The Week: 5th – 11th February

Friday sunset in Canberra

Australian Parliament all wrapped up in scaffolding for refurbishment yesterday afternoon.

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Kim Yuna lighting the Olympic torch.

Misty – and the end she didn’t deserve

Blind Calico Cat Canberra Australia 26th May 2017 Sonya Heaney Cute 1

We’re not a country??

Flags across the country have been lowered to honour one of Australia's former governors-general, Sir Ninian Stephen, who died on October 29. Parliament House Canberra 8th November 2017

My review of The Marquess Tames His Bride by Annie Burrows

The Marquess Tames His Bride (Brides for Bachelors) by Annie Burrows

My review of Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for Children Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

Cover Love

Carrying the Gentleman's Secret by Helen Dickson

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for Children Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet needs no introduction. Younger readers with be suitably introduced to one the greatest love stories ever to be written. Romeo and Juliet is the tragic love story of the “star-crossed lovers,” Romeo and Juliet. Set in the city of Verona, Italy, the play revolves around the feud between two affluent families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Despite the enmity, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall passionately in love and wed in secret. However, the enmity between both disapproving families overpowers and leads everything to go terribly wrong.

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

I was interested to see how someone could possibly tackle Romeo and Juliet to make it into something palatable for readers even younger than Juliet herself.

This highly condensed version of Shakespeare’s dramatic play focuses mostly on the title characters and devotes more time to the developing relationship than the death-fest that comes afterwards. There are some illustrations throughout.

In order to simplify things, some characters are changed a little. Paris is no longer some titled guy looking for a well-bred baby-maker, but is now a man who comes to the Capulet ball already knowing Juliet and in love with her. The nurse becomes some random servant in the background of the story.

I think the violent aspects of the story were explained as briefly and best as they could be for the target readers.

Still, it’s an extraordinary choice of story for a middle grade book!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

“No” evil women in fiction!

The Guardian recently ran what I consider to be a misguided article:

Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books

Perhaps Donna Ferguson, the article’s author, has missed the fact the “evil stepmother” is a trope, but there’s no “evil stepfather”. Or that “evil, jealous sisters” feature in everything from ancient literature to children’s fairy tales.

How about all those young adult and new adult books where the mothers are all evil drunkards, the villains are always villainesses in the form of jealous blonde “popular girls”, and the most common heroine trope is the one who’s “not like other girls” and therefore has no female friends?

When I think of monsters, I think of Stalin and Hitler and Putin and Trump. I think of doctors who spend twenty years freely molesting hundreds of young gymnasts. I think of a man filling a hotel room with guns and mowing down a crowd in the space of minutes. Of all the gender biases in books, how can needing more female monsters possibly be the one that matters?

Adding more evil women to fiction, when what we need is to stop demonising women, is a step in the wrong – not the right – direction.

While the other points in the article – about the lack of female characters in starring roles, and the lack of female characters who speak – are important to address, I would say fiction is already misogynistic enough.

 

Twenty Years of Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I’m a day late (it was first published on the 26th of June), but it is the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter.

I was at the end of my schooling when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out. So, I wasn’t exactly thrilled by a book craze about a little wizard boy and his magic wand, complete with cutesy illustrated covers.

I moved to London shortly afterwards, and was watching live on television when the casting for the first movie was announced. However, it was also the time the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, and I was accidentally in Leicester Square the evening of the world premiere (which meant I got to watch all the red carpet arrivals, even though half of them weren’t famous yet – Orlando Bloom? Viggo Mortensen? Who’re they?!).

The media in England set up a fan war between the two franchises, with plenty of British newspapers printing long lists of “evidence” J. K. Rowling plagiarised J. R. R. Tolkien. I believed it at the time; not anymore.

Eventually, my boss made a deal with me: she’d read my Lord of the Rings books if I gave Harry Potter a chance. I was about twenty, and not that interested, but in the end I did actually enjoy them (though I never finished the series).

Viktor Krum Harry Potter Movies

My favourite character was that Bulgarian (? – Hungarian?) wizard guy who was Hermione’s boyfriend for about three seconds. I wanted them to end up together!

My boss HATED The Lord of the Rings (I don’t really blame her); she couldn’t get past the first twenty-thousand pages describing all the Hobbits. I didn’t hold it against her that she didn’t finish.

So, I’m no Harry Potter fangirl, but this was definitely an important Book-World anniversary to mark. We need another quality book franchise for the next generation. Maybe next time everyone won’t be raging misogynists and will let the female author publish under her real – feminine – name.

Follow-up on Mem Fox

Mem Fox on being detained by US immigration

Mem Fox on being detained by US immigration 'In that moment I loathed America'

ABC: Mem Fox says she will never return to US after being interrogated

‘Do you think you will ever return to the US?’ asked host Tom Ballard.

‘I won’t. Absolutely not. It wouldn’t be safe for me to do so. I don’t think I’d be allowed in,’ Fox said.

‘I’d faint in the immigration queue. I couldn’t even stand in the immigration queue. I would just faint with fear.’

The Washington Post’s take: Beloved children’s author speaks out about her detainment at U.S. airport

Because I was travelling when news came out about world-famous Australian author Mem Fox’s horrific experience with US immigration when she was travelling to a book conference last month, it was a little hard to keep up with it all.

However, I’ve belatedly come across an extended, detailed version of what happened not only to her, but to the other people with her who were pulled aside and interrogated at the airport in Los Angeles.

A must-read for Trump supporters who seem to think his policies are making America ‘great’.

Mem Fox gets apology after US detention

This is becoming ridiculous. People in the US probably aren’t aware that – for foreigners – entering America has been an intimidating experience since the George W Bush days. People have to be fingerprinted and photographed like criminals if they want to come for a holiday.

Now though, under Trump, the power has gone to people’s heads. Because it doesn’t affect them, many in the US probably don’t realise how bad it is.

When famous, seventy-year-old children’s authors are being treated like this…?!

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http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/mem-fox-gets-apology-after-us-detention/news-story/13b97e9343e6f275507081827af33eac

Best-selling Australian author Mem Fox may never return to the United States after being detained by immigration officials at Los Angeles Airport, saying she has never been “treated with such disdain”.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby. And I’m 70 years old,” she told the ABC.

Fox has received an apology after lodging complaints with the Australian embassy in Washington and the United States embassy in Canberra.

However she says she is unlikely to return to America after the experience earlier this month.

She told the ABC she was questioned for two hours by customs officers who appeared to have been given “turbocharged power” by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” she said.

possum-magic

Fox is the author of several best-selling children’s books including Possum Magic, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Wombat Divine and Where is the Green Sheep?

Best of 2016

I get the impression I’m missing out on a lot of good books in my attempts to keep up with my review books! However, I did get to read some fantastic books by some of my favourite authors this year.

Yet again, I read more historical fiction than I intended to. I wonder if this is something that will ever change!

In no particular order, here are my favourite reads of 2016:

Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterborne (2016) by Lisa Kleypas

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club #2) by Joanna Shupe

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club #2) by Joanna Shupe

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters #4) by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

How to Rescue a Rake (Book Club Belles Society #3) by Jayne Fresina

How to Rescue a Rake (Book Club Belles Society #3) by Jayne Fresina

Sister of Mine: A Novel by Sabra Waldfogel

Sister of Mine A Novel by Sabra Waldfogel

Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen

(Yes, I enjoyed this Middle Grade book enough to buy a copy after finishing my ARC!)

kiss-kiss-bark-by-kim-williams-justesen

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club 0.5) by Joanna Shupe

Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club 0.5) by Joanna Shupe

The Dare and the Doctor (Winner Takes All #3) by Kate Noble

the-dare-and-the-doctor-winner-takes-all-3-by-kate-noble

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night (Winner Takes All #2.5) by Kate Noble

Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night (Winner Takes All #2.5) by Kate Noble

Someone to Love (Westcott #1) by Mary Balogh

someone-to-love-westcott-1-by-mary-balogh-australian-cover

Plus, one that isn’t out until next month, but I have already read and enjoyed:

mogul-the-knickerbocker-club-3-by-joanna-shupe