Wrap up #4: Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017: Challenge Completed

Wrap up #4: Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017: Challenge Completed

 

 

aww2017-badge2017 was the first year I took part in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, and it was the sixth year it has been running. Keen to read more Australian Women Writers and raise the profile of our wonderfully talented female authors, I signed up in early January 2017, as a way to keep myself occupied whilst building my blog, and to read more local literature. To start, I initially made a list of books I wanted to read, including The Beast’s Garden (a re-read that I never got to), anything new from Lynette Noni and Sulari Gentill, a couple of books I had obtained over Christmas, and A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French. This list was my base, and from there, within the first month, I had completed my goal with the entirety of The Matilda Saga by Jackie French, and several review books that weren’t quite my style, but that I passed on to those who did enjoy them. From there, many of the books I read were review books from publishers, all genres, growing my list substantially, so I had more than doubled my initial goal by April of the year – perhaps even tripled it by then. So I kept reading, devouring fantasy, historical fiction and crime as my favourite genres for the year.

Three of my favourite authors – Kate Forsyth, Lynette Noni and Sulari Gentill released new books this year, all read and reviewed. I was lucky enough to participate in a series of reviews to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2018 of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and discovered a new favourite author, Jessica Townsend, author of Nevermoor. Book two will hopefully be out in 2018 and it is one I am eager to read when it does come out.

nevermoor

I pledged to read six and review at least four books – Miles level. However, as is evident by the list below, I far exceeded that, reading and reviewing fifty-five books in total. I have no plans to purposely surpass this next year, though if I do, it will be a lovely surprise and an accomplishment for me. I have linked each review in this post as well so clicking on a title will take you to that review.

Bring on 2018 and many more reads!AWW-2018-badge-rose

 

  1. A Waltz for Matilda (Matilda Saga #1) by Jackie French
  2. The Girl from Snowy River (Matilda Saga #3) by Jackie French
  3. The Road to Gundagai (Matilda Saga #3) by Jackie French
  4. To Love a Sunburnt Country (Matilda Saga #4) by Jackie French
  5. New York Nights by CJ Duggan
  6. Country Roads by Nicole Hurley-Moore
  7. The Ghost by The Billabong (Matilda Saga #5) by Jackie French
  8. If Blood Should Stain the Wattle (Matilda Saga #6) by Jackie French
  9. The Last McAdam by Holly Ford
  10. From the Wreck by Jane Rawson
  11. Draekora (Medoran Chronicles #3_ by Lynette Noni
  12. London Bound by CJ Duggan
  13. Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Bush Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet
  14. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
  15. Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood
  16. The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky
  17. The Song of Us by JD Barrett
  18. Singing My Sister Down and other stories by Margo Lanagan
  19. Stars Across the Ocean by Kimberley Freeman
  20. Murder on the Ballarat Train (Phryne Fisher #3) by Kerry Greenwood
  21. Girl In Between by Anna Daniels
  22. The Lost Pages by Marija Peričić
  23. Beauty in the Thorns by Kate Forsyth
  24. The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless
  25. My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke
  26. Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher #4)
  27. Leaving Ocean Road by Esther Campion
  28. The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green
  29. Siren by Rachel Matthews
  30. A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls
  31. Ava’s Big Move by Mary van Reyk
  32. We That Are Left by Lisa Bigelow
  33. The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch by Nicki Greenberg
  34. The Book of Secrets: The Ateban Cipher (Book 1) by A.L. Tait
  35. Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman
  36. Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer
  37. Soon by Lois Murphy
  38. A Dangerous Language (Rowland Sinclair #8) by Sulari Gentill
  39. She Be Damned by MJ Tjia
  40. Gum-nut Babies by May Gibbs
  41. Tales from the Gum-Tree by May Gibbs and Jane Massam
  42. The Green Mill Murders by Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher #5)
  43. Tales from the Billabong by May Gibbs and Jane Massam
  44. Tales from the Bush by May Gibbs and Jane Massam
  45. Tales from the Campfire by May Gibbs and Jane Massam
  46. The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlpie by May Gibbs
  47. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
  48. Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers by Janine Beacham
  49. Enid Blyton For Adults: Five Go Down Under – text by Sophie Hamley
  50. Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster
  51. Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Rubies and Runaways by Janine Beacham
  52. Into the World by Stephanie Parkyn
  53. Facing the Flame by Jackie French (Matilda Saga #7)
  54. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman
  55. Vasilisa the Wise by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

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Wrap Up #1: 2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Children who know adults who read

As well as the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, I embarked on this year, in which I read about fifty-five books, I also did another reading challenge in another group. Since last year, we have gathered on Facebook, with a list of at least twenty categories, sometimes more, to fill with at least one book per category. Our rules are fairly relaxed – we can use the same book for multiple categories or read multiple books for one category. Below is this year’s challenge and the books I read, mostly review books, and I challenged myself to read a different book for each category, which I achieved. I managed to read three books for the award winner’s category – a category the group decided was open to any book award. The books I read covered multiple awards in Australia and America.

One book that I scraped into the category by a year was Gumnut Babies by May Gibbs – published in 1916, and many of the other books would have fit multiple categories. For a fantasy book and a book by a female author, I could have filled each of those five times at least, if not more. A banned book – I had many options to choose from. Some categories had to be stretched a little, or were fairly open so could be stretched, such as a book that takes place in a forest – The History of Wolves has parts that take place in a forest, so it seemed to fit that category. Others were more straightforward: a book based on a fairy tale – Frogkisser is based on multiple fairy tale tropes, and turns them on their heads. This felt like a good one for this category. Each year the challenge has been different and I haven’t been stumped by a category so badly I haven’t been able to fill it yet. It will always depend on the category and whether I can find a book, so let’s see what 2018’s challenge brings. As always I will aim to fill each category at least once, twice if I can.

Here’s to the next challenge!

Below is my list from the 2017 challenge with linked reviews so you can peruse them for your own reading challenges in 2018 and beyond.

2017 Reading Challenge

A collection of short stories: Singing My Sister Down by Margo Lanagan

singing my sister down

A Young Adult novel: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

edge-of-everything

A Book with a colour in the title: The Green Mill Murders by Kerry Greenwood, Black Cats and Butlers by Janine Beacham

A book that is more than 100 years old: Gum Nut Babies by May Gibbs

GB-CE

A Book you picked because of the cover: Frostblood by Elly Blake

frostblood

A book based on a fairy tale: Frogkisser! By Garth Nix

frogkisser

A book that takes place in a forest: The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

history-of-wolves

A National Book Award Winner: Three read for this category

Award: National Book Award 2016 and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017

Book: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

 undergroud railroad

Award #2: The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2017

Book: The Lost Pages by Marija Peričić

 the lost pages

Awards #3 ABIA Book of the Year 2013, ABIA Literary Fiction of the Year 2013, Bookseller’s Choice Award, The Indie Book of the Year 2013

Book: The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman

light between oceans

A romance that takes place during travel: New York Nights by C.J. Duggan

new-york-nights

A book under 200 pages: Billy Sing: A Novel by Ouyang Yu

Billy-Sing-front-cover-for-publicity

A book over 400 pages:  A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French

 a-waltz-for-matilda

A banned book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

A non-fiction book about nature: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony with Grahame Spence

elephant whisperer

A fantasy novel: Draekora by Lynette Noni

draekora

A book by a person of colour: Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

stay with me

A book by a female writer: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caraval

A book of poetry: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

we come apart

A book set in Asia: The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan

baby ganesh 3

A book about immigrants: Under the Same Sky by Mojgan Shamsalipoor, and Milad Jafari with James Knight

under the same sky

A book about an historical event: The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky (World War Two), The Last Hours by Minette Walters (The Black Death)

A book with a child narrator: The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

the-bombs-that-brought-us-together

A book translated from another language: Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

memoirs of a polar bear

A book that has been adapted into a film (Bonus: watch the film and compare): The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

 

light between oceans

One of two challenges completed for 2017. I also completed the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, which will be covered in a separate post, as will an overall wrap of my reading, and a post that will hopefully combine both challenges, sans the book lists.

Buy the books I read in this challenge here:

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2018 Australian Women Writer’s Challenge Sign-up and Pledge

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018 Sign-up Post

 

AWW-2018-badge-rose

 2018 will be my second year participating in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. Last year, I aimed for the Miles level – to read six and review four. This year, I decided to create my own challenge, and aim for fifteen – I have at least that on a pile next to my desk, and I am sure many review books will come through that I can include.

The levels to choose from are:

  • Stella:read 4 – if reviewing, review at least 3
  • Miles:read 6 – if reviewing, review at least 4
  • Franklin:read 10 – if reviewing, review at least 6
  • Create your own challenge: nominate your own goal e.g. “Classics Challenge”.

Last year, I made a list of titles to tackle. I missed out on a few, (more about this in my wrap up post), so this year I’m not going to say what I will or won’t read, only to definitely state that review books for 2018 will be added, and I will read whatever else I can read to add to the list and reviews. Instead of committing myself to specific books, other than to read more of the Phryne Fisher series, I shall read what comes to hand each day, or week throughout 2018.

With many books obtained this year that have been written by Australian women that I intended to read this year but never got there, I will aim to read as many of these as possible within my custom challenge of fifteen.

The challenge began seven years ago. Each year participants aim to bring more attention to female writers in Australia, past and present, from diverse backgrounds as much as possible, and I do where I can find something. My main stipulation is that the book has to be in a genre I enjoy and have a compelling plot – which makes it more fun and engaging. I am hoping to read some of the books I had planned to include in 2017 but never got around to.

Authors I will definitely look to include will be: Sulari Gentill, Kate Forsyth, Lynette Noni, and Jessica Townsend. Keeping a keen eye on publicity catalogues and bookstores, I am hoping to write about other aspects of Australian literature too as a side project for myself.

With any luck, I will go beyond the fifteen books I have pledged, and will attempt to post more updates than I did this year so you can track my progress. If you haven’t already, think about signing up if you want to participate, and join the Facebook group where members are always on hand with suggestions, and their reviews to help you reach your goals.

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Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Rubies and Runaways (Rose Raventhorpe #2) by Janine Beacham

raventhorpe 2Title: Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Rubies and Runaways (Rose Raventhorpe #2)

Author: Janine Beacham

Genre: Children/Mystery/Crime

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 25th July 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 245

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The Clockwork Sparrow meets Downton Abbey

It’s a bitterly cold winter in Yorke and Rose Raventhorpe and her butler Heddsworth are stuck with Rose’s unpleasant cousin Herbert, and his equally horrible butler, Bixby.

When an orphan boy named Orpheus interrupts the Cathedral’s Mistletoe Service, saying that his sister has been kidnapped, Rose vows to help. Solving the mystery will be a lot better than accompanying ghastly Herbert! But the investigation is more complicated than Rose has anticipated and will lead her and her butler friends through fancy tea-rooms, horrible factories, secret underground passages and more…

Fireplace pokers are much more dangerous than you might imagine . . .

~*~

Christmas is coming, and Rose is excited: apart from the presence of her annoying cousin, Ghastly Herbert, and his butler, Bixby, both of whom seem determined to ruin the cheer and suck the joy out of Rose. When Herbert starts speaking about firing Heddsworth, Rose’s loyal butler, and marrying her early on, Rose is infuriated. But the arrival of Orpheus at the Mistletoe Service at Yorke’s Cathedral sets in motion a series of events that result in murder and disappearances. Combined with Ghastly Herbert’s determination to buy her a ring, and get her fitted for a dress (both scenes where Rose’s disdain ensures a comedic outcome), Rose is determined to find a way out of the marriage that Herbert claims her mother would celebrate and that her father assures her may never happen, it is a mystery where the suspect is not who Rose or the Silvercrest Hall Butlers expect – and where little hints are dropped along the way, the subtlety of these hints allowing the reader to discover the secrets along with Rose.

aww2017-badgeThis is the second book in a series, and the characters are just as awesome as in the first. Rose is wonderfully written, the perfect balance of a young woman who knows her responsibilities but strives to use her standing in society to advocate for others and who would rather fence and be part of a butler secret society than sit for portraits and attend dress fittings.

Rose’s father plays a much larger role in this book, and I enjoyed getting to know him. Unlike Lady Constance, Lord Frederick is friendlier and calmer, and much less rigid in what he expects from Rose. He is rather lax in enforcing these rigid ideals, and when Ghastly Herbert insists on marrying Rose throughout the book, it is her father and Heddsworth who reassure her it may not happen – and it is the conniving and deception that Herbert and Bixby bring into the household that lead to events that force Herbert to thankfully call off the wedding.

I enjoyed this, the mystery and humour combined nicely, and Rose’s Yorke evokes what could be a parallel world to the real York, with a touch of magic in the air surrounding the cat statues of Yorke that are supposed to come to life, an inventive system of communication between butlers and sweeps, mixed in with Victorian history and settings. It is an immersive story and setting, and as a reader, I felt like I was there with Rose much of the time, and was on her side about Herbert and his attitude – Herbert is the kind of character I think people will love to hate, and I was rather pleased whenever he was humiliated or received his comeuppance, as it seemed to illustrate he wasn’t as superior as he thought he was.

Each character in this series is well written and I love that the head of the butler secret society is a woman, and one of the top butlers, Bronson, is too. It breaks with the tradition many books set in this era would use, and this break with tradition is a shock to the rather traditional and uppity Herbert too – illustrating that what some people thought was proper was something to be questioned and turned on its head. I think this is a series that will continue to turn Victorian traditions on their heads, in a fun and informative way for the reader.

The mystery of Orpheus’s missing sister and a murderer who has disappeared twice without a trace, and the tension between the formerly allied butlers and chimney sweeps is the meat of the story, and of course, Ghastly Herbert is caught up in it all, driving Rose batty, and with Orpheus by her side as a new friend, Rose can face anything – even her Ghastly cousin and his demands of how she behaves before their wedding in several years. She is only twelve, after all, and has much more important things to handle. Being an honorary member of Silvercrest with her own Infinity Key comes with responsibilities that trump marrying cousins.

 

Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers (Rose Raventhorpe #1)

rose raventhorpe 1.jpgTitle: Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers

Author: Janine Beacham

Genre: Mystery/Crime/Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Little, Brown Books/Hachette

Published: 28th March 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 263

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The Clockwork Sparrow meets Downton Abbey

When Rose Raventhorpe’s beloved butler is found (gasp!) murdered in the hallway of her own house, she’s determined to uncover the culprit. Especially since he’s the third butler to die in a week!

Rose’s investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city’s ancient feline guardians.

Knives aren’t just for cutting cucumber sandwiches, you know . . .

 

~*~

 

aww2017-badgeIn the City of Yorke, butlers are dying and cat statues are going missing. Rose Raventhorphe, daughter of a prominent figure in Yorke, living in the Ravensgate area, sets about uncovering the murderer and thief after her beloved Butler, Argyle, is murdered in her own home. Argyle’s murder is the latest in a series of attacks on butlers in Yorke, and it seems each murder is accompanied by the disappearance of a cat statue from one of the Gates in Yorke. Each murder brings Rose closer to the truth, and into contact with a secret society of duelling butlers, protectors of Yorke. To investigate and help the butlers, Rose must escape the watchful eye of her mother, whose idea of what a young lady of Rose’s upbringing should be doing does not include hanging around graveyards and befriending butlers.

 

Rose’s Yorke is a fictional, almost magical version of the real York. It has the same sense of mystery and intrigue that some of the small streets and alleyways of the real York has, and in a Victorian setting, shrouded in mist and lit only by gas-lamps, the city feels even more mysterious. The shadows of the city that Rose encounters add to the mystery she needs to solve. Where Rose’s mother demands she do the ladylike thing of practising her piano and sitting around daintily to preserve an image of high class upbringing, the butlers who seek to find the Black Glove murderer, are protective and concerned about Rose in a more loving and caring way – and in the end, this is why they allow her to help them as much as she can.

 

Rose’s instincts aren’t always spot on, and like any investigator, her initial suspicions are not what she expected, and her desire to find the truth is constantly at the heart of the story, making her a likeable, flawed and realistic heroine whom I look forward to seeing develop across the series as she straddles the line between doing what is expected of her and what she desires.

 

The Rose Raventhorpe series is a charming way to introduce younger readers to the thrills and chills of the crime and mystery genre that so many love. For me, it was a quick read but hopefully will be one that is accessible for many, and enjoyed by many. With book three out in January, I am catching up on books one and two before I read it, and thoroughly enjoying my journey,

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