The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley

the wild way homeTitle: The Wild Way Home
Author: Sophie Kirtley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Slip
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Published: 15th September 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Price: $14.99
Synopsis: When Charlie’s longed-for brother is born with a serious heart condition, Charlie’s world is turned upside down. Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive. But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It’s become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day. Or is there?

What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost – their courage, their hope, their family and their way home.

Fans of Piers Torday and Stig of the Dump will love this wild, wise and heartfelt debut adventure.

~*~

Every so often, a book comes my way that has an intriguing and mesmerising cover, that invites you to dive in and enter the world within the covers. Sometimes these are books that must be savoured, and other times, the story just pulls you along for the journey, and before you know it, you’ve read the entire thing in one sitting. The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley is one of those books that will fit into both categories – to be savoured, yet also one of those books that can be devoured.

Charlie’s brother Dara is born with a serious heart condition, and Charlie runs, afraid of what is going to happen. He ends up in the forest near his home, yet it is vastly different to what he knows – no path, no access to the road, and a young boy dressed in animal skins is lying near the river. Charlie soon works out he has been transported to the Stone Age. Lost and alone, he helps Harby, the boy he tries to help, find his family and baby sister, facing unknown dangers along the way as he tries to get home to his time and his family.

Sophie Kirtley’s first novel is a historical fiction time slip with a difference – not many time slip books are set in prehistoric times like the Stone Age, and this is what makes it stand out. Where most timeslip books explore the difference in dress or how characters understand the world, this one takes it a step further, throwing in a language barrier – the language of Stone Age people, and the English that Charlie knows in 2020. It presents challenges at first as Charlie and Harby get to know each other and find a way to communicate so they can help each other ‘make safe’, as Harby puts it.

It is an adventure as well, and the world is showcased in a clear and concise way that builds a mental image for the reader – and contrasts the Stone Age of Harby with the 2020 world that Charlie lives in, through Charlie’s comparisons of the two and how he identifies areas – the names he knows them as. It also touches on what they mean to Harby and Charlie – but mostly Charlie as the story is told through his eyes and perspective as he navigates this strange world and his journey home to his family.

At its heart, this book is about family and friendship, and the love of family and friends, and the support we need in hard times. It looks at the fight or flight response in the face of something unbearable and something that cannot be controlled, and the differing responses we have and how far we will go to be with those we love. It is a wonderful, and touching debut that has the power to inspire and comfort – showing that in thousands of years of humanity, the desire to protect one’s family has never really left us. Middle grade readers and above will enjoy this story.

Books and Bites Bingo Update Two

In the past four months, I have managed to fill in twenty out of twenty-five categories in Books and Bites Bingo with Monique Mulligan. I have a few of the others planned, and others I need to decide. I have three months to complete this and my other challenges and hope that I can make it through and get as many as possible read by the thirty-first of December!

It’s been a slow process at times – especially with the specific categories, as finding these books has sometimes been a challenge. Especially during a pandemic when we can’t all get to libraries or bookstores, there are times when I have read what I have and sometimes found ways to make the book fit into my challenges where possible.

Looking forward to reading the others I have, but for now, here are the ones I have completed!

Books and Bites Bingo

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)  

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn            

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

The Good Germans: Resisting the Nazis 1933-1945 by Catrine Clay

Title: The Good Germans: Resisting the Nazis 1933-1945

Author: Catrine Clay

Genre: World War Two History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Hachette/W&N

Published: 8th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 404

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Award-winning historian Catrine Clay tells the gripping stories of six ordinary Germans who witnessed the rise of Nazism in Germany from within, and dared to resist it.

After 1933, as the brutal terror regime took hold, most of the two-thirds of Germans who had never voted for the Nazis – some 20 million people – tried to keep their heads down and protect their families. They moved to the country, or pretended to support the regime to avoid being denounced by neighbours, and tried to work out what was really happening in the Reich, surrounded as they were by Nazi propaganda and fake news. They lived in fear. Might they lose their jobs? Their homes? Their freedom? What would we have done in their place?

Many ordinary Germans found the courage to resist, in the full knowledge that they could be sentenced to indefinite incarceration, torture or outright execution. Catrine Clay argues that it was a much greater number than was ever formally recorded: teachers, lawyers, factory and dock workers, housewives, shopkeepers, church members, trade unionists, army officers, aristocrats, Social Democrats, Socialists and Communists.

Catrine Clay’s ground-breaking book focuses on six very different characters: Irma, the young daughter of Ernst Thalmann, leader of the German Communists; Fritzi von der Schulenburg, a Prussian aristocrat; Rudolf Ditzen, the already famous author Hans Fallada, best known for his novel Alone in Berlin; Bernt Engelmann, a schoolboy living in the suburbs of Dusseldorf; Julius Leber, a charismatic leader of the Social Democrats in the Reichstag; and Fabian von Schlabrendorff, a law student in Berlin. The six are not seen in isolation but as part of their families: a brother and sister; a wife; a father with three children; an only son; the parents of a Communist pioneer daughter. Each experiences the momentous events of Nazi history as they unfold in their own small lives – Good Germans all.

~*~

The Nazi regime of 1933-1945, fuelled by propaganda, and thrust into place by a small number of Germans who voted for them, saw those 20 million people who never voted for Hitler’s party. During the twelve years the Nazis terrorised Germany and Europe, there were many Germans who resisted.

These Germans found ways to resist. They knew the consequences of resisting or helping those the Nazis had deemed enemies, and wanted to rid the country of, but they still resisted, often at great risk to their lives. There were several ways they did this: moved to the country, joined opposing parties and resisted openly that way, and later, acting as go-betweens for people in a party such as the Communist party. Some resisted from within the system – joining up and working with underground resistance movements, as described in The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth, and several of the people in this book.

The six characters explored in this book – Irma Thalmann, Fritzi von der Schulenburg, Bernt Engelmann, Julius Leber and Fabian von Schlabremdorff – each tackle their resistance in a different way, and the Fritzi’s sister, Tisa, also contributes to the resistance.  

There of course, were other resistance groups operating during this time. These groups did good work too. Here are six individuals who took a different tack and looked at what they could do and how. Catrine Clay also weaves the reality and darkness of what the Nazis did, interspersed with these stories, to illustrate what these six and others like them were up against in a realistic and gritty way. Catrine does not shy away from the grittiness of what they faced and the consequences they faced – imprisonment, torture or execution. Not all would survive to the end of the war. Those who did saw the downfall of the man and regime they had been fighting against for twelve years, proving that resistance in all its forms will eventually have its cumulative effect.

Resisting the Nazi’s was hard – but not impossible. The power in this book was in the way it explored how people resisted, and what they did, and how this impacted their families and lives. Tisa is one resistance fighter whose family, for the most part, were Nazis. Living a reality like this must have been fraught, and there would have been many tensions, but people like Tisa stood their ground, and in the end, that is what counted. This is a book that needs to be read, and is one that is powerful in its historical context, and a contemporary context.

I received this book for review, and whilst it wasn’t one I requested, these sorts of stories are always very interesting, because they’re layered and nuanced, and take what at the surface might be presented as a simplistic good versus bad story at times, and shows that there was perhaps more resistance than we might realise sometimes. It is not easy reading. It is one that does require breaks at times, to process what you’ve just read, and is one that is worth pursuing with. It took me a little longer than most books this size, but it was one that showed that there is more to this period of history than some books let on and opens a narrative that says resistance is effective. It does work. Cumulatively, this resistance and the wider war contributed to the defeat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. We find out how the war wraps up, and the division of Germany into the British, French, American and Russian zones – but we do not know where the surviving resistance fighters ended up.

Catrine used documents and stories from the families of these six resistance fighters to put together this book and has managed to sensitively tell their stories. She’s made them human and flawed but shown their great strength in this fight. This is a must read for anyone interested in World War Two history in all its forms.

I learned many things from this book, but the most important was the importance of resistance and standing up for what you believe in, and finding a way, however small, to stand up against people like Hitler and the regimes that create havoc and pain. A worthy read, but also one that needs time to digest.

The Wolves of Greycoat Hall by Lucinda Gifford

the-wolves-of-greycoat-hallTitle: The Wolves of Greycoat Hall

Author: Lucinda Gifford

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Published: 2nd September 2020

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 224

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: A deliciously funny tale, with equally amusing illustrations, about being judged for what, rather than who, you are.

When Boris and his parents learn that Scotland is re-introducing wolves, they leave their mansion in Morovia for their Scottish homeland. But these wolves aren’t planning to settle in the wild, oh no! Instead, they book into the exclusive Highland Hotel, from where they plan to enjoy Scotland’s best tourist spots and cuisine. But is Scotland ready for holidaying wolves? Especially such hungry ones? And why are certain people so unhappy to see them? From spooky dungeons to scheming developers, the Greycoats’ new adventure is full of surprising discoveries.

  • A deliciously funny tale, packed with amusing illustrations, about being judged for what, rather than who you are.
  • The lively, heavily-illustrated text will appeal to fans of Alex T. Smith (Claude series) and Chris Riddell – making this a must-read junior fiction novel, with engaging pictures and jokes for all ages.
  • Important theme: At its heart, this is a story about our very refined wolves being judged for what they are, rather than who they are.

~*~

What happens when Scotland decides they want to reintroduce wolves? The Greycoats of Morovia find out and they plan to head off on a new adventure, where they will make new friends and where the humans of Portlessie  welcome the wolves amidst a fight against a developer, who wants to turn a local castle into an exclusive resort, cutting the residents off from their beloved beach.

AWW2020

Boris and his parents, Leonora and Randall, soon find themselves embroiled in a fight for Drommuir Castle, and a fight to be accepted. Some people in Scotland barely bat an eyelid at the presence of the Greycoat family, in a delightful reminiscence of Paddington Bear, whose presence as a bear in London is delightfully accepted and never questioned as well. There are those determined though, to see the wolves driven from Portlessie, especially when Boris starts digging around in the history of the town and castle, both of which are linked to his family.

The story is lavishly illustrated by Lucinda, whose words and images work together in an energetic and immersive way, pulling readers into the story and into Scotland, a world of thistle and tartan, bannocks and Scottish tablet.

Boris and his family face discrimination on their trip to Scotland, and this forms the crux of the novel. It is a story about acceptance, and not judging based on one’s appearance, but the content of character, and accepting people for who they are and how they identify, especially geared towards readers aged seven and older.  It is a powerful story about community, and pulling together to resolve conflict, and find a way to defeat the big wigs who are always trying to take advantage of the society and destroy what is most precious to them.

This story appealed to me because of its setting first, and the idea of wolves s the characters, which made it unique. History-loving Boris shows children that being true to yourself, being a good person and standing up for what you believe in are all very powerful characteristics to have. He also makes history cool, and I am currently loving this wave of characters who are promoting a love of words, books and history, rather than making these characters seem like they must change to suit popular ideas.

The Wolves of Greycoat Hall is a delightful novel that works exquisitely as a stand-alone novel and brings wolves and Scotland to life in an imaginative and beautiful way that allows readers to immerse themselves in a world that is real and fantastical at the same time. Confident readers will enjoy this book, and the ending will leave you wanting more from the Greycoats and their adventures.

 

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

cov-daughterofvictorylights-final_2_origTitle: The Daughter of Victory Lights

Author: Kerri Turner

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 20th January 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 384

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: An enthralling story of one woman’s determined grab for freedom after WW2 from a talented new Australian voice.

‘PART CABARET, PART BURLESQUE, AND LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE! GENTLEMEN, AND LADIES IF YOU’VE DARED TO COME, WELCOME TO …

THE VICTORY!’

1945: After the thrill and danger of volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment protecting Londoners from German bombers overhead, Evelyn Bell is secretly dismayed to be sent back to her rigid domestic life when the war is over. But then she comes across a secret night-time show, hidden from the law on a boat in the middle of the Thames. Entranced by the risqué and lively performance, she grabs the opportunity to join the misfit crew and escape her dreary future.

At first the Victory travels from port to port to raucous applause, but as the shows get bigger and bigger, so too do the risks the performers are driven to take, as well as the growing emotional complications among the crew. Until one desperate night …

1963: Lucy, an unloved and unwanted little girl, is rescued by a mysterious stranger who says he knows her mother. On the Isle of Wight, Lucy is welcomed into an eclectic family of ex-performers. She is showered with kindness and love, but gradually it becomes clear that there are secrets they refuse to share. Who is Evelyn Bell?

~*~

World War Two. Evelyn Bell volunteers for an all-female searchlight regiment during the Blitz, much to her sister, Cynthia’s chagrin. Once the war ends, she is lost, and for several years she is trapped in her sister’s home. She’s forced to take care of things there, and help with her nephew, Spencer, whom she loves. Her sister is traditional, but Evelyn longs for something more. When she stumbles upon a secret dance show at night, she knows she has found a way to break free and forge her own path, and her own identity away from what everyone around her expects her to do. Here, aboard the Victory, she finds her place, and she finds family, friendship and love, as well as tragedy.

AWW2020In 1963, ten-year-old Lucy is living with her aunt, unwanted and unloved, when she is whisked away to the Isle of Wight. Here, she finds a home where she is loved and accepted, but where she still has many unanswered questions. Will her new family answer them?

I interviewed Kerri at the end of April as part of my Isolation Publicity series, and as a thank you, she sent me a signed copy of her latest book, The Daughter of Victory Lights. Four months later, I have managed to get to this after managing to get on top of my very large review stack that kept coming for so long, and that will no doubt start to pile up again. This book is set partly in World War Two, but mostly during the post-war years of the early fifties and the early sixties.

Evie’s story is exceptional. She led a life of freedom and danger during the war, and going back has not been an easy adjustment for her, and nor were the years aboard the Victory, yet she was accepted in this place, as was her daughter, Lucy, whose life informs the second half of the novel. Drawing on imagination and various historical accounts and instances, Kerri has created an evocative and emotionally charged book that celebrates uniqueness, family, and the idea that family is what we make of it, not always those we are related to. It also examines the idea that sometimes, the two are intertwined, often in unique and unexpected ways.

Double narratives like this are always intriguing, and often, they alternate between the different time periods as the future character uncovers information about their relative in the past. Yet that wouldn’t have worked with this one. Evelyn’s story needed to be told in one go, as did Lucy’s, to grasp the tragedy and heroism, and inner strength of these characters and their lives. Lucy’s story was equally important and gave the novel its emotional pull and the strength of familial love and support that as a reader, I wished Evelyn had received from her family.

It is at times turbulent and there are moments filled with worry, hoping the worst won’t happen, followed by revelations that are bittersweet and hopeful. Lucy is a strong character and determined not to let anyone continue to lie to her as her aunts have done. I devoured this book within two days, engaging with the characters and their struggles.

The power in this story is in the family relationships, and the role certain people play in our lives, whether they are biologically related or not. It is tragic and hopeful, and a testament to the power of the human spirit and our ability to recover physically, mentally and emotionally after experiencing trauma, and the lengths we will go to so we can pull through.

 

July 2020 Wrap Up

In July, I read twenty-two books, and have managed to complete my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge – which I am still going with, and my Book Bingo Challenge. All those posts are written and scheduled, as are several others for reviews and my isolation publicity series, which ends on the twenty-first of this month. I’ve been doing a lot of reading since lockdown and restrictions began, and it has allowed me to get on top of my review list finally. Below are my July numbers and reviews.

 

The Modern Mrs Darcy 11/12

AWW2020 – 78/25

Book Bingo – 12/12

The Nerd Daily Challenge 47/52

Dymocks Reading Challenge 23/25

Books and Bites Bingo 19/25

STFU Reading Challenge: 10/12

General Goal –130/165

July – 22

Book Author Challenge
Finding Eadie Caroline Beecham Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Emma Jane Austen Reading Challenge, Book Bingo, Dymocks Reading Challenge
Beyond Belief

 

Dee White Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Evie and Pog: Party Perfect Tania McCartney Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Wild Way Home Sophie Kirtley Reading Challenge
The Schoolmaster’s Daughter Jackie French Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear Jess Black Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Kitty is Not a Cat: Light’s Out Jess Black Reading Challenge, AWW2020
A Clue for Clara Lian Tanner AWWW2020, Reading Challenge
Starfell: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale Dominique Valente Reading Challenge
What Zola did on Tuesday Melina Marchetta Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Battle of Book Week Kate and Jol Temple AWW2020, Reading Challenge
Monty’s Island: Beady Hold and the Yum-Yams Emily Rodda AWW2020, Reading Challenge
The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum James Gardner Reading Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo,
The Adventures of Princess Peony Nette Hilton and Lucinda Gifford AWW2020, Reading Challenge
Ella at Eden: The Secret Journal Laura Sieveking AWW2020, Reading Challenge
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser 

 

Kate Bailey Reading Challenge
Toffle Towers: The Great River Race Tim Harris and James Foley Reading Challenge

 

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome Katrina Nannestad AWW2020, Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily, Books and Bites Bingo
Toffle Towers: Order in the Court Tim Harris and James Foley Reading Challenge
The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: A Treasure of poems for young people Compiled by Libby Hathorn Reading Challenge, STFU Reading Challenge
Max Booth, Future Sleuth: Chip Blip Cameron Macintosh and Dave Atze Reading Challenge
 

Reading Log

 

  1. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award
  2. Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  3. Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell
  4. Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
  5. The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam
  6. Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  7. The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  8. Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  9. The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah by Troy Cummins
  10. The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)
  12. Shark Out of Water by Ace Landers
  13. A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
  14. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  15. The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  16. Dragon Masters: Future of the Time Dragon by Tracey West
  17. The Killing Streets: Uncovering Australia’s First Serial Murderer by Tanya Bretherton
  18. Dolphin Island: A Daring Rescue by Catherine Hapka
  19. The River Home by Hannah Richell
  20. The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  21. Radio National Fictions (various short stories on ABC Listen App)
  22. Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell
  23. Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
  24. Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James (House of Heroes)
  25. The Story Puppy by Holly Webb
  26. Trails of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  27. The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
  28. The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter
  29. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
  30. Captain Marvel Hero Storybook by Steve Behling
  31. Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  32. Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  33. The Last Firehawk: The Cloud Kingdom by Katrina Charman
  34. Christmas in Paris (Miss Lily 3.5) by Jackie French
  35. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley
  36. The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  37. Museum Kittens: The Midnight Visitor by Holly Webb
  38. Firewatcher Chronicles: Phoenix by Kelly Gardiner
  39. The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning
  40. The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn
  41. Ninjago: Back in Action by Tracey West
  42. Layla and the Bots: Happy Paws by Vicky Fang
  43. Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt
  44. Daring Delly: Going for Gold by Matthew Dellavedova and Zanni Louise
  45. Aussie Kids: Meet Katie at the Beach by Rebecca Johnson and Lucia Masciullo
  46. Aussie Kids: Meet Eve in the Outback by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair
  47. The Besties Make A Splash by Felice Arena and Tom Jellett
  48. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling/Newt Scamander
  49. Liberation by Imogen Kealey
  50. The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks
  51. The Deceptions by Suzanne Leal
  52. Puppy Diary: The Great Toy Rescue by Yvette Poshoglian
  53. The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle
  54. Friday Barnes: Big Trouble by R.A. Spratt
  55. The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski
  56. The Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates
  57. Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore
  58. Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  59. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  60. The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley
  61. The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke
  62. Friday Barnes: No Rules by R.A. Spratt
  63. Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice-Ross King by Kate Simpson and Jess Racklyeft
  64. Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renée Treml
  65. Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  66. Ribbit Rabbit Robot by Victoria MacKinlay and Sofya Karmazina
  67. Nim at Sea by Wendy Orr
  68. Rescue on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  69. The Complete Adventures on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  70. The Monstrous Devices by Damien Love
  71. An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip
  72. Daisy Runs Wild by Caz Goodwin and Ashley King
  73. Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley
  74. Her Perilous Mansion by Sean Williams
  75. What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson
  76. Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes) by Petra Hunt
  77. The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore
  78. Edie’s Experiments: How to Make Friends by Charlotte Barkla
  79. Alice-Miranda at School (10th anniversary edition) by Jacqueline Harvey
  80. Alice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey
  81. The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai
  82. Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman
  83. Orla and the Serpent’s Curse by C.J. Halsam
  84. A Treacherous Country by K.M. Kruimink
  85. Elephant Me by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  86. Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian
  87. Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  88. Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble
  89. On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick
  90. Elementals: Battle Born by Amie Kaufman
  91. Lilies, Lies and Love (Miss Lily #4) by Jackie French
  92. Kid Normal and the Final Five by Greg James and Chris Smith
  93. Toffle Towers: Fully Booked by Tim Harris and James Foley
  94. Monty’s Island: Scary Mary and the Stripey Spell by Emily Rodda and Lucinda Gifford
  95. Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell
  96. When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin
  97. League of Llamas: Undercover Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  98. League of Llamas: Rogue Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  99. Kensy and Max: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey
  100. The Silk House by Kayte Nunn
  1. The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby and Nellé May Pierce
  2. Roxy and Jones: The Great Fairy Tale Cover Up by Angela Woolfe
  3. Alexandra-Rose and Her Icy Cold Toes by Monique Mulligan and Kat Fox (Illustrator)
  4. Meet Mia by the Jetty by Janeen Brian and Danny Snell
  5. Meet Sam at the Mangrove Creek by Paul Seden and Brenton McKenna
  6. Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup
  7. Edie’s Experiments: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla
  8. Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham
  9. Emma by Jane Auste
  10. Beyond Belief by Dee White
  1. Evie and Pog: Party Perfect by Tania McCartney
  2. The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
  3. The Schoolmaster’s Daughter by Jackie French
  4. Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear by Jess Black
  5. Kitty is Not a Cat: Lights Out by Jess Black
  6. A Clue for Clara by Lian Tanner
  7. Starfell: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale by Dominique Valente
  8. What Zola did on Tuesday by Melina Marchetta
  9. The Battle of Book Week (Yours Troolie, Alice Toolie) by Kate and Jol Temple
  1. Monty’s Island: Beady Hold and the Yum-Yams by Emily Rodda
  2. The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum by James Gardner
  3. The Adventures of Princess Peony by Nette Hilton and Lucinda Gifford
  4. Ella at Eden: The Secret Journal by Laura Sieveking
  5. Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser by Kate Bailey
  6. Toffle Towers: The Great River Race by Tim Harris and James Foley
  1. The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
  2. Toffle Towers: Order in the Court by Tim Harris
  3. The ABC Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Libby Hathorn
  1. Max Booth, Future Sleuth: Chip Blip by Cameron Macintosh and Dave Atze
  2. Lapse by Sarah Thornton
  3. A Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

Books and Bites Bingo

 

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

 

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

 

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go:

 

Eco-themes: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

A Neil Gaiman book:

Short story collection: Radio National Fictions (various short stories on ABC Listen app

Published the year you were born:

Makes you blush: The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad

 

 

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

 

Scary: The Monstrous Devices by Damien Love

Someone you love’s fave book:

Made into a TV Series:

A title longer than five words: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam

Fave childhood book:

 

STFU Reading Society #AustLit Reading Challenge

  1. Found on #BookstagramAustralia

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

  1. An Australian classic
  1. A book by an Indigenous Australian author

Meet Sam by the Mangrove Creek by Paul Seden and Brenton McKenna

  1. A book about climate change [cli-fi or non-fiction] 

Fiction: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte, The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai

Non-Fiction:

  1. A book by an LGBTQ+ Australian author

Firewatcher Chronicles: Phoenix by Kelly Gardiner

  1. A #LoveOzYA book

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

  1. A memoir by an Australian woman

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

  1. A poetry collection

The ABC Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Libby Hathorn

 

 

  1. A 2020 Finalist for a State Premier’s Literary Prize

* Note: Not all states have a Premier’s Literary Prize / some are awarded biennially rather than yearly, so are not running in 2020.

* New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards – Shortlist announced March 2020 / Winners announced 27 April 2020 –

The Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature – Shortlist out now / Winners announced 29 February 2020 –

Victorian Premier’s Literary Award – Shortlist out now / Winners announced 30 January 2020 –

Bonus: Read a finalist [shortlisted book] from each of the State Premier’s prizes

  1. A Book by a Territorian author – NT or ACT

Bonus: Read both an NT and ACT author

ACT: On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick

NT: An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip, Between Us by Claire Atkins

  1. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr (21st anniversary edition)

  1. A book from across the ditch – A book by a New Zealand author 

Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

THE MODERN MRS. DARCY

2020 Reading Challenge

a book published the decade you were born:

a debut novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)

a book recommended by a source you trust: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Amanda Barrett

a book by a local author: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim – literary fiction

a book in translation: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting

a book nominated for an award in 2020: Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renée Treml (Nominated for the 2020 Readings Children’s Prize)

a re-read:  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

a classic you didn’t read in school: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

three books by the same author:

  1. Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  2. Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt
  3. Friday Barnes: Big Trouble by R.A. Spratt

The Nerd Daily 2020 Challenge

  1. Author Starting with A: Shark Out of Water by Ace Landers
  2. Female Author: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  3. Purchased on Holidays: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell
  4. 2020 Film Adaptation: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  5. Fantasy or SciFi: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)
  6. Recommended by Us: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  7. Under 200 pages: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  8. Six Word Title: The Binder of Doom: Speedah Cheetah by Troy Cummins, Death at the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
  9. Written by two authors: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  10. Mystery/thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
  11. Green Cover: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  12. Recommended by a friend: Any Ordinary Day be Leigh Sales
  13. Set in the past: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  14. 2019 Goodreads Choice Winner:
  15. A book you never finished: The Louvre by James Gardiner (Never finished in time to review for release date, managed to finish after)
  16. Protagonist starting with H: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally, Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James (House of Heroes)
  17. Reread: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  18. Non-fiction: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam
  19. Released in February: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking, The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah by Troy Cummins
  20. Part of a duology: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley
  21. New York times best seller:
  22. Recommended by family:
  23. Over 500 pages:
  24. An award-winning book: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award 2019
  25. Orange cover: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  26. Bookstore recommended: The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
  27. A number in the title: Alice-Miranda at School (10th Anniversary Edition) by Jacqueline Harvey
  28. An audiobook: Radio National Fictions (various short stories)
  29. Debut author: The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  30. Inspired my mythology/folklore: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr,
  31. A retelling: Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  32. A one-word title: Liberation by Imogen Kealey
  33. Bought based on cover: Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  34. Author that starts with M: What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson
  35. Start a new series: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  36. A book released in 2019: The Last Firehawk: The Cloud Kingdom by Katrina Charman
  37. Male author: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
  38. 2020 TV Adaptation:
  39. A book gifted to you: Captain Marvel Hero Storybook by Steve Behling
  40. Author with a hyphenated name: Elephant Me by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  41. Released in September: The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
  42. Purchased years ago:
  43. A standalone: The River Home by Hannah Richell
  44. Author with the same initials:
  45. Told from two perspectives: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  46. Romance or thriller: Liberation by Imogen Kealey, The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  47. A protagonist starting with S: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell (Stella Montgomery)
  48. Two-word title: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr, Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  49. Set in a foreign country: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn, The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  50. Animal featured in cover: Dolphin Island: A Daring Rescue by Catherine Hapka
  51. Written by your favourite author: The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  52. Based or inspired by a true story: Museum Kittens: The Midnight Visitor by Holly Webb, The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning

Dymocks Reading Challenge

  1. A book by an Australian author: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell
  2. A book by an Indigenous author: On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick, Meet Sam by the Mangrove Creek by Paul Seden and Brenton McKenna
  3. A book from our Top 101:
  4. A book from our Kids’ Top 51: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell, Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  5. A Dymocks ‘Book of the Month’:
  6. Re-read your favourite book of all time: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  7. Ask a friend for a recommendation: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales
  8. A book featuring your favourite country: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Ireland)
  9. A book from your TBR pile: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  10. An award-winning book: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr – CBCA Honour Book, Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2017 – WINNER: 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Children’s Fiction
    WINNER: 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, Children’s Literature
    HONOUR BOOK: CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers, 2017
  11. A Mystery/Thriller: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One), A Testament of Character by Sulari Gentill
  12. A memoir:
  13. A book outside your usual genre: The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  14. A book of short stories: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  15. A self-help/motivation: Elephant Me by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  16. A fairytale/fable adaptation: Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  17. Book one in a fantasy series: Trials of Apollo – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  18. A book that teaches you something new: The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  19. A book with a red cover: Elementals: Battle Born by Amie Kaufman
  20. A book with a colour in the title: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  21. A book you can read in a day: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell, Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  22. A book about books: Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  23. A book that made you laugh: Puppy Diary: The Great Toy Rescue by Yvette Poshoglian, The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore
  24. A book published this year: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam, The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  25. A book you said you’ve read but haven’t: Emma by Jane Austen

Australian Women Writers Challenge – 25

 

  1. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award
  2. Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell
  3. Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
  4. Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn
  5. The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)
  6. Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
  7. A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
  8. The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
  9. The Killing Streets: Uncovering Australia’s First Serial Murderer by Tanya Bretherton
  10. The River Home by Hannah Richell
  11. The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  12. Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue) by Judith Rossell
  13. Hapless Hero Henrie by Petra James (House of Heroes)
  14. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
  15. Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster
  16. Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
  17. Christmas in Paris (Miss Lily 3.5) by Jackie French
  18. The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
  19. Firewatcher Chronicles: Phoenix by Kelly Gardiner
  20. The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning
  21. The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn
  22. Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt
  23. Aussie Kids: Meet Katie at the Beach by Rebecca Johnson and Lucia Masciullo
  24. Aussie Kids: Meet Eve in the Outback by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair
  25. The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks
  26. The Deceptions by Suzanne Leal
  27. Puppy Diary: The Great Toy Rescue by Yvette Poshoglian
  28. The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle
  29. Friday Barnes: Big Trouble by R.A. Spratt
  30. The Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates
  31. Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore
  32. Jane in Love by Rachel Givney
  33. Friday Barnes: No Rules by R.A. Spratt
  34. Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice Ross-King by Kate Simpson and Jess Racklyeft
  35. Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renée Treml (Nominated for the 2020 Readings Children’s Prize)
  36. Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  37. Ribbit Rabbit Robot by Victoria MacKinlay and Sofya Karmazina
  38. Nim at Sea by Wendy Orr
  39. Rescue on Nim’s Island
  40. The Complete Adventures on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  41. An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip
  42. Daisy Runs Wild by Caz Goodwin and Ashley King
  43. Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley
  44. What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta and illustrated by Deb Hudson
  45. Henrie’s Hero Hunt (House of Heroes) by Petra Hunt
  46. The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore
  47. Edie’s Experiments: How to Make Friends by Charlotte Barkla
  48. Alice-Miranda at School (10th Anniversary Edition) by Jacqueline Harvey
  49. Alice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey
  50. Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman
  51. Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian
  52. A Treacherous Country by K.M. Kruimink
  53. Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington
  54. Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble
  55. Elementals: Battle Born by Amie Kaufman
  56. Lilies, Lies and Love (Miss Lily #4) Lilies by Jackie French
  57. Monty’s Island: Scary Mary and the Stripey Spell by Emily Rodda and Lucinda Gifford
  58. When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin
  59. League of Llamas: Undercover Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  60. League of Llamas: Rogue Llama by Aleesah Darlison
  61. Kensy and Max: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey
  62. The Silk House by Kayte Nunn
  63. The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby and Nellé May Pierce
  64. Alexandra-Rose and Her Icy Cold Toes by Monique Mulligan and Kate Fox (Illustrator)
  65. Meet Mia by the Jetty by Janeen Brian and Danny Snell
  66. Edie’s Experiments: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla
  67. Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham
  68. Beyond Belief by Dee White
  69. Evie and Pog: Party Perfect by Tania McCartney
  70. The Schoolmaster’s Daughter by Jackie French
  71. Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear by Jess Black
  72. Kitty is Not a Cat: Light’s Out by Jess Black
  73. A Clue for Clara by Lian Tanner
  74. What Zola did on Tuesday by Melina Marchetta
  75. The Battle of Book Week (Yours Troolie, Alice Toolie) by Kate and Jol Temple
  76. Monty’s Island: Beady Hold and the Yum-Yams by Emily Rodda
  77. The Adventures of Princess Peony by Nette Hilton and Lucinda Gifford
  78. Ella at Eden: The Secret Journal by Laura Sieveking
  79. The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
  80. Lapse by Sarah Thornton
  81. A Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

 

Book Bingo – BINGO

 

Themes of culture – The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller

Themes of inequality – The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam

Themes of Crime and Justice – A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Themes of politics and power – The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

About the environment – The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai

Prize winning book – Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales – Walkley Book Award

Friendship, family and love – Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Coming of age – Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking

Set in a time of war – The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

Set in a place you dream of visiting – The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Ireland)

Set in an era you’d love to travel back in time to – Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr (Minoan Times)

A classic you’ve never read before – Emma by Jane Austen

 

 

 

Books and Bites Bingo That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

books and bites game card

When it came to a book I keep putting off, it was hard. I usually don’t put a book off for the reasons many people do – it’s something they don’t want to explore yet, or something they’re being forced to read. For me, it came down to one that I had to put off because at the time, I had lots to get through for certain release dates, and this book came after the book itself was released. I often put books that arrive after release date off, unless it is for a blog tour. It helps me manage my schedule to work this way and ensures that I get through everything and get things done in time.

 

the louvre

The book that I chose for this category was The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum by James Gardner. When it arrived, I had lots to get through. Several books had arrived after release date, and I had many that were being released on the same day. As a result, I was trying to get through everything before it piled up too much. This was a fascinating exploration of the history of the Louvre – which started as a fortress, and evolved into a palace, and finally, the museum we know today, and was added to by a succession of French rulers and governments. Today it combines ancient and modern aspects for visitors and focuses on all aspects. It is dense and intricate – and has so much information, it is hard to condense it all here. If you’re interested in history, art, and architecture, it is a fascinating read.

The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum by James Gardner

Title: The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum

Author: James Gardnerthe louvre

Genre: Non-fiction, History

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 2nd July 2020

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 416

Price: $39.99

Synopsis: A meticulously crafted, sparkling history of the legendary museum in Paris.

Almost nine million people from all over the world flock to the Louvre in Paris every year to see its incomparable art collection. Yet few, if any, are aware of the remarkable history of that location and of the buildings themselves, and how they chronicle the history of Paris itself – a fascinating story that historian James Gardner elegantly tells for the first time.

Before the Louvre was a museum, it was a palace, and before that a fortress. But much earlier still, it was a place called le Louvre for reasons unknown. People had inhabited that spot for more than 6,000 years before King Philippe Auguste of France constructed a fortress there in 1191 to protect against English soldiers stationed in Normandy. Two centuries later, Charles V converted the fortress to one of his numerous royal palaces. After Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles in 1682, the Louvre inherited the royal art collection, which then included the Mona Lisa, given to Francis by Leonardo da Vinci; just over a century later, during the French Revolution, the National Assembly established the Louvre as a museum to display the nation’s treasures. Subsequent leaders of France, from Napoleon to Napoleon III to Francois Mitterand, put their stamp on the museum, expanding it into the extraordinary institution it has become.

With expert detail and keen admiration, James Gardner links the Louvre’s past to its glorious present, and vibrantly portrays how it has been a witness to French history – through the Napoleonic era, the Commune, two World Wars, to this day – and home to a legendary collection whose diverse origins and back stories create a spectacular narrative that rivals the building’s legendary stature.

~*~

Today we know The Louvre in Paris as a museum, the home of great artworks such as the Mona Lisa, yet its history is far more complex than that, and begin as a fortress, and moving through the Renaissance, the Revolution and the Napoleonic Age, shifts from the fortress to a lavish palace that is added to over several hundred years by each leader, until it became the museum that millions flock to today.

Prior to the building, it was a place known as le Louvre – inhabited for over 6,000 years – until King Phillipe Auguste built a fortress in 1191. James Gardner explores this history in detail, exploring the different stages of the Louvre, when they were built, why they were built and who instigated the designs and buildings, all the way up to modernity, and the evacuation of the treasures of the Louvre during the war years – a plan set in motion long before the war started as the growing presence of the Nazis converged on, and threatened Europe. These accounts are intriguing and chilling – they evoke a sense of what the Louvre has seen and experienced over the years, a sense of history that is perhaps not always considered when people visit or think about the Louvre.

Nine hundred years of French history is explored here – giving life to the museum and city – and the role that the Louvre plays in the life and history of Paris, now and throughout history. It is only a fraction of Parisian and French history, but it is a part of the history that has perhaps had great influence on Paris and France, and influenced what people see in the city and museum.

Most people attend the Louvre to see certain things or because it is a popular tourist attraction – that is the face and the surface of the Louvre. Dig a bit deeper, and you will see that is has lived a rich and deep life. A life that is complex and troubled, but also extravagant and lavish – many lives that have contributed to what it has become today and what it is now known as.

The history is as interesting as the museum. This book is dense and detailed, yet it is accessible to those who wish to know more, and uses images of the museum and the collections to tell the story alongside the words – this works well as it allows the two mediums to work together and evoke a sense of what the Louvre is, what it was and what it may become in the future.

I took time to read this book, getting to know the Louvre and all its history – it is detailed and accessible, and shows that the history behind what we know is often times more complex than what we may know or what we are told – that there is often more below the surface than what we are shown or told about something. We can apply this to many things – too many to list here but the impact will always be the same. History is always more detailed and more complex than some sources lead us to believe, and being open to what has been hidden, or simply not told, or in the case of the Louvre, not widely known, is something that historians should be open to.

An intriguing read and one that history buffs and art lovers will find fascinating.

 

Beyond Belief by Dee White

beyond-beliefTitle: Beyond Belief
Author: Dee White
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st April 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 264
Price: $17.99
Synopsis: Inspired by the true story of Muslims who saved the lives of Jewish children in the Second World War.

In 1942, in the Grand Mosque in Paris, 11-year-old Ruben is hiding from the Nazis. Already thousands of Jewish children have disappeared, and Ruben’s parents are desperately trying to find his sister. Ruben must learn how to pass himself off as a Muslim, while he waits for the infamous Fox to help him get to Spain to be reunited with his family. One hint of Rubens true identity and he will be killed. So will the people trying to save him.

But when the mosque is raided and the Fox doesn’t come, Ruben is forced to flee. Finding himself in the south of France, he discovers that he must adjust to a new reality, and to the startling revelation of the Fox’s true identity.

~*~

Most Holocaust stories revolve around the camps, or the Jewish ghettoes and areas of Europe invaded by the Nazis. Whilst some stories tell of people who flouted Nazi rules to hide Jews, there are other stories not told. Dee White has sensitively and evocatively told one of these stories in Beyond Belief with careful research, and interaction with Holocaust survivors, Muslims who knew the history explored in the novel, and sensitivity readers.

In 1942, the Grand Mosque in Paris is more than just a mosque – it is a safe haven for Jewish children, hidden from the Nazis as they wait to be reunited with their families, saved from the horrors of the camps – known people at the time, but the true horrors and events were not something they knew about, at least Ruben, Daan, Amra and the other characters. They know they are separated from their families and do not know when they will be reunited.

It is both hopeful and filled with the harsh realities of the war and the Holocaust. Paris is held by the Nazis, who make their presence known, storming into the mosque and searching for Jewish children. The Imam protected them, up until the mosque is raided and Hana, Momo, her brother, and Ruben make a dash for their lives with Evette and Fida, and run into people they never thought they’d see again and set out on a journey that will reveal who the Fox is…and unite them as family.

AWW2020Learning these stories enriches our understanding of the history we know, and the history we do not know. Until I read this book, I knew nothing of the role mosques and Muslims, in particular the Grand Mosque in Paris had in hiding and helping Jewish children survive the Holocaust. It is an important story, as it shows the humanity in the world, and teaches us that whilst Judaism, Christianity and Islam are separate religions – yet they worship the same God, and this is what Ruben learns in the mosque – that humanity and the kindness of people will get him through, and to trust those around him – to trust Evette and Fida.

I came to love all these characters and initially, I thought I would savour this book, yet I inhaled it in two or three sittings – it was one that was compelling, where I needed to know what happened next, who survived, how they escaped and so many other threads and events that take place in the latter half of the novel that are crucial to what happens. I loved Amra and Hana, they were wonderful, in the face of great tragedy, faced everything that came towards them bravely with Ruben.

This is an important book – we need to know this history and this book has the header ‘Heroes of the Holocaust’ – I hope this is going to become a series because I think it would make a really good one, especially if it explores lots more lesser known stories and histories of this time period.

Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham

Finding EadieTitle: Finding Eadie

Author: Caroline Beecham

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 2nd July 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 368

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: The author of Maggie’s Kitchen and Eleanor’s Secret delivers another compelling story of love and mystery during wartime.

London 1943: War and dwindling resources are taking their toll on the staff of Partridge Press. The pressure is on to create new books to distract readers from the grim realities of the war, but Partridge’s rising star, Alice Cotton, leaves abruptly and cannot be found.

Alice’s secret absence is to birth her child, and although her baby’s father remains unnamed, Alice’s mother promises to help her raise her tiny granddaughter, Eadie. Instead, she takes a shocking action.

Theo Bloom is employed by the American office of Partridge. When he is tasked with helping the British publisher overcome their challenges, Theo has his own trials to face before he can return to New York to marry his fiancee.

Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Finding Eadie is a story about the triumph of three friendships bound by hope, love, secrets and the belief that books have the power to change lives.

~*~

AWW2020

Caroline Beecham’s stories about women in World War Two are mainly set on the home front, and look at lesser known stories about what women did in the war, and the various industries that contributed to the war effort on the home front. In Finding Eadie the publishing industry and books play a large role, alongside the mystery of Alice Cotton, her absence, and the three friendships – Alice and Ursula, Alice and Theo and Alice and Penny – that drive the novel. The truth of Alice’s absence is known to very few  people – she is pregnant and must go away to have her child, before returning with a story that explains why she has one. Yet soon after the birth, Alice awakens to discover her daughter, Eadie missing, and a note from her mother that sets in motion a search for Eadie that takes many weeks and months. At the same time, Theo Bloom, from New York, has come to save Partridge Press in London – and in time, Alice is helped by three friends in her search for Eadie, combining her research with an idea for books that will save the publishing house. But Theo will find he saves much more, and the power of love and friendship will change everything.

Finding Eadie is a story of family, love, and friendship – love of one’s child, love of books and reading, and love of all kinds – it does not shy away from the harsh realities of the war and what Eadie and Ursula face either. Caroline has confronted these issues head on and allowed the reader to see them for what they were – even when using a simple scene or a few simple words – it works to evoke a sense of the times and place, and what these characters faced or had to hide to appear acceptable to society. It was perhaps this that made Ursula and Alice’s friendship the strongest for me and the most meaningful. They both faced being shunned by society for who they were, and to me, they found comfort and solidarity in each other – they did not reject the other based on these circumstances, for they knew what it was to be rejected for who they were.

This beautiful friendship, the support from the beginning of the book, and Ursula’s care for, and faith in Alice was one of the most powerful and most enduring aspects of the novel- from the publishing house to the events towards the end of the book, it was clear that Ursula was truly there for Alice, as were Penny and Theo – and everything they helped her with led to the climatic final chapters, and an acceptance of everything that had happened to lead to those events. It is a touching story that proves family is what we make it and sometimes our friends become our family. It also shows that friendship is powerful, and the damage, or near damage that secrets can do.

My other favourite thing about this book was the focus on publishing and books during the war, and what they meant to people during this time – both on the home front and soldiers in the battlefields. They were a comfort – like they are during the pandemic – they gave people some place else to be during those hard times. This book is as much an ode to books and publishing as it is to friendship and justice. This is done in an exquisite and sensitive way, that reveals a dark underbelly of wartime London, with a touch of hope even in the midst of secrets, all bound together by the power of books and some determination and grit from all the characters to bring about real change – and that is based on real events of the 1940s.