Review: Searching for Charlotte by Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell

Title: Searching for Charlotte

Author: Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell

Published: 1st November 2020, National Library of Australia

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Quikmark Media

++++++

My Thoughts:

“We come from a family of marvellous storytellers….Our lives were enriched by their stories…”

In 1841, the first Australian children’s book titled ‘A Mother’s Offering To Her Children’ was published, its author, ‘A Lady Long Resident in NSW’. It wasn’t until 1980 that the book was correctly attributed to Charlotte Waring Atkinson (Barton), the great-great-great-great grandmother of bestselling authors Kate Forsyth, and her sister, Belinda Murrell.

For Kate and Belinda, who grew up listening to the stories of their ancestors adventures, both before and after their arrival in Australia, Charlotte was already a figure of fascination. To discover she was Australia’s first children’s author only increased their admiration for her, and inspired the sisters two year search for the truth of the life she lived.

Searching for Charlotte is a hybrid narrative, a historical biography but one that is inextricably blended with the folklore of the sisters family history, and their own journey of discovery. Only so many questions can be answered definitively with what remains of the past…records, letters, diary entries, all of which Kate and Belinda draw on, but to fill in the gaps the sisters take some liberties, some of which comes from the stories passed down through generations, some from the informed speculation of the two women.

I enjoyed the process of learning of Charlotte’s life, and her legacy, which includes a daughter who earned the distinction of being the first Australian born woman to have a novel published. It’s unsurprising then that Kate and Belinda take such pride in their relationship to Charlotte, who seems to have been an intelligent, spirited, and courageous woman who faced many challenges, particularly in the latter half of her life as the wife, and then widow, of James Atkinson in the NSW colony.

A narrative that reveals adventure, tragedy and triumph, country and culture, folklore and family, I found Searching For Charlotte to be an engaging and enlightening read.

++++++

Available from NLA Publishing

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia

Also by Kate Forsyth reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: The Searcher by Tana French

Title: The Searcher

Author: Tana French

Published: 5th November 2020, Viking UK

Read: November 2020 courtesy PenguinUK/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Searcher is a compelling stand alone mystery from Irish author Tana French, best known for her Dublin Murder Squad series.

Upon the end of his marriage and his retirement from a twenty-five career in the Chicago P.D., Cal Hooper decides to move to a rural village in the west of Ireland where he intends to do little else than to renovate his dilapidated farmhouse, fish from the stream, and walk the mountains. He finds the relaxed pace of his new life, enhanced by a regular craic with his neighbour, Mart, and the occasional drink in the local pub, suits him, though he misses his adult daughter. But Cal can’t quite shake the habits of a lifetime and when thirteen-year-old Trey Reddy begs for his help, he reluctantly agrees to look into the disappearance of the desperate kid’s older brother.

While it’s true that this is not a fast paced thriller, I was nevertheless drawn in, and held captive by the compelling characterisation, atmosphere and plot of The Searcher.

The first half of the book focuses largely on establishing and developing the characters that play an important role in the story. I liked Cal, a burnt-out ex-cop who doesn’t want, or need, much. He’s fine being on his own but not defensive about it, as shown by his willingness to indulge his garrulous neighbour, Mart. His patience with Trey, who is a smart, fierce kid from a poor family with a bad reputation, is admirable, and the relationship French develops between Cal and Trey is a true strength of the novel.

The community of Ardnakelty is a character in itself. I was impressed with French’s ability to effortlessly evoke the settings within her novel, from Noreen’s general store and Sean Og’s pub, to Cal’s isolated, ramshackle farmhouse surrounded by fields, and woods, and peat-bog mountains. There is a great deal lurking below the surface of this rural idyll, and its seemingly straightforward farming folk, with surprises that break through when least expected.

Trey’s brother, Brendan, has been missing for several months by the time Trey asks Cal for his help. No one else seems concerned by the absence of the nineteen-year-old, the assumption being he left voluntarily, either because he’d had enough of life at home, or perhaps to avoid some sort of trouble. Cal is instinctively wary of pushing too hard for information as his investigation begins, but in such an insular community his interest is immediately noted, and as Cal tugs at the threads that will unravel the mystery of Brendan’s fate, he draws trouble to his doorstep.

With its escalating tension, unexpected twists, and flashes of violence, I found the plot to be wholly satisfying, but it’s less the action, and more the complex and nuanced behaviours of the characters that are truly captivating. Unfolding in evocative prose with an Irish lilt, at a deliberate, absorbing pace The Searcher is a compulsive read.

+++++++

Available from Penguin UK

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

Another week has disappeared into the void. I was on track until Wednesday, and then I got distracted by other, boring but necessary things, some of which took a ridiculous amount of time to deal with given the paltry gains.

I however am to blame for my behaviour on the weekend, while finishing up a task I thought I’d watch an episode or two of Sanditon before getting on with my reading, only to find myself entirely sucked in, and I watched the entire season into the early hours of the morning.

Im sure everyone else would object, but I really need an extra week tacked onto November.

Don’t forget I need your help- please vote in my poll for your preferred nonfiction topics

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

The Shearer’s wife by Fleur McDonald

The Lady Brewer of London by Karen Brooks

The Searcher by Tana French

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New Posts…

Review: Anti-Social: The Secret Diary if an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer by Nick Pettigrew

Review: The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

Review: The Lady Brewer of London by Karen Brooks

AusReading Month 2020 – Promotion

Bookshelf Bounty

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What I’m Reading This Week…

They find her just as the sun is beginning to rise in the early morning mist. They had begun at dawn, the group of searchers keen to get going. A missing child spurred everyone on. In the end, it was a flash of colour, a bright neon pink that caught her eye. They had been looking for pink.

Nothing tests your faith like being a mother. The first time your children walk to school alone, their first sleepover, when they finally fly the nest. As a parent, you have to believe that everything will be OK.

It’s why, when Lydia’s sixteen-year-old daughter Zoe goes on a school camping trip, she has no idea of the horrors that will unfold. It’s why, when Lydia gets a call saying that her daughter has disappeared, she refuses to give up.

As she searches the mountains, her voice hoarse from calling Zoe’s name, she imagines finding her. She envisions being flooded with relief as she throws her arms around her child, saying, ‘you gave us such a scare’. She pictures her precious girl safely tucked in bed that evening.

It’s why, when they find Zoe’s body, Lydia can barely believe it. It is unthinkable. Her little girl has gone.

Something terrible happened, she is sure of it. Something made Zoe get out of her sleeping bag in the middle of the night, walk out of the warmth and safety of the cabin, into the darkness of the mountains. Driven by the memory of her youngest child, Lydia needs to find out the truth. What kind of mother would she be if she didn’t?

A heartbreaking, redemptive and beautifully crafted novel which brings to life a mother’s worst nightmare, questioning how well we ever really know the people we love the most. Fans of Jodi Picoult, Kerry Fisher and Liane Moriarty will be blown away by this stirring, unforgettable tale.

xxxxxx

In the summer of 1914, vigneron Jerome Mea heads off to war, certain he’ll be home by Christmas. His new bride Sophie Delancré, a fifth generation champenoise, is determined to ensure the forthcoming vintages will be testament to their love and the power of the people of Épernay, especially its strong women who have elevated champagne to favourite beverage of the rich and royal worldwide. But as the years drag on, authorities advise that Jerome is missing, considered dead.

When poison gas is first used in Belgium by the Germans, British chemist Charles Nash jumps to enlist, refusing to be part of the scientific team that retaliates. A brilliant marksman, Charlie is seen by his men as a hero, but soon comes to feel that he’d rather die himself than take another life. When he is injured, he is brought to the champagne cellars in Reims, where Sophie has set up an underground hospital, and later to her mansion house in Épernay, now a retreat for the wounded.

As Sophie struggles with strong feelings for her patient, she also battles to procure the sugar she needs for her 1918 vintage and attracts sinister advances from her brother-in-law. However, nothing can prepare her for the ultimate battle of the heart, when Jerome’s bloodstained jacket and identification papers are found in Belgium, and her hopes of ever seeing her husband alive again are reignited.

From the killing fields of Ypres to the sun-kissed vineyards of southern France, The Champagne War is a heart-stopping adventure about the true power of love and hope to light the way during war.

xxxxxx

A suspenseful new police procedural from a former French police officer and one of the original writers on the hit series Spiral

A corpse that wakes up on the mortuary slab.

A case of spontaneous human combustion.

There is little by the way of violent crime and petty theft that Capitaine Victor Coste has not encountered in his fifteen years on the St Denis patch – but nothing like this.

Though each crime has a logical explanation, something unusual is afoot all the same, and Coste is about to be dragged out of his comfort zone. Anonymous letters addressed to him personally have begun to arrive, highlighting the fates of two women, invisible victims whose deaths were never explained. Just two more blurred faces among the ranks of the lost and the damned.

Olivier Norek’s first novel draws on all his experience as a police officer in one of France’s toughest suburbs – the same experience he drew on as a writer for the hit TV series Spiral.

Translated from the French by Nick Caistor

xxxxxxx

Sophia is afraid lockdown will put her life on pause – just as she was she was going to put herself out there and meet someone. When the first clap for the keyworkers rings out around her courtyard, she’s moved to tears for all kinds of reasons.

Jack is used to living life to the fullest, and is going stir-crazy after just days isolating. Until that night he hears a woman crying from the balcony beneath his. He strikes up a conversation with the stranger and puts a smile back on her face.

Soon their balcony meetings are the highlight of Jack and Sophia’s days. But even as they grow closer together, they’re always kept apart.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Bookshelf Bounty

Every third Sunday of the month I share my Bookshelf Bounty – what’s been added to my TBR tile recently for review from publishers, purchases or gifts.

This month I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)



For Review (ebook)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)





AusReading Month 2020: Promotion

In it’s 8th year, AusReading Month is hosted by Brona’s Books. This year the posting themes are Celebration, Anticipation and Promotion.

View my Celebration post and my Anticipation posts

Promotion

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is the way in which book and author events have moved online, granting readers an unprecedented level of access to the publishing world.

I was able to ‘attend’ The International Edinburgh Book Festival, and The Library of Congress National Book Festival, I’ve been to book launches with a variety authors from all over the world, I’ve taken part in Q&A’s, and watched lots of interviews.

Verushka at Pop.Edit.Lit alerted me to an upcoming event featuring both Australian and international guests she is helping to organise, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share it with you since it starts tomorrow!

The Read3r’z Re-Vu Virtual Book Festival will include a collection of different panels that will run from 22 November to 6 December. There are romance, crime, fantasy, cosplay panels and even a poetry slam!

All events are FREE but you must book your ticket. It’s easy, just visit the Linktree, click on the panel you are interested in attending, and register.

NOTE: Times are Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time, you can use TimeandDate.com or similar to convert time zones if needed

Read3r’z Re-Vu Virtual Book Festival Schedule of Events

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22 November, 7:30pm, Zoom: Indie authors panel with guests Alysha King, G.R. Thomas, Serene Conneeley discussing their experiences as Indie authors, their published work and road to publication.

24 November, 1pm, Instagram: Live cross Q&A with author Lani Forbes author of ‘The Seventh Sun’ and upcoming release ‘The Jade Bones’ Lani will be crossing live to us via Instagram from Idaho, U.S.

25 November, 7pm, Zoom: Romance writer’s spotlight with guests Sally Thorne and Amanda Bouchet discussing their writing experience in romance (Amanda branching out into fantasy), their published works and their tips for writers.

27 November, 7pm, Zoom: Cosplay Delights – presented by members of Read3r’z Re-Vu: Crystal Oros and James Woodley of Axious Industries and Cosplay enthusiast Melinda Mandla A session for all to learn about cosplay design, process, cosplay props and inspirations.

28 November, 4pm, Zoom: Diversity in Books with bloggers Annie McCann, Maisie Louise Dickson and Ally Gil discussing importance of diversity in books, reviewing books with diverse voices and importance of wide reading with reading recommendations.

29 November, 7pm, Zoom: Poetry slam – open mic night with all poets to share their poems – max. 3min per poem.

30 November, 6:30pm, Zoom: Book release celebrations with authors Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell celebrating the release of their new book “Searching for Charlotte”. Annie to moderate

1 December, 7pm, Instagram: Live Q&A with comic artist Queenie Chan discussing the process of publishing comics and graphic novels: illustration, design and creativity + Queenie’s experience as a guest at major conventions and tips for rising artists.

2 December, 7pm, Zoom: Book launch celebrations with author Sam Hawke – celebrating the release of her second book of her Poison War series: ‘Hollow Empire’.

4 December, 7pm, Zoom: An evening with Sulari Gentill and Emma Viskic discussing their books and writing experience, awards and upcoming releases.

5 December, 12:30pm, Zoom: Crime writer’s spotlight guests Benjamin Stevenson, Sharon Doering and Chris Hammer – discussing their writing experience in crime, their published works and tips for writers.

6 December, 10am, Zoom: YA Fantasy special with guest authors from the U.S including Maria V. Snyder and Neal Shusterman discussing published works, writing fantasy, their tips for writers.

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Remember, All events are FREE but you must book your ticket. It’s easy, just visit the Linktree, click on the panel you are interested in attending, and register.

Review: The Lady Brewer of London by Karen Brooks

Title: The Lady Brewer of London

Author: Karen Brooks

Published: 10th November 2020, William Morrow

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy William Morrow/Edelweiss

++++++

My Thoughts:

When Anneke Sheldrake’s father is lost at sea she is horrified to learn that she and her younger siblings have been left with nothing. Desperate to keep what remains of her family together, she strikes a bold bargain with her father’s employer and, armed with her late mother’s family recipes, daringly chooses to go into business as a brewer of ale. Despite being ostracised by most of her family and friends, and repeatedly harassed and intimidated by the local Abbot and his cronies whose monopoly of the ale trade is threatened, Anneke’s brew steadily wins favour amongst the community. Just as success seems within her reach, Anneke is targeted in a malicious attack that razes nearly everything she holds dear. Forced to flee for her life, Anneke is nevertheless determined to begin again and finds an unlikely ally in a London brothel owner. With courage and hard work, Anneke, taking the name Anna de Winter, slowly rebuilds her life and business, until the horrors of her past once again threaten to destroy her.

A saga of betrayal, love, tragedy, courage and triumph, The Lady Brewer Of London is an ambitious historical drama by author, Karen Brooks.

Anneke is strong protagonist, with spirit and convictions uncommon for her time. Despite harrowing personal tragedy she finds the strength to rise above it and carry on, refusing to be cowed by her persecutors. Her courage, loyalty and determination are admirable qualities and ensure the reader is firmly on her side, willing her to triumph.

Anneke’s loyal cast including her sweet sister, Betje, the brash Alyson, and the dashing hero, Lord Leander Rainford, are eminently appealing. The villains, including Anneke’s spiteful cousin, a raft of spiritually corrupt monks, and her inescapable enemy are infuriating and often terrifying.

Though set in medieval England, the story begins in ‘The year of Our Lord 1405 in the sixth year of the reign of Henry IV’, I didn’t get a true sense of the period. It seemed not that much different from Georgian or Victorian times, though to be fair it mattered little as the details were consistent and the setting well grounded. I was surprised at how interested I was in the history of the brewery industry, and I finally discovered the difference between beer and ale. (I don’t drink either so had never thought about it before)

The writing is articulate and the first person perspective works well. The pacing was reasonable but I did feel the story, at well over 500 pages, was too long overall. I was tempted to skim at times, particularly as the plot was, though well thought out, generally predictable, with the second half of the story essentially mirroring the events of the first.

Nevertheless, The Lady Brewer of London was a satisfying read and I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy the drama and romance of sweeping historical fiction driven by a strong heroine.

++++++

Available from HarperCollins US

Or your preferred retailer via Indiebound I Book Depository I Booko

* Published in Australia as The Brewer’s Tale *


Also by Karen Brooks reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

Title: The Shearer’s Wife {Detective Dave Burrows}

Author: Fleur McDonald

Published: 3rd November, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Shearer’s Wife is the fourth Australian rural mystery novel by Fleur McDonald to feature Detective Dave Burrows, and the seventh in which he appears, but can nevertheless be read as a stand-alone.

The Shearer’s Wife is divided between two timelines, the first of which is set in the present day. When the Australian Federal Police arrive in Barker to arrest an elderly resident for drug distribution, Dave and his colleague Senior Constable Jack Higgins are convinced that Essie must be acting under duress. Warned off from interfering in the case, Dave asks Jack’s girlfriend, journalist Zara Ellison, to investigate.

Zara, while trying to ignore her symptoms of PTSD, throws herself into the case, looking for a reason Essie would risk the well-being of her young granddaughter by dealing drugs, and in doing so also uncovers a forty year old secret.

The second timeline tells the story of itinerant shearer, Ian Kelly and his very pregnant wife, Rose, who are heading to a station outside of Barker in 1980. When Rose goes into labour prematurely and gives birth to twins, she insists the new family remain in town but, unwilling to settle down, Ian chooses to leave them behind.

I enjoyed the pacing of both timelines, though Essie’s situation is the more compelling of the two storylines. The clues are provided early on to unravel the mystery of Essie’s motive, which is not unexpected, but does result in some moments of suspense, and a twist that endangers the lives of several of the characters is filled with tension. The fate of Rose and her family ties in at the end, providing a moving and uplifting conclusion.

I really like the character of Dave, an ethical, empathetic man who has a wonderful relationship with his wife, Kim. As a police officer in a small rural South Australian town, Dave occasionally finds himself walking a fine line between the professional and personal, but he is incensed when accused by the AFP of being myopic. He’s willing to risk his career in order to see justice is done, but not break the law.

One of the main issues explored in The Shearer’s Wife is the effects of PTSD. After the trauma of losing her father in a horrific car accident, and then her brother from a brief battle with cancer just six months previously (in Starting From Now) Zara is struggling, but unwilling to admit it. McDonald’s portrayal of Zara’s emotional state is thoughtful and sensitive, and addresses the general reluctance of people to seek help.

An engaging and entertaining novel, I spent an afternoon pleasantly immersed in The Shearer’s Wife, and I look forward to the next book to feature Dave Burrows and the community of Barker.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Also by Fleur McDonald reviewed at Book’d Out 

Review: Anti-Social: The Secret Diary of an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer by Nick Pettigrew

Title: Anti-Social: The Secret Diary of an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer

Author: Nick Pettigrew

Published: 23rd July 2020, Century

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy PenguinUK/ Netgalley

+++++++

My Thoughts:

I’d never heard of an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer before seeing this book, but I was intrigued by the existence of such an occupation. It turns out that in the UK, ASB officers are employed by various organisations to help manage and/or curb anti-social behaviour.

Anti-social behaviour is:

(a) conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person  (b) conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises (c) conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person 

Nick Pettigrew worked for a council managed organisation that provided low-cost housing for those in need for almost twenty years. As an ASB officer, his role was to investigate and take action regarding incidents of anti-social behaviour affecting the tenants in the approximately 3,000 properties he was responsible for.

Such incidents could vary widely, from complaints about noise, to teens hanging out in stairwells, from drug affected persons passed out in doorways, to concerns about domestic violence. Nick would investigate, and then decide on a course of action, which might mean doing nothing; or involving specific agencies like the police, mental health teams, or social workers. He might recommend the installation of CCTV, send a ‘cease and desist’ letter to a tenant, recommend an injunction via court action, or take steps towards eviction. Some incidents could be resolved swiftly, others could take months, or longer.

Presented in a diary format, with heavy use of black humour, Nick relates the events of his days over a period of about a year. The book includes tales of several of his clients that are variously heartbreaking, tragic, absurd, and infuriating, including a vulnerable woman manipulated by strangers into sharing her home with them, a schizophrenic with a crude vocabulary she wielded against her neighbours when she was off her meds, a man who considered carol singers to be an unruly gang, and an elderly Nazi paedophile who disclosed his predilections to his neighbours whenever he wanted to be rehoused.

Nick also writes of the increasing difficulties of his job in the face of UK ‘austerity’ policies that have affected the entire network of social services. With anti-social behaviour on the rise, the already under-funded, under-resourced, and under-valued agencies that serve the disenfranchised, are stretched thinner every year. Nick’s anger at this state of affairs is palpable, and entirely understandable.

It’s no wonder that in the role of an ASB officer, Nick’s own issues with anxiety and depression eventually worsened until he felt he had no choice but to resign. Describing lives plagued by poverty, trauma, mental illness, addiction, racism, loneliness, and family dysfunction, among other issues, Nick laments he grew weary of being able to do nothing but treat some of the symptoms of society’s ills, rather than affect real change.

Raw, honest, funny, and disturbing, Anti-Social is an insightful glimpse into the work of an ASB officer, and the lives of their clients.

++++++

Available from Penguin UK

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Book Depository I Booko

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon


The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

Aleah’s exams are done! Results come in mid December. She received another early entry offer to the other university she was interested in, but she has decided on attending University of Western Sydney. We finally found shoes at the very last store we went to, navy instead of the silver we wanted though. Her formal (prom) is on Tuesday night.

My parents organised a wonderful lunch party for our 25th Wedding Anniversary, even recreating my bouquet. It was also lovely to spend time with family and friends.

With one thing and another, the week got away from me a bit, this month is going so fast!

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

The Naked Farmer by Ben Brooksby

Anti-Social by Nick Pettigrew

The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

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New Posts…

Review: Flying the Nest by Rachael Johns

Review: Truths From an an Unreliable Witness by Fiona O’Loughlin

It’s Time For Australian Reading Hour!

Review: Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

Review: The Naked Farmer by Ben Brooksby

AusReading Month 2020: Anticipation

Nonfiction November 2020 Week #3- Ask the Expert *Please vote in my poll*

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What I’m Reading This Week…

An unforgettable historical tale set in fifteenth-century England of a brilliant woman’s defiance, courage, and ingenuity—from the author of The Locksmith’s Daughter and The Chocolate Maker’s Wife.

1405: The daughter of a wealthy merchant, Anneke Sheldrake suddenly finds her family bankrupted when her father’s ship is swept away at sea. Forced to find a way to provide for herself and her siblings, Anneke rejects an offer of marriage from a despised cousin and instead turns to her late mother’s family business: brewing ale.

Armed with her mother’s recipes, she then makes a bold deal with her father’s aristocratic employer, putting her home and family at risk. Thanks to her fierce determination, Anneke’s brew wins a following and begins to turn a profit. But her rise threatens some in her community and those closest to her are left to pay the price.

As Anneke slowly pieces her life together again, she finds an unlikely ally in a London brothel owner. Determined not only to reclaim her livelihood and her family, Anneke vows not to let anyone stand in the way of her forging her own destiny.

xxxxxxx


For almost 140 years, the author of Australia’s first book for children was a mystery. Known only by the description ‘a Lady Long Resident in New South Wales’, she was the subject of much speculation. It was not until 1980, after a decade of sleuthing, that legendary bibliographer Marcie Muir gave her a name: Charlotte Waring Atkinson. And not only a name, but an extensive creative family history, connecting her to two of the nation’s celebrated contemporary children’s writers, Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell.

To Forsyth and Murrell, Atkinson (also known as Barton) is great-great-great-great grandmother and the subject of the stories they grew up on—part of a thread of creative women that runs through the history of their family. Hers is one of the great lost stories of Australian history: a tale of love, grief, violence and triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.

In Searching for Charlotte, Forsyth and Murrell tell Charlotte’s story along with that of their own journey to discover her. In an intriguing account, the sisters join the reader in reacting to Charlotte’s actions: wondering what could have motivated certain choices; admiring the strength of spirit that pushed Charlotte through turmoil in the Australian colonies; and reviling attitudes that were common to the mid-1800s but are abhorrent in the twentieth century.

The extraordinary, long-buried life story of Australia’s earliest published children’s author, Searching for Charlotte combines elements of biography, recreation of history and rediscovery of family history. It is a sometimes confronting but ultimately heartwarming journey into the story of a family with writing in its blood.

xxxxxxx

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

Our greatest living mystery writer weaves a masterful tale of breath-taking beauty and suspense, asking what we sacrifice in our search for truth and justice, and what we risk if we don’t.

xxxxxx

They find her just as the sun is beginning to rise in the early morning mist. They had begun at dawn, the group of searchers keen to get going. A missing child spurred everyone on. In the end, it was a flash of colour, a bright neon pink that caught her eye. They had been looking for pink.

Nothing tests your faith like being a mother. The first time your children walk to school alone, their first sleepover, when they finally fly the nest. As a parent, you have to believe that everything will be OK.

It’s why, when Lydia’s sixteen-year-old daughter Zoe goes on a school camping trip, she has no idea of the horrors that will unfold. It’s why, when Lydia gets a call saying that her daughter has disappeared, she refuses to give up.

As she searches the mountains, her voice hoarse from calling Zoe’s name, she imagines finding her. She envisions being flooded with relief as she throws her arms around her child, saying, ‘you gave us such a scare’. She pictures her precious girl safely tucked in bed that evening.

It’s why, when they find Zoe’s body, Lydia can barely believe it. It is unthinkable. Her little girl has gone.

Something terrible happened, she is sure of it. Something made Zoe get out of her sleeping bag in the middle of the night, walk out of the warmth and safety of the cabin, into the darkness of the mountains. Driven by the memory of her youngest child, Lydia needs to find out the truth. What kind of mother would she be if she didn’t?

A heartbreaking, redemptive and beautifully crafted novel which brings to life a mother’s worst nightmare, questioning how well we ever really know the people we love the most. Fans of Jodi Picoult, Kerry Fisher and Liane Moriarty will be blown away by this stirring, unforgettable tale.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Nonfiction November 2020 Week #3: Ask the Expert

This week is being hosted by Rennie @ WhatsNonfiction

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

I’m being a little cheeky today, but I need your help!

In 2021, I will be hosting the second year of the Nonfiction Reader Challenge. The challenge is pretty simple – select, read and review a book from any of 12 categories during the year. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format. There are three goals to select from: Nonfiction Nipper : Read 3 books, from any category: Nonfiction Nibbler : Read 6 books, from any category; Nonfiction Know-It-All : Read 12 books, one for each category

I have already selected eight of the category’s for next years challenge.

* Travel * Essay Collections * Self-Help * Published in 2021 * Biography * Disease * Oceanography * Hobbies

I’d like your help to choose four more, by selecting up to four of the topics you prefer in the poll below – even if you don’t plan on participating in the challenge!

I’d also really appreciate it if you shared titles you would recommend for any of the category’s in the comments. Perhaps you have read a fascinating biography, or a useful self-help book, or a thought-provoking collection of essays, that I can then recommend to challenge participants when the challenge is launched!

I don’t want you to go away empty handed though so here are six nonfiction titles being released in 2021 that fall into one of the above category’s.


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