My Year in Books 2019 – Part 2

Merry Christmas Everyone, five sleeps to go till Santa arrives.

I’m continuing my year in books – Goodreads brief reviews or book blurbs. Fifty books will require two more posts. Here’s part two, as they are long reviews, part three will need to finish off my year in books, 2019. 

Rosie Bird aka Song Bird, Superhero has nightmares about how the Great Barrier Reef is dying. Green Turtle Island is closing down and the marine creatures are disappearing. The family holiday is turning sour, the natural life they came to see is no longer in the oceans surrounding the island. What’s happening? Is her arch-enemy Destructo behind the devastation? Can she rescue the Great Barrier Reef before its too late?

Luckily for Song Bird, her best friends are with her on the investigation. Amy her super-smart nerd friend with a wheelchair full of gadgets, and Ben her other BFF. How does Destructo always manage to stay a step ahead? They would have to find out.
Through a time portal, Song Bird and Ben go back to the past. Amy was meant to go with them but she disappeared before they left. Things go badly as soon as they arrive in the pristine past. The King of the Island thinks Song Bird is trouble and locks her up. Ben is captured too. How can she find a way to convince the King she’s there to help save the future reef? Her friends come to the rescue. Then Song Bird takes a dangerous journey to collect a piece of the coral reef to take back to the future to rejuvenate it. Amy gains super mermaid powers and they work together. But what happened to Ben? Once they find out Destructo’s evil plan, they return to the future. Destructo is still ruining the marine environment and must be stopped. Will their trip into the past save the Great Barrier Reef? As with all Song Bird books, the story is a world not quite our own, but very nearly. At the end of the book, Karen has added information for young curious minds to learn about the Great Barrier Reef. The facts are given in a clear concise way. Options to help our environment are given and website addresses to find out more listed. I find the message of learning about problems, solving them with self-empowerment, and the strength of sticking together with friends, a powerful one underpinning all Karen’s books.

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Peony wants to be a Bee more than anything in the world. She and her sister Mags are very good Pests. It takes a lot to make it through the test to become a Bee and if she did, they would have more food. Peony tries even though she’s too young. Her friend Applejoy has an excellent smile and he does make it through the test the Boz or Forman sets. This time she is tripped up by a mean girl Pomz, so she fails the test. Pomz and AJ are the new Bees.

Gramps makes them good food and gives good hugs. When Ma comes home from the city, all worn out and crying, Gramps feeds her and gets her to sleep. His love rejuvenates his daughter Rosie enough for her to go back to the city. Peony and Mags want Ma to stay. They don’t need the money she brings home with her. They live in a shed on the farm. AJ and his mum and MJ live in a shed nearby. What could be better than the learning over the radio and working on the farm?

Peony is dragged away to the city and her world is turned upside down. She sees her Ma being bossed around and she doesn’t like the Ape Man who pulls her into the car. She must work and be polite, even though she doesn’t know what that means. She meets Esmeralda and finds out that people can be frightened of going outside. Peony makes a promise, and so does her new friend Ez.

This book is wonderfully written and a world without bees becomes a possible near-future reality. It’s no wonder this book won and was shortlisted in so many awards. I’m sure to re-read it many times.

Jake in Space Mercury Rising by Candice Lemon Scott
The excitement was building the planets would align and it would be an awesome show if only Jakes parents could agree on how to set up the megascope to see it. Luckily for Jake, his cyborg friend Henry, comes to take him to Mercury for a great planet side view. His other friends Skye, Milly, and Rory were already aboard the best Space 4045 jet car. They soon discover that Henry is on assignment for the Central Intergalactic Agency (CIA) and that they must defuse bombs set to go off on Mercury to save Earth and they have to complete this mission before the planets align.

They are amazed to find two of their old enemies Gradlock and Valerie, have united to put the dreadful plan into action. Will they be able to find the bombs and stop them from causing both Mercury and Earth to be destroyed?

Candice has written another fast-paced action-filled book for young readers who are sure to love this page-turning adventure.

Jake in Space Volcanoes of Venus by Candice Lemon Scott

Jake thought he’d won the best prize ever. He was in the Floating Hotel of Venus with his mum and dad. His friends Rory, Skye and Milly arrived not long after they did with their parents. Henry the cyborg arrived last. He wasn’t on assignment from the CIA (Central Intergalactic Agency) this time and he was upset about it. They’d told him to take a holiday. Anyone else would love that but not Henry.

Everything at the hotel was amazing starting with the lava fountain in the foyer. They start to enjoy being pampered with a ride to their rooms and non-stop food. When Henry knocks on Jakes room door his parents think he’s a bit weird when he goes to smell the garbage chute. He leaves quickly and Jake must find out what he’s up too, it’s too strange, even for Henry.

Next day four friends are booked to go on the Volcanoes of Venus tour. Jake, Skye, Rory and Milly are surprised to see Henry in the pilot chair having disabled the robot pilot. What’s going on with the garbage? Why is Henry sniffing out a problem? Why is the rubbish from the hotel being dumped in the volcano, it smells disgusting! It’s dangerous too as it’s creating a cap that could blow off and destroy the hotel. Who would want to do that?

Would they solve the mystery without getting captured or thrown into the volcano where the rubbish is being tipped?

This is an exciting romp and one that will sure to please young readers.

The Ivory Rose by Belinda Murrell

Jemma just started her first babysitting job in one of Sydney’s iconic homes known as the Witches’ Houses. The house is old and run down and Sammy is a fun-loving energetic girl. Her mum Maggie, is an artist and single mum, needing Sammy to be occupied for a few hours each afternoon so she can finish her work for an exhibition.

The rambling house is a bit creepy and Sammy’s cat screeches and spits when the air in her room gets cold. Mater of factly Sammy tells Jemma that her friend Georgie is in the room. The chair in the corner of the room begins to rock. At first, Jemma thinks the little girl has an overactive imagination then other strange things happen.

At home her parents are always busy and hardly there for Jemma, so she spends a lot of time at her best friend Ruby’s place. It’s untidy and chaotic but filled with love and laughter. Jemma’s home is a show home of neatness and she feels detached. It’s nearly her birthday and she’s longing to just hang out, having a sleepover, painting their nails and chatting. Her mum has other ideas.

Jemma looks up the history of the Witches Houses of Annandale on her laptop. She finds out a lot about the area and about Rosethorn house. She read that a little girl Georgiana Rose Thornton had been murdered in the house. Was it a coincidence that Sammy called her invisible friend Georgie? The next Monday Jemma rushed to Sammy’s after school. She found more things had been unpacked. Jemma suggested she and Sammy read then they play hide and seek. She looked for Sammy and found her frightened and hiding in a secret cupboard. Jemma saw a flash of the past when a pin stuck in her hand. Once they were back in Sammy’s room Jemma calmed the little girl down, she put the dainty pendant carved from creamy ivory in the shape of a perfect rose on the dressing table, ivory rose. But who was Aggie? Why did Sammy think someone was trying to hurt Georgie?

Sammy left to go downstairs and Jemma couldn’t resist putting on the pendant. Shadow the cat spat again and the room was cold. Jemma felt that someone was with her in the room. Someone wanting to hurt her. The history of the Witches’ Houses in Johnston Street linking Rosethorne house from the century before Jemma’s time to her own suddenly became very real.

This is an intriguing time-slip story and one with a very satisfying end.

Chicken Little Investigates by 

Lois Wickstrom (Goodreads Author)
Sir Isaac Newton and Chicken Little did the same thing. Chicken Little would have figured it out if she had investigated. In this version, she does, and in the process saves herself and her friends from Foxy Woxy.
A twist on a tale, this book using the same characters in Chicken Little. This time the little chicken investigates and comes up with a name for the discovery of something falling down to the ground. Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey came up with different names. They all outsmarted Foxy Woxy, who’d lured them into his den. Then they all went to the King to name their discovery. He was wise and did his own experiment and came up with his own name. This is a cute book with lovely illustrations by Francie Mion. I think this is a great modern take on ‘the sky is falling’ original classic and one, I believe, young children are sure to enjoy.

Carrie’s Flight by Lois Wickstrom illustrated by Francie Mion

Being a Grandmother, I could relate to this book, that I truly love. If I downsized and moved, I would love to leave behind boxes of treasures for my granddaughter to touch, so she could feel close to me. It would be magical to be able to leave feathers that she could put on and fly to me. These are the dreams we all share that make this book emotive and its beautiful illustrations by Francie Mion so delightful. I also enjoyed the educational aspect at the end of the book about Starlings. I’m certain that many youngsters are taken to the sky, wearing imagination wings, when they read this book.

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee
Annabel Grey has been bought up in a privileged home, with an elegant mother and Miss Finch’s Little Blue Book (1855) to guide her. Such advice as – ‘A young lady does not yawn or sigh but listens attentively to any lesson a wise anecdote an elder may offer.’ This may not be helpful when meeting Miss Henrietta Vine, her Great Aunt, for the first time. Especially when her Aunt tells her that she is a witch and must learn magic.

When Mr Angel arrives at the magic shop he gives Annabel a message to pass on to her Great Aunts. Then she meets Aunt Estella and is told that she is – ‘A most magical girl’. Annabel must travel to Under London to save the good magic in the world. Miss Henrietta is not as sure as her sister that Annabel is ‘A most magical girl.’ The threat is close as Mr Angel has already bought a dark fog down over the city and is raising shadowlings to do his bidding.

Annabel is given a broomstick, a wand and a reluctant travelling companion. Kitty is also magical and not many are like her in the world. She can talk to fairies. She can run errands from Henrietta and Estella Vine’s magic shop to the Wizards and all those ageing members of The Great & Benevolent Magical Society. Kitty is wild and sleeps where she will at night. She knows all of London and listens to the trees speak. One day she’ll cough up her heart light and the body she is in will vanish.

Annabel is a plain Mayfair girl when she arrives at her Aunts. She misses her mother, who left her to go abroad. Her mother told her that her father had been in the navy and died at sea. How could she take on such a dangerous journey when she doesn’t know if there is any magic in her at all. She listens to her Aunt’s advice, be brave, be good. She learns about true friendship. She learns about her father The Great Geraldo Grey and that her elegant mother is very magical and told her lies about her father.

I loved the way the ending tied up loose ends and left a smile in your mind and heart. I think this book gives children hope, when they have self-doubts, when they don’t think themselves strong enough to fight for what they must, the message here is – Be good. Be Brave.

This whole book is delightfully written. Every word conjures up images of conflict and insecurities. I love this book. It’s a keeper, I gave it Five Stars on Goodreads, make you happy in your heart keeper.

I thought at first the dark side of the book might be too much for young adults, knowing some start very young and others may not be emotionally ready, however, I changed my mind. Be good. Be brave. Treasure it.

This is another cute book by Lois Wickstrom who is also a talented artist.
I can see children enjoying a book about a dinosaur coming to school. The images of the children simply accepting a big red Dinopoamus coming through their schoolroom window and joining in their lessons. The teacher and the other students showing him how to adapt because he couldn’t speak charming. They didn’t want him to be upset when he couldn’t join in. This is a reflection on how youngsters act when meeting something or someone different, they adapt. I liked it

Pocket Guide to Publishing: 100 Things Authors Should Know

John L. Koehler, Joe Coccaro

Publisher John Koehler and executive editor Joe Coccaro share 100 golden nuggets of wisdom that help answer the many reoccurring questions that authors have.

How collaborative should the process be with a publisher? What is a decent royalty percentage? How is the price of your book determined? Do you need to have an attorney look at a contract before you sign? What’s the difference between line and copy editing? How much and what kind of marketing should an author expect to do?

These questions and many more are answered in this pocket guide to publishing.

Jake in Space Robot Games by Candice Lemon Scott

Jake and his friends Skye, Rory and Milly are excited about going to the Robot Games. It’s the best reward for winning the Rocket Battles space car race. Their cyborg friend Henry joined them and he was acting even stranger than usual popping Gob Pop in his mouth. He’d just had an upgrade and when he ate too much Gob Pop his cheeks puffed out like balloons then he shut down. Henry was spoiling their day but Jake needed to help his friend. They had to take him to the mediRobot Games by Candice Lemon-Scottcal centre but he was too heavy to lift. The cleaner helped with his flying robotic cleaning machine.

Things started to get weird and the kids decided to find out what was going on after being shut out of the medical centre. The doctor and nurse at the medical centre acted weird too. What were they doing to Henry? Was it his upgrade? How could they rescue their friend and save the people being locked in the arena? Would the Robots take over?

Action-packed from the first sentence, Candice has written another page-turning thriller for young readers.

I read this quickly, this tale had some dramatic revelations, but it left a ‘life sucks – be competitive and get on with it’ message. As a result, it ended on a downer. Having not long ago read Jane Fonda’s memoir, which was a difficult read but left an upbeat message, ‘you can change and become who you should be’ message. I preferred her take on life, however, Sidney Poitier did have some pertinent and candid reflections on his life and how his parent’s advice made him relate what made him who he is. The measure of a man ended with his grief at losing a close friend to prostate cancer. Many of his observations of current societies rang true.
The Voyage Series – Voyage To The Bottom Of The Bathtub by Peter Boey

Erik is a wild boy who is always getting into trouble. He can hold his breath underwater for a very long time. His sister Stephanie is very protective of him, although, she gets sick of having to rescue him when he does stupid things.

They hate living in the Australian outback away from the sea. Erik is drawn to the ocean and hates that his father’s disability is the reason they live there. Erik finds an old diving suit hidden in their attic. Why was it there? Stephanie wears a pendant that has some significant background in their lives. They just don’t know what it is. The mysteries stack up. Why do they live where they do? How did their father suffer the injuries that cause him to be unable to work? They are always short of cash. Why they don’t they move to the coast to be near the hospital he has to visit?

Everything changes for the whole family when they are offered a house to live in on the coast rent-free. They move to the seaside. Then they discover many revelations about their father and his sea diving past. Entwined with a sunken treasure, mysterious maps, and a bathtub at the bottom of a river, Erik becomes obsessed with finding out more. Stephanie worries about him while she investigates the strange dress shop their mother has started working in. It’s old and full of antique furniture and relics. It’s next door to a dive shop on a hill away from the Main Street in town. Both the home and the job come courtesy of an anonymous benefactor.

What they discover takes them on a dangerous path.

Peter is a fellow Ten Penner who writes beautiful quirky stories and this book is clearly the start of an intriguing series. As a former teacher with an inquisitive mind, he has created a page-turner young adults will fly through with relish. I’m looking forward to the next instalment in the journey.

Jane Fonda has written this book in Acts. Like everything in her life, she sees as segments divided as a play or theatre. She writes articulately and the very first scene brings you into the moment of solitude and desperation she felt as a child. Peeking out from a cardboard box she was hiding in to snatch glimpses of her mother further along on the verandah of their home. Her mother was pinning butterflies and Jane was in her box rubbing saddle soap into her half sister’s Pan’s saddle.
My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
Her father was her idol and he loved him dearly. The photos of him are scattered throughout the book. His influence on her life from the start was powerful. Jane looked up to him, he looked anywhere else. Her mother was a troubled woman who was sent away. Then she committed suicide and Jane blamed her for all the wrongs in her world. Her father called her fat and Jane spent much of her youth trying to please him. If she could please him, she would make it better.
Henry Fonda remarried and Susan went from being her father’s mistress to her stepmother. She was loving and kind and good to Jane. Her father would replace Susan when she left him. Jane was very confused and hurt. She ran free as a child, pretending to be a cowboy to be courageous, not feminine. Her life was a series of run wild and free moments. In her teens, she went to Paris to live. The acting was something she didn’t really want to do, but it gave her some direction. She started to live independently with an income.

In her mind, her mother had failed her father. She would always put her own thoughts and feelings aside to make it better. To be a complete person she needed to be with a man. Much of the book delves in her marriages and her inadequate role as wife and mother. Of the times she didn’t take control and allowed men to control her.

The first marriage to Vadim, who was like a rock star in his own right in France. She bowed to his every whim. The birth of their daughter Vanessa was not what she’d expected. Vadim was a gambler and a womaniser. It didn’t last. Then she became an activist and her second husband Tom was already a campaigner. She learned a great deal about others during this marriage. Her career was on a high with movies like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Coming Home.’ He was going into politics. They worked together but mentally went separate ways over the years. Then Ted Turner burst into her world after she separated from Tom. He wanted to date her. It was far too early to think about dating another man. She said so. Ted Turner was patient and gave her time. Just the time she gave him. Then he steamrolled into her life. Jane fell in love with the maverick. This time it was Jane realising she had changed and wanted a complete relationship. She made demands of her husband, ones he wasn’t able to meet.

This was a challenging read. Jane Fonda is remarkably frank about her dysfunctional childhood family and how the death of her mother shaped her feelings towards men. Her father was her idol but even as she reached out to him when filming ‘On Golden Pond’ their fellow co-star Audrey Hepburn described Hank Fonda as ‘a cold fish’.

Her writing of this memoir was clearly cathartic. It helped her to explain the reasons she needed to be with a man to be complete. Satisfyingly, she discovered in her sixties that this was no longer true. Now we know there have been a couple more Acts lived in Jane Fonda’s life since the writing of this book when she was in her early sixties. She has continued to forge a life in movies suiting her age and attacking stereotypes of older women. What a wonderful career she continues to have.

There are some books you read that you know will take a place in your mind and heart and you’ll look back on as a reference for your own feelings and exploration of the world. This is one such book.

 

I’ll end this post on this review of Jane Fonda’s memoir as it compares well with Sidney Poitier’s. I’ve fifteen more books to finish off my year in books, that’s the next post (hopefully before Christmas).

Enjoy the silly season, stay safe. – Jill

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My Year in Books 2019 wrap up

This is my Goodreads year in books. I aimed to read 45 books having struggled to read 40 last year and I’m happy to say I managed to read 50 books and still have a couple more to go. These are the 50 books with my reviews or Goodreads blurb.

You have read 50 of 45 books in 2019.
YOUR 2019 BOOKS

The Rainbow Slide

by Roslyn Wiegand

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published
Laura is spending her school holidays at Ebony House Orphanage where her aunt takes care of orphaned girls. On a previous holiday, Laura had met Vicki, an orphan, who is always getting into trouble.
This is a lovely story of Laura and her best friend Vicki who have some amazing adventures in a magical world that exists underneath the Orphanage. The rainbow slide wasn’t easy to find and only those who are chosen could discover the entrance to the world of the Caveland People. Ebony House Orphanage is the backdrop and springboard for their adventure. The girls agree to help Yazmarin, the leader of the Caveland people, to fight against an enemy who enlists the help of someone working in the Orphanage. The girls learn to be self-reliant and strong while discovering where the dangers are and where the lost key to the Magical Vault is. I enjoyed this story and believe it has a market for young chapter book readers.
AnChook Shed Snake by Phil Cummingsother Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns book with an insight into two kids and their dad making a chook house, all the while a creepy snake messes up their plans. Dad knows when to do as he’s told, but plans don’t always work out.
What a fun book. Ollie is being left at home with his Grandmother looking after him for two whole weeks. His mum is a ‘Health and Safety’ Award winner and she is very protective of him. He can’t do much and neither can most of the people in town. Grandma Dangerous is hilarious and the adventures are sure to delight youngsters. I’m hoping my granddaughter reads a chapter each night.
What a delightful book. I love the story, Jack has a new friend called Tashi who tells him wonderful stories. Dad always asks the wrong questions. The illustrations are brilliant. I’m giving this book to my granddaughter for Christmas and I’m sure she’ll love it.
Jack continues hearing Tashi tell him all about his adventures, making ghost pie and it’s a very angry Baron. Tashi helps everyone in the village. These books are delightful, beautifully illustrated and are a great start to chapter book reading for youngsters. I’m thrilled to be able to give this book to our granddaughter.
It’s so wonderful to relive the joy of reading this classic book. It’s no wonder it’s become so popular in other mediums. The book is always best though.
It is wonderful to re-read classic books. What can I add to the praise for this wonderfully crafted story, without saying that I simply have to re-read and enjoy – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, today!
Another great Aussie yarn this time from Sally Morgan and Illustrated by Beth Norling. Again another fantastic Australian themed story for kids. Gran was on cyclone alert and insisted Danny help her put blankets at the window and batten down the hatches. He thought she was overreacting. Even Dad didn’t think a Type 1 Cyclone was anything to worry about. But Gran insisted they tie down the caravan and made sure everything in the yard was locked away. She packed an Esky full of sandwiches and water and made them all go into the bathroom when the alert hit the TV. It had gone from Type 1 to Type 3. This is a great book to show kids that it’s best to be prepared and to help out when others lose everything they have. Congratulations to Big W for making these brilliantly written stories available for free. That’s a give away that’s worth its salt, great promotion!

 

Bern and Cody live in a little outback town where they have lizard races every year. Uncle Mo comes to visit to eat mums great tucker and to bet on the lizard races. Who knew Cody and Bern’s pet Frill-neck Lizard called Tarantula could run so fast? Cody had a secret way of talking to Tarantula and that’s how he got him to run. This is a great little Aussie yarn. James Moloney is a wonderful writer. Thanks to Big W for providing real Australian stories for children free. Wonderful giveaways that give back to us and our children and grandchildren.

Howling on a Concrete Moon by Simone BaileyTess is a clever girl who loves English and writing. She’s shy around boys and her little sister, Julianne, is athletic and outgoing. This story is set in 1982 when she’s seventeen. As a twelve-year-old, the town hierarchy imposed a ridiculous curfew on teenagers in the town. Tess produced a pamphlet that became a rallying of the youngsters in town to protest. The ‘Resistance’ wasn’t flash but, it was her creation.

The town smart alec, Sebastian Keddie, was her pen pal for several years while he was away at boarding school. She liked that he was smart, and they could have a conversation, but she didn’t like him. When he became even more unpopular in town, the local cleric asked her to visit him in hospital. This could spell the end of her friendship with her best friend, Megan, whose older brother Greg, is good looking. She can’t fall for her best friend’s brother though, can she? Her other friends Tony Wilson and Barry Rizzo don’t mind so much her visiting Sebastian, even though he’s hated by almost everyone else in town.

Tess has a secret that she hasn’t told anyone about. The only way she’s been able to manage to live with the nightmare is to write it down. She begins her memoir, bans her dad from his office and his ball-type electric typewriter, and starts to figure out her own feelings. Sebastian twigs that she has a problem, he doesn’t know what it is, but he makes Tess talk to Megan about it.

Tess wants to protect Julianne. She blames herself for letting things get so bad. Why didn’t she speak up? How could this situation have gone on for so long? Why didn’t her parents realise what was happening? Why was it her sister, and not her, that suffered the indignity?

This is a cleverly constructed coming of age story, with scenes of awkward teenage embarrassing moments that everyone can relate to. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry as you share Tess’s emotional journey.

For the young adult readers in your life, get a copy of this book and put it under the Christmas tree. It’s a great read.

Joe lives on a farm in an isolated rural community. He’s sad because the teacher wants all the children to bring an animal to school to meet Davina Dabchick who’s on the telly but is making a special trip to their school.

He couCrikey! by Jane Carrollldn’t take a cow! It had to be better than Patsy’s dog Esmerelda who was a dog show champion. He puttered home on his motorbike when he found a little galah chick that had dropped out of a tree. He took the chick home and called it Crikey. He taught Crikey lots of tricks and was sure Davina Dabchick would award him best animal on the day. But things don’t always go as planned.

Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns are brilliant reads. Thanks to Big W for giving this book away as part of a promotion. Much better than useless points. Here the point is kids read and learn something too.

This is a lovely anthology of heartwarming Christmas stories. A Share Your Story collaboration with Michelle Worthington being both contributor and organiser. Well done, I giggled and smiled, and my heart was touched, shedding the odd tear of joy.
This is a great collection of Halloween themed scary – but not too scary stories. Michelle Worthington has brought together an array of talented and creative writers. These stories are a little bit creepy, thought-provoking and many leave you withSpooktacular Stories by Michelle Worthington a smile. The stories will entertain children in hospitals throughout Australia and has already become an Amazon Award winner. I’m proud to be a part of the troupe of authors who created these tales.

Lois is so good a putting a twist on old fairy tales. This one is a feel-good version of Goldilocks and the three bears. The emphasis is on Goldilocks found the door to the bears home had been left unlocked and that she went inside because she could smell the porridge. This Goldilocks was very clever and fixed things in the house. The bears were glad she came and invited her back anytime. Children can learn that things can be repaired not discarded. In this consumer age – six simple machines – is a valuable lesson. The artwork by Nicole Hehn is childlike in simplicity enhancing the overall effect of the book.

Candice has written a wonderful read for kids with friendship, and a crazy Pelican taking centre stage and saving the intrepid Eco Rangers. I look forward to reading this whole series and passing them on to my granddaughters to enjoy.

This is an amazing book, full of thought-provoking optimism and life-changing ideas. At first, I couldn’t see how anyone living in such frightening circumstances would be able to survive. I know people do but reading this book shows ways to recover and move forward. Such powerful stuff. I’ll post a full review shortly.

Saving Saturn by Candice Lemon-Scott

Another fast and action-packed boys-own thriller. Full review shortly.

 

Three-year-old Lenny is a new big sister to her baby brother Davey. Her mother, Cynthia Spink, is good at knowing when something is not right. She had a bad feeling about Davey. He was born ‘Perfectly Normal’. Six days after Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon Davey turned five and he had a Lenny's Book of Everything by Karen Foxleetantrum, and, his mother knew the bad thing had arrived.

Davey was a beautiful baby who enjoyed hearing his mother tell him about the story of his birth. Each chapter is headed with age and height – 5 1/2 years old 4ft 3inches December 74. He had grown too big already. Lenny loved her brother, but she didn’t like that he was different, that other kids loved his happy smile and charming ways, he stood out. She had to look after him.

Peter Leonard Spink was their father who came and went. He worked away. He was home until baby Davey said, Dada. Then he saw a job advert and he went again. Although Cynthia said he’d come back, this time when he left, he didn’t return. She raised Lenny and Davey on her own, leaving them with Mrs Gaspar from next door when she went to work.

The Encyclopedia arrived from Burrell’s Publishing Company Limited – ‘Our gift to you is the gift of knowledge.’ Lenny and Davey loved learning all the wonderous things in each volume delivered. Lenny loved insects and Davey loved Falcons and birds of prey.

Davey grew and grew. Their world changed.

This book is about growing up and making mistakes along the way. Of grief and moving on. It is a wonderful book.

Karen Foxlee is rapidly becoming a favourite author of mine. I loved ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ and ‘A Most Magical Girl’. This is quite different but equally enchanting. If you’ve never read YA’s books before, this book is a great place to start.

The Magical Secret of The Crystal Kingdom – this is an enchanting story. Full review shortly.

10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010 by Maggie AldersonTen Short Stories You Must Read in 2010

by Maggie Alderson (Goodreads Author), Georgia Blain,  Mark Dapin, Nick Earls, Alex Miller, Judy Nunn, Malla Nunn, Craig Silvey (Goodreads Author), Rachael TreasureChristos Tsiolkas No Review on Goodreads yet.

Two Wolves by Tristan BancksTwo Wolves by Tristan Bancks

Ben Silver is a kid that likes making up video stories. He’s always wanted to be a Policeman but doesn’t know if they’ll take overweight people. His sister Olive is seven and annoying. They are home alone because their parents are at work in the wreckers yard. When the police come to the door he doesn’t know what they mean when they say, ‘we’ll catch up with them.’ They want to talk to their parents. What’s going on? They’ve never had a holiday and now in a rush, they are driven off in the bush to a cabin that was Ben’s grandfathers’ place. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Everything feels wrong. Ben’s dad always calls him Cop, because he asks so many questions. When they argue Ben’s dad wrestles him to the ground. He’s humiliated and defeated. His parents are acting weirdly. The food is running low. They didn’t come prepared for a long stay in a cabin. They were city kids. Ben felt he had to be there to keep Olive’s spirits up. They were scared. Especially when the food ran out and their parents took off. Being on their own wasn’t unusual, but being where they were was.

Left to their own devices Ben and Olive explored the surrounding area and fell in love with the wild and rugged river and bush. What had happened? Why were they on the run from the law? None of it made sense, but, Ben was determined to find out.

The twists and turns in this story are artfully woven into the story of a teenage kid finding out who he is and what place in the world he exists in.

Read this book in two days. It gripped from the first page. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more of Tristan Bancks work.

The above is the first half of the 50 books I’ll post part two shortly, hopefully before Christmas (less than a week to go, folks). – Happy reading – Jill

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Wrap up – I’m a Winner!!

A few days after the end of November – so I’m a bit late in announcing this to the world – but, I’m a NaNoWriMo Winner again!! This time I edited and as I’m now only working one day a week, I had an advantage. I’m also learning from various Scrivener tutorials that I’ve got a long way to go before I press compile. I need to sort out my Front and Back matter and then I’m almost there. I’m determined to finally get it done.

Facebook post 24/11/2019

Hi everyone, NaNoWriMo I’ve just reached 50,550 words! I’m a winner! But I’m not finished my compare edit so will continue over the six days. Once it’s all done, and I’ve stopped tweaking, I’ll finally get Scrivener to compile it so that I can upload into IS. That’s the aim.

And feedback on the new NaNoWriMo Website, I liked after learning where the time and update buttons were. I liked the graph and the daily tally giving you what you achieved daily. I like the overall, where I write, when I write bits. I’d like the link to this webpage to show the tally daily as it did in previous years.

On the whole, I thank my friends in The Ten Penners, five of which also set to the task of working away on their novels during NaNoWriMo 2019. It’s a great experience and sets up good writing habits. Bye for now – Jill

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NaNoWriMo Update and Book Review

Day 21 and I’m going cross-eyed doing my compare edit so I took time out to do another book review. If you add this in I’ll call it half an hour as taking my total to 44,050 words. I’ll be back to editing after a good nights sleep.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Nov19

Title: Howling on a Concrete Moon

Author: Simone Bailey

Publisher: Zeus Publications

Tess is a clever girl who loves English and writing. She’s shy around boys and her little sister, Julianne, is athletic and outgoing. This story is set in 1982 when she’s seventeen. As a twelve-year-old, the town hierarchy imposed a ridiculous curfew on teenagers in the town. Tess produced a pamphlet that became a rallying of the youngsters in town to protest. The ‘Resistance’ wasn’t flash but, it was her creation.

The town smart alec, Sebastian Keddie, was her pen pal for several years while he was away at boarding school. She liked that he was smart, and they could have a conversation, but she didn’t like him. When he became even more unpopular in town, the local cleric asked her to visit him in hospital. This could spell the end of her friendship with her best friend, Megan, whose older brother Greg, is good looking. She can’t fall for her best friend’s brother though, can she? Her other friends Tony Wilson and Barry Rizzo don’t mind so much her visiting Sebastian, even though he’s hated by almost everyone else in town.

Tess has a secret that she hasn’t told anyone about. The only way she’s been able to manage to live with the nightmare is to write it down. She begins her memoir, bans her dad from his office and his ball-type electric typewriter, and starts to figure out her own feelings. Sebastian twigs that she has a problem, he doesn’t know what it is, but he makes Tess talk to Megan about it.

Tess wants to protect Julianne. She blames herself for letting things get so bad. Why didn’t she speak up? How could this situation have gone on for so long? Why didn’t her parents realise what was happening? Why was it her sister, and not her, that suffered the indignity?

This is a cleverly constructed coming of age story, with scenes of awkward teenage embarrassing moments that everyone can relate to. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry as you share Tess’s emotional journey.

For the young adult readers in your life, get a copy of this book and put it under the Christmas tree. It’s a great read.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Update – Day 20

I haven’t been updating daily but I’ve been going well. I’m editing and with the 1 hour for 1000 words equation I’m now up to 43,550 words. I’m on a final compare edit to fine-tune anything else I might have missed.

I’ve been reading and will post a full review of this book, ‘Howling on a Concrete Moon’ by Simone Bailey, shortly. This book is published through Zeus Publications and I work there one day a week.

My brief Goodreads review is:

This is a very interesting take on a coming of age story. What would drive a shy and intelligent girl who has an athletic and gregarious younger sister, to start writing her memoirs? I’ll post a full review shortly.

I’ve also read some great little Aussie novella’s by accomplished authors that were free giveaways from Big W. Thankfully, one store chain has the sense to offer something other than useless points to their customers and the youth of Australia.

Goodreads review: How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard by James Moloney, Illustrated by Simone Linehan (such action in images, loved them) –

Bern and Cody live in a little outback town where they have lizard races every year. Uncle Mo comes to visit to eat mums great tucker and to bet on the lizard races. Who knew Cody and Bern’s pet Frill-neck Lizard called Tarantula could run so fast? Cody had a secret way of talking to Tarantula and that’s how he got him to run. This is a great little Aussie yarn. James Moloney is a wonderful writer. Thanks to Big W for providing real Australian stories for children free. Wonderful giveaways that give back to us and our children and grandchildren.

Goodreads review – Cyclone Fever: by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Beth Norling

Another great Aussie yarn this time from Sally Morgan and Illustrated by Beth Norling. Again another fantastic Australian themed story for kids. Gran was on cyclone alert and insisted Danny help her put blankets at the window and batten down the hatches. He thought she was overreacting. Even Dad didn’t think a Type 1 Cyclone was anything to worry about. But Gran insisted they tie down the caravan and made sure everything in the yard was locked away. She packed an Esky full of sandwiches and water and made them all go into the bathroom when the alert hit the TV. It had gone from Type 1 to Type 3. This is a great book to show kids that it’s best to be prepared and to help out when others lose everything they have. Congratulations to Big W for making these brilliantly written stories available for free. That’s a giveaway that’s worth it’s salt in the promotion!

And lastly: Crikey! by Jane & Zannah Carrol, illustrated by Chris Edser

Joe lives on a farm in an isolated rural community. He’s sad because the teacher wants all the children to bring an animal to school to meet Davina Dabchick who’s on the telly but is making a special trip to their school.

He couldn’t take a cow! It had to be better than Patsy’s dog Esmerelda who was a dog show champion. He puttered home on his motorbike when he found a little galah chick that had dropped out of a tree. He took the chick home and called it Crikey. He taught Crikey lots of tricks and was sure Davina Dabchick would award him best animal on the day. But things don’t always go as planned.

Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns are brilliant reads. Thanks to Big W for giving this book away as part of a promotion. Much better than useless points. Here the point is kids read and learn something too.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping going on my editing and have worked out some of the formatting issues, fixed the Contents page with the corrected order. I’d added some chapters and not changed the index. Happy NaNoWriMo everyone! – Jill

 

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NaNoWriMo Update – Day 10

I’m going great guns and finding lots of things to change in a manuscript I thought was thoroughly edited. So worthwhile exercise all round. I’m up to 25,250 words edited using the 1 hour equals 1000 words formula. Well ahead of target, but the formatting was messy and I’m fixing it too. Maybe Scrivener will auto fix it but I’m taking no chances.

We had a great Melbourne Cup Day at Twin Towns with friends. Laughs and even a small win! We only bet once a year and that’s a good thing. We spent $24 to win $15.50!!

Also, started to think about Christmas. With our change of address, the Christmas cards will go out with our new address. I have contacted everyone on Facebook and phone lists but feel sure someone will be missed.

It’s less than SEVEN weeks to Christmas! Yikes! How did that happen? Happy NaNoWriMo writing or editing everyone! – Jill

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Book Review and NaNoWriMo update – Day 6

My NaNoWriMo total to the end of Day 5 is 13,750 words (13 3/4 hours) as I’m editing. Day 6 and I’ve nearly done another hour, now, as a diversion from the editing I typed up my handwritten book review. Here it is. Now on with the editing.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Nov19

Title: Lenny’s Book of Everything

Author: Karen Foxlee

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Three-year-old Lenny is a new big sister to her baby brother Davey. Her mother, Cynthia Spink, is good at knowing when something is not right. She had a bad feeling about Davey. He was born ‘Perfectly Normal’. Six days after Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon Davey turned five and he had a tantrum, and, his mother knew the bad thing had arrived.

Davey was a beautiful baby who enjoyed hearing his mother tell him about the story of his birth. Each chapter is headed with age and height – 5 1/2 years old 4ft 3inches December 74. He had grown too big already. Lenny loved her brother, but she didn’t like that he was different, that other kids loved his happy smile and charming ways, he stood out. She had to look after him.

Peter Leonard Spink was their father who came and went. He worked away. He was home until baby Davey said, Dada. Then he saw a job advert and he went again. Although Cynthia said he’d come back, this time when he left, he didn’t return. She raised Lenny and Davey on her own, leaving them with Mrs Gaspar from next door when she went to work.

The Encyclopedia arrived from Burrell’s Publishing Company Limited – ‘Our gift to you is the gift of knowledge.’ Lenny and Davey loved learning all the wonderous things in each volume delivered. Lenny loved insects and Davey loved Falcons and birds of prey.

Davey grew and grew. Their world changed.

This book is about growing up and making mistakes along the way. Of grief and moving on. It is a wonderful book.

Karen Foxlee is rapidly becoming a favourite author of mine. I loved ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ and ‘A Most Magical Girl’. This is quite different but equally enchanting. If you’ve never read YA’s books before, this book is a great place to start.

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