Sorry Day by Coral Vass

Published: 1st May 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
National Library of Australia
Illustrator: Dub Leffler
Pages: 34
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Sorry Day acknowledges the past and shows a willingness to make things right. The story commemorates both the momentous speech made by the Prime Minister of Australia to say sorry to the indigenous people for past abuse and to also recognise the decades of abuse suffered by the Stolen Generation. Told through the eyes of a young girl participating in the ceremony today and, in sepia colours, the eyes of the stolen children in the past.

The anniversary of the apology is actually in February but it is recognised in May as part of National Sorry Day, a day first held on 26 May, 1998. In 2008 then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave the apology that indigenous people had been rightly asking for for years, the one that apologised to the stolen generation for the way they had been treated by the government for decades.

I remember vividly watching this on TV, I cried then and I cried now. This is a remarkable book as it celebrates the momentous speech by Kevin Rudd but it also shows the past and the horrors indigenous people had to endure. Vass uses Rudd’s real words and she weaves it into this young girl’s story, not quite understanding the impact, but we see it through her mum and the adults around her.

As one story unfolds about that wonderful February day, it is shadowed by the realities of the history those words represent. The contrast from page to page is a stark reminder and a beautifully heartbreaking juxtaposition about the two eras, and what the importance of the speech means. In the present a young girl loses the hand of her mother and is lost momentarily in the crowd, in the past, young children lose their parents forever.

I loved that each page threw up into a different time in history. From the lawns of Canberra, to the creeks where children hide in terror, then back to watching the speech. It is such a powerful move to bring the voices of the past into the present.

Leffler uses colour to show the differences between eras, colours for the present, with sepia depicting the past. The images are vivid and emotive and coupled with Vass’ words and my own understanding of history, it is incredibly clever to see these two moments side by side.

What I found interesting was the information included at the back about the history from the stolen generation to Prime Minster Keating in the 90s to Rudd in 2008. As I said, Sorry Day is recognised every single year and it is important that people acknowledge and understand what it means.

More people need to remember this speech, remember the impact it had, but also remember why it needed to be said in the first place and wonder just why it took so long to be said. This is the ideal book to tell the story in an impactful yet gentle way and it is certainly one that can spark great discussions.

You can purchase Sorry Day via the following

BooktopiaDymocks

 WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Once by Kate Forsyth

Published: 1st April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Wombat Books
Illustrator: Krista Brennan
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Once, a long time ago
My grandmother’s grandmother
Travelled far, far across the seas

Kate Forsyth tells tales of her ancestors’ lives in Australia in this beautifully illustrated picture book. From the first perilous journey to a new land, to the great wars and civil rights movements, readers live through key moments in Australia’s fascinating history.

This is a beautiful story about the power of stories and the impact they have on those who listen. Forsyth tells us the story of her family and the stories they passed down as they lived through all the important moments in Australia’s history, not to mention the strength of the women who experienced them. It is a beautifully simple tale about telling your own story, and the power your own story has.

Brennan’s stunning illustrations accompany Forsyth’s words with colour and vibrancy. The full page, complex scenes are beautiful and filled with rich colours, each page telling its own visual story as well.

There are not many words or rhyme, but there is a repetition and a pattern that becomes more powerful the further the story progresses. It makes you realise that in a few generations the world can change, but it also is brought to life through those who remember it.

Forsyth’s words are simple but impactful and evoke a lot of meaning. I loved that we see the generations of now and long ago, cherished and remembered through a connection of stories.

You can purchase Once via the following

Dymocks | Amazon Aust

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson

Lightning Tracks (#1) by A. A. Kinsela

Published: 1st November 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Plainspeak Publishing
Pages: 260
Format: ebook
Genre: YA Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Nick isn’t a warrior. He knows some basic karate, but that’s it.

So when an assassin turns up to settle a blood debt, Nick narrowly escapes with his life. In his haste, he unwittingly flees to Korelios, a place he thought existed only in his eccentric aunt’s ancient legends.

All too soon, he finds himself caught in the middle of a war, and he must make an impossible choice: do his duty or follow his heart.

His choice will decide the fate of an entire civilisation.

Note: I was asked for a review by the author. 

I was curious about this story because while there were some elements that I was wary about, I was also intrigued. Fantasy and I have a love/hate relationship so while I was open minded, I was preparing myself. Thankfully my worry was all for nought because this is a wonderful Australian fantasy. It is refined and simple yet has a detailed and engaging story that has all the elements that makes a fantasy a fantasy.

Kinsela keeps the fantasy world elements close to our own, Korelios is another realm overlapping our own world with differences but a familiarity as well. Kinsela herself calls it an alternative history/fantasy novel and I think that is an apt description. The world is vast, made up of different cultures, languages, and has its own important history. The Australian landscape plays backdrop to both realms which was something that I really enjoyed. The characters may speak different languages and not actually be in Australia, but they still have emus, goannas and kangaroos. The world reflects Australia and as an Australian it is wonderful to see the Australian environment be able to be used in this type of storytelling, it is suited for this genre quite well.

Our introduction to the world is told through dialogue, character observation and thoughts, as well as natural story progression. Kinsela cleverly avoids the long paragraphs of description and world building and instead weaves it naturally through the story where the reader can piece together new and old information and construct the world in their mind. The world is rich and complicated but it is easy to understand.

Nick is a character I fell in love with right away. His voice is perfect and his personality is one of a defender more often than a fighter which I loved. Nick is a good kid but has had troubles and his loyalty is a blessing and curse. It’s not just Nick, all of Kinsela’s characters are well developed and from their first introduction she captures their voice and you know who they are. I was already so engrossed in Nick’s story that when it changed points of view I was surprised, certainly intrigued, but it adds a whole extra level of storytelling and suspense.

One thing I was not expecting was to still be so engaged continuously and especially at the end. Kinsela maintains an ideal pace that keeps the story flowing naturally but not fast enough that the reader feels like things are being brushed over. Conflicts are raised and resolved and new ones form in suspenseful and captivating ways while the longer story stretches out. I will admit I had reservations with some elements but Kinsela uses her characters well and in ways that feel true to who they are.

This story was full of delightful surprises and I cannot wait until the second book comes out because I would love to see where Kinsela takes these characters and this wonderful story.

You can purchase Lightning Tracks via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

AWW 2019 Update: Jan-Mar

March has ended which marks the first quarter of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. As I mentioned in my starting post I am aiming for 30 this year and I am going really well looking at the numbers but also feel like I could be doing better since so many of these books are picture books. I am not deterred, however, I will use this pit stop as a boost and it gives me a goal to strive for in the next quarter. It’s not only picture books though, I have read a range of books by a variety of women so far with non fiction and fiction thrown into the mix.

My reviews are fairing a lot better, a lot of these books have reviews scheduled to post in the coming weeks so I will update their links on the next update. For now though, it’s a start and definitely a motivator for a better number next quarter. I can already see my goal being raised so that’s a nice bonus.

AWW19 BOOKS Jan-Mar

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – Review

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – Review

The Good Girl Stripped Bare by Tracey Spicer – Review

It’s Not Scribble to Me by Kate Ritchie

December’s Wish by Karly Lane – Review

The Greatest Gift by Rachel Johns – Review

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

It’s A Long Way to the Shop by Heidi McKinnon

Did You Take the B from my _ook? by Beck and Matt Stanton

Millie Loves Ants by Jackie French

Sorry Day by Coral Vass

An Aussie Year by Tania McCartney

The Easter Bunny’s Helpers by Ann Mangan

We Love School by Lucie Billingsley

Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos

Beginnings: An Australian Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Austin Sheehan

 

AWW19 TOTAL

Read: 19/30

Reviewed: 5/20

 

December’s Wish by Karly Lane

Published: 7th November 2013
Publisher:
Createspace
Pages: 182
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance Novella
★   ★ – 2 Stars

Christmas Creek is a small town struggling to stay alive but December Doyle has a plan that will breathe life back into the rural community once more.

Seth Hunter holds nothing but contempt for Christmas Creek.

After being framed and sent to jail in his youth, he returns to town a wealthy businessman with plans of his own for the town… he plans to destroy it along with everyone that ever looked down on him, including, December’s father, Jack Doyle.

Revenge brought him back, but he soon discovers that old insecurities die hard in a place that holds so many painful memories, and all the years he’d spent orchestrating his big plan hadn’t taken into account that December still owned his heart.

A story of lies, betrayal and revenge in the Australian high country. 

This is an easy read, not quite the tale of lies and revenge I was expecting and my second try at a Karly Lane story. I picked this up because I needed a Christmas story for bookclub and it was short. It wasn’t a terrible read, it is idealistic and what these novellas are: quick stories about why two people can’t be together overcoming those reasons and being together.

With novellas there is always a lot to cram in if you want to fully understand the characters involved but there was a balance between understanding who these people are and what their stories were. The Christmas theme was curious. December’s idea to make the town a tourist Christmas spot was on point for the story and very wholesome, even if it’s a little cheesy.

There is a mixture of flashbacks and present day story to show various points in the main two character’s lives. One thing that was frustrating was there was no distinction between these flashbacks and the present day. It is only there a few times but it was quite confusing for a moment thinking some things were happening in the present day. Even a page break or some formatting to clear up the confusion would be helpful.

Lane has done a decent job in giving a well-rounded understanding of these characters, even in such a short story. I liked Seth’s character even though I was perplexed by his reasons for being there. His own bitterness and spite towards the town is a fun thing to watch as he annoys everyone with his charm. His own pettiness is partly justified but also obviously deeply engrained if he is going to put this much effort into his “revenge”. December is a hard working woman who loves her town and doesn’t want to see it die. She is strong-willed and passionate and while she comes off a little innocent she is also a believer in doing the right thing.

If you are looking for an easy read with a nice happily ever after then this is a good place to start. There is charm and a slight naivety in December’s character but nothing overly off-putting. The Christmas theme was a bit cheesy but it has a small town charm as well.

December’s Wish is no longer in print but it was re-released as a full length novel re-titled Third Time Lucky

You can purchase Third Time Lucky via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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