Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer

sisters and brothers.jpgTitle: Sisters and Brothers

Author: Fiona Palmer

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 28th August 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 372

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A poignant novel of heartbreak, adoption and family secrets by beloved bestselling Australian author, Fiona Palmer.

A poignant novel of heartbreak, adoption and family secrets

Emma
, a nurse and busy mother of three, has always dreamed of having a sister.
Michelle, at 46, wonders if it’s too late to fall in love and find her birth parents.
Sarah, career woman and perfectionist homemaker, struggles to keep up with the Joneses.
Bill, 72, feels left behind after the death of his adored wife.
Adam can’t stop thinking about the father he never had.
These five very different people are all connected but separated by secrets from the past. Sisters and Brothers will both break and warm your heart in a way that only bestselling Australian storyteller Fiona Palmer can.

‘Her books are tear-jerkers and page-turners’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Fiona Palmer just keeps getting better’ RACHAEL JOHNS

~*~

AWW-2018-badge-roseSisters and Brothers  by Fiona Palmer explores the intricacies and complexities of family, and what happens when a family grows unexpectedly and has to face a crisis together. Bill, aged seventy-two, has recently lost his wife, and isn’t well – so it falls to his daughter, Sarah, to look after him. Just before his surgery and hospital stay, he discovers another daughter, Emma. At first, Sarah resists her new sister, Emma, yet at the same time, finds comfort in her, and confides in her, allowing her to become part of the family. At the same time, Adam, whose success as a florist and with his new life is taking off, starts to look for his father, and discovers a whole new family along the way.

As Emma, Sarah and Adam find their way to each other, Michelle, who has always wondered about her birth parents, begins to look for them, yet for her, finding a way to be happy is more important as she ventures into new territory with her cake-making business.

The love story in this novel primarily centres around family and the different ways love manifests with siblings, spouses, friends and children, mothers and fathers and everything in between. It explores family dynamics and what it means to find siblings as an adult, and how this can affect you and everyone involved. It is a powerful novel about family love, and the changes that sometimes come later in life to us and our families, and how we deal with them.

With each new revelation, Sarah begins to accept the larger family she had always wanted as a child but never had. When Emma finds out after her father’s accident that Bill is her father, the initial shock wears off after she meets Bill, and eventually Sarah – with whom a bond soon forms, and she helps Sarah with the stresses in her life and overcoming them. Two sisters, who never knew each other, are soon caring for each other, each other’s families and Bill as they each gain something, rather than lose something in the wake of tragedy.

Adam’s discovery of his father and sisters brings a new dynamic – with his partner, they are looking to grow their family with a child, but never expected siblings, nieces, nephews, and the father Adam never knew plus more, whilst Michelle seeks answers to her adoption, keen to find her birth mother and perhaps someone to love.

What I enjoyed about this novel was that it focussed on familial love and friendship in all its variations and inserted a few romantic subplots that evolved from the family-oriented plot line. It is always refreshing to read these kinds of books that acknowledge more than just romantic relationships and place family and friends at the forefront of the plot line. By exploring these relationships, and issues such as adoption, single parenthood and familial conflict, Fiona Palmer has created a story that will hopefully resonate with many people.

Another lovely, moving and poignant offering from Fiona Palmer, published by Hachette Australia.

Fairytales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane

fairytales for feisty girls .jpgTitle: Fairytales for Feisty Girls

Author: Susannah McFarlane

Genre: Fairytales, fantasy, children’s fiction, short stories

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 29th August 2018

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 128

Price: $24.99

Synopsis: Renowned girl hero and feisty author Susannah McFarlane presents an illustrated collection of ’tilted’ fairytales featuring girls with smarts.

Feisty: typically describes one who is relatively small, lively, determined and courageous.

Girls can rescue themselves – just watch Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina create their own happily ever afters in this beautiful and emboldening bedtime book.

A glorious treasury for young girls – and boys – featuring artwork from four leading Australian illustrators: Beth Norling, Claire Robertson, Lucinda Gifford and Sher Rill Ng.

~*~

Fairytales for Feisty Girls is my sixty-second book in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. The author, Susannah McFarlane, has taken four well-known fairytales, turned them on their heads, and given the female characters agency and gusto that in the older versions and many sanitised versions, they do not have. Here, we have Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina all acting for themselves, in active and innovative roles. Rapunzel, forever inventing things, works out how to cut off her own hair, and asks a young man to tie one end around a tree so she can come down on a flying fox, Little Red Riding Hood uses her knowledge of plants and tea to trick the wolf, Cinderella makes her own fortunes, and Thumbelina seeks a family of her own.

These girls do not let anyone stop them, they’re bold, brave and where their counterparts wait for someone to save them, it is refreshing and fun to see these girls do it for themselves whilst embracing a form of femininity that works for them, and where they do not give up who they are for their happy ever after, which is still there, but they make their own happy ever after,  and stick to their convictions and beliefs.

Allowing these girls to explore their identities beyond their name, and beyond what people think of them. They are empowered and show all children – all readers of this book, really, that you can be anything and do anything. So instead of passive Cinderella waiting for the prince, she finds a way to up and leave her step-mother and step-sisters, and create a new life for herself, just as Thumbelina journeys alone to find those like her. I am hoping there will be a second volume with different stories to show readers what they can do if they set their minds to it.

AWW-2018-badge-roseFairy-tales and fairy-tale retellings have been a passion of mine for many years. From the oral traditions to Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, to Disney and all the authors such as Kate Forsyth wo have used fairy tales in their stories, the tradition of the fairy-tale is alive and well. Each retelling reveals something new, a new layer to the story, a new way to see history through the scaffolding of a fairy-tale, or a new way to explore diversity and identity. Each story is empowering and funny, set in a time of magic and wonder, and invention, in a place that is both far away but that could be anywhere.

Each story has been illustrated by a different artist – and yet, they flow seamlessly from one storey to the next in a wonderfully cohesive style that feels as though one person was in charge of the illustrations. They work brilliantly with the short stories that are divided into short chapters, perfect to read with your child or to be read alone.

An excellent book for all ages that defies stereotypes and empowers girls of all ages and backgrounds to be and do what they wish.

Australian Women Writer’s Check-in three: thirty-one to forty-five

AWW-2018-badge-rose

My next fifteen takes me to book 45 of the challenge – The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell. In this set, I read a wide array of fiction – all by authors I had never read before, from contemporary fiction, to historical fiction, literary fiction, and kids’ books that delved into the world of spies, and one of my favourite periods of antiquity, the Minoans and the explosion of Akrotiri on Thera. I read a non-fiction book by Kitty Flanagan, which was more like an extended comedy routine, to mysteries and family legacies.

From World War Two seen through the lens of Jewish refugees in Shanghai, to book illumination in the middle ages, and the melding of various mythologies and histories to create unique characters and voices that stretch out across the decades and centuries to tell stories of war, family, fear and mystery, and the fun of child spies and wildlife adventures.

These next fifteen were recently completed and, the last fifteen will take me to the start of August. Just over half way done for the year, I have read four times what I pledged, and hope to read many more in the months to come, adding to my ever growing list.

Books thirty-one to forty-five

  1. The Jady Lily by Kirsty Manning
  2. The Book of Colours by Robyn Cadwallader
  3. Burning Bridges and Other Hobbies by Kitty Flanagan
  4. Bluebottle by Belinda Castles
  5. The Upside of Over by J.D. Barrett and Interview
  6. P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones
  7. Into the Night by Sarah Bailey
  8. The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady
  9. Ella and Olivia: A Wild Adventure by Yvette Poshoglian
  10. Kensy and Max: Breaking News by Jacqueline Harvey
  11. Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr
  12. We See the Stars by Kate van Hooft.
  13. The Far Back Country by Kate Lyons
  14. Beneath the Mother Tree by D.M. Cameron
  15. The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell

So far I haven’t mentioned favourites on any lists, because there have been so many on the others, but on this one, The Jade Lily, Kensy and Max, Swallow’s Dance and The Peacock Summer are the ones that stood out for me and that I enjoyed the most for various reasons, all stated in my reviews on these books.

The Brink of Darkness by Jeff Giles (Edge of Everything #2)

the brink of darkness.jpgTitle: The Brink of Darkness
Author: Jeff Giles
Genre: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy.
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 1st August 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Price: $16.99
Synopsis: Things have changed for seventeen-year-old Zoe ever since the dramatic events that brought her together with the mysterious X. In order to save Zoe and her family, X did the unthinkable – he traded their freedom in exchange for his captivity in the Lowlands forever.

But being back in the Lowlands has its advantages. It gives X the chance to discover his past, which could be the key to breaking the Lords’ hold on him forever. Little does X know that Zoe has her own plan to reunite with him . . . one that risks her life and brings her perilously close to losing all that she and X are fighting for.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic continuation of Jeff Giles’ series–which already has rave reviews from Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson and New York Times bestselling author James Dashner, among numerous others–will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

~*~

X is back in the Lowlands, after trading the freedom of Zoe’s family to live in captivity forever. In Zoe’s world, she must grapple with the death of neighbours, and living with Rufus, who is involved with her mother, as well as protecting her brother Jonah, and hiding X and his secret from her friends, Val and Dallas. Until the three friends are confronted by an angry hunter, and Ripper comes to their rescue, and the story of X and the Lowlands is revealed. From there, Zoe must find a way to help Ripper on her quest, and rescue X from the Lowlands, as well as maintaining her family’s safety and not revealing the truth to them if she can help it. Over several weeks, Zoe will assist Ripper on her quest, and together with Regent, they will help X find his mother and overthrow Dervish, who has been trying to control the Lowlands. But whether Zoe and X will come out unscathed, will be another piece of the puzzle all together.

This follow up to The Edge of Everything, published in February last year, picks up shortly after the death of Zoe’s neighbours and Z’s condemnation to the Lowlands. This follow up feels more X focussed, where he’s on a quest to try and free himself of the Lowlands, and keep Zoe safe, and also, find out where he came from and who his parents are. Through this journey, Ripper, Regent and Zoe help X, whose life has only ever been the Lowlands, until he met Zoe. Whilst Zoe and X are in love, the drive for X to find out who his mother is drives the narrative more as he searches for a sense of self.

The other important relationships are between Zoe and her brother, Jonah, who is always there for his sister, and Zoe and her friends, Val and Dallas, whose presence in Zoe’s life give her some grounding, yet at the same time, is something she pulls against and tries to resist, especially towards the end. It is slightly darker than the last book, however, not overly.

Much like The Edge of Everything, The Brink of Darkness has light and hope as well as darkness and devastation, tying into the themes of life and death, and love in all its forms that permeate the novel. It is filled with family and friends, conflict and resolution, and the fights that families have and then forget when it looks as though the worst may have happened, but they all come together in the end.

The Brink of Darkness read like it wrapped up everything that happened in both this book and the first book, The Edge of Everything, where everything felt settled and tidy, yet with a fairly open ending to imagine what happens next. Throughout the novel there is a sense of unease or foreboding that something nasty is going to happen, but this adds to the suspense and mystery surrounding Zoe and X. Jonah is adorable, and always optimistic – again, my favourite character in the book. Overall, this was enjoyable to read and those eager to find out what happens will not be disappointed.

Booktopia

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

early riser .jpgTitle: Early Riser

Author: Jasper Fforde

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Adventure/Fantasy

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Hodder & Stoughton

Published: 31st July 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 410

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Jasper Fforde’s first standalone novel – full of the imagination, wit and intelligence that has made Fforde a Number One bestseller.

The new standalone novel from Number 1 bestselling author Jasper Fforde. 

Imagine a world where all humans must hibernate through a brutally cold winter, their bodies dangerously close to death as they enter an ultra-low metabolic state of utterly dreamless sleep. All humans, that is, apart from the Winter Consuls, a group of officers who diligently watch over the vulnerable sleeping citizens.

Charlie Worthing is a novice, chosen by a highflying hero Winter Consul to accompany him to the Douzey, a remote sector in the middle of Wales, to investigate a dream which is somehow spreading amongst those in the hibernational state, causing paranoia, hallucination and a psychotic episode that can end in murder.

Worthing has been trained to deal with Tricksy Nightwalkers whose consciousness has been eroded by hibernation, leaving only one or two skills and an incredible hunger; he’s been trained to stay alive through the bleakest and loneliest of winters – but he is in no way prepared for what awaits him in Sector Twelve. There are no heroes in Winter, Worthing has been told. And he’s about to find out why…

~*~

It has been many years since a Jasper Fforde novel has been released, and of all his books, my two favourite series are the Thursday Next books, and the Nursery Crimes books – both of which I hope get updates soon, so I can find out what happens to my favourite characters. In Early Riser, the first stand-alone novel by Fforde, which is filled with the same satire, the same references to history, popular culture, entertainment and reading, as the Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series his readers have come to know and love. Yet this is a different world to that of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series, set in another alternate United Kingdom, this time in Wales, where humans spend the entire winter hibernating – and where a select few have volunteered to stay awake through winter to ensure everyone makes it through.

Charlie Worthing is one such volunteer. It is his first Winter awake, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time – there is an outbreak of viral dreams that start to kill people, and Charlie must work with the Winter Consul, and contend with the Wintervolk and those infecting the dreams of the hibernating folk and killing them.

This is a sort of dystopian, alternate universe that is quintessentially British, and charmingly so, with the presence of After Eights, Tunnocks Tea Cakes and a tongue-in-cheek humour that I have come to expect and love in Fforde’s works. It is a humour that knowing some of the references, such as his cheeky nods to The Sound of Music, that knowing where they are from helps you appreciate them all the more, and it is so typically Fforde – he manages to get the balance of respect and satire just right, and it suits the book and the character of Charlie so well -one wonders if Charlie has ever crossed paths with the Nursery Crime Division and Thursday Next – books I must read again, and am hoping for continuations of.

The cruelty of Charlie’s first Winter is evident in how the Consul treats him, in the hints at hazing and how different departments perform this – where one might be akin to pranks and drills, Charlie’s hazing is said to be more like making tea and doing laundry – that is, until he is given a promotion to take on heavier duties and investigations into the dream deaths. Fforde cleverly shows how this happens but using subversive and discreet language – nothing is obviously stated, and Charlie is constantly warned about the consequences of falling asleep. Part mystery as well as satire as Charlie investigates what happens, he soon finds himself uncovering secrets about people he thought he knew and finding out things he never thought he would.

Fforde manages to capture something unique about the world, about history and literature, and British culture that is entertaining, informative and amusing. He uses the punching up rule of humour, mixed in with equal delectable dollops of parody and satire to complement the seemingly insane and odd mystery that makes sense in the dystopian alternate universe of Wales that Fforde has created for Charlie to live in, with an ending that is both conclusive and open enough for readers to imagine what happens next. It is a novel that will appeal to Fforde fans and hopefully those who appreciate a tongue in cheek humour and nods to things we’ve all encountered or heard of at some stage, which makes the reading experience richer and more enticing when you can understand these references.

Jasper’s first novel in about four years, Early Riser is the beginning of what will hopefully be a barrage of new books, and updates on our favourite characters and stories. I enjoyed being back in the world of Jasper Fforde and can’t wait for his next offering – which I hope will be soon. In the meantime, I plan to re-read the Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series, that latter of which only has two books at this stage.

Booktopia

Australian Book Industry Awards Longlist 2018

The ABIA Longlist has also been announced today for 2018, and celebrates the diversity and quality of Australian writing, publishing and bookselling. The ABIA Academy – a group of booksellers, agents, media and industry representatives – voted for the longlist, and the 2018 campaign was long and exhaustive, resulting in this year’s academy having 250 members.

A shortlist will be announced of the nineteenth of April, and the winners announced at the ABIA Awards on the 3rd of May, at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The ABIA awards have been sponsored by: The Australian Women’s Weekly, JC Decaux, Media Super, Audible, Opus, Booktopia, Curtis Brown, Ingram, Nielsen Bookscan, Leading Edge Books, Simpsons Solicitors, John Fisher Printing, and industry partners, ABA, ALIA, APA, ASA, BorrowBox, The Copyright Agency, Books + Publishing and the Children’s Book Council.

The award has twelve categories, and below are the long-lists for each category:

BioAbia2018

Biography Book of the Year

  • A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work, Bernadette Brennan (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Danger Music, Eddie Ayres (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, Judith Brett (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Tracker, Alexis Wright (Giramondo Publishing, Giramondo Publishing Company)
  • Unbreakable, Jelena Dokic and Jess Halloran (Ebury Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Unmasked, Turia Pitt (Ebury Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Wednesdays with Bob, Derek Rielly and Bob Hawke (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia,)
  • Working Class Man, Jimmy Barnes (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)

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General Fiction Book of the Year

  • Force of Nature, Jane Harper (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • On the Java Ridge, Jock Serong (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • The Dark Lake, Sarah Bailey (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Girl from Munich, Tania Blanchard (Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Inaugural Meeting Of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club, Sophie Green (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • The Secrets She Keeps, Michael Robotham (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • The Tea Gardens, Fiona McIntosh (Michael Joseph Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Trip of A Lifetime, Monica McInerney (Michael Joseph Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)

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General Non-fiction Book of the Year

  • Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness, Kate Cole-Adams (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Being 14,Madonna King (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • Depends What You Mean By Extremist, John Safran (Hamish Hamilton Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful, Sarah Wilson (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Not Just Lucky, Jamila Rizvi (Viking Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Saga Land, Richard Fidler and Kári Gíslason (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Taming Toxic People, David Gillespie (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Harbour: A City’s Heart, A Country’s Soul, Scott Bevan (Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster, Sarah Krasnostein (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)

ABIA2018_Illustrated

Illustrated Book of the Year

  • Basics to Brilliance Kids, Donna Hay (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Cornersmith: Salads and Pickles, Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler (Murdoch Books, Murdoch Books)
  • Hummus and Co, Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley (Murdoch Books, Murdoch Books)
  • Maggie’s Recipe for Life, Maggie Beer and Professor Ralph Martins (A Julie Gibbs Book for Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Native: Art and Design with Australian Plants, Kate Herd and Jela Ivankovic-Waters (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Ostro, Julia Busuttil Nishimura (Plum, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Paris: Through a Fashion Eye, Megan Hess (Hardie Grant Books, Hardie Grant Publishing)
  • The Vegetable, Caroline Griffiths and Vicki Valsamis (Smith Street Books, Smith Street Books)

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International Book of the Year

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Elena Favilli and Francesa Cavallo (Particular Books -UK Juvenile, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth, Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, Philip Pullman (David Fickling Books, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Mythos, Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph – UK, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Sun and her Flowers, Rupi Kaur (Simon & Schuster UK, Simon & Schuster UK)

LITERARY-FICTION-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-longlist-SQUARE

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

  • A Long Way Home, Peter Carey (Hamish Hamilton Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Australia Day, Melanie Cheng (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • First Person, Richard Flanagan (Knopf Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • Taboo, Kim Scott (Picador Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Choke, Sofie Laguna (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Life to Come, Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Wimmera, Mark Brandi (Hachette, Hachette Australia)

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Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year

  • Atlantic Black, A. S. Patric (Transit Lounge, Transit Lounge)
  • Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture – A New Earth, Charles Massy (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)
  • Cardinal, Louise Milligan (Melbourne University Press, Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Journeys into the Wild: The Photography of Peter Dombrovskis, Introduction & Commentary by Bob Brown (NLA Publishing, National Library of Australia)
  • The Australian Bird Guide, Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin (CSIRO Publishing, CSIRO Publishing)
  • The Restorer, Michael Sala (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Museum of Words, Georgia Blain (Scribe Publications, Scribe Publications)
  • Mirror Sydney, Vanessa Berry (Giramondo Publishing, Giramondo Publishing Company)

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Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year

  • At the Beach I See, Kamsani Bin Salleh (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • At the Zoo I See, Joshua Button and Robyn Wells (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • Big Fella Rain, Beryl Webber and illustrated by Fern Martins (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • Hello, Melbourne!, Megan McKean (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • It’s OK to Feel the Way You Do, Josh Langley (Big Sky Publishing, Big Sky Publishing)
  • The Elephant, Peter Carnavas (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)
  • Slow Down, World, Tai Snaith (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Under the Love Umbrella, Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble Kids’ Books, Scribe Publications)

THE-MATT-RICHELL-AWARD-FOR-NEW-WRITER-OF-THE-YEAR-Simpsons-WIDE-Square

The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year

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Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+)

  • Beautiful Mess, Claire Christian (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Frogkisser!,Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • My Life as a Hashtag, Gabrielle Williams (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Take Three Girls, Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Tales From a Tall Forest, Shaun Micallef and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Silent Invasion, James Bradley (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Untidy Towns, Kate O’Donnell (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)

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Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12)

  • Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase, Peter Helliar and illustrated by Lesley Vamos (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • Funny Kid for President, Matt Stanton (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Maybe, Morris Gleitzman (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Nevermoor, Jessica Townsend (Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia)
  • Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster, Sally Rippin (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Bad Guys Episode 6, Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, Jaclyn Moriarty (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome, Katrina Nannestad (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The 91-Storey Treehouse, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)

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Children’s Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6)

  • Do Not Lick This Book, Idan Ben-Barak and illustrated by Julian Frost (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Florette, Anna Walker (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • I Just Ate My Friend, Heidi McKinnon (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • I’m Australian Too, Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • Mopoke, Philip Bunting (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • Pig the Star, Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • No One Likes a Fart, Zoë Foster Blake (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Bum Book, Kate Mayes and illustrated by Andrew Joyner (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Very Noisy Baby, Alison Lester (Affirm Press, Affirm Press)

Some books have been nominated for several other prxizes, and I would not be surprised if Nevermoor takes out Book of the Year for Younger Children. There are a few on these lists I have read, and several more I am planning on reading. I look forward to future announcements for this prize.

Booktopia

Olmec Obituary by L.J.M. Owen

OLMEC_B_SML.jpegTitle: Olmec Obituary

Author: L.J.M. Owen

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Publisher: Echo

Published: August 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 342

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: Archaeologist Dr Elizabeth Pimms thoroughly enjoys digging up old skeletons.

But when she is called home from Egypt after a family loss, she has to sacrifice her passions for the sake of those around her.

Attempting to settle into her new role as a librarian, while also missing her boyfriend, Elizabeth is distracted from her woes by a new mystery: a royal Olmec cemetery, discovered deep in the Mexican jungle, with a 3000-year-old ballplayer who just might be a woman.

She soon discovers there are more skeletons to deal with than those covered in dirt and dust.

Suitable for readers young and old, Olmec Obituary is the first novel in a delightful cosy crime series: Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.

~*~

AWW-2018-badge-roseElizabeth is having the time of her life in Egypt, delving into tombs, uncovering new secrets, and searching for the women of antiquity amongst all the evidence of male rulers. When family tragedy strikes, Elizabeth is summoned home, and must give up her archaeology career for the stability of one in the National Library of Australia (referred to as the Mahony Griffin Library in the book) and support her family. In pain, and curious as to a fellow librarian’s behaviour towards her, Elizabeth finds herself volunteering to help uncover the secrets of a three-thousand-year-old Olmec cemetery. But all is not what it seems, and there are more than just bone-related secrets to uncover. What is the head of the project, Dr. Carl Schmidt up to, and why? Who is he covering for? And why does Mai hate her so much? Back at home, Elizabeth is grappling with younger siblings and grandparents who need her to work to support them, but also need her to help around the house and be there for them. Between work, and her family, Elizabeth hopes she can solve the mystery of the Olmec women, and prove to the university and library what has really been happening – and perhaps even why.

The first in what I am sure will be a wonderful new cosy crime series with cases so cold, nobody is left to speak for the dead but archaeologists and historians, Olmec Obituary brings a new sleuth to life, who deals in cases so cold, finding a witness would require a time machine. However, without one, Elizabeth settles on solving the crimes and mysteries of the past from the future, using her skills as an archaeologist, and with the help of Alice, a PhD candidate, and friends who study ancient languages, will make discoveries that will alter perceptions and cause Elizabeth to look to her family, and uncover more than just the skeletons at work. Olmec Obituary introduces us to a cast of characters who are unique and diverse, to a family with Welsh, Chinese and French heritage, with a female led cast of characters, with female-centric narratives driving the story, both the story of the Olmec burial and Elizabeth’s story, where she comes up against sexism in her voluntary position, and an unexpected altercation with a library employee she has never met – Mai – and who gives no indication as to why she has decided to hate Elizabeth – something I am intrigued by and look forward to finding out. I was just as surprised as Elizabeth at the instant hatred – it added another mystery to the story as I wondered what the hatred was about. It added a layer to the story and characters that contributed to the mystery.

Not only is the story-line compelling and interesting, Olmec Obituary’s diverse cast of characters, and female-led story brings a new voice to Australian literature in the last few years, offering up something meaty and intriguing for new readers who want their women doing new and interesting things, and seeking diversity. Combined, these work, and Elizabeth’s love life is present too, but already established and not at the forefront of the plot, which makes for exciting reading. As stubborn as she is, Elizabeth still has weaknesses and flaws that she tries to keep guarded and hidden, but it is these flaws that make her an intriguing character to read about.

The genre of cosy mystery, where the murder happens off page, without gratuitous violence and sex is becoming a favourite – and in this genre, all my current favourite authors are Australian women writers, with one being a British male – Vaseem Khan, author of the Baby Ganesh Investigation series. My other favourites which are by Australian women are:

LJM Owen, Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth

Sulari Gentill, The Rowland Sinclair Mysteries – and the series that got me into this genre.

Kerry Greenwood, Phryne Fisher Mysteries

Janine Beacham – Rose Raventhorpe Investigates.

So, in my vast collection, Elizabeth is in good company, and she is an intriguing character, much like Rowly, Rose, Phryne and Inspector Chopra and his baby elephant. Where Rowly has his artist friends, and Phryne has trusty maid Dot, and Rose, the Silvercrest Butlers, and Chopra has a baby elephant, Elizabeth’s companions are her cats, named for Egyptian gods and goddesses, who are there when Elizabeth is working at home, always watching, and always faithful.

This is a great start to what I am sure will be an engaging and educational series. Elizabeth looks to be a character whose secrets will be revealed across the series and watching this happen will be intriguing. I liked the way Olmec Obituary ended with a touch of a mystery to come and be resolved, whilst wrapping up key aspects of the main plot and revealing characters for who they truly are not the facade that they put on for everyone else.

A great read, and I can’t wait to get stuck into book two.

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