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

Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

Josephines gardenTitle: Josephine’s Garden

Author: Stephanie Parkyn

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 3rd December 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 480

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A captivating story of love, nature and identity in Napoleon’s France

‘Stephanie Parkyn is one very talented storyteller.’ -Mrs B’s Book Reviews

France, 1794. In the aftermath of the bloody end to the French Revolution, Rose de Beauharnais stumbles from prison on the day she is to be guillotined. Within a decade, she’ll transform into the scandalous socialite who marries Napoleon Bonaparte, become Empress Josephine of France and build a garden of wonders with plants and animals she gathers from across the globe.

But she must give Bonaparte an heir or she risks losing everything.

Two other women from very different spheres are tied to the fate of the Empress Josephine – Marthe Desfriches and Anne Serreaux. Their lives are put at risk as they each face confronting obstacles in their relationships and in their desire to become mothers.

From the author of Into the World comes a richly imagined historical novel about obsession, courage, love and marriage.

‘Enthralling novel, rich in historical detail … Highly recommended.’ –Good Reading on Into the World

 

~*~

 

Set in the days after the Terror, the French Revolution, Josephine’s Garden is the story of three women – Josephine Bonaparte, Marthe Desfriches, and Anne Serreaux. These three women have lived through revolution in different ways. Josephine, also known as Rose, has lost her husband to the guillotine and is now wed to Napoleon Bonaparte. Marthe Desfriches has lost two husbands, one to war, and is onto her third marriage to Jacques Labillardiere, a botanist who made an appearance in Into the World, along with other characters like Robespierre. Anne Serreaux, married to another botanist, becomes friends with Josephine as a garden grows at Josephine’s home – made up of plants and animals from New Holland, cultivated by Josephine and her botanists as Napoleon fights his way across Europe.

AWW2020He demands an heir from Josephine – something she had been struggling to give him, and she must allow her children from her first marriage to he used as pawns in the political games of Napoleon as survivors of the Terror – either royalists or those who see Napoleon as another leader who will not free them but will be just as bad as the royal family that has recently died, so there is an undercurrent of further rebellion as Napoleon starts to establish himself as emperor of France.

Much of the action takes place at home, away from the war front of the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1815 as Napoleon tries to gain power over European states to build the French Empire – many years prior to Europe forming as we know it today, and several decades before Bismarck and the German wars of unification. Napoleon is often away at war, but the moments he appears in the novel are significant – demands of an heir, assassination attempts and plans, and family trying to drive Josephine out because she has failed to produce an heir, so rumours swirl that she is barren. This intrigue builds throughout the novel and causes tension in many relationships. Carefully balanced with what Josephine wants, and what she is able to give, this is explored sensitively and given the attention it needs. Much of what drives all the tensions is the idea of producing heirs to secure empire, and women and their role to reproduce and raise the future generations – the expectations placed on the new aristocracy in as they seek to rebuild the power they lost – or a new power in the new nation of France without a monarchy to lead them.

Marthe is unhappy in her marriage to Labillardiere – she longs for a child, yet he refuses to give her one. He has other plans and is determined to keep botany secrets from Josephine so he can write his book. It would seem that in many ways, there are lots of people plotting against Josephine and Napoleon, separately and apart, but in different ways. As Josephine tends her garden, political unrest and alliances tear her family apart, and her friends become embroiled in various activities – some nefarious and some very personal as rumours swirl about Napoleon’s activities at home and abroad. Marthe’s story is gently dealt with at first, until she discovers secrets later on, and her story, and suspicions about what she is up to within the new empire and whether she is acting against Napoleon ramp up.

The inclusion of the historical figures from Into the World ties the two books together cleverly – but can both be read as standalone novels, separate from each other. This is an intriguing period in history, and I have noticed that there seem to be more stories appearing now about it, or maybe I am just noticing that there are more around as it has been drawn to my attention by these books and Kate Forsyth’s latest. Either way, these stories are given life now, and we see – through Josephine’s eyes – how ego drove Napoleon and his ambitions as she sought to create a beautiful antipodean garden in France.

Josephine’s fate is tied up with Anne and Marthe eventually, and the political undercurrents of the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon’s need to secure his empire as he tries to build the French Empire in the image that Napoleon wishes to see. Intrigue and secrets fill this novel. Stephanie Parkyn has written this exquisitely, evoking the gardens and feelings of post-Revolutionary France – as those who were affected by the Terror navigate a new world. Her research has brought these people to life – and I loved the nods and throwbacks to Into the World. If there is more to come, especially about certain characters who make an appearance in this book, then I am very eager for it and will be recommending this novel to lovers of historical fiction.

Stephanie Parkyn Book Signing: BookFace, Erina Fair, 4th March 2018

into the worldOne of the greatest pleasures of being a book lover and book reviewer, as well as a frequent customer to my favourite bookshop, is finding out about exciting events, and being able to attend them. This weekend I got to attend one such event at my local bookstore, BookFace, my favourite local bookseller. It was a book signing with Australian author, Stephanie Parkyn, whose novel, Into the World was released in December of last year, and that I had the pleasure of reviewing on this blog for publisher, Allen and Unwin.

An invitation from Merril at BookFace prompted me to attend this event, where I met Stephanie, had my book signed and chatted about my reviewing – she was very interested in what I do and how, and when reviews have to be in, and how many books I read per month – which can vary, and how I manage to keep on top of it all. Nervous at first, Merril introduced me, and we had a delightful chat, and took some photos.

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Stephanie signing books

Stephanie’s first question to me was “Are you a writer?” and of course I answered “Yes, I would like to be but at the moment, I’m a writer of book reviews.”  It was this answer, and Merril and Alison’s interest and contributions that prompted the reviewing conversation.

IMG_4926
Stephanie and I

I watched a few other people come up to Stephanie – of all the groups and people who came up to her over the hour she was there, most of them went over to see what it was about and listened to Stephanie talk about the book. and her plans for other characters in the book and their own stories – which will be interesting and enjoyable to read. As I had read the book, and Merril was half way through, we had chats about books in general and what we liked to read, and some of our favourite authors.

IMG_4930
Stephanie with the lovely manager of BookFace, Allison

Having met a few Australian authors, and interacting with several others on social media, I have found them all to be generous and kind, happy to answer questions and chat. And their generosity does not go unnoticed by readers – these are authors whose books I will always read and whose new releases I eagerly await year after year.

IMG_4931

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Stephanie and would like to thank Stephanie, Merril, Allison and BookFace for hosting this event yesterday.

Booktopia

Into the World by Stephanie Parkyn

into the worldTitle: Into the World

Author: Stephanie Parkyn

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 1st December 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 448

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Abandoned by her lover and fleeing the wrath of her family, Marie-Louise must make a desperate choice. Find a man or become one.

  1. In the midst of the French Revolution, unwed mother Marie-Louise Girardin takes one last look at her baby son before entrusting him to her friend, the revolutionary Olympe de Gouges. She must escape, and only the most daring plan will bring her both the anonymity she needs and the independence to return one day for her son.Marie-Louise disguises herself as a man and joins a voyage of exploration employed as a steward on the Recherche, one of two ships commissioned to journey to the Great Southern Ocean to find the missing explorer La Perouse.

    Protecting her identity throughout, Marie-Louise forms friendships among the eccentric naturalists. But tensions rise between the royalist officers and the revolutionaries, and Marie-Louise’s position becomes precarious when she discovers someone on board knows the secrets of her past. When the expedition docks in Java, chaos erupts as they learn of King Louis XVI’s execution and are imprisoned by the Dutch. Marie-Louise seems certain to be unmasked. Will she ever return to France and be reunited with her child?

    Inspired by a true story, Into the World is a compelling novel of the amazing life of Marie-Louise Girardin battling perilous seas, her own self-doubt, and finding unforeseen loves on a journey to reclaim her child.

~*~

Marie-Louse Giradin lives in a time of turmoil, where revolutionaries – the Jacobins – and royalists, the supporters of Louis XIV and his Austrian queen, Marie-Antoinette, are at loggerheads as the Jacobins petition for the removal of the King, and a new, more egalitarian government. In 1791, Marie-Louise finds herself alone, and a single mother, she fled during the early days of the revolution, and found herself aboard a ship, disguised as a young man named Louis. The Recherche and the rest of their fleet are charged with finding out what happened to explorer La Pérouse. As they follow his path in the Great Southern Ocean, exploring the Cape of Good Hope, various Pacific Islands, New Holland and Van Diemen’s land, Marie-Louise must find a way to hide her true identity. Only a few senior officers know, the captain, Kermadoc and a few others, and she is at the mercy of their protection during the perilous journey that has separated her from her son. Far from home, and unaware of the dangers of the revolution, Marie-Louise is fighting her own battle – abandoning her son, and where she fits in the world. As a man, she is still mocked in some ways, and finds herself caught between the royalists and the revolutionaries aboard the ship as they navigate the Southern Hemisphere and what was at the time, in the 1790s, the unknown and exotic. Told through Marie-Louise’s eyes in third person, the reader can experience her horror at the way islander tribes and Aboriginal people are treated, and the awe that she has when coming into contact with these people who appear to be wary, but at times happy and helpful – for a woman in the 1790s to have these experiences would have been extraordinary and her reactions reflect how she coped with the unknown, whilst reflecting the attitudes of the time, and coupling them with the horrified reactions and emotional outpour from Marie-Louise.

As they journey home after their experiences in Van Diemen’s Land and New Holland, unsuccessful at finding La Pérouse, they are taken hostage in the Dutch East Indies, where they hear what has happened back home during the revolution and the end to the monarchical system. But to Marie-Louise, the fear of being unmasked and unable to return home to her son looms overhead.

aww2017-badgeIt is always refreshing to read a novel where the central female character isn’t driven by romantic love, but rather, the love for son and country, and where she heads off into the unknown because of this love. It is as much about the journey and subsequent history as it is about Marie-Louise herself, and what she went through and endured to return to France in 1793-4. A quick Google search spat back some resources from various state libraries, the national library and the Australian Dictionary of Biography, in total, 245,000 results, with the most relevant appearing to be at the top. Stephanie Parkyn’s book takes a look at Marie’s journey and what she went through, in an eloquent and interesting way, perhaps hinting at romance between another crew member and Marie-Louise, but not explicitly stating it. In doing so, Parkyn has recreated a historical figure, who, had she submitted to society’s expectations as her father demanded, might never have set foot in Australia and we might never have known her story. Stephanie’s story has provided readers with a strong, determined character who flouts convention and manages on her own, a refreshing characteristic in historical fiction, and a trend I have been observing. Allowing the characters like Marie-Louise to be strong in many ways but at the same time of their time is a feat that when done well, results in an engaging and intriguing story that sparks interest in these characters beyond the pages of the book they appear in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which has sparked an interest in the French Revolution and finding more about Marie-Louise Giradin and her fate at the end of the expedition. Each character is a real person, giving the story a colour that ensures the history as it is retold feels as real as it would when reading about it in a history book, with a little more colour to it that is engaging and enjoyable. I found this book hard to put down, and it is one that will show what women were capable of and achieved in a time when the people around them expected less of these women.

Booktopia