The Wolf and The Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

wolf and watchman.jpgTitle: The Wolf and The Watchman

Author: Niklas Natt och Dag

Genre: Crime/Scandi Noir

Publisher: Hachette/John Murray

Published: 12th February 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 407

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Best Debut, The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award 2017

‘Thrilling, unnerving, clever and beautiful’ Fredrik Backman

The year is 1793, Stockholm. King Gustav of Sweden has been assassinated, years of foreign wars have emptied the treasuries, and the realm is governed by a self-interested elite, leaving its citizens to suffer. On the streets, malcontent and paranoia abound.

A body is found in the city’s swamp by a watchman, Mickel Cardell, and the case is handed over to investigator Cecil Winge, who is dying of consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell become embroiled in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams, and one death will expose a city rotten with corruption beneath its powdered and painted veneer.

THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN depicts the capacity for cruelty in the name of survival or greed – but also the capacity for love, friendship, and the desire for a better world.

~*~

The mystery that The Wolf the Watchman follows is both complex and strange – it follows Mickel Cardell and Winge after Mickel finds a torso in the river, Anna Stina, a young woman trying to find her way out of poverty and who finds herself in a position she never imagined she’d be in, and Kristofer Blix, whose path will eventually cross with Anna’s, and their lives will be changed forever.

They all have goals and dreams that are changed over the course of the novel, and each part weaves back and forth between their perspectives – creating a dense and complicated story where anxiety seems to be lurking around every corner. In 1793, things feel less stable following the assassination of the king of Sweden, and threats abound, and people will do whatever they can to survive whatever existence they might be living. It took me a while to read this one, only because there was so much to take in and absorb to get to the end and what felt like the solving of the mystery, but at the same time, maybe not quite. It’s the kind of book one needs to dedicate time and attention to because of the density of the plot and characters, and the way everything connects together.

The mystery of the body in the river is the impetus for the story, and it is woven through as each character and their story becomes clearer throughout the book. As I said before, it is dense and very involved, and needs quite a bit of attention to get through this meandering, and thrilling story as the characters travel across an eighteenth century Sweden during a time when people are trying to survive, and when people’s capacity for cruelty or love is shown through the actions and sacrifices they are willing to make for people they barely know, taking advantage of the law and others.

I enjoyed this mystery, a very different story to what I usually read. Translations into English can often be denser, depending on the story, and in this case, it benefits the story and enhances the characters and their actions. Be sure to pay attention as best you can to absorb everything you need to know.

Booktopia

2018 Reading Wrap Up Post

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In 2018, I had the aim of reading 120 books throughout the year. This was my general reading goal from the first of January to the end of December, and included review books, books I had to read for work as a quiz writer with Scholastic Australia, and my other challenges – The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, the Pop Sugar Challenge (which I came close to finishing, but several categories were too hard to fulfil when it came to it), and Book Bingo 2018 with Theresa and Amanda, which we will be attempting again in 2019.

AWW-2018-badge-rose

In 2019, I will be participating in each of the above challenges again – The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, Book Bingo and the Pop Sugar Challenge. My main aim will be to complete the 2019 Book Bingo, and to see how I go with the 2019 PopSugar Challenge – which will be addressed in a separate post. Below is my list of books I read in 2018:

 

Reading Log

 

  1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Illustrated) by JK Rowling (Newt Scamander)
  2. The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett
  3. Where’s Jane? Find Jane Austen Hidden in her Stories by Rebecca Smith and Katy Dockrill
  4. Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham
  5. Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part-Time Husband by Barbara Toner
  6. Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
  7. Smile:The Story of the original Mona Lisa by Mary Hoffman
  8. The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge by Kali Napier
  9. Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson
  10. The Endsister by Penni Russon
  11. The Last Train by Sue Lawrence
  12. Graevale by Lynette Noni
  13. Eventual Poppy Day by Libby Hathorn
  14. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  15. Olmec Obituary by LJM Owen
  16. The Passengers by Eleanor Limprecht
  17. The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  18. The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
  19. Draigon Weather: The Legends of Arnan – Book One by Paige L Christie
  20. Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French
  21. The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
  22. Surf Rider’s Club #2: Bronte’s Big Sister Problem by Mary van Reyk
  23. Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
  24. Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson
  25. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  26. Skin in the Game: The Pleasure and Pain of Telling True Stories by Sonya Voumard
  27. Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutschner
  28. Spinning Tops & Gum Drops: A Portrait of Colonial Childhood by Edwin Barnard
  29. Tin Man by Sarah Winman
  30. Mayan Mendacity by L.J.M. Owen
  31. The Opal Dragonfly by Julian Leatherdale
  32. Grandpa, Me and Poetry by Sally Morgan
  33. The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester
  34. The Freedom Finders Series: Touch the Sun by Emily Conolan
  35. The World Goes On by László Krasznahorakai (translated from the Hungarian by John Bakti, Ottilie Mulzet and Georges Szirtes
  36. The Book of Answers: The Ateban Cipher Book 2 by A.L. Tait
  37. Munmun by Jesse Andrews
  38. Little Gods by Jenny Ackland
  39. Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon
  40. I am Sasha by Anita Selzer
  41. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  42. The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford
  43. Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn
  44. Monty the Sad Puppy by Holly Webb
  45. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  46. Lovesome by Sally Seltmann
  47. Egyptian Enigma by L.J.M Owen
  48. The Ship that Never Was by Adam Courtenay
  49. Other Worlds: Perfect World by George Ivanoff
  50. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  51. The Enchanted Places by Christopher Milne
  52. The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross
  53. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham
  54. Australia Day by Melanie Cheng
  55. The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deborah Abela
  56. Other Worlds: Beast World by George Ivanoff
  57. Circe by Madeline Miller
  58. Miles Franklin: A Short Biography by Jill Roe
  59. The Book of Colours by Robyn Cadwallader
  60. The Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning
  61. The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
  62. Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir
  63. Ready to Fall by Marcella Puxley
  64. A Home for Molly by Holly Webb
  65. My Girragundji by Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Prior
  66. Burning Bridges and Other Hobbies by Kitty Flanagan
  67. Bluebottle by Belinda Castles
  68. Selected Short Stories by Katherine Mansfield
  69. The Upside of Over by J.D. Barrett
  70. P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones
  71. Into the Night by Sarah Bailey
  72. The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers, translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo
  73. The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady
  74. The Notebook of Doom #10: Snap of the Super-Goop by Troy Cummings
  75. Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt
  76. Dragon Masters: Search for the Lightning Dragon by Tracey West
  77. Ella and Olivia: A Wild Adventure by Yvette Poshoglian
  78. Kensy and Max: Breaking News by Jacqueline Harvey
  79. Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill
  80. Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr
  81. We See the Stars by Kate van Hooft
  82. The Far Back Country by Kate Lyons
  83. Beneath the Mother Tree by D.M. Cameron
  84. The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
  85. Harry Potter – Diagon Alley: A Movie Scrapbook by Warner Brothers and Jody Revenson
  86. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill
  87. The Desert Nurse by Pamela Hart
  88. The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1)
  89. The Silver Horse by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #2)
  90. If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken
  91. The Herb of Grace by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #3)
  92. Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles
  93. The Cat’s-Eye Shell by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #4)
  94. Children of the Dragon: The Relic of The Blue Dragon by Rebecca Lim
  95. The Legacy of Beauregarde by Rosa Fedele
  96. The Lightning Bolt by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #5)
  97. The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn
  98. Ninjago: The Mystery of the Masks by Kate Howard
  99. Spirit by Ellen Miles (The Puppy Place)
  100. The Butterfly in Amber by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #6)
  101. The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes
  102. Scrublands by Chris Hammer
  103. When the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson
  104. The Last Firehawk: The Crystal Caverns by Katrina Charman
  105. Hey Brother by Jarrah Dundler
  106. The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Satellite Space Mission by AnnMarie Anderson
  107. Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer
  108. The Honourable Thief by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
  109. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
  110. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
  111. The Brink of Darkness by Jeff Giles
  112. Mouseford Academy: Lights, Camera, Action by Thea Stilton
  113. No Country Woman by Zoya Patel
  114. The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
  115. Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2)
  116. A Kitten Called Tiger by Holly Webb
  117. Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane
  118. The Distance Between Me and The Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti
  119. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
  120. Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer
  121. The Note Book of Doom: Battle of the Boss-Monster by Troy Cummings (#13)
  122. Mission Alert: Island X by Benjamin Hulme-Cross
  123. Time Jumpers: Stealing the Sword by Wendy Mass
  124. Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky
  125. We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni
  126. The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson
  127. The Colours of all the Cattle by Alexander McCall-Smith
  128. Frieda by Annabel Abbs
  129. Secrets Hidden Below by Sandra Bennett
  130. The Shelter Puppy by Holly Webb
  131. The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery #1) by Nancy Springer.
  132. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady (An Enola Holmes Mystery #2) by Nancy Springer
  133. What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra
  134. The Cat with the Coloured Tail by Gillian Mears
  135. Bright Young Dead by Jessica Fellowes
  136. Total Quack up by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck
  137. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
  138. Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
  139. Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
  140. Stormtrooper Class Clowns by Ace Landers
  141. Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee
  142. The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty (Kingdoms and Empires #2)
  143. Storm troopers: Class Clown by Ace Landers
  144. The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters
  145. Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi
  146. The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas
  147. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
  148. The Little Fairy Sister by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite
  149. Hogwarts: A Movie Scrapbook
  150. Goodbye Christopher Robin by Anne Thwaite
  151. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  152. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling
  153. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
  154. Edward by Ellen Miles
  155. Clementine Rose and the Bake-Off Dilemma by Jacqueline Harvey
  156. All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill
  157. Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington
  158. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North
  159. The Rescued Kitten by Holly Webb
  160. The Au Pair by Emma Rous
  161. Dear Santa, edited by Sam Johnson OAM
  162. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  163. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore
  164. A Very Murderous Christmas by Cecily Gayford
  165. Wiser than Everything by Lorena Carrington
  166. Time Jumpers: Escape from Egypt by Wendy Mass]
  167. Henry VIII and the Men who Made Him by Tracy Borman

SmallLogo

As you can see, I have read kids’ books, young adult books, fiction and non-fiction books and everything in between for quiz writing and reviewing, and my own reading that I was able to do in between the books sent to me as a reviewer and quiz writer.

2019 Badge

In wrapping up my 2018 reading, there are definitely some books I wanted to get to but didn’t, and that I hope I can get to in 2019. With similar goals for 2019, I hope to achieve similar numbers, more books read, and hopefully more reviews coming your way for the next twelve months.

Pop Sugar Challenge Round Up

One of the challenges I did during 2019 was the PopSugar Challenge. It had forty categories, plus an additional ten advanced ones – a couple of which I managed to check off, and I filled most of the main categories, some with multiple books. It was a good challenge, but one thing I think lets it down is that it is overly prescriptive – and I think this made it too hard to fill in – almost impossible for some, in fact.

One was an author with the same first or last name as you – and this could let many people down, as there will be many names, not just mine, that do not appear as any part of an author’s name. Some I didn’t fill due to lack of time, but there were some that relied on accessibility as well – being able to get the book, or something being available in a library, bookstore or your collection. The point of a challenge is to challenge you and your reading – but perhaps not in a way that lets you down when you find you can’t fill a category.

Still, it was a fun challenge and I’ll be doing it again this year – but I feel that the categories get too prescriptive and specific each year, and rely too much on the accessibility of books – just because you can find a title in a Google search does not mean that book will be readily available for you – and my plan is to fill as many as I can with what I have.

Challenge #1

A book made into a movie you’ve already seen: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Basu Victoria and Abdul (2017)

True crime: Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington

The next book in a series you started: Mayan Mendacity by L.J.M. Owen, The Silver Horse by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #2)

A book involving a heist: The Book of Answers: The Ateban Cipher Book 2 by A.L. Tait, Bright Young Dead by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #2)

Nordic Noir:

A novel based on a real person: Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

A book set in a country that fascinates you:

Country: Scotland
Book: The Last Train by Sue Lawrence

Country: England
Book: The Silver Horse by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #2)

A book with the time of day in the title: early – Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

A book about a villain or anti-hero: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutschner, The Ship that Never Was by Adam Courtenay

A book about death or grief: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer, Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt

A book with your favourite colour in the title: Bluebottle by Belinda Castles

A book with alliteration in the title: Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham
Olmec Obituary by LJM Owen
Mayan Mendacity by LJM Owen

A book about time travel: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas, Time Jumpers: Stealing the Sword by Wendy Mass

A book with a weather element in the title: Draigon Weather: The Legends of Arnan – Book One by Paige L Christie, Dragon Masters: Search for the Lightning Dragon by Tracey West

A book set at sea: The Passengers by Eleanor Limprecht, Bluebottle by Belinda Castles, Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill

A book with an animal in the title: The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson, The Opal Dragonfly by Julian Leatherdale

A book set on a different planet: Graevale by Lynette Noni

A book with song lyrics in the title: The Last Train by Sue Lawrence (Last Train Out of Sydney)

A book about or set on Halloween: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

A book with characters who are twins: The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester, Other Worlds: Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin, Tin Man by Sarah Winman

A book that is also a stage play or musical:

A book by an author of a different ethnicity to you: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, Grandpa, Me and Poetry by Sally Morgan

A book about feminism: Olmec Obituary by L.J.M. Owen, No Country Woman by Zoya Patel

A book about mental health: Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson (mental disabilities, dealing with grief and loneliness)

A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift: The Enchanted Places by Christopher Milne, Goodbye, Christopher Robin by Anne Thwaite

A book by two authors: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A book about or involving sport: Surf Rider’s Club #2: Bronte’s Big Sister Problem by Mary van Reyk

A book by a local author: The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge by Kali Napier (AU author), Grandpa, Me and Poetry by Sally Morgan, Olmec Obituary by LJM Owen, Mayan Mendacity by LJM Owen, Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part-time Husband by Barbara Toner

A book mentioned in another book: Heidi by Johanna Spyri, mentioned in Little Gods.

A book from a celebrity book club:

Book Club:
Book:

A childhood classic you’ve never read: Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

A book that’s published in 2018: Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part-time Husband by Barbara Toner

A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner: Talking as Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

A book set in the decade you were born: Little Gods by Jenny Ackland

A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French

A book with an ugly cover: Skin in the Game: The Pleasure and Pain of Telling True Stories by Sonya Voumard

A book that involves a bookstore or library: Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles

Your favourite prompt from the 2015, 2016 or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges:

2015: A book with a one-word title: Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn, Lovesome by Sally Seltmann.

2016: A book based on a fairy tale: The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

2017: A novel set during wartime: Eventual Poppy Day by Libby Hathorn

TOTAL READ: 61 in 37 categories
ADVANCED

A bestseller from the year you graduated high school (2004):

A cyberpunk book:

A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place:

A book tied to your ancestry (Scottish):

A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title: Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon

An allegory: Munmun by Jesse Andrews

A book by an author with the same first or last name as you:

A microhistory: Spinning Tops & Gum Drops: A Portrait of Colonial Childhood by Edwin Barnard

A book about a problem facing society today: When the Mountains Roared by Jess Butterworth – poaching. No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – Racism.

A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge:

TOTAL READ: 5

As you can see, some categories were easier to fill than others, some I didn’t manage to find anything for aforementioned reasons, and some had multiple entries. Some were filled in with a stretch – perhaps this is why I like looser themes, rather than ones that dictate what must be in a title or part of the authors name – you still get the challenge of finding a book that fills it, without causing panic because nothing fits in – this takes the fun out of it. So in 2019, my goal is to fill whatever categories I can. And if there are some where I don’t find a book, or a book does not appeal to me, I will give it a miss – and just let it happen as it happens.

In my mind, a challenge like this whilst fun, can also be inhibiting, which is why in the group that does this challenge, I’ve suggested a list of other challenges in case others want to take those on as well as this one or instead of – something I might do, or tweak them for my individual needs.

So ends another year of reading challenges.

Booktopia

Book Bingo Twenty – A Book by an Australian Woman, A book that’s more than 500 pages and a foreign translated novel.

Book bingo take 2

It’s that time of the fortnight, when Book Bingo Saturday with Amanda Barrett of Mrs B’s Book Reviews and Theresa Smith of Theresa Smith Writes has rolled around. As this is my second go around, and after this week and next fortnight, I still have ten squares left, there will be a few posts where two or more squares are included, and where books used from last time will appear in a different square, to ensure complete coverage should I not be able to read something new for any square. As the year rushes towards the final months, I’ve got many books that will potentially fill each of the remaining squares in November and December.

This week sees three books – two by Australian Women, which gives me a bit of a double bingo for that square, and a bingo in a down row – Row Four, as seen below:

Book bingo take 2 .jpg

Row #1 down

 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:

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 forgotten classic:

A book that became a movie:

Row #4 -BINGO (down)

 

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

Across:

Row #3:  –

 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:

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 #1 – –

 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:

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

cherry tree

First off. a foreign translated novel – The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti. The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree is the story of nine-year-old Mafalda, who has a genetic condition known as Stargardt disease, affecting her vision that will eventually result in complete blindness, exploring a world of disability not often seen in books, and in a realistic, and touching way, using personal experiences to do so.

It is one of those rare books that allows disabled children and readers to see themselves in it, and to see that there are other disabled people out there, not just them. It makes these readers feel less alone, knowing other people live with disability whether it is the same one, or different ones. It is also about finding connections, and people who will stick by you throughout life, and help, and the reality of life and the ups and downs that affect us all. My longer review is linked here.

the clockmakers daughter

The next two books are by Australian women, and both fit into the square for A book by an Australian woman, and one fits into a book over five hundred pages. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. Published on the twelfth of September, The Clockmaker’s Daughter weaves in and out of time and space, between decades and centuries, and throughout generations of people all connected in some way to Birchwood Manor. The focus is on the 1860s, and the Magenta Brotherhood – an artistic guild that hints at Pre-Raphaelite influences, and dips into the early decades of the twentieth century, and hints at a character researching and reading about Birchwood Manor, whose story bookends those f the others, and reaches a conclusion that is a little ambiguous but at the same time, delightfully executed in a way that the stands of ambiguity are what makes the overall mystery work – not everything is straightforward or clean-cut, and not every answer will be uncovered, nor will any sense of justice necessarily be dealt out – or does it need to be? Was an honest mistake made, did people just not realise? It is these unanswered questions, that, even though the mystery of Birdie’s fate is solved in a way, nobody will ever know, and in this instance, it worked out really well.

Kensy and Max 2My third book fills the book by an Australian woman square as well – Kensy and Max: Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey. In the second book in the Kensy and Max series, the twins are in training to be spies at Pharos, and the headquarters called Alexandria during their Christmas break with their friends and teachers – who are also spies. After Christmas, they will set off to Rome with other classmates who are none-the-wiser to the spy training going on around them. Whilst in Rome, Kensy and Max receive more coded messages from their parents and are caught up in their first mission to save the Prime Minister’s son – but is one of their classmates somehow linked to the disappearance of the boy, or is it merely her family they need to be suspicious of? And which student does everyone need to look out for and avoid? Together with their new friends, Kensy and Max will solve the case – the first of many and keep hot on the trail of their missing parents. Will Kensy and Max finally be reunited with their parents?

Kensy and Max is a series for all readers – regardless of age and gender. They defy gender roles and are heroes for children today, where there are many books coming out where male and female characters defy stereotypes and take on their own identity rather than the stereotypes perpetuated by earlier works, which of course, drew on the world that inspired them. Kensy is the kind of girl hero I needed growing up, to have alongside Matilda Wormwood and Hermione Granger, the kind of character who isn’t what she seems and who stands up for herself and her beliefs and doesn’t let people define her – especially those who don’t like her. She is heroic yet at the same time, can be vulnerable and needs grounding – but threaten those she cares about, like her brother, and I reckon you’d be sorry! I adore this series and I cannot wait for future books to see where Kensy and Max take us next.

Thus ends my twentieth book bingo post of the year. Post twenty-one will be up in two weeks time.

Booktopia

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir

cherry tree.jpgTitle: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

Author: Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Bonnier/Allen and Unwin

Published: 29th August 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 208

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: A novel for all ages about a young girl losing her sight, inspired by the author’s own life story. For fans of Wonder, The Little Prince and The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

A novel for all ages about a young girl losing her sight, inspired by the author’s own life story. For fans of Wonder, The Little Prince and The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

Mafalda is a nine-year-old girl who knows one thing: some time in the next six months her sight will fail completely. Can Mafalda find a way through a seemingly dark future and still go to school, play football and look after her beloved cat? With the help of her family, and her friends, Mafalda needs to discover the things that will be important to her when her sight has failed. A moving, empowering tale of courage and determination that will inspire young and old.

~*~

Mafalda is going blind – she knows, at nine years old, that she has six months left until her world changes forever – her house, what she can do now and what she will have to give up when she loses her sight, and the changes she will have to make. At home, she has her cat, Ottimo Turcaret, and her parents. At school, a counsellor called Estella, who is hiding a dark battle of her own, and her new friend, Filippo, who helps her navigate a world that is slowly descending into darkness. As she ventures towards her new reality, each part measuring the distance she can see until her whole world is taken by the darkness, Mafalda crosses off everything she can no longer do on her list and prepares to live a new life. However, Mafalda doesn’t really want things to change, and as her sight diminishes, the other changes in her world become more apparent as well.

Translated from Italian, and inspired by the life story of the author, who has Stargardt disease like Mafalda, the novel explores what it is like to live with a disability that is constantly getting worse, that has no cure, and impacts on everything Paola and Mafalda are able to do. It a story about friendship, family and hope, but also about how disability can affect the life of the disabled person and those around them, and how family and friends choose to act, the roles the must take on and what they do when the disability becomes more apparent or perhaps difficult for them to understand.

Through her experience of an encroaching disability, Mafalda finds friendship in an unlikely place with Filippo – someone she never thought would be her friend, but it is Filippo and Estella, the school counsellor, who help her through the encroaching darkness and whose loyalty proves she can still be who she is, just a little bit different to before. Having a friend like Filippo helps her through the changes she is going through.

The disabled experience is not often explored in books – and if it is, not always allowing the disabled character to be disabled -they must be healed or freed somehow. So what I liked about this book was the reality of Mafalda’s disability and how it will change her life, how illness can affect people and take them away. It is all seen through the eyes and feelings of a child, Mafalda, but is still very powerful. It allows people of all ages who are disabled to see themselves reflected in literature – to see how a disabled person navigates and must learn to adjust the way they navigate the world they live in are real experiences for disabled people that differ from person to person, and through Mafalda, some of these struggles can be seen.

A very powerful book about family, friendship and identity that will stay with you long after you finish.

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers

the 7th cross.jpgTitle: The Seventh Cross

Author: Anna Seghers, translated from the German by Margot  Bettauer Dembo

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: First published 1942, republished 29th May 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 390

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A rediscovered German classic novel from 1942, The Seventh Cross is both a gripping escape story and a powerful novel of resistance.

‘At once a suspenseful manhunt story and a knowing portrait of the perils of ordinary life in Hitler’s Germany, The Seventh Cross is not only an important novel, but an important historical document. This new, unabridged translation is a genuine publishing event’ JOSEPH KANON, author of The Good German and Leaving Berlin

‘It was [Seghers] who taught my generation and anyone who had an ear to listen after that not-to-be-forgotten war to distinguish right from wrong. The Seventh Crossshaped me; it sharpened my vision’ Gunter Grass ‘A masterpiece. Written in the midst of terror, but with such clarity, such acuity; Seghers is a writer of rare insight’ Rachel Seiffert, author of A Boy in Winter

Seven prisoners escape from Westhofen concentration camp. Seven crosses are erected in the grounds and the commandant vows to capture the fugitives within a week. Six men are caught quickly, but George Heisler slips through his pursuers’ fingers and it becomes a matter of pride to track him down, at whatever cost.

Who can George trust? Who will betray him? The years of fear have changed those he knew best: his brother is now an SS officer; his lover turns him away. Hunted, injured and desperate, time is running out for George, and whoever is caught aiding his escape will pay with their life.

The Seventh Cross powerfully documents the insidious rise of a fascist regime – the seething paranoia, the sudden arrests, the silence and fear.
A fascinating insight into life in pre-war Nazi Germany just as the horrors of the Nazi regime were beginning to unfold. This is an important novel, as much for its picture of German society as for its insight into the psyche of ordinary people confronting their personal fears and mixed loyalties’ Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room

The Seventh Cross was written by one of the most important German writers of the twentieth century. Her aim was to write, ‘A tale that makes it possible to get to know the many layers of fascist Germany through the fortunes of a single man.’ She had four copies of the manuscript: one was destroyed in an air raid; a friend lost the second copy while fleeing the Nazis; another was found by the Gestapo; only the fourth copy survived, which, fortunately, she sent to her publisher in America just before she escaped Nazi-occupied France. Published in 1942, The Seventh Cross was an immediate bestseller and was the basis for an MGM film starring Spencer Tracy in 1944. It has been translated into more than 40 languages

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The Seventh Cross is set in the mid-1930s, following the rise of the Nazi Party and Hitler in Germany, in the build-up to war. Early concentration camps, such as Westhofen hold political prisoners. At the start of the novel, seven prisoners have escaped the camp, and the SA and SS officers of the new regime are tasked with hunting them down. Six are caught – one remains on the run, and continuously evades capture – and so, his pursuers decide they will use whatever means necessary to take him captive again. What follows is the prisoner – George’s – attempts to evade capture and reconnect with his former life, but at the same time, wants to keep those he knew before he was taken away safe – his family, his friends.

And after his time in the camp, George doesn’t know who to trust. will his brother, now an SS officer, turn him in? His ex-wife, Elli, is constantly being watched – what will happen to her? Anyone who dares to help George will pay the ultimate price of the Nazi regime – death.

Where many novels surrounding World War Two and the Nazi regime are focussed on the year or two prior to the start of the war, or the war itself, The Seventh Cross is situated within the beginnings

of the Nazi regime, as witnessed by the author, as she fled first to France, and then to Mexico in 1940, after the Nazis occupied France during the war. During her exile, The Seventh Cross was one of the books she wrote – and there were four manuscripts, according to Seghers: one was lost by a friend who was also escaping the Nazis, another destroyed in an air raid. A third was found by the Gestapo, whilst the fourth reached her publisher in America before she fled her home.

Rather than examine the impact of war or the well-known concentration camps and extermination programs of the 1940s, Seghers looks at how ordinary Germans responded to the Nazi regime, from those who followed it didactically and enthusiastically, to those of indifference and again, those who stood up for their beliefs – the good, the indifferent and the bad. It examines what ordinary people had to do to survive and how they did it, and also, what they would do to help George, at great risk or cost to their own lives as they tried to hold onto a semblance of humanity in a period of time that was becoming darker and darker every day.

Seghers wrote what she experienced and witnessed – making it all the more powerful, and though it is fiction, an important historical document, as it shows how everyday people were forced into making choices that they might not ordinarily have made in order to survive, and a confrontation of their fears and mixed loyalties that would eventually lead many into the depths of hatred and genocide that would come to shock the world when the truth was discovered.

Reading about what lead to the war, the ghettoes and the extermination of millions of people is just as important to understand  as the rest – how Germany got there was made up of many factors, and The Seventh Cross shows how this happened through the eyes of someone who witnessed it first hand, ensuring that the story is not easily dismissed and one that should be read and remembered today, so the rise of someone like Hitler can never happen again.

Written in 1942, and translated into English for the first time since, The Seventh Cross has not been in print in the United Kingdom since 1942 – 76 years.

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