Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer

matters of the heart.jpgTitle: Matters of the Heart

Author: Fiona Palmer

Genre: Fiction/Jane Austen retelling

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 27th August 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 330

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A classic love story about manners, men and modern romance retold by bestselling Australian author, Fiona Palmer

Western Australia, 2019: The Bennets are a farming family struggling to make ends meet. Lizzy, passionate about working the land, is determined to save the farm. Spirited and independent, she has little patience for her mother’s focus on finding a suitable man for each of her five daughters.

When the dashing Charles Bingley, looking to expand his farm holdings, buys the neighbouring property of Netherfield Park, Mrs Bennet and the entire district of Coodardy are atwitter with gossip and speculation. Will he attend the local dance and is he single? These questions are soon answered when he and Lizzy’s sister Jane form an instant connection on the night. But it is Charlie’s best friend, farming magnate Will Darcy, who leaves a lasting impression when he slights Lizzy, setting her against him.

Can Lizzy and Will put judgements and pride aside to each see the other for who they really are? Or in an age where appearance and social media rule, will prejudice prevail?

Australia’s bestselling storyteller Fiona Palmer reimagines Jane Austen’s beloved classic tale of manners and marriage, transporting an enduring love story in this very twenty-first century novel about family, female empowerment and matters of the heart.

~*~

Over the years, many myths, fairy tales and classic works have been retold in many ways in books, for the stage, and for the screen. Jane Austen is no exception, and perhaps one of the stories that has been retold the most is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.Most retellings or adaptations of Pride and Prejudicetake place during the Regency period, but every so often, something new comes along, whether that is the time period or the country or culture the story is set in. Pride and Prejudice is one of those stories where you can take the general idea and characters, and it will translate extremely well into a myriad of settings with the necessary tweaks.

2019 BadgeMatters of the Heart is one such retelling, and it is set in Australia in 2019. In Coodardy, Western Australia, Longbourn is a struggling farm. Lizzy Bennet returns home from an early morning walk with her dog, Pippa, to hear the gossip about Charlie Bingley, who has bought the neighbouring farm, Netherfield. Lizzy’s mother, Margaret, is determined to meet Charlie, a very eligible bachelor that Kitty and Lydia know more about than Lizzy as a match for Jane. From here, Matters of the Heartfollows the basic premise of Pride and Prejudice, where the romance is a result of the arguing over manners and expectations.

Mrs Bennet – Margaret – still wants her daughters, especially Jane and Lizzy – to make a good match in this one, yet she is also a woman who has a complex role as well, who encourages her daughters’ passions, but much like the Bennet matriarch of the original, is overly concerned about money and how people see her, and unfortunately, as in the original, the way Mrs Bennet acts and speaks starts to  impact how the Bingleys and Will Darcy start to see and understand Jane and Lizzy as being just like their mother, whilst Lizzy judges Will because he is reserved and seemingly cold – until she sees him come to life on the farm and hears him talk about his sister.

Not only did this retelling and the original have a touch of romance in it, but the main premise is the idea of manners and what happens when we prejudge people based on minimal interaction or gossip. Also, many of the events are similar, just with a twenty-first century flavour, and a uniquely Australian flavour that makes it exciting and enjoyable to read. It also deals with modern ideas of the roles of men and women in a country town, and preconceived  notions of who makes a good farmer or not, and all the surprises along the way that make the story ebb and flow to the pattern and timeline of the original Pride and Prejudice. Placed in the twenty-first century, the climax happens quite differently, and is effectively done so that it works within the original base narrative and the new setting.

Like Jane Austen’s original characters, these ones are flawed and complex, and not entirely perfect, though some seem to think they are. Lizzy and Jane are my favourites, because they are true to their modern selves, but also their origins from the 1800s. As the main focus of the novel, they get the most attention with sisters Mary, Kitty and Lydia popping in and out as they are needed in the story. It has a bit of everything – humour, romance and most importantly, the strength of women and their ability to stand on their own two feet, even in the face of people thinking they are unable to do certain things – old prejudices that in some areas have not gone away.

Overall, this was a very interesting take on an older story, and one that I would recommend it to fans of Fiona Palmer, and fans of Jane Austen.

April Round Up

In April, I read twenty-three books, and added to most of my challenges. No updates for my Jane Austen Challenge this month, but I am working on it. I have read 60 books towards my overall challenge and the #Dymocks52Challenge, and I’m at 28 books for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge – 29 if I include my first read for May. I have completed most of my reads for my book bingo challenge and have scheduled all those posts as well. So I have the next eight months to fill the final squares and fill in the card.

 

I have several bingo rows ticked off and have also filled in many of my Pop Sugar categories – some with books I plan to read so I know what I’m reading. Some may prove to be a bit more of a challenge, but that’s half the fun, trying to find something that suits, that I will enjoy and that I have or will receive, saving time as I go through each challenge.

 

So that’s my month of reading for April – hopefully May will be just as productive as I work my way through these challenges, reviewing and reading kids books for work that also contribute to some of these challenge categories.

 

Pop Sugar Challenge

  1. A book becoming a movie in 2019: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  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:
  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:
  13. A book published posthumously:
  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:
  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)
  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

 

General/#Dymocks52Challenge

#Dymocks52Challenge

  1. Middle School: Born to Rock by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
  2. The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant
  3. A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino
  4. Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson
  5. Poppy Field by Michael Morpurgo
  6. The Artist’s Portrait by Julie Keys
  7. Alice to Prague by Tanya Heaslip – Reviewed
  8. The Lost Magician by Piers Torday (Published 7th of May)
  9. The Suicide Bride by Tanya Bretherton
  10. The Bad Mother’s Book Club by Keris Stanton
  11. Rabbit and Bear: Attack of the Snack by Julian Gough
  12. Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley
  13. Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda
  14. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
  15. Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears by Emily Rodda
  16. Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim (Published 6th of May)
  17. Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist by Dermot O’Leary
  18. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
  19. Christopher Robin: The Little Book of Pooh-isms: With help from Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, and Tigger, too! by Brittany Rubiano
  20.  Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson (Published 6th of May)
  21. Deltora Quest: The City of Rats by Emily Rodda
  22. Fabio, the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express by Laura James
  23. Life Before by Carmel Reilly (Published 6th of May)

2019 Badge

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge

  1. All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill – Reviewed
  2. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner – Reviewed
  3. Vardaesia by Lynette Noni – Reviewed
  4. Saving You by Charlotte Nash – Reviewed
  5. Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch by Nikki Greenberg – Reviewed
  6. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne – Reviewed
  7. Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth – Reviewed/Revisited post
  8. What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – Reviewed
  9. The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble – Reviewed
  10. The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – Reviewed
  11. The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – Reviewed
  12. The French Photographer by Natasha Lester – Reviewed and Q&A
  13. Kensy and Max: Undercover by Jacqueline Harvey – Reviewed
  14. The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – Reviewed
  15. 52 Mondays by Anna Ciddor – Reviewed
  16. Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – Reviewed
  17. Zebra and Other Stories by Debra Adelaide – Reviewed
  18. Esther by Jessica North – Reviewed
  19. Mermaid Holidays: The Talent Show by Delphine Davis and Adele K. Thomas – Reviewed
  20. The True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl – Reviewed
  21. Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – Reviewed
  22. Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – Reviewed
  23. The Artist’s Portrait by Julie Keys – Reviewed
  24. The Suicide Bride by Tanya Bretherton – Reviewed, Interview
  25. Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – Reviewed
  26. Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – Reviewed
  27. Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears by Emily Rodda – Reviewed
  28. Deltora Quest: The City of Rats by Emily Rodda – Reviewed
  29. Alice to Prague by Tanya Heaslip – Reviewed

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Book Bingo:

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:

Themes of Science Fiction: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday*

Themes of Culture:

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

 

BINGO!

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

BINGO!

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: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday*

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:

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

BINGO!

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

April Round-Up – 21

 

Title Author Challenge
Middle School: Born to Rock James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts General, #Dymocks52Challenge
The Honeyman and the Hunter Neil Grant General, #Dymocks52Challenge, book bingo
A Dream of Italy Nicky Pellegrino General, #Dymocks52Challenge
 Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began Libby Hathorn General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019 Book Bingo
Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny Skye Davidson General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019, Book Bingo, Pop Sugar
The Artist’s Portrait Julie Keys General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019
Poppy Field Michael Morpurgo General, #Dymocks52Challenge
The Lost Magician Piers Torday General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

Book Bingo, Pop Sugar

The Suicide Bride Tanya Bretherton General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

Book Bingo, #AWW2019

The Bad Mother’s Book Club Keris Stanton General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

Pop Sugar

Rabbit and Bear: Attack of the Snack Julian Gough General, #Dymocks52Challenge
Eliza Rose Lucy Worsley General, #Dymocks52Challenge, PopSugar
Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence Emily Rodda General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

Book Bingo, #AWW2019, Popsugar

Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon Rebecca Lim General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

Book Bingo, #AWW2019, PopSugar

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna Juliet Grames General, #Dymocks52Challenge, Popsugar
Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears Emily Rodda General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

Book Bingo, #AWW2019, Popsugar

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist Dermot O’Leary General, #Dymocks52Challenge,
The Flatshare Beth O’Leary General, #Dymocks52Challenge,
Christopher Robin: The Little Book of Pooh-isms: With help from Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, and Tigger, too! Brittany Rubiano General, #Dymocks52Challenge,
Daughter of Bad Times Rohan Wilson General, #Dymocks52Challenge, Popsugar
Deltora Quest: The City of Rats Emily Rodda General, #Dymocks52Challenge, #AWW2019
Fabio, the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express Laura James General, #Dymocks52Challenge,

The Bad Mother’s Book Club by Keris Stainton

the bad mothers book clubTitle: The Bad Mother’s Book Club

Author: Keris Stainton

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Trapeze/Hachette

Published: 23rd April 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 266

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: This book club only reads wine labels – the laugh-out-loud novel from ebook bestseller Keris Stainton

Since moving to the Liverpudlian seaside after her husband’s career change, Emma Chance’s life consists of the following: long walks on the beach (with the dog), early nights (with the kids) and Netflix (no chill).

Bored and lonely, when Emma is cordially invited to the exclusive cool school-mums’ book club, hosted by Head of PTA and footballer’s wife, Jools Jackson, she thinks her luck may finally be about to change. She soon realises she may have made a grave mistake when she realises it’s all about books, and less about wine and gossip – but it’s always better to stick things out, isn’t it?

Or not.

After a few months and a few awkward moments involving a red wine on white carpet accident and a swear-word incident involving Jools’s daughter, Emma is ungraciously kicked out of the book club. Exhausted and exiled, she decides it’s about time she fights back against the shame and humiliation. Enlisting the help of some similar-thinking mums, Emma sets up her own book club – no cleaners, polite conversation or reading required: this is the BAD MOTHER’S BOOK CLUB.

 

~*~

 

Living near Liverpool after moving for her husband’s new job as a football manager, Emma Chance finds herself in a new environment to navigate – school parking politics, the PTA and managing to be herself whilst at the same time, putting a good face forward for her husband as he works with the footballer husband of Jools Jackson, who invites Emma to her exclusive book club. However, this book club turns out to be more than what Emma bargained for, and an incident involving Jool’s daughter sees her kicked out. So with fellow mum’s – Beth and Hanan – they start their own book club – The Bad Mother’s Book Club as they all try to navigate school, being a mum and the delicate politics of the PTA and surviving Jools – that is, until something Jools has been trying to hide comes out and she finds that letting Emma in is only going to help her.

In a refreshing story about female friendship, this novel combines light-hearted elements and humour with the struggles that we don’t always want others to see, but that we can’t always hide and eventually, need to ask for help with. It is not depressing, though has a few moments of gravitas that hit home that anyone can be vulnerable and imperfect – but it shows that these moments are okay because whoever we are, we all have them.

It is a great read for anytime – for sitting at home, a holiday or just a touch of light reading – there are many layers in this book to be enjoyed and it is nice to see imperfect characters of all types who acknowledge their flaws and where characters are allowed to be themselves and have concerns, and talk them out without being dismissed. Between mystery appointments and school, the women of the book club, Emma Beth and Hanan must also manage to find a way to raise their children and ensure each child is not ignored. For Emma, this means doing whatever she can to help her son settle in at school, ad watching him struggle, whilst her daughter, Ruby, pushes herself with more work and stress than Emma first realises until each family joins together for a trip for a school project and barriers are broken down and they come together to help each other – another element of the book I enjoyed, showing that everyone is different and has a different path, but no matter what these differences in race, gender or sexuality, friendships can be formed through common bonds of parenthood and hobbies – in the case of this novel.

I enjoyed taking a break from my usual hefty reading in historical fiction, fantasy and literary fiction to explore this world, where friendship is the key to the story, and it is something that we need more of for all readers – whatever their age or gender, and wherever they are at their stage of life.

A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino

A Dream of Italy.jpgTitle: A Dream of Italy

Author: Nicky Pellegrino

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 26th March 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 330

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: The No. 1 bestselling author makes southern Italy come alive in her most captivating, delicious drama yet

Here is your chance to buy your own home in southern Italy for less than the price of a cup of coffee. The picturesque mountain town of Montenello is selling off some of its historic buildings for just ONE EURO each. To be considered as a future resident of Montenello contact the town’s mayor, Salvio Valentini. 

Many people read Salvio’s advertisement with excitement. Elise is in her twenties and desperate to get on the property ladder. Edward wants to escape a life he finds stifling. Mimi is divorced and starting afresh. And there is one person whose true motivation won’t be clear for some time.

These four people all have a dream of Italy. And it’s going to change their lives. The passionate and gorgeous new novel by Nicky Pellegrino, the bestselling author of A Year at Hotel Gondola.

~*~

I had never read Nicky Pellegrino’s books until I received A Dream of Italy. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I knew it was going to be the intertwining stories of several people who purchase run down homes in an Italian village for one Euro under a cunning plan by the town’s mayor to repopulate Montenello.

Elise, who longs for more than what she has, heads off on her own, leaving her fiancé when he refuses to follow her. She is joined by Mimi, divorced and looking for something of her own. A gay couple from Australia join them, and a fourth whose true motivation isn’t clear. What is clear is that they each have dream of a life in Italy – but what these dreams are might not be clear to them when they arrive.

Reading is my way of travelling to different times and places, and this one took me to Italy where I really want to visit one day. For now, I will read about it and travel that way.

It is hard to pin down a favourite character, as I liked them all and they all had something unique to offer to the story and each other. I can say that I liked that the friendship bonds that formed between the characters across the story were more important than romance, and when there was a hint of romance between two characters, it was not forced or pushed when it didn’t work out. For me, this added an air of realism that I have, in the past, found romance novels do not always have, and the relationship is forced, and feels stifled. This one did not, and the relationship that does eventuate is not the one that is expected, making for a delightful twist.

This is one that I enjoyed, but perhaps won’t read again. It is one I know people will enjoy and look forward to sharing it with people, and passing it onto others who will enjoy it.

Jane Austen Reading Challenge

Jane Austen Reading Challenge 2019.jpg

This year, I am adding another challenge to my list. This one will be more of a casual one, that I will disperse throughout the year. Inspired by a blog called Bunny’s Girl, and her challenge to read six Jane Austen novels and six Jane Austen inspired novels between January and December of 2019, I am hoping to at least read the six novels by Jane Austen and if possible, some inspired by her novels, but with this one, I have decided not to specify a number.

I plan to start with one of Jane Austen’s novels – I haven’t decided yet but I plan to read each of the following six written by Jane Austen herself:

Pride and Prejudice

Emma

Sense and Sensibility

Northanger Abbey

Mansfield Park

Persuasion

Following this, or perhaps in between each one, I plan to read books that have been inspired by Jane Austen’s novels, or non-fiction books about Jane Austen, such as biographies as part of the challenge. I have not decided what all of these will be yet, but here are a few that I hope to look at:

Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster

Jane and Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight

Austenland by Shannon Hale

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

This will be more of a casual challenge that I am aiming for, and won’t stress if I don’t get to some of the books, or can’t find Jane Austen books I am interested in  – of course there will be many choices, but I will be looking for ones I enjoy first and foremost – this may take some of the pressure of, as I won’t be forcing myself into a specific book to check something off, and hopefully these books will also check off some other categories in my other challenges.

I’ll try and post updates here as I go along throughout the year, hopefully once a month.

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.

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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

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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.

Check in #5: Australian Women #60 to #78

AWW-2018-badge-roseIn what is likely my final Check in for 2018 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, I’m making my list a little longer as it did not make sense to make another post for one or two books, given I did this in blocks of fifteen – and am debating whether to do monthly, or blocks of ten for next year to increase my content output. Most books are already out, but the seventy-sixth book is only out in January, and based on challenge rules and discussions with a fellow participant, counts in both years – as the review goes up in 2019. This is one of my wrap up posts for the year – still to come, my overall challenge, my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, my overall reading log and number books read over the past twelve months, and my wrap up post for book bingo, which in theory, should include the intro for next year and that means I need to pick a book to read for the first square I’ll be marking off on the fifth of January, 2019 for book bingo with Theresa and Amanda.

My past check-ins have each had fifteen books – but given how close to the end of the year we are, I did the final seventeen in one post. Over the year, I have read a wide variety of books by Australian Women, but mainly Young Adult, Fantasy, Kids, and Historical Fiction or Crime. Of these books, Graevale, We Three Heroes, Lenny’s Book of Everything and Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls have been amongst my favourites, for various reasons.

Graevaleis the fourth book in the Medoran Chronicles and sees Alex and her friends trying to prevent their visions of the future coming true, now that Aven Dalmarta sits on the Meyarin throne. He is a threat to all Medora, and Alex must find a way to unite all the kingdoms and species. Despite resistance, for the most part, she succeeds. Until it comes to Graevale and the Shadow Walkers – whose indifference to the message she has been delivering around Medora will lead to a series of catastrophic events with devastating consequences.

In the same series, is We Three Heroes – a trio of novellas told from the perspectives of D.C., Bear and Jordan across the series, based around key events that affected them as well as Alex. Chronicling their lives before, and after they met Alex and became the group of friends we love, as they navigate Akarnae and the ups and downs of life as their world heads into a war that they may not be able to win.

Taking quite a different turn, is Lenny’s Book of Everything.  A story about a family, a brother and sister whose lives revolve around building an encyclopedia letter by letter, and a rare genetic disease that makes Lenny’s brother Davey keep growing. With a bittersweet storyline told through Lenny’s eyes about these years and her search for her father and his family, this book will make you laugh and cry in equal amounts and stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Finally, for everyone who always wanted to be the princess but be more than the girl waiting to be rescued – the girl who can take care of herself and where sometimes, the prince changes his fate for her, we have Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls. Filled with four fairy tales where the girl traditionally must wait for the male to come, these tales show Rapunzel, Thumbelina, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood taking charge of their own fate, as inventors and activists, adventurers and scientists within a fairy tale word frame. A wonderful addition to a growing fairy tale collection of traditional and reimagined ones.

The Final Seventeen:

My stats and final comments will appear in my wrap up post in the coming days – but to finish off the year, I am looking forward heading into the 2019 challenge as the YA editor for the AWW blog as well as everything else. This has been a great challenge and I have had some excellent crossover with other challenges, that I hope to continue into next year.

Booktopia