January 2020 wrap up

In January of this year, I read 13 books, and got a start on each of my challenges – some have more categories filled in than others, and some will have multiple books for each category, apart from the book bingo challenges, which will only have one each.

Below is a table outlining where each book fits in. Some book bingo posts and reviews are scheduled for the next few weeks and months.

January – 13

Book Author Challenge
Any Ordinary Day Walkley Book Award

 

Leigh Sales AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, The Modern Mrs Darcy, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle

 

Rick Riordan Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

 Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium

 

Belinda Murrell AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, The Modern Mrs Darcy, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

Dragonfly Song

 

Wendy Orr Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Book Bingo, Nerd Daily Challenge, – 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

 

The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz

 

Heather Dune McAdam Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading

Nerd Daily Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo

Josephine’s Garden Stephanie Parkyn Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

The Soldier’s Curse (Monsarrat Series Book One) Meg and Tom Keneally Reading Challenge,

Nerd Daily Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo, AWW2020, Dymocks Reading Challenge

Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking   AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah

 

Troy Cummins Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge,
The God Child

 

Nana Oforiatta Ayim Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge, The Modern Mrs Darcy, Dymocks Reading Challenge
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Ravenclaw Edition) JK Rowling Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge, The Modern Mrs Darcy,
Shark Out of Water Ace Landers Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge,
A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10)

 

Sulari Gentill Book Bingo, The Nerd Daily Challenge, Reading Challenge, Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo , Dymocks Reading Challenge

Books and Bites Bingo

game card books and bites

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:
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:
A Book with a door on the cover:
Written by someone called Jane:
An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
Wherever you go:

Eco-themes:
A Neil Gaiman book:
Short story collection:
Published the year you were born:
Makes you blush:

That Book you keep putting off:
A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)
Short story collection:
A book with bad reviews:
Book to movie:

Scary:
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

2. An Australian classic

3. A book by an Indigenous Australian author

4. A book about climate change [cli-fi or non-fiction]
* Bonus: Read both a fiction [cli-fi] and non-fiction book on climate change
* You might want to check out the Climate Reality Book Club over on Insta for some ideas

5. A book by an LGBTQ+ Australian author

6. A #LoveOzYA book
* #LoveOzYA is a great resource to find an Australian YA read, or check the hashtag on Insta too!

7. A memoir by an Australian woman

8. A poetry collection
* Solo author or anthology

9. 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

10. A Book by a Territorian author – NT or ACT
Bonus: Read both an NT and ACT author

ACT:
NT:

11. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

12. 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:
a book nominated for an award in 2020:
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. Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
2.
3.
The Nerd Daily 2020 Challenge

1. Author Starting with A: Shark Out of Water by Ace Landers
2. Female Author:
3. Purchased on Holidays:
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:
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
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:
16. Protagonist starting with H: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One) – Hugh Monsarrat
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:
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:
26. Bookstore recommended:
27. A number in the title:
28. An audiobook:
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:
32. A one-word title:
33. Bought based on cover:
34. Author starting with M:
35. Start a new series: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
36. A book released in 2019:
37. Male author: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan,
38. 2020 TV Adaptation:
39. A book gifted to you:
40. Author with a hyphenated name:
41. Released in September:
42. Purchased years ago:
43. A standalone:
44. Author with the same initials:
45. Told from two perspectives:
46. Romance or thriller:
47. A protagonist starting with S:
48. Two-word title: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
49. Set in a foreign country: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn,
50. Animal featured in cover: The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah by Troy Cummins
51. Written by your favourite author:
52. Based or inspired by a true story:

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:
3. A book from our Top 101:
4. A book from our Kids’ Top 51:
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:
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:
15. A self-help/motivation:
16. A fairytale/fable adaptation:
17. Book one in a fantasy series: Trials of Apollo – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
18. A book that teaches you something new:
19. A book with a red cover:
20. A book with a colour in the title:
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:
23. A book that made you laugh
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
25. A book you said you’ve read but haven’t:

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

 

Book Bingo

Book bingo 2020

Themes of culture

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 –

About the environment –

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

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

Books and Bites Bingo debut novel – The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)

 

books and bites game card

Ticking off my fourth square this time, the debut novel, I went with The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One). This is Meg Keneally’s debut novel, though it is written with her father, Tom Keneally, who wrote Schindler’s Ark. This is the start of a series, set during colonial times in Port Macquarie, around 1825, and explores not only a crime, but also the history of the convict era and implications of being a convict, as well as the interactions with the local Indigenous people and ideas about how these interactions could have occurred and what they meant for different people – so it is an interesting look at how this may have happened.

soldiers curse

 

It is a complicated, and lengthy mystery, but finding out what happens at the end is very satisfying, and so the meandering road it takes to get to the resolution and main death is very well executed, and satisfying as you dig through the layers and uncover who the characters are. The true nature of the crime and those involved is also quietly bubbling away in the background as suspects are mentioned and dismissed until the true killer is uncovered. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I’m hoping to read the rest of the series this year, and it is going to be one that hits many categories in my reading challenges, some multiple times!

Onto the next square – I’m not sure what it will be but I can’t wait to fill it and reveal it to you!

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

soldiers curseTitle: The Soldier’s Curse (The Monsarrat Series Book One)

Author: Meg and Tom Keneally

Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime

Publisher: Vintage/Penguin Random House

Published: 27th February 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 384

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: A fast-paced, witty and gripping historical crime series from Tom Keneally and his eldest daughter Meg.

In the Port Macquarie penal settlement for second offenders, at the edge of the known world, gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat hungers for freedom. Originally transported for forging documents passing himself off as a lawyer, he is now the trusted clerk of the settlement’s commandant.

His position has certain advantages, such as being able to spend time in the Government House kitchen, being supplied with outstanding cups of tea by housekeeper Hannah Mulrooney, who, despite being illiterate, is his most intelligent companion.

Not long after the commandant heads off in search of a rumoured river, his beautiful wife, Honora, falls ill with a sickness the doctor is unable to identify. When Honora dies, it becomes clear she has been slowly poisoned.

Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney suspect the commandant’s second-in-command, Captain Diamond, a cruel man who shares history with Honora. Then Diamond has Mrs Mulrooney arrested for the murder. Knowing his friend will hang if she is tried, Monsarrat knows he must find the real killer. And so begins The Monsarrat Series, a fast-paced, witty and gripping series from Tom Keneally and his eldest daughter, Meg.

~*~

This is another series that I have had on my shelf for years and have only just started reading. All the books in this series are out, so hopefully I can get through them over the next few weeks or months. The first book introduces us to Hugh Llewellyn Monsarrat, a gentleman convict who is towards the end of his sentence in 1825. He is friendly with a local housekeeper, Hannah Mulrooney, and Hugh now works as the clerk for the commandant of the Port Macquarie settlement in 1825.

It is around this time that the commandant heads off – and his wife, Honora starts getting ill, and eventually dies. When Hannah is accused, Monsarrat sets out to uncover the real killer.

The mystery within The Soldier’s Curse starts out slowly – as an illness that the doctors have several ideas as to what it might be – but poisoning does not cross their minds until it is too late, and this is where it is clever, as once Honora dies, the investigation Hugh conducts ramps up – whereas  before he is an observer, and finds himself reflecting on the events that led him to where he is at the stage of the novel. As a result, there is a lot of backstory and build up, yet I think it helps contribute to the setting and feelings of the characters and mystery. Hugh is determined to prove Hannah Mulrooney is not guilty – the presumption that she is guilty because those in charge of finding out what happens ignore the access that others had to what may have to Honora and her home.

AWW2020

Whilst Hugh navigates his position between the world of convicts, education and freedom, he also observes how the Indigenous people of the area the settlers named Port Macquarie – the Birpai – interact with the newcomers to their land, and the intersections of these communities in different ways – from those who do not come into contact, to the Birpai returning absconding convicts and to those mentioned who are said to have relationships (though this is not expanded on) with the settlers – of which, knowing history, there would have been negative ones as well as the positive ones hinted at in this book. As these stories are not always told, having them mentioned brings them to light at least, and readers can, from there, explore this area of history further to gain a better understanding of what happened in those early colonial days. It will be interesting to see how this is further explored in future books. There are complexities of relationships between convicts, jailers and free settlers, between the Indigenous people and the Europeans, and indeed, between the men and women, as well as between Englishmen and Irish or Scottish folk dealt with in this novel throughout. It felt as though these were carefully considered through the lens of Hugh, and based on his personality, and ways of understanding the world. Inequality is highlighted in many ways here – as is the hierarchy of everyone there. The way this is navigated throughout is consistently there, even if not mentioned on every page: there is a constant feeling that this is all going on at the time. It reflects a world where nobody quite understands each other and struggles to find a way to collaborate.

As the start of a series, it is very dense in establishing the character and his history,  yet as with any series with a key character, there is always more to come in subsequent books – the little things that have not come to the surface yet, and questions about the character that were not answered in the first book. I have the four that are already out on my shelf and hope to get through them all soon. It is an intriguing read about colonial history, and colonies other than Sydney Cove as well as the various interactions between the original inhabitants and those brought here for punishment, and the attitudes towards those two groups from the people who south to enforce their authority. A great start to a series.