Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue #1) by Judith Rossell

withering by seaTitle: Withering-by-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue #1)
Author: Judith Rossell
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: ABC Books/HarperCollins Australia
Published: 19th August 2019 (First published 2014)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Price: $16.99
Synopsis: WINNER ABIA BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR YOUNGER READERS
‘Fans of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will eat up Withering-by-Sea’
— Shelf Awareness
High on a cliff above the gloomy coastal town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp, dull hotel, eleven-year-old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three dreadful Aunts.
But one night, Stella sees something she shouldn’t have … Something that will set in motion an adventure more terrifying and more wonderful than she could ever have hoped for …
Discover the gorgeously illustrated series that’s loved by tens of thousands of readers!

SERIES AWARDS
Withering-by-Sea (Book 1)
Winner — 2015 Indie Awards, Book of the Year: Children’s & YA
Winner — 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards, Book of the Year: Older Children
Winner — 2015 Davitt Awards
Honour Book — 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards
Shortlisted — 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards
Shortlisted — 2014 Aurealis Awards
Shortlisted — 2017 Australian Book Design Awards
~*~

Orphan Stella Montgomery lives with her three aunts – Aunt Condolence, Aunt Deliverance and Aunt Temperance in an old hotel in Withering-by-Sea. She’s never known anything else but being expected to live up to what feels like their impossible standards. The novel starts with Stella exploring the conservatory of the hotel as the Amazon, when she meets Mr Filbert, a guest, who later passes something onto her to take care of, and from here, Stella’s adventure begins as she tries to discover what she has been given, and why someone is trying to take it away. Why did someone want Mr Filbert dead, and who did it? What is the secret that her aunts are keeping from her about her mother? Stella is encouraged to remain quiet, never ask questions and above all, become a polite young lady who will be an exemplary member of society.

But no matter how hard Stella tries, she cannot make the aunts happy – but why would she want to, when they’re always being horrid to her, and punishing her whenever they get a chance? It is when Stella meets Ben and Shadow that things start to change, and she is suddenly on the run, and trying to uncover a mystery. I love mysteries – all kinds of mysteries and there are many ways to write them for all age groups and readerships. With its fantasy setting, and magic infused mystery, it is a great way to introduce middle grade readers who enjoy mysteries to younger readers, and even as an adult reader, I found myself swept up by it and loved reading it. I cannot wait to get the next two books and find out what happens next with Stella and hope that we get to see Ben and Gert again, as well as several other characters who had an awesome role in the story. I’d love to see them appear again to help Stella or for Stella to help them. Also, it has an abundance of singing cats, and who doesn’t like singing cats?

AWW2020Stella’s adventure is filled with magic and danger – but not too much danger and is set in a time that evokes a Victorian sense of time and place, which contributes to the magical sense of this book and the characters that populate this novel. In a world where girls are trained to do certain things, and where they are expected to fall in line, characters like Stella and Gert flout the rules and turn the whole world upside down, proving that they are just as capable of the boys. There is a delightful twist at the end that has a fairytale feel to it, as does the whole novel, which makes it very exciting and interesting to see how various fairy tale tropes and characteristics have found their way into children’s literature today. Having won many awards, I can see why this book won them – and as it begins a series, it answers enough questions to wrap the first book up but at the same time, leaves enough unanswered that readers will want to read the next book to find out what happens and get those answers. There is at least one that I wonder if is going to be a thread throughout the series and will be revealed at the end.

Overall, I loved this book. It is probably one that I would have loved to have read as a kid, and it seems like many of the books and series I am discovering these days for middle grade are what I would have enjoyed. Australian authors are bringing out some brilliant middle grade books at the moment and I’m working on reading any that grab my attention. Looking forward to more about Stella!

January 2020 wrap up

In January of this year, I read 13 books, and got a start on each of my challenges – some have more categories filled in than others, and some will have multiple books for each category, apart from the book bingo challenges, which will only have one each.

Below is a table outlining where each book fits in. Some book bingo posts and reviews are scheduled for the next few weeks and months.

January – 13

Book Author Challenge
Any Ordinary Day Walkley Book Award

 

Leigh Sales AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, The Modern Mrs Darcy, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle

 

Rick Riordan Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

 Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium

 

Belinda Murrell AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, The Modern Mrs Darcy, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

Dragonfly Song

 

Wendy Orr Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Book Bingo, Nerd Daily Challenge, – 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

 

The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz

 

Heather Dune McAdam Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading

Nerd Daily Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo

Josephine’s Garden Stephanie Parkyn Reading Challenge, AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

The Soldier’s Curse (Monsarrat Series Book One) Meg and Tom Keneally Reading Challenge,

Nerd Daily Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo, AWW2020, Dymocks Reading Challenge

Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking   AWW2020, Nerd Daily Challenge, Book Bingo, Reading Challenge, Dymocks Reading Challenge

 

The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah

 

Troy Cummins Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge,
The God Child

 

Nana Oforiatta Ayim Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge, The Modern Mrs Darcy, Dymocks Reading Challenge
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Ravenclaw Edition) JK Rowling Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge, The Modern Mrs Darcy,
Shark Out of Water Ace Landers Reading Challenge, Nerd Daily Challenge,
A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10)

 

Sulari Gentill Book Bingo, The Nerd Daily Challenge, Reading Challenge, Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, Books and Bites Bingo , Dymocks Reading Challenge

Books and Bites Bingo

game card books and bites

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:
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:
A Book with a door on the cover:
Written by someone called Jane:
An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill
Wherever you go:

Eco-themes:
A Neil Gaiman book:
Short story collection:
Published the year you were born:
Makes you blush:

That Book you keep putting off:
A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)
Short story collection:
A book with bad reviews:
Book to movie:

Scary:
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

2. An Australian classic

3. A book by an Indigenous Australian author

4. A book about climate change [cli-fi or non-fiction]
* Bonus: Read both a fiction [cli-fi] and non-fiction book on climate change
* You might want to check out the Climate Reality Book Club over on Insta for some ideas

5. A book by an LGBTQ+ Australian author

6. A #LoveOzYA book
* #LoveOzYA is a great resource to find an Australian YA read, or check the hashtag on Insta too!

7. A memoir by an Australian woman

8. A poetry collection
* Solo author or anthology

9. 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

10. A Book by a Territorian author – NT or ACT
Bonus: Read both an NT and ACT author

ACT:
NT:

11. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

12. 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:
a book nominated for an award in 2020:
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. Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
2.
3.
The Nerd Daily 2020 Challenge

1. Author Starting with A: Shark Out of Water by Ace Landers
2. Female Author:
3. Purchased on Holidays:
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:
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
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:
16. Protagonist starting with H: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One) – Hugh Monsarrat
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:
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:
26. Bookstore recommended:
27. A number in the title:
28. An audiobook:
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:
32. A one-word title:
33. Bought based on cover:
34. Author starting with M:
35. Start a new series: Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking
36. A book released in 2019:
37. Male author: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan,
38. 2020 TV Adaptation:
39. A book gifted to you:
40. Author with a hyphenated name:
41. Released in September:
42. Purchased years ago:
43. A standalone:
44. Author with the same initials:
45. Told from two perspectives:
46. Romance or thriller:
47. A protagonist starting with S:
48. Two-word title: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
49. Set in a foreign country: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn,
50. Animal featured in cover: The Binder of Doom: Speedah-Cheetah by Troy Cummins
51. Written by your favourite author:
52. Based or inspired by a true story:

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:
3. A book from our Top 101:
4. A book from our Kids’ Top 51:
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:
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:
15. A self-help/motivation:
16. A fairytale/fable adaptation:
17. Book one in a fantasy series: Trials of Apollo – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
18. A book that teaches you something new:
19. A book with a red cover:
20. A book with a colour in the title:
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:
23. A book that made you laugh
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
25. A book you said you’ve read but haven’t:

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

 

Book Bingo

Book bingo 2020

Themes of culture

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 –

About the environment –

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

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

Ella at Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking

ella at edenTitle: Ella at Eden: New Girl

Author: Laura Sieveking

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st February 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 192

Price: $15.99

Synopsis: Ella has started at her new high school, and Eden College is everything she hoped it would be. She is getting to know her new friends and enjoying everything Eden has to offer. Until things start to get complicated. She accidentally insults Saskia, the school diva, there could be a ghost in the dorm and items have started to mysteriously disappear.

Can Ella catch the Eden thief?

Join Ella in the first book of this exciting new adventure.

 

~*~

Ella is about to start a new school – a boarding school, which means being away from her sister Olivia, brother Max, and the rest of her family. Going to Eden College means being with her best friend though, and Ella can’t wait to spend time with Zoe and her new friends. Yet there are other girls like Saskia who don’t seem to like Ella. And soon, things start to go missing – around the time Saskia tells her about the school ghost. Determined to find out what happened and write a stellar story for the school newspaper, Ella decides to investigate what is happening.

Scholastic contacted me to review this – which is always exciting and having worked on some of the Ella and Olivia books by Yvette Poshoglian, one of the authors who works with Ella and Olivia for Scholastic, I knew it would be a lovely and interesting read. I knew the characters – so it was interesting to see Ella at another stage of her life, and it is always fun to start a new series. However, as a quiz writer, whenever I read a review book from Scholastic, I start thinking about quiz questions – which is quite fun but not necessary for a review book.

AWW2020

I really enjoyed this book. It starts a new series that will allow those who have read the earlier books with Ella and Olivia to grow with Ella and her sister, and also, gives enough information for new readers to Ella’s world to enjoy it and engage with it and the other characters.  Told in the first person, we see the world through Ella’s eyes and experiences, which are fun to read about and experience with her in this new and adventurous world she has been thrust into, the same world she is keen to explore.

Ella’s friendships grow throughout the novel, and I love the way she works to make friends with Violet throughout the book, whose story is also very interesting and finding out what about Violet’s secrets strengthens their bond and Ella discovers she has a new friend. This book is filled with ideas and themes of friendship, coming of age and growing up, as well as finding out who you are separate from what you have known up until when something changes dramatically, and for Ella, that is heading off to Eden College.

This looks to be a promising series, and I look forward to more about Ella at Eden and what she gets up to with her new friends in her new school.

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

books and bites game card

For my fifth square, I am ticking off a book with lots of hype. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Firewas published in 2000, to lots of hype, and by all accounts, some might say it is still hyped, with the recent releases of the illustrated edition at the end of last year, and on the 23rd of January, the house editions. Bloomsbury sent me a Ravenclaw edition to review, and I did read it, and review it on my blog.

ravenclaw goblet of fire

There are lots of books that are hyped, and the Harry Potter series is definitely one of those books. The house editions are released in hardcover and paperback, one in the house colour with black and either silver, black, gold or bronze, and the other with a black cover and the colours trimming the black. For the Goblet of Fire, the hardcover is blue with black and copper designs on it, and the paperback is black with copper and blue trim.

So that is my hyped book – I could have chosen many others for this one, but with all my challenges, I am marking them off as I go and getting the easier ones done as I find books that fit. Some may have to wait until later in the year, but the more I get done earlier, the easier it will be to focus on the harder categories.

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

soldiers curseTitle: The Soldier’s Curse (The Monsarrat Series Book One)

Author: Meg and Tom Keneally

Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime

Publisher: Vintage/Penguin Random House

Published: 27th February 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 384

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: A fast-paced, witty and gripping historical crime series from Tom Keneally and his eldest daughter Meg.

In the Port Macquarie penal settlement for second offenders, at the edge of the known world, gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat hungers for freedom. Originally transported for forging documents passing himself off as a lawyer, he is now the trusted clerk of the settlement’s commandant.

His position has certain advantages, such as being able to spend time in the Government House kitchen, being supplied with outstanding cups of tea by housekeeper Hannah Mulrooney, who, despite being illiterate, is his most intelligent companion.

Not long after the commandant heads off in search of a rumoured river, his beautiful wife, Honora, falls ill with a sickness the doctor is unable to identify. When Honora dies, it becomes clear she has been slowly poisoned.

Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney suspect the commandant’s second-in-command, Captain Diamond, a cruel man who shares history with Honora. Then Diamond has Mrs Mulrooney arrested for the murder. Knowing his friend will hang if she is tried, Monsarrat knows he must find the real killer. And so begins The Monsarrat Series, a fast-paced, witty and gripping series from Tom Keneally and his eldest daughter, Meg.

~*~

This is another series that I have had on my shelf for years and have only just started reading. All the books in this series are out, so hopefully I can get through them over the next few weeks or months. The first book introduces us to Hugh Llewellyn Monsarrat, a gentleman convict who is towards the end of his sentence in 1825. He is friendly with a local housekeeper, Hannah Mulrooney, and Hugh now works as the clerk for the commandant of the Port Macquarie settlement in 1825.

It is around this time that the commandant heads off – and his wife, Honora starts getting ill, and eventually dies. When Hannah is accused, Monsarrat sets out to uncover the real killer.

The mystery within The Soldier’s Curse starts out slowly – as an illness that the doctors have several ideas as to what it might be – but poisoning does not cross their minds until it is too late, and this is where it is clever, as once Honora dies, the investigation Hugh conducts ramps up – whereas  before he is an observer, and finds himself reflecting on the events that led him to where he is at the stage of the novel. As a result, there is a lot of backstory and build up, yet I think it helps contribute to the setting and feelings of the characters and mystery. Hugh is determined to prove Hannah Mulrooney is not guilty – the presumption that she is guilty because those in charge of finding out what happens ignore the access that others had to what may have to Honora and her home.

AWW2020

Whilst Hugh navigates his position between the world of convicts, education and freedom, he also observes how the Indigenous people of the area the settlers named Port Macquarie – the Birpai – interact with the newcomers to their land, and the intersections of these communities in different ways – from those who do not come into contact, to the Birpai returning absconding convicts and to those mentioned who are said to have relationships (though this is not expanded on) with the settlers – of which, knowing history, there would have been negative ones as well as the positive ones hinted at in this book. As these stories are not always told, having them mentioned brings them to light at least, and readers can, from there, explore this area of history further to gain a better understanding of what happened in those early colonial days. It will be interesting to see how this is further explored in future books. There are complexities of relationships between convicts, jailers and free settlers, between the Indigenous people and the Europeans, and indeed, between the men and women, as well as between Englishmen and Irish or Scottish folk dealt with in this novel throughout. It felt as though these were carefully considered through the lens of Hugh, and based on his personality, and ways of understanding the world. Inequality is highlighted in many ways here – as is the hierarchy of everyone there. The way this is navigated throughout is consistently there, even if not mentioned on every page: there is a constant feeling that this is all going on at the time. It reflects a world where nobody quite understands each other and struggles to find a way to collaborate.

As the start of a series, it is very dense in establishing the character and his history,  yet as with any series with a key character, there is always more to come in subsequent books – the little things that have not come to the surface yet, and questions about the character that were not answered in the first book. I have the four that are already out on my shelf and hope to get through them all soon. It is an intriguing read about colonial history, and colonies other than Sydney Cove as well as the various interactions between the original inhabitants and those brought here for punishment, and the attitudes towards those two groups from the people who south to enforce their authority. A great start to a series.

Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Pippas Island 5.jpgTitle: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium

Author: Belinda Murrell

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Published: 3rd December 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The fifth book in the Pippa’s Island series is the most adorable story yet!

Life can be hard when you’re crammed into a tiny caravan with your noisy family. Pippa’s looking forward to moving into their new home above the Beach Shack Cafe, but it’s taking forever! Money is tight, too, and Pippa has her eye on a gorgeous new swimming costume.

Luckily, Pippa has her Sassy Sisters to help. Together they come up with a plan to make some cash: Pippa’s Perfect Pooch Pampering! Before long, Pippa has her hands full with adorable but pesky pups.

What could possibly go wrong?

~*~

AWW2020

It has been a long ten months since Pippa, her mum, and her siblings, Harry and Bella moved from London to Kira Island. Their home is nearly finished, though they have spent the past ten months living in a caravan in the backyard of Pippa’s grandparents. At school, things are going well – even her friendly rivalry with Olivia. Yet Pippa longs for her own space, and a new cossie. So when the local swimwear store has a sale, Pippa knows she must get something there, and starts saving up.

To do so, she begins a dog care business – walking, grooming and taking care of the dogs of Kira Island. Her friends – Meg, CiCi, and Charlie – help her with her brilliant plan, and step in to help her take care of the dogs – especially Charlie. Pippa soon has her hands full with too many dogs, including her own puppy, Summer.

Pippa’s excitement when she finally gets to start unpacking her boxes is slightly dampened when she struggles to sort through her clothes and books – until her Sassy Sisters come to help. With her friends, Pippa can finally create the haven she has been longing for since arriving on Kira Island.

The fifth book in the series continues to celebrate family and friendship, and the connections people make at all stages of life. This marks my second book in the 2020 Australian Women Writers challenge, and ticks off categories in several other challenges, including my February Book Bingo post – 2 down, ten to go for that one!

I’ve loved reading the Pippa’s Island books, and hope there are more, as they are delightful books to read and engaging for all readers across many demographics. A great book, and a series that I hope to revisit.

Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

apollo 1.jpgTitle: Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin
Published: 1st May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 528
Price: $17.99
Synopsis: The first book in a breathtaking new series from Percy Jackson creator, Rick Riordan.
How do you punish an immortal? By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.
But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

~*~

I received the fourth book in this series to review – that came out prior to me receiving it so I thought I should read the first three so I wasn’t lost, as I have heard these are series that need to be read in order. Having not read the original series, I worried I would be lost there, but enough hints were dropped, and enough has been explained for readers new to this world through this new series that I didn’t feel I needed to – others may however, feel differently and that is okay.

Apollo has been cast out of Olympus – the exact event is hinted at and explained but possibly happened in the original series or the other series linked to these books, The Heroes of Olympus. Still, I did get enough backstory to understand without reading everything else.
In this series, Apollo has, as he did in some of the myths, upset Zeus (bad move). As punishment, Zeus makes Apollo a mortal as punishment for starting a riot at Olympus – a myth cycle Riordan has used here. Under the human name, Lester Papadopoulos, Apollo’s service is claimed by demi-god, Meg McCaffrey, and they are taken to Camp Half-Blood by Percy Jackson. Here, Apollo meets several of his demi-god children, and Meg finds out who her godly parents are – complicating her unfolding history more, much of which is deeply hidden until a crucial moment.
Here, they face many tests and trials – and investigate campers who go missing, and take part in a three-legged death race, and finally, face an enemy called ‘the Beast’. And so begins Apollo’s first task – to protect a hidden oracle, who has been hidden for millennia, so the Beast cannot control the future. The book ends on a cliffhanger, that will lead into the next book and his subsequent tasks as he serves demi-god Meg McCaffrey until his punishment is over – rather reluctantly at first, until he becomes quite fond of her.

This book has the right balance of fun and fantasy, adventure and myth. It manages to combine the myth cycles in a way that is interesting way that is accessible to those familiar with the myths, but also those who are not, and introduces them to a new world of research and interest. It will definitely appeal to teens and young adult readers as well, and is suitable for ages eleven and older, I think.