginations of children and adults for generations.

When Katie Nanna up and leaves the Banks family at the beginning of the book, Mary Poppins appears out of nowhere to take charge, flying in on the East Wind on her parrot-handled umbrella and with her magical carpet bag. Throughout, she goes on adventures with Bert, the Match Man, and takes her charges, Jane and Michael on outings, and shares the secrets of talking to animals with the twins. She has promised to stay until the wind changes to the west – at which point, her work will be done and she will have to depart the Banks family.

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe latest edition has come out in anticipation of the upcoming movie, Mary Poppins Returns, which sees Mary Poppins, this time played by Emily Blunt, return to Cherry Tree Lane, to a new generation of Banks children. The story is simple, but at the same time, filled with a sense of reality, where a family must learn to be a family again, and this is done through the magic of Mary Poppins – though in the book, she is much less saccharine than in the Disney version. Here, we have a Mary Poppins who does not shy away from the realities that the Banks children do and must face in the world that is about to become quite dangerous.

The world that P.L. Travers creates is set in London, referred to as the City, and landmarked by St Paul’s Cathedral, where we meet The Bird Lady – who has a bigger role in the novel than the film, and even though this is an abridged version, it still gets the main ideas and story across, and people can enjoy this and the original together now, as each publication, both movies and the stage show bring a new level and new layers of story to Mary Poppins and what she does for the family.

The story is set in the early twentieth century, though Lauren imagined it in the 1930s – perhaps it could be either, and at the start, it reads like it could possibly be set in early twentieth century Australia until those classic London landmarks are mentioned to cement the setting. It is a delightful edition, and the illustrations are whimsical and fun, but still capturing the essence of the original story that P.L. Travers intended for her characters. It is an Australian classic that has endured for over eighty years, and will hopefully, continue to charm readers for years to come, both child and adult.

I enjoyed reading this book, and hope that others enjoy it too.

Booktopia

The Little Fairy Sister by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite

little fairy sister.jpgTitle: The Little Fairy Sister

Author: Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: NLA Publishing First Edition

Published: 1st May 2013

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 112

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: ‘The Little Fairy Sister’ is a real fairy story of Bridget’s adventures among the wee people. She meets the most delightful little creatures: the Dragon-fly, the Kookaburra, the Lizard, the Teddy Bears, the Pelican, as well as the Mannikins, the Merman, and of course the Fairies.

This facsimile of The Little Fairy Sister, popular with children of the 1920s, has been reproduced by the National Library of Australia from an early edition of the book. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s enchanting illustrations will appeal to children as much today as they did yesterday.

~*~

Many children in Australia have been, and still are, brought up on a European tradition of fairy tales that have their roots in oral, salon and literary traditions: Oscar Wilde, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Charles Perrault and other French salon writers, including Charlotte Rose de la Force, and Hans Christian Andersen. Stemming from there, collections from Andrew Lang – his rainbow fairy books, and English authors such as John Jacobs would have largely shaped the fairy tale world children come to inhabit. In the early twentieth century in Australia, a young woman  named Ida Rentoul turned her hand to creating images of fairies, drawing fairies and whimsical creatures into a uniquely Australian setting, combining them with Australian flora and fauna.

Bridget is an only child who is doted on by nurse and her parents – and when she falls asleep after her father tells her a story of the little sister she was told went to live with the fairies, she falls into a world of magic, of fairies and talking animals, much like Alice did when she tumbled down the rabbit hole of Lewis Carroll’s classic Wonderland. In this new world, Bridget shrinks down to the size of a fairy as she explores the world of talking animals, a fairy queen, wonder, magic and a bushland paradise that is both quintessentially European in the tradition of a fairy land, and yet also, quintessentially Australian as native fauna and flora populate the world Bridget finds herself in. Accompanied by dragonflies, pelicans, a kookaburra and a myriad of other creatures that populate the world of fairy tales, and bridge the gap of the real and fairy tale worlds of Australia and the European tradition – where the familiar tales are transported into an equally familiar landscape for Australian children.

The introduction states that Ida would allow her family – mother, sisters and later, her husband, Grenbery, to put text and stories to her images. The text that accompanies Ida’s images of Bridget and The Little Fairy Sister was written in 1923, by her husband, Grenbery, and has been reproduced in the facsimile edition in this new print. Ida is known as the queen of the fairy book in Australia, and though her work is uniquely Australian, hr work is filled with echoes of Lewis Carroll, Arthur Rackham, Kate Greenaway and Aubrey Beardsley – where European tradition meets Australian wilderness.

It is an enjoyable and easy read, where the combination of European fairy tales and Australian nature, flora and fauna creates a new world, though sadly a little unknown these days, and so this reprint of the original facsimile of the 1920s edition brings it back to life for a new audience, and deserves a place in our literary canon, and the fairy tale canon of literature in Australia and around the world, to show how tradition can marry with a new world that is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time to people.

This book marks of my final book bingo square for the year, a forgotten classic, which will go up in December.

Booktopia

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson, based on the original tales by Beatrix Potter

christmas tale of peter rabbit.jpgTitle: The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit
Author: Emma Thompson, based on the original tales by Beatrix Potter.
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Warne/Penguin Random House
Published: 19th November 2018
Format: Hardcover/Board book
Pages: 72
Price: $16.99
Synopsis:. A wonderful new board book edition of The Christmas Tale of
Rabbits are always very uppity during the Christmas season, and Peter Rabbit was no exception.’
Emma Thompson continues the adventures of Peter Rabbit in this board book edition of a super new Christmas tale. It is almost Christmas and Peter Rabbit cannot contain his excitement. After he upsets yet another bowl of mincemeat, Mrs Rabbit sends Peter on an errand. He bumps into his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, and a feathered friend who makes an alarming announcement which throws Benjamin and Peter together in a race against time and the scary McGregors.
And so, our Christmas Tale begins…
Will the friends’ rabbity ingenuity save their friend from an unsavoury end?
Brilliantly told by Emma Thompson and charmingly illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Peter Rabbit is back with a hilarious cast of characters. This time our story is set in Beatrix Potter’s beloved Lake District.
Emma Thompson, Oscar-winning actress and screen writer is a long-time admirer of Beatrix Potter’s tales. She has a talent for creating engaging narratives with a dry humour similar to Potter’s own and is the perfect choice of author for this new Peter Rabbit tale.

~*~

Rabbits love Christmas, so the stories go, and as has been witnessed by Beatrix Potter. Of course, the most well-known of rabbits is no exception, and he has revealed it to none other than Emma Thompson, Nanny McPhee and Professor Trelawney herself (amongst many spectacular roles in other films) – for a new generation – and let’s face it – anyone who grew up on the original tales as well. In this story, Peter and Benjamin cross paths – as they inevitably do in the other tales – gathering items for Christmas for their mothers. Together. they decide to have a bit of fun and follow William the Turkey into the Great Forbidden Place – Mr McGregor’s Garden! We all remember the line from the original, where Mrs Rabbit warns her delightfully good girls – Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail -and naughty little boy – Peter – not to enter Mr McGregor’s garden lest they meet the same fate as their father – being baked into a pie by Mrs McGregor.
And of course, this is where the fun and laughter start, as William tells Peter and Benjamin that Mrs McGregor has been feeding him quite well – as he is to attend Christmas dinner with the McGregors – just not in the way he thinks he will be. It is up to our brave little rabbits to break it to William that in fact, he is not to be a guest, but the main meal. And so, what follows is a series of attempts to hide William and save him from the slaughter. All their attempts are comical, seeing as they are very small rabbits, and William is a very big, fat turkey. It is their eventual success that brings joy to the animals, and they rush home for their rabbity Christmas.
Emma Thompson’s writing style matches Beatrix Potter’s so well, I cannot imagine who else would be the right person to take on the challenge of reinvigorating these beloved characters, and the illustrator, Eleanor Taylor, captures the magic of the original Beatrix Potter water colours too, with vibrant colours that evoke the old stories.
This charming tale, with the happy, and funny ending, ensures laughter and delight for the holidays, and a return to nature and the world of Peter Rabbit, the charming, yet naughty bundle of fur we all love.

Booktopia

christmas tale of peter rabbit.jpg

Book Bingo Twenty-Three: A Book Everyone is Talking About, and A Book with a One Word Title, and a Book That Became a Movie

Book bingo take 2

Wow, another fortnight, and another book bingo – my 23rd of the year. As this is my second round, Theresa, and Amanda and I have allowed some flexibility and I have used previously read books to fit into categories I may not make by the end of the year but making sure they did not double up with my previous bingo card. Of the remaining categories, I am yet to read a book that fits in with a forgotten classic, and that will, together with a book written more than ten years ago, make up my final book bingo post that will appear just before Christmas – it’s a busy time of year – the asterix next to We Three Heroes in this post indicates I have not marked that square off yet, and it will appear in my next book bingo in early December.

Book bingo take 2 .jpg

This time around, I have scored three bingo rows – row two across, and rows two and three down – with some books not having appeared in my bingo previously but read this year, they fitted in perfectly to the categories, and some will as I previously said, be discussed in later posts.

Wundersmith

The first book off the shelf is the one that we have all spent a year waiting for. Ever since Nevermoor was released in 2017, the anticipation for Wundersmith, my book with a one-word title (I’m not counting its subtitle for the sake of this category), has been bubbling over in the book blogging world, the publishing world and the bookseller and reader worlds. Wundersmith continues the adventures of Morrigan Crow, rescued from Jackalfax on her birthday by the enigmatic and utterly delightful Jupiter North, whose air of mystery and magic show Morrigan a world beyond what she has known for her entire life. She is taken to Nevermoor, and after her successes in her trials, she is accepted into the Wunder Society, or WunSoc, to study and cultivate her talents and knack. She meets her friends, Hawthorne, the Wundercat, Fenestra, and Jupiter’s nephew, Jack, and lives at the Hotel Deucalion – where the rooms change depending on what you need, where vampires throw parties and where doors that lead to secret places appear. Who wouldn’t want to live here? In Wundersmith, Morrigan is due to start her lessons at the academy, with her classmates, including Hawthorne, but when her knack is revealed, she finds that there are many who will want to work against her, and those, such as Ezra Squall, who wants to use her to get back into Nevermoor. What follows is Morrigan’s fight to stay in classes and resist Squall – and it is through these trials that she finds out who she can really trust, and who is just in it to help Squall, by using her. A great series and I am eager for the third one, to see where Jessica and Morrigan take us, and would love to find out where I can get a cat like Fen.

victoria and abdul

The second book on this list and post is a book that became a movie. For this, I chose Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi. I saw the movie first, and then found the book, which was originally published in 2010, seven years before the movie came out. True to the core elements of the story, including the racism and discrimination Abdul faced by the Queen’s family and staff, the movie covers only the year of the Diamond Jubilee, whereas the book covers the preceding ten years and the Golden Jubilee, and also tells us of Abdul’s fate after Queen Victoria’s death in January, 1901. The story was discovered years after, through diaries that had remained secret after the death of Victoria and Abdul – it was these diaries that Shrabani used to piece the story together, as Bertie, who became Edward the VII, had all personal correspondence between the two destroyed after he sacked Abdul and sent him home. What their story highlights is that prejudice is deeply entrenched in society – whether it is class, gender, age, or in this case, race and religion, and whilst Queen Victoria saw beyond these and respected Abdul as her friend and munshi, those around her did not like it. The diaries had been Karim’s – kept secret by his family after he died in 1909 – and without them and their dedication to keeping the diaries safe, and Shrabani’s fabulous detective work, we might not know the depths of this relationship, and the Queen’s family and her advisors would have succeeded in scrubbing a remarkable, and intriguing tale from the annals of our history.

Lennys book of everything

Finally, a book that everyone is talking about – Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee. This is one that has generated a lot of press from the publisher, Allen and Unwin, who won a seven-way bidding war for the right to publish this book. It tells the story of Lenny, whose brother, Davey, is sick and has a condition that makes him keep growing. Lenny dreams that her father will return one day, and as she and her brother collect a build it yourself encyclopaedia, Lenny begins to search for her father’s family, determined to find him. Yet as her brother gets sicker and has to go to hospital for tests, Lenny finds herself caught between a reality she has to deal with and the fantasy she is looking for. This book is special because it shows the strength of a community and family when things get bad, and a child narrator whose voice grows with her, and who has strong beliefs. Lenny and Davey dream of a life of freedom and adventure, heading up to Canada to find their father with Davey’s invisible Golden Eagle, Timothy, and away from the confines of their life with their mother. It is a love story, but not the kind of love story that everyone associates with those words. Instead of romantic love, it is familial love – mother and children, mother and son, mother and daughter, brother and sister – relationships that are perhaps more powerful than a romantic love because they are forever, and do not flit in and out of life in the same way romance does. There is a fragility about this book, but also a strength, and Lenny’s story is driven by her love for her family and insatiable thirst for knowledge. Lenny’s Book of Everything is one of those books that stays with you, and that haunts you. It gave me a book hangover that I’m clawing my way out of and trying to get on top of all my other reading. It is so powerful that my mind keeps circling back to it and I may need to read it again at some stage.

AWW-2018-badge-rose

Row #4

 

A forgotten classic:

A book with a one-word title: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A funny book: Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky -AWW2018

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018*

Row #5 -BINGO

 

A book that became a movie: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi

A book based on a true story: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – AWW2018*

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018*

A book written by someone under thirty: The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

Down

Row #1 – –

A book set more than 100 years ago: The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1) – AWW2018

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian woman: Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2) – AWW2018

A forgotten classic:

A book that became a movie: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi

Row #2  – BINGO

 

A book written more than ten years ago: The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas*

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A book written by an Australian man: Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill

A book with a one-word title:Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book based on a true story: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – AWW2018*

 

Row #3: – BINGO

 

A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A non-fiction book:Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018*

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – aWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018

This is my third last book bingo of 2018!! The next one shall be my penultimate post, on the 1st of December, and the entire challenge will wrap up ten days before Christmas on the 15th, so look out for my final posts and I hope, a book bingo wrap up post.

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