May 2019 Round Up

I managed to read fifteen books in May, so I’m still keeping my monthly average. Of these, about 11 were by Australian women – one was for work, so I haven’t reviewed it, but have reviewed all the others, and some of the reviews were published in June, as I finished the books as the month of May ended, and I didn’t have time to get to the reviews between everything else.  I am slowly getting there with my other challenges, and hope to have much more progress on them very soon. My book bingo is progressing, and all my posts are ready to go up to much later in the year.

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Australian Women Writers

  1. Life Before by Carmel Reilly – Reviewed
  2. The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green – Reviewed
  3. The Monster Who Wasn’t by T.C. Shelley – Reviewed
  4. The Lost Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn – Reviewed
  5. Lintang and The Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss – Reviewed
  6. The Great Toy Rescue (Puppy Diaries #1) by Yvette Poshoglian – Work book, not reviewed
  7. As Happy as Here by Jane Godwin – Reviewed
  8. Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Australian Women Doctors of the Great War by Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee – Reviewed
  9. Deltora Quest: The Shifting Sands by Emily Rodda – Reviewed
  10. Deltora Quest: Dread Mountain by Emily Rodda – Reviewed
  11. Mermaid Holidays by Delphine Davis and Adele K Thomas – Reviewed

Pop Sugar Challenge

  1. A book becoming a movie in 2019:
  2. A book that makes you nostalgic: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday
  3. A book written by a musician (fiction or nonfiction): Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills
  4. A book you think should be turned into a movie: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
  5. A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads:
  6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover: Bella Donna: Coven Road by Ruth Symes, Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley
  7. A reread of a favourite book: Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth
  8. A book about a hobby: The Bad Mother’s Book Club by Keris Stanton
  9. A book you meant to read in 2018: Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley
  10. A book with POP, SUGAR, or CHALLENGE in the title: Poppy Field by Michael Morpurgo,
  11. A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover:99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
  12. A book inspired by myth/legend/folklore:Mermaid Holidays by Delphine Davis and Adele K Thomas
  13. A book published posthumously: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  14. A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie:
  15. A retelling of a classic: Enola Holmes: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets (Enola Holmes #3) by Nancy Springer
  16. A book with a question in the title:
  17. A book set on college or university campus: Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel by Devin Grayson, Ryan North and Willow Wilson
  18. A book about someone with a superpower: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume One: Squirrel Power by Ryan North
  19. A book told from multiple POVs: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
  20. A book set in space: Captain Marvel: Higher, Faster, Further by Kelly Sue DeConnick
  21. A book by two female authors:
  22. A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title: Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams
  23. A book set in Scandinavia: The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
  24. A book that takes place in a single day: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson
  25. A debut novel: What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson
  26. A book that’s published in 2019: Vardaesia by Lynette Noni
  27. A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature: Dragon Masters: Treasure of the Gold Dragon by Tracey West
  28. A book recommended by a celebrity you admire:
  29. A book with LOVE in the title:
  30. A book featuring an amateur detective: All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill
  31. A book about a family: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion
  32. A book by an author from Asia, Africa, or South America: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim
  33. A book with a zodiac sign or astrology term in title:The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
  34. A book that includes a wedding: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino
  35. A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter:Mermaid Holidays: The Talent Show by Delphine Davis and Adele K. Thomas, The True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl
  36. A ghost story:
  37. A book with a two-word title: Saving You by Charlotte Nash
  38. A novel based on a true story: The Familiars by Stacey Halls – The Pendle Witches
  39. A book revolving around a puzzle or game:
  40. Your favourite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading challenge:

2016 – A book based on a fairy tale:

2017 – A steampunk book:

Prompt:

Advanced

  1. A “cli-fi” (climate fiction) book: The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble, Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson
  2. A “choose-your-own-adventure” book:
  3. An “own voices” book: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim
  4. Read a book during the season it is set in: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson (Easter Season),The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green (parts are set during Autumn)
  5. A LitRPG book:
  6. A book with no chapters / unusual chapter headings / unconventionally numbered chapters: Kensy and Max: Undercover by Jacqueline Harvey (Ciphers used to give the chapter headings)
  7. Two books that share the same title: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda
  8. Two books that share the same title: Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears by Emily Rodda
  9. A book that has inspired a common phrase or idiom:
  10. A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

#Dymocks52Challenge

General/#Dymocks52Challenge

60. Life Before by Carmel Reilly

61. Alice to Prague by Tanya Heaslip

62. Upside Down Magic #5: Weather or Not by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins

  1. The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green
  2. The Monster Who Wasn’t by T.C. Shelley
  3. The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn
  4. Squidge Dibley Destroys the School by Mick Elliott
  5. Lintang and The Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss
  6. Alfie takes Action by Karen Wallace
  7. The Great Toy Rescue (Puppy Diaries #1) by Yvette Poshoglian
  8. As Happy as Here by Jane Godwin
  9. Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Australian Women Doctors of the Great War by Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee
  10. Deltora Quest: The Shifting Sands by Emily Rodda
  11. Deltora Quest: Dread Mountain by Emily Rodda
  12. Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel by Devin Grayson, Ryan North and Willow Wilson
  13. Mermaid Holidays by Delphine Davis and Adele K Thomas

BINGO!

Book Bingo

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Rows Across:

Row One:

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019

Beloved Classic: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner – AWW2018

A novel that has more than 500 pages:

A novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Prize winning book:

Row Two:

A book by an author with the same initials as you:

Non-Fiction book about an event: The Suicide Bride by Tanya Bretherton – #AWW2019

Fictional biography about a woman from history:

Memoir about a non-famous person: Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Book written by an Australian woman more than 10 years ago: Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019 (2001)

Row Three: BINGO

Themes of Science Fiction: Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson

Themes of Culture:The Lost Magician by Piers Torday

Themes of Justice: What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – AWW2019

Themes of Inequality: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – AWW2019

Themes of Fantasy: Vardaesia by Lynette Noni – AWW2019

 

Row Four:

Book with a place in the title: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester -AWW2019

Book set in the Australian Outback:

Book set on the Australian Coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian Mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019

Book set in an exotic location: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – #AWW2019

 

Row Five: Bingo

Written by an Australian Man: The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant

Written by an Australian Woman:Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch by Nicki Greenberg – AWW2019

Written by an author under the age of 35: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – #AWW2019

Written by an author over the age of 65: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – #AWW2019*

Written by an author you’ve never read: The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble – #AWW2019

Row Six: Bingo

Literary: Zebra and Other Stories by Debra Adelaide – AWW2019

Crime: All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill – AWW2019

Historical: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Comedy: Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills

Rows Down:

Row One:  –

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019

Book by an author with the same initials as you:

Themes of science fiction: Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson

Book with a place in the title: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester -AWW2019

Written by an Australian man: The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant

Literary: Zebra and Other Stories by Debra Adelaide – AWW2019

Row Two:

Beloved Classic: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner – AWW2018

Non-Fiction book about an event: The Suicide Bride by Tanya Bretherton – #AWW2019

Themes of culture: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday

Book set in the Australian outback:

Written by an Australian woman: Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch by Nicki Greenberg – AWW2019

Crime: All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill – AWW2019

Row three:

Novel that has 500 pages or more:

Fictional biography about a woman from history:

Themes of justice:What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – AWW2019

Book set on the Australian coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Written by an author under the age of 35: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – #AWW2019

Historical: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Row Four: – BINGO

Novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Memoir about a non-famous person: Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Themes of inequality: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019          

Written by an author over the age of 65: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – #AWW2019*

Romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Row Five:

Prize winning book:

Book written by an Australian woman more than ten years ago: Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019 (2001)

Themes of fantasy: Vardaesia by Lynette Noni – AWW2019

Book set in an exotic location: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – #AWW2019

Written by an author you’ve never read: The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble – #AWW2019

Comedy: Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills

May Round Up – 15

 

Title Author Challenge
Life Before Carmel Reilly General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019

 

The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle Sophie Green General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019, Popsugar

 

The Monster Who Wasn’t T.C. Shelley General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019
Lintang and The Pirate Queen Tamara Moss General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant Kayte Nunn General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019
Squidge Dibley Destroys the School Mick Elliott General, #Dymocks52Challenge,
Alfie Takes Action Karen Wallace General, #Dymocks52Challenge
The Great Toy Rescue (Puppy Diaries #1) Yvette Poshoglian General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019
As Happy as Here Jane Godwin General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019 – published 23rd July
Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Australian Women Doctors of the Great War Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019 – read in May, review posted June
Deltora Quest: The Shifting Sands Emily Rodda General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019 – read in May, review posted June
Deltora Quest: Dread Mountain Emily Rodda General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019 – read in May, review posted June
Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel Devin Grayson, Ryan North and Willow Wilson General, #Dymocks52Challenge, Popsugar
Mermaid Holidays Delphine Davis and Adele K Thomas General, #Dymocks52Challenge, Popsugar

#AWW2019 – Due out 2nd July 2019, review to be posted then,

 

Dread Mountain (Deltora Quest #5) by Emily Rodda

Dread Mountain.jpgTitle: Dread Mountain (Delotra Quest #5)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st August 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 120

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:Lief, Barda and Jasmine are on a perilous quest to find the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora. Only when all gems have been restored to the Belt can Deltora be freed from the tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord.

Four gems have been found. Now, though grave news reaches Lief from home and he longs to return, the quest must continue.

To find the fifth stone the heroes must venture almost to the border of the Shadowlands, and plunge into the darkness and terror of the realm of the monstrous toad Gellick — Dread Mountain.

~*~

Following their adventure in the Shifting Sands, Lief, Barda and Jasmine venture to Dread Mountain to face the horrible toad, Gellick, who is the Guardian of the emerald, embedded in his head. Here we are also introduced to kangaroo-like creatures called Kins, and they embark on another quest to get the emerald from Gellick. Each book reveals a little more about each character as well, and this time, they must convince Gellick to part with the stone.

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Much like the other books, they must go on a quest and tests to finally get to the stone, and push through dangers sent by the Shadow Lord to stop them – yet nothing has yet, and probably won’t by the end of the book. After this, they only have two stones left to find before they can journey back to Del and defeat the Shadow Lord and return the king to the throne.

Yet another great book in the series – filled with adventure and friendship, it shows kids that working together is a good thing, and this has been a theme I have found throughout the series and that I hope will continue – once I have finished this omnibus edition, I am planning on doing a wrap up post on the series as well. So these reviews have been short, but will be collated into one post when I am finished the series.

As each book builds on the other, there are hints dropped here and there about what is to come, but at the same time, many surprises that keep people engaged and reading on through each book, which shows just how popular this series is.

Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Women Doctors of the Great War by Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee

women to the frontTitle: Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Women Doctors of the Great War

Author: Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Ebury Press/Penguin Random House

Published: 2nd April 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 320

Price: $34.99

Synopsis:At the outbreak of World War I, 129 women were registered as medical practitioners in Australia, and many of them were eager to contribute their skills and expertise to the war effort. For the military establishment, however, the notion of women doctors serving on the battlefield was unthinkable. Undaunted, at least twenty-four Australian women doctors ignored official military policy and headed to the frontlines.
This book explores the stories of the Australian women who served as surgeons, pathologists, anaesthetists and medical officers between 1914 and 1919. Despite saving hundreds of lives, their experiences are almost totally absent from official military records, both in Australia and Great Britain, and many of their achievements have remained invisible for over a century. Until now.
Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee have compiled a fascinating and meticulously researched account of the Great War, seen through the eyes of these women and their essential work. From the Eastern to the Western Fronts, to Malta, and to London, we bear witness to the terrible conditions, the horrific injuries, the constant danger, and above all, the skill and courage displayed by this group of remarkable Australians. Women to the Front is a war story unlike any other.

~*~

I spent many years in high school and university studying history – modern and ancient, and across Australia, Europe and the Middle East, Rome and Greece when it came to Ancient History – at least when it came to courses. Beyond that, I have tried to read diversely, to fill in the gaps of a predominantly male driven historical record where women and other groups were not always present, or at least, not acknowledged. The one course I studied that was perhaps the most diverse – yet still concise due to the twelve week semester – was women’s history, where each lesson covered a different aspect and practice across the world, and where our further reading, text books and assignments gave a broader view of practices such as foot binding, sati, or widow burning, and many others that informed and built on my knowledge.

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Yet when it came to Australian history, I heard about the suffragettes but I learnt about them in depth in Society and Culture, and learned much more about World War One and Two in history – from the Australian, British and German perspectives across years ten, eleven and twelve. I learned about the causes, the battles, and the key figures. I learned that women were part of the war effort on the home front and as nurses – but not much else.

So when I came across Women to the Front, I was overjoyed because here was the book that would have made some of what I studied more interesting. Here, I discovered one hundred and twenty-nine women doctors went to the various theatres of war as surgeons and anaesthetists, pathologists and medical officers – not just nurses. These one hundred and twenty-nine women did not let the patriarchal system wear them down or chase them from the medical profession – they pushed forward, became doctors in the decades leading up to the war and volunteered to go.

At first, of course, they were often denied. They were called ‘lady doctors’, the assumption being they couldn’t handle the battlefield reality the men heading over would face. Of course, these 129 women went on to prove the society wrong. These women were serving their country and doing their jo, a job they loved doing and that at the time, was probably not as common as it is today, due to societal expectations from parents, and all those around them, often based on class. Books like this – fiction and non-fiction, driven by women and what they can do, not just romance, are amongst my favourite because they fly in the face of what is expected or assumed women will do and like. Allowing girls and women to read and access stories like this is important because it allows them to see what they can do and be beyond what popular culture often shows.

Their stories are collected here in five parts, each divided into a year of the war, and from there, into chapters that are then divided by theatre and location for each woman or several women who worked together. From Gallipoli to Ypres and Passchendaele, the battlefields of France and Belgium, and the many men they helped and treated after battles, this book tells the stories that I wish we had learned about in history, or at least been given a side box on in text books to investigate on our own for assignments – which I tried to do for one on war memorials in Sydney – but found that for the one I wanted to do, I could not access enough information to write a decent report.

These days, we are getting more diverse historical accounts, and whilst many of these women were white and had British heritage, it is still important to read and know these stories – it shows that the war was experienced by more than just men at the front or doctors. So these stories about women doctors from Ruth Lee and Heather Sheard are an important addition to the historical record, and could be used as a text book, or even placed on a reading list for a history course that touches on or focuses on World War One.

At the end of the book, there is a biography of each woman. Some are shorter than others, so much like anyone in history, sometimes more is known about one than another, yet each has their own unique story. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I’m continuously seeking the untold histories that were either ignored or erased by those who wrote the history books.

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began by Libby Hathorn

Miss Frankin.jpgTitle: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Author: Libby Hathorn

Genre: Historical Picture Book

Publisher: Hachette/Lothian

Published: 28th May 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Price: $26.99

Synopsis: A fascinating story about Miles Franklin, one of Australian literature’s most significant women, written by one of the biggest names in children’s literature.

This is a story about iconic Australian writer Stella Miles Franklin, namesake of two major literary prizes, during her brief but formative time as a governess in rural New South Wales. Teenager Stella Miles Franklin has to work to help support her family. Stella is unhappy in her job and longs for the freedom and excitement of city life. While working, she meets a young orphan girl, Imp, who is almost as feisty as Stella herself, and who spurs the older girl to follow her dreams.

Inspired by events in Miles Franklin’s lifeMISS FRANKLIN is told by multi-award-winning author Libby Hathorn and acclaimed illustrator Phil Lesnie and includes a facts page about Stella Miles Franklin.

~*~

Picture books are not something I review often – but when I do, they are ones that I simply fall in love with and that have an empowering, and important message in them. Recently Hachette sent me a new picture book by Libby Hathorn, about Miles Franklin and her journey to becoming an author.

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As a teenager, Miles Franklin had to take on a governess job to earn money for her family. In this story, she encounters a young girl named Imp, who seems disinterested in learning yet afraid of something at the same time. Miles manages to draw Imp out of her shell, and together, they both learn that it is okay to take a chance – and this leads to Miles getting her first novel published by Henry Lawson.

Picture books like this introduce children to history and people that sometimes are never encountered, and at other times, only encountered in adulthood. Now, children will have the chance to meet her at a young age and find out more about who she is as they get older. The accompanying illustrations suit the story text and the historical setting of the story.

It is as much a story about encouraging you to follow your dreams as it is about how Miles got to where she did and became such a well-known author that we now have a prize for women authors named after her: The Stella Prize. This is the kind of picture book I would have adored when I was younger because it is so different to what is usually out there and there seems to be a trend these days for picture books centred around history and significant women in history, and I hope this trend grows.

Book Bingo Ten – Book Bingo –  Set on the Australian Coast

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Welcome to my tenth book bingo with Theresa and Amanda, where I am ticking off another square no full bingo yet. Some squares are to be used in later posts as the books haven’t been published yet. This time, I am checking off a book set on the Australian coast. I was going to do a double bingo but wasn’t sure if doing so would allow me to stretch these posts to the end of the year, as all my categories are nearly checked off, but the posts just need to be written.

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The asterixed titles are ones that are going to appear in future posts. It looks like I only have four slots left to fill, so hopefully I can stretch what I have left to the end of the year, as we have planned with this card.

house of second chancesFor the Australian Coast, I have chosen The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion, which does head to Ireland in some places, but has a good chunk set on the Australian coast. It is the sequel to one I read last year, and whilst not in my top reads, it is still enjoyable and fits in nicely with this category. It is light hearted and romantic, so it would have also worked with the romance square, but best sits here for me as I wasn’t sure what other books would cross my path that would be set on the Australian coast. It continues the story of Ellen and her family, and all those interconnected with them in Ireland and Australia – though this time, focuses on Ellen’s brother, Aidan and the house he is renovating.

Row Four:

Book with a place in the title: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester -AWW2019*

Book set in the Australian Outback:

Book set on the Australian Coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian Mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019

Book set in an exotic location: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – #AWW2019

Row three:

Novel that has 500 pages or more:

Fictional biography about a woman from history:

Themes of justice: What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – AWW2019

Book set on the Australian coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Written by an author under the age of 35: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – #AWW2019*

Historical: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

As you can see, I’ve been reading a very broad range this year and that is being nicely covered across book bingo and all my other challenges. Stay tuned for next fortnight when I feature a book with a place in the title.

Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson

daughter of bad timesTitle: Daughter of Bad Times

Author: Rohan Wilson

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 6th May 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A suspenseful, truthful and compelling novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Roving Party.

‘What better pitch than helping the refugees of the world? Who doesn’t want to help refugees, right? The five Australian facilities are immigration detention centres, sure, but they’re also manufacturing plants. That means two revenue streams for one facility. And we also clean up our image. We’re not just a corrections company anymore-now, we’re building communities, we’re saving lives.’

Rin Braden is almost ready to give up on life after the heartbreaking death of her lover Yamaan and the everyday dread of working for her mother’s corrupt private prison company. But through a miracle Yamaan has survived.

Yamaan turns up in an immigration detention facility in Australia, trading his labour for a supposedly safe place to live. This is no ordinary facility, it’s Eaglehawk MTC, a manufactory built by her mother’s company to exploit the flood of environmental refugees.

Now Rin must find a way to free Yamaan before the ghosts of her past and a string of bad choices catch up with them both.

In its vision of the future, Daughter of Bad Times explores the truth about a growing inhumanity, as profit becomes the priority.

~*~

It’s 2075, and the world has faced, and still is facing a catastrophic climate event that has led to influxes of refugees from the Maldives and other islands and nations that have lost their homes to climate change – and have found their way to camps in Japan, Australia and America. Rin Braden’s mother is the CEO of one of the corrupt private prison companies taking advantage of the growing desperation of refugees in an eerie echoing of what is happening today, and a foreshadowing of what will come.

The refugee crisis has hit everywhere – and nobody is immune. Nations that have facilities and resources must find a way to support their citizens, and the refugees – yet as this novel shows, the people who want to genuinely help and create a better life for all, are the ones who will become targets in a dark look at how the complex system of dealing with refugees that we are experiencing today is filled with people and places only in it for profit, taking advantage of desperate people.

Rin, born in Japan but raised in America after being told her birth mother has died – and is working for her adoptive mother, Alessandra, within the prison system when she meets Yamaan, a Muslim refugee from the Maldives, whose life now consists of a series of camps in the Pacific region and Australia. Through her contact with Yamaan and other people from Japan, Rin learns that the crisis her mother has described to her much worse, and her understanding of her life, her position in society and what the refugees are going through, and the way they are being exploited for capital gain in much the same way refugees are today.

The diversity of the characters shows that the changes in climate that lead to the events of this novel will affect everyone in the world in some way, but also, that nothing will really change. The rich and powerful will stay rich and powerful, and the displaced will be powerless and desperate, forced into situations they can’t get out of, and filled with governments who promise one thing, but are telling lies the whole time. Through Rin, there is some mind of rebellion as she seeks to find Yamaan after finding out he has died – and she looks to help the refugees, find her birth mother and reject all she has known.

It is a novel about corruption, identity and finding one’s place in an ever-changing world, changes that we can see coming towards us now. Changes that are coming quickly. Changes that Rin sees she needs to try and do something about. It was interspersed with transcripts and other investigative communications – aspects that became clearer as the novel went on, yet the ending felt a little too open-ended and without a distinct result. Perhaps this was the author’s intent – to show the futility of the situation and times the characters were living in, and to show that in times like that, nothing can really be resolved properly.

Life Before by Carmel Reilly

life before.jpgTitle: Life Before
Author: Carmel Reilly
Genre: Crime/Mystery
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 6th May 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 345
Price: $29.99
Synopsis: Suspense and family secrets surround a pair of estranged siblings in a compelling debut thriller.
She knew she should talk to him. But what could she say? Once there had been blame to apportion, rage to hurl. Now she no longer had a sense of that. Who knew what the facts of them being here together like this meant. What was she to make of the situation? Scott lying unconscious here in this bed, unknown to her in almost every way. She a wife, a mother, but in her mind no longer a sister. Not a sister for a very long time now.

Lori Spyker is taking her kids to school one unremarkable day when a policeman delivers the news that her brother, Scott Green, has been injured and hospitalised following a hit and run.

Lori hasn’t seen Scott in decades. She appears to be his only contact. Should she take responsibility for him? Can she? And, if she does, how will she tell her own family about her hidden history, kept secret for so long?

Twenty years before, when she and Scott were teenagers, their lives and futures, and those of their family, had been torn to shreds. Now, as Lori tries to piece together her brother’s present, she is forced to confront their shared past-and the terrible and devastating truth buried there that had driven them so far apart.

Compassionate, wise and shocking, Life Before tells the gripping story of an ordinary family caught in a terrible situation. What if the worst thing you can imagine isn’t the worst thing to happen? How do you go on? And what steps will you take to protect yourself from further pain?

~*~

Life Before opens in 1993, with a country cop, Senior Sergeant Des Robinson has to attend an accident, with one fatal, and many injuries on the backroads of Northam. It is a tragedy that will touch many families and turn the lives of two in particular upside down, leading to a mystery about the fate of one family that is slowly revealed as the book goes back and forth between 1993, when the accident occurs, and 2016, where everything slowly comes out.

In 1993, Pam and Mick are living a normal life in Northam with their kids, Scott and Loren, both still at school and with promising futures ahead of them. One day, a terrible accident changes all that and Northam is never the same again. Months later, the town has to contend with another tragedy tearing a family apart.

2019 BadgeIn 2016, Lori is married, with two kids, and on her way to drop them at school when she’s informed her brother has been in an accident. He’s in a coma, and she’s listed as his only next of kin. at this point, we discover that her parents and oldest brother, Simon, are all dead – the big question is how and when. At first, Lori keeps Scott a secret from Jason. They’ve been estranged for over twenty years, since the tragedy that tore their family apart. Yet soon, their lives, and the lives of Lori and her husband Jason, will unexpectedly intersect and the mystery, crime and tragedies that made Lori who she is, will unravel and come to light.

In a compelling mystery, Carmel Reilly reveals how a tragic accident can change the lives of a normal family, and an entire community forever, and lead to even more tragedy that drives two family members apart for two decades. It is about how a decision can change everything. Throughout the book, the two mysteries – the one in 1993, and the one that leads to Lori and Scott reuniting in 2016, are told in a way that a little information is revealed each time, yet not too much: Carmel Reilly holds back on what we really need to know until the climax of the book, like all good mysteries. It is compelling, and I wanted to read on to find out what had happened. It also ran at a decent pace: not too fast, so everything was resolved neatly, but also, not to slow so things dragged on. This is where going back and forth in what seemed like parallel mysteries worked well.

Throughout the novel, the reader is constantly wondering what happened with the accident, what happened to Lori’s family – how did they die, and when did they die? All clues point towards something unforeseen and that Lori has been on her own – apart from Jason and their kids – for a very long time. The hints are there that something awful happened, something that she feels she cannot talk about. Yet it is the careful and deliberate peeling back of the layers of the two crimes involving Scott that has made this novel a compelling and engrossing story, and a mystery well worth the read. Where some mysteries show the fracturing of a marriage due to the secrets one spouse has kept, Reilly holds Jason and Lori together, showing that both have had something rough to deal with in this case and life. The mystery really opens up and heats up when Jason goes to the ICU with Lori – what comes after this reveals much more than anticipated and even quickens the pace a little, but not too much.

Unlike most mysteries that end in a nice, clean resolution of an arrest, here, whilst we find out what has happened, this one has a unique ending. The crime may be solved, but there is still more to come for Lori and Jason, and Scott off the page. All in all, a very compelling read for crime and mystery fans.